Question of the Day

Do you buy anything from the snack bar when you go to the movies?

I buy a small popcorn but smuggle in my M&Ms (M&Ms with a popcorn chaser makes my tastebuds do a happy dance) and a bottle of water. I gave up soda last year and I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend 5 bucks on dihydrogen monoxide.

I’d probably skip the popcorn altogether if I went to the movies on a regular basis but as it is I go once every 2-3 months.

Scientists say they have solution to TSA scanner objections

From the Washington Post:

A cheap and simple fix in the computer software of new airport scanners could silence the uproar from travelers who object to the so-called virtual strip search, according to a scientist who helped develop the program at one of the federal government’s most prestigious institutes.

The researcher, associated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, said he was rebuffed when he offered the concept to Department of Homeland Security officials four years ago.

The fix would distort the images captured on full-body scanners so they look like reflections in a fun-house mirror, but any potentially dangerous objects would be clearly revealed, said Willard “Bill” Wattenburg, a former nuclear weapons designer at the Livermore lab. The scanners normally produce real-time outlines of the naked human body, and the Transportation Security Administration has been embroiled in controversy since installation of the new scanners began last month.

“Why not just distort the image into something grotesque so that there isn’t anything titillating or exciting about it?” Wattenburg said.

Like a fun-house mirror with radiation! Woo hoo!

Calif. prosecutors Say They’ll Charge TSA Agents if Pat-Downs Are Inappropriate

From The Montreal Gazette:

As nearly 2 million holiday travelers pack Bay Area airports starting Friday, local prosecutors have a warning for overzealous security agents performing the new federal pat-down: touch passengers the wrong way, and we’ll throw you in jail.

Although authorities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties said they have not received any criminal complaints since the pat-downs began this month, the searches can involve touching of the genital and breast areas, which critics say is akin to sexual assault.

The Transportation Security Administration says the pat-downs are rare and most commonly used when travelers opt not to travel through the full-body X-ray scanners, which reveal what is underneath passengers’ clothes and are used at all three Bay Area airports. Passengers who refuse both options would not be allowed to travel and the TSA could even fine them up to $11,000 if they delay other passengers.

The San Mateo and Santa Clara district attorneys’ offices said Wednesday that they would bring charges against TSA agents at San Francisco and San Jose airports, respectively, who commit sexual crimes during searches. They said charges would be evaluated case by case and that prosecutors would take into account the fact that the agents were doing a job.