Some journalists still inspire you


Miles O’Brien has always been one of my favorite science reporters and I was sorry to hear about the loss of his left arm.

You know he’s going to get through it but it’s horrific that this could happen to him. Give a few minutes and see his interview on PBS NewsHour. It’s great to see him moving forward and explain his phantom pain and what he’s going through.

His Contaminated Waters report is informative and I look forward to seeing what he produces next.

Arizona shooting

Not a good week for Arizona.

“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately Arizona I think is the capital. We are the Mecca for prejudice for prejudice and bigotry,”

via ABC News: Police Hunt for ‘Person of Interest’ in Tucson Shooting

Yesterday a deranged murderer interrupted a gathering arranged by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She was shot and is in critical condition. 6 innocent people were killed including a 9-year-old child.

The Not-Our-Fault reverse blame game started immediately. Some shrieking radical right-wing blogs wasted no time declaring that the shooter was not one of theirs. This always starts with “the victims are in our prayers” but degenerates into “the left are scum”. This is not a surprise since I rarely come across a conservative blog that’s not a radical pool of nuts. Some of the sites I frequent were actually subdued. The commentators? Not so much.

That doesn’t surprise me. Blog comments are easy and do attract the radical fringe.

Naturally, many people are pointing the finger at the half-term governor. I think that’s only partially correct. When you have political protests and people talk about armed insurrection, they’re culpable for atrocities like this one. The half-term governor is more at fault because she claims to be a leader.

Leaders take responsibility, so except for some quaint statements I’m not anticipating much from her.

You can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater and claim no responsibility when someone get’s trampled in a stampede. That the shooter may not be Tea Party inspired doesn’t change the fact that they were encouraging people to do this.

Do you think if this happens again, the radicals will stand up and say “yep, that one was ours. Here’s his membership card.” Also, why is this not being called a terrorist act?

I’m just asking. Don’t worry, I don’t like to incite violence either.

Election 2010

Today, like so many people, I voted once again. This year I am not making my usual joke about vote early and vote often.

This mid-term election has been brutal to watch on a national level. There is a lot of anger about the economy, about the wars, and about politics. And as usual, there are people who take advantage of that and stoke that anger.

Locally it has not been that bad, but the Tea Party candidates concern me. In NY we have Carl Paladino who is a businessman and unrepentant character. Good for him! But that wont get him elected to political office. Anger is not a solution and this state has some serious problems. After tonight I hope Carl starts a reality TV program.

In Nevada Sharron Angle is running against Harry Reid. Good luck Harry, you need it. From Mrs. Angle’s comments, political ads, and speeches, I think I can honestly say that Nevada maybe getting a proven racist and fear monger.

In Alaska She Who Quits anointed Joe Miller to replace Lisa Murkowski. He admires East German border guards and unleashes well dressed thugs on reporters. Okay, the Quitter really dislike Murkowski but honestly does she think she can ride Joe Miller’s coattail to the presidency in 2012?

In Kentucky they have Rand Paul. I don’t have anything negative to say about Rand Paul and like Scott Brown I don’t think he’s really a Tea Party candidate. He won the primary and is running a campaign. The head stomping event was ugly and the assailant has been charged with a crime. But aside from some ideas of his that I think are odd, he may make a fine Senator.

Christine O’Donnell. What can you say about her that has not been well documented already? I hope that after the election she can find meaningful employment. She’s got a lot of debts and that’s not funny.

I am comfortable with the GOP regaining the House. If they also overtake the Senate then we can expect 3 more years of do-nothing with witch hunt committees tossed in. But I’m okay with that too, it’s not the end of the world.

But I do hope the Tea Party candidates lose big. There is only so much bile this country can take.

Have you ever caught anyone or anything?

Next time you go to an airport, see if they ask you to step behind a screen to disrobe. Bending down and touching your toes while naked may be optional.

Also the goon examining you? Don’t worry, he promises to not keep that photo he just took with his cell phone of you. You can be assured, if the TSA does catch the alleged offender, they promise that nothing will happen to that person, no one will ever hear about it, and there will be no investigation.

Don’t worry, this always worked in the movies

Years ago, after 9/11, buildings that I worked in had installed airport style x-ray machines. When you came in you put your bag on a conveyor and ran it through the machine. Bored security guards would look and pretend to be interested. I don’t recall 100% but I don’t think you had to run your coat though the machine.

I’m a friendly talkative guys and I got to know the security guards. I stood next to them, saw what they saw while they did their work and when no one was around I just asked them: did you ever find any weapons or anything illegal?

They never caught a thing. I asked them because occasionally even night club security will turn up knives and small-caliber handguns. No joke, while the machines were there they x-rayed thousands of bags and never had one hit.

But there was a press conference so it must work

For many companies the x-ray machines were not about security. Those companies got a significant discount on their building insurance just for having them. Those machines were part of a profit center. Since I no longer have to do this (for years), I’m guessing that the insurance companies wised up to the scam.

The full body scanners installed in JFK are just like that except there is no discount to the airlines, consumers, or airport. It’s one of those things done to advance the idea of Security Theater and does not do a thing to make traveling by airplane safer. It’s not as ridiculous as the bottled water ban (seriously, bad guys wont be able to sell “compromised” water in the concession stands?) but it sure is more expensive.

What makes this more offensive is that to pass through this is to submit to a strip search. The TSA can (and does) dress this up as something else but that’s what it is. Every time you submit to this you are permitting yourself to be strip searched.

It doesn’t matter that their survey show that 98% of the passengers opted to be x-rayed instead of physically molested by untrained guards. The reason it does not matter is that the survey only reflects the passengers desire to get past the security theater portion of their trip quickly.

The TSA respects your rights, now shut up and get in line

NOTE: I would easily wager that 98% of the TSA staff at the airports are professional, polite, and patient. Except for seeing my wife and all other Asians randomly racially profiled in Dallas again, I expect to meet and deal with more TSA professionals. But I also expect to encounter that 2% and strip searches sure wont help.

Here are some questions that would be nice to have answered by example.

  1. What protections does the TSA provide/implement to prevent abuse?
  2. What are the penalties for the convicted abusers?
  3. What is the TSA’s success rate, their hit/miss ratio?
  4. If anyone can opt out (and I hope many do) how will the TSA penalize the people who opted out?
  5. Will opt-outs be accidentally be required to miss their plane?

I won’t submit to a strip search and will not let them scan my children either. If I get physically assaulted patted down by a screener what remedy do I have besides none?

The TSA security guards are not law enforcement, they are not trained police officers. I don’t care how emboldened their TSA shoulder patch makes them feel, they are the equivalent of bank guards.

Why would the Chinese do that?

Reading the NY Times Editorial this morning made me shake my head.

China, which has abetted its neighbor’s excesses for too long, needs to ensure that the North’s bluster is only bluster. And it needs to tone down its own.

via Editorial – North Korea’s Latest Tantrum –

The North Korean government has successfully turned the carrot and stick idea on its head. Kim Jong-Il has successfully become the James Bond villain and knows that he’ll get more food, more fuel, or just more money.

While the Chinese government may be embarrassed by their neighbor’s behavior, there is not much reason for them to flex their muscle. Stability in the region is important but while it is the U.S. interests that does not translate into the interests of the Chinese government.

I do agree that the Chinese government could get involved differently, I just don’t believe they’ll do so because the west wants them to.

These people need to get arrested

Honestly, some people do need to be made into an object lesson.

The couple’s lawyer, Paul W. Gardner of Baltimore, asserts that the Salahis had been “cleared, by the White House,” to be at the event, and so were not really “crashing.” Mr. Gardner declined a request to elaborate on his assertion.

But a Secret Service spokesman, James Mackin, said he had no idea how Mr. Gardner could make such a claim.

via Salahis, White House Dinner Crashers, Met the Obamas –

When the Balloon Boy’s dad pulled off his stunt, it was clearly because he wanted to get back onto TV. His need for publicity outweighed his need to not make a spectacle of his family. I do not know what the parents punishment will be, but I guarantee that they’ll claim the state is hurting their children. It’s just what you would expect from two people who have abdicated their own responsibility for raising their children.

Now we have these two try-outs for the Real Housewives of DC (which one is the housewife?) who sneaked into a state dinner under false pretenses. Apparently they took the Bravo film crew up to the gates of the Whitehouse.

Since I have no reason to doubt the now embarrassed Secret Service I can only conclude one thing: they lied and maneuvered their way in. They did not have an invitation, period. Whatever that comes under, trespassing, giving misleading information to a federal official, etc. these two need to spend some time in jail if only to discourage other fame wannabes.

The most important election was decided last night

This morning I heard the results of an election I was following: NY-23 went to Bill Owens.

Just to be clear, NY-23 is a district that is on the Canadian border and except for it being a special election it was no big deal. What made it a big deal is that when a moderate was selected to be the Republican candidate, prominent national Republican groups went ape. So the other Republican candidate ran on the conservative ticket and trashed Dede Scozzafava. And of course these prominent national figures played the “Purge the Party! Get rid of all the RINOs!” song.

Toss in President Obama’s name and you get people around the country weighing in just for the press (yes I do mean that Alaskan Quitter and professional public speaker).

So now Bill Owens is going to represent NY-23. The Republicans will keep going after their loyalty oath and any moderates in the national spotlight will have to change their spots or lose any hope of getting re-elected. Any chance of these geniuses getting it is out the window.

This is not a gun totting white-christian only country. Most people I know are moderates. It’s just that the radicals on both side of the aisle get most of the press. I don’t want a radical government from either side, I want one that will actually solve problems without violating the law or sacrifice the constitution for security. This name calling and purging of people in the middle is just plain stupid.