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[PUBLIC] Traveling In The New World - The Cover Story
October 2013
 
 
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Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 11:15 am
[PUBLIC] Traveling In The New World

Last night juldea went out of her way to ask me how I felt about the "new" TSA scanning regulations. The short answer is that I've been living with the backscatter and millimeter wave machines for months now, and they do annoy me, but not for the reasons they seem to be annoying everybody else.

When I come to a metal detector, my carry-on bag is configured to meet TSA regulations. In the absence of other passengers ahead of me, I can go from standing with my bag on my shoulder to unpacked, barefoot, properly sorted, through the metal detector and x-ray machine and packed back up on the other side in under 30 seconds. I recognize that business travelers are somewhat anomalous in this regard, but if you did it a couple times a week, you would be, too.

What irritates me about the millimeter wave and the backscatters isn't that somebody's looking at me "naked" (seriously, have any of you actually seen these pictures? Its like a Ken Doll with an unshippable manufacturing defect,) it's that they require you to empty your pockets. The first time I went through a MMW, they picked out a pair of Foam Brain six-siders buried so far down my pocket I hadn't felt them there. They require me to remove my wallet, my passport, any pens that I'm carrying, all the items that I carefully selected to be capable of passing through a metal-detector unimpeded. The first time I had to deal with one of these, my carefully-shaved through-time jumped to over a minute. Its lower now, but still half again slower than it was.

I agree whole-heartedly that security screening is overblown and ineffective at this stage. I would gladly accept a 100x or even 1000x greater chance of my aircraft being a target of a terrorist than have to go through security screen several times a week. I do not think, however, that people are realizing the full implications of what they're suggesting when they think its a good idea to opt out of backscatter or MMW. They're right -- it will slow down screening at the checkpoints and it will tax the resources of the gate employees. What it will also do, however, it quadruples the processing time of the people involved. I certainly have seen people opt out in my regular day-to-day flying, and that's swell, but if a single-digit percentage of the flying public starts doing it, the second-order effects are going to have a huge impact. They're going to screw over your fellow travelers.

Planes at the gate don't wait for everybody who's checked in to board. They leave when they are scheduled to. If you're still standing in a security line because the travelers ahead of you decided to tie up all the TSA folks by demanding personal screening, getting through that 300-person security line on Wednesday is going to take nearly a minute a person, plus all the families with baby strollers, people with bags the size of Volkswagens, and morons who put their laptop in the bottom of their rollaboards. One or two the line can surge around, but there comes a point of congestion. The practical upshot is simple: missed flights.

The airline carriage contracts aren't affected. They get their money as soon as you check in -- if you didn't have the foresight to leave enough time to get to your plane, its not their problem. In fact, you're helping the airlines by keeping paying passengers off their planes and reducing the fuel cost. The TSA gets paid the same whether they process 60,000 passengers or 6,000 in a day. Technically speaking, they report to the airport, not the airline, but nobody I've seen is raging at MassPort so far. Finally, you stand the risk of being arrested.

By opting out of scans this week, you aren't hurting the airlines, or the TSA, or the airports. You are screwing over your fellow passengers who are trying to get to Grandma's, or their client site, or their friends, or just trying to get home. You will be responsible for people missing flights, flights that can't be easily replaced. During the holidays, the next available seat may be days aways (just ask rgfgompei.) You don't punch somebody in the face before asking them to sign a healthcare petition, so why would you make them miss their flight and then ask them to vote for travel security reform? I agree that procedures need to change, and that the current security theatre is broken, but the people you're going to be hurting are exactly the people you need to change the rules in a democracy: the public.

I humbly suggest you don't go pissing them off.

Tags: ,
Current Location: Waltham, MA
Current Mood: distressed distressed

22CommentReplyShare

etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)

This is exactly the same line of argument that ends with "Striking only hurts your customers, so put up with whatever pay your boss deigns to give you - wanting anything better is just plain evil".


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)

I understand that there are people who will do this on principle anyways, but I felt compelled to dispel some of the mistaken impressions I had seen about how opting out of radiation screening would impact the TSA checkpoints and those they report to. The point is that here the massive portion of the immediate impact goes directly into the traveling public. If you're OK with that, and feel that that is an acceptable price to pay for what you're attempting to accomplish, go for it. I just want to make it clear to those who might otherwise be confused what the direct impact of such an action is.


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breakinglight11
breakinglight11
Phoebe
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)

"seriously, have any of you actually seen these pictures? Its like a Ken Doll with an unshippable manufacturing defect"

Thanks for pointing this out. So many people were bitching about them "seeing you naked" that I was beginning to think that maybe I was under the wrong impression that there is not nearly such definition on the scanner screens. Yeah, the delay is a pain, but call it what it is-- nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.


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sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)

Examples, for anyone unfamiliar:
http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/08/imaging-technolgy-bigger-picture.html


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

And yet some of them have been treating it like it's a peep show.


ReplyThread Parent
breakinglight11
breakinglight11
Phoebe
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

You can treat seeing me fully clothed like a peep show if you want. It doesn't change what of me you're actually seeing.


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

The point is, whether these machines are invasive or not, some TSA workers are using them to violate you.


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breakinglight11
breakinglight11
Phoebe
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

Then maybe those TSA agents are at fault and should be punished. I think these machines are stupid, but if you're going to lay blame about misuse, you need to blame the misuser and not the tool they're misusing.


ReplyThread Parent
etherial
etherial
Gregory Pettigrew
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

I would love it if these things were just idly scanning people as they walked down the airport hallway and flagging suspicious folks. That would be legal and non-invasive. But alas, they're not. They're the TSA's latest weapon in fear and control.


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mariaklob
That gorgeous vixen
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

I disagree. The tool they're misusing has little if any marginal utility, but gives a much greater opportunity for being an abusive douchebag. There is a point beyond which you're doing nothing but assisting the douchebags.

If you punish the wrongdoers but keep giving progressively more...detailed...opportunities for abuse, you're doing it wrong. If, like the TSA, you're not punishing wrongdoers and you keep giving more detailed opportunities, you don't deserve to be operating.


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mariaklob
That gorgeous vixen
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

There appears to be a perception amidst TSA jackasses that this is an opportunity to comment on penis sizes, breasts, and the general joy of staring at pretty female forms. Jackasses will be jackasses no matter what, but as they devote more time and detail to each individual, I'm gonna feel more and more violated.

Doctors get to examine my body. Police officers, if I have been detained on probable cause of armed wrongdoing. Clothing fitters. My husband. That's it. There is no reason I should tolerate "security" goons examining my shape like that.


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

This helps clarify why I don't understand the arguments regarding this technology. The concept of somebody giggling at how fat I am, or the size of my genitalia, or the way I stand doesn't really bother me in person, let alone doing so in a dark room where I will never learn about it. Supposing there are people who are sufficiently psychic to detect the waves of glee emanating from across the concourse, they might well feel embarrassed. Flipping out on the idea that somebody might be commenting to their partner about what they're seeing during their utterly joyless shift beyond the ears of anybody involved seems to me to be making a mountain out of a molehill at best.


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breakinglight11
breakinglight11
Phoebe
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

Besides, there are always going to be dickheads making fun of fat people, unattractive people, whatever, and always other dickheads ogling hot people. They're probably going to do that to people anyway, regardless of whether or not there's an alien-looking image on a scanner.


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mariaklob
That gorgeous vixen
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

Yet somehow, people keep reporting instances of *hearing* fine commentary from staffers who feel that if somebody else has license to stare in a separate room, they have license to leer in the same room.

I don't want people staring at me and evaluating my body shape. I don't want to know about it if they do so, and I certainly don't want to step into a lil' chamber for the express purpose of getting a once-over in a situation where I haven't done anything wrong. I'm sick of unsolicited feedback about my form. I was sick of it by the time I was twelve years old. I don't care if 99% of the screeners move on after running two neurons on the problem of "do I look suspicious," I am not okay with establishing the presumption that my body is fair game for casual examination by authority figures.


ReplyThread Parent
breakinglight11
breakinglight11
Phoebe
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

"I don't want people staring at me and evaluating my body shape."

Then you'd better wear a full-length cardboard box everywhere you go. It happens everywhere, all the time, with or without a scanner, and has since the beginning of time. Even when they quite appropriately don't say it, they're thinking it.

I respect your feelings, and I'm sorry you have to endure this if it offends you so much. But you have to put it in perspective. It's not like they can see that much more about you from those Ken-doll-alien pictures than they can any other way. Are you really so much more on display than you are at any other minute of your social interaction with other humans?

Edited at 2010-11-22 05:46 pm (UTC)


ReplyThread Parent
mariaklob
That gorgeous vixen
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

"Are you really so much more on display than you are at any other minute of your social interaction with other humans?"

When I am ordered to remove my shoes, coat, any shapeless jacket, and belt, then stand with my legs spread and my hands above my head? Yes, yes I am more on display.

I disagree with the people who are calling this a second Stanford Prison Experiment (and yes, I've seen that exact comparison out there), but I am vehemently opposed to allowing these procedures. Men will check me out. That will happen. Men who have the authority to order me to start removing my clothing, and who furthermore have the authority to sequester me in unmonitored rooms at will, should not be given additional tools of questionable practical application.


ReplyThread Parent
contradictacat
contradictacat
Diana
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

You know what they can see on those scanners, though? If you're pre- or non-op trans, everything that ruins your presentation. And better yet, since they're trained to look for something that seems "off", seeing things such as a pack or prostheses might very well open up a transperson to a whole mess of problems. Problems they wouldn't have with a standard metal detector/back of the hand pat down. They may pass as their chosen gender perfectly to the casual observer. This forces them into a possibly highly problematic situation for very little to no additional "security".

Just because there will be assholes everywhere doesn't mean that people should be giving them more and more chances to be assholes, which these new "security measures" do.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

I think we are in violent agreement that the MMW's and backscatters should go, even if for different sets of reasons.


ReplyThread Parent
londo
londo
A fool who should know better
Mon, Nov. 22nd, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
Re: nobody behind the scanner is getting to look at you naked.

Should I bring a roll of quarters the next time I see you?


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Tue, Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)

It depends on which machine. My friend jessiehl works with millimeter wave machines, and she said it's wrinkles-on-the-scrotum detailed. The backscatter machines are much less detailed. (She posts about it here: http://jessiehl.livejournal.com/204955.html)


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Tue, Nov. 23rd, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)

I would like to point out that I did not say "new" at any point. I said, "What are your thoughts on the TSA?" I find this to be an important distinction, especially when I know the tone in which you're using those quotation marks.

Edited at 2010-11-23 01:17 am (UTC)


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Tue, Nov. 23rd, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)

That is true.


ReplyThread Parent