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11-27-10 - Contemplating Airport Scans and Pat-downs

On Thanksgiving, ten of us gathered in the now insulated and sheet-rocked barn abode (thanks Clay, Howie, Todd) and ate a traditional and palate pleasing meal thanks to the hard work and culinary skills of Katrinka and Mary Cunov and the lucky pots and platters brought by others. And we talked a lot.  Some of us have plans to be flying in the near future and so, naturally, the topic of the new airport security measures came up. People seemed more concerned about radiation than the pat-downs which I've heard on NPR (who Roger Ailes called Nazis recently - and that after the march to restore sanity or keep up the fear) are more intrusive than what police do when they arrest someone.

While writing this I just did a brief search on the Web and found that the government says that the amount of radiation used in their "backscatter system" scanners, is harmless but, having delved into the matter of low-level radiation and what people in government departments, institutions, and jobs (including dentists) that involve radiation have to say I am not inclined to trust. Here's a short report on Medical News Today which does say that the amount of radiation is extremely low - like what you get in three quarters of an hour normally from just being on earth - but the researcher who reports that also says he won't use them because he doesn't know what the chances of a jam are and a jam could be bad. I remember Dr. John Gofman, noted authority on low-level radiation and the dangers thereof - but strange to me, he was not opposed to the US role in the nuclear arms race. I used to talk to him at Greens restaurant and even went to some of his classes. He was Rick Levine's advisor or something when Rick was in medical school. And this brings to mind Stuart Brand's recent reasonable seeming support of nuclear power and opinion that low levels of radiation are beneficial, actually prevent cancer. He sites a study done in Japan. Who knows? Anyway, I remain skeptical on it all but it wouldn't bother me to go through the scanner.

However, the conversation moved on to the more tactile option - the pat-down. Howie said it's only going to be so long before someone gets caught with an explosive devise in their anus and then those who refuse the scanner will have to get full body cavity searches. Then we started talking about what type of people would pat you down and who would you want to pat you down if you had a choice.

I remembered a Pacifica Radio interview with a representative from an Arizona Tea Party group called something like Americans for Prosperity wherein the interviewee proposed that airport security checks be privatized like pre 9-11. It was pointed out that they'd have to follow the same TSA procedures and he said that's okay and private enterprise could do that better than government.

So we talked about the feasibility of forming a business to do airport security checks, the pat-down part anyway, and we thought that we would do just as good a job as is being done today except that we would tailor the pat-downs to the particular passenger. For some men I know Southeast Asian women would be the first choice. For me there would of course just be Katrinka whom I would sign on for one this customer only. I can envision a man who would ask for a large domineering woman with a tendency to be abusive. I have an ex whom I bet would like a William Hurt look-alike. I'm sure some women would want another woman, an understanding one with a good scanner-side manner. We'd have various types of pat-down professionals for various types of fliers. And people would be able to call ahead with special requests. I was asked what type I'd want to pat down and said I'd stick to administration. Barbara, seated to my right at the dinner table (once owned by the Grateful Dead, somehow ending up in Katrinka's hands) expressed an interest in becoming a Security Anal Probe Specialist. 

Which reminds me - time to make an appointment for that colonoscopy.

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