Thursday, August 29, 2002

Bumperstickers Uber Alles!

I got my "Impeach Norm Mineta" bumperstickers today, and they're great, but I can't get over the feeling that they're somewhat outside the mainstream of automotive-borne political expression...


Wednesday, August 28, 2002

It's Light Posting Week!

Or at least, it should be. That way I could feel better about not having written anything here for the past few days. Blame it on project deadlines. Or perhaps a long bender. Sometimes they feel about the same.

Anyway, if you're feeling anxious to read something in the meantime, I'd like to offer this excellent essay by David Brin. It encapsulates much of the spirit of what we have been trying to do here at Happy Fun Pundit, putting a smiley face back on the politics and ideas of freedom.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

l337 5cr33|\|Ors!

(that's hacker-lingo for "Elite Screeners"). The SF Chronicle reveals that

Dozens of members of an elite team of federal airport screeners received as little as 15 minutes' training before starting to inspect baggage for bombs


The screeners are part of the "Transportation Security Administration's Mobile Screening Force", this apparently being the TSA's answer to the Green Berets, SEALs, and Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, all rolled together into one elite baggage screening force. In their HQ satellite orbiting high above planet Earth they dwell, their skills honed to a fine edge by continual training, waiting grimly for the call "We've got an uninspected pullman on the Boston-DC shuttle, STAT!". Swinging quickly into action at a second's notice, they slide down the Screener Pole to their noble steeds, each man and woman ready to inspect baggage whenever and wherever needed. They are: MOBILE SCREENING FORCE! (trumpet blare)

Or not.

According to the Chron, some of these cats, who are supposed to implement the 100% checked-baggage screening mandated by Congress, have received all of 15 minutes' training, falling somewhat short of the 100 hours required by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. But it's OK:

TSA officials have acknowledged that some Mobile Screening Force members have received "abbreviated" training to do baggage screening, but they insist that because the screeners have expert supervisors and never make independent decisions, the shortened training does not violate the law.

Phew. They don't make independent decisions, they just... well, do stuff. Security stuff. And ask their supervisor a lot of questions. "Hey boss? This bag smells like eggs and it's making a tick-tick-tick noise. What should I do?" Presumably the fifteen minutes of training is devoted to always keeping your body between the luggage and the expensive explosives-sniffing machine (and presumably the supervisor as well).

Note also recent articles about undertrained and underutilized air marshalls, and fear for the future of air travel, Norm Mineta-style. And look for these headlines:

14 YEAR OLD AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER DISCOVERED AT O'HARE
"Teenager hired on basis of Resident Evil high scores"


737 CRASHES AT LAX AFTER PILOT ATTEMPTS TO REBOOT AIRCRAFT
Hours of Microsoft Flight Sim deemed sufficient training


KINDERGARTENERS RECRUITED AS SCREENERS
Mineta lobbies Congress for $1.2 billion milk and cookie budget

Sometimes I don't know what I'd write about if it weren't for Norman Mineta and his braindead lackies... but seriously, why does this guy still have a job? How many times does the idiot have to get caught in contempt of Congress (not to mention America, at least the part thereof that still does air travel) before he gets a pink slip? I've never put a bumpersticker on my car before, but these are strange times: I've ordered three "Impeach Norm Mineta" stickers.