Friday, November 19, 2010

Airline pilots, politicians won't get scanned or groped, TSA says

WASHINGTON, D.C., USSA - The Transportation Safety Administration - a misnomer if there ever was one - has decreed that for now, airline pilots will not have to go through the same security screenings as passengers.

After being pressured by the pilots' union, the TSA backed off on requiring them to go through the hoops that many thousands of airline passengers go through every day.

Here's the story in the San Francisco Chronicle: Pilots go through untouched

This is not an argument that pilots should have to have full body scans or get groped by poorly paid TSA gate workers who are likely as grossed out by the body searches as the searchees. (In most states, the pat down as performed by TSA agents could get them arrested for sex crimes...)

No, the argument is no one should have to go through this newest level of 'security'.

Charles Krauthammer, hardly my favorite columnist, had it right today when he wrote:

"The ultimate idiocy is the full-body screening of the pilot. The pilot doesn't need a bomb or box cutter to bring down a plane. All he has to do is drive it into the water, like the EgyptAir pilot who crashed his plane off Nantucket while intoning "I rely on God," killing all on board."

Exactly.  Now that that particular idiocy has been resolved, why not realize that it's idiocy to do these new security measures with three-year-old children, senior citizens pushing walkers, wheelchair bound passengers and, and, and...

Krauthammer will no doubt be pilloried for this comment:

"The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling - when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches."

Ah those strollers!

To paraphrase the late Art Linkletter: Kids do the darnest things.

You can add D.C. politicians to the list of people who can avoid the screenings, too: No patting the politicians

And Slate magazine asks the right question at this link: Does the TSA EVER catch terrorists?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adios, Rick Kushman - Bee readers hope for a sequel

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Next week Rick Kushman will walk out the door of The Sacramento Bee newspaper after a great run as a reporter and columnist.

In the last couple of years, Rick has been a real go-to guy for The Bee, a survivor of several rounds of layoffs and down-sizings brought on by a combination of incredibly bad planning on the part of the managers of The Bee and a near free-fall decline in print advertising revenues.

Rick Kushman
Rick's plans? A book for sure is in the works. Some teaching, too, probably. But who knows? He's a talented guy who started to outgrow The Bee several years ago but stayed for all the obvious reasons: a good job, loyalty, a great schedule.

Outgrew The Bee?


 Rick had a loyal following as a TV columnist for years and did an excellent job with that column. He also contributed other stories. But it was his TV commentary that drew readers - lot of readers. It was a colossal blunder to remove him from that, a blunder I wrote about more than a year ago when it happened: No more Rick the TV guy.

Now Rick is joining the talent exodus from The Bee, a talent exodus that is coming at a time when this city really needs a good daily newspaper - and writers who readers can connect to.

Rick has the kind of personality that lends itself to an emerging brand of personal journalism that is fast becoming the standard in the publishing business.

If Rick were to start an on-line TV critic blog, I would sign up right away. In fact, everyone reading this should email him and tell him that would be a good idea:

Rick's leaving The Bee leaves another hole in the lineup of a news team whose bench is getting shallower every month it seems.

Bon voyage Rick. Fans will be watching for a blockbuster career sequel. Maybe he will write the screenplay for a film starting Paul Giamatti: Sideways Again.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A review of the book Freedom, but 'FreedomTM'

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - A book titled Freedom by Jonathan Franzen has been grabbing headlines for months, even making Oprah swoon over it. And I have picked Freedom up several times to read (usually at Costco while avoiding grocery shopping). But for now I am waiting patiently for it to show up on the public library shelves here.

That might happen by 2012, the librarians tell me. It's a pretty popular book.

But while waiting, I just finished a book by Daniel Suarez also called Freedom  (its full title is FreedomTM, as in trademark), a science fiction thriller that is all-to-close to reality. Actually close to several realities.
Daniel Suarez

It's an eco-thriller with government/corporation conspiracies mixed in with near-future high tech wonders and what we could call video games.

But the video game in this book is no game. What goes on in something called the darknet is deadly serious for all concerned.

The book is believable and frightening, both on the techno level and the idea that corporations have a tight web of conspiracy in place, essentially running everything - and caring nothing for human beings.

Does that sound at all familiar?

The first book in this series, called Daemon, is supposed to be excellent, too, and should be read before FreedomTM.

But because I have already read the second volume, I am going to wait for Suarez to do another book about the darknet.

I know it's out there, even if I don't have the technology to see it. Not yet, anyway.