A boarding pass is not probable cause

Below is the letter I sent to our Congressional representative, Michael C. Burgess. I totally ripped it off from my friend Tom, tweaking it slightly. You are welcome to copy either of ours if you feel similarly about the TSA’s new search policies.

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To The Honorable Michael C. Burgess
As Congress comes back into session, I encourage you to use your position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to change the policy enacted concerning the Transportation Safety Administration’s use of millimeter wave technology in the screening of passengers. These devices represent an unnecessary invasion of privacy as part of security procedures, and aren’t making anyone safer.
While I appreciate the need to try to make airports more secure, these scanners show images of a patron’s naked body to the TSA in order to do it. Worse, if you decide to opt out of the scanners for personal privacy reasons, or for concern over radiation exposure, you’re subject to a very intimate patdown that allows the TSA to touch the genital regions of a patron, out of nothing short of retaliation.
This is patently unacceptable. The choices you have to make if you take your family traveling is that you can have their genitals leered at by TSA officers (one such example of bad behavior includes a pilot’s 18 year old daughter: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html ) or you can have them fondled. Or you can refuse both, and, even if volunteering to go through the normal metal detector, be escorted from the airport: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html.
Which would you choose?
The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, which you have sworn to uphold and defend against powers foreign and domestic, says that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
A boarding pass is not probable cause to have my person searched in such a fashion.
This is a bridge too far. A functioning travel network is crucial to a free society, and to have to show one’s genitals to the TSA, or allow them to be groped, in order to travel is the sort of unnecessary restriction on one’s liberty, and in exchange for no increase in security (these devices, and these patdowns, do not show hidden packages that could be contained in body cavities, which is the next logical step in the progression of the terrorists) and only serve to inconvenience the travelers.
Please enact legislation to stop the retaliatory patdowns and remove these intrusions into our personal privacy.
Thank you,
Christopher Turner

Start your day with a smile

Matt’s Dancing 2008 footage. My favorites: the DMZ in Korea, the two from Tonga, and Nellis Airspace.
[Wave of the phin to my sweet for passing it along.]

New hat

In preparation for the mission trip I’m going on next week to build houses in Juarez, Mexico, I picked up a Panama Jack cowboy hat at Wal-Mart earlier this evening for a mere ten dollars.

New hat
Click on the photo to see a larger version.

The Juarez trip can be tough on gear (the boots I wore last year won’t be making a return trip), but I figure for ten bucks, I won’t worry if the hat doesn’t go another year. (And yes, a backup hat will be packed, just in case.)

An excerpt


Problem: You are stranded in the past without plutonium to provide the 1.21 jiggawatts necessary to power your De Lorean’s flux capacitor.

Solution: We at TimeCorp cannot stress enough the differences between real and fictional time travel. Authentic time travel is an infinitely more complicated and intricate process than its whimsical cinematic counterpart. You will need at least 4.3 jiggawatts of power.

Hasta la semana proxima

Well, dear readers, after being gone for a week on a family vacation, I’m now leaving in the wee morning hours–in six hours, to be precise–on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. It’s an annual thing our church does, and this year I decided to go as one of the adult volunteers. It’s really a mission trip for the youth of the church, with something around a 65-35 breakdown of youth to adults.
Normally the trip is to build simple homes for the poor of the area, but this year we’ve been asked by the mission sponsor, Amor Ministries, to build some duplex housing for attendees of the local Bible college.
So you won’t be seeing any updates from the phisch bowl for a bit, as we will have little power available, little running water (which we don’t drink any way, we bring our own drinking water), and absolutely no Internet access of any kind. Mobile phone coverage is even spotty, and insanely expensive.
It’s going to be a blast.
See you next week.

Visited States

So while browsing on Flickr, I came across a link to Douwe Osinga’s Visited States. It’s pretty simple: you click on the name of the state you’ve visited, and the state gets marked in red on the map. I’ve visited half the states in the Union:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I have some personal criteria for what constitutes a “visit”. For instance, I didn’t count the layover in Salt Lake City as a visit to Utah. I don’t think you can really call it a visit when you never leave the airport. Likewise, I didn’t count the short time I spent in Newark, leaving from the airport to go in to Manhattan, as a visit to Jersey. I don’t count the approximately two hours I spent at a friend’s father-in-law’s place in Oklahoma as a visit; we were there to pick up dad-in-law’s old big-screen television, and it was right back across the border in to Texas.
However, though we didn’t spend a night in Maine, or Vermont, I count those as states visited, since we were there to see certain sites unique to the state, i.e., playing tourist. So you may feel otherwise as to what makes a “visit”, but that’s some of what I thought about when marking states.
So how many have you visited?

“I love public transportation.”

500 points to the member of the Stevenson family who can correctly identify the movie from which the above quote comes, and the character/actor who said it.
I ususally don’t go for Internet memes, and Tom didn’t ping me with this one, but I thought it pretty cool nonetheless. How many public transportation systems have you ridden? Below are mine:

Got at b3co.com!

Update, 11:00 PM: My wife notes that New Orleans’ RTA isn’t on the list. I thought maybe because RTA didn’t include some form of light rail that it failed to qualify, but then she reminded me that it has the trolleys, like San Fran’s MUNI. So even though there’s no icon for it, you can add New Orleans to my list.

And I thought they wanted you to stay over on Saturday night

Earlier this evening, I booked a round-trip flight, on American Airlines, from Baton Rouge to DFW for my grandmother. It’s for the first weekend in August, to celebrate my son’s birthday.
Initially, I was looking at mid-morning flights out of Baton Rouge on Saturday, August 5th, and a mid-afternoon return flight from DFW on Tuesday, August 8th. I found great times for each, but the total ticket, even with a supposed senior discount, was $361, after applicable taxes and fees.
I changed the flight out of Baton Rouge to Friday, August 4th, same time of the day, and the price dropped to $260.
So apparently the new savings comes in with the Friday stay-over…


I’m on vacation on the Garden Isle of Kaua’i, Hawai’i, right now, so posts will be few and far between. I’ll try to get a few pics up here and there, but don’t hold your breath. 🙂