Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why is it that 20 miles per hour in a parking lot feels like warp speed and 20 miles per hour in a school zone feels like you're watching paint dry?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Hello? Is anyone still here? If you’ve seen my brain, please tell me where I can find it. Alright, so it’s been a while since my last post. I know I’ve let myself slip into bad blogger buddy status…again. In my defense, I’ve had other things on my mind. I’ll get to muse killing, mind occupying stuff in a minute. First, I thought I’d make a feeble attempt to entertain you with some miscellaneous incidents, thoughts and occurrences which have taken place recently.

It’s all the rage to talk about the TSA backscatter x-rays being put into use at our nation’s airports. I’m not going to link to the “if you touch my junk…” guy’s blog as I don’t think you can bring up a news website without finding a half dozen links to the video and blog entries. I had my first experience with them a few weeks ago while traveling on business to the Rio Grande Valley here in Texas. I flew out of Dallas Love Field which is a fair sized airport with lots of traffic (it’s Southwest Airlines HQ airport); however, the TSA (in their infinite wisdom) had not seen fit to install the x-ray machines there yet. They did, however, install them at the airport in Harlingen, Texas…which is smaller than Love Field…and gets much less traffic. Go figure.

Anyway, being the oblivious traveler that I am, I had no idea that TSA had installed any of these infernal contraptions in my fair state much less a tiny market airport like Harlingen’s. Until, that is, I walked through the metal detector and was directed to the scanner booth. It kinda reminds me of stepping into the transporter on Star Trek. The whole process is painless until you get to the post scan pat down. Apparently, the TSA is supposed to pat down any questionable areas spotted on the scan. I got a back of the hand to pockets and groin area that was minimally intrusive. Not that I had much choice in the matter. I could submit to the screening and catch my flight, or I could take a pass, rent a car and drive over 500 miles and 8 hours to get home (which would have put me getting home at like 3:00 AM).

The thing I really want to comment on about this whole TSA screening process is the absurdity and irony of it all.

Let’s take a look at the irony for a moment. The government, in their tortured reasoning, have decided that the best way to prevent the crime of airplane hijacking for terrorist purposes is to commit another “lesser” crime. In this case, the lesser crime is assault or sexual assault depending on your state’s penal code. For instance, here in Texas, assault includes:

Sec. 22.01. ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
Simply put, a man or woman making physical contact with another man or woman’s genitals should know that the contactee is going to find that offensive or provocative. The irony is even more amusing when you consider that these crimes are committed right in front of gun toting, licensed law enforcement officers. In Harlingen for instance, you had Border Patrol agents present in addition to local police.

If TSA were smart, they would offer people the choice of which TSA agent they would like to feel them up. They could probably even charge for the option depending on the attractiveness of the agents; but, then they would be engaged in pandering and prostitution.

As mentioned earlier, I see absurdity in this entire process. The idea that a non-professional, government employee of questionable background paid on an hourly basis is going to have the motivation to provide effective security to the traveling public is ludicrous. I was an unarmed security guard for a time in college, and I can tell you that there was no incentive for me to go above and beyond the call of duty in the event of a real security threat. I was window dressing. That is what TSA is: window dressing to make the public feel like we are doing something about lax security.

Seriously, does it make any sense to be putting commercial airline flight crews through stringent security screening? If a credentialed pilot wants to destroy a plane, he does not need to bring explosives or weapons on board to accomplish the task. He has all the tools he needs to do the deed in the cockpit with him.

Do we really need to be patting down nuns and children? Is there some pre-school terrorist cell that I’m not aware of? Have the nuns developed bad habits? Yes, it’s a bad pun. Feel free to boo and hiss. Do we really think it’s a good idea to give a woman wearing a full burkah a free pass through security to avoid offending her due to her religion or national origin?

People like to talk about the Israeli state air carrier’s security record and the procedures that led to that record. From what I’ve read, the Israeli take this business of security seriously. Their procedures start at the time you book your flight and don’t stop, for all practical purposes, until you’ve gotten off their plane at your destination. They don’t worry about political correctness have no qualms about profiling people for additional scrutiny. Are you Muslim wanting to fly El Al? Be prepared for a grilling. The point is that true security comes at a price. It’s a price most Americans just aren’t willing to pay.

Enough about that. I have to go to Houston tomorrow, and I plan on driving not because I fear any terrorist threat but because I’ve reached my hassle threshold.

Next up, a little levity. I saw this news article on Drudge recently. First off, I had no idea that there was such a thing as the Lingerie Football League. For the sake of my marriage to The Queen, that’s probably a good thing. I find this quote from the LFL Wikipedia entry most telling: “League founder Mortaza has admitted that the league is marketed toward ‘mostly beer-drinking college students aged 21 and up.’” You think? As to the OKC mayor’s desire to ban the LFL from his fair city, I say get a life. You can’t legislate morality, and prohibition has never eliminated any alleged criminal activity. Let the market decide what the community values. If there are enough beer drinking college students in town, it will flourish and provide tax revenue. If there are a bunch of uptight teetotalers, it’ll take a quick dirt nap and be gone before you know it.

Lastly, the reason my mind has been a little pre-occupied lately is that I have decided it’s high time that I furthered my education. As a result, I am in the process of applying to law school. I take the LSAT on Monday, December 13, and I am in the process of studying LSAT preparation materials in the time I have left leading up to the five or so hour marathon examination.

Pray for me. I just might need it.

*If you don’t know what BOHICA stands for, Google it. I’m not going to educate you here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Play Ball

Thus far on this blog, I have refrained from any significant commentary regarding professional sports. This state of affairs is mainly because I am not a big sports fan. I don’t read Sports Illustrated or the sports page of the local paper. I don’t obsess over the box scores or team stats. I DO NOT have a FANTASY football team. That’s not to say I don’t like sports. It’s just that I would much prefer to participate in a sport than watch a sport. I will watch a game or two when the mood strikes, I happen to have free time on my hands and there is nothing better to do. I’ve even been known to go watch games in person from time to time (usually when someone else is paying for the tickets and parking pass).

While I respect the dedication, practice and skill necessary to play any sport on a professional level, I do find the amount of money, adoration and even obsession some people heap on professional athletes to be ridiculous at times. To me, it’s a sad commentary on our society that our entertainers are more highly valued and compensated than some other, much more important, occupations.

Having said all that, I feel that I must comment on the recently concluded Major League Baseball World Series.

For those of you who were not aware, the Texas Rangers lost their first ever World Series last night to the San Francisco Giants who won their first ever World Series much to the apparent disappointment of every mainstream sportscaster and writer in America who were practically in mourning over missing out on a Phillies and Yankees World Series (okay…so, I read an issue of SI while at a mediation a couple of weeks ago…there was nothing else to do).

Seeing as how I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and was raised to at least root for the home team, you might expect me to be disappointed that the Rangers lost the Series in five games. No. Not really.

You see, for those of you who DO follow sports more diligently than I, you already know that the fact that the Rangers even made it to the playoffs is an accomplishment in and of itself. The fact that there were no riots when the Rangers won the ALDS and then destroyed the Yankees in the ALCS is a miracle all by its lonesome.

For the uninitiated, please allow me, the un-sports fan, to educate you as to the perennial fiasco that was the Texas Rangers. For as long as I can remember, the Rangers have been an average team with no chance of making it to the playoffs much less the World Series. Historically, the Rangers start off the season looking really good only to magically turn in to the Bad News Bears sometime around the All Star break. You could almost set your watch by it.

I blame the team ownership. Almost everyone on the planet understands that the secret to a winning team is good pitching. The Rangers’ ownership never really understood that lesson until recently. Yes, they’ve had some good pitchers over the years…most notably Saint Nolan and his vicious right upper cut (is your head still ringing Robin Ventura?). I meant to say fastball. Unfortunately, the Rangers have never been able to put together a strong pitching rotation.

Until now.

Saint Nolan is now, as president and managing partner, part of the ownership group that bought the Rangers from Tom Hicks who let the club go into bankruptcy. The same Tom Hicks who thought it was a good idea to sign one player, Alex Rodriguez, to a 10 year $250 million deal. The new Rangers have built a pitching staff that have proven through the ALDS and ALCS that they can get the job done. The new Rangers have also hired Mike Maddux (brother to Atlanta Braves pitching great Greg Maddux) as their pitching coach.

So, for the first time in the history of the franchise, Rangers’ fans have reason to actually look forward to next year instead of just hoping that next year sucks less than last year.

To the folks in San Francisco, enjoy your riots.