Ruse of Transportation Safety

After the London arrests in the plot to blow up U.S.-bound flights, the oxymoronically-named Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented new security screening procedures in a vain attempt to make airline travel more secure.

One of the most absurd policies state that, "Beverages purchased in the boarding area beyond the screening checkpoint will not be allowed on board, and must be consumed before boarding." What this means is that beverages which have already passed through security are a risk to in-flight airline safety. So would this not mean that the mere presence of these security risks (formerly known as beverages) in a secure area renders the "secure area" to really be insecure?

I'll confess that I contributed to the insecurity last week on my trip. At the risk of arrest, confinement, illegal wiretaps, and everything else that could potentially result, I carried a travel-sized tube of toothpaste in my pocket to prove that regardless of how better the mousetrap, the mouse will still win. I wasn't frisked, questioned, or even given a second look when I passed through the metal detector with my contraband toothpaste.

And despite the newest policy which mandates all shoes (sandals, etc.) be sent through x-ray screening, I wasn't required to take off my Tevas as I passed through security on my outbound flight, but I was on my return. I'd suggest that I have an exponentially higher likelihood of catching athlete's foot as I walk barefoot through security than being victim of a terrorist act as the result of a shoe bomb, and it has nothing to do with airline security. In fact, after reading TSA's explanation of why they've implemented this new screening procedure, I'd suggest that someone carrying the balloon-filled explosive in a shoe would merely transfer the explosive to their pocket and then return it to their shoe after passing through "security".

Q: What are the most oft feared words to a taxpayer?
A: "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help!"


New meaning to Sleepless in Seattle

I love trying out new hotels, and while I previously stated that I'd stay at the MarQueen Hotel should my travels ever bring me back to Seattle, regrettably they were sold out during my visit last week.

By my count, Noble House has a collection of 12 fantastic resorts/hotels throughout the U.S. On my last trip I strolled past The Edgewater, billed as Seattle's only waterfront hotel, and made a mental note to try and stay there some day.

Last week I had the opportunity, and if you stop reading now, know that The Edgewater is probably a fantastic hotel if you pony up the bucks and book a waterfront guestroom with panoramic view. The view from the sitting area in the lobby is fantastic as is the view from their restaurant, Six Seven (the hotel & restaurant are at Pier 67).

I tend to be a cheap bastard, so I booked a cityside guestroom--bad move. I'm sure these cityside rooms are why the hotel is only ranked #22 out of 114 hotels on TripAdvisor. My room was small--New York City small, and I'm not into the rustic, log cabin look, but whatever. The gas fireplace which also serves as the heat source for the room is a nice touch, but it wasn't cold enough to use it. My room overlooked the porticochere with a view of the parking lot and the railroad tracks. Yes, I said railroad tracks. For those who like to sleep when they're visiting a hotel, know that the trains do run through the night. I seldom say never, so I will instead say that I hope to never return.


Blogger hell

Blogger is trying to push a new version of their software which is in beta... and I've just "regained" control of my blog after a week of being locked out.


Are you ready for some football?

I love this time of year when summer winds down and hints of fall begin to appear like this Friday night when I get to tear off and use the first of my 10 season tickets to see the Atlanta Falcons play the New England Patriots. It's been WAY too long!

Though Brian Finneran is out for the season, there's still hope for the receiving corps. And while I prefer Matt Schaub to Michael Vick, maybe this is the season Vick makes me a believer. The Falcons have a healthy and upgraded defense. Is this the year for Atlanta? All I know is that every team is a Super Bowl contender at the start of the season, and right now hopes run high.


Abu Ghraib: just the tip of the iceberg?

After reading this article in the Baltimore Sun about atrocities committed by service members in Vietnam and what the Pentagon did to prosecute those involved, I feel so relieved to know that this same Pentagon is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the rape and murder of a 14-year old girl along with the murder of her 5-year old sister, mother, and father.

Fortunately the Pentagon meted out some serious justice to Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr. of the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard, as the U.S. Command announced just Saturday that Ortiz was reduced in rank to specialist after pleading guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice by placing a rifle near a mortally wounded Iraqi in February and threatening and assaulting an Iraqi in March.

The charges against Ortiz resulted from the killing of an unarmed Iraqi near Ramadi by Spc. Nathan Lynn, who was cleared last month of manslaughter and conspiring to obstruct justice.

And don't get these stories confused with the Article 32 hearing that was completed on Friday in Tikrit where four soldiers from Company C, Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were accused of killing three Iraqi detainees in Samarra three months ago. No decision on a trial was announced.

There is also the somewhat forgotten case of the November 19, 2005, murder of 15 civilians by Marines that seems to be in a perpetual state of "investigation".


60mph winds + penny-sized hail = trouble

It's blurry because the photo is from my camera phone, but I had a tree fall and hit the roof of one of my rental homes. While the tenant has started moving his things into the house, fortunately he isn't living there yet.

The tree knocked down the new gutter & downspout I just installed, but because I went with PVC gutters rather than aluminum, I was able to get it re-hung pretty quickly.


No global warming?

I don't know the root cause--whether it's natural or manmade--but when I experience Chicago at 97 degrees while Atlanta is "only" 87 degrees, I know that our climate is changing.