Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hey, guys.Well, it's another sunny Tuesday here in the ATX. S'posed to hit 103 here today. Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. (I remember that once, when we were little, Roundball and I literally tried to fry an egg on the sidewalk during the summer over at a friend's house. The egg kinda, sorta was slowly cooking, but before it could get too far a line of fire ants appeared and made their way onto our egg to start chowing down. I'm not sure what I learned about eggs or temperature or weather that day, but I definitely learned that Texas fire ants are mean, tough little S.O.B.s, willing to walk across a frying hot surface just to get a free lunch).

Not too much to report. Tropical Storm Dolly is churning her way through the Gulf of Mexico, and officials are worried that the storm could damage or destroy levees along the Rio Grande, especially if the storm reaches hurricane strength before making landfall, as predicted. I'm not too crazy about the idea of my fellow Texans (and our friendly Mexican neighbors) getting zapped by a really powerful storm, but it sure would be nice to get some rain up here in Austin. Between the drought and the heat, our plants are starting to look sort of sad.

Sounds like Christian Bale has been questioned in connection with an alleged incident of family violence involving his mother and sister in London, England, on Sunday. I sure hope the allegations are untrue. Wouldn't there be something ironic about making millions of dollars (in just the opening weekend) off of a movie about a character who is driven to become a superhero because of the violence that's done to his own family, when the actor playing that character is getting arrested on his own family violence charges? Crazy world.
Anyway, it sounds like Christian Bale is still a free man (no charges pending), at least thus far.

What else? I thought about writing a rant about how annoying air travel has become after my recent trip to Florida, but I guess you guys have heard it all before (and my brother pretty much covered it all on his blog). One thing my brother didn't cover was the ridiculousness of the airport security checkpoints. They didn't effect us that much on this trip, but they were pretty awful (meaning long, slow, disorganized, pointless, and a little rude) on our trip to Costa Rica.
The thing that bugs me the most about the airport security checkpoints is that they really are pretty darn meaningless, for a number of reasons. First of all, the checkpoints seem set up to stop people from attacking us in exactly the same way that they did on 9/11, but what are the chances of that? They're not going to do the same thing twice if they attack. Even if they were just going to use sharp, handheld instruments (which they won't because nowadays the passengers would be wary of it and rush the terrorists as a group if they used handheld weapons), they would probably use something ceramic or made of hard plastic that wouldn't show up on metal detectors (and yes, there are even guns made of hard ceramics which won't show up on metal detectors). If terrorists are going to use a bomb, they can still just check it into their baggage and bring a detonator into the passenger cabin- how hard would it be to use a cell phone (which you can still carry on) as a detonator? Aren't they just as likely to hit a plane that's taking off with a missile? How hard is it to put a really lethal dose of a biological or chemical agent into one of those three little containers of liquid that you're allowed to bring in you carry on bag? And take a look at the painfully bored, unhappy faces of those airport employees next time you travel- do we really think that these people are all above smuggling some kind of weapon behind the airport security perimeter if they're paid the right price? (and given the number of supplies and equipment that goes into and out of a large airport on a daily basis, such a feat just can't be all that hard to pull off)
The whole airport security thing isn't really about security at all. It's about politics and the illusion of security. If I can stand in line at the airport and think of ten ways to circumvent homeland security just while I'm standing there, how hard is it really going to be for a terrorist to take down another plane if he wants to? Most importantly, the terrorists have already done the whole airplane as missile thing. They know that a new, unexpected method of attack is their best bet. If I were Homeland Security, I'd be keeping a much closer eye on our giant sports stadiums, subway systems, and even our passenger cruise liners.
Anyway, these are the thoughts that flit through my government-protected head while I stand in the interminable security line/cattle chute with the other travellers, barefoot, holding up my beltless pants, waiting to walk through the metal detectors and have the private contents of my carry on bag to be dumped out onto a table. Two hours early to the airport? Are we sure that's enough time? I might want to go on that ride more than once. ;-)

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