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The science of travel! - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 17th, 2010

10:30 am - The science of travel!

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Last night I dreamed I was lost in South Africa, having been sent to the dump with a trailer load of stuff and taken a wrong turn on the way back. Of course, since I was in South Africa my cellphone didn't work, my eftpos didn't work, and because I was on an errand, I hadn't carried any phone numbers or cash with me. I ended up getting deported and being unable to tell anyone where I'd got to.

Weirdly, this morphed into a dream in which I was having exhibitionist sex in the street and my ex walked up to me and started talking about work visas. To which I was all "Um, not a good time.." And then the neighbour's (furrealz) dog started barking, cueing pombagira and me both doing our best farmer growls out the window because it was 4am. Timing, dog.

Anyway, it seems I have some background travel anxiety. It's been four years since I travelled by myself and since this time my travel's not a booking-through, there are a few extra hitches I'll have to deal with. But I'm a big girl, right?


Guy's experience with refusing body scan in San Diego. Basically, he refused the scan, and when informed that the mandatory alternative hands-on 'frisk' search would indeed contact his genitals, refused that too. Hilarity ensued.

My experiences in American airports have mostly been OK, but I haven't been there since 2006. Although last time I flew out, they searched my luggage without me present and without informing me they were doing it. I only knew because everyone else who put their luggage through security at the same time had taken theirs and gone, and mine hadn't come through yet so I craned my head around the screen and there they were, going through my stuff. It pissed me off - I thought they were supposed to inform me and I was supposed to be present when they did that, but it seems these guys are a law unto themselves.

OK, so that's America, America's weird and erosion of civil liberties is the MO of the TSA, right? Who cares, we're not American, etc etc. Except that the US has tried to insist that international airports that fly passengers to the US also incorporate their crazy 'security' measures. And as anyone who's flown in the last 10 years will know, they've succeeded a fair bit.

It started with crazy restrictions on what passport photos could be like, in order to comply with requirements for face-recognition software. My first passport photos had to be taken three times to get the size and positioning right (I naturally hold my head slightly tilted and apparently this is wrong), and the hair-off-face, no-glasses, no smiling rules meant that the photo didn't really even look like me.

Then there was the liquid thing which is a) still in place (note here the bit down the bottom about 'special restrictions' when flying to the US), and b) kind of silly. I remember getting extremely annoyed in Johannesburg after clearing security, buying a bottle of water in the departure lounge, from airport staff in a shop, and then everyone having to queue up before getting on the plane to have hand luggage searched and having to hand over any liquids.

That flight was to Australia. It seems Australia is following the US lead when it comes to body scanners, and this doesn't surprise me at all. My experiences with Australian airport security have reinforced my belief that they want to be like America. For example, the incident in Johannesburg was a Qantas flight to Sydney. Australian airports are also the only ones where I've been subjected to a security check on arrival - yep, they make you go through metal detectors and X-ray your luggage when you get off the plane.

Since my next trip involves flying into Brisbane, Bandar Seri Begawan and Hong Kong, I was curious to know whether any of these airports would be implementing body scanners. As far as I can tell, none of the airports I'll be going through have them yet (you'd be surprised how many sites I had to look at to find one that didn't only talk about US airports here). However, the article up there (dated 10 February this year) says that Australia will be putting them in all their major airports over four years, so there's a possibility that there may be one in Brisbane by the time I get there. Now, I won't be clearing customs in Brisbane because I'm just flying on, but I find myself wondering how I'd respond if confronted with this stuff.

I am not known for my good attitude to arbitrary authoritarianism when I feel it's unnecessary. I'm inclined to get quite hoha, in fact. I'd love to be one of those people that can face that stuff an not get a bad attitude, but I've yet to find a technique for eating shit with a smile on my face, that works consistently. Apparently you can opt out of the scan, which displays a picture of you in all your nude glory - but you then have to submit to being frisked, which is no better.

I guess I could do what these people did. I've been asking myself why I object to the scanners. I'm not embarrassed about my body and nudity isn't a problem for me. It seems to be more about the arbitrary nature of it - the insistence that people allow some random person in a room somewhere to view pictures of their naked body - that bothers me. I'd almost rather strip off for them and walk through the metal detector than have my picture be taken walking through some scanner. I am waiting for the first images of some famous person to be leaked..

Anyway, maybe I should pack a bikini, just in case.

Also, it's unlikely they'll be implemented in New Zealand since our privacy laws preclude their use. Good on us.


Last night I knitted lots of little sheep legs for the art that will go on the bag I'm making. Now I'm spinning some white wool for the body. With any luck, it'll be finished within a week and there will be photos!

Meanwhile, The Kid's English exam is today. He has to analyse the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Lucky him!

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
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(this picture was a test scan and the guy was wearing a 'modesty protector'.





Like I said, it's not the nudity that really bothers me personally, but I can understand why it would bother others.

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From:fallaras
Date:November 16th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)

just FYI

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The first photo is a knowen scare fake.
Its a nude photo graph with inverted colors to make it look like an AIT image.
You can not see hair with either millimeter wave or backscatter x-ray technology. Both of these waves do not reflect off of hair and do not show hair in the image.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)

Re: just FYI

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Good to know, although if the others are real, they aren't far off it.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)

Re: just FYI

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wot they won't be able to see my tattoos?? *pouts a little*
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From:richdrich
Date:November 17th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC)

Re: just FYI

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Any piercings should show up really well. Do you think one would be banned from flying for having "fuck america" on nipple rings?

Also, another way for females to play with their minds might involve concealment of a suitable phallic object, with or without Prince Albert.
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From:fallaras
Date:November 17th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC)

Re: just FYI

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Afraid not :(
But jewelry shows up real good, so that could be fun...

millimeter wave:


backscatter x-ray:



Also, these scanners do nothing to detect items in body cavities since they only go skin deep.

None of the new security screening measures can prevent terrorists from bringing on similar materials to the 9/11 hijackers--so this latest gross invasion of privacy is just another multibillion dollar boondoggle.
Security videos showed that at least one of the 911 hi-jackers had something visibly clipped in their back pocket - presumably one of the knives they used.
If they can't notice it in the real world walking past them... *shrug*

Personally, I can't care less if the entire crowd at the screeners would see my body. That's their problem, not mine, but does it really achieve anything?

But storing backscatter X-ray images of children in electronic form (maybe even internally to the machine) would seem to constitute 'making, distributing or possessing child pornography', which is a crime...




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From:anna_en_route
Date:November 16th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
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I knew I was back in New Zealand when the air nz staff told me to take the liquor out of my luggage and put it in my hand luggage for my domestic flight in case it broke.

I really would not mind visting the US at some point but they seem to have gone comprehensively insane and I do not want to risk it until they settle
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I regret not having seen more of the US, but I'm not inclined to go there while things are the way they are. For a start, me and the TSA wouldn't be a good mix, and secondly it doesn't seem like a happy time for the country overall.
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From:dancingactress
Date:November 18th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
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sadly, you'll probably have to wait...forever...i don't anticipate the insanity to alleviate any time soon.
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From:tieke
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
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The last time I went through airport security in Oz they told me that my clear ziplock plastic bag holding my liquids was too big, and that I had to transfer them into a smaller plastic bag, which they provided me with. Not that there was any problem with the plastic bag itself (they let me keep it), or with the amount of liquid I was bringing through; it was just that the regulations state that it must be a one quart sized plastic bag.

The staff were very nice and stuff, and one of them complimented my hair, but geez ...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
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I never did understand that rule. Why does it have to be in a bag? Why does the bag have to be X size? How will this prevent terrorism?

And after the Johannesburg experience, can I put 10 x 100ml bottles of water in there so I can have something to drink on the plane?
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From:tieke
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, and I'm pretty sure that you could also carry an empty 1l container in your bag, to decant the 100ml amounts into once you're on the plane.

But you know, it makes us aware that we are being kept safe from threats, eh?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 16th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
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I know why! I know why!

With all those plastic containers and stuff in my bag, I won't have room for bombs, right?
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From:tieke
Date:November 17th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
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True! You would have so little room left in the rest of your bag, that you would have to keep your bombs in the plastic bag, and then they'd have you!
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From:fallaras
Date:November 17th, 2010 01:25 am (UTC)
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we need to start turning up in our skimpyest undies with our luggage in a net fruit bag and then see if we can still get on the plane...

And maybe pass out latter from not being aloud to take a decent bottle of water on-board...


Himmm... I think next time I fly somewhere with friends we might have to try this...
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 17th, 2010 03:02 am (UTC)
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The guy from San Diego is my hero.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 17th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
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If you touch his junk he'll have you arrested!
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From:kittyfarmer
Date:November 19th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
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When I arrived back in Knoxville, I found a little card in my luggage saying that the TSA had inspected it.

I usually take an empty water bottle through security and then fill it up at a drinking fountain. Or ask a flight attendant to fill it.
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