The science of travel! - Tactical Ninja
Nov. 17th, 2010
10:30 am - The science of travel!
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!