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This is a quickie. Here’s a gallery of photos taken in Japan in the last quarter of the 19th century. The one thing about photos (at least in those time and to my knowledge) is that they don’t lie. These images show without western bias what life was like in Japan at a time which I know very little about.

I think my favorites are of the geisha’s: they are not the perky sex-dolls of popular culture nor the inhumanly perfect images from slightly more accurate modern films. They are simply women. There but for fortune, go you and I.

Inspiration quote:

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.
Oscar Wilde

Motley Fool and other vices

So I have been an avid reader of the Motley Fool for about 2 years now, and I’ve decided to post a few of the articles I like from their mailing list today:

Normally following the mantra of living below your means (LBYM is the community message board, now free as in beer and open to the public, which covers this subject) is of the upmost importance to most of the writers at The Motley Fool. As someone who likes to save her paycheck and eat out too I have been inspired and impressed by all fo the people who save thousands a year for their rainy-day or retirement funds. However I myself, while beign reasonably frugal, have always felt a little like an ugly step-sister to the beautifully responcibly Fools over at TMF. The above article however gives me some hope. now my foolish, not Foolish, spending of money on nice haircuts and pretty hardbacks is not so taudry.

This next link is to an article which is part of TMF community resources.

It is a chart to the cheap online travel sites. It compares them in a concise, business-like way, with the selective creativity so common of that site.

I enjoy reading TMF because it gives me another perspective on the world around me. I hear about the growing pains of an increasingly global world, well, at TMF I can bet my money on who will grow best. I may growl over the potential privacy invasions of Google but it is through TMF that I find the quantifiable terms in which to describe how very big a party of the world Google is eating up. Too often humanities people are too touchy-feely to be taken seriously, too emotional to be argue effectivly for their points of view. I think reading TMF is a great way to counter-act our essential disrespect for completely scientific study.

Now, I need to going back to watcing iRobot on FX. And in that vein:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

(Isaac Asimov’s 3 laws)

Hobbies: picking fights w/ the TSA

ok, so I just realized how much fun having a publishing medium can be. If my blog goes offline after this, you’ll know it’s because of this post.

One of my hobbies is picking fights w/ the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). I just have this visceral outrage at being searched and assumed guilty and punishable, all without reason. Silly me. So instead of refusing to take of my shoes (which I did for about 6 months worth of travel) I have started collecting data on the TSA.

As a note, if you refuse to take off your schoes, and do it in a polite way, procedure requires that they wand you over and swab your shoes. I have been yelled at for refusing to take off my shoes, but responded politely–TSA employees are people with jobs too. I hate the job they do and the powers they have but the people–at least during slow periods–are often nice enough. The major exception is at SFO in the Delta Terminal. Here are my notes from an encounter on a trip to visit colleges.


Harassing officer: Ruban.

American woman, screaming baby,

“They’re stupid!”

“What’s stupid, ma’m, what’s stupid? We do this for a reason. Go over there ma’m”.

5:30am November 1, 2006.

Obvious search was *not* because she was suspected or selected for any reason other than her objectionable comfort to her child. Some of the other TSA officers were telling Ruban that he had the right to not let her through. I saw her come out of the search 10 minutes later, with her baby in her arms and her husband holding her hand, so there Ruban’s inquest could not have
uncovered any objectionable materials. When I requested to know the officer’s name who ordered the search, one of the other officers said his name was “Ruban”. No further information was given.

If you have a complaint about the TSA and want to take it further, please see these resources.
1-866- GA SECURE or 1-866-427-3287

Aside from a few rather ghastly encournters with powerhungry little despots in US airports most of my encourters with TSA officials have been relatively tame. So I started collecting information on the third party agencies which check IDs of passengers before they get to the security screening gates. Based on the quick conversations I’ve had with the people who check my ID over the past year I’ve found out that the TSA requires each airline to check Identification (almost always government issued) against the name on the boarding pass that passenger is holding. There are only so many of these 3rd party companies and below are listed first the companies and then which airlines contract their ID checks out to them. I have determined that it is airline-based both based on the comments of the workers themselves and that I have seen the same companies working for the same airlines over and over again.

Prime Flight (northwest, Delta)
G2 (SFO terminal 3)
Aviation Safeguard (Southwest), not part of G2

Because most airports are terminal-based and each terminal has only a few major air carriers in it, all of the airlines in a terminal will contract to the same 3rd party company for their security needs (not just ID checks but also these employees are seen with in terminals, pushing wheelchairs or standing by during boarding).

There is an important distinction between watchmen and guards. Guards carry weapons. Watchmen report problems to their supervisors. Most of these 3rd party companies act as watchmen and do not physically interface with passengers.

The theme here whcih I have been trying not to over state is that our (American’s, Human’s) presumption of innocence is being dragged through the mud like a 1950s victim in a rape trial. Being asked to show ID to *anyone* without just cause is unacceptable. The Supreme Court disagrees with me and sees being asked to provide some kind of ID when requested is not and “unreasonable searches” nor the theft of my sunscreen on my senior trip to Laguna beach “seizure”. But on a high level than even the constitution, whcih you will find I hold in highest reguard, is my personal feeling of violation and revulsion at being prodded and poked and mettled with by a clumsy and over-zealous government agency.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

People don't like

to be meddled with.

We tell them what to do,

what to think.

Don't run, don't walk.

We're in their homes

and in their heads

and we haven't the right.

We're meddlesome.

PS: I see the previous quotation of a non-public domain work as fair use. If the owners of the copyright to Serenity and Firefly and all derivative works disagree or think that it’s use here is not in the spirit of the film, I look forward to the take-down notice.

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