Free Markets, Free People
We had to go do a photo shoot at the Vietnam Memorial on Coronado Island. While we were there, we also took the time to do some sightseeing, and took our boxer, Apollo, along for the ride.
The pics are below the fold, and you can click on each picture for a more hi-res version.
Chris and I went downtown to take some pictures. This time, instead of lugging around an SLR, I took my new Panasonic Lumix FZ200. It’s a 12.1 megapixel bridge camera, with a 28mm-600mm superzoom lens. I wanted to see how it would do as a walking-around camera. I think the answer is, "very well."
The Star Of India, docked in downtown San Diego.
Downtown mall corridor
San Diego County Jail
A little bird
This odd building looks like an optical illusion
Chairs in a residential courtyard
A homeless man’s dog, downtown San Diego
LED marquee at the Balboa Theater
Trains at Union Station
Architectural detail of Union Station
Architectural detail of a restored Victorian-era building
The Gaslamp District
Lobby, Sempra Energy building
Mosaic Wall, Horton Plaza
Park and skyline
Each window of this building has a screen that can be lowered to cover the glass
Architectural detail, Sempra Energy building
Restored Victorian-era building in the Gaslamp District
The Moon and Venus
And finally, to show you how powerful the zoom and video capabilities of this little camera are, I give you The Dog Walker.
You may have heard that, at about 15:38 Pacific time yesterday, an APS worker outside of Yuma, AZ, accidentally tripped a fault that shut off power to parts of Arizona, California, and Baja California in Mexico. So, one guy, apparently, can shut down power to 3 states in 2 countries. That really fills me with confidence about the robustness of the electrical grid.
Anyway, I was one of the 6 million people who lost power during this horrific crisis. In an instant, we were thrown into the stone age by the loss of modern technology, living in a world lit only by fire. I kept a diary of this frightening experience. Below are my diary notes, written contemporaneously during the collapse. I append it here so that historians can know how it really was.
1538: Crap! I just lost all electrical power at my house! So much for liveblogging tonight. My netbook and 4G modem work though.
1550: Can’t get to the SDG&E web site, or through on the phone. Odd.
1605: Liveblogging president’s jobs speech. Streaming video from White House via 4G modem on my netbook with its tiny screen. Inconvenient. Like being a settler in a covered wagon. Will the power ever come back?
1724: I’m learning how people lived in Oldy Days without electricity. This sucks. Why do these things always happen to me?
1745: Power outages throughout San Diego County, reports of outages in Mexico, AZ, NM. Millions without power. Trolleys dead. Massive traffic.
1840: Went out on my motorcycle for a pack of smokes. Stores closed, smokes hard to acquire. Had to go to 2 stores to find them. Civilization is breaking down. Loading my rifles now.
1930: Darkness is falling. Dinner time approaching. Must resist cannibalistic urges.
2018: So, ONE GUY can cut off power to three states in two countries? One guy? Seriously?
2100: SDG&E says, "If you have a personal family emergency plan, activate it now." My personal family emergency plan is to kill my neighbors for their food. Too soon? Or do they already suspect my plans?
2140: No power for 6 hours. Veneer of civilization crumbling away. Typing on a netbook via 4G in candlelight like some sort of animal.
2230: 7 hours without power. My white wines are perilously close to room temperature. We’re just living like wild beasts now.
2316: Must go to bed and try to sleep now. All windows are open to try to cool the house. Temperature must be approaching 80°. May start sweating at any minute. Physical torture affecting my thought processes.
2330: With the candles out, it’s pitch black. Strange noises outside the windows. What was once civilization may now be infested by wolves and mountain lions. Or possums.
2340: Must try to sleep. Thank God for the protection offered by my four large dogs. If I am alive in the morning, it is thanks to them.
0230: Am awoken by lights, television. Air conditioning back on, so I have to get up and close all the windows. That sucks, ’cause I have to be up at 0700. Will this horror never end!?
0231: Oh, wait…
Some may try to trivialize this blackout in the future. But now you know how it really was.
This TSA nonsense is getting past absurd very quickly. Yesterday in San Diego (again – that’s where "don’t touch my junk" was first heard) there was another incident. This time the guy in question refused the scanner and, knowing what was coming, and most likely trying to avoid being groped, stripped down to his underwear.
OK perhaps he shouldn’t have done that, but by doing so it became clear there was nothing hiding on his person. That’s where the laugh out loud and shake your head moment came in:
This time the defendant, Sam Wolanyk says he was asked to pass through the 3-D x-ray machine. When Wolanyk refused, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel told him he would have to be patted down before he could pass through and board his airplane.
Wolanyk said he knew what was coming and took off his pants and shirt, leaving him in Calvin Klein bike undergarments.
“It was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination,” he explained. “But that wasn’t enough for the TSA supervisor who was called to the scene and asked me to put my clothes on so I could be properly patted down.”
Yeah, that’s right – don’t believe you lyin’ eyes, only a good grope will satisfy the authorities.
This comes on the heels of another example of the absurdity we’re subjected too. And no the following isn’t apocryphal, this happened and has been confirmed. These troops had already been cleared by customs in a detailed inspection to include sniffer dogs, the whole 9 yards. They had not been off the plane since. Over two hundred of them were on the plane with their M4 assault rifles and SAWs. The plane stopped in Indiana to drop off some troops and instead of letting the plane take off (it didn’t need to be refueled) to its final destination, TSA insisted the troops all get off for another inspection. And, of course, TSA was very successful in finding a bunch of hidden weapons with which the plane could have been taken over. This was written by a soldier who witnessed the exchange:
So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:
TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.
Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.
TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.
TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.
Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.
TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.
Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?
TSA Guy: [awkward silence]
Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.
Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]
This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.
Meanwhile, back in San Diego – Wolanyk is paraded through 2 other terminals in his underwear, because one assumes, it would have been too much of a hassle to let him get dressed before removing him from the TSA area. He was obviously in the wrong for disrobing, but what that necessary?
And another less publicized arrest took place there as well. A woman was arrested for taking “illegally filming the x-ray, and TSA screening process with a video camera.” Her camera was confiscated, she was issued a citation and released.
The irony of all of this is if anyone wanted to do what the 9/11 killers did, all they have to do is go charter a plane. So none of this is going to stop a 9/11 type event if the killer in question is reasonably intelligent. If the killers want to bring down a passenger plane, there are all sorts of other ways to do so that TSA hasn’t even imagined. But the agency is reactive – not proactive. It’s looking for repeats of things that have happened, despite the fact that none of the things which have happened have been repeated.
We spend all this money and time to produce an agency which proudly announces that it is in the rights violation business and that your rights are not more important than security. And when confronted with the fact that the flying public is rebelling against this gross breech of their rights (as one woman said, after a pat down, “in some countries we’d be married right now”) the TSA administrator throws this out there:
“Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes,” Pistole said to CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “If you’re asking, am I going to change the policies? No.”
Or, "screw you and your concerns about rights and propriety – once you get in my line, I decide what rights you have and what is or isn’t appropriate". Like all but strip-searching 12 year old boys.
A couple of points. Much of the flying public that refuse to put up with such nonsense are going to be looking at alternatives. Personally, anything 4 to 5 hours away by car is now automatically a car trip – I don’t even consider flying. And given what’s going on, I’ll probably extend that to 8 hours away (which would cover 99% of my trips). I don’t intend to reward a government policy which intrudes on my rights (and health) by subjecting myself to it.
Which makes the point that airlines may begin to see passenger traffic go down as the use of these scanners and and pat downs expand (another in a long line of innovative job/business killing policies by this administration).
I’m not willing to trade liberty for security. And I’m damn sure not about to meekly submit to their intrusion in person. I will refuse to use air travel as long as that’s the procedure. And for the airlines, that’s another potential passenger you’ve lost until this TSA nonsense is stopped.
BTW, airlines – it is my understanding you do not have to use TSA. I’d be seriously considering that right now if I were you. But regardless, you should be sitting in front of Pistole right now as a group pounding on his desk and demanding he change the policies and do so quickly.
Charles Krauthammer summed my thoughts up on this rather nicely last week:
We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.
The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.
But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?
This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.
Does anybody want a puppy? I mean a registered, purebred puppy. If so, drop me a line. My Cane Corso female is about to drop a litter in two weeks or so. If you’re in the San Diego/Southern California area, and might be interested in a new baby Corso, drop me a line at “puppies -at- dalefranks.com”
Corsos are large dogs, with females running from 80-100lbs, and males running from 100-130 lbs. They are active dogs, with a working breed background, so they need to be regularly exercised.
They are extremely loyal and protective of their family and homes. They love children, and make very protective watchdogs for them.
Here’s a video we did of her: