484 – The Lizard King: 11



I freakin' give already!
I freakin' give already!
Possibly Jenny McCarthy?

TSA has piloted their new “Millimeter wave” scan devices (similar to the “backscatter X-ray” but supposedly without being fatally cancer-causing) at 18 airports around the country. This is a big open-sided booth-thingie that sits in the middle of the airport (meant to replace metal detectors) that passengers walk through on their way to their plane. As you walk through, the device scans you while you stand in it with your arms raised and the attendant looks at naked pictures of you. That’s right. It sees through your clothes.

The device is being used as a passenger option in some airports, and as mandatory in others. I think the idea is to see if they can introduce it slowly enough to keep from being slapped with a civil-liberties suit and suddenly discovering that they should have put their seventeen billion of R&D into inventing a machine that sees through people and not guns, instead of clothes and not people.

Meanwhile, paparazzi have already been using the backscatter X-ray devices to snap nekkid pictures of celebrities what ain’t even nekkid.

Yeah, I’m certain this could never go wrong.





I see your panty lines!

19 Responses to 484 – The Lizard King: 11

  1. 1. The screener looking at those images (and the images themselves, by the way) – in a separate room, so NO ONE sees the images but the screener, and the screener never sees the passenger.
    2. The images – deleted ass soon as the screener either hits the button that says Clear, indicating a lack of a threat, or Alarm, indicating that someone needs to search the passenger for a weapon.
    3. Yes, the system is non-cancer-causing. Ask a doctor. I did.
    4. Seeing through the passenger would have its benefits too, since that would catch such idiots as the people who swallow balloons full of drugs. But technically, busting drug-smugglers isn’t the TSA’s job.
    5. If you found those images sexually arousing, seek psychiatric help. Da Fuck? Also note: So far, the only complaints I’ve heard on the order of “Oh, they’ll see me naked” have been from people nobody wants to see naked. Seriously, the TSA sees all sorts of passengers in a day. LACK OF QUALITY CONTROL! This constitutes a major Fail if you’re using it as porn!

    You want issues with the system? Here are some LEGITIMATE issues with it.
    1. It’s expensive as hell.
    2. It requires training to use properly.
    3. Maintenance is expensive as hell.
    4. It uses electricity like a hog. Not exactly Energy Star Compliant, here.
    5. Not everyone -can- be screened with it. Pacemakers, other medical implants, too fat, too tall, too old, too young… All out.
    6. If they swallow a bomb, the TSA won’t see it, even with this device. And yes, you CAN swallow more than enough explosive to down a plane without harming yourself until you set it off. And yes, the IED -CAN- be designed to be externally triggered after being swallowed.
    7. The people that are -actually- likely to blow up a plane, at this point, won’t be going through checkpoint. They’ll be checking a bag, and then never boarding so that they can do it again.
    8. The things the TSA is required to allow, because people whined about losing some of their “rights” (which, by the way, the ones they whined about are NOT rights, they are privileges we’ve gotten used to having) include sports balls and knitting needles. If you ever see me getting on a plane, and I have a basketball, or a football? Don’t get on that plane. Call the police, because everyone on that flight is dead. It’s a simple matter to fill a gas-bladder with, for instance, Sarin. And on a plane, with an enclosed air system? It won’t dissipate. And the pilots are on the same air supply.

    The biggest issue with this machine is that ITS LOOKING FOR THE WRONG THINGS AND COSTS TOO MUCH TO RUN. If you’re going to complain, complain about the right things, don’t invent problems that aren’t there. There are enough that are.

  2. Oh, I almost forgot: the only systems currently available that will see -through- a person? DO have the potential to cause cancer. And produce images that are much harder to make out, because they are hard to properly focus.

  3. Kevin, I enjoy you blog, but the “naked scanners” controversy is hardly news, at least in Europe. There have been heated civil rights and personal rights discussions in Germany about that technology for many months now, since 2008. And I’ve seen it discussed on American websites and news sites too since… I dunno, quite a while.

    Here in Germany, fear of a surveillance society, of data abuse and the “transparent citizen” are hot topics with the Liberal Left and people who lived under former East Germany’s regime.

    If the demented dreams of scanner manufacturers and some politicians were to become reality, we may soon not only see these scanners in airports, but anywhere where large groups of people have to be processed by Security, i.e. large train stations, federal buildings, (American) schools…

    The problem is that the scanners are being hailed as
    1) the latest in “anti-terror” protection (against all the evil mustachio-swirling terrorists roaming our airports and smuggling explosive toothpaste), and
    2) a way to protect(!) travellers’ modesty, because with these scanners, people don’t have to be patted down by airport security or remove parts of their clothing, or at least that’s how it is being sold to the public.

    “But your privacy is being protected!” they protest, “Security personnel will be the only ones to see these pictures (and of course be very professional about it), and your face will be digitally obscured, and this data will never ever turn up somewhere it doesn’t belong or be abused…” and so on.

    People who voice concerns about personal rights, x-ray exposure (esp if scanning becomes mandatory), cost vs effectiveness of this technology and the question of who will have access to the pictures, if that data is being logged and if so how long these digital pictures will be stored are often shouted down. Here in Germany, our Federal Minister for Internal Affairs and Security, Wolfgang Schäuble, would just love to be allowed to start his own Department of Homeland Security.

  4. I wonder how that system will deals with people in wheel chairs, people who cannot hold their arms over their head due to joint pain, etc.

  5. Back to the comic, why is the lizard man king suddenly dead, too? Or did he fall asleep? I can’t quite see Bunker murdering the king in cold blood.

    Bunker should have a long word with Enkidu and Martin…

  6. @Misha: Your points are all very well made, but I wasn’t exactly “complaining.” (Speaking a bit to Christina here too…) I understand that these systems have been around and reported on for awhile, but it was the first I had heard of them, so I thought that it was likely that others were unaware as well. Rather than complain I was trying to describe the system in a funny way for those of us who had never been exposed to it.

    That said, I do believe that the technology carries the potential for abuse. Just because the images are not useful as pornography doesn’t mean that Oprah would want her naked blue butt splashed across the cover of every tabloid from here to the other side of here. It took me less than a minute to find backscatter images of European celebs online, and I guarantee you that nearly, if not every one of them, would much rather have had a beautiful masturbatory fantasy pic up than a lumpy, pinched, and alien looking image with their name attached to it. I would anyway.

    And think about that. One of the outside operators calls you on the walkie-talkie and tells you that Oprah is in your scanner right now. You suddenly find yourself looking at a singularly unflattering image of an aging TV star. Her pic is going to auto delete seven seconds after you hit the ALL-CLEAR button, but you have a flash drive in your pocket. That pic is worth literally millions of dollars — because it’s ugly.

    Now maybe you would never consider it. Some folks probably wouldn’t. But some folks would consider it, and some folks wouldn’t consider not stealing that image. And that doesn’t even touch the present issue of paparazzi with backscatter cameras on the street, or the future of cameras such as this, as technological limitations are overcome, and businesses start installing them to see what’s in everyone’s pockets…

    Anyway, if I ever get a vote, I’ll take the pat down.

  7. Oh, I almost forgot. The last thing that happened was Martin showing up with a baby lizardman on a stick, talking about how they tasted like cornish hen. It is safe to assume a bit more violence after that point.

  8. Shouldn’t the title theme of “Lion King” be playing now? I think I hear Elton John calling for his royalties… 🙂

    “On a stick!” LOL! Nice.

    Oh, airport security just sucks and it is really up to us individuals to look around and report stuff. Unfortunately there are way too many people who listen to AND believe Rush Limbaugh or FOX News for that to ever work…

    Hate mail starts…. now…

  9. @Christina: The device -won’t- handle a wheelchair, or someone who can’t lift their arms. This is one of the very real problems with using it in its current form for security.

    @Kevin: I owe you an apology, sir. This one hit one of my own “hot buttons”, and I responded before I cooled down. Sorry… (As it happens, I’m with the TSA, one of the screeners in fact, although I’m Checked Baggage rather than Checkpoint.)

    @Byron: Speaking as one of the screeners, I can tell you, our system doesn’t suck as much as people think in most ways, but in the important ones, well… Let’s just say that since I joined the TSA, I wouldn’t choose to fly.

  10. @Byron: What? Pay attention to our surroundings and report suspicious activities? Take responsibility for our own safety?

    Why, that goes against everything America stands for! 😉

  11. @Hilary: Interestingly enough, while the scanner listed above won’t catch drugs in one’s gut, the police at the airports routinely -do- manage to catch people doing this (I don’t know how, but they do). We hear about people like this in our daily briefings on a regular basis. They’ve actually come to be sort of a running gag amongst us. Best way to smuggle drugs? In your bloodstream… (-:

  12. How they catch you smuggling drugs in a balloon in your stomach: someone in charge of you hands you over to save their own ass. Then cops make you stay in a room till you have to crap. Very simple, really. Sometimes they also detain people who just look sketchy. I mean who really flies back and forth from Panama twice a week? As far as the scanner goes: hell yeah it is all about looking at the cute girls naked. Ever seen a cute girl go thru a metal detector that just keeps going off for some reason? And the fat security pigs make her strip as much as possible, then rub their wand all over her? Guess what: they don’t think she’s a terrorist. Misha you seem to know what you’re talking about – so I know you’ve seen that stuff. Don’t deny it goes on.

  13. I can say for certain that it’s never gone on that blatantly at my airport while I was working on the checkpoints; beyond that, I don’t have first hand knowledge. I -do- know that you will never get a male officer doing “secondary screening” (what we call the bit with the wanding and the pat-down) on a female passenger. TSA’s too afraid of the sexual harrassment lawsuits. Actually, we’ve had some passengers claim that they were being groped as it is, but y’know? I’ve noticed, and this is serious, that it’s only ever been passengers that NOBODY would WANT to grope that have complained of it, at least that -I’ve- ever been able to find out about.

  14. I used to work at a courthouse in a small town, as a clerk. The guards who ran the metal detectr were pigs in the worst way. Until an ex-Marine with a bigass handlebar mustache quietly joined and was shortly thereafter put in charge in response to many complaints. He told me: “Most of the people coming in here have a gun in their car. I’m nice to them, so they don’t have a reason to go get it and bring it back here.” It was like the wild west. Everyone was terrified of him. It ruled.