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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

this is a damn fine essay on airport 'security'

Testing the TSA with Titanium Man 
 Mike Shaughnessy
Guestblogger Dr. Michael Shaughnessy is a German professor who specializes in computer assisted language learning and visual representations of culture at Washington & Jefferson College. He is the director of the CAPL project to provide free CC licensed media to language and culture instructors worldwide.

I have been covertly testing airport security since early 2002. I file no reports and the only notes I take are mental. I am the person that knows when the airport has security holes and still boards the plane. I am titanium man.
OK, enough of the dramatic science fiction; the truth is stranger. I have a few replacement parts installed in my body. Both my right and left humerus are constructed of titanium pins and plates with a number of screws in each arm and my right tibia has a full titanium core with a number of screws to fix it to my ankle and up by my knee. The details of how they all got there would be book length. The short version is that in early 2002 I had to get around in a wheel chair for a while, learn to walk, write, dress myself, eat, cook, all over again. It was an odd rebirth with metal ersatz bones to keep me all together. Unable to use my arms for much at the time due to their reconstruction, I managed to get around by dragging my left foot against the ground to propel the wheelchair. It was much like skateboarding when you get enough momentum to get from place to place.
Oddly enough, one of the first things I did after 4 months in a skilled nursing facility was fly to Canada. At the airport I first noticed how little security there was for me, despite the increased vigilance resulting from 9-11. I was 'wanded' in my wheelchair and of course beeped when wanded on my arms and right leg. After a brief visual inspection, I was simply pushed on by security. At the time, there was no security check of my wheelchair and I could have brought anything stashed in my chair or thick seat cushion. I felt sick being simply pushed by security as I watched a grandmother get special scrutiny. Flying wheelchair bound opened my eyes to the oddities of airport security.................

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