Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Safety Blanket is NOT the TSA

A friend from Colorado recently took a trip by plane and was informed she could have nothing in her hands for the entire trip. It inspired me to write the rant below. I thought it was a bit too inflammatory for a comment on her space, so I posted it here and put a link to it in my comments on her post.

Airport security should not be someone's retired aunt Mertyl with a metal wand asking you, "can you take off your shoes dear," while trying to keep her dentures from falling out because the Dent-u-Cream stopped working an hour ago and she still has ten minutes before her next break. Nor should it be the fuck-wit who sat next to you in high-school history drawing pictures of boobies in his notes, who dropped out and ultimately had to get a GED so he could hold a job, and only has the job in the first place because the entrance exam for entering into public service jobs basically consists of:

A.) fog a mirror
B.) pass a drug test

I have not once found the presence of either of the above (who are otherwise lovely people) remotely reassuring. I'll put it to you another way, someone working a security position without law-enforcement or military training, that I could disable with my bare hands without breaking a sweat, does not make me feel safe. I have the benefit of martial arts training. Their entire job is about keeping me safe. They should have more than that.

What would make me feel safer? Burly guys with badges, uniforms, and guns watching every. single. person. who passes buy. Visible drug and bomb sniffing dogs doing their work. A uniformed U.S. Air Marshal on every flight. Plus knowing that all of this is just a hustle. A bait and switch to draw attention away from the guys who aren't in uniform, but are mixing in with everyone else, listening to chatter, picking up leads, and genuinely working what is a very dangerous job to keep us safe. The mistake being made is in thinking that we can be safe without a visible and effective enforcement presence. Everyone wants to feel safe, but no one wants to get their hands dirty doing it. It's not possible, people.

Even with that, will bombs still make it on to planes? Sadly yes. Will we be attacked again?...yes...yes, we will. What we should not do is make it easy for those who would harm us, and a burly law enforcement agent (male or female) with a HK-MP5, training, and ice in their veins is a better deterrent than my sweet retired auntie.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Originating Dragons, the Unbearable Enthusiasm of 'Meh,' and Other Stuff

More blogging, less excuses

So I know that I've said I would blog more frequently, and I really mean it every time I do, but somehow it never seems to materialize. It's not like I'm hurting for inspiration. It's just that I work in front of a computer all day. By the time I get home the last thing I want to do is anything that feels even remotely like work. That's not really any excuse though. I will try to blog more, and the Christmas weekend is as good an excuse to get started as any. This will be lengthy, and I apologize for that.

Notice I said Christmas not holiday because that's what this weekend fucking is, Christmas. If that bothers you leave an angry letter in the comments so I can say "fuck you" to your 'face.' Seriously, does it bother anyone else that in the interest of not offending the delicate sensibilities of anyone we seem to have scrubbed the identity off of anything that could remotely be construed as belonging to a single group of people, so that days we looked forward to growing up are now special to absolutely no one. I grew up thinking of December 24th and 25th as Christmas, so did my parents, so did theirs, and so on. You know what? These two days belong to the whole world, and the world is full of adults who can embrace them as Christmas, call them Yule, or just celebrate having a day and half off from the soul-destroying jobs that define their miserable existence by getting really drunk and making love to a cat. I don't judge. Just stop destroying our identity in the interest of not offending this person or that person, or that person's dog.

That tirade out of the way...

Google Wave
So...Google is doing this thing, and they have been for a while, where they either buy up a company that is doing something unique with web applications, or they create a new one of their own in an effort to try and reshape how we think of the Internet. I consider myself something of a geek and generally feel warm fuzzies about the evolution of the Internet. That said, there are things I don't like about, but that is (perhaps) the subject of another post. Google Wave's most recent foray in to telling us how to use the Internet, because they're Google and they know best, is Google Wave. On the face of it, it seems kind of cool. You can have real time conversations with a group of people in a manner that looks like chat, but you can see multiple users typing simultaneously and in real time. In other words you see their key strokes. It's possible to drag and drop photos into a 'wave' if you want to share them, and there are plug-ins already that allow you to conduct a basic survey (yes, no, or maybe) and do conferencing. Pretty concept...having used it a bit I can say that my response is an enthusiastic 'meh.' It's painfully slow if you're using it for chat-like functions. I can't bring in people who do not A.) have Google Accounts and B.) have a Google Wave invitation or Google Wave identity. Which means that if someone I know wants to use it, they have to create a new account with Google, which they then have to maintain and check. Most people I know already have more email accounts than they can use (including work I actually have five that I check regularly, not including Facebook). It just isn't useful to me if it's not 'account agnostic.' If I can't invite my friends who are on Yahoo, without forcing them to create an account with Google and accept their terms. I can see Google's side of things, though. World domination just isn't what it's cracked up to be if you can't force people to do what you want.

Dragon Age: Origins
Holy crap. I wouldn't usually blog about a game I'm playing. I play them as hobbies and to relax. In most cases I'm too casual and ambivalent about games to say more than "it was fun, I liked it." More needs to be said about this epic crack-beast from Bioware. It's not just that it's a solid gaming experience, or the characters are particularly well drawn and interesting, or that the world is expansive and richly detailed, or that the dialogue is crisp, witty, and never pedantic; it's that this game is all of these things at the same freaking time! Every year we see more movies and television shows that can't claim one of those things, much less all of them. I'm not going to bore anyone with the details of my character, or what not, but I might comment on the game play from time to time as I wrap up my first play through.

Aging the Origin of Dragons *SPOILERS (FOR ANYONE WHO GIVES A CRAP)*
I lied. I'm playing a female human warrior of about 15th level right now. Don't kid yourself. Any good WoW player knows the hot Dark Elf chick with the sweet armor who's been totally flirting with them for a month is really played by a sweaty 35 year old dude, who doesn't bathe enough, and is living in his mom's garage. I've just completed the Arl of Redcliffe mission. I saved Connor without sacrificing Isolde, because I'm a conscientious do gooder who leaves a swath of dead bodies in her wake as I'm out...doing good. I've also done both the Stone Prisoner and Soldier's Pass missions provided as downloadable content (DLC), so I have the best armor in the game and Shale. Shale is a stone-golem warrior. His fists can crush a man in one blow. He's also terrified of pigeons and wants me to find crystals to adorn him with so he can, and I quote, "glitter from ear to ear, so to speak." Freaking hilarious.

That's enough for now. I'll bore anyone reading this with more later.

That's going to have to be it for now. This has run on longer than a senate committee on holding more senate committees.