The Over-Friendly Skies
Oh, man- I really dread getting into this. This whole security check thing at our nation’s airports has us acting like the sky’s falling; maybe it is.
You’ve heard about the new- more intrusive- checks carried out by the Transportation Security Administration (and more importantly, its minions working at hubs like Dulles); the pat-downs have ramped up to an invasive search of your ‘private’ areas and the see-through imaging pretty much leaves nothing to the imagination, as far as the shape of your nude body is concerned.
We’ve heard all this, and a lot of us are really upset about it.
Did this really come about just because of the jerk who recently tried to smuggle explosives into the US from Amsterdam?
If so, how is this new stuff supposed to help in cases like that?
Sorry, but if our problem is how to protect our country from terrorists entering our airspace, how are these new security measures supposed to help?
Kinda like fixing the barn door to keep the pigeons from roosting in the cupola.
Doesn’t make a direct connection.
Anyway, I’m not as upset by these new TSA security measures (at airports like Dulles) as some of my friends and colleagues are, but I do have some food for thought about the bigger picture.
How would we feel if our nation- due to increased risk of violence in our schools- forced an invasive body search and X-Ray imaging of every child (and teachers, too- even administrators), every school day- just to be on the safe side?
How would you like to be groped on your way into church- just to make sure you don’t have a bomb on your person?
And another thing- if- as I’ve heard some of the ‘experts’ comment on CNN- some of the more desperate terrorists are starting to hide explosives in their bodily orifices, are we gonna put up with the insertion of fingers or other devices in these places, too- again, just to be safe?
How much indignity will you withstand in the name of safety?
And- will all these procedures really keep us safe?
So- some day in the not-too-distant future- you may be driving your personal (or business) vehicle- minding your own- and, instead of coming upon those intermittent Driver License checkpoints conducted by the authorities- you’ll be asked to step out of the car and submit to a full body examination- all areas, all orifices, etc, etc- you get the idea.
Kinda makes you want to make sure you take a shower before leaving the house, don’t it?
And don’t forget all sporting events- they’d make great opportunities for full body searches and X-Ray imaging.
And all music concerts.
If I wanted to see the Rolling Stones once more before I die (it’s now apparent that they never will), I may have to endure worse physical treatment than any of the violent sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll in their repertoire.
How about malls- any big shopping areas?
Better cover them, too.
And make sure you give Granny the works- she looks a bit suspicious to me.
And that little boy. He’s acting a bit odd.
(Could you blame him?)
Maybe there’ll come a day when we don’t even have to go to the security checkers: they’ll come to us!
Imagine a knock on your door- any time of the day or night- and some guys with fancy equipment enter and order you and your family to line up and get ready to undergo ‘The Search.’
“Bend over, Mr Robinson.”
Sounds kinda like 1930’s Germany, right?
“Well, didn’t we fight those guys?”
We sure did.
A lot of us feel like we won ’cause we were on the right side.
….. I know, I know, I’m going overboard here.
At least I hope I am.
We’re not there yet, George Orwell.
But, some may see these TSA security procedures as a step in the direction of a comprehensive loss of our personal freedoms.
How much are we willing to withstand in order to maintain safety in our skies?
I’d like to hear more from some of the wiser individuals of our country on this; so far, we’ve heard from a lot of clowns, hot-air balloons and puppets.
Where are our sages?
Building our Way Out
And- for those who just can’t get enough stories in the ‘questionable intelligence’ column, let’s take a look at the local school system’s early Christmas wish list; you’ll recall that they plan to ask Santa for $919 million- just to cover facility construction and maintenance over the next five-year planning period.
“So- what happens after that?”
Aye, Laddy, there’s the rub.
It’ll never really be over, I’m afraid.
After we get done building all those schools, we’ll just plan to build even more- as long as our population keeps exploding like some mutant lemming species gone riot.
We keep adding to our student body by about 3,000 pupils per year, and we have the audacity- or outright stupidity- to act surprised, even angry- that our school system actually requires buildings to house the acts of education.
Well, fancy that.
We’re making our bed with a gold coverlet, and planning to sleep overnight in a motel.
That makes good fiscal sense.
You know, if we need to build almost a dozen schools in that next half-decade of planning, it makes private and home-schooling a lot more attractive, doesn’t it?
And what about all those programs to get your GED right over the Internet?
If everybody’s got a home computer, how about using them to educate our kids instead of spending our way into oblivion, just because that’s the way it’s always been done?
The human mind is a highly creative organism, and it’s far beyond time for some truly out-of-the-box thinking on the way we teach our kids.
The 21st Century picture of congested roadways, violence-prone campuses, expensive facilities and programs (not to mention finding and purchasing the land to put them on), and increasingly busier working parents certainly leaves something to be desired; it seems we’re doing a good job of teaching our offspring to join and propagate the rat race.
Right now, I got my money on the rats.
Jack Kerouac’s First Novel (but not as good)
Leesburg will one day be a city. It’s just a matter of time.
It may not happen while many of us are enjoying life in the physical form, but it’s something I’ve been hearing about for close to 15 years now.
The Town Council decided to broach the subject in this year’s legislative agenda for the wise Senators and Delegates down in Richmond; the most that can happen is that the General Assembly lifts the current moratorium on municipalities like Leesburg transitioning to City Status.
Then, the Town would have to go through the mechanics of actually going that route.
You know how long it can take the folks down in Richmond to get something done- especially when every elected Senator and Delegate has a differing opinion from his or her colleagues?
It could take decades just to lift the restriction.
But, back to Leesburg.
Mayor Kristen Umstattd- as shrewd a soul as I’ve seen in elected office this side of the State Capitol- always told me that gaining City Status for Leesburg would be more a matter of numbers than anything else.
What she meant was- it’ll be based on population and projected tax revenue.
When the Town turns to City, it’ll need to provide more services (remember that talk we just had on education?); the residents will also stop paying County taxes at that time.
I think the figure we discussed on the subject was about 50,000.
That’s about how many people we’d need to tally up in order to take this City Status thing seriously.
Right now, I think we’re at about 40 grand- about 10,000 short.
And that is- if that financial formula still holds for the issue.
And when will we be at 50,000?
Well, judging from the population growth figures, my best guess is about the Year 2020.
And- judging from my experience watching the doings- and non-doings- down in Richmond- it’s probably a good idea to ask the elected leaders in the General Assembly to start the ball rolling on this.
They still have tobacco leaves on the ceiling, after all.
And, as a lesson in our different our Commonwealth is from some of her sister states across the nation, we note that- in a year in which California flirted with the idea of legalizing marijuana- one of our local Senators wants to criminalize even the synthetic variety across Virginia. Mark Herring plans to introduce legislation which would make it illegal to possess or sell that stuff called K2 or spice.
It’s generally sold as ‘incense,’ but it’s laced with chemicals which cause similar effects to naturally-grown cannabis.
Leesburg Police announced that local residents have started using this stuff; around the country, several states have outlawed the substance, and several more are in the process of doing so.
Senator Herring’s Bill would treat synthetic marijuana pretty much the same as the real stuff: a Class One Misdemeanor for less than a half-ounce, and up to 30 years in prison for possession of more than five pounds.
The question I asked myself about this was: “Would you want your kids taking this stuff indiscriminately?”
Well, then- maybe it’s a good thing we’re not California.
Here’s a freebie for anyone who’s fresh out of ideas on a great holiday experience in Loudoun County for this year: go get a taste of Oatlands’ Christmas.
Tours are $10 for adults; where can you take a date for any less?
I love the place myself, and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from anyone who’s set foot on the property.
The Holiday Tours take you inside the mansion and around the grounds- letting you in on some of the history of the place- and that it has, in spades.
For those coming in during the fourth quarter, Oatlands is a former 19th century plantation, now a National Historic Site and Landmark.
It’s a little bit of Old South, right here in Loudoun County.
We still need to talk more about the facilities, acreage and history of Oatlands, but for now- check out their website: www.oatlands.org.
I only list websites for close personal friends and great causes. This is both.
If you’ve seen me delivering mail in Purcellville over the past week, I admit to surrendering to the cold weather: (I held out as long as possible, believe me!) I broke out the wind-breaker, hat, gloves and buttoned-up shirt front. I even rolled up my window in between box deliveries.
I tell ya, though- it makes you appreciate a hot shower and a home-cooked meal when you get home, though.
Not to mention a chair that’s not moving you around at the pressure of several G-forces.
My Supervisor told me she decided not to have any snow this year; I hope she’s right.
I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery required by last February’s digging.
Let that one be a ‘hundred-year storm.’
You know, the day before Thanksgiving, it was so warm it almost looked comical to see people putting up Christmas decorations; by the day after Thanksgiving, the chill in the air made it all kinda make sense.
As I jokingly say to my colleagues: “Enjoy it while it lasts.”
Tim Jon for the Blue Ridge Leader