No gay marriage in New Jersey, at least for now: the state Senate has defeated the bill
in question. Thanks for not listening to me, my representatives! I wish I could say they'll pay at the ballot box in November, but I've been voting against these people ever since I could, with no effect yet.
(And for the record, I support gay marriage because it's the right thing to do
, because it's an issue of human rights
, and because more human rights for everyone makes everyone's human rights safer
from human rights abusers.)
, scary stories from Borders' slow slide
into oblivion reveal the true meaninglessness of bestseller lists, among other things. Borders is what passes for an independent bookstore in parts around me (sad, I know; the nearest independent bookstore is 45 minutes away, and the nearest independent sff bookstore is more than an hour away in another state), and I've always preferred it to Barnes & Noble for essentially idiosyncratic reasons, but Borders going under would be a body blow to the publishing industry, despite the fact that I can almost never find any of the books I'm actually interested in reading there.
When I was a kid I could browse the shelves and find scads of good books I hadn't read, but as I've grown older and my tastes more discriminating, bookstores' back inventory has simultaneously shrunk; I wandered around my local store for a good 40 minutes last week before deciding to use my $5 coupon on the MMPB of Anathem
. Diversity in what's getting published doesn't mean crap if there's no way to deliver those books to potential readers.
I listened to this story
about increased security for international travelers on NPR on my way home from work and it got me thinking about security procedures I have known. I remain skeptical of geographic profiling for multiple reasons, the most obvious being that geographic profiling wouldn't have caught Richard Reid
, the would-be shoebomber, who has British citizenship. (Also, Cuba? Seriously?)
I'm also skeptical of full-body pat-downs. The only time I've ever had one of those (and I'm sure I won't be able to say that for much longer, given security trends) was when I was connecting through Frankfurt to Shannon via Dublin on an Aer Lingus flight in 2006--everyone on the flight had to line up to be frisked by a security person of the same gender before boarding, after having already gone through airport security. Note, what made me nearly miss my connection to Shannon, and what delayed my luggage joining me for an additional six hours, was the fact that someone had somehow managed to check bags onto our flight without checking themselves in, and we had to wait at the gate for those bags to be pulled out of our plane.
Actually, probably the strictest international air security procedures I have known were in Japan, of all places--I've learned the hard way, when connecting to anywhere in Asia through Narita on a U.S.-flagged flight, not to buy a bottle of tea in the airport, because the staff will make you either throw it away or chug it before you board your plane, despite the fact that this is not actually U.S. security policy. Strangely, Japan also takes the prize for the absolute laxest domestic air security I've seen. I didn't even have to show ID to get my boarding pass when I flew from Kobe to Tokyo, and the less said about the lackadaisical x-ray machine queue, the better.
So, basically, I'm agnostic to both sides of the argument here--I don't think that increased security procedures will make travelers "safer," but I also don't think that current security procedures are actually effective, because in my experience they aren't necessarily. And at some level I also question the assumption that we can and/or should keep death out of our lives, as well as the assumption that "security" trumps privacy, but that's another post.