Rocky Road

Fraysters on the Academy host and HOV lanes.

Rock Solid: Splendid_IREny’s take on Chris Rock’s politics nails it: it’s all about context. Rock’s Booker T-ish shtick shouldn’t be parsed from (a) his primary audience and (b) his presentation. SI here:

Rock is dangerous in the way Lenny Bruce was dangerous in that he tells the truth. Granted, he’s not saddled with Bruce’s problems, and that’s what’s so absurd about the Drudge contingent and all their misgivings and hand-wringing over Rock’s handling of the Oscar ceremony. Rock’s comments are nothing he should apologize for; in fact, those comments are what’s going to increase the television audience for the Oscars.

…Rock will continue to do what any good comedian does: He takes a cultural and social pulse. That the pious Drudgers and Drudgettes can take him so literally without listening literately guarantees Rock will get some new material. And that the same people won’t get it.
Chmike wants to know:
when did being against crime, believing that decisions on terminating a pregnancy should not be taken frivolously, and thinking that money is better spent on tangible wealth-building assets than bling for your car become traits exclusive to conservative Republicans? The notion that these concepts are antithetical to Liberals and Democrats is exactly the type of misconception that conservative authoritarians love to propagate.
Whether there’s merit to Rockophobia or not, the Academy has got to be loving the tizzy, writes lucabrasi here, particularly “in a year when its main nominated films are hardly of Hobbit/Titanic popularity.” The ConstitutionState: There’s lots of good stuff in Supreme Court Dispatches Fray in response to Dahlia Lithwick’s reporting on Kelo v. New London, in which the municipality wants to condemn some private land (compensating the owners) and hand it to private developers for a revitalization project for the blighted area. Many of the posts, such as WatchfulBabbler’s here and Geoff’s here, take Lithwick up on her challenge to fraysters to “win this case (for either side) in just four words.” O_Hellenbach deftly points out the paradox of the case:
The interesting thing about the New London case is how it confuses people’s sympathies. The same people who think big private development by megacorporations is wonderful stuff that’s great for everybody also tend to take a dim view of the government taking people’s property. On the other hand, big-government types who think it’s fine to condemn private land for the greater good of all are also likely to bristle when large powerful business interests convince the government to force little people out of their homes so that a rich powerful developer can make a killing.
And Joe_JP injects privacy and the Takings Clause into the conversation, alluding to a post authored by OzarkLawyer on the subject here that melds the legal and the personal. HOVagrants: Is RachelCA1 a bad person? After watching several poser carpoolers zoom past her on the 405 in rush hour traffic — a commute that takes her over an hour, Rachel realized:
When was the last time I even saw a cop on the freeway in morning traffic? I never do, unless he’s responding to an accident. And even if there were a cop, he’s not going to be spending his time inspecting the interiors of cars in the car pool lane. And even if he WERE inspecting the interiors of cars in the car pool lane, he couldn’t catch all of them. So what did I do?

I got in the car pool lane and made it to work in 15 minutes.

I felt a little guilty, but I would have felt like a fool if I’d stayed put in that horrific traffic (it was worse than normal, due to an earlier accident).

I’m going to do this every day.

The way I see it, I’m risking a $300 fine for a car-pool violation. If I get caught, I’ll gladly pay the fine, but I doubt that I’d get caught more than once a year if I used the HOV lane every day back and forth to work. I’m probably saving $300 in gas and brake pads by driving at a consistent speed rather than stop-and-go anyways.
Assign Rachel a civics grade here. Zinya sees the HOV lane, however ineffective it may be at times, as “a symbolic statement of societal priorities we ought to be heeding.”Guilty Pleasures: There’s nothing new in m-’s screed on the gluttony of the American piglet, but it still makes for a fun read. And Fray Editor was surprised to see EarlyBird expound on the virtues of the slow food movementKA 4:45 p.m.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

As a precocious young political junkie, Fray Editor was presented with The Making of the President series by FrayMom one Chanukah (most definitely on night 3 or 4, when the books and Far Side calendars were traditionally doled out) in the mid-80s. Kennedy-obsessed FrayMom grew up on Theodore White’s seminal series, and when she observed that pre-adolescent Fray Editor was beginning to absorb politics with the same sort of ferocity, she figured it was time to introduce her kid to the narrative of politics. Fray Editor devoured the White volumes and, for the first time, realized that politics wasn’t so much a battle of ideologies, but a living historical novel whose characters were far more textured than their comparatively insipid ideas. As much as Fray Editor enjoyed White, it wasn’t until the cool, pothead-in-training bunkmate at summer camp from Newton, Massachusetts shared his copy of Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail that Fray Editor truly embraced non-fiction as something other than the transcription of order, and a campaign as more than a linear proceeding. It was magical and transcendent that something I studied in Mr. Tyree’s Social Studies class could be conveyed on the page with utter impunity. How could something so deliciously profane not betray the truth, but actually illuminate it? Needless to say, Fray Editor never saw politics in the same light, nor did I ever scrutinize it with the same credulity. Occupational hazard requires Fray Editor to spin through the blogosphere to read the musings of our armchair imitators. While Thompson has influenced a generation, few have seized the mantel. Fraysters on the life and death of Hunter S. Thompson:

…I think what is most interesting about Thompson is not his contribution to the Gonzo style of journalism, designed to excite and shock rather than passively inform, nor his upfront excesses from drug use to characterizations, but his raw candor. That rawness of personality, that upfront in your face, ‘take it or not, who really cares’ and damn the torpedoes is something that we’ve lost in a day of scripted appearances, controlled access to the press based upon content, spin and management of the theme from softball questions from paid journalists and columnists on the take to stages that paradoxically communicate the desired result of a policy by projecting slogans on the walls (’fixing social security’) regardless of the contrary consequences.

Thompson had become, like our affinity for truth and protest and suspicion of authority, a relic of a time when individual awareness was more prized and a belief in the difference one person can make were more a part of our make up.

… It’s a shame that Thompson hit his peak and followed a curve in ways that reflect the ascendancy and decline of our candor and questioning. It’s a shame that we care so little for candor these days and instead seem to care more for ‘appearances’ over the underlying truths that motivate our actions … and that there wasn’t much place any more for an in your face teller of tales about reality designed to excite and shock. We, somehow, became inured to shock and rejected candor for the illusion of safety.

Thompson will be missed for that candor more than anything else—that fearlessness reflected in his work, if not his life.–Demosthenes2[Find this post here.]
Thompson was an American Original. You might disagree with his views or his lifestyle, but you cannot dispute his honesty. He never pulled a punch, never considered the consequences to himself; he always called it as he saw it. He was vicious, merciless, pitiless, and played to win (almost) every time (aside from the rare occasion when he bet with his heart instead of his head). These tendencies came from the most ironic of sources – Thompson was a supremely sensitive person. He felt pain and fear and disgust and the sting of injustice and indignation for hypocrisy more than any other author I’ve ever read … The Rage that he channeled the ugliness of the world into was among the purest things put on paper during the 20th century.

…The fact is that no matter where you fall on the political spectrum if you’re interested in politics today you owe a lot to Thompson. He wasn’t a Liberal or a Conservative or a Communist or a Libertarian, though people have tried to paint him as all of the above. He was that rarest of creatures in today’s political landscape: a true, involved, Independent … He developed his political belief system for himself. He questioned ALL authority, Republican or Democrat. He was a true Individual; very few people have a right to call themselves that today, despite the fact that many do…By being the voice of insanity he was the voice of reason. He didn’t always stick to the facts, but he always told the Truth, even when it hurt and even about himself (see: “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved”). He was a patriot and an outlaw and a creator and a one-of-a-kind original…–Evidence[Find this post here.]
It was always about struggle with Thompson …You might say that he regarded his mind as like a car he’d continually try to ratchet up, jack up, juice up in the hopes of getting the engine and suspension to take a sharp corner faster, meaner, noisier, with the thought of eventual disintegration for the moment blocked out by the sheer mania and exhilaration that such speeds and near misses give you. But his mind fried, he wrote less, he mumbled more in public utterances and talks, he broke bones, his manner was a text book illustration of the word “fried.”

It was as if the synapses that had fired and given the world “Hells Angels” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” had fused the ends of his nerve endings and made it an impossible operation to change style, outlook, interest. Other writers of similar aesthetic, ala Mailer, Wolfe, found new voices, bigger subjects, subtler means to put forth their arguments with existence. Thompson was frozen in time, attempting to sustain himself on sparking fits of rage and guile, coming up with little that was new, as it must be for an artist to keep a pulse worth beating.

The real pisser is that he lived all these years knowing that he hadn’t another good book in him. This might have been his biggest pain to endure, and it might have the one he meant to stop once and for all.–Ted_Burke[Find this post here.]
…Thompson wasn’t a leftist. He recognized palpably that when speaking of the people in power, it isn’t the people that matter, but the power. He saw that the old adage about power corrupting is mostly false; only the already corrupt or the eagerly corruptible seek office and power, which is why the system so lauded by the memoirists of the Republic will be neither saved nor reformed. His lament, although uttered in his own peculiar diction, should be familiar to all of us: that no one good or honest enough to be president, would ever run. But he saw worse than that; he saw that as a people we prefer organized thievery to anarchy; he took Franklin’s aphorism–that those who’d sacrifice freedom for temporary security deserve neither freedom nor security–and suggested, with a raised eyebrow, that Americans fall inescapably into the latter category. Thompson destroyed himself with drugs, liquor, and firearms because he knew it was preferable to being destroyed, which will be the fate of most of the rest of us…Hunter S. understood and explained better than Foucault and a whole generation of academics the mechanism of madness and the nature of a power that conceals itself even as it acts. He consciously made himself into the medieval madman–the only figure permitted his heresy. He said a man’s body and mind are inviolable to all forces but a man’s own volition, and he said that if any sonofabitch ever tries to take your land, you ought to shoot him. Increasingly, we’re left only with Democrats and Republicans; the more I live, the more I see these callow imitators replacing free men.–IOZ[Find this post here.]
The Colonel is shocked and saddened to report the untimely passing of one of his intellectual heroes, the celebrated, vitriolic, exasperating, impossible-to-fuckin-categorize and thoroughly inimitable Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor/instigator of “Gonzo Journalism.” Thompson exemplified the spirit not only of the seventies, but America itself. Not the narcissistic, pompous, disco-beat thaumaturgy of retread 60’s radicals searching for salvation in carrot juice and communes, but the scathing rage and fury of a man who sought to reconcile his love of drugs and guns with his deep hatred of counterculture frauds and mainstream hacks with their maudlin caterwauling and insipid moralizing.

The irony of his self-inflicted escape from this pen of shit and iniquity is that, as of this morning, say 0800 hours, a parade of “tributes” in the most treacly tone imaginable will begin to flood the airwaves and cyberspace, each trying to outdo the last in finding “good” in a man who was dedicated above all to one thing: his liver, and its annihilation. The Colonel has seen too much of this life to ever criticize the man who has “done it all,” found his mouth filled with the foul taste of hypocrisy, and decided to destroy its presence with limitless quantities of Scotch, Bourbon, and rotgut brewskis.Let the mourning begin, however false, however foul. The Colonel will remember one of his influences for his own inimitable style by way of one of his most depraved and emblematic anecdotes: Thompson, warned by his doctor that his gullet was being fried by a duodenal ulcer spewing copious amounts of bile and acid from his stomach to his throat, decided that the special effects of gin could not be lost to his pickled body. He procured a medical hypodermic needle with a five inch needle, filled it with Tanqueray, and injected the fucker DIRECTLY into his stomach, giving him reprieve from enforced sobriety.
That’s Gung-Ho dedication worthy of a Marine, fellas.Hunter S. Thompson: you will be missed, but you will not be mourned. We know better than to insult your memory like that.–Col-BullKurtz[Find this post here.]
…as a teenager, I had one hero: Hunter S. Thompson, archetypal anti-hero and gonzo-journalist extraordinaire. Like William Burroughs and Ed Abbey, men I would come to later, Thompson was always digging, needling, scraping and peeling away, trying to pierce through to the fundamental rottenness he was convinced lurked beneath the shiny veneer of so much of our hypocritical, self-satisfied, unquestioning American ways. As a person, Thompson, like Burroughs, left much to be desired, but the spirit was all nobility, even when the vessel was confused, strung-out, stupid. Like Abbey, he wrote incisive, cutting, and funny pieces where the villains were often unfairly portrayed and one-dimensional, but from which you came away convinced of the fundamental “rightness” of the author’s take on things.–Collegiate_Friend_o’_Tempo’s_Kid[Find this post here ]

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dahlia Lithwick’s examination of Staunton, Virginia’s Weekday Religious Education program generates some incisive conversation.

BenK’s opening shot, titled “Again, the Secularist blind spot,” is notable not just for its suggestion that secularism is as creedal as the next faith, but for the bevy of responses from Jurisfraysters. [Fray Editor should probably disclaim that he attended a religious primary school, an experience that required him and his classmates to don yarmulkes on field trips to wander the notable Confederate attractions in the Atlanta area while the kids from the Brimstone Pentecostal Academy of Gwinnett County, mouths agape, inspected for little pointy tails emanating from our parachute pants.]BenK writes:

Once again the ideal that seems to be hard to find but everybody ought to somehow be searching for is, according to Lithwick, some “secular source of moral instruction.”

That’s great to her, because… she is a secularist.

But just as Christianity appears all inclusive to those community members, secularism seems religiously neutral, obviously true, and all inclusive to Lithwick (and quite a few of the modern ‘church or state’ advocates). They are in fact advancing a religion under the guise of no religion.

This is naturally blatant persecution of other religions, to discount them as compared to secularism. What may not be possible is to eliminate the idea of a single dominant religion from our society. And that will leave us with a choice between the various options, including secularism.

However, if we need to make that choice, we shouldn’t make it by default…
Is Lithwick’s countryman, Neil Peart of Rush, correct in singing, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”?  Joe_JP, here,and Thrasymachus don’t think so. T answers:
Newsflash: most Americans don’t actually want to see religion clothed in the authority of the State. Labeling that principle “Secularism” and then discounting it as yet another “religion”, no more deserving of “preference” than Christianity or Judaism (to name the only two tolerated examples) is both intellectually and theologically obtuse.

It’s actually kind of amusing that, when moral relativism’s chickens truly and finally came home to roost, it was the Christian Fundamentalists who ended up embracing it the most.
BenK cracks back:
[Secularism] it has dogmatic beliefs about things like human anthropology, the origin of rituals and behaviors … it also comes with rituals and important professions and sources of authority. It is tied up with and preoccupied by science, although the sciences are not themselves tied to it.
In the same thread, JRudkis maintains:
The First Amendment was only applied to the Federal Government until the early 1900’s (when the 14th amendment incorporated the first against the states). Massachusetts had an official religion until 1830ish, indicating to me that the original intent was to allow the states to apply religion as they saw fit.
ClaudeScales reads a very invidious subtext into the cry of “states rights.” To BenK and others he responds:
I spent much of my childhood and youth in parts of Florida that were then, unlike Miami and environs, very much socially and politically part of the South. These years (1954-67) coincided with the most intense period of the civil rights struggle. During that time, “states rights” was the battle cry of those who wished to perpetuate the evil system of racial segregation then prevalent in that region. That’s why I have a bit of a problem seeing “states’ rights” as a bulwark of protection for minorities.

I’ve read enough of your posts to understand the ugly vision you advocate: let whatever group is dominant in a particular locality do what it will to make life uncomfortable for those it seeks to exclude, and let the hapless losers “vote with their feet.” This is not the nation I want to call home.

Perhaps you will argue that human nature is just too crabbed and nasty to try to impose minimal standards of toleration on it. I know that hate can’t be legislated away, but I do think there should be national standards imposing limits on hateful conduct and prohibiting wrongful discrimination.
All this a little too austere for you? Read diggydawg’s prescription here. One frayster, AllanM, is an actual graduate of Staunton’s WRE program:
As kids, none of us knew that WRE wasn’t a school activity. When the teacher told us it was time for “Bible school”, we all got up and went. It was like going to lunch, or to recess, or to an assembly. Bible School was in a small building which I now realize was a trailer, and which I heard years later was technically not on school property, but these differences were too subtle for us as kids. Flying over the elementary school in a helicopter, you’d assume that the small outbuilding was part of the school compound. Inside, it had desks and a blackboard, just like our other classroom.

…This morning, when I called my father to mention the article, he told me that he had urged me not to attend, telling me about the First Amendment. I have no memory of this - I would have been in first or second grade. Apparently, I sat by myself in the classroom for the first class of Bible School, and came home insisting that my parents let me do it, Constitution or no.

The lessons of Bible School were fairly milquetoast - a tepid complement to what I got every weekend in Sunday School and Church. But even if they were “noncoercive” and “non-state” to the parents, the School Board, and the community, they were just a part of school to us as kids. If the kids think Bible is another subject, like Math and Social Studies, does it really matter how administrative duties are divided, or where the money comes from?
For a more nuanced discussion of constitutional issues, check out the back-and-forth thread between JF mavens HLS2003 and JohnLex7 that begins here. In essence, HLS posits that the WRE case is less a debate about the establishment of religion than a distinction between “textualism” and “living rights” … KA 10:40 a.m.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Workers’ Playtime: A slave to the trappings of urban bachelorhood, Fray Editor prefers the indicting, unsentimental Billy Bragg interpretation on this farkakte holiday, but will gladly surrender Fraywatch to the whims of the Fray’s more romantic sorts. In Poems Fray, martingreene got things kicked off with this thread, a compilation of Valentine’s Day poems, both “original or not,” including works by Iris-2 and RyckNelson, among many others. And Ted_Burke dedicates a trio of original poems to some of the  Fray’s leading ladies.  

Over in BOTF, DawnCoyote offers up this confessional:

I’ve got a crush on you…in a non-specific, generalized sort of way.

It’s a Fray-crush.

I come here often, looking for you. When I find you here, my pulse kicks, my breath comes shallow and quick, my pupils dilate. I reach out to stroke the shiny black keys of my keyboard, to connect, and, ohhh…

Any guesses, BOTFers?

Thar She Blows: In case you missed the initial release, Universal has released a documentary, Inside Deep Throat, paying homage to the making of and the fallout from the 1972 porn classic. Answering Laura Kipnis’ notion that the film was a “deeply absurdist” fantasy — albeit a “good-natured” one “in which male and female bodies and desires correspond with one another far better than they do back here on terra firma.  Splendid_IREny takes issue:

… Kipnis’ attempt to assess the film as offering a perfect world solution to excuse the majority of men from learning the difference between the vagina and clitoris is intellectually vapid.

Healthy sexuality has nothing to do with the images in pornography. Even in terms of the male’s orgasm, the “money” shot is nothing more than the ubiquitous explosion of action films. We know it’s a joke and we’ve learned to expect the joke.

The joke of pornography, however, isn’t the bad story, the bad acting or the bad attempts to make implausible seem plausible, i.e. Deep Throat. It’s that pornography is not about sex. For all the myriad combinations of sexual entries, we may as well be watching circus freaks performing triple lutzes on an ice rink. Pornography is a means of satisfying boredom, of performing rote physical acts…I hate to rain on the nostalgia parade, but women only getting orgasms from giving oral sex is nearly as absurd as men only gaining orgasms from giving cunnilingus all night.

The theatrics don’t really botherCaptainRonVoyage:

Somebody feminist and intelligent finally recognizes the obvious: porn is *fiction*, as “real” as Kabuki. The whole point of porn is that it’s *not* like life … And in most cases, it’s not even like an idealized version of life - porn films almost always involve some kind of needless obstacle being removed. What makes porn porn is not sex; it’s getting something too easily…

You can’t “objectify” a fictional character any more than you can oppress Lady MacBeth. Any feminist (and I say this as one) who talks about porn films objectifying women needs to recognize this absurdity, otherwise they have little credibility. Thank God Laura Kipnis did.

And fredf shares some anecdotes from early 70s Cincinnati here.

Assassin o’ the Day: ShriekingViolet for her hatchet job on Peter Savodnik’s critique of the European Union’s efforts to guide emerging democracies in Eastern Europe:

The subject deserves a far better treatment. It would hardly be possible to construct a cheaper, fouler, more disinguenuous and outright specious jingoistic polemic without picking up the phone and requesting the services of Charles Krauthammer. Savodnik’s screed reeks so pungently of eau de neoconne merde that I’m not sure I can properly analyze this without donning a hazmat suit. But I’ll do my best to try.

How does SV do? Join the thread here. MutatisMutandis composes a nice hit piece on Savodnik, too. 

Miller Obit: From The_Slasher-8, here, whose favorite Arthur Miller work is a bit more obscure. 

Heavyweight Bout: HLS2003 and JohnLex7 have emerged as Jurisprudence Fray’s most intelligent point-counterpoint, routinely engaging one another in elaborate debates on legal matters. Today’s no different, with HLS arguing that Lynne Stewart crossed the line in her defense of Omar Abdel Rahman, and JohnLex taking up the pro-lawyer’s immunity case … KA5:35 p.m.

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Andy Bowers’ piece about a potential security loophole in the airline’s check-in system had fraysters busily contemplating all of the possible permutations by which a fake/valid boarding pass and/or fake/valid ID and/or alert/braindead security screener could result in the foiling of the TSA’s terrorist “no-fly” list.

Concerned3, a self-proclaimed frequent flyer, is underwhelmed by Bowers’ “realization” about this supposed loophole:

First of all, I don’t see what the big realization is about printing two boarding passes. Why would anyone whose name is on the do not fly list have ANY ID which gives their real name? If high school kids can get fake IDs to buy beer, can’t terrorists get them as well? Wouldn’t they have to have fake passports and the like to have even gotten into this country in the first place?

Second, if someone really wanted to cause harm on our nation’s airlines, couldn’t they just take a cue from the world’s drug smugglers and swallow explosives internally? If you’re going to kill yourself anyway in the name of Jihad, would the extra discomfort really be that bad? A car-key remote (or something that looks like one) would be enough for a detonator. And how would you go about screening that one?

Why am I bringing this up? Because I honestly want to feel safer when I fly. I fly a lot for my job, and I have yet to see where the TSA is taking a more pro-active approach to airline security. The writer was correct in saying that the terrorists are smart, and I doubt they would try the same thing twice (which makes x-raying our shoes seem kind of pointless). I can only hope the same goes for attacking our nations air traffic.

TheRanger detects an ideological subtext to Bowers’ rant:

If a terrorist was succesful in getting through to the gate with his real id, what makes him think that the name reference by the bar code would match the substituted name on the pass?

Any level of successful forgery of id requires a level of theft somewhere. The possibilities for that are long:
Fake passport
credit card under an assumed name
altered drivers license
drivers license stolen from a look alike (real or disguised)

I would guess the main purpose of the No Fly list is not boarding passes but immigration where passports must be shown. Again given time and money fake passports can be made too.

I think Bowers is trying to get even with conservatives who paid to see a different movie and then sneake into Fahrenheit 9/11 so Moore wouldn’t get any money.

Predictably, many heaped the blame not on the TSA for its faulty system but on Bowers for being the whistleblower, from lokibob here to space-2, who considers this article tantamount to giving terrorists a “handbook.”

afaderman rises to Bowers’ defense with this plea for transparency:

The idea of “security through obscurity” is that you don’t have to make your systems really secure; all you have to do is keep their flaws under wraps, and trust that nobody malicious will have the brains to figure them out. Practitioners of this sort of “security” paradigm, like Slate’s accusers now, get mad at people who write about flaws in the system.

The problem with security through obscurity is that it doesn’t actually work. Malicious hackers, and terrorists, actually aren’t that stupid. If they were, they wouldn’t be a threat–we could just wait for them to shoot themselves in the foot, like the characters in those “stupid criminal” stories who write “Give me all the money in the till” on the back of an accurately filled-out deposit slip. Trying to protect systems from smart, evil people by hiding their flaws is, in the long term, doomed to failure.

A much better plan is security through scrutiny. Under security through scrutiny, people are public about the flaws in the system. If you find a loophole that lets someone crack a program, or find a flaw that lets terrorists sneak onto airplanes, rather than trying to keep it under wraps, you point it out so that it can be fixed properly. Ideally, you even point out how to fix it.

Speaking of which, forget optical eye scans and other fancy-schmancy technology that will be obsolete as soon as it is implemented in airports across the country. Kah3 suggests this additional safeguard:

the “no fly” list is invoked when you purchase the ticket, not simply checked at a checkpoint on the day you fly. As you can’t purchase a ticket without ID any longer, the loophole is slightly smaller – you have to get a third-party to purchase the ticket in their own, non-no-fly, name and then use that ticket to fly.

(Pardon the intervention of a question by FrayEditor05: is part of the motivation in not denying the purchase of a ticket at this stage precisely to lure known/suspected terrorists to an airport where they could be identified and apprehended by law enforcement?)

Or, alternatively, what about this old-fashioned technique, askscravingpizza:

why not just have the ID-checking official stamp the boarding pass so that no switch can be made?

’course, this wouldn’t affect the fact that a switch isn’t necessary – the fake boarding pass could still have a valid bar code.

GratuitousPython criticizes the naïve assumptions of the TSA in its profiling of terrorists in the first place. Echoing this vote of no-confidence, jerrycomeearly calls this government agency a “colossal failure.”

On a different note, Jamesian cheerfully points out the contradiction  in Stephen Metcalf’s devotion of an entire article  to Spender’s relative unimportance and obscurity in comparison to his Oxford classmates such as Christopher Isherwood and W.H. Auden:

If Spender is as thoroughly forgettable a figure as so much of his posterity seems to think him (and I mean not philistines, nor geniuses, but even the literary folks in that in-between where he dwelled) – if he is so forgettable, why has he not been forgotten? Why does he still star in thick biographies and think-pieces in Slate, etc.?

Here’s an answer: Spender is a bit of comic relief in the great dramas of English letters in the 1930s. The hanger-on hangs on as comic relief, like the piano teacher, Edwin Flagg, in the movie “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” who serves chiefly to react to the drama of the two warring sisters.

Anybody writing about Auden or Orwell ends up writing about Spender. He serves as part of their milieu. He has attained immortality as … furniture in the drama of the “parlor Bolsheviks”.

Not to be confused with champagne socialists or limousine liberals. AC10:59pm