The TSA recently implemented full body scanners—yes, the kind that sees under your clothes, the very thing you would expect if you had X-ray vision—in order to combat security failures, and indeed, they did fail.
You’re on a six-hour flight back home to the east coast when your neighbor starts talking to you halfway through the endeavor. What do you do? Take off your headphones, close your book and open your ears? They ask you where you’re from; you say that you are Nikolas Wallenda, a worldwide traveler and tightrope master. They are amazed, flabbergasted and completely buying it. At the end of the flight, you share a kiss with the person that you know of only as the direct descendent of the original Gerber baby.
Oh, if only flying were still this simple, for in order to get to this nirvana of alternative persona-based romanticism in the skies, one has to give out nude pictures first.
The TSA recently implemented full body scanners—yes, the kind that sees under your clothes, the very thing you would expect if you had X-ray vision—in order to combat security failures, and indeed, they did fail. After reassuring the people of Florida that the machines do not save these pictures, gizmodo.com released 100 of these pictures after a Freedom of Information Act request.
Granted, the released images are grainy, but they were taken by an older system. TSA’s new ones result in a much clearer picture. So clear and piercing, in fact, that Brian Sodgeren, an ordinary citizen with Internet access, called for an opt-out day on Nov. 24.
Instead of getting harmful X-rays pumped into your body for national security, one can choose the “enhanced pat-down” option. And yes, they will be looking for everything—from scissors and liquid to aluminum-wrapped cucumbers in your pants.
With this in mind, there are a number of reasons why, if you plan to plane this season, to reconsider and take a train. Travel writers are worried that people will miss flights on Dec. 24 due to the extra time spent on those who opt out of the body scan—assuming that the inevitable faux-boycott is in full swing. Those that become part of this opt-out are well aware of their own rights, but I wish they would take it a step further and boycott planes, not just inconveniences.
Travel by train can be more expensive, but I believe it is more efficient. In time, with enough people interested in rail, we would get a much-needed update on the infrastructure that made America an economic powerhouse.
Traveling by plane is all about speed and luxury, and sometimes it’s all about the budget. I’ve been on cross-country flights as inexpensive as under $200 and six hours of time. I’ve also driven cross-country and made it in 62 hours. A train ticket to New York from Portland—a 66-hour trip—costs just over $200, planning only a month in advance.
But there are more things to consider than just time and money. In regards to the environment, a recent UC-Berkeley, all-encompassing study that even considered the impact of planting grass on the side of the road, suggests that trains are the most green. This is true most of the time, depending on how many people are being transported. During peak bus hours and low train hours, the bus is the champion. At least there are fewer layovers and almost no privacy concerns.
“Guilty until proven innocent,” a phrase being tossed around recently, captures exactly the essence of the TSA’s philosophy. The reason behind its creation is to ensure the safety of all the passengers, but the extent of security checks are starting to get on our nerves. They seem to do a good job at capturing nut-jobs like U.S. Army Veteran Kevin Brown, who had pipe-bomb materials, but most of the time they just cause pure annoyance.
I wouldn’t want a TSA agent touching my junk for Uncle Sam.