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I’m not so sure I want to visit China

May 29th, 2013 Comments off

The very first thing I read today is a post on reddit about how disgusting the Chinese are, particularly with their manners. Apparently, they don’t queue, but jostle around until they get what they want. It’s common to just shit and piss in the street and are obnoxiously loud 24/7. I’m not so sure I really want that cultural experience.

Categories: Travel Tags: ,

Travel across the Roman empire

May 19th, 2012 Comments off

Ever wondered how long it actually took to travel throughout the Roman Empire? Now you find out via a new system called ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World that can track, in real time, how long your journey would take.

Built by historian and classicist Walter Scheidel and Stanford Libraries’ digital humanities specialist Elijah Meeks, with the assistance of geographer and Web developer Karl Grossner and GIS analyst Noemi Alvarez, the interactive online atlas is based on a host of data. This includes historical tide information and weather; size, grade, and surface of roads; main cities and ports; land, sea, and river routes; vehicle speed (including ships, ox carts, horse, and walking); and the cost of transport.

The time period the system centers on is about 200 CE, when Roman power was at its highest and the empire’s extent was greatest. The atlas is built from 751 sites, most of which are cities and towns, and covers about four million square miles. Two hundred sixty-eight of the sites are ports. The road network mapped on ORBIS includes 52,587 miles of road, including desert tracks and 17,567 miles of rivers and canals.

Give it a try. It’s quite informative.

Categories: Interesting Things, Travel Tags: ,

Southwest Pilot Rant

June 23rd, 2011 Comments off

While this guy has the right to spew forth whatever homophobic and misogynistic crap he wants, he put a lot of people in danger. He was jamming up transmissions for everyone else.

Categories: Travel Tags: ,

Why the TSA won’t improve its image anytime soon

April 27th, 2011 1 comment

This is the full text of my article from The Daily Censored. Feel free to check out all the other stories at The Daily Censored as well.

The DHS, TSA, and CBP want to improve its tarnished image. After the criticism that has befallen the TSA since last fall when they mass-introduced full body scanners, it’s no surprise that they are now universally hated. The problem, however, is that the TSA can never improve their image as long as they continue to introduce draconian security measures followed by even more extreme responses when people object to being treated as manhandled cattle.

Last week, just after the DHS announced their desire to be more liked and understood, the world became privy to a video of a 6-year old girl enduring the TSA’s enhanced pat down. The enhanced pat down is very similar to sexual assault. This little girl broke down in tears once it was all over. How can the TSA even begin to justify this as something normal?

Men and women have complained numerous times that they feel sexually assaulted by the TSA procedures. The have expressed concerns that it is a form of retaliation from the TSA when they choose to opt out of the full body scanners.

The enhanced pat down consists of what you would expect of a pat down, but it goes much further. The TSA agent will feel inside your pants, down your underwear, squeeze your breasts, touch and move your testicles and feel around your labia. Women have also reported that TSA agents have even felt inside their vagina during and enhanced pat down.

There are also accounts of people reporting that TSA agents rarely change their gloves, leading to major health concerns. When passengers do request TSA officers to change their gloves, they are subjected to increased harassment from the officers. It should be obvious that, if a TSA officer comes in contact with a passenger that has an STD, it could easily be passed on to the next passenger if proper health and safety measures aren’t followed.

Congress is now beginning to call for investigations into the TSA’s methods. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, said that he is mortified that his grandchildren might have to undergo an enhanced pat down. He is now pushing for legislation to change how the TSA operates.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday he would be ticked off if one of his grandchildren got the kind of pat-down search a 6-year-old girl was subjected to earlier this month at an airport security checkpoint in New Orleans.

“I have nine grandchildren and I wouldn’t want my granddaughter treated like that,” LaHood said

Mr. LaHood might also remember that the TSA vowed in 2006 to never have pat downs for children. Since the TSA is run on policies and not laws or regulations, it’s free to change them whenever they wish, no matter how illogical and ill conceived they are.

When the TSA tells passengers that the full body scanners are safe, yet airline crews do not need to use them and reports state that the radiation levels are higher than reported, it is difficult to believe the TSA. Everything they do is security theater. It is frustrating and unnecessary. The full body scanners would not have prevented any threats. They also don’t appear capable of stopping weapons from passing beyond the security checkpoints.

If the TSA is sincere about improving their image, they need to immediately begin rolling back some of their more draconian practices. A first step would be to no longer treat passengers like criminals, particularly when they are vocal about TSA policies. Just because a person exercises their right to say they disagree with the policies, doesn’t mean they should be singled out for extra security measures or be considered terrorists. They also need to stop sexually assaulting passengers during enhanced pat downs and discontinue harassment of passengers who decide to opt out of the full body scanners.

We already have reinforced cockpit doors and the pilots are armed. We know that passengers will fight back. There is no need for the enhanced pat downs and full body scanners other than to provide a visual appearance of security theater. The TSA and DHS need to stop giving their standard answer of “we followed procedure and everything is fine,” when it clearly isn’t. They need to admit their mistakes, roll back many of the changes introduced in the past few years, and put real reform into place.

The TSA needs to admit that they don’t need to keep the skies safe from kleenex smugglers and should look closer at the suspected criminals and child pornographers within their midsts.

These few steps would go a long way in redeeming a modicum of respect back to the TSA. Until we return to sensible screening measures, don’t expect people to stop calling attention to the abuses of the TSA and be prepared for even fewer passengers than before.

In the mean time, take action to let the TSA know why you won’t fly and why you will continue to fight for your 4th amendment rights. Write to Rep. Jon Mica and let him know that you agree the TSA should be abolished. Send letters to your representatives in Washington informing them that they need to take action as well or you won’t be voting for them in the next election.

Pompeii, Life and Death in a Roman Town

December 18th, 2010 Comments off

Pompeii, Life and Death in a Roman Town is a great documentary about how rich and poor live in and around Pompeii. The focus is on the cellar that was found in Oplontis, a town between Pompeii and Herculaneum. There were several artifacts found with those in the cellar and we can get a glimpse into what the people thought were valuable enough to take with them as they fled from the erupting Vesuvius.

When Cambridge Professor Mary Beard went into the sewers, I was fascinated. It’s absolutely amazing that, because Herculaneum was covered in volcanic ash, its sewers were covered and the feces was still there. Archaeologists recovered 70 garbage bags full of shit that helps them know what the people ate.

I also learned, which I didn’t know before, that on one of the frescoes from a bar, one patron called the other a cocksucker. It’s amusing to know that cocksucker was used nearly 2000 years ago. Another says that, “Apolonaris had a good shit here.” I’m glad he did.

It is impossible to imagine what fear, terror, and feelings of helplessness these people must have went through on that fateful day. These people, however, have left behind rich archaeological evidence that we can learn from and realize that they weren’t so different from ourselves.

Revisiting Pompeii makes me want to return. I think Pompeii needs more than a one day trip there. Sure, Paul and I spent the entire day there, but we still want to go back because there is still so much to see and learn. I guess the archaeologist in me never got enough of it when we were there.

Yeah, I pirated it. Get over it. There’s no way of knowing if the show will ever make it to the USA and the BBC still has some great shows we never get to see.