Sunday, June 19, 2005

White Sands

Apologies for not posting much lately, but I've been busy as one of the coordinators of the REU summer student program here at NRAO/Socorro. That responsibility includes going along on some of the trips. As part of a larger trip, we recently went to New Mexico's beach, White Sands National Monument. It's so cool! There are huge dunes, and it looks like a beach or a desert, but it's so white that it also kind of looks like snow. See for yourself: 1 2 3.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Enough already

The US is too damn paranoid with air security. Yes, something had to be done after 9/11. Getting ones knickers in a knot about nail clippers was not that something. Some idiot tries to light his shoe on fire, and now I have to take off my shoes every time I pass through security. Testers of the screening system routinely sneak weapons through, but at least we forced a flight with Cat Stevens on it to turn around. Huh?

The latest idiocy coming from Washington concerns our neighbours Canada and Mexico. Currently, any flight landing scheduled to land in the US must have its passenger manifest approved by the US government. Washington wants to extend that restriction to any flight passing over US airspace. Thanks to geography, this affects the vast majority of intra-Canadian flights. If one of the passengers is on the USA's capricious and semi-arbitrary no-fly list, the plane will be refused entry into US airspace. There are serious issues here regarding privacy and sovereignty, and any such demand from the US will be an unreasonable burden on its neighbours.

The US has the right to demand this information if it wants. But all it will do is piss off a few more of our ever-decreasing list of allies for a false sense of increased security. Look, al Qaeda is not going to waste operatives to take a 747 down in some North Dakota cornfield. We've got to stop pissing our pants over every boogeyman we think we see and start identifying and responding to the real threats out there. This is no way for a country that tries to project strength internationally to act.