40 years of faulty wiring

Airport Security and Abuse – It’s Time to Fight Back

Outrageous, isn’t it?  What is going on with airport security?  Yes 9-1-1 is a violent, frightening reminder that airport security needs to be extremely careful with who it admits onto airline flights.  Most security (so far as I know) do a sensible, decent job.  They aren’t out to harm people. They simply want to do their job and prevent tragedy from slipping by them and into the country.  At the same time airport security has to field anger and suspicion from the public for doing their job.  Not an easy position to be placed in, I’ll agree to that.  Watch this video where airport security scan a 9-year-old boy in a dignified manner and playfully tease a younger child by assuring him a scanner doesn’t hurt. This is a dignified airport search. It isn’t odd that the guard is searching children; there are weird people (yes, they live among ug) who hide drugs and weapons on their children to get the stash over the border. Airport security is right to search children in a non-invasive, reassuring manner.

However, airport security around thdisappearing-womane world is earning a bad reputation in a number of occasions.  The video above is outrageous.  I’m no fan of Dr Phil but (oh no, not the word but!) this video is worthwhile and so is the woman’s testimony.There is another equally disturbing video that has gone viral. A woman became emotional after a female security guard “inspected” her by feeling her breasts.  The woman declared this was illegal and asked for airport police to assist her.  No one called them and she became hysterical, weeping and yelling for help.  Her husband and son were nearby, but (!) they seemed helpless and didn’t intervene.  The son, however, had enough sense to film the entire incident.  Airport security reacted by insisting the man stop filming the incident and leave the area.  A police officer approached him and made no action against him.  It turns out information came forward that revealed the woman had been violently raped years earlier by 5 men and the assault brought back emotional trauma.  Whether or not the woman had a traumatic past in terms of sexual assault, what the airport security did was entirely unreasonable.  Who hides a lethal weapon between her breasts or in her bra? This isn’t a James Bond movie.

On the security’s side, (I’m NOT defending either of the aforementioned situations), stats from somewhere or other revealed that 90% of people who carried a gun on their person were not searched by airport security and were permitted to attend their flights.  I don’t know which airport this was or how many people were involved but egads, that is a scary fact.  Hence the reason why airport security is probably trained on an ongoing basis to be ever vigilant about people entering airplanes.  And the manner in which criminals smuggle weapons and drugs over the border is nothing less than amazing.  Weaving cocaine into wigs and swallowing small parcels of cocaine is not uncommon. It is airport security’s job to prevent these oddities from succeeding.

I am in agreement with careful screening.  I want to know the airplane I am on is safe.  I want to know the passenger beside me won’t pull out a gun and blow my head off because she doesn’t like my hairdo.  I want to know that none of the passengers can hijack the plane at gunpoint and send us into another 9-1-1.  These are important responsibilities of airport security and airports.  They have to ensure my safety (and yours) whenever 375273-airport-securityI take to flying with friendly spies….oops….I mean skies. However I also want to know that airport security won’t molest my breasts or private or rectal area in case I am carrying more than 3 ounces of a liquid (shampoo, you know, is extremely volatile at high altitudes…as an aside, 3 ounces of a liquid is acceptable, but 4 ounces ….we’re all doomed.  Who thinks up this stuff?) I also believe that many people are being unfairly accosted, assaulted, and treated just plain rudely.

Recently my brother went on a flight to some place or other in the States from Canada.  (Interestingly, he has never been searched or assaulted in any manner by airport security and he travels frequently for his work). An elderly lady in front of him was being spoken to very rudely by a young, male security officer who was asking her routine questions, yet behaving in a hostile manner.  My brother intervened and said politely, “this lady is elderly and unlikely to have a lethal weapon on her person.  Also, could you be more polite in speaking with her? She is being cooperative and hasn’t done anything to deserve this treatment.”  The security guard snapped back at him in some manner, but he did let the woman go through security right afterward.  He even let my brother through. This isn’t to say, however, that the woman being elderly exempts her from security procedures. All we’re asking is for a little more respect.  Check this video.

Recently, airport security accused of insulting and laughing at people’s bodies beneath their clothing as they passed through new scanners that allow security 456230-body-scanner-story-316x237-to see beneath our clothing (collective gasp).  Betcha didn’t know about those scanners, did ya?  (Next time you’re passing through an airport, be sure to wear your kinkiest underwear – and gentleman, consider wearing your wives’ pantyhose….we’ll give them something to laugh about). This information was revealed on a Youtube video that went viral by a person who claims to be a former TSA agent.  The most outrageous reaction however was that of the airport manager who stated quite stupidly, “everyone has the right to their opinion.”  Seriously.  That was his idea of good PR. I’d love for someone to turn the tables and force airport security to walk through the scanners, then get laughed at by the entire airport. Serves them right. Nyah nyah. I had to drop this video into my blog – if all of us went through the scanners the way this woman reporter sits on camera, there wouldn’t be a need for body searches.

Here’s a weird fact about TSA training: there is a list of 70 suspicious behaviours passengers make that indicate potentially high risk situations. Many of the indicators, as characterized in open government reports, are behaviors and appearances that may be indicative of stress, fear or deception. Allegedly none of them refer to or suggest race, religion or ethnicity, but one addresses passengers’ attitudes towards security. It reads: “Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures.” TSA officials said that no single indicator is used to identify travelers as potentially high-risk. Travelers must exhibit several indicators before officers subject them to more thorough screening. On the other side of the fence, Michael German, a former FBI agent who works for the American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “expressing your contempt about airport procedures — that’s a First Amendment-protected right.”

Guarding national security is a fine, difficult line.  I’m glad I don’t have that job.  I also believe the public has to fight back against airport abuse, whether it is you yourself who is being assaulted, or someone else.  Don’t just walk on by when someone is being abused or begging for help.  Stop and call 9-1-1 or find an airport police officer.  They do not work with the airport security company.  The police are real cops – not cop wannabes like security guards (had to get that one in there). Let’s help each other out and force airport security to conduct their job in a manner that is dignified for themselves and the public. We are all in this together.

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February 16, 2013 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Human psychology, Politics, Technology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Determining Gender in a 7-Week Old Fetus is a Sociopolitical Step Backward

The headline in the internet last week that caught my attention was one that declared it is now possible for ultrasound technicians to detect a 7-week-old fetus`s gender, rather than waiting for the old-fashioned 4-month amniocentesis. There was an interesting number of mixed responses by readers, the majority of them focusing on abortion:

  1. One reader commented this leads to an even quicker abortion for families that are happy with the infant`s sex.
    I say what difference does that make since they will likely do the same when the fetus is 4 months old anyway.
  2. Another reader commented this cements foreign cultures`inclination towards sons and rejection of females through speedier, easier abortions.
    I say it`s not only foreign cultures who value boys above girls.  Many North American families feel the same way. Whose to say they don`t abort children based solely on gender

I don`t disagree with the abortion objection:  eliminating human life based on sex is amoral and a waste of a potential human being.

No one made mention of my perspective on the whole gender issue. Rather, my objection speaks to the intersex and transgender person. We ascribe to the binary gender system (male or female) for obvious reasons: we only understand what we only see, and what we believe we comprehend.  Gender however is much more than anatomy.  As a person grows however gender identity can change and our narrow view of gender creates many sociopolitical complications for the transgender person.

A friend of mine had a friend who birthed a beautiful boy. She was disappointed. She wanted a girl. So my friend actually advised her to cross-dress the boy as a girl until he got a little older. This idea baffled me at the time. I felt the boy`s mother should have been grateful that she had a healthy, beautiful child. Dressing the boy as a girl simply confirmed her lack of gratitude.  Now I think a fair compromise might be dressing the child in a gender neutral wardrobe.

Of course what is a gender neutral wardrobe.  Well, probably not one that emphasizes too much pink or blue.  It is unlikely there could be any dresses or skirts in such a wardrobe but since infants are usually dressed in slacks and jumpers, that`s neither here nor there. In fact it`s a rather fashion and gender forward way of thinking.

When I suggested that early ultrasounds negate the experience and the validity of the transgender person one response I received stated:

Then a mother can abort the transgender baby and a baby that is homosexual.

Abort a transexual infant.  How, I asked in reply, is that possible considering there is no possible biological means of knowing if a fetus is transgender. This is as much a psychological condition as it is biological. It is impossible to determine through an ultrasound if an infant is homosexual or not, and who`s to say the appropriate response is to abort it for either of those reasons. Abortion issue aside however the emphasis on fetal gender insists that the binary gender system is the only `normal“ human gender, just as the heterosexual orientation serves as a social “norm“.

As for the intersex person I am unaware if it is possible to determine fetal gender ambiguity via ultrasound. Let`s hope not. I mean, what of it. Eventually the individual normally settles on one gender or the other, and he or she tends to favour a particular sexual orientation. Of course there are also genderqueer people who, regardless of having a determinate gender if they should, prefer not to choose one gender or the other but retain a fluid movement between both, and in some cases, neither.

Personally I believe we should keep the prenatal focus on fetal health. Prenatal surgery is a profound medical breakthrough and offers many children and families a brighter future than would have been possible without the latter. Use the 7-week technology for that. I`ll support that purpose 100%.

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Human Biology, Human psychology, Politics, Technology, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Got Prezi?

PowerPoint is so over. An old school colleague of mine informed me about this completely cool presentation software called Prezi (www.prezi.com ).  It is a little  more complicated to learn initially than PPT, but it’s worth learning. Prezi gives good presentation for a number of reasons:

  1. it’s free!
  2. attractive – there are a variety of colour themes including a colour wizard
  3. visual networks/groupings – you can group different objects into one area using connective icons such as brackets, arrows, or other visuals
  4. practical – can be used during a live presentation or left online as a recording
  5. lots of links can be added …  powerpoints, graphics, photos, movies, music, spreadsheets, word docs, slideshares, youtubes, pdfs, blogs, websites, other prezis, u name it, prezi can link it.
  6. prezi can be linked to virtually any software … your website, your blog, your spreadsheet, etc.
  7. different – than PowerPoint … haven’t we seen enough of those???
  8. portable – you can opt to purchase Prezi software to download your prezi onto…but it isn’t necessary, meaning there are several ways to share a prezi even without use of the internet.

Here is a sample prezi I made…

http://prezi.com/g5vcrcr-wc4h/a-weird-history-of-shoes/

go make some nice prezis…

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Technology | , | 2 Comments

we interrupt this program…

  The website modules can wait on this one.  I’ve blogged about this before but I keep reading more and more news headlines about cyberbullying leading to bullycide and yes, being an educator of course I have a vested interest in this subject matter. But more importantly every incident of cyberbullying and bullying that I hear about, whether or not it ends in tragedy, simply tears a hole in my heart.  Right about now my heart feels like swiss cheese.

You’ve heard about the Phoebe Prince case in South Hadley, Massachusetts by now I assume, (if not check out my blog I didn’t learn all I needed to know in Kindergarten – We didn’t have iPods and Facebook when I was 5), the little girl who emigrated from Ireland to MA where she attended SH High School. From the start of the year, this little girl became the target of severe cyberbullying and bullying, inititated by a female student who formed a posse of her friends to do likewise. After a particularly degrading incident, Phoebe Prince went home from school and hanged herself. All because of a little teenaged fun? Well to listen to teenagers nowadays, that’s their excuse. 

That’s what you do at school!” one teenaged girl protested on a document I recently watched as she giggled at the camera. She was referring to cyberbullying, not to bullycide, because this kid apparently hadn’t made the connection between the two. Her father was in the documentary watching what she had just written on Facebook or some such site. He looked somewhat concerned and somewhat drily amused.

“No I don’t approve of this. I didn’t know this was going on,” he mumbled to the camera, when clearly he wasn’t at all perplexed.

You are familiar with cyberbullying of course. No? Well then my friend, crawl out from beneath that cyber rock and allow me to enlighten you.  Cyber means technology of course, and bullying meaning bullying (what else). Put them together and voila, a nasty, obscure new way of bullying people, under cover of a false identity so the bully can’t be traced very easily (although to quote our ever faithful Shakespeare, “the truth will out“). And the verbal abuse that is aimed at victims in high schools (and some elementary schools) is bad. 

Consider this comment from a legal case in CanLii (Canadian Legal Information Institute) – online law cases regarding everything from human rights at people’s places of work to a high school expulsion case (R.T. v. Durham Catholic District School Board).  The direct quote from the perpetrator, known only as V.K. because she was a minor at the time of the offence, was fired off through her facebook account to another high school student:  YOU BETTER NOT MAKE ME MAD BECAUSE I’LL KILL U IN YOUR SLEEP OR AT SCHOOL ON MONDAY”.  Nice.  Hence the reason they call it cyberbullying. 

VK’s mother had the nerve to appeal the expulsion since she wanted her daughter re-instated into the school  the victim attended.  She proposed ridiculous defences, claiming her daughter used Facebook as a “fantasy” and that she had no intention of harming the little girl in question.  I wonder if the victim enjoyed VK’s fantasy.  She insisted that her daughter didn’t fully comprehend what she was doing because she suffers from CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Difficulty).  There is no connection whatsoever between CAPD and intellect. VK knew exactly what she was doing.

And that’s another scary issue here. When parents of bullies defend their children’s actions and argue strongly that their own kids are the victims, that’s where we discover the true origin of cyber bullying: parents who do not acknowledge their children’s guilt in tormenting other human beings, and who proceed to make their excuses.  Wake up mom and dad.  Yes your kid is a bully. Yours.  The child you have been raising and supposedly teaching right from wrong. 

Is it any wonder the kid ends up with a twisted sense of “fantasy” when mumsy and daddy defend their atrocities? 

Cyber bullying and bullying is horribly traumatic, leading to teen suicides all over the North American contintent (more on that later), yet incredibly, here are the parents of these bullies saying “it’s not fair….my kid didn’t mean it.”  Then your kid shouldn’t be doing it. I have questions for the inept father who muttered he didn’t know his daughter was into cyber bullying.  Why didn’t you know that about your own child?  Don’t you communicate with her anymore?  Don’t you check up on her activities, offline and online?  Yes, that is our job to check up on our kids. Kids are kids, and more importantly as long as our child is under our collective roof that means we are entirely responsible for chaperoning and correcting behaviour. No your daughter and/or son is not going to come to you and tell you that he/she thinks cyberbullying other people is hilarious and is the cool thing to do.  Of course not. Would you approach your boss at work and tell him or her what you really think of them?  Didn’t think so.

I’m not advising parents to snoop. I wouldn’t ever read my daughter’s diary (I believe she has one but I don’t ask her about it…..her own personal thoughts she keeps to herself are her business). But I ask who she is speaking to online. I read her Facebook messages with her beside me – both the ones she is sending and the ones she is receiving. I talk to her. A lot. We communicate about what email and facebook is and isn’t for. We talk about what cyber bullying does to people. She knows never to victimize anyone and likewise to come to me for help straightaway if anyone ever tries to turn the tables on her. 

But she also knows that I am prepared to defend anyone she victimizes (I don’t believe she will, of course, she truly is a great kid), rather than her. Still she knows that if there  are consequences to any inappropriate behaviour on her part, I will support them 100 %.  Even if she is expelled.  Even if her Ontario Student Record has a record of expulsion that will follow her throughout her high school and post secondary years.  Fair is fair.  Do unto others.

No one wants to watch their child fail and suffer.  It hurts terribly and I would imagine that seeming like a traitor in your child’s eyes would leave a hole in your heart that might never heal, but we can’t defend or condone pathological behaviour in our children. That is a greater injustice by far to our kids than confusing them with our motives when they screw up.

  Make no mistake bullying of any sort is pathological. It is sick.  It is also opening the door to far worse crimes in the future. Many bullies eventually acquire criminal records. What begins as teenage bullying can grow into adult “bullying”, which is generally known as criminal, sociopathic behaviour. Abusive husbands, fathers and mothers, drug addicts, pimps, and all manner of criminals were kids once. And they were  teenagers. And they were bullies. They bullied with their words and they bullied with their fists. No one responded to their bullying, or if anyone did it was outside the home. The parents of bullies defended them, or were apathetic to their children’s behaviour and didn’t “want to become involved”. And 5 to 10 years later these bullies became criminals and instead of expulsions on their student records, they were handed criminal records and time in jail or even prison. It’s an inevitable process.

In fact the students who bullied Phoebe Prince to death have been arrested and charged on both juvenile and adult charges for her suicide. I hope those students are found guilty. I hope those students do jail time. I hope that cell door stays closed behind them for a long time.

Not all bullies become “career”criminals (whatever that is) insofar as breaking the law goes.  Sometimes teenage bullies grow up to be adult bullies in more covert ways: they become irrascible bosses, conniving co-workers, gossips, cheating spouses, difficult neighbours, and just overall jerks. They behave in a manner that is just shy of breaking the law, or heck, even breaks the law but not to the extreme lengths previously mentioned so they seldom pay the price for their actions. They stay bullies all their lives because no one taught them any differently and in their perspective, this is normal, acceptable behaviour.

There are other extraordinary consequences that result from bullying. Hershel Walker, a retired NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, claims he developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) as a result of severe bullying during his childhood by classmates. That is a picture of  bullying survivor Hershel on the left. I dare say those childhood bullies would think twice before taking him on again. Whether or not you believe in this particular disorder, there are likely many personality disorders that a victim can develop from bullying.

Do your child a favour. Teach thim or her right from wrong and whatever you do, don’t just talk the talk.  Walk it. Be actively involved in your child’s life, from infancy right up through the teens. Consistently stay alert to your child’s choice of friends, moods, online and offline behaviour, and by all means support your child’s school when unacceptable behaviour is reported.  Don’t get defensive on your child’s (or your own) behalf. Listen to the administrator. Speak to your child. Do your own investigating and know that there is no administrator or teacher on the planet who is out to get your child. Be skeptical when your child tells you (and they will) that your administrator has it all wrong and they are the victim.

Don’t tell yourself that once your child is 15 or 16, he or she is now an adult and can be trusted to make their own sensible decisions. That is patently ridiculous. Your child is an adult when s/he leaves your home for post secondary school, or for work, and is paying their own bills and living a life apart from you. Only then is your child’s behaviour out of your hands and no longer your responsibility. Hopefully you will have taught your children well and the future remains promisingly bright.

And if not, well, you were forewarned. So was your child. Not just through blogs, and articles, and headlines, but by your child’s school, community, the police, neighbours and anyone else who has been knocking on your door with legitimate concerns and complaints for 16 years.

  Oh, and you’ve also been forewarned and informed by your child’s many victims over the years.  Let’s not forget about them. Or Phoebe Prince.

Phoebe, we miss you.

Watch Saddest Thing: 15-year-old Girl Committed Suicide Because of Getting Bullied

March 26, 2011 Posted by | Crime and Punishment, Education, Relationships, Technology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment