1) THE SECURITY TAX
Statistics guru Nate Silver has an intriguing view of the cost of airline security that goes beyond the groping vs. naked pictures debate of the last week. He calls it the hidden tax on travelers, and hits home with this part:
Other passengers may substitute car travel for air travel. But this too has its consequences, since car travel is much more dangerous than air travel over all. According to the Cornell study, roughly 130 inconvenienced travelers died every three months as a result of additional traffic fatalities brought on by substituting ground transit for air transit. That’s the equivalent of four fully-loaded Boeing 737s crashing each year.
The Transportation Security Administration yesterday published a list of myths and facts surrounding the new security procedures at airport, noting that four out of five people polled think it makes flying safer.
But Silver says the high-profile screenings actually diminish confidence in air travel, because it conveys that it’s dangerous to begin with. “Many travelers, however, might read between the lines in the following way: the T.S.A. is making us go through all this rigmarole because otherwise air travel would be very, very dangerous; terrorists might be hiding explosives in their underpants!” he says.
Henry Pietrzek of Oakport Township flew last week and after going through the pat-down procedure says he’ll never fly again. “I’m not trying to be a wuss about this, but damn it, I should have more rights as a citizen of this country,” he said.
Tom Keane of the Boston Globe wrote about his experience today:
The agent firmly ran his hands over my entire body, head to toe, front and back. He rubbed his hands over my buttocks and in between. He put his hands in my pants and ran them all around my waist. From behind, he ran his hands along my legs, all the way up my thigh as high as he could go and onto my genitals.
These stories are spawning a new debate. If this isn’t an unreasonable search, what exactly is?
Has anyone taken Amtrak lately?
2) OUR FURNACES, OURSELVES
Minnesota, you are one with your furnaces and I believe this to be a uniquely Minnesota thing. My colleague, Kate Smith, who actually hails from Wisconsin, I believe (face it: same thing) even named her furnace. She writes today’s commentary.
The Smokeless — it’s quite a name, isn’t it? — was installed to burn coal in 1925, when the bungalow was built. It was converted to natural gas, of course, but its bones are 85 years old. You could tell, too. They don’t make cast iron like that any more. And there are aspects of the Smokeless that do remind me of my grandparents’ era, when the basement was a room made for the huge pieces of industrial-like equipment that made a house work. As the big old gravity octopus is dismantled to make way for a 95 percent energy efficient model, I’ll admit I’m wistful.
Natives, does this ring true? Are you and your furnace bonded? If not your furnace, what other home appliance has made its way to your heart?
3) THE END OF TARGET THE DOG
We awake every morning to a seemingly endless stream of tragic news about the death of people, so why is it one about a dog stands out from them? Probably because Target was a war hero, and Target’s death was a mistake.
4) FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF “JUST KILL ME NOW”
An Apple Valley couple is conducting an online poll to decide whether the woman should have an abortion. “I didn’t think it would go anywhere,” Alisha Arnold told the Pioneer Press. The reaction to the couple appears to have people on both sides of the abortion debate on the same side.
But while the couple insists it’s a legit quandry, some evidence shows it’s not.
5) FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF “THAT’S MORE LIKE IT”
An injured swan mattered enough to people in White Bear Lake that they dropped what they were doing to save it.
The use of body scanners and physical pat-downs has spawned a controversy over security at U.S. airports. Do heightened security measures affect your willingness to fly?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: President George W. Bush recently disclosed in his new book that he stands by his decision to authorize a form of torture called waterboarding. Midmorning presents three different views of the policy and the politics of torture
Second hour: Thomas Kennedy, author of “In the Company of Angels.”
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Retiring WCCO TV reporter and news anchor Don Shelby.
Here’s my favorite memory Shelby moment:
More Shelby: Al Franken roasts Shelby.
Second hour: TBA
Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The physics of music, the science of sound, and the safety of airport scanners.
Second hour: A look at the X-Box Kinect, and how it tracks your moves. Could this sort of motion sensing technology revolutionize desktop computing too?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – More consumers are buying store brands as they try to stretch their money. And Target is one of the retailers most aggressively –and successfully– pushing its own brands. Store brands now account for about 22 percent of our grocery purchases, up from about 20 percent three years ago. Store brands are winning over consumers on price and quality. Consumer Reports says that in many instances store brands are at least as good as national brands but can save consumers about 30 percent on their grocery bills. Martin Moylan will have the story.
(TSA sign from Oleg Volk)