I really feel this image applies to today's update. Really.
There's something inherently frightening in the concept of boarding a gigantic metal tube full of luggage and peanuts which rolls down a really long driveway until there's no more driveway left, at which point the metal tube (somehow) flies up into the air like a cigarette casually tossed from the mouth of a clown teeming with venereal diseases. The trepidation accompanying air travel lies in the fact that nobody, I repeat NOBODY, knows exactly how planes are able to fly. Think about it; planes are huge metal objects, just like cars, water towers, and Robocop. When's the last time you've seen either of those defy all laws of physics, lift off the ground, and then announce they'll be stuck in a holding pattern over the Atlanta airport for six hours? Without the help of a friendly tornado, I mean. And don't try to claim Robocop flew in "Robocop 3" because that movie never existed and nobody can convince me otherwise.
Mankind's fear of flight compounds itself when the spooky, menacing threat of terrorist activity is thrown into the mix. Did you know that, at any time and at any place, there's a 95% chance somebody will say something about terrorists? It's true! Do you really feel safe boarding a plane with those kind of odds? Simply switch on the television to any channel and one of the many helpful, friendly white people behind news desks will inform you exactly how scary terrorists are for the current day. I heard a rumor that a single channel, one probably only available in Atlantis through DirectTV, features programming which somehow fails to invoke limitless fear of the marauding terrorist menace. On the flip side, all they show is "Boat Trip" featuring Cuba Gooding Jr., so I guess it's a tradeoff. And speaking of Cuba Gooding Jr., every time I hear his name I instinctively assume he's an A-list celebrity, but then I think about all the movies he's starred in, and I second guess myself. He's one of those guys you think has appeared in decent, respectable films simply due to the fact that you can recall his name, but nobody can name a single legitamite movie he's starred in. Why the hell does my brain bother latching on to this guy's name, but refuses to store any of my family members' birthdays?
Anyway, despite our glorious US Government's eternal obsession with safety and the limitless consumer confidence that can only be achieved by throwing crates of British tea from the side of a boat, it seems the airline travel industry is just as unsafe and unprotected as ever. Surprise!
CNN probe finds weak link in air security - Nearly four years after 9/11, Americans flying on passenger planes remain vulnerable to another terrorist attack in the air because of lax screening of the millions of tons of cargo loaded into the belly of aircraft, a three-month CNN investigation shows. While screening of passengers and their luggage has been shored up dramatically since hijackers commandeered four planes and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field, little has changed regarding the security of cargo, according to an FAA inspector and the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
I think this guy is one of those "performance artists" who nobody likes.
Outrageous! This is unbelievable! How can an entire industry, with the hefty backing of the entire US Government, somehow fail to improve in either security or reliability? After all, this is the same government responsible for winning that pesky "war on drugs," in addition to the "war on crime" and the "war on war" and the "war on the war on war." How could they not succeed with the following airtight, foolproof "improvements" to our travel experience?
CAREFUL SCREENING OF ALL EVIL SHOES AT THE AIRLINE GATE - This was my favorite anti-terrorist policy the airports implemented, mostly because I can't remember the last time somebody successfully committed an act of terrorism with a shoe. Oh wait, maybe that's because it never happened. Regardless, the government knows that something MIGHT be able to happen and it MIGHT involve shoes, so they instructed all the overweight minorities manning the screening booths to demand all passengers remove their shoes before passing through the Gauntlet of Bomb Screening Machines and the fan-favorite Large Machine Which Doesn't Really Do Anything Except Give You Cancer. Let's all be sure to thank that unkempt boob known as "The Shoe Bomber" for making this all possible, despite the fact he was too outrageously incompetent to both sit AND successfully light the fuse on his Nikes.
The implementation of this procedure not only cuts down on deadly terrorist attack shoes by 100%, but additionally proved the US Government possesses absolutely no tolerance for any types of suspicious footwear. It also reassured a suspicious, wary public who feared boarding and having to sit next to Kuribu's Shoe during a long, trans-Atlantic flight. America was a country founded on the red blooded, patriotic idea of manually jumping over piranha plants without the use of cheap, foreign footwear! And don't even get me started on that goddamn Tanuki suit. That thing was worthless.
I will stop all the airport crimes using my HUGE DAMN HAND!
HIRING ONLY PEOPLE WHO OPENLY LOATHE YOUR VERY EXISTENCE - I don't think I've ever encountered a single airline employee working for the government who didn't outwardly despise me and everybody else attempting to fly on an airplane despite the government's insistence that, really, we shouldn't even bother. Not only does the government continually insist on hiring folks who would enjoy traveling through time to repeatedly rape your parents in the eye socket with an ice pick, but our elected leaders apparently believe the best people to help us in an airport are individuals who couldn't properly offer elementary instructions explaining how to chew food. Maybe there's a government document somewhere proving that the best employees are the ones who hate their job, who hate the people they're serving, don't know anything about anything, and communicate to each other with rapid arm movements and excited simulated train whistle noises.
DELAYING EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE - Want to check your bags in? Well sorry, you're going to have to haul them over here to this magical cave opening and sit around with them while some dopey clod holding a wooden stick shuffles through all your personal belongings and asks you to shovel a handful of your traveler's shampoo into one of your bodily orifices to prove it's not secretly plastic explosives. Do you want to get to your flight gate? Oh, well better arrive at the airport six days early, because we have to pat you down and send you through eight different machines which make sure your dick isn't an anti-aircraft missile. If you blackmailed a friend into dropping you off at the airport, please remember that no vehicles can start, stop, or even pass by the entrance of an airport anymore! No, that would be far too convenient - FOR THE TERRORISTS! Instead, the driver must travel at a steady 60 miles an hour and shove you out of the passenger-side door roughly nine miles away from the actual airport terminal. You know, for safety's sake.
COMPLETELY "RANDOM" BODY SEARCHING - In an attempt to not be sued by irate minorities who are flagged as terrorists for the silly, meaningless excuse that nearly all airline terrorists have shared their race and religion, the government has created some kind of obscenely random screening procedure. Their powerful computer mainframes spend hours every day calculating highly random numbers such as "43" and "102," and the passenger who corresponds to that unlucky number is asked to move aside while pudgy, irritable employees pat them down and ask them to remove suspicious items such as buttons and hair follicles. Nothing reeks of inescapable safety quite like touching the nipples of absolutely random 12-year old traveling to Disneyworld with her parents!
My 82-year old grandmother, a short wrinkly Italian Catholic woman who lives in Florida, apparently represents some grave threat to national security, as she's flagged for interrogation every time she flies. Now don't try to convince me the random-number machines are simply choosing random numbers, because my grandmother spends approximately 27 hours a day playing Bingo, and her luck is so bad that I don't think any of her numbers have ever been called in the history of Earth. Obviously the government has been acting on some white-hot tip proclaiming a major airliner will be brought down by a senior citizen with diabetes and a hearing aid the size of my fist. As the dynamite in her purse explodes, showering the airplane's cockpit with deadly flaming pages of unfinished crossword puzzle, she will proclaim her victory by asking the person sitting beside her, for the 120th consecutive time, what gender my dogs are.
"Let's take get a mic check here in your crotch. No, sorry, we need more volume out of your vagina ma'am."
Somehow all these brilliant ideas managed to fail, and CNN's high tech "probe" revealed we're absolutely no safer than we were on 9/11, the day Christopher Reeves flew the Hindenburg into the Statue of Liberty.
On most of the flights that the FAA inspector observes, almost none of the cargo is inspected. "In respect to cargo, we're probably as vulnerable or more vulnerable," said the inspector, who insisted on not being identified for fear of employer retaliation. "Cargo still has a lot of loopholes where something could get on an airplane."
Apparently our government believes packing a bomb into a large, empty suitcase is a lot more difficult than somehow hiding it under your clothing and walking around with it activated for more than two hours while a constant stream of men with guns and high tech electronics scan your every move. It's unbelievable to think a terrorist would place a bomb in their bags! I mean, that's where their clothing goes!
And for three straight days, outside Chicago's busy O'Hare International Airport, at the U.S. Postal Service Chicago International/Military Service Center, CNN found gates unlocked and wide open, and open containers left at the side of the road. CNN correspondent Drew Griffin was able to walk right up to the containers with a camera rolling. No one stopped him to ask what he was doing.
This paragraph actually makes a lot of sense. Think about it: the entire objective and goal of every anti-American terrorist organization is to disrupt the lives and communication flow of every citizen in the entire United States of America. The USPS does a much better and more effective job of this than any terrorist organization could ever dream. I wouldn't be surprised if the Al Queda was funneling money into the postal service, perhaps by lobbying for more of those stupid "Ronald Reagan posing in front of American flag" stamps.
So after millions and millions of dollars, our airlines are less safe than ever. According to this CNN probe, evil people could blow up pretty much any airplane they want whenever they want, just as long as their nefarious plans don't involve deadly footwear. What can the US Government, a beacon of efficiency and intelligence, do to prevent 9/11 2: The Reckoning? Here are a few foolproof tips I thought of today while Googling "foolproof tips":
THREE EASY WAYS TO MAKE AIRLINE TRAVEL 100% SAFE
This guy must be pretty suspicious if he's been screened at a paint store.
1. REQUIRE ALL FLIGHTS TO HAVE A LAYOVER IN ATLANTA - As is, 90% of all flights throughout the world stop in Atlanta in some point in their grand journey. Rumor has it Charles Lindberg's plane was forced down over Atlanta during his trip from New York to Paris, as this single town has the ability to warp both space and time to the point where going anywhere at all invariably requires passing through this sin-cursed city. The prospect of a terrorist's bomb not exploding during their flight, thereby dooming them to visiting Atlanta, will undoubtedly deter even the most grizzled anti-American zealots. The Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is conclusive proof there is a god, and He universally hates us. Take that, organized religion!
2. INCREASE THE GATE-SHIFTING EFFECT - The existing setup in nearly all major airports ensures nobody can, at any time, reliably know what gate they're supposed to be sprinting towards. Will your plane take off at E-43, which is six miles west, or will it leave from N-462, located somewhere on the outskirts of Iceland? Nobody, not even seasoned airline attendants, can tell you for sure. What we need to do is take this concept one step further and spend millions, perhaps billions of dollars boosting the gate-shifting technology which keeps all travelers on their collective toes. After all, terrorists can't blow up planes they have no chance of boarding, can they? In the future, I envision a beautiful paradise populated by countless empty planes flying to and from Atlanta all day. Maybe we can outlaw the pilots from wearing shoes.
3. CONTINUE TO HORRENDOUSLY OVERBOOK FLIGHTS - According to George "George W. Bush" W. Bush, all terrorists hate and want to destroy us because of their unbridled jealousy. They simply envy our freedom, wealth, and ability to buy virtually any variation of "Calvin peeing on something" sticker you could dream up in glorious America. I think the current overbooking procedure all airlines engage in could uniquely benefit our fight against the terrorist menace. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "overbooking" describes airlines intentionally selling more tickets than actual plane seats, thereby ensuring the flight will be full and won't have any wasted space which might be used by some person who doesn't want to sit next to a sweaty, 540-pound heaving behemoth devising "Magic: the Gathering" strategies for six straight hours. To find out more information about this wonderful and awesome tactic, feel free to do a websearch for "fucking over paying customers."
Anyway, overbooking can definitely be used to stop terrorists. Since the bad guys' sole motivation is jealousy and greed, they will undoubtedly be the first to volunteer up their seats when the overworked lady behind the ticket counter announces they need half the population of New Jersey to give up their seats and take a later flight in exchange for vouchers and a free omelet breakfast at Denny's. Soon the potential terrorist will be escorted to another gate, probably in another dimension, where they will have to wait 12 hours for their next flight. When that plane starts boarding and somebody else announces it too is overbooked, the terrorist will once again leap forward to give up his seat and pull in another $400 travel voucher while delaying his flight for another day. 58 years later, the airport janitorial staff will sweep up the remains of the terrorist's skeletal carcass and burn their wheelbarrow full of travel vouchers.
While it saddens me we're not safe and can be blown up at any given time, I can't really say it truly surprises me. This is the federal government here, an organization not exactly known for its organization. If the cure to terrorism was based in taxing us or making something illegal, yeah, I'd have no doubt that we'd be free of it. But we're dealing with a complex problem here, one that requires people to not leave open gaping security holes and basically act like irresponsible jackasses. And that, my friends, is what our government is famous for.
Scourgelord Vilius Mandragore gave a speech from our shattered capital on Friday and we are here to fact check his claims about his million year empire.
In our new cat society, things have really gone from bad to purrse.
Reason 9: Ongoing mechanical issues with the internal Superman 64 fog machine.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.