December 1, 2006

Well, is this NSFW?

It's Susan Hallowell, the director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory, as X-rayed by the "backscatter" machine. She's willing to appear in this form, so why not you? What's worse, that or a pat-down search? Take your pick.

This reminds me of the discussion of X-Ray glasses in Bill Bryson's new memoir of his boyhood. Wouldn't people look creepy, seen naked under their clothes? They wouldn't look like a naked person, because the clothes would be smooshing various parts of their body in strange ways. (And speaking of creepy: "Do I Creep You Out?" (via Drawn!).)

Then there's this book, "Seeing Through Clothes," that contends that paintings of nudes tend to do just that, depict the bodies pushed into a form that could only be achieved with a corset or some such device.

Nude people. You don't really want to see them. Believe me.

AND: I'm still going to watch "Positively Naked" on Cinemax tonight:
On an early morning in March 2004 some 85 adults gathered at a restaurant in Manhattan's meatpacking district, removed their clothes and posed for Mr. Tunick's camera. Arlene Donnelly Nelson and David Nelson's moving 38-minute documentary, to be shown tonight on Cinemax to commemorate World AIDS Day, captures the moment gracefully.

Like a lot of their fellow human beings, some of these men and women are a little apprehensive about revealing their naked bodies to total strangers, not to mention the world. One man says he is much more nervous about showing his distended abdomen (a side effect of medical treatment) than his penis. Many seem nervous at first but soon relax into the equality that nakedness creates. Not surprisingly, one man reports "a sense of camaraderie" in the experience.

At first the sight of scores of naked adults milling about and looking confused about what is expected of them bears an unsettling resemblance to a scene from a Holocaust film. But as the photo session proceeds, an energizing dignity takes hold. Neither the documentary nor the magazine cover photograph focuses on genitalia. The scene really does convey, as publicity materials suggest, the spirit within the flesh.
We'll see if it's quite as spiritual as all that. I tend to doubt it. I hate the idea that it's supposed to be profound because we're told it's about AIDS, as was done so often years ago.

ADDED: "The equality that nakedness creates"??

UPDATE: I've now watched the documentary "Positively Naked," and, despite all the talk about an art "installation," it was very much a documentary about people living with HIV/AIDS. An art-focused documentary would have been entirely different. I'm not knocking it for using AIDS to add weight to art, because it wasn't enough about art. It was about AIDs, and the feelings of the people who got naked and photographed were the subject of the documentary. Yes, photography on this level is art, but there was no pomposity about this art, and Tunick was an appealing and reasonably modest character. He wasn't at all like the stereotypical "installation" artist. As far as the nudity, it was really the standard nudist material. Getting nude in a group has some meaning. It's not art. It's a psychological phenomenon that isn't edgy or new in any way. So basically, this was a conventional documentary about struggling individuals. They also got nude and posed for a big photograph. But there was no pretension about the quality of the photography as art. The emphasis was entirely on the camaraderie. Nice. I wouldn't have watched it if I'd known what this was going to be, but it's perfectly fine for what it set out to do. Really, I would have preferred a full-of-himself artist revealing a lack of sensitivity toward the subject, but that's speaking only of the documentary I'd like to watch. Tunick seems like a decent guy, and that's a good enough thing in itself.

47 comments:

stephenb said...

The equality that nakedness creates??

As if to say that we are all equal under our clothes??? Ever been to the gym? If there's anything that nakedness creates it isn't equality.

The Drill SGT said...

I don't see a problem with the xray. as noted in the article, nobody you actually are in contact with will see the image. Just some person 1,000 miles away.

Some say the high-resolution images - which clearly depict the outline of the passenger's body, plus anything attached to it, such as jewelry - are too invasive.

But the TSA said the X-rays will be set up so that the image can be viewed only by a security officer in a remote location. Other passengers, and even the agent at the checkpoint, will not have access to the picture.

In addition, the system will be configured so that the X-ray will be deleted as soon as the individual steps away from the machine. It will not be stored or available for printing or transmitting, agency spokesman Nico Melendez said.

Bissage said...

I once knew a guy who said every time he looks at a woman he imagines what she looks like naked. I was dumbfounded. The thought had never occurred to me.

I haven’t talked to him in twenty years. Maybe he works at the Transportation Security Administration.

Regarding the photo, I think it’s been retouched. What are those curved lines under the breasts? What happened to the nipples?

If it were me in the photo, I'd have them retouch my dingus to make it smaller. No need to boast.

reader_iam said...

To hell with rationality: I'll take the pat-down.

Or an alternate form of transportation.

reader_iam said...

If there's anything that nakedness creates it isn't equality.

That may be the most profound comment I've read anywhere.

David said...

False modesty versus smuggled weapons/explosives?

Scan away!

I'd rather be scanned than take any chances on being blown up or hijacked.

AllenS said...

WooHoo! Look at the dingus on that one!

JohnF said...

Didn't this system work pretty well in "Total Recall"?

Of course, there was no anonymity there.

And how is this supposed to work from 1000 miles away? "OK buddy, she's got something on her hip... No, not there, a little lower... No, more in the front... There! You got it!"

reader_iam said...

I'd rather be scanned than take any chances on being blown up or hijacked.

Of course, that's the ***rational*** stance to take.

Jeff said...

How does computer-generated nudity reveal whether a passenger is Muslim?

Joe Baby said...

Anyone using equality and nakedness in the same sentence should be ushered to the nearest screening of "Borat."

Cedarford said...

Anything to keep us all perfectly safe! Anything!'

The fact I now know Susan could lose a few pounds doesn't shave her pubes now is besides the point. Also the fact that several ounces of liquid explosive could be taped underneath Susan's large breasts (and perhaps the crease between her butt cheeks and back of thighs if she is "middle-aged droopy) and...to be perfectly safe...those breasts and other parts not adequately scanned still need to be groped by a trained professional dedicated to keeping America Safe.

And despite assurances, any image can be stored on removable flash memory hooked up to any search scanner currently manufactured - With motive there especially if someone working the "Security Team" on minimum wage could make large, large dinero for "celebrity shots" later on famous,frequent air travelers. How would Tiger Woods or Nancy Pelosi know which screener got and sold a picture in which month at what airport?

Or would the rich and famous using private jets be exempt from the "indignities" lesser Americans would be expected to grin and bear?

Or is there a market for "soft X-ray shots" of the whole East Topeka Jr. HIgh cheerleading squad?

Of course, we face a thinking enemy that regularly works out ways to neutralize several billion dollars of last years "high tech" security aimed at avoiding the "awful" alternative of just profiling and scrutinizing the people that do hijack planes.

Next up, obviously, is the tried and true drug smuggler "sanctuaries" of the stomach, GI tract, and vaginal canals that could have all sorts of terroristic devices stored in them missed by soft X-rays.

What does TSA plan to do about the "menace" of, say, Japanese tourists (especially world champion hot dog eater Kobeyashi) or black grandmothers going to Disney World that theoretically could have 4 lbs of C-4 crammed up their butts or swallowed (18 pounds in Kobeyashi's case)?

Not to mention really fat -and dare I say it?? - suspicious Muslims who were recruited for Jihad based on large, concealable "fat folds" such scanners would miss?

I'm no big fan of enemy rights and the squads of ACLU lawyers falling over themselves to protect the terrorists at Gitmo that likely see the children and wives of ACLU types as some of the infidels most deserving of death. I AM a big fan of the rights of the American public - who should be spared unselective delays, impositions, and indignities on their privacy as much as possible.

I am willing to take risk, now that the cockpit doors are secured and passengers now know that if Muslim terrorists take control of a plane they are dead meat, and have nothing to lose if they try to kill the hijackers and save themselves.
Yes, the Islamics may blow up a plane or two if we have "lax security"...but if this happens - an alternative to 10s of billions of security equipment rendered useless by tactics and hundreds of billions in damage inflicted globally by travel and commerce delays is that the international community could ban muslims from international air travel unless Muslims agree - through all their religious leaders - that blowing up planes or crashing them into buildings is now Haram. Strictly forbidden in Jihad. So too, WMD.

Putting the Muslims on notice that they must force the radicals in their community to accept limitations on warfare or accept consequences makes more sense than our "doing anything to avoid forcing followers of the Religion of Peace to make a stand". The rest of humanity is forced to accept or reject many things - they sign the Geneva Conventions, or they do not. Christian religious leaders accept or reject limits that Western states impose on them. Mormons. Even Islam has frequent historical cases of temporal rulers limiting aspects of religious expression, or issuing orders to military based on pressuring Mullahs in their society what aspects of war are allowed or forbidden.

Before we get into territory of "reasonably unobstrusive vaginal searches and colonoscopies conducted by "trained professionals dedicated to keeping America safe" or "Nancy Pelosi, Revealed!"

Or should Susan shave her thang or not??

Maybe we should get away from the high tech, any cost and imposition level is no object to avoid offending the community the problem comes from....and do what we do in any war. Set as much as we can - limits - on what both sides agree is out of bounds, or face collective consequences. Right now we are attempting to fight with limits on conduct insisted on for only one side.

Until we try forcing limits or forcing the community the terrorists come from into repercussions of collective consequences ----tech fixes like soft X-Rays and legal fixes like teams of ACLU lawers seeking "rights" their clients do not extend us - are stupid stopgap measures.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eli Blake said...

Gosh, and to think that a sex-crazed pervert now won't have to buy pornographic videos anymore, maybe he can just get a job where they will pay him $50,000 a year so he can sit on a stool and masturbate while watching the rest of us.

Wurly said...

From a remote TSA location:

"Look Frank, another one of those iPod vibrators!"

mcg said...

Uh, if someone actually finds those images stimulating, well, I say let 'em have the job. Call it a perk.

But in all seriousness this takes the sparse pleasures of peoplewatchign a nude beach and dampens it down to almost nothing. After all, like a nude beach, the good-looking ones will be scattered sparsely amongst the rest of us. And yet, even when one is encounted, the image will be fuzzy and distorted; and you can't linger on it or circle back for a second look, because the obese grandma behind him/her is late for her flight too!

Anon Y. Mous said...

The Drill SGT: "I don't see a problem with the xray. as noted in the article, nobody you actually are in contact with will see the image. Just some person 1,000 miles away."

I would bet that the TSA's definition of remote equals something much closer to 1000 feet than 1000 miles.

Bissage: "Regarding the photo, I think it’s been retouched. What are those curved lines under the breasts? What happened to the nipples?"

My first thought was that she was wearing something that worked as a partial shield.

tjl said...

"The equality that nakedness creates?"

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society." Oscar Wilde.

knoxgirl said...

Are Muslim women who wear a headscarf/veil etc. out of modesty going to let themselves be scanned? Seems like forcing them to would be as big a PC problem as profiling Muslims, which is what we're trying to avoid in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Jeff said...
"How does computer-generated nudity reveal whether a passenger is Muslim?"

Hmmmm, how about by revealing the explosive material/device they're carrying?

Revenant said...

What's worse, that or a pat-down search? Take your pick.

Personally I'd much rather be x-rayed than patted down or "wanded". A pat-down violates my personal space and makes me feel like a criminal.

What happened to the nipples?

Since the scan only shows topography, and un-erect nipples under a bra conform to the surface of the breast, they probably don't show up.

Semper ubi sub ubi, as my Pseudo-Latin teacher used to say. :)

mcg said...

The article does state that image processing has been applied to blur sensitive areas while remaining effective for detecting banned items. (Presumably the two categories are disjoint.)

andthenblammo! said...

Bissage: "Regarding the photo, I think it’s been retouched. What are those curved lines under the breasts?"

I'm guessing the curved lines are the underwires in the esteemed Ms. Hallowell's bra.

Abraham said...

What are those curved lines under the breasts?

I'm just a shlub guy, but even I've heard of underwire bras, which as I recall are often metal and will stand out on xrays.

LoafingOaf said...

My knee-jerk reaction is that I don't like the X-Ray thing. I don't trust that security people at airports are all gonna be professional about it just feels too invasive, and I think it'll make a significant number of people uncomfortable. And for what? We all know now that if someone tries to hijack a plane we're all gonna tackle his ass and rip him apart. If al Qaeda manages to pull off another 9/11, it will probably be where we least expect it, not an exact repeat of 9/11.

As far as Tunick's art, I had about enough of that when he came to Cleveland to photograph something like 3,000 people outside. A local TV newswoman took part and the local station made it a huge, massively promoted part of their ratings sweeps period: Tune in to see anchorwoman Sharon Reed getting nude for art! It was pretty silly and obnoxious.

Yup, that's what the news departments are like here in Cleveland, the poorest major city in America with the worst public school system.

Revenant said...

We all know now that if someone tries to hijack a plane we're all gonna tackle his ass and rip him apart

I doubt it.

The flight 93 folks *knew* they were going to die -- the hijackers reportedly told them, and in any case they knew about the other plane crashes that had already happened. They rebelled, as people who *know* they are going to die often do.

But people who only suspect they are going to die are VERY reluctant to take actions that are likely to kill them. Look at all the millions of Jews who peacefully remained in their death-camp bunkers and walked to the gas chambers without a struggle. Had they all rushed the guards they could have seized their weapons, escaped the camps and possibly even escaped Germany entirely, or at least put up a decent guerilla struggle for a bit. Instead they died. Why? Because each individual thought "if I rush that guard, I'm going to die. If I don't, maybe I'll live. Maybe they won't kill me. Maybe somebody else will save me. In any case, I will live longer than I will if I rush that guard."

That's what passengers on a hijacked airliner are going to do. The terrorists take over, assure the passengers "We have a bomb. We do not want to kill you. We only want to exchange you for prisoners in Guantanmo Bay". There isn't going to be a mass uprising against those terrorists. The passengers will tell themselves "that story makes sense. If I rush that guy he'll set off his bomb and kill us all, but if I sit here I'll be fine once the White House negotiates my release". And they'll go on thinking that right up to the point where the plan goes into a nose-dive towards the White House.

Many things in the world are finite, but the human capacity for denial and rationalization is not among them.

Pogo said...

Revenant,
I agree with you, but I hope my anger about all this remains if ever I confront this situation for real.

I plan to act, and make him die for his cause. I figure if it's gone that far, i'm dead anyway, and we might as well steer it short of the target. Plus, I want to kill him before I die.

LoafingOaf said...

The flight 93 folks *knew* they were going to die -- the hijackers reportedly told them, and in any case they knew about the other plane crashes that had already happened. They rebelled, as people who *know* they are going to die often do.

The Flight 93 passengers didn't know the intentions of the terrorists until after the plane had already been completely taken over, including the cockpit. People aren't gonna let a plane get taken over like that again. Before 9/11 the assumption was that a hijacked plane will land somewhere and the hijackers will negotiate with authorities.

Because each individual thought "if I rush that guard, I'm going to die. If I don't, maybe I'll live. Maybe they won't kill me. Maybe somebody else will save me. In any case, I will live longer than I will if I rush that guard."

On a plane, the passengers outnumber hijackers and the hijackers don't have control of the scene until they succeed in taking control. Which is extra harder now that cockpiuts are locked and there may be an armed officer. It's a bit different from a death camp that's already been set up and is full of soldiers who already are in control.

The terrorists take over, assure the passengers "We have a bomb. We do not want to kill you. We only want to exchange you for prisoners in Guantanmo Bay". There isn't going to be a mass uprising against those terrorists. The passengers will tell themselves "that story makes sense. If I rush that guy he'll set off his bomb and kill us all, but if I sit here I'll be fine once the White House negotiates my release".

Why would anyone think that? When someone suspicious is on board, people will be watching like hawks. The second passngers are aware a terrorist is on board, I have full confidence people will start fighting. Didn't passengers tackle Richard Reid?

The most recent alleged plot was to get some sort of liquid or cream explosive on planes and blow them up in the air. This was foiled by infiltrating the terror cell. I'm all for infiltrating cells and as well as kicking ass overseas to get to the root causes. X-Raying us where there's no reasonable suspicion will mostly just make America a slightly less pleasant place to live, though. If a terrorist blows up a mall, will we be x-rayed there too? (They tried to blow up a mall in Ohio a couple years ago....)

I just saw a woman from TSA on Fox and she said these X-Rays don't uncover anything current techniques can't already find, it's just an alternative. Another guest made the point that, whatever precautions they take, some of these images might wind up on the Internet. She gave an example: If Britney Spears is being X-Rayed, there'll be temptation for the security officer to save, or snap a photo of, the X-Ray and distributes it for money.

Cedarford said...

mcg - The article does state that image processing has been applied to blur sensitive areas while remaining effective for detecting banned items. (Presumably the two categories are disjoint.)

Ah, I missed that! And that was NOT as implied to be blurred "automatically" so TSA goons watching scanners didn't get a show of the "intimate places"...since such places are favorite places for criminals or just reg people wishing to keep something more secure than in a pocket chooses. The "blurring" was apparantly related to computer algorithms that blur when the "print feature" is used on a scanner.

Apparantly, TSA "heroes" can also select scans they wish to store for up to 40 years...presumably of only "the bad guys", various celebrities..certainly not the whole public!

If you look elsewhere - the British put out photos of a man that were detailed enough to show he wasn't circumsized, the left one was bigger than the right one - and he had cellulite on his butt.

I know....I know! Many say the American sheeple favor anything to keep us "perfectly safe", that doesn't single out and "offend" !

Many who no doubt await the arrival of "highly trained, min-wage, but "professional TSA anal and vaginal probers" needed to keep us "even safer".

We surely wouldn't want to do anything commonsense like demand the Peaceful People of Islam to declare blowing up planes, use of WMD religiously forbidden by Fatwa or, in consequence, they don't fly internationally.

That would be an imposition on them!!! Demanding Muslims knock it off or face collective repercussions would be wrong!! Violate precious liberties and all! Profiling!
******************
Along with this comes disclosure that TSA is searching returing or departing USA soldiers preferentially because the brainless criteria makes them "high risk" since they have one-way tickets on their way to or from a nation that sponsors terrorism - Iraq.
**********************
And that news came out that TSA is generating a "security rating" score to Americans that cross our Border based on "Non-discriminatory" factors that exclude religion and ethnicity and sexual orientation...but do flag "nervousness, having a poor attitude towards government workers performing their duties, airline complaints, caught with illegal contraband they brought to the search area".

This rating each individual gets is locked in the databases, is to be shared with other government agencies who are screening job applicants and select private employers, but not with the individual.

Great. Just great. I suppose that too is OK if it "keeps us all as safe as we can be and doesn't discriminate based on being from the ME or having radical Islamist religious beliefs".

Anon Y. Mous said...

"She gave an example: If Britney Spears is being X-Rayed, there'll be temptation for the security officer to save, or snap a photo of, the X-Ray and distributes it for money."

Bad example - Britney's all over the internet showing it for free.

tiggeril said...

Nakedness creates irritation that I forgot to grab a new towel out of the linen closet before heading to the shower.

Revenant said...

People aren't gonna let a plane get taken over like that again.

They already have.

On a plane, the passengers outnumber hijackers and the hijackers don't have control of the scene until they succeed in taking control. Which is extra harder now that cockpiuts are locked and there may be an armed officer.

It is easy for hijackers to seize control of a plane before the passengers even realize anything's going on. The odds of the passengers deciding en masse to quickly overpower the hijackers before they are able to seize control of key areas of the plane are essentially zero. People do not spend their time on a flight ready to enter into a fight to the death at the drop of a hat. Even trained professionals like police have trouble doing that.

Hijacker stands up and walks to the front of first class, ostensibly to use the restroom. He then grabs a stewardess, holds a knife to her throat, and announces that his accomplices on the plane will detonate their bombs if the passengers resist. Odds of anyone realizing what's going on before it is too late: negligible. The passengers, by and large, are going to think "wait -- did he just say what I think he said? Is this real?".

Let's say the passengers do, in fact, rush him. The bombs go off and everybody dies, so that's a few hundred deaths right there from the "screw security, let the passengers handle it" system. Later, the cockpit voice recorder surfaces and the ultimatum, struggle, and explosion are heard on tape. Now the next group of hijackers tries the same speech. Are the passengers going to rush him this time? No. Now they know its suicide, and nobody commits suicide in order to evade a *possible* death, however probable that death may be.

The second passngers are aware a terrorist is on board, I have full confidence people will start fighting.

You're welcome to have full confidence in anything you like, but that sort of behavior is unprecedented in human nature. The first reaction a large group of people have, when faced with a violent threat, is to do nothing and wait to see if someone else does something first. It takes time to psych yourself up to charge, bare-handed, an armed man. Even moreso in a crowded airliner, where someone's got to be the first in line -- the one who gets to take the first gunshot, or the knife to the guts.

Didn't passengers tackle Richard Reid?

Oh, please. Richard Reid was a moron -- he took his shoe off and started trying to set it on fire. Of course he got tackled -- he had no weapon to use in self-defense and was clearly trying to kill the people around him with a bomb. A planned hijacking is going to be more competently executed than that, and give the passengers reason not to resist.

I just saw a woman from TSA on Fox and she said these X-Rays don't uncover anything current techniques can't already find, it's just an alternative

Given how monumentally incompetent the TSA is, I see no reason to accept their word on this subject. I wouldn't trust the average airport screener to find his own dick with both hands and a map.

VICTOR said...

If it was posted on the blog "feministing" it most definitely would be :)

J. Peden said...

The only way I'm getting naked for a group photo shoot is if the women take off all their make-up. The men can leave their's on.

Alan said...

Well shoot...I missed "Positively Naked." It must have come on way too early for me. I guess I'll have to settle for "Bikini Girls from Lost Planet" later tonight. :)

BTW, have you seen the creepy but addictive show on Showtime called "Dexter?" Oh boy, If you thought "Big Love" pushed the boundaries....

Revenant said...

Wow, thanks for pointing out "Dexter". Hall's a great actor -- glad to see him in another show. :)

Kev said...

"If a terrorist blows up a mall, will we be x-rayed there too? (They tried to blow up a mall in Ohio a couple years ago....) "

I visited the St. Louis Arch a few months ago, and I was somewhat (but not completely) surprised to see an airport-like security setup at the visitors center (the only difference being that you got to keep your shoes on). The more I thought about it, the more sense it made that they would do that there...

LoafingOaf said...

revenant:

They already have.

The Turkish Airlines hijacking occurred when an unarmed man dashed into the cockpit when the flight attendants complacently had the door open (if they're this complacent on flights in the USA, we have a big problem). The hijacker bluffed about accomplices elsewhere on the plane with explosives, but they did not exist. Who were the passengers supposed to fight? Imaginary terrorists?

That incident is troubling in that it shows airlines still aren't securing cockpits (at least on a Turkish plane), which is actually rather scandolous. But it doesn't refute my points about how passengers will view a situation differently now. Also, X-Raying people at the airport would have done ziltch to prevent that hijacking, since he was unarmed.

Hijacker stands up and walks to the front of first class, ostensibly to use the restroom. He then grabs a stewardess, holds a knife to her throat, and announces that his accomplices on the plane will detonate their bombs if the passengers resist.

If I were on that plane, my assumption (given what we have learned over the past few years) would be that if they have bombs they fully intend to blow up the plane. My best bet to survive would be to attack in the hopes that either they're bluffing about the bombs, the chaos will work out favorbly, or their bombs will malfunction.

I would not sit there thinking we're gonna safely land (will they even know how to land?) and have hours of negotiations with the White House about releasing al Qaeda members from Guantanomo Bay.

A planned hijacking is going to be more competently executed than that, and give the passengers reason not to resist.

The planning of 9/11 seemed to be done under the assumption that people would think the plane would land somewhere and there'd be negotations. Passangers won't believe that anymore. Perhaps that's why the last alleged major airplane plot was simply to blow up planes over cities, with no hijacking involved.

Given how monumentally incompetent the TSA is, I see no reason to accept their word on this subject. I wouldn't trust the average airport screener to find his own dick with both hands and a map.

Nor would I. Was just trying to say that these X-Rays aren't gonna find stuff that they can't already find with the methods already in use.

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Whence your disdain for performance artists? (I think the film was more a piece of "performance art" than "installation art," but I don't think those distinctions have much to do with your point.) Do you think the obnoxiousness of Karen Finley is the be all and end all of performance art? And is there really nothing new about the depiction of group nudity? Of course there's nothing new about group nudity, but it's precisely the selection and depiction of the dynamics produced by this instance of it that seems pretty interesting. We've all experienced it (in high school locker rooms if nowhere else), but it's not as if I've ever encountered a lot of thoughtful reflection upon it.

knoxgirl said...

BTW, have you seen the creepy but addictive show on Showtime called "Dexter?"

Best show I've seen in a long time

Ann Althouse said...

Wyatt: "Whence your disdain for performance artists? (I think the film was more a piece of "performance art" than "installation art," but I don't think those distinctions have much to do with your point.)"

I didn't say one word about performance artists here, so I don't know how I could have expressed disdain. The NYT article characterized it as a documentary about an art installation, and I'm a big fan of the Maysles Brothers films about Christo (and have written about that here in the past). It wasn't a film about performance art in any way. My problem with the film, as something that I would be interested in, is that it wasn't enough about art. They were setting up for a photograph, but it wasn't much about photography. It was about the people who did the posing, and most of the film was about their personal stories, living with HIV/AIDS and how they felt about their bodies. That wasn't what I thought it would be, so I was disappointed. I'm not criticizing it for what it was, just noting that I wouldn't have watched it if I'd known what it was.

"Do you think the obnoxiousness of Karen Finley is the be all and end all of performance art?"

No, and there's no reason for you to think that I do. For example, I love Eric Bogosian's work.

"And is there really nothing new about the depiction of group nudity? Of course there's nothing new about group nudity, but it's precisely the selection and depiction of the dynamics produced by this instance of it that seems pretty interesting. We've all experienced it (in high school locker rooms if nowhere else), but it's not as if I've ever encountered a lot of thoughtful reflection upon it."

My point is that nudist ideology is very old. It's trite. It's not at all intellectually stimulating to me. I find it sentimental and dull. I'm not unsympathetic to sick people who get sentimental and say conventional things, but I wouldn't watch a documentary about them.

Theo Boehm said...

My only problem is that I just finished lunch when I clicked on the Susan Hallowell link. Talk about NSFW. I've got to stop reading this blog while eating sandwiches at my desk.

Anonymous said...

The airport here in Phoenix (Sky Harbor) apparently just installed these units. We'll see how that goes.

Revenant said...

The Turkish Airlines hijacking occurred when an unarmed man dashed into the cockpit when the flight attendants complacently had the door open

And where was the mass of passengers rushing forward to tackle and restrain him? Oh -- what's that? Nonexistant? Interesting.

The hijacker bluffed about accomplices elsewhere on the plane with explosives, but they did not exist. Who were the passengers supposed to fight? Imaginary terrorists?

They didn't know they were imaginary, which is the whole point. The same trick would have worked if there really HAD been accomplices. That's why your "rely on civilian Macho Macho Men to save the day" strategy is bunk. People could have said "oh, he's bluffing" and kicked his ass. They didn't.

It's very simple. If a man can hijack a plane with nothing more than a bad attitude and a crazy story, how hard could it possibly be for a team of men to hijack a plane with actual weapons? Answer: not very.

If I were on that plane, my assumption (given what we have learned over the past few years) would be that if they have bombs they fully intend to blow up the plane.

If they fully intend to blow up the plane, why would they bother to tell you about the bomb? We haven't learned ANYTHING "over the past few years" (or, indeed, ever) that would raise that expectation.

For that matter, what if all they want is to set off the bomb? How's your "screw the gate security, Passengers To The Rescue" attitude going to prevent some loon from simply detonating a suicide bomb at 30,000 feet?


The planning of 9/11 seemed to be done under the assumption that people would think the plane would land somewhere and there'd be negotations. Passangers won't believe that anymore.

I've already proven that they can and do believe that at least some of the time, because that's exactly what they did on the Turkish Airlines flight.

Was just trying to say that these X-Rays aren't gonna find stuff that they can't already find with the methods already in use

There's no rational reason to believe that.

kettle said...

Although one has a choice between this and a pat-down, an unnecessary X-ray seems like a rather bad idea. Frequent fliers will probably opt for this option almost exclusively, and that radiation exposure builds up over time. I mean astronauts (who admittedly are exposed to more radiation than most) often go to the trouble of expressly avoiding medical x-rays just to maintain flight status. In general, the more radiation you expose yourself to, the higher your risk of developing some sort of cancer - makes this sound like a rather bad idea for the government, and a potential payday for law professionals years down the line.

Is this really the way we ought to be spending our money?

LoafingOaf said...

If they fully intend to blow up the plane, why would they bother to tell you about the bomb?

Which is why the bomb would probably be a bluff. Why take the added risk of getting a bomb on board if a fake one works just as well? But I would think they'd intend to kill us. No way, no day, would I let them slit the throats of the pilots and take over the controls with me just sitting there watching.

Would it be possible for them to bluff me into thinking it's some othe rkind of hijacking and it's best to remain passive? I guess. If I thought it was just a guy having psychological problems who wants the plane to land at the location of his choice, or something like that.

But it's gonna be much more difficult to plan an attack which involves completely taking over airplanes. Hopefully, if Bush is doing is job, there aren't many terrorists in America who can plan a masterful mission, and instead - in America - al Qaeda is down to people like Richard Reid.

You can keep holding up the Turkish incident as "proof" that in a 9/11 situation on a American flight passengers would just sit there twiddling their thumbs, except it wasn't a 9/11 situtation.

Your own link quotes a passenger as saying he thought they were landing because of technical problems, the pilot was following international rules for the situation, and the pilots were still flying the plane, not the nutcase.

There hasn't been a 9/11-style hijacking since 9/11 so we're both speaking in hypotheticals. For myself, if I thought it was al Qaeda or its affiliates, I would not sit there waiting to see what terrorists have planned for me. I'd rather die fighting.

The 9/11 terrorists knowingly took advantage of the way hijackings had gone before to predict how passengers would act. A carefully planned mission needs to know how the wild card of passegers will likely behave, or years of planning go down the toilet.

When the cat was out of the bag, as on Flight 93, the passengers fought and the terror mission failed even after they had siezed control of the plane including the cockpit. Siezing control and taking over the plane's controls today would be more difficult, particularly on an American flight.

If things were as easy as you make them out, how come they haven't done it again. According to you, they don't even need the box cutters. Yet, instead they were working on some sort of liquid explosives to just blow the planes up without hijacking them.

For that matter, what if all they want is to set off the bomb? How's your "screw the gate security, Passengers To The Rescue" attitude going to prevent some loon from simply detonating a suicide bomb at 30,000 feet?

All I said is I'm resistant to letting them sit there and see through the clothes of people they have no reasonable suspicion about because it's too invasive. If a terrorist mas turned a Gatorade bottle into a bomb with some weird liquid explosive, how is X-Raying my mom is gonna stop that? All that will do is make my mom upset and potentially cause X-Ray pics of her getting distributed to a perverted web site.

"Was just trying to say that these X-Rays aren't gonna find stuff that they can't already find with the methods already in use."

There's no rational reason to believe that.


A woman from TSA said that on John Gibson's show, while she was arguing in favor of the X-Rays. If there's actually a serious need for X-Rays to prevent terrorism, get back to me and I'll deal with that when it's actually the case being made by the people installing the X-Rays.

Harry Eagar said...

knoxgirl, you're onto something, Carry it further:

My first, visceral reaction was, if this is necessary to live on the same planet with Muslims, let's get rid of 'em.

My second, more considered thought was, like knoxgirl's, that this will discourage/prevent Muslims from flying. (Not just women, either; Muslim men are equally nutty about the body.)

My third thought was, well, if they do keep flying, that means they don't really believe all that crap they say they believe, they're just brigands using religion as a cover, and the bleeding hearts can stop worrying about their tender sensitivies and demand that they join the rest of society -- or get out.

Works for me.