Sunday, April 23, 2017

TSA’s Full-Body Scan

Privacy Trumps Gov-Sanctioned Groping

The Transportation and Security Administration’s new, mandatory full-body x-ray scan provides officers with a detailed image of airplane passengers’ bodies — an image that exposes much more than explosives and go so far as to reveal breast implants and underwear. And while the threat of terrorism is alarming, we cannot sacrifice our basic right to privacy for a policy that isn’t even fool-proof.

Fire Brings Out the Best and Worst in San Diego Citizens

On my way to school today, the DJ on the radio was going on and on about the Escondido Humane Society fire, which killed about 100 animals and left the rest without a facility.

He mentioned that while it was tragic that so many animals lost their lives, it was incredible to see the outpouring of support and generosity that ensued.

All over San Diego county, people are donating money, blankets, food, dog bowls, etc., to the Humane Society.

While I somewhat agree with the DJ on the tragedy of the fire, I find myself in conflict over different feelings about the response of our fair city.

Frankly, I find it pathetic that San Diegans will respond to something out of the ordinary, like a huge fire and a bunch of homeless dogs and cats, but fail to show any of that generosity and compassion on a regular basis.

Obviously, I'm not just talking about our love for animals here. My point is that every day in San Diego, there are people who do not have food, people who need clothes and people who have nowhere to sleep. When you zoom out to the world at large, the problems become incomprehensible.

The majority of people feel little compulsion to do anything to help those people, but when a few dogs need a home, they break the bank to help out.

While I place some value on caring for our animal friends, my personal philosophy places far greater worth on human life than it does on animal life.

I don't see our whole city jumping up and down to send money to the earthquake victims in El Salvador. I didn't even hear about it on the radio, but I have heard three different DJs whining about the Escondido animals.

Though there is a considerable amount of aid flowing to El Salvador's victims, this brings up another problem: It takes an isolated incident of grand proportions to get people to notice. Because the people that need help every day in our city are not making international headlines, they go ignored.

There are no benefit concerts, no fund-raising bake sales, no spontaneous donations. People don't want to help a cause unless it's new, exciting and everyone knows about it.

If you were planning on scraping a little off the top of your starving student budget to help out Escondido's animals, maybe you could think a little and find a better place for your time and money.

A large part of the population of Escondido, and of the rest of San Diego, has no access to health care (unlike the dogs), no money for food and very poor living conditions.

By the time this column runs, I'd be willing to bet that the animals are doing just fine, and there's nothing more you can do for them. Expand your horizons a little, and look around the rest of the city.

Take this as your wake-up call for the day-to-day concerns of all of the two-footed mammals in the city. Let's take better care of our own species first, and then we can worry about the rest.


This may surprise many of you, but I was not always the staggeringly amusing and intelligent columnist that I am today.

No, really, try to control your shock. Among other things, I am also a copy reader for this esteemed publication.

Now, being a copy reader for the Guardian is not something that most people will admit to offhand. We get paid laughingly little and get virtually no credit for the work we do. They don't call us copy hoes for nothing, people.

And it's not an easy job either; the requirements are somewhat intimidating. I have to be familiar with Associated Press style as well as grammar -- for example, I am expected to know that Frisbee should be capitalized because it is the trademarked version of ""flying disc.""

Now, I know what you're thinking: ""Duh! Everyone knows that Frisbee is a trade name that should always be capitalized! What kind of dumb fuck wouldn't?"" And you are right -- every dumb fuck should know that. Haha.

But I also have to know that nonessential phrases must be set off by commas, which requires that I be familiar with what a nonessential phrase is. (In case you were wondering, it's a phrase that is not essential to the rest of the sentence.) Not laughing anymore, are you?

Well, maybe you are. I would be. But as pathetic as this job may seem, it was surprisingly hard to get.

It was about this time last year that I applied at the Guardian for my more-pathetic-than-words-or-nonessential-phrases-can-describe job. I went in, filled out an application and went on my merry way, assured of the fact that I was way too much of a journalism geek to be turned down.

I was wrong.

I should note here that, as a freshman trying to get used to a new school and sense of independence, I did not really want a job. By this I mean that I was basically just really lazy. My mother made me apply. So I was hardly heartbroken when I was summarily told that the Guardian no longer needed any more copy readers.

Then, at the very end of winter quarter, I ran into one of the copy readers who was not rejected. She mentioned that this paper was looking to hire readers again, and, because I just love rejection, I decided to reapply.

The second time I applied, I was actually rewarded with an interview. Jennifer Sposito and Jeffrey White, who are now the opinion editor and editor in chief, respectively, were the copy editors then. And quite intimidating people they were!

But they were also cruel, heartless people because they scheduled my interview for three days after I had my wisdom teeth pulled out. I realize they had no way of knowing this, but dammit, it's hard to interview without all your teeth.

So I showed up to my meeting with a swollen face, missing teeth and a head full of Vicodin. I was a happy camper, let me tell you.

The interview started out with tough, hard-hitting questions like, ""What college are you in?"" and ""What is your major?"" I, of course, took several moments to contemplate the fuzzy colors dancing before my Vicodin-clouded eyes before answering each question. I am great with first impressions.

Then we got to the really hard stuff -- copy reader stuff. Questions like, ""What is the difference between 'than' and 'then'?"" My response: ""Well one is time and the other is, like, a comparison, or, er ... just trust me, I know the difference."" And I still say that when under heavy medication, none of you would have been able to do any better. You probably can't anyway.

That portion of the interview over, I was then told that I would need to take the ""copy test."" You could almost taste the ominous undertone in that phrase -- and with Vicodin, you really can.

The only problem with this plan was that there were no available computers. I may have been high at the time, but I knew even then that this was not what I would call a ""highly efficient, well-oiled machine"" of a newspaper if they couldn't even give me a computer for an hour.

As scary as it sounded at the time, the copy test turned out to just be an article with a lot of inserted mistakes that I was supposed to catch in the span of one hour. No biggy. After all, I am a journalism nerd. This was cake.

About 20 minutes later I went to find whatever copy editor caught my eye. I told Jeff I was done, full of pride in myself for doing well and not falling asleep on the keyboard (again).

Jeff's response: ""You're done? Are you sure?""

Looking back on it now, that sounded a lot like Regis Philbin's patented, ""Is that your final answer?"" So of course I was not at all sure that I was really done with the copy test -- what the hell was I thinking?

I staggered back to the computer and sat in front of it for 15 more minutes, trying to look very busy, very important and very not high on Vicodin. After that, I really did feel sure that I was done -- or at least that I was tired -- so I left.

I have never seen that copy test since, but I am fairly sure I did well because I was hired.

Jenny has since claimed that she ""lost"" my first application, and that could be true, but I still like to make her feel guilty about it on principle. But with one quarter left in my freshman year, I was officially a member of the Guardian staff.

Needless to say, my cup runneth over.

Now it's a new year and I'm still here, reading stories and making sure that two-thought compounds (compounds that are smarter than one-thought compounds) have hyphens. And it only took two applications, one copy test and a whole lot of Vicodin.

So basically, if you ever apply to work at the Guardian, make sure you're on drugs -- apparently it helps.

More Options to Choose From

While I have to admit that I'm not exactly politically aware, I know enough to be totally dissatisfied with the available choices in the upcoming elections. If I do choose to exercise my right to vote, I will be voting not for the best man for the White House, but rather, for the lesser of two evils.

To date, I have been singularly unimpressed with the abilities and character of both Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush. Since it doesn't seem very hard to find better candidates than these two, I'd like to suggest a few other choices.

If you like what you see, write one of these in on your ballot-- it won't change anything for the United States, but it may make you feel a little better about your contribution to democracy.

1. Chancellor Dynes: As far as I can tell, he hasn't done anything too drastic at UCSD. If he does the same for the country, we should be safe -- unless he actually has to handle a war or something.

2. Jesse Jackson: I'm actually pretty sad that Jesse's not running this year. I like him. Unfortunately, our country really, really likes old, white males, and Jesse just doesn't fit into the ""white"" part of that.

3. Oprah Winfrey: Oprah really seems to have her act together. What's more, she has spent her entire life trying to solve other people's problems, so she's got plenty of practice. She even has a considerable following built up. Unfortunately for her campaign, she's not white, and she's not an old man (see above).

4. Scott Foley: For those of you who don't spend your Wednesday night watching the WB, Foley plays Noel on ""Felicity."" I've been madly in love with his character for a while now, and I fully believe that he's able to handle the demands of the U.S. presidency.

5. Britney Spears: I just want to get her doing something for a living other than singing and showing off her stomach. Maybe if she's busy handling the nation, she won't have time to dance.

6. Mister Rogers: Unlike the candidates I've seen, Fred Rogers is honest, trustworthy, intelligent, and really does have our best interests in mind. He's got my vote any day.

7. Hillary Clinton: Just kidding.

Last, but certainly not least: me. I think that I'd make a great president. I promise to stay away from sexual scandal and to be slightly less obnoxious than Bill Clinton.

I don't have a clue how to handle the taxes or the situation in Israel, but I don't think that Gore and Bush do either, so we're all even. As soon as I come up with a catchy slogan, you'll see me in the running. I can count on your votes, can't I?

Well, I hope I've given you all something serious to think about today. What do you want for your country in the future? Take a stand.

Let's get some decent people in the White House. I've given you some suggestions, but feel free to come up with your own. You have a whole country of people to choose from.

Solve For X

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