Review of “Permanent Damage” by Dean Barrett

I’m going to compare Dean Barrett with Stephen King.

Both authors wrote may have made their contribution to American literature relatively early-on in their careers. In both cases their greatest work, in this sense, is unappreciated by many people.

Stephen King’s finest work is clearly The Tommyknockers, a story that is the definition of horror: change. Decline. Degeneration. More sad than scary. Losing oneself while still being awake. King’s trick in The Tommyknockers is that the highly sympathetic and normal protagonist, Bobbi Anderson is not a rambling buffoon. Rather, Bobbi, like most people with mental illnesses, is a generally rational person who is making decisions that, day by day, are simply different than decisions she would have made before. Decisions which are hurtful to herself and those around her. Decisions that she sees differently. This lesson (which is clumsily hammed by Pirsig in the otherwise fine Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) is far more effectively taught by King.

Dean Barret’s best work is probably Memoirs of a Bangkok Warrior. Barret’s trick is that the colors he uses to pain the tragedy of war. While cliche and generally ho-hum works like All Quiet on the Western Front paint war as black and black, and thus show nothing. Memoirs instead paints a gorgeous picture of a beautiful land, and shows how the dark black and red and war reach even there. If war All Quiet is Saw, a victim hacked to pieces, war Memoirs is closer to Ayn Rand method of describing the grotesque: adding a single blemish to a great beauty.

As great as Tommyknockers was, though, King’s practice writing pays off. He was able to review much the same ground in Under the Dome, and writing is much better. To say there is nothing new in Dome is besides the point: Dome is the novel King has been practicing writing for decades. Dome is where it all comes together. Dome is the essence of all previous ideas, done better than ever before.

The same should be said about Permanent Damage. It is not as shocking as Memoirs, because it is not as new. But it is those stories done right. There is only one battle in the entire book, and it is disposed of in a couple pages right away (you can even read it online). The terrible thing about war is not the black and black. That is just night. The terrible thing about war is what is does to characters you want like, smart and hard working individuals who want the best for themselves, their friends, and their families.

All creativity comes from constraints. King works within the rural/horror genre, and is the better for it. Barrett seems most comfortable within the exotic/mystery, and likewise focuses that genre’s light to create his rainbow of colors.

Those expecting typical milfiction fair (such as the very well reviewed Senator’s Son) should look elsewhere. If war was only fought by the introspective and the philosophical we might celebrate it as a particularly vicious form of Socratic learning. Those who think of the sword most generally write of it, but it those who have lived by the sword who die by it.

Big 12 North Champions, Again

Nebraska is now back-to-back champions of the Big 12 North.

This means that Nebraska will play in the last scheduled Big 12 Championship game. With our departing our ancient sisters in the old Missouri Valley and leaving to the old Western Conference, the Big 12 falls below the treshhold required to hold a championship game.

With yesterday’s victory by Oklahoma over Oklahoma State, that last game will be played by ancient rivals OU and NU… the way it should end.

Go Huskers!

Janet Napolitano: Janet Napolitano Exempt from Pat-Downs, Body Scans

The TSA may be touching your junk, but they won’t be patting down the people who tell them to:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be greatful you used to live in a country where your could travel freely. Those memories mean something.

TSA Workers: Creeps who want ‘X-Ray Vision’ To Stare at naked people

Lazy weirdos:

TSA Using Pizza Boxes to Recruit New Workers:

Federal agencies often head to college campuses, job fairs or buy newspaper classified ads to announce new job openings. But the Transportation Security Administration is reaching out with pepperoni and cheese.

A Career Where X-Ray Vision and Federal Benefits Come Standard,” reads a TSA ad appearing on pizza boxes across the Washington region.

(And I thought “peodphiles who kill more Americans than al Qaeda” was the worst I could say about them!)

Do TSA Searches Violate the Fourth Amendment?

From Wikipedia [achived link]

Local TSA, including the TSA’s own blog, has been citing United States v. Aukai (2009) 497 F.3d 955, that provides a person cannot withdraw consent after a search has started because it would allow those detected to escape. Misconstruing the case, TSA’s new searches violate the US Constitutional “administrative” and “special needs” doctrine exceptions to the 4th Amendment as outlined in that very case. A search has to be no more “extensive” “nor intensive than necessary” and “confined in scope in good faith to that purpose.” [[US v. Aukai, 497 F. 3d 955, 961 (9th Cir.2007) citing United States v. Davis, 482 F.2d 893, 913(9th Cir.1973).

Pistole acknowledged Novemeber 21, 2010 that new TSA screening procedures are "invasive" and "uncomfortable" [7] confirming the public’s outcry over the searches and thereby implicitly acknowledging what was known all along; the extensive searches are unconstitutional without reasonable suspicion.

Pistole’s agency will continue to face criticism because screening all passengers with AIT or extensive pat-downs is not confined in good faith because they are generally applicable to all passengers traveling and without any limitation. A “special needs” search requires reasonable suspicion for more than that most minimally invasive searches (visual, metal detector, questioning, profiling, etc.). While an administrative search doctrine provides that the officer’s discretion is to be limited and when a person objects they get a warrant. New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 711 (1987).

Pistole’s agency during the reevaluation may finally come up with a constitutionally permissible search process which would escalate the levels of intrusiveness from a positive metal detector to a normal pat-down and then AIT or extensive pat-down if there was a need or reason to suspect, as in “good faith” they had an underwear bomb or to determine what triggered a safety alarm depending on the available technology.

However, this is unlikely given the totalitarian stance taken by the TSA and their unwillingness to do so. In fact local TSA on “national opt-out day” has requested local police departments to be on hand to arrest and bully those who exercise their rights and opt out before any search has taken place. [8] This too violates the constitutional rationale behind not requiring a warrant in the first place. Contrary to threats by TSA agents, civil penalties do not exist nor can they for refusing to be searched once a person has entered the checkpoint, rather fines exist for interfering with a search once it has started.

I am not a lawyer. Thoughts from any who are?

The TSA May Be Killing More Air Passengers Every Year Than Al Qaeda Did in 2001

Just as both al Qaeda and the TSA use sexual assault as a tool of politics, both al Qaeda and TSA kill air travelers.

The difference is that the TSA kills more travelers than al Qaeda.

More information on this state terrorism from Nate Silver:

More stringent security procedures, in essence, function as a tax upon air travel, and produce a corresponding deadweight loss. Teleconferences are often a poor substitute for person-to-person interaction, and when people are reluctant to travel, some business deals don’t get done that otherwise would have. Recreational travelers, meanwhile, may skip out on vacations that otherwise would have brought them pleasure and stress-relief (while improving revenues for tourism-dependent economies). The tenuous profits of the airline industry are also affected, of course. Revenue losses from the new bag-checking procedures may have measured in the billions, according to the Cornell study.

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.

In other words, Barack Obama is a greater threat to the safety of air travelers than Osama bin Laden.

Save American Lives. Impeach Janet Napolitano. Stop TSA Sexual Assault.