“There is just no guarantee that your luggage is secure anymore”

Didn’t I say this would happen? Didn’t I? Yes I bleedin’ did. We have less security now with our new “security” rules than when we left well enough alone. Stupid stupid stupid.

TSA Under Pressure To Stop Baggage Theft
For Agency, a New Airport Security Problem
When John Latta flew to Reagan National Airport from Miami last month, he discovered that a $1,000 pair of binoculars was missing from his checked luggage.
“What can I do?” he asked an airline agent who took a report. Her answer, Latta said, was: “Nothing. Zero.”
Latta’s complaint is one of more than 6,700 that travelers have lodged in the six months since the federal government began advising passengers to leave their checked luggage unlocked for inspection. Most of the complaints concerned damaged or stolen items, but the figure also includes some claims of lost luggage, according to the Transportation Security Administration, which compiles the numbers.
The airlines do not provide data on stolen and damaged items in their reporting of complaints, most of which concern lost baggage. So comparisons with previous years are difficult.
The spotlight on luggage thefts intensified after two baggage screeners were arrested in Miami this week. The TSA employees were charged with stealing things from checked baggage. A federal security screener in New York was arrested in March on charges of stealing thousands of dollars in cash from passengers while inspecting their belongings at an airport checkpoint. The rap star Lil’ Kim reported June 20 that $250,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from her Louis Vuitton bag at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Her lawyer said the jewelry was found Friday in a locker room for airline employees at JFK, the Associated Press reported.

RIAA’s Jackboot Thugs Move In

Well folks, the RIAA has let their lawyers loose and sending out cease-and-desist notices to everybody with mp3 sites. My two favorite sites (this one and this one) for rare ’80s mp3s has been shut down, and they only posted maybe five per week, all completely out of print and sometimes totally unheard of. And what good will this do? The RIAA are penny-pinching big business suits trying to comprehend why their sales are down, and why they’ve lost customers. They’ve spent years in cahoots with the music industry screwing the artist; now they’re screwing the consumer.

Iliad – Homer (trans. Stanley Lombardo)


Hackett Publishing, 1997
At long last finished the Iliad last night, after months
of just being too busy to read. After reading Stanley Lombardo’s excellent translation, I think I’m spoiled for the rest of Greek Literature in English (barring of course Lombardo’s Odyssey, which I’m tempted to pick up next.) I read the Iliad back in college in one of those dry prose versions (probably Martin Hammond or Samuel Butler) and I never could figure out why this rambling repetitive narrative was a cornerstone of Western Lit. With Lombardo’s translation-in modern English, heavily colloquial, and in verse-that’s all suddenly apparent, and my memory of the first reading seems to have vanished.
There were moments when I had to stop and remind myself that what I was reading was thousands of years old. Lombardo makes you feel like it was yesterday (and seeing I started reading it during the beginning of the second Iraqi Boffo Oil Grab and Civilian Massacre, it probably was yesterday), and Homer’s techniques and style shine through.
Lombardo sets apart the lengthy metaphors that are part of Homer’s technique in italic mini poems; these “asides” heighten the poetic effect by taking you out of the action for a line or ten and then spinning you right back into the thick of battle. And who wouldn’t groove on the gory and inventive detail that Homer invests in the damage a bronze-tipped spear can do to the human body. We get enter and exit wounds, popping eyeballs, crushed skulls, spraying blood and intestines, all in gratuitous slo-mo. Somebody call the Minister for Worrying Over Children and have this book banned immediately!
Two main things interested me throughout The Iliad. One was the even-handed approach that Homer gives to both sides: war is hell, but war also seems to be the social interaction of two equal units (which you can’t say for most of the wars of the 20th Century). Imagine a Gulf War narrative that quickly sketched the family background of both American and Iraqi soldier just before both were killed, making the losses equal, and equally sad.
The other interest was the rather complex conception of fate as it applied to the mortals and the gods that took their sides. The hierarchy on Mount Olympus complicates things to start with. Zeus has determined that Troy will fall, but within these plans there’s much room to plot. Fate and predetermination are of a much looser quality than in Christianity, and I’m sure much has been written about it. I guess it boils down to this: a Christian would see getting hit by a car as God’s will, with the reason kept mysterious. A Greek would see it as Zeus’s will, but the reason would be based up several factors, one being that a few years ago you displeased Hera by not burning an ox in supplication, which led to a fight among the gods, and also there was that time when you picked on your brother, who, you always suspected, was favored by a goddess, and she put in a good word for him. Or something like that.
My final question: Why on earth does this action-packed, spear-and-shield epic end with a major sporting event (the “funeral games”)? I didn’t see that coming, but I’m sure Zeus knew.