I recall seeing that exposé a year or so ago showing that undercover agents working for the Department of Homeland Security were able to smuggle weapons and bomb-making materials through TSA checkpoints with a success rate of 95%. This article (link) makes a great point that TSA is mostly just something to make us all feel better about a very rare occurrence. This is in addition to the fact that a large portion of the TSA agents I encounter tend to be loud-mouthed and condescending pricks. Yes, I know not all of them are like that, but I have never taken a trip that involved traveling through a U.S. airport where I didn’t encounter one.
This is as it should be. The Framers of the Republic never intended for the sort of imperial presidency we’ve experienced beginning in the latter half of the 20th Century. It was always intended that Congress would be the political center of gravity. Liberals would do well to understand this. So long as conservative, corporately-backed forces are the dominant force in legislatures across the country, the reforms we seek will remain elusive.
Elizabeth Warren understands the long game, far better than a lot of her fellow liberals do. The presidency is important for a great many reasons and ensuring that Trump never sits in the Oval Office is equally important. But if you want real reform, you need to legislate it. If you want to legislate reform, you’ve got to control the legislature.
But never mind all that because it’s beside the point. The taxes I filed today were for my home of the past year, Taiwan, known officially as the Republic of China. To do so, I simply walked around the corner from my apartment to my district tax office. I walked in, was handed a number from an attendant, and took a seat. A few minutes later, my number flashed across a screen directing me to counter 9. The tax bureau representative couldn’t speak English, but there was no need for her to. All she needed was the ID number from my alien registration card (ARC), which enabled her to pull up my tax documents from a digital database on her computer, print them out, and then direct me to a computer station to file them.
The word was necklace. It was a word I had introduced to my junior high students the previous week as we used a dialogue about a woman’s lost wedding ring to practice our speaking and pronunciation skills. The boy reached into the bucket of Pictionary words I’d created specially for this review game and pulled out the piece of jewelry one wears about the neck. I asked him if he remembered the word and he assured me he did. His teammates watched anxiously as I started the 1-minute countdown in which he’d have to draw a picture that they could then interpret correctly to give me the word. I yelled, “Ready, set, GO!” and watched his teammates for a raised hand. Then, after a few seconds, the entire class erupted in laughter. I turned to see what was so funny and discovered the boy, in a hurried attempt to draw a necklace with a small pendant had instead drawn what more closely resembled a penis with urethral opening. My wide eyes must have told him he needed to try again, which he did. Seconds later, more laughter–this time, he’d done a rather fine rendition of a vagina. Thankfully, his teammates were able to guess the word, and he was able to sit down without suffering any more embarrassment. In short, welcome to my life, friends. Continue reading