The Corner

Airport Security and My Wife’s Little Camera

With Mrs. R about to head back East for a college reunion,  couple of days ago yours truly headed out to Costco to buy her a digital camera she could use to snap a few pics of her old friends–I wanted something very easy to use, small enough to fit easily into her purse, and (you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that I knew she would have wanted it this way) inexpensive. I settled on the Casio EX-Z80, for which I paid $149. I took the camera home, charged the battery, and then presented the camera to my wife, who, delighted, took a few practice shots before tucking it away in her carry-on luggage.

Looking over the manual just now–Mrs. R remains back East, where, she tells me, she’s snapping happily away–I discovered that the camera possesses a very wide array of features, including all sorts of automatic focus modes (one setting for landscapes, another for sports, still another for night scenes, and so on), a stabilization feature to eliminate blurring if the photographer should fail to hold the camera absolutely steady, face recognition, and, to my astonishment, something called “family first.” “Family first” enables the user to photograph up to six faces–presumably, the faces of members of his family. The camera will store these faces in memory, and from then on, whenever it finds itself pointed at a group of people, the camera will search the crowd for the faces it has memorized, fixing on them as it automatically focuses the shot. 

Which leads to a question.

Can anybody tell me why, when we possess technology so dazzling that pretty good face recognition is available in cameras that cost less than a hundred and fifty bucks–why does the Transportation Security Authority still insist on herding all air travellers, including such obviously unlikely terrorists as toddlers and little old ladies, through security checks that are slow, cumbersome, and, manifestly, stupid? Why doesn’t the federal government get smart? We’re in the eighth year of a Republican administration, for goodness’s sake. And–really, the most disturbing question–why do we all put up with it?

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