By on January 16, 2012

The quote is courtesy of John Sedat, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco, quoted in a CNET article. Let’s get another quote, this one from Dr. Peter Rez at Arizona State:

To call anything based on high energy X-rays ‘low energy’ is worse than 1984 doublespeak

What’s this all about?

It’s called “Z Portal”. Sounds like the title of a second-tier 8-bit Nintendo game, right? Actually, it’s a machine to capture photos like this:

Clearly, the government wants to see your genitalia so badly they are willing to kill you to do it. It’s like having the Son of Sam running the Postal Service.

Quoth CNET:

The origin of the scanners can be traced back to a not-so-obvious source: President Obama’s signature American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the stimulus bill. That awarded a $27.3 million contract to American Science and Engineering, or AS&E, to build 35 scanners, according to a description at Recovery.gov. Soon afterward, X-ray scanners appeared at the San Ysidro, Calif., checkpoint, sometimes called the world’s busiest land crossing; other locations listed in the specification include El Paso, Texas, Columbus, N.M., and Nogales, Ariz.

Now Homeland Security wants more. The U.S. government convened a “pre-solicitation conference” in Washington, D.C., on November 29, 2011, according to a public procurement document. Another document says “Customs and Border Protection is very appreciative of all the responses received” and plans to publish a formal request for proposals for the next purchase on February 1.

Once the Z Portal is in place at all border crossings, the government will have achieved the dubious goal of succesfully violating everyone who wants to travel to another country. The rationale behind the airport scanners has always been that air travel is a privilege, not a right — but if every method of travel involves a cancer scan, where’s the freedom to travel?

Long-time TTAC readers know that one way to potentially frustrate the scanners would be to travel in a Seventies Chrysler Imperial. But what if the scanner is cranked up high enough to punch through the famous Imperial doors? What will that radiation do to you?

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44 Comments on ““Society Will Pay A Huge Price In Cancer Because Of This”...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well guess I’ll just stay home then…

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Just leagalize drugs and you don’t need this type of thing. Plus, the Mexican cartels would be out of business in a year due to the collapse of the price of pot and cocaine.
    Win win for everyone except the fools who take the drugs.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      “Just leagalize drugs and you don’t need this type of thing.”
      Felix, come on man.
      You know there is no room for reason or logic when it comes to national security.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      “Win win for everyone except the fools who take the drugs.”

      Actually, we win too.

      • 0 avatar
        Felix Hoenikker

        Looking back to my post, I was a little to broad in my condemnation of drug users. I meant to say that those who patronize the cartels by purchasing street drugs do everyone a disservice except the cartel members.
        I have no problem with someone who grows/produces their own. My only wish is that we cuold take all the money out of the system and see what happens.

    • 0 avatar
      Carzzi

      Actually the “fools who take drugs” would als “win” if drugs were legalized (and regulated to some extent, at least for purity), due to a lowered risk of deadly effects of adulterated/contaminated drugs.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Except that the cartels aren’t going to say: “Aw shucks! They won. Let’s go home.”

      Marijuana is effectively legal in CA already (all you need is a ‘recommendation’ from a quasi-doctor who often sets up shop inside the store), and it is even manufactured by the state. Yet, illegal marijuana in CA is still going strong.

    • 0 avatar
      axual

      And … tax those drugs and eliminate the deficit too. Sounds like a plan.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Noone “needs this type of thing.” Governments do “this type of thing” for the same reason they take people’s income to pay themselves benefits and preen around acting important: Because they can. The specific excuse they happen to employ at any given time, is entirely incidental.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I can see legalizing pot, but cocaine? Sorry, that needs to stay illegal.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      Weed is one thing. There aren’t a lot of great arguments out there for keeping marijuana illegal.

      Cocaine, OTOH, is a Real Drug. Uninhibiting access to cocaine for the general population would be asinine.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Fuggin sweet. If I ever have to go through one of these things, I’m going to toss the keys to the nearest mouth-breather and tell them to go for it, cause I’m not getting near that thing.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    I think that the TSA and Homeland Security in general need to be seriously reined in, but I haven’t heard anyone from any party talking about it other than Ron Paul, who lumps it in with Social Security and all sorts of other beneficial agencies.

    • 0 avatar
      Kabayo

      Social Security is “beneficial”?

      Government education has certainly had the desired effect in your case…

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I learned from family members who remember what life was like before it. The same goes for mine safety regulations, air quality, and the effect of union representation, too!

        History is more then what Glenn Beck tells you.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Advance_92:

        Any Ponzi scheme is beneficial for those who start it. They pay nothing in, and get something back. Social Security was no different for the initial generation. They got someone else to pay for their retirement without ever having to put anything in to pay for anyone elses. A good deal if there ever was one.

        For those forced to live through the entire life cycle of the Ponzi; from being contributors to being beneficiaries, it is trivial to demonstrate that Ponzi scheming is not beneficial. To anyone not paid to run the scheme, that is.

        But I bet government “education” never taught you such a thing.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @stuki:

        A Ponzi scheme, by definition, is one where people who put money in get screwed out of their investment. Name me one person who is qualified to receive social security who hasn’t received it.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I though this pic was taken at an airport. So I guess that would be next.

    Hopefully there is an opt out plan where they can pat you down and X-ray the car with no one inside. Travel is truly becoming more than a nuisance. It is a genuine pain in the ass nowadays. All in the name of protecting freedom? Give me a break…

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Hey, if we stop traveling, “the terrorists win.” Remember?

    On the one hand, hey, this country is big enough….there’s enough to see and do here so that I don’t really ever need to cross a border.

    On the other, hey, we all gotta go sometime. We need to thin the herd to make room for all the illegals sneaking across the border. (They’ll be healthy enough to work, anyway…they don’t have to go through the scanners!)

  • avatar

    I do not see this point clearly made: X-rays come in different flavours, or colors actually. The “high-energy” refers to those that are more likely to ionize when coming through, and thus damage tissues and trigger cancers. So you can have a powerful beam of low-energy X-rays that is reasonably safe and vice versa, which is a problem. And apparently you have to use higher-energy rays to poke through a car. Note though low-energy X-rays still can trigger some types of cancers, since their photons are more powerful than, say, UV-rays, which can trigger cancers if you are too indiscriminate with the exposure. But there’s a lot of difference within X-rays as well.

  • avatar
    George B

    This system is built wrong. It unnecessarily exposes people to x-rays to scan the car. A better configuration would be built like an automatic car wash where the car travels down a track sans people. Throw in the option of actually getting your car washed while you’re being inconvenienced and the scanner might not be that bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      +1

      You beat me to it!

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      «This system is built wrong»

      This system is built to a government spec.

      If it, like the X-Ray scanners at airports, end up killing .0001% of taxpayers that’s only 3,000 taxpayers, after all, and…

      …well the good news is that the feds have given themselves immunity, so it’s not like you can sue them from your cancerous deathbed.

  • avatar
    CurseWord

    Gotta love defense contracts and their friends that write them big checks. If dogs are good enough to detect terrorist in Israel they’re good enough for our airports. They’re just much cheaper.

    I’d like to think the owners of these machines don’t also have money invested in health care, that way if cancer cases increase they don’t benefit from that too. I’d really really like to think that.

    House hunting in Canada…

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    The proper dose of ionizing radiation is defined by “ALARA” which means “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”. The term “reasonable” is subjective but would include factors such as the magnitude of the benefit, and the expense of using a different technique, as well as the potential harm. I don’t know what the benefit is supposed to be on this, but I can offer some insight on the risk.

    Radiation consequences can be divided into 2 catagories. At low doses there should be no determanistic effects (effects that get worse if the dose is higher, such as sunburn). Rather, we are concerned about stochastic effects, which would include things like cancer induction. The concept behind stochastic effects is that the dose of the radiation determines the likelihood of the side effect, but NOT the severity of the problem. So, you are unlikely to get cancer from 0.01 Rads, but if you do, it will be just as bad as a cancer from 1000 rads. Make sense? If so, then there is no such thing as a “safe dose” of ionizing radiation with regard to stochastic effects.

    So, in summary, high energy X-rays are not an appropriate tool if there is something else that can do the job “reasonably” (dogs, searches, other technologies, etc.). Under no circumstance should any dose be called “safe” with regard to stochastic effects, but rather we define the proper dose as ALARA and then decide if the benefit is worth the risk- because there is ALWAYS a risk. That’s how decisions about the utilization of ionizing radiation are supposed to be made.

    Hope that helps. My disclaimer: I am a Physicist and a Radiation Oncologist, put I am not an expert on international border security or drug smuggeling. XD

    • 0 avatar
      CurseWord

      So any radiation is bad, despite the PR term “low risk”? I figured as much, and hate those back scatter machines at the airport. Gotta love the lobbyists that decided you have a choice between a Scanner or having your balls cupped, all in the name of money. This stuff gets my cynical conspiracy blood boiling.

      Thanks for explaining the science behind it.

      • 0 avatar
        thecavanaughs

        Happy to help, CurseWord. I should point out that my entire discussion was about ionizing radiation only. There is much less scientific agreement about the dangers of non-ionizing radiation, and non-ionizing radiation is outside of my area of expertise, so I really can’t say much about it.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      ‘high energy X-rays are not an appropriate tool if there is something else that can do the job “reasonably”’

      And neither, if the “job” is not reasonable to begin with. What is reasonable “jobs” for the Federal Government to be involved in, was written down by the Founders in those quaint documents called the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Scanning people at border crossings happens not to be one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      boltar

      Or spelling ;-). But, excellent job of laying out the facts. Thanx!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “So, in summary, high energy X-rays are not an appropriate tool if there is something else that can do the job “reasonably” (dogs, searches, other technologies, etc.). ”

      And there you have the raison d’etre for these stupid scanners – the people who use the dogs have to be paid, and since we’re in “we don’t want to pay for government mode,” we have machines instead.

      Yet one more unforeseen consequence of telling the government to keep us safe – a reasonable expectation that’s in the constitution – but not giving them the resources to do so. This is the same reason why Arizona’s resorting to police state tactics to go after illegal immigrants – it’s cheaper for the cops to do profiling than it is to secure the borders.

      • 0 avatar
        CurseWord

        Those machines are likely far more costly than 2 well-trained dogs and officers. The backscatter machines cost $100,000 to $200,000. I’m sure these machines cost much more.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    Make the crew that does the scanning go through the machine everyday as part of their employment. If it safe, why wouldn’t they?

  • avatar
    Vracknal

    I’ve got a better idea.

    Install a car-sized conveyer belt under the x-ray machine, people park their cars on it, get out, the car gets scanned, the Border Patrol can molest everyone who was going to travel across in the car (they enjoy it, and it’ll stop people taking stuff across in their pockets or whatever I guess) and once the car’s been scanned, the occupants can cross the border and collect it at the other end of the conveyer belt.

    The border patrol still get to blast stuff with X-rays, people get to avoid any risk of cancer. Everybody wins!

  • avatar
    OldWingGuy

    Maybe Chevy can install one of these at the end of the Cruze assembly line. To look for missing front brake pads.

  • avatar
    Gimmi Sagan Om Draken Visiting From Negative Earth

    Well demand to get out of the car, they can scan the car and then check you if they like. I wouldn’t let them, you can say no

  • avatar
    beefmalone

    They’re not Chrysler Imperials. They’re Imperial Lebarons and Imperial Crowns. This isn’t Jalopnik…you guys should know better.

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