Sprinkle Sprinkle

I think I need a cure-all. Maybe we all do, in the cold and dreary days of December. Maybe that's why holiday celebrations, whatever you call them, give us an infusion of joy.

Seventeenth century medicine had a rather unique cure-all, according to Dan Airely in his book “Predictably Irrational”: “Take the fresh corpse of a red-haired, uninjured, unblemished man, 24 years old and killed no more than one day before, preferably by hanging, breaking on the wheel or impaling....Leave it one day and one night in the light of the sun and the moon, then cut into shreds or rough strips. Sprinkle on a little powder of myrrh and aloes to prevent it from being too bitter.” That's pretty irrational, if not predictable.

I love red-headed men, although finding one unblemished is a bit of a task. But I'll take the diamond in the sky over this sprinkle sprinkle recipe any time. Airely also tells us that in the fourteenth century you could hire professional mourners “to wail and sob for the deceased at funerals”.

That's a bit more palatable. It may not lift my spirits, but at least it offers a substitute for the winter wailing willies. Jacob Braude has a solution for the blues that's even better: “Whoever you are, there is some younger person who thinks you are perfect. There is some work that will never be done if you don't do it. There is someone who would miss you if you were gone. There is a place that you alone can fill”.

Of course, the TSA is looking for places that you alone can fill with explosives or bomb-making material. I'm not sure that my armpits and private crevices are the logical answer to that search. I'm also not reassured by the fact that pilots don't have to submit to the touchy-feely security agents at airports: let's see, didn't this bit of predictable irrationalilty begin with terrorists training as pilots? We have gone way beyond AT&T's old slogan advising us to “reach out and touch someone”. When TSA is all through poking and probing and patting and pinching, do I feel safer? Do you?

One artist, Ryan Trecartin, addresses the issue of sexual discomfort with an entirely different kind of prescription. He says he is “looking forward to a time when humans leave their genitals behind”: “I see people as being what their personality is at the moment of expression”, he says. “I feel genitals hold us back a lot”.

Do your genitals hold you back? Just check them at the airport. Rest assured that they will be x-rayed, x-amined and maybe even x-communicated, all in the name of protecting you from a few box- cutters.

There are sane, and reasonable, people in my life all the time. They greet me with a smile, wave to me on the street, write to me with their concerns, their joys and fears. What happens to these rational and loving beings when we send them to Washington D. C. and give them power over our lives? A bit of insanity seems to be sprinkled onto their daily Danish pastry. It grows like a malignancy and destroys their common sense. Next we'll be patting down Santa Claus – wow, does he have crevices! - and banning Christmas trees – think how many terrorists can hide under those branches.

As for me, I would rather think about the friend who recently sprinkled orchid petals on my head as a birthday gift. Or my holiday tree that this year, like last, will hold butterflies and birds. Or the many friends, like yourself, that fill my heart with joy. To all of you, I send gentleness and kindness to fill your Christmas stocking and a wish that we can keep the TSA out of our chimneys for at least one night a year.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2010

Clearly the issue has become politicized, with rather heated positions on every side. Here are just a few of the more interesting articles that have appeared: from Salon.com, "News Flash: Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11"; from Foreign Policy, "Three ways of looking at full body scanners"; and from USA TODAY, "Body scanner makers doubled lobbying cash over 5 years".