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The Porcupine's Quill:
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Porcupine's Quill
December 12, 2010


by Arshad M Khan

In an effort to speed up security procedures and shorten the interminable
lines at airports, the Transportation Security Authority Headquarters (TRASH)
has decided to fire a large proportion of its human inspectors and use
General Reconnaissance of Personnel (GROPER) devices.  An
electro-organic, part-being, part-computer life form -- it comes with a
pleasant male or female face.  Its most unique aspect is a set of six pairs of
hands, each with different tactile receptors, able to grope ... er ... frisk and
check out passengers at an average one-twentieth the time.  The faces,
easily changeable, are constructed to look like film stars, celebrities, virile
sports figures, etc.

The program has been so successful that some passengers have been
spotted going back in line a second and third time claiming they were doing
it for national security.  TRASH has been obliged to install signs requesting
passengers to refrain from loud exclamations of oohs! and ahs! in an effort
to preserve decorum.

Scientists are completely flummoxed.  Based on the passengers' complaints
with two-handed friskers, they had anticipated a barrage of missives from
very angry people when the hands were sextupled.  On being asked about
the completely unexpected result, Dr. Flora Fielerman said she was
embarrassed.  "Before long people will begin to think of us as economists
i.e. always wrong".  A research poll has been commissioned to discover
what happened.  Here is a sample of responses.

Mr. Buster Ball:  For a businessman like me, I like it.  It's quick ... over and
done with in a flash.  Gets me up and going in the morning, and returning in
the evening, it's the right set up to be done quickly, on the flight, and ready
to get home to my wife.

Miss Muriel Bacon, 84, a tourist from Uxbridge, England: I always wanted to
meet Gary Cooper.  Imagine my surprise when he up and done me over.  
Thrilling, just thrilled ... I get shivers thinking about it.  I went through three
times before they stopped me and sent me to my gate.  They kept telling me
he wasn't real ... made no difference.  I know it, you know it.  But my
subconscious brain doesn't.

Now there are reports that senior TRASH officials have taken to taking a
GROPER home with them.  "You can't test them enough.  It's a matter of
national security," is the common refrain.

Jan Napolitonski the head of TRASH has sidelined three GROPERS so she
could test them exhaustively and personally -- one for the office, one for
home and one for her weekend retreat.  "We must be on the job 24/7," she
maintains.  The Burt Reynolds model with removable wig and mustache
keeps her company at the office; the other two are advanced prototypes
with top secret features. "We can never do enough for personal ... er ... I
mean, the nation's well being".