Letters for November 22, 2001

Flying with knives
On a recent trip from Las Vegas to Reno, my first by air since Sept. 11, I inadvertently tested the effectiveness of the security measures at the two airports. While Reno-Tahoe International Airport seemed to have tighter security than McCarran in Las Vegas, I am convinced that a determined team of terrorists would have no trouble penetrating either airport.

At McCarran, I was randomly selected to be searched a second time at the gate before boarding, and I still got on board with a credit card knife.

For years, I carried that knife, largely forgotten, in a metal case with my credit cards and business cards. To avoid the nuisance of having to empty my pockets when going through the metal detector, I wear a travel vest with some 13 pockets for my cell phones, spare batteries, keys, coins, money clip, metal credit card case and anything else that might set off the detector. At McCarran, it simply went through the X-ray machine at the primary checkpoint unchallenged. Even when I was searched again at the gate, the young man with the wand went through all of my baggage and vest and either did not find it or saw no problem with it.

The story at Reno-Tahoe was a bit different. They had recently installed new X-ray machines, and the screeners were apparently being trained on the equipment. Hence, an experienced pro was taking his time to carefully point out items of note on the display screen. They decided to hand search my 13-pocket vest. An older woman went through 13 pockets, removing everything, eyeballing every item as she went. She even opened the credit card case, held the credit card knife in her hand, looked at it, and then gave it back to me. I put it into my pants pocket.

They decided to run the vest through the X-ray machine again. The screeners were becoming increasingly agitated, and the pro decided to go through my vest, removing and examining every item, just as the woman had done before. He even removed the clip from my wad of cash and leafed through the bills. Finally, in frustration, he decided to do a wand search, even though I had already cleared the metal detector. He finally found the knife. He seemed rather dismayed when I told him that I had brought it with me on the flight from McCarran.

During this process, had I been part of a terrorist team, I could easily have slipped the knife to an accomplice who had already cleared the checkpoint. And what if that pro hadn’t been there?

I have always looked at air travel as akin to playing Russian Roulette with a revolver that has a very large number of empty chambers. That kind of risk I can handle. I cannot handle the added aggravation. Hence, in the future, I intend to limit my airline travel as much as possible.

James Dan
via e-mail

Get athletes off the pedestal
Re “UNR’s jock perks unfair” (RN&R Letters, Nov. 15):

The special treatment that the University of Nevada, Reno, athletes receive, especially the football players, is ridiculous. College is supposed to welcome those who attend to the real world. In the real world, there are demanding schedules, conflicting schedules and work that still needs to get done. [Athletes] were hired to play football and an education is their paycheck. If sports are getting in the way of their education, then they need to take their priorities into consideration. Everyone who attends UNR should be receiving the same treatment regardless of talent or ability to catch or throw a ball.

The message that these football player receive is that they are on a pedestal. They learn that everything will be handed to them; they don’t have to struggle to make life work. They need to be brought back down with the rest of us who struggle to make college work in our hectic lives. Education should be regarded as a higher achievement than any sport.

Debbie Baldauskas
UNR student

Clarification
Re “Moving Targets” (RN&R News, Nov. 15):

Local homeless service providers were awarded no grants from the Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care program. Since no grants were awarded, none were revoked. The nationally competitive grants are awarded to organizations that score high in such planning areas as forging business partnerships and finding other sources of funding for projects like a homeless services facility in Reno.