Gaming The System

How to Blow Through Airport Security for Only $100

This weekend the Times travel section wrote about frequent flier security programs, including TSA PreCheck—or, as the government likes to call it, TSA Pre✓™. Mostly it was just speculation from the writer: "I’m anticipating an expedited stroll through a special security checkpoint." Oh honey! Well, let me tell you about that expedited stroll, as a bona fide government-approved flying person who has now strolled security more expeditiously than can be believed.


I Sold My Soul to the Department of Homeland Security

Not long ago, I got a letter from my airline of choice, explaining that they'd partnered with the fine people in the U.S. government to help prevent terrorism faster. If you've spotted people at airports being whisked into a special line, where they don't have to take off their shoes, don't have to take out their laptops or even remove their belts, you've already spotted this program in action. The rollout of TSA PreCheck—branded as TSA Pre✓™—started just back in October, with seven airports, including Los Angeles and Miami, and just for American and Delta passengers. Then the TSA announced they'd be including JFK airport—which just happened last week—and then [...]


You Got Gamified! How Our Government Runs Like Foursquare

For all the political heaving to-and-fro that characterized our recent efforts to raise the debt ceiling, what President Obama signed on Wednesday wasn't really a piece of budgetary policy. Aside from raising the debt ceiling, cutting loans to grad students and capping the budgets of certain programs (like disaster relief), it didn't do anything to affect the debt. What the Budget Control Act of 2011 represents, rather, is the rulebook for an entirely new game. A special joint Congressional committee will meet in November and attempt to agree on $1.5 trillion in debt reduction. (The Congressional Budget Office will serve as the refs.) If they fail to come to an [...]