Win some, lose some

By Courtney Howard
Posted by Courtney E. Howard

In life, you win some and you lose some. Sitting in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, slot machines silent all about me, I am reminded of this fact. It rings true in life in general, in sales, in the court system, when it comes to gambling, and it even extends to one's occupation. It is a powerful phrase, and the subject of many a song. It helps the general populace better accept events that could be considered mistakes, losses, or failures. I have trouble accepting "losing some," however, when it comes to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States Department of Homeland Security .

I was arriving at McCarran when I first heard the news. "Corporal Justin Reed, 22, is under arrest in Boston after authorities found the bomb-making materials, a handgun and ammunition in luggage that passed a security inspection at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas," Fox 5 News in Las Vegas reported. "The Transportation Security Administration said Monday that materials found in a U.S. Marine's luggage, including a hand grenade fuse and three model rocket engines 'did not pose an imminent threat to aviation.'"

Heh?! Perhaps I did not hear that right.

I will check to see what those reporters are saying : "During a layover at Logan International Airport Sunday morning, federal baggage screeners going through his military-style backpack found a semiautomatic handgun, a fully loaded gun magazine, a grenade fuse and detonator, and model rocket engines containing explosive mixtures. The bag had been checked without incident at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas."

No incident. Not an imminent threat. Not buying it.

Here is the deal: I love the TSA, and what it stands for (as described at ): We are your neighbors, friends and relatives. We are 50,000 security officers, inspectors, directors, air marshals and managers who protect the nation's transportation systems so you and your family can travel safely. We look for bombs at checkpoints in airports, we inspect rail cars, we patrol subways with our law enforcement partners, and we work to make all modes of transportation safe." The site further carries the headline, "Your Safety Is Our Priority."

I am not sure I could bring myself to fly were it not for TSA officials checking for riff-raff. I trust in them. Now, though, I would say that trust is dashed. Mistakes happen. They are only human. You win some... None of these turns of phrase are helping put me, and millions of others, at ease.

We do our part -- lots of us with a smile and a thank you. We show up two hours early. We limit our liquids. We remove our shoes, jackets, and all things metal. We pull out our computers and baggie of liquids. We even, at one time, surrendered our expensive mascara and lipstick because we did not realize that they were considered "creams." We make awkward jokes when we get patted down, follow direction when being scanned with a wand, and blush when a stranger rifles through our skivvies.

A majority of us are very grateful someone is looking out for us and doing their part to protect us from harm. TSA, please consider that this event, that baggage, and even a U.S. Marine could have posed a very real and imminent threat to public safety. Thank you to all those Transportation Security Officers who take their job seriously, stay alert and diligent on the job, are dedicated to public safety, and practice their craft with patience, politeness, courtesy, and understanding.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6

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