Things We Hate About Air Travel

The first idea was to title this post “Things I Hate About Air Travel,” but that seems too limited. Here are a few of my “hates” about the horrors of modern TSA-dominated air travel. Readers are invited to share their own in comments.

Check-in: Theoretically this has gotten easier in the past few years as we’re given the option of auto-check-in. But that only applies if you aren’t checking any luggage and I find that the machines frequently do not work very well. It’s always fun to come in on a tight schedule, head to the machines to beat the half-hour cut-off and have to find some way to muscle back into line quick when they don’t work.

Checking baggage: This used to be awful but has gotten much worse. Now they charge you extra for the privilege of manhandling and losing your luggage, and extending your stay in the airport by a good half-hour. Best bet is to find some way, practically any way, to avoid this.

Screening: They always find ingenious ways to make this one worse. X-Rays and metal detectors were not enough. Now we have to take off our shoes and laptops, walk through rapiscans, face patdowns, keep all of our liquids in baggies, etc. It never ends.

Airport announcements: I apologize to whoever it is who was walking by me at Sea-Tac Sunday for the swears when the TSA cut into a beautiful piece of music by (I think) the Gothard Sisters to remind us that if we “see something,” we should “say something” or some other routine warning.

Crew-member instructions: Most of these pre-date the modern security state and I have a little, teeny bit of patience for them, because I fly a great deal but many people don’t. But, seriously, we have to be told how to fasten our seatbelts by “fitting the metal tip into the buckle” and see that demonstrated? It’s just insulting to our intelligence and our freedoms.

Happy Birthday Alice Sullivan & Real Clear Religion

Alice Sullivan, for those Jeremy Lott’s Diary readers who don’t know her, is a Nashville based editor who worked on a few of my books when she was at Thomas Nelson and still serves as a well trained ear for my longer writing projects. She’s also a friend who is enjoying — oh let’s call it — her 29th birthday today. (Misery and despair/people dying everywhere/happy birthday to you.)

Alice’s birthday is extra-easy for me to remember because it’s the same day that Real Clear Religion was launched, in 2010. That’s right, RCR is now entering its terrible twos. Hopefully, we can keep the public tantrums to a minimum.

There Goes My Superman Hearing

Your diarist is about to sign off and head down to Seattle for the day to watch a Mariners game with Mum, Dad, the kid brother and several relatives rarely heard from. The only thing that could put a damper on things is what appears to be an inner ear infection.

The right ear is full and nearly deaf, which reduces my hearing to about what a normal person can make out. Super hearing has been both my super power and my curse. When people are talking confidentially one or two rooms away, I often have to warn them that they’d better put more distance between us. Today, that won’t be much of a problem.

Jeremy Lott, R.I.P.

One of the problems with Googling yourself — an occupational necessity in the modern word business — is, occasionally you get news of your death. The latest Jeremy Lott to go caught a fatal bullet in Buffalo, New York “on the 1200 block of Fillmore Avenue” according to

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Akin Not Stirred?

When Todd Akin this week vowed to fight on for a Missouri Senate seat, despite the media fallout from Rapegate, he was making a deliberate gamble. He thinks Claire McCaskill is a very vulnerable opponent and the storm will blow over.

He may be right on the first point. Take a look at the Real Clear Politics polling on the race. Akin had what seemed to be a very clear lead before he started mainlining shoe leather.

In the ad that he cut explaining himself to Missouri voters, Akin apologized to them specifically for his big mouth and implicitly promised not to embarrass them again.

I will make no judgement on their judgment at this point, but here’s my guess as to how Akin goes forward. He stays in the race until after the Republican National Convention and then looks at those poll numbers to see if the storm has passed — indicated by him polling within one or two points of McCaskill, on average.

If not, then Akin withdraws and we have a whole new race on our hands.

Explaining the Millennial Meltdown

Baylor’s Research on Religion podcast this week features a long interview with your diarist. This is the second time I’ve been on host Anthony “Tony” Gill’s program (first time here). There’s too much there to even try to unpack in one blogpost, so I’ll stick to one item: the declining church attendance of younger Americans.

Religion in America has always been highly mobile. Indeed some scholars think that is what has made it so effective. Philip Jenkins several years ago put to me the idea that Americans are so much more religiously observant than Europeans because we’re not very rooted.

We move around a lot and need a means of fostering a quick sense of belonging for ourselves and our immediate families. Whenever we move into new places, churches are the most effective institutions at grafting us into the local community.

You may doubt this explanation — I did when Jenkins first shared it with me — but put that aside for now. What do we know, demographically speaking, about younger Americans — Millennials and perhaps late Gen X-ers — that makes them different from their parents?

Here’s my stab at an answer:

1) They’re poorer. This is almost always the case with younger people but the kids these days may be structurally poorer than their parents. They have a much harder time finding jobs and wage growth is pretty slow.

2) They’re more urban. The white flight of the 1970s has partially reversed itself, with a younger cohort pouring back into the cities.

3) They’re less mobile. Fewer have cars and those that do drive them more sparingly.

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Some Days I Love My Job…

… and this is one of the good days. Take a gander at some of the Real Clear Books headlines I cooked up for today’s update:

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