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Passport follies

(This is another one I wrote before the trip and scheduled for posting. Didn’t think I’d have ‘Net access today, but since I’m still sitting around in airports, I do. For the moment. Oh, the adventures …)


If all has gone well, I’ve already winged my way over an ocean. If all hasn’t gone well, I may be handcuffed in some windowless airport nook pleading, “But really, I didn’t know that tube of sun-block was four ounces. I swear I thought it said three!”

Or worse, trying to prove, “No, really, I’m not that Claire Wolfe! Honest!”

But who knows? I’m actually composing this post five days ago and bringing it to you now through the magic of delayed sheduling.

So although my trip will have begun by the time you read this, all I can talk about right now is pre-trip discoveries. For starters, passports.

I want to show you something. This is the inside cover design of my passport, gotten four years ago before the fedgov started RFID chipping them:

Now look at the passport design of my traveling companion, Lorri, an RFID-chipped model gotten just two months ago:

Wow, that’s some raptor, eh? My subtle, symbolic eagle has turned into the real thing — and all beak, to boot. You wouldn’t want to mess with that predator!

Which is, of course, the point. And though I haven’t seen the rest of Lorri’s little blue book, I gather there’s more like that inside.

I rather like what this astute woman has to say about the new peck-your-eyes-out bird:

When I travel, I try to be the Complex American — a citizen of the fascinating, nuanced, multicultural, messy and basically decent place I know this country to be. But I feel like this passport blows my cover. It’s like suddenly, against my will, I’m wearing ugly khaki shorts and talking way too loud.

Maybe you already knew about that design change. I didn’t, though it’s a couple of years old now.

Did you also know that certain members of the government class carry passports of a different color than ours to distinguish those bearers from hoi palloi like us? Or that certain members of the government class get free passports? (Info courtesy of Wikipedia.

Passports, while not exactly an invention of the devil, have been used by governments through modern history to control the movements of citizens, as well as non-citizens. (More Wikipedia — although unfortunately this is a very incomplete history and doesn’t even begin to tell how modern control states, from 18th-century France onward, have used passports against their own people.)

But I’m thinking this time it’s likely that I showed my passport and got right on my way. If so, I’ll be posting more soon as my travels progress. Might be a few days between blog entries sometimes, but I’ll be with you.

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