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TSA Funny Business: Radiation-Blocking Undies

I had my first backscatter scanner experience Friday at the airport in San Jose. My only real complaint is that it took too long. At first I was excited when I saw a couple of people ahead of me go in wearing jackets. I thought, "At least I can keep my jacket on." They made me take my jacket off. "But those women went through with their jackets."

A TSA officer demonstrates what the images form the Advanced Imaging Technology unit look like.
Getty Images
A TSA officer demonstrates what the images form the Advanced Imaging Technology unit look like.

"That shouldn't have happened," the agent told me.

I stepped into the scanner, turned sideways and coughed (kidding).

Actually I stood there and raised my hands as ordered for the brief scan, then stepped out and waited for the off-site analysis to be completed. I was then asked to step to another place by a female TSA agent. She asked me if I had anything in my right pocket. "No." "What about in the back?" she asked. "Oh yeah, my driver's license," which I had neglected to put back into my wallet. I pulled out my license to show her, but she followed up with a pat-down of my upper right thigh. It was all very professional. She did not touch my junk.

That was it. It was like taking a short mammogram with my clothes on, minus the vise-like pain.

This Wednesday, critics of the new TSA procedures are encouraging people to "opt out" of the scanners and insist on pat-downs. Their hope is to bog down the system on the busiest travel day of the year, and make everyone miserable. Be careful what you wish for. Woe to the activist who stands in the way of a harried mother running late who needs to get her three kids, their carry ons, and a stroller through security pronto or she's going to miss her flight to Grandma's. You've been warned.

There are other ways to protest.

ANTI-RADIATION UNDERWEAR

TSA Underwear
Source: Rocky Flats Gear
TSA Underwear

Remember last July when I first introduced you to the Flying Pasties? Now, a Denver clothing maker called Rocky Flats Gear is selling radiation blocking underwear.

"For the first time, radiological shields are attractive, durable, affordable, fun, and comfortable to wear."

Inventor Jeff Buske tells the Associated Press his clothing "uses a powdered metal," which does not set off metal detectors. OK...

The clothes are priced from $9.11 for bra shields, to almost $38 for a special sports bra. Men's briefs cleverly shield the family jewels with, appropriately, a fig leaf.

FOURTH AMENDMENT LUGGAGE TAGS

Want to force the TSA to justify their searches as reasonable? Whip out a copy of the Bill of Rights and start a hearty debate at O'Hare this Wednesday as three million people wait in line behind you!

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"The Bill of Rights—Security Edition Card" prints out the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution on a metallic card (so it'll show up nicely in the scanner).

"The next time you travel, it's possible that the person confiscating your mouthwash may not be familiar with the Bill of Rights." There are also luggage tags which just display the Fourth Amendment against illegal search and seizure. However, the website says it's currently sold out and won't be shipping again until Nov. 30th, plenty of time to buy and prepare for your Christmas travel plans.

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, AT LEAST LOOK GOOD

Maybe all this fuss about being seen naked in a scanner is just the impetus you finally need to get to the gym. Health Club operator Town Sports International will be launching an ad campaign next month which asks, "Is an airport pat-down the most action you're getting? Join today and be proud of your next body scan."

Just imagine—the TSA scans may not only enhance security, they could help tackle of obesity crisis! Throw in a couple of airport radiologists and let's handle Obamacare at the same time for less than your co-pay!

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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