December 18, 2006

Kip Hawley is still an idiot

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at December 18, 2006 12:00 AM

I'm flying to Dallas tomorrow for the Newton's Birthday holiday, and right now I am packing my quart bag of three-ounce bottles of liquids and gels. This, of course, is because of TSA's ridiculous rules about carrying liquids on airplanes. Now would be a good time to recall that the supposed terrorist plot that inspired these rules was basically just made up by the British and Pakistani governments to scare people. The case against the main suspect was recently dropped due to lack of evidence. Here's an article about just how plausible the explosive mechanism is. Here's the Wikipedia page about the "plot".

If this was all bogus, why all the silly rules about three ounce bottles of liquid on planes? Maybe the government just likes to see us line up complacently for arbitrary, inconvenient, and humiliating searches in the name of security. It's not working though—I just end up being really angry by the time I'm through the checkpoint.

Tomorrow I'll post on what happens when the TSA reads your blog and flags you for the "thorough" search.

[Post title is a reference to this.]

Tags: Travel
Comments

The last time I was on a plane (which was after this stuff was instituted), one couldn't bring liquids past the carry-on screen point, but one could once again buy a drink while waiting for a flight and bring that on the flight. (I don't know if this is consistent across all airports.)

Also, aren't many of these particular rules (concerning the liquids) not just TSA but are also being done in other countries?

As for TSA personnel, I have a couple amusing stories that come to mind. A few years ago, when I was flagged for a thorough search at the terminal, the guy doing the search saw my D & D books and because he was a D & D person (which is relatively common military people), he just talked about that while he went through the contents of my backpack. Also, on at least two occasions, TSA people have remarked that I have pretty eyes, because of course that's where they're supposed to be focusing. On numerous occasions, they have been intent on their schoolyard gossip while people were being screened. I understand that is a normal part of work, but these are people whose main purpose involves paying close attention to the people going through security.

And if you really want them to think you're innocent, just bring a copy of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society with you. This is known to work at music festivals.

Posted by: Mason | December 18, 2006 12:49 AM

2 more year... I can only hope when teh reign of terror call the bush adminstartion end we can get Competent and marginally intelgent government office who like facts. That will do things that make sence for ours (then the world at larges) security

Posted by: shellock | December 18, 2006 8:21 AM

To be fair, the guy against whom charges were dropped was the man arrested in Pakistan which prompted the arrests and was not the ringleader or even positively connected to the guys in the UK. The UK cell was definitely a bunch of amateurs, but that doens't mean the idea behind their plot wasn't valid.

Posted by: Chris L-S | December 18, 2006 9:10 AM

An Israeli security expert was once quoted in the paper as saying the US doesn't have an airline security system. What it has is a system for annoying people. It took a friend of mine six months to get her name off the "special treatment" list. She is a sixty year old grandmother named "Mary Ann Smith."

In Europe and Asia they don't require you to have your laptop separately screened. When I went to China last October I didn't carry on any liquids or gels so I don't know what their practice is on that.

Posted by: JSpur | December 18, 2006 9:56 AM

I was a member of the "Super Secret Special Service" club for exactly a year because my wallet was stolen and I didn't have an ID card for one goddamn flight. I learned the recognize the "SSSS" annotation that was printed on the ticket signalling that I required additional attention at the security checkpoint. (This may have changed since)

I agree that there is little or no security benefit to all this crap we go through. I avoid flying unless I absolutely have to -- I hate the indignity of it all. I'm torn between thinking it's either just a "look we're doing something about it, see?" or a highly-elaborate ploy to get us accustomed to an insane amount of arbitrary intrusion.

Of course, my paranoia/conspiracy theories are kept in line by the fact that I earnestly believe they are all (well, not all, mostly) a bunch of fscking idiots.

Posted by: Lemming | December 18, 2006 10:32 AM

My laptop was required to be screened separately in both Europe and Asia, though I can only vouch for a couple different countries (and specific occasions).

Posted by: Mason | December 18, 2006 10:40 AM

Chris, check Gazebo's links above. The idea behind the plot wasn't valid.

I'm flying a lot this month (New York last week, Bay Area this weekend, Seattle after New Year's), and the security theater really pisses me off. Do any of you know if one can take a tiny screwdriver in carry-on luggage? My glasses broke over South Dakota on my way home last week because I couldn't tighten one of the screws... As the War on Liquids shows, one can't rely on common sense anymore to help decide what is and isn't banned. I wish the US had a better rail network to give us alternatives to this bullshit... >:(

Posted by: Justin | December 18, 2006 11:40 AM

I guess laptop policy must vary from country to country, then. Which says that there is essentially no meaningful global coordination on airport security.

Posted by: JSpur | December 18, 2006 1:13 PM

Is there truly meaningful global coordination on anything?

I know there is some lip service, but my answer to the above would be 'no'.

Posted by: Mason | December 18, 2006 2:00 PM

I would argue that there is meaningful global coordination on nuclear non-proliferation. But that doesn't mean it is completely effective. See, e.g., Iran, North Korea, etc. But I think perhaps we digress....

Posted by: JSpur | December 18, 2006 2:10 PM

Justin -- I took a tiny screwdriver for my glasses on a couple planes last month (Charlotte, NC and Baltimore airports) and nobody had a problem with it. I also take crochet hooks now with no problem. Anybody want to learn how to crochet?

Posted by: lidarose | December 18, 2006 3:34 PM

Lidarose- Crochet- isn't that the lawn game where you try to whack wooden balls through little wire gates? I always thought you used mallets, not hooks. :)

(btw I have it on information and belief that AG is on an airplane at the moment and in no position to take action against non-germane, even out-and-out whimsical, comments. Assuming, that is, that the TSA didn't read his post today and decide to treat him to the full screening monty, cavity check and all, such that he missed said flight.)

Posted by: JSpur | December 18, 2006 4:38 PM

Actually, you use flamingos in that game.

Posted by: Mason | December 18, 2006 4:40 PM

Semi-off-topic: It baffles me that both crochet hooks and knitting needles are allowed on planes while nail clippers can get you in trouble. Since crochet doesn't come up as a topic here often, here's a funny crochet link. This person sells crocheted dolls and crochet patterns for toys and curiosities, such as a d20, sea monsters (yes, everyone's favorite green guy is included) and--one of her newer additions--"Death Rides a Pale Octopus."

As you can imagine, I am most certainly getting some of these patterns.

Posted by: Jolene | December 19, 2006 9:44 AM

I'm pleased that a lively discussion ran here in my absence, although it was a bit unexpected to come back and find that the topic had turned to crocheting.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | December 19, 2006 12:34 PM

Mmmm.... Elder Gods....

I think I had a post about this on my own blog a while back, but her's a crocheted Lorenz attractor. (Well, it's technically an approximation, but it's still impressive.)

Posted by: Mason | December 19, 2006 1:25 PM

Mason: Spiffy (and pretty too). The only thing I've crocheted in the last five years or so is a piece of hyperbolic space, which is not nearly as cool as that.

Posted by: Jolene | December 19, 2006 2:36 PM

The people who did this got a lot of publicity (which is why I knew about it off the top of my head), especially among my crowd because they go to some of the same conferences I do.

Posted by: Mason | December 19, 2006 11:18 PM
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