Sunday, June 8, 2008

Highlights from last week

Airport security is a joke. Old news, but really now. In 2006 a bunch of guys in England had a vague, unformed, and probably unworkable scheme to concoct explosives on board a plane with liquids they smuggled aboard. They all got arrested and shipped off to a secret prison to be tortured, but because they conceived this scheme, you now can't take your bottle of shampoo or baby formula or cup of coffee through security checkpoints in American airports. It's paranoid and overreactive, of course, but you want to know what really makes me walk in tight circles and wave my arms and gibber?

Get this. What do the TSA people do with the shaving cream, baby formula, and PowerAde they confiscate? They throw it in a trashcan! Could there be any more damning evidence that the rules are just for show? Because if anybody actually thought there was a risk of actual liquid explosives getting smuggled onto a plane, they damn sure wouldn't be treating the liquids they confiscate as anything but potential hazmats. But no. Everybody knows there's no danger in what they seize. The policy is nothing but window dressing. It's following rules for the sake of following rules. If it makes you feel safer to shuffle barefoot through airport security carrying your three-ounce bottle of mouthwash in a magic bombproof plastic bag, you're a doofus.

Woods Hole was cold, grey, nasty, and rainy. Of course I didn't take a jacket with me (because it's June! Why would I need a jacket in June?), so I spent most of Wednesday holed up in my hotel room watching the entire fourth-season-so-far of Top Chef. Best season yet. I'm pulling for Stephanie.

Saturday I discovered that a colony of ants has taken up residence in my car. They were scurrying all over my back seat carrying their larvae around. I guess this is what comes of not driving. At least they aren't bees.


An Briosca Mor said...

At the ballpark they will let you bring in a bottle of water (which is good, because inside they sell them for four bucks) but not if it has been opened. Why, I don't know. (Unless maybe they're trying to keep people from bringing in water bottles full of gin - which would be tempting considering the way the team has been playing lately.) Anyway, I got burned by this policy one sunny Saturday when I opened my bottle and took a drink on the walk from the Metro station to the park. When the ticket taker said he'd have to confiscate my opened 7/8th-full bottle of water, I said okay. But before I handed it to him, I chugged all the water down and gave him the empty bottle. Hell, it was a hot day and I was going to drink it all eventually anyway.

So I'm wondering if anyone has ever approached the TSA counter with containers of forbidden substances and just decided to use them up on the spot rather than hand them in. Like for instance a tube of gel that could be used to spike up one's hair before boarding - perhaps into a lethal object, even. Or a tube of shampoo which could be used to wash one's hair, which could then be rinsed out with an offending bottle of water. Or a couple intending to join the mile-high club on the flight could lube up before boarding. The possibilities are endless, actually. Where's the modern day Arlo Guthrie to start a movement and capture it in a song called Alice's In-Flight Meal (Chicken or Fish?)?

Rob said...

For a while you could get through airport checkpoints with your coffee if you let the guards watch you while you took a sip, but that policy changed. I guess they're reasoning that if you're enough of a fanatic to blow yourself up, you won't mind a nice healthy swig of nitro beforehand.

mike said...

Well, if you weren't already on the List, you are now, comrade. (I mean haji.)

What gets me is: I have two government-issued photo IDs -- a fire department ID and a U.S. passport. Of course the man always demands a driver's license. Most of the time, I show my fire ID. Most of the time, it is honored; occasionally the man demands a driver's license and I say I don't have one, but here's a United States passport, is that okay? And it always is (except once at SunTrust Bank, but that's another story and it was before Sept. 11). But of those three forms of ID, only one -- the fire ID -- is evidence of a clean criminal background check. Anyone (except my wife, also another story) can get a passport just by being born here and coughing up $60, and plenty of bad guys have driver's licenses (sometimes an assortment).

hsempl said...

can you tape top chef for me tonight? cause grace just got here and she's totally hooked and we don't have cable.

Rob said...

I would if I could, but I still am happily cable-free myself.