I dread airports, not flying

Tomorrow, I’m flying off to San Jose, California to hang out with a bunch of weirdos on Google’s dime, and naturally I’m anticipating being pissed off at the experience of going through the airports again. I despise TSA, an organization of typical Bushpublican incompetence that will not accomplish their goals of suppressing terrorism, but is supremely efficient at being a nuisance to legitimate travelers. Actually, the one good thing about them is that they’ve replaced fear of flying with annoyance at bureaucratic idiots as the primary emotional vibe in modern American airports.

So naturally I’ve been enjoying Bruce Schneier’s interview with Kip Hawley, head of the TSA. Well, enjoying Scheier’s side of the discussion, anyway: Hawley is an obtuse timeserving fan of petty hoop-jumping. Read about the fluids foolishness, the shoe scam, and the no-fly list nonsense. Hawley can only provide shoddy excuses, and as Schneier says, it’s only cover-your-ass security, nothing useful. If you don’t want to read it all, Timothy Burke has a good summary.

But tomorrow I’m still going to have to take my shoes off and play games with toothpaste and deodorant and shuffle through that familiar line of bored, officious goons who will make you suffer if you don’t pretend they are the beloved guardians of your safety.


  1. silence says

    I’ve you’ve got some extra time, and you haven’t been out to see the redwoods, drive over to Big Basin State Park. It will be well worth your while.

  2. says

    From the linked summary:

    Hawley says that every week a small number of people show up at the airport and are not allowed to fly and that if we only knew who they were, we’d approve of the use of the list because these people must not be allowed to fly.

    Thel let us know who they are. Blow their cover. The best way to stop something covert happening is to make sure it can’t possibly be covert anymore.

    I mean, we’re begging to see that you oafs are actually accomplishing something. Who exactly are these criminal masterminds you’ve saved us from?

  3. Kimpatsu says

    …to hang out with a bunch of weirdo’s on Google’s dime
    How can one guy be a bunch (even on Google’s dime?)
    Or did you mean “…bunch of weirdos” (no apostrophe necessary?
    And you’re a college professor, right…?

    As to airport secutrity, as any fule no, it isn’t designed to make you safe; it’s designed to make you feel safe, which is totally different.
    Except that perception is reality according to the Bush regime…

  4. tony says

    welcome to my world

    every week – at least one trip – sometimes two.


    It used to be sooooo easy. Arrive at the airport with 10 minutes to spare. Run like a crazy person to your gate. Smile winningly at the gate agent. and board.

    Now. Arrive with at least an hour to spare (maybe 2 if your at a ‘busy’ time). Make sure you have the right belt, shoes, socks without holes, … wait in line. wait in line. shuffle forwards like a nice little peon. try to get two bins. shuffle through the x-ray. accept a search (beacause you forgot about the bottle of water in your laptop bag). get dressed again (belt, shoes, jacket). re-pack your bag. try not to get pissed at the guy throwing your bags to the far end of the conveyer, while you’re trying to get your stuff together….

    I love my life!

  5. Sarah says

    I like the local Tech Museum quite a lot, I’m looking forward to Bodyworlds 2, which is coming there in September. Unfortunately, this loudly mango and violet building is in the middle of downtown San Jose, which many people say is quite “ghetto”, despite efforts.

    There are lots of cool things to see, though.

  6. Arnosium Upinarum says

    “I dread airports, not flying”

    Bingo PZ. I used to love flying. Airports are now a dispicable nuisance.

  7. Steve_C says

    What are your guys thoughts on becoming registered travellers?

    If you fly more than 5 times a year it might be worth it.


    It’s only at select terminals and airports. But you skip the line and go right through the checkpoint. No waiting. Just the scan and metal detector procedure. Clear escorts you to security and handles your bag for you.

    Curious of what frequent fliers think of getting presceened to get the service?

  8. True Bob says

    The whole TSA nonsense is Security Theatre. Nothing useful is accomplished by it, at least nothing more than is accomplished by other window dressing.

    I get to go to AZ in late August. The airport in Phoenix (Sky Harbor) has been shown to essentially halt all the security processes once scheduled flights are done. Yeah, that’s secure.

  9. Nan says

    Please, be annoyed at the politicians who foisted the mess that is Twits Standing Around on us and not at the Twits themselves. The poor saps on the low end of the TSA food chain who were so desperate for work they took jobs that involve rifling through your unmentionables make barely $12/hour and end up jumping through almost as many hoops as the travelers do. Until a few months, I had a job that required a lot of air travel — and there isn’t enough money on the planet to make me willing to put up with the crap I witnessed airport workers (TSA screeners, ramp rats, gate agents, you name it) taking from the flying public.

    If you get pulled out of line and subjected to the wanding, don’t take it personally. The Twits are under orders to always look busy, so whoever has the wand has to pull whoever happens to step through the metal detector next after he’s finished with his last victim.

  10. AlanWCan says

    What are your guys thoughts on becoming registered travellers?

    Bingo! So you’re a typical invasive power hungry I don’t need no stinking court order to spy on people’s telephone calls/email blah blah blah and those damn civil liberties people won’t let you have unlimited access to all information about everybody anywhere for any reason at all. What to do? Make travelling such a pain in the ass unless you sign away all rights to privacy of course. Then people are willingly giving up their rights, so there are no civil liberties problems.

  11. Steve_C says

    I never have an issue at the checkpoint. As long as you know what the rules are you don’t have a one way ticket. The problem with the security lines isn’t the screeners. It’s the people in the line who tried to get a bottle of whisky, a giant bottle of moisturizer or a jackknife though the scanner.

  12. tony says

    Steve_C: re ‘pre-screened’

    I’d do it in a snap – if I thought it would save me time or effort…

    * it is available in *very* few airports (as you said).
    * there are multiple and incompatible programs (non-transferrable)
    * there are costs to be borne (not ‘expensable’ at my company, currently, and no IRS guidance yet)

    I travel to many differnt locations. The current plans would be a minor blip in my travel, and benefit me only very slightly and on very few occasions – is that worth the cost and registration hassle? Not yet.

    I am completely in favor of such an idea…..

    Also for international travel/work — I regularly travel and work around the world (visited ten, and worked in seven countries in the past three years). My wife & I have often thought a UN sponsored ‘international work permit and passport’ system would be a fabulous boon to those of us who may need to travel to country ‘x’ at relatively short notice — and work there for a period (days, weeks, months). The absurd cost in time and money to get even a short-term work permit is absurd and byzantine.

    This would also avoid many of the ‘nationality’ issues when visiting different countries.

  13. says

    [N]aturally I’m anticipating being pissed off at the experience of going through the airports again.

    So take the TGV.

    Oops, sorry, yer in the States–no modern transport at all–apologies for suggesting high-speed trains.

    Whether or not you need a car in San Jose depends exactly where you are, the trolley coverage isn’t brilliant but can be adequate (I’ve managed to visit several times without a car). No idea what the bus services are like, it’s been too long since I used buses in San Jose.

    (Actually, even TGV from mid-States to the west coast would be quite a haul, time-wise at least, and flying probably is the “best” alternative. Nonetheless, the point remains, the alternatives in the States are, to the best of my (admittedly old) knowledge, abysmal.)

    Are you going to tweak Google’s tail about the non-indexing of SciBlogs (on the main site) whilst still indexing (on the main site) DI et al.? Or the censorship in China? Or the active incitement to attack Sicko? (Apologies for the lack of references!)

  14. Steve_C says

    Whoa, a bit paranoid?

    It’s a private company. The only thing on the chip on the card is fingerprint markers, an image of your iris scan and your name and your photo. It’s basically 3 forms of unique ID.

    They have strict privacy standards. Tighter than your credit card company.

  15. Steve_C says

    I agree tony. Unless the CLEAR terminals are at your local airport it’s not a benefit.

    I think there’s over 50,000 people who use the clear service. The customer satisfaction is high too.

  16. stogoe says

    I hear the addition of Petty Hoop-Jumping (both Men’s and Women’s) as an exhibition sport was a big cog in Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid.

    The exhibition would, of course, be held at O’Hare.

  17. stogoe says

    Don’t rub it in, blf. Although, if we Americans did have high speed rail, they’d probably be as obnoxious about rail security as they are about airport security.

  18. Ken Mareld says

    Enjoy San Jose. August can be HOT, but not muggy, sweaty hot like Minnesota. If you can get to the coast, the real coast, not just the bay, ‘latenightandmorniglowclouds’ is a very nice respite from valley heat. Check out the Winchester Mystery House, tons and tons of woo with no evangelical crap. Its a load of fun.


  19. Salt says

    PZ, just wear your A shirt and proudly proclaim your atheism. I can’t recall any time an atheist went on Jihad. Even if that doesn’t work just stirring the TSA pot should be fun enough.

  20. ben says

    My stepfather Michael J. Smith (not his real name of course) flew all the time until one day he was inexplicably told he was on the no-fly list and barred from getting on a flight. On a tip from a friend he bought his next ticket using the name Michael Smith (no middle initial) and has since flown many times with no problems.

  21. Peter Backus says

    I recommend the Tied House (microbrewery in San Jose and Mountain View) for post-flight therapy.

  22. says

    Reminds me of South Park when Mr Garrison invents a new transportation device with certain, um, disadvantages. “Still better than flying!”.

    At least you guys don’t get subjected to the new fingerprinting / mug shot photo regime for foreigners. I really wish Blair had managed to get an exemption (or some other benefit, haven’t seen one yet) for us Brits in return for our military alliance.

    Counting the days until I’m eligible for a Canadian passport…

  23. Heather says

    For how long will you be in town? I’ve got some free passes to The Tech that are yours if you want ’em. Can also point you to coffee that’s not Starbucks (a real problem here) and sundry other local delights.

    Mineta International Airport is one of the places that is trying to sell the pre-screening, so you could potentially enjoy talking to the nice, lonely people at the kiosk in the main lobby. And, if you get to downtown Mountain View, be sure to visit the Scientologists!

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree with Ken. The weather here right now is hot by mid afternoon, but it gets chilly and damp overnight. Bring layers. If you’re headed up Mountain View way to Google, it’s not going to be as hot even in the late afternoon. Shoreline Park (right near Google) is pretty decent if you want to get out but have limited time to actually go anywhere. And they have a cool kite park where I once saw a giant purple octopus. Can’t beat that.

  24. Nostradumbass says

    Meh, I kind of like the annoyance and hoop jumping that TSA provides to air travelers. If it cuts a bit of unnecessary travel via such an inefficient method, it serves its purpose.

  25. Vitis01 says

    Trials Pub is Downtown (not so ghetto IMO) and has a real cask conditioned ale called Fat Lip that is way yummy. Best of all though, there isn’t a single f*&%$n’ TV in the whole place. People actually talk to one another there. It’s weird. If you have time for a drink let me know. Maybe we could get Janet Stemwedel to come out as well.

  26. tsg says

    Last time I was faced with a choice of driving vs flying:

    Drive to airport: 45 min.
    Time waiting before flight: 2hrs.
    Flight time: 2 hrs.
    Est. time waiting for baggage: 30 min
    Est. time waiting to rent car: 30 min.
    Drive from airport to destination: 1 hr.
    Total time: 6 hrs 45 min.
    Cost: $600

    Drive time: 6hrs
    Cost: ~$100

    Sounds like a no brainer to me.

  27. Ken Mareld says

    Response to Heather,
    Sorry, I hadn’t checked the weather before posting. According to NOAA it looks really nice. Just based on previous August experiences in San Jose. Of course for me 62 degrees F. is T-shirt weather.


  28. tony says

    tsg: perfectly fine if you want to drive for six hours each way…

    I’d prefer to be chauffeured… at a cost significantly in excess of $100 (and of $600)… but during which I would be able to actually work.

    However – I don;t think I’d like to see the roads full of single occupancy road warriors travelling who-knows-where and generally tired after a weekend of ‘enjoying their freedom from clients’ or tired after a week of ‘entertaining their clients’

    I’ll take my chances with the summer delays – thanks. At least I can grab a cat-nap.

  29. Heather says

    Hey Ken-
    I transplanted from Chicago a year ago and have yet to figure out how the weather here can ever really be described as “hot” or “cold.” :) We haven’t even managed a proper “sultry” this summer! And I love it. Don’t forget your flip-flops, PZ.

  30. Stacy says

    Heather, I have a picture of that giant purple octopus kite somewhere, can’t seem to find it at the moment. When I saw it, I immediately thought of PZ. :)

  31. frau im mond says

    It’s not just airports. Yankee Stadium now requires all persons entering to turn on their cell phones, presumably to prove they are not bomb triggers–even though a FUNCTIONAL phone is more likely to be used this way.

    So don’t forget to keep your devices charged, unless you want to risk being charged with terrorism.

  32. spondee says

    Crap. Not only have I crossed from the dark side of Google into the light of Yahoo, but I’m trapped in the sunny hell of LA when you finally visit my town. I am denied my PZ stalking chance! Woe!

  33. bc says

    I hate the entire security mess because I feel that my government considers me to be under suspicion. It turns our entire legal system upside down – we have to prove to their satisfaction that we are innocent. I have always held that the safest place to be in the world was the 1950s and 1960s Soviet Union – but it was also a mind and soul (can we say soul on this site?) numbing world as well. I also think the TSA in its own way is on the road to becoming a Gestapo or KGB or Stasi – a secret police force we will be told is necessary to keep us safe. I would rather be free and take my chances.

  34. Fernando Magyar says


    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace…

    Nah, never mind you’d probably get shot for expressing those views.

  35. tony says

    Fernando: My favorite song – for many reasons (not least it was the first ‘cool’ song I could play on the piano all the way through)

    Re inappropriate viewpoints: I really had to learn to *hold my tongue* because I am very much a ‘big E’ per Myers Briggs and mostly engage in continuous stream of consciousness verbosity – including things considered inappropriate or rude by people around me… somewhat ‘career limiting’ for a consultant!!!

  36. abelian jeff says

    I’m in San Jose too, for a math conference. Are you going to be anywhere near the Fairmont Hotel?

  37. says

    Since I don’t know my way around San Jose, I don’t have a clue. I’ll be at the Wild Palms Hotel in Sunnyvale, if that helps.

  38. Heather says

    Hmmm…I have no idea what’s to do over in that direction except for dropping my kiddo off at preschool. I do know that the public transit right there isn’t the best, so if you’re without a car, Jeff, lemmie know and we can work on carpool options.

  39. kurage says

    Amen to the aviation frustration. Airport security can’t even reliably detect guns, and I’m supposed to believe that they’re saving us all from the terrorists by confiscating my toothpaste?

  40. Obvious Pseudonym says

    Agreed 100%. All that security theatre doesn’t make me feel safe AT ALL. It makes me feel like a prisoner in jail, and I don’t trust the jailers the tiniest little bit.

    I flew in the U.K. while they were dealing with the IRA. BA was very careful, but not nearly as intrusively officious.

    I have not flown El Al, but I’ve talked to folks who have, and they are apparently also less obnoxious.

    That’s because their goal is to prevent hijackings and bombings, not produce a well-cowed population who will listen respectfully to Minitru.

  41. Bad Albert says

    The “no liquids” policy has to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen a government body come up with. What are they going to do when someone tells them there is such a thing as solid explosives?

  42. abelian jeff says

    Google Maps says you’re about 21 minutes from where I’m staying (SJSU), but thats by car, and I’m walking everywhere since everywhere I need to go is within 2 miles (thanks for the offer, Heather!). Part of the math conference is focusing on math biology, so I thought perhaps you were going to be in the same building as I was, and if that were the case and I didn’t meet you, I would be quite upset. (I’m still a LITTLE upset..) Anyways, enjoy your trip!

  43. Loren Petrich says

    As to trains, the US has Amtrak, but it’s rather pathetic.

    The only part that approaches the standards of the high-speed trains of Europe and Japan is the Northeast Corridor, and even that is not quite up to European and Japanese standards.

    Between New York City and Washington, DC is 206 mi / 331 km, and the Acela Express trains have a scheduled time of typically 2h 45m, which gives an average speed of 75 mph / 120 kph.

    By comparison, between Paris and Lyon, France is 244 mi / 393 km, and the TGV’s have a scheduled time of typically 2h, which gives an average speed of 122 mph / 197 km/h.

    Outside the Northeast Corridor, the best spot is California, but much of the US has very little Amtrak service.

    For PZ’s trip, he can take the Empire Builder from St. Paul to Portland, and then the Coast Starlight from Portland to San Jose. Both trains run only once a day, and Amtrak’s long-distance trains are not exactly very punctual.

    Empire Builder:
    SP 10:50 pm – PL 10:25 am 2 days later
    PL 4:45 pm – SP 7:30 am 2 days later

    Coast Starlight:
    PL 2:25 pm – SJ 9:55 am 1 day later
    SJ 8:39 pm – PL 3:40 pm 1 day later

    Alternatively, our host could try backtracking to Chicago, and taking a train from there to Emeryville (near Oakland and Berkeley):

    Empire Builder:
    SP 7:50 am – CH 3:55 pm
    CH 2:15 pm – SP 10:31 pm

    California Zephyr:
    CH 2:00 pm – EM 7:50 pm 2 days later
    EM 7:10 am – CH 4:25 pm 2 days later

    However, he’d have to stay overnight in Chicago both ways.

  44. G. Tingey says

    It’s not QUITE as bad in the UK, and less bad again in Germany, but we have this problem too…..

    It’s not that the checkers etc are paranoid – we want them paranoid to stop the terrorists.
    They are paranoid, and STUPID with it.

    I mean, if you are a pink anglo, and beer-drinker, you aren’t going to blow anyone up, unless someone lights a match downwind of you after too many beers (!)

    So why the security checks?
    Why must EVERYONE be checked?

    A little intelligence is required, and there only too obviously isn’t any in use at present.

  45. APic says

    Aha, but that’s just the kind of disguise those crafty brown people would don just so they could get past security unchecked. Then you find out the beer belly is really packed full of toothpaste and BLAM, the angels drop the plane you’re in because you didn’t believe in Security.

  46. spondee says

    Sunnyvale!! My hometown! Schweet! No wait… still in L.A.

    PZ, you should check out Fibbar Magee’s in downtown Sunnyvale on Murphy Street. Awesome selection of beers and they have a killer steak salad.

  47. Jay says

    I fly anywhere from 75K to 160K miles a year and have been doing so for close to a decade. I can attest to the absolute incompetency of the TSA. Last winter I was traveling to Europe with a small scale model of a prototype optical/mechanical device I’d developed. It was disassembled into various pieces and packed in a hard case which I carried on. I fully expected to be pulled aside at the security checkpoint. The device had all sorts of strange angles and shapes, with some parts made of heavy machined stainless steel, along with some various boxes with ICs and wiring. One part of it looked more like some sort of exotic handgun than anything else. So, I had paperwork and explanations all ready to go and convenient when I put it through the x-ray machine. They didn’t bat an eye. No questions whatsoever.

    To catch my connecting flight in Germany, I had to leave the secure area and re-enter, and the German security people immediately held the case up, asked, in several languages, whose it was, and asked me to step aside into an inspection room and explain what it was because “We have never seen anything that looks like this”. Sure, that was a little bit of a pain in the ass, but it’s what I expected from airport security. The damn well should wonder what was in that box because it most definitely looked very unusual and potentially dangerous. The German security folks were nice, polite, and quick about it, but they definitely were on the ball and were taking their job seriously. The TSA folks didn’t give a shit and were too busy staring blankly into space to even notice the thing going through their x-ray machine.

    I’ve been through airport security all over the world, including the Middle East, and I can say that hands down the TSA is the most bloated and ineffective security I have ever witnessed.

  48. thwaite says

    A bit late here, but I’ll echo #1’s vote for Big Basin as being worth a side trip: spectacular redwoods, and the drive there could include a short detour west (“north”) on Skyline Blvd atop the backbone of the SF peninsula. Skyline shows off a landscape best compared to a classical Chinese scroll landscape painting.

    A slightly quicker smaller version of redwoods can be found instead by following Hwy 17 (a high-speed roller coaster mountain drive) south to Santa Cruz and the coast; just before the coast is the Felton turnoff to Cowell State Park, whose redwood groves are adequate. But if you get all the way out to Santa Cruz, the UCSC campus is 2,000 acres – half redwoods, half open meadow.

  49. says

    The Forest of Nisene Marks http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=666 (I just had to post that URL: 666, yeah!) near Aptos-Capitola, a bit south of Santa Cruz, is another excellent place for redwoods. There is, supposedly, even some old-growth (i.e., never logged) groves in some of the more inaccessible canyons. And when I say inaccessible, I mean inaccessible–the story when I lived in the area (and when mountain bicycling on the fire roads, which was legal) was that some of those inaccessible canyons have, perhaps, never been entered by The White Man (gads, I hate that phrase!).

  50. Redf says

    Little baby meyers has to wait in a line. I am so sorry you have to go through that horrible ordeal. What do you suggest TSA do. If there was a lack of security measures then you would be complaining that there is not enough security and this is why 9/11 happened…all that stuff. So go cry yourself to sleep about how terrible it is to unlace your shoes and put them all the way up into they tray. If 9/11 never happened you would not have to go through all that, so blame Osama.

  51. Carlie says

    The thing is, Redf, people are reasonable. They are willing to go through the whole mess if they have any confidence that it does any good. Thing is, they don’t, because the regulations are ridiculous even on the surface. You have to take your shoes off, but a packet of plastic toxins taped to your inner thigh would never be noticed. You can’t bring on a bottle of water, but you can bring on a Bic lighter. You can’t bring in a backpack to Yankees stadium, but you can bring in a purse. The regulations are so glaringly slipshod, erratic, and irrational that it’s obvious that they provide only a veneer of security over a boatload of actual insecurity. I’d suggest that the TSA look at countries that have been dealing with terrorist threats for decades and get a clue on how to do it instead of bungling their way through stupidly.

  52. Redf says

    Well i don’t know about all that, but since 9/11 there has not been one terrorist attack on us. What do you expect, you are never going to have it your way. Its a small price to pay. Don’t get all statistics on me about how often terror attacks happen.

  53. Carlie says

    So what you’re saying is “Don’t tell me whether all these measures really work or not, because it makes me feel better to think they do so I don’t care what is actually true.”

    Just like religion.

  54. Redf says

    The point is the measures do seem to work becuase there has not been a terror attack on the U.S. since 9/11. I have not fake convinced myself of anything, yeah it’s annoying to go through it all. But so what, there’s a hell of a lot of things that are annoying in life, that take more time than they need to, And this is just one more of them. And where does religion come into all of this, remeber its a license plate. I believe in God. Yeah there i said it. Thats where religion can come into this.

  55. Carlie says

    There also hasn’t been a category 5 hurricane hit the coast since Katrina. Does that mean that the FEMA disaster preparedness plan works? There weren’t any terrorist attacks on the US on 9/10 either, does that mean that whatever measures were taken on that day worked? Correlation is not causation. It’s not just that there are a lot of annoying things in life, it’s that these are annoyances that are there for no good reason.

    Where religion comes into it is that a mind that is used to believing in things that have no evidence in reality is easily swayed to do so in other areas as well, and that gullibility is exploited in matters like this. If you’ve been carefully trained to believe authority in the absence of any available evidence, then authority figures can get you to back them on anything. And the license plate was another post entirely, but it fits the same thing – it’s all about the “loyalty”, placing all of your trust in the authority not only in the absence of evidence that it’s a good thing to do so, but by actively suppressing any evidence to the contrary.

    I believe in God. Yeah there i said it.
    So, what, you want a cookie?

  56. Redf says

    Crap that was another post, now i feel like an asshole. You are quite the intelluctual. I am not even kidding the way you put your point out there. Everything changed after 9/11 though. As well as hurrican katrina. Most annoying things in life are annoying becuase the annoying part is how unneccesary it is to be there in the first place. Something you could do with out, right? But this is about TSA security, to a certain extent i do feel it neccesary though.

  57. Graculus says

    but since 9/11 there has not been one terrorist attack on us.

    There have been far more successful terrorist attacks against the US in the years since 9/11 than there were before.

  58. Redf says

    Enlighten me as to where and when. Or are you talking about in Iraq cuase if you are that is true but its different. I mean an attack on American soil.

  59. Carlie says

    Redf, I agree with you that security is necessary. I agree that we were far too lax about it before, living in our little bubble of “nothing bad can happen to us because we’re AMERICA”. And I also agree that annoying things will happen. My problem with the annoyances we have with terrorist-inspired security procedures now is that they seem to be slipshod, not well thought out, and not particularly effective. Look at how everything was enacted – most of it is reactive, not prescriptive. Somebody put a bomb in his shoe, so then they decided we all have to take our shoes off. Someone else had some flammable liquid, so ix-nay on the ampoo-shay. Oh, but now lighters are fine, because the tobacco lobby got upset that people couldn’t smoke 30 seconds after disembarking. No nail clippers allowed, but nice big metal knitting needles are ok. I would rather have seen some TSA officials go conference with their counterparts in Ireland, Israel, etc. where they figured out good security measures decades ago and put a solid set of procedures into effect altogether instead of them trying to piecemeal it together as they go.

  60. says

    I’m late commenting on this (just got back from a week long vacation), but I couldn’t pass this up:

    Well i don’t know about all that, but since 9/11 there has not been one terrorist attack on us.

    from snpp:

    Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
    Lisa: That’s spacious reasoning, Dad.
    Homer: Thank you, dear.
    Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
    Homer: Oh, how does it work?
    Lisa: It doesn’t work.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
    Homer: Uh-huh.
    Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?
    [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
    Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
    [Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]

  61. Redf says

    Later in the episode there is a bear patrol. That’s differnt becuase terrorists can attack us, i mean the terror attack where they tried to make liquid bomb on a flight over here from britain was thwarted by increased British security due to 9/11.

  62. says


    Is this the liquid plot you’re referring to? If so, it wasn’t airport security at all that caught the attack – it was an undercover British agent.

    The main problem I think most people have with the TSA (I know it’s one of mine), is that their procedures are so pointless. I might not mind so much being treated like a suspect if I knew that their searches were actually preventing people from taking on the types of weapons they were trying to prevent. Instead, I can’t say how many times I’ve “smuggled” aboard a pocket knife, only because I forgot I had it on me until I was in line, and didn’t want to have to lose it. If I can smuggle a knife while in line in front of the TSA, think what an actual terrorist could do with a plan.

    Note: I’m not advocating even more invasive searches from the TSA. In the short term, I think undercover operations are probably the best line of defense, while the TSA should look for a better way to implement it’s airport security that actually works. In the long term – well, remove the incentive for so many people to become terrorists, even if that’s a pipe dream.