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Friday, August 11, 2006

Banning Shampoo? But the Taliban don’t bathe! 

Apparently a group of “terrorists” with graduate degrees in chemical engineering, and minors in guerrilla warfare, managed to come up with the idea of sneaking deadly explosives in shampoo, and setting them alight with the flashes from their digital cameras.

Brilliant. Bravo! These buggers should be given the Nobel Prize in science, and throw in the Fields medal while you’re at it. Who knew that Pert Plus and a Sony digital could cause mass terror?

The real problem with this scenario is the official state reaction. Security agencies have now banned all liquid (flammable liquid had already been banned) and digital equipment (detonators had already been banned too) from being on board an airplane. Such blanket bans do little to increase security, and do a great deal to create panic and stupidity.

How exactly did the British government uncover this plot? Who were the key actors involved? How did they learn about it? Where did these guys get together to plot this? And what was the possibility of the plot actually coming to life? I want answers MI-6! Answers, I say. Because until then, I say that you’re full of shit! I reckon that this cloak of secrecy, that is so often implied in the war on terror, does nothing more than shade an empty vacancy of misinformation and non-happenings.

If Britain actually managed to thwart this supposed attack, then well done! Good work! If you did your job then it would be okay for me to take a bottle of water on board without question. It would be okay for me to carry nothing but carry-on and anticipate brushing my teeth when I arrive. If you did your job, then I would be able to maintain my personal hygiene without any problem. So why are governments making my life miserable now?

Well, it starts with the prison playground control mentality. In a complete authoritarian state, the idea is to monitor the behaviour of the citizens / inmates, and when one comes up with a crafty way to defy the system, the response is to make sure that no one else has the means to employ the same idea. If a bed sheet is the means to jump over the prison wall, then best enact a ban on bed sheets.

This is the justification, but the reasons are bit more business minded, I reckon. Now with people coming off planes sans toothpaste, pit stick, and drinks, they will have to buy these items at the airport. Business booms. With a ban on electronics, people will have to buy the $5 headset on board. Business booms. With laptops being checked below the plane, hard drives get busted and monitors broken. From the point of view of the Dell parts and service department, business booms. More people have to check more luggage and go over their already measly luggage allowances. Business booms. Petty as it is, but in the end, someone makes some money for a while. And all the while, you create a global population of upper-class twits that somehow end up blaming “those goddamn Arabs” for making life inconvenient.
Too bad that no-one figured out that instead of taking your ready-to-assemble shampoo camera bomb on board, that you could easily pre assemble it and check it in anyways. With the prison playground mentality, no matter what idea you quell, ten others emerge.

And yet the perfume and duty-free bottle, items that could cause a great deal of damage (in fact a bottle of mount gay, if used properly could cut a man, blind him, and set him a blaze, and from the point of view of the hypo-allergenic, perfume is deadly business), continue to be accepted items on board.

The other dangerous item that has yet to be banned are books, because in some of them are ideas and arguments that show how ridiculous these security policies are, and if put in the right hands these books could spread ideas like wildfire.

Brilliant - you've just very succintly summarised what I've been thinking; these changes will inconvenience the vast majority whilst having zero effect on the minority's ability to cause trouble.
Like ticket inspectors on mainline trains in the uk - fucking useless at stopping asbo youths from bilking the fare but quite good at holding up and fining honest citizens.
There's also the issue of dehydration ... we've all been encouraged to take bottled water on med-long haul flights, and certainly can't depend on the tiny little plastic cup-fuls dished out by the airline staff once every 2 hours.

An inventive airline could start charging a pretty penny for a bottle of water (tap water even) on a long-haul flight?
You're wrong about the duty free liquor though (and smokes, presumably) ... they're banned too. Apparently the Duty Free stores at Auckland (a big business) are empty. That industry could quickly find itself in big trouble (with consequent loss of rental income for airports).
Ha! I bet you that they read this post, and banned it.

I'm still curious on the policy of mustard on burgers, and if it is okay to take frozen liquids on board?
Good points Bobert ... if I recall from Grade 9 chemistry, pretty much everything has solid, liquid and gaseous states ... it's just a question of temperature. So iceblocks would be OK, but bottled water verbotten?

My hunch is that duty free as we know it is dead.
what do they do with all this confiscated kit, surely arriving passengers should be allowed to reclaim what departing passengers have toothpaste all round

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