Saturday, August 12, 2006

Where did all the stuff go?


According to the Seattle Times it was like Christmas in August at Sea-Tac.
Several janitorial employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said Friday that a search of the garbage near security lines was "like Christmas."

"It was like shopping," one man said. Pricey perfumes, lipsticks, unopened toothpaste and bottled spirits were among the most common hauls, he said.

But the goods were all but gone Friday when savvy passengers packed their toiletries in their checked luggage instead.

"It was just a one-day sale," an employee said.
At other airports authorities threatened serious disciplinary action against employee trash pickers, though it's not clear that the severe strictures were ever enforced before travelers accommodated to the new security rules and the bonanza disappeared.

Today's Air Security Trivia Quiz: Assuming all the items confiscated by TSA had been properly disposed of instead of taken home by airport workers, how far would the contraband reach if all the individual containers had been laid end-to-end?
A. From Earth to the moon and halfway back again.
B. From New York City to Omaha.
C. From New York City to Washington, D.C.
The correct answer, based on Madison Guy's back-of-the-envelope calculations, is C.

Back-of-the-envelope Calculation Methodology: Figure roughly 1 million passengers brought liquids or gels with them to the security lines before word got out to leave this stuff at home or put it in checked baggage. Estimate combined length of items carried by average passenger, keeping in mind that some normally check all their baggage, and some don't. Figure this averages 1.2 linear feet for each passenger. Divide 1.2 million linear feet by 5,280 feet per mile. Result: 227 miles. NY to DC distance via Yahoo Driving Directions = 232 miles. Close enough. Washington it is.

None of this answers the real question: Why now? Since Al Qaeda terrorists first planned to use liquid explosives in the 1994 Bojinka plot over the Pacific, have we been vulnerable all this time? Has this laissez faire attitude toward bottled water, perfume and lip gloss been endangering air travelers for years? And even the nutballs in London -- they've had them under surveillance for 18 months and they just confiscate liquids now? Why were they OK on Wednesday and potentially lethal on Thursday?

Maybe this has something to do with it. Associated Press reports that the Bush administration was trying to divert bomb-detection money as recently as this year.
Lawmakers and recently retired Homeland Security officials say they are concerned the department's research and development effort is bogged down by bureaucracy, lack of strategic planning and failure to use money wisely.

The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.

The administration also was slow to start testing a new liquid explosives detector that the Japanese government provided to the United States earlier this year.
Which leads to this Bonus Quiz Question: How confident are you that Michael Chertoff and his Bush administration cohorts know what they are doing?
A. Highly confident.
B. Somewhat confident.
C. Can you spell Katrina?

10 comments:

Terrible said...

C

Bulldog said...

I go with "C" as well, Madison guy. The funny thing is that the type of explosive they were trying to make was so unstable they would have most likely either killed or at least injured themselves severely just testing it. Assuming they were able to successfully test it, they probably wouldn't have been able to recreate an explosion on board an aircraft. Definitely not when you look at how many were involved. But hey, we're safer now, right?

Bulldog

Mr. Forward said...

On Tuesday Madison man was criticizing the administration for "Fueling terrorism fears -- They used to say patriotism was the last refuge of scoundrels, but these days the appellation should probably go to the people who use all the means at their disposal to whip up fears of terrorism"

Today he writes, "None of this answers the real question: Why now? Since Al Qaeda terrorists first planned to use liquid explosives in the 1994 Bojinka plot over the Pacific, have we been vulnerable all this time? Has this laissez faire attitude toward bottled water, perfume and lip gloss been endangering air travelers for years? And even the nutballs in London -- they've had them under surveillance for 18 months and they just confiscate liquids now? Why were they OK on Wednesday and potentially lethal on Thursday?"

Hey Madison Man,how can you bitch about "whipping up fear of terrorism" on Tuesday and inadequate shampoo confiscation on Saturday?

Madison Guy said...

Um, it's called sarcasm... Al Qaeda first tried this liquid explosive thing in 1994 and no planes have been blown up in the intervening years, despite the widespread availability of liquids and gels on planes since then. So just maybe the danger is being excessively hyped now. Just wondering...

And it's Madison GUY. Madison Man is the other one.

Mr. Forward said...

So what's your definition of "excessively hyped"? If they only blow up one or two planes? Just wondering...

Dr Diablo said...

Give a Guy a break, Mr. Forward. It's not easy for a Bush-hating Lefty pundit to stir up public outrage in the aftermath of NOTHING BAD ACTUALLY HAPPENING. It's hard to know whether to claim that (a) we're lucky nothing did, given the incompetence of those Halliburton flunkies, or (b) that the putative "crisis" is a trumped-up political manipulation. The adroit commentator may be able to allege both--on different days of course.

The relentless, heh, "Beating the Bushes," here and elsewhere, is just payback anyway for the right-wing abuse of the Clintons. Remember when Nick Guarino and others were blaming them for every mysterious death in Arkansas. Even I began to feel stirrings of skepticism when the Clinton Death Toll reached 150.

Dave Bell said...

The liquid explosive actually used in the 1994 bomb was nitroglycerin.

Denser than water, looks like some cooking oils, dangerous, can be made safer by various means, including inert fillers. That's what dynamite is.

The nitration process has also been used on other materials to make explosives. The advantage of a liquid or gel is that it can be put in sealed bottle that might not be detected by a sniffer dog. Otherwise I'm sure guncotton would have been using for clothing.

Dr Diablo said...

I am about to make explicit the role of George W Bush and the demise of Packer football, at personal risk to myself. If I perish when my brakes mysteriously fail tomorrow, do not accept the official explanation of a "manufacturing defect" in my Yugo.

The inadequate Bush response to Hurricane Katrina has been referenced repeatedly, here and at millions of other sites. The performance was so woeful that incompetence seemed an inadequate explanation for it. Ditto for the Packers' downward spiral. Here's the "Bush Dot" connection.

What two teams were affected most adversely by Katrina? The (a) Saints, who lurched dazedly through a season of 16 road games, and the (b) Packers. Brett Favre's boyhood home is just across the State line in Kiln, MI, but he lives just 30 minutes from the Superdome and grew up a Saints fan. The hurricane damage to this locale distracted him last season to the point where he played almost like a Saint. Note that both these teams compete in the NFC.

What conference do the Dallas Cowboys play in? Can you spell N-F-C? The Katrina damage benefited Cowboy football by crippling two conference rivals. Bush then diverts attention from the Katrina maneuver by invading Iraq.

So all of this death and destruction results simply from the desire of Bush-Cheney to boost the fortunes of Dallas Cowboy football. Did I mention that Halliburton maintains a whole tier of luxury boxes at Texas Stadium? I think any reader will come to agree with me and share my outrage if he will only consider the facts, and keep consdiering for as long as it takes.

If I survive, I will reveal the role of the Bush dynasty in the continuing Roswell coverup.

Madison Guy said...

Spot-on, astute analysis, Dr. Diablo -- or may I call you Kenneth? What's the frequency?

Check your brakes carefully before setting out on any major journey.

Sean Carter said...
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