Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Your airport security forces are on duty, measuring baggies and calculating the potential volume of in-use toothpaste tubes round the world. Yes, it's high school physics class all over again!

A friend of mine went through security at the Philadelphia International Airport the other day and was busted. Yup, he had the wrong size toothpaste container displayed in his regulation quart-size zipper baggie. "The tube was all rolled up with maybe two brushes worth of toothpaste left," he said. Don't try that trick in Philadelphia, potential wrongdoer! While the amount of actual paste in the rolled up tube was well less than an ounce, the screener, using his finest skills of police detection, managed to ascertain that the tube had ONCE contained over 4 ounces.

Into the trash bin it goes and the next time let that be a warning to you.

Meanwhile, off to the airport I go this morning for a trip to Florida. I am not taking toothpaste, as like millions of us, I have now simply become conditioned to arriving somewhere and finding the nearest Walgreen's to buy still another new tube. Hasn't this yet become a recycling issue?

And quick, somebody reassure me. This is the country that won the Battle of Midway, right?

Meanwhile, in London, the Brits are standing down at last. Last week, the authorities, having determined that the coast is clear, changed security procedures to allow passengers to carry on 3.5 ounces of gels, pastes and liquids, "carried in a clear plastic, zip-top or resealable bag" that does not exceed one quart in capacity.

It seems the threat has sufficiently passed from the alleged terrorist plot that had the British authorities shrieking in fear in August. You know the plot I mean. The one where ... uh, some Islamists were talking about ... uh, blowing up, what was it now? Ten airplanes over the U.S.? No, that turned out not to be true. SOME airplanes. Maybe. They had some videotapes of bat-shit crazy young men talking about that. Yeah, that's it. And what happened into the investigation of that plot. Hey, don't ask. Very secret. Was this a real plot or a case of some wobbly British constables going off half-cocked like John Cleese after a wayward guest in Fawlty Towers? Don't ask, I told you!

That is the country that stood defiant during the Blitz. Right?

And remember, QUART size baggies only. Don't ask the rationale for that or it's trouble for you, bub. And onlt three-ounce containers of your gels and whatnot, unless your gels are in contained a bra, for which the rules do not apply (if you think I am joking here, see earlier posts on T.S.A. exemptions for gel-bras, both as proestetics and as fashion wear).

Last week, the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. uncovered serious screening violations at the Newark Liberty Valance International Airport. No, I'm joking about the Valance, but not the security scew-up. The airport's response? "They've launched a full-scale investigation to find out just who leaked that information to the press. Not, mind you, an investigation into the 90 percent failure rate of screeners, or the political yum-yums who are managing the TSA at EWR," the ever-trenchant aviation consultant Mike Boyd wrote in his weekly essay yesterday (www.aviationplanning.com --I read it faithfully each week).

The qualifications of the security director at Newark, besides political connections? He's a former public relations man for the T.S.A.

Hey, spin this.

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