Shoot me an email. We should chat.
Long story short, the skies were kept safe tonight from any designs I had on synthesizing a maple-based plastique while in flight. TSA acted professionally, in the sense that they said “sir” as they went about their officious buffoonery.
If you haven’t already, you should read this interview with former* TSA chief Kip Hawley, conducted by Bruce Shneier. It will make two things immediately clear.
First, this agency was run by a man named Kip.
Second, the frustrating and apparently arbitrary nonsense that you, I and all other air travelers are continually subjected to is just what it seems. When the agent tried to explain to me that the listed weight of my proscribed carryon (in grams) was evidence of its violation of the volume limit? When the woman next to me was told that the difference between the limit, in millilieters, listed on the TSA.gov printout she was holding and the limit, in milliliters, being enforced against her owed to some arcane fact involving unit conversion and Canadian passengers? These are not merely the failings of overtaxed and undertrained staff. The whole agency is awash in arbitrary authoritarianism. Shneier pulls the curtain back, and the man behind just sits there smiling at him. He’s named Kip! Glad to meet ya! But he couldn’t possibly comment on that thing you just said, because if he did, one of our vaguely-defined but utterly-relentless enemies might realize the obvious thing that your non-expert mind just thought of during a fit of idle pique.
I understand why a Democratic administration can’t undo this nonsense. But I am looking forward to the day when a new Republican administration decides to help itself to an easy PR victory by undoing the liquid ban and, hopefully, driving a naked, horsewhipped Kip Hawley — or whomever has continued his legacy –through the laughing streets of DC.
There. Now I feel better.
* It appears that Kip is out as of the Obama administration, but a permanent replacement has not yet been named. Hopefully they will either be more thoughtful, or at least have a name of similar hilarity, making it easyto update this post.