TSA Carry-on Rules or: Why I Should Probably Repack Before Leaving Tomorrow

A partial list of items banned from carry-on luggage by the Transportation Security Administration, as of June 2010:

  • Ice picks
  • Vehicle airbags
  • Gel shoe inserts
  • Meat cleavers
  • Sabers
  • Swords
  • Cricket bats
  • Spear guns
  • Cattle prods
  • Billy clubs
  • Nunchakus
  • Throwing stars
  • Blasting caps
  • Dynamite
  • Hand grenades

And “snow globes… even with documentation.”

Via Futility Closet.

I Guess CCTV Is Good for Something

A friend of mine got mugged over the weekend coming back from a bar on Saturday night. Luckily, only his phone was taken and he wasn’t hurt at all.

Naturally, CCTV was useless in helping to prevent the crime or even to identify the assailant after the fact. Two separate cameras caught it, not that that matters. Also, rendering the cameras even more useless, they were owned and operated by the LSE, though they were kind enough to release it to my friend.

From him, it got to me. I took the liberty of editing the footage into a single video, and added a very necessary soundtrack. The whole thing only took me about 30 minutes. At least some good came out of the whole affair…

EDIT: Most of the details regarding the path that footage took to get to me were dead wrong. They have since been corrected.

An Afghan Primer

Hot on the heels of Binyavanga Wainaina’s “How to Write about Africa” comes a new guide, this time from Registan: “How to Write about Afghanistan.”

Always use the word ‘war-torn’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘tribal,’ ‘Taliban,’ ‘corrupt,’ and ‘Sharia.’ Also useful are words such as ‘shuras,’ ‘fighters,’ ‘refugees’ and ‘insurgency.’ Do not distinguish between different ethnic groups with different languages, religions and histories, or regions with different landscapes and livelihoods. If people in Kandahar tell you something, assume people in Kabul feel the same way, and vice versa. Whenever possible, mention Pashtunwali. (Note: you do not need to understand what Pashtunwali is. You get points for mentioning it anyway.)

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted Afghan accompanying your article. (Make an exception for Afghans you want to be president.) A stoned cop, a woman in a burka begging, a scowling man holding a Kalashnikov: use these. If you must include an Afghan who is not miserable or threatening, make sure you get an elderly farmer with very few teeth, or a little girl holding a baby goat.

I’m reminded of why I chose ‘monolithic’ as my word of the month (possibly of the year).

But I Repeat Myself

A reminder that history does not repeat itself; it merely rhymes:

Beneath azure blue skies on Sunday, an intrepid band of Englishmen tried to stage a scaled-down rerun of the “little ships,” hundreds of private craft that joined the Royal Navy in the improbable 1940 rescue [at Dunkirk], saving hundreds of thousands of British, French and Canadian soldiers to fight on against Nazi Germany.

This time, the effort centered on a group of men in a flotilla of inflatable speedboats who set out from Dover to ferry some of their stranded compatriots home from the rail and ferry chaos created by the cloud of volcanic ash that has shut down much of Europe’s air traffic.

Accompanied by a Wry Signoff

Does anyone still watch news? I find myself more and more turning towards online text. With the possible exception of The Onion, video news is a total waste of time. There are so many ways to obscure your lack of a point with video, the vast majority of which usually ends up as meaningless. On Newswipe, Charlie Brooker explains “how to report the news,” beginning with that lackluster establishing shot (via Disinformation).