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Fear mongering

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‘A plot to commit murder on an unimaginable scale’ – Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson of Scotland Yard [read more]

What changed on August 10th that made toothpaste and blush tools of death? Airport security is a giant show designed to keep people flying, not to keep people safe. It’s laughable. Just like everything else that gets rushed into place, it looks like the new flight restrictions are here to stay. When will it stop? Crazies can still carry whole water bottles onto subways and busses. They must be stopped.

Sports drinks, toothpaste and rest are completely safe. Despite that fact, airport stores have been forced to pull said contraband to keep us safe (even the stores past security!). The best guess for what explosive would be used is TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide). Listening to the news you would think the ingredients of TATP are Diet Coke and Mentos–too bad it’s actually chemicals like Hydrogen Peroxide, paint thinner and sulfuric acid. If you have the ingredients, TATP is not hard to make, there are directions available all over the place. However it’s hard to make in an airplane lavatory, to be done correctly you need both a heat source and refrigeration. Not to mention a lot of time.

On top of all that, TATP isn’t that great of an explosive to bring something like an airliner down. You need a big hole to kill a plane and that means a lot of TATP. The London bombers had backpacks full and even then weren’t all that successful (half the bombs didn’t even work). According to reports, 10-20 pounds are needed to pack a good punch. Also working against mayhem is that a TATP “bomb” produces very little heat, it’s an entropic explosion. That probably rules out a huge fire, especially since the interior of planes is chocked full of fire-resistant materials. The truth is TATP makes a much better detonator than bomb. That’s actually what “shoebomber” Richard Reid was trying to use it for (PETN was the real explosive), but he couldn’t even manage to set off the super unstable TATP.

All the “security experts” on TV make assembling a liquid explosive bomb powerful enough to take down a wide body jet sound like the easiest thing in the world to do. If that were the case it would have already been done. Use some common sense. It’s probably not impossible, but it’s (thankfully) not easy. In the mean time stop scaring everyone and start double checking people carrying gallons of drain cleaner and paint thinner in their carry-ons.

Ricky Bobby on Larry King

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Last night I slipped into the bizarro world and came upon a replay of Ricky Bobby on Larry King Live. That would be the fictional character Ricky Bobby on the non-fictional news program Larry King Live. Bobby’s buddy Cal Naughton, Jr. came along for the interview as well. King even had a red gas canister to his right to show that CNN “gets” NASCAR. If this doesn’t mark the end of CNN as a news source, I don’t know what will. King introduced Will Ferrell like so:

“Our guests here in Los Angeles, Ricky Bobby, the NASCAR legend, one of the all-time greats, four time winner of the Daytona 500 and Cal Naughton, Jr., also a NASCAR driver”

Then it got really weird when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. called in to vent:

“I got a big old party going on downstairs, didn’t know if you could hear me. Let me just say to Ricky and Cal you guys are lucky I’m not in the studio calling me a loser. You guys are the losers. I know 2-year-olds that drive better than you guys.”

I had to check my facts today just to make sure this really happened. It did. I also checked to see the studio that made Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and surprisingly it wasn’t Warner… It’s sony. Congrats on the hour long free ad on CNN.

I finished Atlas Shrugged

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I’m an adult so I’m not sure why it feels like an accomplishment, but I have now read Atlas Shrugged. The only downside is that I’m now officially out of space on my novel shelf and will have to adjust the book case to sport two shelves dedicated to novels. This is what happens when you read dictionary sized books.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The 80-page monologue by John Galt was a bit much (I’m not a details guy, just summarize it already), but at least I’m not alone in that opinion. It was refreshing to hear support for laissez-faire capitalism, even if it’s not from a contemporary work. I recently purchased a rather large collection of essays by George Orwell, so apparently I’m going on an anti-socialism reading binge.

Word of the day: anosmia

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I’ve wondered a few times what it’s called when you can’t smell. The answer is anosmia. People with the condition are called anosmic. Most people that can’t smell have the ability to taste, but without the added effect that smell adds (it probably is similar to when you have a cold and can only detect basic tastes). As far as losing a sense go, anosmics have it pretty easy. Gas leaks would be pretty scary, but hosting Dirty Jobs would be a cinch.