home of the madduck/ blog/
Fascists in the air and on the ground

The EU has published the new guidelines for hand luggage on flights, following the foiled, alleged "terrorist" attacks at Heathrow airport in August of this year. Let's all raise our hands and cheer to the great authorities with their far-sighted wisdom for making flying so much safer.

As of today, you're not allowed to transport any liquids in your regular hand luggage, because, as we all know, it's trivial to blow up a plane with liquid explosives. Previously, only the UK, as the little brother of the Excited States of America, bought this obvious security enhancing measure; today all of the EU followed. I am not claiming they had to or were forced, I think our "leaders" in Brussels are stupid enough to make the move themselves.

From now on, liquid containers have to be transported in zip-lock bags, which you're expected to bring yourself. Every container holding less than 100ml has to be placed into that bag; if the bag is full, that's it, you can only take one (I wonder how long it'll be until you can buy zip-lock bags big enough to hold, say, 20 litres...). And of course, the bags have to be scanned separately, at participating airports only, of course. Just like some airports don't care about your laptops while others make you switch the thing on, I am sure those bags will be scrutinised differently depending on where you are.

Containers of more than 100ml are simply not allowed anymore, including drinking liquids, unless purchased at the overpriced airport stores (which account for roughly 30% of an airports revenue), of course. Our ladies will be able to bring lip stick in their pockets, but the "softer" chap sticks (Labello etc.) are considered dangerous and thus must go into the bag.

Confusing? Expect even longer delays! Ample time to think about it all!

All this is obviously only being done for our safety, and to shield us from the mean "terrorists". Thank you, you smart decision makers. If it weren't for you, we might all live freely and die happily.

NP: Amplifier / The Astronaut Dismantles HAL

Update: Kevin Fullerton points out that at least in the UK, the bags are limited in capacity to one litre, and that "verified" prescription medicine and baby food are exempt.

I shall now go to my doctor and get a recipe for a two litre water bottle. I doubt I'll pass as baby any longer. In spirit maybe, but I don't think they'll care.

Update: Andreas Schuldei points out that a friend of his with a Ph.D. in chemistry tells the opposite from what Perry Metzger claims in the article linked above. I'd be interested to hear more about that.

But I agree with you: you don't need liquid explosives or bombs at all to wreak some havoc in the skies.

All this security theatre hardly improves security — there will always be a hole, and someone will find it. On the other hand, with the publicity around "heightened security" (and related fairy tales), the average passenger is more likely to feel safe when s/he is not. Similar to the story of the boy who cried wolf, I wonder whether the authorities are not making it easier for the "terrorists".

Note that I am playing their game, the game in which our authorities are trying to win, the battle long lost before it even started. I don't think the threat is airplanes crashing into football stadiums, important landmarks, or buildins with many people; I think the real threat is terror, and I am not the only one to claim that on this front, the terrorists have long won. Our politicians either don't get it, or they do and are now furiously attempting to piggy-back intelligence measures for greater "internal control", while using the public excitement as a platform for their policitical campaigns.

For a leader to be able to push his/her own agenda, s/he can do a whole lot of talking and fail, or instill fear among the people and boldly forge ahead, for them to follow. I don't recall who said that which I freely quoted.

Update: Wouter van Heyst pointed me to this film, which is a three part documentary. screened by the BBC in January 2005 (see Wikipedia). IMDb user ratings of 9.2/10 with 675 votes... just means I'll have to get that film. You can download it for free from archive.org, see it at Google Video, or just read the argument summary.