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We live in a world of postmodern absurdity

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Feb. 1st, 2012 | 11:08 am
mood: indescribableabsurd

The story of the TSA and two pipes, as told by bruce_schneier:

  1. TSA screener finds two pipes in passenger's bags.
  2. Screener determines that they're not a threat.
  3. Screener confiscates them anyway, because of their "material and appearance."
  4. Because they're not actually a threat, screener leaves them at the checkpoint.
  5. Everyone forgets about them.
  6. Six hours later, the next shift of TSA screeners notices the pipes and -- not being able to explain how they got there and, presumably, because of their "material and appearance" -- calls the police bomb squad to remove the pipes.
  7. TSA does not evacuate the airport, or even close the checkpoint, because -- well, we don't know why.

Bruce's comment: "I don't even know where to begin." Neither do I, but I'm starting to wonder whether Douglas Adams was really joking about the telephone sanitizers and human ancestry.

In any case, it helps to view the world as a gigantic piece of absurd performance art. :)

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Comments {7}

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Feb. 1st, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
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*nods* Yeah, but that's probably because they tend to be pretty anal about food — understandably so, too, although sometimes, they're overzealous.

Customs is distinct from the TSA, too. Which is probably a good thing, since otherwise, they'd probably randomly have the bomb squad blow up packages, just in case. :)

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The Mystery of the Supranational Rabbit

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from: porsupah
date: Feb. 1st, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Wouldn't surprise me - I remember wanting to send some of Union Roasted's excellent estate coffees over to a friend in the US a couple years ago, only to find them noting on their site that they specifically wouldn't try delivering to the US, courtesy of the Customs hassles. Instead, I brought some over with me in person, with, as usual, nary a whiff of an inspection.

(And then there was a time with Canadian Customs, who returned a sonic screwdriver I'd sent, as it didn't have a *name* for the sender, just my return address.. O.o)

Don't you feel so safe? ^_^

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Feb. 2nd, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC)
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They sure can be overzealous at times. A friend tells me about an instance where he sent a piece of sterling silver jewelry he'd sold to the USA — it took two months to clear, as customs apparently subjected the piece to a battery of tests to determine if it really met the stringent requirements to be called "sterling silver". It took more than two months, and of course they never sent a notice to either my friend or the buyer.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Feb. 2nd, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
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Yeah — it's amazing that people fall for that sort of thing.

Of course, one of the commenters on Schneier's blog also noted that they might have been homeopathic bombs — diluted to the point of not setting off the detector anymore, but, as a result, all the more powerful. ;) THAT would actually make the TSA's decision a prudent one.

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