Know The Enemy: The Box Cutter

With all the handwringing about Nathaniel Heatwole and his “hide the box cutter” stunt which has left him facing ten years in Federal prison for pointing out the folly that is the TSA and its passenger searches, I think it’s time to inject a little perspective into the anti-box cutter hysteria. I understand they were used in the hijackings on September 11, 2001, but it was a different world then. People expected that hijackers wanted to fly to Cuba, or wanted some political hostages released, or some ransom money. People did not know then that doing what a hijacker wanted was certain death, too.

Otherwise, no one would be hijacked by someone wielding one of these:

A box cutter compared to a 6" ruler.

Not exactly a machete, now, is it? This is your garden variety box cutter favored by retail stockers and warehousemen everywhere. Note the less-than-shiny razor blade with almost a whole half inch of cutting surface exposed. This is not a piercing or stabbing weapon, folks. This is a little slasher, and it’s got far less than an inch of penetration power. No bad man is going to stick you in the heart or lungs with it, and it’s probably not enough to cut through your stomach wall if you’ve done any extra situps recently or have been eating a lot of fast food. Keep it away from your neck and you should be okay if someone pulls one in a fight. Granted, I’d rather be the guy with a case cutter if one of the two of us in the fight has one, but it’s not instant death, and it’s not even that intimidating.

Even if the bad guy pulls the razor out, he’s only exposing 1.5 inches of slashing blade, and it’s a hell of a lot harder to hold:

A box cutter disassembled, with razor out.

Of course, maybe when the press describes box cutter it means a utility knife. Utility knives come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re all designed to have a small, sharp cutting surface but also to be safe for people to handle. As a result, they don’t make that effective of a weapon, especially if you’re a terrorist with a plane full of resisting people.

So we, the people, know that the measures that strip grandmothers of their pinking shears and businessmen of their nail clippers are mostly cosmetic. That the TSA is making a show of security all the while telling us to please be quiet so that the TSA can fool the bad men into thinking the planes are secure. By taking away some of the most effective makeshift weapons available. This effort inconveniences air travellers and probably doesn’t even phase the bad men. It also could lead to prosecution of innocent people who make a small mistake.

When I was working in retail, the box cutter just became a part of the gear I carry in my jeans pockets. After each work day, I dumped it onto the dresser with my wallet, keys, and change. Every morning, including some upon which I did not work, I picked the gear up and put it into my pockets. If I were to do that today, on a day whereupon I was to catch a plane, don’t doubt the TSA would make an example of me.

So let this be a series of lessons to you. Our TSA is creating, for its own benefit, an illusion of security by isolating innocuous items and hoping against all hope that the terrorists continue to use things TSA screeners are looking for and that the terrorists are foolish enough to get caught with them. The TSA will ruin countless innocent American (not that Heatwole’s innocent, mind you) lives to make its point, which is not worth much.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Down the Creek Without a Paddle, Go To Jail!

Apparently, going over Niagara Falls without a barrel is illegal, according to this story:

It was a stunt — not a suicide attempt — that sent a Michigan man over the brink of Niagara Falls yesterday. That’s according to Canadian police, who say they will charge 40-year-old Kirk Jones of Canton, Michigan with illegally performing a stunt.

I’m not sure which stunts are legal in Canada, but just in case, it’s probably a good idea to not leap through any flaming hoops when visiting our nothern neighbor.

No word from our legal counsel yet whether wearing clown shoes violates Ontario ordinance.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Criminalization of Stupid Things? You Don’t Say! (II)

Tyler Cowan of The Volokh Conspiracy expounds on the overcriminalization of economic conduct.

He quotes:

“Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. The American Bar Association reported in 1998 that there were in excess of 3,300 separate criminal offenses. More than 40 percent of these laws have been enacted in just the past 30 years, as part of the growth of the regulatory state. And these laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are “[n]early 10,000.””

Makes it hard to keep them all straight in your head, doesn’t it?

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

She Wolf or She Male? Which Sub Place Tonight?

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune contrasts the current commercials of submarine sandwich chains (registration required).

Compare:

The commercial starts off with two guys holding toasted subs.

“One guy asks, `What? You don’t like it? Were you raised by wolves?’

“The other guy has a far-away look in his eyes. Then there’s a flashback, and he’s in business attire, suckling at a grown she-wolf, fighting off other wolf cubs, the only thing is, he’s not a wolf. He’s a guy, in business attire, suckling on a wolf.”

We stood there, silently pondering the image, trying to figure out why wolf milk might inspire a guy to buy a sub.

Contrast:

This one involves a tense fellow who dresses in a cheerleader outfit, and swishes his pompoms in the middle of his driveway, with the neighbors watching, including the neighbor with the video camera.

In the commercial, the cross-dresser tells his terrified daughter not to worry, that although he’s “been bad,” he had the special sandwich. He’s absolved himself with a sub.

Makes me want to order pizza, too.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Veterinarian Explains Hunter Pathological Psychology

After treating a black Lab for an arrow wound, a veterinarian took a moment to plomb the deep recesses of the dark soul of hunters:

A lot of hunters take the hunt as seriously as a religion, and anything that gets in their way is going to get blasted to kingdom come,” Jones said. “Of course the dog probably ran around in this woods all year round. The hunters were probably there illegally.”

Spurious assertions made to split hunters from the mainstream, where they yet remain in the suburbanifying northern Jefferson County region of Missouri? Back off, man, he’s a scientist armed with a D.V.M. degree, so he can explain the lizard-brain-mentality which undoubtedly comes from an excess of blood and not enough phlegm in some sects of the population.

If you’re going to say a lot of hunters are murderous skybusters (or ground-level busters), you can just as easily assert that quite a few black Labs exhibit suicidal impulses or innumerable veterinarians are nitwits. However, I cannot comfortably assert spuriously based on personal anecdotes. Our veterinarian is not a nitwit and the most avid hunter I know hasn’t yet blasted everything in his way to kingdom come, I’d have to think that spurious assertions only serve to make good newspaper copy, and to be a Jedi mind trick for weak minded legislators fools.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Poor Word Choice, Peter

The New York Daily News, writing about another suicide at New York University, characterizes the incident thusly:

A 19-year-old New York University student plunged from a friend’s sixth-floor window in Manhattan last night in an apparent suicide, cops said.

The incident marked the third reported suicide by an NYU student this fall.

Ouch. Might I recommend you share my pretentious reference to this season as autumn to avert these situations?

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Outted by the Friday Five!

Acidman drinks Budweiser!

I can understand the boxed wine because of the convenience of stacking. Whenever I get a pallet full delivered, I can dolly it in and stack it to the ceiling in my laundry room wine cellar. But Budweiser in the refrigerator?

Maybe it’s left over from a party or something. I mean, I know the malternative six pack that materializes at our parties tends to last longer than its grain alternatives, but I’m no Marc Antony. I won’t drink the stale of horses even if Clydesdales produce a hearty, robust flavor.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Nick Gillespie’s First Time

Nick’s first time took place when he was fourteen and one a cold basement floor. Me, when I was nineteen, in the dark room in the basement I called The Cave, on a bed beneath Christmas lights set to flash on and off.

The first time I read The Stranger, of course.

Nick’s got short review and reflection on American Existentialism, springing off of a tome called Existential America (christmasWishList.add(book);). Might be worth a browse. Much of my Existentialist reading has come from surveys, werd, except for the primary stuff like The Stranger, The Plague, Nausea, Existentialism and Human Emotions, and about twenty pages of Being and Nothingness.

So where was I? Oh, yes, L’Etranger, which I read when I was looking for Existenialist stuff. Man, that was a philosophy for me. All the books were thin! So I took two. The Stranger and The Outsider. After I polished off The Stranger, I started The Outsider and suddenly, I understood the circular meaninglessness of everyday existence. Deja vu with disappointment. The Outsider had the same first page as The Stranger! What an artistic statement! Or perhaps it was just that the British translation had a different title. It’s something I have speculated on in many coffeeshops.

Regardless, if you haven’t read it, I recommend it. Especially for those of you who want to impress your book clubs by selecting a philosophical novel, but a short philosophical novel.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Albright Now, Baby, She’s Albright Now

Like her boss, “Mad” Albright is campaigning against attacking Bush for his foreign policy. Because I give her point of view these days the same credibility I would give an Internet Troll, I am going to give her remarks the corrective treatment favored by Frank J. and my beautiful wife by rewriting “cleaning up” her remarks:

US President George W. Bush’s foreign policy “is what we should have been doing in the Clinton adminstration all along.”

“America is much stronger than a multilateral system, they better be on the our side, work with us. Or else it’s America versus the others.”

She said that UN chief Kofi Annan, who has come out against a US draft resolution on Iraq currently before the UN Security Council, was the “best secretary general since the creation, for what that’s worth” of the world body.

All right, that’s getting dull. What could she have said to characterize herself and her peers properly?

“It’s not difficult to be in France and criticise my government. But I’m doing so because I think I am a Dixie Chick because in the Clinton administration, we had the depth and breadth of pop stars.”

On Iraq, Albright said “I fear that there really is chaos there. We don’t know what’s going to happen. One or two Americans a day are killed. We should have sent our soldiers on costly-but-safe excursions that outlasted their exit date by a decade or more, like Bosnia.”

Even if ridding Iraq of its “terrible” leader had its merits, Albright added: “I don’t understand why the war happened now. I would have liked to see us concentrate on Afghanistan because this Karzai guy is a mad tyrant and needs to be overthrown.”

I have to do these things, you understand, to keep this vein in my forehead to keep from throbbing painfully.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Your #1 Source for Recreational Cocaine Lasik Information

Thank you, someone, for discovering that Musings from Brian J. Noggle is the #1 source for recreational cocaine lasik on the Internet!

I am sorry I cannot provide the answers you seek until you provide a bit more information.

Are you a person who uses cocaine “recreationally” and you want to know whether a little blow will affect your vision surgery, or a surgeon who wants to know if you’re really better at your job when you’re feeling schnucking GREAT, man?

Thank you.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Laws of Causality Awry in Middle East

Knight Ridder headline: Killing of 3 in Gaza makes U.S. a target.

Those of us who think linearly, and try to express reality with words, might have phrased it Palestinian Irregulars Target U.S. Civilians, Kill 3 in Gaza, but that implies this act passes for Palestinian military action and that these Palestinians purposefully decided beforehand to attack and kill 3 U.S. civilians, the official storytellers want to describe a different narrative.

In spite of a liberal arts education, I avoid passive voice and write clearly, so I am not qualified to work at Knight Ridder.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Who Chooses When You Can Choose?

In his Chicago Tribune column today (registration required), Steven Chapman identifies inconsistencies on a woman’s right to choose what’s right for her body and her life.

As Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Gloria Feldt puts it, “We stand for the principle that women–in consultation with their families and their physicians–should make their own reproductive and health decisions. Not politicians and not the government.”

But this week, they changed their minds.

Not about abortion. On that intimate issue of women’s physical autonomy, they still believe the government should get out and stay out. But when it comes to breast implants, they think women can’t be trusted to decide for themselves. On the former question, they sound like hard-core libertarians. On the latter, they are models of intrusive paternalism.

You get to free will, Citizen, whenever your betters tell you to choose.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories

Police Chief Says Press Charges, Get Charged

Certainly you’ve heard the story about the jubilant Missouri football fan who rushed onto Faurot Field after the Missouri Tigers beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday, wherein a Nebraska Cornhusker football player rung his bell. If you haven’t, go read the story and watch the video. I’ll wait right here for you.

Okay. So read what the police chief has to say. To sum up, via cut and paste:

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The man punched by a Nebraska football player after the game at Faurot Field last Saturday could face a first-degree trespassing charge, the University of Missouri-Columbia police chief said.

“That is part of the investigation,” Chief Jack Watring said Wednesday.

Fans were told by the public-address announcer to not go onto the field after the game.

Watring said the man who was hit, Matthew Scott of Lee’s Summit, Mo., has been told by investigators that he could be charged himself if he presses action against Nebraska place-kick holder Kellen Huston.

Sorry to make you work for a living, Chief. The investigation, huh? You mean popping the video into your videocassette player and enjoying a nice mocha while a loop shows Scott getting punched by a football player, a professional athlete for all intents and purposes.

If the victim decides maybe a one-game suspension and a forced apology is not enough and he wants just recourse through the legal system, you shall punish the victim for bothering you.

Does anyone else here suspect that the following tidbit, buried in the bottom of the story, might be germane to Watring’s threat?

Scott is not a student at the university, Watring said.

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories