Should your passenger jet have a trap door?

Our friends over at Boing Boing found an interesting article at Neatorama exploring some pretty wild patents to combat terrorism.

It’s great to have inventive minds out there mind you, but having scoured USPTO.gov more than a few times myself over the past few years, you kind of get the feeling that some people have a little bit too much spare time and too much imagination.

The ideas range from a haz-mat suit with a toilet built into it to a mobile crematorium that kind of looks like a barbeque that you would drag down to the campsite, but our favorite here at Gadling is the airplane trap door.

See, if terrorists take over the passenger cabin and start working their way up to the cockpit, there’s a trap door (a-la Scooby Doo style) that the pilots can open up, capturing the would-be hijacker in a compartment under the floor. I imagine that this drawing has a giant lever with a red handle on it that the pilot can pull, although I’m not sure where it is.

Neatorama also suggests that the device could be improved by adding alligators to the compartment to take care of the terrorsists.

Just make sure that you don’t bump the lever by accident during the beverage service, or you might lose a flight attendant.

You can check out the Neatorama list here, or read Boing Boing’s comments here.

How to get the travelers file that Homeland Security has on you

Maybe your Homeland Security file is wafer thin– not much in it that would excite even your grandmother, but if you’re curious to find out what the U.S. government has been collecting on you, here’s the way to get the scoop. The Identity Project has down-loadable request forms that you fill out and mail to the address printed on the documents. You can find out some of the information, although possibly not all of it.

What you’ll eventually get back is any unclassified information like PNRs, APIS Data; and secondary search records. Huh? I don’t know quite what those mean. And, what good does it do to know that stuff? It seems the classified info is the juiciest. At least it’s a start and could help folks feel satisfied and more comfortable that they have a bit of a handle on what the government is up to when it comes to background checks.

Also, as we’ve pointed out, besides your travel habits, your gestures and behaviors, what you put up on the Internet is up for grabs when it comes to keeping track of just who and what you are. [via boingboing]

TSA Pours Out Coffee, Ignores Boxcutter

Remember the pudding incident? Another BoingBoing reader had a similar experience — this time, Shannon Larratt‘s girlfriend forgot she had a boxcutter in her purse, but the TSA didn’t notice/care. They were more interested in throwing away the cup of coffee she had just purchased at the terminal cafe.

What’s scary is this probably happens pretty regularly, but not everyone thinks to sneak off to the airplane bathroom and snap a photo of the incriminating device. One commenter writes,

“I’ve done the same thing a half dozen times. I use my mess bag both for biking and travel, and I’ve at times forgotten to thoroughly de-terrorize it. I’ve been let on planes with an assortment of knives, bike tools and folding tools, no problems.”

What I’d like to know is if a passenger or flight attendant somehow finds out that there’s a boxcutter on the plane, whose fault is it? The person who accidentally forgot it was in their purse, or the TSA official who didn’t notice it?

Can Holiday Pie Be Considered a Dangerous Liquid?

PieBefore reading further keep in mind that no question is a dumb question. Now having stumbled on this piece originally found in the Consumerist where a man questions TSA as to if his pie is considered a dangerous liquid I think to myself, what a silly question to ask. But wait, no, no… It isn’t as silly as it seems. In these days where even a smile in its most contagious form comes across as a terrorist act, you really do have to ask before making any sudden moves or bringing your pie on board the plane. The writer of the piece featured had been standing by when he heard the question tossed out into the open. In his recount he notes TSA doesn’t consider pie a liquid, but now he ponders if cherry pie filling is considered a gel? Things that make you go hmm, right?

Well in the end our pie-carrying character gets to take his crusted filled sweet potato dessert with him with no fuss, although the TSA employee was looking to confiscate it for her own personal reasons.

via Boing Boing