CNN Contributor Doesn’t Welcome Blades On Board Planes

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced less restrictive rules for carrying knives on planes, a move CNN opinion columnist Bob Greene calls “insane” and “dimwitted.”

In early March, the TSA declared it would soon allow knives with blades shorter than 2.36 inches in length, and no wider than a half-inch, to be carried onto flights. The green-lighted knives cannot have a molded grip or a blade that is fixed or locked into place, meaning pocket knives are pretty much the only exception. Although, as Greene explains, there has been push back from members of Congress and aircraft crew members, the TSA has shown no sign of rescinding the decision, which should go into effect on April 25.In a press luncheon late last month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano explained the reasoning behind the new policy: “We’re trying to prevent a bomb from getting on a plane. And if you are talking about a small knife, there are already things on a plane that somebody can convert into a small, sharp object.”

But Greene clearly disagrees, writing there is still a whole lot of risk involved in allowing knives on planes, and pointing out it was blades–not bombs–that allowed terrorists to take over planes on 9/11. However, he fails to note the many ways air travel has changed since the attacks, both at the airport and on the plane, including the creation of the TSA, increased screening processes, fortified aircraft doors and trained air marshals, not to mention a motivated passenger base willing to fight back. He also doesn’t mention that box cutters, the weapon used in the 9/11 attacks, will not be permitted to be carried on planes when the new rules go into effect later this month.

Greene’s other argument is that the move won’t speed up airport screening. He envisions TSA officers holding up the line to pull out rulers and ensure blades are falling under the 2.36 inch mark. But since small pocket knives are pretty much the only tools that will be allowed on planes, it seems pretty easy to quickly identify what is up to snuff and what’s not.

As someone who always carries a tiny Swiss Army Knife on my keychain, there’s been more than one occasion I’ve forgotten to leave it at home. I’ve had to forfeit two to airport security, and there’s been once or twice when I passed through the checkpoint with the tiny tool. It’s nice to see the TSA is implementing some concrete rules that conform to international standards, and I’ll be happy to soon travel with my knife (and screwdriver, and can opener and toothpick) in tow.

[Image credit: The Transportation Security Administration]

Roman “Swiss Army knife” goes on display

The Romans were an inventive bunch. They had running water, flush toilets, and mass media two thousand years ago. They also had their own version of the Swiss Army knife.

The curious artifact pictured here is part of the newly remodeled displays at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. “Discovering Greece and Rome” reopened today after a £950,000 ($1.5 million) refurbishment that involved eighteen months of careful research, conservation, and construction.

The Roman Swiss Army knife has a knife, spoon, fork, spike, spatula, and small pick. Archaeologists think the spike might have helped in extracting meat from snails, a popular Roman food, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles. The pick could have served as a toothpick. This isn’t the only Roman folding knife that’s been found, but they’re usually bronze and this one is silver and has a lot more gadgets. It dates to the third or fourth century A.D.

The museum has thousands of rare and one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Classical world, including a 3,000 year-old cosmetics box, intricately carved sarcophagi, elegant Greek vases, and everyday items from the civilizations that gave us so much of our own culture. Maps and a time line put everything into context.

During the refurbishment, museum staff removed a series of ancient stone inscriptions from one of the gallery’s false walls and discovered a time capsule placed there by the team that did the last remodel back in the 1960s. Inside was a copy of the Cambridge News dated Friday 10 May 1963, a selection of contemporary coins, and the names of the 1960s team carved into the cement. The Fitzwilliam didn’t say if they repeated the time capsule trick. The next team will just have to find out for themselves sometime in the future.%Gallery-45674%


Gadling gear review – Victorinox Swiss Army SwissFlash Flight

The Victorinox Swiss Army “SwissFlash Flight” is a USB flash drive cleverly disguised as a Swiss Army knife. Victorinox developed 2 versions of the SwissFlash tools – one with all the bells and whistles (knife, scissors and nail file/screwdriver) and one without those tools (the flight lineup) – specifically designed for taking past airport security without being told to dump it in the trash.

The SwissFlash Flight combines a removable USB drive, ultra-bright LED light and a ballpoint pen in a single Swiss Army tool. The flash drive is available in sizes from 1GB ($34.95) to 16GB ($109.95).

I won’t pretend that these prices are in line with the normal price of a USB flash drive, but the tool does offer some features that make it worth(ier of) the high price. The LED flashlight is a handy inclusion, and something everyone should consider carrying on their keychain. The ballpoint pen is by no means capable of letting you write your next essay using your flash drive, but if you have ever been on a long haul flight without a pen, sitting in front of a stack of customs forms, you’ll appreciate having quick access to a writing instrument.

The USB flash drive itself is surprisingly decent – It tests about 30% faster than most of the flash drives I have here, including popular drives like the Cruzer Micro. The USB connector is protected by a folding/locking portion of the tool and you can remove the entire USB flash drive if you need to give someone some files without wanting to give up anything the tool is attached to (like your keys).

On the side of the USB key is a write protect switch and the tool comes with a small USB extension cable in the box.

All in all this really is a luxury product. Some retailers sell the 8GB SwissFlash for just under $60, which is 3-4 times as much as a generic 8GB flash drive. The Victorinox SwissFlash Flight adds some style and extra features to the otherwise boring USB flash drive market. The looks alone make this drive worth more than a generic flash drive, and the extra features and high quality make it a great option for someone who doesn’t mind spending a bit extra for travel gadgets.

Daily gear deal – Swiss Clipper airport friendly multitool for $23

Today’s gear deal is for the new Wenger Swiss Clipper AT multi tool.

This airport friendly tool complies with all TSA regulations, and in the special “AT” version, the knife has been removed, and replaced with a mini screwdriver. You also get a pair of scissors, a nail file and (for the first time on any Swiss knife), a nail clipper.

Of course, you also get the signature toothpick and tweezers hidden away in the handles.

The Swiss Clipper AT normally retails for about $30, but is available from for just $22.99 (plus $7 shipping). Clip this thing onto your key chain, and you’ll always have 7 handy tools with you.

That said – I do recommend carrying a copy of the TSA regulations with you, as the agency has a nasty habit of making up rules at the checkpoint, and you are bound to eventually run into a checkpoint worker who will tell you to surrender your dangerous weapon.

Daily deal – up to 50% off outdoor gear at

My daily deal for today is for a large clearance event at the outdoors store. With summer slowly coming to an end for many of us, Amazon clearly need to make room in their warehouses for Halloween costumes and Christmas toys. Their loss is your gain, because there are some very nice deals to be found.

Some of the highlights include this heavy duty flashlight for $5.50, this highly rated Teton backpack with internal frame for $57.17 or this Columbia 3 person tent for just $51.58.

There is something for everyone in the discount aisle, including some pretty sweet discounts on Victorinox Swiss Army knives.

All purchases over $25 ship for free, and as always, Amazon Prime members can benefit from free 2 day shipping on most products.

For an overview of all the deals, check out their various discount departments:Cycling and wheeled, Camping and hiking and Exercise and fitness