Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb

Boing Boing lists a news story in which a band sticker on a bicycle shut down an airport. The name of the band is "This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb," and apparently it isn't the first time its appearance on an innocently parked bicycle has caused a bomb scare.

Everyone can appreciate that security at an airport has to be taken seriously, but it seems a little odd to base the alert level on the label. If a bicycle being a pipe bomb is a credible threat, restrict bicycle parking to a secure bunker. A bicycle sticker reading, "This bike is not a pipe bomb," wouldn't calm anyone down any. If I knew that there was one bike on the whole rack that was a pipe bomb, I'd expect it to be the one with the only stickers being the manufacturer's name and local registration. The words "pipe bomb" precipitate the security response. Not the credibility of the threat. It has been illegal for as long as I remember to make jokes or false statements about carrying dangerous items while at airport security, but this shouldn't be extended into making any statements about security or dangerous items while at airport security.

A car bombs makes a bigger bang than a bike bomb. I'd love to see a bumper sticker for cars reading "This could be a car bomb," but you know that instead of being taken as either a silly joke or a reminder to maintain constant vigilance, it would get you in trouble. They can be perfectly truthful statements, but if your t-shirt says "Some terrorists look like me" and there's a sticker on your computer saying "No explosive residue," you should probably be wearing underwear that says, "I knew I'd get strip searched today."

I'd buy that underwear, though.

And I'd need some new underwear were I forced to use this bicycle lane.

And finally, despite the really corny gaggle of geese, this animation of the US Airways landing in the Hudson River is very well done.


keisha4 said...

That was a really cool animation. Really hope it never happens to us. =)

Colin Summers said...

Of course, I hate the security theater. Very Orwellian.

zb said...

As I said some days ago: Up the bike punx.

I happen to know some of the folks who are friends with TBIAPB, and everyone thinks the earlier so-called incident at the university was very funny. I somehow never got one of the stickers, but I'd love to have one of them on my bike. At least I have a silk-screen print with TBIAPB on a t-shirt. I really think it's one of the coolest band names in history.

More seriously, I honestly believe that statistically, paranoia about possible terrorist attacks has already cost us more of the (time spent living)*(number of people alive) product than terrorism itself. With all the irrational fear around, I think it's safe to assume that quite many people suffer more from cardiovascular diseases, heart problems, blood pressure and metabolism issues and just general lack of quality of life than they actually need, and thus, more lives might be lost to the fear of terror than to terror itself. I'd really like to see a good scientific study with reliable numbers about this issue.

I don't want to say that terrorism is not a problem, but I am pretty sure it's less of a problem than many believe. Many terrorist attacks are designed to look impressive TV, and thus take advantage of our fears.

It's even in the news article you linked to: People obviously ran quite wildly over the streets at the airport to get their flights; and this was the really dangerous part about it.

As Colin Summers said, we are way past 1984.

Up the bike punx, oi.

Callsign Echo said...

@ zb, you've hit the nail on the head. That is the genius of terrorism. It's utilized by those with big goals, limited means, and no scruples.

When you don't have the resources to fight your enemy, the idea is to tie up their resources and sap their will to fight, by showing yourself willing to do anything, no matter how reprensible, to hurt them. In fact, the more evil the act, the better. If they hurt civilians and innocent third parties, an ethical opponent may stand down.

Hence the popularity of journalists and mediators as hostages in the Gulf Wars.

The whole idea is to create fear far out of proportion to ones actual ability to cause strategic harm. If your enemy is jumping at shadows, they hardly have time to cause problems for you.

Warn said...

I always just figured if you had a sticker on your bike that said "This bike is a pipe bomb." you should be perfectly unsurprised to get a box of charred bike pieces back with a note that says "Not anymore."

I reckon if you want to be edgy you should expect to get CUT :P

zb said...

I reckon if you want to be edgy you should expect to get CUT How can the cutting edge cut itself? :P

Warn said...

well to be edgy is to be *on* the cutting edge... not the cutting edge itself so... :P

Anonymous said...

The car sticker you asked for.