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Category: Interesting Reads

21 Years Later, We’re Still Taking Our Damn Shoes Off at the Airport Because of the Shoe Bomber

I’m about to go on a trip in the very near future, and one thing I will have to do before boarding the airplane (since I have applied, but have not been interviewed or approved for the Global Entry program) is take my shoes off and run them through the metal detector at an airport security checkpoint. Before Global Entry, everyone, regardless of who you were, had to take their shoes off and run them through the metal detector. It’s an inconvenience that came to life thanks to the man above – Richard Colvin Reid, also known as the Shoe Bomber.

On December 22, 2001, Reid boarded a Miami-bound flight from Paris wearing his special shoes that were packed with plastic explosives and a detonator cord that he would have to light. After he was reported to be acting strangely on the flight, Reid grabbed a woman who was curious about what he was doing (he was attempting to light the detonator cord attached to his shoe). Reid, a large man, was 6′ 4″ and weighed 215 pounds, was subdued by several passengers who used plastic handcuffs, seatbelt extensions, leather waist belts and headphone cords to restrain him. A doctor on board gave him a sedative from the emergency medical kit of the plane and they diverted course to Logan Airport in Boston, where he was immediately arrested on touchdown.

Apparently, the explosives didn’t detonate because of rainy weather in Paris – the detonator cord had become too wet in the Parisian rain.

So, the next time you’re stressed and late for your flight and have to take your shoes off at airport security, curse the name of Richard Reid. It’s all his fault.1Of course, if he’d been successful, this would have been a tragedy. Fortunately, fate decided to not cause anybody harm that day. Except for Reid, who was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and 110 years with no possibility of parole.

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Why I Would be a Super Villain

I love Batman. Always have. Always will.

I sucked it up and watched all but one of the 80’s/90’s Batman movies Batman & Robin. (Why anyone would look at that and think it was good is just crazy) and used to collect the comic books off and on, watched the crummy 60’s TV show in reruns when I was a kid, so don’t even try and not call me a Batman lover. Not in a Batman/Robin…you know…well…not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-that kind of way, but I’ve always enjoyed Batman. Bruce Wayne went from wimpy kid one minute to crazed future vigilante in the next with the death of his parents. He donned the cape, the mask, he became what criminals would fear, and he ruled, which was the best part.

Superman…yeah, he’s alright, but Batman was a normal person wailing on somebody. You could feel your blood pump and the adrenaline go up as he started in on, as the Fantastic Four’s Thing would say, “clobberin’ time.”

Batman never really cared much about the consequences of his actions like Superman did. Clark was always the fine upstanding man that he was raised to be and was supposed to be. He was good and kind and saw the world in black and white. But the world has never been black and white, sure there are good guys and bad guys, but sometimes the bad guys are on your side fighting for your interests The CIA in the 80’s trying to get rid of the communist Sandanistas in Central America, for instance and sometimes they’re not. Al Queda Sometimes they’re out for world domination and other times they just want money or power or something that makes them look sexy in the eyes of others. And it’s those reasons that would make me want to be a super villain. But not just your normal run-of-the-mill vanilla super villain. No sir. I’m looking to be unique, if possible.

Good guys always have to look out for the innocent bystanders and are racked with guilt if they cause an innocent life to be extinguished in the process of saving others. Look at the fight between Spiderman and Green Goblin towards the end of the first Spiderman movie I’ve read that Warner Bros, the studio that puts out the Superman films, is thinking of taking a hint from the Cristopher Nolan lead Batman films and that they might reboot the Superman series in a darker light. What are they thinking? Superman is sunny, Batman is dark. Is Superman not going to care what he does? He’s the son of Krypton sent to Earth to be this planet’s protector, not some gray-area hero.

Which is why it would be cool to be a supervillain. You just wouldn’t have to care. Your whole reason for living is to gain street cred, or cash, or babes, or something intangible that makes up for that horrific time in your life that made you that evil bastard that you became. And it would be fun because taking out your aggression is fun, even if it’s a planeload of people you’ve never met before, sure, one of them did something that they deserve a huge pounding for. Heat vision to the wing of the plane, that’s the way to do it.

I’d drive a cool car and live in some foreboding super-fortress in the Himalayas and have a legion of warriors at my beck and call and have minions, evil minions, that would do whatever I commanded. They’d probably be ninjas. Or some rogue paramilitary outfit that I have on my payroll. I’d be friends with dictators and international criminals and I’d naturally flaunt it in public, because what’s the fun in being a supervillain if you can’t rub it in the face of the people that you call your mortal enemies?

And I’d have to be best friends with my mortal enemy too, just like Magneto and Charles Xavier. I don’t know anybody who is bald and needs a wheel chair, but I’m evil. I’ll put someone in a wheelchair and then shave his head or something. And after I’ve been caught and put in some foolproof prison where only the hardest of the hard villains reside and my best friend comes and visits me we’ll reminiscence about the old days and I’ll make allusions like I’m planning to escape and he’ll threaten me in veiled terms and we’ll glare at each other and then we’ll laugh as I block his king with my knight in the game of chess we’ve been playing and I breathily whisper, “Checkmate.”

Now that’s a heck of a career right there.

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Dwight Schrute Loves Robots

From Dwight Schrute’s blog on NBC’s The Office webpage –

Why are robots always the villains? Why are robots always portrayed as shifty aggressors with ulterior motives? Why can’t robots be taken for what they are. Artificially intelligent creatures who are PROGRAMMED to serve humanity.

Whether it be household chores, factory work or the defense of our great nation, robots will someday be a valued members of our modern society.

Think about it. You can program them to vacuum your carpet, pick your kids up from school, make a sandwich, go to home depot… any manner of things.

A coffee maker is a robot.

Think about it:

“I want a cup of coffee. No, make that seven. I wan’t seven cups of coffee. I want those seven cups at 6:55 AM. I want seven cups of coffee,
extra-strong. I want the coffee maker to beep me a warning signal when the requisite cups have been brewed. I want those seven cups to be kept warm at a temperature of 103 degrees fareinheit until I have drunk every drop of hot coffee.” Etc… Etc…

That is robotics. Plain and simple.

Is that so dangerous? Are you afraid of your Mr. Coffee now? Are you switching to tea? No, you are not. You love your little coffee robot.

Now a robot is not to be confused with an android. Androids are humanoid robots. Programmed to behave just like a human being. Facial expressions, emotions, even defacation.

The potential for evil being perpetrated in the world is much greater coming from an android rather than from a coffee maker.

Androids could, even now, be walking among us. Probably the creation of another race. And i don’t mean the Chinese. I mean aliens. Aliens would definitely have the technology to make a humanoid android. One that could fit seamlessly into modern day society and yet be beaming up information about humanity to the mother-ship. Look around you. Now look around you again. Now look around you A G A I N.

Think about it.

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I Will Be 66 Years Old When the World Ends

There is a huge freaking asteroid 2,000 feet long out there in the cosmos called 99942 Apophis. In cosmic terms, 2,000 feet is very small. But what’s so special about this asteroid? It may hit the planet in 2036.

The concern: Within the object’s range of possible fly-by distances lie a handful of gravitational “sweet spots,” areas some 2,000 feet across that are also known as keyholes.

The physics may sound complex, but the potential ramifications are plain enough. If the asteroid passes through the most probable keyhole, its new orbit would send it slamming into Earth in 2036. It’s unclear to some experts whether ground-based observatories alone will be able to provide enough accurate information in time to mount a mission to divert the asteroid, if that becomes necessary.

Timing is everything, astronomers say. If officials attempt to divert the asteroid before 2029, they need to nudge the space rock’s position by roughly half a mile – something well within the range of existing technology. After 2029, they would need to shove the asteroid by a distance as least as large as Earth’s diameter. That feat would tax humanity’s current capabilities.


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Wireless Monitoring of Laundry

Back in 1990 during my freshman year of college one of my friends had gone home for the weekend with his laundry and had accidentally returned with a pair of his sister’s underwear. We naturally devised a prank on some poor guy who was doing his wash with his girlfriend. As he pulled each item out of the dryer she would fold it for him, and when he got to the girl’s underwear, he made a face and she cried out, “Oh god, Paul, no!”

We died laughing. When they figured it was a joke they did too, fortunately. He was a big mutha.

Anyway, looks like now you can get info from a web browser on how your laundry is coming along.

This is not nearly as good as the story, but it’s nice.

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ITER Now Scheduled for France

Well, I guess the French can kiss that American money goodbye on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. The Japanese got some perks out of letting the Frogs have the reactor ($500 million worth of contracts for constructing ITER could go to Japanese companies, Japan could provide 20% of the 200 researchers in return for meeting 10% of the total cost, blah blah blah), but it just seems like another France vs. U.S. situation to me. My prediction? Look for a possible proposal of a competing reactor in the States.

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