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Recently we flew to Italy, allowing enough time to go through airport security. The checkpoints have been beefed up since 9/11, and I have no quarrel with the resulting inconvenience. My beef is that I don't feel a single bit safer with the Mickey Mouse rules. Consider the following points.

1. Some of the rules are just plain silly. What magical properties do quart sized clear plastic bags have that X-rays don't detect? If they convey such power, why not cover the entire aircraft with them? Then there'd be no casualties in case of crash.

2. Don't you secretly believe the guy who ordered shoe removal harbors a foot fetish? BTW, not all airports enforce the shoe removal rule. Why is it a requirement in one airport and not another?

3. The observers are not all that diligent. One time, the X-ray machine detected something suspicious in my carry on. The guard asked what it was and I replied that it was my Hohner harmonica. With that, and without further checking, she waved me through. Now, if I were a terrorist, I'd not have been inclined to tell her it was a miniature thermonuclear device I'd perfected, but I guess the air marshals know that terrorists are a much more honorable lot and don't have to check these things.

4. The observers are not all that vigilant. One time, a colleague with whom I was traveling together was stopped because she had a book of matches, under the theory she might have given the pilot the dreaded hot foot. The matchbook was a souvenir from a noted restaurant for my colleague's father-in-law, who had a collection. The security guard put the matches down and checked the rest of my colleague's carry on, while I, having already gone through security and waiting for my friend, surreptitiously slipped the offending matches into my pocket and subsequently onto the plane. Note to the FAA: I did not give the pilot a hot foot, much as I was tempted.

I'm sure you all have your own peeves. For me, I'll trust the government rules when they get the Department of Motor Vehicles straightened out, in the next few millennia.


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