Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, December 18, 2004

  I take my axe on a plane

In the air of idiotic oppression that we face ("Der Papers? Vere are der papers?") in the post 9/11 US, I've been acting on my right as an American - to tweak the system, to laugh at it, and to roll with the punches.

My last plane flight was a hoot. I brought on board a Traveler guitar. It's 30 inches long and 7 inches wide - it meets the airline's requirements for the size of carry-on baggage - and fits into an overhead compartment nicely.

I arrived at the airport early, prepared to check in my guitar if I had to, but hoping I wouldn't - as the subzero cold in the luggage compartment of an aircraft is really hard on guitars.

I waited in line, having fun demonstrating the guitar to various passengers that inquired about it.

... Just to be especially annoying to security I was also traveling with a bag of suspicious looking tobacco and a pipe in a convienently located outside pocket, as, like John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, I've had a sneaking suspicion that that the baggage searches were for more than just explosives.

They let the backpack full of tobacco pass, but had a conniption at the guitar. The security team X-rayed it. Twice. They tried to pry open the graphic eq compartment. They had a hurried consultation - The rules say you can't bring a club on board an airplane, and specifically prohibit billy clubs and golf clubs...

Now, look, my axe - this guitar - "El Kabong" - could be used as a weapon, as it's carved from a block of solid alderwood. In the hands of a pissed off Pete Townsend type, swung around a compartment, it could wreak havoc, and the steel strings, once removed, could be used as 5 garrotes. (it's a 6 string guitar - but the G string is .09mm and breaks on a mere bend. On an unwilling neck it would snap instantly.)

This guitar is even more dangerous to others when played amplified. People have a tendency to get up and leave the room. That would be fatal on an airplane.

I was hyperaware of security, as I waited patiently by the exit line, fully expecting at any moment to be taken to a dark room, put under the hot lights, and strip searched. I'd brought my 2nd amendment underwear for just that eventuality, and sheet music to Dylan's "Times they are a changin".

But, no, El Kabong didn't fit any of the catagories of prohibited equipment. The security officer politely handed it back to me. Later on, we in the back of the aircraft had a blast passing it around playing all sorts of music: bluegrass, blues, folk. It seemed like one out of six passengers could play a little guitar.

It's a friendly, and friend making - instrument. Yet:

Me and my axe on that flight were potentially far more dangerous to others than a lousy pair of prohibited tweezers... and that's the elaborate point I wanted to make - a weapon is only as dangerous as the person that carries it. Period.

Tweezers, screwdrivers, guns and guitars don't kill people.

I'll keep on checking in early, and taking my guitar on board, and wondering how long til the government starts prohibiting musical instruments as potential terrorist weapons?

Play a banjo, go to jail. You! Step away from that flute and put your hands in the air!
 

  Doc on a roll, Barlow free on bail

...with a great article in Newsweek about A list bloggers, and podcasting.

I had a ball catching with Doc's blog this week, I must have opened up 20 tabs in mozilla to read everything he referred to.

I'm somewhere in the back rows of the B - for bleeding - list - but I like to see some phrases and thinking that I may have originated have entered the memesphere - a comparison like: A good idea gets amplified by the "echo chamber" of the blogosphere. It need not be the original thought of the blogger. In fact, as scientists from the HP Information Dynamics Lab wrote in a paper titled "Implicit Structure and the Dynamics of Blogspace," ideas move on the blogosphere like viruses; the alpha bloggers spread concepts like Typhoid Marys.
echos what I wrote in Inside the internet mind a year and a half ago, tho I think I said it better, with less negative connotations (I'd hate to be compared to Typhoid Mary in Newsweek). Go read Inside the internet mind, and see if ya learn anything more about how ideas spread. There's some great visuals in it.

Speaking of echoing and amplifying thoughts, I was profoundly influenced by John Perry Barlow's writings in the early 90s, and he's facing jailtime for allegedly hauling some illegal substances through an airport. I would have enjoyed helping pack the courtroom yesterday, but I was too busy working. I hope he posts an update on the case soon. I do love the trend of posting court documents to the net; it strikes me that justice is far better served by serving up documents this way than by reporters slothfully writing some spin doctor's tale down down outside the courtroom.
 

  Music on my watch

OK, so I went christmas shopping yesterday. I came away with a weird present for myself, a Xonix mp3 player/watch with 256!! MB of flash storage. It also records (I'm someone that keeps losing his cell phone, and has misplaced multiple tape decks and digital recorders, so having something attached to my body that can record is why I bought this gadget)

The audio recording capability quite good, possibly even good enough to do voice recognition on (I'll try that later today)... and I'm sitting here listening to a high quality rendition of Pink Floyd's Animals, recorded at 256Kbit VBR...

... on my watch. I still can't get over it. 256MB... on my watch. I have room on this thing to load up a complete rescue linux OS, hell, my watch could BE my OS, and

Of course, I'd like a few other features, like a speaker, and alarm, and I don't know how long the battery lasts for (it recharges from the usb port) -

It's a little bulky, but, jeeze... 256MB... on my watch!! That's more storage than I had on my laptop 10 years ago. I could store my entire lifetime's written output on the thing and still have 254MB left over....

 
David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


Resume,Songs,
My new blog, NeX-6, My facebook page
Orgs I like
The EFF - keeping free speech in the world
Musical stuff I like
Jeff, Rick, Ardour, Jack
Prior Rants - Wireless and Wifi in 2015 - not what I dreamed of Saving wifi! Fixing Bufferbloat! Fighting the vend... Virgin Media - Fixing the epidemic of bufferbloat ... 49... and trying to find my navel Wheels down on mars! Tracking the landing of Curiosity, from Seattle spotting NEOs from around venus's orbit Asteroids as lunar orbit resources SOPA is bad news Departing France for England, then 'home'.
Best of the blog:
Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Where's Cherie?
UrbanAgora
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
Evan Hunt
The Bay Area is talking
Brizzled
Zimnoiac Emanations
Eric Raymond
Unlocking The Air
Bob Mage
BroadBand & Me
SpaceCraft
Selenian Boondocks
My Pencil
Transterrestial Musings
Bear Waller Hollar
Callahans
Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member

If you really want to, you can poke through the below links as well.

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