Magicians that travel

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Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 3rd, 2005, 6:19 am

I am a libertarian. I travel. I am pissed off. For details, read on.

Do you feel safer now that lighters and matches are not allowed on commercial flights? Recently TSA decreed that neither checked nor carry-on baggage will be allowed with those items aboard. Not that they have technology to detect them in your checked bags. But by search, random or otherwise, if said items are found (is it constitutional?), TSA can then pursue "legal recourse." By that I mean, GODDAMNIT. What if you are a professional entertainer that uses fire and similar items in their act? I posed the question last week at a poolside party at the mansion of Kentucky hayseed turned millionaire Mac King, Las Vegas' funniest magician (assuming I am sick that day).

Most of the people I talked to seem to find the well-meaning TSA a bit pathetic and laugh it off. But that acceptance of these edicts leaves me raging for several reasons. Recently a client of mine, a socialite from Los Angeles, told me she will not fly much commercially anymore. She flashed her gold Dunhill lighter and silver cigarette case to make the point: "don't cramp my style." We both agreed that the increase in time expense is even more onerous. Surely by now, after 9/11, it is totaled in the TRILLIONS of dollars. Meanwhile "soft targets" (I won't list them here, it is too scary) are available to be terrorized. The friendly skies frighten us, but with their COSTS and intrusions on our liberties. Analogously, in cities, citizens drive the roads at costs of lives every single day. If we make it perfectly secure, we cannot drive; the security costs outweigh the benefits. Even a liberal would agree! Is the recent TSA decree the tipping point between liberty and tyranny?

Here in Las Vegas, the tipping point starts at the valet and it doesn't end until you get home.

Back to the matter at hand, one guest said he has always traveled with lighter fluid in a contact lens solution bottle (I hope the search nazis don't ever ask him to USE it to prove it!). Another showbiz guy said he has always hidden his fire material in three different places in his checked luggage. "If they find one or two, I've got them outfoxed with a backup," he said. But should we have to become criminals or "persons of interest" to ply our trade? My friend Bunny Martin, the original YoYo champion from Dallas, used to do 20 minutes in his act explaining what a HotBook is, and then talking about getting stopped by security at an airport. Now ironically, he cannot even DO the routine outside of his metropolitain area. Workarounds are offered by laymen: "just ship it ahead, buy one onsite, pack seven in your suitcase" Boy yes, the options abound. TWENTY MINUTES TO AN ENTERTAINER COULD BE WORTH MILLIONS. Most of us have to travel. This is my rant, my peeve, and the reason I write this.

After this recent ruling, I was on my way to Louisville for a gig at the Kentucky Derby. I was psyched. I almost missed my flight. Why? I thought I had "suitably handled" all my fire effects. By that, I mean I cannot tell you what I did, not by any means of transmission or publication. I could be subject to prosecution and get legally recoursed. That is why this is the Ultimate InnerSecrets of pissed off. Why should a magician have to "fuss" around with this. And by that I mean [censored].

The backup to get to the search was huge that Saturday. Like some nightmare version of Disneyland, passengers were herded through those maddening rope maze lines. After about an hour zigzagging around the stanchions, carrying baggage that sorta hurt my fingers (already starting to get pissed off), I was stopped by a well meaning TSA agent. I was told there was a lighter seen by x-ray in my briefcase. He took me to the side, and emptied my entire act onto the table. Rope was asked to be explained, suspicious in itself. The Magic Switchboard looks suspicious to him. A watchwinder (my prized possession and trademark). I couldn't explain it without causing a scene. Mom used to tell me not to run with scissors. Now we cannot fly with them. Mom said not to play with matches. Now we cannot WORK with them.

The well-meaning TSA guy knew there was a lighter there somewhere. "Oh no!" I thought as I buttoned my pants and put my shoes back on (further pissed off), "it's my FireWallet that concludes my favorite effect in my standup show..." I had forgotten to "suitably handle" it. He took the now half empty bag (with that particular gimmick still in it) back to the x-ray. He came back, and said he had to find that lighter, the well meaning TSA technician saw in the reading. He started to hoist the briefcase to the table. "That's not my bag." He ambled back the 30 feet to the machine to get MY briefcase. Astute, those well-meaning TSA agents. After another bag search, he still couldn't find it, so he explained it away as an illusion caused by the overlapping images of various mettalia in my bag. (Side note: it reminds me of the unbelievable and provocative "shadow art" as seen in the wonderful book Masters of Illusion. Highly recommended.) I reassembled all my bags and got ready to join another line. Waiting in lines to stand in lines. Unnecessary bureaucrats are pleasant, but quiet desperation must be the lot for these useless yet well-meaning drones. Was the pre 9/11 "random/lottery" system of security better? That's the one we willingly accept on our highways every day.

What do the fire-eaters do? What do the people do that SELL lighters and matches? Are they pissed off too?

I feel better now.

Peter Studebaker

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 3rd, 2005, 6:38 am

Did you get your national ID card yet?

Have you been approved to travel across state lines?

Does your act contain any "questionable" material?

I'm waiting for someone to make a fire-book out a Quoran or get asked to explain a mismade flag at an airport. That would likely make the news.

Do you feel any safer now?

As it happens, I'm a registered Republican and I have many concerns about practices that interfere with the flow of goods and services in our economy. That which inconveniences service providers and slows down transit and raises travel costs is not a benefit to our economy.

It costs a lot to terrorize our citizens. Money better spent in making, selling and buying goods and services.

Yeah that's about magic. Magicians provide a service.

I'm gonna end this with a joke: Imagine an ISO:9001 procedures book for a magician.
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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Paul Green » June 3rd, 2005, 7:54 am

Yes, the world of traveling has really taken on a new palor as we must plan on "the search".

One solution is to ship your questionable props via FedEx or UPS to the gig. Sounds ridiculous but it is a solution if you need the props.

For as long as I have been in the business of Close-Up, I have always had to perform for the TSA people as I have gone through security.

Gosh durn it! Another gig with no pay!


Paul Green


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 3rd, 2005, 9:57 am

I hate to tell you this but there were carriers that prohibited lighters on flights (as they contain flamable liquids) over 20 years ago. The TSA is just catching up with them. Since you are aware of the regulations you now know you can ship your flamables with a carrier who will delivery it to your hotel or performing location.

I deal with the TSA and other regulatory agencies daily and I don't agree with how they handle things but unfortunately they have to make encompassing regulations or deal with an onslaught of a-hole lawyers who love nothing more than trying to cause problem and bill the very govt. they harrass endlessly for their time. They want good security but cannot fire all the morons working security or people will scream and file suits. They want to check certain individuals closely but if they do that people will scream and file suits. Can't win for losing.
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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby timbrown » June 3rd, 2005, 1:19 pm

Who is the moron? The security person who must rescan a bag in order to find a pair of scissors, pack of matches, lighter fluid, etc., thus causing the line of impatient people to grow?

Or is it the person who, after standing in line reading the many signs that specifically list items which are not permitted in carry-on bags, insists on sending these banned items through the scanner?

I fly too damned much as a business traveler and I too hate the process. I also would like to take a pocket knife or nail clipper on board with me. But I don't because I know that it isn't legal and I know that if I do I will only add to the delay and frustration of the thousands of others that are in line behind me.


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 3rd, 2005, 2:23 pm

I'm with you Mr. Tim. To be honest I try to fly as little as possible, hate to fly. I want to speak to the pilot and make sure he is in a good mood, I want to watch them fill the tank, I want the %#(#@$ wings de-iced in the middle of July and it is 90 degrees outside. I've not stepped on a plane in years but I know the rules and wouldn't bring anything along that I know would cause a problem....I'd be enough of a problem searching people myself in the waiting area before boarding.
Steve V

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Ryan Matney » June 3rd, 2005, 6:30 pm

Does nobody else find it funny that Peter Studebaker registered on this forum just so he could bitch and cuss with one post? :D

I agree with Tim. You know it's coming so why not just ship your props ahead or work out a couple substitute routines. Seems a bit odd that somone would continually keep trying to get their illegal items on the plane after the first time. I don't know, I don't do fire or all.
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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 4th, 2005, 6:33 am

Ryan, I did not do this just to bitch and cuss. I spent several days writing this, both as a writing project, and wanting to find the solution through thoughtful feedback.

I have lurked the Genii Forum for years, and true, I have never felt compelled to register and post. Is that a bad thing? With welcoming comments like yours, I see why I prefer other uses for my time.

I apologize if my adult language offended anyone...but in each case it was reviewed, and included either for emphasis or humor. I thought this topic might interest some of the readers here. More importantly, I am hoping for a common sense solution. I emailed this to journalists, libertarian and conservative think tanks, BIC Corporation (I have friends there), lawyers, and scores of showbiz professionals.

I have received interest in publication from several mainstream publications, either as an article or letter to the editor. Dozens of responses and phone calls have come in. Yes, I want to "start a fire" with the topic.

Those that suggest "workarounds" such as replacing the material, or shipping ahead, thanks, but it misses the point. Are we safer with the new rules? I feel the answer is NO. If the tools of the plumber, doctor or other professional were banned from travel by air, I think the solution would have already been put forward. In the Nanny State, magicians are second class (if that) citizens. I have a large loud atheist magician friend that works at the Rio, and he says it is "one word: freedom." He is succinct, and for me, irrefutable.

As to scofflaws that take banned material aboard, hidden and packed away anyway: is it hubris or civil disobedience that has some professionals flaunting the rules? Some mixture, I think.

People that have a problem with that, maybe they never drive over 55 mph either. I welcome safer skies, and I support our troops. But I refuse to let blind patriotism blind me to idiocy.

Now if the TSA would only ban JoAnne the Duck and Linking Rings...that is something we could ALL get behind!

Please no flames-pun intended-this is all my opinion, fwiw.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Tabman » June 4th, 2005, 9:53 am

I have a 71 Eagle Buffalo tour bus for sale. Good condition. Drive anywhere. Buy this and stop flying commercial. No CDL needed to drive. Registered as a motorhome.


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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Dave Egleston » June 4th, 2005, 10:52 am

Though I have nothing as secret as a flaming wallet -

I travel all over the country with tools required for Imaging Equipment repair (Mostly x-ray equipment) including a butane soldering iron, a leatherman tool, files, and screwdrivers.

Most of the time I check my larger tool case so that's not a problem

As with most things in life - it seems your problem is a "communication" problem

If you tell the travel agent what the reason for your flight is and tell them what it is you do for a living/hobby they will get clearance for you to carry that which is necessary for you to do your job, or provide you with an alternative.

If you play the "mysterious magician" with these security guards, you're going to be scrutinized very closely and possibly detained. They're not paid to be cajoled and entertained - They are there to eliminate that which has been deemed as a possible threat to both your fellow passengers and our nation.
They are not going to make a judgment call - they have specific regulations and rules to follow and being lower echelon government workers they are not going to do anything that involves creative thinking or can't be enforced by a specific regulation.

One phone call ahead of time will eliminate a major hassle at the security point.

If in fact you are flying to these places for jobs, then I suggest you build into your contract a clause that will include the cost of "overnighting" your performance equipment, this is pretty standard in a lot of other fields that require specialized equipment.

No one likes what is happening at the airports, but as has been stated here and in previous posts; there are specific rules that are very easy to follow - why stir up [censored] if you don't have to?

If you think you might have a problem - you can avert it with communication.

(I editied this post for a redundant sentence and a misused preposition)


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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Eric Rose » June 4th, 2005, 12:17 pm

I've logged more miles both as a business traveller and a performer than I care to think about. (However, I will happily accept the frequent flyer miles so I can travel even more. Psychoses know no bounds.) As an experiment I loaded my case with every known metal and suspicious looking prop I could find to test out the security. I carried a couple folded up USPS boxes for shipping stuff home just in case I couldn't get it on the plane. There were no problems at my home airport (Indianapolis). I assumed that it was because they knew me. I figured that I would have big problems on the return trip from LAX. As I put the bag on the conveyor I signalled the TSA and said "You'll want to search this one. Everyone does. It's full of weird stuff - I'm a magician. He passed the message onto the screener and my bag entered the tunnel-o-radiation. I got through the metal detector and looked back. Several guys were looking at the screen and pointing, then they looked at me. I expected all heck to break loose but instead, they got big smiles, waved to me and sent my bag through. Go figure.

I now announce proudly that I am a magician and they'll want to search my bag. Only about 1 in 10 does now as opposed to the 30% or so before. Is it luck, good karma or just my innocent baby face? Who knows.

Now, the disclaimer: I stopped carrying lighters and cut out a couple minor tricks that use them. I now travel with round nosed safety scissors for backstage repair work. Am I happy about this? Not at all. Unfortunately they aren't going to change the rules for me. I also show up at the airport an hour earlier for flights just in case it's the 10% search time. The post-9/11 world just isn't as nice as we thought the pre-9/11 world was.


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 5th, 2005, 6:40 am

Dave, do you think a Travel Agent can do what you say with one phone call? And if it is that easy, why have restrictions in the first place? If I ship it ahead, won't it go into the cargo hold of an airplane? If you meant to say TSA agent, I think you are mistaken, as most anybody that has dealt with beauracracies can tell you that they will enforce rules rather than make exceptions (especially requiring initiative or "executive decisions").

Guys, I appreciate your ideas, but they mostly assume that there is some real safety issue involved. I assert that there is not. True, I have no "TSA" insignia on my sleeve, but my common sense tells me that the rules are bogus.

Thinking about this issue, I wondered if there was a specific threat or scenario that prompted tighter restrictions. A deterrent to flag-burners? Or if a scenario presented itself, do the costs of prevention outweigh the benefits? Again, put aside my personal situation...I imagine there are worse stories out there (I have heard a few in response to this essay).

My final line was a real question: What do the fire eaters do? I will find alternatives, not sure that is an option for all affected by this.

BTW, I never act "mysterious magician" or similar attitude. If they ask, I tell. But some of the items belie description, and doing my act in airport security ain't an option...

Defenders of the current idiocy are a minority, based on responses I've seen in my inbox. There are many sheep of the "it's the law, get over it" camp. I say to them, "if not now, when? If not us, who?"

again, my opinions, fwiw. regards to all in friendship, Peter

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Steve Snediker » June 5th, 2005, 8:34 am

To Peter: Welcome to the Genii Forum. For whatever reason you de-cloaked and fired your plasma neutron blaster, we are all better for it.

I enjoyed and was provoked by your post. Both different emotions. Both valid responses. Both proof that I'm still alive.

No question...It is lunacy to travel by air. I just sent my 17 year old son off to Ireland an hour ago and watched the silliness happen right before my eyes. A group of military guys with overstuffed duffels got the "bomb sniffer" screening. A little dab here, a little swipe there. Into the sniffer machine and "Presto" - nada ding. Odds are that these guys HAVE handled gunpowder, explosives, etc. in the last few days legitimately - but the sniffer didn't smell it. Does it ever?

I have travelled as a media producer over the last twenty years and am amazed at how many times the shotgu microphone on my video camera gets mistaken as a gun barrel. Even when they open the bag, and find the microphone, they still look more, like that couldn't have been it.

God forbid I should ever answer the question, "Why are you travelling to D.C.?" with the jargon "It's a shooting trip."

I don't even own a gun.

For the wonder of it all...

Steve Snediker


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 5th, 2005, 11:47 am

Originally posted by Peter Studebaker:
Defenders of the current idiocy are a minority, based on responses I've seen in my inbox. There are many sheep of the "it's the law, get over it" camp. I say to them, "if not now, when? If not us, who?"


I hope I'm not belittling your point when I say that, to me, it's a matter of perspective. I'm no more pleased by some of the ridiculous search procedures or this ludicrous lighter ban than anybody, but I'm not going to embark on a campain of civil disobedience for something that I see as mostly a minor nuisance. There are, in my opinion a host of other more pressing infringements of civil liberties to fight. I won't list them because I don't want to turn your thread over to other areas of politics, but suffice to say that lighter ban is not that high on my priorities.

Still, I can call my congressman and tell him that I think the TSA procedures are a joke. (Particularly when cargo isn't screened.) That's something we can all do easily. It may not be much, but you never know.

Best wishes,



Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 5th, 2005, 12:30 pm

Not belittling my point--which is that the situation applies beyond myself. Thanks for the reply.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Bill Mullins » June 5th, 2005, 2:05 pm

Originally posted by Peter Studebaker:
Thinking about this issue, I wondered if there was a specific threat or scenario that prompted tighter restrictions. A deterrent to flag-burners?
Richard Reid is the source of restrictions on lighters and matches:
See Here

I agree that the restrictions are not a logical or efficient or cost-effective response to the threat. Yet, still they exist, and trying to hide stuff is not an effective way to change them.

To me, the craziest thing about the current regs is shoes (again, in response to Reid). The TSA's own web page says that "You are NOT REQUIRED to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector." (see here). ) The "traffic director" at Washington Reagan made the same announcement the last time I was through there. But if you don't take off your shoes to go through the metal detector, they pick you for secondary screening, during which you have to take off your shoes.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Andy Hurst » June 5th, 2005, 2:11 pm

I think it's ridiculous too. It's not just magicians it affects, what if you are a professional terrorist?

Are they meant to fed-ex their semtex, fuses, timers and other explosive devices ahead? How crazy is that? Most professional terrorists don't have a safe forwarding address.

It's all shocking.


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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Brian Marks » June 5th, 2005, 3:57 pm

look, I too am libertarian. I too agree that it is ridiculous. RK prefers no politics so i don't bring it up although I just did.

I had a TSA agent spend 5 minutes looking at my Todd Lassen coin shell. Richard Reid wasn't using trick coins.

I am not sure I am confortable with lighter onboard a plane. Less confortable with matches. There is no reason to have them on a plane as you can get them anywhere. Using a specific one in a show, ship it.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Robert Allen » June 5th, 2005, 8:09 pm

I haven't had to fly since 9/whatever happened (when I was in fact out of town and grounded for that week.) I prefer not to fly since I don't want to get the beat-down/anal-probe/shipped-of-to-Gitmo for objecting to treatment at the hands of the TSA.

To answer the question, I don't see how anyone can reliably travel anymore if you have to carry tools of your trade. You can't lock the luggage because they want to search it sometimes (even non-carryon), yet they will not insure loss due to lack of said locking. You can't carry a lighter on but matches light just as well and a wine bottle full of naptha is just as dangerous as a shoe bomb.

What's next, insisting that people who know martial arts be handcuffed for the duration of the flight?

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Joe M. Turner » June 6th, 2005, 5:21 am

Nine / 'Whatever?' Is this the level we've reached, not even four years after the fact? Unbelievable. Nineteen terrorists murder thousands of our countrymen in an attack on our own soil, and we are now calling it "whatever." Great. I really hope I misread the tone of that remark.

I'm not thrilled about all the TSA does either, and yes, I sometimes feel inconvenienced when I travel (especially by mindless P.C. searches that ignore the pervading physical characteristics of our known enemies). I have had to step aside a couple of times for a more thorough search, but generally nothing beyond a few swipes with a wand, a minor examination of something unusual in my pocket or bag, or a couple of questions. I rarely get stopped now as I take ten seconds to think ahead about what I'm wearing and carrying when I fly. In fact, I'm pretty sure that none of my inconveniences has yet reached the level of having my flight diverted into the side of a building.

I am damned fortunate to get to do what I do for a living. I travel regularly and have learned how to get the things I need to the places I need them with relatively little whining and almost no bloodshed.


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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Brian Morton » June 6th, 2005, 7:13 am


"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-- Benjamin Franklin

brian :cool:

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Joe M. Turner » June 6th, 2005, 7:32 am

Gosh, you're right, BWM. Perhaps we should have no restrictions at all on carry-on items for air travel. After all, even 1 prohibited item is "sacrificing our liberty." Unfasten your seat belts, leave the tray table down, and break out your laptops and cellphones... it's party time!

On the other hand, perhaps Ben's quote isn't really meant to allow us to equate "I can't bring one of my magic tricks onboard in my carry-on bag..." with "Oops, there goes my essential liberty." :rolleyes:

Inconvenience is not the same as oppression.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Hannibal » June 6th, 2005, 8:06 am

"Maybe you could look a little less threatening as you walk through the airport."

"Less Threatening?? What ... should I carry a balloon and a Hello Kitty Lunchbox?"

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Mr. Stickley » June 6th, 2005, 8:07 am


Hey fellow Vegas magi. When I fly with my stuff (and yes I do some fire eating), I simply pack and check my torches with the rest of my props. With the advent of a Walgreens on every corner in America (and soon the world), getting fluid has never been an issue (I was a bit worried in Hong Kong about finding my preffered fuel - it took me 5 min. 7-11 has it there too!).

As far as being scared to check your stuff, you can get replacement insurance (all your work tools should be insured anyhow) pretty easy and make it clear with the client - you need your stuff. If they are very worried about it, have them courier or overnight it on their nickle. Haven't had a problem.


P.S. - This isn't to say that TSA isn't a joke. How many terrorists or bad guys would f*&k with a plane if they knew every passenger onboard was carrying a gun. Somethin' to think about.


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 6th, 2005, 8:20 am

Chill Joe.

I received that Ben Franklin quote from many, many responses, among scores I have received from performers, academics, journalists and lawyers.

It is easy to get into a nit-picking contest, but missing again the wider issue: is it ANY safer? are there others more "inconvenienced" than me (us)? Isn't it the edicts and accompanying inefficiencies of TSA causing the bottlencks and slowdowns?

Notice I always referred to "well-meaning" TSA staff. They were very polite, truly. But similar to criticizing schools or the post office or the military, someone will jump on you for suggesting possible improvements.

There are those that defend government programs based on the "...if it saves ONE LIFE, it is worthwhile" camp. Any actuarian can refute, but if it was rational, then the speed limit would be zero. Think about it.

Common sense I seek. A Traveller's Card for express passage might help, but not sure that it addresses all the issues, plus opens another can of worms.

So I am not saying to eliminate security in the air, Joe, or on the ground. That was my reference to the "tipping point." When is too much too much?

In magic, Peter

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 6th, 2005, 8:29 am

Peter it costs good money to terrorize the American public and keep us in fear. Care to donate more time and effort to help that cause?

More to the point, security is an illusion. The sun could go nova, or a meteor could hit. What makes our society secure is not police, weapons or fear so much as the simple self interst of our fellow citizens. It is simply not in our self interst to disrupt the flow of goods and services.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby timbrown » June 6th, 2005, 8:37 am

Mr. Studebaker,

To answer your question (which is the premise for your argument):

Is it any safer?

The answer is obviously yes, yes, yes. While I doubt that the security is flawless I think that it is obvious that it is much more difficult to carry a knife, gun or metal boxcutter onto an airplane. So the increased security, while far from perfect, has undoubtedly had the intended result.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Pete Biro » June 6th, 2005, 8:51 am

Go on the TSA website and download the rules.

You can carry guns (checked) etc., and you can LOCK you bags (after inspection) and you can even by TSA locks to use.

Buy trip insurance. It doesn't cost much.

Learfn to play by the isn't that difficult.
Stay tooned.

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Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 6th, 2005, 8:55 am

Originally posted by Tim Brown:
...The answer is obviously yes, yes, yes....
We can't possibly know that till we find out how well some equally misguided and ill people do in a similar attempt... which i find revolting to even consider.

The premise of detectable weapons being the entire of an effective arsenal for close quarters confrontation is laughably false. Clever people find clever uses for seemingly ordinary items. I wish they would apply that kind of thinking to more constructive ends.

The question of how to transport materials for performances is its own matter. How to do bad things or how safe we are is also its own topic, and not a nice one.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 6th, 2005, 9:11 am

Mr. Brown,

Thanks for the reply. If you read my piece, not once did I advocate knives, guns, or box cutters. I only want to do my job, there are others in the same boat. The wider implications are ominous.

So my premise refers to the NEW rules, wherein I think the answer of yes yes yes, is facile at best. If some small margin of extra safety is created in the particular aircraft, is it just displaced, or through inefficiency security resources are actually squandered, thus rendering us less secure (again, speed limit zero, yadda yadda).

I have a post to follow, and then may go quiet on this. My intention was not to argue over nitpicky items...but to point out that something has gotta give. Back to card tricks! friend Peter

Robert Allen
Posts: 616
Joined: March 18th, 2008, 11:53 am

Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Robert Allen » June 6th, 2005, 9:13 am

Pete, the "rules" state:

"In some cases screeners will have to open your baggage as part of the screening process. If your bag is unlocked then TSA will simply open and screen the baggage.

"However, if you decide to lock your checked baggage and TSA cannot open your checked baggage through other means, then the locks may have to be broken. TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes.

"TSA suggests that you help prevent the need to break your locks by using a TSA recognized locking mechanism. These "special" locks can be opened by TSA using tools provided to us by the luggage industry members.

"Please refrain from packing valuable items in your checked baggage.

"Air carrier liability is limited to $2500 per ticketed passenger for travel on or after December 1, 1999

"Air carrier has no liability for photographic equipment, computers, VCRs and any other electronic equipment including software or components, jewelry, cash, documents, furs, works of art or other similar valuable items.

"Other items that are not covered in the air carrier limit of liability include, but are not limited to: antiques, books, china, fragile items, liquids, medicines, perishable items, securities and negotiable papers or silverware."

So as discussed earlier, the rules are that you should not lock your checked baggage, unless you want to risk having your locks broken, or unless you want to buy the 'special' TSA locks which can be opened by Joe-random-TSA employee. And if various expensive things disappear from your checked baggage, which you haven't locked or which has been forced open by inspection, the air carrier is not liable for your loss. And since the bags are handled both by TSA people and by airline luggage handlers, both sides can point fingers at 'the other guy' when something does disappear.

I mean, a ban on lighters. Sheesh.


Further inspection of pages off the TSA page showed me some of the approved travel locks. None of them would work on my piece of Samsonite luggage and I can't believe I'm the only person who has the type of luggage I have.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8171
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY

Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 6th, 2005, 9:14 am

Okay, I'm gonna ask the BIG question ...

How do you travel with your set of cut-no cut shears and the rest of the goodies for a club or stage act?

Is it feasible to ship the stuff overnight and it gets there on time?

Does one have to own and maintain two setups and have them shipped ahead of time?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 6th, 2005, 9:17 am

From the many many responses came this, attached to a note from an economist I know. He has some resposibility for getting this topic as the 2006 National High Scool Debate topic, thanks in part to my original email.

>>>quoted material follows:

This Is America?
Published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty - July 2002
by James R. Otteson

I have long had an uneasy relationship with airport security. Before
September 11, I resisted the demand that I produce a government-
issued ID, believing that it smacked too much of the Papers, please
of the former Soviet Union that Hollywood movies used to mock and we
free Americans used to laugh at.

I also used to withhold permission to search my bags. On one occasion
before September 11, in the Birmingham, Alabama, airport, the
security guard was nonplussed when I answered no to her perfunctory
request for permission to search my briefcase. I told her, and then
her supervisor, and eventually a man who identified himself as the
head of security at the airport, that I am protected by the
Constitution from unreasonable searches and seizures. I showed him
the Fourth Amendment in the copy of the Constitution I always take
with me when I travel. It meant, I said, that unless they had either
a warrant or probable cause to suspect me of some crime, they had no
right to demand to search my bag. They admitted that they had
neither, but, in what was then a shocking revelation and now seems
only to have been ahead of its time, the chief of security said:
Well, you have your law; I have mine.

That was before September 11. Since then, all sanitynot to mention
quaint notions like individual liberty, rights, and privacyis fast
going the way of the Edsel.

Several weeks ago in the airport in Traverse City, Michigan, my wife,
my children of 8, 5, and 3, and I were all randomly selected for a
complete search of all our belongings. I have never been subject to
more humiliating treatment in my life. We allincluding my three-year-
old sonhad to take off our shoes, and hand them over for
inspection. I had to take off my sport coat and belt as well; and I
had to hand over my wallet for it to bewell, who knows?

I made my usual protest about protections from unreasonable searches
and seizures, but they fell on deaf ears. Were just following
orders, I was told. That was the defense Nazi war criminals used, I
said. Following orders does not relieve you of responsibility for
your own actions. Are you calling me a Nazi? one demanded. You
call me a Nazi again and youre never getting on that plane!

Whose orders are you following? The FAAs. The FAA has instructed
you to detain and search innocent American citizens and their
families? Where have you been lately, buddy? Havent you heard of
what happened in New York? But wasnt that tragedy, like most
terrorist activities against America, perpetrated by people who were
not native-born American citizens, and who were not traveling with
their wives and small children?

By this point I was surrounded by approximately half a dozen security
guards and several armed National Guardsmen. I was informed that if I
did not shut up, I would be made to go Greyhound the rest of [my]
life. I asked whether I was suspected of a crime. I was informed
that asking so many questions about the Constitution and all was
making me suspicious. This is America now, buddy. You better shut up
and get used to it!

I asked whether they now intended not only to violate my right to be
free of arbitrary searches and seizures, but also my right to free
speech. I was then toldthrough clenched teeththat if I said one
more word, they were going to lock me up and make me go Greyhound
the rest of [my] life. I have that power, one security guard
growled at me ominously.

My children were frightened and on the verge of tears, and my wife,
also growing uneasy, implored me to simply let them do what they
wanted to do. So after a tense moment I stood aside, escorted by two
armed National Guardsmen, while several security guards searched
through our bags. I had to stand by silently while all of our things
were taken out and examined, no doubt with extra thoroughness to
punish me for my impudence. My shirts, pants, and socks were
unfolded. A man with no gloves on rifled through my wifes intimates;
he even fingered through her feminine products.

After some 20 minutes of searching, they finished, and allowed us to
go up the one flight of stairs and walk the 50 feet to our gate,
where one of the very same people who had searched us downstairs now
searched us again before we were allowed to get on the plane.

Security Reduced

What has become of us? A once free and proud people lets itself be
subject to this kind of totalitarian treatment? Searching my
children, my wife, and me does not increase security one iota: as
anyone with any common sense could see, we are obviously not a
threat. Indeed, wasting time searching people like us squanders the
opportunity to check people who actually are likely suspects. So it
might in fact reduce our level of security.

I flew again just recently. During yet another random search of my
briefcase, the security guard found a leather thong with weighted
ends that I use to hold books open while I read them. (I am a college
professor, so this comes in quite handy; my mother gave it to me as a
gift many years ago.) The guard decided it could be used as a
blackjackapparently a device used to hit people on the headand
called his manager over.

I explained to the manager, as I had explained to the guard, what I
use it for. I even got a book out of my briefcase and demonstrated.
The manager said, Thats fine. Let him through. But, the guard
protested, he could use it to knock somebody out! And he provided
his own rather dramatic demonstration of how one might use it. The
manager replied, Its no different from a fistare you going to cut
his arm off? Let him through. I thanked the manager for her common

Thus there is still some of that in airportsbut it is increasingly
uncommon. And the new security measures being adopted, which do not
increase security and instead serve only to inconvenience law-abiding
Americans, are quickly stamping out the last vestiges of
reasonablenessnot to mention libertyat our airports.

The terrorist threat is real. As September 11 showed, it is all too
real. We should not let our political sensibilities trump our good
sense when actual lives are at stake. And we should not let our
precious libertiesthe very liberties that make this country worth
dying forbe usurped by petty tyrants who are just following orders.

The invasive and unconstitutional tactics of such airport security
are an alarmingly large step toward creating just the kind of
totalitarian society our enemies hope to create. We must not let it

James Otteson is a professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama.

>>>...end of quoted material

Robert Allen
Posts: 616
Joined: March 18th, 2008, 11:53 am

Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Robert Allen » June 6th, 2005, 9:41 am

"My children were frightened and on the verge of tears, and my wife, also growing uneasy, implored me to simply let them do what they wanted to do."

That story just makes my blood boil.

(edited slightly to avoid needless flames, although frankly I thought the comparison was apt)

Brian Marks
Posts: 914
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Nyack, NY

Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Brian Marks » June 6th, 2005, 4:20 pm

there is a bill in Congess to put tolls on freeways. Can't drive, cant fly. If i got to get somewhere, I box myself up and call Fed Ex for a pick up. Some of you might think its unconfortable but I always get box seats.


Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Guest » June 6th, 2005, 5:05 pm

=Still, I can call my congressman and tell him that I think the TSA procedures are a joke. (Particularly when cargo isn't screened.) That's something we can all do easily. It may not be much, but you never know.=

Just to ease your mind the TSA does (through contractors, much like airport security) search cargo. Roughly 30% is opened and searched at the airport. I only found out about this when I had a container of semiconductor wafers damaged during the search. The TSA had no comment.

When you all are done with the Battle Of The Bics tell the airlines I want that pack of lighters they confiscated from me during a flight to Israel in 1984 when I was going to join the UN Peacekeepers in Beirut. I also want an apology for having my sea bag unloaded in Tel Aviv and having to stand next to it while the dogs sniffed 'em....I felt

I do find it interesting that those that complain the most about the searches, and yes they are often overdoing it and being done by hacks and morons from these security companies, would be the first to raise a fist in the air if profiling was used thus releasing many from going through it. The problem is govt isn't good at anything beside putting things in black and white and ignoring a lot of common sense. Was like that in the service at times. I recall a senior Chief wanting to board a submarine with his wife and four year old daughter. At that time there was a drug search being conducted with a dog named Rex the Wonderdog, a German Shepard, and the little girl was terrified of it. The senior chief was not a suspected drug user nor was his four year old but the rule was go through the search or not be allowed onboard. That applied to everyone and while the Sr. Chief was not a happy camper he decided not to board rather than have his daughter traumatized.

Push comes to shove you have no right to fly and too often those deciding who can or cannot fly are stumps with far too much power but they can boot you from a flight. And that includes smart ass philosophy profs from Alabama. But to be honest, if I was to fly again, and I likely will, I'd want to personally search everyone including the pilots and stews. On the other hand I'd be pissed of they asked me to take of my own shoes. God I hate flying.
Steve V

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Dustin Stinett
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Joined: July 22nd, 2001, 12:00 pm
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Location: Southern California

Re: Magicians that travel

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 6th, 2005, 8:51 pm

I think this lifeless steed has been sufficiently flogged.

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