How do you STILL not know the answer? August 10, 2006 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Am I dense? Why is this question about liquids on planes appropriate for ask metafilter when the answer had already been posted on practically every major English language news site in the world before the question was asked? And was being broadcast on TV and radio? And was just pretty much inescapable for anyone who actually wanted to find the answer?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Etiquette/Policy at 8:52 AM (62 comments total)

Goddamn, it's too early for this shit, and it's, like, 10. Stop it.
posted by boo_radley at 8:54 AM on August 10, 2006


Does it matter? I mean, in the grand scheme of things?
posted by OmieWise at 8:59 AM on August 10, 2006


Has anyone said, "I want these motherfucking liquids off the motherfucking plane!" yet? I bet they have.
posted by ND¢ at 9:00 AM on August 10, 2006


Apparently, right, there are no stupid questions.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:03 AM on August 10, 2006


I had sort of held out hope that the "How much damage could you do with 400 ml of anything?" part of the question would turn into something interesting, but it did become a bit of a whingefilter thread. I cleaned it up some, but I didn't feel that it fell on the far side of the "too stupid" guideline, but I may have been mistaken.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2006


72% of the fat-free mass of my body is water. Will I be able to fly to Gatwick without checking myself through?
posted by staggernation at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2006


As long as you're not bottled, staggernation.
posted by bonehead at 9:26 AM on August 10, 2006


Has anyone said, "I want these motherfucking liquids off the motherfucking plane!" yet?

I want these motherfucking shakes off this motherfucking plane.
posted by reklaw at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2006


reklaw: "motherfucking shakes"

Don't you mean "MILFshakes?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2006


Bring me my straw, it's the one marked Bad MotherFucker.

Read that somewhere. Gave me a giggle.
posted by econous at 9:38 AM on August 10, 2006


Personal opinion and anecdotal evidence yield different viewpoints than mass media. Don't you have more important things to take umbrage at?
posted by BorgLove at 9:39 AM on August 10, 2006


Uh, well, thanks for the callout. I had read several news articles and the linked press releases from Transport Canada and the US TSA, but nothing I read actually mentioned why liquids were being banned. Sarcastic apologies for not reading every single news article before posting my question.

Certainly the info on the previous use of liquid explosives in airplane bombings was news to me. Again, you may be familiar with every incident of airplane terrorism, but I am not.
posted by GuyZero at 9:48 AM on August 10, 2006


had already been posted on practically every major English language news site in the world before the question was asked? And was being broadcast on TV and radio?

This is because a large segment of the metafilter "hive" doesn't have TVs and they get all of their information from *.metafilter.com.
posted by birdherder at 9:51 AM on August 10, 2006


NPR radio, ABC TV, the Washington Post online and the New York Times online all had lead stories this morning that UK investigators had disrupted a plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives, and as a result US federal officials were banning liquids from commercial aircraft.

A little extra digging shows that cnn.com, the bbc's web site, CBS news, NBC news, the LA Times online, Fox news online, news.google.com, the Detroit Free Press, Chosun Ilbo of South Korea and thousands of other news organization also provide explanations.

I, too, am not familiar with past incidents of airplane terrorism. But I got up at 6:15 a.m. this morning, and had the answer to your question as soon as my alarm clock radio went off. I had more details within 30 seconds of loading up the New York Times on my computer. You posted your question an hour and a half later, so I have a hunch that the info had been more widely proliferated by then.

It took a lot of digging, I admit, to find this first sentence to the lead article on the New York Times web site:

British authorities said today that they had thwarted a terrorist plot to to blow up airliners traveling between Britain and the United States by constructing bombs in midflight using liquid explosives and detonators concealed in carry-on luggage.

Or this first sentence to the lead story on the Washington Post web site:

British authorities said Thursday they had disrupted a well-advanced "major terrorist plot" to blow up passenger flights between the United Kingdom and the United States using liquid explosives, prompting a full-scale security clampdown at U.S. and British airports and a cascade of delays in transatlantic flights.

I had to go to the second sentence to find the answer to your question in the lead story on cnn.com:

British and Pakistani authorities joined forces to block a plot to bomb U.S.-bound airliners, officials said Thursday.

British police acted urgently overnight, arresting 21 people who were plotting to carry liquid explosives on to as many as 10 jetliners in what could have been the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11, government officials said.


I'm not suggesting that I don't have better things to take umbrage of. I'm sure I do.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:02 AM on August 10, 2006


BorgLove writes "Personal opinion and anecdotal evidence yield different viewpoints than mass media."

Eh? The reports are that the plan was to use liquid chemicals as a bomb to blow up the planes, so they're forbidding liquids. You're saying there are going to be kick-ass personal opinions and anecdotal evidence that make more sense than that?
posted by Bugbread at 10:02 AM on August 10, 2006


"Sarcastic apologies for not reading every single news article before posting my question"

I don't think it's counts a sarcastic apology when you declare, in the apology, that it's a sarcastic apology. Unless you were being sarcastic about it being sarcastic, in which case you were being sincere and actually apologizing.
posted by oddman at 10:03 AM on August 10, 2006


GuyZero writes "I had read several news articles and the linked press releases from Transport Canada and the US TSA, but nothing I read actually mentioned why liquids were being banned."

You need to change your information sources, then (and I'm not saying that sarcastically, but honestly), because pretty much everything I've seen mentions that within the first few sentences. If you're reading news that skips stuff that fundamental, it may be skipping out on other important things, too.
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 AM on August 10, 2006


not reading every single news article

Are you kidding? I agree with the poster, this was widely reported and not all that difficult to figure out, if you'd been willing to put five minutes into research before cluttering up AskMe out of laziness.

This is way too common on AskMe (along with long-winded, boring chatfilter outpourings about relationship breakdowns). GFE - Google Fucking Exists. Use it. For instance, the first Google News result for liquids planes.
posted by Dasein at 10:07 AM on August 10, 2006


but I didn't feel that it fell on the far side of the "too stupid" guideline, but I may have been mistaken.

It fell on the wrong side of the "use Google first" and "don't ask if it's not important" guidelines. Transient curiosity about a current news story doesn't seem a good use of AskMe.

I also flagged this related thead as chatfilter, because she's just asking for reassurance as far as I can tell.
posted by cillit bang at 10:10 AM on August 10, 2006


Eh? The reports are that the plan was to use liquid chemicals as a bomb to blow up the planes, so they're forbidding liquids. You're saying there are going to be kick-ass personal opinions and anecdotal evidence that make more sense than that?

I mean that GuyZero's question, and it's answers, have value to me because information balanced with intelligent opinion is more illuminating than just reading and accepting news media at face value. That to me is self-evident. Did I really have to explain it to you?
posted by BorgLove at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2006


I mean that GuyZero's question, and it's answers, have value to me because information balanced with intelligent opinion is more illuminating than just reading and accepting news media at face value.

But everyone's intelligent opinion is based on facts garnered from that selfsame newsmedia. Unless the lizardmen have finally subverted EVERYTHING
posted by CRM114 at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2006


But everyone's intelligent opinion is based on facts garnered from that selfsame newsmedia. Unless the lizardmen have finally subverted EVERYTHING

But they're still opinions, many of which have value beyond the facts. That's the whole point of asking the question.
posted by BorgLove at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2006


because information balanced with intelligent opinion is more illuminating than just reading and accepting news media at face value.

You mean uninformed opinion, speculation? Because unless some mefites have access to the inner thinking of the British security services, that's all that it would be. Though it's good to see that people will never give up their sophomoric pretensions to superiority merely because they mindless question anything they read in newspapers.
posted by Dasein at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2006


Why does anyone care if this person uses up their weekly question in this way?
posted by scarabic at 10:31 AM on August 10, 2006


Are you kidding? I agree with the poster, this was widely reported and not all that difficult to figure out, if you'd been willing to put five minutes into research before cluttering up AskMe out of laziness.

I await with bated breath the endless string of future AskMe callouts based on this criteria.

I still haven't really gotten a firm answer to parts of my question I'd like to point out - I still don't know what it is that I'm supposed to have inside a 400 ml shampoo bottle or a 75 ml toothpaste tube that is going to bring down a plane. Nitroglycerin has been suggested and concurrently dismissed as unstable. Then we have the helpful, but vague, suggestion of "binary explosives" and "other liquid explosives". So if google is so great, please tell me exactly what these things are and whether they pack sufficient punch to bring down an airplane in the aforementioned quantities.

The answers that pointed out previous uses of liquid explosives were enlightening, although they don't really illuminate why this particular plot precipitated a widespread ban on liquids when previous incidents have not. One of the incidents resulted in the death of a passenger, but the Wikipedia article indicated that the plane wasn't completely destroyed because the bomb was misplaced relative to the fuel tanks. So it hardly sounds like just getting the stuff on board is an instant disaster.
posted by GuyZero at 10:47 AM on August 10, 2006


Why does anyone care if this person uses up their weekly question in this way?

Because it's very important that no one ever see anything on AskMe, or for that matter any other part of the site, that they don't want to see.

MetaFilter: Putting the Me in Meta since 1999.

posted by languagehat at 10:53 AM on August 10, 2006


See, this guy posts a decent answer, just in the thread in the blue. Although I still don't know if it's going to take 10, 100 or 1000 ml of the mentioned explosives to punch through the fuselage.
posted by GuyZero at 10:59 AM on August 10, 2006


Next thing you know terrorists will put bombs in clothes, and everyone will have to fly naked.
posted by clevershark at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2006


That's the day I fly Hooters Air, clevershark.
posted by Heatwole at 11:16 AM on August 10, 2006


That would be the first time I ever undressed to avoid getting blown.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:18 AM on August 10, 2006


Well, the first part - "Why are liquids now banned from flights?" is really stupid. What, you thought they didn't want someone throwing shampoo in the captains eyes? You also don't own a tv, a newspaper, and google is blocked on your computer?

The second part "How much damage could you do with 400 ml of anything?" is a little better though. Although you still had no idea that explosives were involved so you might have been wondering how much damage 400 ml of gatorade could do.

Next, you want to know why Isreal invaded Lebanon? The rest of us could google it for you.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2006


bob sarabia: "The rest of us could google it for you."

I'm imagining that one unforseen complication from this is that now the NSA will probably have millions of extra Internet searches on liquid explosives and airplanes to vet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2006


I've said it before, I'll say it again: mentos + diet coke = falling planes (wtih optional snakes)
posted by blue_beetle at 11:42 AM on August 10, 2006


Finally the penultimate comment in a dying thread. First post is just too easy.
posted by econous at 2:16 PM on August 10, 2006


Yours will only be the penultimate comment if nobody comments after this comment.

If exactly one more comment appears in the thread after this, yours will have been the antepenultimate, which is even better.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:34 PM on August 10, 2006


I would love to see an AskMe specific flag: "Could have used Google."
posted by LarryC at 2:45 PM on August 10, 2006


please tell me exactly what these things are and whether they pack sufficient punch to bring down an airplane in the aforementioned quantities.

Flagged as Al-Qaeda.
posted by staggernation at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2006


Dear AskMe: Now that liquids are no longer allowed on planes, I'm wondering "what's next?" What will be forbidden in the future? What haven't the security experts thought of? How could the terrorists get around current security measures to blow up the plane? How much would be needed, and where could they get it? How much would it cost? Will they take a personal check from out-of-town?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2006


It's Raining Florence Henderson obtains the penultimate comment. Will played.
posted by econous at 3:02 PM on August 10, 2006


Will played.

Abrupt and seemingly off-topic, but I'm game. So what did he play?
posted by languagehat at 3:05 PM on August 10, 2006


Well played obv. Now I totally achieve both ultimate and next to final comment. This has been a great thread, thanks everyone, enjoy the buffet while it lasts.
posted by econous at 3:06 PM on August 10, 2006


Almost foiled.
posted by econous at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2006


Wesley Crushered.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:23 PM on August 10, 2006


Thorougly foiled. And aluminum foil is not a good material to use in a bomb... I think. I'll have to AskMeFi on that one. Actually, the thread on the blue about the situation, despite its formitable length, is providing a number of good answers, espectially in the bottom third. But then I'm not feeling well and just woke from a long summer's nap.

And Eric played Will. And that is something you need a TV to know about.
posted by wendell at 3:25 PM on August 10, 2006


Why does anyone care if this person uses up their weekly question in this way?

Presumably because people are always complaining that there are too many questions on Ask these days for anyone to keep up with?

It's not a matter of using up their question, it's a matter of cluttering up the question-space.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 5:07 PM on August 10, 2006


Now that liquids are no longer allowed on planes, I'm wondering "what's next?"

Personally, I always thought no vetting of carry-on liquids was far more of a potential risk than shoes, say. I'm now waiting for some bright bunny to convert his clothes to nitrocelulose. It wouldn't be a great bomb, but wearing guncotton could be potential risk factor. Hard for the IMS detectors to pick up too---it has no vapor pressure, unlike all these liquids people have been mentioning in the blue.

When someone downs a plane with the clothes on their back, we'll be reduced to flying nekkid.
posted by bonehead at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2006


I'd like to offer a short answer to these MeTa callouts.

The questions generally take the form: "Why X?"

The answer is always: "Because people are fucking stupid."

You'll find that at least nine times out of ten, that answer is perfectly correct.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on August 10, 2006


I'm late to the party, but I have to agree with the poster. This may be the most oblivious AskMetafilter question I have ever seen, and I'm sorry if that offends you, GuyZero, but it's the plain truth. Radios, television, the internet, basically every possible form of mass communication was humming with the exact information you couldn't figure out, and yet you couldn't be arsed to check one thing.

You may as well just quit trying to read "news" altogether if whatever you're reading is so useless as to not point out what's going on, and you're not going to check anything else.
posted by blacklite at 6:58 PM on August 10, 2006


GuyZero writes "I still don't know what it is that I'm supposed to have inside a 400 ml shampoo bottle or a 75 ml toothpaste tube that is going to bring down a plane. Nitroglycerin has been suggested and concurrently dismissed as unstable."

Ok, now not only are you not reading your local newspaper / news site, you're not even reading your own thread. Nitroglycerin was brought up as an example, then dismissed as unstable, and then someone pointed out that it can be stabilized with cotton and was in fact planned for use in a similar bombing back in the 1990's.
posted by Bugbread at 7:29 PM on August 10, 2006


I wouldn't go that far, Afroblanco. Please calm down.
posted by kosem at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2006


"Now that liquids are no longer allowed on planes, I'm wondering "what's next?" What will be forbidden in the future?"

Solids.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2006


a short answer to these MeTa callouts ... "Because people are fucking stupid."

Coincidentally, that is also the correct answer to the AskMe question.
posted by sfenders at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2006


What will be forbidden in the future?"

liberals.
posted by quonsar at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2006


Wow. Somebody totally deleted my innocuous little joke.

After all the shit that I've seen people say on the grey, I can't belive that my comment was picked for deletion. I mean, hell, I think I've seen people post frigging death threats here that didn't get deleted. All I did was post a harmless (I would even argue funny) little joke, and it gets deleted. What a total assfuck.

This marks the first time that I've ever seriously disagreed with one of Matt or Jessamyn's editing calls. I guess there's a first time for everything.

Next time, I'll try to spew some invective or at least mildly insult someone. Maybe then my comment won't get deleted.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:27 PM on August 10, 2006


If a beautiful and unique snowflake melts, would I be allowed to carry it on a plane?
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:40 PM on August 10, 2006


The funniest part of it all is that the main gist of my joke was that I thought people should be banned from bringing bombs on airplanes. Obviously, this sentiment must have offended someone. I seriously hope that I never wind up sharing an airplane with them.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:46 PM on August 10, 2006


Ok, just checked my email, and it turns out the deletion was a mistake. Next time I'll check my email before responding snarkily. Sorry to all for egocentrically sucking up this part of the thread.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:08 PM on August 10, 2006


That's OK, we were about to move to animated gifs anyway.
posted by LarryC at 10:28 PM on August 10, 2006


pity i'll have to leave my urine on that nice TSA workers shoes.
posted by quonsar at 4:26 AM on August 11, 2006


people should be banned from bringing bombs on airplanes

There's an old joke... the odds of being on a killed in a plane bombing are (say) one in a million. But the odds of being on a plane with two independent bombers who have no knowledge of each other are too small to calculate.

So always bring a bomb with you when you fly.
posted by GuyZero at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2006


I am da bomb.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:31 AM on August 11, 2006


Yes, Florence, you are...
posted by baylink at 12:49 PM on August 11, 2006


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