More security lunacy: mathematician pulled from plane for . . . doing math

From Marginal Revolution, courtesy of reader Jósef, we have a bizarre tale of how our nation is being protected from terrorists. Here it is in its entirety (I’ve added the link to his university site):

Guido Menzio an economist at the University of Pennsylvania–author of Block Recursive Equilibria for Stochastic Models of Search on the Job among other papers–was pulled from a plane because…algebra is suspicious. From FB [JAC note: that link doesn’t work, and I haven’t found the post, which may have been removed]


Flight from Philly to Syracuse goes out on the tarmac, ready to take off. The passenger sitting next to me calls the stewardess, passes her a note. The stewardess comes back asks her if she is comfortable taking off, or she is too sick. We wait more. We go back to the gate. The passenger exits. We wait more. The pilot comes to me and asks me out of the plane. There I am met by some FBI looking man-in-black. They ask me about my neighbor. I tell them I noticed nothing strange. They tell me she thought I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper. I laugh. I bring them back to the plane. I showed them my math.

It’s a bit funny. It’s a bit worrisome. The lady just looked at me, looked at my writing of mysterious formulae, and concluded I was up to no good. Because of that an entire flight was delayed by 1.5 hours.

Trump’s America is already here. It’s not yet in power though. Personally, I will fight back.”

Well, Menzio is also a bit wild-looking, as professor are wont to be, and that may have exacerbated the situation.


From Menzio’s FB page

But the man has a sense of humor, and, I suspect, is a cat lover. Among the other moggie-type stuff on his Facebook page is this post:

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 9.12.57 AM





  1. KIA
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    remember, this is not trump america. this has been and still is Obama America for the last 7yrs. why blame trump? he hasn’t had anything to do with this. -kia

    • Charles McCullough
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      You need to include Bush/Cheney in the fear-mongering stew we are drowning in, as they added the main ingredients.

      • KIA
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        They are not in control anymore and the post is about an incident recently happening. Obama is in control. Has been for 7yrs. When are you going to stop blaming bush and start blaming the current president?

        • Randy Schenck
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          Ready, fire, Aim.

          Really, we blame the pres. for what happens on an airplane in Philly. That is almost as strange as what did happen.

          • KIA
            Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            You’re more than willing to tag someone isn’t even elected yet…. That is stranger

            • bobxtm
              Posted May 8, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

              You are misunderstanding. The writer is not accusing Trump of being the cause, obviously, of this event: rather Trump is the effect of this kind of thinking spreading in the US. If you think that Obama, or any President, has omnipotent powers to control the mental development of the whole country, you are part of the problem.

          • KIA
            Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            And someone wanted to tag bush and Cheney who haven’t been in office for 8yrs… But not make Obama responsible for his own TSA and FAA? That’s absurd.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      He isn’t blaming Trump; he’s just saying that the sort of society that Trump wants is already here.

      • KIA
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        And it’s on Obama’s watch so why not blame Obama? What trump will or will not do is irrelevant to the shit that’s going down now. He’s really an unknown past all the fear mongering on BOTH sides of the aisle. BTW, even if he is the nominee for the Republicans, we won’t be elected in November. He’s the only one of the 13 different Republican candidates that has consistently lost in the polls one on one against Hillary. No chance of winning but let’s beat on him anyways to make the Republicans look like crap. So the real question is… Why do we only get two choices? Why are we limited to two Major Parties? Who is truly free if we only get the choices the two parties give us?

        • Scott Draper
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          You’re really bending over backwards to seek an argument. No one assigned blame to any particular person or group for this sort of occurrence.

          • Randy Schenck
            Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

            I believe they recommend a strong sedative before entering the cage. Do not get to close.

          • KIA
            Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

            And you’re bending over backwards to not realize that my point was… Far from being an example, as the post is implying, of Trump’s America or what he says we can expect, regardless of our inability to predict what will actually happen in the future, this IS an example of what is the Obama America that he is responsible for now as the sitting president and chief executive. You’d rather ignore who actually is in office for 8yrs now and try to tag what happened on that plane to either trump who has never been and never will be in office and vush Cheney who hasn’t been there for 8 yrs… Absurd to ignore the one who is currently the president for hasn’t beens and used to bes.

            • Scott Draper
              Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

              I’m not tagging this on anyone. A President can’t stop this sort of thing, but he can make it worse. Trump, as an overt racist, is a good prospect for making it worse and deserves any off-handed slam he receives.

              • KIA
                Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

                He’ll never be elected. Polls consistently have had him losing one on one with Hillary since he started for the nomination until now. There’s no worry and no reason to fear or fear monger

              • Scott Draper
                Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

                People have been consistently wrong about Trump over the past year, so your predictions don’t mean much. There are several scenarios which could elect him. Regardless, he has an influence even as a presidential candidate.

              • KIA
                Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

                I’m not even convinced he will be the nominee. Regardless, I won’t vote for either trump or Hillary. Neither are fit to serve, lead or rule.

            • Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

              That’s enough, KIA. You’re hijacking the thread and trolling–a comment that nobody made here except the guy on his Facebook page.

              Jeez. . .

              • keith cook + / -
                Posted May 7, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                and Islam had nothing to do with it.. just bad presidents and non president hopefully not.

        • Adam M.
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          While I believe Trump probably won’t be elected, he hasn’t consistently lost to Hillary in polls, and certainly not by consistently big margins. He’s frequently tied with her, or been down only one or two points. (The last two polls I’m aware of had them tied and had Hillary up by two points.)

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          I think I agree with you.
          There is a lot of knee jerk anti Trump assumptions going around and he really is an unknown.
          Except for the reality of his big mouth.

          • KIA
            Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

            Agreed. What a big mouth he has too. And small hands

    • Adam M.
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree. A lot of people on the left are unwilling to criticize Obama, although I don’t think he can be personally blamed for causing this airport idiocy. (He made no attempt to fix it, though.) When Bush started down certain evil paths, people on the left were outraged and outspoken. When Obama took us further down those same paths, the left was largely silent.

      Bush set up an exceptional, extralegal system of indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo. Obama wants to normalize and officially legalize indefinite detention without charge within the US. That’s what he calls “closing Guantanamo” – making it legal and unexceptional, not actually eliminating the injustice that Guantanamo represents.

      Obama greatly expanded Bush’s controversial drone program – Bush only did around 50 drone strikes – and set up an assassination program where anybody could be killed anywhere at any time on Obama’s personal orders, even Americans within the US who were not charged with or convicted of any crime. Remember the administration’s reasoning that “due process doesn’t mean a judicial process”? They think a secret decision by the executive that someone should die is all the due process we need.

      The Obama administration did not reverse Bush’s outrageous steps towards illegal mass surveillance of Americans. Under Obama, they’ve been extended and expanded, as revealed by Edward Snowden.

      Far from being “the most transparent administration in history”, the Obama administration has cracked down on journalists to a greater extent than any other administration, subjecting them to extensive surveillance and threatening them if they don’t reveal their sources, and on whistleblowers to a greater extent than all other administrations combined.

      Obama also made permanent the highly controversial Bush tax cuts for the rich.

      But the criticism from the left is decidedly softspoken – nothing like the roar of outrage during the Bush years. The right doesn’t complain either because they apparently like these policies…

      • JohnW
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        The so-called Bush Tax cuts expired on Jan 1, 2013. Another agreement with congress took affect after that which reinstated some of the cuts, but the highest bracket went back to 39.6%. It was a compromise which is what governing is all about. You seem to swallow whatever exaggeration gets trolled out there about the president and seem also to be unaware of the composition and recent track record of the congress, and that the alternative to drones hunting terrorists is dead young Americans.

        • Adam M.
          Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:49 am | Permalink

          As far as I know, the compromise was that 94% of the cuts were made permanent and 6% were reverted. The Bush administration tried and failed to make them permanent, so I still think this is an example of Obama being worse than Bush, and more to my point, an example of something that receives little criticism. I suspect if Bush said “Okay, rather than making them all permanent, how about a compromise? Let’s make 94% of them permanent” it wouldn’t have muted the criticism against him.

          And I’m always surprised when people opine that order to save Americans from terrorists we need to declare that the president has the authority to assassinate Americans with no charge or trial, even within the US. Well I disagree. That is a bridge too far.

          • Adam M.
            Posted May 8, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

            Anyway, regarding drones, my point stands that there was persistent outcry from the left about Bush using drones (when he only targeted about 50 high-level Al-Qaeda members), but little outcry when Obama expanded it to kill thousands, including Americans, and claimed the right to kill Americans anywhere, including in the US.

      • Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        “…made no attempt to fix it…”

        What exactly is a president supposed to do to ensure that no one remains ignorant? That is 99.999% the individual’s responsibility.

        • Adam M.
          Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:44 am | Permalink

          I’m not talking about this specific incident. I’m referring to making airport security something better than the security theater that it largely is, instituting common sense, that kind of thing.

          • Filippo
            Posted May 8, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

            Perhaps a Fortune 500 CEO or economist should be put in charge of security since, by virtue of their being CEO’s and economists, they are apparently qualified to hold forth on most anything (or so it seems to me, what with the seeming high regard they are held in the business and op-ed sections of, for example, the NY Times).

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 8, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

              Not to mention the majority of the GOP primary voters.

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      What that statement means is that this is the kind of crap that happens in a nation filled with people that can make Trump a serious contender for the highest political office.

    • Posted May 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  2. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Did they search him for Weapons of Math Instruction?

    • Merilee
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      ya beat me to it:-)

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Ha. That is good.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I can’t take credit for it; it’s been Out There for a while.

        • Mary Sheumaker
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

          al-Gebra that’s so awesome hahaha!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      He was using a pen or pencil. As this is apocryphally mightier than the sword, it clearly qualifies as a WMD.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Ha! Nice one!

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      I know a good speech therapist. Happy to path along info.

    • Kevin
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      The weapon is jealousy. When I was in grad school I used to lug my quantum books on planes I used to get these looks like ‘oh, he thinks he’s so smug just knowing stuff we can never understand’. And I kind of thought well I don’t really understand it myself but your attitudes are kind of weird and self-pitying.

      • Posted May 8, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

        Worse: Personal experience as recent as yesterday says those ignorant people with weird, self-pitying attitudes not only don’t grow out of it; they combine into a clique and gang up on the individual with knowledge. Those I dealt with, yesterday, were in their 70s and 80s. Need I mention they were Republicans? The “Mean” should have covered it, both emotionally and mathematically.

  3. Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read he was a member of the Al-gebra terrorist cult

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Hee hee

    • Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I stole your idea for a present..

      • Merilee
        Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        I think perhaps I deserve an algae bra for all the years I spent terrorizing kids with algebra🙀

        • Posted May 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          So, what are the benefits of wearing an algae bra? Would it prevent breast cancer? Would it increase breast size? It would certainly be “all natural” and from “renewable resources”. Certainly, this is better than some of the purported “health cures” that “They” don’t want you to know about, that appear in my spam folder every day!

          Besides, it would come in a number of decorator colors. Blue-Green? Some of the subject lines of said spam tout the benefits of blue-green algae?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 8, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

            You could make it out of edible algae and have a source of food in an emergency. Alternatively, you could cultivate the annoying hair algae out of my 5 gallon tank.

            • Posted May 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

              Well, to keep the algae bra in good order and growing, women would have to go out in just their algae bras. Certainly, THAT would get them thrown off of plane.

              Breasts can be a source of food for the very young, and possibly in cases of emergency. This would make a low-cholesterol, vegetarian alternative. But, again, people have taken offense at women who breast feed infants, and have asked to remove them from the plane. Bra-feeding an older-than-infant person, including the woman herself, would certainly be “offensive” to some.

            • Posted May 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

              Algae bras have proved to be quite flimsy. However, weaving in fungi creates hardwearing lichengerie.


              • merilee
                Posted May 8, 2016 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

                I’m likin’ the lichen idea. You’re clearly a fun guy, Ant.

              • Posted May 8, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

                It’s finger-lichen good!

              • Posted May 9, 2016 at 1:36 am | Permalink

                They don’t take up as much room in a suitcase, either.


          • Merilee
            Posted May 8, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

            Who knows- lol. Can’t be worse than ordinary bras, though possibly itchier🐸
            Yeah, I’d definitely request the blue-green variety. (And non-gmo and gluten-free😬)

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:39 am | Permalink

              Technically, there’s no such thing as blue-green algae anymore.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

                It’s called Cyanobacteria instead? I thought I saw some in my new tank and almost lost my shit! I hate that stuff.

              • merilee
                Posted May 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                Then I guess it will hafta be a cynobacterial bra…

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

                A CBB – better marketing anyway.

            • Diane G.
              Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:55 am | Permalink

              Yep, might as well fix a little nitrogen while you’re out and about.

      • Posted May 8, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Maybe “Al-Gebra Theorist Group” … ?


      • Diane G.
        Posted May 9, 2016 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        Nice job, Michael! 😀

  4. gary
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    It seems they missed the real threat, which was the pointy object he was writing with.

  5. George
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Swarthy Italian, Muslim terrorist – what is the difference? At least to a trump supporter.

    Diane and other Canadians – if the worst does happen, will you take us in?

    • chris moffatt
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always kept a current canadian passport and 50 acres in Ontario just in case. Thinking I might need them yet.

      Looks to me like the terrorists have won. I guess we didn’t go shopping enough. OTOH maybe this level of paranoia should have tipped off the FBI that this woman was a little off kilter. How do we know she wasn’t the terrorist?

      • Posted May 10, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes, they have. In my country, it was popular esp. among students and poor people to send packages via inter-city buses instead of the postal office. After the 2012 bus bombing, forget it!

    • nwalsh
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Sure Dems always welcome. All others can go to Alberta.

      • merilee
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        fwiw, it’s DianA who’s the Canuck; Diane’s a Yank.
        Merilee, Canuck-living Yank.

        Y’all come on up.

        • tubby
          Posted May 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          I’ve been thinking I should renew my passport. From what I recall, in Toronto at least it was easy to pass as Canadian.

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of a story my grandpa used to tell about when he was down south in the Army during WWII…as he and a group were boarding a bus, the driver pointed to a guy and said, “coloreds sit in the back.” The guy replied, “I’m not colored; I’m Italian.” The bus driver just closed the door in his face and drove away.

      • Posted May 8, 2016 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Wow! And my dad, who was from “up North” but was stationed in The South, got arrested for sitting in the back of the bus! He was a not-swarthy-enough Jew!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Swarthy Italian, Muslim terrorist – what is the difference? At least to a trump supporter.

      The important point is that he’s not in a recognisable uniform. McDonalds, TacoHut, BurntgerKong, or the usual suspects.
      Has Trump suggested branding non-6th-generation Americans on the cheek (anterior one, not posterior one) yet? Or is that something he’s saving for the main hustings?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Sure, we took in Americans during the Vietnam War and during the Bush years. If you want to be dissidents, we’ll help you do that too.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Also, it may please you to know that a colleague of mine sent me a link to the Creation Museum, thinking it was a joke. That’s how weird that stuff is for Canadians. I assured him that I interact with lots of Americans and it was no joke. I also sent him a couple of book recommendations about the rise of the Evangelicals in the US (thanks to people on WEIT).

    • Colin
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      oooooh. I’ve been waiting for one of these comments / questions for some time:

      • Merilee
        Posted May 8, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        Heehee- that’s what I felt like my first February up here after leaving California.

  6. DrBrydon
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink


    At least they didn’t burn him as a witch. Yet.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Who are you, who are wise in the ways of science?

  7. Raymond Moody
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Just laugh. Abysmal ignorance. Funny. What’s next?

    I would have asked him to explain the math he was working on. Do you know how long it’s been since I did algebra?

    Ray Sent from my iPad


  8. barn owl
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Imagine if Menzio were a topologist:

    “He turned my coffee cup into a donut!”

    “Well, it got better.”

    • Richard Bond
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Beautiful! (::

      • Richard Bond
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        How does one get these smilies working???

  9. Posted May 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink


  10. DrDroid
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    My wife often says my equations look like Greek to her. I guess this guy’s equations look like Arabic. 😉

    • cherrybombsim
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Yes, It’s all those Arabic numerals.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        … which they stole – OK, borrowed – from the Indians.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      When I differentiate in public, I write in fluent Demented Spiderese.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

      I figure a Greek writing a grocery list is going to get booted from a plane one day.

    • Posted May 8, 2016 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      Even worse. He might have been *integrating*. We can’t have that; not on a plane over the US. Coloreds have to go to the back, including people who are integrating on paper.

      Now if he was doing differentials, that’s an entirely different story!

      If it was derivatives, then he’s just using derived information, and it’s all false for the liberal media to just lap up.

  11. Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    In Obama’s America, a five year old boy was kicked off a plane for making his calculator spell BOOBIES.

    • JohnW
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Yeah the president loves stuff like that…

    • Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Obama’s America? What?

  12. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I am frequently doing math problems or reviewing computer code riding the bus or waiting in bus stops. Since folks in the Bay Area are reasonably smart, they always know that what I am doing is math or Java, and am often asked if I am a math professor. (I am a private math tutor). Folks can usually tell if what I am looking at is algebra or computer code.

    Reckon there are parts of the world where people can’t recognize this stuff.

    • merilee
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Philadelphia and Syracuse??

    • Posted May 8, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

      Inside the minds of FBI brainiacs?

  13. docbill1351
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Years ago I was on a flight and working on an algorithm, or “al gorilla” as I titled it. After watching me for a while, a lady passenger asked me what I was doing.

    “Drawing a flow chart,” I replied.

    “Why’s it called a flow chart,” she asked?

    “In honor of my Aunt Florence. Auntie Flo,” I deadpanned.

    That was the end of the conversation.

  14. Jonathan Dore
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    What Guido Menzio doesn’t say is whether the woman had to sit next to him again when the flight eventually took off. That would have been a long flight …

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      She had the plane return to the gate on the pretext of being unwell. So SOP (which was mentioned in the Grauniad article) was to return to the gate and put that passenger off until the next flight, if their quack/ paramedic/ whatever OK’d the passenger to fly.

  15. Jenny Haniver
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    The next time I take a plane, I’m going to dig out my old Akkadian syllabi, take them along and while aloft, ostentatiously start writing in Cuneiform. Bring on Homeland Security — Marduk Rules!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Maybe we’ll solve Linear A by getting the attention of Homeland Security, who will put their top people on deciphering it.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        Capital idea! I’d love to see that solved in my lifetime.

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Good thing he didn’t work in manufacturing and referencing a Bill of Materials (BOM).

  17. Christopher Bonds
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    My wife wanted to know, did the air line offer him a free ticket?

  18. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of Canada, I notice that the professor had
    “He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them”,
    referring to his sea of meow’s I suppose.

    From Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’.
    Yesterday I pulled my old nylon string guitar out, after several years, and played the only song I know all the way through, “Suzanne”.
    A beautiful song.

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:51 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Cats, Cohen, and math. I want to have that man over for a drink.

  19. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 7, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Well, it seems that for once it wasn’t the TSA / FBI being paranoid. From Menzio’s account, they accepted his explanation.

    I guess that, since the stupid woman had raised the alarm, they had to check it out.


    • Diane G.
      Posted May 8, 2016 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      I really dislike the “see something, say something” campaign.

  20. Filippo
    Posted May 8, 2016 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Is it the default SOP for aircraft crew to pass on any and all passenger reports of alleged “suspicious activity” to airport and law enforcement authorities?

    To the extent that it’s possibly warranted to mention Obama’s name in relation to this prime example of Amuricun “Innumeracy” (re: John Allen Paulos), perhaps Obama should invite the suspicious passenger to the White House for a libation and math tutoring. (Maybe even invite that 5th grade oppositionally defiant gentleman who told me – insisted – that 2 + 2 = 5.)

    (Why didn’t she report the airline’s own suspicious activity, as everyone knows it takes a supernatural miracle for bumblebees and airplanes to fly. Too bad the guy wasn’t also playing with reversed, opposing ring magnets on a pencil to get her all the more riled.)

  21. Posted May 8, 2016 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    Maybe she was afraid he was going to hijack the plane to Boston or Cuba or Montreal or somewhere. If the airline or pilot refused, he was threatening to “Solve for X”, which would immediately destroy the plane????

  22. Posted May 9, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    And people wonder why “citizen tiplines” are a bad idea …

    • Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      Citizen tiplines work well when there is someone on the other end with more common sense than god gave asphalt! Citizens do notice things wrong in their community and going on around them. However, when it’s based on a combination of biggotry and lack of education combined with outrageous fear, and also combined with a combination of ignorance and “must investigate” on those receiving the reports, you get things indistinguishable from 16th century witch hunts.

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