The Terrorism Scare That Happened Because No One Could Recognize Math
In 2016, a routine flight waited half an hour on the tarmac, but instead of taking off, it ended up returning to the gate, whereupon a 40-year-old man was escorted off the plane. The woman next to him had spotted suspicious activity and heroically warned a flight attendant of the potential threat. Specifically, the man had been scribbling on a napkin in what appeared to be a foreign language, and he had been curt in answering the wannabe Nancy Drew's questions about himself. Oh, and he had "olive skin and an exotic foreign accent." We're going to posit that maybe that was a factor in what would otherwise be an unremarkable tale of a reserved passenger doing some doodles.
The man was interviewed by a security agent, and it was soon determined that he was award-winning Ivy League economist Guido Menzio. And even if you don't have a notable economist trading card collection, a cursory Google search of his name makes it clear that he's not in the business of plane sabotage. The writings that had been mistaken for a secret code or one of them Middle Eastern languages were differential equations Menzio was fine-tuning for a presentation he was scheduled to perform at Queen's University on menu costs and price dispersion. And while that does mean he was armed with the tools to bore his fellow passengers to sleep, there's no law against flying while being both swarthy and good at math, even if you look like a "terrorist" to the sort of person who gets their news from Facebook pages with "Patriot" in the name.
Menzio was allowed to re-board, and the flight took off two hours late without his accuser on it. Hey, extra elbow room! Score!
Menzio noted that while everyone involved was polite to him, it was a baffling and frustrating experience with an inefficient and biased security system. We're baffled too. While high school calculus mostly taught us that we should abandon our aspirations of building a personal space shuttle, who can't tell math from a written language? If it was a code or calculation to bring the plane down, what kind of terrorist would be committed enough to agree to the mission, but lazy enough to leave all the strategizing until moments before takeoff? And what kind of terror organization would be targeting the crown jewel of potential targets that is the 41-minute hop from Philadelphia to Syracuse? Any plots would be foiled by attendants yelling at the perpetrators to sit back down, because the flight never cruises long enough to turn the seat belt sign off.
A Teenager Accidentally AirDropped A Fake Crime Scene Photo To All Passengers Within Bluetooth Range
AirDrop, for those of you who don't have the second job required to afford Apple products, is a Mac and iOS filesharing service. And it's not too hard to accidentally, ugh, "AirDrop" a file to every Bluetooth user in your vicinity. Which is how people sitting on a plane bound for Hawaii suddenly found themselves staring at this:
KGO-TV, San FransiscoWhich was graphic enough that we're gonna make you click to see it.