Schneier on Security
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December 7, 2007
New Security Risk: Blankets
Concert-goers who had queued for up to an hour in the Swan Valley paddock were told to return rugs to their cars -- and join the end of the queue again -- because picnic blankets were a "security risk."
Posted on December 7, 2007 at 1:51 PM
• 62 Comments
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"The food ban meant those caught unaware - or who didn't smuggle rolls through security - were hungry as well as cold as they joined enormous queues inside for food and drinks."
It's because they'll be renting out blankets at the next concert.
I would guess that it was an attempt to prevent people (who have already paid a fortune for tickets) from smuggling in their own food and drink hidden in the folds of the blanket.
Nothing to do with security, everything to do with greedy bastards treating their customers with contempt.
There was a case several years back at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA when, during Pantera's set at Ozzfest, patrons lit picnic blankets on fire and started tossing them about. At subsequent Ozzfests, picnic blankets were banned. I was not at that particular show, but was the story I heard when I was told I couldn't take a picnic blanket in to a later Ozzfest. I think it's worth noting, however, that Missy Higgins is no Pantera. :)
Blankets can be soaked in the same stuff used to make 'touchpaper'...
Either that, or they sold blankets in the venue, which is why they don't let water in most venue's.
Attended the NHRA drags in Ennis Tx - no water allowed in due to 'security'. Over 100Deg that day. Water 'price fixed' by the venue and sold at $4 a bottle by the vendors.
I wonder if security blankets are allowed in...
>> Blankets can be soaked in the same stuff used to make 'touchpaper'...
So can clothing.
Glad I didn't show up with my crocodile.
By these standards, things like "pockets" and "clothing" can be security risks, too. Lame.
I agree. I've seen couples on blankets take things way too far.
Possibly they were afraid that people would wear the blankets as capes and leap from high places? Or pretend to be ghosts?
Some people are so cynical, I can't believe people can't see the threat in blankets ;)
All human activities are security risks, so let's just ban humans off the face of the earth. That way, it will be safe for the remaining inhabitants. Personally, I won't be attending anything with a large crowd involved, too many aggravations, too many loonies with a point to prove loose on the planet. I'm tired of afraid monkeys.
Out of control aerial attacks.
clearly the threat was crumbs - picnickers leave crumbs all over the place.
Flannel blankets can by rubbed together, the friction sparking and causing them to smolder. This smoke can then be used in conjunction with other blankets to send smoke signals to terrorist elements outside the venue, disseminating information on security force distribution and numbers.
My bet? They would've been selling food and drink — and possibly blankets out of the merchandise truck — and saw "security risk" as a suitable means to increasing that revenue end.
Alternatively, it was a poorly thought-out way of preventing people from smuggling alcohol into a possibly-unlicensed venue.
I recently read an ABC news article saying that we need to reduce Greenhouse emissions for better water and food security. This just seems to be yet another misuse of this term.
I work security at another California concert venue; we had one event during the 2007 season at which blankets were banned. The reason given was the Ozzfest occurrence noted above; that behavior was observed at other venues where these acts appeared -this- year, and so later appearances were subjected to this change. Concert venues, especially those under one general management company, regularly share the successes and failures of venue rules with one another as an aid to planning.
Smuggling things inside blankets is easily detected at the gates: please shake out your blanket for me, sir/madam...
I can't speak to NASCAR events; our facility is not quite so silly about water, but the patron-supplied alcohol prohibition is certainly at least partially driven by profit motives.
I blame Markoff Chaney.
The biggest security risk is "authorities" who make absurd rules that generate contempt for all rules.
- Signed "The Mgt"
Seems to me that this sort of thing would end pretty quickly, if a couple of hundred people queued up at the ticket office demanding refunds.
I went to a playoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA (Pats v. Panthers) where it was forecast to be in the 0 degree range. The stadium officials waived the usual rule, and *encouraged* blankets, but advised they'd be unfolded at the gate. In a surprisingly orderly fashion, legions of Patriots fans dutifully complied. You'd get your pat down check, then asked to step to the side (inside the gate) and there, other security folks had you open up your blanket. It all went surprisingly fast.
The only noteworthy thing that happened that night was the Patriots won by a field goal.
If you ask me, I'd say this is to protect concessionaires.
The blanket can be used to hide speared crocodiles.
We all know that if you wrap a towel around your head, the ravenous bugblatter beast of traal will be unable to see you hence allowing you to escape - or attack. I guess a rug would do fine as well.
Hence, in case you bring a rug and the ravenous bugblatter beast of traal appears, the rug is key ingredient to mount a terrorist attack against it before it eats you.
This is a clear case and perfectly reasonable measure to avoid any terrorist attacks against ravenous beasts and keep these creatures safe should they decide to join the venue.
In New York, blankets are frequently not allowed into events at Central Park because of the additional potential for damage to the lawn. If food is not allowed, it is to boost commercial sales of food. They generally don't try to say that it is a "security" restriction.
My thoughts are that due to the immaturity of people these days, and the fact that people go to concerts and do stupid things the rest of us get punished for it. Really, adults need to grow up and start acting right and then your rights won't be taken away like this.
I suspect that until courts become unwilling to assign civil liability to the deepest pocket when it instead belongs to the responsible stupid party, this silliness will continue to manifest itself.
What if I bring a fire extinguisher with my blanket? If anyone sees me light it on fire, they can use the extinguisher. Or if I see anyone else light one on fire, I'll extinguish theirs.
As we all know, blankets are only a small step away from full grown towels!
As far as I know it had nothing to do with security. This venue doesn't have seats, so people have to sit on the grass or stand. If you bring a picnic blanket you take up more space on the grass - meaning they can't fit as many people in.
I'm told the venue is very good, but the people running it are very greedy and heavy handed.
A blanket could be used to hide a foxhole or other entrenchment. Or perhaps to cover the last few feet of the amazing Iran-to-America tunnel, through which hordes of raving Islamofascist jihadists will emerge and America will fall under Shari'a Law before the encore ...
Or maybe they saw Siegfried & Roy produce a tiger from behind a glittery sheet and realized someone could do that with a blanket ...
Ironically, the blacklists of known troublemakers, shared across many venues, would be quite appropriate. (Most venues check IDs for age anyway). There's no reason for majority of well-behaved concertgoers to be treated like criminals just because of few morons.
Of course, such shared lists are not legal in US because of various "anti-discrimination" laws violating the right of private property owners to refuse admission.
Now, when the gurvirmint does that, that's A-OK, despite the fact that this technique is absolutely useless against one-time troublemakers such as suicidal terrorists.
The blankets were made in Pakistan and had the un-hatched eggs of desert fruit flies which would hatch and eat all of our vegetation and trees and grass, thus killing our ecosystem, threatening our very survival, blocking out the sun, knocking our planet off axis, and sending us crashing into Uranus.
Uh, or maybe they just like the colors.
Ideas? Well, here is the truth. Now it can be told: Another secret plan to stop the distribution of music over the Internet has been foiled.
"They" were using Binary Blanket Chemistry. Alone, the "A" and "B" solutions are only mildly dangerous. But, both are fragrant and they make blankets feel soft. But, rub them together with a little elbow grease and you got a powerful reaction that amplifies the usual static charge that happens in such circumstances and produces a giant Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) that frys any electronics within range. Binary Blanket Chemistry does not produce an explosion.
This secret terrorist plot was uncovered by undercover operatives who were working in a blanket mill. They noticed an unusual number of shipments of even-numbered quantities of blankets to the target city.
While the exact formulation of the binary components has been classified, a similar, but much less powerful, binary gives you an idea of how this Binary Blanket Chemistry works:
Only, with Binary Blanket Chemistry, all you have to do to trigger the EMP is to rub the binary blankets together. You don't have to shoot 'em like you have to do with the tannerite targets at the above Website.
Now, imagine a concentration of binary blanket-rubbers!
So, "they" soaked many red blankets in the "A" solution and many yellow blankets in the "B" solution.
Once the blankets were dry, they distributed them to cooperating pairs of blanket-rubbers. Once safely through the security check point, the blanket-rubbers would have been free to find their other half and merely rub their blankets together on queue - on that fifth note, you know - and Zap!! - Electronics are destroyed.
So, quit disparaging the vicious and opportunistic capitalism of the vendors who were selling blankets and water, and thank your lucky stars that we know about Binary Blanket Chemestry!
Also, there has been a recent development. It seems that there is now confusion about who "they" are. You see, the band has been systematically distributing their music on the Internet, outside of the usual distribution channels. Sources say that "they" are actually music industry operatives who wanted to eliminate the band - they were a bad influence on other bands who use traditional distribution channels for their music.
Proof of this seems to lie in the fact that the first 5 rows of seats were to be filled with alternating red and yellow blanket carriers. On the queue of that fifth note, these blanket-rubbers were to turn toward one another and rub vigorously. And, Zap!! - no more Internet-distributed band music to annoy "them".
You see, the band knows that "they" are after them. Therefore, the band carries the server that distributes their music to the Internet along with them as they tour. With the latest satellite up-link technology, their pipe to the Internet is always open wherever they are and "they" can't get to it to stop the flow of music - as long as there is fuel for the generator on the tour buss, that is.
However, "they" discovered that the the machine that distributes the band's music is known to be connected to the system that controls the lights in the concert. And, you guessed it, these systems have not been protected against EMP. Further, all of the wires that are strung out to the lights act as a giant antenna that intensifies the EMP and directs it into the target system.
A disgruntled salesman who unsuccessfully tried to sell the band an EMP-resistant system told "them" that the band did not have a business continuity plan or a disaster recovery plan. Hence, "they" knew that all "they" needed to do was hit that one system and the band would have to come crawling back to "them" as a distribution channel.
Police in the UK have been known to take pieces of carpet from people on the way to demos, the idea being that carpet can be used as an aid for getting over barbed wire fences. This is what's known as a rugs bust.
A blanket can be made into a fairly good kangaroo tail. It's not quite as effective as a towel, but can still leave reasonable welts on people's legs and bottoms. Of course the larger the fabric, the bigger you need to be to use it.
It's hardly a weapon of mass destruction though ...
"It's hardly a weapon of mass destruction though ..."
... it is a weapon of ass destruction!
Ha Ha. Sorry, I'm just leaving, I'll get my coat ...
Never heard of blanket bombing?
The venue owners probably didn't have any specific risks in mind— it was just a blanket prohibition.
(bada-BUMP, thank you, I'll be here all week, tip your watress)
WWLD (What Would Linus Do?) in a situation where his security blanket is banned?
The blanket is a security threat because people could be smuggling weapons (or more likely just food and drink that they didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for) into the concert. Pretty lame if you ask me. My local outdoor concert location just makes people shake their blankets out, to show nothing is hidden.
>> Attended the NHRA drags in Ennis Tx - no water allowed in due to 'security'. Over 100Deg that day. Water 'price fixed' by the venue and sold at $4 a bottle by the vendors.
Pity the EMTs working the first aid station that day, swamped with dozens of utterly preventable heat exhaustion cases.
Can we get over this silliness now?
I think Aladdin got put on a watch list, so they wanted to make sure that if he shows up at public events, at least he won't be able to perform airstrikes.
Why was he flagged, you may ask? From what I understand, a particular leader was made uneasy by his propensity for flying up to the bedroom windows of the daughters of heads of state, and taking them for "magic carpet rides." Furthermore, he's under investigation for spreading militant propoganda about a "whole new world" with a "new fantastic point of view."
@Secret Plan Foiled:
I'm being a pedant, I know, but it's 'on cue'... a queue is a line, and a cue is a timing signal. You meant the latter, from context.
Aside from that, thank you for bringing this piece of investigative reporting to our attention.
">> Blankets can be soaked in the same stuff used to make 'touchpaper'...
So can clothing."
Umm, no. "Touchpaper", i.e. nitrocellulose, does not burn because it is coated with a chemical. It burns fast because the cellulose in the paper has been chemically altered into a new substance. So soaking a blanket in nitric acid may nitrate the blanket slightly, but will not produce the same effect as it does when used on cellulose-rich paper.
Of course, there are probably a lot of other flammable chemicals that you could use. But "touchpaper" is the wrong term here.
Ask the Native American population about threats that can be posed by blankets...
You are correct. However, nitric acid can be used turn cotton cloth (whether clothes or blankets) into nitrocellulose.
It's rather dangerous, and probably would be rather obvious if you looked for it, but it's possible.
You can create touchpaper (e.g. the paper fuse of fireworks) by soaking paper in potassium nitrate. As a kid I used to draw with this solution to produce a spectacular variation on invisible writing. Blanket material is likely to be much less flammable than paper for health-and-safety reasons - read the care label.
Same sort of thing. It's possible that any nitrate salt will work to some extent. Nitric acid will almost certainly work better (e.g. make a stronger explosive/deflagrant) but would be more dangerous for that reason. It might also be somewhat harder to get in quantity.
Even if the salts can't cause the reaction to go forward, they would act as oxidants, allowing much faster burning than just air.
Note that, no matter how strong a nitrating agent you use, you can't get a high explosive from nitrocellulose.
I'm glad I've started an impromptu chemistry discussion. I was worried that my first comment would never get replies!
The real winners from 911 include the school bullies and dropouts who now rule our lives as security guards.
Security risk? No. Idiot risk? Yes.
I used to work concert security in eastern MA and we had a show-by-show policy concerning blankets. Some shows it was perfectly acceptable to bring in a blanket as long as you shook it out when going through the security check. Other shows however, blankets were banned. Why was this? Because (and I kid you not) certain crowds had a history of using blankets as trampolines. Get enough people to hold the blanket taught around the edges and some idiot would jump in the middle. At that point it was a safety issue, and the venue was more concerned about being sued than with any possible security risks. The crowds that would do this were pretty easy to judge - Ozzfest was a definite risk while Celine Dion was definitely not a risk.
That is because people *want* Celine Dion to jump.
Yes, you can get a high explosive from nitrocellulose. It IS a high explosive, see for example "Chemistry of Powder and Explosives" by Tenney Davis. Or any of a number of other authoritative references on the subject. The "Munroe effect" of shaped charges was discovered using NC, for example. NC was used in early marine mines, especially after it was found that wet NC is pretty safe, but can still be detonated by some kept dry in the mine fuze component.
Yes, it's not normally used as such, as better things are now available. Doesn't mean it cannot be. I've detonated it here in testing.
I've worked enough event security to know it's not event security, it's crowd management. You don't let bottles in because people will smuggle in alcohol and get wasted. It's not a real security risk, but it's a huge crowd management risk. Wasted people are a pain in the ass to deal with.
Lets face it the crowd will inevitably end up drunk, high and wild. This isn't a bad thing, but it needs to be kept to reasonable limits. The key is to limit the crowd's ammo. Anything expendable is ammo, the security people don't let whole fruit in because they don't want to get pelted by it. And they don't let blankets in because the crowd can use it for fires, trampolines etc.
While it seems like some strange top down policy, it's really a sensible bottom up policy. The guys who stop you from bringing stuff in also have to deal with the consequences of whatever you bring in.
The real idiots are not the greedy promoters and overzealous security guards, but the fools who line up and pay money for these events where they are ripped off and abused. As long as people will line up and pay for abuse there will be no shortage of happy abusers.
somewhat off-topic, but
On my way through airport security last week, I was asked to remove my "hoodie", which was not a hoodie but a respectable-looking collared sweatshirt. I wanted to protest that it was neither a jacket or anything listed on their "take off" list, but didn't want to be hassled. I was wearing an undershirt underneath, but what if I hadn't?
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