651: Bag Check

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Bag Check
A laptop battery contains roughly the stored energy of a hand grenade, and if shorted it... hey! You can't arrest me if I prove your rules inconsistent!
Title text: A laptop battery contains roughly the stored energy of a hand grenade, and if shorted it... hey! You can't arrest me if I prove your rules inconsistent!


Cueball argues with a TSA agent at an airport security checkpoint over the TSA policy of prohibiting airline passengers from bringing liquids or gels in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) in their carry on items. In an attempt prove his point, Cueball points out that if he did want to make a bomb he could simply take the lithium ion battery from his laptop computer to turn into an improvised explosive. Cueball is attempting to point out that the security policy is missing the forest for the trees, however, because the explosive properties of lithium ion is not common knowledge, this instead simply makes the security team additionally suspicious why he would know that.

The title text continues Cueball's line of argument, segueing into a protest as the situation escalates to the point of Cueball apparently being placed under arrest, again with the joke being that even fewer people still would know how explosive a hand grenade is. This is, however, a bit of an exaggeration, as for them to place someone under arrest, they need real reason to think that they are going to do something bad, and simply knowing this information is not enough to justify this action.

Interestingly, in 2017 a ban on laptops and other large, battery-equipped devices (but not smartphones) in the cabin was initiated by the United States, and followed by other countries, with the stated aim of lowering the risk of somebody bringing an explosive onto the plane inside it. Granted, this was in response to a Somali incident where a bomber snuck a laptop loaded with actual explosives (not just the batteries) onto a plane, but the similarities are still quite evident.


[Cueball and Megan are at a security checkpoint in an airport. A guard is holding an open backpack and a bottle of water, and Cueball is arguing with him. Megan is facepalming.]
Cueball: But if you're worried about bombs, why are you letting me keep my laptop batteries? If I overvolted them and breached the cells, it would make a sizeable explosion.
Megan: Oh god.
Cueball: It's okay, dear. In a moment he'll realize I have a good point and return my water.


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I am presuming beret guy has not been invented yet?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 05:08, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Beret first appeared in 167: Nihilism. This doesn't seem like his sort of thing anyway, since he could probably just drink out of the USB ports... -Pennpenn 06:42, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

I wonder if Randall got arrested for posting this comic and why it's still up. It sort of contains a guide to build a bomb, doesn't it? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Probably not. After all, just because people can easily learn how to pick a lock doesn't mean that people will go out and break into houses. SilverMagpie (talk) 05:29, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

Wait, if he proves the rules inconsistent, doesn't that mean that they can arrest him for anything via the principle of explosion? 15:05, 14 March 2022 (UTC)