Despite my booze-free January I'm still well into the lardy end of the spectrum, which is just as well: they say it takes a big man to admit he was wrong. Especially when it involves what the Americans would delicately call bathroom matters.
But wrong I was. Back in October 2002, I poked the mildest of fun http://comment.zdnet.co.uk/rupertgoodwins/0,39020691,2124145,00.htm at IBM, which had patented a system for queuing for the lavatory. As I said at the time, Big Blue -- sounds a bit like a toilet cleansing product, that -- had avoided the difficult bit of predicting how long the person in front of you would take and merely codified something mankind had never had a problem with.
But these are hard times, with enemies without and within, and we are told that we must accept every indignity in the fight against terrorism. This now includes, according to the US Transport Security Administration (TSA), not queuing for the loo at all when we're flying. Passengers are not to congregate in groups in any area of the aircraft, especially around the lavatories. Looks like we might need IBM's patented motion management mechanism, after all.
Fans of faceless bureaucracy could do worse than look up the TSA's many mentions online -- it is well on the way to beating anything the Soviets produced. You can be banned from flying on a whim -- with no right of appeal. You can have arbitrary items confiscated. You can be forced to strip off in public and if you complain, you'll be arrested. You can be questioned for hours if you're overheard criticising President Bush. And now you can't queue for the loo -- although what you're supposed to do instead isn't specified.
I think the terrorists are doing much better at messing with our lives than they could ever have hoped.
(thanks to Greg Aharonian's Internet Patent News Service for reminding me about the above)