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TSA Screener caught sneaking gun through x-ray, isn't fired

I'm a little surprised we never reported on the original story of a TSA screener in Denver who was caught smuggling a weapon past security, but Boing Boing nonetheless provided us an update to the story today. Turns out the employee, Alvin Crabtree (pictured), received a 30-day suspension after the incident, but was allowed to return to his position.

So just to clarify: a TSA employee can sneak a firearm around security and not be fired for it, and TSA officials don't have to tell us whether or not he was even disciplined for the incident. But really, if he got away with a temporary, 30-day suspension -- even without pay -- he's pretty lucky.

Man robs bakery inside O'Hare airport

Last Friday at 8:45 AM, a man walked up to a lady opening up shop at the Corner Bakery in O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, demanded a bag of cash, hit her in the face, and escaped through the concourse and into the city, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The first thing that came to mind was: how? Turns out, the bakery isn't located within the secure area, otherwise this act would be nearly impossible, one hopes.

Though with the TSA running the show, they probably would have made him pour out his stolen coffee while the large bag of cash and concealed weapon goes unnoticed. *rimshot*
(Via Chicagoist)

TwittEarth: Watch tweets from around the world


I have to admit, at first I didn't really understand Twitter. Microblogging? Who cares? But then I signed up for an account, connected with a few friends, and -- like most everyone else using the service -- became addicted. It really is a great way to stay up-do-date and connected with friends and family. Heck, Gadling even has a Twitter account, but we're still working the kinks out of it so it's pretty quiet now. If you're still unsure of what Twitter is, watch this.

Anyway.

TwittEarth is a nifty little website I just found that displays recent tweets from around the world on a spinning globe, Google Earth style. It serves no other purpose than giving you a new way to look at the data, but it does a great job at that. So off you go -- sign up for a Twitter account and microblog away, or just stare at the pretty spinning globe.

(Via TechCrunch)

Follow up: Drove Someone Insane With Postcards

Remember the guy who auctioned off the service of sending your friends and family bizarre postcards from a far-off location, each peppered with enough personal information to really freak them out? We covered the story back in December of '07.

The winning bidder ended up paying $415, and they gave permission for Bryan Sack -- the guy behind the idea -- to post them on his website. Seven post cards were sent from locations around Poland and Berlin. Here are a few choice lines:
  • "I gotta tell ya, the radio here leaves a lot to be desired. It's like most of their music came from a flea market in Yonkers."
  • "If you send me an MP3 of you doing a Jackson 5 cover, there's a good chance I can make you a chart-topper."
  • "A lot of the food here is delicious, but it operates under the presumption that I will be plowing a large field or operating a grain harvester."
Can you imagine randomly getting these from someone you don't know? I'd love to here a follow-up from the winning bidder and see how the recipient reacted.

Check out all the postcards here.

(Via Boing Boing)

Pilot who misfired gun in cockpit will be fired

Remember the US Airways pilot that fired a gun in the cockpit? CNN is reporting that the airline will eventually fire him for the incident.

The Federal Flight Deck Officers Association, the organization "which represents pilots who are federally trained and allowed to carry firearms on flights," will be fighting the termination, calling the incident "accidental not intentional." Well, duh.

I don't think anyone was questioning whether the shot was intentional or not, and its intention doesn't make the bullet any less dangerous. But should he be fired for the mistake?

What do you think?

Should the U.S. Airways pilot who accidentally fired his gun in the cockpit be fired?
Yes103 (45.0%)
No98 (42.8%)
He should be promoted28 (12.2%)

RovAir.com: Single day wireless card rentals

How do you connect to the Internet when traveling?

If I'm abroad, I'm at the mercy of the hostel or hotel I'm staying at. If their connection is shaky or non-existent, I don't get online without finding a cafe. When traveling domestically here in the U.S., I use my Blackberry as a phone-as-modem (via USB) which offers decent speeds in metropolitan areas. Even in the sticks it works well enough to check email and browse the web. But it's expensive -- there's no way I use it enough to justify the cost. But the convenience outweighed the high price, so I signed my data plan contract and use it when I'm on the road.

But that was before I knew about RovAir.com. Billed as the "business traveler's best friend," RovAir offers single-day data card rentals starting at $5.95 per day. Once you sign up for an account, they overnight the card to you. You plug it into your laptop (via USB), and off you go. Our friend Christopher Elliott had a chance to test it out on a trip to New Orleans. Here's what he had to say:

"In terms of performance, the card worked flawlessly every time and offered a lighting-fast connection. I Skyped my family using video, and there were no noticeable delays. One of the things I really liked about the card is that it worked anywhere - in the hotel, the cab to the airport, at the airport. Really, anywhere I could open my laptop, I could connect."

Read his entire review here.

I really wish I would have known about this service before signing my data contract with Sprint. I could have saved a bundle of money.

RovAir.com

Choice reviews of Lonely Planet: Colombia from Amazon.com

In light of the recent news surrounding Thomas Kohnstamm, contributing author for Lonely Planet's Colombia, and his fabrication of the guidebook, I decided to weed through the reviews on Amazon and see what people had to say. It wasn't hard to find a bad one; out 16 total reviews, 14 were given only 1 star. Here are a handful of them:

"I have been a lonely planet guide book fan for many years. Unfortunately, this one is a big disappointment. I doubt the writer spent much time in the country. The info on Medellin is practically non existent. If they even bothered to read wikipedia, they could have provided 100x more info." -- San Diego Guy

"I started in Ipiales, worked my way up to Cartegena and back down to Bogota. There were the usually small errors, but by the time I reached Mompos, I wondered if the authors had visited Colombia recently." -- David Mellinger -- Short answer: no!

"This guide does little more than repeat SOME of what the previous guide did. Most likely the writer just checked out phone numbers, maybe eliminated those that did not respond." -- Col

"Go to wikipedia online and you will find out a lot more than reading this book!" -- Jack

I wonder if any of the contributing authors actually visited Colombia?

Thomas Kohnstamm wrote the History, Culture, Environment and Food & Drink chapters.

Is this the world's most disgusting ice cream?


Some people think that this is the world's most disgusting ice cream, but I disagree because it's not actually ice cream. It's sausage and a pillowy mound of mashed potatoes with pea sprinkles.

The UK company Aunt Bessie's makes this delectable treat that is apparently available in ice cream trucks around England as a cold-weather alternative. Mmmm...

'Unethical' Lonely Planet author not really that unethical after all, though he wants us to think so for the sake of promoting his own book

This weekend, news broke of the Lonely Planet writer, Thomas Kohnstamm, who admitted he fabricated portions of his guidebook coverage, and we've had several contributers -- both Gadling writers and our faithful readers -- weighing in with their opinion.

Aaron gave us 5 reasons to be outraged by this news, while Jeff White was doubtful of the legitimacy of guidebooks from the beginning. Matthew Firestone -- a guidebook author for Lonely Planet and Gadling contributer -- reminds us that not all LP authors are like this.

But it turns out Kohnstamm himself isn't even like this. His supposed unethical, stick-it-to-the-man, "they didn't pay me enough to go" actions of not even visiting the country in which he was writing about was a sham, too.

This article from the Guardian suggests that Kohnstamm -- in the guidebook publisher's defense -- "was hired to write about the country's history and not to travel there to review accommodation and restaurants."

Just another example of Kohnstamm blowing things out of proportion for the sake of shilling his own book -- all at the expense of Lonely Planet, their dedicated staff of writers, and the millions of guidebook readers throughout the world.

"It was expected I would never go to Colombia," he added.

We have a few other Lonely Planet authors on the Gadling team, so expect to hear from them, too.

Announcing the winner of the 'Green Travel' April Fool's Day contest

If you think way back to last Tuesday, you'll remember that we posted a whole collection of wacky, made up stories for April Fool's Day. And then the following day we told you that among all of those fake stories was a real one. You tried to guess which article was real, and anyone who got it correct was eligible to win a copy of the new book, Green Travel.

Here were the stories to choose from. I've bolded the real one.
That's right! "Airline mistakenly carries passenger on outside of plane" was a true story. Kent found the article in the Anchorage Times, which dated way back to 1992. It's not online, but he took the time to transcribe it, and you can read it after the jump.

Congratulations to the six people who guessed correctly. We'll randomly pick four out of those six and send you an email letting you know you've won.

Thanks for playing!

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