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Threat Level Bershon

According to an article in today's New York Times "behavior detection officers" at airports are now keeping an eye out for persons wearing the following expressions:

In other words, in addition to having to forgo your iPod and hair gel you will now be required to check in your teen prior to boarding.

I understand they've carved out a little space for the youngsters down in the cargo hold, where they will be serving Hi-C and showing The Apple Dumpling Gang. Oh, that sounds delightful!

Posted on August 17, 2006 to Observations



Posted by: Matthew on August 17, 2006 9:06 AM

Being in an airport, waiting in line to be searched, having to take my shoes off and worrying that I inadvertently have a contraband item in my bag causes me to make most of those expressions. Add in flight delays and crying babies and I'll be pulled aside right away.

Maybe I could paint a clown face on, that expression isn't on the list.

Posted by: Hope on August 17, 2006 9:19 AM

All clowns are terrorists.

Posted by: srah on August 17, 2006 9:33 AM

I didnt know that you couldnt take iPods on the plane anymore. Man, it's been forever since my last air travel experience... I can't keep up with all the banned items!

Posted by: Jenn on August 17, 2006 10:35 AM

Not to worry! Pop a few Prozac before the security gate and you'll fly right through! Everyone in line ahead of you, frustrated by the long line, will be pulled aside and questioned for simply emoting that!

Look forward to having no one between you and the metal detectors.

Posted by: Tom on August 17, 2006 10:39 AM

When I'm standing in line for a security checkpoint my usual expression is some combination of disgust & anger.

Posted by: Mike on August 17, 2006 11:23 AM

I think this is just a clever marketing strategy for Botox.

Posted by: Brad on August 17, 2006 11:25 AM

A friend of mine just got thrown up against a wall and searched by security in Minneapolis. I was blaming those suspicious dimples of his. But clearly, he must have been pressing his lips together.

Posted by: trinamick on August 17, 2006 11:50 AM

The "Apple Dumpling Gang" was my absolute favorite. My mom took me when I was 8 years old, and she sat through two showings of it with me, back to back. I often think back on that as an example of true motherly love.

Posted by: lynn on August 17, 2006 12:02 PM

How am I supposed to check my expression if I cannot take my mirror on board the plane?

Posted by: Sky on August 17, 2006 12:03 PM

I got here through 50books and while finding you very enjoyable, you became even MORE enjoyable upon my finding the picture of the Gorgon card on the homepage right now. I love randomly stumbling upon board game people online. Also, Colossal Arena is ONE FUN GAME.

Anyway, this was totally unimportant, but I wanted to say that gave me a tickle. I'm a member at the 'geek as well--I'll keep an eye out for you over there, too.

Posted by: bristlesage on August 17, 2006 1:21 PM

Wouldn't the terrorists be happy that they're about to blow up a plane for Allah? Why would they look sad or angry? They should start searching people who high-five in line and look like they just got laid.

Posted by: monkeyaker on August 17, 2006 1:23 PM

This is good to know. I'm going to get a major Botox treatment before the next time I try to blow up a plane.

Posted by: Lost Poke on August 17, 2006 1:36 PM

I think they forgot angsty -- probably a combination of Anger, Disgust and Sadness.

Posted by: Kelsey on August 17, 2006 2:58 PM

I brought my ipod (actually a creative zen photo) on a plane today, no one got mad at me. Listened to it for 2 hours straight.

the more you know.

Posted by: John on August 17, 2006 3:04 PM

I'm very curious to know where they found this exemplary thespian to give us such a broad and shocking range of emotions.

I'm impressed.

Posted by: John on August 17, 2006 4:40 PM


Posted by: Mister Man on August 17, 2006 5:59 PM

That "disgust" face -- that's hot.

Posted by: i, squub on August 17, 2006 6:03 PM

They left one out: Fanatical--head thrown back, mouth wide open, towel on head,screaming "Die you decadent Western pigs!" I'm pretty sure if they don't tell the screeners exactly what to look for, they would miss somebody with this particular expression while they're doing a cavity search on somebody's 85 year old grandmother.

Posted by: Davey on August 17, 2006 7:40 PM

Everyone, to avoid being tagged a terrorist and subsequently maimed by explosive sniffing canines, lick a ecstasy tablet well beforehand.

Posted by: Sapphire on August 17, 2006 7:42 PM

Just another reason to get shitfaced before you fly. Sloppy drunk is the only expression not on the list. Maybe they'll let you pee in the explosives bucket.

Posted by: pjcamp on August 17, 2006 7:50 PM

I'm a fan of the different lighting in each photo. And the fact that anger and disgust look basically the same.

Posted by: Joanne on August 17, 2006 9:02 PM

Flying tomorrow. Will they detect my heart-felt wish to ditch the boyfriend who's only coming with me on vacation because I don't want to drive from NY to Cape Cod all by myself? Is that disgust or sadness.

Posted by: Anonymous on August 17, 2006 11:00 PM

? Punctuation is our only civilizing force.

Posted by: lisa on August 17, 2006 11:03 PM

You should be very afraid of the person who has all these expressions on his/her face at the sametime.

Posted by: Hlu on August 18, 2006 3:54 AM

Don't know how I'll avoid any combination of those faces as I hate to fly thanks to a hearty fear of it, and will be pissed off the next time I get on a plane because the only reason that is going to happen is because my husband would be dragging me to go visit his mother. So that should take care of fear, anger, and disgust all at once. Throw in a little sadness for knowing that if the tin can with wings and an engine crashes on the return trip, I'll have spent my last days on earth with my mother in law, then we'll have the whole spectrum covered. Fantastic! I'll just plan ahead for the cavity search.

Posted by: katie on August 18, 2006 4:42 AM

Just wait until those fanatics find out that this is exactly the set of expressions the 72 virgins in Paradise employ. That'll show 'em.

Posted by: RichM on August 18, 2006 5:57 PM

This makes me feel funny deep inside my soul. I can't quit looking at it.

Posted by: Pioneer Woman on August 18, 2006 6:55 PM

Hey! I just read the book that those photos are from. It's Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman. The pictures are of his daughter. Very interesting book. I hear he has a CD to train people to read emotions from very subtle expressions, but I haven't wanted to pony-up the dough. I guess the terrorists win.

Posted by: morecoffee on August 19, 2006 8:34 PM

Profiling is a tricky subject, as it can be very effective or very ineffectual depending on what it's used for and who you're looking for. Malcolm Gladwell wrote this article for the New Yorker about the "category problem" in most profiling. His point is that categorical profiling is often a shortcut to avoid genuinely effective policy change, which is more subtle and takes more time. He uses the blanket ban on pit bulls to show the deficiencies in similar methodologies used on humans. It's a brilliant article.

Posted by: chris r on August 20, 2006 4:52 PM

Forget fear and disgust, I was having a dificult time deciding if that was a girl or a boy.

Posted by: AZ Dave on August 20, 2006 5:00 PM

I want to print out these faces and put them on my wall so i can memorize them.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

Posted by: RC of strangeculture on August 20, 2006 11:37 PM

so if cybil tries to get on the plane will only two of her personalities be detained?

Posted by: Anonymous on August 21, 2006 5:50 AM

Well, I'm screwed. I have very low-set eyebrows, which results in customers constantly telling me to "cheer up" or ask "having a bad day?" even when I'm in fine spirits. Apparently, I perpetually look angry. Trying to deliberately raise my eyebrows and smile the whole time I'm standing in line at the airport would probably result in severely suspicious facial twitching.

Posted by: Khate on August 21, 2006 8:41 AM

Holy Cannoli this is scary!! Who the heck ever looks *happy* standing in line? (well, other than the terrorists, as already stated)
Not that I worry for my teen, he has Aspergers... he always has the same facial expression, and it goes something like this...
:-| aka "I don't give a crap"
Maybe he should get on the plane and the rest of our family should check into the cargo hold.

Posted by: Goldie on August 21, 2006 8:55 AM

Pretty soon there will be so much restriction that
we will have to be naked and sedated.

Posted by: Anonymous on August 22, 2006 9:29 AM

I'd be much more supicious of anyone NOT showing those facial expressions. I'd want to know what some guy in line is giddy and can't stop smiling. That's creepy!

Posted by: meice on August 22, 2006 5:41 PM

chris r - fascinating article. Thank you for posting the link.

Posted by: Sandra Regina on August 28, 2006 6:57 AM