Thursday, January 27, 2011
Overheard on CNN.com: Alternatives to color-coded threat alerts

 

COMMENT OF THE DAY: "We are currently at threat level pastel orange." --skunky99

 

Color-coded threat system to be replaced in April
U.S. replaces color-coded terror alerts

 

The almost 9-year-old color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System is scheduled to be replaced with a new system that gives detailed advisories about specific threats. There was, of course, lots of thoughtful discussion in the comments area about the implications and value of the respective alerts.

 

The majority of readers' responses expressed happiness that the old color codes were on their way out. Interestingly, many readers said they could have done better, and shared some creative, mostly joking suggestions for security threat measurement:

 

* 'Candy-coded' threats? "They should replace it with a candy-coded system. Gummy Bears for low, Mars Bar for guarded, Butterfinger for elevated, Reeses Peanut Butter Cup for high and Mike & Ike for severe." --RMRCal
* More refined colors? "Vermilion, cerise, fuchsia, amaranth and magenta." --ALP65
* Albums? "How about using a warning system that goes from 'Blackwatch Plaid' to the cover of Rush's seminal album 'Moving Pictures'?" --DrivenTooFar
* Antoine Dodson? "New Code system: Level 1: Hide yo kidz. Level 2: Hide yo wife. Level 3: Hide yo husband. Level 4: They be rapin everybody out here." --adrian401
* Condiments? "The new system will be based not on color but on flavor. It is a 12-point system starting with Chocolate and ending with Tabasco. Today's threat level is mustard with a dash of cilantro and a touch of horse radish." --RalfTheDog
* Angry unicorns? "Alert level orange basically means it's a weekday. Next up, mythical animals. Shelter in place when we reach 'Angry Unicorn' level." --Mark9988
* Addams Family? "I think they're planning on replacing it with the Addams Family code -- Code Pugsly: Not much going on. Code Wednesday: Everything LOOKS ok, but we know somethin's not right. Code Morticia: 'nuff said. Code Gomez: Extreme terror threat to the nations railroads. Code Fester: Kabooom!" --JAdams1776
* Shapes? "How about a circle. A Square. A triangle. A rectangle." --dlarsen

 

Authorities seize catapult used to hurl pot into Arizona

 

Grainy video from the Department of Homeland Security shows three men priming the throwing arm of a medieval-esque mechanism designed to hurl bricks of Marijuana over a border fence. Two of the men step away, and when the remaining man lets go, the catapult chucks its wares over the fence.

 

Many of the commenters on this story got into a spirited debate over whether this was a catapult that utilizes elastic properties to fling objects, or a counterweight-powered trebuchet, like commenter John was saying. Commenters like Dan noted "the arm of the device is springy" in the video and thus elastic forces are at work.

 

We saw all the comments you posted and wanted to let you know that we've confirmed the device is being called a catapult. David Jimarez with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Tucson, Arizona, told CNN that the device was a catapult powered by an elastic band, and there was no counterweight, as a trebuchet would use. Of course, others like commenter Mike opined that the trebuchet is a type of catapult, and thus the whole argument is moot in the first place. Or do both fall under the category of siege weapons? What do you think?

 

Regardless, readers were impressed by the creativity involved. DarkLogic said, "Gotta admit, necessity is the mother of invention. That, and simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication." NewApp compared the device to the addictive game "Angry Birds." To some like Burbank, the story was a source of amusement. "I couldn't help laughing. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my chair. I think it's time to just legalize it and stop all this nonsense. Next they'll be hurling illegals Evil Knievel style, just another weapon in the Mexican invasion."

 

Teen explains origins of mystery piano

 

Now we know. It was a teenager who admitted to hauling a piano out onto a sandbar in Biscayne Bay in South Florida. Some people were mad, some were amused, and others debated whether it's really art, as you'll see. But overall, there was a sense of killed buzz.

 

ELupeh said, "The story seemed a lot more interesting when no one knew where it came from. Now knowing the story, it seems more like a prank and less of an artistic expression. Oh well." loverpoint said, "If only there were an octopus out there that could play the piano." And if you thumb through the comments on the story, brace yourself for some puns:  "Doesn't anyone care that the sea will now be full of scales?" asked nightcelt.

 

An unsigned commenter wrote, "This is art if you consider its location and the statement behind it. Art is anything that makes a statement on its own, which this piano on a sand bar does. There is the piano alone, in the middle of the water." Among those who said it wasn't art, vannabanana wrote, "Only in America, the land of excess and waste, would such a prank be thought of as artistic, or at worst, littering. I'm not a 'green' fanatic, but the thought of taking such a valuable item and setting it on fire, or abandoning it in the ocean when it could have been donated to a school or needy organization?" redleg50 said, "Shoot, leave the kid alone. It could be worse with him roaming the streets with drugs or worse."

 

dtboco3 said, "Some of you people need to lighten up. Anyone who thinks this is somehow going to become a common occurrence has never moved a grand piano."

 

YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.

 

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

4 Comments
January 27, 2011
Click to view Emigdio's profile

Homeland security should put in two new colors for even more danger. Blackwatch plaid and a picture of the cover of Moving Pictures by Rush. And to put more emphasis on the last one, they should play Tom Sawyer every time it is seen.

January 27, 2011
Click to view WeCommandYou's profile

Yeah, the blackwatch plaid line was pretty clever. I'll bet the writers for Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law thought so too, when they came up with it.

January 27, 2011
Click to view tntaangela's profile

Good ireport.  I especially enjoyed the selection of comments on a new color-coding system.

January 30, 2011
Click to view MMAOutlet's profile

Hilarious. These suggestions make about as much sense as the current system. I laugh every time I have to go into offices in the Staples Center in LA and security still displays these.

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