Here’s the country I want to be a citizen of: the one that decides to buy comfort and convenience by deploying courage.
9/11 · We’re coming up on the tenth anniversary, and can we just get over our sustained episode of collective chickenshittedness? As Bruce Schneier has pointed out repeatedly, terrorists post-9/11 have lost the ability to use planes as weapons, for two reasons: The cockpit doors are strengthened and locked. The passengers have learned that fighting is their best option; butter-knives against machine guns if that’s all there is.
All the extra scanners and pat-downs and machines and line-ups are buying us, unless all the experts I read are wrong, more or less nothing.
Here’s What We Do · Go on X-raying luggage; why not? Plus, don’t let a plane take off if someone has checked in luggage but isn’t on board; easy and almost always non-intrusive. As for passengers, just lighten up. To start with, drop all the silly rules about toothpaste and shoes and laptops having to be out of the bag.
Me, I’d go further, I’d just return to the best practices of around AD 2000. Then I’d slash huge numbers of airport-security drones and replace them with one-tenth the number of elite criminal investigators. Because history should have taught us by now that counterterrorism is police work. And basically, let’s show some courage. Airplanes crash, but they’re safer than driving, and they’d still be safer even with substantially relaxed security.
Why are we letting the terrorists succeed by making us act as if we’re frightened? Most of us aren’t, really.
Customer:“I came in a couple hours ago to pick up my pictures, and my wife says we’re 17 pictures short! This always happens when we come here! Is it really so hard to keep track of one f***ing order?”
(The customer continues to rant for several minutes, getting louder and more obscene. The phone rings.)
Me:“Thank you for calling [store], how may I help you?”
Caller:“I was in there an hour and a half ago and the dumb*** in front of me left 17 pictures on the counter that I accidentally took home with my pictures. What kind of moron leaves pictures on the counter?”
Me:“Show me the problem you’re having so I can see if I can fix it for you.”
(She has six passwords each over twenty characters long, Bios password, Windows password, Zone Alarm Password, Outlook Password, etc…)
Me:“You don’t need to have your passwords that long for security’s sake.”
Customer:“I read on the internet that sniffers give up if the password is too long.”
Me:“I’m happy you did your research, but you don’t have to have it longer then 15 characters long.”
Customer:“Well I’m afraid if someone steals my laptop, the programs that can recover passwords can’t detect past twenty letters.”
Me:“That’s true, but no one really does that anymore. In this business we have customers coming in all the time to have us remove the password for them because they forgot it. For instance, I can get into your laptop in less then 2 – 3 minutes without your help.”
Customer:“No way. I’ve made precautions.”
Me:“I will be more then happy to show you that I can. But I would have to charge you a half hour fee and you would have to sign the work order giving me permission to.”
Customer:“And if you can’t? ”
Me:“Then I will be more then happy to refund you the money and you would have won this war.”
(Customer then pays the fee and signs the work order.)
Me:“Give me a moment.”
(A minute later.)
Me:“Here you go, I’m logged in to your Outlook.”
Customer:“Oh my God! How did you do that?”
Me:“If your really worried about someone stealing your laptop, you shouldn’t have laminated your passwords to the laptop.”
I saw the best bloggers of my generation hired by print publications, abandoning their Tumblrs,
dragging themselves to an office at dawn missing their warm pajamas,
tousle-headed hipsters burning for a paycheck in the blight of recession,
who uninsured and anxiety-dreaming and hungry and hungry sat up typing in the baby-plagued halogen of coffeeshops slumping against hard wood and contemplating Brangelina,
who bared their souls to Indonesian teenagers under the covers and saw pageviews racking up on servers unprotected,
who passed through liberal arts schools with regrettable haircuts hallucinating careers and stability among the scholars of media,
who were expelled from the dream for cost & publishing to their LJs during work hours,
who cowered in Bushwick lofts in sweatpants, burning their weed in bongs and listening to the Band through the wall
who got busted in their stage clothes returning through the LES with a messenger bag full of fliers for Williamsburg,
who snorted coke in rose-scented bathrooms or drank PBR on Ludlow, hungover, or purgatoried their heads night after night,
with dreams, with drugs, with sleepless nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable unswept streets of broken glass and meat on the pushcart sizzing toward poles of Washington Heights & Astoria, scenting all the brie-less worlds of Other Places in between,
outlawed cigarette solidarities of halls, backyard gunshot fire escape nights, weed blurriness over the rooftops, storefront side streets of bodega ATM dot-matrix bike lanes, wifi and cellphone and subway vibrations in the roaring summer afternoons of Brooklyn, dumpster diving and kind bud light of mind,
who plugged themselves in to iPods for subway rides from Jefferson Street to unholy midtown on coffee until the noise of the wheels and the mariachi band brought them up shuddering and pissed-off all drained of interest in the drear light of Rockefeller,
who sank all night in tasteful light of Max Fish stumbled out and rode through the bleak Diet Coke morning in desolate Towncars, listening to the crack of doom on the ozone-smoke radio
“… But those of us well-versed in the ancient wisdoms know that the real 12 stages of a lunar eclipse are as follows: Faint penumbral dimming of the moon’s disk.
Pervasive creeping sensations of unease.
Howling of wolves.
Unclean things walk the earth; Dick Cheney rises from the grave.
Contortion of the zodiac.
Intrusion of strange dimensions.
Universal gibbering madness.
A glimmer of sanity in the chaos.
Restoration of Euclidean geometry.
Fungal Mi-go from Yuggoth return captive brains to their rightful owners.
Applause, followed by waffles for breakfast.”—The Real 12 Stages of a Lunar Eclipse | Retort, via Ectomo.