Remembering: Seven Years On

It’s now been seven years since 9/11. Seven years of more unnecessary wars and death around the world. Seven years of George W Bush and the ridiculous, damaging policies of him and his cronies (thankfully not for much longer though). Seven years of loss for families whose loved ones never returned home from work that day.

To everyone who died that day – we remember. For everyone else – here’s to a better world.

Montreal’s Approach to Terrorism

An interesting day in Montreal for those following the ‘war on terror’. Firstly, Trudeau airport was closed for a number of hours because someone ‘accidentally’ snuck a knife past security. This caused hours of delays for everyone as the airport was closed down and the guy eventually found – he said he hadn’t realised that the multi-tool he was carrying was prohibited.

Then late last evening, a man outside of the American Embassy threatened to detonate a bomb in his backpack. This explained why on the way back from our curry last night we saw a pile of police cars screaming along, as opposed to the couple of cops in the curry house posing for photos with the hen parties. What’s interesting to me is that the guy eventually put his backpack down and surrendered, where it turns out there was no bomb. The guy was charged with disturbing the peace. One suspects that in America he’d have been shot, or at the very least would be on his way to Cuba by now.

Google’s World of Terror or Hope?

Apparently Google’s satellite map imagery was used by the recently arrested alleged terrorists in planning their attack on New York’s JFK. This is one example of where increased access to information can have a downside, but for the most part the stories coming out of Google’s amazing map service are positive. Aid groups are using satellite imagery to watch attacks on villages in Darfur, an Italian programmer found archaeological remains based on a strange shaped shadow and Iraqis can use the service to draw up maps to escape from local militant groups – or ‘liberating’ troups.

Conspiracy is what they want you to think…

How in the f*ck can two engines and a tail fin fall off at the same time! All the ways you have power and can steer at once… Jeezus. This sounds like that flight a few years ago that went down just out of JFK for ‘no apparent reason’. Ho hum. Remind me never to fly out of JFK again.. that airport is jinxed. It’s probably something to do with the name…

It must be Monday

As I came into work this morning I wondered why it was so quiet and everyone looked so subdued. As I walked into the office I remember thinking “maybe there’s been another terrorist attack and I don’t know yet”. Get in, turn on my mail and find an e-mail from a friend in the UK going “are you OK?”. Ho hum. ‘Luckily’ it appears to have been an accident. For a while though everyone in the office was stopping shock still and staring out of the window whenever we heard anything that sounded like a plane engine.

On a more happy, random note – went for dinner in Il Buco the other night and sat across from Matt Damon. Not as good as Matt Affleck but you can’t complain.

It’s fluffy and white

And it was falling from the sky in Times Square today. No, it wasn’t snow (although it was so cold it could have been) – it looked a lot like fluffy white dandelion seeds. Ah, bless. Of course with my current levels of paranoia running at 500% (+/- 2%) it could have been carrying anything – from anthrax to small nuclear bombs. Still, it was pretty.

Unlike this screenshot I took from my browser just now. It was bad enough to see the picture of that poor woman looking more like a skeleton than I’ve ever seen, but the eDiets advert at the top made me double take (I added the figures myself). Thanks to Meta-Filter for the link.


Last night I sat in bed for a while wondering exactly what time to set my alarm for. The reason behind this indecision? Well, depending on when I get up affects what time I get on the subway. What time I get on the subway affects what time I hit town. So then what time do I think would be safest to be in midtown in Manhattan? Is it likely to be attacked early morning again? Or in the evening? Maybe we’ve already been attacked by an invisible cloud of anthrax spores? Who fucking knows? Would the government tell us if they knew it had happened, or would they keep it quiet to prepare for the panic they know will come?

Everyone is being affected by this high grade paranoia to one level or another. In some ways it’s interesting to see how people react to it, moving towards behaviors they consider ‘safe’ to try and keep calm. As for me I’m trying to do more coding, something I’ve realised is one of my ‘flow’ activities (I immerse myself in it and am rarely distracted). In reality though, what can you do about it? Nothing. I could move somewhere else, but most places I’d want to move are probably still targets and also likely less prepared than New York is. So I’m just going to sit here and enjoy my headache – which I don’t think is a symptom of anything other than stress.. is it?

Meanwhile it’s nice to see that the high quality of US air terminal checkpoints is being maintained. “Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said FAA agents monitoring a checkpoint saw screeners allowing passengers to continue through after security alarms went off.” (from Yahoo). Jesus wept. I wrote about this a while ago, when on a trip to Newark I walked through but they didn’t check my wallet for anything such as knives. There really are some morons out there who have no understanding of how important their job is.

I can see you…

A while ago talks of automated face recognition systems in London would have caused a lot of heated debate. Now the debate has changed to “why haven’t these been in place at airports?”. The comment about the stocks of companies that produce biometrics software, software that can recognise people based on physical characteristics, was interesting – another article yesterday was commenting that they are trying to track down people affiliated with the terrorists through some irregular stock movements prior to the bombing. There was some speculation that this might have even been the chief suspect himself using the terror attack as a way to generate more funds. Sounds like Die Hard to me – maybe we should levy the blame on Hollywood for giving terrorists all these ideas?