Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Is the terrorists winning?

Yesterday I was walking back to my office after lunch when a gleaming new gargantuan SUV went screaming through a red light with a blue light flashing on the dashboard and a siren making that Lost in Space swirling squeal. Another one came through right after, while a black helicopter scraped the rooftops then banked into a tight circle over downtown Boston. Twenty five years ago I happened to be on Connecticut Ave. north of Dupont Circle when John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan (thereby saving his failing presidency -- remind you of any more recent events?) and this felt the same. Back then, instead of white SUVs, they were dark blue sedans, but of course SUVs hadn't been invented.

Back at my computer, I determined that a couple of tourists had their bags sent ahead to South Station. When they caught up with the luggage, they heard something ticking. The Protectorate of the Glorious Fatherland shut down Amtrak and the computer rail, evacuated the station, and sent in a robot to X-ray the bag. Tobor the Eighth Man determined that it contained a cassette player, which the tourists had absent mindedly left running.

That night on our local Fox News at 10, the helmet-haired newsbots were nearly as excited as they normally get over a bit of inclement weather, which is saying a lot. They interviewed some people who had spent an hour and a half stuck in a train in the tunnel, and others who had been herded into a pen of yellow tape by the police while they were making the world safe for democracy. All the people seemed proud to have done their bit for the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. A police deputy superintendent praised the tourists for coming forward and urged the rest of us to do the same.

Osama doesn't have to blow anything up. He doesn't even have to phone in a threat. He just has to sit back in his cave and watch us on Fox, wacking ourselves in our tender parts with a shiny silver, rhinestone encrusted baton.

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