Sunday, December 18, 2005
I cannot count the times I've heard some PowerPoint jockey explain wisely that the Chinese character for Crisis combines the ideograms for Danger and Opportunity.
Today's New York Times explodes this myth. The characters of weiji mean "a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry. A weiji indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially wary. It is not a juncture when one goes looking for advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save one's skin and neck!"
Saying something is so doesn't make it so.
Which brings me to our president, who justifies illegally spying on citizens because we are at war with terrorists. War? What war? The U.S. has not declared war on terrorists. This is merely incendiary language to get us riled up. The War of Terrorism is like the War on Poverty; it's a metaphor. Duh.
W and his cronies conjured up the War on Terrorism because Americans are traditionally loyal to wartime presidents. I suspect the invasion of Iraq follows the same logic. Maybe W. shirked military service, but now he's Commander in Chief, so you're expected to salute (unless you're unpatriotic).
Homeland used to mean "the country where somebody was born or where somebody lives and feels that he or she belongs." Now the accent is on home. Imagine these rag-top terrorist bastards invading your house, smashing your stuff, raping the women, killing the children, and blowing the place to smithereens by detonating a truckload of plastic explosive in your driveway.
Be Vigilant... and report any suspicious person or package to local authorities or TSA personnel, warns the Transportation Safety Administration. The TSA is using money that could otherwise go to improving education and healthcare to pay more than 50,000 people to frisk passengers and search suitcases. They put thousands of federal air marshals on tens of thousands of flights each month.
In the last 30 days, I've been searched like a suspected smuggler, patted down, and asked to remove my shoes, undo my belt, and hand over my luggage for inspection. Many times. As if a terrorist is going to walk into this rather than simply blowing up an unguarded post office or university administration building. Since putting one passenger out of a hundred through this wringer would achieve the same deterrent effect as doing everybody, the TSA either does not understand statistics or is just fanning the flames to remind us we're at war.
I don't like to see the government wasting my money. I don't like being lied to. I don't like having my country look stupid on the world stage. I don't like alarmist propaganda putting people on edge. I'm mad as hell but I guess I'll have to wait for the next election to do anything about it.
Which brings me to the Bay Area Rapid Transit district (BART). These are the guys who hired an aerospace company to design a subway and ended up with non-standard gauge rails that only accommodate expensive cars manufactured in France.
BART's ace security team has mounted posters like this one just in time for the Christmas season.
A poster like this is highly unusual but I haven't figued out who to report it to.