Sunday, September 14, 2008

Emfatic on National Security

Security is a weighty matter.

Take, for example, the waddling bandit.

In case you haven't heard of him, here is what you need to know: He is a bandit. And he waddles.

Over a period of three years, he waddled into thirty different banks and waddled out with great sums of cash. But then he got caught. According to yesterday's AP report:

Shirley Ann Van Houten says she saw a man park on a side street and go to the Liberty Bank office in Springfield, but there were plenty of spots available on the main street nearer the bank. When she saw the man return from the bank with a bag, she jotted down the license plate number and called 911.

Just to be clear, we live in a country where it is suspicious to take any but the nearest parking space.

A country plagued by an obesity epidemic, yet where it is inconceivable that a fat guy might intentionally park a little farther from his destination just to waddle off a few extra calories while doing a normal, non-criminal errand.

And indeed, a country in which someone who turns in a fat man on suspicion of park-and-waddle has those suspicions confirmed, to the tune of a $10,000 reward.

Fat men have me thinking about surveillance this week.

Mike Daisey is a fat geek. He even played a fat geek in a Microsoft training film. The character was named Fat Geek.

He was in a scene with Bill Gates. Who is a rich geek.

Imagine the onscreen chemistry they must have had.
Nowadays Mike Daisey is an autobiographical extemporaneous monologist.

That is a big fat way to say he sits around and rants about what's wrong with the world. Just like me! The difference being he does it onstage and is rather famous. I do it on this blog, and . . .

Daisey's latest show is called If You See Something, Say Something. Which used to just be the unspoken M.O. of people such as Mike Daisey and me, who rant around town. But now it is the official security policy of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Which is really quite amazing. Mostly because if you have ever ridden on a NY subway, you know the smart thing to do is No Matter What the Hell You See, Keep Your Mouth Shut. (unless maybe you see some soft and cuddly as kittens dudes with dreadlocks, in which case write the New York Times at once).

Daisey's show is about the difference between postwar America, in which the Department of War morphed into the Department of Defense, and our nation experienced its largest ever peacetime military build up, and post 9/11 America, in which the Department of Homeland Security morphed into existence, and our nation experienced its largest ever privatization of the military and surveillance of just about everyone, including of course we its citizens.

These things do not make Mike Daisey a happy man. Especially since none of us seems to be any safer.

Daisey was more or less preaching to the choir by doing an anti-Bush administration monologue in Portland on September 11th. But who am I to hold back on the hallelujahs?

I for one am worried that Al-Qaeda is going to develop some kind of fatal foot fungus, then wipe us all out by releasing it in the airport security line.

It's not just the fear of a massive death toll in airports across American that terrifies me.

It's the possibility that my last meal might be Cinnabon.

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