Sunday, July 03, 2005

Safe in their alabaster chambers

What's the deal with all this special security for 4th of July? I mean, if I were a terrorist (or a thief for that matter) why would I pick the one day when there's going to be extra police everywhere and everyone's going to be expecting trouble? Because I'm a compulsive over-achiever maybe? Or because I'm afraid that if I nuke a major urban centre on a day of no historical significance nobody will pay me any attention?

So okay, I see why you probably want to have extra security around major historic monuments and places where there are large crowds and suchlike. But what's the logic for turning my sad little department building into a maximum security installation? I had to show my ID at three different check points before they'd let me into my own office! What's next, retinal scans? And then, fifteen minutes later this guard shows up with a gun in his holster (a gun I ask you! What is he afraid of? That I may have one of those new armour piercing staplers?) at my cube and demands to see some ID!

I mean hello, people, it's a crummy business school, not Fort Knox. Do they really think agents of Al Quaeda are just waiting for the slightest slip up in security to break in? For what? So they can steal our incredibly advanced computer hardware? (oh, my God! One of our new Dell Flat Panel monitors has gone missing! And the Dell keyboard is gone too! The enemy will have access to all the letters in our alphabet! Call the Pentagon!).

Or maybe they're afraid the terrorists are after all this vitally important data we have around here? (Scene in Osama's secret desert hideout: "I bring glad tidings Exalted One! Risking their lives, our valiant agents have snatched a pathbreaking secret from under the very nostrils of the enemy. Just listen to this: A study of 78 undergraduates in a prominent US business school found that people who were actually given a question paper did considerably better on a test than those who had no idea what the questions were. The difference was found to be statistically significant at a 5% level! This study provides clear evidence in support of motivation theory! At last! With this data in our hands, the day is not far when we shall wreak havoc on those cursed infidels!)

Or maybe it's not that they want to steal anything. maybe they just want to destroy the building. Blow it up while it's empty so that no one will see them do it. What an amazingly fiendish plan! Just imagine - everything gone up in smoke - books on strategy that no one reads, dental plan records dating back thirty years, half finished dissertation papers, half eaten pizza and 65 whole mail slots filled with junk mail - all vapourised at the push of a button! No more annotated footnotes! No more revise and resubmits! 5% less papers in obscure academic journals for the next five years! What a blow against the Great Satan! How will the US government ever respond to this one?

And even if someone really wanted to strike a blow for their cause, is this really going to stop them? I mean think about it: I'm a bloodthirsty terrorist. I'm armed with automatic weapons and have sworn to show no mercy. I'm on a mission to destroy all of Philadelphia with this deadly thermo-nuclear device I've got sown into the seam of my shorts. But alas! My plan has been foiled! Two fat guys with a card-scanning machine are in my way. I can't get by them because my incredibly sophisticated network of accomplices (our tentacles are everywhere) couldn't manage to source one lousy fake college ID! It's all over! All right, boys - it's a fair cop. I'll go quietly. Just don't tell my advisor, okay, he'll get me to do extra course credits.

(never mind that anyone who's studied Al Quaeda's MO would know that they tend to prefer frontal attacks from the outside. Or maybe that's what they're afraid of - a man inside guiding the hijacked airliner from one of these cubicles: "What? What do you mean you're over Lincoln and CHESTNUT? I specifically told you to go right at that intersection two miles back. Aren't you listening to me? What do you mean you stopped to ask for directions? Okay, look, where are you now? Where the hell is that? Wait, let me open up Google Maps and figure this out. Meanwhile you just keep circling where you are, okay...")

Ranting is such fun, isn't it?

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