A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Planes and Trains

I try my hardest to avoid the news. So it was unusual for me to follow yesterday's story of a small plane flying into a New York skyscraper. Ali mentioned it to me Wednesday as he was driving away and, jokester as he is, I quickly checked cnn.com to see if the incident had actually occured. Yes, it had, about an hour previously. The breaking story questioned the motive (terrorism? suicide? accident?), and referred to "a small aircraft." At that point, reporters were unsure whether it was a plane or a helicopter, whether it had landed inside the building or on the ground, and who had been inside.

Within a couple of hours, the story had been downgraded to "Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle dies in plane crash" and buried in the sports section. The body had not actually been identified, but by a miraculous coincidence, Lidle's passport was found lying on the sidewalk, unsinged!

MSNBC later reported,

The general aviation corridors around Manhattan have been "the Wild West," said Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y earlier Friday. He and Sen. Charles Schumer said anyone flying near the island should be under the supervision of air traffic controllers, especially in the post-Sept. 11 era.

"A smart terrorist could load up a small, little plane with biological, chemical or even nuclear material and fly up the Hudson or East rivers, no questions asked," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "I hope this will be a wake-up call to the FAA to re-examine flight patterns, which, amazingly enough, they haven’t done since 9/11."

New York’s Republican governor, George Pataki, also said the Federal Aviation Administration "needs to take a much tougher line" about private, or general aviation, flights over the city.

Well, duh. Funny that a couple of golden-agers can't take a tube of toothpaste onto a plane, and an incontinent passenger can't wait by the lav, and a suitcase full of expensive clothes can't be locked, all in the interests of "security." Yet an inexperienced pilot--or a "terrorist"--can man a one-ton weapon in and around a city of 8 million people without supervision.

Makes no logical sense if you're thinking in terms of security. Lots more sense if you're thinking in terms of subordination. Maybe I've been cataloging too much Judaica. But when I see lines of airline passengers meekly stripping off shoes, belts, wallets, and jewelry, I can only think of one thing. The trains.


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