July 14, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 305

Computer Terrorism--Osama bin Laden Attacks My Laptop With Vengeance

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 14--A writer's greatest Terror is the failure of his or her writing ability.   Some nightmares I have include having my fingers chopped off and having to type with my toes, or becoming paralyzed and using the tip of my nose to peck out a key here, a key there.

       Last night, I assumed Osama bin Laden slipped something into my computer--some Terrorism bug that is foiling my laptop, making it not boot up, causing it to cycle over and over in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to bring the screen to life, and let me access all the data I have written on its hard drive.
        I spent hours last night trying to access my hard drive.   Over and over I tried to "re-boot" the machine.   I have no idea where that word came from, "booting up," a computer.   I assume it means kicking it, kind of like you did an old Model T when it wouldn't start.   But there's something inconsistent with taking my size 12 shoe and kicking a little computer.  Plus, I don't wear boots.
       But after countless vain attempts to "boot" the machine, the idea of giving it a good whack was coming into view.  I remember an old television set we had.  When the picture waned, I would give it a good whack along the side and the picture would brighten again.  And when it started to fade, I gave it another whack.   This was back in the "old days" before solid state, when things were a bit simpler.

    But back then, in the 50's, maybe the Terrorist of the gas tube was Ho Chi Minh, a name we didn't know yet, but to some, a veritable Terrorist.   And at home, there was Senator Joe McCarthy, rooting out "commie pinkos" on every corner, creating "black lists" of suspects that ruined lives and Terrorized careers, and made America not unlike Nazi Land.
       I guess it is in our nature to pick someone, or some group to blame for our ills.   Sociologists say it's easier for us stomach our own problems if we shovel off onto others part of our own dung.
       Still, when my computer fails, I want to blame Microsoft XP, not me.   My ineptness in handling the problem, and being somewhat computer illiterate is a far stretch for my egotistical imagination to make.   I want to shield myself from responsibility.    Vigilance, the combination of Courage, Conviction and Right Action, would take the single finger pointing away from me and encourage me to look at the three pointing back.  It would  have me take responsibility for my computer ineptness, and perhaps learn how to shut down my computer properly so it didn't lock up.   But then that would take precious time away from my job of "using" the computer rather than "caring for it."

       This morning there was a story from Washington about the Brookings Institution report on Homeland Security Department.   It said it was far too cumbersome, a monolith of power under one command, that would handicap other units from reacting, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).   Homeland Security would be in charge of floods and disasters, as well as Terrorism management.

      Arguments against the collection of power under one roof say that focusing on Terrorism should be the single goal, not collecting power.
      I wondered if maybe Washington was like me, wanting all the power of a computer and yet not being able to manage it when things went wrong.
      Maybe Terrorism is about collecting too much power and not being able to manage it.  Thus, being unable to catch a guy named bin Laden, or to reboot your own computer.
      I wonder.

Go To July 13--Roadside Terrorism

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design