14, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
Computer Terrorism--Osama bin Laden Attacks My Laptop With
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
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
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.
To July 13--Roadside Terrorism
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