Friday, August 11, 2006

Everybody's scared shitless, of shadows

This minor little story is less interesting than the comments below it. The Austin Statesman has certainly proven itself to be a fine paper since I signed up for its online edition. It has a great online news operation with at least one or two breaking news e-mails of major stories every day.

God, I'd love to move to Austin.

But this story is bizarre. Talk about
"keep[ing] Austin weird.":

It was some random note (yes, a post-it note or something) found written in Arabic on a JetBlue plane (hey, terrorists need to save cash, too!) that had officials, FBI, DHS and so on, concerned. Justifiably, I guess. Sometimes, especially from a presumably non-stop, Boston-to-Austin flight (at least one of the hijacked planes on 9/11-- Flight 11, I believe-- was out of Logan) you can't be too careful.

Anyway, someone-- a crewmember I think-- found the note. Mentioned it, a chain of casual to worried remarks were no doubt exchanged and bomb sniffing dogs were sent in. Supposedly, the passengers remained very casual and calm. People in Austin are smart, and cool, enough to realize that if a terrorist was going to blow up a plane, they wouldn't leave a fucking note about it.

So people were supposedly chatting and laughing as the search was going on. It took a couple of hours but they got off their flight unscathed and probably massively inconvenienced. Que sera.

To put this all in a time frame, this story was first posted around Thursday late morning. This a day after DHS got all flipped-out about liquids, gels or anything else with form, but not shape (solids have both shape and form, gases have neither-- thanks, Mrs. Hadley) because some terrorists were going to blow up what was presumably a glycerin IED. By Friday, things were more fleshed out and facts were clearer and more numerous.

But still, what's truly interesting about this story is the comments. Some people are cynical, some calm and some just pragmatic. So fragile is the balance between the desire for privacy, the necessity of security and the wont of convenience in all of these comments. Of course, the cynics, the damn-the-Man liberals, which are everywhere in Austin, are probably the most notable. Most of these commentors, though, seem to be regular people, which is so refreshing in online comments sections.

It also goes to show that journalists and the entire structure of mass media have absolutely no clue what regular people like (or are like) or what they need (or want).

What this story has made me realize is that the sooner a reporter realizes that, the better off he/she will be.


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