Today is the 13th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center by Al-Qaeda terrorists. That same morning they flew a plane into The Pentagon. That last attack produced the scariest e-mail I remember seeing. I didn't learn about the attacks until I was walking into work. That day was a hot day. I began it with a six mile run before breakfast. I had breakfast before the attacks. While the attacks were occurring I was showering and getting ready for work. During my short drive to work, I didn't hear anything. When I walked into the small office building where Tidal Zone Associates was located, I ran into someone who worked in the Maryland State Comptroller's office on the first floor. She asked if I had heard that a plane had collided with the World Trade Center in NYC. I replied that I hadn't. I walked into my company's offices. People were already talking about the accident. I walked into my office and began checking my e-mail -- work related and personal. The personal e-mail had an e-mail from a Hash House Harrier who worked in the Pentagon. She began her e-mail with a story about the attacks in NYC. Then she closed her e-mail with the words "PENTAGON ON FIRE." That really scared me. I told other people I worked with. We were all shocked. The news kept piling up. No one got any work done that day.
The one thing I remember from later that day was contacting Paul Ambos in New Jersey. I knew he worked down in that part of Manhattan -- but not at the World Trade Center. He told me he was alright -- but that getting out of Manhattan had been difficult.
Months later I remember talking with a fellow Mensa member about her experience that day. She had been working in one of the two towers. She was going up in an elevator when the first plane hit the other tower. She got out. She was told to continue to work because her tower wasn't in danger. She ignored that command and took the next elevator down. She got out in time -- and quite safely. Others did not.
That day scared lots of people -- not only Americans. We were horrified at what happened. Thousands of people were dead.
Since then, our country and world has changed in many ways -- too often not for the good.
After 9/11, the United States has gone on a security kick. We have even created a Department of Homeland Security. Didn't that task used to be the work of the Department of Defense -- formerly the Department of War? Too much of the "security" really doesn't work. Back on September 10, 2007, Women In Aerospace sponsored a forum on the state of aviation security. Before I even walked in, I knew that when the Transportation Security Administration -- known in some circles as Thousands Standing Around -- tested its own "security" by trying to smuggle guns through, over 90% of the time those guns got through. That day I learned that there was a college student out there who had smuggled high explosives onto airplanes just to show he could. People at that meeting were furious with this farce. I recommend people pay more attention to Bruce Schneier and his blog Schneier on Security to learn more about this topic.
We have also launched a horrible war in the Middle East. Before the war was started, I had doubts about it. Then I discovered noted science fiction author Jerry Pournelle had started a blog he titled Chaos Manor. Jerry is fine writer -- with clearly libertarian sympathies. I still remember his protest of the upcoming war. I thought Jerry is not some sort of pacifist. If he was against the Iraq War, I felt quite comfortable also opposing it. That war has done great damage to our country and world. I do hate the Islamic terrorists -- but I want a better way of dealing with them than America's longest war.
We have moved the United States in a direction that gives far too much power to authority. This has been done supposedly to solve "security" problems and to stop "crime." These people claim even education will be better if moved in a more authoritarian direction. They don't seem to pay attention to anything that opposes their ideas, no matter how strong the evidence supporting opposing views are.
I've written enough for now. I wonder how much attention this blog posting will get -- and whether people will respond to it either in comments or directly.