Random Rants, Raves and Ramblings

A Jet-Lagged R4

Foreigners visiting the US are often struck by how people from different national backgrounds consider themselves Americans first and say, Iranians second. Being American is the overarching identity while ancestry at best serves as flavouring and at worst is something to be homeopathically diluted in the space of a generation.
If all of the US were an extrapolation of New York, they might have been right. New York is this place where you can be anything you want and where everything you want to be is a New Yorker. The city absorbs and permeates in equal measure anyone who sets foot in it, especially foreigners. The American heartland, “Power Cable, Nebraska” as Terry Pratchett likes to call it, is quite a different matter. For most of the country, New York is not really America. This to the enormous relief of both parties.

All this to say I’m back home. It cost me my usual half-empty tube of toothpaste at security. No amount of pleading as regards contents helped. Yes, they could see that it was less than half full but all judgment the regulations allow them is what the label says. Anything over 100ml is verboten. Remind me to bring an empty jam jar next time I fly.
This makes me an environmental optimist of sorts. Airline traffic will most likely grind to a halt due to escalating security screening long before oil runs out. New measures are brought in when political pressure or public opinion demands them because some attempted attack made the news, not because it was likely to work. Seriously: do you think someone too stupid to realise that anyone with good sphincter control and a ready supply of condoms can smuggle enough high explosive aboard a plane to launch a 747 into orbit would be capable of concocting a working liquid bomb? I think not. The fact that we aren’t seeing masses of Al Qaeda operatives boarding planes with clenched buttocks is testament to the fact that exceedingly few people willing to die for a cause are smart enough to do so. I think all it would take to reduce that remaining number further is to make such people feel welcome. The New York spirit may well be the better antidote against terrorism.

Friday 25 October 2013