Wednesday, August 16, 2006

HEEVAHAVAS!

First off, Kari Milchman from the New York Press, in a column on a variety of things concerning the foiled air terror plot.

" . . . on Friday, the NYPD decided to improve their five-year-old program designed to monitor local sales of chemicals, such as industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide, which could be used to make liquid explosives like the ones allegedly to be deployed in the foiled transatlantic terrorist plot," writes Milchman. "Under Operation Nexus, as the program is called, investigators contact chemical suppliers in the NYC area and urge them to be aware of any unusual activity and to report any thefts or questionable purchases. What exactly constitutes a legitimate purchase of industrial-strength hydrogen peroxide, I don’t know. Endeavoring to turn the private sector into a PTA snow chain of sorts may just work, but let’s hope that the proprietor being asked to report crazy Johnny-chemist didn’t just have his briefcase rifled through by some suspicious cop on the subway."

Crazy Johnny-chemist! Now that's a great insult. Almost as good as heevahava!

Like many journalists, Milchman must have no idea how things work in modern society. Much to the mild annoyance of those who do know. Dear Kari, in this case, Google is your friend.

"Since it was first commercialized in the 1800's, [hydrogen peroxide or H202] production has now grown to over a billion pounds per year (as 100%)," informs an industrial vendor, genially.

"In addition to pollution control, H2O2 is used to bleach textiles and paper products, and to manufacture or process foods, minerals, petrochemicals, and consumer products (detergents). Its use for pollution control parallels those of the movement itself -- municipal wastewater applications in the 1970's; industrial waste/wastewater applications in the 1980's; and more recently, air applications in the 1990's. Today, H2O2 is readily available throughout the U.S. in drum, tote, mini-bulk, and bulk quantities in concentrations of 35% or 50% by weight."

Next, Dick Destiny was so taken with the heevahava-ness of of Daniel Engbar's "Explainer" at Slate last week, it's repeated.

Engbar began imagining the results if one could drink the components of a liquid bomb to pass through security checkpoints.

"But if you could somehow disguise your liquid bomb ingredients as milk or juice, you could probably get away with a little gulp in front of the airport screeners," wrote Engbar. "In very large doses, acetone also has a narcotic effect, and hydrogen peroxide can cause your bowels to rupture."

How informative, dear heevahava!

"Gentlemen, surely you're not going to take the word of a soulless mechanichal device over that of a flesh and blood man?" asked Harry Mudd plaintively in the Star Trek episode, "Mudd's Women," in re-runs on G4TV a little while ago.

That'd be just the thing for the war on terror! It indulges the classic American conceit that some technology, any technology -- there's gotta be something (!) -- will make the present mess all better.

Kevin Drum was hip for it. Drum imagined DARPA funding one of its military vendors to come up with a electric molecular resonant ray to bathe the brain of those under suspicion at the airport. Thus, terrorists (or nervouse people) will be magically revealed through technology, done in like Harry Mudd.

"As USA Today reported a couple of years ago, 'The Defense Department's Polygraph Institute at Fort Jackson, S.C., is financing at least 20 projects aimed at finding a better lie detector. Another Pentagon office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is exploring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other technologies.' You can read more . . . about the fMRI research, which is based on recent findings that different areas of the brain are active when a person tells the truth as opposed to when they lie . . . This technology isn't ready for prime time yet, not least because sticking people inside an MRI machine at airports isn't exactly a feasible concept. But I wouldn't be surprised if a better and more reliable version of this technology were available within five to ten years."

". . . I'll bet that it's coming, like it or not . . . "

Yep, when Hell freezes over.

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