Finally, portraits of the airline hijackers from Sept. 11. What do you see when you look at those faces? Suicidal terrorists? I wonder, how can another reasonable human being do such things? If I had lunch with one of these people, would I come away thinking that he could fly a plane into a building?
A very good article by Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote The Tipping Point, a great book. This article discusses airline safety and why increased security will only lead to more severe acts of terrorism. Not the most comforting thought, but he does suggest some sensible measures which the FAA should consider. Read it quickly, while it's still posted for free by The New Yorker. I look forward to Gladwell's articles in the New Yorker. I'm not sure how to describe his work. It's a statistically informed analysis of social phenomena. If you have thoughts on how to make flights safer, and most people seem to, you should really read this article.
The airport was much more empty than usual. No cars out front. Just lots of empty police cars. I didn't find the security measures to be much more stringent than normal. Just slower. I got to the airport 2 hours early, got to the gate with over an hour to spare, and sat around for a long time. It felt more lonely at the airport. Yes you will likely have more room on the flight. Lots of empty seats to be had. Still, you can't help feeling like one of the condemned, or the foolish, sitting alone with your airline meal and your in-flight magazine.
Maybe this will be the impetus for the U.S. to build a light rail system, like the ones in Europe. Why would you even take a flight between cities like Portland and Seattle, or Los Angeles in San Francisco, if you had to get to the airport two hours ahead of your flight? The consequences of hijacking a train, confined as it is to its rails, are much less frightening than those resulting from a hijacked airplane. Airlines could cut down on the short commuter type flights and focus on filling long distance flights, narrowing their business model complexity and perhaps increasing their profits as a results. Flying is just such a hassle now, and it's only getting worse.
I wrote a bit on the flight over to Chicago. It's been a while, but it felt good to feel the words flowing a bit. In uncomfortable times, the ability to create feels like a gesture of hope.