Thursday, July 07, 2005


I had this thing I was messing with, trying to learn how to fit a time series on the fatalities from Iraq, when I heard about the bombings in London.

It's absolutely horrible. Crooked Timber has an open thread for people from London to leave messages for their non-London friends, so you may want to stop in there.
I'm sure the UK's Red Cross will know what to do with any money you can spare. A Fistful of Euros is where I'm looking for updates.
Luckily, early reports on the death toll are pretty low. Any deaths are awful, but this could have been much worse. That's cold comfort to those affected, but it's all the comfort that can be extracted.

I visited England with my parents in 1992. We spent a couple weeks, mostly in London, seeing the sights, enjoying the "Mind the Gap" warnings in the Tube, touring the museums, and trying to decipher the indigenous culinary style.

Those were the days before the Good Friday accords, and signs of terrorism were everywhere. Not in damaged buses or rushing ambulances, but in a persistent state of caution.

When we arrived at Gatwick, we got our luggage and headed to the train into the city. As we were sitting there, another passenger asked whose bag was sitting above our heads. No one claimed it, and everyone got a little nervous. A porter came, looked at the bag, and scratched his chin. Then, as we all stared fearfully, he grabbed it and walked briskly off the train. Within minutes of our stay in Britain, we were indoctrinated into life in a terrorized nation.

All over the town, signs warned you to beware of abandoned packages. Garbage cans in the Tube were sealed "for your protection." It didn't affect you every moment, but the "constant vigilance" you'll hear about from our leaders was very taxing.

Our misadventure in Iraq has allowed Osama bin Laden to escape and rebuild his command structure. His lieutenants are using Iraq as a training ground, more effective by the CIA's accounting than Afghanistan ever was.

These bombings can only be read as OBL throwing Bush and Blair's failure back in their faces. That this is how he pranks his enemies tells you something about his depravity.

The scariest thing for me as an American (and an erstwhile New Yorker) is that this can and will happen in New York, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, etc. I doubt that Lawrence, or even Topeka, Wichita, or Kansas City, need to worry too much.

That's what struck me so powerfully about The Interpreter. There's a scene where assassins blow up a New York City bus, and I couldn't stop myself from wondering why that had never happened before. It will, mark my words.

I fear for what will become of this country then.