The Palette Of Fear

by Jan Baughman

March 3, 2003


Time to enjoy the weekend; untape your windows, go outside and frolic -- spring is in the air and life is safe again! Tom Ridge, after consultation with John Ashcroft, has lowered the terrorist threat alert level to yellow (elevated) from the most recent and frightening orange (high). Whew! Another fuzzy crisis averted -- praise the Lord and the Department of Homeland Security.

What Color is Your Parachute?

There's a colorful new aviation security measure that will keep us safe from terror: the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, CAPPS II, in which we'll each be assigned a color based on our individual threat level. Having your colors done now takes on a whole new meaning... In this system, a background check is performed when passengers make their reservations, probably including but not limited to court records, credit reports and bank account activity, and each passenger is classified as green (good to go), yellow (requires extra screening) or red (too threatening to fly). Remember the Scarlet Letter? You just might show up with one on your boarding pass. (Total Information Awareness may have been buried or renamed, but it did not go away.)

Glow-in-the-Dark Terrorists

Another reason to crawl out of your bomb shelter and enjoy the weekend is the new policy implemented to screen all individuals who enter the country; by land, sea or air; all 500,000 per day, for radiation. (Saddam's got to get his 'weapons of mass destruction' here somehow, right?) So if a Federal Agent cozies up to you at the border or at the airport, he's most likely checking if you set off his Personal Radiation Pager. It's a subtle, feel-good, behind-the-scenes approach to national security. In fact, if every American wore a Personal Radiation Pager, we'd greatly increase the likelihood of finding that radioactive needle in the haystack, for a much cheaper price than a war on Iraq, to boot. Surely the cell phone manufacturers could devise a combination cell phone/Personal Radiation Pager with a pre-programmed hotline to the DHS. How about a PRP in every PDA?

Bring Back the Mood Ring

Mood rings would be a good way to profile individuals quickly and cheaply. Mood rings, for those fortunate enough to have missed the cultural revolution of the American '70s, were worn by just about everyone back then. Likened to wearing one's emotions on one's sleeves, the mood ring changes color in response to variations in skin temperature -- a would-be emotional thermometer. Black is bad: I am tense and nervous (severe threat); green is neutral (low threat); blue is relaxed and happy (no threat). If we all wore mood rings (mood earrings, mood necklaces and mood bracelets are options) we could anticipate and ward off a potential threat from that nervous terrorist around us.

A Kind of Blue

While we compartmentalize our existence into primary colors, the facts are there in black and white: As the US administration dances around Iraq's cooperation with the inspections and continues to raise the bar on Saddam, the threat level in Iraq remains red, no matter what transpires.

The ides of March is fast approaching.

I feel blue...and I don't mean relaxed and happy.

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Department of Homeland Security

Bomb Shelters and Personal Radiation Pagers

Mood Rings

Iraq on Swans


Jan Baughman on Swans (with bio).

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This Week's Internal Links

The Political Economy Of Oil And The War Against Terrorism - by Haider A. Khan

Being There - by Anthony Judge

Daily Dose Of Anxiety, Fear And Aggression, Courtesy of The New York Times - by Gilles d'Aymery

Remarks to the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement - by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz

Adam Smith Is Still On Our Side - by Milo Clark

Free-Style - by Michael Stowell

Making the World Safe for Oilgarchy - by Philip Greenspan

Iraq's Economic Problems - Book Review by Tanweer Akram

Excerpt from Victims of Groupthink - by Irving L. Janis

War Sonata II - Poem by Kahnupad Haider

Letters to the Editor


Published March 3, 2003
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