September 14th, 2001


Radical Greens?

At first, although I thought that the most likely suspects were Islamic nationals, it also seemed plausible that it could've been radical Greens. After all, Greens are known for using violent tactics (Ted Kazcinski, bombing of animal research labs, tree spiking), and it would be easier for the typical Green (most are white Westerners) to take an airplane hostage than someone of Arab descent. Plus, both the WTC and the Pentagon are symbols of institutions often hated by radical Greens (capitalism and the military). Although it now appears that the WTC/Pentagon attack was carried out by a cell of an anti-U.S. Islamic organization, I would not be suprised to see Greens involved in a similar attack in the future.

Bomb them to the stone age?

I've been thinking about the best response to the WTC/Pentagon attack. At first, I felt the anger that I think many Americans feel:

"Let's bomb them to the stone age and let God sort them out."

However, I think that the midbrain solution is unlikely to preserve the freedom and security of U.S. citizens. Osama bin Laden's forces are diffuse and highly independent. Bombing raids sufficient to kill a significant number of those connected with the attacks are also likely to kill many more who have no more connection to the WTC/Pentagon attack than you or I do. To do so would be, in my opinion, no morally different than the attack on the WTC.

It's important to keep in mind that the U.S. has far more to lose than the Afghani's. Consider these facts:
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Beans, beans the musical fruit....

While looking up the likely effect of a bullet hole on an airplanes cabin pressure, I came across this article in Glenn Elert's Physic's Hypertextbook

"There is a truly excellent book on food science written by Harold
McGee called On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the
Kitchen. Mr. McGee's book is vast in scope and interesting on every
page. There is one peculiar essay in the chapter on legumes called
"The Problems of Legumes and Flatulence" that lends itself
particularly well to the gas laws.

We are indebted to high-altitude aircraft flight and the space
program for the recent spate of interest in flatulence. After World
War II, it appeared that intestinal gas might prove a serious problem
for test pilots. The volume of a given amount of gas increases as the
pressure surrounding it decreases. This means that a pilot's
intestinal gas will expand as he flies higher into the atmosphere in
an unpressurized cockpit. At 35,000 feet, for example, the volume will
be 5.4 times what it would be at sea level. The resulting distention
could cause substantial pain.... So the word went out across the land:
study flatulence.

McGee, Harold. "The Problems of Legumes and Flatulence." On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Fireside, 1984: 257-58.

Pfeiffer, C.J. "Gastroenterological Aspects of Manned Space Flight." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol. 150 (1968): 40-48.