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May 09, 2004

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Thanks for the post Edward. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one with the dirty bomb thoughts. Not exactly the way i planned on living when i moved to NYC. Kind of makes me wish we had gone after Al Qaeda full force instead of the Saddam split. Nothing like knowing exactly who bombed your neighborhood to make your politics VERY local.

It's nice to know I wasn't the only one with the dirty bomb thoughts.

From what I can tell Wilfred folks as far from each other as the Upper East side and East Rutherford were awoken and momentarily collectively thinking the unthinkable had happened.

Thing is, there's no guarantee it won't be some other location (as much as we NYers like to imagine the world revolves around us). Security around NYC is pretty damn tight. (At least that's what I tell myself when I'm lying there trying to get back to sleep.)

although i wish it were otherwise, Bin Laden has a thing for Manhattan (who doesn't?). He's already hit us twice in '93 and '01, and we have the highest density of population for a dirty bomb so i have no doubt we're at the top of his wish list for that kind of attack.

Hopefully I'm not stealing Gary's thunder by telling you that technically the correct form in the above sentence would be "lay." Saying that you "lied" in bed would mean that you told your partner it was good for you too even though it wasn't.

However, in contemporary spoken American English, the most commonly heard form in a construction like that is "laid -- lay? lied? You know what I mean." The past tense of that verb is best avoided.

(Heard the old joke about the zookeeper who's writing a letter to another zoo? He starts out by writing "Yesterday we received the two mongooses you sent." But "mongooses" doesn't look right, so he crosses that out and writes "Yesterday we received the two mongoose you sent." But that doesn't look right either. He then tries "mongeese" and quickly rejects it. Finally he gets out a fresh sheet and writes "Yesterday we received the mongoose you sent. We also received the other mongoose you sent.")

I lie on my bed (present). Last night I lay on my bed (past). I have lain in bed for two hours but I still can't sleep (past perfect).

I lay my cards on the table (present). Last night I laid my cards on the table (past). I have already laid my cards on the table (past perfect).

Disclaimer: from 9th grade English. Not sure about the past perfect. Not even totally sure that the tense is called the past perfect, or that "lain" is a word.

As for New York. Manhattan's population density is 66,000 people per square mile. San Francisco, which is the most densely populated city in the country after New York, is something like 17,000 people per square mile. Boston's about 13,500; Chicago, 12,750. Washington D.C., 9,300. Houston is about 3,300.

D.C. and New York have the most symbolic targets.

I barely even worry about Boston, compared to New York or D.C.; and I barely worry about Brooklyn or Long Island compared to Lower Manhattan. While there's a certain amount of pure snobbery in this ("who would attack Cleveland? There's no theater, no restaurants....")--but some of it's just math.

On a cheerier note, New York is in a lot of ways the most environmentally friendly place you can live in the country; has a miniscule crime rate; and by far the lowest rate of car accident fatalities in the country. And walking everywhere is excellent for your health--suburban people way six pounds more than urban sorts controlling for demographic factors. Add all that in, and it's a wash.

Plus, you get to live in New York. So I continue to hope that they build housing on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn so I can afford an apartment one day.

Katherine, I thought you were so busy, how do you have the time to play cards so much?

I worry a little bit whenever I go into New York now (which isn't particularly often). I have the sort of luck where it wouldn't surprise me if the one day out of the year that I went down to Broadway was the one day that terrorists strike again. I'm not sure I could deal with the feeling of living on a giant bullseye all the time.

On the other hand, since they already got NY's biggest prize, symbolically speaking, I wonder whether they wouldn't be planning the next attack somewhere else. They'd probably spread much more panic by attacking some nowheresville place -- then no one could feel safe.

Actually, I wonder if I shouldn't worry more about living 15 miles from a nuclear power plant than about my rare jaunts to Manhattan.

DOING SOMETHING ABOUT DIRTY BOMBS

Well NYC and DC certainly have great symbolic value for a terrorist (and for all of us).

But, although I'm a complete novice in regard to the technical aspects of dirty bombs, I do know that atomic weaponry experience and technology are not needed. A convention bomb plus some radioactive material (not probably fissionable).

So, how do you terrorize the US population if you want high impact?

Not just one dirty bomb, but dozens. Yes, even Cleveland (or Portland OR) could be a prime target in addition to several each for NYC and DC.

The terrorist would likely want everybody to feel insecure.

So, Edward, as you are upon your bed (note clever avoidance of lay/lie issue), think what 'you could do for your country'.

I think you'll conclude the first thing you'd do is inform the public deeply about dirty bombs so that panic doesn't occur.

Dirty bombs are bad, maybe really bad, but nothing like a nuclear weapon in immediate destructiveness or long-term consequences. The radiological danger is manageable, but only if people know what to do. Let me admit I don't know what this is, but kind of know there are steps to take.

Why isn't Dept. Homeland Security doing something to inform the public about the real issues and steps to take both before a dirty bomb and after it is used? IMO, this is just another aspect of BushCo not taking national security really seriously.

Sounds to me like a blogathon on this matter is needed.

If ragging HomeLand Security dept doesn't produce results, work on local preparedness. Or conduct some online education in the blog world. We collectively need to get off our bed and do something proactive.

a few links">http://bioterrorism.slu.edu/bt/products/ahec_rad/scripts/DirtyBomb.pdf">links about dirty bombs

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