Friday, September 16, 2011

Who Saved What Now?

Just in time for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a memorial was unveiled at the site where, ten years ago, United Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the flight famous for its passengers who allegedly revolted against its hijackers. “They [the passengers] gave the entire country an incalculable gift. They saved the capital from attack. They saved god knows how many lives. They saved the terrorists from claiming the symbolic victory of smashing the centre of American government…and they did it as citizens.” Bill Clinton said in his speech at the unveiling held last Saturday. Clinton wasn’t the only one to speak at the memorial, George W. Bush and Joe Biden made speeches about the passengers also, each of which I have watched several times out of complete bewilderment. Call me crazy, but can somebody please explain to me when it was decided that the passengers being responsible for saving Washington D.C. from attack is factual? Call me nuts, but do we really have enough hard evidence to transform that theory into fact?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to dissuade you of this or back some paranoid 9/11 Charlie Sheen conspiracy bullshit. In fact, I'm not even saying that a passenger revolt isn’t what happened on that plane, but by the same token, nor am I saying that people inexperienced at flying Boeing 757s at low altitudes can do it without burning up in a fireball. What I am dismissing, however, is anybody who treats the brief and ambiguous evidence we have regarding Flight 93 as solid and conclusive testimony to support that the passengers became hostile with the hijackers, which lead to the plane crash. I'm no lawyer, so correct me if I'm wrong, but any evidence they do have is speculation and heresay, is it not?

First, let’s lay the cards out on the table - we have passengers saying on their phones that they're considering 'rushing' the cockpit and then we have the terrorists in the cockpit screaming 'They're coming; they're coming'. Around the same time also, the plane was recorded as, what I understand, bobbing up and down and from side to side. So, we have two recordings that don't tell us much at all and a plane flying erratically; wow, they've cracked the case wide open haven't they. I mean, are we really doing this, saying this is what definitely happened?

Now to explain the hands - what anyone fails to say out loud is that whenever the media uses quotation marks to 'quote' what was said in the sixty two calls that were made from the plane by passengers, they aren't quoting the actual passenger, they are quoting the passenger's husband or wife or relation's testimony. And, given that, how valid could these quotes be, even if the source is trustworthy? Let's look at it in context: Within the hour, two airliners have just gone into buildings in New York City, with a third plane crash at the Pentagon in Virginia, now somebody you love and adore is calling you saying that there are men on their plane whom have attacked the pilots and claim to have a bomb. If there is anytime you're going to have a euphoric mix of emotions, it's right now. Let me ask you, could you properly quote what was said in any of those conversations, given the circumstances? Not only that, but at the time you would be quoting this, there's also the added trauma of losing your loved one and finding out about it from the news. You see, I’m quite positive that nobody has heard these calls. The only phone calls we have actually heard and can accurately transcribe are voice mail messages that were left and maybe (a big maybe) we can trust the GTE operators who claim they spoke to passengers...but even they have emotions, so who knows. Heresay.

Secondly, the recording of the last half hour in the cockpit is just something so open to discussion that we might as well just forget it; in fact, lets just nix it, right now. They said 'They're coming; they're coming', that very well could be referring to passengers, but it might actually be referring to fighter jets they thought they could see in the distance, it could mean that they were watching porn, who knows, that's what I'm saying. As for the plane going all over the place and then crashing: of course we can assume that they were trying to stop the passengers who were about to knock the cockpit door down and that when that failed to stop them, they realised that the operation was going to shit and decided to crash the plane into the ground. But let’s not forget, apart from the theoretical knowledge, Ziad Jarrah's (the head hijacker) skill at flying those planes was novice at best, I mean they all thought that they were speaking to the passengers on the intercom when, a matter of fact, they were talking to some control tower, that's how well they knew the controls. Any skill Jarrah did have was learnt by flying two-man, light aircraft, not Boeing 757s that can carry two hundred. So when heavy aircraft is flown by someone who hasn't so much as been in a simulator for that plane, whatsmore, at such a low altitude, isn't some struggle with the controls and a subsequent crash quite a big possibility? Can we really say for sure that the crash wasn't just a mishap? On that note, can we say for sure that Jarrah didn't just have second-thoughts? I mean, the shit is fucking nuts. In fact, the only evidence we do have here is that the auto-pilot was redirected to head in the direction of Washington D.C., another theory factualised by Clinton & Biden at the unveiling, which still isn't what one would call 'solid'.

See? If we happened to put this handful of victims on trial in any western court on charges for heroism, the jury would come back and read 'Not guilty! Not Guilty! Not guilty!'. The law system would use words like 'inconclusive','speculative' and 'heresay'. It would be like one not-guilty orgy down at that courthouse. So what I'm saying is that it's certainly quite possible that those passengers did ‘rush’ the cockpit and it's quite possible that the plane crashing into nothing is a precipitating factor of that; I won't lie, the evidence indeed points that way. In fact, you could say that I'm about ninety percent sure that’s what happened, but what I'm asking is this: is ninety percent really enough? Is it enough for two former US presidents and a former US Vice President to talk at a memorial unveiling like we can be a hundred percent certain of what occurred? I mean, a seed of doubt, no matter how miniscule, is still a seed of doubt. The dumbest part of any of these speeches was when Biden said ‘we are here to honour those whose courage made history’, if ninety percent is all you need to go down in the history, then I question the legitimacy of America’s history. The smartest part of the speeches, surprisingly, came from Bush when he used the phrase ‘most likely’ before speaking about the plane’s alleged target, which is something that each speaker should have said before pretty much saying anything regarding United Flight 93. It's just really childish to try and put some sort of positive spin on this just because people have lost their lives, especially when the positive spin is potentially a fallacy. I don't care what anybody says - Obama, Bush, Billy Bob - remember this: there is and only ever will be enough evidence available to support a theory here, not a fact.

>> Clinton & Bush Speech Snippets

Thursday, September 8, 2011

People Say Things

It’s true. I pride myself on writing honest post titles. People do say things. I say things too, like ‘I have respect for religion’ and ‘I don’t cheat at Words With Friends’, they aren’t particularly true, but I’ve said them nonetheless. Just the same, those things that people say usually end up being pretty erroneous when you actually look into them. It might not be because they are trying to be disingenuous, but mainly because they have unwittingly succumbed to some half-baked theory. So without any further ado, here are the things that I often hear people say, in descending order of frequency, that are in need of some serious debunking:

“Macs don’t get viruses”
If there is anything that trumps everything that is illogical and shallow-in-thought in the world, it’s this. For those that aren’t aware, the theory that Macs don’t get viruses was manufactured by a retarded phenomenon of thought, born inside the mind of some envious indie kid in the hopes of winning over Gates supporters about a decade ago.

The whole theory is just a paperweight on people’s intelligence; a grinder of thy bones. It’s sort of like if somebody were to one day discover a huge hole in the vault wall of a major bank, giving just about anybody free reign to just walk in and make themselves rich. The discoverer doesn’t take any though; the discoverer just tells people where the bank is and its closing times. So, as the word spreads, the hole still doesn’t get repaired, money continues to flow into the vault and nobody but those authorised ever touch the money. Over a decade later, Justin Long has made everybody aware of the bank and the opportunity that surrounds it, yet in all that time and all that publicity, nobody ever pockets any money; not one cent. Ridiculous, you say? Bullshit, I say. We live in an exploitative world. Before the word even spread, the bank would’ve been cleaned out. Well, that unlikely tale is actually just this virus-free Mac theory, just applied in another scenario. To translate: Mac OS is the bank, the fact that if a hacker wants to do something, the hacker can do it is the hole and the people are us.

The whole point that I am driving towards is this: Sure, Mac OS probably didn’t have any viruses in the early adoption stages, but that would be true of any new operating system, at least until everybody starts boasting about how it doesn’t get viruses…oh hey! That’s exactly what’s happening now. In fact, a few years ago, an anti-malware feature was sewn into the lining of the platform. See what I mean? Do you really think – and I mean really think – that everybody believing that ‘Macs don’t get viruses’ and then leaving their machines unprotected in light of that belief wouldn’t prompt hackers to exploit the shit out of it?

“All soft drinks have caffeine”
Time and time again has somebody tried to convince me that all soft drinks have caffeine in the mix and it's time I rung the bullshit-bell. I'm not sure where along the line people got the silly idea that carbonating somehow goes hand-in-hand with caffeinating, but it’s a total fallacy, I mean, cups of coffee don't have soda in them, do they? As a teenager, I made it my life's work to guzzle as much of anything fizzy possible, and even though I have seriously toned down my consumption these last couple of years, I like to think that I know what it is I’m about to drink whenever I crack open a bottle, but to cover my black ass, I did my homework anyway.

Whenever I was exposed to this misinformation, my standard argument I'd always give these morons was that only cola-flavoured soft drinks contained caffeine. Admittedly, after reading into ingredients on the web, I found that my defence to the theory was as incorrect as the stupid theory itself - in Australia, Dr Pepper and Mountain Dew contains caffeine. The fact that Dr Pepper has caffeine failed to surprise me, but when I read about Mountain Dews caffeine content, it blew my freakin' mind, so the following day I picked up a can of my own and only after reading the ingredients on the back for myself did I realise that I'd been dooped (so if you ever stumble across this site, take anything it says with a grain of salt.) That leaves us with Colas and Dr Pepper, and I won't fuck around, should the latter even be counted in this? Australians don't drink it and it's seldom found in our refrigerators, in neither the shop nor the home.

So, in review, lets have a look at Australia: soft drinks that contain caffeine include cola-flavoured ones, Dr Pepper,…oh, wait; that’s it; hmm, that doesn't sound like all soft drinks, I mean, off the top of my head, that leaves the entire Fanta range, Sprite, Mountain Dew, Ginger Ale, Sunkist, 7 Up...need I even continue?

“Reverse your PIN code at the ATM to call the cops”
This shit has ‘R.I.P. Jackie Chan’ written all over it. The idea is if somebody's mugging you and wants you to empty your bank account at the ATM, you can secretly call the cops by typing your PIN code backwards, while the offender is none the wiser. At first glance, the theory sounds like a smart and plausible idea, but then when you analyse it for any more than two minutes, you realise that it’s just as stupid as door handles in a restroom. Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I go out mugging people at quiet ATMs, I do it after they’ve typed their PIN in, sometimes even after they’ve taken their cash out; it's just a rule of thumb in my robbery repertoire. What good is someone that might be calling the cops under the guise of typing in a PIN code? Besides, this saves me using my gun. Hey, I know a neat trick: next time you go out to get some fast-cash, type your PIN backwards three times and see what happens.

“It’s safer to work in a prison than anywhere else”
This probably doesn’t even deserve to be on this list. It could be discussed ‘til the end of time. The argument is that working in a high-security facility, manned by armed guards, is safer than working in a place that has no armed guards, and in that respect, I give this observation a stadium-applause. The part that I struggle with is the part where the guarded workplace is a prison, frequented by burglars, murderers and rapists; meanwhile, any other workplace is just a peaceful and conventional location, which would rarely come across any of those sorts of people. It’s a little like standing near a guy who is erratically firing a machine gun in your direction, but you argue that you’re safer than everybody else in the world, no matter how far away they are, because you’re clad with Kevlar; it’s hardly looking at the big picture.

"No gherkin and the McDonalds Cheeseburger is a dessert"
Myth, myth, myth – even the thirteen year old cashier selling it to you knows that there is nothing supporting this; case closed.

“Lenseless glasses look mega rad!”
What moro…enough said.

So, there's some food for thought. Unfortunately for us, there are so many myths, old-wives tales and urban legends flying out of people's mouths and into earshot that we can't possibly fact-check everything without some sort of assistant to guide us through every interaction. My main goal here was to do the fact checking for, not only your education, but for mine too. The disrespectful tone in this post, however, is the tenth-degree burn I feel in my brain whenever a large group of people haphazardly bow-down to and then spread theoreticals that really don't require an internet connection or an encyclopaedia to realise that whoever sneezed it on you is clearly a moron, it only requires some good 'ol common sense, something that we as a people have become so bankrupt of. I mean, ‘Macs don't get viruses’? Really, people? Where are we living? A fairy tale land? Think about the shit you're spreading, guys.