Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to Stay Alive in a Situation that Will Never Happen

Jeffrey Goldberg, who stole our hearts when he recently got the TSA to admit that their security efforts only target "stupid terrorists" thanks to his antics of carrying knives and books entitled Jihad, wrote an article about how to stay alive in a terrorized hotel. Of course, he also admits that this will never happen. His trusted friend assures him:
It's foolish even to worry about hotel safety, because the chances of something happening on any particular night in any particular hotel are vanishingly small.  The taxi ride to the hotel is invariably more dangerous than the hotel itself.

Nevertheless he gives advice. For example, how about placing some dental floss over that laptop to find out if someone's been tampering? Sure, that's not in every spy movie. And what have you accomplished? You just found out someone stole your data, and it's too late to do anything about it. Better advice is to secure your data using readily available software or put important data on a thumb drive and bring the thumb drive with you. Okay, says Goldberg, why not block the door with a desk in case you believe that men are roaming the floors with automatic weapons? Sure, that seems... uh... reasonable (in certain parts of the world), but Golberg himself says "This is dangerous, of course, in the event of fire." Yeah, and guess which one is more likely (hint, read the above quote, and keep in mind that a terrorist BOMBING might involve fire). Goldberg's solution of filling the bathtub with water won't help with what is often considered a larger problem in fires: smoke.

Of course, some of his more common-sense ideas are reasonable: know where your stuff is in case you have to leave quickly, while others seem like they're placed there just to sound contrary and intelligent: "Stay in hotels that have already been bombed or otherwise attacked. Mumbai is a fairly safe place for travelers right now."

A note about the books titled Jihad: I wouldn't stop you either. Most Muslims understand the term quite differently than we understand it here in the west. Jihad means struggle, often interpreted as a struggle to improve ones self or society. It appears frequently in the Qur'an, and, not being a racist I'd be happy to let you through on that one. But, yea, they should take your knives away, not the crap from Colbert.

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