Something very strange is going on here. We have what appears to be a flurry of small terrorist acts on campuses (see Tapscott
for details) and we have a credible threat to NYC subways, which may have been averted when NY smartly made it public and thus eliminated the surprise. (Homeland Security, always taking the stupid side, wanted to keep the information secret.) It's certainly possible that the latest two small incidents are copycats or even pranks, but there are some distinct similarities to Hinrichs at OU.
The media talked plenty about the NYC threat, which is good and proper. Maximum publicity is good. The media are not talking about the campus events, choosing to focus instead on
bird flu, which is a purely potential threat. At the moment the actual disease is a fairly ordinary virus: kills some vulnerable folks, doesn't bother most. Some experts believe that it could
mutate into a vastly more dangerous form, but there's no evidence that this mutation has happened or will happen.
Seems to be a general problem. Try counting verbs in any national network broadcast these days, and you'll hear about 80% would/could/will/gonna. Formerly, reporters were supposed to tell you about events that actually occurred, but that idea has been replaced by experts and speculators, telling us what might happen if their computer models are valid.
If discussion of epidemics leads to better public health procedures, or if it's a pretext for the gov't to relieve drug companies from litigation and regulation burdens, then it will bear fruit. Just as the Y2K threat never materialized but encouraged many people to prepare for a disaster. But right now the bird stuff just doesn't ring true. Is it a cover for a non-potential threat too scary to discuss openly?
Update: Add to the mix a mysterious epidemic
of false echoes at several airports. Logan in Boston (hmm, why does that airport sound familiar?) had to cancel flights today, but several other control centers are experiencing the same problem. I hope Mister Oh-God
is not in charge of the FAA investigation. And I hope somebody in government remembers that al-Qaeda has more engineers than lawyers among its troops.