"It's alarming to some degree that crazy people, if that's what they are, in Iraq are taking notice of a school or anything else in our community."
That's a quote in The New York Times from a concerned parent who heard about a scary computer disk found in Iraq. As the Washinton Post reports:
The FBI advised officials in as many as eight cities last month to tighten security in schools after U.S. soldiers raiding an apartment in Iraq seized computer disks containing information about those towns' school systems that was taken from Web sites, government officials said yesterday.
What you say? Some kind of "information" that was publicly available on the Web somehow made its way onto computer disks in some guy's apartment? Gadzooks!
U.S. officials said they remain uncertain whether the Iraqi whose computer disks contained the school information was involved in terrorist activity, and stressed that the government has no evidence of a plot to attack any schools in this country.
Well, for that matter I'm "uncertain" whether my neighbors are cannibals, and I have no evidence that they eat human flesh during midnight raccoon-worshipping rituals, but just the fact that I mentioned it is a little unsettling, isn't it? But what was on the disks? The Star-Telegram says:
Some material on the disk appeared to be randomly downloaded from a publicly accessible Education Department Web site and included such things as manuals on workplace safety, crisis management studies, student codes of conduct and building security diagrams. It also contained an Education Department report on school crisis planning that was published in May 2003.
No sane person would be interested in student codes of conduct, so we are obviously dealing with a madman here. And someone who wanted to make workplaces more dangerous could read the workplace safety manuals and then do the opposite of everything they said! On the other hand, according to The New York Times:"The officials said the man may have been downloading the information as part of a civil redevelopment project for Iraqi schools."
But forget all that. What I love about the first quote is the clever phrase: if that's what they are. I'm going to start using that all the time. For example, just a moment ago I heard elephants, if that's what they are, rustling around outside my garage.
A parent in a Miami Herald story said:
''Do you keep your kids home from school?'' Howe asked. "What do you do? Unfortunately, we have to go on living our everyday life.'
Well, I'd keep writing about this, but unfortunately I have to go on living my everyday life, and it's time for me to drink a few beers, if that's what they are.