Sunday, August 15, 2010

Keeping America Safe, and Building it to Scale

National Security is a very important topic, with lots of dollars and much passion attached to it. The dollars are, of course, those our government throws by the pallet-load at the problem, as if we could buy our way out of it; the passion is usually provided by those seeking the dollars, who believe with all the righteous fury of a backwoods Saudi imam that they have absolutely the right answer and everybody else is not only wrong, but is destined to suffer the torments of the damned for all eternity. Faux "News" commentators and Republican members of Congress, for example.

But it doesn't have to be that expensive and engender that much passion.

My favorite part of the Washington Post arrives every Saturday morning in the form of "The Style Invitational," a humorous contest in which readers are asked to be funny and original in response to the topic of the week. Yesterday's Style Invitational asked readers to suggest new approaches - not necessarily practical or sensible, just new - to making America more secure. I had to share my favorites with you (I wish I could claim that at least one of these was my own original thought but, alas, they are all the brilliant thoughts of others smarter and more original than I):

The winner (and my personal favorite): "Assign GOP senators as flight marshals. They won't let ANYTHING happen;"

The first runner up: "Shut down the Taliban's heroin business by replacing Franklin's face with Muhammad's on the $100 bill;"

"Place a 'top cap' tightly over Washington, and pump mud down into it until that stuff stops coming out;"

"Secure all nuclear material in those plastic clamshells;"

"To deter attacks by submarine, fill the Gulf of Mexico with some kind of black sticky stuff that will mess up periscopes;"

"Open some bombing ranges, like shooting ranges, so that suicide bombers can take live practice runs;"

"Recruit executives from AIG and Lehman Brothers to infiltrate terror groups and manage their investments;" and,

"Protect the nation from natural disasters by tasking the Department of Homeland Security to go down to Brazil, find that damn butterfly, and kill it before it can flap its wings again."

Any other ideas, anyone?

On other fronts, Agnes and I went down to The National Building Museum yesterday to see the "Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition" exhibition, which was utterly awesome - it features 15 large-scale models of famous buildings, constructed entirely of Lego bricks. One of the most amazing of the structures was a 17.5 foot model of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, built of 450,300 individual Lego bricks. Here it is (sorry for the quality of the picture):

There was also a large play area for children with lots of working space and hundreds of thousands of Lego bricks of all shapes and colors for the amusement of young would-be architects. Of course, children come in all sizes and age ranges ...

I had a nice conversation with a woman whose husband was busy building his own creation; we compared notes and wondered how long it would take us to get our respective middle-aged children out of the museum...

After that, we wandered around Chinatown and enjoyed a nice lunch at the all-you-can-eat Mongolian Barbecue at Tony Cheng's Restaurant before heading home for a relaxing afternoon and evening of catching up on chores.

Of course, tomorrow means going back to work, but at least it's been a good weekend so far! Hope yours was, too.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



John A Hill said...

Love the winning entry...too bad it comes down to that.

wv: colopill--the latest in colon cleansing

Bandit said...

My grandson and I played with legos last night. he is 2 and has the larger bricks.

KathyA said...

Loved the entries -- don't quite understand the butterfly one -- I'm obviously our of the loop on something.

Thank you for your suggestion about the Legos. School is starting soon, but we have a few days off for primaries and Jewish holidays -- a perfect time to go down.

Mike said...

Make sure you have a vacation day left so you can avoid the 'mud pumping' day.

Bilbo said...

Kathy - the "butterfly" entry refers to the so-called "Butterfly Effect" - the idea that very small actions in one place (i.e., a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil) can cause effects that cascade into huge consequences elsewhere (i.e., monster hurricanes in the Gulf).

Raquel's World said...

The first idea was the best. Loved it.