Friday, August 11, 2006

Please don't say 10/8!

The London press has unsurprisingly been full of the alleged attempt to blow up 10 trans-Atlantic flights using a combination of Lucozade, hair gel and mobile phones.

It sounds far-fetched but a quick "Google" reveals a whole cook book of Liquid explosive recipes. A lot of the mixtures don't require particularly exotic ingredients, just knowledge of how to mix them in the right proportions and an ability to detonate them. In short, an attempt by a group willing to die probably could be carried out without the need for weapons, conventional explosives or anything else that might be detected by x-rays or metal detectors. In corporate-speak this is called thinking "outside the box" to get a solution. I remember my own boyhood attempts to manufacture chlorine gas in my bedroom using salt water and large batteries attached to charcoal sticks to enable electrolysis of the solution. At a low level I did succeed although I was never able to store the gas successfully! Maybe that was just me ?! However it's probably all to the good that chemistry is so badly taught in most schools in this country.

It's obviously good that this was prevented and full credit to the Police and security services for this. It is also good for the Labour Government's most professional minister, Dr. John Reid who presided over this success.
But please don't establish 10/8 into the vocabulary as the Independent newspaper rather embarrassingly tried to do on its front page today. Thankfully nothing happened. This was a non-event. There was never any intention to carry out the attack on 10/8 but maybe in a few days.
9/11 is accepted into the vocabulary- it is an Americanism but understandable that it became so infamous as a date. Then came the attempt to name the 2004 Madrid attacks, 3/11 (11 March). This never really caught on. 7/7 became accepted in London due to its symmetry. That's probably enough numbers. Thankfully nothing happened on 10/8 (apart from the ongoing wars around the world). So please don't use 10/8 * anyone. Each of the actual attacks has been a tragic event for those involved but don't need reducing to a collection of numbers like some kind of psychotic bingo. It's even worse to start introducing numbers where nothing actually happened. As Ali-G once said on a visit to New York, "Nuff sadness 'bout 7-11"…..

* Strictly speaking it should be 8/10 if we keep to the American date system rather than the English.

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