Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The shadow of terrorist violence falls again

Yesterday was uneventful, unmemorable, a day of rain showers mixed with sunshine. I went for a walk in Pontcanna Fields during a bright spell in the afternoon, but got soaked in a sudden shower on my way home. Unusually, I didn't spot anything to pick up from the streets on the way there, but along the river path collected thirteen items, half pulled from briars in the undergrowth.

Before this morning's 'class Mass' at St German's, I took the car to N.G. Motors for its MOT test. After the service, I went to check on the church hall office PC, which we'd left running on Sunday to address the update backlog problem. It was running, but had stalled, in need of permission to continue. Once rebooted, it completed a lengthy update process, lasting twenty minutes, then declared that another batch was available to download. So, it was a matter of setting it off and leaving it again. 

The internet link is stable enough, but very slow, which may mean the Powerline network set-up is not being as efficient as usual in sending a receiving data. Is a workaround possible, apart from relocating the machine elsewhere in the building nearer the router, at least for the purposes of updating? The church hall ring-main is extensive. At present the distance is forty metres, so who knows what electrical interference may be affecting transmission?

By the time I decided to give up on machine minding for the day, Clare had received a text and sent one to met, to say the car was ready for collection. This was most fortunate as it meant that I didn't need to go home and return at the end of the day, or possibly next day if any repairs were needed, to collect the car. So delighted my venerable auto is still roadworthy! It meant I could call into the Lidl's on the way back from retrieving the car, and stock up with additional food items for the coming days, during which Clare will be with sister-in-law Ann over in East Anglia from tomorrow. 

As I was relaxing after lunch, a brief but urgent phone call came from my sister June to switch on the telly, as a major incident had been declared in London. That's how I learned about the terrorist incident outside the House of Commons. Given the gravity of the 7/7 bombing, I feared the worst as I switched on. With four deaths reported, including a policeman, it was an appalling incident, but I was grateful that it wasn't worse involving a truck bomb or lethal toxic attack. Paramedics were on the scene very quickly and police had the area under security lock-down very quickly after the initial incident had concluded. The assailant's car, used as a simple lethal weapon was travelling on public roads, with possibly the best video surveillance and policing in Britain. It's impossible to scan minds for deadly ill-will, however. The stories of all those involved will dominate the media for days to come. 

This week, some airlines working on Middle Eastern routes are starting to ban electronic devices larger than a phone from cabin baggage, due to reports of terrorist techies disguising explosives to resemble batteries used in laptops. Placing them in the aircraft's hold in robust containers would limit damage from any undetected device. Working out exactly how to manage this, so that no passenger has their electronic baggage stolen in transit to or from the flight will be challenging. I don't suppose it'll be too long before this becomes ubiquitous on the majority of flights, even though the risk of an attack on an airport terminal is regarded as far more likely than successfully detonating a bomb on a 'plane, in the light of rigorous security  measures already in place. It's a strange 'new normal' we've had to get used to in over the fifteen years since 9/11. 

What a hostile world we've created for our descendents, despite all our best idealist intentions!


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