Of course I'm disappointed. The decade opened with 9/11 (so sad!) and now it closes with, well, 7-11. I say that not to diminish the importance of 7/11, for I recognize that something momentous may well have occurred on that date, too -- every date ending in 11, 13 and 15 is suspect -- but because I recognized the name of the Nigerian in question as the clerk who charged me for a Slurpee a while back. Also (lest you think I am mining the oldest comedic material in the book) because said clerk's "terrorism attempt" makes me think of what happened after I exited the convenience store: I spilled that Slurpee all over myself. Man, am I a klutz! Better not trust me with a Big Gulp! Ha-ha!
The Ottos (as I call the 2000-2009 decade, after the bus driver in the Simpsons) also ended with this: no Osama capture. Remember that cliche: "Conspicuous by his absence"? I'm going to use it twice in this piece, because after being abused at too many city council meetings, its time has finally come.
Even if Osama WERE to be captured in the next few days (I am still holding out hope, no matter what InTrade says), the tragedy is that it would probably be completely eclipsed by this damn Abdulwaddiwaddi/Flight 253 story that keeps on snowballing.
But let it snowball. (Just don't bring snow on to aircraft, it can occur in both liquid and powder form, making it the most dangerous single item in America.) Because I am no Scrooge, not about terrorism. Not about unitedness. And most of all, not about good cinematic narratives, which the Story of Flight 253 surely is.
Of course -- to address the practical value of the Nigerian case -- it is not completely beyond the bounds of possibility that it will eventually lead investigators straight TO Bin Laden. I have two House Representatives on the record in an Estonian newspaper (later edited out) saying that Abdulwallah was connected to Al Qaeda.
But more important, it's such a good story. This is the Hudson River landing rewritten for Christmas, where not only the passengers, but the city of Detroit is saved. I guess I should say "former city of Detroit", because we've all seen the Youtube videos.
People sometimes say that some stories are made for the screen. They don't know the half of it. It turns out that the guy who made the heroic cinematic tackle that saved the former city of Detroit from destruction -- across several rows of stoned unemployed auto workers returning from Amsterdam on this Delta aircraft -- was...a film-maker!!
That means casting for the Story of Flight 253 can start without further ado. Neil Young and Toby Keith can do a duet for the soundtrack.
Even with its happy ending, it's never too late for anger, of course -- anger and maudlin sentimentality being the two reasons why God invented music. This narrative channels Americans' justified popular anger at Nigeria, an oil-rich country that has squandered its resources to court multinationals and kow-tow meekly to dictators, becoming a security vacuum.
As all that good security was being sucked out of Nigeria, common Nigerian folk evilly set to work, defrauding the world's financial systems...with scam e-mails, eventually leading to the recession, or economic downturn. I received one of the letters myself in 1998. I can tell you it was persuasive. I don't remember how much I sent, but it was months before I broke even.
Besides the global/financial impacts, the story of Flight 253 also resonates internationally -- so rare in these days when everything is "global, global, global".
I couldn't believe that the British newspapers picked up the story. And not only that, but they ran it today on their front pages! Ol' Blighty comes through in the clutch! What solidarity in lean times! But indeed, incredibly -- it's a small world -- Abdulwadda, although from a country impossibly far-removed from Albion, had relatives in Britain's immigrant districts. Valuable evidence was gathered. That's one small step closer to Osama -- and just as important, one small step closer to prosecuting two people (pawn and evil mastermind) for the same crime, which is the basis of international law.
In short, look on the bright side. Many things are better at the end of the Ottos than they were in 2000. There are still about 100 things that can be brought aboard an aircraft and bring that aircraft down prematurely. But there are more digerati and cognoscenti, many of them fit, metrosexual film-makers (pocket cameras can still be brought aboard) who are ready to hurdle seats and who have acted enough themselves and have just enough ironic distance to their perspective on reality to remember their lines. The lines being, "Let's Roll." They always were, no matter what the brand of English.
The other good thing ca 2010 is that, while I don't know about Al Qaeda, passengers can only be held hostage on the tarmac by airline companies for a maximum three hours.
Third but not last, flight attendants were seen dousing flames with bottled water -- to me at least, as a Ryanair flier, that's incredible and presages a more generous era in the air.
The Flight of 253 is an inspiring story. It has even "riveted the attention" (NYT) of one Barack Obama, conspicuous by his absence, but because he is vacationing on a remote Pacfic island -- I believe to draw the world's attention to global warming. They won't pay attention to it now, because we're riveted to Abdulwaddiwaddi and all the snow, but anyway...look for the Story of Flight 263 in theatres soon after it finishes its run on the news sites.
It'll make you feel that it all -- this whole decade, even W -- has been worth it.