Smart and Smarter, Shots at Laptops
For nine months Salt Lakers asked, “How do we miss the missing?” Get set to ask a different question at least until the trials of Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ilene Barzee are over and done with. Namely, “How do we dodge an endless barrage of Elizabeth Smart updates?” The joke now is that no less than Martha Stewart will descend upon the Smart family with a vast arsenal of recipes and party ideas specifically crafted for welcoming your missing child back home.
“Let’s leave Elizabeth Smart—aka Augustine Marshall, aka The Remnant Who Shall Return—alone!” There’s a trace of hypocrisy in local media chanting that very mantra, all the while posing veiled (pun fully intended), indirect questions designed to invade her privacy. “Is she pregnant?” No. “Was she molested?” That’s a sick question, and you ought to be ashamed for asking. But, alone or among friends, everyone’s asked it. Face it: We count on the media to ask our unsavory questions. Then we shoot the messenger in disgust.
The winners at the center of the biggest story to hit the state since the Olympics: The Smarts, who will more than likely act the spokesfamily on issues of missing children for years to come, plus anyone crafting jokes with the punchline, “Thou sayeth.” The losers at the center of the biggest story to hit the state since the Olympics: The Smarts, who’ve lost more than a margin of their privacy, plus homeless drifters hoping to turn a few bucks from freelance landscaping and home carpentry.
• Seven cheers for the folks of Castle Valley, Utah. Fed up with the Patriot Act’s vast assault on American civil liberties in times of terrorism, the small hamlet of 350 became the first Utah town to pass a resolution affirming the values of the U.S. Constitution above the paranoid machinations of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. More than 60 cities and towns have signed on to the resolution. Someone get a draft to the Salt Lake City Council, pronto, before Ashcroft gets all his wiretaps in place.
• Seven cheers also for software professional Mitchell Kapor. As reported in The New York Times, he quit his board position with San Francisco’s Groove Networks after discovering that the company had a $38 million contract with the Pentagon to develop Adm. John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) system. The elaborate computer network would have used desktop collaboration software to pry into millions of private databases in the name of fighting terrorism.
• In other technology-related news, Court TV reports that inn and restaurant owner George Doughty of Lafayette, Colo., put four bullets into his Dell laptop computer using a Smith & Wesson revolver. Doughty gave bystanders plenty of warning, and no one was hurt, but that didn’t stop police from arresting him for reckless endangerment and the prohibited use of a weapon. Computers and firearms? Totally Awesome Computers’ marketing department will no doubt be giving Mr. Doughty a phone call.
• Fulton File Iraq war prediction number one: After a narrow escape from invading U.S. special forces, dictator Saddam Hussein will get rid of his Ba’ath Party uniform, shave his moustache, and resurface as host of a “reality”-based television show. Most Americans won’t even notice the difference.