Sunday, March 24, 2013

Official Misinformation

I don't suppose you want to gaze at pictures of the burning twin towers. One sickening run-through (with endless repeats for the next week or two) might have been plenty for you. But one day, I was at the library trying to get useful things done and my eye kept wandering over to a book on the shelf, 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. "The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers." It's a subject tantalizing enough to keep you from getting useful things done at the library, I tell ya.

I don't know about you, but my curiosity about what happened to everybody that day has not spent itself.

Even the ones that survived had no idea what happened. Something went boom. The building swayed. Smoke blew in through the vents. That it was a commercial airliner -- well, how inconceivable is that?

Some had a bad feeling, found the nearest stairway and got out. Some were trapped above the impact zone, spending that 102 minutes calling the fire department, relatives, anybody who could help. Some started down the stairs, then their supervisors told them to go back to their desks and wait for evacuation instructions. And they believed what they were told.

That's the scariest part of this story. We live in a highly interdependent society. We can't possibly know what we're doing all the time. So we turn to the experts. But when the unthinkable happens, how much do the experts really know?

Sure, they tell you there's a flotation device under your airplane seat, but is that thing really going to do you any good? If we land on water, aren't we all toast anyway? (And soggy toast at that!)

Sure, we're all storing our pictures and documents in the cloud now, but what if the elves who maintain that cloud somehow lose track of it? If a simple laptop can crash, how much more can go wrong with a satellite?

Makes me hope that any trouble I get into isn't groundbreakingly new. May the trains I ride and the germs I swallow all be known quantities so that when the experts tell me what to do, it's not the equivalent of curing cancer with leeches.

I'm striking quite a cheery note tonight, am I not?

Why don't I just recommend a strange little dish that I didn't expect to like? It features cabbage, the frumpiest crop on this planet. The only thing weirder would be kale, but kale has somehow gotten itself some hipster glasses and a fedora hat, and now it hangs out in coffeehouses and independent bookstores. Poor old cabbage is still the vegetable of oppressed peoples.

I just happen to like it, especially this mildly pepper-y version.

Pork Cabbage Saute

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