Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 redux

Of course, the proof that Al Quaeda were just a bunch of morons was that, by attacking New York's financial district, they were in fact attacking their own allies. It was not until about 2008 that most Americans realized the financial sector was engaged in its own efforts to bring America to its knees.

Not long after 9/11 there was a spate of anthrax "attacks" (that were later traced back to a home-grown terrorist with a good old-fashioned grudge.) Anthrax was a perfect topic for media hysteria, since most of us don't actually work in buildings that could be meaningfully targeted by terrorists crashing jetliners, but we all get mail.

At the time, my ex-wife worked for Capital One, the predatory credit card lender. Capital One was the largest customer the USPS had, sending out millions of credit card solicitations per day. She was a graphic design genius, and got assignments from C1 like, for example, figuring out how to put in all the federally mandated information about fees, penalty fees, and interest rates in ways that met federal guidelines but that were most likely to be ignored by customers.

Anyway, at the height of the anthrax scare, Capital One's mail center got some responses that seemed to have been dusted by white powder. They immediately instituted a plan to have all the employees take turns opening mail, since it would be unfair to expect the mailroom employees to take all the risks. Hilariously, it later turned out the white powder was something Capital One's mail preparers put on the forms themselves, to prevent them sticking to envelope-stuffing equipment.

At the time, though, I was struck by two things: One, the extreme vanity of the company, that it would think, "Oh yes, terrorists wanting to strike at the U.S. would naturally choose us as a target," and two, that if Osama bin Laden had only known how corrosive Capital One was to American values, he would have invested in C1, not tried to harm it.

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