Roger L. Simon

Fear of Flying w/o Erica Jong

For a mix of business and personal reasons, I will be making my third LA-New York flight of the summer tomorrow, this time to blog at the convention. I’m not prone to it, but for the second time in my life I am experiencing “fear of flying.” (The first was on a two a. m. Sudan Air flight from London to Cairo in the midst of a 1979 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.) The latest reports out of Russia are giving me pause. According to the New Scientist, the exact explosive used in at least one of yesterday’s crashes has been isolated:

Hexogen, also known as RDX or cyclonite, is a ring-shaped, stable chemical that only becomes explosive with the assistance of a detonator. It was widely used during World War II, where it was mixed with TNT, and is now a common constituent of plastic explosives such as Semtex. It was used in the four Moscow apartment bombings that killed more than 200 people in 1999.

Chechens, of course. But as has been reported, Al Qaeda has been in league with and training Chechen fighters for some time, so it’s hard to distinguish between one and the other. (I am having less and less patience for supposed experts and government people who erect firewalls between such groups. I wonder what the motives of these experts are.)

Meanwhile, I am getting to be an old hand at the security lines at LAX. I sure know how to whip that laptop out for inspection. Still, flying close to the convention is not pleasant to contemplate. But fortunately for me, because I procrastinated with my reservations, I am not flying into NYC on a direct flight, but breaking it up in another city. Somehow I feel it’s safer that way.

UPDATE: For those (like me) attempting to play dodge ’em cars on the way from the airport to our hotels, and the to the Garden, Kesher Talk has all the latest on the Bakuninite hangouts.