Protests and people

There’s a group in Nashua that stands in front of the City Hall at 11 AM every Saturday to protest whatever war is current. They’ve been there since the Bush years. Yesterday I decided it would be a worthwhile gesture to stand with them, so I headed downtown. The group has dwindled down to two people. I hoped there would be a boost in numbers because of Syria, but apparently the old regulars have wandered off and they haven’t been bringing in new people. That happens with a lot of organizations.

It was still an interesting way to spend an hour. One of the two men was a liberal sort; the other described himself as libertarian-leaning. The second was also a 9/11 truther. I’ll listen to anyone’s arguments if I don’t have something better to do; even if they’re nonsense, I’ll learn something about how they think. He claimed to be a chemical engineer and to have concluded from a personal analysis of some of the debris that the towers collapsed from set explosives, not from the impact of the airplanes.

He gave me a “9/11 fact sheet card.” This didn’t mention the chemical which he talked about, and I don’t remember the name, so I can’t look up information on his argument. I have some technical knowledge on Point 7, which looks very dubious: “Tests have shown that cell-phone calls cannot be made at altitudes over 4000 to 8000 feet, as cell towers are located on the ground … No passenger could have successfully placed a call for help by cell phone from an airborne plane on 9/11, as reported.”

Now I know that cell phone use is prohibited on airplanes partially because a phone would have a line of sight to multiple towers and could put an undue burden on phone traffic. Also, I’ve played enough with shortwave radio to know that there are no hard limits on radio distance. I’ve picked up AM broadcasts from distant parts of the US. Today I learned in a web search that most if not all of the calls from Flight 93 (the one that crashed in an unpopulated area) were made from airplane phones, not cell phones. An article by a 9/11 skeptic supports this conclusion, as do other sources.

My biggest complaint about the 9/11 truthers is that they offer no coherent alternative. How could any group within the government make Bin Laden a stooge in their plan, plant explosives enough to destroy the WTC, and arrange the hijackings? Why would they bother crashing a plane in rural Pennsylvania and faking phone calls from it? I don’t doubt that there are people who’d have killed thousands for the sake of gaining power and profiting from the actions that followed, and the NSA scandal has shown how deeply dishonest our government can be, but the scenario just doesn’t make sense.

At any rate, I can say I single-handedly boosted the turnout against bombing Syria by 50%!

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