Reading this article makes me realise how much like a terrorist I actually look…
- Use Google Maps to find your way around a strange city.
If your sense of direction is as good as mine, every city’s a strange city. Even the one you were born in. (Yes, I have used Google Maps to get round York, thanks for asking…)
- Use Google Maps to view photos of sports stadiums.
Given that I have never worked in one, I’ve never actually had reason to go to one. I once went to a meeting at Newbury racecource, but that was before the days of Google Maps – does the “AA Book Of The Road” count?
- Install online privacy protection software on your personal computer.
So if they confiscate your laptop at airport security and find it riddled with viruses, then you’re A-OK. Apart from the fact that cyberscammers have all your money, so you can’t afford to fly in the first place. Hmm, I think I see a flaw in this somewhere…
- Attempt to shield your computer screen from the view of others.
Really, this isn’t a problem. Everybody needs to see my extensive collection of obscure public domain zombie movies. Especially small, easily-frightened children…
- Shave your beard, dye your hair or alter your mode of dress.
Oh this one is easy. Sure, I don’t mind looking like a greying caveman and wearing the same, fading Nyan Cat shirt for the rest of my life without washing it. Ever.
No problem, living in England. You can’t tell because of the rain, anyway…
- Avoid eye contact.
Really? We’re not all over-confident security wonks, you know. Some of us don’t enjoy picking fights with random strangers, you know…
- Use a cell-phone camera in an airport, train station or shopping mall.
And how, exactly, do I back up my complaint about the backed-up toilet in the gents without photographic proof? Or document the goodbyes of my family members and others before they leave for their flight? Ooh, I know – I’ll carry a pencil and paper and sketch them, because pencil drawings are totally accurate and don’t take more than seconds, do they?
- Seek to work alone or without supervision.
Have you ever tried writing anything in C# with someone looking over your shoulder going “that’s wrong that is… no no no, I wouldn’t do it that way”. I know, I know – it’s the cornerstone of parallel programming or, as I like to think of it, “someone needs a slap programming”…
- Appear to be out of place.
This is so wonderfully existential. Aren’t we all, in a sense, “out of place?”
- Have bright colored stains on your clothing.
But I love dijon mayonnaise!!!
- Be missing any fingers.
Anyone without the requisite twelve is automatically suspicious…
- Emit strange odors.
Egg sandwiches – just say no!
- Travel an “illogical distance” to do your shopping.
Well they should build the good shops a bit bloody closer to where I live then, shouldn’t they?
- Have someone pick you up from a beauty supply store.
So I guess every teenage girl becomes a terrorist when it rains…
- Act impatient.
So if my train’s late I’m just supposed to sit there and think “hey, at least my boss won’t chew me out over this”. What’s the antonym of impatient?
- Be nervous.
Oh yeah, it’s nervous, isn’t it? Rats.
- Be a new customer from out of town.
Ummm… So we spent the last hundred years building a mobile labour market, getting everybody willing and ready to move for work…
- Use a credit card in someone else’s name.
Done that. When I was really close to being broke, I borrowed (with permission) my dad’s card. Presumably, someone who isn’t a terrorist would always go straight to bankruptcy?
- Chant environmental slogans near construction sites.
Because, y’know, Friends of the Earth and the World Wide Fund For Nature… Enough said…
- Enter a construction site after work hours.
Try telling that to my dog.
- Rent watercraft for an extended period.
“Come in number nine, your time is up.”
“We’ve only got eight boats!”
“Number six – are you in trouble?”
- Make comments involving radical theology.
Like saying “radical Islamic fundamentalism? Not my bag”
- Make vague or cryptic warnings.
Well, that’s Megadeth on the list. Oh, wait, that was Cryptic Writings, wasn’t it?
- Express anti-U.S. sentiments.
Like posting the 85 needlessly vague and deeply open to abuse reasons you might get on a DHS watch list in order to point out that everybody in the world probably already falls foul of at least 20 of them? Oh. Bugger.
- Purchase a quantity of prepaid or disposable cell phones.
What’s a “quantity”? One? Ten? 53,595?
- Leave store without preprogramming disposable phones.
We’re all terrorists in Britain then… Seriously, have you tried asking the staff in a phone shop to do that for you when they’re even halfway close busy?
- Be overly interested in satellite phones and voice privacy.
Two words for you… *ahem* News International *ahem*
- Ask questions about swapping SIM cards in cell phones.
Have you tried getting the SIM out of your old phone and putting it in a new one? Seriously? I had to take my iPad back to the shop to get the SIM in it… They should make it an Olympic sport, I swear…
- Ask questions about how phone location can be tracked.
So, that’s everyone who wondered if Apple or Google were selling tracking information to advertisers, then – they’re terrorists too.
- Rewire cell phone’s ringer or backlight.
Now why would you do that? Oh I don’t know – to provide a louder ringer for the hard of hearing? Or a brighter backlight for someone with vision problems? Or change the colour for someone dyslexic? So three more in there…
- Express out-of-place and provocative religious or political sentiments.
Does “bloody hell” count?
- Purchase a police scanner, infrared device or 2-way radio.
I’m a radio amateur, what do you think I’m going to do with it?
- Act impatient.
You already said that on number 16. I’m losing my patience now…
- Drive a vehicle that appears to be overloaded.
I present the following for your approval. I await my medal by return of post.
- Depart quickly when seen or approached.
Have you ever lived in Hull?
- Be a person “acting suspiciously.”
- Make illegible notes on a map.
You’ve seen my handwriting recently, have you?
- Take photos of the Statue of Liberty or other “symbolic targets.”
Or act like a tourist in any other way, shape or form?
- Overdress for the weather.
I have mild Raynaud’s. Trust me, everybody else in underdressed.
- Ask questions in a hobby shop about remote controlled aircraft.
“Which of these remote controlled aircraft can I buy for my relative’s child that is least likely to kill him?”
- Demonstrate interest that does not seem genuine.
Thinks: “It’s raining… they are adveritising remote controlled aircraft… I’ll go in, pretend I want to buy one, and keep the poor salesdroid talking until it stops raining…”
- Request specific room assignments or locations at a hotel or motel.
Because, sure, nobody minds having a view of the back of the bins and the local alleycat mating site…
- Arrive at a lodging with unusual amounts of luggage.
It depends how many six year old children are in the party. For a six year old, four cases full of toys isn’t unusual – just the results of very hard bargaining by parents the night before…
- Make notes that are illegible to passersby.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much one of the qualifying factors for the medical profession…
- Refuse cleaning service.
“You mean you pay for that? Give me the lemon Pledge, I’ll do it myself…”
- Avoid the lobby of a hotel or motel.
Sure, I want to walk all the way around the grounds every time, getting soaked in the rain, when I can just go through one door, get wet for ten seconds and then – voila! – I’m at the restaurant…
- Remain in your hotel or motel room.
I do this all the time. It’s called not having been paid yet, and not being able to afford to do anything else.
- Leave your hotel for several days, then return.
That’s called going to visit relatives.
- Leave behind clothing and toiletry items.
This is why I do what they call an “idiot check” whenever I leave a hotel or b&b. I look in the bathroom mirror and go “there he is”, and then completely forget about the things anyway…
- Park your vehicle in an isolated area.
Try google. Specifically, “define:picnic”.
- Be observed switching a cell phone SIM card.
So, wait, if we’re not allowed to ask the shop to do it, and we’re not allowed to do it ourselves… Hey, Apple, is there an app for this?
- Be observed using multiple cell phones.
I have two. One new, one old. I have a pay-and-go SIM in the old one, just in case of emergencies. Like I forget the old one and need to call.
- Make notes that are illegible to passersby.
For the third time, all right. My science teacher said I had “the worst handwriting I’ve seen in 40 years of teaching”. Are you satisfied NOW?
- Communicate through a PC game.
How else am I supposed to taunt the opposing team and tell them I will eat their brains when I’m playing Left 4 Dead, hmm?
- Download “extreme/radical” content.
Damn, I better delete my skateboarding library PDQ!
- Exhibit preoccupation with press coverage of terrorist attacks.
OK, not actually done this one. But I suspect most of the families of people who died in terrorist attacks have done this quite a lot. This, apparently, makes them terrorists.
- Wear a backpack when the weather is warm.
I often wear a backpack. It’s generally the easiest way to carry things when cycling. Or indeed when walking, as it leaves both hands free.
- Speak to mall maintenance personnel or security guards.
Seriously, asking for directions makes me a terrorist now? And if I’m not allowed to use Google Maps, what am I supposed to do? Bing Maps? Like I really wanna get lost…
- Make racist comments.
Because, y’know, it was such an effective cover for Bernard Manning for so many years…
- Mumble to yourself.
Right. Must remember to shout every passing thought out loud next time. “DID I LEAVE THE TELLY ON?” “WHOOPS I FORGOT TO BRING MY CHANGE” “OMG! I FORGOT MY KEYS… WAIT, HERE THEY ARE!”
- Pass along any anonymous threats you may receive.
Ummm… so if I tell the DHS of some anonymous threats I got, that makes me a terrorist?
- Discreetly take a photo in a mass transit site.
But you already said I can’t openly… oh, never mind…
- Arrive with a group of people and split off from them.
What if we all just happen to be on the same train, does that count?
- Demand “identity privacy.”
By say, paying in cash?
- Appear to endorse the use of violence in support of a cause.
Well, I do quite like folk music. And I’ve always fancied going to the “Secret Policeman’s Ball” concerts, which are in aid of Amnesty International. So I suppose you could say I endorse the use of violins in a cause…
- Make bulk purchases of meals ready to eat.
But if they don’t sell them at the nearby shops, how can I? You know what – forget it.
- Arrive in America from a land where militant Islamic groups operate.
So, basically, that’s just “arrive in America”.
- Take a long absence for religious education or charity work.
That’s funny, because I seem to remember loads of news stories that seem to imply that most Islamic countries think charity worker = fundamentalist Christian. Odd that, isn’t it?
- Travel to countries where militant Islam rules.
Depends whether that definition of “rules” comes from eighteen year olds or not…
- Study technical subjects that would aid a terror operation.
Given that I’ve not studied anything for years…
- Work in a field that “serves as a cover for preparing for an operation.”
If you work in the middle of a field, doesn’t that usually make you a farmer?
- Exhibit ire at global policies of the U.S.
You’re going to be awfully busy with this one…
- Balk at providing “complete personal information.”
Depends who you are providing it to. If it’s to Google, I think the EU and 39 US Attorney Generals might well agree with me…
- Provide multiple names on rental car paperwork.
So… only a single person is allowed to drive a rental car? That’s a bit unfair – if there’s two of you and it’s a long way to go, the fairest thing is to share the driving…
- Receive an unusual number of package deliveries.
This one might also get you on a DHL watch list, as well…
- Replace rental property locks without permission.
To be fair, this does tend to upset your landlord as well.
- Modify your property to conceal storage areas.
Because nothing says “I’m not a terrorist” more than the continual, soul-crushing heartbreak of repeated burglaries…
- Fail to pay rent for a storage unit in a timely manner.
It’s called cashflow. And I’m self employed, OK?
- Inquire about security systems at your storage facility.
Because, sure, I don’t mind if my stuff gets stolen, that’s fine with me…
- Place unusual items in storage units or dumpsters.
Inflatable Ingrid is just for use at parties, OK…
- Avoid contact with rental facility personnel.
Because, really, I’d love to stop and chat, but I am trying to move all my possessions out of my house before they evict me…
- Access storage facilities an unusual number of times.
Of course, we all know that you should only access a storage facility a prime number of times in every month. Four is quite wrong and will incur the wrath of the storage unit demons.
- Request deliveries of items directly to a storage unit.
Because small businesses have to store everything on site.
- Be part of a group requesting identical tattoos.
So that’s Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Sir Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd…
- Request tattoos that could conceal extremist symbols.
Sinead O’Connor, anyone?
- Fly while appearing to be Muslim on September 11 of any year.
OK, so I’ve ragged the list and had a bit of fun. In defence of the DHS – this list looks fake to me. Very very fake. There’s repeats – word for word repeats – on the list. Some of them basically contradict each other.
So now we’ve had our fun, here’s the serious bit. This isn’t a real list, I don’t think. It’s propaganda, sure. But for who – and why?
My guess? For the news media. Why? For profit.
In other words, same old same old…