Grains Of Waves

Monday mornings I like to read the "Metropolitan Diary" section in the NYT. The latest had a surprizing story:

Dear Diary:

As I was driving uptown on Third Avenue, I suddenly heard sirens blaring and saw red and blue lights flashing, right behind me.

“Oh, oh – here comes a ticket. Did I inadvertently run a red light? Or did I commit some other moving violation?” I rolled down my window.

The unmarked black S.U.V. stopped, and an officer, heavily armed and wearing a bulletproof flak jacket, approached me.

“Don’t move! — Just stay put,” he commanded sternly, eyeing me with suspicion, while glancing at what looked like a cellphone pointed at my face.

I handed him my license and told him that I had been trying to pull over to buy a bottle of water on the advice of the technician who had just administered my PET/CT scan.


“Just calm down; we are going to get you a bottle of water.” The officer’s face relaxed. An amiable young policewoman appeared. “Please have a few sips. And, would you please allow us to show our new recruit, who just joined our team, what it is all about?”


The leader brought the apparent cellphone closer to my face, addressing the rookie. “You can see that it reads now, 4.5. However, when we first stopped him it read 7.7.”

And, then addressing me: “Sir, you were full of radioactive material, and that is why we had to stop you. But now the count is already coming down.”

Who knew there's technology out there that allows the scanning of passing cars for radiation, and that it's evidently in routine use? Or that it can pick up what's surely low-level radiation which broadcasts over a very short distance. (For the record, I'm not suggesting I find a problem with it; the opposite, in fact.)

Soft on terror, indeed.

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