Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 14, 2014

LEFFLER: On fake blizzards, disappearing airplanes and ruining the Internet

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When I was young, I walked to school. Uphill. We only had 20 channels and none of them was MTV. Wikipedia was called “the library.” And we had winter.

I still walk a lot, but something happened to winter. Or something happened to us. Wednesday we got a “blizzard” throughout Western New York. It snowed a little. And there was some wind. But a blizzard? OK, to be fair, it snowed a lot. But still … as blizzards go, it was pretty lame.

Maybe my memory of childhood is wrong. But I remember it snowing all day every day from Thanksgiving until Easter. Now we get a few flakes and it’s a blizzard. They close down government offices and schools, advise you against driving. Heck, I couldn’t even go bowling.

I don’t mean for a second that the street crews around town didn’t do a great job, at least in my neck of the proverbial woods. Maybe the clear streets and my not walking uphill to school are why I feel like winter has been diminished. I don’t know.

Another thing I don’t know: How did a plane just disappear? It’s 2014, right? But nearly a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 made its last transmission, they don’t know where the plane is. Or where it was. Or when it went missing. How is that possible? There’s radar and Doppler weather and the NSA.

One thing officials have somehow concluded is that no matter how or when the plane went missing, its disappearance wasn’t the act of terrorism. Although the CIA hasn’t ruled it out, Malaysian authorities have called it unlikely. Why? Of course, the CIA thinks anything can be terrorism. Even Wednesday’s blizzard.

In addition to the snowblizzardpocalypse, Wednesday was the 25th anniversary of what we have come to know as the Internet — the World Wide Web. And Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg celebrated by telling President Barack Obama that he’s ruining it.

“When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” Zuckerberg said on his public Facebook page. “The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

If the government really wants to improve the Internet, they can start a website to follow airplanes and predict blizzards … or something. 

Scott Leffler remembers winter and life before the Internet. He’s been on airplanes. But never disappearing ones. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.com.

Scott Leffler remembers winter and life before the Internet. He's been on airplanes. But never disappearing ones. Follow him on Twitter @scottleffler.com.