I’d be remiss not to admit I’m a fairly “passionate” follower of post-post modern conspiracy theory, much of which never comes close to “theory.” We have plenty of rants, raves, and snarling vows of vengeance. Stone-cold revelations whispered in dark holdouts haunted by suicide; reason and safety stalked by black dogs of paranoia sniffing for logic-bombs. Nightly, the star-frosted sky thrums with machines stabbing down beams aggressively intelligent; watching and watching with infrared eyes. Thermal tongues lapping up secrets. Waiting…waiting…infinitely patient. Scanning thoughts for a nanosecond glitch in your vigilance—your blazing annihilation. If that doesn’t make you feel better, nothing will. Even a cursory cruise of a few “edgy” websites will provide a representative slice of what the more pensive observers are saying about the apparently enigmatic fate of Flight 370. These remarks range from straight, journalistic-type reportage, to chilly monographs grim with doubt; flat recounting of the original report, and what I am now calling NFM: Nefarious Fear-Mongering. While I’m not sure who started this, a famous “alien abductee” is hinting that Flight 370 might very well have been sky-jacked and safely landed on dry ground in some remote location. While he doesn’t clearly explain what might have been done to the 239 people occupying the aircraft, he theorizes it might be used by terrorists, and capable of delivering a 10,000-pound nuclear device to any major city within 12,000 miles.
This might be technically possible, if not probable. But it is a theory—an outlandish one. A little research into how weapons-grade plutonium is acquired, and processed, will put such notions to rest. What I am confused about is the—at least to my mind—inexplicable failure to locate the aircraft's Black Box. Media reports claim signals have been detected, but finding the actual site so far impossible. Why? We have classified satellites that can identify earthbound individuals, and more. The NSA, by 2018, hopes to have a computer capable of exaflop speed—1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations a second. That's one quintillion. Yes, data-collection is one thing; taking time to interpret said data quite another.* The Black Box (actually, these are orange for easier detection) is fitted with an Underwater Locator Beacon functional down to 14,000 feet—nearly three miles. The devices have been heat-tested, withstanding 1,110 degrees centigrade for an hour; 260-degree C for 10 hours. They can operate from -55 degrees to +70 degrees C. Seriously tough hardware. If a signal has been detected, and if every signal has a source, why can't the Black Box be located?
*Thanks to James Bamford, whose The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (Doubleday, 2008) was crucial to this post.