Almanacs: an alternate theory

I didn't post anything about this story when it first occurred because others had covered it pretty thoroughly, and because I at first didn't recognize its significance:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways.

It seemed like a silly example of the FBI implementing an arbitrary security step of dubious value. As Teresa Nielsen Hayden pointed out, it also seemed to show a worrisome lack of imagination on behalf of those charged with our domestic security:

What scares me, though, is how specifically the FBI has targeted almanacs, and how they haven’t mentioned travel guidebooks, high-resolution terrain maps, architectural guides, government directories, maps of underground water, power, and transit systems, lists of major industrial sites, the Yellow Pages for pete’s sake, or any of the other references that might reasonably be used at that stage. …

Somehow, I feel as though I’d just found out that FBI agents were all recruited from the kids who did their class reports by copying stuff out of the encyclopedia.

But then it hit me — almanacs — just like in Back to the Future II!

Maybe the alleged terrorism concerns that prompted this alert were really just an elaborate cover story masking the FBI's real search — the effort to track down and destroy an almanac from the future brought here by a meddlesome time-traveling teen in a fusion-powered DeLorean. That would explain what otherwise appears to be their foolishly narrow-minded focus on almanacs — they're desperately racing to prevent an anachronistic paradox that could cause the fabric of the space-time continuum to unravel.

Or not.

Anyway, it's just a theory, but it seemed a little less troubling than the idea that our security is in the hands of the kinds of people who see this as a higher priority than, say, port security.

  • Scaramouche

    Now that is the most original take on the latest alert I’ve seen yet. Thanks for the laugh and the warning: ‘Cuz Biff is everywhere, well not quite, I sometimes think Savoir Faire is everwhere…but not lately it seems…

  • Alan

    Ah, but you have not heard about the ban on toilet queues on transPacific flights.

  • Barry

    Great Scott! This is heavy…

  • Darryl Pearce

    You mean the anachronistic paradox causing the fabric of the space-time continuum to unravel hasn’t happened yet?
    Man, I must be out of the loop.
    –ventura county, ca

  • rdb

    The Register’s Flight Sim enquiry raises terror alert

  • rdb

    The Register’s Flight Sim enquiry raises terror alert

  • nilsey

    actually i think it’s just to give cops a good excuse to stop anyone they want, as long as that person is carrying a book of some kind.


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