Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alpha and the Superbowl

Fans of American football would be well advised to watch the game on TV tonight, rather than heading for Detroit.

Paul Domowitsch in the Philadelphia Daily News:
NFL penny-wise, security-foolish

OVER THE LAST few years, the National Football League has tried to stage a more cost-efficient Super Bowl. But it could be playing with fire in its latest money-saving attempt. The league has cut ties with the nationally respected security firm it has used for the last 29 Super Bowls, California-based Contemporary Services Corporation. It will go a less expensive route this year, hiring three smaller, less-experienced companies to handle security for Super Bowl XL next week in Detroit.

The league sure has picked a strange time to make a security switch of this magnitude, considering that next week's game will be played just a half-mile from an international border (Detroit is across the river from Windsor, Ontario). It also comes just 3 weeks after the latest taped threat of a terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden.

One of the three new companies in charge of security is the Alpha Protection Group (or Alpha Group International), a firm based in Florida (or North Carolina) that doesn't run a website. Apparently, "Alpha handled security for the G-8 Summit in Scotland last summer" , just as the terror attacks took place in London.

Many interesting points are made in that Democratic Underground thread. And as one poster says: If anything nasty does happen tonight, it will have been the most-predicted terror attack in history.


  1. ACT I plot point?:

  2. Hmmmm. I don't think those guys could make it from Yemen to Detroit in one day. But who knows? If The World's Most Dangerous Men can break out of jail that easily, maybe they have truly superhuman powers.

    Someone was saying that Detroit, like New Orleans, is an eminently expendable city - working-class, Democratic, post-industrial, high-unemployment - with the largest Muslim population in North America. Anyway, I sincerely hope that this unease is unfounded. It seemed worth mentioning the speculation before the game, because in the event of any actual terrorist incident, the subsequent media shitstorm will be inescapable.

  3. "I don't think those guys could make it from Yemen to Detroit in one day."

    They just have to get to a telephone! To send the secret code to activate the MacGuffin. Because of course they have to Caracas...

  4. actually, dearborn michigan (near detroit) is the city with the biggest population of arab people. Detroit is a highly expendable city, and the baloney that they are pulling on the inhabitants of the city are absoulty unreal...for example, they are jailing homeless people, putting all the money into fixing up the already priviledged down town area at the expense of the parts of the city like eight mile and the west side that are in genuine need of the money--they even, rather than putting money into fixing the poor parts of town, built facades of "clean" houses to put in front of burnout ugly houses until all the superbowl lovers leave would almost be welcome if a terrorist attack happened tonight because that would be about the only thing that could remove Detroit's reputation of violence, burning cars, poverty, highcrime, lazy black folks, and out of control basketball players attacking innocent white men.

  5. warszawa6:21 AM

    "they even, rather than putting money into fixing the poor parts of town, built facades of "clean" houses to put in front of burnout ugly houses until all the superbowl lovers leave town...."

    Some things never change. When I was a kid in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1970s, the Queen came to open a new public building in our part of town. They renovated the facades of the (largely-empty) slum buildings her motorcade would be passing through, planted grass on the mud in front, and surrounded these instant lawns with little white picket fences. They even hung curtains in the windows of empty flats. Then they put a police guard on the properties so that they wouldn't be vandalised in the meantime. We were fascinated. On the great day, the Queen whizzed through in her limousine and BBC Scotland reported. A few months later, those houses were demolished to make way for the car park of a brand-new shopping mall.

    That was what finally motivated my father to start up a local paper with a radical priest, two students, and a shop steward from the Rolls-Royce factory.

  6. wow, that's so interesting warszawa--progressive americans are always taught that europe is what we should be shooting for...that europeans may not have it perfect, but they are closer to perfect than we are...turns out you all have your problems too huh?
    was scottland an occupied territory at the time? was the poverty of your city a sign of colonialism (as with indigenous territories here in the states) or (as with detroit) a sign of post-industrialism/capitalistism?

  7. warszawa6:20 PM

    Colonised? Well, Scotland was handed over to England by a few dozen Scottish aristocrats in the 18th century. And Glasgow's population exploded in the second half of the 19th century, as the Highlanders fled from the enclosure of their common lands and the colonised Irish fled across the sea from the famine. (Highland Scotland had been colonised by sheep, which were far more profitable than people. That's why Canada is full of people called MacSomething-or-other.)

    The short answer is that Glasgow was a typical industrial city for 100 years, and is now "post-industrial" - i.e., it sells money, financial services, "the arts", and its own carefully prettified history, while exploiting the fact that it's very close to some spectacular countryside. Reasonably wealthy people can have a very good time shopping, eating and partying in the beautifully-renovated Victorian inner city, while the impoverished formerly-working class vegetates in dismal housing estates (in the US you'd say "projects") on the edge of town.

    If you're interested, a Glasgow novelist called Alasdair Gray wrote a strange and wonderful book about a young would-be artist growing up in Glasgow, committing suicide, and reawakening in a bizarre version of the same city - which is about to be devoured (for inefficiency) by an entity known as The Creature:

    Janice Galloway describes the effect Lanark had on her:

    "As a writer, Alasdair Gray's writing makes me feel braver. As a woman, it makes me feel acknowledged, spoken to. Sometimes, even listened for. As a woman writer in Scotland, those gifts are still rare enough to make me very grateful indeed."

  8. ah, ok, thanks for that warszawa...I knew that there had been some happenings in which scottland had some how been declared independent from britian, so I just assumed that it had been colonized, as opposed to handed over...glasgow sounds an awful lot like Ann Arbor Michigan, actually (where I lived for a long time while finishing my undergraduate degree)--it really profits off of its association with the University of Michigan and generally, is one of the richest cities in the US that doesn't have factory work as its major economic pull--but at the same time, there are families that live in the woods, and homeless people are thrown in jail so they don't "bother" the rich kids that go to school here, and the ghetto area that I lived in charged more to rent a cheap roach infested dump of an apartment than what it costs to buy a house in most cities...the "best" jobs around Ann Arbor that don't require a degree in medicine are the janitor jobs at the university hospital...really rich white folks basically drive up the cost of housing so the rest of us ghetto folks can't afford to live next door.
    I don't know where poor folks are going to live as industrialized countries/states/cities become post-industrialized...what do you do with the lower classes when the upper classes don't need them any more?
    oh, and thanks for the book suggestion, I am getting my Masters in creative writing with an emphasis on magical realism, so that book sounds like it is right up my ally!

  9. warszawa7:56 AM

    Now that's another peculiar coincidence: Alasdair Gray had "Lanark" (and several other books) printed in Ann Arbor, Michigan - and he always thanked those typesetters for having fulfilled the almost impossible demands he made on them:

    - If you're pushed for time and want to get a flavour of his writing, I recommend a brilliant short story from that collection: "Five Letters From an Eastern Empire".