Friday, September 11, 2020

[zjbheefw] Huge mass murder

9/11 proved that crashing a plane into a skyscraper will demolish it, killing up to tens of thousands of people inside.  Is this still the most straightforward way to kill a huge number people, say, more than a mass shooting, more than just crashing a plane?

Cynically, obviously not: there are many easier ways to kill more.  One can work for, or otherwise support, the vast political establishment dedicated to decreasing or denying health care, e.g., the entire Republican Party.  One can work for the part of the health insurance industry dedicated to denying insurance claims.  One can work for the tobacco industry.

(Most of this post was written before the pandemic.  There's obviously currently a bunch of policies related to COVID-19 causing large amounts of death, mostly spearheaded by the Republican Party and its supporters.)

Continuing cynically, but more globally: One can join the military.  (America's War on Islam "Terror" killed, and is still killing, far more than 9/11.)  One can work for the vast military-industrial-political complex dedicated to keeping America's enemies, and even its allies, at a low standard of living so that the U.S. can politically and economically control them.  A lower standard of living might not directly cause many deaths, but Years of Potential Life Lost add up.  Climate change is expected to cause many indirect deaths.  One can work for political organizations opposing policies to slow down climate change, e.g., the entire Republican Party.

Some people believe abortion is murder, so one can become an abortion doctor or otherwise support the legality and availability of abortion.  Similarly, some people believe birth control is murder, extinguishing life that would have been.  Therefore, to commit mass murder, one can distribute birth control or otherwise support its legality and availability.  However, these methods of mass murder only count as mass murder if you can get people to believe it is murder.  A great way to support and encourage such beliefs is to support the Republican Party who uses those beliefs as wedge issues, though you can't support them too much or they will outright ban abortion and birth control.  Though most abortions are for economic reasons, so preventing abortions (i.e., supporting the Republican Party) will cause children to grow up with unfavorable economic conditions, conditions which should be reckoned with Years of Potential Life Lost.

Nevertheless, despite all of the above easier methods, we also reconsider crashing a plane into a skyscraper.

Since most of the deaths will be on the ground (the building occupants), hypothetical passengers on a hijacked commercial passenger plane (the scenario where most airport security has been focused) do not increase the kill count very much (relatively, as a proportion of total deaths), so, instead of hijacking, an attacker should consider alternatives like stealing, chartering, renting, or even just purchasing an aircraft.  Because there would be no passengers, the attacker has a lot of flexibility about what to load the aircraft with.  The WTC collapsed due to fire, because jet fuel does burn hot enough to melt steel if you give it enough air, a fact known to civilization since the dawn of the Iron Age, but apparently not known by conspiracy theorists.  Explosives are fun, but they are not as energy dense as simple fuels, and explosives are difficult and dangerous to handle.

Now that everybody knows that crashing a plane into a skyscraper will eventually cause the whole building to collapse, building evacuation has become much more urgent.  Are there tall buildings from which building evacuation from above the point of a fiery plane strike remains possible?  A building design that might facilitate such evacuation is one with stairwells at or near (the latter so as to preserve desirable corner offices) the corners of the building: one plane can't strike all the corners.  What's the best arrangement of staircases if the building cross section is not a square?  Thomson problem.

It could be that various security measures (perhaps measures not as publicly visible as the security checkpoints for passenger flights) have made flying a plane into a building actually quite difficult.  If so, what is the next best method for killing lots of people, assuming you don't want to do the easy methods listed above (e.g., supporting the Republican Party)?  Most critical infrastructure tends to be well guarded.

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