Packet Rat: Can a blogger stay awake in the city that never sleeps?

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

With all the absence of excitement that came out of blogging the Democratic Convention in Boston, the Rat is waiting with bated breath to see how deep a coma the Republicans can lull bloggers into in New York. That is, unless somebody makes unauthorized changes to the script.

Once again, 'credentialed bloggers' ('An oxymoron of Texas-size proportions,' the Rat remarked to his network console-mates one recent morning) will be on hand to witness the less-than-spontaneous bombast. Once again, only the highest-quality partisan bloggers have been selected to spin the message to their 20- to 30-odd daily readers who have managed somehow to not get credentialed themselves. And odds are that the WiFi will work this time (as uber-blogger Dave Winer complained it hadn't at the Democrats' affair).

But this time, they have to negotiate an entirely different gantlet to do it'they have to get into New York City. And this time, Tom Ridge has authorized a very special elevation of the Homeland Security Advisory System to Code Orange in time for the festivities.

And, of course, there are all the joys of New York in the late summer, with the wilting humidity steaming up the lenses of your gas mask and the eye-reddening fumes from the tear gas being fired on that protest upwind; it just makes you want to sing ... .

All of that would make New York a pretty unattractive place to be right now. So of course, that means the whiskered one has been tagged to make a trip to the Big Apple.

On special assignment from his agency, the Rat has been traded temporarily to Homeland Security's Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) in exchange for two interns, a Bush-Cheney campaign button and a draft choice to be named later. And, as always, he's found himself tagged as the designated field tester for a whole suite of the latest Q-style gadgets being floated by bidders as the next wave in counterterrorist technology.

'You'll be out there in the wild,' his handler told him as he handed the Rat specially reserved Amtrak tickets. 'With the array of sensors we've wired to your body, we'll be able to monitor everything that's happening to you from here in Washington and from our New York field office. You'll be our eyes, ears, nose and stomach to the world.'

Unfortunately, they didn't manage to actually book him a hotel room in New York. 'We've done one better,' his DHS handler told him.

'Anything, as long as it doesn't involve an entrenching tool,' the cyberodent sighed, sagging under his mass of electronic enhancements.

'You're going to be right at the heart of the action! To give you cover for your highly enhanced condition, we've gotten you credentialed as a convention blogger. That way, you can eat, breathe and sleep right where we need our sensors most ready.'

'You mean I'm going to sleep in Madison Square Garden?' the wirebiter whined.

'You and a whole lot of other people,' his handler nodded. 'I mean, have you ever been to a political convention? It's snore city.'

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected].


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