Idiocy simulator

Julie Olearcek recently dropped by a Staples to inquire about buying a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator for her son. The Staples attendant got worried that she was a terrorist trying to learn how to crash planes into buildings, he called the cops. And then, according to Court TV:

A few hours later, a State Trooper showed up at Olearcek’s house incognito, shining a flashlight through a sliding door and tapping on the glass.

Olearcek was frightened at first, but the State Trooper identified himself and asked Olearcek if she had inquired about the video game.

The kicker? Olearcek is an Air Force Reserve pilot. The kicker to the kicker? She didn’t mind the state inquiring as to why she was buying a video game. “At first I felt like, ‘Wait a minute, this is America.’ But we also have to understand it takes everybody to pay attention,” she said.

Now, I am not one of those high-octane privacy-at-all-costs nuts who have been driven apoplectic by today’s security measures. I don’t mind being subjected to running my shoes through airport scanners. But there’s something awfully weird about the criminalization of Microsoft Flight Simulator, which is the best selling flight sim in history.

(Thanks to Watercooler Games for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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