THE DC-9 has climbed to 30,000 ft. You have that serene, floating, god-above-gravity feeling­the small miracle of flying. Your fellow god, the one in the cockpit, is mumbling the usual comforting inaudibles over the P.A. ("Off to the leftmmmmmzzz . . ."). You give the other passengers a quick scan; apparently not a hijacker in sight. A small prayer of thanks might be in order.

But then there is a minor throat-clearing on your right. Your seatmate is about to speak. You are about to suffer a disaster that neither man nor computer...

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