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Mainstream Media Vs. Web 2.0

Mainstream Media Vs. Web 2.0

Moments like the ones we endured this morning, watching the tragedy of the London transit bombings, remind me over and over of the power of the internet. These moments of crisis act as a kind of case in point in the argument between the mainstream media and the forms of media developing online. I remember in the days following September 11th, 2001 that articles were appearing announcing that the internet failed us in the crisis; major news sites were bombarded and being dragged down into uselessly slow loading; while the internet was supposed to be rapid-fire, it wasn’t providing the news fast enough for its hungry audience. Live television, with it’s ability to quickly interrupt itself with the latest news, was faster at getting the news out. There was an air of “I told you so” about the articles, a sort of finger-waggling, reminding us that we still need the wire stories and our tvs. I read these articles and shook my head in disbelief. These people accusing the internet of failure were not looking for information in the right places. The internet did not fail us on 9/11, and it didn’t fail us this time, either.

The mainstream media cannot do what the internet does; it can’t connect us to each other. On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was getting my reports from a friend of mine living in Manhattan, feverishly taking pictures from her rooftop and sending them to me, and waiting for her daughter appear on the street below, her shoes covered in ash. I called her friends in Toronto for her to let them know that she was okay, because the phone lines were down, but her broadband internet connection was still working. She could talk to me, and a whole slew of us who had gathered together in a multi-user synchronous space, but not anyone who was offline. While the anchors on my tv were scanning the latest news release, I was hearing the same information from my earphones, as live streaming radio from the US and from the people in the same virtual room as me, living the events as they occured. I was following this thread (warning: slow loading, as it is a huge, fascinating page) on metafilter, which is a moment by moment group blog detailing each excruciating detail, partly by people at the site itself, in and around New York City, and partly by those around the world watching and listening to the news. Mainstream media can show me the official video and hand me the official stories, but they can’t be hundreds of people on the scene, reporting directly back to me. They can’t be my friends, and I don’t feel for the mainstream media what I felt about the people there that I knew and loved.

Today was a bit different, but not that much; I started my day by hearing the story on the radio and being completely without an internet connection. I felt helpless, my hands tied. I didn’t know what was going on, I was blind and deaf because I didn’t have my contacts at my fingertips. I got into work early and checked on my friends. Someone created a group blogdedicated to check-ins from Londoners; people were desperately logging on, trying to find out if their friends were okay. The phone lines might have been down, but if you were online and had a blog, you could contact your friends and family and fill them in on what’s going on. The comments to these blog posts are filled with comfort, concern, and offers of help.

I talked to a couple of Londoners over YM and AIM; they told me about their empty offices, the long walk home, the eerie calm. We listened to radio streams together, and a friend of mine corrected some misinformation in the cbc radio broadcast. (“It’s not a tourist bus, it’s just a regular one.”) As was the case four years ago, a metafilter thread stands as a historical record of information as it appeared.

When it comes to big events, big tragedies, the internet has not failed us. Expecting the internet to act as if it’s just another version of the mainstream media is setting it up for failure. When it comes to connecting us to each other in ways we were never able to connect before, the internet has provided us with a whole new view of world events. By connecting us with each other, the internet brings the news so close to our hearts it hurts.

A bit of This and That

A bit of This and That

How to spread freedom.

The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers’ online activities.

Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs–that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place.

One of the greatest ethical challenges involved with the internet is so simple; now that it’s relatively easy, and completely possible, to record everthing that happens in the digital realm, it’s so tempting to just do it. It seems too clear to us that it’s not a great idea when it’s legislated for ISPs to do it, but libraries? We, like Google, have sworn to not be evil, But is that enough to keep us in ethically clear waters? Libraries are keen not to keep detailed records of specific patron’s library use, we avoid some of the advantages of using portal technology to do things like’s recommended reading pages, but we seem to have no issues with things like recording virtual reference transactions. We need some clarity on these privacy issues. Ethics shouldn’t come down to “I know it when I see it” gut reactions.

In other news, what sort of damage is P2P filesharing doing to the television industry?

How much of the potential audience is making the effort to actually download? Downloaders tend to be dedicated fans, not casual viewers of a show, because while downloading’s become fairly simple, it’s not as easy as turning on the television and plopping onto the couch. But networks and advertisers aren’t very interested in dedicated fans; they want casual viewers, because the casual viewers on any given evening far outnumber the dedicated fans. If that holds true, then what’s the real damage done as a result of downloading?

It’s even more complicated than that, I’d wager. If there’s anything major industry doesn’t have a grip on, it’s the amazing good downloaders can do for their financially. Case in point: vidders.

Vidders are folks who download episodes of tv shows (or movies, whatever) and splice up scenes or shots into a montage that often relates a narrative about the show or the characters, and then set it to (usually illegally downloaded) music. So they create music videos from clips of copyrighted material.

Why this is good: if you can imagine a better commercial for your tv show, I’d be impressed. Here we have fans of the show, creating often beautiful videos, showcasing their favourite character, posting these vids on mailing lists or archives, so that other fans can see them. And often those fans are not yet fans of the show. But soon are, after seeing enough vids. I didn’t start watching Smallville until I saw too many of my friend’s fanvids and opted to tune in. Personally, I think the studios should be shooting extra footage and releasing it, just for vidders. Extra audio-free video every week. Challenge people to work with it. Post the week’s best vid. People would eat it up. And then you’d get even more people making vids, and broadcasting them even wider. Hello, free publicity. Underground publicity. Cool, fan-generated publicity. I’m surprised no one’s grabbed on to this yet.

And in completely unrelated news, baking soda doesn’t do a darn thing if you put it in your fridge. Apparently that’s a big marketing hoax. How about that!

Paris Hilton: “I hate reading!”

Paris Hilton: “I hate reading!”

From today’s Toronto Star:

Pamela Anderson recalling her last dinner conversation with Paris Hilton:

“Last time I met her we were in a restaurant together. She slammed down the menu and screamed, ‘I hate reading!'”

Luckily Pammy is fluent in menu.

I dunno, I find that oddly amusing. Pamela Anderson, erstwhile dumb blonde posterchild more recently outed as an intelligent, critical, media-savvy woman with a very meta take on fame and beauty, talking to Paris Hilton, the latest dumb blonde on the scene, a wealthy, partying socialite with dark roots, coloured contact lenses, a history of racist remarks, and an apparent disdain for anything that requires her brain. The passing of the torch. I never thought those Baywatch days would ever seem enlightened.

A “Women’s” Problem

A “Women’s” Problem

From The New York Times:

Jody – and I mean this in a sweet and not a clinical way – has been in a state of perpetual schizophrenia since our daughter was born. She used to run a company, but she loves being a mom. So she’s settled on a string of part-time roles that (in my view, at least) call on a fraction of the skills corporate America spent two decades helping her develop.

Maybe you know a woman (or a few million) like her. It’s hardly news that the issue vexing talented people is the struggle to balance their professional lives with time for fulfilling lives outside of work. The shock is that after decades of wrestling with these tradeoffs, the obvious answer is the one everyone has been too skeptical or afraid to explore: changing the way top jobs are structured.

I’ve been reading about this issue a lot recently. Why aren’t there more women in CEO positions? How long will it take to achieve parity? There was an article about it recently in the Globe and Mail, and the answer there was never. I think it was a Wente column, and she said that men want to trounce the other guy into the ground at all costs while women just want to be happy. So men will continue to take the jobs that require 24/7 attention and women will take the more reasonable, mostly-satisfying positons that allow them to live their lives around it. That’s what she said. I felt it was essentialist and problematic, but I didn’t have a better answer.

Here’s the deal: this isn’t a “women’s” problem; it’s a human problem. Yet for 30 years women have tried to crack this largely on their own, and one thing is clear: if the fight isn’t joined by men (like me) who want a life, too, any solutions become “women’s” solutions. A broader drive to redesign work will take a union-style consciousness that makes it safe for men who secretly want balance to say so.

Sounds good. But why is it that men didn’t fight for balance to start with? What was so appealing about not having a satisfying family life in the first place? Were we really never closer to parity in parenting than we were in the 1950s? Didn’t we have dads who were closer to their kids? Is corporate culture the last to get a breath of fresh air?



Today I am physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausted. I didn’t think I would be able to post anything today for lack of any ability to string words together, but a few bits of information in the blogosphere today prompt me to talk about them. So, a hodgepodge random of bits:

It’s good to be plump. Good news for those of us who are carrying a little extra weight; it appears that our risk of death is less than those who are at a supposed optimum weight. So obesity remains a not great thing, but a few extra pounds? Cushioning. Just like I always thought.

From the “here we go again” file: Texas decides that gay and bisexual people can’t be foster parents. “It is our responsibility to make sure that we protect our most vulnerable children and I don’t think we are doing that if we allow a foster parent that is homosexual or bisexual.” Good to see we’ve all got our priorities straight. No pun intended.

Unrelated note: I am completely fascinated by every little piece of journalism dedicated to Pope Benedict. Every animated news header and every paragraph of news and interpretation has had 100% of my attention.

A new way to spend our time: the RPG wiki. You and your friends go letter by letter through the alphabet defining things of your choice, pretending to be historians of an era that doesn’t exist. I could get into this.

Preparing for the election. The sponsorship scandal is confusing, complicated, and the details will take months to expose and sort through. How anyone is even slightly surprised about it I have no idea. But I will never, ever forgive the Liberals if their behaviour provokes a premature election and the prime ministership of a certain Stephen Harper. I will blame them for that.

Another unrelated note: an unknown visitor ran a search for ‘panties’ on my blog. I find this disturbing. I prefer the term underpants.

Ipods and education. I have found myself talking about ipods in the classroom lately, and I have to say, I’m not convinced they should be there. Everyone’s talking about their amazing ability to record lectures and interviews, but no one seems to mention the fact that ipods are not actually designed to record. They need an extra piece, called an italk, in order to record anything. Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to give students a tape recorder and a walkman? How about burning lectures to a cd and handing those out? How about streaming audio content for students, or, to be even more hi-tech, set up a system where students can offer up their own content for streaming? What is so educational about the portability of an ipod? Or is this all a big marketing ploy to get students to come to their schools? I love my ipod, don’t get me wrong. I would be loath to ever exist without one. But I’m still not sold on the educational angle here, folks.

Librarian in black may be the first to convince me that there’s something useful in this hot new plugin, Jybe. Jybe enables co-browsing, something that makes me a little nervous. But since this sort of co-browsing seems to be more co- than the forced browsing model some v-ref software companies put forward, I can maybe get down with Jybe. Collaborative web browsing might be interesting.Distant Librarian is still reporting issues with the software, however. I’ll have to try it out to see.

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

“It’s written in the history of the future.”

Gotta love the Quebecois Separatists with their extremely logical language. They still have Separatistis, apparently, in spite of the fact that we haven’t heard much about it in the last few years. They want to have another ‘dum. You know, another referendum. I am very sympathetic to the Quebecois, I really am. Distinct society? Yes. I voted ‘yes’ on that ‘dum. I’m a bilingual girl from Ontario, I’m a French immersion grad. I’m all about the French being special and lovely. I even know that you can’t turn right on a red light in Quebec, and that’s knowledge I garnered as a non-driver living in Ottawa, clearly I am pro-Quebec.

But the separatists still make me laugh. Hey, we couldn’t get a majority the last time, well, best two out of three. No? Well, now that we have some war going on, now that the ridiculously (Quebecois) Prime Minister is about to step down, maybe we can get some anti-Canada sentiment up, we can get a sexy-looking leader…okay, maybe not…we can talk about ’embracing the ethnics’, we can point out how ‘a lot of them feel as though they are one of us’, which I find very heart-warming, myself.

Let’s move the separatists to Alberta, where they can make that province the fifty-first state. Suddenly four million Alberta cowboys would have spontaneous orgasms and erect American flags on the front of their houses, there would be dancing in the streets and lots of bookburning. They would dance the dance of death on their public health care system and exile their welfare recipients to British Columbia. Oh wait! They already do that! Edmonton would be a Canadian city state stuck in the middle and there would be a bloody border war, wherein the Alberta separatists would insist that Canada pay to move Alberta farther away from pinko Saskatchewan and godless British Columbia.

I love my country, I really do.



Check out Protest records
Okay, this is just one cool concept. If you’re like me (and like free mp3s, w000t!) you’ll be keeping an eye on this bad boy: protest records. This is a Sonic Youth venture, and I know this because, well, all the stuff is on the Sonic Youth server. (I’m smart like that.) They’re collecting protest songs and giving them away on the website. The tagline: use’em for yrself. give’em to friends. just don’t sell’em.

Some personal favourites:
In a World Gone Mad, Beastie Boys
Go Down, Congress, Steven Taylor
Peace In the World, Nancy Lancy
Pictures of Adolf, Jim O’Rourke and Glenn Kotche
two minutes and fifty seconds of silence, credited to George W. Bush and Matt Rogalsky. This is perhaps the strangest track I’ve ever heard, and unless I’m much mistaken, what I think he’s done is taken all the pauses in Bush’s sentences and combined them to make a new ‘speech’. Actually, me just telling you that that’s what I think it is might be enough, you probably don’t have to actually download it. But what a weird, weird track. Cool, though.

Politics and Good Radio

Politics and Good Radio

This American Life: The Balloon Goes Up

Act One. Bombs over Baghdad. Issam Shukri is an Iraqi man, living in Canada. He lived in Baghdad when it was bombed during the first gulf war. He talks about how scary it was when the ground started shaking, and how hard it was to explain to his three year old son.
Act Two.Tice Ridley, a first lieutenant in the army, has been sending regular emails from Kuwait City where he’s stationed about what it’s like to wait for the war to begin, and what it’s like to fight it.
Act Three. What’s French for French Fries? David Sedaris reports on French/US relations.
Act Four. Sarah Vowell tells the story about the first time the US attacked a country that hadn’t attacked us first. It was also the first time the US went to a foreign country to force a regime change. The country in question is still not doing too well a hundred years later.
Act Five. What Peacetime forgets about Wartime.
Act Six. Lessons from Ancient Wars. The story of a preventive act of war commited 3200 years ago, in the lank that’s now Turkey. Seneca’s The Trojan Woman takes place at the end of the Trojan war.

I swear to you, my own life would be so much poorer without This American Life.

New Brunswick Couple Can’t Leave Their Property

New Brunswick Couple Can’t Leave Their Property

Nope, sorry, Lady. You can’t cross the road.
New Brunswick couple can’t leave their property. The Pedersen’s have lived on their potato farm for 53 years. The property skims the international border with their driveway in Canada, and the road, centimetres away, in the United States.

An American customs agent even threatened to arrest Marion Pedersen for illegal border-jumping on Jan. 31, 2003.

“It was out here when they stopped me,” Marion says. ” And he said `I’m going to take you in.’ ‘In where?’ I said. And boy he meant it. He wasn’t fooling. And I said, `Well what’s wrong?’ He said `You jumped the border.’ And I said `Well, maybe yes, maybe no, but if I have, I’ve done it for 53 years.'”

Marion escaped prosecution, and eventually got special dispensation for herself and her husband Nickolaj to cross the street without getting into trouble with the law. But there’s no such permission for anyone else who might come to the farm, not even her eight children who like to visit, or delivery or service people.

“He said `Mrs. Pedersen, you’re alright, but you’re not allowed to have anybody else here. No family.’ I said `What about family?’ `No. No friends.’ `I said what happens tonight if say the water stops? And I have to call a plumber?’ `Nope, not unless them come around by Andover and report.’ I said, `Well, how can they get back in here? This is Canada.’ Well that was going to be the way.'” [Rather funny audio link about this story here.] Thanks to Brin for the link.

Where Have All the Muslims Gone?

Where Have All the Muslims Gone?

Where Have All The Muslims Gone?
Remember Ali, the Iraqi student I wrote about a few weeks before leaving for Italy when telling about going to the antiwar rally?

He’s gone. Disappeared.

His parents’ phone number is disconnected.

His mother cannot be reached at work.

His father disappeared first… and now, one of our babies is gone!

His counselor said to me this afternoon: “Either the parents have been called in by the government for questioning, or else they’ve all fled.”

Oh, my God.

More Multi-Media

More Multi-Media

The Foundation Restaurant is not afraid of expressiong an opinion about the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. In fact, the walls of this unassuming cafe are currently papered in anti-war sentiment.

It’s part of an exhibition entitled No War: Reasons and Photos by Melissa Campell. She asked 105 ordinary Canadians to explain their reasons for opposing war. She then paired the answers submitted with a portrait she took of each person.

Mark Thomson is part owner of the Vancouver restaurant. He says, “We put them up because the reasons against the war just don’t seem to be getting much coverage. Everyone who comes in here is opposed to it but all you hear on the news is why we need to go.”

See the Exhibit as a flash movie here.

Sodom Of Eye-Rack

Sodom Of Eye-Rack

Free Speech?

Free Speech?

You Can’t Criticize American Politicians in Canada
TORONTO – The U.S. ambassador to Canada let fly at the Canadian government Tuesday, complaining about its lack of support for the Iraq war and its failure to discipline Liberals who criticize the U.S.

Paul Cellucci said “a lot of people in Washington are upset” with Canada for not backing the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

And he said Ottawa “could do a better job” at controlling Liberals, like Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal, who said last week that U.S. President George Bush lacks statesmanlike qualities.

I’m sure there’s a Geneva convention about criticising world leaders who declare illegal wars on middle eastern (read: muslim) countries. Respect must be paid, dammit. What is this ‘freedom of speech’ of which the Americans speak? What is this ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ the American government keep going on about? My my.

Brian Mulroney and the Great Big Snit

Brian Mulroney and the Great Big Snit

I saw Brian Mulroney on television today, doing an interview. Well, to be honest, I didn’t actually see him. I just heard him, because I couldn’t be bothered to sit in front of the tv for that. So I just read the online news and ate my breakfast while listening in.

I was appalled.

Well, I shouldn’t be. Brian always did have one hand in the Bush, so to speak.

So he’s upset that the Chretien government isn’t backing this war. He says waiting for UN approval is “letting foreigners set Canadian foreign policy.”

“You know who it is?” he says. “It’s a few guys from Chad and Mongolia. Sure, they’re smart guys, but they’re still foreigners.”

Of course, it doesn’t strike him as at all hypocritical to then suggest that we base our foreign policy on whatever the Bush administration dictates. Right, cause that’s not foreign. As foreign hopping over to your neighbour’s backyard for a barbeque, isn’t it Brian? Yeah, you don’t need a passport to do that, either.

He criticizes the Chretien government for making the ‘popular’ choice, not the ‘right’ choice. Sure, two thirds of the Canadian populace support the Chretien government in this decision; the entire cabinet and the entire government (even the Liberal Chretien opponents) support this decision. This is what Mulroney calls governing by ‘popularity polls’. What we need to do, they tell us, over and over and over, is go into Iraq and fight for freedom and democracy. What Tony Blair is doing, going to war in spite of the fact that his country is against the idea, is brave and right. It’s all in the spirit of democracy, the wonderful gift we will bring to the people of Iraq.

I’m so glad they hold democratic ideals so close to their cold, tin little hearts.

The Theatre of War

The Theatre of War

Theatre is an apt word for it, from our perspective. This is something we watch, we are an audience for these things. We turn the war on in the evenings when we switch on our tvs. We listen to it on the radio and read it on the internet, unfolding with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Inverted checkmark; the build up, the climax, the denouement. And even if the war doesn’t have these parts the media will create them for us.

The last time we did this, we were very involved. Twelve years ago we were devoting money and people and emotion to the American conquest. But it was clearer then, or it felt clearer. An invasion, our economic interests, atrocities. The murder of the Kurds, a modern-day Hilter. Ethnic purging. This time everything is different for us. We’re not commited to this war, we’re not sending people, we’re not giving them any money. The symbolic response of the Canadian government impresses me, to be honest. Jean Chretien is at home with his wife. He’s not answering questions, there is no press secretary up on a podium answering questions. There is no one on parliment hill; just a few reporters standing around idly. The Prime Minister is refusing to make this a big deal. He will sit at home and deal with whatever fallout he has to in the morning, at a reasonable time.

For a moment I thought, “but shouldn’t he address us, at least? The people, the population of Canada?” And then I realized, no. No, he doesn’t need to. This isn’t our war. This isn’t our conflict. There’s nothing that needs to be said, really. We’re not going in, we just need to hunker down and then maybe offer to help clean up the mess afterward.

But who knows. Who knows what our non-participation will mean for our relationship with the US and the UK. It’s a theatre of war, after all. All we can do is sit still and watch.

September 11th

September 11th

It’s that time of year again. This time it’s not terrorists halting day to day life…it’s exessive media coverage, for the purposes of getting better ratings, more customers, getting re-elected.

I’m not sure I would recognize respect anymore.

Religion, Politics, and War

Religion, Politics, and War

Rex Murphy is trying to work out how much religion is involved in conflicts in the world, given the rising tensions in the middle east. I am completely confused by all of this, the events blur together for me. There is always violence, and I have a hard time remember whose side I’m supposed to be on.

I am very sympathetic toward Israel. Israel is the tragic hero of a beautiful story: gathered together and freed by God, settled with a growing series of rituals for communicating with God, the long, slow process from nomadic to settled; the history of relations with other nations, deciding on what is and is not problematic for them, their God, their lives. Their very literary decisions about justice; when the Levites lost their land, they were given, in return, the sole right to be religious men. Landownership for religious priviledge. The constant tension between the tribes, their political movements, siding with Judah, siding with Israel. Israel’s ability to sway smaller tribes, the debate about the golden calf. They have this beautiful unity and complete multiplicity, growing from roots unrelated to place and the present, yet always shifting in the tides of current events and very basic needs.

The destruction of the temple, the fall of Israel, the fall of Judah. The shocking disappearance of the contents of the Temple, the silence of the documents. (What did they do with the ten commandments? Did they break them, burn them, dance on them? Did they secret them away, bury them? Grind them down into nothing, use them to make mortar? slip them into the walls of a whorehouse?) The dispersion, the inability of these people to gather themselves back together. The tragedy of that loss: when you believe that the Temple is the seat of God, that the temple is your ear horn, through which you can just barely hear your beloved, and when your enemy arrives and destroys it, you can never find another, there is no other. You cannot hear your beloved anymore, and you are blind. You can only observe one another, sliently, without touching, just hoping that you are both still there, both still waiting. A Muslim dome is built over the site of the holy of holies, the single most sacred spot for Jews, a place that no one was allowed to see.

Another thousand years of persecution.Jews were not allowed to own property in Europe, and were expected to take care of morally problematic elements of society, in particular, money. (Money, banking, and charging interest is highly problematic in Catholicism.) When the plague hit one town in Italy, the government’s first response was to kill all the Jews, assuming they were poisoning the wells. They were driven out of most European countries at one time or another; they were constantly pressured to convert, and when they did they would still be forced to wear a plackard that said ‘I am a dirty Jew’ and walk through the streets. There was the Holocaust, which was just another atrocity. Throughout the whole time, the Jews mantained communities, languages, and a sense of self-identity.

I am sympathetic to the Jews, but I realize that the modern state of Israel has not behaved well. They have made a conscious effort to rewrite history; they have evicted Palestinians from entire villages and then set it up as a ‘recreated Jewish village’ and charged admission from tourists. They have made laws about historical Jewish buildings while demolishing Christian and Muslim holy sites. They want to purge their territory of peoplpe who do not allow them to recreate a long-forgotten Jewish state. Israel is far from innocent.

I know very little about these recent events, but they frighten me. Rex Murphy is talking on the radio right now about separating religion and politics and I can’t see it through. I don’t know how to understand the state of Israel without religion. I can’t imagine what the answer is to all of this drama.

People call in and say, “can’t we all just get along?”

It is not the way to go

It is not the way to go

a few words from John Pilger
Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez lost their son Greg in the World Trade Centre. They said this: “We read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go… not in our son’s name.”

The Algebra of Infinite Justice

The Algebra of Infinite Justice

The algebra of infinite justice
America is at war against people it doesn’t know, because they don’t appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an “international coalition against terror”, mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can’t very well return without having fought one. If it doesn’t find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we’ll lose sight of why it’s being fought in the first place.



Speech given by a commercial pilot to his passengers after September 11th
“I just wanted to drop you all a note and let you know that I arrived safe and sound into Dulles Airport tonight [9/15] at about 6:00. It was an interesting flight.

The airport in Denver was almost spooky, it was so empty and quiet. No one was in line for the security check point when I got there so that went fairly quickly, just x-ray of my bags and then a chemical test to be sure nothing explosive was on them. Then I waited 2 1/2 hours to board the plane. What happened after we boarded was interesting and thought I would share it with you.

The pilot/captain came on the loudspeaker after the doors were closed. His speech went like this:

“First I want to thank you for being brave enough to fly today. The doors are now closed and we have no help from the outside for any problems that might occur inside this plane. As you could tell when you checked in, the government has made some changes to increase security in the airports. They have not, however, made any rules about what happens after those doors close. Until they do that, we have made our own rules and I want to share them with you.

Once those doors close, we only have each other. The security has taken care of a threat like guns with all of the increased scanning, etc. Then we have the supposed bomb. If you have a bomb, there is no need to tell me about it, or anyone else on this plane; you are already in control. So, for this flight, there are no bombs that exist on this plane.

Now, the threats that are left are things like plastics, wood, knives, and other weapons that can be made or things like that which can be used as weapons.

Here is our plan and our rules. If someone or several people stand up and say they are hijacking this plane, I want you all to stand up together. Then take whatever you have available to you and throw it at them. Throw it at their faces and heads so they will have to raise their hands to protect themselves.

The very best protection you have against knives are the pillows and blankets. Whoever is close to these people should then try to get a blanket over their head — then they won’t be able to see. Once that is done, get them down and keep them there. Do not let them up. I will then land the plane at the closest place and we WILL take care of them. After all, there are usually only a few of them and we are 200+ strong! We will not allow them to take over this plane.

I find it interesting that the US Constitution begins with the words “We, the people” — that’s who we are, THE people and we will not be defeated.”

With that, the passengers on the plane all began to applaud, people had tears in their eyes, and we began the trip toward the runway.

The flight attendant then began the safety speech. One of the things she said is that we are all so busy and live our lives at such a fast pace. She asked that everyone turn to their neighbors on either side and introduce themselves, tell each other something about your families and children, show pictures, whatever. She said “for today, we consider you family. We will treat you as such and ask that you do the same with us.”

Throughout the flight we learned that for the crew, this was their first flight since Tuesday’s tragedies. It was a day that everyone leaned on each other and together everyone was stronger than any one person alone. It was quite an experience.

You can imagine the feeling when that plane touched down at Dulles and we heard “welcome to Washington Dulles Airport, where the local time is 5:40”. Again, the cabin was filled with applause.

Kids say the darndest things

Kids say the darndest things

Kids Say the Darndest Things”

When asked about the attacks on the World Trader Center:

Why are those people so angry? — Michael, age 6

It looked really cool; I bet I could have shot them planes down. — Andy, age 8

Dad says we should kill’em all. Mom says he’s a fanatic. — Josiah, age 11

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. — Carla, age 7 (daughter of parents who own a 1976, diesel, Volkswagon bus)

Invest in the long term. Mutual funds. — Kevin, age 6 (obviously, not the son of Carla’s parents)

I wish everybody would just stop talkin’ about this. It’s enough to make me wanna barf. You know, who wants to see that stuff? — Tammy, age 7

I’d like to know what we did to deserve this; it’s not my fault; I know that. — Greg, age 9

Where’s the gin? I’d like a martini. — Natalie, age 8

When asked if we should go to war against the terrorists:

Do you want my Game-boy? — Billy, age 7

People die in wars, don’t they? — Nathan, age 5

Evil is as evil does. — Jasmine, age 9

As long as they don’t raise taxes or take away my smokes. Got a cigarette? — Cameron, age 6

When asked what it means to be American:

Mom says we gotta go to Wal-Mart and buy a flag. — Daniella, age 7

It means we love freedom and peace, even if we have to kill people for it. — Shauna, age 10

I think I’m gonna move to Paris. Mom says that’s where good people go when they die. — Madison, Age 8

Pappy says it means we’re the best people on Earth. — Timmy, age 6

Women’s suffrage in question again?!

Women’s suffrage in question again?!

Uh huh….
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A female state senator says she views women’s suffrage as a sign that American society doesn’t value the family enough but she wouldn’t deprive women of the vote.

Sen. Kay O’Connor on Friday confirmed reports that she told leaders of the Johnson County League of Women Voters she does not celebrate the enactment of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

She says she believes women should have the right to cast their ballot but if men were doing their job of taking care of women andchildren, then women wouldn’t be required to vote.

“The 19th Amendment is around because men weren’t doing their jobs, and I think that’s sad,” she said. “I believe the man should be the head of the family. The woman should be the heart of the family.”

Thoughts on Terrorism, the World Trade Center, and recent events

Thoughts on Terrorism, the World Trade Center, and recent events

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.
–Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was wrong. In some cases, the master’s tools are the only things that can dismantle the master’s house, as we saw when American airliners destroyed the World Trade Center and took thousands of lives. Suffering around the world doesn’t stop the average american from pulling on his nikes, withdrawing money from a bank machine, filling his gas tank and heading for mcdonald’s. Most people in North America are blissfully unaware of the fact that, for example, Afganistan is in the throes of a civil war. Protest doesn’t break through the glass between the promised land of the United States and the rest of the world. Violence, bloodshed, starvation, not even American bombing of civilian targets makes the news. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine how it must feel, being the ant being stepped on by the giant, screaming, crying, begging for mercy, and being utterly unheard. In this case, our tools, our toys, or wonderful inventions and advancements, are the only things we really see, the only thing with the power to set us above the rest, the things we value more than all else. We love cheap oil, which powers our tools and toys, far, far better than non-white lives. It is the things we cherish which always, inevitably, hurt us the most.

Is this an apology? No. It’s not even an explanation. Horrific as it is, the terrorist action of the past week is arguably the very defintion of postmodern war. The powerless take the tools of their oppressors, and even the bodies of the oppressors’ citizens, and turns them into weapons. All the progress, the luxury, the industry, the decadence, and ease that marks North American life, looked at from another angle, is a series of weapons, loopholes, targets and unlocked doors for the nations of weak, helpless, faceless, starving and paunched men, women and children around the world. They may not have money, AK47s, jet fuel, a stock exchange, or an atomic bomb, but they have the will to hold a knife to the throat of a pilot and no qualms about dying in the event of success.

We still don’t know who was responsible for flight airplanes full of passengers into the World Trade Center towers and into the pentagon. But was does seem fairly clear is that the purpose wasn’t just massive loss of life, but a symbolic strike at the heart of the American Machine; the economy, the military. Now, Osama Bin Laden isn’t the only person in the world who’d want to be involved in something like this. The US has had it’s hands in all kinds of pies over the last few decades, creating many docile nations with livid citizens. Who can we blame? Who should we blame? Who should we target? Who dares to poke at the sleeping bear?

We’re used to a definition of war that seems almost ludicrious in the face of the horrors we have now been made aware of. Around a highly polished table, men in suits covered with metals rub their sabres, sip their tea (pinky fingers pointed upward at the vaulted ceiling) and exclaim, “I say, old man! I believe I shall declare war on your this afternoon!” What do you do when the people who are determined to destroy you have no tables, no sabres, no tea, and their declarations of war have been ringing in your ears for decades, but you never really heard them?

I can hear those fighter planes

I can hear those fighter planes

violent_blue says, “you okay?”
wu says, “i guess”
violent_blue says, “i can’t even imagine what it must be like there”
wu says, “i thought we were in the midst fo war”
violent_blue says, “we may well be.”
wu says, “i think there isn’t one person who isn’t in a daze”
wu says, “i can’t even think about those people in the towers”
wu says, “buried in the debris”
wu says, “i can see the hospital rooms from window”
violent_blue says, “there are a lot of police and firefighters missing”
wu says, “yes”
wu says, “you can’t imagine how many plain clothes police there are. they are coming out of the woodworks”
wu says, “i can hear the fighter planes”
wu says, “i dont really feel a thing right now”

I can hear those figher planes…what song is that? U2? Argh…..

How things are shaping up…

How things are shaping up…

One Response:I can’t turn away from the news. The jingoism is driving me crazy. This is an attack against US, for God’s sake, not democracy itself. Can the rhetoric, because no one’s good enough to get it right. I actually prefer watching Adolph Guiliani and Governor Pataki talk about it, because they’re shying away from the “threat to American ideals” bit (for the most part) and concentrating on the massive, massive rescue effort that is underway to control the chaos and the disaster in lower Manhattan.

When the dust settles (literally), I just know that Shrub is gonna do something stupid. Yes, we’re going to have to do something, but he’s not the person I want to call the shots right now. Even worse, he might come out of this as some kind of hero, just because he’s in office right now. Whatever peope are able to do to handle the situation, he’ll be able to claim credit for his leadership. Man, I bet they couldn’t get Colin Powell on the phone fast enough this morning.

Another: I think I’m still in shock.
I can’t get the pictures out of my mind: watching people leap to their deaths, choosing between being immolated alive or crushed by falling. I saw one woman, and I know it’s impossible, but I could have sworn I heard her scream. Its something you can’t imagine. I never thought I could imagine.
Everytime I see that footage of that plane hitting the second tower, I twitch.
The thing is that as we looked out the windows of the office, trying to comprehend how a plane could possibly run into the World Trade Center, we just thought it was a horrible, horrible accident. But watching that other plane come in defied belief. And then it just crashed right in. Fire. Smoke. Horror.
There really aren’t words.
I can’t find the words.
Not now.
Maybe later.
But not now.

And from Mr. Kottke: Some personal thoughts (I want to get these down to read later):

– I have no context for this. Challenger times 1000. Comparable to Pearl Harbor, but I didn’t live thru that.

– All this talk of America vs. the world by our politicians is making me sick and uneasy. This is a human issue, not an American, democracy, or a freedom issue. Someone attacked us all, all of us on the Good Earth.

– I’m so scared right now. I don’t want to hear any reports of Americans grabbing the nearest Arab and beating the crap out of him or her. Don’t do it. Please.