Another two links to pass along to the (very) few people who will ever see this. First: Roots of Rage (Time). Understanding these things is very important, because in the months to come, we have a choice: our actions in the “war on terrorism” will make our position in the world better, or worse; we will either reduce the dangers we face, or multiply them. I know which one I’d prefer. Second: A Pure, High Note of Anguish (L.A. Times) by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s deeply, almost distressingly human.
Archive: September 2001
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but The Onion is one funny group of people. They took last week off, but they’re back with a venegance, covering the 9/11 events in their own special way. Funny they are, yes, but one can tell they’re more than a bit angry (and rightly so!) this week. If you’re squeamish, you might want to skip the article about surprised hijackers. Just a fair warning.
Ever felt like you were teetering on a precipice? You should after reading the following: Ashcroft faces congressional worries over proposed law changes (CNN) and Hackers face life imprisonment under ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Act (SecurityFocus), not to mention Terror attacks revive crypto debate (also SecurityFocus; scroll down to get to the frightening parts). Apparently, the Bush administration has so fallen for its own assertion that these terrorists hate us solely because of who we are and what we stand for, they’ve decided the best way to ward off future attacks is to change America to resemble the types of repressive regimes that spawn said terrorists. Civil liberties? Who needs ‘em?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my comments on Saturday touched off a spirited debate within my own household. Kat wants to make it clear that she can’t understand how anyone, anywhere, could celebrate the death of several thousand people under any circumstance. I actually agree with her, and didn’t mean to imply that I supported the celebration (much less the practice) of mass murder. I don’t. I’d like to think that nobody does, but a few lines from a song keep coming to mind: “Folks are basically decent / Conventional wisdom would say / Well, we read about the exceptions / In the paper every day.”
A thought experiment: consider the massive outpouring of charitable giving for the victims of 9/11, and then suppose that there had been a similarly massive outpouring of charitable aid ten years earlier for the people of Afghanistan, whose country was shattered by Soviet occupation.
From the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages: Whooping It Up. Note that I don’t condone any of the actions described, and I certainly don’t condone terrorist activity. The piece itself may well be totally biased and not representative of the general world. It is still an important piece to read—not to inflame yourself to greater heights of patriotism and paranoia, but to think hard about why the people described in that piece feel the way they do. It didn’t happen overnight, or for no reason. You will probably be angered by what you read, but ask yourself this: what are all the roots of my anger? What about the anger of the people in the story; what are its roots? Does it have any legitimacy at all, even in part?
As I said to a colleague recently, “I’m afraid that [an attack] will happen again, and even worse, I’m afraid it will happen because we missed the moment, in our pain and grief, to really listen to the world around us.” While he agreed with me, I think this is probably the worst possible time to ask (most of) my countrymen to think, let alone listen to anything except “God Bless America” for the ninetieth time.
Anyway, if this posting offends you, I feel very sorry for that, but again I urge you to ask this question of yourself, so long as you resolve to honestly answer yourself: for what reason(s) do I feel offended?
Found on zeldman.com: photographs by Christopher Casciano of the World Trade Center attack from the New Jersey shore. All 72 images are more than worthy of examination, as they give a much-needed sense of scale to the attack’s effects, but for sheer impact it’s hard to beat pictures 8, 16, and 31. Some of the images there are better, in a certain sense, than anything I’ve seen in the mainstream press. It wasn’t until I looked through Mr. Casciano’s pictures that I really, truly understood just how huge the twin towers were, and how much of a blow it must have been to see them fall and disappear in a massive grey cloud of dust and smoke and ash.
We’re home and safe. We feel a little guilty that we’re relieved to have made it home when thousands of people will never come home again, but there it is: you cling to what you know and can control, and try your best to move on and accept the rest. And to be thankful for what you do have, and for those close to you.
When everything happened, we were in Mountain View, CA, where I was visiting the Netscape campus. Kat was going to fly down to Los Angeles on Tuesday, but obviously that didn’t happen. We were supposed to fly back home on Saturday, but the flight was cancelled, so we ended up taking the Sunday night redeye and arrived at about 6:30am EDT this morning. Tired and weary, we crawled into bed and grabbed a few hours of sleep in our own bed. We even let Gravity sleep with us, which we usually don’t permit, chiefly for allergenic reasons. (Also because she manages to occupy an incredible amount of space for so small a cat.)
I’ve already had a few inquiries about the complexspiral demo I debuted at Web2001, and I assure you that it is coming soon! I want to do a little touch-up work, as well as document browser support and bugs, before unveiling it. I hope to get to that tomorrow, as I’ve dug my way out from under my e-mail and newsgroup backlogs in near-record time and should be back into the work groove by tomorrow morning.