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.: 2001 --> september
Go read Follow Me Here:
Vic Tandy, a lecturer in law and international relations at Coventry University, believes that extremely low-frequency sound -- 'infrasound' -- may explain hauntings. Twenty years ago, after he and co-workers had been experiencing an unsettling presence in their office, he identified a standing sound wave of ~18.5hz from a ventilation fan as the culprit; the lower limit of human hearing is around 20hz. The sense of presence disappeared when the fan was shut off. A 'haunted' 14th century pub cellar in Coventry was shown to have an 18.9hz peak when its soundscape was spectrally analyzed. Other research has shown that infrasound around this frequency can cause nausea, fear and panic. Extraordinarily, the human eyeball has a resonant frequency of 18hz, which might explain visions of ghostly presences.
So, then, how do those people who convince ghosts to leave the building work? Later, it becomes The Killer Joke. But only at 18.9hz. I'd tell you myself, but Eliot has done a good job (and a link!) Go see.
Goths, you might wish to pick up (or leaf through) the latest issue of Martha Stewart's Living since the cover article is 'Paint it Black'. Honest, it's a pretty good article.
Among the worst offenders were the managers of mutual funds. Supposed to look for value and intrinsic merit, enjoined by law and custom to be prudent with their investors' funds, they instead joined wildly in the raillery, got their own rewards for buying the garbage and then ran ads about their great success to suck in still more money from the unwary. None of this happened by accident. Some people got fantastically rich from the fraud, and people do not usually get rich from fraud by accident.
[ 09/10/01 ]
I thought I had linked to this, but when I searched I couldn't find it. So here it is: Redefining Progress is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that develops policies and tools that reorient the economy to care for people and nature first. Home of the ecological footprint, a means to determine your impact on the earth.
I need to do the longer version; the short version doesn't seem to be oriented toward a person who walks (but doesn't eat a lot) or sometimes takes public transit in a city 7 miles across (On average, how many miles do you travel on public transportation each week? The lowest answer is 'Fewer than 15 miles per week.' My average is more like 'fewer than 15 miles a month')
Still, my footprint by this calculation is 56% of an Average American's, meaning that it takes 14.1 acres to support me.
Always remember - a statistic is an answer to a question. Etch it into your brain, for this is the rock on which rafts of human interest statistics splinter. When you see a statistic or factoid offered by the media, always remember to play "Jeopardy" with it and ask yourself, to what question is this an answer? ... Before determining the utility of the answer, we need to determine how useful was the question.
Even Bigger Media News: 'A federal appeals court today strongly signaled its intention to strike down two regulations that for decades have prevented the nation's biggest broadcasters, cable companies and media conglomerates from expanding by taking over local television stations.' [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
'The historical needs for these safeguards with the so-called old media of cable, television and newspapers are clear,' said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an advocacy group devoted to promoting diversity on the Internet and in other electronic media. 'But the Internet and other digital communications are also at risk. Without ownership limits and other safeguards, the new digital medium will unfairly favor a small number of powerful interests. The ability of new entrants, including those with different perspectives, to innovate and compete will be severely threatened.'
[ 09/10/01 ]
Jason is encouraging people to donate blood today. Please consider doing so no matter where you live.
Both World Trade Towers taken down with two hijacked planes, the Pentagon attacked, an unconfirmed car bomb exploding outside the State Department.... It's a dark day to be sure.
Who did this? To what end? I can anticipate the draconian measures our government will now take in the name of safety and democracy; and this terrorism will rally the country around the most extreme measures. And the people in those planes and in those buildings, the firefighters.... I'm heartsick in so many ways....
And let me just ask a question about airport security: two hijacked planes flown into the Trade Tower; and reports of two more hijacked planes still missing. If you can coordinate hijackings in this way, hijacking clearly isn't as hard to do as I have been led to believe.
Truthfully, I'm just surprised that this hasn't happened before now.
I keep asking myself, 'To what end?'
Also, don't forget the Hunger Site.
Don't get me wrong. If Bin Laden is indeed behind this, then he should be either killed or put on trial.... Still, how we go about bringing Bin Laden to justice (assuming, again, that this is his work) will massively influence how safe Americans are in the decades to come.
Follow Me Here has some excellent links regarding yesterday's events. I like very much his quote from David McReynolds of the War Resisters' League:
We urge Congress and George Bush that whatever response or policy the U.S. develops it will be clear that this nation will no longer target civilians, or accept any policy by any nation which targets civilians....
Let us seek an end of the militarism which has characterized this nation for decades. Let us seek a world in which security is gained through disarmament, international cooperation, and social justice - not through escalation and retaliation. We condemn without reservation attacks such as those which occurred, which strike at thousands of civilians. May these profound tragedies remind us of the impact U.S. policies have had on other civilians in other lands.
[ 09/12/01 ]
David Grenier has some thoughtful remarks on the racism that follows each of these events.
It's important to put things in context, keep a cool head, and deal with the situation as it exists. It's important that none of us be like the guy who posted to Usenet after the Oklahoma City bombing that we should just randomly attack cities in the Mideast (after it turned out to be an American, some folks asked him if he thought we should randomly attack cities in the Midwest). We must follow the words of Mother Jones who once told us, 'Mourn for the dead, fight like hell for the living.'
[ 09/12/01 ]
When America's actions in international affairs are out in the open, instead of stamped 'Top Secret,' when the American people and the people of the world are allowed to know what the U.S. government is up to while it's happening instead of years and years later, perhaps the U.S. government won't be quite so casual about its actions all around the globe. When America can be proud of its foreign policy, instead of ashamed to the point of keeping it classified, our fear of terrorist attacks will evaporate.
Red Cross, donate blood, Hunger Site. To your left.
Federal police are reportedly increasing Internet surveillance after Tuesday's deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
An administrator at one major network service provider said that FBI agents showed up at his workplace on Tuesday 'with a couple of Carnivores, requesting permission to place them in our core, along with offers to actually pay for circuits and costs.'
[ 09/13/01 ]
If the attacks on America have their source in the Islamic world, who can really be surprised? This column goes a little far even for me, but I agree with the essential point that what happened Tuesday is a logical consequence of US policies and actions.
We need to learn to walk our talk. (via metafilter)
The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with no credible pretext, destroying half its pharmaceutical supplies and killing unknown numbers of people (no one knows, because the US blocked an inquiry at the UN and no one cares to pursue it).... As to how to react, we have a choice. We can express justified horror; we can seek to understand what may have led to the crimes, which means making an effort to enter the minds of the likely perpetrators.
[ 09/13/01 ]:: Dave Winer:
What you can do: Renew friendships with people who are considered enemies, but actually are not. Use the Internet to meet people with strange last names, and ask questions and listen to what they say. If they express anger, try to validate it, not negate it. Have the courage to go through your beliefs.
The Red Crescent is the Palestinian equivalent of the Red Cross. I gave them $100.
[ 09/14/01 ]
If there is to be a memorial, let it not be of stone and steel. Fly no flag above it, for it is not the possession of a nation but a sorrow shared with the world.... Do not build again on this place. No building can stand there. No building, no statue, no column, no arch, no symbol, no name, no date, no statement. Just the comfort of the earth we share, to remind us that we share it.
If I were King, we might avoid a war. If I were King, our country would take the high road, insist on a lawful response to this lawlessness. If I were King, the US would stop selling arms around the world and begin using its power compassionately and dispassionately and above all, it would begin to strive for liberty and justice for all.
If you can muster the courage, pray as hard as you can for peace.
The peace community...joins wholeheartedly with the nation in condemning the brutal attack of two days ago, and in the fear, grief, and shattering sense of loss it has occasioned.
There is also widespread agreement that there should be no rush to judgment and no massive 'retaliation' that would target the innocent civilians of any country. Noting that international law does not recognize any right of retaliation or vengeance (Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which governs the use of force, requires that any action be taken only with the permission, and under the auspices of, the Security Council, the only exception being self-defense against imminent attack which does not include vengeance for past attacks), Peace Action and others are calling clearly for any remaining perpetrators to be brought to justice through legal channels, with international cooperation.
There are many, many people in this country who see clearly that one killing of innocents will not be requited by another, that a radically different path is needed to assure our security and that of people in other parts of the world.
Booknotes has many more thoughtful links on the subject of an appropriate response.
I spent a very pleasant weekend removing the stains from a few linen napkins, and then researching the care of antique linen. I'm not so interested in learning about conservation techniques (though I'm very interested in learning to know when those techniques should be used) but I'm extremely interested in learning to restore linens for everyday or frequent use. I put together this page with the information I found; if you have experience or other resources I should add, will you let me know?
A pastor thinks about 9.11 and ponders the moral response.
The idea of a 'Just War' is based upon two principles: 'jus ad bellum' (justice in going to war) and 'jus in bello' (justice in the conduct of war) which are applied by asking a series of specific questions.
A just war must be for a just cause. It can only be used against evil. It cannot be used as an instrument of national policy, nor for ideological or religious reasons, nor for retaliation, nor to defend national pride or honour.
A just war must have a just intent. It must be used only to restore a just peace for all - friend and foe alike.
A just war must only be used as a last resort - when all other approaches fail.
A just war must ensure limited military action. The war must avoid harm to non-combatants and it must seek only to restrain and then stop the evil, bringing the opponents into a just peace not destroying them.
(both via relapsed catholic)
We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.
Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.
And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view.
[ 09/17/01 ]
'In fact, violence is rarely effective. If violence was effective, we would have had a peaceful planet eons ago.'
[ 09/17/01 ]
:: Today (maybe this week) I'm just not able to sort through all the information out there, but in my sidebar are a handy list of links from some folks who still have the energy to try. RRE will have the most complete set of links; if that overwhelms you, move through the others. All tend to the left, and range from very thinky to semi-knee-jerk (but that's why you come here, eh?), but all are posting prolifically.
Dan is running a weeklong series called 'Understanding Islam'. I recommend it highly.
I watched Letterman last night.
A sensible editorial from the South African Daily Mail & Guardian.
World domination by a democracy like the US is preferable to some alternatives. Not many people would choose to live under China’s military-bureaucratic despotism or the repressive fanatics of the Taliban. But the poor two-thirds of the globe has little reason to feel grateful to America, and much to reproach it for. While that profound polarity continues, terrorism — the warfare of the powerless — will not go away.
Whatever military action the US resorts to, what is required of it in the longer term is an exhaustive political engagement with, and sensitivity to, the concerns of the deeply aggrieved who are its bitterest foes — starting with those in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East. Engagement, not military action, will ultimately deliver sustainable peace.
His family claims he's not the man. I tend to believe them; though I can't find it on the CNN news site any longer, there was a suspect early on whose identity was stolen by one of the hijackers. Why wouldn't all of the hijackers have assumed false identities? I'm still confused about how everyone can be so sure that bin Laden is involved. Sure, he might be, but that's the only name we've heard from day one. I'd like to see the evidence instead of just playing out a foregone conclusion.
Bush's use of the word 'crusade' may alienate moderate Muslims.
'It's what the terrorists use to recruit people - saying that Christians are on a crusade against Islam,' said Yvonne Haddad, a professor of the history of Islam at Georgetown University in Washington. 'It's as bad to their ears as it is when we hear "jihad."'
Craig has an idea for retaliation that is along the lines I've been thinking. I have to say that a plan like this would effectively set the world on its ear, if only for its nuttiness. And it would certainly reframe the debate on our own terms, not that anyone seems to be interested in doing that at the moment. But I've been thinking for since this happened that the most effective response would be the most off-the-wall response; Xtreme Creativity would put the ball back in our court, and as long as we talk about war, as far as I'm concerned, the terrorists have prevailed.
Focus on the helpers
[ 09/19/01 ]
One source of reassurance is the very familiarity of disaster coverage, said Joshua Meyrowitz, a professor of media studies at the University of New Hampshire. 'The structure is comforting even when the content is so disturbing,' he said. 'Imagine if they just had the regular "Price is Right" program on. People would have been more anxious.'
Even the more debatable aspects of the early coverage the incessant replay of crashes could be oddly reassuring. Television provides "a way of gaining control, a feeling that one is arming oneself with information that lessens the sense of helplessness," Barbie Zelizer, a professor of communications at the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, said. "We needed to see this, and we needed to see this in repetition.
Think of the way a 3- or 4-year-old likes to watch the same video, or hear the same story over and over. Child development experts call it mastery, a way for them to feel in control of unfamiliar material. Watching the seemingly impossible picture of the towers on fire and then collapsing again and again helped people absorb the shock, and make the unreal real.
[ 09/19/01 ]
The re:constructions project re:constructions is an on-line resource and study guide, designed to spark discussions and reflections about the media's role in covering the events of 11 September 2001 and their aftermath. As millions of people around the world sit glued to their television sets, even as we write, we feel it is important to encourage critical analysis of the words, images, and stories which fill the media - as well as the ones we are not hearing or seeing.
re:constructions represents the work of students, staff, faculty, and friends of MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies. It is not the work of an academic department. It is the work of a community which felt it had to do something to make a difference. We study media and so this is what we had to contribute.
[ 09/19/01 ]
Our chief concern should be that there is nothing we have they want. They don't want recognition. They don't want our trade. They don't want our culture. They don't want our aspirations -- democracy, free choice, high technology. They don't want our values. They don't want our wealth.
Actually, they would like our literacy (for males) and health care, but that is not enough. I think we need to enlarge western civilization so that we have something to offer them that they want. For all their differences, the Chinese and other Asias share aspirations with us. They would like to have much that we have. This is true of Latin America and even Africa to some extent. They want it in their own way, and on their own terms, and with their own improvements, but there is a sense of of a common goal.
Ask now of any action you mean to take -- bombing, assassination, ground war -- whether it means there will be more or fewer terrorists when the children who are now in preschool grow up to fighting age. This is not an argument against the use of violence. Violence is absolutely essential; but it has to be used so that it conveys the right political message to the people who might become terrorists when they grow up. The state has to become as good at theater as its enemies. There's a short version of this lesson: 'Don't shoot the boys throwing stones.'
The entire article is top-rate. (via rc3.org)
Jane's Report: Who did it?
Israel’s military intelligence service, Aman, suspects that Iraq is the state that sponsored the suicide attacks on the New York Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington. Directing the mission, Aman officers believe, were two of the world’s foremost terrorist masterminds: the Lebanese Imad Mughniyeh, head of the special overseas operations for Hizbullah, and the Egyptian Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, senior member of Al-Qaeda and possible successor of the ailing Osama Bin Laden....
'We’ve only got scraps of information, not the full picture,' admits one intelligence source, 'but it was good enough for us to send a warning six weeks ago to our allies that an unprecedented massive terror attack was expected. One of our indications suggested that Imad Mughniyeh met with some of his dormant agents on secret trips to Germany. We believe that the operational brains behind the New-York attack were Mughniyeh and Zawahiri, who were probably financed and got some logistical support from the Iraqi Intelligence Service (SSO).'
Weirdly, the idea that Saddam is behind this is strangely comforting to me, putting the 9.11 attacks back into an paradigm of war that is closer to the one we all held on 9.10. From Saddam's point of view the attack would be little more than a retaliatory volley (albeit with our own equipment--but then, we don't allow him to take his own planes much of anywhere.)
Admittedly, the rules have changed and the two masterminds named in the article are scary (why have I never heard of them?) but if it were Saddam, we would be facing an enemy with a very specific complaint rather than the prospect that anti-American sentiment has spread so widely and deeply and virulently that religious fanatics around the world are willing to plan diabolically complicated suicide attacks on US soil.
I'll say something else: Americans don't have the will to fight a 10 year or longer war. We just don't. Once a culprit (bin Laden) or culprits (Saddam) is captured or killed, Americans will want peace once again. I fear that this isn't the sort of thing you can start and then just 'have peace' again. But we're in for it, stomach or no. (via Follow Me Here) [ 09/20/01 ]
How we name Wars (thanks, Lisa!)
Caveat Blogger! News: In a culture jam of the first order, computer security researcher editied and altered news stories on Yahoo! news earlier this week.
[The altered story] warned sarcastically that Sklyarov’s work raised 'the haunting specter of inner-city minorities with unrestricted access to literature, and through literature, hope';
It said President Bush attended the special press conference, attributing the following comment to him: 'Some children may have been subjected to the works of Mark Twain or Foucault, but this flagrant illegality will not continue. They shall not overcome. Whoever told them the truth would make them free was obviously unfamiliar with federal law.'
On a practical note, check other news sources, and if you can only find the one, at least make a note of that in your linktext.
Retaliation is a trap. In a world that was supposed to have learnt that the rule of law comes above revenge, President Bush appears to be heading for the very disaster that Osama bin Laden has laid down for him. Let us have no doubts about what happened in New York and Washington last week. It was a crime against humanity. We cannot understand America's need to retaliate unless we accept this bleak, awesome fact. But this crime was perpetrated – it becomes ever clearer – to provoke the United States into just the blind, arrogant punch that the US military is preparing.
Zeldman: The Angry Flag Vendor
A big protest march went by my house on Saturday. I always feel that for some folks, the declaration of a war is like an invitation to some weird party where everyone gives themselves street-cred for some good old-fashioned vietnam-style change-making, pats themselves on the back for being better than the masses, and then excuses themselves from any responsibility to think critically about what's happening or from doing anything actually constructive.
Thank God everyone isn't as cynical as I am.
(It is worth noting, just for the oddity of it, that in many ways, David is much, much more cynical than I am. Actually, I think it's that he's more of an idealist than me.)
While I'm being such a meanie, I'd like to mention that while I support the idea of having a massive memorial service for the families of those who were killed, was it necessary to give such a solemn occasion a 'catchy name'? 'A Prayer for America' is classically tasteless American, isn't it? Maybe I'm in the minority, but not everything needs to involve celebrities and be named as a made-for-TV-movie.
The most conclusive proof yet that irony is dead
Ed Herman in his book The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda does not justify any terrorism but points out that states often engage in 'wholesale' terror, while those whom governments define as 'terrorist' engage is 'retail' terrorism.
While qualitatively the results are the same for the individual victims of terrorism, there is a clear quantitative difference. And as Herman and others point out, the seeds, the roots, of much of the 'retail' terror are in fact found in the 'wholesale' terror of states. Again this is not to justify, in any way, the actions of last Tuesday, but to put them in a context and suggest an explanation.
A search turns up four books on Amazon devoted to mending and repairing clothing:
All of them are out of print. That sort of tells you everything you need to know about American consumer culture, doesn't it?
A second insight revealed by the awful gaping hole in the Manhattan skyline was how ill-served we have been by a politics that perpetuates the illusion that we are all on our own and, in particular, holds the institutions of public service in contempt. For two decades, politicians of both parties have celebrated the pursuit of private gain over public service. Shrinking government has become a preoccupation of political leaders through deregulation, privatization, and cuts in public services.
And does anyone believe that the firefighters who marched into that inferno did it for money? Does anyone think that people working for a private company hiring people for as little as possible would have had the same motivation -- would have been as efficient? At the moment when efficiency really counts?
(via follow me here)
Two people have been arrested for looting the World Trade Center. 'They had been working as volunteers in the disaster area when they allegedly took the watches.'
Beliefnet: Islam Primer
Beliefnet: Links To Religious And Other Ethical Stances On War, Military Practices, And Pacifism
(CNN asks that you copy and e-mail this statement to whomever asks about it.)
And of course, you've seen this in your mailbox already:
Bomb them with Butter.
[ 09/25/01 ]
net.narrative.environments has some super-smart links to discussions of information warfare, cultural differences, media culpability in terrorism, and more. I've added her to my sidebar on the left, along with the always thought-provoking caught in between.
More from Beliefnet:
I must say, I like the icons used on Book Forager very much. Move one of the sliders and take a look for yourself. I do wish that I could enter the title of a book I love and get a rating for it, and then ask for 'more like this'.
[ 09/26/01 ]
Read this one, too. Read it carefully. It's beautiful, simple, and heartbreaking. Then read the rest of the issue. It's world class.
I've always thought the Onion was good, but I never knew they were this good.