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9/11

I'm going to turn the TV off on September 11th. And close all the web browser tabs I have open on news sites.

This isn't to belittle the events of ten years ago, or to show disrespect for the victims and their bereaved: rather, it's to avoid the narcissistic and indecent media feeding frenzy that battens onto popular sentiment and attempts to jerk every tear from the emotional aftermath of tragedy, the better to milk the advertising revenue stream.

If the media really wanted to mark the occasion respectfully, they'd do so by holding a minutes' silence at 8:46am EST this Sunday.

210 Comments

1:

Damn right.

2:

It's already bad here in the States with all the made-for-tv movies and whatnot. I've been avoiding TV and news websites all week.

It's like an orgy of tragedy-porn.

3:

For the past week the National Geographic channel has been advertising "9/11 week".

I find that stomach-churning. "Tragedy porn" is exactly the right term for it.

4:

I'm going to Canterbury to sit under a tree by the river with someone I care about. No media.

5:

There's nothing disrespectful about wanting to avoid the tragedy porn (well said, skitterling).

I grew up in New York City. I spent most of the day wondering if my mother had been killed. She wasn't at the WTC and the only thing that affected her directly was needing to walk home from midtown. Of two friends, one was late to work and survived as a consequence. The other was on time and perished.

6:

I, on the other hand, intend to watch at least some of it with my kids. It was a major historical event during their lifetime; they lived through it, but they didn't _experience_ it, one being 4 and the other 7/12ths at the time.

They've never even seen the footage, surprisingly. So I think it's right to watch at least some sort of retrospective.

7:

Peggy Noonan's OpEd piece for the WSJ this morning was about American's "never forgetting" 9/11. A traumatic event to be sure, especially for New Yorkers, but worse that Pearl Harbor, an event that most people don't remember?

9/11 will eventually fade from memory because despite the shock it caused, there is no significance to attach to it, or to attach it to.

"Tragedy Porn". Indeed.

8:

I plan to wear this shirt on Sunday.

9:

Going to a local Celtic Fest with friends and the kid.

10:

In the US, it goes past Tragedy Porn. Folks who argue for secession, who sympathize with the militia movement that has led to more than one terrorist attack, who dream of a Christian Nation, will shed the most tears and pump up their hatred.

Princess Di was tragedy porn. At least for Americans, this thing gets uprated to the worst kind of propaganda hidden under the tragedy porn.

11:

I'll be re-re-reading Ariel Dorfman's essay in Granta, and maybe screening some of the sections of 11.09.01 for the kids--certainly the Ken Loach piece, and probably the Sean Penn (a brilliant Ernest Borgnine performance).

I'm not quite certain the kids are old enough to discuss the "massive success" of The Chicago Boyz (i.e., the only period where Chile underperforms the rest of S. America for economic growth is--coincidentally, of course--the Pinochet Years) or the "Chile pension" scam of which Herman Cain is so proud.

And maybe talking about the friends who died ten years ago, and those who barely did not.

12:

We regularly try to get out of the US on that date, usually to St Catharines, Ontario, where we have close friends. This year, it's Ireland, way the hell out on the Dingle Peninsula. Washington and New York are just all 9/11, 24/7.

And it's our wedding anniversary, and we don't need to have our mellow harshed.

13:

It has already started, with films on TV announcements of upcoming programs, newspaper articles. It takes some careful manoeuvring to avoid all the manipulative overly sentimental stuff.

14:

It started almost a month ago in the States. Leave it to the media in the United States to make me hate victims and those who helped them.

15:

Weather permitting, I plan to get some yard work done, and go for a long bike ride.

If you'd asked me a few day after it, I would have said that in a couple generations saying 9/11 will mean as much to them as "Remember the Maine" does today. It was worse than the Maine explosion, and a very different event from Pearl Harbor. But the same results.

16:

I think a minimal media weekend is just the ticket.

Party on!

17:

“I can still remember
Exactly where I was”

Well I can’t
Could you blame me?
An event that happened when I was just eleven
The 'defining moment' of my generation
I’ve practically grown up
With an unpopular war
And it’s never been any different

The defining moment of my generation
Oh how exciting
I never saw the towers standing
(or otherwise, for that matter)
And yet and yet and yet

And yet, well yes
It’s sad, tragic, and
It’ll be in my children’s’ history books
But as what?

A cause for war?
A cause for distrust in our government?
A conspiracy theory?
Or the bitter event
(Innocent people died)
It really was?

“Where were you when
The towers were hit, Mom?

I was on a family vacation
In New Jersey.


----

I like Alex Tolley's point about Pearl Harbor. It feels comforting to think that someday Sept. 11 will fade into obscurity, and then it will no longer be used to justify the sorts of things we are doing now.

18:

Amen.

19:

I was 37 when it happened, and working from home.

A friend of mine phoned and said "turn on the TV news". I dread his calls -- he doesn't do it very often, but when he does, it's something major (Concorde crashing, 9/11, a space shuttle burning up on re-entry ...). So I turned on BBC News 24.

Here is an account by the news anchor I found myself watching. Going by his account I turned on his program around 12:50, and was watching the same live coverage when the second plane went in, about thirteen minutes later.

20:

I've caught some tributes that were actually respectful (mostly on NPR), but they are very much the exception.

I spent enough time watching those buildings come down a decade ago; I will never forget it and I don't need to see it again to remind me. "Pornographic" is exactly the word for it.

There ARE people focusing on constructive things -- CNN's Sanjay Gupta was on The Daily Show the other night advertising a special he was doing on the 9/11 first responders who have gotten cancer. Congress finally passed a bill offering healthcare to first responders last December (in no small part because The Daily Show brought attention to the issue), but apparently it doesn't cover cancer. Just disgusting, and I'd like to see more news outlets reporting on THAT than showing the towers collapsing over and over again.

21:

I believe that National Geographic Channel is owned by Fox Entertainment Group/News Corp. That may explain their choice in programming. Right now they seem to be big into prisons and wars, and I generally avoid it.

This probably also explains why the National Geographic SOCIETY still airs most of its specials on PBS, not its namesake channel.

It seems that Rupert Murdoch ultimately corrupts anything he owns, doesn't it?

22:

That's how I spent 9/11 itself.

(I'd forgotten to pay the electrictity bill so the EDF replaced my main fuse by a low-amperage one, and my wife didn't see the letter telling her this so show turned on the microwave and BAM! we had no electricity, eating cold food by candle light with no TV on 2001/9/11).

23:

Ah, I didn't know about the NewsCorp angle on the National Geographic Channel. Yes, that explains everything.

24:

I'll be working Sunday, since my workweek is now Su-Th.

A decade ago I was working for a different employer, here in Louisville (where I eventually ended up getting laid off as a result of the economic consequences of 9/11), driving in, and I heard the local morning Radio Personality break in with a flash that an airplane has crashed into the WTC. At first, they were under the impression that it was a smaller plane — a Cessna or such.

I called in to the receptionist, and asked her to turn on the television in the lobby. Thus, they saw the second plane hit, live.

I remember being in a fugue state all day — nothing seemed real. That evening, when the magnitude of the day's events started to solidify, is when I began to get deeply angry.

When I saw and heard the pictures of the public rejoicing in much of the Middle East, I lost whatever sympathies I had for the Palestinian cause.

25:

My kids were very small when it happened, and so have little or no memory of it. They have lived through the aftermath (pointless wars, economic and social disintegration) without understanding the reasons or context.

In a way they're lucky, except they'll have to live with it all longer than I will.

We're not going to watch any tv on the 11th. I might talk to them about it, though.

26:

Yes, I saw most of the live coverage on the day. The overwhelming horror of knowing that thousands of people were dying barbarically while I watched from a safe distance comes back and hits me whenever I see it again. (I had the same reaction watching the live coverage of the Waco tragedy - I practically screamed at my family "People are burning alive in there!") So I'll be avoiding the media on Sunday, with the possible exception of the F1 Italian Grand Prix. The Beeb appears to be broadcasting that as normal from noon onwards, my OH is an F1 fan who never misses a race and it's hard to see how they'll shoehorn a mention of 9/11 into that. (though no doubt they'll try...)
And I've plenty of work to bury myself in, plenty of my music to listen to.

27:

I believe that I will attend a religious service. (Not bedside of the date, but because of the day of the week.)

What is this thing called TV news that you speak of? Yes, indeed, I shall ignore that also. It's turned into entertainment, or at least become more transparent in its role as entertainment.

This weekend's version promises to be grotesque.

28:

Almost two years ago I cut the cord, i.e., no live cable programming. I have never regretted that decision. I no longer even have catch a glimpse of the the media orgy. I got a taste of it while I was on vacation a few weeks ago. Appalling. At this point the media is not redeemable.

29:

I'm going to spend this weekend beating up on Orks, in an effort to stay off my blog and away from media so that I don't grind out a 1500-word essay on the 9/11 anniversary that consists of 500 repetitions of "Get over it!"

I was on the phone with a New Yorker when this went down a decade ago, and I heard the panic and confusion first-hand. I'm not insensitive to the shock and grief... but I am sick and tired of that one incident being used as a blunt instrument to beat down dissent and hold hostage anyone questioning the wisdom of American foreign policy. (And to flog merch, which comes perilously close to making me literally gag.) After ten years, the hand-wringing and shirt-rending has left "understandable grief" territory and ventured well into "Miss Havisham" (or "Captain Ahab", perhaps) land.

-- Steve

30:

Grant@24, please don't issue blanket statements re "The Middle East". Palestine was, as far as I know, the _only_ Islamic nation where there was notable popular glee at seeing the US injured.

One wonders what sort of events will mark the 20th anniversary of the disintegration of the USSR, a _slightly_ more historically important date. Will there be anything more (here in the US) than a cable TV history special or two and a few pompous words before moving onto the Surfing Kitten portion of the news programme?

31:

Thank you, Charlie. I plan on doing something much the same, and I wish more people would follow that course.

I was eighteen and on my way to university when my mother woke me at five am Pacific to let me know what was happening. I spent most of the eleventh in front of the television, and ten years later I'm re-considering how helpful that was to me emotionally and politically. Now, the only "ten years later" coverage I'm really concerned with watching is Jon Stewart's and Stephen Colbert's. I've just completed a M.Des. on the future of border security, and I consider that to be doing my part to offer solutions. I don't need to share in Sunday's media experience, the prolonged funeral service for what my country once was or believed itself to be, in order to situate myself more fully in contemporary culture.

32:

"Palestine was, as far as I know, the _only_ Islamic nation where there was notable popular glee at seeing the US injured."

Nope. Lebanon, for the next-biggest example, but there were impromptu celebrations in many of the Islamic countries. There was a big effort to minimize the issue, but it was hard to ignore.

Heck, there were even celebrations in places like Detroit and Montreal...

On the other hand, most of the leaders in the Mideast made a huge effort to be supportive - even Iran had a candlelight vigil for the victims.

33:

@Bruce: Distinction noted. But I will also note that there are Palestinian populations in more than just 'Palestine.'

The problem with the Fall of the Evil Empire, there's no one real date associated with it, just the last half of 1991.

34:

I love how "they're owned by News Corps" explains so well the tragicomedic programming choices of so many media outlets.

And by "love," I mean "I want to beat the entire Murdochian clan black and blue with an oversized Japanese paper fan." It'll be slow, it'll take a while, it'll definitely be gratuitous, and the papercuts will be felt for hours.

9/11 is Significant in what it triggered for the rest of the decade. But the most worthy thing we can do in its memory is to let it rest. Don't disturb the dead. Rebuilding is more worthy than the masturbatory "grieving" our culture seems wont to do, or the political circus it inspires. And last I checked, there was still a giant hole in a piece of NYC real estate.

This weekend? I'm going to hit up Summoner's Rift and beat up champions. The TV stays off, like it always does when I'm not booting up the PS3. There's better porn on the internets anyhow.

35:

Cirby, Grant, drop it.

Srsly. Or I'll ban you both.

36:

I remember hearing about it on the radio and naturally assumed it were two light airplanes and was basically shaking my head about how stupid those guys must have been for the 5 or 10 minutes it took to get to the nearest TV.

But the next day (or maybe still on the same day) I realized that the real disaster is what is going to happen to the country where those people came from. Of course I was wrong. The US, after all, didn't invade Saudi Arabia ...

37:

Ugh.

As I've said before, two exploding buildings and 3000 dead, to the United States, were a bee sting. The rest of the story has been the anaphylactic shock.

I had really hoped *not* to be in the United States this fall, but plans often go awry in this manner. However, it will be my son's very first league soccer game (sorry, Charlie, I mean "football"). It is my extremely fervent desire that nobody mentions it at the game, especially as my son's coach is named Wazir Mohammed and I'm doing my best not to worry for him, surrounded by Hoosier rednecks as he already is.

We were home schooling that year, our daughter in second grade and our son quite small; we had decided to go to the greenhouse on the Indiana University campus for a field trip, where the radio was on. It was a news channel, and they were describing a burning building in New York, and how people were jumping out. My daughter wondered why it wasn't mandatory to have parachutes in the top floors of skyscrapers for this very reason - and in fact, this idea strikes me as quite sound to this very day.

Well. I thought it was all a work of fiction, sort of a War of the Worlds thing, and I thought it was very well-done and quite dramatic - until we met my wife, who told us an actual physical plane had struck the World Trade Center. So we watched footage in the IU Memorial Union. Then I watched footage the rest of the day.

Then there was a magnificent outpouring of goodwill around the world, people holding candlelight vigils from Tehran to Tampa to Timbuktu, and I thought - wow. This is the cusp. Maybe Bush could turn out to have a shining moment here. And for a few days, nothing happened and it looked like maybe things would turn out sanely.

And then the country went bugfuck insane, I protested the wars to the point that my business went under for lack of attention, and everything in existence turned to shit. And now it's ten years later and I have to remember that. One thing's for sure: I'm not going to look at Facebook that day.

38:

That's a valid reason, though I suspect it will be a struggle to find coverage which isn't marred by political screaming of various levels of subtlety. There's cultural differences, I know, but some of the stuff coming out of the USA feels creepy and intrusive.

It's grief tourism at a very personal level. The TV reports have to show the grief-stricken family members. I don't expect people to ever get over that, but the TV cameras are showing half-healed emotional wounds being picked open, even the stitches being ripped out. We're being invited to participate in torture.

39:

That's not a bad idea, James. Personally, my dream for the Murdock family (Rupert on down--his mom seems to be okay) involves perp walks, humiliating trials, evidence of corruption of officials in multiple countries, followed by Rupert learning to make pruno from Bernie Madoff. Oh, and each of the Murdocks getting an extra five years for destroying his cell TV in rage, after each one separately watches NewsCorp disintegrate across the globe, while Fox does a hit reality show where they go through their files and expose their dirt for all to see.

40:

Whilst I will remember with respect the people who died both on that date and after, I have no intention of pandering to the media's hysterical attention gathering attempts. Like OGH I will be avoiding those intrusions and concentrating on life.

41:

I was in my teens in 2001 - a friend had to phone me as I rarely watched TV (the same is true today). We speculated it might be a revenge attack on the anniversary of some US action, and a quick google revealed that on 11th Sept 1973 the CIA backed the Chilean coup against Allende. As I knew nothing at all about the middle east but a bit about South America, I spent the next week going around saying it was obviously South American terrorists and why was Bush wasting his time going after some religious nutcase living in a cave in Afghanistan.....

I completely agree with Charlie - a minute's silence shows far more respect for the victims than trite melodrama for weeks on end.

42:

I am/was done. NP.

No media plans whatsoever. Just planning on observing my own personal moment of silence, before going in to work.

43:

Sounds like sensible plans, Charlie. I'll be doing much the same, and avoiding the blogs and journals where I often see sociopolitical commentary. I'll stick to things that make me glad in the company of people I love and trust.

44:

On that day I was recovering from back surgery during which I had been laid off as the company I worked for succumbed to the dot.bust. My wife woke me up to tell me about the report of the first plane, and I got to see the video of the second plane crashing just as I went into the living room. Because I had no work, and was still on fairly heavy pain killers, I had nothing to keep me from sitting in front of the TV for the next day or so, hoping that some good might come out of this disaster in terms of international support and good feeling for the US in the aftermath, but not having an inkling of how badly the US reaction to the attack would distort our country and the world.

This Sunday we're getting ready for a trip, so I'll have things to do that keep me away from the media. But we're flying out of Portland to Louisiana early Monday morning, and I'm a little uneasy about the frame of mind the TSA screeners are going to be in. I'm carrying an X-ray of the hardware in my back, but I expect the magnetometer going nuts over the screws there will get me the works as far as searching of baggage goes.

45:

3m dead in Congo no big deal
3k dead in the USA - global disaster

And lets not even get into the conspiracy theories

46:

Yes! Damn the Belgians.

47:

Damn Leopold.
He's responsible for evil on a scale that exceeded Pol Pot.

48:


Prior to 1945, They Don't Count. (This excuse worked for Herge....)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tintin_in_the_Congo#Controversy

49:

Tragedy Porn? Try 'Tragedy Prostitution'. Both terms fit, all too well; but the latter has overtones of exploitation, lies, and antisocial diseases

50:

One Western death is a tragedy, a million elsewhere is a statistic. To paraphrase Stalin.

51:

It was a tragedy for New York and Washington DC, I will say that. The problem is when it therefore becomes "the nation's tragedy," which is a bit arrogant, at least in my opinion. Still, I understand.

Personally, I was glad, not because of the attacks, but because of what they had chosen not to attack with those planes. At that point, we were wide open, with a government that mostly refused to acknowledge the possibility of an attack. There were any number of infrastructural attacks that could have really crippled us and caused far more deaths than the ones they chose. I'm always glad when my enemies screw up that way.

I was sad too, not just because of the loss of life, but later on, because the US government squandered a tremendous amount of global goodwill in the way it used 9/11.

Ultimately I agree: silence is appropriate.


52:

Re: If the media really wanted to mark the occasion respectfully, they'd do so by holding a minutes' silence at 8:46am EST this Sunday.

Exactly!

And they could get all the top network pundits to liveblog the whole thing.

As for marketing, there's a candy here in the US whose current ad campaign is "Pause like you MEAN it," and they sound tailor-made to handle it.

I just wish you'd come up with this earlier, because the t-shirts will have to be a rush job.

53:

Well, in truth, yes. Stalin was quite right to say that.

Maybe he did it to emphasize the scale of the suffering that had occurred upon the Eastern Front, of which westerners were almost studiously ignorant.

Are all human lives the same to you? If so, you are a very strange person. Are there really no particular human beings whom you hold in high worth, whose loss would cause you elevated upset? Or are we literally all the same?

Unless you personally know one million people, and have had them all die upon you, the scale of the figure is akin to road accident statistics: They are sufficiently large that it doesn't register.

One dead person whom you KNEW is a tragedy, but for people who say, work as pathologists or as insurance actuaries, it is something that you just can't worry about, full stop, and after a while, you don't. You can do your job, and do it well, because you are an outsider. You don't know them.

If you cared for all men equally, you would be Jesus, or the comedian Bill Hicks. Are you?

54:

Hah, at what point does a mildly popular blog become part of the circus? You could have turned off comments.

55:

I woke up that morning and turned on the news, in time to see the first tower burning, and anchor Bryant Gumbel saying they didn't know if it was intentional or not, just as the second flew in.
I got dressed, then woke up my mother, asking "There's no reason that Sean (my brother) would be at the towers?." His business is more likely to take him up to Park Ave. or 5th, so no. I tried calling a couple times, didn't get through, of course. I e-mailed him and got a reply a few hours later.
He said was driving across Brooklyn Bridge at the time, and was able to turn around and head home, he lived in Brooklyn--right in the path of the dust cloud, to get the windows closed before it reached. He had an asthmatic cat, and was worried about it. He knew there was no point going out and stayed in.
I also e-mailed a friend who worked in DC, when the early rumors about another plane were going around. She later wrote about having to walk home because the Metro was shut down. She described going along Embassy Row, how it and the rest of the streets were empty, and not knowing what was going on.
I stayed glued to the TV. Now, I can't stand to see the video, same with the Challenger explosion.

56:

On the "Where were you?" meme:

I was a sophomore at Northern Arizona U. I was sleeping on the top bunk in a dorm room -- 3-hour difference between New York and Arizona. Phone rang; went to answering machine. It was a friend of my roomie. She said, "You guys need to turn on the TV. Some people flew planes into the World Trade Center and...it's...not there anymore."

I shot bolt upright, with a "WHOA." I was down and across the room in a couple of steps, with the TV on.

Watched CNN most of the day. Had one class; about half the kids didn't show up but I figured I was due for a break. The professor was out of town (and, due to flights being grounded, would be out of town for longer than she'd planned) and so that day we just watched Modern Times. I was grateful for the levity.

I also exchanged some gallows comments with a couple of classmates about how it made me think of the bit in Illuminatus! where a wall is blown off the Pentagon -- which is actually a giant mystic symbol imprisoning the Lovecraftian demon Yog Sothoth, who escapes. One of my classmates commented that he hadn't read the book in years and I offered to loan him my copy; he dropped out or something and I never got it back.

None of which is terribly relevant, but it's funny, the things you remember.

57:

"If you cared for all men equally, you would be Jesus, or the comedian Bill Hicks. Are you?"

And I should care more for 3000 dead Americans than 3 million dead Congolese? Or 8000 massacred at Srebrinica?

Actually, for some reason, my caring emotional response from least to most is Congolese, Americans, Bosnians.

I guess Africa is fucked once more.
However, I do find it a bit sick that its only when Americans are killed in Third World quantities that the tears and memorials flow.

58:

On the "Where were you?" meme:

I had just got home from a roleplaying evening & turned the TV on while getting ready for bed. The BBC World Service was on and showing breaking news; footage of the first tower with smoke billowing out. Then the second plane hit...

On Sunday, I will be thinking about those who died in the attacks but mostly, I'll be trying to live my life as well as I can.

59:

I don't have satellite any more - not worth the cost - but I do spend a good bit of time online, and even sports-related sites here are pimping 9/11 for all they're worth. It's the same as on TV: someone is saying "Oh, make sure to write a lot of content about 9/11 for this weekend, we'll get plenty of hits that way!"

Good tip from vivtek. I'm sure that if it hasn't happened already, one of the status-pasting games will be about remembering 9/11. If I comment, it'll be on the walls of friends who actually post something they wrote themselves.

60:

On "Where were you"?

At a client in downtown Philly, opposite the Mint, and surrounded by Govt buildings. More than half of my consulting team were from NYC - and most of those lived in or around Greenwich and SoHo. My wife called me within minutes of the first impact - and we both thought "terrorist", because an accident was just too improbable.

Everyone was required to evacuate the building later that morning. We relocated to the 'burbs - and I made sure our NYC folks had people to stay with. Some were significantly traumatized by the event - especially the images of people jumping.

I lost 2 colleagues from my office, both of whom I knew only from the 'water cooler', and many more from our NYC office (they were at MarshMac, above the impact in tower 1, and most had arrived for work early, as usual)

It was a tragedy.

The media and social response to that tragedy has been appallingly inappropriate.

Porn and prostitution, both.


We'll be avoiding the media as much as possible. My son's high school band will be participating in a 9/11 memorial service on Sunday. I hope that's the extent of our 'enforced remembrance'.

61:

Meanwhile, I just saw an NHK World segment of children recovering from the tsunami playing, and volunteers cleaning up their village. No Slo-Mo video of waves, no somber music.
Yes, I know it's a natural catastrophe, not man-made, but it's a nice contrast.

62:

Theophylact:  a truly good reason to remember the date. Congratulations!

63:

A blast from the USENET past:


From: Jim Vandewalker

Date: Sep 11 2002, 9:09 am

Groups: alt.religion.kibology

Subject: Hefty-Kewl 9-11 Memorial Burn-Out Post

I'm not watching! I'M NOT WATCHING!! LA, LA, LA, LA I'M NOT WATCHING!! I'M NOT WATCHING!!

It's 9:00 AM and I've already shoved the clock radio under the bed and locked the teevee in the garage and thrown the paper back out in the driveway.

Smarm! SMARM!!! So much smarm it all over you teevee!

There were, no doubt, MANY meetings in corporate communication-land about: "We gotta have a LOGO--a real GRABBER--but tasteful, you know?" "Okay, how about 'A Nation Remembers' in white Garamond narrow over a slowly rippling American flag?" "That's no good--Garamond makes everybody think of Apple, and we want this to be above petty commercialism--it's the only way we can get better ratings than the other guys. Make it Bodoni." "Hey can we get that guy who does the voice-overs for movie previews? You know--the one who says 'In a time when...'in that real sincere hushed kinda voice?"

Are there going to be special KFC/Pizza Hut/Taco Bell commercials? How about a McDonald's commercial showing a whole crew standing outside their store with their hats over their hearts with the flag on a pole silhouetted against a sunrise/sunset? No EVEN BETTER, with the RETARDED kid running up the flag.

I was burned out on 9-11 memorials WEEKS ago.
--
Jim the Dead Guy

And TOMORROW the teevee people will get to beat themselves up for having WALLOWED in it. (With the implication that they only did it because the public WANTED them to, so it's really OUR fault.)

64:

What's television again? That sounds like some kind of big dumb fat one way pipe someone forces content through .

I've no use for such anachronisms (though maybe there is a t-shirt idea in there somewhere).

Regards,

Hans

65:

The Dingle Peninsula? Ah, I envy you. We spent a lovely couple of nights at a B&B right out on the end of it. The owners also ran a restaurant, which they reckoned was the westernmost licensed restaurant in Europe, at least during the winter.

66:

In fairness to Murdoch, his company is named honestly. News LIMITED is close to the truth. I can see Murdoch changing the name to help lessen association with recent events, my personal suggestion would be SOD, Stupidity On Demand, but only because Bastards Incorporated is probably trademarked by an old Australian comedy show. Not having TV reception, the whole thing will slip by unobserved on 12/9.

67:

I'm planning on commemorating the 10th anniversary by telling 9/11 jokes at every opportunity.

It was the tragedy that defined my childhood, and I refuse to allow the tear mongers to try and "remind me how we felt that day" as if I'd forgotten, as if I stopped caring. I do remember, I do care, but we only lose if we decide to stay frightened, and laugher is the best weapon against fear.

68:

Before 9-11 Bush was hurting in the polls, after he was a King. The terrorists won, big.

69:

Passed without noticing it until I read this blog entry! Perhaps that's a factor of the media I consume, or also maybe the local media obsession with various games using different-shaped balls at this time of year.

Adam in Australia

70:

Charlie,

I hadn't realised quite what seemed to be happening until you spelled it out here. It is a newish thing, anniversary porn.

And, why, exactly, is this event important?

Is it because it was the first time Americans were attacked in their 'homeland'? Or to warp regret into aggression?

Lots of other folk have died in equally horrible circumstances.

What makes this exceptional is the American wish for it to be exceptional.

There have been far worse things happen outwith the magic kingdom and no-one cared.

If I were a better person, then I'd spend the whole of that day greeting over the folk that the USA has killed. Because we ought to have a game date for the start of Vietnam, except we don't, 'cause it was just an escalation.

Anyway, we could guess at a date, just for the drama?

Sometime in 1963 perhaps? I don't know, 3/3?

It is a ridiculous affectation of the West that they matter more. It is especially the case with Americans.

71:

We're already starting to get a steady trickle of "commemorative" (read: exploitative) articles in the Australian media. Being the Aussie media, they of course focus on the very few Australians involved in the whole mess, and how it affected them, and what happened to them and how very terrible it was for them. This is because for the Australian media, an event just doesn't happen unless there's some kind of local involvement - the special thing about recent rioting in London, for example, was that some Australian tourists might have been threatened by it all.

Oh, and the other thing we seem to be getting a lot of, strangely enough, is security theatrics. "ASIO investigating more terror threats than ever" is a good example - this headline was floating past in my RSS ticker just as I was writing this comment. (Reading the actual article, the sorts of threats our intelligence agency is investigating aren't "international terrorist conspiracy" types, but more the "right-wing extremist goes from talk to action" type - they're more worried about an Oklahoma City event than a 9/11.)

73:

I rebut your position with three words: Pearl Harbor Day.

74:

Maybe 9/11 ought to be named "Victory for OBL Day".
From where I'm sitting it certainly seems like he really fucked up the USA on all fronts. Thousands of US troops dead, tens of thousands permanently disabled, an estimated $4trillion pissed away into the sand, a ruined economy, and freedoms permanently curtailed.

75:

re: Where was I when 9/11 happened?

I had been laid off due to the dot.bust myself. I didn't have a job, so I went for a walk at a conservation area north of Mississauga-- fairly close to Pearson International Airport, Canada's busiest airport.

It was a nice fall day, and I enjoyed my walk. I got back to the parking lot at about 11.30 and found two $20 bills. This was the largest amount of money I had ever found in my life. "Wow, this is my lucky day!" I said to myself, got in my car, and drove away.

I turned on the radio to catch the noon news. I was very quickly saying "Holy f*cking sh*t!" A hell of a thing.

76:

wow, I remember I was in town and ran into a friend , she said something about a plane crash at the world trade centre,, I went to another friend's house and sat having tea,, then as we watched the telly, another plane hit.
weird feeling of unreality
like watching the latest tom clancy film , and its actually true..

77:

Because we ought to have a game date for the start of Vietnam, except we don't, 'cause it was just an escalation. ... Sometime in 1963 perhaps? I don't know, 3/3?

That war started long before 1963. Take your pick. 1949, 1950, or 1954. The US was deep into the war there and each of these dates is when a major turn occurred in who was fighting who. But the US was funding one side or the other since around 1950.

78:

BBC was the only place we were able to get news about what was happening from, and that's in New Haven, Connecticut only an hour or so away from NYC.

CNN and all the other news sites were down from the traffic, but I was able to get a stream from the BBC that I could project in a large meeting room for people to watch. Since we're close a lot of employees had friends or family in the city and were panicking.

And that's how I remember hearing about it - with a British accent.

79:

The US and UK versions of the National Geographic Channel are owned by different parts of News Corp. And the US version still has a minority stake by the National Geographic Society.

80:

One thing I wonder is how different the past decade would have been without the attacks. Regardless of how you feel about Bush, his Administration was shaping up very different in the 8 months before 9/11 than the direction it took after. Things like education and immigration were his big issues, then suddenly it is the "War on Terror".

No 9/11 probably means no Afghan or Iraq wars. No US deficit spending or much lower deficits due to lower defense spending (not sure what the effect on defense spending was in the UK). Fewer attacks on civil liberties in the name of defending against terrorism.

81:
That war started long before 1963. Take your pick. 1949, 1950, or 1954. The US was deep into the war there and each of these dates is when a major turn occurred in who was fighting who. But the US was funding one side or the other since around 1950.

There seems to be a bit of amnesia in my age group and the cohort immediately preceding it, but the fact is, Vietnam was the (an) old Afghanistan. If you point this out to them, they'll often insist that we weren't really "at war", but Jeebus, Graham Greene was writing about this stuff in the mid-50's, cf "The Quiet American".

82:
No 9/11 probably means no Afghan or Iraq wars. No US deficit spending or much lower deficits due to lower defense spending (not sure what the effect on defense spending was in the UK). Fewer attacks on civil liberties in the name of defending against terrorism.

So are saying that Psychohistory is dead?

83:

I remember getting the message that a plane had hit the twin towers online, and spending the next few hours analysing what was coming in and what it likely meant.

I remember hoping that it was a domestic attack (akin to Oklahoma). It didn't seem likely that it was a foreign source, mainly because of the expected consequences.

If it was domestic the US would turn inward, do some soul searching. Whilst it was possible that the US would do the same soul searching about what they had done if it came from overseas, it didn't seem likely.

I remember thinking the US would collectively go mad.

In the years since that's seemed all too real. I never expected the public to accept the security narrative for so long. I also didn't expect the naked power grab that resulted and travelled round the world.

The significance has gone from the event, into the consequences. It's like Archduke Ferdinand, history remembers less about the man that died than it does what it set off. The attack on the WTCs seems like it will fall into the same category, the punctuation beginning an end of empire event.

The terrorists succeeded much better than I think they could have planned for. History will likely see it as the preeminent judo move, brains and luck over brawn.

84:

I was demonstrating outside an arms fair in Docklands when I heard. Someone set up a radio and speakers, we listened to it for about an hour, and then gave up the demo and went home.

Ten years later I'll be going to the same arms fair (alright, during the week rather than at the weekend).

I intend to spend Sunday knocking around the Thames at a festival with lots of people having fun. Seems like a sensible rebuttal.

85:

Nope. If you want a date for the start of the Vietnam war, you need to do some digging, but it's some time between June and December 1919: you're looking for the date when Woodrow Wilson's guards gave the bum's rush to a young Vietnamese waiter who called himself Nguyễn Ái Quốc, who tried to petition Wilson to recognize Vietnam's claim to independence post-WW1.

(Nguyễn Ái Quốc later changed his name to Ho Chi Minh ...)

86:

Where was I? 75 Wall Street, about 1/2 mile away on foot (shorter as crow flies).

87:

Could we give a rest to the meaningless Fox News corp bashing? Please?

It's not company or viewpoint specific, it is a function of the horrid state of television in the US overall. Tragedy porn, fear mongering and wall to wall crisis coverage is what has driven ALL US news outlets since at least the mid 1990's. Even the real outliers like PBS just do different 'scare' stories; endless alarmist tripe about how your boyfriend is a closet sex offender or how some obscure clothing dye will kill you if you eat 10lbs of it a day.

I don't know that 9/11 actually changed most people in the US that much, but it certainly woke a lot of politicians up to just how much they could get away with if the voters stay scared and in crisis mode.

I'm not into conspiracy theories, but it is hard to miss how much more powerful and invasive the US government has been able to get in the wake of 9/11. I'm continually baffled at why the so called 'right wing' accepted ludicrous infringements on civil liberties under Pres Bush and even more so why the assorted 'leftists' haven't revolted because Pres Obama hasn't done a single thing to roll back the excesses of government power.

88:

It's not company or viewpoint specific, it is a function of the horrid state of television in the US overall.

Dude, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm British.

I'm complaining about the British news wank-fest over 9/11, not to mention the American one. It's a global phenomenon, transnational in scale: the US is just the focus of this particular instance.

As for why we bash on News Corporation, read this time-line, then ask yourself if you're sure the rot is restricted to only the British arm of the multinational in question, when in the US they employ people like Roger Ailes.

89:

Nope. If you want a date for the start of the Vietnam war, you need to do some digging, but it's some time between June and December 1919:

Or we could go back to the 1800s when the French first started "pacifying" the region. My point was that the Viet Nam war didn't start with a troop buildup by the US in the 60s. And in an inverse of the rest of the world it was somewhat put on pause during most of WWII. With a bizarre setup of the local French working with the Japanese to control the area, sort of, somewhat, due to the Axis alliances and the Vichy French government.

But the US didn't get serious about the area (provide the majority of the money) until after WWII. I think.

90:

Well my wife and I were in San Francisco waking up and getting ready to fly to JFK. I was in the shower and was told I needn't rush as it didn't look like we were flying anywhere. We were stuck in SF until stuff flew again (and the hotel only charged 1/2 the normal room rate for the extra days of our stay. The concierge said "we've had a number of last minute cancellations". When you yanks do the right thing you are indeed the best in the World!).
We were supposed to be flying to stay with friends in NYC, Sarah worked for a company who had offices just under the observation deck. It took a while to discover she was on maternity leave and was OK. We tried to change our flights to go straight home but were unable to do so, so spent 4 days or so in Brooklyn Heights from about 8 days after the event.
Our friend had spent most of her time comforting friends who had lost their husbands and wives from her company and said she welcomed the distraction. We wandered along the front looking at all the flowers and cards and "missing" posters. We walked past the now empty fire station. We had a few beers and ate in various cafes, etc. We would regularly be stopped by people she knew asking if she'd heard any news about their loved ones. We hadn't. we hugged. One cafe had, amongst many, a "Missing" poster. "Have you seen this man?" it asked. She quietly whispered to us over a coffee that he was her boss and he was almost certainly in the building and therefore dead.
People heard our accent and enquired if we were English and when we confirmed that we were we would be warmly thanked for our support.
I haven't thought much about this for a while.

91:

It's been my understanding that the 9/11 Commission found that when the Trade Center was built the contractor cheaped out and used standard steel I-beams in the upper floors, rather than more fire resistant steel--rated for burning jet fuel--that the building codes called for. They probably would have collapsed, but it would have taken longer and many more people would have been able to get out. In one sense Al Qaeda got lucky, 30 years earlier.

How would the US be different without 9/11?
Bush may have been a one term president. Though he still may have tried something in Iraq, it's always seemed like he wanted to get Hussein, "After all this is a man who tried to kill my Daddy."
The deficit? The Washington Post recently had an article of the economic history of the Bush era. One thing that stuck out was that he came into office with a 6 Trillion dollar surplus. He thought that was too much. Well, he found a way to piss it away.

92:

You're a wise man Charlie.

93:

I have taken Nassim Taleb's advice on news: Since I stopped reading a paper and watching regular news, my life is much happier. News are full of needless negativity.

94:

I've done the same every year since 2001, and will do so tomorrow.

95:

When you round up everything bad that has happened on Earth in the past day and compress it into half an hour of entertainment to sell advertizing space, what do you expect?

96:

Of course, as the path of a recent hurricane shows, New York City is the center of the universe.

You didn't know that?

At least, it appears to be the center of the universe for people in the Broadcast Media Business.

97:

First time I've heard about it, I thought it was something like the Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" show - something so outrageous that it can't be real. But then everyone was confirming it and I had to realize it is actually real.

Nowadays this kind of disaster, whether caused by someone or natural, will be basis for "tragedy porn". 9/11, presidential plane crash in PL (local significance but it's the same)(including also its share of conspiracy theories), Chernobyl, next year we can expect replays of Fukushima... More death and/or destruction the better :-(

98:

@74
And also US left the bases in Saudi Arabia, which was OBL's main cause... He definitely won the first round and his recent death is, for the likes of him, acceptable cost.

THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. Here, I said it, can we now get over this and start living in the present?

99:

Ahhh, the stroll down 9/11 memory lane.
I had just stepped out of the shower when my girlfriend called for me to come look at the television. Near perfect timing on her part as I got to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center. First words out of my mouth were "Terrorists".

The events that followed were predictable, if not inevitable.

The following should get me banned...
BTW @91: FACT CHECK ALERT

Bush came into office with a 6 trillion dollar surplus??? Fact check? Only in some people's minds does a projected CBO surplus over 10 years equal coming into office with a 6 trillion dollar surplus. Let's flip the coin, and you'll have to pardon me for this Charles, but I'd prefer the stark reality of the situation over living in some self-induced fantasy. So, James, what will be the projected surplus when Obama leaves office, since we are dealing with projections?

100:

Nope, that ain't gonna get you banned.

Alas, Obama appears to have continued many, or even most, of the Bush administration's worst policies.

101:

"at 8:46am EST this Sunday"
at 8:46am EDT, actually...

102:

I'm an American living in Japan, and I can't even avoid it out here - crap, I just want some boob-tube mind-candy in "eigo" (Stephen Hawking robo-blathering about the 'universe' or something, shit, anything other than the above aptly-described 9/11 porn), and the History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic out here are all showing, well, 'something' about 9/11 (from re-caps of events of the terrible day itself, or, if that's just too depressing, digital recreations and such of the operation to snuff UBL in Pakistan - whoo-hoo, revenge-porn!).

A minute of silence all around would be nice. But I doubt we'll get such sensibility. Either from the jihadis, or the western fear-mongers, or all the other ax-grinders who see 9/11 as a chance to beat the tom-toms of, well, whatever crappy cause they're eager to push on the backs of the dead.

103:

Any possibility of Food Channel or HGTV in Japan? They're playing their usual stuff, it seems.

104:

re: Obama administration. Yes, they did. While I'm not going to even attempt to excuse them, I thought it was predictable, simply because Congress back under Bush didn't bother to assert its prerogatives and rein Bush in (yes, I'm thinking of Pelosi too). That gave full license to whoever succeeded him, whether it was Obama or Clinton.

To give Obama some minimal credit (full disclosure, I did vote for him), he seems to be trying to get Congress to actually do its job and legislate. While I agree that this is totally political, I will give him a little credit for not trying to be an imperial president, no matter how many people are begging for that boot on their necks again.

That doesn't excuse his handling of the ongoing wars, nor the way his people bailed out Wall Street at the expense of the rest of the country, nor the series of boondoggles the interior department's attempting to call green energy, nor his relationship with labor and minorities. But he's not all bad.

105:

I think it's fair to say that the worst-case outcome of the last US presidential election is vastly worse than what we've ended up with.

(Worst case scenario: consider what might have happened had John McCain won, the pressure of office wrecked his health, and Sarah Palin ended up in the White House in 2010. This is a woman who was apparently out of her depth as chief executive of an administrative district of 600,000 people. The prospect of her being responsible for something 500 times larger, in the middle of two wars and a global economic recession threatening to turn into Depression 2.0, causes my mind to boggle: at best she'd be a front for a committee, at worst she'd make George W. Bush look like John F. Kennedy.)

106:

JJ @41: September 11th is also the Rastafarian New Year (I publish diaries and calenders, so I know about dates). I remember in the immediate aftermath - as early as the next day - somebody was circulating what looked like very convincing circumstantial evidence that Rastafarians were responsible.
That didn't last long, but it was only three or four days before somebody - and I mean one particular anonymous blogger, who called himself Snake Plissken - had started speculating that it was an inside job and a gubmint conspiracy. he was the very first 'Truther' and his ideas were so detailed and thoroughly researched that I seriously wondered if he was some sort of plant. Anybody know anything about him?

107:
I think it's fair to say that the worst-case outcome of the last US presidential election is vastly worse than what we've ended up with.
(Worst case scenario: consider what might have happened had John McCain won, the pressure of office wrecked his health, and Sarah Palin ended up in the White House in 2010.

I didn't vote for Obama. But this worst case scenario is exactly why I voted against McCain.[1] I suspect this surprise selection for a running mate compelled a significant fraction of people to either vote the way they did or at the least sit this one out.

[1] There's a set of conspiracy theories that say this is the reason why the current crop of Republican hopefuls are so horrible. My thought is that while these types of theories are cynical . . . they aren't cynical enough to be true.

108:

I call Obama "Bush Lite" or when I'm in a really foul mood over something he's done, "The Capitulator."

I should also note that Obama is a big fan of special-interest groups. In particular, he is very reluctant to hurt the feelings of "Corporation-Americans."

109:


17 Sept 2001

You poor naive fool.
You *really* think they were 'firemen'?
They were undoubtedly CIA/NWO/Mossad agents placed there for just that purpose.
That 'small gas lighter' was, in fact, a flamethrower for use in case the jet fuel did not catch on fire as planned.
I expect that, had the camera continued shooting for some time, you would have seen them move towards the building.
What more proof do you want?
...
I'm afraid your claim merely confirms what many already suspect - that you are a CIA/NWO/Illuminati disinformation plant to divert us from the real
TRUTH.
I further suspect that those guys fiddling about in the street were actually cutting the water supply to the sprinkler system.
It's all so obvious in hindsight.
...
Unless you want more of my analysis, showing exactly why Bush is one of the living dead, having been possessed by the demon released from the Pentagon
(Pentacle... it all makes sense...) by the crash. I suggest that you don't post this shit into alt.religion.asatru
_____

Something I posted at the time to some ludicrous claims. Little did I know that my parody of a conspiracy nut was nowhere near ludicrous enough.

110:

I was 10 at the time. My recollection of the day is not good enough to determine whether I came home from school before the 2nd plane hit the towers or if that was simply a replay, I don't recall seeing the collapse live either.

I do remember finding it all rather interesting and exciting (now for breaking news events I devour information and work at riding the ragged bleeding edge) I don't at all remember seeing the jumpers, I do remember (and still own the book) making a note in a DK book 'Incredible Comparisons' about how the towers had collapsed.

My comprehension of the events wasn't complete for several years. I'd flown for the first time in 1999 and got to visit the cockpit and I understood why no-one could do this the next time I flew in 2003, I thought this was a shame for all the kids.

It's only the previous three or four years that I've learnt about and wondered why that attack in particular had such a dramatic influence on security. After all planes had been hi-jacked before, and terrorists had killed people before.

I've grown up in the post 9/11 world, and it makes me pretty sad that despite the improvements in so many other ways my world is a little bit more fearful and has more excuses to ignore your liberties and freedom than what came before.

111:

Actually, I think The Onion called it right..

Personally, I have a couple of theories. One is that most sane people would hate to replace Obama, and given that you'd probably have to raise about a billion dollars to do so, why bother? They're sitting this one out until the fund raising requirements come down a ways.

The other is that most of the qualified Republican leadership talent is actually moderate, and they just don't want to deal with the Tea Party (and more importantly, the Tea Party's backers). Hence they're sitting it out right now.

Or it could be both. The US Presidency 2012-2016 is going to be a sucktastic job whoever is doing it, and if you're a charismatic republican, you can make at least three times as much shooting your mouth off as a pundit as you would in the White House. Or collecting payoffs as the member of various corporate boards.

112:

I've been fired by my former girlfriend on september 11th... It's the only thing I remember this day. Obviously I won't commemorate it.
But now I'm married and happy and ... pffft... why should I care ?
Did anything else happen that day ?

113:

Stalin said One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. As he was killing a lot of people in the USSR. Nothing about poor or rich or east or west.
We were in Nam kissing up to the French rich who wanted us to save their property. And the fact is we won every battle. We did not win the war. If we had got those Brit ships out of their harbors and acted like it was WW-2 we could have won. But there would not have been a stone on a stone in the North. We did not want to win that bad. Looking at what happened in the post-war South that may not have been the most moral.

114:

Okay, so I missed the word 'projected' in the article I linked to. So what? Bush did a good job making sure that it didn't materialize.

So, James, what will be the projected surplus when Obama leaves office, since we are dealing with projections?

With Obama saddled with an obstructionist opposition, more focussed on making him look bad, in congress, not much.

I got to see the second plane hit the World Trade Center. First words out of my mouth were "Terrorists".

This takes a genius?

115:

US took over in Vietnam from the French when they were defeated. Until then, it was a French thing. (UK played a minor role in laying the ground for the North-South split because the UK accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces in southern Vietnam and used them to attack pro-independence Vietnamese, but in northern Vietnam, the Republic of China (Chiang Kai-shek's government) accepted the surrender but were so busy with the start of the civil war in China with the communists (the folks who run China now), that the pro-independence Vietnamese pretty much did it for them and got their initial weaponry that way. They took control of the north and the French had to re-invade the place. The North-South split did go much deeper into Vietnamese history than that though.)
US involvement really gets rolling through the 50s, but until the 60s, it was just another country the US sent money to for their local allies to kill communists. Around 1964-1965 was when US involvement went beyond, let's say current US involvement in Colombia.

116:

I keep remembering little things I haven't thought of in a while.
I live a few blocks from the Intenational Association of Fire Fighters Memorial. On September 15, 2001, thay had their annual ceremony to add names. That year they were dedicating a new section, knowing that they would be adding nearly 350 names the next year.

This years ceremony is next weekend. Every year I hear the sound of around 100 bagpipers in my backyard.

117:

Yes, Sarah Palin could have been unimaginably horrible.
But as an American, I am not sure she could have topped the damage that Obama has done.
Only a Republican (Richard Nixon) could go to China (hard to believe now isn't it). Obama continuing Bush's wars and adding more, continuing the use of torture and keeping Guantanamo open, keeping financial sector plunderers in charge of economic policy, and putting Social Security up for grabs with the Cat Food Commission has destroyed the possibility of positive change coming out of the Democratic party. Sarah Palin could not have accomplished all that. And Palin would have galvanized opposition, but Obama has confused and betrayed those who would have opposed Palin.
Certainly, for the forces of war and kleptocracy, Obama has been far more effective than Palin or Perry could be.
And think about what it would have meant for Europe if Obama had nationalized the US banks, cleaned them up, then sold them off (like Sweden in the early 90s). Wouldn't that have helped push European politics in a more constructive direction? It is not Sarah Palin's fault that Obama didn't do that. (Of course, to be clear, McCain or Palin would have been exactly as bad as Obama on this.)

118:

I'm traveling in the US this week and it's unreal. Almost all the businesses that have those electronic signs that usually display the time and temp are displaying things like "remember 9-11-01" and whatnot. On the hotel tv we have about 50% of the non sports channels doing 9/11 coverage this evening. The radio was the same while driving, constant talk about 9-11.

Being a bit of a smart-ass I feel like asking people if they remember why December the 7th or October 23rd are important, and that like most things 9-11 will eventually pass into the mists of time. But I don't want to get punched in the mouth so I think I will refrain.

119:

Ken @11: The whole book is well worth reading. (I just finished it the other day, Dorfman is looking at me, fist brandished, from next to the keyboard). Mostly for non-September-11th-related reasons, but still.

120:

On the NBC show "Today," I saw a segment with a batch of kids who were born on that date. They'd been taught to sing a song on how wonderful people were and were touring fire stations and such. I sat there raising my eyebrows.

NBC is going to have the silence minute, and there's six hours of stuff tomorrow morning (starting at 6am, so people will have to be really interested).

I don't plan to watch it much. I understand what happened was really bad (although everything seems to be about the World Trade Center without the Pentagon and Shanksville), but we've had much worse loss of life at other times. What's dragging this on is the hatred that's been encouraged all this time at Muslims.

121:

Hmmm, December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day, of course, but the only October 23rds I know are probably not of what you're thinking: Women's Suffrage March in NYC (I have a copy of the jewelry-type pin made for the women put in jail), and Watergate.

122:
Yes, Sarah Palin could have been unimaginably horrible. But as an American, I am not sure she could have topped the damage that Obama has done.

I think of the two allowed alternatives here in the U.S. as being like the difference between a filtered and a non-filtered cigarette: both will kill you dead in the long run, but one will kill you a lot quicker.

With regard to Sarah P, however, I thought of her as being (and maybe this is naive) uniquely bad in that I'm fairly sure not even the coked-up drunken chimps vying for the Republican nomination would seriously consider playing with the nuclear football. With Ms. Palin, she seemed to have that combination of ignorance, cupidity and willful stupidity that would not place that option out of bounds as a matter of course.

123:

I normally get up a lot later than other people, and I turned the TV on for the news, but when I saw a burning tower, I wondered why they had a movie on then. An anchor came on and explained what had happened and I stayed there watching until I had to go to sleep.

(When Challenger went down, I was in a separate part of the office where we didn't get anything from outside of the rooms themselves unless someone walked something over and handed it to the Marines, who checked it before one of them came in while the other kept the door's fancy lock closed. It was when I went back to my office for lunch when I saw the TV was in the conference room (it was on a wheeled thing) and ducked in. That's when the folks who worked in the non-classified area were telling me what had happened and I just sat down and watched for a while. Then I went back to our special rooms and told everybody there. We didn't get much work done after that.)

124:

Palestine was told that their US aid would go away if they tried to join NATO. They're going to do it anyway.

125:

Charlie, I think Palin would have done her best to encourage that outcome. (She struck me as being the kind of person who would 'help' people into resigning or taking medical retirements or other quick exits. And I don't think she'd be above direct action to achieve her goals.)

127:

I think the drunken chimps, as you called them, and more importantly their backers, would have tried to keep Palin within what they would see as the bounds of normalcy (in other words, try to make her act like Bush and Obama).
Whether it would have worked or not is another matter.
Palin is such a loose cannon, she might have been forced out before McCain died. (BTW, McCain actually is still alive, so his election would not have given us a President Palin in his first 2.5 years).
I am simply exhausted of the Democrats using fear of the Republicans to scare us into voting for them even as they turn into Republicans.
It may turn out that I am simply wrong, but it may also be that those of us in the US are catching on quicker to the fact that Obama is not a weak liberal or centrist, but a cunning conservative.

128:

The Towers were too low for parachutes. What I've seen suggested is all some paraphernalia that would slide them down, although, again, that would be near impossible at the top of that height of building. This is one of the dangers of building that high.

129:

My brother has a letter from the doctors about the metal plate in his head. So far, that's worked.

130:

I'm not even bothering to claim that the 'rot' in News Corp is limited to one branch; in fact I'd be shocked if it is. All I am saying is that engaging in that sort of fear-mongering and crisis chasing seems to be the winning business model in the 24/7 news age. Arguably it started with CNN and coverage of Gulf one.

If News Corp is the only 'bad guy' chasing that sort of thing on the British airwaves then you are lucky. I freely admit to not knowing the British TV market that well; aside from catching bits of the BBC from Canadian television I don't go out of my way to watch it.

I don't see the behavior as unusual or unique to any of the news outlets; some just have slightly different political slants at their editorial/directorial level. Some of them are just better at it than others but they ALL promote crisis-mongering. It's a race to see who can chase the latest fad fear and they all feed off each other.

131:

I just looked at the Twix commercials -- This is in a place I know -- and it really does seem to mean Pause. Everybody pushes a Pause symbol ||, eats a Twix, then does something stupid. I don't think it has anything to do with the 9/11 pause.

132:

October 23rd? Maybe the Beirut truck bombing, killing >200 Marines and other personnel. Or perhaps the Moscow Theatre Siege. Probably not the Hungarian Uprising.

133:

When you posted that, it was probably past the event in your time. We've got about nine hours left in the longitude where it happened.

134:

No, it's become so lasting and horrible because too many people in the US started hating Muslims. A number of them hated Muslims more than they had before.

135:

Agree with you about Obummer. The British analogy is roughly what Blair did to the Labour party. Take it over
and do the changes that make the party a pale version of the Conservative party. And since this a British Blog, shouldn't it be 11/9 ?

136:

He seems to have backed off on the things we hired him for.

137:

Parachutes are effective from about 60m upwards

138:

I remember when the names of the dead were read on the anniversary, either the first or the second one. I was at work, and it was on the radio.

And over, and over -- and over again! -- the list of names was talked over by news folks saying that the names were taking so much longer to read aloud than anyone expected.

I didn't want to hear them. I wanted to hear the names. That or two minutes of silence I can handle. The rest I'll skip.

139:

Obama is not a King or a PM. Congress passes bills. The Democrats can not even get bills to the floor to be voted on, let alone pass them. The Republicans are commenting economic treason to sink the country so it will be Right Wing forever. First Bush spent the money, then he borrowed more from China. Then he cut taxes so it can not be paid back. We were getting by before Bush, the more Republican we are the worse things are for most of us. And the paid off power of the media mixes up who did the crime and who is trying to fix it.
http://www.ericalterman.com/ In KABUKI DEMOCRACY: The System vs. Barack Obama bestselling author and Nation columnist Eric Alterman asks why President Obama has been unable to deliver on the promises of his 2008 campaign. He argues that while the Obama presidency has undoubtedly been a disappointment from a progressive point of view, its failures cannot be entirely blamed on his own mistakes, those of his staff or even on Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress. Rather, they are due to a political system that stymies democracy when voters choose progressive change:
“Presidents can pretty easily pass tax cuts for the wealthy and powerful corporations. They can start whatever wars they wish and wiretap whomever they want without warrants. They can order the torture of terrorist suspects, lie about it and see that their intelligence services destroy the evidence. But what they cannot do, even with supermajorities in both houses of Congress behind them, is pass the kind of transformative progressive legislation that Barack Obama promised in his 2008 campaign.”

140:

Re: China vs. United States. Not that we're ever going to find out, but I do wonder if some very cunning financial ministers deliberately arranged the financial entanglement between China and the US as a way of preventing World War 3.

The US owes China so much that we can bankrupt them simply by defaulting, the same way that China can bankrupt us by calling in those T-Bills at an inopportune time. It looks like mutually assured financial destruction, and it may be keeping the peace for another few decades. If both parties are hobbled by their collective debt arrangement, it will be difficult to finance an expensive war on either side.

141:

I respect your decision. I, unfortunately, will be watching part of this out of respect for loved ones lost.

142:

Tody's Doonesbury strip largely agrees with Charlie.

143:

Oh, that reminds me of a book. And unfortunately, it seems like it could be another of those Great Illusions.

144:

My daughter wondered why it wasn't mandatory to have parachutes in the top floors of skyscrapers

You might want to read up on BASE jumping -- the recreational activity of jumping off buildings, cliffs, and similar objects with a parachute. Even among experienced parachutists it's one of the most dangerous sports there is, with roughly one fatality per 60 jumps.

Now try to imagine untrained people who'd never used a parachute before attempting to BASE jump from the top of one of the towers, with the smoke and flames below obscuring the ground (and the various projecting ledges -- almost all skyscrapers narrow towards the top).

I don't think parachutes would have significantly changed the fatal outcome in such a scenario. Which is why skyscrapers don't come with parachutes (or lifeboats, or rope ladders).

145:

With the number of people needing to get out, there would almost certainly have been horrify scenes of people getting entangled with each other and candling to the ground.

146:

Your understanding could be made more complete by looking it up. Fireproofing does seem to have been a problem. "Certified" in connection with steel is an indication of repetition of unchecked material.

147:

If one wished to drop democracy on Afghanistan from 30 000 feet, then starting with a rain of mobile phones might have been a better cheaper way to do it.

You'd want to think about self-organising networks, delivery perhaps by stealth bomber and cluster technology, and about uplinks and downlinks - hard to distinguish from EWACS planes perhaps?

And traffic analysis.

148:

If the towers had lasted longer it wouldn't have made much difference. By the time they collapsed nearly all of the staff below where the planes hit had got out. While nearly everyone above the impacts was dead. In any event the floors on fire where the planes actually hit were impassable and the people above the impact were hopelessly trapped.

149:

Even if 50% of those trapped on the upper flours died while trying to base-jump WTC, it would still have been a much better outcome than what actually happened.

The reason why skyscrapers don't have parachutes is probably because you'll have to store and maintain like 20,000 parachutes on the roof, which would be very expensive, while the chance of them being used would be 0.

150:

How exactly is this plan going to work? What network would an afghan from one village self-organize with an afghan from another village? And how is he even going to know he isn't talking with a taliban impostor?

151:

Also, does he have electricity to charge his mobile phone? Would you air-drop solar-powered chargers as well?

152:

What would have made a difference would have been air traffic control delays, or the hijackers picking different flights, or hitting the towers lower.

Part of the reason the death toll was so low was that the planes hit the WTC towers relatively early. An hour later, there could well have been many more people on the upper floors.

Again, there were roughly five survivors from the levels at and above the impacts. If they'd struck lower, many more people would have been trapped above the burning jet fuel. And with a greater structural weight bearing down on the weakened beams, the towers would have collapsed faster.

This is not to belittle the magnitude of the tragedy, but it could have been significantly worse.

153:

My understanding was based on an episode of Nova on PBS seen several years ago. Perhaps I've misremembered.

154:

The problem of Afghanistan is not one of democracy. First off, if everyone got a free and fair vote the overwhelming majority would use it to support their own tribal leaders. Then we are back to juggling tribal leaders and/or warlords and playing them off against each other. Also, the Taliban is not some kind of invading force - they are Afghans and have very significant support from ordinary people. In fact, they are the only people who have managed to rule Afghanistan in a stable manner.

155:
would have tried to keep Palin within what they would see as the bounds of normalcy (in other words, try to make her act like Bush and Obama). Whether it would have worked or not is another matter. Palin is such a loose cannon, she might have been forced out before McCain died.

I think the bolded part goes to the nub of the matter. While Cheney and Co. may have been paid-up members of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, the Guild does have it's laws and by-laws. As I think her post-election career indicates, Sarah is . . . chaotic. Totally random. Though none of us realized it at the time, Tina Fey's sketch of her was actually on the kind side.

156:

My TV died a day or two ago. I swear I didn't kill it by throwing something at the screen in disgust!
Given the coincidental timing (and how little I use it since I download a handful of favourite shows), I'm seeing it as a blessing.

157:

I believe the reference to the Congo deaths is actually to the Second Congo War and not to Leopold (he was pretty goddamn horrible though). The conflict was in full swing during 9/11 and involved a half-dozen African countries. I've seen estimates as high as 5 million killed; it certainly was the bloodiest war since WWII and most Americans never heard of it.

158:

I've just this minute come across this little item ..

" On 9/11 Kevin Stone, like most Americans, was horrified as he watched the televised coverage of people jumping out of the upper floors of the World Trade Center to the concrete hundreds of feet below. But, Dr. Stone, an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco, remembers thinking, “This is something I ought to be able to solve.”

Now, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Stone thinks he has a product – he calls it Rescue Reel – that would get people safely down from the tops of skyscrapers up to 1,000 feet high. ....
It involves attaching a harness around your body. Attached to the harness is a Kevlar rope that is secured at one end to a radiator or pipe. You then pop out of a window and rappel down the face of the building using a device which controls the rate of descent at 6 feet per second. Think of it as a fishing reel with a human attached. "

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0910/One-man-s-9-11-idea-to-rescue-people-from-high-rise-buildings

Easy peasy eh wot? And he isn't even wearing a Caped Crusader Superhero uniform.

159:

Agreed,

Before it was announced, I was telling people
not to be surprised if the death toll was over 10,000
because on a busy work day as many as 40,000 people
could be in the two buildings. So yes, had the planes struck later and lower, the death toll would have been much higher.

160:

The other thing, Charlie, is that the death toll could have been higher, if it hadn't been for the efforts of the central hospital( pls someone correct me if i am wrong) and medical staff/paramedics that weren't at the scene, but were nearby or on jersey. They, through through their supreme efforts managed to keep the death toll down to the level that it was which was much lower had they not been there.

In addition through their efforts and the bay police/control, were able to ferry people away from the area, who might otherwise have been trapped.

I am aware of something of this because there was, I believe, a recent documentary on UK terrestial TV (channel 4?) (in the run up to the 11th). It was the only one I saw, because I wanted to know what happened outside of the initial disaster area.

It was I have to say quite humbling to watch and listen to. And makes my respect for such people grow.

161:

US took over in Vietnam from the French when they were defeated. Until then, it was a French thing.

Re: Viet Nam

With the US providing over 80% of the funding for the French, just how was it a French thing?

162:

BTW, McCain actually is still alive, so his election would not have given us a President Palin in his first 2.5 years

I've seen recent articles which suggest that the body of a US president ages about twice the rate of plain citizens. If you look at pictures of most all of them for the last 50 years it sure looks to be true. Reagan was somewhat of an exception but he started out closer than most to the end of his life span.

163:

contractor cheaped out and used standard steel I-beams in the upper floors, rather than more fire resistant steel--rated for burning jet fuel--that the building codes called for.

Without spending obscene amounts of money construction steel is mostly fire rated by the coatings applied. All steel will melt in a jet fuel fire or other high heat fire so the trick is to coat it with an insulation to keep the heat away long enough for the fire to burn itself out or be put out. When the planes hit the WTC towers the impact blew off most of the insulation on the floors impacted. So no matter what steel used the towers were coming down. The architect/designer or chief engineer (I forget which) when interviewed said as soon as he saw what was happening he tried to get to someone in authority and tell them the towers were going to fall and rescue needed to be turned into an evacuation ASAP. But he didn't get through to anyone before they first one fell.

The WTC was designed to handle the impact from a 707. Maybe they should have doubled all the bad elements in their design estimates. But even with that they were just not thinking of a fully fuel loaded plane aiming for a tower. They assumed any such incident would be an accident at the end of a flight.

Most people don't realize that the space shuttle tiles don't STOP the heat. They just slow it down a lot. That monster trailer rig you never really see in the news that pulls up very soon after the shuttles would stop on the runway was a very big refrigerator that plugged into the shuttle and started pumping coolant throughout the shell. If a shuttle had ever landed anywhere other than the cape or Edwards it would have become a toxic melted pile of explosive junk in very short order.

165:

I used to work in NYC. On 11 Sept 2011, I was on a Metro North (commuter railway) train that was crossing a bridge between the Bronx and Manhattan.

The conductor announced a plane had hit the WTC. OK; this is not unheard of: people occasionally fly into buildings by accident: it happened to the Empire State Building about 65 years earlier. A few minutes later he announced a second plane had hit the WTC.

I did not work near the WTC -- I worked about a block from Grand Central Terminal. We heard the announcements, and somebody found a working TV in the office. A while later, we saw the crowds running, still running, from what was now Ground Zero, and my office was about 2 miles from the WTC.

Our HR manager's husband was a fire captain on scene. One of our employes had just left for a job at the WTC. One of my coworker's friend was missing, and never found. My cousin's husband worked at the World Financial Center; he saw people jumping from the WTC towers to their deaths. He didn't lose any friends, but a lot of his business acquaintances died. New York is a big city, but all New Yorkers knew somebody who lost a friend, a relative, an acquaintance in the terror attack. For weeks after, I saw Connecticut police and firefighters riding on the commuter trains to attend firefighter and police funerals in New York.

Since I worked in NYC, the attacks there had more impact on me than the attack on the Pentagon or United Flight 93.

A few weeks later, my employer moved their offices to 49th and Park (it had been planned for months). A few days later, somebody called in a bomb threat to the building. When they evacuated the building, I was looking for heavy things to stand behind. I figured that the *real* bomb would be at street level, to kill all the people who had just left the building.

166:

First: see my comment @153.

Second: About your Space Shuttle assertion. Sources please.

The Recovery Convoy Overview section of the
Space Shuttle News Reference Manual does mention vehicles for cooling, but for dispersing hazardous fumes and purging remaining fuels and coolants.

I've held a piece of Shuttle tile, heated by a blowtorch (admittedly as a 14 year old at Space Camp in the mid 80s, but still). The purpose of the tiles was to disperse whatever heat they absorbed slowly, over hours to days. Your assertion implies that they would give up their heat quickly enough to melt the airframe. What are you basing that on?

167:

It's been twenty years but OK I'll go digging.

But the tile you held. I'm betting you held the side away from where it was heated.

So I google "shuttle landing cooling"

First result gives this:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090121154613AAqIkvc
"Right after landing, it is important to connect external coolant lines to the aft of the Shuttle as soon as possible, before this reserve of cold coolant runs out. If NASA would not do this, the Shuttle would overheat after landing and electronics could get destroyed before they are turned off safely. "

Second result:
http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/technology/sts-newsref/stsover-landing.html
" Coolant Umbilical Access. This apparatus is a stair and platform unit mounted on a truck bed which permits access to the aft port side of the orbiter where ground support crews attach coolant lines from the Orbiter Coolant Transporter.
Orbiter Coolant Transporters. This unit is a tractor-trailer carrying a refrigeration unit that provides Freon ll4 through the orbiter's T-O umbilical into its cooling system."

You can check out the rest.

These articles talk about damaging the electronics. Yes that's true. But folks who worked at Rockwell when the shuttles were being designed said that it would not take long until you'd get into a tear down mode so you could re-test the structure or just scrap it. And since much of the internal structure was aluminum it could start to melt after a while as the tiles gave up their heat to the shuttle in addition to the surrounding air. Air is NOT a good conductor of heat. Hence the cooling hookup ASAP after landing.

168:

Of course, the purpose of the tiles was to keep the Shuttle from burning up. Once it was on the ground, however...

169:

Hmmm.

A good day to sell bad news.

I'm afraid I can only see this as a spectacularly successful strike by the hawks against the doves. Jihadist hawks opened the door; their soul-mates in the Western governments grabbed the opportunity. The doves had no effective response.

170:

Sorry to be pedantic, but you said
it would have become a toxic melted pile of explosive junk in very short order.

Neither of your links actually support that, and the second is the same that I linked to. I suggest you go back to your first one and read the rest of the "Best Answer" you quote. The first few paragraphs support what I said. Having damaged electronics is a far cry from a molten mess on the runway.

I suspect the Rockwell engineer's statement doesn't mean what you think, but it's unsupported so can't tell.
From the Wikipedia article on Aluminum:
Melting point 933.47 K, 660.32 °C, 1220.58 °F
Reentry temps get up to 3000°F (according to the NASA link), but the tiles were effective at keeping that heat from reaching the structure underneath. Otherwise it wouldn't survive to landing.

And, as far as I can recall I could touch any side of that tile, we had to wait a minute after it was heated, but when we did it was only a little warm.

171:

Sorry, one last thing, just remembered.

I believe that Tear Down Mode is engineer speak for "Take it apart and look for damage." not "It's gonna fall apart."

172:

"Reentry temps get up to 3000°F (according to the NASA link), but the tiles were effective at keeping that heat from reaching the structure underneath. Otherwise it wouldn't survive to landing."

Maybe I'm all wet. But I'm working from my old and not PHD understanding of thermodynamics.

The tiles absorb heat. Slowly. It has to dissipate if the surrounding environment has less heat content than the tiles. With a torch on a tile it absorbs some heat at the point of the flame but not all that much. So the little heat absorbs diffuses throughout the tile sample. And during a landing the shuttle absorbs a LOT of heat. And I have a hard time accepting that after landing the air absorbs the heat faster than the shuttle airframe itself.

And for most metals you don't have to actually melt it for it to loose most of it's structural integrity when heated.

And the NASA article doesn't really say what happens if it overheats. Just the answers.yahoo.com. which says electronics will get wreaked if you don't get the cooling hooked up quickly.

So you are correct, I do not have signed statements by engineers who say it will wreak a shuttle if you don't get the cooling attached. But I have read articles stating such by folks working at Rockwell during the design and build and who had worked for years in the space industry. But as I said that was 20 or more years ago. So you can ignore me if you want. This is not a hill I care to die on.

173:

Ref #167, 168 and 170..172

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_shuttle_thermal_protection_system - More than you probably wanted to know about the subject. ;-) Anyway, it sort of confirms my memory that the issue post-landing is that residual specific heat capacity in the insulation tends to conduct into the structure, rather than convect or radiate into the environment.

174:

The tiles absorb heat. Slowly. It has to dissipate if the surrounding environment has less heat content than the tiles

Most of that heat has already dissipated before the Shuttle completes the landing process. The Shuttle is glowing red hot on re-entry — that's when the tiles are resisting the heat — but it then flies for some minutes through cold atmosphere before touching down on the runway. So, by the time it has landed, most heat on the surface has already been blasted off by the effect of blowing high speed cold air over it. That this works can be seen by the fact that the Shuttle is very much not glowing any more.

After stopping, the remaining heat actually absorbed into the cores of the tiles will dissipate both outwards and inwards, but those tiles have a very low heat capacity. It's a slow dissipation, and if it touches aluminium, that heat will be conducted away far faster than it can actually heat the material.

175:

I agreed with your thoughts till I read what I read. But as I said I can't source it anymore so we'll disagree.

And since this was 20 years ago. Or more. I'll admit to a possible memory malfunction.

176:

This is not a hill I care to die on.

Agreed.

Obviously, I'm no engineer. I was just a teenage+/- aerospace junky in the early Shuttle era, and all my old books have been packed away for a while. So...I know a little about the Shuttle, and not much about skyscraper construction.

My comment @171 was posted before I re-read yours, which I normally would have done. If I had I wouldn't have bothered with that reply.

One last thought, though; if the heat did conduct into the airframe enough to soften it, before touchdown, you might have baked astronauts?

177:

"I think the drunken chimps, as you called them, and more importantly their backers, would have tried to keep Palin within what they would see as the bounds of normalcy (in other words, try to make her act like Bush and Obama).
Whether it would have worked or not is another matter."

After watching what the 'wise elders' around Bush did, I've lost any faith that the incompetency of an executive can be made up for by good staff.

178:

Knowing that the wise elders around Bush started out as the young turks under Nixon/Ford makes it a lot easier to understand (if not to forgive) what was going on in the White House circa 2000-2008. Imagine Rumsfeld, for example, as a very young and junior SecDef in the 1970s trying to clean up the DoD after Vietnam: he must have come away from that with the absolute conviction that he could have done much better than MacNamara and his heirs, and with the coming of the Bush/Cheney administration he got his chance to prove it.

(Unfortunately what he ended up proving was that he could make the same mistakes a whole lot faster and more efficiently, not that he could avoid making those mistakes in the first place.)

179:

That presumes they didn't get exactly what they wanted -- I think they did: massive, expensive military spending, unchecked control over the military, and the destruction of the middle class.

Snippy was exactly what the Republicans wanted. And even with polls showing the public hated him, the GOP wants more of the same.

People are unbelievably stupid.

180:

One last thought, though; if the heat did conduct into the airframe enough to soften it, before touchdown, you might have baked astronauts?

As you mentioned, heat transferred through the tiles very slowly. Their design was based on how long will our longest re-entry take. Then how long will it take us to connect the cooling and get going assuming a few small foul ups along the way. Then design for that tile thickness plus a little more for the error margins.

So yes, the tiles do get hot on the outside during re-entry but the plan is to get the cooling system up and going on the ground before too much heat is transferred to the airframe.

One last comment. I bet they took the heated tile from you because I bet if you held it too long you might start getting a slow burn.

181:

Rumsfeld was a cost cutter. He was headed for some massive battles with the Joint Chiefs and Congress till 9/11. Then cost cutting went out the window. In many ways he was exactly the guy to have there in a time of no conflict if you wanted to shrink the US DofD and one of the worst possible choices during conflicts.

I got totally PO'd at the Bush admin when I learn that Rumsfeld's plan for the Iraq war was to win it in a week or so then just leave after 30 days and let a democracy bloom. That way it wouldn't cost all that much, Saddam would be gone, and Iraq would be run by a modern Iraq equivalent of George W.

Yeah, right.

182:

It doesn't matter how vile the incumbent dictator's regime; nobody likes being invaded or having an invader's occupation troops on their streets. Welcoming invaders with flowers only happens when the invaders are allies who happen to be kicking out another bunch of invaders -- and even then, only if they're notably less brutal.

Germany, WW2? It took multiple millions of occupation troops a few years to nail it down. Japan, WW2? It took the even worse threat of a Soviet invasion and/or atom bombs, combined with the Emperor's decree of surrender, to make them accept it.

I am not sure what colour the sky is on the Planet Rumsfeld, but I'm pretty sure only someone from a country that hasn't felt the tread of foreign boots on its soil for over a century could have made such a disastrous misjudgement.

183:

I didn't say I agreed with him. Not in the least. When I heard that is when I got real sour on the Bush admin. I was not happy before but that plan was pure fantasy.

One refrain that occurred over hear for a long time was why didn't we just leave like we did in WWII. This would get their nose way out of joint if anyone pointed out to them that Germany wasn't allowed to be self governing until 4 years after the war. And in many ways was occupied for a much longer period of time. With an invite of course. :)

184:

To add to the verbiage about the Shuttle tiles: in addition to being quite poor conductors of heat, they also had quite low heat capacity.

To demonstrate heat capacity, get at least three thermometers, a cheap styrofoam cooler, a balance, a stove, a large pot, and two aluminum water bottles, and two corks, and a large pair of tongs.

1: Drill a hole in each cork to fit the thermometer. Fill the one water bottle with water; fill the second with an equal mass of sand.

2: Bring the pot of water to the boil. Place both water bottles into the pot of water, each submerged to the same level. Periodically check the temperature of each until they're at about the temperature of the boiling water.

3: Fill the cooler with cold water. Take its temperature, and write it down.

4: Drop the water-filled water bottle into the cooler, but the cooler's lid in place, and monitor the temperature of the water in the cooler. Record the peak that's reached.

5: Repeat 3 & 4 with the sand-filled bottle.

There will be a significant difference in final temperature.

Do remember that before the Shuttle landed, it was in a situation where cold air was blowing over those hot tiles, somewhat akin to holding them in front of a fan. Below about M=2 (to give an exact number, I'd need to have the detailed flow over the entire aircraft, and the local tile temperature), most of the surface of the Shuttle will be cooled by the ambient air rushing by.

As an analogy, think of a baked Alaska desert: the meringue is an effective insulator, so its outer surface becomes nice and crispy in the oven before the ice cream center gets hot enough to melt.

185:

The place I used to work at made carbon/ carbon furnace insulation. It was used in the high temp (up to 2,400C) furnaces as well. One time they were in such a hurry to get a load out of the furnace so it could be machined they skipped an hour or two cooling, and then left the base of the furnace open.

A few hours later the CO alarms in the furnace pit went off - there was enough residual heat in the highly porous 99.95% carbon insulation that it started smouldering when oxygen got in.

186:

Where the USA should have just smashed the govt and left was Afghanistan. The years of occupation have made the situation with respect to Pakistan far worse. Additionally, when Western forces do leave it will be back to business as usual for the Afghans - like nothing had happened. Apart from the dead bodies.

187:

That question wasn't meant to be taken seriously, just a silly thought that ocurred to me.

They took the tile away because I was just one kid in a group and it was being passed around. If it got hotter, or not, I couldn't say. Nothing I've seen suggests that they get hotter.
If I wrong, at least, I'll have learned something.

Guthrie @185, the tiles I'm talking about are made of silica, with the consistency of styrofoam. The gray panels on the leading edges of the wings and nose are reinforced carbon-carbon. How they behave, I can't say, and the Wikipedia article linked to above @173 doesn't say.

188:

i think the Iraq business was supposed to go the same way as post war Germany.
the people have been in a state of war for 15years.
countries infrastructure comprehensively smashed
US turns up , turfs previous regime out- who by now have obviously been blamed for the hardships.
hearts and flowers all round , go home for parades medals and cheap oil provided by a grateful client state.

didnt quite work out

189:

Actually, Dirk, we did exactly that in Afghanistan the first time in 1991. Go see or read Charlie Wilson's War, if you don't remember. Considering that Afghanistan was a fairly progressive country in the 1970s before the Soviets invaded, it's a chilling example of how bad things can get after war.

9/11 was directly the result of the US walking away from Afghanistan in 1990. Given how central Afghanistan is becoming to the opium trade, I'm not sure that walking away from it a second time is any brighter. At best, we're going to get many more highly militarized drug gangs out in the world (as with the Mexican zetas). The worst will be some group that successfully replaces Al Qaeda, with all that implies.

190:

Well, there's a simple solution to the problem of "highly militarized drug gangs" - just legalize it all and sell it through the local pharmacy with added sales tax. Unemployed gangstas all round, half of all crime eliminated, most of the prison population gone, and tens of billions of dollars a year saved.

191:

Way off topic but is there an easy way to get to the bottom of the comments here with an iPad? Way too much flip finger scrolling.

192:

No - you are being punished for feeding the Evil Empire

193:

ObOnThatDay: Rode into the office, and got down to work on Making Linux Great. Heard about the attacks. Since it was on the opposite side of the country, I went back to work, with occasional breaks to commiserate with kith and kin. I knew it was horrible, and I knew tragic and stupid things would come of it. Nothing I knew of could help avert that, and all the sorrow I could muster couldn't help a thing.
So I buckled down at my job, working to make free and open-source software as useful, reliable and available to as many people as I could.
It wasn't much, but I'd like to think that the work of the OSDL built the foundation for the social-collaboration tools that helped the Arab Spring.

ObTenYearsOn: Walked the dog, visited the local coffee shop to read the NY Times over a coffee, (mostly) avoiding the 9/11 coverage. Helped my wife run a booth at a sustainable-living fair, then helped her and a friend drink beer and talk animals (pets and meat) at a very eclectic brewfest.
Not many people about, not sure if it was the anniversary, or the 35C heat.

Speaking as a heartless bastard American who loves his nation, I'd like to say:
Around 5000 Americans died in terror attacks in September, 2001. Around 5000 Americans also died in auto accidents in September, 2001. Around 7500 American soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan so far. Every one of those deaths were horrible, tragic and at least partially avoidable.
I would like to sincerely express the hope that, on this 10-year anniversary, we, as a culture, can finally move on.

194:

Nope. As with the Zetas, if you make drug-running less profitable in any way (either by interdicting cross-border shipments, or by making it legal), they will simply turn to kidnapping, prostitution, and extortion.

Even back with Prohibition, the Mob didn't disappear when alcohol became legal again. They just moved on to other illegal enterprises.

Unfortunately, drug legalization isn't going to help. Giving afghanis some way to live without violence or drugs will at least cut down the number of them that have to turn to crime. That's the best-case option. If it all falls apart, we get a region that's a cross between Somalia and Colombia sitting in between two highly unstable wannabe nuclear powers (Iran and Pakistan). Lovely.


195:

Ah, then the people who jumped might have lived, if the parachutes hadn't burned and/or tangled.

196:

Afghan currently has 40 phones per 100, which is pretty good, considering their history.

197:

I had friends in the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon and none of them were at their office when the planes hit. I remember all the emails with Kevin Maroney posting them online so we could be sure who made it or not. In general, my friends were late, somewhere else, or taking their kids to the first day of school.

198:

I read that bit and it says, like so many people and books, "most horrific terrorist attack in United States history," but we killed about 75,000 people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima on the first day and about 100,000 died over the next few months. It's sad that so many people died here when the planes came in, but we have been a much worse terrorist.


199:

Oh, Rumsfield is still a cost cutter. He just unsubscribed from NYT because he didn't like what Krugman had written. But how do I know that? He tweeted it.

200:

David L: hit the "Leave a comment" link and the iPad will take you to the comment entry form ... which is right at the bottom.

(I need to look into updating the page template to include a suitable anchor and a "go to bottom" button.)

201:

Aha. Thanks.

202:

"As with the Zetas, if you make drug-running less profitable in any way (either by interdicting cross-border shipments, or by making it legal), they will simply turn to kidnapping, prostitution, and extortion. "

As if those are unoccupied niches.
Plus, they are nowhere near as profitable as selling drugs and so they could not support such large criminal armies. BTW, legalize prostitution as well and close down one more criminal niche.

203:
(I need to look into updating the page template to include a suitable anchor and a "go to bottom" button.)

Off-Topic: Charlie, how much of your site is tinkering by hand, how much of it is using something like Adobe Dreamweaver, and how much was just a straight template with the appropriate buttons and boxes checked off?

I'd like to think that at the margins, hand-coding is still the way to go (at least, if you have some background as a professional tinkerer), but I could be way wrong. I had to help my wife last semester[1] when she had to create a web site from scratch the old-fashioned way with tags edited in something like Notepad or something equally stupid. Then she had to do another one with an editor like Netscape Composer Dreamweaver. The improvements were decidedly less than spectacular (which was the point of the assignment, I suspect.)

So given per my quote that you are a tinkerer, does John Henry still beat the steam engine, at least for smaller projects?

This is decidedly off-topic, so I understand if you don't bother to reply. I'm just wondering what I'll have to do this semester on the IT side for Barb.


[1]She's already got a Master's in child development and works in the Children's section as a fairly high-level employee at our local library. But if she wants to advance any further (read: make more money), she has to - you guessed it - get credentialed up with an MS in library science :-( So she has to jump through hoops like this nonsense to show she's a thoroughly hip, modern gal comfortable and fluent in the latest technologies . . . never mind the fact that she will never, ever actually do any site design herself, or that our library actually contracts out to a local firm for that sort of thing.

204:

Oh, an interesting spam variant there - using www.google.coN as the link target.

Oh, it's now dead?

205:

Charlie: "Germany, WW2? It took multiple millions of occupation troops a few years to nail it down. Japan, WW2? It took the even worse threat of a Soviet invasion and/or atom bombs, combined with the Emperor's decree of surrender, to make them accept it."

Incorrect (in the West, at least; the Soviets had uprisings for years).

US/UK/France put a few million troops into the area, with a few years of preparation (like identifying pre-Nazi leaders and politicians), and had 0 deaths due to guerrilla fighting. Of course, the fact that Germany had had 7 million men killed (and an equal number crippled?) helped immmensly.

206:

"One refrain that occurred over hear for a long time was why didn't we just leave like we did in WWII. This would get their nose way out of joint if anyone pointed out to them that Germany wasn't allowed to be self governing until 4 years after the war. And in many ways was occupied for a much longer period of time. With an invite of course. :) "

And the reason for *that* was because of the aftermath of WWI; this time the Allies wanted to make sure that it'd be done right. I've seen a quote by some US general that he didn't want his grandson to fight through Germany like he and his son did.

207:

"Off-Topic: Charlie, how much of your site is tinkering by hand, how much of it is using something like Adobe Dreamweaver, and how much was just a straight template with the appropriate buttons and boxes checked off?"

Oh, he does it all in MS Website Studio, or Dreamweaver, or sometimes just by saving his Word document in HTML :)

208:

Off-Topic: Charlie, how much of your site is tinkering by hand, how much of it is using something like Adobe Dreamweaver, and how much was just a straight template with the appropriate buttons and boxes checked off?

Wash your mouth out with soap!

The hand-coded bits are mostly done by me using vim on Linux. (Hint: I've been hand-coding HTML since 1993.) The blog runs on Movable Type Pro with MySQL as a back end; templating mostly by Feorag but I do chunks of maintenance on it from time to time and keep the perl installation ticking over.

There is zero Microsoft or Adobe input whatsoever (with the exception of F's use of Photoshop on some of the graphical furniture).

And as for the blog entries, they're hand coded in HTML entities (with the CMS adding in paragraph tags and header/footer furniture.)

209:

I've been taking care of family - son in surgery; so, I am late to the discussion. I, too, will not watch this circus. On Sunday last, I was in the middle of a Harry Potter re-read, finishing Goblet of Fire and on to Order of the Phoenix. Might as well look at good and evil through fantasy.

210:

I would have guessed you did it all with a touch tone telephone, using skills learned at Tarnover...

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 9, 2011 1:03 PM.

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