Posts from March 2002

Punch… line: The Observer finds

Punch… line
: The Observer finds the, ahem, humor in 9.11.

And they just don’t stop; the laughs keep coming:

Tony Blair publicly drains every drop of blood from his wife to help the injured of New York.

Taking his time, George W. Bush formulates a measured response – which turns out to be the most expensive bollocking ever unleashed against shepherds.

Figures show that even as the second tower fell, people were switching off their televisions, complaining they’d seen it all before.

If it were amusing, it would be offensive. Instead, it is just incredibly stupid.

Oh, those clever Brits. I just wish we were so damned witty.

Where is the outrage?
: Where is the Arab outrage at this abhorrent story: Fifteen girls were killed in a school fire in Saudi Arabia because the country’s religious police — the ludicrously yet frighteningly named Commision for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice — allegedly prevented the girls from leaving the building without their head coverings. And they were trampled to death.

If this happened in America or most any country I’d call civilized, there would be deafening outrage. But I looked at every Arab source I can find online, and I could find no outrage. I could barely find any coverage.

In a story in Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, they treated this as a scandal about building codes and only toward the end mentioned as obliquely as possible the true scandal:

The press pointed fingers of accusation at the Commission for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice on grounds that they obstructed rescue operations….

The press also charged that officials from the commission prevented Civil Defense men and other male volunteers from entering the school to rescue the girls for fear of

Fame: A very neat tipping-point

Fame
: A very neat tipping-point observation from Nick Denton today:

Ken Layne and Matt Welch came yesterday to talk with the class I’m teaching at Berkeley journalism school. There, at the back of the room, the groupies, who had heard somehow that these two rock stars of the blog world were in town, and had snuck in to see their heroes in the flesh. I don’t think the students – most of whom have old media ambitions – quite understood the fame of Ken and Matt in the weblog world.

Nick also started the bidding in a new Google game: He found that Ken Layne is the hottest Ken online. Nick is the sixth Nick. Of course, I checked; what healthy ego wouldn’t? I’m top 20, which is OK, considering I’m a new kid on this block. I have to fight with a cartoonist, a Nascar driver, a dead recording star, and a TV comic. Besides, Jeff is a very common, very whitebread, very dull American name; there are too many of us.

A second: Here is New

A second
: Here is New York, the gallery filled with thousands of photographs about 9.11, has opened in a small storefront uptown, on 6th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets, to begin a new project. They put up some photos from the main gallery downtown and I’ve probably seen most of them but each time I look, the scars are fresh.

I saw a new photo today, one that chilled me completely: the image of the second jet inches away from the second tower. I saw life in that jet and in that tower, life that would end but a second later. It hurt in a new way, every time a new way.

Blogwatch: The Sequel
: I’m sad that Will Vehrs has taken a leave of absence from Blogwatching but I’m delighted and grateful to see Kathy Kinsley pick up the slack (and I’m delighted to be among the watched). Thanks.

Blogwatch: The Movie
: A propose a new rule in the world of blogdom: Every time there is a blogfest, as there was in L.A. the other night (and, I’m sure, in San Francisco, soon thereafter), somewhat has to bring a digital camera.

Antiballistic googlebomb shield
: I was about to do my civic duty and add to the googlebomb links to make sure that people searching for news on Afghan civilian casualties would find this report instead of another. discredited report — as inspired and explained by Megan McArdle.

I have to admit I was having some nagging second thoughts about this. Gogglebombing for a good cause such as this — making sure that people find both sides of the argument — is virtuous. But I fear that this technique could be put to nefarious use; imagine what various cults and crazies and companies could do with googlebombing to steer searches their way. I fear that this will rob Google of its search credibility; we won’t know what’s manipulated and what isn’t. I worry that taking part is a bit like voting in Chicago … twice; it’s ballot stuffing; it’s cheating.

But then I worry that I worry too much.

I should have faith in technology, shoudn’t I? And I should have faith in the community of bloggers… or should I?

A Slashdot user explains that Google is onto googlebombing:

In addition to other spam prevention methods, google uses complex matrix/vector filtering to ignore link circles. Basically, if (say) the same 100 different sites link to the same set of 20 other sites, and no one else links to them, Google will map them out and realize that they are all working in a concerted effort. That way if a spammer sets up 100 ostensibly independent sites and then links them all to his e-commerce sites, google will realize what he is doing and penalize his rankings for it. The only way that a spammer can ‘bomb’ google is if he gets a large array of other sites (for instance weblogs) that have significant traffic and link to other, different sites, as well as the ones that the spammer is trying to promote. The long-and-short of it is that a group of bloggers could bomb google with a large effort, but the average spammer would have to set up an incredibly complex web of interwoven pages that garner significant traffic to fool google. Even if large groups of spammers formed a cabal to promote their varied interests, it would likely be discovered by humans working at google. So, I’d put away that violin.

Holes: Monday, on the anniversary,

Holes
: Monday, on the anniversary, as I wrote then, I visited the hole in the city, the World Trade Center. The next morning, I came to my office at Times Square and looked out the window and realized that there I stare at anther hole in the city, the hole where they are building an office tower that was supposed to be occupied by Arthur Anderson. Now this, too, is empty, thanks to greed and stupidity instead of terrorism and evil. I’m sick of the holes.

Ghosts
: After I wrote my story of Sept. 11, I regretted my last line, my kicker:

:”You sure you’re OK?” some nice stranger asked.

“I just look like a ghost,” I said, still shaking off the white dust. “Better to look like one than be one.”

But I feel better about it now, reading Rossi, one of my favorite writers hereabouts. She saw the CBS 9/11 documentary and wrote about being glad she saw it. She said it’s like going to a gallery near her that has stark pictures of that day. In that gallery, she writes:

Iím allowed to feel exactly how I feel all the time walking around the PC world where people are trying desperately not to talk and think about September 11th anymore.

Thatís why I felt so happy for this film and for the commemoration of the 6-month anniversary.

It was a chance for everyone to stand up and say, ìYes this is still on our minds and in our hearts. We just pretend it isnít.î

I went up on my roof last night and turned toward the place in the sky where the towers used to be and watched the memorial lights shoot up into the sky for their first night.

They are haunting and bluish-white and soft and strange.

My friend Wolf, visiting from L.A., calls them ìThe Ghosts.î

There are a lot of ghosts walking around Manhattan these days.

Some of them are dead and seem to brush past us when we walk anywhere near ground zero, or a fire station.

Some of them are alive and smile at us a little sadly when we look in the mirror.

Bloggers as social animals
: I’m so damned jealous. Ken Layne reports on a super blogger party in L.A. last night, in honor of the arrival of Instapundit himself. And today, Layne and Matt Welch go upcoast to teach with Nick Denton, who just got back from SXSW, where, he reported in IM last night, he saw “everybody.” And tonight, I’m sure, Denton et al will party with sprout-eating bloggers.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that computers are antisocial. Once they are networked, they are the greatest socializing agent ever invented. At the end of all those wires on the Internet are people.

Terrornet
: Smart: CEOs of top U.S. companies set up their own wireless and web communications network in the event of the next attack.

Light: The best pictures of

Light
: The best pictures of the memorial lights I’ve seen are from the Star-Ledger in my very own NJ.com.

Nuke the INS
: The INS issues a student visa to go to flight school Mohamed Atta NOW! We have idiots guarding the airports. We have idiots guarding the borders. I’m feeling blue (not yellow).

With hot sauce
: I like how Thomas Nephew says he won’t quite fit into Nick Denton’s liberal blog definition: Thomas takes “a kind of ‘dim sum’ approach to politics and issues: a little of this, a little of that.” In a half-hour, I’ll be hungry for more of Thomas’ opinions.

And now the news (cue laughtrack)
: Ken Layne has a good FoxNews column on the standing of Letterman v. Koppel in the hearts and spleens of media critics. He’s saying that network news people are basically gasbags and he’s right. News is a commodity; it doesn’t much matter who reads it to you. But there is only one Dave. Just as there is only one Howard. (There are plenty of Jays.)

Yellow
: Yellow is the color of the day. We are on yellow alert on the new Tom Ridge color-coded geranimal homeland security scale. Yellow is the middle of five steps on the scale: “Elevated — significant risk of terrorist attacks.”

They could have picked a better color than yellow, don’t you think? We’re yellow? Bad connotations, you know. I can’t imagine Donald Rumsfeld saying, “We’re yeller.” It wouldn’t come out of his lips. Only Tom Ridge’s.

Fox News’s Homeland Security correspondent says we soon could see the daily terrorism alert forecast next to the weather in the paper. I can’t wait until Katie tosses to Al on Today and he says, “It’s a yellow day in the East. But in the West, it’s rainy and Red. Better wear your flak jackets under your raincoats, folks.”

I make fun. It’s actually good that there is a more specific scale. I’m all in favor of that. But it’s done in the usual Ridge way. Note that nothing on his own web site tells us what alert we’re under. Note, too, his ever-so-reassuring quotes as he announces this with that half-grin that used to infect his boss:

“We should not expect a VT Day — Victory over Terrorism Day — anytime soon.” Thanks Tom. I feel better now.

You can run but you can’t hide
: Via Metafilter comes a hilarious bit of semantic cha-cha from Bob Jones University in with the Rev. Bob suggests that he and other fundamentalists like him shouldn’t call themselves fundamentalists anymore because the “term now carries overtones of radicalism and terrorism. ‘Fundamentalist’ evokes fear, suspicion, and other repulsive connotations in its current usage.” Call yourselves what you like, you’re still fundamenalists and here’s what I said about you — from a pulpit, even:

Now, more clearly than ever, I have come to see the dangers of fanatic fundamentalism of any stripe. By this, I mean those who are so completely sure of their beliefs, so immovable in their certainty, so devoted to the utter superiority of their creed, so fierce in their opposition to any competing belief that they would do anything to further their cause: They would imprison and persecute nonbelievers; they would kill their opponents; they would commit these terrible evils in the name of GodÖ they would let their hate take flight and flame and murder 3,000 innocent people in a day.

The Times of London reports that “religious groups accounted for half of the world’s 60 terrorist groups listed in the late 1990s.” Fanatic religious fundamentalists frighten me to death.

You may not be arming yourselves with nukes or jets, Bob, but I still fear people who think they are right and everyone else is wrong. Call that what you want, but in my book, it’s fundamentalism.

The day after the day after
: The war still matters and will matter for years. The memories still matter and will forever. But it’s also time to start moving on and so I added a meaningless word to the meaningless tagline above — the tagline of a generation (the one after mine): whatever — just to cover whatever else I want to talk about here. But that won’t include steel tariffs. Sorry Nick.

Thanks
: I add thanks to Matt Welch for his too, too kind words today. And by the way, I note that Ken Layne now sends about as much traffic as Professor Instant (the former linked to me before the latter yesterday). Coming up in the world.