Posts from August 2003

The soundtrack of our lives

The soundtrack of our lives
: Adam Curry is pushing for an audio RSS.

The memorial

The memorial
: The NY Times has a substantial — but ultimately unsatisfying — package on the 9.11 memorial in Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section.

In the lead essay, Michael Kimmelman contemplates — without finding conclusion — the use of names in memorials.

The competition guidelines for the memorial at ground zero require that the design “recognize each individual who was a victim” on Sept. 11, 2001, and on Feb. 26, 1993, when the World Trade Center was first attacked. It’s a safe bet that many of the 5,200 submissions interpret that as some kind of list of names. By aesthetic and social consensus, names are today a kind of reflexive memorial impulse, lists of names having come almost automatically to connote “memorial,” just as minimalism has come to be the presumptive sculptural style for memorial design, the monumental blank slate onto which the names can be inscribed.

I can’t say anything about my own proposed memorial, for we’re forbidden by the rules of the anonymous competition from revealing our plans to the media, but I did address the issue of names because it’s clear to me that the names are not enough. Just listing the names marks only the deaths of victims, not their lives. The memorial must to do more. I have my humble suggestion. There are other, better solutions, I am sure.

: More in the package:

: Herbert Muschamp writes a story that is at first antiseptic, then twee, then borderline offensive as he describes the current design in distant, aesthetic terms and then criticizes a pamphlet calling for a Museum of Freedom at the site:

Throughout the ground zero design process, many New Yorkers have felt “powerful and powerless at the same time.” They have spoken, but with little conviction that they are being heard. Should I have a turn at such a mouthpiece, this is what I would say:

Not everyone saw the twin towers as symbols of freedom. For some, they represented the Kafkaesque mental enslavement of government bureaucracy and dull office routine. For others, they stood for Rockefeller power: for oil, that is to say, and the bizarre things we do to satisfy our need for it.

NOT everyone thinks that the United States is ideally poised at this moment to point fingers at “places that lack basic human freedoms.” …

Ideally, I would like to voice such opinions without being branded a traitor, a pro-terrorist, or a person opposed to freedom.

That all-caps “NOT” is a typographical accident online — that’s where a drop cap appears in print — but it is like a political Freudian slip, revealing Muschamp’s real point and the point I found offensive.

: A story on the “culture derby” erupting downtown.

: James Sanders says New York has an aversion to memorials and he explains why.

: A story on those who would rebuild the Twin Towers.

: A profile of David Childs, who’s designing the Freedom Tower.

: And a story that reports little but speculates much on the process of selecting the memorial.

: It’s an impressive, ambitious lot of stories. But ultimately, it’s soulless, bloodless, like a parody of Arts & Leisure stories where art imitates art and never life.

The package treats New York as an unfinished sculpture in a dehumidified, silent, white museum, not a place where people live, a place that now must remember both its horror and its heroes. That’s what this memorial is about, not aesthetics or politics or culture or architecture. It is about life and death.

: After reading the Times, go read Michele and see how a person with a beating heart is affected by the place, without a memorial.

It’s not a campaign, it’s a spa

It’s not a campaign, it’s a spa
: Arianna Huffington presents her handy seven rules of campaigning:

  1. Absolutely no alcohol. Not even a sip of wine from somebody else’s glass.
  2. No carbs. Although I must admit I broke down on the airplane and had a bag of pretzels. But it was a really tiny bag.
  3. Absolutely no high heels.
  4. Drink lots and lots and lots of water. And when you think you’ve drunk enough, drink another bottle
    4a. Make sure you have a well-trained advance person who always knows where the closest bathroom is.
  5. Keep plenty of blotting tissue handy for dealing with shiny patches in-between interviews. Especially if, like me, you have Greek olive oily skin – it’s great for wrinkles, but bad for TV.
  6. An ample supply of caf

Sexist twaddle

Sexist twaddle
: As a man, I’m offended by this bigoted foolishness from a New School twit writing for Pacific News Service:

President Bush may not face much opposition in Congress to his plan for perpetual preemptive war, but he better watch out for the women.

Angry over the swagger of violence coming out of the White House, disgusted by the bring-them-on itch for a fight as the solution to political problems, women around the globe are organizing in new ways.

These gender activists are on the Internet, in the streets, packed into rooms forming more groups and pushing resolutions through the United Nations.

What’s most offensive is that they lump together bin Laden and Bush and act as if the problem is testosterone, not terrorism.

Kelly’s case for war

Kelly’s case for war
: The Guardian finds a piece written by Dr. Kelly supporting regime change and war:

A remarkable article by Dr David Kelly, published for the first time today, reveals the government scientist’s true views ahead of the war on Iraq and his expert assessment of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

In a development which could have a major influence on the Hutton inquiry, Kelly said that, although the threat was ‘modest’, he believed military action was the only way to ‘conclusively disarm’ the country.

He also argued that there was evidence Saddam still had chemical and biological weapons and regime change, the policy of the United States, was the only way to stop the Iraqi dictator….

Kelly’s article reveals a hawkish stance on Iraq which will come as some comfort to Number 10. ‘Iraq has spent the past 30 years building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction [WMD],’ he wrote. ‘Although the current threat presented by Iraq militarily is modest, both in terms of conventional and unconventional weapons, it has never given up its intent to develop and stockpile such weapons for both military and terrorist use.’

Kelly argues that any co-operation with UN weapons inspectors was superficial and that rockets specifically for chemical and biological use had been found.

Take that, Blair bashers.

: Dr. Kelly’s own conclusion:

Perhaps the real threat from Iraq today comes from covert use of such weapons against troops or by terrorists against civilian targets worldwide. The link with al-Qaeda is disputed, but is, in any case, not the principal terrorist link of concern. Iraq has long trained and supported terrorist activities and is quite capable of initiating such activity using its security services.

The long-term threat, however, remains Iraq’s development to military maturity of weapons of mass destruction – something that only regime change will avert.

: It’s time to give the Guardian credit: They have covered the Hutton inquiry well and fairly even as it tightens the noose around Andrew Gilligan and the BBC.

Meanwhile, do you think Gilligan has started looking for a new job?