We won’t know when the

We won’t know when the next terrorist attack happens. We will be confused and we will suspect any violent act or accident anywhere. Note that the cowards who perpetrated Sept. 11 did not “take credit” as we oddly call it. Silence is their strategy. It will spook us. So yesterday, we saw a bus crash caused by a man described as Middle Eastern and also described as nuts. We all assumed terrorism. But now they say not. Take yesterday’s apparent hijacking in India (below); now we hear that it was all a practice run against terrorism. Leave me off that airline. This morning, we see news of an outbreak of the ebola virus on the border of Afghanistan; that is one of the germs we now fear in a biological attack. Next: Anthrax in Florida (but’s just one case, not an attack, they say). And then we see an Israel-to-Russia plane exploding. Terrorism was not ruled out by Russia; then Americans reported that it could be an errant training missile; we don’t and won’t know. So the strategy still works: We’re spooked.

Minireview of The West Wing from a former TV critic (once a TV critic, always a TV critic): I predict that this will be the best treatment of the September 11 tragedy that we’ll see on nonfiction TV … for years. It is too soon, way too soon, to know what the hell all this hell means. But this was an intelligent effort, surprisingly good, considering the lack of time. Yes, the show was talky and preachy and sometimes awkward, but I don’t know what other critics expected: a popped-vein president pounding his fist for mere dramatic effect or mass tears and fears? No, the writers tried to bring us a moment of sane reflection on an insane event and that is a noble attempt. And I will bet you a Tivo that it will be far wiser than any exploitive headline-ripping we are sure to see on Law & Order.

Kottke [10/4 entry] catalogues the mess the world is in with attacks of terrorists and diseases:

Jesus. Now there’s a possible epidemic happening in Afghanistan involving an Ebola-style virus? Please, please, please don’t let this be terrorist related.

Jets crashing down around us, Jews killing Palestinians, terrorists killing civilians, Palestinians killing Jews, half of Africa infected with AIDS, millions suffering in Afghanistan, nuclear threats resurfacing, possible biological disasters. I don’t think I ever quite appreciated the unique status my generation has enjoyed in America up until now, never having fought a war or had its freedom or autonomy or lives challenged in any meaningful way, not compared with the rest of the world. I’m starting to appreciate it in a big way now. I want my innocence back, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

On Scripting News, a brilliant parody of the debunked urban-legend picture of the guy supposedly atop the World Trade Center as a plane approached. The terror Zelig. Under Oct. 4, look for, “Remember the poor schmuck….” More here.

– Britain’s Blair has said he has enough evidence against Bin Laden and the Taliban. Here’s his document.

– More security-cam photos of Atta et al before they boarded their weapon.

– Terrorists visit Vegas [via Drudge].

From SFGate.com:

Samantha remembers the killer settling into the crushed red velvet chair, staring blankly up at her while she undulated her hips inches from his face.

He didn’t look evil, she said. Not even interesting. Certainly not like a man who would, just three months later, hijack a jet and smash it into the World Trade Center to slaughter thousands of people in a suicidal fireball.

To the 29-year-old stripper, Marwan Al-Shehhi simply looked “cheap.”

“Some big-man terrorist, huh?” Samantha said this week as she took a breather from the two-dozen lap dances she bestows daily upon the lonely at the Olympic Garden Topless Cabaret. “He spent about $20 for a quick dance and didn’t tip more.”

Nevermind: The Indian hijacking was

Nevermind: The Indian hijacking was just a matter of miscommunication. The pilots were told by the tower there were hijackers in the cabin; they locked their door. The passengers thought there were hijackers in the cockpit. Four hours later, everyone realized: There were no hijackers. I’ve worked in companies that operate just like that. At the Times of India.

– A Cantor Fitzgerald survivor speaks to The Star-Ledger from her hospital bed.

Just three weeks later…. …My

Just three weeks later….

…My wife finally played for me the phone message I Ieft her minutes after the second plane hit the World Trade Center (and I still feel guilty about getting a cell phone line, knowing what I know now). That was an hour before I escaped the collapse of the south tower and five hours before I could leave another message, saying I was still fine. I couldn’t listen before; I couldn’t listen now. I thought I was fine then. But even I couldn’t understand myself, I was talking so fast, no breaths between words: too much fear, fright, adrenalin, horror…

…The images that haunt me most are the faces of the firemen and police I saw running into the towers and their deaths….

…The image I hate seeing every morning as I drive toward New York: the city without its towers…

Overheard near Times Square today: A mother in a store on her mobile phone telling her pediatrician that she wants her son to get a smallpox vaccination because she’d seen on CSPAN that the vaccine still exists (even though it’s not used anymore). Sane or insane?

-Salman Rushdie, a man who knows about Islam’s bad side, in today’s Washington Post: “Terrorism is the murder of the innocent; this time, it was mass murder. To excuse such an atrocity by blaming U.S. government policies is to deny the basic idea of all morality: that individuals are responsible for their actions…. The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. These are tyrants, not Muslims.”

– Jason Kottke’s weblog on news withdrawl: The immediate aftermath was filled with facts; today’s news is brimming with spin. To quote:

Network. What a great movie (reviews), probably in my top 10 of all time. Hollywood should be proud that they once upon a time made this movie, but should not be so proud that they haven’t made one like it in quite awhile.

You may have noticed (or perhaps you didn’t) that I haven’t been talking about the Current Situation much lately. It’s not that I’m becoming apathetic or have been somehow desensitized to the whole thing. Far from it in fact. I saw video of the second plane ramming into the WTC for the first time in a couple weeks and all the grief, incredulity, and pain bubbled right up to the surface again…not that it was very far from the surface to begin with.

The problem I’m having is with the (intrinsic?) nature of news coverage itself. In the early stages of a situation like this, the news comes fast and hard and for the most part, unfiltered. It was mostly facts…there was actual reporting going on. Some of the reporting was crappy, and some of it was even dead wrong, but on the whole, it seemed honest and human and generally from a place of truth.

Now the spin and the analysis phase has set in. The PR machines of our government, large corporations, special interest groups, various agencies, and political parties have had time to mobilize. Everyone now has an “angle” appropriate to their political/corporate/religious/cultural affiliation. It feels like I’m not hearing the truth from humans anymore, I’m hearing careful crafted and sanitized PR from government/company/agency/media spokespeople. Perhaps it’s my fault for immediately distrusting spin, but I just don’t see how I can believe anything I’m hearing or take any notice of the analysis going on because it’s based on incomplete and faulty information.

Does that make sense? I know I’m probably not explaining this very well…and hopefully this analogy won’t make it any worse: I feel like I’m the last person in a giant game of telephone in which most of the participants are deliberately modifying the message so that when I actually do receive it, there’s little of the original message left. And I don’t feel like playing anymore.

However – and this is a hell of a however – I’ve decided that I’m going to try to ignore that instinct to give up. I’m going to continue to read and watch and listen to all the coverage out there with a critical mind. It’s important to me as a functioning part of humanity that I stay educated about what is going on around me. The world is a crazy place, but if I can understand just a bit of it, I can keep myself sane and who knows, maybe even help a few of my fellow citizens out.

– Rossi’s weblog on her mother, telling her about the Holocaust and her family, over and over, making her repeat the words, “Never again”…. To quote:

I remember growing up, my mother would tell me the stories of the Holocaust, about our family members who had died there and the stories she had heard from those who managed to escape. She began to tell me these stories when I was quite young, maybe only 5 or 6 years old.

They terrified me.

When I got older I asked her why she felt it was so important to keep telling me these stories over and again, the same stories each year. She said it was so I would always remember. That it was my duty to remember so it would never happen again.

She said, “Slovah … you must always remember the words … never again.”

So I do remember, and if I ever have children, I will tell them about the Holocaust and make them promise to repeat the words “never again.”

Then I will tell them about the towers and try to explain that in every generation, evil, blind, soulless people do inexplicably terribly things.

But the good has always outweighed the bad.

– Israeli site Debka.com says the Russians will play a large role in our Afghanistan military mission — “The anti-terror alliance has split its task into two parts. The Americans and Russians will go for Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda force in the Pamir Mountains, while the UK and Western allies will take on the Taliban in south Afghanistan.”

– A WTC burn victim prayed, “Please God, make it quick.” He walked down 82 floors in terrible pain and survived. Quoting:

Mr Dhingra said he had just emerged from the lift for a day of trading at Andover Brokerage when “I was just covered in a ball of fire”.

He said: “I thought it was over,” he said. “I thought it was a bomb.”

Then he realised he was alive and that “there’s nobody going to come up to the 82nd floor”, so he began walking down despite the searing pain.

Two co-workers helped him, clearing the way as they descended the flights of stairs and occasionally fetching water for his rapidly dehydrating body. He said that the pain was so severe he couldn’t allow his friends and colleagues to touch him.

He said their greatest help was in deceiving him about the trip down. Once, when he wanted to rest, they told him to keep going because there were just 10 floors left. He found out later they were on the 61st floor.

After the trip down, he was bundled into an ambulance. He did not know the twin towers had collapsed until he was safely in the hospital.

– Families of the many missing will get an urn filled with soil from the World Trade Center site.

Bin Laden spottings.

– 121 people have died in other terrorist attacks since Sept. 11

– Toy stores in United Arab Emerites to be shut down if they sell toys with Israeli flags on them.

Idiot du jour: Ukranian woman does 2,060 kneebends to protest American military action. OK, that changed our minds.

– Rudy Guilliani’s great speech to the UN: “Look at that destruction, that massive, senseless, cruel loss of human life and then I ask you to look in your hearts and recognize that there is no room for neutrality on the issue of terrorism. You’re either with civilization or with terrorists…. We are right and they are wrong. It’s as simple as that.”

So long, Mom, I’m off

So long, Mom, I’m off to drop the bomb, so don’t wait up for me… (from a Tom Lehrer classic): NBC reported this morning that Osama bin Laden called his mother two days before the attack to tell her something big was going to happen and then he wouldn’t be able to call for awhile. Hard to believe he ever had a mother.

A nice Flash guide to the basics of war with Afghanistan from the Guardian.

A collection of home pages of news sites from around the world on September 11, for history.

Middle-East sites of note: Al-Ahram,

Middle-East sites of note: Al-Ahram, published in Cairo (with analysis of the American military, perspective on Afhanistan, and commentary by Edward Said); Gulf News from the UAE; Turkish Daily News; ArabicNews.com; all in English, of varying quality. On the other hand, there are some frightening sites, such as Net Iran and the Syria Times,

with a story arguing that the Israeli Mossad had a hand in the WTC attack. Click carefully.

A Time survey says 60 percent of Americans say life in their communities has returned to normal (the other 40 percent live around New York and Washington). Newsweek says that 85 percent believe there’s a likelihood of an attack with biochemical weapons. Some normalcy.