Monday, September 30, 2002

Will Self is knocking the Booker Prize for not recognizing superior writers like Martin Amis and J. G. Ballard and for generally going with safer authors. Good on 'im. You'd think the Brits were better than that. Self's scathingly satirical Great Apes was one of my favorite books in recent years.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Well, I'm sure I wasn't the first to mention Atlas Shrugged and Enron (and friends) in the same sentence; neither will I be the last. USA Today weighs in. Well, "weigh" may not be the right word. But the paper does point out that "CEOs put the book down knowing in their hearts that they are not the greedy crooks they are portrayed to be in today's business headlines but are heroes like the characters in Rand's novel." I'm assuming the paper's being ironic.

From Metropolis magazine, an incredible first-person account of architect Laurie Balbo's flight from the World Trade Center last September. Bablo wrote this piece at the recommendation of a counselor. It's gripping, written with tremendous immediacy, effectively reminding us of the incomprehensible horror experienced by thousands on that day.

"Before that Tuesday,"she writes, "the benchmark of my life had been childbirth. This experience blew that one away. It was bigger, meaner, louder, and more public. It was raw and it was fast. It defies placement in a natural order, too monstrous to ever digest."

Monday, September 23, 2002

New York Times interview with Peter Saville, the charming and eccentric designer of those, well, charming and eccentric New Order album covers.

We still appear to be making war with Iraq. I still haven't heard any good reasons for this, especially after Iraq's promised to allow inspectors in. Hussein finally meets our demands and we're coming anyway? Who's the promise breaker now? Why are we throwing cartons of matches on the fire? A year after 9/11 and I'm back to feeling deeply disturbed and sad again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Donald Rumsfeld today said we shouldn't wait to attack Iraq until we have a smoking gun. "If we wait for a smoking gun in this instance," he reasoned "we'd find it after the fact. That's a little late." Brilliant stuff. No chicken or egg quandary there.

Governed by this mentality, should we beat up all the bullies in our neighborhood before they punch us out? Should we go lock up all the folks we think might commit murders in the future? Call it the Minority Report mentality. Saddam may be a bona fide monster, but he still hasn't managed anything remotely resembling an attack on the United States. Has he attacked and invaded his neighbors? Certainly. Is that why we're threatening to attack him? Hardly.

So, if we're going to attack Iraq, let's blow up North Korea and the rest of the Middle East while we're at it. They may attack us one day, too.

Iraq has finally agreed to allow UN inspectors in to do their jobs. And because of *this* Bush and his cronies are incensed? Kofie Annan accepts a letter from Iraq allowing inspectors back in without consulting the Security Council. And for this Bushites are fuming? Obviously, they're angry because it undermines their friggin' war effort. Shouldn't it be the policy of the United States to avoid war? That's the essence of the Powell Doctrine, framed by the man who's been remarkably silent on the issue over the past few months--until now that the inspectors have been allowed back in and war looks less likely. It's a shame when a man with backbone like Colin Powell is the one relegated to the wings while all the dippy, adolescent-minded politicos yammer and wave their hands in their breathless efforts to engage the war effort.

I'm more afraid of what Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and John "The Baptist" Ashcroft will do to this country in the next year or two than Saddam Hussein. And what they'll do now that'll have unknown and potentially horrific repercussions in the years from now.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Absolutely brilliant cartoon by David Rees, "Get Your War On," satirizing the War on Terrorism. Dilbert meets Doonesbury, only way more piercing, way edgier. Warning: Not at all for the faint of heart. Not coming to a family newspaper near you any time soon.

Also, read "Only Love and then Oblivion," a Guardian article on 9/11 by one of my favorite authors, Ian McEwan.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

911 Statistics

3025 number of people who died last September 11, 2001 as a result of the terrorist attacks
3044 if you count the hijackers on those planes
2,801 number of confirmed dead at the WTC
19,858 the number of human body parts recovered from Ground Zero
10,000 approximate number of children lost a parent due to the events on September 11th
10 percentage of those killed were emergency workers–people who entered the buildings after they were struck
5 number of dollars a man from the poor nation of Malawi scraped together to help the richest nation through its time of grief
105 babies have been born to widows of September 11th victims
83,000 individuals lost New York jobs
600,000 pints more than usual donated in September and October
21,000 number of bombs dropped on Afghanistan over the past year
2 billion dollars per month it costs America to engage the war on terrorism

These statistics were taken from no single source. I just noted them when and wherever they hit me. That being said, The New York Times hit me more often than not. Please email me if you come across an appropriate one.

It's now barely into 9/11-02. Everything's quiet, and I hope it stays that way. Earlier this evening I came across this powerful new poem, "When the Towers Fell" by one of my favorite poets, Galway Kinnell, in The New Yorker. I had some thoughts of my own about 9/11 today and with any luck, I'll find time to put them down tomorrow. For now, my eyes are tired. They feel like they've been scrubbed with steel wool.


Update: The New Yorker link is broken now, but here's a link to another copy of Kinnell's poem.