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February 21, 2003

Here in the 21st century, I was about to leave for work this morning in Brooklyn, when Teresa called from Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix to tell me a giant explosion had just happened on Staten Island. Naturally, I didn’t immediately run to the window to look. Of course not! I loaded CNN and the New York Times into my browser, turned on the cable TV, and then I went outside.

The New York Times has a spectacular picture here. [03:51 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Here in the 21st century,:

Brian Bruxvoort ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 12:58 AM:

As I watch news networks stumble to cover this accidental explosion, the Rhode Island club fire, and the botched heart transplant all at once while next to the orange high terror alert warning, I can't help but think that the collective unconsciousness of the US is so preoccupied with the fear of terrorism that we've become our own worst enemy. The Chicago stampede and Shuttle disaster in recent memory just enforce this feeling. I know it's all probably just coincidence and media frenzy, but seeing all these tragic mistakes unfold while that orange banner glares mockingly in the corner of the tv screen seems like creepy karma to me.

Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2003, 09:15 AM:

Brian, what are you watching that shows a terror alert banner onscreen constantly? Either none of the stations I watch regularly are doing that, or I'm so oblivious I haven't noticed. No, as I stop and think about it, NECN at least is not doing it; I'd certainly notice something else cluttering the bottom of the screen.

Stampedes are always a risk when there's a large and somewhat confined crowd; it doesn't take a lot to start a panic in a situation like that. And organ transplantation is a procedure fraught with possibilities for error. I think coincidence is a more than adequate explanation, here.

I know some people are taking the raised terror alert seriously; the guy who's wrapping his entire house rather than just one room has been profiled in the news. I have not personnally met anyone who's taking it seriously, though, and it's not hard enough to find duct tape to support the notion that I just know a weird bunch of people.

Patrick, you're a child of the modern age, and you know the best view is always onscreen, not in the stadium.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2003, 11:54 AM:

There's something else going on here.

Not long after my partner Debbie moved to California from New York, in the early '70s, there was a substantial snowstorm in the east. It made the papers and the local news: "BLIZZARD CRIPPLES EAST COAST - New York Digs Its Way Out," that kind of thing.

Deb called her mother in Westchester to check up on her. "Debbie," her mom said, "It snowed. Relax."

The media exaggerates and sensationalizes drama in the news, like fires, storms, floods, earthquakes, migrations of killer bees, and so forth.

The very nature of the news media amplify the importance of certain kinds of events and diminish others. After the '89 Loma Prieta earthquake, TV viewers across the nation were treated to visions of the city of San Francisco engulfed in flames ... because of an apartment fire in the Marina district, and the fact that when televising live news coverage at night, burning flames show up better on camera than random city scenery, especially when the random city scenery is unlit due to the power failure. (The more substantial damage in Santa Cruz got rather less coverage, and the destruction in Watsonville went almost completely unnoticed by the media.)