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September 10, 2011

I got nothin’
Posted by Patrick at 06:15 PM * 85 comments

You think it’s an accident that the dates we chose to visit Abi, and Martin, and the generally sane and well-designed Netherlands, happen to include the date of the inevitable American mediagasm over 9/11? Okay, no, you don’t think it’s an accident. Because you’re smarter than the average bear.

People smarter than me have your definitive 9/11 posts. Charlie Stross has the right idea. Jim Henley is more honest about what it really meant, to a subset of us, than reality can perhaps bear.

And Jim is right that this is probably the greatest thing written in the immediate wake of the events. What some people (not Jim) don’t get is that the Onion wasn’t making fun of her. We were all her. Nothing since then has suggested that we’ve attained more insight into our true condition.

Comments on I got nothin':
#1 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:44 PM:

It was a beautiful morning. Everyone says that. I always say that. I still do, but it's still weird to hear a pr ad parrot my exact words whenever I talk about that day. It was a tremendously beautiful morning, a perfect NYC fall morning, then phone calls tv smoke crying panicked flight-checking news news news dumbfounded wandering dropping an internship confusion and everyone's personal stories.

#2 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 07:59 PM:

We put a moratorium on the TV news after the first couple of hours. I'm not sorry; I saw friends push themselves into panic attacks and trauma states by obsessive watching and re-watching. Some of them still haven't completely recovered.*

We have a moratorium on the TV until after Monday, maybe even Tuesday for good measure. I don't want to see people making money off what happened 10 years ago. It would only make me feel sick.


* For clarity: I'm talking about people who had no personal connection to the events at all.

#3 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:02 PM:

Here is an angle I have not seen anyone look at it from: Did the pentagon have a personality change due to the fact that some of its important people were suddenly gone? Did Wall Street have a personality change due to the fact that some of its important people were suddenly gone?

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:09 PM:

I have a whole bunch of DVRd TV shows I'll be watching tomorrow. It's much too hot to do outdoor things.

Also, the wonderful dysfunctional-family holiday movie A Christmas Tale.

#5 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:19 PM:

Maybe I'm being soft, but this, I liked.

"From 1969 to 2001, the Twin Towers made countless cameos in Hollywood films. Sometimes featured prominently in the foreground, sometimes lurking in the distance. This montage celebrates the towers' all-too-short film career with songs that capture the passing decades."

Twin Tower Cameos on Vimeo

#6 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 08:32 PM:

Lee: I was one of those people who by obsessively watching the towers fall, the people die, over and over, managed to drive myself into a state of depression which is utterly uncharacteristic of me. I don't get depressed. (Pissed off, oh yeah. Not depressed.) I stopped sleeping (except for a few hours each night.) I stopped eating. At that point, my mind and spirit went, Whoa, Nellie, and brought me back from whatever hole I was sinking into. It was very instructive. During the three weeks in which I went through this, I continued to engage in my usual activity, to work, to take care of my sick mother, and I don't think anyone noticed how miserable I was, because everyone I knew was weird as hell. No one felt good.

I got over it. Among other things, I went to church. I'll go to church tomorrow morning: it's Sunday, after all. Sabbath. I will not turn on NPR or the computer -- no DailyKos, not even ML. I don't have TV, no danger there. I think I'll go for a long walk, perhaps several walks, with my dog. I'll read -- or maybe not. I might go to a yoga class. I'll spend a lot of time outside, under the sky. Maybe I'll call some friends, or my brother in Phoenix, check in. And yes, I'll take time, in my own time, to think of the dead, the people who died on 9/11/2001 and the many who died and are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will avoid political conversations of all sorts.

Grace be with us all -- may all sentient beings find peace.

#7 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:15 PM:

After a while I switched to the SciFi Channel (as it was then), the only channel I could find that didn't have a news crawl.

Later I got a spreadsheet of people from my group who hadn't checked in yet, took some of them, and started calling their contact numbers. All the ones I reached were surprised that anyone was concerned about them.

I don't know if I've admitted this here before, but I did some cutting after 9/11. Thank gods I got over THAT before I did any serious damage.

I'll sing (to the extent possible) at church tomorrow. Then I have no plans until the evening, when some friends are taking me out for my birthday. If there's 9/11 stuff on the TV at the restaurant, I'll ask them to change it.

#8 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:21 PM:

I have friends who have spent the last week talking about how they're discussing September 11th with their elementary-school-aged children and what observances they will or won't allow them to watch. Meanwhile, I'm remembering how grateful I was, ten years ago, for PBS, which put regular children's programming back on the air while everyone else was doing endless hours and days of news coverage. Because that meant I could give my 5-year-old something to watch . . . and give myself something to watch . . . which was peaceful and happy and normal.

My now-cynical teenager has no intention of watching any 9/11 coverage; we've both been turning it off all week for reasons which are similar to Charles Stross's.

I'm going to synagogue tomorrow--it's the first day of religious school for the year, and even though my daughter isn't attending any longer, I've made promises to my religious community and intend to keep them.

Then maybe we'll go to a movie.

Two years ago, I was still having little flashbacks, especially when I saw a certain shade of beautiful blue sky (it was, indeed, a beautiful day in NYC). I don't need the ceremonies to remember.

#9 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:33 PM:

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. I remember that.

And it was my birthday.

There has not been a day since when some agent of a bank or government agency has asked me for my birthday on the phone for identification that I have not heard a horrified gasp when I say, "9/11/[year]."

It's a stupid detail, but it's also a constant reminder. And it's one more reason I've been zealously avoiding the tenth-anniversary tragedy porn...I mean, the news.

#10 ::: sarak ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:39 PM:

September 11, 2001 was my son's 4th birthday. I brought the kids home from school early, collected other children whose parents were stuck in Virginia. We had cake. We played outside with bubbles and balloons. We watched kid programming. Once my husband got out of DC, we took turns checking on the news in the back room. Tomorrow, we will celebrate a birthday.

#11 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:39 PM:

Tracey, we share a birthday. Sucks, doesn't it?

#12 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 09:45 PM:

That whole issue of the Onion was pretty superlative. I remember being just flabbergasted when it came out, thinking this is so much better, deeper, more thoughtful than anything anyone else is publishing.

#13 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:08 PM:

I wish I could think of something sarcastic and horrible enough to express what I think of all the disaster porn. I've considered posting the link to "I Like To Watch," both here and at Charlie's blog, but that just seems like an extreme reaction going the other way...

Feh. Suck. Hate.

#15 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:18 PM:

Happy Birthday, Xopher, Tracey, and Sarak's son (Spock?)! Hope the next year is a good year for you all.

#16 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:24 PM:

After 9/11, I spent months pretty much listening to NPR and hanging out on rec.arts.sf.fandom, and doing very little else. With all due respect to the both of them, I hope I will never make that mistake again. I could tell I wanted to know if anything further happened, and the media didn't have more news, so they just kept repeating themselves, but I still couldn't pry myself loose.

I was listening to more music today rather than my usual NPR, but I'll probably check in now and then tomorrow. It seems to be a stronger habit than I can completely break, but NPR itself may give me sufficient reason to stay away.


#17 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:25 PM:

This poem has nothing to do with 9/11.

#18 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2011, 10:29 PM:

Tracey, Xopher, I think that will fade, but it may take decades, and for some people it will always be present. I have a young friend whose birthday is December 7th, and the date has no other significance for her, whereas I encounter it each year with a shiver, even though I was not born in 1941.

Same thing happens for me on November 22.

It also happens for me on June 8, for three reasons: it was on June 8th in 1968 that Bobby Kennedy was buried (he was shot June 6th), it was also on that day in 1968 that I walked in solemn procession to receive a master's degree from the U. of Chicago (we wore black armbands over our gowns), and it happens to be -- my birthday.

#19 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 02:23 AM:

We went to see Captain America Fuck Yeah today (Saturday), after which I went to a singing/party at my local comic shop and got to meet Jaime Hernandez(!!!!). Tomorrow we're going to a party for a friend who just got married.

Really, it's possible to just ignore the whole fucking circus.

(Or so I hope. We'll see how tomorrow goes.)

#20 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:05 AM:

I confess to the most eccentric immediate reaction of anyone I know.

Now, a little background: I grew up in the LA area through earthquakes and riots and fires and even, bizarrely, a flood, the sum effect of which meant that I learned to feel a kind of calm excitement rather than worrying about it when faced with cataclysmic events.

I was still in California in 2001, a young adult living in a cottage in my parents' backyard, and didn't know many people on the East Coast. I had also recently read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, which is significant later in the story.

My mother usually had the habit of calling my phone in the morning when it was around my scheduled time to wake and go to work. This was well before my scheduled wake time that day, so I answered it groggily. I tend to be a very slow waker and was more so at the time. I sometimes managed to fake being awake. Literally on a couple of occasions she'd wound up knocking on my door to tell me I answered the phone in gibberish.

"A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center."

"Whuh? How'd that happen?"

"It was an attack, they did it on purpose. And they hit the Pentagon too."

"Oh." I stumbled back to bed.

As soon as I tried to go back to sleep a thought occurred to me: "The Pentagon is broken - Yog-Sothoth is out!" And THAT woke me right up and I pulled some clothes on and went into the main house to watch CNN, dazed and bleary-eyed.

(I did actually have an emotional reaction to the tragedy, once I was actually awake. I didn't know anyone directly affected by it out there at the time, so I made bouquets and cards and pedaled around on my bicycle till my legs were sore delivering them to every Middle-Eastern business I could look up in my area, because I knew they were going to need it. I guess that was my own peculiar version of "Nothing to do for it but bake a flag cake."

I also observed that our country had a choice to make and hoped we would turn this into a transcendent moment of tolerance and caring for each other. I still sometimes wish I lived in the version of the universe where that had actually happened.)

#21 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 05:49 AM:

Me, I am just woken up, after a most excellent wedding anniversary yesterday. There may, perchance, be some Scrapheap Challenge watched (essentially Junkyard Wars, but the UK version) and there may be computer games played. There are episodes of TV series on DVD, some unwatched films and I suspect there may be an unseen ep of Doctor Who hiding in iPLayer.

All set, I think.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 06:32 AM:

I actually sold them on this trip partly by pointing out that they could miss the entire frenzy by taking it.

So today I took Patrick and Teresa to Mass; it was safe because (a) we're in the Netherlands, and (b) the sermon was in Dutch. So I understood it, but they only got the vaguest gist.

And, indeed, though the priest touched on the events of ten years ago, it was mostly in the context of the aftermath, and only one example for the point he was trying to make.

I think I'll pop out for some eggs and make pancakes now.

#23 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:15 AM:

Ten years ago I was not a churchgoer and it was Tuesday anyway; this morning I am trying to get myself presentable to go sing a double-header at my own church (we have the enviable more-butts-than-pews problem, and have two services per Sunday from September thru June). I had had no intention of participating in the local Interfaith You-Know-What Memorial Service until late Thursday evening, when at choir practice we were informed of an Opportunity-With-A-Capital-O to join voices with the choir of the host church and sing this afternoon too. It would suck if none of us showed up, so I am reluctantly psyching myself up to sit through that, too.

It is a beautiful September day. They often are.

I'm glad I don't have television.

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:21 AM:

Today also is the birthday of former SFWA Prez Sharon Lee.
It also is a good day to watch "On The Town".

#25 ::: Richard Robinson ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:51 AM:

The Onion ? Someone should mention http://www.theonion.com/articles/god-angrily-clarifies-dont-kill-rule,222/

#26 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 08:30 AM:

Happy birthday, Xopher and Tracie.

We're going kayaking if the park is doing boat rentals today; if not, we'll take the dogs for a hike at the Nature Center.

Either way, no TV or radio. We'll listen to JoCo in the car; still haven't finished all the albums daughter brought home from Dragon*Con.

#27 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 09:16 AM:

If the Church had stuck with Latin, everyone would have understood. I can't understand this parochialism in a church that prides itself on its catholicism!

I figured out the logic of the timing of P and T's trip as I was picking up the paper yesterday.

I still think "110 Stories" is the best thing written about 9/11, but that Onion piece is the best thing written about the reaction to it.

#28 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 09:29 AM:

Agree re "110 Stories".

Re the Onion's coverage, I'm particularly fond of the TV schedule, especially Animal Planet at 10:00. (Scroll down.)

#29 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 09:38 AM:

I bought a TV yesterday to replace the one in our bedroom that died last year. I bought it when I did specifically to watch the events of today. Wales lost to reigning World Champions South Africa by only one point in their opening match of the Rugby World Cup. It was a great performance. Life goes on.

#30 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:42 AM:

Happy birthday Xopher and Tracie.

Bon diada to you both.

#31 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:44 AM:

I wish a very happy birthday to all of you as have 'em today.

After seeing some of the scheduled programming, I decided to wait and watch the new delivery from Netflix today.

#32 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:26 AM:

TCM is showing "$2nd Street", to be followed by "Guys and Dolls" and other movies, all of which celebrate New York. An excellent idea.

#33 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:26 AM:

Argh... It's 42nd Street, not $2 Street.

#34 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:41 AM:

I don't have a tv to not turn on.
Nce words and nice links. Thank you.

#35 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:51 AM:

I usually have a radio set to one of the two newsradio stations in NYC, next to my computer. This morning, I flipped it on, and lazily enough, let it stay on for about 30 minutes. That was long enough to hear Paul Simon sing "The Sounds of Silence", and for me to rail at him: "NO, Paul! Sing 'Old Friends' instead!" At that point, I put on music (Silly Wizard, 1998-04-04, Somerville Theater, MA) on the computer, and felt much better.

When M wakes, we'll watch Man On Wire, an excellent documentary about the walk between the Towers by Philippe Petit. That's how I want to remember them.

#36 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 12:17 PM:

I have decided to bake cookies, enough to bring some into work (without explanation).

And it will be a standard Sunday, otherwise.

#37 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 12:22 PM:

Serge @33, y'know, NYC ought to have a $2 Street.

#38 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 01:09 PM:

What I remember, out here on the other edge of the continent (and under the main landing path for SeaTac and the western approach to McChord), was how quiet it was with the sky empty of airplanes, how clear the air was with all of the contrails and mere engine exhaust gone, and doing load after load of laundry and hanging it on the lines in the yard because it was what I could do that was doing something.

I knew, at that brief instant in my life, nobody living in the north east. The clear sky, and the silence, and the old ceremonies of line and pin all left me feeling as if the world had been emptied out, was holding its breath, was waiting for the next thing to happen as it hung in the wave trough between "that happened" and "that will happen."

#39 ::: E ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 03:19 PM:

That entire issue of The Onion was brilliant.

#40 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 03:43 PM:

What I remember about that time, as someone who doesn't have a car and goes everywhere on bike, was that suddenly everyone was obeying the traffic laws: the arrow would turn red and people would stop, rather than two or three cars going through anyway, and bicyclists would likewise obey the law, crossing at the intersections and only when it said "walk."

I remember at the time thinking of it as people suddenly being more aware of, and concerned about, other people. There was an increased politeness elsewhere, including at the college I was attending.

It seems like all that lasted for at least a few weeks, but I'm not sure when exactly things started going back to normal....

#41 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 03:54 PM:

Avram @ #37, it probably once did, but inflation.

#42 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:10 PM:

JESR at 38: Ah, yes. I remember that empty sky.

A friend of mine was out of town for his company -- I think he was in Missouri, or Minnesota, or Michigan: one of those states that begins with an "M," anyway. He couldn't fly home. He ended up renting a car one-way and driving back to California.

#43 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:17 PM:

johnofjack @40
Polite drivers are one of the things I remember most strongly too. One of the major arteries out of Washington DC runs a half block from my house. I sat on a neighbors porch for an hour or so waiting for the school bus to bring my daughter home from early dismissal, and the traffic was like the worst imaginable rush hour, nonstop bumper to bumper - but silent. No honking horns, no revving engines. Just moving when they could and waiting patiently when they couldn't.

#44 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:47 PM:

Here: Quality time with Hilde* (massage oil was involved). Then I baked for the first time in months; green tea muffins with lemon-ginger icing. When Hilde wakes up again later, we have Netflix to watch, rather than regular TV.


*Too Much Information? Perhaps, but it seemed appropriate, even more today than other days.

#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 04:52 PM:

It took several days to get through to friends living in New York City. One lived (still lives) on the Lower East Side. When I finally reached him he said "Well, the view from my window is a bit different now."

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 05:46 PM:

#3 Erik

I don't know about the Pentagon having a personality change (though I will comment that the more senior the folks there, the farther they are from the outer walls, with the very top people in the very center ring). In the natural course of military duty most of the people who were there on the day would have been transfered to other stations over the subsequent years, so that by 2003/2004 there'd be almost no one (other than civilians) who was there still working at the Pentagon. Also, in the military, a part of the baseline is the knowledge that tomorrow you, or your buddy standing beside you, could be violently dead. It's part of the job description. It's what you signed up for.

As to Wall Street, I've long been of the opinion that much of the strangeness of the Bush years was due to PTSD in the surviving financial community.

#47 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 06:03 PM:

Tracey: Happy Birthday!

#48 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:13 PM:

I've found a file I wrote that Thursday so that I'd remember clearly that day and the few days around it, and excerpted it in a public Google+ post.

I was working in Princeton, NJ at the time, so nearly all of my contact with what happened was through the news media or other people getting phone calls from NYC. Still, if you want to avoid remembering that day, consider this a trigger warning.

#49 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 07:13 PM:

Happy birthday, Xopher and Tracie!

#50 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 09:57 PM:

I'd intended to avoid 9/11 coverage entirely. Somehow it failed to occur to me that I work Sundays at a newsradio station and that special programming would be involved.

The retrospective (using the actual audio from the coverage of the day) isn't too bad, with continual overdubs of who is speaking and that this *is* a retrospective. The live coverage of the ceremony at the state capitol was appalling. Seriously? You need people from Animal Control to speak? And a children's choir singing "This Little Light of Mine" about as well as could be expected? And are all the public officials of California really that horrible at public speaking?

Anyway. Nice picnic this morning, though a bit windy. Happy birthday to Xopher and Tracie!

#51 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 10:08 PM:

Daniel @48 -- Interesting: we appear to work in the same industry. BTW there is a typo in your post, at the top it says "recollections of Septeber 8-13, 2011".

#53 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2011, 11:28 PM:

I am of the firm opinion that at least one Wall Street scandal was revealed because in the aftermath of a firm losing key personnel in the attack, well, people had to make an accounting of past business, and discovered *irregularities*.

That, or the opposite -- those with consciences who came to work early and thus were lost were the ones most needed to reign in the slackers who later committed said irregularities....

#54 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:15 AM:

I am of the firm opinion that at least one Wall Street scandal was revealed because in the aftermath of a firm losing key personnel in the attack, well, people had to make an accounting of past business, and discovered *irregularities*.

That, or the opposite -- those with consciences who came to work early and thus were lost were the ones most needed to reign in the slackers who later committed said irregularities....

#55 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:57 AM:

Here, at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival, each screening today was preceded by a short film in which actors, film makers, and administrators discuss how the events ten years ago affected the 26th Toronto International Film Festival, which was disrupted for an entire day before returning to normal. (Well, almost normal: they canceled the parties, because they didn't want to be frivolous.)

I feel a little bad for the people in the film. Each of their comments, taken in isolation, is perfectly reasonable. It's just when you put them together, when all you have to talk about in your 9/11 memorial is the effect on the ongoing film festival, that it becomes grotesque.

#56 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 01:44 AM:

Patrick, thanks for linking that Onion article. I still tear up reading it. It's probably the most compassionate satire I've ever read. You're right: we were all her. My "wandering from room to room" happened at the office, and my "cake" was the various web development projects I was trying to log just an inch of progress on, here and there, so that the day would have some meaning for me beyond the terrible and obvious, but otherwise that was absolutely me.

I had remembered that it was Xopher's birthday. Now I also know that it's Tracey's birthday, too, among others. Happy birthday!

It's my mom's birthday in two days. For several years after 2001, I kept forgetting her birthday, because I was aggressively repressing the knowledge of the days of the month until the annual media circus was behind us. She voiced her annoyance about this when she turned 59. "If you forget to call next year, I'm going to be very upset."

It was a lovely day here in Boulder. John and I had one of our all-too-rare long bike rides together. We got to hang out with a friend just back from Denmark and hear her stories of the trip. We drank tea and played/worked on our computers. And we pretty much ignored what day of the month it was, without my having to forget my Mom's birthday. The number's starting to lose its grip-of-dread on my mental conception of the month.

It occurs to me to feel fortunate that my football team played Thursday, not today. The anniversary therefore did not dominate the narrative. They kept talking about the change to the kickoff rules, as they will pretty much all season I'm sure, but they didn't mention 9/11.

#57 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 05:40 AM:

27, 28: And if, by chance, anyone should need the link to "110 Stories."

Though of course it should be linked from the post. Got nothin', indeed.

#58 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:55 AM:

I didn't bake a cake: I milked the cows

Yesterday I worked on stripping/seasoning cast iron, nursing an injured person, and baked some salmon.

It was grey outside, and pretty nice in.

#59 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 10:18 AM:

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald:

Could you expand on your theory about PTSD and the financial community?

#53 ::: cgeye:

If The Quants shows a picture of the financial community beyond the young, ambitious, technical analysts, then you shouldn't identify virtue with showing up early.

The Quants were energetic and worked extremely long hours. It's just that they were irresponsible and wrong-headed.

That book blew away my semi-humorous theory that part of the financial crisis was people working such long hours that they couldn't think about what they were doing. In fact, they believed they knew everything fundamental they needed to know, and I don't think you could have stopped them from working those hours.

#60 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 10:18 AM:

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald:

Could you expand on your theory about PTSD and the financial community?

#53 ::: cgeye:

If The Quants shows a picture of the financial community beyond the young, ambitious, technical analysts, then you shouldn't identify virtue with showing up early.

The Quants were energetic and worked extremely long hours. It's just that they were irresponsible and wrong-headed.

That book blew away my semi-humorous theory that part of the financial crisis was people working such long hours that they couldn't think about what they were doing. In fact, they believed they knew everything fundamental they needed to know, and I don't think you could have stopped them from working those hours.

#61 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 10:22 AM:

Apologies for the double post. I'm not sure how it happened-- that is, I don't think I went through the posting process twice, but I won't swear I didn't.

#62 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 11:57 AM:

Sorry for not being here this weekend, folks. I'm one of the people who went into a major depressive episode post-9/11. I've been avoiding the coverage this weekend, except for a show about the making of the memorial in NYC -- which was fascinating (but I'm crazy about water features...).

Belated "Happy Birthday" to Xopher and Tracey, and in passing I should say "Happy Anniversary" to friends who celebrated their 11th yesterday.

I lit some candles, made offerings to Chenrezig and Tara, and watched some football...and ran errands...and I wept a little too. But thank Goddess, I seem to have achieved some balance...

#63 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:07 PM:

ANother major New York anniversary occurs today--on September 12, 1609, Henry Hudson began his ascent of the Hudson River, which he would travel up as far as what is now Albany. Paul Goodman wrote a poem about it (three pages long; the site is slightly wonky and may have problems showing the pages in order). Those acquainted with the area will be able to agree that beautiful as the river is, it is not the Northwest Passage to India.

#64 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:44 PM:

Thanks for the link, Fidelio -- the start of that poem looks very promising and I hope to read all of it later on... interesting tidbit about Hudson's voyage here, that he was hired to chart an Northeast Passage through the Arctic Sea and only came to America because he couldn't get through the ice.

#65 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 12:49 PM:

Thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes.

#66 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 01:22 PM:

I tried to avoid all 9/11 anniversary coverage as much as I could. I just didn't have the energy to stand up to the inevitable emotional manipulation -- and definitely not to stand up to the inevitable attempts to justify and glorify the actions our government took in the years following.

The next 7 years were, in my mind, the Crazy Years. Not in the Heinleinian sense (well, not exactly). But it often seems like those attacks fractured reality, and the US government and a large number of US citizens slipped into an adjacent universe where Saddam's WMDs caused 9/11 and torture works. We could still see each other and interact with each other, but reality was different in that universe. I kept counting four lights, but they told me it was clearly, objectively true that there were five.

It was a beautiful bright blue day outside when the girl in my 8:30 physics class told us a jet had hit the World Trade Center. I had no idea, no conception at all of what that meant. All I could think about was a small-plane accident. No one else seemed to have any idea, either; the professor looked confused for a moment and then turned back to the blackboard.

I walked back to my college dorm in the strangest liminal state, poised between dread and calm. I wasn't panicked. Nothing bad could really be happening. She'd made a mistake. No one else had been upset. But she'd looked so frightened. Maybe something huge had happened and most people didn't know yet.

Then I walked into the dorm parlor and turned towards the TV to see a jet crashed into the Pentagon. The girl in my class was mistaken, I thought. The jet had hit the Pentagon, not the WTC. So I opened my mouth and said "But I thought they got the World Trade Center?"

"They got the Pentagon too," said one of the girls watching the TV.

That was the moment for me when everything fell apart, when everything stopped making sense. I backed away and said "Oh, shit, oh, shit" and fled upstairs to find someone I knew to tell me what the hell was going on. Eventually we understood what happened that morning -- but by then everything else had fallen apart.

The anniversary coverage, all the stories -- none of that helps it make any more sense to me. It doesn't help explain anything. It just brings me back to that feeling of being completely helpless and nothing making any sense at all.

#67 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 01:28 PM:

My memories of 9/11 are mostly of relief -- that my sister, Twosie, wasn't on one of those planes because she was due to land in Newark's airport shortly after the first plane hit -- followed by frustration with the news stations. I wound up getting most of my info from the BBC's web site. I was at work and could only get info via the internet.

Last year another sister, Kiki, died on September 10th. As a result, that 9/11 anniversary didn't register with me. This year, I went along on a cancer follow-up (still clear) with Maggiemae (another sister) on the 9th, attended a baby shower for one of Kiki's soon-to-be grandkids on the 10th, I played with the nieblings on the 11th. I didn't have (or want) the TV viewing time.

#68 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 02:02 PM:

New alternate-history satire on The Onion:

U.S. Commemorates 9/11 By Toasting Stable Afghan Government From Top Of Freedom Tower

Brilliant. Savage. Heartbreaking.

#69 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 04:28 PM:

I was at work that Tuesday, with the radio playing music at my desk. Then there was news: "a plane has flown into one of the WTC towers". Nothing else.

I called my wife at home and asked her to turn on the TV, a plane had hit the WTC. Was it cloudy/foggy, I asked. She had the TV on now, "no, she said, not a cloud in the sky". She described the scene, all of a sudden she just stopped.

"I just saw another plane, a BIG one, fly into the other tower," she said kind of shakily. She saw the towers collapse as well.

One was an accident, two was an attack. As the reports came in she'd call or email links to me; no one got much work done that day.

#70 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 05:41 PM:

our church held a memorial service for all the dead. The lesson drawn in the sermon was that we need to love one another, enemies and Muslims included. This is a deeply conservative church, in fact an Orthodox one. It's curious how radical the message of Christianity really is, and how thoroughly it can be forgotten.

The dates I remember:
June 16 1976 was the massacre at Soweto.
May 20 1983, in related news, was the car bomb at Intelligence HQ. I should have been there on the street, but luckily our regular Friday meeting had been cancelled.
"every house is a candelabra
where the lives burn each in its separate flame,
and each of our unthinking footsteps
makes its way over the Golgothas of others."
(Borges, tr. WS Merwin. )
As for footsteps, so for days..


#71 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 07:07 PM:

September 11 is notable for a lot of things. If you're Chilean it's the date of the coup which overthrew Allende. If you're Egyptian or Israeli it's the date of the signing of the Camp David Accords. If you're a baseball fan it's the day Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb in all-time hits. If you're from Hawai'i it's the day Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai.

#72 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 07:07 PM:

September 11 is notable for a lot of things. If you're Chilean it's the date of the coup which overthrew Allende. If you're Egyptian or Israeli it's the date of the signing of the Camp David Accords. If you're a baseball fan it's the day Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb in all-time hits. If you're from Hawaii it's the day Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai.

#73 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 07:17 PM:

If you're Irish it's the date of Cromwell's massacre of the people of Drogheda (1649).

#74 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 08:43 PM:

1. I also deplored the media frenzy of the past 72 hours, but then had the cheery thought: this is the last of it. Because no one cares about 15th anniversaries, and at 20 we'll all be too busy flying our jetpacks.

2. My wife and I were married on April 19, 1986. Which was just fine until 1993 and after. Fortunately that particular date's public associations appear to be disappearing in the rear-view mirror, please God.

#75 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:02 PM:

@73 - Does it help that I'm a bit vague on which of the late-April media atrocities happened on that particular April 19th?

The last ten or fifteen years have been predictable for someone to commit an atrocity somewhere in the latter half of April. I've come to expect getting uneasy right around Tax Day [1] and not quite relax until after Beltaine.... [2]

[1], [2] - April 15th and May 1st, noted for the non-observers of same.


#76 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:10 PM:

fidelio @63 -- Thanks! What a great poem (now that I've read it). I didn't know much about Goodman besides Growing up absurd -- his would-be-100th-birthday was just Friday. He also wrote another poem about the Hudson.

#78 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2011, 09:24 PM:

Flying while brown on September 11.

Summary: Two Indian men and a Jewish woman, coincidentally seated in the same row of an airplane (none of them knew each other), are handcuffed, jailed, and strip-searched because someone reported "suspicious activity". Which appears to have been (1) going to the restroom and (2) using a cellphone in "flight mode" to update Twitter.

We used to be better than this. We SHOULD be better than this. Whoever made that false report should be doing jail time, or being fined for the amount of money wasted, or both.

#79 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 12:11 AM:

#78: The putz who reported them will probably be hailed as a hero among movement conservatives.

#80 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 02:13 AM:

Lee @ #78, Stefan @ #79, when I linked to that at Google Plus I wrote "Forget the idea that the guy on the plane next to you might be a terrorist. Instead he might be a prospective member of the American version of East Germany's Stasi."

#81 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 06:39 AM:

a fine art memorial of 9/11, a bargain at only 50 smackers.

#82 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 09:37 AM:

The Modest Kid @76--I love the Hudson poems; I encountered Goodman's poetry in an anthology by Hayden Carruth back in the 1970s. Even now, when I hear or read "Hudson River" I find myself thinking "the lordly Hudson." Sometimes "that has no peer in Europe or the East" follows after, sometimes it doesn't.

#83 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 10:45 AM:

fidelio @82:

Moon river, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style someday...
Old dream-maker, you heartbreaker,
Wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see--
We're after the same rainbow's end
Waiting 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend
Moon river...and me.

I like Mancini best.

#84 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 01:04 PM:

Lori @83 which reminds me of this anecdote which starts at around 38 secs in.
QI, such gems...
Dragging myself on topic, I just want to thank you all, I avoided this weekend's coverage as much as possible, but many of you have reminisced in fine and good ways about what should be remembered and how, both in this thread and others. Thank you, I am grateful to be a lurker here.

#85 ::: JO'N ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2011, 01:58 PM:

A little later in 2001, NPR had an interview with the editors of The Onion. Weekend Edition's interviewer asked if there were any articles that the Onion didn't run because they went too far. They answered, "Yes, we decided not the print the interview in front of the Quadragon."

I was driving my car at the time, and I laughed so hard that I came very close to hitting a parked car.

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