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Five Years After 2006 Edition

The Muslim Attacks

It was five years ago today when I arrived at my ex-employer to start another work day and was told by my co-workers (whom shall be ever nameless) that two hijacked passenger jetliners flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. I later learned that the Pentagon was likewise attacked, and that another jetliner was forced down in Pennsylvania by its passengers to prevent the plane's hijackers from carrying out their mission.

I was driving in the employer's van to and from Warsaw. All along the route I saw long lines and extreme prices at gas stations reminiscent of the energy crisis of the 1970's. (Fortunately the van already had a full tank of gas.) I called my parents, who were supposed to be in Indianapolis to catch a flight to Las Vegas, to find them at home because their flight has been canceled. All flights were canceled throughout the United States. The country was paralyzed for several days.

I wrote to a cousin of Katie's to learn whether Katie was okay, as I thought she was still in New York. I learned that she had long left New York before the Attacks, teaching in Pittsburgh while being treated for cancer. The knowledge of her disease I kept to myself til the day she died.

Where I live things returned to normal. Gas became plentiful, and prices dropped down to near normal levels. I learned of the utter collapse of the two towers (the only good that has come from the Attacks). I read of the heroic efforts of the New York cops and firemen rescuing survivors from the towers just before their collapse, despite an utter lack of tactical support. I also learned that the hijackers were Muslim fanatics aided by Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network — the climax of a decade of growingly violent Muslim reaction against American troops on Muslim holy soil in the Persian Gulf War.

I also learned that the one federal agent who was apparently the FBI's only expert on al-Qaeda reasoned that al-Qaeda was planning something like this; but the agent was a misfit in the culture of the FBI and stepped on too many toes. He was driven out of the FBI. He took a job as security chief of the World Trade Center; and, most ironically, died at his post.

Then came the aftermath.

I am not surprised at the overall reaction to the Attacks. We have been using up the moral and social capital inherited from a pre-World War II Judeo-Christian America for decades. Without that capital to rest on our freedoms floated in mid-air; it is only fitting that a serious crisis such as the Attacks made our freedoms fall down and break. And while the Muslim Attacks have brought out much that was best in many ordinary Americans, they also brought out the worse in our nation's leaders: They have been exposed as lying craven posers whose corrupt and incompetent dealings ensure for us and for our heirs a harsh and bitter future. Those posers would have been restrained by Congress and public opinion if not for the Attacks; and in this those murderous Muslims did far worse damage to our country than knocking down a couple of crappy skyscrapers and killing three thousand people.

Caitlin Clarke

Last Saturday was the second anniversary of the passing of Caitlin Clarke.

During the past year the only major Katie-related events were the passing of Katie's mother and the release of the appropriate seasons of Moonlighting and Northern Exposure, from which I got clearer images of Katie in action.

There were few messages about Katie, mostly from people just finding out that Katie is no longer with us. The messages, however, are becoming fewer; and I suspect that in a year or so I will be getting as few Katie messages as I had gotten before her passing.

I have heard no more about the script for the play in Katie's honor performed at the memorial service two years ago. Katie's cousin never heard of it. I could ask Katie's sister, but I'm betting that she had heard of it. I can only conclude that the script is like a publication of Lewis Black's Hitchin'/One Slight Hitch: Nonexistent.

Katie noted in the last published article on her while she was with us that stage actresses have a tougher time at auditions because there are fewer parts written for women. You would think, therefore, that women performers are more like professional strawberries, spending their whole lives crying, Pick me! Pick me!. But that was not how Katie thought of her own career; she thought of it the way the best craftsmen thought of their crafts — as a sacred trust.

Anyway I have sent my yearly fifty-dollar donation to the Caitlin Clarke Memorial Scholarship at the Pittsburgh Musical Theater.

Home Box

My attempts to remove the GRUB booter from my home box have failed. I have had to back up my personal files to a DVD. Then I started the long, long process of installing Windows XP Home on my computer.

One of the good things about the reinstall is that the even though I have backed up the personal Web site, the site itself is safe because it is on a separate partition. At least that was what I thought at first.

I installed Windows XP my home box, and got as far as installing ZoneAlarm, which then got in a fight with the native Windows firewall, slowing my computer to a crawl. Worse, I forgot that my home box came with XP Service Pack 1, for which my computer informed me that support will expire at the end of October.

I will give it another go, and this time I will install Service Pack 2 and my security package before any updates.



Packets of info I received from the local librarian during the Friends last Saturday pretty much make it official: I am now a trustee on the Board of the Fairmount Public Library. Part of my duties will be to help in getting the town a desperately needed new library, for which the earliest stage — a feasibility study — is now complete.

Book Sale

I have signed up for counter work at the local Book Sale during Museum Days. I will work on Friday five to eight; on Saturday noon to two; and on Sunday helping to pack the books away in the late afternoon.

Good Thing

It is good that Wikipedia demonstrates a moral spine when others cave in to the threats of the Chinese State. Of course, Wikipedia is a non-profit, so it can afford to be moral, to do no evil (rather than gas about it as a certain company does).

Jimmy Wales has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive Wikipedia entries. He challenges other Internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing. Wikipedia has been banned from China since last October. Whereas Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo went into the country accepting some restrictions on their online content, Wales believes it must be all or nothing for Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information.

Copyright © 2006 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 11 September 2006.