05/16/2002

Currently Listening To: The Tom Tom Club and "Genius of Love," a song I like much more now than I did when it came out. Damn that stupid One-Hit Wonders show...

Currently Watching: The next-to-last episode of Buffy. (I guess that technically it was the third-to-last episode.) And I'm still shuddering at Warren the geek's fate. Not that I feel badly for the hateful little dweeb, but damn that was brutal.

Also, the latest "Magic Secrets Revealed" show on Fox. They're debunking the whole "David Blaine frozen in the block of ice" trick. I love stuff like this. Yes, I like it when I know how the magic tricks work. I also read spoilers for my TV shows well in advance of the episode. Life already has enough surprises.

Currently Pondering: How utterly surreal it felt for me to sit at my desk in Washington DC this afternoon and watch my friend Ted eat his lunch in New Orleans via the Acme OysterCam. I even had some of my coworkers intrigued.

Sometimes this durnfangled Internet thing can still amaze me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What More Do You Want From Me?

My work area in the basement, complete with my "view" of the New York City skyline the way it always should be. Yes, it's all corny and sentimental of me. I don't care.

Before the bitchfest, a quick cat update: Turns out that Rascal went into insulin shock last week because he experienced an interesting quirk of feline diabetes: sometimes, it spontaneously goes away. The disappearance is only temporary, but it does happen and nobody knows why. Unfortunately, the first indication most owners get that this has happened is when they give the cat its insulin dose and the cat goes into shock. Which is where we came in last Thursday. So. Now he's a diabetic who isn't a diabetic anymore, at least temporarily. Not giving Rascal his insulin is doing terrible things to my nerves, but he seems to be doing okay.

So that's some good news. I guess. I really hope we're not setting ourselves up for another crisis when the diabetes decides to reassert itself but I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, as we have so many times before.

Today, I was reading USA Today and found this Walter Shapiro column: "We're so complacent it's almost scary." I just love that "We're;" already he assumes that he's reading my mind, and that's always the way to warm my heart when you're trying to get me to see things your way. I knew what was coming, and I wasn't disappointed: You, yes you, aren't worried enough about another terrorist attack. We're all gonna die, and you best turn off your computer now and hide under the bed. God, how can you just sit there like that? Aren't you worried? Don't you care?

I don't mean to pick on Mr. Shapiro, but I've heard this sentiment expressed many a time since the events of September 11, and as he's put himself front and center with this column, I'm singling him out. Americans have just gotten too goshdarn complacent about the possibility of another terrorist attack, or so he and his ilk claim.

I guess things were better back in September and October, when I couldn't hear a police siren or a plane overhead without flinching a little, when my daily walk to work included greeting the National Guardsmen stationed on every DC street corner, when people were freaking out if someone left spilled Sweet 'n' Low on the floor of the office breakroom. The people who complain about complacency never express what kind of an emotional state they think is better for their fellow Americans, but this must be how they liked it. We sure weren't complacent back then. Panicky and hysterical and shrill, yes, but complacent? No way.

Like I said, I've seen this kind of sentiment expressed fairly frequently, and it always leaves me with this question:

Okay. We're not scared enough anymore. So ... what exactly is it that you want us to do?

Sen. Bob Graham, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, reflected the consensus viewpoint when he told USA TODAY this week that another attack on American soil is ''a near certainty.''

Pretty bold and specific prediction, no? Take that, Nostradamus.

Tom Ridge, the homeland security director, broods that the nation has become too complacent. ''The threat is real,'' he warned in late April. ''It's as real as it was seven months ago. In fact, it's a permanent condition to which this country must permanently adapt.'' But how do you adapt to the fear of the unknown? How do you plan for the future if there is a real but remote chance that all you hold dear could be obliterated in an instant? It is fine for the government to recommend color-coded vigilance, but how do you react on that day when we are confronted with Code Red?

Excellent questions! It'd be even more excellent if Shapiro or Ridge or Graham offered any options whatsoever to the complacent souls like me who've had the nerve to get on with our lives, but they don't. Shapiro offers some poll numbers that sound like a pretty high number of Americans are actually fairly worried about another terrorist attack (76% ain't hay), but that's not good enough for him:

These polls -- indicating public concern about terrorism but not intense feelings of personal threat -- should be balanced against evidence from popular culture. Certainly, no one getting Botox injections worries that the future will bring anything more dire than wrinkles. And the web-crawling exploits of Spider-Man suggest that urban superheroes face far more immediate menaces than terrorists.

Botox breeds complacency? Spidey doesn't care about terrorists? Huh? Now I'm really lost.

Forgive me, but I'm sick of this shit. There, I said it. I'm sick of people complaining that we aren't freaking out over anthrax, or hiding in our homes instead of going to work, or glaring intently at people in turbans, and therefore we've gotten too complacent. The mere fact that I'm not cowering under the bed or refusing to go out without my gas mask and my Cipro doesn't mean I'm not aware that another terrible attack could happen next week. Guess what? I've lived and worked in the DC area, if not in the city itself, for most of my life. And I've always been aware that I'm living in an area that's bound to be one of the juiciest targets for an extremist with a bomb, or a gun, or a warhead. I've always known that on some level, and yet my knowledge that I wasn't truly safe here didn't stop what happened to the Pentagon or the World Trade Center.

And I'm sick and tired of the pompous exhortations to "Never Forget." Tell me: Who the hell could possibly forget? Nobody I know, and nobody I want to know. I still mull over everything I experienced that day. I still wince involuntarily whenever I'm watching a show or a movie and the World Trade Center pops up in the landscape. I don't flatter myself that I'm all that different from most of us in that respect. I'm not going to forget, and I don't think you are either.

Yet there are risks in dismissing the latest anti-terrorist warnings as simply Washington scare talk. (Who's doing that?) It is not healthy for the government alone to bear the burden of thinking about the unthinkable. (The government, and only the government, is "thinking about the unthinkable?" That's bullshit, and highly offensive bullshit at that.) If nothing else, we should squarely face the reality that we are living in times that try men's and women's souls.

All right. Fine. Some time in the future, there will be another terrorist attack on the US. It might happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or next decade, but when it does I'm sure people like Shapiro will be the first in line to cluck "See? I told you so!"

Okay. You win. Someday, something really bad is going to happen again. Is it okay with you if in the meantime, I acknowledge that unless I actually overhear terrorists plotting the next attack it's unlikely I'm going to be in a position to stop what's coming, and therefore I might as well live my life? May I? Pretty please? Do you mind terribly?

The next entry.

Previously, in Insomniaville...

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