[This is actually the second draft. I wrote the first draft sometime last month, but Felisa snickered over my shoulder as I was writing, so it's gone now. I wrote this over a period of several days during quiet bits at work, and I figure a month is more than long enough to procrastinate on posting it.]
I've been trying since the 11th to come up with something to say, without much success. There really isn't much to say about the attack itself, but I think there are a number of consequences which need to be considered by the United States and the world.
The attack, clearly, was a monumentally evil act — some would say we have even seen the face of evil glorying in it — but it provided an opportunity for many people to perform truly noble and heroic acts. I can't begin to say how much I admire the men on United Flight 93 who succeeded in taking the plane down and preventing another massacre, at the cost of their own lives and the lives of those on board; the man who called his wife to reassure her of his survival, then went back inside to rescue coworkers and was never heard from again; and the numerous firefighters who rushed into harm's way to save those trapped inside.
President Bush has made some quite excellent speeches so far, provided he actually believes in the literal meaning of his words. He is also to be commended for actively combatting the overt racism which began to spew forth immediately after the attack. However, I still have grave reservations about the policies of the United States and this administration.
Bush has declared a "war on terrorism". This is a war with no clear region of conflict, no easily identified enemy, and no possibility of declaring victory or defeat. We are allowing ourselves to be placed in a state of war, one which need never be revoked, and one in which we will likely be asked to make increasingly onerous "sacrifices" of inalienable rights in the name of preserving freedom.
These sacrifices are already being made, without the consent of those being "asked" to make them. Our email will be read without the need for warrants, it will be illegal to protect ourselves from these ilegal searches, and any sort of "computer crime" (which, as we have recently seen, includes doing anything Bad on one's own computer) will result in being tried as a terrorist and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The tragic fact is that none of these restrictions will hinder bin Laden in the slightest. Perhaps he even welcomes it; after all, what greater victory could be accomplished than cowing citizens of the Great Satan into giving up their decadent and immoral liberties? Regardless, rest assured that the only ones who will be harmed by these laws are the innocent and law-abiding. He cares nothing about electronic surveillance; he has already shunned all electronic communications. Further searches, delays, and restrictions on airline flights are irrelevant; the terrorists were basically unarmed, and were well-dressed and carrying first-class tickets.
What happened on the 11th was tragic, cruel, and yes, evil. What many seem to forget, however, is that it has passed. The victims are dead, and we can do nothing to bring them back. It is up to us, then, to ensure that the living are not imprisoned in a dungeon of fear and speculation.
The United States of America likes to call itself "the land of the free and the home of the brave". If we wish this title to retain any legitimacy, we must realize that willingly flinging away our freedom in a vain attempt at gaining security will gain us nothing, and that even if it were to gain us some material safety, sometimes, tragically, freedom must be purchased with blood. And we must realize that there is perhaps no greater bravery than checking our mad desire to swing wildly at our unseen attackers, instead waiting patiently for the time when we may stop those responsible without creating more innocent victims.
I'm finally feeling well enough to go to work, after having been pretty much incapacitated for 4 days. On Saturday I had some minor coughing and nasal congestion, which worked itself up to a full-blown sinus headache with stomach pain and dizziness. So I didn't go to taijutsu, and I ended up staying home from work too. I went to work Sunday, but had to go home early after nearly falling straight over onto the floor. Monday was my day off anyway, and I thought I would go to work Tuesday, but anything more stressful than sitting upright caused headaches and massive dizziness.
So today I have a cough and some congestion, but I'm okay otherwise, and I figure it's time to head back in. At least I don't have to be there until 12:00. Oh, and if we donate $2 of school supplies to some school, we get to wear costumes to work. I'm going as The Guy Who Is Allowed To Wear Jeans And Sneakers To Work. I get along really well with most of the people at this job, but I do miss the working environments where I got to pick my own clothes, and listen to music while working.
So the whole argument about digital cameras got me thinking. I just bought an HP PhotoSmart 315, which will be free as soon as I redeem my points. One good thing about being in retail is getting discounts and rebates on gadgetry. Anyway, I've already filled the flash card up several times (and gone through a set of batteries already! time for rechargables), and I realized that I already follow the discussed behavior, to an extent.
Several times I've deleted pictures off the card to make room for more, and ended up being quite happy at being able to:
I've always been rather hesitant to delete anything, though, even old email. The only reason I'm doing so now is because of the small (8MB) flash card included with the camera; once I get a bigger one I probably won't do that. And I never delete the pictures off my hard drive once I've saved them. It seems so pointless, considering they're only ~900kB at the most. The oft-repeated story of photographers discarding their Clinton+Lewinsky photos doesn't strike me as a technological problem at all, but the standard problem of people assuming that if they couldn't see it at the time, it wasn't important.
I need to figure out the best way to start organizing and archiving these photos. I assume I'm going to be taking a lot of them.
Now off to sell some chairs.
Last modified: Wed Oct 31 10:07:11 MST 2001