Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Ground Zero

Friday Night Links

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* The absolute craziest thing I’ve ever seen: Berkeley Researchers Turn Brain Waves Into YouTube Videos.

* Even news that the laws of physics have been overturned pales in comparison. I know, I know: Bad Astronomer, xkcd.

* Louis talks to the A.V. Club about Louie: 1, 2, 3, 4.

* Paul Campos: “The law’s absurd formalism was part of its strength as ideology.” Precisely. This insight applies to many more aspects of the legal system than the revolting spectacle of our contemporary system of capital punishment, which in a case such as Davis’s — which is not in this respect was not unusual — psychologically tortures the defendant, the defendant’s family, the victim’s family, and others connected to the case for literally decades before producing what the system then has the temerity to call “justice.” (The climax of this spectacle last night involved Davis being strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm for nearly four hours, waiting for various legal personages to respond to the question of whether, all things considered, it was finally time to stop his heart with state-administered poison).

That we tolerate this kind of thing so readily helps explain, in its own way, why it sometimes seems impossible to do much of anything about the absurdities and dysfunctions of the system of legal education that legitimates it in the first instance. Or perhaps it’s the other way around: perhaps we tolerate the absurdity of something like the 22-year “process” that resulted in the horror of Davis’s final hours because we ‘re socialized from the beginning of our careers in this system to accept all kinds of absurdity and injustice as natural, inevitable, and therefore legitimate.

Reading this I was reminded of Duncan Kennedy’s excellent article “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy,” which Corinne linked the other day on Twitter.

* Ground Zero Mosque opens without controversy. It’s almost as if the objections to this were complete bullshit.

* I’m steadfastly not paying attention to the GOP primary, but this is pretty astounding, even by Republican standards.

* DOJ: Rick Perry’s Texas Redistricting Plan Purposefully Discriminated Against Minorities.

* Why Is TV Suddenly Overstuffed With Buxom Bunnies, Sexy Stewardesses, and Charlie’s Angels?

* How long—how long must we sing this song? Forty years, give or take.

* Genetic sequencing indicates Australian Aborigines may have been the world’s first explorers, leaving Africa more than 60,000 years ago.

* Taxpayers in the San Francisco area spend $2,762,295 each year in junk food subsidies, but only $41,950 each year on apple subsidies.

* Speaking at a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the Maldives, the TckTckTck campaign, and the U.N., Greenpeace International President Kumi Naidoo argued that the path to a sustainable future will involve peaceful, popular civil disobedience. “The struggle for climate justice is not a popularity contest,” he argued. He said the lesson of the Arab Spring, and the history of struggles from suffrage to civil rights to the end of apartheid, is that change only comes when decent men and women are willing to risk their lives and go to jail in peaceful protest.

The world’s rudest hand gestures.

Great Lost Pop Culture Treasures.

And Chris Ware on your iPad. Have a good weekend.

Mad Men Season 11, Hallucinogenic Spores, and Adamantium Bones

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* Put This One finds a wonderful image from Mad Men, Season 11. (Thanks, Jacob!)

* The Chicago Tribune explains why doing research in the archives is so fun. The answer may surprise you! Hint: Fungus on books, they say, is a likely source of hallucinogenic spores.

* The American Family Association ups the ante on the whole “Ground Zero mosque” pseudo-scandal: No more mosques in America, period.

* The Founding Fathers never intended to separate church and state. And they were 17 feet tall and had adamantium bones.

* Rachel Maddow on the war on brains.

* And Political Wire brings the news that we’re actually going to eliminate birthright citizenship: 49% of Americans already want to, before the fools and liars in the media have even had their chance to beat the drum.

* The climate situation is just obscenely dire.

* And just in time for our triumphant return: Huge hand-drawn panorama of London, 1845.

Why Is There Still A Hole at Ground Zero?

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At TPM, Paul Rieckhoff asks: “Seven Years Later: Why Is There Still A Hole at Ground Zero?” I actually wrote a little bit about this myself at the end of a paper on 9/11 for a class last year. Here were my thoughts.

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Although I grew up forty miles from New York City, I was in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 11, 2001, finishing my senior year of college. From the time my father called to wake me and let me know about the first attack, I watched the news coverage nearly continuously. I remember, vividly, the chaos, the violence, and the uncertainty, but I also remember events which are no longer referenced, the phantom attacks: false reports of car bombs on New York Bridges and outside the State Department, threats and evacuations across the country reported once and then never mentioned again. In Cleveland, at least, it was initially reported that United 93 had crashed into Camp David; the anchor also told us that there were as many as 20 planes out of contact with the FAA still in the air and that any number of them—possibly all—could have been hijacked. One of the planes forced to land at Cleveland Hopkins airport was raided (on live TV), believed to have terrorists aboard; this was later revealed to have been entirely a false alarm.

In the face of so many reports, only four attacks becomes something like a relief—the violence of that day might have been so much worse. It might have never ended. And yet the deluge of phantom attacks, attacks which seemed to have happened but which never actually did, which like the collapse of the Towers themselves have been put under erasure, have left us for a long time with the foreboding sense that another attack is always just around the corner, that at any moment the world will again be shattered by terrible violence. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Department of Homeland Security’s threat level is, after all, always “Elevated,” if not “High”; nightly news reports regale us with wild possibilities of where the terrorists might strike next, anything from blowing up the Hoover Dam to poisoning local gumball machines.*

This feeling of permanent, unmitigated existential threat may have diminished somewhat since September 11, but it has never really left us, and it feeds into the sensation of temporal loop caused by the day’s reconsumption as a spectacle. Though the attacks lasted only a few hours on one very devastating morning, on the level of the symbolic—on the level of spectacle—they remain ongoing and unending. This is why, I think, Freedom Tower, long scheduled to be built on the ruins of Ground Zero, remains unbuilt and perhaps in some real sense unbuildable. We remain deeply embedded in the singularity; although time passes, it cannot progress. More than anything else, this loss of temporal perspective, the foreshortening of memory itself, is the psychic cost of the refusal to come to terms with September 11, the cost of rebranding the shocking anti-spectacle of September 11 as the spectacle of “9/11” and consuming it anew, over and over again. On the level of the spectacle, the towers are always smoking; though we all saw it happen, we can never allow them to collapse.


* I’m partial to this story because it concerns the town next door to the town in which I grew up, and because it involves the most ludicrous potential terror attack I’ve heard of. Stories like this one have aired across the country since September 11—perhaps, somewhere or another, every single night.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 11, 2008 at 10:52 pm

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