Now This Log

Archives: October 2001

Saturday, 13 October 2001

A couple of minor local stories that won't get play on the big networks:

Man who shot at Metro officers, sprayed liquid held without bail [NBC 4]

Reagan National: 'Go' Before Flying [WTOP]
Passengers are advised to visit the restroom before they leave because it's off limits on the plane for the first and last 30 minutes of the flight. Passengers must stay seated during those periods.
permanent link

Here's my suggestion for the day. I'm surely not the first to think it... in fact, it's obvious, really, but clearly it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves yet, or the wrong people are in control, or something.

The news ticker that now runs at the bottom of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News almost all of the time has proved useful in conveying relevant factlets or even entirely other stories while the main screen delivers mostly talking heads in the main part of the window.

But when ads come on, the ticker disappears and, really, that's usually when I switch channels to check another news station. Keeping the ticker on the screen all the time would make it more likely that I'd just leave the channel where it is.

Why does the ticker go away during ads [he asked him knowingly]? Surely advertisers prefer it that way; some distracting (or even tragic) story might run across the bottom of a short film intended to convince you that (a) people judge you by your car and (b) yours isn't sexy or mysterious enough. Surely they would lobby against losing the bottom one-twelfth of the screen.

But so what? Who's in charge, the advertisers or the network and its mission? Don't bother answering that. permanent link

I'm looking for good up-to-date sources of online local (DC-area) news. CNN and MSNBC don't cut it when you want to know what's happening right now in downtown Arlington.

Here's my batch of links so far; I may make a portal page out of it somewhere if I get enough:

Washington Post Metro / VA / Arlington / PrintSupplement
WTOP Radio / Local
WTTG (Fox 5) / Local
WJLA (ABC 7) / DC / VA / MD
NewsChannel 8 / Local

I've enabled comments for this thread; do you know of more places to get timely DC/VA/MD news, or other portals I can grab some links from? Please post them here. permanent link

Verizon DSL customer service line: "At this time, on October 12th, the Eastern region is experiencing a NOVOUT [sp?], or 'no-connectivity' issue [ungood!]. Our technicians are aware of the issue and are working to correct it as soon as possible."

Bother. This happens annoyingly often and for too long at a time. The funny thing is, usually they mention a particular state or city that's down; this time it was the whole Eastern region? Yeesh.

It came back after twenty minutes (though who knows how long it was out before I tried it). Bah. This isn't what they advertise. permanent link

Friday, 12 October 2001

The Register takes care of a whole batch of mail hoaxes at once, including one just like the Halloween shopping mall one from yesterday:

The World Will End Tomorrow
That's right - it's all going to kick off on Saturday. Tell all your friends and then run for the hills.

Or, if you've already received another version of this email: where the Arab drops his wallet in a cab/pub/pole-dancing club; where he gives the date as 28/30 September or 1/5/10 October; or where MI5 turn up at your door with a really big book of wanted terrorists, you might want to reflect on the net hoax phenomenon which can reduce otherwise rational people to headless chickens.
permanent link

Thursday, 11 October 2001

Clearly somebody overheard something bad:

FBI: For Immediate Release
October 11, 2001

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office

Certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days. The FBI has again alerted all local law enforcement to be on the highest alert and we call on all people to immediately notify the FBI and local law enforcement of any unusual or suspicious activity.

The URL for the press release contains the string 'skyfall'...?

Update: Declan McCullagh reports that the FBI won't explain the name but will change it:

FBI Warns of 'Skyfall' Attack [Wired News]
A harried FBI spokeswoman who had been deluged with calls about "skyfall" said the answer was none of the above -- and the press release soon would be renamed.

"The person who typed it just named it that.... The person named it and wasn't really thinking," the FBI spokeswoman said.

Aha, I see. So that's just the first thing they naturally thought of to name it, instead of, say, "alert.html". It was a complete accident. Riiiight.

'nother Update: It's been moved now: permanent link

Time for some more debunking.

An e-mail's going around warning against being in a mall on Halloween. It tries to gain credibility by stating that the source of the warning also knew in advance of the September 11 attacks. There are numerous problems with this scenario's plausibility, and the FBI has stated that there is no truth to it.


This story fits neatly into the genre of a number of similar rumors about helped terrorists or compassionate Arabs who are moved to offer specific warnings about upcoming attacks, and thus should most likely be dismissed as just more of the same. ... Such snippets of lore swing on the belief that those who have foreknowledge of destruction to come would jeopardize the outcome of those events by warning others. Terrorists may very well form friendships among the folk they've temporarily taken on the coloration of, but friendship stops at the line where it might interfere with operations. To think otherwise is to surrender to a form of naïveté that can only be characterized as appallingly wishful thinking.

WTOP (DC-area news station):
The FBI has checked out this e-mail and determined that it is indeed a hoax. ... The urban legend about an attack at a mall on Halloween has been around for years ... Investigators suggest if you get this e-mail, delete it.

Found through Google:
1. The story is a typical urban legend type story from a FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) and these tend to turn out to be old stories that are recycled  (and sometimes updated to fit new concerns) and have little or no basis in fact.

2. If this woman was going 'steady' with this chap then surely he would be aware of any travel plans she had? So, no need for the warning about air travel on the 11th.  Unless this is just a way to add to the shock factor of the story? Many similar 'Warning' urban legends exist that this technique is used in, to great effect, but that does not make the tale true, just more spooky.
permanent link

TV odds & ends:

Tonight on the Daily Show: ABC journalist John Miller (the one who interviewed bin Laden for Esquire). That should be good.

Given a choice between Ed and Enterprise at 8:00 Eastern on Wednesdays, I'm going with Ed. Enterprise has underwhelmed me with its first two episodes. Maybe I'm too old, or maybe the plots are just too thin, or the characters too annoying. Anyway, Ed's premiere last night was firmly in the 'above-average television' bin, where it often is. And Phil's back!

The West Wing's premiere ("Manchester, Part I") was annoying. Some sort of cue that we were jumping four weeks ahead or back would have been nice; instead they just repeatedly cut between the timelines as though they were happening simultaneously. You could deduce pretty quickly which timeline you were on, but I fail to see what the back-and-forth really added; would a straightforward timeline have been too boring? Would it have made weaknesses in the plot even more glaring? It probably all works better if you see Part II right afterwards, but that's not how NBC's doing it this time. Bother. permanent link


Anyone who reads comics and is a Garth Ennis fan; do yourself a favor and skip Fury, Marvel's new MAX series (supposedly for mature readers). It's filled with garbage that doesn't even rise to the level of 'gratuitous'; obscenity, degradation and violence are the sole content of the story, and it all only serves to ruin a good character.

In fact, I'd be surprised if the dialogue was actually written by Ennis. Anybody who read Preacher or Hellblazer knows that any Ennis character who swears does so both memorably and well; Ennis' ear for dialogue is usually golden, to mix metaphors. Fury reads like someone (the editor?) removed all interesting turns of phrase and just shoveled in more f-words until there was nowhere else to put one. Not to mention the various clumsy ways we're shown that Nick Fury is such a tough, virile, heartless, etc. guy. (Wasn't he a good guy once?) It's sewage, and I'm sorry I paid money for it. Rating: 0 out of 10.

Alias, on the other hand (another in the MAX line), is a solid 5 out of 10; interesting setup for a series, competently told, with a nice complication at the end. It's average, mildly entertaining stuff. Next to Fury, though, it's Sandman, The Usual Suspects, and the Mona Lisa rolled into one.

New illustration of Captain America by Frank Miller, for the upcoming WTC benefit book Heroes. permanent link

Wednesday, 10 October 2001

Released today: The FBI's list of most wanted terrorists, with photos. permanent link

I haven't traveled on Greyhound for as long as I can remember; possibly I never have. Jessamyn's experience makes me want to keep it that way:

Greyhound, What Gives?
Not only wasn't my bag checked, no one's bag was checked, no ID was checked and no security other than the bus driver and baggage handler was in evidence. My bags were never inspected and I brought them on and off the bus with me several times. When I was in Cleveland, I checked my bag instead of carrying it and received no claim check and showed neither my ticket nor my identification.

[...] I tell people my bus driver picked up a hitchhiker and they laugh like hell, then they shudder.

[...] p.s. As I searched your website for a mailing address for this letter, I noticed that you have removed all links to information concerning the accident and your response to it, including the information that I read regarding the planned security upgrades. The press release that I had read concerning the accident is not listed in your news section. I find this curious, if not downright deceptive.
Oy. By the way, she's right; as of right now, any information about the recent fatal crash of a Greyhound bus due to a nut with a knife is not immediately evident on the front page or listed in the news release section or in the FAQ. Ummm....hello, corporate web team??

United and American were (and are) both better than this. permanent link

Tuesday, 9 October 2001

FBI chronology (via Bump):

Boston Division of FBI Seeks Assistance
Sometime on Monday afternoon, September 10, 2001, [hijackers] ATTA and AL-OMARI departed Boston, Massachusetts, and arrived in Portland [Maine] later that same day. The FBI has developed a chronology of the activities of ATTA and AL-OMARI while in Portland.
[...interesting timeline...]
The FBI asks anyone who has seen these individuals in Portland, Maine, on the evening of September 10th and/or the morning of September 11th and can provide additional information, contact the Boston FBI at (617) 742-5533.
permanent link

The West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael" struck me as mediocre but not as horrible as others have said; reading the criticisms, though, I can't say I really disagree with them. Here are various reactions:

'West Wing': Terrorism 101 by James Poniewozik [TIME]
In the end, you have to wonder whether it ever occurred to Sorkin that it might be the slightest bit insulting to essentially represent the home audience, within the story, as schoolchildren, who need to be gratefully taught his lessons.

But most important is that it was attempted at all. Whatever the deficiencies of the script, the very idea of interrupting a serial drama and using its characters in a one-time-only "play" — for this cause or even a lesser one — is the kind of fresh, quick-response thinking most of TV could use. At the least, it should serve as an example to other creative artists, who've thrown up the white flag, refusing to deal creatively at all with a time that demands their talents, pleading the irrelevance of art at a time like this — which is an insult to their art and their audience.
Terrorism is unhealthy for children and other living things: "The West Wing" preaches the obvious in its "bold" special episode. [Salon]
Let's face it: This is a liberal show, and it showed the limits of liberalism. I'm not part of the blame-America-first crowd, but a show with that much preaching could have had one sentence about the U.S. role in arming the mujahedin in Afghanistan, and then abandoning the country to its terror once the Soviet Union was defeated. ... [I]t also lacked the steely certainty about how to conquer this enemy that a more conservative-minded show might have portrayed.
I'm expecting the regular-season shows to be better. permanent link

UPDATE: It seems less serious now than initially thought:

Southern Ave. Metro Station Closed (updated 3:20pm Eastern)
...the people were complaining of nausea, headache and dry throat, which could also be symptoms of exposure to pepper spray, which officers used while trying to take the man into custody.
Being not that far from here, this is worrisome:

Suspicious Incident at Md. Subway
A Metro subway station just outside Washington [Southern Avenue, on the Green Line] was closed Tuesday after an armed man scuffled with a police officer and a jar with an unknown substance fell onto the platform, officials said.

Fire department hazardous-material teams in protective rubber suits responded after several people reported being sick.

Mark Brady, a Prince George's County Fire Department spokesman, said a man dispensed some type of product in the subway station. "That product made people on the train sick, with dry throats and nausea," he said. About 15 people were isolated.
permanent link

Monday, 8 October 2001

Simultaneous events don't happen
We are isolated temporally
And a part is never called the whole thing
Though it bothers us to know it's so

Every man is made of two opinions
Every woman has a second half
And it's samba time for Tambo and Weep Day for Urine Man
-- "Weep Day", They Might Be Giants (who else?), Then: The Earlier Years

I have no editorializing to do about our retaliatory strikes, except to say that I never expected the Bush administration to wait 26 days before blowing things up, and I give them credit for taking a pretty good amount of time to decide on a measured course of action and at least try to build some consensus instead of going off half-cocked.

As I walk, I think about a new way to walk
As I think, I'm using up the time left to think
-- "It's Not My Birthday", They Might Be Giants, Miscellaneous T

permanent link

AOLTimeWarner and others are blaming the attacks for their poor financial results, even when it stretches credulity:

Terrorist Attacks Can't Be Blamed For Everything
Every spin doctor and special pleader has figured out that the "Osama Excuse" is the mother of all alibis. Not since "the dog ate my homework" have so many corporations and politicians used the same, lame excuse. // Bad profits? Blame bin Laden.

Washington is wallowing in Osama excuses, which have been trotted out to justify giving federal loan guarantees to car rental companies, restoring tax write-offs for three-martini lunches and even offering new tax deductions for Broadway theater tickets. // Wall Street is just as eager to blame bin Laden. Since AOL Time Warner's initial invocation, software makers, health care providers, rent-a-car companies and a big supermarket chain all have lined up daily to lament that the terrorists have taken bites out of their business.

Probably good news: Pakistan's Leader Purges Top Ranks Of Military, Spy Services
Musharraf's sudden overhaul ... was intended to rid his security agencies of top officers unwilling to abandon their support of militant Islamic groups and to prevent them from undercutting orders to sever Pakistan's ties with the Taliban, the sources said.

[T]wo hard-line officers who have resisted Musharraf's demands for compliance with U.S. requests to attack the Taliban -- intelligence chief Ahmad and the Army deputy chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Muzzaffer Usami -- privately submitted "premature retirements," according to military officials.

United Airlines Restricts Number of Carry-Ons [to 1] permanent link

Sunday, 7 October 2001

Tony Blair's statement

Bush's announcement of strikes

Text of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's news conference today

Text of Bin Laden's statement today

Networks Ignore CNN Embargo On Middle East News Channel's Footage of Attacks On Afghanistan [INSIDE] permanent link

Emmys canceled [CBS announcement] permanent link

New Harry Potter movie stuff in this weekend's U.K. Papers (including new photos), via the leaky cauldron:

The Sun: Potter's owling success
[Richard Harris/Albus Dumbledore]: "We read some scenes together and when I finished, Daniel said to me, 'That was quite a good reading. I think you’ll be good in the part.'
"Lord, to have that much confidence at his age. I don’t have that much now."

Sunday Times: On the set of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone [multipage]
The big, obvious stupidity [the studio] could have inflicted on Harry Potter was to Americanise him. In fact, this is said to be what Steven Spielberg wanted to do to him.

It is said that Spielberg wanted to set the film in an American high school [gack!] and have Harry played by Haley Joel Osment, the very American child star of The Sixth Sense, and now Spielberg's own AI. Cheerleaders are said to have been involved.

Because of the need for every one of the 2,000 children involved to be educated every day, each cast member has to have doubles, trebles or even quadruples to ensure that filming isn't held up. Each one of these has to have the same hair and make-up.
permanent link

Links, exploration and
synthesis from
Steve Bogart

Mug shot
photo by my wife
If you want to be e-mailed when there's new stuff here, say "add me."
Archives by week

October 2001

Older Archives:
2001 (Aug-present)
2001 (Jan-Aug)
2000 | 1999 | 1998


Search log since Aug. 2001:

Ye olde Amazon wish list
Powered By Greymatter

How's my HTML?
How's my CSS?
[Archive Index] [Main page]

Home - Log - Services - Writing - Media - Links - About