AmericaBlog: "What the hell is our obsession with remembering September 11? We remember it, ok. I don't need a TV commercial to remind me of that day or how I felt. I was there. It took me a long time to get over it. And I most certainly don't need my politicians, or anyone else, trying to drag me back to that day kicking and screaming several times a year as if I don't remember it, and as if it's somehow healthy to keep bringing it up."
But anniversaries matter, in the same way that round numbers matter in casualty reports, and of course people will use these dates and numbers for political advantage, and of course that doesn't mean they don't matter.
Remembering 9/11 means remembering who attacked us, and who didn't, and what we've done since then. It means remembering the people who died, and the people who responded bravely, and the people who are still hurting, and what we all lost that day in terms of freedom and peace of mind.
I'm not especially keyed to anniversaries myself (although I live and write in a culture that is, and I react to that), and I don't need an ad campaign either. I certainly don't grant the Bush administration ownership of that day, and I don't want it turned into propaganda for Bush or Bush-bashers.
But it's coming, soon, and it's a big round number anniversary, and there will be no avoiding it.
Olbermann starts smart ("The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.") and then goes over the top himself.
ITG's merger with Safety Components International seems like a good thing for Greensboro, in that we keep the HQ and local guy Joe Gorga will run the combined operation for Wilbur Ross.
I attended a state-of-the-local-economy presentation earlier this week (no, not this one). The economist running the show said that despite popular perceptions, furniture manufacturing has declined only in rough proportion to overall manufacturing -- that is, it's down a lot from North Carolina's industrial heyday, but not like textile manufacturing, which, in the economist's phrase, "has had its guts ripped out." Globalization is one key factor in that gut-ripping, but labor-saving technology also plays a major role, and the US still produces a surprising amount of textiles.
Ross says in the N&R article, "[T]here is some place for some level of textile manufacturing in the U.S."
"Some place for some level" ain't going to turbocharge Greensboro's economic renaissance, but being the home of a billion-dollar public company is helpful nonetheless.
I asked the economist if there is a plausible optimistic scenario to be found in Greensboro's numbers, which show modest growth and relatively low unemployment despite the whole gut-ripping thing. He said yes, if there is smart public investment in things like education and infrastructure. That reminded me of a recent lunch I had with a local businessman who boosts Triadism. I argued that Guilfordism is the key, we should cooperate with Winston-Salem to every extent possible, but our horizontal city from Burlington to Thomasville is the emerging regional reality, and our public policy should focus on creating the best schools in the nation and a reputation as green as Portland's...
And I look at Cary, the boomtown sparked by SAS, and I think about this post, and wonder if our next big company is already chugging along in obscurity.
Anyway, the ITG news seems like incremental progress, which beats further gut-ripping by a long shot.
WSJ on bloggers who can't take a break. I'm not in the same league as the featured writers in terms of traffic or income, but I'm pretty damn compulsive about my blog, and I realized a while ago that sometimes you just have to put the thing down. (Okay, I blogged my vacation this summer, but that was different...)
Slate's Stuart Taylor Jr says the New York Times' coverage of the Duke lacrosse story is "[w]orse, perhaps, than the other recent Times embarrassments. The Times still seems bent on advancing its race-sex-class ideological agenda, even at the cost of ruining the lives of three young men who ithas reason to know are very probably innocent."
Sally Greene has an interesting post about photography and the relationship of art and politics.
Sally asked me if Lisa's photographs are artistic, political, or both.
I'd go with artistic, given the emphasis on shape, color, and composition, and the unsentimental way she has of finding beauty in unlikely settings, and based also on conversations with the artist.
But there is a documentary quality to Lisa's pictures, too, and they must make some statement about her adopted hometown and its place in the world, although I don't think Lisa dictates that statement to her viewers.
Peter Boyer has a long article about Duke, the lacrosse-team rape case, and campus culture in The New Yorker.
"The fact is that it’s the basketball coach, Coach K, who’s the most powerful person at Duke, and in Durham, and maybe in North Carolina—much more powerful than the college president himself. So Brodhead—I mean, there was almost this kind of ritual humiliation, this ritual obeisance, or fealty, that was required of him."
Orin Starn, the sports-anthropology professor, is less sanguine. Duke, he says, has become “this place that’s sort of divided against itself. On the one hand, you have this university that wants to be this first-class liberal-arts university, with a cutting-edge university press, these great programs in literature and history and African-American studies, that’s really done some amazing things over the last twenty years, building itself from a kind of regional school mostly for the Southern élite into a really global university with first-class scholarship. But then you have another university. That’s a university of partying and getting drunk, hiring strippers, frats, big-time college athletics.”
Hoggard sez, "Bad maintenance dooms another city owned building."
Kinda hard to argue with those pictures of a big-ass tree growing through the brick wall. In the comments, the relevant City official offers to meet Hoggard at the site, so there should be more to this story soon...
Bad review of the day, by Michiko Kakutani of Jonathan Franzen's new memoir, The Discomfort Zone: "Just why anyone would be interested in pages and pages about this unhappy relationship or the self-important and self-promoting contents of Mr. Franzen’s mind remains something of a mystery. In fact, by the end of this solipsistic book, the reader has begun to feel every bit as suffocated and claustrophobic as Mr. Franzen and his estranged wife apparently did in their doomed marriage."
Samantha Shapiro in Slate: "Ismar Schorsch, the outgoing chancellor of New York's Jewish Theological Seminary, kicked off his retirement with a graduation speech that was the religious scholar's equivalent of Zinedine Zidane's World Cup head-butt...he offered his honest appraisal of Judaism's Conservative movement, which he helped build: Basically, it stinks!"
The headline is snarkier than the article itself: "BMW’s Custom-Made University." The issues raised are real, but one of my strongest impressions as I read the piece was, damn, I wish North Carolina had South Carolina's auto industry and a North Carolina school had that research center.
A recent post on local "Minuteman" Reagan Sugg's NPR interview led to a comment about a speech Sugg gave earlier this summer to a local Rotary club. I asked several members of that club who heard the speech to characterize it. The consensus on Sugg's speech was highlynegative.
However Sugg fits in with the overall plans and message of the Minutemen, he did not win the group many friends that day.
Ze Frank: "Because many of us are participating in the creation of information, we understand the amount of noise that comes with it. The very knowledge that details are missing allows us to consume lower-quality information."
Greg Lindsay in MediaBistro on "the changing power dynamics between the working press and self-publishers, i.e. the MSM and the bloggers. As more and more subjects and sources for stories become publishers in their own right, the temptation to pre-emptively publish spin (or counter-spin) increases. Is that fair to the journalist who came calling, and is it reneging on the unspoken agreement that the source will lend his or her words in return for ambiguously positive exposure?"
The piece includes a look at last summer's dust-up between the N&R and Tom Phillips, who scooped the paper on its own story on economic incentives.
Joe Killian visited the Gun and Knife Show at the Greensboro Coliseum. "Apparently people who are selling Nazi flags, bronze busts of Hitler and Rommel and stocking 'The Turner Diaries' in the non-fiction section (all of which we saw) don't like having their pictures taken."
What's the bigger story on tonight's TV news, reports that DNA from that weird dude who said he killed JonBenet doesn't match the DNA found at the crime scene, or the geez-that-looks-something-like-a-civil-war fighting between Shiite militia and Iraqi troops?
I guess if you like history books you've probably already read David McCullough's 1776, but I just got around to it, and I recommend it highly. It's a brisk read, and our boy Natty Greene comes off very well.
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent
since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially
notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an
average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a
nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.
a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the
nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording
the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest
share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”
the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising
value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall
compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last
summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep
pace with inflation, according to government data.
At the very
top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive
raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to
keep average income and consumer spending rising.
The campaign in favor of Greensboro's latest bond issues has launched a blog, which seems like a good thing, but all posts are signed only by an anonymous admin on behalf of the large committee, which is somewhat less appealing.
UPDATE: Skip Moore has now announced himself as one of the writers, which is good because it makes the site more personal and because I am a fan of Skip's, and I think the admin will be personalized soon, too.
Sydney saw the movie, World Trade Center. She said the saddest part was the set-up, as the people got ready for work without knowing what was about to happen. She knew the stars were going to survive, but that sense of loss to come really hit her.
I wish our 12-year-old did not have to be so wise.
Our kids got a heavy dose of 9/11. They were 10 and 7 when the towers came down, and in other households with young kids among our Greensboro friends there was an effort to shield children from the news and its import.
There was no chance of that at our house.
We were on the phone constantly from that first morning on, and parked in front of the TV when not on the phone, and then we were driving to New York for Doug's funeral, and then flying up for Calvin's funeral. Their cousin Quentin has always been a big part of their lives, and New York is familiar turf for them. We shielded and sheltered and hid emotions behind closed doors, but the reality was unavoidable.
I'm glad Syd saw the movie. It worked for her. It helped a bit, I think.
Given the season, we've been talking off and on for a couple of weeks now about loss and sadness, Sydney and Elijah and me, we've talked to my mom, who has buried two husbands, I've talked about our friend G, who works at Cantor now with Howie and all those ghosts. Tonight at dinner I told them that I could not have imagined five years ago how sad I would still feel today, but I still don't want them to know quite how sad that is.
Hardin: We now know roughly when one of the Big Four teams will rise up and win another ACC football title.
...Eventually, the ACC got tired of watching the national powers take all
the football money every year and bought its way into the big time.
the process, it killed Big Four football forever. Not that it was that
good to start with, but it seemed more fun when the stakes weren't so
high. Three years ago, the conference voted to start playing football.
Duke and Carolina were against it. Wake was for it. State didn't
understand the question.
The NYT reports that performances for US troops by a dance group known as Purrfect Angelz "have occasionally stirred
some controversy. During the group's 2005 visit to Baghdad, a female
Air Force officer complained that the dancers' wardrobes and routines
encouraged insensitive attitudes toward women in the military."
The Times demurely neglects to link to the Purrfect Angelz site, but fortunately we citizen journalists are here to pick up the slack.
The appropriateness of soft-core gymnastics in a war-zone aside, that promo copy and the use of a Billy Squier song in the video make me wonder if the terrorists have already won...although I guess this guy is happy.
A solid take on Survivor's new season, in which competing tribes are formed along racial/ethnic lines, from commenter brian444 over at Allen Johnson's blog: "I'm shocked that reality TV would stoop to such tactics."
Tierney says American drug-warriors who proclaim Dutch drug policy (taxation and regulation instead of prohibition) a failure are flat-out wrong. "The Dutch generally use drugs less than
Americans do, according to national surveys in both countries (and
these surveys might understate Americans’ drug usage, since respondents
are less likely to admit illegal behavior)."
NYT reports on the Duke lacrosse rape story that "an examination of the entire 1,850 pages of evidence gathered by the prosecution in the four months after the accusation...shows that while there are big weaknesses in Mr. Nifong’s case, there is also a body of evidence to support his decision to take the matter to a jury."
The Hartsville Today cookbook on people-powered journalism at small newspapers "covers everything from the multitude of early decisions about design and content to the rigors of getting people involved, sales and the technical aspect."
Meanwhile, The Economist weighs in with a report on newspapers in the age of the internet, opining that "most are still too timid, defensive or high-minded."
Both are must reading for the participants in the ConvergeSouth journalism sessions.
Bruce Schneier: "Our politicians help the terrorists every time they use fear as a
campaign tactic. The press helps every time it writes scare stories
about the plot and the threat. And if we're terrified, and we share
that fear, we help. All of these actions intensify and repeat the
terrorists' actions, and increase the effects of their terror."
I've taken my usual pedantic Englishmajor approach to the wrongness of the phrase "Islamofascism." Matt Yglesias, writing at TPM, points to a more practical problem with the usage, that it takes "a set of institutionally and ideologically distinct actors...and treat[s] them as a single
phenomenon...[T]o call it a
mistake is not to deny the obvious fact that these are groups that are
to some degree interrelated...Nevertheless, they are different things. And the essence of
sound strategy has long been to look at potentially hostile actors and
try to divide them. To decide what your top priority is and focus on it. The 'Islamofascism' rhetoric is part of a continuing campaign to do the reverse."
Doug Clark points to a Hendersonville Times-News article about John Edwards stumping for Heath Shuler -- and about the political differences between the two men, notably Shuler's anti-abortion position. Good for the Dems if they can pull off some ideological diversity...
Doug also suggests that Shuler's strong statement of support for veterans may indicate that he's not against the war in Iraq, but that seems like a stretch to me. Supporting veterans, and active troops wherever they may be deployed, doesn't have to mean supporting policies over which the troops have no control.