Tuesday, September 12, 2006

World visitors

One of the things that I find fascinating about the internet is, of course, how international it is. I've recently linked to Sitemeter, which can display recent visitors to a website on a world map. I just discovered visitors from the following countries:

Syria (Damascus) - looking for the poem "Rami's Wall."

Egypt - looking up "Enoch Metatron"

New Delhi, India - looking up "terrorism, islam & politics in india."

Hanoi, Vietnam - looking for "why terrorism has its origins from islam"

Someone from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation looking for "Carol Valentine"

Cluj, Romania - a discussion in Romanian or Hungarian which appears to be on Israel and the Pulsa Denura (I often get referrals from people looking for information on the Pulsa Denura). The same discussion was the link for someone from Szeged, Hungary, and another person from Budapest, Hungary.

Prague, Czech Republic - on the film "Memory of the Camps," shown on PBS.

Haguenau, Alsace, France - looking for Berakhot 3b

Lisbon, Portugal - Pat Robertson and Ariel Sharon

All in all, the subjects that led people to my blog aren't that surprising, since they include many of the topics that I write about - but it is still surprising to me how people from across the globe find their way to my blog.

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Later

Last night I dreamt about the attacks on September 11 - actually, I dreamt about how to talk about them in my classes (which is something I didn't plan on doing). In my dream, I had an elaborate plan to talk about how different all the various views of September 11 are and how they reflect different interpretations of history.... but that's not what I want to think about now.

Last night I tuned in very briefly to the ABC production on "The Path to 9/11," but didn't watch it. I also didn't watch the documentary film on CBS - footage from the day itself, not a made for TV movie. I think I saw it when it was first shown in the fall of 2001. I just couldn't - it was too raw. I still remember clearly the first images on television that I saw that day.

I woke up late on September 11, 2001. I didn't have to teach until 5:30 p.m. that day, so I could afford to sleep in a bit. I woke up shortly before 9 a.m. and was lying in bed listening to the local news station. There was something strange on the news about a plane hitting a building in New York, but then the local host didn't say anything about it. I got up and went downstairs to turn on CNN. That's when I saw the Twin Towers burning. The second plane had just a hit a few minutes before. I was watching television when the plane hit the Pentagon a few minutes later. I watched the collapse of the two towers within the next hour. I remember standing and watching with my hands on my face - I could not believe what I was seeing. Eventually, I went to work, and people were wandering around in a daze. I cancelled my 5:30 class, because no one could pay attention - students wanted to try to reach their friends and relatives in New York (which was next to impossible that day, because the phone lines were jammed).

So no, I don't need a made-for-TV movie to remind me of what happened - it still unrolls in my mind the way it happened on that blue September morning, not so long ago.

W.H. Auden, on another day in September:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night....

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone....
From Auden's poem, "September 1, 1939"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Revisionists

The fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is coming up on Monday, as everyone knows, and I've been thinking about how to write about them. Apparently some people see the terrorist attacks as a way to further their own crazy conspiracy theories.

Last night as I was driving to a friend's house, I saw a young man on the side of the road holding a sign which read: "9/11 - An Inside Job?" Also on the sign was a reference to a website - www.prisonplanet.com. Since I was on the way to a Shabbat dinner, I tried to forget about this outrageous sign and focus on more pleasant thoughts.

Tonight I looked up the Prison Planet website, and found this wonderful trove of anti-semitic documents: Prison Planet - 9/11 Prior Knowledge Archive. I wonder if the young man holding his sign knew about the anti-semitism of his favorite website?

This was not the only occurrence of the 9/11 conspiracy theories in Ithaca. Our local newspaper, the Ithaca Journal, published an article by a Paul V. Sheridan also pushing the argument that there's no proof Osama bin Laden was connected to the 9/11 attacks. The Journal is not one of the most sterling examples of journalism produced by the Gannett chain, but their publication of this op-ed piece was definitely one of the low points in the Journal's history.