Maybe it wasn’t a great idea to publish our top five movie picks just before going out to see another movie. Oh well. It doesn’t matter anyway. The film now in question wouldn’t have made the list, if you ask me.

I Am Legend sounds like an interesting concept. A virus-based cure for cancer goes horribly wrong, killing most of the population of the earth and changing the rest into insane, hairless brutes who happen to like human blood. The movie follows Robert Neville, a military scientist who thinks he’s the lone survivor. Normally this isn’t the kind of movie I would go to see, but I was intrigued by the “last man on earth” idea, the film’s trailer, and an invitation from Josh.

I didn’t enjoy Legend. A film doesn’t have to be enjoyable to be “good,” of course. Heavy subjects often aren’t enjoyable, but that’s not why didn’t enjoy it. There are a few heavy subjects, I suppose, but they mostly fall into the background of the film.

Most of the time, Neville is alone in New York with only his dog, Sam which he understandably treats like another person. The first third of the film feels a bit like Cast Away as we follow a day in the lonely life of Neville. He takes joyrides around the empty city in any car he likes, uses an aircraft carrier as a driving range, and talks to mannequins at a video store to keep from going crazy. On a more serious level, he is attempting to find a cure for the virus and make contact with any other survivors, but after three fruitless years, he’s beginning to get discouraged. At night, he goes home, locks up tightly and tries to sleep despite the distant wailings from the infected zombie-like creatures who roam the city at night.

Zombie isn’t really the right term. The infected people or “dark-seekers” look more like Gollum when he’s at his meanest and behave like Robert Zemeckis’s Grendel. They’re fast, limber, deadly, and noticeably CGI. That being said, they still scare the snot out of you even when you see it coming. The scary bits in this film rely on old tricks like popping out from the shadows, or around the corner, or… right behind you! It’s actually a little bit annoying that these simple tactics continue to startle you for as long as they’re employed. I doubt it would be scary to seasoned veterans of horrors or thrillers or if viewed on a regular TV with a regular sound system. So, ultimately, the film fails to be truly frightening.

More resonant are the shots of an empty, lifeless New York City. They’re extremely eerie. Empty cars line the streets. Signs saying things like “God still loves us,” and “We’re still human,” were apparently painted by the infected people before they underwent complete transformation. Beyond that, the film makes little attempt to humanize the infected and chooses to rely on them as instruments of fear. It would have been far more interesting and disturbing to have seen the transformation of normal people into these monsters, but no.

If there was supposed to be a message or purpose to the film, I didn’t get it. There are a few mentions of God. Neville uses the old “how could God let this happen?” reasoning, though later it is subtly implied that he has changed his mind. In a flashback, Neville prays with his family and another character evokes God’s will as her reason for doing things. But there’s nothing there that can be construed as the film’s overall “message”. It might be suggested that “don’t play God” is the film’s message, but if that’s the case then it wasn’t presented well at all.

Because the back story was told in flashbacks the movie centered on Neville and his quest to survive and save the human race. Frankly, there’s not much of a story in there. This all leads up to a disappointingly sudden ending. I, for one, was left wondering what the point was. Somebody started to clap when the credits began to roll, but stopped rather sheepishly when they realized nobody else was going to.

It’s a real shame. I Am Legend had potential. But there is too much of Neville sneaking around and getting surprised by zombies for any lasting meaning to shine through. Unfortunately, the best thing this movie’s got going for it is Will Smith.



The Year in Review, and My Thoughts on Stuff

[Edit] This is depressing, so only read it when you're in a really bad mood already. Or, if you're in such a good mood that it won't make a difference. You know, the kind of "bunnies and daisies" mood?-- J.D.

I wanted to post on this question: "Looking back, what stories will define this year? Put simply, what will the Encyclopedia editors feel forced to include in their synopsis of this year, if they even have a choice by then?" But then, I rambled on about a lot of different things, so it's more of a hodge-podge post than anything else.

From what I can tell, 2007 was the year that the American public finally accepted global warming and rejected the War in Iraq, building on top of the groundwork laid in 2006. This year was highlighted by the growing disillusionment with the government. People mention Bush's approval ratings (has anyone ever stopped to wonder what the heck the word "approval" actually means?) without stopping to realize that Congress's is even lower. How ironic.

This was the year that Atheism really gained some credibility in the mainstream. Christopher Hitchens, with his book "god is Not Great" (punctuation his), helped catapult the "God discussion" into the forefront, at least in my mind. The oddness of Hitchens' atheism is that he considers himself a "neo-con" and agrees with many "Conservative" principles, but he is a self-labeled atheist and anti-theist. Chris, if I may call you that (even if I couldn't I would), are you also an anti-deist? Meaning, do you dislike only the idea of a loving God who is involved in your life, or just the idea of a God period?

2007 was the year of movies. My goodness, so many movies. Most of the ones I saw were really quite good as well, which is unusual. AMC, I want a refund for that movie I saw 10 years ago. You know, Godzilla? I believe the ticket price was $3.50, not adjusted for inflation.

On a light note, it was also the year of the feud between Kanye and Fiddy. Come on guys! Get along. Everyone knows who's more "gangsta" and who can't rap. Arguing about it's not going to help anything.

On a heavier note, Bhutto was assassinated yesterday. America still supports Pakistan, even though Musharraf is a...well, frankly he's a word I can't say on this blog. Let's just say I meant "little rabid joke of a man" and leave it at that.

The two surprising political stories of the year? Ron Paul's rabid internet following (pray that translates into actual votes!) and the Huckaboom. Really, Mike Huckabee is my second choice, although I'm concerned that if he continues to use religion so blatantly, he'll get burned in the general election. If neither of these candidates wins, I'm voting third party. Seriously, I'm so sick and tired of the politics that this country runs on. I might move to Tahiti and watch the Land of the Free continue to crumble into the Home of the Meek. Probably won't be able to buy anything there though, what with the dollar as weak as it is.

A great man once asked us, "What can you say of a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive." Piggy-backing on that, I ask, "What can you say of a society in which more people care who's voted off the island than who's voted into the White House?" Not much, except this: Idiots.

It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. Excesses accumulate; freedoms dissipates. Hate rises; love sinks. We are the herd, not caring if we're heard.

For any further thoughts of mine on the government, see this video:

This was the year of the Gas companies. When will we get off oil?

This was the year of Al Gore. Inconveniently.

Putin was the man of the year. I narrowly missed being selected. I knew I should've upped the bribe.

If you're depressed now, wait 'til the end of '08, when Hillary's president. Oh, just you wait!

P.S. Love conquers all. Maya Angelou said it, it must be true.

2nd P.S. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul."-- A much better poet than Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson.


The Best of '07: Movies

Josh and I may be music "snobs" but we aren't quite elitist enough to be film snobs. In order to be a film snob you must adhere to the following guidelines:
  • Be skeptical of every single "popular" film that comes along. If the common folk enjoy a film, it is not fit for your snobbish consumption.
  • You must judge a film not on it's own merits, but the merits given to it by fellow critics.
  • You must never stray too far from the critical opinions of your fellow film snobs.
  • You must never enjoy a film. It is a piece of art to be taken apart, examined, put back together, and reviewed.
  • If the film's plot is strange, unpleasant, or otherwise made in such a way as will turn off the common people, you must favor the film.
  • You must watch the Academy Awards.
  • You must never refer to a motion picture as a "movie". That is a vulgar term used by the common people.
Neither of us could ever hope to be movie snobs - excuse me - film snobs. Unlike our music picks, you will likely recognize all the films we have selected here.


It was difficult to pick this year’s “best” film, but Ratatouille broke the stalemate between my top three primarily because it was the only stand-alone movie among them. As I stated in my review, I was skeptical about this movie when I first saw the trailer, but Pixar hasn’t let me down yet and Ratatouille is no exception. A unique concept, superb animated visuals, and compelling story make this a great comedy, drama, romantic-comedy—whatever it is—for all audiences. As cliché as that sounds it is true. There is something everyone will enjoy about this film if you allow yourself to get past the fact that it’s a cartoon about a cooking rat.

2. The Bourne Ultimatum

Of all the “three-quels” released this year, Ultimatum stands out as the best in my mind. Why? It got right what a lot of other “three movies” missed. A sequel should stay true to the core elements that people liked about the original. This means bigger is not always better. Sometimes bigger gets in the way. Indeed, Ultimatum doesn’t necessarily have “bigger” action sequences. Instead, it concentrated on giving fans of the first two films what they loved about the series. As a result, the Bourne Ultimatum was full of the extremely smart action found in Identity and Supremacy. Somehow, Ultimatum manages to be better without being bigger.

3. Spider-man 3

Although it had some problems, Spider-man 3 brought the trilogy to a very satisfying conclusion. The film has been heavily criticized as being having too many subplots, characters, and villains so I have a question. Since when is complexity a bad thing? It was complex, but not convoluted. I didn’t have any trouble understanding what was going on and I didn’t even feel like I needed to watch a second time just to understand it all as I did with the latter two Pirates of the Caribbean films. No, it isn’t a film you can just walk into without any prior knowledge of the series. It’s a sequel for crying out loud—a continuation. As a sequel, it performs marvelously. It is equal parts interpersonal drama and superhero action with bits of strange, but tasteful comedy thrown in. Finally, it ends on a bittersweet note giving the trilogy some necessary weight.

4. Amazing Grace

I have problems with a lot of “religious” movies. In general they’re too straightforward and preachy. Amazing Grace has a few problems, but it isn’t either of those. As this is the least known of all my picks, I feel like I should give a brief synopsis. Essentially, it is the story of William Wilberforce, a member of the English Parliament, and his crusade to end the slave trade. This might have made for a rather dull story had it been told in a strictly linear fashion. Fortunately it is not. The storytelling is rather clever, though some of the dots are too thinly connected making transitions awkward at times. The acting, however, is solid as is most everything else about the production. The writing is possibly the best part. Authentic British wit shines through making otherwise dull scenes in the House of Commons lively and subtlety humorous. It isn’t really a tear-jerking film, nor is it especially moving in a way that might be expected. In the end, it is more of a biopic or docudrama. One is not so much moved by how Wilberforce ended the slave trade in particular as by how he stood alone for a just cause when the entire political world opposed him.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Josh and I agreed that, despite falling short of our expectations, At World’s End deserved a place on our top 5. If nothing else, Pirates 3 is impressive as a feat of modern special effects, but it is not a good “Pirates” movie. It’s not all bad, certainly. There are some very good, memorable scenes in At World’s End and, for the first half of the movie, it feels very much like a Pirates film. The conclusion is truly a conclusion. It is nice that closure is give to each of the characters stories. With such a large and diverse cast of characters the film could have easily left out or shortchanged some of them, but it didn’t. Unfortunately none of that ended up mattering. At World’s End has a big problem. It neglects what made the original Pirates of the Caribbean great. It wasn’t the battles or sea monsters or the quality of the special effects. It was… Captain Jack Sparrow! It was swashbuckling fun and hilarity. It never got too dark, nor too bogged down in back-story. So while At World's End was an interesting, exciting movie, it was a lousy Pirates film.

The Best of '07: Music

We here at the Vanishing Blog take our music seriously. We don't like very much of today's music, because all of the artists put out work that is so mind-bogglingly similar to one another. Put simply, we're musically snobbish. Having a snobby attitude regarding what music you will listen to is the first step to becoming a music critic.

The second step to being a music critic is having your own music awards. Along the lines of the BRITs, the Doves, and the Grammys. A crucial part of having your own music awards is having a good name, though perhaps these two examples don't quite illustrate that. Normally, that name is an acronym. The VBMAs? Nah. Sounds too much like the VMAs... We don't need an acronym! We'll just call them a word that has nothing to do with music. We'll call them the Selavis awards. [Note: this is subject to change]

Third, you hand out the awards.

Fourth, you listen to the music.

Those last two steps, while inherent to classical music awards, will be flipped here, so that we can actually say that we kind of know what we're talking about. A small disclaimer: you may never have heard of any of these bands.

The Ground Rules:
1. All entries must be from the Calendar year of 2007.

2. The Album of the Year Award must come from one of the categories already handed out. So, let's say Infinity on High won the Best Mainstream Crud Album. This album would also be eligible for the Album of the Year, but for no other awards excepting Best Album Art, which it wouldn’t win anyway. It couldn't also win Best Rock Album, Best Emo Album, etc.

4. The Song of the Year can come off of the Album of the Year, but does not necessarily have to. [confused yet? I am.]

3. There are 5 categories: Best Album by a New Artist, Best Instrumental Album, Best Rock Album, Best Christian Music Album, Best Album Cover…aww, wait. This is getting way too complicated. Scratch that. These are the best five albums of the year:

1. Disappointed by Candy by Disappointed by Candy
2. Fortnightly by the White Rabbits
3. Cities by Anberlin
4. The Ringing Bell by Derek Webb
5. Marry Me by St. Vincent

So many bands put out really good albums in ’06 that they deserve honorable mentions: The Hush Sound (Like Vines), The Classic Crime (Albatross), As Tall As Lions (As Tall As Lions), Jars of Clay (Good Monsters), Mute Math (Mute Math), Portugal. The Man (Waiter: “You Vultures!”), Matt Costa (Songs We Sing).


Merry Christmas Eve!

Just a short video warning you to avoid certain people this Christmas season.



Oh dear. Once again, Hollywood is poised to ruin another great piece of literature by making it into a movie. Today, Peter Jackson announced that he will produce (but not direct) "The Hobbit" and a sequel movie.

For those that don't know, Jackson and New Line Cinema have been fighting about profits from Lord of the Rings for the past few years which is why production on the Hobbit was not begun sooner. They've now resolved that issue. I guess they decided it would be better to go out and make another fortune rather than fighting over the one they already had.

Personally, I didn't want Jackson to be involved making "The Hobbit." Although I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings films, I think he screwed them up a little too much with his "artistic licensing." Plus, I can't forgive Jackson for making what is quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen in the meantime (that would be King Kong, by the way.) However, it seems that he is just going to produce these films. The director has yet to be announced, but Spider-man director Sam Raimi has expressed interest in filling the role which is an interesting prospect.

It was pretty inevitable that this film was going to be made so there's no point in me complaining about it. But TWO? What's with that? Although the news stories I have read are somewhat confusing, I believe the Hobbit is going to be presented as one film and then there will be a sequel of some kind thereafter. Production will begin in 2009, the Hobbit will release 2010 and the sequel in 2011.

So, hold on a second. Isn't Lord of the Rings the sequel to the Hobbit? What's up with this? I don't want to jump to conclusions, but according to this article, the second film will be made up entirely by Jackson and his writers.

As "purist" fan of the books and the author, I deeply offended and outraged by the notion that Jackson has the right to do this. For goodness sake, people get mad at George Lucas for changing Star Wars, so what right does Jackson have to make up a new story within Tolkien's universe? None! Absolutely none! That would be as arrogant and silly as if Michael Bublé tried to record a new album in Frank Sinatra's name or if an artist tried to paint an new Rembrandt or if Steven Spielberg tried to make a Stanly Kubrick film... oh wait... that happened (granted, Spielberg had Kubrick's permission for A.I.).

Hollywood is the only artistic industry with enough arrogance to rewrite and reinvent other artists' material without their approval or consent. Why? I don't mean to be a cynic but... it makes money! That is the only reason Jackson is called a "visionary." He makes money. Money is the main reason for all of these sequels and remakes now being produced. That, and nobody can come up with any good ideas. So normally I would be in favor of Hollywood coming up with something original for a change. In fact, if Jackson wants to write a fantasy film, that's wonderful for him. Go ahead. But get your own world. Stay out of Middle-earth Peter Jackson you have no right to change it.


An Egocentric Post

If I was one of those pretentious, horrible writers who's vocabulary consists entirely of clichés, then I might begin this post by saying something like "You might have noticed something different about the blog..." but since I am not one of those people and I am more inclined to make fun of them, I have begun in this way.

So, yeah. New Christmas theme, finally. I'm not too pleased with it, but whatever. I don't have that much time to work on blog banners right now, so don't expect a New Years banner.

Oh yeah, and I changed the page background to white so we could have easier-to-read black-on-white text as requested by Fernando who I think I probably scared away by posting on the OLPC. Oh well... it's a change for the better, I guess.

I've noticed that all our posts this month have been pretty depressing. The Death Penalty, Despair, Inc... what's with that? It's Christmastime! That's gotta change. Anyways, I wish everybody a sufferable finals week if it is indeed your finals week.


Death Penalty (part 2)

Alright. So, several people were confused by my last post on the death penalty. Mercedes brought up the typical pro-death penalty argument: that the death penalty deters murder.

The argument goes something like this: 1. The death penalty's usage has increased over such-and-such period of time. 2. The murder rates over that same period of time have decreased. 3. Therefore, the death penalty has deterred murder!

This is hard to argue for or against, because of a rather nasty thing called logic. Any argument that says, simply, that the death penalty was instituted and crime went down, therefore the death penalty decreases murder is fallacious. Post hoc ergo propter hoc (for those of you who haven't taken logic, that means this then that; therefore that because of this). So, in order to say that the death penalty was factor that decreased crime over that time period, you'd have to conclusively prove that all other factors did less to cause this decline.

This may be a little confusing, so let me use a ridiculous example to illustrate what's wrong with this argument method. Carbon Dioxide emissions increased over the 1990s, and murder rates fell. Therefore, murder rates fell because Carbon Dioxide emissions increased. Begin to see the problem? No one would make that argument, because in our minds, those two facts are entirely unrelated. We say, "Hey, the death penalty has to do with murder, therefore there must be correlation between these two trends!" Not so. A convincing argument can be made that murder rates have decreased because abortions have increased. There's less people, which means both less people to murder, and less people that murder.

There are literally millions, if not billions, of other trends. Anti-depressant medications were increasingly prescribed. Trees lost their leaves earlier each year. The sun set an average of .5 seconds earlier each year. I'm making up these trends, but once you realize how many possible causes for one effect there are, you begin to see the problem with cavalierly claiming that one particular trend had the most effect.

Murder actually occurs less in states with no death penalty (3.1 murders/100,000) than in states with a death penalty (5.1/100,000). This is a fundamental weakness in this argument.

Another problem is that premeditated murder is a minority of all murders committed. Murder is often a crime of passion. A person is not going to think, in a fit of rage, "Oh, if I kill this person I will be executed. So I should stop." Humans don't work like that. Someone who is angry enough to kill someone is going to kill them, with or without the death penalty.

That's why I believe that particular argument is flawed. I'll post again tomorrow on this subject, specifically addressing the Bible and what it says.

The News is a Joke

Oh my. When I saw this "news" story, I couldn't believe that anything so stupid could have been reported by anyone with more than half a brain. Seriously, it sounds like the Onion. The headline alone should make any self-respecting journalist feel ashamed of their colleagues. And the story is even worse.

Story summary:
Australian scientists have determined that kangaroo flatulence (eww!) is more eco-friendly than the flatulence of cattle and sheep which contains harmful methane gas (which is blamed for global warming). Therefore, these scientists came up with the brilliant idea of giving "kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep" by transferring a certain bacteria to them which would eliminate the methane gas.

Okay... So let me get this straight. These scientists want to preform an unprecedented transplant of bacteria into the stomachs of animals vital to the agriculturally-based economies of rural Australia which may work and if it does it will decrease emissions which may lead to global warming which may exist. Maybe Josh is right. The world has gone crazy.


The Death Penalty

I have something I have to get off my chest. I recently did a presentation on the death penalty for a class. This post is going to lay out what I presented, and just my thoughts in general on the death penalty as it exists today. It's important to realize that, while I have major qualms about the death penalty's execution right now (no pun intended), I do not disagree with the concept itself. So here goes.

Only 2% of convicted murderers are given the death penalty--
This was pretty shocking to me. I had no idea that the number was that low. This seems, on a very basic level to be unfair to that 2%. Do we care? Many people have this to say on the topic of murderers: "Kill them. Fry them. We don't care at all!" It just seems to me that the number should be closer to 100%, if the system is to have any credibility.

The death penalty is used predominately on murders that occur in rural counties--
Well, this wasn't so surprising. I mean think about it. People in the "country" have more conservative values, generally speaking. One word here: Texas. Every county in Texas is rural, with the exception of the counties that hold Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Texas also executes the most people of any state.

But more than just Texas, this is a pattern that is present all across the United States:

About one-quarter of Ohio’s death row inmates come from Hamilton County, but only 9% of the state’s murders occur there- Willing R. and Fields G., Geography of the Death Penalty, USA Today, Dec. 20, 1999.

Baltimore City had only one person on Maryland’s death row, but suburban Baltimore County, with one tenth as many murders as the city, had nine times the number on death row- Montgomery L., Md. Questioning Local Extremes on Death Penalty, Washington Post, May 12, 2002.

In New York, upstate counties account for only 19% of all murders. However, they account for 61% of all capital prosecutions.- Capital Punishment in New York State: Statistics from Six Years of Representation, Report from the Capital Defender Office, Sept. 2001

This is systemic. Everyone needs to be tried in rural counties, or nobody should be. The fact is: rural juries are much more likely to grant the death penalty. You could tie this to any number of extenuating circumstances--lack of education (meaning the lack of liberalisation that occurs in many Universities), more "Christian"-- but it really doesn't matter
why it's happening.

Death penalty cases cost the tax-payers much more than life-without-parole cases--
Capital cases are almost twice as expensive than non-death penalty cases in Kansas.- Performance Audit Report: Costs Incurred for Death Penalty Cases: A K-GOAL Audit of the Department of Corrections, State of Kansas, December 2003. link

The cost of the death penalty cases, when factoring in all costs and averaging them per actual execution (not just the number of inmates on death row), is $24 million dollars in Florida. Similarly high numbers occur in New York and California.– Dieter R., Costs of the Death Penalty and Related Issues, Testimony on House Bill 1094 before the Judiciary Committee, Colorado House of Representatives (February 7, 2007). link

The argument is made that tax-payers should not have to pay to house murderers for life, when their crimes are so dangerous to society. I shouldn't have to pay to execute them, then! If you look at it from a purely financial perspective, the death penalty makes no sense. If you want to ease the burden on the tax-payers, use a life-without-parole system (or stop spending money on bridges to nowhere, but that's another post).

New Jersey, for example, has not executed anyone since the death penalty was re-instituted in 1976. Meanwhile, a New Jersey Policy Perspectives report concluded that the state's death penalty system has cost taxpayers $253 million since 1983.- New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission Report, January 2007. link

Poor New Jersians, or whatever they're called. That's arguably more wasteful than a bridge to nowhere...

The death penalty is too final; the government cannot ressurrect the dead--

124 people have been released from death row since the death penalty was re-instituted in 1976- Dieter R., Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty, A
Death Penalty Information Center Report, September 2004. link

This gets into proverbial gray area. The government says that they have never executed an innocent person. So, officially, there have been no innocents executed. This is kind of frustrating, because the government is not objective in this matter. They wouldn't, I believe, publicly admit something of that nature, because it would give the anti-death penalty advocates a leg to stand on.

This is going to end up being a mini-series--
I can't cover this subject in the depth needed in one post, without consuming too much time and without overloading people with information. That in mind, this has been renamed "The Death Penalty, part 1."

Next time, on "The Death Penalty"--
The justice system and crimes (versus the individual, or versus society?)

Arbitrariness (it's like being struck by lightning).

Crime and the death penalty (it does not stop murder).

The Bible and the death penalty (I wish Jesus had just said, "Lethal injections are cool and froody!).

Okay, that's a joke.


Despair, Inc.

You know those motivational posters with dolphins and windsurfers on them that say supposedly wise proverbs like, "You can't discover new continents unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore"? Well, someone pointed me to this awesome website called Despair, Inc. which sells the opposite. They call them "Demotivators" and the site provides this explanation for them:

MOTIVATION. Psychology tells us that motivation- true, lasting motivation- can only come from within. Common sense tells us it can't be manufactured or productized. So how is it that a multi-billion dollar industry thrives through the sale of motivational commodities and services? Because, in our world of instant gratification, people desperately want to believe that there are simple solutions to complex problems. And when desperation has disposable income, market opportunities abound.

AT DESPAIR, INC., we believe motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them. That's why we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!

Hilarious, but not for everyone. I'm warning you right now: some of you will think these funny, others will find them too cynical. I've selected some of the funniest ones below.

So there you go! A little bit of de-motivation just before finals and a little bit of despair just before Christmastime. Everything in moderation.


After browsing a bit more, I found this t-shirt.

Quite appropriate. It would make a great RamaHanuKwanzMas gift for the under appreciated blogger in your life.


Another One for the Children

So if you're the type who keeps up with technology at all, then you've probably heard about the One Laptop per Child campaign. I recently saw this ad for it:

Now, I've got nothing against "the children," but, seriously, who thought this up? I guess the idea is if you give a child a fish or clean water or an education or medicine, then you help him for a day but if you give him a laptop then he'll be able to, I don't know, engineer his way out of a bad situation? Am I the only one who thinks this is the dumbest charity I've ever heard of? Honestly, don't developing nations have more urgent, life-threatening problems?

Call me callous, but here's an idea: save the child's life before giving him a toy! If you're going to support a charity, may I humbly suggest supporting one that addresses a real need? Blood:Water Mission, for example helps to give people access to clean drinking water. Guess what? People can't survive without water. They can survive without laptops.


For the Children

I'm really not sure how to introduce this because, although we've certainly done "humor" before, we've never really done any original content. I have a very broad and strange sense of humor though. I don't expect everyone will find this as funny as I do.

So, to explain, this is my parody of a children's book. It was inspired by a Taco Bell meal toy (a book entitled Todd and the Talking Piñata Talk Kindness) and a friend's trip to the planetarium. I guess that's all the explanation it needs.

You can view it below in the fancy Flash viewer or download the PDF here.


"Aright Honourable Member"

This is an amazing video.

I wished the Senate operated this way, we'd have people interested in the government. It's a long video, but the whole thing is amazing.


The Zune 2

I saw this and just had to giggle a little bit. Windows fan-boys always complain that Apple products (a la iPod touch) cost so much, etc. What about a $1113.07 Zune? That cheap? I know this is a typo, but you'd think a site where you're trying to sell a hot new product as opposed to leave it laying on store shelves, you'd at least list the price correctly.

And, I might point out, I found this by myself, without the help of any tech blogs. So there.


Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day... or is that what you say? It seems to me that it ought not be a "happy" day. I'm happy that there have been so many brave people who have put their lives on the line for the cause of liberty, but I am not happy that it has cost so much. But everything good in life requires effort, right?

I don't really have anything special to say, though I'd like to mention my grandfather who served with the Army during the Korean War and my cousin who served in Iraq with the Marines. God bless all who have served and are serving currently. God bless all those who have are are fighting for liberty and truth throughout history. I wonder if I will be able to do the same when the time comes - the time is now.



Well, after last year's National Novel Writing Month was a dismal flop for me (and I mean a dismal flop. I think I hit 1000 words, max), I'm giving it another go. Why? Because I persevere! I don't let little things such as reality get in the way.

Anyways, so I'm behind, again. But I have an excuse this time, I was at a soccer tournament. So, I'm playing catch-up. Since it's the sixth day of the month, I should have 50,000/30 x 6, which exactly 10,000 words. So far, I have 5717. I wrote 3000 words yesterday, and about 2000 today (so far)m so hopefully I'll be on track by the end of the week.

Here's a short excerpt from the work so far:

He was Nietzsche, railing against the establishment, fighting against the collective stupidity of the herd. He was Voltaire, the advocate for positive social action. And how positive his action was! He was Rousseau, with a new social contract. He was Hobbes and the anti-Hobbes, in favor of authoritarian action, but hating authoritarianism. He was Sartre, believing that men were condemned to be free. He was Plato; he had escaped the cave of shadows, and now lived in the light. He was Locke, the authority of the government derived only from the consent of the governed. He was
Schopenhauer, Moore, Kierkegaard, Aquinas, and Descartes. He was Hegel, Mills, Whitehead, Marx, and Abelard.

Yes, he was these things. He was the synthesis of most philosophers. But he was even more than this! He was a revolutionary! He did not only think about things, he did not only debate about the hypothetical in the dust-filled halls of the academies; he turned his ideas, their ideas, into action. He acted on his principles, on his morality.

It had been a great chore to choose a name for himself. He had deliberated for two long years, going by his government given 1090411 until he could stand it no longer. As a stop-gap, he called himself Rasputin, as a matter of personal humor. He pored over volume after volume, tome after tome. He tossed names around in his head. Che? No, that would not do. In the old days, that name had been over-used and over-merchandised. Machiavelli? No, that simply did not work. Lenin? No. Robespierre? Too long, so very French. He had needed something short, with punch. Then, in a epiphany, it had hit him. Kane. That would be his name….

Kane walked over to his desk. He could hardly see the wooden top of the desk for all the books that littered it. Picking one up, he glanced at the title. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Sometimes he felt as if he was living in that story. He picked up another book. The title Brave New World. He placed both books gingerly on a shelf above his desk. They were probably some of the very last copies of those books in existence; he couldn’t afford to mess them up. He moved more books off the desk, ever so carefully.
We, Lord of the Flies, A Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451. All classics. He chuckled darkly to himself. He was living in a dystopia, he hardly needed a book to lay one out for him. The fiction abruptly ended, and was replaced with books on philosophy. He had read them all, memorized every page, every precious passage.

At the very bottom of the pile was the Declaration of Independence. He recited it quietly to himself, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which held them to another….” Kane’s voice trailed off. He rustled the paper, smelled it. He could smell the liberty flowing off the page. Sighing, he set it down.

The 1337 Room

I take some classes at a local university. Another student pointed out that one of the computer labs was given a rather hilarious room number.And all the geeks went ROFLOL. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to bother to explain it to the rest of you as you wouldn't get it anyway, and it's never any good if you have to explain the joke. Now, I wonder if there's a room 1394?

In other news, this marks the 100 posting on the Vanishing Blog. Yay! It's a small milestone, really, but I wasn't sure when we started that we were going to make it this far. Ask anyone who does it and they'll tell you that blogging consistently is hard. Lots of people get all excited about the prospect of having their "own" blog, but how long does the average blog really last? I can tell you from personal experience that it isn't very long. This, in fact, is my third attempt at blogging. I think having a team blog has really helped to keep it going, so I'd like to thank Josh for sticking in there thus far. Of course no blog is worth writing if it isn't read. So thank you readers... all six of you.

Invention of the Decade?

This could quite possibly become the invention of the decade. The British Army is developing a cloaking device that could be use to render troops and tanks invisible! How cool is that? The "invisibility effect is created using "cameras and projectors to beam images captured from the surrounding landscape onto a specially-adapted tank coated with silicon to maximize their reflective qualities," so think of it like using the cloning tool in Photoshop to make stuff disappear. Genius. According to somebody really smart, this technology could be on the battlefield in five years. Now all they've gotta do is invent that awesome shield-ball thing and I'd totally join the British Army.


New Theme

Happy Day of the Dead! Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

You probably - hopefully - noticed the new theme on the blog. See, I told you guys there was gonna be a new one... it just took longer than I thought. I actually came up with a new theme quite a while ago, but Josh and I agreed it was too bland and colorless, so it was never used. So I decided to make one for Thanksgiving. If you hate it, don't worry. You're only stuck with it for 22 days this year. Then I'll probably have a Christmas theme and then in January we'll have a new standard theme. That's the plan. And plans are made to be altered.

So let me know what you think of it. Am I the only one who was getting bored of the previous theme?


Quote of the Month: October '07

"Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

-Martin Luther

Happy Reformation Day all ye Protestants. Happy Halloween to the rest.


Select a Candidate

My dad informed me of a great online poll that is supposed to match your political views with those of '08 Presidential hopefuls. I think it's a really smart and well-formatted quiz. Definitely worth a look. Try it here.

My top 5 results according to the survey:
  1. Tom Tancredo (14.0)
  2. Duncan Hunter (12.0)
  3. John McCain (12.0)
  4. Ron Paul (12.0)
  5. Fred Thompson (12.0)
So apparently, I'm for Tancredo. Figures my politics would most closely align with someone who has no chance. Though the top five results are all Republican candidates, I would like to point out that I am not one. I am disgusted with the two-party system, but that is another post entirely...
If I had to define myself politically (I hate to affiliate with any one system) I might tell you that I'm an independent conservative constitutionalist capitalist libertarian with a side of fries and a large Mountain Dew. Or you can believe certain other online quizzes and just call me an anarchist.


Myanmar, Sect. II

The U.N., in its eternal omnipresent benevolence, decided to not sanction Myanmar for human rights abuses. Ask yourself this: is the best way to stop a government from mistreating its citizens to cut off aid to that country?

I don't think so. By doing this, the situation simply becomes worse. We would be starving the very people we should be helping (if we do in fact care about democracy). To me, this is more and more vindicating my position that we don't really care about democracy, we care about our own interests.

Iraq should be free. Iran, heck, let's bomb them, possibly starting World War III. Myan-what? Where the heck is that? Next to Thailand? Never heard of it. Meanwhile, people die....


Can I Has a Program?

Speaking of language (no pun intended), there is apparently a programming language being developed called "LOLCODE". It is based on internet slang, particularly lolcats. I know we've got at least one programmer among the readership so I thought I'd post this.

Some of the syntax:
  • HAI - introduces a program
  • KTHXBYE - ends the program
  • CAN HAS - asks for a library file
  • I HAS A [variable] - declares a variable
  • I AM IN YR [label] - starts a loop

Bad Language

NOTE: This post may be quite controversial. Understand that I am in no way condoning the use of bad language. I am merely attempting to define it and to explore the topic of words and their meanings. I encourage you to read on with an open mind and draw your own conclusions.

Why do we consider some words “bad”? Bad language is really an odd concept when you get right down to it. Or, at least, it is odd how people deal with it. One word may be considered “bad”, but there is always an “acceptable” substitute. You can say “darn” or “dang” without objection, but not the other word. You can say “heck”, but not you-know-what. Why?

When someone says “darn it” or “what the heck,” is it any different in essential meaning from openly using what is considered bad language?

Is there something wrong with the audible sound of a bad word that makes it inherently offensive? Of course not.

What’s my point? Seriously folks, I’ve got one!

The point is that words are containers of meaning and we give them that meaning. An insult is an insult whether it contains bad language or not and there is no essential difference in meaning between a “clean” insult and a “dirty” one—the same offense is meant.

We have “bad” language because we are taught to think certain words are taboo. In doing so, we have set-up a rule that never need have existed. Certainly there are subjects that need not be mentioned in civil conversation, but are those subjects even connected with the bad language that originally represented them? In most cases, no.

A couple of friends and I once spoke with a group of guys who frequently used bad language. During the course of the conversation one of my friends asked them why they used bad language. They thought about it for a moment and generally agreed that they used it as a means to let off steam, kind of like punching a pillow when angry. Others use bad language for humor.

So it would seem the real problem with bad language is not the use itself, but the reasons for using it. Maybe the user has anger issues; maybe they are rebellious and only use the words because it breaks a social standard. If that is the case, then the heart issue needs to be dealt with. Treat the problem, not the symptoms, right?

Of course, many people now use bad language simply because they have absorbed it into their vocabularies through osmosis. Taboo or not, it is all over the place. Television, movies, music, school.

We have to remember that language, especially English, is changing constantly whether we like it or not. Words have come and gone; meanings have changed. Each generation interprets the language a little differently. It may be that in subsequent generations bad language as we know it will disappear. The more commonplace it gets the less potent, the less meaningful, and the less offensive. That’s the way language works: through use.

I believe there is bad language and that it is a real problem. But it is not a list of a finite number of words that people “shouldn’t” say. It is any word that is filled with bad intent. It has to do with the tone of one’s voice as much as the word itself.

Yes, bad language is a problem. However, it is a problem that stems from a lack of civility, not from one’s vocabulary.



Cnet has a pretty funny editorial about what exactly it would look like if Apple decided to make a car. It would basically be a car, with the iPod's proprietrariness and expensiveness. One thing the article fails to note, however, is that the iCar would have no FM radio. No radio, period.


Andrew Osenga

Andrew Osenga of the band Caedmon's Call (formally of the Normals) has a very good blog post on his thoughts about politics which can be read here. I thought it was interesting that he shared many of my concerns about the current political system. He is also a Ron Paul supporter, which should be of interest to Josh.

Whether you read the post or not, I'd encourage you to check out his music. His album, the Morning, can be steamed in its entirety on his website. Even better, he has an entirely free six song acoustic EP which you can download here. If you poke around further, you can find a few other free downloadables.
I can't really recommend Andy "for fans of..." because, like most of the artists I enjoy listening to, he is capable of many kinds of music. I guess he is closest to modern folk rock. Anyways, it's free music. Just give it a shot. Delete it if you don't like it.


When we have something to gain...

This really ticks me off. We have people begging and protesting for democracy, more than the Iraqis ever did, and we just ignore them. If we want democracy as much as we say we do, why don't we invade Myanmar and install a government of, for, and by the people (that is, the Myanmar people)? Why don't we aid the protesters?

Let me point you to a quote: "The top U.N. envoy on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, arrived in the country but many protesters said they were nonetheless seeing a repeat of the global reaction to a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, when the world stood by as protesters were gunned down in the streets."

This has happened before. But who the heck cares about Myanmar? We certainly don't. Why, then, are we so rabid about installing democracy in the Middle East? Here is my hypothesis: we don't care about the Iraqi people, either. Let me rephrase that: the government of the U.S. doesn't care about the people of Iraq. The people of the U.S. might care, but the government does not. The reason we are over there is this: we are pragmatic in our application of democracy. If we have something to gain by it's application, we apply it by force. If we don't have anything to gain by democracy's application we don't apply it, through any means. If we have something to lose by democracy's application, then we use force or covert action to prevent it from being applied. That is why we don't give a flip about Myanmar. Who the heck cares? It won't affect us, some monks being gunned down.

I wish we would be consistent. Either we defend democracy every time, or we don't defend it at all. Either of those options are fine with me, and in most cases I would choose the latter, however: this meandering along the fence is driving me nuts!


Clint Bushton

This is scary. America the oligarchy?

Let's not vote for Hillary, just because 28 years of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton is way too much. What if Jeb runs is 2016? Oh my goodness, then we could have Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton-Bush, and 36 years of two families controlling the U.S. Then Chelsea will run! Then the Bush twins! We could have 60 years of Bush and Clinton!


An Exhaustive History of Halo

In case you've lived in a cave for the past year, Halo 3 is coming out. Wait, is it Halo 8? Oh, just watch the video.

Take Him Out

Why is this man in our country? Why are we allowing him to speak at our universities? This man, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, is a horrible dictator. That fact, I think, had been pretty well established by his words and actions in the past. He wants Israel annihilated, he denies that the Holocaust occurred, and he is (despite whatever he says) developing nuclear weapons. He is a clear threat to peace in the Middle-east (who isn't?) and most certainly will cause an international incident if not stopped soon. So why is allowed in America? There is only one place in America I want him to go: jail.

It seems he has come to America just because we're stupid enough to let him. Today at Columbia University, he spewed propaganda and peace-talk. “I ask Almighty God to assist all of us to work hand in hand for a future filled with peace, justice and brotherhood," he said. Whatever. You know this guy believes none of this stuff. It's the old adage folks: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. If anyone buys this talk, I pity the fool.

If we were a smarter country and less concerned about what the rest of the world thought about us, we might have allowed him to come here for the express purposed of taking him out. I realize that might very well do more harm than good in the long run, but it sure would be nice to hear. It might even postpone a conflict with Iran.


The most gratuitous use of the word Belgium...

...on eBay. This is the absolute awesomest eBay listing ever. Or, was, until eBay pulled it down. Apparently they're having some geo-political issues over there that no one has heard about because no one cares about Belgium except for the Flemish (those are people that live in Belgium).

Any fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams will find this particularly amusing.

Format Wars: Episode II: Revenge of the Red Laser

As if we needed another high-def disc to enter the format - ta-da! - here's the HD VMD. Catchy name, huh? Actually I am quite intrigued by this new format. Know what has my attention? Price.

HD VMD (which stands for Versatile Multilayer Disc) uses traditional red lasers instead of the blue lasers employed by HD-DVD and Blu-ray which is apparently the one piece of technology that makes them so expensive to produce. As such, a top-of-the-line HD VMD player is expected to retail for only $199. As implied by the name, VMDs are multilayer and are capable of holding 5GB per layer and up to six layers a disc.

I think this could really be a big thing if NME plays their cards right. It isn't so late in the game that a real winner or even a clear leader has emerged in the high-def wars. I think this is mainly due to the fact that HD TVs have not been adapted by the masses just yet partly because of price, partly because they don't see a reason. That's going to change in the next few years and will be helped by the switch from analog to digital television signals. People are going to see that as the perfect time to get a new TV and a new HD player to go with it.

HD VMD needs to take advantage of the fact that it is cheaper and easier to produce. If they can do that and get some major studios on board, this format war will have a new major contender.


Soap might kill me

As if men needed more of a bad reputation, apparently we don't wash our hands. 33% of the time, at least. I wash my hands every time after I use the bathroom, and frankly, I find it disgusting that people wouldn't.

I'd really like to know how the heck they come up with these numbers, though. Did they poll men? Did they install cameras in bathrooms 'cross America? Did they use NSA footage?

Hopefully I'll start posting meaningful thoughts tomorrow.

Not Disappointed By Candy

Unlike Josh, I haven't been feeling uber-indie lately. I just bought several tracks from iTunes that definitely weren't indie. However, I recently ran across a new band called Disappointed by Candy whose music I was impressed with.
I am known among my friends as being picky about the music I like. I like to contend that I wouldn't be so picky if so many bands didn't sound alike. I simply like original, fresh music. I also like bands that aren't afraid to mix up different styles of music. Disappointed by Candy does both.
They're generally alt rock with some electronic influences. Very good stuff. Reminds me MuteMath (also a good band) though Disappointed puts more emphasis on the guitar and covers a broader range of musical textures. And that's all within 5 tracks!
It just so happens that Disappointed By Candy's self-titled first album comes out tomorrow (though, because of it's length, it's really more of an EP). You can listen to it right here. Check it out if you're in the mood for trying some new music. I plan on buying the album tomorrow provided it's on iTunes (I've got some gift card money left).

Brand It!

It's official, I love Marc Ecko. In one of those flashes of brilliance that I wish I showed more often, Ecko (who was the buyer of Barry Bond's 756th home run ball) has come up with an idea that I love: let the public decide the ball's fate. I think he bought the ball just so he could do this.

I voted "brand it," but that may be a little too minor. I wish there was an option "cut the baseball into an asterisk shaped object, then send it to Cooperstown."

So, go and vote. Even if you don't care! This is a noble cause, if ever there was one.

Google to the Mooooooooon!

Everybody remember the X Prize? Well there's a new X Prize competition sponsored by Google, believe it or not. It's called the Google Lunar X Prize and as it's name implies the mission is to land on the moon. So what's Google's interest in the Moon? Uh... donno. Perhaps to build a better Google Moon?


Oh, my gosh.

The world has officially gone crazy. What happened to the "scientific method"? You know, testing ideas to make sure that nothing goes horribly wrong? Like, not just trying it in the real world first? We're doomed.


Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Russia tested a new "vacuum bomb" yesterday. It's being hailed as the "Dad of All Bombs" whatever that means.

To summarize the articles: the Russian military says this bomb has no equal in the world. After the bomb explodes with a very large blast radius, it sends out a shock wave causing further damage. They are playing-up the fact that it is non-nuclear and complies with treaties and that sort of thing. This bomb is supposedly twice as powerful as the largest U.S. conventional bomb.

My favorite part of the Yahoo article is this: "...a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber [dropped] the bomb over a testing ground. A large explosion followed." Brilliant writing. That's one for the Yahoo Hall of Fame, eh Josh?

Anyway, a year ago this would have had me frightened. Now it just concerns me. This is only "the latest in a series of new Russian weapons". Good grief, why are they developing new weapons? Anybody got a guess?

Meanwhile the U.S is acting like the Middle East is the region of the world that is most threating to us. Oh my goodness! Iran is developing nukes. We're worried about one nuke. Granted, they're likely to do something stupid with it. But after they do, they're finished. Who has the firepower to really harm us? That's what we've got to ask and we aren't ask it.

Putin scares me. He really does. He's the one behind this new weapon development and go figure. Guess where he used to work? With the KGB. Guess what political party he joined? The Communist Party. Since he was elected he has been centralizing power. He is currently President and Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Hitler both Chancellor and President of Germany? We all know what happened there.


According the this article, Putin is to step down next spring. We'll see.

Quote of the Month: September '07

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it."

-Mark Twain

Enough said. Mark Twain is the master of American wit.



After Strategic Intelligence Camp at Patrick Henry College this year, I turned into something of an intelligence junkie. I get the Power and Interests News Report (PINR), the StratFor briefings, and reports from Foreign Affairs. I also check The Economist semi-regularly, but that costs money, and I keep putting off getting a subscription, though I would make good use of it. I recommend checking out all of these, as they have information that you generally don't see on the news or in the newspaper. Plus the analysis is always very interesting.

Anyway, I don't figure you care all that much about what is flooding my in-box, and that's not the main point of this post. I got a very interesting briefing from StratFor yesterday about 9/11.

The 9/11 attack, as well as earlier attacks, was designed to do two things. First, by striking targets that were well-known among the Muslim masses, the attack was meant to demonstrate that the United States could be attacked and badly hurt. Second, it was designed to get a U.S. reaction -- and this is what bin Laden saw as the beauty of his plan: If Washington reacted by doing nothing effective, then he could argue that the United States was profoundly weak and indecisive. If, on the other hand, the United States staged a series of campaigns in the Islamic world, he would be able to say that this demonstrated that the United States was the true Crusader state and the enemy of Muslims everywhere...either one would have done.

Al Qaeda was a global -- but sparse -- network. That meant that it could be anywhere and everywhere, and that searching for it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But there was something else that disoriented the United States even more. Whether due to disruption by U.S. efforts or a lack of follow-on plans, al Qaeda never attacked the United States again after 9/11.... Regardless of whether he was a one-trick pony or he did intend, but failed, to stage follow-on attacks, the lack of strikes since 9/11 has turned out to be less damaging to bin Laden than to the Bush administration.

And on it goes. They make the point that the very lack of a terrorist attack has probably been more damaging to the American psyche than even more terrorist attacks would be. Bin Laden is either very weak, or very, very shrewd.

Regardless of the difficulties, however, President Bush has managed to delay Bin Laden's goal of creating a Muslim caliphate. The very goal of the 9/11 attacks to was to, in one way or another, forge together Muslim nations into one super-power. That has not happened. In fact, the opposite has happened. Iraq now has a democracy (although this fellow makes a very good argument that it is not truly a Western style one), Hamas is involved politically in the Palestinian conflict now, and Pakistan gets more secular by the day as their dictator laps up power.

Osama bin Laden's only success seems to be creating divisiveness among the American people. Whilst we were all Americans on this date in 2001, we are more argumentative now than ever before.

Anyway, I thought that was interesting. If you want the whole report, here it is.


Sep. 11th, 2007

I was 11 on September 11th, 2001. I woke up late enough for my mom to have locked down the TV, so I didn't actually see any footage until several days later. A part of me died that day. Before then, I was safe. After I saw American Airlines Flight 11 slam into the Tower, as the world watched, I think I felt hatred for the very first time. How could anyone hate us? How could they want to hurt us? Why?

Those questions have answers now, however vague. We're in two wars, and a third over-arching one, that we were not in 6 years ago today. Or maybe we were already in them and we just didn't notice. Sometimes the biggest problem is our failure to care about the world around us.

6 years after September 11th, 2001, we have lost the feeling of unity that we had for several months after the attacks. We fight, we fuss, we fume.

On September 12th, a French newspaper said "Today, we are all Americans." 6 years later, it seems, none of us are.

Let's change that.

Six Years Ago

“I can’t believe the news today...” "I can't close my eyes and make it go away."

Six years ago I woke up late. I was on my way to the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of cereal, but I stopped in living room. My mom had the TV on which was unusual.

It must have been sometime around 8 o’clock (CST) because the North Tower had already been hit. At first I thought it was just some building downtown. I remember thinking that there had been a recent fire at some industrial complex and that was no big deal. Then I read the headline. New York City. World Trade Center. Plane crash.

It was so big and so far away that I didn’t know what to think at first. But right away people started blaming terrorism and that was frightening indeed. Planes just don’t crash into buildings, after all.

At 8:02 (local time) the second tower was hit. That settled it. This was on purposed. I was as shocked as everybody else watching, including the commentators.

I remember that day. My mom, myself, and my sister watched for most of the day. We watched to see what would happen next. We didn’t know what else to do. How could we pry ourselves away from those images and go on with our normal business as if nothing had happened. The events were too horrible, too unexpected, and too significant.

I remember. I remember the President being told about the attacks at a grade school. I remember the confusion of the newscasters. I remember how they played the footage of the plane striking the South Tower over and over because that was all they had to play. I remember panic that ensued after the Pentagon was hit. I remember the horrifying shock when the towers collapsed killing so many. I remember the anger I felt toward the people responsible.

Of all the days of remembrance—Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day—September 11 is the only one I can really connect with since it happened in my lifetime.

Many things changed that day. On September 10, 2001 I was 12 years old. On the following day, I was still 12 years old, but I had lost something. The naïve sense of security I always had was gone. That was the day I realized that the relatively happy world of my youth was not sealed away from the rest of the world.

Do you remember? Where were you when you hear the news, when you saw? Do you remember the spirit of those days: the spirit of uncertainty? Do you remember the feeling of unity that suddenly descended on the country—that “let’s roll” spirit? I do. Where has it gone?