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ON THE QT

Everything You Always Suspected
And a Little Night Music.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Publisher and Editor

WELCOME

to On The QT #15. Music Machine. We sing the body eclectic. The following is a remix of a speech given in Burlington, Vermont on October 13th at a post 9/11 teach in at Burlington College. Material has been added to reflect recent developments. Click on highlights to view referenced documents.

NEW WAR/NEW MEDIA

For those wary/weary of spin, war is heck. World War Two proceeded without television: newspapers and radio being the main source of information. Both take more mental time to digest. Vietnam was the television war: immediate images of carnage and what was perceived as negative reporting were credited with weakening the public's resolve. Though the Internet was up and running during the Gulf War and its variations, the terror attack of 9/11 and the resulting Afghanistan engagement is the first major test of the Internet in wartime. Give it a great big

HAND.

The Internet is the on going creation of millions of minds. Huge and unwieldy. As opposed to the established forms of traditional media maintained by employees of industries owned by an increasingly small number of people. The Internet carries no bias unto itself; neither left, right nor centrist. The only position the entity "Internet" tends to support per se is access to information and freedom of speech. At the same time, there are those who use the Internet to attack those principles.

NIHIL OBSTAT

An inherent assumption of the Internet is that users will find their own information and form their own conclusions. The Internet provides a remarkable opportunity to transcend local systems, ideological boxes and plain old lack of information. Though many log on to check out two or three sites for a limited purpose (and some to pursue vile intentions) an ever increasing part of the world goes for the wider application.

LIVE & LEARN

After the 9/11 attack the Internet was an amazing resource. Living in a public library wouldn't have provided access to the same combination of information. History, maps, analysis. Military strategy, politics, theology. Plus minute by minute news from sources much closer to events than Peter Jennings or Brit Hume. And opinion from across the political spectrum. Does this kind of unfiltered, mega access to info and opinion demand increased discrimination? Sure. But discrimination is a condition profoundly to be encouraged; particularly after the totalitarian, one-mind kill fests of the last century.

HEART TO HEART

Paradoxically, along with a vast information flow, the Internet facilitated an intensely personal and immediate response to 9/11. Email flew as people rushed to find family and friends and to ask: How are you? What can I do to help? The Internet carried the voices of those hit by horror and grief. It also helped co-ordinate an amazing emergency response. Sites and email networks based in the New York City area, ones connected to neighborhood associations and ones that rage against local machines, morphed instantly into rescue and relief information centers. The turn around time was immediate and local knowledge helped make the response focused and effective.

WILD PALMS

As the emergency subsided a reflective tone began to appear. Open email letters started circulating. As did photographs. One photo, taken by an anonymous Morgan Stanley employee, was of a public space in the World Financial Center called The Winter Garden; a glass ceiling atrium stories high housing immense palm trees. Where WTC employees often spent lunch hours. It was a public space typical of the World Trade Center complex. Massive, impressive, overpowering. A hymn to wealth written in the language of architecture. The post attack photo showed the atrium in ruins. But the palms, covered with dust, still stood amidst mounds of rubble and clusters of empty chairs.

DOWN BOY

While the importance of the Internet for commerce has kept the dogs largely at bay, there's always been discomfort with the Internet's ability to rout around proscribed ideological use and political systems. Plans to make the Internet a jackpot haven't come up three cherries and anger lingers over Internet users' resistance to consumer models. Plus their lack of respect for the intellectual property rights of artists like, uh, Metallica. And while traditional news media and the Internet will eventually hammer out a working relationship, the growth of the Internet has industry knickers in a

TWIST!

The fact that al-Queda surfed the Internet for information and kept in touch via email is providing the rationale for a major increase in email and website spying and to toss the Freedom of Information Act out the window. Those responsible for poor intelligence prior to 9/11 are jumping at the chance to close a barn door and use hot new cyber spy toys.

ALL EYES

Surveillance, even when computerized is a labor intensive job. Humans still have to sift the information. Terrorists will be the most sophisticated users of encryption (obviously encoded messages) and steganography (a message hidden within a message). Most easily snagged by word recognition tech will be Aunt Amy emailing Cousin Fred about how her Thanksgiving TURKEY was a real BOMB. As for surreptitiously affixing keystroke recognition monitors (a codebreaking device) to personal computers, there won't be that many Terrorists-R-Us computer centers for keystroke cops to raid. Wider targets for high tech spying-- gotta use those pricey toys-- would be above ground organizations. And while some information should be restricted (paging Wen Ho Lee) groups that serve the public interest will also be weakened. Like environmentalists who rely on information now deemed

SENSITIVE.

Author Tom Clancy has said that effective intelligence requires more agents in international hot spots. With money to pay more informers. Prior to 9/11, the CIA reportedly had no agents in Afghanistan who spoke Pashtun-- aka Taliban language. In this country, more care about who crosses our borders could be helpful. Though it might limit access to cheap illegal labor. As well as tenants for infinitely subdivided, substandard housing. Since drug money funds terror and 70% of the world's opium- read heroin- is said to come from Afghanistan, political administrations in American cities with major drug trade could also aid Homeland Security by aggressively prosecuting dealers, drug house landlords and local businesses that launder drug profits. And American junkies could "Stand Tall". Instead of slumping on sidewalks.

LAST LAUGH

Finally, when the Brits were bombed in WWII they were fast and furious with black(out) humor. Post 9/11 the Internet dared laugh first, with The Onion's great website take on God's annoyance over rewrites of the fifth commandment, hug-a-thons and the after death shock of Islamic suicide terrorists when Paradise turns out to be a basement in Hell. From another source came the mysterious connection between Osama Bin Laden and Bert of Sesame Street...

EVERYBODY INTO THE POLL:

In Albany, New York, the voters have spoken. Burgermeister trumps El Presidente Por Vida as Mayor Jerry Jenning's official On The QT title. Amongst the responses: "Renee" says, "Burgermeister evokes the whole historic, patroon thing. Besides, if Jennings ever wants to openly open a restaurant the name could carry over." And "Betty B." weighs in: "Burgermeister by a nose. We don't want El Presidente Por Vida to be self fulfilling." But "Serge" opines, "I go for El Presidente. It's very Banana Republic." Khakis anyone?

SPECIAL ATTENTION

should be paid to a remarkable series the Detroit News ran last Summer. Called "Broken Detroit", it chronicles the metamorphosis of some Detroit neighborhoods into what's called an "Urban Prairie". Where neglected buildings led to blocks of empty lots, where streetlights don't shine and where residents plant gardens behind barbed wire while police glide by on automatic cruise. The Land The New Economy Forgot. Now Appearing in Many Cities. Click here for Detroit News Special Reports

COMING ATTRACTIONS:

Special Thanksgiving Turkey Roundup: Are Corruption Indictments in Northeast Cities Forming a Pattern?/Sandy Baird is Back!/Mo' Money Laundering/ Plus Whatever Else Comes Down The Pike...

"They're Here! You're Next! YOU'RE NEXT!"
Kevin McCarthy (Dr. Miles Binnell), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Links to information about groups working on erosion of freedom issues

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Crumpling HUD bux blowing in the wind.
updated 11/4/2001