ON THE QT
Everything You Always Suspected
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
And a Little Night Music.
Publisher and Editor
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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
ON THE QT is online at
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