I can see you…

A while ago talks of automated face recognition systems in London would have caused a lot of heated debate. Now the debate has changed to “why haven’t these been in place at airports?”. The comment about the stocks of companies that produce biometrics software, software that can recognise people based on physical characteristics, was interesting – another article yesterday was commenting that they are trying to track down people affiliated with the terrorists through some irregular stock movements prior to the bombing. There was some speculation that this might have even been the chief suspect himself using the terror attack as a way to generate more funds. Sounds like Die Hard to me – maybe we should levy the blame on Hollywood for giving terrorists all these ideas?

Stupid fucking people

Just got forwarded this. Apparently a mob attacked an Indian guy in SoMa, San Francisco (near to the Quidnunc SF offices) and ended up stabbing his friend who tried to protect him. They thought he was Arabic.

I was about to launch into a tirade about Americans, but then I realized there are people like this all over the world. Even by singling out Americans for intolerance to race is being just as bad myself. Most people are nice. A lot of people are extremely pissed off and angry about what’s happened, but an attack like this is so wrong. It boils down to one thing – we’re all people. I can’t even find the words to express how angry this makes me. Argh!

The best of times, the worst of times

Being out in State College raises many emotions in me, most of which revolve around being away from my friends and the city I love. Sometimes thought being out here with feck all to do leads me to doing things I might not have done elsewhere. One such thing was sitting down and reading through the archives of my blogging. One caught my eye – poetic allusions to the World Trade Tower burning just under a year ago. Nostradamus eat ‘yer heart out!

Other thoughts though: whatever happens from here on in I’ve had a wicked ride. Maybe I’ve not been the coolest kid on the block, but who defines cool anyway? In looking back at the older stuff I see how my life has changed. When I was down Von the other night reading an old diary some guy (rudely) interrupted my thoughts to say that he’d read some of his old stuff and didn’t even recognise who had written it. His earlier, pre-suit job self was a wannabe writer. I disagreed with him at the time, but now I must apologise to him and say he was somewhat right.

Lest we forget

I just put up the last photo I took of the World Trade Center. It will stay as a link in the main bar at the top of this spiel for those times when things seem too much.

Leaving New York this morning was a strain, both physically and mentally. Due to the Holland Tunnel still being closed the Lincoln tunnel took two hours instead of the usual 20 minutes. That was nothing compared to the mental anguish I felt driving away from the city again. The desire to stay and be near my friends was overwhelming. I didn’t manage to see everyone I wanted to see over the weekend and doubt I will for a while yet. I am, in theory, off on holiday on Thursday night, flying back to the UK, but flights are still in disarray and I’m not sure what will happen. I’ll take the holiday whatever, just not sure where it will be.

It’s been interesting a) how different people cope and b) how people are already starting to joke about things. Maybe it’s because I was out of the city for so long, but I just wanted to be with friends as opposed to volunteering for something, anything, as many people have been. I feel guilty for not doing enough, but then I realize that just being there for people is often the best thing you can do.

As for the joking, even Guiliani made a remark that now it might even be possible to get tickets for The Producers (hit musical on Broadway). The magnitude of this event is hard to take in. Even only being a few miles away in Brooklyn it has seemed unreal. A gap in the skyline with a faint plume of smoke. Jokes make it seem less scary, less real, safer. The discussions about repurcussions and the knock on effects end up being depressing. Noone wants things to get worse than they are. Biological warfare is on everyone’s minds, as is the possibility of WWIII.

The most poignant moment for me was in one of my daily cartoons. User Friendly ran this strip. Sneaking passed by defences and making me cry for the first time since I saw the towers hit. Thank you for that moment of reality.

A call for sanity

I’m now back in New York, having completed a relatively uneventful trip back from State College. Everything seems pretty much the same as usual apart from a scarred skyline with a light plume of smoke where two towers used to stand. The city is fairly quiet, last night was more like a Wednesday night than a Saturday. People are pretty much going about their business as usual north of Canal – going on dates, chatting to friends (although there’s only one topic of conversation still), shopping.

My biggest concern at the moment is escalation. I’m working on the supposition at the moment that all this jinogistic war talk that’s happening is not, in general, a good thing. Thousands of innocent people have died and if we kill millions of innocent people in ‘retaliation’ then surely we’re just as bad as the people who did this originally? Colin Powell talking about how America is glad to have its allies, but if push comes to shove America will call the shots and do what it has to do. Surely if America does not answer to the rest of the world they are just being the same as whoever did this? What if another ‘Timothy McVeigh’ did this? And they are based in the heartland of America? Would America bomb the shit out of its own towns to kill the families that would be sheltering their loved ones? Even if they knew what they had done? This concept of ‘associated guilt’ – you are protecting them therefore you are guilty is pretty scary. It simplifies things for people bombing other places, but surely it just makes things worse?

I hope it never comes to this. I believe that New Yorkers, having being the worst hit and being, in general, more aware of the rest of the world’s attitudes than the rest of America, need to take a stand and say “What happened was awful. But we must not kill innocent people to try and make it right!”. Let us all hope for that peace to come for the world, not create more fighting.

No news is bad news

There was an article on BBC Online talking about how 600 staff of Marsh McLennan are still unaccounted for. This is the company I used to work for on the GINA project when I was in the WTC, and I’m still thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t still there. I’ve heard new that many people I worked with (John, Noel, Hans, Steve and Phil) are OK, but there are still many more I’ve not heard about, some who I knew more than others. Roberta, John U, Telilah, Elaine, Surin, Timothy and the others – I hope you’re out there somewhere and I just haven’t heard about you yet. Be safe.

And then I start to wonder about Max and Kelle, currently off travelling in Nepal. They both worked in the area and had friends. Max knows many more people who were working at Marsh on a project that we got thrown off of (thanks to Tricia for that – at the time it seemed like standing up for what you believed in was causing trouble but now it’s caused so much happiness as we didn’t have a team from our company there). How will they react to all this when they find out? Not having been as near it as us?

The same thought occurs to me now as I prepare to head back into the city… Everyone I know there has been living through this for the last few days. I already feel like a tourist in my own town. How will I react to the carnage? The roadblocks? The looks and tears on people’s faces? The unfamiliar skyline? Holding people who’ve been living this day in and day out since it happened? What can I do to help make it better?

Friends.net

It’s times like this when you really appreciate the power of the Internet to bring people together. The ability to mail/instant message/phone/post to my friends and let them know everything’s OK with me and find out that everything’s OK with them is a wonderful thing. People using their cell phones to tell their rescuers where they are in the rubble.

The Day After the Beginning of the End of the World?

Nope, not really that pessimistic. I’d like to believe that World War III won’t break out, even with Dubya at the helm.

Things are starting to sink in now. Every now and again I just stare off into space and imagine the New York skyline without the Twin Towers. The final few people I’ve been worried about have turned up safe and sound – thank you all for lying in bed that extra half hour. Noone can believe what’s happened. I was talking to a friend in Israel and she was saying that all the people who’ve died in Israel total 20,000 – not just from one tragedy like this. I still hope and believe that the figures won’t be that high from the stories I’ve heard, but it will be in the thousands. Why are some people so fucking stupid? What has this achieved? How does this help? I can’t even understand how someone can think like this!

Dazed…

It’s been 8 hours since the planes hit the World Trade Towers. Now the New York skyline is irrevocably changed as well as the lives of everyone in Manhattan. I’m still in a daze – wish I was back in New York with my friends. Feel very impotent out here in State College. The whole thing is like a film – ‘World War III: This Time It’s Personal’. So surreal. Multiple camera angles from the most-photographed city. Watching where the first plane hit the north tower I was reminded of my time working there for Marsh on the 96th floor. I’m sure that many of the people I worked with are dead – I just hope many of them felt like coming in late today. In fact many of my work colleagues would have been up there except for a failure to continue a project with them due to disagreements. Strange how things that seemed so negative and bad at the time are now amazingly fortuitous.

My thoughts are with everyone in New York today. The families who may not yet know if their loved ones are OK. Having spent a fruitless two hours on the phone to try and catch up with Alexa I know how they feel. My relief when her family told me she’d called them was huge. Still haven’t heard from Tim… Hope he’s OK. God, this is still so fucking unbelievable! Even having lived with terrorism in the UK this is beyond belief.

Here’s to a better future…

I AM FINE – OUT IN STATE COLLEGE

I know of no other things more scary than what is currently happening in New York. But I am alive in State College, PA – phone number +1(814)237.0309 ext 7815. I am trying to call everyone I know in UK and New York. Please let me know if you are OK!!!!

I just hope that people got away. Thousands of people must be dead. This is fucked up! Who knows if World War III is just around the corner with Bush at the button. Shit.