Observations of the Real World

This is kind of a time capsule at this point, a diary of a one-year period, and only partial at that. When I get a bit of time I'll clean this up, and maybe someday I'll even add some more material, essays on less ephemeral subjects. For now I just want to admit the obvious: this is out of date. Insofar as I'm writing about current events now, it is and has been up on the main page.

I have always been opinionated, but never political exactly, not until recently; my political philosophy has been changing radically over the last year, which is not comfortable. It's been slow, and thoughtful, a long mulling over the suddenly appealing and sensible side of some points of view I'd more or less dismissed years ago. I've felt strangely and dangerously ungrounded while it's gone on, accustomed as I was to knowing pretty well where I stood on everything and why. And above all I've been reading, and reading and talking and reading some more, trying to catch up on all these ideas, and their real-world motivations, that I'd been so shockingly uninformed about. Looking forward to the time when I might come to know enough to make some decisions again, enough to feel qualified to step into the world and push it in my chosen direction, with confidence.

That's seemed a sadly remote future, for the most part. This has been--outside of my own brain and household--a very quiet time for me. But now, since 9/11, I suddenly find I can't shut up. I don't know if this means I'm ready to feel like I know what I'm all about yet. But I think maybe I've reached a point where opening up a dialogue with the world at large will help more than anything else I do.

Current Events

New York after the attack 9/13/2001

Dealing with the paperwork 9/26/2001

War begins 10/7/2001

War analysis 10/9/2001

Nuclear weapons in our arsenal 10/16/2001

Staying in New York vs going very far away 10/20/2001

"Terrorist" is defined as "Green Party member" 11/4/2001 (with updates through 11/9/2001)

First sight of ground zero 11/7/2001

Anthrax at my house 12/20/2001

An overattended rally in the park 2/1/2002

Dream I had 2/28/2002

The Cartesian Plane of Evil 3/18/2002
... The Straw Axis
... War Pigs
... At Whose Expense
... The Candy Shop of Potential Enemy
... Nuclear Posturing
... Above All Law
... How We Look from There
... Enron, Easy As 1-2-4
... Leaving No Law Unturned
... We Will Lie We Won't Lie
... The Understudy Government
... Osama Who?
... Anthrax Who?

Trying to make myself at home 4/5/2002

Arthur Andersen's "get out of jail free" card 4/13/2002

Letter to A20 organizers 4/17/2002

We blew it. 4/22/2002

Bush on the defensive 5/22/2002

[much more current-events commentary was picked up by the weblog]

Looking back 9/11/2002

Further Commentary

An inconclusive note on protests

More will follow, and on a broadening range of topics; I'm looking forward to writing it all. How to go from being a laissez-faire Objectivist to being--well, I don't know exactly yet, but some kind of hippie--and why a person might want to. The false dichotomy of right and left and who built it (and how recently). Why environmental issues and economic ones can't be pulled apart. Who's in charge, and why it will be scary if it turns out nobody is. And some thoughts on what people can and should do about it. That sort of thing.

if I don't get things posted quick enough to suit you. Or if you don't like what I'm saying. Or if you do.


A Note on Process

Maybe just as useful as writing all my essays would be telling you where I get my news. I don't generally get it from the NYT or CNN or any of those outlets, except in passing. There are a handful of sites online where dissenting editorials and particularly choice news articles that feed them are gathered together, and that's a good start if you want to hear news that the official-stamp mainstream news corporations don't emphasize or even mention. This is my daily news routine, which takes between an hour and two hours:

Common Dreams NewsCenterCommon Dreams. The op-eds down the center of the page, the headlines in the green box on the left, the Newswire in the blue box on the right, those are my daily stops. It's a lot of volume right there. If you only want to look at one of these sites, this is the one.

Disinformation. Headlines on the right are often applicable, but the real juice is the daily "Vital Stats" where all sorts of telling source material is assembled thickly. [For weeks now, sadly, the Vital Stats hasn't been updated. I keep checking, but in the meantime I've mostly been supplementing this with extra visits to ZNet and CounterPunch.]

AlterNet. Maybe the best known of these, with more original writing but less material overall. They have a weakness for not-so-funny satirical haranguing (unlabeled satire, worse yet), but the rest of their material is solid stuff.

Independent Media Center. A great idea, a rough interface (not like I'm one to talk). The bad part is that anybody can post an "article" without being screened; the good part is that they get the breaking news from hot spots (whether Seattle or Palestine) faster than anybody. And they get details nobody else will ever report.

Now, by the time you've done a tour of these four sites, you'll have been to a lot of the standard news and commentary outlets on the way--the NYT, CNN, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post, Salon, Slate. I'd love to use those sources for links in my own articles more often, but they all require registration, and generally their articles remain free for seven days, after which you have to pay to read them. I may pay into them myself sometimes but it would be crazy to expect other people to go to that trouble just in order to follow my links. That's why a heavy preponderance of my links go to Common Dreams or AlterNet pages--they reprint other sources' articles, under Fair Use copyright law, and when those sites post something online it stays freely available. Linkrot is a real problem for writing current-events commentary online; I want you to understand that I do indeed read a variety of news sources, but I link mostly to the ones that I know won't rot out of my essay later on.

Here are some other sources, of all varieties, that I check in with periodically but by no means daily.

And of course, Google is your friend. Get good at doing Google searches; once you know a little about what you want, Google can tell you a lot more, if you stick with it.