Duck! and Gather

Archive for September 2006

Well, it’s time I let go of the ambiguity and, perhaps, unknowability, of 9/11. I recently finished a three-day Fall solstice fast. Usually, during these multi-day fasts, my mind is clear and demeanor quite calm. Yet this time, my conversations were animated, and my dreams were troubled and cyclical. All of this disturbance concerned the troubling ambiguity of 9/11.

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t “do” ambiguity well. At least, I haven’t done so in the past. But I believe that as adults, we need to learn to live with the ambiguity not merely of important things, but of all things. So it’s time I grew up.

Essentially, I see 9/11 in the following way: Roughly speaking, there are two sets of explanatory stories: (1) “Conventional”; and (2) “Conspiracy”. The Conventional stories have it that legal culpability for 9/11 rests solely with Bin Laden, his followers, and his supporting Islamic jihadists, and none of “us”. In contrast, the Conspiracy stories say that some of “us” are culpable for 9/11. Among both sets of stories, there is great variability. Still, this dividing line seems apt.

Having looked closely at both sets of stories, I’m left with the belief that each suffers from certain serious weaknesses in reasoned explanation. In my view, the weakness of the Conventional stories is scientific in nature. In particular, in my view, the biggest weakness concerns the absence of a sound, scientific explanation for the collapse of WTC Building 7. This absence is especially troubling because among all of the events of 9/11, the collapse of WTC 7 seems most discrete, limited, recorded, and amenable to rigorous scientific analysis.

For the various Conspiracy stories, the biggest weakness, in my view, concerns human nature. 9/11 was mass murder on an epic scale. Thus far, it seems fair to say that 9/11 was the defining event of the new milleneum. In my view of human nature, it is especially troubling to the Conspiracy case that no “Deep Throat” has as yet emerged revealing the hidden “inside” aspects of 9/11.

At the end of the day, almost everything I’ve read about both sides of the argument is circumstantial in nature. The only non-testimonial “direct” evidence I’ve seen comprises the raw footage of the video “911 Eyewitness“, and the story about Professor Jones finding thermate in molten steel allegedly from the WTC ruins. But the problem with the raw video footage is that it is too fuzzy for certainty. The problem with the second story is that the evidentiary trail of Professor Jones’ thermate samples depends upon our blind trust.

So for me, there it is. 9/11 remains purely ambiguous. But as such, that fact alone is interesting enough to me to merit a few blog entries.

Read this article on what Pakistani President Musharraf said in his memoir: Musharraf saw fighting US as suicidal. Basically, he said that, in the wake of 9/11, it would have been suicidal for Pakistan to choose to fight the US. So instead, he flipped Pakistan 180 degrees with respect to Islamic radicalism.

Now read this article from the New York Times: Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat. More than three years after the start of the war, the spy agencies now say something that was completely obvious in early 2003 before the bombing even started.

Now, I’m someone who believes that intelligence is more or less evenly distributed around the globe. So I find it hard to believe that the reason the US started bombing Iraq in 2003, and claimed this bombing would reduce Islamic radical terrorism, was due to mere stupidity.

If not stupidity, then what? Recall that both American political parties supported this false “reasoning” in 2003.

I guess what surprises me most is not the uselessness of the US government. Rather, it is the blinding burst of honesty — ie. stating the painfully obvious — coming from the Pakistani leader.

Could it be that the political leaders of other countries are actually real humans, whereas those of our country are simply Corporate proxies?

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  • Comments Off on It’s not a real site until the first flame

Nearly three years to the day I started this blog, it has finally crossed the chasm. Let’s look at a little history of this blog:

But since February, there this blog had stood. Month after month, unique users continued to grow. A handful of commenters (particularly AndI, Sean, and Tom) engaged me in some pleasant back and forth. But otherwise, all was quiet on the blog front.

Just this instant, I checked my site stats and it tells me the site has received 937 unique users thus far this month. But even with nearly 1000 unique users, this site has felt sort of like a child to me. That is, it has felt like a site living in a false dreamworld of quiet readers, plus a handful of polite, highly reasonable commenters. I wondered: would this site be forever consigned to the fantasy world of a 19th century English library?

Today, we have our answer. Thankfully, it is a resounding “no!”. For today, this site finally grew up, and entered the real world. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you America, in these salad days of the new milleneum.

That’s right. Today, this site received its first “flame” comment.

The gates are now wide open, people! There’s nothing stopping you anymore. Post that comment!

Sure, it took nearly three years. But make no mistake. Today, Duck! and Gather became a real site.

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  • Comments Off on Old Podcasts Deleted

I’m almost out of disk space on my site, so I’ve gone ahead and deleted podcasts 001-052 which had been available from the following XML file: That file is still on this site so you should be able to see the desciptions of these deleted podcasts. If you’d like to listen to any, please leave a comment here, or send me an email. Sorry about this.

With unique users on this site well on the way to crossing the 1000 barrier this month (for the first time), I figured this was a good time to clear up some stuff. In the previous posting, I mention that a couple of engineer friends of mine recently questioned my sanity concerning my take on 9/11. I figured that if they thought that, a good number of you do too.

You may all be correct on that score. But I didn’t want to leave you with misconceptions. One that I could see arising concerns my position and beliefs about Corporations. With a tag-line that starts “People vs.Corporations…”, one might conclude that I’m a “bomb throwing anti-corporate activist”.

I may be crazy, but I’m definitely not that crazy. Although I do believe that the greatest current threat to the security and prosperity of America concerns certain Corporations and Industries, I don’t believe that all Corporations are evil.

First, I don’t even believe in good vs. evil. As I have podcasted more than a few times, I believe instead in (attraction, aversion) vs. (love, wisdom). To see what that means, check out my podcasts on this point. (If I wasn’t so lazy I’d give you the links — well, if you’re interested, just leave a commont or otherwise ping me, and I’ll look for the links.)

Second, I have a more nuanced view of Corporations. Basically, I see Corporations like boa constrictors or pythons. When such snakes hatch out of their eggs, they are really cute little guys. And while they remain baby snakes, they’re really fun to have around.

But when they’ve reached full maturity, and have become massive and immensely powerful, they are now dangerous. Your nice little baby python that you once played with can now wrap itself around your neck and with one little squeeeze, you are toast.

I think Corporations are similar. So for example, I can find no evil or excessive aversion or attachment in any of the Internet companies. The oldest ones are only 10 years old. Ten years in the life span of a Corporation is nothing. The Internet companies are still babies — all fun and play and spit-ups.

But give these tykes another 50 years or so, and I predict that cute and fuzzy Yahoo, Google, EBay, and Amazon, if they are still around in 2056, will have become dangerous adult pythons.

Similarly, looking around at the Corporations and Industries that are 50-years-old or older today, we come to Big Food, Big Pharm, Big Media, what Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex, and so on. My blog and podcast has looked closely at these Industries and has argued that today, in 2006 America, reasoned arguments hold that these Industries seem to cause more harm than good. Again, root through my podcasts more for detail.

Clear as mud?

A couple of good friends of mine are engineers. They assure me that believing that any of the WTC buildings collapsed due to controlled demolition is a sure sign of early-onset dementia. The problem with this diagnosis of me is that if correct, I would have no way of knowing that because, by definition, I’d be demented. Demented people don’t know they’re demented. So this is where I need your help.

Here are the two pieces of data that, collectively, “pushed me over the edge” on WTC Building 7:

1. Complete 911 Timeline (a collection of summaries of a collection of news stories)
2. 911 Eyewitness (a 1:44:40 long video)

What Complete Timeline represents for me is persuasive evidence that more than a few people had prior knowledge of the events of 9/11, ranging from pretty good knowledge to down right specific knowledge. In particular, on that site, I looked at the Warning Signs page, and the Insider Trading page.

Those pages shook me out of my certainty that all of the 9/11 “conspiracy theories” were false. After reading those pages, I now had doubt. “If more than a few people had prior knowledge of 9/11,” I thought, “it stands to reason that at least some of those people took prior steps to take advantage of it.” But what steps and who?

In this state of unsettling doubt that had replaced my prior certainty, I watched the 911 Eyewitness video. I’ve now watched it twice. I’m trying to think up how this video is false concerning its analysis of the collapse of WTC Building 7. I confess that, barring “doctoring” of the video data, I can’t see why or how this analysis about Building 7 is false.

The trouble with that is that if one believes that 911 Eyewitness‘ simple analysis of the collapse of WTC Building 7 is correct, logic gives one a swift kick in the rear, knocking one over the line, and into the abyss of the conspiracy madness.

So here’s the help I’m looking for. I’m not looking for anyone to argue that the analysis of 911 Eyewitness on Building 7 is correct. Hell, I already think that.

Instead, I’m looking for someone to explain to me why that analysis is incorrect or false or misleading. In other words, I’m looking for someone to “debunk” that analysis. I couldn’t find such a debunking page on the Internet. Maybe one of you could be the first.

UPDATE: I’ve come across some pages that purport to “debunk” 911 Eyewitness:

  1. Rick Siegel’s 9-11 Eyewitness: Sensationalism and Pseudo-Science
  2. 9-11 Eyewitness Review Part 1 and Moron 9-11 Eyewitness
  3. “9/11 Eyewitness” is Probably Disinformation

I’ve ranked these pages in decreasing order of what I found useful. Collectively, they do seem to provide some “reasonable doubt” about many of the arguments raised in 911 Eyewitness.

The problem, however, is that not a single one of these pages addresses what concerns me most about that video. Namely: the video’s analysis regarding the speed of collapse of WTC Building 7.

I suppose this is my remaining small question: Can one of you do me a favor and debunk the analysis of 911 Eyewitness concerning the speed of WTC 7’s collapse (found at 1:12:47 to 1:17:32 of the video)? Thanks.

Surely there exists a serviceable middle road in this country, no? I’m still reading various opinions on what 9/11 was all about, and I seem able only to find zero-sum, extremist positions. Basically, in this nation, there seem to be only three possibilities about 9/11:

1. Neocon View: Bin Laden and Islamofascism (and maybe Iraq) were 100% responsible for 9/11 (this Bush administration position has been swallowed whole by most Americans, including the Left, see, e.g., opinion in the SF Chronicle, opinion in The Progressive, etc.)

2. Goverment Paranoia: 9/11 was a neocon plot/CIA black op, and Bin Laden is just a patsy boogeyman (see, e.g., “Loose Change” video).

3. Anti-Jewish View: Zionists were 100% responsible for 9/11, and Bin Laden is just a Mossad illusion (see, e.g., the anonymous screed “Stranger Than Fiction”).

Now I get why #1 is a common view within America. After all, we humans are social creatures, and the gravitational pull toward lining up with dominant, common beliefs is strong in any culture, not merely America.

But I don’t get why once a person leaves the #1 story, he/she necessarily seems to land on #2 or #3.

Is it just because I’m from Canada that I can envision a more complex story — ie. one that is a nuanced combination of, more or less, each of #1, #2, and #3 (see., e.g., 9/11: OK, I’m Finally Sold)?

If you are fat, is it because of what you eat? Or how much you eat? Or how much or little you exercise? Or how much or little you sleep? Or whether you have the “thrify” gene? Or because you harbor microbes that make you fat?

I’ve read articles arguing each of these things. What ever happened to answers like: “some or all of the above”?

When Americans take mutiple choice tests in high school, do any choose the “some or all of the above” choice? Or maybe American tests don’t even have that choice because Americans are simply incapable of comprehending multiple, nuanced causation. Please fill me in. I didn’t go to high school or college here. Is the country really this simple and extreme?

According my website stats, unique vistors to this site are on a pace to well exceed 1000 this month — blowing away the previous high. Yet only AndI, Sean, and Tom consistently comment. Are the other 997 of you just spammers? If not, hit the frickin comment link already. 🙂 You don’t need to sign in or anything.

To this point in this blog/podcast series, I’ve been pretty much satisfied just to get these thoughts off my chest. But now that I’ve waded into this 9/11 morass, I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts than in speaking mine.

for the money has gone too far

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September 2006
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