On Sept. 11, 2001, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, not even a MySpace September 16, 2015 12:50 PM   Subscribe

…but there was a MetaFilter. Will Oremus gave us a shout-out five days ago in a short blog post for Slate.
posted by Going To Maine to MetaFilter-Related at 12:50 PM (69 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, interesting. I was trying to think of what other major (relatively...) sites from then are still around. Here's the slashdot thread.

BoingBoing was around, as well as Something Awful but I'm having trouble finding their discussions of that day.

It's interesting to think that MeFi provides a rare surviving online snapshot of that moment.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2015


Fark thread
posted by Sangermaine at 1:51 PM on September 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am mildly amused that the screenshot is of the modern theme for MetaFilter.

Heh, I just found that Fark thread, too. It looks like Something Awful and BoingBoing did what wasn't discussed in that short Slate article but has been noted in the past: everyone changed their URLS. That MetaFilter thread is full of dead links not because the sites are down, but because the companies have reformatted their CMS (or whatever they were called back then) a number of times in the past years. Every time that changed, it made it a little harder to find old articles and coverage. You can dig through archives now, but you can't see how the internet looked and responded as easily as clicking on old links.

Here's a Pinterest board of ... things from 9/11/2001 (I'm not up on Pinterest lingo, and I hate their "log in to really see anything" style, but I digress).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:58 PM on September 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have read Metafilter nearly every day since way back around 2000-ish.

On September 11, all the news sites were crashing. Only metafilter seemed to be up and running fine.

So guess my official join date without looking at my profile page.
posted by Windigo at 2:03 PM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought "but there was metafilter" when I saw that headline so I am glad someone pointed it out to him.

I was a newish member then (though I don't believe I participated in the thread, I know I read it eventually). Like a lot of people, I read and lurked for more than a year before signing up.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2015


Reading that old Metafilter thread threw me back to that day in an extremely visceral way that I really did not expect.

I am now in the mood to drink a beer or three and quietly think about a lot of things.
posted by erst at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I learned about 9/11 on the FuckedCompany.com message boards
Learn how to program in CRM language!
posted by thelonius at 3:00 PM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to reread the thread because I will have erst's reaction and I need to do some more work, but (as I've said before) that thread was my basic news/reaction source while I sat in a midtown office building pretty much alone (they'd sent everyone home, but there was no way to get to Queens, so I stayed put) and hoped things weren't going to get any worse. That was my primal MetaFilter memory; I didn't join for almost another year, but from then on the site felt like home. The Oremus post is a nice shoutout indeed.
posted by languagehat at 3:03 PM on September 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Boingboing has a sensible URL scheme for the blog archive:
http://boingboing.net/2001/09/11
and it looks like they hosted the (very brief) discussion on quicktopic, which is apparently still up. http://www.quicktopic.com/9/H/ttXUkZCJY5u

Kottke's posts are still there, including his (now linkrotted) roundup of photos and eyewitness accounts.
posted by zamboni at 3:15 PM on September 16, 2015


I just re-read that thread and damn. I forgot how pit-of-my-stomach scared that made me. It brought back alot of those memories. I remember clearly that the Internet was so bogged down that nothing worked. Metafilter was the only site I could get to, but it would take FOREVER to load new comments. Interestingly, Matt had opened up another round of sign-ups and I was able to join (without the 5$ fee) a few days before. I didn't post in the 911 thread because I had nothing to add, but it was reassuring to get real time info from people who were in NYC.
posted by Benway at 3:23 PM on September 16, 2015


There was also a pretty great 9/11 thread in a community called Losers. I bet I looked here too.
posted by Oyéah at 4:07 PM on September 16, 2015


The constant searching and loading and refreshing and calling friends and flipping channels and going out and driving around in circles wondering what the hell I was supposed to do. I was a very naive, sheltered 18 year old about to go off to college the next week.

I can't remember where I landed here from, but 9/11 was the first time I ever read MetaFilter- weirdly, it's one of my principal memories about that day. And then I've been here almost daily, since. I never thought of us as 'social media', but I guess it sort of was, before the term was invented. Interesting article, thanks for sharing.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 4:13 PM on September 16, 2015


I notice as I re-read the thread that there are only a handful (at best) of members in that discussion who seem to post or comment here anymore. Any of you care to chime in?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 4:36 PM on September 16, 2015


Okay Imma tell my "kids who didn't live through 9/11 story" here. There is rarely an appropriate moment to tell this story and I need sympathy. There's a really charming children's book about 9/11 called "Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey" which my mother, who was a literacy teacher before she retired, used with her students to help them process 9/11. It's about a historic NYC fireboat put into service in 1931, the John J. Harvey, one of the most powerful fireboats in history, which is retired (the NYFD only has two left now, I think) but rescued and restored by preservationists (during the particularly dark day of historic preservation when there's no state money for it), who bring her out of her dock on 9/11 to help with the boat lift bringing people out of lower Manhattan to New Jersey, when over the radio crackles, "John J. Harvey, John J. Harvey, do your pumps still work?" Her pumps DID still work, and she went to lower Manhattan and pumped water for 80 straight hours to help control the fires until water pressure was restored to hydrants, then went back into quiet retirement. It is a very Mr. Rogers sort of book, in that it does not pull punches and there are some pretty fucking harrowing illustrations of the planes hitting the towers, but it focuses on the helpers, and it gives kids a narrative of people helping and fixing.

Anyway, my kids found this book at my mom's house digging through her picture books -- she's retired -- and she read it to them and they LOVED the John J. Harvey's heroic adventures. But having been born a decade after 9/11, they had no concept of the reality of the setting (neither my husband nor I would read it to them, it was too upsetting for us; my mother was desensitized to the book by years of reading it with kids who were alive for 9/11 and needed an adult to help them understand it).

So a few day after we got back from grandma's house, I got a call from the preschool: "Your son keeps building towers of blocks and flying toy airplanes into them and shouting 'BAM, BOOM, it's 9/11, OH NO JOHN J HARVEY PUT OUT THE FIRE!' and it's upsetting the teachers, could you talk to him about how that's inappropriate?"

So ... yeah, I blame grandma. That may have been my most excruciating parenting moment so far. Talking to them about condoms will pale in comparison to the time I had to explain that they couldn't play "planes crash into buildings." (It was seriously bad, though -- they were like "why?" and I was like "mommy cannot really talk about it without getting really upset, it's just bad, it would just be better if you stopped.") THEY DO NOT COVER THIS IN PARENTING BOOKS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2015 [124 favorites]


I have an especially vivid memory of standing (!) at a computer terminal in the basement of my law school on that day, hitting refresh after refresh on metafilter.com, desperate for updates. I may not have signed up for an account here for another three years, but that thread and this date are always linked in my mind.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 5:50 PM on September 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


if Metafilter was, then surely, so was whatever media we used to share news online before that (Email chains? Phone trees?), and offline before that (word of mouth).

I really enjoyed this short post and I agree with what I think is his central thesis, that there's nothing new under the sun. I remember the days surrounding this in excruciating vividness because of my family's nearness to the events and my ongoing and extreme anxiety during the weeks of victim-search and recovery and funerals in my home county. I still have the email chains that flew back and forth and they did indeed; I also belonged to two group-of-friends blogs with similar documentation. And I think it's true, without a doubt, that misinformation and in-the-moment confusion were with us then, as they always have been, and I can point to some of it in this personal documentation. But I think it's important not to dismiss the factors of speed and scale in understanding how that phenomenon has magnified. I was emailing my family and friends. I was chatting on blogs with people I already knew, in cities near and far. There was probably a fairly low ceiling to the number of people who could have seen any of that, just as there was, at the time, in MetaFilter readership. Going back further, in the mid-80s, when something happened, you talked about it with people you saw that day at work, school, and in the neighborhood or who you talked to on the phone. If it made it into letters, there was a few-day delay. Most of this was person-to-person. Major mass media funneled and circulated information widely, but not in a personal manner.

Already by 2001, it was possible to communicate faster and more widely than the mid-80s allowed, but as he points out, it was nowhere near as fast or as wide. The people I could reach with my misinformation or speculation in 2001 were not a fraction as many as I can now with a single hashtag on Twitter. So there's a threading-the-needle distinction there. Nothing new about the way people conceive and share information about events, but there are differences of degree in how we do it. Also, I'm not sure that in the 80s we thought of ourselves (if we weren't in the media) as people who needed to share information. Either everyone was going through it with you and saw the same information - like the Challenger explosion - or you saw something really unusual, and you became a personal eyewitness and told people you knew, and/or the media. But there wasn't as much of a middle zone where you just broadcast outward your observations and speculations into the stew and left the world to sift through it for anything usable. I can't think of a situation where that was really a role people who didn't work (in some way) in media accepted for themselves.
posted by Miko at 6:16 PM on September 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


The fireboat story reminded me that I love a chance to mention a wonderful short documentary about the thousands of independent boat operators who helped people evacuate lower Manhattan - Boatlift. It's wonderful.
posted by Miko at 6:18 PM on September 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I learned about the attacks on 9/11 via Slashdot but my office had a TV in the break room so we all immediately gathered there.
posted by octothorpe at 6:22 PM on September 16, 2015


Ooh, fuckedcompany.com! I miss that site so much. It was hilarious, and pitch-perfect for its time.
posted by Melismata at 6:26 PM on September 16, 2015


Yes, people should know, the 9/11 evacuation of lower Manhattan was the largest boat lift evacuation in history, larger and faster than Dunkirk, and organized on the fly by civilians who wanted to help and ran TOWARDS disaster, and the excellent US disaster preparedness systems and Coast Guard that made it possible.

We are not always so good at government but we are excellent at ad hoc committees.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:44 PM on September 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


I had just moved into an apartment in SF four days before 9/11/2001. I wasn't used to having a TV in the house, so I went straight to Metafilter for the news. Eventually I turned on the TV but then realized that the commentary on Metafilter was way more informative.
posted by bendy at 8:59 PM on September 16, 2015


if Metafilter was, then surely, so was whatever media we used to share news online before that (Email chains? Phone trees?)

Usenet. You should've seen the rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.sf.fandom threads that day.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:11 PM on September 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


We are not always so good at government but we are excellent at ad hoc committees.

One of the lessons of 9/11 we should've learned, but didn't, is that the usual media narrative of disasters like this becoming paniced, frenzied free for alls just isn't true, that ordinary people can actually be trusted to do the right thing when push comes to shove.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:13 PM on September 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is my major beef with post-apocalyptic stories, and one of the reasons my interest in The Walking Dead petered out.

See also the media picture during Hurricane Katrina compared with when it was possible to take stock later: Here from the LA Times: RITA'S AFTERMATH; Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy; Rumors supplanted accurate information and media magnified the problem. Rapes, violence and estimates of the dead were wrong.
posted by Harald74 at 2:25 AM on September 17, 2015


I have a slightly odd September 11th story.
I was in Plymouth, UK trawling round some secondhand CD shops.

There was a radio in the first shop, but I couldn't quite tell what was going on, some sort of attack. There was a TV in the second shop with a fuzzy picture that just showed a big dust cloud over Manhattan.
My girlfriend at the time was annoyed that I was distracted by the TV and asked what was going on (lovely girl, absurdly clever, but a bit obtuse at times) and I said that it looked like someone nuked New York.

The woman in the shop turned to us and said, in a slightly horrified tone "They have!"

It was 25 minutes later, when I got home to turn on the TV news that I discovered that it wasn't actually a Nuclear attack.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:06 AM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of the lessons of 9/11 we should've learned, but didn't, is that the usual media narrative of disasters like this becoming paniced, frenzied free for alls just isn't true, that ordinary people can actually be trusted to do the right thing when push comes to shove.

This has actually been known for a looooooooong time in the disaster research community. The pop culture narrative against it remains pretty strong, alas. (See, e.g., A Paradise Built In Hell)
posted by Going To Maine at 6:28 AM on September 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Usenet. You should've seen the rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.sf.fandom threads that day.

Here's the largest one for rasf. The main one for rasw appears to be an ugly 745 post thread entitled (POLL) 2 minutes in a room alone with Osama Bin Laden which I choose not to link to.
posted by zamboni at 6:34 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee, I'm not sure how I feel about that story, but I sure as hell am blinking back some feelings.
posted by adamrice at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2015


adamrice: "Eyebrows McGee, I'm not sure how I feel about that story, but I sure as hell am blinking back some feelings."

It was utterly mortifying, I wanted to fall through the floor.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:06 AM on September 17, 2015


We are not always so good at government but we are excellent at ad hoc committees

I find this worth unpacking a little more. Nobody's always good at goverment, but the underlying reason that the boatlift participants were so well coordinated is government. Their ad hoc committee could not have formed or worked properly without the fact that almost all marine operators have been through significant licensing programs involving training on legal compliance and obligations to provide life-saving services as well as time at sea, and they were able to quickly coordinate and establish an imromptu chain of command by using systems and protocols developed within government and military bodies to afford exactly this kind of ability - dedicated radio channels and communications protocols, legal and service standards about who yields to whom and who has what jurisdiction to command emergency uses of waterway facilities, etc.

I agree that it's true people are far more capable of coordination than we expect and that in the world of disaster planning, it's known that people will be obedient to infrastructures established for them. But even that planning, that degree of infrastructure, when it works, is there to be put in place because of all the hours and planning that take place in between disasters, in non-emergency conditions, by analysts, planners, and communications officers in the governmental bodies who know they are going to be tasked with managing the inevitable disasters.

It's a two-edged sword, and it's about leadership and coordination. Ad hoc comittees did a certain amount of good in Hurricane Sandy, but a lot of them also impeded work and diverted resources and created their own set of problems when they rushed down and tried to get involved in a response in which they ended up sometimes being redundant, unfair, and unable to assist much with actual material need (as well as becoming one more mouth to feed and one more body needing housed and one more car needing gas. The more difficult work that took place during the stabilization almost wholly took place as a result of organized groups that existed before the storm, and existed after, absorbing and redirecting the sudden impulse to do good.
posted by Miko at 8:04 AM on September 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


God, that day. I was working IT for the WI Supreme Court and Circuit courts. Our outgoing connection was absolutely assaulted and we were having real trouble keeping up with the traffic. Many websites - CNN, Slashdot, etc ditched the fancy HTML and went with plain text, which helped, somewhat. I built a squid proxy in about 45 minutes which also helped. Then I spent the rest of the day in abject horror, hitting F5 on Metafilter, Slashdot, Fark, ArsTechnica and CNN, and chatting on IRC.

It wasn't just us - scores of ISPs and websites crumpled under the load.

If you live in the flyover states, contrails in the sky are a thing. The only days you don't see them are cloudy days.

Those were clear blue cloudless skies and the lack of contrails was striking.

That night after I put my son to bed, I set up a webserver at home to cache/mirror images for some website (Ars, maybe. I forget). I had just started dating the woman I would marry, and she came over and we watched the IPs roll in from around the world, and added new images as they came in.

Here's something nobody ever remembers from that time - The anthrax attacks. Shortly after 9/11, somebody had dropped a bag of flour while in our office building, and we had a full hazmat response with the showers, and body suits and everything.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:08 AM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I will always remember the clear blue skies with no contrails. Also the frequent F-14 flyovers that sounded like the beginning of the end of the world.

To this day, on these bright blue September days with perfect sunshine, I think of them as 9/11 days. The weather was so elegaically beautiful. The weekend after, people were really out and about, fighting loneliness and alienation. People were in parks, lying in the sunshine, spending time with friends. I'm often sad thinking about that turning point, a vulnerable and open-minded moment in which, with the right leadership, we had a chance to take an entirely different path, as a nation, than we did.

Here's something nobody ever remembers from that time - The anthrax attacks.

Oh, I wish I didn't remember them. But it was quite a hysteria. The peak for me was when the parents from a school program I was running blanched at my mention that we'd be having donuts for a snack. "Powdered sugar donuts?" they asked, horrified. Seems their school had banned powdered sugar donuts, because...it would be so easy to sprinkle them with anthrax, I guess - it's hard for me to even understand this line of thinking, but because the Washington DC anthrax envelopes were filled with a powdered sugar medium, they had developed a horror of powdered sugar in general, and believed their 5th-graders could easily be the target of a maniacal attack via Halloween cider donuts. I hesitated to point out that you could pretty much put anthrax spores on anything if you were a maniacal killer, they're too small to be easily visible, but they were so focused on the sugar. And really felt like they might become victims at any moment.

The whole thing fucked NY Metro people up especially. I don't think we're really unfucked to this day.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, I remember the anthrax vividly. My grandmother, not a fearful type, opened all her mail with latex gloves on for weeks afterwards. Even weirder, my brother was driving on the Hutch one day and swore up and down that someone had blown a cloud of white powder on his car while passing him; he actually took a prophylactic course of doxycycline, IIRC. It was insanity, but it seemed perfectly rational to all of us at the time.

The Well, btw, was another bit of social media that was certainly around in 2001. Most Well people watched in horror from the West Coast, as it's a very Bay Area-based system, but there was a big NYC contingent in 2001 and that community was my real-time lifeline that day. Someone in the Bay Area posted a list of all the NYC Well people and marked us all off as we checked in online and otherwise. And I recently got together with a friend who lives in LA and he still remembers that I was the one who told him about the attacks, as he started casually chatting with me on the Well about 10 AM EST that morning, as he often did.
posted by holborne at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The whole thing fucked NY Metro people up especially. I don't think we're really unfucked to this day.

I know I ain't. even just seeing shots of the opening-day walkthrough that the New York Times ran the day the museum opened gave me some PTSD.

Oh, I remember the anthrax vividly. My grandmother, not a fearful type, opened all her mail with latex gloves on for weeks afterwards. Even weirder, my brother was driving on the Hutch one day and swore up and down that someone had blown a cloud of white powder on his car while passing him; he actually took a prophylactic course of doxycycline, IIRC. It was insanity, but it seemed perfectly rational to all of us at the time.

So one of my old roommates, someone I moved in with in 2006, moved to Australia in 2008. She left behind a whole crapton of stuff and told me to "keep what you want and sell the rest". And one of the things I found, while digging through the pile, was an Israeli army gas mask, still in the box. This particular roommate had a bunch of weird things - she was a half-Mexican gamer who studied iaido, so I was equally likely to find LARP books, tortilla presses, and sword polishing kits - but this was weird even for her. I emailed her to ask "what the heck", and it took her a few days to remember "oh, yeah, I got that during the whole anthrax thing and then forgot I had it."

I think I put it on Ebay or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I remember the "emergency kits" everyone was telling us all to get and a gas mask was one of the things you were supposed to have, along with a ton of other stuff and $200 cash.
posted by Miko at 10:50 AM on September 17, 2015


Every year on 9/11, I re-read two things: the MetaFilter thread and this post at Tomato Nation (written by Sarah Bunting, or "Sars" of the late great lamented MBTV aka TWOP), and wonder if she ever found Don.
posted by tzikeh at 12:36 PM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was on a website called okayplayer. I'd been a member of that community for a couple of years in a very active way. I was also on a hiatus from work -- I'd quit my profession as an attorney and was hanging around trying to decide what to do next, and had decided to get a job as a legal secretary (which worked out surprisingly well for me) and had gone on my first interview the day before. But I remember real time calming down local friends, saying, no one wants to bomb Oakland and none of us are in the landmark buildings in SF so just hush now.

I didn't have a tv at home and with dial up (DIAL UP? This really WAS a long time ago) I couldn't get on most websites, so those who were watching it on tv and posting on the website were keeping us updated. I didn't believe that they were telling the literal truth when they said the buildings had fallen.

Eyebrows McGee, I'm trying to remember whether it was in Ken Kalfus's A Disorder Peculiar to the Country or Diane Spiotta's Eat the Document in which immediately post 9/11 the children played a game in which they jumped off the front porch holding hands over and over. They called the game "Suicide Pack." Anyway, that's what your story reminded me of.
posted by janey47 at 12:47 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


okay in all the times I've looked at that post, it wasn't until I looked at the slate article that I saw the typo.
posted by janey47 at 5:04 PM on September 17, 2015


!!! I had no idea! It looks like Will Oremus missed it too.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:53 PM on September 17, 2015


I live on the West Coast, so by the time I woke up, the attacks were already over. At the time, I was suffering from severe undiagnosed sleep apnea, so every morning when I woke up, I was very, very groggy, confused and kind of in a dreamlike state for an hour or so.

I got up, and took a shower, and then I walked back into the bedroom, and I turned the TV on, and then I walked back into the bathroom. Just some audio to wake up to.

I will never forget the tone of Katie Couric's voice as she tried to describe the scene. I thought to myself, what could have possibly happened to make perky little Katie sound so sad?

And then I found out.

Still groggy, I tried to figure out what I should do. Who did I know that lived in New York?

I remembered that the father of a friend of mine worked on Wall Street. So I called my friend. Is your father OK, I asked. He's OK, my friend said, but my mother works for American Express, right in the vicinity. She's OK too, he said. She walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which she had never done before.

My friend said that his mother told him that people were jumping out of the buildings.

That didn't make any sense to me. I hung up. I was still groggy and very confused.

And, in a way, that confusion has never left.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:07 PM on September 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember the sinking panic while holding my 4 month old daughter, looking at the TV as the second tower collapsed. Feeling like it was the end of the world and feeling so bad for bringing my baby into this mess.

Then my grandmother died 1 month later as the bombing in Afghanistan began and I held my 5 month old daughter feeling like the it was end of the world again, worried about the world my daughter would inherit.

Then the 7 more years of bush drove me absolutely mad.

She's 14 now, doing her homework beside me, a beautiful and bright light, determined to make a difference in the world. I'm betting on her that she will. She's been the one thing that's been holding me together all these years and getting me up and busting my ass every day to give her the best chance she can have. Because she grew up in this mess and still has hope. That means everything in the world to me.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:46 PM on September 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


and this post at Tomato Nation (written by Sarah Bunting, or "Sars" of the late great lamented MBTV aka TWOP), and wonder if she ever found Don.

Tomato Nation is still rolling, alongside SDB's other great work at Previously.tv (the new home of MBTV's original founders), including a couple of podcasts with them, and she has a True Crime blog at http://www.the-blotter.com/. A hard worker, Buntsy!

And every year on September 11 she posts a new essay on Tomato Nation, always well-written and thoughtful. And people chime in in the comments thread to say Happy Birthday to Don, wherever he may be.

(P.S., tzikeh, don't know if you remember, but you were the one who first alerted me to 9/11--you posted to the little mailing list saying OH MY GOD ARE YOU WATCHING THIS? TURN ON YOUR TVS!, and I was at work and feeling peevish, like, WHAT THE HELL DOES SHE MEAN 'TURN ON YOUR TVS', WHAT CHANNEL? So I checked cnn.com, which was extremely hard to get into at that point, and I learned what the hell you meant.)
posted by theatro at 6:46 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


She's 14 now, doing her homework beside me, a beautiful and bright light, determined to make a difference in the world. I'm betting on her that she will. She's been the one thing that's been holding me together all these years and getting me up and busting my ass every day to give her the best chance she can have. Because she grew up in this mess and still has hope. That means everything in the world to me.

Annika - have a listen to Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" sometime. Cockburn had exactly the same reaction you have, watching his own daughters growing up in the midst of the Cold War and yet still having enough hope to want to go on and do things and fall in love and basically live in the light.

(I like the Barenaked Ladies cover best, myself.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Salon's Table Talk was my lifeline that day. My San Francisco-bound ferry wasn't allowed to dock in the city that morning, so the few dozen passengers who (crazily) intended to get to work that day spent hours on the bay as the boat cruised between the Ferry Building and Pier 49. Back and forth. Back and forth. We couldn't get any news. Some of the passengers came up with crazy rumors - there was a plane heading to the Transamerica Building, there was a plane aimed at the Golden Gate Bridge. Finally the ferry went back to Vallejo.

I had no tv in the house I'd just bought and knew no one in my new town. So I sat at the computer and went to Table Talk. The thread about the attacks is long gone of course, but I have an acute memory of staring at it all day. Hitting refresh, refresh, refresh.
posted by goofyfoot at 9:02 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


everything2 was around back then-- I'm sure there's at least some interesting daylogs.
posted by 4th number at 11:09 PM on September 17, 2015


Having now looked, that is... an understatement.
posted by 4th number at 11:16 PM on September 17, 2015


Shoutout to Doug:

This is going to be a big turning point in the history and character of this country, I think.
posted by Doug at 9:51 AM on September 11, 2001 [175 favorites +] [!]

posted by General Malaise at 11:36 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


But even that planning, that degree of infrastructure, when it works, is there to be put in place because of all the hours and planning that take place in between disasters, in non-emergency conditions, by analysts, planners, and communications officers in the governmental bodies who know they are going to be tasked with managing the inevitable disasters.

I didn't learn until years later that they had created an emergency "all planes out of the sky now" protocol during the cold war and kept practicing it after the end of the cold war because... just because. Every year. Even though no one had any idea what might make it useful, it was on the books and it was practiced - and it was why they could ground all of the planes in the air so quickly on that day - a protocol put together for an entirely different purpose that continued to be practiced because government just DOES that sort of thing. Sometimes inertia is a good thing.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:05 AM on September 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm often sad thinking about that turning point, a vulnerable and open-minded moment in which, with the right leadership, we had a chance to take an entirely different path, as a nation, than we did.

I really want to visit the parallel Earth where President Gore ordered a focused assault on bin Ladin and his immediate camp, took him into custody, and had him tried in a fair court. That's bound to be a pretty different world than ours.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:19 AM on September 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really want to visit the parallel Earth where President Gore ordered a focused assault on bin Ladin and his immediate camp, took him into custody, and had him tried in a fair court.

THANKS A LOT YOU JUST NEARLY MADE ME START CRYING AT WORK
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


GET BACK TO WORK
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on September 18, 2015


I'm impressed that embedded CNN photo still shows up, I think every other image in the thread is broken now. It's also weird to see images in the thread full stop. Having that one final one still there, and that picture specifically is... very striking.

Shoutout to Doug

Also to rebeccablood:
my greatest fear is how our government is going to respond. more erosion of freedom in the name of security. mark my words.
posted by rebeccablood at 6:10 PM on September 11, 2001


Yeah, no shit.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:42 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to think that MeFi provides a rare surviving online snapshot of that moment.

albeit a rather photoshopped snapshot. at one point there were a lot more comments.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:49 AM on September 18, 2015


Idea that I had years ago that I will never execute: Present that thread in a black box theater. I am not an expert on staging, but I usually imagine actors dressed identically in a line stretching off stage left or stage right to the middle of the stage. There is a podium, and actors step to the podium and read the comments from the thread in order. Each actor reads one comment, then they exit to to the opposite end of the stage from where the line extends. You wouldn't try to maintain continuity among commenters, just have at least enough actors to maintain the full line. The date and time of the comment being read are projected behind the actor as they read it.

I hope someone steals this and makes it happen on a relevant 9/11 anniversary.
posted by Kwine at 10:33 AM on September 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


The whole thing fucked NY Metro people up especially. I don't think we're really unfucked to this day.

Of course we're not really unfucked. How can we be when things are still pretty fucked up?

It's fucked up that Ayman al-Zawahiri is still at large and al-Qaeda is still operating. (It's also fucked up that the anthrax attacks remain technically unsolved.) It's further fucked up that everyone from Fox News talking heads to presidential candidate keep insisting that G. W. Bush 'kept us safe'. It's even more fucked up that the renewal of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is being fought over in Congress. It's overwhelmingly fucked up that there's a permanently empty space in the crowded downtown Manhattan skyline that my memory even now fills with the sights from that day.

Fuck.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:22 AM on September 18, 2015


I'm often sad thinking about that turning point, a vulnerable and open-minded moment in which, with the right leadership, we had a chance to take an entirely different path, as a nation, than we did.

You know, I feel that way, too. And it's fucked up and I kind of wish that I could just take a moment of my life to think about the real human tragedy and the real human heroism of that day without thinking about the ugly, ugly politics that followed.

I'm an NY Metro area person, and the community I grew up in was hugely impacted by the 9/11 attacks. Like, you'd see those WTC decals on cars in my hometown as late as 2005 or 2006. I know someone who died, everyone I grew up with knows someone who died, often multiple people. Everyone was personally impacted.

And when I think about the things they did - the way that both their loss and their selflessness, the actual losses and lives of people I knew and grew up with and family and friends - the way that it was all just warped and directed and played with by our political leaders, it makes me sick. Like a visceral feeling, my heart pounds. I can't even go into detail about it sitting here at my desk at work. But I just had to say it. Our leaders at that time brazenly used the personal tragedy of people I knew and loved to push us to war and torture and surveillance, to bring out the worst in this country when we were aching - when we were open - for someone to bring out the best.

So the whole thing is just mushed together in this weird ball of...something. I don't even know.
posted by breakin' the law at 12:21 PM on September 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Our leaders at that time brazenly used the personal tragedy of people I knew and loved to push us to war and torture and surveillance, to bring out the worst in this country when we were aching - when we were open - for someone to bring out the best.

Not just "at that time" - they're still pulling that exact kind of exploitative crap. And it's not just the leaders who do that - some of their followers do as well; at the time that the "trade center mosque" thing was a thing, I saw someone comment on Facebook that the mosque was an insult to New Yorkers and their feelings or something, and I responded that, uh, I was a New Yorker then and I am now and yet I didn't have any problem with the mosque - and the very same guy who'd been haranguing about how we had to consider New Yorker's feelings said "what do I care what you New York libtards think, the whole city's a cesspool."

that was about the time that I started to suspect that there are some people who think on an unconscious level that the 9/11 attacks didn't go far enough. Deep down, some people kind of secretly wish that the whole of the city had been obliterated, not just the Twin Towers, so that the whole city could have been wiped off the map and replaced it with a memorial to give them all a convenient backgroup for their patriotic displays without having to deal with us pesky actual New Yorkers ruining their show.

I don't actually think that - at least not all the time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on September 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


"Deep down, some people kind of secretly wish that the whole of the city had been obliterated, not just the Twin Towers,"

I hear you and those people are being sought and killed everyday.

This damn war.
posted by clavdivs at 4:55 PM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Deep down, some people kind of secretly wish that the whole of the city had been obliterated, not just the Twin Towers,"

I hear you and those people are being sought and killed everyday.


And some of those people are among the ones who were deployed to go kill them.

This damn war.

I hear you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 PM on September 18, 2015


I CAN'T BELIEVE I NEVER NOTICED THE BLATANT TYPO IN THE HEADING AND FIRST SENTENCE UNTIL NOW
posted by John Cohen at 10:42 PM on September 18, 2015


"And some of those people are among the ones who were deployed to go kill them."

That doesn't make sence, even by my standards.
I'm so willing to drop this because the "kinda, maybe, sorta" questions you pose from time to time, makes me kinda feel like i'm living in someone's diary.
posted by clavdivs at 5:50 AM on September 19, 2015


That doesn't make sence

It makes complete sense but I don't think it really is or should be limited to the people deployed, who for the most part are extremely decent folk paying a steep personal price for our bad decisions, but should include the warhawks and armchair jingoists who love the excuse to send them, will only ever want to send more of them, and only feel comfortable when they can justify their exitstence by arguing that they are in a personal state of constant beseigement. But yes, there are plenty of people whose imaginings/threatenings of the even more awful things that it would take to wake the rest of us up are right there on the surface.
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: i'm living in someone's diary.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:41 AM on September 19, 2015


Empress: the "WTC mosque controversy" (I'm using quotes because the whole thing was manufactured) was outrageous and asinine and ugly, no question. But it pales in comparison to how Bush & Co. exploited people's pain over this tragedy to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to do with it, and to enact secret torture and rendition programs and spy on US citizens. 9/11 is still used as a justification for some pretty heinous shit. The Obama administration has played the 9/11 card, too, at times. It's always wrong. But Bush, Jesus Christ, it's like they were almost happy that planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Sometimes I think after it happened, they were thinking "finally, a new enemy that we can get people riled up about."
posted by breakin' the law at 8:55 AM on September 19, 2015


I don't recall saying that the mosque incident was worse than the war, so I'm not sure why you're trying to convince me of that. And Bush is indeed one of the people I don't forgive.

I only brought up the mosque incident because it was how I came to feel that some Americans were thinking that callously of OTHER AMERICANS, simply because they wanted to treat the Towers as their OWN prop rather than something that happened in a city where people who lived in that city maybe had other ideas about how to handle things.

THAT'S what I meant, Claudivs - that yes, members of Al Qaeda and ISIS may have wanted to see New York gone, like you were pointing out, but some of the AMERICANS fighting them may have also wanted to see the whole of New York gone. I know because I think I've talked with some of them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Between Mikos' statement and your last paragraph, your meaning is more clear. The literal nature of those peoples view is distrubing. Crass I was but I'm glad you explained.

Lotta hurt going around and I don't want to add anymore on this topic.
posted by clavdivs at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2015


Theatro: (P.S., tzikeh, don't know if you remember, but you were the one who first alerted me to 9/11--you posted to the little mailing list saying OH MY GOD ARE YOU WATCHING THIS? TURN ON YOUR TVS!,

Wow, I actually do kind of remember that, though memories of that day are a mix of utter vague and stark clarity. And then the whole little list went to the little irc channel and spent the day together, cyber-ly.

What's odd is that I was alerted to it, in Chicago, by a mutual friend of ours who was living in New Jersey and working in Manhattan at the time, who couldn't get a phone call to her mother in... Missouri? Louisiana? Because the cell towers were down (natch), so she IM-med me and asked me to call her mom (to whom I had never spoken before) and tell her that she was okay. I was like... why wouldn't you be okay? And she said, you need to turn on your television. This was about 10 minutes after the first plane hit, I think.

So I called this woman I'd never spoken to before in my life who I doubt even knew I existed, and told her that I was a friend of her daughter's, and that her daughter was okay.

And she said, why wouldn't she be okay.

And I said... you need to turn on your television.

And then the other plane hit.
posted by tzikeh at 2:43 PM on September 21, 2015


I had forgotten about going to irc!

I'd also never heard the story of how you heard so you could tell the rest of us. Oh, wow.

*hugs you*
posted by theatro at 8:33 AM on September 22, 2015


Eyebrows McGee, I'm glad you told that story. I teach at a middle school in Brooklyn and we have just reached the point where none of our students were alive in 2001. When we had our moment of silence and resulting discussion with sixth graders, several students mentioned that book, although not by name. I hadn't looked it up yet. They also mentioned an incident in elementary school when a kid (or kids, it was unclear) did exactly what you describe.

Although it's a difficult story, I'm glad you told it. It's helpful to hear about it from parents, especially when I hear similar stories from the kids themselves later on.

Another 6th grader described finding footage of the towers online when he was younger and thinking it was part of an action movie. He even called his mom over to check it out. Apparently she didn't share the truth with him at the time, but he brought it up with her several years later. He remarked that he wasn't mature enough to understand then, but he is now.

I also had a 6th grader who reported nightmares for the past couple of years right on or before the anniversary. He told me he finally slept through the night this year.
posted by wiskunde at 5:03 AM on September 24, 2015


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