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Scene & Herd - A River Ran Through

Scene & Herd

Before stopping by the Atlanta Fly Fishing Festival at Gwinnett Center in Duluth on Saturday, I knew precisely one thing about fly fishing: Brad Pitt looked especially handsome doing it in the 1992 film A River Runs Through It.

I have since become educated.

If, like me, all you know about fishing you learned from the walls of Captain D's, here's a primer.

Fly fishing is so-called because, instead of live bait, fisherpersons coax their prey to delicious almond-crusted, buttery graves with lures that are woven to look like insects (aka flies). River fish like bugs.

The festival was filled with equipment sellers and outfitters who'd take people on fishing trips. The most interesting of the merchants — to me, anyway — were the many flymakers. Fishing flies are artful creations and often quite beautiful. The nicest ones don't so much look like flies as they do insect-sized peacocks. The tools of the fly-making trade include tiny vises, magnifying glasses, and spools of thread. Even though it was a trade show geared at selling stuff, the mood around the fly-maker tables was often collegiate. Someone would walk up to a table and say something like, "Hey, your stuff looks good. Can you show me how you make a Hot Wing Elk Hair Caddis?" "Why, certainly."

In addition to fly-making, there were several demonstrations on how to actually fish. By far the loudest demonstration of the afternoon was by an unrelentingly enthusiastic Bahamian fisherman named Simon Bain. Bain's demonstration was called "How to Cast into the Wind."

Standing in front of an industrial fan blowing at him as he cast his rod, Bain advised students to "not let the wind be our enemy." If the Wright brothers didn't have headwinds, Bain explained, their plane would have crashed.

It wasn't his instruction that made Bain memorable. He yelled a lot for no apparent reason. I videotaped part of his instruction. The one person I showed the video to said, "He must have Tourette's."

I doubt he was clinical, but every minute or so, he did let out an inappropriately loud "HAA!" that, with the help of a PA system, managed to be both thunderous and piercing. That wasn't all. Several times during the demonstration, he'd pause to point at someone standing near the industrial fan and yell, "HEY, SPONGEBOB, HA HA HA!" He would also occasionally punctuate his points by screaming "YEAH, BABY!" in an Austin Powers voice. At one point, he explained to convention-goers that they should visit the Bahamas because it's sunny. He then sang/yelled, "I'VE GOT SUNSHINE ON A CLOUDY DAY!" replacing the second line of the song with "YEAH, BABY!" and then going right back into his casting instruction.

ATLANTA BOUND: Last Thursday evening, the Earl briefly became record geek Valhalla. The reason: Legendary Maryland record collector Joe Bussard was in town to mark the release of Fonotone Records, a magnificent five-CD collection by Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital reissue record label. The Fonotone Records boxed set collects some of the finest records Bussard issued on his Frederick, Md.-based folk music label Fonotone Records.

Bussard is a record collector of the highest order. Not only did he issue a gazillion classic 78 rpm records on his own label in the '50s and '60s, but he also has one of the finest, if not the finest, collections of vintage 78s from the 1920s and '30s, a collection he's been adding to since the 1950s.

Entertainment that evening came in many forms. First, there was a screening of Desperate Man Blues, an Australian documentary about Bussard's life and record collecting. The documentary is terrific, in large part because Bussard's personality is so appealing. He's not a hoarder of antiques or a collectibles merchant. He's an enthusiastic lover and sharer of music. After the film, while the Roan Mountain Hilltoppers performed on stage, Bussard held court at the merchandise table — signing, selling, autographing, talking, and inviting nearly everyone who talked to him to visit his house and check out his records.

OY, BROTHER: On Saturday night at Morehouse College's King Chapel, I saw Tikvah, a multimedia show "celebrating the ties between Jewish Americans and African-Americans."

There was plenty to enjoy and plenty to cringe at. First, the enjoyment. The music was superb. Composed by Burton Beerman and performed by the Red Clay Saxophone Quartet, the best description I can come up with is avant-klezmer-jazz. I will make a point of seeing the quartet when it performs next.

The show's biggest weakness was the accompanying video show. It was shoddy-looking, with slides clumsily overlapping, and helped steer the show into unintentional kitsch. The video was incoherent, going from mid-century photos of Jewish families to images of the performers we were watching performing in other theaters. The group of people I saw it with seemed especially put off by a topless dancer doing a ballet performance of a goose-stepping concentration camp guard. "It was so camp ...," one of my friends said, pausing to shudder at his accidental double-entendre.

SPY MOVIE: Last Sunday, the Georgia for Democracy Film Club hosted a screening of a History Channel program detailing the CIA's overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953.

The story of the overthrow is not conspiratorial U.S.-bashing. The overthrow has been written about for decades, frequently by the U.S. participants. Kermit Roosevelt, the agent who led the CIA's effort (grandson of President Teddy), actually wrote about it in his memoir. Recently declassified documents, however, fill in some of the details. For the full story, I recommend reading Stephen Kinzer's All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. As you might have gathered from the subtitle, it's a pivotal event in modern Middle East history and understanding it is crucial to understanding our brewing confrontation with nuclear-wannabe Iran.

The modern implications of the overthrow dominated the post-film discussion, with most questions either directly or indirectly betraying angst at the thought of a U.S. war in Iran. It being a room full of liberals, the conversation also strayed to other topics, including mini-rants about how corporations are taking over everything, federal cuts in student loans, Nazis, and one woman's overwhelmingly Republican retirement community. Liberals just can't stay on topic.

For more of Andisheh's adventures, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.



More By This Writer

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  string(8044) "Meat and explosions. Meat, beer, and explosions. Meat, sunburn, beer, and explosions.

If you have time away from work for Independence Day, chances are one of these noun combos is an accurate summation of your holiday activities. Sure, there are variations. No doubt some of you will choose Boca burgers or drink wine, liquor, or soft drinks instead of beer. And some of you are smart enough to lather up with SPF 50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Menus and melanomas aside, my bigger point is this: Independence Day isn't the national day of historical commemoration or celebration it's supposed to be. Instead it's an "I found $40 in these old jeans"; a bonus day during which we're allowed to start fires and detonate explosives without ending up on a Homeland Security watch list. It's our national Sabado Gigante that, six out of seven years, isn't even on a Sabado.

The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

Andisheh Nouraee is the author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. Find him and the book at twitter.com/andishehnouraee."
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If you have time away from work for Independence Day, chances are one of these noun combos is an accurate summation of your holiday activities. Sure, there are variations. No doubt some of you will choose Boca burgers or drink wine, liquor, or soft drinks instead of beer. And some of you are smart enough to lather up with SPF 50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Menus and melanomas aside, my bigger point is this: Independence Day isn't the national day of historical commemoration or celebration it's supposed to be. Instead it's an "I found $40 in these old jeans"; a bonus day during which we're allowed to start fires and detonate explosives without ending up on a Homeland Security watch list. It's our national Sabado Gigante that, six out of seven years, isn't even on a Sabado.

The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

''Andisheh Nouraee is the author of'' Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom''. Find him and the book at [http://twitter.com/andishehnouraee|twitter.com/andishehnouraee].''"
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If you have time away from work for Independence Day, chances are one of these noun combos is an accurate summation of your holiday activities. Sure, there are variations. No doubt some of you will choose Boca burgers or drink wine, liquor, or soft drinks instead of beer. And some of you are smart enough to lather up with SPF 50 and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Menus and melanomas aside, my bigger point is this: Independence Day isn't the national day of historical commemoration or celebration it's supposed to be. Instead it's an "I found $40 in these old jeans"; a bonus day during which we're allowed to start fires and detonate explosives without ending up on a Homeland Security watch list. It's our national Sabado Gigante that, six out of seven years, isn't even on a Sabado.

The day's original meaning is now so obscure that not even self-described America-loving patriots call it Independence Day anymore. Instead we/they call it the Fourth of July or, more often, simply "the Fourth." It's not "What are you doing for Independence Day," it's "What are you doing for the Fourth?"

How did that happen? Not even the "War on Christmas" jackboots marching across Sean Hannity's damp fantasies would think to defrock Christmas by dubbing it "the 25th." Yet Independence Day has somehow become the only major holiday we effectively deny by refusing to call it by its given name. Calling it "the Fourth" is dismissive and insulting, like when an elderly homophobic relative refers to your longtime same-sex spouse as your "friend." The words we choose to describe things convey our intentions, regardless of whether we understand or acknowledge those intentions.

When I consider how Independence Day has devolved into a mindless national block party, I can't help but think about how the pace and priorities of modern American life discourage us from being mindful of much of anything. We live in a city, in a country, where quasi-police agents need to be stationed at crosswalks every morning to keep commuters from mowing down children on their way to school. If we're too busy not to kill schoolchildren without explicitly being told not to, we're too busy to consider the meaning of our civic holidays. We're too busy to consider much of anything.

The demands of work make us hurried and self-centered. Americans work very long hours compared to our peers in other wealthy nations. In 2008, the average American had only 18 annual vacation days and used just 14 of them. If you add up public holidays plus statutory requirements for paid time off work, our peers in Europe usually have at least five or six weeks paid time off annually.

Vacation time is only part of the "free" time formula. Our laws and traditions reinforce the message that workplace productivity (translation: profit) is our primary purpose for being. Everything else is distraction. Consider this, in the U.K., the country from which the U.S. declared independence, mothers get one year off of work to stay at home with a new baby. Nearly 10 months of that is paid. Anyone who has a child or knows someone with a child knows that time off work is anything but "free" time. By comparison, in the U.S. some women get three months off, unpaid, thanks to the Family Medical Leave Act. If new American mothers get paid during their parental leave, it's because they work for one of the just 10 percent or so of American employers that offer paid time off to new parents. More likely they're getting paid because they have an insurance policy through their employer that cuts checks to new mothers in the form of "short-term disability" payments. We're so obsessed by short-term profits, we view babies as distractions from workplace productivity. Even if you're a heartless major shareholder who hates babies, you should welcome them as future labor to exploit. By treating family as a disability, we're eating our own seed corn. A country that doesn't have time to raise its babies is a country that certainly has no time to think about things like the meaning of a holiday. So let's just chillax on our free day and try to be sober when we go back to work tomorrow, OK?

Independence Day's civic meaning is further devalued by the shallow way we choose to celebrate it. I'm not talking about meat and explosions. That's fellowship and fellowship is a wonderful thing. I'm talking our unhealthy urge to turn every civic event into a reason to genuflect to the U.S. military. It happens all over the country. It's just worse here in the South.

Being thankful for and honoring the sacrifices made by the women and men of our armed forces is important. We quite rightly have two days on our civic calendar set aside for honoring people of the military (Memorial Day to honor our military dead and Veterans Day to honor everyone who has served in the armed forces). One could argue that it's more important than ever to honor the servicewomen and men since the U.S. moved to a volunteer military after Vietnam. (Remember, as great as the Greatest Generation was, remember they were conscripted; the people who got Bin Laden volunteered for that job.) But that's not what we do on Independence Day. At Lenox, Centennial Olympic Park, or wherever you gather for the holiday, there's going to be some cursory hand-clapping for veterans while Hootie (or your event's equivalent) downs a Dasani between sets. This is not thoughtful. This is not civic-mindedness.

We can widen and deepen Independence Day's appeal by expanding our working definition of patriotism beyond hand-clapping and "America, fuck yeah." Instead of being a third military holiday, but with fireworks, Independence Day should put the significance of our armed forces into a meaningful context.

Remember: Independence Day doesn't commemorate a battle or a war. It commemorates the day a bunch of politicians clicked "Like" on a 1,300-word missive by a radical public intellectual. July 4, 1776, was a thinking, talking, and writing day, not a fighting day. It's not the day we won the battle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's the day a clutch of influential people agreed these were good ideas; the day they decided Americans should be citizens instead of subjects.

So just as people declare their intention to put the "Christ back in Christmas" and revive the spirit of that holiday by reclaiming it from consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, I urge my fellow Atlantans and Americans to begin making an effort to put the Independence Day back in the Fourth of July.

Here are a few simple things you can do. Read the Declaration of Independence. It's shorter than this essay. Pick up a book about the Declaration's primary author, Thomas Jefferson. Screw that. I know you're busy. Just read his Wikipedia page on your phone in the bathroom at work. Knowing a little bit about Jefferson is a soothing experience. If you're the type of person who watches the news and laments that our country is a scary, freaky, mixed-up place, you will find something like solace in knowing confusion and contradiction is in our DNA — courtesy of American Baby Daddies like Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was/is a confusing and contradictory man. He was a man of letters, but a lousy public speaker. He was a theologian who distrusted contemporary religion so much he assembled his own version of the Bible. He tried to limit and abolish slavery as a government official, but kept slaves. Enormously heroic and deeply flawed, he was a complicated man; he was the John Shaft of his day. No one understood him but Sally Hemings.

You don't have to celebrate Independence Day my way. You can celebrate it your way or not at all. Do it however you'd like. It's a free country, after all. All I ask is you take a few seconds to consider that. 

Andisheh Nouraee is the author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. Find him and the book at twitter.com/andishehnouraee.       0,0,10    "4th of July 2020"  13068840 5696723                          Opinion - The Declaration of Independence Day "
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Monday July 2, 2012 10:14 am EDT
Fourth of July has devolved into a mindless national block party. Here's what we should do about it. | more...
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  string(3399) "During the week prior to Labor Day, the leading edge of the 9/11 10th anniversary media storm began pelting my DVR. So far, I've managed to stay dry. I'm making a point of avoiding the coverage.

The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

Secondly, I've already had my personal fill of "Look how bad this war screwed up America" introspection. Enough with the self-pity already. Instead, I think everyone could stand a few hours of TV devoted to the war's civilian victims abroad. How about a TV special devoted simply to figuring out how many Iraqi noncombatants died as a result of the U.S. invasion? Is it 122,000, as the website Iraq Body Count suggests, or is it more than 600,000, as the British medical journal the Lancet contends.

I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

More importantly, it's about time we stopped treating innocent foreign victims of our wars as if they're nothing more than eggs in our freedom omelette. They were real human beings with families who loved them as much as our families love us. We would be a better and safer nation if we could learn that lesson. 

Former CL staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. He blogs at AmericapediaTheBook.com."
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The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

Secondly, I've already had my personal fill of "Look how bad this war screwed up America" introspection. Enough with the self-pity already. Instead, I think everyone could stand a few hours of TV devoted to the war's civilian victims abroad. How about a TV special devoted simply to figuring out how many Iraqi noncombatants died as a result of the U.S. invasion? Is it 122,000, as the website Iraq Body Count suggests, or is it more than 600,000, as the British medical journal the ''Lancet'' contends.

I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

More importantly, it's about time we stopped treating innocent foreign victims of our wars as if they're nothing more than eggs in our freedom omelette. They were real human beings with families who loved them as much as our families love us. We would be a better and safer nation if we could learn that lesson. 

''Former'' CL ''staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of'' Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom''. He blogs at [http://www.americapediathebook.com/|AmericapediaTheBook.com].''"
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The 9/11 anniversary TV coverage has little value to offer. If you find comfort in dwelling on that horrible day with the help of well-produced, for-profit television programming, I say go ahead and do your thing.

But honestly, other than a tiny bit of catharsis, what does this weekend's TV terrorpalooza do for us? Do we need reminding? At this point, who among us can't play back the events in our minds with Blu-ray clarity?

Are we going to learn something new about the 9/11 attacks this weekend that we don't already know or think we know? Are any of the so-called "truthers" who think the attacks were carried out by the U.S. government going to watch footage of the towers collapsing one more time and think, "You know, now that I think of it, maybe the towers collapsed because al-Qaeda operatives crashed those planes into them. I owe an apology to all those people I've been pestering with my bullshit email forwards since October 2001."

Are any of the people who still erroneously believe Saddam Hussein worked with al-Qaeda to carry out the attacks going to watch an anniversary retrospective this weekend and think, "I now see that Mr. Sean Hannity is a serial liar. My bad."

If I were Lord of Television, my news department's 9/11 anniversary retrospective would consist of a couple hours of low-key coverage honoring the attack's victims and their loved ones. And I'd put it on C-Span so the solemnity of the event wouldn't be ruined by vacuous punditry and Levitra commercials.

If I caved to my ad department and decided to create a full weekend of 9/11-themed programming, I wouldn't bore viewers with shows examining the political, military, financial and moral cost of the War on Terror™. Why bother?

First, Americans already know where they stand on all that. Another televised reminder isn't going to change minds. If you're the sort of person who thinks the War On Terror™ has been a good thing for the country, but that health care reform, labor unions and Clinton-era top marginal income tax rates are bad for us, there's nothing anyone is going to say to you that's going to wake you from your 2+2=5 dream world.

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I don't know the answer, but that's point. I'd like to watch a 9/11 show that teaches me something.

More importantly, it's about time we stopped treating innocent foreign victims of our wars as if they're nothing more than eggs in our freedom omelette. They were real human beings with families who loved them as much as our families love us. We would be a better and safer nation if we could learn that lesson. 

Former CL staffer Andisheh Nouraee is the co-author of Americapedia: Taking the Dumb Out of Freedom. He blogs at AmericapediaTheBook.com.             13062776 3947494                          Opinion - What can we learn from the 9/11 anniversary? "
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Wednesday September 7, 2011 04:30 am EDT
Ten years later, a TV terrorpalooza rings hollow | more...
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units."
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units."
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My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq” at least 14 times in print and on radio and television.

Inspired by FAIR’s amusing/annoying compilation of Friedman’s bad habit, blogger Atrios coined the phrase Friedman Unit, or F.U. Literally, a Friedman Unit means six months. Figuratively, it’s a sarcastic jab at every middle-of-the-road so-called foreign policy expert who peddled glib, superficial and completely wrong “analysis” of the Iraq war. “Gosh, you mean events that occur in the near future will determine the course of the, um, near future. Cool. Hey can I have a Pulitzer Prize, too? “

Indeed, my writing is more superficial and glib than most. I’m basically a comedian riffing on the latest issue of The Economist. But unlike all the “serious” pundits who predicted the Iraq war’s rightness and ultimate success, my prognostication was largely correct.

I said the war was a stupid idea and wrote about how disastrously it was progressing way before the idiots on the Sunday news shows were willing to acknowledge it. I’m not psychic. I just happen to understand the difference between a goal and a workable plan. “Let’s topple Saddam Hussein and install a democracy in Iraq” is a goal, not a plan. Bush and his neo-conservative brain trust were all goal and no plan.

I mention the F.U., because I have my own cliché. I’ve lost count of the columns I’ve written about Pakistan’s impending collapse. I honestly don’t know if Pakistan’s government will disappear, but I do believe Pakistan will lose meaningful control of an ever-growing portion of the country during the next several Friedman Units.             13054842 2076921                          The last-ever Don't Panic!: Is Pakistan on the verge of collapse? "
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Tuesday September 7, 2010 09:11 am EDT

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andishehnouraee/4966908103/

My favorite foreign policy column cliché of the previous decade is, without a doubt, the Friedman Unit.

It’s a reference to New York Times foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman. Fair and Accuracy in Reporting noted that, between November 2003 and May 2006, Friedman used some form of the phrase “the next six months is crucial in Iraq”...

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The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya! 

No. Wait. Upon further review, it turns out the war isn’t exactly over.

The combat troops are out, but there are still roughly 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq. Iraq still has the third largest foreign deployment of U.S. troops in the world. Afghanistan, site of the War On Terror™’s other big clusterf**k, has the most.

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(Pause for you to Google).

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The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya! 

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Thursday August 26, 2010 02:42 pm EDT


The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq on August 19. War over. Woohoo!

Take that, you stupid 9/11 terrorists who had absolutely nothing at all to do with Saddam Hussein or Iraq. Boo ya!

No. Wait. Upon further review, it turns out the war isn’t exactly over.

The combat troops are out, but there are still roughly 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq. Iraq still has the third largest foreign...

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Article

Tuesday August 24, 2010 12:04 am EDT

As someone who had to turn on the closed captioning during The Wire, I totally get this.

The Associated Press:

ATLANTA — Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find...

| more...
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