January 18, 2008


So I saw “Cloverfield” this morning. As I am sure you are all intensely waiting for my opinion, I will hold back no further.

3 Stars.

It was decent. It was exactly what I expected, except maybe the ending was a little better than I had anticipated. Although it was shot in hand cams, it was still thoroughly watchable. I think if you are fan of horror films, or more specifically monster movies, like Godzilla, you will love it. It is about a implausible monster romping through New York. It was good because it didn’t try to be anything more than it was, a fun movie. There was no religious parable, no big brother like conspiracies, and no delusions of grandeur.

According to an review by Kurt Loder:

“Cloverfield” is a nifty update of the ’50s schlock monster movie, mercifully unadulterated by delusions of contemporary relevance or nitwit nudge-wink irony. The picture is what it is: A group of people whose chances of survival wouldn’t appear to be much of a betting matter encounter a rampaging behemoth from who knows where and spend the rest of the film trying not to attract its sustained interest. It’s a movie that aspires only to be scary, and succeeds.

While I am giving it a generally good review, and thought Kurt Loder summed it up well. There is one part that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Visually it is strongly reminiscent of 9/11, which is understandable since buildings are falling and people are running. But there are more than a few shots that look like cheap imitations of CNN footage, and there are comments about a possible terrorist origin of the attack when they first witness it. I guess to seem realistic, a bunch of New Yorkers watching buildings explode and fall are going to wonder if it is terrorists. But it seemed a little exploitative.

Edward’s Video

September 15, 2007

John Edwards ran an effective two minute response the president’s speech the other night. Check it out:

9/11 Rescue Workers

September 14, 2007

This is a follow up post to my September 11th entry. The entry was about a photojournalist’s chronicle of the illnesses that many “first responders” are suffering from. It seems that through really the blogging circles and news sites, the topic is getting some more of the attention it deserves. Even on my little blog it was my most popular article so far. CNN is running a well articulated article that explains the situation. The last post was to get the topic out there and to share a piece of relevant art.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors treating sickened ground zero workers offered Congress a detailed diagnosis Wednesday of the ailments still affecting thousands after the September 11 attacks, but warned that there’s no way to determine how many more may become afflicted with life-threatening illnesses. Workers at ground zero were hit with an “incredible assault” on their health, a health official told Congress. Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine described three months of recent medical treatment to a House panel examining how many of those who toiled on the toxic debris pile are still sick — or may get sick. Thousands of people “are still suffering,” Landrigan said a day after the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Their ailments range from runny noses to laryngitis to lung disease, he said.

“Respiratory illness, psychological distress and financial devastation have become a new way of life for many,” he told the House Education and Labor Committee. He advocated leaving September 11-related medical programs in place to try to determine how many workers might develop long-term diseases. Patricia Clark, a regional official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said workers who were exposed to ground zero toxins in the first 48 hours after the attacks were hit with an “incredible assault” on their health. Still, she defended her agency’s air sampling, which found little evidence of dangerously high levels of asbestos and other contaminants. The figures offered Wednesday further define the medical problems found by a 2006 Mount Sinai study, which said 70 percent of ground zero workers suffered new or worsened respiratory problems after their exposure to the debris of the World Trade Center.

Landrigan offered new specifics of the most prevalent symptoms among the police officers, firefighters, construction workers and volunteers examined. Between April and June of this year, doctors in the 9/11 workers health program overseen by Mount Sinai saw 2,323 patients.

They found:

  • Lower respiratory problems in 40 percent of patients. Asthma and asthma-like reactive airways disease were found in 30 percent. Smaller portions of patients had chronic cough — 7 percent — or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — 5 percent.
  • Upper respiratory conditions in 59 percent. The most common condition was runny nose, in 51 percent of the workers, and chronic sinusitis, in about a fifth of them.
  • Mental health problems, the most common being post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, in 36 percent of patients.

Landrigan said it is still unclear how many of those patients will continue to experience such symptoms, or how many may develop new diseases like cancer many years after their exposure. Lingering 9/11-related illnesses — and deaths of some first responders years after the attacks — have led to calls in Congress for a federal program to fund long-term health programs for those workers. So far, the government has paid for piecemeal screening and treatment of emergency personnel, construction workers and volunteers, but advocates want such programs expanded to include lower Manhattan residents, students and tourists

Source: 9/11 Rescue Workers

Girl flagged for breaking dress code.

September 14, 2007


SAMPSON COUNTY, N.C. – On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, students at one high school were not allowed to wear clothes with an American flag.  Under a new school rule, students at Hobbton High School are not allowed to wear items with flags, from any country, including the United States.  The new rule stems from a controversy over students wearing shirts bearing flags of other countries.

A girl wore an American flag shirt on 9/11, but was asked to remove it.  The ban on flag shirt is a result of gang identification and racial violence in the area.  In order to not discriminate against any particular ethnicity the school banned all flag shirts.  It is an understandable ban.  While I do not support dress codes in general, the portion of dress codes that protect students and their education I do believe in.  So if flag shirts were causing gang problems and they needed to be banned, I agree you have to ban all flags.  But at the same time it was 9/11 and a girl wanted to wear an American flag, how do you say no.  After the public scrutiny and the obvious backlash from people who don’t understand they have to ban all flags to ban any, the school has rescinded its policy.

Am I in heaven?

September 13, 2007


LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Youssif, the 5-year-old Iraqi boy who was savagely burned by masked men, arrived in the United States late Tuesday with his family — the first step toward his lengthy rehabilitation. For a family whose lives were tortured by the random and brutal violence of Iraq, the sheer magnitude of stepping onto American soil was surreal. His parents were rendered speechless. They didn’t need to speak. The joy on their faces was palpable.

They had traveled more than 7,500 miles to get help for their son. It marked the first time the family had ever left their homeland, let alone flown on a plane.

“Oh my God, it’s so green. Am I in heaven?” Youssif’s mother, Zainab, said after arriving in Chicago before the family flew on to Los Angeles where Youssif will be treated. The night before they departed, Youssif didn’t sleep a wink. He woke the family up extra early, shouting, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”

They were greeted by members of the Children’s Burn Foundation, the nonprofit organization that paid for the family’s travel and is covering all of Youssif’s medical bills.

Youssif playfully fought with his father over the luggage cart in Los Angeles International Airport. “I want to push it. I want to push it,” he said gleefully.

The family was then whisked away to the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment where they will be staying during Youssif’s treatment. It’s a stark contrast to their humble one-room home in a rundown central Baghdad neighborhood rife with violence.

When Youssif walked into the new home, he glanced at the plush wall-to-wall carpet and ordered everyone to take their shoes off. Don’t get it dirty, he said. His mother opened a door in the master bedroom and marveled at the walk-in closet. “Is this a bedroom? It can’t be a closet,” she said.

Standing on the apartment’s balcony, Youssif’s father turned to Barbara Friedman, executive director of the Children’s Burn Foundation. “You see America on television, but you never imagine or dream that you will ever be here.” He paused, tears in his eyes. “It’s more than paradise.”

On this day, the family was simply ecstatic to have finally made it here. They arrived on September 11 — the date the United States will always remember as a day of unspeakable horror.

But for this family, 9/11 will always mean something much different: Hope and a better future for their son — and a newfound love for America.


September 11, 2007

September 11th can be a difficult topic. It is too important to degrade by talking about the politics. It is too recent to look at it with a historical focus. It is too distant to relive. So how does one appreciate the significance of it? For me, it is in the pictures. Because of technology, the internet, popular media, and American’s hunger for answers on September 11th we have a wealth of visual reminders. Not just reminders of the scale and type of devastation, but also reminders of the heroes and rescue workers. The true nature of America is best seen in the aftermath of such a large tragedy. The empathy and support most people showed, the bravery and heroics that others displayed, the violent answers a few sought, and even the greedy scams that took advantageous of the situation are all apart of who we are. It shows who we can be, at our best and our worst.

To me the people that need to be remembered most are not the victims, but the survivors. The victims deserve respect and to mourned by their families individually. But the firefighters, police officers, medical technicians, military reinforcements, and the volunteers need to be remembered, supported, and thanked. A growing concern/problem is most of these “first responders” are facing serious health problems as a result of their exposure to chemicals and crushed concrete. The incident of respiratory diseases and cancer is incredibly high and many are dying. Our government needs to step up and help them in their time of need, because they stepped up in our country’s time of need.

Photojournalist, Allan Tannenbaum, who faces medical problems as a result of 9/11 has dedicated his life to documenting the hardship facing rescue workers. He has a collection of photos and stories on his own website, and a photo-essay for TIME. I highly recommend you check out the photo essay, it is a short but effective sample of his work.

First Responders