Remembering 9/11: 20 Years Later

There are so many dimensions to the memories of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. But I didn’t realize exactly how many dimensions until I began curating these links. I’ve tried to include links that cover the breadth of the dimensions of that day as we all sit with our own thoughts and remembrances.

Best 9/11 Books

Five Books is a website that features lists of recommended books by experts in many different fields. This page includes lists that cover many dimensions of 9/11 with topics such as literature, terrorism, and Osama bin Laden.

‘Get out now’ – inside the White House on 9/11, according to the staffers who were there

Anita McBride, Fellow in Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, Department of Government, at American University, was in the White House that day. She describes her experiences here.

At the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ancient Greece and Rome can tell us a lot about the links between collective trauma and going to war

Joel Christensen, now professor of Classical Studies at Brandeis University, was “in Washington Square Park at 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001 – less than a mile from the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.” 

Today, as a scholar of Greek literature who studies narrative and memory, I see how this collective trauma shaped U.S. actions and has affected Americans’ vision of their identities and shared history – a feedback loop that is reflected in the myths and histories of ancient Greece.

Pascal Campion’s “9/11: Then and Now”

“The New Yorker’s art editor remembers twenty years of September 11th covers.”

 Dread, War and Ambivalence: Literature Since the Towers Fell

The events of 9/11 irrevocably changed the course of global affairs. They also changed culture. It will likely be easier to say how a century from now. But with 20 years’ hindsight, The Times’s book critics reflect below on some of the influence of that day on the writing that has followed.

“Sept. 11 accelerated a trend, already long in motion, toward opening American fiction to formerly marginalized voices,” writes Dwight Garner.

Jennifer Szalai says 9/11 produced “fictional treatments of identity that had to do with uncertainty, instability, precariousness — depicting ambivalence as an irreducible part of the human condition.”

How 9/11 altered the fiction landscape in 13 novels

Ron Charles writes in the Washington Post, “within a few years, it was clear that 9/11 would leave an impact on contemporary fiction as deep as its impact on every other aspect of our culture.” He discusses 13 novels that present “a sense of the wide variety of approaches writers have taken over the past two decades” to address the significance of the terrorist attacks.

20 ways 9/11 changed life, the U.S. and the world in the past 20 years

UPI looks at 20 aspects of ways in which the events of 20 years ago have affected our lives, including airport security, creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the shift in war powers toward the executive branch of government.

Tuesday, and After

New Yorker writers respond to 9/11.”

From the September 24, 2001, issue of The New Yorker. Entries by the following authors: John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Roger Angell, Aharon Appelfeld, Rebecca Mead, Susan Sontag, Amitav Ghosh, and Donald Antrim.

I Talked to My Twin Brother Every Morning for 27 Years. Right Up Until 9/11.

Pamela Bittner describes the loss of her twin brother on 9/11. She was talking with her father on the phone when “we watched together in horror as Flight 175 crashed into my brother’s office building between floors 75 and 85. He worked on the 89th floor.”

Thousands suffer health effects of Ground Zero’s toxic dust 20 years after 9/11 attacks

A new World Trade Center stands in lower Manhattan 20 years after Sept. 11, 2001, but thousands of people who were there that day — from first responders hoping to save lives to people who were just on their daily commute — continue to feel health effects linked to the terrorist attack.

A Port of Seattle firefighter created a 9/11 memorial at Seattle-Tacoma airport to honor fallen first responders

I include this article from a local (to me) newspaper to emphasize the national character of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. And the included story of the “set up a welcome center to connect Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban takeover of Kabul with resettlement resources and nonprofits when they arrive at Sea-Tac” Airport emphasizes the continuing need for global understanding and compassion.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

30 Years of the Public World Wide Web

Flipboard has curated a collection of articles to celebrate the arrival of the internet 30 years ago.

Do you remember your first experiences with the internet? I remember joining CompuServe. As I remember it, the service was a huge conglomeration of text links. With our membership information packet, we got a huge fold-out paper menu that we taped to the wall—and it took up the whole wall—near the computer. It listed the nested hierarchy of how to navigate to whatever information you were interested in. It sounds unwieldy now, but back then it seemed like heaven to someone who loved research more than just about anything else. 

One of the most interesting sites to me among those linked on the Flipboard introductory page is Websites at 30 – how much has the internet changed?

I started my own web site, featuring book reviews, some time in the late 1990s. It started out on GeoCities, where anyone could register and put up a free site. GeoCities was eventually taken over by Yahoo!, who tried to take over copyright ownership of everything everybody published on their sites. That move drove most members, including me, to move to paid hosting services. The need to pay to put up and maintain a web site in order to keep copyright ownership of the content significantly changed the internet, as most people who produced hobby-centered content chose not to pay to keep their sites. 

Here’s another article about the evolution of the world wide web:

He predicted the dark side of the Internet 30 years ago. Why did no one listen?

How About You?

I’d love to hear about your memories of your first experiences with the internet.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

The Sad Story of Nichelle Nichols

photo: Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols in 2013 (photo from Wikipedia)

For the past several weeks, my husband and I have been watching the original Star Trek series (1966-1969) on Netflix a few episodes at a time. We had watched it back in the early 1970s and loved it. I still occasionally recite this motto: “Everything I need to know about life I learned from the original Star Trek.”

The show was ground-breaking in so many ways, not the least of which was the character Lt. Uhura, portrayed by Nichelle Nichols.

I recently came across this article, and it broke my heart:

Inside the heartbreaking conservatorship battle of a ‘Star Trek’ legend

Northern lights: Alaska teen shocks with Olympic swim gold | The Seattle Times

Source: Northern lights: Alaska teen shocks with Olympic swim gold | The Seattle Times

I had been having mixed feelings about the Tokyo Olympics, but this story has changed my mind and reminded me why I watch sports. There’s a heart-warming follow-up story here.

Last Week’s Links

A Guide To Gender Identity Terms

June is the annual celebration of Pride Month. Over the years I’ve sometimes been confused about how to use correctly the applicable terminology. I’m grateful to NPR for putting together this glossary of terms relating to gender identity.

Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone’s correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – “a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that’s consistent and true to who they are.”

Where Gender-Neutral Pronouns Come From

“People tend to think of they, Mx., and hir as relatively recent inventions. But English speakers have been looking for better ways to talk about gender for a very long time.”

Michael Waters offers a history of the long search for language that steps outside the traditional, normative binary of man/woman, his/her.

Do you ever feel like an impostor — and did the pandemic make it worse?

“Experts say anytime you’re facing a new challenge or you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re more susceptible to impostor syndrome. Here’s how to deal.”

Imposter syndrome is a real psychological thing, the fear that you’re not really qualified to do something, that you’re just pretending to have knowledge and ability that you think you really don’t possess. When I was going through a particularly challenging time several years ago, I dreamed that I was trying to pass myself off as a flautist in a symphony orchestra. The trouble was, though, that the flute I was pretending to play was carved out of wood and have no moving parts at all. And, for the record, I have never had a single flute lesson in my life.

This article offers some advice if the pandemic has forced you to take on new roles or situations that you feel unqualified to handle.

Some medical devices don’t mean to be racist, but they are

As we’re beginning to face the necessity of confronting systemic racism, I found this article particular enlightening on just how easily we normalize particular assumptions.

How to Make and Keep New Friends as an Adult

When we retired and moved from St. Louis, MO, to Tacoma, WA, making new friends was one of the things I worried most about. This concern was one of the biggest reasons why we chose to rent in a retirement community instead of buying a house. 

If ‘cave syndrome’ is keeping you from going in public, here’s how to combat it

How are you doing in the “getting back out into the world?” arena?

“After over a year of staying at home and following strict safety guidelines, many people are understandably reluctant to step out their front door and re-enter society.”

If this quotation describes you (as it does, at least a little bit, me), here’s some advice.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Talking on Zoom could help older people stave off dementia

CNN reports on recent research results:

Talking on video-conference services like Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic has helped older people stave off the effects of dementia, a new study has suggested.

Researchers found that regular communication helps maintain long-term memory, and elderly people who often use online tools showed less decline in memory than those who don’t.

These Farmers Want You to Drink Your Hops and Eat Them Too

“Trashed in the U.S., hop shoots are treasure in parts of Europe.”

Washington State produces lots of hops, the crop that lends much of the bitter taste to beer. In fact, according to this article, “75 percent of the U.S. hops supply is grown in Yakima Valley,” in eastern Washington.

This article presents some entrepreneurs who are exploring ways to use more of the hop plant than the part used in beer brewing.

Mary Beard Keeps History on the Move

“For Beard, change has always been a part of the classics. We need to expose the field’s flaws to learn how we’ve inherited them.”

Since I did my B.A. and M.A. in Latin, I’ve been following the recently publicized issue of universities dissolving their classics departments. Here Katy Waldman profiles British classicist Mary Beard for The New Yorker

Introducing her subject, Waldman writes about how to describe Beard: “‘Classicist’ doesn’t quite capture it. ‘Celebrity historian’ inches closer.” 

The movement to downplay the study of classics centers on the claim that the field embodies an “imperialist mind-set” and “sustains a mythology of whiteness.” But, Waldman writes, “As the field’s most famous practitioner, and a dedicated anti-racist and feminist, Beard takes a middle position: she believes neither that classics deserves a pedestal nor that it must be destroyed.”

Is America a Racist Nation? I Am Sikh and Tired

Vishavjit Singh writes:

My turban and beard have always made me a target of anxiety, stereotyping, or outright racism. Post-9/11, the hate has been taken to a whole new level. Sikhs have been killed, attacked, and verbally abused in a never-ending American saga.

Singh takes a look at some of our inherent biases: “This is not a Black and White problem only. It is an American ailment. It is a human disease.”

They’re Vaccinated and Keeping Their Masks On, Maybe Forever

“Face coverings have been a political flash point for more than a year. But now, the backlash is directed at people who don’t plan to take them off.”

My husband and I have been fully vaccinated since late February. Yet, despite the most recent CDC guidelines, when we went to the farmers’ market yesterday, I put my mask on. 

I’ve decided to continue to wear a mask when I’m in a crowd for quite a while. After being required to do so for more than a year, it’s something I’ve gotten used to doing. I figure that wearing a mask doesn’t hurt me or anyone else, but it does provide an extra bit of protection against any virus particles that might be floating around. My decision has nothing to do with politics. I’m just being as cautious as possible about my own health. 

This article in the New York Times looks at reasons why some people are continuing to mask up.

How About You?

Do you continue to mask up?

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The Girl in the Kent State Photo

If you’re old enough to remember the photo above, this article might interest you. I don’t think I ever knew that the girl in the center was only 14 at the time.

My college graduation (Boston University) was canceled because of the killings at Kent State. We were in the middle of final-exam week. Exams already taken would be included in final grades, but the rest of exams were called off. Those of us living in the residence halls were told to move out within the next couple of days.

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Unlock Treatments for 5 Other Deadly Diseases

Research often leads to serendipitous, seemingly unrelated discoveries. This article explains how the COVID-19 vaccines work and why scientists hope their development can yield new treatments for other diseases, including HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.

Some young women embraced their gray hair during the pandemic. They might not go back.

And here’s a story of a different kind of serendipitous discovery. Maura Judkis, age 34 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, carefully watched “the silver stripe that expanded every week where I parted my hair.”

Then she discovered the Silver Sisters, an online group of women who were letting their dyed hair grow out and their natural silver (the term they prefer over gray) hair grow in. “The Silver Sisters don’t just accept the inevitable, they embrace it,” Judkis writes.

The process not only allowed her to save about $1,000 annually at the salon but also prompted some self-evaluation: “Confidence with gray hair and comfort with aging are not necessarily the same thing . . . The pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on what we’re really afraid of underneath the hair dye and anti-aging cream, which is mortality.”

Seattle launches second firefighter-social worker team to cover U District, Ballard

Discussion has been going on for a while now about how society can change its emergency response to mental health crises. Here’s how Seattle is changing its response to “non-emergency calls about substance abuse, mental health, medical problems and other issues that don’t require an ambulance ride.”

Looking Forward to Your 170th Birthday

Annie Murphy Paul reviews the book Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old by Andrew Steele. Paul writes that Steele “relies heavily on examples from the animal kingdom, such as the Galápagos tortoise, which dwells for the many decades of its life in an enviable state known as ‘negligible senescence.’”

But, Paul argues, Ageless contains a major flaw: “Steele does not begin to grapple with the deeper implications of the project he champions so enthusiastically.” Because of this flaw, she calls the book “technically impressive but morally and emotionally shallow.”

Zoom bombings that target marginalized people spark demands for legal protections

With the COVID-19 pandemic, our retirement community has jumped aboard the Zoom bandwagon for social meetings, classes, and other enrichment activities. But my husband and I have declined to participate because we had heard so many stories about how insecure and subject to hacking Zoom is. This article gives some examples.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

A Visit to the Library! And a Restaurant!

On Monday I saw an announcement in our local paper that two branches of the Tacoma Public Library would be opening for timed-entry, in-person browsing beginning the next day. One of those two is a local library for us, so this was a not-to-be-missed opportunity.

A quick click to the library web site revealed that there will be four different times each day: noon, 1:00, 5:00, and 6:00, each lasting for 45 minutes. By the time I got there, the first two time periods for Tuesday were already filled, so I signed us up for 5:00. 

Yesterday, I was twitching with excitement by the time we got to the library. When they opened the door and I walked through, my eyes filled with tears. I immediately went for the new fiction section, where only a few books remained (and none of those were titles that I at all recognized). This was somewhat disappointing, but, hey, we were AT THE LIBRARY!

I had forgotten how small this library branch is, but, hey, we were AT THE LIBRARY! So I soldiered on. In the children’s section I found The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. And in the large print section stood a copy of Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. 

2 books: The Island of the Blue Dolphins and Something in the Water

I hadn’t planned to spend the rest of my reading time this month with these two books, but, hey, they are actual library books checked out AT THE LIBRARY. So there we are. This whole experience didn’t require anywhere near 45 minutes.

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day here in the Pacific Northwest, so we got to see the trees in flower in the parking lot.

flowering trees in parking lot

Back in the car, my husband announced that he wanted to stop at Oddfellas, one of our favorite local eateries, for dinner on the way home. When I asked if he wanted to order online for pickup, he said no, that he wanted to go inside and sit down to eat—and drink, of course, because Oddfellas offers a large selection of draught beers.

Restaurants in our area are now allowed to open at 25% capacity. Odfellas is small. When we got there, the only other diners were a couple of women eating and chatting at a table along the back wall and a solitary man sitting at the bar. We took a booth well removed from them. While we were there, two or three other couples arrived. There was enough room for all of us to be more than appropriately socially distanced.

But, as much as I enjoyed my pizza, I also felt ambivalent. My husband and I both had our second dose of COVID vaccine more than two weeks ago, but I fear that if people start to mingle in public again too soon, there may be another upsurge in COVID-19 infections.

So we won’t be eating out routinely now, and we’re certainly not going to Disneyland any time soon. But for a couple of hours yesterday evening, I felt almost like a normal person again.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Roger Mudd, probing TV journalist and network news anchor, dies at 93 – The Washington Post

As a top Washington reporter for CBS and NBC, Mr. Mudd changed political fortunes with his direct questions.

Source: Roger Mudd, probing TV journalist and network news anchor, dies at 93 – The Washington Post