How do you explain Sep 11 to young kids?

Promos for shows from different networks marking the 10 year anniversary of the Sep-11 attacks have started appearing on TV recently. This has led to my kids, who are under ten, asking questions.

What happened on Sep 11? Well, a bunch of bad guys hijacked some planes and crashed them into some buildings in America to try and kill as many people as they could.

This was ten years ago? Where were you? Yep, it was 10 years ago, a bit before you were born. Me and mum were getting ready to go to bed while it was actually happening. See, while it was early morning in the Eastern US, it was close to bedtime here. I remember seeing a news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen about a plane crash, but we shut the TV off to get an early night. This was when me and mum both worked at the same place. We didn’t see any of it until we woke up the next day. The clock radio went off at the appointed time, and they were talking about a plane crash. “Must have been the news from last night”, we thought. “Let’s turn on the news after breakfast before we go to work”. When we turned on the TV, it seemed every channel was carrying the same story. Two planes had crashed into the tallest buildings in New York called the World Trade Centre, and another into the Pentagon. And the World Trade Centre buildings had actually fallen down! Later we learned there was a fourth plane crash too.

Why did they try and kill those people? (OK, here we go…) You’ll soon start hearing a lot of people talking about this, and about related events that have happened in the 10 years following Sep 11. The short truth of the matter is that there are two reasons.

  1. They wanted American soldiers out of their Holy Lands, particularly military bases near Mecca and Medina which are Holy Cities.
  2. They wanted the American government to stop giving military support to Israel.
But why didn’t they just ask? I’m sure they did ask, and a number of times.They decided they only way that the Americans would listen was to do something like this; very spectacular and large.

When you say “they”, you mean Muslims?
 Well, yes. The guys who organised it and the guys who did it were all from a religion called Islam. People who follow Islam are called Muslims.

So, do Muslims try and kill people all the time?
No, not at all. Most of the world’s billion or so Muslims are regular people like you and me trying to live the best life they can. But some decided to do something really evil and kill a bunch of people. They aren’t the Muslim leaders, and they don’t represent the rest of the Muslims.

Why did they choose those buildings?
 The name of the guy who organised the attacks was Osama bin Laden. Osama had tried to destroy the World Trade Centre before, by getting a guy to drive a truck loaded with explosives into the basement underneath one of the buildings. The hope was that the bomb would go off, and push one tower into the other and bring them both down. That didn’t work, but he really wanted to bring those buildings down because they were a symbol of American economic power. Two towers took two planes.  A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon, which is a military base and symbol of American military power. Remember the fourth plane I mentioned? It was likely that this was supposed to crash into the White House which is where the President lives, and is a symbol of American politics and America itself. The fourth plane didn’t make it because the passengers fought back against the bad guys and the plane crashed into an empty field. They saved a lot of lives.

Then what happened?
Well over the last ten years America has started wars with Afghanistan and Iraq as well as a bunch of other countries. Don’t ask me to explain all that right now. Maybe another time. I spent a few months in America the next year, just before you were born and because they used planes to crash into buildings and kill people it meant more security and longer lines waiting to get onto flights. My dad took a flight on Sep 11 2002 and was the only passenger on the plane! In May, they guy who organised the attacks was tracked down and killed in a town in Pakistan.

So it’s all over, right? They can stop the wars?
Oh, I wish you were world leaders.

How have you explained Sep 11 to your young families? Leave a comment!

Richard Dawkins on the American political system

This is a quotation from British Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins, responding to Texas Governor and GOP candidate Rick Perry’s answer to a boy’s question telling him that “evolution is just a theory“. I’m not a Dawkins fan or anything, but I found this commentary on the American political system and politicians to be deliciously cutting:

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

Well said.

I’m being tormented by a heavenly body.

Not cool, moon.

I’m being tormented by a heavenly body. I wish I could say that Jessica Alba has been tickling me constantly, but no such luck. It’s just the moon. Yep, Luna has been finding ways to make my life miserable.

We recently upgraded from Hillbilly style newspaper window coverings to ultra deluxe roller blinds. They were cheap and a snap to install, what with my mad handyman skills and awesome power drill.

But, as with any recessed curtain that doesn’t conform to micrometer tolerances, there’s a small gap on either side in between the fabric and the window frame. This gap, small though it may be, is like a red rag to a bull for the moon. It’s able to reflect sunlight over a distance of about 385000 km into a 2-3mm gap right onto my pillow, which is where I usually put my head when I’m trying desperately to sleep. 2mm over that distance is mind-bogglingly accurate.

Also, we have a wide but short window above our bed. Between the eves and the house next door there’s a tiny gap where if you put your head in just the right spot you can see the sky. That spot, again, happens to be my pillow, and I’m sure that the moon has been changing orbit so that it parks itself directly in front of that gap. It’s like being woken up by high-powered spotlights.

But the other night the moon found a third way to exploit the law of maximum inconvenience. We have a spare fridge in the garage, and I’m always wailing on Suzanne and the kids to “shut the freakin’ door” when you’ve finished getting drinks out. The other night, as we’re about to go to bed, Suzanne orders me into the darkened garage and says “Look at that. LOOK!” There was a thin sliver of light shining onto the garage door, perfectly placed so that it seemed to be coming from the fridge. “You left the door open!”

“No way,” I thought. I’m never that tardy. I’m the one who closes doors and turns off lights. I’m the only one who can be relied upon to maintain order in this chaotic household. I couldn’t have left the fridge door open, it’s such a rookie mistake.

Sure enough the door was closed. But where was the light coming from? Sure enough I looked back out through the darkened house and saw the laughing, taunting face of the full moon on the horizon. It had found the tiniest gap through the rear houses, clear through three doors inside the house and onto the garage door. It had conspired against me again and taken advantage of Suzanne’s desire to catch me out at my own game.

Curse you, moon!

9th Birthday: Why So Serious?

We had Ashton’s 9th birthday party last night with a bunch of her friends coming around. The theme was “make overs” where they did their makeup and hair. There was lots of games and dancing and general shenanigans.

Ashton’s first attempt at doing her own makeup made her look like The Joker

Three, no longer the magic number

Moving out of town has had it’s disadvantages, not in the least of which has been phone coverage. I’ve been with Three since they started in 2003, and my phone/data usage has meant that my average spend per month has been under $8. This includes a 100MB per month data pack at $5. Data coverage on Three has been spotty at best in the CBD, and non-exiting in Mandurah where I’m always “roaming”. Even though it’s annoying I’ve lived with it because, hey, I’m a patient man.

But since moving office last week I encountered the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t any coverage in our new building on St Georges Terrace in the CBD.

So I’ve changed to Amaysim which is basically an Optus reseller. My monthly spend is going to be higher, but at least I’ll be able to use my phone on a more reliable high speed network. And with 4GB of data, I’m seriously thinking of dropping our Home Internet plan and tethering off the handset. If I put a minimum of effort in, I know I can keep my data under 4GB per month.

So if you’re looking for a good deal on Mobile voice and data, try out Amaysim and tell them I sent you. Your first month will be discounted and I’ll get a kickback for referring you!

Book week characters

It’s Book Week at school, and the kids have to dress up as a book character.  Jett has gone for the more traditional Jedi, but we put a little more thought and effort into Ashton’s costume.