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!

Speed bumps

Don't mind me, I'm just making sure you go slowWhy is it that people will release the brake pedal right as they get to the speed bump? Never a moment before or after, but right as their front wheel is about to go over it, and then just hope the car has enough momentum to keep going. Everyone I’ve ever observed does this. It’s like the axle will somehow break if the brake is still on when you go over the bump. The back wheels don’t matter for some reason. I mean you never see anyone brake after the front wheels get over the bump. Once the front of the car and the driver are over, the rear axle doesn’t get anywhere near the same love.

What am I writing about again?

I took all the text from all my public posts on my blog posted in 2011 and fed them into a Word Cloud generator. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see, and I’m not sure whether or not to be disappointed but I can’t really find any particular theme in there. It’s mostly a mish mash of non-descriptive, non-emotive words devoid of any real meaning.

It kinda makes me think about why I continue to write at all, since I don’t seem to be writing about anything in particular. What do you guys think? Should I mention family more? The family blogs I see where people put a whole new group of photos of their smiling child every single day are fine and all, but they’re not my thing. They certainly don’t have any attraction outside immediate family. Or pedos. Should I pick a subject or theme and stick to it. People certainly seem to respond well to my previous critiques of certain local retailers and restaurants. Maybe that’s something I should investigate?

Maybe the word cloud is showing I’m well balanced, and don’t have a preference for speaking or writing about one thing over the other. I’ve got a few other sites running with strictly defined subject matter, so I guess this personal blog is the “everything else” basket with a bias to personal experience.

Which is how it should be. It’s just me thinking aloud, really.

Israel third on the moon

This article from Forbes says that all going well, by December 2012 a bunch of Israeli scientists will have landed a probe on the Lunar surface thereby making “the Jewish State the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to land a probe on the moon.” The story may confuse some people or lead them astray due to some subtle American linguistic imperialism. Israel may in fact be the third, but only after the Soviet Union and the US, not the other way around. The Soviets landed first, with Luna 2 in 1959. It wasn’t until Ranger 4 in April 1962 that the US reached the moon.

Funny thing is that after July of this year, the US will be incapable of launching their own astronauts into orbit. Only Russia’s Soyuz will remain.

On Adversity

Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  -M. Kathleen Casey

If you’re going through hell, keep going.  -Winston Churchill

A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn. -Unknown

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.  -Mother Teresa

We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one. – John Updike

Things we need more of, and things we need less of

Do you have the feeling, as I do, that in the tsunami of everyday life we’re getting too much of stuff we don’t need and not enough of what we do? Herewith my first set of suggestions about how to redress the imbalance:

We need less of this: We need more of that:
Information Wisdom
Shallow billionaires Passionate teachers
Self-promotion Self-awareness
Multitasking Control of our attention
Inequality Fairness
Sugar Lean protein
Action Reflection
Super sizes Smaller portions
Private jets High-speed trains
Calculation Passion
Experts Learners
Blaming Taking responsibility
Judgment Discernment
Texting Reading
Anger Empathy
Output Depth
Constructive criticism Thank-you notes
Possessions Meaning
Righteousness Doing the right thing
Answers Curiosity
Long hours Longer sleep
Complaining Gratitude
Sitting Moving
Selling Authenticity
Cynicism Realistic optimism
Self-indulgence Self-control
Speed Renewal
Emails Conversations
Winning Win-win
Immediate gratification Sacrifice

Via Tony Schwatz

Let your fingers do the talkin

Its interesting how effective the spoken word can be at helping people understand what you are feeling and thinking. We have created so many variants and forms of verbal illustration that you can say anything in about a thousand different ways. Sometimes those words can be beautiful and paint a tapestry so lush and unique its hard to forget them, and at other times they can be blunt and intrusive and equally hard to forget. Its also interesting how the written word (based off the spoken word) can often be misconstrued cause it lacks the nuance and subtle inflections that the spoken word conveys. This has become more apparent in the internet age as people communicate consistently via text and often that text lacks those things that make spoken words so effective and can often lead to misunderstandings.

Then there is the finger, a display so succinct and effective, completely universal (at least at a human level) that is unmistakable in its intent or meaning and cannot be misconstrued or mistaken for anything other than what it is.

It can be said in so many ways using an endless array and compilation of parlance and slang but it always comes down to one unmistakable thing:

Johnny Cash Fuck You

Via Geek Variety.