"The direct costs of the September 11 attacks were massive--nearly three thousand lives and economic losses as high as $300 billion--as were the costs...more"The direct costs of the September 11 attacks were massive--nearly three thousand lives and economic losses as high as $300 billion--as were the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that the United States launched in response. But consider the collateral costs as well. In just the three months following the attacks, there were one thousand extra traffic deaths in the United States. Why?
"One contributing factor is that people stopped flying and drove instead. Per mile, driving is much more dangerous than flying. Interestingly, however, the data show that most of these extra traffic deaths occurred not on interstates but on local roads, and they were concentrated in the Northeast, close to the terrorist attacks. Furthermore, these fatalities were more likely than usual to involve drunken and reckless driving. These facts, along with myriad psychological studies of terrorism's aftereffects, suggest that the September 11 attacks led to a spike in alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress that translated into, among other things, extra driving deaths.
"Such trickle-down effects are nearly endless. Thousands of foreign-born university students and professors were kept out of the United States because of new visa restrictions after the September 11 attacks. At least 140 U.S. corporations exploited the ensuing stock-market decline by illegally backdating stock options. In New York City, so many police resources were shifted to terrorism that other areas--the Cold Case Squad, for one, as well as anti-Mafia units--were neglected. A similar pattern was repeated on the national level. Money and manpower that otherwise would have been spent chasing financial scoundrels were instead diverted to chasing terrorists--perhaps contributing to, or at least exacerbating, the recent financial meltdown.
"Not all of the September 11 aftereffects were harmful. Thanks to decreased airline traffic, influenza--which travels well on planes--was slower to spread and less dangerous. In Washington, D.C., crime fell whenever the federal terror-alert level went up (thanks to extra police flooding the city). And an increase in border security was a boon to some California farmers--who, as Mexican and Canadian imports declined, grew and sold so much marijuana that it became one of the state's most valuable crops" (65-6).(less)
"...the current cataclysm of extinctions is indeed likely to stand among the worst half-dozen such events in the history of life on Earth. "This time a...more"...the current cataclysm of extinctions is indeed likely to stand among the worst half-dozen such events in the history of life on Earth. "This time around, we're the Death Star. "But with a difference. Our own devastating impact on the biosphere will probably be a singular event, not part of a recurrent pattern. Why? Because we probably won't survive long enough, as a species, to do it again. The richness of Earth's ecosystem might recover to previous levels within, oh, ten or twenty million years, assuming that Homo sapiens itself has meanwhile gone extinct too. When we ourselves do go, the sparrows and the cockroaches and the rats and the dandelions that survive us should eventually give rise to a full new inflorescence of diversity. I'll leave it to you to decide whether that represents a gloomy scenario or a cheery one. "Eons in the future, paleontologists from the planet Tralfamadore will look at the evidence and wonder what happened on Earth to cause such vast losses so suddenly at six points in time: at the end of the Ordovician, in the late Devonian, at the end of the Permian, at the end of the Triassic, at the end of the Cretaceous, and again about sixty-five million years later, in the late Quaternary, right around the time of the invention of the dugout canoe, the stone ax, the iron plow, the three-masted ship, the automobile, the hamburger, the television, the bulldozer, the chain saw, and the antibiotic" (607-8).(less)
Tears were streaming: "Eventually we reached the bay, spread out the rugs on the sand, arranged the food, placed the battalion of wine-bottles in the s...moreTears were streaming: "Eventually we reached the bay, spread out the rugs on the sand, arranged the food, placed the battalion of wine-bottles in the shallows to keep cool, and the great moment had arrived. Amid much cheering Mother removed her housecoat and stood revealed in all her glory, clad in the bathing-costume which made her look, as Larry pointed out, like a sort of marine Albert Memorial. Roger behaved very well until he saw Mother wade into the shallow water in a slow and dignified manner. He then got terribly excited. He seemed to be under the impression that the bathing-costume was some sort of sea monster that had enveloped Mother and was now about to carry her out to sea. Barking wildly, he flung himself to the rescue, grabbed one of the frills dangling so plentifully round the edge of the costume, and tugged with all his strength in order to pull Mother back to safety. Mother, who had just remarked that she thought the water a little cold, suddenly found herself being pulled backwards. With a squeak of dismay she lost her footing and sat down heavily in two feet of water, while Roger tugged so hard that a large section of the frill gave way. Elated by the fact that the enemy appeared to be disintegrating, Roger, growling encouragement to Mother, set to work to remove the rest of the offending monster from her person. We writhed on the sand, helpless with laughter, while Mother sat gasping in the shallows, making desperate attempts to regain her feet, beat Roger off, and retain at least a portion of her costume. Unfortunately, owing to the extreme thickness of the material from which the costume was constructed, the air was trapped inside; the effect of the water made it inflate like a balloon, and trying to keep the airship of frills and tucks under control added to Mother's difficulties. In the end it was Theodore who shooed Roger away and helped Mother to her feet. Eventually, after we had partaken of a glass of wine to celebrate and recover from what Larry referred to as Perseus's rescue of Andromeda, we went in to swim, and Mother sat discreetly in the shallows, while Roger crouched nearby, growling ominously at the costume as it bulged and fluttered round Mother's waist" (153-4).(less)
"In related matters: Is it possible to literally knock the shit out of someone? Depends on the shit and who's knocking it. 'I had a high school footba...more"In related matters: Is it possible to literally knock the shit out of someone? Depends on the shit and who's knocking it. 'I had a high school football coach who was an offensive tackle for the Washington Redskins,' says gastroenterologist Mike Jones. 'He swore to me that Mean Joe Greene hit him so hard he had to go change his pants.' Jones added that his coach had had 'a bit of the squirts' at the time, and that it would be tough to hit someone hard enough to 'knock a solid turd out of him' and not simultaneously kill him" (305).(less)
Fascinating life (and philosophy toward life). Don't necessarily agree with all of his (Farmer's) attitudes, but I do look forward to seeing him at Em...moreFascinating life (and philosophy toward life). Don't necessarily agree with all of his (Farmer's) attitudes, but I do look forward to seeing him at Emory in May. Always good to have one's accepted (or lazy?) ideas challenged.(less)
I remember looking through this book so often when I was little. I was always fascinated by the pretty, fragile birds (especially, as I recall, the ro...moreI remember looking through this book so often when I was little. I was always fascinated by the pretty, fragile birds (especially, as I recall, the roadrunner--that was, naturally, my favorite).(less)