Doooooooom

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Doooooooom

Post  Marius on Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:56 pm

First of all kudos for having the cojones to approach this subject. I either agree, or understand where y'all are coming from on 99% of the issues you raised, but the 1% I don't agree with I feel I have to say something about. Yes, the hype surrounding firefighters and police people since has been a bit overdone, especially with stupid shit like FDNY tee shirts and stuff like that(most of which is printed outside the US) but your assertion that the firefighters who died that day should not be considered heroes...well, that I must strongly disagree with. You are right that the word 'hero' being applied to people who are victims of unfortunate events is unwarranted, but to say that the emergency responders should not have tried to save people is a bit unfair. I have several firefighter friends including the best man at my wedding, and no they are no better or worse than anyone else...except that they have chosen for one reason or another to risk their lives daily to save others. A high-rise fire is the worst nightmare of any urban firefighter, but they can't just throw their hands up and say 'fuck it, they're all dead anyway.' Besides, at the time it was all going on no one had any clue what damage had been done to the towers, or that they would collapse. I'm sure there were some emergency workers who did bail, but I think the ones that went in and died trying to save the civilians in those buildings are the truest form of hero. Yes, they go to work every day to get a paycheck, but that does not, in my opinion, take away at all from their sacrifice since they could have just said 'the hell with it' and walked away. I'd like to think that I'd be as brave in similar circumstances, but we never really know what we are made of until we are truly tested. The emergency workers who lost their lives that day were truly tested, and not found wanting. Dying well is something of an anachronistic idea these days, but to be remembered for giving one's life trying to save others is an epitaph devoutly to be wished.

In my opinion, of course. And your sound quality has always been excellent, Jakob. Wink
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Sun Sep 27, 2009 10:23 pm

I fully anticipated this response from you, sir. Smile

To clarify, my view was more towards the management of the firefighters than the men and women themselves. And I fully think "Fuck it, they're dead anyway" is an applaudable and rational standpoint. If six people are going to die anyway, no reason for 12 to die in a hopeless attempt. As you said, there wasn't enough information for then to know the towers were going to collapse. Perhaps they do fit under the definition of "hero." But I have issues with the entire concept of heroes. I see it as a form of propaganda; an affectation used to override a person's self preservation instinct by appealing to their vanity. Though that is an oversimplification of an entirely academic concept of self, self interest and the social contract.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Marius on Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:04 am

Fair enough, and in many cases I would agree with you. Even in the early 80s when they kept referring to the Iran hostages as heroes it baffled me. They were embassy workers who didn't get out in time, not heroes. And to call all dead soldiers heroes is complete propaganda. Some soldiers die heroically, but many just didn't duck in time, or got their car blown up. Most people in the military did not enlist out of any lofty, heroic sense of patriotism. Most went in to pay for college, or because their families expected it, or because they fucked up too badly in high school to get hired anywhere else. The word 'hero' is one of the most abused and overused words ever, and has become watered down as a result. But if the word should apply to anyone, I submit that those who tried to save the people trapped in the two towers that day, and the passengers on the plane bound for the White House definitely qualify.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:50 am

This is entirely a semantic distinction. I think you are not a hero if you die in the line of duty. If it's your job to rescue people from a burning, collapsing building then you are not a hero, you are someone doing their job. If a member of the public runs into a burning building to save someone they don't know without it being part of their "duty", they are a hero. But I understand the pragmatic need to cast dangerous careers in heroic light. I'm sure without the glow of glory to beckon them, a lot of the young people who go out for those jobs would choose safer career paths.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Marius on Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:16 am

Again, I understand where you are coming from on this, but we may just have to agree to disagree.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:21 am

I'll add it to the list! Laughing
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Tony on Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:49 am

Deep show and topic. For better or worse, I'm saving my response as a topic for a future Fatal Interview podcast.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Marius on Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:13 am

Jakob wrote:I'll add it to the list! Laughing
What a Face
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  GAB on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:03 pm

I’m guilty of being more serious than the next guy a lot of the time, so this episode didn’t bother me. At one point, I did smile a bit at the thought that NH was dangerously close to becoming The Definitive Word – North American Style.

I’ve got some agrees and disagrees, but I see the arguments I disagree with and the differences of opinion make sense. So that’s good.
I’m going to have to break it into parts, though, starting with Nazis.

Right on target with the horror of Nazi Germany. Holocaust films are either too white-washed (made for TV variety) or too grim. Either the events presented are not presented “seriously” enough, or they are so ugly you miss the point because your eyes are closed.

By far, the most “chilling” film I’ve seen on the topic is The Wannsee Conference. It is exactly what Jakob described. Scary because it is so casual and pragmatic. Not one murder is shown, and we don’t even “meet” the victims. It’s just a 90 minute film set entirely in a meeting where The Final Solution is discussed and planned. The wholesale murder of millions is covered like an agenda item at a board meeting, like a corporation deciding whether to relocate a factory overseas. That casual. Chilling, indeed.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  GAB on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:04 pm

Heroism and 9/11

I wonder if the reaction to firefighters isn’t somehow based on personality-type. I’ve met a few, and they tend to remind me of “the jocks” in high school. By and large, that wasn’t a group of people I trusted spending much time with. Do we cut them short for that reason, though?
Let me ask it this way. If I said Mother Teresa was a very compassionate person, could we argue that she isn’t because showing compassion is her “job” or at least her vocation. I would argue that such a job, done well, must include a near-saintly amount of compassion. A firefighter’s job, done well, might just be inherently heroic.
Oh, and we shouldn’t presume too much “knowledge” on the morning of September 11, 2001. I don’t think anyone knew enough to make the call on whether a rescue mission was a lost cause or not – until it was too late.

Is it a hurdle that we make such a big deal out of 9/11? I don’t know. For some in the oldest generation, Pearl Harbor is still a huge thing. It certainly cannot be compared to a car bomb outside a disco that kills 11 and injures 100 more. At noon on that day in 2001, the death toll was estimated at 20k or more. That’s just the nature of disaster-based reporting, but it is a rare mail-bomb or roadside explosive that kills 2,500 people.

Here’s an interesting question, though. Which U.S. reaction – or over-reaction – was bigger: 9/11 or Pearl Harbor?
I would argue that dropping 2 atom bombs on Japan had as much to do with Pearl Harbor as it did with ending World War 2. In comparison, should we view the Patriot Act and the War On Terror and the rest of the post-9/11 reactions as more measured? Or … it is still too soon to say?
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  GAB on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:04 pm

American political-isms

I’m getting pretty sick of the Republican obsession with “socialism” over here. It’s clearly become the bouncing-ball that we’re all supposed to follow. Maybe rampant fear of gays, which followed rampant fear of drugs, is now rampant fear of socialism. The circle just keeps on turning.

So, I ask “the great generation”: was neighbor helping neighbor during The Great Depression just a bunch of socialism?
Don’t’ get me wrong. I know how you feel, my fellow Republicans, about The New Deal. This reaction, though, has left the mechanism of social aid and gone to the point of questioning social aid itself. So, were granddad and great-granddad just a bunch of “socialists” because they shared crops and land with each other?

We have forgotten about all that, haven’t we? The same generation that (allegedly) demonstrated such incredible sacrifice on behalf of others at our time of greatest need is now spouting unbelievable selfishness.
I’ve heard some openly question why the poorest people in our country need any access to health care, while at the same time asserting their own “right” to maintain benefits that include what I would call coverage for luxuries (plastic surgery, for example).

OK, so I’m calling out the knee-jerk reaction against health-plan initiatives because I do think we need a minimum coverage for everyone. Everyone, full-stop.
On the other hand, I do understand where disdain for the government comes from. Part of it was covered well on the episode. With so much finger-pointing, no matter who is in charge, the government always looks suspect and incompetent. Far too often, Republicans rail about Democrats doing exactly what they just did for 8 years – and that’s true both ways.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  GAB on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:10 pm

Damn ... there's more (didn't see that coming, frankly!)

Not all capitalist fear is irrational, though. You could argue that Soviet Russia was very close to a feudal society. For all their talk about communism and socialism, it was no great trick to identify the “haves” from the “have-nots.”
Granted, you could argue for the differences between communism and socialism. I’d have to concede that the average American is not bright enough to discuss those differences.

I dismiss the idea that capitalism always exploits and socialism always protects. Even if we eliminate “communist” states, I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find examples of exploitation in socialist systems and states.

Having said that, I do NOT want my fate decided by the non-elected (CEOs, Wall Street analysts, for example). That is especially true if those powerful leaders feel like they are truly “The Elect” in a Calvinist sense.

Politically, I’d say that we need to avoid being too optimistic (Libertarians – and a well made point) and also too pessimistic (Thomas Hobbes) about human nature.
Civic responsibility is not impossible in a very free society, but that is not descriptive of anarchy. Either one of those extreme views is naive.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:30 pm

GAB wrote:
It certainly cannot be compared to a car bomb outside a disco that kills 11 and injures 100 more. At noon on that day in 2001, the death toll was estimated at 20k or more. That’s just the nature of disaster-based reporting, but it is a rare mail-bomb or roadside explosive that kills 2,500 people.

I would argue that whether a roadside bomb in Bagdad kills 1 or 2,500 people it is still equal to 9/11. A small mail-bomb is no less murder, is no less an attack on civilians.

As far as whether vocation negates virtue, that is a topic I'd love to tackle if I were writing an MA thesis in Philosophy (Yes, you guessed it, I am a Hobbesian Laughing ). What constitutes Valor is an age old problem. For me, I think the firefighters killed on 9/11 are more martyrs than heroes. "Heroes" implied they died saving lives, not in the attempt to do so. It's really a splitting hairs argument.

What really bothered me about the hero banners flying high for the fallen men and women was not that they weren't deserving. Semantic differences aside, let's agree they are heroes, what bothers me is not the sentiment itself as the way the sentiment was twisted to politically manipulative ends.

Part of the problem with explaining the difference between communism and socialism to the average American is explaining that the Soviets were not communists. But they are a very good example of Hobbesian views on human nature. Communism relies too heavily on people adhearing voluntarily to a social contract. Like anarchy, it can't work. It would be nice, but a socialist democracy is the best hope for a uptopian society.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  GAB on Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:29 pm

I do think it's clear that I agree with Jakob, Mandi, and Marius that the aggressive marketing of firefighters who died doing their work is extremely distasteful. At best, it is crass. At worst, it's patently offensive.

That's true whether you are raising money for charity, selling a few hats and T-shirts, or as the Dead Kennedys put it "revving kids up for war."
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Bucho on Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:47 am

This thread is some pretty fascinating stuff, and at the risk of derailing things by (as usual) talking out of my ass (I haven't heard the show yet and am no kind of authority on philosophy), to me Hobbes' philosophy always seemed born of realism (not pessimism Wink ) and therefore isn't every human interaction, from personal relationships to a national (or even multi-national) political system, an equally good example of that philosophy? Why single out communism?

And why am I so bracket-happy?
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:12 am

I was meaning to use Hobbes as an explanation of why communist states have not worked historically: too much room for those in power to take advantage. Which Hobbes might suggest is inevitable given our natures.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Tony on Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:20 am

Basically, I think the only thing I disagreed with Jakob on in this episode is the use of reverb on podcast vocals. I hope he's noticed I've dialed it back a bit since I submitted something for, what was it, episode 10 or 20? Actually, Jakob is right, I took his comments to heart, and I didn't add any reverb to the FI vocals on that show. OK, I didn't disagree, I laughed ruefully...yeah, that's it. Hopefully I'm not the only one that arrow was directed at! At least, I did find some humor in the "Doom" episode.

And frankly, I'm glad it was about 9/11. I saw the show title and thought I was in for an hour of discussion on video games (they've already done that!).

Now a show on conspiracy theories, I'd like that. Consiracy Theories are a nerd hurdle for me. I can't be bothered with who really killed JFK, etc. Also, I'm really sick of the current obsession with Armageddon theories. Ooooo, Nostradamus, the Mayan calendar...blah blah blah. And what is up with all of the Vampire books and Harry Potter ripoffs on the shelves at the bookstore? And....
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:28 am

JFK, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Hitler are hiding out in Tibet writing those books.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Tony on Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:41 am

Jakob wrote:JFK, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Hitler are hiding out in Tibet writing those books.

And Jim Morrison, too.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  weathereye on Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:59 pm

Finally, a web forum featuring civility, etiquette and intelligent discourse.



To paraphrase the legendary newspaper editor Tert Card: "Everybody should hang a picture of a firefighter on their wall."
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:03 pm

I think that's what they call a 24-pack.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Bucho on Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:09 pm

Frankly I find it beastly that you could question the bravery of firefighters Jakob. Look how underappreciated and underfunded they are, they can't even afford t-shirts now, let alone fire jackets, and yet there they are still charging off - or at least catwalking off - into mortal jeopardy to save the less fortunate. Shame on you.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:12 pm

They can't even afford proper helmets anymore. The ones I saw at the Sex and The City opening last year wore pink helmets. Pink!
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  ro karen on Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:56 pm

Jakob wrote:Semantic differences aside, let's agree they are heroes, what bothers me is not the sentiment itself as the way the sentiment was twisted to politically manipulative ends.
Your comment reminds me of one of the more curious instances of manipulation from the 9/11 files, although I suppose it's more politically correct manipulation rather than political manipulation. I'm sure you've seen this photo, correct?



Enough people latched onto this photo that TPTB decided it would be used as the basis for a sculpture to honor the firefighters who died that day. Only TPTB didn't like the fact that all the firefighters were White. They wanted to change the ethnicity of two of the firefighters. After much discord, the sculpture was inevitably canceled.
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Re: Doooooooom

Post  Jakob on Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:31 pm

"Diversity" is an issue I deal with every day in my job. I keep reminding people we have to include some white people in the Ontario drinking water reports. Future archeologists will think Ontario was the most multicultural place on Earth. Which might be true of Toronto, but step outside of Toronto and there's a few white people.
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Re: Doooooooom

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