Sunday, September 30, 2001

sunset over the watergate complex

posted by Alison 9/30/2001 12:14:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, September 27, 2001

full staffI walked past the White House on Monday, the first day that the flags returned to full staff. I'm amazed by the sheer number of law enforcement personnel clustered around the landmarks of Washington DC. I had to show a photo ID just to use the food court in the Ronald Regan building. (Side note: despite the rave reviews by DC bureaucrats, the RR building food selection isn't that great unless you think Sbarro is fine dining)

On a bright note: I haven't seen any humvees or anyone carrying a rifle around for at least a week. And contrary to their popular image, some Secret Service officers are quite chatty. I met one who had spent a few months living in Georgia when I paused to snap this picture. Of course, when I reached into my bag to grab my camera I was instantly asked, "What are you doing?"

"I'm just going to take a picture"

I turn toward the White House and snap my picture through the bars. Everyone relaxes. I've never seen so many grown men so nervous about photography.

posted by Alison 9/27/2001 06:05:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, September 23, 2001

Now that the World Bank/ IMF meetings have been postponed the University has finally reversed its decision to close the dorms from September 27th until October 2nd. Thank goodness. With National Airport closed and a lot of people less sure about flying, it's good that the university isn't forcing us to go home or find other housing for that weekend. However, classes will remain closed as planned. I think most GW students will be spending their holiday on campus trying to catch up after the last two media soaked weeks.

posted by Alison 9/23/2001 11:24:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Hooray! Photographica is back!

posted by Alison 9/23/2001 11:15:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Saturday, September 22, 2001

T.McSwy'sTo help the US economy I decided to make a purchase that I'd been putting off for a while. I went to the newspaper stand in 2000 Penn. and bought the copy of McSweeney's issue no 4, which I'd been eyeing all summer. The issue is about a year old and cost $22, but after finding a potential thesis in issue no 5 McSweeney's has been worth it. Issue no 4 is not really a magazine at all, it's a white box filled with about 2 dozen pamphlets, each containing an article or a collection of stories. I happen to like boxes with things in them, so this is working out well so far.

The McSweeney's web site also has an excellent account of NW Washington DC after the disaster on the 11th. I like it when people can write accurately about the place where I live.

posted by Alison 9/22/2001 12:02:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

room with a view
My camera is finally back. I'd really missed being able to take pictures, especially for the last week and a half.

posted by Alison 9/22/2001 11:54:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

I have a Muslim friend from Afghanistan whom I respect tremendously. We share two computer science classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and recently I was very surprised to see her without her headscarf. She has family that has been harassed and her husband had asked her to withdraw from school for the rest of the semester. It seems that she has refused to withdraw and decided to forego her headscarf as a way of protection. This doesn't mean that she's very happy about walking around bareheaded, in fact she's quite embarrassed. So if you have a friend who has been forced to do the same thing by the current situation here is what you should do etiquette-wise:

  1. Don’t stare - even though your friend might have made a change in their appearance, it wasn't one made in the best of circumstances. I'm sure your mother has told you plenty of times not to stare at people, anyway.

  2. Don't say that she looks nice - that's not the point, this was probably a change in appearance that violates your friend's personal values. I made this mistake myself. It's very hard to overcome the inborn female behavior that forces you to say, "You look cute," every time someone changes how they look.

  3. Be supportive - this recent turn of events had been hard on everyone. This is especially true for people who fear for their safety both from further attacks and further harassment.

posted by Alison 9/22/2001 10:28:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Ronald Regan National Airport will be closed indefinitely. I’m probably one out of thousands of people who are wondering how they’ll get home for Thanksgiving. 16 million people go through National Airport every year. Though that is less than Dulles or BWI airports, it's too many to be absorbed in such a small period of time. Furthermore, it was the only Washington DC airport that was accessible by public transportation, a point very important to those of us without automobiles or easy access to one.

National is in a very precarious place. It's only a few seconds from the Pentagon and the National Mall. However, Dulles international airport is only 2 minutes from the heart of the District and has larger planes that carry more fuel. 2 minutes is not enough time to scramble a fighter jet to intercept a wandering airplane. It’s barely enough time to tell whether it is off course or not. It was from Dulles that flight 77 was hijacked, not National. In fact, no plane from National has ever been hijacked. Yet, today National Airport stands empty, hemorrhaging money and jobs.

Regan National Airport is already upgrading security measures to match that of any other airport in America. And with some of the saftey plans in the works, National might be even safer than most other airfields. So, please, please reopen my airport.

posted by Alison 9/19/2001 01:17:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, September 16, 2001

A bird's-eye view of the damage area:

before | after | a key to the damaged/destroyed buildings

posted by Alison 9/16/2001 11:58:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Friday, September 14, 2001

These are probably the last photos taken of the inside of the World Trade Center before it collapsed. The photographer snapped these with what looks like a Nikon 880 camera while fleeing the building. [found via]

posted by Alison 9/14/2001 01:48:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, September 13, 2001

One of the computer science instructors I work with, Alice, lives just a few blocks from the Pentagon. She was at the university when the crash in DC happened. After coming home to see her apartment still intact she took some awesome pictures from her roof.

posted by Alison 9/13/2001 10:16:00 PM : (0) comments : splink


posted by Alison 9/13/2001 10:09:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

It was a disaster so big that it could be seen from space. (#1, #2)

posted by Alison 9/12/2001 07:50:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

On the World Trade Center Buildings (1977-2001):

I remember going to the top of the World Trade Center Buildings during my first trip to New York. For those of you who never had a chance to catch that famous view or for those who just want to remember, there are virtual tours of the buildings at Here is another 360 degree tour at

There is also an exhibit at the Great Buildings Online web page which includes a floor plan and an architectural overview.

posted by Alison 9/12/2001 10:50:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Feel helpless just watching the news? Want to aid the recovery effort? Send money via paypal or amazon for disaster relief. Or go to your nearest hospital and donate blood. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment or find a clinic that is taking walk-ins.

posted by Alison 9/12/2001 09:37:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

There is a great list of first-hand weblog accounts over at

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 09:34:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

the second crashReuters has some astonishing photos over at yahoo. Here are the most interesting:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 07:36:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

From the News:

Apparently there are more than 100 dead at the Pentagon. I'm not sure whether that includes the people on American Airlines flight 77 or not. It is very doubtful that anyone trapped within the building is still alive due to the fact that the flames were so hot and burned for so long. 9 hours after the plane crashed into the building, firefighters are still trying to extinguish flames on the roof.

What I can see:

From the roof of JBKO hall you can still see smoke pouring out of the Pentagon, although it isn't as thick as it was earlier. Also, there have been no bombs set off at the Capitol, White House, or the State Department. I walked down to the State Department building earlier and I saw no smoke or evidence of an explosion. So, it's my guess that the rumor of a car bomb in the vicinity is false.

It kind of feels like we're in a war zone right now. Too many people around here had family or friends in the WTC, Pentagon, or on one of the planes. For a while we thought that there was another plane headed to the White House this morning. But now that we've had a chance to watch the news and see that there's nothing else headed this way we've stopped watching the skies for another hijacked plane.

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 06:27:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

From the Washington Post: U.S. Coddled No More

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 05:58:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

A frightening time lapse movie of the collapse of the World Trade Centers.

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 05:55:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

As I write this, I am sitting in the green grass across from the United Unions building on New York Avenue in Washington DC. I am only a block from the Whitehouse. There are currently two layers of security around the Whitehouse from what I can see. There is an outer layer has secret service and other police officers to turn back people and cars, and an inner one complete with road blocks.

Since air traffic has been stopped, it has been quieter than usual. The endless string of planes flying into national airport has disappeared. Occasionally, you can hear a rumbling overhead, probably fighter jets circling the city.

Traffic in DC is at a standstill. Quite a few federal workers have given up on driving home. You can see them mingling with the homeless people and listening to transistor radios in the parks that sprinkle the area from the Watergate Complex to the White House. Some people look scared, but most look pretty calm, like this happens every lunch hour.

There are lots of people standing around, people talking, people smoking cigarettes. This is something you never see in DC, a place where people never seem to get where they're going fast enough. But with the bridges to Virginia blocked and the Metro skipping some stops, we all suddenly have time to stand around and listen.

The secret service seems to be eyeing me nervously; they've moved the security perimeter beyond where I'm sitting, so I think I'll go home and post this.

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 02:15:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

A rumor confirmed:

According to the current issue of the GW Hatchet, Student Association President Roger Kapoor was not consulted by the GW administration prior to deciding to close the university for the WB/IMF protests. This is contrary to earlier remarks made by GWU President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg during an online interview with the Washington Post.

From the horse's mouth:

Student Association President Roger Kapoor said GW failed to consult the SA in the decision to close.

"We are very upset," Kapoor said Sunday. "After conversations with Trachtenberg’s office Friday, we were told that we would be informed about decisions like this in the future.

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 12:10:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

If you are directly affected by the GW closing and would like to lend a hand to filing an injunction to stop dorm closings, please send your account to

I'm not involved with the protests or GWAC, so if you'd like to know what the GW Action Coalition is up to, email

posted by Alison 9/11/2001 12:00:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Friday, September 07, 2001

The GWU shutdown has made the front page of the Washington Post. There was also a live chat with GW University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in which he defended his position to shut down the university.

four facts and one rumor:

  • Interest free emergency loans have been made available to students. However, they most be paid back by December 22nd. Scraping up $600 dollars to pay back sudden travel expenses will be quite difficult for students already paying for books and food.
  • Many students have jobs off campus that they are still expected to show up for despite a campus closing. Just because life stops at GW doesn't mean that it stops everywhere in DC.
  • President Trachtenberg has claimed that "the President of the student association was consulted during the planning period..." According to my sources, Student Association President Roger Kapoor maintains that he was never contacted over this issue.
  • In the April 2000 demonstrations protesters were not housed at GW. In fact, students were forbidden all non-GW guests and forced to show a student ID in order to enter any campus building.
  • While the university claims to be neutral on the issue on globalization, the police will be using GW buildings for logisitcal purposes. To quote my roommate "They're letting the cops and not the students use university facilities." To the university's credit, they declined the IMF/WB a chance to hold events at GW.

posted by Alison 9/07/2001 07:22:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, September 06, 2001

There is some sh** going down on campus. Everyone affiliated with GW, student, faculty and staff, received two emails (#1, #2) sometime today stating the precautions that will be taken for the upcoming World Bank/IMF protests. Basically, the emails say that from September 27 until October 2, 2001 the university will be closed. This also means that students living in residence halls will be kicked out of housing for that period of time. Thus, students, no matter what the financial obligation, must find alternative housing or transportation home. The university will also be providing limited accommodations for some students, but priority will be given to "students with mobility disabilities, international students, students with extraordinary financial need (verified by the office of Student Financial Assistance) and students who live more than 600 miles away from campus." For the lucky few, the university has asked professors to take in students for the weekend. Unfortunately, it will be unlikely that they will be able to find a place for everyone.

From the university's perspective, I can see that they are trying to cover all of their legal bases. There is even a rumor that DC Police asked the university to shut down completely. With the recent incidents in Genoa, I can understand why they are nervous. However, many campus buildings are far removed from the protest centers. Having lived in a residence hall directly across from a World Bank building during the 2000 demonstrations, I think it might be a good idea to close the three residence that are in the direct vicinity of the WB and IMF buildings. However, It seems absurd to shut down the all dorms, even the ones that are six or more blocks removed.

For students, the response has been swift. There were heated discussions in Kogan plaza just hours after the notice was sent out. Lawyers have been called, lawsuits discussed, and press conferences scheduled (there will be one tomorrow at 12:30 in Kogan Plaza). A lot of this was the doing of the GW activist community. When they are particularly pissed off, they get a lot done in a short time. They, as well as quite a few other GW students have a right to be mad. A lot of us decided to go to school here for the chance to see what is going on in the world from close up.

Personally, I don't particularly agree with what most of the protesters are saying, but I was looking forward for a chance to witness the whole thing. During the April 2000 demonstrations, I had the chance to take some awesome photographs just by walking a few blocks down the street. At that time we expected tear gas, tanks, and national guardsmen. Instead, there was a largely peaceful protest and only one tear gas canister "accidentally" released. I guess it’s natural for bureaucrats to be overly cautious, they'll talk about our best interests and our safety. And despite advertising GWU as in "the center of it all," I'm sure they want the students to forget about that as soon as possible.

posted by Alison 9/06/2001 10:48:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

I've been reading Instapundit for a few weeks now. Glenn Reynolds, a law professor from the University of Tennessee, maintains this weblog. While I don't always agree with Mr. Reynolds (I've actually been quoted in his weblog as not agreeing with him), he always has some great commentary on issues that might not be getting the attention they deserve. There are also at least a dozen or so entries added each day, so it this site never lets you down for lack of content. Furthermore, he is a law professor who reads slashdot, enough said.

posted by Alison 9/04/2001 12:14:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

It seems like I'm not the only one who has been absent from the Internet for a while.

It's also quite likely that my neglect of this weblog won't be ending anytime soon; between teaching and my nice mix of graduate and undergraduate courses, this semester looks like a real doozy. On the bright side, I will be adding a lot of Java applets, including ones that will learn if you feel like teaching them. I've made a spare Java page that will gain content as the semester moves on. I'm also working on a new design; this chopstick thing is getting kind of old.

posted by Alison 9/04/2001 12:00:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

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