I'm posting this in the day log after because it's time for us to look to the future.

I'm from a northern town and I've only been to London twice in my life. I don't have any family there either, although I do have plenty of friends. They're all okay. So today's attacks have only struck me deeply as a British citizen and a human being.

I'm starting to get through my first phase of reaction, which was more melancholic than shock. It's something of a cliche to say "we knew it was coming", but only because people rarely actually listen to what their government officials say as opposed to what it's boiled down to in the media. I was saddened and felt wounded in a way that I didn't on 9/11, partly because I was too young then and partly because I'm British and not American. That distinction is clearer in my head now than ever before.

I identify with and believe in America because I believe in justice. My feelings towards Israel stem from the same place. It was unjust to place the Soviet Union and America on the same moral level, and it is unjust to excoriate America for fighting a war against Islamofascism. It is unjust to place Israel on the same moral level as Hamas. Anyone who acknowledges the existence of the evil that gave birth to 9/11, what happened today in London, and above all the Beslan massacre must recognize this. Evil exists, and it must be conquered. The evidence is starting to pile high.

This war started before 9/11, but it was that incident that burnt a hole in the public consciousness. Then two hundred people were killed in Bali, then twenty eight in Morocco, then the U.N. was attacked in Iraq, then there were a spate of bombings against Western and Jewish targets in Istanbul, then the Madrid bombings, then the horrific Beslan massacre, and finally this. Who now will claim the enemy is not real, does not want to hurt us?

And yet the fact they hurt us, we British, is giving pause for thought. Up until now, the war on terror was a mainly American affair. Part of me has always been American. To be American is not necessarily a matter of citizenship, it's a state of mind. To me, America is an idea; this means those actual "Americans" who don't believe in the same vision of America as I do are, to me, not really Americans. They're in the same camp as many Western Europeans, and it's not my camp. I'd never advocate this way of thinking as the policy of the American government (as it would then cease to embody my idea), but it works fine for me.

All this sounds like I'm saying that in fact the distinction between the Brit in me and the American in me has been dissolved, not made clearer. This is not so. The distinction is all the clearer because now the war on terror is not just something that engages the American side of me, but now my whole being. Before I knew that there were those who would kill me just for who I am and my belief in freedom, but this was a theoretical belief. As sure as I was of its veracity, it was never demonstrated in practice. Now it has been demonstrated with the blood of my countrymen and my European friends. Britain's stake in the global war on terror has never been clearer. Now as a Brit I vow to myself once again to make it my life's work to combat this vile extremism.

As Brits we all now have a responsibility, as grave as that handed to Americans on 9/11. We must destroy Islamofascism and ensure that our children live in a world as safe as is humanly possible from its reach. We must not allow ourselves to get to the point where the news of a train bomb in London not only does not shock, but is routine. We must redouble our support of the Americans, and not listen to the tempting voices that tell us we can have it easy by capitulating and agreeing to the demands of the fascists of al-Qaeda. Because believe me, the demands will never stop until we are destroyed.

Above all we must redouble our commitment to Iraq. You may have disagreed with this war to begin with. But now this viper's nest must be cleared out. An ideology such as Islamofascism can only be destroyed by discrediting it, as Communism was discredited in the second half of the last century. The road to building a stable and prosperous Iraq will be long and hard, and yet it is vital to our survival. If you did not agree with how we got to these crossroads, please recognize that now we are at them. In January of this year the Iraqi people gave an example of courage to the world that is scarcely seen; they must go on. Their victory will be the defeat of those that seek to destroy our values. Either we forge on or we doom ourselves and our children to fear and shame.

How awfully wrenching for me. And the node title is lightly misspelled.

As a baby noder/cancer monkey, I tried to write a review for The Passion of the Christ. My first w/u. I thought it would be harmless and besides, I felt strongly about it. I thought that the thing I planned to write was pretty good. I even did a little outline on paper.

Tappeta tap tap tap and out the words poured, in rushes and dribbles and dry spells the way it does when you're determined to write something balanced and thoughtful. Thing was, it was March and the keyboard was cold and my stoma was belching fire and my fingers hurt every time they hit the keys. A bit of a harsh journey for me, but the writing of the review distracted me. For a time, I was a mind in contact with other minds. No one would see the eyelashes falling out and pity me. No one would hear the comically loud farting from just exactly where it wasn't supposed to come. They would just read my thoughts expressed and either like or dislike.

Thing was, I clicked a mouse when I should have left it alone and about two lines of the two pages I typed posted. It was promptly nuked.

Now, I probably took that much harder than I should have, but really, when you're enduring routine poisonings and talk to no one but people who ask you sadly and tenderly how you are, things lose their perspective. A few people made helpful suggestions such as "read the FAQ and the Quick Start" (which I had) and I felt like each line was a punch in the stomach because they all sounded like "you are not good enough to be one of us". And that was a little more than I could take at the time.

More than a little more. That was the catalyst that precipitated the night of "Why did God take away my baby and turn me into a Circus Freak? What have I done that was so horribly wrong that I deserve to shit through a hole in my side?" Sung to the music of howling wet snotty sobs.

But the story has a happy ending. Several months later, Yclept went and suggested I do a little write up for a quest. Because it was representing the homeland of my best beloved, I threw my heart into it. Wow, the response. The praise. I danced on moonbeams for days. It was a nice thing to do with my time, too, because I was recovering from my colostomy reversal. No more helpless unintentional flatulence and all this warm fuzziness from the glowing monitor. You couldn't have found more happiness in a mudpuddle of nursing piglets.

This new review of The Passion of the Christ, which has also garnered much praise, just reminded me that my first impressions of This Cosa Nostra were... bipolar. Either I was enduring slings and arrows or I was trumpeted. Nothing in between.

Incidentally, the Devil figure is the real enemy of the Christ, and the villain of the piece. He is supposed to be trying to convince Christ of the futility of his suffering, and so to prevent the sacrifice that would redeem man. Men will die and be eaten by worms, the Devil is saying. Mankind is ugly. In short, you endure pain, you bleed and you die, O Christ-only-begotten-son, for this foul ugly maggot bait. Look upon your work, Almighty, and despair.

And that was the important thing. He didn't despair.

I shouldn't have, either.

And now we are in the aftermath, the boxes are all being ticked. The past 24 hours have seen a move from normality, to “Is this it? Maybe.” to “What the hell is happening and what do I need to do about it?” and slowly we're emerging, blinking, into the daylight. But when you have daylight, its easy to lose perspective of that chaotic moment, when you know your worldview has to change, and you don't yet know by how much.

Everyone in London played the same game yesterday afternoon “How are my friends? Who do I know that might be dead?” and somehow one even feels shame for the order in which one contacted them: isn't a sister more important than an ex?

Yesterday I was within rock throwing distance of three of the bombs, and I wrote an email to an American friend of mine. I was telling her how I felt just as the shit was hitting the fan. As yesterday evening progressed it became pretty clear that everyone I care about is ok, but the text contains an immediacy that should be preserved. The below writeup is far from my best, and I have intentionally not corrected any errors.

Worth being concerned to be honest mate.. And here’s why:

I got to work early this morning.. I was stupid enough to have forgot to leave the liquid nitrogen out for restocking so I had to get in before the delivery guy. Thus I was at work 1 hour before everything kicked off.

However, I’m a news nerd, and the first thing I do every day is pull up BBC news online, so when the first explosion occurred at Aldgate, I knew about it. Well 1 hour later of hurried internet surfing and there is a huge great bang outside my work (at 9:46 to be exact), which I first assume is just construction works, they’ve been putting up a building next to me for a year.

Then one of my students hurries down and knocks on my door:

“Have you heard”
“What about the transport explosions? They say it was electrical relays”
“No, about the bus that has just exploded outside”
“What? A bus?”
“Yeah, the roof has come off…”
“So is it terrorists?”
“Who knows?”

So I head upstairs to our coffee room, where there’s a balcony you can see the street from.. And from there I can just see the bus: It’s a shell, and the top half is missing.. Its about 50 metres from where I’m standing. There is a mess around it as the surrounding cars have clearly been blown astray and splatter on the walls.

Holy Fuck…. You could smell something, you really didn’t want to know What it was, and students were just up there staring… So yeah, I was close to the thick of things.. In fact later, I found out that one of my students had been ON the bus, but had got a phone call telling him about the trouble at Liverpool St, and since the bus went TO Liverpool St he decided not to risk it and got off. That phone call saved his life. The Bus exploded 30 seconds later…

We had injured people wandering into our building, I’ve heard horrific stories about halves of people from my colleagues who were passing.. This is the worst thing I’ve ever encountered… Then there was nothing we could do.. Everyone in the building was milling around, desperately trying to work out how to help.. But how do you help here? At least it was in spitting distance of two hospitals and the British Medical Association, so there was no need for us to do First Aid.. But we still feel horrifically guilty… And it was raining, its strange how this changes everything but everyone was standing in the shelter, talking away from the rain, because even then, the rain always brings some sort of peace.

I still don’t know if everyone I care about is ok.. That bus route is a major way people get to my work, so is Kings Cross Station (21 confirmed dead).

This is not a good day for London..

If those bastards make this death a political football, I will burn them to the ground…



I am a Londoner. To me, this word has a depth that "English" and "British" lack. I was born here, the East End has been the home of the Grooms for over a hundred years, and now London is home for my uncle, my sister (both of whom were, by a mixture of circumstances, away from Aldgate station, which they usually pass through at 8:48am), and I.

To a Londoner, there can be no question that she’s the greatest city on the planet. What can possibly compare to this place for sheer history? Every district, every street has its own myths. From Jack the Ripper, to the birth place of communism, to the most famous public crossing in the world. The only times I've felt close to tears are when I think of my city, my home, torn up by bomb damage. I work in Bloomsbury, a place with its own unique past.

Bloomsbury is a pivot in the history of The Enlightenment and Liberalism. Lets have a quick list of it's major points of note: University College London- the first non-clerical college in the UK, accepting anyone, notably including women. Jeremy Bentham's stuffed corpse - the father of Utilitarianism and UCL, who also founded Birkbeck College, the world's first university for part time students. Virginia Woolf helped found modernism here, John Maynard Keynes was father to much of modern left wing economic theory here. The Schools of Oriental and African Studies and Eastern European Studies, two of the worlds leading internationalist institutions. And this is without mentioning the British Museum and the British Library.

Tavistock Square is a quiet place near to the centre of Bloomsbury, and is one of Britain’s most important shrines to tolerance and pacifism. It’s an idyllic, leafy, garden; with park benches dedicated to victims of conflicts. There is a memorial to conscientious objectors here and a cherry tree planted in the name of the victims of Hiroshima. Most importantly, there is London’s only statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who was educated at University College, beside which there are always fresh flowers. Often I take my lunch here, and sit beside the Mahatma, under the shade of the trees. Today I cannot do this.

Today, Tavistock Square is surrounded on all sides by 5-meter high plastic screens and police cordons. From my balcony I can see four people in Tavistock Square wearing the white body suits of forensics experts, and that in the centre of this designated crime scene is sitting the skeleton of the No. 30 Bus from Islington. Splayed around this bus still sit cars in disarray, and a litter of shards of metal and plastic. I can't see the statue of the Mahatma or the cherry trees from here, but I know they are close to the damage.

Gandhi has left the building.

This city is big, she's got seven million people swarming around inside her and whatever you've got, she can take it. But the provinces scare me, where people expect security this tragedy may cause them to demand it, and governments feel the pressure to act, even when there is no one to act against. Our current administration has an instinctive authoritarianism we've all seen. I do not see how we can need more measures now than we needed for the IRA. To you, George, whose response to our terrorist attack was to say "The war on terror goes on" I say "this is my truck now, get off my fucking steering wheel". I see a damaged and hemmed in British Prime Minister, driven by his own momentum to follow a flawed plan deeper into a war on terror that has no obvious end. So I'm standing up and saying it to you, Tony, get the hell out of my house, we're coming for our rent!... If we keep following your plan, London will see this day again.

Katyana just called me while I was checking out a busted RAID on a professor's server.

My Mother and Brother are OK.

Would bear repeating, but only to myself perhaps. I was 99.9% certain that they wouldn't be anywhere near London yesterday but I was wrong.

My Mother overruled my Stepfather; he wanted to see the sights of London but she wanted to avoid London as she has trouble walking far. While I'm sure that they wouldn't have been caught in one of the explosions, I am not so confident that her heart could have taken the shock of such proximity to terror.

My Brother was right there, at one of the explosions although I don't know which. I don't have any more details but I assume his job as an accountant or auditor took him to the square mile yesterday. He had to walk out with everyone else so thankfully his only injuries are sore feet.

Some days at work are boring wastelands of slacking. Others, like today, are busy with crises and projects that need to be completed or solved ASAP. I do wish I had a slacker day today so I could call my family immediately.

I cannot imagine how someone feels when they lose someone; I haven't lost anyone except my Father to estrangement and hatred. Katyana lost two family members this year, her Father and Grandmother. I feel terrible that I can't fully empathise with her. For about 24 hours until just now I maybe felt a wavering shadow of what she's gone through and I didn't cope very well. I'm in awe of Katyana's emotional strength and depth.

After a major tragedy, it's always interesting to see how long it is until political opportunists try to turn it to their political advantage. Generally, if the event is terrible enough, there will be some period of shocked silence on the matter, but, at the periphery, you can always see the jackals waiting to rush in. Great tragedies can be powerful political tools. Sometimes they can strike home a particular point and motivate people to do what they should have been doing all along. However, what makes them really valuable to the political opportunist is not their power for rational persuasion, but that the overwhelming fear, sadness, anger, or guilt can temporarily overcome people's faculties of reason, and they can be persuaded to do things or take stances they would not normally if thinking rationally. Once you have someone thinking or behaving in a certain way, it's much easier to keep them on that path than it would have been to get them there in the first place. So, to the opportunist, the value of a tragedy is to bypass the normal safeguards of reason. That is why it is so vital for him to make his move before people can calm down and collect themselves, and this is what makes it reprehensible.

You can see this pattern after almost any tragedy, whether it is a school shooting, a riot, or just a poor woman in a coma. Predictably, the incident used most in this way in recent times was the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As I recall, people didn't say much about politics immediately, other than to say "we stand strong" and "we'll get the people who did this", which were more a statement of common conviction than an attempt at persuasion. Not long after, however, the jackals had descended to prey on the plight of the people for their own ends. It was ludicrous the myriad purposes that people tried to use the attacks as political fodder for, from seemingly reasonable things like defense to things like gay rights and abortion. What's more, you could see how each group would twist the attack to their end, no matter what that end was. In the time leading up to the attacks, the construction of a missile defense shield, ostensibly to protect against a missile attack by terrorists or a "rogue state", had been a popular topic of debate. People who advocated the missile shield used the attack as evidence of how great a threat terror posed, how the terrorists were determined, well organized, and willing to use horrific means. People against the missile shield pointed to the fact that the terrorists had attacked using plane tickets and box cutters, not ICBMs, so, they argued, the missile shield was defending against a cold war type threat when we faced a new enemy with different tactics. The point is that the event didn't seem to change the mind of anyone on either side; instead, each side felt it obvious that this event bolstered their argument. It's times like that that one begins to lose faith in the ability of people to rationally discuss things and come to consensus. But then again, politicians and pundits are hardly honest, rational people.

So now we have this attack on London, and no doubt the political opportunists will again flock in to try to twist grief and anger to their advantage. I say let's let the doctors, police, and intelligence agencies do their jobs in dealing with the situation at hand, but let's at least wait until the bodies are in their graves before we move on to the business of punditry and political debate. That will reflect a decent respect for both the dead and the survivors, and it will allow us to clear our heads and think rationally about things. In this way, we will neither be manipulated nor reward the jackals for their behavior. Until the time when it is appropriate, we will have to suffer and ignore these people. They can be recognized by their shrill tone, and the repeated appeals like "won't somebody think of the ______". They will be the ones who have lost nothing directly, yet the complain most loudly as they invade the mourning of the actual victims. They will use made up terms like "Islamofacist" or "Narco-guerrilla" to attempt to overcome reason by making people associate one thing with something different they dislike, rather than directly arguing why it is bad. Most importantly, they will decry those who disagree, treat complex matters as if they are exceedingly simple, and admit no uncertainty. When you hear these things, you may be moved argue against them; I can't say that arguing is wrong, but to me it certainly seems decent to wait for the proper time and place. This doesn't affect me directly, but if it did, I think that's what I would want. For the next few days, what can be done is being done, and discussion of large scale policy can wait for the appropriate time.

Ma chere Angleterre,

History has put you through so much.

You have withstood revolution and war. You have seen it all from century to century. There is no denying the fact that you have always pulled through.

I have never been to England, never stood upon its beaches or seen its rolling hills. I have never seen the English Channel or the Cliffs of Dover, never gotten to marvel at the majesty of Westminster Abbey in person. I am only roughly one quarter British – but I know exactly where my father’s father’s father was born. It’s not close to London, but you’ll forgive me if your country feels at least partially like a second home to which I’ve never been.

A Canadian teenager whose knowledge of your country was formed with the help of textbooks and documentaries cannot adequately describe the horror of this in words. Suffice it to say that I ache, despite being well aware that my aching will not close your wounds, nor will it undo the physical and emotional damage wrought upon you.

But I am not alone in aching for you. Canada aches for you. The world aches for you. We may have repatriated our constitution some twenty years ago but our connection to you will never die. We have never endured an attack of this magnitude on our own soil. We cannot imagine such pain accurately and yet we try because we know that, even though a country so strong and so resolute as England can and will triumph, we don’t want you to believe that you are alone in this – not for a second.

For the sake of historical accuracy, a replica of an 1800s-era British flag is flown on the grounds of Fort York in Toronto. Its location and various meteorological factors prevent it from being taken up on wind most of the time, but today our four strong winds picked up. Today, the flag of Great Britain flew triumphantly and majestically at the site of one of the old colony’s old forts.

Today I saw no less than 15 cars in downtown Toronto sport miniature English flags on their windows. I'm certain that the scene was replicated across the world. Our thoughts are with you. Our hearts are with you. The world is united in its support for you.

With the rest of the world, we weep when you weep. When you bravely put forth your best face in times of horror as you have, we admire and applaud your resolve.

Your empire might not be as large as it used to be, but your impact will never fade.

I keep telling myself that I'll go someday; after I graduate, most likely. Maybe. If time and other circumstances permit. I have always wanted to see it.

Now I feel like I have to. I have to stand on terra firma Britannica and remind myself that this place has withstood everything a nation can withstand.

Further to that, it always will.

Rule, Britannia.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.