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Updated: 03/02/03

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Sunday, 2 March, 2003

One of the blogs I visit on a regular basis is USS Clueless, aka Steven den Beste. He is an engineer, and I find that his essays about current events are very logical and detailed. I don't always agree with him, but many of his arguments make sense to me. He is a strong advocate of military action against Saddam Hussein. He is also one of the most popular of the pro-war bloggers, one of the recently dubbed, "Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse."

He was recently criticized by someone for expressing his continuing anger about the attacks of 9/11. It was pointed out that Steven, personally, did not lose any friends or family members in the attacks, so he was not an official victim, and therefore not permitted to be outraged. When I read his comments last night, I sent him an e-mail which reads as follows:

Dear Steven,

I work for a company called Marsh & McLennan. On September 11, 2001, 295 people in my company went to work at the World Trade Center and never came home.

Daniel Davies apparently doesn't believe that you have a right to feel anger, outrage or basically ANYTHING because you didn't personally know someone who was killed that morning. By his logic, I guess am allowed to be at least 295 times more outraged than the average citizen by virtue of being more personally affected.

Steven, since you do a much better job than I of expressing all of the anger and frustration and outrage that I feel, I would be honored if you would "adopt" one of the 295 people in my firm that were killed by those cowards. I realize that means that I can only be 294 times more outraged going forward, but I think I still have enough in me.

Here is our website. I can assure you, any of these people - and any of the others murdered that day - would be honored to have you speak for them, now that they cannot.

This morning I had an e-mail in return from him:

That page brought tears to my eyes. I've added an update. Thank you very much for writing.

When I checked his site, he had added my letter as an update to his column, along with the following comments:

I guess that means I am now officially entitled to feel anger about the attack on us. I'm glad we got that straightened out.

And anyone who feels like saying "Get over it" would do well to go to that site and click a few of those links. Those were my brothers and sisters. They were my fellow citizens. They were my countrymen. I'm not going to get over it.

I hope that people do go to the MMC Memorial site and remind themselves of what really happened on 9/11. To innocent people with families and friends who could have been any of us. There are comments written on the individual pages from total strangers that express their sorrow and feelings of loss for a person they never met.

We don't have to have known someone personally to feel outrage for what happened to them.

On a lighter note, the whole Oprah Classic Book thing set me off looking for other sources of them. And boy, did I find them - the Project Gutenberg is the mother-lode of public domain literature.

Project Gutenberg is the Internet's oldest producer of FREE electronic books (eBooks or eTexts).

Project Gutenberg is the brainchild of Michael Hart, who in 1971 decided that it would be a really good idea if lots of famous and important texts were freely available to everyone in the world. Since then, he has been joined by hundreds of volunteers who share his vision. Now, more than thirty years later, Project Gutenberg has the following figures (as of November 8th 2002): 203 New eBooks released during October 2002, 1975 New eBooks produced in 2002 (they were 1240 in 2001) for a total of 6267 Total Project Gutenberg eBooks.

When we started, the files had to be very small as a normal 300 page book took one meg of space which no one in 1971 could be expected to have (in general). So doing the U.S. Declaration of Independence (only 5K) seemed the best place to start. This was followed by the Bill of Rights-- then the whole US Constitution, as space was getting large (at least by the standards of 1973). Then came the Bible, as individual books of the Bible were not that large, then Shakespeare (a play at a time), and then into general work in the areas of light and heavy literature and references.

Of course, all of this is Public Domain stuff, which means that since the period before a copyrighted work enters the Public Domain is now 50 years more than the life of the author, there are no modern texts yet. But I think the 6,200+ current texts will be enough to keep me busy for a while.

I've downloaded several to my PDA so that I can take them with me to PNG. Huckleberry Finn, King Solomon's Mines, Around the World in 80 Days, Ivanhoe, Kim, The Federalist Papers, The Old Curiousity Shop . . .

[I won't have any time for diving!]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"A book should be luminous not voluminous."

-- Christian Nestell Bovee (1820 - 1904) US author, lawyer

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