Archive for the news Category

9/11, 10 years later

Posted in news on September 11, 2011 by Trip Jennings

What to say. It’s been 10 years. It hardly seems possible. More than 3,650 days have passed and words still can’t express what I felt that day, or in the months after. I just remember stumbling around in an emotional fog, clawing at this veil that turned everything hazy and gauzy, frustrating my every attempt to see clearly what it all meant — 3,000 lives snuffed out in the space of a morning. I’m not talking about the political meaning of the attacks, or its geopolitical counterpart. That all became abundantly clear in the months, and years, after.  I mean the existential truth of that many people who were alive one moment, and then not. I still can’t wrap my head around that one.

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 didn’t mark the end of the suffering. It was just the start. Weeks and months went by as families and friends of the missing waited for word on whether their loved ones had been found, or their remains identified. I talked to a few of them, a reporter trying to put words to the emotions they were feeling as their insides knotted up in inexplicable grief. It was horrific, this all-too-public reminder of the terrible power of the unknown and the unknowable-ness, at times, that life throws at us.

I was just a bystander to all this of course. No one I knew was killed. Or even injured. But I was affected. You couldn’t live that close to New York City and not be. A pall fell over the city as well as the Tri-State Area, and it hung there, making even sunny, cloudless days gray and mournful. And it hung there. And hung there. And that pall steadily eroded something in me, a belief that I had my own special bubble, that tragedy somehow had blinders on when it came to me and mine. No, I wasn’t hurt in the attacks. But all those people were. What separated them from me? Nothing, except they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wasn’t. It’s terrifying to intuitively grasp how fragile life is and to realize how inadequate all those defenses you’ve built up over the years seem at that moment.

It took nearly three years before I could bring myself to visit Ground Zero, and even then it was for work. It’s not as if we lived far away. We lived an hour-and-a-half away, in Connecticut. It’s trite to say 9/11, and the weeks that followed, which included anthrax attacks in NY and Connecticut, were so traumatic as to transform a visit into something like picking at an open wound.  But I think that’s what it was, at least for me. A few months after the attacks, I remember walking in Union Square, which isn’t even close to Ground Zero by Manhattan standards, and it almost bent me over. Posters fluttered in the autumn air, adorned with faces of people I had never known personally but who suddenly were bound together in this terrible thing.

Today, I sit 2,000 miles away from New York City. Ten years have peeled away most of the pain and some of the befuddlement, but not all. I still don’t know what to feel. I’ve worked through a cycle of emotions. Anger. Sadness. Despair. Exhaustion. But I know this: I think mostly about the people who died. Not about why they were killed. Or the political or geopolitical meaning of their deaths. I grieve over them, and the lives that ended too suddenly and too early. And I wish I could visit Ground Zero. Just to pay my respects.


Solitude & Participation, the muses of creativity

Posted in art, film, literature, music, news, philosophy, pop culture, religion, science, tech, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 2, 2011 by Trip Jennings

This is a good refresher on creativity and how to stoke it. I found myself agreeing that the seemingly contradictory combo of solitude and participation are key to stirring up creativity. I do the participation thing. Reporting. Interacting online. Reading books, magazines, newspapers, blogs. The challenge in my world is finding time for solitude. Thanks to Kelly Brewer for posting it on Facebook.

Amplify’d from

Creativity is a nebulous, murky topic that fascinates me endlessly — how does it work? What habits to creative people do that makes them so successful at creativity?

I’ve reflected on my own creative habits, but decided I’d look at the habits that others consider important to their creativity. I picked a handful of creatives, almost at random — there are so many that picking the best would be impossible, so I just picked some that I admire, who came to mind when I thought of the word “creative”.

This was going to be a list of their creative habits … but in reviewing their lists, and my own habits, I found one that stood out. And it stands out if you review the habits and quotes from great creative people in history.


Words matter; words can change the world

Posted in literature, news, philosophy, religion with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by Trip Jennings

I just read to a class of fifth graders. My choice of reading materials: St. Crispen Day’s speech from Henry V, an excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream exhortation of 1963 and part of Winston Churchill’s Never Surrender radio address from 1940. The message of my talk. Words matter. Words can help change the world. MLK’s I Have a Dream speech Olivier’s performance of St. Crispen’s speech’s radio address

Student protests open window into broader discussion

Posted in art, literature, music, news, philosophy, pop culture, religion, science, tech with tags , , on December 12, 2010 by Trip Jennings

I’ve not paid close attention to the recent protests in Britain beyond reading the headlines and marveling at the shocked faces of Prince Charles and Camilla as angry students attacked their car last week. But a couple of blog posts I read today, admittedly old posts, opened a window into the situation, at least for me. It’s a small window, from a distinct angle. Historical allusions to May 1968, of course, are on display, as is the contention that students are putting to use what they are learning in class. I’m always suspicious of such grand comparisons and pronouncements that students are making the move from theory to praxis. But I found the posts worth reading, not only for the on-the-ground observations but for suggesting ways to think about the protests. this one:

UPDATE: The first URL doesn’t lead you to the essay I read, so I’m posting the address again.


Fastest Rising Google Searches in 2010

Posted in music, news, pop culture, tech with tags , , , , on December 11, 2010 by Trip Jennings

wow … 2010 is almost over.

The phrase real tax reform makes an appearance in Washington

Posted in news on December 10, 2010 by Trip Jennings

The president is mentioning taking up “real” tax reform by which he means, from the scant details I’ve read, lowering income tax rates by closing or eliminating the thousands of exemptions, deductions and incentives strewn through the federal tax code. the Times reports, the last time Congress took up something that ambitious it took three years, a lot of bickering and beaucoup de mojo to get something passed. Even then some of the deductions and exemptions that were closed as part of the 1986 Tax Reform Act were revisited a couple of years after that ambitious piece of legislation became law. (For anyone interested in the 1986 Tax Reform Act, I’d recommend reading “Showdown at Gucci Gulch” by Alan Murray and Jeff Birnbaum. It transforms the fight over the arcane world of federal tax code into a page-turning thriller, replete with an amazing cast of characters, unlikely alliances and a come-from-behind victory.)

Contextualizing the news: Integral part of news coverage often missing

Posted in news, pop culture on December 9, 2010 by Trip Jennings

ProPublica and NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute are teaming up to tackle one of the weaknesses in today’s media environment: explaining the news. The premise is the world is a complex place and people need help understanding the issues at the center of any given series of stories before they can truly comprehend the relevancy of what they’re taking in. A lot of news outlets don’t do this, either because they don’t have the resources or because they don’t care about producing good journalism. In other words, news outlets, if they are good at what they do, must contextualize the headlines for readers, viewers, listeners, etc. Sounds simple. But it’s not. As one of the guys driving this effort says, “It’s very difficult to do good journalism. It’s very difficult to understand, to really have stuff resonate without understanding the basic parameters of the story.”