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September 30, 2001

Star-Legder: Mass Transit in NJ at Breaking Point

Dave Aiello wrote, "I rode the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor service between Trenton and Newark for a few weeks prior to the World Trade Center disaster. At the time, it was apparent that you had to get on the train before 7 AM in order to have a comfortable ride. Parking is also impossible at most NJ Transit stations if you don't show up really early."

"Today's Star-Ledger has an article that illustrates the post-disaster problems. Among the many cited in the article: the $450 million Secaucus Transfer Station, designed to cut 40 minutes off the commute from Bergen County to Midtown, may not be able to open on schedule because there is no longer enough space on the trains that were supposed to take the passengers into Midtown. Riders on the Northeast Corridor who used to get off at Penn Station Newark are now staying on to Penn Station New York City because they cannot take the PATH to the World Trade Center."

"With services now exceeding capacity, the entire system must run flawlessly or else tens of thousands of commuters won't make it to work as planned. What will happen when the bad weather comes?"

September 28, 2001

NY Times: Damaged Portions of Subway Could Take Years to Rebuild

Today's New York Times reports that the damaged parts of the New York Subway system may take years to rebuild. Our reading of this article is that the damage to the 1 and 9 subway lines, in particular, is similar to that which could be expected if Lower Manhattan had been hit by a major earthquake.

The article explains that many subway lines serve Lower Manhattan, in part because there were larger numbers of residents and workers in Lower Manhattan when construction began 90 years ago. The article does a poor job of explaining the effect that the loss of these subway lines will have on commuting. During peak commuting times, all of the lines are heavily used. If they are not restored to service soon (and the article strongly suggests that at least one will not), commuting into and out of the area will continue to be a hardship.

Lance Armstrong Visits Rescue Workers, Victims Families

Three time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong visited New York City on September 21 and 22. He is reported to have consoled families of people missing in the World Trade Center and rescue workers. He visited the Family Assistance Center, the FEMA and OEM headquarters, a number of firehouses, and Ground Zero itself.

According to the report, Lance Armstrong said, "That city has done so much for me, I'm happy to go - but this isn't about publicity, it's about helping those who need it."

Woodward Analyzes Terrorists' Prayer and Plan Document

The Washington Post published an article by Bob Woodward which analyzes a document found in Mohammed Atta's baggage that was written in Arabic and was apparently meant to guide and motivate the terrorists in the execution of their attacks. Excerpts of the English translation of this document also appear on the Web Site and in today's newspaper.

Woodward provides a chronology of the last day of Mohammad Atta's life. He explains that the FBI came to posess this document because Atta's baggage, which he checked at the airport in Portland, Maine, failed to make it on to the connecting flight that ultimately crashed into the World Trade Center. A similar hand-written document was apparently found in the wreckage of the plane that crashed in Western Pennsylvania as well.

Buchanan Calls Upon Americans To Support Administration's Approach to War

Pat Buchanan wrote an editorial in USA Today earlier this week which calls upon all Americans to support the Administration's effort to build a coalition to fight terrorism.

The editorial points out an open letter, signed by 41 foreign policy scholars-- a group that Buchanan refers to as "the entire neo-conservative establishment". He says that the letter asks President Bush to "target Hezbollah for destruction and retaliate against Syria and Iran if they refuse to cut all ties to Hezbollah and move militarily to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Failure to attack Iraq, the neocons warn Bush, 'will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.'"

Buchanan says that early attacks on Hezbollah, Iraq, Syria, and Iran would cause the war to "metastasize into a two-continent war from Algeria to Afghanistan, with the United States and Israel alone against a half-dozen Arab and Muslim states." He argues that this is precisely the war that bin Laden's forces had been trying to foment with their recent attacks.

It's hard to know whether his conclusions about the result of pursuing a hard-line agenda with respect to the war are the right ones. We also have to keep in mind Buchanan's animosity toward Israel and its interests in the past. But, in the end, Buchanan argues for a moderate approach to the prosecution of the war (at least initially) and support of the Bush Administration. In this we agree.

FBI Asks Americans to Tell What They Know About Terrorists

Yesterday, The FBI published photos of the men accused of hijacking the planes used in the terrorist incidents on September 11. They have asked the public to help provide more information about them.

We recommend that our readers review these photos and contact the FBI if they ever encountered any of these people.

Ex-Presidents Fly Commercial to Promote Return to Air Travel

Several articles have come out in the last few days saying that former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have chosen to take commercial flights to demonstrate their faith new security procedures and encourage the public to start travelling again. This type of public activity is terribly important, and serves a similar purpose to the role that the British Monarchy played during The Blitz in World War II.

Public efforts by people like President George H.W. Bush and California Governor Gray Davis aren't the cheap "photo ops" that had become infamous in the past few years. These are attempts to boost public confidence and inspire people. We have to look at these efforts for what they are: attempts to boost America's morale in time of war. On that basis, they are welcomed and further demonstrations of this nature ought to be encouraged.

Noonan: God Is Back

Dave Aiello wrote, "Over on Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan has an editorial called God is Back. The column contains a number of anecdotes which point to more open discussion and practice of religion in New York City in the wake of the World Trade Center attack."

"At the conclusion of the column, she suggests that America may have come full circle since the October 1965 article in Time Magazine where an Emory professor asserted that 'God is dead.' However, I don't think that this point resonates with people who are under 35 as she might want."

"For people like me who are not imprinted by the Time Magazine article, the most important passage in her column may be this:"

... I know her faith... because some little taboo or self-editing or reticence has lifted in the past few weeks. People are feeling a little less self-conscious about integrating their actual thoughts about their faith into the actual statements they make to friends and family, to coworkers and colleagues.

Dave Aiello said, "I have further comments on Peggy Noonan's column and the notion that God is a higher priority in American's lives than He was a month ago. Read on for more..."

Dave Aiello continued:

Noonan's point here is similar to one which I tried to make to Russell Woodbridge, a friend in the ministry who recently undertook a mission to Austria. In this excerpt from an email I sent him, I am responding to the suggestion he made that much of the terrorists' hatred of America stems from the differences between their religious beliefs and ours, and that perhaps the average American did not realize this yet:

My point is that even the most liberal people in America know that this is about religion. I see
people reevaluating their lives on the fly, and it is socially acceptable to talk about your beliefs and
values again.

Much of what Bush said last night {in his speech before a Joint Session of Congress} was meant to prepare us for the length of this struggle. So, I think the opportunity for God to work in people's lives has never been greater in our lifetimes. As far as I'm concerned, the only religions people should absolutely avoid at this time are cults, and that is pretty much what the radical Muslim movements are anyway.

Lately, I've had the opportunity to listen to the radio even more than I usually do. It's really obvious when you listen to programs like Imus in the Morning and Bob Grant that Americans are thinking more about their relationship with God, because they mention God in connection with their views on current events.

These radio programs are not ideologically similar: Imus speaks from the ideological center, while many people consider Bob Grant a conservative extremist. The common thread in both programs is that open discussion of religious beliefs and practices is normally minimal. Yet recently, conversation on both programs has integrated more explicit discussion of God and the role of religious faith in people's lives.

I don't think this was part of a specific plan by the host of either show, it just developed naturally out of the conversations that took place. In my opinion:

  • the recurring references to God and religion have added a dimension to these programs,
  • these changes have occurred fairly seemlessly, and
  • I consider the discussions on these talk radio programs similar in spirit to the conversations occurring around the water cooler in offices across the country.

Short of showing up at churches, counting noses, and comparing the numbers to the typical turnout prior to the terrorist incidents, the increased inclusion of God in discussions on TV and radio are the best evidence I can find of the increasing priority of religion in the lives of typical Americans.

I'm one of the people who believes that America was more religious prior to the World Trade Center disaster than most people thought. But, I also know that public opinion in this country is driven by people's perceptions, not by what's actually happening. This is why I believe that religion is on the upswing in this country.

America is clearly re-evaluating its priorities, one person at at time. This is for the best. Of course, I wish that it hadn't taken a disaster of epic proportion to bring this about.

September 27, 2001

Sun Announces Authentication System To Rival Passport

Yesterday, Infoworld reported that Sun Microsystems announced the Liberty Alliance Project, a decentralized authentication system for on-line services. This system is supposed to compete with similar services planned by Microsoft and America On-Line.

We wonder why Sun felt the need to start an effort under its own banner, rather than working with AOL, its partner in iPlanet? We know that iPlanet was merely a vehicle to separate the Netscape brand name from the server software products developed by Netscape Communications prior to its aquisition by AOL. However, we expected AOL and Sun to work together more closely than they have, in light of their interest in maximizing the value of their mutual investments.

This is yet another indication that AOL and Sun are marching to the beat of different drummers.

"War on Terror" Section of CTDATA.com Created

Dave Aiello wrote, "In order to better organize the coverage of the terrorist incidents at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the recovery effort, and subsequent military actions, I created a new section of CTDATA.com. The section will be called War on Terror, and a static page for it is located at http://www.ctdata.com/war_on_terror/."

"Initially, I thought of calling it Aftermath of September 11, but then I considered the fact that this name might turn out to be limiting."

"I plan to include everything in the War On Terror section that occurs in response to the terrorist incident, but there will probably be stories posted that have less to do with the events of September 11 than with the war itself. Please let me know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions."

NY Times Interviews Six Technology Experts on Future of Tech In Wake of Incidents

The New York Times has published a round table conversation with six technology experts. The subject is the future of technology in the post terror incident world. The panelists are Ray Kurzweil, Peter Neumann, Bruce Sterling, Lawrence Lessig, Severo Ornstein, and Whitfield Diffie. It's a good discussion and worth reading.

CD and DVD Planned from Telethon for Terrorist Victims

E! Online reports that executives from Interscope Records have begun securing publishing rights for a tribute album and DVD taken from the telethon "America: A Tribute to Heroes". This was the commercial-free telethon held on September 21.

This article contains a fairly complete list of the artists who participated in the telethon. Some readers may be interested in that list because some of the none of the artists were identified during the broadcast.

NY Times: Grief is Difficult for Families Who Have Not Received Loved Ones Remains

The New York Times has published another excellent article, this time about the logistical difficulties of having traditional funerals and memorial services after the World Trade Center disaster. Many religious and social rites are made more difficult or impossible by the absence of the dead person's body.

This points out one of the great problems underlying this tragedy. Many families are simply unable to bring themselves to hold services for a dead relative whose body has not been found. Yet, many bodies will take months to identify because they have been dismembered. Many more will never be identified because they were incinerated by fire.

People need to begin to grieve. The easiest way to get through this would be for funeral or memorial services to be held soon. This way, friends and distant relatives can support the family of the deceased person. Until such services are announced, it is impossible for anyone but the immediate family to express their sense of loss.

In Memory of John M. Pocher, Bond Broker at Cantor Fitzgerald

Dave Aiello wrote, "The other day I learned that John M. Pocher had died in the terrorist incident at the World Trade Center. He was a 36 year old bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald. I knew John 20 years ago when his brother Michael was my teammate on the Essex County Chiefs Bantam 'B' Team."

"I was not one of John's close friends. But, he was a constant presence in our locker room back then. His family is a terrific group of people. I just wanted to take a moment to remember him, in the hope that one day one of his family or friends sees this rememberance and is comforted by it."

September 26, 2001

Terrorists Apparently Tried to Obtain Hazmat Transport Licenses

On Imus in the Morning, Tom Friedman pointed out the article in the New York Times that reveals that about 20 men arrested in connection with the terrorist attacks attempted to obtain hazardous materials drivers license endorsements. Friedman said that until he read this article, he had not been too nervous about terror attacks directly impacting him at home.

The Times article says that some of the people under arrest had also tried to obtain permits to transport explosives and poisons.

Reuters Won't Use Word "Terrorist" to Describe WTC Bombers

The National Review published an editorial written by John O'Sullivan which argues that Reuters should change its policy and refer to the World Trade Center bombers as terrorists. It's hard to believe that Reuters has persisted for so long in this ridiculous doublespeak. Even if the "perpetrators" had a legitimate complaint against the United States, any reasonable journalist would call the killing of six or seven thousand civilians a terrorist act.

What do you call someone who participates in a terrorist act? A freedom fighter?

Telegraph: War Will Begin Within Days

The Telegraph is reporting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "Military conflict {in Afghanistan} will be unless the Taliban change and respond to the ultimatum given to them." This article also said that Downing Street announced that Parliament would be recalled for one day on Thursday of next week. Leaders of the British political parties had previously indicated indicated that the House of Commons would be convened only after military action had started.

In another development discussed in the same article, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar increased tension by saying that the attacks on New York and Washington were to avenge US "cruelty" towards Muslim countries. He said:

The American people must know that the sad events that took place recently were the result of {your} government's wrong policies. Your government is perpetrating all sorts of atrocities in Muslim countries. Instead of supporting your government's policies you should urge your government to reconsider their wrong and cruel policies.

NYC to Ban One Occupant Cars from Manhattan Beginning Thursday

In a move that some New York City officials have been urging since the World Trade Center Attack, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that passenger vehicles with one occupant would not be permitted to enter Manhattan beginning Thursday, September 26, 2001.

Giuliani made the announcement at a press conference that was broadcast live over some radio and television outlets. This caused immediate speculation about how such restrictions would be implemented. Last night, it appeared that the ban would be implemented first at the bridges across the East River, which are controlled by the New York City Department of Transportation.

However, an article about the planned restrictions in today's New York Times says, "City officials said the ban would apply to cars entering Manhattan south of 62nd Street between 6 a.m. and noon weekdays on all the East River bridges that the city controls. The city also expects the cooperation of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, which operates the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, in placing the same restrictions at those crossings."

Another interesting point made in the article is that officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) believe that the decrease in Subway ridership is somehow due to commuters driving their cars. It is our opinion, based on discussions with people employed in Lower Manhattan, that ridership may be down because many employees have not returned to their offices in Lower Manhattan yet.

Although most buildings east of Broadway in the Financial District have reopened, many of them only reopened for non-essential personnel on Monday. It is quite possible that the MTA ridership statistics have been affected by:

  • building closures,
  • layoffs which began prior to September 11 but were increased by some employers,
  • dramatically decreased tourism, and
  • decreased travel by New Yorkers who are not working.

Having said all of this, the reason that vehicle restrictions are being imposed is dramatically increased congestion, not mere ridership statistics. Radio traffic reports indicated that it was taking 2 to 3 hours to cross Staten Island yesterday afternoon. The traffic in areas around Manhattan did not substantially abate until after dark.

NY Post: Associates of bin Laden Attempted to Buy Mothballed 727

Today's New York Post reports that associates of Osama bin Laden attempted to buy a Boeing 727 in the United States earlier this year. The article admits that jet brokers are careful not to sell airplanes to people who appear to be involved in the drug trade. So, buying a wide-body jet might have seemed more difficult to the terrorists than hijacking a scheduled flight.

September 25, 2001

Boutin Analyzes Netcraft Survey, Finds IIS Patch Efforts Lacking

Paul Boutin points out statistics in the latest Netcraft survey that indicate that IIS administrators are still not affectively securing their servers. Among other things, Boutin says: "...nearly half of all IIS servers still have a WebDAV configuration known to be vulnerable. Cross-site scripting is still unsecured on one in five machines, with many other long-known security holes still turning up on one in every five to ten sites pinged by Netcraft."

We didn't realize that Netcraft was scanning Web Sites for well known vulnerabilities. That, in itself, is interesting.

USENIX Announces Distance Learning Pilot Program for Its Seminars

USENIX announced that it would begin a pilot program to present its technical training tutorials via Webcast. The first two tutorials to be presented in this fashion are Twenty Key High Availability Design Principles and Why Intruders Are More Successful Than We Would Like Them To Be: What They Can Learn About Your Site Remotely.

This trial is aimed at members of USENIX and SAGE, or past attendees at USENIX conferences. But, in our experience, these tutorials provide valuable technical insights. If you were considering joining USENIX, now would be a good time to do so.

Standard Media Auction Raises $1.4 Million

In another first for the industry, The Industry Standard is reporting on its own liquidation. A bankruptcy auction was held yesterday to dispose of the assets of Standard Media, the holding company for The Industry Standard print magazine and Web Site. AOL Time Warner paid $500 thousand and assumed liabilities to obtain the magazine's paid subscriber list. IDG, the main investor in Standard Media, paid $900 thousand to retain control of the Web Site, technology and intellectual property, trademarks, as well as the newsletter and conference operations businesses.

IDG did not comment on whether it intended to continue to operate the Web Site, restart the print magazine, or resurrect the conference business.

NetworkWorld: NASDAQ Survived Disaster Due to Good Planning

NetworkWorld has published an excellent article about the NASDAQ and its success in surviving the terrorist incidents in Manhattan. The article talks about the crisis handling procedure that was in place, which included a crisis management hotline that was printed on wallet cards carried by all employees.

The article also includes a description of the network infrastructure that NASDAQ has in place. It includes a Unisys mainframe capable of producing 2,000 quotes per second. The mainframe is connected to a network of 60 Tandem servers containing a total of 800 processors. The Tandems provide auto-execution, negotiation, and trade reporting. There is also a data warehouse for regulatory and investigative purposes consisting of a Sequent server running a derivative of BSD and a 20 to 50 terabyte Oracle database.

September 24, 2001

Gartner Recommends Companies Investigates Alternatives to IIS

As we have been saying for some time, Microsoft's Internet Information Server has an extremely high Total Cost of Ownership. This is because it is the favorite Web Server of "script kiddies" everywhere. It really takes attention to detail in order to patch IIS security vulnerabilities as they are discovered.

Last week, the Gartner Group released a commentary on CNet News.com saying essentially the same thing. The article says, in part, "Gartner believes it's time for businesses with Web applications to start investigating less vulnerable Web server products." They recommend the Apache HTTP Server, or Web Server products from iPlanet.

September 21, 2001

Bills Owner Donates 3,300 Tickets to Emergency Personnel

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. has donated $130,000 worth of tickets to local police, fire, and rescue personnel according to the Associated Press. Wilson said, "I wanted to honor these groups of people on the local level in a way that says, 'We appreciate you and thank you for your bravery.'"

The article goes on to point out that Wilson was in a hotel room in Arlington, VA, about two blocks away from the Pentagon, when the hijacked airplane crashed into the building on September 11.

MapQuest Provides Good Aerial Photo of WTC Site

Dave Winer on Scripting News pointed out this aerial photo of the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

Although we are pointing to this disturbing satellite photo for its relevance to the terrorist incident in New York, it is an example of the kind of powerful mapping services available to everyone on the Web since MapQuest and GlobeXplorer have created a mechanism that unites their two services. The MapQuest Web Site can provide an on-demand map and a satellite photo for most addresses in the United States. It is not clear why some addresses do not have photos at this time, but many do. Here is an example, using Wrigley Field in Chicago: [ street map | aerial photo ].

The best resource available on GlobeXplorer's Web Site is the before and after pictures of the disaster sites in the USA.

Pre-season NHL Game in Philadelphia Ended by Bush Speech

Ira Podell of the Associated Press wrote, "When President Bush started his speech to Congress on Thursday night, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers were tied 2-2 during the second intermission. His address was shown in the arena, but when it was time to get back to the game, the fans spoke up."

"The start of the third period was delayed and then called off as the 19,117 in attendance demanded to watch the president's speech instead." [photo]

September 20, 2001

Time for Radio Free Afghanistan

The New York Times published an essay by William Safire today called Equal Time for Hitler? where Safire points out asks the simple question "Why is there no Radio Free Afghanistan broadcasting the truth about the consequences of harboring the headquarters of terrorism?"

We agree. Right wingers like Steve Forbes and Caspar Weinberger have been arguing for the increased use of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America to undermine the political legitimacy of regimes that are not acting in the interest of world peace.

We need to begin winning back the hearts and minds of people in places like Afghanistan. The media in many Islamic countries has broadcast undiluted Anti-Western rhetoric for too long.

NATO Explains Invocation of Article 5 Against Terrorist Attacks

When checking the NATO Web Site earlier, we noticed this new document explaning the rationale for invoking Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. We haven't seen any articles pointing to this on any Weblog or other on-line news site, so we point to it from here.

Among the more interesting passages is this:

Article 5 has thus been invoked, but no determination has yet been made
whether the attack against the United States was directed from abroad
. If
such a determination is made, each Ally will then consider what assistance it
should provide. In practice, there will be consultations among the Allies. Any
collective action by NATO will be decided by the North Atlantic Council. The
United States can also carry out independent actions, consistent with its
rights and obligations under the UN Charter.

{Emphasis added by CTDATA.}

This may be the reason why some foreign ministers in Europe have indicated that they are not necessarily committing troops to relatiatory military action.

September 19, 2001

After a Week, Rescuers Still Have Not Reached WTC Tower Wreckage

This morning, Ed Walsh on WOR Radio read this shocking quote from the New York Times:

Seven days after the disaster, contractors clearing rubble at the site said they had yet to reach even the area where the twin towers had stood, except occasionally with the aid of mechanical talons at the ends of huge cranes.

The article from which the quote is taken, At the Site, Little Hope of Uncovering Survivors, provides a lot of new statistical information about the scope of the rescue and recovery effort. However, it is even difficult for people who were at the World Trade Center every day to understand this article without a good area map. At the moment, the best map we have located is a map of the surroundings of the World Financial Center. This only shows the western half of the World Trade Center site, so it explains only part of the New York Times article.

The New York Times quotes a representative of Bovis Lend Lease, responsible for recovery of the southwest quadrant of the site, as saying "The buildings came down and spread out to West Street and in every direction...." The article goes on to say, "{Bovis'} crews are still 100 feet away from the {South Tower}, but can now use a new wave of heavy equipment, including cranes that can reach across the debris and try to pick out the gnarled masses of steel."

The World Financial Center Map shows the West Street boundary of the World Trade Center site as well as the buildings which once stood adjoining West Street. In order to reach the ruins of the South Tower, workers must work their way over or through the ruins of the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel. As the article says, "The rubble stands as high as a six-story building.... Clearing away the debris to get to the physical foundations of the southern tower could take up to two months...."

Ferry Services to Lower Manhattan Try to Replace PATH Service

The company called New York Waterway Ferry provides ferry services across New York Harbor. It established commuter services to supplement the PATH rail system in 1986.

At the time of the disaster, veteran commuters wondered where ferry services would land in order to get people into the Lower Manhattan area. Until September 11, most ferry service to Lower Manhattan landed at the World Financial Center, south of the New York Mercantile Exchange building and west of the base of Building 4. NY Waterway has announced that it will provide service to Pier 11, the pier directly south of South Street Seaport. Pier 11 is on the east side of Manhattan island, at the foot of Wall Street.

Apparently, NY Waterway had service running into Pier 11 prior to the disaster. However, this was not their typical service from New Jersey because it is a significant distance further from Harborside in Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken than their landing at the World Financial Center.

One of the questions that has arisen among New Yorkers is whether the remaining mass transit services will be sufficient to carry the number of workers who live in New Jersey and work in Lower Manhattan. The key remaining services are as follows:

  • NJ Transit and AMTRAK service to Penn Station (33rd and 8th Avenue)
  • PATH Rail service from Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken to 33rd Street and 7th Avenue
  • NY Waterway Ferry from Jersey City, Hoboken, and Weehawken to Pier 11
  • Passenger bus services to Port Authority Bus Terminal , 41st Street and 8th Avenue

These services were quite full prior to the disaster. Many people wonder whether more trains and busses can be run through these terminals, to make up the deficit associated with the loss of the PATH World Trade Center station. Another issue is whether there will be an immediate reduction in the number of commuters needing to get from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. Answers to these questions are not readily apparent at this time.

September 18, 2001

AP Story Describes Condition of WTC Concourse

Dave Aiello wrote, "In another heartbreaking story, Shannon McCaffery describes the remains of the concourse level of the World Trade Center:"

One floor beneath the World Trade Center, in what used to be a shopping concourse, a clock on a jewelry store {The Tourneau Time Machine} wall remained frozen at 9:10. A ghostly Bugs Bunny statue stood coated in gray dust outside a Warner Brothers gift shop nearby.

Dave Aiello continued:

For those of us who passed through this area every day for years, this article's description of the condition of the concourse brings home the damage in a way that many two dimensional images fail to do. I bought toys and gifts at the Warner Brothers' Studio Store many times. I bought hundreds of dollars worth of books at the Borders book store nearby.

The scariest part of these places is that they are not really gone. They are simply buried under tons of debris. And the concourse, the stores, and the PATH station are the tombs of some of our co-workers, friends, and the rescue workers who came to save them.

Tom Clancy: First We Crippled The CIA, Then We Blamed It

Tom Clancy, in a piece in the Opinion Journal, tries to explain how America lost the political will to fund CIA covert operations. He writes:

Call it the law of unintended consequences. The intelligence community was successfully assaulted for actions taken under constitutionally mandated orders, and with nothing left to replace what was smashed, warnings we might have had to prevent this horrid event never came. Of course, neither I nor anyone else can prove that the warnings would have come, and I will not invoke the rhetoric of the political left on so sad an occasion as this.

NY Times Article Hints at Difficulty of WTC Excavation

Julie Aiello pointed out that today's New York Times has an article which describes the excavation that will be required to fully search the World Trade Center's basements. The article goes into some detail about the construction techniques used to build the outside, waterproof foundation walls. It also talks about the conditions of the PATH system from Exchange Place to the World Trade Center station, and certain subway lines including the 1-9 and N-R.

US Financial Markets Operate Smoothly on First Day

Congratulations to the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, and the other US financial markets for successfully restoring trading yesterday. They not only traded all day with no interruptions, but also made trading look smooth, in spite of tremendous volume.

As we pointed out last week, this achievement was not a foregone conclusion. There was a very good possibility that communication links would fail after trading resumed, because relocated facilities may not have been as redundant as the ones that existed prior to the disaster.

September 14, 2001

In Memory of Those Who Were Lost in the Attacks of September 11

President Bush has declared today a national day of prayer and rememberance. Therefore, we pause to remember our fellow citizens who have died, and we pray that God will give strength to those engaged in the rescue and recovery efforts. May He have mercy on us all.

September 13, 2001

Perl and Linux Communities Seek Whereabouts of Its NYC Area Members

We have identified a number of places where Perl and Linux user groups are collecting information about their Metropolitan New York-area members:

  • Damian Conway's list of Perl community members
  • NYC.pm disaster check-in (New York City Perl Mongers)
  • NYLUG disaster check-in (New York Linux User Group)
  • The World Trade Center Tragedy discussion on PerlMonks.org

Update: Mayor Giuliani has noted that a significant amount of the information posted to Web-based survivor lists is wrong or misleading. He asked people who are collecting this information to stop. Therefore, we have removed the links to these lists from our Web Site.

Data Communications Disruption May Hamper the NYSE

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Verizon's facilities in Lower Manhattan have been severely damaged. From our experience working for financial firms in that area, there are thousands of T1 lines and other private lines that interconnect the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, banks, and brokerage houses. There is no question that many of these will be impared or fully disrupted for some time. This article provides some anecdotal evidence of the amount of infrastructure work that needs to take place, beyond basic electricity, gas, and steam.

The contingency plans of all Lower Manhattan-based firms and organizations have never been enacted to the extent that they will be within the next few days. We can only hope that when the stock markets begin trading that they can take the orders, process them, and provide market data to their customers.

WSJ: Many People Avoided WTC Disaster by Coincidence

Dave Aiello wrote, "Today's Wall Street Journal is carrying an article entitled, She Got Laid Off, He Missed a Train; Such Lucky Breaks. The article tells the story of people who would normally have been in, or passing through, the World Trade Center at the time of the disaster but were not there because of unusual situations."

"I can relate to the people in this story, because I would have been passing through the World Trade Center on the day of the disaster, if the project that I had been working on at J.P. Morgan Chase had not been cancelled during the week of Labor Day. My friend Ray Weisner, a fellow Rensselaer alumnus, was not in his World Trade Center office on Tuesday because he was getting his teeth cleaned at his dentist."

If it is possible to link to the WSJ article from a public site, we will do so later today.

September 12, 2001

In Spite of Collapse, WTC Was One of Best Engineered Building in the World

The BBC is carrying a story that says: "The design of the World Trade Center saved thousands of lives by standing for well over an hour after the planes crashed into its twin towers, say structural engineers." This article is similar to articles that have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.

When the first terrorist attack occured on the World Trade Center in 1993, it was clear that the plan was to cause an explosion in the sub-basement of one tower that would topple it, and either knock down the second tower or undermine it so that it could not be used. This week's attack was obviously planned with the previous failure in mind.

As time passes since the attack, the enormity and diabolical nature of the plan is settling in. Consider these facts:

  • at least 20 people were involved in the series of hijackings as members of hijacking teams,
  • more than four of the hijackers must have been trained pilots, capable of flying either Boeing 757s or 767s,
  • all flights were chosen based on the airplanes that the airlines were planning to fly, so that the hijack pilots could fly them,
  • all flights were chosen for their planned length, so that the hijacked planes would be full of fuel,
  • crashes into the WTC towers were staggered, permitting TV to cover the second crash live,
  • passengers in the hijacked planes were encouraged to call their families, increasing the terroristic effect.

No one could have assumed that both strikes on the World Trade Center would be successful, considering the complexity of the events. This is undoubtedly the most daring kamakaze attack in world history, and possibly the biggest tragedy in American history.

Kudos to Ed Anuff for pointing this story out.

September 11, 2001

World Trade Center Destroyed by Terrorist Acts

Dave Aiello wrote, "Of course you know by now that the World Trade Center has been destroyed by an orchestrated terrorist attack. I don't have anything to add to the news other than to say the following:"

  • Many friends know that I work in Lower Manhattan most of the time. Many have called different phone numbers trying to reach me. I am safe. I am in Central New Jersey.

  • I pray for my friends who I know were working in the area. I pray for the people who I've seen day after day on the PATH train. I hope all of them are safe. I am sure some of them are not.

September 7, 2001

Broadband Connection Finally Installed in Lawrenceville

On August 1, CTDATA moved its main office from Denville, NJ to Lawrenceville, NJ. Today, Comcast Business Communications turned on the Lawrenceville office's broadband connection.

After having DSL or T1 access in the office, it is really hard to return to dialup connectivity for anything more than a week. Five weeks of dialup access is a near disaster. It doesn't matter how far in advance the contracts are signed if the provider doesn't have enough qualified technicians to actually visit. We'll have to keep this in mind for the next time we move....

BusinessWeek Thinks HP-Compaq Merger Means Big Things for Linux

BusinessWeek is the first business publication to run a major story suggesting that the HP-Compaq merger may result in increased promotion of the Linux operating system. If you have been reading the Linux advocacy outlets (like Slashdot), you know that both HP and Compaq have been spending small but significant sums on supporting Linux on their Intel-based servers. The companies also employ some influential members of the Linux community: HP employs Bruce Perens, Compaq employed Jon "Maddog" Hall until he left to join Linux International.

In two ways, it would make sense for HP and Compaq to place greater emphasis on Linux: It would allow them to consolidate their server operating systems (now numbering 5 or more). It would also align their integration services strategy more closely with IBM, whom they are clearly trying to emulate.

We still don't like the merger because of the vast overlap of businesses between the two companies and the amount of time it will take for them to rationalize them. But, we agree with the ideas expressed by Sam Jaffe in this article.

September 5, 2001

HP and Compaq: $25 Billion for a Computer Services Group?

Dave Aiello wrote, "I noticed that many Wall Street analysts agree with me on the proposed HP-Compaq merger. The New York Times says that the merger '{is viewed} as an admission of weakness rather than strength and as an indication that a shakeout has begun in the brutally competitive computer business.' I think that the most valuable acquisition HP is making is the service business that Compaq acquired when it took over Digital Equipment Corporation. Is this business worth the amount of stock that HP is giving away?"

"The greatest cost, of course, is the opportunity cost of focusing the combined organization inward to rationalize its overlapping businesses. Can anyone in the hardware industry afford to take its eye off the ball for a year at this point?"