Several American news organisations are preparing exposés of the “untold story” of 9/11 after Giuliani’s dispute with the firefighters became embarrassingly public last week. He was the only leading presidential candidate not to appear at a Washington gathering of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which accused him of showing a “disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen” after the September 11 attacks.
Behind the union’s attack lies the grief and anger of families who believe their loved ones need not have died that day and their conviction that some bodies would never have been recovered had Giuliani had his way.
Jim Riches, 29, had been helping to rescue office workers in the north tower when it collapsed. In the dust and debris, his fellow firefighters did not realise that the south tower had already crashed to the ground. Despite the terrifying noise, survivors say they thought only the top storeys had toppled. They never heard the order to evacuate. “My son could have had 30 minutes to escape,” Riches Sr said.
The firefighters were still using the antiquated “handie-talkie” radios that failed to work during the 1993 bombing of the twin towers, when Giuliani was also mayor. He not only failed to replace them, but also located the city’s new emergency command centre at the World Trade Center against the advice of key officials. It proved useless when it was most needed.
Lack of communication also meant that warnings from police helicopters about an imminent collapse failed to get through.
I am overweight. Unimaginable! But I finally had to face facts. My legendary metabolism has, at long last, capitulated like a Frenchman. It was done in by a combination of my sedentary lifestyle and my poor diet. I was also having sleeping problems. Not enough of it. Too much of it at the wrong hours.
I never thought I’d have a beer belly, since I used to regularly eat truly obscene amounts of bad-for-me, greasy, disgusting fast food and still feel hungry pretty quickly. My personal best/worst is scarfing more than 20 tacos in a single sitting. No matter what I ate, I still resembled a bulimic twig. I guess something changed! Prosperity has made me insomniac, fat, and weak, and I am a useless, yet vain creature, so it’s time to get fit. I’ve started hitting the gym every day to try to improve the situation. It’s been about a month since I started going, I guess—and I feel like a
million thousand bucks, although I’m still pretty flabby and weak. True to my nerdy nature, I wanted to quantify my progress. The human hamster wheels don’t give you an accurate guess as to how many calories you’ve burned in your workout unless you put in your weight and age (and even then, I doubt it’s truly accurate, but I’ll take what I can get), so I asked at the gym to find out where I could weigh myself. They told me there was a scale in the men’s locker room, so off I went.
I was appalled by it. It was what I think of as a “doctor’s scale”, although I haven’t been to a doctor in a long time—quacks, the lot of them—and zorkie has since informed me that they typically have modern scales now. I hate those things with the sliding lumps! I used it for two days and gave up. It should not take minutes of fiddling with sliding lumps to find out how much I weigh. I am not patient by nature. In fact I can’t believe that I’m not already Adonis after a month of hitting the gym; what a gyp! GQ—call me. By the way, I weigh 205 pounds, give or take a few-pound fluctuation that would show up as noise on the trendline I will eventually plot once I have accumulated sufficient data (nerd, man. I’m tellin’ ya). I’m about 6-foot-3, and according to some chart on the internet that I found by Googling, I should weigh from 167 pounds up to 182 pounds. Wow! I didn’t think I was that much overweight. It’s just a cute little beer belly, I pleaded with the chart on the website.
You’ll pay for this, Al Gore.
I decided to get my own damn scale. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, expecting to spend something like 10 or 20 bucks. Well! They started about $40 at waist level, and the ones at eye-level were about $80-$100. What the hey? Nothing makes me feel more like a loser than what you crazy Americans spend on stuff. I mean really! Are you people that frigging rich?! Fuckin’ A! I’m going back to Jordan. Where what you crazy white people spend on a simple freaking scale is a doctor’s salary for a month. They were all digital too, with hilarious warnings. Well first of all, one of the $80 ones said it required 4 AA batteries, not included. Nice! I get an overpriced scale to weigh myself, and all of a sudden I have yet another set of batteries to worry about. The $100 scale had a lithium battery, included, that would allegedly last a lifetime. Improvement, I guess. All these junky Made-In-China ripoffs had hilarious warnings on them. “Do not use if you have a cardiac pacemaker”—maybe that’s Dick Cheney’s problem! So what happens here? I just don’t see the chain of causality. I can’t imagine how standing on a digital scale could possibly affect your pacemaker. You get on a digital scale and it reaches up your leg and makes your heart burst? What about static electricity, is it even worse for your pacemaker if you were scuffing your feet before you stepped on the scale? But an even funnier warning was “Do not use if you are pregnant”. Hwat? This has to be a joke! I think the warnings must have been written by a husband who was sick of his pregnant wife thinking she’s fat because of the baby’s weight, or else digital scales cause spontaneous abortions and birth deformities. I mean really!
This is progress, America? People are so scared of reading a needle on a dial that they’ll pay $100 for a digital readout? Or does a digital readout mean the scale is more accurate because it’s digital? Gosh, it’s a miracle people were able to get any accurate science done before digital readouts were invented! Rest in peace, Douglas Adams:
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
He wrote that sometime in the late 70’s. Since then, the “pretty neat idea” has only metastasized. Digital scales that require batteries, stop your heart, and abort your baby! Progress!
I eventually located a proper scale, with a needle on a dial and a pricetag that did not offend my tawdry penurious tendencies. It was on the bottom rack of the shelf where people’s feet can kick it, so you have to stoop over, and there was only one model. If you want to spend $40, there are about three or four models, and four or five models at $80, and one model at $100. I imagine the psychological retailer’s trick at work here (other than eye-level placement) is that the $80 model seems like the moderate choice. Not too cheap, not too ostentatious. You terrorist bastards! I’ll see you in hell.
The scale I finally bought was a Homedics model. It cost a double sawbuck. Even the box seemed to be made of cheapier* material, and when I got the scale out (there was no display model to molest, because that’s reserved for the respectable models) it felt cheap as crap and was ugly besides. It works great, though! Now, I can tell exactly how little progress I’m making in the comfort of my own bathroom. I weigh myself, hairy, ugly, and naked, every morning before going to the gym and I write it down on that day’s index card. When I come back from the gym I write the details of my workout (calories burned, miles ran) and at night, what I ate and drank that day. Index cards are great. Don’t give me any of this PDA crap. When I have enough index cards accumulated I’ll plot everything on the computer but for now it’s all on paper. And there’s nothing wrong with that, you goddamned digital brownshirts.
Take your progress and shove it. If I ever own a watch, and that’ll be a cold day in hell, it will be normal and analog, with no battery and a stem winder and a real action inside it. Did you know that there are digital-analog watches? You can buy a watch that looks normal with a 12-face and a big hand and a little hand and it moves the hands around the face, and it’s really lying to you, it’s actually keeping the time digitally inside, and it just moves the hands around with battery power instead of a spring action. What a grotesque fraud! Like a pre-op tranny who will do everything with you except let you put your hand between her legs. And isn’t it funny that the real scales are the cheap crappy ones, and the cheap, crappy watches are the digital ones?
Screw technology. I’m gonna start blogging on an abacus.
*Silence, pedant! Cheapier is most definitely a word. It means “more cheapy”.