Saturday, March 22, 2003

Shock and blog.

A slate gray day, this Saturday. Lilly and I stayed home; Ann and Yuriko went north to the supermarket formerly known as Yaohan, which is under a different name now, but still very much like a grocery store you’d find in Japan, except for certain details, like the pricing in dollars.

Ann update: she’s smiling now. (Well, actually, she’s sleeping now. But she’s able to smile.) She smiled at me for the first time this week, a genuine smile, not the archaic smile you sometimes see on very tiny babies. Also, she’s just about able to hold up her head. Lilly gave me her fist smile on Christmas Day, 1997.

I’ve noticed that the networks have calmed down a little. This afternoon, most of them carried their usual Saturday ballast of sports programming. War is war, but it can’t interfere with March Madness.

The day the war got under way in earnest, (brother) Jay wrote to me: “The problem with 'special coverage' — meaning continuous coverage — of the war in Mesopotamia (I'm with Churchill on this one) is that even in this electronic, digital age, war doesn’t really move fast enough for it. This means that special coverage is a thin skeleton of reported or suspected fact supporting — as best it can — a bloated body of speculation and opinion, repeated over and over again.

“It would be better if they continued normal programming and broke in for a few minutes when they had something previously unreported to say: Basra Falls to 5th Marines; Nestorian Patriarch Rescued by SAS troops; Saddam Hussein and Mistress Killed by Partisans While Attempting to Flee Into Switzerland — no, that was Mussolini. Instead: “Well, [fill in name of embedded reporter], we've heard reports that some, at least, of the Army Rangers are wearing ‘Hello Kitty’ bootlaces. Is there any truth in this? Have you seen this where you are?”

“Then we go to a colloquy in which three retired generals fresh from the military experts' pool (which has an admirable buffet) discuss how this unlooked for deviation from standard military procedure affects the announced intent of the United States government to ‘shock and awe’ the Iraqi government and armed forces; that is, assuming there's any truth in this report to start with. Und so weiter.”

The thing to do, then, is ignore TV and the radio for most of the day. Usually, that’s easy enough, but war news is a little harder to resist. But I will do my best.


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