In the last decade, urbanism has con- verged, to some extent, with another field of study: Internet use. It's probably not an accident. Both cities and the Internet are at once highly atomized and elaborately connected milieus that encourage both solitude and interaction with the diverse, bountiful unwashed. And like city solitaires, Internet users were also once identified as antisocial loners, painfully awkward people who vanished into the green-gray light of their computer screens rather than joining the warm community of man. In the beginning, studies even showed this to be true (or that users were shy, anyway). But not once three-quarters of the public started using the Internet.

"The idea that you're isolated when you're online is, to me, just wrong," says Keith Hampton, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania who did an extensive ethnography of "Netville," a new, 100 percent wired community in suburban Toronto. "It's an inherently social medium. What starts online moves offline, and what starts offline goes online." Which explains why the people with whom you e-mail most frequently are your closest friends and romantic partners. "Online and offline are inherently connected," he says. "They're not separate worlds."

-- Alone Together: The Loneliness Myth, by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine, December 2008


7 days, 1 hour, and 14 minutes ago was the last time I heard from my friend Lu. We were chatting over gmail, like we always did.

We had been chatting off and on all day, ever since I pinged her at 8:25am right after I woke up that Saturday morning.

It seems really long ago now.

She told me about the bad dream she had and I told her about how I never really dream anymore. She told me about how foggy it was there that morning and we bitched about squirrels together - we shared a special hate for them. I complained about my cold and how the medicine wasn't working. I told her about the two things I want to do before I die. She complained about the small town post office. And then we started sending each other the music we were listening to.

I sent her Bach's hunting cantata "Sheep Can Safely Graze." She sent me Clem Snyde and some Pharcyde. I sent her a Dan Bern song and she sent me a bunch more of his back. She sent me a song that her band played. She sent me Fantasie in F Minor - not played by her but I know she played it perfectly, all 19 minutes of it. I sent her some Jozi.

She remembered the Uganda slide-show of pictures from the orphanage that I was supposed to show her, so we watched it and talked about it. We talked about African languages that I'll need to learn over there. That was the last thing we talked about.

"rofl. peace out."

That was the last thing she ever said to me.

Alexandra Clare Wilich, 28, died unexpectedly Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008. Her many friends and family called her Lexi.


I'm spending today and tomorrow in our West Village office for meetings with the partners that are doing the account planning session for the client I'm helping out with. I love this office because this is the view from my desk.

Also, the main office area is a big wide-open work space about half the size of a city block. Its got high ceilings with those suspended HVAC ducts, and for some reason whenever the heat or the AC comes on in the building, the entire hanging metal structure does a sort of metallic shudder, causing a big sound akin to thunder, but its right above your head and your inside.

I've gotten used to it after years of being in and out of this office, but it still sneaks up on you sometimes. Every time it happens you kind of look around to see everyone else who got taken by surprise and is mildly freaked.

The real bonus however is when you get a completely brand new analyst. She's hard at work in the brand new office with her head down at her laptop trying to meet some ridiculous deadline her manager gave her and all of a sudden thunder above her head and presto: office scream. And then we all turn around with huge grins and watch her cower and turn beet red.

Good times.


They're projecting Pennsylvania for Obama, which essentially means that McCain has to find a way to carry 5 out of 5 of the remaining must-win states to have a chance at the white house.


That's what I have to say to this whole race. These many months of insanity. This night of anticipation and mass celebration and grieving. What the freak ever.

You know what McCain would screw up? The economy, he has no idea how to fix that. He's going to keep giving the tax breaks (not to mention legal breaks) to the big corps that the Republican party is chronically indebted to. He'd more than likely not do a damn thing about the gross misappropriation of power to the executive branch of the government under the Bush administration. Gitmo, the NSA and the wiretaps, the Homeland Defense disorder, The Patriot Act. And he'd probably keep fairly similar foreign policy going, although he has a much more realistic approach to the war.

You know what Obama would screw up? The economy, he has no idea how to fix that. He's going to increase taxes for everybody 3-fold if he's going to pull off the kind of policy changes he's claiming (hint: he's not). He'll completely bollocks up the pull out of Iraq - and I have about that much confidence in his ability to manage Afghanistan and Iran - the man has no military experience whatsoever. He might do a bit more about fixing the office of the president and some of the other disasters developed in the previous administration. And although he might have a better foreign policy (this is my biggest siding with him - I can't imagine a candidate with a better position on Darfur), its not one that's supported by experience, which he'll have to get in real time. At least we don't have to fear the Palin factor if he did win.

Frankly I think neither of these candidates are a really great choice. We need change but it needs to be even more than the touchy-feely type that Obama's waxing his way into office with. We need a complete roll-back on financial policy and regulation. We need a massive shift in approach on the war in terror, and we need out of Iraq in a structured manner. We need a return to a position of moral leadership and a respected position in the world forum - we need to eliminate our gross violations of the Geneva Convention, our resistance to the Kyoto protocol, and other rights that we claim for America but forbid for everyone else. We need to fix the broken judicial and prison system, starting by realizing that the war on drugs is a war we shouldn't be in. We need a lot of other stuff that neither of these candidates is going to get around to during their stint in office.

Despite my cynicism, I went and voted today. It amazes me how few people think through these issues and then actually go out and vote. Its frankly quite frightening. We have sons and daughters still dying overseas to protect our freedom to do this and the vast majority of us will watch it on TV without ever taking part in the process. There is no national dialogue - we're a nation of zombies. Quite literally - we have been programmed.

In Zimbabwe this very year, there was an election complete with brute squads forcing people to vote in a completely rigged presidential election. The results weren't released for over a month, and when they were they were a lie. Hundreds of people were killed in the meantime. Thousands more fled the nation. And a tyrant remains while the economy continues to plummet. I'm convinced our freedom to vote without fear is one of the ones we appreciate the least and therefore will most miss when we lose it.

There goes the projection for Ohio. Whatever.


I've been researching the story of Lt. Daniel Dawson, a pilot shot down over Vietnam in November of 1964, and his older brother Donald. I first heard of the Dawson brothers' story in a sermon that quoted Edmund Clowney's own sermon, Sharing the Father's Welcome. You can read the following excerpt in its entirety, here.

During the war in Vietnam, Army Lieutenant Daniel Dawson’s reconnaissance plane went down over the Vietcong jungle. When his brother Donald heard the report, he sold everything he had, left his wife with $20, and bought passage to Vietnam. There he equipped himself with a soldier’s gear and wandered through the guerilla-controlled jungle, looking for his brother. He carried leaflets picturing the plane and describing in Vietnamese the reward for news of the missing pilot. He became known as Anh toi phi-cong—the brother of the pilot. A Life magazine reporter described his perilous search.

The Life magazine article in question was called "A Haunted Man's Perilous Search," from the March 12, 1965 edition of Life. Life is no longer in print but it is owned by time, and I'm still trying to find a back-issue of the article.

Time, however, did have a brief follow-up article on Donald's search, found here:

Californian Donald C. Dawson, 25, emerged from the jungle north of Bien Hoa airbase and reported that his reckless, obsessive search for his brother, Army Lieut. Daniel Dawson, was over after nine months—four of them as a Viet Cong prisoner. "They told me he was dead and gave me a flight vest he wore, and then they told me to go," said Don sadly. He never saw the grave, but the Viet Cong claimed they would tend it until Dawson could come back after the war to recover the body of his brother, shot down last Nov. 6 in a light reconnaissance plane. For Don, it was time to go home to his wife and four children in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The story really kicked me in the gut the first time I heard it related, and its one I'd like to write up in detail. I've found a couple more detailed but somewhat conflicting recounts of Donald's time in Vietnam here(from The First Marine Captured in Vietnam, by Donald Price) and here (from Honor Bound, by Stuart Rochester, Frederick Kiley).

In the meantime, more searching.