Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Friday, July 30, 2004

Colorless Green Indices Sleep Furiously

I've discovered a wonderful new bloviation amplifier: the InFact 9/11 Commission Report Index, a software-generated compendium of quotes from the Senate Select Committee indexed under the categories of People, Places and Organizations, and digested according to subject, verb and object. The company offering InFact tells us that it is "sophisticated and highly interactive", and that the report index compiled by InFact reflected their goal "to provide a way to go through the report and view the events and relationships involving the people, places and organizations mentioned in the document in a way that is abbreviated, and yet meaningful." And what else would you expect from a company called Insightful? The guy in the photo on their homepage sure looks happy, and now I know why.

"Abbreviated, and yet meaningful." I am so far from making that my blog motto. Permit me instead to bloviate at my usual length on my findings from InFact's index.

Under people, I immediately noticed "Hitler" - and right next to "Hillary Rodham Clinton". That collocation must delight right-wingers who hate Hillary for a living - for surely some linger in that niche, loyal to their customers in the face of enticements to switch to the more lucrative businesses of hating Joseph Wilson, Samuel Berger and John Kerry. But what was Hitler doing in there anyway? He had two InFact entries, busier than some others:
organize : by bin ladin film : session
refer to : as good man hitler : as good man
Both links took me to the same quote: in a section titled "AL QAEDA AIMS AT THE AMERICAN HOMELAND", we read about Mounir el Motassadeq, the recently released 9/11 co-conspirator:
One of Motassadeq's roommates recalls him referring to Hitler as a "good man" and organizing film sessions that included speeches by Bin Ladin.
Ah, see? Motassedeq's insanity defense in any re-trial is now secure - expressions of admiration for Hitler have been heard from possibly-sane leaders as various as Saddam Hussein and Idi Amin (if that can be called "variety") but how many people in their right minds would believe that Hitler is still running around alive, not to mention organizing Bin Laden film festivals in Germany?

Bin Laden's name shows up five times under 'people' (as 'Bin Ladin', 'Bin Laden' 'Usama Bin Laden', 'Usama Bin Ladin' and, in case you didn't get it, 'Usama Bin Ladin Terrorist Threat'.) Dick Cheney's name shows up only three times ('Cheney', 'Dick Cheney and 'Vice Presidentelect Cheney'). Bin Laden's index entries go on and on, and so do Cheney's: under 'Cheney' we find that InFact's index entries sometimes identify him as 'President Cheney' - no disagreement there from Maureen Dowd. A President Cheney who, on 9/11, "...strongly wanted to return to Washington and only grudgingly agreed to go elsewhere."

Under "People", you'll find more index entries for the late islamist intellectual Qutb (for whom I've yet to see convincing proof of having fomented terrorism against the U.S.) than you'll find for Karl Rove. 'Nypd' turns out not to be a commentator on Qutb's commentaries on the Koran, as I first suspected. I was disappointed not to find Martin Luther 'discredited' by Qutb or anyone else - it turns out the entry for Luther refers to the FBI's attempt to discredit Martin Luther King Jr., way back when.

Anonymous sources pervade the report. There is some heavily-quoted shadowy operative identified only as "Mike". (Not me, I swear!) And somebody named "Cleveland Centers," about whom we may find out more in the future. Or perhaps not - it might be up to Deputy Draft Paper, a very reserved fellow it would seem. Is that "Mike" really "Cleveland Centers", the "Deep Throat" of some coverup? You won't find out under "Oral", which leads only to a dead end page.

As for "Patience", I think I must have gone to high school with her. Patience struck me then as a zaftig candidate for odalisque training - I lusted after her even after I found out she'd been at bible camp over the summer before my junior year. Patience ended up turning muslim after all, it appears. She hooked with a guy named Pakistan, in a relationship that, according to the 9/11 report, had her "wearing thin." (Wearing thin what? It's keeping me awake at night.) I think I also remember Lorain Radar from college, but maybe it was "Loran Radar" back then? I hope she's happy working with Cleveland Center, whoever he is.

And that's just People. Places and Organizations look to be veritable gem mines themselves.

I'm beginning to have some doubts, however, about InFact's accuracy. Insightful's current version of the index refers to an organization called "There" and a place called "Noncompliance." I'd categorize those the other way around. Then again, I'm not a sophisticated and highly interactive text analysis tool, and nobody would ever say that my writing was abbreviated, and yet meaningful.

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