Timing, it’s all about timing

It’s all about timing. The war, visas, everything.

Watching all of this on CNN leaves me with a cauldron of conflicting feelings. On one hand, I’m horrified that this war has started. This is the wrong war at the wrong time. It’s wrong for the United States, the Iraqi people, the system of alliances built up since World War II and for world stability. It will make America — and the world — less safe. It will also kill a lot of innocent people needlessly.
I’m also a little relieved, now that the tension of the last few months has been broken.
But as a journalist, I’m also very, very frustrated that I’m still waiting on visas and I’m not there yet. (This impatience is, admittedly, not one of my finer qualities. Other journalists will understand, though.) I don’t want to feel like a vulture, but I’m champing at the bit to get in there, get into the thick of the story and see first hand what’s going on. I don’t like relying on CNN et al. But I also want to be part of the biggest story in the world right now.
Today, the Syrians told me to refax my visa information, but they were — suddenly — much more optimistic about my paperwork. Fatima told me a transit visa shouldn’t take too long. An Iranian visa company I’m working with told me things would be more possible after 25 March, when the Norooz New Year (20-24 March) is over. After that it will take a week, I was told. So things are still looking good for a two-week or so departure date.

More on bandwidth

Whew. Well, more bandwidth has been procured, thankfully. We can now handle 2 MB/sec instead of the 1 MB/sec that we previously. We were originally burstable to 100 MB/sec, but B2I were getting so much traffic someone at the hosting facility turned it off and put a hard quota on — without telling anyone. Grr.
Anyway, I hope it’s fixed now. It certainly seems faster on my end of the pipe. Sorry for the trouble everyone.

Bandwidth Issues

I toyed with the idea of a headline reading, “U.S. government invades Back to Iraq; Defenders Rally, Beat Back Yankee Devils!” but then I realized it wasn’t that funny.
My server is absolutely swamped. I don’t know if it’s a Denial of Service attack (my favorite paranoid fantasy) or just a problem with the number of people visiting and the traffic is too much to handle. Monday, we saw 14,000+ unique visitors and we moved almost 4 GB 40 GB (!!) of traffic yesterday. While this is a problem, this is a _good_ problem.
However, I can’t get into the site. On my end, it didn’t look like the Tariq Aziz entry went up. I’m glad that it did and _some_ people can get onto he site.
I’m really hoping we can get this resolved today, and I’m really, really sorry to people who are having trouble with the site. We’re working on the problem and hopefully we will have some answers soon.

Clearing up some confusion

Responses to some misconceptions

First of all, so many people have been visiting that I suspect the server is straining. That’s, uh, good, I suppose. At any rate, it’s a good problem to have. The Wired.com story was great for getting attention, but it seems to have created some new problems. I’d like to clear up some misconceptions:
1. I’m not in Iraq at the moment. I’m still raising funds via PayPal to get there. Departure date is around the beginning of April depending on when the visas from Syria/Turkey/Iran come through. I’m not sure where the impression came that I was there already, but this trip is still coming together. Currently, donations total more than $5000, but to jet off to a war zone for a month with less than $10,000 is suicide. I’m got my own savings of $1,500, but that’s not quite enough yet.
While I wish I could be there to be shocked and awed, the beginning of April will be a good time because by then, the northern front will be a _most interesting place_, with Iranians, Turks, Kurds, Americans and perhaps Iraqis running about.
2. I’m independent, not unbiased. There’s a difference. And when one is still in New York, working from your own sources as well as what’s out in the mediaverse, columns are what one writes. I never claimed to be unbiased, but my biases are clear and my reporting is transparent. The stories I will and have been reporting hopefully will stand up to scrutiny and history. That will be my credibility, not whether a reader agrees with my stance or not.
Yes, I’m opposed to this war, although I’m not opposed to war in general. I think this war is the wrong war at the wrong time. One of the things that this web site allows me to do is to call bullshit when I think I see it, and last night’s presidential address was an opportunity to do that. Other than a 48-hour deadline, it was the same arguments that have been presented for months. (For that matter, the anti-war crowd has hardened its positions — we’re now in ideological trench warfare.)
So I hope this clears up some confusion. And to people who have donated and/or written to express your good will and well-wishes, thank you so much. If I haven’t responded to you yet, please be patient. I’ve been swamped and it’s been a busy few days. I will write you today or tomorrow, depending on what happens in the world.