Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

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NYT: Legendary Monster of the Deep Is Captured on Film.

"For decades, scientists and sea explorers have mounted costly expeditions to hunt down and photograph the giant squid, a legendary monster with eyes the size of dinner plates and a nightmarish tangle of tentacles lined with long rows of sucker pads."


There's nothing quite like an unreliable power supply to give a town the rustic charm of a third-world nation --

Houston Chronicle: Rolling blackouts lasting longer amid record heat.

"Dennis Malcolm in Grogan's Mill in The Woodlands said his neighborhood experienced a 3 1/2-hour blackout Sunday, a six-hour blackout Monday, and another one began this afternoon just as temperatures climbed to the day's highs." ...

"In CenterPoint Energy's Conroe-to-Galveston service area today, the number of customers without power had dropped to 92,000 by late afternoon.... Dallas-based TXU says 27,000 customers in East Texas remain without power, and Beaumont-based Entergy, which services the hardest hits areas of Texas and Louisiana, reports today that more than 248,000 remain without power in Texas."

> Where we live, we get our electricity from Entergy.


WSJ (subscription): Hurricane Rita Makes Landfall; Houston Avoids Major Hit.

"... the new storm came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with its 1,000-plus death toll, cataclysmic flooding of New Orleans and staggering destruction in Mississippi. By contrast, Rita spared Houston, New Orleans and other major cities a direct hit, and by midafternoon Saturday federal officials said they knew of no storm-related fatalities."

Houston Chronicle: Thousands getting jump on three-day plan for return.

> I took the family and drove 200 miles to "evacuate" from the hurricane, even though we live 80 or 90 miles from the coast. Talking to neighbors who stayed, our ten and 1/2 hour drive was certainly worse than their experience staying through the storm.

> Why did I go? Didn't I know ahead of time that it was unnecessary, and maybe even a bad idea for my family to join this particular 2 million person evacuation?

> Look, it would have been really dumb to try to tell my wife and family that they were caught up in a mass panic and were acting illogically. Some things aren't worth arguing about.


CNN: Rita reaches Category 5; top winds at 165 mph.

> It's kind of weird knowing days in advance that a massive hurricane is coming your way. If it takes a direct hit, Galveston will be obliterated.


Newsweek: How Bush Blew It.

"How this could be -- how the president of the United States could have even less ‘situational awareness,’ as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century -- is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace."

Washington Post: Gas Prices Help Drive Down SUV Resale Value.

> Ha-ha-ha, ha, ha.


This link gave me hunger pains --

Slate: A Confederacy of Lunches.

"First, a clarification. Many people conflate Creole and Cajun cooking, which is understandable, because today they are served in the same restaurants. But the two cuisines are distinct."


The "paper of record" weighs in on who screwed up --

NYT: Breakdowns Marked Path From Hurricane to Anarchy.

"... FEMA found itself accused repeatedly of putting bureaucratic niceties ahead of getting aid to those who desperately needed it. Hundreds of firefighters, who responded to a nationwide call for help in the disaster, were held by the federal agency in Atlanta for days of training on community relations and sexual harassment before being sent on to the devastated area. The delay, some volunteers complained, meant lives were being lost in New Orleans. " ...

"An irony of the much-criticized federal hurricane response is that it is being overseen by a new cabinet department created because of perceived shortcomings in the response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

TBO Sports: LSU is America's Team.

"While you were sleeping ... LSU put on a show that was worthy of a movie script.... For three quarters, it was moribund football. Then it became Arena Football. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!"

> Damn, I didn't even turn on the TV.


National Science Foundation: New Images Suggest Oceanic Crust Generated from Several Magma Sources.

"The resulting images are the first of their kind to show solidified lenses and sills -- narrow lateral intrusions of magma -- embedded within the crust-mantle boundary known as the Moho transition zone. The presence of such lenses and sills deep near a mid-ocean ridge suggests the lower crust is at least partially formed from several smaller sources of magma rather than from a single large source located in the middle of the crust."

Slate: Why Do People in New Orleans Talk That Way? The origins of the accent.


AP: The shipping of a nation depends on New Orleans.

"Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Katrina shut it down, the Port of New Orleans -- an economic nerve center in the global distribution of everything from coffee to grain, rubber to steel -- is determined to begin reopening.... When it does reopen, officials say, the port will only do so at about 10 percent of its normal capacity. The hope is to reach 25 percent after three months."


Since I started finger-pointing yesterday --

Houston Chronicle: City had evacuation plan but strayed from strategy.

"City officials had 550 municipal buses and hundreds of additional school buses at their disposal but made no plans to use them to get people out of New Orleans before the storm, said Chester Wilmot, a civil engineering professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in transportation planning, who helped the city put together its evacuation plan."

> Clearly, New Orleans should have used those buses for something other than a hurricane party at the Superdome. They needed a coordinated effort with other municipalities that could provide shelters, both in and out of state.

> And maybe other major metropolitan areas should also have well-defined evacuation plans.

Jimmy Carter, USA Today: Longstanding disaster threats can't be ignored.

"This is not a time for partisan recriminations, because the clear threats to New Orleans have been recognized and analyzed for decades, and no adequate preventive or corrective action has been planned or funded."


C&C Technologies: New Orleans Flood Map.

> Click on a location to get a flooding estimate. Here's a description of their methodology.

Houston Chronicle: Victims looking for a home could change face of city.

"From doctors and architects to retirees and gang members, more than 150,000 Louisiana residents have landed on this city's doorstep. Some will be here for days and months, but many will simply stay."

> The state of Louisiana is carrying most of the burden, of course. To date, though, the response by the city of Houston has been fantastic. One misstep --

Houston Chronicle: Tally of evacuees in Houston shelters drops dramatically.

"When she heard about the offer to live on a cruise ship, Bobbie Williams, 44, rose from her cot, shaking her head emphatically. ‘No, no, no, no more water,’ she said. ‘I don't want to see no more water. I've been there, done that. Not right now.’"

It requires a subscription, but the Wall Street Journal coverage of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath has been excellent. Well-worth an on-line subscription.

WSJ: Crisis News Tracker.

"The government's disaster chief waited until hours after Hurricane Katrina had already struck the Gulf Coast before asking his boss to dispatch 1,000 Homeland Security workers to support rescuers in the region -- and gave them two days to arrive.... [Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,] said that among duties of these employees was to ‘convey a positive image’ about the government's response for victims."

Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post: It's Your Failure, Too, Mr. Bush.

"... an administration that since Sept. 11, 2001, has told us a major terrorist strike is inevitable should have had in place a well-elaborated plan for evacuating a major American city."

I hate to do too much "finger-pointing" here, but I've been hearing some total crap from apologists fabricating excuses for FEMA's terrible performance. This next entry isn't entirely "fair," but it is accurate --

Think Progress: Katrina Timeline.


In addition to the destruction of New Orleans, there have been a couple of other important events in recent U.S. news. First, the death of Chief Justice Rehnquist, and now this --

AP: Bob Denver, TV's Gilligan, Dead at 70.


New Orleans Times-Picayune: Breach closed in 17th Street Canal levee.

"Even as people were saying Monday afternoon that New Orleans had ‘dodged the bullet from Hurricane Katrina, the bullet was still coming,’ [Maj. Gen. Don Riley, deputy commanding general and director of civil works of the Corps] said. Massive amounts of water were still entering Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, pushed by the counterclockwise winds of the Category 4 storm, water that would overwhelm the levees designed to protect the city."


ABC13 Eyewitness News: Houston to open George R. Brown Convention Center to evacuees.

Slate: Mourning My New Orleans.

"Even with the cracked levees threatening to spill Lake Pontchartrain over the entire East Bank of New Orleans, the French Quarter, the Garden District, and Uptown (where my parents live) will most likely survive because they're on relatively high ground. The poorest neighborhoods, though, are the lowest-lying ones."

Slate: Lost in the Flood.

"... the New Orleans Times-Picayune five-parter from 2002, ‘Washing Away,’ ... reported that the city's 100,000 residents without private transportation were likely to be stranded by a big storm. In other words, what's happening is what was expected to happen: The poor didn't get out in time."

Another before and after comparison of satellite pictures of New Orleans.


NASA Earth Observatory: Flooding in New Orleans.

Like other iPod owners, I think mine has a little magic in it. When I woke up this morning, I pressed the "shuffle" button and was rewarded with Louis Armstrong singing When The Saints Go Marchin' In. I didn't even know it was on my iPod!

This is a little long, but let's keep it in the permanent record --

WSJ (subscription): As U.S. Mobilizes Aid, Katrina Exposes Flaws in Preparation.

"The storm is exposing serious failures by government leaders and crisis planners before Katrina's arrival and flawed execution by relief agencies as the disaster unfolded. Despite decades of repeated warnings about a breach of levees or failure of drainage systems that protect New Orleans from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, local and federal officials now concede there weren't sufficient preparations for dealing with a catastrophe of this scale." ...

"The Bush administration has consistently tussled with Congress over efforts on Capitol Hill to boost funding for the Army Corps. President Bush in 2002 fired his own Army Corps chief, former Mississippi congressman Michael Parker, after Mr. Parker backed lawmakers' efforts to push through a number of big projects, including a $188 million proposal to build a massive flood-control pump for the lower Mississippi River.

"After last summer's deadly hurricane season, Army Corps engineers compiled a list of about $18 billion in projects needed to shore up Louisiana's levees and other flood defenses. But this June, the Army Corps' New Orleans district heard from Washington that under a House proposal it could expect its annual budget to fall by as much as 20% in 2006, to $272 million from $343 million."

> But, hey, let's not lay all the blame on the current federal administration. For decades we have all known that a big storm was going swamp New Orleans someday. At federal, state, local and individual levels, we knew it.

> This was one of those strange "elephant in the living room" complacencies where the problem seemed so big that everyone just ignored it.

Scripting News: The politics of terrorism.

"Responsibility however is not with the administration, it lies with the electorate.... If anything is learned from this, [it is that] we have to think, we can't delegate."

Walter Kessinger

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