Thursday, September 01, 2005

Waking Up and Rolling Over

Who else out there has not been reading Pundita? How did I miss her? Would someone please remove this rock so I can crawl out and look around more often?[Note to Help Desk: blogroll at the first opportunity.]

Had it not been for a snip and a link to her thoughts on The Glittering Eye, that would still be the case here. The only thing to decide — rather like a chocolate fiend in a Lindt store — is which of her essays to read first. Since Katrina is on everyone’s mind, let’s start with Pundita’s summation. Go see: even the title is brilliant.
     …My question is whether you think the government and the public will see the Katrina disaster as an interruption or a wake-up call, once the immediate crisis has passed.
Tom in Sioux City"

Dear Tom:
The "wakeup call" stage is long past; that stage came with Hurricane Andrew. At this moment the CEOs of US oil and refinery companies would prefer to face the entire remnants of al Qaeda rather than meet one insurance claims adjuster in a dark alley. CEOs at Lockheed and all other major corporations in the New Orleans area share the same preference.
This is what's known as increasing the R&D budget at the point of a gun. This is America, not Bangladesh. So 25% of a major US industry shouldn't be shot to hell for weeks because of a storm. A key American city shouldn't be 80% flooded within 24 hours of a storm and with no immediate way to deal with rising waters.
The only question now is whether to rebuild or move New Orleans. If they want to rebuild, Louisiana has to spend megabucks on existing technologies or ask for new ones, if they want to perch a key American city below sea level between a river and a lake in a hurricane alley.
If they don't have the bucks -- either the federal government pulls a rabbit out of the hat or New Orleans is removed from the map.
I think the American public understands that -- or they will, by the end of this week.

Having said all that, she then proceeded to go on vacation. Won’t be back until September 6th. Meanwhile, you can read her treasure trove of essays. Especially to be recommended is one on Genghis Khan.

Another meanwhile: there will be much discussion in the coming months as to why the government — the inept, incompetent and cruel Bush Administration, to be precise — let this disaster occur. Why there wasn’t more funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, why we didn’t sign the Kyoto Protocol, why…oh, well, you know the drill. When Republicans are in power, bad things are their responsibility. When Democrats are in power, Mommy will take care of you and make the boo boo better.

New Orleans is a boo boo. Built in a strategic location for disaster, it is amazing how corrupt the building codes are. It will be interesting to see what Pundita has to say about rebuilding. Or not rebuilding.

A third meanwhile: choose carefully where you give. Though I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere, I will put this thought out for your consideration: are you at all concerned that your donations will end up being less-than-optimized? I have images of supplies rotting somewhere because of bureaucratic ineptitude.

Florida Cracker has some good links to helping those who rescue animals. Not only that, but she will match funds if you send her your receipt. That is, as Jinderella would have said, very kewl. To my knowledge no other individual blogger is making that offer.

The Glittering Eye has a link to Catholic Charities. I will admit a particular soft spot for Catholic Charities since they ran the orphanage where I lived from the age of five to ten.

Instapundit, as the Baron mentioned, has a long list of groups — lots of places to choose from.

Indus Valley Rising has a post on a small group in New Orleans that he knows personally. In addition, his post on Katrina vis-à-vis natural disasters in third world countries, is more than worth your time. His view resonates with Pundita's.

Right: Blog Swarm!All monies shouldn’t collect in one big pot; it encourages waste.

If other people have specific charitable organizations, please come and list them. Charity listings seem to have become a blog swarm.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Baron's update: Your wish is my command, o exalted one. The Pundita is blogrolled.

Also: Mark Steyn is selling his books and turning the entire sale amount over to hurricane charities. Not just a “portion” of the proceeds, but the whole enchilada. That's a great deal, because you get to feel good about yourself and read the best political prose of our generation.


Dymphna said...

Great idea -- Steyn's books, I mean. Would you go over and order several for Christmas gifts? One for the Boy, one for Harry.

Thank you, Help Desk.

Pundita said...

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco's Wednesday press conference, viewed against the ongoing tragedy in New Orleans on Thursday, caused me to delay my vacation by a day.

I had wanted to wait until the worst of the tragedy was past before asking a tough question. But given that Governor Blanco did not wait to pat her administration on the back I decided not to wait, either.

In addition to the human tragedy created by Katrina, and quite aside from the complex technical questions related to shoring the levees against future storms, there is a stark, disturbing question:

Why was a large American gulf city very badly prepared to deal with the approach and aftermath of a powerful hurricane?

I don't have the answer -- it is far too soon to settle on answers -- but my September 1 post makes a try at outlining the parameters of the question.

al fin said...

I enjoy reading Pundita. I will admit that I was put off by her coverage of the "Chinese epidemic." Sometimes there is a fine line between reporting/theorizing, and rumor-mongering.

Too many bloggers are obsessed with the Avian flu and other potential emerging diseases when there are far worse threats on their doorstep.

Synthetic biology has the potential for any half-assed biologist to create a brand new pathological organism, designed to do just about anything to the human body--even designed to attack only humans with specific genes. This is the tinker-toy molecular/biological design method that nanotechnologists, artificial life researchers, cutting edge theoretical systems biologists and futurists have been dreaming about.

To be sure, biological weapons hackers have been hoping for these tools as well. While thousands of bloggers are sitting around "Waiting for Avian Flu", the deadly scourge is apt to emerge from some precocious teenager's garage laboratory.

Society may need to rethink its "herding instincts" in city planning, education, employment complexes, etc.