Sunday, September 04, 2005


It still feels like a Shadowrun adventure, and not one of the cool ones with dragons and elves.

I've been tuning in way too much to the stories coming out of the Gulf, and trying to find the answer to the basic question - why would anyone stay? The answers seem to be as diverse as the people - poverty, responsibility, family, posessions, jobs, lack of jobs, pets, hurricane fatigue (four previous evacuations in the past two years), a faith in god or a lack of faith in government all seem to be turning up as well. And yeah, a few lunkheads and damned fools that would just sit still regardless.

But the thing it is, they were right, at least as far as the hurricane itself. I'm speaking heresy here, but most of the city weathered the hurricane itself OK. Day after Katrina hit, the media was leading with a "dodged the bullet" angle as the storm jinked at the last moment and slammed into parts of the country with less-well-known scenic attractions. And indeed, had the levee not given way, the story of the next day would have highlighted the brave souls toughing it out in the dome, but otherwise be a pretty standard story.

But the levee did give way, and all hell broke loose.

China Mieville (a review of Perdido Street Station is here), of all people, has been picking all this up on his journal, tracking how New Orleans' disaster planning was outsourced to an operation called IEM last year. News that they were awarded the contract (by FEMA), mysteriously disappeared from the company's website, then reappeared later, after its absence was noted. China's blog also covers the arrival of private security forces in town, another cyberpunky twist. Check him out, but be warned - I'm a liberal, he's a socialist, and he is a lot less forgiving.

Speaking of FEMA, the media is finally looking at its director's resume, a tale which has a Pacific Northwest origin. A local political blog, Horse's Ass (which, ahem, beat out this noble site for "best local blog" (not that I'm bitter)), had one of its regulars detail said director's last gig as a commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association. As an idea of how well he did, well, there is no International Arabian Horse Association anymore. The weird thing is that this write-up (one of tens of thousands on the net every day) got picked up and carried and spread further and, lo and behold the story has hit the mainstream media with some serious questions being asked.

To the Interdictor, Looka and Making Light sites, add Boing Boing a techie site that normally concerns itself with filesharing, copyrights, and computer housing mods. It is carrying reports including this one from the Astrodome.

This stresses something very important here. As the immediate danger subsides and cleanup begins, we have a huge number of refugees scattered across the south. If you haven't checked out the Red Cross and other charities, go do so. Its going to be a long couple months ahead for everyone involved, and the Red Cross seems to have its act together better than the local, state, or federal authorities.

Speaking of the feds, the administration seems to have moved from "no one to blame" through "blame the victims" and have now settled on "blame the local authorities" (trust me, guys, there is more than enough blame to pass around here - you're all just going to have to wait your turn). My concern of the previous post has proved grounded - forces were put into place to help at the request of the local and state governments, but were not given permission to move out. It quickly gets murky as to why. I have this really sick sort of feeling that things were held up because someone didn't attach a cover sheet to the TPS report before sending it out.

OK, I'm all linked out. More later,