Saturday, October 03, 2009

'Katrina shorthand' strikes at Harper's 

This is may be the proper province of Ray Lang's blog On Levee Failures and a Weather Event, but I thought I'd help out in regards to the October issue of Harper's.

In it, there's a massively unhelpful article titled "Disaster Aversion: the quest to control hurricanes". It's really something of a personal essay with a sprinkling of a few scientific morsels on weather modification. There's plenty of mentions of hurricane "Katrina" and "New Orleans" without a single attempt to distinguish between the weather event that devastated much of the Gulf Coast and the catastrophically engineered levees that flooded the Crescent City. The city of New Orleans was cited by the author as one of the reasons she became interested in hurricane modification, yet the false story of New Orleans' destruction at the hands of Hurricane Katrina is an abiding assumption throughout the article.

Worst of all was this passage, where the author speaks to Dr. Daniel Rosenfeld of Hebrew University at a conference. Rosenfeld claims his modification models show that salting the base of a hurricane with a silver iodide aerosol might cool it substantially, slow it down, and diminish its eye. Unfortunately, the models showed that the hurricane wind speeds were not weakened. Nevertheless:

Regarding his own work, [Rosenfeld] took pains to point out that even without decreased wind speed, a smaller eye might still mean a less calamitous storm, because the highest wind speeds would be covering a smaller area. The storm surge-- rising seas caused by the wind and pressure changes of a hurricane-- would be reduced, which certainly would have helped with Hurricane Katrina. "According to our calculations, we could have saved New Orleans. But still," as if to ensure that I wouldn't have to say it, "simulation and reality are far apart.

The author offers no correction to this scientist's wild claim that his models show that seeding Hurricane Katrina and reducing its eyewall could have "saved New Orleans". Again: New Orleans was flooded by a catastrophic engineering failure that had everything to do with weak floodwall designs and nothing to do with the dimensions of Katrina's inner eyewall.

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Cat Toss Fever 

First there was the "Causeway Tosser" and now we may have a Copy Cat Cat Killer(?)-- the "Crescent City Connection Catapulter"?

Forgive me if I don't want to talk about how "awful" this is for hours on end, and speculate on the madness inherent in dumping kittens off a bridge. It just doesn't interest me much. T-P:

Kittens were reportedly thrown Friday afternoon from a vehicle driving on the elevated West Bank Expressway and the Crescent City Connection, just two days after Lake Pontchartrain Causeway authorities said they were looking for someone who had tossed two kittens from a minivan on that bridge.
I'm going to assume that the Causeway Tosser was making a weird protest over the planned destruction of the "iconic toll plaza landmark". The other two were just copy cats.

I really don't feel like talking about these other stories either, but they are similar and one of them hits real close to home.

[Note: some small edits made after initial publishing. First link goes to Library Chronicles, as I originally intended to do but mistakenly didn't. Jeffrey was the first I saw use "copy cat" in relation to the kitty toss story. Also, the reference asterisk at the end of this post was added later, as well.]

1) The publisher of the New Orleans Tribune ran a stop sign and hit [a car that hit] my letter carrier, taking off both his legs. He died in the hospital yesterday:

Roy Rondeno Sr., the veteran U.S. Postal Service deliveryman who was critically wounded last weekend when a vehicle struck him on his postal route, died Friday of complications from his injuries.

Authorities, meanwhile, are reviewing the car collision, which New Orleans police said was caused by Beverly McKenna, a well-known newspaper publisher who failed to yield at a stop sign.

Rondeno, 57, a beloved postman in the Uptown area, was struck by a careening car and then pinned between two vehicles Saturday afternoon near St. Charles Avenue and Valence Street. He lost both legs and was in the hospital making progress toward recovery.
Man... that's depressing. [Update: Gambit has information about tomorrow's benefit.]

2) This didn't happen too far away, either:

An Orleans Parish judge has refused to increase bond for a man charged with vehicular homicide, despite prosecutors' pleas that his family's wealth and ties overseas make him a flight risk.

Abhishek Bhansali, 23, a New Orleans native and son of a prominent cardiologist, quickly bonded out of jail on his own recognizance after police arrested him March 21 for allegedly killing a pedestrian outside an Uptown club while drunkenly operating a 2008 BMW. He has pleaded innocent to the charge.

Michael Keith, 34, a father of three who lived in Metairie and had served in the Marines, was knocked 150 feet into the air while walking in the 3700 block of Tchoupitoulas Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene about 3 a.m.

Bhansali was speeding and had swerved into the wrong lane -- driving against traffic -- when he struck Keith, a police report says. The driver was well over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, registering .128 on a blood-alcohol test, according to police. The legal limit in Louisiana is .08.

Magistrate Gerard Hansen on March 21 gave Bhansali, a New York University business graduate who has worked on promotional campaigns for Absolut vodka, the most lenient of bonds, allowing a promise to return, without financial risk.

3) Father Jerry Kramer resigned. Though I didn't attend his church very often, I'm proud to have known him, before and after the storm, and sure appreciate his incredible efforts to rebuild Broadmoor and New Orleans.

Alright, now I'm depressed. We gotta lighten the mood a bit. After all, it's a Saturday morning.

Frozen Bears sent us a classic cut from the Saints (who are in the pantheon of punk rawk originators). Hadn't ever seen the video before-- it's good. Enjoy:

Speaking of underappreciated punk rock-- we're talking, I dunno, 4th wave before it died again-- I can't believe Crimpshrine's "Butterflies" only has 321 hits-- what a travesty!! This is much too raw and sloppy for everyone... never was for everyone. But this cut and the "Sleep What's That" record (yes record) meant a lot to me when I was a certain age during the late 80's, early '90's. And to me, in terms of honesty it sounded unlike anything else, and in its own way has never been surpassed. Here, Ben Weasel explains Crimpshrine's appeal much better than I can. (Lyrics. Also, the song is 4 minutes long, not six.)


* Title refers to Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever. Speaking of the Nuge, he recently wrote (but did not explain) why Schindler's List was "probably racist". Sometimes Nugent's ignorance is powerful enough to blast the balls off a white rhino from fifty paces.

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Zombie digest 

The American Zombie is going to be on Jeff Crouere's Politics with a Punch show tonight next Friday at 7:30pm (WLAE TV channel 11 or 14).

Zombieland opens in theaters today. Not the biggest lover of zombie films, but I'll see this one. There's a special cameo I know I'll like.

News from the University of Florida:

[HOGTOWN] - The University of Florida's response plans for a zombie apocalypse are no longer available for public consumption.

UF spokesman Steve Orlando said today the university removed a link to a disaster recovery exercise, which detailed how the school could respond to an outbreak of the undead. The link was taken down late Thursday afternoon.

Orlando says officials felt the joke "didn't really belong" on the site, which also included plans for dealing with hurricanes and pandemics.


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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Little Einstein 

I want to thank the T-P for placing Mr. Jones' age right before his "technologist" quote.

The city's beleaguered former technology chief reached an agreement with the Nagin administration Wednesday that allows him to collect several months of back pay and have his termination expunged from his record in exchange for his resignation.
"I wanted my record cleared," [Anthony] Jones, 39, said afterward. "I'm a technologist with 25 years experience."

After taking the helm of the tech office in early 2007, Jones was a nearly constant source of controversy. Critics complained Jones, who lacked a college degree, was unqualified for the post, which carries an annual salary of about $160,000. He also claimed falsely on at least one occasion to have a degree.

An internal audit also accused him of taking an illegal gratuity from Ciber Inc., a city technology vendor, in the form of a trip to Colorado.

He also was one of several people with a hand in overseeing the city's troubled crime-camera program, and he recently testified before a federal grand jury investigating the camera contracts.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New activity at Fix the Pumps 

Matt has two new important posts up at Fix the Pumps.

Update: Guh. Landrieu/Vitter "Pump to the River" amendment rejected.

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Good luck with that 

House Republicans, those stalwarts of decorum, are going after Rep. Alan "bark-stripper" Grayson for offending their delicate sensibilities.


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Vitty-cent's serious expertise with working girls coming under fire 

(Via Americablog)


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a bar complaint with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel against Senator David Vitter (R-LA) for violating Louisiana’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers.
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “Sen. Vitter’s zeal to see ACORN criminally investigated for offering advice in setting up a prostitution ring reminded me he has yet to be held accountable for his own role in a prostitution ring. While ACORN’s conduct is indefensible, so is Sen. Vitter’s and what is good for the goose is good for the gander.”


We Saw That has more on acorns here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Huzzah! Humid Beings launches 

One of my daily stops has finally arrived! Very nice! Congratulations to Blake and company. (I like the initial video on the WWII museum.)

So go explore, and contribute to the site. [There's some worthwhile stuff there so] Make the comments section something more elevated and worthwhile than a toxic dump of immaturity and racism.

This is genius.


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Quotes of the weak 

"The NFL blackout-- in which teams aren’t allowed to broadcast home games on television if the game isn’t sold out by a certain time a few days before the game-- is in effect, today, in Detroit. Like the rest of the country, Detroit is in desperate economic times, but it’s hit far worse than the rest of the country. We’re talking post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans conditions. People can’t afford tickets, no matter how cheap. And that’s not to mention $20-$40 for parking."

-- Debbie Schlussel

"I was doing a good deed. Turns out, it's illegal. I know in my heart I'm guilty of helping people."

-- Former St. John the Baptist Parish President Bill Hubbard, lying to the public about why he solicited $20k in bribes from three parish contractors and then used the funds to purchase his mistress a new Toyota Camry. "Turns out", the feds forced Hubbard to come clean and admit his intimate role in his unauthorized "cash for courtesans" program.


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Monday, September 28, 2009

"I want to say one word to you. Just one word." 

"Yes, sir."
"Are you listening?"
"Yes, I am."


That article, via the mind-altering Cryptogon, has stayed with me. It's gross and unsettling to think about. So I thought I'd pass it along.


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