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Katrina, from Kobe

   A quick note from Kobe, Japan: Ten years ago the city was destroyed. It is immaculate today. It is bustling, clean, a charming city between mountains and sea, with not a brick out of place, no sign of 6,000 dead, of fires, freeways tipped over, desperate survivors without power or water or sanitation. I throw that out as a feeble gesture of hope in a time of calamity. Cities can rebuild. People can recover -- at least, those who get out with their lives. The other day I went to the Memorial Hall for the Great Kanto Earthquake. It happened 82 years ago today. The quake and ensuing fires took 140,000 lives, about 40,000 of them in this one spot, where they had taken refuge, only to be consumed by a firestorm. I met an old man who lost 9 family members, and who goes every year on or near the anniversary to pay respects to the dead. He said in the firestorm his great grandmother was sucked up into the sky and disappeared. A painting in the hall shows bodies rising into a storm of flames. And yet Tokyo rebuilt. On March 10, 1945, the firestorm returned, brought by American bombers. Tens of thousands of people died in a single night (I dont know the exact number but Ive heard 110,000, more than in Hiroshima), the city completely immolated. The city today is spectacular and prosperous. So it can be done, will be done. There is no attempt here to wave away the news or put any gloss on it. Only to say that someday New Orleans will be New Orleans again. It was and is and will still be one of the great cities of North America, a treasure even before there was such a thing as the United States.

    [I apologize for not being around in this space; I have been entirely offline and out of the loop in a fishing town up the coast. The news from New Orleans and Iraq is so grim and heartbreaking it is hard to read the stories. When someone at breakfast in the little hotel mentioned that thousands had died in New Orleans and many hundreds in a panicked stampede in Iraq, I thought that perhaps there had been some miscommunication, something lost in translation. Would that it were so.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 1, 2005; 3:55 AM ET
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Next: The Worst Gets Worse


Thanks for the observation about rebuilding. My relatives had to take refuge from Metairie and other nearby towns, and face many difficulties in getting back home. Lots of help will be needed, and a lot has been lost.

Posted by: Ruth | September 1, 2005 6:51 AM | Report abuse

A faint hope for the rebuilding of New Orleans. The reality is that New Orleans, a city below sea level that just happens to exist by the sea, should not be rebuilt. The most basic reason to not rebuild New Orleans is contained in the recognition that the sea continues to rise as New Orleans continues to sink. Only a fool would rebuild a city of 500,000 in such a dangerous place.

Surrender New Orleans to the sea. The sea has won this war.

Posted by: David Mathews | September 1, 2005 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Below is a small portion of a Sidney Blumenthal piece now running on Salon. While Blumenthal's piece seems to be more of an "I told you so" column, what I focused on was the fact that we have lost our own governing focus on our biggest challenges. Surely, no one could possibly say that the levees failed soley because funding was not provided to provide improvements, but is a frightening possibility that much of the loss would not have happened if WE hadn't chosen to re-appropriate our scarce financial resources the way that we did.

I believe that this week, the congress was about to launch a large and broad ranging budget cut-fest that would again hit the cities, the Vets, the poor and the elderly. Gutting federal and state programs to "save money" will hurt the needy. Now that we see these scenes where neighbor is helping neighbor in heroic efforts to save lives and comfort those who have pretty much lost everything, let's also take some steps to stop precipitating the problem.

In the past 3 to 5 years, we have systematically cut resources to the poor and middle class and pushed more people (millions) below a financial measure called the poverty line. This has happened with little or no notice or alarm.

On the other hand, if you collect the devestation in one place--where it becomes almost uncomprensible and very difficult to watch on news reports, one sees the pain.

I just hope that we all ask a bit more of our congressmen to make sure that they truly weigh the competing needs of our country before they act. I don't know about you guys, but if I had voted to cut funding on maintaining and improving the levee system, I would be having trouble sleeping now.

Blumenthal wrote===>

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 7:59 AM | Report abuse

David M.,

Reasonable people would agree with you!

This very well may be the correct time to make that call. NO may become our Atlantis.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 8:04 AM | Report abuse

The unbearably sad animated film "Grave of the Fireflies" was set in Kobe, during the war when the city was firebombed. The DVD comes with pictures of some of the places in the movie, explaining that some that survived the war were destroyed in the earthquake.

Posted by: Dave | September 1, 2005 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Well, this is certainly a situation of getting what you pay for! It's no different in public services than in the marketplace. I thought Ari Kelman's article in Slate explained New Orleans' situation/site well: Once we mitigate this disaster, I hope we won't lose the focus to change the way the federal government prioritizes things.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 8:26 AM | Report abuse

New Orleans is one of our major ports. We can't just surrender it to the sea. Good thing that's not your call.

Posted by: pa | September 1, 2005 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Abandon a city that is hundreds of years old because it has flooded. Well now I've heard it all. Its a good thing "reasonable people" aren't in a position of responsibility.

Posted by: LB | September 1, 2005 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I was disappoined to see that with the tragedies on the Gulf Coast and in Iraq, some people are more distressed about topping off their Belchfire Dreadnaught SUVs at $3.60 a gallon. I spoke to a lady who runs a local convenience store/gas station this AM, who told me she had honest-to-goodness '70s vintage gas lines last night as people sucked up the last of the "cheap" gas. She especially appreciated having to call the police to provide some security after a couple of fistfights.

It is tough to get through to the American Red Cross right now to contribute to the relief, but if you're "feeling it", don't give up. I've heard that there are a bunch of blogs out there today that are accepting contributions for the ARC, I'd say don't be Achenshy, but I don't have good advice about how to avoid scams vs. legitimate folks, other than to say that stick to names you know.



Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Hey Pa,

Unfortunately for you, maybe, it very well may be my call, just as much as it is yours. But, if you read carefully, I really feel that NO was done a huge disservice in not providing the support that it needed over the past several years.

Now that the levees have been topped and gouged, we have to seriously see what the cost is to get everything back the way it was ... Or repair parts of it or none of the city.

Surely, people will be back in New Orleans, but, after this disaster, the country and the state will have to weigh the cost.

Port cities have been moved and reshaped since the beginning of commerce. Egypt's first major port is sitting under the Mediterranean Sea.

Pa, you may very well be right and I would be very very shocked if we in America don't just re-build it even better than it was, but some major location changes may be suggested to lower the future risks to life and property.

Again, as you can read, I wouldn't want to see a re-build unless we can and will commit to maintain the safety.

I guess what Dave was suggesting was that, say, if the port of Baltimore was destroyed by a huge fire and it had to be replaced, we probably wouldn't decide to build the port in the middle of the shrinking wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay--rather on some portion of dry land.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 9:09 AM | Report abuse

For he who claimed that we need to rebuild New Orleans for its port: No, not really, we have many underused ports in the US that could accomplish what we need, including some nearby in Texas and Florida. We may want to rebuild for arts, culture,educational institutions, or sheer national pride, but I'm not sure that economic arguments will win the day. I hope that the US has an honest debate about whether New Orleans is really a going concern. If the answer is yes, it will be interesting to see whether the answer is qualified in any way.

Posted by: notabubba | September 1, 2005 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I think the thing that everyone can agree on is that this disaster was entirely predictable and that the threat was largely ignored. We need at this point to assess what of the remaining city is salvageable and what the cost would be, what can be done to prevent reoccurrence and what the cost would be, and what the alternatives are and what the cost would be. That, and some accountability for past actions. It's easy to say what we would do, but how to pay for it is another question. Roll back tax cuts? Pull out of Iraq (it costs a billion dollars a week)? National VAT like they have in much of Europe? Or just run up the deficit?

On a lighter note, I noticed in Ann Gerhart's Superdome piece this morning she referred to the Astrodome as "a spiffier football stadium" so I guess that Joel has begun to infiltrate the consciousness of the entire WP. What a spiffy idea!

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 1, 2005 9:35 AM | Report abuse

New Orleans won't ever be "the same" again, but Joel is very right, its possible to rebuild, to reconstruct, and I believe the 500,000 people that called NOLA home will agree that its a much better option than "surrendering it into the sea"
Reasonable to rebuild elsewhere, somewhere safer, so this doesn't happen again? I suppose, but I just don't see that happening. I think any "reasonable" NOLA resident will agree that it just wouldn't be right.
It'll take time, but it'll be New Orleans again.

Posted by: HeatherK | September 1, 2005 9:37 AM | Report abuse

They are now blaming the poor (see below) who could not leave or those stranded in hotels for this lack of a plan. It is tragic that we now blame the victim as if this was rape trial. Looters should be shot. People dying at hospitals or in their homes should be helped. Neither is being accomplished. Sorry I am angry about this. It is not fair or right to say people who are on dialysis are at fault and deserve to die.

The President and Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, were questioned aggressively on morning television about the time lag between the storm and the beginning of serious federal relief efforts. There were "real physical constraints," Chertoff said, ".impassable roads. . . . It's not a question of not having enough assistance.

"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's Today program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. that was a mistake on their part."

Posted by: marko | September 1, 2005 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The Katrina Aftermath will be a fabulous opportunity for officials within the Bush Administration to show that they are leaders and not just perfidious buckpassers. Mr. Chertoff certainly isn't off to a good start.

Posted by: CowTown | September 1, 2005 9:44 AM | Report abuse

If we shutter up New Orleans, then some other city must don the mantle of Partytown USA. Not even in New Yawk City can you walk around drunk in public and gals will lift their shirts for colored beads! Pittsburgh's on a river, would be a giant boost for their tourism!

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Here's a thought - why don't we recreate New Orleans as a Vegas casino? No floods there.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

is tragic that we now blame the victim as if this was rape trial.
super good point, marko.

Posted by: HeatherK | September 1, 2005 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Here's a thought - why don't we recreate New Orleans as a Vegas casino? No floods there.
Posted by: Videlice

Assuming there isn't a problem over in Venice... next door.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in Louisiana. Anyone who thinks the City of New Orleans (as opposed to its prosperous suburbs) will spring back like Kobe, Japan, is, I believe, mistaken. A true success story would require a strong corporate employer base coupled with progressive local and state leadership dedicated to New Orleans and its inner city. None of that exists.

How would you like to be a corporate executive trying to pitch a big expenditure of money for New Orleans:

"Sure, there is the corruption, the poverty, the loss of population, the awful public schools, the anti-tax attitude, but think about the good points. The civic leaders are a closed society, the City lies in a bowl below sea level, the demographics are poor, black and under-educated, most of the state above I-10 hates New Orleans, and the culture is as strongly anti-work as in any place in the world."

Uh, how about Birmingham, Austin, Slidell, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Houston, Gulfport, any number of places reasonably close by that have a better outlook for the future. Where would you bet your shareholder's money?

Posted by: Lane Wharton | September 1, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

to those who do not believe that New Orleans is important as a port; it is the gateway to the Mississippi, which connects Houston and other Gulf Coast ports with the interior industrial sites of the Midwest. There is no form of bulk transportation that is nearly as efficient as barge. One ton of cargo can be transported by barge 514 miles on one gallon of diesel, while only 202 miles by rail on the same amount of fuel. Think about that for a second. Rail transport requires more than twice the amount of fuel as a barge. The pertro-chemical industry couldn't even refine fuel fast enough to power the trains carrying their product if they had to depend entirely on rail. The U.S. economy depends on the Mississippi, and therefore depends on New Orleans.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

SCC: To, not "to".

Petro, not "pertro".

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

jw, you're right on the money.


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your hopeful message, Joel.

I was moved by Ann Gerhart's article in the Post this morning about the "four levels of hell inside the refugee city of the Superdome." Those of us fortunate enough to have avoided the hurricane's effects can barely get our minds around the horror of living under such conditions: "'With no hand-washing, and all the excrement,' said Sgt. Debra Williams, who was staffing the infirmary in the adjacent sports arena, 'you have about four days until dysentery sets in. And it's been four days today.'"

And yet even here there is a small glimmer of hope:

"Glenn Martes, 13, had no plan, either, but he has a quick eye. As his family waded toward the Superdome from their destroyed home two days ago, he grabbed a football floating by, 'something to calm your nerves,' he said.

"Inside on Wednesday, he was going long to try to catch a pass from Perrance Williams, 17, whose chest muscles gleamed under the generator lights on the field.

"Williams looked good down there, as if a scout might be watching from the stands. 'I play in the projects,' he said. He never thought he'd be playing in the Superdome, but there he was."

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 10:05 AM | Report abuse

You're right, jw. I just wish somebody would come up with a way to end our dependence on oil quickly! Of course, right now the issue here in the South is distribution, since the pipelines have been down since Monday.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I second jw's post. And if the port isn't enough reason, the fact that New Orleans is home of the hurricane beverage should be enough to want to keep it around. Mmmmm, tastes like candy.

Posted by: pa | September 1, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Joel (and kurosawaguy) make the point that New Orleans and Iraq (and Kobe) were entirely predictable disasters. Maybe the lesson to be learned from them is that even if we can preditct disasters, they are inevitable. Kind of like sitting in the shotgun seat of a car wreck.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."
What an incredibly shocking, but not surprising response from the Bush administration. Now the president will present a speech prepared for him (he can use the same one he gives each time our soldiers die in Iraq), look solemn and assert that he too mourns right along with those families whose lives have been destroyed.

Posted by: Nani | September 1, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, when did you hear that there may be a problem with the distribution? We just heard about it yesterday.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Re. "blaming the victim":
It almost seems to be human nature to blame victims when disaster strikes. Perhaps this is how we rationalize something that makes no sense, how we tell ourselves that it won't happen to us, because we are somehow different from the people who found themselves in this situation. Or maybe blaming the victim enables us to cope with the guilt we feel for being spared while others suffer, the guilt we feel for not being able to do anything to help them.

I try to deal with these feelings of guilt by reminding myself that even if I headed down to Louisiana right now, I wouldn't be able to make much of a difference -- the only person I'd really be helping would be myself. Back here in D.C., however, there are people whom I *am* in a position to help -- friends, family, coworkers, and members of the local community, including total strangers. I must direct my resources to where they can be best utilized. That is an ongoing challenge, both in times of hardship and in more stable times.


"You can't get sick enough to make one person on this planet well; you can't get poor enough to make one person on this planet rich."

-- Wayne Dyer

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

But... rebuilding the port of New Orleans is not quite the same as rebuilding a city housing hundreds of thousands below sea level right by the ocean.

Lest we not forget, this storm took a right turn before reaching the coast. If it had been a 50-75 to the west then New Orleans might have been to the right of the eye. Those levees could have failed at the height of the storm.

A friend of mine who weathered Camille in Pascagoula also said this one couldn't have been as bad- there are still leaves on the trees in most places. Camille stripped them bare.

And for all the talk of global warming being the cause, hurricanes typically follow multi-decade cycles. If the trend continues there will be a good 5-10 years of bad storms to come in that area.

"The moonlight on the bayou/A creole tune that's in the air"....

Posted by: Les | September 1, 2005 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Chertoff might be excused based on some dreadful wordsmith working on his staff.

The problem that seems to be clear is that it is nearly impossible to clear a city the size of New Orleans without help from the authorities in advance of the crisis.

NO is roughly the size of DC proper. There are tens of thousands of people in DC that just can pop into their BMWs and drive to Hagerstown and find a Comfort Inn.

I easily may be misled, but I don't think that we saw much more than a Monty Python-esque "Run away, Run away."

High on the lack of preparation for evacuation was the handling of the patients in the hospitals.

Also, added to the list of possible losses would be the city's universities. I also second pa's point on the Hurricane (in beverage form).

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael, I work for a fire department. We started dealing with fuel shortages on Tuesday.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Reports from msnbc last nite were saying that those that were most affected were the poor who live off of government subsidies - the disaster happened merely days before their bi-monthly check - so people living from check to check don't have the savings, et al... they were begging merchants to loan them $20 so they could get out of the city...
what's also disturbing is the mayhem that is now ensuing at the superdome and with the looters... i guess when you've lost everything, you have nothing left to lose... they were saying it's ironic about the looting (non food/clothing related) b/c with the evacuation, they won't be able to take those things with them (tv's and such)...
jw - they had reports that the coast guard is headlining a lot of the rescue efforts - are you any part of it??

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

For those who think it's impossible for NO to rebuild, it might be interesting to see how the Dutch did it.
In 1953 a storm surge coupled with a high tide flooded the South of Holland, and the North of Belgium. Parts of the UK were also hit.

The Dutch had to rebuild of course, they could not give up any land since half of their country is under water level. So they invested in a massive plan of raising levies, building gates over rivers that can close when there are storm surges.
It is called the Delta plan and here is its website (in English):

(If you click around and get to the part of the flood of 1953, look at the newsreels of that time. It looks very familiar, except that it was very cold in Holland)

Sooner or later the levies will fail, but then they will rebuild everything again.
But one thing is true; it costs a lot of money. It will do so for New Orleans. But I think it is worth it.
Also, a new New Orleans probably will become a dynamic vibrant place because the rebuilding will create jobs and new wealth.
At least I hope so...

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

By the way, if anyone wants to look at a Japanese tabloid, see:

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, that's good that you were ahead of the big national story and didn't get left dry. It is sure to remain an issue for fire and police around the south.

I saw the lines on CNN overnight last night.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 10:46 AM | Report abuse

A positive spin on a New Orleans rebuild is that perhaps this go round they will finally pave the roads.

Posted by: irregardless | September 1, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Re: White House Katrina response


Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Eurotrash: Did the Dutch loot in 1953? For some reason the only looting I hear about is American looting. Maybe it has something to do with our easily available guns?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if looting was done then, but I assume it was done. (But I must admit that I haven't heard of it.)

I do know that in Belgium, Holland, France etc. people looted a lot after the Germans left cities during the end of WW2. I think it happens whenever civilisation breaks down. Everywhere there are sociopaths who use a lack of central gouvenement (due to war, disaster or any other cause) to loot, rape etc.
That's actually something that I wondered about, those armed gangs running around now must be doing more then just stealing. I wonder how many women have been violated the last couple of days.
I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 10:57 AM | Report abuse

They'll rebuild. The reasons are economic. There are simply too many commercial and corporate interests holding title to the land.

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

a famous southerner once said:

man will not merely endure, he will prevail

Posted by: pete | September 1, 2005 11:07 AM | Report abuse

To me it seems that it takes very long for outside help to arrive in the devastated areas. Even with the Iraq war, shouldn't there be an army division that can pack up and go in a day or so?
It has been 4 days now and it seems that the rescue effort still needs to be really cranked up.

One thing we have is a Corps of Civil protection. They are professional civil engineers who are there for rapid intervention after disasters. They only do that, in a way they are similar to the army.
Does the US have something similar?

I am not some anti American European, so please don't take my post in the wrong way.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Many thought-provoking posts today on this blog, especially those from David Matthews, Dolphin Michael, kurosawaguy, Lane Wharton, jw, and Les. (There are the jokesters, too, about which I dare not comment, especially after being slammed two days ago for having no sense of humor.) Marc Fischer's op-ed today in the Washington Post also deserves a read.

I have had many thoughts in the last 24 hours--even wanting to post certain stanzas from Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The City in the Sea." That said, I think it's in the human spirit to want to rebuild and to believe that adversity can be conquered by dogged human determination. However, the critical issue/question that seems to be emerging from the thread of today's posts is whether or not (or should) New Orleans be rebuilt given its unique position lying below sea level.

I believe my viewpoint will be always tend to be historical. There was a Loomis nurse who was caught in the San Francisco quake of 1906 and returned to the East Coast, just as there was a Hartford, Conn. Loomis who traveled to San Francisco post-quake to settle insurance claims. My own cousin, who felt the effects with her young child of the far more recent Loma Prieta quake at her home in Daly City, moved to Salem, Ore., at the first opportunity. My own great-grandparents, whose story is told through census records, were in Chicago when the Great Fire of 1871 broke out, yet my grandfather was born back in Westfield, Mass.

In each of these cases, those respective cities of San Francisco and Chicago were rebuilt, and subsequently became even more densely populated that they were when the disasters occurred. Perhaps emergency response services could control a major conflagration in today's Chicago, but as a Californian, I know that much of the landfill around San Francisco would be subject to major destruction given an earthquake underneath those fragile areas.

San Francisco has always been as critical a port as is New Orleans, yet its hills will always be earthquake-prone. Is Chicago as critical a rail center today as it was in the mid-1800s? They were not only rebuilt rapidly, but over the years mushroomed into our country's mega-cities. If New Orleans is rebuilt to withstand walls of nature's water, will the sense of (false?) security be a magnet for even more residents?

I end my posting today with most indelicate questions: What is the carrying capacity of the planet for humans? Can we continue to marshal natural resources, such as oil and gas--now in more remote locales, for the burgeoning populations? Will technology come to our rescue as natural resources, such as the ocean's fishes, are being rapidly depleted? Can New Orleans be built in such a technological way that it will no longer be broached by the waters of the Gulf and Mississippi? Or will diasters continue to occur so that increasingly larger numbers of individuals are affected?

And why is it that books such as the 1970 "Population, Resources, Environment" by Paul and Anne Ehrlich or their 1990 "The Population Explosion" no longer have resonance? Which will prevail: human intelligence or human hubris?

Posted by: Linda Loomis | September 1, 2005 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Today's Word of the Day comes from CowTown.

Perfidious. The dictionary says that's what you've got when you've got some perfidy goin' on.

Main Entry: per·fi·dy
Pronunciation: 'p&r-f&-dE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -dies
Etymology: Latin perfidia, from perfidus faithless, from per- detrimental to + fides faith -- more at PER-, FAITH
1 : the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal : TREACHERY
2 : an act or an instance of disloyalty

CowTown's usage referred to the president and his administration having an opportunity to show that they're not just "perfidious buckpassers." I assure you, CT, that they are gathering focus groups, holding political strategy sessions, doing an assortment of polls, weighing the need to address the disaster versus the drumbeat message of terror, and so on. But I'm sure, in the end, that they will grasp ahold of Katrina's aftermath in order to make the president look more presidential again.

But they better watch the details. The soundbite I kept hearing on the radio this morning had the president saying -- redundantly -- that parts of the gulf were "completely destroyed"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to thank bc for using the word Belchfire as the name for a vehicle. There was some cartoonist who used to do that long ago, but I can't remember his name.

My crack research finds that Donald Duck drove a 1934 Belchfire Runabout, but that's not what I was looking for. I'm thinking of a cartoonist from the '60s, I think.

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 11:23 AM | Report abuse

why not sign your name, 11:16:39? We know who you are....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 11:24 AM | Report abuse

As one of those who may have had a dig at you yesterday for your alleged lack of sense of humor (and I actually don't think you lack humor), I would like to apologize. I guess it was the guilt talking; I have indeed been very frivolous over the past few days and was grateful for your reminder that there is life outside the 'boodle. I always enjoy your posts. I hope you will forgive me.


Achenfan and Tom fan

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | September 1, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I believe this disaster will be a watershed event for Mr Bush; without any outside enemy to blame, the actions taken by this administration will to deal with the calamity are going to be under close scrutiny. This administration might well be known to future historians as those who chose to ignore all imending doom until it was right on top of them.

Mother Nature isn't a terrorist. It'll be interesting to see how the spin doctors down in dc handle this.

My heart goes out to all the victims, and to those wondering today whether their friends and loved ones have made it out of the floodwaters okay.

Posted by: LP | September 1, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Bayou self: Does this link help

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"Within [our] culture as a whole, there is in fact no significant thrust toward global population control. The point to see is that there never *will* be such a thrust so long as [we're] enacting a story that says the gods made the world for man. For as long as [we] enact that story, Mother Culture will demand increased food production today -- and promise population control tomorrow."

-- From "Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn

[Another "indelicate" thought to be pondered along with Linda's questions]

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer: Isn't China trying a 1 baby per family plan? I wonder how it's working.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Another Swiftian thought is that if you're really concerned about population control, you should applaud Katrina for killing lots of people. Perhaps Mama Earth is doing something about her problem! I have no hope for human intelligence (Kerry) winning over human hubris (Bush).

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

You know, I can't help but remember the advice from Homeland Security or some other government entity to go out and get our plastic and duct tape to protect ourselves.

I think that by reviewing the hurricane disaster in three ways: before, during and in the aftermath, and then extrapolate to a non-natural (debatable, perhaps) disaster as another terrorist strike, it's pretty clear that we really haven't learned much over the last four years since 9/11.

I don't feel very confident that come the next disaster -- natural or not -- we won't still be wringing our hands and saying we have to DO something so that so many people won't have to suffer, and then we, well, don't. . . .

This administration is going to have to put its (our) money where its mouth is. Platitudes aren't going to help. The refugee camp that is now at the Astrodome is still a refugee camp. And, it's an American refugee camp. I fully expect Bush (whom I've always called "little boy") still to want to make his tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | September 1, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Joel for your optimism. It is getting very hard to come by down here as things continue to deteriorate and we need the lamp bearers to periodically remind us idealistically why to rebuild. New Orleans is necessary and so it will be rebuilt and probably be pretty sparkly clean. But what made New Orleans New Orleans was the age of the city, that particular odor, the dirt from the 1700s packed into Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon, and the people. Please don't write off New Orleans because we need to keep that hope alive. For some, there simply is no where else to be, to call home. For me, I would still like to own a bar there someday...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

A well crafted apology at 11:28:28. That may tend to be apt when you take up half the blog space in a day. But there's one (two?) people it seems wise not to peeve.

You do great work: thoughtful, literate, sometimes funny, for the most part evenhanded, but sorta focused on an in-group that crowds out others. And be careful that your real ($$) employer doesn't know how much time you spend here!

Please keep up the good work. Your fan.

Posted by: Grapple | September 1, 2005 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Grapple: I wouldn't worry too much about the employers. The people who post here frequently here have easy access to a computer. Sitting in front of a computer all day is excruciatingly dull for an intelligent person. It's in the employer's self-interest for that worker to keep themself amused, as long as the work gets done.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Grapple. Yeah, I do feel guilty about the "real ($$) employer" thing. So far I'm dealing with that issue by burning the midnight and weekend oil. Not sure how much longer I can keep all the balls in the air, though. But where there's a will there's a way. And sometimes it's better to follow our hearts than to follow the dollars.

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | September 1, 2005 11:58 AM | Report abuse

mo: The relief efforts aren't part of my division's work. Quite a few friends and classmates are stationed in New Orleans or the surrounding area. I haven't heard anything from them yet so I hope they are safe and doing good deeds.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Achen- and Tom fan: Why feel guilty? Think of all your co-workers who take smoke breaks. Does your employer harass them? And if you're taking a smoke break, why not also Achenblog?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Videlicet, but I think anyone who took as many smoke breaks as I take Achenbreaks would have developed a very bad case of emphysema by now. It's that thin-edge-of-the-wedge thing, and I am definitely operating at the thicker part of that wedge. Thankfully I have a few credits up my sleeve and am still managing to keep my employer happy -- for now.

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | September 1, 2005 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Linda, when I was in grad school (a generation ago), I came across a book on the rise and fall of civilizations. It posited that there are two kinds of people, homo socialis and homo habilis. Homo socialis are the regular folks, homo habilis are the ones who make the political/social/technological advances that make civilizations rise. The major premise was that civilizations fall when the proportion of homo habilis in the population falls and the proportion of homo socialis gets too high. When something catastrophic causes the number of homo socialis to fall (famine, pestilence, war), then new civilizations rise.I wonder if we have enough homo habilis to pull us through. If so, it will be the first time in recorded history.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Grapple: You're right, we tend to get chummy and a bit inclusive here. But, as a result we have greater respect for each other's opinion than you'll find in most other blogs that include discussions of politics, religion, philosophy, or public health crises. But it's not our blog; all contributions are welcome. No one who behaves respectfully will be flamed. That's a rarity in today's increasingly vituperative blogesphere.

Posted by: CowTown | September 1, 2005 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Here are my thoughts for what it's worth. I am now overstressed and having trouble sleeping since this hurricane hit NO, MI, and AL. I am feeling the same psychological fatigue and trauma as I felt after 9-11 and the tsunami. I am experiencing a range of emotions of sadness to anger. In addition, I do not know anyone directly effected with this horrific disaster. I am in media overload. My brain screams TURN THE TV OFF but I cannot. I am so glad I am at work so I do not watch TV.

As I watch news coverage, I am seeing a pattern emerge. I am perplexed as to why lower income, infirm, children, and even animals were not evacuated when they could be safely evacuated last week? As it stands now, more people perished or are at risk of dying in the current evacuation. Is this a case of not making a decision that if you evacuate 500,000 + people and the hurricane hits in another location my political career is ruined or just ignorance?

There are so many things wrong with whole situation and I just see bad decisions being made. But of course I am not there. It is so easy to sit in judgment of others when you yourself are not looking in the face of adversity.

I only hope dubya steps up to the plate here and focuses his attention on HIS country.

Posted by: FWIW | September 1, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Grapple: consider yourself included!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A little late, but regarding the comments about these disasters being predictable, I completely agree. Especially in the case of New Orleans. Building a city in a bowl between the ocean and a lake was probably some of the worst city planning this nation has seen.

And from an engineering standpoint, those levees should not have broken. That has been a hot topic around my office this week, as well as among my family as we have an abnormal amount of engineering employees in my family for some reason. A tidal surge would not normally break a well-built levee like this one did. The broken levees are the fault of the engineers that didn't build them correctly.

I think if the city of New Orleans is to be rebuilt in the same spot, some better planning and more money needs to be put into structures that would protect the city, otherwise this disaster is likely to happen again.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

FWIW - "HIS" country??? Don't you mean OUR country? Don't count on it. Sorry, just feeling angry and sad having learned earlier in this blog that Mr. Bush denied a proposal to study how New ORleans could be protected from a catastropic hurricane. Wasn't he also warned about terrorist activity/training in south florida before 9/11, but did nothing about it. Or am I misinformed?

Posted by: ept | September 1, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Re. the rise and fall of civilizations:

As you may have noticed, over the past few days I've posted several quotes from a book called "Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn. (It just happens to be one of the books I've been reading of late.)

Quinn divides the earth's humans into "Takers" (those who live in "civilized" societies) and "Leavers" (those who continue to live in tribes). He argues that although we Takers tend to assume that civilization as we know it is the best and only way for humans to live, this Taker lifestyle is at odds with the laws of nature and is not sustainable. The Leaver lifestyle, on the other hand, is in compliance with nature's laws. The Leavers leave certain things to the gods that the Takers have taken into their own hands. According to Quinn, an underlying premise of the Taker lifestyle is that we must conquer the earth. And the only way to conquer something is to ultimately destroy it.

It's a very sobering book, and one that is likely to make a lot of folks angry -- it's not news we want to hear.

And here is a quote from another of Quinn's books, "The Story of B":

"The world will not be saved by old minds with new programs. If the world is saved, it will be saved by new minds -- with no programs."

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

When I said "HIS" country, I was trying to make a point that dubya should focus his attention on Americans in need and not other countries. After all, at this point in time, we (US citizens)should take priority above anyone else. I really do not care about other countries problems.

I will care about them when US citizens are assisted first!

Posted by: FWIW | September 1, 2005 12:43 PM | Report abuse

dreamer - i have to agree with that quote... that being said, i'm a technophile - i work in the field and i don't know how we lived without them... but i've always thought that the more technologically advanced we become, the further from nature we get and the more destructive and unconcerned about the earth we get... we forget that we are only human, we are not gods... we are born, not exactly to die, but that is the end result. the katrina disaster is overwhelming, but it nature taking back what we took from it... the natural evolution of things... doesn't make it any less sad but...

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Sara said, "And from an engineering standpoint, those levees should not have broken. That has been a hot topic around my office this week, as well as among my family as we have an abnormal amount of engineering employees in my family for some reason. A tidal surge would not normally break a well-built levee like this one did. The broken levees are the fault of the engineers that didn't build them correctly."

Not to become a doomsayer, but what if those levees didn't break by accident? Bin Ladin is a civil engineer, after all, and maybe some enterprising individual with knowledge of where the stress points on the levee were took advantage of the situation. I know of nothing that supports this, but it's not that improbable, when you think about it.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 1:04 PM | Report abuse

jw - who woulda thunk you were a conspiracy theorist? i kid! i kid! but seriously sweets, i think that's reaching a bit?

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 1:08 PM | Report abuse

scc entry - it = it's

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 1:09 PM | Report abuse

JW, I don't think Bin Laden would have thought of attacking NO.
Things happen. A giant storm hits a city and levees break. It's horrible, but it happens without any reason.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 1:10 PM | Report abuse

jw, that's a scary, scary thought. I hope that it was just lack of adequate funding to keep the levees properly maintained that caused the problem.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone catch the news footage of 2 NO police officers looting a Wal-Mart along with the other looters? What was really weird is that these 2 police officers were actually strolling, not running, strolling through Wal-Mart filling up their cart. I thought to myself, who is going to donate money to a city and individuals when authority figures have become criminals? That was definately bad PR.

Posted by: FWIW | September 1, 2005 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Sara, I thought they knew the levees had limitations and wanted money to improve them. But the funding got cut.

Thanks for the Belchfire link, Euro, but that isn't it. The cartoonist I'm thinking of worked mostly in black and white, I think, with simple drawings. Whenever a car or auto dealer was involved, there would be a poster or ad in the background for the new Belchfire 5000 or something.

I've now learned that, apparently, any number of people used the word Belchfire when referring to cars, not just my semi-forgotten cartoonist.

As for not signing my name at 11:16:39, it was a slipup. No slight-of-hand was intended.

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Re: Poor city planning

Ok, here my 2 (or several) cents worth:
1. New Orleans was built BEFORE they had much city planning and I think we can wholeheartidly place the blame on the French for putting a city there.
2. You never KNOW where a hurricane is going and we didn't get the news until late, late Saturday as to the danger to New Orleans.
3. The poorest people didn't evacuate because all they had was in the city, they couldn't afford several days in a hotel and its not like they'll bus people out early because once the hurricanes pass, New Orleans needs those buses (in times past). Basically, they don't bus for the same reason they didn't make the levees to withstand anything above a level 3 hurricane, proportion of gain to loss.
4. Once again in our society, the least fortunate, who we all from the comfort of our homes decide need the most help, have lost the most. And are getting blamed for it.
5. For those ripping into the poor city planning and the lack of help for the poor: outside of monumental disasters like this, have you ever thought about the least fortunate or even donated to those groups that do?

Posted by: grrr | September 1, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I dunno, the average person would have thought using airliners as giant missles was a little far-fetched pre-9/11.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 1:23 PM | Report abuse

jw, i do believe you've got something to ponder on there.

btw, i just got a memo (I work for a rather large retailer) that there are many supplies being sent to Baton Rouge as we type... has anyone heard anything about evacuating people to Baton Rouge?

Posted by: HeatherK | September 1, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse


On the Police "looting"... your concern may be misplaced in that many of them are working 24 x 7 and have no radios no way of going home thus no change of clothes or food or water (in most cases) ... they are working in loose groups and trying their best. They have very little communication and it has been reported that they are not getting supplies sent in. The cops have been upfront and admitted to have also syphened off gas from abandoned cars, as well.

Since the goods and their owner merchants are not there to serve the community and the goods are "lost," it may make SOME SENSE for those in need to use them.

That doesn't explain (other than they become currency) for someone to grab electronic equipment.

I would hope that we all try to understand what the people in New Orleans are going through.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse

FWIW and grrr: In responding to disasters, you gotta have the leadership in place locally to have decent instant response to disasters. Such events are always chaotic in the beginning, but public safety agencies should be trained and ready to respond (think Oklahoma City). I'm afraid New Orleans has never had the level of competence needed in local government. It's a shame, but they are hardly alone.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse

My theory's completely unfounded, of course. Al Quieda usually claims responsability within a day or two.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse


Bin Ladin can control an airplane flying into a building or a small boat crashing into a larger ship. He can't control a hurricane. I think the better explanation of the failure of the levees is human neglect rather than sabotage.

Posted by: pj | September 1, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

sorry jw - you DO have a point - the scope of the world changed post 9/11- anything is possible, but that woulda had to have taken some EXTRODINARY planning...

and yes, i've heard they are evacuationg to baton rouge as well...

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin M,

I saw the footage. The two policewomen were intently browsing the athtletic shoe counter. Maybe their feet were wet. They also reacted rather sheepishly to the newsman's queries, but that alone doesn't indict. The pair paid absolutely no attention to the wild looting going on around them, however.

Posted by: grapple | September 1, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you, pj.

(But I still love ya, jw -- hey, that rhymes!)

[Achenfan looks proudly in mirror and brushes lint from jackass hat]

Posted by: Achenfan | September 1, 2005 1:42 PM | Report abuse

grrr on supporting the poor other than in times of disaster... I agree, that is important and yes is the answer. I have given and time to homeless shelters and women's shelters for decades.

There is very little worse than being without a home or with no place to turn. I assume that your question was well meant and support it in that spirit and like you remind others to remember this moment several winters from now.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | September 1, 2005 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Isn't Osama obsessed with damaging America's prestige in international commerce? That's why he kept attacking the World Trade Center. The Katrina disaster lacks an international component.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 1:44 PM | Report abuse

....well, jw, maybe not so far fetched.....the 9/11 terrorists trained for their dastardly deeds on our homeland and used our airliners.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 1:47 PM | Report abuse

People keep asking why didn't we evacuate folks earlier... You can't predict these storms with any kind of accuracy further out than a day or so. Could you imagine evacuating the entire gulf coast every time there is a possible hurricane (don't we run through the entire alphabet each hurricane season)?

They slow down, they speed up, they turn right... You put those injured in hospitals and those infirm at risk by moving them 'just in case'...

Also, I think we also need to be more understanding of the people who are responding. It hasn't been 4 days. 4 days ago a Category 4 turned right and we all breathed a sigh of relief (uhm... except Mississippi) 3 days ago torrential rains began a flooding process that showed us the worst was not behind us. 2 days ago the area began to stabilize enough for responders to go in, and guess what they were already there.

It is always easy to be the Monday morning quarterback...

Posted by: Long Time Lurker | September 1, 2005 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching some analyst on CNN explaining why gas prices are going to rise. In short it's because amost US refining capacity is located in the area that's devastated.
Is that true? If so, is it the only industry that is so geographically centralised or are there more regions that are specialized in specific stuff? Is there a reason why no refining capacity exist on the east or west coast?

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael: I do not think the 2 officers were re-stocking their police supplies. But I do understand the looting of food, water, and medicines in order to keep yourself and your family alive. After all, I am sure mechants insurance companies will cover the cost of lost goods.

It was the officers attitude and demeanor that was unsettling.

I have great sympathy for these people, not sure if I would act much differently in their situation.

Posted by: FWIW | September 1, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self, I don't know if they knew the levees had limitations, you're probably right. But the location of the city practically begs for no shortcuts on levees, so they should have been built properly in the first place. It wouldn't have taken much more work to build the levees up to snuff the first time around.

And jw, interesting theory. Though I don't know if one enterprising individual could have broken the levee in two places by him/herself without explosives, which would have been obvious. Unless that enterprising individual was part of the building of the levees in the first place and built weak spots in just in case someday something like this could happen. But I don't think terrorists like to work on a "what if" or a "whenever nature decides, our plot will be fulfilled" mentality.

Still, interesting. I wouldn't have thought of that possibility. It would make a great plot for a book or a movie, though. You should work on that.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Along with many others, I have been reading the "Kit and Kaboodle," but not writing. Include new people, please.

If anyone has read the book Fahrenheit 451 (probably for school way back when) it comparest the human race to a pheonix--humans make the same mistakes over and over. We keep fighting among ourselves and eventually killing millions over petty differences that escalated, but we always rebuild. An empire that falls due to human shortsightedness can be compared to a city that falls due to nature. Both will rebuild, but they won't be the same. Did Rome ever come back? No, but the people that called themselves Romans remained, if with a new name. New Orleans will eventually return, but some of the spirit of the city will be lost.

Sara, I agree about the engineering of the levees. They shouldn't have broken, but there is only so much that can be done to protect a city from something that might not (when the levees were built) happen. The city was probably looking for something that would be relatively cheap to build and still be effective. Unfortunately, I don't think that anyone really entertained the possibility that a hurricane of this force would hit. They should have, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that sounds like the plot of a James Bond movie. I wonder who they will get to play him now that they got rid of Brosnan (sp?).

Posted by: pj | September 1, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The entire Mississippi/Midwest corridor is where practially all refining of fuel takes place. Houston and Chicago are very big producers, as are a number of other cities along the pipeline. But they all depend on barges to transport their product. and those barges have to pass through New Orleans. Refining is a very complicated process, and if you cut the supply of one component, then the whole system can shut down, costing a refinery millions of dollars a day. I'm not sure at what point the system is breaking down, but it seems inevitable that it's going to happen when so much is dependent on the river.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I set up a blog for people to report
they have survived -- A Katrina survivor's list. There, people may post
their names and the town they are from, and where they have been displaced
to. Other than that, they could post as much or as little contact info they
want to provide.

Go to or click on "Untethered" above.

Posted by: Untethered | September 1, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Eurotrash, about 30 percent of oil for US consumption comes from South America through the terminals in Louisiana. Many of the refineries are along the Gulf coast in Texas and Louisiana. That's why the price of gas is increasing. Yesterday, I saw a report that 10 percent of the refineries with 25 percent of the refining capacity are down. That's what's got our panties in a wad here in the South.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

They got rid of Brosnan? Who are "they?" And where did he go?

I've never seen any James Bond movies. Pardon my ignorance.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Sara: They are ex-KGB, now the Russian Mafia. they used a poisoned dart, delivered by a minx in mink in Minsk.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"They" are an international corporation of criminals and terrorists called the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, or S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

For Anonymous (and anyone else who feels excluded):

You say, "include new people please." Help me out here -- what can we do, that we're not already doing, to make new people feel more included? Anyone who posts a comment on this blog is by definition included. In fact, it seems to me that people who post comments on this blog are more likely to get a response -- from someone -- than people who post comments on WashPost's Live-Online chats.

I should also point out that some of us have been posting comments here since April or May, and in the beginning we rarely had our comments acknowledged.

I recall one of the first comments I posted under my "Tom fan" handle -- I gently pointed out that Joel had used "i.e." when he should have used "e.g.," and I was almost lynched by the other commentators for that. I think things have improved a lot since then.

I think the key is to ask not what the blog can do for you, but what you can do for the blog. :)

Posted by: Achenfan | September 1, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Wow, I didn't realize Brosnan was such a target.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

"The Leaver lifestyle, on the other hand, is in compliance with nature's laws. The Leavers leave certain things to the gods that the Takers have taken into their own hands."

I've spent a few weeks in hospitals in my life. If the hospitals were run by Leavers, well, I might be dead now. Just sayin'.

("...feeling as nervous as a Christian Scientist with appendicitis"- Tom Lehrer)

One of the Post articles today has the stats on the New Orleans production of crude, natural gas, and refinery capacity. If the system was running at or near capacity before the storm, and our demand for gasoline is pretty inelastic, then I figure we haven't seen anything yet. (If only people would put as much effort into slowing down to driving 55 as they do complaining....)

I also haven't read about the effect on natural gas prices for winter yet. I predict that will be in headlines after the first cold snap.

Posted by: Les | September 1, 2005 2:13 PM | Report abuse

JW and Slyness, thanks for answering.

All this makes me reflect on how vulnurable our societies have become.
There are to many "single points of falure" in the system because our unplanned captialist economies work on the basis of cost reduction. Of course during normal times that is great because it reduces costs. But when it fails, there is a lot of hastle.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Also... to be a little harsh about it. I completely disagree with FWIW.

Take care of "our own" first is a rotten attitude. Think global we are all 'our own'. A life is a life. And with the power of being a world leader comes the responsibility of being a world leader.

Besides the difference between responding to a domestic disaster (in the US) and an international disaster (say Tsunami)is that in a domestic disaster you are giving folks (for the most part) a place to sleep, a new set of clothes and the information to set about on their own course for recovery. It usually isn't about life and death.

In the case of disasters like the Tsunami (or the one they are predicting next - Earthquake in Kathmandu valley) it IS about life or death. They have no safety net...

N E Way... off my soap box...

Posted by: LTL again... | September 1, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

and dropping brosnan (they being the bond producers) i think was a shame - i thought he made a charming james bond - but then i was always partial to roger moore's bond than sean connery...

and all new-comers are definetly welcome - some of us are at an advantage b/c we have met each other, but i don't think we are exclusive! i only started here, what? a month ago?? how do we make you feel more welcome?

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Achenfan--Have you taken Latin? i.e.=id est=that is while e.g.=exempli grata=for the sake of example.

About my "include new people"--I'm sorry. You and others are entirely in the right here.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Good point about hospitals, Les. Of course, Leavers might not have the same need for hospitals as we do -- for example, they wouldn't have car accidents. Plus they probably have some darn good medicine men. Just sayin' . . . :)

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

LTL again...

I have to agree with FWIW. I'm all for helping anyone who wants/needs our help, but right now our country needs our leaders to step up and put us first. Other countries have their leaders that can take care of them. In the case of a disaster like this it's only common sense for the leaders of the country to take care of our country first, as that is what we elected them to do. Yes, they can be considered world leaders, but they are OUR nations leaders first.

And try telling the people who have lost everything and have lost family--one grandmother can't find her 7 grandchildren--that it isn't about life or death and that they shouldn't worry because they have a safety net. They don't have a safety net. They lost everything. It doesn't matter if it's domestic, it IS about life and death and I'm surprised and disgusted you can talk to flippantly about it.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if Robby Williams who used to be a member in a UK boy band "Take That" is known in the US, but I think he should be the new Bond. He reminds me of a young Sean Connery.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "so flippantly."

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I didn't take much Latin at school, but yes, I know that i.e. stands for "that is" and e.g. stands for "for example." In the example (example!) I referred to above, Joel had used i.e. when he meant "for example." I recall that he later acknowledged his error. He said something like "I am an imbecile, aka a moron." However, some fellow commentators thought I was a nitpicker for pointing out the error. (This was well before the days of the Self-Castigation Club, i.e., the SCC.)

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | September 1, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

What's the origin of the word nitpicker? What's a nit? And why would you pick it?

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Les, a 30 percent increase in natural gas prices was the prediction I saw, but that was before Katrina. And you're right about hospitals. As much as I didn't want to be subject to a medical bureaucracy, I wouldn't want to go back to Leavers when it comes to childbirth. In either way, babies gotta be born, and I'll take current obstetrics over past practices. Just skip the episiotomy (sp?).

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 2:33 PM | Report abuse


True enough for the most part. However I had the misfortune to have a condition which included the term "Spontaneous" in its name. I decided that "Spontaneous" must be a Latin term for "Just kinda happens, we don't know why. Ain't you lucky!".

It took a while for a good doctor to figure out what was going on with me. My grandfather had the same symptoms fifty years ago and he took months and months to recover- probably it was the same thing. I'm grateful to my doctor and the tools he has.

I remember walking with my other grandfather through an old family cemetary and he told me what people had died from early last century. Gangrene from a broken leg, a child's cut that became infected, many children taken by measels or polio or pneumonia or the smallest virus or infection that the town doc couldn't do anything about.

I'll agree we've lost a lot from the world of a century ago, but I don't think we realize what we've gained either.

Posted by: Les | September 1, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

and for the record, if we seem leary of newbies, it's because we have (had?) a 'loper (achenspeak for interloper) who would appropriate our handles and make a bunch of inappropriate or mean postings... if you are legit we will respond!!

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

JW: I think it comes from picking nits (lice) out of your coat. In ye olden days the people who did that were so fastesious (is that the word?) that they were considered pedantic.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mo: I noticed that the last couple of days were loper free. And it makes a difference in the tone.

Posted by: eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"...of the blog." I forgot to add.

Posted by: eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

jw, a nit is a louse, singular of lice - so a nitpicker is one who picks lice out of his/her hair.

Posted by: slyness | September 1, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I really don't see how you can make any accusation of being flippant in any of my comments. I mourn each and every death, expect to be flown out to Mississippi any day now to begin my volunteer tour, and have spent the days waiting on the phone assisting frantic people who can't find information out about their loved ones.

I find it flippant to dismiss a life as less important because their nationality doesn't match yours.

I am not saying we ignore what is going on in New Orleans and I am not saying that people didn't die.

What I am saying is that you can't just drop what your doing somewhere else and tell them you'll get back to them when you are available. There are people in SE Asia who will also die if we walk away from them.

This doesn't have to be able choosing to help 'our own'. As one of the wealthiest and most personally generous countries in the world we have the resources, capacity and care to help the people of New Orleans while continuing to help folks elsewhere.

It shouldn't be about borders, country lines and one person's life being more or less valuable simply because of their nationality. Nothing flippant about that.

Posted by: LTL | September 1, 2005 2:42 PM | Report abuse

yeah, eurotrash - it's been very civil, huh?

and les, you make a good point - we don't have the diseases now that used to wipe out huge numbers of people - which probably accounts for our overcrowding and overbuilding, et al... also we died a lot younger back then, now we have elderly diseases that weren't around back in the day to deal with...

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

True, Les. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying we should all abandon our cities and start living in tribes; was just providing food for thought. Sometimes I enjoy being in "what if?" mode.

I'm glad you received the treatment you needed and are OK now.

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, I don't have lice. :)

[discreetly leaves the room to go and scratch maddeningly itchy head]

Posted by: Tom fan | September 1, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan,

Maybe it's the ants re-appearing.....

Posted by: pj | September 1, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I see in the dictionary that a nit is one candle per square meter. I wonder how you measure a candle?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

ltl - that's a point i brought up in yesterdays boodle...

isn't that kinda human nature... to value more highly that which we are familiar?

and i have to say that i agree with you but also with sara - in this time of disaster, we need to concentrate our efforts on our own people... these are our fellow country men who haven't eaten or had anything to drink in 4 days!

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if this has already been posted and discussed, but did anyone else's jaw drop to the floor when they read/heard Bush's below statement:

" I don't think anybody anticipated the breech of the levees..."

U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E! Clearly Bush wasn't watching cable news on Sunday night...

Posted by: DCer-in-exile | September 1, 2005 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, pj!
(In retrospect, I'm wondering if that ants story was perhaps a bit tasteless . . . was probably more than most of you wanted to know.)

Posted by: Achen- and Tom fan | September 1, 2005 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I was amazed by the change in tone when he talked about oil. Then all of a sudden he sounded like he meant it.

P.S. don't fill you car up if you don't have to folks.

Posted by: eurotrash | September 1, 2005 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Videlicet, do you mean that you don't know that a candle is the basic unit of luminous intensity adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites, that it is equal to 1/60 of the luminous intensity per square centimeter of a black body radiating at the temperature of 2,046 degrees Kelvin? ;)

Posted by: eurotrash | September 1, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse


Bummer. I thought they measured candles with a ruler.

Posted by: pj | September 1, 2005 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I'm sorry if I've offended you, and I apologize.

My point was just that everyone has different ways of dealing with tension, crisis, tragedy and grief. Someone's seemingly silly or heartbreaking comments in the Kaboodle could be a relief worker or worried family member blowing off steam. I will endeavor to remember this myself, ma'am, as I occasionally veer towards the insensitive.

Bayou Self, I'm glad you caught the Belchfire reference, I knew it was Donald Duck's car, but I think my use of it stemmed from an old Frank & Troise strip somewhere (if Gene W is reading this, perhaps he can help).


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Eurotrash: The only black body I know about is Halle Berry's.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 1, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Videlicet: You wish!

Posted by: eurotrash | September 1, 2005 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I think I was so blindsided by the 'flippant' comment that I didn't get that the issue was one of: of our government isn't throwing enough resources at this problem and that is why you all think we should pull away from activities in other countries. Different train of though that I will try to address here...

I guess with the news media what it is and always trying to find the angle with questions... And the flavor of the day is why didn't you do more, faster?

I once heard a Red Cross person say in an interview "Who else can create a hundred million dollar company, in three days, without electricity, in the middle of a disaster area"? That is what your government and charities are struggling with. Oh yeah, and they have to be able to show you afterwards that they did it smartly, legally, efficiently and crossed all the Ts and dotted all the I's.

People have lost sight of the fact that the collective we (charities, federal agencies, etc.) are getting in there as fast as is safely possible. There are only so many resources you can throw at something before you start getting in your own way.

Plus, if you go in too soon, you endanger the aid responders, creating a bigger rescue need and reducing the people you have available to respond.

The logistics of trying to move food, goods, resources in there is tremendous. And you can't do it while rain is still lashing around and you can't start moving it to one place in anticipation of an event only to find you have to move it somewhere else because a storm took a right turn.

You can only pre-position stuff to a certain extent. Don't forget this thing is also causing flooding as it moves upwards and inland. Last years hurricanes impacted 18 (yes 18) states. You don't see in the news the stuff that is going on in East Cupcake Pennslytucky, but FEMA and the National Guard and folks like the Southern Baptists and Salvation Army are there anyway.

I ain't flippant I care too much.

Posted by: LTL | September 1, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse

And my CNN update just reported that a sniper is shooting people as patients try to evacuate a hospital in New Orleans. Not good operating conditions.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

New Orleans may be rebuilt. The French Quarter will certainly thrive again. Unlike Kobe, however, New Orleans is not a rich city in a country that abandons its neediest citizens until a well-publicized disaster comes along. The lives of these poor people have been changed forever. Many will never go back. And once a few mardi gras have passed, these silent refugees will probably be forgotten. As long as we have "Cathedrals on Mars" (to quote one of Mr. Achenbach's more idiotic post), who needs shelters on Earth?

I think everyone is devastated. I would like to think, however, that we are capable of something more than shock (the "didn't see that coming" à la Bush) and optimism ("New Orleans will be back better than ever"). Now, more than ever, reflection (and not the clever rehashing of journalistic platitudes) is called for.

1) reflection on the Bush administrations priorities
2) reflection on the loss of life due to the aggravating effects of poverty.
3) reflection on the potential human costs of climate change

Posted by: Not a fan | September 1, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand how to measure a candle. But way to go, eurotrash.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

A nit is actually a louse egg. They are very tiny, hard to see and hard to kill. If you have school age children, pray they don't get lice.

On the implausability of the 9\11 scenario, at least two bestselling authors had used it several years prior to 2001. Tom Clancy put it in one of his doorstops- bitter pilot flies 747 into Capitol during State of the Union address and kills half the government. Earlier than that Ridley Pearson (a far better writer) cooked up a plot to drop a cargo plane on the Pentagon during takeoff (max fuel, max damage). I think the two are titled "Debt of Honor" and "Hard Fall" respectively.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 1, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

My girlfriend (party-planner extrordinare) is organizing a fundraiser at McFadden's for Katrina. Kind of a crazy place I know, but I'll post more with details once I get them if anyone's interested.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Why are people shooting other people? Don't they want to be rescued? I say we snipe the sniper.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Please do, jw.

BTW, I think you'd make a good James Bond, dude.


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Ha-ha! Who says i'm not one already, bc.

Posted by: jw | September 1, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Sara, In all honesty, I looked it up in a dictionary. I remembered it used for lighthouses.
E.g. That lighthouse has a strenght of 10.000 candles.

P.S. I hope I used e.g. correctly. (see an earlier post.)

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, way to look it up for us then, eurotrash. Thanks.

Posted by: Sara | September 1, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Good points, LTL. It's easy to forget that this collective We, or They -- They who should be doing more, They who should have been able to prevent this, etc. -- is made up of regular people just like each of us, trying to do the best they can in far-from-perfect conditions. And each emergency is different from the one that came before it. These people have jobs that are much harder than the average person's job, and yet they are cut less slack when they slip up. How many of us would really want the level of responsibility that being part of this "They" entails? It's a thankless task.

Posted by: Dreamer | September 1, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

PS - I am a rager of a liberal and don't think for a mo' that I think that Chertoff and Bush's comments were anything less than (you know the right disparaging word just doesn't seem to come to mind). Just don't tag the emergency responders who are working so hard right now, with the same brush.

Posted by: LTL | September 1, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I stand corrected, jw.

Eurotrash, my rule of thumb for i.e. and e.g. is:

i.e.= that is,
e.g. = for example

Tom fan would know this better than I, but I've managed to avoid trouble using my thumbrule.


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I believe a number of commentators complained that numerous levee repair/improvement contracts were waiting to be funded. Of course, there are also any number of such Army Corps contracts around the country that fall into that category.

Looking up Belchfire on the Internet, with the pictures features, fetches a rather interesting array of stuff. And a surprising amount of semi-nudity, too.

From all I've read here, nitpicking sounds like a good thing.

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

LTL, the word you were looking for is perfidious.

(Cue announcer. "The word of the day, sponsored by Belchfire Motors, makers of the new Dreadnaught. The Belchfire Dreadnaught: it eats gas for breakfast. And by Nitpickers Inc. You got nits? We'll pick 'em.")

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Re. nitpicking.

Two of my kids picked up head lice in elementary school. Absolutely awful.

Smearing their heads with Vasoline, wrapping the hair in a towel and letting them sleep on it worked better than anyhting we bought at a store. The Vasoline suffocates the lice and the nits. Nitpicking comes later. Ech.

I gave the Belchfire nudity stuff a pass.


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for allowing me this one time appearance... I appreciated the distraction from my impatience as I wait to farm out...

I just want y'all to know that I always enjoy your boodling and usually find myself nodding in agreement... Hope I didn't offend too much with my opinions (I guess I don't come in pastel colors)

PS. I think I was blindsided by the flippant comment because I expected y'all to know me better! I guess I forgot that reading and not posting doesn't exactly work that way.

Anyway - peace and elbow grease!

Posted by: LTL - signing off... | September 1, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

BEST OF LUCK LTL! you are doing a grand thing!!!!!!! pst - for the record i think bush is a windbag as well...

and bayou self - you made me chortle out loud!

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

chortling is a good thing. especially on days like these. :)

Posted by: HeatherK | September 1, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

As a sidebar, has anyone heard from the famous people that live(d) in NO like Emeril?

BTW...I did not feel slighted from the regulars and FWIW I am afraid LTL took my comments totally out of context.

Posted by: FWIW | September 1, 2005 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Seeing that it's time for me to go to bed, I will wish you all a good evening. I realy enjoyed the time on the Boodle today.

I realy hope that from tomorrow the news from New Orleans starts to improve. It's about time that good stuff starts to happen to the people over there.

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 1, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

you got it HeatherK - this whole NO thing is like a train wreck that i can't stop watching! i feel sooo incredibly bad for those people! so thanks bayou self - you lifted my spirits and made me chortle... i love to chortle... as i think bc can attest to...

Posted by: mo | September 1, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Missing celebs: USA Today's Web site says that Fats Domino has not been heard from since Sunday.

Bayou Self: That was funny. Sounds a bit like the Ralph Spoilsport ad from Firesign Theater.

Posted by: pj | September 1, 2005 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking tomorrow off and probably won't be able to 'boodle again until Tuesday. I'll really miss my 'boodle buddies -- my hands will probably be shaking by the time I get back.

Enjoy the long weekend, all, and stay safe.

Yours in the 'boodle,

A, T, and D

Posted by: Achenfan | September 1, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

In Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", to prevent lice, Francie and Neeley's mother soaked their hair in kerosine before they went to school and warned them not to stand too close to the radiators. When we were in school, my mother had us carry two combs, one for our own hair and one to loan if a friend asked to borrow.

Posted by: Nani | September 1, 2005 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Have a good weekend, A f, T f, and D.

mo, it is great to share a laugh with you.
Looking forward to the next time.

I think most people are aware of my stance on laughter. It won't rebuild a city or lives, but it does have a certain healing power, even if all it does is stop tears for a little while.


Posted by: bc | September 1, 2005 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm nothing but pro-chortle and I will fight the anti-chortle lobby at any place and at any time.

Posted by: Bayou Self | September 1, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

How about in the 21st Century getting these people some water? Is that too much to ask for?

Posted by: Debbie | September 1, 2005 6:13 PM | Report abuse

the unfolding story out of the gulf region
of states and cities affected by the winds
and water of hurricane katrina will be with
us all for many months...the immediacy of
human suffering and need will for some days
to come seem endless...within a few months
the math of recovery will become dominant
as the costs of rebuilding or restoring
come to the forefront...the underlying
inadequacies of why more could not have
been done sooner or better will make for
heated political ups and downs ...........
i do think though that a deeper story will
be found in understanding better the way
americans have chose to develope our way
of living is needful of some review in
regards to energy usage for transportation
and how we acquire and distribute all parts
of our day to day living pattern...........
the idea of endless cheap energy really
will need to be adjusted to address the
global emergence of more demand and less
supply...this is simply unavoidable......
as more and more of the worlds population
is changing how it lives americans will
need to understand that how we lived after
world war 2 out thru the early part of this
century will seem as distant as how we
lived in the last part of the 1800s within
another 15 to 20 years....................
the current fuel shortages and price spikes
again remind many of the 1970s here in the
us.....they should be seen as prophetic of
how we need to adapt to a very different
world to come...economic and social shifts
will not allow us to postpone this........

Posted by: an american in siam.... | September 1, 2005 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh such interesting posts today and I have a ton of work before my DRIVING vacation begins. I will be eating the rise in gas prices all the way. If I knew that the petroleum industry was giving part of this windfall to the coastal cities to rebuild, or that they would send huge donations, say a percentage of the windfall to the Red Cross et al, I don't think I would be nearly so unhappy to pay the price they are now asking at the pump.

Maybe one thing we all could do is start calling companies who will profit by these much higher prices, and find out just how they are going to help affected people above and beyond what they will spend on getting their own facilities up and producing again.

I will be asking. Maybe we can make it 10,000 voices?

Posted by: dr | September 1, 2005 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you go to the Japanese city that this country firebombed, specifically BECAUSE it was not a military target. See if you can find any survivors.

Posted by: jeff | September 1, 2005 8:32 PM | Report abuse

To avoid "death by Kanji":

1)When starting out: if you get an underline under everything you are writing, then garbage when you hit the space key, you are in "convert to Japanese" mode. To convert to "roman letters only mode" tap the key immediately to the left of the ESC key (it will have "hankaku / zenkaku" written on it in kanji).

2)Do not hit any of the lower space keys except the one in the center without markings. If you should hit one of the other keys by mistake, do not panic: tapping the "hankaku / zenkaku" key reconverts the input into roman letters only.

Posted by: MTC | September 1, 2005 9:28 PM | Report abuse

re: nitpicking

A louse is a very small critter. A nit is much smaller than a louse. A tiny thing that seems so insignificant that a reasonable person could just overlook it. But left alone, a nit hatches and then the louse lays more eggs (nits)and pretty soon you are in Itch City.

So, let's say you have a legal document. You want every word to be exactly correct, to avoid problems later, but you don't want to be accused of "nitpicking." What you do, in that circumstance: you "go over it with a fine-toothed comb."

Posted by: CyberPerson | September 2, 2005 5:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and that skin-crawly feeling you get from just talking about lice/ants/bugs?

"formication"--"a spontaneous abnormal sensation of ants or other insects running over the skin."

Posted by: CyberPerson | September 2, 2005 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Try to have a good weekend, everyone. Despite the disasters and the price of gas, there are still many things to be thankful for. Go spend some time doing what makes you happy.

Posted by: Pixel | September 2, 2005 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Pixel: What if what makes you happy is firebombing cities?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 2, 2005 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I am just wondering, Where is our Vice President ? No comments from him, no offers, no gestures of any kind - total silence ??

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2005 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Kobe is in Japan. New Orleans is in Africa.

Posted by: bigot | September 4, 2005 9:27 PM | Report abuse

See for an interesting series of articles written soon after the earthquate in Kobe 10 years ago. Different country, different time, different disaster, but many similar problems to what we've seen with the Katrina disaster.

Posted by: Steve S. | September 9, 2005 2:45 AM | Report abuse

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