Return to Abnormal Life

I’ll admit that just doing normal things seems wrong lately. While I know intellectually that it does no one any good to walk around my life like a morose zombie, I still feel guilty. Doing the celebratory podcast yesterday made me feel quite a bit better, and the more I thought about New Orleans stories the more I can think of. In keeping with the spirit of the city, I’ll try to do as much remembrance of joy for New Orleans as possible and keep the tears to a minimum

And just for a downer link and a refutation of some bullshit of what it was like in the cluster fuck of the horrible week in the drowned city, here is a first hand account of life in flood I found from Doc Searls. As you read this, remember that it was written by trained EMTs, people who were about as prepared as anyone could be for life in a disaster. Even with that, they were lied to, had guns pointed at them by law enforcement and guardsmen, went hungry and when they did get food had it confiscated by a sheriff. Their summation:

Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.

5 Replies to “Return to Abnormal Life”

  1. I’ve been following the tragidy and some interesting facts have come out.

    This is a man made disaster. Since the levees were built, New Orleans has been sinking. Normally floods deposit silt which raises the ground level. The ground has become compacted and is sinking.

    For years despite the threat of huricanes, people have been moving to coastal areas in record numbers, then they act like they didn’t expect their homes do be demolished and the enormous tragic loss of life. If you play with fire, you are going to get burned. Are we to be constantly rebuilding our cities and morning the horrible loss of lives because a bunch of stupid people want to live by the water?

  2. TE, that may be an overly cold, callous and/or simplistic summary of the situation – but I have been thinking along a loosly parallel path. That goes something like this:

    There is a great deal of pseudo-economist talk of “markets adjusting” to assorted predicted stimulii such as long term reductions in oil production (aka peak oil), globalisation, global warming, or whatever..

    It seems to me that some of the “corrections” may be of the scale of Katrina, or larger – and we need to begin to have the dialog about whether the human cost of these corrections is acceptable.

    This is a half-baked thought, and I’m not advocating planned economies, but rather pushing back against the prevalent hand-washing nature of many economists. It seems morally wrong at some point, a bit like letting a totally drunk parent drive your kids sports team to a game, and saying you’re not responsible for the outcome.

    None of which has much to do with building stuff below sea level (see also Holland) – but aren’t blogs supposed to be the new place to spout half-baked thoughts like this 🙂 ?

  3. I posted a comment last week on the 31st. It wasn’t so much a reaction to your particular comments as to the general talk (tv/radio/web) about how Bush could have made it all better if he weren’t so stupid or if he didn’t hate black people so much. That is so simple-minded, it physically hurts me to hear it. The thing I find more and more frustrating is that people seem to ignore a wide range of failures in favor of slamming Bush or the Red Cross. Nice and simple that way, they can keep spouting the same complaints and just swap out Iraq for the gulf coast. So there will be some congressional nonsense, some people will probably be fired and/or publicly humiliated, those that are left can point and say “See? We got rid of the problem. We’re looking out for you.” and the next time something like this happens, they will be no closer to being prepared than they were a month ago. The most important thing will be to be seen fixing the problem. Photo ops, meetings, case studies, focus groups and the all-important 2000 page report to congress. Whether or not the problem actually gets fixed will likely never even be discussed.

    I hate politics.

  4. The problems will never be fixed because there is no organization in the government. Polarization makes it impossible to get major changes through, but maybe this is good because as we know both parties pay little attention to science and logic; instead we get debates on crap like gay marriage and investigations of oral sex in the White House.

    Just building the levees higher would ultimately create even larger floods when they break. As I understand it, The barrier islands need to be restored but this would be a very expensive project.

  5. Dave, the couple behind the story of the “first hand account of life in the flood” were featured recently on This American Life. The episode is in the 2005 archives in Real Audio format, under episode number 296, entitled “After the Flood”.

    It’s disturbing and angering, but there are great moments of true humanity as well. And we find out from another interviewee about the true mission of the “armed thugs” moving about the Convention Center.

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