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  • Archive for the 'New Orleans Tragedy' Category

    Risk: An Allegory

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th August 2015 (All posts by )

    Here’s an interesting article on CNBC’s website: Katrina anniversary: Will New Orleans levees hold next time?

    The 100-year threshold is also a statistical guess based on data on past storms and assessments of whether they’ll occur in the future. That means the models change every time a new hurricane strikes. The numbers being used as guidelines for construction are changing as time passes.
    The standard also does not mean—can’t possibly mean—that a 100-year storm will occur only once per century. It means that such a storm has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year. So for example, it’s technically possible for several 100-year floods to occur in just a few years, although it’s highly unlikely.

    One way to look at it is that the engineers need to estimate how high a wall New Orleans needs to protect itself against a reasonably unlikely flood — say, a 1-in-1000-year event. This is the line of discussion pursued in the CNBC article.

    Another way to look at it is to observe that the odds of another Katrina, or worse, within a specified period are highly uncertain. In this case a radical course of action might be called for. You do something like: take the best estimate for the wall height needed to protect against a 1000-year flood and then double it. Building such a levee would probably be extremely expensive but at least the costs would be out in the open. Or you might decide that it’s not the best idea to have a coastal city that’s below sea level, and so you would discourage people from moving back to New Orleans, rather than encourage them by subsidizing a new and stronger system of walls.

    In this kind of situation the political incentives are usually going to encourage public decisionmakers to ignore radical solutions with high obvious costs, in favor of the minimum acceptable incremental solution with hidden costs: probably subsidies to rebuild the levees to, or perhaps a bit beyond, the standard needed to protect the city in the event of another Katrina. And it’s unlikely that any local pol is going to advise residents to move out and depopulate his constituency. Thus, eventually, a worst case will probably happen again.

    Posted in Deep Thoughts, Economics & Finance, Environment, Human Behavior, Markets and Trading, New Orleans Tragedy, Predictions, Public Finance, Statistics, Systems Analysis, Tradeoffs | 14 Comments »

    Nagin Set To Go To Jail

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Much has been written both here and elsewhere about Hurricane Katrina, and one of the last chapters was written in court yesterday.

    Ray Nagin, the ex mayor of New Orleans, who we saw pointing fingers, yelling, cursing, and giving us the “woe is us” routine for days and weeks on end after Katrina, was convicted on seven million counts of bribery, wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and setting fire to children. Well, not that last part.

    Many of the crimes were from his pre-Katrina days as the standard, run of the mill mayor scam in New Orleans. I imagine these crimes are the tip of the iceburg but I will take it. He will be spending the next 15 plus years in jail.

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, New Orleans Tragedy | 22 Comments »

    The Barbarians within the Gates

    Posted by David McFadden on 13th September 2011 (All posts by )

    “Scholarship, which is meant to be a bulwark of civilization against barbarism, is ever more frequently turned into an instrument of rebarbarization,” wrote Leo Strauss. Here, drawn from the MLA International Bibliography, are a few recent examples of that well-established trend:

    Chaudhri, Amina. “ ‘Straighten up and Fly Right’: HeteroMasculinity in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 36 (Summer 2011): 147-63.

    Holcombe, Heather E.  “Faulkner on Feminine Hygiene, or, How Margaret Sanger Sold Dewey Dell a Bad Abortion.” Modern Fiction Studies 57 (Summer 2011): 203-29.

    O’Bryan, C. Jill. “Ontology and Autobiographical Performance: Joanna Frueh’s Aesthetics of Orgasm.” Drama Review 55 (Summer 2011): 126-36.

    Stobie, Cheryl. “Indecent Theology, Trans-Theology, and the Transgendered Madonna in Chris Abani’s The Virgin of the Flames.” Research in African Literatures 42 (Summer 2011): 170-83.

    Cole, Lucinda, et al. “Speciesism, Identity Politics, and Ecocriticism: A Conversation with Humanists and Posthumanists,” in “Animal, All Too Animal,” special issue, Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 52 (Spring 2011): 87-106.

    Christ, Carol P.  “The Last Dualism: Life and Death in Goddess  Feminist Thealogy [sic].”  Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 27 (Spring 2011): 129-45.

    Schuyler, Michael T. “He ‘coulda been a contender’ for Miss America: Feminizing Brando in On the Waterfront.” Canadian Review of American Studies 41 (Mar. 2011): 97-113.

    Bradshaw, G.A. “An Ape among Many: Co-Authorship and Trans-Species Epistemic Authority,” in “Ecocriticism and Biology,” special issue, Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology 18 (Winter 2010): 15-30.

    Kim, Kwang Soon. “Queering Narrative, Desire, and Body: Reading of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body as a Queer Text.” Journal of English Language and Literature  56 (Winter 2010): 1281-94.

    Maxwell, Anne. “Postcolonial Criticism, Ecocriticism and Climate Change: A Tale of Melbourne under Water in 2035.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 45 (Mar. 2009): 15-26.

    And finally, hegemonic, white, masculine speech in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina apparently has emerged as a sub-specialization of victimology:

    Macomber, Kris, Christine Mallinson, and Elizabeth Searle. “ ‘Katrina That Bitch!’: Hegemonic Representations of Women’s Sexuality on Hurricane Katrina Souvenir T-Shirts.” Journal of Popular Culture 44 (June 2011): 525-44.

    Harris, Kate Lockwood. “ ‘Compassion’ and Katrina: Reasserting Violent White Masculinity after the Storm.” Women and Language  34 (Spring 2011): 11-27.

    I would welcome additional submissions.

    Posted in Academia, Leftism, New Orleans Tragedy | 17 Comments »

    Compare and Contrast

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 28th March 2009 (All posts by )

    This with this.

    Discuss the role of civil society when it is healthy, and the role of the state when it is weak or damaged.

    Posted in Civil Society, New Orleans Tragedy | 10 Comments »

    About Freakin’ Time!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th October 2008 (All posts by )

    Most people who are not firearm enthusiasts are surprised when I mention that the city of New Orleans enacted a campaign of illegally seizing privately owned firearms in the aftermath of Katrina.

    Think about that for a moment. With the looting, the breakdown of order, and the sheer overwhelming job that the police and authorities faced when it came to providing aid to those who needed it, disarming law abiding citizens who needed their guns to protect their homes and loved ones was still deemed top priority.

    It was conducted like a military campaign. National Guard troops were under orders to break into homes to find guns, and they were ready to shoot any who resisted.

    Sounds like some paranoid right wing conspiracy novel, doesn’t it? But all you have to do is watch this video to hear them freely admit it. Note the images of innocent home owners, flex cuffed and lined up by the side of the road like they were terrorists.

    One of the most egregious example of police overstepping their authority was caught on video.

    Do you think that cop needed to tackle an old woman, in her own kitchen? God only knows what they would have done to her if the cameras weren’t rolling, considering how she is such a terror and all.

    This was all three years ago. Why am I bringing up this ancient history?

    Because New Orleans has finally agreed to return the guns they seized illegally. It seems that the city has been extremely reluctant to return the private property of the residents, even requiring a sales receipt. Considering that it takes more than a century for regularly maintained firearms to wear out, and many firearms are family heirlooms passed from one generation to the next, this is a ridiculous burden that was enacted by the city to avoid obeying the law.

    It has been a long time coming. Let us hope it doesn’t happen again.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Law Enforcement, New Orleans Tragedy, RKBA | 6 Comments »

    New Orleans Bleg

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 28th January 2008 (All posts by )

    When my wife and I were planning our wedding 13 years ago we reached the point where it started to get hairy.  You know what I mean…where is so and so going to sit, what color will the linens be, who will do the toast at the reception, etc, etc, etc.

     I will give you the very short version of the ending – the planning process started to involve way too many people and quickly spiraled out of control.  I remember to this day sitting on the couch in our apartment (yes, we lived in sin!) and saying to my fiance at the time, still my wife to this day the following:

    Do you want to get the heck out of here and elope to New Orleans?

     The answer was an enthusiastic YES.

    And so we did.  That was back in 1995.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy, Personal Narrative | 13 Comments »

    Michael Lewis Article

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th September 2007 (All posts by )

    In the comments to this post, commenter JP left a link for an article Mr. Lewis wrote in October of 2005.  I think this article needs a little more publicity than to be buried in a comment thread.  The link JP left was for Times Select, but you can find the article for free here.

     The essay is truly outstanding if you are interested in Katrina and the aftermath.  I recommend you print it out, take a few minutes out of your day and read it.

     Thanks to JP for leaving the original link.

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 1 Comment »

    Michael Lewis on Disaster-Risk Trading

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st September 2007 (All posts by )

    This is an interesting and entertaining article, a bit long but worth reading. I’m not sure that Lewis completely understands some of the concepts here (or maybe I don’t understand them), and I think that he overpersonalizes his discussion by framing it as a narrative about mostly one person, which I suppose comes with the territory in journalism. It’s still quite a good article, however.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, New Orleans Tragedy, Predictions | 8 Comments »

    You Are The First Responder

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 3rd August 2007 (All posts by )

    The tragedy in Minneapolis of a few days ago underlines something I have written about before and will no doubt have to write about again.  I never really thought about it much until Katrina hit and I saw the images that all of you saw.  Those were images of people standing in what seemed like endless lines for food and water or to be evacuated. 

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, New Orleans Tragedy, Terrorism | 7 Comments »

    Review of John Robb’s Brave New War

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th July 2007 (All posts by )

    Dan from Madison has written a thoughtful review of John Robb’s Brave New War.


    Most urgently Robb almost begs for the US to radically restructure the electricity grid. Again, those who can afford it will simply go off the grid – through the use of wind, solar and other types of generation. Another interesting point he made is that some municipalities may just go ahead and create their own power generation and distribution. A wonderful example he provides is suburbia – I think Chicago. Many suburbs are breaking apart from large cities as we speak to ensure their own safety and care. This is an excellent point. IIRC there is a suburb in Atlanta doing this exact thing right now and I would argue that many suburbs in the Chicago area will eventually break away from the black hole that is Cook County. Do you honestly think that people in places like Downers Grove will ever send their kids to the Chicago Public Schools? On the flip side, what sort of parent, if they have the resources and live in the City of Chicago wouldn’t send their kid to a private school? That would be borderline child abuse.
    De-centralization of everything seems to be Robb’s key point.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Book Notes, Military Affairs, National Security, New Orleans Tragedy, Predictions, Terrorism, USA | 3 Comments »

    Martial Law in New Orleans

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 19th June 2006 (All posts by )

    The title of this post is actually rather misleading. The Associated Press is reporting that hundreds of National Guard troops will be deployed to New Orleans this next month as an anti-crime measure. So far as I know, martial law has yet to be declared.

    Using soldiers to keep the civil peace has always been problematic. Troops equipped and trained to defeat another nations military are ill suited to arresting street gangs and investigating crimes. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, the two politicians behind this decision, understand that well enough to emphasize that the NG troops will have law enforcement experience. The news article linked to above doesnt mention which units will be used in NO, so there is no way to tell if they will confine themselves to using MPs and refrain from having regular troops patrol the streets.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 23 Comments »

    Inspectors at the Levee

    Posted by Ginny on 16th December 2005 (All posts by )

    Government bids have not always been handled with transparency. My father found, in his short-lived & bitter experience as county engineer in the reddest, most heartland of states, that taxpayers were likely to prefer bids a bit more open than did commissioners. Pajamasmedia links to an AP story on hearings about the New Orleans levee failure; apparently, the lines of authority weren’t clear or at least the local commissioners didn’t take seriously their roles as “inspectors.” This confusion of responsibilities seemed to underlie the discussion on Lehrer tonight, as Margaret Warner kept after Donald Powell. Who was going to supervise the Corps of Engineers she asked; of course, they’d built the failed levees. As with everything about New Orleans, the hearings indicate sufficient blame to go around. (And we all understand what happens when everyone is kind of responsible and no one is held responsible.)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 3 Comments »

    The Rhetoric is Getting Kinda Thick

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 6th December 2005 (All posts by )

    A special Congressional hearing was held today to determine if the slow response in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was due to racism.

    The evacuees who gave testimony got pretty intense when describing their ordeal. They said that American troops aimed guns at young girl’s heads, living in temporary shelters was deadly, and that they’re victims of a crime as big as the Holocaust.

    Uh huh. The US government set up death camps and shoveled millions of black residents into the ovens. Got it.

    That surely happened because, if it didn’t, then the people who testified are nothing but a bunch of jerks who are trying to game the system for their own gain.

    I’ve seen a great deal of this hysterical crap over the past few years, particularly from the Left. What they can’t seem to understand is that comparing having to go hungry for a day or two to actual genocide isn’t impressive or compelling. They can claim that they’re the biggest victims in the world all they want, most of us can tell what real vicitmization and genocide really looks like.

    Something tells me that they’re not going to shut up, though. Not while they’re being invited to Washington to speak in front of a Congressional committee.

    (Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 5 Comments »

    Instapundit Looks at Facts

    Posted by Ginny on 27th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Instapundit links to two stories: his column on the 135 girls to 100 guys that graduate each year from college and the Times-Picayunes’s reporting of the inaccuracy of reports of violence & death in New Orleans:

    That the nation’s front-line emergency management believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans’ top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent.

    And of course, I, too, was at fault – whipping out Melville far too quickly.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 7 Comments »

    Some A&L Links

    Posted by Ginny on 12th September 2005 (All posts by )

    A&L links to McWhorter, who discusses learned dependence:

    What Katrina stripped bare, then, was not white supremacy, but that culture matters even if what created the culture was misguided white benevolence. Social scientists neglect that before the 1960s poor blacks knew plenty of economic downturns and plenty more racism.

    But before the 1960s the kinds of behaviour so common among the blacks stranded in the Superdome, possibly including multiple rapes, was a fringe phenomenon. Only after the 1960s did it become a community norm.

    And A&L also links a NYTimes Rothstein article on theodicies, which
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 2 Comments »

    Fatalism & Louisiana

    Posted by Ginny on 11th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Part of Kens point is that failings on various levels made Katrina worse, but they did just that: they made Katrina worse. He notes the difference between nature & man. And nature is likely to fight us harder than man. If civilization reaches the point where a category five hurricane aimed at a populous and wide region is just a minor problem well, that will be good. And technology & planning may indeed reach that point. Even with all the incompetence that we will complain about for years, this was not as bad as 1900 Galveston; it was destroyed and never, not really, came back. The 6000 dead will surely not be topped by Katrina, despite its broader swath and a modern higher population. (The poor, then, in Galveston were the new immigrants; its role as Ellis Island of the south was never regained.) Indeed, apparently New Orleans got a larger percentage of its population out than Ivan would have predicted. And the misery of Mississippi and Alabama appears mitigated by better planning.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 4 Comments »

    US Out of …

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 11th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Parachuting in again for a rambling but not-too-interminable-I-hope 9/11 anniversary post which cannot begin to compare to James Rummel’s, below — hey, do I know how to sell my stuff, or what? Anyway, over on New World Man – Unit One’s in trouble, Matt Barr, who is definitely not “scared out of [his] wits,” (reference), says it’s time to bring home our troops. Heh.
    Got to this via Gates of Vienna (and to there via, whaddaya know, Instapundit) which notes in its masthead, with reference to 1683: “We are in a new phase of a very old war.” True, but you’ll have to read Chapter XII, “The Tottering World Balance, 1700-1850 AD,” and in particular section C, “Moslem Catalepsy,” of The Rise of the West to appreciate the chain of causation —

    Nothing in the past had prepared the Moslem world for such disasters. Until the end of the seventeenth century, the age-long conflict between Islam and Christendom had generally tended to favor the Moslem cause. Nothing less could be expected by followers of Allah, whose Prophet had declared victory in battle against unbelievers to be clear and distinct evidence of divine favor. Therefore the abrupt reversal of the trend of history [near-simultaneous weakening of the Ottoman empire and collapse of the Mogul and Safavid empires — JDM], setting in so unmistakably and massively with the beginning of the eighteenth century, presented Moslems with a desperate and insoluble puzzle. Had Allah deserted them? And if so, why? And no matter what the shortcomings of the community of the faithful might be, how was it conceivable that God should favor Christian dogs and unbelievers?

    — and to reflect on what a nightmare it would be if the Wahhabi (among the sects which formed in reaction to those events) ever gained money and power. Well, welcome to the 21st century. And in that connection, I commend the latest Bill Tammeus column in the KCStar, Stanch one Saudi flow, which concludes:

    An accurate criticism of American foreign policy is that we havent finished the job in Afghanistan.
    But its also true that we never really started the job in Saudi Arabia no, not of bombing and invading it, but of insisting that the Saudis own up to their festering pipelines of faith-based terrorism and stop the flow.

    (I note that over in this Universe, the job is well under way.)
    Back to New Orleans. Watch for a noticeable disappointment on the part of some commentators when the Katrina death toll turns out to be much lower than originally feared, and in particular, lower than 9/11. And while that’s going on, reflect that a hurricane of essentially the maximum possible size and strength hit perhaps the worst-governed city and state in the country while Federal attention was consumed by managing the altogether different risk of terrorism — and yet four-fifths of the population of the affected area escaped entirely, and in all likelihood well over 99% of those who did not escape nonetheless survived the disaster. The worst day in this country is better than the best day in a lot of other places. Your homework assignment on this anniversary is to think of reasons why.

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 5 Comments »

    Good News from N.O – And Bad Reviews on the “Plan”

    Posted by Ginny on 6th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Good news: 182,000 rescued.
    Bad News: Chris Regan and Bryan Preston, in “Ghost Plans for a Ghost Town,”, compare what happened with plans and predictions from the experience of Ivan and discussions in the November 2004 Natural Hazards Observer. Their grim (and detailed) comparisons conclude:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | 3 Comments »


    Posted by Ginny on 5th September 2005 (All posts by )

    Not much of a post, some fragments between classes:
    Whittle is impassioned and perceptive as he contrasts the “pink” and “grey.”

    Some examples of independence: French Quarter, children, national guard.

    NPR says this time Bush is not blaming the locals–as he had in his first tour of the hurricane-hit area. Hugh Hewitt saw that first trip quite differently. (Generally, I’d take Hewitt over NPR, but don’t know. If those people want to be taken seriously, they really need to stop treating Daniel Schorr as if he was the last of the great wise men.)

    Posted in New Orleans Tragedy | Comments Off on Links