John Edwards, man of the people

Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards has spoken eloquently about the plight of the poor in America, saying that “poverty is the great moral issue of our century.” In his 2004 speech to the DNC, he said: John Kerry and I believe that we shouldn’t have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, they know their kids and their grand-kids are going to be just fine; and then one for most Americans, people who live paycheck to paycheck.

Jason Fortuny update

Ironic quote: You are sending me direct contact information that is sensitive. I protect your privacy in the following ways: (1) I will never sell, rent, or give away your address to any outside party, ever; (2) I will never send you any unrequested e-mail, besides e-mail in the regular course of business; and (3) Your information is stored behind network address translation and a software firewall. That’s Jason Fortuny’s privacy policy, as stated on his web site before his prank.


Before anyone else calls to ask if we’re going to drown…I don’t think so. The hurricane is currently projected to head up the east edge of Texas. It has weakened down to category 4 again, and Austin is just outside the edge of its projected path. So, we’ll get some strong winds and thunder and lightning and a load of rain, but that should be about it. We’re on a hill, well above the flood plain around the river.

Thinking the unthinkable

An article on Slate paints a compelling picture of what a dreadful place New Orleans actually was, by many metrics, and asks whether we should even try to rebuild it. Meanwhile, another article explains why it’s essential to have a port city located where New Orleans was. Oh, and as if things weren’t bad enough, watch out for escaped plague-infected monkeys.

New Orleans [updated]

Let’s enjoy a few compassionate thoughts from the right-wing libertarians. First, Becky Akers, columnist for Lew Rockwell of the Center for Libertarian Studies: The day after the hurricane, Louisiana’s Governor Kathleen Blanco ordered New Orleans evacuated—again. Yep, folks facing a flood several fathoms deep without electricity, potable water, or food are too stupid to leave on their own. Good thing the Nanny Kate tells them what to do. […] Nanny’s sending buses, boats and helicopters after all the silly little citizens who didn’t know enough to come in out of the rain.

The good side of Texas

According to The Guardian, Texas has taken in more than 230,000 refugees from New Orleans. That’s more than every other state added together; Austin alone is planning to take in more refugees than Colorado. (It’s a shame the Coliseum is half demolished.) The Red Cross say they already have more volunteers in Austin than they can use, though the Capitol Area Food Bank is still looking for assistance.

The half-full glass (just don’t try to drink from it)

Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Bush played the guitar while New Orleans drowned. And now this: The good news is—and it’s hard for some to see it now—that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house—he’s lost his entire house— there’s going to be a fantastic house. And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.

The L word

You’ve all seen that “looter” is an irregular verb for white people in the media: “I am commandeering essential supplies, you are finding essential goods, they are looting”. You’ve also all seen the compassionate Conservatives criticizing people for not evacuating. Here’s something new: calling people looters for stealing an abandoned bus in order to evacuate. Ask yourself this: If I were in New Orleans wading through sewage-filled water and dodging bullets, if I’d waited days to be evacuated by the authorities but seen no action on their part, would I steal a bus to survive?

I knew this was coming [update]

2005-09-04: Pat Robertson may have had the good sense to take his meds last week, but inevitably some Christians are seeing the New Orleans disaster as proof of the existence of God. Because, you know, if it wasn’t for God, things would have been worse: Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God’s mercy in the aftermath of Katrina — but in a different way.

Katrina and the waves

So it’s a total disaster in New Orleans. Three levees are breached, one of them has a hole over 150 meters across. 80% of the city is under water up to 6 meters deep. The entire city is without electrical power or water supply. It’s estimated that it will be 9–12 weeks before they can even get rid of the water, much less get the city habitable. Interstate 10 is broken chunks of floating concrete; there’s no route into the city for trucks and other major vehicles.