Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rumors and realities



Sources:

Michael Fumento, Katrina and the Price of Panic, Townhall, October 13, 2005
Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2, Induction, 1-12

Disruptions

Stats and reformation

Blinking

Voodoo

Sabbath

The Return

Elephants and Alligators

Avian flu



Sources:

Mike Davis, Playing chicken with avian flu, SFGate, October 16, 2005
Pronchau & Parker, The Waiting Plague [H5N1 / avian flu], Vanity Fair, Nov 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Value of life


Which is more depressing: that our kind used others of our kind as human sandbags almost a century ago, or that our kind abandoned others of our kind to their fates in locked cells while, as the researcher from Human Rights Watch described, floodwaters rose toward the ceiling, just this last month?


Sources:

David Remnick, High Water, New Yorker, 26 September 2005
Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters, Human Rights Watch, September 22, 2005

The music


I'm glad that Jim Hoagland tried for this story -- one of the hardest stories in the world to write, because hardship has to have penetrated the writer to the point where the writer's language sings it. Delighted, too, that those bluesy guitar riffs are back in NOLA.

As for the song that will be sung a century from now...


Sources:

Jim Hoagland, A Song of Sorrow -- and Endurance, WP, October 2, 2005
Wolfman brings the blues, and hope, to New Orleans, Reuters, October 1, 2005

Journalists and emotion

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Grounded and ungrounded


SO much depends on the sacred.

The spooked soldiers are, well, unprepared for the terrain, culturally speaking ; )

Come to that, we can't in fact read their chaplain's mind, and the thoughts the reporter imputes to him may very well be off base -- but the issue of "bringing light" to a city of voodoo and cannibals remains.

How much more grounded is Florida Richardson's declaration that God's will cannot be escaped! We cannot in all likelihood know whether her determination to remain was a successful or a failing strategy... but at the very least, its courage rings true and human.


Sources:

Poor New Orleans Neighborhood Floods Again, AP, 23 September, 2005
New Orlean's Blair Dunce Project at BlogCritics, 24 September, 2005


Watch: the video clip

Replays


Whether it's a second hurricane or an earlier (and ongoing) war, it's all a matter of building and rebuilding. Play it again, Sam!

And that means what, exactly? All around us we see the beginnings of the outlines of a connected world -- and what we most need is some insight into how to understand -- to recognize the patterning in that!

Hint: the pattern we are looking for is a pattern of cascading vulnerabilities...
Sources:

Poor New Orleans Neighborhood Floods Again, AP, 23 September, 2005
Juan Cole, Why we Have to get the Troops Out, Informed Comment, Sept 25, 2005

Red Team for hurricanes


The Red Team's job is to devise the kinds of scenarios which intelligence analysts might miss -- blindsiders, out of the box affairs -- but the quality of pproduct such teams can produce is dependent not only on the brightness and diversity of the team members, but also on the kind of facilitation they receive when meeting. As a celebrated Stanford demonstration shows, the best brainstorming often occurs when inhibitions have been lowered, and it is not uncommon for the first clue to a breakthrough insight is thrown out as a joke, and only when a second participant picks up on it and takes it seriously is it seen for what it is.

The report issued by the DHS is enirely lacking in signs of creativity. There are no quirky hypotheses, nothing one would not expect, nothing not previously present within the box. My question: is this because the neat and relevant details have been sucked out of the presentation during write up? or because there were none?

Either way, it's the outliers among the ideas considered that are of greatest importance -- and leaving them in the final document is crucial, since they may trigger further ideas in other readers... but seemingly we're a long way from understanding real creative thinking as yet.

Robert "Bear" Bryant, one-time deputy director of the FBI, quoted some sound advice he once received:

Don't kill your mavericks. They might save your life someday, and they're the ones that will always have the great ideas. So try to take care of them.
The thing is, not only are your mavericks important -- so are their maverick ideas!


Sources:

John Mintz, Homeland Security Employs Imagination, WP, June 18, 2004
How Terrorists Might Exploit a Hurricane, IAIP, DHS, September 15, 2004

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Perspectives

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Belief Relief?

The ice next time

Rebuild V: balance


There's nothing wrong with the gold rush, nothing wrong with the cabbage -- that's how we're primed to work -- but how refreshing to read Quindlen's comment, nonetheless, espousing a balance between Joel Garreau's realism and Naomi Klein's ideals (see Rebuild II)...


Sources:

Naughton and Hosenball, Cash and 'Cat 5' Chaos, Newsweek, September 26, 2005
Anna Quindlen, Don't Mess with Mother, Newsweek, September 18, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Human Subtleties

Long Snake Moan


These two quotes come from Ventura's superb essay on the voodoo and New Orleans roots of blues, jazz, and rock, which I believe I first read in his column in the LA Weekly, and was then delighted to find in his sadly out-of-print essay collection, Shadow Dancing in the USA


Source:

Michael Ventura's Hear that Long Snake Moan

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lyric impulse


This one isn't directly about New Orleans / Katrina, but touches on a little-mentioned but enormously significant key to our response to disaster... the lyric voice.


Sources:

James Traub, The Statesman [Bono], NYT Magazine, September 18, 2005

Samuel R Delany, Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones.

*


Thanks to Tom Whitmore.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rebuild IV: lessons

Ripples


These ripples are seemingly irrelevant, seemingly insignificant, seemingly unimportant -- but they represent the way in which events trigger cascading effects that ripple across systems and disciplines, often in ways that we are unprepared for and blindsided by. Their importance, significance, relevance, lies in the lesson they can each us about the intricately interwoven nature of the world around us, and our corresponding interdependence with matters to which we tend to turn a blind eye.

It is not the online gamers or telecommuters that are the issue here, but our capacity to plan and to control in a world which continually surprises us.


Sources:

Amit R. Paley, Telecommuting Interest Soars, WP, September 14, 2005
Mike Musgrove, Virtual Games Create A Real World Market, WP, Sept 17, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rebuild III

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rebuild II


New Orleans DoubleQuotes #50.

Realism vs Idealism?

I don't think so, not any more -- because we're coming to realize that idealism is now a survival value, no longer a luxury.

What we have here are two voices, or rather two choirs, one of which tends to drown out the other... and both of which deserve to be heard and taken into account in the decision-making process. We need a new view of practicality and sustainability, and a corresponding new mode of evaluation in complex decision-making of this kind -- one which views idealism as an inspiration for, not a fanciful distraction from, reality.


Sources:

Joel Garreau, A Sad Truth: Cities Aren't Forever, WP, September 11, 2005
Naomi Klein, Let the People Rebuild New Orleans, The Nation, September 26, 2005

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Question: when?

Being Presidential



Sources:

Evan Thomas, How Bush Blew It, Newsweek, issue of 19 September, 2005
Carl Bernstein, Watergate's Last Chapter, Vanity Fair, October 2005

It's never that simple


Barbara Bush's off-the-cuff remark was something of a gaffe, no doubt – but it's still interesting to catch a glimpse of the complex ways in which a disaster can play out in human lives. There's some truth in Barbara Bush's observation for Keith Conrad, it seems -- but not enough to buy Oscar Jackson's parents a new home...


Sources:

Barbara Bush Calls Evacuees Better Off, NYT, September 7, 2005
Anne Hull, In Rural Texas, Blessings and Culture Shock, WP, September 11, 2005

Gatemouth RIP


Yesterday evening I heard that Gatemouth had died, afer posting an except about him in a DoubleQuote a day or two ago -- and that made me very sad. Not that I knew him, not that I knew his music, but because that brief news clip about the difficulties he was having at 81 with cancer and emphysema, finding refuge in the chaos, had touched me deeply: the artist weathering the storm, perhaps. And now here, two days after his "escape" -- it had caught up with him.

I found that extraordinarily moving, perhaps because he'd passed through the lens of my own workings.


Sources:

[DoubleQuotes] Blues
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown dies at 81, Seattle Times, September 12, 2005

Rebuild I

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blues

Origins

Navy Pilots

Thursday, September 08, 2005

No photos

Theodicy III: details


Notice the refinements on the basic theodicy narrative here: this doesn't have to happen... and this is not a judgment, this is a curse...


Sources:

Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans: God's Judgment For Gaza?
Michael H. Brown, Oh New Orleans, shed ye the darkness or face disaster, Sept 2004

Theodicy II: Spectator

Theodicy I: NY Times

Israeli responses

Firefighters


Two quotes from the same article -- not unheard of, but unusual around these parts...


Source:

Frustrated: Fire crews to hand out fliers for FEMA, SL Tribune, 6 September, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Barbed

Hands still clasped

Bipartisan

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Intelligence

Two Critiques

Potemkin?

Humvees


Insurgency seems like overkill for New Orleans, given what we're going through in Iraq, no?

Sources:

Troops begin combat operations in New Orleans, Army Times, September 02, 2005
Army Seeks Boost in Up-armored Humvee Production, ANS, Dec. 11, 2004