Thursday, September 22, 2005


Cartoon Physics on new TV series "E-Ring"

Ok, so I tuned in to watch the new NBC program "E-Ring" last night and while it was better than I was expecting, I was on the floor laughing near the end of the show when they used some "Cartoon Physics" (you know, like when Wyle Coyote hangs in the air briefly as he runs off a cliff before putting up a sign and then falling....). Some minor spoilers if you haven't seen it yet.

So a secret agent is being rescued from China by a US Nuclear submarine and a Seal team and just before the seals make contact, the guys back in the Pentagon watching the operation notice that a Chinese satellite has just changed course to fly directly over the site. Now, the graphic they showed with the satellite moving along its orbit shows the satellite making a sharp left turn with what must have been at least a 10 degree orbit plane change! If the Chinese can do that with their satellites, we definitely are in trouble, because that would take a very large rocket motor on board! Secondly, apparently they think you have to be straight overhead to get whatever reconn data they would need to expose the US Sub inside of their international boundaries. Also, apparently they think we are actively tracking every satellite in real time so we would notice such orbit changes so quickly. And I didn't even analyze what they showed for the orbit speed of the object, but I have a feeling it was speeding up and slowing down to fit the drama of the scene...... Typical Hollywood.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Blame for the post-Katrina disaster

Both the mayor of New Orleans, the Governor of Louisianna and numerous celebrities and politicians have been quick to assign the blame for the awful conditions in New Orleans after Kratrina blew through the city on the President and the federal government and it's "slow" response, it is clear that most of the blame actually rests squarely on the mayor and governors shoulders. The Wall Street Journal has a very insightful article which lays out the case against these two apparently incompetent public officials. They apaprently didn't even impliment the city and states plans for evacuation and also did not learn from disaster drills carried out long before Katrina approached the city. From previous experience and from these drills, it was apparent long before the storm hit that evacuating to the Superdome was asking for a huminatitarian disaster with a lack of basic living needs for any duration. And failing to evacuate the poor from a city that lies below sea level, forcing many folks to fend for themselves during and after the storm was an issue that had been well identified in the past. Mayor Nagin failed these people, many of whom died in the storm and resulting floods, by not deploying the cities buses and school buses to the task of evacuating those who could not transport themselves out of the danger areas. Gov. Blanco also failed to initiate the call for complete evacuation until prompted by the President himself who also declared an emergency for the area before the order was issued that would have allowed for substantial federal assistence, free for the asking.

Trying to deflect blame to the federal government is obviously an attempt to keep the public from recognizing who we really ought to blame for the disasterous aftermath of Katrina. While we cannot stop a hurricane from impacting an area, there are procedures at the city and state level which can minimize the deaths and post-storm disaster and many of those procedures were not implimented in this case and we are seeing exactly what many pre-Katrina warnings predicted coming true in a very unfortunate way.

And by the way, who was the idiot who decided to build a city below sea level?!

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Katrina aftermath

What a terrible disaster. A hurricane wiping whole towns off the map. Levees breaking causing flooding of an entire city. Looting, lack of food and water and no power and sewage. Terrible conditions for those who remain. And it will get worse before it gets better.

I hear people - politicians, the press and so on - complaining that the government has not done enough. While I agree that enough has not been done, I also believe that we could not have done much more than was done. It takes time to mobilize resources and get people and supplies into the devistated areas. Bridges and roads are out or unpassable. Whole areas lie under water. I see much of the criticism as political maneuvering, such as the comments of people like Jesse Jackson (see my previous entry...).

I don't know what I would do in the same situation and I hope no one ever has to go through what the folks of the Gulf Coast have gone through in the past week and what they will have to endure for the coming months as the recovery progresses and rebuilding happens. We will have to learn from this and try to prevent much of the disaster from happening again to the same or other areas. But Catagory 4 hurricanes are going to cause a lot of damage, no matter what we do. The Earth is not an intrinsically friendly place (though much friendlier than Venus would be!).

Friday, September 02, 2005


Jesse Jackson is a racist...

...and an idiot. In an article entitled "Jackson Blasts Bush Over Katrina Aid", we hear Jackson turning the issue of relief to the folks affected by Katrina into a race issue with statements like:
"There's a historical indifference to the pain of poor people and black people."

He also belittles the relief efforts with no apparent clue about what is involved in them. I don't know what he expects, but mobilizing resources cannot happen in an instant - he and others who are overly critical of the relief efforts apparently have unrealistic expectations of such efforts. With roads and bridges out and flooded, how are we to get such resources into an area of such devistation? In the first days, we have a choice of concentrating on getting resources into the area or just rescuing the survivors in the area. Would he have also decided to retrieve bodies of blacks instead of rescuing the living? I don't see this as a race issue - it is a disaster recovery issue and I don't care what color your skin is or what language you speak, or for that matter, what country you are from - disaster relief takes time and effort, both of which are being invested heavily, proably about as heavily as can be expected given the conditions in the area. So Mr. Jackson, why don't you just shut up and and start helping the victims instead of trying to politicize this event, placing yourself ahead of the very disaster relief that you criticize the President about. Perhaps Mr. Jackson thinks that "god" is a racist since the hurricane apparently targeted an area with a large population of blacks?

Mr. Jackson also claims that:
'the news media has "criminalized the people of New Orleans" by focusing on violence in the city'

I don't see that the news media has focused on the aftermath of Katrina any differently than it has focused on any other events. Look at Iraq or the Middle East - we only hear about the violence, not about the good there. The news is not going out of its way to treat the people of New Orleans badly and indeed we have heard about good amongst the bad. This is a difficult time and no matter how much we do how quickly, to folks like Mr. Jackson, it will never be enough.

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