A tale of two photos: Mississippi Goddamn

caption: President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. (AP Photo/ABC News, Martha Raddatz). Link.

Meanwhile, during those same hours, in Mississippi: Volunteers rescue a family from the roof of their Suburban, which became trapped in floodwaters on US 90 in Bay St. Louis, Miss. (Ben Sklar / AP) August 30, 2005. Read the rest

New Katrina sat pics from NASA; more coming via Google

BB reader Phil Gross says,

Regarding use of Google Earth to overlay near-live damage photos: Satellite photos of Katrina's damage will be available through Google Earth and Google Maps in the next few days. They've scheduled time on five flyovers in the next week. Poeple will at least be able to see the damage for a large part of the area at a fair level of detail. Link
John says,
In this previous Boing Boing post, you included a link to some NASA images of flooding in New Orleans. Here is a link to high resolution images of the Mississippi gulf area from NOAA. From the main page, people should click on the "Index Map" Graphic, from there they can select which part of the state they'd like to see images for. Link
bryan kennedy says,
You might want to keep an eye on NASA's MODIS Rapid Response site. This is where images from TERRA and AQUA come before getting preocessed and geo-rectified. But you might be able to get some images of the NOLA area before they hit the press. You can get very high resolution images here. Link
John Reiser says,
I thought you might be interested in some NOAA aerial photography imagery to match up to Google Maps pre-Hurricane imagery. I'm not from the area, and I think having before and after shots demonstrate the impact of this distaster.

US 90 Bridge before: Link US 90 afterwards: Link.

Bay Saint Louis before: Link. Afterwards: Link.

Read the rest

Katrina aid idea: free net access / voip /cellphones at Astrodome?

Following up on an earlier BB thread about geeks who want to help Hurricane Katrina victims (with cash, tech know-how, gear, hard labor, or organizing skills) reader Rich Kulawiec suggests,
It seems that everyone currently in the New Orleans Superdome -- plus many others -- are going to be moved to the Astrodome...estimates range from 10K to 30K people, with a possible stay of "months" mentioned. The Astrodome's schedule is being cleared through December.

Communications are going to be a serious issue for these refugees; for example, those few who might have their cell phones probably don't have their chargers. And in a month, when their bill goes to their still-underwater house and isn't paid, their service will be cut off.

Suggestion: we the geeks put together and deploy the world's largest cybercafe in the Astrodome.

Granted, Internet access isn't a panacea, but it at least would provide a way for these people to communicate. What's needed:

(a) permission from someone in a position to grant permission (b) space+power (c) tables (d) chairs (e) lots and lots of PCs and Macs (f) at least one ISP that provision a pipe into there (g) net infrastructure: routers, cabling, etc. (h) sufficient geek labor to build it.

My guess is that (a) might be the most difficult to come up with. So now what?

BB reader Dan says,
While a VOIP center at the astrodome would be a fun thing to build, maybe cell phones and blackberries would be a better way to actually get people in touch with the people they need to get in touch with.
Read the rest

Liveblog from New Orleans datacenter

Matt Greenslade says,
Someone is blogging inside New Orleans whilst camped up on the 10th floor of a highrise in a data center. There's a webcam feed out onto the street below as well as accounts of looting (people selling looted shoes out on the street) and police movements within the city.
Link Read the rest

Watch out for phony Katrina aid scam websites

Boing Boing reader Simon says,
Regarding the post about helping Katrina survivors - SANS ISC is reporting that there are a number of scams going around about this (via spam), and that these sites look very dodgy: katrinahelp.com katrinarelief.com katrinacleanup.com. They recommend only giving money to recommended charities listed here.
And as good as the intention behind some of the Katrina-missing-people-locator sites may be, I'd also advise proceeding with heightened privacy awareness. Treat any website that asks for your personal data and that of your family members with caution, and know who you're dealing with. It's easy to make dumb decisions when you're afraid and worried about the status of missing pals or loved ones.

Reader comment: Jon Adams says,

In response to the phony Katrina aid scam websites, I found a few things via WHOIS and some Googling.

All the aid sites are registered to somebody named Demon Moon (not exactly the name of somebody looking to aid the disaster relief) located in Yulee, FL. Another site registered to this domain is bosco.us which seems to automatically forward you to rentalink.com/indexpvt.html for a brief period and then, oddly, to 32097.com.

There's also the fascinating rentalink.com where these sites seem to reside which states they "use proprietary automated techniques and software to search for and register generic domain names for websites, portals and client projects."

The email addresses associated with this person (aside from those on the aid site) are demonmoon@usa.com as well as fsbo@YuleeHome.com and FirstCoast@usa.com. I've sent a phony email to this person hoping to get a response and further identify them.

Read the rest

Beth Goza's Second Life Primer

My friend Beth Goza spends a lot of her free time living in Second Life. (Previous post about Beth and Second Life here.) In her first week, Beth bought property, landscaped it, and built her dream home. Now she's created a short video, "Bridge Making," about her experience so far as a Maker in the virtual world. You can watch it via the MAKE: Blog. Link Read the rest

Postal service halts snailmail to zip codes throughout gulf

The US Postal service has suspended all mail delivery "until further notice" to many zip codes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama because of inaccessibility and building destruction from Hurricane Katrina. A regularly updated list is here. (thanks, oboreruhito) Read the rest

BB reader snapshot of mercy boat in SF

Boing Boing reader Sarah Lefton in San Francisco says,
I just snapped this shot of a red cross boat probably bound for New Orleans, where my parents used to live.
Link to full size

Correction: Doug says,

The ship shown in your latest post is the USNS Mercy, a Naval ship based out of San Diego.

Its sister ship, the Comfort, based out of Baltimore, has already been dispatched to the [US] Gulf region. Since this bridge is steaming under the bay bridge in San Francisco, I doubt it's going to the [US] Gulf. Even going through the Panama Canal, it'd be a week or more before the ship would reach the affected area.

Kemp Mullaney, another BB reader in SF, says:
The boat pictured is a Naval Hospital boat that was in dry dock in SF for a retrofit after returning from tsunami relief work in Indonesia. I cycle by the waterfront where the boat was in dry dock and have been checking out the work they were performing. I cannot confirm that it is heading to NOLA, but that would be a good bet.
Vaughn says,
In regards to the photo you posted about the Mercy ship, here's a link to the Wired News article about a photographer stationed on the ship. Link
Luke Hankins says,
Google map of the hospital ship Mercy at her home berth: Link. We stumbled on it a few months ago after having been pointed at this building: Link
Read the rest

Documentary about saucer cult

At Wired News, Kristen Philipkoski reports on a forthcoming documentary "exposé" about the Raelians, a UFO cult most famous for claiming (but not proving) that they made the first human clone in 2002. The Raelians aren't too concerned. From the Wired News article:
...Rare video footage of the group taken at one of its Las Vegas seminars has been spun into an as-yet-unreleased documentary that brings a fresh, critical slant to the Raelians -- replete with allegations that the sect uses sex as a recruitment tool, targeting people most likely to sympathize with its message that aliens populated the world: "Trekkies and whatnot," explained Abdullah Hashem, who taped the group in May as part of a broader, personal investigation of the group. "There are a lot of people (at these seminars) who believe in aliens, and all these beautiful women who will have sex with you even though you're a dork," he said. "And that's why most people were there..." In an interview with Wired News, the Raelians dismissed Hashem's claims as a big misunderstanding. Spokesman Sage Ali said the group has nothing to hide, and is not ashamed of anything the team may have recorded. Raelian theology states that aliens long ago visited the Earth and populated it through cloning. The religion also teaches that nudity and sexuality are pure and beautiful, and that if people were more in touch with their feminine sides, there would be less violence in the world.
Link Read the rest

New satellite images of NOLA flooding (USGS, NASA)

Pat Scaramuzza, Calibration Analyst with SAIC at the USGS National Center in SD tells Boing Boing:
Satellite pictures of the NOLA area are just coming out. We've put our Landsat 7 pics on our image gallery (Link).

NASA has MODIS images up (Link).

None of these are full resolution, but they might help anyone who is trying to make a flood map of the affected area.

Read the rest

Giant South American centipede found in London

A London man heard what he thought was a mouse scurrying around behind his television. What he found was a 9-inch-long venemous giant centipede. He caught the Scolopendra gigantea in a plastic container and brought it to Britain's Natural History Museum. Apparently, this representative of the world's largest centipede species likely emigrated from South American aboard a ship. Link Read the rest

American antiScientists stamps

Back in May, I posted about the US Postal Service's cool new American Scientists stamps honoring the likes of Richard Feynman and Barbara McClintock. Responding to the current anti-science tide in this country, Stay Free! has issued their own series of American Scientist stamps. From the Stay Free! Daily post:
While standing in line at the post office, I saw this new series of stamps devoted to American scientists...which is kind of ironic considering how our sciences are now under attack from all corners: from evangelicals to pharmaceutical marketing, educational declines, and funding cuts. It's like singing "Happy Birthday" to a man as he's being taken away on a gurney... And with that we bring you an updated version of American Scientists. (We know God isn't precisely "American," but try telling that to the evangelicals...)
Link (via the f blog) Read the rest

Music device in a CD case

One Bit Music is a circuit packaged in a CD case that plays minimalist glitch electronica. If you're in the NYC area, inventor Tristan Perich will present the technology at the Dorkbot-NYC meeting September 7. From the Dorkbot announcemenet:
Merging his interests in physical computing and electronic music, artist and composer Tristan Perich will give a presentation on his recent project, One Bit Music. Electronics programmed and packaged in a standard CD jewel case by Perich play minimal glitch/dance music when headphones are plugged in. The device is meant to fit into the standard album-based method of music distribution: you will find it along other CDs in a record store and it has different tracks; it will be released by Cantaloupe Music in the upcoming months.
Link (via We Make Money Not Art) Read the rest

History of LSD in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

The latest issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry includes a trip into the roots of psychedelic culture, titled "Flashback: Psychiatric Experimentation With LSD in Historical Perspective." The paper was written by Erika Dyck, a doctoral student in the Department of History at McMaster University in Ontario. From the abstract:
In the popular mind, d-lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) research in psychiatry has long been associated with the CIA-funded experiments conducted by Ewen Cameron at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal, Quebec. Despite this reputation, a host of medical researchers in the post–World War II era explored LSD for its potential therapeutic value. Some of the most widespread trials in the Western world occurred in Saskatchewan, under the direction of psychiatrists Humphry Osmond (in Weyburn) and Abram Hoffer (in Saskatoon). These medical researchers were first drawn to LSD because of its ability to produce a “model psychosis.” Their experiments with the drug that Osmond was to famously describe as a “psychedelic” led them to hypothesize and promote the biochemical nature of schizophrenia. This brief paper examines the early trials in Saskatchewan, drawing on hospital records, interviews with former research subjects, and the private papers of Hoffer and Osmond. It demonstrates that, far from being fringe medical research, these LSD trials represented a fruitful, and indeed encouraging, branch of psychiatric research occurring alongside more famous and successful trials of the first generation of psychopharmacological agents, such as chlropromazine and imipramine. Ultimately, these LSD experiments failed for 2 reasons, one scientific and the other cultural.
Read the rest

Tech pros ask: how can we help with Katrina recovery?

What is unfolding right now throughout the US gulf state region is the largest disaster this country has seen in contemporary history.

Millions of residents have been displaced, countless dead or injured, incalculable property damage.

Those who got out safely don't know when they can return, what they'll return to, or what they'll do next. NOLA friends I've spoken to who sought shelter in nearby towns say that's the hardest part -- not knowing anything.

There is little functioning communications; gas, power, water, and other basic systems are also non functional throughout much of the region. The most basic services that hold urban societies together -- from banking to hospitals to law enforcement -- are in disarray.

A number of engineers and tech-minded types have written in to BB to ask how they can help with technical expertise. Some have unsuccessfully attempted to contact groups like the Red Cross and Salvation Army, both of which are overwhelmed.

Reader Ignatz Sol is among them:

I know that you're not a volunteer organization, but maybe you can help direct me. I'm trying to find an organization who needs people on the ground in any of the affected areas. I live in Atlanta, but can go directly to any location. I can't get through to the Red Cross or Salvation Army and some other aid groups I have talked to will be helping after rescue is over. I'm a mechanical engineer with tools and I know that someone must need people there to help now.
Read the rest

Observations from BB reader in Lake Charles, LA

BB reader oberuhito in Lake Charles, Louisiana says:
Still no reports that the water has stopped rising in much of New Orleans, although I've heard things are draining outside of the "bowl" on the West Bank, as well as around Algiers Point. Gov. Blanco said all refugees in N.O. shelters are definately going to be evacuated, and the Superdome will be evacuated within the next two days. That's at least 20,000 people, with pretty wild estimates ranging from 30,000 to 60,000. Nobody's officially said it, but after failing to patch the breached levee once and losing more water pumps, that's a terrible sign - they may be preparing to abandon the entire city, at least for several weeks.

The word I've been hearing on ideas and plans to patch the levees: choppers dropping huge concrete barriers into the breach, then topping them with 50 2,000-to-3,000 pound sandbags; weighted cargo containers dropped into the breach; and, I'm assuming the last idea, sinking one of those big barges up against the levee wall.

Tulane Univ. Hospital is evacuating by air, using 20 helicopters from their parent company and lifting one or two patients with some staff each trip and carrying them to triage centers outside of the city.

Several hundred patients and staff remain in the hospital at last word; the water's much faster rise, somewhere between 2-to-4 feet per hour, has knocked out their fixed generators, and they're running essential equipment on portable generators.

Here in Lake Charles, our main shelter is full at between 1,700-to-2,000 evacuees.

Read the rest

Tulane U. website becomes emergency blog of sorts

BB reader Eric says,
It seems that the Tulane University website has essentially turned into a blog that has been running since August 26th. As you will see their links to their "normal" homepage no longer work and the emergency.tulane.edu address is a replica of the homepage. Its incredible to see how affected "the grid" really is.
Link Read the rest

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