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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.

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.

Gulfport's Port: Link -- and after: Link.

Also, this building remained somewhat intact, while everything around it is devastated. Link one, Link two.

Tim Holtt says,
I whipped up a quick "mouse over to toggle between before and after satellite pics of Katrina" page just now. It makes it easier to see the (astounding) differences. It's here: Link
- - - - - - - -
Image: This satellite still and animation from NASA’s Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) show the "strong convective development of Hurricane Katrina" on Saturday 08/27, as it moved west through the Gulf of Mexico.


New satellite images of NOLA flooding (USGS, NASA)

Using Google Earth to process Katrina flood damage data

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

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.

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: 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 which seems to automatically forward you to for a brief period and then, oddly, to

There's also the fascinating 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 as well as and I've sent a phony email to this person hoping to get a response and further identify them.

Maybe this info can be of some help to somebody with more resources or know-how than I. I'm just so disgusted that, not even after, but during such an insane tragedy, somebody would be attempting to profit off this. I would love nothing more for them to quickly be called out publicly on their actions.

Reader comment: Andrew says,
Now while I don't doubt that the sites being mentioned are terrible scams perpetuated by evil people, just because someone happens to have a non-white-American name like Moon doesn't imply that people who are not white americans won't care about what's happening, and wouldn't want to help in any way they could.

Beth Goza's Second Life Primer

 Blog Bridge2 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

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)

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

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.

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.

Giant South American centipede found in London

 Us.I2.Yimg.Com P Ap 20050831 Capt.Lon80608311303.Britain Lon806A 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

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:
Scispoof-1 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)

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:
OnebitMerging 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)

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. First, in the 1950s and early 1960s, the scientific parameters of clinical trials shifted to necessitate randomized controlled trials, which the Saskatchewan researchers had failed to construct. Second, as LSD became increasingly associated with student riots, antiwar demonstrations, and the counterculture, governments intervened to criminalize the drug, restricting and then terminating formal medical research into its potential therapeutic effects.

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. Can you help me? (flyingrobot at
Anyone have ideas on exactly how individuals who wish to -- people with experience repairing, maintaining, building communications systems, for instance -- can donate expertise?

Some companies are sorting out ways to assist, via public agencies and aid groups. Larry Williamson says:

My employer (F4W) has been called upon to provide a satellite uplink with voip capabilities in the vacinity of New Orleans (we are still waiting on exact deployment instructions). We utilize network hardware from various vendors and have a suite of mesh networking enabled software and hardware setups, including video surveillance and incident communication tools. We provided relief to the authorities during the aftermath of hurricane Charley ( Link ) and now we are going to lend a helping hand with that of Katrina.
It would sure be great if those of us whose lives weren't shot to hell by the disaster could coordinate ways of pooling tech knowledge resources to assist. I'll update this post as I can, as suggestions come in.

Reader comment: Erik V. Olson says,

People want to help. That's good. The problem is they often can, but they think they can. And, in the end, all they really do is get in the way.

The single best thing Joe Geek can do is give cash. Not stuff, cash. Cash is portable, fast, and useful. Everything else has problems -- even if it is something they really and truly need, because it isn't there, and people and resources are needed to get it there.

The canonical example: Bottled water. Something otherwise useless that is critical in this sort of emergency. So you give a few flats to the ARC. Well, you bought them at retail, and now, the ARC has to put them on a truck (which costs money) and ship them down there (which cost money, and time.)

Let's say you give them $20 instead. The ARC notes that they need water. So, they call a bottler in a city close to, but not affected by, the storm. They get wholesale or cost prices, as opposed to retail. For the same amount of money, they get far more water, far closer to where they need to be. In six hours, you're delivering your flats to the local ARC office. In six hours with cash, they're handing water to people who desperately need it.

Finally, of course, if what they really need is food, your flats of water aren't helpful, but your cash is. So, the lesson:

1) Give cash. That's the best thing you can do from your home.

2) Stay the hell away from New Orleans. Seriously. They're ordering everyone out, that includes you. Do not go.

3) If you are trained to do rescue work, they have almost certainly called you by now. If not, check in with your local org -- records and such get lost, and they may have missed you.

4) If you really insist, go to your *local* American Red Cross office and talk to them. If, in fact, they do need a skill you have, they'll put you with the people you need to know, and start the wheels moving. The single biggest thing the ARC does in disasters is routing solutions to problems.

5) If you have supplies, not cash, you can talk to the local office, but realize that the cost of shipping your supplies may make them worse off then just buying them closer. If you have supplies *and* shipping -- and we're talking trucks, not FedEx, -- then call the local ARC, and talk to them, and if they need what they have, they'll put you in touch with the people who need it, who can arrange how to get it to them.

In general, when they need something, they need lots of it, either in one place or put into one place so they can easily distribute at need. One satellite phone isn't that helpful, esp. if they have to figure out how to make it work. A thousand phones, ready to go, however, is.

6) If they really need what you have to offer, and you are one of the few who can provided it, they've probably called you by now.

7) If you want to help in the future, start working with rescue orgs now. If you haven't been trained in general rescue procedures, your not nearly as helpful. Think of it as backups -- you can't help New Orleans now, but there will be other bad days, and if you've done the classwork and drills, and kept in touch, then you will be one of the people they need -- and they'll call you when they need you. It may not be as elegant as network support -- but right now, they don't care about TCP/IP. They care about getting people out of the floodwaters, and plugging the holes in the levees.

Reader comment: Brenda VonAhsen says,
As this WaPo story suggests, FEMA is no longer in the natural disaster business. And while I've heard reports on the MSM about a government "response" that appears to be mostly related to search and rescue. I think it will be important to watch and see if there is any response from FEMA beyond rescuing survivors. Questions to ask: Are only state and private resources involved in rescue and later, in cleanup and rebuilding? All I hear is talk about making refief funds available. When we had flooding in Fargo/Grand Forks a few years ago, FEMA set up trailers for those made homeless from the floods. To evacuate thousands of people why weren't rail lines used before Katrina hit? Could they be used to transport survivors to those now empty military bases in the south? They'd make excellent refugee camps. Where are the military helicopters? Perhaps I missed seeing them on TV. Surely not every single one is in Iraq? What exactly are the parameters that FEMA operates under now? In the future, what can we can expect in the way of help from the government? Are the states on they're own now when it comes to natural disasters? Why?
Reader comment: Elizabeth says,
NPR has a list of organizations that need funds and volunteers for hurricane relief. I'd also recommend checking VolunteerMatch if a volunteer has a specific location in mind they want to help.
Reader comment: Bala Pitchandi says,
Members of the TsunamiHelp blog & wiki and other noble people around the world have assembled to put together the KatrinaHelp Wiki where we are gathering information about the aid agencies, helpline numbers and disaster related information. More importantly, people are pouring us with information about how they can help. We also have received requests from people who need help.
Reader comment: Vaughn says,
This site might be what you were looking for in terms of tech pros. Some sites in the sidebar to the right are looking for nerds to help get them off the ground for Katrina, and the main site is taking donations as well.
Reader comment: Angus says,
Craigslist seems to be playing a very important role as information clearinghouse, connecting the missing with the searching, and it becomes more valuable the more people who are made aware of it.
Reader comment: Patrick says,
[My school,] Georgia Tech, is hosting many refugees from Tulane. We've got the Student Center packed with students and from what I was able to glean, we're giving them food coupons to use on campus. Students are rising and beginning to work on fundraisers and other ways to help them.

The school president sent out an email about it saying that we'd be hosting them until they contacted their family and figured out when and how they could get home. He also noted some of them may be here for a while considering international travel and such.

I wish I could go and offer manual labor or something but I know for now that's not possible until the situations calm down.

Reader comment: Susie Bright says,
I live in Santa Cruz, which went thru the bad earthquake in 89. People here HATE the Red Cross, they scoff at them, because there were so many scandals and corruptions involved with their "efforts." It's like the whole county hates their guts. There's a great desire to help an organizaiton with integrity, and I wonder if you can figure out who that is.
Reader comment: Charlie Lindahl says,
This page directs people to UU (Unitarian Universalist) churches in the affected areas. Here's the list for Lousiana. Specific help is being asked for, such as food & water donations, and also for workers to help in the cleanup efforts. The Baton Rouge church site is one example: Link. In general, in answer to the question "how do I find out how to help?" I recommend surfing for church-related resources (not limited just to UU).
Reader comment: Arun says,
For the most part what's needed right now is not tech help, but raw labor. Anyone wanting to help out can just show up at the Red Cross here or at [Louisiana State University]'s Pete Maravich center [in Baton Rouge] and they'll be put to work. Here's a link from the local newspaper's website.
Reader comment: Rich Kulawiec says,
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 scheduled is being cleared through December.)

Communications are going to be a serious issue for these refugees; for example, even those that 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 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?

Reader comment: James says,
Responding to a comment about military helicopters. I'm currently at Naval Station Ingleside, in South Texas. Over the weekend the amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan, was in route to our base for a port call. Instead, they were diverted to ride out Katrina in the gulf, standing by for possible relief efforts. Early Monday morning as Katrina was hitting, HM-15, a mine-countermeasures helicopter Squadron from Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, flew personnel and relief supplies out the Bataan and immediately started assisting in rescue operations. Currently there are 3 other large ships from the east coast en route to the Gulf area for relief operations. They may not be on television, but the Navy is actively involved.


watch out for Katrina aid scam websites.

Katrina aid idea: create cybercafe/free voip phone center at Astrodome?

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. 400 are on their way from Houston after being booted from hotels, either for lack of money or - unconfirmed, but overheard - to make room for people with reservations. A lot of plans, from before the storm hit but after the evacuation orders were made, called for gradually moving evacuees closer to New Orleans as time passed. However, many of our evacuees here aren't just looking for shelter – they're asking for jobs. Those mostly lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and with N.O. gone, there's no more paychecks.

These people may never go back, no matter what's done to rebuild.

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 address is a replica of the homepage. Its incredible to see how affected "the grid" really is.

Hundreds of 3D models of buildings offers a free collection of "hundreds of free 3D walkthough architectural computer models." Link

LSU press release for NOLA refugees

Daniel says,
I am a longtime reader of boingboing and a student employee at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, where I work as a dispatcher.

If anybody feels they can contribute some help towards the Katrina recovery efforts, including use of boats, etc, please call the Office of Emergency Preparedness at 225-925-7500.

Also if you're in the Baton Rouge Metro area and can lend some assistance, please stop by the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which has been converted into a triage for refugees. If you feel you can lend a helping hand here, please call 225-219-0821. Thanks to all those who can assist.


Katrina's impact on communications infrastructure: roundup

Here's a quick roundup of some of reports around the web about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the region's IT systems. Landline, cell, and electrical systems in the area have been devastated.

Snip from a NetworkWorld story on incoming tech aid:

The Red Cross tomorrow expects to begin deploying a host of systems it will need, including satellite telephones, portable satellite dishes, specially equipped communications trucks, high- and low-band radio systems, and generator-powered wireless computer networks, said Jason Wiltrout, a Red Cross network engineer.

Nine specially designed Ford Excursion sport utility trucks, dubbed Emergency Communications Response Vehicles (ECRV), include various radio systems that allow communications on a wide range of frequencies across disaster areas, Wiltrout said. The vehicles haveVery Small Aperture Terminal generator-equipped satellite dishes that can help establish communications in the absence of working phone lines and cell phone towers.

Each of the ECRVs also has 10 VoIP satellite phones and at least 10 wireless laptops, as well as a selection of portable, tripod-mounted satellite dishes used for communications after the storm's winds have eased.


Snip from an Orlando Sentinel article about damage to two NASA sites:

Hurricane Katrina damaged two NASA facilities on the Gulf Coast Monday, casting doubt on the space shuttle's chances of launching in March. The Michoud Assembly Facility east of New Orleans and the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., both were located along the main swath of the storm's devastation. No casualties were reported and no buildings were destroyed at either site.

Snip from a PC World story about cellular service failure and recovery efforts:

Patrick Kimball, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, said the floodwaters now pouring into the city from nearby Lake Pontchartrain have made a bad situation worse. (...) Flooding in New Orleans is what's having the most disruptive effects on cell phone network repairs, because the hardware is still submerged under feet of water, Kimball said. Power for the cellular service would not be as big an issue because some 90 percent of the cell phone towers and other equipment in the area have their own backup generators. The floodwaters are also affecting land-based fiber-optic telephone lines and systems used by other companies, further complicating efforts to get communications back into service, he said.

Here's an NPR story about ham radio operators helping in rescue and recovery efforts: Link (streaming radio segment in Real and Windows)

A Hollywood Reporter story looks at tech challenges for news reporters covering the story on site: Link.

This New York Times story examines efforts to keep newspaper production going in affected locales, by turning to the web: Link

Reader comment: Mike says,

The latest news would seem to indicate that the Michoud Assembly plant, where they build the big booster tanks, is fine.

Job #1 for America's Attorney General: porn, not terrorism

Snip from story:
When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Link (via politech)

Jack Kirby Museum

The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center, honoring the comic illustration legend, has officially launched online. It's in the early stages, but I'm excited about the possibilities.
 Media Marvel Crop-1 The Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center is organized exclusively for educational purposes; more specifically, to promote and encourage the study, understanding, preservation and appreciation of the work of Jack Kirby by:

* illustrating the scope of Kirby's multi-faceted career,
* communicating the stories, inspirations and influences of Jack Kirby,
* celebrating the life of Jack Kirby and his creations, and
* building understanding of comicbooks and comicbook creators.

To this end, the Museum will sponsor and otherwise support study, teaching, conferences, discussion groups, exhibitions, displays, publications and cinematic, theatrical or multimedia productions....

The Kirby Museum's long-term plans include a major travelling retrospective in 2007, a documentary, and more.
Link (via MAKE: Blog)

Email attributed to NOLA rescue worker; economics of disaster

My friend Ned Sublette passes along an email attributed to a rescue worker in New Orleans. Ned says:
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number -- 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out.

White per capita income in Orleans parish, 2000 census: $31,971. Black per capita: $11,332. Median *household* income in B.W. Cooper (Calliope) Housing Projects, 2000: $13,263.

The email attributed to a rescue worker reads:

There are dead animals floating in the water, pets left behind. Surely people thought they would be back to collect the pets. Not so. The rescuers smell like gas when they come back in; there's gas in all of the water that consumes the area. Fires are burning all over the place. Our teams are tired and they are thirsty and they are hungry. And they have a place to sleep and water to drink and food to eat. I can only imagine how the people without these "luxuries" are feeling right now.

Each night will be a race against time. When night falls, people can't get picked up from roofs, the rescuers can't chop into people's roofs to check the attics for anyone alive or for anyone dead (sadly, there are dead). At night we can't see power lines we can't see obstacles, we can't see any of the things that will bring down a helicopter or pose a danger to boats rescuers.

One of the teams came in today after having been out for hours at a time. One particular rescuer went straight to a corner and collapsed into tears. I went directly to him and just held his hand. What else could I do? I said nothing. He said it all. They lowered him 26 times and he pulled 26 people to safety. He wants to be back out there but there are mandatory rest periods. His tears are tears of frustration.

Entire teams are working on nothing but evacuating the hospitals. All four of the major hospitals are beginning to flood. Critical patients have to get out or surely they will be lost. Generators cannot run forever; that's just the way it is. There are limited facilities to take those that are rescued and those that need to be evacuated. Anything that leaves by air leaves by helicopter. There are no runways for planes that aren't under water. Only one drivable way in and out.

Water everywhere and more keeps coming. Until they can do something about the three levees that are broken, more water will come and more water will kill. The water poses major health threats. Anyone with even a small open cut is prone to infection. Anyone who touches this water and touches his eyes, nose or mouth without find a way to "clean" himself first will be sick with stomach problems before long. It's bad and it's getting worse. It's not going to be anything better than devastating for days or weeks at best.

I wish I could tell you that I'll check in again soon. I can't. I don't know when my next message will get out. We'll be leaving where we are within just an hour or so.

Image of flood victim in New Orleans from shows "rainbow effect" of fuel and oily contaminants on flood water surface. (Thanks, Melissa)

Black people loot, white people find?

Flickr user dustin3000 uploads two similar news photos that show flood victims in New Orleans wading in chest-deep water. In each, a person appears to be dragging a bag or box or two of food or beverages.

The images were shot by different photographers, and captioned by different photo wire services. The Associated Press caption accompanying the image with a black person says he's just finished "looting" a grocery store. The AFP/Getty Images caption describes lighter skinned people "finding" bread and soda from a grocery store. No stores are open to sell these goods.

Perhaps there's more factual substantiation behind each copywriter's choice of words than we know. But to some, the difference in tone suggests racial bias, implicit or otherwise.

Link to comparison, and here are the originals: one, two. (Thanks, Howard)

Reader comment: oboreruhito says, "1.) AP has consistently named all people stealing items as looters.

2.) Some grocery stores had been occupied by police, who were taking food, drinks and essentials and distributing them to people. Then again, some cops were looting outright, as well, and others were trying to stop it all."

Snip from Times-Picayune news story:

Law enforcement efforts to contain the emergency left by Katrina slipped into chaos in parts of New Orleans Tuesday with some police officers and firefighters joining looters in picking stores clean. At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced over the radio.

Reader comment: Amid says,

I'd like to refute the reader comment that AP has consistently named everybody stealing items "looters." This is an AP photo of a white guy "looking through his shopping bag." ...coming out of a store with a broken window.
Update: More discussion on DailyKos: Link (thanks, True Blue) Reader comment: Tiffany B. Brown
Something else to remember about the Associated Press: A lot of what comes out of the AP is from its member news organizations. Bill Feig (who took this photo), is a photographer for the Baton Rouge Advocate. Dave Martin (who took this AP photo) is an actual AP employee. I don't know how much editing the AP does of cutlines (captions) before they're sent over the wire, but that could explain any inconsistencies in language about looters.

NOLA's Times-Picayune distributed online only

The New Orleans newspaper is (AFAIK) for the first time in its history *only* printing online. Its offices have been abandoned, and there are no means of printing a paper edition. These reporters have been doing an astounding job of covering an unfathomably large, complex, horrible series of events.

I've heard a number of friends -- including displaced pals -- say that the story unfolding in New Orleans feels to them a lot like 9/11. This was the largest national disaster we'd ever seen in America. It changed New York, and the country, forever. In both, great human suffering. But on 9/11, two buildings that had become an iconic part of a great American city disappeared. Now, it's as if an entire city is disappearing.


As Jerry Rayes piloted his boat down St. Claude Avenue, just past the Industrial Canal, the eerie screams that could barely be heard from the roadway grew louder as, one by one, faces of desperate families appeared on rooftops, on balconies and in windows, some of them waving white flags.

(...) A woman screamed as Rayes boated by: "Hey! Damn! Hey!" "You can’t save everybody," he said, as he passed street signs barely visible above the water along with scores of felled trees and downed power lines. "That’s all we heard for hours this morning."

As he motored toward St. Claude Avenue, which looked like a bayou rather than a thoroughfare, his boat passed Fats Domino’s pink-and-yellow-trimmed house on Caffin Avenue. About a half a dozen men screamed from the balcony, flailing their hands for help. He passed them by.

"What am I going to do? I got to go to the parish," he said. "There’s way too many people out there and to few boats."

Link to "Flooding wipes out two communities"

Reader comment: oboreruhito says,

You were absolutely right about the Times-Picayune. The last time they didn't publish a regular edition was during the Civil War. Here's an AP story on what media outlets did to respond: Link

Using Google Earth to process Katrina flood damage data

BB reader Shawn is among several who've written in to suggest that Google Earth could be used to collaboratively analyze aerial image data for Katrina damage zones, and map out which areas have been flooded, how badly.

Part of the idea here is to help residents who've been displaced. They want to know if their homes are flooded, but can't get direct ground survey reports because, well, there is no ground in a lot of places right now. Only water.

Shawn says:

I'm trying to get people who use Google Earth to start making image overlays of all the flood images that are out there.

Here's one that I did earlier to demonstrate: Link. The one I did isn't great, but it works. If enough people do these, a better understanding of the damage is in New Orleans could be reached. Making an overlay in Google Earth is pretty easy:

> Add
> Image Overlay

Enter a URL of a Filename of the image.

It will load, then you just drag and drop, reshape and mold, the image over the top of the picture Google earth has of the object.

If these folks put it on the keyhole bbs, other google earth users can add them together, and peer edit the others.

Link to this experiment, and Link to Google Earth.

Blogger and BB reader Kathryn Cramer has an interesting post on her blog exploring this same topic: Link (there are many updates on her post since this morning, when I linked to it from BB).

Another reader points to for a file with a number of flood image overlays all in one, with updates coming.

Aid groups dealing with animals in Katrina hit zone

Countless pets and domestic animals have been also displaced by Katrina. Even apart from humane concerns, some have pointed out that large numbers of dead and dying animals present a massive disease hazard. Here are two of the groups addressing this problem: Humane Society of the United States and Noah's Wish. Both are seeking monetary donations to purchase equipment and provide materials & support for relief crews. (Thanks, Chris Maytag)

2002 PBS story on New Orleans ecology and storms

Boing Boing reader Josh says,
About three years ago I remember watching Bill Moyer's NOW on PBS and listening to a facinating piece on the threat New Orleans faced from a major hurricane. Then, last year Ivan had a near miss and I was reminded of the program.

Now that Katrina has hit, I went back and read the transcript. It is eeriely prophetic. The most interesting piece is near the end, where they link the increased exposure to major storms to the levees designed to protect.

The Mississippi delta has for years been a major buffer to storms as it quickly reduces the power of most storms. However, as levees are built to protect the city from flooding, they have funneled water away that is essential in keeping the delta healthy. In the past decade the delta has been reduced significantly in size. Thus major storms have a mouch larger impact when they hit the land.


1864 "Freedom Primer" for slaves scanned and posted

Here's a Flickr set of "The gospel of slavery: a primer of freedom," a book with engravings published in 1864. It takes the form of a series of poems about freedom and slavery, and is purely marvellous. When I see stuff like this, I sometimes get a thrill to my toes as I realize that practically every document of this vintage will soon be on the web and only a quick search away. Link (Thanks, Andi!)

Library "lends out" junkies, poor people, asylum seekers, gay people

A Dutch library is "lending out people" -- volunteers from outside of the Dutch mainstream (poor people, asylum seekers, gay people, etc) who will go sit in a cafeteria with library patrons, have a cup of coffee and chat with them:
Mr Krol, who said he was inspired by a similar scheme in Sweden, has already filled many of his volunteer slots, and hopes to launch the project next month.

He said: "I've got several gay men, a couple of lesbian women, a couple of Islamic volunteers, I've got a physically handicapped woman, and a woman who has been living on social security benefits for many years in real poverty. "

Mr Krol said he was especially keen to find members of Holland's small Roma gipsy community after a recent attack on two gipsy families in the city of Enschede.

Under the scheme, photographs and short biographies of the volunteers will appear in the library, and on its website. Library users who wish to take a person out can apply for an appointment. Mr Krol said he had not cleared the scheme with his municipal bosses.

Link (Thanks, Paul!)