Six Feet of Water in the Streets of Evangeline

by Kieran Healy on August 28, 2005

“The whole of New Orleans is being evacuated”: as “Hurricane Katrina”: moves toward the coast. It’s been known for a long time that New Orleans could be devastated by a hurricane under just the right (meaning, very, very wrong) circumstances. The city is located in a bowl-shaped depression with water on three sides, and under the “worst-case”: “outcome”:, if it flooded severely it would be tremendously difficult to get rid of the water. There’s a scholarly literature on the danger. “One government report says”:

bq. New Orleans is the most vulnerable major city on the Gulf Coast and perhaps in the entire United States. Had Hurricane Georges not taken a last minute turn to the east in 1998, major portions of New Orleans would have flooded. It would likely have been one of the worst disasters of the century in terms of loss of life and damage. Additionally, Louisiana has extensive infrastructure of oil and gas facilities, chemical plants, and hazardous, industrial and residential landfills. Most of these facilities are in flood prone areas and within the confines of levee systems protecting housing and other structures from flooding. Even in areas where mitigation strategies have been engineered (i.e., levee, drainage, and pumping systems), such designs are unable to capture and control all storm water runoff from occasional extreme rain events.

“Another, from LSU,”:, tries to map the likely range of flooding from a category 2 or 3 storm. It’s not pretty. Hopefully things won’t go so badly, of course. But then again it might be the biggest thing to hit the region since the “Great Mississippi Flood”: of 1927.

_Light Relief Update_: In the “CNN story on this event”:, the mayor of New Orleans is quoted as saying “About 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level, and is protected by a series of levies.” I’m sure our “libertarian friends”: would heartily endorse this statement, but I don’t think the transcript quite conveys the mayor’s meaning.

An para-historical two-fisted tale

by John Holbo on August 28, 2005

Odd googlenews hit of the day.

In the history of the atlantology and classic archaeology and philology it is for the first time made a paleographical and lexicographical study and medieval revision of texts of Plato through the trascripciones of manuscripts and codices written in Greek and Latin. For the first time, the oldest translations of the Timaeus like the one of Chalcidio (Century IV) and the translations to Latin of books of the Timeo and the Critias to the Latin of famous medieval philosophers Marsilio Ficino (s. XV) and Iano Cornarius study and consult in a study on Atlantis (s. XVI).

If you still have doubts, check out the ‘more info’ link at the bottom. First, this reassuring message.


Then … the music.

[As to why I was checking googlenews for info on Plato and Atlantis: mind your own business.]

Reality TV, Iraqi style

by Chris Bertram on August 28, 2005

The NYT has a great story on “how Western-style reality tv is spreading to Iraq”: .

bq. Reality TV could turn out to be the most durable Western import in Iraq. It has taken root with considerably greater ease than American-style democracy. Since spring 2004, when “Materials and Labor” made its debut, a constellation of reality shows has burst onto TV screens across Iraq. True to the genre, “Materials and Labor” has a simple conceit at its heart – Al Sharqiya, an Iraqi satellite network, offers Baghdad residents the chance to have homes that were destroyed by the war rebuilt at no cost to them.

Read the whole thing, as they say.