Katrina and Higher Ed

by Eszter Hargittai on September 2, 2005

Being in academia, I’ve been particularly curious to hear news about colleges and universities in the region. The Chronicle of Higher Education has set up a Katrina Update page. The Forum page has additional information.

Prospects for Decentralized Help

by Kieran Healy on September 2, 2005

Here’s a thought-provoking piece sent to me by Tim McGovern. Centralized assistance (properly organized) has its advantages, decentralized assistance has at least as much potential. I wonder whether this or some similar idea would be workable.

*The Catastrophe the Suburbs Were Invented For*
Timothy McGovern

More than half the US population lives in the suburbs, and I’d be willing to bet (though I don’t have the numbers to back it up) that more than half the US population lives within a day and half drive of New Orleans or Houston (New York City is 1300 miles from New Orleans, Chicago 925 miles, Denver 1200 from Houston)

There’s a long weekend coming up. You’ve got a day and a half to drive to a refugee shelter, pick up a family and bring them home to be your guest for a few weeks or a month.

[click to continue…]

The Drowned and the Saved

by Kieran Healy on September 2, 2005

Alan Schussman takes a first look at the social ecology of the flooded areas of New Orleans:

The flood area has a population of about 380,000. Here’s how it compares to national numbers [from the 2000 census]:

  median HH income % black % poverty % owns home % private trans. % public trans.
US $ 41,994 12.1 12.3 66.2 87.9 4.7
Flood area $ 29,854 66.8 26.9 50.6 79.0 13.0

These real numbers should be part of the discussion of why so many people didn’t get out of town. Jack Shafer gives it some thought, but it’s also informative to compare these numbers with national rates: In the flooded area of the city, poverty is more than twice as high as the national rate; median income is twelve thousand dollars lower; reliance on public transportation is nearly three times as high. Lower rates of owner-occupation mean a greater lack of insurance coverage …

Book offer will end soon

by Eszter Hargittai on September 2, 2005

Thanks to the many generous people who have made donations to various relief agencies in the past few days. If you were at all intrigued and inspired by the book offer – as some of you very kindly let me know that you were:) – please make a donation now and send me a note. I can take requests from five more people.

I’ll update this post and the earlier one when I have to end the offer. Thanks to Ted for inspiring this thread. And big thanks to so many of you for your generous gifts to relief agencies!

UPDATE (9/2/05 6:33pm CST): That was quick. I’m afraid I have to close the offer now. I will be shipping 35 books to people across the U.S. next week. Thank you so much everybody!

Innovative Emergency Management

by Henry Farrell on September 2, 2005

China Mieville catches “Innovative Emergency Management” “trying to rewrite history”:http://leninology.blogspot.com/2005/09/politics-of-weather-3-shyness-of.html.

bq. Remember my earlier point that disaster management in New Orleans had been privatised, the ‘catastrophic hurricane disaster plan’ having been handed over to Baton Rouge-based Innovative Emergency Management last year? Watching this nightmare unfold, I’ve been wondering why no fucking one is asking what exactly IEM got paid for. It’s turning out to be very hard to find out, for rather startling reasons. In my first post on this, I quoted their original press release:

bq. “IEM, Inc., the Baton Rouge-based emergency management and homeland security consultant, will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).”

bq. Don’t bother trying the link to that release on the original post. It doesn’t work any more. Let me explain. If you go here now, you’ll see IEM’s page of press releases. Below is what it looked like at 3am on Friday 2nd September, a few minutes ago. … See the highlighted word? There used to be another press release, between May and July, dated June 3, announcing that ‘IEM Team to Develop Catastrophic Hurricane Disaster Plan for New Orleans & Southeast Louisiana’. That’s right. The evidence that hurricane-management was privatised and handed over to IEM has been eradicated from the IEM website. It’s almost as if someone was trying to evade responsibility for incompetence that’s resulted in the deaths of thousands, or something.

It’s hard to find the words.

Very quick survey: browser homepage

by Eszter Hargittai on September 2, 2005

Please fill out this survey consisting of just one question.

Here is the question: What site first comes up when you launch your browser?

I’ll say more later today. At that point I’ll also open comments. Thanks!

UPDATE (9/3/05 10:45pm CST): Due to the number of “Other” responses and associated emailsI have received, it will take me a bit longer to tabulate the results than I had anticipated. I will be posting a follow-up note to this survey sometime this weekend. Thanks to the 660 people who have already taken it. The survey will remain open for up to 240 more respondents.

UPDATE (9/5/05 11:40am CST): I have now closed the survey. Thanks to the 784 people who participated. Stay tuned for a summary and discussion of responses.

Mine’s a double!

by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2005

Via “Radley Balko”:http://www.theagitator.com/, a “rather nice BBC article”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4200056.stm about the crappy statistics behind the claim that the British are engaging in more binge drinking.

What they said…. (or Social Disasters III)

by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2005

In comments to Kieran’s last post Daniel has catalogued “some”:http://www.pardonmyenglish.com/archives/2003/08/yeah_so.html “of”:http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110003888 “the”:http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/004000.php “things”:http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9574 that the right-wing blogosphere said about the French heatwave of 2003. We could add op-eds like Denis Prager’s “Socialism Kills”:http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=34372 to the roster, but pride of place should surely go to — who else? — Mark Steyn. Steyn makes the following observation in his “‘Events’ don’t just happen”:http://www.middleeastinfo.org/article3822.html :

bq. One of the most tediously over-venerated bits of political wisdom comes from the late British prime minister Harold MacMillan. It was his characteristically laconic Edwardian response as to what he feared most in the months ahead: “Events, dear boy, events.” It turns up in a gazillion books of quotations and 1,000 Fleet Street columns as if it’s some brilliant insight. It’s not. It’s an urbane banality. Even events come, so to speak, politically predetermined. If, for example, you have powerful public sector unions, you will be at the mercy of potentially crippling strikes. The quasi-Eastern European Britain of the 1970s was brought to a halt by a miners’ strike in a way that would have been impossible in the United States. A strike, of course, is man-made. But the best test of the political character of “events” is supposedly natural phenomena.

He draws the following conclusion about earthquakes in Iran, SARS in China, and the French heatwave (having paused to kick the Canadian welfare state along the way) :

bq. By the standards of the world, Iran, China and France are all wealthy societies. They’re vulnerable to “events” because of their organizational principles – a primitive theocracy which disdains modernity; a modified totalitarianism which thinks you can reap the benefits of capitalism without the institutions of liberty; and a cradle-to-grave welfare state that has so enfeebled its citizens’ ability to act as responsible adults that even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the government should do something about.

Read the whole thing, as they say.