Thursday, September 29, 2005

The exceedingly large number of manga I ended up buying at the 'Swap yesterday inspired me to finally clean up my manga and new books around the apartment. I organized the manga, moved it into my bedroom, and used the extra shelfspace to shelve the dozens of books I've bought over the last half-year or so that have been occupying every horizontal surface in the apartment that wasn't carpet. Now I'm half-paranoid that the towering stack of manga piled on my dresser drawer is going to shift in the night and block my bedroom door, trapping me in there to die of unemployment and starvation. Or, you know, compel me to actually clean up again. Whichever.

Bought one of those OEL manga that I've been hearing so much about, Rikvah's Steady Beat. It shows some promise - the artist seems to have layout down pat and the artwork and pacing shows improvement throughout the first volume. But lord almighty, is this a rocky start. The first chapter is highly disjointed and staccato, and it took me until half-way through the book to realize that it was set in Texas, and not DC. What is shown and what is told aren't exactly in sync - our protagonist complains about her religious, Republican [state?] senator of a mother, and worries about impropriety, but the mother in question is a single mother, dressed more like a very young congressional aide or intern, and barely mentions religion at all. The angles in the story don't all add up to a proper 180 degrees, although it isn't nearly as distorted as, say, Bizenghast's discount video-game scripting.

The whole situation of these OEL first volumes reminds me a bit of Cerebus and Dave Sim's problems with artistic discontinuity. When an artist piles into an epic, or even an only somewhat long-form story from first principles, said artist's teething problems get stapled onto the front-end of what might otherwise be, eventually, a classic genre work. Thus, Cerebus goes through a dozen and a half chapters of rather crude Conan the Barbarian parody before it turns into the sharp social and political satire of High Society and Church and State. I suppose what I'm getting at is that the manga-inspired tendency to reach for long-form ongoing serial before a series of short works tends to import the OEL artists' apprentice and journeyman-work into immediate attempts at master-work.

I don't think web-comics are the answer, either, because that sort of page-per-day or three-pages-per-week format breeds gag-comicry in its practitioners. A half-dozen pages every other week - such as is practiced by artists like Kittyhawk - strikes me as potentially fruitful, but those artists seem particularly prone to sudden burn-out and disappearance.

I dunno.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ugh. Spoilers for Serenity all over the damned place. Looking forward to it, but I kind of want to experience it as a movie, not as a series of disconnected plot-points and thirty-second clips, thank y'all very much.
Um, there's been three US military fatalities from IEDs in the Basra area in the last couple days or so. Two on "convoy operations" and one today on a "combat logistics patrol". That's the British sector - are they moving US troops down there?

Well, no, not exactly. The writeup makes the incidents sound like they're near Basra, but a closer examination of the CENTCOM releases and the mission of the two units affected - a Wisconsin battalion (2/127th Infantry) on Kuwaiti convoy protection duty and Texas's 56th Brigade Combat Team, occupying the desert southwest of Iraq - suggests that somebody was getting kind of loose with their geographical definitions. On second glance, this isn't some unheralded US reinforcement of the frazzled British, who have been slowly losing control of the situation in Basra.

Is it a Sunni insurgent move to try to interdict the Kuwait log-line? Shaibah, where the two Wisconsin soldiers were killed, is the British logistics base, and two British Fusiliers were killed in a similar incident Sept. 5 in the same location, so maybe not.

I don't know, any sign of a local Sadrist insurrection in Basra gets me worried, and indications that US troops are being shifted into the sector are especially worrisome. On closer examination, these *aren't* the signs I'm looking for. At worst, it's an indication that the Iranians are starting to stalk the British logistics routes, in preparation for a sort of slow-motion guerilla siege, to keep them from interfering with the Basra political situation.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kind of busy this week. Rome is a bit of a pleasant surprise, aside from the deeply annoying animated-graffiti opening credits.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Meh. Now the 4k and 12k models bring Rita right over Galveston. She's more erratic than a drunken sailor on shore leave.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Talk in the office is that Rita is going to break east, due to it moving so slowly that it's making it's break north around that eastward-moving low much further east than it would have otherwise. It's going to hit West Louisiana halfway to New Orleans. Maybe Morgan City?

New Orleans is going to get some storm surge. The levees might break again.
Speaking of oil and states of emergency, it looks like Rita has both become a real monster, and has shifted such that they're now predicting a strike between Matagorda and the Sabine River - which is to say that she's going to whack every oil platform and derrick on the central Gulf coast which *wasn't* smashed up by Katrina. At least it isn't going to be the worst-case for Galveston that was predicted by last night's four-kilometre models, which predicted a strike directly on the Matagorda coast, giving Galveston the worst of the upper-right quadrant. This morning, it looks like Rita might *not* reduce Galveston to flooded splinters.

Wherever she hits is gonna look like a mid-yield nuke went off, though. Hope they've got those rigs locked down tight.
Glenn Reynolds has been pushing the Porkbusters project - the idea that each local blogger ought to find what the 2005 pork/set-asides were for his area and district, and press the local US Representative and US Senators to volunteer to repeal said pork in the interest of offsetting the Katrina cleanup costs. Intellectually, this appeals to me, but I'm having trouble figuring out whether what I'm looking at is, properly speaking, pork.

The relevant website is here, but the only stuff I could find was a scattering of six-figure bequests to various regional and local hospitals & Alpha EMS for "equipment", and a drug-education program over in Clearfield County. I'm conflicted over whether this sort of thing is obnoxious pork, or not. On the one hand, it's a lot of money by *my* standards. On the other hand, it's peanuts compared to the tens of millions sprayed over the Philly and Pittsburgh sections of the state for job retraining and access construction, and all these little ACoE budget-items for various rivers that I didn't think needed all that much in the way of control. But, you see - all that isn't local to *me*, so it's kind of hypocritical to harp on that stuff if I can't offer something locally.

Surprisingly, none of the construction work on I-99 and Rt. 322 is listed on the website. I'm not sure if they don't consider infrastructure construction "pork", or if the work was financed in a previous year, or if the appropriations went through what that site considers proper procedures, and thus isn't technically pork by their definition.
Listening to NPR coming in this morning, they had a report that our idiot, greedhead state senate here in Pennsylvania passed an anti-gouging measure that fines gas station owners if they rapidly increase prices, 20% over the previous high or something like that. I can't give you details because it doesn't seem to be available anywhere online, yet. But here's the bill I think they're talking about.

Here's the key section:
by an amount equal to or in excess of 20% of the average price at which the same or similar consumer goods or services were obtainable in the affected area during the last seven days immediately prior to the declared state of emergency.

Hey, why not repeal the laws of gravity and momentum while you're at it, you collective geniuses of the commonwealth? That way, I can count on the effects of your wisdom and beneficence to protect me from the skull-crushing effects of my own stupidity the next time I decide to jump off a 10-story building! Or my car can escape damage the next time some half-wit rear-ends me on the Benner Pike, due to your hypothetical legislative negation of the power of collision!

This is why they ought to teach basic goddamn economics in elementary school - so that our candle-witted legislators can get certain basic concepts drummed through their thick skulls before they drop out or just stop listening.

Look: prices are signals. They tell us certain vital things about the items for sale - namely, supplies, and the extent of demand. Without those accurate, undistorted price-signals, we as consumers have no good, reliable way of knowing what the rational response in a market *is*.

People with no real immediate need hoard, against fant'sied future want. Merchants sell all their product, and find that they cannot afford to re-stock because someone up the line is cognizant of the laws of supply and demand, or else some other merchant just cornered the local market because *she* decided to hoard against the possibility of a descent of the next set of price-blind hoarders at *her* station. The other gas station guy down the street, who has ties you'd best not look too closely into, always has gas - even though his sign always says "sold out". You just have to have the green, and not talk too much like a cop sniffing around. Supply shocks turn into droughts, and then recessions, and worst of all, stagflation. Suddenly, it's Jimmy Carter time all over again!

Furthermore, screwing with the price of vital product provides a perverse disincentive to *correct* supply problems. When you refuse to let the middlemen take large short-term profits, they have no capital to finance the long-term profits of their suppliers and the eventual producers. If there's no financial incentive for the suppliers to quickly re-instate supply networks, then the work gets done on the maƱana principle, and the supply shock stretches out for weeks instead of days, months instead of weeks. If there's no financial incentive for the producers to bring new resources online to satisfy demand gone wanting, then no new resources appear. Did you see what happened when it became clear that crude prices were going north of $60 and staying there? Suddenly we had more than a half-dozen oil companies looking into oil shale production. If this bill becomes law, the states of emergency will stretch out, one after the other, until they merge together into one continuous, inescapable, miserable, perpetual "state of emergency".

Rapid price fluctuation isn't a crime. It's a clarion call, a tocsin - it's a fire alarm. Collecting and destroying all of the fire-alarms in your house won't save it from burning, it'll just make sure that none of your neighbors wake before your flaming roof-top sparks their own roofs ablaze!


Looks like our own, nepotistically inept state senator, Jake Corman, is one of the many, many sponsors of this bill. It passed unanimously in the senate. There is a movement in Pennsylvania to clear out every single legislator, both houses, due to the recent legislative salary-grab. They're called Clean Sweep. I strongly suggest y'all take a look at 'em, and give it some consideration. We couldn't do worse than this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mrs. T over at Fistful of Euros tried to explain the "overhanging mandates" situation and why the CDU winning the delayed Dresden I elections (a local neo-Nazi candidate died, thus derailing the legalities for that district, and forced a delayed vote) might actually cause the CDU to *lose* a seat. I read the post twice, and I still don't understand the exact mechanism, but then I never was any good at higher math. I'm now regretting my failure to take calculus in school - I suspect it might have come in handy right about now.

The Germans no longer get to make fun of the American electoral college. This "overhanging mandate" business is deranged.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hot damn - the Port of New Orleans reopened yesterday. It sounds like only some parts opened, but the fact that it's now even partially functional is excellent economic news. The logistical disruption of the nation's single largest bulk-port being off line for at least three months was a large part of the expected fall-out from the hurricane. Between this and the radically lower death-toll in recent reports, it's looking like a pretty good week.

(News initially via this Rantburg post.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

Adam Sullivan at the Karmic Inquisition is back.
First of all lessons learned from my sister's wedding this weekend? Accordion players should never, ever be allowed amplification. The one hired by her new in-laws had one of those amps that go to eleven.

Boston is a hell of a town. You can really see what they mean when they say that the road system in that end of the country is directly derived from the traces left by colonial cattle herds. The inner suburbs seem to be one continuous rolling rush-hour, from early in the morning to late at night. I could not believe the land prices - I met someone who had bought a small suburban house for $700,000, and then proceeded to knock it down in preparation for building a real house. They just wanted the plot.

My sister was marrying into a Serb immigrant family. Very friendly folks, and most of them either doctors or engineers. I'm told that the Serb Orthodox community in the greater Boston area is capitalizing on the Catholic diocese's lawsuit-driven bankruptcy to pick up a building which they are getting ready to renovate into an Orthodox church. The place they're currently using, however, wasn't big enough for the relatively modest crowd we were expecting, so they borrowed a Greek Orthodox church in Cambridge for the ceremony. Nice place, just re-painted. I think the Greek custodian thought we were a little rowdy, though. He didn't look like he approved of the jug of box-wine which came in with the groomsmen.

The groom's family cheerfully showed said groomsmen, who were by and large his college buddies, how to perform the very folkloric offering ceremony before the wedding. They came to the hotel where we were camped out in Waltham - nominally our father's "house", but it isn't as if they could truck down to my Dad's new place in Florida - with "wandering musicians", a "Voivode" (I believe it means "prince" or "duke", but I know next to no Serbo-Croatian, so YMMV) shotgun in hand, a wine-bearer, a handful of silver coins, and a loaf of bread. The "wandering musicians" was the aforementioned accordion player (sans amplifier, thankfully), the Voivode was the groom's best man, and the shotgun had been replaced with a much-less-unlawful trumpet, played by the *other* best man's young son - more on that anon - who actually knew how to blow a trumpet, it being his and all.

The Voivode was supposed to discharge the "shotgun" to bring the bride's father out of his abode, so as to initiate the negotiation. This might have actually have been necessary if we had gone back up to the seventh floor to our rooms as the groomsmen asked - we managed to convince them that this would take far too much time, and compromised on going around the corner of the lobby, just out of sight of the party in the foyer. After a long delay - the accordion-player was unaccountably missing, and it took some time to locate him - the groomsmen came around the corner, and began the ceremony.

The wine-bearer passed around the jug of box-wine, to everybody *but* my father - we had established the night before that he couldn't drink due to a medical condition, and that the offering would be a large faux pas - and the silver coins and bread were presented. The groom's uncle - the patriarch of the family - offered my mother a handful of wild flowers, although I wasn't clear on what exactly this meant. There was a bit of a bobble while it was explained to my father that they were supposed to tear the loaf in half, and I think I missed the obligatory speech by the Voivode about the virtues of the groom and prospective son-in-law. I was busy talking to the other usher about whether we should get going to the church, as various frictions and delays had made us somewhat late.

All this time, curious revelers from the bar mitzvah, which had actually hired the hall we were half-occupying, looked on in amusement. I still don't know how my parents talked the hotel management into allowing all this to occur in what was a very busy lobby on a fairly active weekend.

The wedding itself was a classic Orthodox affair, with two priests singing the liturgy in what I thought was Serbo-Croatian, although my Lebanese uncle confused me afterwards by talking about "Slavonic" and liturgical languages, and I'm now not quite sure which it was. Once we got into the church, the best-friend "best man" was replaced by the groom's brother. It seems that the head priest was something of a stickler on the details, and he insisted that either the maid of honor or the best man be baptized into their church. Anyways...

The two priests crowned the couple with large red-and-gold crowns - my sister's went slightly askew partway through the ceremony, and I was somewhat afraid that it would fall off as they circled the altar three times. Happily, it stayed in place, perhaps held on by her veil-and-tiara assemblage. The groom's father sang in Slavic, and my Orthodox aunt read in English, a passage - Ephesians 5:21-33 - as an instruction to the new couple. That came across as very, hrm, unreconstructed, and it's exactly the sort of thing that modern couples are usually careful to dance around. The Apostle Paul really was a stodgy old so-and-so. But it was that kind of wedding - very old-fashioned.

The reception was at a suburban country club, and very lavish, at least by my standards. The tyranny of the photographer reigned unchecked, and there was much milling about the greens under a large oak tree, as every possible arrangement of the bride, the groom, the parents, and the wedding party was photographed on what was a beautiful early fall day - clear blue skies, cool breeze, etc. Inside the clubhouse, the accordion player found his amplifier, and much dancing commenced. It was pretty loud, but a half-hour or so after the entree was served, the accordion player and his group were replaced by an old-fashioned rock band, and things got quieter. There was remarkably little of the usual speech-making that I expect of wedding receptions, which I suppose was what they wanted.

My sister shone with joy throughout the day. It was a happy day, and one she deserved. When the videocamera came my way, I wished them many quiet, happy years.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


But still weak on the whole "unable to see own contradictions" front. Is an administration which pays scrupulous attention to the law a desirable thing, or an undesirable thing? Greg's abu Ghraib/Gitmo hyperventilations were monumental and extensive. He doesn't get a pass from me when he starts demanding legal shortcuts, or when he starts decrying slowness due to the now-necessary involvement of ponderous legal teams when it comes to the deployment of large, young, armed men and the provision of security. This is what you were screaming for, Greg. This is the world you wanted.

Live with it.

I'm withholding judgement on Brown until the full story is in. That means he gets two weeks after they finish draining New Orleans - I figure that'll give everyone time to shake out all the half-truths, ass-coverings, and rumor-mongering. Not that I think at this point that he'll come out smelling like roses - but there's a lot of people who fucked up bigtime who'll want to be making the most obviously guilty-looking their goat. I'm fairly worried that Brown is going to end up being that judas goat. Damn every last one of you who thinks you can lay your guilt on a designated goat. Yes, I mean "you". And "you", too. And me, too.

No judas goats. No panic-decisions. No policy-by-disaster-response. No reflex politics.

Via Dan, who got me to re-read a post by Greg which I had angrily skimmed earlier.

Oh, and by the way? No dick-measuring contests about how "my charity contribution numbers are higher than yours". Yes, I mean you. Show some goddamn common sense.

Via Peaktalk.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Josh Trevino, aka Tacitus, is leaving RedState, and returning to his old stomping grounds. He argues here what I don't have the intellectual confidence to propose - both the abandonment of the site of New Orleans, and the controlled breaking of the Mississippi levees in favor of a new main channel through the Atchafalaya Basin.

Unfortunately, Tacitus-the-group-blog always suffered from a voluble and overpopulated community, which made for a lot of noise. I kind of stopped paying attention to it once Trevino moved over to RedState, and the last time I looked in, it had been mostly taken over by the leftist gadflies which had once been Trevino/Tacitus's loyal opposition. Well, I'll hang out for a while, see if it's worth sticking around now that the master of the house is running things again.
The tropical depression to the east of Florida will become Tropical Storm Ophelia pretty soon, but bossman says that it looks to impale itself on the south Georgia coast before it becomes anything other than a big blow. Sixty-ish winds by landfall, probably on the Space Coast. Of course, it's not got a lot of guidance, so who knows? Its cone of prediction is literally a circle.
The Guardian reminds us all of something that's easy to forget when the news networks are blasting sentiment 24/7 at us: disasters produce information vacuums which are quickly filled with the wildest sort of rumor and fearful imaginings re-told telephone-game-style as reports of atrocity and outrage. The cannibalism lie was just the most obnoxious of this species of worry exaggerated into outright falsehood.

It's sometimes hard to remember that under all that bias and poor management, the Guardian is a real paper with real reporters. This is a reminder.
Dan Darling has a post and thread on Winds of Change which I think is pretty succinct. Be sure to read the comments, which are of unusual quality, especially the one referencing the 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic.
I saw that Afghanistan gave $100,000 for hurricane relief. This is sort of why I'm kind of disturbed by the acceptance of foreign aid for Katrina. I know it's kind of small to reject such aid on nationalist grounds - it would put us in the same inferiority-complex category of overproud India, who rejected tsunami aid last December - but it's still kind of futile to take a couple hundred thousand from a country which we're supporting to the tune of a billion or so.

I can't help but wish that the ambassador would just drop the money back into the Afghan development general fund when the cameras and Afghanis leave, kind of like when my great-aunt insisted on pressing a twenty on me for doing something minor around the house, and I tried to sneak it back into her purse when she wasn't watching. I suck at subterfuge - she caught me doing it. I got a pretty good talking-to, and she watched me like a hawk until I left the house to make sure I didn't sneak it into a bowl or something on the way out.
On the other hand, we have the purgative pleasure of infantile rage. I'm getting quite tired of Greg and his tireless search for the perfect judas-goat. Accuracy and consistency and truthfulness are not as important in his world as the need to find the perfect vehicle for the conveyance of his guilt and remorse. It's a good thing Donald Rumsfeld is such a sturdy ass - else he would have long since collapsed under the metaphorical weight of Greg's projections.

Grow up, Greg. It's one of the obligations of adulthood.
Yes, I realize he was going on about cultural superiority, and moral education, and the volunteerism thing was a distraction. Sue me, I got distracted.
Am I the only one on the centre-right who finds Bill Whittle to be insufferably narcissistic? Every time I follow a link to one of his self-regarding essays, I find myself ashamed to agree with his opinions - even in part - which in the objective abstract ought to be utterly unobjectionable. The concept of valuing first-responders and volunteers over attention-whores and activists seems pretty basic - but bragging about your own activities and history in this context is repulsive. Modesty - it's in most dictionaries. Try and look it up, Bill.

No, I didn't finish reading the essay - I've got better things to do than indulge logorrhea.
Mickey Kaus inadvertently demonstrates the old adage "hard cases make bad law" by arguing in favor of a total demolishment of the federal system in the light of the problems with the Katrina response. This is the same panicky paternalism which brought us the municipal governmental reform movement after the 1900 Galveston hurricane, and thus, inadvertently and indirectly, a whole phalanx of rotten Progressive ideas like direct election of senators, referenda and recall, and the elitist habit of policy-by-unelected-commission.

Policy in reaction to disaster and catastrophe is the very reason conservatives exist. There is a serious argument that the Department of Homeland Security bureaucratic reorganization driven by the reaction to the *last* catastrophe was largely responsible for the disorganized and scatterbrained FEMA response this time around. The reaction to the 1927 floods drove the construction of all the massive river levees which have helped gut the southeastern Louisiana wetlands which used to partially protect the region from this sort of disaster.

In a federal system, where one of the state elements of the system proves itself in a time of crisis to be nonfunctional, while other state elements are marginally or mostly functional and the federal element is marginally functional, the answer is not to trash the system and come up with a new idea. For one thing, the friction of politics and the dynamics of large groups guarantees that your new system will be utterly untested and half-implemented by the time of the next disaster. For another thing, you don't repair a car which has blown a tire by buying another car. You either get a new tire, or patch the punctured one.

Louisiana has always been a problem state. It's the only Napoleonic state in the Union. Its corruption is legendary. It is notably poor. Louisiana's state election dynamics during my lifetime have been notable for their "racist" versus "corrupt" dichotomies - remember "vote for the crook - it's important"? In what other state in the Union is there a viable, overtly racist electoral option? I mean, other than the Al Sharpton Dog & Pony Revue...

Anyways, the national government can't just take over a state government and install a new one. That's almost as impractical as Kaus's New Union proposal. But the people of Louisiana might want to think it over, and in a serious manner. In the 'laboratory of democracy", I'd call Louisiana's experiment a fairly instructive failure.

Monday, September 05, 2005

I haven't been buying much anime recently. At least partially this is because I've come to the rueful conclusion that I've been a sucker for buying the early releases - as they come out, DVD by DVD. After the fourth or fifth series got released as a cheapass "brick" compilation at a third of the price I paid for the initial individual DVDs, I sort of gave up. Yeah, I'm a slow learner - so what?

But bargain-sales are just as good or better than waiting for the brick, and it's even better when the bricks themselves has been remaindered. I'm not the biggest fan of Nadia, but at $30 for the whole series in two sets plus CD soundtracks, why the hell not? [Seems as if everybody else kind of agrees - looks like the first set is sold out already.]

Now if I could just figure out if the half-wits at ADV actually placed my order, or if their online ordering system ate it with some fava beans and a nice chianti...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

On the Peak Oil front, have you seen this? They claim to have figured out a way of roasting oil shale in situ so as to produce a significant amount of natural gas and light crude from deposits, at a cost which is viable as long as oil prices stay over $30/bbl. Check out the article - it's fiendishly clever, and sounds like a real winner if nobody's exaggerating or coloring based on expectations of future improvements. They've done test bores, and are supposed to start something more substantial in February. It sounds as if Colorado could be the Persian Gulf of the 21st century if this pans out. I will say that I didn't quite understand the described environmental protection scheme, which had something to do with surrounding the bores with an outer shell of ice to lock in the cooking mixture or something like that.

Link via Instapundit.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I've said and thought a lot of things in the last few days that in retrospect I regret, at least for the tone and timing, if not for the sentiments in and of themselves. Most of this you wouldn't have seen unless you came from the blog comment sections in question, and for this I apologize. I'm a sour-tempered, antisocial person, and I am lacking in regards to tact and respect for the opinions of others. I don't take back a word of it, but I regret that I said a lot of it as early as I did.

Who would have thought that New Orleans was so close to the brink of civilization? I've never been there, so I had no real inkling how bad the back-street neighborhoods were, nor how fast things would disintegrate once the drugs ran out and the armed junkies started prowling. It's going to be a mess once all the refugees are sorted, because it seems as if there's a lot of bad apples in the baskets, and the baskets are going to be scattered all throughout the Deep South. It'll be an interesting experimental test of the theory that concentrations of bad actors results in amplified criminal environments beyond what you'd expect of the relative numbers involved.

I stand by my contention that New Orleans as a major city ought not to be rebuilt. The site is too abhorrent to imagine us re-using it again. The exposure of New Orleans on the hurricane coast will only get worse as long as the Mississippi is constrained in the main channel levee system. You can either cut the levees, and let the Mississippi act the way nature intended, or you can abandon the city of New Orleans. I'd be inclined in a perfect world to do both, but in the world we live in, the main channel carries too much of the nation's commerce, and the port of New Orleans is too important to write off as a relocation expense. The same goes for the petrochemical infrastructure, which has to be a higher priority than the reconstruction of below-river-level housing in and around New Orleans.

To be brutal, the impoverished can be impoverished as well in Bismarck or Fargo or Detroit as they can in the currently-under-water Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The relatively-well-off, who have lost so much more, ought to have both the resources and the basic good sense to find themselves safer accommodations than that which can be re-built in what has proven itself to be an appalling death-trap.

To be brief, I believe that government emergency funds aimed towards residential and non-vital business reconstruction in the New Orleans flood zone ought to be diverted to relocation funds, aimed at buying out the inhabitants of vulnerable areas of New Orleans and the environs. We may be stuck with a major, economically vital port in that area, but there's no reason in the world worth the financing of the return hundreds of thousands of inhabitants back into what's proven itself to be an obscenely dangerous and isolated locale.

I had hoped for the opportunity for us to shut down the city of New Orleans over a gentle decade of discouragement and gradual abandonment. Nature closed that option rather decisively, sad to say. Oh, well.

Here's something I wrote last year about the prospects of the lower Mississippi. For some reason I expected the culprit to be the river, not the lake.