Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Future tense

Some of what's so awful about the slow destruction of New Orleans is the fact that it was both predictable and predicted. One series that the Times-Picayune apparently ran a few years ago describes the effects of "the big one" with, as we see it now unfolding, eerie accuracy:

The projected death and destruction eclipse almost any other natural disaster that people paid to think about catastrophes can dream up . . . . [Lake water] would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles.

Mobilized by FEMA, search and rescue teams from across the nation will converge on the city. Volunteer teams of doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians that were pre-positioned in Monroe or Shreveport before the storm will move to the area, said Henry Delgado, regional emergency coordinator for the U.S. Public Health Service.

But just getting into the city will be a problem for rescuers. Approaches by road may be washed out.

"Whether or not the Airline Highway bridge across the Bonnet Carre Spillway survives, we don't know," said Jay Combe, a coastal hydraulic engineer with the corps. "The I-10 bridge (west of Kenner) is designed to withstand a surge from a Category 3 storm, but it may be that water gets under the spans, and we don't know if it will survive." In a place where cars may be useless, small boats and helicopters will be used to move survivors to central pickup areas, where they can be moved out of the city. Stranded survivors will have a dangerous wait even after the storm passes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back in the blogosphere

Hello to any faithful (or casual) readers I have left! Since my last post, I've visited the unlikely sand dunes near St. Joseph, Michigan, made a two-day trip to Orlando, succeeded in installing an intermittently functioning wireless router, paid a lot of utility bills, and started my first real, non-internship non-summer job. The Michigan trip started off with a frustrating five and a half hour delay after we boarded the plane, just sitting on the runway at National. But the other trips went smoothly enough. I think I'm now ready to get back into blogging since my brain will be engaged again at work. Billable hours are looming, but it's when I'm busiest that I seem to make time for blogging. So, some quick links to start back here:

-- Byron York reports here on NRO about one of Cindy Sheehan's latest interviews, on NPR. Sheehan's loss of her son was a terrible one, and she's had every right to say what she wants to express in her grief (including camping out to make a statement if she wanted to), but the Crawford affair has long since turned into a media circus cultivated by the producers of the angry left -- of which Sheehan is definitely a part, as she's been airing her conspiracy/"Bush lied!" views on myriad outlets. The NPR interview looks like a good example of the fact that Sheehan is only happy to chat with more sympathetic members of the media, however, and not anyone who ventures to question some of her radical claims (such as the familiar 'Bush is the biggest terrorist' one). It's an unfortunate situation.

-- It looks like Mark Shea has finished his year-plus book project on Mary in the Catholic tradition, so here's hoping he will return to blogging soon. Word is the book is good one, too.

-- Finally, I've been stunned, like everyone else, by the terrible devastation, which seems to be worsening, in Mississippi and New Orleans -- especially after it seemed New Orleans had escaped the worst case scenarios immediately after the storm. I think they're saying now they can't stop the levee breaches in the city which means the flooding isn't going to stop (here is a good, apparently older, map of what the levee system looks like, via Amy Welborn). I hope rescue workers are able to save as many people as they can and that in spite of current thinking they are able to stop up the levee soon. A list of charities may be found here at Instapundit. Please pray for all those who have lost so much to the storm.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Home for Pope Benedict

The pope arrived in Germany today for World Youth Day. Amy Welborn has been posting pictures and links like this on her blog all week, and Tim Drake has been blogging from Cologne with some nice posts. It will be interesting to see the response to the pope from the crowds, who all loved John Paul II so much. I do think there's already a lot of affection for Benedict XVI, though, and he is very happy to be there, so things should go very well. It should also be interesting to see what he has to say here, since his message will be addressed not just to the faithful youth present, but to a wider, secular European audience that Benedict has challenged before. On a related note, I recently bought Truth and Tolerance off Amazon -- based on this review, should be a good read.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Biopic

The Hallmark Channel is showing a movie about Pope John Paul II tonight at 8, starting from the time of the invasion of Poland. It's gotten good reviews and apparently approval from both John Paul and Benedict XVI, so I'm definitely looking forward to watching.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Death and survival in the South Pacific

The last couple of nights I've been watching documentaries on the History Channel and Discovery about the war in the Pacific, and more specifically the Bataan Death March and subsequent hells experienced by the American and Filipino prisoners of war. The occasion is tomorrow's release of The Great Raid, about the rescue of the last 500 prisoners from Cabanatuan three years after the original surrender of the Allied troops. I've done my fair share of reading about so many aspects of World War II -- from Churchill's accounts of the lead up to war, to specific books about the Battle of Britain, the Holocaust, the 900 days of the siege of Leningrad, the battle of Stalingrad, and other general histories -- but never learned much about the Pacific war. It's not covered much in school, and beyond a general awareness that the fighting and conditions were fairly horrific, I didn't know much of anything about Bataan before two days ago. (Speaking of school oversights, World War I also rarely seems to get much of a mention, but Martin Gilbert's account is excellent.) The story of the men of Bataan is pretty terrible but having learned something about it, I realize it's an important one and I'd like to read more about it.

The movie doesn't seem to be getting any more than average reviews, though, as it is apparently shot in an old-fashioned manner and is a little long. On the other hand, given that no reviewers seem to be able to restrain themselves from making some (usually disapproving) reference to Bush, new American patriotism, or September 11, and also that it seems to have been the sincere desire of all the actors involved to respect the truth of the story, the film is probably worth giving a shot.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Moving in

I had a few issues with Comcast over the weekend getting my cable/internet set up but happily, now it's all working. Tomorrow the movers get here and I'm looking forward to setting stuff up in my apartment. On a mostly unrelated note, when I was coming into my building tonight I saw three notices tacked (well, taped) to the door -- either for eviction or just collection actions, I'm not sure. It was the first process service I had seen and I was amused (or disturbed?) to think immediately about adequacy of service under Florida civil procedure (never mind I live in Maryland). Also, I think landlords evicting tenants have to file their actions in county court but other property/equitable actions are in circuit courts. Or maybe it's the other way around. Did I just take the bar exam two weeks ago?

Nice guys finish first

On the first ballot for the Hall of Fame, that is. Yesterday Dan Marino and my favorite player (understatement) Steve Young were among those inducted to the Hall in Canton. It was fun to watch the ceremony and I was happy again to see why I have liked Young for so long. What a classy guy -- good speaker, good family man, lawyer, and oh yeah, holder of a Super Bowl TD record and MVP trophy and six passing titles and record career passer rating and record-setting rushing QB.

Although I have to say I'm just a little relieved that Marino and Young both got recognized and inducted before Peyton Manning shatters all their records :)

Is it football season again yet?

Cosmetic abortion

The Boston Globe carries an op-ed warning about how the economics of sex-selection abortion could make it an attractive option even in a culture that isn't otherwise predisposed to killing off baby girls:

Sex selection in the United States is becoming a multimillion-dollar industry. Businesses such as MicroSort, a sperm sorting service that selects for sex before pregnancy, are part of an ongoing commercial effort to normalize sex selection as Extreme Makeover normalizes cosmetic surgery. To be sure, the Gender Mentor Kit does this while also providing a wholly new economic incentive: where sperm sorting costs upwards of $5,000, the Gender Mentor Kit plus an early term abortion -- if the results are unfavorable -- would cost as little as $600.

And as one prochoice law professor is there to point out, without concern, if people believe in a right to abortion, any one reason to have one is as good as any other. Could this really become an issue in the U.S. (aside from the problems that already exist in countries like China)? We already have about a million abortions in the country every year, 96 percent or so of them for reasons that have nothing to do with the harder cases of rape or conditions threatening the mother's life. If many women's reasons for abortion already include "had enough kids already," "wasn't the right time," and other unserious justifications, it doesn't seem implausible to me that sex selection could actually be presented as a more substantive reason for abortion. Who's to argue against such a private decision, anyway?