Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane History

A note from the past:

"110 mph winds and power failures were reported in New Orleans. The eye of the storm passed to the southwest of New Orleans on a northwesterly track. The northern and western eyewalls covered Southeast Louisiana and the New Orleans area from about 8 pm until 4 am the next morning. In Thibodaux winds of 130 mph to 140 mph were reported. [...]

[The storm] also drove a storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain, just north of New Orleans, and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet [...]. Levees for the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet along Florida Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward and on both sides of the Industrial Canal failed. The flood water reached the eaves of houses in some places and over some one story roofs in the Lower Ninth Ward. Some residents drowned in their attics trying to escape the rising waters.

These levee breaches flooded parts of Gentilly, the Upper Ninth Ward, and the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans as well as Arabi and Chalmette in neighboring St. Bernard Parish. [...]

Those who did not have family or friends with dry homes had to sleep in the shelters at night and forage for supplies during the day, while waiting for the federal government to provide emergency relief in the form of trailers. In all, 164,000 homes were flooded. [...]

Evidence suggests that cheap construction and poor maintenance of the structures led to the failure of the levees. However, popular rumor persists that they were intentionally breached, possibly as a means of salvaging the more prosperous French Quarter."

Three years ago this week? Nope. September 1965, from the Wikipedia article on Hurricane Betsy. Katrina was no fluke. If (when) Gustav or some other storm creates a similar scenario, that will be no fluke either. These things are predictable; inevitable even.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hoaxes, hoaxes...

So it seems our Georgia Boys have finally confessed that their frozen bigfoot carcass is a rubber suit stuffed with roadkill and slaughterhouse offal. No word yet on where they stuffed the $50K they got paid for their trouble. At least one of them will no longer be burdened with his job as a cop. Whatever you might think of the crypto-zoo folks in general, this particular story reeked from day one.

And on the topic of stories that reek...

The parallels between this bigfoot incident and our own beloved former-guppy-breeder-turned-Ivorybill-hoaxer (Mr. B.S. himself) are amusing. The short version:

Dramatic stories, blurry photos, better quality but seriously fake-looking photos, constant claims of being in possession of rock-solid evidence that somehow is never produced (the book is still "COMING SOON!!!"), etc.

There are some big differences though. The bigfoot hoax played out much faster than Mr. B.S.'s eternally drawn-out saga. If he ever attracted the attention of the international media, I expect Guppyman's story would blow up just as fast too. The second is not so simple. Our Georgia Boys seem to have just been stupid and concocted a harebrained practical joke / moneymaking scheme that is worthy of a bad TV sitcom. Our beloved Floridian Faker, though, I fear is motivated by more complex and darker forces at work in his psyche.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Stealthy megafauna

Recently in the news: Tens of thousands of previously unknown gorillas uncovered by intensive surveys in the forests and swamps of two areas in the Republic of Congo. Wow, just imagine that, huge numbers of large, vocal, charismatic primates overlooked for years and years in the remote forest stretches of what can hardly be described as a sparsely populated region of the continent. Only a fool would have believed this was possible, it is clearly an absurd idea. And yet, it happened.

If these huge numbers of great apes were missed for so long, just imagine how easy it might be to overlook a tiny population of a much smaller and more mobile species for years, even decades...

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