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Current Topic: Current Events

Power of the press
Topic: Current Events 7:47 pm EDT, Oct  4, 2005

The question of the power of the press is more important today that it ever has been because it is so much under pressure from the business side of things.

This is a quote that jumped out at me from an article that a friend sent me on photojournalist and the impact of the photos they take.

Power of the press

Evacuation Instructions (or lack thereof)
Topic: Current Events 6:49 pm EDT, Sep 22, 2005

Okay, this is a rant...

I was really identifying with the people of Galveston and NOLA, and thinking to myself, "What if I had to evacuate from my home? Where would I get information on what to do, where to go, what to pack?" So I decided I'd meme a webpage with a list of Evacuation Instructions.

And that's where I started a descent into hell.

First of all, there are very few "webpages" out there with such info. Mostly they just link to PDFs, which are useless to anyone without the plugins. And even then, the stuff out there is often appalling. For example, this Louisiana Government page:

Now, it's already annoying because of the PDFs. But it adds insult to injury, since the PDF files are enormous 7 Megabyte clunkers *per page*. And to add the cherry on top, the diagrams require non-standard paper, 11x17!

I made an attempt to download the PDF, and was further horrified by how unwieldy it was. It was huge, it was slow, it was displayed sideways, and was so large and zoomed out that my system kept trying to redraw it every time I tried to read it. I finally just gave up in disgust. And keep in mind, this is a situation where I'm sitting here safely in St. Louis, in a nice comfy office with a high-end computer and plenty of bandwidth. For someone who's in an emergency situation, with a low-end computer and a slow dial-up, those files would be completely inaccessible and useless.

I kept looking, and there is *some* useful information out there, but it's difficult to find, and often in a very rough format. For example, this PDF (again, with the PDFs!) from the Houston Red Cross. It has a packing checklist, along with some solid advice about dealing with an emergency situation such as a hurricane or tornado. But it still has typos, gives conflicting information (like about how much water to store), and doesn't have any specific advice like *where* to go or how to find transportation. Even at the FEMA site, it just says, "Contact the local red cross for evacuation information," but without saying *how* to contact them. And has got nothing on their main page about Rita.

My ranting aside, what is my "constructive criticism" advice?
- Some of our government resources *must* be devoted to providing basic and easily-accessible emergency information on the web.
- This information needs to be searchable by common-sense terms such as "evacuation information" or "How to evacuate".
- The information needs to be available in *non-PDF* format, like a straightforward quick-to-load HTML page with a checklist of what to pack, locatio... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Evacuation Instructions (or lack thereof)

Today's Ugly Question
Topic: Current Events 10:44 pm EDT, Aug  4, 2005

Someone said to me today, "If you can't see the difference between the administration and Al Qaeda then there's something (and my memory slips on the exact word used to finish the sentence, but it was any of a number of synonyms for wrong, and may have even been wrong, but I digress)."

So I thought about this question for all of about a third of a second and replied that the administation had a much higher body count.

I remember watching the morning that led to the hell of the past four years, and I can't begin to describe my feelings about it. What I can describe is what I have felt about it since then, and it comes down to only a few things.

Rage, outrage and disgust.

The first is primarily directed towards the perpetrators. This was a crime of unprecedented proportion. We have ways to deal with criminals, in this case it would probably be best to simply take bin Laden out back and just shoot him, but that's a separate point.

The second goes two places, some of towards Al Q, the majority of it towards the administration. Towards Al Q, it is because they chose to strike out against people who had little of nothing to do with any problem they think they have. While I would be angry about them taking their aggression out on other targets, which they had done in the past (the embassies in Africa, the USS Cole) those are arms of the government. Lower Manhattan was not.

Towards the administration it comes from a huge number of sources. First, the utter failure to find the one person most responsible. "I don't really think about him.....I'm not really concerned about him" GW Bush on 3/13/2003 referring to bin Ladin. Either everything that has been said about bin Ladin is a lie and the black helicopter nutjobs are right that it was actually our own government that took out New York (which I don't believe) or the sitting President is both an idiot and one of the most callous bastards to ever walk around in the oval office, which is what I do think.

The second disaster is Iraq. I am not going to say Saddam was a nice guy or that he shouldn't be whacked, but the route taken is possibly the worst of all possible worlds. They lied to get the war. They lied about the WMDs. They lied about the connections to Al Q. They lied about any threat he posed to anyone outside Iraq. They lied about what the resistance would be like. They lied about what the government of Iraq would be like after.

What did that get us? So far, 1800+ dead soldiers, 40,000+ wounded or mentally ill, an unknown number of US civilian casualties, and 100,000+ dead Iraqis. It got us an active terrorist training ground directed against us along with the best recruiting tool they've ever had. No one disputes any of this.

What will it gets us in the future? What is probably now the best case scenario is a full blown Iraqi civil war that we have managed to pull our troops out of. The Sunni and Shi'a there hate each othe... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

Today's Ugly Question

Earthquake shakes Tokyo
Topic: Current Events 12:08 pm EDT, Jul 23, 2005

A STRONG earthquake registering 5.7 on the Richter scale shook Tokyo and its vicinity today, lightly injuring five people, swaying buildings in the heart of the capital and disrupting transport.

The earthquake struck at 4.35pm (5.35pm AEST) with its epicentre in the Boso peninsula of Chiba prefecture just outside of the capital at a depth of 90 kilometres underground.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo

you and me and the devil makes three -
Topic: Current Events 11:01 pm EDT, Jul 10, 2005

Snurched, stolen, thefted, nicked and generally swiped from all around. I will unapologetically update as and when ... unless someone objects to being quoted in which case I will, in fact, apologise.

quotes on LJ from British citizens about the bombing.

you and me and the devil makes three -

London Terror Attack - 7/7
Topic: Current Events 8:57 am EDT, Jul  7, 2005

Bombs in subways. Bomb in buses. All details fuzzy. Story obviously being managed.

WikiNews is on it. Here is a Google News link.

Here is one particular disturbing pic of some people trapped in the underground in a station filled with smoke.

People in London are saying on IRC that cell phones are not working.

The original BBC story on the explosions said it was an electrical explosion. They recently changed the story's lead to say there was a bomb on both a bus and the underground. It is ironic that in the first hours after the WTC bombing, it was believed to be a transformer explosion.

News stations are now saying it was definitely a coordinated attack. Very little information is being released right now. It is very clear big shit is going down.

If you work in NYC, I suggest that you wait till noon to go to work.

Blair just gave a statement. Its officially terrorism.

For those picking up on this as they wake up, here is a timeline of events so far.

Wow. We will have to wait and see what the whole story is.

London Terror Attack - 7/7

KRT Wire | 07/05/2005 | Reporters facing jail in CIA leak case to be sentenced Wednesday
Topic: Current Events 3:09 am EDT, Jul  6, 2005

It may be one of the most important First Amendment cases in a generation.

And it is one the media is on the verge of losing.

Two reporters, one each from The New York Times and Time magazine, are to appear in federal court Wednesday for a hearing on whether they should go to jail for refusing to talk to prosecutors investigating the potentially illegal disclosure of the identify of a CIA operative.

Federal District Judge Thomas F. Hogan in Washington has said he would sentence the reporters, Judith Miller of the Times and Matthew Cooper of Time, to jail Wednesday if they refuse to answer questions before a grand jury.

KRT Wire | 07/05/2005 | Reporters facing jail in CIA leak case to be sentenced Wednesday | The Underappreciated Art of Firecracker Labels!
Topic: Current Events 3:24 pm EDT, Jul  4, 2005

I really can't think of a more underappreciated form of art than firecracker labels. Think about it. Sure you might buy the ones that look the coolest, but soon after you're lighting 'em on fire. The once amazing artwork is now blown to smithereens and you couldn't care less.

Happy 4th of July! | The Underappreciated Art of Firecracker Labels!

Children, too, are abused in U.S. prisons
Topic: Current Events 8:21 pm EDT, Jun 30, 2005

"A Pentagon investigation last year by Major General George Fay reported that in January 2004, a leashed but unmuzzled guard dog was allowed into a cell holding two children. The intention was for the dog to "'go nuts on the kids,' barking and scaring them."

Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, formerly in charge of Abu Ghraib, told Fay about visiting a weeping 11-year-old in the prison's notorious Cellblock 1B, which housed prisoners designated high risk. "He told me he was almost 12," Karpinski recalled, and that "he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother."

Children like this have been denied the right to see their parents, a lawyer or anyone else. They were not told why they were detained, let alone for how long. A Pentagon spokesman told Hersh that juveniles received some special care, but added, "Age is not a determining factor in detention."

Children, too, are abused in U.S. prisons

Women right to vote
Topic: Current Events 10:15 pm EDT, Jun 12, 2005

A prominent female state senator has said that she does not support the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote, and that if it were being considered today she would vote against it.

Women right to vote

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