serious

Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.

"We have been trying for 40 years to save the world, sometimes against the world's wishes," Mr. Rotblat said.


Józef Rotblat, winner of the Nobel peace prize and the only physicist to quit the Manhattan Project on moral grounds, has died at 96. He organised the Pugwash conferences, which were very influential in promoting arms control during the cold war.

From the Guardian's obituary:
While working at Los Alamos, Rotblat had been shocked to hear General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, remark quite casually that the real purpose, of course, was to subdue the Soviet Union. When he decided to leave the project, a determined but highly incompetent attempt had been made to "fit him up" as a Russian spy.

This Guardian article on petrol prices is quite interesting. The implication seems to be that a temporary shortfall in US refining ability will push petrol prices up past what mere increases in crude prices would:

As US oil companies bought up 20 shiploads of European petrol yesterday, the wholesale price of petrol on the Rotterdam spot market soared to a record of $855 a tonne (more than $100 a barrel), up more than 20% in two days
Traders said oil supplies were not the big problem, especially as the US government on Wednesday promised to release some of the country's 700m barrel strategic petroleum reserve [ . . . ] But the strategic reserve contains only oil, not gasoline or diesel, hence the scramble to buy from Europe.

The Treasury responded to the rising fuel price by stressing it had announced in July that a duty increase planned for yesterday would be scrapped because of high oil prices. Fuel duty, now 47.1p a litre, has not risen for two years.


Another knock-on is the probable destruction of the Justice Center, founded by Clive Stafford Smith to give proper legal representation to the poor facing capital charges.
From http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1561167,00.html:

Yesterday, when I saw the pictures of the Orleans Parish prisoners huddled on a ramp of the interstate, turbid water at one end, and torpid guards with shotguns at the other, it made me angry. The government said everyone had to leave the city, yet the prisoners, the one group who could have been moved without the right to protest, were left behind. They are likely to stay in prison much longer now, with 636 [Baronne St, the Justice Center office] most probably under water.

I remember the name Baronne Street, presumably from when I visited NO back in the mid-nineties. I crashed on Melissa Devnich's couch for a couple of days (she happily put up with me dropping in on her without notice in spite of not knowing me very well, which was exceptionally good of her). She was staying further out past Audobon Park. Apparently that whole area's been under water. It's a strange thought to add to the horrible news. When the hurricane was approaching, I thought about various things - my memories of hurricanes in the Caribbean when I was very small, and the prospect of the lovely historical buildings in the city being destroyed. It didn't really occur to me that the "compulsory evacuation" would be so half-assed, or the rescue efforts so under-resourced. Having things steadily get worse and worse over a period of days is rather reminiscent of watching the news during the few days after the tsunami. It'd be nice to think that things are getting better for everyone still stuck in the city, but I'm not convinced. And after that, of course, there's the matter of keeping them all going until the place is liveable again.

These are relative, of course - NO's about the size of Edinburgh, so I do realise that evacuating it was a herculean task. It was talked of as if it was all in hand, though, which I suppose I was distracted by.

This post keeps disappearing and reappearing. There's probably a metaphor for something important in there somewhere.
  • Current Mood: sombre
I'm sorry to hear about Rotblat. Granted, he was pushing on a bit, but he was a generally good chap.

It must be a bit galling to go to all of the trouble and expense of invading and occupying an oil-producing country only to find that your petrol prices have still risen.
Indeed. It'll probably be used as further excuse to wring Alaska out with a supersized mangle.

I hear a rumour that some fundie fruitcake (middle-eastern flavour) is claiming it's God's revenge on the US for their foreign policy. Whereas the mid-western-flavour are convinced that it's God's revenge on the US for licentiousness. Maybe all these bad things are God's revenge on people who keep blaming Him for everything?

If I get struck by lightning on the way home, you'll know it's true.
Today's FT said that Chavez in Venezula had offered gasoline as well as a big lecture.
Because Dubya is in charge here.
"It didn't really occur to me that the "compulsory evacuation" would be so half-assed, or the rescue efforts so under-resourced. "

This *is* the United States, remember? We base our public policy on ideology rather than reality, and the result is soldiers coming home dead from an unnecessary war because they've got no armor. Why should it surprise you that our government's words completely fail to be backed up by its actions? Our resources, despite what our beloved theocracy would have you believe, are finite, and they're being distributed VERY badly. Molly Ivins said it better than I can. I wonder if I can find a link...

-X.
Wow, sometimes this vanity googling turns out to be useful! Wierdly, I was thinking about SFSOC just the other day, idly wondering what people were up to mow, then I find this. Hi, Graham!

New Orleans: I was living at Riverbend at that point, yes? I had thought that area avoided the worst of the flooding, but, it's not like I was there. I moved to Seattle a year after your visit. (Currently I'm in Japan.) However, I still had several friends there, most of whom have since scattered across the country. What a shameful disaster.
Excellent. Wonderful to hear from you. I never thanked you enough for putting me up then. Thanks. It sounds like you've been having an interesting time since. This is obviously good.

Yes, you were at Riverbend then. I think it missed the worst, but information was a bit scarce. An ugly business, mainly because levees bursting are among the the most obviously foreseeable disasters.
You're welcome! I love having visitors. Speaking of which, I'll be here ~3 more years, so consider yourself invited.

My email, BTW, since it's not on my info page, is mdevnich AT yahoo.