September 08, 2005
New Orleans prediction
It should be obvious by now that reports of gunfire aimed at rescuers, hospitals, etc., will prove in the end to have been no such thing. Oh, I have no doubt there was plenty of gunfire, and that landing evacuation helicopters, etc. with that as your background noise was undoubtedly unnerving, but it will be clear in time that none of it was the result of people deliberately shooting at rescuers.
The real disaster story of New Orleans to me is the apparent determination of local officials, documented in multiple reports, to do anything they could to keep New Orleans refugees from walking themselves out of the stricken city and to safety (or for eager volunteers from outside the stricken region to help and evacuate them) even after both of the city's emergency shelters had been closed and the hotels had locked all their guests out.
PS: You have to love Reynolds' take on this same report... the two writers of the article have been revealed as trade unionists, and therefore we should all "hold our outrage." Well, consider it held, then. But given that this second story by a hotel-survivor would seem to confirm most of the essential details... well...
Lessons from the local news
1) This senseless tragedy comes from up in my mother's neck of the woods. I really can't stress this enough: if you are going off deep into the Canadian Shield (and the Missinaibi is about as untamed as you can get in North America these days without using a bush plane), hours from other human help, please, please, have every adult member of the party bring something like a proper knife, and never let them put it out of easy reach. (And one long gun per party, if you can get the necessary permits.) It's not just bears... if you get trapped under a windfall tree and can't hack your way out, you'd be just as dead in the end. And heroics are useless if you've ceded all humanity's natural advantages over the animals (grasping hands, steel, etc.) right from the outset.
2) If you are in a bitter political fight trying to preserve a military institution in downtown Toronto, to enable Torontonians to serve the country, and also to have a ready staging area to help the citizenry in time of natural disaster and emergency, against a pacifist/homeless lobby group that wants the Canadian military disbanded and all its remaining facilities turned over to the poor, just about the worst thing that can happen to your cause is have some of your members get charged with killing a homeless man in his sleeping bag just outside the building.
"endearingly macho" -- Mark Steyn
"wonderfully detailed analysis" -- John Allemang, Globe and Mail
"unusually candid" -- Tom Ricks, Foreignpolicy.com
Bill & Bob
Ghosts of Alex