Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said

Today I went looking for Katrina coverage, and found this weirdly beautiful photo. What do you reckon it is?


A row of school buses sits in floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005 east of New Orleans.

I found it at this New Orleans website. (In a few days that link will probably make no sense, but as I write this now there is a great list of Katrina photos you can rootle through.)

There sure are going to be some fine coffee table books when everything has been cleared up.

And here, I found this quote:

WDSU Channel 6, an NBC affiliate, moved its operations to two sister stations, one in Jackson, Miss., and another in Orlando, Fla. With some interruptions, it got back on the air and presented news and weather programming on its Web site as well. “The Web played a big role in all of this,” said Tom Campo, a spokesman for Hearst-Argyle, the station’s owner.

The Internet, as a decentralized communications network, can be more resilient than traditional media when natural disasters occur. “Owning broadcast towers and printing presses were useless,” said Jeff Jarvis, a consultant to online media companies. “The Web proved to be a better media in a case like this.”

Which surprises me. I would have thought that internet communication, being so heavily dependent in most instances on publicly supplied electricity, with no emergency back-up supplies, would collapse in an emergency, leaving the Big Old Media still functioning and feeling ever so slightly smug about it. Apparently with Katrina it was rather the opposite. Mind you, I only know this because I read it at the New York Times website.

Main lessons: if you are planning to be hit by a hurricane: be rich, and live in a rich country, with emergency services about which it makes sense to be optimistic. Own a car, don’t keep all your wealth in your house, pile what you can of it that is in your house into your car and get out of there.

Note that me quoting that bit about the media, and saying Be Rich, is a particular example of a general law, which is that when unexpected things happen, people will wallow, as quickly as they can, in what they already believe or want to believe. Some have said that Katrina proves that Global Warming is bad, and that the USA deserves a soaking for having caused Global Warming. Others have denounced those who said that as evil opportunists. Both of which opinions are what they both already thought anyway. I’m no different.

Writing about catastrophes for big readership places like Samizdata is very hard. What if you say something tasteless or stupid? Here, if I am tasteless or stupid, who cares? I mean, what are you going to do? Cancel your subscription? What I think I’ll do is copy and paste a particularly eloquent comment that someone left on an earlier Samizdata post, and make that into a posting in its own right. (Update: done.)

To anyone who chances upon this who is in any way badly affected by this catastrophe: bad luck mate. I hope things improve for you quickly. If what you have suffered in uncorrectable, like your granny drowning or something terrible like that, well, just bad luck, I guess.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

One thought on “Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said”

  1. One comment on the original posting:

    History is in the making as this will prove to be an economic, humanitarian and environmental disaster that politicians, businesses and students will study for years. MommyCool asks a great question and want to know who made the major network programming calls for Tuesday night and why? As New Orleans slowly flooded the day after hurricane Katrina departed, ABC-NBC-CBS-FOX chose to air their regular 3-hour meaningless evening programming. What about Americans without cable, Internet or satellite reception? You’d find that most Americans either: (A) Know someone displaced by the storm and flooding; (B) Have been to New Orleans which is a city that will never be the same; or, (C) will feel the household spending strains of $3.50-$4.00 per gallon gas in the coming months. The networks, which are licensed to broadcast programming in the nation’s best interest over the public airwaves, had their news divisions noticeable absent during primetime, Tuesday, August 30th. Instead, the American public was treated to Big Brother, Most Outrageous TV Moments, a double-dose of According To Jim – Rodney (?!) and House! Peter Jennings just rolled over in his grave. Will the broadcast networks wake up after the President addresses the nation today?

    Posted by PapaCool on 01 September 2005

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