September 02, 2005
I'M BLOGGING ABOUT SOME OTHER STUFF, but don't think that gets you off
the hook if you haven't donated to Katrina relief! Go here and give somebody some money. And if you've contributed, but haven't logged your contribution over at N.Z. Bear's place, and I'll bet that's most of you, well, go do it.
RAY KURZWEIL: The InstaPundit Interview
I've written before about Ray Kurzweil's new book, The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology,
and I thought it might be interesting to get him to expand on his
thoughts for InstaPundit readers. Following is an email interview I did
with him this past weekend.
GHR: Your book is called "The Singularity is Near" and -- as an
amusing photo makes clear -- you're spoofing those "The End is Near"
characters from the New Yorker cartoons.
For the benefit of those who aren't familiar with the topic, or
who may have heard other definitions, what is your definition of "The
Singularity?" And is it the end? Or a beginning?
RK: In chapter 1 of the book, I define the Singularity this way: “a
future period during which the pace of technological change will be so
rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly
transformed. Although neither utopian nor dystopian, this epoch will
transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives,
from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death
itself. Understanding the singularity will alter our perspective on the
significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly
understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and
one’s own particular life. I regard someone who understands the
Singularity and who has reflected on its implications for his or her
own life as a ‘singularitarian.’”
The Singularity is a transition, but to appreciate its importance,
one needs to understand the nature of exponential growth. On the one
hand, exponential growth is smooth with no discontinuities, and values
remains finite. On the other hand, it is explosive once we reach the
“knee of the curve.” The difference between what I refer to as the
“intuitive linear” view and the historically correct exponential view
is crucial, and I discuss my “law of accelerating returns” in detail in
the first two chapters. It is remarkable to me how many otherwise
thoughtful observers fail to understand that progress is exponential,
not linear. This failure underlies the common “criticism from
incredulity” that I discuss at the beginning of the “Response to
To describe these changes further, within a quarter century,
nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human
intelligence. It will then soar past it because of the continuing
acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability
of machines to instantly share their knowledge. Intelligent nanorobots
will be deeply integrated in our bodies, our brains, and our
environment, overcoming pollution and poverty, providing vastly
extended longevity, full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of
the senses, “experience beaming,” and vastly enhanced human
intelligence. The result will be an intimate merger between the
technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process
it spawned. But all of this is just the precursor to the Singularity.
Nonbiological intelligence will have access to its own design and will
be able to improve itself in an increasingly rapid redesign cycle.
We’ll get to a point where technical progress will be so fast that
unenhanced human intelligence will be unable to follow it. That will
mark the Singularity.
GHR: Over what timeframe do you see these things happening? And
what signposts might we look for that would indicate we're approaching
RK: I’ve consistently set 2029 as the date that we will create
Turing test-capable machines. We can break this projection down into
hardware and software requirements. In the book, I show how we need
about 10 quadrillion (1016) calculations per second (cps) to provide a
functional equivalent to all the regions of the brain. Some estimates
are lower than this by a factor of 100. Supercomputers are already at
100 trillion (1014) cps, and will hit 1016 cps around the end of this
decade. Two Japanese efforts targeting 10 quadrillion cps around the
end of the decade are already on the drawing board. By 2020, 10
quadrillion cps will be available for around $1,000. Achieving the
hardware requirement was controversial when my last book on this topic,
The Age of Spiritual Machines, came out in 1999, but is now pretty much
of a mainstream view among informed observers. Now the controversy is
focused on the algorithms.
To understand the principles of human intelligence, that is to
achieve the software designs, we need to reverse-engineer the human
brain. Here, progress is far greater than most people realize. The
spatial and temporal (time) resolution of brain scanning is also
progressing at an exponential rate, roughly doubling each year, like
most everything else having to do with information. Just recently,
scanning tools can see individual interneuronal connections, and watch
them fire in real time. Already, we have mathematical models and
simulations of a couple dozen regions of the brain, including the
cerebellum, which comprises more than half the neurons in the brain.
IBM is now creating a simulation of about 10,000 cortical neurons,
including tens of millions of connections. The first version will
simulate the electrical activity, and a future version will also
simulate the relevant chemical activity. By the mid 2020s, it’s
conservative to conclude that we will have effective models for all of
So at this point, we’ll have a full understanding of the methods of
the human brain, which will expand the toolkit of techniques we can
apply to create artificial intelligence. We will then be able to create
nonbiological systems that match human intelligence in the ways that
humans are now superior, for example, our pattern- recognition
abilities. These superintelligent computers will also be able to do
things we are not able to do, such as share knowledge and skills at
By 2030, a thousand dollars of computation will be about a thousand
times more powerful than a human brain. Keep in mind also that
computers will not be organized as discrete objects as they are today.
There will be a web of computing deeply integrated into the
environment, our bodies and brains.
Achieving Turing test-capable nonbiological intelligence will be an
important milestone, but this is not the Singularity. This is just
creating more human-level intelligence. We already have billions of
examples of human-level intelligence. Of course, there will be enormous
benefits of machine intelligence with human level capabilities in that
machines will be able to combine the now complimentary strengths of
human and machine intelligence. Our biological thinking takes place at
chemical gradient speeds of a few hundred feet per second, millions of
times slower than electronics. And our communication speeds are at the
speed of human language, again millions of times slower than what
machines are capable of. Of course, our language ability has been very
important – other animal species don’t have species-wide knowledge
bases at all, let alone exponentially expanding ones, and the ability
to share them.
In terms of signposts, credible reports of computer passing the full
Turing test will be a very important one, and that signpost will be
preceded by non-credible reports of successful Turing tests.
A key insight here is that the nonbiological portion of our
intelligence will expand exponentially whereas our biological thinking
is effectively fixed. When we get the mid 2040s, according to my models
the nonbiological portion of our civilization’s thinking ability will
be billions of times greater than the biological portion. Now that
represents a profound change.
The term “Singularity” in my book and by the Singularity aware
community is comparable to the use of this term by the physics
community. Just as we find it hard to see beyond the event horizon of a
black hole, we also find it difficult to see beyond the event horizon
of the historical Singularity. How can we, with our limited biological
brains, imagine what our future civilization, with its intelligence
multiplied billions and ultimately trillions of trillions fold, be
capable of thinking and doing? Nevertheless, just as we can draw
conclusions about the nature of black holes through our conceptual
thinking, despite never having actually been inside one, our thinking
today is powerful enough to have meaningful insights into the
implications of the Singularity. That’s what I’ve tried to do in this
GHR: You look at three main areas of technology, what's usually
called GNR for Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics. But it's my
impression that you regard Artificial Intelligence -- strong AI -- as
the most important aspect. I've often wondered about that. I'm reminded
of James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, who worked his way up the theological
food chain past God to Koschei The Deathless, the real ruler of the
Universe, only to discover that Koschei wasn't very bright, really.
Jurgen, who prided himself on being a "monstrous clever fellow,"
learned that "Cleverness was not on top, and never had been."
Cleverness isn't power in the world we live in now -- it helps to be
clever, but many clever people aren't powerful, and you don't have to
look far to see that many powerful people aren't clever. Why should
artificial intelligence change that? In the calculus of tools-to-power,
is it clear that a ten-times-smarter-than-human AI is worth more than a
ten megaton warhead?
RK: This is a clever – and important – question, which has different
aspects to it. One aspect is what is the relationship between
intelligence and power? Does power result from intelligence? It would
seem that there are many counterexamples.
But to piece this apart, we first need to distinguish between
cleverness and true intelligence. Some people are clever or skillful in
certain ways but have judgement lapses that undermine their own
effectiveness. So their overall intelligence is muted.
We also need to clarify the concept of power as there are different
ways to be powerful. The poet laureate may not have much impact on
interest rates (although conceivably a suitably pointed poem might
affect public opinion), but s/he does have influence in the world of
poetry. The kids who hung out on Bronx street corners some decades back
also had limited impact on geopolitical issues, but they did play an
influential role in the creation of the hip hop cultural movement with
their invention of break dancing. Can you name the German patent clerk
who wrote down his day dreams (mental experiments) on the nature of
time and space? How powerful did he turn out to be in the world of
ideas, as well as on the world of geopolitics? On the other hand, can
you name the wealthiest person at that time? Or the U.S. Secretary of
State in 1905? Or even the President of the U.S.?
Another important point is that it is possible to put power in the
bank, so to speak. Of course, we can literally put money in the bank,
and money is power. It generally takes intelligence to create power in
the first place – again keeping in mind that there are different types
of power. So one can use one’s intelligence to make money and then put
it in the bank. Or one can use one’s intelligence to become a famous
poet or a famous rap artist, and then people will listen to your next
creation based on your past laurels.
Such stored power can be maintained by organizations as well as
individuals – the power of a company or a nation, for example. It takes
intelligence to create the power – any kind of power – in the first
place, but it can then be stored. But a lack of intelligence will cause
that power to dissipate, not instantly, but over time it will act like
a slow leak. An organization may have as its nominal leader someone who
may not be especially intelligent, but there may nonetheless be
intelligence around that person. But if the organization truly lacks
intelligence, and acts foolishly, it will lose its store of power over
A study of history will show that the technologically more
sophisticated (and we can certainly consider technology to be a
manifestation of intelligence) civilization prevails. The rise of India
and China in recent history is certainly a manifestation of the
intelligence and education of their citizens (more on that later).
Israel has little land and no significant natural resources, yet its
gross national product is now several times that of Saudi Arabia due to
the education and technological sophistication of its citizens.
In short, it is my view that ultimately intelligence prevails, even
though the ability to save and store it acts as a “low pass filter,” to
use an engineering term.
The other interesting aspect of your question has to do with the
whole promise versus peril question. The promise side of the equation
is the opportunity for these accelerating technologies to advance
complexity, where complexity is meaningful knowledge including all of
the arts and sciences, as well as human skills. To take an extreme
example of what you refer to as power without intelligence, gray goo
certainly represents power – destructive power – and if such an
existential threat were to prevail, it would represent a catastrophic
loss of complexity. It would be a triumph of raw power over
intelligence. A ten megaton warhead is similar. Note that in such
scenarios, the power that might succeed over intelligence is invariably
a destructive power.
Now I have been accused of being an optimist on these questions, and
I think that accusation has merit. On the other hand, I was also the
person that alerted Bill Joy to the dangers of technology, which
started with our discussion in a Lake Tahoe bar room in September of
1998. And it would not at all be accurate to say that I am sanguine or
dismissive about these dangers. I address them in some detail in
chapter 8 of Singularity is Near as you know.
We have an existential threat now in the form of the possibility of
a bioengineered malevolent biological virus. With all the talk of
bioterrorism, the possibility of a bioengineered bioterrorism agent
gets little and inadequate attention. The tools and knowledge to create
a bioengineered pathogen are more widespread than the tools and
knowledge to create an atomic weapon, yet it could be far more
destructive. I’m on the Army Science Advisory Group (a board of five
people who advise the Army on science and technology), and the Army is
the institution responsible for the nation’s bioterrorism protection.
Without revealing anything confidential, I can say that there is acute
awareness of these dangers, but there is neither the funding nor
national priority to address them in an adequate way.
The answer is not relinquishment of these advanced technologies as I
argue in the chapter because in addition to depriving humankind of the
profound benefits (such as effective treatments for cancer, heart
disease and other diseases), it would actually make the dangers worse
by driving these technologies underground where responsible
practitioners would not have easy access to the tools to develop the
defenses. The real answer is to put more stones on the defensive side
of the scale. Along these lines, I’ve testified to Congress (http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0556.html)
on my proposal for a “Manhattan” style project to quickly develop a
quick response system for new biological viruses, whether human-made or
natural. For example, we could put in place a system which would
quickly sequence a new virus, create an RNAi (RNA interference)
medication for it (RNAi has shown to be effective to combat a specific
biological virus because almost all biological viruses use messenger
RNA which RNAi blocks), and then rapidly build up production. In this
testimony I also address similar issues for nanotechnology, which are
still a couple of decades away.
The response of some other observers, such as Richard Smalley, is to
just deny that such dangers as self-replicating nanotechnology are
feasible. As I point out in the book, he has made this motivation
explicit. And although the existential nanotechnology danger is not yet
at hand, denial is not the appropriate strategy.
So, yes, it is possible for the destructive (complexity destroying)
powers represented by one of the existential threats I discuss in
chapter 8 to prevail. I’m optimistic that they won’t, but less
optimistic that we can avoid all painful events. Technology accelerated
smoothly through the twentieth (and all prior) centuries, but we
certainly didn’t avoid painful episodes.
GHR: It seems to me that one of the characteristics of the
Singularity is the development of what might be seen as weakly godlike
powers on the part of individuals. Will society be able to handle that
sort of thing? The Greek gods had superhuman powers (pretty piddling
ones, in many ways, compared to what we're talking about) but an
at-least-human degree of egocentrism, greed, jealousy, etc. Will
post-Singularity humanity do better?
RK: Arguably we already have powers comparable to the Greek gods,
albeit, as you point out, piddling ones compared to what is to come.
For example, you are able to write ideas in your blog and instantly
communicate them to just those people who are interested. We have many
ways of communicating our thoughts to precisely those persons around
the world with whom we wish to share ideas. If you want to acquire an
antique plate with a certain inscription, you have a good chance of
quickly finding the person who has it. We have increasingly rapid
access to our exponentially growing human knowledge base.
Human egocentrism, greed, jealousy, and other emotions that emerged
from our evolution in much smaller clans has nonetheless not prevented
the smooth, exponential growth of knowledge and technology through the
centuries. So I don’t see these emotional limitations halting the
ongoing progression of technology.
Adaptation to new technologies does not occur by old technologies
suddenly disappearing. The old paradigms persist while new ones take
root quickly. A great deal of economic commerce, for example, now
transcends national boundaries, but the boundaries are still there,
even if now less significant.
But there is reason for believing we will be in a position to do
better than in times past. One important upcoming development will be
the reverse-engineering of the human brain. In addition to giving us
the principles of operation of human intelligence that will expand our
AI tool kit, it will also give us unprecedented insight into ourselves.
As we merge with our technology, and as the nonbiological portion of
our intelligence begins to predominate in the 2030s, we will have the
opportunity to apply our intelligence to improving on – redesigning –
these primitive aspects of it.
GHR: The term "Singularity" -- as applied to technological/social change -- was coined by Vernor Vinge,
who is both a professor of computer science and a science fiction
writer. Since then, the idea has appeared in all sorts of science
fiction by Vinge and others. I recently read Charles Stross's Accelerando,
where it's predicted that once the entire mass of the Solar System has
been devoted to computation, it will be taken over by automated
sentient legal documents and the equivalent of 419 scams and spambots.
I suspect that Stross was trying a bit hard to be clever, but what
science-fictional treatments do you find compelling, if any? What do
they get right and wrong?
RK: If the computational substrate that manifests our intelligence
later in this century becomes taken over by scans and spambots, that
would represent an existential failure, comparable to the triumph of a
bioengineered biological virus or gray goo. We already have a complex
ecology in the substrate represented today by our computers and the
Internet. But we don’t see self-replicating software entities
dominating and crowding out useful complexity.
With regard to science fiction, it should be pointed out that the
science fiction/futurism movies of the most recent decade often
represent the written science fiction of a couple of decades earlier.
Most science futurism movies make the mistake of taking one future
change and applying that to today’s world as if nothing else will
change. For example, the movie AI depicts near human-level cyborgs, but
everything else from the coffee maker to the cars are essentially
unchanged. The Matrix movies, although dystopian as is common among
science futurism films, do provide a somewhat more comprehensive view
of the future nature of virtual reality.
It is difficult for the science fiction genre to deal effectively
with the many diverse changes that a realistic depiction of the future
would entail. It would require explaining a panoply of changes. It is
easier for a writer to concentrate on the literary challenges of one
type of change while being able to lean on an otherwise familiar
landscape to create the needed human drama.
One science fiction writer who has made effective attempts at
depicting the many profound changes that lie ahead is Cory Doctorow.
His novel usr/bin/god (which I discuss on pages 271-272) depicts a
genetic algorithm that evolves a Turing test-capable AI. The evaluation
function is to send each AI program out to interact in chat rooms and
determine how long each system can last without being challenged by one
of the human participants with a statement like, “what are you, a bot,
or something?” This is an interesting idea and may be a good way of
finishing the strong AI project once we get close.
GHR: If an ordinary person were trying to prepare for the
Singularity now, what should he or she do? Is there any way to prepare?
And, for that matter, how should societies prepare, and can they?
RK: In essence, The Singularity will be an explosion of human
knowledge made possible by the amplification of our intelligence
through its merger with its exponentially growing variant. Creating
knowledge requires passion, so one piece of advice would be to follow
That having been said, we need to keep in mind that the cutting edge
of the GNR revolutions is science and technology. So individuals need
to be science and computer literate. And societies need to emphasize
science and engineering education and training. Along these lines,
there is reason for concern in the U.S. I’ve attached seven charts I’ve
put together (that you’re welcome to use) that show some disturbing
trends. Bachelor degrees in engineering in the U.S. were 70,000 per
year in 1985, but have dwindled to around 53,000 in 2000. In China, the
numbers were comparable in 1985 but have soared to 220,000 in 2000, and
have continued to rise since then. We see the same trend comparison in
all other technological fields including computer science and the
natural sciences. We see the same trends in other Asian countries such
as Japan, Korea, and India (India is not shown in these graphs). We
also see the same trends on the doctoral level as well.
One counterpoint one could make is that the U.S. leads in the
application of technology. Our musicians and artists, for example, are
very sophisticated in the use of computers. If you go to the NAMM
(National Association of Music Merchants) convention, it looks and
reads like a computer conference. I spoke recently to the American
Library Association, and the presentations were all about data bases
and search tools. Essentially every conference I speak at, although
diverse in topic, look and read like computer conferences.
But there is an urgent need in our country to attract more young
people to science and engineering. We need to make these topics cool
PATTERICO: "The Los Angeles Times Once Again Edits the Truth Out of a Wire Story."
THE FEDERAL RESERVE on Katrina. (Via NewsAlert).
READER ELIZABETH KING EMAILS:
I'm in the Jackson area in central Mississippi and got my power
restored on Wednesday afternoon -- about 48 hours after it went out.
I'm one of the lucky ones, because a big part of central Mississippi is
still as dark as the coast,but of course not anywhere close to as
devastated. Some folks here had damage to their houses from wind and
falling trees, but no loss of life this far north that I know about. We
are 150 miles north of the coast, and I sure never expected to get a
hurricane up here, but I think it was only a Category 1 by the time we
Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you would send out a thank you from
Mississippi to all the out-of-state power company workers who have been
working around the clock in 90+ heat to help us get power back up. Our
own folks have been magnificent as well, but I just wanted to let the
out-of-staters know that their kindness and generosity will not be
forgotten. They literally poured into the state to pitch in, before the
storm was even over. Most of us can't even offer them a glass of iced
tea, but they have been on the front line in helping us begin to get
back to normal. Many, many, many (did I say MANY) power lines are down,
even in this part of the state, and the Coast just looks like it's been
bombed. Lots of live power lines and leaking gas lines down there, and
these folks are literally risking their own safety to help us. There
are a LOT of heroes in this story, but I just wanted to make sure that
the linemen and other power workers are not forgotten. Like a lot of
the first responders, we don't pay them nearly what they are worth, but
they are brave and wonderful and inspiring. Please tell them thanks.
I've always admired power workers, and their sense of mission after disasters.
UPDATE: Reader Lee Lowrey emails:
Just to reinforce the post from Elizabeth King in Central
Mississippi: As I drove back to Northeast Georgia from Richmond,
Virginia this past Tuesday afternoon, August 30th, I was absolutely
amazed by the almost-non-stop line of power company convoys heading
south on I-85. Not just the shear numbers (I must have passed over 100
trucks), but their origins – I saw power companies from Georgia, North
Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It was
truly an awesome, emotional sight…
We'll start to see rapid progress by next week, I imagine, though
it'll be months before things are set right, given the scale of the
UP: I mentioned earlier that Amazon has a donation link on its page,
and Yahoo. So does Google, and reader Michael Pierce emails: "Apple
iTunes store is accepting donations for the American Red Cross - and
not taking any cut from the transaction."
HUGH HEWITT is trying something new for disaster relief.
THIS IS GOOD:
The United States has an oil reserve at least three times that of
Saudi Arabia locked in oil-shale deposits beneath federal land in
Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a study released yesterday. .
For years, the industry and the government considered oil shale — a
rock that produces petroleum when heated — too expensive to be a
feasible source of oil.
However, oil prices, which spiked above $70 a barrel this week,
combined with advances in technology could soon make it possible to tap
the estimated 500 billion to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels, the
I think this means that we'll have plenty of oil, if somewhat more
expensively, to last until we switch to something better. That's why,
as I've said before, the "Peak Oil" analysis is, at most, "Peak Cheap
Oil." And it may well be that, once started, the cost of extracting
this stuff will fall significantly. (Via NewsAlert).
READER ROGER ARANGO says that we shouldn't be criticizing the efforts of New Orleans or the federal authorities:
Katrina tells us that nature is more powerful than any of us mere
mortals can comprehend. But still, mere mortals do the best they can—as
an emergency management type in a small rural Washington state county,
I don’t see any thing else that could have been done. In short, the
local officials did a brilliant job in evacuating a major city within
30 hours. They established a location people could go to so they
wouldn’t die in flood waters. And the response thus far has been
magnificent—is there looting: yes; are there other infirmaties of human
nature? Of course—but let no one doubt, the response to this major
natural disaster has been superb. And small nitpicking critics will
cavil and snipe—but consider what might have been.
Well, it could have been worse, certainly. I do think that a firmer
hand with looters early on, in line with "broken windows" theory, might
have forestalled the more egregious lawlessness we're seeing now. But
this is a natural disaster without parallel in American history -- like
the Chicago Fire if it had spread across three states -- and disaster
relief isn't like calling Domino's. Nor does the fact that we're
Americans somehow offer supernatural protection from the consequences
of a calamity like this.
Bridges are out, roads are blocked, boats are sunk, and all sorts of
other infrastructure is down. Aid can't get through in quantity until
that's fixed, at least somewhat. In a situation like this, the first
week you get a trickle, the second week you get enough, and the third
week you get pretty much all you want. We're still in week one. That,
as I've noted elsewhere, is why the standard disaster-preparation advice is to have enough food and water to get you through a week on your own.
Meanwhile, it's interesting to see Bill Clinton slamming CNN for second-guessing and nitpicking.
My own take: Some of the nitpicking and complaining may well be
justified, even beyond the inevitable dropped balls in something like
this. But there will be plenty of time for that later. Right now,
people should be focusing on constructive action, not point-scoring.
UPDATE: On the other hand, Free Will Blog, which was defending Nagin the other day, has turned critic, noting that the breakdown in law and order is a major holdup for rescue efforts.
INTERESTING that they're releasing this information on the Friday before Labor Day:
Pentagon officials said Thursday they have found three more people
who recall an intelligence chart that identified Sept. 11 mastermind
Mohamed Atta as a terrorist one year before the attacks on New York and
I've been counting on Tom Maguire and Ed Morrissey to keep me up on this whole Able Danger thing. I expect that they'll have more to say on it as the weekend continues.
September 01, 2005
ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has a collection of hurricane exploitation quotes.
FLOOD AID UPDATE: Here are some places you can donate to hurricane Katrina relief: (Bumped to top -- scroll down for the latest posts, which continue to be added below this one.) [LATER: First blogburst installment is up -- scroll down to see the links.] [LATER STILL: There's lots more, now.]
LATER: Don't forget to log your contribution over at N.Z. Bear's. Sorry -- I missed that earlier or I would have noted it sooner.
By the way, people want to know where I gave. I donated $500 to the
Salvation Army, whose work I've respected. I'm also going to donate
some money to help some folks who have wound up here, as soon as I
figure out where to send the money. Oh, and the Mercy Corps ad is a
freebie, via something Henry Copeland is doing.
American Red Cross
Catholic Charities is involved, and probably has lots of resources to draw on in the heavily Catholic New Orleans area.
Austin Bay is recommending Episcopal Relief and Development.
Liz at Rightalk suggests that animal lovers donate to the Humane Society.
Here's a link to Mennonite Disaster Services. The Sanity Inspector says they're highly efficient.
Reader Peter Viditto recommends The Mercy Corps
Here's the link for Methodist Relief.
Lisa Larkin recommends Operation Blessing.
The Salvation Army does good work. (WalMart just gave them a million dollars, but that's just the barest beginning of what's needed.)
Hugh Hewitt recommends Samaritan's Purse
Scott Ott recommends Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Numerous readers recommend United Jewish Charities.
Here's a link to LDS Humanitarian Services.
Soldiers' Angels has a special relief fund to benefit returning servicepeople in the disaster area.
Blog-based charity Strengthen The Good is setting up a donation matching program.
I'll keep updating this as I get new suggestions.
Jay Allen has a further suggestion:
I would suggest people donate through their companies whenever
possible. Most major corporations offer matching funds to the dollar
for charitable donations. Find who's collecting money for relief
efforts, then file for a match through your employer instead of sending
to the agency directly.
Not bad -- if your employer is supporting this.
Chuck Simmins is tracking corporate donations.
Here's the link for N.Z. Bear's Katrina relief aggregator page.
Here's FEMA's list of recommended charities.
More charitable links at Little Green Footballs.
Walmart has set up a Community Crisis System that lets people post messages to, and read messages from loved ones. (Actual page is here.) Mike Krempasky says that
Basically - you can go into any store in the country, log onto any
walmart website - or even call a hotline 800 number and either post a
message to loved ones, or search for messages *from* loved ones.
Employees and customers, everyone can use it.
(This is available in any Wal-Mart Store, SAM'S CLUB, Neighborhood
Market, or Distribution Center via the hiring center kiosks,
connection center kiosks, gift registry, and all Wal-Mart websites.)
Lefty blogger Skippy
has donated, and is issuing a challenge to bloggers left and right.
"this is not about red states v. blue states...this is not about left
v. right...this is not about liberal v. conservative... the people in
louisiana, mississippi and alabama are americans. this is about
america. and americans have historically always rolled up their sleeves
and pitched in to help out their fellow countrymen in need."
Amen. Even the capitals-impaired ones!
Craigslist New Orleans has offers of housing for Katrina refugees.
UPDATE: The plan for tomorrow's flood-aid blogburst: I'd like each
blogger participating to put up a post recommending a charity, or other
action to help, and linking back to this post where I'll keep a
comprehensive list of both bloggers and charities. Basically, a
Carnival of Hurricane Relief. That way readers of any blog will have
ready access to recommendations on all the blogs. If anyone has a
better idea, let me know.
Be sure to send me a link to your post, so that I can link it here. Put "Katrina Flood Aid" in the subject line.
LATER: Please don't send any more links! I woke up this
morning (Thursday) and my mailbox is jammed. I don't know how I'll post
all of these, but I'll figure something out, I guess.
LATER STILL: Bring 'em on! My morning and afternoon
appointments are cancelled, yesterday's migraine is pretty much gone,
and John Tabin has volunteered to help, so send your links.
Okay it's not tomorrow yet -- except in China, as GZExpat reminded
me -- but this stuff is pouring in and I think I'd better get a head
start so that I'll have time to teach my classes and such on Thursday.
Here's the first batch of links, with more to follow:
Ah, Shoot! suggests Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Disaster Response.
American Geek suggests UMC Disaster Relief.
Anklebiting Pundits recommend The Mercy Corps.
Arabie suggests the Red Cross. There's also information on how to get aid from them if you need it.
La Shawn Barber recommends the Salvation Army.
Michael Barone picks the Salvation Army.
Below the Beltway suggests Catholic Charities.
Domenico Bettinelli has multiple suggestions.
California Conservative recommends the American Red Cross.
Eric Cowperthwaite suggests the Red Cross and the United Way.
Mark DeForrest has multiple recommendations.
The Eclectic Econoclast recommends the Canadian Red Cross to Canadians wanting to give.
The Gospel Messenger recommends Church World Service.
GZ Expat suggests Lutheran World Relief and Catholic Charities.
Hugh Hewitt is donating to the Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans.
Greg Hlatky recommends the American Kennel Club's Canine Relief Fund for lost or abandoned dogs.
Kenny, Karina & Jacob's Adventures in Deutschland recommends Samaritan's Purse.
Life of Rubin suggests Chabad of Louisiana.
Mark LaRoi suggests Feed the Children.
Left Brain Female recommends Operation Blessing.
Rick Lippincott recommends the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, MS, which took a beating.
Lump on a Blog recommends Second Harvest.
Mr. Spkr recommends Feed the Children.
The New Editor has multiple suggestions.
No Government Cheese suggests the Atlanta Red Cross.
Bill Quick recommends the Salvation Army.
The Ringleader has multiple suggestions.
Tim Russo recommends multiple charities.
Ruthie in the Sky says give to any approved charity.
Soapbox Politics suggests multiple charities.
Mark Steyn is endorsing the Mercy Corps
-- and pledging revenues from book sales via his site, too. "Don't
worry, it's not one of these dodgy deals involving an unstated 'portion
of profits.' You get the book, Mercy Corps get the full US$19.95."
Taxable Talk recommends the Salvation Army and United Jewish Charities.
Traffic Circles suggests Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
Uzzman recommends the Mercy Corps.
Sissy Willis recommends the AHA/Animal Rescue League effort.
SECOND INSTALLMENT: Okay, I'm totally overwhelmed with
"Katrina Flood Aid" emails -- there are hundreds and hundreds. I'm
going to keep posting as the day goes on, but no fancy alphabetical
order or clever comments. And I'm not repeatedly linking to the same
charities; I'll just mention 'em. There are just too many!
Kathy Kinsley has taken up Skppy's challenge and donated to the Salvation Army.
Laughing Wolf and Babalu Blog are offering gifts to people who donate.
Bloggledygook has a wide range of charities, some not listed above.
Baseball Musings is giving to the Salvation Army, the Mennonite Disaster Relief folks, and the Humane Society.
Betsy Newmark is endorsing the Red Cross and Feed the Children.
SgtStryker.Com recommends Lutheran World Relief and the Salvation Army.
has a lot of links, and emails: "Side note: I'm also trying to find
anyone with contacts in the shipping industry who can help me get a
truck/transport donated - I'm going to start a local drive for school
supplies to be sent to both the Astrodome and Baton Rouge for displaced
kids who will be transferring to schools near their shelters." Let her
know if you can help.
Dodgeblog is supporting the American Red Cross.
Damian Penny recommends the Canadian Red Cross, and has another post with charities accepting donations from Canadians.
William Teach is supporting the American Red Cross.
Ed Morrissey is supporting Catholic Charities and has some other thoughts.
PowerPundit recommends the Salvation Army.
Brendan Loy is going with the Salvation Army.
David Gerstman recommends the Orthodox Union Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.
Baldilocks recommends Soldiers' Angels.
Teak Talks is giving to the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, which helps craftspeople in trouble.
DLMSY recommends Americares.
Annika recommends Catholic Charities.
HiWired's corporate blog has joined the fund and recommends several charities.
Free Money Finance,/a> is matching reader donations.
Five Cent Nickel lists numerous charities.
Back Seat Drivers recommends Chabad New Orleans.
Jeff Quinton recommends the Salvation Army, and notes that Wizbang has its own effort underway.
Ed Cone is endorsing the Red Cross.
Pejman Yousefzadeh is endorsing United Jewish Communities.
Blonde Sagacity recommends the Red Cross. She's got pictures, too.
supports the Salvation Army, and challenges musicians and music lovers.
" Just as New York and Chicago were great melting pots for America, so
was New Orleans. It melted together the musical traditions of France,
England, Africa, and Spain and created a uniquely American music - the
first world music."
Scrappleface is recommending Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
John Tabin recommends the Union for Reform Judaism's Hurricane Relief Fund.
Rachel at TinkertyTonk recommends the Salvation Army.
WorldViews has numerous links, for now and for the aftermath.
Samantha Pierce has multiple recommendations, and suggests ministrywatch as a tool for checking out religious charities.
The Fat Guy is supporting the Salvation Army, and is offering free RV hookups at his park in Texas.
More via John Tabin -- thanks, John!
Alan at Petrified Truth recommends Houston Food Bank.
Jim Dunn at Southern Appeal recommends The Best Friends Animal Society.
Posse Incitatus recommends Catholic Charities and notes that "a few Hail Marys can't hurt, either."
Aliens in This World endorse Catholic Charities.
Brian Warbiany will match up to $100 for a reputable charity to be chosen by the first reader to respond.
Witch of the Dogs supports The Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana.
Jack Garber, Director of Member Services for Christian Service Charities, emails to note the relief efforts of several CSC member charitiess.
Elephant in Exile has several recommendations.
Michelle Malkin likes Mercy Corps.
Along the Tracks recommends Lutheran Services in America and notes that Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will match member donations.
Jeremy Dibbell has a couple of recommendations.
Ed Brenegar supports Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Area417 has multiple recommendations.
The American Princess has many suggestions.
suggests contacting your alumni association or other membership group,
as personal assistance to an old friend can often go beyond what a
Matthew Eppinette recommends the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Fund.
Jason Clarke points to a blogger in New Orleans collecting for herself and others.
The Dummocrats choose the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation.
CaribPundit endorses LCMS World Relief.
Ipsissima Verba recommends Catholic Charities.
Cadmusings likes International Disaster Emergency Service.
Still more, via John Tabin's fiance, Sara DelVillano. Thanks Sara!
Sundries recommends several charities.
My Side of the Puddle supports The Red Cross.
GM's Corner. recommends Operation USA.
Tim Sisk suggests The United Methodist Committee on Relief.
The Blog from the Core recommends Catholic Charities.
The Disgruntled Chemist supports Network for Good.
PoliBlog; suggests Habitat for Humanity.
The Musings of Kev supports several charities.
Ella M. links to many charities.
Hyscience; supports many worthy charities.
The Fast Squirrel recommends Samaritan's Purse.
FullosseousFlap; recommends Catholic Charities.
USS Neverdock supports The Red Cross.
Matthew Maynard supports Feed The Children.
Nancy at My Garden Spot recommends The Harris County Citizen Corps.
Brent Colbert links to the Canadian Red Cross.
Eric McErlain supports the American Red Cross.
The Pryhills suggests Noah's Wish.
Mystery Pollster supports the Red Cross.
Lent & Beyond links to many charities.
Getting Nothing But Static... suggests the Red Cross and others.
Ang recommends the Red Cross.
The Raving Athiest is offering refrigerator magnets and a personalized limerick to anyone who contributes $10 or more to Catholic Charities.
A List of Things Thrown... suggests Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Angry in the Great White North supports the United Negro College Fund.
TigerSmack will be liveblogging from Baton Rouge.
Over at Crooked Timber, Ted Barlow is offering a premium for donations. And so is his co-blogger Eszter. You can decide which one appeals to you more!
The Counterterrorism Blog has multiple links.
Virginia Postrel recommends the North Texas Food Bank
and comments: "What refugees are going to need is help getting settled
in new places to live: first and last month's rent, furniture, etc.
(Right now, I wish someone would find a fund to pay for hotel rooms.
Bloggers' Blog recommends the Red Cross.
Forward Biased recommends Bill Hennessy's home-sharing arrangement.
SportsBizBlog recommends United Jewish Charities.
The Razor has multiple recommendations.
Joanne Norton doesn't have a blog, but sends this page of places to help.
Holy Fool supports Catholic Charities.
SkyePuppy recommends the International Disaster Emergency Service.
Queer Conservative has multiple links and notes a Morgan Freeman fundraising effort.
Kim's Notebook has multiple links.
CalTechGirl recommends UMCOR.
Joe Gandelman has multiple recommendations.
ToneCluster is supporting the American Red Cross via CDBaby.
Still more, again via John Tabin. Thanks again, John!
Jay at Solo Dialogue has two suggestions.
The Other Club likes the Red Cross.
Vik Rubenfeld has several suggestions.
Ryne McClaren likes the Red Cross and , plus the AKC.
Amy Helfman endorses the Red Cross, which helped her friend BL Ochman's after 9/11.
Sun Comprehending Glass suggests Samaritan's Purse to help the two-legged and the Humane Society to help the four-legged.
Infinite Improbability recommends the Presbyterian Church in America Mission To North America's Hurricane Relief Fund.
Lissa Kay supports the Red Cross and also notes the Petfinder.com Foundation Hurricane Fund, which is affiliated with several animal rescue groups.
Everyman recommends Mercy Corps.
Keith of In Which Our Hero likes Habitat for Humanity.
Duane of The Forest For The Trees notes that recovery efforts need accurate mapping, and GIS experts who can volunteer their time have an important role to play.
Matt Jones endorses World Vision.
Justin Hein has several suggestions.
Blogging for Bryant recommends Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Ho John Lee is a Red Cross fan.
Kevin Ecker is another Red Cross fan.
Baseball Crank notes the Baseball Think Factory effort to get affected kids back in cleats.
Stephen Carlson points to the McCormick Tribune Foundation, who will kick in 50 cents for each of the first million dollars they collect.
Captoe recommends Catholic Charities.
Looking Around recommends Direct Relief International.
McGee's Musings recommends the Red Cross.
Red Guy in a Blue State recommends the Knights of Columbus.
Six Meat Buffet is pushing the Salvation Army.
"Tattoo Couture" site Needled.com is raising money to help a New Orleans tattooist who's been left destitute.
Buzz Brockway recommends Samaritan's Purse.
Leigh Black, better known as the Jager Bitch, is supporting the Red Cross.
Kowabunga recommends multiple charities.
Allison Ashwell has lots of links and information.
My Name is Kate is pushing the Red Cross and warns people to beware of email Phishing scams.
Eduwonk says mail the money and save the credit card fees, and publishes the American Red Cross's address.
The Right Place endorses Catholic Charities.
XMLGRRL recommends Punditeria's hyperlocal resources, and the Red Cross.
BareKnucklePolitics endorses the Red Cross.
Nicholas Schweitzer recommends the Red Cross, too.
Combs Spouts Off endorses the Salvation Army.
Book Kitten wants help for the Louisiana Library Association disaster relief fund.
The Well-Timed Period recommends the Red Cross and the CDC Foundation.
Lucky Dawg recommends America's Second Harvest.
Common Folk Using Common Sense recommends the Salvation Army.
NanoDot says give to any qualified charity.
Tobias Buckell recommends Modest Needs.
David M recommends the Red Cross and United Jewish Communities.
Business of Life recommends the Red Cross.
Stingray recommends the Southern Baptist Relief Fund and Catholic Charities.
Blogging Tories recommends the American or Canadian Red Cross.
So does Stephen Taylor.
Wheat and Weeds recommends Catholic Charities.
King Banaian recommends the ELCA International and Domestic Disaster Response.
Diario Hoy recommends the United Way.
The Troglodyte has multiple recommendations.
Sharon GR recommends Habitat for Humanity.
John Hinderaker backs Lutheran Social Services.
Brendan Loy recommends the Salvation Army.
Doranwen recommends Adventist Development and Relief.
Dizzy Girl recommends the American Red Cross.
Oddybobo recommends the Salvation Army.
Lady Jane recommends Catholic Charities.
Tom Grey recommends Caritas International.
Technorati Tags: flood aid, Hurricane Katrina
I'm copying FEMA's disclaimer
here, too, even though I think it's overkill. I can't vouch for these
organizations personally, of course, and it's up to you to be sure that
you're donating to the right place:
Please check with your tax advisor or the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) for more information regarding the tax deductibility of your
The listing of or omission of an institution or organization on this
Web site does not refer to programmatic capability nor does it confer
any official status, approval, or endorsement of the institution or
organization itself. This listing does not purport to be a listing of
all organizations that are providing relief in the affected area.
Additionally, there may be organizations providing relief in the
affected area that are not accepting donations at this time. It is not
the purpose of this Web site to make, or enable to be made, any
representation to the public concerning the organizations listed. This
listing is for informational purposes only. Any contributions you
choose to make from links on this Web site are at your sole discretion.
READER DUNCAN FRISSELL sends this Verizon EVDO coverage map for Knoxville. Looks like coverage is quite broad.
CONTRARY TO LILEKS, below, the French are wanting to help:
French humanitarian aid officials met on Thursday to examine ways of
providing support for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United
States, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said. France is considering
ways of mobilizing relief teams from the French Antilles in the
Caribbean, ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said at a news conference.
Don't call 'em stingy yet!
AN IDEA THAT'S SO SIMPLE, LIKE THE JITTERBUG, THAT IT'S PLUMB EVADED US: Donald Sensing wonders why we're not dropping leaflets with instructions to people in the disaster zone:
Within short order, hundreds of millions of leaflets could be
printed to be dropped over afflicted areas. The leaflets could explain
what aid is on the way, where aid can be found, how to move out of
dangerous areas, how to signal critical needs to overflying aircraft,
how to sterilize water, basic trauma first aid, where medical help can
be attained – the list is endless.
One of the best things leafleting would do is psychologically
reconnect the cut off victims to their governments and restore their
morale and will.
Read the whole thing. Sounds sensible to me.
HERE'S AN EMAIL from a physician who's setting up a temporary hospital at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans.
AUSTIN BAY WRITES on an American refugee crisis:
We’ve a million people dispossessed and they are suffering. Critics
grouse that the response to Katrina’s devestation has been abysmally
slow. Compared to what? Slow compared to our expectations is
the correct answer. Compared to every other nation on the planet, we’re
moving at warp speed to address a natural disaster of extraordinary
Watch what happens over the next week, as American aid
organizations, religious groups, and willing individuals act. America’s
great wealth is matched by its generosity. America is responding
decisively to Katrina’s tragedy.
But it will still be rough. I have some related thoughts over at GlennReynolds.com.
DEAN INFORMS ME that the University of Tennessee Law College will be
accepting 50 refugee law students from Tulane and Loyola. More info here.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS is accepting students from damaged areas for the duration.
EUGENE VOLOKH to the ACLU-haters: Bring it on!
TED FRANK on shooting looters:
I fully acknowledge that shooting looters is an inappropriately
disproportionate response if one views looting as mere larceny. But one
doesn't shoot looters to protect property, one does so to protect
order. Somebody is going to suffer unjustly when society breaks down. I
don't understand why Muller thinks it preferable for the law-abiding
citizens to be the cost-bearers. History has shown repeatedly that the
way to stop an anarchic riot is an early display of substantial force.
Normally, you don't shoot people for stealing because we value life
over property. But when people are, as Frank notes, looting hospitals
for drugs at gunpoint and the like, things are out of hand and
life-threatening violence looms.
When I was on Grand Cayman last month, several people told me that
looting became a problem after Hurricane Ivan, but quickly stopped when
the police shot several looters. That's because looters usually value
life over property too.
As I've said before, I don't think that people helping themselves to
emergency supplies are to be blamed, but that's not what we're talking
about here. Those who don't get this are either sadly uninformed or
A BLEAK REPORT FROM NEW ORLEANS: A colleague sends this email. (Click "read more" to read it).
Read More »
I'm not sure how many of you know Bill Quigley. He is an amazing
person, law professor at Loyola New Orleans, head of their clinic
there. . . .
Anyhow, Bill's wife is an oncology nurse in New Orleans, and
therefore decided she could not evacuate but would need to stay with
her patients at the hospital. Bill apparently decided he would do
likewise. Below is an interview with him about the situation in that
city as of early Wednesday morning.
BILL QUIGLEY: This is sort of the nightmare scenario that everybody
was really worried about, but the problem for New Orleans is that
everybody who had their health, had money and had a car, they left.
Okay, so we have probably 100,000 people trapped in the city right now,
maybe 50,000 or 60,000 people in the Superdome who are there without
electricity, without flushing toilets, without food, without water. And
they are people who had to walk over there or take a bus, because they
didn't have a car to get out.
There are people in nursing homes, there's people in these little hospitals all over the place.
And then there's still -- YOu can see when you're looking out the
window at night, you can see flashlights in the water where people are
walking around out in the neighborhoods completely dark. You see a
flashlight where somebody's walking down the water. As you said,
tomorrow night, you are not going to see those flashlights, because
tomorrow night, they expect that we're going to have nine to 15 feet of
water. So those people that are walking out there with flashlights,
they're not going to be there.
And the hospitals are full. The hospitals are turning people away,
because they don't have enough food and water to be able to take care
of the people who are in the hospitals. So, the boatload of people that
came apparently to the hospital this morning or this afternoon, a
father, a mother and two little kids came in a boat, and the people at
the hospital turned them away, sent them away, because they didn't have
room for them. Another 20 people walked up to the parking lot --
parking garage. They had been in the Holiday Inn downtown. That Holiday
Inn lost electricity, lost everything. So those people just left, and
they have been wandering around the city looking for a place to stay,
and the security guards had to turn them away. They sent them back into
the flood waters because they didn't have enough food or water or that
to even be able to take care of necessarily the people that are here.
So who's left behind in New Orleans right now, you are talking about
tens of thousands of people who are left behind, and those are the
sickest, the oldest, poorest, the youngest, the people with
disabilities and the like, and the plan was that everybody should
leave. Well, you can't leave if you're in a hospital. You can't leave
if you're a nurse. You can't leave if you are a patient. You can't
leave if you're in a nursing home. You can't leave if you don't have a
car. All of these things. They didn't have - there was no plan for that.
And so, we are talking about somewhere in the neighborhood, I think,
of 100,000 people probably in the metropolitan New Orleans area that
are still here. And the suggestions from local officials are, you know,
in the suburban parish next to us, they announced on the radio -- we
have one radio station, have no TV, have no cell phones. Nothing. The
only calls we are able to get are the calls that come in. And the
suggestion was that people should take a boat over toward the
interstate, and then they would pick them up there.
But, you know, these people don't have a car, people who live in an
apartment with their mother, you know, people who are sick. That's why
they couldn't leave. They don't have cars. They certainly don't have
And so, there's a huge humanitarian crisis going on here right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Quigley, I wanted to ask -- this is a bit of an
odd question. You're a law professor. We usually talk to you about the
crisis that's going on in Haiti, where you have been a number of times
and represent, among others, Father Jean-Juste, who is in prison there.
How does what you are seeing in New Orleans right now, how does it
compare to Haiti?
BILL QUIGLEY: Well, you know, I had always hoped that Haiti would
become more like New Orleans, but what's happened is New Orleans has
become more like Haiti here recently. You know, we don't have power. We
don't have transportation. At this point, I think, at least the people
in the hospital have some fresh water, but they're telling people you
can't drink the water out of the taps. So there's people wandering
around the city without water, without transportation, without medical
care. So in many senses, we have about a million people in the New
Orleans area who are experiencing, you know, what Haiti is like.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen any National Guard?
BILL QUIGLEY: There are apparently some National Guard who are on
the roof, who are helping with the helicopters. We have seen one or two
here or there. There's been reports that there's thousands of them that
are coming in, but again, I don't know how they would get in. People
are not able to - you know, the communication system is so bad that for
a large part of the day, the mayor, the chief of police, the governor
and those people couldn't call the one working radio station. And so
they had to walk into the radio station to be able to talk to the
people who are out here trying to figure out what's going on.
So it is really a disaster, and the people who aren't in New
Orleans, I know, are dying to get back to their houses. But the people
who are in New Orleans are, in all honesty, dying, and there could be a
lot more casualties unless there's a lot of help real fast.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Quigley is a law professor at Loyola University.
He was speaking to us from the hospital he is staying at, Tenant
Memorial Hospital in New Orleans, where his wife Debbie is an oncology
nurse. After we spoke to him early this morning, the electricity,
backup electricity, went out at the hospital.
So there you have it. A pretty bleak picture.
"Last time I checked the French weren’t helping much, either – odd. The
one place in the country where their guys could read the signs, and
they don’t bother to pitch in."
HELICOPTER VIDEO of Gulf Coast damage, from WLBT. Three different segments on their website.
MICHAEL SILENCE reports on the Katrina Flood Aid effort in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. And here's his roundup of posts from Tennessee blogs.
NICE STORY ON MICHAEL YON in the Boston Herald.
NEW YORK TIMES: Owners Take Up Arms as Looters Press Their Advantage.
If you've got a week's supplies, and a gun, you'll usually do okay
after a disaster. If you don't, you're in much bigger trouble, because
it generally takes that long for some sort of order to be restored. We
saw that after Andrew, and we're seeing it again.
REGISTERING TO VOTE: New American citizen Jigsha Desai videoblogs the whole thing.
READER GREG BROOKS EMAILS:
You don't know me - just another faithful instapundit.com reader
here. But I trust your judgment so I thought I'd ask: Beyond donations,
is there good to be achieved by driving down to New Orleans (I live in
Kansas City) with a car stuffed full of bottled water, vitamins,
antibiotics and stuff? I'm not trained in anything useful (just a
public relations guy here), but it seems like a healthy person armed
with a car could get some good done. Armed with a car and hip waders?
Maybe even more good.
Your thoughts? Many thanks in advance for your perspective.
I'm no expert. My guess is that the authorities don't want people
coming on their own like that -- but that if you show up, they'll find
something for you to do. If you go, though, be sure to be
self-sufficient for at least a week, so you're not a drain on rescue
And be sure you've had your shots.
UPDATE: FEMA says do not self-dispatch.
GOOD IDEA: Eric Muller has set up blogs for the Tulane Law School and Loyola New Orleans Law School communities.
August 31, 2005
A BAD REVIEW for New Orleans' Mayor Nagin:
During the last interview with the Mayor - I did not hear one word
of ANY plan for the people who can not drive to get out of New Orleans.
I assume there are some on the ground plans, but they certainly are not
being adequately communicated to the press,
And just now a WDSU reporter is reporting seeing kids, as young as
six and seven year old - on their own - with all their belongings in a
plastic bag - begging drivers to take them out of the city. And when
his news team left on the one bridge still open, there saw a line of
the very old and the very young - people in wheel chairs - even more
incredible - people being pushed on hospital gurneys - fleeing for
their lives over the last bridge out of New Orleans.
The same reporter also gave an account of the gangs roaming and terrorizing the city.
We should all be asking - after all this time - why have buses and trucks not been commandeered to get the poor out of the city?
Why are the residents of New Orleans not being told HOW to get out
of the city instead of just being told that they must get out of the
I've been wondering about this myself. The City's response has seemed too-late and too-weak from the beginning.
UPDATE: FreeWillBlog: "I'm not ready to jump on Nagin just yet."
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE offers a caution
about donations to charity. And remember that you can -- and should --
check out any unknown charities at the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving site, Give.org.
MOXIE READS THE HUFFINGTON POST on Katrina, so you don't have to! Thanks, Moxie!
UPDATE: Related post here. I want one of those flying cars. And they'd have been handy for people trying to escape the flooding, too . . . .
GAS PANIC IN ATLANTA: We're seeing some of that here,
too. Remember -- even when supply isn't under pressure, if everyone
rushes to top off their tanks it'll exhaust the supplies at stations.
UPDATE: Here's a report that bogus rumors led to gas lines in Columbus, Georgia.
ANOTHER UPDATE: This, on the other hand, is not a rumor:
The price of regular-grade gasoline soared as much as 50 cents a
gallon overnight as Hurricane Katrina forced suppliers to ration the
fuel sent to filling stations and convenience stores. . . . ``I would
hope that all consumers recognize the really catastrophic event that
occurred with Hurricane Katrina,'' said Dan Gilligan, president of the
Petroleum Marketers Association of America, in an interview yesterday.
The Arlington, Virginia-based group represents about 8,000 marketers
across the U.S.
``If consumers want to help, they need to find a way to conserve if
they can,'' he said. ``Find a way to carpool for the next couple of
weeks. If everyone would just decide to conserve a little bit, I think
the industry can cope. If people are going way for Labor Day, maybe try
to cut back the travel by 100 miles.''
Dartblog notes that high prices will encourage that. And reader Gerald Dearing reports from Atlanta:
Just returned from a short drive around the neighborhood (Norcross).
EVERY gas station has lines out into the street, even the stations on
the back roads. Except the Chevron (Peachtree Industrial & Medlock
Bridge), which has shut it's pumps down. Out, most likely. But I didn't
ask. Wasn't anything like this at lunchtime when I stopped in for a
WSB-am is devoting it's programming to the crisis, mostly rumor control. Trying to calm the panic.
Governor Sunny has declared a "Gas Emergency", whatever the hell
that is. Radio said "State of Emergency", radio reporters aren't good
at subtle distinctions.
Me? I think the panic is silly. But then I don't need gas today. Or
even diesel. I'm in for time off, and doing as little driving as
Who knows what set off the rumors? But they spread quickly. Oh, well.
Things should settle down by next week, but gas will be expensive for a while. Glad I didn't buy that SUV!
TERRY TEACHOUT HAS LOADS OF NEW KATRINA LINKS: Just keep scrolling.
JAMES JOYNER is publishing at his backup site because of the same sort of problems that InstaPundit has been having.
FROM SUPERDOME TO ASTRODOME?
I guess that's an improvement, but only a temporary one. People need to
be spread out to real housing, not concentrated in temporary quarters.
BAD NEWS ON HURRICANE KATRINA RELIEF:
But mainstream Web sites that had jumped to pull in money for the
tsunami victims showed no evidence of repeating it here in the U.S. for
Katrina's. Amazon.com, which raised more than $14 million for the
American Red Cross in January via a donation link on its home page,
didn't have one as of mid-day Monday. Nor did Google, Yahoo, MSN, or
eBay, all of which hustled earlier in the year to put up donation links
on their portals. (Google slapped up an "Information about Hurricane
Katrina" link on its Spartan home page, but that led to news sources
An Amazon spokesperson said that the online retailer had no plans to
post a donation link on its site. "Each case is different," she said.
"The Red Cross has essentially given over its entire site to donations.
The tsunami came out of the blue, so it was an 'all hands on deck'
situation, but the Red Cross has been getting ready for this and
getting its message out there for several days."
Maybe they'll change their minds.
UPDATE: Yahoo now has an aid link on its page.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Some readers are emailing them. That's fine, but be
polite. This is a bad decision that they can make right easily.
Encourage them to do so, but also give them the chance to do the right
thing. Name-calling, in my experience, seldom encourages people to do
the right thing.
MORE: From Hugh Hewitt:
"At 2:45 Pacific, we heard from Amazon that the company has changed its
mind. Some one must have gotten around to asking Jeff Bezos."
JAMES GLASSMAN looks at people who are exploiting Katrina for political purposes.
They're also scientific illiterates. More here.
UPDATE: Steven St. Onge isn't so sure
that Glassman has the numbers right, though (see the link above)
experts do seem to share Glassman's view. Mark Kleiman also sends a
link to this letter in Nature, though it seems to be a bit speculative, and conflicts with the New York Times article quoted earlier. On the other hand, it's not like a NYT article is the last word.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Gillespie is siding with Glassman and offers more links in support.
USING THE MILITARY in cases of civil disturbance and looting. Donald Sensing has an interesting post.
I'VE BEEN THE VICTIM OF A MASS DE-LINKING because I said that "demonizing the ACLU is a bit silly." So much for suggesting that the critics lack perspective. That'll show me!
Here, by the way, is the brief I worked on with them last. Related background here.
UPDATE: As in New Orleans, it doesn't take long for the vultures to appear! Is this "link-looting?" Heh.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh. And this is funny, too.
BEYOND CHARITY: Wizbang has some suggestions for bloggers.
MICHELLE MALKIN HAS A ROUNDUP ON LOOTING: I agree with Jonah Goldberg
that it's one thing for desperate people to help themselves to bottled
water, food, or diapers from abandoned stores, and another to just sack
those places for valuables. People doing the latter should be shot.
IT'S LIKE A BIG RX-8: The Ford Iosis Concept Car. (Via Autoblog). Hey, Ford could do worse -- and has!
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE has a massive roundup on the military response to Katrina, which is quite extensive.
THE DEMOCRATIC SURGE continues.
RON BAILEY ON BIOTECHNOLOGY: "How Europe starves the world's poor."
GAS RATIONING AT THE WHOLESALE LEVEL, due to Katrina-related shortages.
LEGAL AFFAIRS has a number of interesting items on national security law.
KITS: Reader Brian Cook emails: "Prof. Reynolds, you mentioned that
everyone should have a battery-operated radio in his emergency kit. I
submit that one of these is an even better idea."
Actually, I have one. So does reader Andrew Centofani, who writes:
"For emergencies I like the Grundig FR200. I just bought one a couple
of months ago and thankfully haven't had to use it for anything
emergency wise, but it works great -- about an hour with two minutes of
cranking -- and has an emergency light built in. If I could add
anything to it I would have some sort of DC out plug as so I could
power/charge other small electronics and add Weather / Emergency
frequencies." I agree.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brian King emails:
have that same Grundig dynamo-powered radio, and I love it.
My wife has this one in her car: it's got a "mobile phone charger" outlet. Her phone cord doesn't fit the jack, but it is a DC out.
The Grundig FR-300 has a similar mobile phone charging jack.
LEGAL PROBLEMS WITH SPACE ELEVATORS: My TechCentralStation column is up.
UPDATE: In the comments to that piece, reader J.T. Wenting observes:
Message: Space elevators most likely will be built from space down towards earth rather than from the surface up.
Would they still be an extension of the country they're anchored to or would they be space structures reaching the surface?
I'd say the latter, similar to a ship mooring in a harbour not being
real estate of the country that harbour is located in, as technically
the space elevator would be moored to the ground rather than being
built on it.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg has more thoughts:
The problems associated with anchoring such a beast in an unstable
and/or corrupt equatorial country has caused many of those planning
such things to put them instead on floating ocean platforms, in
international waters. This raises some new issues, because now, instead
of (as Glenn notes) the structure simply being a very high tower, it
would now be a tall ship that would put to shame all of the previous
false claimants to that designation, with their puny little sticks for
August 30, 2005
FEDERAL RELIEF EFFORTS, including a Naval flotilla and 125,000 National Guardsmen, are on the way to afflicted areas, reports CNN.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
What most of these poor folks need right now is information on where
they can go to seek shelter. I'm in Tuscaloosa right now and you
wouldn't believe the overflow of people seeking hotel rooms. Maybe the
blogosphere can help get the word out to the relief agencies they need
to get the word out to the victims. The University recreation center is
offering shelter for now, but what happens when that overflows? How are
these people going to continue to pay for hotel rooms weeks after this
I don't know how to handle this problem, but I hope that somebody does. Ideas?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kathy Childre emails:
I was thinking that there should be a way to set up a fund just for
that. An hotel fund. I know in Baton Rouge some apartment managers are
offering month to month leases for displaced persons and trying to find
free furnture for them. Donating used furniture for the apartments
would be nice to. If there were some way to set up a fund to pay for
those leases as well it would be great. I'm just not sure of the
logistics of it.
It's a thought.
KAYE TRAMMELL has an open comment thread for people looking for news and information about survivors.
Also, here's the Hurricane Katrina help Wiki.
Craigslist is running a lost and found list for friends and relatives. It also includes posts from people who want to help.
I'm not sure why, exactly, but more than anything else, reading the entries brought tears to my eyes.
Read this, too.
UPDATE: Here's another Katrina missing persons board.
THE SLIDELL HURRICANE BLOG is gathering information about conditions in and around Slidell.
MICHAEL SILENCE HAS A ROUNDUP on misconduct by the ATF.
VARIOUS PEOPLE ARE CLAIMING THAT GLOBAL WARMING CAUSED KATRINA: EU Rota looks at the historical record and finds this argument wanting.
Here's more from The New York Times:
Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume
that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global
But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of
hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several
decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much
natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at
Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.
From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more
than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of
those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind
shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into
In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950's and 60's.
It's sad to see such lame political opportunism at a time like this.
UPDATE: Another response to lame, opportunistic, politically motivated claims.
THINGS SEEM TO BE GETTING WORSE IN NEW ORLEANS:
New Orleans resembled a war zone more than a modern American
metropolis on Tuesday, as Gulf Coast communities struggled to deal with
the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Deteriorating conditions in New Orleans will force authorities to
evacuate the tens of thousands of people at city shelters, including
the Superdome, where a policeman told CNN unrest was escalating.
The officer expressed concern that the situation could worsen
overnight after three shootings, looting and a number of attempted
carjackings during the afternoon.
They need to get these people out of the city as soon as possible.
NEW REPORTS FROM COASTAL ALABAMA look bad, too.
IAN SCHWARTZ has video from Biloxi, and it doesn't look good.
SLATE WRITES ON DELL'S PROBLEMS, and Jeff Jarvis is mentioned.
My experiences with Dell, I note, have been good.
HERE'S A COAST GUARD BLOGGER, Tidewater Musings, who's reporting on the Coast Guard's rescue and recovery efforts.
READER DAVID BROADUS WRITES:
This is from the Baton Rouge Advocate about a good thing done in
Houston for the refugees from AL, LA, and MS. I am going to contact
other area restaurants and suggest they follow suit:
"Yesterday, we went to the IKEA in Houston. There were signs all over
telling Louisiana residents that they could eat for free in the
restaurant because of the hurricane. We enjoyed dessert and coffee, but
we could have had a full meal for all of us if we'd chosen to. This
morning, the local paper has a list of things to do in the city for
people from LA, MS, and AL. Everything is free. All museums and the zoo
are letting residents of those states in for free, and many of them
will do so until the end of October. I guess that's because they know
that people may be stuck here for quite some time.
PRAISE OF OLD MEDIA: I've watched the TV coverage today, and I think
they've done a very good job; a story like this tends to bring out
And you've got to admire the grit and determination of the Times Picayune, which isn't letting the destruction of its city stop it from publishing:
The Times-Picayune was forced to evacuate our Howard Avenue newsroom
Tuesday. We are setting up bureaus in Houma and in Baton Rouge to
continue to provide coverage of this disaster. We will continue to
publish the newspaper each day without interruption. We will make it
available in PDF form on nola.com each morning around midnight.
Their web publication has also been excellent, and I suspect that
quite a few newspapers will find themselves publishing this way, even
without a hurricane, in the not-too-distant future. Likewise WWL TV which is still reporting (blog here, and streaming live video.
UPDATE: Reader Andrew Lee emails:
You should mention the radio broadcasters in the area too - I know
the staff at WWL-AM (and their sister stations) have been trapped
inside their building next to the Superdome for since Sunday night, and
truly heroic measures were taken to get them back on the air after
Katrina took them out. Imagine working on a 50,000 watt tower in chest
deep water - dangerous! Right now they're the only source of
information for a lot of people in the area without power, television,
or internet, and they really are performing like heroes.
What's going to be interesting in the coming days is the cooperation
between rivals in the radio business, as they combine their resources
and available technologies to provide information - I predict they'll
be simulcasting on a lot of frequencies, owned by different companies
Radio often gets overlooked, but it's as vital and pervasive today
as it has ever been... and there are still aspects of it that the
satellite radio providers will never be able to compete with, despite
all the hype.
Yes, and everyone should have a battery-powered radio in their disaster kit.
AUSTIN BAY on disaster relief, recovery, and development.
COUNTERPROGRAMMING: Michele Catalano has decided to focus on good news out of the hurricane area, letting everyone else report the bad. Good choice.
CHRIS NOLAN on Nick Lemann.
HOW BAD ARE THINGS IN JEFFERSON PARISH? THIS BAD:
If you live there you can go home next Monday, but only with photo
identification, and only for a short time to collect clothes and other
essentials. After that, you've got to leave again.
For a month.
There's no way to spin this. That's just horrible, horrible news.
It's so bad there, Parish officials have asked the public to donate
boats to help with the rescue and clean-up efforts.
More reasons to think about hardening systems
against disaster, though in truth I don't know how much you could do
about this. I hope, though, that people will be thinking about it.
HUGH HEWITT is suggesting
a day of concerted blogging for hurricane relief efforts. It's a good
idea. How about Thursday, to give people a chance to organize? I'll
link blog posts -- and in the meantime, send me suggestions for aid
organizations worth mentioning. Put "flood aid" in the subject line.
UPDATE: Reader Loren Rueter emails: "Any foreign governments offering aid?"
None that I've heard of. Should we call 'em stingy?
ANOTHER UPDATE: Less snarkily, The Anchoress emails:
Glenn, remember how Amazon put together the Honor System for donations after the Tsunami? Couldn't something like that be done?
It certainly could. Will it? I guess somebody should ask Jeff Bezos!
WELL, THIS SUCKS:
A broken levee means that New Orleans is flooding. Slower and without
the fatalities we'd have seen if it had happened during the storm
surge, but with similar effects on property and infrastructure. Are the
pumps just too big to have backup power?
AN INTERVIEW WITH MILBLOGGER BALDILOCKS: Over at the Pajamas Media site.
IN THE MAIL: Jason Hartley's Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq. It looks very interesting and well-written.
THERE'S A NEW FAMILY LAW BLOG as part of Paul Caron's ever-expanding blog empire.