Don’t mess with the lady

The conditions look very good for Hurricane Katrina to be a very nasty affair when it hits land. There’s little or no shear to tear it apart, and the water in the Gulf is bathtub hot. If it hits on or near New Orleans, well, this is about the most Not Good of the Not Good scenarios.

From Wunderground’s Dr. Jeff Masters’ weblog:

I’d hate to be an Emergency Management official in New Orleans right now. Katrina is pretty much following the NHC forecast, and appears likely to pass VERY close to New Orleans. I’m surprised they haven’t ordered an evacuation of the city yet. While the odds of a catastropic hit that would completely flood the city of New Orleans are probably 10%, that is way too high in my opinion to justify leaving the people in the city. If I lived in the city, I would evactuate NOW! There is a very good reason that the Coroner’s office in New Orleans keeps 10,000 body bags on hand. The risks are too great from this storm, and a weekend away from the city would be nice anyway, right? GO! New Orleans needs a full 72 hours to evacuate, and landfall is already less than 72 hours away. Get out now and beat the rush. You’re not going to have to go to work or school on Monday anyway. If an evacuation is ordered, not everyone who wants to get out may be able to do so–particularly the 60,000 poor people with no cars.

Events of note


For the last few days, I’ve mainly focused on coding and the only reading I’ve done is through my aggregator, and then only enough to keep up. I finally took a moment this evening to check the news and was astonished to hear about a horrible train wreck in Japan. Saddened by the story and the pain of the family members, I was also disheartened to hear of yet another train wreck–this time in a country famous for the efficiency and safety of their rail systems.

At the BBC “Have Your Say” page one person wrote:

I am just lucky. That’s all what I can say, I missed the train by around five minutes and that’s the main reason of my being here. I don’t have words to describe such a disaster where even the trains don’t often get late. There’s a saying that ‘In Japan, if you are late by 20 seconds, then you would have missed the train exactly by 20 Seconds’. In such a country, how can anyone believe this disaster?

How, indeed.

With increased population and people having to make longer commutes and high gas prices, trains, especially commuter trains, are becoming more of a fact of life for all countries — including this car dependent country. Thank you SUV drivers for helping to make this true.

Yesterday, if you had asked me what country had the safest rail system I would have answered Japan. I would still answer the same thing today– even the safest system will fail at some point. It’s just that at 80MPH, failure has a heavy price.

Are we, as noted by some of those writing comments, trading our safety in the interests of the clock? And In the more complex rail systems needed to support ever growing population centers, where a train being five minutes late could disrupt the entire system, do we have any choice?