August 30th, 2005


Television News Ignores a Worsening Situation

Other than brief mentions on CNN, I haven't see this being covered on television, but the Times-Picayune's web site says that a breach in a levee is allowing Lake Pontchartrain to flow into the city of New Orleans.
"Officials of the Army Corps of Engineers have contingencies for levee breaches such as the one that happened Monday, but it will take time and effort to get the heavy equipment into place to make the repair. Breach repair is part of the Corps’ planning for recovery from catastrophic storms, but nobody Monday was able to say how long it would take to plug the hole, or how much water would get through it before that happened."

An interesting sidelight to this story is that the budget of the New Orleans District of the Army Corps of Engineers was facing a drastic reduction next year. Maybe they'll have to re-think that one.
laszlo moholy-nagy_chx

News Clowns

One of the things that a night spent shifting back and forth between Internet and television news has made more apparent to me than ever is that television's weakest element is its talking heads. I would quickly become annoyed by the gibbering of those dressed, coiffed and makeup-caked twits after reading even the most inept writing of webloggers and their frequently even more inept commenters. Soon, the expanding availability and lowered cost of broadband connections and wireless uploads will make it easy for the Internet to present talking heads of its own.

I now believe that this would be a bad thing, most of the time, and I would much prefer that people reporting news on the Internet stick to writing-- though the ability to upload and stream video will be a great addition to the medium. My advice to future Internet newscasters is that, unless they can speak as well as Edward R. Murrow did, they should forgo the speech. Even mediocre writing is easier to absorb than most human speech. Besides which, blathering narration almost invariably distracts from and ruins even the best video. This fact, television has amply demonstrated.

I've also been newly amazed at some of the things television's talking heads say. As one example, a couple of minutes ago an anchor on CNN was discussing with a reporter on the scene the plight of people trapped in attics and on rooftops. He made reference to them being "...frightened and cold." Frightened, to be sure, but cold? Dude! This isn't a chilly morning during a spring thaw flood in North Dakota! It's summer in the South, and a hurricane just passed through! It's probably eighty degrees there, with 90% humidity! Those people might as well be trapped in a Turkish bath! Well, maybe he doesn't watch his own channel's weather reports. But if I had a dollar for ever stupid thing I've heard come out of a TV twit's mouth tonight, I could afford to get broadband for a year, and give up television altogether.

Anyway. It's almost morning here, now, and I actually can get cold if I go outdoors. I didn't bother to use the window fan last night, but the room has cooled off nicely. It has been another delightful late-summer night, which is about to end in a burst of cheerful bird songs. The region's warm season aridity suddenly seems a great blessing. I'll change my mind, of course, when next a raging fire fills the air with heavy, acrid smoke. You choose your place and you live with the drawbacks. If I end up suffocating in the super-heated breath of a forest fire someday, I might envy those who have drowned in the turbid water of Lake Pontchartrain.
rudisuhli_demon of love

By the Way...

My idea is that we arrange for this pair of bloated, self-important, meddlesome, overbearing, egomaniacal dickwads to fight it out in a cage match, the winner to get both Venezuela and the 700 Club, provided they agree that the winner will have to defend the title against all comers and relinquish both prizes when (inevitably) they are defeated.

Either that, or we make them play star-crossed lovers in the next John Waters movie.
gericault_raft of the medusa 1


Either I've been coming down with a cold for the last couple of days, or this is the worst allergy season I've experienced since I came here. If it's a cold, it's certainly taking its time to fully manifest itself. It it's something in the air, there's an awful lot of it. Whatever it is, it sucks up most of my energy.

Maybe I've got the plague.