Monday, October 29, 2007

On the California Inferno

The wildfires in CA have ceased to entertain/shock/horrify us at last, I guess. I couldn't find any news of them on any front pages today. *sigh* If we're the greatest country in the world, why is our collective attention span about 5 minutes? Is it because we can't focus on something longer than a day or two that we're so successful? Or has life really become that much of a grind that we need new information constantly to distract us from how miserable we are?

Regardless, I have become increasingly outraged with the comparisons between Katrina and the California wildfires. Rather than go into a long argument after everyone has apparently moved on, I'll just repost this little ditty I posted over at Lum's blog, Broken Toys.

Yeah, as a New Orleans resident and native I can quite honestly say that people really shouldn’t live anywhere anything bad can happen to them. Like Chicago (severe weather), San Francisco (earthquakes), L.A. (scientologists), New York City (terrorists), Boston (falling concrete), the entire state of Florida, the southeast and gulf coasts (hurricanes), the midwest (tornadoes, dust storms, giant hail), Texas (Texans), the northwest (blizzards, rock slides, avalanches, eaten by bears), the northeast (same but with cougars) or the southwest (drought, fire, immigrants).

As for the rest of it - this has turned out better in terms of evacuation and lives lost primarily because of the reverse 911 system that was implemented after and as a result of Katrina. More people care because these are rich white people (self-sufficient, campaign contributors) and not poor black people (welfare leeches). And an attitude of “they knew it would happen eventually” isn’t appropriate, either. Southern CA is on fire EVERY YEAR. Not to mention that a fire is an immediate danger. You can see it, smell it, feel it. A hurricane is and always has been a potential, eventual danger, subject to the mercurial nature of the tropical south Atlantic climate. You can fight a fire. You can’t fight a flood, only prepare for it and sometimes the best preparation (when you actually have it) isn’t enough. The comparisons between the two events are flawed in these and all other respects and are wholly media generated and driven in an attempt to pin the whole thing on a. global warming or b. the incompetent, uncaring republican administration.

I could go into more explanation, but I don't think it matters much, anymore.

UPDATE 10-31: Just learned that the fires essentially ceased to be on Monday, 10-29, and I had to look long and hard to find that info. James Gill of the Times Picayune has a great opinion piece here.

Katrina victims who camped out in the Superdome will have chilling stories to tell their grandchildren.

They will recall how there was not a masseur in sight to relieve their stress. The most dogged search for an acupuncturist yielded nothing. Why, there was not even a giant flat-screen TV to relieve the tedium. No musicians were there to serenade the crowds.

New Orleans just can't hold a candle to San Diego when it comes to organizing an evacuation experience.

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