Hurricane Katrina; Tom Robbins’ credibility; Family visits

At first I was fighting the impulse to wonder out loud why last month’s monsoon flooding in Mumbai (over 1000 drowned, 250 dead from waterborne diseases, plus more from building collapses) had received almost no publicity here by comparison, but as it came clear that this was a disaster of a different magnitude my thoughts turned to just a genuine concern. I’m still amazed that such a crisis could arise in one of the world’s richest countries. It’s not clear to what extent this was poor planning and disaster management, as opposed to just an unavoidable “act of God”, but that both explanations get it partly right seems certain. Things probably wouldn’t even be much better if the US changed its mind and accepted the 1500 Cuban doctors and discounted Venezuelan oil they’ve been offered. (To be fair, neither country is in the habit of accepting US aid themselves.) And now even the Wall Street Journal is tearing Bush a new one over his handling of the affair. I’m far past caring that this makes him look bad. I just want someone, somehow, with some modicum of intelligence and responsibility, to be in charge of that whole mess. crosses fingers

Before you get completely sick of media coverage of spin, here’s one last quote for you:

What I'm hearing which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality, Mrs. [Barbara] Bush told the Public Broadcasting Service. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.

Maybe next, the newly homeless will be blamed for causing this hurricane themselves. Update: More depressing stories from New Orleans, from a link posted by Daniel. It just keeps getting worse…

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Several family members were in town over the long weekend, including my sister, two brothers, a future sister-in-law, and the spouse of the cousin who got married last summer. The first four drove up from K-W, and the latter sailed into town on a Greenpeace ship (I took a tour, and it was very interesting, but more about that some other time). It was really great to see them — Shannon and I took them around town, to the Jardin botanique, the fabric district on St-Hubert, a hiking spot among the apple orchards on the South Shore, and a few favourite restaurants. We borrowed enough bikes from various roommates to make a one-family bike gang and roamed the streets laughing at jokes only a sibling could understand. Once again, I’m sad to live so far from all of them. A wonderful weekend, though it left me exhausted for my first day of French classes. But of course, no regrets (except maybe for still being awake as I write this).