Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day, so get your essentials.

How to return a condom

What do you do when you see something accidentally drop from a young woman’s purse, and you want to alert her to that fact, except right then you notice that the thing is an exotic condom, Bill Tozier wonders.

New blog lay-out

I am not sure if I am going to keep this new style … probably not.

I have taken the opportunity to kick Ini Kim off my list of links; he stopped blogging when he became a father. Natasha was added; her blog is new, and so far fairly interesting. Let’s hope she keeps it up. Waffle dissappeared earlier: they were too interesting. Yes, you read that right. I kept running into the no-comments wall, and by pulling them off my Links list, I hope I can force myself to visit Waffle only once or twice a week, and give my nose a chance to heal.

More stories from New Orleans

1) About a week ago (?) I saw a Dutch couple, Henk and Yvonne Berg-something, talk about how they got out after the hurricane. I tried to jot down what they said, mainly because it resonated with a memory I had of a similar story I read on the web–the exception being that that similar story was mostly critical of authorities and had a stick-it-to-the-man touch to it.

As the earlier story, this couple reported that they had been in their hotel when the storm came, and tried to find a bus out of NOLA the day or days after. Busses were ordered, but were apparently confiscated by the police or the national guard. They were told to go to the Convention Center, but were turned away there by the police who told them that if they stayed, “you will be robbed, raped or murdered before nightfall”.

Trying to get back to the hotel, they were turned away by the hotel personel (this may have been before the Convention Center–I forget), which is when their descent into hell started (their words). They found a police post, where they spent the night sleeping in the street, feeling “protected for the night”.

While I was writing this down, they told the interviewer how they got out of NOLA, which I consequently missed. They added that they received the sort of “survival kit” that soldiers in the army receive (i.e. chocolate, powder soup, toilet paper, et cetera).

The show was something called Pulse and was broadcast on RTL4.

The thing that stuck out from their story, and that I remember best even without having it written down, is how matter-of-factly they reported that the hotel turned them out. There was this feeling of understanding what people (authorities, hotel personel) did under these circumstances.

(P.S. A racist blog that I am not going to link, mentions their name as Berkouwer.)

2) In case you missed it, … rats! There was a truly awesome photo gallery by a hotel worker who only left NOLA when things were getting too bad, but it’s been taken off-line. I should have made screen shots. Most impressive was the feel how things kept deteriorating once the storm had passed; giving credence to the supposition that if local and federal governments had moved faster (not to mention had worked to prevent certain things), the toll in lives and property would have been much less.

Through BoingBoing.

Holiday destination: the North Pole

I stumbled upon a blog that claims you can now book holidays to the North Pole as easily as to, say, Mallorca. The reason they give is post-Soviet Union ice breakers; no longer on the state’s pay-roll, they had to find other means of making money, and one of those means was taking tourists to the arctic.

Blogging from New Orleans

Outpost Crystal is the blog from an employee of an internet hosting provider that decided to ride the hurricane. If this were Slashdot, I’d have marked it “+6 Insightful”.

Update: Interdictor quite sensibly says that he does not want to talk politics, and then equally sensibly launches into a long political rant. :-) Basically he says that politics by its very nature is incapable of solving the problems in New Orleans.

I have been wondering about this disconnect with reality, because it is so obviously not true. As Frank Tiggelaar notes, in 1995 half a million Dutch people and two million animals were evacuated without casualty when the Rhine and Meuse rivers flooded (via Reinder).

And Nelson Valdes and the BBC note how Cuba responds to a devastating hurricane: by getting out 1.7 million people, on time, and without casualty (via BoingBoing).

It has to be noted here that it is always hard to compare these things: Katarina was a combination of extremely powerful winds and flooding, which must have made any rescue operations during the first day difficult. But we’re no longer in the first day, and floodings with calm waters can be compared.

Leaving the reasons for Interdictor’s cognitive dissonance asside for a bit, there lurks a danger in his words. The past few days a lot of commentators have noted that now is not the time for the blame game; first, New Orleans must be helped. Although in principle I would agree with this sentiment, in the specific case of Hurricane Katrina the sentiment is wrong. The first morning after Katrina it was clear that aid was failing. On the second morning, it was clear that this was clear; only a very few pig-headed folks were claiming by then that things were going all-right. And of course by that time the blame game was being played.

We’re now in the fifth morning, and there are still people desperately in need of help in New Orleans. I think it is safe to assume that if they did not get that help three days ago, chances that they will get it today are slim. It is time to play the blame game; the blame game is the only way to confront a failing chain of command with its failures. It is the only way to offer the leaders of DHS/FEMA, of the National Guard, and of the municipality of New Orleans a chance to redeem themselves a little, so that the prison time they are facing for criminal neglect will be limited to a couple of years.

Happy Palace

Natasha’s reports that photo blog One Man Safari is now called Happy Palace.

Speaking of happy palaces, if you’ve never looked at the candy architecture and pinhole photography of Bethany de Forest, you should.

Orizont space rocket

Romanian X Prize and X Prize Cup contestants ARCA presented their Orizont space craft last Saturday to the public of Bucharest. The Orizont is a winged rocket that, like X Prize winner SpaceShipOne, is to be dropped from a plane, after which it will use its H2O2 powered engine to climb to sub-orbital space. ARCA, formed by a group of students in 1999, aims to make the Orizont a safe and environment friendly sub-orbital space craft.

Accelerando author contemplates giving book to Project Gutenberg

[Cover of the p-version of Accelerando]

When Charles Stross decided to give away the ebook version of his recent novel Accelerando for free, using a Creative Commons license, he did it in the hope of stimulating the sales of the p-book. By releasing a free download, he can get a wider readership which–if the book is good–will create better word of mouth. But now Stross is thinking of taking things a step further: if Accelerando would ever drop out of print, he may donate the copyrights to the work to Project Gutenberg.

This is exceedingly cool, although not entirely altruistic either. In an interview with The Alien Online he says: “I don’t want to see my literary estate die with me. So I’m currently considering ways of ensuring that when there’s no longer any income to be made from them, my copyrights will go somewhere like Project Gutenberg where they can be made available for free. Hopefully this is a long time off, though…”

(First published at Teleread.)

House of Cosbys

He was a Cosby fan at heart, it’s clear
He searched and found a Cosby hair
He spent ten long years to build a cloning machine
And now he has accomplished his wonderful dream:
To make a house of Cosbys

Frankenstein meets The Cosby Show, Theo. And remember, Rudy, in some jurisdictions The Man does not want you to download stuff. You know, listening to the man might very well grow warts on your butt.

(By Comic Sacrifice, via BoingBoing)