September 5th, 2005


Everyone But FEMA Seems Prescient

My sister wendyb_09 already found a reference to a movie about the flooding in Louisiana.

And I found some notes I'd written in May of this year, for a story I was going to write someday called Like Peace in a Pod:

(dateline 2061)

AOLPO said he had an urgent message: Due to rising sea levels, all Federal flood insurance has been canceled in Picard LA. You may qualify for Federal 50-Mile Relocation Benefits.

The benefits he knew weren't great, but they were a concession to the states to help keep their economy. Of course, eventually all of Louisiana was going to be underwater - or else behind giant walls, like New Orleans. The last of Florida was slated to be closed in 2068.

But I'm not claiming anything special here -- I know the concept isn't all that original. It was a little spice thrown in to a story about a decaying town and remote workspace pods, with some global warming thrown in.

I'll Tell You The Problem

It is clear to me that Those In Charge just don't read or watch enough SF. Because "everyone" I know seemed cognizant of the vulnerability of New Orleans. Especially since we've had a series of hurricanes the last few years which have made the Gulf Coast a dicey proposition.

And as I hang around with academic types, including scientists and engineers, it also seems clear that those darned "egghead liberal college types" are all more than capable of (1) being able to add and subtract, and understand the concept of what being "below sea level" next to the Gulf of Mexico might mean and (2) know enough of world history and culture to be aware of the modern flood control systems which protect the Lowland countries of Europe in the 21st century.


Children's fantasy, speculative fiction, a willing suspension of disbelief, reading-writing-watching, role playing -- there are many ways for both the child and the adult to indulge in playing with their imagination. Without an imagination, you are doomed to repeat only the mistakes of the past. To the man with only a hammer, everything looks like a nail. One size fits all. A Category 4 or 5 hurricane hasn't struck that part of the coast before, so we don't really have to plan for such a remote event. Science fiction is boring and bad for you and Lord don't let that child read Harry Potter...

Prescient? Prophet? Or Realist?

Saturday, while watching some coverage of the aerial rescues in New Orleans, I wondered aloud if there had been any helicopter crashes yet. Not that I wanted any such thing to occur, but in the last six months I'd heard a report which said that many of the air rescue helos in use will experience a crash, often with a patient. It's a factor of the technology and the stress they operate under. With hundreds and thousands of sorties being run by so many helicopters, the cold statistics suggest something will happen.

So it isn't either any great paranormal prediction coming true or with any pleasure on my part, when on Sunday evening CNN interrupted their retelling of the week's events to show live video of a rescue helicopter crash site. Fortunately the crew sounded like they were just banged up and they weren't ferrying anyone at the moment -- a Coast Guard helo set down and helped them. Eerie video showing the orange helicopter on its side, flames licking from the engine housing, rotor blades gone and shredded, just feet from the waterline where it very quickly got deep enough to cover houses.

My hat's off to all those who are helping.

Foresight. Foreknowledge. Realistic expectations. Understanding.

The crews flying those missions know the realities of their technology. They understand the risk and danger of their rescues. It is understanding which those higher up in the food chain seemed to be lacking -- and so we come to the 28th and 29th of August 2005 and the Gulf Coast's date with a ill-tempered lady named Katrina.

Dr. Phil
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