Bird flu on the horizon

September 22, 2005

As the latest Atlantic hurricane spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, 90 miles to the north, roadways were empty. A little rain fell on a city closed tighter than a drum.

The lucky people of Miami retreated behind walls from fitful gusts of wind, but if the next disaster is pandemic flu there will be no lucky people and nowhere to hide. Read the rest of this entry »


History’s actors catch a cold

September 13, 2005

Areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina look like a bomb went off. And so does the aura of invincibility described in 2004 by a senior Bush White House aide to the New York Times: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. . . . We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Well. We’ve been studying, and the levee just burst on the school term. Read the rest of this entry »


Where do mosquitoes go during hurricanes?

September 8, 2005

Late Sunday afternoon, when the weak side of Hurricane Frances dragged its scudding tail of clouds from the south like a ragged cur, we abandoned the family lockdown and took the dogs for a walk.

We’ve been married 25 years, my wife and I, and one of the accompanying joys of a long relationship is finding new things to talk about.

So I asked my wife, who was wheeling her way around puddles gingerly, trying to avoid the soaked foliage and slipping on the edges: Where do mosquitoes go during a hurricane? Read the rest of this entry »


Look who is shuddering now

September 4, 2005

Horrific. An American city descends into chaos and humanitarian tragedy. Let the finger pointing begin.

Special condemnation is reserved for every elected official or spokesperson—trained by media professionals—who stands before a television camera and fails to answer direct questions from reporters.

Next in line: every reporter who allows an elected official or spokesperson or agency official to get away with evasion, coached by media professionals. The relentless redirecting of questions by interviewers back to talking points, unchallenged in many cases by television personalities, is unacceptable.

And shouldn’t there be a law to ban television “news” channels that collaborate with interviewees—lines of questioning, talking points, and leading questions that default to pre-arranged answers? Read the rest of this entry »