--> Gill Blog: August 2006

Gill Blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

The 52nd Carnival of Hurricane Relief this week marks a year's worth of blog posts concerning relief efforts and recovery. Way back on November 30th, three months after Katrina, which we thought was then something of a post-Katrina milestone, we hosted the Carnival of Hurricane Relief on Gill Blog.

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Hurricane Katrina made landfall; hard to believe that there still remains so much work to do in recovery and rebuilding, and so many people still need help.

The effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans was catastrophic and long-lasting.

Katrina: the good, the bad, and the ugly

The Katrina Timeline

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mile High Club

The Transportation Security Administration advises that, due to enhanced security measures, liquids, gels, lotions and other items of similar consistency will not be permitted in carry-on baggage. Generally, those types of items must be packed in your checked baggage. There are exceptions.

Members of the Mile High Club will be interested to know that personal lubricants up to 4 oz. are permitted for those who like to carry on. I can't tell you how difficult it is these days for a guy who looks like me to get into an airplane lavatory with a woman and 4 ounces of personal lubricant. Frankly, I'm more likely to cause a flight delay by dropping my new iPod in the toilet.

Monday, August 21, 2006

When the Levees Broke: A Spike Lee Film Review

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, a four hour HBO documentary set to debut over two nights, Aug. 21 and 22, just in time to mark the first anniversary of Katrina's landfall is reviewed by film critic Joe Leydon in Variety and on his movingpictureblog.
Charged with profound sorrow, galvanizing outrage and defiant resolve, Spike Lee's extraordinary "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts" renders the worst natural disaster in U.S. history -- Hurricane Katrina's unforgiving assault on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities -- as a perfect storm of catastrophic weather, human error, socioeconomic inequity and bureaucratic dysfunction. The four-hour HBO documentary will debut over two nights just in time to mark the first anniversary of Katrina's landfall. Unfortunately, as Lee and his many interviewees repeatedly emphasize, rebuilding and recovery in the Crescent City have only just begun.

Read the review, watch the documentary, and share your thoughts and experiences. Comments are open.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

In Vino Veritas

Truth in advertising by Hugh MacLeod, famous for his cartoons on the backs of business cards, from a new series of wine labels for Stormhoek.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Welcome CBS News Blogophiles

If you've just arrived at our humble corner of the blogosphere this morning from this wonderful link on CBS News, we're pleased you stopped by to check out our blog.
With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by's Melissa P. McNamara.

Blogophile leads with the buzz about satirist Stephen Colbert, who likes the wikiality of Wikipedia. Who's to say Brownie wasn't really doin' a heckuva job? Let's see if it doesn't say so here in the Wikipedia. There, see? It's there now. ;-)

Gill Blog can't compete with Stephen Colbert for buzz, but we know truthiness when we see it.
Bloggers are concerned that people are unprepared. "Are you ready for the next natural disaster or terrorist attack?," Michael Hampton asks at Homeland Stupidity. "If you're relying on the Department of Homeland Security’s Web site, or think the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be able to help you, then you aren’t ready."

Melissa McNamara has kindly mentioned our blog below the fold, as real newspaper journalists say, at the very bottom of her article to ensure that only her most conscientious readers are referred to the Gill Blog.
But Tony Gill points out that DHS has said the Federation of American Scientists is woefully misinformed and the Really Ready website is likely to confuse the public. So perhaps preparedness is in the eye of the beholder?

Thanks for the link love, Melissa. I'm adding Blogophile RSS Feed to my blog reader right now. Good stuff.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Google Earth a Disaster Management Tool

Disaster control experts are discovering Google Earth as a powerful tool in their work, according to a recent article in Spiegel Online.

Google Earth wasn't really intended for scientists. The Google search engine's extraordinary globe, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of satellite photos and aerial images, was initially meant as a game for virtual hobby pilots. Users discovered that it was fun to fly over their own homes, swing up into space and, within seconds, swoop back down into the depths of the Grand Canyon. But now the scientific community is discovering how useful the software is for their own work.

Homeland Security applications include:

* Critical infrastructure vulnerability assessment and protection
* First responder site familiarization and planning
* Pattern visualization of surveillance data

Google Earth solutions for homeland security include professional Google Earth Enterprise Solutions and Google Earth Pro.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast almost a year ago, people across the country and around the world wondered how to help. Many donated money; others lent their homes to dislocated survivors. A group of Googlers lent their expertise by leveraging the power of Google technology.

Over several long nights, the teams from Google Earth and Google Maps created satellite imagery overlays of the devastation in the affected region, which showed more accurately the scope of the disaster.

Soon after, Google was told that rescue workers and the U.S. Air Force were using Google Earth to find people who were stranded.

And last week, Google received formal recognition from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Members of the NGA presented the "Hurricane Katrina Recognition Award" to the Google Earth team, as well as the Google Enterprise and Global Support groups, for their direct support during the Katrina disaster. [via]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Really Ready or Not?

Today the Federation of American Scientists launched, a comprehensive emergency preparedness website developed in nine weeks by FAS intern Emily Hesaltine.

Modeled after the Department of Homeland Security's, addresses the inaccuracies and incomplete information on the DHS site. includes clear and accurate information to help individuals, families, businesses, and individuals with disabilities prepare for and respond to a variety of threats. A thorough analysis of is also available on the site.

"I know it isn't good to laugh about such a serious topic, but when I saw the graphic on suggesting that when a nuclear bomb goes off a hundred feet away you might want to protect yourself by walking around the corner, I just couldn't help myself," said Ivan Oelrich, Vice President of Strategic Security at FAS. "After three years and millions of dollars, taxpayers should expect a better website from the Department of Homeland Security."

The appropriate reaction to a nuclear attack is to hide from the light and heat of the blast, then walk perpendicular to the wind away from the dust cloud. Accurate information like this, not available on, can be found on Modifications were also made to repetitive, lengthy, and generic material to make it easier to use and remember.

A section was added to help Americans with disabilities prepare for and respond to emergencies. The section, developed in collaboration with the National Organization on Disability's Emergency Preparedness Initiative, is titled "ReallyReady Disabilities" and answers questions like how to create a support network to help you in an emergency and how to develop an evacuation plan.

"The Department of Homeland Security has declared September National Preparedness Month. It would be shameful if they could not get into shape before then," said Michael Stebbins, Director of Biology Policy at FAS. "It took an intern two months to make, DHS should be able to make a useful site in less than a month."

Sources at DHS say the Federation of American Scientists is woefully misinformed and the Really Ready website is likely to confuse the public.

Which disaster preparedness webiste do you think is better? or