Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Syntax and Shorthand

Syntax kills. I learn this lesson all the time. Some are worse than others, though. Mine often lead to hilarious imagery.

Others actively revise historical fact.

Oyster reminds us that, with the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina*, be on the lookout for glaring reporting errors concerning the event.

Torrential rains did not flood New Orleans. The levees on the Mississippi River did not fail. The levees on Lake Pontchartrain did not fail. Specific communities were inundated by storm surge. New Orleans was inundated when certain specific levees did not perform as specifically designed.

Getting this wrong is like saying terrorists used truck bombs on September 11, or highjacked airliners against Oklahoma City. Saying torrential rains flooded New Orleans is like saying the terrorists cut down the WTC towers with a chainsaw. But I guaran-damn-tee you no one is going to get it that wrong about New York.

Speaking of which, New Orleans isn't the only victim of fact - bending shorthand statments made for uninformative television.

Because there is a sacred Burlington Coat Factory somewhere in lower Manhattan that must not be modified.


* - And several associated failures of government constructed walls designed to keep water out of New Orleans that no one wants to talk about.

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2 comments:

Dante said...

I have to admit as much as I don't give a shit about a city under sea level and its problems with flooding, I've noticed myself going out of my way to correct the more egregious inaccuracies I see reported regarding Katrina and its effect on New Orleans. There was a lot cash given to Louisiana to upgrade the levies that failed, and nobody knows where that cash went. It was as if millions of chest freezers suddenly cried out in terror.

GennieRaider said...

Please document that Dante. The "Hurricane Protection System" was designed and built under the Army Corp per Congressional mandate in the 60's. It failed in about 50 locations. Sand was used instead of clay in St. Bernard, whole sections were unfinished in the lower 9th, soil samples were averaged instead of actually tested on the London Ave. canal. The site most photographed, the 17 Street canal, failed when the water was still 4 to 5 feet below design max. FYI - twice before the water had been higher in that canal, imagine what would have happened if that had blown when the other 90% of the population was home. 10,000 body bags would not have covered it.

The Corp has structures all over this country. Hundreds have been listed as dangerous because of investigations prompted by Katrina. You should enter your zip code in on the corp's web site and make sure you are personally safe from their work before pointing fingers elsewhere.