Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reality-based reality

From an article in Salon - oh, sure, Liberal Media - but I'm betting these figures are more or less correct.
A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late.

All based on the best science, we're told. What does the Corps know about this kind of thing, anyway? Emphasis mine. Good thing our National Guard is healthy, energized, numerous and ready to help.

Why the Dock works

In the planning document for Gnome 3.0, Geert Schuring writes
The current generation of desktops really suck hard imho... why on earth does an app need a notification place when it allready has a icon placed in my menu? It would be really simple to use an icon both for starting the app and for notifications. This way my mail client could even tell me that i should start him because there is mail waiting for me.

There you have it. Emphasis mine. UI experts tear their hair out over the Dock, the triple-duty monstrousness of it. But these kinds of interfaces are everywhere. A basic example is a car's tachometer, useful for telling if your car is running - useful in a smooth, modern, insulated luxury car - as well as the engine's speed. Nobody needs or wants an idiot light telling them that Your Car is On.

Not just him, not just me: Tim Bray takes note of the Dock's exasperating perfectly-OKness.