Storm Fallout

Here in Maryland we seem to have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Sandy but with New Jersey and New York taking the greatest damage. I was living in West Palm Beach when Hurricane Andrew sliced through south Dade County, making it twice that I have been on the fringe of major storms.

Whenever I hear of hurricanes heading for New York I always think of the cautionary tale of the Citicorp Building where the structural engineer, through a series of propitious events, discovered that the building was susceptible to collapse under certain wind conditions. The New Yorker has one of the most succinct and lucid accounts of the event.

This resulted in a crash program to remediate the building’s structure which was successfully completed before any major storm struck the building. This one example is a cautionary tale about engineering professionalism. One should always do the right thing regardless of the consequences.

And no discussion of wind and structures is complete without a reference to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse which is shown in about every freshman engineering class ever.

Open post for storm and disaster stories:

36 Responses

  1. The big wind disaster so far seems to be the collapse of a construction tower crane.


  2. The NYC subway system is a mess. That’s going to cause huge problems when people start to try to go back to work.


  3. Mike, I think you’re right about NYC subway system, and I bet it’s going to be a huge problem for quite a while. I’m still waiting to hear something today from favorite nephew who lives in Goshen, NY. Although they did not get the brunt of the storm, as of yesterday they had power but no water (I’m still trying to figure that one out).


  4. O/T:

    U.S. Supreme Court declines to allow Oklahoma ‘personhood’ initiative to move forward
    Without comment, justices let stand a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that the proposed ballot question would place an unconstitutional ban on abortion.



  5. So. . . yello’s here; Don Juan/banned appears to be without power. We know where Mark is (or at least where he was yesterday morning): a hotel in Newark. Has anyone heard from NoVA? And, like Mike, I’m hoping we hear from the financial guys that they’re OK.

    And the headline on NBCNews’ site is that the NYC subway is out for at least 4 – 5 days.


  6. Checking in. Also, at the risk of restarting a contentious topic, this may be of interest here:

    I think I recognized myself in the third to last paragraph.


  7. I am in Northern VA and we did OK. There are some power outtages around as you might expect (that might explain NoVA missing). We lost power last night for about one hour – how they repaired during the brunt of the storm I am not sure but I am not complaining. But no where near the number of outtages I expected. Not too many trees down. The Derecho we had a couple months ago seemed to have done substantially more damage. One academic was saying that the Derecho was a blessing in diguise because it took out all the weak trees and structures and left the heartier ones that were able to withstand Sandy. We have gotten A LOT of rain. Overall it was better than forecasted for NoVa. And it made me clear my gutters!


  8. Good to see you, Dave! And Fairlington Blade has also been around, so that’s another person from your part of the country.

    Also glad to hear that it wasn’t as bad as feared, and that your gutters are cleared out. Something I should probably do, now that I think about it. . .


  9. We’re good. Just a mess. Didn’t lose power. Just hunkered down. Neighbors sustained some signifcant damage. Thanks for the concern


  10. We did have some minor flooding. But it’s contained.

    Also. Go Irish!


    • “Go Irish!”

      nova, do you mean Irish as in “Notre Dame”? If so, I don’t think I knew you were an ND fan. Monday sports headline in the OU student paper was (in huge letters) “NOTRE SHAMED!”

      Glad to hear all of you are okay with only minor damage.


  11. I’m around the corner from NoVa and we’re in pretty good shape. Didn’t lose power during the storm and no discernible damage from the storm. I suspect the Derecho thinned the herd last year and so the rest of the trees are good.



  12. “But it cannot obscure perhaps the most specific and nameable species of male privilege — of all the things that may one day kill me, pregnancy is not among them.”

    No – but the female privilege of Prostate cancer could… I find this sort of argument mindnumbingly obtuse. To say that men have no horse in this race is, in my mind, ridiculous. Obviously we don’t get pregnant. But we cause it along with the woman. Part of us, literally, is in every pregnancy. It is messy and not convenient to think about a man’s role, rights and responsibilites in this. But as part of the miracle of life, we have them. To say we don’t is ignorant, sexist and leads to male irresponsibility. If we have no say or place in this discussion, then don’t get upset when we don’t take responsibility for anything. Don’t ask us for support or money or anything. If it is your body and only your body, then it is your responsibility and only yours.

    Is preganancy dangerous? Yes and no. It is a part of life, part of the choices we make. It is less dangerous than some and more than others. The difference between pregancy and virtually every other choice is that biological fact that it is a combination of two people. It is not simply a medical issues or a health issue. Because of the biology, it is an issue that both parties have to deal with, have to have a say in. It is an issue that is unlike any other. If you want to argue that a woman has the last say, we can discuss the merits of that. But to simply dismiss a male’s role as ‘a handmainden at best’ is unacceptable to me. As an aside note, my wife almost died with the birth of our third child and probably would were she to get pregnant again. I have been in Coates place yet we have come to significantly different positions. And I think, to quote him, that he is still a ‘fuck up’.


  13. Yep. My wife went to ND and I have been assimilated.


  14. Non political news that’s worth a read for those of us who use Apple products:


  15. Still haven’t had time yet to read the coates link (darn work!), but here’s one for Mike on the Nate Silver brouhaha.


  16. Thanks, Michi. I actually just read that post by Ezra. Did you see Nate’s tweet about Sandy last night?



  17. Dave!:

    As far as I could find, in 2008 death rates for prostate cancer and pregnancy were essentially the same (23.6 per 100,000 for men [SEER report] and 24 per 100,000 for women [CIA Factbook][!!!! Who knew they cared?]). So I don’t think that Coates is being hyperbolic in this case.

    I think that part of the issue is that some men, like yourself (and Coates, to a slightly lesser extent, as it seems he had to grow into it) are in a committed relationship where you have–almost–as much to lose as the mother if she dies. You’re highly invested. I think Coates was talking more about the high out-of-wedlock birthrate that is at least partially brought on by restrictions to contraceptives and abortion, and the absurdity of the state having the final say.


    If you see yourself in that third-to-last paragraph then all I can say is bravo! It’s really all that I, personally, ask of men when they discuss these types of “women’s issues”–don’t assume that you have the answer. Of course, women shouldn’t assume that either, but sometimes we’re talking from personal experience with things like trying to get access to contraceptives or an abortion that a man doesn’t have. And most definitely we probably have a visceral reaction to some of the recent proposals (72-hour waiting period after consultation for an abortion, transvaginal ultrasounds for no legitimate medical purpose) that a man wouldn’t have.


  18. okie:

    as of yesterday they had power but no water (I’m still trying to figure that one out).

    My guess would be that safe water supplies got flooded so it isn’t potable until they clean it up. . . which, depending on the size of the source, could take quite a while.


  19. To be clear Michi, this is what I was referring to:

    “This is the era of Internet intellectuals, mostly dudes, who excel at analogizing easily accessible facts to buttress their points. It’s a good skill to have, and one I employ myself. But it isn’t wisdom. ”

    That certainly describes me on PL.


  20. I figured that’s what you meant, jnc, but the fact that you know that is more than a lot of folks do.


  21. Mike:

    A comment by jbb3rd on the Nate Silver column:

    Political pundits are intimidated by anything more mathematical than a single data point



    • Two great articles. One of my cases has involved a fair amount of statistics and I love the complete and utter misunderstanding of the even the basics that Ezra’s article highlighted.
      The Atlantic article, and particularly the quote posted by jnc4p, was also great.
      I’m feeling better about my bet for a Jimmy Johns sub with one of the partners at my firm.
      This month has been crazy for me, but I’m hoping to post some more after this week including a picture of the cutest little dinosaur you will ever see.


  22. Michi:

    It’s the same battle they had in baseball in the 1980s when sabermetrics came out. The old time scouts felt threatened by the new stats-oriented guys and dismissed them as not having been “on the ground.” Of course, now all the baseball front offices have incorporated some type of stats analysis into their scouting. Arguably the best GM in the league (here in Tampa) used to be a financial guy, with no background in baseball prior to coming here.

    All Nate has done is move his baseball algorithm (PECOTA) to polls/elections.


  23. This was an amusing description of Nate Silver:

    “And then, if that’s not enough reassurance, there is always Nate Silver, a motivational psychologist for Democrats, who puts the president’s odds of reelection at 74.6 percent.”


    • I’m not sure they should be turning to Nate Silver for reassurance. He is giving Mitt a 25% chance of winning which is the same as flipping heads twice in a row. Not exactly lottery odds. If anything, Silver is part Cassandra.

      For real cheerleading it is Dean Chambers of Unskewed Polls who is predicting a 359 EV blow-out for Mitt. I assume he is using the phrase ‘unskewed’ in the same way Fox uses ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’.


  24. we should do electoral maps for bragging rights.

    update: and popular vote % for tie-breaker.


  25. NoVA:

    Now that would be fun! I’ll see if I can find and easy plug-in one and post it as a poll.


  26. Anyone care to post their companies (or personal) health insurance increase (or decreases for this year)?

    We just got our notice here. Annual premium increase of 10% for a relatively small (approx 50 employees) small business.


  27. We had a 600% increase in annual premium for health insurance this past year (I’m an employee of the state of FL). Of course, even with that increase, we’re paying an embarrassingly low premium each month.


  28. Mike:

    How did you find out what your increase was? Like you I’m a state employee, but I’m not doing The Google right to find out the answer.


  29. Michi:

    We have a site that lists all our benefits and what we are paying. Since open enrollment is coming to an end soon, I’ve been checking to see our coverage.

    The other way to do it is to compare pay stubs.


  30. Mike:

    The other way to do it is to compare pay stubs.

    How quaint and 20th century! 🙂


  31. Michi:

    How quaint and 20th century!

    Yeah, I know. Even in the lab, I’m very 20th century — still using some of the same techniques I learned as an undergrad.

    At least the electronic pay stubs are easier to find than the old paper ones.


  32. Mike:

    Please, please tell me aren’t using phenol/chloroform for DNA extraction! Or even Trizol. . . if you are, I’m coming for a visit to teach you some much better 21st century techniques!

    As far as I can tell, looking at my most recent (electronic) pay stub compared to last year’s mine haven’t gone up at all. . . but the kicker may be that my status changed from married to single.


Be kind, show respect, and all will be right with the world.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: