Friday, November 21, 2014

Urban disaster plans

The general public, beyond the prepper, Glenn Beck, and sustainable crowds is slowly becoming more comfortable with the idea of local resilience.  Granted this all about preparations for local disasters, but it is far better than what has been in place: essentially nothing.
Disaster Plans Go Hyperlocal
Neighborhoods in Some Cities Work to Be Self-Sufficient in Case of Emergency
Jim Carlton, Wall Street Journal (hard copy) 20 November 2014
San Francisco - I f a devastating earthquake were to hit this city, local officials hope to deploy a new weapon: residents trained as emergency response teams to help neighborhoods fend for themselves until water and other services are restored.
"We need to be ready to go the distance, life five days," said Daniel Homsey, director of the city's Neighborhood Resilience program, which so far has organized volunteer teams in three communities...
San Francisco is among 10 U.S. cities that have signed onto a program called 100 Resilient Cities started last year by the Rockefeller Foundation. Other American cities include New York, Los Angeles, and Boulder Colo., while international cities include Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Melbourne, Australia.
Michael Berkowitz, a managing director for the foundation, said the program was created after emergency-response officials began noticing close-knit neighborhoods in places like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and New Jersey after superstorm Sandy, rebounded faster from the disaster than the ones where neighbors didn't know each other.
...ideas have included stockpiling communal food and water to holding more block parties. 
Notice that this is really disaster prepping.  But since it is big city governments, who have to appeal to the left-leaning crowd, they use buzz words like "resilience", and I am sure somewhere in there they through around "sustainability" as well.
I am encouraged that at least some municipalities are getting a little more serious about helping themselves.  I realized that they don't have much budget, but skimping on existential items, even low ones with a low immediate likelihood of usage, has been shown many times to be disastrous: think Dykes and New Orleans. 
I would also suggest that those who are of a more rightward inclination, but have family, neighbors, and friends, who they would like to get somewhat on board, main stream programs like this are a strong foot in the door, and using acceptable language (resilience, sustainability, community) also go a long way to smoothing the path.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lots of people protesting

A guy with one of those hobbiest style four-prop helicopter drones took video of the Hong Kong protests (a little more here) (hat tip: NC). There is not sound.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finally here

Ebola in the U.S.  Or to be more specific, in Dallas.

Government confirms first case of Ebola in US
AP through News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), 30 September 2013
After arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20, the patient began to develop symptoms on Sept. 24 and initially sought care two days later, Frieden said. The patient was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 28, when Texas Health Presbyterian put him under strict isolation. Blood tests by Texas health officials and the CDC separately confirmed an Ebola diagnosis on Tuesday.
Frieden would not reveal the patient’s nationality or age.
Asked how many people the patient may have had close contact with in that time period, Frieden said, “I think a handful is the right characterization.”
Note per our discussions in the last post, Ebola can gestate up to 21 days, but like many diseases, the symptoms (coughing, sneezing, biting, vomiting) are how it transmits to another host.  So the long gestation period does help it to spread around, it tends to kill its host too quickly during the time period in which it is infectious.  So much so that preparation of the body for the funeral is a common method that it is transmitted.
Note though, that the fact we still knowingly allow nonessential travel (family visits) from countries suffering from a potentially pandemic event, I think indicates that we have not seriously internalized the danger present.

Read more here:

Monday, September 29, 2014

70% tippping point

Since so many of the apocalyptic novels that I review are pandemic in nature.  I thought this was a very good tool for a fictional writer trying to be a little more realistic in their pandemic scenario.

The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic
Tom Randall, Bloomburg, 26 September 2014 (hat tip: NC)
But perhaps the most important Ebola number right now is 70 percent. That’s the proportion of patients who need to be isolated -- in treatment centers or at least in their homes -- in order to put a quick end to the Ebola outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Once 70 percent of patients are effectively isolated, the outbreak decreases at a rate nearly equal to the initial rate of increase,” researchers wrote today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. If 70 percent of the current outbreak was achieved by late December, the epidemic “would be almost ended by January 20.”

Ebola's problem is that it kills its host too quickly (6 days assumed which includes burial time), and is not an airborne transmitted disease.  The studies transmission rate is set at 30%/day for those in the same home with no isolation .  The number is 2% for hospitalized, 3% for home care with appropriate precautions.
Note that killing your host does not actually help the virus/bacteria.  That is why a lot of lethal disease mutate to tone down their deadliness over time.  The lethal bugs are out competed by the less lethal ones that allow the host to walk around spreading them longer. 
On a second note, as best I can tell,  the reason why animal vectored diseases are often so deadly is because the "bug" often doesn't need to keep the host alive for as lengthy of a period.