The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.
A Stunning Smackdown for Goodell and the League – With Thursday’s decision by Judge Richard Berman to overturn the NFL’s four-game suspension of Tom Brady, the Deflategate chapter of the NFL’s history finally reached a decision point, more than half a year after the AFC Championship Game that set events in motion. After months of obfuscation, frustration, failed negotiation and litigation, Judge Berman issued an excoriating opinion that is a stunning rebuke to the NFL and to the power of Commissioner Roger Goodell. The judge ruled that the league did not provide Brady with due process and found aspects of of the decision “fundamentally unfair” to Brady. Add Brady to the Saints bounty episode, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, and the NFLPA now has a “Winning Five” of cases in which Goodell’s discipline has been overturned on appeal, this last being by far the biggest.
The decision came, ironically, from the NFL’s hand-picked legal venue—the Southern District of New York—foreclosing the NFLPA from going to their preferred destination in Minnesota. The NFLPA, in a statement, said, “This decision should prove, once and for all, that our collective bargaining agreement does not grant this commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading.” Expect the NFL to appeal, but for now Tom Brady is set to open the season next Thursday night as the quarterback for the New England Patriots.
I sat in the hearings in Judge Berman’s court and noticed the strident and even offensive questioning from the judge toward the NFL’s lawyers. There could have been many reasons for that, but as it turned out Berman had true problems with the process. He was especially concerned about the arbitrary nature of the discipline, the use of catch-all “conduct detrimental” rather than an application of any specific policy. Berman noted that the Wells Report even opened with an introduction of an investigation into a “Competitive Integrity” policy that was not articulated to players. Berman had problems with inadequate notice to Brady, the league’s failure to grant Brady’s side the chance to examine Goodell confidante and senior attorney Jeff Pash, and the failure to allow the Brady camp to even view the investigative files of the Wells Report. Berman’s money quote: Goodell “had dispensed his own brand of industrial justice.” Well, that is exactly what Goodell though he was able to do. No more. The Conduct Commissioner has suffered another significant blow. Read More > at MMQB
Would California restaurants swallow new ‘cocktail tax’ if it’s for a good cause? – One assemblywoman is hoping Californians are willing to pay a tax on their cocktails for a good cause.
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord), introduced Assembly Bill 18 this week in an attempt to fund transportation and supported living programs for people with developmental disabilities. The bill would add a 5 cent charge to each cocktail sold at restaurants and bars across California.
The bill would help ensure the state’s compliance with the Lanterman Act, a California law passed in 1969 that provides people with developmental disabilities and their families the right to receive necessary services in their community, according to a press release from Bonilla’s office.
Decreases in funding have left developmental disability service centers with fewer resources, even as the population who needs those services grows, Bonilla said in her press release. In order to meet caseworker ratios required under the current statute, the state would need 650 more regional center workers.
“This very small charge — a nickel — will have a significant impact, easing hardships facing our developmentally disabled loved ones across California,” Bonilla said.
But the restaurant community may not embrace a new tax, regardless of its intent. Read More > in The San Francisco Business Times
Robots Lay Three Times as Many Bricks as Construction Workers – Construction workers on some sites are getting new, non-union help. SAM – short for semi-automated mason – is a robotic bricklayer being used to increase productivity as it works with human masons.
In this human-robot team, the robot is responsible for the more rote tasks: picking up bricks, applying mortar, and placing them in their designated location. A human handles the more nuanced activities, like setting up the worksite, laying bricks in tricky areas, such as corners, and handling aesthetic details, like cleaning up excess mortar.
Even in completing repetitive tasks, SAM still has to be fairly adaptable. It’s able to complete precise and level work while mounted on a scaffold that sways slightly in the wind. The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, cofounder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product.
“In construction, your design will say that a window is located exactly 30 feet from the corner of a building, and in reality when you get to the building, nothing is ever where it says it’s supposed to be,” Peters says. “Masons know how to adapt to that, so we had to design a robot that knows how to do that, too.”
In its current iteration, the system is best suited to work on large swaths of flat walls, most commonly found in projects for universities, hospitals, and other large sites. But some amount of detailed work isn’t beyond the system’s abilities. SAM can emblazon a company logo in brick on a wall, for instance, by following a pixelated map of the image. It can also bump bricks in or out by about half an inch, to create a textured look to a wall face. Read More > at MIT Technology Review
What’s Driving the Marriage Divide? – There is a growing marriage divide in the United States. Marriage rates among lower-income and working class Americans have declined dramatically, and unwed childbearing has become the norm. However, among college-educated Americans, marriage is doing pretty well: most marry, their unwed childbearing rate has remains nearly as low as it was five decades ago, and they are the least likely to divorce.
This marriage divide is driving a wedge through society: in the upper income third of the population, children are raised by their married parents, who have college educations. In the rest of the population, children are often born to single mothers with a high school education or less.
Unwed childbearing has long been common among those with the lowest income levels. Only recently has it become the norm among working-class, high-school educated Americans as well. Not only does this trend leave a large portion of America’s children at much higher risk of poverty, but it also puts children at greater risk for outcomes that make them less likely to thrive. Children raised without their married mother and father are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, abuse alcohol and drugs, and become single parents themselves.
There is an ongoing argument as to what has driven the decline in marriage and the rise in unwed births in working class America. The left often cites economic decline, as Cherlin does, whereas the right emphasizes cultural changes that came with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Read More > at The Public Discourse
Tokyo’s abandoned homes – …Despite a deeply rooted national aversion to waste, discarded homes are spreading across Japan like a blight in a garden. Long-term vacancy rates have climbed significantly higher than in the United States or Europe, and some eight million dwellings are now unoccupied, according to a government count. Nearly half of them have been forsaken completely – neither for sale nor for rent, they simply sit there, in varying states of disrepair.
These ghost homes are the most visible sign of human retreat in a country where the population peaked a half-decade ago and is forecast to fall by a third over the next 50 years. The demographic pressure has weighed on the Japanese economy, as a smaller workforce struggles to support a growing proportion of the old, and has prompted intense debate over long-term proposals to boost immigration or encourage women to have more children.
For now, though, after decades during which it struggled with overcrowding, Japan is confronting the opposite problem: When a society shrinks, what should be done with the buildings it no longer needs?
Many of Japan’s vacant houses have been inherited by people who have no use for them and yet are unable to sell because of a shortage of interested buyers. But demolishing them involves tactful questions about property rights, and about who should pay the costs. The government passed a law this year to promote demolition of the most dilapidated homes, but experts say the tide of newly emptied ones will be hard to stop. Read More > at Domain
30 bail agents arrested in 5 Northern California counties – Officials say they have arrested 30 bail agents in five Northern California counties on suspicion of numerous felonies for illegal business practices, including employing a felon as a bounty hunter.
The Department of Insurance said Monday the arrest sweep that began Thursday focused on Aladdin Bail Bonds, Luna Bail Bonds, Bail Hotline and four other companies it didn’t name. It says another bail agent was arranging his surrender.
The department says it immediately suspended the licenses of all 31 bail agents targeted in Santa Clara, Alameda, Monterey, San Benito and Merced counties.
An investigation found bail agents were scooping business away from competitors by paying jail inmates for providing information about newly booked inmates.
Officials say one bail agent was employing a convicted felon as a bounty hunter-a violation of the Bail Fugitive Recovery Act. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee
How to Make Sure You Won’t Be Replaced by a Robot – As artificial intelligence advances, so does the human fear of being replaced by a computer. It’s a fear that goes back to the Industrial Revolution, when textile workers protested new technology by destroying machines that could do their jobs quicker and more efficiently.
Now that robots (literally) walk the earth, there is an ever-more-pressing question of whether they will spell the end of employment for humans or actually just complement us and make us more productive. But even if it’s the latter, some jobs have already vanished, and others are sure to follow. So what functions will these robots not be able to perform?
A Harvard Business Review article details a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, which finds robots have not been replacing jobs that require a quintessential human skill: social communication. The paper, by David J. Deming of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, explains:
While computers perform cognitive tasks of rapidly increasing complexity, simple human interaction has proven difficult to automate. Since 1980, jobs with high social skill requirements have experienced greater relative growth throughout the wage distribution. Moreover, employment and wage growth has been strongest in jobs that require high levels of both cognitive skill and social skill. Read More > at Inc.
Drought Puts California Water Rights in Crosshairs for Reform – California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.
That process would be a monstrous undertaking and extremely complicated. It would be vigorously opposed by those with long-held water rights who favor the present system, and supported by reform advocates who believe the time has come for California to join other western states with more defined rights.
Some experts believe it’s time for a change.
“It’s a system that worked reasonably well 20, 50, 100 years ago, but the current drought is showing that it is most inadequate to deal with California’s current water challenges,” said Richard M. Frank, professor of environmental practice and director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at the University of California Davis School of Law. “It’s very inflexible in terms of water rights priorities, there is limited recognition of environmental values and environmental needs for water, and there’s a lack of transparency that is very frustrating to me and to a lot of observers.”
But to those on the ground, changing the current system is inviting catastrophe and unpredictable results. Read More > at Water Deeply
Fact check: Senate leader misleads on climate bill oversight – Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León was promoting his new climate bill in a TV interview Monday when he was asked why lawmakers should grant authority to the California Air Resources Board – an unelected body – to decide how to implement provisions of the legislation, including reducing petroleum use in California.
“Well, it was a board that started with Ronald Reagan back in the ’60s – they had the authority,” de León said on KCRA-TV in Sacramento. “My legislation would require them to come back and present the plan to the Legislature. So ultimately, the Legislature – those elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans – will be the ones ultimately responsible for voting the plan up or down.”
Analysis: De León has the history of the California Air Resources Board right – but not his own bill.
In a sweeping effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Senate Bill 350 would require the state to increase to 50 percent from one-third the amount of energy derived from renewable sources, while reducing petroleum use in motor vehicles by 50 percent by 2030.
The legislation does not spell out how the state will achieve that level of petroleum reduction. Instead, it maintains the California Air Resources Board’s existing, broad authority over vehicle emissions and fuel standards. And it does not call for an “up or down” vote on ARB regulations. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee
Blood moon has some expecting end of the world – There will be blood in September — literally, according to the Internet postings of end-times believers.
The night of September 27-28 will bring a “blood moon.” To skywatchers, it simply refers to the copper color the moon takes on during an eclipse, but to some Christian ministers, the fourth and final eclipse in a tetrad — four consecutive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six lunar months — fulfills biblical prophecy of the apocalypse. (The first three in the series took place April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; and April 4, 2015.)
…The reference to the impact is most direct in Joel 2:30-31, which reads, “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”
There’s also a reference to a blood moon in Revelation 6:12 — part of the passage about the Seven Seals — which reads, “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.” Read More > at CNN
Google’s Driverless Cars Run Into Problem: Cars With Drivers – Google, a leader in efforts to create driverless cars, has run into an odd safety conundrum: humans.
Last month, as one of Google’s self-driving cars approached a crosswalk, it did what it was supposed to do when it slowed to allow a pedestrian to cross, prompting its “safety driver” to apply the brakes. The pedestrian was fine, but not so much Google’s car, which was hit from behind by a human-driven sedan.
Google’s fleet of autonomous test cars is programmed to follow the letter of the law. But it can be tough to get around if you are a stickler for the rules. One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn’t get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google’s robot.
It is not just a Google issue. Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book. “The real problem is that the car is too safe,” said Donald Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego, who studies autonomous vehicles.
Traffic wrecks and deaths could well plummet in a world without any drivers, as some researchers predict. But wide use of self-driving cars is still many years away, and testers are still sorting out hypothetical risks — like hackers — and real world challenges, like what happens when an autonomous car breaks down on the highway.
For now, there is the nearer-term problem of blending robots and humans. Already, cars from several automakers have technology that can warn or even take over for a driver, whether through advanced cruise control or brakes that apply themselves. Uber is working on the self-driving car technology, and Google expanded its tests in July to Austin, Tex. Read More > in The New York Times
New San Francisco restaurant replaces humans with iPads – Customers at Eatsa in the Financial District will order from an iPad, sending the order to the kitchen. When the meal is ready, it appears in a small glass compartment. The food is prepared by real people, but the patrons never have to see them.
The owners of Eatsa may have felt that San Franciscans needed to ease themselves into such a radical change, however; for the launch on Monday, concierges in red shirts met guests to help them order. But eventually they will disappear.
Hundreds visited the shop on Monday to try the vegetarian dishes, which prominently feature quinoa and at $6.95 are well below market average in the city. Read More > in The Guardian
FBI raids Palm Springs City Hall, employees sent home – FBI agents and a local public corruption task force raided Palm Springs City Hall armed with search warrants on Tuesday, sending home employees and closing the offices for the day, an FBI spokeswoman said.
Spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said she could not disclose the nature of the searches, which were conducted with members of the so-called Inland Empire Public Corruption Task Force, because the case was under seal.
Eimiller said no suspects had been taken into custody in the desert resort community about 110 miles (177 km) east of Los Angeles and that no arrests were planned on Tuesday.
“We arrived at about 9 a.m. and expect to be out here for several hours, if not all day,” she said.
The local Desert Sun newspaper reported that the raid came some three months after the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission opened an investigation into links between Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and a real estate developer.
That investigation followed reports in the Desert Sun about the mayor’s business relationships with that developer and an editorial saying he owed voters an explanation. Read More > from Reuters
L.A. County’s Lancaster Leads California Cities on 11th Annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report®” – Allstate Insurance Company today released its eleventh annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report®” and Lancaster in Los Angeles County ranked safest in California among America’s 200 largest citiesi in terms of car collision frequency. The report underscores Allstate’s commitment to keeping roadways safer.
According to the report, the average driver in Lancaster will experience an auto collision every 10 years, nearly identical to the national collision average.
“As a trusted advisor to Allstate customers in Lancaster and across the state we’re sharing these results to help us all become safer drivers,” said Phil Telgenhoff, field senior vice president of Allstate in California. “While Lancaster ranks highly on the report, drivers in cities with lower rankings should not get discouraged. Instead, focus on behaviors like slowing down, leaving room between you and other drivers, and minimizing distractions.”
The Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report was created to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on safe driving that saves lives. Kansas City, Kansas, is recognized as the safest driving city in America with the average driver experiencing an auto collision every 13.3 years, which is 24.8 percent less likely than the national average of every 10 years. Read More > at Market Watch
Sacramento Water Meter Upgrade May Help With Drought – As California’s four-year drought intensifies, municipal water authorities across the state are struggling to regulate household water usage. In the state capital of Sacramento, household gardeners who stray from the city’s strict schedule for sprinkler use can be charged with a hefty fine. Meanwhile, thanks to an outdated metering system, nearly half of the city’s 126,000 residents pay a flat monthly fee for water, regardless of how much they use.
The City of Sacramento Utilities department plans to have every connection metered by 2018, and it has $2.7 million in grants to improve meter technology already in homes. Many Sacramento residents will have to either get used to paying more for their water or conserve — and that’s part of the idea.
“Price turns out to be a very powerful way of telling people how much water they’re using, and encouraging them to use that water intelligently,” says Charles Fishman, author of The Big Thirst.
Proper meters can also identify unintentional waste. The Sacramento Bee estimates that one in 10 gallons of water is being lost through leaky pipes. “The meters have a measurement for very low flow,” explains Dan Sherry, supervising engineer for the City of Sacramento. With an updated system, residents would get a water bill alerting them to possible water loss, allowing them to identify and repair the leak at their discretion. Read More > at Next City
Live Sports No Longer TV’s Holy Grail in U.S. as Ratings Peak – Sports broadcasts — long viewed by the entertainment industry as a way to lure viewers and ad dollars — are losing some luster.
American media companies including Walt Disney Inc., Time Warner Inc. and 21st Century Fox could see their profits shrink due to the surging cost of broadcasting professional sports at a time when subscriber numbers are falling and viewership is hitting a plateau.
TV networks including Disney’s ESPN, Fox Sports and Time Warner’s TNT and TBS will spend a combined $12.5 billion in the next year for rights to carry professional football, basketball and baseball games and the Summer Olympics, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Those long-term contracts are based on industry assumptions that may prove too optimistic amid evidence of shrinking demand for cable TV.
“Everyone thought sports rights were the Holy Grail,” said Brandon Ross, an analyst at BTIG Research. “But if your revenues are not as high as you expected and you’ve signed long-term, high-priced agreements, that makes things tough.”
Live sporting events are a top reason people still pay for cable, so media companies battle each other for rights to broadcast athletic events. Sports traditionally have boosted ratings coveted by advertisers and driven up the fees paid by pay-TV operators such as Comcast Corp. to carry channels.
Yet sports haven’t shielded TV networks from subscriber casualties. ESPN has lost 3 million subscribers in the past year and Disney cut its profit forecast earlier this month, sparking a massive selloff in U.S. media stocks. TNT and TBS, which carry basketball, baseball and golf, each shed more than 2 million, and Fox Sports 1 lost 440,000, according to Nielsen data. Read More > at Bloomberg Business
California’s Katrina Is Coming – …The summer dream has become a nightmare drought. But the years-long dry spell isn’t what keeps engineers, economists, and state water planners awake at night. No, they worry about the network of levees at the crux of California’s plumbing—a massive freshwater confluence called the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
Most of the state’s water is drawn from the Delta, protected by levees that pretty much amount to mounds of dirt, even when compared to infrastructure that infamously failed New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes don’t hit NorCal, but these levees are alarmingly susceptible to disaster. If enough were to breach—in an earthquake perhaps, or severe El Niño storm—sea water from San Francisco Bay could rush in, tainting the water supply serving two-thirds of the state. The worst-case scenario could cause up to three years of severely curtailed water for most Californians.
…Almost no planning went into their original design. “These levees were constructed over the past 150 to 160 years largely by farmers,” says Hamedifar. “They were made out of un-compacted sediments and organics. Farmers did little or no foundation preparation for the levees.” Instead of concrete foundations and reinforced slopes, as the Army Corps of Engineers levee construction guidelines direct, the Delta settlers pulled material from the Delta itself: Sand, silt, lots of peat, and some rocky washout from gold mines in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Over the years, farmers piled the levees higher, like ancient cities built atop one another. Since then, federal and state engineers have shored some levees up a bit, but overall the system is a hodgepodge, based on no uniform design, construction, or standards. Robert Bea, professor emeritus of civil engineering at UC Berkeley, prefers to call the infrastructure protecting two-thirds of California’s water supply “antiquated piles of dirt.”
The vulnerability runs even deeper. Under the Delta are layers of sand, silt, and peat. This viscous soil is vulnerable to liquefaction—shaking causes it to lose strength and compaction—which can cause levees to slump below sea level, letting water over the top. Read More > at Wired
Short sleepers are four times more likely to catch a cold: Researchers connect sleep loss to higher rates of illness – In 2009, Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen found for the first time that insufficient sleep is associated with a greater likelihood of catching a cold. To do this, Cohen, who has spent years exploring psychological factors contributing to illness, assessed participants self-reported sleep duration and efficiency levels and then exposed them to a common cold virus.
Now, Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and researchers from UC San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have confirmed that insufficient sleep is connected to an increased chance of getting sick. Published in the journal Sleep, the researchers used objective sleep measures to show that people who sleep six hours a night or less are more than four times more likely to catch a cold, compared to those who sleep more than seven hours in a night.
Aric Prather, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF and lead author of the study, said that the findings add to growing evidence emphasizing how important sleep is for health. Read More > at Medical Xpress
What Would Voters Do on Climate Change Bill? – Looking at the results of the California Business Roundtable/California Manufacturing & Technology Association poll on the SB 350 climate change bill, you can almost see how campaign arguments would be formulated if the hotly debated bill were on a ballot for voters to decide.
The poll conducted by M4 Mobile Research clearly showed that the public at large supports the goals of reducing greenhouse gases. While 82% of those polled consider climate change a serious or moderate threat to the state, when the components of the bill are tested the support remains strong.
Until the cost issue is raised.
…After testing a wide range of specific arguments from positive to negative on the measure — i.e.: California must lead on climate change issues; implementing this legislation will lead to positive innovation; price of gasoline could increase 13 to 50 cents a gallon; electricity rates could jump 30 to 70 percent; disadvantaged citizens will be particularly hard hit by the change – the respondents were again asked if they supported or opposed SB 350.
Support dropped from 66% to 44%, opposition increased from 27% to 48%. Read More > at Fox and Hounds
Climate change legislation approaches pivotal showdown with oil industry – California Democrats’ push to curb emissions and promote clean energy would alter how the state does business and change the way residents live
With only a few days left in the current session of the California legislature, an aggressive political and public relations fight between the oil industry and top lawmakers over climate change legislation is moving into a final round.
At stake is the passage of far-reaching environmental bills that would fundamentally alter the way the state does business and deals with planet-warming pollution – but would likely also change the way everyday Californians travel, live and consume.
The proposed laws represent a Democratic push to curb emissions and promote clean energy that specifically targets “mobile” pollution from cars and other gas-burning vehicles.
Petroleum companies are warning that the lack of specific plans in the policies could lead to gas rationing, surcharges on minivans and trucks, and even government-imposed fines on driving habits, monitored via a vehicle’s onboard computer – big brother in the passenger seat.
Democratic leaders are calling these warnings “doomsday scenarios” that won’t happen.
One of the two main bills, SB 350, calls for a 50% reduction in petroleum use by vehicles by 2030, the equivalent of removing 36m cars and trucks from the road.
It also calls for 50% of the state’s electricity supply to be derived from renewable resources by that date, and 50% better energy efficiency in buildings through retrofits and upgrades. Read More > in The Guardian
Glenn Reynolds: Lessons in disaster for the next Katrina – It’s been a decade since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. What were the lessons? Here are a few:
1. The press did a lousy job. Forget Brian Williams’ “huge lies.” Though the press patted itself on the back afterwards, in fact, as American University Journalism Professor W. Joseph Campbell writes, “it’s instructive to recall how extreme and over the top the reporting was from New Orleans in Katrina’s aftermath.” Reports of wandering bands of rapists, a 10-year-old girl raped in the New Orleans Convention Center, claims that people were shooting at rescue helicopters, sharks haunting the floodwaters, bodies stacked like cordwood — all were false.
2. Crying wolf is dangerous. There are a lot of reasons why New Orleans didn’t evacuate in time. According to George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco froze. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (now in jail for corruption) was late in ordering evacuation of the city, despite warnings from “weather nerd” Brendan Loy. And the Bush White House and FEMA were notoriously late, Bush in particular being unwilling to federalize the issue and override Blanco’s inactive state government. But another reason why people didn’t evacuate in time is because the media engage in hurricane hype. When every story is treated as the storm of the century, people tune out. Some perspective, please?
…5. This will all happen again. It was over seven years after Katrina that Sandy hit, but New York made many of the same mistakes. We’ve been fortunate not to have any really severe hurricanes since, despite post-Katrina predictions that heavy hurricane seasons would be the new normal. But sooner or later, a hurricane strikes, or a tornado, or a blizzard, and things break down. We think of them as unusual, but on any reasonable time scale they’re regular events. At both the governmental and the personal level, we need to think of preparedness for disaster as part of normal life. Because it is. Read More > in USA Today