Lord of the Flies - A Weblog from Downtown New Orleans

by Steve Mallett

Related link: http://wiki.nola-intel.org/index.php/Main_Page

I've been following an incredible blog written by The Interdictor, part of a team keeping a datacenter running in downtown New Orleans. This not your father's CNN...
It's been a very long day. I'm going to crash for a bit and try to get 5 hours or so of sleep. I apologize again that I cannot respond to each IM. I am trying. We've got that IRC channel going and I'll try to get in there for a while later in the day.

I am going to debrief the police officer completely in the morning. He was utterly fatigued, thirsty, and wanted to find out what the hell was really going on.

Security has become a major concern now, because the NOPD is ineffective and the looters terrorists are roaming the streets. Word is now that they're lighting buildings on fire, but I can't confirm that. Anyway, we have to run guard shifts and patrol and it limits our downtime.

It is a zoo out there though, make no mistake. It's the wild kingdom. It's Lord of the Flies. That doesn't mean there's murder on every street corner. But what it does mean is that the rule of law has collapsed, that there is no order, and that property rights cannot and are not being enforced. Anyone who is on the streets is in immediate danger of being robbed and killed. It's that bad.

I will be back on around 0700 or so I think.

Team SOTI signing off. Will leave the cam on.

I found this after being disgusted with CNN's mamby-pamby reporting.

Interdictor blog
Great wiki of web news resources.


2005-09-01 08:16:00
I didn't want to give this guy (or his employer) a megaphone
I commented about this guy over on Making Light (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight) some days ago, and actually started to blog about it here myself.

The more I read it, though, the madder I got, and the less I wanted to link to it.

The guy sounds like someone who has spent too much time jerking off to the wrong parts of Robert Heinlein's later novels. He sounds likely to get someone killed unnecessarily.

But I could forgive that, and some of the more asshattish statements he'd made, (because he is in a difficult place [over his head, I'd say]) if he were there doing something important.

So what are they doing in that data center that's so important that they are using diesel which could be used for emergency work? Why, they're doing web hosting!

Now, dig this: The company is either too cheap or too stupid to establish a disaster recovery site (or maybe they have one, but it doesn't work, wasn't tested, all that excuse riffing, which is effectively the same difference) for their data center, which they put right in the way of a natural disaster everyone knew was eventually coming!

To backfill this act of rampant idiocy, they're hogging vital resources in a disaster area.

These people have lost all sense of proportion.

If I were able, I'd take out their connectivity and tell them to get the hell out of town and out of the way of the grown-ups. If necessary, I'm thinking the helicopter scene in True Lies.

(Okay, that part is a joke. I think I still have my sense of proportion.)

Anyway, if I were one of this company's clients, I'd be looking for a new webhosting provider. No working DR site--and who needs the bad conscience (or the bad publicity) for giving them money.

Common sense still has a place in the postmodern world.

2005-09-01 08:54:59
datacenter business aside...
The reason I point to his blog is not to outline any lack of reason with being a datacenter, but that he's reporting from the center of the insanity.

Listening to the radio scanners available from many sources on the wiki, listed above, it doesn't sound to me like his reporting is far off the mark. I'm hearing military and police personel reporting shootings and basic chaos everywhere.

2005-09-01 09:21:40
Lots of other sources available
Steve, I haven't had WWL streaming today, but I have had it running the last three days almost constantly, and I've been watching the posts at NOLA, and reading other reports.

I agree he's in the middle of it and that makes him interesting, but he's in the middle of it because of a series of bad judgements for which, as the company's crisis manager, he's responsible.

I'm going to go with what Gordon Dickson has Hal Mayne say in The Final Encyclopedia about (paraphrasing) how having a good cause can provide a sounder basis for judgement.

So while I do look at what he's saying, I'm looking at what everyone else is saying--and there are a lot of people out there saying a lot of things. Notice that what you hear from this cat is mostly either second-hand (debriefing the cop) or from a great distance (ten floors down). I'm pretty sure things would look different were he (say) a stranded tourist at the Superdome.

Anyway, these people have done heroic public service, and I recommend them to everyone:

  • NOLA.com (http://www.nola.com/) , the on-line presence of the Times-Picayune.

  • WWL TV (http://www.wwltv.com/) , which has been streaming coverage eighteen hours a day.

  • The Sun Herald (http://www.sunherald.com/) of Biloxi, Mississippi.

  • , also of Biloxi, which has podcasts (http://www.wlox.com/) of its disaster coverage--here's the feed (http://wistv.static.worldnow.com/images/incoming/wlox/wlox.xml) .

Those are the mainstream sources, and if you investigate them, you'll see a lot of blogging and linking to non-mainstream sources. This is the press--that damned MSM!--doing a great job.

In unofficial sources, Making Light (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/) has been my personal point of reference. If you look through the Katrina posts, you'll find all sorts of useful information, and a fair amount of discussion, most of it informed, little of it unintelligent. (I gather I'm a regular there now--but don't judge it by me!)

In a quick segue from that, these two SF books have run through my mind as this disaster played out: Mother of Storms by John Barnes, and The Wanderer, by Fritz Leiber. (http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?s=3782622)

2005-09-01 12:24:24
Going nowhere fast....
I'm going to have to agree with the others on this one. The act of staying behind was not the most well throught out decision. Once the leavy broke, those guys should have high-tailed it to another town.

There are necessary services out there that need to be running (communications, for example), but this isn't one of them. And if it is business critical, there should have been a seperate datacenter in another geographic region.