An Archive of Jacob Appelbaum’s Post-Katrina weblog

One step ahead of CNN

Posted in Katrina,neworleans,photos by jacob on September 17, 2005

Currently on the front page of CNN we’ve got a photo of a couple of people dining at a nice place in the French quarter

Driving through New Orleans

In the spirit of helping the community, I thought I’d just share that a member of Common Ground fixed his bike tire yesterday. He paid all of us with cold beer and great stories. New Orleans is a mighty strange place.


NYC hackers Neil and Justin save the day

Posted in algiers,gear,Katrina,neworleans,photos,radio,supplies,wireless by jacob on September 17, 2005

NYC hackers save the day

 These two guys deserve more respect than I can possible express. They came in today with nearly $2000 worth of equipment and within a matter of moments they had everything ready to roll. We’ve got over a dozen laptops – both Mac OS X and Windows (Knoppix shall soon overcome!).

The two brought everything including normal telephones. I think the kitchen sink is actually still in their trunk but we’ve got a few of them so we’re good to go in that department.

These guys are my heroes. They’ve helped us complete a very vital part of our mission here, they’ve helped us bring the medical center online. The medics now have the ability to look up life saving information and stay in contact with their familes, friends or whatever they use the internet for these days.

We now have two separate internet connections that we can share out over wifi and tomorrow we’ll deploy the gear we staged tonight. I think we’ve got three EVDO cards in the general area (one is Justins and the other two are Common Ground gear). I wonder how many cards we can fit per tower, is anyone really familiar with how Verizon CDMA towers allocate slots with EVDO? How many cards can we use before we max out the tower?

If you’re in the area and you need an uplink just select essid “Common Ground” and enjoy!
Oh and don’t forget about the radiostation on 94.5FM!

Power is out

Posted in algiers,electricity,housing,Katrina,neworleans by jacob on September 17, 2005

Just as I was about to post about two bad ass hackers from NYC who brought about 2k worth of equipment with them – the power died. We’re working on generator power but it’s comforting to know that it’s just our block.

Update: It’s back on now but we’re charging our UPS system so we can have enough power to finish staging our networks for deployment tomorrow. 

Radio Interview with Chris Pirillo

Last night I talked to Chris Pirillo for his weekly show. You can hear the interview on their site.

Public Service Announcement

Posted in Katrina,media,neworleans by jacob on September 16, 2005

I suggest everyone read the latest weekly review from Harpers. No this is not The Onion.

A local block party (Quote of the day)

Posted in algiers,Katrina,neworleans,party by jacob on September 16, 2005

All night people have been talking about a local block party.

“It’s just FOUR blocks away!”
“What about the curfew?”

Surely enough I decided that even though it might be safe to get there it’s almost certainly not going to be a fun walk home. Lets just assume that the party was full of people I didn’t clash with, I can’t imagine walking home alone would be safe. The curfew has been extended to 21:00 hours I’ve been told. Someone even reassured me by telling me that the local military from the 1st cav had no ammo in their guns! If that’s the truth I’d trust it for the person and only the person that shows me an open empty chamber as well as an empty clip. No one confirmed this but apparently that’s the company line for the 1st cav, no live ammo at all.

Still I was unconvinced. Surely I do things that might be a little risky but walking four blocks to a party in the dark under curfew in what is essentially a military police zone, that’s just crazy.

People just started returning from the party and it turns out that it was probably for the best. The vigilantes that people had been talking about, the white ones that are openly racist and violent were the ones throwing the party. Doh! Not a good party for the people in this community to attend.

As it just so happens I heard a story about a fight. An Irishman was drinking and somehow ended up ripping his shirt off to fight with someone. The 1st cav moved to the other side of the party and when asked if anyone from the 1st cav would break up the fight they said:

“We are the US military, we invade foreign countries. We don’t break up bar fights.”

And so it goes.

Animal rescue

Posted in animals,Katrina,neworleans,photos,spca by jacob on September 16, 2005

Driving through New Orleans

 This isn’t the first sign of Animal rescue but I believe it’s the first time I’ve mentioned it. I really respect these people. The cops and the SPCA travel around looking for animals, they code the buildings just the same way the DMORT team does.

The best quote I’ve gotten from one of the Animal rescue people was something along the lines of: “We’re normal cops without guns. We search houses by kicking down doors to find animals. I really like breaking doors down.”

I bet.

A harsh world of words

Posted in Katrina,neworleans,photos by jacob on September 16, 2005

Driving through New Orleans

Creation of shallow graves in residential and commercial areas with markings on doors reminds some people of a plague. I’ve been told by more than one person that when they’re walking down the road here they feel like they’re in some horrible zombie movie, some sort of fictional world. It’s interesting to see parts of American entertainment become part of the American way of living, of the American way of dying. When I traveled into town today I did so with a man from Belgium. I’ve really come to really respect him. He lived in Iraq for two years and he’s been a journalist for more than 17 years I believe. When I asked him what his views on this were, what it was like as an outsider. He astutely pointed out the reality of everyone being an outsider. I’m an outsider of the community but not the nation. When I refined my question he discussed the view the world sees, the face America has put on when handling this crisis. It’s a pretty incompetent face with a grim dead stare. It’s a sad day for America in the eyes of the world, the racism, the classism and the outrage muzzled by the so called news channels.I think the way people throw words around in a time of extreme pressure really shows how we feel as collective society.

Driving through New Orleans

When a human being becomes a dead body. When a dead body becomes a bio-hazard and a building is not condemmed regardless of destruction. It’s a harsh world full of harsh words. I assume a man or woman living never think their final resting place will be marked by the danger they currently pose to the world. It’s hard for me to see signs that are so cold and true and to see the value placed by people, all of the people be it either local or federal. Who gets rescued here and who is left there. Who makes those choices? Is it first come first served?

 Driving through New Orleans

I wonder if this person died during the storm or if they were a victim of being unprepared or simply a member of the underclass. I wonder if this person died from a gun shot to the face for being a looter and I wonder if that’s justice. I wonder how people can turn away from the news when this is what is happening. I wonder. I wonder but I have no doubt we’ll never know. Freedom to shoot looters is the freedom to kill people and call them looters. Murder with no questions asked. That’s an unintended consequence if there ever was one. I wonder how many people were slain by police, by owners of houses, by victims. I wonder if everyone has shame for how they’ve collectively acted but feel they had no choice, that their hand was forced. I wonder if anyone feels proud.

I know that I feel sick. I feel sad. I feel like we’ve not advanced as a culture when I hear we still turn guns on people in need, when we don’t help people, when we discount them because “they should have known” or because “they should have left.” It’s such a disconnection of humanity, it’s so disgusting.

Recently I received an email asking if I had seen a local man. The email included a photo of the man and a plea to help. What can someone say to these people? They’re worried beyond anything I’ve ever known, they’re probably insane with fear and full of caring. In the back of their mind hope battles dread with a shotgun. It took me a few days to reply, to really figure out what to say to these people for who I could offer no help, no insight and no eye witness reports of positivity. I finally wrote the person back today to tell them I was sorry but I had no idea of the fate of their friend. I want to give people like that hope but I have no way of doing so in goodconscious . I couldn’t tell them about the labels we put on human faces to help deal away pain and reason. I couldn’t tell them anything like that. I could only say I was sorry.

The face of peace keeping

Posted in Katrina,military,neworleans,photos by jacob on September 16, 2005

Driving through New Orleans

 This man was patroling an area for looters. He was very nice to me. Locals from OK are OK.

On patrol

Posted in Katrina,neworleans,photos by jacob on September 16, 2005

Driving through New Orleans

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