31 August 2005

inappropriate comparisons

in the last 24 or so hours, i have read the following: hurricane katrina is "our tsunami;" the destruction of katrina is "like hiroshima." now, i know there's nothing more crass than body-for-body comparison, but i really wish americans could manage even the tiniest bit of perspective on their disasters. were those other events really so far away that the hundreds of thousands of casualties there can be considered in the same breath as the hundreds of casualties here?

on a less self-righteous note, it's interesting to look at pictures of the new orleans flooding and to think back to the 1997 floods in grand forks -- another highly inappropriate comparison. nevertheless, though, a visually compelling one. the extent to which all pictures from all floods in all first-world places are virtually interchangeable is pretty amazing, really. there's the obligatory picture of the street sign poking its head above water. the from-the-air of the inundated neighborhood. the roofs of cars meandering down canal-like streets. the roof rescue.