When the Levee Breaks
The Corps' fault: Jim Schutze's July 5 article, "Go With Your Gut," holds the Corps of Engineers blameless for its faulty design of the levees that failed after Katrina. Mr. Schutze goes on to swear that had the Corps been left alone, there would have been no Katrina disaster.
While a federal (not state or local) judge upheld environmentalist challenges to the preferred engineering solution, the Corps still made major engineering errors in designing the failed levees. They failed to properly test or analyze soils resulting in flood walls whose pilings were not deep enough for their design load. Other levees were designed without proper fail-safe armoring to prevent them from collapsing after being overtopped. On top of that, the Corps certified that the levees would protect New Orleans from just such a storm as Katrina as part of FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate mapping.
If the Corps believed in the engineering option they were "forced" to select, there were many avenues for them to register their professional engineering concerns that would have had the effect of emptying New Orleans decades ago. Instead they chose not to stand behind their public safety-critical engineering recommendations in violation of the American Society of Civil Engineer's code of ethics.
Konrad C. King
Stop blaming New Orleanians: As a native New Orleanian struggling to rebuild after Katrina, it is very disheartening to read opinions like Jim Schutze's. People in New Orleans are as tired of this as anyone else in the country. However, it is simple-minded to blame what happened in New Orleans on New Orleanians. Mr. Schutze makes clear that the Corps of Engineers has no trouble expressing what it believes to people and politicians in Dallas about what should and should not be done. Instead of vaguely blaming people and politicians in New Orleans for complicity in the engineering short-cuts which led to the Katrina disaster, how about some dates and names of people who forced the Corps to build substandard levees in our area? I have read Rising Tide. Another story of "politics as usual." Compromise? The mother's milk of politics. The Corps of Engineers knows the political world they operate in. The Corps knows it has a responsibility to the people of New Orleans and the taxpayers of the United States of America to work within well-known engineering limits that will not endanger the lives of people. Which is why the Corps has admitted its own failure in our case. The levee system in New Orleans was not fit for cattle, something people in Texas ought to understand. Stop blaming people in New Orleans for the unbelievable failure we experienced at the hands of the Corps of Engineers. Engineers at the Corps have a professional and moral obligation to us all when it comes to a project's viability, or they should not participate. Do people like Jim Schutze really think the Corps of Engineers knowingly lets politicians and corrupt businessmen force them to participate in projects they know only court disaster?
Neil's folly: The most critical component in aeronautical engineering is the foil that provides the lift. Usually the foil is a fixed wing, but that is too large and cumbersome for a dual-purpose vehicle (air and land). To decrease the size of the foil, a designer must either lighten the load or increase the velocity of air underneath it. The gyroplane ("Blade Runner," by Matt Pulle, July 5) accomplishes this by spinning the foil, thereby increasing the velocity of air. Think of the non-powered propeller as a "slinging wing."
No foil is absolutely fail-safe; however, the fixed wing has been the designer's choice for the first 100 years of aeronautical history because of its relative stability in air currents. That's why the gyroplane will never be a product for the masses. No matter what you can do to make it safer, it is a fundamentally flawed concept since its variable position to currents is totally unpredictable. A better design would deal with removal and stowage of a larger and stable foil, i.e. a fixed wing. Why trade convenience for safety when it's a matter of dropping out of the sky?
God better step in and warn Larry Neil before he is ruined by lawsuits.
White Mavs Can't Jump
Stop the stereotypes: Thank gosh they took a white man ("White Elephants," by Richie Whitt, July 5). Sure, Nick Fazekas is slow, weak and worthless in NBA April, but he can make smart decisions. If they would have chosen a black man in that spot, sure, he could run and jump, and darn—look at the size of Big Baby Davis—but they would have to train him how to think. Black men are not smart enough to step into the role of Dirk. I mean, look at Davis—he can move. But did LSU make any moves in March under his leadership? Plus, you can pay Fazekas a pittance, and he won't whine, snivel, appeal or cause a commotion of any kind. He has the brains, leadership and outside shot to take the Mavs to the next level. Davis is merely a post-playing robot, incapable of free thinking. Once Davis reaches free agency, like all black athletes, he will carry on until he can occupy a seat on the bench of a championship-caliber team, making four times more money than he is worth.
Black men can jump, but Fazekas can think.
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