High Water, Rising

Watching the Mississippi River flood is… I can’t even say, really. It’s terrible and yet, once you know history is being made, that the water is going to be higher than ’37, higher even than infamous ’27, it’s hard not to get almost… I don’t know. Is there a word that means “giddy with horror?”

They’re going to blow the levee on the Missouri side of the river in order to attempt to save Cairo. They said on NPR this evening that the levee is already showing signs of sand boils, places on the “dry” side where the water has seeped up under the levee and is causing the soil to get all quick-sandy. Blowing the levee will probably not alleviate suffering very far south because of how high the Ohio is.

We have to watch for a few things along with the flooding–whether levees hold, whether river walls hold, whether the river gets a mind to jump its bed (that would have long-term bizarre consequences), and, then the part that is even more interesting in a morbid way, is whether the Old River Control Structure can hold.

Anyway, here’s a map showing the maximum flow the Corps believes the flood control system can hold. And here’s a site I found that tells you what the flow in the river at Memphis is right now. Past 2,410,000 at Memphis, I believe the Corps just throws up their hands and starts praying. Memphis is at 1,720,000 right now. That number is predicted to rise.

In Her Place

Jill over at Feministe has put up a great post about the bad dynamics at work in the feminist blogosphere. I have a lot of thoughts, because, if you’ve been around for any period of time, there are a lot of old sore spots.

But I’m not sure it’s really worth rehashing.

The feminist blogosphere has been tremendous for me, changed my life in a lot of awesome ways. But as much as I’ve been a part of it–I’ve guest blogged at Shakesville and Feministe, both–I have also felt outside of it, sometimes, that the things people even people who are supposed to be like me post about often don’t feel like they have anything to do with me and that the gap between my life and theirs is too big for me to feel comfortable trying to traverse it.

But I do think that there is a line between “Hey, you’re being a jerk!” and “Hee, I’m being a jerk” that is pretty clear in practice, even if it’s not clear in theory. And I do think it’s important to say “Hey, you’re being a jerk,” when people are being jerks. But I also think it’s important to recognize that the dynamic of putting a woman in her place, while a pretty damn gendered one, is one women are trained and encouraged to participate in.

It’s a temptation I think we are often all too quick to give in to–to put some women who is above her station back in her place. And that’s a lot of the dynamic I see playing out in the situations Jill’s talking about.

The internet brings us into conversation with people we otherwise would probably never know, people whose lives and situations and outlooks are much different than our own. If you’re commenting some place with any kind of substantial readership and you’re not concerned about miscommunicating or being misunderstood, I suspect you don’t understand the enormity of the situation. And, if you do understand the difficulties and you can’t give people ostensibly on your side the benefit of the doubt?

I don’t know. That troubles me.

I think Jill’s right that this is why so many feminist bloggers work to get book deals or writing gigs where the comments are less important to the form. What we do in the blogosphere, when it goes wrong, really sucks. And it always seems to go wrong.

Edited to add: I think what Amanda Marcotte has to say about this is just brilliant.

Bin Laden is Dead

I stayed up to watch the official word from the President. I didn’t feel jubilant at the news or horrified at the people who were jubilant at the news, which seemed to be the two main vibes on Twitter last night.

It’s a solemn occasion, I think. At least, that’s how I feel about it. I think it’s right that he’s dead and that he should have been dead a long time ago.

But I also can’t help but think of the people who died on that day, in those planes, climbing into the towers to save people, just going to work. Bin Laden could be dead a million times over and it wouldn’t bring those people back.

The tragedy of history is that you can’t go back. You cannot get back what has been taken from you.

And I do worry, upon watching the cheering, singing throngs, that this means for them things are resolved. And we still don’t have healthcare for first responders to 9/11. Our troops are still overseas. Families have still lost loved ones. We still became a nation that tortures people and that gave up enormous personal liberties in order to feel safe.

Things are far from resolved.

And in some ways, this may make us less safe, since it will give a fractured network of people who wish us ill something to rally around.

But it has been a long time since we have done something we said we were going to do that most people agreed needed to be done.

I guess that’s just what I mean. It is a solemn occasion.  The necessary thing has been done, but we cannot forget that it doesn’t make things unbroken. What’s done cannot be undone.

Let’s just please not forget that, even if we feel like “it” is over, whatever “it” is, for a lot of our fellow Americans, it is far from over and we owe it to them not just this kind of justice, but support, ongoing support.