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Boston's Cocoanut Grove Fire

70 years ago today, 492 people perished in a fire at Boston's popular Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The Cocoanut Grove Coalition offers documents, images, videos, and artifacts of the fire and its aftermath. This fascinating 1995 WGBH clip interviews a variety of survivors, offering a window on the era as well as the fire. Other documents of note: The Boston Library's Flickr photo set and the Library's recently released witness statements and final report. Also noteworthy: Buck Jones and the Cocoanut Grove controversy. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Nov 28, 2012 - 25 comments

 

Then in 1908, it burned down a third time

Tragedies and disasters of the Crowsnest Pass (part 1, part 2).
posted by Chrysostom on Nov 15, 2012 - 11 comments

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...and it might be a good idea to get used to it

"From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 12 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages". The US National Weather service has put together a great online exhibit of what was a whirlwind (*ahem*) year for extreme weather events. The exhibit has lots of videos and photographs of these events, such as satellite imagery of the Grounhog Day Blizzard from back in February and a picture of a car damaged by a tornado in Ft. Benning, GA.
posted by MattMangels on Dec 29, 2011 - 20 comments

In The Playroom

Canadian photographer Jonathan Hobin's In the Playroom series depicts children reenacting infamous tragedies, such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Princess Diana's death, and the Jonestown massacre. [more inside]
posted by changeling on May 9, 2011 - 61 comments

Bad Photoshop work + movie posters = crazy delicious!

Two of Metafilter's favourite topics, dismal Photoshop work and movie posters collide in Empire Online's Ultimate Collection Of Badly Photoshopped Movie Posters. This collection of 37 (Why 37? Why not?) generally second-tier movies from the past decade and a bit -- listed semi-alphabetically for your convenience -- is a buffet of bad lighting, terrible crop work and grim airbrushing. So, enjoy! As a bonus, each poster has a follow-up link or two showing attempted later fixes: some passably salvaged, some even more dreadful, and more than a few WTF. [more inside]
posted by ricochet biscuit on Oct 4, 2010 - 53 comments

On the frontlines in Haiti

"Surgically, things have gotten so much better in the last 24 hours." Direct view into the daily challenges on the frontlines of the medical situation in Haiti, via the Hershey Medical Center Team and Operation Smile. Written by the surgeons on the ground. [more inside]
posted by spicynuts on Feb 1, 2010 - 4 comments

Events That Touched Our Ancestors' Lives

GenDisasters is a genealogy site, compiling information on the historic disasters, events, and tragic accidents of Canada and the U.S. that our ancestors endured, as well as, information about their life and death. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 9, 2008 - 12 comments

Death: 20 tears ahead and 30 years back

How you will (and won't) likely die in the next 20 years (from WHO's Global Burden of Disease). Bonus: map of the last thirty years of disasters, showing the relatively safe and unsafe parts of the world.
posted by Kickstart70 on Nov 29, 2008 - 5 comments

The Year of Flops

On Tuesday, A.V. Club critic Nathan Rabin's reassessment of the rabidly ambitious Perfume: The Story of a Murderer marked the culmination of his Year of Flops project, a reviewing marathon of 104 commercial and critical failures. Here's the index of the films, sorted into Elizabethtown-derived categories of good but luckless movies, ordinary losers, and disasters of mythic proportions. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jan 24, 2008 - 38 comments

Van Halen Off Key

The worst sounding thing ever? Van Halen, on a show of their reunion tour in North Carolina, attempting to match up their pre-recorded background synths for "Jump" with their live instruments & vocals. The pre-recorded material is accidentally being played back at a higher pitch, approximately 1.5 semitones sharp of the key from the guitar/vocals.
posted by jonson on Oct 22, 2007 - 148 comments

Shock Doctrine

"When I finished The Shock Doctrine, I sent it to Alfonso Cuarón because I adore his films and felt that the future he created for Children of Men was very close to the present I was seeing in disaster zones. I was hoping he would send me a quote for the book jacket and instead he pulled together this amazing team of artists -- including Jonás Cuarón who directed and edited -- to make The Shock Doctrine short film [embedded YouTube]. It was one of those blessed projects where everything felt fated." - Naomi Klein (previously)
posted by mkultra on Sep 8, 2007 - 43 comments

Paranoiac Party Time!

Slate's ongoing "Survivalist" series lays out the steps that you can take to prepare for the disasters threatening to snuff out civilization in general (and, apparently, New York City in particular). Find out how to survive nuclear terrorism, an earthquake, a skyscraper collapse, an electronic apocalypse, and global warming.
posted by Iridic on Sep 10, 2006 - 21 comments

"Remain Calm"

New Yorkers Are Prepared for the Apocalypse. Or are we? A fascinating article from New York Magazine that looks at what New York City's government, hospitals and other assistance centers have done to prepare for disasters, what we've spent too much attention and money on (terrorism) and too little (possible epidemics).
Sidebars: When Bad Things Happen: "A short guide to nine big things to worry about—and what you can do about them.", How are New Yorkers coping with the fear du jour: Avian Flu? and The Geography of Disaster: A map of hurricane and earthquake evacuation centers, as well as major trauma centers (hospitals) and fault lines. Shows evacuation routes and zones in case of a variety of disasters, including at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.
posted by zarq on Nov 16, 2005 - 8 comments

Chicago Heat Wave 1995

In the summer of 1995 there was a week-long heat wave in Chicago. Over 700 people died. Most of them were the elderly, poor, and African-Americans. Link above is a Slate article by Eric Klinberg who wrote the definitive Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (2003) in which he concludes that "a city, in its decision to operate like a corporation, experienced the breakdown of massive social services" and the resulting "widening cracks in the social foundations of America's cities".
posted by stbalbach on Sep 9, 2005 - 20 comments

Vote Blue? No help for you!

The Red Cross has been ordered to stay out of New Orleans. Critical firefighting equipment is being left untouched. Chicago's offer of manpower and equipment is "snubbed" by FEMA, according to the Mayor. FEMA "forgets" to tell the military to airdrop food and water to the survivors. Northern Command has been ready for days, just waiting for the President to give the orders. Feds delayed paperwork giving permission for National Guard to act. Louisiana begged for federal help on Sunday in a formal request, but the Bush administration says they didn't know anything about problems until Wednesday. Meanwhile, reporters apparently grow weary of the spin doctors.
posted by dejah420 on Sep 3, 2005 - 186 comments

Calamaties transform more than landscape

More than 30 feet of water stood over land inhabited by nearly one million people. Almost 300,000 African Americans were forced to live in refugee camps for months. Many people, both black and white, left the land and never returned. "When Mother Nature rages, the physical results are never subtle. Because we cannot contain the weather, we can only react by tabulating the damage in dollar amounts, estimating the number of people left homeless, and laying the plans for rebuilding. But . . . some calamities transform much more than the landscape." No, not Katrina. The Great Mississippi flood of 1927. Author John M. Barry in his definitive work on the subject, "shows how a heretofore anti-socialist America was forced by unprecedented circumstance to embrace an enormous, Washington-based big-government solution to the greatest natural catastrophe in our history, preparing the way (psychologically and otherwise) for the New Deal." The author is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research of Tulane and Xavier universities (whose web site is *understandably* not answering right now). <Heading for the library to find this book>
posted by spock on Aug 30, 2005 - 12 comments

A Sticky Wicket

The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 in which 21 people died. (A picture of the devastation.) Another account from The Smithsonian. A present day picture of the site (scroll to the bottom). Brief accounts of two other molasses floods. And while we're at it, don't forget the London Beer Flood. Cheers.
posted by OmieWise on Jul 15, 2005 - 49 comments

...shock therapy on countries in various states of shock for at least three decades...

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism --...Although hotels and industry have already started reconstructing on the coast, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India, governments have passed laws preventing families from rebuilding their oceanfront homes. Hundreds of thousands of people are being forcibly relocated inland, to military style barracks in Aceh and prefab concrete boxes in Thailand. The coast is not being rebuilt as it was--dotted with fishing villages and beaches strewn with handmade nets. Instead, governments, corporations and foreign donors are teaming up to rebuild it as they would like it to be: the beaches as playgrounds for tourists, the oceans as watery mines for corporate fishing fleets, both serviced by privatized airports and highways built on borrowed money....
Naomi Klein on "reconstruction" money after natural disasters--and who benefits. (Makes Wolfowitz seem like a less unlikely choice to head the World Bank after reading, too.)
posted by amberglow on Apr 17, 2005 - 36 comments

The Halifax Explosion

1917: The largest man-made non-nuclear explosion in history and yet (outside of Canada) a largely unknown disaster - The Halifax Explosion. [more inside]
posted by spock on Mar 21, 2005 - 43 comments

"On March 18 [1937] students prepared for the next day's Inter-scholastic Meet in Henderson. At the gymnasium, the PTA met. At 3:05 P.M. Lemmie R. Butler, instructor of manual training, turned on a sanding machine in an area which, unknown to him, was filled with a mixture of gas and air. The switch ignited the mixture and carried the flame into a nearly closed space beneath the building, 253 feet long and fifty-six feet wide. Immediately the building seemed to lift in the air and then smashed to the ground. Walls collapsed. The roof fell in and buried its victims in a mass of brick, steel, and concrete debris. The explosion was heard four miles away, and it hurled a two-ton concrete slab 200 feet away, where it crushed a 1936 Chevrolet. Of the 500 students and forty teachers in the building, approximately 298 died. Some rescuers, students, and teachers needed psychiatric attention, and only about 130 students escaped serious injury. -- From the Handbook of Texas Online. (Other accounts, personal recollections, and photos .)

It was one of the worst disasters in Texas history. With Texans' love of superlatives, why is this a story no one tells? [more...]
posted by mudpuppie on Mar 18, 2005 - 35 comments

watching the storm

Hurricane Charley bearing down on the Southwest Florida coast right now. Maybe you'll find the next Dan Rather on WBBH or WTSP., with live streaming video. myweatherguide.com is blogging the hurricane, as are the Weatherbug people. And official information from the National Weather Service here.
posted by calwatch on Aug 13, 2004 - 35 comments

10.5

10.5 If you're like me, you probably just finished watching 10.5, and are still giggling at the "disastrous" screenplay and campy drama. Well, the science is in: Magnitude 10.5 is impossible, brick buildings would collapse long before the Space Needle, fault lines don't follow train tracks, California will not slide into the sea, bottomless pits do not swallow up unfortunate red-shirted extras, and for crying out loud, Lex, don't use nuclear warheads either to blow the tectonic plates apart or weld them shut.
posted by brownpau on May 3, 2004 - 28 comments

California Doesn't Even Have To Fall Into The Ocean To Get In Trouble

California's Tsunami Risk. " In the open ocean, tsunami waves travel at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour... As the waves enter shallow water, they may rise rapidly. Typical peak wave heights from large tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean over the last 80 years have been between 21 and 45 feet at the shoreline... If a large earthquake displaces the sea floor near the coast, the first waves may reach the shore minutes after the ground stops shaking. There is no time for authorities to issue a warning." 40 years ago this weekend the Alaskan Prince William Sound earthquake and its ensuing tsunami killed over 120 people -- 12 as far South as California. Nothing compared to the thousands hit in the 1998 Papua New Guinea tsunami disaster, but still it's worth keeping an eye on California's tsunami risks. Or the entire West Coast's activity.
posted by namespan on Mar 28, 2004 - 20 comments

Iran considers moving capital away from Tehran

Iran considers moving capital away from Tehran. Tehran lies on a major seismological fault and experts have long warned that a strong earthquake in the city would be devastating. A professor of geophysics at Tehran university, has warned that if a quake of similar magnitude hit Tehran it would kill more than 700,000 people. Government buildings would be destroyed.
posted by hoder on Jan 5, 2004 - 14 comments

Nuking hurricanes

Hurricanes really suck. Luckily our friends at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association have posted a FAQ to answer our questions. No matter how moronic the questions are.
posted by patrickje on Sep 18, 2003 - 15 comments

Buildings of Disaster

"Buildings of Disaster are miniature replicas of famous structures where some tragic or terrible events happened to take place. The images of burning or exploded buildings make a different, populist history of architecture, one based on emotional involvement rather than scholarly appreciation."
posted by MrMoonPie on Aug 11, 2003 - 27 comments

Tricolor Salvage

The Tricolor, a 50,000-ton cargo vessel carrying 3000 automobiles worth more than $40 million, is being raised. Cost to raise the Tricolor: $40 million. It sunk, then was hit three times, once by the Nicola, then by the Vicky (an oil tanker which spilled some, and killed marine life), then by a salvage tug. Good summary of the collisions in Dutch and English, with photos (similarly in French). Official press briefings offer good outline of all stages since the beginning. The automobile manufacturers tried to prevent pictures being taken of the destroyed automobiles, but there they are and even more and better. The official Tricolor salvage site offers a PDF file on how the salvage is being done: in part, with a huge cutting wire.
posted by Mo Nickels on Aug 8, 2003 - 20 comments

Paging Chicken Little...

We're all gonna die! But how? Wired breaks down the likelihood of ten (and a half) options.
posted by Ufez Jones on Jun 25, 2003 - 18 comments

The Death of a Dirigible -

The Death of a Dirigible - "The airship Shenandoah, nose to her high mooring mast, was floating gracefully with the variable breezes. Her twenty gas bags were about 91% full; her tanks loaded with 9,075 pounds of water and 16, 620 pounds of gasoline..." I was fascinated by this account of the disaster that befell the Navy airship 'Shenandoah', marking the beginning of the end of the era of rigid bodied airships. [ Via a comment on /. ]
posted by GriffX on Aug 6, 2002 - 14 comments

Three Dead From Southern Maryland Tornado.

Three Dead From Southern Maryland Tornado. This is the kind of news story you skip because it doesn't happen in your state. It didn't even register to me until I realized that one of my daily reads - Moire - lives in La Plata. The twister went through her front yard. Her account of the storm and its aftermath is pretty powerful. Were any other bloggers involved? (It's my first post; be gentle.)
posted by web-goddess on Apr 29, 2002 - 16 comments

How to survive extreme natural events.

How to survive extreme natural events. International project promoting understanding disasters from the "roots" up, and preventing disasters from the "bottom up" as well as the "top down". Whatever you think of his politics, this project should be encouraged.
posted by asok on Nov 21, 2001 - 5 comments

Egyptian plane crashes and U.S. says pilot a suicide

Egyptian plane crashes and U.S. says pilot a suicide Egypt denies suicide as cause of plane that crashed just off our coast. Any connection to WTC?
posted by Postroad on Sep 19, 2001 - 5 comments

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