Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Morbid Districts and Deadly Cantons


Eric Umansky (via Bruce Schneier) makes the grim connection between Iraq's "surge" in cholera cases and the crackdown on chlorine bombs:

I'm sure nobody intended for the restrictions to be so burdensome that they'd effectively cut off Iraq's clean water supply. But that's what looks to have happened. What makes it all the more tragic is that chlorine--for all the hype and worry--is actually a very ineffective booster for bombs. Of the roughly dozen chlorine-laced bombings in Iraq, it appears the chlorine has killed exactly nobody.

In other words, the biggest damage from chlorine bombs--as with so many terrorist attacks--has come from overreaction to it. Fear operates as a "force multipier" for terrorists and in this case has helped them cut off Iraq's clean water. Pretty impressive feat for some bombs that turned out to be close to duds.
Perhaps because I'm so angry, the only thing I can think of is Henry Mayhew's 1849 vision of a pathological map of London:
[S]o well known are the localities of fever and disease, that London would almost admit of being mapped out pathologically, and divided into its morbid districts and deadly cantons. We might lay our fingers on the Ordnance map, and say here is the typhoid parish, and there the ward of cholera; for as truly as the West-end rejoices in the title of Belgravia, might the southern shores of the Thames be christened Pestilentia.
Perhaps a similar map could help Iraq along its road to partition.

(Illustration: "Mr. Grainger's Cholera Map of the Metropolis, 1849.")

1 comment:

MikeJ said...

So that's why it's impossible to this day to get a cab to Southwark.