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Blog from Iraq

BoingBoing mentioned this blog, written by an Iraqi woman in Baghdad. Very interesting reading. Here's an excerpt from this full entry:

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !

In other news, one of the drives in the fileserver in our lab died. It just so happens, it was the one with users' home directory. Bleah. It's only about 1.5 years old. Guess what I'll be doing for my Labor Day weekend.


Well, by now, almost everyone knows about the blackout. It was rather interesting... I thought it was just local, at first. Anyhow, Mary came over with food and booze, and we called together an impromptu party to cook food that would have spoiled, and drink wine that would have done the same. We had quite a crowd: all of us in the house, Mary, Mandi, Soraya, Eric, Becky, and Dana. I made some chickpea dish, Eli made rice and some lentils, some burgers were grilled, etc etc. Quite fun. We sat outside at the picnic table.

Anyway, the NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) published satellite pictures of the affected areas before and during the blackout.