« Acknowledgement of my own limitations | Main | The thing is, the word 'testicles?' Comedy gold. I don't know why. »

On Unity in Disaster.

The planet has been shifted in its orbit. About an inch, or so they say. We're moving about three millionths of a second a day faster now too. That's how much power was unleashed by the Earthquakes that spawned the tsunamis that have cost over 80,000 people (as of today) their lives, and countless hundreds of thousands their way of life.

Extra, Access Hollywood and several other shows of monumental excess and celebrity worship have been throwing Petra Nemcova's mostly nude body up on television (file footage, of course, not pictures of the terrified, traumatized girl), advertising their shows by promising updates on the condition of the "Tsunami Supermodel" and the search for her missing boyfriend. I feel something in my soul boil up when I see that. I mean, eighty thousand people are known to have died. That's like a meteor destroying four cities the size of Ithaca, New York at once. I don't care how good the girl looked on a beach in a bathing suit. Not compared to this level of horror.

I know there's been some backlash against people writing about this horrible scene. People don't want to think about it. It's too big. It's too horrific. And there isn't even anyone to blame. When there's an attack and thousands die, it galvanizes a response -- we have to beat those bastards back.

But there's no one to blame here. Unless you're religious, I suppose. And I can imagine any number of deities and devils or interpretation of deities and devils have been blamed in the last 96 hours. But for the most part, this is just something that happened one day.

I don't know if there's any tectonic activity in the Atlantic, but it's crossed my mind recently. What would happen if an Earthquake like that generated a tsunami like that off the American coast, I mean. What that would do to Boston, to Portsmouth, to New York City. Manhattan is a fucking Island. Boston is exposed to the ocean.

And there's Portland. And Freeport. Bar Harbor. Lincolnville. Camden. Rockland. Rockport. Searsport. So many places that are a part of my life, part of my past, part of Maine. All along a hungry sea.

These things just happen, sometime.

It's not going to happen, of course. These are astronomically rare events. But there are other disasters out there. Other horrors, that no one causes... that just happen one day. And in the face of those horrors, it falls upon the rest of us to close the gaps and help out. Help others the way we pray we'll be helped if it happens to us.

I'm reprinting something Randy Milholland posted on his website. Aeire reprinted this message in the Queen of Wands Livejournal as well. D.J. Coffman posted a similar message on the Yirmumah forums. I'm reprinting it because I don't think I could say it any better than Milholland did, and I think he'll forgive me:

As many of you know by now, over 22,000 60,000 80,000 people are dead now in Asia after an earthquake, and resulting tsunami, devastated lives in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Maldvives - among other places. Hundreds of thousands of people are now homeless as a result and need help. Organizations like Unicef, Direct Relief International, World Vision, and American Red Cross are beginning humanitarian efforts in these areas, but need your help.

Both Unicef and World Vision take monetary donations which allow them to meet the food, medical and shelter needs of those affected. Direct Relief International takes monetary and product donations. The American Red Cross is currently only accepting financial donations, but you can donate online or by call 1-800-HELP-NOW.

If you don't have the money to contribute, it's okay. Honestly. If you do, I hope you do. I have, because it's important to me.

Most of all... this is a time to be reminded that the world is much, much larger than we are, and there are times we have to come together as a race and help out.


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Apparently, the big worry for the Atlantic is the island of La Palma. The western half of the island is basically being held up just by friction, and eventually all 500 billion tons of it will fall into the sea, possibly causing a megatsunami.

Then again, perhaps not.

On a brighter note... one of the CRfH Boardies is organizing a donation drive. Seems her workplace is going to match what she gets... here's the URL on their efforts (and it's coming along nicely, but the more, the better): http://forums.keenspot.com/viewtopic.php?t=72160

Robert A. Howard

Natural harbors along the east coast would theoretically act to gather and funnel the megatsunami into locally greater and more powerful concentrations; some models have shown Boston, New York, and much of Newfoundland simply disappearing from the impact of the water. The wave may be high enough to traverse Florida as though it were a slightly larger-than-average sand bar, and cause damage to the far shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Some estimates have Miami under thirty feet of water for the better part of a day. On the other side of the Atlantic, it's a good thing that the Sahara is sparsely populated, because the waves would obliterate anything there, and much of the coastal plain of northwest Africa would wind up in the Gulf of Guinea somewhere.

Some estimates of the death toll from such an event in the very near future are on par with the cold war "limited nuclear exchange" scenarios in Thinking About the Unthinkable. We're talking about the equivalent of the entire populations of Mexico or Japan.

Ben G got to it fist, but here's some more info on La Palma


I've seen a number of people online wondering why there's not as much response to this in the US as there was to 9/11. Aside from the usual culprits of "it's not us" and "it lacks a single symbol", I think a big part of it is that we have no one to get angry at.

Get angry at nature or God, depending on what you believe in? Kinda pointless, stupid, and unsatisfying.

Get angry at governments for not having better warning systems? Well, a little, but even the best available would have still led to millions homeless, even if the actual immediate death toll was lower. And, besides, it feels kinda like blaming the victims for their own misfortune.

We can't really get worked up in anger, so a lot of people just shrug and move on. Compassion will always get you some people, but anger will get you more, and get them to DO more, SAY more.

It is sad that the United Nations has chided the U.S. for not immediately declaring hundreds of millions of dollars to aid for Sri Lanka and other areas devastated by the tsunami... especially when you then look at the second largest socio/economic force in the world, the European Commonwealth, has donated a fourth as much money as the U.S. said they would *initially* donate.

The truth is, the U.S. government realizes that the best way to go about helping people is to allow its CITIZENS to privately go about and do this. What is better, to go donate a hundred million dollars and raise taxes to pay for it... or donate a smaller amount initially, see how much people donate to charity to assist, and then pick up the slack that is left over? Well, obviously the U.N. feels that taxation is the route to go, and that the U.S., being the "richest" of the nations, should pay most of it. *rolls eyes*

I am also willing to bet that should a worse case scenario happen and a mega-tsunami strike the Eastern Seaboard and wipe out a large portion of the U.S. economic base and tens of millions of Americans died... that the U.N. would say a few words of regret, and donate nothing to help the U.S. out... and probably yell at the U.S. for not donating money to help OTHER nations which were also hit by the tsunami.

That little snark aside, even if there had been an early detection system that had warned of tsunami activity... how much of Sri Lanka could have been warned in time? Even with sufficient warning... how many people would have crowded the streets of the cities and towns, trying to evacuate, and then be caught by the wave surge after the fact?

The sad truth of the matter is... these things happen. Gaia is alive... and we live on a thin shell that encases molten rock that shifts and cracks and is even affected by the Moon's orbit.

What truly matters is how people react to this. And reading about the charity efforts across the nation, of groups working to help the Red Cross with donations of money and time... this shows much more than 9/11 how decent people can be at times.

Robert A. Howard

Normally, I don't ask to rein in opinion (just so long as personal attacks are kept out) in the commentary on posts. However, for this post I'd ask that political commentary on any side be curtailed, as I'd prefer this post remain what it is -- an expression of pain and horror over a natural disaster, and a call for those who can to give to organizations that can help.

My apologies. I'll try to keep my tangents from going that way in future posts on this. *apologetic wince*

The magnitude of this thing is tremendous, and boggles my mind. I'm not talking about the huge body count, although the idea of that many people being washed away is hard enough to fathom. I'm talking about the individual things: as always happens when disasters (even man-made ones, like 9/11) occur, I find my mind going to the survivors.

I can't help but feel for the ones left behind - the child who has lost everyone not only in their extended family, but likely nearly every person they've ever known. I find myself trying to imagine what that would feel like, and frankly, I can't. I don't know how people survive things like that, and have nothing but admiration for those who manage to find joy and stability again after such a thing. My sympathies do go out to them.

Okay, okay, long-winded babble aside, I wanted to point out that JB at www.catharsiscomic.com has posted that she's donating her entire January donation pool to the relief effort. That's a fairly big deal, since I think she uses her donations to help pay for things like a house payment.

Yay for JB and the other webcomic artists who have gigantic hearts and the wherewithal to help others out! Heck, I think it's just great that so many are putting the word out to their readers of ways to help out. Many times, people want to help, but aren't sure how.

I don't have any biscuits.. but perhaps they'll take a homemade chocolate chip walnut cookie instead. Or maybe some double-chocolate fudge with walnuts and pecans.

here's something, as well: canada has agreed to match donations made through canadian organizations.

ithaca, new york? i live near there. frightening thought.
i'm annoyed with the newsmedia around here. the tsunami has taken a backseat because coach pasquiloni got fired, so someone else'll be coaching the SU orange, it seems. they go on for the first ten minutes of a 30-minute broadcast about that.
or maybe i'm glad they're not sensationalizing this.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)