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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, March 18, 2011

more march manglings, and an update.

Out of sheer boredom, and after a fellow blogger celebrated her 50,000th view in just under a year, and because I'm a stat freak, here's some totally meaningless numbers.

Early this year, I installed those groovy little cool/interesting/funny counters at the bottom of my posts. Thus far, My blog posts have recorded 15 interestings, 4 cools, and 2 funnys. TWO funnys?? WTF? I thought I was much funnier than that! Of course the fact that I got about 5 times as many interestings as I deserved somewhat balances it. Over this time period, I've collected 111 comments in around 70 posts. Considering that I only had 136 in the previous 240-odd posts since I started, not too shabby, you guys!

Also this year, I added a TAW facebook page. It has already garnered me another 2,742 viewings, with the highest (very surprisingly) belonging to the Feb. 3rd Eurohockey update. However, if comments were money, I'd be bankrupt. Oh, well, how many people do I need to tell me I have a screw loose?


News begins to slow down in the Japan disaster as we settle into the "trench warfare" stage of the proceedings. I was not surprised to hear that the ultimate solution of sealing the reactors in concrete has at last come up. Here's another report from Rikuzen Takata from the Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon:

When the tsunami warning buzzer rang out over this sleepy port on Japan’s northeast coast, people knew what to do because they’d practised for the moment all their lives. They calmly left their homes and made their way to the gathering places designated by the municipal government: City Hall; a community centre; the local gymnasium.

For hundreds of people, if not more, the shelters they were ordered into proved to be deathtraps. Rikuzen-Takata’s disaster plan had been designed to deal with the three- and four-metre waves the city had seen in 1960 after an earthquake in faraway Chile. No one had anticipated the 15-metre tsunami that crashed through the city on Friday following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake just offshore, one that flung boats, shipping cranes and people inland, drowning those who had done as they were told and gathered in the low-lying shelters.
Of the estimated 1,000 people huddling in the three buildings, the only survivors were 100 people who made their way to the top floor of City Hall. The rest were swept away by a tide so high and fierce that it blew out the walls and windows on all three floors of the neighbouring shopping centre.
“People just relied on the bureaucracy. They became too obedient,” said Tsuyoshi Kinno, head of the neighbourhood committee in one of the districts of Rikuzen-Takata closest to the Pacific coast. “The administration made a mistake.”
Mr. Kinno was wandering through the silent remains of the city Tuesday, poking at the ground with a stick as Rikuzen-Takata continued its gruesome search for the thousands still missing and presumed dead beneath the rubble. In his other hand, he held a mud-covered photograph of a wedding he’d attended. The bride and groom were both among the missing, he said.
One week after Japan earthquake and tsunami, official toll stands at 6,911 dead,10,316 missing. It will continue to rise. Japan hit by record 262 aftershocks of 5.0 or greater since the big quake a week ago.As the full scale of the damage caused to Japan’s east coast gets clearer, it’s becoming plain that this town of 24,000 was among the hardest hit.
Once a pretty port set between the Yokote mountains and the Pacific Coast, Rikuzen-Takata effectively no longer exists. The town centre has been reduced to a vast field of flipped cars, mud-covered furniture and broken concrete. Only a few windowless buildings remain upright in the town centre, jutting up like tombstones from the field of death and destruction around them.
The death toll was still climbing Monday as rescue workers picked through the rubble with sticks, discovering new bodies so fast that they ran out of body bags and started carrying corpses on blankets taken from destroyed homes. Local officials estimated that between 20 and 40 per cent of the city’s predisaster population is dead.
“I think everybody in Takata town [the part of the city closest to the water] is dead,” said Matsumi Konno, a 54-year-old woman who was scanning a missing persons message board set up in a hilltop middle school that has been converted into a refuge for those who escaped the wreckage below. She was furious that her friends and neighbours had been herded into shelters so close to the coastline.
Mr. Kinno, the neighbourhood committee head, agreed that many had died because of poor preparation. Although he was outside Rikuzen-Takata when he felt the initial earthquake, he turned around and drove back into town when he heard the tsunami alarm.
When the 73-year-old arrived downtown, he was appalled to see so many people huddled inside the tiny community centre. “It was unintelligent,” he said, so he asked everyone to follow him to higher ground.
It was too late. As Mr. Kinno led a group of 60 people outside, he saw the wall of water coming for them. “It was black, black water. It was as if Godzilla had come and was trying to eat the people,” he recalled with awe in his voice.
Forty of those who followed Mr. Kinno into the streets were swept away in the rush of black. The rest scrambled into City Hall and raced the water up the stairs to the top floor, those moving too slowly drowning on their way up the stairs, Mr. Kinno said.
The water poured right through Rikuzen-Takata, and rushed past the mountains, filling the rice-growing valleys in between. The devastation carried five kilometres up the road into tiny mountain villages from where the ocean previously hadn’t been visible.
“We didn’t think this was possible,” said 52-year-old Iwako Onodera as she picked her way through the soggy and smashed remains of her family’s two-storey home, which now had a disconnected stretch of railway track and a flipped white Toyota van in the backyard. Though Ms. Onodera and her children were away when the wave struck, her parents died when water flooded the entire ground floor of the house.
Her brother Kaoru built the family home 10 years ago, but as he and Ms. Onodera salvaged whatever they could from the house, he said he didn’t expect to be back. “I don’t think people will want to move back here.”

And that is the saddest part. The home where I grew up was sold and remodeled; when I got the opportunity to return, some time after, it looked much the same on the outside. Standing inside, I did not recognize it. I stood stunned for minutes trying to get a sense of bearings I would never find. That is a fraction of what the survivors in dozens of Japanese cities and villages are going through. I wonder, if the government could wave a magic wand and remove the debris, rebuild the levees, the buildings, and the homes, how many would say, "This is no longer my home" and walk away as Kaoru Onodera plans.

My son KC notes that this disaster has brought out the "fire and brimstone" in many preachers.
I don't agree with either the "this is a judgement" or the "this is a sign of the end times" crowd. But what I will say is this. Being ready for the 8.2 quake (as the reactors were) but not the 9.0 that hit; being ready the ten-foot wave from 1960 and not the 50-foot one that came; the levee that could withstand the cat 3 hurricane and not the monster that was Katrina. New Orleans, Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, Christchurch, and now Sendai have shown us two things. Number one: safety measures on the cheap dictated by actuarial tables and short-term past history are no help when the planet itself is somehow becoming more violent. Number two: God's creation can break anything we build. If we follow the scientific data that protects us from the most disaster most economically, they fail and people die. If we build the safety measure to protect against a 10.0 earthquake and 100-foot tsunami, somehow we'll get hit with a meteorite which dwarfs our daydreams of destruction. The news media seems to think every disaster shows where we weren't prepared enough, we should have done more. At a certain point, we've got to just do the best we can and live with the consequences.

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