Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

Pray for 日本

You know it is kind of expected when one builds a civilization right on the ring of fire. It is what happens when you mix plate fault line and volcanoes - earthquakes are not an if, it a when. Does not diminish the human tragedy every time it happens. Last week Japan experienced yet another earthquake, one of the many in its long and infamous history. I was kind of taken back when I was ready to call it a night, checking CNN, and saw the news. 8.9 on the Richter scale? That is absolutely insane. And remember the it scales up exponentially, so it is hard to fathom that the earthquake that just rocked Japan was some 100 times bigger than the one that rocked Haiti last year. 

I should say Japan is lucky that it is one of the most developed nation in the world (though like the US, absolutely mired in debt) and thus have the infrastructure and building codes to sustain earthquakes. Not to mention they already know what they are dealing with, and the long line of history (like the Kobe earthquake). And for the most part the buildings built to code withstood the quake, and that alone saved countless lives right there. Imagine the absolute destruction had an earthquake of this size stuck a third world country instead - I think we would be talking about the death of a country. 

There are numerous benefits to starting a civilization surrounded by water - in fact I would wander to say proximity to water is almost prerequisite for any civilization to start. Unfortunately this fact did not help Japan much when the earthquake struck because when earthquake happens in the ocean, tsunami happens. We have all witness the video and they are not at all appealing to watch. It is a sad really - Japan built buildings up to code for earthquakes like this, and yet who could have thought mere hours later a giant wall of water will come tumbling into town.

For sure it is a tragedy, for sure a person dying due to natural disaster is one too many. But we have to look at the positive in that it could have been much much worse. Be thankful that the country is developed and prepared, and that the earthquake happened 230 miles outside of the capital city (though if you are not a fan of tsunamis, perhaps not). Preparation for impending disasters that you know will someday happen is paramount in going through them with the least amount of damage as possible.

Of course it is nice to see the outpouring of donations and support in such trying times. Developed country or otherwise, people are suffering and they need all the help and generosity they can get. This is humanity, and it is nice to see it alive and well, albeit the circumstances.

What I am shamed to see is people saying Japan had it coming and they deserve it (!?). For attacking America at Pearl Harbor and enslaving pretty much all of Asia. A big what the fuck to that because all that stuff was over 70 years, and many generations ago. I cannot fathom how someone would have the mind and thought process to say Japan deserved the earthquake. The people that are suffering right now (or DEAD) probably have little to no ties to the Imperial Japan and the atrocities of World War II. And to think I live in the same country as some of these people is absolutely disgusting. I know we like to romanticize World War II (hell, Band of Brothers is my favorite mini series), but damnit people need to stop correlating it to the present. By and large the war crimes of Japan is settled and done with back then. With the criminal courts, and oh yeah those two atomic bombs.

Natural disaster is not something you would wish upon even your worst enemy, because the colateral damage is just not worth the price. 

Anyways, we who live in this wonderful city of San Francisco should be mindful that we ourselves live right on a fault line, and also have a history of earthquakes. And of course, the next big one is a just a matter of when. And just like Japan, we are surrounded by water and very much susceptible to the powers of a tsunami. Hate to say it, but what happened to Japan last week can easily and will probably happen to us sometime in the future. Again, preparation is key.

So I hope San Francisco building codes are such that it is seismically sound, and that the powers at be had learned from the 1991 quake and made adjustments accordingly. Though the tsunami is still a conundrum. Do you see a natural barrier before Ocean beach? I did not think so. San Francisco is known for its hills, but hills have sort of a habit of sprouting up inland (damn the laws of land formation), so won't do much good to block off a large body of fast moving water (though I do physically live in a valley.. hmm). I am not saying start building dams and levies, but those that live close to the western waters better have a good evacuation plan.

Ever since we are in grade school we have been taught to be prepared for an earthquake, have a kit ready, and know what and where you are suppose to do and go. But who honestly follows though? I certainly am not prepared (was kind banking on the fact that my building is only 10 years old). Are you ready to loose all the irreplaceable things due to an earthquake? Do you even have insurance? But what am I saying, this is America - we don't do shit until shit hits the fan. Preparation is for other parts of the planet. 

Then let Japan be a warning to San Franciscans that preparing is not a choice, but a necessity. All the humanitarian aid in the world will not replace the lost memories, documents, and help you fight insurance companies for reimbursement. Keep important things safe, backup the hell out of anything and everything that can be backed up (all hail the digital age), and keep a emergency kit ready. DO IT NOW. I repeat, SF lies on a fault, has a history of earthquakes, and is surrounded by water.

Or I can just move, but why? I love this place.