Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Now Pause and Reflect

When that earthquake hit the Ibaraki area the other night the only casualty in my household was a cracked bottle of some old, high-quality whiskey that my FIL gave me right after my wedding. At least only a few drops were lost.

But now on the TV, in the newspapers, and on the internet shocking images and even more shocking news continue to pour out of Sichuan Province in central China. A couple of days ago a massive earthquake ripped across a fault line of unprecedented size. Many thousands of lives lost. Many thousands more unaccounted for and likely buried beneath a wasteland of debris. Countless others homeless, many with serious injuries.

For the first time in what seems like ages there is no mention of the Olympics. No mention of protests. No mention of Tibet. No mention of Darfur. No mention of tainted product scandals. No politics or nationalism. All we see now are human beings who have suffered an unbelievable catastrophe through absolutely no fault of their own.

It's times like this that tend to make one feel totally helpless, not only because we're so absolutely unable to do anything to make things better, but because a disaster like this shows all too plainly how tiny and insignificant we really are.

(Image from

Was this really necessary?

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  • The cryptome site appears to be down at the moment...

    More images here

    Very sad. Hopefully the authorities are able to save more people.

    The cyclone in Myanmar similarly so as well.

    Aid is needed to both places and Mercy Corps is already doing work in both places.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 11:35 PM  

  • This is so sad, as a majority of the victims are children, since they were in school. As with Myanmar, if the authorities insist on decorum and "face" (i.e. not looking bad)...there will be heavy duty repercussions... folks won't stand for it any more.

    Also, since the last big earthquake, there were supposed to be better building codes...but they have been ignored (like other disasters I've seen/read about in Mexico, Italy and the Good Ol' USA [can anyone say KATRINA??!!)]...when the S**T hits the fan...somebody's goin' down...

    My guess?

    Myanmar-mass starvation, illness and civil unrest. (i.e. the civilians will be shot, if not die of the other disaster related problems)

    China-civil unrest and execution of some minor bureaucrats and construction bosses...(i.e. move along, nothing to see here...we've got the OLYMPICS coming here people!)

    By Blogger ladybug, at 5:24 AM  

  • awful... what else can you say.

    By Blogger Swinebread, at 10:42 AM  

  • The fact that so many schools collapsed like houses of cards, trapping all the children inside, is bound to raise some eyebrows (and voices), so you're probably right about some heads rolling.

    Right now one of the biggest sticking points has been acceptance of foreign aid. Myanmar can't seem to make up its mind, first saying it would allow U.S. military personnel into the country to assist and then suddenly reversing its position. In China's case, all foreign offers of assistance have been rebuffed. In fact, a Japanese earthquake-response disaster specialist team was in China as soon as they could load up the plane and get airborne...but were stopped at the airport and told to go home. The official excuse is that transportation to and within the affected area can't be guaranteed. However, the prevailing theory here is that China is still determined to save face in the run-up to the Olympics.

    I seriously wonder if either country has the resources to deal with the situation. Myanmar certainly doesn't. China might, but they're going to be pretty hard at it.

    Politics and sports, politics and disaster. *sigh*

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 11:34 AM  

  • *Awful & Shock*!
    Let's pray for them. {Amen}

    Hey, when did you read this news abt. ..a Japanese specialist team were stopped at there and told to go home...? According to the update news on today, the PRC agree with the JP specialists to give aid in the disaster area.

    Have you donate?

    By Anonymous Popcorn_Queen, at 4:26 PM  

  • Popcorn Queen
    I heard in the news yesterday that the Japanese rescue specialists were turned back at the airport. That report was in Japanese, American, and British news sources.

    I'm trying to confirm what you've just said, but I can't find anything. I found a report saying that more Chinese rescue workers were being brought in plus volunteers from Taiwan, but nothing about the Japanese teams being let in.

    In other news, Myanmar finally allowed a U.S. relief flight to land.

    I'm not sure how to go about donating right now. There is no easy facility for that.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:40 PM  

  • Okay, I found it. The news came from a Chinese news source just released today. Japan is now the only foreign country (i.e. Taiwan doesn't count as "foreign") from whom China has accepted assistance.

    I only hope it's not too late for them to be of any help.

    Thanks for the heads-up, Popcorn Queen!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 5:45 PM  

  • yes, we are tiny and significant... and that's exactly what it shows us.

    this is such a sad picture... brings such sadness to my heart.

    when it comes down to it, we are all just human beings... w/ the same wants, desires and needs.

    By Blogger Um Naief, at 9:53 PM  

  • Can everyone else reach I keep getting an Access Forbidden page when I try to go there. I tried following MM's link yesterday and today.

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 3:49 AM  

  • Ok, I was able to see it by going through a proxy server. I wonder why I am being blocked and where?

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 4:04 AM  

  • Don, your ISP may have blocked the site generally, usually done when the site contains suspicious add ons

    Some Russian scientists have speculated that the recent spat of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are a result of CERN THE LARGE HAYDRON COLLIDER creating an anti quark which went straight to the center of the earth. In case you are wondering, CERN is indeed up and running now, it is still in the cooldown phase but apparently they are all ready conducting experiments.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 7:55 AM  

  • Is CERN's nickname "wormwood"?

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 7:29 PM  

  • Small and insignificant.
    And fragile. So much of our visual entertainment make us appear invincible (i.e., fight scenes that go on forever).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:22 AM  

  • Got yer large hardon collider right here.

    By Anonymous Cyrano, at 8:15 AM  

  • Speaking of which, Dave, now that I'm in a bit more serious mood, where did you hear the news of those Russian scientists and their theory? Was it Pravda?

    Are you sure they said "anti-quark"? Because one anti-quark would get wiped out by contact with one ordinary quark, and there'd be a lot of those between CERN and the center of the Earth! Are you sure they didn't say, "miniature black hole," because I HAVE heard scientists speculate about that as a possible CERN side effect.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 12:57 AM  

  • Okay, for what it's worth, I found a link to that CERN story. A single Russian source says that physicists she knows connected to the CERN project said a stream of antiquarks was beamed through the center of the Earth on purpose as an experiment for a new, secret type of communication. Apparently the "anchor" for the antiquark beam, located in Chile, malfunctioned, causing the antiquarks to bombard the Earth's core totally out of control. It is suggested that that's the cause for the recent spate of volcanic and earthquake activity all over the world.

    I dunno...I think the most accurate statements on that website are probably all the little emoticon flags saying "B.S." in the comment thread. This is all a bit too National Enquirer (Pravda?) for me...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:25 PM  

  • I forgot to add: the Russians are blaming said CERN snafu for the recent incident of a Soyuz capsule landing waaayyyyyyy off its mark...claiming the antiquark thing destabilized the orbit of the Earth.

    Right. Couldn't possibly be pilot error...or faulty gear and procedure on the ground...

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 3:28 PM  

  • Good Grief.

    Apparently there is more to the story than I have heard.

    Good work.

    By Anonymous Dave, at 5:50 AM  

  • Previous comment either eaten by blogger, flushed by moody for crappy content or (most likely) not posted because I screwed up somehow.

    Anyway - sure makes our earthquake adventure look tame. Hope it stays that way.

    As for Myanmar - since the US no longer observes international law when it comes to bombing or torturing people, why not extend that to actually helping people? Fly over the affected area with transport planes and fighter cover and drop supplies to those people - rice, water, meds. To hell with the junta, which is holed up in the north of the country anyway.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:57 PM  

  • Pandabonium

    Naaah...that would make too much sense. That automatically excludes it from government policy.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 6:03 PM  

  • When it rains it pours - the typhoon in Burma, and the quake in's enough to make someone believe in those ideas about negative music of the spheres, or whatever.

    I can't believe that yesterday they were still able to rescue a survivor. Miracle.

    By Blogger Olivia, at 8:54 PM  

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