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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Wall of Water

I have lived in Southeast Asia. The family stayed in Singapore, but I wandered the region, spending lots of time in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. I have been to Penang and Phuket, places now swamped by the tsunami. During my time in the area (1984-1987), I connected with lots of local people, but time and distance has disconnected us. Were some of my old friends smashed against the wall of water?

Nature always holds the trump card. Earthquakes and tsunamis, along with hurricanes and floods, represent larger risks than most human evils. It will take a long time for terrorists to top the death toll created by the seas crashing into the coasts of Southeast and South Asia.

There haven't been very many tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. Massive natural calamities have occurred in odd places before. There was a massive earthquake in the St. Louis area early in the 19th century, but I bet most St. Louisians don't worry about getting shaken to death. So is the earth is teeming with forces that could cause a fatal rupture in an unexpected location? And even with all of our learning and science, we could just get a big Game Over surprise? Is fatalism the only rational approach to life on this instable planet?

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