**Addendum** I'm presently finishing watching a semi-dorkumentary on the National Geographic Channel called "The Great Quake". It's essentially a reenactment of the 1906 earthquake, interspersed with snippets from geologists, authors, fire chiefs, blah blah blah. And of course everyone keeps saying "It will happen again, for sure, we are so complacent, no one understands the magnitude, yadda yadda yadda."
Okay. For one. YES. We KNOW it will happen again. If this is one of the greatest concentrations of intellectual success on the continent, if not the planet, I think we all realize it will happen again. Fine.
But for two: what exactly is anyone proposing we DO about it? The only solid evidence I saw was an earthquake research drill being set up on the San Andreas Fault to at least attempt some level of analysis and prediction. Great. That makes sense. That's SCIENCE. But all the other people (the authors and fire chiefs) were doing was plain and simple, whingy hand wringing. "Oh it's going to be so bad, oh the destruction, oh the humanity, won't somebody please think of the children...". I don't mean to trivialize the assured reality of a large scale earthquake in the Bay Area, I'm not that ignorant. What I am irritated with is this disaster masturbation fantasy; to listen to these "experts" (yeah, sarcasm intended), you'd think the only solution would be to completely and totally evacuate the entire Bay Area, seal off the boundaries, and let the area settle into oblivion.
Well. That's a nice idea. And eminently sensible, of course. I know I'm ranting but I HATE shit like this. It keeps talking about 'reality' when in all truth, it's totally ignoring reality. Right now we live on good old solid bedrock in the hills of Redwood City. During Loma Prieta in 1989, apparently the cupboards flew open and the first owners lost a handful of dishes. We're geographically closer to the epicenter than San Francisco. However, we are also seriously considering a move to San Francisco, for a variety of reasons, but not ONE of them is a death wish. The reality is that we have earthquakes all the time here. I've felt probably 4 or 5 small ones myself in the nearly nine years I've lived in California. But I'd rather trade the potential risk of "the big one" in...5 years? 10 years? 35? 50? No one can tell me?...for the benefits of living in a city with a great deal to offer. In truth, I'd rather run this risk than KNOW that every year was going to bring at least one crappy hurricane or tornado or ice storm. We had a city-crippling blizzard in Toronto when I was in 10th grade. It was Christmas exams time. My 9 am exam was shifted to 3 pm, we wore our coats and just wrote the damn thing. The subways still worked, and our legs in boots still worked, so we wrote our exams. Human beings are pretty resilient.
I declare a pox on sensationalist tv marketing itself as...semi-scientific.
This morning at 5:12 a.m., one hundred years ago, San Francisco experienced "The Great Quake". While up in the city this past weekend, we saw any number of vintage firetrucks zooming around as part of the centennial...celebration feels like the wrong word. Observation? At any rate, it was quite interesting to see.
Another thing that is quite nifty is that there are still survivors of the earthquake alive and it would seem, for the most part, well. No idea if it's living in the Western Babylon, but these are some pretty spunky looking 100+ year olds. It did make me think though, how fleeting history really is. In a matter of years--maybe--there won't be any more eyewitnesses. Even if the 100 and 101 year olds last a few years longer, they were infants at the time and can't be expected to have any detailed memories. I'm glad to see that much is being made of the event, and, I would presume, the reports from these last few eyewitnesses.
Of course everyone knows we are "due" for another big one, but I wish there weren't so many Chicken Littles running around making it sound like we're going to all go the way of the dodo bird because of it. Sure, earthquakes SUCK and they are SCARY. But...don't you think we're going to be in better shape than in 1906? If seismologists, geologists, and engineers didn't learn anything in 100 years, maybe we deserve to slide into the ocean.
And think on this...I'll bet you any amount of money on April 19, 1906, people were wringing their hands coast to coast bewailing the utter and irreparable loss of a city. Except...not. I still see an awful lot of people living and working and visiting the Bay Area. I think we're going to be okay.
But do go read some of the articles and eyewitness reports if you have a moment. The latter will be gone soon and it's important to remember.
by at April 18, 2006 11:06 AM