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March 11th, 2011

A day like today

Today made me very grateful my family is healthy and safe. In Japan the ground shook for well over two minutes, and when it was finished shaking, houses were on fire, buildings fell, and the ocean rose up and swallowed the land. Then it got really bad, because Japan has a lot of nuclear power plants for its size, and even though they're designed to withstand earthquakes, this quake was really, really bad. Honshu shifted eight feet! So now at least two nuclear plants are in a state of emergency.

The scale of the thing is so immense! Thousands of people are dead and hundreds of thousands— maybe millions— are homeless. Damage will be in the billions. The tsunami made it all the way to the California coast.

I have never felt an earthquake. We had a teeny tiny one here, but I slept through it. If you want to get a feel for what it must have felt like, watch this video, shot in a bare room in Tokyo, more than 200 miles from Sendai. When the room starts to shake (at about 2.00 minutes in) the noise is pretty terrifying because it's not coming from anything specific. It always seemed to me that an earthquake is the scariest kind of disaster, because if you can't trust the ground, what can you trust?

Okay, maybe what's happening in Libya is just as scary, in its own way. A dictator is killing his own people because he wants to stay in power. Libya is a very much a man-made disaster.


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