Posts from December 28, 2004

Tsunami notes

Tsunami notes

: Among the casualties: 1,700 people on one train, qualifying this as the worst rail disaster ever amidst what may become the worst natural disaster ever.

: On NPR tonight, I heard a satellite expert say that most people would have been safe if only they’d walked one mile inland or gotten to higher ground (on videos, we’ve seen people on higher floors safe). There is no formal warning system but once the earthquake hit and once the nearby islands were hit, it’s hard to believe that media could not have been alerted. Radio DJs panicking the way American weathermen panic at one inch of snow could have saved countless lives.

: See the first before-and-after satellite images.

: The BBC has started one of its logs of quick reports from correspondents around the globe.

: Among the victims are those tied to the famous. Sir Richard Attenborough lost three family members, including his granddaughter. An Australian rugby star and his bride were lost on their honeymoon. A model lost her boyfriend (in a story painfully overplayed in the New York Daily News).

: The Times of India lists entire tribes that may have been made extinct by the wave.

: The Guardian tells the story of the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog (but without a link or address).

: LATER: Glenn Reynolds writes about the internet and disasters.

The Internet accounts have given the disaster an immediacy and a personal dimension that traditional news accounts lack, and the self-organizing character of the blogosphere has allowed for rapid response as people who want to help have been put together with ways to help.

That won’t replace traditional efforts, of course: Despite being criticized as “stingy”

by Jan Egeland, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and a Navy expeditionary group that was supposed to go on holiday leave to help with the recovery effort. It’ll be a long time before the Internet crowd can dispatch resources like that.

But nonetheless, a lot of human capital has been brought to bear on this problem in very short order, through voluntary cooperation.

The new network beats the old network

The new network beats the old network

: I’m watching CNN right now and Anderson Cooper made a big deal of showing video of the tsunami “just in.” Except I saw that video online this morning and linked to it then.

Whether it comes to gathering news — witness this video — or distributing news — witness the 6-10 times more people who saw Jon Stewart online than on CNN — the new, distributed citizens’ network sometimes beats the old, centralized corporate network.

A new Iraqi blogger

A new Iraqi blogger

: See Ali, liberal Iraqi blogger.

The reviews are in

The reviews are in

: Chuck Olsen’s Blogumentary gets reviewed (favorably) in Mother Jones.

Stingy like a frog

Stingy like a frog

: At 5 p.m., Glenn Reynolds reported that Amazon had raised 112,000 for tsunami relief. Less than three hours later, the total is over $360,000 — which beats the amount the French were reported to have pledged to tsunami relief this afternoon (as a UN official called America’s first offer — of many, no doubt — of $35 million as “stingy“).

: UPDATE: Five hours later, the total is over $585,000 at Amazon.

Shooting lutefisk in a barrel

Shooting lutefisk in a barrel

: In The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell reviews a book by Jared Diamond swallowing the assumption that ancient Norske had fishphobia but then Matthew Yglesias does 20 minutes of Googlechecking (previously known as fact-checking).

: Fritz Schranck fishes yet deeper.

Numbers too big to bear

Numbers too big to bear

: The number keeps growing bigger and more incomprehensible. They always do. The latest says 59,000 died in the tsunami.

For perspective, this is rising almost to the number of all people killed in natural disasters last year, which itself was multiples over the totals in years before:

According to an annual survey by the German reinsurance giant Munich Re, 75,000 people were killed in natural disasters last year – up from 11,000 in 2002 and 25,000 in 2001. Most devastating were the Bam earthquake (40,000 dead, 30,000 injured) and heatwaves in Europe that claimed more than 20,000 lives. Economic losses were put at $US65 billion, up $10 billion on the previous year.

: UPDATE: An Italian official says the toll could reach 100,000.

Socialized medicine indeed

Socialized medicine indeed

: In posts below on godless Britain, some frustrated folks are trying to put up comments using the word “socialism.” They are stopped in their tracks and they think there’s some vast conspiracy (they can’t decide whether it’s of the left or the right) stopping them. But of course, it’s not a PC cop. It’s a spam cop that guards the door. MT Blacklist prevents the spammer evildoers from posting comments linking to their dubious business endeavors. And so what’s wrong with socialism? Well, at its heart, as you can see, socialism is all about erectile dysfunction. The opiate of the masses, indeed.