The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'tsunami'


Australian lingerie model arrested for ecstasy possession in Bali released. Michelle Leslie, best known for appearing in an underwear ad, has been released from prison and deported as a criminal after the prosecution in her ecstasy-possession case agreed to only seek a penalty of 3 months' imprisonment (i.e., the time served). It is not clear whether she would have received a more severe sentence had (a) she not allegedly been with the son of Indonesia's Economics Minister at the time of the arrest, or (b) the Indonesians not feared hordes of bloody-minded tabloid-reading Ugly Australians boycotting Bali and demanding their tsunami-aid donations back if one of their sheilas went down.

I suspect that the pivotal factor in Leslie's early release was not her showing up in a burqa at her trial and announcing that she had converted to Islam, seemingly oblivious to the fact that (a) Bali is a largely Hindu province, and (b) burqas are not commonly worn in Indonesia. Oddly enough, she did not seem to be observing Islamic traditions of modest dress upon release; perhaps when she sells her story to Womens' Weekly or the Herald-Sun, she'll say that Islam was just a phase she was going through, as if it were Kabbala or Scientology or Hollywood Buddhism or something. (Though doesn't converting from Islam technically make her an apostate? I wonder whether she'll end up with a fatwa on her head.)

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Sydney's Anglican Dean, Philip Jensen, has said that the tsunami was a warning from God that judgment is coming, and that society has become too sinful and Godless. Perhaps if we banned pornography and Satanic rock music and indecent language on TV and kissing in movies and unmarried couples going about unchaperoned and started stoning homosexuals, witches and wearers of mixed fabrics to death as the Book of Leviticus commands, God would make all the earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes and suicide bombers and email spam and antibiotic-resistant superbugs and killer bees and killer sharks stop. Maybe if we were super-obedient, He would even see fit to bring down petrol prices or something.

Another religious leader, Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, claims that God sent the earthquake to kill 2,000 Swedish tourists because their country prosecuted a fundamentalist preacher for preaching against homosexuality. That would be a lot of collateral damage for a kind, loving God; though I suppose for Rev. Phelps' God, it makes perfect sense.

On a different note, the Ayn Rand Institute says that the US should not help tsunami victims, because (a) taxation is theft, and (b) altruism is evil.

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The Indian Ocean earthquake may not only have killed a lot of people and wiped out entire towns, it may have also permanently taken a fraction of a second off each day, by accelerating the Earth's rotation.

Meanwhile, some experts say it's only a matter of time before a landslide in the Canary Islands causes a mega-tsunami in the Atlantic, with unimaginably devastating effects; places like Ireland and south-west England will get off lightly, with only waves similar to those that battered Sri Lanka and Thailand; meanwhile, the east coast of the US will be wiped out with 20-50-metre waves obliterating cities including New York and Washington DC, and the Caribbean and northeastern Brazil would suffer similar devastation. And since it would be impossible to evacuate the entire eastern seaboard in a few hours and impractical to do so preventively for an indefinite period, nobody wants to hear about an early-warning system:

No national leader wants to evacuate the entire coast for an indefinite period of time, causing an economic and refugee crisis on the scale of a world war, for what might be a false alarm. But nobody wants to ignore a warning, and perhaps be responsible for tens of millions of deaths. From a political standpoint, it's better not to have the warning at all.

Mind you, that's only one opinion; some dude on Slashdot said that the depth profile of the Atlantic would cause such tsunamis to dissipate more rapidly, so perhaps things will turn out OK.

Anyway, back to the spin-acceleration thing; this means that there'll be, theoretically, even less time in a day to do things. I, for one, wouldn't mind if someone devised a way of slowing Earth's rotation down, giving its inhabitants a 25- or 26-hour period to go about their day in; those of us with longer-than-24-hour biological clocks, who otherwise tend to retire and rise later each day, would be grateful.

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The recent cataclysm in the Indian Ocean hasn't escaped my attention; when capricious Nature kills at least 60,000 people in countries thousands of kilometres apart within a few hours, it's hard not to be awed. Mind you, that figure could double if epidemics of disease spread in the affected areas.

Anyway, Wikipedia has a good page on the disaster as information comes in; BBC News has a special page as well, and bOING bOING links to first-person accounts by bloggers. And if you want to help, you can do so by donating to UNICEF or Oxfam (Australia, UK, USA).

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