Tragedy and Pop Music

Norm Geras has a great post up on the tsunami and our moral/philosophical reactions to it. I’m mostly pragmatic, and note the quote he has from Simon Day, an Earth Sciences professor at my alma mater:

For me, the deepest horror of the event lies in the one to three hours between the recording of the earthquake on the worldwide seismic network and the arrival of the tsunami waves on distant coasts, while their victims lived out the last hours of their lives all unawares.

With less than an hour of warning and a simple lesson in advance on what to do, most would have been able to simply walk a mile inland to safety and the death toll would have been counted in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands. Providing these things is not advanced science.

The best monument to the dead from this disaster would be to ensure that this effort is now made. Man is not helpless in the face of nature, if he applies his intelligence and energy to the task.

No, we’re not helpless.

He also wants you to email him your Top 10 Rock songs. I’m late with this because it’s hard for me not to do a top 100, I’m musically promiscuous I guess. But after hours of staring at the CD cases, here’s what I came up with. Note that if I did it again, half the answers would be different.

4th of July – X
Baba O Reilly – The Who
Catch Me Now – Kinks
It’s Expected I’m Gone – Minutemen
Guns of Brixton – The Clash
I’m Happy Just to Dance With You – Beatles
Struck A Nerve – Bad Religion
California Girls – Beach Boys
My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) – Neal Young
Hotel California – Eagles

5 thoughts on “Tragedy and Pop Music”

  1. It’s not rocket science, true. It’s proper priorities, however, and none of these third world governments have that down yet. The ones that aren’t spending thier nation’s treasure on nuclear weapons development are lining thier own pockets. Things like roads, secure property rights, power, and sewage treatment to say nothing of disaster preparedness never enter thier minds.

    This is a tragedy of biblical proportions, both in terms of human deaths and physical damage. We need to keep in mind where the responsibility lies as we provide succor to the victims.

  2. Even without a formal warning system, I’m amazed that nothing informal was done in this instance. There was immediate knowledge of a large earthquake in the Indian ocean. There may have been no official channels for this information to get to ‘proper authorities’, but why was there no attempt to use informal channels — web, email, telephone? How about a call to the Geophysics dept in a university in Madras or elsewhere in India? In fact, aren’t those guys already hooked into global scientific networks such that everybody finds out when there has been a major quake? Wasn’t there *anybody* in India who knew about the quake shortly after it happened and what it might mean?

  3. Odd pairing. I don’t know a whole lot about the communication systems in that part of the world, but what mw says makes sense to me.

    As for the 10 best rock songs, mine are (in no particular order):

    1. The Wind Cried Mary Jimi Hendrix
    2. A Day in the Life The Beatles
    3. I am the Walrus The Beatles
    4. Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix
    5. Pinball Wizard The Who
    6. Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan
    7. Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull
    8. Blue on Black Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    9. Sympathy for the Devil The Rolling Stones
    10.Ohio The Pretenders

  4. The notification question seems to be somewhat complicated; India, e.g., has monsoon warning systems set up, but nothing for tsunamis — they’ve never had one before. And I’m surprised no informal notifications seem to have gone out; maybe everyone who knew what had happened was too focussed on the immediate situation.

  5. The last tsunami in the area was over a century ago. Would we, even in the US, set up complex warning systems for something that last happened that long ago?

    There were warnings of the earthquake, and possibility of tsunami sent out but evidently no one knew precisely who to get in touch with to warn the people in danger (and that might well have been impossible in some areas anyway, without a lot longer notice).

    But even education would have helped. Japanese tourists on Phuket (by anecdote) saved a number of people by seeing the sea receding and yelling and running away. They know tsunami in Japan. (That’s why even we use their word for it.)

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