As mentioned earlier this week, I was asked by the editors of a local webzine to contribute something for them, so I did. I wrote for them before, last December. The new piece came online last Monday. You can click here and read it.
I wrote about the recent disasters in Japan, cadging some first-hand accounts from expatriates in that country who also blog, and adding some personal thoughts of my own from having grown up in Earthquake Country, i.e., Northern California.
I’ll put the article up here, also, for storage I guess you could say, but I’ll wait a few days more before doing that. Until then, you can go see what the Tree Wise Monkeys are up to by visiting their home page.
Also in the meantime, I’ll drop some things here that didn’t make it to the final cut of what turned out to be a rather lengthy writing effort.
The New York Times has two places with multiple sets of photos about the mayhem going on in Japan, and its aftermath. Check their photoblog, Lens (with a few more here), and there are also a whole lot more in the special interactive feature, about 126 more, in fact. No, I haven’t looked at them all yet. The Japan Quake Map is highly recommended.
A somewhat amazing editorial in the Joong-Ang Daily goes like this, amazing for its praise of Japan and the harshness of its criticism of Korea:
The Japanese people’s calm and orderly reaction to the unexpected crisis is fully deserving of our compliments as well as our envy. Television broadcasts around the world showed hardly any images of crying or screaming Japanese. In the face of nature’s fury, each survivor patiently waited in line to receive emergency food. […]
The scenes from Japan naturally remind us of our own equally disgraceful response to tragedy – crowds wailing loudly whenever disaster has occurred. Even when flights are temporarily delayed, we stampede to the airlines to complain about it in chorus. And whenever a mishap takes place, we prefer to blame the government.
We hope the Japanese people’s reaction will teach us a lesson. We still have a lot to learn from Japan and a long way to go before we become a mature, developed country.
The western media tried to make a case that Japanese people are different and don’t do the kind of bad things that happen during large emergencies. However, some of Andrew Sullivan’s readers disagree.
There are reports of theft, there are reports of gangs of men going around trying to get into people’s houses by pretending they’re checking their gas or electricity, and there are news reports of people stocking up on supplies in exactly the way the family in the anecdote you posted suggested would be “selfish.” Anyone who doesn’t know this simply isn’t following the story very closely.
To be fair, you do have to somewhat look for stories like this about looting and crimes, because it’s a myth that the Japanese media buys into. The terrible Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 was also covered as if everyone acted calmly and there were no crimes, but in fact historical distance reveals that numerous thefts and rape incidents occurred as awful people took advantage of this situation.
Korea has a lot of nuke plants also. Fortunately, though, we don’t have earthquakes.
Nation Geographic has produced a 45-minute documentary mostly made up of footage submitted by people in the midst of it all who found the presence of mind to pull out their cell phone cameras and hand-held video recorders. It is just about all you need if you are looking for drama. The whole thing can be found on YouTube, and I’ve found that it loads more smoothly if you take it in 15-minute chunks. Here is Part One, and here is Part Two, and here is Part Three. They are selling it as a DVD, so these vids might be taken down by the time you are reading this. Check their own website here.