Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Deluge of Flood Thoughts

The terrible tsunami and all the snowmelt flooding in the Miami Valley have inevitably reminded people around here of the terrible 1913 Flood. Obviously, the scope was not at all the same (although both Dayton and Cincinnati suffered terribly, and most of the Midwest was hit hard). OTOH, the tsunami survivors didn't have to face cold rain, gas explosions, or raging infernos doing their best to destroy all that was left.

But Dayton does have a powerful lesson for everyone about what to do after a disaster: "Remember the Promises Made in the Attic". It is vitally important that people affected by the tsunami should band together and insist that something be done. I know these people are very poor in many cases, but there ought to be some sort of simple precautions and preparedness that can help against storm damage and even the odd tsunami. Naturally there will be lots of political infighting and outright corruption; but something must be done. In Dayton, it was the donations of local people and local corporations that did the job. There was no sense waiting on the state or the federal government to keep Dayton safe. So they raised the money themselves, even before everything was rebuilt. Here are some old political cartoons documenting what happened.

Finally, I am very pleased to note that my disreputable relative the madam made an appearance in Noah Adams' Wright Brothers book, The Flyers. Scroll down to "Lib Hedges". I didn't know she was buried in Woodlawn, so I called my mom, only to be informed that she'd already known that. Apparently my grandfather may have occasionally visited her grave on the sly, just as he'd visited her office without previously informing his parents of his intention when he was a kid.

(I've probably told this story before, grandfather was a great exploiter of the various family feuds among the elder generation of Hales and Heyers. He visited everybody who wasn't talking to each other, and generally collected goodies. So naturally, when he found out he had a relative who was a rich madam, he made it his business to find out where her real estate/legitimate business office was. From then on, he and his cousin, or another little friend, would drop by every so often and chat with his seriously disowned great-aunt. She would give them money to go to the movie house, which was just down the street...and which belonged to her. If this whole story doesn't give you a deep understanding of my mother's side of the family, I don't know what will.)

So I fully intend to visit my great-aunt's grave when the weather's good. She didn't live the easiest life, and she apparently got all reclusive after losing most of her money in the stock market crash and Depression. (Though not all of it, apparently. Most of that half million was probably not liquid assets, though; it was her real estate holdings.) There's no denying that she got her money by exploiting other people, though. Though she supposedly treated her girls well, she was still selling their bodies. Though prostitution was legal in Ohio back then, it was still wrong.

All the same, she did give a lot to charity. Famous Daytonians talks about her notable contributions to the YMCA and YWCA. And the most famous (and Hale-like) story about her tells how she not only donated a thousand dollars to flood relief, but told the collectors to tell every businessman how much she'd given. A very nice bit of psychology, that -- both shame and genteel blackmail in one. The woman deserves at least a few flowers.

(BTW, the Look Homeward, Angel story is a bunch of bushwah. Wolfe's dad carved an angel in their hometown which is a much more likely candidate.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Christians Cause Natural Disasters

More than 1500 years after this idea was polished off by The City of God, certain theologically ungifted Muslims flirt with the idea that Christian holidays cause natural disasters. Just 'cause we've got a lot of holidays in spring and December, apparently.

However, a short bebop over to an online perpetual calendar with Muslim holidays listed reveals that the forum folks are missing quite a few natural disasters on and around their own holidays.

Feb. 29, 1960
Leap year hits and so does a massive earth tremblor in Agadir, Morocco. What lives the quake doesn't claim, the resulting damage does. A tidal wave and fires combine to take 12,000 victims.

Note: Ramadan began on Feb 28 in 1960.

May 31, 1970 (sic)
Far away from China, another tremblor leaves 50,000 dead, after the earth moves in Peru.

Note: The Prophet's birthday was celebrated May 18. And the temblor was May 21, actually.

November 1970
It's considered by many to be the greatest natural disaster in modern history. A cyclone that roared through Bangladesh and coastal India caused a storm surge, and is believed to have taken an unimaginable 300,000-500,000 people, the greatest single toll from one storm in the 20th Century.

Note: Nov. 12, 1970. Lailat ul Qadr was celebrated on Nov. 25.

September-December 1983
The tsunami tragedy must have left many in Thailand feeling a tragic sense of deja vu. More than 10,000 people were killed in a series of monsoons that struck the nation in just four months.

Note: Eid al Adha was celebrated Sep 18, and Muharram on Oct 8.

June 21, 1990
An earthquake hits northwest Iran, and rumbles the Richter scale at 7.7 By the time it's over, 50,000 lie dead and 60,000 more are injured. At least 400,000 are homeless.

Note: Eid al Adha was celebrated on July 4.

April 1991
At least 138,000 succumbed when a cyclone smashed ashore in the Chittagong region of Bangladesh. A country already suffering from such terrible poverty could hardly afford the cost of this disaster. It's estimated the damage was around $1.5 billion.

Note: Apr 29. Lailat ul Qadr celebrated Apr. 11, and Eid al Fitr on Apr. 16.

December 1999
Venezuela, warmed by the phenomenon of La Nina, experienced ten days of non-stop rains and deadly flash floods, leading to mudslides, drownings, and severe sickness, as more than 10,000 die. Almost 150,000 are homeless.

Note: Ramadan began Dec. 9.

Some disasters not mentioned on the forum:

November 13, 1985:
A small eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia on November 13, 1985 leads to a massive mudflow that covers the city of Armero and kills more than 23,000 people.
Note: Prophet's Birthday celebrated Nov. 25.

June 15, 1896:
About 27,000 people drown following an earthquake-induced tsunami off the coast of Japan.
Note: Muharram celebrated June 12.

August 26, 1883:
Krakatoa, a small volcano on an uninhabited island between Sumatra and Java, explodes. The eruption and a tsunami kill 36,000 people in this Indonesian region.
Note: Eid al Fitr celebrated August 5.

Now, did all that prove anything beyond "there's bad weather in the spring, fall and winter" and "this chick has a lot of time on her hands"? Of course not. It's a silly discussion altogether.