Oct 26, 2004

Chuetsu, 3 days later

Since my friend Safety Neal frequently makes references to Wikipedia articles, I've taken to browsing the site periodically. Yesterday I was pleased to see a page already in progress on the Chuetsu Earthquake, or series of earthquakes, that shook much of Honshu last Saturday. By today, the article had been updated again to reflect the latest casualty numbers.

(On a side note: while Wikipedia impresses me as a near-real-time public deposit of information, the fact that anyone can edit content opens it up to the potential of becoming a source of great disinformation. This is a minor example, but in the Chutesu article in question, the number left homeless by the quake is fewer than in the most recent news reports, but the figure for fatalities is four higher than anything I've seen. Where will lazy high school students of the 21st century go for last-minute help with that research paper?)

Anyway, between the extraordinarily long string of typhoons and the Chuetsu Earthquake, Japan sure is getting slapped around by Mother Nature this year. Fortunately, the number of deaths is far lower than in the Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 - possibly because rain and other factors have kept post-quake fires to a minimum. But the sheer intensity and suddenness of the tremors caused the first ever derailment of the Shinkansen, or bullet train, while carrying passengers.

Images from Japan Times and Yahoo News. Look here for more on the derailment and Shinkansen safety system.

Tens of thousands of people are temporarily living in school gymnasiums and makeshift shelters, and many of the train lines and highways in Niigata prefecture are closed indefinitely. And with vegetable prices sky-high after the last typhoon, delivering food supplies to evacuees has proven to be a logistical nightmare.

Residents in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, take shelter at a makeshift evacuation center on Tuesday after strong earthquakes hit northern Japan on Saturday. More than 100,000 exhausted survivors of Japan's deadliest earthquake in a decade woke up in makeshift shelters for a third day on Tuesday as rain threatened to hamper relief efforts and trigger further landslides. (image and text from MDN

Residents in Ojiya walk past an overturned car after a strong earthquake on Saturday night. (image and text from MDN

At home in Tokyo, we felt pretty strong tremors from the first three quakes on Saturday - the first one lasting more than 10 seconds. I was sitting on the toilet at the time, actually my second such experience in Japan. Not where I want to be when the Great Tokyo Earthquake hits.

Oct 25, 2004

Follow me into a mistake

Bush/Cheney Debate

Oil prices hit new record levels

And somebody's happy.

I think the only thing I love more than the words "record profits" is the groupthink of the investment community and their near-sighted obsession with meaninglessly short accounting periods that makes possible such juicy phrases as "record quarterly profits" and "job cuts."

Oct 15, 2004

Hard Working George

Hard Working George

Oct 5, 2004

Time for an intervention

Today I didn't have to work, but I ended up staying inside at home because it rained non-stop for the third consecutive day. While I got some chores and reading accomplished, a considerable chunk of my time was spent viewing friends' websites, links from their sites, and other pages I have bookmarked for days like this.

The three links below are a small sample of what occupied me on this rainy day.


of Chinese characters (hanzi) or their Japanese derivations (kanji) documented at hanzi smatter.

Keeping America Scared

How do you run a convention on a record of failure? (5.1M quicktime mov)

Open Letters

to people or entities who are unlikely to respond.