Well Gene, ya know it wouldn't be me if I weren't able to pull seemingly useless trivia from my, er, trivia conglomeration gland. There's probably good cause to worry about tsunamis hitting the East and Gulf Coasts of the US. I didn't read the NY Post story but any doom-and-gloomer worth his salt should probably first mention La Palma in the Canary Islands off Africa. Nearby, we have plenty to be worried about too from such fun things as the Montserrat and Kick 'Em Jenny volcanoes and a crisscross of faults under the Caribbean one of which recently gave the residents of the Cayman Islands a jolt that would have sent manly Californians screaming like little girls. Of course, land movement isn't the only cause of large waves. Besides a little hurricane (storm surge is the #1 killer!) here and there, rogue waves much like the one that hit Daytona Beach in the middle of the night back in 1992 frequently topple large ships out at sea. Heck, I don't know why we aren't all dead already.
Of course this should also signal a need to build earthquake resistant buildings everywhere in the US as well. I'm sure you're already aware that in recent history some of the largest earthquakes to hit the US were in Missouri and South Carolina. And let's not forget that the threat of twisters damns us all to becoming Toto-chasing Kansas girls at any moment. Just the other day near my old haunt in Los Angeles, they suffered from of all things: a tornado. Should I even get started on potential blizzards in Miami?
I think it's a bit obvious to almost everyone that I'm being a bit playful here. Yes, there might be good reason to think about a tsunami flooding the East Coast but is it worth the cost? Maybe. For the time being though, between the United States Geological Service and the Emergency Broadcast System which might require some slight tweaking for tsunami danger it seems pretty much covered--at least as much as we can handle. Not to mention that for many areas like New York City, Boston and Miami, complete and timely evacuation is logistically out of the question.
So should government require that all new buildings be tsunami safe bubbles in the unlikely even of catastrophic wave generation? Of course not. At the risk of sounding a bit like a communist hippie: All that these regulations do (outside of the unlikely tsunami event) is make living in prime areas too expensive for most people. How fortunate for the rich that building a simple home on the beachfront in Florida now requires oodles of money. A hundred years ago the poorest of the poor could live on the beach and should a big blow have wiped out their humble shotgun shacks, they simply rebuilt them...something that in the wake of four hurricanes and monster Andrew in 1992 is becoming increasingly hard for even the middle class to do. Not to mention that some of the buildings that have survived were built long before any damned and fancy hurricane construction regulations were in place.
I guess no matter how loopy the seemingly benign and wonderful schemes the government comes up with are, when we get back down to brass tacks, the Market is always the place to get the best information on exactly what to do for disaster prevention. Sure, mistakes are made. They are made often and when government makes them they tend to be worse and harder to fix so it's best to just let people make their little mistakes (sometimes known as spouses) and then repair them the best way they can (sometimes known as divorce.) Ya wouldn't want DC deciding who gets married and makes little blonde babies do you?
By the way, if it's not raining tomorrow I'll probably go boardsurfing. Come down and bring a snorkel!
Friday, December 31, 2004
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