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Saturday, January 01, 2005


Of Words and Images 


A co-worker posted a link to an extraodinary series of photos taken from a Phuket hotel balcony. Although the man was pulled out seconds later, I find this image especially chilling. Nevertheless, a statement only tangentially related to the catastrophe in Southeast Asia hit me with more visceral punch than any image thus far.

The History Channel had an old series on natural disasters, and a couple of nights ago they replayed "Tsunami: Killer Wave". In the episode, they talked about how hard it was, in spite of an early warning system in the Pacific, to convince people of the danger. Apparently, during one such warning in Hawaii, surfers wouldn't come in – they couldn't be convinced that this particular wave wouldn't be an awesome ride. But, as one scientist explained, a tsunami wave is under the surface, unlike the typical ocean waves we're used to. He said a tsunami acts more like flood waters.

For someone raised by a traumatized survivor of a river flood who couldn't instill in his kids enough fear of floods, that was a body slam.