Monday, 20 July 2015

the big one or nxnw

Recommended reading from Kottke comes in the form of this absorbing article from the New Yorker on the science behind the hysteria over the North American Pacific Northwest earthquake that’s by the numbers long overdue.

Aside from the convincing and frightening exposition and eloquent, clear explanation of seismology and what geologists fear—as opposed to the fear we’re better at propagandizing (making useful and expedient) or thrilling but non-challenging cinematic spectacles—the discussion of consequences and policies that foreshorten the long view on planning and contingency was also quite thought-provoking, and not in the orthodox ways that dampen self-regard, response and precaution worse than the disaster or otherwise try to make things less scary. One of the more astounding points touched upon was how the expedition of Lewis and Clark did not think to ask the Native Americans that they encountered in the Cascades about seismic events—albeit, how could they know to, not that it’s like not being savvy enough to ask about a home-owners’ association’s by-laws before moving in, but it’s really quite jarring to compare Japan’s millennia of record-keeping (and the historic “orphaned” tsunamis that might give researchers clues about this region’s timeline) and their sobering embrace of reform and change compared to inertia and enthusiasm that might be characterised as geologic.