White Carnations

Kage Baker would have been glued to the television today. She would have been watching the footage from Japan. She would have been horrified. She would also have been conscious of how astonishingly the world has become interconnected – that she could sit in a room on the coast of California, watching live – LIVE – footage of a tsunami rolling over a Japanese farming community.

That’s what I did for quite some time last night. When the footage began to repeat, and the reporters began to interview one another, I turned off the telly and went searching on the Net. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The Coast Guard. The NWS, the NOAA, the DOC, the USGS. That wonderful maternal CalTech seismologist, Dr. Kate Hutton; who, when queried about the proper response to a tsunami warning on the California Coast, said bluntly that going to the beach today would be about the stupidest thing you could do. Stay out of the water, she said. The currents will be dangerous. That’s why we issue the warning. She didn’t add D’uh! – but she should have.

After awhile I ran out of sensible sites and began exploring the fringe. People online ranted about tsunamis, spoiled vacations, armageddon scenariae, the gravitational attraction of the Moon this month, how the Japanese deserved the earthquake for eating whale meat. The longer I searched, the farther afield, the later the hour – the crazier the comments became. I finally gave up and went to bed.

Checking this morning, the crazies seem to have partied all night. Non-earthquake-fixated crazies have apparently spent the night dismantling the American middle class, blowing up non-co-religionists all over the world, and throwing fellow party members (of whatever party they espouse) under various busses. The more geophysically inclined are waiting with panting eagerness for more killer quakes, giant tsunamis, flaming cracks in the earth and the death by chaos of every skyscraper-ed, neon-lit, glass-and-metal city in the world; they are happily waiting for monsters to arise from the deep and march over the earth.

Godzilla jokes are rampant.

And yes – I recall very well that I’ve spent the last several days joking about Chthulu in the Catalina Channel and Lizard Men under downtown Los Angeles. But, you know what? It’s not hard or painful to make jokes about a million inconveniently placed dead sardines. The fun goes right out of it when what you are watching is a 30-foot tall wave rolling across farmland, with burning greenhouses borne along on the shoulders of the waters like the torches of an invading army.

Luckily, the non-crazies have been busy, too. There are lots of good people on line; though they are quiet, and harder to find than the ravers. I’m going to go check on the International Red Cross, and see what I can do to help the other side of the world.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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6 Responses to White Carnations

  1. James says:

    The one crazy comment I heard today was that the tsunami had at least kept Libya out of the news. I heard more, but this was the least offensive.


    • Kate says:

      People are so … peculiar.


    • MaggiRos says:

      There’s something to be said for bumping Charlie Sheen off the front page, too. And the Godzilla jokes may have their place, in moderation, if only as a way of handling the unthinkable. The image of an inexorable pulse of water that doesn’t stop at the beach but just keeps moving inland is the stuff of nightmares.


  2. Kate says:

    You’re quite right, Maggie. What bothered me in the comments was the wide streak of righteous wrath – that Japan somehow deserved this appalling disaster. I caught a whiff of something similar from a few people back east when it became obvious the California Coast was also going to take some hits. And that both enrages and exhausts me.

    My family lost some people in the 1960 Hilo Bay tsunami – I was almost 8, and remember listening (unobserved) as the details were passed over my head among the grownups. I’ve had nightmares ever since about it.


    • Valerie says:

      Ugh – I looked at one news story today, and after reading the horrible comments denigrating Hurricane Katrina victims, came back to the civilized portions of the web.

      Well. I’m glad you weren’t in danger – you and the other people I know out there. And all the ones I don’t know! And very sorry for the folks in Japan, who will suffer a long time from this.

      There. Another little bit for civilization, and keeping the darkness back…


  3. Kate says:

    If as many of us who can do strike our little blows for civilization and compassion, then at least we advance slowly. Better than falling behind or going stagnant!


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