Wednesday, December 29, 2004

"Hey ASIA: Smoke Signal Tsunami's!"

Yikes. Poor Asia. What a mess.

Not-so incidentally, the Bush Administration has pledged $35 million in relief, or:

The U.S. has spent an average of $9.5 million every hour on the war and occupation of Iraq. With a current price tag of $147 billion, the U.S. has spent an average of about $228 million a day in Iraq. In other words, the U.S. spends what it promised on the tsunami relief effort in less than four hours in Iraq.

Analysis courtesy of the good people at, thanks for putting things in perspectives we need to hear.

But this blog ain't about baggin' Bush in the prairie oysters, it's about why the hell in an age of sports-scores on cellphones, we have no system to warn villagers of pending natural disasters? Especially 4 hours after we know about them?

Well courtesy of my throwback-amigo, Padrone, a throwback-idea that costs less than a throwback-jersey: smoke signals.

They've been used for millenia to signal something's up, first helping primitive man find people he could hang-out with, kill, or eat, and later getting downright Nokia-esque. So why not today?

Quite simply, have your local Jackie or Johnny Meteorology grab pick-up trucks full of old tires, drive them towards a couple of separate hills (e.g. East/West or North/South of the city) or the old mill, and set up a 2-signal system with surrounding villages:

1) TSUNAMI!!! (etc.) Run to the city!!!
2) NUKES!!! (etc.) Run away from the city!!!

Let villagers know the deal in advance, and hope a few remember and collectively yell the same thing upon seeing the signal to convince the others. Once we know something crazy is happening - and usually once a year tropical paradise gets bitten with the disaster bug, jus' pour out a lil' liquor for 100,000 dead homiez, and let flames pierce the sky.

My consigliori and I brainstormed a little conversational aikido, and came up with:

WHO: People with a conscience.
WHAT: Any simple signaling for illiterates, or, smoke signals.
WHEN: Now. Even if unused it's cheap insurance.
WHERE: Any city yelling "RUN!" to surrounding villages.
WHY: Saving a good chunk of people who will listen.
HOW: Build a low-maintenance relationship with the villages.

With all the self-serving whining about the cost of connecting every wretched soul with a Blackberry, countries need to keep corporations from fighting for government tenders that guarantee cost-overruns and delays for dubious results, and go back to basics. It could take decades before every village is equipped with modern communications: it's time for an old-school solution.

This may need refining outside of blogworld, but all the gut-instinct arguments we've heard have answers, including:

"This can't save everyone."

Well of course not.

But for the rest, we've got a shot.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno dawg. Today we see that the latest 'tsunami warning' was false, and hundreds of people trampled to death just trying to get back from the water. The science of predicting these disasters is imperfect at best, and I think the danger of mass hysteria and trampling in these densely populated coastal regions is very real.

I'm not saying don't warn anyone... but yelling 'run!' or flying up an equally scary smoke signal might actually make things worse.

Realistically, dude, this shit happens only once every few decades in countries like this, but the threat is always there. I don't know what the answer is.. but its not this.

Love the blog.. keep it up.


9:23 AM  
Blogger Black Krishna said...

(Thanks! My first comment! And... I have to disagree. Dammit, this is just craptastic... )

I dunno mate, with all due respect I think greater trampling occurs after you see 50-foot waves crashing towards you, and with a couple of hours notice people could grab their meager belongings (be a shame to lose the HDTV, but hey...) and skedaddle. I know that I'd like to be warned if I had the option, and would rather risk early "trampling" than late "tsunami". Plus all solutions are relative, if this can help a little with the little knowledge we have for little effort, I say give it a shot.

(Plus, subversively it gets cities to give a crap about villages, and suggest solutions on a peer-level that have no technology learning curve. Just sneakin' in some "kumbaya", My Lord... ;)

And God-bless Google, (and not just 'cause they own blogworld,) as they found for me in seconds:

1) Twenty-six countries make up the International Co-ordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System which tries to predict where tsunamis will strike up to a half-day in advance. Only Thailand had any warning system among the 12 countries ravaged by tsunamis.

(and they could just email the others if they have a bad long-distance plan...)

2) Scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii knew in advance on Boxing Day that south Asia would be hit but were unable to raise the alarm after failing to track down emergency planners. Alerts were not issued in Thailand until 9 am, nearly an hour after the waves hit, while Sri Lanka lost two and a half hours' warning time between the quake and the devastation. The Thai government was accused of not acting on the warning, but a spokesman from the Seismological Bureau said it did not have the technology to do so.

(if true, iss more craptastic...)

3) UN says warning systems could be working in southern Asia within a year. It will top the agenda at the forthcoming World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held under UN auspices in Kobe, Japan, in mid-January.

(i wonder if they read blogs? i guess i'll just ask and see what they say... :)

Source -

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