Japan Quake: Distracting, as it should be

If you take a look around here at Fish & Bicycles, you’ll notice that, unlike a lot of other blogs, I don’t specialize in any one particular topic; I write about whatever strikes a fancy on any given day at any given moment.

(Disclaimer: I don’t have anything personal against fancies, and any pleasure I take from the striking of them is purely in a figurative sense.)

Therefore, it’s fairly unusual for me to post something on the same topic two days in a row, and when I do, as I did last week, I usually feel uncomfortable about it, and I even apologize for it.

I currently have several drafts I’ve written on other topics, saved and ready to post, but every time I try click on the Publish button I find myself thinking of the enormity of the earthquake in Japan, of my friends there, and how connected we are, even though the Pacific Oceans stands between us.

And so, speaking of the enormity of the quake, here I am posting my third entry in a row on the same topic, astounded by this particular part of the story:


Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet; shifted Earth’s axis

The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis…

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters)…

The quake occurred as the Earth’s crust ruptured along an area about 250 miles (400 kilometers) long by 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide, as tectonic plates slipped more than 18 meters, said Shengzao Chen, a USGS geophysicist.

As I mentioned in my first post on the quake, I just happened to have watched the 2009 film 2012, a movie about tectonic calamity, just a few days before the Earth shook Japan. In that fairly ridiculous movie, the Earth’s crust became unstable, resulting in massive earthquakes and tsunamis, billions of people were killed, the land masses on the planet were radically rearranged and reconfigured, the planet’s axis shifted, the poles reversed their magnetic fields, and the South Pole ended up located in what used to be Wisconsin.

Of course, nothing so dramatic has happened here in real life. But for all of 2012‘s many faults, in hindsight and in the context of the events of the past few days, I have to give the filmmakers credit for trying to imagine the unimaginable, perhaps suggesting that if we — inhabitants of a planet already showing signs of escalating tectonic and climate changes — don’t do a better job of imagining the unimaginable and work hard to prevent and/or prepare for possible catastrophes, their movie might not be too ridiculous after all.

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