Friday, March 12, 2010

New Rules for the New Economy

New Rules for the New Economy

A fascinating new viewpoint at how the world is changing...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Google Sidewiki entry by Jack

International comments about tremors as new Chilean president is sworn in.

in reference to:

"Chile hit by powerful aftershocks"
- CBC News - World - Chile hit by powerful aftershocks (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

It’s Not What It Seems

After having been woken every morning for the past week by having my bed shake, I’ve been led to re-think what we’ve all been told about the earthquake in Chile.

One conclusion that has come to me is that this was not a natural event. It is a man-made phenomena that comes from the testing of a secret government project to develop a national alarm clock!

To explain the various discrepancies which opponents of this theory might raise I offer the following explanations:

  1. The massive quake on February 27th was an accidental result of the simultaneous activation of several separate shaker apparatuses.
  2. The several hundred aftershocks were due to a malfunction of the control mechanism provoked by event Number 1.
  3. The varied times are a combination of the damaged control mechanism and deliberate testing to determine the optimum shaker intensity required to awaken the maximum number of citizens at different times of the day and night.

If they can be located, sources close to the newly elected president of Chile, Sebastian PiƱera, who is a well established entrepreneur, may indicate that the president-elect has been quick to recognize the potential commercial value of this program. Once the timing and intensity controls are perfected, it is said he has plans to licence the use of this technology to other countries whose economies need to be awakened.

Among the various benefits the new technology offers are:

  • The quick demolition of old and dilapidated buildings and neighbourhoods.
  • A final testing procedure of new buildings before they are occupied to ensure that they meet all anti-seismic standards.
  • Demolition of inadequate roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure.
  • A quick method of testing the moral character of large groups of people and identifying those with delinquent tendencies who participate in looting during simulated emergency conditions.
  • A process to stimulate and reactivate the construction industry.
  • A justification to use the manpower and machinery of a country’s armed forces in peace time without provoking any external conflicts.
  • A focal point to unite the citizens of a country toward a common national goal which supersedes political agendas.

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

My Wonderful, Useless Kindle

I mentioned in my first post about the earthquake in Chile that I had just purchased a Kindle book reader from Amazon.

This marvellous piece of equipment has functioned perfectly from the day it arrived in early February and of all the communication possibilities I’ve had at my disposal since the earthquake on in the wee hours of February 27th, this is the only one that has not failed to work.

This device is lightweight and easy to transport, it consumes little power, once charged it runs for a long period and can be recharged relatively quickly.  I have never, to date, attempted to connect to their network and not been able to make a connection to either the Kindle store or to Wikipedia.

There is the nub of the marvel and the worthlessness of this piece of equipment.  While I’ve been able to connect when the regular internet, cell phones, fixed phones, television and power systems failed, the device has not permitted me to send or receive any personal or specific information.

For example, as I sit here at using my laptop computer to compose this blog, I have to save it for some future moment when I might connect to the internet, but my Kindle, sitting at my side, is connected to Wikipedia telling me the latest news which has been posted about the Chile disaster. (The web browser is “not available” in Chile.)

It occurred to me that possibly if I searched for a book title such as “Help! Earthquake in Chile” that it might be noticed by someone.  I did so, and maybe it was noticed … however, not in any way which I can verify.

The fact is that the technology is there now.  It is in place and working now.  All that is necessary is for Amazon, or other companies to implement some sort of emergency trigger that would allow a person in a critical situation to enter in some kind of key phrase or even use a certain special button to be immediately connected to an operator who could attend to the request and assist.

Whether this service would be free, an optional extra which would be charged for if used, or completely without cost is not important.  What is important is to recognize the tremendous service and and potential which this marvellous machine now has, and to set up some way to put it into practice.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The extreme conditions of the Chilean earthquake serve to reveal the character of the people and to make one wonder about one’s own convictions.

Imagine a service station with cars lined up for blocks in both directions for hours and, after several hours in the line the electricity which operates the pumps is cut.

Apart from the cars lined up in both directions, people are arriving on foot carrying gas cans.  There’s a line of cans in front of one of the pumps.  Each new arrival, looks around, and places their can in the line –– possibly marking it in some way to distinguish it from others which look the same.

Since I had been in the vehicle line and the power was cut just as I stopped in front of the pumps, I was in a perfect position to watch this line grow along with the actions of the people who participated.

No one seemed inclined to try to jump their can to a more favourable position in the line … it was a model of respect, order and patience that would satisfy the most stringent standards.

The Bad

One of the bad characteristics I’ve observed came from the various TV reports which have been broadcast in which reporters interview people from all areas and in all sorts of circumstances about how they’ve been affected by this catastrophe.

Certain people, it seemed to me, mostly in the larger urban areas, showed a common reaction to their situations saying things like “I’ve lost everything, when is somebody going to do something?”, or “Whose going to fix this? Who’s going to be held responsible.” 

In short it was an attitude of “I’m suffering” and “Somebody has to take care of me.” 

In my estimation these reactions seemed most common in young to middle-aged adults and in large urban areas.

In contrast, it seemed that older people and quite generally most people in either small towns or in rural areas seemed to be simply confused, distraught or dismayed by their plight and their losses … but they did not seem to be expecting that someone else was going to – or should – show up to fix everything up again.

The Ugly

The really ugly side of people seems to be almost entirely confined to concentrated urban areas. 

I see this in the areas where electricity and water has been cut off for several days, where stores have been closed for lack of electricity and dangerous structural damages.

Extensive looting started, according to some reports just minutes after the first earthquake and TV cameras recorded people breaking open warehouses, carrying out every imaginable type of merchandise from plasma TVs to grocery carts completely filled with liquor, video games, cell phones, etc.

In these areas the army has been called in and a curfew has been established, yet people in residential areas banded together with poles, garden tools, guns, knives and whatever other implement might be used for defence to set up patrols on their streets and protect their homes from midnight marauders.

I see this state of affairs as a very ugly aspect of humanity, and yet I find myself wondering how I might act if I were to find myself in some of the situations that people are in when they resort commit these acts of looting.

Imagine yourself, possibly with a hungry child, a brother or sister who is badly injured, without water, without electricity, your house devastated, you are sleeping on the street, your vehicle has been crushed under a wall which collapsed, there are no stores open, no banks operating ….

Does it make you think, too?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

More Chilean Earthquake Experiences

Another day has passed and my life-after the earthquake hasn’t changed much.

I’m still suffering from intermittent Internet Withdrawal. 

Thousands of people have either partially or completely lost their homes due to this event.  Part of the damage was directly from the quake, others from the tsunami which hit the coast only minutes following the principal shock.

I mentioned in my previous post I’ve found the rapid action on the part of the government and the infrastructure very impressive on the positive side.  Some large communities are still without electric power and water, but considering the extensive damages, I feel it would be difficult to imagine any country who could do better than what Chile is doing now.

For me, and for many thousands of people the most immediate and devastating effect of this event is the simple lack of gasoline to allow one to travel about as they would normally do.

I mentioned that I escaped to a resort area, Lican Ray, because there was electricity, food and lodgings available to me.  Yesterday I went to the only gas station in town and after waiting about 1/2 hour in line, discovered that they had run out of gas.

This morning, I learned that gas had arrived, when I saw the length of the line which had already formed, I asked the manager of the station if it was worthwhile to get into line and was assured that there would be enough gas for everyone lined up so far.

After I was in line, I checked to see that I had my wallet and discovered I’d left it back at the Inn.   I asked the driver of the car behind me if he would look after my place in line and move my car forward when the line moved, and he agreed.

I walked back to the Inn and got my wife to drive me back, and she entered the end of the line about 5 cars behind where I was.   Slowly the line inched forward.

I knew before I reached the pump that sales were limited to 10,000 pesos (about 15 litres) of fuel per vehicle, but I didn’t know that they were only accepting cash.  I only had enough cash to pay for my car, but not enough to pay for my wife’s ration.

As a result when I reached the pump my car wasn’t served immediately until I got the OK from the station manager to receive my cheque to pay for both my car and my wife’s.

She OK’d my cheque and I went back to the pump to pass it to the operator.  When I arrived, the electric power was cut!

I was number one in the line and I couldn’t get gas!  We decided to keep our places until the power was resumed…the wait was over 3 hours until power was finally resumed.

In summary, not a great adventure, but it is a situation where it seems that for me, and a great number of people who I spoke with or overheard while waiting in the line for gas, we just have to remain calm, be patient and slowly work our ways back into positions and areas where we can contribute to the great reparations which are going to be needed in the country over the next few months.

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