Tsunami: Two Items

Clearly, there is a horrific toll from these tsunamis - it's certain that there will end up being well over 100,000 people killed by these events and their aftermath. And I have to admit I've found it difficult to look away, as the death toll has risen and even more disturbing images emerge.

But I can't take off my analytical lens, either - whatever that may be - and as such, there are two items today that caught my eye more than others. The first is that, apparently, animals weren't killed by the tsunamis:
Wildlife officials in Sri Lanka expressed surprise Wednesday that they found no evidence of large-scale animal deaths from the tsunamis - indicating that animals may have sensed the wave coming and fled to higher ground.

An Associated Press photographer who flew over Sri Lanka's Yala National Park in an air force helicopter saw abundant wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, deer, and not a single animal corpse.

Floodwaters from Sunday's tsunami swept into the park, uprooting trees and toppling cars onto their roofs - one red car even ended up on top of a huge tree - but the animals apparently were not harmed and may have sought out high ground, said Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, whose Jetwing Eco Holidays ran a hotel in the park.

This doesn't really surprise me, but it is pretty fascinating, and definitely not something I'd thought about. This doesn't surprise me, because of course animals knew it was coming - these sorts of things happen pretty often, in the life of a species (i.e., millions of years), and so you learn when they're coming. It becomes engrained in the collective memory/intuition/knowledge of a species. We're animals, too, and I think that the not knowing of these sorts of things is one of the prices of civilization and modernity. Most people ran when the waves reached shore - but a lot of people came back after the initial tide, and were swallowed up by aftershocks and subsequent waves. That's awful, but you can't chalk it up simply to people being stupid - it's just a fact that most people are so isolated from the natural world that they really don't know what's going on.

The second thing that I noticed was George W. Bush's reaction to the tsunamis: he was a prick. This was really an opportunity for him to do well, easily, and he -
-responded indignantly to wealthy nations' being termed "stingy" by a UN official, calling the official "misguided and ill-informed" and going on to cite the United States' $2 billion in foreign food aid in 2004. Seriously, what a jerk - the United States at first ponies up $15 million for emergency aid (that's $10 million less than Alex Rodriguez' annual salary - he plays baseball. 100,000 people are dead), then raises it to $35 million.
-uses the opportunity to attack Bill Clinton. In the WaPo, via Josh Marshall:

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' " Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
These guys are just...so unbelievable. There's an opportunity to actually be human, and they first do nothing (Bush basically needed to be dragged to the podium for a statement today - he had said nothing until the time), and then approach it the only way they seem to be able to do anything: destroy the opposition. The opposition in this case being anyone who, I dunno, doesn't use this as an opportunity to point out how, in the light of tsunamis, we really need private accounts for Social Security.

I really can't express how disgusted I am right now - there's a gut-wrenching, act-of-God, awful tragedy that's happened and is still happening, and these motherfuckers just can't help but keep being motherfuckers.

Isn't it possible animals can just run faster?
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