Friday, February 25, 2011

2G's From A M6.3 Quake

"If the dart lands right on you":
[T]he highest ground acceleration recorded was greater than 2G, or twice the acceleration of gravity –- which would make Tuesday’s quake among the most powerful in terms of ground-shaking acceleration on record, said Hough. It was strong enough to throw objects in the air.

“There’s only a handful of records of shaking” as strong as 2G, Hough said. “That’s quite extreme shaking.… Some earthquakes just have stronger shaking that affects buildings.”

By contrast, the ground shaking in the 6.7 Northridge quake in 1994 was less, recorded at 1.7G, Hough said. Hough has estimated that the strongest ground shaking in Port-au-Prince in the Haiti earthquake in 2010 was only about 0.5G.

...Hough said Tuesday’s quake offers a lesson in humility to California, showing what can happen when a quake is centered so close to the city center and populated by dense structures, some relatively new, and some historic.

...Another question is how very tall buildings in California would fare in a big earthquake, particularly the long period of booming and shaking, roughly similar to the low tones in music. “We don’t have a lot of observations of how modern tall buildings will perform in really big earthquakes,” Hough said.

There are other buildings in California whose vulnerabilities in quakes are well-known, such as multi-unit condos and apartment buildings with tuck-under parking. They are vulnerable because their first floor lacks a wall that would help keep the building from toppling in a quake, Hough said.

Our Overlords Speak

Surrender now!:
“With the Left trying to intimidate the Koch brothers to back off of their support for freedom and signaling to others that this is what happens if you oppose the administration and its allies, we have no choice but to continue to fight,” says Richard Fink, the executive vice president of Koch Industries. “We will not step back at all. We firmly believe that economic freedom has benefited the overwhelming majority of society, including workers, who earn higher wages when you have open and free markets.

Breaking The Law In Christchurch; For Reasons Good And Bad

The good:
Pet owners are breaking through cordons to retrieve their animals, the SPCA says.

...The situation for animals has been "deteriorating because of time issues" and is forcing concerned animal owners to break through police cordons to search for their pets.

"That is really one of the common problems of why people break the cordon. It's not to go and do burglaries ... it's to go and retrieve their pets. We will be providing that pretty critical service."

..."We are not expecting a huge number of dogs but I am expecting a large number of cats. They will be strayed from the earthquake or strays whose colonies have been upset."

...Orana Wildlife Park marketing manager Nathan Hawke said there was no damage at the park near Christchurch Airport.

The animals were safe and well, although the primates and giraffes had been distressed by the quake. The park was likely to reopen on Monday.
The bad:
Owen Anthony Jackson, a 23-year-old fisherman and Jed Wilson-Calver, 22, unemployed, yesterday appeared in a makeshift courtroom at the Christchurch police station charged with stealing three $6000 generators powering roadside cabinets for 500 landline and broadband customers.

Shortly before Judge Michael Crosbie denied the men bail and remanded them in custody, he asked: "What would possess someone to do that? These are essential communications and there are people dying out there. That is the context we are in."

Judge Crosbie said that despite the city's dire circumstances there was food, water and shelter for people and no reason to resort to crime.

"Those who burgle, steal, loot or impersonate officials show they are capable of anything."

The men's appearance in court came after it emerged that missing Canterbury Television producer Donna Manning's home was burgled while her children anxiously waited for news of her.

There have also been reports of people impersonating officials such as aid workers and Earthquake Commission (EQC) staff, including one asking to see a resident's possessions so he could return to steal them.

...The two skin-headed men charged with the generator thefts made offensive hand gestures to court staff and media in the makeshift courtroom.

Mountaineering Skills Plus Equipment Cache Leads To Success!

Handiness with ropes and equipment, and a 9/11-related equipment cache, came in very handy!:
John Haynes saved the lives of 14 people when he lowered them to safety from the sixth floor of the Forsyth Barr building hours after Tuesday's quake.

The stairwell of the 17-storey building collapsed in the tremor, leaving 15 people stuck inside the swaying tower on the corner of Armagh and Colombo St.

Mr Haynes, a mountaineer, saw the only way out was for the trapped workers to be lowered 20m to a car park.

"We put it to them: there was a way out. If they wanted to come, they could.

"If they wanted to stay, they could stay," he told the Dominion Post newspaper.

"The building was going sideways, rocking, and then the stairs collapsed from the top to the bottom, leaving no obvious signs of getting out."

He told the 14 other trapped workers the only way out was out the window and down the side of the building and said he would go last.

"In my mind there was a danger the building could collapse; the other was of fire ... It became obvious we needed to get out."

Mr Haynes, an investigator for the Ombudsman, said that after 9/11, the building had been equipped with emergency supplies, including rope, sledge-hammers, axes and food.

The workers smashed the window and a man of "medium size" descended first to test the equipment.

Speculating About Very Shallow Earthquakes, The Greendale Fault, And The Halswell-Lyttelton Area

Andrew writes:
This news report mentions a very shallow quake (1 km!!) within 2 km of my house. I am in Queenstown so don’t know how that would have felt.

Do you know what the implication of such shallow earthquakes would be?

Friends in Diamond Harbour tell me today that there is no water now in the village, so water tankers are providing water. I think I will stay in Queenstown for a while! The office is closed until Wednesday anyway.

Best regards,
I reply:

I’m glad you are in Queenstown, and glad you have an office to return to! And it’s probably-best, under the circumstances, to be spared the rigors of your home base.

Since the Diamond Harbour aftershock was fairly-small, there probably won’t be any noticeable damage. Nevertheless, the shock was remarkably shallow! There was another, slightly-more-powerful, very shallow quake at Diamond Harbour on Thursday (3.5M; 07:23, 2 km depth). There have probably been plenty of others too.

This publication states:
Tectonic earthquakes at such shallow depths have rarely been confirmed in California (Fletcher and others, 1987; Frankel and others, 1986) and Nevada. A depth of 5 km is typically the upper limit of the “seismogenic zone,” the depth range where the lithostatic pressure from the weight of overlying rock is high enough, and the coefficient of friction is high enough, to stress the rocks to the level required for stick-slip faulting behavior.

Because the Rock Valley earthquakes are near the upper limit of the seismogenic zone, they are of fundamental interest for earthquake mechanics. At such low lithostatic stress values, the magnitude and orientation of the local tectonic stresses may play a particularly important role in generating shallow earthquakes.
Tectonic earthquakes are rarely observed at depths of less than 3 km. Sanders (1990) suggested that in southern California very shallow earthquakes are confined to relatively stable blocks between major fault zones, and that the major fault zones themselves do not usually include shallow events.
So, presumably such a shallow aftershock is being driven entirely by tectonic stress, not lithostatic pressure at all. Perhaps it also means that the block of rock is relatively-stable. So, relatively-stable rock subjected entirely to tectonic stress, and breaking as a result.

It is interesting that the Greendale Fault (the surface expression of the tectonic stress) has yet to make an appearance in the Halswell/Lyttelton area. At first, I thought it might be because Halswell seems to be a kind of basin with lots of unconsolidated sediment, and that the fault was just being obscured by the sediment, but maybe it’s that the rock is more-resistant to breakage in the Halswell/Lyttelton area. Maybe because it’s volcanic rock. Like a porcelain plate breaking in slow motion, that Greendale Fault is probably extending eastwards, and will make an appearance at the surface over the next few thousand years in the Lyttelton area. Some of the aftershocks are now offshore, to the east, so the faulting may eventually extend there too.

It would be nice to know more about the geologic history of the Lyttelton Harbour area. I was always casually puzzled as to why Lyttelton Bay exists. It doesn’t seem to be an estuary, or connected to a river system. I thought maybe there were two calderas associated with the Banks Peninsula: first, the main one associated with Akaroa Bay, and a second, smaller one associated with Governor’s Bay, and the entire complex was highly-eroded over time. That’s sort-of how it looks to me. But it bothers me that the Greendale Fault is parallel to the axis of Lyttelton Bay. Is it coincidence, or is the expression of something more significant? I don’t know.

According to Wikipedia:
Banks Peninsula forms the most prominent volcanic feature of the South Island. Geologically, the peninsula comprises the eroded remnants of two large composite shield volcanoes (Lyttelton formed first, then Akaroa). These formed due to intraplate volcanism between approximately eleven and eight million years ago (Miocene) on a continental crust. The peninsula formed as offshore islands, with the volcanoes reaching to about 1,500 m above sea level. Two dominant craters formed Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours.
Then, there is this regarding September's Darfield quake:
The eastern tip of the fault is also creeping slowly, suggesting it is possible that the subsurface extent of the Greendale Fault extends further to the east then the surface rupture.
Dr. Campbell has written an excellent lay summary:
The pattern of aftershocks following Tuesday's big jolt has revealed yet another previously unidentified active fault. This is the culprit that has ruptured within the earth's crust and which has given rise to the intense seismic shaking in the Christchurch region. However, it may also be thought of as a valve that has enabled pent-up energy to be released. In many ways faults actually focus and channel energy.

It has ruptured over a length of about 17km on a near vertical plane slightly inclined to the south and between 3 and 12km in depth. It is more or less parallel to the E-W trending Greendale Fault that ruptured in the Darfield Earthquake. It may be thought of as an eastern extension but it is clearly dislocated from the trend of the Greendale fault and stepped to the south.

...East-west faults in Canterbury are relatively unfamiliar to geologists. Most active faults in New Zealand are sub-parallel to the plate boundary that is they trend northeast-southwest.

However, if you take away Banks Peninsula (extinct Miocene volcanos that erupted between 10 and 6 million years ago) and the gravels of the Canterbury Plains, the underlying geology is essentially that of the western end of the Chatham Rise. And the Chatham Rise is riddled with old east-west oriented faults. So maybe the current plate motion is exploiting old faults within the earth's crust at depth, causing them to fail.
I was trying to envision the movement along the Greendale Fault, and the best analogy I could come with is a Tilt-A-Whirl.

Picture the Canterbury Plains (which is carrying the City Of Christchurch) as one of the cars rotating counterclockwise here – preferably one of the cars moving to the left, on the far side of the Tilt-A-Whirl (mimicking the movement of the Pacific Plate as it moves westwards to collide with the Australian Plate). The Greendale Fault is the visible portion of the circular base upon which the car sits.

As the car rotates, the circular base of the car slips to the right of the observer.

Similarly, as viewed from Diamond Harbour, the City of Christchurch slips to the right (and vice-versa: as seen from Christchurch, Diamond Harbour seems to slip to the right).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Deborah McMillion Nering - Recent iArt, Fall 2010

David Petraeus Ventures Too Close To Monster Country

The surest indicator that you are dealing with an inhuman monster is when the subject starts arguing that random victims arranged their own deaths in order to cast disrepute on the subject's cause. Slobodan Milosevic argued in this manner - heck, every real tyrant in history argues in this manner eventually. Yet the argument is always false: to my knowledge, such an event has never occurred in human history, and probably never will. So, no matter what the cause, or when in human history, such an argument is the surest and most reliable sign that the subject really is a monster.

It is most-unfortunate that David Petraeus is either joining this disreputable crowd, or got close enough that reasonable people can disagree regarding what he said. It can only add fuel to the fire, so to speak. When it comes to matters of life-and-death, diplomatic skill is important:
Afghan officials say the strike killed nearly 50 women and children, in addition to 16 insurgents. The International Security Assistance Force said its weapons system video showed that 36 insurgents carrying weapons were killed.

According to the Washington Post, Petraeus addressed the issue during a meeting with Afghan officials Sunday at the presidential palace. The newspaper cited unnamed Afghan officials in the meeting as saying Petraeus said parents may have purposely burned their children to make it seem like they were victims of the U.S. air strikes.

Petraeus said no such thing, according to a statement from the top ISAF spokesman in Afghanistan, Rear Adm. Greg Smith.

"At a Sunday NSC (National Security Council) meeting, General Petraeus never said children's hands and feet were purposely burned by their families in order to create a civilian casualty event. Rather, he said the injuries to the children appeared inconsistent with the types of munitions used," Smith said in a statement.

He said Petraeus did say in the meeting that he had an idea how the children were burned. "The burns to their hands and feet may have been the result of discipline sometimes handed out to Afghan children. Regrettably this is customary among some Afghan fathers as a way of dealing with children who misbehave."

"There are periodic reports of children being disciplined in a manner that would produce such burns," the statement added.

Harry Reid Wants To Terminate Legal Prostitution In Nevada

It's no surprise, really, that Harry Reid wants to end prostitution. According to all biographical evidence (such as this profile in the New Yorker), Harry Reid has personal reasons to hate brothels; plus, he's a Mormon too, and there is no love lost there.

Nevertheless, the brothels of Nevada are endangered on many fronts, and always have been. Whenever communities in Nevada grow to a certain size, the 'good people' band together and force the 'bad people' out. Prostitution is already illegal in Washoe (Reno) and Clark (Las Vegas) Counties. As Nevada towns grow, the ban will likely extend to more and more counties.

Nevertheless, most of these counties are amazingly devoid of people. Most counties are utterly-dependent on brothels to fund basic services like police, fire, and schools. As long as they have no choice in the matter, prostitution is likely to stay legal.

But Harry Reid knows all this already, and has known it all his life. Which is interesting why he brings the subject up right now at all. He is stepping into the role of an elder statesman:
Reid told the assembled lawmakers that he met recently with a group of business leaders who run data centers for technology companies. They visited Storey County in search of a new location for their businesses but “one of the businessmen in that meeting told me he simply couldn’t believe that one of the biggest businesses in the county he was considering for his new home has legal prostitution.”

..."We should do everything we can to make sure the world holds Nevada in the same high regard you and I do," Reid continued. "If we want to attract business to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution."

...Reaction to Reid's remarks was mixed, with most elected officials saying any decision on whether to ban it is best left to the rural counties.

...Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said "let the counties decide" whether they want prostitution. "Some counties have put it on the ballot," he said.

His district includes some of the rural Nevada counties that have brothels. His home county of Churchill has approved brothels, but none have located there so far.

Reid opened his speech Tuesday talking about his time in the Nevada Assembly with future U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan. He also defended the federal stimulus and TARP as successes that prevented further damage to Nevada’s economy.

Solar Project Heritage-Impact Concerns

No matter how empty a place may seem, it has a history, with people connected to it:
The image of Cicimiti, more detectable from the sky than on foot, is just one of many geoglyphs, Native American burial sites and ancient relics that Figueroa says are threatened by solar projects being fast-tracked near Blythe and other remote expanses in the Southern California desert.

"There's no way these people can circumvent all the sacred sites out here, and no way to fix it when the damage is done," said Figueroa, 77. "How can you mitigate Mother Earth?"

The Native American group La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, which Figueroa founded, has joined with environmentalists in a federal lawsuit to block six mammoth solar projects approved by the Department of the Interior.

The projects targeted include BrightSource Energy's 3,600-acre solar facility in San Bernardino County's Ivanpah Valley, where work began in October, and Solar Millennium's proposed 5,900-acre solar thermal project eight miles west of Blythe, abutting the geoglyph-covered mesa.

The lawsuit, filed in December, accuses the Bureau of Land Management of fast-tracking the solar projects without the required environmental review and without consulting with Native American tribes that oversee the preservation of sites with religious and cultural significance. The federal agency disregarded its formal agreement to consult with La Cuna to protect sacred sites that may be affected by projects on bureau-controlled lands, Figueroa said.

Cory Briggs, lead attorney for the groups that filed the lawsuit, said the Obama administration raced to approve solar projects in California before the Dec. 31 deadline for economic-stimulus funding. The stimulus package offered generous subsidies for renewable energy projects approved before the deadline.

Officials with the California Energy Commission acknowledged the difficulty of preventing effects on sacred sites in its final decision approving the Blythe project, saying that "given the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act deadlines, Commission and BLM staff have not had time to provide a detailed evaluation of each resource" that could be eligible for protection.

...Along with Figueroa's organization, the lawsuit was filed by the environmental group Californians for Renewable Energy and seven Native American individuals. The other bureau-approved projects being challenged are: the Imperial Valley Solar facility, the Calico Solar Project; the Chevron Energy Solutions solar facility in the Lucerne Valley, and the Genesis Solar Energy Project west of Blythe.

..."I was out in the desert near Ivanpah as a kid. It already looks different, with cable and gas lines and roads crisscrossing the land," said protester Phil Smith, 73, who grew up in the desert near the Ivanpah project.

"There are things out there still, our way of believing and our way of life, and they're getting destroyed."

Ambulance Officer Report

Trying to help but faced with insuperable difficulties:
It took me 45 minutes to travel the 7km into the city. Got to the station. It was condemned, inundated with over a foot of mud.

Went off to the triage centre in Latimer Square.

Bodies were being piled up in one corner . . . I was given a patient . . . she'd fallen from the top of the CTV building to the ground.

After a nightmare drive to hospital, we returned to Latimer Square . . . I became a triage officer deciding who was saveable and who wasn't. At the same time the CTV building was burning just in front of me.

...People were dragged out, carried out on doors, on shutters. Most injuries were severe, massive crush injuries.

...One held a man, gave him his cellphone so he could ring his wife. He told her he loved her, then he died. Another colleague was faced with a horribly entrapped man. There is no way he could be saved while we watched on hopelessly and helplessly and he slipped away through his horrible suffering.

Our first patient brought out was a beautiful 20-year-old girl whose spine had been shattered. She was contorted horribly and was paralysed. She was in irreversible shock and lost consciousness as we went. I fought so hard with a surgeon to keep her alive. She didn't make it.

Our last patient had been pinned for some time by his legs. Crews . . . did every damn thing they could do to get him out. In the end a surgeon had to amputate both his legs.

We waited desperately to get him into the vehicle. I drove as fast as I could on appalling roads that we could later not return on. He died as we arrived in hospital.

In the meantime, another man had been pinned by his legs by a massive beam. We arranged to uplift all the necessary drugs to prevent crush syndrome. When we returned to him he was gone.

The rain started. We were replaced. I wanted to stay but by now was working purely automatically. I returned to sign out and got taken back to my car which was now surrounded by liquefaction. I don't really want to live in Christchurch any more . . .

Christchurch Cathedral Agony

Left: In 2008 - happier times....

The victims are still there, but for the moment the priority is elsewhere:

As many as 22 tourists are thought to be buried in the rubble of Christ Church Cathedral and its spire.

..."The woman who got out about one minute before the tower came down said there were people up there behind her when the tower came down.

...Jamie Canard was eating lunch and watching people play a game on the giant chess set in the city square when the quake hit.

He watched the spire crumble.

"As soon as it fell, I knew people would be dead."

The 38-year-old programmer ran into the cloud of dust created by the collapsed spire to try to help those who were trapped or injured.

But someone yelled: "Leave! Get out! It's not safe."

He said he knew people would be buried under the rubble, but couldn't see anyone.

"I now feel like a fool leaving, now that I know people died trapped in there."

...Although Bishop Matthews said those inside were likely to be tourists, anyone could have been in there.

"Because it was iconic and they would have been in there for a number of reasons, just to go and see it or to come and pray, or perhaps for the noon Eucharist."

...The cathedral has until now attracted about 700,000 visitors a year and climbing the 134 steps of its bell-tower was one of the most popular of the many activities it had to offer.

The tower was 36m high and the spire rose 27m above that.

...Much of Christchurch was built around the cathedral, which was conceived of soon after the first four ships of European settlers arrived in 1850.

Its foundation stone was laid in 1864, and it was eventually completed in 1904 at a cost of £64,000.

Although it was designed according to the tradition of European cathedrals, ceiling timbers of matai and totara from Banks Peninsula, stone from local quarries and Polynesian art works gave it a strong cross-cultural identity.

Christchurch Street Scene Immediately After Quake

Interesting video. At 3:13, and again at 3:45, are places that even I, as a tourist, recognize. From Salon:
Videographer Logan McMillan reached for his camera as soon as the shaking stopped and captured this amazing footage of the 6.3 magnitude earthquate that struck Christchurch, New Zealand on Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Tax Dollars At Work

And tell me again why we are worried about overpaid government workers when it's the politically-connected contractors who are the trouble?:
Mr. Montgomery’s former lawyer, Michael Flynn — who now describes Mr. Montgomery as a “con man” — says he believes that the administration has been shutting off scrutiny of Mr. Montgomery’s business for fear of revealing that the government has been duped.

“The Justice Department is trying to cover this up,” Mr. Flynn said. “If this unravels, all of the evidence, all of the phony terror alerts and all the embarrassment comes up publicly, too. The government knew this technology was bogus, but these guys got paid millions for it.”

...The software he patented — which he claimed, among other things, could find terrorist plots hidden in broadcasts of the Arab network Al Jazeera; identify terrorists from Predator drone videos; and detect noise from hostile submarines — prompted an international false alarm that led President George W. Bush to order airliners to turn around over the Atlantic Ocean in 2003.

...C.I.A. officials, though, came to believe that Mr. Montgomery’s technology was fake in 2003, but their conclusions apparently were not relayed to the military’s Special Operations Command, which had contracted with his firm. In 2006, F.B.I. investigators were told by co-workers of Mr. Montgomery that he had repeatedly doctored test results at presentations for government officials. But Mr. Montgomery still landed more business.

In 2009, the Air Force approved a $3 million deal for his technology, even though a contracting officer acknowledged that other agencies were skeptical about the software, according to e-mails obtained by The New York Times.

Hints of fraud by Mr. Montgomery, previously raised by Bloomberg Markets and Playboy, provide a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of government contracting. A Pentagon study in January found that it had paid $285 billion in three years to more than 120 contractors accused of fraud or wrongdoing.

...With the help of Representative Jim Gibbons, a Republican who would become Nevada’s governor and was a longtime friend of Mr. Trepp’s, the company won the attention of intelligence officials in Washington. It did so with a remarkable claim: Mr. Montgomery had found coded messages hidden in broadcasts by Al Jazeera, and his technology could decipher them to identify specific threats.

...In December 2003, Mr. Montgomery reported alarming news: hidden in the crawl bars broadcast by Al Jazeera, someone had planted information about specific American-bound flights from Britain, France and Mexico that were hijacking targets.

C.I.A. officials rushed the information to Mr. Bush, who ordered those flights to be turned around or grounded before they could enter American airspace.

“The intelligence people were telling us this was real and credible, and we had to do something to act on it,” recalled Asa Hutchinson, who oversaw federal aviation safety at the time. Senior administration officials even talked about shooting down planes identified as targets because they feared that supposed hijackers would use the planes to attack the United States, according to a former senior intelligence official who was at a meeting where the idea was discussed. The official later called the idea of firing on the planes “crazy.”

French officials, upset that their planes were being grounded, commissioned a secret study concluding that the technology was a fabrication. Presented with the findings soon after the 2003 episode, Bush administration officials began to suspect that “we got played,” a former counterterrorism official said.

The C.I.A. never did an assessment to determine how a ruse had turned into a full-blown international incident, officials said, nor was anyone held accountable. In fact, agency officials who oversaw the technology directorate — including Donald Kerr, who helped persuade George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, that the software was credible — were promoted, former officials said. “Nobody was blamed,” a former C.I.A. official said. “They acted like it never happened.”

Born This Way - Lady Gaga 2/19/11

Predator - The Musical


Homeless, But Still Miss Colorado

Awkward place for a beauty queen.

Experts Surprised By Quake's Destructiveness

Surprising levels of destruction, and lessons for California too:
Based on initial observations and reports, Ingham said he believed this quake was very different from the previous one he studied. Although it had a lower magnitude, it occurred closer to the city, and ground acceleration was much higher. And though most of the damage last time occurred to unreinforced-masonry buildings, many modern buildings were damaged Tuesday, Ingham said.

“Our instinct is that this exceeded the loads that even the modern buildings were designed for. We are almost certain,” said Ingham, who is an associate professor of civil engineering. “The assumption is that an earthquake of this size would have caused damage in any modern city anywhere.”

...“The thing that will attract a very large amount of attention from people all over the world is the performance of the modern buildings that have been designed to current standards that still received damage,” Ingham said. “At least in the city center, almost every building suffered some sort of damage.”

Ingham noted in previous research that, compared with other cities and towns in New Zealand, Christchurch had taken a more passive approach to updating its building codes. He said that about half of all the buildings in Christchurch were unreinforced masonry.

Many of the older buildings were completely destroyed Tuesday, he said. He believes a greater portion of the modern buildings will be recoverable.

“With some modern buildings ... there will be cosmetic damage," he said, "but the structural integrity is still OK.”

Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, said Tuesday’s quake also provided a reminder that the most destructive quake can be an aftershock to the main quake. Aftershocks since the September main quake, which was centered in rural farmland, have been moving eastward in recent months, closer to Christchurch.

“Earthquakes don’t happen individually, but in sequences. We have to be prepared that when we get large earthquakes in California that we recognize that that means the seismic hazard has gone up, not down. One earthquake does not mean the end of story,” Jordan said.

...Christchurch was devastated in large part because of the shallowness of the quake and the fact that the strongest shaking occurred precisely in the downtown area of one of New Zealand’s oldest cities. “It’s really the fact that you had a lot of buildings very close to the very strongest hypocenter," Jordan said, "which means the strongest shaking was right there in town."

A Modern City Momentarily Transformed Into A Cemetery

Left: A panorama of dust from collapsing masonry chokes the air shortly after the quake.

A light year beyond the prosperous city I saw in 2008. Raw sewage down the Avon. Incomprehensible, but that's what earthquakes do.

So, apparently the CTV Building is now a tomb:
Hope is fading for hundreds of people missing for a second night after the Christchurch earthquake, as authorities fear more teetering buildings could collapse overnight.

Although 120 survivors were pulled from the wreckage during the first night, more than 300 people are still unaccounted for. The number of confirmed fatalities stood at 75 last night.

One victim was a nine-month-old boy killed when a television fell on him during the magnitude 6.3 shake.

The death toll is expected to rise further - it does not include more than 100 people inside the smouldering remains of the Canterbury Television building. Last night, the CTV building collapse was described as "100 per cent unsurvivable".

...Authorities last night feared more buildings would fall, including the Grand Chancellor Hotel, at 26 storeys the tallest building in the city. If it didn't collapse, officials said it would have to be demolished.

...The energy from the earthquake created the greatest ground acceleration in New Zealand history, said Dr Hamish Campbell of GNS Science.

"No wonder so many stone churches were destroyed. They are simply not designed to be thrown up in the air and then go into freefall."

More than 20 people were believed to have died inside the 130-year-old Christchurch Cathedral.

Last night, more than 40 police cordons were in place around the city. Police also evacuated two streets in seaside suburb Sumner, threatened by unstable hillsides.

Superintendent Dave Cliff imposed a 6.30pm curfew in downtown Christchurch. Anyone found there would be automatically arrested after six people were caught looting earlier.

...Corrections Minister Judith Collins said Rolleston Prison would be emptied to free up 320 beds for Cantabrians.

Outside the CBD, authorities warned of the risk of landslides and rockfalls near the quake's epicentre in Lyttelton. Falling boulders cut through a home and killed two people in the nearby Port Hills.

Liquefaction affected much of the suburb of Bexley, water bubbling up through cracked streets. Some sinkholes are as big as a truck.

Power has been restored to most of Christchurch but around 80 per cent of the city was without water. More than 200,000 litres of water was brought in by Fonterra by rail, with a number of supermarkets also opening their doors after escaping unscathed.

Siesmologist Explains Aftershock Progression

Video noting the eastward progression of shocks (and making one wonder what the hell is going on underground that such a discontinuous ripping process is necessary).

Lyttelton Photos

The Lyttelton photos that are now coming out are alarming.

Caption: A petrol tanker sits abandoned on Sumner Rd, one of the main trunk routes into Lyttelton township. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Some of the roads and trails into Lyttelton are quite steep. Two people were killed just on the trails, by falling rocks.

Caption: Damaged buildings in Lyttelton after the 6.3 quake, Christchurch. Photo / NZPA

It's so weird to see a ruined building with the lights on.

Rain is evident too. Before the earthquake, I had seen the strong cold front approaching the South Island on the weather animations, and thought it would be particularly welcome during the dry summer season. Instead, the storm complicated rescue efforts.

Caption: The Timeball Station is wrecked. The iconic building is on the hill above Lyttelton township. Photo / Sarah Ivey

These earthquakes have done immense damage to picturesque buildings with historical significance.

Paranoia At The Creation Museum

Instead of referring to the man's "date" they should have referred to the man's "imam", and then start a comedy sketch going by confusing that with the man's "mom":
The Creation Museum in Petersberg, Ky. denied a "same-sex couple" entry to a date-night event on Feb. 11. But the "couple" wasn't actually gay.

Here's what happened. When Jonathan Meador, his girlfriend and Brandon Absher approached the entrance to the event, they were stopped at the door.

Meador -- a writer for the LEO Weekly in Kentucky -- told TPM that security guards were suspicious that a group of three showed up for a couples' "Date Night." They asked the group where the other date was, wondering what type of car "she" drove, Meador said.

Meador told security that Absher's partner's name was Joe, and that he would be joining them shortly.

"For all they could have known, they could have thought (he's a) business partner," Meador said. "They assumed Brandon and Joe [Sonka] were a same-sex couple."

Meador told TPM that security personnel said a homosexual couple wouldn't be allowed in, as it would disturb the event for others. He said that he told security there had been a misunderstanding, and that the two men were not, in fact, a homosexual couple -- but they didn't accept his explanation.

Creation Museum spokesman Mark Looy referred TPM's questions to the museum's press release, which said that event organizers were expecting a "flamboyantly" gay couple to crash the event, as Sonka -- a progressive blogger -- had written a post encouraging the idea. But Meador says Sonka was simply left without a date when she canceled on him at the last minute, and Absher's addition to the group was mere coincidence.

...Among Meador and Sonka's qualms with the Creation Museum -- and its parent company, Answers in Genesis -- is a proposed "Creationist Theme Park" slated to be built in Kentucky by the same company. The park has received preliminary approval for tax incentives, which would could subsidize up to 25 percent of the project by returning the sales tax on costs such as food, admission and gift sales.

Demonstrating Solidarity With Wisconsin Union Workers

Too much news going on for a blogger to keep up with!

Before heading off to musical theater rehearsal yesterday evening, I made a quick stop at the State Capitol to see the big demonstration there and demonstrate solidarity with the folks in Wisconsin.

Since the demonstration concerned events in Wisconsin rather than California, it seemed more good-humored than most. The demonstration was somewhat-smaller than either the Prop. 8 gay counter-demonstration of November 2008, or either of the two most-recent April 15th Tea Party rallies at the same location. The PA system was woefully-inadequate for such a large audience, and so two rings of demonstrators were evident: those clustered tightly around the speakers to hear what they were saying, and everyone else, who relaxed on the periphery and met with friends to swap stories and share camaraderie. Most people were smiling and in good spirits.

According the Sacramento Bee:
About 2,500 public employees gathered Tuesday evening at the state Capitol in Sacramento, their minds 2,000 miles away with counterparts in Madison, Wis.

They assembled in solidarity with government workers in the Badger State fighting its newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP-majority Legislature's plan to limit public employee unions' bargaining power.

..."Two weeks ago, what seemed utterly impossible politically is now becoming public policy," said Ebenstein, who is also a UC Santa Barbara economist. "If it can happen in Wisconsin and Ohio, it can happen in California."

Returning from the demonstration, and passing through the K Street Mall while carrying my green AFSCME "It's About Freedom!" sign at my side, I was accosted by two young women, who asked that I hold my sign up so they could read what it said. They smiled and shouted "It's About Freedom!", whooped loudly, and headed off to the State Capitol to join their friends.

My Sense Of Vertigo Is Slowly Dissipating

I think what happened was that I wasn't taking enough of the potassium chloride (KCl - potash) pills that accompany the BP pills. The doctor prescribed three a day; I often take just two, and I guess over time I start running a potassium deficit.

Before, I've noticed the onset of a weird sense of unreality when KCl intake flags, like I'm looking at life through the end of a long tube (similar to looking at life just through the Internet, or just through TV), but now I guess I can add a sense of vertigo too. A sense of unreality is the perfect accompaniment to the blogger, and I think that explains some of the nonsense bloggers produce, particularly on the Right.

What's The GOP's Problem With Unions Anyway?

Indiana's Deputy Attorney General Calls For "Live Ammunition"

Like I mentioned last week, the GOP wants to emulate Gaddhafi and get violent with Democrats and other citizens. If the GOP acts on this feeling, we'll be only too happy to return the favor.

The GOP in Wisconsin seems to confuse bold assertion of citizen rights with threats of violence. If they lash out because they can't be bothered with getting the facts straight, they deserve condemnation:
This week, a Mother Jones editor named Adam Weinstein got into a Twitter tête à tête with an Indiana lawyer who called on riot police in Madison to use "live ammunition" to clear protesters out of the state Capitol.

It turned out that lawyer, Jeff Cox, is a deputy attorney general in the state.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Libyans Make Heartfelt Plea

Today is "off the hook" with news happening everywhere.

Going to lunch, no demonstration at 16th & J streets. Returning from lunch, suddenly I'm surrounded by sobbing women. I never knew there was such a large Libyan community in Sacramento.

Col. Gadhaffi's wanton use of military force against unarmed civilians is evil. The Colonel has to GO - now!

"Guys And Dolls" - DMTC - Monday Night Rehearsal

(First rehearsal working with costumes)


The Courier-Mail has an interesting before-and-after comparison of Christchurch pictures.

Lyttelton Is A Mess

Every second building in the historic town where Robert Scott based his Antarctic expedition:
Lyttelton, the pretty port village that proudly proclaims itself as the gateway to Christchurch, has been devastated by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand's second largest city just before 1pm on Tuesday.

Every second building on the town's main street has been severely damaged, with cordons closing off one block considered uninhabitable.

...The on-the-ground assessment is the first one since a windy road into the seafarers' settlement was re-opened early on Wednesday morning. Main access through a road tunnel under the Port Hills was cut off after the quake and remains closed.

...The town had also lost two men, one elderly and another young. Dawson said they were walking on a mountain track when they were hit by falling rocks.

..."We'll rebuild. Of course, we will. We're resilient people, we're Cantabrians, you know. And we've got a World Cup to look forward to," he said with a laugh.
and then there's this:
The port of Lyttelton, which has many old buildings, was one of the worst-affected areas. "Lyttelton has been badly hit," writer Joe Bennett said.

"It just came on like a bastard but it didn't last too long.

"The Empire Hotel was tottering after the first quake and they propped it up brilliantly with big girders – but now the two end walls have fallen down.

"The Volcano restaurant at first glance looks doomed, and the delicatessen opposite.

"Our little theatre, The Loons, which has been going great guns for three years, has one side wall severely damaged.

"It's like a post-war scene. People, women in particular, are walking around like ghost figures, like zombies. There's a lot of people for whom this is the last straw. You couldn't help but stop to give them a hug and cigarettes.

...Diamond Harbour Store owner Gay Edwards said historic Godley House in Diamond Harbour, opposite Lyttelton across the harbour, had fallen to pieces. "I would say it's finished this time," she said. "It's dreadful."

Andrew's OK, But May Face Challenges

Morning correspondence with Andrew:
Hi Marc,

I am in Australia this week so don’t know what my house may have experienced but if you copy the co-ordinates of these earthquakes and put into Google Maps, they are all VERY close to Diamond Harbour!

You don’t want to be there – with aftershocks every 20 minutes or so, it is horrible. I didn’t sleep at all with the Sept 4 event and its aftershocks. They settle down after a couple of weeks but initially it is horrible. How on earth some experts can say these are aftershocks from the Sept 4 event is beyond me. This is a new event, not an aftershock. It therefore has its own new aftershocks. How do I know it is a new event? Because the Sept 4 event had 4000 aftershocks which decreased rapidly with time and last week there were very few, if any, aftershocks. Then a new event occurred on Feb 22 in a new location – i.e. a new fault line which was not previously known. This fault line seems to be right below Lyttelton, Diamond Harbour etc.

Is an extinct volcano about to blow???!!!! I hope not!!


Scary. The epicenter of the 6.3 shock was only about 5.4 km from your house. In addition to the City Center, Lyttelton suffered too. I heard a brief radio report saying Lyttelton ‘looked like it had been bombed’. I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be good.

This pattern of quakes, that are more-or-less aligned with the Greendale fault, with the shallower quakes at the eastern end in the vicinity of Lyttelton, revealed itself as early as October, 2010. Yesterday’s quakes seem consistent with that. In the global picture, calling these February quakes aftershocks of the Sept. 4th quake seems reasonable.

I don’t know whether volcanism is in the immediate future for Christchurch. I suspect not. It takes years for magma to make its way up and the volcanologists should have spotted the magma body a long time ago if it was there. Nevertheless, sitting on the flanks of the Banks Peninsula, with a volcanic past plainly visible in all directions, perhaps a bit of paranoia on the question is understandable. And times change, of course. (The city that really needs to watch out is Auckland. Rangitoto Island in Auckland Harbour formed only about 500 years ago, within Maori storytelling memory, and there’s no reason they couldn’t get another volcano, anytime).

Keeping prayers out for you, and for all of the people of Christchurch, and vicinity. You may be faced with some serious challenges when you return. Friends can help. Let me know; I can make myself available.


The Most Amusing Memo Of All Time

Christchurch Calamity

Just before tonight's "Guys and Dolls" rehearsal, I noticed I had received a call from Sally. I placed a quick call and learned of today's powerful quake. I wasn't able to look into it further until much later.

This quake, while less powerful than the Sept. 4th quake, may well have been shallower, with it's epicenter in populated areas, and thus more destructive. Plus, this quake occurred in the middle of the day, with people everywhere on the streets.

I heard a brief radio report describing the town of Lyttelton as looking as if it had been bombed. For me, this is terrifying news, since Andrew lives only about three miles away, across the water, in Diamond Harbour. The streets in Lyttelton are quite steep in places. Was there a landslide? Liquefaction? They say Lyttelton Tunnel is closed. How badly damaged is it?

More questions than answers now...


The last two days, I've been uncomfortable. My head has been spinning and spinning. I have high blood pressure, but I'm current with my meds, so I don't really know what's up. Just worried about being dizzy and doing tech week for "Guys and Dolls" at the same time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

And So It Starts! Kylie Minogue "On A Night Like This" - Aphrodite Les Folies Tour

Jenifer Foote Visits DMTC

Left: DMTC Co-producer Jan Isaacson (left), with Jenifer Foote.

Yesterday, DMTC received a special treat -a visit from a special alumnus: Jenifer Foote!

Jenifer is in-between shows ('Rock of Ages' and 'Follies'), was visiting Sacramento, and dropped in (with her mom) to tour DMTC's new theater, and to share reminisces.

Jenifer Foote started theater at DMTC when she was a seven-year-old girl. Here is a listing of her roles in the seven years she was at DMTC (before moving on to Music Circus and other venues).

Here is her page at IBDB. As you can see, she's done good!

Tropical Cyclone Atu

Forecasts suggest that Atu, currently near Vanuatu, will approach uncomfortably close to New Zealand's North Island - enough to make the surf pound.

Interestingly, Tropical Cyclone Carlos, currently thrashing Australia's northwest coast, after weakening, may pass near Perth. It's always so damned dry for them these days. That would be welcome!

Can The Wisconsin Protests Start Turning Back The Tide?

Much of American politics is a sort of Kabuki play, with guerilla-warfare-like feints, attacks, and counterattacks. The events seem dire at the time, but often aren't, quite.

The events in Wisconsin are different, though: The Republicans went straight for the jugular. The events there have NOTHING to do with budget deficits, and EVERYTHING to do with breaking the Democratic Party:

Walker's proposal doesn't apply to all public sector unions in the state. Broadly speaking it targets unions that consistently support Democrats (teachers and other public employees) and exempts those that are often more friendly to Republican candidates (police and firefighters).
Everyone realizes this has nothing to do with the budget:
The latest out of Wisconsin is that the two big public employee unions say they're willing to accept the givebacks contained in Gov. Walker's budget. Apparently all of them. But they refuse to budge on their collective bargaining rights. They say this has been their position all along.
Apparently handing out power plants to rich friends is also in the cards:
[T]he department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state.
Enable Walker, and you enable corruption on a vast scale!

The French press sees better than anyone:
MADISON, Wisconsin — Republican attempts to disband public workers unions in Wisconsin and other key states are part of a broad strategy to undermine US President Barak Obama and his Democrats at the ballot box, analysts said.

Unions have been the biggest sources of financial and grass roots, get-out-the-vote organizational support for Democrats and have long been a target of business-backed Republicans.

...The move to bust public unions is part of a broader attempt "to bring us closer to a more permanent Republican majority," said Marjorie Hershey, a political science professor at Indiana University.

Republicans won a major victory last year when the Supreme Court overturned a ban on corporate spending in elections.

The flood of new money -- $190 million by conservative groups compared with $94 million from liberals -- helped propel Republicans to win back the House of Representatives and make major gains at the state level in November's mid-term election.

The state-level gains will have far-reaching implications as legislators undertake the once-a-decade task of redrawing political maps in accordance with new census figures, a highly partisan process.

In the winner-take-all, essentially two-party US political system, creating a district where just 55 percent of voters support one party is usually all it takes to guarantee a win.

...Curtailing collective bargaining rights for public workers unions will essentially cut them off at the knees and that will have significant consequences for Democrats, said John Brehm, a political science professor at the University of Chicago.
It's hard-to-believe some people don't see this as purely a partisan attack, and think that appeasing the Republicans will help in some way, but appeasment rarely works for very long.

Those Democratic legislators who left the state need to stay absolutely gone for as long as it takes!

Kelsey B Talks About "Beauty Queen"

Japanese Folk Dancing On The Weekend

Sakura Minyo Do Ko Kai (Japanese Folk Song & Dance Society) of Sacramento performed at the Sacramento Buddhist Church on February 19, 2011.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pain Of Disco

I like Noel's suggestion; Dard-E-Disco is easier for a Westerner to grasp than Mr. Ando's identity crisis.

Saturday Activities

Saturday started early: step aerobics and musical theater dance class.

Sally wanted me to come over to the Sacramento Buddhist Church at Riverside and X streets to see her Japanese dance group perform. I showed up late: about 2:00 p.m.

I was a bit baffled at first: instead of an open front door, there was a talkative homeless person in a sleeping bag camped in front of the building. I wondered whether the event was being held somewhere else, then realized everyone was using side doors to get to the festivities.

I caught the last two dances, as well as some of the singing afterwards (the woman in the photo at left had unusually-good diction). I'll post those dances shortly.

I'm not sure what the occasion was, but Day of Remembrance activities (in honor of the Japanese interned in WWII have been underway lately).

Afterwards, DMTC, and dinner at Golden Corral, and blogging, and writing bills, etc.