Thursday, December 08, 2011

To build or not to build, that is the question.

I have made several visits to the tsunami devastated areas in Tohoku. The damages have been tremendous and heartbreaking. Now that the sorrow of lost lives and memories start to sink deep into the psyche, a hard question emerges.

To build or not to build, that is the question.

Historical records show that the area has been hit repeatedly by massive tsunamis in the past. Measures have been taken, including towering concrete walls to fend off the waves. While these precautions have helped to diminish and delay the effect of tsunami in some places, the size of the massive waves caused by the earthquake on 11th March meant many such walls were destroyed and/or overcome, with the water coming into the land with a brutal force.

The hardest choice to make now is whether to go ahead with rebuilding in the tsunami devastated areas. If it were not for the risk of tsunami, the seaside areas provide the most beautiful and comfortable living opportunities, with a convenient access to the sea for those people involved in fishery and related industries. On the other hand, the probabilities of future tsunami damages are understandably very real in people’s minds.

To complicate matters, no coastal area in Japan can be said to be safe from the threats of tsunami. Although the Tohoku area might stand out because of recent events, the possibility of a tsunami attack exist, both in theory and practice, throughout the land of Japan. Thus, making the choice of building and not building poses a hard question not only for people in Tohoku, but also for the rest of us all over Japan. It is a case where one’s philosophy of life is tested, on top of the probability estimates by seismology experts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Facebook and twitter.

I still cannot find a useful angle to come to terms with Facebook. I am not a heavy user. I should say I am perhaps not an active user at all, although certainly registered. Given the reported popularity of the service, it is a strange enigma, as I tend to embrace new web services.

It is not the problem of Facebook specifically. It is a common defect, in my view, of Social Network Services. Perhaps the problem is not for everyone. It is a problem just for me, and the likes of me.

There is too much cognitive load compared to the benefits. I don’t so much like to see my friends’ candid photos or their casual observations. Surely these things are nice, but there are other interesting matters in this world too.

The thing is, I much prefer the brutal and swift way that people (or rather, issues) are connected in twitter. There, you don’t have to submit or respond to a friend request. The connections and comments are made without the embarrassing diplomacy and niceties. It is all about memes, not personal relationships per se.

Thus, I find myself in the domain of minorities, while the rest of the world is apparently head over heals on Facebook.