Palin Wins Landslide Victory And White House; Vows New Era In White House
Washington, D.C. (AP) ~ Republican Presidential candidate Sarah Palin shocked the country and the world by winning the 2012 Presidential election, soundly defeating President Obama in the popular vote and the electoral college yesterday. In an election campaign that has polarized the United States, the one time outsider took the mantle of the Presidency despite the predictions of pundits and pollsters, who had her well back of the popular Democrat. Supporters of the President-elect across the nation came out in droves, voting and gathering in rallies. Palin herself was with her husband and children in Wasilla, Alaska, watching the returns through the evening. She addressed a gathering of supporters in her home town after media outlets began to call the election in her favour.
"Gosh, golly, I feel good," the President-elect started. "We went out there and we got the vote out and we rigged the election and we came out on top, you betcha! Now I'm the President! Wooo! You know, all those people who are in disbelief right now, God love 'em, well, they'll just have to get used to hearing those three magic words: President Sarah Palin. And in my first order of business, I'm going to have Levi Johnston arrested and thrown into Guantanamo for fifty years. Knock my daughter up, will he? Not when the Mama Grizzly is running things! Then I'm going to drop some nukes on Moscow and China and Paris and Iran and Syria, show 'em who's boss, God bless 'em. Then I'm going to have Congress disbanded. Then I'm going to have myself named Benevolent Supreme Empress of the United Sta... wait, my staff is saying something to me, you betcha... what do you mean, I can't tell them that yet?"
Scared you, didn't I?
Don't worry, it didn't happen.
And with luck, it never will.
Does that prospect rate as a cataclysm? Of course it does. Which was a nice way to dovetail into the subject for today: disasters.
Awhile back I watched a documentary on Yosemite. It featured climbers on El Capitan, making their way up the rock face of the granite monolith. El Cap is a 3000 foot tall monolith of granite, its familiar sheer rock face rising up above the valley floor in Yosemite National Park. It's a dream climb for mountaineers... and a nightmare for anyone with a fear of heights.
Halfway up is a slab of granite called the Texas Flake. It's a block that's slowly detaching from the main face due to the forces of erosion. Climbers use it as one of the routes up the face, hoping that this isn't the day that the block gives way. If it does, well... they're screwed.
There was footage in the documentary of a similar slab of rock elsewhere in the Yosemite valley. In 1996, 75000 tons of granite fell over 2000 feet from Glacier Point. It reached a terminal speed of 250 miles an hour before crashing into the valley below. One person was killed, more were injured, damage was done to some buildings below the crash zone. Dust was kicked up by the compression of air beneath the falling rock. The air blast from the crash toppled over a thousand trees.
|Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point|
|Glacier Point, Yosemite|
Someday the Texas Flake will do the same thing. And like I said, if anyone happens to be climbing that day, they're screwed.
|at the top of the Texas Flake|
The documentary reminded me of a story I'd first read years ago, and yet another documentary on the subject itself. In 1958, an earthquake triggered a rockslide into Lituya Bay, Alaska. The wave generated by the crashing of the rockslide into the bay scoured the bay up to a height of 1720 feet. That's far more then what the typical (and catastrophic) tsunami generated by an undersea quake is capable of alone.
Geologists have been looking at this issue since the Lituya incident, researching where other problem spots in the world might be that could generate what they call megatsunamis. Hawaii is one spot, where evidence on the ocean floor shows massive pieces of the island that have broken off in ancient times. The Canary Islands are another; a section of one of the islands will one day slide into the sea, triggering a wave that will cross the ocean and devastate the American coast from Florida to Massachusetts. And there are places where the continental shelf itself is unstable, and the backwash of an undersea landslide would wash back on the land behind it. The West Coast of North America is prime for this sort of thing.
Why bring this up?
In future writings, I've got an idea for an opening to a novel, which I'd have to do some serious consultation with geologists about, to get it right. In short? The complete annihilation of Los Angeles. Granted, it helps that I don't like Los Angeles, and always wanted to destroy it in a book, so...
Come on, would you really miss it?
|You wouldn't miss this nitwit, would you?|
|And the same goes for these two wastes of oxygen....|
Aside from anyone living in Los Angeles itself, of course, who might object to being the subject of fictional massive casualties as the opening of a book, who would really miss it?
I think the angle I'd take with that book would be two fold: how does a nation deal with the destruction of an entire city and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people? And what kind of adversary would take advantage of that situation?
Disaster itself draws us in. When we've seen footage of the 2004 tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, we've been horrified. Earthquake, flood, or tornado damage shock us. A volcanic eruption in one part of the world can have an effect thousands of miles away. It's the sort of thing we can't look away from.
And whereever there's a disaster, Anderson Cooper will be there, seemingly before the rescuers themselves, looking grim. It's in his contract, don't you know?