I have to confess I have found the days since Friday hard to face. "Business as usual" has not come easily.
I know I personally have no concerns and nothing to complain about. I suffered no loss in the disaster in Japan; I have experienced none of the corrosive worry affecting those in need of news; and I don't know firsthand any of the places that have been ruined or any of the people who have been lost. But I can't keep my sympathy in check. I can't keep Japan and its people from my thoughts. I soak in the news, watch the sickening but fascinating videos. I find myself imagining the stories we have not been told.
I worry about my own country; it seems natural at this time to think "what if." We are far less well prepared than Japan for such an event. I think of my own relatives near the Pacific. Our government has been weakened by systematic antagonism from within, our economy made fragile by the irresponsible behavior of the greedy. Our response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was far less adequate than our response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and things aren't getting better: just days before the disaster in Japan, the newly elected majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill gutting the funding of, among many other things, California's tsunami early warning system—yet another irony in a dispiriting parade of ironies in America. Japan, with a far more homogenous population and greater political unity, arguably as much wealth, and far better preparation, is reeling terribly. How would we do?
Such thoughts don't make for easy nights.
Well—back to the news. Fujifilm Inc. confirmed Monday that its Taiwa-Cho factory, 20 miles from Sendai city, was damaged in the disaster. No employees were injured, but the production of the much-awaited X100 has been halted. This is, of course, but a tiny data point amidst the enormity, not significant in itself, yet perhaps symbolic of the irruption that will roil the waters of world commerce in the days and weeks to come. Even Toyota has closed all its plants until Thursday.
Much of Fujifilm's digicam manufacture was transferred to the Suzhou industrial district of China in 2007, and is not affected.
"First Shot" by Pieter Franken, from the flickr X100 Group Pool. (RAW converted to TIFF in Silkypix and edited in LR3. ISO 200 at ƒ/2.)
(Thanks to Robert Jagitsch and Arthur Elkon)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Nikhil Ramkarran: "I work less than a mile away from the Atlantic Ocean in a city that is six feet below sea level (protected by an immense length of seawall). While we are exceedingly fortunate here not to be subject to any natural disasters (unless you consider politicians 'natural'; I don't) I can't help but wonder, what if it had been us? I've seen several of the videos of the onrushing tsunami and wondered how many of those people had to contemplate their families and loved ones being inundated. It is a thought to give you nightmares (and it has to me, two nights in a row now). With all the bad things happening in the world right now, I consider the fact that I can be typing this, a matter of great fortune which I am treasuring. Anyone who wants to donate, should do so sensibly and have a look at the guidelines that Consumer Reports give."
Featured Comment by Chris Y.: "I lived in Japan for two years, working in the mountains of Nagano. I was not a kid, I was 38 years old when I arrived. It was 20 years ago, and to me it still seems like yesterday. The Japanese daily devotion to inner strength, calm, patience and respect changed my life profoundly, and for the better. Yes, I know, I was a gaijin, an 'outside-world-person' and that is all I will ever be to Japan. But what Japan is to me is still inside me, and to see the news of this catastrophe absolutely breaks my heart. I know I am not alone in this. Everyone who has ever made friends in that Alice-in-Wonderland world is feeling the same. We know that like the pine bough weighted with snow, Japan will again bend, but it will not break."