The California Fires, Humanity and the Lack of, and the Internet Connection

posted in: Eban's Blog | 0

It is just horrifying to watch what is happening in Southern California right now. As I write this, the TV forecasters are predicting a possible break in the until now insidious Santa Ana winds that have been driving this tragedy. I hope for the people of SoCal that this is the case.

Some things are aggravating me right now. One, and it may just be me, is the newscasters apparent need to keep pointing out the celebrities that are fleeing the flames. If there is one thing that a horrible disaster like this proves is that we are all just people. I wish the TV news would get this.

Another thing is that without any containment and almost a million people fleeing, the finger pointing has begun. This is unnecessary and I can’t bring myself to comment any more on it.

Still, there have been signs of great humanity in all of this. First, the people putting there lives on the line to fight these firestorms. These people, most of whom we will never know by name, are the cream of the crop of what humanity has to offer. Those that put their lives on the line for others are a different breed, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Then, look at those that are seeking shelter at Qualcom Stadium. That could be a mass of ugliness, ala the Superdome after Katrina. (yes, we now know a lot of the horrors were blown out of proportion, but it was still bad) Instead we hear stories of calm and cooperation, especially where kids are concerned. Something like this must be so much harder on the young that may not fully understand what is going on.

But, with the shows of humanity, there are the ugly human traits as well. for one thing, there are helicopter patrols looking for looters, at least that is what was reported this morning. It should be bad enough that in this crisis we have to look for those seeking to profit from those evacuated, but it gets worse.

On Fox this morning ( I need to follow up on this) it was reported that one of these patrols saw a man riding a motorcycle near a hillside. The reporter says they then saw the guy stop and set fire to the side of the hill. This guy, if the reports are true, is beneath the lowest forms of life imaginable. The report did end saying that the guy was taken into custody, which is some very small relief. This report was breaking news when I saw it, and breaking news sometimes is not reliable. Let’s hope that is the case here.

However, even if that report was bogus, it stands up to scrutiny that some of these blazes have to be man made. I can only hope that anyone involved in any level of starting these fires is apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I also referred in the title of this piece about the internet connection. One thing I heard about was that San Diego was keeping an updated list of known destroyed addresses that people with wireless connections could track. That is a good use of the internet, but I had something else in mind.

We as a nation are plugged in, that is a fact. But how plugged in is the question. Someone like myself basically has my life on the web, but those of us that live and work in the world of Web 2.0 still have to be a minority, at least to the level that some of us use the technology.

I am sure that many still browse lightly, or just check e-mail, or whatever. Add to these lighter net users those that still are not connected, or have dial-up that limits what they can do online. Hell, I saw a story not too long ago where some folks can’t see any need to have the net in their lives.

Well, I find these fires to be a great reason to be a web 2.0 power-user. If you listen to victims of disasters, the number 2 thing (number 1 is loss of life) that people say that they will miss the most, are that the loss of has devastated them the most, is the personal things like pictures, videos, documents and so on. Consumer items can be replaced, memories can’t.

Well, most of the pictures Faith and I have are online in some form or another, and those that are not there, I am working in a scheduled manner to get them there. I have scanned important documents into Google Docs online and videos are online as well. For those that might worry about privacy, I don’t have all of my online pics and vids on Youtube and Flicker, only the items I want to share. My Docs, personal pics, and videos that I do not publicly share are however still safe.

Also, with all of my Social Networking I can stay in touch with anyone that I would need to in the event of an emergency situation. If my computer was a victim, I have the net on my phone.

What I am saying here is that maybe these things should be pointed out to those that do not heavily use, or downright reject the internet. If you have family members that are in this net rejection group, maybe you can volunteer to help them put their treasured memories online, safe from the ravages of local disasters.

I have luckily never been the victim of a horrible disaster. I have been in areas where storms have ravaged, but I myself have always come out OK, Knock on wood. I can thus only speculate that having these treasured items ready and waiting after a disaster would be a great comfort at a much needed time.

What say you?

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