drzaius.jpg

Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death.
Dr. Zaius, Minister of Science and Chief Defender of the Faith.

Bearing in mind these eternal warnings (from science!), what is the proper reaction to a story like this?

WHEN THE EARTH MOVES
Coincidence! Major quake exactly 1 year ago
Asia killer tops 26,000 death toll of Bam shaker also on Dec. 26
Posted: December 29, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
? 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Is it just a striking coincidence?
The 9.0 killer earthquake in Asia that unleashed tsunamis killing tens of thousands followed exactly one year to the hour after the Bam, Iran, earthquake that killed 26,000.
On Dec. 26, 2003, a 6.6 quake hit the ancient city of Bam in Iran. While the quake was much smaller than the one that struck near the island of Sumatra Sunday, its epicenter was directly under the city.
On Dec. 26, 2004, the 9.0 quake struck in South Asia. While the death toll will be much higher, most of the destructiveness was the result of the giant waves triggered by the earth’s movement under the India Ocean.
The 2003 quake hit at 01:56:52 UTC, while the 2004 quake struck at 00:58:55 UTC ? exactly one year, 58 minutes apart.
Special offer:
EXTORTION! How the ACLU is destroying America using your money

Is it a coincidence?
The ancients would not have thought so at all. Entrails of animals were routinely examined for omens and portents, and all sorts of magical causes were sought for the most mundane of events. The extraordinary events (what we now call “catastrophes”) were invariably ascribed to actions by major deities, usually extremely pissed off by whatever human conduct the analysts of the time concluded had enraged them. Obviously, if the catastrophe struck your enemy, this meant the gods favored your side — and vice versa.
I have no idea how many people might read the WorldNetDaily report and wonder in awe about which favorite or most feared deity might have deliberately done this (or for which specific reason), but I have no doubt there are some. (And, irreverent bigot that I am, I can’t help wondering what motivation might have been ascribed had a similar gigantic quake and tsunami hit San Francisco.)
While many Americans might laugh at this thinking, how many of them laugh when environmentalists blame mankind for catastrophes caused by the forces of nature? Might there be a deep-seated, collectivist yearning to blame humanity as a whole instead of accepting the fact that catastrophes simply happen? From some of the statements I see, I worry that there are people who think this way, but who are in denial about the primitive, magical origins of their thinking.
Man is evil, man is bad. When evil happens, man is to blame. “Nature” (or “The Environment”) is merely the latest punishing god which will teach us much-needed lessons when we are bad.
When men are out of line, the forces of nature are there to speak for God or gods. When the evil Caligula tried to move one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Olympian statue of Zeus, he was prevented:

In 40 AD, the emperor Caligula decided that he liked the statue so much, his men would kidnap the god and bring him back to Rome. Fortune (perhaps something more?) kept the Olympian Zeus in Elis, as a lighting struck the ship sent to transport him and workmen claimed to have heard the god emit a sinister, haunting laugh.

Caligula died not long after this fiasco. (Do I hear thunder?)
Later historians have claimed that because the inside of the gold and ivory covered statue was wood, it had become home to rodents which squealed when Caligula’s workmen tried to move their “habitat.” But in both cases, man is at fault. Those who assign blame know best.
All superstition is not equal. Some superstitions are to be discarded as “religion” while others must be respected — and called science!
Science says that man is bad. And nature is good.
For a better explanation, you’d have to ask Dr. Zaius.
UPDATE: If Dr. Zaius does not answer, one might try the famous Mother Nature’s Fist of Fury?TM science site.
UPDATE (12/30/04): The count is now at a sickening 125,000, and even Mother Nature’s Fist of Fury Hurricane Rooter James Wolcott is calling the tsunami “catastrophic.” (From Tim Blair, via Glenn Reynolds.) Well, there is a difference between a Hurricane and a Tsunami. I’m sure “Hurricane Wolcott” is aware of the differences, so I don’t see why I have to supply them here.
Oh what the hell.

  • TSUNAMI:

    1 oz Spiced rum
    1/2 oz Malibu Rum
    1/2 oz Rum Dark
    Fill with Pineapple Juice
    Float Grenadine

  • HURRICANE:

    1.0 fl. oz. of White Rum
    1.0 fl. oz. of Dark Rum
    0.5 fl. oz. of Triple Sec or Cointreau
    1.0 fl. oz. of Lime Juice
    0.5 fl. oz. of Sugar Syrup
    2 Dashes of Grenadine
    3.0 fl. oz. of Orange Juice
    3.0 fl. oz. of Pineapple Juice
    Ice

  • Sheesh! Do I now have to document and supply statistics for everything I say?