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When your hopes are washed away...

By dmalloc in News
Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 05:10:21 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Most will say a raindrop, as it sparkles on a leaf while the evening sun sets, is a very beautiful thing, but when billions of those tiny raindrops crash into rivers and force them to rise so high that they leave their natural bed, the situation quickly gets out of hand.
I live in Austria and we have seen the first flooding since 1859 in the last couple of days. Is this our fault? Have we manipulated nature once too often or is it simply a contretemps?


It started rather harmlessly, it rained and there is nothing special to it around this time of year. It is common in summer that heavy thunderstorms which last about two or three hours wash away the heat of the day sometimes during the week.
When the lightning began to fly through the night sky like little lance tips thrown by Zeus himself I was not concerned. Moments later it started raining, heavy drops, exploding against the cooling ground and that was somewhat beautiful, yet it did not stop, not after two hours, nor after three and not even after ten.

Meanwhile, the soil had to cope with as much water as usually falls during the whole month of August. All that water had come down within six to ten hours, forcing tiny creeks to leave their path, letting them swell toward huge, ripping stream taking with them whatever dared to stand in their path. Austria is a country that has a lot of water, some located in the bigger streams as the Inn, Steyr and the largest and best known one, the Donau.
A lot of tiny creeks are usually coming down from the mountain areas where lakes are located. By focusing on the measured values in the Donau I will try to explain how much water has been transported in the last couple of days.

The mean value measured for the Donau is usually at or around 4.5 meters. The measured value during a similar incident in 1954 was 8.6 meters at its maximum. This year, before the water simply ripped the tide gauges away, the last recorded value was 10.8 metres. To put this into terms which humans can grasp, that would equal that in most areas of Austria the Donau transported an amount equal to 300 tank lorries a second.
A single tank lorry is usually able to hold twelve to fifteen thousand litres of water, this leaves you with some simple calculations and you will know what enormous amounts of water passed a single point on the shore per second.
The hilly nature and the rocky, hard structure of the soil makes it hard for the ground to absorb a lot of water in short periods of time additionally the ground is usually not flat but always has a little bit of slope. Especially the inaccessible and stony areas of Austria sometimes have a very steep incline. The result of this is, that the water is accelerated very quickly thus creating a lot of pressure when it impacts with immovable objects such as barrages.

Austrian officials have always been aware of the very special situation in Austria. Every time soil is cleared to be a brownfield the officials have to verify that it cannot be flooded in the next hundred years. To accomplish this rather complicated computations and simulations are used to calculate how high the water might get using the mean of the last 200 years. According to scientists the flooding we are experiencing right now happens once every 500 years and that is something no one could have predicted. Personally I think, that this is not our fault, it is not even the fault of industrialisation or us humans and how we use this planet, it is simply that happens once in a while and just like out ancestors we have to deal with it.

A lot of electricity in Austria is produced by hydroelectric power plants, especially the Donau (Danube) has a couple of sections where the water is artificially damed up. Whenever a high water situation is encounter the pressure against those barrages become to high for the structure to bare and the flood gates have to be opened, the additional amount of water released into the main stream results most of the time in a tidal wave which increases the amount of damage done by the rising tide gauge Some might assume, that it is common to regulate a river in Austria, but the contrary is the case. In the early 1960's the government passed a bill which prohibits the regulation of a river unless it is needed to ensure the proper operation of an institution which serves the common good. The most common reason for this law to allow regulation of a river applies when a new power plant is being built which has not happened in the past fifteen years. Certain areas of Austria as predestined to flooding due to the topographic of their location, one of those areas is the so-called Kamp Tal. If you would like to see a graphic representation of the area you will simply have to enter "Kamp Tal" here.
The website is in german and a bit hard to nagigate, if you are interested in other topographic maps of Austria, please query google.
This particular area of the state "Niederösterreich," (Lower Austria) where the rivers Kamp, and Ybbs meet the Donau has been hit worst in these days of flood. An area as large as Los Angeles, to put it in US American dimensions, has been flooded within sixteen hours. Pictures from all over Austria, shot while people try to clean up the huge amounts of sludge left behind can be found here and here.

Those pictures cannot express the pain and sorrow and the vast destruction left behind, they do not even begin to describe the disaster. In my normal life I am but a simple management type of guy, but while I was younger, I made my helicopter license and last week I offered myself as a pilot to those who needed to rest. Even though military Pilots and those from the ministry of inner affairs did their job until total exhaustion they had to be releaved by volunteers like me sooner or later.

The sights have seen from above where saddening. Large two story houses completely submerged by water, people clinging to the chimney, waiting for us get them from their roof, transporting them to safety.
The amount of damage done cannot be assessed yet, but official estimate it to be more than 100 Millard's of Euro, that equal about 98.5 Millard Dollar (One Millard is the equivalent of 1 Billion).

What makes this worse, is that you are helpless, nothing that I have witnessed, be it fire, an earthquake or a large avalanche is as devastating and vicious as water. There is nothing a human can do to stop it, once there is too much all you can do is to anticipate the flood and hope that you started running soon enough.
You cannot outrun a flood, you cannot hide from it and you cannot stop it. It is frustrating to see, that you are but human and that there are still powers you will never be able to control, on the other hand, it is reassuring too.
More than 11.000 soldiers and numerous volunteers helped the last couple of days to try and clean homes, bridges and public areas off the thick layer of sludge left behind in some homes more than one and a half metres of sludge have to be cleaned out of the rooms and then transported off the immediate surroundings. Bridges, streets and rail tracks have been destroyed; the governmental railroad company estimates the costs for rebuilding the network at around 200 Million Euros, around 180 Million Dollars.

Not only the people in Austria suffer, the people in Czechia and Germany have been hit just as hard, if not harder. Especially in Czechia the situation is very serious and those invovled try to do their best to resolve the situation. Prag has been flooded by the Moldau and Dresden has nearly been swept away by the Elbe. The World famous Semper Oper had to be cleared, it is full of water and the damaged caused there can hardly be enumerated.

While the water drifts back to its natural bedding and the sun starts drying up the moisture left behind, other type of moisture falls to the ground that had been flooded a few hours or days ago. The salty tears of those who have to look at what has been their existence. Large companies nearly broke, because all of their production gear is simply broken, private homes washed away by the force of the tidal wave and peasants that have to look at their fields, covered in mud, their harvest washed away. The government tries to handle this situation, but it is more than difficult to grasp how much money will be needed to help those that have nothing and everybody knows, that there is not enough money on this planet to heal the wounds left behind in the souls of those that have lost everything.

If you wish to help those that have been affected by the flood, I have included the information for the national charity bank acount on request
bank identification code: 60 000
account number: 90.008.108

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When your hopes are washed away... | 59 comments (53 topical, 6 editorial, 3 hidden)
Thank you (3.60 / 5) (#4)
by ShadowNode on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 09:03:39 PM EST

I've been hoping someone would post something on this tragedy. It broke my heart to hear what's happening in Praha and Wien, two of the most beautiful cities I've had the pleasure of visiting.



Small Correction (5.00 / 3) (#18)
by Nameless on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 09:58:49 AM EST

Lucky for us, but Wien (Vienna) is not affected directly.

[ Parent ]
Do you know that the floods (2.80 / 5) (#7)
by mami on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 10:43:16 PM EST

in the US like Texas etc are as horrible? Just wonder how important it is to live through one to have enough passion to care about another one which is half around the globe.

Not the same thing... (3.20 / 5) (#8)
by ShadowNode on Fri Aug 16, 2002 at 11:17:01 PM EST

How many major cities and are effected by Texas floods? Does Texas have anything remotely like the architecture of Prague or Vienna?

[ Parent ]
The Texas floods weren't in any of the cities. (none / 0) (#11)
by haflinger on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:50:09 AM EST

But they still affected close to 20,000 people. Pretty major stuff. FEMA info.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
No comparison (4.66 / 3) (#17)
by nixman on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 08:22:13 AM EST

In Prague alone, 50,000 people were evacuted. The people effected by this flood number in the millions. Factor in the historical and cultural damage, and any floods in the US are a blip by comparison.

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 0) (#25)
by haflinger on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:00:27 PM EST

You're right in a sense; these floods are far worse, they affect a much greater number of people.

However, I'm not sure that historical and cultural damage should be the determining factor. If the Texas floods had been in the northeast of the state, and had hit Dallas and Houston, the human toll might well have been even worse than the Austrian floods. And I don't think 20,000 people are a blip. They're just not a catastrophe.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

My flood is bigger than your flood (n/t) (none / 0) (#50)
by borderline on Tue Aug 20, 2002 at 12:44:59 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Define cities (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by FoxFireX on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 10:28:57 PM EST

As a resident of San Antonio, Texas, whose house was flooded, and who saw many of our major freeways completely inundated, I would like to respectfully disagree with this statement. I'm not trying to sound off-putting, but just informative. Downtown itself didn't flood (much), but many of the subdivisions in San Antonio proper were flooded, as well as some of Austin, if I remember correctly. Again, no disrespect, just information.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I didn't realize they hit San Antonio. (none / 0) (#33)
by haflinger on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 08:16:29 AM EST

The real devastation was in the southern tip of the state, though, I believe.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Yeah (1.50 / 2) (#12)
by goatse on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:57:02 AM EST

Oviously, the people that made Shrub into a successful politician diserve it.

Seriosuly, I rmember seeing article about how the Dutch had desided to surrender some reclaimed land for fear of river flooding, so I don't think this is entirely unexpected.  OTOH, the dutch always expect flooding.


[ Parent ]

Dutch (none / 0) (#44)
by Curieus on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 08:26:14 AM EST

Well not exactly,

They are preparing areas (and i do hope they finally really get to work) that they intentionally can flood. Usually these areas are normal agricultural land. Where farms are placed in these polders, these have to be ringed with a sufficiently high dike.

The idea is only to allow flooding when the river level is high enough. There is not much sense in having the area permanently flooded, then at the time it is needed already a big % of capacity will be used by high but not exceptional water levels. So basically you try to get rid of those last meter(s) of water, and only that part is the one you want to delay/store.
Off course the farmers who are affected will have to be compensated. After all it is cheaper than evacuating 200.000 to 500.000 for a week.

[ Parent ]

Floods of '93 are a closer analogy. (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by Apuleius on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:25:41 AM EST

Several cities threatened then, as well as gems like Galena and Hannibal.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Maybe not (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by vambo rool on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:26:28 AM EST

But the 500-year flood in 1997 of the Red River, Missouri, and upper Mississippi Rivers which reached 28 feet above flood stage in Grand Forks and affected everything between Canada and just north of St. Louis are comparable. In at least two cases, entire towns were not just evacuated, but permanently moved. This is also the earlier one in 1927 or the very famous, even earlier Johnstown Flood.

Of course, none of that minimizes the damage the Elbe has done or what the residents are going through, but it's not a unique occurance either.



[ Parent ]
No, it's not... (2.50 / 4) (#22)
by ShadowNode on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:39:03 AM EST

But Prague is a unique city. Terrorists killing a few thousand people isn't unique either, and Prague is certainly worth more than a couple of office towers.



[ Parent ]
That makes no sense (3.00 / 3) (#23)
by vambo rool on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:43:20 AM EST

whatsoever.

[ Parent ]
All cities are unique. (none / 0) (#26)
by haflinger on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 01:17:03 PM EST

I've lived in a lot of them. It would sadden me to see any of them demolished, even the ones I didn't like very much.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Of course all cities are valuable... (none / 0) (#42)
by ShadowNode on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 04:16:32 AM EST

But they aren't all unique, especially not as unique as Prague. If you've never seen the city I wouldn't expect you to understand.

[ Parent ]
good point (none / 0) (#40)
by livus on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:44:17 AM EST


exactly. I'm amazed that so many are so quick to deny that this flooding is a horrible disaster, when the 9/11 incident got so much international sympathy.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Texas flooding wasn't of the same scale (none / 0) (#35)
by wilson on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 06:22:35 PM EST

I was in the Texas hill country a few weeks ago, right after the Guadalupe River and Canyon Lake flooded. The damage was bad, but it's nothing compared to what central Europe is experiencing. In Texas, a few hundred houses - many of them vacation homes - were destroyed, but no large towns were significantly affected.

[ Parent ]
I'm just waiting.. (1.33 / 6) (#10)
by goatse on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:47:29 AM EST

..for some nutcase to get his hands on enough nukes and blow off the west antartic ice shelf  That would be like a 5 meter rise is sea levels world wide right?  Talk about flooding!


Other areas flooded (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by I am Jack's username on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 07:29:02 AM EST

Europe, South Asia, the Eastern Cape here in South Africa - fortunately not in Johannesburg about to host the WSSD. Google news has more.
--
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
Dresden (5.00 / 2) (#16)
by Nickus on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 08:21:15 AM EST

I am sitting in my office about 100 meters from the river Elbe. Our apartment further down the road has no electricity, no warm water, the basement is flooded and this morning the mobile phones stopped working (although I get signal now I still can't call). The Elbe has stopped to raise now but if we would get another 5-10 cm we would have water on the streets. I've been spending two days at work just preparing for an evacuation of our server rooms. Fortunately it doesn't seem to be necessary.

But we are the lucky ones. Other parts of Dresden are totally flooded. I spoke to a fellow consultant from another company and he said one of their customers had a small problem - they could no longer see the house were their servers are.



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
Bank details (4.66 / 3) (#19)
by DodgyGeezer on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 10:59:02 AM EST

Is there anyway to verify the bank details given?  I'm not in the habit of sending money to unknown destinations.  I don't know the author, so please please don't take offense, but it would just be absolutely revolting if this turned out to be a scam.

This came up in editorial comments. (none / 0) (#20)
by haflinger on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 11:07:53 AM EST

I verified the numbers before it got voted up. German-language source. Read with the fish. They're legit.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Global Warming (3.25 / 4) (#24)
by yooden on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 12:46:13 PM EST

Personally I think, that this is not our fault, it is not even the fault of industrialisation or us humans and how we use this planet, it is simply that happens once in a while and just like out ancestors we have to deal with it.

What a warm, cuddly thought. Nice to hear that we can continue wasting our children's resources.

However, Mojib Latif from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg disagrees:

Through our activities we release certain gases in the atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide. That leads to a heat-up of the atmosphere, which has a isolating effect. Warmer air can carry more water and this leads to a increased circulation of evaporation and precipitation and to this intense downpour.

Read the Interview (German).

Global warming vs. waisting resources (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by Weezul on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 04:07:11 PM EST

You are making a correct statment about waisting our childrens resources and you are quoting a statment about how global warming works.  What you are neglecting to mention is the fact that CO2 levels are currently approximatly 375 parts per million while the highest ever CO2 concentration over the past 200 million years is more like 275 parts per million.. and those corresponded to major global warming trends.  I'm under the impression that there is absolutly no way to fix this short term, even theoretical 80% reductions in emmissions would not solve the problem for a very long time.  My point being that global warming, as it has been described to the general public, icluding Holland, Florida, New Orleans, and the pacific Islands all being under water, is inevitable at this point.  You comment about saving resources for our children is still perfectly correct, but your context paints a far more rosey picture then actually exists.

The most reprehencible abuse of this sort involves the pacific islanders at global warming summits.  The enviromentalists trot these people out as if we could do anything to save them.  The truth is that we need to be talking about reperations to these people.  Reperations in the form of financial assistance for resettlement to the U.S. or Australian (with assured citizenship).

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]

I am amused. (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by haflinger on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 05:56:50 PM EST

Is waisting resources anything like kneeing them? :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
Possible correlation? (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by hbw on Sat Aug 17, 2002 at 06:51:28 PM EST

India is experiencing a sever drought; lots of farmers are worrying that if rain doesn't come soon, they and their families will starve.

Meanwhile, central Europe and parts of Asia are flooded with immense amounts of water.

I've heard that India is one of the most polluted countries in the world; could there be a link here?

I have discovered a truly marvelous signature, which unfortunately the margin is not large enough to contain.

flooding in asia (none / 0) (#36)
by sal5ero on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 07:05:51 PM EST

i heard on tv the other day that there is a theory that the flooding in asia is caused by a cloud of pollution over the area.




[ Parent ]
It's not just India (none / 0) (#43)
by andrewhy on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 05:25:59 AM EST

I read recently that about 40% percent of the US is experiencing severe drought. South Carolina, for one, is experiencing the worst drought on record.

If "Noise" means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me -- Masami Akita, aka "Merzbow"
[ Parent ]

4.2 Million affected (none / 0) (#34)
by yooden on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 12:14:36 PM EST

(Source SAT 1)

I don't know whether this is only Germany or includes Austria and Czechia.

Now I am angry at myself. I should have offered my help a week ago.

Flooding in the Czech Republic (none / 0) (#37)
by jtra on Sun Aug 18, 2002 at 08:28:18 PM EST

I live in the Czech Republic. In area that was not flooded.

Some numbers from Czech newspaper[1]:

Top flow rate in Vltava river in Prague during flooding: 5000 m^3/s.
Average flow in Vltava: about 300 m^3/s.

Comparison with others at estuary:

Labe (Elbe in German): average 720 m^3/s (Note: Vltava joins Labe at Melnik city)
Nile (North Africa): average 3100 m^3/s
Mississippi: average 17545 m^3/s, minimal 5000 m^3/s, maximal 56000 m^3/s
(Imagine minimal Mississippi at estuary in Prague)

In Prague normal average water level is (in Chuchle suburb) 74cm. Peek level on Wednesday was about 785m. In Usti nad Labem (city in nothern Bohemia) normal average of Labe river is 2.5m, peek level was at 11.8m. [2]

Now all this water from Vltava flow off to Labe, which is doing big problems in Germany today.

This was biggest flooding for more than last 100 years. Radio said that it was bigger than flooding in 1890 (cca). Picture in the newspaper shows historical building with recorded water levels, both years 1784 and 1845 (cca 10cm below 1784) were about 30cm below wet line indicating current water level. (Note: there was big flooding in Moravia part of republic in 1997, on river Morava which flow off to Dunaj (Danube))

Numbers of evacuated people:
Prague: 50000 (population 1.2M)
sum of all others cited in newspaper: 40000 (pop. 600000) in 14 cities (this is not exhaustive list of flooded cities and villages)
(The Czech Republic has population about 10M in total)

Number of affected people: depends on how you define affected, it affected almost everyone here; those living nearby that rivers due to broken infrastructure, rest in psychological way at least.

Economic loss: not yet estimated
But a lot of infrastructure has been destroyed i.e. Prague subway in center (which paralyzed traffic in the capital city) is estimated to be repaired till December (imho this is underestimated).

References:
[1] Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta, Friday 2002-08-16.
[2] http://www.idnes.cz

--Get textmode user interface for Ruby, http://klokan.sh.cvut.cz/~jtra/

I'm sure it's bad, but keep your chin up (none / 0) (#38)
by goonie on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 01:17:40 AM EST

Yes, the floods in Europe are nasty, and I'm sorry if you've been affected, but, well, shit happens. Maybe if you've lived in a city all your life you've never seen it, but spend some time out on a farm and you begin to appreciate that nature is a fickle beast.

Let's look at the bright side:

  • If you need to be evacuated, you most likely will be. How many people have died - maybe 20 or so across Europe? Whilst that is sad, compared to the number of people who had heart attacks over the past few days it's pretty small.
  • You're not going to starve, either.
  • You're not going to catch dysentry from drinking polluted water.
  • People, as they usually do when things go to crap, have been helping each other out. To your credited, you have used your skills as a helicopter pilot. Other people are probably running kitchens to feed emergency workers. And so on.
  • It sounds like there was probably enough warning to move a lot of the really valuable stuff (priceless paintings etc.) to higher ground.
  • Things get rebuilt. Europe was rebuilt after world war two. Darwin, Australia, which was totally destroyed after a tropical cyclone in 1974, was completely evacuated and rebuilt (with buildings designed to cope with cyclonic winds, this time).
  • Governments, from local, national, and probably the EU, will offer assistance hand over fist to rebuild.

So, all in all, hang in there. I'm sure it's bad, but things could be a lot worse, and they will get better soon.

death toll (none / 0) (#39)
by livus on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:40:27 AM EST

The death toll is over 90 isn't it?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Sorry... (none / 0) (#48)
by goonie on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:36:08 PM EST

WRT the death toll, you're probably right. I probably heard an earlier figure, or possibly one for only one country.

[ Parent ]
too many "coincidences" (none / 0) (#41)
by livus on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 02:50:45 AM EST

Personally I think there are just too many coincidences for this to be yet another "freak of nature".

How many "worst in hundreds of years" things are going to have to happen at once before everyone starts to notice that the planet is   getting out of kilter?

Tropical fish in winter waters, moving frost lines, sea level shifts, freak accidents, holes in the ozone, earthquakes around hydroelectric dams, lambs born in winter, whales bleeding from the ears after  US navy sonar tests... why are people convinced that this is just a long line of coincidences? Face it, the planet is changing under our influence.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

yes, but i wonder (none / 0) (#45)
by Shren on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 09:24:11 AM EST

How many "worst in hundreds of years" things are going to have to happen at once before everyone starts to notice that the planet is getting out of kilter?

How many "worst in hundreds of years" things are the media going to report before everyone starts to notice that the media's persepective is getting out of kilter?

[ Parent ]

But it's a one-in-a-million chance! (none / 0) (#47)
by Apuleius on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 06:48:55 PM EST

If there's a one in a million chance that $FOO will happen to you today, $FOO is happening to 280 Americans today. Similarly, a Worst in a Hundred Years weather event is likely to happen somewhere every year.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
what? (none / 0) (#49)
by Dolohov on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 07:46:42 PM EST

How the hell do you have "too many coincidences"? It's a simple concept: co- (at the same time) incidence (The act of a thing happening or existing). It is one coincidence, no matter how many things happen at that one time.

This reaction has more to do with news-hypersensitivity and the desire for Meaning and Excitement than any real causality. Now, if you were to give a slightly more rational hypothesis for a common mechanism than just "the planet is changing under our influence" then it might be a little easier to take you seriously.

[ Parent ]

What are you talking about? proper word use. (none / 0) (#51)
by livus on Tue Aug 27, 2002 at 03:23:11 AM EST

I don't know why you think discrete coincidences have to somehow be interlinked - if they did then the word "coincidence" would not have a plural.

If you check my context you'll see that I mean separate instances of things which coincide with ONE ANOTHER, not with everything at once!

As for the rest, I admit that I am commenting on news, but more on how it is interpretted. I don't have a Big Theory to put forward, so no need to "take" me "seriously".

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

The word has a plural (none / 0) (#52)
by davidduncanscott on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 09:13:01 PM EST

...so that I can say things like, "The coincidences that occurred in 1789 and 1952 have nothing in common." You, however, said, "How many "worst in hundreds of years" things are going to have to happen at once...", and if all those many things are happening at once, (ie, "coinciding") then they make up one coincidence.

None of which speaks to the issue of global chaos, which may or may not be impending. Do keep in mind, though, that nobody loves records more than a weatherman -- "It's the coldest odd-numbered Tuesday in June of a leap year in the last four years!"

[ Parent ]

I agree about the weatherman (none / 0) (#53)
by livus on Sun Sep 01, 2002 at 11:29:29 PM EST

I think we'll just have to disagree on the word use issue.

I agree about the weather people. I must admit I'm more inclined to refer to things Ive actually observed - moving frost lines, rising sea level, the el nino effect of cyclones here in the south pacific.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#54)
by davidduncanscott on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 11:30:16 AM EST

although really, if you feel that all these various phenomena coincide and have a common reason, then why diminish it?

[ Parent ]
But my point is that I do not (none / 0) (#55)
by livus on Mon Sep 02, 2002 at 10:12:16 PM EST


Sorry, Im not very good at expressing myself. My initial point was that I do not think that these things merely coincide.

 I think rather that there are chains of causality, or to be more accurate, systems of cause and effect. The idea that things are simply "happening at once" is what I was originally criticising. "Coincidence" implies the opposite of subsequence. The latter is what I would argue for.

(If I had to state an uneducated hypothesis, it would be that various environmental damages are working in synthesis with natural environmental     changes - each intensifying the other, but not simply co-extensive and co-incidal.)

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

English may need a new word (none / 0) (#56)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 09:59:37 AM EST

or perhaps we've cheapened "coincidence". After all, two things can coincide with or without a common cause. Lemme' go poke around at dictionary.com...hmm, interestingly, if you look up "coincide", you get references to things happening at the same time, or in the same place, with no particular emphasis on causation, whereas if you look up "coincidence", suddenly "happenstance" becomes a factor.

I think we've pushed so hard on the idea that coincidence is not equivalent to causation that we've shoved it clear the other way, so that now the word implies a lack of common causation.

[ Parent ]

do we? (none / 0) (#57)
by livus on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:19:34 AM EST

ah, where's my OED cd when I need it?

I'm not sure that coincidence implies a lack of common causation. And youre certainly right that things can coincide with or without a common cause.

However unless one has a zen-like idea about the nature of time, it does imply a lack of causality between the two things -  i.e if A and B happen at exactly the same time, then it is unlikely that A is caused by B.

Hence the reason "coincidence" tends to be used to deny causality - it can be read as an insistence on the simultanaety of A and B rather than a cause (A) and effect (B).

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

It shouldn't, perhaps (none / 0) (#58)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:52:51 PM EST

but I think you'll find that in common usage it does. As I said, I did look it up, and while Dictionary.com certainly isn't the OED, it's not a bad indicator of common usage. Note the American Heritage's second definition (the first being geometric): "A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged.", or the Princeton WordNet first definition: "1: an event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental [syn: happenstance] ".

I don't like it either. I think people have heard, "Oh, it's just a coincidence" (meaning that there may or may not be a common cause) that they've taken it to be a positive denial of a common cause.

[ Parent ]

I'll take your word then (none / 0) (#59)
by livus on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:10:28 PM EST

You're most probably right. It certainly fits with the way it sounds when people use it.

I must confess that I am at a disadvantage on common usage because I a) live in Aotearoa, which is closer to UK than US usage; and  b) was raised by the Grammar,etc Police.

Your second American Heritage usage is perhaps an indication of how the common employment of the term in a circumstance has caused it to mean what previously it would only have implied?

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Latest update - Budapest preparing for flooding (none / 0) (#46)
by salsaman on Mon Aug 19, 2002 at 03:43:13 PM EST

Yahoo has a story

When your hopes are washed away... | 59 comments (53 topical, 6 editorial, 3 hidden)
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