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Re: [xmca] Bush fires

I never know what to say, but I thought that others might be interested in
photos of the tragic devastation:



On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 6:37 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Just a short report on the bush fires in Victoria for people on xmca. Here
> in inner Melbourne we are 100% safe, and because of the strong winds which
> triggered the real devastation, we don't even see smoke here. But things are
> very emotional because the news is all around us. So far the death toll is
> 173 but may go much much higher. The whole state is a smouldering cinder box
> outside of the city.
> Most of the dead died in their cars vainly trying to outrun the flames
> which have been driven by strong winds, and leaping forward by cinders
> igniting tinder dry foliage and spontaneous combustion after 12 years of
> drought. Many people have left their homes, their animals and sometimes
> their spouses, with hardly a shirt on their back, later having nothing to
> return to.
> Despite all the grief, it is remarkable the spirit that is awakened in
> people by a struggle against a natural enemy like this. Capitalism is
> temporarily suspended as people whose neighbours have lost everything give
> everything away - supermarkets give away their stock, hotels accommodate
> people for free, people give away their cars if they can spare it and of
> course most of the firefighters are volunteers.
> Once people start to get back on their feet and start to see if the
> insurance companies actually have the money to pay for these losses, I am
> sure capitalism will return with a vengeance.
> The commercial media try as hard as they can to turn it all into a witchunt
> against fire bugs. Really, about 50% of fires have been ignited
> deliberately. But people are just not interested at the moment. Blame is not
> something people are willing to contemplate ... yet.
> The fire culture in Victoria is "Fight or Flight." I.e., every person has
> to notify well in advance whether they are to be evacuated as soon as there
> is a fire threatening their home, or, they will stay and defend their house,
> in which case they get advice but when the fire comes, the firefighters flee
> the flames and wish the resident good luck.
> But this fire has been different. It is just so big, so unpredictable and
> so fast, that people have been caught unawares and unable to flee, or have
> stayed to fight and found that it is impossible to save their house, but too
> late to flee.
> Unlike the midwest USA where people live with tornadoes and have built
> underground bunkers, we have not had this culture. Some people did dig
> bunkers and some of these survived, but some didn't too.
> These practices will have to change.
> Strange tensions too around the fact that police are sealing off areas
> where people have died to count bodies and secure things etc., but people
> are left homeless and stranded in the meantime and this is generating
> tensions.
> Also, as in previous fires, you see whole streets of houses (indeed entire
> townships) leveled, and then one lone house, with perfect white-painted
> weatherboard, an English garden, etc., etc., as if nothing had happened.
> Very trying on the emotions such things.
> Andy
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden http://home.mira.net/~andy/ <http://home.mira.net/%7Eandy/>+61 3 9380 9435 Skype andy.blunden
> Hegel's Logic with a Foreword by Andy Blunden:
> http://www.marxists.org/admin/books/index.htm
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Mark Chen | PhD Candidate | Games ethnographer/researcher
Ed Tech/Learning Sciences | University of Washington - Seattle
My games research and life in academia blog: markdangerchen.net
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