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8.9 earthquake hits Japan (usgs.gov)
678 points by flyt on Mar 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 254 comments



I'm still feeling shakes every few minutes. It's like living in a house on a block of jello. Long rolling waves. I'm in central Tokyo and our china cabinet was shaken pretty badly:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/poswald/5516954100/in/photostre...

I know some people up in sendai that I'm a bit worried about.


Be careful man; thought I should post this:

What to Do During an Earthquake

http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_during.shtm

What to Do After an Earthquake

http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_after.shtm


I'm feeling shakes every 20 minutes or so; one of the earthquake alerts on my phone actually preceded the shaking by about 10 seconds. My body's so used to the shaking that it always thinks it's shaking -- I set up a bottle of water to look at just so I don't go insane.

11:30 pm JST and I'm still feeling quakes.


To verify your sanity: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/qu...

Some of the later quakes were als closer to Tokyo compared to the big one.


The map view helps to visualize the intense chain reaction after shocks (some north of 6.0) that have been set off. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/10/1...


4:00 am JST, had a 30 second quake that bashed my head on the wall and woke me up.

Edit: I'm from seismically-inactive Pennsylvania and completely not used to this, even after four years. It took me a while to fall asleep the first time since I kept feeling like I was shaking and would jerk awake. Now I don't know if I should try to fall asleep again or what.


My office is on the 7th floor of a building in Yoyogi. Monitors are scattered everywhere, and our breakroom is effectively destroyed.

Nobody was hurt, fortunately, but I'm really glad this quake wasn't any stronger... I've been through a lot of quakes here, and this is the first time I thought I might be going home in a black bag.


Death toll is now being reported at over 400, mostly from the tsunami. Words don't exist to express the sorrow of their families...


I don't know if this is appropriate here, but the Red Cross donation site has been down for awhile (at least, for me). I took the liberty of setting up a WePay group for donations:

https://www.wepay.com/donate/78062

Not sure how to get the word out, but you've gotta start somewhere. :)



I can't imagine being in one of the top floors of a high-rise with it wobbling around. I'd be paralyzed with fear clinging to the carpet. Mighty respect to the architects and engineers, though.


It's not fun. Clinging to the carpet is a good instinct. Many people run around in a crazy panic but there's really nowhere to go. Most people here climb under something sturdy right away. I visited an elementary school and they had special towel type things to tie over your head for padding during drills. Japanese people get lots of practice.

I believe most people in a quake get killed or injured by falling debris. You're probably more likely to get injured trying to run out of the building or by having glass or a piece of a building fall on you than you are of having the building collapse.

If you live in a coastal area, after the quake stops, we have now all learned step two: get your ass to high ground in a hurry.


i think they slide more than tilt, but still, very cool


This is what I like about HN. This isn't a particularly "hacker" story, but the perspective here is unique.

On the main stream media, I'll get a couple of statistics and video, then an empty comment about "loved ones trying to make sense of this senseless tragedy".

On HN, I get the facts, but both broader and deeper, from the geological nature of the quake to the effect on other locales. And I get real, unfiltered perspective from those involved -- without the bogus posturing for the human interest feel.


Now imagine a neurotypical person reading this comment. What do you think they'd say?


I'm neurotypical, and I thought that comment was just fine.

I don't know why you brought that up, though.


You know, I'm really not sure what they'd say Florin. What do you think they'd say?


Uh... are you asking me to... hm... exercise my... um... empathy?


An individual neuro typical person might show a slightly higher curiosity about what I cynically call the "disaster/tragedy porn" of the coverage.

On average however disaster porn is the lowest common denominator.

Do not paint all individuals with the brush created by looking at the average. Just because the big networks seek the maximum number of viewers does not mean every viewer particularly strongly prefers that kind of coverage.


What's funny is that I was around just after the quake was reported and thought.. "Ooh, no-one's posted it to HN! I should post it." Then I thought "Nah, it's just world news. HN won't care directly about a quake." Then minutes later, this got submitted anyway.


I know, it's totally shocking that hackers care about something other than money or code.


Haha, but that's not exactly the point. I hesitated about posting the earthquake news much like I'd hesitate posting about, say, the discovery of a new planet. It would likely be of interest to hackers but it's not really in the gamut of Hacker News submissions.


I thought the same thing, and then I posted :D


Red Cross and others will likely be jumping to the aide of those who have been affected by this disaster.

If you have a website, please consider adding a message and link to the Red Cross donation website or the link to the donation page of any other website.

To get it up ASAP, I've used the HelloBar (http://www.hellobar.com) on my site. You can see a working version of it at http://www.webdesigncompany.net but really any way that grabs attention would be a good way.

PS: I'm not associated with the HelloBar product but I've sent them an email requesting that they allow those who want to use their product to participate to get an invite to their beta. Hopefully they'll reply here soon.

If you don't want to setup an account or don't have an invite yet, you could copy/paste the following code:

  <script type="text/javascript" src="//www.hellobar.com/hellobar.js"></script>
  <script type="text/javascript">
    new HelloBar(3823,9104);
  </script>
The text and link will never change.


Thanks Melvin. Great idea.

We've set up the invite code "helpjapan" if you would like to use Hello Bar to encourage aid.

Melvin's working version is a great example to duplicate. Just sign up at http://www.hellobar.com and enter the invite code on the next page.

Pasting Melvin's code is a great alternative as well if you don't want to sign up for an account.


Here's the best article I've seen about how to donate:

http://blog.givewell.org/2011/03/11/japan-earthquaketsunami-...

"At this point we strongly recommend holding off on giving to this relief/recovery effort. We believe that money isn’t a cure-all, and that there can be such a thing as an 'overfunded' relief effort even in a devastating disaster. We don’t know yet whether that is the case with Japan, but we believe that the next few days will bring valuable information about it (and we will be providing updates in this space). We also believe that waiting a few days will not diminish the impact of your donations."


I set up a WePay donation page, but this is way better if you've got any sort of traffic. Let's help these people out.


Awesome to hear about the clickthrough rate. I just wrote this post: http://www.dtelepathy.com/blog/telepathy/how-to-help-japan-w...

I am also going to ask some of the speakers at SXSW to share the "helpjapan" invite key at their talks.

I updated the code to a Hello Bar we control in case there are scaling issues:

<script type="text/javascript" src="//www.hellobar.com/hellobar.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> new HelloBar(1,9126); </script> <noscript>Help The Victims of the 8.9 Earthquake in Japan by Spreading Awareness and Aid. Visit http://goo.gl/wjZQz to donate. </noscript>


FYI: I'm getting about 5% click through rate on this... so if you assume that half of those donate and that each person donates $10 minimum, you can figure out how much money you can raise from simple copy/pasting a few lines of code.


Fantastic idea. Added: http://www.bullyentertainment.com


Very nice website!!


To learn how you can help the Disaster in Japan and donate please click on this link : <script type="text/javascript" src="//www.hellobar.com/hellobar.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> new HelloBar(3823,9104); </script>


<script type="text/javascript" src="//www.hellobar.com/hellobar.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> new HelloBar(3823,9104); </script>


I tried adding this to my tumblr, but the hello bar unfortunately conflicts with the tumblr controls at the top right (it gets pushed down). Not sure how to resolve that. :/


You can change the positing setting to cover page content. Here's an example: http://www.arookiemistake.com/


This is a great idea. I'll be adding it to my site shortly.


On a "blogspot: blog, where does it go? Or can you get google to make it appear on all blogs for a period of time ?


Thanks for deleting my comment on how to add the hello bar to Tumblr, easily. Good job.


Japón necesita de ti, tu donativo irá a Doctores sin fronteras.


Ayudemos a los Creadores de Goku y Robots Gigantes.


Where do I add it in WordPress and BuddyPress?


Here's a simple WordPress plugin to install the code: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/hellobar/


buena, excelente idea


I want to upvote this a million times over. Hacker-type people, do what you can and add the link,


I just talked to my parents in Hawaii, there's a tsunami warning for 3 am HST. I reminded my dad to sandbag the doors of his restaurant in Waikiki (Vit's Hawaiian Steakhouse) before he closes for the night.

It's just outside of the "tsunami zone" in Waikiki, so I know my dad will probably be working until the police make him evacuate. He did that on the last tsunami warning, and Vit's was pretty much the only restaurant open for several blocks. There was a line out of the door, haha.


Update: Tsunami waves have begun to hit the islands, but it's relatively small for now.

Update 2: About an hour later, still very moderate waves, although the water has been receding so far that you can see the reefs. No damage reported. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center doesn't expect this to be a major event, although there's still a few hours left in the danger zone.

I'm in Hawaii right now (out of the evacuation zone). They expect the tsunami to hit in about 45 minutes. The tsunami sirens have been going off about every hour, the evacuation zones have been blocked off, and even the police are starting to move to higher ground. Honolulu Harbor is pretty much empty, and it seems like all flights in and out of the airport have been cancelled.

Also, Waikiki Beach is deserted, the hospitals are being inundated with people seeking shelter, and we're all basically holding our breath. The scary thing is that many people don't realize that a tsunami wave is not like a surfing wave; it's basically a solid wall of water, and we're expecting 6-7 feet at the moment.

If you want to follow what's going on, check out #hitsunami on twitter; it's being updated very frequently. Also, there's a live webcam of Waikiki Beach at http://hitsunami.info.

[edit with more information]


Update 3: About three hours later, there's still no all clear. Oahu and Kauai are a lot better off than Maui and the Big Island, where there have been reports of flooding and damage. They're still gathering information, though, because it's still dark here, but there may have been waves of up to 9 feet.


Howzit! I lived down there for a few years and miss it dearly. Remember seeing that place a lot but never went inside.

Hope your family and the restaurant are safe. I have a lot of friends down there as well. I actually wish that I could be there for this, the last time there was a tsunami warning (almost a year ago exactly) I was out of town on the mainland =/


Yeah, my family will be fine, they live up on a hill (the only one concerned is my youngest brother, and he just wants to know if there will be school tomorrow). The restaurant should be ok even if a decent-sized tsunami hits. My dad, the Ultimate Businessman, has insurance for everything.

I remember growing up on the beach at the North Shore though, there were a few times when we had to evacuate in a hurry because the early warning systems were not nearly as good as they are now.


> I actually wish that I could be there for this

Wait, you want to be in the path of a tsunami? I'll admit being in Wisconsin can be a little boring weather-wise but the lack of natural diasasters is kind of nice. The one tornado warning I've lived through was quite enough for me.


Do they shut off the warnings at some point, or do they have to listen to this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfZkdIVcfEA) for the next 5 hours?


Haha, if I remember correctly they sound them when they issue a warning, then they sound them again something like an hour before it will hit and then maybe again after that. It happens enough that it's well coordinated, usually there are police on Kalanianaole Highway making sure everyone heads up into the valleys up until about 15 minutes before it's supposed to hit.


Ok, according to my parents the sirens are going off every hour.


its a matter of life and death. They better put up with it, if not feel thankful for it.


Having lived through the war as a kid, that awful sound brings back fear and memories.


Here's an updated inundation zone map for the state of Hawaii http://tsunami.csc.noaa.gov/map.html.

On a side note, twitter and fb feeds are going off right now.


In case anybody else is wondering, they are at GMT - 10; 3 am is 8 am EST (US)


My childhood friend is in Waikiki..I don't think I have any nails left to bite.


I hope your friend is alright.


An interesting thing I noticed was that all cell phones were completely useless for a pretty long time following the quake. That's normal, but one difference this time, compared with several years ago, is that most people I know no longer have a landline phone at home. People were queuing up for like 20 minutes to use the one old green plastic coin-op pay phone accross the street.

At first, I didn't think to use a phone, since I was sitting at my desk and email worked normally. I could email a colleague in a different building back and forth in neartime while the quakes were happening. About 15 minutes later it occurred to me to try my (naz)iPhone and see if it was useful. It was not--could not make or receive calls, and the test text message I sent did not arrive in a timely manner (took more than 30 minutes).

Just as a data point.


I experienced this after the Christchurch earthquake. Without electricity cordless phones are also useless. Our national communications company put a message out asking everyone to bring in their old corded phones so they could be sent down to Christchurch.


Smartphones were better than regular phones during this emergency. My android phone was useless for voice and SMS, but still had a data connection. So, my wife and I were able to send gmail back and forth to stay in touch.

Also, the landline data networks seemed to be up and stable, so Skype worked great. Something to remember next time you're in an emergency and need to get a call out.


I strongly suspect this is not due to an outage in the network, but rather intentional. Some years ago I worked on a project for a Japanese mobile operator to implement a system that prevents "normal" mobile phones from making calls to avoid overloading the network. When activated, only emergency services (fire fighters, police, medical, ...) are allowed to call. At regular intervals, a batch of the "civilian" phones are allowed too for a while, then a different batch, etc, so everyone gets its chance to call if they wait long enough.

The system was a government requirement for events such as yesterday's quake, but I can't confirm all phone disturbances reported were/are due to it.

Technically, it relies on a bitpattern called "accessClasssNBarred".


I live in L.A. and I've kept my landline for precisely this reason.


Isn't that strange ? I mean cable should be more easily broken than airwaves, no ? Is it because the landlines in Japan are designed to resist and the cell phone tower got power disruption ?


It's because everyone in Japan started sending SMSes to everyone they knew practically before the shaking stopped and that DOSed the network. This happens fairly regularly (e.g. for a few minutes after midnight on New Years, when a large portion of Japanese people send well wishes within the same 15 second window).


From my experiences in Germany, SMSes send around midnight New Year did sometimes take several hours to arrive.


In Brazil the SMS network stop working during Carnival celebrations. You can't talk due to loud music and everybody is trying to meet their friends.


Same in Argentina.


Although it may not have happened in this instance, cell towers are prone to fall down if shaken violently.


I suppose it could happen but prone? Especially a guyed tower should not fall down even if shaken.


Landline phones (pre-ISDN) can get their power from the network, thus mitigating one failure vector.

Also, it is much cheaper to provide enough cable than radio transceivers. Thus mobile networks nearly always run close to full capacity... ever had "network busy" on your phone when dialing in a downtown? So they are easily overwhelmed in emergencies. With landline, in contrast, you always have the line, so it is mostly a matter of installing big enough BX station.


I couldn't use voice but I did use both email and web (softbank).


Is the cell network still down/overloaded?


Yes. I've heard softbank sms are starting to go through just now.


Hmm wow, apparently yes. , I still cannot make a call. Press call and it goes directly to call failed. (SoftBank iPhone 4)


stay with it. The telcos in New Zealand got COWS (mobile cell sites) and new cell sites/equipment down to Christchurch very quickly - importing some from China (Huawei gear I guess). Landlines take much longer to repair, and cells have redundancy - can link together with fibre or microwaves.


Don't “stay with it” continuously, though, that'll just keep the system overloaded. If you can't get through, wait 20 minutes before trying again.


It was crazy scary, and I was all the way down in Nagoya. There doesn't seem to be too much damage in Miyagi (where the earthquake was) but some fires broke out apparently.

Luckily, it seemed to be a long, hard earthquake rather than a short hard earthquake, which means that buildings are able to withstand the shaking better. The shaking went on for about 3 minutes here, and there were some after shocks that lasted for about a minute.

The Great Hanshin Earthquake was only a 7.2, and it was much more destructive.


The fact the epicenter was 200 km offshore is why the shaking wasn't too destructive. The Great Hanshin earthquake was only 20km from Kobe. The distance from the epicenter is often overlooked by the media.

PGV (peak ground velocity) is a more accurate way to estimate the strain put on infrastructure. This shakemap shows the preliminary recordings: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/shakemap/global/shake...


It's probably also deep. Deep earthquakes do less damage. But still, 8.9, that's almost 100 times bigger than a 7.


Closer to 80 times stronger than a hundred, but yeah definitely deep.


From Wikipedia:

The energy release of an earthquake, which closely correlates to its destructive power, scales with the 3⁄2 power of the shaking amplitude. Thus, a difference in magnitude of 1.0 is equivalent to a factor of 31.6 ( = (101.0)(3 / 2)) in the energy released; a difference in magnitude of 2.0 is equivalent to a factor of 1000 ( = (102.0)(3 / 2) ) in the energy released.[2]


How does energy scale with distance from epicenter?


Small earthquakes have a lot of energy in the higher end of the frequency scale, which is rapidly dissipated.

Larger earthquakes have more low-frequency energy, so they go further.

There's no simple equation, they just use regression to fit the attenuation as a factor of 1/r, 1/r^2 (...), and for magnitude, and for frequency.

You can start here: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazards/about/attenuation.php


Probably goes down by r^2

However earthquakes may be "flat", in which case it's by r (i.e. r^1). It's probably somewhere in between those.


Wouldn't it go down by r^2 if the earthquake is flat, and by r^3 if it's not?


No. A circle with 2X the radius has 2X the diameter, thus the energy will be cut in half.

Unless you also expect a linear attenuation, due to energy loss through the bedrock.


so the correct answer is that this one was 1000 times more powerful than Kobe, and also very shallow (depth of 24 km), but fortunately offshore (but unfortunately that means powerful tsunami).



Come on folks, this should be on top of the page.


And there's already a growing Wikipedia article on the earthquake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Sendai_earthquake


WTF - That article states 6,000,000 SIX MILLION deaths?

Can this be accurate? It reiterated what I heard on the news regarding passenger trains missing due to the Tsunami - but 6MM???

EDIT: Looks like wiki-trolling...

From CNN:

The official death toll stood at 137, with 539 injured and 351 missing, according to Kyodo, citing police, but that death toll seemed almost certain to rise -- from 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the coastal city of Sendai alone, Kyodo reported. It said the death toll is likely to surpass 1,000.


Death toll from disasters is always low to start. Rescue workers on the ground are more worried about digging out the people who survived (at least for the first 48 hours or so).



This is particularly ill-timed for the rebels in Libya.


Are you speaking about the attention economy, or something else?


Attention economy.


On the other hand it could be good, the international community may have less patience for gaddafi's bullshit.


Maebashi, Gunma here. I was on the 10th floor of city hall when it happened and bookcases were falling all over; we were trying to hold them up and not really getting how serious it was. That was a few hours ago and we're still getting periodic aftershocks. No sea here, so we don't have to worry about tsunami, luckily.

I was fine during the quake itself and now I'm having an attack of the nerves; it still feels like the ground is moving and I can't stop eating, heh.

Malls and grocery stores are closed, so the local convenience stores are being stripped of absolutely everything.


I hope you don't try and hold up book-cases in the future (not sure how large they are). But during an earthquake, they could easily crush you.


Not big ones -- not even over my shoulders. Just full; we were trying to keep the contents from falling all over.


I'm on au and getting mail on my cell phone in random batches; if I force a mail check, it'll give me a few messages, but they don't seem to be pushing e-mail notifications. I guess this is their way of dealing with the flood of mail.

An interesting anecdote: the only provider that ISN'T forwarding/storing my messages properly is Softbank. It worried me until I noticed, but all e-mails I'm trying to send to friends with Softbank phones are just bouncing.


Japan has declared a state of emergency because of the failure of the cooling system at one nuclear plant, according to the Associated Press. Officials say there has been no leak of radiation.

Let's hope this does not get any worse than it is right now.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the US Air Force in Japan has transported coolant to the plant. Officials say the facility should be back to normal soon.

That's good news.


I was wondering about this. What kind of coolant are they sending? Don't nuclear plants just use water?


Depends on the type of plant. Some use more exotic things like molten lead or sodium.


Japanese authorities are urging some 2,000 residents living within a 2km radius of a nuclear plant in Fukushima to evacuate, the AFP reports. The plant has been shut down after its cooling system failed.


Fire out at Onagawa nuclear power plant. Oh dear ...


that fire was put out.

hope everything will be okay at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Another blow to the public's perception of nuclear energy. :(


In my perception, it shows that nuclear plants are able to sustain damage during such a massive earthquake without causing significant harm to their surrounding, all while the oil refineries are burning…


too early to jump to any conclusions. in case of radioactive leak the area affected will be million times larger than any refinery fire.


The World Nuclear Association has said it understands the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is "under control", and that water is now being pumped into its cooling system. The Japanese government earlier declared an emergency as a precaution and evacuated people living nearby, after there was a malfunction and the water level began to fall. A WNA analyst said the back-up battery power system was now online.


If the power going out is enough to potentially cause a nuclear meltdown, I'm pretty sure that's indicative of flawed technology rather than some problem with public perception.


Most nuclear reactors will automatically scram if they lose power. The control rods are held up with electromagnets so they will drop if power is lost. Losing power isn't too dangerous. Loss of coolant is quite dangerous but there are backup systems that can flood the reactor with an alternative coolant source. For example a submarines can flood their reactors with seawater. You just don't want to do that except in an extreme emergency because it will destroy the reactor equipment.

Edit: It looks like the reactor had a coolant pump failure. The loops are intact. There is time to do something about this. The water has to boil off before anything really bad starts happening. At this point they would be concerned with saving the reactor from damage. Declaring a nuclear emergency is still a good idea. This is dangerous but not anywhere near three mile island. They know what's happening inside the reactor and can handle things accordingly.


It seems they are going to be doing what they did in the case of Three Mile Island: vent steam. That steam should not be significantly radioactive.


Zynga in japan: http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/199150_899666...

and they are still working apparently


I'm in this picture (the blobby looking guy) and yeah we were working under the desks while all of the aftershocks were happening. It was pretty intense as we've been having earthquakes here the last few days and thought it was going to just be another small one. It kept intensifying, however, until we were forced to go under the desks. Definitely a very long 3 minutes.


A small plug for my startup. We created a page partnering with the red cross where folks can donate to the relief effort. http://www.fundly.com/redcrossjapan From there you can donate or get involved via facebook.


Dude, save the startup plugs for later


the second column for payment details is completely blank on latest chrome in W7..works fine in firefox 4 RC


Text message from my parents in Hawaii just now:

"At 11:01 pm we just had a 4.6 earthquake on the big island"

There's also increased seismic activity on some of the volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest (far left link on each row shows latest activity):

http://www.pnsn.org/WEBICORDER/VOLC/welcome.html

I'm not a seismologist so I have no idea if that's as gnarly as it looks.


Small world. I live in East Hawaii and I felt that. It was from the Volcano, which after erupting for the past few days stopped last night and I guess it started again.


The Tsunamis caused by this that might hit Taiwan etc. can be huge (5 to 10 meters). Or then just 10 cm high. How ever it's moving now 800km an hour.

The destruction is terrible (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xhj2ge_violent-seisme-d-une...)

I cannot explain in written how sorry I feel for the people living in the area.


The tsunami has already arrived in Taiwan - very little effect - I heard a report of 10-20 cm swelling - much less than it could have been - probably due to local geology. Philippine and Indonesian islands are probably more at risk especially low lying islands.


Auckland-based geologist Chris Buckley says the tsunami wave is on its way towards New Zealand at 500 or 600 miles an hour.

I think soon it's hitting Hawaii. Let's hope it'll end as well as in Taiwan.


The tsunami is expected to reach Mexico's coastline within three to four hours, the BBC Mundo's Alberto Najar reports. Ports in the state of Guerrero are now closed. In Baja California Sur, civil protection authorities say they expect no major damage.


Good news! Waves did not cause any damage to persons or property in Philippines.



So since most of y'all understand American geography better than Japanese geography:

My friends in Osaka (San Fran) felt it.

I live in Ogaki (Kansas). There was a mild panic in the mall, and our trains stopped for a few minutes.

Folks in Tokyo are largely shaken but not terribly affected (Boston/DC ish).

Miyagi/etc (Maine-ish) got a wee bit whacked by a tsunami. They had a few minutes of warning. Reports will come in for a few hours, but we're really good at dealing with this.


I found the way the news dealt with the Tsunamis amusing.

Video: No Tsunamis. Clear water

Announcer: 6 Meter Tsunami Warning

American News: 10 METER TSUNAMIS!!!! BWAAAA!!!!


Osaka is kind of cool but gets a bit...weird...at times, there isn't much to speak of in Ogaki, and Miyagi is a fishing town?


Miyagi is a prefecture. Like a state or province.


I don't want to be disrespectful to anybody affected by the earthquake but your comment made me remember this:

http://xkcd.com/723/


I actually first heard about this earthquake on Twitter (all eyewitness reports, no second hand information). I immediately checked all news sites I could think of (European, US) but none were yet reporting on it.


Facebook for me; I know two people living near Tokyo that instantly updated their statuses and it just snowballed from there.

It took the US news (nytimes.com) at least 20 minutes to have anything up, but twitter and facebook exploded instantly.


I just want to make clear that my comment was in no way intended to criticize mass media. It’s just an interesting new development – if you are not directly affected mass media is no longer the fastest way to get breaking news.

I want mass media to diligently collect all the information they can get and I know that that takes longer than just sending a tweet. Whether the New York Times writes about the event five minutes or an hour after it happens doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.


Just as another data point, I almost never read "mass media", since most things there don't really interest me. (Excluding Technology-related news, which I get from TechCrunch etc.).

This used to be a huge problem for me, sine I would be constantly out-of-touch. But nowadays, I find that Twitter/Facebook tend to keep me up to date on anything that's really big.


It was on Japanese TV news almost immediately. We were watching it in the office while we were still shaking.


I bet the NHK has a special team always waiting to report on earthquakes and tsunami warnings. They report on many of the smaller quakes very quickly too.


Yeah, whenever there's a quake sizeable enough to feel it, just turn on the TV---they're on it before you even have time to tune it.


Time Magazine online posted links to Al Jazeera English streams. They had live reporting very soon after the earthquake.


Last year I experienced the chilean earthquake. It was 8.8. There were tsunamis in various cities and a lot of friends lost their houses. The days after it the earth wouldn't stop shaking. A new major aftershock every 5 minutes, and a new tsunami alert every couple of hours. For about 3 months. We still feel the occasional 6.5 aftershock every couple of weeks, more than a year later.

It's really sad to wake up and find that it has happened again.




Here is a video of tsunami caused by this earthquake

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcaFBlH8tjM


Also I found this interesting:

> A massive 8.8 magnitude quake hit the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking buildings in the capital Tokyo >

Why would you talk about the earthquake in Tokyo, when it happened in Miyagi? Tokyo only got hit with a 3 or 4. [EDIT: updated to 5 JMS. Tokyo got hit pretty hard too]

The actual earthquake was around 240 miles away. That's the same distance from New York to Boston.


10 to 12 percent of Japan's entire population lives within Tokyo. 25% of Japan's entire population is within 30 miles of Tokyo. This is why.


And, conservatively, 98% of foreign news agency reporters. See also: a plane landing on the Hudson gets more coverage than half of Iowa being under water.


Probably the same reason Californians talk about the entire state no matter where the quake hits the state.

Also, Al Jazeera is reporting 4+ million homes are without power in Tokyo.


The nuclear power plants were automatically shut down, the power grid buckled at that point.



remember, earthquakes are caused by massive tectonic plates shifting around, each plate could be hundreds of miles themselves. also there were at least 4 - 5 aftershocks that hit tokyo with a magnitude of 7+.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03...


It was felt by most of the population of Japan. And there was actual damage done in Tokyo.


Live stream: http://wwitv.com/tv_channels/6810.htm

Or direct 256k: mms://nhk-world.gekimedia.net/nhkw-highm

They have revised the earthquake to 8.4 as of 11:08PM PST.


other live stream: http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/

watching the 3-meter tsunami roll over land is surreal


For some reason I'm getting the audio but no video. Anyone else having that problem?


Try the stream from YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish .


Yes.



The earthquake seems to be being revised upwards, not downwards. At least according to aljazeera.


Yeah, I think it now stands at 8.9.


Diamondhead Reef in Hawaii just completely emptied, it's barren of water, nothing in sight.


I don't know if it's of use for anyone here, but Google has set up a Crisis Response page:

http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html


Interesting to view of all 5+ quakes the past 3 days http://cl.ly/3G0f0t0d1C2Z381s3O31 . Loads of activity in the area. Is that kind of activity common, or could that have been an indicator that there was a chance of a major quake?



It's not normal at all. Something was building up


From http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0...

"The March 11 earthquake was preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, beginning on March 9th with an M 7.2 event approximately 40 km from the March 11 earthquake, and continuing with a further 3 earthquakes greater than M 6 on the same day."


I think it's the other way round. An 8.9 takes a long time to build up. When it's almost ready to pop, then a smaller earthquake can set it off.


I strongly suspect it's related to the strange stories we've been hearing about a so-called Monster Island.


I am watching live and they just said all cooling hardware and backups for one of their atomic plants has FAILED and they are advising residents to evacuate. Ugh.


2nd update: Despite the emergency coolant, pressure in the nuclear plant is going to be released soon which will result in a radiation leak. 3000+ people who live within 3 km are being evacuated.


update: The US Air Force delivered emergency coolant



Is there any system currently able to mass-call all cellphones from any/all carriers within a given geo-location radius? Or any type of push notification service for natural disasters.

Seems like this happened during the day but watching the news made me think about disasters that happen at night. How are people notified to get the hell out of there??


How are people notified to get the hell out of there??

Are you familiar with the term "air raid siren"? The coast is wall-to-wall peppered with squack boxes. About a minute prior to the earthquake there would have been a "Earthquake is imminent -- brace yourself." broadcast and within a minute there would have been a "A tsunami warning is in effect for (here). Go to shelter immediately. Repeat..."

There are a couple levels of alerts they can pull, from "Be careful" to "MOVE NOW." Miyagi just got "MOVE NOW."


Thanks Patrick, that's refreshing to hear.


Problems Japan does not have #1: insufficient spending on public works projects In Case Shit Happens, because shit happens so often that when people in several dozen countries say shit they're speaking Japanese.

Can I tell you my favorite outsourcing story? Apologies for those who've heard it (and yes, this actually happened):

India: We can't log into the test server.

Patrick: Then you didn't set it up right.

India: No, we did, but we get an error message.

Patrick: What error message?

India: We can't read it.

Patrick: sigh Please take a screenshot then.

India: Here you go.

Patrick: Oh, that is just a weather report which correctly reflects the state of the test database. The system is operating normally. Please proceed with your testing of the function you were assigned.

India: Are you sure it isn't an error? It is written in red. And why would you put a weather report on the login screen anyway?

Patrick: Q1) That is because if you ignore it you'll die. Q2) See Q1.


Holy cow, I've been on Hacker News far too long:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=422043


A bit off topic but how did you dig that up? Given how active you, you would have clicked next on your comments several hundred times.


SearchYC + a few words I remembered of it. (I have an anomalously good memory for things I've written, which is one reason I write so much. It's like Delicious except Yahoo can't lose my bookmarks.)


You and me both.


Reminds me of QA at Yahoo! Japan. They make sure that every page that is going to be released is capable of showing the EMG1, EMG2, and EMG3 tags.

Here is a screenshot of EMG1 and EMG2 both being shown at the same time, it was the first time for me to see more than one shown at the same time in production.

http://i.imgur.com/mZxyA.png

I forget what EMG3 is used for.


what is the point?, and cant that be just another name instead of India?


I thought it would be an amusing story to relate regarding our disaster preparedness: don't worry about us, we're so on top of this we have disaster warning systems built into the class schedule portals college kids access from their cell phones. It's amusing because out outsourcing operations in India were... less successful than they could have been because of frequent... inefficiencies in communication and pervasive... opportunities for improvement in engineering skill levels.

No, company policy and common sense would not let me tell you the names of the engineers I had that conversation with. You can read it as "An Employee Of A Japanese Megacorp's Indian Subsidiary" if that makes you feel better. I'm assuming most people understand I do not actually mean everybody in the country.


Besides what patio11 said, there is something similar to the US National Alert System which gets used quite often. It puts alerts on the top of every TV channel when an earthquake starts... unfortunately my TV then fell off the cabinet so I took that as an alert and climbed under my table.


Right about the tv. I was just thinking "what if it had been in the night?" People will be asleep so if there's any window of warning available, how can they get the message?

On CNN the newscaster is repeatedly mentioning how people on the ground are waiting in line to use the pay phone to notify loved ones etc...

I use my phone as an alarm so that's why I just thought it might be helpful if there was a public alert service you can sign up for or even a part of the phone (like emergency 911 always works on a cell phone even if you don't have minutes) that will make it ring, beep or do soemthing stupid to get your attention.


It's not a bad idea. A variation of your idea has actually been implemented in here as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTT_DoCoMo#Earthquake_warning_s...


There are the air raid sirens. They use them all the time: for typhoons, for missing persons. Oh, and for earthquakes.


Every town in Indiana above maybe 1500 people has tornado sirens. And we're not best known for our public spending.


Sirens are common. Cell phones? You'd just overload the network.


There's just such a system for several municipalities in the U.S - the reverse 911 system, which robo-calls your home or cell phone in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. I just signed up for it in Mountain View CA, and my mom got a reverse-911 call for the Boston water main break this winter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_911


Yes, but how many people signed up for that? The parent proposed contacting everyone, remember...


Have we all forgotten what the word broadcast means? If sending everyone the same signal at the same time is hard, you're doing it wrong.


The doesn't work very well when each device requires a separate communication channel like a cell phone.


There may be a 160 byte block of space in the normal traffic your phone makes to the towers in order to let it know where you are. Maybe they should look into using that for something like this.


It should be much easier for cell phones, since the underlying physical medium is a broadcast medium. It takes significant engineering effort to get rid of this capability.


That would require a completely separate, unencrypted broadcast protocol. Yes, you could design that, but who will pay for it?


Interesting. However, it is something that the governments should be handling rather than a private company. Just an opinion.

Or a central database and disaster management site where you just register the contact details of your loved ones including yourself. Also a good idea is a general notification for groups.

So say I learnt about it and am in the other end of the world, I would want to leave a beep so shrill that my family gets the hell out and run.

Another easy solution is setting up a reminder service from local trends on twitter+natural language processing+ Bloody loud notification depending on threat levels.


I think close cooperation between private companies and the government has been a trait of Japanese society for a long time. Instead of a single governmental alert service, you'll get the government, NHK, cell phone companies, transport companies, etc., cooperating to get the information out there quickly. For example, the weather service website was being hammered and rather hard to access, but you could see reports on the NHK and Yahoo! websites while the quake was still going on, including tsunami predictions - it's automated, very fast and effective.

The siren systems are also automated. The signal is relayed by governmental offices.


Yes. http://www.theage.com.au/national/victorians-receive-fire-te...

// Although that was a warning message -- not an emergency one.


There are push notifications of major earthquakes, though I think they're opt-out-able, which kind of defeats the purpose.



Who is responding to this catastrophe? Is it the defense forces, state police, or is it just international agencies? I imagine a comprehensive aerial survey happening _immediately_, helicopters showing up with emergency supplies and defense troops or police within hours, and so on, but the government has produced ridiculously inaccurate casualty numbers and has blamed lack of contact with the affected area for their ignorance. It makes me think nobody is actually there. Can somebody fill us in on what is being done to help the people who are there?


If you're in Hawaii or California, we're in a Tsunami Warning (which is the run-for-the-hills, highest grade warning): http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/2011/03/11/lhvpd9/04/messagelhvpd...

If you're on a coastline, here are the tsunami height predictions: http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/models/models.html


Looks like the NOAA website is having issues, but the email service isn't. Here's the latest report via email:

Web message at http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/2011/03/11/lhvpd9/06/messagelhvpd...

WEAK51 PAAQ 111037 TSUAK1

BULLETIN PUBLIC TSUNAMI MESSAGE NUMBER 6 NWS WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER PALMER AK 237 AM PST FRI MAR 11 2011

THIS MESSAGE KEEPS THE WARNING AND ADVISORY REGIONS FIXED AND ADDS NEW TSUNAMI OBSERVATIONS. A LINK IS PROVIDED FOR TSUNAMI AMPLITUDE FORECASTS.

...THE TSUNAMI WARNING CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL AREAS OF CALIFORNIA AND OREGON FROM POINT CONCEPCION CALIFORNIA TO THE OREGON-WASHINGTON BORDER...

...THE TSUNAMI WARNING CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL AREAS OF ALASKA FROM AMCHITKA PASS ALASKA/125 MILES W OF ADAK/ TO ATTU ALASKA...

...THE TSUNAMI ADVISORY CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL AREAS OF CALIFORNIA FROM THE CALIFORNIA-MEXICO BORDER TO POINT CONCEPCION CALIFORNIA...

...THE TSUNAMI ADVISORY CONTINUES IN EFFECT FOR THE COASTAL AREAS OF WASHINGTON - BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA FROM THE OREGON-WASHINGTON BORDER TO AMCHITKA PASS ALASKA/125 MILES W OF ADAK/...

A TSUNAMI WARNING MEANS... ALL COASTAL RESIDENTS IN THE WARNING AREA WHO ARE NEAR THE BEACH OR IN LOW-LYING REGIONS SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY INLAND TO HIGHER GROUND AND AWAY FROM ALL HARBORS AND INLETS INCLUDING THOSE SHELTERED DIRECTLY FROM THE SEA. THOSE FEELING THE EARTH SHAKE... SEEING UNUSUAL WAVE ACTION... OR THE WATER LEVEL RISING OR RECEDING MAY HAVE ONLY A FEW MINUTES BEFORE THE TSUNAMI ARRIVAL AND SHOULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY. HOMES AND SMALL BUILDINGS ARE NOT DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND TSUNAMI IMPACTS. DO NOT STAY IN THESE STRUCTURES.

ALL RESIDENTS WITHIN THE WARNED AREA SHOULD BE ALERT FOR INSTRUCTIONS BROADCAST FROM THEIR LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES. A TSUNAMI HAS BEEN RECORDED.

A TSUNAMI ADVISORY MEANS THAT A TSUNAMI CAPABLE OF PRODUCING STRONG CURRENTS OR WAVES DANGEROUS TO PERSONS IN OR VERY NEAR THE WATER IS EXPECTED. SIGNIFICANT WIDESPREAD INUNDATION IS NOT EXPECTED FOR AREAS UNDER AN ADVISORY. CURRENTS MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO SWIMMERS... BOATS... AND COASTAL STRUCTURES AND MAY CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE ARRIVAL.

AT 946 PM PACIFIC STANDARD TIME ON MARCH 10 AN EARTHQUAKE WITH PRELIMINARY MAGNITUDE 8.9 OCCURRED NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU JAPAN. THIS EARTHQUAKE HAS GENERATED A TSUNAMI WHICH COULD CAUSE DAMAGE TO REGIONS IN A WARNING OR ADVISORY. ESTIMATED TSUNAMI ARRIVAL TIMES AND MAPS ALONG WITH SAFETY RULES AND OTHER INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND ON THE WEB SITE WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV.

MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI ACTIVITY

  LOCATION                   LAT    LON     TIME        AMPL
  ------------------------  -----  ------  -------     -----------
  TOSASHIMIZU  JAPAN        32.8N  132.9E  0747UTC   00.9FT/00.27M
  TOKAI  JAPAN              33.8N  137.6E  0645UTC   00.8FT/00.25M
  OFUNATO  JAPAN            39.0N  141.8E  0605UTC   10.8FT/03.29M
  HANASAKI  JAPAN           43.3N  145.6E  0643UTC   09.3FT/02.82M
  BOSO  JAPAN               34.8N  140.8E  0609UTC   02.6FT/00.78M
  MINAMITORISHIMA  JAPAN    24.3N  154.0E  0747UTC   01.5FT/00.45M
  NAHA  JAPAN               26.2N  127.7E  0902UTC   00.7FT/00.20M
  SAIPAN  USA               15.2N  145.7E  0901UTC   02.6FT/00.79M
  WAKE IS.  USA             19.3N  166.6E  0918UTC   01.6FT/00.50M
  SHEMYA, ALASKA            52.7N  174.1E  1028UTC   01.3FT/00.43M
TIME - TIME OF MEASUREMENT AMPL - TSUNAMI AMPLITUDES ARE MEASURED RELATIVE TO NORMAL SEA LEVEL. IT IS ...NOT... CREST-TO-TROUGH WAVE HEIGHT. VALUES ARE GIVEN IN BOTH METERS(M) AND FEET(FT).

TSUNAMI AMPLITUDES ARE EXPECTED TO PEAK TWO TO THREE HOURS AFTER INITIAL ARRIVAL ALONG THE NORTH AMERICAN COAST.

FORECAST TSUNAMI AMPLITUDES ARE AVAILABLE ON THE WCATWC WEB SITE WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV.

TSUNAMIS CAN BE DANGEROUS WAVES THAT ARE NOT SURVIVABLE. WAVE HEIGHTS ARE AMPLIFIED BY IRREGULAR SHORELINE AND ARE DIFFICULT TO FORECAST. TSUNAMIS OFTEN APPEAR AS A STRONG SURGE AND MAY BE PRECEDED BY A RECEDING WATER LEVEL. MARINERS IN WATER DEEPER THAN 600 FEET SHOULD NOT BE AFFECTED BY A TSUNAMI. WAVE HEIGHTS WILL INCREASE RAPIDLY AS WATER SHALLOWS. TSUNAMIS ARE A SERIES OF OCEAN WAVES WHICH CAN BE DANGEROUS FOR SEVERAL HOURS AFTER THE INITIAL WAVE ARRIVAL. DO NOT RETURN TO EVACUATED AREAS UNTIL AN ALL CLEAR IS GIVEN BY LOCAL CIVIL AUTHORITIES.

PACIFIC COASTAL REGIONS OUTSIDE CALIFORNIA/ OREGON/ WASHINGTON/ BRITISH COLUMBIA AND ALASKA SHOULD REFER TO THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER MESSAGES FOR INFORMATION ON THIS EVENT AT WWW.WEATHER.GOV/PTWC.

THIS MESSAGE WILL BE UPDATED IN 60 MINUTES OR SOONER IF THE SITUATION WARRANTS. THE TSUNAMI MESSAGE WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO... YOUR LOCAL TV OR RADIO STATIONS... OR SEE THE WEB SITE WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV.

$$


Japanese mobile network operators provides disaster message boards in English.

Docomo(NTT) http://dengon.docomo.ne.jp/Etop.cgi SoftBank http://dengon.softbank.ne.jp/pc-e1.jsp au(KDDI) http://dengon.ezweb.ne.jp/E/service.do


Chiba Steel Mill explosion:

http://twitpic.com/48edb1

It's getting serious.





From above stream, a shot of people waiting to be rescued: http://twitpic.com/48e4r4


I never saw a photo of tsunami like this one: http://drugoi.livejournal.com/3507657.html#cutid1


Was pretty crazy. myGengo office had a light break, but otherwise we weren't too badly affected.

Hope goes out to those more affected, looks insane from what I'm seeing.


What's staggering to me is that the 1989 earthquake in SF was only a 6.8 -- and that made our home in Marin feel like we were floating on a swimming pool. I can't even begin to imagine what an 8.9 is like. Tragic, but apparently expected: Japan's strict building codes will go a long way towards minimizing human loss. If only there were a way to protect against the biblical devastation of tsumanis.


If you want to see a visual of where the epicenter was:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&...


My thoughts are with those in Sendai and the other affected areas, the helicopter shot on tv is terrifying. The tsunami appears to have been more destuctive than the actual earthquake. The earthquake was a long way offshore (150km) so I imagine the shaking intensity was relatively low on the mainland and the buildings and other infrastructure will be alright.


All quake servers are down in Japan; http://www.quakelive.com/


Hope everyone in Japan is doing ok - I guess I am lucky that I am out of the country precisely this day, but now starting to get worry about people I know. It is a bit scary to think that an earthquake felt in east of Japan (tokyo, sendai), and also in Osaka where I live, almost 500 km west from there.


I hope Ray Grieselhuber of Ginzametrics (YC) is OK - along with everyone else. I am pretty sure he is based around Tokyo. http://ginzametrics.com/ginzametrics-is-hiring-in-tokyo.html


I emailed him as soon as I got the NOAA tsunami notification email -- he's fine -- he's in California.


Thanks very much, InfinityX0. We are in California and are hiring for our Tokyo office. So far, everybody I know is in good health and nobody was hurt.


Airport 2 km inland is flooded, amazing helicopter shots of the water sliding across the land.


This is the Tokyo International Airport?


I think he is referring to the sendai airport.


As always, check out the national Bouy Center from our friend at NOAA: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/ This is data geek heaven.



People outside of Tokyo Disneyland http://twitpic.com/48dy7s


I was scheduled to go there tomorrow with my little girl.

So now you know the full extent of the disaster.



OMG! This feels like 2012 (the movie). Seeing that tsunami is breathtaking. I sincerely hope lives aren't lost.


Except the wave was 8,85 kilometers high the movie...


@BBCBreaking: "Japanese authorities to release radioactive vapour to ease pressure at Fukushima nuclear reactor, from AP"

And this is how Gojira was created..


Is this post appropriate for HN?


50 crap articles get front-paged every single day and you choose the one about breaking news from a national disaster to start whining about what's right and wrong for HN? Sheesh.


Not according to the guidelines:

    "Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or        sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic."
But, I don't mind it all as I get to read views and firsthand accounts from fellow hackers that is much different from what I see on TV.


I was particularly interested in "is patio11 ok?" (and, are there any transpac fiber cuts?)

I think it's fair to post stories which are headlines in ~all news simultaneously, even if not "hacker news" -- nuclear explosions, assassinations of G7 leaders, major wars, etc.


I'm touched, but there are several dozen HNers in Japan who I've met personally (just an FYI) most were closer to it than I was.


No, it is not. From the HN guidelines: Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic.

And unlike cosmok, I do mind it, because this type of news is slowly turning HN into something it shouldn't be. There's a reason for this particular guideline, and I think we should honor that.

EDIT: I don't mind the downvoting, but please, if you do that, at least post a comment on why you think my comment deserved to be downvoted.


They may be downvoting you because they are emotional. Or they may be downvoting because you are wrong. ;)

This story violates neither the letter nor the spirit of the rule against "video" of a disaster; aka cheap sensationalism. Rather, much of the thread is the opposite of sensationalism: e.g. patio11 on the average state of Japanese disaster preparedness.

This story has all sorts of HN community relevance, ranging from how are community members experiencing this on the ground to how do otherwise abstract geology papers manifest in real life to hey, wait, my startup is sitting in a prime earthquake zone; how should we prepare?

And, you know, this is a magnitude 8.9 earthquake. They don't happen every year. We can afford a handful of threads on each one. It's nice to try to have an interesting news site, but if this isn't news one has to question the entire concept of news. Which is fair: News is not for everyone, and perhaps news is not for you. It's just not to your taste. Have you tried an exclusive diet of decade-old paper books?


I agree it's important that we maintain a culture of curation here, but some events are big enough that they eclipse cultural mores.

With respect to the kind of exceptions we make every day, I agree with you. But once or twice a year, a lot of people die, and everyone kind of stops what they're doing and pays their respects, wherever they happen to be, whether you're in line at the bank, or on the floor of the senate.

We all happen to be on HN 24 hours a day, so this is where we all stop and take notice.


I didn't down- or up-vote you, but my immediate response to your comment was: "is this really the time to worry about what HN is or isn't turning into?"

If your downvoters think the same way I do, they're downvoting because they don't think right now is a good time to worry about the future of HN, no matter what the guidelines say. This isn't to say your opinion is invalid (it's a perfectly legitimate thing to worry about); it just seems ill-timed in the face of potentially catastrophic disaster, and downvoting is an easy way to express disapproval.


While I agree with what you're saying, there's an exception to every rule. Normally I'd be one of the first to point out something is off topic. I've done so in the past.

However, the strongest earthquake to hit Japan in three centuries, causing loss of who knows how many lives and how much damage?

This is news worth looking beyond the "hacker" moniker for.


it shouldn't be downvoted anymore than cosmok's (which as of now, is sitting at karma 0).

I upvoted you to keep you closer to cosmok's comment.


May be, may not be. But I'm sure there are people out there who got some updates from this post. For them, yes it is.


Fair enough. Maybe there is something people can come up with here which will help/inform people?

Edit: I mean this in earnest, we can and should help.


probably not. oh well.


I wish I had enough karma to downvote you.


Why would his post deserve being downvoted to hell without so much as a discussion? You and I may disagree with him, but he has a valid point and doesn't appear to be trolling.


I would like to think that HN had some compassion for their fellow users (HN has a lot of Tokyo based startups/hackers), not to mention humans in general.

In a scenario like this, who gives a fuck if it's off topic? And for the record, I saw the story here first, so I am thankful for that.


There are plenty of sites for general news. HN is not one of them.

The reason you saw it here first is because somebody posted it here despite what the guidelines say, and you happened to come at the right moment, before you checked other news sites you usually do.

The fact that you saw it here first does not change the fact that the article is, according to guidelines, off-topic.

Oh, and FYI, not posting this article on HN != not having compassion for fellow hackers.


Just because you're sitting in a gentlemen's club in the midst of erudite conversation doesn't mean you're not going to point out that the place across the road is currently on fire.

Absolutes are silly.


I find it strange that you and others question whether this article should be on HN - the fact you and others are commenting must mean that the topic grabbed you enough for you to want to read and comment on what people are saying on the subject.

Also the fact that the post has over 300 points and is comfortably the most talked about thing within the community is proof enough that topics like this should be allowed to remain within HN


[deleted]


[deleted]


I feel the same way you do, but I'll hazard a boilerplate "don't feed the trolls" statement here.

It's clear emotions are running a bit high in this part of the comments.




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