Thursday, May 22, 2003

There's been a major earthquake in Algeria, with more than 500 dead and thousands injured, and they're not done counting. Here's the BBC story. Just what they needed in Algeria. The civil war wrecked the country in the Fifties and it never really stopped. Algeria has nothing resembling a real economy because, well, you never know, when you open up a textile plant, whether your workers are going to get their throats cut or not. This tends to discourage foreign investment.

Algeria is very close to Spain--just look at the map--and I'm surprised that more attention isn't paid over here to Algerian affairs. You see a good bit of stuff about Morocco, with whom Spain has a rather tempestuous relationship; diplomatic relations have been restored--they'd been cut off for a while. You don't get a lot of news from Algeria except for when a bunch of villagers get murdered; that'll get a couple of paragraphs in the International News Briefs in the Vangua.

Earthquakes, of course, are not rare in the Mediterranean. The famous monastery in Ripoll, here in Catalonia, was wrecked, I believe twice but at least once, by a large earthquake during medieval times. There is occasionally a very mild tremor here in Barcelona; I've known people who claim to have felt it. I never have. Supposedly the tremors from this one were felt in southern Spain and the Balearic Islands.

My friend Shannon Stice was in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake; he was living in a crummy apartment at California and Hyde. He slept through the whole thing. The first he heard about it is when our pal, his roommate Erik, called him from LA; Erik had been driving up from LA to SF that day, heard the news on the radio, and very sensibly turned around and returned to LA. As soon as he got home, he called up his roommate, of course; that was the pre-cellphone era. His phone call woke Stice up.

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