Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Monday,
May 02nd

What, you can’t predict an earthquake?

E-mail Print PDF

The next time an 80-year-old man is diagnosed with cancer, blame his pediatrician for not predicting it — and taking the necessary steps.

The next time the Rockies are in spring training, blame its 100-loss season on Don Baylor, the Rockies’ original manager. He should have known, and done something about it.

The next time an immigrant comes to these shores, blame his first employer for not signing a 50% profit-sharing arrangement with him, knowing, of course, that the immigrant would invent Intel — and why shouldn’t the person who gave him his first break get a cut?

Or — and this one is real — tell the lady who spilled the hot coffee on herself to blame McDonalds, to sue McDonalds, and to win some $640,000 in court.

Or — and this one is unreal — go to the Italian city of L’Aquilla, which was hit by an earthquake in 2009, and blame the damage on Bernardo De Bernardinis and Franco Barberi. They should have predicted not only the earthquake, but the exact dimensions of the damage it would cause.

Well, this is just what an Italian judge did, sending both men to prison!

The two men, who are now criminals, were, at the time of the earthquake, members of Italy’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks. The critics of this commission, obviously, have never heard of the Talmudic dictum, “After the destruction of the Second Temple [in 70], only fools prophecy.” But nothing less than prophesy was expected of the two defendants. They were responsible for the deaths of the 309 victims of the quake, ruled the court. They should have known. They should have told — when, where, how much. How dare they not!

No matter. “Justice was done,” said the families of the victims, who, no doubt, have suffered beyond measure; but who also, no doubt, embody the modern inclination to blame somebody, something, somehow, for every bad happening, no matter how twisted or, indeed, non-existent the link between the deed and the supposedly guilty party.

Consider this: One of the defendants, a professor of volcanology (the other defendent was an expert in response to, not prediction of, disaster), said in advance of the earthquake:

“In a very high percentage of 980 out of 1,000 cases, seismic tremors don’t evolve into a destructive quake. That doesn’t mean that in one of Italy’s most seismic areas there won’t be a strong earthquake.”

Not good enough for the courts. Not prophetic enough for the people. Punish him! Even Gregory Beroza, chairman of the department of geophysics at Stanford, said (as cited in the Wall Street Journal) he was disappointed by the verdict, but added that scientists need to continue to communicate risk better with the public.

Professor Beroza, precisely which part of “that doesn’t mean that in one of Italy's most seismic areas there won’t be a strong earthquake” wasn’t communicated clearly?

It seems like Italian courts won’t be satisfied with anything less than an absolute prediction of an earthquake. That’s reasonable when it comes to the weather service — witness the accurate predictions of Hurricane Sandy — but not when it comes to earthquakes. Please!

Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News

 

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Cast Your Vote

Do you eat kitniyot on Passover?
 

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Bruce Springsteen guitarist slams ‘obnoxious idiots’ who support BDS on Twitter

Andrew Tobin Amid rumors that Bruce Springsteen will perform in Tel Aviv this summer, he and his E Street band have come under fire from supporters of boycotting Israel. On Monday, band guitarist Steven Van Zan... [Link]

Man stabbed in Jerusalem’s Old City

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Israeli police are hunting for the attacker who stabbed a man in Jerusalem’s Old City, moderately injuring him. The victim, believed to be in his 60s, was stabbed in the back near the Aust... [Link]

Would-be Miami synagogue bomber reportedly was Muslim convert, wanted to inspire other attacks

Julie Wiener (JTA) — The South Florida man arrested for planning to bomb a Miami synagogue has been publicly identified and charged in federal court. James Gonzalo Medina, 40, of Hollywood, appeared in court in... [Link]

For Dutch property owners, Holocaust commemoration begins at home

Cnaan Liphshiz THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — After Yvonne van Gennep-Bouma discovered that Holocaust victims used to live in what is now her home, she began to think about them constantly. At night, van Genne... [Link]

JDC, HUC announce global Jewish leadership fellowship

Marcy Oster (JTA) — JDC Entwine – the initiative for young adults of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion – has established a Jewish lea... [Link]

Israeli found dead in Hungary was killed in robbery, prosecutor says

Marcy Oster BUDAPEST (JTA) — The Israeli citizen found dead in Hungary was killed in a brutal robbery for his two mobile phones, laptop computer and cash, the Hungarian Prosecutor’s Office said Monday... [Link]

Ohio Jewish leader cited by John Kasich for Holocaust memorial role dies at 68

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Joyce Garver Keller, the longtime executive director of Ohio’s Jewish community relations council who helped establish a state Holocaust memorial, has died at 68. On Monday morning, less t... [Link]

Trump says he will try to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Saying he’d “never met a person from Israel that didn’t want to make that deal,” Donald Trump said if elected president he plans to try to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty.... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com