On the Tsunami, and more
on Upton Sinclair

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Notz/2005-02-15.htm

Subject: On the Tsunami, and more on Upton Sinclair
George Salzman <george.salzman@umb.edu>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 19:48:16 -0600
To: undisclosed-recipients

Oaxaca, Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Tsunami

      Bill Templer was right there when the giant Tsunami of 12/26/2004 hit the coast of Thailand. He wrote,

      “. . . on the morning of 12/26 a warning was sent from Hawaii to the American military base on the island of Diego Garcia far south of Sri Lanka . . . [H]ere in Thailand, a conscious decision was made in Bangkok not to “alarm” the tourists at the very peak of high season on the Andaman Sea coast.3 Simple science in the hands of the masses could have saved tens of thousands.4

      “A decision was made not to try to notify the fishermen and island ferries pulling out to sea. There were a full two hours in Thailand between the seaquake’s first tremor at 8 a.m. and the cataclysm that hit our southwestern coasts at 10. Intentionally it was decided not to alert the tourism industry.”

      Bill is a Chicago-born linguist and Israeli who worked many years with the Bedouin Rights Association in southern Israel, the Palestinian-run Galilee Research Center in Nazareth, and in the Roma civil rights movement in eastern Bulgaria. Some of his recent writing on Israel/Palestine includes articles at
   http://www.borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/issues/vol2no3.html and
   http://www.collective-one-state.org/papers/bill-templer.html. He is on the staff of the Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, University of Leipzig, and is currently teaching at a technological university in Thailand’s far south.

      Bill was not exactly at the epicenter of the massive earthquake that caused the Tsunami, but he was damn close, and a student of his was lucky enough to escape to high ground, though barely in time. His incisive study of the socio-political aspects of the devastation of December 26, 2004 is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-02-06.htm.

3 “What if an early warning had been given?,” The Nation (Bangkok), 31 Dec 2004, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/search/page.arcview.php?clid=11&id=110609&date= 2004-12-31&usrsess= As a ranking Thai official noted: “The important factor in making the decision was that it’s high season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we had issued a warning, which would have led to an evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected.” Take note that the full URL includes the part in red, which follows the part in blue with no space between the two parts.

4 Arthur Lerner-Lam et al., “Simple Science Could Have Saved Thousands,” Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec 2004

The Meat Industry

      “Most Americans do not want to know how the meat they eat is produced, if only so they can continue to eat it.” So began a New York Times editorial on February 6, 2005 that Bill Templer sent me. A bit later,
      “A large slaughterhouse is the truly industrial end of industrial farming. It is a factory for disassembly. Its high line speeds place enormous pressure on the workers hired to take apart the carcasses coming down the line. And because the basic job of the line is cutting flesh – hard, manual labor – the dangers are very high for meat workers, whose flesh is every bit as vulnerable as that of the pork or beef or chicken passing by.” The editorial is at

      Bill was picking up on my focus on Upton Sinclair in my Feb 1 posting, “Reaching out in time of social crisis — some notes from an old teacher”, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/SfHS/2005-02-01.htm. In his The Goose-Step: A Study of American Education, Sinclair argued that the true purpose of U.S. Colleges and Universities was to prepare the younger generation for a “Goose-Step” kultur, like that of the Second Reich. Bill reminds us that Sinclair’s best-known novel, The Jungle, about the horrendous conditions in the Chicago slaughterhouses, is still timely, although instead of immigrant Lithuanians being exploited, now the laborers are immigrants from other countries.

      Bill also wrote, of Sinclair, “Of his many books that deserve to be read widely again is a 1936 novel Co-Op: A Novel of Living Together about a co-op experiment.”

      To which I would add his historical novel Boston, a careful accounting of the judicial murder by Massachusetts of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and his The Brass Check, which I have not read but believe is likely to be on a par with The Goose Step and Boston.

All comments and criticisms are welcome.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>

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Last update of this page: February 18, 2005