Wednesday, April 03, 2002

On Sunday, a strong earthquake rattled Taiwan. Having grown up in California, I was not perturbed -- the Northridge Earthquake felt more serious. Of course, this cavalier attitude is also because I have been blessed not to have two construction cranes fall on me. As people say, there but for the grace of God go I.

When the quake occurred, I was in a caf� with Clair and Yu-ru. They insisted we go outside. Since they're local, I complied, but upon exiting the caf� I looked up and saw power lines. I wanted to go back inside and take my chances because I'd rather be smushed than electrocuted.

Part of this nonchalance also comes from my assumption that in earthquake-prone regions (for example, the land masses that surround the Pacific Ocean which make up the "Ring of Fire"), buildings are constructed with that in mind. After all, very few places are earthquake-risk free, and those that are deal with hurricanes and tornadoes. Especially after seeing Twister, I prefer to live near the San Andreas Fault than Dorothy's Kansas.

However, I am in Taiwan, which is not known for its quality construction. After the quake, Jen and I were talking about the Taipei Financial Center, intended to be the world's tallest building. Envy is the motivator for constructing such buildings. Wouldn't the money being spent on this project be better used on something that the Taiwanese public could all take pride in, something that will outlast the next hubristic real estate developer's latest project? How about refurbishing and improving the National Palace Musem so that it becomes the premier center of Chinese culture? After all, this is an achievable feat that the PRC wouldn't be able to surpass - the Cultural Revolution ensured that.

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