Top ten events from 2010

This is not in depth, and in no particular order. Like all such lists, it is skewed, based on my own interests.

1. January 12, 2010: The magnitude 7 earthquake in Haiti. I was working at night then, and turned to Twitter after realizing it had happened just before nightfall and knowing how horrible it would be to have to be in darkness right after that. I didn’t know Fredo Dupoux had been one of the first to notify the world of the event, but did find him in a general search and just told him that Haiti wasn’t alone. He thanked me. Later on, some of his tweets were heartbreaking:

dead bodies are everywhere i havent seen one ambulance or any proffesionl med care anywhere in port-au-prince.

However, things did improve for him. There are many problems there still for the country, but the video I associate with this tragedy is one made for Haiti by some of its neighbors in the Dominican Republic:

Unfortunately, less than 5% of the debris left after the quake has been removed yet, almost a year out. Ayiti leve kanpe!

2. Another powerful music video was made in 2010 by the Iranian-Canadian group Blurred Vision, who did a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Brick in the Wall” (and per some media reports the folks in Pink Floyd are fine with this):

It’s a good video, but worth remarking now because it jump-started Western interest in the Iran “Green” protest movement that had garnered world-wide attention in 2009.

3. A couple volcanoes, one in Iceland (Eyjafjallajökull, starting in May) and one in Indonesia (Merapi, starting in October) erupted, causing much hardship for hundreds of thousands of people overall, even though neither eruption was extreme (possibly a VEI 3-4 for Merapi and VEI 4 for Eyjafjallajökull). It was a good reminder of just how fragile our global society really is.

4. In the Gulf of Mexico, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon drill rig in April and it sank. The resulting oil spill continued until July 15th when a temporary cap was successfully placed; on September 19th, the well was officially declared “dead.” The legal stuff has only just begun, and the political hay from it is still being reaped. I would classify that as a successful failure (as they called the Apollo 13 mission) because, while the environmental and human damage was enormous, the oil industry really pushed beyond the curve in terms of technological application and successful sealed a well at depths far greater than has ever been done before.

5. On May 1st and 2nd, a 100-year flood event hit western and middle Tennessee. It displaced thousands of people and heavily damaged hundreds of businesses, including such historic landmarks as the Grand Ole Opry and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. The national media pretty much ignored the whole thing, but locally and regionally, people kept their sense of humor (there’s a little cussing, lots of irony, and what should an X-rated weather forecast image at this YouTube video link), and everybody is pretty much recovered now, I guess.

6. Somebody tried to plant a bomb in Times Square in May. Only Dave Barry in his 2010 Year in Review can really sum up the whole tragicomic event well:

On the terror front, New York City police, alerted by Times Square street vendors, discover a smoking SUV packed with explosives — a violation of many city ordinances, including the ban on smoking. Fortunately, the car bomb is disarmed, and a suspect is later captured at Kennedy Airport by sharp-eyed TSA officers trained to spot suspicious behavior.

Ha ha! Just kidding, of course. The suspect is captured by U.S. Customs agents at the last minute after boarding a Dubai-bound plane filled with passengers who, like the suspect, had all been carefully screened by the TSA to make sure they were not carrying more than three ounces of shampoo.

7. Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris had to go into hiding (at her own expense) after her joke about a “Draw Mohammed Day” backfired and Yemeni-American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki issued a fatwa against her. As the Seattle Weekly put it on September 15th, “You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.” Think about it.

8. Typhoon Megi (or Juan, as it was known in the Philippines), at 885 mb, was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded on the planet. It made a direct hit on Luzon, Philippines, in October, severely damaging infrastructure, but thanks to emergency preparations including evacuation of the population and stockpiling of rice, the death toll was only 19, and there were no rice shortages.

9. A new “super” malware called Stuxnet hit Iran’s nuclear development program; it is highly advanced and close to impossible to remove. Per various reports, Iran’s capability for producing a nuclear weapon has been set back at least 3 years or possibly even stopped altogether. Heh.

10. The first non-English-language IMAX movie, Aftershock, or Tangshan Dadizhen, directed by Feng Xiaogang, was released on July 22nd in China, September 17th in Canada, and October 29th in the United States. It has become the highest-grossing Chinese-language film of all time. Based on a novel by Zhang Ling, according to the movie credits, it uses the 1976 Tangshan earthquake as the basis to show the social/cultural “earthquake” Chinese society has gone through in the last three decades. The human story told is also compelling. It’s a good movie, though difficult to find currently in the United States. I watched it on one of the few DVDs available through Amazon, but would have liked to see it in IMAX.

And there you have it.

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