Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Acts of GOD vs. Government, Governed, Geeks, Gadgets, Google, GoodReader

I live in the East Coast of the United States,  in McLean, Virginia which is a suburb of Washington, D.C. Our place is also known as the home of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), that of the Kennedys, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Pat Buchanan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Paul Begala and many other celebrities who go to St. Luke’s, our parish church.

My barber’s shop is also located in McLean. We usually talk about ideas, events and other people in his place of work. But the latest topic was certainly closest to home.

Most recently, we had to experience a couple of natural disasters – an earthquake and a hurricane named “IRENE”. My research shows that the earthquake that happened last Tuesday, August 22nd was centered in Mineral, Virginia with a magnitude of 5.8. It was the largest one that Virginia had since 1897.

Luckily, while the quake rattled the whole of the East Coast, there was no serious damage or serious injuries. The White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon were evacuated in Washington, thousands of alarmed federal workers run into the streets, and items came crashing down from store and office shelves.
I was home on the phone with a foreign client  during the earthquake. I was sitting next to my bookshelf, which came crashing down with all my books and boxes with my gadgets. I mentioned this to my client calmly describing the event but continued our discussion until he reminded me, “don’t you think you should get out of the house?”  I started walking down the stairs and out the door still talking on the phone.

I don’t know why but somehow the earthquake did not bother me.. Perhaps because of my exposure to and experience with them in Manila and Tokyo. And we used to have regular earthquake drills in Huntington Beach High School, California during my teenage years.

Hurricane IRENE is a different story. This was one Act of GOD that Kinetic Analysis reported to have caused damages amounting to about $7 billion. It was originally estimated that it could reach as high as $20 billion but later on reduced to $7 billion. "The damage from Hurricane Irene appears to be less severe than initially feared, minimizing the economic impact on both the U.S. and Northeast economies," said Ryan Sweet at Moody's Analytics.

It was also reported that at least 29 deaths were blamed on the storm, and millions of people were left without power along the East Coast after Irene passed over the northeastern United States and headed for Canada.

Human beings as well as institutions created by mankind are never matches against Mother Nature. Rains, flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis and other acts of GOD are unstoppable. Their usually devastating effects can only be minimized.

After witnessing a series of man-made disasters in Washington, D.C. brought about by a broken and divided Government as manifested in the debt ceiling debates, frustration to the brink of despair engulfed the American populace.

However, I actually felt hopeful after observing the actuations of the Government; the Group efforts of the Governed; the usefulness and effectiveness of the technologies and Gadgets produced by the Geeks; the efficiency of Google in providing timely information; and the knowledge and entertainment made available and accessible by GoodReader.

“GOD helps those who help themselves.” Asking or praying for GOD’s help in facing the challenges brought about by Mother Nature is expected. But to stop there and hope that a miracle would ensue and therefore solve all troubles would not necessarily produce expected results.


Facing the possible damaging effects of IRENE, I saw before and after how good it was to see Government, be it Federal, State or Municipal, at work. It did not matter whether they were Democrats, Republicans or Independents. They were helping others, each other and, in the process, themselves.

Group Actions of the GOVERNED

The Governed heeding the appeals, instructions and directives of the Government proved to be effective in minimizing damages, injuries and fatalities. Volunteer groups, gift-giving donors and the goodness of fellow governed lessened whatever devastating impact the hurricane brought.


Scientific and Technological advances in weather forecasting, flood prevention, architecture, engineering, information technology and other industrial and consumer technologies have been helpful. Preparing for a possible power outage, all my Gadgets were ready for use. The batteries of my IPAD, IPHONE, IPOD TOUCH, ANDROID, Blackberry, Nokia, Battery-operated Fan and Radio, MacBook Pro, and my Flashlights were all fully charged. So was my electric Stand and Ride Segway.


All my computer and communications Gadgets have wireless and WIFI connections. Installed in them is Google, which allows me to access and search whatever data, information, knowledge, photos, songs, audio books, videos/movies and whatever wisdom I need to have online and in some cases offline.

The GoodReader is software in IPAD2 that allows me to access any document that I stored in Google Docs, Drop Box, Sugar Sync and other depositories in the Internet anywhere and anytime. My Kindle and my eBooks were always available too.


Under French Law, it is called “force majeure”. Under International Law, it is named, “vis major”. In the Philippines we call it fortuitous events. They all refer to Mother Nature and Acts of GOD – caused by some “superior force” which could only be defeated or neutralized by an equally supreme entity, hence the need to pray.

The Governed helping themselves either individually or in groups, working with officials they have chosen to govern and utilizing technologies created by fellow human beings for their benefit and welfare should now justify asking for additional but “superior” assistance.


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