South Asia suffered a 7.6 magnitude earthquake epicentered around 60 miles north of Pakistan's capital Islamabad, with tens of thousands feared dead and many more injured. The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, India and Kabul, Afghanistan, and seems to have done particular damage in the Hindu Kush Mountains region, around disputed Kashmir, particularly on the Pakistani side of the line of control (where at least one report suspects 30,000 dead alone). This is reported to be the largest quake in the area in over a century.
While the recriminations stateside will continue over Hurricane Katrina (whose death toll officially exceeds 1,000), other natural-disaster suffering continues, such as the well over 1,000 dead in Guatemalan mudslides after Hurricane Stan, in which it is feared that 1400 are dead.)
I point this out, of course, because... being a human being is a very risky proposition. If it's not the weather over you, it may be the ground under you that gives way. Certainly, some precautions are actually appropriate (early evacuation, decent earthquake-proof construction, or panicky announcements that Al Qaeda will attack your city's subway system some tiime today.) On that last one, the jury remains out as to whether our mayor overreacted given that the White House allegedly under-played the "credibility" of the stated threat, or whether there is some kind of (shades of Tom Ridge) game afoot, given (1) the President's sudden swoon in polls and his (14th? 23rd?) "big terrorism speech" the day of the annoucement, (2) Karl's grand jury appearance and possible indictment, and/or (3) Mayor Michael Bloomberg's adverse publicity from his failure to attend a debate in Harlem last week... who knows? Worse yet, if there is some kind of a tragedy on NYC's subways on the lightest travel day of the week (during a holiday weekend no less)... then the precautions will have proved to be more than well-warranted... Of course, I suspect that my chosing to drive up and back to and run in yesterday's Hartford Marathon, given the dangers associated with a couple-of-hour drive in a windy, driving rain each way and 5 or 6 hours of slog-jogging in said wind/rain conditions... was probably, as a statistical matter, far more hazardous a proposition than getting on the subway today...
Just saying. I learned myself after 9-11, that ostensibly it was just luck-- dumb freaking luck-- that sent someone to a high floor of the Trade Center, and hence, to their death-- or to a lower floor, or in my case, to a building across the street, where they could walk home with the story of their life. As I said above: precautions are criticial at changing the odds of safety, and frankly, there is no excuse for not taking reasonable precautions. It's just that there are no certainties of much of anything in our world, including and especially a certainty of security. There just isn't any such thing as certainty, no matter what "our leaders" tell us, or what we would like to believe.