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What is the best US city or state to live in?

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I personally think that, knowing the risk, that it would be fairly foolish to live anywhere near the coast of the American northwest, particularly in much of the Seattle area. The Cascadia Subduction Zone regularly creates quakes comparable to the great Indian Ocean quake of December 2004. The time scale is only in the hundreds of years, but the last such quake was before the memory of any non-Indians. And of course, because of that, there's a complacency and a deep sense of "it can't happen here". A nice job in a pleasant setting can be had without wondering whether a magnitude 9+ quake is going to knock down the building you're in, liquify the soil beneath it, while a tsunami heads your way in case you escaped the first two. I wonder what opportunities were worth living in Bandah Aceh. If such quakes occured 50,000 years apart, it would be entirely paranoid to worry about them. But 300 years (with the exact interval an unknown) for a completely catastrophic event is a different story.

People have routinely lived on the slopes of active volcanoes that erupt infrequently enough to produce an unwarranted comfort level - until it blows and everyone dies.

Isn't that a little pessimistic and paranoid though? Should we all evacuate the American Northwest because an earthquake might happen in the next 400 years? I think it is equally as possible for the home I grew up in (in Tornado Alley) to be destroyed by an F5 by then. And aren’t we also due for another magnetic-pole reversal as well as a catastrophic meteor impact in the future? If we want to go far enough, Andromeda Galaxy is going to collide with us in 3 billion years, should we worry about that too?

I know that sounds ridiculous, but, don’t you think there are people living in the American Northwest who accept the risk but stay because they love living there, and taking the risk to live where they want is more important than cringing over natural disasters that might happen?

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Isn't that a little pessimistic and paranoid though? Should we all evacuate the American Northwest because an earthquake might happen in the next 400 years? I think it is equally as possible for the home I grew up in (in Tornado Alley) to be destroyed by an F5 by then. And aren’t we also due for another magnetic-pole reversal as well as a catastrophic meteor impact in the future? If we want to go far enough, Andromeda Galaxy is going to collide with us in 3 billion years, should we worry about that too?

I know that sounds ridiculous, but, don’t you think there are people living in the American Northwest who accept the risk but stay because they love living there, and taking the risk to live where they want is more important than cringing over natural disasters that might happen?

I agree. I think most people could benefit by learning the difference between what is probable and what is possible. Tons of things are possible but that does not make them very probable.

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I would recommend not moving to Arizona, based on what you're looking for. The temperature today is about 90 degrees (in April). The school commonly regarded as the best academically in the state (though I don't know about for philosophy) is in Tucson, which is extremely dirty and ghetto at least anywhere near the university. The traffic is extremely bad for a relatively small city, and driving is extremely slow. If you go to ASU in Phoenix the traffic and living environment is a lot better, but the temperature is still extremely high and it's annoying to go outside in the summer.

I doubt that you would honestly be looking into going to either of those schools, but I figured with your large number of schools/areas there was an outside chance.

Since you like sunny weather I won't try to convince you that Seattle is a fun place to live with a decent school... :angry2:

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I would recommend not moving to Arizona, based on what you're looking for.

I heartily second that! I grew up in the Valley of the Sun and the only good things in the whole Valley and southern Arizona area are what people bring with them. Humans constantly have to make it livable. It may be a red state, but that's only because it walked outside to get the mail. :angry2:

I don't think you're considering the Purdue/West Lafayette area, but just so you know...

Summers range in the mid 90s at its hottest but generally stays in the 80s (during the day) with a balmy cool at night. This winter was particularly cold for a little while and got as low as the 10s at one point, but the general low is 20s (at night) and 30-40s during the day. Winter is about 5 months long with infrequent periods of snow/melt. It only consistently snowed enough to be able to sled twice; it's usually more like 1-3 inches here and there. I know some people who say that the area is very often overcast, but it's not something I've noticed.

My experience with the politics is very specific and very discouraging, so I'm inclined to call it liberal.

There really is no water in the area (to play on) besides Lake Michigan which along with Chigaco is a two hour drive. Indianapolis is an hour drive.

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San Diego is a wonderful place.... When I lived down there, I worked with a group of guys who would surf for an hour or two around dawn before coming in to work.

And therein lies the difference between surfers in San Diego and Los Angeles. When I worked near a beach community in LA years ago, the guys would go surfing for a hour or two around noon while at work! :angry2:

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You might laugh when I say this, but Salt Lake also has qualities of a "blue city in a red state". The mayor of Salt Lake, Rocky Anderson, is very liberal. And less than 50% of Salt Lake is Mormon. The rest of the state is a different story, of course, but I think in Salt Lake the Mormonism is fairly toned down.

Salt Lake has beautiful sunny skies but a (fairly mild) four season climate, and you can be in a place to hike or ski in 20 minutes. That is partly because the city is so close to the mountains--and partly because the freeways and roads are easy to get around on and fast. I think its an easy state to do business in, as well, for a self-employed person. I have had business licenses in several different states, and Utah has been by far the simplest to deal with. (Arizona definitely loses points in that area.)

There are also some really great Objectivists in Salt Lake. I doubt the Philosophy departments at the universities are any good though. :angry2:

Oh and also...its cheap! :angry2:

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I have lived through two major urban earthquakes and it is no big deal. In fact, we were right in the epicenter of the Northridge quake.

Sure. But earthquake magnitudes are non-linear. A subduction zone quake of the sort that occured in the Indian Ocean, with estimated magnitude 9.2, is vastly more powerful than anything you've experienced, and much more likely to create monster tsunamis. Stephen probably knows for sure, but I suspect that your house, and all of your neighbor's houses, would not survive close proximity to such a quake. Also, I don't think your location would be at risk for tsunamis, but from what I've read, the coastal Pacific Northwest including much of Seattle would be vulnerable.

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Isn't that a little pessimistic and paranoid though?

Well, no, I don't think so, or I wouldn't have mentioned it :angry2: I recall very similar words from somebody I talked with a few years ago regarding going to school at Tulane in New Orleans, who also had relatives living in the area.

Should we all evacuate the American Northwest because an earthquake might happen in the next 400 years?

No, I am not a totalitarian, I think people should be able to live wherever they want, as long as I don't have to pay for the consequences. (e.g. New Orleans.) If you don't mind working in buildings that will not survive a Cascadia Subduction Zone major quake with attendant tsunami(s), feel free. The time frame for the next one is not likely to be as long as 400 years, from what I've been reading, which is my point. If I really wanted to live in that area, say because I worked for Microsoft, I would personally try to learn as much as I can about the risk and adjust my daily habits, including where I work and live, to avoid the areas of greatest probable destruction while still pursuing my values.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but, don’t you think there are people living in the American Northwest who accept the risk but stay because they love living there, and taking the risk to live where they want is more important than cringing over natural disasters that might happen?

No, I think they just plain like or love it there and don't spend any time whatever thinking about the risk, or superficially do and blow it off, which is usual human behavior. It is much easier to shoot the messenger of bad news (figuratively speaking). Just ask anyone who lived in New Orleans up until Katrina, despite the near certainty of a catastrophic event in their lifetime that would deprive them of home, property, jobs, and possibly their lives (nor is Katrina the end of it, worse is yet to come, with virtual certainty). The rationalization/evasion in place was of the form: Lots of people live here, ergo, nothing too bad can happen - lots of people can't be wrong. As I said, many people have, and do, live near or literally on the slopes of active volcanoes. That is entirely their right, but I lack sympathy for the inevitable and predictable consequences, because all risks are *not* the same, though the rationalizations of them seem to be.

You can be insulting if you wish by comparing such risks to the absurd non-risk of the billions-of-years-in-the-future events, as though I fail to grasp the difference, or that there *is* no difference, but that does not erase the actual reality that some places are much riskier than others to live, because of the probability of events that could occur in your own lifetime. I would define risk as an assessment of probability of a certain negative consequence in your own lifetime, that can be acted upon. They should not be the *focus* of life, but in reality they exist and are relevant, whether anybody chooses to consider them or not.

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Isn't that a little pessimistic and paranoid though? Should we all evacuate the American Northwest because an earthquake might happen in the next 400 years? ...

... don’t you think there are people living in the American Northwest who accept the risk but stay because they love living there, and taking the risk to live where they want is more important than cringing over natural disasters that might happen?

...

I think most people could benefit by learning the difference between what is probable and what is possible. Tons of things are possible but that does not make them very probable.

Phil also distinguished between the possible and degrees of probability. He didn't say to spend your life cringing; he said to look at the known probabilities and decide what risk you can tolerate rather than adopt an evasive "complacency" of a "deep sense of 'it can't happen here'". He did not say we should "all evacuate the American Northwest because an earthquake might happen in the next 400 years"; he said there is a high contemporary risk on the coast for a 9+ quake and a tsunami, and that he personally thinks that risk is foolish to take.

PhilO: ...earthquake magnitudes are non-linear.
They are in fact exponential. The commonly reported Richter scale is log base 10 of the wave amplitude. An increase of one unit of magnitude on the Richter scale has ten times the wave amplitude and much more of an increase in energy. The classes of earthquakes range from barely measureable to guaranteed destruction, which classes occur with decreasing frequency -- so the small (or even relatively large) ones that some of us have experienced are not representative of the kind of destruction Phil is talking about. The devastating Northridge earthquake in California in 1994 and which the Speicher home fortunately survived had a magntude of 6.7. The magnitude of the 9+ threat Phil believes is realistic for the northwest coast is 100-1000 times greater in wave amplitude alone, with unimaginable higher energy release -- plus a tsunami.

The world as raw nature is not provided to us as a utopian environment guaranteeing life. It has the potential to be what we need provided we adopt it to our needs in accordance with "nature to be commanded must be obeyed". There will always be risks and tradeoffs to be assessed and contended with the best we can, but with no guarantees.

Phil also mentioned that he had anticpated the risk of the New Orleans levees. Much of that risk was not natural, but political. Politicians looking for short term gratification of power lust knowlingly took money that had been designated to maintain the levees and squandered it on politically motivated spending. Maybe blue states are more dangerous :angry2:, but Republicans can't be trusted either and you have to look at the specific situation for any area.

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No, I am not a totalitarian, I think people should be able to live wherever they want, as long as I don't have to pay for the consequences. (e.g. New Orleans.) If you don't mind working in buildings that will not survive a Cascadia Subduction Zone major quake with attendant tsunami(s), feel free.

I just said evacuate, not forced evacuation.

You can be insulting if you wish by comparing such risks to the absurd non-risk of the billions-of-years-in-the-future events, as though I fail to grasp the difference, or that there *is* no difference...

My aim was not to insult.

...but that does not erase the actual reality that some places are much riskier than others to live, because of the probability of events that could occur in your own lifetime. I would define risk as an assessment of probability of a certain negative consequence in your own lifetime, that can be acted upon. They should not be the *focus* of life, but in reality they exist and are relevant, whether anybody chooses to consider them or not.

Right, and my point was that perhaps people love living somewhere so much that the risks are non-important to them, and that a natural disaster coming in a time-window of four-times the current life-expectancy is less frightening than the dangers they already face in daily life (traffic, crime, tornado, etc.).

I grant that I may have interpreted your post on the dangers of an earthquake in the Pacific Northwest to be more pessimistic or paranoid than what you meant.

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My aim was not to insult.

Ok, perhaps I was a bit touchy.

Re: tornadoes, I really don't consider them to be comparable. According to this page at NOAA, the number of recorded deaths from tornadoes has been about 20,000 since 1680. The 12/2004 Indian Ocean quake+tsunami alone killed more than 10 times that number. The 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas alone killed up to 8,000 people. Tornadoes are a small transient risk by comparison, and the areas they affect at any one time are miniscule compared to either quakes or hurricanes.

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Re: tornadoes, I really don't consider them to be comparable. According to this page at NOAA, the number of recorded deaths from tornadoes has been about 20,000 since 1680. The 12/2004 Indian Ocean quake+tsunami alone killed more than 10 times that number. The 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas alone killed up to 8,000 people. Tornadoes are a small transient risk by comparison, and the areas they affect at any one time are miniscule compared to either quakes or hurricanes.

The 1900 hurricane isn't really fair to include though because that was before RADAR or any kind of weather forecasting or alert system, so that huge hurricane completely caught the town unawares in the middle of the night; something which will never happen again in our modern world.

That's why I would think myself more likely to die from a Tornado: hurricanes are relatively easy to track, tornadoes are virtually completely random!

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Re: tornadoes, I really don't consider them to be comparable. According to this page at NOAA, the number of recorded deaths from tornadoes has been about 20,000 since 1680. The 12/2004 Indian Ocean quake+tsunami alone killed more than 10 times that number. The 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas alone killed up to 8,000 people.
All of which are preventable.

There are seismic devices all along the US West Coast and tsunami warning systems that can warn people in enough time to leave the beach and head for the hills. You can buy a house on higher ground. You can purchase insurance for property damage. (If the insurance is unavailable or way too costly, it should tell you something.)

Hurricanes are now tracked by satellites and, although there is still major property damage (Buy insurance!), loss of life is way down from what it used to be.

Life is risky. As risks go, I prefer the ones that are (1) preventable, (2) avoidable, (3) something I can prepare for, (4) unlikely to affect me and/or do much damage, (5) happen infrequently, and (6) are insurable. By that standard, I'll risk earthquakes, not worry about tornados, and avoid places prone to hurricanes or crime.

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That's why I would think myself more likely to die from a Tornado: hurricanes are relatively easy to track, tornadoes are virtually completely random!

Radar tracking warning also applies to tornadoes now. I can't think of any recent instances where a damage-causing tornado existed without radar identification and corresponding warnings (here, sirens sounding and TV/radio/internet broadcasts.)

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All of which are preventable. There are seismic devices all along the US West Coast and tsunami warning systems that can warn people in enough time to leave the beach and head for the hills.

I've seen reports on those in Oregon. For a M9+ quake from a fault that's 50 miles from the coast, when tsunami waves travel over 500 mph, I'm a more than a little skeptical about the available warning time, particularly for effects on Seattle. There's also the factor of the actual seismic activity causing major ground shaking for many minutes and what it does to escape roads (again, very unlike conventional quakes.)

Hurricanes are now tracked by satellites and, although there is still major property damage (Buy insurance!), loss of life is way down from what it used to be.

Yes - though I have a friend who lives, with his wife, on Sanibel Island, Florida. A beautiful place apparently, but they've had to evacuate numerous times and their house sustained several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage and they had to stay away for several weeks from all of their possessions, then go through a lengthy rebuilding process. That is too much for me, but some would find it an acceptable tradeoff, and I can understand that. Predictability definitely lowers risk.

Life is risky. As risks go, I prefer the ones that are (1) preventable, (2) avoidable, (3) something I can prepare for, (4) unlikely to affect me and/or do much damage, (5) happen infrequently, and (6) are insurable. By that standard, I'll risk earthquakes, not worry about tornados, and avoid places prone to hurricanes or crime.

Sensible, as usual. :angry2: Speaking personally, I would risk most California earthquakes, though I'd avoid living on hillsides and right over fault lines, if I had a compelling reason to be there. The state has many appeals, but currently, for me, it's still too much of a "people's state". I wish Arnold had been more successful in changing that.

Having visited Seattle, I personally *don't* see an appeal strong enough to risk the potential downside, at least so far. I'm fairly averse to the idea of possibly being hit by a quake with over 100x the energy of the Northridge one, lasting for well over 10x longer, then wondering where the tsunami(s) are. There's a difference between a little tolerable ground shaking, and being scoured off the earth by 80-100 foot long period tsunami waves, as happened in Banda Aceh. Even with a warning system they would have had about 15 minutes to get out of danger, though that's more than the 5-10 minutes warning the Pacific NW is going to get from the Cascadia zone, which is about 50 miles off the coast. The tsunami waves travel about 500 mph until they approach the shoreline.

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...

Having visited Seattle, I personally *don't* see an appeal strong enough to risk the potential downside, at least so far. I'm fairly averse to the idea of possibly being hit by a quake with over 100x the energy of the Northridge one, lasting for well over 10x longer, then wondering where the tsunami(s) are. There's a difference between a little tolerable ground shaking, and being scoured off the earth by 80-100 foot long period tsunami waves, as happened in Banda Aceh. Even with a warning system they would have had about 15 minutes to get out of danger, though that's more than the 5-10 minutes warning the Pacific NW is going to get from the Cascadia zone, which is about 50 miles off the coast. The tsunami waves travel about 500 mph until they approach the shoreline.

I'm having a hard time following your argument about a Tsunami. Are you talking about the danger in Seattle and its suburbs, or the Washington coast? You're saying the fault is 50 miles off the coast. (I've heard more like 100+ miles, but OK.) But, Seattle is not on the coast - it's on Puget Sound: it's about 100 miles inland from the coast - and that's the direct distance - a tsunami would have to travel a much longer route to get there. Everyone who doesn't live around here probably thinks of Seattle as being on "the coast", but it isn't. Not really.

As for the Tsunami danger, the Washington coast would indeed be in danger, because it would be directly in the path, and fairly close. But for the Tsunami to get to Seattle, it would have to travel down the comparatively narrow Strait of Juan de Fuca (a channel that, on my map, looks like it's about 20 miles wide and maybe 70 miles long) and then down Puget Sound. There isn't any other way for the water to get to Seattle: the Olympic Peninsula is in the way. How destructive would the tsunami be by the time it got to Seattle? I don't know, but I suspect all of the circuitous travel it would have to do to get there would dissipate much of its energy.

Now if you're talking about the coast, which it sounds like, you have to remember that it's sparsely populated. There aren't any big cities on the Washington coast: more like small towns here and there. I'm sure the tsunami danger there would be great, and I have heard of the people living there taking precautions - drills etc.

As for the earthquake itself, I also don't know how fast the destruction dissipates as you get further from the epicenter. If the quake is centered 50 miles off the coast, that's 150 miles from Seattle. I'm sure a 9+ magnitude one would be dangerous, even at that distance, but I don't know how to quantify how that would compare to being, say, 20 miles from the center of a 6.5 one.

(I had also been under the impression that the Richter scale was base-10-logarithmic in energy, not amplitude, so if it's indeed the latter, then the energy difference is much greater than I thought and I've learned something.)

I'm not trying to brush aside the earthquake danger in Western WA: it's real, and judging by the increases in earthquake insurance premiums, people are becoming more aware of it, but I wanted to bring some geographic facts into the discussion.

Oh yes, we have volcanoes here too! But, the last one to erupt, Mt. St. Helens (1980) is in a very sparsely populated area - there aren't even 10,000 people in the whole county. But what force that was - the mountain is 1300ft shorter than before the eruption. Mt. Rainier is another story - it's a much bigger mountain, and much nearer population. Whenever it erupts, there will be some big mudflows. But of course there will be plenty of warning to get away before it blows up - months, at least. So there would be much property destruction, but little loss of life, except for those who insisted on staying no matter what.

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Did you live in Europe during the Cold War?
I spent the better part of my childhood in small Bavarian town, about a fifteen minute drive from the Austrian border, called Bad Toelz where my father was stationed at a small US army base called Flint Kaserne. At the time I was blissfully ignorant of the base's dark beginnings. The "useless bridge" in question was die Isarbruecke right in the middle of town. When I found out much later in life what had happened -- all but one of the dozen or so boys ordered to defend that bridge were killed -- at a place that held so many happy childhood memories for me, my blood ran cold.

Sensible, as usual. :angry2: Speaking personally, I would risk most California earthquakes, though I'd avoid living on hillsides and right over fault lines, if I had a compelling reason to be there...

...Having visited Seattle, I personally *don't* see an appeal strong enough to risk the potential downside, at least so far.

I certainly prefer San Diego weather to the drippy gloom of Seattle. People living near Puget Sound don't tan, they rust. :wacko: And whenever I visit family in Washington State, I get a taste of Seattle politics, which sometimes makes California politics -- at least that part of it behind the "Orange Curtain" -- look almost sensible. :angry2:

I heartily second that! I grew up in the Valley of the Sun and the only good things in the whole Valley and southern Arizona area are what people bring with them. Humans constantly have to make it livable. It may be a red state, but that's only because it walked outside to get the mail. :D
Coming from humid Houston, Arizona was a breath of fresh air. I discovered that if there is no humidity, I have a high tolerance for heat. I don't start getting uncomfortable in dry air until the thermometer hits about 110 Fahrenheit. But the summers there get enough hotter than my tolerance to be downright oppressive. But I adapted and got used to things like driving with oven mitts on. :angry2:

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this page at NOAA, the number of recorded deaths from tornadoes has been about 20,000 since 1680. The 12/2004 Indian Ocean quake+tsunami alone killed more than 10 times that number.

Although these figures are true, it's appropriate to keep in mind that tornados are routinely killing Americans who live in safe, advanced, and industrialized societies. Earthquakes do not seem to have the same disasterous effects on civilized countries. Japan routinely has magnitude 8+ earthquakes and not a single person dies in many.

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I'm having a hard time following your argument about a Tsunami. Are you talking about the danger in Seattle and its suburbs, or the Washington coast? You're saying the fault is 50 miles off the coast. (I've heard more like 100+ miles, but OK.) But, Seattle is not on the coast - it's on Puget Sound: it's about 100 miles inland from the coast - and that's the direct distance - a tsunami would have to travel a much longer route to get there. Everyone who doesn't live around here probably thinks of Seattle as being on "the coast", but it isn't. Not really.

This is one suggestive article: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/211012...iscience07.html

Scientists studying the Indian Ocean tsunami have discovered startling evidence that the killer waves, at least for one coastal area in northern Indonesia, were much larger than earlier believed.

Scientists studying the Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed at least 160,000 people, had heard the reports of higher waves -- of branches and bark stripped off the first 80 feet of trees, of water marks and roof damage found at or beyond the height of six- or seven-story buildings -- but most figured these were the results of the wave running up slopes or isolated instances of "focusing." ... But Moore said his team's wave-height measurements were consistent over a long stretch of coastline and found well back from any slopes, indicating these were direct measurements of the overall elevation of this massive wall of water as it came on shore. ... But the tectonics of Cascadia and the undersea subduction fault near Sumatra that spawned the Dec. 26 tsunami are alarmingly similar, Walsh said. "We look a lot like the Indian Ocean," he said, which means they may need to incorporate some new, bigger numbers in the hazard maps. ... Another finding that may be of critical importance to communities farther from the coast, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in Puget Sound, was the Dec. 26 tsunami's ability to retain its force even when going around corners. Scientists studying the waves' behavior in Sri Lanka were stunned to see what happened on the leeward side of the island nation. "It was fairly large in many locations on the west side, bigger than the numerical models predict," said Phil Liu, the Cornell University scientist who led an American survey team in Sri Lanka.

There is also the Seattle fault lying beneath Puget Sound, which has a high potential to create tsunamis directly from the Sound.

One thing to remember is that a tsunami wave has a very long period. It is almost nothing like a conventional wave. It's almost as if a "block" of water were lifted (or dropped) at once from the ocean floor. A conventional wave might not get past channels, but this is like the entire ocean at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca being raised a significant amount. The Strait leads right to Puget Sound, and of course Seattle is built right up to the Sound, including downtown.

Regarding the size of the effects of a subduction zone quake:

In Seattle, it could cause one to three minutes with accelerations of up to 0.5g and would be accompanied by many aftershocks.
(http://www.cityofseattle.net/emergency_mgt...earthquakes.htm)

Soil liquifaction is another big problem - there's a lot of water in/near Seattle, and even moderate quakes can liquify soil by causing water to mix with it, and lose structural integrity (i.e. building foundations). But this is not a moderate hypothetical quake, it's much larger for much longer.

This link describes various measurement systems for earthquake magnitude, their physical meaning, and how they relate: http://www.seismo.unr.edu/ftp/pub/louie/cl.../magnitude.html. The seismic wave energy doesn't go up by a factor of 10 per Richter magnitude, but by *32*, given the table in that article. A Richter magnitude 9 quake (the 2004 Indian Ocean quake was even larger, as could be a Cascadia quake), emitted seismic wave energy equivalent to about a 32 Gigaton (32,000 megaton) thermonuclear bomb. By way of contrast, the 1994 Northridge, California quake was about 5 megatons. In other words, a Cascadia quake of the same magnitude as the 2004 Indian Ocean quake would emit over 10,000 times the amount of energy as Northridge.

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Although these figures are true, it's appropriate to keep in mind that tornados are routinely killing Americans who live in safe, advanced, and industrialized societies. Earthquakes do not seem to have the same disasterous effects on civilized countries. Japan routinely has magnitude 8+ earthquakes and not a single person dies in many.

Like Kobe, Japan, in 1995? http://www.seismo.unr.edu/ftp/pub/louie/cl.../magnitude.html. More than 5,000 people died.

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And whenever I visit family in Washington State, I get a taste of Seattle politics, which sometimes makes California politics -- at least that part of it behind the "Orange Curtain" -- look almost sensible. :angry2:

Yeah. I was in Seattle a few years ago, poking around to see if I liked it there. On top of the lousy weather, there was this: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/WASEAlenin.html A statue of *Lenin* brought in from Europe!

Coming from humid Houston, Arizona was a breath of fresh air. I discovered that if there is no humidity, I have a high tolerance for heat. I don't start getting uncomfortable in dry air until the thermometer hits about 110 Fahrenheit. But the summers there get enough hotter than my tolerance to be downright oppressive. But I adapted and got used to things like driving with oven mitts on. :angry2:

Except for the period of extreme heat, I love Phoenix weather. (And personally, even 105 degrees there felt *much* more pleasant to me than 80 F. with high Indiana humidity.) Water should stay under man-made control, not floating in excessive amounts in the air. :angry2: Or scouring away your city with a tsunami...

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I've lived in Phoenix since 1999 and absolutely love it here. Yes it's very hot in summer, but it's dry, as others have noted. It has a generally very good business climate and it's not particularly religious, aside from the Mormons who are in abundance here. I've found they're easy to ignore.

Home prices have increased quite a bit in the past couple years, but good deals can still be had. I recently put money down on a new condo in Scottsdale, which is well known for its pricey neighborhoods. I was able to get a 1000 square-foot place in a nice complex for the low 200s. That is probably high for people accustomed to smaller city prices, but it's a steal compared to anything in California.

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What you say is true of many rural areas all across the country, where people tend to be non-"intellectual" (but not stupid). It's the price you pay for having areas less affected by modern intellectual anti-individualist influences.

I don't mean intellectual in the sense of "Ivory-Tower" College Intellectuals: I mean living in a city where the people consider "a good time" to be going to watch a symphony perform or dine at a nice restaurant--not getting drunk at a bar and pinching the waitress’s butt, making vulgar jokes about “Brokeback Mountain” and watching NASCAR.

Concrete example: I’ve done a lot of traveling outside of the state of Texas this spring semester of college, and while visiting a city out of the south I was astonished when for the first time in my life I went to a store that sold only alcoholic beverages that didn’t have a 6ft tall poster of a bimbo advertising beer.

I guess cultured may be a more appropriate term for what I'm looking for than intellectual.

Once again, I don't think I'm being cynical, just brutally-fair based on what I've experienced growing up and working on a farm, and travelling frequently, in Texas.

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I guess cultured may be a more appropriate term for what I'm looking for than intellectual.

Once again, I don't think I'm being cynical, just brutally-fair based on what I've experienced growing up and working on a farm, and travelling frequently, in Texas.

There was a fascinating book, Investment Biker, by successful investment banker Jim Rogers (book title being a pun on that), that I read several years ago. It's about his (and his then-girlfriend, now wife) travels around the world by motorcycle, the longest such trip ever made on a bike. Rogers has an advanced degree in history, so it's additionally interesting to read his commentaries on the various countries, in that light.

He and his gf crossed Europe, Russia, Siberia, the top of Africa all the way down (travelling the Sahara on sand tires), then all the way from the bottom of South America to Panama. Then they finished back in the U.S. They managed all of these tens of thousands of miles without a really serious mishap, which is rather incredible.

So during the last U.S. leg, they were entering Texas and took a picture of a sign saying 'Welcome to Texas.' Caption: Would we really make it? I was sad the trip was nearing an end, but exhilirated that we were triumphant. As we took this photo, a friendly Texas driver deliberately ran over my bike."

So after 50,000 miles of Siberia, Africa, etc., it took a guy in Texas to destroy his bike. That cracked me up, because, at least the several times I've been to Texas, I've thought they were generally (with of course exceptions) the least friendly compared to the rest of the U.S., and I have been to many states.

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Like Kobe, Japan, in 1995? http://www.seismo.unr.edu/ftp/pub/louie/cl.../magnitude.html. More than 5,000 people died.

No, the dozens of earthquakes that have occured since. Japan has a much higher frequency of quakes, so the possibility of having an epicenter so close to a city such as Kobe was more likely. Since the West Coast of North America is at risk for these type of quakes but they occur much less frequently, there is less likelihood of such death and destruction. Your figure said we may have a magnitude 9 earthquake every 400 years. Japan has magnitude 8 earthquakes yearly, and people remain safe in a much more densely populated country where greater populations are located closer to the fault lines. I think it is very likely that such quakes will strike here with no deaths.

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