August 23, 2010

33 men, trapped 2300 feet underground, must wait 4 months for rescue.

A mine in Chile. For 17 days, there was no contact with the men. Now, there is communication — such as the note from the miners: "All 33 of us are fine in the shelter." There is hope and jubilation and food and water.
"It will take months to get them out," [said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera]. "They'll come out thin and dirty, but whole and strong."

Mr Pinera also saw images of the miners taken by a camera that was lowered down the borehole....

"Many of them approached the camera and put their faces right up against it, like children, and we could see happiness and hope in their eyes," Mr Pinera said.
It's hard to begin to imagine the emotions of the men and the people above ground who love them. First, the shock of the cave-in, with the uncertainty — both underground and above — about survival. Then the 17-day wait, with hope and suffering changing all the time. Then, the immense joy of contact, the families above ground all learning their men are alive and well and the men knowing their loved ones know they haven't died. All the basics of getting food and water. The comfort of notes back and forth. The window to the outside world that is the camera. What a relief to know that rescue is coming. But the wait is so long.

Think what it must be like to be trapped in a group that size, for that long. What do you think they are doing, with all that time? I assume that, since they were miners, they have mental resources for dealing with the fears of confinement and danger that far exceed ours, so maybe it is a bit presumptuous to try to put ourselves in their place, but let's try. I think I would devote myself, above all, to preserving a calm attitude for everyone. You couldn't have any fighting or craziness.

Then, what would you do about the boredom? You would talk, but perhaps you'd get sick of the men who talk too much, and you can't have talk that is upsetting or arguments about what's okay to talk about and what isn't. There would be much prayer, maybe too much for some people. But there are 33 of you, you'd break into small groups or pairs. Some would be religious, others would play games or tell stories. Some would keep to themselves. Would you make sure that no one was despairing or lonely?

There are some ways in which the terrible limitations would intensify the richness of life. And, upon rescue, the true richness of ordinary life will be brilliantly obvious to them. The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?

129 comments:

MrBuddwing said...

Jeez, and I thought the Quecreek miners who were trapped underground for more than 3 days in 2002 had it rough.

Being trapped like these miners would drive me over the edge in a matter of days, never mind weeks or months. The only real mental comfort, of course, is knowing that the outside world knows they're still alive.

Scott M said...

The cave-in, of course, was because all of the mine site equipment had be put into "R" instead of "D".

Pogo said...

"The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?"


'They surfeited with honey and began to loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little more than a little is by much too much.'
–King Henry IV, Part 1: Act III, Scene II.

The Crack Emcee said...

They haven't had anything happen to give them perspective.

Quayle said...

Where are our enterprising TV execs? A camera? A bunch of men trapped? It could be the new hit reality show on ABC. The whole rescue could be funded from advertisement revenue.

Then there are the spin-offs. The marriages. The divorces. It boggles the mind how much financial leverage we could get from 33 people suffering for a few months.

Where are America's enterprising TV execs?

Scott M said...

It boggles the mind how much financial leverage we could get from 33 people suffering for a few months.

You have no idea what these guys wives are like. They may be perfectly fine with a couple months stuck at work.

Quayle said...

Of course the bigger story is "300 million people trapped in the Obama mine for the next 27 months, with some relief arriving in 2.5 months."

The Crack Emcee said...

BTW - I was answering the question:

"The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?"

And I should've said "we" (though I don't include myself as part of "we" in this context). And I could've swore and been much, much nastier.

I'm letting my game slip.

q12345q6789 said...

I just heard about this story this morning; and last night I was watching the BBC Earth DVD on 'Caves'. I think that the commentary on the making of the episode said that usually film-crews / spelunkers would be allowed no more than 7 days underground for fear of the peoples' sanity and that this BBC crew spent 10 days. So... 4 months?! In the 21st century? Wow. I really cannot imagine how to even imagine that ordeal. If any make it out sane it will be a miracle. (Also is it racist / culturalist for me to assume that these miners are better prepared for this than their American counter-parts would be? - Why is that?)

Quayle said...

'n' we're all forced to eat dead canary on very small spits.

AJ Lynch said...

I remember a mine collapse in PA when I was a kid [the 1960's] and only a couple survivors made it out and there was rumor of cannibalism.

AllenS said...

Remember, there are 5280 feet in a mile.

nina said...

I'll echo Ann's sentiment -- why don't we?
Sometimes I think that focusing on the beautiful and positive just isn't all that exciting. It makes us appear rather bland and delusional. There's no reward in recognizing the beautiful.

Except that, in reality, there is. It's a very personal reward, but it's there.


(I'm reminded of the novel "Bel Canto" which isn't at all about miners, but about a group held hostage by terrorists in a Latin American country. Survival of another sort, and the search for beauty at a time of crisis. It sort of answers the question of "how would people react." The answer? Variously.)

traditionalguy said...

Has the Lving Government Death Panel rated the worth of these lives against the cost to rescue them??? All humans die anyway sooner or later. So how old are they? And how smart are they to work in mines? The easiest way to see this is to call their death's a delayed abortion. That sacrifice of the few for the collective seems so Marxist-Atheist-American. And abamdoning them will one day save needless burial costs using up scarce land. We cannot waste virgin, pristine and pure resources on dirty people that rape the land and eat noble animals. Aren't we better educated than that?

AllenS said...

I'm working my calculator. 4 months x 30 days in a month and you get 120 days. 2300 feet divided by 120 and you get 19.16 feet needed to be dug each day. You'd think there would be a sense of emergency and they'd be digging 24/7. So, 24 into 19.6 feet and they'd have to dig .8 feet per hour. Something ain't right here. Are the people union workers?

AllenS said...

people = rescue workers

Scott said...

The idea of being trapped in a dark confined space for four months gives me a sick feeling and makes my knees shake a little. But for the grace of God.

(This article is like a Rorschach test for blog commenters. See this thing. What do you say?)

Scott said...

(Some days it makes my knees shake to come to work in a skyscraper across the Hudson from where the World Trade Center was. The trauma gets hard-wired. Some days I wish I was in Nebraska.)

shoutingthomas said...

Yes, all well and good.

But, how does this relate to the Universal Theory of BIGOTRY?

The BIGOTS must be behind this!

Help me out, OmegaLiberal, HenHouse and Stupid Ritmo!

The Universal Theory of BIGOTRY explains everything.

How did the BIGOTS cause the cave-in?

alan markus said...

Maybe they can drill a bore hole large enough to drop down power, internet, and netbooks. Then, like anyone else with too much time on their hands, they can BLOG. Or catch up on HULU or YouTube views.

Pogo said...

"The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?"

My theory is that we require pain periodically in order to see beauty as if for the first time. Out of great suffering can come great art.

But too much pain is corrosive, and can make even the most beautiful thing appear to be malevolent and ugly.

Too much beauty creates boredom, alienation, and ennui.

Scott said...

@shoutingthomas: Where have you been? That's the old trope! You haven't seen the trolls lately because they're in an off-site seminar to learn the new meme: Republicans Are Extremists.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I can relate. I'm not coming up for air until November third.

q12345q6789 said...

WELL, this ain't gonna make me popular in these parts but -

Warning! In this post: Commenters use horrific mining accident in South America to make Ad hominem (non sequitur, really) attacks on Obama and Democrats in America.

(Look, I'm no O-lover, but really... this kind of childishness threatens to make an interesting blog and comments section read like just another boring hack-job site.)

MadisonMan said...

I'm sure a screenplay was finished last night.

traditionalguy said...

Seriously, the warm sun and gentle breezes on our planet home are the greatest gifts we receive every day. "This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it," said Psalm 118's author. That author also wrote that he "would not die, but live and proclaim the works of the LORD." Those verses are most of what it means to be alive.

Scott said...

"Too much beauty creates boredom, alienation, and ennui."

Or as Cartman would say, "ennu-AH".

wv: verpid

AllenS said...

Are Obama voters doing the rescue work?

AllenS said...

Are the rescuers waiting for Obama stimulous money before they start to dig?

MadisonMan said...

I remember a mine collapse in PA when I was a kid [the 1960's] and only a couple survivors made it out and there was rumor of cannibalism.

Wasn't there a song about that? I'm trying to remember its title, but I keep coming up with Big John and Patches, and it wasn't either one of those.

Scott said...

@MadisonMan: Which network? I think it's been sold to Lifetime. The premise is too cheezy for HBO.

wv: tryto... remem-BAH

q12345q6789 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

(damn...they are announcing fire drills again.)

q12345q6789 said...

@ Scott:
These miners are not women and it would be hard to portray the miners as horrible, evil, no-good men. So, no Lifetime Network.

MadisonMan said...

Google to the rescue. As soon as I put cannibalism into the coal mining disaster song, I hit paydirt.

Timothy, by the Buoys. I'm listening to it on youtube -- hadn't heard it in 20 years.

Link

shoutingthomas said...

These miners are not women and it would be hard to portray the miners as horrible, evil, no-good men. So, no Lifetime Network.

Sorry, but miners are blue collar, good old boy types.

They are, undoubtedly... BIGOTS!

They probably deserve to die, like those BIGOTS the black guy killed at the beer distributorship in Connecticut.

Kill the BIGOTS! Summary execution for BIGOTS!

Omar Thornton, God bless him, ridded the world of a handful of BIGOTS!

OmegaLiberal, HenHouse and Stupid Ritmo, I've done your work for you. I've discovered how this event fits within the University Theory of BIGOTRY!

God, am I smart!

Scott said...

@q12345q6789: Which one then?

It wouldn't work on Spike, because the miners don't have guns and aren't shooting each other.

Not an MTV reality show. They're not fried-brain adolescents.

Maybe History Channel, or A&E? Their programming has almost nothing to do with either history or arts and entertainment anymore.

Nat Geo? They don't deal with fiction (overtly anyway).

I'm flummoxed.

wv: chextrev ... Trev, are you here?

Scott said...

They aren't bigots. They have an extremist agenda.

wv: paste ... like every other comment the trolls post.

Palladian said...

"(Look, I'm no O-lover, but really... this kind of childishness threatens to make an interesting blog and comments section read like just another boring hack-job site.)"

Seconded. This place is becoming a cavalcade of miserableness. Sad that you can find higher spirits down a collapsed mine in Chile.

lemondog said...

You would talk, but perhaps you'd get sick of the men who talk too much, and you can't have talk that is upsetting or arguments about what's okay to talk about and what isn't.

A Hitchcock Lifeboat Under moment but what do you do when you want to pitch someone overboard?

An Anne Frank moment trapped with people in small quarters getting on each others nerves, and only catching a glimpse of a blue sky, a whiff of fresh air, a brief stream of warm sun.

The thousands of Gulag moments, POW moments....

q12345q6789 said...

@Scott:
Well, for a dramatization - I would go to PAX (but, they will have to be religiously praying for salvation 10% of the time).
For a reality show - I think "Cave-Survivors" fits in nicely next to "Ice-Road Truckers", "Axe-Men", "Swamp People", etc. on the History Channel / Nat-Geo matrices.

q12345q6789 said...

@Scott
After typing that -
I think I really need to re-evaluate my life; I have become as cooly-removed and cynical as a hollywood executive (ala the scene in 'The Player' where the executive is cavalierly tossing out movie ideas based on tragedies in the newspaper).
UGH. Cold shower time.

Scott said...

@Palladian: We live in an era where the ruling class has subjected us mere peons to some stunningly ugly public policy that will lower the quality of life for all Americans. They want us to stop complaining, because it makes their lives easier. I for one won't stop, because I don't want to make it easy for the Democrats to roll the middle class.

It's annoying and tiresome, but we need to be twice as persistent as they have been. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

Lincolntf said...

Seems like a natural for a "Dirty Jobs" special.

Really, they should lower permanent videocams, lights, etc. and make it the world's most popular reality show...
"Did Juan deliberately wipe his butt with Jorge's copy of People Espanol? Tune in tomorrow tonight to see the raw footage!"

Scott said...

@q12345q6789: Yeah, I was watching those on History Channel too. WTF does a reality show about a passle of toothless alligator trappers have to do with history? I have no idea.

Pogo said...

There was also New York Mining Disaster 1941 by the Bee Gees.

Makes my head hurt to hear it again.

Scott said...

@Lincolntf: Can you imagine the smell after four months?

q12345q6789 said...

@Scott:
"It's annoying and tiresome, but we need to be twice as persistent as they have been. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. "

Eh, no.
Posting non-sequitur anti-Obama crap in unrelated posts is *not* eternal vigilance. it's just annoying and obnoxious and a turn-off. Be persistent and vigilant where it counts for something. Please (for the sake of the country) do *not* think you are actually affecting outcomes by posting nonsense jibes in a blog-comment. It doesn't work that way.

PatHMV said...

Mike Rowe could get an episode of Dirty Jobs out of it, for sure. "Rescue mine digger" has GOT to be a very dirty job.

For the commenter wondering why it will take so long to dig the rescue shaft, I suspect it's a great deal more complicated than merely extricating the dirt and rock. For one, you can't just blast it (like much mining involves), because the shockwaves could harm the trapped miners, either directly or by causing further cave-ins. For another, you have to keep shoring the new tunnel up, to make sure that IT doesn't collapse.

How big is the bore hole they just dug? Is it wide enough for an iPad to fit? I say drop everybody down an iPad, preloaded with a bunch of movies and books. Then drop a wireless router, so everybody has WiFi and can Skype with their relatives and friends up topside.

Finally... how big is the cavern they're in? What kind of latrine facilities do they have available?

Scott said...

"It doesn't work that way."

Sure it does.

Lincolntf said...

I heard the diameter of the rescue hole described as "the size of a grapefruit" a few times. Don't know why they couldn't just tell me in centimeters or inches. Dumbass media.

Pogo said...

We live in perilous times, so it is only natural to bitch about it, for the bitching to increase, for arguing to rise, for cannibalism to ensue, and to be tired of the whole damned thing.

It's true of the depths war, being trapped in a mine, the vacation from hell, or the economy that won't recover. We ask and plead: "When will it be over so I can see the blue skies again, and smell the earth, and kiss my friends?

We're in the middle of it, though, so the end is far far off yet.

Scott said...

You've never seen a grapefruit?

Lincolntf said...

Yeah, I've seen a grapefruit. I've just never seen a drill bit measured in citrus before.

q12345q6789 said...

@lincoln
It's the new standard, duh.
1 grapefruit = 2.5 oranges
1 orange = 1.5 lemons
1 lemon = 2.5 kumquats

Get with it! it's the 21st century.

Ann Althouse said...

"I heard the diameter of the rescue hole described as "the size of a grapefruit" a few times."

Okay, so then, iPhones for everybody.

Scott said...

This is just the beginning. It would be the middle if the Democrats didn't decide to hobble the country with new entitlements that dwarfed anything any previous administration had committed us to. We're looking at a decade or more for any administration of either party, to undo the damage.

Scott said...

That sounds like about a half a cubit to me.

Scott said...

"Okay, so then, iPhones for everybody."

Ann, how many bars can you get on AT&T when you're half a mile under the ground?

q12345q6789 said...

@ann althouse
Man... Am I going to have to go get trapped in a mine to get an iphone. Crap. (packs bag)

Scott said...

I couldn't even get AT&T to let me make calls by the Hudson River on lunchtime!

Lincolntf said...

Plenty of room for cables (if I know my grapefruit) to make wireless unnecessary.

Just thought of something, you don't want to be standing under the rescue hole if something falls off it's tether. Ouch.

Scott M said...

Ann, how many bars can you get on AT&T when you're half a mile under the ground?

I believe Jobs covered this at the unveiling. If you want to get a signal with the Iphone 4, even a mile underground, first you need wrap a rubberband around the edge...

AllenS said...

PatHMV,

Do you think that the bore hole that they dug was blasted out? I don't think so. Why not drill another hole close by about 3 feet in diameter, or a series of bore holes close together. You shouldn't have to blast those either.

PatCA said...

"The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?"

Because it reminds us of our mortality? As a cancer survivor, every once in a while I feel that overwhelming beauty, and I'm glad of it.

edutcher said...

I don't doubt those guys start praying every time there's an unexpected noise. As General Jim Gavin once observed of a similar situation, "It really gave a man religion".

Ann Althouse said...

... the true richness of ordinary life will be brilliantly obvious to them. The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?

My first thought was the old, "Familiarity breeds contempt".

AJ Lynch said...

I remember a mine collapse in PA when I was a kid [the 1960's] and only a couple survivors made it out and there was rumor of cannibalism.

I know the one you mean, and, as was their wont, channel 6 went wall to wall for hours at the scene, showing nothing but guys with wheelbarrows dumping them into a big pile of dirt and saying, "No word yet".

PS No more rimshots about The Zero. ZeroCare analogies are no longer covered by the First Amendment.

k*thy said...

Why don’t we? Because we’re human and tend to take things for granted. Nina is right in this aspect – there is a deeply personal reward in seeing the beauty around us. I would add, that even in what we might label as “negative”, has some kind beauty, given time, perspective and an acceptance that we have a choice in how we respond.

Scott said...

"There are some ways in which the terrible limitations would intensify the richness of life. And, upon rescue, the true richness of ordinary life will be brilliantly obvious to them. The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?"

We cannot know the reality of what people in trying circumstances go through, or how it changes their lives. We can only speculate and surmise. Even if we were to do extensive debriefings after the trauma, you can't viscerally know beyond the speculative fables your imagination tells you.

There are lots of paths to awareness. No need to have it beaten into you by unfortuante circumstance.

wv: palvis, made famous by Alvis

DADvocate said...

Warning! In this post: Commenters use horrific mining accident in South America to make Ad hominem (non sequitur, really) attacks on Obama and Democrats in America.

Really!! Everyone knows it's Bush's fault.

DADvocate said...

My first thought was the old, "Familiarity breeds contempt".

Similar thoughts here. How will their group dynamics play out? Will there be factions and hostility? Will they lose track of the 24 hours day/night cycle?

Even with adequate food and water, the situation will harm their physical health. No sunlight, inadequate exercise, too much stress, etc. I'll be surprised if all of them live even if the rescue attempts go as planned.

Scott M said...

Will there be factions and hostility?

That depends greatly on whether or not the total number of people trapped is more than one.

Skyler said...

"I assume that, since they were miners, they have mental resources for dealing with the fears of confinement and danger that far exceed ours. . . "

Speak for yourself, Ann. I'm always amazed at how people think so little of their own abilities to withstand hardship or danger.

It will be boring, and there will possibly be some personality clashes after such a long time, but I seriously doubt any of them are about to disintegrate. People are made of stern stuff and just because you may have never had any adversity in your life doesn't mean that you wouldn't do just as well.

Trooper York said...

They should talk to Tommy Lee.

He fell into Pamela Anderson's twat and was lost in there for three months once.

He might have some insight.

bagoh20 said...

I would put together a performance of "The Sound of Music".

c3 said...

When I saw this I thought of another incredible story of survival in South America

bagoh20 said...

Where is that damned lightworker, when you need him?

Scott M said...

When I saw this I thought of another incredible story of survival in South America

I'm not a big "true life" reader in general, but I am looking forward to a book by or about that Brit soldier that just completed a two-year walk down the entire length of the Amazon. The river...not the website.

edutcher said...

DADvocate said...

My first thought was the old, "Familiarity breeds contempt".

Similar thoughts here. How will their group dynamics play out? Will there be factions and hostility? Will they lose track of the 24 hours day/night cycle?


It's not unlike a hostage situation. Be interesting to see if somebody comes up with an analogy for the Stockholm Syndrome.

Trooper York said...

They should talk to Tommy Lee.

He fell into Pamela Anderson's twat and was lost in there for three months once.

He might have some insight.


Sounds like most guys at least once in their lives.

dbp said...

If I was one of the miners, the first thing I would think of, once I learned that we would (eventually) be rescued is: Am I going to be paid for every hour I spend down here?

If they get paid 24/7 and have time and a half for overtime, then for every week they are trapped, they should get around 6 weeks of pay. They may come out of there quite mad, but at least they won't have to worry too much about finances.

I hope they get paid like this, seems like small compensation for what they are going through. I wonder if a couple of the miners are supervisors and are salaried rather than hourly.

Mary Beth said...

Wasn't there a song about that? I'm trying to remember its title, but I keep coming up with Big John and Patches, and it wasn't either one of those.

The song was Timothy.

deborah said...

bago
>>>I would put together a performance of "The Sound of Music".

That's just crazy enough to work.

Best time-passing solution I can think of is sending down ipods (with headphones) loaded with audio books.

AllenS said...

Send down brand new packages of blow up dolls. Combine that with some nice music and well... how bad could it be?

q12345q6789 said...

Free Apple products and lavish stagings of musicals?! Where's my cave disaster!*


*just kiddin', God/Fate/Universe!

Ralph L said...

If they have a couple of countertenors, they can all sing Aida.

How many of them will have to (or have the balls to) remain miners?

madawaskan said...

There is this from the AP-(45 minutes ago)

Engineers worked through the night to reinforce the six-inch (15 cm) -wide bore-hole that broke through to the miners' refuge on Sunday, more than 2,257 feet (688 meters) below the surface. Using a long hose, they coated the walls with a metallic gel to decrease the risk of more rock falls in the unstable mine and make it easier to pass material in capsules nicknamed "palomas," or doves.
The first capsules — which take about an hour to descend from the surface — will include water and food in the form of a high-energy glucose gel to miners who have almost certainly lost significant weight since they were trapped with limited food supplies on Aug. 5.
Also being sent down are questionnaires to determine each miners' condition, along with medicines and small microphones to enable them to speak with their families during their long wait. Rescue leader Andre Sougarret said the communications equipment could begin working within hours, and that officials were organizing the families into small groups to make their talks as orderly as possible.


So the answer to somebody's question is:

6 inches.

MadTownGuy said...

I've been following the news at emol.com (El Mercurio's online portal) and one of the articles highlights the need for psychological support. I visited Chile as a tourist last year and one of the things our Argentine tour guides said (with maybe a touch of envy) was that the economic principles brought in by Milton Friedman's protégés had made Chile the most stable government and economy in South America. They didn't have such kind words for their own Peronist president, Christina Kirchner. Yeah, I know, tour guides are not experts, but they live there and visit both places frequently enough to see the comparison.

I think the miners' attitude will have the biggest effect on their endurance of the ordeal and on their recovery thereafter. I think Chilean miners are more likely to recover well, just like the country is bouncing back after that earthquake last February.

madawaskan said...

I think that's a chemically enhanced grapefruit.

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Lower iphones, ipads, blow-up dolls?

I think a shovel, bag of lime and a case of toilet paper first.

Then we could talk...

4 months, crikey!

prairie wind said...

Will the mining company come in for the same kind of hate that BP got? We had nearly 4 months to work up anger about what BP did to fishermen who could still see sunlight--what will happen in this case? Or maybe the press won't work so hard to cast the mining company as villains and, of course, Chile doesn't have an Obama. (Those lucky dogs...I don't mean the miners.)

ricpic said...

he love, the light, the air blah - blah blah.

The answer is that we'd explode, or splode, or blow up good, real good, if we dug life totally all the time. Not good for the blood pressure. And anyway boredom also has its charms.

Scott M said...

And anyway boredom also has its charms.

Sure...in the same way an achingly full bladder does.

ricpic said...

Speaking of an achingly full bladder -- I hope there's enough room down there to allow for a separate "bathroom" chamber.

William said...

They should split up into two groups. Both groups should attempt to find meaning and significance in their hard times. One group should look at this as yet another example of how the rich mine owners exploit the workers. The other group should look upon it as God's will and an opportunity to grow in charity and forebearance. Each group should proselytize the other, or, failing that, beat the others into submission. Such struggles and debates will fill up many idle hours. A word of caution: a rotting corpse in a confined space has a horrendous odor, so keep a lid on it, guys.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, how many bars can you get on AT&T when you're half a mile under the ground?"

I'm picturing some kind of technology -- a router or something -- with a wire extending down there. How hard would that be.

I've sometimes considered whether I'd want to be alive if life consisted solely of being on the internet. My answer is: Yes!

Ann Althouse said...

As for bathrooms, the note said they were in "the shelter," so that makes me think there are facilities of some kind down there. After all, they were down there all day working, before the disaster.

Scott M said...

With a grapefruit-sized pipe, they should be able to drop down copies of both Animal Farm and Lord Of The Flies.

Or, this may be the opening incident Max Brooks tried to warn us about. Patient Zero could be a miner.

David said...

Think prison camp.

My father-in-law spent nearly four years as a guest of the Japanese, 1942-45.

Thin? You betcha. At six foot five he went from 200 pounds to 110.

Mitsubishi Industries put him to work in a mine.

He was never paid for three years of work.

He had no claim though. The Dutch government (his sovereign) signed away all such claims as part of their futile effort to preserve Far Eastern colonies.

He got back pay as a private in the Dutch army and as an oilfield worker for Shell. That amounted to a few thousand dollars.

He was near starvation when the Hiroshima bomb exploded, about 40 miles from his prison camp. They saw the cloud from the camp. They did not know what it was exactly, but it was pretty clear that it was good for them and bad for the Japanese.

After that, they stopped taking him to the mine every day. The guards became quiet and withdrawn. In a few weeks they just disappeared.

American planes buzzed the camp and within a day the planes started dropping food.

In two more weeks he took a train the coast, going right through Hiroshima. He was placed on an American hospital ship just outside Nagasaki harbor.

Saved.

Scott said...

@David: Wow.

40 miles was outside the blast radius.

Did he suffer any effects from the radiation?

Lynne said...

Anybody here ever been in a mine?

Blackest place you've ever been. Guaranteed.

It's not that you can't see your hand in front of your face; it's more like you can't even find your hand.

So I hope those guys have some super-reliable lighting down there. But since it's a collapse, I'm not sure. Maybe some handhelds and a few running lights that survived the collapse.

I'm also wondering about the quality of their air supply longterm- I read the article but didn't see any mention of ventilation. Poor air quality can sneak up on you and get you seriously ill before you know it.

David said...

He lived until his 80's, dying of a rare nerve disease. Radiation was not suspected as a cause.

He was way too far away to be hurt by the primary radiation pulse, they suffered no fallout and the brief trip through Hiroshima a month later posed little danger.

His times of greatest danger were the moment of capture (in Java), the trip on a Hell Ship to Japan (Batavia-Singapore-Hanoi-Japan) and his failing health at the end of his imprisonment.

He surely would have died if the Americans had invaded Japan, either of starvation or murder at the hands of the Japanese.

The Hell Ship was the worst--confined below deck in a converted cargo ship for over two months, men dying and going insane, horrid inadequate food, barely any sanitation, intense heat. (Very little direct abuse from the Japanese, though, as they would not enter the prisoner areas.)

He retained no resentment towards the Japanese. Visited Japan more than once. It was war, he said, and now its over.

Chip Ahoy said...

I do not have the answers to these puzzling questions, but I think it has to do with keying down to cope with drudgery, darkness, low stimulus and ill smells, and keying up to cope with beauty and high stimulus.

We tend to edit in order to process. Conversely we tend to elaborate when deprived.

I'm reminded of a doctoral candidate who was finishing her thesis who wrote Life in the Shadow (of a castle), a woman who lived in a hut outside the walls of a castle in order to recreate midieval life, basically one of a drudge. She wrote that over time her mind tended to elaborate the simplest things into stories. She wrote, one day as she was getting water, two butterflies flitted around her head, much as our hostess come to think of it, the butterflies landed on her shoulders first one then the other as if she were being knighted by nature itself and she dropped into tears on the spot.

So she was emotional.

Following a prolonged period of keying down to deprivation and then suddenly thrust into the world of free movement, light and color, seems to me the contrast will be most likely too much to bear. Until one re-keys to it, if ever.

On the other hand, we do see the beauty all the time. Our hostess does, and shows us that each day with her photographs.

Even though keyed for high stimulus, say driving on the freeway, we do still manage to be awestruck by the sight of a virga, a rainbow, full moon, or just walking by, a melted popsicle on the sidewalk, the wings of birds, the patterns of oil on water and of shattered glass.

Going around improperly keyed for high stimulus and beauty can end up being a bit ridiculous, as the viral video of the rainbow guy shows.

A person of deep faith would go further with a notion rejected by people who have rejected faith. As existence in a cave can be described as the shadow of life on the surface, so too are our lives on Earth's the shadow of life hereafter. A state so profoundly beautiful it requires a period re-keying.

Oligonicella said...

"I'm picturing some kind of technology -- a router or something -- with a wire extending down there. How hard would that be."

That's just... cute.

ricpic said...

Good post, Chip.

q12345q6789 said...

@Oligonicella
I'm with Ann. Run a dsl/cable down with a router to make a wifi hotspot for the iphones. Why Not?
It's the sanitation / health / sanity issues that are going to be the trickiest I think. I would bet all my money* that those "shelters" were never designed for *4 Months* of usage.

*not a great loss.

Scott M said...

I'm no psychologist, but I'm willing to be that doing audio-only is the way to go. Otherwise, the pain from seeing their loved ones as things get "grody" down there has the potential for severe suffering.

amba said...

Great post, but lousy story--they don't even say what kind of mine it is. Here's a much better one.

Lincolntf said...

If they can send fluids and solids down, they can pull them out. But I heard earlier that they had use of a "bulldozer" (I assume Bobcat-like thing) in order to tap into groundwater for drinking, making it likely that they could fashion any sanitary facilities they lack. A slit trench would do the trick in a jiffy.

traditionalguy said...

They can run a digital line down and these miners can start their own Blog with a masthead slogan about being trapped under wreckage and tapping hard.

q12345q6789 said...

@traditionalguy
yeah. I thought about that too. I was waiting to see who would bring it up - hoping it was Ann.

lemondog said...

Think prison camp.

While back I purchased Ronald Searle's To the Kwai - and Back

His collection of war drawings as a pow when he was 18 or 19 year old slave laborer on the Kwai bridge. Three years.

Conditions desperate to say the least.

He survived.

former law student said...

Four months trapped underground? Very far from the limits of human endurance:

Valery Poliakov orbited in Mir for 438 days -- a mine has to be roomier. Eight people were sealed up in Biosphere 2 for two years. Robert King Wilkerson was released from Angola State Prison after 29 years in solitary confinement.

that the economic principles brought in by Milton Friedman's protégés had made Chile the most stable government and economy in South America. ...

I think the miners' attitude will have the biggest effect on their endurance of the ordeal and on their recovery thereafter.


*smacks forehead* There's the answer, can't you see? Milton Friedman, Capitalism Is Freedom

Scott M said...

Valery Poliakov orbited in Mir for 438 days -- a mine has to be roomier

And has standard gravity.

Cedarford said...

prairie wind said...
Will the mining company come in for the same kind of hate that BP got? We had nearly 4 months to work up anger about what BP did to fishermen who could still see sunlight
==============
The American public is generally stupid and easily manipulated by the media.
The decision was made that fishermen would be the designated "Victims". Each day liberal and progressive Jewish media leaders sent people forth to replenish the narrative.
"Find colorful fishermen the environmentalists detest as marine assassins - get them to piss and moan."
Reporters only found a few. They were between fishing seasons and BP hired most of them, preferentially, as cleanup crews. Most are back on the water now shrimping season started mid-August. Most made more money from BP than fishing, and a good percentage would rather work as contractors for BP than return to lower paying shrimping work.

Cedarford said...

former law student said...
Four months trapped underground? Very far from the limits of human endurance:

Valery Poliakov orbited in Mir for 438 days -- a mine has to be roomier. Eight people were sealed up in Biosphere 2 for two years. Robert King Wilkerson was released from Angola State Prison after 29 years in solitary confinement.

1. 33 men in a space the size of an apartment flat more cramped than 3 guys in MIR. Mir is airconditioned. The mine is 101DEG.

2. Biosphere also AC'd, had lighting, wastes recycled vs. piling up.

3. A thug that spent 29 years of 32 in solitary is a sad example of the limits of solitary confinment as a behavior control tool - but mostly an apples and oranges situation compared to 33 trapped miners in high heat, limited air exchange. Difficulties getting food, water. Likely to be without light except rare moments.

q12345q6789 said...

@Cedarford
I should proceed with caution because you smell like a troll.
But really?
I am surprised you didn't end with a conspiratorially-charged paragraph about how *Lucky* everyone is that this natural disaster occurred. And that the only way it could be improved upon is if it dumped twice, nay three times, as much oil into the Gulf.
Louisiana seafood will take years to rebound if other markets (Asia) don't come in and completely obliterate it first.
I mean, I know you are a troll, but put some effort into at least sounding sane.

HKatz said...

The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?

Reminds me of a passage from Middlemarch:

If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.

If I remember right, Eliot is writing here about the frequent tragedies in human life, but the words also pertain to any experience of really intense emotion. I think it's possible to love and appreciate beautiful things every day, but to feel constantly overwhelmed - I don't know how you could breathe.

MadTownGuy said...

<a href="http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=432041>This</a> just in: Miners sing the [Chilean] National Anthem from the bottom of the mine.

Attitude.

MadTownGuy said...

Whoops! Link.

c3 said...

So the answer to somebody's question is:

6 inches.


That's been the answer from many an adolescent male for some time now.

MadTownGuy said...

Picture of a note from the miners, published in the Argentine paper La Nación.

Joan said...

The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?

Speak for yourself.

John Lynch said...

Shit sucks.

Most people have to do something in their life that really sucks. If you haven't, good.

And we all die of something.

John Lynch said...

What I'm not seeing in the news is WTF they are going to do for sanitation. That's a lot of people in a small space for 4 months. That's a lot of waste.

DADvocate said...

The Chilean miners situation reminds me of "February 13, 1972, when 33-year-old French geologist Michel Siffre climbed into Midnight Cave near Del Rio, Texas" and stayed alone for 6 months. Of course, he did it voluntarily, had plenty of food and drink. He had a stationary bike for exercise and lots of other stuff. (No clocks or anything else to be able to tell time or if it was night or day.)

Siffre had all the amenities. The miners have almost none. It'll be tough to say the least.

former law student said...

What I'm not seeing in the news is WTF they are going to do for sanitation. That's a lot of people in a small space for 4 months. That's a lot of waste.

What goes down the bore can surely go up the bore.

Methadras said...

Those guys should be put to work to try and dig themselves out. Damn it all if slavery has gone to hell in a hand basket.

wv = mysterio = oh hell yes.

peter hoh said...

The love, the light, the air — why do we not see that overwhelming beauty all the time?

Althouse, are you channeling Thornton Wilder?

Emily: Does anybody realize what life is while they're living it - every, every minute?

Emil said...

The farts, the farts, the farts...

claudio said...

that stone at the underground its very hard and the advance it so slow,rescuers should move slowly, that the mine may collapse even more than it is today, I think also should send some kind of optical fiber to transmit light from the sun, so they do not lose the sense of time.