Kalimac Crafts (and assorted other bits and bobs)

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Population Clock

Whole Generation Lost in Quake

At the Franklin Institute, there is a population counter. It looks like a big digital clock, with LCD numbers that are constantly changing, growing. It goes off of some rough average, over how many people are born in one hour, say, and how many die, with the difference recorded. I don't know if it's still there, but I remember it clearly, from a sleepover my Girl Scout troop did many years ago.

I wonder, do they specially change the numbers for this? Did someone adjust the programming, so that 900 or so extra people died after the official numbers were released for Katrina? Will they change it, so that an extra 20,000 will have died?

When I read such things, with such death that it cannot be understood by people, the population counter comes to mind. Red LCD lights, I can comprehend. A sudden dip in the number, I can comprehend. A tiny memorial, an acknowledgment - your death is something. Your death changed things even for us, thousands of miles away who will never know you. The population count at the end of the hour, the end of the day, will be less than it could have been, and it is writ in the carved stone of the new millennium. Red LCD lights flickering in a dark room.

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