The Indonesian volcano Mount Merapi is erupting. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, pyroclastic flows of hot ash and flaming gas are pouring down the mountain along with streams of lava.
The scientists at the Merapi Volcano Observatory are keeping tabs on it -- from a safe distance, one hopes. Of the sciences, vulcanology is one of the more dangerous fields of study, and pyroclastic flows just like the ones coming off Merapi right now are one of the leading killers of vulcanologists. And non-vulcanologists, for that matter. They move very fast.
Naturally, the Indonesian government is trying to encourage people to get the heck away from the erupting volcano. But there are problems. Many of the locals are afraid that if they leave their property and livestock behind it will be stolen (and sadly they may be right). Of course, livestock and property buried under superheated ash along with the owners isn't worth much either.
An aged holy man named Maridjan, the "spiritual watchman" of the mountain (whatever the hell that means), is refusing to leave, and that unfortunately is convincing others to stay put. Mr. Maridjan is being a butt-head. Let's all hope nobody dies because of his idiotic complacency.
Here's what Merapi looks like from orbit.
Here's a local take on it, from Baliblog.
Now one might be tempted to say "why do those crazy people want to live on an active volcano?" On the face of it, it seems pretty dangerous. However it's just as dangerous to live on a major fault line, on the seashore, by a river, or on an open prairie. The sad truth is that we live on a dangerous planet. Maybe we should sue the manufacturer.