Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Scan

A Personal Hero Revisited

I earned my degree at Ernie Pyle Hall, Indiana University's journalism school, so this story moved me:
NEW YORK — The figure in the photograph is clad in Army fatigues, boots and helmet, lying on his back in peaceful repose, folded hands holding a military cap. Except for a thin trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth, he could be asleep.

But he is not asleep; he is dead. And this is not just another fallen GI; it is Ernie Pyle, the most celebrated war correspondent of World War II.

As far as can be determined, the photograph has never been published. Sixty-three years after Pyle was killed by the Japanese, it has surfaced — surprising historians, reminding a forgetful world of a humble correspondent who artfully and ardently told the story of a war from the foxholes.

"It's a striking and painful image, but Ernie Pyle wanted people to see and understand the sacrifices that soldiers had to make, so it's fitting, in a way, that this photo of his own death ... drives home the reality and the finality of that sacrifice," said James E. Tobin, a professor at Miami University of Ohio.
Read the rest at USA Today.

I think Pyle would have taken umbrage at the line, "... not just another fallen GI." There were no "just anothers" among the soldiers Pyle wrote about in his columns from the front lines of the war, which you can read in Brave Men or Here is Your War: The Story of GI Joe.

Pyle might just have been the last great journalist, were it not for men like Michael Totten and Michael Yon, who ignore the directives from the military's PR men and put themselves at risk, as Pyle did, to report the noble, inspiring and heartbreaking stories of our great soldiers doing their great work.

Now, 63 years later, we see Ernie Pyle at rest, and it is a moving, powerful photo. How tragic that often this is bravery's reward; how reaffirming that six decades on, we still care.

Unwelcoming Worlds

Be thankful that you're from Earth, not a planet in the RS Ophiuchi binary system, the red giant/white dwarf system rendered here by a NASA artist.

Here's why:
"We were getting ready for a routine engineering run when all of a sudden the nova went off. It was very bright and easy to observe, so we took this opportunity and turned it into gold," says team member Marc Kuchner of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ...

The Keck Nuller [astronomical instrument] was undergoing tests on February 12, 2006, when a nova flared up in the constellation Ophiuchus. The system, known as RS Ophiuchi, consists of a white dwarf and a red giant. The red giant is gradually shedding its massive gaseous outer layers, and the white dwarf is sweeping up much of this wind, growing in mass over time. As the matter builds up on the white dwarf's surface it eventually reaches a critical temperature that ignites a thermonuclear explosion that causes the system to brighten 600-fold. (Science Daily)
Talk about your global warming!

But what's a mere super-nova among friends? What makes the RS Ophiuchi system just so darned inhospitable is that similar events were observed (counting backwards) in 1985, 1967, 1958, 1933, 1989 and who knows how many more times back through the history of the universe.

Those time spans of nine to 34 years were astronomical quick blinks; nearly constant and instantaneous by the way galaxies time things.

RS Ophiuchi is a mighty hymn to the incredible splendor of the universe, and testimony to the infinite creativity ... and maybe even humor ... of the Creator.

I mean, really, doesn't this whacked-out solar system remind you just a little bit of the Three Stooges, forever knuckle-heading, slapping and poking each other? You ... I oughtta ... nyuck, nyuck, nyuck!

Gore Gorged ... Again

The next time you bump into Al Gore, you might want to tattoo this across his forehead:
A warming global ocean — influencing the winds that shear off the tops of developing storms — could mean fewer Atlantic hurricanes striking the United States according to new findings by NOAA climate scientists. Furthermore, the relative warming role of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans is important for determining Atlantic hurricane activity.

The article, to be published on January 23 in Geophysical Research Letters, uses observations to show that warming of global sea surface temperatures is associated with a secular, or sustained long-term increase, of vertical wind shear in the main development region for Atlantic hurricanes. The increased vertical wind shear coincides with a downward trend in U.S. landfalling hurricanes. (source)
Researchers did an amazing thing in this study. Instead of stoking up the computer models and filling the models' cyber-heads with silliness, they actually went back through historical records and tracked real landfalls from the late 1800s on. Imagine that!

Of course, the study finds the oceans have warmed, which supports global warming. But it also shows that we know far too little about what its effects may be to start taxing ourselves in order to fund government programs willy-nilly. If this study is true, people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts might not be too keen on paying a carbon tax to curtail the forces that are making their lives safer.

Taxes To Beat The Axis

Ymarsakar has posted this Donald Duck cartoon from the 1940s to show how Hollywood's approach to wars has changed.

blog it
As Y says,
This is an interesting example of how Hollywood was for the war in WWII, due to the fact that there was no reason to be against Hitler, given Hitler’s betrayal and attack on Soviet Stalin.
Hollywood seems to have forgotten that the Islamic world that they're defending through their current round of movies overwhelmingly was on Hitler's side in WWII.

Like Father, Sort-Of Like Son

Hamza bin Laden is following in the terrorist footsteps of his father, although it appears he may be more willing than pops to actually put his personal safety at risk in the name of jihad.

AP has obtained a draft of Benizir Bhutto's autobiography, due out later this month, which contains this passage:

"I was told by both the Musharraf regime and the foreign Muslim government that four suicide bomber squads would attempt to kill me," Bhutto reportedly says in the book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy & the West.

"These included, the reports said, the squads sent by the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud; Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden; Red Mosque militants; and a Karachi-based militant group," she is quoted as saying.

Mehsud has been blamed by Pakistan intelligence for the attack, but his mouthpieces deny his involvement. Bin Laden & Son are similarly silent -- knowing, perhaps, that this is one act of terror they're better off not taking credit for.

The Consequence Of Being Unread

I wouldn't put Vladamir Nobokov's Lolita on my recommended reading list, but let's face it, it's a good thing to have some awareness of the literary world around us. Otherwise, our world is vulnerable to this sort of silliness:
LONDON (Reuters) - A chain of retail stores in Britain has withdrawn the sale of beds named Lolita and designed for six-year-old girls after furious parents pointed out that the name was synonymous with sexually active pre-teens.

Woolworths said staff who administer the web site selling the beds were not aware of the connection.

In "Lolita," a 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, the narrator becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter -- but Woolworths staff had not heard of the classic novel or two subsequent films based on it.

Hence they saw nothing wrong with advertising the Lolita Midsleeper Combi, a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard intended for girls aged about six until a concerned mother raised the alarm on a parenting website.
It reminds me of a little girl I saw on TV once named Temptress. The shocked show host asked the girl's mom if she knew the meaning of the name, and she didn't. She just thought it sounded nice and had something to do with "pretty."

Just like whoring has something to do with sleeping, I suppose.

Dem Voter Guide

In closing, I'd like to offer an olive branch to my Dem readers (all two of you!) by providing you with this handy-dandy Dem Voter Guide for the upcoming primaries.

Edwards supporters are free to give their votes either to Jimmy Carter #1 or Jimmy Carter #3. (hat-tip Doug Ross via What Bubba Knows)

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