2015-01-13

Oddity seen on TV

Over the past few weeks, I've done a little bit of binge-watching of old TV shows.

On an old presentation of Top Gear, the team did a trip to the magnetic North Pole (or its 1996 location) in a special truck. The course they followed was roughly that of the biennial Polar Race.

The problems of traveling in such cold regions were many. Apparently, the Top Gear team was the first team to attempt to take a wheeled vehicle on that route.

The dog-sled was slower, but less hampered by the terrain.

The truck was severely hampered by thick fields of ice-boulders. Several times, I wondered whether they would have done better with a SnowTrac, or other tracked vehicle.

The thing which caught my eye the most was a downed airplane. The crew found what looked like a DC-3. James May correctly identified it as a C-47, since it bore the emblems of a military plane.

After some research, I found that the crash site was known. The crash was within a few miles of the (now-abandoned) Isachsen weather station. The airplane crashed during takeoff from the runway associated with the weather station. Most of the passengers on board the plane survived, and were rescued.

It was a surprising find.

I almost expected the show to contain a few jokes about Captain America. Then I realized that the Top Gear Polar Challenge had been filmed in 2007, and the film I was thinking of had been released in 2011.

I wonder if the sight of Arctic explorers happening on the scene of an airplane crash inspired any script-writers.

2014-12-24

Not your usual Christmas story

Local to me: a news story about a life-saving donation of a kidney.

From an unexpected source: the man was compatible with his own wife.

I first heard of this shortly before the operation, through friends and a list of weekly-prayers at church. While the blood type of the wife and husband are compatible, I highly doubt that the blood type is the reason that her kidney was compatible with his body.

Still, that is an amazing gift to give. And a very uplifting Christmas story.

2014-12-22

Holiday non-Blues

Last week at the office, I had a few conversations about holiday season. One of them went something like this:

[Co-Worker]: "What are you doing over the holidays?"
[Self]: "Taking a few days off. Maybe doing some minor home improvement stuff."
[Co-Worker]: "Visiting with family?"
[Self]: "Yes. Brothers, sister, and parent. Planning on visiting a special Holiday event at a local museum."
[Co-Worker]: "I thought you had a girlfriend."
[Self]: "I thought so, too."
{Pause...}
[Co-Worker]: "That's sad."
[Self]: "...somewhat."

It does feel kind of sad. The Ex-girlfriend, turned former-Ex over the summer, went back to Ex- status in early fall.

Though I feel a pang of remorse every time I hear a certain song on the radio, I don't feel a deep sadness.

Things could have ended better. And I still stumble, emotionally and mentally, over many things that I had been planning on sharing with her.

But the season isn't a season of sadness for me.

2014-12-16

Links to data: Rapes, reported rapes, and false reports of rape.

While I spent a week or two reading heavily on the (discredited) story of gang-rape at the University of Virginia, I found several interesting links.

This post, which is a decade old, discusses a study released by an internal investigative team at the U.S. Air Force.

This study, released in 2008 in the Annals of Psychotherapy, compares the same study from the Air Force to another study done by a Police department in a small Midwestern town.

Neither study is large enough to be applied to the entire United States. However, both studies provide false-allegation rates well above 20%. One mentions a diverse array of studies with false-allegation rates from 2% to 90%.

Another link: Instapundit notes the changes in rape rates as reported to the Police, since 1975. If women were less likely to report rapes in the past, then why is the reported-rate-of-rape so much higher in the 1990s than it has been since?

A final link: according to a crime-victimization survey by the US DOJ, college-age women are less likely to be raped if they are attending college than if they are not attending college.

All of these provide evidence that the usual narrative of "rape culture" does not match the reality that exists.

2014-12-11

Advent: a reader

A friend of the family sent this around on FaceBook.

It's a book recently published on the Season of Advent. Looks interesting, and worth acquiring.

2014-12-10

The lighter side of history

Tam reminds me of anniversaries of crappy little wars about...crap. Or guano, as the locals called it.

It's the lighter side of history because so few people care now.

I doubt it was light to the soldiers and sailors involved.

Still seems to be light humor compared the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.


2014-12-08

Infamy

Yesterday, December 7, was the anniversary of a historic surprise-attack.

Imperial Japan had been waging war since 1937 to take territory from the nation of China, which was itself suffering from a harsh internal war. The United States was trying to embargo raw materials from reaching Japan, and the Japanese Navy was trying to take other regions in the Far East to get better access to those raw materials.

The governments of Germany and Italy had been waging war against the rest of Europe since 1939. An alliance between Germany and Russia had been in place in 1939, but had been thrown aside in 1941.

An unofficial naval war between American Navy ships and German submarines had been ongoing through most of 1940 and 1941. The American ships were going to or from England, and the German submarines were trying to stop anything arriving at England.

These separate threads of conflict, on different parts of the globe, came together in an unexpected way in December 1941.

The Imperial Japanese Navy struck a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. While doing so, they showed how the aircraft carrier was further-reaching than a heavy battleship.

Within a few hours, the United States Congress declared war with Japan. Within a few days, the nations of Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. (Mostly due to the Tripartite Pact.) Thus, the last major nation to enter a state of war also changed two regional wars into a global war, quickly dubbed "World War II".