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Those Thai Kids are Safe, and We Hold Out Hope for the Rest of Us

Tuesday’s news was full of the usual worrisome developments, but at least those dozen Thai boys and their soccer coach were at long last rescued from that awful cave they’ve been trapped in since June 23, which gave us a hopeful feeling about all the rest of it.
In case you’ve been trapped in a cave of your own for the past few weeks, the youth soccer team and its coach went on a routine spelunking adventure but found themselves trapped beneath a mountain when an unexpected torrential rain storm flooded all the exit routes. Nine days passed before a SCUBA-diving rescue crew could find them hungrily huddled in an improbable air pocket, a seeming miracle that was broadcast around the world by waterproof television cameras, but even then it seemed another 13miracles would be required for all of them to get out alive. More torrential rains made it difficult to bring food and oxygen to the unlikely survivors, a brave Thai naval frogman and former Buddhist monk died in the effort, and getting them all through the tunnels filled with muddy water and back to safety seemed impossible.
All of which made for compelling television around the world, even though the realists and fatalists among us figured all along that this hit reality show would end tragically for everyone involved. Four of the children were eventually rescued and rushed to hospitals by heroic methods a few days ago, though, and another four were treated to the same action-adventure movie heroics the next day, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the rescuers beat the torrential rains and rescued the final four players and the 25-year-old coach who had bravely volunteered to be the last one out, and only then did such such realistic and fatalistic sorts as ourselves breath a sigh of a relief that miracles do indeed happen and that some times they even come in bunches of 14 or more.
The ingenious and heroic exploits of the rescuers make for a riveting based-on-a-true-story action adventure movie that will surely be coming soon to a theater near you, and there are all sorts of feel-good subplots to the story. Thailand’s dubious government came through for those poor kids and and their soccer coach, and an entire world offered its sympathy and help. Even President Donald Trump took time out from his “America First” agenda to “tweet” his sympathy and offer some American help that proved somewhat useful, but it was the brave and ingenious Thai and more nearby Australian and British divers who pulled off the miracle, and in a rare moment of global unity everyone everywhere celebrated the feat.
Despite our realistic and fatalistic sensibilities, it reaffirms our religious faith in miracles and bolsters our hope that the rest of the news might also turn out more or less well. Here’s hoping that all those Thai kids and their selfless soccer coach lead long and satisfactory lives, and that so do the rest of us.

— Bud Norman

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Ten Years Later and the Truth of the Matter

One of the more unfortunate facts of journalism is that no one remembers the retractions, only the retracted errors. This has never been more apparent than in all the stories marking the tenth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.
Press coverage of the tragedy was voluminous, the broadcast networks filled nearly entire days with reports, and it was riddled with well-remembered and still-believed balderdash. There were tales of mass rapes and other outrages inside the New Orleans Superdome, where federal officials had established a rescue center, and reports street gangs shooting at rescue helicopters and committing other atrocities on the crime-ridden streets, and even talk about survivors resorting to cannibalism after a few days of federal inaction. It was all eventually but inconspicuously corrected, yet the even bigger errors remain unacknowledged. The extraordinary number of people rescued by the heroic efforts of the National Guard and the Coast Guard and other military is still less known than than the providentially low number of people who perished in the historical storm, the undeniable failure of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was less publicized than the even the more inept response of the more responsible and Democrat-controlled state and local governments, and that the dire consequences of the storm falling upon a dysfunctional city of New Orleans that had long been dominated by liberal rule, are even after ten years still mostly unmentioned in all of those tenth anniversary stories.
Ten years ago the press and the broadcast networks were mostly concerned with undermining support for President George W. Bush, who had been the target of media wrath even before the Supreme Court decision that handed him the presidency despite the popular support for the favored Democratic nominee Al Gore, with the animus exponentially increased by his decision to invade and occupy, the momentarily unfortunate consequences of which were also an unavoidable topic of the time, and the temptation to pile on during a natural catastrophe was too much for most reporters to resist. Such was the temptation that even the most politically correct reporters were willing to embrace to the most vile stereotypes of black Americans as rapists and gangsters whenever the federal government failed to take the necessary steps. The outrageous claim that black people in New Orleans were resorting to cannibalism after just a couple of days of federal inaction was promulgated by the the impeccably liberal Huffington Post’s Randall Robinson, a black “intellectual” known for his for advocacy of “black reparations,” who meekly admitted a few days later that his hateful assumptions were nothing but bunk but still huffily insisted that the rest of his rants against the hated Bush were all justified.
The impression left by such irresponsible journalism is still strong enough that the current President of the United States can go to New Orleans and give a speech assuming that his audience will still believe all the old beliefs, and that the press and broadcasters will report accordingly, but there have been corrections that should set the public straight. Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy, more so in those parts of the storm’s affected area that were Democrat-controlled and thus dependent on a federal response, but its lessons for ten years later are not what the anniversary coverage would have you believe.

— Bud Norman

A Metaphor on Ice

The winter has thus far been viciously cold around here, with ice and snow and howling arctic winds that blow through our layers of clothing to chill our bones, but our hearts are somehow warmed by the travails of the Spirit of Mawson.
In case you haven’t been following the antipodal news lately, the Spirit of Mawson is a ship that has been stuck for the past nine days in Antarctic ice. It’s a maritime disaster worthy of Joseph Conrad’s most profound prose, far worse than anything our light and rear-wheel-driven Mazda Miata has endured on the icy streets of Wichita, so we really should be feeling nothing but pity for the poor souls aboard, but even so we can’t help savoring the delicious irony that the Spirit of Mawson’s foolhardy journey into the supposedly melting Antarctic ice was intended to publicize the theory of anthropogenic global warming.
Even if you have been following the antipodal news lately, this key detail of the story might have escaped your attention. Most of the national press and network reports have omitted any mention of the Spirit of Mawson’s mission, leaving the reader or viewer to wonder why anybody would be sailing around such a godforsaken portion of the planet. This omission must have been painful for all those writers, as even the lowliest journalist aspires to the heights of literature that such an hilarious metaphor might aspire, but apparently the sacrifice is necessary to spare the theory of anthropogenic global warming any further embarrassment. The same imperative requires that the reporters not ask any troublesome questions about why a ship that is not an ice-breaker was chosen, or why it failed to heed readily available information about weather conditions, or why non-essential women and children were brought along, or who will be stuck with the cost of the rescue of the passengers and of the other ship that got stuck in the ice during an earlier rescue attempt, or whether such incompetent boobs as these are typical of the anthropogenic global warming theory’s advocates.
The gnostic anthropogenic global warming advocates at The New York Times were sufficiently embarrassed by the whole fiasco to indignantly disassociate themselves from the Spirit of Mawson, so perhaps some of the movement has the common sense to come in out of the ice, but we note that a couple of reporters from London’s notoriously left-wing The Guardian were on the ship and that most of the media are content to ignore all the implications of mission. This doesn’t disprove the anthropogenic global warming theory, of course, but it does rather undermind its advocates’ claims of intellectual superiority.
As we write this the crew of the Spirit of Mawson is still awaiting rescue, and we wish them well. More honest reports indicate that they don’t speak the same language as their passengers, which is thought to be yet another ill-planned aspect of the trip, and it’s therefor possible they’re just trying to make a honest living rather than a dishonest political point, but in any case we hope they’re soon back in warmer climes and feeling less certain that the planet is overheating.

— Bud Norman