Sunday, June 08, 2008

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Theology

1. A lot of my readers, both religions and non-religious, continually complain about all my religions topics, so I'm trying to pepper my blog with some non-religious topics.

2. I saw Indiana Jones the day it came out. I saw the 10:00 a.m. show, which means I was one of the first in the country to see the movie. Yay me. I loved it. It was a little weird being set in the 1950's as opposed to the 1930's, but that was really the only way they were going to be able to account for the fact that Harrison Ford has aged 20 years since the last Indiana Jones movie.

A lot of folks seem to be complaining about how unrealistic the movie was. I think one of the reasons this is a tendency is because people forget how unrealistic the first three were. Movie 1 had ancient religious forces melting people's faces; Movie 2 had Indian cult leaders taking hearts out of sacrifice victims and the victims kept living; and Movie 3 had Indy recovering the cup of Christ and dipping it into magic water that gave eternal life. I think part of the problem is that for many of us, we saw the first three movies as kids and teenagers, when we were less likely to complain of a movie being "unrealistic." Now, we are adults who grew up on these movies and were anxiously awaiting the fourth installment, and so now, as adults, we finally recognize just how silly and over-the-top all the movies were. I think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is perfectly in line with the other Indy movies, and while I don't think it's going to be my favorite, it is a worthy successor to the original trilogy.

I'm hoping they do another one. Why not? It's been resurrected now, the funding is there, so there is no reason not to consider it.

3. I'm officially a "professional" writer now. I have just had a short article accepted by a travel magazine for publication. I am being paid the handsome sum of 40 dollars for this piece. The article was about wineries around Myrtle Beach. I got this opportunity through a website called Helium. Helium is a website where people can post essays and articles on just about any topic, and where people can go to read these articles for information. I post a lot of my blog essays on Helium. Part of Helium's website is called Helium Marketplace. Helium basically has agreements with various publishers, and these publishers will post topics they are needing articles for. Writers for Helium can then submit articles on those topics, and if they are accepted, they will be published in the publisher's magazine or journal, and the writer will be paid. It's a perfect way for someone to get started in freelance writing. I am fortunate enough to have had my first submitted article accepted. I don't know anything about wineries around Myrtle Beach, but I saw the topic, did about 4 hours of research, then wrote the article. I would post it here (it was only about 600 words), but part of the contract agreement states that the work can't be published anywhere else, print or electronic.

4. I've just finished the spring quarter at school, and now have 18 days off. In September, I will be two years into this program. I've managed, so far, to maintain my 4.0. I start clinical rotations again next quarter. I'll be going out on Fridays to a local orthopedic office, which is supposed to be a really good clinical site to go to.

5. We had a really bad storm on Tuesday that raged from about 6:00 to 7:00 in the morning. By the time I was leaving for school at 7:30 it had subsided, but there were trees and powerlines down all over the place, and water flooding roads. By 8:30, I had been in the car for an hour, and was not even halfway to school (it normally takes me about 20 minutes during the morning rush hour). I finally turned around and came home and had to email my instructor to tell him I was literally unable to get to school. Pretty much every road available to me to get from my house to school was blocked by either water, trees, or powerlines. Traffic was more or less a parking lot. At one point, I spent 25 minutes just getting past a Wal-Mart complex.

6. I've been renewing my interest in World War I aviation lately. This has been an interest of mine since I was at least a teenager, but it has waned in recent years as I have become more interested in other pursuits. But recently I've been getting involved in it again, and I've also been playing my old Red Baron 3D computer game, which I had not played in about 6 years. I have three campaigns going currently. One is an American pilot named Byron L. Cunningham who flies for the 94th Aero Squadron (the famous "Hat in the Ring" squadron), and I have chalked up 54 kills in about 21 days. I'm flaming some major Hun ass, flying a checkeredboard-painted Neiuport 28, which is a late-model French scout that is unique because it's guns are on the side of the fuselage instead of on the top. I just won the Congressional Medal of Honor, thanks to a mission wherein I shot down three Albatros DVa's, one Pfalz DIII, two Albatros CIII's, and an observation balloon. Unfortunately, my other campagin, which consisted of a German pilot named Albrecht von Tiernan, recently ended badly after von Teirnan collided head on with a French Neiuport 17 scout. My top wing was damaged by his undercarriage, but I managed to keep the plane under control. However, as I was trying to make a run for my own lines, a couple more Nieuports got onto my tail, and when I tried to evade them, I lost control because of the damaged wing, and crashed. It was a soft crash, and I should have survived it, but the damn dirty cheating computer killed me. My third campaign is a French pilot named Jean-Emile Ledoux, and I have put together a nice little career with him with about 15 kills in the first two months. He's at a disadvantage, though, because he's flying Nieuport 17's, which are inferior to the Albatros DIII's that he is primarily up against.

7. The average age of a pilot in World War I was about 21.

8. During April of 1917 (so-called Bloody April, when the Germans devestated the Allies in the air), the average lifespan of a British flier was 11 days. I recently finished a relatively new book outlining in detail each of the Red Baron's 80 kills, including information about the victims. It was unbelievable how many of them had only been at the front for a week or two, or a month at most. At least one of them was literally flying his very first combat sortie, having only arrived at the front the day before. Can you imagine the bad luck? Get posted to the RFC, arrive at the front, and then on your very first time over the lines, you manage to end up in a dogfight with the highest-scoring ace of the war, and get your ass shot down and killed?

9. Rudolph Berthold scored 44 victories with Germany during the war, and managed to survive, only to be killed in 1920 during the post-war revolutionary fighting in Germany. He was killed during a riot. He was in uniform, wearing his Pour le Merite - which was the award given to pilots who performed exceptionally well in the air. It was a very prestigious award, given to only the best of the best - and Berthold was something like the 4th or 5th highest-scoring German ace to survive the war. It hung around the neck. Revolutionaries grabbed him, beat him senseless, then strangled him to death with the ribbons of the Pour le Merite. So he survived the war as a highly decorated ace, only to be killed two years later by his own countrymen. And Vietnam vets thought they had it bad when they got spit on. Germany was not a place you wanted to be after World War I.

10. Death by falling was common for World War I pilots. Not because they fell out of their cockpits, but because they jumped. World War I planes were made of wood and fabric, and were prone to catching fire when the engine was hit. Parachutes were not in wide use during World War I (they thought if the pilots had parachutes, they'd be more likely to ditch their plane in a pinch, and hell, that would cost money!), and so when a pilot's plane caught fire, he would frequently jump rather than burn to death. It's reminescent of the people who jumped from the World Trade Center on 9/11. What an awful decision to be faced with.

11. Fate didn't play favorites in World War I. Oswald Boelke was Germany's first air hero, and was head and shoulders above all his peers. At the time of his death, he had more than double the score of any other pilot in the war. Even though he died a full two years before the end of the war, he still ended up as the 12th highest scoring ace for the Germans. Even to this day, he is commonly regarded as the "father" of dogfighting, and he put together a list of dogfighting techniques that are still taught to this day and are sort of the "basics" of dogfighting. Anyway, Boelke was killed in October of 1916, not by being shot down gloriously in flames after a long, heroic battle, but after colliding in mid-air with a plane from his own squadron. Manfred von Richthofen (i.e. the Red Baron) (who was an unknown but up-and-coming pilot at the time) was chasing an enemy plane, and the plane veered right in front of Boelke and a third pilot named Erwin Boehme. Boehme saw the plane coming, and rolled out of the way. In doing so, he rolled right into Boelke. Boelke's top wing was crushed, and his plane spun into the ground, where he was killed. Boehme, on the other hand, managed to keep control of his plane and survived. After scoring 23 kills in his own right, Boehme was shot down himself a year later.

12. Hermann Goering was a 22-victory ace in World War I, and led von Richthofen's unit following the Red Baron's death in April of 1918. Goering, of course, came to prominence in World War II as Hitler's second in command and head of the Luftwaffe.

13. Ernst Udet was the high-scoring German ace to survive the war, ending with a score of 62 (18 less than von Richtofen's 80 kills). Udet was a stunt pilot after the war, and even lived for a while in the U.S. and flew stunts in movies. In the 1930's, he returned to Germany where he was called upon by Goering to have a high role in the Luftwaffe. Conflicted about his loyalties, and not believing in the principles of Nazism, and feeling that he was just a propoganda puppet, he committed suicide in 1941.

14. Manfred von Richthofen had both a brother and a cousin who were also aces in World War I. Cousin Wolfram von Richthofen scored 8 kills, and brother Lothar von Richtofen scored 40 kills. Lothar holds the record for the best "start" to a flying career in World War I, scoring 20 kills in his first month at the front. Lothar was shot down and wounded several times - once severely - but survived the war. He survived, however, only to die in a plane crash in 1922.

15. Jean Navarre was an early French ace of some note who scored 12 victories very early in the war, before being shot down in enemy territory and taken prisoner. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner and was finally repatriated after the armistice. He continued flying, and was asked to fly in a celebration in Paris in 1919 to celebrate the end of the war. He was to fly his plane through the famous Arc de Triomph. While practicing for the celebration, he hit the Arc and was killed.

16. Charles Nungesser was a flamboyant French ace who scored about 45 kills. He was the consummate "World War I playboy flier," with stories told of him flying sorties hungover and still dressed in his tuxedo from the night before. Despite being wounded on a number of occasions (he was forced to walk with a cane because of one injury), he survived the war. In 1927, he attempted to fly solo across the Atlantic, and was never heard from again. 3 months later, Charles Lindbergh became the first to do it successfully. If Nungesser had succeeded, we would talk about Charles Nungesser instead of Charles Lindbergh.

17. Is anyone still reading?

18. Obama for president.

3 comments:

Laura said...

Yes to numbers 17 and 18. Congratulations on your Helium article and on being a paid writer now! I found your blog through articles you wrote there, so it's nice to hear how things are progressing for you.

Keep writing. We're still here.

Scott said...

Cool, I didn't realize you had found my blog through Helium. I guess people really do read Helium articles after all! :)

Laura said...

I do because I write on there (as Laura Caine) and you wrote a compelling article "Is Scripture Really the Infallible Word of God?".

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