Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
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The discussion on a space science discussion list has continued concerning Impearls' earlier pieces on the BBC and the anniversary of flight (permalink) and BBC2 (permalink). Our previous correspondent has proceeded as follows:
The difference in perception between broadcast vs. written media had occurred to me too.
Thanks! Glad to learn of the group, actually. I'll try not to get into too much extraneous argumentation….
I haven't read the book, just noted its existence in Britannica's short biography of Richard Llewellyn. I did see that it's available for as little as about $2 on the Advanced Book Exchange (world's best used bookstore, IMHO).
(Choke! gasp.) Prime Minister Tony Blair wishes the BBC were pro-British, much less pro-American. That's not much exaggerated, I'm afraid, as I suspect Blair would ruefully admit in a moment of candor. The BBC is pretty much completely independent of government control, and shows it by attacking the government vigorously. It used to be expected they would treat Conservative governments that way; now they do it to Labour too, more or less coming from the far left. During the aftermath of the Iraq war the media furor reached such a crescendo in attempting to depose Blair as to resemble an attempted coup by this pseudo-governmental agency.
I agree with you on that.
No doubt. And you're right — in the case of a Columbus' discovery anniversary, for instance, just running an alternative discovery of America feature at the time wouldn't qualify that as being “anti-Columbus” at all. (Let's continue the Columbus analogy a little longer, I think it's instructive.) When one looks at recent Columbus-day anniversaries (not just the 500th, but annual), that's not what's happening. I haven't tried to accumulate statistics, mind you, though I have tried keeping an eye on Columbus' media coverage during recent years, and what I recollect seeing is media piece after media piece — not showing alternatives who might have gotten to America before, that would be interesting — instead they typically rake Columbus over the coals: he's a slaver, he's a terrible administrator, he's held personally responsible for the large die-off of native Americans (mostly due to disease) following European contact (darling of the left Venezuelan president Chavez made that accusation recently), etc. etc. It's even gotten to the point where Columbus is called a lousy navigator.
This is very different from what historians were saying only a few decades ago. Renowned historian Samuel Eliot Morison, for example, wrote a fascinating two-volume history on the European Discovery of America, as well as another book on Columbus himself. Besides being a respected historian, Morison was a deep-water sailor who followed Columbus' and some of the other New World explorers' routes in his own sailing ship. Morison points out that Columbus was not only a master mariner but was personally responsible for discovery of more territory (miles of land and coastline explored) than any other explorer, including Magellan, in history. As Morison wrote: 1
You see what I'm talking about. Coverage of Columbus in the last few decades has changed — almost like a bright light being turned off, and a dark light darkly illuminating him and his times turned on. Is this new paradigm constantly being preached any more likely to be correct, or true, than the old? Considering what I see as the change originating more or less in intellectual fashion (an anti-exploration fashion) rather than scientific historical results, I have severe doubts about that.
Getting back to the Wright brothers, had the BBC done a show on the pathos of Santos-Dumont as an aviation pioneer who did his work thinking (before the Wrights' flights had become widely known) that he was first to fly, then I could have had no complaint. Had they shown how Alberto's aircraft compared with the Wrights' and how he solved the same problems as they but in a decidedly different way, that would have been fascinating. (Correct me if I'm wrong somebody, I don't recall the BBC showing what Santos-Dumont's airplane even looked like; instead they displayed the box Alberto's heart is supposedly locked up in.) More significantly, rather than showing him figuratively standing alongside, and a little behind, the Wrights' achievement, they explicitly tried to knock the Wright Brothers out of the way by claiming that their achievement was invalid, erroneous, for a couple of different (spurious) reasons — as if the Wrights ought to be disqualified like an athlete who'd cheated or used steroids. And then the BBC showed nothing of the (convincing) other side of the story.
That's what, in my view, turns the BBC piece into an anti-Wright Brothers slam.
The “coincidence” of the date merely adds reason to believe it's no accident.
1 Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages (1492-1616), 1974, Oxford University Press, New York; p. 267.
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