1. Lovely graphic of information destruction through the ages at Global Data Vault:
Throughout the ages, it has happened again and again. Whole libraries of clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, bark codexes and paper books have been destroyed by natural disasters, fire and war. The Royal Library of Alexandria, where the accumulated knowledge of ancient scientists, physicians and philosophers was stored, was destroyed by fire. The destruction likely started during Caesar’s Civil War when Julius Caesar purposefully set his own ships ablaze, and many scholars believe the library suffered numerous other tragic fires throughout history. More than 120,000 volumes written by classical Greek and Roman authors were lost when fire destroyed the library at Constantinople in 473A.D.. Virtually all of the codexes recording the history, beliefs and sciences of the Maya were intentionally destroyed by the Spanish as works of the devil. In World War II libraries containing millions of books were destroyed as strategic acts of war.
2. During World War II in the Pacific, one of the things that the US did better than Japan was rescuing its downed pilots. Immense amounts of effort went into collecting them, and often a great deal of heroism, as with John A. Burns’ rescues off the Japanese fortress of Truk in 1944:
His Navy Cross citation explains:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade John A. Burns (NSN: 0-145323), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a Navy OS2U “Kingfisher” embarked from the Battleship U.S.S. NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55), in action against enemy Japanese forces near Truk, in the Pacific War Area on 30 April 1944. Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Burns flew boldly to an area within close range of hostile shore batteries to rescue a pilot of a U.S. Navy airplane that had gone down in the vicinity, recovering the pilot as well as the pilot and two crewmen of a previously dispatched OS2U “Kingfisher” that had capsized during an earlier rescue attempt. After transferring the rescued airman to an United States Submarine, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Burns returned a second time to rescue yet another downed pilot. Finding his aircraft too heavy and the waters too rough to take off, and while awaiting contact from the American submarine, two more United States Navy airplanes were hit and forced to ditch in the vicinity. Taxiing extensively from one life raft to another, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Burns rescued the pilots of both aircraft and each of the two Avenger’s two crewmen. By his daring initiative and dedication to duty, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Burns was able to effect the rescue of 10 Naval aviators. His conduct throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
3. Finally, Wikipedia is useful and fascinating in equal measures. Looking at the “Talk” page for a particular Wikipedia entry can be like watching scholarly discussion, debate, and consensus in fast motion. The “Joe Paterno” page is a case in point:
As one might expect, the edits to the Paterno entry – 3,808 in total since the entry was first posted in April 2004 – are for the most part careful contests in wordsmithing to make sure it doesn’t go too far in either convicting the former coach of crimes he was never charged with, or in glossing over the Sandusky scandal as “a Jerry problem.”
For example, edit records show content editors going back and forth repeatedly over language like, as one short-lived edition the day the NCAA sanctions came out put it, that Paterno was “fired for failing to protect children from sexual abuse by his coaching staff.”
Have a good weekend.