USS PUEBLO. On this day in 1968, eight days before the Tet Offensive began and six weeks before my arrival in Vietnam, the U.S. naval intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo was seized and her crew captured by North Korean warships. The crew and their commander, Lloyd M. Bucher, were held in POW camps where they were interrogated and tortured for eleven months, until the time of their release. The ship still remains in North Korean hands.
The incident was widely publicized -- I recall reading about the crew's treatment in Stars and Stripes. Notably, photos of allegedly cooperative crew members were disseminated to the world press by North Korea as evidence of U.S. spying. What the North Koreans did not realize was that those same crew members were risking their lives by displaying their middle fingers extended, as a message to the world that the set-up was phony. Check out The Digit Affair for one crewman's first-hand account of the successful sabotage of North Korean propaganda. A sample image appears below -- click to enlarge.
HANDWRITING. Gwendolyn Bounds reports in How Handwriting Trains the Brain that "researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development. It's not just children who benefit. Adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand. Some physicians say handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age."
As I've grown older and my handwriting has become somewhat shaky, I've turned to the computer keyboard for typing my emails and letters, in order to retain legibility. Perhaps I should rethink this. It remains true that a handwritten note or letter from a friend or loved one has a more personal feel than something typed. If keeping my mind sharp is a perk, so much the better, eh?
FRIENDS. I have mixed feelings about the Scientific American article Why You're Probably Less Popular Than Your Friends. On the one hand, the message isn't exactly an ego booster. However, the elegant simplicity of the math used to support the claim is appealing, and has application across a wide range of topics involving numbers. See what you think. (Note: the copyrighted image below courtesy of Melissa McCarthy)