About Twins, about National Geographic

January 3, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

When I hear people say that we all need to “read,” it irks me. “Read what?,” I ask myself. There are many books and magazines to choose from, and large numbers of them are not challenging on any level.

Today I picked up this month’s issue of an incredibly challenging magazine, National Geographic. It was an extraordinary issue, which is the norm. I’ve truly never been disappointed with an issue of National Geographic, perhaps because the magazine combines exquisite photography and excellent story-telling, much of it with a scientific angle, faithfully so, even when inconvenient. The cover article this month is “Twins: Alike but not Alike.” Beware, that you will not be able to read the full story online; nor will you be able to read most of each issue’s stories. To do that you’ll need to subscribe. Here’s an excerpt to an article filled with delightful and and often counter-intuitive information:

The story began with the much publicized case of two brothers, both named Jim. Born in Piqua, Ohio, in 1939, Jim Springer and Jim Lewis were put up for adoption as babies and raised by different couples, who happened to give them the same first name. When Jim Springer reconnected with his brother at age 39 in 1979, they uncovered a string of other similarities and coincidences. Both men were six feet tall and weighed 180 pounds. Growing up, they’d both had dogs named Toy and taken family vacations in St. Pete Beach in Florida. As young men, they’d both married women named Linda, and then divorced them. Their second wives were both named Betty. They named their sons James Alan and James Allan. They’d both served as part-time sheriffs, enjoyed home carpentry projects, suffered severe headaches, smoked Salem cigarettes, and drank Miller Lite beer. Although they wore their hair differently—Jim Springer had bangs, while Jim Lewis combed his hair straight back—they had the same crooked smile, their voices were indistinguishable, and they both admitted to leaving love notes around the house for their wives.

When you are finished learning about twins, you might want to educate yourself about the horrors caused by landmines through the eyes of Cambodians. The article is titled: “Cambodia’s Healing Fields.”

Although weapons of war, land mines are unlike bullets and bombs in two distinct ways. First, they are designed to maim rather than kill, because an injured soldier requires the help of two or three others, reducing the enemy’s forces. Second, and most sinister, when a war ends, land mines remain in the ground, primed to explode. Only 25 percent of land mine victims around the world are soldiers. The rest are civilians—boys gathering firewood, mothers sowing rice, girls herding goats.

What are people doing about landmines? Trying to dig them up and hoping that loved ones don’t have their lives shattered by stepping on them decades after a war has ended. The United States has funded many efforts to dig up old land mines, but the U.S., which has a stockpile of some 10 million land mines, has a mixed record:

Worldwide, millions of land mines are buried in nearly 80 countries and regions—from Angola to Afghanistan, Vietnam to Zimbabwe. That’s one of every three nations. Many of them are following Cambodia’s example. In 2002 almost 12,000 people worldwide were reported killed or maimed by land mines or other explosives. Since then, annual casualties have fallen to fewer than 4,200. This dramatic improvement is a direct result of the Mine Ban Treaty signed in Ottawa, Canada, in 1997, an international agreement banning the use, production, or transfer of land mines and calling for mandatory destruction of stockpiles. Today 157 countries have become party to the treaty, including Afghanistan, Liberia, Nicaragua, and Rwanda; but 39 countries have refused to join, including China, Russia, North Korea, and the U.S.

If these excerpts have intrigued you, consider supporting the research, writing and photography of National Geographic for an entire year for only $15. For this extremely modest sum, you’ll receive and enjoy a year’s worth of issues. I’m not affiliated in any way with National Geographic. I’m merely urging you to take a look if you don’t already subscribe.

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Category: War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. My grandfather bought me a subscription to National Geographic when I was nine. I kept up that subscription from 1952-2000. I read and still have every issue. I stopped because I was angry at the new editor, and management. Since 2000, around about 2008,the magazine has come back more to its original roots, and yes, I’m thinking about catching up on them again.

    It’s good to know, somebody else read them too!

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