Blood stains are seen on snow at the site of a plane crash outside Almaty January 29, 2013. The passenger plane crashed in thick fog near Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty on Tuesday and broke into pieces when it hit the ground, killing all 21 people on board.
The world contains many thousands of political prisoners but in the last 50 years only one of them, Nelson Mandela, has turned his imprisonment into a tool to create political change and national liberty.
He accomplished this by intelligence, guile, patience, tolerance for his enemies — and a display of such majestic dignity he commanded the sympathy of the world, even the grudging sympathy of the white South Africans from whom he won power.
To a harsh, cold world he brought a strange and refreshing sweetness. News from Africa was almost always bad, just as it is today, but news involving him always carried a grace note of hope. His gift to everyone was an unquenchable optimism, maintained in the face of appalling conditions. That, and quiet good humour.
He was not the innocent social democrat many of us would have liked him to be. He tolerated the Communist connections of colleagues in the African National Congress (ANC) and at certain times saw serious virtue in Communism. Nor was he a Gandhi. He conspired in acts of violent sabotage when he saw no other way. But at the crucial moment, he knew what to do. (Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
Say you’re returning home after a long trip. Say, though, that the trip was to space. While most homecomings are rough, what with their jet lag and their grudging returns to routine, yours, I am sorry to tell you, will be worse.
You’ll leave the floaty frolickiness of microgravity to be crammed next to your crewmates inside a tiny capsule, which will plummet through the harsh atmosphere of Earth. Fiery plasma will streak outside your window. You’ll feel the heat through your bulky suit. You’ll make it through the fire only to have your freefall aborted by the abrupt opening of a parachute. And you’ll make it through that, in turn, only to make a harsh collision with the harsh ground of Earth—via a “soft landing” that, as the Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli puts it, “is not really soft.”
Rocket to the Moon, Saturday 4 December 1926
Source: LA Times