Friday, April 14, 2006

Just "Plane" Stupid

Thanks for the Memory to Emily at It Comes in Pints?

When one views the modern mainstream media from a certain political perspective, and one notices the omission of certain stories or details of stories, it is easy to reach the conclusion that said media have an agenda: that they hold to a certain political and philosophical viewpoint; and that they select the stories and images to be presented to their audience in such a way as to paint their own beliefs in a positive light, and that of their opponents in a negative.

But Hanlon's Razor dictates that we never presume malice in an individual's actions if those actions can simply be attributed to stupidity. And while I am firmly of the belief that the media have been self-incrimination to the point where simple stupidity cannot explain their actions, and said action seem convincingly evident of malice AND stupidity combined, on occasion, they do present me with anecdotal evidence in support of a pure stupidity theory.

Case in point:

Emily points us in the comments to her entry to this fawning article from People, an interview with Tom "Caligula" Cruise and Katie "Deer in Headlights" Holmes. In the first sentence of the article, the writer, Clint Brewer, writes, "It was a scene straight out of a Tom Cruise blockbuster: the hero in the cockpit of a 1944 P-51 Mustang fighter plane, a beautiful girl on the tarmac, and the roar of the jet's engines as it tore across a Mojave Desert sky."

Most of my beloved readers are well-versed in the history of the US Military and its more famous weapons, and will catch the error in that sentence right away, but for the few of you who aren't and don't, I commend to you this URL about the North American P-51 Mustang, including photo.

If you'll take a look at that photo, a couple of things become clear right away: First of all, the Mustang is a single-engine aircraft. Second of all, it is propeller-driven. And that propeller is driven not by a turbofan (which is, technically, a form of jet engine), oh no, but by a piston engine, like the one in your car (well, nominally like the one in your car, in the same way that a Ferrari Enzo is a car, like my Ford Focus) an Allison F-series V-12 in early models, and a Rolls Merlin V-12 (yes, built by Rolls Royce, and under license by Packard) in the later, more successful models.

The point being that to refer to the P-51's roar as being that of a "jet's engines" is doubly incorrect. Had Mr. Brewer bothered, a simple Google search could have provided him with the information. Do I think that Mr. Brewer hates the military, or P-51 Mustangs, or the memory of the North American Aircraft Company? No. But it is obvious that he is uninformed, and furthermore, lazy. Unfamiliar with the simple nuances of aircraft design (nuances that seem frighteningly obvious), he chose to simply equate "airplane" and "jet", and either missed the distinction himself, or trusted that his readers would do so. In either case, this is irresponsible and stupid, but not malicious.

However, I would offer one caveat to any journalist who might stumble upon my humble blog: falling back on Hanlon's Razor may exhonorate you regarding your motives, but it doesn't exactly commend you regarding your skills.

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