25 Years of Looking for the Unexpected

Over the past quarter-century, the magazine has published more than 2,000 major articles

Sickle cell anemia
Sickle cell anemia Wikimedia Commons

1970 -- From elephants to red wolves to bald eagles, the trials and triumphs of endangered species

It was a sure sign of things to come when our first issue took up the fate of the Ceylon elephant, whose numbers in the wild had by then fallen from 40,000 to just 3,000. During the next two decades, in story after story, the magazine reported on ways and means of saving endangered habitats as well as species.

In assessing the effects of the Endangered Species Act, which first became law in 1973, the public has been distracted by confrontations involving the likes of the snail darter. But over the years remarkable progress has been made. The California condor has a chance to escape extinction. So has the red wolf, whose wild population was extinct until captive breeding and release into the wild began. The eastern brown pelican and the American alligator have largely come back. International efforts seem to have saved the California gray whale. Outlawing the marketing of ivory has helped Africa's elephants hang on. Our national symbol, the bald eagle, has been removed from the endangered list, and gray wolves are once again on the prowl in the West.

It's sometimes said that the Endangered Species Act, which comes up for reauthorization by Congress this year, is an attempt to outlaw extinction. In fact, it's an attempt to mitigate the depredations of humans, particularly the destruction of critical habitats, which is still going on at an unsettling rate.

The most spectacular save yet involves the American peregrine falcon. Devastated by DDT and habitat loss, peregrines had gone extinct in the East, and in the West their numbers were down by 90 percent. Today, through captive breeding, the bird has been returned to every state in its original range.

1971 -- Solar energy: after a dazzling debut, its prospects don't seem so sunny

Like everyone else, SMITHSONIAN'S editors had high hopes for solar in 1971, but today, nonrenewable sources--coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear--still account for more than 90 percent of our energy. Hydroelectric and wood produce less than 6 percent. Solar and wind? Only 0.2 percent. The problem is cost: solar is twice as expensive as the average energy source in the USA.

1972 -- The King Tut show showed the way

In London, huge crowds waited in long lines and even camped out overnight to get tickets. They were waiting for "Treasures of Tutankhamun," a spectacular display of gleaming animals, statues and rich jewels that included this amazing gold funerary mask of the boy king, who died in 1352 b.c. Tutankhamun fever invaded America with a King Tut show that toured the country later in the 1970s. It expanded the museumgoing public and set the style for such exhibitions as "The Treasure Houses of Britain" (1985) and "Circa 1492" (1991). Of late, with costs up and funding down, blockbuster shows may be going out of fashion, but museum flair and care live on.

1973 -- Sickle cell anemia: no cure, but progress in treatment

It was two decades ago that sickle cell anemia began to get serious national attention, in part because of the man featured in our story, Dr. Rudolph Ellsworth Jackson. An African-American specialist in blood research, he had just been named director of a new National Institutes of Health task force aimed at its prevention and cure.

Sickle cell is a blood disease, genetically transmitted. It mainly afflicts black people, and is especially painful and dangerous to very young children. About 10 percent of black Americans carry the trait but do not suffer from the disease. If you have it, some of your hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body, sporadically starts to curl and cling together, clogging blood vessels and reducing the flow of blood to the tissues. Some sickle cell children suffer strokes. And they are also at risk from meningitis and pneumonia. In 1973, and for years afterward, 30 percent of all sickle cell babies died before the age of 5. Only 16 percent of them lived beyond age 30.

By now screening of newborns for sickle cell is standard in 43 states, so parents who haven't been tested themselves know what's in store for their babies. Much can be done. Doctors, like Virgil McKie of the Medical College of Georgia, can now reduce the risk of multiple strokes by repeated blood transfusions. Sickle cell babies are also given regular doses of penicillin, starting in infancy and continuing until they pass the age, generally around 5, when sudden infections are most likely to strike. Recent studies show that drugs that modify the hemoglobin, such as hydroxyurea, can help prevent the pains that bedevil sickle cell patients. Hydroxyurea, especially, seems able to cut down dramatically on acute chest syndrome, one of the most deadly complications of the disease. There are still 72,000 people with sickle cell in the United States. But more than 85 percent survive to reach age 20, and half make it beyond 50. Says Dr. Samuel Charache, the principal investigator in recent hydroxyurea tests: "When I went to medical school in 1955, nobody lived beyond 20."

1974 -- For years recycling was an idea whose time was about to come; now it has

"No Deposit. No Return," read the epitaph on a mock tombstone. "Died in Oregon on September 30, 1972. May it rust in peace." Oregon had just passed the country's first bottle-and-can bill. Other states seemed poised to follow. By 1974, when we did our story, the Middle East oil crisis had us worrying about energy as well as waste. America was producing 125 million tons of trash a year, 7 percent of it throwaway bottles and cans. The EPA estimated the energy consumed in making those cans and bottles would heat 5 percent of U.S. households for a year.

In 1974, however, only a million citizens were returning containers. The problem was the price of collecting, sorting and recycling trash, which was overwhelming, as compared with $3 per ton for simply shoving it all into a landfill. By the '80s, though, it turned out that landfills leak; they need expensive linings, and pumps to extract leachate. Recycling at least offered a hope of future income from the resale of paper, glass, plastic and tin. Some states started requiring that a percentage of paper, glass or cans be made from recycled material.

The process does not pay for itself yet, but in many cities the resale price of recycled newspapers has lately soared from $3 to almost $30 per ton; used plastic containers go for about a nickel a pound. More than 150 million Americans now sort their trash for glass and plastic, metal and paper; that's more than vote.

1975 -- Rufino Tamayo's legacy of art

As an aspiring young painter from the provincial town of Oaxaca, Mex-ico's Rufino Tamayo found it hard to learn what was going on elsewhere in the art world. Eventually he migrated to New York and Paris, fashioning an eclectic style that won him considerable fame and fortune. His semi-abstract, sensuous style was shaped by his heritage-by the artistic traditions, vibrant colors and rhythms of Mexico-and by modern art.

He was a passionate collector as well. By 1975 he had created a five-room museum in Oaxaca devoted to pre-Hispanic Mexican art. But his dream was to start another museum, like the one he didn't have when young, full of modern art from all over the world. In 1981, ten years before he died, Rufino Tamayo's Museum of Contemporary International Art opened in Mexico City. There, in addition to major traveling exhibitions, visitors can see his fine collection of works by Picasso, Mark Rothko, Fernand Lger, David Smith and many others.

1976 -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: much to do just undoing what's been done

Will the real Corps please stand up?

That was the gist of Don Moser's two-part report on the Army Corps of Engineers, one of the largest construction outfits in the world. On the one hand, the agency that conservationists called "Public Enemy Number One" was still hard at work dredging, draining and damming, and building such Congressionally mandated projects as the huge Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Mississippi. On the other hand, it was trying out a new role as nature's watchdog, moving to protect such valuable resources as a 2,000-acre mangrove swamp in Florida.

By now it has become clear that the Corps is more likely to be a restorer than a developer of fragile lands. This is partly because Congress' old pork barrel is empty, partly because of environmental sensitivities and partly because a number of Corps projects have turned out to be financial as well as ecological boondoggles.

Much of the Corps' present work involves atoning for past damage, including that done in the Florida Everglades. The Corps began draining the "Glades" in the 1950s with 1,000 miles of canals. That supplied water to booming South Florida and created cropland for sugarcane growers, but it also wiped out bird populations and contributed to the destruction of Florida Bay. Now the Corps is proposing an elaborate "replumbing" at a cost of as much as $2.5 billion. It has already started moving dirt to return the Kissimmee River to its natural state. It's up to Congress to authorize the rest of the Engineers' plans. The real Corps is standing up, and environmentalists are applauding.

1977 -- Those math whiz kids have fulfilled their promise--in a variety of ways

Colin Camerer, at age 17, was part of a 1977 report by writer David Nevin on seven boys who went to college under a super head-start program for math geniuses, created and run by Johns Hopkins psychology professor Julian C. Stanley.

Public schools have not been designed for the supremely bright, who often come to grief from boredom. After testing thousands of them, Stanley decided to see how a handful would do making an early jump to college, as young as 11 or 12.

When Nevin first caught up with his subjects, they had just graduated from college, at ages ranging from 15 to 19. Six were bound, on scholarships, for PhD programs in such fields as mathematics and computer science at places like Princeton and Stanford. Nevin found them exhilarated by their challenging schoolwork and the prospect of well-adjusted and successful lives. When he checked up on their progress this year, they were still grateful for Stanley's program.

All but two got a PhD. Most taught at the college level. One, Camerer, has had a truly meteoric career in academe. At 34 he is a full professor at Cal Tech with an endowed chair in economics. He has already founded and built up a record-producing company, and thinks he may buy some racehorses next. One whiz kid is married, has a child and teaches. One is deep into chess and bridge. One says martial arts interest him as much as his career in scientific research. One, a baseball nut, happily splits his time between classified research and radio commentary for the Baltimore Orioles.

Stanley still presides over his program, which has spread to three other universities. Together they test 175,000 kids a year and invite 10,000 to take special accelerated summer courses.

1978 -- How a painter's angst became a pop--cult icon

With a little help from watered-down Freud and the terror of two world wars, the 20th century has sought to ease its prevailing angst by letting it all hang out. It has also made heroes of 19th-century painters and writers who were ahead of their time in this regard. One such was Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. Around the turn of the century, Munch externalized his anguish in powerful paintings that prefigured the German Expressionists. Our story marked a major showing of his work in the United States and closed with a reproduction of his painting The Scream.

This scary, doleful image has since become a pop-cult icon, adorning shopping bags, posters and T-shirts around the world. The publicity perhaps inspired the young Norwegians whose theft of The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo last year was filmed by the museum's security camera. Anti-abortion activists claimed they'd return the work if Norway's state television would air The Silent Scream, an anti-abortion film. In fact, they had nothing to do with the theft. Ultimately, the painting was recovered undamaged.

Recently, inflatable versions of The Scream have been selling at a rate of 100,000 a year--the desktop model for $9. Why the image has become a fad is a puzzle. Perhaps it's a kind of pop primal scream therapy, or maybe just a way to get through a bad hair day.

1979 -- An emperor's terra-cotta army

Sixteen years ago Smithsonian printed pictures of an extraordinary find. Discovered by farmers near the city of Xi'an in Central China, it was an entire army, some 7,000 men sculptured in terra-cotta. These larger-than-life figures-complete with spear-carrying infantry, archers, horses and chariots-had been put there to protect Emperor Qin Shihuangdi after he entered the land of the dead more than 2,200 years ago.

Historians tend to regard the emperor as a tyrant. He conquered all of China, abolished feudal privileges, once had 460 scholars buried alive and completed the Great Wall.

A sampling of the soldiers and other tomb treasures is on tour and will be in Honolulu through June 18. Some 26 million Chinese, and more than 2 million foreigners, have journeyed to Xi'an to see the museum that the Chinese government has set up. The terra-cotta army, in fact, is only part of a vast, as yet largely unexplored complex said to have taken 720,000 workers 37 years to complete. Xi'an is one of the most monumental archaeological discoveries of all time.

1980 -- Animal rights--from the embarrassment of fur-wearing ladies to 'save the chimps'

In their own way, the indignant raccoon and uneasy dowager stand for one of the most remarkable changes of heart that the century has seen. Societies to prevent cruelty to horses and dogs have long existed. It was not until the early 1980s, however, that anybody spoke of rights, and that large-scale popular campaigns on behalf of animals began. Some of the most spectacular ("I'd rather go naked than wear fur") as well as successful attacks were launched at pain needlessly inflicted--the trapping of animals for their fur and the blinding of rabbits to test eye shadow. But as our report pointed out, the new animal-rights movement had also begun to assail "factory" farming and modern science for the ghastly conditions that billions of chickens, calves and pigs endure before being slaughtered, as well as the often brutal handling of 20 million creatures used in scientific laboratories each year.

Since 1980 a number of cosmetic companies have abandoned rabbit tests. Detroit no longer uses dogs to measure car safety. Veal consumption has dropped. So, to some extent, have fur coat sales. The United States now does a big business in salad bars, humane mousetraps and free-range chickens.

Much of the current concern is rooted in the study of animal behavior. Books by ethologists Michael W. Fox, Donald Griffin and others have made it clear that animals, far from being mere robots of behavioral reflex as science long held, are sentient beings whose ability to think and feel cry out for human understanding and care.

1981 -- Lloyd's of London: entangled in the laws of probability

When we took a bemused look at the venerable Lloyd's of London in 1981, it did not have its fancy new headquarters but was still a likely entry in anybody's "There'll Always Be an England" contest. Today Lloyd's is shaking from $10 billion in losses as well as allegations of mismanagement.

A collection of individual underwriting groups known as "syndicates," Lloyd's is famous for its willingness to insure almost anything (at a price), including imponderable assets like Marlene Dietrich's legs. By tradition, syndicate managers are renowned for shrewdly assessing risk and intimately knowing the character and track records of whatever they insure. That had let Lloyd's provide "names" (elite investors, including, for a time, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer) with large profits year after year. "Names" become underwriters in the insurance business, but on unusual terms. They must pledge everything they own to make good their syndicates' debts if losses outrun profits.

From 1988 to 1991 Lloyd's was hit with astronomical insurance payments from an apocalyptic succession of hurricanes (Hugo and Andrew), floods, earthquakes, and airline and oil disasters. Some syndicates had also reinsured American corporations when U.S. juries were awarding astounding sums for harm caused by asbestos. Some "names" lost everything. A few committed suicide. Most took to the law. Reforms are under way, but Lloyd's of London will never be quite the same.

1982 -- A sea change on Daufuskie Island

When writer Alex Haley visited this small South Carolina island, people there remembered a time when several hundred residents, mostly black, spoke Gullah, farmed some, roamed wherever they wanted, and lived off the land and sea. But Daufuskie was changing, and today developers own 70 percent of it. Three major resort "plantations" have come, with fancy inns, golf courses and beachfront homes. Two more are on the way. Islanders, who have been priced out, mourn the old ways. But they are also getting used to new job opportunities, regular ferry service, a fire chief and 911 service, a stretch of paved road and the promise of a new school. Some of this is the result of work by the island's community improvement association and civic leader Ervin Simmons, local historian Billie Burn and developer Steve Kiser.

1983 -- The Universe: an open or shut case?

Our two-part series on the life of the Universe from the Big Bang to the distant future addressed one of the central questions of astrophysics. For decades scientists have been confounded by the fact that the observable Universe does not seem to have enough mass to create the gravity needed to bind great structures like galaxies. Thus out in the void there must be some mysterious stuff, "Dark Matter," that glues the cosmos together. Scientists have proposed as candidates a number of subatomic particles that exist only in theory. In January a Los Alamos-led team of researchers claimed that their experiments, conducted in 180 tons of baby oil, provide preliminary evidence that particles called neutrinos--which are both real and unimaginably numerous but long thought to be massless--may have a slight amount of mass after all.

Many physicists dispute the claims, and clearly the last word is far from in on Dark Matter and on the question of whether the Universe is "open" or "closed." Without sufficient mass, cosmologists theorize, the Universe will continue to expand forever. But given a certain amount of mass, all of the matter in the Universe may ultimately collapse, in a "Big Crunch," back into a single point, then perhaps explode in another Big Bang--followed, presumably, by a future race of scientists trying to figure it all out.

1984 -- Antactica: setting aside sovereignty in favor of the claims of science

Antarctica is almost as big as the United States and Mexico together, much of it covered with ice from one to three miles deep. Along its shores there are seven kinds of penguins, four kinds of seals and billions of tiny shrimp called krill. Inland, where the mean yearly temperature is minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit, not much survives except lichens. In winter (late February through September) the human population has now climbed to more than 1,000, mostly support staff and some scientists. In summer it exceeds 4,000 (a lot more scientists) plus many ships full of tourists who get to photograph the penguins.

Since the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58, all the nations with a presence there have operated largely on the basis of scientific cooperation. But seven countries (Australia, Argentina, Chile, France, Great Britain, New Zealand and Norway) still lay claim to slices of Antarctica. When writer Michael Parfit spent the summer of 1983-84 there, he found researchers busy but very worried. Disputes over resources were heating up. In 1991, however, representatives of the 26 voting nations in the Antarctic Treaty system agreed that Antarctica must remain protected and free from mining for 50 years from the date of ratification. Meanwhile scientists who are studying the ozone hole have concluded that CFCs are the major cause. Among other things researchers have uncovered are the fossil remains of a new carnivorous dinosaur with a crest that resembles Elvis' hairstyle. The National Science Foundation is now making plans to reconstruct the research station at the South Pole. Cost projections range up to $200 million.

1985 -- New York's Garment District: still undergoing costly alterations

After writer James Traub looked at the Garment District a decade ago, he reported that its "very future seems open to question." The legendary stretch along Manhattan's Seventh Avenue was still designing, making and marketing $12 billion worth of women's clothes a year. It was still a place of old-fashioned immigrant entrepreneurs, skilled sew-ers, fine cutters and agile "pushboys" who trundled racks of dresses. But big, efficient companies like Liz Claiborne were squeezing out littler guys, and retailers were discounting hugely-shrinking the manufacturers' profits and forcing many companies to shut down.

Today profound changes continue to shake Seventh Avenue. Foreign imports are up, many department stores have gone under, and women are buying more selectively, often from off-price stores or discount malls. More and more sewing and cutting is being done by cheap labor abroad, but the cruelest irony is the news that hundreds of sweatshops are once again flourishing in New York and other U.S. cities, employing mostly illegal immigrants, who are willing to suffer low pay and long hours.

1986 -- Caboose thoughts: back on track?

When we checked up on them in 1986, some 9,000 faithful cabooses were still on the job, serving as comfy bunkhouses and command centers for conductors and brakemen all over the country. The sad news is that now only about 3,500 cabooses are left. They are being replaced by computerized devices that can monitor such things as hotboxes and air-brake pressure.

Little Red Caboose fans need not despair. There is now a big market in ex-cabooses, which sell at anywhere from $3,000 from $7,000. What happens then is the stuff of children's books. Picture, if you will, Mopey, a glum but worthy old caboose marked for oblivion. Enter a friendly caboose broker, and Mopey finds himself headed for a new job--maybe as a cutesy art gallery, a small-town library or a local museum. Highfliers sometimes really hit the big time, catching on as a playroom for a McDonald's. Thirty-seven Mopeys now serve collectively as the Red Caboose Motel in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. The real Valhalla for Mopeys, though, is something called the Cockaboose Railroad, dreamed up by steel man Ed Robinson who, in 1990, bought more than 20 cabooses and lined them up outside the football stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, where the state university Gamecocks play. Painted red and richly refurbished with all the comforts of home, the old cabooses are sitting pretty as sites for lavish tailgate parties. Heck--like their owners, they can even watch the games on closed-circuit TV.

1987 -- The works aren't enough, Oxfordians want a life, too, and hope it isn't Will's

Four centuries after his first dramas were presented, William Shakespeare remains the most admired and most performed playwright in the world. But about the man personally, very little is known. No one even knows what he really looked like-though the images at right represent a recent attempt to show that one of his portraits was really a likeness of Queen Elizabeth I.

The shortage of facts has encouraged claims that someone else wrote the plays-perhaps Francis Bacon, even Queen Elizabeth I herself. The Shakespeare of choice, lately, has been Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, an Elizabethan courtier-poet-soldier.

In 1987 we examined the claims of Charleton Ogburn, the foremost Oxfordian, including a claim that Oxford paid the Stratford "Shakespeare" to front for him, since playwriting could be politically hazardous in Elizabeth's court. Ogburn provocatively explores parallels between Oxford's personal life and travels (Padua, Venice and Verona) with settings and specific incidents in the plays. Anti-Oxfordians wryly note that Oxford died in 1604-when at least 11 of Shakespeare's plays had yet to be written. So the debate continues. In 1993 a scholar found that Oxford's Bible had a number of marked passages that Shakespeare used in the plays-but it proved a false alarm. Oxford, it appeared, had acquired the Bible with the notations already in it. One Oxfordian argument is that a bumpkin like Shakespeare couldn't have written so often and accurately about kings and courts, what the Bard's Henry V calls "the tide of pomp that beats upon the high shore of this world." But whoever Shakespeare was, he was a great genius of the poetic imagination, who could make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell if he had a mind to.

1988 -- The mystery of Oak Island, Nova Scotia: Yo! Ho! Ho! and a hole full of debt

Robert Louis Stevenson himself could hardly imagine Oak Island, site of the most intensive and longest treasure hunt in history. People started digging there for pirate gold during the Presidency of George Washington. But in 200 years nobody has found so much as one doubloon. What has been found, as our story related, is a system of tunnels and a deep pit filled in with dirt and oak platforms at regular intervals, which has yielded some materials that date back to circa 1575.

Today a high-tech exploration team, the Triton Alliance, still has plans to dig the most sophisticated hole yet--at an estimated cost of $10 million.

1989 -- For babes named Ruth, World War II diamonds were a girl's best friend

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League began in 1943, when it looked as if the major leagues would be shut down. Crowds often came to scoff but stayed to root for skilled teams like the Racine (Wisconsin) Belles and the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches.

After our story on the League, director Penny Marshall got to work on what became her 1992 hit movie, A League of Their Own, a rollicking epic about the first season of the Peaches. Framed by a sequence showing some of the original players, now gracefully gray, at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, the film was a splendid affair. Among other things, it proved that Madonna could act and cover center field, and that Geena Davis, as a rangy kid just off the farm, could spit convincingly, play catcher, snag a hardball bare-handed and virtually manage the team as well.

The next year former Atlanta Braves executive Bob Hope teamed up with the Coors beer people to launch the Colorado Silver Bullets, a women's pro baseball team. In 1994 they played 44 all-male minor league and college teams (W 6, L 38). The crowds were great and a 50-game season is planned this year. Some 20 of the games will be televised.

1990 -- In Arthur County, Nebraska, things are looking up

At the time we profiled Arthur County, Nebraska, in the census year of 1990, it was home to only 462 people. It could boast one town, also called Arthur (pop. 115), and three one-room rural schools (plus two in town). But no railroad, no Interstate highway, no rivers or streams, no traffic signals, no lawyer or psychiatrist, no fax machine, drugstore, motel, country club or hamburger franchise. Also no jail.

The people-mostly small cattle ranchers-were at once old-fashioned neighborly and frontier tough, with high-achieving kids (most graduates of the county's tiny schools go on to college). But with the population at an all-time low, and the average age at an all-time high, Arthur County's existence seemed shaky. In the past 50 years or so, the stampede to the cities has sadly turned thousands of other prairie communities into ghost towns.

Happily, in the intervening years nobody has foreclosed on a ranch in Arthur County. Together with a fax machine and cable TV hookups, a new motel has come to town and is pretty much filled in spring and summer by motorists passing through and road workers improving a local highway. A few younger couples, figuring that the area is a peaceful place to raise children, have moved in. Thelma Mercier, who grew up in Arthur but moved away like many other young people, has come home, restored a vacant house and opened an antique store to draw tourists. Population in town is up (to 128) and so is the number of high school students (from 20 to 35). The six-man football team went 8 and 0 last fall and went on to win the state championship in its division.

1991 -- 'Flocks of the Valley' win big

The fearsome wool-bearer looks a bit like a Klingon nightmare, but hundreds of its fellow Churro sheep ended up in a very real range war. The animals were among those owned by members of Ganados del Valle, a New Mexico cooperative of Hispanic sheep raisers and artisans who combine folk skills with modern marketing to make a living off the land. Desperate for high-pasture grazing, Ganados drove its flocks into a state wildlife area. After a considerable ruckus, the sheep were removed. Finding summer pasture is still a problem, but thanks to a generous gift and a recent court ruling, it looks like Ganados will be getting the help it needs to start acquiring land of its own.

1992 -- Mountain lions, and people, at risk

As mountain lion attacks increased in the western United States and Canada, John Seidensticker, a celebrated expert on big cats and curator of mammals at the National Zoo, set out to discover where and why-and what could be done about them. Since 1992 four people have been killed, nine others injured. Not surprisingly, some attacks occurred in wilderness haunts, many taking place on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Mountain-lion-related incidents have increased in California, too, sometimes in suburban areas that have unwittingly been made into perfect refuges for the predators: regional parks have plenty of deer, and hunting the cats in the state is illegal. Lately wildlife officials, anxious to educate the public, have been putting up warning signs in parks, closing or rerouting trails in danger areas, and telling people how to behave in cougar country. (If confronted, don't bend down, don't look away. Make noise. Above all, don't run.) One California victim last year, a mother of two, was attacked and killed by a lioness while jogging. Afterward, the animal was shot, and money was donated separately for the jogger's two children and for the lioness' cub. The fund for the children has reached six figures; the cub, Willow, now resides at the Folsom Zoo. People who see him will be reminded that cougars, though cute, are dangerous.

1993 -- Last year's Haiti landing had historic precedent, most of it unencouraging

Early in 1993, with more and more Haitians setting off for Florida in rickety craft, and Americans beginning to talk of "restoring" democracy in Haiti, we published an article on Haitian-American history. It described an earlier American effort in Haiti, from 1915 to 1934, when the U.S. Marines occupied and all but ran the country. In the 72-year period before that invasion, Haiti had had coups without number. Of 22 presidents, only one served a complete term. Only four died natural deaths.

The Marines had roads built, and some hospitals and schools as well. They trained a national police force which, it was hoped, would serve the duly elected government and bring a measure of stability. After the Marines left, Haiti fell back into complete disarray until-20-odd years later-the notorious dictator Papa Doc Duvalier used his own police to impose a different kind of stability.

In the past year, U.S. troops once again landed in Haiti (this time in the name of the United Nations), drove out Gen. Raoul Cedras, disarmed the police and army, and reinstalled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They also became favorites with Haitian children. Since then, many of our troops have come home. But 6,000 U.N. troops, including about 2,500 Americans, are to stay on in Haiti. One of their jobs: to create a combined army and police force loyal only to the duly elected government.

1994 -- Star Trek: Voyager: Will science follow where TV boldly leads?

Last year an astrophysicist mused about all the sci-fi gizmos that have become hardware in the real world since we first saw them on board the original Starship Enterprise. Things like cellular phones and laptop computers. Now the Enterprise and its crew have been replaced by a new TV series, Star Trek: Voyager, with a gregarious cadre of senior officers led by Captain Kathryn Janeway. There's still a lot of future "science" on display. Circuitry aboard, for example, consists of "gel packs" containing bio-neural cells that operate far faster than traditional computers; the doctor is not flesh and blood but a holographic image.

There's plenty of time to pick up on the new stuff. Janeway and her gang may spend years (real TV time) on this intergalactic journey.

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