Saturday, November 25, 2006

raze the palm

well, twin-looking blogs have got to share content at some point, eh? many thanks to my lovely ny-based scatteredpaper, who noticed this article on LA's decision to start weeding out palm trees.

i'm of slightly mixed mind about this, mainly b/c i am one who believes strongly in iconic images and i do love how those trees look on our skylines. still, i have to agree - if the concern is an environmental one (the palms aren't pulling their weight to clean our air - at least not as much as other trees could), then it's more important to put in more efficient trees. gotta look out for our kids, kids.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

veronica's gotta grow - article/blog post

my favorite tv show:


Going Away To College: Or, Why We Should All Cut Riley Finn Some Slack
by Dan Carlson

In case it's escaped the notice of even the dullest reader out there, I've got a pretty special place in the black rock I call my heart for "Veronica Mars." Now cruising gamely along in its third season, despite low ratings and a network dumb enough to pair it with "Gilmore Girls" (a show about absolutely, positively nothing at all), "Veronica Mars" is still one of the best shows on TV. But after two full years of exploring high school life, Veronica up and graduated, and is now attending Hearst College. Her matriculation mirrors not just the show's transfer from the defunct UPN to the new CW, but also the fact that the show itself is at a crossroads, namely, the elimination of its premise — high-school private eye — and a gradual change in its mission statement.

This is bound to be a polarizing time for the show's hardcore fans, and it's reminiscent of the similar struggle faced by what some have called the show's ancestor, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Granted, I think that comparing any two shows beyond a certain point is unwise, and most people are just linking "Buffy" and "Veronica Mars" out of a well-meaning laziness: Both shows were centered around a strong, flawed, complex female character in high school; both shows placed a premium on witty dialogue and interpersonal relationships; both shows are on low-rated pseudo-networks; etc. But the shows do have their similarites [sic], primarily their ability to explore the hell of growing up through the archetypal lens of high school, the one experience that unites us all in common misery. After its third season, "Buffy" went through the same growing pains now working their way through "Veronica Mars," as Buffy went off to college and the show struggled to find its larger purpose even as its core dynamic was forever altered. More than just having key characters removed and assigned to a spin-off, the "Buffy" universe had to deal with its very own existential crisis: What happens when the teenage superhero starts to grow up?

The show dealt with the inevitable problems the only way it knew how: By pushing through them. The first episode of the fourth season features another pack of vampires led by one of the lamest ringleaders the show ever came up with, but the villain of the week did one thing right: She broke Buffy's umbrella, a symbol of the good work she'd done in high school. It was a crushing, visceral way for the show to proclaim that the times were changing in a big way.

The fourth season, though certainly not a favorite of some fans, nevertheless turned out some great episodes — the experimental "Hush," the crossover "Pangs," the enjoyable one-off "Superstar," the excellent "Fear, Itself" — and, much more importantly, broadened its worldview. College is a world of gray tones next to the starkly defined areas of high school, and Buffy interacted with a greater variety of people with more darkly human (as opposed to demonic) traits, including Parker, who slept with Buffy and never called her again. He wasn't supernaturally evil, just a tool. It was in important step for the show, and one that paved the way for more complex relationships in the characters' collective futures. The fourth season was radically different from the first three because it had to be.

That's the problem, and possible solution, facing "Veronica Mars." The show's first two seasons delved into the dark sides of class warfare between the haves and have-nots of the small town of Neptune, smartly recognizing that cash is the biggest dividing line between the lunch tables in the cafeteria. But university life is rarely that stratified, and the only people who cling to such dated notions of how to define themselves are the jerks who seem to think college is basically Grade 13. "Veronica Mars" is going to have to figure out how to let go of the rich-poor struggle that so often defines the stories.

Veronica used to be a high-school snoop, and but she's going to have to transform into a bigger, more nuanced character to get the show over the tough bumps coming out of two solid years of stories. The show should set about trying to define Veronica in grander terms, like what kind of person does she want to be, in order to work. The central group of characters has been altered — Duncan's gone, Beaver's dead — and the remaining ones aren't what they used to be, none more than Weevil, who's gone from ruthless gang leader to the equivalent of wacky sitcom neighbor in only a few months (seriously, making Weevil the janitor at Hearst was a low blow, especially after offering up the tantaloizing [sic] possibility that he might work with Keith). But "Veronica Mars" can and will succeed if it pushes the characters to grow, and if it becomes comfortable with somewhat redefining itself. You don't go back; you go on to the next place, whatever that is.


find the article here, at slowly going bald.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

invisibility cloaks - article

science is so awesome. and the japanese are so awesome, too. check out this article on the science behind invisibility cloaks and some potential real-world applications of this technology. i've heard of this before but it's neat to read up on exactly how far we've gotten with it, and where we could be using it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

television and learning - article

yet another great article that discusses the nexus of psychology and pop culture. i love stuff like this b/c it's rather intuitive - not necessarily obvious - but awesome to have research back it up.


Prime time to learn
In law dramas, medical shows and comedies, science is invading TV story lines. Good thing they try to get it right.
By Susan Brink
Times Staff Writer

November 13, 2006

AMERICANS more than just believe the health information they get from fictional television shows. Spurred by what they see on shows like "ER" or "The Bold and the Beautiful," surveys suggest, they take action. They go to the doctor. They tell a friend to have that cough checked. They ask a lover to use a condom.

Fans develop trusting relationships with the characters who come into their homes each week, and industry insiders can't betray that trust. "I'm aware of the number of people who are paying attention to the facts around the fiction," says Jan Nash, executive producer of "Without a Trace." Thanks in part to the Internet, where health sites consistently rank at the top of those most visited, more and more viewers know when something doesn't ring true.

They're getting a lot of chances to make such calls. Science is invading scripts. Disease is increasingly a backdrop to plots. The woes of the nation's healthcare system are punch lines. Heroic characters have mental diseases or incurable neurological disorders.

And behind the scenes, a body of communications research and an eager network of health and policy advocates are working with writers and producers to get the facts right. The shows milking medicine for back stories or main plot lines aren't limited to the medical genre such as "ER," "Grey's Anatomy" or "Scrubs." Sick, damaged or dying characters are showing up in shows about crime, politics, the legal profession, or wacky families and friends.

But seeing how profoundly true prime-time television can be was a shock, nonetheless, for Robert T. Brennan, a statistician at the Harvard School of Medicine and his daughter, Emma Brennan-Wydra, 13. On Jan. 3, 2006, they thought the night was winding down like hundreds of others, just another evening of TV viewing in their Somerville, Mass., home. It was 10 p.m., and Emma, a devotee of "Law & Order," was curled up watching the episode "Infected" with her father. "No popcorn. Nothing special, just uneventful viewing," says Brennan.

Little did they know, within their pajama-clad coziness on the other side of the country, that they were about to get an insider's glimpse into one of the latest trends in Hollywood.

Brennan and his daughter sat, mesmerized as the crime drama got closer and closer to home. It was about a grammar school-aged boy who, after seeing his mother shot to death, killed her murderer and went on trial as an adult.

"Annie Potts is addressing the jury," Brennan says, still amazed that his study, published in the May 27, 2005, journal Science, was quoted, statistic by statistic, by actress Potts, who played the boy's defense attorney, Sophie Devere. "She talked about kids being two to three times more likely to commit gun violence after they've been exposed to gun violence." As the character gave closing arguments, she referred to Science, gave the number of study participants and said the research took place in Chicago. There was no doubt. She was talking about Brennan's study.

"Emma and I looked at each other in total disbelief. Literally, I was flushed and my hair was standing up on my neck. The exact details of the study were on television," says Brennan. "And the accuracy of it was really amazing. I hate to say this, but it was more accurate than anything I've ever had covered in a newspaper."

His research ended up on the airwaves after Dr. Neal Baer, pediatrician and executive producer of "Law & Order: SVU," read the study on childhood violence by Brennan and coauthors Jeffrey Bingenheimer and Felton Earls. With all due respect, the paper was "wonky policy stuff, research that almost nobody reads," says Baer. But for a doctor who is also a television writer, it triggered an idea for a plot. "Just as you're exposed to flu when someone sneezes on you, this boy was exposed to violence. He was infected, and he committed a violent act," Baer says of his TV character.

What Baer did with a dry study illustrates the challenge to television writers: Take timely, important topics and make them entertaining. Accuracy and responsibility matter, industry insiders say, but their job is to attract and hold television viewers, not lecture or teach.

"Ultimately, our responsibility is to the drama of the show," says Nash. If writers start getting preachy, she says, viewers will hit the button on the remote.

At a time when reliance on traditional news media is slipping, entertainment communication becomes an important health issue. Prime-time television is where Americans gather, and it's where they learn. It makes sense to put the information where people are likely to get it.

The emphasis on the human and emotional drama behind the science, it turns out, is exactly what helps messages stick with viewers, according to communications research. Movies have a powerful effect too, but television fans come to know the characters they watch each week. Done well, the messages play out in the lives of familiar characters, and viewers learn something.

Premiering a theory

One of the first proofs that popular shows can educate large numbers of people came in 1977, in Mexico. Broadcast pioneer Miguel Sabido decided to make use of a classic learning theory, called social cognitive learning, in a soap opera. The theory, developed by Stanford social scientist Albert Bandura in 1961, holds that one way people learn is from watching others, particularly if they identify with the people and observe long enough to see a successful outcome. Sabido's telenovela was called "Acompañame," or "Accompany Me." The characters, including a poor but strong young woman who had two children and didn't want any more, grappled with family planning.

In its first year, it was apparent that the people who listened also learned — and acted. The Mexican government's National Population Council reported that monthly phone calls requesting family planning information increased from next to none to 500. Contraceptive sales increased 23% the first year the show aired, compared with an increase of 7% the previous year.

Following Mexico's success, the entertainment-education movement spread to India, China and Africa, where people in even the most remote villages tune their portable radios to soap operas. Characters routinely deal with the reality of AIDS. "You put up a billboard saying 'AIDS Kills, Use a Condom,' and it doesn't tell a woman how to approach her husband to talk about condoms," says Sonny Fox, whose Studio City consulting company works internationally to advise media and public health advocates. "In a radio drama, you put that right into the story. The listener has to be able to say, 'If she can do it, I can do it.' "

At a recent workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, a survey presented Nov. 6 by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the effect of one such program. It found that reported condom use during the last sexual encounter increased from 34% among people who did not tune into a soap opera called "Tsha Tsha" to 60% among those who watched 10 or more of the programs.

Third World successes got the attention of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If people in poor countries learn from radio and television entertainment shows, maybe Americans would too.

The CDC analyzed U.S. health survey data in 1999. Researchers concluded that of the 38 million Americans who regularly watch daytime soap operas, almost half said they learned something about diseases and how to prevent them. Even better, about a third of viewers said they took some action based on what they saw on a soap opera, including 7% who visited a doctor and 6% who did something to prevent a health problem.

A year later, the CDC looked at prime-time television. It found that of Americans who tuned in twice a week or more, 52% said they trusted the health information they see to be accurate, and 26% said that prime-time TV was among their top three sources for health information.

Inspiring ideas, facts

Inspired by such research, health advocates are figuring out how to work with entertainment television, without raising the hackles of creative types. The Kaiser Family Foundation and CBS and Viacom, for example, hold annual briefings in which writers and producers hear the real-life stories of people living with HIV.

Writers listen, awaiting the muse. And advocates cross their fingers, hoping that truth morphs into broadcast fiction.

Just such a briefing sparked the imagination of Nash and Greg Walker, executive producers of "Without a Trace." "We heard these testimonials, and we were moved by the accounts," says Walker. Adds Nash, "We would drive home and think, 'We have to figure out a way to do this.' " In the 2005 HIV-AIDS briefing, they heard the true story of Jennifer Jako, a pregnant HIV-positive woman who felt the judgment of people who thought she shouldn't have risked passing the virus to her child.

Her story inspired an April 13, 2006, episode called "Expectations," about a pregnant HIV-positive woman who resents the judgmental comments of a nurse, who tells her she should never have gotten pregnant. The character disappears shortly before her baby is due. The suspense builds as the missing woman calls from her cellphone to say she is in labor. She needs a cesarean section, and she needs it now.

To get the AIDS facts straight, Nash and Walker worked with Tina Hoff, director of the Media Entertainment Program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "We're not the creative visionaries," Hoff says. "But once a story line is developed, we can help ensure that it's accurate."

In reality, the baby of an HIV-infected mother has a less than 2% chance of being born with the disease provided the mother has taken appropriate medications during pregnancy and the delivery is cesarean. If the audience didn't know that before they saw the show, they did after.

In the show, the woman was found in time to deliver a healthy baby by cesarean section. In real life, Jako gave birth — C-section of course — to a healthy daughter in July.

The influence of a popular television show can make physicians' everyday advice pale, says Dr. Mark Morocco, an emergency room physician who was a technical advisor to "ER." "I might see 20 to 30 people a day," he says on his morning shift at the real emergency department of Brotman Medical Center in Culver City. "A show like 'ER' at one time was reaching 30 million people a week. You just can't beat that for power."

The magnitude of the impact of that one show was measured in classic studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the CDC. They surveyed "ER" viewers before and after specific episodes. One episode included a vignette on date rape. The victim was advised that she could take a morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy. Before it aired, the study found that only 10% of viewers were aware that high-dose birth control pills were an option to prevent pregnancy. In the week after the episode aired, 33% of viewers were aware of the morning-after option. Another episode dealt with HPV as a cause of cervical cancer, and before the show ran, 24% of "ER" viewers knew about HPV. A week after the show aired, 47% said they had heard of HPV.

"That research reinforced that you just can't ignore the role of entertainment media in people's lives," says Hoff.

Such studies have encouraged shows to use the expertise of real doctors to go deeper than helping actors correctly pronounce medical words, or showing them how to attach electrocardiographic leads. Morocco helped the show's writers figure out how to write Anthony Edwards, who played Dr. Mark Greene on "ER," out of the script after Edwards announced he'd be leaving the show. "What could we give him that would be accurate, that could kill him in 15 months?" says Morocco. The answer: glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor whose sufferers have a life expectancy of about 18 months.

Viewers watched, week after week, the dramatic arc of Dr. Greene's diagnosis, treatment success, relapse and decline. "We were able to show what people with a bad brain tumor really go through," Morocco says. "How it affects your family, the real roller coaster ride you're on when you get this kind of diagnosis." Until, finally, the fictional Dr. Greene died, in the May 9, 2002, episode.

Premiering this week may be one of the most intense efforts to get the science right. A new series, "3 Lbs.," named for the weight of the average human brain, is about two neurosurgeons. The pilot shows symptoms, brain scans and neurosurgery wrapped around the lives of two patients shocked that their brains have gone haywire. "It's all research-based," says executive producer Peter Ocko. "There's not a neurological condition we deal with that's not documented in research. We consult with two neurosurgeons. We gather case histories. There's a doctor and a nurse on the set for every medical moment. And we do just as much research on the patient's perspective." From there, poetic license comes in.

Even nonmedical shows are hiring researchers whose job it is to ferret out what's new and true in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, cancer, diabetes or even policy issues such as the growing number of uninsured Americans or the vast disparity between donated organs and the need for organ transplants. All those topics have made their way into recent prime-time shows.

Hollywood insiders

The effort to educate while entertaining goes beyond doctors and staff researchers working within television.

The granddaddy of the industry-science collaboration is probably the Entertainment Industries Council, started in 1983, just about the time John Belushi died of a drug overdose and Richard Pryor set himself ablaze freebasing cocaine. Created to promote health and social issues via entertainment, the council first tackled drug abuse. It quickly expanded. "We're the folks who got actors to put their seat belts on for driving scenes," says Larry Deutchman, executive vice president of marketing and industry relations for the council.

Now there is a growing industry in Hollywood made up of advocates who are neither entertainers nor insiders, but who want their disease or issue to get dramatic play before a mass audience. Similar to product placement, it's a kind of ideas placement. A group called the Entertainment Professionals Resource Assn. pulls dozens of these groups together, including the American Cancer Society, Down Syndrome in Arts and Media, the American Heart Assn. and the Mental Health Media Partnership.

"We're trying to shift the norm," says Deborah Glik, director of the UCLA Health and Media Research Group, who is affiliated with the entertainment group. "When you're going to portray a health issue anyway, and you're working with a platform that reaches millions of people, you should do it accurately."

Members make themselves available with scientific facts and a bank of real citizens willing to tell their stories. They carefully push their causes, knowing they walk a delicate line between sparking creativity and triggering annoyance.

David Sampson, director of media relations at the American Cancer Society, has learned that it's better if his organization stays away from pitching specific plots. Policy wonks, it turns out, aren't so good at recognizing the germ of a compelling story line. "Writers come to us," he says, "and almost invariably, they'll pick up on some bit of information that we had no intention of relaying."

But the society doesn't hesitate to advise, when asked. When Alexis on the soap opera "General Hospital" was diagnosed with lung cancer despite being a nonsmoker, Sampson heard that writers wanted to attribute her disease to asbestos exposure. "About 4,000 non-smokers a year come down with lung cancer," he says. "But short of working in a mine, you only get lung cancer from asbestos exposure if you're also a smoker." Exposure to second-hand smoke, the society suggested, was a far better explanation.

The idea is to present entertainment insiders with powerful real stories, inundate them with facts, and then sit back and hope the creative juices take over. "I believe the writer is king or queen," says Lisa Allen, director of the Media Project, which provides entertainment industry professionals with information on reproductive issues. "We don't preach, we don't proselytize."

But sometimes, when the people who understand the power of the medium watch TV, they do a slow burn. Glik recalls one of those moments. She was watching a prime-time drama in which a character had hepatitis. "I got so upset," she says. "They should have talked about immunizations. It was a missed opportunity."

Missed opportunities and programs that are just plain wrong persist. Soap opera characters can still come out of comas as though they simply took a long nap. Prime-time shows can still depict death as though it's as quick and painless as fainting.

And while television may have become more daring in portraying how disease affects real people, network television pulls its punches on some controversial topics. Abortion, for example, has become more taboo over the years. In 1972, Maude, played by Bea Arthur, had an abortion, a decision that unfolded over two episodes on the sitcom "Maude," watched by 65 million viewers. Thirty years later, Claire Fisher, played by actress Lauren Ambrose on the HBO drama "Six Feet Under," whose viewership peaked at 5 million, had an abortion. In between the two shows, almost all unplanned television pregnancies ended either in miscarriage, adoption or a decision to keep the baby.

No issue unaired

But because truth can be stranger, and more entertaining, than fiction, increasingly even the most tedious of topics — the economics of the healthcare delivery system, for example — are finding their way onto the airwaves. What "Friends" fan will ever forget the time that Joey, an aspiring actor, faced losing his health coverage, an all too real dilemma for 46 million Americans? In the Oct. 14, 1999, episode, Joey's coverage through the Screen Actors Guild was going to lapse unless he chalked up more work hours. Then he got a hernia, the pain of which required treatment but also interfered with his ability to work the hours he needed to remain insured.

Joey does solve his problem, recalls Kate Langrall Folb of Nightingale Entertainment, who works to get stories on health policy, including the uninsured, onto television shows. "He gets a gig portraying a dying guy in pain," she says. He earned his hours, kept his insurance and got his hernia treated.

It was, after all, television. Everything must be tidied up within 30 to 60 minutes.
from the la times.

Friday, November 03, 2006

if google were a person . . .

check this site out - - it's a search engine that has actual people to assist you via live chat if you like.

i typed in: black and white angelina jolie yelling

Status: Looking for a guide ...
Status: Connected to guide: MelissaJ
MelissaJ: Hi there. I will be helping with your search.
You: hi melissa
MelissaJ: Hi, how are you?
You: i'm looking for a specific angie photo
You: i'm good, thanks, and you!
MelissaJ: Okay, I was wondering what the search meant!
MelissaJ: Can you describe it to me?
You: lol yes, it's a b&w photo
You: from just her shoulders up
You: her hands are raised and she's grabbing her hair
You: so that it fans out above her head
You: and she looks like she's yelling
MelissaJ: Okay, do you know approximately how old it is? Recent or a few years ago
You: a few yrs ago
You: i believe from a magazine publication
MelissaJ: Okay, let me try to find it for you
You: thank you.
MelissaJ: I found one that may be it
MelissaJ: Click on the link to the right, is that it?
You: oooh almost!
MelissaJ: Ok, it's close though? Maybe from the same photo shoot?
You: i think it's from the same shoot

MelissaJ: Okay, let me keep searching for you
You: the one i recall was with her mouth open i think
MelissaJ: Okay
You: this is great, though - do you have this as anything bigger than a thumbnail?
MelissaJ: Not yet, let me check
You: oh, nm, i just erased "thumb" and got it
MelissaJ: Still searching...
You: k!
You: if it helps, i recall it being slightly closer cropped to her head
MelissaJ: Okay, thanks!
You: you know, the more i look at it, perhaps this is it after all
MelissaJ: You think?
MelissaJ: Ill keep looking anyway, give me a few more minutes
You: yeah, i keep closing it and coming back to it, it seems more familiar
You: okay!
You: thank you
MelissaJ: I'm having trouble finding anything else.
You: okay
You: this is great, thank you
MelissaJ: I looked through all of the thumbnails of photos of her on google, yahoo and dogpile
You: this is probably it
MelissaJ: just so you know what's already been looked for...
You: lol at least it was probably pretty fun doing that
MelissaJ: and i couldn't find any other from that shoot either
You: okay, this must be it then
You: thank you
MelissaJ: well, i'm a female so she really doesn't do anything for me,
MelissaJ: haha
You: lol i'm a girl, too, but she is so purdy
MelissaJ: haha okay
You: i have a question about chacha
MelissaJ: sure
You: are you guys for searching images only?
You: or websites/content as well?
MelissaJ: no not at all
MelissaJ: anything
MelissaJ: anything you can think of
You: ic
You: very good, thank you
MelissaJ: yep, have a good night!
MelissaJ: Please RATE ME. Thanks for using ChaCha.
Status: Session ended.


this is another post brought kindly to you by kirk, who had a slightly more hilarious, slightly less angie-obsessed experience with his searchers (read it here).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

jesus fucking christ... - article

i...i can't even imagine.

November 2, 2006
Tending a Fallen Marine, With Skill, Prayer and Fury

KARMA, Iraq, Oct. 30 — Petty Officer Third Class Dustin E. Kirby clutched the injured marine’s empty helmet. His hands were coated in blood. Sweat ran down his face, which he was trying to keep straight but kept twisting into a snarl.

He held up the helmet and flipped it, exposing the inside. It was lined with blood and splinters of bone.

“The round hit him,” he said, pausing to point at a tiny hole that aligned roughly with a man’s temple. “Right here.”

Petty Officer Kirby, 22, is a Navy corpsman, the trauma medic assigned to Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. Everyone calls him Doc. He had just finished treating a marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper.

“It was 7.62 millimeter,” he continued. “Armor piercing.”

He reached into his pocket and retrieved the bullet, which he had found. “The impact with the Kevlar stopped most of it,” he said. “But it tore through, hit his head, went through and came out.”

He put the bullet in his breast pocket, to give to an intelligence team later. Sweat kept rolling off his face, mixed with tears. His voice was almost cracking, but he managed to control it and keep it deep. “When I got there, there wasn’t much I could do,” he said.

Then he nodded. He seemed to be talking to himself. “I kept him breathing,” he said.

He looked at Lance Cpl. Matias Tafoya, his driver, and raised his voice. It was almost a shout. “When I told you that I do not let people die on me, I meant it,” he said. “I meant it.”

He scanned the Iraqi houses, perhaps 150 yards away, on the other side of a fetid green canal. Marines were all around, pressed to the ground, peering from behind machine-gun turrets or bracing against their armored vehicles, aiming rifles at where they thought the sniper was.

The sniper had made a single shot just as the marines were leaving a rural settlement on the western edge of Karma, a city near Falluja in Anbar Province.

The marines had been searching several houses on this side of the canal, where they found five Kalashnikov assault rifles and bomb components, and were getting back into their vehicles when everyone heard the shot. It was a single loud crack.

No one was precisely sure where it had come from. Everyone knew precisely where it hit. It struck a marine who was peering out of the first vehicle’s gun turret. He collapsed.

Petty Officer Kirby rushed to him and found him breathing. He bandaged the marine’s head as the vehicle lurched away. Soon he helped load the wounded marine into a helicopter, which touched down beside the convoy within 12 minutes of the shot.

Once the helicopter lifted away, he ran back to his vehicle, ready to treat anyone else. He was thinking about the marine he had already treated.

“If I had gone with him,” he said, and glanced to where the helicopter had flown away, over the line of date palms at the end of a field. His voice softened. “But I’m not with him,” he said.

He turned, faced a reporter and spoke loudly again. “In situations and times like this, I am bound to start yelling and shouting furiously,” he said. “Don’t think I am losing my mind.”

He held his bloody hands before his face, to examine them. They were shaking. He made fists so tight his veins bulged. His forearms started to bounce.

“His name was Lance Cpl. Colin Smith,” he said. “He said a prayer today right before we came out, too.”

“Every time before we go out, we say a prayer,” he said. “It is a prayer for serenity. It says a lot about things that do pertain to us in this kind of environment.”

The only sounds were Doc’s voice and the vehicle’s engine thrumming.

He recited the prayer. There was a few moments of silence. “It’s a platoon kind of thing, if you know what I mean,” he said.

He listened to his radio headset and looked at Lance Corporal Tafoya, relaying word of the marines’ movements. “Right now the grunts are performing a hard hit on a house,” he said. He turned back to the subject of Lance Corporal Smith, 19.

“The best news I can throw at anybody right now, and that I am throwing to myself as often as I can, is that his eyes were O.K.,” he said. “They were both responsive. And he was breathing. And he had a pulse.”

He listened to his radio. “Two houses they’ve hit so far have both been swept and cleared.”

He looked at the reporter beside him. “Do you pray?” he asked. “Do that. I’d appreciate it.”

After a few minutes he started talking again. “You see, having a good platoon, one that you know real well, it’s both a gift and a curse. And Smith? Smith has been with me since I was...”

He stopped. “He was my roommate before we left,” he said.

He refilled his lungs and raised his voice. “His dad was his best friend,” he said. “He’s got the cutest little blond girlfriend, and she freaks out every time we call because she’s so happy to hear from him.”

He sat quietly again. A few minutes passed. “The first casualty we had here — his name was James Hirlston — he was his good friend.”

“Hirlston got shot in the head, too,” he said.

He said something about Iraqi snipers that could not be printed here.

Then he was back to the subject of Lance Corporal Smith.

“I really thank God that he was breathing when I got to him, because it means that I can do something with him,” he said. “It helps. People ask you, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ It helps, because if he’s breathing, you’re doing something.”

There had been many Iraqi civilians outside a few minutes before the sniper made his shot. Most of them had disappeared. Now an Iraqi woman walked calmly between the sniper and the marines, as if nothing had happened.

She passed down the street.

Petty Officer Kirby began to list the schools he had attended to be ready for this moment. Some he had paid for himself, he said, to be extra-prepared.

In one course, an advanced trauma treatment program he had taken before deploying, he said, the instructors gave each corpsman an anesthetized pig.

“The idea is to work with live tissue,” he said. “You get a pig and you keep it alive. And every time I did something to help him, they would wound him again. So you see what shock does, and what happens when more wounds are received by a wounded creature.”

“My pig?” he said. “They shot him twice in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, and then six times with an AK-47 and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. And then he was set on fire.”

“I kept him alive for 15 hours,” he said. “That was my pig.”

“That was my pig,” he said.

He paused. “Smith is my friend.”

He looked at his bloody hands. “You got some water?” he said. “I want some water. I just want to wash my wedding band.”

He listened to the tactical radio. The platoon was sweeping houses but could not find the sniper.

The company started to move. It stopped at another house. The marines were questioning five Iraqi men. Doc watched from the road, waiting for the next call.

“I would like to say that I am a good man,” he said. “But seeing this now, what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I mean?”

The marines had not fired a shot.

They took one of the men into custody, mounted their vehicles and drove back to Outpost Omar, their company base, passing knots of Iraqi civilians on the way. The civilians looked at them coldly.

Inside the wire, First Lt. Scott R. Burlison, the company commander, gathered the group and told them that Lance Corporal Smith was alive and in surgery. He was critical, but stable. They hoped to fly him to Germany.

Doc had scrubbed himself clean. A big marine stepped forward with a small Bible, and the platoon huddled. He began with Psalm 91, verses 5 and 11.

“Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day,” said the big marine, Lance Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Then he asked for the Lord to look after Lance Corporal Smith and whatever was ahead, and to take care of everyone who was still in the platoon.

“Help us Lord,” he said. “We need your help. It’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”

Doc stood in the corner, his arm looped over a marine. “Amen,” he said. There were some hugs, and then the marines and their Doc went back to their bunks and their guns.

original article here, and here is a slideshow and oral report by the author of the article.