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ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

Forum File

Saturday, February 2, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“German tanks rolled toward Stalingrad as if leading a holiday parade in Berlin. Luftwaffe planes had pounded Soviet defenses for weeks, scattering the enemy and clearing the way for the ground assault. Through binoculars, the Germans could see smoke rising from the burning city. Victory seemed almost in hand.

“Suddenly, shells exploded all around. Soviet antiaircraft crews had cranked down the barrels of their 37mm guns and opened fire. Their aim was a bit wild, but the barrage brought the Germans up short. Halting their advance, the tankers organized a counterattack. Stukas joined in, swooping down on the three dozen batteries, which had no infantry support. The fighting raged for hours until one by one, the Russian guns fell silent. Only later did the Germans learn that the men who had stood against them that day in August 1942 were not men at all.

“What Soviet writer Vasily Grossman described as 'the first page of the Stalingrad defense' had been authored chiefly by teenage girls, volunteers of the 1077th Antiaircraft Regiment, a unit assembled from the city's high schools. A bunch of women – kids, no less. Many had fought to the death, impressing the enemy. Said one Wehrmacht officer, “It is completely wrong to describe Russian women as 'soldiers in skirts.'”

“The girls of Stalingrad weren't the only women to inspire shock and awe in World War II.”

– From “Women Warriors” at historynet.com

A quiz

What word is derived from the Proto-Polynesian alofa, its meanings including “love,” “compassion” and “mercy”?

Wisdom of the ages

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” – Benjamin Franklin

Cudrrent wisdom

“The question now is simple. Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do.” – President Obama, outlining broad proposals for putting millions of illegal immigrants on a clear path to citizenship while cracking down on businesses that employ people illegally.

Quiz answer

Aloha

Snob words

antipathetic (an-ti-puh-THET-ik), adj. – opposed, averse or contrary; having or showing antipathy, as in: “The editorial writer found it hard not to be antipathetic to the City Council's entire dreary agenda.”

Today in history

On this date in 1940, Frank Sinatra made his singing debut with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra – in Indianapolis; so how come he always sang about New York and Chicago?

Now you know

A dog most likely interprets a smiling person as baring their teeth and could consider it an act of aggression.