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Today's word on journalism

September 18, 2008

Partisan politics:

"Say 'conservative' and they wag their tails. Say 'liberal' and they bare their fangs. More to the point, say either and all thinking ceases. . . . [P]eople hear this doublespeak and cheer. Why not? They have been taught that words mean what you need them to in a given moment. Turns out, all it requires is a limitless supply of gall and the inherent belief that people are dumber than a bag of hammers."

--Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer-winning columnist. The Miami Herald, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Jerry Vonderbrink)

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Vasa Museum re-creates era of giant wooden warships

By Jonas Tyden

July 30, 2008 | STOCKHOLM, Sweden --- The Vasa Museum was opened in 1990, and inside the museum is the Vasa ship. The museum is on the island Djurgården in Stockholm, and the maritime museum is one of the most visited in Scandinavia. The history of the Vasa Museum goes back to the 1620s. In that time, Sweden was in a war with Poland and the Vasa ship was buildt to strengthen the Swedish navy.

In 1625, the King Gustaf II Adolf ordered four ships to be built, and Vasa was supposed to be the biggest one of them. One thousand oak trees were cut to build the ship that is 69 meters long, 12 meters wide, and with a mainmast that is 52 meters tall. The ship has 64 cannons and it would have been a great asset for Sweden in the war.

On its first journey, ironically the Vasa ship sank only a few minutes after it had left Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. The cannons were still open after the salute and the ship started to take in water. Not many of the 145 members of the crew survived since they didn't know how to swim. An extra 300 soldiers were supposed to board the ship and the ship would have carried a total crew of 445 soldiers.

After the Vasa ship sank attempts were made to pick it out of the water, but all of them were unsuccessful. The Vasa ship lay on the bottom of Lake Mälaren for hundreds of years and it became a legend.

No one knew were it was located until Anders Franzén started looking for it in the 1954. He was looking for it everyday, and one day in 1956 he got a piece of oak wood from the water. Divers went down to look, and they found the ship laying at the bottom of lake Mälaren. The ship was finally taken up from lake Mälaren in 1961. That was 333 years after it had sank. The ship was in good condition, but many of the original sculptures had been destroyed.

The last time I visited the Vasa Museum was in 1993, and I was 9 years old. I still remember it, and I thought it was amazing. The museum is big, and the masts come out of the roof. You can see the museum from many different sights in Stockholm because of the masts, but it is not until you walk inside the musuem that you realize how big and beautiful the Vasa ship is.

Vasa is the only ship in the world from the 17th century that is almost intact. Many of the wood sculptures that were outside the ship have been recreated. The ship originally had about 500 sculptures, and many of them are shaped like Lions.

When you walk into the museum you get a feeling of what it must have been at that time. The wars that were fought were primitive, and Vasa would have been terrifying for any opponent at that time. The ship is extremely beautiful with quite a few of its "Lion head sculptures" intact. You can walk around the entire ship and it is possible get within a few meters of the ship.

The entry fee to visit the musuem is $15 for adults, $10 for students and free for people under 18. I definitely encourage anyone who visits Stockholm to go to the Vasa Musuem. It has only been open for 18 years, but the ship has great history and it is amazing to see a ship that well preserved from the 1600s.



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