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An unfortunate development

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The world’s most famous war photojournalist, Robert Capa, swam ashore with American troops as Life magazine’s official photographer of D-Day.

From the midst of the battle itself, Capa took 106 shots of one of the most famous and important days in history. At the earliest opportunity, the four precious rolls of film were whisked back to London and sent to be developed.

To this day nobody knows what those pictures looked like, because a fifteen-year-old lab assistant set a dryer too high and melted the negatives. Only eleven blurred images were saved from the final roll.

There’s a unique flavor of heartbreak that only comes from your work being destroyed for no good reason. Now, I know it doesn’t carry the same historical magnitude, but last night I think I felt at least a hint of what Capa felt when I saved over today’s article.

While I rewrite it, enjoy an ad-hoc time-constrained installment of The Revolver.


One of the more interesting Twitter feeds out there: An Oxford history student is tweeting moment-to-moment updates on the unfolding of World War II, as if it’s happening right now. It’s so compelling because we tend to think of the war with full knowledge of how it turned out, yet the people living it had to watch it unfold day by day with no idea what was happening to the world.


An interview with me at WriterViews.com, a site about writers learning from writers. The interview is about 40 minutes and is mostly geared towards bloggers. During it I drank a beer stein full of coffee, and it shows.


A video of North Korean child guitar virtuosos that I find absolutely terrifying and perverse. Yet I can’t look away.


The great journalist Christopher Hitchens, who died Thursday, giving a powerful and timely lecture on freedom of speech, and the insane laws that threaten it. The second and third parts are easy to find in the sidebar. It’s about 20 minutes all together.


If you want something even easier than reading tweets or watching videos, take a look at my winter photos taken in Winnipeg’s exchange district.

 Photo by Robert Capa

sui solitaire December 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

Hello David! I mourn the loss of your post. At the same time, though, it’s funny how life is. I feel like every time that happens to me, it’s just teaching me a lesson in letting go– and the experience of letting go actually makes for a more interesting piece in the end.

A few years ago I dropped my hard drive on a tile floor and lost all my files– years of writing, and more importantly to me, over tens of thousands of photos I’d taken over the years. This hand was dealt to me while I was experiencing a particularly lonely summer with all my closest friends out of the country, among other things. It was like the “final straw”… but in the end, it forced me to learn to let go, accept things, and move on.

(P.S. I like your new photo on the sidebar! Suave.)

David December 19, 2011 at 6:55 am

Oh that’s so horrible. I should back up my photos.

I saved over an article before, and I was so mad, but when I rewrote it from memory it became a much better article. So it wasn’t as bad this time.

Brenda December 19, 2011 at 3:50 am

Enjoyed watching the interview with Michael. Two and a half years I’ve known you and finally got to see a video of you. Keeping an eye on you has come to be one of the things I do. Enjoyed the little Korean children too.

David December 19, 2011 at 6:59 am

Thanks Brenda. Still don’t know how I feel about the Korean children. They’re so spot on it disturbs me somehow.

drgsmrgc December 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

I am sorry for your article. I don’t know how you did it but I often make little mistakes and lose things and then I have to start all over.
Thank you for Mr Hitchens’ speech. There are many great people out there worth listening to but they’re not easy to find. I aspire to become a writer and such people are nothing less than a great inspiration for anyone.

David December 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hitch was so great with the language. Funny too.

Alex December 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

That’s horrid, to lose you’re work like that because of human mistake. I could not imagine loosing all my stories. It’s like when you’re playing a hard level in a game and loose at the very end all that work is gone…

I really like the WW2 twitter updates so much history in such a modern media . I took the time to scroll all the way down to the beginning, and I found this:

“52 divisions of German troops are crossing the Polish border. 1.5 million soldiers, 6 armoured divisions. Poles have 23 infantry divisions.”

Wow. The moment when it all began-ish. Thanks for the post! :)

David December 19, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Real Time WWII really is something special. What a difference it makes to look at history from a present-tense perspective. We’re always talking about it in a distant past tense, and its apparent relevance fades with that distance.

Michael Alexis December 19, 2011 at 10:22 am

Thanks for sharing the interview – and thanks to the Raptitude readers who watch it.

I can definitely relate to your pain. In the unstable days of Windows 98, a few too many homework assignments were lost to the aether. To this day I only draft in the most basic of text editors and obsessively hit ctrl+s. So, pain, but as you mention in another comment, Post 2.0 may be even better.


David December 19, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thanks Michael, the interview was totally fun. I also obsessively hit CTRL+S, but in this case I was too quick to do it. I clicked through the “Are you sure you want to overwrite this file?” box too habitually.

Lydia Sugarman December 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

I cannot begin to express how offended I am at your comparison of losing a blogpost to Capa’s experience. It is the height of arrogant narcissism.

Maria December 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

I will very calmly try to convey that maybe David felt a sense of loss for something that could never be recovered, not that his blog entry was as priceless as Capa’s photographic treasure, just a point of reference. I read what this guy writes pretty frequently and arrogance is kind of hyperbole when used to describe him or his writing.

James Peebles December 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Yes, at no point did he say anything about the equivalency of Capa’s experience and his own. A comparison implies similarity, it does nothing to imply the magnitude of such similarities.

David December 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Either that or detecting irony is not your strong suit. The internet is full of people looking to be offended at something. Glad I could accidentally help you do that today.

Silvia December 20, 2011 at 11:36 pm

aren’t you the one indulging in the arrogance you are projecting on David?
Should you bother to re-read the post, you’ll find the offending comparison just isn’t there.
You might want to remember that silence is golden the next time you feel the urge to be judgemental.

Maria December 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

Really enjoyed what some bloggers call a talkie. Nice to hear to hear your voice.

David December 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm


Nea | Self Improvement Saga December 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

After easing my way back into catching up with the bloggers I love to follow, I was looking forward to seeing what you had for today. Guess what? Just reading this was awesome too. It’s real life. Things happen. We lose photos, school assignments, work, ideas.

It’s happened to me and I know how much it sucks. In fact, I’m even having a flashback of a beautiful day when I went from smiling to silently contemplating the act of throwing my laptop into the ever so innocent wall. Not very ladylike at all! LOL. Basically, I’m saying that I feel your pain; but I also know that whatever you come up with next will be even better than what you lost.

David December 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Thanks Nea. The last time this happened, I think it helped to have a second crack at the article.

James Peebles December 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

As a chronic procrastinator the more frustrating mistakes I have made are the ones that result in me doing something I forced myself to do a second time. But if it is something I have done purely from person desire, well heartbreaking just about sums it up. I have not been in a situation where I have forever lost my work. The heartbreak that would result seems almost unfathomable.

j December 22, 2011 at 7:15 am

Seeing you on video and seeing your new picture on the site, I now realize that you really look like the actor Peter Krause (Nate Fisher in Six Feet Under) or at least you really make me think of him.

Jimmy December 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hi David,

Allow me an introduction. My name is Jimmy and I am from Life Architects. I found you at Steven Aitchison’s site where you were one of his Top 50 Personal Development Bloggers. Congrats!

Your lost article reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s lost manuscript. When life throws this at you, what is it asking of you? Like what life asking of Frankl, it was simply to write a better piece of work. That work became his manifesto “Man’s Search for Meaning”. If things makes no sense to you at the moment, perhaps father time will reveal the real intent of our lost.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Diana Grant December 27, 2011 at 7:39 am

Your photos are great! I can’t imagine how hard it is to take photos from war zone…

Stephy December 29, 2011 at 7:09 am

I am really lucky that I have found the post you have here for us then…Great job for the very nice post here!!

Kellie December 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Thanks for the inspiration you shared to most people reading this post…

Diana Grant December 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thanks to that journalist and for me, this post is really inspiring…Keep posting some more!!

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