Brainies du Jour: Courageous Child Driver, Golf Lesson, NBC’s London Blitz

> In a situation so emotionally wrenching that it’s hard to imagine, a 12-year-old New Jersey girl piloted a speeding pickup truck to safety after the driver, her grandfather, died at the wheel. (Here’s the AP story.) Miranda Bowman kept her cool when her 63-year-old grandfather’s head hit the passenger window, going immediately for the brake and trying to figure out a solution, even though her grandfather’s foot was still pressing down on the accelerator.

Turns out Miranda has been an observant child, learning the ways of automobiles by watching her parents drive, and also learning from things she saw on TV. The emotions of the complex challenge caught up with her afterwards, but in the crisis moment, she was able to manage herself better than many adults would have done.

This is one of the rare stories of childhood accomplishment that broke through the poor modern record of what we congratulate kids for. Miranda surely had serious help from a natural self-preservation instinct, but she still deserves credit for mature judgment. Had the worst happened, nobody would have figured the child failed in her duty of judgment and action: we simply don’t expect 12-year-olds to perform like this. Man dies in the next seat in a speeding car, and most of us expect a child — maybe anyone — to be so distraught that they can’t marshal their abilities to solve the problem.

That’s why I like seeing her congratulated for her good sense and courage. Too often, I only see kids lauded on the field of play — great strikeout, Billy (usually yelled obnoxiously). Way to spike it in her FACE, Karen. What I seldom hear, or hear about, is “That math test — that looked hard. You should be proud of yourself for doing so well on that.” Or, “You prepared very well, and the clarinet recital went great.” Or, “Y’know, if you keep working on those extra chemistry projects, you’re going to hit on a very good idea one of these days.”

Sometimes it seems as if the kids who don’t play sports are in society’s eddies, where less scintillating (but no less important) achievements such as the chem projects simply don’t draw enough eyeballs, as the marketing people like to say. I trust that after her family has buried her beloved Pop-Pop, Miranda’s parents will sit her down and tell her how extraordinary she is, and how much they love her for it.

Careful. Hogan knew what he was doing…most other players, not so much.

> Took a golf lesson this morning, a good one. My teacher, a young assistant pro at our club, is a plain speaker. “Don’t worry about angles and swing planes and stuff like that,” he said. “That’s good for some players, but most people playing for fun, I whip out swing planes on them and they’re gonna start scratching their heads like a monkey doing a math problem.”

Last of the real-news anchors: NBC’s Brian Williams

> Good story tonight on NBC Nightly News about how London’s East End, the site of most of the Olympic venues, rose from the rubble of Hitler’s bombs and survived economic struggles in the decades since. (Search “Blitz” on the NBC Nightly News page if the video gets updated away from the front of this section.) While no economic expansion is perfect, London’s eastern revival seems worth noting. According to the story, voiced by the incomparable Brian Williams, the East End now features new apartments, hip neighborhoods, and plenty of big-city buzz.

Williams’ mark on a story is always welcome. Unless Bob Schieffer is filling in on the desk at CBS, Williams is the last of the great anchors.

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