Monday, May 05, 2003

The Shades

Do US infantrymen, especially those in the Special Forces, wear sunglasses because they like to ogle women? Yes! according to clerics in Falluja, Iraq, they impart X-ray vision. "We have heard that the Americans' sunglasses allow them to see through our women's clothes," said a man standing across the road from the contested US headquarters. "We are very angry to think that they can see our women naked." Or, are they rather, as the left-wing website Indymedia suggests, a necessary ornament of the well-dressed, modern assassin: "US killers ... in their distinctive fighting gear, which includes baseball caps, jeans, expensive sunglasses and specially adapted rifles"?

The truth is rather more prosaic. The troops wear them as eye-armor, not simply against the sun or desert grit, but against low velocity fragments. Developed to meet the requirements of impact sports, some models, notably those made by Wiley-X, Bolle and Oakley, are able to withstand a 12 gauge shotgun blast from 10 yards away. Moreover, their high-end optics filter out the blue-end of the light spectrum, which improves visual acuity under certain conditions. Most are available in a wide variety of light transmissability, from the nearly clear to the very dark.


Why would anyone think sunglasses imparted X-ray vision?