I’ve been preoccupied following the meanderings of Hurricane Irene and its potential impact on the U.S. As of Monday, what was good news for Florida looked like bad news for the Carolinas – and almost certainly for the Bahamas.

 But there was still hope the Irene would turn out to sea completely and give the East Coast another break, as happened so often during the active 2010 season.

 I did happen across one health-related story that caught my eye. It reminded me how quickly the media moves from one subject to the next and how yesterday’s news – as big as it may be at the time – has all the staying power of last night’s dreams.

 It was only about a year ago that the Chilean miners story was all over the newspaper front pages. Viewers followed minute-by-minute coverage on cable news channels.  When the 33 trapped miners were rescued in October, it was a worldwide sensation. The trendiest Halloween costume that year was, of course, miners garb complete with the headlamp attached to a hard hat.

 CNN called it the feel-good story of the year. The miners were certain to be worldwide celebrities and be rewarded richly for their personal stories of the two-month ordeal.

 But the BBC reports that almost a year later the men whose every word and movement was reported by the world media have virtually slipped into obscurity.

 Some are unemployed; others are working odd jobs here and there to make ends meet. Some are still battling to deal with the psychological effects of their entrapment and remain on sick leave.

 Other mining companies are reluctant to hire the men because they fear they are psychologically damaged by their experiences.

 Although there was an element of nationalism in the Chilean miners’ story – a lot of flag waving went on and singing of the Chilean National Anthem – 31 of the miners are suing the government for allowing the mine to operate. The government in turn is suing the mining company.

 Jean Romagnoli, the miners’ trainer while they were still trapped, told the BBC: “The money-making thing has been slow. The promises that were made to them when they reached the surface, like for example that they were going to all have a job in the national mining industry, they’ve all vanished.”

 There is a movie being made. Jose Rivera, who wrote “Motorcycle Diaries,” has been hired to write the script. But no studio has been tapped to distribute the movie, and no word on how much the miners will receive for selling their stories.

 In any case, you have to wonder how successful such a movie would be. It’s not easy to keep people on the edge of their seats with a story in which the outcome is already known. It has been done effectively, in the case of Apollo 13, for example.

 But really. Can you name the Apollo 13 astronauts? No, one of them was not Tom Hanks.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loganz/5134965150/

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