Monday, July 28, 2014

Stop the world, I want to get off!

And now, another unanswerable question from a very confused guy who's just trying to make sense of it all from his perch up in the cheap seats.

I had to go to three stores yesterday before I found a complete copy of The Boston Globe, one that included every section of the paper. Three different stores! In the first two, the Arts, Travel and Ideas sections, among others, were missing, making for a suspiciously thin newspaper as soon as I grabbed it off the rack. This means incompetent workers somewhere along the line in the distribution system are getting paid for providing goods that they aren't actually delivering. Aren't dead-tree newspapers dying fast enough on their own without an assist from culprits on the inside?

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Pat Oliphant

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Rick McKee

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on July 27, 1864


The Civil War, 1861-1865
July 27, 1864



Rather than storm the heavily fortified defenses of Atlanta, Georgia, Gen. William T. Sherman settles on a partial siege while dispatching cavalry raids against railroads and other supply lines.


Information from the Civil War Almanac, by John C. Fredriksen (Checkmark Books) 
Illustration: detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Le Grand Dérangement: ethnic cleansing in 18th-century Canada

Ships Take Acadians Into Exile, by Claude T. Picard

An often-overlooked chapter in the lamentable history of ethnic cleansing began 259 years ago this month when British officials ordered the deportation of thousands of French-speaking Acadians from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The exiles were dispersed to British colonies in America, as well as to France and England. Families were broken up. Many died when transports sank, or after they became ill in prison or at sea. Some eventually found their way back to Canada. Others made it to Louisiana, where their descendants are known today as Cajuns.

Le Grand Dérangement (The Great Upheaval) dragged on for years. Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized it in his epic poem Evangeline, in which an Acadian girl searches for her love, Gabriel. The Acadian diaspora probably would be largely lost to history if not for Longfellow’s poem, but facts tell an even more compelling tale than fiction. My family tree holds several Acadian cousins from that period who were evicted from their homes and exiled.

Here are two of their stories.
Michel Bastarache dit Basque was separated from his wife and imprisoned with his brother Pierre. More than 80 Acadians, including Michel, escaped from the fort where they were being held through a tunnel they had dug, but Michel was soon recaptured and sent to South Carolina with his brother.

In 1756, Michel, Pierre and a dozen other Acadians fled through the woods and made their way north on foot across North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. They were captured by the Iroquois, but a fur trader ransomed them and took them to Québec.

From there, Michel and Pierre went to New Brunswick, where Michel learned that his wife was on Prince Edward Island. The reunited couple returned to New Brunswick, where they and their four children later became British prisoners. In 1763, the Bastaraches tried to relocate to France, but in the ultimate irony, they were barred from doing so because they were considered British subjects.
 ******************
At 19, Etienne Hébert was separated from his family in 1755 and deported to Baltimore, where he landed a job and eventually saved quite a bit of money. He found his parents and one brother in Maryland, but he could not locate six other siblings.

Moving to Boston with his parents and brother, Etienne set out for Canada with a compass, axe, musket, tinder-box, saucepan and birchbark canoe. He found three of his sisters in Canada - Marguerite, Françoise and Marie - bought some land there and returned to Boston.
In 1767, he brought his parents and brother Jean Baptiste to Canada, where his mother died that year. Etienne eventually found his remaining siblings - sister Anne and brothers Joseph and Honoré. The entire family had been reunited by 1771, 16 years after the Héberts were separated and deported. 
Source: The Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by David Horsey

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Hen Chronicles . . . . . An egg, an egg, my kingdom for an egg


On April 21, 2012, my wife Liz and I - chicken neophytes - bought three laying hens, who set up shop in a coop in the backyard of our city lot here in Maine. The makeup of our small flock has changed since then, but not our love of chickens. The Hen Chronicles explore life with our tenants. 

Is keeping chickens bad for your health? It can be, if one of your hens is an all-white Plymouth Rock named Snow.

Aside from being incredibly pugnacious and demanding, which are somewhat endearing qualities because they bring a smile to my face, Snow is a troubled hen. Specifically, she has problems - recurring problems - in the egg-laying department.

For one thing, Snow lays unusually large eggs. They’re significantly longer, fatter and just all-around bigger than those produced by Hope and Nellie, our Rhode Island Reds. Perhaps that’s why her lay sometimes becomes a drawn-out exercise that is stress-inducing for her humans, and no doubt for her as well.

So it was yesterday morning.

I knew something was amiss even before I opened the coop door at dawn to let “the girls” into their pen. Snow, who normally bounces at a side window and squawks angrily as soon as she sees me approaching the coop, was simply standing there quietly.

She came out with the other hens when I unlatched the door, but while Hope and Nellie immediately got down to the serious business of wolfing down their breakfast, the usually voracious Snow walked around the pen slowly without touching the feed.

For the second time in recent weeks, she appeared to be egg-bound.
 

Liz and I have this drill down pat by now, so we swung into action. While I held Snow with her "working end" aloft for easy access, Liz lubricated her gloved hand with gel and did a bit of gentle poking to grease the skids, as it were. Sure enough, she felt an egg. We then gave Snow an Epsom salt bath in warm water, dried her off as best we could, encouraged her to walk around the yard a bit, and finally put her back in with Nellie and Hope, who always get upset when they’re separated from Snow.

Then the wait began.
 

Snow finally laid a soft-shelled egg several hours later. The shell was too rubbery to withstand her weight and the egg promptly broke, but at least Snow had managed to release it. She then spent an hour or more recuperating in the coop before she finally came out into the pen and began acting like her normal self once again.

By then, it was early afternoon, so I had spent half a day worrying about our oldest, goofiest, top-of-the-pecking-order hen.


Chickens lay fewer eggs as they age, and may eventually stop altogether. Apparently Snow is still too young to slow down, but I really wouldn’t mind it one bit if she took early retirement.

The patient
 There are eight million stories in the naked henhouse. This has been one of them.

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Tom Toles

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Pat Oliphant

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on July 24, 1864


The Civil War, 1861-1865
July 24, 1864



Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early defeats the Union Army of West Virginia at Kernstown, Virginia, driving it from the Shenandoah Valley and into Maryland.


Information from the Civil War Almanac, by John C. Fredriksen (Checkmark Books) 
Illustration: detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Mike Peters

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on July 23, 1864


The Civil War, 1861-1865
July 23, 1864



The Louisiana State Convention adopts a new constitution that outlaws slavery.


Information from the Civil War Almanac, by John C. Fredriksen (Checkmark Books) 
Illustration: detail from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston honoring the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stop the world, I want to get off!

And now, another unanswerable question from a very confused guy who's just trying to make sense of it all from his perch up in the cheap seats. 

Is there anything on the tube that's more fully detached from the real world than what we lamely refer to as reality television? The people on these shows bear no resemblance to anyone I've ever met. Their behavior is puerile at best and frightening at worst. A sizable proportion of the cast clearly suffers from some form of mental illness. And everyone looks like a CGI experiment gone horribly bad. These shows are so astonishingly unreal they make Petticoat Junction and Hogan's Heroes look like documentaries. So why the moniker?