Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fine Lines: Frederick Amoafo and the New York Daily News

Fine Lines takes a look at headlines from the tabloids. Not the supermarket rags, but real newspapers, such as the Boston Herald, the New York Post, and the Philadelphia Daily News, that serve up the news with a touch of brass. A clever or pointed tabloid headline is a thing of beauty (or at least a heck of a lot of fun), especially if it involves wit and wordplay.

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that Frederick Amoafo, a 46-year-old cabbie from Queens, is "the safest hack in the city." Amoafo "has driven the most miles of any cabbie over the last five years — the equivalent of driving around the world 7.6 times — without a violation or other blemish on his record." Amoafo "not only made the city’s first-ever cabbie honor roll, but the Taxi and Limousine Commission ranked him as the safest of the safe."

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Tom Toles

Book Review: "Trespasser," Paul Doiron



Find reviews of over 2,700 books, including this one, at The Walrus Said blog.  
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Jeff Danziger

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


The Civil War, 1861-1865
August 27, 1864



Ill health forces U.S. Adm. David G. Farragut to request sick leave from the West Gulf Blockading Squadron inside Mobile Bay, Alabama.


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, August 26, 2014

Fine Lines: Peter Theo Curtis and the New York Post

Fine Lines takes a look at headlines from the tabloids. Not the supermarket rags, but real newspapers, such as the Boston Herald, the New York Post, and the Philadelphia Daily News, that serve up the news with a touch of brass. A clever or pointed tabloid headline is a thing of beauty (or at least a heck of a lot of fun), especially if it involves wit and wordplay.

The New York Post reported yesterday that Syrian militants linked to al Qaeda released kidnapped US journalist Peter Theo Curtis on Sunday, “just days after the even more savage ISIS beheaded American photojournalist James Wright Foley.” 

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Pat Oliphant

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on August 26, 1864


The Civil War, 1861-1865
August 26, 1864



A convention of African-Americans in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, advances resolutions calling for the commissioning of black military officers.


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 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Editorial cartoonists: keeping the legacy of Thomas Nast alive

by Mike Luckovich

American Civil War: 150 years ago today on August 25, 1864


The Civil War, 1861-1865
August 25, 1864



U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman, unwilling to storm the defenses of Atlanta, resolves to throw the weight of his entire army against the Macon and Western Railroad, the last remaining supply route into the city.

The Confederate raider CSS Tallahassee successfully runs the Union blockade and reaches Wilmington, North Carolina, having seized 31 prizes.


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, August 23, 2014

The Hen Chronicles . . . . . Chicken aerodynamics (or the lack thereof)


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. 

Whenever I see one of our hens flapping her wings, as Nellie did yesterday morning after her breakfast, I'm reminded why chickens don't fly very well. The ratio of wing length to body size is way off, as if the creature's designer had sadistic tendencies.

To put it another way: short wings + large hen = poor aerodynamics. Speaking from experience, a hen's wings seem long and powerful if you pick her up incorrectly and she feverishly flaps them in your face. But if you look at a chicken's wings in relationship to the hen as a whole, they are, well, kind of stubby.

Chickens are not flightless birds. They can become airborne. When Liz and I drove down to York County, Maine, in April 2012 to buy our first chickens at a small farm, I saw a free-range hen take off and fly into a tree, where it landed on a branch that was at least 10 to 12 feet off the ground. Some chicken owners even trim their birds' feathers to keep them grounded. (That's something I would never do, even though full-length replacement feathers supposedly grow in when the chicken molts. It strikes me as cruel.)

Still, effortless flight is not really part of a chicken's skill set, to use a tiresome term. As author Gail Damerow notes in The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference, wings enable a chicken "to fly short distances," but they are more commonly used "for balance during such activities as running or jumping down from a roost."

I've seen our "girls" use their wings in just such a fashion. If one of them stumbles on something, such as a wobbly ramp leading from the coop to the pen, she will extend and possibly flap her wings to right herself, in much the same way that people use their arms to avoid falling on ice. But on those rare occasions when we've had to chase our hens around the yard to get them back into the coop or pen, they've never even tried to fly off, opting instead to run and weave and dart this way and that, without ever leaving the ground.

Which is just as well. Chickens can run pretty darn fast, and they have great evasive moves. They're hard enough to catch as it is. Fortunately for us, they cannot fly with the grace of an eagle or the agility of a hawk or the efficiency of a carrier pigeon or the speed of a hummingbird. The best they can do is to take wing like a bird that never quite got the hang of the thing.


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 Jim Morin