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Tramp explores deep themes

Today we mark the 125th anniversary of silent film star Charlie Chaplin’s birth. While best remembered for his character, the Little Tramp, his career was much broader than that one famous visage. He was a director, a screen writer and a composer. Along with other film luminaries, D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Chaplin founded the United Artists production company. Long recognized as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, it’s fitting that we take stock of his legacy.

Harmless drones get federal flak

In March 2012, volunteers spent four days looking for a 2-year-old boy who wandered away from his home outside Houston, Texas. They found him only after volunteers reviewing images captured by a drone-mounted aerial camera saw a flash of red in a pond that had already been searched. It turned out to be a shirt worn by the child, who had drowned.

Chasing the jumping flea

In a December 2013 column I confessed to the ownership and operation of a ukulele. Since then a number of other furtive uke players have emailed to share their tales of four-stringed folly. Even so, I know deep-down that the ukulele is largely regarded as a novelty… something 1920s Ivy League guys played while hanging out of a Stutz Bearcat or heaven forbid, Tiny Tim’s instrument of choice.

The joy of Daylight Saving Time

I am always a little embarrassed to confess, my dear wife being my primary confessor, that the arrival of Daylight Saving Time makes a profound difference for the better in my disposition. I am even more embarrassed when she replies, as she does every near-spring, “Tell me about it.” Which immediately depresses me, a little — her reminder that I’ve been something of a jerk the past few months, since the annual autumn “fall back.”

A new low now reached

We are sadly well-accustomed to acts beneath the dignity of our local government officials. It has often been said that we are a small town with big city problems. Perhaps it is the lack of shame among our top officials that disappoints us the most.

More important than genies

At a time when such products are derided as a major contributor to obesity and its related consequences, it may be difficult for some to celebrate the cultural milestone we mark today. On this day in 1894, Joe Biedenharn of Vicksburg, Mississippi used his soda water equipment to package the very first bottled Coca-Cola.

The futility of sanctions on Russia

In 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter came up with a way to retaliate: stopping grain sales to Moscow. The boycott, said Commerce Secretary Philip Klutznick, would prove to the world that “aggression is costly” and induce the Soviets to “halt their aggression.”

U.S. Senate vote against civil rights attorney would make Putin proud

While the United States issues repeated condemnations this week against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggressive actions in the Ukraine, it would have been fitting if he gave the U.S. a taste of its own medicine by firing back at the Senate for disavowing one of the fundamental aspects of our U.S. Constitution in the vote to deny Debo Adegbile an opportunity to serve the nation.

1768 all over again

As memories of the recent Winter Olympics are slowly subordinated to the ongoing spectacle of war on the Crimean peninsula, it’s easy to think about Russian President Vladimir Putin as a singular bad actor. Even the slightest familiarity with the history of the Crimea shows this to be far from the case.