Tuesday, March 20, 2018

EnviroStewardship: Spring To-Do List

It's time once again for Dad's monthly Environmental Stewardship column:

Now that spring has officially arrived (and it has even felt like spring a couple of days) it is time to do those things that didn’t get done last fall.

Like starting a compost pile somewhere in a corner of the yard. All that organic material that is raked or swept up in the yard and the plant-based materials from the kitchen can be composted to obtain rich, black soil for the garden and lawn. Nature does most of the work — it is called rotting — with just a little bit of help in turning the pile occasionally.

The only animal-based material that I throw into my compost pile are egg shells, trying to counteract the acid from the oak leaves, so there is never an odor problem. Coffee grounds, tea bags, banana and orange peels, moldy bread and discarded outer cabbage and lettuce leaves all make excellent compost.

If you had water condensing on your windows last winter, or even some frost on the inside on some chilly mornings, you should consider replacing those windows with double- or triple-glazed windows. The savings in your burning of fossil fuels and increased comfort will pay for the upgrade quite quickly.

Another environmental stewardship and energy saving change is to increase the thickness of insulation in your attic to an R-value of 38 for a gas or oil  fueled home and 50 for those heating with electricity. These two changes are good illustrations of the close relationship between economy and ecology.

Soon, many home owners will be fertilizing their lawns. Shouldn’t this year be the time that you have your soil tested (by someone other than the company trying to sell you fertilizer) to see if you really need all that nitrogen and potassium?

By state law, the phosphorus has generally been removed from lawn fertilizers in order to protect our rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Excess nitrogen fertilizer can wash off into the gutters and streams adding to the algae blooms. Recent studies in California have shown that excess nitrogen fertilizer can add to the nitrogen oxides (NOX) that add to the smog and non-conforming air quality. The California study showed that NOX from fertilizing exceeded that from automobiles in some areas. These were in heavily agricultural areas, but here in Wisconsin it has been shown that residential fertilizing is generally at a higher rate per acre than agricultural.

Also, if you didn’t build a rain garden or at least buy a rain barrel or two last fall, this spring may well be the time to do so. We used to think that we should get rain water off the yard as fast as possible; then turn on the sprinkler to keep the lawn green. We now know that it is best, not only for our lawns but for our streams, to have that rain water soak in as much as possible. Rain gardens do just that, directing the water from the downspouts to a depression in the yard maybe lined with stones and filled with deep rooted, native wetland species. Several organizations in the area, such as Root-Pike WIN, will assess your yard for its rain garden potential and give instructions on how to proceed.

In addition to obtaining native species for the rain garden, one should consider native species of shrubs, forbs and trees for some or all spring planting. Our native birds, insects and other life will appreciate it, and so will you when you realize how much less work they are to maintain once established. The DNR has long lists of native species for our area and groups such as “Wild Ones” have such plants for sale.

I am sure that if you are like me, there were other jobs, activities or purchases that didn’t get done last fall. We can all be better environmental stewards this spring.

Monday, March 19, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

There's a special challenge in drawing somebody for the first time. What is the general shape of the face? Which features call for exaggeration, and which call for minimization? Are there any photos on line showing him or her from the side or with a facial expression close to the one I need for the cartoon? Should I provide other clues?

If you're still wondering who this is, tune back in on Thursday.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Back to the Irish

With St. Patrick's Day falling on a Sathairnback Saturday this year, how could I not take a moment to catch up on events of the Emerald Isle in World War I?
"The Non-Stop Car" by Bernard Partridge in Punch, London, probably 1917
When last we checked in on Irish events, the British had executed Sir Roger Casement for his involvement in running weapons from Germany in support of the Easter Rising of 1916. Over the next couple of years, Britain released hundreds of other prisoners convicted for participating in that revolt, as a concession toward resumption of talks for Irish Home Rule.

On April 9, 1918, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced that his government was willing to grant Home Rule to Ireland, provided that the Irish institute universal male conscription (we call it "the draft" nowadays), sending its soldiers to fight alongside Entente forces. The Irish independence party, Sinn Fein, its ranks swelled by those released prisoners, rejected Lloyd George's terms and called for a general strike on April 22.

"A Bad Time for a Family Row" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1918
Rioting ensued with Sinn Fein and Irish Volunteer activists battling the Royal Irish Constabulary and British Army. Again, hundreds of republicans were arrested over the next several months, charged with conspiring with Germany. Still more were detained under legislation banning public parades.
"Germany's Last Reserves" by George E. Studdy in Passing Show, London, April, 1918
Indeed, Germany was all too happy to cheer on rebellion against England in Ireland...
"Die Wehrpflicht in Irland," unsigned, in Ulk, Berlin, May 24, 1918
...as well as in any other quarters of the empire upon which the sun had yet to set. One presumes that German-American cartoonist Arthur Johnson believed the colonized peoples of Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Togo had submitted freely to their German overlords.
Wenn... die Völker Selbstbestimmen Könnten" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, March 3, 1918
From the Berlin liberal magazine Jugend, there is this first panel of a seven-panel cartoon depicting Entente leaders disappointed in their Easter eggs.
Detail from "Ostereier" by Arpad Schmidhammer in Jugend, Munich, March 25, 1918
I did try to find some Irish point of view to include among today's cartoons, but I imagine the British censors weren't particularly keen to have Them Damn Pictures further stirring up Republican sentiment. This American cartoon by Daniel Fitzpatrick will have to do.
"The Mirage" by Daniel Fitzpatrick in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, probably 1917
Or perhaps this uncredited cartoon from Punch. I've commented before on how some cartoons don't translate well, and this time the foreign language is British. Either this cartoon is sympathetic to the Irish people, or it's an example of incredibly dry British wit desiccated beyond all hope of rehydration.
"In Suspense" in Punch, London, March or April, 1918

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Parade Downgrade

The LGBTQAIXYZ community's fight to be included in St. Patrick's Day parades goes back longer than that unwieldy acronym does. For the most part, we seem to have worn down the resistance.

But not everywhere. Organizers of the Staten Island march barred the island's Pride Center from their parade last week, reportedly adding that even the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar (who is openly gay) would not be allowed in their event if he displayed any "visual association with LGBT identity."

So let's just posit that the Staten Island parade is not among "all of the best St. Patrick's Day parades."
In Dublin, Galway, Cork and other Irish cities, gay and lesbian groups march in St. Patrick’s Day events without incident. Chicago, which has a large Irish Catholic population, has allowed gay groups since the mid-1990s. “Our city realized a long time ago that we have so much more in common than apart,” says Tom Tunney, Chicago’s first openly gay alderman. “We’re a city of cultures, and the LGBT community is a part of it.”
Boston's St. Pat's organizers allowed an LGBTQ group to parade with them in 2014, 2015, and 2016, only to ban them again last year. But after the resulting backlash, they are letting the LGBTQ marchers back in this year.

New York's Fifth Street parade banned LGBTQ participation until 2015, when they granted a permit to Out@NBCUniversal, the LGBTQ resource group of the network televising their parade. They were joined by the Lavender and Green Alliance the following year, thanks to pressure from Guinness, Sam Adams and Heineken. (And from Mayor DiBlasio, too, but I don't need to tell you whether beer or a politician is more important to St. Patrick's Day festivities.)

Now, I don't know for sure that, if mercurial American President Trump's dream of tanks and missiles parading down Pennsylvania Avenue comes to fruition, there won't be some group of LGBTQ soldiers or veterans demanding a float of their own.

I wasn't really privy to the last Homosexual Agenda Steering Cabal meeting. And if I were, I couldn't tell you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

I could show you the rest of the cartoon, but then it wouldn't be top secret, would it?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Lack of God! It's Trotsky!

If there is any one single biggest loser to be found in the Brest-Litovsk treaty ending Russian involvement in World War I, it is the Bolsheviks' chief negotiator, Leon Trotsky.
"Heute rot..." by P.H. in Ulk, Berlin, March 1, 1918
During negotiations, Germany's peace terms had included creating German-allied independent states in Poland and the Baltics, up to then parts of the Russian empire. Trotsky responded by suspending negotiations and recommending to Vladimir Lenin that Russia withdraw its forces from the fighting without signing a peace treaty: an approach he labeled "neither war nor peace"— "Ни война, ни мир." He fully expected that if he waited long enough, the German and Austrian working class and soldiers, weary of war, would rise up against their rulers just as the Russian people had.
"Brest-Litovsk" by Zislin in Le Rire, Paris, February 2, 1918
But Ukraine signed its Brest-Litovsk treaty with the Central Powers on February 9, 1918, and Germany renewed military action against Russia nine days later, ramping up the pressure on Russia to accept German terms for peace.
"Der Trotzkibengel und die Wandernde Glocke" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatch, Berlin, February 24, 1918 
German-American cartoonist Arthur Johnson's cartoon in Kladderadatch is based on a Goethe poem, "The Wandering Bell," about a boy who fails to heed his mother's admonition to go to church when the steeple bell rings, only to have the bell literally follow him everywhere until he changes his ways.
"Die Heimkehr vom Markt im Osten" by Richter in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, March 17, 1918
Russia signed the treaty on March 3, and ratified it on March 15. In addition to its Baltic losses, Russia recognized the independence of Ukraine, Georgia, and Finland and ceded territories to the Ottoman Empire that are now in easternmost Turkey— all told, ceding away some 1 million square miles of Russia's former territory; a third of its population or around 55 million people; a majority of its coal, oil and iron stores; and much of its industry.
"Trotsky Advances..." by Louis Raemaekers for Bell Syndicate, by March 13, 1918
As vilified in the Entente press as he had been in Germany's, Trotsky was spared the wrath of Russian cartoonists only because Russian cartoonists were not in the habit of drawing real, living domestic politicians in their cartoons. Dead people were fair game, but real people could send your ass off to the gulag. Russian cartoons throughout the Soviet era tended to limit themselves to archetypes and characters from folk tales.
"They Looked at the Little Bird" by Cy Hungerford in Pittsburgh Sun, March, 1918
Abroad, the most charitable view of Trotsky and, in Cy Hungerford's cartoon, Vladimir Lenin, was that they were unwitting, inexperienced buffoons, easily taken advantage of by the wily, expansionist Kaiser.

"Bear Steaks" by Bob Satterfield, by March 2, 1918
With his negotiating strategy thoroughly discredited, Trotsky resigned as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
"Trotsky's Good-Bye" by Percy H. "Poy" Fearon in London Evening News, March, 1918
Whether they thought of Trotsky as villain or fool, the general consensus of Entente cartoonists was that Russia had suffered an existential disaster of biblical proportions.
"Judas Bolchevik" by Nob in Le Rire, Paris, March 30, 1918

"Undertaken in the Name of Humanity" by C.R. McAuley in New York World, by March 7, 1918
The one outlier in its views on Russia's fate that I've come across is this drawing in the left-wing L'Asino of Rome, which appears to cast the Bolsheviks as David to Germany's Goliath. Since I haven't been able to locate the issue of L'Asino in which this cartoon first appeared, it is possible that it was drawn before the outcome of the Brest-Litovsk negotiations had been settled.

"Il Duello Tedesco-Bolscevico" (by Gabrieli "Rata Langa" Galanta?) in L'Asino, Rome, February or March, 1918
Certainly the editors of the Chicago Tribune, by the time they ran this cartoon on March 9, knew that David was not emerging from this duel with his (and Goliath's) head held high.

Yet even on the drawing boards of Munich's Simplicissimus there could be found some sympathy for Germany's vanquished foe. "Old metal bought [here]" reads the sign.

"Russischer Abendfriede" by C.O. Petersen in Simplicissimus, March 26, 1918
Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune finds the silver lining limning the "Russian catastrophe," now that the price of peace with Germany was on display for all to see.
"A Bad Jolt" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, March 19, 1918
Wow, cars must've been a whole lot sturdier then. None of that namby pamby carbon fiber polymer crap, just good old American steel.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Q Toon: Spirit of St. Louis

The government of Israel has decided to deport some LGBT asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda, where they face likely persecution.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Mar 8, 2018

In Uganda, it’s illegal – “against the law of nature” – to be LGBT, and this may put the deported migrants in harm’s way.
In Rwanda, the legal situation is murkier but there are recorded instances of harassment, physical abuse and arbitrary arrests, said Shira Kupfer, adjunct professor and head of a program for LGBT refugees and asylum seekers coordinator by The Aguda – LGBT Task Force. 
“If you deport LGBT refugees to one of these countries, you’re putting them at danger to them, to their lives,” Kupfer told the Jerusalem Post. ...
 In an asylum application from 2016, an LGBT migrant said he was raped and assaulted in his country of origin because of his sexual orientation, Haaretz reported. 
In that case, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommended asylum, however, the Interior Ministry refused to grant refugee status.
This is not a case of antigay bias on Israel's part. Indeed, Israel's record on LGBT rights is head and shoulders above any of its neighbors. Moreover, Israel rejects 99% of asylum requests overall. In these cases, which actually involve refugees from Eritrea and Sudan rather than the countries to which Israel is sending them, the Israeli government claims that the asylum seekers are fleeing poverty and war, not antigay persecution.

Which just makes shipping them to countries where they will face antigay persecution all the more reprehensible.

Drawing this week's cartoon, I wrestled with the problem of how much explanation of the MS St. Louis I needed to include. I can't include links to reference material in my cartoons (well, I could do that here on line, but hyperlinks don't work as well in print).

In some quarters, the story of the ship on which 900 German Jews attempted to flee Nazi persecution in 1939, only to be turned away from Havana, then Miami, forcing their return to Europe, is well known. But most Americans have never seen "Voyage of the Damned," let alone been taught about one of the darkest stains on U.S. immigration policy, pre-Trump.
Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, some passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never responded. The State Department and the White House had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must "await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." ... 
Roosevelt was not alone in his reluctance to challenge the mood of the nation on the immigration issue. Three months before the St. Louis sailed, Congressional leaders in both US houses allowed to die in committee a bill sponsored by Senator Robert Wagner (D-N.Y.) and Representative Edith Rogers (R-Mass.). This bill would have admitted 20,000 Jewish children from Germany above the existing quota.
Happily, most of the St. Louis's passengers were able to disembark in England, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, but World War II would soon envelop most of the continent. Of the 532 passengers trapped in Nazi-occupied Europe, 254 would not survive the war.