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Tuesday notes

Apr 17, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

North Korea's dud

No one outside Pyongyang could claim to be happy about North Korea's test launch of a long-range ballistic missile last week, but for those who opposed the idea -- and that includes just about everyone else on Earth -- there can be some solace in the knowledge that the thing blew up shortly after liftoff. Mission definitely not accomplished.

The best thing now, again from the vantage point of the rest of the globe, would be for North Korea to give up on this idea. Suspending a planned distribution of food aid is one way the United States is trying to persuade the new leader, Kim Il Sun, to arrive at the same conclusion.

But Pyongyang has rarely, if ever, done what the rest of the world wants it to do. Now there is a real worry that, like a stubborn boy trying to jump high enough to touch the top of the door frame, North Korea will keep trying and failing until it gets it right -- perhaps with more determination than ever.

Comic strip rarity

Here's a question aimed particularly at longtime Ranger readers: Did you see Barney Google? No, it has nothing to do with a purple dinosaur searching for something on the Internet.

The aforementioned longtime readers know that the full name of our comic strip commonly called "Snuffy Smith" actually is "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith." When the strip was new the better part of a hundred years ago, city slicker Barney Google was the main character. Occasionally he encountered his country cousin from Hootin' Holler, Snuffy Smith. There even was a popular song in the Roaring Twenties called "Barney Google (With His Goo Goo Googley Eyes)."

When cartoonist Fred Lasswell took over the strip, he put new emphasis on Snuffy Smith (who had existed previously as a supplier of moonshine to Barney and friends during Prohibition), and Barney Google was seen less and less often.

For the bulk of Lasswell's tenure into the 1980s, Barney Google appeared every year or two, but since Lasswell's death, the new writers had shut Barney out for good -- or so it seemed.

But he appeared unexpectedly in a recent strip, which made some reference to how long it had been since we had seen him. A best guess from the editorial writer is that it had been at least 15 years.

For those of us who have followed Ranger comics faithfully over the years, this was a small but wonderful treat.

Thou in Dow

The stock market has been a volatile thing over the past two weeks or so, but our Thou in the Dow investment experiment is still paying off when a longer view is taken. As you'll recall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted through one of its worst periods in history early last August -- so bad that some in our newspaper office wondered if it could recover.

But recover it has, to the point that an imaginary $1,000 invested in a fund based on the daily rise or fall of the Dow Jones Industrial Average would have been worth $1,125.94 as of Tuesday morning. We'll follow the hypothetical grand for another four months or so.

Whither the eggs?

Nobody had turned in either of The Ranger's huntable Easter Eggs before press time Tuesday. Never fear, searchers, the clues begin to paint a much more specific picture later this week. They'd better -- the hunt ends Friday.

Dennis Curran

A word about a former news colleague, Dennis Curran. Nearly 30 years ago, when we were assembling a news staff of young, college-trained journalists -- Dave Perry, Bill Truettner, Debra Friedell, Mike Quinn, Carolyn Bower, Todd Adams, Barbara Bell, Mike Bair and Susan Yager among them over a few years in the 1980s -- Denny, as those in the news business knew him, was the head of the Wyoming Associated Press office in Cheyenne, the closest thing to a bureau chief of its own that Wyoming had.

Later he became the press secretary for Mike Sullivan during Sullivan's years as governor (Sullivan left office after the 1994 election), and he continued to make and leave his mark in Wyoming journalism circles for many years -- including a couple of stints working on The Ranger's annual Mining and Energy Edition. More recently he had been affiliated with the Wyoming Business Report.

Denny Curran died a few days ago. Many of us who knew him were astonished to learn that he was 67 years old -- too young to leave this life but older than we realized. His boyish charm and youthful energy never left him, and he will not be forgotten in Wyoming's newsrooms.

Here's to a good week.

-- Steven R. Peck

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