The Jackdaw Journal
A Publication of M2 Communications

jack-daw [JAK-dah], n. 1. a glossy, black, European bird, corvus monedula, of the crow family, that nests in towers, ruins, etc.; has a proclivity to collect bright objects that attract its attention; can include bits of ice, things round or square, twigs, filaments of light bulbs; specialist on the lookout of what fits the construction of its nest.

jackdaw journal [JAK-dah JERN-al], n. 1. a repository of bright objects — wit, wisdom and whimsey — collected and/or created by Michael McKinney.   2. a web log or blog


Books Archives
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Listen Before You Speak

September 12, 2007

Roger Horchow in the book he wrote with his daughter Sally, The Art of Friendship relates the following great story to illustrate the point that active listening opens up a world of potential relationships—and you might learn something.
My friend Dick Bass (now in his 70s) has traveled far and wide and had many adventures. His achievements include being the first person to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents, as well as being the oldest person (by five years) to climb Mount Everest (at the age of 55.)

He once told me a story of a plane ride, on which he sat next to a nice man who listened to him go on about the treacherous peaks of Everest and McKinley, the time he almost died in the Himalayas, and his upcoming plan to reclimb Everest. Just before the plane landed, Bass turned to the man sitting next to him and said, “After all this, I don’t think I’ve introduced myself. My name is Dick Bass.” The man shook his hand, and responded, “Hi, I’m Neil Armstrong. Nice to meet you.”

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The Dangerous Book for Boys

May 4, 2007

I came across a great book for my son (and me). The fully revised American edition of the British bestseller, The Dangerous Book for Boys by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden is full of useful information and activities that fathers and sons can do together.
The authors say, “I think we've become aware that the whole "health and safety" overprotective culture isn't doing our sons any favors. Boys need to learn about risk. They need to fall off things occasionally, or--and this is the important bit--they'll take worse risks on their own. If we do away with challenging playgrounds and cancel school trips for fear of being sued, we don't end up with safer boys--we end up with them walking on train tracks. In the long run, it's not safe at all to keep our boys in the house with a Playstation. It's not good for their health or their safety.

“You only have to push a boy on a swing to see how much enjoys the thrill of danger. It's hard-wired. Remove any opportunity to test his courage and they'll find ways to test themselves that will be seriously dangerous for everyone around them. I think of it like playing the lottery--someone has to say "Look, you won't win--and your children won't be hurt. Relax. It won't be you."

“I think that's the core of the book's success. It isn't just a collection of things to do. The heroic stories alone are something we haven't had for too long. It isn't about climbing Everest, but it is an attitude, a philosophy for fathers and sons. Our institutions are too wrapped up in terror over being sued--so we have to do things with them ourselves.”

They have created a web site at

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Iowa: They're Not Just Watching The Corn Grow

April 12, 2007

The April 9, 2007 Publishers Weekly reports: Iowa leads the nation in the production of pork, corn and soybeans. All Iowa Reads But there's much more to this state than fields and farms. The Hawkeye State also leads the nation in adult literacy, with a 99.2% rate. In fact, Iowans read more books per capita than do the residents of any other state, a habit no doubt further perpetuated by the popular "All Iowa Reads" statewide reading program, now in its fifth year.

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Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

March 28, 2007

Charles Chapin, the notorious (he also went to Sing Sing for murdering his wife of 39 years) city editor of Joseph Pulitzer's New York Evening World, stocked the Evening World's rewrite desk with such talents as
Irvin S. Cobb, a man not known for excessive solicitude. One day word reached the newsroom that Chapin was ill. "Dear me," Cobb famously remarked, "let us hope it's nothing trivial."

The fearsome and despotic Chapin achieved some of his renown for the sheer number of reporters he fired - 108 - usually for showing up slightly late and with a flimsy excuse. A good, fast-paced and captivating biography of Charles E. Chapin (1858-1930) is The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism by James McGrath Morris.

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