A thoughtful piece on why Snoopy ruined “Peanuts.” It must be news to some that the original strip was rather bleak. It’s not that it wasn’t funny. It was really depressing. Take these concluding panels from a ’55 Sunday strip:

It’s just cruel. It’s funny only if you want side with the girls’ cruelty. Perhaps it was funny at the time because nothing on the comics page revealed human nastiness with such stark frankness As the author notes: “And then there were other strips that were just pitch black, with no happy resolution or redemption. Because sometimes, life isn’t fair.” Then came Snoopy, and when he started standing up and playing characters it was all warm & fuzzy huggyfests.

. . . the ‘humanizing’ of Snoopy also meant that the real kids were used less and less. Snoopy filled their roles, and eventually, many human characters were discarded altogether. By the 80s, Shermy and Patty, who started the strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy in 1952, were gone, or reduced to brief cameos. Violet and her high bred snobbery were gone. Frieda, who used to challenge Snoopy more than any of the other characters, was also gone. Instead, we got more strips of Snoopy in cute costumes.

And now we get Snoopy in platforming games running from nightmare pumpkins.

The movie, to be fair, looks as if it'll surprise people who are expecting something trite. Whether it wil find an audience with modern kids, who seem completely uninterested in "Peanuts," is another matter. The strip doesn't run in the paper for kids. It runs to reassure the demographic that grew up with the strip. 

URBAN DESIGN Here’s an article that admits something critics have long maintained: Streetcars aren’t about transit. They’re for development.

What is it about streetcars that make them such an effective development tool? To advocates, all the factors that limit streetcars’ utility from a mass-transit perspective enhance their development-boosting capacity. Take the tracks. They’re a streetcar’s shackles, confining it to a fixed route. What happens if someone double parks or breaks down in the streetcar lane, or if a delivery truck is too wide and juts into the route? A bus would simply maneuver around the obstruction, but a streetcar must wait. How about if emergency utility repairs need to be made on the road, or if a sinkhole opens up under it, as has happened several times recently in D.C.? A bus can take a detour, but a streetcar can’t.

Mind you, it’s a pro-streetcar piece. If that’s the case, then no streetcar line should go into a well-developed area. Right?

CURRENT EVENTS A Chinese journalist writes about his attempt to cover the explosion and fire at Tianjin. It’s not a question of whether he’ll be arrested, but how much he’ll see before he is. Worth it for the pictures - give it a look.