It wasn’t really a headline—it was what I think they call a jump-line: a headline printed on the front page to direct you to an article in another section. The Times prints its science section on Monday, and delivers it on Tuesday, but it appears on the Web site on Monday. One Monday, several years ago, I saw the following headline on the Times‘s Web site: “Nature’s Drone: Pretty and Deadly”. The link took me to an article by Natalie Angier (whose thesaurus really needs to be taken away) about dragonflies. I promptly wrote the following letter (via e-mail, of course) to the editor:
To the Editor:
Nature’s drone is not the dragonfly. It is the drone. It’s pretty enough, if you like honey bees, but it’s not deadly at all: it has no sting.
It’s ludicrous enough for the press to nickname the military’s homicidal unmanned aerial vehicles after the harmless drone; but for the Times to kill even that misplaced metaphor, by applying it metaphorically to an entirely different insect, just makes me lose all hope for mankind.
J. D. Crutchfield
Long Island City
The Times did not acknowledge my letter, let alone print it; and they’d already printed the Science Times for the next day; but the jump-line on the front page of Tuesday’s printed paper read “Nature’s Hunter: Pretty and Deadly”.