Saturday, January 22, 2022

Cartoon Saturday


Oh, for pity's sake ...

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans for a special $6 million police force (answerable to him) to combat the election crime he believes is rampant in the state; the Supreme Court has allowed the release of presidential documents sought by the January 6th committee ... the only justice voting against the release was Clarence Thomas, whose wife - oddly enough - supported the events of that day; among the documents provided by the National Archives to the January 6th Commission following the Supreme Court decision is a draft executive order with which Der Furor sought to use the National Guard to seize voting machines and records nationwide to keep himself in office; a German probe commissioned by the Catholic Church has alleged that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI failed to act on four child abuse cases while he was archbishop of Munich; and in Turkey, a junk collector looking to sell about 70 tons of iron has been arrested and charged with stealing a 500 meter (1,640 foot) long bridge over a period of four days.

I've always been interested in mythology, although it's not as much fun now that all the myths seem to revolve around stolen elections and the existence of any sort of rational Republican agenda other than meddling in local education, packing courts with extremely conservative judges, and cutting taxes on big business and the wealthy. Instead, how about some real mythology, with a visit to Medusa, the lady with the original bad hair day? ...

So, Medusa married a centaur, and ...


A twist on the age-old complaint of women everywhere ...


Well, someone's really busted ...


You just knew this one had to come up sooner or later ...


Medusa at the veterinarian's ...


Ah, yes - she really is ...


I haven't done any dating for a long, long time, but I know it can be difficult even if you don't have an odd hair problem ...


Twenty-first century problems are worse for some people than for others ...


Medusa's beauty routine included some tricky parts ...


Medusa in 2022 ...


Have a good day and a great weekend. Stay warm, and watch out for women with sinuous hair.

More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Friday, January 21, 2022

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


And here we go again ...

They'll need to offer a better deal than that ...


Just the thing to enjoy when you're finished with your anus burger ...


Bi-lingual milk obviously comes from cows that are cultured, rather than contented ...


I suppose they would make a good accompaniment for those anus burgers ...


You just know that some copy editor had a wonderful time writing this headline ...


I wonder what tipped them off ...


Don't worry, I won't ... 


The way a lot of American Christians act today, I'm sure this is a best-seller ... 


That's true ... it usually isn't nowadays ...


Now there's a ringing endorsement! 


And that's it for the final collection of editorial and signage ya-ha's for January ... I hope you enjoyed them.

Have a good day, come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday, and - in the words of our final gem for the day - don't be a douchebag.

More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

DUMBCON Update


Well, Dear Readers, it’s happened again. I have bowed to the inevitable and decided that it’s time once again to modify my DUMBCON scale and reset the current DUMBCON level.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history, this is the story of why I developed the DUMBCON* scale. If you are already familiar with the history, just scroll down to the detailed discussion of the new scale …

In July of 2009 I realized that things in America had become so stupid that there was a need for a scale with which to measure and describe the prevailing level of stupidity among my fellow citizens. I used as my model the five-stage “Defense Condition" (or "DEFCON") scale used by the military services to set their level of readiness in response to world conditions. I called my scale the National Stupidity Condition Index, or DUMBCON, and set the initial level at DUMBCON 1 - the highest level**. I bypassed all the lesser levels just on principle.

The original DUMBCON structure served well until January of 2013, when I found it necessary to add a sixth level – DUMBCON 0 - to accommodate surging levels of national stupidity.

But such was the ever-increasing spread of stupidity that I was forced, a mere ten months later, to add a seventh level – DUMBCON -1 (Minus One).

Less than three years later, on December 21st of 2016, in response to the rampant dumbassery of the presidential campaign, I added an eighth level – DUMBCON -2 (Minus Two).

After adding the eighth level, I tried to be optimistic and positive, figuring that things just had to get better … but a mere six months later I recognized that the country I love had grown so appallingly stupid that eight levels of stupidity were no longer enough to measure it. Thus, in June of 2017 I modified the scale yet again to add a much-needed ninth level - DUMBCON -3 (Minus 3).

Thirteen months later, in July of 2018, such was the state of the world that I decided to add an unprecedented tenth level – DUMBCON -4 (Minus 4). At this point, we had finally exceeded the number of levels in Dante’s Hell.

A year and a half or so later, in March, 2020, I thought that the DUMBCON structure had become too large and unwieldy, and contained more levels than necessary or useful. I decided to reset the structure and the level to its original 2009 state of DUMBCON 1.

But less than a year later, with a sitting president who was at best clueless and at worst insane, tens of millions of Americans who believe the most ridiculous of conspiracy theories, a pandemic – downplayed by Der Furor and ignored by his followers – that had killed more than 375,000 Americans in less than a year, our international standing reduced to the level of “laughingstock,” and a Capitol building that had been stormed and ransacked by a mob clad in Der Furor’s regalia, waving his flags, and caught on video beating a police officer with an American flag, I decided to return to the ten-level DUMBCON structure of 2018, and reset the national DUMBCON level to Minus Four.

Well, that was then, and this is now.

Even at my most cynical depths of despair over the state of the nation's behavior, I could not have imagined the astounding level of ass-clownery that continues to grow unchecked, fueled by a noisy, disgraced former president and a political party that has become so unhinged, divorced from reality, and desperate to retain power that it ignores law, custom, and basic fairness and refuses even to debate important issues***. Nevertheless, the ten-level DUMBCON system of 2018 has grown too large and cumbersome, and given that I see little chance in the foreseeable future that the level will be set at anything other than the maximum ... why bother maintaining and updating a bunch of levels I'm never likely to invoke?

Therefore, after much thought and discussion with friends whose opinions I respect (thanks Gail, Dave, Mike, and Shawna!), I have decided to return permanently to the six-level DUMBCON structure of 2013 (which added the Zero Level), with the levels redefined as shown:

DUMBCON 5 (Code Green) - ordinary, day-to-day stupidity. Congress is in session, but accomplishes little of substance. People pay attention to the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson, and Louis Gohmert. Companies plaster thick layers of warning labels on products in an attempt to avoid lawsuits from people injured through their own stupidity.

DUMBCON 4 (Code Blue) - things are more stupid than usual. People refer to the deadly Capitol riots of January 6th, 2021, as "a normal tourist day." Congressional Republicans object to voting rights legislation as unconstitutional, but appear somehow to have missed Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution. People invoke "personal freedom" rather than "responsibility" by refusing to be vaccinated against a deadly disease that has killed more than 850,000 Americans in a single year.

DUMBCON 3 (Code Yellow) - things are getting pretty stupid. Despite mountains of historical evidence, people continue to deny the Holocaust. Large numbers of "Christians" exhibit behavior the complete opposite of that advocated by Jesus Christ. Conservative politicians insist on dismantling the "administrative state" because only Congress can create and enforce rules and regulations, but Congress cannot even pass a budget, much less create and enforce necessary rules and regulations.

DUMBCON 2 (Code Magenta) - start shaking your head - it's getting really stupid out there. People get their information from outlets like Fox, OANN, and Newsmax. People not only deny the reality of the Holocaust, but compare vaccination against Covid-19 to genocidal mass murder. Ninety-seven percent of serious scientists agree that climate change is a clear and present danger, but conservatives refuse to accept it because "the science isn't settled." After each mass murder by gunfire, Second Amendment zealots claim that guns are irrelevant to the discussion, and that mass murderers without guns would just line up their victims and strangle them individually or something. 

DUMBCON 1 (Code Orange) - more stupid than you can imagine. Go back to bed and hide under the pillows****. Businesses raise prices because of "increased costs," but demand their employees accept pay and benefits cuts to keep costs low and protect profits. The GOP continues to demand repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act, but offers nothing to replace it. People equate the wearing of protective masks or presentation of proof of vaccination to the genocidal Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

DUMBCON 0 (Code Red) - A level of stupidity far exceeding your worst nightmares. People drink their own urine or demand doses of horse dewormer rather than take life-saving vaccines against Covid-19. "Constitutional sheriffs" claim the authority to interpret the constitutionality of laws and decide which ones they will enforce. Conservative activists insist that a government that can't pass a budget - or agree on anything at all - is hell-bent on confiscating weapons from the most heavily-armed population on earth.


My original inclination was to keep the DUMBCON level at Zero (Code Red), but following lengthy discussion with my advisors, I have decided to reset it to DUMBCON Two (Code Magenta) to provide headroom for all-but-certain spikes in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, we have gone to DUMBCON Two. Do your part to keep it from going higher.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

* Do not confuse the DUMBCON Scale with the Gohmert Stupidity Scale. The former is a measure of overall national stupidity, while the latter is an estimate of the stupidity of individual persons or groups.

** My friend Dave recommended that I reverse the order of the levels for clarity, making 1 the lowest level and 5 the highest. Although that suggestion has merit, I have decided to retain the present arrangement so as to maintain the congruence with the military system on which it is based. Should I need to recalibrate or redefine the system again later, I may reconsider the suggestion at that time.

*** Volume and repetition have replaced rational debate for Republicans in or seeking office. You may have seen that the Republican National Committee now wants to prohibit its candidates from participating in future Presidential Debates. If you don't have any ideas to defend, why embarrass yourself by exposing your intellectual sloth in a debate?

**** Do not attempt to hide under products produced by "My Pillow," as they will just make things worse.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Musical Sunday


The Parody Project hits it out of the part yet again with this takeoff on a classic Frank Sinatra tune ... if only it weren't so accurate ...


Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Cartoon Saturday


So far, 2022 does not seem to be a particularly significant improvement over 2021 ...

In the latest example of the worldwide supply chain crisis, Norwegian military conscripts being mustered out of service are being directed to return their army-issued underwear to be cleaned and reissued to new troops; in a first-ever medical procedure, a man suffering from a terminal heart disease received a genetically-modified pig heart in a seven-hour operation; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called President Biden's speech on voting rights a "rant" that was "profoundly unpresidential," "incoherent, incorrect and beneath (the dignity of) his office," having clearly slept through six years of dignified, grammatical, and statesmanlike utterances by Der Furor; NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team fully deployed its 21-foot, gold-coated primary mirror, successfully completing the final stage of all major equipment deployments to prepare for its mission; and the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) published its annual list of the ten most unusual items confiscated at airport security checkpoints, which included a "meth burrito" and a chainsaw.

This week, since there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding and political posturing over what constitutes "free speech" or "protected speech, how about a collection of cartoons about speech and speeches ...

Republicans prepare to react to the latest address by the President ...  


Well, they certainly have the numbers on their side ...


Situational response ...


The best summary of the issue I've seen in a while ...


Most politicians are very good at exercising this particular freedom ...


This isn't really a cartoon per se, it's a meme I created a while back to illustrate how our concept of "freedom of speech" has changed over the years ...


God rethinks the part about "bearing false witness" in 2022 America ...


I often use the same digit ...


The "free" in "free speech" doesn't refer to fundraising ...


The choice of a topic appropriate to the occasion is an important part of speech preparation ...


And in the words of some anonymous commentator years ago, "what this country needs is more free speech worth listening to."

Have a good day and a great weekend. Be safe in the coming storm.

More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for January, 2022


It's hard to believe that an entire year of ass clownery has gone by, the 2021 Ass Clown of the Year has been voted in, and it's time to start shaking our heads in dismay at new pretenders to the crown. Time flies, doesn't it? It looks like this will be a good year for award-winning ass clownery on many fronts: a heavily conservative Supreme Court will probably take a scythe to many of our existing laws and protections, the January 6th Commission will issue a report that will detail shocking misdeeds by Republicans, who will ignore the whole thing and whine that it is an unjustifiable political vendetta, and the midterm elections come up in November, giving Republicans plenty of opportunities to deny the validity of elections they don't win. I predict major difficulties in my ability to limit ass clown awards to the usual biweekly presentations, and may need to resort once again to occasional special awards.

But that's all in the future. Today is January 14th, and it's time to present the first award of 2022. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, designation as

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for January, 2022


is bestowed upon

Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz (R, TX)


Mr Cruz, long the most despised member of the Senate even within his own party, gained new notoriety by plumbing the depths of political cowardice during an interview with Faux News opinion flamethrower Tucker Carlson* on January 6th. Cruz, who has described the violent storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as a "terrorist attack" at least 17 times, folded like a cheap card table when Carlson excoriated him for using that term. In a classic example of humiliating degradation in response to Carlson's badgering, Cruz described his own words as “sloppy” and “frankly dumb.” Carlson shot back that “What you just said doesn’t make sense,” and went on to accuse Cruz of playing into Democrats’ narratives.

Working diligently to cement his bona fides for this award, last week in his podcast "Verdict with Ted Cruz" he predicted that Republicans will impeach President Biden as political payback if they win back the U.S. House this year in the midterm elections, saying "I do think there's a chance of that, whether it's justified or not." He also claimed that "Democrats weaponized impeachment ... They used it for partisan purposes to go after [Der Furor] because they disagreed with him." He went on to note, in true schoolyard fashion, that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander." Unfortunately for Mr Cruz, the record clearly demonstrates that Der Furor was impeached not because Democrats disagreed with him, but because he tried to strongarm a foreign leader for personal political advantage (first impeachment) and because he tried to overturn the results of a presidential election by inciting an insurrection and directing a violent mob to disrupt the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes (second impeachment).

Mr Cruz has won this award five times in the past, although four of those were shared with others; his only solo award was his Right-Cheek Award in September, 2017. His behavior during the huge winter storm and widespread power outages in Texas last February, when he flew to Cancun with his family while his constituents froze, led to widespread condemnation and humiliatingly craven attempts to explain his actions. He was edged out of an Ass Clown Award at that time by the even-more-outrageous behavior of fellow Republican senator Ron Johnson and Der Furor's impeachment attorney Bruce Castor.   

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the first Ass Clown Award of 2022 is presented to a man with a world-class capacity for embarrassment and humiliation while performing as an elected official - Texas Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz. Sadly, no one has yet started a Go Fund Me page to purchase him a spine.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.

Bilbo

* Mr. Carlson, of course, has won three previous Ass Clown Awards on his own "merits," including the 2021 Ass Clown of the Year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Phoning It In ... Or Not


A few weeks ago, in the run-up to the most recent phone call between President Biden and Russian President Putin, NPR host Scott Simon commented that it almost seems unusual for people to make phone calls any more ... with the advent of smart phones, they text or send typed messages using any number of communication apps that dispense with the need actually to talk to someone.

It used to be said that nobody wrote letters any more, they made phone calls. Now, we've come ... well, maybe not full-circle, but at least part circle ... people still use their phones, they just use them to  ... write.

As many of you have cause to know, I enjoy writing personal letters to my friends. I like the immediacy of phone calls, too (as many of you also know), but there's a relative permanence to a letter that goes beyond the few minutes of the phone call. A letter can be tucked away to be read again later, a physical reminder of the depth of friendship and love that inspired someone to organize their thoughts, turn them into permanent marks on a page, and then pay the going first-class mail rate (58 cents per ounce as of today*) to send them. In the words of comedian Paula Poundstone,

“I enjoy writing letters to people that I love. I choose the stamps carefully. I put the envelope, or postcard, in the mailbox myself, so I can actually feel a little piece of my heart go with it."

People love to receive letters, although very few people love to actually write them. Our friend Marcel in Switzerland wrote back in his response to my Christmas letter, 

Die Schreiebkunst von Bill, die werde ich nie erreichen, dazu fehlen mir die Ausdauer und die Ideen. ("I'll never reach Bill's level of writing ... I lack both the endurance and the ideas.")

Over the course of the last month, I sent out more than 30 Christmas letters to family and selected friends. These letters, because of their sheer number, are the only personal letters I routinely type. I begin with a letter to my long-time friend Toni**, who always wants to know absolutely everything that has happened, then edit that master letter for each other recipient, depending on what I think they'd be interested in. I also write a version of the letter for our German-speaking friends (which is dutifully edited by Agnes to clean up my errors of grammar, spelling, and expression). In response, we received two letters which were actually original (from Marcel in Switzerland and from our friend Martina in Germany), as opposed to the generic Christmas letter most people send. Several other friends sent generic letters, but added hand-written extra comments.

Now, I'm not complaining, even though it may sound like it. I enjoy writing more than most people, and - being retired - I have the time to indulge it. If I write to you and you don't write back, that's okay ... I accept phone calls and e-mails and SMS's, if with a sigh. But I enjoy getting something other than bulk mail in the old mailbox, too.


Someday, my great-grandchildren and their children and grandchildren may want to learn more about that old guy named Bilbo who lived through interesting times*** and had a good life full of luck, fun, friends, and adventure. I like to think that the letters and the journals I leave behind will let them know about me, warts and all.

Have a good day. If you would like to have a personal, handwritten letter to liven up your mailbox, e-mail or PM me your mailing address. If nothing else, we can raise a paper finger together to Louis DeJoy before he finishes dismantling the postal system.

More thoughts coming. 

Bilbo

* Which is actually not a bad deal when you think about it ... how much would it cost you to travel there yourself to deliver 58 cents worth of information?

** We met 42 years ago at the baggage carousel in the Montgomery, Alabama, airport as we arrived to attend the Air Force's Squadron Officers' School. We have not laid eyes on each other a single time since the early 1980s, but keep our friendship alive via the annual Christmas letters.

*** That's supposed to be a Chinese curse, although it really isn't

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Poetry Sunday


2021 is gone, and we're still here. Most of us, anyhow. As we head cautiously into the new year, let's look back with Gary Johnson at what we left behind, and what lies ahead ...

Another Year
by Gary Johnson

Another year gone and the old man with the scythe
Is mowing closer. He hasn’t been subtle, has he.
Too many good people gone, and I could sit and cry
For them except that you look exceptionally snazzy
Despite the miles on your odometer,
As if you have a few more aces up your sleeve,
Maybe you were born under a lucky comet or
Maybe it’s the wine, but I do believe
When I look at you and take your hand you’re
Positively glowing. Maybe we’ve been sorry a
Long enough time and now we get some grandeur
And do our dance and sing our aria.
    May this year bring us before it has flown
    All we would have wished for had we only known.

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Cartoon Saturday


We've made it through the first full week of 2022, but not without the usual dents and scrapes ...

A huge winter storm that dumped as much as two feet of snow on the eastern seaboard resulted in a huge traffic jam on Interstate 95, with hundreds of motorists stranded in snow and bitter cold for hours; on the first anniversary of the deadly Capitol insurrection of 2021, President Biden for the first time specifically called out the responsibility of Der Furor for the violenceonly a single Republican - Representative Liz Cheney - chose to attend a moment of silence in honor of law enforcement officers injured or killed during the insurrection; Kazakhstan's authoritarian leader has ordered security forces to "fire without warning," escalating a violent crackdown on anti-government protests; and in Florida (where else?), a proposed new law removes the requirement for a dealer to transfer the title of a car to the buyer within 30 days ... meaning that an unscrupulous dealer can retain ownership of a car indefinitely, regardless of the sale.

For the first Cartoon Saturday of the new year, how about a salute to that far-right rallying cry of the culture wars, Mr ... or Mrs ... or just plain Potato Head ...

The best part of this one is the reaction ...  


Potato Heads don't necessarily make for good undercover agents ...


Uh, oh ...


I guess they've been to mash dot com ...


It looks like he remembered the important stuff ...


Alas for what might have been ...


Busted! ...


I don't think he can be saved ...


Potato Heads go back farther than you might think ...


If you're a witness, having a Potato Head as a suspect makes the identification a bit easier ...


And there you have it - your first Cartoon Saturday for the new year, and nothing half-baked about it!

Sorry.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Friday, January 07, 2022

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


Are you ready for the first collection of the new year? Too bad - I'm going to do it, anyhow ...

Why didn't they just say "seeds?" ...  


That's not a bad price for boneless cheese ...


Um ... I think I'll pass on this one ...


I wonder if the ASPCA knows about this ...


Okay, I won't ...


The refreshment stand at Der Furor's last rally ...


So, what is the RDA of babies and toddlers? ...


Can I try the limeade, please? ...


Lost dinner? ...


I wonder what the other half is ...


And that's it for your first collection of the new year! Why not make a resolution to keep an eye out for new examples you can mail to ol' Bilbo for future posts? 

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when we greet the first Cartoon Saturday of 2022.

Bilbo