Sunday, December 08, 2019

Poetry Sunday

Every once in a while, a poem speaks directly to me. This is one of those ...

The Learning Curve
by Louis Jenkins

There are certain concepts that I only vaguely under-
stand but that people talk about all the time. You
frequently hear the term "learning curve," for instance.
I suppose that refers to how one learns a new skill or
gains knowledge over a period of time, described as an
ascending arc from zero (knowing nothing) to ten, the
zenith (knowing all there is to know about a thing). Then
comes the gradual descent, the arc of forgetting, back
to zero. Then, feet firmly planted on the ground in the
batting box of ignorance, the learning curve ball comes
whistling past and slowly you come to understand that
once again you are out.

Nowadays, it seems like we Americans - all of us - have "[our] feet firmly planted on the ground in the batting box of ignorance" and are watching that curve ball zipping by. I hope we do better come November.

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


Saturday, December 07, 2019

Cartoon Saturday

Dear Gawd, just make it stop ...

A Saudi Arabian military student armed with a handgun murdered three people and wounded several others at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, before sheriff’s deputies shot and killed him; in France, police, lawyers, hospital and airport staff, and other workers joined teachers and transport workers in a general strike sparked by unpopular pension reforms proposed by the Macron administration; Senator Kamala Harris has dropped her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, leaving the democratic field lacking in the diversity with which it hopes to appeal to minority voters; the Senate approved the nomination of Federalist Society-backed conservative lawyer Sarah Pitlyk as a federal judge, despite a lack of trial experience and a rating of “not qualified” from the American Bar Association; and Federal law enforcement officials have filed criminal charges against two Russian nationals who operate a hacking organization known as Evil Corp., a group said to be responsible for one of the most sweeping banking fraud schemes in the past decade.

With the level of sputtering anger in Congress as high as it is - despite some members quaintly referring to each other as "The Gentleman" or "The Gentle Lady" - and the insistence in some quarters on going back to "originalism" or "original intent," you have to wonder how soon we'll be getting back to settling differences the original way - by dueling. And so, this week a collection of cartoons about settling differences the way gentlemen used to do it ...

In 2019, you can duel and still meet your fitness goals ...

It's all how you look at it ...

I'd feel guilty, too ...

A clever ploy ...

Duels in the age of polling ...

It's important to make sure it's done right ...

Probably so ...

I think this is how it would work out in Congressional duels ...

Another approach to combining fitness and dueling ...

This is exactly how it would be decided in Congress ...

And so it is for the first Cartoon Saturday of December ... we'll see if Congress brings back real, as opposed to hot-air, duels.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns.


Friday, December 06, 2019

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for December, 2019

There are so many ass clowns in so many different walks of life that I feel sad when I focus on those in the realm of politics, because it seems as if I'm shortchanging all those others who are worthy of recognition. Nevertheless, I'm turning again to the world of politics because one particular ass clown has been screaming - literally - for attention.

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for December, 2019

is presented to

Representative Jim Jordan (R, OH-4)

Representative Jordan is one of the most strident and full-throated defenders of Der Furor in Congress, and he was brought into the House Intelligence Committee to replace Representative Rick Crawford (R, AR-1) in order to energize the GOP defense of the president. His style of questioning witnesses in Congressional hearings is loud, rapid-fire, caustic, and usually insulting, and his assignment to the committee was designed to please Der Furor, who appreciates - indeed, thrives on - aggression and insult.

Rep. Jordan projects an "angry everyman" style, using a glowering facial expression and showy body language to create an image of righteous anger and refusing to bow to House tradition and wear a jacket and tie to business, choosing to appear only in a shirt and tie, with the tie pulled down and the top shirt button undone.

Rep. Jordan's participation in the impeachment hearing was clearly intended less to provide clarity and a search for truth and more to provide showy theatrics and sound bites while browbeating and insulting witnesses unable to respond in kind. He, and the other GOP members of the committee, asked no questions designed to ascertain the truth of the charges against Der Furor - their sole purpose was to attack the process, demean witnesses and Democratic colleagues, and muddy the waters to keep the American people from learning the truth.

As it happens, Representative Jordan is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, giving him yet another platform from which to berate witnesses and thunder his anger not at the actions of Der Furor, but of the perceived evils of those who seek to bring him to justice.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Readers, The Right-Cheek Ass Clown Award for December, 2019, is presented to the eminently-qualified Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a man whose demeanor and style are antithetical to the traditions of the People's House. He's earned the opprobrium of men and women of good will everywhere.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Musical Sunday

Today is the first of December - there are 24 more days until Christmas, and we're entering the season we usually associate with such antiquated concepts as peace on earth and good will toward men ... at least, those whose political ideas align with our own.

Today, some enriching Christmas music to start us off on the season ... from the Piano Guys, their version of "Angels We Have Heard on High," or "Christmas with 32 Fingers and 8 Thumbs" -

Welcome to the Christmas season!

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


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Cartoon Saturday

If we can just get through today, maybe the new month will be better ... or not ...

Der Furor made a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan ... unfortunately, he came back; two people were killed and several others injured in a stabbing attack on London Bridge and several others were injured in a stabbing attack in The Hague, delighting Second Amendment advocates who can now trumpet examples of mass attacks not using guns; in an attempt to stave off further bloodshed, the Iraqi Prime Minister has agreed to step down; the new airport in Berlin, Germany - originally scheduled to open in 2012 - has a new official opening date: October 31, 2020; and scientists have discovered a black hole so enormous that, according to all know scientific principles, it shouldn't exist ... the latest theory is that it is the storage site for Der Furor's tax returns, traditional Republican principles of government, documents denied to Congress by the administration, and flamed-out Democratic presidential candidates.

You know what they say: you've gotta have art, miles and miles of art ... so how about a collection of cartoons about art for today ...

Early phase, for sure ...

Where looking at dirty pictures is allowed ...

The old bait and switch ...

It doesn't really work like this, does it? ...

You saw this one coming ...

The scream ... for real ...

The it seems like most museums nowadays put the most important stuff up front ...

Pointillism or pixellation? ...

Creative block period, ha, ha ...

Throwback Thursday ...

Yes, that was the last one ... do I have to paint you a picture?

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, on Musical Sunday. See you then.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Good day-after-Thanksgiving morning! If you are snowed in, or need some time to get over your food coma before going out to hit the stores for Black Friday, take a few minutes to peruse this week's collection of gems ...

This one isn't really an editing and signage blooper, but it was just too good a packaging decision to pass up ...

I know that a lot of people in various Mideast countries marry very young, but ...

The cafeteria in the Capitol is stocking up for the long hours of the impeachment hearings and trial ...

It was a slow night at the dispatch desk ...

I can't quite figure this one out, but it's too bizarre to let pass ...

I've had this problem as I get older ...

I've had this dish at some low-rent Chinese restaurants ...

Give that headline writer a raise ...

At least she called back ...

When you hire the least-expensive applicant for that copy writing job ...

Have a good day and a safe, happy Thanksgiving weekend. If you're traveling, be careful in the weather-affected areas ... I need you all.

More thoughts coming.


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been writing this blog since 2006, and some of you - masochists that you are - have been reading it for almost all of that time. You've learned many things about me over the years, one of which is that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In a crazy world in which we too often focus on fear and negativity* and the material things in life, it's good to have a day on which to sit back and reflect on the things for which we can be truly thankful.

We’re living in a time when it’s easy to be distracted from things for which we can be thankful, because there is so much going on that is awful. For me, this year the awful things included:

A presidential administration and its unquestioning partisan supporters that continues to ruin America's standing in the world, coarsen our political discourse, and undermine the health, safety, and security of the American people;

The horror of realizing that many Americans accept frequent mass murder - even of little children - as an acceptable price to pay for the unrestricted "right to bear arms;" and

An administration that relentlessly works to undermine our legal system, our voting rights, and our fundamental institutions of government.

On the whole, though, it’s been a pretty good year. Although there have been negatives, I have to consider myself a lucky man for a lot of reasons … such as:

The patient and long-suffering love of a beautiful and endlessly talented wife;

Three loving and successful children of whom I am proud beyond all measure;

Six adorable, intelligent, talented, and loving grandchildren;

A large and loving extended family;

A comfortable retirement**;

A roof over my head***;

Good health†;

Good friends;

The good fortune to be able to live in the United States of America - a country which, for all its faults, gives me the opportunity to enjoy all of the above;

The ability to write what I wish in this space without worrying about government censorship††; and,

The ability to enjoy the good things of the world that would be denied by those whose harsh and intolerant worship of a jealous and angry God ignores the beauty and possibilities of the present in favor of rigid belief in an imagined paradise in an unknowable future.

I have many things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, and it's only proper that I should take a few minutes to acknowledge that I am, as ever, most richly blessed.

I wish all of you, Dear Readers, Friends, the very happiest and safest of holidays.

Have a good day. Give thanks for the good things you have and the bad things you don't. And stay out of the stores tomorrow ... you'll thank me.

More thoughts tomorrow, when we offer a new collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage.


* Yes, Mr Trump and the GOP, I'm talking to you.

** So far, anyhow.

*** As long as we keep up the payments.

† Until the GOP succeeds in gutting Medicare, anyway.

†† Yet. Given Mr Trump's attitude toward the First Amendment, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Poetry Sunday

We're almost here ...

by Linda McCarriston

Every year we call it down upon ourselves,
the chaos of the day before the occasion,
the morning before the meal. Outdoors,
the men cut wood, fueling appetite
in the gray air, as Nana, Arlene, Mary,
Robin—whatever women we amount to—
turn loose from their wrappers the raw,
unmade ingredients. A flour sack leaks,
potatoes wobble down counter tops
tracking dirt like kids, blue hubbard erupts
into shards and sticky pulp when it's whacked
with the big knife, cranberries leap away
rather than be halved. And the bird, poor
blue thing—only we see it in its dead skin—
gives up for good the long, obscene neck, the gizzard,
the liver quivering in my hand, the heart.

So what? What of it? Besides the laughter,
I mean, or the steam that shades the windows
so that the youngest sons must come inside
to see how the smells look. Besides
the piled wood closing over the porch windows,
the pipes the men fill, the beers
they crack, waiting in front of the game.

Any deliberate leap into chaos, small or large,
with an intent to make order, matters. That's what.
A whole day has passed between the first apple
cored for pie, and the last glass polished
and set down. This is a feast we know how to make,
a Day of Feast, a day of thanksgiving
for all we have and all we are and whatever
we've learned to do with it: Dear God, we thank you
for your gifts in this kitchen, the fire,
the food, the wine. That we are together here.
Bless the world that swirls outside these windows—
a room full of gifts seeming raw and disordered,
a great room in which the stoves are cold,
the food scattered, the children locked forever
outside dark windows. Dear God, grant
to the makers and keepers power to save it all.

Have a good day and enjoy the rest of your weekend. Think about Thanksgiving, and not about Black Friday.

More thoughts coming.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Cartoon Saturday

Just pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep.

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York says he is stepping back from royal duties because his embroilment in the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal has become a "major disruption" to the Royal Family; Der Furor visited an Apple factory in Texas this week and claimed credit for opening it ... although it's been in operation since 2013; Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has found evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key document related to the FBI's request for surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser enough to change its substantive meaning; in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, State Department Russia expert Fiona Hill urged lawmakers to stop peddling a “fictional narrative” of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election because it helps Russian efforts to sow political divisions in the United States; and Der Furor pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

This week, in the face of endless protests in Hong Kong and, with less violence but more vitriol, here at home, how about a collection of cartoons about the signs we carry in protest?

It may or may not be near ...

Nowadays, I think I'd go with the optimist ...

Give it time - he'll turn out to be an economist ...

What happens when the protest fatigue sets in ...

I think we're all doing it ...

This would be my day-to-day, all-purpose sign ...

Pay attention, now ...

This one is more accurate than most ...

Yes. Yes, it is ...

You can always be philosophical about it, and take a Matrixed approach ...

It's been a bizarre week, and I hope Cartoon Saturday has helped you get over it. Heaven knows we need the boost.

Have a good day and a great weekend as you start preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday ... which, for a number of reasons, my family will celebrate today. Can you smell the cooking aromas?

More thoughts tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns.


Friday, November 22, 2019

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for November, 2019

This time, it's easier than usual.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for November, 2019

is presented to

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

I spent 23 years as a commissioned officer in the Air Force, serving in both staff and leadership/command positions before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. While I would never claim to have been a paragon of leadership skill, I did try to practice one clear principle: always support the people who work for you. You are responsible for setting the example, providing guidance, and - perhaps most important - having their back when things are tough.

This important principle, however, is completely absent in the current administration, the road behind which is littered with those tossed under the bus when they were perceived to be a potential liability. The best current example is set by Secretary of State Pompeo who, seeing his career State Department personnel insulted and belittled by Der Furor and his enablers, has consistently refused to defend them. In the face of relentless, insulting tweetstorms and misleading - when not downright false - accusations, Secretary Pompeo has remained silent, allowing dedicated public servants to twist in the foul wind blowing from the White House and Capitol Hill. One would expect better from a man trained at West Point and with five years of experience as an active duty Army officer.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Readers, in a social and political environment that cries out for sound, principled leadership in the face of unfair and malicious attacks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sets the standard for what not to do, and is named as our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for November, 2019.

Don't look to this Administration for leadership ... only the demand for unthinking obedience.

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