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CSotD: History, philosophy, current events

We’ll start easy today, with a bit of trivia sparked by the current Vintage Radio Patrol, from November, 1948. In the strip — which, by the way, I read for its camp value — the criminals have taken over a legitimate used car lot and are re-selling stolen vehicles.

It would be another six years before automobile manufacturers would start putting registration numbers on cars, and it wasn’t until 1981 that VINs became standardized.

Up until then, once you took the plates off, a Packard was a Packard.

Which was the hot car of choice for rumrunners during Prohibition — fast, road-hugging and capable of carrying a heavy load.

It was SOP to steal a car and then, if you ran into a roadblock, you could simply jump out and run for the woods, because the car was untraceable.

FWIW, when New York began requiring drivers’ licenses in 1924, there were complaints about government overreach, but I don’t think anyone objected to being able to trace a particular vehicle.

And it did finally make it harder to set up a business selling hot cars.

 

This, from the Nib, is an important “fill in the blanks” story, because schools do teach that Harriet Tubman freed a lot of slaves before the war, and many go on to say that she was a spy and leader of raids during the conflict.

But this piece by Chelsea Saunders and Tristan J. Tarwater describes one of her operations, and it’s good to add to the narrative, because I’m not sure very many people are aware of what a total bad ass Harriet Tubman was.

For instance, it’s rarely more than a footnote that she only missed going on John Brown’s raid because she was sick.

It’s possible to nitpick their research. You should always be suspicious of black dialect, often an invention of white recorders, and Boadicia might dispute the “first military operation to be created and led by a woman.

But it brings Tubman more into focus, and we’re too apt to turn real people into plaster saints.

This is a good antidote.  Go read the rest.

 

And then Pat Bagley offers a sober personal reflection upon those who ignore the past in order to justify the cruelty of an amoral, selfish present.

Of course, you don’t have to go back that far. Within living memory, we turned away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and sent them back, nearly half to their deaths.

But for a Mormon politician in a largely Mormon state to ignore the violence and bigotry aimed at Mormons and the hardships they dealt with to escape to a better life makes this a far more powerful rebuke, particularly when printed in a Salt Lake paper.

I’m not sure it’s possible to make Jason Chaffetz ashamed of himself, but maybe the best you can do is make other people ashamed of ever having supported him.

Learn your history. And learn some compassion.

 

Philosophy

I’m often a little reluctant to send readers off to Existential Comics, because it can be kind of esoteric unless you majored in the stuff.

I didn’t quite, but my Liberal Studies major contained a boatload of philosophy, and, while I liked much of it, I hated theory of language even more than I hated metaphysics, being much of a mind with Dr. Johnson:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, ‘I refute it THUS.’

The cartoon’s send-up of sophistry cracked me up both on its own and due to my — and perhaps their — having wasted 10 minutes of my life that I will never get back, on this.

Which is pretty funny on its own, if you haven’t had to spend time in a seminar room with people who are dead serious about such things.

If you have, it’s apt to trigger Post-Thesis Stress Disorder.

 

And now, the News

I wish I could be more in tune with David Fitzsimmons‘ cartoon, because the revelations that the National Enquirer did catch-and-kill payoffs to keep Trump concubines from speaking out have been devastating to his defense.

But not to his reputation among the Deplorables, nor to that of the tabloids that were catering to them before they became a group with a name.

Anyone who wanted to know already knew.

Nor are liberals immune from this sort of willful ignorance.

The “revelations” in the Senate report of a Russian troll army pretending to be average Americans on social media are simply confirmation of what people who wanted to know already knew.

There were many reports about the Russian troll army during the primaries, but when the “Bernie Bros” began emerging, it was if those months of responsible journalism had never happened. Despite Sanders’ calls to support Clinton, plenty of her supporters were sure he had let loose his misogynistic hounds.

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer’s payoffs to Karen MacDougal emerged before the election, though apparently nobody saw it who didn’t want to see it, because it’s still being treated as news two years later.

I’ve long marveled that a supermarket that would put Playboy behind the counter will festoon their checkout lanes with publications that deliberately lie to and mislead the public.

But they do, and the idea that Enquirer readers will turn away because they were lied to is silly.

If they had the brains of a radish, they’d have figured that out long ago.

“They’ll be back”? Hell, they won’t skip an issue.

Meanwhile, Dear Leader thinks Saturday Night Live should be sued or investigated or something or other for daring to poke fun at Dear Leader.

As Ann Telnaes suggests, that and other recent news really make you wonder what he thought he was swearing an oath to do last January.

 

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