CSotD: Influenzial Humor

Politics are currently in a state of suspension, as Nate Beeler demonstrates. There are a lot of shutdown cartoons still out there, a day late and a dollar short, while others have gone to more general, less time-critical commentary while things sort themselves out.

I like Beeler’s cartoon, by the way. There’s a bit of Pee Wee Herman in our Dear Leader and I fully expect his next set of caps to read “I Meant To Do That.”


Nor would I dismiss those general, less-timely cartoons entirely, particularly when they remind me of llamas.

And the threat of influenza, and foolishness of anti-vaxxers, as seen in Michael de Adder‘s cartoon is quite timely.

The World Health Organization just named “Vaccine Hesitancy” as one of the 10 major health risks in the world, along with things like ebola, drought and lack of access to health care. Nor do you need to read their press releases to get the point: The papers are full of reports of measles outbreaks in places where measles prevention should be easy.

I don’t quite mind their ignorance about vaccines so much as their foolish belief that they are only putting their own children at risk. Not that this isn’t some level of child abuse, but it’s sorta kinda based on the idea that, in fact, vaccines are a good deal more effective than they are, since they’re apparently assuming their sickly kid won’t infect others who have been vaccinated.

Which, translated to flu vaccines, is where the llamas enter the picture, and I would direct your attention to de Adder’s fine illustration of a flu virus, because, while we all know that flu viruses are in a constant state of mutation, making each year’s vaccine something of a crap shoot, what you may not know is that this evolution happens out at the ends of those prongs. The stems upon which they rest are stable.

However, most antibodies are on a dual strand and thus are thick enough that they rest on the prongs, where they may or may not be effective, depending on the type of vaccine and the particular mutations.

By contrast, llama antibodies — I’m not making this up — are on a single strand, which is slim enough to fall down between the prongs and act upon the stems which, being stable, would be vulnerable to a universal vaccine not designed for a specific flu strain.

Scientists are currently working on ways to develop such a flu vaccine using llama antibodies.

It is a delightful bit of Arabic folklore that there are 100 names for Allah, but that mankind knows only 99 of them. The 100th name is known only to the camels, hence their enigmatic smile.

And now you know why their South American cousins have a similar expression.


Speaking of annoyingly self-satisfied smiles, I got a particular laff out of this morning’s Speed Bump not simply for the hipster reference but because I think that, if she can now learn to raise one eyebrow, that little lady is headed for Pixar stardom.

Every brave, smart animated little girl has that raised eyebrow and ironic smile and I suppose it is only so long before real little girls learn to imitate it, which is too bad because one should not slap the crap out of small children or even want to.

Wanting to slap the crap out of hipsters being another topic entirely.

Though to stick, for the moment, to the topic of sex-based film cliches, I would note that women warriors have mastered the physics of Ant Man, whereby, though they are small and svelte, they compress a hidden three-hundred pounds of mass into that sexy body, which you know because a 95-pound woman leaping into a 250 pound man would normally look like Wiley Coyote hitting the cave wall.

I assume their elevated specific gravity also explains how they manage to avoid falling out of their costumes.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Emily Flake, The New Yorker)


Speaking of things I’d like to apply some effective antibodies to, Marie Kondo continues her reign of terror, and Emily Flake nearly draws a cartoon I’ve been waiting for, only she doesn’t insist that her husband get in the bag.

It has occurred to me that some cartoonist will eventually draw Spouse 1 saying to Spouse 2  “You no longer spark joy in me,” but it has also occurred to me that, if Spouse 1 is the woman, it will be yet one more example of (yawn) Hostile Wife Syndrome, upon which mediocre cartooning careers have been built, while, if Spouse 1 were to be the man, it would simply reveal him to be a cad, upon which ditto.

So I wasn’t so much looking forward to it as anticipating it, much as I anticipate sub-zero weather this time of year or, for that matter, influenza.

Flake did well to avoid getting personal, because it made me think, rather, of a friend who, as we were both turning 50, suddenly filled the trunk of her car with what fit, donated everything else to Goodwill and hit the highway for the West Coast.

The best part was that, unlike the woman in the cartoon, it wasn’t rage so much as a sense of “anything is better than this,” and I admired the fact that she didn’t wait for rage to set in.

That is, it was not an escape, but a new adventure.

Meanwhile, Macanudo reminds me of my own breakup, though the specific issue of pets boiled down to who was staying in the house we owned, and who was going to be dealing with landlords.

The interesting thing was how little went in that overlapping ring, and how petty most of it was: A favorite kitchen utensil, for instance. Nothing major.

It occurs to me that, in these days that music and photographs are no longer physical objects, it would have been even easier.

It was, indeed, a step best taken before rage set in.

We’ve each, both, had some good adventures since.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Influenzial Humor

  1. C’mon, be fair re: Marie Kondo. The whole joy-sparking thing is a poor English translation of what she’s really saying, which is more along the lines of “Do you really need all this crap?” Ive never been one to own a lot of stuff — I once famously could get everything I ever wanted from life, including the cats, in a 71 VW beetle. Maybe now it would take a VW van, but the sentiment remains. We all have too much stuff, and Kondo-bashing is just an avoidance technique not that dissimilar from the anti-vaxxers claiming they’ll be just fine without their flu shot.

    I like Kondo’s approach. It makes you a bit more ruthless about how much you own your stuff and how much it owns you.

  2. Tyson — that’s the way to frame it. You managed to make the gag without featuring the finger-pointing moment. Well done.

    Sean, I’ve had to sit through far too many “here’s how to organize your life” sessions to have any patience left. The thing these energetic missionaries miss is that not everyone wants to be saved. Whatever works for you is fine. But we don’t all want to be you.

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