CSotD: Very random thoughts

Given that it’s Sunday, we’ll start with a Sunday cartoon.

Betty is something of an oddity, because Betty and her husband are Salt of the Earth types, which, in both Comics Land and TV Land, usually doesn’t involve terribly thoughtful humor.

However, the strip sustains a level of humor that is reflective, despite a strongly blue-collar vibe that you wouldn’t find in other thoughtful strips like “Arlo and Janis,” “Between Friends” or “Stone Soup.”

That’s not a knock on those other strips, just an observation: They portray a more suburban vibe, not as aggressively hip as people in the New Yorker, but still on a well-educated, white-collar level.

Betty and Bub are in a setting more like the Lockhorns or Mr Boffo, but without the kind of outside-the-mainstream vibe of those comics. That is, politics aside, Archie Bunker and Ralph Kramden have an island mentality, a sense of “You and me against the world.”

Betty doesn’t, and, despite his broken nose and lack of a real first name, Bub is not a screw-up like Riley in “Life of Riley.” In fact, he’s often, as in today’s strip, the voice of reason. He reminds me of my ex-father-in-law, a very smart and thoughtful tool-and-die maker who left school after eighth grade because his widowed mother needed the support more than he needed the diploma.

I don’t have a Grand Conclusion to all this, but I find it interesting. And I find Betty interesting.


This Nib piece by Josh Kramer adds some welcome numbers to the issue of the Republican push to turn the Census into a gerrymandering tool. It’s one thing to denounce it as such, but that graph of which states would be most effected by an intentional undercount of immigrants is good ammunition for arguing against the citizenship question.

But the editor in me blanched at “Latinx Americans” and I mean that metaphorically — I didn’t become even more white.

“Latinx” is a good way to avoid the gender choice of “Latino” or “Latina,” but the adjective “Latin” is not gender specific. “Latin American” is just fine.

And it’s necessary, I think, because both Spanish and Portuguese are romance languages, which doesn’t have anything to do with people playing guitars under moonlit balconies but means they’re derived from Latin, and you really can’t talk about “everything south of the Rio Grande” without including Brazil.

Please don’t anybody point out Suriname, because Dutch is a Germanic language and I’m sure that, if this were pointed out, we’d have to come up with an entirely new descriptor that didn’t exclude our Surinamese brothers and sisters.

Or, as I call them, our Surinamese siblings.


On a less sarcastic note, I find our general ignorance of Latin America kind of stunning. In fourth grade, we read about Pimwe the Jungle Boy who lived a very pre-industrial life in the Brazilian jungle, and Jose and Maria, who lived on a coffee finca in Guatemala.

But we still, even up through high school and beyond, were left with a sense that Conquistadors came over, subdued and enslaved the natives, and that was pretty much it, except for bringing in some addition slave labor from Africa.

The degree to which South America — particularly Argentina, Brazil and Chile — attracted European colonists is completely absent, such that it was quite a surprise when, during the Falklands War, Americans discovered that there was a lively English enclave in Buenos Aires.

And most Americans would have been flabbergasted when Peru’s troubled president had the last name Fujimori, if our media ever covered Peru in any way that didn’t involve llamas and pan flutes.

Incidentally, Suriname is about 14% Muslim. Dutch-speaking Muslims.

Chew on that for awhile.


But when you go to the Nib to read that explainer about the census, you should definitely also read Ruben Bolling’s hilarious satire of kid-detective stories in a modern setting.

He created it for the Nib’s print magazine, but they also posted it on the site and it will give you your best laugh of the day. Perhaps of the week.


I’m not a fan of obituary cartoons, but Mark Streeter did as good a job as you could with a Dr. John tribute that drew from his biggest hit.

I include this largely because I was surprised at how much Dr. John’s death rocketed around social media. He had a couple of pop hits, but I assumed his fans were mostly Sixties music freaks whose taste had matured along with his changes.

I saw him when I was 19 and he was in full gris-gris regalia, all capes and feathers and make-up, throwing glitter into the audience, with dancing back-up singers in voodoo costumes, and then I saw him again when I had just turned 30, playing alone on a stage with a piano, in street clothes, taking requests from the audience as if there were only 20 of us instead of 300 or so.

He was an entertainer and if he changed his vibe again, I’d go back to see whatever he had going on this time.

People have said he is gone too soon, but, while he wasn’t quite a decade older than I am, there’s no particular tragedy in checking out at 77.

As entertainers have long said, “Always leave them wanting more.”

Which he did.


Finally today, shame on Clay Jones for cracking a Uranus joke, but I’m never one to pass on an obvious straightline either, and Dear Leader has been dishing them out in an increasing rapid and ridiculous stream.


Well, yeah, it’s back to where it was a month ago, not quite as high as it’s been …


I’d still like to see his transcripts from Wharton.

Jones has a good essay on Astronomer Trump, but what I find most fascinating as we lurch towards the 25th Amendment is that Trump’s defenders are now reduced to “Well, you know what he meant.”

Indeed. He meant “I am increasingly incoherent, contradictory and ludicrous.”

True Believers are gonna stay true, against all evidence, even their own.

2 thoughts on “CSotD: Very random thoughts

  1. I’ve been in discussions with Latinx persons about that term, and one thing that came up is that they bristle at “Latin” the same way that Democrats bristle at “Democrat Party.” Partly, it’s that people raised speaking Romance languages are accustomed to noun roots requiring suffixes. Partly it’s because they regard “Latin” as something that went out with “Etruscan” or “Ostrogoth.”

    At this point, “Latinx” more or less identifies the speaker as someone under 50, so perhaps the word will come and go as is the fate of so many words to describe ethnicity. “Chicano” had its day, but seems to be out of fashion now.

    As is “Chicanx.”

    But what would we gringxs know?

  2. I’m not foolish enough to get into their thing, but, from within my thing, I remember a Cardinal and Monsignor traveling in support of Irish culture laughing over born-again Irish-Americans who came up with absurd Gaelic translations of their non-Gaelic names.

    Meanwhile, my experience in Colorado was that the more fluent people were in Spanish, the less obsessed they were with labels.

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