CSotD: The New Normal

Peter Brookes joins the ranks of cartoonists who are posting what you might call “stiff upper lip” cartoons, which are intended less to critique and comment as they are to encourage.

Which, by the way, is permitted. These are quite different than the celebratory “We won the World Series!” pieces that follow local triumphs, and, for all the “Stay Calm And …” cartoons out there, there is really no obligation to be clever.

I’ll admit to a bit of prejudice in this case, since I have a son who is a nurse, as is his Significant Other. I checked in with him last night and, while New Hampshire is still mostly bracing for the actual onslaught, he’s busy enough and certainly concerned enough.

And convinced enough that there really will be an onslaught, although our state seems to be dealing with things intelligently.

He has always been one of those people who are compelled, not just by their job descriptions but by the personalities that made them choose those jobs, to run towards the danger rather than away from it.

It’s perfectly fine to express a bit of gratitude, and borrowing Churchill’s words isn’t a bad way to do it.

Meanwhile, when I phoned my other son, the teacher, I happened to catch him at his neighborhood park, and he said there were more families there than normal, perhaps because so much of what kids do today is organized — gymnastics classes, organized sports, etc. — and therefore closed.

His school has just begun to figure out their distance-learning system, and they’re fortunate to have put Chrome books and iPads in the hands of their students, but they still have to figure out how much seat-time is appropriate, because, while American schools are more rigidly scheduled than in other countries, kids still get to stand up, walk around and socialize with each other between lessons.

And his wife, a college professor, finds her distance-learning issues complicated by the fact that sending students home — aside from the international students who need to remain on campus — involves having them wind up in a variety of time zones.

That being somewhat the opposite of my stepdaughter’s experience, since, for her, going from in-person priest to hosting services on-line not only served her local congregation, but brought in parishioners from her previous parish on the opposite coast — three hours away and nearly a decade in the past.

It certainly makes my own issues seem petty: My publication is becoming a weekly book review, since the other things the kids normally report on are closed.

Even there, adjustments are being made: We heard from one publisher offering downloads of new books to review, cutting the delay in having to mail them first to us, then to the kids.


Point being that, while Steve Kelley is not getting it wrong, there are a lot of people doing things right.

Mind you, mocking fools is still part of the cartoonist’s job, and, while I like the way Brookes salutes those who are getting it right, I also like the way Kelley makes fun of the selfish and panic-stricken.

Our grocery stores — and I suspect yours — remain full of people who are stocking up to avoid ever having to go out again, and I accept their fear but wish it didn’t extend to clogging the checkout lanes.

I’m also seeing longer lines at the self-check, apparently people who are under the impression that having one more person touch a can of beans would somehow put it over the limit.

Someone asked on Facebook how many people handle a package that’s coming from Amazon, which suggests that things you buy in stores just magically fly from the factory production line straight to the shelf.

Someone else posted information of how to handle an unopened Amazon box safely, which made me wonder how they handle everything else in this contaminated world.


Though I suppose there’s some comfort in the whole “untouched by human hands” concept and we should choose our friends accordingly.

By the way, as long as we’re transforming due caution into catering to germaphobes, it’s more hygienic to dry your hands with a paper towel than to use an electric hand dryer.

But I guess you should then use the towel to open the restroom door, after which you and your hands must re-enter the fetid cesspool of fear.


Again, this isn’t intended to deny the actual risk, which Pat Bagley demonstrates with a quick primer on geometric, rather than arithmetric, growth.

However, there needs to be a balance between sensible caution and foolish panic, and I’ve been reminded lately of people who freaked out back in 1979 when Skylab’s orbit was decaying, one in particular who feared to go outside lest it hit her on the head.

It didn’t seem constructive to point out that the thing weighed 85 tons, so that, even if she were indoors, it would squash her like a toad on the highway.


On the other hand, as Mike Peters points out, the gang at Fox News has succeeded in undermining the realities, which not only mislead a lot of Deplorables, but their Dear Leader and biggest fan as well.

They’ve belatedly changed their tune, as has their devoted student, but there still remain a lot of deniers on social media and they’re not all posting from Russian troll farms.

The over-cautious may be a bit silly, but they’re only a minor annoyance, while the fools at the other end of the scale represent a threat to public safety.

Speaking of which, as Ann Telnaes points out, another toxic panic at the moment seems based on the likelihood — demonstrated by primary turnout — that a furious public intends to turn the rascals out, forcing Chairman Mitch to encourage older rightwing judges to retire from their lifetime appointments, so he can pack the federal benches with younger, more durable fascisti before he loses control of the process.

Now, there’s a disease we should have nipped in the bud a couple of decades ago.

Back, y’know, when America was Great …



One thought on “CSotD: The New Normal

  1. I normally don’t use the self-checkout, unless I have just one or two items, but I will the next time I go to the grocery store because the checker is a lot closer than six feet to the customer aisle. Also, it keeps someone else from touching your grocery bags.

    If that seems paranoid, maybe it is, but we do know that grocery store workers and Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive, so using caution with that Amazon box might not be that stupid either.

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