CSotD: Confronting, or possibly avoiding, reality

Constant Readers will not be surprised that this Bizarro (KFS) made me laugh.

The pun itself is good: The way gibbons and some other apes get around by swinging their long arms is “brachiating,” and one of the rules of puns is that it has to work.

He will, of course, now ask the gibbon a question and there will be a pause of several seconds while the gibbon stares into camera during the lag between studio and location. The gibbon will then begin its answer by saying, “Sure” or “Right” or “Yeah,” because broadcast majors are apparently taught to begin each answer with one of those words.

And speaking of lag time, the pun also works because “breaking news” has become meaningless. I regularly see news channels highlight “breaking news” six hours after I read about it on-line.

Which brings to mind that someone complained on-line about misuse of “exclusive” to describe an interview with Bill Barr, who has been peddling his book on every conceivable outlet. Apparently, “an exclusive interview” these days simply means you’re the only person in your office that he’s talking to.

“Exclusive” has no meaning when there are so many information outlets that the competition for eyeballs has degenerated into a game of monkey see, monkey do.

To which I would point out that there are no monkeys in the above cartoon.


Just, as Nick Anderson points out, on the real news.


Man Overboard offers a gentle look at a massive failure by applying an old story to the current crisis.

You can nitpick it, of course, because, in the story, the other dog is imaginary while Ukraine is very real, but the essential concept holds up, of losing what you’ve got in pursuit of what you were never going to get.

And the idea that Putin’s inner circle knows he screwed up but is afraid to tell him directly almost certainly holds up.

In the old days of the Soviet Union, the Politburo would, by now, have frog-marched him out of the Kremlin and onto the next train to the gulags, but that bureaucracy was dismantled 30 years ago and Putin further isolated himself when he came to power.

A touch of germophobia added actual, physical isolation and that ridiculously long table, much beloved of cartoonists because it provides an instant metaphor.


Andy Davey, however, notes that, if the average Russian soldier has any sense of history, he knows by now what they have blundered into: Stalingrad remains a powerful symbol of the Russian peoples’ willingness to absorb pain rather than surrender.

It’s not simply how they defeated Hitler — at a cost of millions of lives — but it’s also how they defeated Napoleon. Kutusov refused a suicidal confrontation and let the French armies take Moscow, leaving behind a scorched earth void of provisions but full of partisans. Stalin did much the same.

Though I can’t be too snarky about Putin’s failure to learn history. I graduated from high school in June, 1967 and didn’t know about Russia’s role in World War II until I visited the Soviet pavilion at Expo in August. As far as I knew, the “Eastern Front” was a running joke on Hogan’s Heroes.

Still, I’ve had enough contact with Russians since to know that they’re all very much aware of the price their parents and grandparents paid in the Great Patriotic War.

Except, apparently, Putin.


Tom Stiglich (Creators), meanwhile, is assuming that his American audience was paying no attention at all in math class, since he posits a situation where people are afraid to leave a place where 14,000 people have died in the past two and a half weeks in order to live somewhere that a person is killed every three days.

Fun fact: Philadelphia and Kharkiv are the same size, but it is estimated that 2,000 people there were killed in the initial assault. Which, by now, has likely achieved an annual death toll of even more than 100.

Really! Do the math!


Life in Philadelphia is nearly as frightening as living in the Rio Grande Valley, where hospitals are being shelled, buildings bombed and Central American tanks are roaring through the streets of Brownsville and El Paso, according to Bob Gorrell (Creators).

Well, perhaps not quite, but, still, he wept because he met a man with no feet, which made him realize he had no shoes.

Though he, himself, has plenty of shoes.

But he’d heard there are people without shoes, who want to pick his vegetables, butcher his hogs and clean his motel rooms.

Damn them!


Juxtaposition of the Day


(Pat Bagley)


(Matt Wuerker – Politico)

Meanwhile, back on Earth 1, cartoonists explore the issue of sanctions and oil prices.

It’s a fascinating topic, because we’re dealing with a genuinely confusing issue, starting with the label Bagley adds to his cartoon: Big Oil.

“Big Oil” can certainly mean American producers, and I’d love to see their inner communications revealed the way we got to see the plotting that went on among tobacco companies for years.

What we do know is bad enough, as this Guardian piece notes, tracing the impact of advertising, including Mobil’s groundbreaking effort to place opinion-targeted ads in national newspapers and magazines, particularly the NYTimes, in which this 1984 advertorial ran:

It’s not quite as blatantly dishonest as the way tobacco companies conspired to set up the phony “Tobacco Institute” to release false scientific studies that cast doubt on the health risks of smoking, but perhaps that’s only because nobody at the top end of their industry has suffered a pang of conscience.

And you can’t call it a conspiracy without that smoking gun.

“Big Oil” is not an American entity, much as the concept may summon images of JR Ewing, and the multinational nature of the industry means that Joe Biden does not dictate the price at the pump.

Bagley is correct that Big Oil will cheerfully profit from the crisis, but Wuerker is closer to the fact that there are few heroes, and few choices, in how it all works.

And, BTW, saying we shouldn’t have become so dependent on oil is like telling an abused spouse she should have married someone else.

Accurate, but hardly helpful.

Oh well.

I think I’ll screen “Unbearable Lightness of Being” again.