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CSotD: Culture Wars and Food Fights

We’ll start off the day with a really stupid idea and then you can judge whether we are moving up or down the scale.

Constant Readers will know that First Dog on the Moon is an avid climate change warrior, but will also know that he has no objection to shining a light on stupid ideas, such as a proposal to reanimate the Tasmanian Tiger. I was going to just add a link for those who don’t know about Tasmanian Tigers, but the article is interesting enough that you really should read it.

Howsoever, the animal’s impressive stature in both Tasmanian culture and native imagery doesn’t make reanimation a good idea. Some years ago, when proposals to reanimate the Wooly Mammoth were rife, one of my young writers interviewed a geneticist at the Denver Museum of Natural History who reminded her that mammoths went extinct for a reason and would not likely be able to live in the current world.

First Dog hints at this in that bottom left panel, and comes to the same conclusion my reporter did: We might better put some of that energy into preserving what we’ve got, given that the Earth isn’t becoming any more welcoming for them than it was for Tasmanian Tigers or Wooly Mammoths.

Though, if you could insert a gene to make the de-extinctified Thylacine eat only rabbits, foxes, cane toads and feral cats, you might be onto something.

 

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Pat Bagley)

 

(Paul Berge)

The old question “What are little girls made of?” has clearly entered the world of bigotry and ignorance, if those two terms are not entirely redundant.

The issue of gender dysphoria has become a magnet for hatemongers, to the extent where you have to wonder if politicians who wage war on transexual children are honestly that viciously ignorant or are simply ringing a bell they know will summon the pigs.

Call it the “Sooey Strategy,” a bookend to the “Southern Strategy” once employed to attract the votes of bigots.

Those flames, however, reach beyond the voting booth. Bagley cites a case in which parents whose daughters had been bested by another girl complained to the school that the winner must surely be a transgender boy.

The school, as indicated in this coverage, handled the complaints well, checking the child’s records and confirming that she had been enrolled as a girl since kindergarten. They didn’t confirm the child’s identity, sport or grade level to the press and certainly didn’t share her personal records with the accusing jackasses.

Still, it’s a chilling indicator of the kind of witch hunts we can expect, as political opportunists use fear and ignorance as a tool to get elected.

The “however” part of this is in Paul Berge’s cartoon and accompanying commentary, where he notes that Amazon Prime’s TV version of “A League of Their Own” is not, as the 1992 movie did, avoiding the fact that several of the women in the All-American Girls Professional League were lesbians. (Duh.)

Nor is the new adaptation avoiding what was only hinted at in the movie, that the team was, by choice, all white, as were the men’s teams in Major League Baseball.

His full essay is thoughtful and worth reading, and I agree with him that they should raise the issues without altering history. As it happens, the modernization of M*A*S*H got me to quit watching, and I could do an entire rant on the topic of fake-but-reassuring history in movies and television.

But Berge’s got the history covered, and Bagley is addressing the stupid bigotry issue, so we’ll move on.

 

I’ve differed with Steve Kelley enough times that it’s a relief to point out when we agree on something. Granted, his turning against Mehmet Oz would be more impressive if the Republican weren’t flailing and almost certain to lose.

It’s less a matter of speaking truth to power than one of bayoneting the wounded.

Still, if nominating a person from New Jersey for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania weren’t tone-deaf enough, having the candidate maintain dual citizenship in a Muslim country seemed unlikely to attract the MAGAts, and whatever disadvantages he had to start with, Oz doubled with a breathtakingly foolish campaign.

The capstone was his ridiculous fake shopping trip for what he calls “crudités” and everyone with an income less than a cabillion dollars a year calls “a vegetable tray,” in which he not only seems to recommend dipping raw asparagus in salsa but claims to be shopping at “Wegners.”

I don’t know how many people dip their asparagus in salsa, but there are 107 Wegman grocery stores and none of them are named “Wegners.”

Oz has explained that he was exhausted when he made that video.

Maybe he should eat more coffee beans.

 

As it happens, I’m also in rare agreement with Gary Varvel (Creators), because however we may all differ about what should be taught in schools, the fact of the school lunch (and often breakfast) is one good people should agree on.

 

My support of breakfast programs goes back to when we used to buy the Panther Press not because we wanted to read it but because it helped fund free breakfasts and food banks in poor neighborhoods. Like the meals at rescue missions in those days, the recipients got preaching along with the food, but the food mattered and that was where you could find it.

The town where I walk my dog has, in recent years, extended the school meals program throughout summer and made it available for anyone who needs it. And why not? Feeding kids seems it would be a fundamental principle in a civilized nation.

But the same political hacks who insist kids be born are equally sure they don’t need to be fed and so have cut the program.

 

Where are Huey and Bobby now that we need them?

 

We haven’t quite gotten to the point where being able to buy food is a luxury for the ultrarich, but Morten Morland tempers his hyperbole beautifully, with the difference being that we normal folks can only cautiously fill a basket while the rich guy can toss things willy-nilly into a brimming cart.

Including both asparagus and salsa. Can’t have one without the other!

 

Community Comments

#1 Andrea Denninger
August/19/2022
@ 8:01 am

And to add to the juxtaposition, this was in my InBox today, from The Nib . . .
https://thenib.com/on-patrol/

#2 Douglas Hawley
August/19/2022
@ 8:09 am

When I ran an after-school bicycle mechanics class, the majority of our budget went for pizzas. The parents were either in jail or gone working two or three jobs.

#3 George Walter
August/19/2022
@ 9:41 am

Each of us (and presumably each Tasmanian tiger) is an entire ecosystem of other life forms, many essential. Restoring a species presumably requires restoring that ecosystem. Quite a challenge.

#4 Richard V Hamil
August/19/2022
@ 9:42 am

On the issue of bringing back the thylacine, I disagree about it being stupid. Unlike the mammoth, the thylacine went extinct because of us. The issue with other species on the verge of extinction isn’t that there isn’t enough money it is that politicians and companies don”t care. Many animals can adapt if we are willing to allow them to live, it is that most people don’t want large carnivores as neighbors.

#5 Paul Berge
August/19/2022
@ 1:57 pm

Many thanks for the mention and kind words!

#6 Bob Harris
August/20/2022
@ 6:35 am

@George That’s a good point.

I was a minor contributor to the 2009 Thylocene genome paper (published in Nature), the goal of which was to understand what was different about the thylocene, not to create a living one. (The same was true of the 2006 Mammoth genome paper.)

In that research, the genome was “recovered” from hair taken from preserved samples in museum. Since such DNA is highly degraded many parts of the genome were not recovered and other parts certainly contain errors. How much is absent is impossible to estimate.

Advancements in gene editing techniques can’t change the fact that the template being used to reconstruct the genome is highly flawed.

To George’s point, the population of bacteria and other parasites that co-existed in and on a living Thylocene are not recoverable. Museum preservation (to my knowledge) focuses on skins and furs, not internal organs. Any bacteria living on the pelt when the Thylocene died were exterminated by the preservation techniques.

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