CSotD: The Dagnabbit Files

I laughed at this New Yorker cartoon, though they don’t bother crediting their cartoonists and if you Google “New Yorker cartoonist CAB” you find out how many times they’ve made fun of taxis. It might as well be signed “pigeon” or “Chardonnay.”

Whoever drew it, it got a chuckle, but it also got a flinch for something unrelated to the point of the gag.

While I try not to be a grammar nazi, those signs bug me. There are rules about speculation against fact — Tevye sings “If I were a rich man,” not “if I was a rich man” — and the signs should read “Drive as if your child lived here.”


I like the concept, but I correct it in my mind every time I go past one, and they’re everywhere.

Michael Ramirez (Creators) touches on a related but more serious issue that provokes a related but more serious dagnabbit.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote a guest column in the Washington Post (gift link here) about the dangers of social media for young people and has issued an advisory on the topic for those who want to dig deeper.

Certainly, parental responsibility is part of the issue, and we can start with the fact that only responsible parents will bother pondering the matter in the first place. That’s not “dagnabbit.” That’s “duh.”

Which is why Murthy made a particular point of it in his column:

Murthy is right: It’s not just that the stuff is out there, but it is geared to attract and then to hold an audience. Companies spend multiple millions of dollars to keep viewers and players engaged, and there is no Hays Code, no Comics Code Authority to set limits on what they can offer and how they can do it.

There’s a weak-kneed, voluntary letter code to warn parents, but (A) give me a break and (B) how effective would it be even if it were effective?

Parents who gave a damn went through this a generation ago.

Riley had a TV and VCR in his room, which was an indulgence 23 years ago, but even if his grandfather hadn’t allowed it, even if he had monitored, confiscated and burned every R-rated movie Riley was able to get his hands on, then what?

Keep him home so he’d never go to a friend’s house and watch Gladiator there? Send him to a school where none of the kids have seen Gladiator?

And it’s only become worse. When home computers came out, advice to parents was to put the computer in a public area of the house so you could walk past and see what was on screen. Smartphones have long since put an end to that.

Also, in case you didn’t know, there are companies helping kids use their phones undetected during class. The field is tilted.

In any case, you can keep your kid from having a Smartphone, but for how long? And towards what end?

I wish I’d copied it, but someone posted this the other day: Remember the most embarrassing thing you did in the seventh grade. Your friends who were there at the moment laughed, but it was over and nobody remembered it past lunch.

Now imagine that someone had caught it on video so the whole school could see it, and posted it on Tik Tok so the whose world could laugh at you, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month. Imagine that you became known as That Kid.

To which I ask what the hell difference would it make whether or not you had your own cell phone?

It’s a different world, and not a very nice one.

There’s a reason we have speed limits in neighborhoods. “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here” signs may be necessary, but they are far from sufficient.

“Parental Responsibility” alone is similarly ineffective.

On a lighter yet related note, Barney & Clyde (Counterpoint) reminds me of the time I did a Career Day at an elementary school and they put my table next to the drug-sniffing dog. Classes would come through one at a time and stand in front of my table staring at the dog and waiting for me to shut up so they could go visit him.

During breaks, I visited him, too. He was a big, deep-coated German Shepard and just as nice and kind and friendly as a dog could be. This was also his last gig; Turns out assistance dogs have a relatively short active life of maybe six or seven years, beyond which they lose interest in sniffing out drugs or guiding blind people or whatever.

So his handler was going to take him home and make him his personal dog, which made me think that I was glad not to be 17 years old and dating the guy’s daughter. There’s a difference between being retired and forgetting your skills entirely.

At least, I hope there is.

I’ve been hoping someone would come up with a good cartoon about how Putin has added a bunch of Trump’s opponents to the list of Americans under Russian sanctions, but the closest we’ve come has been a battle over the Durham Report, between people who think it proves everything about Benghazi and Vince Foster and her emails, and those, like Darren Bell (KFS) who think it was a big fat nothing.

I’ve heard a couple of analysts — who cheated by actually reading it — say that nothing true in it is new and nothing new in it is true. Which adds up to the aforementioned nothing, dagnabbit.

Anyway, maybe it’s just a coincidence that Vladimir Putin hates the same people Donald Trump hates but it sure smells like “the enemy of my friend is my enemy.”

Cui bono, dagnabbitus.

For my part, I miss the days when presidents kept their own lists of enemies. Richard Nixon may, as Herblock suggests, have put himself above the interests of the United States, but at least he didn’t expect Alexei Kosygin to hoist the Soviet flag up there.

Nixon was also a lot more organized. Jeez-Louise, the critics were right: It was more of an insult be left off the list than to be placed on it!

16 thoughts on “CSotD: The Dagnabbit Files

  1. I’ve been trying to track down info on “CEP” who drew for the Davenport Democrat a century ago and I’m running into lots of dead ends. Sign your name, CAB

  2. Before the phones and before VCRs, tobacco companies were marketing to kids. Whenever there was discussion, the companies claimed it was entirely the parents responsibility to keep kids from smoking.

    Same unfair fight. Same results.

  3. Without the context I thought Michael Ramirez’s cartoon was saying that the best way to protect children from social media is to keep parents off of it. Seeing how the “digital natives” have a much better nose for lies than the people who are raise them.

  4. I feel like there isn’t a way to say “It’s the parents’ responsibility to x” in response to any problem without coming off sounding like a judgy b*****d. Blame too many years around self-righteous church ladies.

  5. Great gag!
    CAB could be a team, but I’m not 100% sure who that is.

    Ronny Chieng had a great bit about ten years ago about trying to explain the internet to his Mom over the phone. Now the definitive “helping parents with tech over the phone” bit. (Starts around 3:50, but the rest is great.)


  6. I just finished watching the excellent Disney+ series based on Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel, AMERICAN BORN CHINESE where, indeed, our protagonist Jin Wang’s embarrassing mishap in front of his whole school is put online, making him the object of local an national ridicule. I’m happy I lived in an easier time when it was far easier to escape anyone’s notice that I was, once and always, an awkward geek–though I wonder if I’d be secretly proud that someone found me of enough interest to actually shoot video of me, no matter their motive.

  7. Darrin Bell actually did draw a cartoon about Trump’s enemies being the target of Putin sanctions.

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