CSotD: 2 a.m. in the Sophomore Dorm

We’ll start with today’s Non Sequitur (AMS), a relatively gentle example of the sorts of ideas that emerge from the sophomore dorm at two in the morning.

But first, a definition of terms: As you may know, “sophomore” is a portmanteau of the Greek words for “wise” and “foolish.” Except that it isn’t. Here’s the Straight Dope on that. Still, it’s an excellent word to sport a bogus etymology!

I realized very early after arriving at college that sophomores were a source of puffed-up nonsense, proud to no longer be freshmen but without either the knowledge base or modesty of juniors, or, certainly, seniors.

Back in the days when many colleges housed students by class year, the sophomore dorms were where you would find these overly idealistic, overly self-assured geniuses debating high-sounding but astonishingly impractical concepts, often at 2 a.m. when the wisest of that wet-behind-the-ears lot had turned in for the night.

Relevant to Non Sequitur, the reason that first Superman comic is so valuable is that nobody set it aside.

“Collectibility” wasn’t a thing back then, and the notion of collectibility became self-canceling, because as soon as people began hoarding various items, they were no longer rare and thus no longer valuable.

Not Beanie Babies, not Trump NFTs and, no, not golden high-tops, either.

Granted, a $20 bill is only worth $20 because we all agree that it is. But the system behind that belief is a whole lot larger and stronger than the system which holds that an Emperor Star Wars action figure is worth anything at all.

You’d have to have a lot of Emperors in original, unopened boxes to pay for a single semester of college, much less get you to the profound wisdom of your sophomore year.

Juxtaposition of the Day

The Barn — Creators

Deflocked — AMS

It’s ironic or appropriate or something that these examples of those who don’t understand meteorology are both sheep.

Charles Warner Dudley’s observation, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it” dates back to 1884, a time when there wasn’t much you could do about it. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 sparked the birth of modern meteorology, because the development of faster communication had finally made prediction possible, if not perfect.

Only sophomores believe in perfection.

In 1963, my Earth Science classes did weather predictions, based on next-day delivery of national weather maps and on our classroom barometer. We did pretty well, without nearly the data that for-real meteorologists have at their disposal today.

The relevance to sophomoric logic being that current TV weatherfolks will lay out the facts and explain the variables and detail the potential outcomes and make their best predictions, but people still forget the six days they were “right” and dwell, instead, on the seventh day that one of those variables inserted itself and altered the likely outcome.

If you listen to how they explain their predictions, meteorologists are accurate, but people still harp on the idea that nobody knows what’s gonna happen tomorrow, a comfy old bit of faux wisdom passed down over the years.

If it were only a matter of hoarding action figures and getting wet in rainstorms, it wouldn’t matter much. But as Rabbits Against Magic notes, we love polls and people who respond to polls love to give answers, and neither pollsters nor poll-takers seem as well-armed as the TV weatherperson.

Polls show this and polls show that, but I haven’t seen a poll yet that shows which people answer polls and which let it ring through to voicemail.

But I’ve seen the same information that Jonathan Lemon used in creating this cartoon, which indicates that people will volunteer answers about things they didn’t know existed until the pollster asked about it.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of push-polls, in which two or three innocent questions lead to one so loaded with target language that you know exactly who commissioned it and what they plan to discover people think.

The challenge for political cartoonists comes when analysis becomes prediction, because while people may be influenced by the language of polls, and claim to agree with things they’d never heard before they were asked, they may be similarly influenced by cartoons that raise propositions they hadn’t considered.

And, after all, that’s the point of political cartooning: To raise questions and attempt to influence opinions.

The problem arises when a point is unclear and persuades people in an unintended direction. For instance, Adam Zyglis is correct that Biden’s response to the Gaza Crisis is shaking the faith of young voters.

I think most who lean towards the Democrats are troubled by the seeming contradictions, and I think, too, that it’s natural for young people to expect transparent, consistent policies, while more experienced voters wait — uncomfortably — for concrete developments.

Yeah, I know, David Cohen: We’re still waiting, very uncomfortably.

However, there’s no proof that Biden has lost the entire youth vote, as the cartoon suggests, which raises the question of whether Zyglis’s cartoon — which makes use of the anti-Biden ice cream trope — is analyzing or attempting to persuade?

Both comprise the duty of cartoonists, but consider the Rabbits Against Magic peer-pressure factor of people agreeing to agree with something they hadn’t previously pondered.

By contrast, predicting rain won’t make it rain.

Matt Wuerker (Politico) attacks Biden’s candidacy, agreeing with the Hur Report that Biden is failing.

But Biden has always been a fumblemouth while thinking clearly, and there’s no indication his age has changed that. He’s only slightly older than his opponent, he exercises regularly and his health is good (as his recent physical indicates).

Plus he doesn’t intend, if elected, to unleash the military on protesters, deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants, increase costs of imported items, make transgender treatment illegal, increase use of fossil fuels, promote prayer in public schools and empower local police to shoot shoplifters.

His opponent in the 2024 Election does.

Meanwhile, the notion of replacing him at this stage is pure 2 a.m. in the Sophomore Dorm thinking. It’s totally impractical. It can’t happen.

And if it did happen, it would all but guarantee defeat of the substituted ticket, while an accompanying voter boycott would hand control of Congress to the MAGAts.

What sort of country would these sophomores find themselves living in by junior year?

(This song came out my sophomore year.)

16 thoughts on “CSotD: 2 a.m. in the Sophomore Dorm

  1. Jimmy Kimmel polled some Trump loyalists last week about stupid and foolish things Biden did or said, let them answer, then told them oops! It was Trump. They each managed to flip their opinions without batting an eye.

    1. Having done “Man in the Street” assignments, I’d like to see an unedited tape to see how many people they had to question before they found the idiots who ended up in the final edit.

  2. MSNBC’s learned latenight host Lawrence O’Donnell has pointed out that, if somehow, the Democrats ousted Joe Biden as their candidate in favor of anyone Joe didn’t personally endorse, their replacement candidate would have zero dollars to run for president because that’s the campaign law. He could ask for his funds to be given to his replacement, but they’d otherwise need to start from scratch…which I suggest would be something of an impediment unless they found an independently wealthy sap who didn’t mind spending his own money. The only person who’d be covered in this would be Kamala Harris, who is already on the ticket, but I haven’t heard a single “anyone-but-Biden” genius suggest her as a last-minute stand-in. But dreamers gonna dream, I guess. Just don’t insist on any details once you’re awake.

  3. Hold on there. I need to point out that pointing out that Biden’s age is a potential problem is not “agreeing with” the partisan shot Hur took at Biden in his report. Nervous Dems are running around shooting the messengers, who are only pointing out that Biden’s age is potentially a big problem. All the polls are backing that up(a majority of Dems think he’s too old).
    It doesn’t mean taking sides with the Biden haters. There are a lot of Pollyannas who don’t seem to have learned the RBG lesson. As much as you might revere some long serving public figure, there comes a time to let the next generation step up. If only RBG had done exactly that we’d be living in a different world.
    My worry with Biden is the very strong likelihood that he could suffer a catastrophic brain freeze on camera, or stumble dramatically in a public setting somewhere between now and November…. and hand the election to Trump. Betting on the old guy’s health and stamina is a gamble, a big one….kind of like those who were so sure their ship was unsinkable and didn’t want to think about the potential icebergs ahead….

    1. Yes, I felt Mike’s characterization of your cartoon was off the mark, and I agree that the Biden campaign and the DNC need to take the electorate’s perception of Biden’s age *very* seriously. I’m not so convinced that it’s an insoluble problem, however, and while risk factors will remain transitioning to another candidate also carries risks. (A fair number of Biden opponents say things like “I worry about his age because President Harris would be a disaster,” for example.)

    2. Fair enough, but his physical (released after your cartoon) suggests he’s in good physical condition. All kinds of things could happen between now and November, and **** happens. Zachary Taylor was 65. Harrison was 68, Harding was 57. JFK was only 46, but look at the world we live in. And people can get run over by buses at any age.

      In any case, the issue isn’t what they should have done a year ago. It’s what has to happen now. I wish he’d been a one-term president, but we need to deal with what is, not with what might have been.

    3. Inserting it as an iceberg specifically is saying you find it to be an unavoidable failure state. Perhaps you should have used a different metaphor if you only meant to imply that it is still a genuine problem, even if it’s not unsurmountable?

  4. To paraphrase an earlier comment I made. This election is a squirrel circus. But, the squirrels have hand grenades. We are too close to driving over the edge of the cliff to replace biden with a more competent driver. tRUMP is ready grab the wheel and shoot everybody in the car. And, we are going too fast toward the cliff to safely jump out.
    Now, tell me how society isn’t a mostly failed experiment.

  5. One thing I’d like to know: if we’re living in a gerontocracy, why do we still treat old people like crap?

    Also, I’m not a life insurance company, but if I was, I’m pretty sure that I’d be charging higher premiums to a 77-year old man who lives on Big Macs and Diet Coke than to an 81-year old man who lifts weights five days a week.

    (It’s unfortunate that we don’t determine the presidency on the basis of athletic ability, otherwise track and field star Bernie Sanders would be president).

    Finally, I definitely hope no Catholics or Mormons are saying Biden is too old, when Pope Francis is 87 and Russell M. Nelson is 99.

  6. I’ll admit that I like to collect things, but I collect things because I like them.

    Not because I think they’ll get me a bazillion dollars someday.
    Also, these things tend to look nicer and are easier to store when kept in the original packaging.

  7. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who warned his constituents that the IRS would be coming for them with AR-15s, is 90, yet nobody seems too upset about it.

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