CSotD: The Lion Always Gets His Share

Sunday’s Rubes (Creators) brought to mind an African folktale whose more precise origin I can’t remember, of the lion, the hyena and the jackal forming a partnership to hunt together.

They were quite successful and ended up with a great pile of game. Lion directed Hyena to divide it up for them, and he made three equal piles. “Explain this division,” Lion said, and Hyena replied, “This pile is for Jackal, this pile is for me and that pile is for you.”

With that the Lion roared and attacked Hyena, sending him screaming away in bloody flight. Lion then ordered Jackal to make the division.

“The division is already made,” Jackal said. “This pile is for you, this other pile is for you and that pile is for you.”

Lion was pleased. “How did you become so wise?” he asked.

“I watched what you did to Hyena.”

The story of the Lion’s Share brings us to this more contemporary story in Non Sequitur (AMS).

I went to college in South Bend, Indiana, a few years after Studebaker, a major employer there, went bust, which included the dissolution of its pension system. As a result, you saw old women — widows of Studebaker employees — flipping burgers at an age when they could barely shuffle around behind the counter, or acting as maids in the dormitories.

It was sobering, but Congress stepped in and passed a law guaranteeing pensions, though not retroactively.

Some years later, the company I worked for dropped their pension system in favor of a 401k in which they would make a 2-for-1 match for whatever I invested.

Later, it became a 1-for-1 match. Then it became a tax-deferred savings account to which Corporate contributed nothing.

So if you see someone my age searching for loose change on the beach, think of Hyena and Jackal, to whom Lion offered a similar opportunity.

Betty (AMS) had an excellent story arc about AI, which begins here.

She nailed it in this episode, and as someone with a large number of friends and business associates who are “art nerds,” I have to say I liked AI better when it was producing people with three arms and seven fingers and suchlike, because what I’m seeing on social media now is harder to distinguish from hyper-realistic art. Though I didn’t like it back when it was easier to pick out, either.

Each technological advance hurts someone. Mechanical looms hurt weavers and printing put a lot of clerks out of work. For decades after photography began, newspapers and magazines couldn’t print photos and relied on artists to convert them into detailed drawing, but that era soon ended.

Still, there was always a difference between Margaret Bourke-White or Ansel Adams and your cousin with a Brownie camera, and nobody would mistake a photograph for a Chagall.

AI, however, is busily destroying the joy of finding an amazing photograph, because any jackass with a computer can order up the sort of image a real photographer might wait a lifetime to capture.

And today’s Betty shows a genuine threat to the cartoonists who have discovered second careers in children’s books, though I got a laugh out of her reaction.

On one level, Sturgeon’s Law is an eternal truth: Ninety percent of everything is crap. That certainly applies to children’s books written by celebrities, which have the sales potential of a mayfly. Good work survives.

Then again, compare the 1966 Chuck Jones version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with what Ron Howard produced in 2000 or any version of “Alice in Wonderland” with whatever that was that Tim Burton extruded.

Improvements in technology cannot replace art, even in competent hands.

What will our great-grandchildren be reading when publishers discover they don’t have to pay artists or writers anymore?

Maybe, if we raise them right, they’ll be wandering in the woods like the rebels of “Fahrenheit 451,” carrying ancient copies of real books and wearing hand-spun, hand-woven artisanal clothing.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Bliss — Tribune

Candorville — KFS

First of all, there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who interrupt people to correct their grammar or usage and those who grit their teeth and focus, instead, on the thoughts being expressed.

That’s a concise explanation of why people despise grammar nazis, and, as someone who has made a living with words, I’m allowed to say it.

The example in Bliss, however, also brings up an issue of journalistic ethics, because when someone makes such an absurd error, your choices are:

  1. Print it as they said it, which is often a sneaky way to make someone you dislike sound stupid.
  2. Use the quote, but correct the usage, which is dishonest.
  3. Sigh and scrap the quote as unusable, and try to get by with a summary instead.

However, in private conversation, it is my position that interrupting someone with a correction is rude, and particularly over something as pedantic as ending a sentence with a preposition, which is one of those fussy, made-up rules that doesn’t reflect the English language.

As it happens, Churchill didn’t coin the famous quote on the topic, but the Quote Examiner not only looks at the matter in depth but cites an example from a 1944 Australian newspaper that ropes in Harry Bliss’s gag as well:

Also, while it’s obvious in print, I defy anyone to distinguish “could’ve” from “could of” when spoken, which is no doubt the source of the error.

I defer to the master, and he must be right because I read it in a book:

I wish Mamet were wrong in this Deflocked (AMS), but I, too, have noticed how ice cream has changed over the years, and was even witness to one part of the degradation.

Ben & Jerry’s used to have a bodacious stockholder’s meeting each year that included free ice cream, booths from a variety of non-profits and, the year I attended, Maria Muldaur.

However, at that meeting, they asked stockholders to approve a poison-pill to keep the company from being acquired. The investors, despite their Birkenstocks and overall grooviness, voted it down amid complaints about wanting to get dividends.

The company was acquired in 2000, and is now being sold again and welcome to the straight world.

Sigh. I remember when drug stores dispensed the real stuff:

9 thoughts on “CSotD: The Lion Always Gets His Share

  1. All right–I must admit I was very happy to see a paw print bumper sticker that said “Who rescued whom?”

  2. The Man from the Bliss/Martin panel would make a good Paladin (Richard Boone)!

  3. Long ago, my grocery store had ice cream, in half gallon packages. And also, imitation ice cream, ice milk, and imitation ice milk.

    I never tried any of the other three, but people bought them.

    1. We used to get ice milk, but that was back in the late 70s when companies still made some effort towards quality. It was a low-fat alternative, kind of like sherbet in ice cream flavors.

  4. The obvious problem with A.I. is that while previous technologies replaced dull, tedious jobs, A.I. threatens to replace the fun, creative jobs.

    Before long it’ll be like WALL-E where all humans do is sit around and eat and mindlessly consume media made by robots.

    Again, a bunch of dirty kids living in the woods may just be our saving grace.

  5. THE BRILLIANT MIND OF EDISON LEE has had a’corporate takeover’ story for the past week, where the cartoonist was fired and A.I. was presumably used to create the replacement characters and bland dialogue. I’d love to know what prompted this. John Hambrock tossed out the pseudo Edison, who announces that he has an audition at Disney’s at 3:15.

  6. Every night, Little Johnny’s father would read him a bedtime story. Then Dad got a big coffee-table book all about Australia, titled “Down Under.” Dad loved that book, and every night he brought up the book to read to Johnny, who soon grew very tired of it and made his displeasure well known. He asked Dad to bring up any book but that one. Sure enough, that night Dad carried up the big Australia book. Johnny said, “What did you bring that book I don’t want to be read to out of about Down Under up for?”

  7. Sometimes, commas can work wonders. I just spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out how “Mechanical looms hurt weavers and printing”

  8. Re: Malapropisms… I’ve recently noticed a rash of incidences on various media of folks confusing “exasperated” and “exacerbated”. Suppressing the urge to correct that particular stinker is a little exasperating…

    But the all-time classic was surely when Australian Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, campaigning in 2013 to replace Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, attempted to diss him by declaring to the media pack that “No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced … is the suppository of all wisdom.”

    * Rudd, incidentally, is currently Australian Ambassador to the US. His name came up recently when UK politician/broadcaster Nigel Farage interviewed DJ Tr*mp regarding the Julian Assange plea deal. Tr*mp, who had seemingly never heard of Rudd, dismissed him thusly: “I don’t know much about him. I heard he was a little bit nasty. I hear he’s not the brightest bulb. If he’s at all hostile, he won’t be there long.” Sounds like King Doris is all set to ascend his gold-plated throne.

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