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Bizarro is brought to you today by Superstition.

Here are two cartoons again, since I’m still playing catchup. The first one means nothing, I just wanted to play with the term “fancy pants.” Lately I’ve been playing with comics that are just silly, not particularly clever or witty. It’s fun sometimes.

The next cartoon is about politics in general and wasn’t really meant as a defense of Obama per se, but it was taken that way by at least one angry genius. Here is the email I received from him:

It must be hard to write a comic strip while holding obama’s PECKER in your mouth. I don’t remember you taking up for bush. Maybe you should make a comic about a hypocrite cartoonist who can’t leave politics out of the funny papers. Never mind, you already do that. Idiot.

And my response:
Thanks for the note. You’re right, I never took up for Bush, he was a retarded cowboy who could scarcely finish a sentence, much less lead a country. Obama is a brilliant man with a great deal of dignity, compassion, and respect for our constitution. Though I don’t agree with many of his policies, at least he is not utterly destroying America at home and abroad, as “W” most certainly did. Not a matter of opinion, a matter of historical record.

By the way, I’m not required to leave politics out of the funny papers. You seem confused about that point, as well as the meaning of the word “hypocrite.”

I rarely answer emails like this one in anger, but this guy seemed to need a slap in the face. I know he didn’t care but it made me feel better to write it. I’m only human.

>Airport Monkey Business

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Hair at First Sight.

This cartoon was inspired by the laughable system of security that we have adopted at U.S. airports since 9/11. I’ve long thought that it was designed primarily to create an “appearance” of safety so as to calm travelers and a couple of airline pilots I’ve spoken to in recent years confirmed that. A couple of weeks ago, while a small bottle of distilled water that I was carrying to keep my cigars humidified was confiscated by security, the guy who put a car bomb in Times Square was allowed to board a plane unmolested. He was on the No Fly List and was sought by every law enforcement agency in the free world, but at least he didn’t have a bottle of water.

If you fly as much as I do, you cannot help but just shake your head at the idiotic structure of the T.S.A. I’m convinced that the only reason a plane hasn’t been victimized since 9/11 is because nobody with any brains has tried very hard. One of the pilots I referenced above told me they consider T.S.A. to stand for “thousands standing around.”

On to lighter subjects, here’s a look at the old “a million monkeys typing” theory. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed finishing it and moving to the couch for a nap.

>Prehistoric Diplomacy

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Prehistory.

I’m happy to say that this was a very popular cartoon, judging by the mail I received. I thought of it as a purely visual gag but as it developed, it became a nice statement about the way different people think. Some of us try to solve problems with cooperation, logic, shared information and common interests, others want to use a hammer. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from there, political and otherwise. One could easily see this as a cartoon about foreign policy, of course.

Cutting it short today, it’s 80 degrees and sunny in Brooklyn and CHNW and I are hopping on the motorbike and heading to Coney Island. Not for the roller coaster or freakshows, but the ride out and back will be grand. Hope things are sunny and freaky where you are.

>Smart Apes

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Ebony and Ivory.

Is there nothing to see here? Really?

One might have thought that there was nothing much left of racism in America until recently. Racism is a very primitive impulse, at one time in our distant past, it was beneficial to distrust those not from your “tribe.” And while most of us have evolved to see the foolishness in that kind of thinking in modern society, there are still plenty of us who operate from the primitive parts of our brains. This kind of grunting, chest-beating throwback to our hairier ancestors rises and falls throughout history and so I suspect that this current wave, too, shall pass. Let’s hope no serious casualties result in the meantime.

I often wish that “intelligent design” were true, so that our species might behave more intelligently.

This cartoon has nothing to do with racism, of course, it’s just been on my mind lately. Tomorrow, a funnier post.

>Laws of Nature and Beyond

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Better Living Through Force.

I haven’t much to say about this GPS cartoon other than I hope everyone understood it. The idea was that the GPS led them to a cliff above their destination, then instructed them to drive off the edge. It seemed funny when I thought of it, but I’m not sure about the final result. I like GPSs but I don’t like the voice. I prefer to just use the map part, like the one on my phone, and find my own way. I don’t trust the robot voice to always know the best way.

At long last I am back in front of my computer where I belong. I went to Florida this past weekend with CHNW. I was hired to do a speech for a humanist group down there, the Center For Inquiry folks, and had a great time. Good people, smart questions, laughed a lot, took me to lunch after. What’s not to like?

After the talk on Saturday, CHNW, her dad and I drove to an interesting little place called Ybor City where we hit some shops and had a beer. In old timey times there was a big cigar factory there where hundreds of people hand-rolled cigars all day. The tradition continues as there are cigar shops all over the place and a few people sitting in storefront windows rolling away. If you’re into cigars, this is a real treat.

This pic at left was taken with my iPhone and I think it turned out pretty swell.

Even if you’re not into cigars, it is strange to see so many smoke-friendly establishments within
the borders of our law-infested land. Smoking is so uniformly despised in the U.S., even outdoors, that walking down 7th Street in Ybor City feels more like Cuba than Florida. I often get chastised by friends and fans for smoking cigars, but I try to be considerate. I usually smoke at home and never smoke around crowds of any kind unless I’m walking quickly. I figure if my passing by with a cigar is enough to set someone off, they need more help than anti-smoking laws can give them.

Lots of things annoy me momentarily in public – bad music, mullets, cologne, confederate flags, cigarettes(they smell very different from cigars because they are crap tobacco and full of chemicals), people wearing fur, the smell of someone’s fastfood, people who talk too loud on cell phones, defenders of Dick Cheney, the way everyone but me drives – but I just figure that’s the price of leaving my house.

I cannot imagine a society in which we legislate against everything that briefly annoys someone. This encyclopedia of signs at a playground in Sarasota springs to mind. Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

>The New West

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Safety.

For those readers who have not visited a state in which it is legal to carry concealed weapons, this is a sign that you see with some regularity. It is alarming to people like me, who are not used to seeing this kind of thing.

CHNW (my Crazy Half-Nekked Wife) was visiting family in South Dakota recently and we were chatting via cell phone one day while she was out shopping. She read a sign like this one to me as she was entering a store and I offhandedly asked if there was a pile of guns next to the door. Hence, the cartoon.

I don’t usually get cartoon ideas from real life situations since most of my cartoons are more surreal than reality. But in this case, not much exaggeration is needed to make this surreal. If I lived in a community in which a lot of people were toting guns, I’d likely be tempted to get a gun to protect myself from all the guns. Seems like a slippery slope.

Without getting too political, if you look around the world at countries where guns are plentiful and unregulated, it is hard to find one you’d even want to visit, much less live in.

>Civil War


(To make it a bigger picture, click the right femur of the character in the red shirt.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Smatmobile.

I loved the Smart car the very first time I saw one in Europe in the late 90s. I tend to like small, unusual vehicles of any kind , so it’s pretty much made for people like me. I haven’t owned a car since I moved to NYC, but if I did, this would be one I would consider. Although I should say I know nothing about the quality of the car, I just like the size and look of it. It may be crap, for all I know. (And in any case, I prefer motorcycles and scooters over cars.)

I think one of the most interesting things about the Smart car is, however, that it evokes anger in certain people. I have personally heard several say they would like to crush them or flip them over. I have felt similar hatred for SUVs, but it is because they are a kind of blight on the earth. They use more gas than necessary and so help to keep us dependent on Middle East oil, they tear the roads up faster because of their weight, they are a traffic hazard because you can’t see around them, they contribute to traffic congestion because they take up so much more space, same with parking. Hating Smart cars, on the other hand, seems to be simply a symptom of the growing culture war in the U.S.

I think about this culture war all the time and can think of no reasonable end to it. Could be we are headed for another civil war. Progressives wouldn’t have a chance in such a war, we don’t already have stockpiles of weapons and we are less brutal by nature. If it comes to that, I guess we’ll all move to a more civilized place and leave the country to the Glenn Becks. Perish the thought.

>Death Controversy

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Ways To Get Arrested in the Park.

When this cartoon published a week ago, I got a flood of emails from angry readers. What I thought was an innocent albeit surreal take on an old expression – death with dignity – was seen by many to be a jab at the political movement to secure a person’s right to physician-assisted suicide. Unbeknownst to me, (because I don’t pay much attention to life outside of my own tiny world, I suppose) there is a law in Oregon about this called the Death with Dignity Act.

This topic doesn’t get much press here in NYC, at least not that I’ve noticed, so I didn’t actually think about this when doing this cartoon. I don’t mind offending people with whom I disagree if I feel strongly enough about a topic, but I hate offending people by accident, especially when I agree with them in the first place.

I’ve long supported any person’s right to end their life when they wish to, especially in situations of chronic pain and illness. I think that denying this fundamental right of self determination is superstitious, archaic, and cruel. The sad truth is that even if a person is in excruciating pain, has no chance of survival and decides completely of their own sound mind that they want to end their life, anyone who aids them in any way can go to jail. As I understand it (and correct me if I’m wrong) in most states even if a person attains the means to do this on their own, anyone present while they do it can go to jail. So a person who somehow gets hold of enough pills to kill themself wants to go peacefully, surrounded by family and loved ones, they can’t unless everyone in the room is willing to head to the slammer. Instead, their only option is to die alone, climb out of a window, hang themselves, blow their brains out, whatever they can manage in their condition. Of course, most people just choose to waste away slowly in agony because it is their only legal option. This is the law’s idea of “respect” for human life.

So I spent a couple of days writing apologies to various readers and making statements to various groups and I think I’ve straightened it all out. I certainly hope that if the time comes that I want to check out of this life with some dignity, the law allows me the freedom to do so.

>Glory To The Internets

A reader pointed me to this extraordinary page. I pass it along to you without comment, for now.

Placing the cursor over a person will provide a description of that character on the right. Be sure not to miss the group of people in the lower right corner.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

>Scary Health Care Reform


(click on the image to enlarge)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Two Sides of the Aisle.

Because of the cartoon above, I got a lot of hate mail from readers who are against government-run health care and/or are regular viewers of Fox News. I thought I’d spend a couple of minutes today explaining my position on health care reform, not as any kind of expert, of course, just from my vantage point as one who cannot afford health care in America.

I make a decent amount of money, but I’m not rich. I’m also self employed, so no one provides any kind of insurance for me, I have to buy it. Health insurance costs vary from state to state, but here in NYC, the cheapest I can find for my wife and I, with a large deductible, is over $1000 a month. That’s another mortgage payment each month, into the pockets of super wealthy insurance execs, in all likelihood for nothing. Statistics show that if I ever want to use that insurance there is an excellent chance they’ll find a way to deny me. That’s how they make their profits. My wife had serious brain and heart surgery when she was 20, so just about anything that happens to her now will be called a “pre-existing condition.” You can bet on it.

So here I sit, a reasonably famous guy who makes a decent living, unable to afford to get sick. Sure, I can afford the occasional doctor’s visit or prescription, and do, but if either my wife or I are ever in an accident or get a serious disease, we’re out of luck. We can’t afford insurance and we can’t afford to pay for the care. So we die.

This is clearly an unfair system tilted heavily toward the corporations running it. This dilemma does not exist in any other wealthy nation. Government run health care does. And it works. It’s not perfect, but anyone who has spent any time going through America’s current health care system knows that it is far from perfect, too. Most people describe it as a nightmare.

Yes, it is popular in the U.S. to be fearful of the government, and throwing around scary words like “socialism” is a very effective way to herd people in the direction you want them to go. There has virtually never been a time in human history when this kind of tactic did not work. But all of the top nations in the world are a combination of socialism and capitalism, including ours. Medicare, Social Security, VA hospitals, welfare, public schools, road repair, anything you pay taxes for is a form of socialism. Some people imagine it would be better if none of those things existed and we all got to keep all our money and just “pay as we go” for these services, provided by private companies. But history shows that private industry is just as likely to screw up and cheat the consumer as any government. A combination of socialism and capitalism works best, which is why it is so prevalent worldwide.

A public, non-profit health plan provided by the government is socialism, yes, but no moreso than Medicare or Social Security (which have worked well for decades, despite Fox News’ inaccurate reports of their impending bankruptcy), and will not interfere with your option to pay a private insurer through the nose and take your chances when you make a claim, if that is your choice.

If you’re getting your information from Fox News, that is your right, but you are kidding yourself if you think it is anywhere close to “fair and balanced.” Any number of independent agencies and studies have invariably clearly shown FN is guilty of habitual misinformation, routine and obvious inaccuracies, and a consistent support of the will and benefit of a handful of the world’s most powerful corporations, who already have far too much influence in Washington.

Simply put, Fox News is not journalism, it is propaganda. And not because their opinion disagrees with mine, because much of what they say is demonstrably false, and always supports the narrow interests of a small handful of the uber-wealthy. Millions of Americans are being tricked into fighting for the very corporations that threaten our freedom and welfare. When every other large news agency in the world is saying something is bright and Fox News is the only one saying it is dark, especially when the ten wealthiest and most powerful people in the world are selling light bulbs, be very suspicious.

People opposing health care are afraid the government will control their lives. Right now, huge corporations control our lives by controlling our health care and virtually every other aspect of our lives. At least I can vote against a government. I have no recourse against CEOs.

Your opinions may vary, that’s fine. I’m just hoping there will be a way to afford to go to a hospital before I actually need it.

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