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That Thing
I can’t
It is

Or why
I am
For it

I don’t
Know when
I had
It last

Or where
I most
Store it

In fact
I don’t
Know what
It is

Nor how
I know
It is

All I
Know’s that
I am
Here now

But that
My mind’s
Gone a-
Think Again
If asked, most of us would say we have common sense. Some of us might even be a little insulted by the question. These people might assume that only very stupid people don’t have common sense.

That, however, would be a silly assumption — as those of us who have at least some common sense could have told them. Common sense isn’t about brains. Or cunning, or verbal alacrity, or even logic. It is connected to experience, though…and human wisdom at its most fundamental level.

The term “common sense” has no particular academic meaning. It’s nothing more than vernacular for sound judgment when it comes to basic, practical matters. It appears to be activated on an almost intuitive level, as if analytical thought does not participate at all. The mind considers its own life experience holistically in reaching quick, reliable conclusions. We might even view it as a natural survival mechanism.

Or so it seems. None of us can be sure of exactly how the human mind functions. What we can see, however, is that such subliminal judgments are sometimes overridden by our analytical self. In such cases it doesn’t seem to matter whether common sense has produced a sound judgment or not. The rational mind just can’t leave it alone. Instead, it moves to replace perfectly good conclusions with more intricate explanations of reality. “Overthink” is the popular term.

Not that common sense always gets it right. Sometimes the complex, laborious thinking of science can step in and cancel good old common sense with irrefutable proof. Thanks to that kind of thinking, we no longer entertain the common sensical belief that the Sun revolves around the Earth. What once seemed obvious is now seen as a quaint foolishness.

Outside of the rigors of the scientific method, however, such appropriate cancellations are rare. Take the Deep State, for instance. Those who believe there is such a thing defy the common sense conclusion that nothing so huge and so secret could last for more than a day or two. Such folk do not rely, however, on anything like the scientific method for their proof. Most of their “evidence” (if you dare to trace it at all) is composed of dark suspicions. Those suspicions, in turn, are supported by well-documented coincidences that spiral off into infinity. None of this evidence would be admissible in a court of law, much less as part of a careful scientific inquiry. Classic overthink.

But that doesn’t stop the conspiracy buffs. It is my belief that everyone has common sense. In fact, day-to-day life could be very difficult if we didn’t have some semi-automatic system for assessing situations and moving on quickly. Other animals (who do not have our analytical capacity) seem to use something like common sense in order to facilitate their quick decisions…and so survive. They do not, so far as I can tell, subscribe to conspiracy theories.

Perhaps we should admit that our human intellect, for all its impressive accomplishments, has a few weaknesses. Unlike common sense, it shows a susceptibility to emotion and other non-rational motivations. As a licensed armchair psychologist, let me name a few. Wish-fulfillment is certainly one, though I can only guess why someone would wish for the existence of the Deep State. Maybe folks are desperate for any explanation of events, no matter how unlikely, if the alternative is a world filled with uncertainty. Or perhaps they want to be hip and in-the-know. Or maybe they’re just wrapped too tight for the real world.

Or it could be laziness. People often resort to cynicism as a way of dealing with a chaotic world. “It’s all rigged anyway” is a great cop-out if you’re looking to avoid responsibility. If everything is controlled by unseen, all-powerful forces, then you are off the hook for doing anything about it. These people are not conspiracy buffs, however. They just want a convenient excuse not to be bothered — which is a perfectly good survival mechanism in itself. And way preferable to overthink.
We Have a Winner
I am not a Game of Thrones devotee, but that does not prevent me from having very strong feelings about the characters, the story arc, and the opinions of those who do watch the show. (In the interests of transparency: I did watch for a couple of seasons, but all the torture and graphic cruelty proved to be too much for me.)

So, where to begin? How about with Jon Snow? Everybody liked him, then he died. But the next season, he comes back to life. I’m sorry, but that’s when GoT lost me for good. If characters can come back to life, then all the killing is just a meaningless orgy of violence with no real consequences attached. Since no one is ever really dead, the crime of murder in Westeros is just another event and neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Once I realized that, even the dragons weren’t enough to keep me going.

The driving question behind the endless plot of GoT, of course, is Who will win the Game of Thrones? Now, since I stopped watching back when the dragons were still youngsters, all I have to go on are the headlines I see each Monday after the most recent episode has aired. I don’t bother to read the accompanying articles, but I see enough to know that Arya Stark, for instance, has come back from total blindness(!), and is now a serious player in the race for the top spot. That puts her right there with Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and practically everyone else who’s a continuing character — including the “dead” ones.

I’ll give you my prediction, but first let’s rule out the losers. Blondie the dragon whisperer is too obvious; never pick the most obvious choice. None of the Starks, either; they have been a hard luck, doomed clan from the start. The Lannisters family is also out (despite the adorable Tyrion); they’re just too ordinary as fantasy fiction rulers go.

For awhile I thought the winner might be the Night King — especially if you were to buy my theory that the character should really be called the Night Queen because he’s a she. Check out his/her perfect nails and somewhat diminutive build. Anyway, a victorious female would be a satisfying conclusion, and the switcheroo at the end would make all this suspense worthwhile.

I have backed away from this idea, however, and I think you know why. So that leaves us with the only credible choice remaining. Who’s as smart and wily as any of these other characters? Who would you obey as king without question? Who’s been in almost every episode, and who commands your undivided attention in every scene he’s in?

Drogon, of course. Drogon the dragon. No? You just watch (even though I won’t be).
The Wrong Arm of the Law
Maybe I’ve been watching too many of those British mysteries on the telly. In those stories, the slightly dotty sleuth is always able to sort through a haystack of clues and false leads to find, at last, the needle of proof that sends the wrongdoer to the nick for keeps.

Real life, as I have recently been reminded, is not like that. Robert Mueller, though he seems to be quite thorough when it comes to haystacks, does not appear to have come up with that elusive needle. Not for a conspiracy with the Rooskis, anyway. It may in fact may be there, but if it is, he couldn’t find it. That he didn’t find it does not establish Trump’s innocence or exonerate him or prove it was all a hoax. The guilty, in real life anyway, sometimes go free.

Collusion, on the other hand, was abundantly established long ago. Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians and the President’s subsequent efforts to cover up the purpose of that meeting have long ago proved that wrongdoing. But collusion is not a crime. It is simply “plotting, intrigue, or connivance.” That, we have here in spades.

But that’s not what Inspector Morse would be looking for. Conspiracy, with its very particular (and difficult to prove) legal definition, is the crime we’re talking about, and conspiracy is what Mueller could not find proof of in the haystack. Not enough to convict, anyway. We might suspect, as I do, that there was a conspiracy, but we haven’t got the proof. All we have is suspicion, and that doesn’t count for much — unless you’re into conspiracies, which I am not. I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for instance, are running a child prostitution ring out of Comet Pizza in D.C., or that the Deep State is in league with them. I’ll leave such theories to the fevered psyches of the right.

Still, the Miss Marple in us is left to puzzle over some alarming behavior by Trump when it comes to Russia. How do we explain that he apparently continues to accept the word of Putin over the findings of our highly trained, and demonstrably patriotic intelligence professionals? What was that fawning, beta male behavior in Helsinki all about? Why has he done nothing — nothing! —about the Russian corruption of our elections that is so thoroughly detailed in the Mueller probe? Why does everyone in Trump’s orbit have one lie in common, and that lie is about talking to Russians? I have no real proof that Bad Vlad has something on our President, but it still remains the most viable hypothesis in answering these questions.

Hercule Poirot might be very happy, however, with the trove of evidence for our President’s felonious obstruction of justice. Unfortunately, however, we may never get to that satisfying ending we’ve come to expect from TV whodunits. Mueller’s report lays out the crime with sleaze to spare, but we are denied our outcome by DOJ policy. He done it, alright, and we’ve got the needles to prove it, but it seems we are not permitted to indict a sitting President.

And then there’s Attorney General William Barr. As much as I try, I can’t imagine what motivation he has for misleading the American public. An abiding love for DT? I don’t think so. Material gain? Maybe. A character with such an unclear rationale for his own wrongdoing wouldn’t be much use to DCI Banks. In any mystery I’ve ever seen, an Attorney General might be drawn as a detective’s pain-in-the-ass boss, but in the end he would at least side with the rule of law. Barr, though, is trying to undermine the rule of law by declaring that the needle we found was not a needle at all, but just another piece of hay. That could easily bring our inquiry —and our plot — to a screeching halt.

So, to be clear: there’s a real-life crook in the White House — a felon, in fact. If there ever was a mystery about that, it was solved long ago. But since our crook lives where he does, not even Sherlock Holmes himself can put the cuffs on him. And with the Trump-appointed Attorney General now derelict in his duties, the power to make Trump answer to the law rests with the U.S. Congress. Are they the Hetty Wainthropps and George Gentlys I’ve been waiting for?

I hope so, because otherwise it’s up to me and my fellow citizens…and many of them, it seems, haven’t got a clue.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon