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Freenosers
I’ve been getting some strong urges recently. I try to ignore them, but it’s hard. Judging from the citizen-on-citizen confrontations I’ve been reading about, I’m not the only one who wants to be a vigilante.

I‘ve mostly resisted the temptation so far. I did mention to one woman not wearing her mask in the store that it was my hope not to die in the plague. She was right behind me in line, so to illustrate my point, I left my goods on the counter and left the store empty-handed. Judging from the glassy look on her face, I doubt that my message got through.

Even more irritating to me than such refusals to wear a mask, however, is the propensity of some to wear it wrong. And by wrong, I don’t mean wearing a white mask after Labor Day (although I do strongly advise against such a fashion blunder). No, I am talking about masks that are intentionally worn to cover the mouth but not the nose. It seems that the people who wear their masks this way are thinking that they are in compliance with the rule. They are not.

I guess these people have chosen to let their beaks hang out like that because it’s easier for them to breathe. That is no doubt true. It’s so easy, in fact, that they are doing all their breathing through their noses — and so spewing just as many globules into the air as if they weren’t wearing masks at all. Worse, since these freenosers believe they are being good citizens, they feel free to ignore social distancing guidelines. Not only are they spewing, then, but they’re doing it right next to you.

I am not sure what to do about freenosers. I get that strong vigilante impulse every time I see one. They are, I think, an even bigger menace than their maskless cousins. But then I stop. For one thing, I don’t like control freaks and I want to avoid becoming one if I can. For another, the vigilante path is not without its dangers. Although publicly calling someone on their inappropriate behavior is not exactly a citizen’s arrest, it carries with it the possibility that the perpetrator may not take kindly to being told what to do.

Just a couple of days ago, I saw a story about some old guy in Spokane, Washington who scolded a women about her failure to wear a mask. She did not argue, but she did advise her misanthrope boyfriend of the incident. Gramps ended up in the hospital with a broken jaw. When I had my moment with the woman in the store, her husband was present. Apparently, he did not suffer from the same stupid-with-a-mean-streak affliction as the Spokane guy. Lucky for me.

Bottom line, I do not want to go to the hospital either with a broken jaw or a case of COVID-19. I guess I’ll have to stay home all the time. Either that, or I can start hanging out with a mob of my fellow vigilantes — just for protection. At a proper social distance, of course.
COVID Kitty
I want to make clear that I never promised that I wouldn’t blog about my cat. Even after this essay is released into the wild, I will not vow that I’ll never do another. That said, I know that cat-blogging is sometimes seen as a sad reflection on one’s seriousness as a social commentator.

I have decided to risk the judgment of the ages. We have a new kitten, and he is adorable. There was no temptation to name him Covid, though that might have been appropriate. We have since learned that COVID kitties are a thing, along with corona pups and other pandemic pets. If you were very near to a decision about getting a pet, this shutdown, shelter-in-place, socially distant world we now live in has probably nudged you (as it did us) to finally make the commitment.

We are currently in the prime pet enjoyment phase of our relationship. As with most animals, the earliest stage of life is the cutest. Besides the appeal of big-eyed, vulnerable smallness, there are also the wild scamperings, the goofy acrobatics, and the sudden bursts of exuberance. Just the thing for bored, slightly morose humans who aren’t going anyplace anytime soon.

Perhaps most important, though, is the addition of another spirit to the household. Even though he doesn’t enjoy quite the same standing as the other beings around here, he does offer a separate presence and a distinct point of view. He is, moreover, a life form we can touch and interact with in what used to be the most ordinary ways. Such opportunities are rare enough these days of separation from friends and family,

I will say, then, that I endorse the concept of the Covid Kitty and his ilk. He knows nothing of the virus, or of the convulsions of our economy, or of the damage inflicted on our society by an awful leader. He is just a normal cat whose life is not touched by any of that. Perhaps that is his greatest asset as a housemate. In this time of turmoil and uncertainty, he is the normal one. It is good to know that such a state still exists in this world. It is good to witness it every day and to watch it grow and thrive. Someday, we hope to join him there.
Apology Expected
There has been some big apology news recently, and I find myself inspired by it. If you missed the story, Congressman Ted Yoho called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” right there on steps of the Capitol. Yes, you read that correctly: fucking bitch.

Those are not fightin’ words, because fightin’ words are usually a man-on-man phenomenon. In this case, it was more like a decency/righteousness throwdown, and that is not a good battlefield for yohos like Yoho to fight on. Lexi ate his lunch and then sent him home with a stern note to his mother.

I have chosen that decency/righteousness field as the site of the apology I am expecting. In that spirit, I will not be demanding that the apologizers admit that they were stupid. I’m not looking for the humiliation of the wrongdoers, and I will not be requiring an admission of moral turpitude. They don’t have to confess that they are corrupt or sociopathic or bad persons in any way. That conversation is best conducted between them and their Maker, if they have one.

So (if you are one of the millions I am talking to), please note that a simple, sincere apology will do. “I’m sorry I raised such a big stink about wearing a mask” would be a good start. That alone would not be sufficient, however. I would like you to acknowledge in some way the human suffering and death that may have been caused by the your intransigence. I admit that it’s hard to draw a line from one person’s unwillingness to wear a mask to someone else’s death from the virus, but I think it’s better to err on the side of politeness here and just cop to manslaughter. There, doesn’t that feel better?

Again, there is no need to debase yourself. Something like “I wasn’t thinking straight” would be acceptable, as long as it is accompanied by a deeply sorrowful facial expression. It might help to add an admission that you should have listened to people who actually knew a thing or two about epidemiology because, you know, they have been studying it all their lives. Instead of believing, that is, the wild conjectures of complete strangers who either know jack shit or are on Putin’s payroll.

You will not have to cast aspersions at others, including Donald Trump. You won’t have to disavow membership in the Republican Party or swear off Fox News. What I want is nothing more than an acceptance of personal responsibility; if others wish to step up and do the same, that is their choice — but I want to be clear that I expect it from everyone who participated in this mass hysteria of selfish negligence about something so simple as wearing a mask.

Furthermore, I do not want to hear anything about you learning your lesson and never being such a fool ever again. I would not believe such a claim, and I might even consider it as evidence that your apology was not truly heartfelt. Your future compliance with the rules of simple decency will be enforced solely by the honor system. For the record, that means conducting yourself with honesty, fairness, and integrity.

Yeah, I know that’s hard to do. Yoho couldn’t do it, and he covered himself with shame. I am expecting you to do better.
Think About It
Think about thinking
Why does it malfunction?
We claim it’s important
So where’s our compunction?

It’s not about smarts
‘Cause some dumbers do it
It’s not about knowledge
Ignorami can too it!

Some brainiacs, oddly
Appear to poo-poo it
Ditto the scholars
Who seem to eschew it

So what is the secret?
What makes a thinker?
And how is he diff from
A grape kool-aid drinker?

It’s all about truth
And the gumption to face it
To eye your assumption
And dare to erase it

At least that’s my theory
But what do I know?
I still have some places
I won’t let reason go
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon