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TV Dinner
Call me crazy, but I like food.

I’m fairly sure, however, that I am not crazy. It’s well documented that most people like food. It keeps them alive after all, and it tastes good. That’s bit of a miracle when you think about it. If you absolutely need to have something, there’s no need for it to be fun. We’d be eating sawdust if that were the only way to keep this fabulous dream going.

But we lucked out. There is a huge array of food choices, most of which do not revolt us. Some people even like beets and liver and monkey brains. If eating animal flesh offends your dietary ethics, the utterly defenseless plant kingdom can take up the slack. If a dog-based main course is a cultural taboo for you, there are plenty of cute animals to take Fido’s place. There might even be enough butter or hot sauce or bacon to make that sawdust palatable. The point is there’s something for everyone and it’s all good in its own way. But there are exceptions.

Chief among them is TV food. It offends me in a way that eating my one of my own pets never could. That’s because TV food is a filthy lie.

Take pizzas. No matter who’s hawking them — Pizza Hut, Straw Hat, Round Table, or Papas Murphy and John — when we see a piece being pulled apart from the main pie great steamy ropes of hot cheese trail behind it. Now be honest. Does this happen with your pizza? One or two threads may hang on, but nothing like those nautilus cables of molten mozzarella. Real cheese doesn’t do that. These images violate the sacred, unspoken pact of honesty between us and our food, and they are a lie.

And let us also consider the TV steak. Have you ever seen such perfect black stripes on your hunk of beef? Of course not. Just as that hot pizza cheese is pure plastic, those grill marks must be industrial grade acrylic paint. Now look at the garden fresh salad that comes with it — lots of exquisite lettuce flying through the air in slow motion, plump red tomatoes bouncing with joy into your generous bowl, your choice of gorgeous dressings squirting and splashing everywhere. All served with loving care by proud minimum wage workers and consumed by beautiful families who instantaneously melt into euphoria as it touches their lips. Lies, all lies!

I am not fooled, and what’s more I do not shrug off these deceptions. Under the law, there is such a thing as permissible “puffing” in advertising. One may slightly inflate the quality of one’s product as part of a sales pitch. Under my code, however, there is an exception for food. I want full transparency from a substance that is about to enter my body. That applies to labels and menus, and it applies to images of food on my big-screen 4K Ultra HDTV.

I have no secrets from my comestibles, and I expect them to reciprocate. If that is crazy, then the whole world has gone mad.
One flu east
One flu west
One flu made my life a mess
My Fellow Americans
I’ve been looking for an upside to the recent electoral catastrophe, and I think I’ve found something. If you’ve been on a similar quest, you know the pickings are pretty slim. In fact, you might not take any comfort at all in what I’ve come up with, especially if you don’t find populism very appealing.

Most post-election analysis has concluded that a large share of the winner’s votes came from people who are categorized as the lower middle class. That is the portion of our electorate that populism was made for. Unlike the poor, they receive very little help from our system. The boom-and-bust economic violence wrought by bursting financial bubbles hit them the hardest. Globalism and the changes that come with the rise of technology damage them and their loved ones most of all.

They didn’t like being ignored, so they lashed out. It’s hard to blame them. They were hurting, and the system did not seem to care. This is not the way things ought to be. A society that doesn’t see to the needs of all of its members is doing something wrong.

And now they have our attention, as they should. This is my upside: an underserved segment of our society was able to break through the indifference of their leaders (or at least of their institutions) and demand what they are entitled to — a government that cares. That is a victory for populism, and that is a good thing.

The downside of my upside, of course, is that these populists aren’t of the Democratic Socialist variety. They don’t want new, expansive ideas designed to help ordinary people. Instead, they find it easier to abandon reason in favor of darker explanations for their lot in life. As a result, they show a marked preference for the kind of authoritarian leadership that feeds those suspicions. They were willing to overlook the non-stop lying and corrupt nature of their candidate. They had no trouble ignoring the crook, the bigot, and the sexual predator. They didn’t care about any of that stuff as long as he channeled their anger and stoked hatred for The Other. In other words, they’re boneheads.

Still, they are my fellow citizens. That’s the essence of populism. We should all have rights in a free society. Even the boneheads.
Crobes, Big and Small
Microbes have a pretty bad reputation… and with good reason. They cause everything from colds and athlete’s foot to TB and the bubonic plague. Their Facebook friends include viruses, fungi, bacteria, algae, and a bunch of other menacing pathogens. They are particularly insidious because they’re invisible. They might be lurking anywhere in your environment, just waiting for the chance to take you down.

Macrobes pose a similar danger, except they are too big to see. In fact, they are so big we can’t even be sure that they exist. God, for example, would be a macrobe. If God even exists, that is.

Not all microbes are bad, by the way. Some have beneficial effects on the world around them. They can aid digestion, for example. In some cases they can help fight the bad microbes. The same is probably true of macrobes. They can be good, bad, and everything in between. I’m thinking that the macrobe we’ve got in this universe is in that last group.

Oh, I know what you‘re saying: God moves in mysterious ways. Well, excuse me, but that is a very convenient excuse for all the awful stuff that happens. I’ve never had any experience as a god, but it isn’t very hard for me to imagine a more user-friendly universe than this one. You know, where there are a lot more good things happening and a lot less ugliness. Why do we need all the damn suffering? If there really is a head macrobe, then the buck stops right there at Its feet.

I don’t hate microbes. After all, they’re just doing their jobs. There’s probably no sense in hating macrobes, either, even if they’re screwing things up the way ours is. Our macrobe may not be a friendly probiotic, but It isn’t the bubonic plague or leprosy either. More like plantar’s warts or some kind of incurable creeping crud.

No, don’t be mad at our macrobe. That would be like hating the universe itself. Best to just take the prescription of your choice and try not to scratch.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee