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The Sun
You know how to draw the sun. First, make a circle. You can draw it freehand, use a compass, or simply trace around something round, like a quarter. Just don’t stare at your subject; you’ll go blind.

If you want to emphasize brightness, add a few short, straight lines emanating from the surface of your sun. To show warmth, make those lines wiggly, or maybe try a corona of flames licking outward. You could even put a face on your sun; cartoonists do that all the time. There may be a temptation at this point to add a pair of sunglasses to the face. This, too, is a common gambit. I strongly advise against it, however. To do so is to wade into the murky waters of cartoon metaphysics.

To begin with, why would the sun need to wear sunglasses? As a shield against its own brilliance? Even if that made sense (would you wear earplugs because your own voice was too loud?), putting the glasses on the outside of the Sun would do nothing to protect it. Or, perhaps the sun is in need of protection from something even brighter than itself? A supernova, say? Let me assert that such a plot twist, though possible, is rare enough that we can ignore it here. I could also mention that a pair of 800,000-mile-wide sunglasses would vaporize instantly on the surface of the sun, but we are talking about cartoons, after all.

What makes the sun-in-sunglasses conundrum so troubling, however, is that it actually works on a visceral level. It communicates the feeling of brightness just as those short, straight lines do. Ordinarily in cartooning, if something works you don’t question it on logical grounds. Still, I can’t get past the wrongness of it. Maybe it’s the cuteness of the image, the lame, saccharine little irony of it. That’s like fingernails on a blackboard to me. Furthermore, those sunglasses add an element of attitude to the sun, a sense of detached hipness, that is just not appropriate for a huge ball of thermonuclear energy.

If you really must include a prop to enhance your drawing of the sun, why not try putting one of those metallic UV reflectors from the 50s under its chin? Not only are they inherently funny, but the image would actually make sense. In any case, I respectfully request that you not draw your sun in Foster Grants, no matter how good it feels. It is not for my sake that I ask this; I take full responsibility for my own demons. It is for the young cartoonists, the next generation of drawers of funny little pictures. Posterity will thank you, even if they don’t.
Help!
Here on Earth, life is sweet. Oh, there is plenty of suffering, to be sure. War, poverty, obsessive greed, and natural disasters all take their toll on humanity and other living things. On the whole, however, we are a caring species. We want to help; we try to reaffirm that life is not only sweet, but is also worth preserving for everyone.

Consider, however, star system 3C321. Two galaxies, orbiting one another, comprise the system. Each has a giant black hole at its center. Black holes are a little scary in general, but there’s nothing particularly alarming about such an arrangement.

The black hole in the larger galaxy, though, is sending out a monstrous jet of particles, X-rays, gamma rays, and other radiation. The jet is traveling nearly at the speed of light, out into the space around the galaxy. Even this phenomenon is not that unusual — except that this titanic bolt of destruction is slamming directly into the smaller galaxy!

The result, it is thought, is catastrophic. Tens of millions of stars will be affected. The wholesale destruction of planetary systems is taking place. Quadrillions of sentient life forms — many of them much smarter and nicer than we are — are being annihilated. And, if left unchecked, the obliteration will continue for tens, even hundreds of thousands of years.

And yet we stand by and do nothing!
The Same Boat
I have always been comforted by the notion that “we’re all in the same boat.” It carries with it the implication that, in spite of all our differences, we have something fundamental in common, something that binds us together — potentially in a mutually beneficial way.

Whether the ‘boat’ here is the planet, the nation, or the neighborhood, it will most likely succeed if everyone on board is working to make that happen. The ‘same boat’ idea is, in fact, part of the core argument for democracy itself. Since we all have a stake in a safe journey, we should also have a say in how the boat is managed and maintained -- and where it should be headed. We should decide our own fate, that is, not a king, not an oligarchy, not the Koch brothers.

I suppose you could take the Ayn Rand approach and imagine that we all have our own separate boats and navigate them as we see fit. In some ways, that’s true; in most ways, however, it’s a crock. Nothing really big or important is accomplished by lone individuals. We need each other to do the big stuff. Furthermore, we are by nature social animals, destined to succeed as a group or not at all.

I also think that the ‘same boat’ notion is an argument for hope — unless you’ve completely caved in to a cynical world view. We might be tempted, for instance, to throw someone off the boat just because they don’t agree with us or because we don’t like their face. To do so, however, would be to deny our own humanity — and to betray any higher aspirations that still exist in us. I prefer to think that most of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do that. You can call that an article of faith on my part, but cut me a break. Right now it’s the only thing standing between me and hopeless cynicism, and if it fails, I won’t give a damn about the boat or anything else.

So the boat sails on, and its best (and possibly only) hope for a safe voyage is as a truly joint venture. Our fortunes, whether we like it or not, are bound together by our common aim: survival — and maybe the dream of happiness.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee