Michael Jackson’s death is not funny, but it is a cartoon.

Michael Jackson cartoon of grave, with Farrah Fawcett and Ed mcMahon

Sure, I’m curious why he died. But NO, I never thought he was funny. Not the animals, the plastic surgery, the kids. Nor is his death funny. I’m sad a talented performer died so young.. What about Farrah Fawcett, or Ed McMahon, or the strange, sad confluence of the 3? NO. Not funny, either. All equally sad.

My job as an editorial cartoonist is to comment or reflect on the news, not make instant flower bouquets, or practice sanctimonious phrases. But… is death funny?

Actually, this is the first time a well-known figure has died since I started doing cartoons for Slate in February, so I wasn’t sure just how to approach it.  

Torture in Gitmo, and Tasers in the USA.

Nancy Pelosi seems so far away now, doesn’t she? There was a story that didn’t last long. Or tptb buried it! Yet it was just last month…

I’m sure she did know about the CIA tortures in Guantanamo Bay. Politico says she did. She was probably only given a few details, and didn’t quite understand it: no one is proud of torture, even, or maybe especially, the armed services. Many decision-makers just believe it has to be done. I’ve read that it’s not an efficient way to get confessions,  but I’m quite sure I would squeal about anything in the world after about 1 minute of it. Maybe less.

News reports say only 3 of the Gitmo detainees were actually waterboarded, which everyone agrees is the worst kind of torture. One of these guys claimed responsibility for beheading Daniel Pearl – and nothing is more heinous than beheading someone, in my kingdom. But US News & World Report says:

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, has claimed responsibility for beheading Pearl, but it recently came to light that the al Qaeda operative was waterboarded more than 180 times in 30 days. This has left some of Pearl’s colleagues skeptical of the confession.

Um, me, too, now.   This is certainly going overboard. Who’s telling the truth?

I’ve written before that I hate torture more than murder. Still, I do think that as a LAST RESORT it MIGHT be necessary to save many many more lives. Just seems like common telephone marketers and “people persons” like bomb squad talkers, could do a better job at getting people to talk, doesn’t it?

But let’s jump to our legal torture, Tasers. Police in the US have been using Tasers for what, 8 years? Reading the news, it appears that most, if not all major cities use

Does North Korea have a target painted on our face?

I think I just wanted to draw my first nuclear bomb.

I don’t know why, but when I saw how seriously the news was taking reports of Kim Jong Il setting off nuclear bomb tests, it made me kind of giddy, like laughing in church. Perhaps I am a bad person (but not saying I’m wrong, of course.)

I mean, the man might be sick,  in a coma – or there are concerns he had a stroke. In any case, he’s been out of view, so we don’t know what he’s really doing. Today the timesonline (UK) said:

Mr Kim, 67, is believed to have suffered a stroke last year that removed him from the public eye during several key national events. The medical machinery needed is among a number of items banned under the trade embargo on North Korea, which followed the regime’s first nuclear test in 2006.

Oops, this is what happens when you ban things.  

Mr Kim’s health and the destiny of his country are closely linked. He runs the nation via a personality cult that has emphasised the vigour, strength and youthfulness of the “Dear Leader”.

Interesting. In any case, I don’t know if he’s trying out bombs as a science experiment, a threat, or preparation for something worse. But maybe, if he’s not well, he would like to do some good in his name, before his health could get worse. My suggestions are in the cartoon:

  • Plas

Navy sonar is like unsolicited sales calls to whales.

I first read about this last fall. From the Christian Science Monitor:

In a 6-3 ruling on Wednesday, the high court criticized a federal judge in California for imposing restrictions that the majority justices said jeopardized national security in an effort to protect the environment.

MFA sonars send intense pulses of noise through the water that can disrupt or injure marine mammals nearby. Scientists say it can trigger fatal mass strandings under certain circumstances.

Joel Reynolds, a senior NRDC attorney, said the high court left in place undisputed portions of the federal judge’s order concerning Navy training. As a result, the Navy must continue to abide by a 12-mile coastal buffer zone and must continue to avoid the Catalina Basin, an area with a high concentration of marine mammals.

Check out this killer whale video to actually see whales in Puget Sound reacting to Navy sonar.  Umm, how much proof are they waiting for?

Well, that’s the point, isn’t it. The Navy has the proof, they’re just making a judgment call (no puns, thanks.) that they have to keep making the same sonar sounds over and over, like 3 year olds playing with their toys.   I’ve noticed some scientists are like this, too, unfortunately; they base science on a hypothesis, with a provable result, and then spend years doing the SAME tests over and over. That sounds like a video game to me.

Anyway, I see very few editorial cartoons about natural history or science or even technology, and I don’t know why. Do they know something I don’t? Maybe. So I do some, because the world outside of the White House is important, too, but I space them out!  C

Obama tackles detainees with gloves and a white suit.

When I was little, I remember lying on the living room couch with a sore throat and an upset tummy, miserable as only sick children can be. My grandmother was playing cards with a few of her friends, and I couldn’t have felt less festive. One of her friends, Aunt Rita, made me honey toast. I didn’t even want it, but I ate some, and I was instantly healed.

No one pointed at me as if it was a miracle, but that was okay- I was pretty shy, so I just sat up, got dressed properly, and went to play. Even having experienced this, and having read that honey was used in World War 1 as a wound healer in the battlefield, because of its antibiotic qualities, and other good things that bees put in honey, I don’t eat it all that often. But I do collect honey cookbooks or pamphlets I come across, and I like to buy local honey from any place I visit, as a souvenir!

That’s about all I know about bees or beekeeping, but a few months ago, when I investigated the whitenose syndrome that has been killing off bats,  I read in several sources that scientists suspect it’s related to the devastating die off of bees, which syndrome is called, “colony collapse disorder.” This affects pollination and crops even more than bats do.   Treehugger writes about it here.

The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet fully understood, although many authorities attribute the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites and insect diseases (i.e., pathogens including Nosema apis and Israel acute paralysis virus). Other proposed causes include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition and pesticides (e.g. neonicotinoids such as imidacloprid), and migratory beekeeping

Cartoons I wish I had thought of first.

Cartoon by Dana Summers, from Gocomics. You can find all of his work (and mine!) there for free.

I don’t usually read other editorial cartoonists. I don’t want to be influenced by them too much! But 2 or 3 times a month I look at some to see what topics they’ve covered, or haven’t, so I can decide what to do next, or to find out what’s important to cover, because they have tons more experience than I do.

I also don’t usually laugh at most political cartoons, but I thought this was a good clear drawing by Mr. Summers, a good punchline, with the extra bon mots of using the sock imagery, and, maybe most importantly, how I feel about Ms. Sotomayor.  At least when she spoke those words, a few years ago, there was a tiny bit of racism there, you must admit. read more