It was rainy and cool and gloomy. I liked it. The first all-rainy day in a long time. For some reason a rainy day feels like a relief, an excuse for not doing things you wouldn’t do anyway, but even if you thought you might, you can’t. The sun is a public resource. The rain always feels personal. Good day to walk around and listen to Twin Peaks Returns soundtrack elements.

Or not. I really don’t want to go back to 2017.

You're going to have to forgive me for the rest of the week. I have a double work-load plus the National Review column plus a radio interview to prep for (snort) and some other stuff that's thundering around the bend. There will, of course, be something. There's always something.

Okay but like WHAT you ask. Okay, I'll find something from the daily downloads. . . ah. This fits the Wednesday CLIPPINGS theme, i guess. I was researching a story on billboards, and on the page with anti-billboard editorials was this collection of editorial cartoons:

They were worried about having too many babies. The smart people were reading the overpopulation editorials and had drawn the proper conclusions.

Better do something about that! Uncle Sam is worried, too:

What are they going to do, shoot the bird? No, it's a DOC, so he's going to deliver it, I guess. Then we shoot it:

The more I look at that one, the more it gives me the cheevers. But editorial cartoons often age . . . poorly.

April, 1963.

Well, how was he to know.










(I wrote this when I came back from London.)

When I was in the middle of the trip to England I realized that I was enjoying an illusion: the belief that nothing had changed. The seamless world, ever more integrated, all the disparate paragraphs collected on the same page, was intact. That wasn’t the case, ever, but now we see the fissures, the jagged edges where the pages have been ripped.

Let me explain this vague sonorous nonsense.

Now you can get your tube ticket with your phone. You hold it up to the gate, it beeps, your payment app swings into business, and communicates in a trice with someone, somewhere, something. On the other end of the journey you tap again, and the numbers move from one side to the other. The old Oyster card, with its inscrutable balances, is no longer needed. The phone-based system is nice; it’s convenient. One more thing wrapped into the magic bright rectangle.

This ability was removed from the Russian subway system, and caused some consternation. Sorry not sorry, Ivan; you’re not part of this world anymore.

This world. This new one, perpetually en route, always new, its innovations woven into our daily life with such frictionless ease we forget it was never thus. A marvelous world where you can fly to the other side of the world, tap your magic glowing rectangle against a stanchion, and it knows what to do. The way your phone automatically connects to the hotel wireless, even though it’s never been here, because the password was stored in the ether and downloaded to your device, like a consciousness invested in a new body. The way your watch pays for pizza in a small restaurant in London the same way it pays for groceries at Traders Joe. A global world, post-history, en route to a better version of today.

Better how, exactly, isn't certain, but it's easier, and isn't easier better?

Except, as I said, this was just a surface series of innovations, and there is no post history. I had my arguments with all the transnational hoohah, but now here I am - to paraphrase the old hopeful song - watching the world wake up to history, and I missed the promise of the thing I had derided. You get the sense of everything walking crab-wise now, withdrawing into discrete spheres.

You miss the good news. There was good news, wasn’t there? A lot of it? There was; I sought it out, took hope, felt everything was still clawing its way upwards. The pessimists had predicates I did not share and beliefs I did not like. If I was wrong then, then perhaps I am wrong now, and everything is not bad. But good news today - new crop yield techniques, great rockets - still feels insufficient, like reading “strides made against tuberculosis” at the bottom of a page that announces Germany’s invasion of Poland.

On the other hand, hooray for clarity. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine did not shatter the international order, the post WW2 consensus; it laid bare all the facts. From this comes the Next Thing.

And what that might be, we wait to see. Rough beast slouching and all that. There are optimistic possibilities, but their implementation will require fresh minds and nimble intellects. It is the wrong time to be led by old men.

Here’s the best “post-history” image of my trip: something from the hotel lobby.

We’re so confident in where we’re going we can afford to shrug at the horrors of the past. You can kill 45 million people, and you’ll end up as kitsch.




It’s 1937.

Let’s head to Nebraska and read the Mail.


So . . . communism, then, I guess


Ron Goulart, in The Comics Journal #249, December 2002, wrote about comic art shops and said: …Bert Whitman, later an award-winning political cartoonist, launched his small operation in 1940. Calling it Bert Whitman Associates, he rented office space in the New York Times building. Artists working for him included Jack Kirby, Frank Robbins and Irwin Hasen along with newspaper veteran George Storm.

A comment from 2015:

My Aunt was married to Burt at the time of his death. Her house is full of his work. She is now moving to an assisted living facility. I am wondering what we should do with all this stuff?? We were told he didn't have any other relatives. # posted by  Anonymous : 10/14/2015 12:24 PM



A reminder that in the past, they were interested in the past.

You’d think the phone company would be the top item.


Ah, the other World’s Far of ’39:

I’ve not studied this one as much as I should. And by “not as much” I mean “not at all”

The perspective makes the lower buildings look bigger than they were.

  A little humor! Ha ha you could get shot in the head and your brains would explode out the back

Here’s a confident assertion.

Would anyone in Nebraska in 1937 be able to prove it was not so?


Uh -

I’ve only heard of one, and that’s S’matter Pop. The others are completely new to me. Which doesn’t mean anything, really, but I’ve seen a lot of newspapers from this period. And I’ve never seen The Featherheads, for example.

A remarkable life. When I was a kid and saw “The Miracle Worker” I couldn’t imagine how anyone in Keller’s condition could learn anything, let alone write books; it seemed as if she was stuck in a dark prison

From her Wikipedia page:

While in her thirties Helen had a love affair, became secretly engaged, and defied her teacher and family by attempting an elopement with the man she loved.” He was the fingerspelling socialist "Peter Fagan, a young Boston Herald reporter who was sent to Helen's home to act as her private secretary when lifelong companion, Anne, fell ill.”

Oh, a fingerspelling socialist, of course. Also:

Archival material of Helen Keller stored in New York was lost when the Twin Towers were destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

So much was lost.



That'll do! Enjoy your midweek moments.





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