Monday, September 30, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

It isn't polite to point, but characters in my cartoon do it all the time.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Q Toon: Conditional Tense

English-speaking people have been using "they, them, their" to represent singular nouns for untold eons: as in, "Anyone who brings their brother or sister on the field trip must sit next to them."

For many of those eons, schoolteachers would insist on replacing those pronouns with the sexist "Anyone who brings his brother or sister on the field trip must sit next to him." More enlightened schoolteachers insisted on the awkward "Anyone who brings his or her brother or sister on the field trip must sit next to him or her."

Or, even better, "Don't bring your siblings."

Now there are people, including schoolchildren, who identify as "non-binary" and therefore don't feel that they are either "he" or "she." The current terms of preference are "they, them, their"; and while most of us are quite used to "they, them, their" referring to a hypothetical, generic individual, talking about a specific non-binary individual presents a new challenge.

"Ashley says they are feeling better," or "Ashley says they is feeling better"?

English is not the only language confronting the issue of modern gender identity. Spanish has always used masculine nouns and adjectives for groups and generic people, but "Latino" and "Latina," for example, are getting replace by "Latinx" (pronounced la-TEE-nex). I assume any adjectives follow suit: unx niñx rubix gordx. I have no idea if they've figured out an x-substitute for la and el.

Romance language speakers ought to be used to separating the concepts of gender and sex — at least those who have watched the Muppets. In French, "frog" is a feminine noun and "pig" is a masculine noun; yet little children are still not confused by Kermit la Grenouille and Mlle. le Porc. For that matter, if Elizabeth Warren were to win our presidential election next year, Spanish-speaking people would address her as Señora el Presidente.

And if a woman ever became Pope, she'd be El Papa, because la papa is "the potato."

But to return to English and the field trip sentence above, we do have singular pronoun alternatives to "he, him, his" and "she, her, her." You wouldn't refer to a person as "it, it, its," but one could use "one, one, one's": "Anyone who brings one's brother or sister on the field trip must sit next to one."

Naaah. That doesn't work, after all.

Especially if one's sibling is two-spirited.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Without Even a Spoiler Alert

One of the papers which carries my cartoon used the punchline of last week's cartoon as the link to the entire cartoon from the front page of their website.

To put it in terms that even a web editor might understand, that's like using the solution to the crossword puzzle as the link to it.

It's like headlining your movie review "Rosebud Was His Sled," "Willis Was Dead the Whole Time," or "Poirot Lets a Trainload of Murderers Off the Hook."

Saturday, September 21, 2019

William Howard Taft Weighs In

Swingback Saturday returns to the thrilling days of yestercentury to check up on how President Woodrow Wilson's peace negotiations were going ... with the Republican Congress.
"The Champion" by Cyrus Hungerford in Pittsburgh Sun, July/Aug., 1919
At the end of the Great War, there was considerable public relief that the fighting was over, and support for Wilson's League of Nations to prevent any more wars. But Republican Senators nevertheless mounted opposition to the peace treaty. Their motives varied; isolationist Sen. William Borah of Idaho was against American involvement in any international body, whereas Majority Leader Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts had the more cynical aim of denying President Wilson a domestic political victory.
"Jazzing the Professor's Grand Opera Composition" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, Aug., 1919
Between those two interests, throwing up one "reservation" to President Wilson's treaty after another, the prospects for American ratification of the Treaty of Versailles grew dimmer with each passing day.
"A Very Present Help" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, Aug., 1919
Into the fray ventured William Howard Taft, at this point the only living ex-President of the United States. Having served as Governor of Cuba and of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War, and as Secretary of War under Theodore Roosevelt, he had some experience with the U.S.'s expanded role in the world. As President of the League to Enforce Peace, he had pressed for an international organization dedicated to the cause of preventing war since 1915, so it was no surprise that he should break with the then current leaders of his party.
"His Former Master's Voice" by John Knott in Dallas News, Aug., 1919
Taft contributed essays to a book the League to Enforce Peace published in the summer of 1919, The Covenanter: An American Exposition of the Covenant of the League of Nations. He addressed his fellow Republicans' charge that the League would act in violation of the Monroe Doctrine:
"The sum and substance of the Monroe Doctrine is that we do not propose in our own interest to allow European nations or Asiatic nations to acquire, beyond what they now have, through war or purchase or intrigue, territory, political power, or strategical opportunities from the countries of this hemisphere. Article X of the League is intended to secure this to all nations, except that it does not forbid purchase of territory or power.
"The White House Gardener" by Cyrus Hungerford in Pittsburgh Sun, Aug., 1919
"In some speeches in the Senate intimations have been made which enlarge this doctrine beyond what can be justified. Those who would seek to enforce a Monroe Doctrine which makes the western hemisphere our own preserve, in which we may impose our sovereign will on the will of other countries in their own interest, because, indeed, we have done that in the east, should not be sustained.
"The Butterfly" by Sidney J. Greene in New York Evening Telegram, Aug., 1919
"The European nations desire our entrance into this League not that they may control America, but to secure our aid in controlling Europe, and I venture to think that they would be relieved if the primary duty of keeping peace and policing this western hemisphere was relegated to us and our western colleagues."
"Keerful Y' Don't Make a Mess of It, Boys" by Elmer A. Bushnell  for Central Press Assn., Aug., 1919
"Will our country be forced by these covenants into a lot of little wars all over the face of the world? No. In the first place, the existence of the League and its covenants and the immediate self-acting boycotts will restrain most nations, especially small nations, from incurring the penalty of complete world ostracism. The background of possible united force will be a further restraint. It will minimize war everywhere."
As significant as Taft's book was, it was President Wilson tasked with touring the country to rally support for the League. In September, Wilson suffered a stroke that took him out of the game, leaving the field wide open for the League's opponents.
I'm going to take a couple weeks off from history studies, but do keep tuning in for my regular contemporary cartoons. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

EnviroStewardship: Caring for Creation

My dad writes an environmental commentary for his church's monthly newsletter. His column for October continues a discussion begun last month.

In last month’s Environmental Stewardship article, I quoted the ELCA’s Social Statement "Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice," and specifically mentioned the principles of Solidarity, Sufficiency and Sustainability. These may not be the terms you think of first when considering environmental stewardship or your position in the church, so I hope that it is worthwhile to quote that statement and discuss them further.
“The principle of solidarity means that we stand together as God’s creation.” 
We might think this refers to other churches and organizations, but the writers of the statement call for the acknowledgement of our interdependence with all creatures in all creation. We have allowed the land and its inhabitants, human and non-human, to be disenfranchised by the rich and powerful. We have allowed the environment to be degraded by greed and the desire for profits at all cost. Since we have voices that steer decisions, we must stand in solidarity with those without such voices, again both human and non-human.
“The principle of sufficiency means meeting the basic needs of all humanity and all creation.” 
Since the earth and its fullness belong to the Lord, who are we to take such a disproportionate share of what is really a huge but finite resource? Although the statement mentions all creation, we really are talking about the earth and its natural resources. We can look at it from the position of all humanity, the country or from the position of an individual, our own self.

When we clean out our closets to donate to the rummage sale, are we primarily concerned about those who have less to wear or are we making room to go out and buy more? Are the  huge and quickly filling landfills evidence of our inability to stop at sufficient? The pressures of a consumer economy are great, but should we be seeking personal fulfillment by acquisition?
“The principle of sustainability means providing an acceptable quality of life for present generations without compromising that of future generations.” 
Our heavy use of fossil fuels is not only a threat to our and future generations due to global warming, but is an example of a resource that took millions of years to make but a few generations to deplete. The rich soils of the midwest took centuries to build up but can be washed away in decades. Likewise, the great forests of this country.

The Amazon rainforest has been called the lungs of the earth and yet we see it burned for agricultural purposes … more beef for more hamburgers. This largest of all rainforests may be reaching a tipping point which will mean no recovery in our, or our grandchildren’s, lifetime or the foreseeable future.

Native Americans have used the possible effects upon the seventh generation as a guide to their individual and collective decisions. Maybe we should adopt such a policy.

These principles should be applied to us as individuals, to the businesses and organizations in which we have influence, and to the church as a community.

At one point in the social statement, it is written, “Neither economic growth that ignores environmental cost nor conservation of nature that ignores human cost is sustainable. Both will result in injustice and, eventually, environmental degradation.”

I believe the former is the greater concern, but I am neither poor, voiceless, powerless or discriminated against.
John Berge

Monday, September 16, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm a bit dissatisfied with the caricatures of Ivanka Trump featured in my syndicated cartoon later this week. Earlier cartoons I've done of her have her looking more like her younger sister, Zweivanka, so I was trying to take a different approach this time.

Including wearing her hair up.

So anyway, here are some of the preliminary sketches from my sketchbook.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

When Liberal Democracy Was Ascendant

With the eighteenth anniversary of 9/11 this past week, we now have young men and women old enough to serve in the military — and to vote — who have never known a time when the U.S. was not at war. Sejmback Saturday therefore serves this reminder of a September just thirty years ago when it seemed that mankind might be making progress toward a kinder and gentler world.
in UWM Post, September 5, 1989
Eight years of repression against the Solidarność movement in Poland had not only failed to weaken it, but weakened the communist government of Wojciech Jaruzelski instead. Even Solidarność leaders were surprised by their successes in the elections in August, 1989, winning all but one of the Senate seats they were allowed to run for, and all of the contested seats in the Sejm.

Meanwhile, eight years of Reaganomics in the U.S. had left George H.W. Bush with an enormous budget deficit.
in UW-Parkside Ranger, September 7, 1989
China's quashing of the Tienanmen Square uprising in June notwithstanding, the stunning success of Solidarność quickly inspired independence movements in Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Hungary and East Germany.

This is the cartoon I mentioned a couple weeks ago that didn't get returned to me; so this is as well as I'm able to clean up the image from the Ranger's on-line archive. You can't see it from the above, but I had drawn Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev speaking through gritted teeth; my recollection is that you couldn't tell that from the printed copy, either.
in UWM Post, September 19, 1989
So to make up for that poor copy, here's a colorization of what was originally just a black and white cartoon, aping Soviet imagery to depict the sudden exodus of East Germans. Hungary had opened its border with Austria, whereupon several thousand East German refugees were able to escape to West Germany in a round-about route through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Austria. In Berlin, there were signs that East German border patrols were no longer shooting to kill persons who tried to cross No Man's Land.
in UW-Parkside Ranger, September 14, 1989
Pressure for reform was not limited to the communist bloc. South African police initially responded to anti-apartheid protests that year with billy clubs, tear gas, and purple-dye water cannons; perhaps as many as 60 protesters were killed. In August, a new President took the reins from P.W. Botha, who had suffered a mild stroke in January. Claiming a mandate for reform in September's elections, F.W. de Klerk appeared to signal that his approach to dissent might be modeled after Gorbachev's rather than Deng Xiaoping's.
in UWM Post, September 21, 1989

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Q Toon: Whoops for Wholeness

The Conversion Therapy scam lost another one of its founding fathers this summer. Hope for Wholeness founder McKrae Game publicly apologized on Facebook and in an interview with the (Charleston, South Carolina) Post and Courier this month for the damage the quack ministry had caused countless already conflicted and vulnerable gays and lesbians.
“Conversion therapy is not just a lie, but it’s very harmful, because it’s false advertising. ... I was a religious zealot that hurt people,” Game said in an interview. “People said they attempted suicide over me and the things I said to them. People, I know, are in therapy because of me. Why would I want that to continue?”
While condemning Wellness for Hope's practices, McKrae nevertheless believes that its Baptist construct could somehow serve as a community for people who believe “homosexuality is incongruent with their faith.” The Post and Courier article includes this response from a dissatisfied Hope for Wholeness client:
Josh Crocker, 32, a Greenville man who is gay and sought counsel from Hope for Wholeness as a college student in 2006 (known then as Truth Ministry), said that particular sentiment was troubling. There is no part of Hope for Wholeness, he added, that could be of benefit to anybody.
“For me, I just think that’s inadequate. ... I think he should be afforded the time and space to process all the things he needs to process and become who he is,” Crocker said in an interview, “but I’d love for him to apply that same passion he had for Hope for Wholeness ... to advocacy for the LGBTQ community ... and to dismantle conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries.”

Game founded Truth Ministry in 1999, after having "lived as a gay man for three years," according to the Hope for Wellness website. Now 51, he was fired from the program in 2017 and publicly declared himself gay this past June.

Game is hardly the only LGBTQ conversion therapist to discover that self-loathing is no way to live one's life. Sadly, the determination to force themselves to live heterosexual lives has left scores of ruined marriages in its wake.
[Mormon and conversion therapy advocate David] Matheson then confirmed [conversion therapy advocate Rich] Wyler’s assertions on Tuesday with a Facebook post of his own. “A year ago I realized I had to make substantial changes in my life. I realized I couldn’t stay in my marriage any longer. And I realized that it was time for me to affirm myself as gay,” he wrote.
Matheson, who was married to a woman for 34 years and is now divorced, also confirmed in an interview with NBC News that he is now dating men.
There was also ex-gay poster boy John Paulk, who appeared on the cover of Newsweek with his wife Anne back in August of 1998, only to transfer the prefix "ex-" from his gayness to his wife. Love in Action leader John Smid (the basis for the character of conversion therapist Victor Sykes in "Boy Erased") tried for 24 years to make a go of his mixed-sex marriage before admitting that he was not heterosexual and had "never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual." Exodus International former President Alan Manning Chambers is apparently still married to his wife Marilyn, but now identifies as gay and, like the others, has publicly apologized to the LGBTQ community.

In spite of all this, and several states and cities officially banning conversion therapy, the ex-gay Christianist movement is reportedly making a comeback, according to the Washington Post. Jonathan Merritt interviewed for his report one new-wave ex-gay leader after another — Rosaria Champaigne Butterfield, Jackie Hill Perry, Matt Moore — who has married or become engaged to an opposite sex partner.

No doubt those couples will be very happy together.

I've arranged the four panels of this week's cartoon in one column as an experiment in making multi-panel cartoons legible on teeny tiny phone screens. It wasn't drawn to accommodate the format, and I'm not particularly pleased with the result.

And that's as far as I'm willing to go. You want to read cartoons on your smart watch? Sorry, Dick Tracy.

Monday, September 9, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I've seen what these postings look like on an itty bitty phone screen, so I'm going to try something a little bit different with this week's cartoon. Just as an experiment.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Dear Old Golden Rule Days

Scholarback Saturday gives politics a rest today to resurrect some century-old back-to-school cartoons.
"Gee! Old September's Here!" by Charles Ash in Dayton Journal, September 1918 or 1919.
There isn't a great depth of meaning to these cartoons. One does note that overwhelmingly, the stars of these cartoons are little boys, forced against their will to forsake the dog and the swimming hole in favor of a cravat, shoes, and a bundle of books.
"The Melancholy Days Will Soon Be Here" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News-Press, Sept. 5, 1919
If girls back then were expected to spend summer helping Ma around the house, perhaps little Marie wasn't as sorry to see the arrival of Fall. But then, little Johnnie was expected to perform his chores, too; there is no shortage of summertime cartoons of little boys glumly peeling potatoes on the porch or hauling water from the well. All of that, however, was forgotten when September rolled around.
"When a Feller Needs a Friend" by Clare Briggs in Chicago Tribune, Sept. 1918 or 1919
I've allowed for the possibility that some of these cartoons were a year old when Cartoons Magazine included them in its October, 1919 edition. Cartoons Magazine often ran cartoons from the previous year when putting together a round-up of holiday and seasonal work; the cartoons in the July, 1919 edition's celebration of Independence Day and Bastille Day were clearly drawn while American and French soldiers were fighting side by side on the battlefield.
"When a Feller Needs a Friend" by Clare Briggs in Chicago Tribune, Sept. 1, 1919
This episode of Claire Briggs's "When a Feller Needs a Friend" series does indeed date from 1919. I can't imagine a lad of this feller's age going to school in shoes like those today. Or, for that matter, wearing a neckerchief like that. Even on Class Photo Day.

To balance off the cartoons that might have been from 1918 instead of 1919, here are a couple that might have been from 1920.
"School Days!" by Fred Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, Sept. 1919 or 1920
Fred Seibel's signature crow gives a shout-out to Clare Briggs in this cartoon that predates the concern that overloaded backpacks were giving our youth scoliosis. Nowadays, of course, the entire Library of Congress fits in Junior's shirt pocket, and we know that poor posture has nothing to do with how many volumes he had to carry from the classroom to Mom's car and back again.
"Called to the Colors!" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 1919 or 1920
Even though Cartoons Magazine printed this Billy Ireland cartoon in 1920, the military recruitment aspect of "Your country needs you!" makes me wonder if they hadn't sat on this cartoon for two years. Americans surely hadn't forgotten conscription by 1920, but it wasn't particularly immediate in people's minds.

Yet it is the phenomenon of the American educational system forcing young boys go to the dentist that truly deserves further study.
"Wanderlust" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, Sept. 1918 or 1919
Finally, some cartoons that recognize that little girls had to go to school, too.

It looks to me as though Magnus Kettner's schoolboys could get away with going off to school barefoot. Briggs's schoolboy might have loved to hop the train just to get off at Kettners's school.
"G'wan Now!—G'wan Home!" by George W. Rehse in New York World, Sept. 1918 or 1919
Now, don't George Rehse's little girls look perfectly happy to be going back to class?
"A New Version of September Morn" by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, Sept. 1919 or 1920
Well, Bill Morris settles it, then. Girls just adore going to school. Any excuse to wear a bow the size of a sewing basket in their hair.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Q Toon: Outre Spice

A fellow cartoonist whom I greatly respect once told me that to draw the setting for a cartoon properly, you have to go there and see it for yourself.
I have to confess that I haven't been to a porn shop in many, many years, so if this is not what they look like nowadays — if the skin magazines got replaced by DVDs and the DVDs by QR codes — if the guy at the register is required by local ordinance to wear sleeves — I apologize.

And I didn't mean for the guy at the register to appear gap-toothed. It didn't look that way in pencil, but even in color, his upstage cheek looks even to me like a tooth.

The outdated cash register with the attached credit card reader, on the other hand, is intentional.

The challenge that preoccupied me in planning this cartoon was how to portray an adult entertainment establishment without displaying things that would shock and offend any of my very fine, very respectable editors. There should be an inflatable sex toy somewhere, genitalia discreetly obscured by some other item. But, oh, well. I didn't leave room for one.

So, anyway, play safe, everyone. ¡Protejase! Trage ein Kondom. La vita che salvi potrebbe essere la tua.

Monday, September 2, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

We've hit a snag here at Bergetoons.
Ever since the latest Microsoft Windows update, I've been getting this error message in ULead Photo Express, the program I use to scan my cartoons. The scanner dutifully scans the cartoon, but then ULead tells me it's "unable to insert the file into the album." This is one of those times when I wish I were offered some option other than "OK," because when I hit "OK," the scan closes without allowing me to save the image.

ULead Photo Express is a relic of my old computer, and has never worked entirely properly on the new one. Its standard modus operandi is to save scans into various "albums," but for some reason on the new computer, ULead is the only app able to see anything in the "ULead Photo Express 3.0/Photo/" folder where those albums are. While there is a work-around for that, it's simpler to save my black-and-white .tif into another folder where my Photoshop program can find it.

(I use both graphic programs because there are some things ULead does better, and other things Photoshop does better; and ULead doesn't have CMYK capability.)

I used to be able to scan from Adobe Bridge CS5, but some Windows update over a year ago rendered it incapable of locating peripherals. Since then, Adobe Bridge doesn't seem to be of much use.

Happily, I have found a work-around for scanning my cartoons. It seems that if I start by having ULead open an already existing file, it then doesn't insist upon having a destination album selected for a new scan.

So there will be a new cartoon here in a couple of days. Stay tooned.