political comic strips

I have been duped. Well, not really. But I allowed myself to be misled.

When we first moved here to Hemet and started PricklyCityreading the Los Angeles Times I wrote that my new favorite comic strip was Prickly City. I enjoyed the way the strip skewered some of Hillary Clinton’s less desirable qualities, even though I fully support her run for the White House.

What I realized eventually was that the creator of the comic strip, Scott Stantis, very much comes from the political right. The good news, though, is that he comes from a thoughtful William F. Buckley version of the right, not from the wacko tea party version of the right. So much so that he skewers Donald Trump as much as Hillary.

This all made me think about the political comic strip in general. If not the first, the first political comic strip to hit it big was DoonesburyDoonesbury. After appearing in the Yale campus newspaper, Doonesbury hit national syndication in, I believe, 1970. It quickly became a favorite of many of us left-wing bleeding-heart liberals. Sadly, Gary Trudeau stopped drawing Doonesbury last year (except for Sunday), and the weekday strips went into reruns. It is interesting, though, seeing the strips from several decades ago. The strip is currently working its way through the 1980’s.

BloomCountyDoonesbury was quickly followed by Bloom County, which at the outset in the 1970’s looked very much like a Doonesbury knockoff. Nonetheless we left-wing bleeding-heart liberals enjoyed it almost as much as Doonesbury. Creator Berk Breathed gave up the strip twenty-five years ago, but recently brought it back online, where he doesn’t have to worry about syndicate and newspaper censors.

In the past several years, Mallard Fillmore has taken on the cause of the right. While the strip MallardFillmoresometimes hits the mark, it also frequently hits it subjects with a much more blunt instrument than Prickly City. Mallard’s creator, Bruce Tinsley, however is a decent guy. When he once mentioned Madeleine L’Engle in his strip in a very favorable light I sent him an email and got back a very gracious reply. Turns out his wife is a liberal-left civil rights attorney. He said they have some very interesting discussions at home.

So there you have my not-so-authoritative survey of political comic strips. And as much as Mallard Fillmore annoys me sometimes, it really is good to have a diversity of viewpoints.

spaces after periods

The penguin Opus, with Bill the Cat as his running mate, has entered the presidential race in the revived Bloom County comic strip. At the end of last week Opus came out strongly on the divisive issue of how many spaces to use after a period. His position, I am sorry to report, supports two spaces after a period. That this is a highly emotional issue can be seen from the comments when my friend Jane Redmont posted the first strip on her Facebook timeline.

My position is that two spaces after a period is a factor of the monospaced fonts used on typewriters, and that when using a computer with proportional fonts spacing is handled automatically, and only one space is needed.

Mignon Fogarty, known as Grammar Girl, not so much an authority in her own right, as someone who has undertaken the work to do the difficult research on our behalf, takes this position. Likewise, the Web site GrammarBook.com, based on The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, published by the respected technical publishing house Wiley, agrees. Also in agreement is the The Chicago Manual of Style Online Q&A.

Oddly, grammar.com states: “In word-processed documents, two spaces traditionally follow a sentence-ending period.” But it then admits that the rule is changing and goes on to cite the Modern Language Association:

quotePublications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark.

I can only think that that first sentence refers to early word processors, when word processing and computing were done on different hardware.

Mignon, in her Grammar Girl post on the subject, refers to what she calls “a long and fascinating piece” that takes the dissenting view. Personally, I found the piece much more of an angry rant, but for the sake of completeness, I include the link here.

Bottom line: Sorry, Opus. It’s one space after a period.



it’s about Communion and the liturgy

There is a lot of complexity in returning to the town I left 41 years ago.

One might think that I would want to return to the Methodist church in which I grew up. Indeed I had that thought.

But while I am in many ways the same person who left Hemet 41 years ago, in others ways I am a different person. Certainly from a religious and spiritual perspective I am a different person.

waferI have moved through apostasy and secularism, to Unitarianism, and then New Thought (that being reflected in Unity and Religious Science), to a deep affection for and desire to be part of Judaism, back to Religious Science and training for and being licensed as a Religious Science practitioner. I then gave that all up, because I was burned out and it wasn’t working for me, and turned to the Episcopal liturgical path. I had a ten-year sojourn into the Lutheran version of the liturgical tradition, but returned to the Episcopal world when I found, thanks to my spiritual director, a healthy, stable Episcopal parish in south Santa Clara County.

So when we arrived in Hemet my first church visit was to the Episcopal parish, Church of the Good Shepherd.

It was the only church visit I needed to make. It offers what I need. It is the liturgy and the Communion which feed me.

And that is a Good Thing.

Sacred Music Friday: Ave Maria

The Robert Parsons setting of Ave Maria. This was inspired by my friend Fran, who, by the way, is planning on walking the Camino de Santiago next year. The link she shared contained the full 60 minute version. For Sacred Music Friday purposes, here is a six-minute excerpt with a smaller choir.

are we running with you, Jesus?

Are You Running With Me, Jesus? is the title of a book published by Episcopal priest Malcolm Boyd in 1965, fifty years ago. It is a book of prayers reflective of the turbulent 1960’s in which Boyd speaks directly to Jesus in everyday, casual language about society and the struggles people face. Boyd published a revised edition ten years ago (with the cigarette omitted from the cover photo) that to me did not have quite the edge of the original.

MalcomBoydThe inversion in the above title is courtesy of the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Are we running with you, Jesus? was the title of a workshop she did for the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi in August, as well as a sermon she preached at All Saints’ on a recent Sunday. The reversal does justice to Boyd. He himself published a book in 2000, now out of print, entitled Running with Jesus.

Susan makes the point in her sermon that Boyd’s prayers from 1965 are as relevant today as they were in 1965. She’s correct. She reads from the book:

quoteHere I am in church again, Jesus.

I love it here, but, as you know, for some of the wrong reasons. I sometimes lose myself completely in the church service and forget the people outside whom you love. I sometimes withdraw far, far inside myself when I am inside church, but people looking at me can see only my pious expression and imagine I am loving you instead of myself.

Help us, Lord, who claim to be your special people. Don’t let us feel privileged and selfish because you have called us to you. Teach us our responsibilities to you, our community, and to all the people out there. Save us from the sin of loving religion instead of you.

Yes. I could do worse than to run with Jesus.

casual kitchen

You are no doubt tired of reading about how much I loved our remodeled kitchen in Gilroy. And indeed I loved, along with all the other aspects of the kitchen, our granite counter tops. Yet at the same time they were a pain.

Our granite counters were something like a tightly wound individual you felt you had to tiptoe around. Or perhaps a high-maintenance lover. We couldn’t put anything hot on them. We couldn’t cut anything on them. And when I was employed and we had cleaning people show up every other week, I would clean the counters with granite cleaner on the morning of their scheduled day so they didn’t use anything harmful or abrasive on them.

Here the situation is much different. We have synthetic tiles. They’re tough. I can put a hot pan or tray on them. I can cut a lemon on them. And all is fine.

Not as elegant, but much more relaxed.

on not looking back

Terry and I made a deliberate, thought-out decision to leave Silicon Valley and the Bay Area and move to the Southland in general and the Inland Empire in particular. The decision was made rationally, and my financial advisor signed off on it as the Right Thing to do under the circumstances.

So here we are. Terry still reads the Roadshow roads and highways column in the San Jose Mercury News and she reads the San Francisco Chronicle sfgate.com Web site.

I don’t.

That would just make me unhappy and frustrated and homesick.

We’re here. In SoCal. All I can do is look forward.

weather geeks

weatherA Facebook friend recently referred to herself as a weather geek. I guess Terry and I qualify as well. At least we pay an inordinate amount attention to the weather given that a) we don’t have jobs or commutes that require us to be out in the weather and b) there’s nothing we can do about it.

We brought with us from Gilroy an outdoor sensor and two wireless weather stations that display temperature and humidity. One has always sat in my office and the other in the master bedroom. One of the stations gave out a while back, and though this particular model is no longer manufactured, I was able to find a replacement on eBay.

Now the one in the bedroom is not displaying the outside data. I ordered a new model from weathernewAmazon yesterday, and as if it knew of my actions, it started displaying the data again. But once again this afternoon it quit displaying, so I guess I did the Right Thing by ordering the new model. Thanks to Amazon Prime it should be here tomorrow.

The new set will be nice. In addition to temperature and humidity it displays the barometric pressure. And since they units use alkaline batteries rather than solar-powered rechargeable batteries, the display won’t blip out when the light is low. I looking forward to receiving the new set tomorrow.

Yep, we’re weather geeks.

Sacred Music Friday: If the Lord Be Willin’

Westminster Chorus, If the Lord Be Willin’

moving from Internet Explorer to Firefox

When I upgraded to Windows 10 I was introduced to Microsoft’s new Web browser, Edge. I didn’t like it at all. Don’t ask me precisely why. I simply didn’t like the look and feel and behavior. Fortunately Internet Explorer (version 11) was still available, though I had to do a search to find it.

Internet Explorer (IE) has long been my default browser, though it certainly has its annoying behaviors. There is one annoyance that seems to have gotten worse with IE on Windows 10. When I open a site that loads a lot of different components, like CNN or Food Network, it often throws up a message that says, “Internet Explorer has  stopped working.” While it normally closes and reopens the tab fairly quickly, it is still incredibly annoying. This finally happened one too many times and I made Firefox my default browser.

For the most part Firefox behaves fairly well. And I have yet to experience the “stopped working” message with Firefox. I still tend to use IE for financial Web sites, though I know that is not rational. Firefox is every bit as secure as IE.

For now I am going to stick with Firefox for the most part.