Casual Friday–Just Like Dubuque

Still a lot going on, here. Penny and Diana are arguing about Diana’s bad habits (the mythical Diana/Artemis did the same thing…a lot. Look it up). Steve is recognizing Phil (which comes up later), and other things.

There’s important information here that I couldn’t really place. Penny works as an administrator for her father’s private detective agency, which also has a sideline of solving problems related to the supernatural and, in particular, the loose group of immortals known as the Old Crowd. Every time Diana has one of her snits, she makes a phone call and Penny has a lot of work to do making irritations go away, especially since Diana’s snits usually result in someone dying ironically (Acteon was eaten by his own dogs).

The Dubuque incident went down like this: Diana was waiting to meet a client in a bar (she’s a sports agent) when a guy approached her seeking directions to the bathroom. She turned him into a sheep (he was wearing a wool suit), and refused to turn him back because, “He probably saw my cleavage.” (She was wearing a scoop-necked t-shirt, so pretty much everyone in Dubuque had seen her cleavage by then.)

Anyway, the upshot was that the guy was coincidentally emotionally and physically abusive, so his wife wasn’t too heart-broken over his “fatal traffic accident.” His kids got to go to college on the “insurance settlement,” and the guy himself got to enjoy an early retirement on a farm in Upstate New York, where he provided wool for the Brooks Brothers corporation until his death from more or less natural causes in 1974. He was committed to eternity with some baby potatoes and a nice mint jelly.

Shiny Things

Now that the Epiphany has officially marked the end of the Christmas Season, I can freely discuss my own beliefs without crapping all over someone else’s holiday. So, in answer to those few people who ask what I celebrate in the middle of December, I celebrate Christmas, because, why not?

There was probably some big party that related in one way or another to the Winter Solstice; every northern culture has one, but the fragments that have survived don’t mention its name or significance. Yule, for you Wiccans out there, is a Germanic holiday.

There's Kittenalia, but I'm pretty sure that's just a dodge to get extra treats.

There’s Kittenalia, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a dodge to get extra treats.

The Gaelic calendar doesn’t border its seasons on the solar events, it centers them there, with the months measured out by full moons. So Samhain, the beginning of winter, falls around the beginning of November, two full moons after the autumnal equinox, and Imbolc, the beginning of spring, is celebrated around the beginning of February, on the second moon after the winter solstice. There was almost certainly some big do on the longest night of the year, probably relating to culling and to enjoying the people you have while you have them, but it hasn’t survived.

So I celebrate Christmas, because I live in a culture where the party during the winter solstice is called Christmas, even though the person who’s birth it celebrates was undoubtedly born in early spring. Do I worship Jesus at that time? No, but I don’t care who does. It’s none of my business if someone wants to say December 25 is his god’s birthday. To me, the important thing is a day to see my family and enjoy their presence.

To me, Yeshua bin Miriam was (if reports of him are accurate) an astoundingly advanced philosopher with some great ideas about how to treat each other, but he isn’t my god. He’s my family’s god, so, as long as he continues to allow me to celebrate the shortest days of the year with them, I’m cool with that.

I’m cool with any holiday that gives me an excuse to draw my family together and tell them how much I love them, because everything can change in an instant. Refusing the opportunity to be with our loved ones over personal details of faith is stupid.

Casual Monday–ZAF!

This comic is a disappointment to me on a variety of levels. For one thing, straight, parallel lines have always been my bane, so that cage looks like it was the ball in a pick-up game of soccer. Secondly, I’m not in love with the way I drew Penny, here. But, mostly, I tried to cram too many concepts into a three-panel comic.

You can see in the dialog that I’m juggling the end of Steve’s conversation with Diana, the fact that Penny and Steve are already acquainted, and Diana’s bad habit of transforming people into easily murdered other things.

New Year’s Clearing House

Purely as a public service, and not at all to get them out of my head, I am posting a series of one- or two-line ideas I’ve had, but haven’t been able to process into something workable. Hopefully, others will find a way to expand them.

Frozen isn’t a (liberally adapted) version of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.” It’s a (painfully blatant) retelling of Wicked, only bearing character changes and a happy ending for legal and Disney purposes (respectively).

I overheard a couple of guys in a bar talking about the sorry state of the SEC. I agreed, but pointed out that’s what happens when your corps of regulators are allowed to be too closely tied to the regulated class. They looked at me like I was insane. Turns out they were talking about football.

If the best (or worst) thing you have to say about your day is that you’re clean and awake, you’re still doing okay.

I often wonder if, 500 years from now, high school English students will be forced to plow through old Two and a Half Men scripts like modern students have to study Twelfth Night.

 The Porkpie, Seersucker, and Fedora are all really the same hat with a slight variation in the size of the brim.

I wonder if there’s any significance to the fact that Edward Hermann, Donna Dixon, and Mario Cuomo all died in the same week. I’m sure a brilliant conspiracy theory could be formed on it, possibly something involving manufactured connections and the Kentucky Mafia.

A surprising number of movies get bashed for being bad when they’re really just “not as good as we wanted them to be.” Except X-Men 3. It was awful, and its plot would have made more sense if Rattnor had just watched his kid play with action figures and transcribed that.

Sometimes I look angry or upset and people ask me what’s wrong. I really don’t know what to tell them. Because the only thing actually in my head is something along the lines of, “I really like pie.”

There you go guys. Eight brilliant ideas just begging for a better writer than me to flesh them out into something worth reading.

Discourse, Rational and Otherwise

Not long ago, I mentioned that I thrive on debate. More recently, this was thrown in my face as evidence that I like starting shit. Whether the accusation is true or not, I find the evidence questionable, but only because I don’t believe that debate is a bad thing.

There are, in my mind, three levels of influential discussion. Debate, argument, and fighting. I prefer debate, and I try to avoid fighting altogether. I don’t care if someone else changes their opinion to match mine, but I don’t like being pressured to accept someone else’s opinion in favor of my own. That is why I prefer debate.

There is no winner in a true debate. That competitive argument is called debate seems ironic to me, since, in it’s purest form, debate is merely an exchange of viewpoints and the facts that support them. If I point out that Adam Smith, the father of Free-market economics was not a laissez-faire capitalist, I am not trying to sway you from your socialist stance. I’m simply supporting my view that some government interference in the economy is acceptable, as long as that interference is limited and performs the government’s primary purpose of protection from abuse.

In debate, it’s okay to agree to disagree. That is, in fact, the most likely outcome. The minute you enter a debate with the intention that you are going to change someone’s mind, it stops being a debate and becomes an argument. Arguments are laden with words of judgment. Socialism is wrong. Capitalism is unfair. Everything about an argument suggests that the other person is committing an error in holding their beliefs and opinions. Facts that don’t support your position are glossed over or ignored in favor of those that do. Conclusions are drawn that are not necessarily the result of the facts used to support them. If you state that corporate culture and power in the US is proof that capitalism doesn’t work, then you are arguing, because you are ignoring the fact that modern corporate culture stands more as an argument for more stringent enforcement of anti-trust laws than it does for further muddying of the waters separating business and the government.

Most discussions end up as arguments, because it’s hard to fathom the idea that someone, given your store of information, might draw different conclusions. In many ways, human society has out-evolved human brains, and we’re still monkeys trying to convince the other members of our troop that “fire good” or “fire bad” depending on which end of the stick we picked up. The problem arises in that many arguments devolve into nothing more than fights. You can tell you’re in a fight if you find yourself resorting to a lot of argumentative fallacies.

Mind you, I tend to have an open attitude toward such tools of argument. For one thing, the classes of argument referred to as fallacies are only fallacies under certain circumstances, and are perfectly reasonable arguments under others. If a man states that he is against abortion, it is a tu quoque fallacy to point out that one of the group funds that his mutual invests in has money in a business that experiments with fetal stem cells. It is not a tu quoque fallacy to point out that a man who loudly decries homosexuality was caught soliciting blowjobs in a bus station.

So maybe avoiding fallacy isn’t the best way to avoid devolving into a fight. Maybe the difference really lies in the lack of respect shown to the other person. If you find yourself getting emotionally involved in the other person’s failure to adopt your viewpoint, you’re probably in a fight. If you find yourself using abusive language, or threats, to impose your view on someone else, you’re almost certainly fighting. If you deride someone’s viewpoint for no other reason than that it differs from you’re own, not only are you fighting, but you’re also a bully. You need to stop that shit.

I love debate. I can trade facts and opinions for hours, and even days, and I get great joy from the things I learn in the process, whether anyone changes their mind or not. I’m okay with argument. I’m not really comfortable trying to make others change their stance, but, as long as everyone is civil, some learning can be achieved. I try not to fight, and I regret every time I was drawn into one. While I’ve often come away from debates thinking, “Wow, I never knew that.” I have never come away from a fight with anything useful, and I usually come away angry or frustrated.

Let’s all try to debate more and fight less.