Archive for August, 2011

The Three Things Guaranteed to Ruin the Last Few Days of Our Precious Michigan Summer…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 20, 2011

Anybody get the Caddyshack reference?


At the Automaker/UAW Negotiating Table…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 13, 2011

Guess I was feeling a little nostalgic because I was just at my class reunion for Flint Powers High School last weekend, which, by the way, was a blast. One big benefit from having gone to high school in the late 70s/early 80s — the fashions and styles back then were absolutely horrible (think thick polyester and feathered haircuts). So now, even having aged slightly, I think it’s fair to say that we all look much, much better.

Also by comparison, the relationship between American automakers and the UAW are much better now. Back then there was a distinct and contentious divide between management and union, white and blue collar, suits and shop rats. And the cars were crappy. Now after a few near-death experiences, the working relationship has improved tremendously …and so have the cars. It’s not nearly as entertaining, and the full medical/dental/vision/pension/vacation sure was nice while it lasted, but the cars are better….


Mistaking Exaggeration for Advocacy…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 6, 2011

The proliferation of outlets for people’s opinions has had, I believe, a specific detrimental effect on editorial cartoons. With blogs and comment boards and talk radio/TV, more and more people can opine more strongly, more boldly, and with less editing, which pushes discourse to the extreme in order to stand out and be heard. Historically, editorial cartoons have used exaggeration to make their point. They are not intended to be taken at face value — they are often meant to be ridiculous and entertaining to reveal a truth by contrast. Unfortunately, I think more and more readers miss the exaggeration and assume pure advocacy.

So in this cartoon, for instance. I’m not saying all our country’s problems can be solved by reading books to kids. I’m simply saying that some of time spent going on and on about what is the best for “the future of the children” (re: the recent debt ceiling debate) could be much more effective by actually, you know, spending time with our children. (Note: The book the kid is holding is “Olivia” by Ian Falconer, which is one of my all-time favorites.)

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Meanwhile at the Government Labs…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, July 30, 2011

An aggressive invasive species known as the Asian Carp has been threatening to enter the Great Lakes for some time now. They have worked their way up the Mississippi River system to the canals around Chicago that connect to Lake Michigan. Suggestions have been made to close these canals to prevent the Asian Carp from getting in and wreaking havoc with the commercial and sports fisheries of the Great Lakes. For now, electrified barriers are supposedly keeping them in check.
But every few months it seems that there is more DNA evidence that the Asian Carp are making it through. And every few months the various agencies and organizations that are involved seem to settle back to a position of “more study.” Which leads us to the cartoon….