Freak Flag

Prompt: Freaky


Hello Wednesday! Long time no see!

I’ve been sick and tired (in the literal sense) for the past couple of weeks— a combination of exhaustion from a week-long family reunion and the dense smoke from the surrounding forest fires that sometimes rains ashes and charred pine needles upon us.

We who live in this paradise wonder if this is “the new normal”. Stinking hot summers, fires all around us, unbreathable air— and all because of this “hoax” called climate change? I have pressed my government reps for years about prioritizing global warming as a crisis that will affect generations to come, and in the worst possible way. Now my pristine lake country home has turned, very suddenly over a few years, from a utopia into a dystopia. Is this what our children and grandchildren have to look forward to?

Fortunately, we  have cartoons to save us from despair. At least for today, for now, let’s enjoy a few giggles as I present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which corresponds to today’s casual prompt, “freaky”:

cartoon a-young-boy-asks-his-grandfather-barbara-smaller

cartoon step away from the laptop

cartoon beachball


Enjoy the last few precious weeks of summer!

Peace, love, and a clean environment,

~~FP

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Think of the Ways [Repost]

Prompt: School

child poster pollution

Yes, children: Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Taught to fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the greater reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who enable and bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.


Original Prompt: Atmospheric, November 18, 2017

The Stablest of All

Prompt: Bewildered

IMG_1073

Wednesday! You look bewildered. It is impossible for a thinking day of the week, or person, not to be bewildered by the power allotted to a certain politician. I know I am bewildered, as are most of my countrymen.

And we are not actually bewildered that such a human being exists, but that so many millions of people thought him worthy of high office. That is a crazy sandwich.

To wit:

cartoon trump genius


cartoon trump power


cartoon trump stick


Be careful out there.

~~FP

Find Yourself

Prompt: Mercy

cartoon mercy

Recently, a lot of sexual harassment and abuse cases have come to light in the American and international media. Powerful men, some known scumbags, some respected allies of the women’s movement, have been exposed as serial creeps, harassers, abusers, and assaulters.

What is clear is that there is and has been an epidemic of mistreatment of women in almost all fields– something that is not surprising to women as individuals, but the scope and grim repercussions to women who have tried to speak up are probably surprising to many of us.

Many people denounce what is called “the court of public opinion”. Innocent until proven guilty, goes the cry. Present the evidence in a court of law before passing judgement.

The problem with that viewpoint is that the justice system has failed women (and men, and children, and other victims of sexual crime) time and time again. Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump all live freely despite the –stay with me here– absolute knowledge of their wrong-doing. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK and others may never face their accusers in court, and if they did, what would be the outcome? Again, the system has let the victims of sexual abuse down over and over, because of a rule about the burden of proof that is arbitrary, unfair, ineffective, and vulnerable to manipulation and biased interpretation.

So if the courts fail us, then I am grateful to the so-called Court of Public Opinion, wherein we see serial abusers vilified, losing their jobs and prestige, and having to face their accusers without the benefit of automatic court protection.

The number of women who make false claims is infinitesimally small, because there is rarely a gain to be made that balances the public doubt and the humiliation of the legal system. So perpetrators go free and victims are silenced while their lives are altered forever.

So, welcome, Court of Public Opinion. You have done well this past month. You have doled out justice where none could be found in any other avenue.

Well done, public.

… And on a lighter note, because it is Wednesday, and unrelated to this topic or the prompt, may I present two of my favourite cartoons which have been dying to appear here at Fluffy Pool:

cartoon snoring


cartoon stick dog


Keep writing, keep paying attention. 🙂

~~FP

Think of the Ways

Prompt: Atmospheric

child poster pollution

Yes, children. Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.

Idiots and Geniuses

Prompt: Timely

flower sun

It had been a rough day for the leader of the free world. God damn it, people just didn’t appreciate him. Though many did, lots of people did not. It got confusing sometimes.

Some people said he was incompetent, weak, unqualified. They knew nothing about him and anyway those people were contradicted by others who lauded his policies, decrees, and attempts to shake up the status quo. But the critics annoyed him. He was not incompetent, but a success. He was not weak, he was a powerful man. He was not unqualified, he was a billionaire.

Obviously he relied on staff to guide him, though they were not really as astute as he was. Sometimes they irritated him with their unreasonable expectations. How was he expected to remember everything?

He had made promises which caused people to cheer and exalt him. He had an image to uphold. He knew that ultimately he did know best. He could surround himself with idiots or geniuses, it didn’t matter. He had confidence in himself. He might not have all the facts, he might not have the experience, but he had confidence and smarts.

There happened to be a person who followed him everywhere, always. This person had a device that connected him to two people who had control of the “keys”.

There were always two highly trained people who were each armed with a key and a side arm, always awaiting instruction. If they were given the order, they would simultaneously turn their keys so that ICBMs, or nuclear missiles, would immediately be launched. The key-holders were trained to understand the implications of nuclear treaties and the politics of nuclear weapons. It was important that foreign, and possibly hostile, nations understand that when the order was given, nuclear weapons would in fact be launched. This was and is the deterrent to nuclear war.

Ok, this particular head of state might not know everything about political fine points and international treaties but he knew when a business or a country had to be tough. He was steady in his confidence, even when confused. He fought this fogginess of mind in every meeting and every speech, trying to be as aggressive and single-minded as he always liked to be perceived.

It was late one night and he was up with his television and Twitter feed, and he hadn’t slept for awhile, and had had furious and passionate and confusing meetings with other politicians, and had lost face with one or more foreign dignitaries, his popularity ratings were down, some influential people called him ineffectual— and there before him on the news and trending on Twitter, was an uncompromising act of disrespect by a foreign nation towards the country. More than that, there were personal attacks on him, the leader, and boasts of power and punishment. People on TV called them dangerous, a threat that could not be ignored.

He couldn’t remember exactly but there were other reasons he was angry, really angry, completely justified reasons, even if he couldn’t articulate them.

All he had to do was call on the person with the keys. This person, who would be nearby, would provide the information; the key-holders would be called and told to activate.

They would then immediately launch one or more nuclear missiles.

There were— are— no intermediaries here. The president of the United States has completely unchecked power to launch a nuclear attack, whether defensive or preemptive. No one at all has the power to intervene.

This is fact.

There are apparently bills being introduced that would dilute the dependence of America’s nuclear defence on ICBM silos and which would require congressional approval for a preemptive nuclear launch, which currently is not a prerequisite. These bills have not been supported to date.

As tensions build in Syria and their ally, nuclear power Russia; and potential nuclear power North Korea continues to strut and provoke, recent US displays of unstrategic power by a president who many think is at best inexperienced and at worst mentally unstable, continue to be variously praised and unexamined.

Hug your kids and your friends, right now.

Boom

Prompt: Prudent

View of Budapest at Night

When Hungary was still under Soviet rule, my friend Bethany and I paid a visit to her family members as part of a backpacking trip in Europe.

We had very little information about the country and virtually no one spoke English (and our Hungarian vocabulary was limited to the word “good” —jó, pronounced “yo”, which we mistakenly thought meant “yes”. ).

Bethany’s distant aunts and uncles and cousins mostly lived in a Budapest suburb, and they duly showed us the sights of that most impressive and grand city. Saint Stephen’s Basilica and many historic plazas and works of architecture. At one point an uncle took us to a wonderful lookout with a sweeping view of the Danube River, the lights of the bridges and upon its shore twinkling as the sun started to set, and told us a long and emotional tale, introducing us to the river as if it were a long-lost lover. Of course we had no inkling of the meaning of anything he said, but his speech brought tears to our eyes.

We visited other relatives who lived deep in the countryside, where you took a magazine on your visit to the outhouse, and not to keep up with the latest trends. A massive sow shared space with the outhouse. This was the largest pig I have ever seen (still) and I think now how unfair it was that she was in such close proximity to a human waste dump. She would hardly get the best impression of her captors, and no doubt had little respect for them, even when they emptied the slop can for her dining pleasure.

These rural family members were round— very fat in that jolly way that some people have. This was because their diet revolved about potatoes, white bread, and lard. Dinner might be mashed potatoes, fresh-baked bread with lard to spread upon it, cabbage, and a small piece of mutton.

They had a movie night in this country village, and Bethany and I attended the outdoor showing of a movie, perhaps a romantic comedy, not in English, as we sat in folding chairs under the stars. After the film the younger people of the village crowded around us as we walked back to the farm. They were excited and enthusiastic, and so were we, and I don’t know why. By this time, however, being clueless was my constant state, and it was rather relaxing.

Back at our base in Budapest, a young, rather dour “cousin”, Anna, offered to take us to a kind of club one night. Armed military personnel continuously stopped all of us on the street and in the club itself and asked for ID. Anna was extremely nervous when this happened. Anyway, it turned out Anna was a bit of a slut, since all the guys knew her and she was thrilled that the excuse of taking Bethany and I out for a little excursion gave her an opportunity to flirt and make out and make plans for future rendezvous. We thought Anna was pretty wonderful.

One night towards the end of our visit, we watched the news on television with Bethany’s “uncle” and one of the lead stories was coverage of a military parade in Moscow. Thousands of soldiers, hundreds of tanks, and a bold display of bombs and possibly nuclear weapons paraded before the crowds lining the streets. Bethany’s uncle pointed to the weapons on the screen, and said to us, complete with hand gestures: “USA… boom!”

USA… boom! This was the one bit of comprehensible conversation we had with anyone in Hungary. Of course times have changed. We now have wise and prudent governance in both America and Russia.*

USA… boom!


*As of April 3, 2017, no we don’t.