A juxtaposition on a rant familiar to those who follow this blog: Who is your audience and are you excluding young readers who form the future?
Apparently, judging by this pair, the answer to the first part is "People in their forties," which isn't such a bad thing, though it doesn't address the second part.
Then again, the second part has always been a bit tricky.
I've justified the presence of Garfield on the comics page because it's accessible to young readers, but it's not aimed at them: Fourth graders don't care if Jon ever gets lucky with women. Still, they might get a chuckle out of Hagar, just as I liked Family Circus and Miss Peach when I was little.
But there aren't many strips targeted at kids, beyond the arts-and-crafts sorts of Cappy Dick and Slylock Fox pieces that aim to exercise young minds. I liked those sorts of strips, too, but they don't prepare you to become a comics aficianado, they don't teach you the set-ups and punchlines of cartooning.
I was in a conversation about kids and comics with someone who prefers Zits to Big Nate, but the difference is that Zits is a strip in which adults reflect upon the foibles of kids, while Big Nate is about a kid. It's a huge distinction, because Zits can riff on traditional gags, while Big Nate needs to be keyed in to the actual concerns of middle-school kids.
There's nothing wrong with aiming at an adult audience: Within living memory, at least, subscribing to a newspaper was a sign of adulthood, of becoming a citizen in the political-philosophy sense.
As a young adult, you're allowed a certain period of renting houses with an old couch on the porch and of not cutting the lawn very often, but eventually you grow up, buy a house and take some pride in how it looks.
About then, you begin to pay attention to what the city council is deciding and you start subscribing to the paper to find out what's going on in the place you are putting down roots.
Which analysis shows that I'm well over 40, because this hasn't been true for years. A colleague in the newspapers-in-education business used to require teachers in her program to attend a workshop because they couldn't use the newspaper to teach kids if they didn't themselves know how it works.
By which I mean many of them didn't know it had an index, much less that the question "What is the reading level of the newspaper?" is meaningless unless you specify which section you are referring to.
That was over a decade ago and I'm sure hasn't changed.
Anyway, I laughed at both strips today, because I caught those cultural references.
They were to bands that my kids used to listen to.
Plus the incredibly-old granny made a reference to "flashbacks," which is from my own generation.
Bears don't wear overalls and hats or carry shovels, but you should still dowse your campfire thoroughly and not throw smouldering cigarette butts out your car window.
And there isn't a huge island of bottles and caps and toys and tires swirling around in the middle of the Pacific, but the ocean still has cause to curse our plastic waste.
Here's a nine-minute clip from the last week's On the Media in which Bob Garfield interviews the guy who wrote this Slate piece about what's really going on out there.
Which, as said, is pretty bad, even if it isn't much like the way it's been portrayed.
Jimmy Margulies has it right: It's one small piece of the puzzle and very far from the whole thing.
I certainly agree with those who complain that Maddow and her network overhyped the find, but, then, I've never been a fan of talkshow hosts who make strong, staccato declarations in clipped imperatives, whether it's Maddow or Olbermann or the sports-talk radio hosts, though the latter have the excuse that they're just riffing until some cooperative drunk dials in.
Nor am I fooled into thinking that a 1040 tells you everything you could want to know.
Or that finding a piece of tape over a door latch in the Watergate Complex, or the name of a spy-novel writer in a burglar's notebook, proves that the President of the United States ordered the break-in of a psychiatrist's office months earlier in a different building several miles away.
I've sparred with murder investigators over whether they should release what they know so far or wait until they've made an arrest.
My arguments for transparency were that (A) the public needed to know the level of current danger in their community and (B) you might inspire someone to call and fill in some more of the gaps.
In this case, the people saying "So what?" are not only missing the (B) factor, but missing some revelations that do matter, one of which is that, despite speculation, Trump paid taxes.
Which may not be what you wanted to hear, but that's hardly an honest measure of worth.
The other is that he paid a whole lot more than he would have if not for the Alternative Minimum Tax, so, if you wondered why he wants to get rid of the AMT, now you know.
Here's a third: If Maddow had given it the 15 minutes it deserved, we wouldn't be talking about it.
As for Admiral Ackbar, let's not swathe our heads in tin foil just yet.
Speaking of growing up and becoming responsible:
(Welcome to the One Percent, lads.)