Damien Glez addresses the poaching crisis in Africa. For the benefit of those who never learned où est la bibliothèque, the elephant is consulting a plastic surgeon and asking to be made to look like a hippopotamus.
I like everything Glez does, even when I have no idea who the people he's drawing are or what the issue he's addressing is, simply because his style is so appealing.
When I do look into it, I generally agree with him, but it's still a pretty good example of how good art can sell bad writing, because I really like his stuff, even when I have no idea what the cartoon is about.
There are cartoonists working in English about subjects about which I'm fully up-to-date and commenting on personalities I certainly recognize who also wow me with their art even when their message baffles me, but the double-blind nature of an African commentary in a different language makes it kinder to use Glez as an example.
I do wish he'd used a rhino instead of an elephant, because they are in more dire straits and the cause of the poaching that has them nearly extinct is the huge market for rhino horn in "traditional medicine."
This means an animal is being wiped from the face of the earth for the sake of ignorant people in a modern society. That is, when non-science ruled in a pre-industrial age, the animals did better because people had neither the technology to slaughter them in large numbers nor to market the remains globally.
So now the poor rhinos and pangolins and other beleagured critters are being pressed on one side for their parts by ignorant people who don't believe in modern medicine, and, on the other, facing habitat loss due to climate change because of not-so-ignorant people who claim to not believe in modern science.
I have to admit that the traditional medicine people must be sincere or they wouldn't be paying poachers such outrageous prices for rhino horn and other nostrums. If they knew how useless this stuff was, they would have the sense to fake it. Who can tell ground horse hoof from ground rhino horn, really?
The slaughterers of elephants can at least take some comfort in that a piano key really is a piano key and a chessman really can be used to play chess, however despicable it is that the market they service even exists.
Whatever the motivation, this wholesale illegal slaughter is a more immediate crisis than climate change for both elephants and rhinos, and harder to deny.
It would be good to see more people take an interest, including not only helping spread the message in Africa that ecotourism is better in the long run for villages than aiding and abetting the poachers, but also taking a real stance globally against the barbarians who sell these ridiculous non-medicinal potions.
Granted, some of our best and brightest have been among the devotees of apricot pits, psychic surgery and other hippie voodoo. Still, at least the vegans among them could speak out on this issue.
Oh, and la bibliothèque est tout droit, mais, malheureusement, personne ne veut regarde le journal plus, which brings us to another cartoon about self-imposed ignorance and needless extinction:
Greg Cravens' strip is always called "Hubris" but it is never better named than today, in which he unloads an assault on the death of print.
I like the idea that Hubris is a newspaper reader -- always has been -- but knows to place ads for a niche event in niche places. And I particularly like that his neighbor/rival has no idea how the medium works, spends money on an oversized ad that won't reach his target audience and considers his ignorance of media a badge of hipness.
What I don't like is that too many newspapers are staffed by people like him instead of by people like Hubris -- who know the value of print while acknowledging its weaknesses.
Back in the 1950s, there were newspaper editors and publishers who refused to run articles about television, because they felt it was competition and why give it free publicity?
Their fears were overblown, since TV was more competition for radio than anything else, and, in fact, the weekly TV guide became a major driver of one-day sales until the Internet made them obsolete.
Fast-forward to the 1990s, and papers swung in just the opposite direction: In order to appear hip, they joyfully reported on the Internet, just as they had joyfully reported on the bicycle fad in the 1890s and the radio fad in the early 1920s, with the exception that now they were joyfully reporting on how nobody would care about newspapers in a few years and declaring how square you were if you read one today.
And if you think this was in any way balanced by a sane, well-considered shift to providing on-line coverage, you don't remember the ridiculously awful websites that sprang up at local papers. Or how the people who said, "I don't think we want to actually give it away ..." were sneered down by the devotees of the Emperor's New Clothes.
I was on the Internet committee at my paper, before we went interactive. There were about 10 of us, of whom three knew something about the web. The other seven did not have access at home, did not bother to use the access we set up at the office, but sure had no hesitation in voicing opinions about what our web page should be like.
I eventually quit going to the meetings. At least, in the fable of the six men and the elephant, each had touched some part of the elephant and, as little as he understood the totality, he did have some grasp of some small portion of the beast.
As far as I can tell, the experience at my paper pretty much prevailed throughout the industry.
Honest-to-god, at the next place I worked, when I got to the point where I knew I had the job and that my new boss and I would like each other, I asked him, off the record, if the paper's website had perhaps been designed by the publisher's kid or something.
It was the only explanation I could come up with, but it was not the right one.
I wish that experience hadn't been simultaneously mirrored around the country, while the reporters sneered in print about "dead trees" and how -- Pffsh! -- nobody subscribes to the paper anymore.
Postscript to yesterday's rant: Where was
Tom the Dancing Bug when I needed him?