I'm happy to report that rampant screwballism appears to be loosening its grip. Tim Eagan is not a screwball, and his take on the whole "sagebrush revolution" kerfuffle seems not only funny but sensible.
Meanwhile, however, a couple of knee-jerk conservative cartoonists have tried to make something sinister out of the confrontation and they're not getting much support in the comments except from the "And what about Benghazi?" crazies.
Some commenters are questioning the off-the-wall historicity of the rancher's claim, others are simply saying that the guy should have paid his grazing fees like everyone else does.
This apparently isn't a cause anyone wants to go to the mattresses over; Eagan's got it: There's no "there" there.
Considering how the rabid fringe has been ginned up over other ephemeral "scandals" like the IRS sorting system, the bogus Acorn video and Benghazi, it's nice to know there is a limit to what people are willing to swallow.
Or maybe less extreme people just have decided not to let trolls and loonies dominate the atmosphere of the on-line community quite so much.
It is as if a restaurant allowed drunks to carry on, loudly and with profanity, in the middle of diners who wanted a quiet meal. It doesn't take long before you find that only loud, vulgar drunks are coming to your establishment and, if you are making a lot of money from the bar, that may be what you want.
And it shouldn't be up to the other diners to straighten things out, but maybe that's how it has to work.
I noted the other day that, when I was in advertising, we slammed down the booze like frat boys and, yes, we were occasionally asked to pipe down a bit, for the comfort of other diners. I'm mystified by how rarely that happened, looking back.
I hope some day we look back on trolls and true believers the same way.
I'm on record as not thinking much of awards, but they do sometimes help with marketing. Which is to say that, while winning one is a good thing for your resume, not winning one doesn't say squat about the quality of your work.
I won at least one award, on average, every year I was in the newsroom. The only one that actually represented my best work of the year was so damned obvious that they had to give it to me (it had resulted in federal legislation). Other times, I just happened to write about something that was stylish that year.
With that understood ...
Kevin Siers has been featured here several times, and now he's won a Pulitzer. I do not believe those two facts are related, but Daryl Cagle has the package that Siers submitted to the committee up on his site and it shows a breadth that deserves the prize. Go have a look.
And the finalists for the Eisner Awards have been announced, and I'm pleased to see among them "The Last Mechanical Monster," the web comic by Friend-of-the-Blog and Friend-of-the-Blogger Brian Fies, which was profiled here in December.
There are a whole lot of other nominees in a whole lot of other categories as well. Tom Spurgeon has a good write up that it would be pointless for me to duplicate. Go there and see what's what.
And I've already passed along the National Cartoonist Society's nominees for their 2013 "Only One Of Them Is Actually Called A 'Reuben' Awards," but if you missed it, and even if you didn't, you can find them here.
What could be better than today's Agnes?
I was going to mention how today's Agnes reminded me of a very strange story about Sir Isaac Newton and his experiments in optics, which lead to his book, entitled "Optics" or, if you read it in the original English, "Opticks."
We read both Newton's "Opticks" and Christiaan Huygens' "Treatise on Light" in school but, being the sort of person I am, most of what I remember was that Sir Isaac was very strange pretty much across the board and not simply in this one bizarrely obsessive experiment.
So I went to look it up and stumbled across a podcast that combines actual science and history with a celebration of strange and fascinating facts, including some comparisons of Sir Isaac Newton and Sheldon Cooper.
Any fool can make jokes about apples and fig newtons, but I truly admire people who can be flippant about stuff which they actually do understand.
You can read the transcript here, or you can watch the video below. Best exchange is when they talk about Newton at the junction of science and magic:
Dr. Pamela Gay: John Maynard Keynes actually wrote that Newton was the first of the Age of Reason, but the last of the magicians, and so here you have this man of science, but he wasn’t actually a man of science. He…in his head, it was the occult, it was religion, it was alchemy, and he was simply trying to prove it with reason as the Age of Reason was getting started. This wasn’t mainstream. He was the guy on the radio in the middle of the night, except he had the math to back up what he said.
Fraser Cain: But I wonder if he, like, putting it into the context of the time…
Pamela: No. He was still a crazy dude.
The Agnes part is at 17:45, but they bail on it because it's just too weird.
I took a three-course sequence in the History and Philosophy of Science, and Sir Isaac was my favorite part.
I also got in the middle of a snit yesterday for saying I was disappointed in the new "Cosmos" series because I thought it was too full of whizz-bang graphics and too light on moments when even someone who knew the subject matter would find a new wrinkle, something Nova seems to pull off with regularity.
Well, I'm sure that somebody's gonna hate this podcast, and that's cool, but it made me laff and it showed me some new wrinkles.