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Blowback

A clean, well-lit place to vent

Please feel free to contribute to this frequently-updated forum, which posts selected commentary on our favorite comic strip. If you’d like your critique to be posted, please note that civility, if not approbation, counts. Click here to submit a comment.

OUT OF LUCK
Tom | Lafayette, CA | August 11, 2011

A few technical corrections re the current storyline: The INS has not existed in nearly a decade. It's up to USCIS to grant benefits, ICE for enforcement, CBP for the borders, the DOL for labor certification and employment-based visa regulations, the State Department for visa issuance abroad, and administrative courts that are run under the joint authority of DHS and the DOJ but subject to the interpretations set by the EOIR and the Circuit Courts of Appeal.

You can't just get asylum by having a friend in the asylum office. You need to make an application and supply full documentary evidence proving that you have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution specifically because of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group. You must also prove good moral character to show that you deserve the discretionary benefit of asylum. Then you have to wait several months (sometimes over a year) for your interview. If your interviewer recommends approval of your application, the interviewer must still convince his or her supervisor to approve it too.Then you are subjected to a rigorous background screening for criminal convictions or unconvicted crimes committed in this country as well as internationally, and to ensure that you pose no threat to national security.

President Bmzklfrpz would certainly be barred from asylum eligibility because he has participated, ordered and incited the persecution of others. The one thing he has going for him is that it looks like he's made his application within one year of his arrival to the US, and can prove it via Overkill's billing records. (That requirement alone weeds out the majority of otherwise worthy asylum applicants.) Given how universally hated he is, Bmzklfrpz could also prove that there is nowhere else in the world he would be safe: that's also a requirement.

Asylum by no means guarantees you a green card (permanent residence). Asylum allows you to apply for an employment authorization document, but that's it. One year after your grant of asylum, you become eligible to apply for permanent residence, but the background screening and eligibility requirements are even more stringent for green card applicants than they are for asylum applicants. No way President Bmzklfrpz would make it: as a perpetrator of genocide, he'd be statutorily barred even from lawful admission to the United States, let alone ever achieving lawful immigration status. I hate to say it, but Duke's client is out of luck.

CHILLING
Stafford Smith | Grand Rapids, MI | August 10, 2011

I wonder if the whole narrative with Trff is meant to imply that Saddam Hussein is still alive. Maybe he's chilling with Elvis?

BMZKLFRPZ
Pam Bishop | Atlanta, GA | August 10, 2011

Bmzklfrpz will be discovered to be a long-lost cousin of Grover Norquist.

TRFF
Brett Bayne | West Hollywood, CA | August 09, 2011

Doonesbury is awash in humorously deluded characters (Jeff takes the prize there), but surely the most hilariously rendered is President-for-Life Trff Bmzklfrpz, with his comically tiny cranium. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this Hussein-meets-Niyazov madman and his ever-present cigar.

NO NEED
Brian Ashworth | Werribee, AUSTALIA | August 07, 2011

There is no need to change the colour of the roof. Good reflectors of heat are also bad emitters of heat. A shiny surface saves money summer and winter.

LOUVERED
Pete | Mohnton, PA | August 07, 2011

How about louvered roof panels -- black on one side, white on the other -- like a billboard switching ads. Pull a lever to change 'em up. Could be done on a daily basis, as needed.

DARK ROOFS
Michael | Edmond, OKLAHOMA | August 07, 2011

Funny. I've been thinking about the dark roofs lately. In Oklahoma it's been over 100 for the past 47 days.

STOCK
G.M. Watkins | Washington, D.C. | August 07, 2011

Re: Michael and Bernie's changing reflective/absorbing roofing venture. I. Want. Stock. (now!)

SHORT ANSWER
Ronnen Levinson | Berkeley, CA | August 07, 2011

Cool roofs happens to be my field, so it's fun to see it in Doonesbury. The short answer to Mike's question is that the summer cooling savings associated with substituting a white roof for a black roof are much greater than the winter heating penalty, primarily because in cold U.S. climates a roof receives about three to five times more daily sunlight in summer than in winter. (In winter the sun is low, the days are short, and the sky tends to be cloudy.) Hence the annual net energy cost savings (annual cooling energy cost savings - annual heating energy cost penalty) is positive nearly everywhere in the U.S.

There are three further issues with switchable roofs. 1) The small magnitude of a white roof's annual heating energy cost penalty limits the potential benefit of switchable roofing. That is, a switchable roof would save more energy than an always-white roof, but not a lot more. 2) The added benefit of a switchable roof is nil when the roof is under snow, because all snow-covered roofs are white. 3) The switching method would have to be electrochromic, rather than thermochromic, because a thermochromic roof will tend to suffer from a negative feedback that drives it toward gray. That is, a thermochromic switchable roof will darken as it cools, but getting darker will make it warmer, which will make it lighter, which will make it cooler, and so on. (For more about cool roofs, including maps of energy savings and penalties, click here.)

IDEA
Todd Cline | Fredericktown, OH | August 07, 2011

Hey, Mike just stole my idea!

THE SKYTHERM SYSTEM
John Justice | El Paso, TX | August 07, 2011

Today's strip reminded me of the Skytherm System developed in California in the 70s. Not exactly what your cartoon suggested, but has the same effect. It is located in Atascadero, California (approximately 12 miles north of San Luis Obispo). When outside temperatures were in the triple digits for extended periods, the homes internal temperature was in the high 60s.  Thanks for keeping the interest up in energy saving by passive means.

HERRING
Bill | Peoria, IL | August 07, 2011

I thought the idea of painting roofs white was to diminish their impact on global warming not on air conditioning bills. And heat rises instead of sinks, so I imagine the impact on heating bills in the winter would be negligible. There's far less sunlight to be absorbed during the winter, especially in the colder, northern regions, and in any case nature herself often ends up painting roofs white -- with snow. It looks like GBT's chasing not even a red, but a dull brown herring.

LICKED
Chris Saulnier | Gray, MAINE | August 07, 2011

Us Mainahs have this problem licked. It's called snow!

PAINTING ROOFS
Glenn Arnold | Poughkeepsie, NY | August 07, 2011

Re. today's strip about painting roofs white: Black roofs absorb heat from the sun in the daytime, but they radiate heat away into space at night. The black roof will lose more heat at night than it receives during the day during the winter. Painting a roof white is like adding insulation, except that it only works for radiative heat transfer. There are times when insulation works against you also, but on balance, it's better to have it than not. Of course, if Bernie can develop a roof that changes color between day and night, you'd have a winner.

TWO STEPS
Alan Harrison | New York, NY | August 07, 2011

Today's strip perfectly captured the two steps of an inventive process, and a key reason why it is sometimes so hard to convince non-inventors that a genius invention is "non-obvious." Given the progress of the America Invents / Patent Reform Act of 2011, this strip is quietly timely.

WHAT IT WAS LIKE
F.R. Pamp | Colorado Springs, CO | August 06, 2011

The Flashback strips from years ago often take me back -- they provide a flavor and texture, well known at the time but long since forgotten. The recently-featured 30-year-old conversation among Mark (as radio host), a guest who counsels vets, and a Vietnam War vet caller reminds me so strongly of what it was like back then. Americans didn't realize how badly many of them treated us, and PTSD didn't even have a name yet. Long time gone.

REALITY CHECK
Brenda Kleinfelder | Eugene, OREGON | August 05, 2011

I see where you're going with Jeff's Mom considering reentering the job market after a long break from her career. I'm in the same spot. Here is the reality check. No matter how much experience or ego one may have, step out of line, good luck gettin' back in! That's the up-shot of my experience at the age of 53 returning to the job market. There are no spaces open. Stay true to that American nightmare and I'll stay true to reading you everyday. Deal?

JOB MARKET
Dean C. | Atlanta, GA | August 05, 2011

Re. MY GENERATION. Everyone keeps saying it, but this is not the worst job market since the Great Depression. The job market of the 1970s and early 1980s (when most of the Baby Boomers enetered the workforce) was much worse than today.

TEXTING
Lance M. | San Jose, CA | August 04, 2011

I really enjoyed the shot at texting. Thank you! Here's a great short TED talk by Julian Treasure, called Five Ways to Listen Better.

OUR KIDS
Angie Shiraishi | Northern VA | August 04, 2011

Wow! It's awfully hard to criticize our kids when they are just taking their cues from their parents. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." When Jeff realizes that his mom is fantasizing about a job that doesn't exist they suddenly have a lot more in common than either would previously like to have admitted. But when it comes down to it the most successful people in this world are the ones who were willing to dream, fantasize, and then create the job that best defines them. I suspect this is something that earlier generations have realized on a more conscious level than does the current one, and the real challenge in parenting today lies in helping our kids connect with this process of making one's future for oneself.

Jeff's parents need to realize that he is, indeed, taking his cues from them; he is just stuck between the fantasizing and the leap of faith required to make that dream into a reality. Perhaps this epiphany will finally lead Jeff to find a way to live his dream job, and help his parents to realize that they do have an impact on his life course even at this later stage.