A clean, well-lit place to vent

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John Halbert | Los Angeles, CA | August 14, 2011

This is one of the only times I completely disagree with GBT.  I have to express a voice of dissent regarding today's strip about critical reasoning vs. socializing in college. I have a degree in philosophy from Swarthmore; I received about the best possible education in critical reasoning possible. But I also studied far too much, and didn't socialize anywhere nearly enough. As a result, I was completely burned out -- emotionally and intellectually -- by the time I graduated, and was lacking some key social skills, like how to network, and how to relate to members of the opposite sex. Spending 30-40 hours a week sitting alone in a room reading books was seriously unhealthy for me. So if today's kids are spending more time socializing than on their studies, I say more power to them.

As for the idea that employers care about someone's ability to reason: I've had dozens of interviews over the years. Only one person ever brought up my undergrad degree. He hired me, but it turned out to be one of the worst jobs I ever had. A year after you graduate from college, almost no one cares where you went.

Grant H. | Hamilton, CANADA | August 14, 2011

Critical thinking. I've taught university biology for 10 years in 5 U.S. institutions. There are blessed exceptions, but many students cannot write a meaningful sentence. I was accused of using "trick questions" in multiple choice exams because I used different wording (in standard English) rather than simply print a textbook sentence with one word missing. I was told "this isn't English class" when I expected the most basic grammar in short answer questions. Many students seemed unable to generalize from one basic concept to other concepts. They found physiology hard because it required comprehension of a logical sequence of events that was impossible to memorize. Meanwhile, at one California State University, it was accepted by students and faculty that it was impossible to get less than an A or B in humanities courses. Yet essays and term papers in the humanities should be where students learn to create, write and critique a logical argument, and develop critical thinking.

It appears that it has been accepted that an education is the key to getting a job. When they found not everyone could meet the standards, standards were lowered, so that a B.A. is not worth what a high school diploma once was. And of course the corrosive effect of for-profit educational institutions putting student retention and satisfaction above actual accomplishment. Keep up the fine work.

Emily | USA | August 14, 2011

Today's strip is so true of American education in general. I am an eighth grade English teacher, and it is truly frightening how school administrators are willing to pass students just to keep parents happy. Teachers are under so much pressure to slack off on grading standards it's not even funny (unlike this comic, which is one of the bright spots in my day). I've actually had students like the boy in the last panel say similar things to me in all sincerity, no exaggeration.

Micah Drayton | Boston, MA | August 14, 2011

I enjoyed today's strip. However, I can't help but notice that it adds to the chorus of financially secure elders telling my generation our historic levels of unemployment are the fault of our stupidity, ignorance, and lack of work ethic. I guess I shouldn't be surprised: the older generation has been warning about the decline of the youth for some time. Three thousand years, to be exact. Still, turnabout is fair play. I look forward to blaming my children for a lack of hunting skills when all we have to eat is rat...

Matt | Brooklyn, NY | August 13, 2011

It's great to see one delusional deadbeat brought into reality. Perhaps the same thing will happen to Jeff. And Zipper. And Zonker.

Jonathan Bernstein | Perry City, NY | August 13, 2011

Had to laugh outloud seeing your unflappable, smiling, double-chinned bureaucrat process Trff from a dictator into a taco cart operator. Who knows -- maybe two taco carts! Nice work.

Alan | Newark, NJ | August 12, 2011

Re. OUT OF LUCK. Whatever the current government agency is called, if there is anyone with the wherewithal, gall, and dirt on various federal employees to get a genocidal dictator asylum in the United States, it's Uncle Duke. I'm just saying.

James Bailey | Phoenix, CA | August 12, 2011

I liked the image of the workers walking while the limousine with the deposed head of state in it passes by. Soon, he too will have the look of dispassionate submission to the fates that these workers do -- like we all do right now. What social commentary. Thank you, Garry.

Treva Obbard | Albany, CA | August 11, 2011

Trff and Zonker should get together and compare notes on being long-standing houseguests.

Bill | New York, NY | August 11, 2011

A houseguest for 134 days? Try 151 days. That's how long I had my unwelcome house guest. Duke has all my sympathy. I hope he doesn't have to resort to messy eviction procedures, since by now Brzwhatsisface has residency in his house. To those inclined to be charitable to suddenly homeless friends, some advice: 1) Do not allow your guest to stay past the time required to establish residency. It can be anywhere from a week to a month, depending on where you live. Be clear ahead of time that (s)he can't stay longer. 2) Do not allow your guest's mail to be delivered to your house. Suspend delivery and pick up at the post office if you have to. Mail can be used to establish residence. 3) Do not allow one stick of your guest's furniture in your home. Offer to pay for a self-storage unit for one month. It's cheaper than a lawyer. 4) Never make promises or assurances such as "You can stay here as long as you need/want." 5) When your time limit is up, be firm and tell them they have to leave. If they resist, do not resort to physical force, intimidation or the like. Call the police and let them handle it.

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.

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?

Pam Bishop | Atlanta, GA | August 10, 2011

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.)

Todd Cline | Fredericktown, OH | August 07, 2011

Hey, Mike just stole my idea!