Blowback_toon

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.

QUESTION
John Ghalt | Anchorage, AK | June 19, 2014

I'll be the kid in class who asks the question that others have too (raising hand): "Professor, what does P.R.G. mean?"

Editor's Note:

 The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam was formed in 1969 by the Viet Cong and other groups opposed to the government of then-president Thieu. It assumed control after the fall of South Vienam in 1975, and in 1976 merged with North Vietnam. You can hear the P.R.G. anthem here.

THAT KIM?
Don Albertson | Spring Mills, | June 18, 2014

Kim? That Kim? Forty years ago? Talk about foreshadowing. My 10th grade English teacher would have loved this.

MISSED THIS
Tim Morton | Leicester, UK | June 18, 2014

Lil Kim! I too missed this the first time round, and on Monday wondered if we were being introduced to Kim or Honey. It's really good to see these old strips -- some familiar favourites, and others, such as this week, new to me.

MAY I SUGGEST
Dennis Swaney | Ororville, CA | June 18, 2014

Regarding the BLOWBACK comment about missing several years of Doonesbury, may I suggest getting 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective? While it doesn't have every strip from the 40 years it covers, it would have a lot of what was missed, with a focus on the relationships among the characters. 

PRESCIENCE
Shooshie | Dallas, TX | June 17, 2014

Having grown up during the golden age of newspaper comics, I was a seasoned comic aficionado when Doonesbury hit the newsstands, and it was an instant "fit" for me. Then I went through a period during which I had to shield myself from newspapers and TV, because their brand of propaganda is subtle and insidious, and I had to find truth through my own research, not through their rapidly polarizing jingoism. Our country had been through a coup, and the Vietnam War was the first public casualty of this new government-by-talking-heads. I would have to seek out facts, not depend on what I was told.

Unfortunately, that meant I missed several critical years of Doonesbury. The first I knew of Kim, she was Mike's new girlfriend, and Mike's first wife was going through some feminist rebellion to ventilate her anger. I never knew where Kim came from, who she was, or how she came to know and love Mike Doonesbury. Fast forward to present day. My own son chose his mate some 12 years ago, a beautiful and brilliant girl born to Vietnamese refugees in the US. She is now a scientist with a Ph.D., and is one of my most favorite people in the world. I have often thought she reminded me of Kim in Doonesbury. How delightful to find out that my instincts and Trudeau's portrayal of Kim were so spot-on. I am grateful for the re-runs that are now revealing to me some of what I missed.

Up to now, they were old and familiar strips. This one of baby Kim in the airplane is completely new to me, and it reveals a prescience in Trudeau's narratives that strikes close to home. Anyone enamored of the facts can tell things as they are, but choosing which things to tell, which things will have meaning and affect our lives in the future, requires the G word: it's simply genius. Seeing these old strips reminds me daily of how lucky we've been to have Trudeau chronicling the tender and harrowing events of metamorphosis in the post-coup USA.

GEORGIA WISE
Tom Loughlin, Jr. | Utica, NY | June 16, 2014

Today's strip reminded me of Georgia Wise, the last WAC out of Vietnam, who was aboard the flight with Vietnamese refugee children which crashed on takeoff. She saved many kids. I do not think she is still on active duty, but she was stationed at Randolph AFB in Texas, and helped my WWII Air Transport Command veteran father get his discharge papers and WW II medals, back in the early 2000s. That kid looking out the window is luckier than she could ever know. 

CLOSE TO HOME
Roger Webb | Little Rock, AR | June 16, 2014

Sunday's strip hit close to home. We are keeping grandchildren while our daughter and son-in-law get a break. I am struck by how different these kids are from my own. Every meal is a major negotiation. Telling somebody “no” is the beginning of a process. I try to keep perspective. Every generation thinks the one after it is going to hell, and I guess my befuddlement over current childrearing tactics is just another example. I am distressed to see a third generation of self-absorbed women trying to raise children in the strip. At least Toggle is there to provide mothering.

KIM
Bobby Padgett | Gastonia, NC | June 16, 2014

So Abigail doesn't fit a war victim, but somehow Kim Rosenthal Doonesbury does. Kudos for the first appearance of Mike's second wife, who appears to be some 25+ years his junior.

OLD SAW
Dayne Chastant | Mesa, AZ | June 15, 2014

Speaking as a twin, let me use an old saw that still cuts: "If you want your children to follow in your footsteps, you'd better stay ahead of them!"

BY SURPRISE
Brian Corby | New York, NY | June 15, 2014

Thanks for today's belly laugh. As a 40 year veteran of the strip i can usually see where things are going (which does not diminish my pleasure in reading one bit), but today caught me by surprise, perhaps because it truly accessed a source of ongoing anxiety for me: how much is too much, how much is not enough? Uggh... Thanks again!

TO OVER-ESTIMATE
John Ghalt | Anchorage, AK | June 12, 2014

To over-estimate an as-yet-strange-woman's age, to her face, in her bed, no less, can at best be described as a "youthful error".

TOOTHPASTE
John MacKendrick | Lac Cruces, NM | June 11, 2014

Aaah. The good old days. Today, Joanie wouldn't even bother to worry about packing toothpaste. It would just get confiscated by the TSA. 

QUALITY INSTRUCTION
Tim Shimeall | Pittsburgh, PA | June 10, 2014

Frankly, if a student can come to my class and spend the time surfing the web, but still pass -- more power to them. I put my focus on providing quality instruction and involving lectures, but you cannot force students to learn. Those that do not learn will not pass, and may in turn learn a valuable lesson that their progress depends on their own effort, not some nanny riding them. Word gets around -- I don't have (or make this) a problem. I do know that the University lawyers would have an issue with the paint-ball solution.

RESTRUCTURE
John Ghalt | Anchorage, AK | June 09, 2014

The professor who finds himself competing with electronic entertainment need only restructure his syllabus. Make responses to the lecturer's questions part of the grade. Give regular, short-answer-type quizzes. Assign short essays that address the lecture material -- this could happen near the end of lectures. Be willing to de-inflate grades and willing to give grades that forestall credit. Share the quiz and essay grading with that grad student who now holds the paintball rifle.

ELLIE
Becky Manning | Washington, D.C. | June 09, 2014

Always great to see Ellie. I sure wish she'd wander (no, stride) through a 2014 strip at some point!

A CURSE
Michael Corrado | NC | June 09, 2014

Computers in the classroom are a curse! And it isn't just that some students are browsing the web or checking their email. Even those students who are most diligent are apt to be hurt by the use of computers: they try to get down everything the instructor says, and it goes from their ears to their fingers without passing through their brains. I have banned all electronic devices in my classroom (except phones for mothers and fathers with small children -- and even then the phones must be kept packed away unless there is an urgent call). I have done this for about four years, and the students by and large agree (1) that classes are more interesting; and (2) that they seem to learn more without the computers.

FALL 2014 TERM
David Hallett | St. John's, NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR | June 08, 2014

First day of Fall 2014 term, this is image #1 for "enhanced learning" in my courses.

HAVE TO WAIT
Barry Cochran | Portland, OR | June 08, 2014

Damn you, Trudeau, for drawing today's strip at the end of the academic year. We educators will have to wait until September to print this out and post it on our office/classroom walls.

CLASSROOMS WITH COMPUTERS
A Prof | Hempstead, NY | June 08, 2014

I teach in classrooms with computers. At one point instructors could see what was on the student's screen. That changed with smart phones (and budget cuts for underutilized software). It truly amazes me that many students will come to class and spend the whole time browsing or chatting on the web. Perhaps I'm teaching to those who don't care about the cost or don't care about the grade or have some social dependency for perpetual communication and support. Whatever the case, time and money is being wasted. It had been my practice to call on students who were otherwise engaged with an irrelevant or non-existing topic. It went like this:

Instructor: "Well, Mr. Smith, which argument has the most merit?"

Student: "Uh, sorry I wasn't paying attention."

Instructor: "I know. That is why I called on you."

Most of the class would smile. Now many won't know I called on a student. Sigh...

COLLEGE STUDENT
Fred McDonald | Bristol, WI | June 08, 2014

Electronic Sniper: As a 44-year-old college student I have to ask, where can I sign up to be on the team for this? Back when someone else would have been paying for it, perhaps I would have been the same way. But today, I want my money's worth!