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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.

EYE SHAPE
Patricia | Bozeman, MT | August 11, 2014

Had I not been sensitized to the significance of eye shape (wide-eyed vs. lidded) by the discussion of Sam's transition from child to adolescent, I would have missed the subtlety of the eyes in today's strip about Rick and Joanie's first date. Both start lidded, Joanie shifts to wide-eyed in panels two and three, and by the last panel both are wide-eyed with faux surprise. Dinner! No wonder there are college courses in Doonesbury.

WHERE ARE WE?
Paul | Salt Lake City, UT | August 11, 2014

Where are we? What year is it this week?

Editor's Note:

 Today's strip originally appeared on October 21, 1976.

JOY
John T. Jones | Buhl, ID | August 10, 2014

Over the years your brilliance has enthralled me. I'm 82 years old and my health is lousy. I may not be around to thank you later. But I thank you now for the joy that you have brought to me over the years.

OUTDATED
James Henson | Minnetonka, MN | August 10, 2014

Today's strip is about 20 years outdated. Many U.S. universities right now give more rights and protections to reporting parties of sexual assault than they do to the accused students.

DOUBLE-SPEAK
George Gipping | Boone, NC | August 10, 2014

"We also place a very high priority on student safety." Score another one against Orwellian double-speak. My daughter once worked at a domestic violence and sexual assault center in a small southern college town and was appalled at the self-preservation mentality and cover-up treatment of student rape by university higher-ups, too often protecting student-athletes. Similar to this recent example at Hobart and William Smith College: "Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn't."

OUTSIDE THE BOX
Nick Dangerfield | Tillamook, OR | August 07, 2014

How's this for some Innovative (idiot savant) thinking: When I read the the BLOWBACK request to "keep those comments coming," my mind came up with "Commentum Commatus." Zat outside the box enough for ya ?

BRINGS ME BACK
Ken Ross | Ottawa, CANADA | August 07, 2014

All this slightly aggressive scorn being heaped upon smart phones brings me back to one of those moments in my teens (in the '70s) when I consciously stopped myself in the middle of an elder neighbour's (that's the Canadian spelling, red underlining fascist) tirade about TV, thinking "I will never visit the same envious crap on the generations that follow me." Face it guys, we've been on this road, as Neil Postman points out in Amusing Ourselves to Death since the invention of writing. All it takes to overcome it is the will to disengage. It may be hard to hear above the noise, but thousands of our children are doing just that, leaving Facebook and Tumblr in the dust while they quietly get on with their lives.

And oh yes, let me also say thank God for Doonesbury. My triumvirate for ages was Doonesbury, Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes. My stool still rests firmly on thi s one leg. Cheers!

GRATIFICATION
Alex | New York, NY | August 01, 2014

Unlike a baby, which usually cannot control what it observes to any great extent, the young can deliberately seek out maximum gratification online. They can find diversions, they can reinforce pre-existing notions by selectively picking only those sites that reinforce their beliefs, etc. And the young are not learning, they are skimming. A smartphone? It's just a toy you take out and stroke in public.

When you have an infinite amount of "information" at your fingertips you know what you get? Reinforcement of existing beliefs. Think 9/11 was an inside job? Not a problem. There's an app for that. You do realize there's a human slave colony on Mars; Christalmighty, it's right there on the Internet, you just need to open your mind. ... Back when it was all boring and dull and difficult, and you had to -- whatever, sigh, go to the dumb library and fill out like a stupid callslip and get the book and take it to a table. You actually focused on what you were doing.

Yes, a tablet (not a smartphone, but a tablet) would have been a godsend in college: put all my textbooks on it, photocopy pages from books, write reports, take notes just by writing on the screentop. That would have been tremendous. But that's not what we've got, is it. We've got facebook and Twitter on everything. Everyone's all connected and no one can write a goddamned sentence worth reading.

THE FLOOD
Ray Lampe | Templeton, MA | July 31, 2014

Nearly none of today's young people are idiot savants. Their fascination with information, a.k.a. the world, to me resembles the sponge-like fascination and absorption of babies. Most of us don't condemn babies for being so ignorant, but instead funnel our best and most resources to their hungry and adaptive minds. Most of them turn out to be like us, the bright, knowledgeable and articulate who post on Blowback. 8-)

In a previous post here I suggested that this searching mob may be the raw material for the key to a new paradigm of education. I repeat that proposition here, pointing out the foreshadowing of existing online programs from kindergarten to graduate school. It behooves one and all to develop ways to manage to funnel the flood of information to the young people we care about, just as we did for the babies.

ACCESS
James | Phoenix, AZ | July 31, 2014

When I went to college in 1980s, I would have killed to get hold of an iPhone or other smart phone. I had a watch which contained all my data (names, addresses, phone #s, appointments, etc.), but it only held 500 items. I have learned more in the five years I've had an iPhone than I have in all my college years, and been able to apply it. Life is much simpler now that I have access to so much information. Wikipedia is a good starting place but you need to even check that -- don't go with the text as much as the articles and links provided.

All these complaints about kids nowadays and their computers: imagine back to the time before Commodore 64s, and 128s, Radio Shack, Apple, IBM, and DOS -- was that more productive or less productive for you? Half my time was spent looking things up in books -- which have essentially created and printed by computers since the 1950s. Stop your complaining, folks. You've found the enemy and you is it.

COMPUTERS
Alex | Chicago, IL | July 31, 2014

Young people using computers remind me of savants. Here's a guy who knows Shakespeare backward and forward. Literally. Recite four words and he can tell you the character the act, the scene, all of it, in a second. Has a functional IQ of 80. Here's the guy who can play any piece of Mozart. Can't compose anything himself. Here's the savant who can draw an absolutely flawless copy of any picture you show him. Hand him the materials and ask him to do something for his own enjoyment and he just stares. In other words, a search function, a CD player, and a scanner. Big deal. And I think about them when I see the young playing on their computers. Most of these people aren't writing code. Most are simply playing: a tweet here a Facebook post here. They aren't learning or thinking or reflecting, they're simply consuming.

SEPARATION
E. Bernhard Warg | Philipsburg, PA | July 30, 2014

Today's Classic strip is unintentionally prescient, with Zonker's dad telling Mike that he hopes he'll never have to experience separation from his wife.

A KICK
Marie O'Ryan | Hometown, IL | July 30, 2014

Got a kick out of Sunday's strip. Generation communications check. Middle=age Boomer fashion statement is right on -- Zonker's hat and lol that plaid!

HOPE
Edward Cherlin | Columbus, IN | July 28, 2014

According to Evangelical pollster Barna Group, 38% of Christian Millennials say that they fact-check sermons on their smart phones. There is hope for youth yet. Now if somebody would fund One Laptop Per Child to get computers into the hands of the rest of the billion children in the world... 

INTELLECTUAL LAZINESS
Romuald | New Britain, CT | July 28, 2014

Wow!! Yesterday's strip really captures the intellectual laziness of a generation that knows so little, but can diddle themselves silly on their stupid toys looking for factoids. Sadly, this is common not just in high school, but at colleges and universities, where it is quite the struggle to get incoming freshmen and sophomores interested in the world around them. As some students mature, they do learn that there is more to the world than what's on their stupid toys. One only wishes that more would dis-engage and confront the real world, not the imaginary digital one.

NEW PARADIGM
Ray Lampe | Templeton, MA | July 27, 2014

It is indeed remarkable that a young person can be impervious to knowledge offered in a conventional classroom setting and yet hold the world literally in his/her hands to access at will. Is it deplorable or a new paradigm demanding to be included, or even a key to a better educated world class? As a retired "old fogey" I've learned a brainful of stuff that gives me perspective on everything else I knew. But, unguided curiosity can give rise to a dilettante populace, knowing facts, but not understanding. I trust teachers will embrace that emerging need to guide an expanding ability to satisfy curiosity.

SPOT-ON
Bobby Padgett | Gastonia, NC | July 27, 2014

As a high school teacher, I must say that today's portrayal of Zipper is a spot-on depiction of today's students. They know so little but can Google the knowledge of the world in seconds. The only thing that would have made the strip more powerful would have been if Zipper had cut-and-pasted his response from a vandalized Wikipedia article.

HONEY
Mark Gamon | Cambridge, UK | July 25, 2014

Naturally I miss my daily Doonesbury, but it's a joy re-reading some of my favourite* moments from the past -- like Honey telling the audience to "go wild." I'm looking forward to the ball bearings...

* Please excuse my British spelling.

HOW LONG?
Norm McCracken | Porter Ranch, CA | July 23, 2014

How long, O great cartoonist, will you remain "on vacation," as you seem to have been since the Ides of March?

Editor's Note:

 GBT has put the daily strip on hiatus in order to write another season of the political sitcom "Alpha House," whose 11 initial episodes are all available online from Amazon Studios. The Sunday strips continue to be new, but twelve days before the Ides of March the Classic Doonesbury series began with the very first strip, which originally appeared on October 26, 1970. Since then GBT has been posting four weeks of dailies from each year of the strip's run. As of today, we are up to December, 1975. You can delve even more deeply into the Doonesbury archive here. GBT talks about how creating Doonesbury helped prepare him for writing "Alpha House" in this interview.

LINE
Chris | St. Augustine, FL | July 22, 2014

"Those Chinese are an especially tricky people!" I've been waiting for this one to show up. Back in college that was a line assured to get a laugh.