Time for some laughs

As a break from political news, here are some cartoons. This first one is something that one is more likely to appreciate as one gets older and the opinions of others become less important.

(Pearls Before Swine)

I cannot tell you how many times I have experienced this second scenario.

(Pearls Before Swine)

The third one is similar to what atheist philosopher Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) said in an interview when asked this question: “My creed is this: Happiness is the only good. The place to be happy is here. The time to be happy is now. The way to be happy is to make others so.”

(Pearls Before Swine)


  1. blf says

    That second one is so so common… In a similar vein, my own “discovery” in “Newtonian Physics”: “People stop to chat at the narrowest point in the sidewalk.” There can be vast empty areas of space a step or three away, but no, the stop-and-chat has to be at precisely the position which inconveniences the largest number of people. Extra bonus points if you can obliviously completely block the entire sidewalk.

    Ok, such “pinch points” might be a common place to encounter a friend (less space for them to be elsewhere), but that doesn’t require stopping there…

  2. Matt G says

    I love 9 pm bike rides which take me through Central Park. The bike route is counterclockwise. The person biking the wrong way will have no lights or helmet, be riding in the center of the roadway without using hands, and have earbuds set so loud that even I hear it as I go by.

  3. says

    blf @1
    That is what I experience as the “runner’s/biker’s lament”: I can be running or biking down a rural road with no one insight for extended periods of time. Then cars will approach from behind and from in front. All three of us will cross paths at the same point in the road. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me.

    I assume that it’s because I tend to forget all of the instances that a single car goes by, and the double is just multiply irritating so it sticks in your head. On rare occasions, one of the drivers will slow down so that we all have sufficient breathing room. Sometimes I think there are people who time it on purpose, like the people who will not move over so much as an inch when they pass, in spite of the road being straight, level, and perfectly clear. I think there is a latent hatred for pedestrians being on “their” road. Oh, and I always wear high-viz so there’s no excuse on sighting.

  4. blf says

    jimf@3, I’m also familiar with that situation on a bicycle! Doesn’t seem to be quite as much of a problem here in France as it was in the States and the UK. In California, where a lot of my riding was done on mountainous curvy roads with few safe overtaking places, the trick was to ride in roughly the centre of the lane, so the car coming up behind you could only overtake by moving into the other (opposite-direction) lane. Even the most idiotic driver tended not to play chicken at the blind curves.

    As a courtesy to the car behind, it was useful to signal for them not to pass (and slow down), make an theatrical look as you corner (e.g., stretch out the neck to the side and obviously look ahead), and then wave the car pass (and move over to the side) once it looked safe for the car behind to overtake. Reactions varied, but a friendly wave or thumbs-up was not unknown. (Other than the odd eejit who did play chicken and overtake on a (blind) curve, my biggest fear — which has happened here in France — is the eejit would start blowing their horn, which can & does startle you.)

  5. flex says

    There has been a lot of really interesting work done on clustering phenomena. While it’s over twenty years old now, a good approachable book on the subject is, Why Do Buses Come in Threes: The Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life.

    This doesn’t explain the idiots who don’t follow the rules of the road, but I doubt there is anything besides solipsism that does.

    My pet peeve in grocery stores is the person who, in an aisle that they are obviously restocking, will stop next to the pallet the stockers are unloading. Two feet in either direction would allow people through! But no,… that’s the place they need to stop to check the grocery list on their phone.

  6. John Morales says

    For certain values of ‘funny’ — wry, in this case. 🙂

    Re the first one, there’s a difference between seeking approval from others because it will benefit one and seeking such approval because one needs validation — in the first case, it’s justified neediness.

    Re the second, there’s a difference between laws and heuristics; but yes, there is a sense that the universe is sometimes particularly perverse, and it would be so easy to indulge in superstition about that.

    Re the third, it’s a bit simplistic, but basically in accord with my own version of enlightened self-interest. It does help that I like being helpful, and not just for the rewards that might bring.

  7. stepppenwolf says

    My “favourite” iteration of #2 are the people who take one half step off an escalator and stop. Usually in pairs.

  8. Mano Singham says

    blf @#1,

    A few months ago, I was in a drug store that had very narrow aisles. The item I wanted was on a shelf and right in front of it stood two people chatting away about their vacations, blocking the aisle and the shelf. I stood there for a bit thinking it would be obvious that they should move. When they ignored me, I told them I wanted an item there and rather than move, one guy just picked an item and gave it to me. When I told him I wanted to see the full selection and make my own choice, they both rather grumpily moved a couple of feet down the aisle, as if I was being very difficult.

  9. Matt G says

    Mano@8- Is it possible you were shopping while being not-white?

    Some people are shockingly oblivious to the needs and wants of others. I was at a camp a year or two ago where two school buses had pulled up alongside one another so the drivers could chat. In doing so, they had completely blocked the roadway so our bus was unable to get by. If you thought they were just unaware of us, you’d be wrong. When we spoke to them, they flat out refused to move. Unbelievable. Of course, more believable because we were New Yorkers in Trump country….

  10. flex says

    I’d love to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know this store was up for sale.” When the expected interrogatory response occurred, to then say, “Clearly you are the new owner, the way you are living in the aisle.”

    Or in Mano’s situation, “Your vacations are fascinating, but maybe we all could go over to your house where it would be more comfortable.” Again, when the “what the hell?” is interjected, responding with, “Since you weren’t getting out of the way of my obvious desire to shop, I presumed you were inviting me into you conversation.”

    But you know that people who are already blind to others are often the first to take offense. Typically using the, “I was doing nothing but standing here talking with my friend,” defense. Which was the problem numb-skull!

    So sadly, responses like those remain unsaid. Generally after an “excuse me” is ignored, and it’s clear that something else isn’t going on (like actual shopping!), I’ll just be rude right back and push through them. I’ll even move people’s carts if they are left in the way (“don’t touch my stuff, man!). I know that’s rude, but what the hell.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    fumble throught their wallet for the exact change

    Sounds like luxury to me. My experience is this: the person in front of you -- who is always, without exception in these scenarios, a dumpy middle aged white woman -- will not fumble through their wallet for the exact change until the person serving them asks them for money. This request for payment will come as a complete surprise to them, the person who has just unloaded their shopping onto the conveyor belt/ordered a round of drinks/whatever. They will suddenly come to the realisation that some form of payment is required (sometimes they will need to be reminded of this twice). It is only at this point that they will begin the search for their wallet or purse. They will have multiple pockets or bags in which it may have been secreted, necessitating an extensive checking of all these places. Sometimes, incredibly, they will find the wallet/purse and continue the search. Only once they’ve concluded this search can they get on with the business of holding you up further by scratting around for the exact change, debating which card to pay with, or even, in one instance, realising they have no cash and that the card they’ve brought out with them has expired so they have no means of payment for the £150-worth of shopping which is mostly still sitting on the unloading section of the till, waiting to be put into their shopping trolley. I wasn’t in a hurry and had about three items on the belt, but the woman behind me looked like she’d have cheerfully fired a crossbow through the throat of the woman in front. (The woman in front simply left, leaving shop staff to load the rest of her shopping into a trolley and take it all back to put back out on the shelves.)

  12. blf says

    stepppenwolf @7, That reminds me of an incident in the London Underground last century, at Embankment(?) station (or one in that area which has long escalators to the surface). The rule at-the-time (and probably still nowadays), which was even signposted, was “stand on right, walk on left”. It was a busy time, and some ignoramuses ignored all the signs, and the people behind them shouting, and stood on the right, effectively blocking the escalator (for those unwilling to queue to eventually ride it, on the right-hand-side, to the top). I myself, stuck in the queue at the bottom, decided “this is nuts”, and being rather less polite, climbed up the left-hand-side to the ignoramuses, shoved them (rather strongly as I now recall) into the left-side as I basically climbed over them, and then “gave them the finger” when they started yelling. My memory is there was some clapping and shouts of “Bravo!” from further down…

  13. says

    Matt G. @ 9 “Some people are shockingly oblivious to the needs and wants of others.”

    Perhaps, but it’s also possible that they are fully aware and simply don’t care because their needs always come first, regardless of magnitude or urgency. Hard to believe from an adult, I know (kids, I’ll give a break).

  14. rich rutishauser says

    blf @1 and flex @5, these are the equivalent of Special Relativity. It is my belief that there is a more general case where the likely hood that 2 or more people will gather is inversely proportional to the width of the aisle (walk, path, road, whatever) and inversely proportional to the square root of the time you have available to put into dealing with someone else’s BS.

  15. blf says

    @12, Obviously, I got the rule backwards: “Stand on right-hand-side, walk up / down on left-hand-side”. Sorry!

  16. machintelligence says

    All of the standing in line situations are mere corollaries to the general observation that “the line I am in always moves slowest.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *