New Cartoon: Trump and Trans Soldiers

If you like these cartoons, you can help me make more by supporting my Patreon. Even a $1 pledge means a lot to me.

This ripped-from-the-headlines cartoon was posted on The Nib today. Thanks, Nib!

I think this may be the first time I’ve drawn Donald Trump.


Panel 1
Donald Trump, standing on a stage behind a podium with the Presidential seal on it, is speaking. He’s wearing a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to Soldiers, January 20, 2017
TRUMP: I have your back!

Panel 2
A female soldier looks down, surprised, to see that someone has stabbed her in the back, the knife tip emerging from the front of her chest. We can see that the knife is being held by someone in a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to trans soldiers, July 26, 2017.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 5 Comments  

A Couple of Education-Related Union Blog Posts People on Alas Might Be Interested In

In September, I start my first full term as Secretary of my faculty union. One of my responsibilities is to write and manage the union blog, which has been very interesting, both because I have been given more or less free rein in how I do so and because of the ways in which I am constrained by the fact that it’s a union blog, written in a corporate voice (all posts go out as authored by the NCCFT Executive Committee), which is has till now been used primarily to talk to the membership about campus-related matters. I am slowly trying to introduce more outward-facing, issues oriented posts, and below are two that I thought might be of interest to people on this blog, based on conversations we’ve had before. They are framed in terms of their relevance to the college where I teach, but the issues they address are not relevant only to my campus:

  1. How Do You Measure a Community College’s Success?
  2. Governor Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship Program Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

You are of course welcome to post comments on either of the posts themselves, just be aware of two things:

  1. Your first comment will need to be approved by me, which might take some time if I am not near a device that I can use to approve it.
  2. I will not be able to participate in the conversation as myself, since it is the executive committee’s policy to maintain only a corporate presence on the blog. (We want to avoid the confusion that inevitably results because people tend to assume that we are always expressing “the union’s position speaking” even when we make clear we are speaking only for ourselves.)

Therefore, if you’d like to engage me as part of any conversation these pieces might engender, please bring the comments back here to Alas.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments  

Cartoon: N-World Alternatives For White Pundits

If you enjoy these cartoons, please support them on Patreon! Even a dollar pledge means a lot to me.

This cartoon is lampooning two things I’ve seen right-wingers do: First, claim that it’s racist that Black people but not white people can “get away” with saying the N-word. And second, look for (or invent) alternative racial slurs that they can say while remaining respectable.

Artwise, this cartoon is definitely on the “do minimal penciling, try to keep the drawings loose and lively” end of my scale. (As opposed to a cartoon like “Helping Ordinary Americans,” where almost every line, except for some of the shading, was penciled out before I did the final black linework.)

I honestly like the loose approach better, when it works well – I can’t think of a single cartoonist whose work gives me more joy to look at than Bill Watterson’s (Calvin and Hobbes), who is the king of brilliant loose lines. I’m no Bill Watterson, obviously, but that’s the ideal. But doing a loose approach feels, to me, like working without a net. If I do careful, detailed renderings, I’m less likely to be surprised, either in a good or a bad way. (And some cartoons I just think need to be more detailed, of course.)

More about the art that probably no one but me cares about: I like the look of having no word balloons in political cartoons. (Maybe it’s because I grew up on Doonesbury.) But I also like full backgrounds, and the Doonesbury approach of just having the backgrounds cut off and turn to white always strikes me as a bit clutzy looking. So here I tried having a full background, but doing it in light enough colors so the text could go directly on top of it and still be legible. What do you think? If you hate this look, let me know and I’ll be less likely to do it again. :-)

Transcript of Cartoon

Panel 1
This panel shows a balding man with a bow tie, THE PUNDIT, sitting in a wealthy-looking study, with a large curtained window, a little table with a tablecloth and a lamp, and a large framed portrait visible behind him. He is sitting in a plain office chair, at a tiny work desk, with his laptop open on the desk.
PUNDIT: If I want to be a respectable pundit, I’m not allowed to use the “N-word.”

Panel 2
The Pundit angrily kicks his little desk over.
PUNDIT: Blacks use the N-word all the time! Whatta double-standard! They’re the real racists!

Panel 3
The Pundit puts the desk back where it was.
PUNDIT: I need words that will let me stay respectable, but readers will know what I really mean.

Panel 4
The Pundit sits, chin in his hands, thinking aloud.
PUNDIT: Let me see… There’s where they live. “Urban,” “ghetto,” “inner city,” “hood.”

Panel 5
The Pundit closes his eyes, one forefinger on his temple, concentrating.
PUNDIT: “Race baiter.” “Race pimp.” “Race hustler.”

Panel 6
The Pundit’s eyes open; he’s smiling, warming to the subject.
PUNDIT: (Hey, there are a bunch of these!) “Race huckster.” “Race charlatan.” “Race monger.”

Panel 7
The Pundit, with a huge grin, has stood up from his chair and is pumping a fist high in the air. By the end of this panel he is yelling.
PUNDIT: “Criminal class!” “Welfare queens!” “Sketchy!” “Shady!” “THUG!”

Panel 8
The Pundit, looking very satisfied, speaks directly to the reader.
PUNDIT: What a list! This’ll be a huge blow against the racist double-standards that oppress white pundits!

Panel 9 (last panel)
The Pundit puts his left hand over his heart and looks reverent, a tear falling from one eye.
PUNDIT: When my grandchildren ask me what I did to fight racism, I will tell them of this day.

Kicker Panel (A tiny additional panel at the bottom of the strip)
The pundit is speaking to a Black child, who is bewildered by this.
PUNDIT: You’re welcome!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 9 Comments  

Fifty Pages of SuperButch!

Hey, a new SuperButch page!

If we include the 16-page “First Glance” short, this is the fiftieth page of SuperButch that Becky and I have created. Which I’m pretty proud of!

I’m sorry I’ve been bad at putting each page up on “Alas.” To tell you the truth, I’ve never been certain if posting the pages here fits with what “Alas” readers want to see. But if people want to see that here, let me know.

In the meanwhile, you can read all the pages at the SuperButch website. And if you’d like to support SuperButch, Becky now has a Patreon. Even a pledge of a dollar means a lot to us.

Posted in SuperButch | Leave a comment  

No, Colleges Aren’t Banning The Vagina Monologues

The popular vblogger Laci Green, in her most recent video, said:

Colleges are banning hugely impactful feminist works like The Vagina Monologues because it implies that some women have vaginas.

This is a common claim – but as far as I can make out, it’s false. Some student groups have chosen not to perform TVM – but choosing not to perform a play isn’t remotely the same as “banning” a play.

To support this claim, Laci displayed the headline to this National Review article, about a student-run group at American University deciding not to perform The Vagina Monologues this year. Instead, they performed a new play, “Breaking Ground Monologues,” which was written by students.

Nothing in the article suggests that the college (as opposed to the student group) was the decision-maker, or supports the claim that American University has “banned” performing The Vagina Monologues.

On Twitter, Liana K pointed to this Inside Higher Ed article to support Laci Green’s claim that colleges have been banning The Vagina Monologues. But the article is about a student group at Mount Holyoke choosing to perform something else this year. How is that an example of a college “banning” The Vagina Monologues?

In fact, the same year that one Mount Holyoke student group decided not to do TVM, a different Mount Holyoke student group decided to do a performance of TVM – and the college released a statement officially approving of both productions.

It may be that somewhere in the country, some college has banned The Vagina Monologues from being performed, but I can’t find evidence of it. And both Laci Green’s and Liana K’s references show how primed people are to interpret virtually anything that happens on campus as censorship. Laci’s implication that “colleges,” plural, are “banning” feminist works like The Vagina Monologues in order to be inclusive of trans students seems entirely false.

Three further notes:

1) Mandolin just pointed out this Julia Serano essay on The Vagina Monologues to me. “It is true that some trans people do not like The Vagina Monologues, or consider it to be trans-exclusive. However, many trans people do appreciate the play, and some of us have performed in it.”

2) This is becoming a pattern of Laci Green distorting the truth in ways that support popular anti-trans narratives. See also here and here.

3) This is also part of a pattern of anti-SJWs interpreting freely made choices as censorship. Student groups being free to choose which plays to perform is an exercise of free speech, not an affront to it.

Posted in Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc., Transsexual and Transgender related issues | 5 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Lost Tricycle Edition

  1. McConnell Calls for Repeal of Obamacare After Republican Defections – The Atlantic
    “Repeal and Replace” has failed; McConnell and Trump are now both advocating for “Repeal Now, Replace Later.”
  2. Related: Repealing Obamacare without replacing it would be a disaster – The Washington Post
    Alternate link.
  3. Détour — A film by Michel Gondry – YouTube
    This ten-minute film, about a tricycle trying to find its way back to its owner, is pretty awesome. And it was shot on an IPhone. (Gondry is probably most famous in the US for co-writing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”)
  4. What you should know about that really nasty anti-trans bill in Congress.
    I don’t think this bill could get through the Senate – it can’t be passed through reconciliation, as Charles pointed out to me, so it would need Democratic support to pass.
  5. A basic income really could end poverty forever – Vox
    Note the word left out of the headline – “universal.” Good article, though.
  6. Spectacular Online Responses to 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker | The Mary Sue
    About time! But good for them. Now let’s see a non-white Doctor next.
  7. What’s the point of an anti-immigrant left? – Vox
  8. The gap between black and white infant mortality is creeping up again, leaving researchers puzzled
  9. California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth – Vox
    “The maternal mortality rate in the state is a third of the American average. Here’s why.” Good long-form article. The US’s high maternal mortality rates could be reversed nationwide; if it doesn’t happen, the reason will be political, not medical. As Grace says, “The US doesn’t value women, as demonstrated by our maternal mortality rates.” (Thanks for the link, Grace!)
  10. Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria” | Gender Analysis
  11. Easter Islanders Didn’t Cause Ecological Disaster on Their Island, New Research Finds | Archaeology, Paleoanthropology |
  12. Black Girls Are Viewed as Less Innocent and More Adultlike Than White Girls: Study
    Thanks, Grace!
  13. Origami Squid and Octopus Sculptures That Pop Up When Dropped and an Origami Wolf That Pulls Its Mask Off
  14. Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world | World news | The Guardian
  15. Transgender People and “Biological Sex” Myths – Julia Serano – Medium
  16. The law expects civilians to remain calm even when police don’t | Charlotte Observer
    Police are provided with de-escalation training, but some civilian need to de-escalate cops to survive.
  17. How bosses are (literally) like dictators – Vox
  18. Pocahontas Was a Mistake, and Here’s Why! – YouTube
    This half-hour video essay, looking at how Disney’s approach changed between “Pocahontas” and “Moana,” is really excellent.
  19. Medicaid Worsens Your Health? That’s a Classic Misinterpretation of Research – The New York Times
  20. Medicaid is good for children and makes them better adults | The Incidental Economist
    Because Medicaid was originally implemented years apart in different states, there are interesting comparisons that can be made across states. (Hat-tip to Grace.)
  21. The Selfie Monkey Goes to the Ninth Circuit – Motherboard
    PETA, acting (they say) on behalf of the monkey, is suing the human photographer.
  22. Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice | Autostraddle
  23. St. Louis minimum wage will drop from $10 to $7.70 | Local News |
  24. And on the other side of the spectrum: Seattle City Council Passes High-Earner Income Tax – Slog – The Stranger
    Might not be legal, though – it’s going to take a lawsuit to find out.
  25. 4chan trolls want to ‘quell’ anti-Trump dissent by shutting down DIY venues and art spaces – The Verge
  26. What European Political Philosophy Has to Say Today (with tweets) · kpanyc · StorifyLengthy Twitter storm by a NYU history professor, arguing that it’s impossible to understand today’s politics (or the 20th century, really) without looking at the role of nationalism, and also that the Republican party cannot be said to be “conservative.”
  27. Japanese-American in Boston: Kimono Wednesdays protest postmortem.
    This very long (3 parts!) 2015 post, by a Japanese-American blogger who followed the Kimono protests closely and is very critical of the protestors, is well-written and had information I hadn’t read before.
  28. Steve Trevor, Joss Whedon, and the men getting in the way of Wonder Woman · For Our Consideration · The A.V. Club
  29. The most alarming Trump administration attack on voting rights might come from the Department of Justice, not from Kobach’s commission. | HuffPost
  30. And a longer-form article going deeper into the voter purge issue: These Three Lawyers Are Quietly Purging Voter Rolls Across the Country – Mother Jones
  31. Medicaid Beneficiaries Are Happy With Care : Shots – Health News : NPR
  32. Why does Trump’s voting commission want data it shouldn’t have? | TheHill
  33. One Person, One Vote: Estimating the Prevalence of Double Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections
    “We find their proposed purging strategy would eliminate about 200 registrations used to cast legitimate votes for every one registration used to cast a double vote.”
  34. Trump’s Trolls Are Waging War on America’s Civil Servants | Foreign Policy
  35. The World Doesn’t Mooch Off U.S. Health-Care Research – Bloomberg
  36. Unions’ Effect on Productivity –
    Storing this here in part because it’s relevant to an upcoming political cartoon.
  37. A Good Cartoon — mlk and civil rights protests in cartoons: then, as now
  38. Yasmine Weiss’s Strange, Intimate Portraits | Hi-Fructose Magazine
Posted in Link farms | 36 Comments  

Cartoon: The Only Way Democrats Can Win

If you enjoy these cartoons, please help me make more at Patreon. Even a $1 pledge makes a difference for me.

I think this comic pretty much explains itself. :-)

I’m happy with the art, especially with the two female figures. I drew someone in high heels! That may not seem like a big deal to you, but you don’t know how deeply and truly I suck at drawing high heels. They’re a very complex shape!

I also had a lot of fun drawing the middle lady’s tattoo sleeve, although looking at it now I’m not sure I should have made it the same hot pink as her hair. Ah well.

Thanks so much for those of you supporting my Patreon! I’m so lucky to be able to make my cartoons about whatever I want, and still get paid. It’s amazing living in a time of social media and crowdfunding.

I have two nieces living with me, who are now 11 and 13. When I was their age there was no internet; we thought having two phone lines the house was pretty cool and high-tech. The world has changed so incomprehensibly fast. What will it be like when they’re my age? Hope I’ll still be around to find out.


The cartoon has one panel, which shows three people having a heated discussion. The three people are an older Black woman, a young white woman with tattoos and pink hair, and a middle-aged Latino man wearing suspenders and a collared shirt.

OLDER WOMAN (smiling, holding up a forefinger as she explains): There’s only ONE strategy which will let Democrats win elections, and by an AMAZING coincidence, it requires us to foll all my policy preferences.
TATTOOED WOMAN (angry, holding up a hand in a “stop!” gesture): Don’t be RIDICULOUS! The one true strategy is following MY policy preferences!
SUSPENDERS MAN (angry, with his arms outspread): You FOOLS! Everyone knows that MY policy preferences are the only way we can win!

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Elections and politics | 13 Comments  

What I’m Reading – Male Lust: Pleasure, Power, and Transformation

This book, Male Lust: Pleasure, Power, and Transformation, has been on my shelf since the early 2000s. Back then, it was at the top of my to-read list, but circumstances intervened and so I am only picking it up now. I’ve read the introduction and I think it’s really interesting to juxtapose the two passages below. In the text, the first one actually comes after the second one. I have put them in this order because I think it creates an interesting tension between them.


Because a privileged man’s life is “unremarkable,” he is less likely to know how his social position affects his life. A “white” man knows he is “white,” but he is likely to have little idea how this identity shapes his social world, much less his sexuality. He’s rarely forced to stop and think about it. Any interpersonal or emotional difficulties he might have are thus made to appear as individual worries. This illusion of a fully autonomous self lets privileged men act with less concern about the social impact of their actions—they are more “free” than others. Yet, this freedom makes them less able to identify the links between their concerns and the larger social environment. Because of this hyperindividuality, itself socially constructed, privileged men are vulnerable to intense feelings of self-blame and isolation when something goes wrong. It makes them less able to understand how their lives relate to the lives of those around them, and less able to respond to the social forces that daily shape their lives. (xix)


Think of a judicial system that not only favors heterosexuality but reserves its favor for specific types of heterosexuality: not S/M—that could cost you your kids; not polyfidelity—that could cost you your kids too; not for pay—that could cost you your kids and put you in jail. Think of the African-American, Latino, and Chinese men who have been lynched for the mere suspicion of looking at a white woman. Whatever biological ground our bodies provide, “male lust” is clearly a highly regulated—and therefore social—affair, shaped through a deployed and nearly ubiquitous series of sticks and carrots. Removing these pressures, or adopting a different set, would radically change the way we think about the social/biological categories “male” and “sexuality.”

Posted in Gender and the Body, Sex | 25 Comments  

Cartoon: How is THAT Racist?


If you enjoy my cartoons, please support them on Patreon! Even a pledge of $1 means a bunch to me.

Transcript of Cartoon

Panel 1 is a title panel, with nothing but lettering.
LETTERING: White People Ask… How is THAT Racist?

Panel 2
A young white woman with red hair and a roundish face looks bewildered as she speaks.
WOMAN: I’m suing because Black students got into a college that rejected me, and I’m blaming affirmative action instead of my mediocre grades. How is THAT racist?

Panel 3
An older white woman, with curly white hair and glasses and a floral print dress, speaks cheerfully.
WOMAN: I would NEVER use the “n-word.” I call Black people “thugs” instead. How is THAT racist?

Panel 4
A middle-aged white man with glasses and a collared short-sleeved shirt raises his arms as he speaks, looking bewildered.
MAN: A law preventing TENS OF THOUSANDS of Blacks and Latinos from voting is a price worth paying if it stops just ONE illegal vote! How is THAT racist?

Panel 5
A large, mostly-bald white man grins, wearing a sports team t-shirt with a grotesque caricature of a grinning Indian, and the team name, “Indians.” He has a tattoo of the same design on one forearm.
MAN: I love wearing my team’s merch! How is THAT racist?

Panel 6
A concerned, meek-looking white woman, with a nice haircut and hoop earrings, speaks to the viewer.
WOMAN: I just think that hordes of illegal aliens coming from Mexico are ruining America. How is THAT racist?

Panel 7
A brown hand (the only non-white person in this strip) holds a smartphone. On the smartphone, an angry-looking white man in a suit is speaking to the camera; the image is labeled “Angry Channel.”
MAN: All I’m saying is that black people have genetically lower IQs, so we should expect them to earn less and be criminals. How is THAT racist?

Panel 8
A young white woman with bright pink hair, a plaid dress, and tattoos covering one arm speaks intensely to the viewer.
WOMAN: How can they say “Black lives matter”? Don’t they know that EVERYTHING has to include WHITE people? How is THAT racist?

Panel 9 (final panel)
A white person wearing a full Klu Klux Klan outfit, including the hood, is holding his hands up and shrugging.
KKK MEMBER: White people must prepare for the coming race war or the lower races will WIN! How is THAT racist?

Posted in antiracism, Cartooning & comics, Race, racism and related issues | 7 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm: Primitive and Unscientific Edition


  1. Trumpcare will probably kill thousands. That’s neither uncivil nor alarmist to say.
  2. Better Suggestions for Democrats who want to Win Elections | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
    And see also Noah’s followup post, Love the One You’re With.
  3. AP Analysis: Gerrymandering gave Republicans advantage in House, state elections
  4. Democrats are still obsessed with Jill Stein. They should start obsessing over nonvoters instead.
  5. KING: 2 Supreme Court rulings must change to end police brutality – NY Daily News
    “As long Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor stand as law, police brutality will be protected. That’s the bottom line.”
  6. Prosecutors are the ones most able to hold cops accountable.
    Which makes it a shame that they have so little motivation to ever hold cops accountable.
  7. A liberal think tank just released its own proposal to fix Obamacare – Vox
  8. Jean “Moebius” Giraud on drawing from the work of other artists, from life, and from photos… – Ragged Claws Network
    Brief, but he makes really good points.
  9. Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened
    It was a Satanic Panic case. So painful to read about.
  10. Bridging the Inferential Distance on Desexualization | Thing of Things
    Sexual attraction and oppression.
  11. After the president’s tweet, I must withdraw my support for everything but his agenda – The Washington Post
  12. Professor fired after defending blacks-only event to Fox News. – The Washington Post
  13. The Texas Supreme Court just gave a big, fat middle finger to same-sex couples
  14. Web host agrees to pay $1m after it’s hit by Linux-targeting ransomware | Ars Technica
  15. Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”
  16. Here are all the ways Jeff Sessions is wrong about drug sentencing – The Washington Post
    And here’s an alternative link.
  17. California Single-Payer Organizers Are Deceiving Their Supporters. It’s Time to Stop.
    According to this article, the CA legislature literally cannot enact single payer, because of the stupid ways the CA tax laws are set up. It would require a ballot measure.
  18. Watch this person makes a pancake that looks like a human skull – YouTube
  19. You Say You Want a Single-Payer System: The Canada Health Act
    A brief nutshelling of the principles behind the Canadian health care system.
  20. Julia Serano, Transfeminist Thinker, Talks Trans-Misogyny – The New York Times
  21. Debunking “Trans Women Are Not Women” Arguments – Julia Serano – Medium
  22. Fareed Zakaria Says Blaming Immigrants Is the one Thing Right Wing Populists Share – The Atlantic
  23. Data on Campus Censorship Cases | Thing of Things
    “I’d strongly advise against drawing any conclusion from it firmer than ‘censorship of both liberals and conservatives occurs on college campuses, and conservatives probably face more.'”
  24. (13) Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire (Historically Accurate Almanac) COMPLETE – YouTube
    A fan video to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” with historic footage provided for each of Joel’s over 100 references. Weirdly fascinating.
  25. BREAKING: Tom Price promises to provide healthcare to millions of undocumented immigrants!* |
    A Trump official is counting undocumented aliens as Americans who Obamacare failed to cover. I agree, I’d love to see them covered.
  26. Anita Sarkeesian’s astounding ‘garbage human’ moment – Polygon
  27. Muralist Odeith Crafts Engrossing Illusions | Hi-Fructose Magazine
    That’s one of his works at the top of this post.
  28. A top scientist was asked to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff. | Grist
  29. Survey: Just 5 percent of economists believe Trump’s big tax promise – The Washington Post
    That promise – that tax cuts pay for themselves – is not a Trumpism, but something accepted as true (at least in public) by virtually all high Republican officials.
  30. Health Care Premiums Have Gone Down Under Obamacare – Mother Jones
  31. The Supreme Court’s double standard for qualified immunity cases – The Washington Post
    Interesting look at a debate between Supreme Court justices.
  32. Chris Pratt Doesn’t Think Regular Americans Are Represented | The Mary Sue
    To be fair, Pratt later took his comment back.
  33. No-Platforming Only Helps The Person Being No-Platformed Spread Their Message – The Unit of Caring
    Worth reading, and I partly endorse this. But the evidence she’s talking about seems to be about violent no-platforming, not no-platforming in general.
  34. The Democratic Party: Labor’s Frenemy – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  35. Jeff Sessions and the Odds of Imprisoning Innocents – The Atlantic
    Reforming criminal forensics is essential to reducing the number of false convictions. But Sessions wants to stop reforms.
  36. Fun with the nasal cycle
    Why we have two nostrils.
  37. Supreme Court unanimously overturns North Carolina’s ban on social-media use by sex offenders – The Washington Post
    And I unanimously agree.
  38. Are Democrats Ready to Push Medicare for All? – Rewire
  39. “Medicaid-for-all” vs. “Medicare-for-all”. – HealthCommentary
    This author argues that Medicare for all is better.
  40. Medicare-for-All vs. Single Payer: The Impact of Labels | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
  41. Veiled Lives? Muslim women, headscarves, and manufacturing Islam – Girl w/ Pen


Posted in Link farms | 66 Comments