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I have a collection of comics that I visit regularly and once in a while I like to share them here. For instance, here’s one about Jesus and Mo celebrating International Women’s day in their singular fashion. One source for comics is the Seattle Star, which runs a collection of them every Sunday. That’s where I learned about Ampersand, written by Barry Deutsch, and where I encountered today’s gem.

This comic is about how bigots try to disguise their bigotry by dressing it up as “debate.” This allows them to say all the hateful things they need to say while feeling as if they’re simply involved in an exchange of intellectual ideas. It reminds me a bit of the “debate” that someone who insulted and demeaned atheists wanted to have with me when I pointed out their bigotry. Later they objected to the use of the word “nonsense” to describe creationist thought, then directed me to an anti-evolution manual that was full of much worse. You can check out that “debate” here.

Barry Deutsch kindly makes a transcript of his cartoons. Here’s the one for the first panel of the cartoon in question today:

This cartoon has four panels, each of which takes place in a different setting, and with a different set of characters.


A man wearing a polo shirt and jeans follows a woman down the street. The woman is wearing a hoodie and is walking a small dog. The man is talking cheerfully, doing the “explaining with my hands” palms up gesture; the woman is looking back at him out of the corner of her eye and has raised her voice testily.

POLO SHIRT: So you see, when you “transgenders” insist you’re women, that’s you forcing society to along with your delusions. Let’s discuss this.


DOG (in thought balloon): Jerk!

Here’s a little more information about Barry Deutsch:

My name is Barry Deutsch, and I write and draw Ampersand, a political comic with a generally progressive sensibility. A new Ampersand comic appears in every issue of Dollars and Sense Magazine.

I’ve attended Oberlin College in Ohio in the late 1980s, the School of Visual Arts in New York City in the 1990s (where I was lucky enough to take classes from comics legend Will Eisner), and I finally graduated from Portland State University several years ago. While I was at PSU, my political cartoons won the Charles M. Schulz Award.

Aside from my political cartooning, my current comics project is my comic book Hereville, a fantasy adventure comic about an 11-year-old Jewish girl. You can also read some of my older comics here. And like everyone else in the world (alas), I have a blog.

I currently live in Portland, Oregon, in a bright blue house with bubble-gum-pink trim.

I strongly advise going to the Ampersand website to see the rest of this cartoon.

“Vierge Marie”by leo.jeje is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How appropriate that right after Laird’s post, On Spiritual Matters, I should come across this Scientific American article discussing belief and disbelief. The author explains how he was initially indoctrinated to believe in a particular theology, found it wanting, explored other avenues and eventually concluded that, rather than finding something he could believe in, he should accept that disbelief is just as valid. Interestingly, at least for me, he included science in the avenues he explored in his search for the answers to his existential questions.

So where does this leave me, in terms of my search for answers? I’ve given up hope that science can give us a single, objectively true solution to the mind-body problem, one true for everyone. Disbelief, I’ve decided, is the only rational stance to take toward alleged solutions, whether religious or scientific.

He understands how this can be unsettling for some people.

Those who yearn for certainty about who we really are might find disbelief unsatisfying, even frightening. You have no ground on which to stand, no assurance that God or science will take care of us, that everything is going to be okay.

But it’s right for him and he thinks it could be right for others as well. It’s a good article. I recommend reading it if these questions have ever occurred to you.

via In Defense of Disbelief: An Anti-Creed – Scientific American Blog Network


© Tsz Cheung Lee – Tap for larger

Cloud of the Day – Cavum

Cavum is one of the new clouds that show up in the latest edition of the World Meteorological Organization’s International Cloud Atlas. I reported on the release of the new edition in this post. Cavum is really just a new name for a cloud type previously known as a fall streak hole, which I reported on here. There are more great pictures in that post. The full name for the example shown in this post is altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus translucidus cavum. That is, the middle etage cloud altocumulus (my previous post on altocumulus) which is in a layer thin enough to allow light through, and which has gaps between its elements and a great big hole with virga in it. Here’s how cavum is described in the International Cloud Atlas.

A well-defined generally circular (sometimes linear) hole in a thin layer of supercooled water droplet cloud. Virga or wisps of Cirrus typically fall from the central part of the hole, which generally grows larger with time. Cavum is typically a circular feature when viewed from directly beneath, but may appear oval shaped when viewed from a distance.

When resulting directly from the interaction of an aircraft with the cloud, it is generally linear (in the form of a dissipation trail). Virga typically falls from the progressively widening dissipation trail.

Occurs in Altocumulus and Cirrocumulus and rarely Stratocumulus.

And here’s the description of the image from the International Cloud Atlas.

This thin, translucent and extensive layer of cloud is Altocumulus stratiformis translucidus. In the top part of the picture it also displays the variety perlucidus, as there are the gaps between the cloud elements. However, the most striking feature is the large, roughly circular hole beneath which there is virga. The large hole is the supplementary feature cavum, popularly known as a “fallstreak hole” or “hole-punch cloud”. The full classification for the cloud is therefore Altocumulus stratiformis perlucidus translucidus cavum.

Also of note is a linear gap in the cloud between the fallstreak hole and the horizon. This is an aircraft dissipation trail, or distrail, formed as a result of an aircraft flying through the cloud layer. Informally this is sometimes known as a “canal cloud”. It later transformed into a circular-type hole.

The supplementary feature cavum is formed when glaciation occurs in a thin cloud layer consisting of supercooled water droplets that are in a liquid state and at a temperature below 0 °C. As the supercooled water drops glaciate, the resulting ice crystals fall from the cloud layer to a lower level as virga, or fallstreaks. The resulting cloud hole typically grows larger with time while the glaciation process continues.

There’s not much I can add to that, except to invite you to visit the International Cloud Atlas website.

rjb has been keeping tabs on prevaricators for 15 years. Concentrating on the United States, is a party-agnostic watchdog on the words of those who would put themselves out ahead of the rest of us. It should be safe to assume that they should be at least as accountable as the rest of us, so holds them up for our scrutiny. This year it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. exposes the false statements of liberals and conservatives alike. If these falsehoods are taken by the media and turned into fake news, that is exposed on the Factcheck site, regardless of the politics of the perpetrator. Whether the source is credulous and naively repeating something they heard, or cynically propagating lies, or simply unable to stop themselves from saying that which they would like to be true, their words are held up to the actinic light of day. has been keeping track of this deluge of deception for fifteen years now, and they have compiled a collection of the most egregious. They’ve published a convenient list of whoppers for 2018. Not surprisingly, a certain politician once again tops the list.

I’ll just let you check out the whoppers for yourself.