I LOVE this web comic! 👨🏾‍🦲

Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore

This is a situation where I want to grab frame or two to put here, to entice you to click through and read the whole thing. But at the same time, I don’t wanna grab a full frame, b/c every frame of it—and the way the entire thing locks together—is So. Damn. Perfect, and such a perfect presentation of the thing it’s trying to talk about.

I love it. There’s nothing left to say. It’s 100% perfect for me. It is MAUS for this moment.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s claim that “the leading cause of death among children is a firearm” is actually MUCH MORE upsetting than you think

Yes, “the leading cause of death among children is a firearm” is an extremely upsetting sentence—and also, a sadly accurate one (given that you define children as “humans between the ages of 1 and 19”; infants in their first year die from lots of stuff that doesn’t kill you after your first year; if you include them in this number, then it skews toward premature birth, birth defects, and SIDS).

But, the truly upsetting part is buried in this chart (shown below with a big dumb pink circle to emphasis the “Mechanisms” section), which was an addendum to the original source Schumer’s staff cited

Guns are the leading cause of death among children, and most of those deaths are murder.

Population wide, gun deaths are usually ~66% suicide and ~33% homicide. Among children, that’s now basically flipped.

In other words, in America today most gun deaths are suicide, and most adults will die of something else (probably disease). But for kids in America, the leading cause of death is guns, and most of those gun deaths are murders.

Stay classy, Ancient Rome!

Please note that the cock-lion’s “tail” is itself another phallus. *fingertip kiss* Magnifique!

Anyway, the next time you hear someone sounding off about how hopelessly depraved and perverted the present is, just remember this 2,000-year-old ding-a-ling and laugh in their prudish faces.

Bronze tintinabulum hung with small bells to function as a wind chime. It is decorated with a winged lion-phallus which was believed to provide magical protection against evil and to bring good luck to the household. Date 1st-Century
Bronze tintinabulum hung with small bells to function as a wind chime. It is decorated with a winged lion-phallus which was believed to provide magical protection against evil and to bring good luck to the household. (Date 1st-Century)source

“May the Fourth Be With You”—Ada Lovelace

I have only a vague recollection of making this—or why I did so. I presume I was tickled by the fact that several of the portraits of Ada Lovelace (English mathematician and writer, widely regarded as the first computer programmer and Mother of Modern Computing, may the Lord have Mercy on Her Soul)—including the one I started with for this image—depict her sporting a very Princess Leia ‘do.

Ada Lovelace, Jedi and Droid Programmer (by David Erik Nelson)

My funny, glamorous, gracious Aunt Lola was enslaved in Auschwitz at 16.

[Today is Yom Ha’Shoa. Yesterday I was at lunch and my Aunt Lola was brought to mind, so I thought I’d share this post from 2015: My funny, glamorous, gracious Aunt Lola died last night. She was enslaved in Auschwitz at 16. The full text I wrote then follows.]


I just learned that my Aunt Lola died last night–great aunt, technically, the wife of one of my father’s uncles. Although we’ve lived in the same town for twenty years, Lola and I, I had only seen her a small handful of times during those decades; there’s been bad blood in our family. Not with Lola and me, but elsewhere, and we wound up on different sides. That’s just how it goes.

I loved her very much when I was small. She was small–putting her at my level, as a tall dweeb in a clip-on tie and penny loafers–and glamorous and funny. She glowed. Her rich, thick Czech accent always reminded me of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, which is a not-super-insane association for a boy who watched a ton of TV in the ’80s. I remember one time, at a summer party at my Aunt Denise’s house, at the end of the party, she slipped off her shoes–fancy gold, sharp-toed, high heels. Her toes were twisted and calloused, almost as though her feet had been bound–which I guess they had, although by American women’s fashion, not some out-modded and backward cultural obsession with ideals of beauty (ha! Joke!)

I remember her gingerly stepping from foot to foot on the thick shag in her hose, “Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh!” as though it was hot as coals–and she wasn’t play acting; her feet were aching from the shoes and the standing and the heat of the day. She looked up to see me sitting on the sofa across from her, looking on in dismay.

“Oh David,” she smiled, “Sometimes you need to suffer to be beautiful.”

I didn’t know then that, at 16, she been shipped to Auschwitz like a crate of shoes–a slow three-day train ride, because of the congestion on the tracks created by shipping so many other folks to camps, like cattle or shoes or some other commodity. There she’d been disgorged onto a ramp, and at the bottom stood Dr. Mengele. He was making a selection. Some were sent right, other left. Her folks went one way, she the other. She became my aunt, they became ash. She was stripped and shaved and tattooed and beaten, and sent walking to her new life.

She ended up in the barracks closest to the crematory ovens, and so her job was to sort the belongings of the dead–the clothes, the luggage–searching for jewelry and food and blankets and meds and anything of use. To sort it, to box it up for storage, or to be redistributed to widows and orphans.

There’s more, there’s lots more–heck, there’s a second run-in with Dr. Mengele. You can read and listen to her testimony here.

But I didn’t know any of that when I was small–I mean, I knew all of that, because such stories were not rare where I grew up, nor such survivors. But I did not know her story until I was much older–older than she was when she was enslaved–and I’m still learning bits and pieces, because I never heard it from her.

Which I don’t take personally; there was never a good time to share it with me, and there was no bad blood between us. When I last saw her, even though the folks around her were shooting me and my sisters daggers–gosh, even though one of my cousins later sought me out to hassle me about that chance encounter–Aunt Lola was still as charming and gracious as ever.

And I still loved her very much. Let her name be a blessing.

Her name is Lola Taubman; she sorted the laundry in Hell for a time as a teen, and then lived 72 years more, largely here, largely in good health.