16 will get you 3

In my comics feed for today, May 16th, three excellent strips: a Zits on learning how to use a computer (and coping with explanations for how to use it from the deeply tech-embedded, like the 17-year-old Jeremy Duncan in this strip); a Rhymes With Orange with a truly bizarre way for spelling your name when ordering drinks at the neighborhood cafe; and a Bizarro with a high-groan pun.

The Zits. This one leapt out at me because I’ve just recently recovered from a very specific apraxia, the inability to create postings on this blog (accompanied by a specific nominal aphasia, the inability to retrieve any of the vocabulary for performing this task). I was able to surmount this suite of cognitive deficits through the coaching of helpers who were willing to to work with me by understanding that I was in fact utterly ignorant of all of this and would have to be introduced to it in bits and pieces, patiently, from the ground up.

This is immensely hard for people to do. Jeremy in the cartoon is simply unable to help his father learn about something that Jeremy believes any child would know:


From Wikipedia (which of course presumes considerable background knowledge):

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as “natural” or “organic” results) rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate ftom different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer-programmed algorithms that dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. SEO is performed because a website will receive more visitors from a search engine when websites rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP). These visitors can then potentially be converted into customers.

SEO is designed to get your stuff in front of people’s eyes first. (Of course, there’s a lot here behind your stuffpeople’s eyes, in front of, and get.)

The Rhymes. At the Ancient Semitic Cafe (in Egypt, Phoenicia, Palestine, or Arabia), ordering a hot drink. The server asks for your name, so they can write it down and then call it out when your drink is ready. (I know, nothing like this happened in ancient Semitic lands. The situation is entirely one of the modern world, but realized in a fictive setting, with aspects of the second world corresponding to aspects of the real-world model —  the cartoon shows some situation from everyday life (which you have to know about) juxtaposed with, or translated into, another more remarkable world (which you also need to know details of). I frequently post on cartoons that exploit such a world-to-world translation.)


What’s at the crux of the cartoon is the set of practices surrounding asking someone’s name (for whatever purpose), getting a reply, and recording the answer (so that the name can be retrieved later). Note that the characters are presumed to be literate, which is generally true in our modern world but was not generally the case in the ancient Semitic lands, though the societies in question did have writing systems, with symbols (each representing a word, syllable, or phoneme) derived at some time-depth from hieroglyphs, stylized pictures of objects.

For many purposes, it suffices to say your name, in which case you depend on your interlocutor’s recognizing the name and knowing how to spell it

Responses to a request for your name might be given more helpfully in an extended form that supplies the correct spelling. So, not just Arnold, but: Arnold, A, R, N, O, L, D. Or, if you’re in a hurry, just the spelling: A, R, N, O, L, D.

The characters in the Rhymes scenario jump right to the last of these options, which is fine, except that they don’t pronounce the symbols of their Semitic writing system; instead, absurdly, they describe the hieroglyphs those symbols are descended from. Now I remind you that the letters of the alphabet we use in spelling English are also descended from Phoenician symbols, which have an even more distant hieroglyphic origin. So it’s as if I gave my name at the local Coupa Cafe by saying: picture of an ox-head, next to a human head, a snake, a human eye, an ox-goad or cattle-prod, and a fish (or perhaps a door).


The Bizarro. A truly monstrous pun on Darth Vader, with Vader > Waders:

(#3) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

On the one hand, we have Darth Vader from Star Wars; if you don’t know about Darth Vader, this cartoon is dead to you.  On the other hand, we have waders, as from NOAD:

noun wader: … 2 (waders) high waterproof boots, or a waterproof garment for the legs and body, used especially by anglers when fishing.

— as modeled by Darth in #3 above. Oh, massive groan.

Wayno’s title for the cartoon — “The Retirement Years” — takes things in a different direction, suggesting that when Darth Vader retires from his career as super-villain, he’ll take up the hobby of fly-fishing and outfit himself in waders for that purpose.


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