Every day is an endless train, but I ride it to the end of the line

Cluttered items from an empty mind:

Yesterday, I wrote that despite its creator’s increasingly unhinged social media and YouTube commentary, I hadn’t noticed any overt political content sneaking into the comic strip “Dilbert.”

Well, I generally was reading the comic strips only on Saturdays and Sundays. Apparently I’ve missed a lot. According to media critic David Bauder, writing for The Associated Press, “Dilbert” has been treading in tin-foil hat territory for a while:

In a Sept. 2 “Dilbert” strip, a boss said that traditional performance reviews would be replaced by a “wokeness” score. When an employee complained that could be subjective, the boss said, “That’ll cost you two points off your wokeness score, bigot.”

In an August strip, the boss said the company was getting into the “pandemic prevention market” and creating demand by unleashing a deadly virus.

A Black employee featured in an Oct. 20 strip noted that his boss ignored his actual accomplishments to recommend him for a job for which he was not qualified. The employee backed down when told it would be a big jump in pay.

Mike Peterson, who blogs about comic strips at an industry website, The Daily Cartoonist (and for whom I used to occasionally work), told Bauder that “Dilbert” seemed to have run out of jokes about office and Internet culture, adding, “The strip jumped the shark.”

Yipes. Sounds like it jumped the shark, flew over the dock and landed in the tiki bar.

Trivia Question: Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” wasn’t the first widely distributed cartoon character named “Dilbert.” A character named “Dilbert” was used by the U.S. Navy during World War II in safety cartoons aimed at novice pilots.

What was his aviation-related last name?

Answer at the end.

I checked on some recent “Dilbert” strips, and saw that Scott Adams has been making jokes about so-called “ESG” initiatives — that is, environmental, social and governance policies enacted by companies trying to be good corporate citizens.

I don’t think it’s out-of-bounds for a comic strip about corporate life to satirize ESG. Many companies enact policies designed to be LGBTQ-friendly or publicly promote diversity at the same time they’re dumping toxic waste in Black neighborhoods or donating money to politicians trying to roll back protections on gay marriage and transgender healthcare.

But on the other hand, attacking ESG investment is apparently a goal of the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, so it could be that Adams is just knee-jerk working it into “Dilbert” for political reasons.

And he’s also been doing jokes about people’s pronouns, and how wonderful Twitter is now that Elon Musk owns the service.

Yeah, I think he’s over the shark and somewhere in the parking lot.

In any event, it won’t make a difference what topics Adams is covering in “Dilbert” now. Apparently, the only place you’ll be able to see the comic strip is on his website, with a subscription.

Even the Pittsburgh Strike-Gazette has canceled it. I’m told they’ve replaced “Dilbert” with “Pooch Cafe,” which is leveling up, in my opinion, but I can’t verify that, because I’m not reading a scab paper.

No Post-Gazette here, please

One more shot at Scott Adams before I change the subject.

Ruben Bolling not only murdered “Dilbert,” he backed up the car and ran over the corpse several times. Yipes:

Speaking of companies that preach corporate responsibility at the same time they’re poisoning us (and donating to politicians who look the other way), Cory Doctorow wrote this week about the good people at Dow Chemical, who have been bragging about how they can recycle plastic sneakers into playground equipment.

Yeah. Many of the sneakers they collected? They dumped them into flea markets and landfills in Indonesia.

As Doctorow notes, almost no plastic is actually recycled, and the plastics industry likes it that way. In fact, he says, the industry has a goal of increasing the amount of single-use plastic bags by 300 percent.

Anyway, so much for Dow Chemical’s slogan, “Seek together.”

They should go back to their old slogan, “From the people who brought you Napalm and Agent Orange.

As any fule kno, the “K” in “Kmart” stood for “Kresge”

I saw this microscope on Saturday at an antiques store in Ambridge.

When I think “precision-made,” I think Kmart.

And finally: I did my monthly Sunday night oldies party at the Arsenal Lanes in Lawrenceville.

The next one is March 26, so queue up early, as the late Phil Musick used to say. Doors open at 9 p.m., it’s 21-and-up, and $9.95 for all-you-can-bowl. (Unfortunately, as one of my listeners found out, they want you to be bowling, not just hanging out. You can’t just take up a lane. If you don’t know how to bowl, bring some people who do, and you can hang out with them.)

For most of the evening, I try to play uptempo R&B and rock, including a lot of things people recognize, but as we get toward closing time, I bring out some dusty discs and ballads.

Here’s one that got a lot of airplay on Canadian radio, but stiffed in the United States, possibly because it was long (five minutes) and possibly because it was completely out of character for Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I first heard it about 30 years ago, when I was first getting into record collecting, and I’ve liked it ever since.

It’s BTO doing their best attempt to channel Steely Dan. I don’t necessarily endorse the message of the song, but it’s a real ear-worm:

Every night is a different game
We gotta work for our fortune and fame
Success is a ladder take a step at a time
And the people will remember your name

Yes, I found out all the tricks of the trade
And that there’s only one way
That you’re gonna get things done
I found out the only way to the top
Is looking out for number one
And that’s me, I’m looking out for number one

Bonus: Here’s Randy Bachman to teach you how to play it.

The earlier “Dilbert”

Trivia Answer: “Dilbert Groundloop” was an arrogant young Navy pilot who was shown making rookie safety mistakes. He was the Navy’s equivalent of the better-known “Private Snafu.” (A “ground loop” occurs when an airplane rolls sideways while attempting to land, usually as a result of a cross-wind, a landing gear failure or pilot error.)

Created by cartoonist Robert Osborn, a Naval reservist, the earlier Dilbert was all but forgotten until Scott Adams asked his then-co-workers at Pacific Bell to come up with a name for the goofy engineer character that he’d begun doodling.

But during World War II, “Dilbert” was famous among Navy pilots, some of whom awarded a “Dilbert Medal” to aviators who made boneheaded mistakes (and lived to tell about them). Osborn drew more than 2,000 cartoons illustrating pilot errors, many of which were turned into posters. Read more here.

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