Archive for August 1st, 2014

Calvin and Bob

I came up with the idea for a comic strip about the adventures of Jean Calvin and his reptilian companion, Bob, in the afterworld, a bleak and lifeless place where they only occasionally encounter other wandering souls. Once I got the characters down the dialogue began to write itself. Here is one early attempt:

bob i1

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The Leaning Mosque of Mosul

I don’t know if you saw this remarkable story the other day, but it is one of the only hopeful things I have seen in the recent barrage of depressing news:

Residents of Mosul have watched helplessly as extremists ruling the northern Iraqi city blew up some of their most beloved landmarks and shrines to impose a stark vision of Islam. Next up for destruction, they feared: the Crooked Minaret, a more than 840-year-old tower that leans like Italy’s Tower of Pisa.

But over the weekend, residents pushed back. When fighters from the Islamic State group loaded with heavy explosives converged on the site, Mosulis living nearby rushed to the courtyard below the minaret, sat on the ground and linked arms to form a human chain to protect it, two residents who witnessed the event said on Monday.

They told the fighters, if you blow up the minaret, you’ll have to kill us too, the witnesses said.

The militants backed down and left, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the militants.

Read more here:


This struck me as very curious. The militants of ISIS, which has rather stupidly declared a worldwide caliphate, have shown little humanity in their quest to impose a totalitarian religious state. Only a day before this incident they murdered over 100 prisoners of war, a heinous crime by any civilized standard.
Yet they backed down from nonviolent protesters.
Apparently it is one thing to murder those who were not so long ago fighting you, and quite another to kill those determined to resist with nonviolence.
Of course there is never any guarantee of this sort of success, and it is likely that the militants left for tactical reasons rather than tenderness of conscience.
But is this not a hopeful story?

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