1. I can relate to Harry Bliss’s comic. I think this is the third time in my life I’ve subscribed to The New Yorker. Each previous time I’ve ended up with stacks of issues that I was keeping around to read the long articles and fiction.

    This time, I got a digital-only subscription.

  2. I didn’t realize that it was a “Bliss” comic until I read zbicyclist’s comment; but that made it obvious why he went with the “New Yorker”. I doubt that Bliss has ever managed to get a cartoon published in “National Geographic”.
    P.S. I’ve never subscribed to either one, but whenever I visit my parents, I flip through the New Yorker to read the comics, and nothing but the comics. Years ago they used to have little filler items at the end of articles that were just as funny as the comics. I was very disappointed when they quit doing that.

  3. Kilobytes, sorry, Kilby, the New Yorker does still have a couple kinds of tiny inserts other than the cartoons. There are text items at the end of a piece, generally two or three lines of type, based on misprints or small town newspaper police reports and the like. There are also little graphic bits, all by one artist and all on one theme, inset within text columns.

    The accumulation of National Geographics was indeed the standard form of that joke. Switching to the New Yorker seems to me the exactly right update, and not just because it is Harry Bliss’s frequent outlet. I haven’t seen a print edition of NG in ages, but NYer definitely.
    I do recall, from the era when the joke was the NatGeo accumulations, the people behind the Ig Nobel Prizes had a periodical called something like the Journal of Irreproducible Results. (I sort of recall a name change following an ownership dispute?) They ran a joke article about the measured subsidence of the North American tectonic plate due to the NatGeos stacked up in suburban garages.

    Btw the online NYer has various reading interfaces, and one choice is indeed cartoons from the current issue.

    Over the last decade or more, there has been useful discussion and reform in how online publications , or especially paper publications with online editions or archives, ought to handle corrections.
    When I recently read online Emily Nussbaum’s review in the NYer of the current Watchmen TV series, there was a note at the end saying a previous version had given a mistaken spelling of character Angela Abar’s name. I knew what it must have been, as I also had been thinking of her name as Akbar or Aqbar. Later, when reading the paper edition, and unsure whether I had read this (because of consuming several podcasts, including Damon Lindelhof saying he still is pained by negative reviews), but then knew I had when I saw the name given as Akbar.

  4. @ Mitch4 – “New Yorker does still have a couple kinds of tiny inserts … text items at the end of a piece, generally two or three lines of type
    If that’s true, they must hide them extremely well, or perhaps they only appear in the digital version. Just recently I was back for a visit, and my dad must have had a half a dozen issues on his coffee table. I went through them all, and while I did notice the (new?) practice of a series of little hand-drawn emblems distributed through the longer articles, I didn’t see a single text anecdote at the end of any of the articles.

  5. P.S. If replacing carbon with nitrogen was not simply (self) censorship, then what is “FUNK” supposed to be? Merely a nonsensical (onomatopoetic?) sound of the explosion?
    P.P.S. It just happens that in German, “Funk(e)” means “spark” (and therefore by extension “radio” or “transmission”), but that doesn’t seem to be connected with this at all.

  6. I looked at the Eric Scott comic and thought, “Did Larsen restart?” Seriously, if that wasn’t a conscious decision to do a Far Side strip, I’d be astonished.

    The Journal of Irreproducible Results is now named Journal of Irreproducible Results.

  7. I had one year of subscribing to NYer . . . many of those issues are in a bookcase, to be read ‘someday’. I even moved them from one house to another . . . still awaiting ‘someday’.

    My/Our library received a complete (it seemed to me) collection of NatGeo, from the first issue. It was my job to inventory and record them all on the periodical cards, then shelve them all in order, of course. Why? Just because, ’cause NO ONE ever requested a back issue of NatGeo.

  8. Well, ‘funk’ is an English word from way back, in a couple senses (bad smell and depressed mood) , and then in the 20th century additionally the name of a musical style. That doesn’t quite explain what it’s doing in the comic. But it could be about the noxious vapors of the chemical reaction.

  9. Okay, I have just flipped thru two recent issues of NYer paper edition. I learned that the little decorative graphics are called “Spots”. But also I did not find any of those amusing addenda at the end of big pieces. What often shows up instead are promos for online-only features. Still, I do think it was not that long ago I have seen some of those “Constabulary notes from all over” and similarly old bits. “Clarification Department” anyone?

  10. Clearly the rating on the chemistry one didn’t allow for organic chemistry.

    Or: the certification process for “organic” is just too burdensome…

    (Though really I think this is one of those non-native speaker quirks, he probably thinks “funk” is a good and accepted substitution, whereas at least North American native speakers would go for “fudge” (British speakers would just go for “fuck”).)

  11. What I had in mind as alternative title for Journal of Irreproducible Results was Annals of Improbable Research. But I was mistaken about the ordering. I was sort of correct about there being an ownership and infringement dispute. And finally, I was wrong about the affiliation of the Ig Nobel Prizes — they came out of AIR not JIR.

    Here is Wikipedia excerpt:
    Medical researcher George H. Scherr was the publisher from 1964 to 1989, after which JIR was published by Blackwell Scientific Publications. Under Blackwell, James A. Krosschell was editor and publisher starting with volume 35, number 1, 1990, and remained publisher throughout the Blackwell ownership. Marc Abrahams was editor from 1991, to the next-to-last Blackwell issue in 1994, when he left to form the rival Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) and create the Ig Nobel Prize. The final Blackwell issue, volume 39, number 3, was edited by Leslie A. Gaffney.[3]

    In 1994, Blackwell returned JIR to George Scherr, who was publisher and editor until 2003, during which time he pursued a number of legal complaints against Abrahams and AIR, even as the journal’s publication became erratic.

  12. My aunt has the clichéd mountain of National Geographics in her attic. I think they can be weaponized a lot better than New Yorkers, because they’re smaller and denser: New Yorkers would flap open as they fell, while National Geographics would come down like a blunt object.

  13. I, for one, when teaching at a college having a cartload of old National Geographics, checked out every one of them and eagerly read them cover-to-cover.
    When a child, my parents stored all of theirs (1936 on) in the attic. I spent many happy hours perusing them. I also used them as a resource for various grade school assignments/reports, as also did my sister. Valuable….

  14. I have another take on attic full of magazines. My grandparents had a complete set of every nat geographic magazine since 1903 (which is odd as neither had been born then) and every New Yorker from 1931 and ever Life magazine from about the same time, all sorted by date. The historical enjoyment we grandkids got from them was incalculable.

  15. @Kilby, they still have them, but rarely. In the good old days they had several of these things, called newsbreaks, in every issue.
    As for the comic, back in the ’80s when I first subscribed, each issue was big and fat and full of ads and stories. Today’s New Yorker is skinny, I have a hard time believing anyone could get injured if the current ones fell.
    And I did have a large stack of them at one point, which I only caught up on when I canceled by subscription during the tenure of That Woman as editor.

  16. Around 1960 my family had moved, and a front bookcase got some weird items that may have been in storage. I read some of H G Wells’s An Outline of History. But most relevant to this discussion , a large collection of “Punch”! I had learned that it was supposed to be humour. But flipping thru for cartoons, I don’t think I found them funny beyond a rate of maybe 1 in 20.

    And this was my idea of why British humor was something we Americans weren’t supposed to get. Until much later when I hit Monty Python .

  17. I did assume FUNK OMg was “Wow, stink!”. Then it went on to blowing up in the fourth panel. Carbon doesn’t really make sense – F… OMg? I suppose, some people use that word for absolutely everything.

  18. “Carbon doesn’t really make sense – F… OMg? I suppose, some people use that word for absolutely everything.”

    Something is blowing up in your face and catastrophe is imminent. Are you really so polite that you think someone shouting “Oh, F—, Oh my god!” doesn’t make sense?

    Well, bless you. There aren’t enough people like you.

  19. woozy’s comments remind me that I recently heard a song by Malvina Reynolds. When she sings, she sounds like a little old lady. So I was startled when I heard the F word in her lyrics.

  20. >woozy’s comments remind me that I recently heard a song by Malvina Reynolds. When she sings, she sounds like a little old lady. So I was startled when I heard the F word in her lyrics.

    As teenagers my little sister and I went through a phase where we tried to influence our four year old sister into our liberal-radical values and we got her really interested in Malvina Reynolds. It was really cute watching the four-year old respond to the F word in that “Wow, Malvina Reynolds sure knows some bad language”.

    Hurray for the little mouse!

    (I don’t think there were any ill-effects on the four year-old. I’ll ask her in a few months during the lull between her seasonal depressions.)

  21. “(I don’t think there were any ill-effects on the four year-old. I’ll ask her in a few months during the lull between her seasonal depressions.)”

    The song should be, ‘It’s the most stressful time of the year’, even tho it is a syllable short. Wake me up on 26 December.

  22. “Hurray for the little mouse!”

    Yep, that was the one. I wish she had given more details about the follow-up story in the song. I’d like to look it up.

  23. Hmmm, I never did reference it. I always took it at face value. Sometime in the 70s a mouse got into the computer system for a banking institute in Buenos Aires and chewed through the wires. She found it a refreshing metaphor for rejection of cold hearted automation and she made it into a charming song of resistance.

    Actually the language *was* pretty much out of character but she never saw herself kiddy song writer. That album also includes “Mary Jane, are you pregnant again” a pro-abortion ballad.

    Of course her not seeing herself as a nice grandmotherly type doesn’t mean she wasn’t a nice grandmotherly type. The more cynical and harsh of her songs really don’t sit well. Sometimes you are nice even if you don’t want to be.

  24. woozy, I also accepted the story about the mouse. I was interested in details about the man vs. the bank which, as I said, was in the follow-up to the mouse story (though in the same song).

  25. @Woozy – huh. I have no problem with him yelling either one, but both together just sounds wrong. It would actually work better if there was a Oh at the beginning. F… all by itself sounds like an ending to me, not like the beginning of an exclamation – thus “some people use it for everything”.

    On the other hand, while I might say Oh my god! (or Ohmigod), I would not say O Em Gee, which I have heard some people use. Maybe that goes better with F…?

  26. Well, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone shout FUNK for any reason. It wouldn’t be the first thing I’d shout if I were just assaulted with a bad odor.

  27. We had stacked up stacks of a large assortment of magazines over the decades (no New Yorkers). A decade or so ago I started tearing out the articles I wanted to keep and getting rid of the magazines (especially if my magazines – would not touch his Playboys). The articles went into file folders in one or another of our file cabinets (even our electric train trains & such are stored in file cabinets). Then I thought of the computer scanner we had. Ah ha!!

    Old Smithsonian articles – scanned in. Muzzleloader – Robert went through and pulled the articles he wanted, I scanned in to computer – years of issue gone. I used to belong the American Sewing Association – scanned the articles from their publications I had – and out with the magazines. The National of my embroidery chapter puts out a full color quarterly magazine – scanned the articles and projects of interest (I keep new issues for a year and then scan and replace in holder the new matching issue) – and I hand out the old issues to prospective members. I keep a reference of which issue each article came from – chances are that with same the issue could be found somewhere.

    I did keep the issues of a genera/historic l needlework magazine that went out of business as we never know when an article from the past might be of value (as opposed to my embroidery guild which is heavy on organization matters and has projects and articles I KNOW will not be of interest in the future to me). When Robert first decided to give in to his lifelong yen to weave, he found about a small, handheld frame to weave on. It was popular in the 1930s and instructions for some of the designs had been printed in the general/historic magazine a few years before – I found the article for him quickly. (The magazines that we do keep I scan the tables of contents of them into the computer and can easily find which one has an article related to what we are looking for.) Also keep the magazines from Colonial Williamsburg and the research publications from our national reenacting group – but I toss their publications about group news after a year.

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