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A Short History Of Humankind

By Ray Lesser

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Years ago

13.5 billion       Atoms and molecules appear. First Chemistry test.

4.5 billion        Formation of planet Earth. First yard sale.

3.8 billion        Emergence of organisms. First singles bar opens. Continue reading

Funny Times July 2016 Issue

July 2016 Issue Cover
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Cartoons About …
Summer . The Donald . Fourth of July .
Dating . and more!

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Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Meg Biddle, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Ruben Bolling, Matt Bors, Jon Carter, Patrick Chappatte, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Tim Eagan, Bob Eckstein, Jeff Hobbs, David Horsey, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, Ken Krimstein, Sara Lautman, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Scott Masear, Brian McFadden, Chris Monroe, P.S. Mueller, Jack Ohman, Drew Panckeri, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Jen Sorensen, Ward Sutton, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy, Adam Zyglis … and lots more!

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Funny Times May 2016 Issue

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Cartoons About …
Mother’s Day . Exercise . Artisanal Food .
Election Flashbacks . Marriage . and more!

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Clay Bennett, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Ruben Bolling, Matt Bors, Martin Bucella, Jon Carter, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Tim Eagan, Samuel Ferri, David Horsey, John Kastner, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Scott Masear, Chris Monroe, P.S. Mueller, Rina Piccolo, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Maria Scrivan, Mike Shapiro, Drew Sheneman, Barbara Smaller, Jen Sorensen, Mark Stivers, Tom Toles, Tom Toro, Tom Tomorrow, P.C. Vey, Dan Wasserman, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy, Adam Zyglis … and lots more!

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Self Service

By Ray Lesser

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I used to have a job pumping gas, as did millions of other young men of my generation. For many, this was an entry-level path to becoming a mechanic, or perhaps one day, a service station owner. Continue reading

Funny Times March 2015 Issue

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Cartoons about:
Religion . Satire . Sports . Children . and more!

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Clay Bennett, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Matt Bors, Ruben Bolling, Martin Bucella, Tom Cheney, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Bob Eckstein, Samuel Ferri, David Horsey, George Jartos, John Kastner, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, Julie Larson, Carol Lay, Brian McFadden, Chris Monroe, P.S. Mueller, Nina Paley, Joel Pett, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Flash Rosenberg, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, Barbara Smaller, Jen Sorensen, Mark Stivers, Ward Sutton, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, P.C. Vey, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Funny Times January 2015 Issue

January 2015 Issue Cover

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Cartoons about:
Science . Lifestyles . Guilt . Politics . and more!

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Clay Bennett, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Matt Bors, Martin Bucella, Tom Cheney, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Tim Eagan, Bob Eckstein, Randy Glasbergen, Martha Gradisher, Buddy Hickerson, David Horsey, George Jartos, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, L.J. Kopf, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Chris Monroe, Steve Moore, P.S. Mueller, Joel Pett, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Flash Rosenberg, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, David Sipress, Jen Sorensen, Mark Stivers, Betsy Streeter, Tom Swick, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, Tom Toro, P.C. Vey, Kim Warp, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Funny Times December 2014 Issue

December 2014 Issue Cover

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Cartoons about:
Holidays . Relationships . Dentists . Obesity . and more

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Lynda Barry, Clay Bennett, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Matt Bors, Martin Bucella, Jon Carter, Tom Cheney, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Bob Eckstein, Samuel Ferri, Randy Glasbergen, Martha Gradisher, Jeff Hobbs, Nicole Hollander, David Horsey, George Jartos, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, L.J. Kopf, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Heather McAdams, Chris Monroe, Carlos Montage, Steve Moore, P.S. Mueller, Mark Parisi, Joel Pett, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Flash Rosenberg, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, David Sipress, Jen Sorensen, Mick Stevens, Mark Stivers, Tom Swick, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, P.C. Vey, Kim Warp, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Funny Times October 2014 Issue

October 2014 Issue Cover

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Cartoons about:
Money . I.T. . Religion . Shopping . and more

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Meg Biddle, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Matt Bors, Martin Bucella, Jon Carter, Jack Compère, Dave Coverly, J.C. Duffy, Samuel Ferri, Randy Glasbergen, Martha Gradisher, Jeff Hobbs, Nicole Hollander, David Horsey, George Jartos, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Tim Lockley, Chris Monroe, Steve Moore, P.S. Mueller, Mark Parisi, Rina Piccolo, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, Jen Sorensen, Mark Stivers, Ward Sutton, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, P.C. Vey, Kim Warp, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Funny Times September 2014 Issue

September 2014 Issue Cover

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Cartoons about:
Moving . Clothing . Exercising . Driving . and more

Cartoons by:   Isabella Bannerman, Lynda Barry, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Matt Bors, Martin Bucella, Jon Carter, Tom Cheney, Dave Coverly, Derf, J.C. Duffy, Martha Gradisher, David Horsey, John Kastner, Ham Khan, Keith Knight, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, Chris Monroe, Carlos Montage, Steve Moore, P.S. Mueller, Nina Paley, Mark Parisi, Joel Pett, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Flash Rosenberg, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, Jen Sorensen, Tom Toles, Tom Tomorrow, Tom Toro, Dan Wasserman, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Funny Times January 2014 Issue

January 2014 Issue

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Cartoons about:
New Year’s . Science . Fame . Obamacare . and more

Cartoons by: Isabella Bannerman, Bizarro, Harry Bliss, Ruben Bolling, Matt Bors, Tom Cheney, Dave Coverly, Roy Delgado, Derf, Tim Eagan, Bob Eckstein, Randy Glasbergen, Martha Gradisher, David Horsey, George Jartos, Keith Knight, Mary Lawton, Tim Lockley, Chris Monroe, Steve Moore, P.S. Mueller, Mark Parisi, K.A. Polzin, Hilary Price, Ted Rall, Flash Rosenberg, Maria Scrivan, Andy Singer, David Sipress, Jen Sorensen, Betsy Streeter, Tom Tomorrow, P.C. Vey, Kim Warp, Shannon Wheeler, Matt Wuerker, Zippy … and lots more!

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Great Ideas for 2010

By Ray Lesser

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Name Your Cow

It turns out that cows with names produce 258 liters of milk per year more than nameless corporate cows with ear-tag barcode numbers. Continue reading

Science Works To Save Us From Our Fat

By Ray Lesser

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I can hardly keep up with all the new and important research about what makes me so fat, and why it’s not my fault. Scientists have been hard at work in their little gourmet laboratories, cooking up new recipes for ridding the world of plump middle age men, such as myself, and replacing us with lean, mean, calorie processing machines.

Why does gravity seem to increasingly want to have its way with us? No less a scientist than Albert Einstein spent much of his free time pondering this question. Sitting at his post in the Bern patent office one day in 1907, Einstein imagined how an overweight housepainter would experience gravity if he fell off a roof. Records indicate that this housepainter was probably his brother-in-law Frederick, who Einstein had lost a substantial amount to in a card game the previous evening. The physicist’s daydream ended with what he later called his “happiest moment.” He surmised that the unlucky painter would feel momentarily weightless before accelerating to the ground. This clue led Einstein to perhaps his greatest discovery, which he called “The Special Theory of Weight Loss.” This theory laid the foundation for high calorie particle physics as well as modern crash diets.

Recently, Dr. Zane Andrews discovered that the reason most people overeat is that their brains no longer tell them when to stop. Key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and the potential for weight gain as we get older. “People in the age group 25 to 50 are most at risk,” says Dr. Andrews. “The neurons that tell people in this crucial age range not to overeat are being killed off.” So the reason you keep eating until your giant plate is licked clean is not because of the good habits Mom instilled in you as a child (“Finish your potatoes. Don’t you know there are starving children in China?”). It’s the same reason you can’t remember where you parked your car, or what your next door neighbor’s name is. You’re losing your mind.

The obvious solution to this problem is The Alarm Clock Diet. Simply bring your alarm clock to the kitchen table and set it for five minutes less time than you normally take to eat. Keep shaving a minute or two from your allotted dining time until you reach your desired weight, or you throw the alarm clock off the roof. As Einstein discovered: Time flies when you’re losing weight.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Harvard Medical School have been studying brown fat, the good fat that helps fight obesity. Many people believe that no fat is good fat, but it turns out that the evil enemy of the dieter is the white fat cell. This is your basic jiggly, tub of lard type fat that seems to plague us every time we look in the mirror. Brown fat, on the other hand, is the superhero of fat. It is chock full of energy generating mitochondria. Just two pounds of brown fat can burn up 20 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake. “It’s basically a fire that’s just burning,” says researcher Bruce Spiegelman. Scientists have discovered a protein that could trigger cells in the body that usually produce white fat to make brown fat instead. Several mice injected with this protein have already gone on to careers as models for the Minnie Mouse Glamour Agency. The difficulty researchers are facing is that the protein also stimulates bone formation. The lab is trying to work out conditions that could encourage the development of brown fat without forming bone tissue in undesired locations. “Otherwise,” says a researcher, “you could have rock hard abs, but not in the way you’d expected.”

Another exciting study is going on at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, where mice are living the couch potato’s dream. “We have exercise in a pill,” said Ron Evans, an author of the study. That’s right, pop a pill called AICAR and get all the benefits of exercise without a second at the gym. Mice who took this pill for four weeks burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice. They could also run 44 percent farther on a treadmill. Why the pill would turn a couch mouse into a distance runner is still a mystery. “Honestly,” said Evans, “I think that it’s a small miracle it happened at all.” But does this pill have the potential to change the way we view diet and exercise? Would people really opt for a daily pill instead of a rigorous daily workout and diet routine? Is the Pope chubby?

Finally, and most importantly, Harvard medical scientists have discovered that cocoa flavanols, the unique compounds found naturally in cocoa, increase blood flow to the brain. Study participants who regularly drank a cocoa rich beverage had a 10 percent brain blood flow increase after two weeks. Scientists believe that maintaining an increased blood flow to the brain could slow the effects of dementia and other age-related blood vessel dysfunction.

So, in summary, you’re getting so old you can’t stop yourself from eating, but pretty soon you’ll be able to get (brown) fat so you won’t have to. You’ll also be able to take your exercise in pill form, and spend more time on the couch drinking cocoa so that your brain stays sharp and you’ll remember not to overeat in the first place. So stop worrying about dieting, because science is taking care of all your problems for you. Now, can I have my chocolate cake and eat yours too?

If I Only Had A Brain

By Ray Lesser

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Scientists have been spending a great deal of time thinking about their brains lately, wondering how to make them bigger, more powerful, and ultimately like Einstein’s brain; worth preserving in a jar to be admired by future generations of brainy scientists.

Brains are important to scientists because they use them literally all day long to try to solve the mysteries of the universe, such as, “Is there life on Mars, and if so, is there some way to exploit it in order to obtain another government research grant?” Whereas the rest of us mostly use our brains as short-term storage devices to ponder things like “What was the name of the Chinese restaurant my wife told me has our take-out order?” and quandaries such as, “Is this power outage due to possible terrorist attack or did I forget to pay the electric bill again?”

Since scientists depend on their brains for their livelihood, they worry about things that might do damage to them, whereas the rest of us worry if we can pour the last pint out of the beer keg directly into our mouths, without wasting a drop. Recently, researchers at the University of Washington found that prolonged exposure to low-level magnetic fields like those generated by hair dryers, electric razors, and similar household devices can damage brain cell DNA. Furthermore, the damage appears to build up with repeated exposure over time.

This apparently confirms something many of us have suspected; people with the most elaborately coiffed hair are probably missing more than a few brain cells. And the longer they work perfecting their hairdos, the more serious the brain damage becomes. This also explains why many scientists look like wild-eyed, half-shaven maniacs. It is exactly this type of individual who has managed to maintain the greatest percentage of their gray matter, and therefore is capable of discovering many amazing things about the rest of us. Ordinary people’s continued use of household electrical appliances may also explain their willingness to continue to volunteer as subjects for science experiments.

For example, what were the 112 employees of the Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community thinking when scientists asked them to regularly stay after work and join in a giant drumming circle? “Gee whiz, I always wanted to be in a drum group with everybody at the nursing home. Here’s my chance!” At any rate, the scientists found that after six drum circle sessions, participants experienced a 50 percent improvement in their mood, including a decrease in feelings of fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, during the year following the drumming sessions, 49 fewer employees resigned than had the previous year, which saved the nursing home $400,000 in costs associated with training new drummers.

As a parent of three, this research doesn’t surprise me. I’ve known for years of the therapeutic benefits of living in a house where the children are constantly beating on drums and pounding other percussion instruments such as tambourines, silverware, plates, tables, walls, windows, and each other’s flesh. As the result of being exposed to this constant level of invidious pounding noise, I often am able to note a 50 percent improvement in my mood, simply by walking out my front door.

Now thanks to scientists at the University of Regensburg in Germany, I know how to rebuild the lost brain cells that may have been the result of too many years of child-rearing, shaving and blow-drying. Researchers there found that mastering juggling increases the amount of gray matter in the brain. No matter whether the juggling is done with balls, clubs, flaming torches, or knives, this finding has proven something that was thought impossible — learning to juggle can alter the brain’s structure, and increase your hat size!

Other researchers have also been thinking hard about their brains. Dr. Marcos Frank discovered that the brain needs sleep, and that every animal, even flies, experience a state like sleep. I don’t know how late the doctor had to stay up before he caught a fly napping, but I do know that his discovery could mark the beginning of a whole new American manufacturing industry: fly pillows, pajamas, and stylish bedroom accessories.

A University of Wisconsin team found that volunteers who took part in an eight-week course on meditation had a more stimulated brain, and showed resiliency against infection. Not surprisingly, contemplating the void turns out to be more stimulating than contemplating the ABC Thursday night TV schedule. Another scientist discovered that nicotine improves memory and helps the brain repair itself. Unfortunately, while his brain was repairing itself, his lungs were turning as black as Darth Vader’s heart. Meanwhile, a study by the University of Kentucky found that breast-fed babies have an IQ three to five points higher than that of formula-fed babies.

This is about as much science research as I can cram into one column using my puny, non-scientific brain, and probably more than most readers will ever need to know about. So let’s recap what we’ve learned: A breast-fed baby who gets plenty of sleep, drums, meditates, smokes, and learns to juggle while managing to avoid small household appliances, is the most likely to climb to the top of the great brain summit, and become a scientist. If you know an individual like this, do your part in helping mankind solve the mysteries of the universe. Give them a jar full of flies or a nest of lab rats. Someday the super-intelligent, bioengineered life forms of the future will be grateful you did.