Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
I will say more in the very near future about the Obama administration’s decision on the NASA budget, which was the subject of my last post. Today, however, I’d like to offer a change of pace. When I began this blog, I intended to include posts about the moon in our culture in addition to posts on the science of the moon. So far, however, I’ve done very little of the former.
I read only two web comics on a regular basis: Sinfest, written by Tatsuya Ishida, and Piled Higher and Deeper, written by Jorge Cham. Yesterday, Tatsuya had a delightful comic that has to do … sort of … with the moon.
Probably no explanation of this strip is necessary. But if any of you are curious, Sinfest is sort of about modern life and sort of about religion and is highly irreverent about both. It’s definitely satirical but I would not say it’s anti-religious. It just pokes fun at the little foibles of all religions. (Except Islam — I’ve never seen Ishida say anything, pro or con, about Islam, probably because that can be hazardous to a cartoonist’s health.)
The little Buddha on a cloud and the dog (named Pooch) are recurring characters. Every now and then Ishida draws a strip where he illustrates how the Japanese symbol (kanji) for some word could plausibly come about. I like these calligraphy strips very much. He usually plays it very straight. The humor lies, to me, in the whole idea of rationally explaining something as irrational as language. You could do the same thing with English spellings.
I’m not completely sure what the “mu!” at the end of yesterday’s strip means. When I go online and look up the free English-Japanese dictionaries, it’s easy enough to find out that the kanji shown here is pronounced “tsuki” and means “moon.” On the other hand, “mu” means “six.” Can anyone explain to me what six has to do with the moon? Or what the point of the joke is otherwise? (Perhaps “mu” is how dogs bark in Japanese?)