Slug Traffic Cop The Story Behind This Londons Times Cartoons by Rick London

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I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit to the fact that Gary Larson with his “Far Side” cartoon was the trailblazer (as far as I was concerned) at “making insects and other animals) more human (and vice versa).

Sure, plenty of cartoonists did this “fun cartoon trick” long before Gary did, and even during his cartoon, but nobody did it with quite the fervor that Gary Larson did.

Most know, but a few still don’t, Gary Larson majored and got his degree in biology.  He’d thought about teaching and then changed his mind, thank God.

Though I followed The Far Side it’s entire (nearly 15 year run), and it had a vital impact into my thinking process and which way I wanted my humor to turn (I was younger, more immature and “still exploring” at the time).  Then I was invited by some Ms. friends who lived on Capitol Hill in Washington at the same time I did to see a Far Side Exhibit at the Smithsonian.  They had to drag me there even though I loved the cartoon. I guess I didn’t think I was going to “see anything new” that I’d not seen in the newspaper.

Was I ever wrong.  Whomever put that exhibit together knew exactly how to whet and satisfy the appetite of any/every Far Side fan.  Each Far Side was blown up into an 8-10 ft poster on board and hung from the ceiling. It was as if one was walking around inside the Far Side Cartoon and even talking to the odd characters whether they be human, animal, bacteria or space alien.  That exhibit was 34 years ago and, aside from a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fl., I can’t remember any collection of art that had such a life-changing impact.

However it is easy to “take for granted” people of whom have walked this crazy walk with me, many creating their own properties whether they be cartoons or other types of art.

Most know my story of being so naive at the start back around 1997, I contacted some of the biggest names in the industry.  And they were all good to me.   Dave Coverly of Creator’s Syndicate was particularly generous as was Charles “Sparky” Schulz (Peanuts).  Am back in touch with Dave, his cartoon (to me) easily rivals The Far Side but has a “different flair” that is clearly Dave’s own “fingerprint” in his Speed Bump Cartoon.  Dave was generous enough also to leave a positive testimonial on my latest book “Useless Humor” which is (for now) available at Amazon Kindle but soon will have it in other bookstores.  It is our best book I think; and my first to have a mix of cartoons and “useless quotes”.

I’d be amiss not to mention some of the people closest to me such as my beloved wife wildlife/nature photographer Lee Hiller London who is like a “human thermostat”. I can get an idea (often while we are hiking in the forest) and run it by her, and she gives an honest assessment immediately.  I have decided to make cartoons public or toss the ideas away based on her opinion.  Sometimes (on rare occasions) I go ahead with them simply because I like them (and her taste might be different) but she is generally right on target as far as “what is funny to the public” vs “what is funny to just Rick”.  🙂 Lee is also an amazing designer of both gifts and casual clothing and accessories.

Also my long time associate and co-creator Rich Diesslin has steered me in the right direction more than once.  He was with LTCartoons for over a decade and we still work on the occasional project together.  We’ve butted heads, made gains, losses etc together, and stayed friends. He has 3 excellent cartoon properties of his own. I’m in awe of his ability to both create and use left-brain management skills.  Thanks Rich for all you’ve done and continue to do.  Rich also managed LTCartoons the first (most vulnerable decade) and did it well and with integrity.

I’ve been fortunate over the past 3.5 years to work with Tom Kerr who many consider one of America’s finest caricature artists and editorial cartoonists as well as childrens book author.   His latest book is in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Library and deservedly so.    Tom leans more right than I do, but it is that “slight friction” (I’m more to the center) that makes our collaborations work, and they work almost every time.  Tom knows how to make me look good and I appreciate that.  His blog Despicable Jerks is also well worth reading.  You will laugh. Guaranteed.

So what does all of the above have to do with this snail traffic cop cartoon?   Not a lot, but it may give you a subtle hint into how my mind operates.   As if you really wanted to know.  🙂

Thanks again for 18 years of support.  I am truly humbled and grateful.

America’s Economy: International Tourism. Why Are Gun Safety Laws So Important? By Rick London

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BREAKING Victory! New York will be the first state to pass gun laws in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.
New laws include restricting access to the mentally ill, bans on assault weapons and extended magazines, background checks for private gun sales, a statewide database of gun licenses. and harsher punishments for gun crimes, particularly smugglers.

As you probably observed, it didn’t “just happen” overnight.  We were angered and felt powerless every time another mass murder happened. To add icing on the cake, before any American had a chance to express grief, the NRA and it’s groupies were making the story “all about them and their guns and how the second amendment” blah blah…” as if those of us who own guns or have owned them didn’t have that concern.

It simply showed us that people set their priorities differently.  For some, their guns are like their wives or 

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children (or in many cases even more valuable) but for most of us, the children, teachers and other innocents being murdered was the only story here.
 I am a pure Constitutionalist, hence the 2nd Amendment to me is as important as the rest of them.   But here is a case that I know is going to be mentioned in the Supreme Court regarding “what is a gun and what is not”.  It was the same thing in 1935 when machine guns were banned except for military use.  Anything that was once “a gun” that becomes automated, is no longer

considered “a gun” or “arms” but “a military issued weaponry”, and not protected by the 2nd Amendment, hence a moot point  Citizens had to turn in their machine guns and all of them claimed the Constitution would fall apart and the end of the world would be very soon.

Well the world continued, and thrived, and many many less machine guns were bought because the few that got pushed further underground were so expensive, only the very wealthiest criminals could afford them, and no teens, nor young adults, those who are using the majority of automatics and/or extended clips now. 

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And even if all that didn’t exist, our 1st Amendment rights trump anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights any day (also proven in court in 1935. Every citizen had the right to walk down the street without the fear of being blown into little pieces to the point of no identification (a machine gun like an automatic or pistol with extended clip can do that same kind of damage).  So

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America is finally coming into the civilized world.  

 Keep in mind, banning the automatic weapons is part of the solution, but not even close to all of it.  What is goingto be a factor that decides whether America continues to go down the slippery slope of “outlaw-land” or not, is the extensive background checks that finally will be put in place.  

Of course the NRA has “it’s script” that is written for its members, created only to raise money for them.  Whenever the government mentions the idea of extensive background checks, the NRA sends out the same, or nearly the same fear-based letter every single time to it’s members that in a nutshell says, “And so what is next?  We know what is next.  They take our guns away.  

And only you can prevent this and we’re counting on you.  Will you be sending us $10?  $25? $50? $100 or this amount_________?  And it works.  By now anyone who has been a member for at least a year, may not understand it, but the NRA’s fear-based fundraising letters, written by the very best psychologists-turned-marketers knows the score.

On the other hand, these days, one of the first things International tourists look for in their research is violence in the country in which they feel might be a fun and/or interesting visit.  

So they check gun deaths in the U.S.  30,000 in 2011.  Nope, no way.  So they check Canada.  Gun deaths in 2011 – 37.   It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out what country they would be visiting in 2011 with their family of 4-5.  

And those families of 4-5 are in the millions each year.  And thanks to yours truly, the NRA, and its brainwashed members who think that any day now their 2nd Amendment rights will be breached, the topic is not even raised.  After all, what could be more important.    America can afford to lose millions of dollars each year in tourism dollars if it means something as important as the “heroic NRA” fighting for your rights.

The problem is, they aren’t fighting for your rights.  They are fighting to put money in their pockets after each gun story, Newtown tragedy, etc.  The background checks has been a much-needed law in this country for a long time. It exists in every other civilized country. It does not breach any law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms.  If it is upsetting to you, it is time to look within, not at the government, concerned parents, murdered citizens and their families, etc. What are you hiding?  If you have nothing to hide in your background, extension background checks should please you. 

It keeps guns out of the hands of people who are not mentally or emotionally capable of handling them.

But you know the NRA mantra.  When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Guns will never be outlawed.  But when sick violent people are outlawed from getting guns, where they will have to go to buy them, deep into the black market is so expensive, only a small minority of them will be able to afford them.

Is it foolproof?   Of course not.  But it is a very good start.  And it is a message to our citizens who have been staying indoors an awful lot, not going to crowded theaters, malls, downtown or other places where people might be found shooting a gun, will begin doing public commerce again.  And there are millions of them.

And more importantly it sends a message to the world that the citizens are welcoming them back. Though we love our guns, and we do, we love people even more. And we love the fact that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, if not the most beautiful, and friendly, and if it means doing our best to keep guns out of the hands of sick/dangerous people to welcome them back, so be it.  If it means saying goodbye to automatic weapons and extended magazines; and leaving them with the military, for whom they were designed in the first place, so be it.

In other words, the U.S.A. is not as insane as they may believe it is, and they do believe it is, and we are surely willing to work on the useless violence, even if it means loss of profits to the NRA and its affiliates, no, especially if it means loss of income to that gang of thugs.  

The gun dealers, gun show operators etc. will have to learn to act like professionals and deal with the government to make certain guns go to the right persons, or simply go out of business.  It is a win-win for everyone.  They do not need to be in the gun business if they don’t understand that simple face which is about to become law.  And the NRA has no business teaching us about gun safety if all they are trying to do is make it more unsafe, to raise money again and again.  

Tourism, our country’s major breadwinner which has virtually dried up due to the unregulated gun laws (and gun laws that are ridiculous and don’t work) are now looking at America again as a possible destination).  Do you know that most travelers from different countries looked at us as they do Syria, Iran, Gaza, etc?  Seriously.  They picked safe(er) countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Scandanavia etc.  And who could blame them.  Those days are changing. FINALLY.

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Rick London is a freelance writer and songwriter.  He launched Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts in March 1997. It has been Google #1 ranked offbeat webcomic since 2005 and Bing’s #1 ranked since 2008.  London is active in Childrens, Animals and Environment rights. He lives with his wife popular nature/wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who owns and runs Lee Hiller’s Hike Our Planet Nature Blog and Lee Hiller Designs nature photography and artwork gifts and clothing.

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Just Another Dead Black Kid Wearing A Hoodie In Sanford, Fl? by Rick London

A little over a month ago in Sanford, Fl, a suburb of Orlando,  an unarmed minor named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by an armed self-appointed Neighborhood Watchman George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman called 911 before shooting Martin.  He’d called 911 “for suspicious-looking characters” 46 times this year before encountering and stalking Martin and “finding him suspicious too”.  The call before Martin was about a week earlier “Two black youths, about age 7 and 9”.  Martin had been at the neighborhood convenience store where he’d walked to buy Skittles and iced tea where he was described as “Not suspicious and just fine” and was on his way walking home. That was approximately 5 minutes before Zimmerman found him “suspicious” and began pursuing him in his SUV armed with a loaded Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pistol. Zimmerman is the son of retired Judge Joe Zimmerman, whose career was in Va. but retired to the Sanford area of Florida where he was known to be “very well-liked”.

Now the U.S. Federal Department Of Justice has landed in Sanford and both Zimmerman and the Sanford Police Department are under federal investigation.

Here are some of the major items bothering the DOJ:

1. Trayvon weighed significantly less than George Zimmerman.

2. Trayvon was not armed.

3. George Zimmerman was armed with a semi automatic gun.

4. George Zimmerman admits he shot Trayvon Martin.

5. George Zimmerman was told by the 9-1-1 dispatcher not to pursue ‘Trayvon Martin.

6. George Zimmerman did not want to give the police dispatcher a location where the police could find him, but instead indicated that they should call him when they arrived, suggesting that he might be moving around, or that he wanted some warning before the police would see him.

7. Somebody was yelling for help before the sound of the gun shot.

Trayvon is not around to give his version of the events leading up to his murder. However George Zimmerman suggests that the killing was in “self defense” and that he was entitled to stand his ground, and protect himself. Here a just a few problems with his story, assuming only the undisputed evidence.

1. Why would George Zimmerman call out repeatedly for help if he had a gun?

2. Why wouldn’t George Zimmerman agree to wait for the police at an agreed upon location?

3. Why didn’t George Zimmerman go to the hospital to be checked out before going to the police station? If he had actually had his head beaten into the sidewalk, shouldn’t Zimmerman and the police be concerned about a bleed in the brain, or at a minimum a concussion? The broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head would have been sufficient reason to seek medical treatment. However the potential for a cranial bleed or concussion would have necessitated medical evaluation.

4.  If George Zimmerman was afraid for his life, why didn’ t he wait in the safety of his car or Mary Cutcher’s apartment until the police arrived?

 Ever wonder how George Zimmerman eluded court or jail in two cases of domestic violence, 1 case of resisting arrest w/o violence, and one case of resisting arrest with battery against a police officer?  And now after interviewing Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, (Sanford’s one honest investigating homicide officer) Chris Serino (who demanded charges of manslaughter against Zimmerman as he says none of Zimmerman’s story added up), was overridden by “friends of Zimmerman’s dad from the state attorney’s office”.  Serino fortunately knew something was rotten in Sanford City and wrote out an official protest and an Affadavit” anyway and which is on  record and why.

Had the state or DOJ not gotten involved, that would have been the end. Just like Syria. Just like Iran. No court case, no nothing; just a police state; exactly as is utilized in countries we are trying to teach how a civilized society operates. The DOJ, though hard at work,  must be having a field day with all these new discoveries coming in at almost an hourly basis. 

Every single honest police and/or judge in this great land, should be furious over the way this is playing out.  How would you like all your hard work to go down the drain because “somebody knew somebody’s dad (a judge)  4 times (at least 2 of them felonies with no court trials, one battery on a policeman!!!)”?  PS Zimmerman’s “best friend” Joe Oliver now admits they are only “casually acquainted and he knew nothing of Zimmerman’s past” but please “trust me based on my gut feeling”…..; so his major defender is now useless to him with zero credibility. 

But….again lets let the DOJ (Sanford’s new justice system) do their work.  But for those yelling that, it does not mean to censor or intimidate anyone posting news  and/or opinions as they happen.  That is the way its done in Iran, Syria etc. not America.  We all get to speak our minds here no matter our opinion.  Make sure of that, no matter how you feel about this case.  It’s our duty to let everyone with every opinion speak out; if they find it important to do so. 

By the way, I find it hideous that the “New Black Panthers” have latched  on to this tragedy and turned it into “their cause” to put their name in the limelight. They are not needed and impede the important work of the DOJ. It is clear their motive is not justice in this case, but to provide their own justice in this case. They already have stated publicly they do not follow U.S. law, which means they may try to impede it.  They have every right to be there, however, until/unless they do, and if they do, they too, should be arrested, and sent back home.  America will not let them impose their own “law” on a case this important, a case that almost didn’t even make it out of the morgue, except for a ringing cell phone that went unanswered for three days.

It is tacky that Sharpton et al show up but what does he not show up at? He never met a media event he didn’t like.  But that doesn’t change the facts of this case. I happen to find it important because it sets the bar for justice for everyone which is very important.  No case should end with a state attorney office opinion and no court trial. Sharpton and friends find it important because it makes them feel important. And that’s sad.

No matter what the outcome, that is, whether George Zimmerman is found guilty or not guilty, the fact that this case did not end at the morgue, and that there is now a chance that justice will be served because of one honest homicide police officer, a dead child’s cell phone that didn’t quit ringing, and a panicking coroner, the world now knows the story of Trayvon Martin’s trip to get Skittles and Tea.  And the case may or may not turn out the way we think it should.  But at least it will not end up as the corrupt Sanford Police Department and State Attorney’s Office Of Florida (who has now thank God been taken off the case) wanted it to turn out.  Just another dead black kid wearing a hoodie who ran out of luck in Sanford, Florida.

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Rick London is a writer, songwriter, cartoonist, designer and Internet entrepreneur.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons (LTCartoons.com) in 1997 which have been the number one Offbeat Cartoons (Google & Bing ranked) and funny gifts since 2005.  He recently founded Planet Hoodie which sells funny hoodies featuring LTCartoons.  He also is fond of hiking with his wife nature photographer Lee Hiller-London, the founder of HikeOurPlanet.com.