Comedy in the Computer Age


(Magically make this cartoon bigger by clicking the word “someone!”)

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Garden of Eden.

I’m a Mac guy, as virtually all professional artists are because Apple’s products are the standard in our industry, and so virtually all of my computer-related gags are about Apple products. The only time I’ve ever used a PC is when I check my email at my parent’s house and I always have to get my dad to remind me how to turn it on.

With today’s iProd cartoon, I thought it might be a good time to do a mini-review of some of the Apple gags I’ve done in the past few years. Just in case you missed some or want to email them to your computer geek friends.

This cartoon from last August was something of an inspiration for today’s cartoon, of course. Nothing more to say about it than that.

The iPhone 5 comic below was pretty popular when it was published last year.  I was very sad to hear of Steve Jobs’ death earlier this month. Many commentators compared him to Edison and Ford, but Edison was a thief (read about the life of Nikola Tesla) and Ford was a racist (ask any Jew). I’d rather compare him to Da Vinci.

A couple of the best things about Apple computers is that they don’t crash until they are old and ready to be replaced, and they don’t get viruses. That’s what this cartoon is about, of course. I don’t know much about how computers work other than that they are more than 50% voodoo, so I’m not sure if Macs don’t get viruses because of they way they are designed or because people who design viruses only go after PCs. If you know the answer to this, leave it in the comments section. I’ve always wondered.

This cartoon from ’07 is one of my most popular in recent years. It was a collaboration between myself and a cartoonist friend by the name of Phil Witte. Not surprisingly, a lot of churches contacted me to ask if they could include this cartoon on their web site or in their church bulletin.

People sometimes ask why I use so many religious images in my comics since I am atheist. The answer is simple: cartoons are often about a different “take” on common knowledge or experience, and popular mythology is a rich vein of common knowledge. Plus, these fables were created because they say something about the human condition. What more could you ask for as a jumping-off point for satire?

All of these Bizarro cartoons and thousands more can be found on dandy products of all kinds. Perfect for holiday gifts, come to think of it!


22 thoughts on “Comedy in the Computer Age

  1. Re: Not my real dad link…

    Are those what your real dad’s PCs look like, though.

    That makes him a cool dude, bro, at least to us other geeks.

    Re: Viruses on Macs (as I understand it)

    Macintosh OSX is effectively a version of Unix which is like Linux, too. The design of both Unix and Linux (intended as multi-user systems) effectively separate regular users from the executive control of the computer. That generally means a regular user can’t pass along a virus that needs to have executive control the computer to do bad stuff. User stuff is isolated from “root” access (which is the way us geek, nerd types say it).

    Windows was designed as a single user operating system. That puts the ordinary user too close to the executive control level. Viruses can sneak from “user land” into the executive layers of the operating system.

    Add to those differences, the money which virus authors can make from attacking the majority of computer users, and focusing on attacking the hardened OS of Mac and Linux usually isn’t worth the effort.

  2. The reason “Macs don’t get viruses” (TM) is because their system architecture and security functions are different, and in the history of computer viruses, they’ve *mostly* been so rare that it wasn’t worth hackers’ time to program malware for Macs.

    Of course, that’s changing now that anyone who wants to feel like a person has to have a Mac. Mac-targeted viruses are appearing in the wild, and Mac users are more vulnerable because they feel they don’t need antivirus programs. “I’m running OS X, that IS the antivirus!”

  3. There’re few viruses for Mac OS, because most virus writers go for the biggest and easiest target. They’d be stupid not to! Today it’s Windows XP, next year it will probably be Android.

    Mac users should be aware about malicious software too, as there are some attacks on Mac OS (google for mac malware). Especially targeted attacks are dangerous, because many Mac users feel that they’re “safe”, and may be careless. Although, I don’t think cartoonists should expect targeted attacks anytime soon.

    My general advice is: Update your operating system and applications, don’t use the same password everywhere, run a firewall and some kind of anti-virus software (even on Mac OS!), and don’t believe things that are too good to be true. That should work for most computer users.

    And of course, read this blog. It won’t make your computer more secure, but it will probably make your day better. Thanks, Dan!

    • I have personally known numerous people who have successfully treated cancer with veganism. Even more effective, however, is preventing it in the first place by not eating meat or dairy. Nothing works 100% of the time, but vegans have significantly less cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and on and on.

      Jobs may have died because the diet didn’t work, then again, if he had received “conventional” treatment immediately, he might still have died at the same time or sooner. Everyone is different, no one can know. The fact that an optimal, plant diet is important to disease treatment is well known among cutting-edge physicians. The fact that hospitals routinely serve meat and dairy to recovering heart and stroke victims is evidence of how little the old-guard establishment pays attention to the link between nutrition and disease. Giving meat and dairy to a heart disease victim is like giving cigarettes to someone recovering from lung cancer.

      In the end, some alternative medicine is bullshit, some is not. Most conventional treatments started out as alternative until they were proven to work. Even then, most doctors of a given generation have to die off before new methods are accepted industry wide.

      • Maybe it made him happy to live the way he did when he was facing such a scary health issue..he probably decided to take control of his own how he wanted and keeping himself comfortable..

    • I don’t think that it is possible to armchair quarterback anyone’s disease without full access to the persons’s medical records.

  4. Nice threadjack…

    Dan, another thing about Macs is that they didn’t start out with the “console” concept. The original PC architecture was set up for maximum flexibility in commercial use, at a time when 16K of RAM was horribly expensive. So there are a lot of attack points. You can see these in a good registry editor / system manager, like Hijackfree ( I am not affiliated with them at all. Intego has a Mac security blog, on which the relatively small number of points are addressed as they appear as risks.

    The cafeteria at the hospital serves what they do because they can’t get the public to change habits right there. Then, rather than cite cases without documentation or any investigative rigor, I suggest quoting your proctologist (apologies if you don’t have one, but eventually…). He’ll say, “Eat as though you had to catch it yourself. Eat all the greens you can stuff in your face, sample the others, don’t make a habit of steak.”

    Telling: “alternative” medicine, when it works, is called “medicine”. Don’t be discouraged by treatment failures, but DO use investigative rigor!

  5. I loved the iPhone 5 comic when it came out. Chocolate flavored broccoli … yes please!

    BTW, for some odd reason I always name my Macs, but never my PCs.

  6. Denis Ritchie, the father of UNIX and creator of the C programming language died last week-end. UNIX was designed while he worked at AT&T and was architected to be a safe and reliable platform for telephone systems…unlike DOS and Windows which were designed for personal use.

    Steve Jobs knew all this and brought in to first NeXT and later to Apple when he came back and made OS-X based on the Mach kernel.

    Suffice to say that with an architecture designed for telephone switching environments, your Mac is much, much harder to compromise.

    As someone who has never owned a Mac or an iThing, but has spent 20 years writing C and C++ application on Unix/Linux system, I will miss Denis a lot more.

  7. Dan- the best explanation I’ve heard about the lack of Mac viruses is: There are no disgruntled Mac users.

    And the truthiest thing I’ve ever heard about Macs vs. PC’s is: “PC’s were invented by Republicans to keep ordinary people from enjoying computers.”

  8. Old Macs don’t crash until they get old? Don’t let my ’98 vintage 3-slot G3 hear that. It still has OS9 on it and runs like a champ. My original plan for the old G3 (I do all my work on a dual-core G4 now) was to donate it after the scanner — also made in ’98 — gave up the ghost. Problem is, the scanner is still running, and I plan on running it until it dies, but I couldn’t tell you when that’d be. (Back when I owned cars, I was one of those guys who’d buy a car brand-new and drive it until it was about to fall apart)

    So, anyway, the old G3 is still set up on the far end of the drawing table, powered down most of the time unless I have to scan sketches and underdrawings for cartoons, or when I want to watch a little TV — the G3 has an ixMicro “TurboTV” card in it, which is basically a complete cable-ready TV set without the tube. The TurboTV was also made in ’98, and is an old-style analog set, so I have it patched into my old VHS (don’t laugh) which has one of those DTV boxes plugged into it.

    Before that, I had a IIsi which I ran for six years until it got too old and slow to run what I needed. My first Mac was a Mac Plus, which was still in perfect working order when I donated it in ’91. I wish now that I’d hung onto it, as it’d be old enough now that it might actually be increasing in value, especially since I had the complete mint set of OS, MacPaint, MacWrite, and MacDraw on 800k floppies that shipped with it. Damn.

  9. =v= The notion that Windows has the most viruses because it’s the most popular is what Microsoft’s marketing will tell you, but it doesn’t hold water. For decades, most of the servers on the web have been Linux, and of course that’s where the more interesting information is. There are viruses, worms, and breakins on Linux and other Unix systems (MacOS is a Unix system), but not nearly as many as have plagued Windows.

    Nothing is 100% secure, so as a thought experiment the “most popular” notion makes sense, but in reality Microsoft’s poor security design is what weights results the most. For years, Windows didn’t have firewall software and you had to buy some from a third party (while Unix did and does have firewalls, free right down to the source code). You also had to, and still have to, buy third-party anti-virus software just to have a running system. It’s ludicrous.

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  13. Macs do get viruses (as mentioned earlier), just not as many, nor as severe, as older implementations of windows. There’s a couple reasons for this.

    1. Virus writers want to hit a lot of computers at once. Since PCs are (and have been) roughly 90% (hyperbole, but you get the gist) of the computer market, a virus targeted at a PC is statistically likely to hit more computers, even if it only hits a smaller percentage of possible computers.

    2. a.Viruses that do get on a Mac are only really able to damage the files of the user who downloaded the virus initially (unless someone else opens up the file, but that’s another issue). This means that the virus can’t infect as many files on the system, nearly as fast.

    2. b.Windows, when it’s installed at the factory, is generally set up to set the first user account that logs in as the administrator, and most people don’t bother to create a separate user account for normal use. That means that when a user downloads a virus to their system, in all likelyhood they are doing so as the system administrator, giving the virus access to /every/ file on the computer. Every IT person I’ve met sets up a separate user account for daily use, but most people I know just aren’t interested in taking the extra time, and learning an extra set of credentials, to prevent what they see as a low-risk event.

    2. c. Windows 7 (and Vista, for all it’s flaws) has helped resolve this by prompting the user whenever a file change is about to happen without an intermediary program, like Microsoft Word, performing the change. This can act as a heads up for users if something is going on (i.e, if your computer prompts you 8 times in a minute that a file change needs your permission to continue, there’s quite possibly a virus at work), though that assumes they’ll /do/ something about it, but that’s a different problem.

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