I'm in LA today, signing Dilbert books at the BEA (bookseller convention), from 1-3 pm, in the Andrews McMeel Publishers booth. If you want something signed, find a friend who knows a friend who knows someone at the show.
I imagine the tyrant retirement program would provide some sort of international security guarantees and permanent amnesty for the tyrant. That might require some U.N. forces to guard his mansion or island fortress or wherever he decides to retire. And he would have unrestricted travel rights, in case he wanted to get out of the country for his own safety.
Second, the tyrant would be written into the history books as some sort of founding father type. He would be, ironically, the father of democracy, having stepped aside to allow it to happen. The history books would be modified to show the tyrant did many good things in terms of national stability, and then stepped aside to allow democracy to flourish. His multiple genocides would be downplayed. No tyrant wants to get bad press after retiring.
The tyrant would also be allowed to keep much of the money he stole, say up to a limit of $5 billion per tyrant. That's enough to keep him in helicopters and hookers.
You could add some extras, such as putting the tyrant on stamps and currency, or agreeing to keep him on the ones already in circulation. The point is that retirement has to look like a safe and honorable thing.
The story line for the country would be that while a dictatorship made sense while the tyrant was in power, it only worked because of the force of his amazing personality. And since his country couldn't be expected to find another dictator of such compassion and skill, democracy is the best succession strategy. That spin might sound preposterous, but when you consider the things your own government tells you, it's not that different.
I know it will never work. But waiting for tyrants to die takes too long, and killing them is too expensive. There has to be a better way.
My comic on 5/24/08 raised some questions. In the third panel, Dilbert makes a reference to "churning my own butter." Readers wondered if that was intended to be a naughty double entendre. Read it again if you care to refresh your memory.
This comic was written in my usual way. I started with a premise and drew the first frame hoping I would eventually figure out how it ended. I had a notion that it would end with a reference to something old-fashioned, and I expected to cycle through lots of options before landing on something funny. As it turned out, "churning my own butter" was both the first thing I thought (it's the most obvious) and also the funniest, precisely because it does suggest a darker joke. The boss's line, "You make it sound creepy" was the frosting, so to speak.
Wait, I think I just did it again.
I'm in the (long) process of building a house. The house will have solar panels, but it bugs me that I can't be off the electric grid entirely. There's no convenient and economical way to store energy at your own house while the sun is shining. But is that technology imminent?
Some car companies are allegedly coming out with vehicles that operate on compressed air. Here's one.
How hard would it be to convert that compressed air technology to a home generator? My solar cells could compress air during the day and the compressed air engine would produce electricity at night. There would be plenty of waste in the process, I assume, but it sounds feasible to me.
I'd also like to have a house with two elevators that are balanced so that when one goes down, the other is pulled up. And I would only use the elevators for going down, so my weight causes one side to be heavier than the other. To slow the descent, I'd be compressing air into my home air battery. If you need to go up, you use the stairs. It's healthier. I'd have a full-power elevator option for the elderly and handicapped, but everyone else would be an energy producer.
Then I'd put the guest bathroom on the second floor so I gain some electricity every time a guest goes to take a whiz. It wouldn't balance out the water use, but it would make me feel better. And every time my wife or kids asked me where some lost item or other was, I'd say, "I saw it upstairs."
I wish it was Dilbert. But today it is the May 16th Pearls Before Swine. Check it out today at this URL, but after today it will be in the archive.
In the news, a JetBlue pilot allegedly made a passenger give his seat to an off-duty flight attendant. The flight was full, so the passenger was ordered to sit on the toilet for three hours.
I'm sure your reaction to this story was the same as mine: That passenger got the best seat in the house! He had lots of leg room, total privacy, no one trying to hog the armrest, no seatbelt requirement, and all the whizzing he could handle. So naturally he sued the airline.
The passenger's problem was that he didn't know how to make the best of a great situation. I would have kept the door propped open and yelled "Waiter! More Diet Coke!" every time a flight attendant walked past. And I would have gathered up enough blankets and pillows to feather my little nest.
You might be thinking that the toilet seat in the bathroom has more cooties than Rick Solomon's beard. That's true, and it's why you should always pee in the little sink. But I digress. My point is that there is some theoretical number of airline blankets that will give you three hours of protection. Then all you have to worry about is the germs on the blankets themselves.
The real victims in this story are the two-hundred passengers who had to share one bathroom. They're the ones who should be suing. Airlines have a rule that you can't congregate around the bathroom and wait in line. That means you have to keep one hand on your seatbelt buckle and get ready to pounce as soon as the door opens. If anyone else makes a move, you might need to show your box cutters and yell something about Allah to clear the aisle. It's either that or your bladder will burst. There are no good choices here.
The passenger in this story had his own private suite for three hours and apparently missed the opportunity for a solo flight to the Mile High Club. I assume this is the case because he arrived in California all angry. If you put most men of that age group behind a locked door for three hours, with no other form of entertainment, you need a gurney and an IV at the other end.