24 Comments

  1. The kids afraid of monsters and the parents are showing him there are no monsters, but not to show there is nothing to be afraid and the world is a safe, but instead to acknowledge the world is freaking scary and hiding under the bed is the safest option in this scary world.

    (It’s a Covid-19 joke)

  2. It’s a reference to the isolation required by the Covid-19 pandemic: notice the two bottles of hand sanitizer on the floor next to the bed, plus the draft excluder at the base of the door.

  3. Kilby, these days EVERYTHING’S a reference to C-19; but “the safest place is under the bed” still doesn’t make any sense.

  4. Without the hand sanitizer and C-19, I would have guessed it is because if you are worried monsters are under the bed, if you are under the bed and there are no monster then there can be no more monsters under the bed. (Until you realize that YOU are the monster.)

    Otherwise, I think it is a fairly simple paranoia sort of response to C-19, suggesting the ridiculous nature of hiding, etc. I think a better comic might be a play on the old hiding under the desk in a nuclear explosion routine, but then that would get a “geezer” tag.

  5. For the record, we hid under our desks not to protect us from the bomb itself but because, if the blast was too far away to kill us, shards of window would come flying in at a million miles an hour to rip us to pieces.

    I assume our teachers knew this at the time and simply didn’t want to go into the gory explanation — but as a result, we got 60+ years of “Hey, weren’t teachers silly back then!”

  6. If you want to escape from the outside world, hiding in your room is one solution, and hiding under the bed would seem to offer even more protection. The joke is that not just one, but both parents have taken refuge with their kid to hide from the virus.

  7. Re: “the safest place is under the bed” ” still doesn’t make any sense.

    Millions of dogs and cats will disagree.

  8. Hiding under the bed from a killer or attacker is pretty common in movies. It’s immediately available and has room for a person. Think of all the times the camera has shown the under-the-bed pov as the killer’s shoes pace around the room, his identity still unknown, and the suspense of whether he’ll actually look or just walk out.
    It’s not uncommon for an upset or scared kid to crawl under the bed, either. It’s the most cave-like refuge readily available in most houses.

  9. We were 40 miles north of Manhattan. I distinctly remember knowing that hiding under a desk wasn’t going to help.

    Now I’m near Dulles, which means I’m smack between the nation’s capital and Loudoun County, where something insane like 70% of the world’s Internet traffic transits. If the balloon goes up, we’re doubly a primary target.

  10. @CIDU Bill

    Yes, you are correct about the reason for ducking under the desk. Especially in the 50’s and 60’s, the blast zone of a bomb or two would only be a few miles in radius and the greatest immediate danger would be from the ensuing shock wave. Of course, what to do after the all-clear signal would be another matter altogether.

    The teachers in our suburban elementary school tried to isolate us from the fears of the bomb and told us it was a “tornado drill”. Our place of refuge was inside the windowless masonry hall ways instead of under our desks.

  11. To be clear, I knew the real reason for ducking under the desk. I grew up just outside of DC and we always assumed we would be gone before we knew it.

    What I was pointing out is, like the island with a single palm tree on it, duck and cover has become a humorous image and has potential for a COVID-19 comic.

  12. Swear to God, sometimes I think I’m the only person on the planet who knows this, and I almost think “Maybe everybody else is right and I’M wrong.”

  13. Oops, I should have trimmed the “?source=nar-cms” and the picture would have showed inline…

  14. lark, that’s because ground zero is *under* the blast. There wasn’t much standing around that building.

  15. I count some 5 or 6 standing structures in the background in the photo above, and two intact bridges. I’m not denying the near total devastation, I am pointing out that the actual nature of the total devastation of an atomic blast is quite different than what I think most people assume it to be — some kind of blank slate sheet of glass or so. Lots of things can survive an atomic blast; there was a whole program called Project Orion that was going to use atomic blasts to power a space ship. I recently read an account of it by George Dyson, the son of Freeman Dyson, who was involved in it. They were going to use metal plates to direct and contain the blast, and actually did tests with metal plates on actual test detonations of atomic bombs — they put the plates on the bomb, recovered it after the blast to see how it was affected — fascinating stuff!
    The fact that these plates not only survived being right up in the middle of an atomic detonation, but that they were predicting and controlling how they would survive, is totally counter-intuitive to my naive understanding of an “atomic blast”. Apparently everything is not instantly reduced to its component atoms and scattered away. Ground zero is not a white sheet of glass. An atomic bomb is not some either/or proposition of total and complete destruction, but rather on a continuum of understandable, predictable destruction, much worse and more efficient than conventional explosives — with an added element of radioactive poisoning — but still on that continuum of ever increasing destructive potential that we’ve been charting since the invention of gun powder and probably before.
    The idea that there is nothing you can do in the face of this destruction is simply not true, and the latter-day meme we have of how silly those people in the 50s were telling kids to hide under their desks in the face of complete and total utter destruction down to the very atoms is unfair to the very intelligent people who were working on the problems back then (again, they were very seriously thinking of harnessing these blasts to power a spaceship!).
    I thought a picture was worth a thousand words (ground zero, lots of stuff standing, including the intricate designs of a building’s dome), but here are my thousand words, since I guess it didn’t work.

  16. Go ahead if you want, you haven’t used up your thousand! My wordcount for it says 406.

  17. ground zero is *under* the blast

    Similarly, the center of a seismic event, the location in three dimensions of the slip or whatever sets off the quake, is well below the surface, usually. And the epicenter is the corresponding place on the surface, where a projection from the center of the Earth up thru the center of the seismic event reaches the surface.

    It’s very natural and appropriate that news reports, and historical accounts, and emergency alerts, etc etc, should talk about the epicenter. That’s where people and buildings are. That’s where locations like towns and streets apply.

    But it’s curious that epicenter has developed as the metaphoric term used for talking about the origin or site of increasing activity of some non-concrete social development, or line of thinking, or habit and practice, etc.

    (This is actually just a descriptive diachronic question — how did this come about? I’ve seen it taken as prescriptive disapproval, and met by response that epicenter brings in tonal factors or expectations that a plain center wouldn’t manage.)

  18. i would say that “epicenter” has come to mean the center of a phenomenon (usually a bad or implicitly bad one) by analogy to the earthquake usage, given that the technical meaning of the earthquake usage is of little interest to non-specialists. That is, it’s the center of the earthquake as it’s socially experienced, so it becomes used the center of any other catastrophes, and then for things that are being likened to catastrophes, and then for anything that’s a measurable social phenomenon.

    Would be interesting if this process has affected the general interpretation of the word “epiphenomenon”, but I suppose most people probably just don’t know that word so there’s little effect.

    lark: it never occurred to me that anyone would think that (atomic explosion -> things reduced to component atoms) but I suppose it’s a reasonable interpretation of the words in the absence of other data. So yeah, it’s just a large amount of energy released in a small space in a short amount of time. Similar amounts of energy can be liberated other ways, e.g. by dropping an asteroid on a planet, and will have mostly the same effects modulo not releasing nucleotides. And I suppose I should point out that the Hiroshima bomb was very small by later standards and even so missile silos were routinely built hardened enough to resist anything short of a direct hit.

    There are photos of the damage from the Tunguska event (which was natural, though people still debate exactly what it was)… and I think there are also survey photos from when the Soviets tested an extremely large nuke in Siberia somewhere but I can’t remember enough about it to offer search keywords. (Maybe someone else can.)

    Also while I’m rambling, ask youtube for Kerbal Space Program versions of Project Orion 🙂

  19. “it never occurred to me that anyone would think that (atomic explosion -> things reduced to component atoms)”

    Yes, that’s silly, when everyone really should know that (atomic explosion = sudden development of superpowers in ordinary man, turning him into a superhero or supervillain, depending on which one is needed for the story at the moment). It’s just basoc common sense science, guys!

  20. There’s a lot of interest these days in epigenetics.

    Also you can see something interesting going on (not now but back in 20th or maybe 19th century biochem) by noting that epinephrine and adrenaline are the same thing. Also the derivations of the words are just about the same, but one from Greek pieces and one from Latin. The epi- is the same as in our other examples, meaning on or above, here the same as Latin ad-. And the remainders are both “kidney” – and yes, the adrenal glands are up on the kidneys.

    I do run across “epiphenomenon” but join you in being uncertain how popular it has become. I worry a little that one trend is to use it to dismiss or belittle something, as not quite real, not genuine. As happens with “socially constructed” and nowadays “performative” which has almost none of J L Austin’s sense left to it, and for that matter probably not all that much of Judith Butler. (I have not actually read any Butler original texts.)

  21. We did both the under desk drills and the crouching in the hallway away from the room doors drills – and as a fat little girl – both of the drill types were hard to do and terribly uncomfortable. I have seen the duck and cover cartoon movie fairly recently and I have to say – that duck and cover under a tablecloth at a picnic made even less sense than the under desk/ in the hall drills.

    I was lucky to have parents who were very reassuring and nonalarmist. Both the girl who lived next door to us and Robert had parents who were alarmists. One day (now I know it was Cuban missile crisis) she was all upset because a man named Castro was going to kill everybody. I was terribly confused as the only person I know of named Castro was the man who made/sold convertible sofa beds on TV. When I asked my dad about this danger he shrugged and said that it was going to be okay and nothing would happen. When we received a form at the house to send in details of our house and we would receive instructions on how to make a bomb shelter he gave it to me to fill in. When it came back the instructions I showed it to him and asked him which we would do. “Oh, I only gave it to you to fill in because I knew you would have fun doing it.” (Even then I liked to fill in forms.) “We don’t need to do anything as nothing is going to happen.”

    As a result I always figure things will work out well, though take careful precautions such as buying food to carry us through the home isolation, and Robert is always full of doom and gloom.

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