State of Play

I had never heard of this movie, or perhaps I simply blocked it out, as it is far too filled with pretty people, but I greatly enjoyed it. Two reporters (well, one's a blogger) are trying to unravel a mystery of a government intern suicide/murder, and what, if any, it has to do with a government probe of what amounts to the privatization of military forces (Think Blackwater). I was very impressed with the relationships between characters, commentary on the state of newspapers, and the fact that there was no gratuitous violence, only subtle romance, and no big action shoot them up scenes. Then again, perhaps that's exactly what killed the movie and made it so I never heard of it. state of play

In Real Life - Cory Doctorow

Anda, a somewhat average, nerdy, girl joins an online gaming group, but the sword and sorcery adventures quickly change as she's confronted by realities she did not see or foresee. Doctorow brings us a comic that tries to open us up to a world where economics and gaming go hand-in-hand, remind us of the political life we are used to is very different just about everywhere else, and everywhere else is exactly where the Internet links us. There is a lot to like about this comic, as it can make us very aware of realities that most people would never imagine. My problems with it are that too much is trying to be done in very broad superficial strokes. Issues like female empowerment, female body issues, workers rights, child labor, bullying, the dangers of the online world, and school clicks (even gamers have hierarchies), are all touched on but not often developed. It is a good young adult book with very cute art by Jen Wang. In Real Life

Zombillenium (vol. 1): Gretchen - Arthur De Pins

Coming to us in English is French cartoonist de Pins' story about a horror themed amusement park that actually is staffed exclusively by monsters. The latest addition is a down and out guy who "accidentally" gets turned into a monster (what type is still an ongoing debate) and is forced to become an employee. So far the story is nothing super deep (although there is this whole zombie union issue that I think is a very nice added element) and I'm not sold on the art which smacks to me of CGI, yet I enjoyed this very short (although very large in page size) comic and will look for the next volume. 

Privacy? Please...

In honor of Google’s new worrisome privacy policy and the news that the FBI may be using FaceBook and other social media to spy on Americans: Click to enlarge

In the Information age, data is power, and it should be no surprise that governments and companies want as much access to your personal information as possible. Because once you understand and can track someone’s behavior, you can keep tabs on them and/or sell directly to them. (I’m not sure which I fear more.)

Companies work hard to get a hold of your information. And while you may be willing to share some secrets in exchange for a product or service, you have no control over what is ultimately done with that information or who gets it.

It’s true that organizations are now required to disclose their privacy policies. But that doesn’t mean much, because if you actually read those policies, you’ll see that your rights are pretty limited. “Opting out” is always tricky or cumbersome. And even the most ethical company can change owners (and policies) at the drop of a hat.

But why should they have all the power? We’ve seen how far companies will go to protect their intellectual property. People need to start protecting their own intellectual property. In a world where data equals dollars, shouldn’t you be the one who decides how to buy and sell your info? I’m quite serious: I want a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to privacy. But barring that, I want to require companies to get my express written permission to use my information—every time they want to use it. More than that, I want a dollar every time someone downloads my data. If iTunes can do it, I should be able to as well.

Vada a bordo, cazzo!

We live in a world where people are quick to pass the buck, to claim it's not their problem, to blame others, to manipulate the truth, to lie. It might not be anything new, but I feels like it gets worse every year. The outraged that Italian cost guard commander De Falco expressed at the seeming cowardly incompetence of the captain of the Costa Concodia cruise ship gets to the heart of the matter in the one phrase: Vada a bordo, cazzo. Roughly translated, it means "Get back on board, you dick!"

Capt Schettino: But do you realize it is dark and here we can’t see anything…

Commander De Falco: And so what? You want go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home?

It is always dark, it's always hard to see, and we always want to go home. Stop your whining, cut the excuses, take responsibility, do your job.

You'll be surprised how quickly the world becomes a better place.

Nothing to see here folks...

In the middle of the night the police move in to kick out the OWS protesters. The mayor said it was over health and legal concerns. Thank goodness NYC is run by someone who cares so much about health and legality that he gives no-bid contracts to drink venders in our schools and decides the law against running for a third term didn’t apply to him. Good thing it happened in the middle of the night too, I’d hate to think that there was anything underhanded about it. Here's an article.

"Celebrating" the Anniversary of the Iraq War

click to enlarge

As of March 20, it's been eight years since we went into Iraq.

You may have missed the celebration, because the U.S. was busy getting involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East.

After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives (and likely ten times that many lives of others), it's difficult to say what we've gained. I was not a supporter of the war. Bush's claims of WMDs seemed dubious at best; and linking Iraq and 9/11 was the height of crass manipulation. Saddam, while certainly evil, was also contained, and in no way a threat to Americans.

Yet there we are, and despite "the end of combat operations," it looks as if we'll be there for years to come. There's no real exit strategy, because we can't leave when things are going badly, and we can't leave when things are finally starting to get better.

On the plus side, it's a great time to be a defense contractor or an oil services company (or both if you are KBR)!

Cartoon originally published Sep. 5, 2005.

Congratulation Republicans!

Congratulation Republicans! You overwhelmingly took back Governorships, the House, AND THE SENATE (you already have the Supreme Court). By embracing and incorporating a fringe movement, working lock-step within party platform of being rigid and uncompromising regardless of the issue, and your willingness to accept money from any sources and use whatever tactics necessary to win, you have shown the people that they must hate and distrust their government (except for you Republicans as you are the exception). Your win includes all aspects of the government as the Democrats long to be Republicans. They refuse to follow their own platforms, vehemently decry any outsider movements, constantly attempt to kow-tow to Republican demands (especially in the south and midwest), and are willing to do anything just to contend for the same sources of money as the Republicans have. Your win is a win for dogmatic intransigents and manipulation of the ignorant for the sake of your masters: the richest 1% of the country that controls most of its wealth. Meanwhile, the Democrats loss is one they have earned through years of cowardliness and self-destructive actions/inactions. You deserved to win as you are a hive mentality. And Democrats deserve to loss because you have no idea what they even want to be.

Fun with Graphs

The Drawing Board This idea is blatantly stolen from Cej (see, Cej, you mom is right; you shouldn't talk to me). Since the midterm elections are coming up, I wanted to do something social/political, which I haven't really done since the ABCs of the USA. Obviously, I can't draw, but I've always said that the art is secondary in comics (and start flaming...NOW!), so I've made a cartoon in the XKCD style. (I suppose now there are two people looking to sue me.) The comic itself is deliberately sloppy. The comic isn't in the art, so any attempt to make it "neat" seemed out of place.

ALA or Bust? Busted! Part I

I should have realized it was a warning. in the week before the trip to Washington DC that I planned for myself and my schoolmates in order to visit the Library of Congress and attend the American Library Association's annual meeting, the following mechanical items broke down: My bank card, my parents computer, and my external hard drive. On the day before the trip it was: my computer, my DVD player, my TV, and my wi-fi access.

Was it any wonder that I got only 3 hours sleep the night before the trip? or that the bus would break down? I suppose it could have, should have been worse considering that the driver would constantly turn around while talking to us. Instead of an accident we merely had a blow out that shredded a tire. Interestingly, I had called my tour guide to say that we were running a little late and hung up with her at the exact moment of the flat.

I didn't blame Megabus for this, even if it was a chartered bus rather than he wi-fi carrying one we booked tickets on. I do blame them for the ridiculously long wait for a repair man. By this time a realized that I would miss all of the four special tours I set up at the LoC. No sooner then the tire was fixed, but the jack slipped and punctured the transmission fluid rendering us, once more immobile.

In total, the 4 hour trip took some 8.5 hours. Perhaps I would have been better off walking.

Dear Media

Click to enlarge.

I realize that it's a lot of work for journalists to describe what is happening in the world, especially when it's so much easier to act as stenographers for politicians and corporations. The idea that the media is still calling this "a spill" two months into the crisis proves to me that they're reading talking points from BP.

BP has gone out of it's way to hide and obfuscate what's going on, both under the water and on the beaches. Why is it when a famous person is on trial, the media sue to be let into the courtroom; but when tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day (even by independent early estimates) are spewing into the Gulf, why is no one suing BP for accurate information---or access to beaches? I guess that information qualifies as a "protected Corporate secret." Besides, it's not like we need that data to make decisions or anything.

Other alternatives to "spill":

  • "a gusher"
  • "an underwater volcano"
  • "a fucking disaster"
  • "free market capitalism"
  • "what happens when you deregulate everything"
  • "Reaganomics at work"

Hey, maybe we can use the invisible hand of the marketplace to plug the hole!


Click to enlarge.

I guess I'm not real worried about the cost of the clean up to BP. At $40 million a day in profit, they can afford to employ many of the out-of-work people. Just using Tony Hayward's salary ($4.7 m/yr), BP could hire a couple hundred people for a year. Obviously, money alone won't fix the environmental problem (and it's unclear if anything will), but money goes a long way toward easing the economic burden.

Let's face it, unlike any other business, resource extraction is essentially giving a company the license to take something (oil) that either belongs to no one or belongs to everyone, and then sell it at an ungodly profit. No doubt, drilling for oil is expensive, and I believe that extractors should be able to make a profit on their risk. But beyond that, it should be heavily taxed. Again, such resources either belong to everyone or to no one, so it's ridiculous to say that it belongs to whoever grabs it (yes, I know that goes against established law). And given the importance of oil to our economy and the environmental damage that even "safe" extraction causes, those tax revenues could go to paying for things society really needs---like environmental protection or renewable technologies---rather than yet another house for Tony Hayward.

And, yes, kids, that is socialism.

Drawing Board

I did this one with a brush thinking that it would make things look more oily. Instead, it just made them more sloppy. Tony came out a lot less cartoony than intended, and much of the detail in panel 2 got splotchy and unclear. I really need to work on drawing/inking liquids.

Oh well, this was kind of a knock-off joke, so I can't get too worked up about it.

Et tu, Jobs? Take Two

Went back to the Apple store as suggested by the tech support operator I had called and the store staff told me that my 4 year old iBook didn't have the intel chip they were switching to at the time, and that it is my fault for not checking the box before getting a incompatible ipad (apparently asking the staff at the time of placing the order (since there was no box) about any difficulties I might have syncing does not count. PS the answer was "no" at the time). I then asked if I could use one of their computers to put the 3-4 GB of info on my USB that I really wanted to have available to make the ipad at least useful until I get a new computer (probably in September). They said no. Apple: perhaps less blanketing the city with advertising and more not blaming and screwing over loyal customers.

Et tu, Jobs?

Today I actually received the ipad I bought last week. I didn't mind the delay, or that they gave me the wrong model (I caught it before it become a big deal), or that no one in the store had any time to explain the features I had questions about, but I DO mind that it won't sync up with my computer. Apparently, my computer is so old (three years) that the OS can't even be upgraded. Really, Apple? Really?! No one thought to mention that when I was buying the ipad? So I'm suppose to get a new computer too?! Is there any end to your screwing over the people that support you?