Friday, May 31, 2002

Paul & Paul report from the field

An an analysis from the New York Times about Paul O'Neill and Bono (his real name is Paul, for anyone who didn't get the title) in regards to the government's refusal to actually help any foreign countries- other than, of course, ones with military weapons or huge reserves of petroleum, and how they have... slightly... different opinions on how money should be allocated in this country.

[T]he United States currently spends 0.11 percent of G.D.P. on foreign aid; Canada and major European countries are about three times as generous. The Bush administration's proposed "Millennium Fund" will increase our aid share, but only to 0.13 percent.

Maybe the easiest way to refute Mr. O'Neill is to recall last year's proposal by the World Health Organization, which wants to provide poor countries with such basic items as antibiotics and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. If the U.S. had backed the proposed program, which the W.H.O. estimated would save eight million lives each year, America's contribution would have been about $10 billion annually...

[O]pponents of the estate tax didn't even try to make a trickle-down argument, to assert that reducing taxes on wealthy heirs is good for all of us. Instead, they made an emotional appeal - they wanted us to feel the pain of those who pay the "death tax." And the sob stories worked; Congress brushed aside proposals to retain the tax, even proposals that would raise the exemption - the share of any estate that is free from tax - to $5 million.

Let's do the math here. An estate tax with an exemption of $5 million would affect only a handful of very wealthy families: in 1999 only 3,300 estates had a taxable value of more than $5 million. The average value of those estates was $16 million. If the excess over $5 million were taxed at pre-2001 rates, the average taxed family would be left with $10 million - which doesn't sound like hardship to me - and the government would collect $20 billion in revenue each year. But no; the whole tax must go.

So here are our priorities. Faced with a proposal that would save the lives of eight million people every year, many of them children, we balk at the cost. But when asked to give up revenue equal to twice that cost, in order to allow each of 3,300 lucky families to collect its full $16 million inheritance rather than a mere $10 million, we don't hesitate.



Thursday, May 30, 2002

Wow, how'd they score this guy for an endorsement?

Official Yasser Arafat Cheese Puffs. As always, shitting you not am I.


Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Making shopping safer for white folks everywhere

Salon has a great article up about the growing racism in the crystal-clean upper-class utopia that is the nation's growing cadre of shopping malls. And just to get this out in the open, I'll clarify my position on malls in general. Anyone else from northern New Jersey will confirm that the Bergen/Passaic County area has more shopping mall per square inch than any other area on the planet. I live in Teaneck, one of the many towns adjacent to the much larger city of Paramus. which has, in itself, five malls. Thus, Teaneck, Bogota, Bergenfield, and all the other towns wedged in between Paramus and the county's largest city of Hackensack have led college students like me to identify the location of where we live in the state to other people with the line "Go to the mall and look in the parking lot." Thus once again cementing the time-tested theory that New Jersey has no fucking culture whatsoever with, of course, the exception of Bruce.

So despite my state pride (give or take the eight months a year I'm not living in it) I love to point out any article that reminds me about the two hideously low points about the place: New Jersey is famous for malls. and racial profiling. We fucking invented the term, for Christ's sake. Points to anyone who remembers the infamous photo of Christie Whitman (then governor, now head of the EPA. the governor of New Jersey... that's right. But I digress) pausing for a photo op during a re-election bid. To show her "tough on crime" stance, she "helped" Jersey police with their job by allowing an officer to teach her how to frisk suspects. the 1996 photo of Whitman smiling as she searched an unknown black man facing a brick wall is largely credited as one of the main reasons she isn't vice-president right now.

Okay, went astray there for a moment. Anyway. As the article explains, a St. Louis mall is banning clothing obviously connected to black culture, and has gone as far as to kick out Nelly, a famous and recognized entertainer because his doo-rag might have "incited gang activity." Yes, the security staff at the mall is that old and white.

What makes this such a compelling read is that the article also reflects the repeated examples of this happening in the American consumer environment:

One such case is pending against Dick Clark's Restaurants Inc., alleging that the management of one restaurant, located in a Philadelphia mall, attempted to get rid of African-American clientele (whom management allegedly referred to as the "Norristown element") by firing black security guards, banning hip-hop music, raising drink prices, and enforcing a dress code -- no baseball caps, football jerseys or Timberland boots -- that prohibited fashions popular with local African-American youth.

Lawyers representing the fired security guards say that when they sent black and white customers into the restaurant, all of them dressed in apparel that violated the dress code, only the African-Americans were asked to leave. "We sent investigators in there, Caucasians, dressed in violation of the code, and nobody bothered them," attorney Robert Adshead told the Philadephia Inquirer. "One sat under the sign that said what you couldn't wear, and he was waited on the whole night."

As the article also proves, It's obvious in the attitudes of the mall spokeswhitepeople that they're trying to avoid the concept that is blatantly obvious to all of us: malls are made for people with money, and we live in a country where most of the money is in the hands of white people. Comedian Chris Rock broke ground with a frighteningly true joke that finally put the truth right out in the open: "towns have two malls- the new, big mall, and the mall that white people used to go to."

And he was absolutely right. My area has an equal proportion of blacks and whites. I have never gone to one of the "main" malls in Jersey (Short Hills, Willowbrook, or the Garden State Plaza) and seen a single black person in half the stores. No black people in Abercrombie and Fitch, none at Old Navy, none at The Sharper Image- the store that competes with Brookstone in catering to white people who admit to having no idea what to do with their extra money. And the Garden State Plaza now has two Sharper Images. That's right, two of the same fucking store at opposite ends of the mall. You know something else black people don't do? Stupid shit like that. My college fund to anyone who can prove to me anyone other than a white guy brainstormed the idea of putting two identical stores in the same mall just in case the consumers are too tired to walk that far.

Like all aspects of culture and entertainment, specialization for minorities is a "theme." White people shop anywhere: all the trendy clothing stores simple pull the white consumers in. Black people have a fashion ideal, which is then captured, specialized, and marketed by white people, for white people. Then they make sure the store has the word "Urban" somewhere in the title, and presto- "black" culture for white people.

But since the argument that a private company (the mall) has the right to discriminate against anyone they want fell flat (do to the pesky legal fact that they actually can't,) the pro-get-black-people-put-of-shopping-centers-for-white-people crowd moves to the next expected step: talking out of the side of their ass.

Defenders of dress codes like to give the impression that their codes are based on science. Many, like the Union Station Mall, claim that their profiles of potential gang members come straight from local law enforcement and the FBI. But if there are such profiles, the FBI is not aware of it.

Indeed. Maybe it's because there's no such thing as a "scientific" example of gang clothing. If the local gang wore red, would all red be banned from the mall? Ridiculous. In any culture, groups attempting to be popular among one another wear clothing that they identify as cool or popular. and what makes the clothing popular? The stores in the malls, be it Abercrombie & Fitch, Hot Topic, or Urban anything. English majors, help me out here: is that classified as "irony" or "just plain sad?"


Tuesday, May 28, 2002

More on Moore (yeah, that never gets old...)

Story about Michael Moore's Cannes coup from the man himself. No explanation about the sunglasses, though.


Monday, May 27, 2002

Dance, white man, dance

Michael Moore kicks ass at Cannes. And to top it off, Bowling for Columbine has officially been picked up by United Artists for U.S. release. Now let's all hope they have the balls to actually release the damn film somewhere.

How did Mike do it? Evidence shows: The Matrix.

(AP Photo of Mr. Moore, seen here with Bianca Jagger and Calvin Klein. We're not kidding.)

 posted by August J. Pollak at 9:10 PM


TiVo spam

Since the day I started hearing about the "features" of the TiVo recorder (the demographic spying, the shady deals with advertising companies, the lack of output features, and of course, the monthly fee, which never seems to be mentioned in the ads,) I have rarely been overly enthusiastic about the idea of getting one.

Well, TiVo decided to add another reason to the "never, ever buy me" list: a new "sponsorship feature" automatically records certain programs, ads and other promotional material.

[V]iewers in the UK were surprised this week to find that the second episode of the little-known BBC sitcom "Dossa and Joe" had been recorded without their knowledge and added to the system's main menu screen.

They were even more surprised to find that they won't be allowed to delete the programme for one week, and that more sponsored recordings are on the way.

TiVo defended the new "Advanced Content" feature, insisting that it doesn't adversely affect a viewer's usage of the system. Sponsored programmes are recorded on a reserved section of the hard disk, and only if the viewer isn't watching or recording something else.


Sunday, May 26, 2002

The Lighter Side of... oh fuck it. This sucks.

Figured I should post this before eight or nine hundred of your forward the story to me: Mad Magazine cartoonist Dave Berg is dead at 81.

I'm upset because it's another notch in the end of a great era... as a lot of people mentioned before, Mad Magazine hasn't exactly maintained the height of relevance is held thirty years ago. I look at old copies from my attic and think that, on a respective scale, they're better than anything they published in the last ten or fifteen years- which is why two years ago, after a membership that due to my father's interest in the magazine literally spanned longer than my own life, I decided not to renew my subscription.

With the exception of a few that I won't specifically name because I know I'll miss a few like I always do... okay, it includes Sergio Aragones, Duck Edwing, and the brilliant Peter Kuper, Mad Magazine doesn't really have a top-notch staff anymore. I'm aware that coming from an artist who's never been offered a job in the field, attacking professional artists is sort of pretentious, but as I've stated before, a lifetime of reading comics makes me incapable of pretending not to believe this: an assload of cartoonists have jobs that they don't deserve, many of which have had a job too long, many of which are making money that should go to people like... well, me.

Dave Berg was sort of an exception to that rule. Anyone who read a recent issue of Mad would realize instantly that, among the fart jokes and pointless jabs at politicians that weren't original when the writers stole them from Leno, Dave Berg wasn't exactly in touch with the PoMo demographic. He was a 50's cartoonist who, even though he threw in hip modern references, still only knew about drawing a 50's cartoon. Unlike the newspaper cartoonists who suffer this ill, however, Berg worked for a once-iconic magazine. As such, he actually did represent a bygone era. It actually didremind readers of the old Mad Magazine what the thing used to be like.

In forty short years, Mad Magazine went from a 10-cent magazine that was reviled by politicians and parents alike and hailed for it's anti-mainstream commentary of politics and consumer culture to an ad-filled, merchandise-endorsing, full-color glossy piece of irrelevant crap that just happens to now be owned by the largest single consumer culture-producing industry on the planet. And now they won't even have guys like Dave Berg around to remind them of what they used to stand for.

But what do I know, I'm just some crotchety 21-year-old geezer who wishes Mad was still the way it was back in the good old days. Who cares that I wasn't born yet? Right now Mad Magazine doesn't seem to care that we're all actually alive.


Saturday, May 25, 2002

Well, that's interesting

It's funny how things like this work out. A few days ago the news hit the airwaves, or netwaves. whatever. about how the new copy protections on music CDs can be disabled by drawing on the CD with a Sharpee.

Here's where it gets funny. You'll notice that the link to that story is on Yahoo, via the Reuters news service. So I'm waiting to see if huge organizations like these get any legal complications like all the little guys who post software hacks get. You see, according to this article here, posting a story about how copy protection can be cracked is technically a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, known interchangeably as "The DMCA" and "The Hands-Down Worst Law Bill Clinton Ever Signed."

Under the 1998 law's sections 1201.2(a) and (c), it's illegal to "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that is primarily designed to circumvent a copy protection. That's in part (a), and Reuters and its customers might be able to argue that the story wasn't "primarily" designed for that purpose.

But Reuters would have a lot of trouble getting around 1201.2(c). It outlaws the manufacture, etc., etc., of any "marketed" product or service that allows users to circumvent copy protections.

There's no question that Reuters marketed the story. Selling stories to its customers is the way it makes money, and several copyright lawyers suggest the "bad intent" language of those sections can easily apply to news stories. Reuters would have to be massively na´ve to believe that hundreds of music-sharing fans around the wouldn't test the magic marker technique on Sony CDs as soon as they read the story.

So, in other words, I guess I'm now in legal troubles for posting an article about how an article about an article is in violation of the most convoluted and most giant-media-conglomerate-friendly piece of legislation ever created by man. In other words, mentioning this can get one in legal trouble, but it can't actually be reported by any news service if that happens because technically they would have to explain exactly what it is you're in legal trouble for. which is exactly that. My head hurts. I have to lie down now.


Friday, May 24, 2002

Pouring it on a bit thick, are we

Media Whores Online points out that today is the one-year anniversary of Jim Jeffords defecting from the Republican Party, thus turning control of the Senate over to the Democrats. And I would take a mile guess that they're happy about it, what with calling it Jim Jeffords Day and suggesting that one way to celebrate it, among others is to "adopt a pet from the Humane Society and name him or her Jim Jeffords."

I'm just pointing out that I'm not actually endorsing the joy of Jeffords' actions (at least not to the level of the unabashedly Clinton-adoring MWO,) merely that any self-imposed holiday that dictates adopting a puppy is fine with me... even if you're supposed to name it after Vermont politicians. There have, for the record, been weirder celebrations in my life.

Update: Unfortunately, the day has passed and the page is no longer there, so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.


Thursday, May 23, 2002

I'm going to hell for this post.

Well, that's nice. I'm glad they haven't lost her again. It would be a shame if she didn't remain found for at least a little while.

Up next: General Fransicso Franco is still dead.


Wednesday, May 22, 2002

This month's World's Stupidest IdeaT

Sorry if I missed the initial bandwagon on this, but I've got to register my formal complaints about the latest desire spreading around the country about giving guns to airplane pilots. Now, despite just about everyone in the country saying it's a bad idea, including the White House, they still demand them. And, given the success of the NRA lobbying in congress, odds are this latest attempt to override the government is most likely going to have a very good chance at succeeding. So here's a few reasons why we should all be very, very afraid:

The gun advocates are liars, and obscene liars at that.

Possibly the most disgusting comment to ever come out of the NRA's mouthpieces is the recent "September 11th could have been prevented if pilots had guns." Not only is this a horrific exploitation of thousands of innocent lives to promote an increase in membership dues, it's spouted simply because it's an idea that can never be proven.

But ask yourself this: each plane had four or five hijackers. Could a frantic pilot clip all of them? What if one of the terrorists was in the cockpit with the box cutter to his throat before he could even get out of his seat? What about the belief that the terrorists produced a box which they claimed was a bomb. would the gun help that then? All of this, of course, is speculation to the most ridiculous of notions- that using a gun to try and kill someone would dissuade them from performing a suicide mission.

It's blatantly dangerous, and no research has been done to dissuade the notion.

The entire movement to arm the pilots has been supported by petitions and flowing speeches about safety. Yet little, if any, research, has been spread in the mainstream media (if it even exists) about the safety and outcome of the most obvious "what if" situations. What if the terrorist gains control of the gun? What if a passenger gains control of the gun? Likewise, what if a drunk or hysterical passenger decides that every dark-skinned person on the airplane is a terrorist? What if a stray bullet hits a passenger? What if a stray bullet hits the window? An overhead oxygen tank? The co-pilot?

The result of any of those situations ranges from the physically worst (one to all passengers will die) to the financially worst (exactly how much would you sue a billion-dollar airline for if their pilot put a bullet into your four-year old?

The proliferation of handguns in society show the same change in attitude that things like SUVs have shown: people can learn to use them responsibly, but even with training, a large percentage are unable to handle something as dangerous as a gun- and some of them are going to prove it the hard way. If ten thousand pilots are given guns, several thousand of them are not going to be properly able to exert the utmost responsibility of handling them. and one of them is going to over react and cause a lot of problems. This isn't a statement on guns, it's a statement on human nature. Technology has allowed the human race to cheat Darwin every now and then.

The cost-risk balance is unfeasible.

Manned airplane flight in this country has existed for 99 years. Armed airline hijacking is at least several decades old. Today, airplane flights number thousands daily. September 11 was not an addition to an average: it was an outlier- an anomaly. But even with four plane hijacks in one day factored into the average, the ratio of plane flights overtaken by terrorist hijackers to place flights that land safely with no threat since the modern inception of hijacking is a fraction so small I doubt any records could calculate it accurately. That said, how is it financially feasible to arm, train, and legally secure (both through licensing and lawsuit insurance should previously mentioned screw-ups occur) over ten thousand people for the preparation of, statistically, an incident less likely to occur than being struck by lightning as a shark attacks you on the way to claiming your winning lottery ticket?

And before it starts, the "it's worth it" argument is irrelevant here. Saying that the cost to taxpayers is worth it because it might prevent another 9/11 is as weak as saying that the cost to businesses of banning all airplanes is worth it. And with the mention of taxpayers, we come to the next point:

Somehow, we are going to pay for all of it.

Just like the $5 surcharge on all plane tickets now, at least part of the funding for arming pilots will come from taxpayers and consumers. If you don't believe me, remember that the lead proponent of the arming is (go fig) the National Rifle Association, who have consistently used the second amendment as a backbone for arguments that taxpayers and federal funding should aid activities related to the bearing of arms.

In addition, pilot unions would mention the grave injustice that already occurs- that a significant portion of pilots make less than $15,000 a year, and that it would be ludicrous to consider that they have to pay for their training and equipment costs.


Tuesday, May 21, 2002

On what the president might have known before 9/11

Well, I'll be the first to admit the grand sceme of this is well over my head, espcecially since the entire Unocal involvement was born before I was (which as of the last post you can pinpoint the approximate time, har har.)

So like a lot of others have done, I direct you to Tom, who sums it up as best as possible.

The part I agree with most is about how the blame will immediately be shifted towards a political level, and with that I advise, nay, demand (what?) that you all read this post at Get Donkey! about how once again the Republican party has decided to pre-emptively attack the Democrats for accusing the Bush administration of foot-dragging on 9/11. The problem, like always, is that no one's really done that yet... but little inconveniences like making up facts never stopped them before.


Monday, May 20, 2002

The Big 2-1

Well, here it is. I'm now 21. And as is the style of my birthday, I provide you the eloquent words of Weird Al Yankovic, whose prolific verse generated the most poignant birthday elegy of our time:

Well, it's time to celebrate your birthday, it happens every year
We'll eat a lot of broccoli and drink a lot of beer
You should be good and happy that there's something you can eat
Since a million people every day are starving in the street

Your daddy's in the gutter with the wretched and the poor
Your mama's in the kitchen with a can of Cycle Four
There's garbage in the water
There's poison in the sky
I guess it won't be long before we're all gonna die

Well, what's the matter little friend, you think this party is the pits
Enjoy it while you can, we'll soon be blown to bits
The monkeys in the pentagon are gonna cook our goose
Their finger's on the button, all they need is an excuse

It doesn't take a military genius to see
We'll all be crispy critters after World War III
There's nowhere you can run to, nowhere you can hide
When they drop the big one, we all get fried

(Come on boys and girls, sing along, ok?)

Well there's a punk in the alley and he's looking for a fight
There's an Arab on the corner buying everything in sight
There's a mother in the ghetto with another mouth to feed
Seems that everywhere you look today there's misery and greed

I guess you know the Earth is gonna crash into the sun
But that's no reason why we shouldn't have a little fun
So if you think it's scary, if it's more than you can take
Just blow out the candles and have a piece of cake

So have a happy one to anyone else born on the 20th. I'm going to go eat cake and not think about how screwed up the world is for a day. Then I go find friends and buy them lots of alcohol, because I'm happy (really) and because I can.


Sunday, May 19, 2002

Sins of the mothers

Reader Josh Clark has alerted me to the latest attempt by affiliates of the Christian religion to make itself look inclusive and supportive of all people in all walks of life. Apparently, the head Pastor of a private Christian school has expelled a 5-year old student after discovering her mother was a stripper. "If you choose to do the wrong thing willfully, then God's word instructs me as to what my responsibility is," said the pastor, just seconds before unexpectedly melting like the guy with the glasses in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As the article explains, the mother apparently was instructed to "follow the ideals of the school" in her child's application to the school, which of course means that any of the following is also grounds for expulsion: having a gay relative without setting them on fire, fornication involving physical pleasure, listening to the new Moby album, and telling her daughter that she can bea firewoman if she really wants to. I'm sure there's a couple of other ungodly activites we can think of that technically sends you straight to hell as well, but frankly, it's not as condescending to the asshole with a collar that in no way is going to be near the Right Hand of anyone when he gets hit by a truck.

So, Ma'am, here's the deal. You can make even more money than stripping by creepy old men (half of whom, ironically, are most likely preists who are trying to prove to the Mon Seniors that "they really like pubic hair, too! Really!") by suing the school. But before people start the "she signed a contract" speech, here's the catch: you're going to sue them for discrimination. And that contract is going to be YOUR evidence, not theirs.

How does that work, you ask? Simple: the article claims you were "turned in" by another parent. That means at least one of two things: Another parent participated in the act of entering a house of ill repute, and even if they didn't, by turning you in they violated the Ten Commandments by not loving their neighbor. What that means is that another parent has violated the ideals of your child's school, and yet their little bible-whipped brat still has their ass in their seat.

Go get a lawyer, and sue the hell out of the school, and the glowing white horse they crusaded in on. If you think they're upset that you show your tits, imagine how they'll feel after you fuck them up the ass.



Friday, May 17, 2002

Why Conservative columnists shouldn't watch Star Wars after smoking lage amounts of crack

From The Weekly Standard, the same paper that provided us the laughable Larry Miller Middle East essay: an analysis of how Star Wars reflects a reverse of true conservative politics and how Darth Vader is actually a hero for the neo-conservative right wing.

I'm not kidding.

The [Galactic] Senate moves so slowly that it is powerless to stop aggression between member states. In "The Phantom Menace" a supra-planetary alliance, the Trade Federation (think of it as OPEC to the Galactic Republic's United Nations), invades a planet and all the Senate can agree to do is call for an investigation.

Like the United Nations, the Republic has no armed forces of its own, but instead relies on a group of warriors, the Jedi knights, to "keep the peace..."

...[T]he most compelling evidence that the Empire isn't evil comes in "The Empire Strikes Back" when Darth Vader is battling Luke Skywalker. After an exhausting fight, Vader is poised to finish Luke off, but he stays his hand. He tries to convert Luke to the Dark Side with this simple plea: "There is no escape. Don't make me destroy you. . . . Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy." It is here we find the real controlling impulse for the Dark Side and the Empire. The Empire doesn't want slaves or destruction or "evil." It wants order.

None of which is to say that the Empire isn't sometimes brutal. In Episode IV, Imperial stormtroopers kill Luke's aunt and uncle and Grand Moff Tarkin orders the destruction of an entire planet, Alderaan. But viewed in context, these acts are less brutal than they initially appear. Poor Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen reach a grisly end, but only after they aid the rebellion by hiding Luke and harboring two fugitive droids. They aren't given due process, but they are traitors.

Jesus. It goes on. Read it and weep.


Thursday, May 16, 2002

Or as Bush would say, I hit the Trifecta

Well, I'm glad the USA Patriot Let's RollT act is fully working to prevent all those evil terrorists from destroying us. Unfortunately, here's three different news stories about how we as a people can triumph over the obstacles of security and still manage to endanger the country from within.

To start, Ford accounced this morning that 13,000 customers just had their credit information stolen. A customer databse hack allowed unknown users to gather, essentially, all the information on 13,000 Ford buyers needed to completely replicate their identity:

In short, the thieves in one fell swoop obtained everything they needed to assume a person's identity and open a credit card or bank account in his or her name. Experts say the thieves could also establish telephone or utility service in the person's name, obtain a loan, or use the information to obtain government documents or even government benefits.

Not to be outdone yet again by those stupid Americanos, Mexico pulled in an unprecidented strong showing in the "Oh Shit" department today as robbers hijacked a truck containing 20,000 pounds of cyanide. Aside from terrorism fears, authorities are concerned that the robbers may choose to dump the cargo, thus contaminating the ground where they spill it. That, of course, and the fact that a spoonful of the stuff can kill you in a few minutes, so you know what? Fuck the lawn.

Finally, existing security is now rendered useless, thanks to the true experts in excessive unnecessary technology, the Japanese. A professor at Yokohama University has recently discovered that biometric fingerprint scanners can be fooled using gelatin found in Gummi Bears. The biometric readers, considered secondary only to retina scanners and German Shepards trained to ideintify Terminators as the most secure security devices in the world, can now be fooled about 8 out of 10 times using a computer and less than $10 worth of Jello mix.

You know, folks, I'm seeing Star Wars tomorrow, and a big complaint everyone has about the newer movies is the whole deal about how all the technology in the prequels looks cooler and more advanced than in the original series. I think shit like this is the answer. We made all this cool stuff and then it all went to hell beause we found ways to destroy them using Jello and SUV lease agreements.


Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Oh sweet merciful Christ yes

Bruce Springsteen for Senate. I shit you all not.

(Thanks to my former roomate Chris)


Tuesday, May 14, 2002

On Lebanon and late night

To start, an update on the heating-up-of-screwdriver-and-jamming-into-eye thing: it's official. Jimmy Kimmel will take over ABC's late night talk show slot with a new show, meaning the Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect is cancelled. So between getting a late-night show, becoming the excuse for getting rid of Maher, and actually having a goddamn Emmy, I think it's safe to say that Jimmy Kimmel is now somewhat significant proof that there is no God.

To be honest, I rarely watched PI, not out of discontent for the concept or the host, and certainly not because of some form of outrage "The American People" were supposed to have with him over his infamous post-9/11 remark. I honestly didn't watch it because it wasn't living up to it's actual potential.

Tom did a strip a while ago about this, and I agreed: Maher filled the show with empty-headed actors and token political pundits who knew what they were talking about and got little time to express it. The outcome of every show soon became massive dialogue on Free Republic an hour later about how the liberal media didn't give this episode's right-winger equal press time.

Basically, Maher's suffering the same fate as Dennis Miller- actual legitimate intelligence hindered by the fact that they have to format it for television. in Maher's case, pointless irrelevant celebrities bantering, in Miller's, instinctively making sure every fifth word he says has four letters to keep the audience awake.

Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 8

And with that, I segue to the second little bit of fun for today. I've noticed that I've drawn a lot of hits recently through searches for Dennis Miller's rant on the Mideast. So, here's the deal: it turns out someone posted on a right-wing message board the text of a column written by Larry Miller of the Weekly Standard.

I'm sort of glad for the confusion, because even by Dennis Miller's standards, I couldn't believe he would say or write something as obnoxious, racist, and unfunny as this.

In a few paragraphs, "humorist" Miller attempts, and succeeds, at emptying every single anti-Arab stereotype about the Middle East with gaping self-satisfaction. He makes sure to include the notions that all Arabs hate Israel, Palestinians aren't an actual people, and that Arabs are a backwards people.

Let's not forget the blatant racism as well. Miller points out, "Just reverse the numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not. Or marshalling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab state into the sea? Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at the murder of innocents? Impossible."

Gosh, how can you argue with logic like that? If suddenly the proportions of oppressed, abused and exiled people were reversed with those who have benefited from countless billions in international aid for the last fifty years, would they decided suddenly to feel anger towards the unfairness of their privilege and kill themselves in an effort to damage those who they feel they are oppressing. let me know when you come up with a point, Larry.

Of course, I jest. You see, I'm just pointing out how Miller has decided to use the metaphor for the culture of the two peoples but not the history. essentially, he's saying that even if the Jews went through what the Palestinians went through and vice-versa, the Jew would still never be suicide bombers. Wow, that's still hideously racist. And to think you got in that and a light-hearted remark about how hard it is to say those pesky Arabs' names. You must be tired from being a genius all day, Larry.

The reason I even point people to this article is because it points out the countless hypocrisies in the Middle East debate. Palestine doesn't exist, and in fact just this week Israel voted on this. But the Arabs denying the right for Israel to exist is horrendous. Huh?

Let's try to explain this using a combination of what I said earlier and what Ted Rall said a few weeks ago: no nation has the "right to exist" any more than a nation has a right to "say they exist." Palestinians exist as a people because there are several million people who say they are Palestinians. Jews exist as a people because there are several million people who say they are Jews. Neither has a right to exist. Israel just exists because they can back the claim up militarily. Historical claim is pointless. The American Indians can vouch for this. They got run over by a bunch of people who told them their god told them the land was all theirs. And their god happened to have guns.

Less than a hundred years before the creation of Israel, half the United States seceded from the Union, claiming their right to form their own country. The amount of time we took to debate whether or not the Confederacy had "the right to exist" was only slightly less than how long we debated whether or not the brown people who lived here before us were culturally refined enough to co-exist peacefully with the chosen folk such as ourselves. Geography, will of the people, cultural dynamic- this was all pointless in the debate. Several million people called themselves Confederates, and unfortunately for them they didn't have a foreign nation giving them several billion dollars a year to brag about how they had the right to exist. Four years later, the Confederacy was history. Just a bunch of people who wave flags and then have the gall to tell the "A-Rabs" that they should get over losing their land.

Which leads to my other point: this bullshit argument that "talks cannot be made about statehood until terrorism ends." In other words, like us or we'll beat it out of you.

Earth to Sharon: it's not going to work. First you have to give the Palestinians a state. Then you have to give them the opportunity to build better schools, running water and power, an industrial infrastructure, and an increase quality of life. This is going to take, if you're lucky, about a hundred years.

All the time this happens, you're still going to get terrorist attacks. People who just won't give up and want to hold on to the fleeting ideals of their past stupid visions. The same way all the people here wave their Confederate flags. And beat a gay man or a black man to death every now and then. The same way neo-Nazi punks stroll the streets in Germany. It's always going to be there. You can only slow down the flow by giving people a more sufficient reason to live full, happy, non-violent lives.

So maybe all the cabinet members who just voted to refuse Palestine a right to exist should keep that in mind: the formation of a Palestinian state is not going to be the end to terrorist attacks. The formation of a Palestinian state is the first step you have to take towards stopping them.



Monday, May 13, 2002

Everything's okie-dokey under Bush's watch!

From Jonathan Chait in The New Republic:

...[N]ewspapers reported that this year's deficit is estimated to be about $100 billion--twice as large as previous forecasts had suggested. President George W. Bush immediately offered a multilayered defense packed with jaw-dropping mendacity. First came denial. "Of course, it's all speculative to begin with," he told reporters. "I don't know the models that they guessed [sic], but it's guesswork thus far." (Actually, this year's revenue forecast, which is based on tax returns that have already come in, is fairly reliable. What's unreliable are the ten-year budget forecasts, which Bush was only too happy to treat as money in the bank while selling his tax cut last year.)

Next Bush offered up what has in recent months become his all-purpose escape clause: "I want to remind you what I told the American people, that if I'm the president--when I was campaigning, if I were to become the president, we would have deficits only in the case of war, a recession, or a national emergency." Bush, somewhat morbidly, plays this line for laughs in his speeches, chuckling, "Never did I realize we'd get the trifecta." But this escape clause is not only a falsehood; it's actually a revision of a previous falsehood, which itself was consciously designed to cover up the fact that the budget is in far worse shape than Bush lets on.

Not to mention, of course, it's techincally joking about how funny it is that the country's in the crapper because a few thousand people died and we decided to respond by killing a few thousand more. Yeah, George... real funny.


Sunday, May 12, 2002

Talk about trying to cover your ass.

In an update to the infamous story mentioned before on this site (as well as every news station in the country, usually in a segment right after the weather but before the sports roundup) about the vice-principal who took it upon herself to force female students to show what type of underwear they were wearing at a school dance, the suspended administrator in question is now hitting the news interviews to perform personal damage control:

Wilson said she had been concerned because dances at Rancho Bernardo, in suburban San Diego, had become raunchier and girls with short skirts and thong panties were often left exposing themselves during so-called "freak" dances.

"I think that parents don't realize what school dances are like now," she said. "I think (they would) if they could see inside a dark gymnasium with 750 students simulating sex."

Wilson said her efforts to control the "freak" dancing in the dark, frantic environment of a school dance had been unsuccessful in the past, so she turned to making sure that the girls at least were not getting exposed.

"That's really what I wanted," she said. "If they were going to 'freak,' at least their bottoms were going to be covered. 'Freak' dancing is not a fun thing to watch all night. I've had employees who have been 'freaked' upon."

I'm sure the merits of this vice-principal's ideal can be analyzed and debated to an infinite end, but I think for the sake of expedience I can express my comments on her explanation as simply as possible.

Horse shit.

Let's pretend, just for a moment, that Mrs. Wilson is not, as most household pets could tell you, talking out of her ass. This would mean that the female students of Rancho Bernardo High, in their pre-college na´vetÚ, failed to ever think that the skimpy sexy underwear they specifically picked out to wear at the dance that night might be exposed. It would also mean, of course, that Wilson was scared because obviously the school would not take the steps to stop people from being harassed by "freak" dancing who didn't want to.

Moreover, Wilson needs to be commended for her sole ability to realize that accidental exposure on the dance floor would be embarrassing for the girls. I mean, imagine if a girl who didn't actually want to have her body exposed, but somehow accidentally wore underwear specifically designed to allow one to do just that, and somehow in the process of acting on her own free will and chose on her own to dance in a way that might, on a fractional probably, expose herself. and it actually happened? Who could have prepared for that? And what could those poor uneducated girls have done? Imagine if Mrs. Wilson hadn't been there to tell them "Hey! You're exposing yourself! Maybe you should stop doing that, because obviously you weren't predicting that might happen! And if you didn't want it to happen, there's no way you could stop dancing and adjust your skirt!" I mean, they could still be there with their butts exposed right now.

Let's also remember, as the earlier stores reported, that allegedly overweight girls weren't inspected. obviously Mrs. Wilson realized that all the overweight students had special knowledge in advance that "freak" dancing might occur, and as a result undoubtedly wore the correct "non-revealing" underwear, lest the said freaking accidentally reveal their nether regions.

My, this just gets more and more easy to believe, doesn't it? I certainly never could imagine how someone could just think up some complex theory like this woman is trying to cover her ass after being called on having draconian moral policies and even under good intentions violated the personal privacy of dozens. What was I thinking?


Saturday, May 11, 2002

Another notch added to the dumbing down of America

Bill Griffith once did a great Zippy strip lord knows how many years ago that I consider one of the greatest statements about how to measure human evolution. The strip was a quote from an actual episode of Jeopardy! in which Alex Trebec told the contestant "This was considered Van Gogh's greatest work" to which the contestant replied "who was Rembrandt?" A character in the comic proceeded to walk over to a wall and mark down a line on a giant chart labeled "The Dumbing Down of America."

Hence, any time I see somethign like this, I consider it an addition to that infamous chart. Case in point, I woke up this morning to the wonderful sound of Fox News for the first time in eight months. (NYU's Campus Cable doesn't get Fox News) And, lo and behold, the top story of the morning was about Fox's upcoming contest show that was basically like The Bachelor except the winner got to become a Playboy Plamate. I'm not making this up.

So, with that rotting cancer on my intelligence already fresh in my mind, I went o go through this morning's internet-provided tidbits of interest (note to all: I am now condemned to rural New Jersey 56K access, which, to quote the bard... sucks ass) and came across this story from my good friends and compatriots at Get Donkey!. The Burros pointed me to a petition somone started to protest the next "Lord of the Rings" Movie.

Apparently, he's angry that they are naming it "The Two Towers," because it's an obvious attempt to capitalize on the attack on the World Trade Center.

Right before my brain died, I failed at a hearty attempt to contemplate how someone born and raised in this country could ever be so goddamned stupid.


Thursday, May 09, 2002

This is where the latest rant on the Middle East was going to be, but I apologize profusely and declare that you must wait a little while longer.

I have just finished said 1,500-word final paper on Deweyan Pragmatist Democratic... something-or-other, my bloodstream is now filled with an illegal amount of Diet Coke, McDonalds, and blue Pixy Stix, At 2:00 PM tomorrow I'm required to have 8 months of schoolwork, books, and everyting else in my room packed neatly in boxes on my bed for my checkout inspection, and then I get to take the bus home to Teaneck, grab my car, come back and pick it all up before they change the locks on me. And yes, I'm being overly dramatic. But I'm also cranky from writing the worst paper I have ever written in my life. That, and twelve hours from now I will go from stylish lovely-viewing 14th floor Village apartment life to suburban summer with no job prospects and 56K dial-up modem service. My home ISP cackles maniacally and taunts me as I mention it... chills.

But, on the plus side, I get to see my cat.

So check back later, hopefully sometime soon I will have said angry rant about said whatever I saw on CNN that morning. As long as the internet's working back home, that is.


Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Yes, I know

A brief update on my earlier post about the cartoonist industry: yes, I love Bloom County. I just forgot to mention Berke Breathed in the list. As well as all the other good cartoonists you are writing to tell me I forgot to mention.

Please stop. I'm trying to write a term paper here.

(If any of you out there, however, can give me 1,500 words on the importance of Dewey's pragmatist theory on democracy, go right ahead. But something tells me most of you want to talk about Sunday funnies. Lord knows I'd rather.)


Tuesday, May 07, 2002

I have just been informed that ABC is apparently interested in dumping Bill Maher and "Politically Incorrect" for a chance to get "The Man Show" host Jimmy Kimmel his own nework television show.

Excuse me, I have to go heat up a screwdriver and lunge it into my eye.


And now, August J. Pollak alienates himself from the cartoon industry and deprives himself of any future chance of work.

The coincidence, to start, is that I'm writing this after coming back from the copy center with the first batch of this year's comics to once again ship out as submission packages to the major cartoon syndicates. So I go through the news links and come across this article about how it's getting harder and harder for young cartoonists to get started in the industry because of the alleged "lasting appeal" of older cartoons. To quote the article:

Some pop culture experts and cartoonists warn that the comic strip is a dying art form because the antiquated ones - like Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Peanuts, Dick Tracy and Hagar the Horrible - are given most of the space on newspaper pages.

So here's where I lose all chances of becoming friends with all the cartoonists I grew up loving: I think that's pretty much the spot-on truth.

As far as professionals, my favorite cartoonists are mostly the ones who are associated with more independent (and usually political) thought. I love Salon because it hosts probably four of the best cartoonists working today: Tom Tomorrow, Carol Lay, Keith Knight, and Reuben Bolling. Tom and Reuben also crossover to the cartoonists I read in the Village Voice, along with the brilliant Ward Sutton and the brilliant, but the way James Bond villains are brilliant, Ted Rall.

So on the whole, most of my favorites are guys who, even if syndicated, aren't syndicated in the mainstream (translated: 1,200 papers across the nation, plush toys, etc.) And don't get me wrong, I have no objections to merchandising: I want to one day see R.C. dolls just as much as I'd love to have a 16" plush Sparky the Wonder Penguin (or a plush Ted Rall guy- but only with the pointy angry teeth.) But what I mean is that most of the well-known comics are the ones that are basically made for nothing but merchandise, and even if they weren't originally, they've been around so long the only thing original left out of them is new toys.

I loved Garfield as a kid. I think Jim Davis is a talented artist. Unfortunately, I can't confirm it anymore because Davis hasn't drawn his own goddamn comic strip in years. Every now and then, he gets a good gag, but Christ- 35 years is too long for the premise. And Davis isn't helping. I remember him saying in an interview "I try to keep the ideas simple because I know I have an international audience. I can't use anything topical." That's the part of the interview where I stat banging my head on the desk. The only thing I think that could be more insulting to artistic integrity is when Scott Adams brags about how simple he draws Dilbert because it makes the editors happy when it's time to compress all the comics to make room for one more auto show ad.

Don't think I'm attacking simplicity, however: it can work if you keep fresh ideas. Bill Amend, the creator of Foxtrot, is my personal hero in terms of character action because he uses the most simplistic style of cartoon drawing and yet everything is perfectly detailed. He draws someone golfing, and they have the proper grip. He has accurate detail in Star Wars caricatures. And it works, because. get this. he picks topical subjects and makes engaging storylines out of them.

In terms of career length, there is only one person who ever managed to keep a strip fresh and engaging after over 30 years of drawing it, and yes- of course I couldn't actually look like a free-thinking aspiring political cartoonist without actually mentioning Gary Trudeau, could I. But still, look at what he did to keep that work alive: he continues to at least pencil the strip himself, he uses a subject that can never run out of steam or premise, he fought- literally, in contract negotiations- to allow all the artwork he could cram into a page, and in the 1980's when he though he was running out of steam- he stopped drawing the strip for a year.

Only three cartoonists have ever stopped the way whatever power up high intended them to: Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, and Charles Schultz. Larson and Watterson actually had the balls to (gasp) quite while they were ahead, and Schultz. no intent to mock the dead, but I can't deny or hide the feeling I have that dying on the day your final strip runs is a poetic work that no one can recreate. There's a word for people like Charles Schultz, it's called "immortal."

With the exception of a select few- Doonesbury, FoxTrot, Zippy the Pinhead, Mutts, and of course The Boondocks, which is already getting its name plate laminated for the bequeathing of the "Most Prolific and Notable Political Strip" the instant Trudeau calls it quits- there really isn't much on the comics page that makes it worth reading. I'm sorry if I sound like a pretentious young punk, but frankly I'd rather have these thoughts out in the open before I'm actually a professional than have to say them when I'm (god willing) actually making money to do this and look even more like one. Just because I'm a cartoonist and I'm supposed to respect my superiors doesn't mean I can control the feeling I get when I read through four pages of Sunday funnies and realize that maybe two strips made me laugh.

The internet is proving two things at the same time: only one out of every thirty or so cartoonists are actually good, and even among those there are countless who deserve the space a lot of the elder cartoonists are now taking for granted.

And I'm not trying to sound like I'm the expert on this. I think I'm one of the 29 who suck. This is the third year I've sent out submission packages, and I know the reason why I'm still sending them and not working for someone already. The issues with my artwork are something I take time to try and improve. The comments that I'm too wordy or that my strip isn't the right size for a newspaper I ignore. I'm happy for every fan I have, but I really don't want to change for syndicates because they think other people will like me more. We've just seen that a lot of the mainstream comic strip fans don't even care if you're living or dead. After all, they can just keep rerunning your comics.


All the better to serve my point... right.

I feel I should humbly print this observant e-mail from reader Alfredo Louro:

John, I appreciate your point about Stephen Hawking. Bear in mind, though, that one important reason why Prof. Hawking is not eligible to be President of the United States is that he's British.

Oh, stop saying you were going to tell me that too. You all didn't know either.


Monday, May 06, 2002

Update... or in this case, a patch?

Sigh. Video game humor. Anyhow, Salon just printed a very good article about the federal judge ruling on video games and free speech I mentioned a few days ago. Go. Read and be further angered.


Sunday, May 05, 2002

Great. The French are making us look lazy

Well, that was one of my shortest self-imposed claims of exile ever. Told ya this would happen. So here's the rant:

I wanted to point out how significant the outcome of the French election is. Of course the mandate that Chirac. well. doesn't have is important, but primary in the landmark of this event is something that all Americans should reflect on.

Today, over 80 percent of the French public eligible to vote went out and did it. Not only that, but it wasn't even the normal election day- it was a runoff, which means this is the second time in a month they had to get off their butts and (gasp) spend fifteen minutes of their lives voting.

The average American voter turnout in a Federal election is 37 percent. That means, on average, 63 percent, nearly two-thirds of the eligible voting American public, stays home on Election Day. And frankly, that's just ridiculous.

So in regards to that, I ask the inevitable question about comparing that to the 2000 election, in which the opposite happened- so few people voted, assumedly under the pretense that none of the candidates deserved to be there.

And frankly, I agreed with that. Out of the four leading candidates for president, the only one I considered even qualified to run the country, good or bad, by sheer default of prior experience, was Al Gore- which is pretty much what ultimately made me vote for him. And yeah, even as I write this, I know I'm not completely telling the truth. I know that a, if not the, main reason I voted for Gore was because I didn't want Bush to become president. (And no, I'm not going to get into the entire Nader debate again. It's pointless and stupid. To summarize, no I don't blame Nader for Gore losing, I blame Gore, especially since he didn't even lose. No, I don't dislike Nader, rather I think he's one of the nation's few living geniuses, but so is Stephen Hawking, and I don't think he's qualified to be president either.)

What would have made this a lot easier? If we had a system like France. In 2000, not a single candidate took the majority of the vote- Bush and Gore both took 48% apiece. Were this virtually any country in the European Union, there would have been a runoff between the two a few weeks later. And my god, doesn't that make an assload more sense than everything that happened in Florida- or for that matter, the entire electoral college in general?

So France changed my opinion about this. The entire "no good candidate worth voting for" notion is bull. Maybe it's true, but it doesn't even matter. It's not an ideal in this country, it's an excuse. The fact of the matter is that two-thirds of the country doesn't vote because we're a goddamn lazy country. We were bored by a stale campaign, and a realization that both candidates ran in their party with a platform that ignored most of their base constituents. And no one batted an eyelash because we use a system that favors that.

The relevance of France is that Chirac, a conservative, didn't win with a mandate- requiring virtually the entire country to vote for him to guarantee Le Pen lost proved that those to the left of him were willing to pick the lesser of two evils. It gives the people a mandate to let Chirac know that if he tries to appease just the people who voted for him in the first round election, then he's not going to have a high approval rating for long. And it would apply in this country as well.

What if there was a runoff system in the US? What if we had it in 2000? Would Gore have won and accepted what Chirac now has to accept- a mandate from the leftist people who saved his ass? Or would he have ignored it and ran again in 2004 with the same "screw 'em if they don't like that I'm a moderate, let 'em vote for Dole" platform Clinton adopted in 1996?

Honestly, I don't know. But I know that if we had the system France had, candidates like Nader and Buchanan wouldn't have been considered "spoilers" and "detriments to the electoral process" but rather potential threats to the mainstream candidates who thought that they wouldn't need the far ends of their political parties. We need extreme leftists and rightists to have actual chances to mobilize more people to prevent them from taking office at all costs!

So instead of denying that we vote mostly to keep somebody else out, we should embrace a system that actually benefits the people who think that way. Because like it or not, that's how most lazy American voters think, and that's the only system that we can develop that will get more of the laziest 63% off of the couch in November.


Again, I must apologize for the sudden gap in updates. It's going to be a hectic week, what with finishing papers and moving back to Jersey for the summer and figuring out what in the blankety-hell I'm going to be doing during the next four months, and what of that I'm going to do for this site and other purposes. My roomate shipping all of his stuff back home, including the TV, the DVD player, and the Stereo, helps add to the desire to do nothing but huddle into a little ball in the corner and not want to do anything until the new Moby CD comes out or something like that.

Also, in an optimistic sense, I've discovered that most of the time when I write a depressing "no updates soon" post like this, I suddenly get lots of stuff to write about, so maybe this is sort of a good thing.


Saturday, May 04, 2002

Hey, wait a minute

The latest chapter in the ongoing anomaly that is the Catholic Church is that the Archdiocese of Boston has suddenly rejected a settlement agreement with 86 people allegedly (translated: the priest got caught) sexually abused by members of the clergy.

Now, a few of you might be angry that already in that joke I rushed to judge the Church as guilty without being proven so. in other words, that the very reason they are rejecting the settlement deal is that they now believe the allegations are untrue, and that they want to fight them to clear their righteous name.

Yeah. That would be really great, wouldn't it? Unfortunately, the actual reason for this flip-flop is explained in the article:

The archdiocese's finance council rejected Cardinal Bernard Law's request to sign the deal, estimated to be worth $15 million to $30 million.

The council said the settlement would consume substantially all the archdiocese's resources "that can reasonably be made available and therefore, such an action would leave the archdiocese unable to provide a just and proportional response to other victims," according to David W. Smith, chancellor for the archdiocese.

Okay, wait. Run that by me again.

The Church believes that the settlement is too much money. Not because it will strip them of funds to carry on the normal duties of the church, but because it will leave them without any money left to "provide a response" to other victims.

In other words, We know for a guaranteed fact that more than 86 people were molested by our priests and we're going to need more money to pay them off.

I'd like a response from the still-devout members of the Catholic Church here. how, in God's name, can the member of any religious organization make this statement? That we can't pay this much money to people we abused because we abused too many people to pay equal retribution to?

Ridiculous. I go to NYU, and I know for a fact that the university makes billions hand-over-fist. And we're the second-largest landowner in Manhattan. The largest single landowner in Manhattan? The Catholic Church.

So Cardinals, if you're not going to get off your ass and start putting pedophiles either in jail or in mental health clinics, then start selling off some land and start dishing out the settlements. Because the only other way you're going to pay your debts to the people you misled is to figure out how to do with money what you did once with bread and fish.


Friday, May 03, 2002

Gee, maybe they'd all be safer in a Catholic school

Okay, so that was a horrible thing to say, but this is getting ridiculous. In the midst of President Bush's attempt to test and rate the teaching abilities of our nation's educators, he's apparently left out any policy to make sure that none of them are complete fucking idiots.

I was going to avoid mentioning the wonderful tale of tolerance and generation-gap-conflict that every other blog in the world has mentioned already about the schoolgirls who were strip-searched at a dance to verify the school's "no thong" policy, because I thought, "it's just a fluke. Stupid administrator, localized problem. I don't want to start a debate like the 'I can't give a kid an aspirin but I can take them to an abortion clinic' right-wingers do. Just leave it alone."

And then, of course, the stupidity happens again. A group of school administrators- the people we pay to set the standard of education and understanding in our children- suspended an 11-year old girl for making "terrorist threats." What kind of threats? Drawing stick figures of dead people with the teachers' names on them.

Pennsylvania, I'd like to remind everyone, is the state where only a year or two ago in two different places teenagers decided to hold all their anger about bad school life and keep it packed into a tight little ball until they couldn't take it anymore and decided to grab a gun and shoot someone. But of course, suggesting that simulated violence as an appropriate outlet to avoid enacting real violence would just make me sound stupid, yesserie-bob.

And as for the former incident, an update: the vice-principal with the vice principles (damn that's good) has since been placed on leave. who wants to guess how many parents are satisfied with that? What's that? None of them? How'd you guess? Maybe it's because the Catholic Church recently proved that when you violate the sexual and physical rights of minors you're not supposed to be allowed back at work the next morning.

So here's to the American system of education evaluation. We can have schools that post specific religious doctrines and suggest biblical creation as an alternative to Darwin, and those meet the requirements. We can have administrators that violate the private and personal rights of students, and as long as they get high enough math scores, no problem. But a school that can't afford proper science equipment and make due with what they already have because the underpaid inner-city teacher is busy teaching kids to handle their own lives and the intense amount of shit that living in an underfunded inner-city school district must provide them with has even more money taken away because not enough kids can find Ukraine on the map. maybe because their map's so old it doesn't exist yet.

But hey, things will get better as soon as more schools get uniforms, right? Just make sure they can't see the thong, girls.


Thursday, May 02, 2002

Reverse bump, or something.

Okay, it took me about two minutes to become completely uncomfortable with the first thing on my website being a hand-made image of a human skull and a swastika. So I'm writing this just to move it down a bit. And don't get me started on how weird I felt making the damn thing... Imagine your college roomate walking in on you making little swastikas on Photoshop. I had to cover up and say I accidentally came across the wrong link while looking for porn.


Just so you know I'm working on it

I mentioned earlier on that I was going to make some graphics for instant emphasis on stupid spin in the Middle East debate. So, just to prove I'm actually doing it, that's the first one I've finished. Basically, you can assign it to yourself to mock anyone who thinks the easy way to argue with you is to compare you to Hitler.

Also in the works is a full page pair of "congratulations- you've officially lost all credibility!" images: one for anyone who uses a Hitler analogy, and another, which I hope to animate a la the Hampster Dance, to use against anyone who reminds us that .005% of the Arab population of the world expressed inconsiderate happiness over the attack on the World Trade Center.

I'm thinking the taglines should either be "If you think this is offensive, so do we" or "hey, you started it." Let me know what you think, and if you have any other suggestions of rhetoric so overused it merits its own laugh-and-point-and-stare graphic.


Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Ah, I love a candidate with compassionate humanitarian concerns

There's a brand new reason to avoid Colorado: a candidate for Jefferson County sheriff who owns his own company. Now, that in itself is enough to scare the crap out of me, but here's his big campaign PR niche: he's taken out a full-page ad in Soldier of Fortune, offering $100,000 to anyone who personally hunts down and executes Osama bin Laden using one of his company's guns.

Ad found on the Smoking Gun, link via Cursor.



And with a heavy sign I announce that the newest comic- "Annual Reflections -" has been posted.

Why the heavy sigh? Because this is the last week that the WSN runs for the 2001-2002 year, meaning... sorry folks, this is the last new regular XQUZYPHYR & Overboard strip until September.

The good news, though, is that since I started the blog, for the first time in the three years I've been doing this the site will not be going dormant for four months. When I mean last regular strip until September, I mean no more simple regular print-run comics... over the summer I'll be doing a lot of work, including prep for Senior Year Animation and my subsequent attempt at my first complete animated short. I'm sure in the tedium and stress I'll want to draw a few comics.

After making fans out of so many new people, believe you me the last thing I plan to do is stop giving you reasons to come back. Of course the blog shall continue unadulterated, but as for comic content... let's just say I've got a few ideas... but you don't get any hints yet... because honeslty I don't know what I plan to do yet. Blah.

But hopefully, anything I do will reflect on the fact that since it doesn't need to meet the WSN printing standards, I can pretty much have 'ZYPH and Ovie doing anything I want them to- which considering my boredom will most likely involve lots of blood and foul language and fight sequences to the sound of the Ramones and Andrew W.K. and lots of other nasty stuff unbecomming of a gun control advocate.

Oh, how I love the sights of summer. Now everyone read my funny comic and then go outside and play.