August 9, 2003

Okay, hold on there

First of all, I agree with pretty much everything Tom Tomorrow said in his update post about the $500 blogger invite rumblings: except I for one have so much love for my Wacom tablet that I could, without a doubt, easily spend 45 minutes talking about it.

Nevertheless, I noticed in my link log that I've been getting a somewhat-significant reference to this editorial here. I feel I need to clarify as to not be cast upon as, apparently, some kind of elitist prick for allegedly daring to allegedly bite the alleged hand that allegedly feeds me.

Whenever I write a post about how I don't associate myself with blogging, or don't consider myself a blogger, I get more than one e-mail from readers/bloggers complaining that I'm trying to be some kind of "anti-blogger" and/or radical punk usurper to the blogosphere, or any other term-laden rhetoric related to the general theme of "you find it cool to make fun of blogging for blogging's sake." To this, I emphasize: bullshit.

Like Tom said in his post, I started using Blogger and later Moveable Type because it is thirty-seven thousand times easier to update my website. Just as new techniques in my comics led to better, more frequent, and overall more appealing comics, this new technique in website updating led to better, more frequent, and more appealing website. I want people to read my comics, but I'm aware that the updates to the main page are what keep the readers coming. And linking. And promoting.

So the notion that I'm mocking or insulting anyone involving this blogging conference I refute totally. The fact of the matter is, I understand that people want to blog as a career. I don't. I'm not trying to. I'm using this tool as a way to increase the appeal of the place I created to show off my work in an effort to get more people to see my work.

If Blogger and MT and LiveJournal all dissolved into the ether tomorrow, I would still be a cartoonist. I would still be trying to do cartoons and animation, and I would still be trying to post news links and interesting things on my website. The only thing that would change would be the level of convenience. That's why I find the blogging paradigm overplayed.

I find the statement "blogging as being something cool and unique is now struck dead" as ridiculous as saying "e-mailing as being something cool and unique is now struck dead." The very purpose of blogging software is to increase the ability for as many people as possible to use it. The internet is not exactly the best place to start creating private clubs for selective members- and then, of course, demanding fees for the priviledge of hearing self-proclaimed "masters of their trade" tell you how important they are it is.

Blogging, as a tool, is not responsible for the new influx of social/political discourse. It is responsible for making the capability of millions of people who inherently care about social/political discourse to actually be heard increase online at an exponential degree. The core element, to me, is still not the blogging software. It's that those people exist in the first place.

Just like e-mail to postal mail, blogging itself is something that is great in reference to its convenience in doing something else- in this case, actual humans expressing actual opinions. Blogger hasn't made me hate George W. Bush any greater. It's allowed me to write at a greater pace all the reasons why I hate him already. It allows you, the reader, to hate George W. Bush at a faster, more improved pace. But LiveJournal isn't the reason you're hearing about what an idiot the president is. I am.

As for the complaints about the money, I'm sorry, but to claim that's an affront on blogging is asinine. I'm sorry if someone's feelings are hurt, but the idea of charging five hundred dollars to listen to people talk about how much better they are at using a piece of software than you is mind-numbingly stupid. What use is this conference to me as a potential fan of the invited speakers? Someone is a fan of Glenn Reynolds not because of his prowess with using software but because of what he writes. Also, because they recently had a spike driven through their forehead, but that's a different topic altogether.

I have never in my life recieved a complaint about how I cast disapproval on, for example, PhotoShop. I find it overwhelmingly confusing how I get so much flak, then, for casting disapproval on blog software. Please, for the love of whatever, tell me how you hate my opinions, tell me how you hate my artwork, tell me how you hate my physical appearance, tell me how you hate my atrocious spelling and grammar. But please stop writing me about my opinions on blogging. It wouldn't be any less appealing to me if you were charging me $500 to hear it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:15 PM

August 8, 2003

Umm... just to point out...

Apparently, according to Tapped, Bush could technically go to jail for up to five years if it's proven he lied during any address to Congress: this includes the State of the Union Address.

Please note the disclaimer that I'm not exactly a fan of anything in politics that subverts the will of the voters by prematurly removing elected officials, and that the best way to remove any horrible politician from power is during an election.

Oh, also: this won't ever happen, ever.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:41 PM

August 7, 2003

I may have already won ten million dollars!

I wouldn't-a-thunk it, even after Atrios and Tom noted its existence, until I got it in my own e-mail that this was real: apparently, someone out there believed I would pay five hundred dollars to listen to people talk about blogging.

Apologies to the 90% of the audience at this thing who will likely be reporters for magazines and websites, their fees paid by their respective editors to Find Out What The Kids Are Up To These Days, but I not only am not going to this thing, but publicly and pre-emptively pity anyone in that remaining 10% who would actually pay that much to do so.

Jesus Christ. I'll make you a deal- send me only one hundred and I'll tell you how to save 80% of your money.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:08 PM

August 6, 2003

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the understatement of the century.

CNN reports Schwarzenegger will run for governor of California; race also includes Gary Coleman:

Dick Rosengarten, editor and publisher of California Political Week, told CNN Wednesday that the California race was drawing so many candidates it was in danger of becoming a farce.
Wow.
 
Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:14 PM

Golly, that's a stupid thing to say

From CNN.com on the rising popularity of Howard Dean:

Dean has plenty of doubters. "They've very deftly and cleverly caught a wave here, and they're surfing it pretty smart," says Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan. As for the Internet-driven engine of the Dean insurgency: "It's like watching my 13-year-old daughter instant-messaging," Jordan says. "It's not particularly about politics and policy. It's almost like a reality show."
Hi there, Jim. I'm an undecided registered Democrat who frequently looks at Howard Dean's weblog for insight into the views of my potential choice for future Democratic candidate for President of the United States. You know what's not a great way to make me more devoted to the candidate you're endorsing? Making fun of me for doing that. While we're at it, you might want to consider that maybe, just maybe, suggesting that the online community- probably the most vocal proponents of politics and policy in the country today- aren't talking about it at all isn't exactly the best way to suggest your candidate is remotely in touch with today's voting youth.

I sincerly doubt "John Kerry: because voting for someone else is like a 13-year old girl instant messenging" is one of your campaign slogans, so I'm baffled as to why you think it makes a convicing argument for your boss instead of making you sound like, ironically, a whiny 13-year old child.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:28 PM

August 5, 2003

Hot Episcopalian Action update!

Since personal accounts are crucial in the realm of regional social debate, a brief on-site report:

I have just returned from a good five minutes staring at the street from the front door of my house. As of the time of this posting, the earth has not opened up and there are no visible signs of the gaping maw of the Host of Hell materializing as Sorrow-Made-Flesh beckons to us, the Fallen race of God's image, having turned for all eternity from the arms of the Lamb in favor of what is obviously, irrefutably, the end of civilization as we know it.

Tomorrow: most of country forgets the guy's name, moves on with lives.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:25 PM

Oh, silly, silly comments section

O-Dub has jumped from the Edwards bandwagon to the Dean bandwagon, which is understandable considering Edwards doesn't, you know, have a bandwagon. Willis' endorsement post has a comments section where, expectedly, people who claim to be interested in debate and the adjustment of opinions have decided to attack him for the horrendous online crime of changing his mind about something.

Pointless crap like that being among the many reasons I don't have comments on my own site (another, of course, being that I'm not writing stuff here because I want you to try and change my mind- this is where I get to vent my opinions; go to MetaFilter to argue) I found this anti-endorsement comment particularly interesting:

since the end of WWII, 59 years ago, how many times do you think the Democratic candidate for president gotten even to 51%?

once. in 1964.

this, unfortunately, is a center-right country. bill clinton is about the best we can possibly get elected.

i wish i lived in a country where the Good Doctor could be elected president, but i don't. Dean would get massacred by Bush, and this election is winnable with the right nominee.

Oliver, stop drinking the kool-aid.

and Go John Edwards! there's still plenty of time before NH to get this bandwagon rolling.

Okay, first of all, I think we all noticed the slight discrepancy in that since the end of World War II, a grand total of four Democrats actually won a presidential election. That only 25% (or 20%, if you count Clinton twice) of the time the vote was over 51% seems to be much more indicative of the fallacies of the electoral process itself rather than anything of statistical relevance.

Second, not to make the full-blown Michael Moore turn here, but the idea that this country is dominantly center-right is laughable. I know the country isn't remotely as left as I am, but I fail to see how a country which, in national polls, supports (by- gasp! Over 51% even!) gay rights, the right to choose, labor unions, the first amendment, and yes- even Affirmative Action- can be considered right-of-center. America's significant social support that you could construe as "right-leaning" is in support for religion, the military, and the death penalty- so you can't say it's a liberal nation either when you compare it to say, Canada or Western Europe. Compare the level of right-wing extremism to some of the countries we've bombed in the last few decades, and you have a different story.

A point that Moore- ironically, a blatantly radical extreme-left liberal- noted is that this country isn't really much of either left or right. It's not that this country is on the whole moderate, it's that this country is on the whole ambivalent. The fact that some of their social views are "conservative" while some are "liberal" is lost on that true tragic majority in America- the non-voter- who honestly don't care enough to... well, have their own weblog, for one example.

That said, I don't have any personal endorsement yet, but as far as saying Edwards is a better candidate than Dean, I ask only to consider that the true untapped electorate of this country is in the voting populace that needs inspiration and motivation to actually be part of said populace- and buddy, Edwards ain't Clinton.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:15 AM

August 4, 2003

Gosh, this guy's pretty good

Yeah, I really follow the food chain here. So there's this guy called Atrios who has a blog or something like that, I really think everyone should go read it. I mean, I'm sure after a link from me the hits will be swelling.

Okay, seriously now: for the five of you who don't read Eschaton already, take note of the team's spectacular coverage of the blatant character assassination of (hopefully, because it would mean the plans failed) future-Bishop Robinson. Just start from that link and work your way up; hopefully there will be good news if you're clicking at later intervals.

My own personal note about this issue is in regards to a significant point that, as of this posting, Eschaton hasn't noted: this "delaying" of the vote because of a "controversy" that has absolutely no merit or validity whatsoever, was because of an "anonymous clergy member" as the source of the "revelation" that this potential Bishop was connected to an organization with a website that has a link to a site that has porn. This "source" has created a controversy that, regardless of the blatant lack of merit, will cause enough media coverage and "discussion" on the connections of a gay priest to porn (we all know what THAT means, don't we, oh decent Christian folk?) to likely hinder the chance of a decent, supported man getting elected Bishop.

Let's sum that up again: a fellow priest deliberately lied about his fellow brother of the cloth because of his hateful fear of who that man was. If that doesn't say something about the state of organized religion in today's civilized society, I don't know what does.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:36 PM

August 3, 2003

"My... my god, Martha... he's reading the e-mails!"

Yes. Contrary to the illusion presented by my constant act of never replying to any of you, I do, in fact, read all your e-mails. Now we present another edition of the Weekend Mailbag: my special way of being compassionate to your own views while being incredibly lazy at the same time.

I got an e-mail from someone identified as "Scarlet Pimpernel," and the absence of a "to:" line is the usual tipoff that someone is violating Rule 3 of Fight Club. But, since Scarlet didn't provide any respond address or site link either in the e-mail, it sort of shoots down the idea that he was trying to spam multiple sites for publicity, unlike some people you know who you are I don't get any of your mails because I've blocked you I don't want to be on any mailing lists stop it now.

(Deep breath) Sorry. Long week. That was cleansing, though. So, anyway, the Pimpernel's anecdote:

Inspired by the loss of his TV show to an angry outburst at a caller, here's my attempt last night to provoke Michael Savage off the radio.
(Rough Transcript)

MS: Okay, I wanna hear from you callers out there, the ones who were raised by leftist parents... all you red-diaper doper babies out there. I wanna hear if you liked them, if they screwed you up, whatever. Our first call's from Justin in Los Angeles. Justin, welcome to the Savage Nation.

Justin (S.P.): Hi Michael. I'm definitely one of those kids-of-leftists you're talking about. My father was very big into civil rights and poverty issues back in the sixties. I hate to disappoint you though: he wasn't really a hippie or anything like that, he was more a nerdy kind of activist, you know, the kind with short hair...

MS: Uh-huh.

Justin: And I guess, 'cuz he spent a lot of time trying to help out other people and causes and the like, he wasn't really home all that much, or not as much as he could've been, and I know it must've had some impact on the family, but y'know what?

MS: What?

Justin: You aren't fit to lick his boots.

MS: (enraged) What?! What the hell do you know about me? What the hell do you know about anything? You don't know anything about me, about what I've done... about my work in nutrition, in conservation... anything! How would you know anything about me?

Justin: Well, I hear what you say on the radio...

MS: You don't know anything! You're just stupid, like the rest of them, what do you know?

Justin: I've heard your mother still cries when you try to seduce her...

MS: WHAT! YOU BASTARD! You FILTHY FILTHY BASTARD! You just come here and say that! You just come down to the studio... any time any place, I swear to god you filthy, filthy miserable leftist commie son of a bitch... (etc. etc. for another minute or two...)

Since the show's on a seven second delay I'm sure they cut my last line off the air, but there was no question he heard it. Damn near had an aneurysm. Maybe next time.

I highly suggest you try this sometime: call into the Michael Savage show, talk your way past the screener and just say something intensely cruel to him. You wouldn't believe how satisfying it is.

I love the idea of this, Scarlet, but it of course requires you to actually listen to Michael Savage, and although I do (gasp!) read websites and blogs with opinions contrary to my own, there's a line I just have to draw.

This one's from Margaret Lyman, in regards to my sputtering rant against Tapped the other day:

Hmm. I have zero knowledge about the current state of undergraduate journalism departments, though I would be willing to bet NYU's is much better than Texas A&M's, anyway. A&M is a good place to go to become a geologist or an engineer, but I wouldn't think they'd have a very strong journalism department.

But just because I don't know anything about it doesn't keep me from having an opinion!

Actually, my college had a policy concerning undergraduate education majors that I must say was very successful. There was no undergraduate major in education, though there was a very fine and very active education department. The idea was that all prospective teachers should major in something other than education, at the same time taking a 1/4-credit education seminar each year for which they would read, discuss, observe, and student teach. At the end of four years, if they still wanted to pursue teaching as a career, they took a full graduate load of education courses, along with a (paid) internship, graduating with a M.A. and a teaching certificate. In theory this ensured two things: that the teachers produced by the program had SOME grasp of a body of knowledge distinct from teaching-children-stuff, and that they had chosen that career path based on genuine knowledge of and love of teaching borne of experience, not because they'd majored in it and wouldn't graduate on time if they changed their majors. (I have a friend who majored in elementary education at another school and had a horrible epiphany during her senior year student teaching -- she discovered she didn't like children.)

The "undergrad journalism major is worthless" idea* has been around a long time. (*I will not use meme. I will not use meme.) I remember a college friend (poly sci major, who wanted a career in journalism) who was told the same thing by a visiting journalist along about 1975. (He was somebody impressive at the time, but his name escapes me now.) I don't know if she'd have made a career of journalism if she'd majored in it -- she became a casting director, eventually married the producer of the Police Academy movies, and last I heard had become a psychologist. Another friend worked her way up to managing editor of Vanity Fair after majoring in Latin in college. So go figure. I really think the best thing anyone can do as an undergraduate is to expose oneself to as many ways of understanding the world as is possible, legal, and safe. The two most valuable educational experiences I have had were extra-university, and I attribute their value directly to the fact they were not tied to university bureaucracy but were free to meet the true needs of the students in whatever ways that worked.

The journalism course you describe taking at NYU sounds fabulous. In truth, there seem to be more valuable undergrad and graduate courses around these days -- or maybe I just see their value more than I did in my own college days.

Now, any idea why A&M is getting rid of their journalism department? It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that the state of Texas is experiencing a severe budget shortfall and all the state schools are having to retrench bigtime, could it? Can you say "Thank you, Governor Bush?" While we're at it, "Thank you, Texas Lege." As the head of the art department at North Texas explained to the parents, the university badly needs a new art building and a new chemistry building; administrators at all the state schools agreed that North Texas needs both these buildings urgently, and jointly wrote a request the Legislature that UNT receive the funding for both buildings. The Lege, coming down to the end of the session and being distracted by little things like redistricting fights, didn't read the request, but simply voted funds for each Texas state university to get one new building. UNT got its chem building, but no new art space. Because talk about a useless major --- (smile)

You understand, of course, the influence this e-mail has on me. I know know someone who knows someone who's married to the guy who produced Police Academy.

Finally, I'd like to say thanks to the people who wrote to say hi in regards to that Tapped post, as well as those who wrote a few weeks ago from the various places on my vacation trip to say "hey! I'm from there! Cool!" I like the idea of a connection around here, especially since I've felt so distanced from my own life ever since it changed so greatly with my graduation in May.

I know it's been a bit slow around this site, and to be honest, I think one of the reasons has been a general sense of burden and stress after graduating and not finding work and the usual crap like that. I don't have the major outlet for my comic anymore, and I still don't get the same feeling being strictly web as I did when I was in print. To be blunt, I felt like the thrill of doing the comic part of this comic was gone.

That was, of course, until Chris Pendarvis made me want to enjoy my life again.

John,

Please stop pretending like you understand geopolitical science. Your cartoons that try to box in conservatives as evil, and the PROTESTERS as actually pro-american is slightly pathetic. There is no such thing as DISSENT IN AMERICA! It's called practicing your right to FREE SPEECH! There is nothing BRAVE about attacking the men and women who fight for your right to be an idiot, it's called FREE SPEECH! Try DISSENTING in Iran! That would be brave. Are all the people in New york this STUPID? The answer is... Most of you are... This explains why you elected the "void of ALL morals" HILLARY FREAKIN' CLINTON! It has always cracked me up how you people fall for her bullshit. Please leave geopolitical science to people who have understanding of it.

Chris Pendarvis
Have a nice day!

I've never wanted to be a cartoonist more in my entire life.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:59 PM