« October 2004 | Main | December 2004 »

November 2004 Archives

November 1, 2004

soccer sucker

I'm not much of a sports fan. I like playing sports; watching other people play I find a lot less interesting. It will not come as a surprise then I hadn't been to a soccer match since 1989. Yesterday a friend invited me to a match between local club FC Groningen and ADO Den Haag. She and her husband have season tickets, and as he was away, I could use his. Just as well, because I was rather surprised to find a ticket costs € 14.50. I mean, hey, the average movie lasts just as long as a soccer match and will cost you half that amount. And you're indoors in comfortable seats, instead of in a drafty stadium either standing or in uncomfortable plastic (hooligan proof) seats.
I'm making it sound as if I had a horrible time yesterday. I didn't actually. The atmosphere in the stadium was quite enjoyable and seeing a game live is a lot more interesting than watching it on tv. I enjoyed applauding good ball handling, and boo-ing the referee if he made a bad decision. I enjoyed being part of the mass, rooting for "our" team. It was also fun to finally see my cousin's boyfriend play, him being FC Groningens' team captain.
One thing really surprised me though. The negative reaction of the supporters. When some player made a mistake they made sure to tell him so: calling him names and asking the coach for a substitute. And when our side let in two easy goals by the other side people boo-ed like crazy. Even as we did in fact win the match. And it was only the second victory of the season. This doesn't seem like a very effective way of supporting your team. I would've thought you'd cheer harder when they need it the most, boost morale etc. Apparantly you should feel indignant when your team doesn't perform at their top every single moment. It's beyond me. I do hope they don't treat their kids the same way...

EU Constitution a rambling monstrosity

Via Europhobia comes this Comparison of the EU and US Constitutions. Sadly, the EU constitution loses out: it's a long, rambling piece described as a "meddler's charter".
I hope I get around to reading all its 243 articles (the US one has seven, plus 27 amendments) some time before the referendum — but right now to be honest, I can't be arsed. Two hundred and forty-three!

Tony Blair privately backs Kerry

Tony Blair has privately admitted that he wants Democrat John Kerry to win tomorrow's US election.

The Prime Minister has acknowledged to at least two confidantes that a Kerry win would be a 'lifeline' for his own political future.

I'll join The Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill (Okay, I joined them long ago, but my application seems to have been lost in processing. Those Uber-Yog-Sothoths have no respect for their foot soldiers) in calling on Blair to make his backing of Kerry public. Preferably before the election.

(note: I originally wrote "to make his backing of Blair public". D'Oh! Blair's enthusiastic backing of Blair is rather widely known already. Thanks to reader Mithandir for pointing this out.)

November 2, 2004

Theo van Gogh murdered

Controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh has been shot dead in Amsterdam, the radio reports. More when I have it.

Theo van Gogh was a columnist, filmmaker and chain smoker known more for his provocative attitude, slovenly dress and outspoken views about social issues, particularly about Islam, than for his actual movies*). His last work, a TV movie called Submission, got quite a bit of publicity though: it featured misogynistic verses from the Qu'ran projected on the nude bodies of Muslim women. Van Gogh courted controversy and thrived on it. His commitment to freedom of expression was absolute, and while he made many bitter enemies in 20 years of polemical writing, he always made a point of assuring that his enemies could at all time have their say. He made no distinction between attempts to silence his opponents and attempts to silence himself.

The news now says van Gogh had received death threats recently.

Van Gogh, a third cousin of the 19th Century painter, was stabbed and shot dead on the streets of Amsterdam at 9 AM on Tuesday. The gunner was pursued by the police and shot in the leg before being arrested. One police officer was also wounded. The murderer's motive is not clear at the time of writing although undoubtedly pundits will spend the rest of the day guessing.

Van Gogh left behind one young son.

Update: The gunman was somebody known to the Secret Service, AIVD. Also, I forgot to mention that a pamphlet was pinned to van Gogh's body. The contents are as yet unknown. BBC coverage mentioning that the gunner was a Moroccan in traditional dress | CNN coverage | Harry's Place responds. | Review and report on Submission from the Taipei Times

Latest: I just heard someone say that doing one thing or another that I didn't catch was "In de geest van Theo". Brace yourselves for another episode of mass hysteria.

Continue reading "Theo van Gogh murdered" »

It's got maps! All over the place

What I like most about Electoral-vote.com is that I can learn American topography from it. Once this election is over I'll be able to find Connecticut on a map. This will give me legitimacy to mock Americans for their lack of geographical savvy.

November 3, 2004

Be warned...

[A_Man_In_Black] If Bush wins this election, by Monday all the banks and government offices will be closed, and soldiers will be marching in the streets.
[Reiver] Really? That's handy.
[Reiver] ASCII voted for him, so you can give him a special hug. :)
[ElCarpeto] There'll always be a strong guy around to help you open jars. Kinda handy really.
[A_Man_In_Black] It's an indisputable fact.
[Reiver] Indeed.
[A_Man_In_Black] Monday is Veteran's Day.

-From Nightstar IRC network

That said, I hope to god that Kerry wins. I have dual American/British citizenship, am a socialist, and would rather like to not have to be embarrassed by the American half of my culture anymore, even if I don't plan to leave Britain.

That and the fact that I think Bush is the worst thing to happen to America since it was founded. How the hell did he manage to lose all the world's good will about the 11th of September so quickly?

Is there good on keenspace? Part I

Is there good on Keenspace? Oh yes, certainly! Admidst many a strange sprite comic are some true gems. Let's look at a few of the best obscure fantasy comics in the start of this regular feature!

All images are, of course, copyright their respective comics and are only copied here to help review them

Tales of the Questor
npc20040802.png

This comic is simply delightful. Overloaded with goodnatured wit and fun, an incrediably lovable cast, and a really cracking plot, it's an absolute delight suitable for all ages.

Minions for Hire
minion.jpg

Minions for hire moves a bit slowly, with most strips only having one or two large panels. That said, these three minor villains on a grand quest to become true warlords are absolutely delightful. Read this comic and you two can be booing the paladins, guards, and other forces of goodness that try and stop them!

Stuff of Legends
sol.png

The very stylish art drew me in, the hilarious tale of a young optomistic boy latching on to an old pessimistic hero who's trying his best to retire caused this comic to rise to one of my favourites.


Dwarf Tossing
dwarftossin5.jpg

You know, I can never decide about Dwarf Tossing's art. if you glance at certain episodes, they look bad, but if you look at thrm for a bit longer, you notice it's actually rather well done. Never really understood that. Jeroen calls it "naive". In any case, it is a rather fun read. Rather rougher around the edges than the other comics in this offering, but it's improving quite rapidly, and the characters really do grow on you, stupid and foolhearty as they are. However, it is a webcomic in the very early stages of its development. It wasn't until after I started reading it that it gained navigation buttons, which are still a little chancy even now.

But if you can't support a fledgling webcomic, what can you support? And I do love dwarves.


I hope you enjoyed my overview of keenspace. Keep an eye on this spot as Adam braves the wilds of keenspace, finding the true gems hidden amongst comics that make you want to stab your eyes out, lest you miss the very good because of the very bad.

So, it's four more years then?

So it looks as if it's going to be four more years of Bush. I won't have to tell you that I think this is worse than bad - it's disastrous. However, the American people have spoken, and if there's one silver lining to the dark storm cloud that hangs over the world this morning, it's that they have done so in large numbers. For the first time in many years, the electorate was involved. An involved electorate will educate itself, organise itself, and over time, make better and better decisions.
The Abu Ghraib administration will undoubtedly consider itself unleashed, so I don't expect a lot of good news in the next four years. But after that, a more careful, less reckless, less spendthrift and more genuinely conservative administration may replace them. They may even be Republican!

And that's it for me on American politics for the next couple of weeks. I'm putting down the Kool-Aid, handing in my Order of the Shrill badge and focusing on work, music, comics and a little bit of Euro-politics where I'm actually well-informed.

(Actually, I've learned quite a bit these past few months, and I hope I'll be able to put that to good use in my writing and cartooning.)

Update: What John said.
Update to the update: What John said.
Update to the update to the update: What John said, again.
Update highlighting someone not named John Hesiod begs to differ even with the turnout thing. I don't know how long this link will continue to work because Hesiod wants to shut down his blog, so I've reproduced it in its entirety below the fold.

Continue reading "So, it's four more years then?" »

What I did yest're'en

I wrote a few days ago that I'd spend the night of the US election getting shitfaced, but instead I spent the first part of the evening looking at a naked woman and scrawling marks on paper.

Leunend model
model-staand.jpg
This model was an oddly-built one that I had a hard time drawing. She was thin and bony but also loose-skinned. Only a handful of drawings are worth showing to people at all, and that only to comment on what I try to accomplish drawing a live model.
The point of life drawing isn't just to get the anatomy right - it's to learn to perceive shape. Sometimes I do spontaneous charcoal sketches before settling down to do a more developed version in pencil. Not last night - I couldn't find my charcoals. So I drew the basic shapes of the figure in B pencil, and then went on developing the figure with a 4B. This is similar to how I cartoon except that instead of constructing the body from a shape in my head, I start from what I see but try to bring out the shape of that. You will see that I'm having a particularly hard time getting this right with heads - I don't think I've ever got the head right in any of my life drawing sessions, and I may need to do some studying from a book. You'd think that heads would be easier because you see them so much more in everyday life, but not so.

At right: most sessions, I can finish my drawing before the model assumes a different pose, but yesterday, some drawings remained unfinished.

Continue reading "What I did yest're'en" »

Alas, poor Theo

After a rather lame first response, this batch of Fokke & Sukke cartoons responding to the murder of Theo van Gogh and the sudden death of cycling champ Gerrie Knetemann turned out a lot stronger. And the intrepid avians score another point in Stalinism.com's So What Purity Test.

Lies, I tell you! Filthy lies!!!

Reading a bunch of Filthy Lies comics mocking the President-apparent has made me feel better about things. This episode is still my favourite.

Joey Manley on the election result

This aspect of Bush's re-election disturbs me too. Joey Manley:

They won by playing the hate card: essentially, they have excluded me and my life partner, and millions like us, from full citizenship status, and by rubbing our noses in the fact that they have the power to do so. That is what turned this election, the so-called "moral values" issue. The moral values of exclusion, hatred, disenfranchisement, and fear. This is hard, and it will not be forgotten or forgiven. There can be no compromise with those who deny us our basic human rights. We must fight them (legally, by the way, and non-violently) at every turn. I refuse to accept their bogus morality, and I refuse to accept their authority over my personal choices in life.

Never give up. Never surrender.

I don't call him Fearless Leader for nothing.

See also Kieran Hiely's post on moral values at Crooked Timber. Oh, and Eszter's.

Conservative civility watch

If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot...


We’ve got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and out boot above their head. Now’s the time to curb-stomp the bastards.

From http://www.adamyoshida.com/2004/11/four-more-years-aka-take-that-you-sons.html - just one of many data points demolishing the ludicrous notion put forward by some conservatives that conservatives are champions of civil political discourse.

4-star general

20020906-gnomtoy.png
From Courtly Manners
wickedtemptations_1817_2388981
From Wickedtemptations.com, found by Eric Millikin


November 4, 2004

Figure Drawing Factory

Figure Drawing Factory is "a group of artists and models that come together in cyber-space to fabricate art from the human figure. As a group we enjoy working together, learning together, and sharing our successes. We hope you enjoy our site and the drawings that we have created as much as we enjoy creating them."

What I like about this site is that you see the same models and poses as drawn by different artists of widely varying styles and abilities. At life drawing sessions I'm often so embarrassed about the quality of my own work that I daren't look over the other artists' shoulders for fear that they'll want to look over mine and see my struggle to get it even remotely right (I'm the only self-taught artist in the group, and for all that people complain about the quality of art school training, the difference shows). For the blog, I cherry-pick the results - the average quality of the life drawings in my sketchbook is appalling.
I'm glad that the participants in Figure Drawing Factory are not so shy. It's fascinating to see.

Writeup at Sequential Tart! Woo!

In Rebecca Salek's article The Joy of Webcomics, Tart Margaret devotes a long paragraph (out of an extensive enumeration of webcomics she reads) to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan:


Other webcomics which are definitely worth checking out are Reinder Dijkhuis's Rogues of Clywd-Rhan at Modern Tales, an often amusing fantasy adventure series whose half-faery, half-human heroine, Kel, is currently on trial for, among other things, having managed to develop the ability to use magic without ever having completed the allegedly required ritual. The defense and prosecuting attorneys are gnomes in British-style powdered wigs, her principal accuser is the ambitious evil faery who actually committed most of the crimes Kel is charged with, and one of the witnesses was the decapitated (but still sentient) head of that manipulative — and apparently indestructible — magic-user, the Green Knight, more famously encountered by Sir Gawain in Arthurian legend. Since the local government is controlled by gnomes and faeries, the human-looking half-breed Kel has not received the most even-handed legal treatment. In fact, certain key witnesses had to be rounded up not by the authorities, but by her own friends and relatives, including her eccentric estranged mother, who is a high-ranking faery official, and various of her allies and rivals in the Fae Liberation Front.

Go read the whole article - I'll study it extensively for recommendations, even though I already know many of the comics the Tarties read.

Conservative civility watch

After we cut your balls off, let the healing begin, says Grover Norquist:

"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such." Norquist assured us that he meant neutered "psychologically" and his metaphor was "facetious." Of course: Let the healing begin.

Hat tip to Digby.

November 5, 2004

Soldiers describe looting

For the record, and in case the story disappears down the memory hole: here's this from The LA Times:

Iraqis piled high-grade material from a key site into trucks in the weeks after Baghdad fell, four U.S. reservists and guardsmen say.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

"Sorry everybody"

This warms the cockles of my heart. Or maybe just the valves, but in any case, some part of my heart is warmed. Thanks, folks!
(Via Questionable Content)
Update: When I posted the link, it was just one page. Now it's 176 pages and I'll be damned if I'm going to look at all of them. Probably not all of them will be sincere, some of them will take a good thing too far, and there's likely to be more than a bit of attention-whoring going on. That's life.

Van Gogh followup

When I posted the reports on Theo van Gogh's murder, I struggled with the question whether I was qualified to write about him. After all, I hated his columns, never watched one of his movies, and didn't know too much about him. Eventually, I decided that that hadn't stopped me before, and that for my international readers it would be useful - and part of this blog's mission - to inform them of a significant event taking place in the Netherlands.

One thing that turned out to be wrong was my statement that "his commitment to freedom of expression was absolute, and while he made many bitter enemies in 20 years of polemical writing, he always made a point of assuring that his enemies could at all time have their say. He made no distinction between attempts to silence his opponents and attempts to silence himself."

Francisco van Jole mentions in a reflection on van Gogh, Rushdie and Islamic extremism that van Gogh called him a nazi, tried to ban his 'paper' (which paper?) and tried to have him fired for daring to criticize him.
For that reason, van Jole did not see van Gogh as a defender of freedom of speech. (Dutch quotation below the fold)
Van Jole still marched for van Gogh on the evening of his murder, and thinks it's important to honor his memory in the same way that Rushdie was kept in the public eye while he was in hiding. He is right about that. Van Gogh was murdered for his opinions, and that can not be forgotten.

Continue reading "Van Gogh followup" »

So you want to emigrate? (Part one of two)

I've been hearing it ever since I started following US elections online: in 1996 it was "If Clinton gets re-elected, I'm leaving the country" from Republicans, in 2000, wins for either Gore or Bush would be reasons for their most virulent opponents to bail, and in 2004, many are finding the thought of another 4 years of Bush and/or the hate amendments that have passed in 11 states unbearable. It seems to be a relatively new development: in an article in De Groene Amsterdammer, not yet published online, historian Geert Mak expresses surprise at hearing his American contacts saying it when he traveled through the western United States for the first time in 15 years last summer. Americans wanting to leave for political reasons? Never!
There is one difference between 1996 and 2000 on the one hand, and 2004 on the other, though: then, it was nearly all talk, and few people followed through. This year, it looks like people are actually going through with it.

Continue reading "So you want to emigrate? (Part one of two)" »

November 6, 2004

Uhm, never mind.

It strikes me now that my "Conservative civility watch" posts were motivated at least partly by personal resentment issues on my part, and that while it would be a good idea for someone in Blogtopistan to keep tabs on truly outrageous statements made by the right's lunatic fringe, it would be better for my own soul if that someone wasn't me. For starters, I'd like to be able to keep my sense of humour about things

Move along, nothing to see here, I don't call this place Waffle for nothing...

November 7, 2004

Simon Schama Schpectacle

Looks like I should have tuned in to the BBC on election night. Blood and Treasure writes:

And when writers, purblind or not, gather with worldly America, they take refreshment in large quantities. I saw Schama on the BBC around midnight on election night and he was absolutely rat arsed. Not just merry, but wall eyed, fuckwit blotto. His shirt was three buttons undone, his tie vanished, an absurd lecherous grin on his face as he yelled

"...it's the Democrats. The Democrats. I know because my daughter was in new Hampshire today and they're all lovely people up there and she was getting out the vote and there were people hugging and voting and she cried and the Democrats are going to win!"

Then he turned to fellow panelist David Frum and shouted: "are you looking at me, you self-hating Canadian bastard or are yer chewin' a brick, 'cos either way you're going to hospital."

Well no he didn't. Not the last bit, anyway. He was cut off too soon for that. But I do detect a certain crapulous tone to the Guardian piece.


Here in the Netherlands, we had the great, if somewhat smelly, Maarten van Rossem, but I went to bed at quarter to three AM when it was clear to me which way things were going. By that time, van Rossum had knocked back three or four stiff ones, so he was only at his baseline.

November 8, 2004

Bomb attack on Islamic school

Last night, an islamic school in Eindhoven became the target of a bomb attack, which is presumed to be linked to the murder of Theo van Gogh. There have been incidents of vandalism against mosques and Islamic schools in the past couple of days as well.

Back in those awful days of September, 2001, there was widespread fear that Americans would retaliate against Muslim communities in the US, but although I dimly recall that there were some incidents, they were proportionally fewer in number. A lot of the credit, I think, actually goes to President Bush: he talked the talk that stopped people from taking the law in their own hands, speaking of Islam as a religion of peace - a phrase that the bigots at The Blog that LGFWatch Watches are mocking to this day. In a characteristic pattern, many of his administration's actions contradicted that message, but the fact that he talked the right talk at that time had a calming effect. It was coupled with the promise of a vigorous response, making people feel that they were not powerless against an invisible enemy. That message, too, would change, but it worked at the time.
The Dutch government, in particular Gerrit Zalm who declared war on terrorism as if a fleet of airplanes had just ploughed into the Euromast, gave the nation one part of the message but not the other. To speak of Islam as a religion of peace would have been too politically correct, too soft - too liberal and reasonable for that part of the population that has already made up its mind. And unlike Bush with that odd charisma of his, the message that "it's war and we'll get them" won't inspire confidence coming from the likes of Zalm. I like Zalm, but he's just a good accountant who knows funny jokes. Leader in a war against terrorism he is not.

Update: Financial Times's coverage.

Continue reading "Bomb attack on Islamic school" »

Blue Bunny's election legitimacy clearinghouse

Blue Bunny of Battle has spent some time investigating claims that the US elections were stolen. In his previous guise as Pink Bunny of Battle, he drove himself into shrill unholy madness (Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Pink Bunny R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii!!! Yog-Sothoth!!!, etc, etc, etc) pondering the possibility of a Bush re-election, and if he had any good reason to believe that the election was stolen, he'd jump at it, so I trust him if he considers it to be disproven.

Sunday Cycling: Groningen - Ter Apel

For an activity that's supposed to make me fit and healthy, our cycling trips have a way of making me feel like crap the next day. Often, it's my own fault though: yesterday I dictated an unusually brisk pace for our 55-kilometer trip to the monastery museum in Ter Apel, and my terrible map-reading skills were responsible for getting us lost on the way back.

Continue reading "Sunday Cycling: Groningen - Ter Apel" »

Scientific cock-up in Monday's ROCR

I'd spent so much time researching the fascinating details of humours theory for Rásdondr's testimony in Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan that I managed to mangle the more important issue of which species of giant cat is the biggest. I'll post a corrected version of today's comics this evening - and (bleagh) correct the next installment, which I had just finished, as well. Of course, the biggest factual mistake ever in my comics took place on the day I slept in after yesterday's cycling, and on the day the Talk About Comics forums were offline in those places where the new DNS hadn't propagated yet, so if anyone mentioned it there I haven't seen it. Thanks to reader Mithandir for pointing out the cock-up!

There. Done.

November 9, 2004

Submission: see for yourselves

The Dutch media were too chickenshit to repeat it, but Theo van Gogh's short film "Submission" can be viewed at genoeg.nu.

Two comments:

1. Genoeg.nu seems to exist only to disseminate "Submission"; it has no other links on its front page. Don't know what that's about.
2. The movie is pretty good if a bit heavy-handed. Keep in mind while you're watching that it consists of three different narratives.

Another mosque attack

I missed this one although it happened right under my nose (hat tip to studio mate Josje who mentioned it to me and prompted a web search):

Attack on mosque in Groningen.


GRONINGEN - Unknown individuals tried to set fire to a mosque in Groningen, using molotov cocktails last weekend.
Another house of worship was painted with slogans on Saturday night. The slogans refered to the murder of Theo van Gogh. A spokesman for mayor Wallage of Groningen confirmed this on Monday. Surveillance of buidings housing muslim organisations has been increased. No extra security for individuals is planned

From Het Nederlands Dagblad, seemingly the only Dutch paper whose cached at Google front page still linked to yesterday's edition. Untranslated text below the fold.

Continue reading "Another mosque attack" »

And another one

Breaking:
Another Islamic school has been daubed with slogans and set on fire. I didn't catch the location - more when I hear it.
Update: The fire took place in the community of Uden in Brabant, says Radio 1. The slogan refers to Theo van Gogh. A graphic that, judging from the description was probably a Maltese cross was also found on the wall.

By the way, I'm also hearing reports of violence against churches. When I posted the previous item on violence against a mosque, I got too frustrated with searching through newspaper sites to look those incidents up too. It wasn't my intention to ignore them. There's a spiral of violence going on, and my hope that Van Gogh's funeral would end it has proved unfounded.
Update: Radio mentions a Christian school in Boxmeer is burning.

November 10, 2004

Cuttles!

When I'm not webcomicking or fuzzballing, I study cuttlefish for my Honours project.

This is what my cuttlefish look like. Cuttlefish are relatives of squid and octopus (they're cephalopod molluscs).

This species, Sepia plangon, is about 10cm long and lives around Sydney, but no work has been done on it before now.

What I'm doing at the moment is making an inventory of all the behaviours they display. This includes some fantastic colour/shape and posture changes: they can go from completely black with knobbles all over them and kinked-up arms to nearly white, with black spots like eyes and a black rim around the margin, they can have a kind of black latticework pattern, or show up their pattern of white stripes against a dark background as in the photo.

Then I'll do some more serious experimenting on their reaction to stimuli from prey. Except there's a bit of a hiccup with that right now owing to them being more inclined to run away from the crabs than attack them...

I think they like to be in pairs, otherwise they get lonely and scared and eventually die.

Poor things. But they're very cute. You can watch a little video I made of them catching a fish here.

Terror raid in the Hague

A long standoff around a house in The Hague has ended at around 17:30 with the surrender of two suspected terrorists. Another one had given himself up earlier.

The standoff started early in the morning when three members of an arrest team were injured by an explosive device, probably a hand granade, upon entering the house.
At least one person was arrested in the area around the house after skirmishes broke out between bystanders. A man was arrested in Utrecht in connection with the situation.

(From listening to the radio all day) |CNN coverage (English) | report in NRC Handelsblad (Dutch). NRC also has a factsheet on Islamic schools, which someone should translate into English for the benefit of denizens of The Blog That LGFWatch Watches who refer to the schools in Uden and Eindhoven as "madrassas". Uhm, don't look at me right now.

I should point out to people reading all my alarming missives of the past few days, that these incidents take place all across the country, and that the Netherlands, while small in area, is not so small that this means that there are riots and violent outbreaks on every street. For most of us, today is a lot like yesterday. It's safe to walk the streets. But the fact that these events are happening is creeping me out a bit.

Today's raid, and public statements from the Prime Minister and (indirectly) the Queen, should calm things down a bit. The raid was part of an investigation into the network surrounding the man who killed Theo van Gogh, so the government can now credibly claim to be doing something about it. That should provide a disincentive against people taking the law in their own hands.

How high is the Euro, papa? $ 1.30 and rising

(Note: the Euro is not actually at $ 1.30 right now, but it peaked there earlier today, and is more likely to rise than fall against the dollar).
Rhona at Europhobia has a good piece without economist-speak about the US's trade deficit and why the fall of the dollar is worrying to Europeans.

November 11, 2004

"Fight Jesus with Jesus"

A good post at Legal Fiction about the role of Christian values in progressive politics, and how atheists like myself can learn to understand them. A highlight:


...try to forget what you know and start from a blank slate. Approach it from a new perspective. And here's the perspective I want you see - Christianity can be appreciated by people who don't believe in the divinity of Christ, or that don't believe in God at all. First, approach it just as you would approach studying some religious practice in a foreign country or from a past era. It's strange that so many big-hearted progressives extend so much respect to the religions of foreign cultures, but fail to extend that same respect to the exurbs of Atlanta. Second, take a hour or two one night and go read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). These four books are the foundation of all Christianity. Consider it an exercise in anthropology.

I think many of you (especially those who don't know much about the religion) will find it a fascinating insight into the minds of the Red Americans that seem so foreign. It will help you understand them. And once you understand them, you can begin to have a dialogue with them, rather than a screaming match. I went back and read them this weekend for the first time in many years. I wanted to make sure that the Jesus I remembered from childhood was the opposite of the intolerance I'm seeing today. And he was - in spades.

Again, for those of you actively hostile to American Christianity, don't read it as a religious text. Read as you would read the teachings of Plato or Emerson or Thoreau. One can be a complete atheist and still find wisdom in the words and stories. As for the miracles, treat them as parables or allegories, just as you would the Garden of Eden story (which is a beautiful work of literature and nothing more).

This resonated very strongly with me; in fact the other day I was thinking of doing something like that myself: going through the key texts of Western Monotheism from beginning to end like Dave Sim has done, and finding meaning and value where they can be found. Of course, Sim made up a weird hybrid religion out of his readings, which is one place where I don't want to go. I'm still mulling over which language to read it all in, and which translation, though.
I'm pretty sure that if and when I get around to doing this, I'll find some inspiration in it; at worst it will result in some more biblically-themed comics like When We Had Tails (OK, Geir wrote that. It's still one of my faves and I've wanted to do more like that one ever since).

Worse than Ashcroft?

It's hard to believe that the Bush administration would pick someone worse than Ashcroft to succeed him, but they seem to have managed it. Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings and Blue Bunny of Battle on the nomination.

Singer-Songwriter roundup

Rented from the public library (because I can't afford to buy as many CDs right now as I've done in the past few months):

Genius by Warren Zevon. I'm a bit disappointed by this one, to be honest. Zevon has an excellent reputation as a songwriter, but on the basis of this nearly career-spanning retrospective, I don't think he lived up to it. There are some good songs on there, especially 1988's "Boom Boom Mancini" with its bluesy touches, 1991's carnivalesque "Mr. Bad Example" and 1978's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" but like the Bruce Cockburn retrospective I rented a year or so ago, many of the songs are marred by sugary arrangements and the limitations of Zevon's voice. I'll explore his work a little further by listening to the albums that the best songs on this record came from but I don't expect to discover another artist of Richard Thompson's caliber.
Little Ship by Loudon Wainwright III. I'm a huge Loudon fan already so I was bound to like it. It's not his best: both the album's predecessor Grown man and the recent Last Man on Earth are stronger overall. The songs repeat themes Wainwright has visited time and again without adding much in the way of new ideas, and the arrangements are at times a little too clever for their own good. Indeed the two songs from Little Ship that made it to the live album So Damn Happy, "So Damn Happy" and "Primrose Hill", sound much better in the stripped-down, guitar-and-vocal version offered there. Nevertheless, Little Ship is well-crafted, pleasing to the ear and recommended for anyone who likes Wainwright's other stuff. And "What Are Families For" is a great, great song.

November 12, 2004

Holland Hate Week Clearinghouse

Tobias Schwarz at A Fistful of Euros discusses the possibility of a new pillarization of Dutch society, and links to a Timeline at Viewropa as well as an article in Slate by Scott MacMillan.
Now all we need is a factsheet clearing up some misconceptions that have been doing the rounds across the blogosphere (most notably The Blog That LGFWatch Watches, but in sane and reasonable blogs as well). I may be able to make time for that if I get my other stuff done in time. Sorry, my time for that has just been snatched away by bureaucracy.

November 13, 2004

I wanted to like Delicious Library but their website didn't like me

A writeup at Crooked Timber got me mildly interested in the book cataloguing program Delicious Library. Kieran wrote:

As Siracusa points out, an application designed to keep a catalog of your books and whatnot is fundamentally a boring idea. Yet Delicious Monster has managed to make it cool.

Unfortunately all that coolness is kept hidden away from the evidently incurably uncool eyes of viewers who use Opera for Linux. I saw this: [screenshot].
They can't be that cool if they can't even come up with a reasonably standards-compliant website to present their products in. And the Opera exclusion rankles even more now that Firefox is making it big.
Of course the program in question is for the Mac, but I wouldn't have minded a look at it. You know, in case they ever make a port for linux. D'ya reckon they will?

Whatever happened to "So you want to emigrate? Part 2"?

Every once in a while I promise or strongly imply that I will post something on this blog in the future. It's almost always something that takes a bit more legwork than a regular shooting-off of the mouth, and it's almost always a promise I end up regretting.
The second part of "So you want to emigrate?" is one of those. It's closer to real journalism than most bloggers get. I've interviewed some American expats for it. I intended, and still do, to look up some of the legislation and other problems that expats might encounter. And I just can't find the time to do it, what with ongoing work, unexpected bureaucratic requirements that I have to fulfill and other things preoccupying me right now. By the time I get around to posting it, it may no longer be relevant. But I'll do my best.
The more journalistic direction is where I want to take the blog in the long run. Once I'm able to come up for air.

My position on hate crime vs hate speech

A quick clarification of positions I've taken earlier in comment threads. This issue is undoubtedly going to come up in the context of the events of the past hate-filled week. I'm not going to elaborate that much; I just want to state where I stand.

* I am in favour of legislation against hate crimes. Motive already plays a role in the sentencing of criminals, so no new principle is introduced into legislation by punishing a crime motivated by hate against a group more harshly than one motivated by, for example, jealousy or fear against an individual. Better to formalise this rather than allow one judge to ignore the motive entirely and the other to impose harsh sentences on the basis of motive. Also, hate crimes often have the intended and actual effect of intimidating members of the hated group, and are thus a form of terrorism.
* I am against legislation against hate speech. Part of my motivation for this is that the principle of freedom of speech is an important one under the Dutch constitution and one or two others. But I also have selfish motives: I like being able to badmouth people, and if someone hates me or a group I belong to I would rather know about it than find out seconds before they slit my throat. Actual threats, on the other hand, should be actionable.

Baby gift idea request -again!

Getting away from the grim stuff of the past few weeks, my nephew will turn one year old this week! I won't be going to his party because of work (he's in England with his parents) but I do want to buy him a prezzie that my parents can deliver to him. So I spent part of this morning in various toy and baby shops looking for stuff to buy.
I like toy shops. I get to look at a lot of things that I don't normally see, and it's fun to try and see the goods through the eyes of a small child. Last time I needed to buy a gift, at the time of my nephew's christening, he was 5 months old and mostly interested in purely tactile things. Now, it seems, he's expected to have moved beyond that towards sorting games and other things that pose more of a challenge to his mind. And looking at those toys, and the hammering sets that he's still slightly too young for, actually triggered some memories that may be of myself whacking wooden shapes into a board with a little mallet, or of watching my brother do the same — it's hard to tell.
I visited Asbran, an alternative toy shop best known for its impressive selection of wooden toys (last time, I bought a tactile picture book there that my nephew loved). These are great, but very expensive. For older kids - up to the age of 33 - they also have a great selection of figurines: animals, knights, Egyptian gods, dinosaurs. If I had money to spare for that sort of stuff, I'd have walked off with my hands full of them.
I also went to Prenatal, Toys'R'Us and a kids' clothing store. I'm quite happy to buy my nephew a winter jacket, but would need to check with his parents for his measurements and his needs first. At Toys'R'Us, I found something that my nephew would enjoy: a walker/pushchair with wood blocks in it. Last time I saw him, two months ago, he was constantly trying to push himself up on chairs, coffee tables, people, anything that could support him. He's a stout little fellow but his balance is not so good yet.
I've got until Wednesday to decide yet, so there's still time to lend my ear to those of you who are parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents or nosy neighbours: what would you advise for a boy who's turning one?

Theodor Kittelsen

Using the blog to replace my long term memory: a few years ago, Geir sent me a link to work by Theodor Kittelsen, one of Norway's most popular illustrators. I was reminded of his work while reviewing the latest Finntroll album (still in heavy rotation in my Diskman) a few weeks back. All Finntroll albums feature "Trollistration" by band member Skrymer who is obviously influenced by Kittelsen.
I liked the art Geir showed me but could never remember his name. Fortunately I still know how to google. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that I will eventually write a spinoff of Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan involving trolls.
Small gallery of Kittelsen's work
Mini-portal to a bunch of trollistrators.
Gallery of troll art by... someone. Jon Bauer?

November 14, 2004

Montana's Jackson Pollock

Publius at Legal Fiction argues that the American political spectrum isn't a straight line going from far-left to far-right but resembles instead a Jackson Pollock painting (painted in non-Euclidean space from the sound of it) and looks at the election of one Democratic governor in Montana to argue how working with that fact can lead to electibility. A good read.

Deep Purple - Burn (remastered, vinyl)

My vinyl copy of the remastered version of Burn (Amazon UK link) has finally arrived. The point of the remaster program was to put out CD editions that sound better compared to the original CD editions released between 1984 and 1990 (many of which sounded appaling), and getting a vinyl edition to replace a pretty decent and not yet worn vinyl pressing sort of defeats the purpose. But what the hell, I like vinyl, it's a Deep Purple album, and I wasn't going to get the CD ShinyDisk for reasons I wrote about earlier.
The 2LP edition isn't as lavishly packaged as the CD ShinyDisk, but it has all the historical information and photos on the inner sleeves. No lyrics, alas. The disks are solid to the touch but not as heavy as I like them. It's a good, clean pressing free of noises in the lead-in groove.
Musically, of course, it's all familiar stuff. This music has been with me for the better part of two decades. It's not sophisticated songwriting, but the band had a powerful, driving hard rock sound with elements of big band swing in Ian Paice's drumming and classical touches from guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord. A new departure at the time of release were the double vocals from new bassist Glenn Hughes and new lead vocalist David Coverdale (later to make a big pillock of himself in Whitesnake). Hughes' voice was high and soulful (at least on studio recordings - live, he'd often over-scream himself); Coverdale's dark and smoky. This took the music in a more bluesy direction although the title track and "You Fool No One" still qualify as out and out rockers that wouldn't have been out of place on earlier records. It's great stuff.
The remastered edition doesn't sound too different (on vinyl at least) from the original — a little more mellow perhaps.
The second disk contains four remixes of tracks on the album, plus a remixed non-album track. Splitting the remixes off from the body of the record is a great idea. They now make for a short album in their own right instead of a bunch of bonus tracks tacked on to the end, coming up after you've just heard the original versions. Ant they're very listenable. The changes aren't great - the remixers have shot for mostly matching remixes using new technology to improve clarity rather than for revisions like with the Machine Head remix disk (Amazon UK link). No alternate solos here — just slightly improved sound and some changes to beginnings and endings. Nice work; I'll be playing it regularly.

November 15, 2004

Rásdondr!

serfdom307-excerpt.pngJudging from the responses in the forum and on IRC, the good Professor Rásdondr and the stories he's tellin' as part of his testimony are quite popular! Myself, I'm in two minds about him. He's fun to write, his stories come out funny, but writing him makes me feel a bit hypocritical: I've repeatedly decried the use of the Mad Scientist meme on this blog, and while Rásdondr doesn't in fact Meddle With Things Man Was Not Meant To Know (indeed I imagine him as being a well-respected authority in his field and initially wrote in some more stuff about him working in such important areas as the Heron Improvement and Breeding Program, before scrapping it due to space considerations), he's clearly daft as a broom in his own unique way. I apologise; mad scientist characters are just too much fun to write!
So now one reader in the forum is asking for more of him, and for a look at his half-elven assistants. The bad news here is that it's all I can do to keep this monstrosity of a story from eating me alive already, and the only way I can allow any deviations from the general outline is if I have panels to fill on a page before an obvious cliffhanger or punchline.
Not only that but I am now actively looking for things to cut from the existing archives. I am also looking for things to insert (a good overview of the city between the first two chapters would improve the story's sense of location tremendously) and things to tweak (bits of dialogue that are misspelled, badly lettered word balloons, visual continuity details that need to be fixed, drawings that are just plain ugly), but I now think that the existing material can do with some tightening. I'm specifically thinking of the scenes in the jail involving Spig, Bonfire and Clydesdale - those are moderately funny but were primarily added to interrupt the Jodoque/Green Knight sequences, in the hope that that would improve the pacing and build suspense in serialisation. Right now, I don't think they were succesful at that.
Of course, one or two moderately important things happened during those scenes, and it remains to be seen whether the story as a whole can do without those.

Dangerous and Fluffy Moves to Monday-Friday (for now)

For the next two weeks or so, Dangerous and Fluffy goes bi-weekly, updating both Monday and Friday with big difficult comics. In other news, Timmerryn is godly. Enjoy!

November 16, 2004

Was it Pim or William?

A KRO contest picking the greatest Dutchman ever returned Pim Fortuyn yesterday, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the not completely stupid. But wait! There were some problems with the phone lines, and apparently a recount including late-arriving votes has returned William of Orange (the first, not the guy who married the English chick) instead, Radio 1 reports.
We'll hear more tomorrow, I'm sure. We're a bit short on Important Issues to Go Into a Murderous Rage About lately.
For what it's worth, though, the votes counted before the end of the final TV show make up the official results. Those gave Fortuyn 115,000 votes to William's 111,000 - a very meager mandate. The unofficial count is William 161,000 - Fortuyn 130,000.

For comparison: in similar contests, the British picked Winston Churchill and the Germans Konrad Adenauer. Surely those will have been the subject of heated debate, but they do indicate that our neighbours haven't taken leave of their senses yet.

Something to learn from

Eric Burns of the fantastic Websnark posts a long and devastating critique of the recent storylines in General Protection Fault which raises some concerns that I also have about my own comic, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. Pinpointing the start of what he sees as GPF's decline, he writes of the storylines "The Flood" (which I read at the time) and "Surreptitious Machinations" (which I'm afraid I still haven't read):

Continue reading "Something to learn from" »

November 17, 2004

Speaking of droning on...

Funny how a drum solo could seem fleeting in 1970. Funnier still how time flies except when you're listening to that same drum solo 34 years later.
--Ian Anderson, in the sleeve notes to Live at the Isle of Wight 1970. I won't be buying this one until it becomes a lot cheaper, but I thought I'd let the Tullies in my readership know it's out.

November 19, 2004

Busy as a bee could be, could be

Floor, season 4, page 6, panel 1Blogging has been light lately because I've been trying to get ahead on ROCR again while at the same time drawing a page of Floor, the sixth of the fourth season. Drawing Floor always takes me a lot of time because it requires more careful work than ROCR does.
Oh, and teaching. I did a two-hour workshop on Wednesday, and was pretty useless the rest of the day. I had some paperwork to fill in, but even that was too hard in the state I was in, so I got a deadline extension.

second panel
The Floor page turned out rather nicely, though. Easy on the eye without being dull. There's a strong Robert van der Kroft influence in how I draw the buildings in those two panels, and in the poses and proportions of the characters.

Fell, adj. : evil, ferocious

Via Father of the Earth-Pig Born:
Something Fell is a long series of reviews/critiques/summaries of Cerebus starting with book 1 and slogging through all the books through to the end. Lacking in critical depth, but full of detail, and good enough to serve as a kind of Cliff Notes for those of you who'd rather skip the Torah exegesis.

November 22, 2004

Thor

I don't read superhero comics as a rule (I've been looking at a few Batman titles provided by a studio-mate, because he's a visually and psychologically appealing character when done right — but even in my studio-mate's selection he's rarely ever done right. Coincidentally, Alexander Danner asked about Batman on the Modern Tales mailing list just as I had finally broken down and asked my studio mate for some of the best Batbooks), but I'm sure one or two readers of/contributors to this blog will be interested in reading this review of The Mighty Thor #80-85 at The Hurting (scroll down to read the review). Thor is another potentially appealing character who's rarely done right. Hell, any Norse God would be a good superhero character, as would many Greek, Celtic, Egyptian or Elder gods. And it looks like the series's current writer knows it:

Thor is probably the hardest character out of the classic Marvel pantheon to do well. Just look at how many mediocre-to-bad Thor comics have been published in the many decades since Kirby left Marvel. Walt Simonson’s run is almost twenty years old. I am happy to report that Michael Avon Oeming and Andrea DiVito have produced the best Thor story since Simonson left the book all those years ago.

The key to their success has been a whole-hearted embrace of the icky mythological elements that compose the character’s backbone. Instead of playing up the superhero aspect, they chose to accentuate the character’s cosmic fantasy elements. That, as much as anything, grants the character a semblance of dignity that many of his peers could never hope to evoke. Sure, most of the fantasy elements in Thor are silly on the face of them, just as with the superhero elements – but when done well, they carry the imprimatur of Kirby’s indefinable cosmic grandeur as well as the source myths’ historical pedigree. Tellingly, this story stays closer to the actual myths than most Marvel interpretations of myth, including some of the gruesome depictions of Odin’s trials and death.

"Disinvest from Sudan"

Hearing about the genocide in Darfur has always made me despair. What with the UN hidebound and toothless, the EU unwilling to even use the G-word and the US and its most powerful allies having their hands full in Iraq (would that they had spared their guns for Sudan, a continuing hotspot of islamic fundamentalism, religous/ethnic warfare and ethnic cleansing whose leadership is thick as thieves with Osama Bin Laden), it really looks like the world is just going to let the killing happen. Johann Hari, looking at corporate complicity in the genocide, argues that there is at least one thing that citizens and organisations can do: force the corporations that provide Sudan with the means to kill its people to divest from Sudan. This may seem over-optimistic, but he notes that it has worked before:


...the only group that has effectively lobbied against the genocidal regime in Khartoum has been the red-state Christian evangelicals in the US. They lobbied hard for an oil embargo against Sudan, so US dollars were not used to slaughter their fellow Christians. Uber-moralistic religion clashed with raw amoral markets, and - incredibly - the Bush administration sided with the evangelicals against the oil companies. As a result, since 2000, no US oil company has been allowed to operate within Sudan, to their fury. Peace [in that area, at least —RD] has finally prevailed. This shows what can happen when the Sudanese government is subject to serious economic penalties for its crimes.

The US is lobbying hard for the UN to impose similar international oil sanctions to stop the genocide in Darfur. (The evangelicals are much less worried about slaughtered Muslims, but they believe the chaos might spill over into the south). This is being flatly opposed by China - which receives a quarter of its oil supplies from Sudan - and Russia. These two authoritarian governments are vandalising any attempt to deal with this genocide through the United Nations.

It seems nobody is prepared to choke off the corporate fuel for the holocaust in Darfur....So what do we do - lie back and watch the first genocide of the 21st century scythe through Darfur unhindered?

There is an alternative. Professor Eric Reeves is an expert on the murder of black Darfurians. He explains: "The only way to stop this genocide now is for a mass campaign to force multinationals to disinvest from Sudan. During the apartheid era in South Africa, the divestment movement was an immensely powerful force in breaking down this system of racial discrimination. We can do the same today."

Through our pensions plans, our universities and our stock portfolios, we in Europe own most of the companies providing the hard cash for this genocide. If our governments fail to act to end genocide, the responsibility falls to us. Go to www.divestsudan.org to find out how, practically, we can act to deprive the Janjaweed militias of money and arms, just as we throttled apartheid.


The downside to this approach is that, as people remember from the end days of Apartheid, it takes a long time, during which the killing will continue. But if there's no hope of defeating the Sudanese dictatorship through military means or official sanctions, it's up to ordinary citizens to do what we can.

Damn those headaches!

I woke up this morning with a headache. I'm trying to fight it with paracetamol and coffee (my coffee consumption has slowly crept back to the level it was before I tried to quit, so having gone a whole weekend without it resulted in renewed withdrawal symptoms) but it's taking me some time to get the brain into gear again.
I want to draw five Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episodes this week, write a new episode of Floor and update my financial records, so I could have used a better start to the week than I have had. If I spend the day posting new items to the blog, that means I won't have got myself in a fit shape to write and draw — but it's better than spending the day in bed with a splitting headache.

Metal CD roundup

Working my way up to getting some proper writing done on this day of low productivity...

A while ago I noticed that having some good, nasty metal music on the discman helped me focus on my work better. To test that, I went to the library and rented four metal CDs. All of them were recorded after 1995, had promisingly tasteless cover art and had a name and reputation that I was familiar with. Unfortunately, that didn't stop them from being mostly awful, making this experiment a failure (that is, I still don't know if metal is better at keeping me focused on my work than other genres because I found listening to them too much of a chore to play the records repeatedly while working).

Beyond the Veil by Tristania is weepy Goth-metal mixing grunted male vocals with an operatic female soprano. There wouldn't be much wrong with that if the group, like many other weepy Goth-metal groups, hadn't forgotten to write coherent, comprehensible songs and resorted to stringing together riffs and fragments of music. I don't expect John Hiatt-level songwriting in a metal record, but I do have some minimal standards. Bleah.

Stratovarius, who had been recommended to me in the past, do have coherent songs, but that didn't make Elements pt.2 any less of a chore to listen to. If I'm in the mood to put on a metal album, the last thing I want to hear is life-affirming, optimistic lyrics. I want anger, hate and agression; get with the lootin', pillagin' and settin' fire to churches already! Seriously, Stratovarius' sub-Helloween Happy Metal got on my nerves. A lot. So did the guitar solos. I'd have enjoyed this one when I was 14 years old, but now it just sounds empty and air-headed.

Pro-bot by Dave Grohl and guests, is better. It's a tribute to the underground heavy metal of the 1980s with a wide range of vocalists from that era providing lyrics and vocals to music that Grohl wrote especially for them. It does emulate the pedestrian playing and indifferent production quality that I remember from 1980s underground metal, and some of the guest contributors are reduced to schtick — Lemmy from Motörhead in particular sounds like a shadow of his former self in "Shake Your Blood". Even Lemmy's bass playing sounds thin and distant. But it has some memorable songs, particularly "Ice Cold Man" with Napalm Death's Lee Dorrian guesting. It sounds more like Soundgarden than Napalm Death, but that's a good thing. In all, a decent effort that I could bear to play again.

Finally, Godless Savage Garden by Dimmu Borgir is an odd one. It's got a couple of re-recorded songs from a previous album, some live stuff and a ridiculous cover version of Accept's "Metal Heart". The live tracks are a blinding racket, worth listening to only for the opportunity to hear the "singer" pronounce the band's name. The studio tracks, however, are more disciplined and worth listening to. In fact, they energised me rather nicely and came closest to realising my aim of having some music to keep me awake and focused while working. That Accept cover is really really silly, though, especially the interpolation of one of the most appalling pieces of kitch found in the classical canon: Für Elise. I wonder if that was in the original. It's kept from going over the thin line between the clever and the stupid by the sheer apblomb with which it's delivered. I should probably have picked a later Dimmu Borgir album (indeed, I've got one album in MP3 format courtesy of head-banging buddy Danny), but the first five tracks on this one were quite enjoyable.

November 23, 2004

Counter-stickers

Via Peteychap:
Someone at Swarthmore University has created a batch of counter-disclaimer stickers to put in science textbooks.


This book discusses heliocentrism, that the earth orbits around a centrally located sun. Because astronomers still disagree over the details of the heliocentric model, this material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

They forgot to do stickers for gravity, Mendelian genetics and the germ theory of disease, though.

Deficits

Electing a president named Bush is bad for your country's financial health. (Hat tip: Danny)

How high is the Euro, papa?

$ 1.31 and rising. And some people are getting a wee bit pessimistic. (link via Atrios)

November 24, 2004

Clickburg

Clickburg is the website of a new comics convention to be held in Tilburg, the Netherlands. I can't find the date for the convention on the website yet, but Ren� van Densen who occasionally comments here is one of the organisers so he'll undoubtedly tell me.
What makes this convention special is that it's a European convention dedicated to webcomics - Dutch ones specifically, although that may change eventually (I rather hope it does, to include Belgian/German/Scandinavian web artists as well, because I think the focus on Dutch work is too narrow. But these guys may prove me wrong on that).
I've been thinking about reorienting myself to the European market these past few months, because I've been less than succesful at getting money out of American readers, and the money that I do make is devaluing by the week. I needs me some hard Euros! So it's important to have my eyes open to events like this one, which may help me reintroduce myself to the creative community and readers on the home front. I'll be there, unless they plan it on a completely impossible day.
Update: Serves me right for not checking the stripped-down URL. I had found the site because an internal page linked to rocr.net. I've now changed the URL to an internal welcome page that at least shows you the forum and placeholder links for the other stuff they want to incorporate.
Update to the update: In the comments, Ren� asks me to link to the splash page again, because the site is still very much in development. I won't do that, because this whole entry wouldn't make any sense if I did, but I will note that all contents may change and the link I do use may stop working. For what it's worth, I found the site through ROCR.net's referrals, so people are already reading it.

Interesting

Reader Mithandir pointed this out to me. I've been looking at the rise of the Euro against the US dollar, which should give Americans and Europeans alike the willies for different reasons. But the Euro is actually losing value against the Canadian dollar — the graph is almost a mirror image of that pitting the Euro against the USD. (saved images below the cut, in case something changes)

Continue reading "Interesting" »

It's the meat of a pig, right? So do they ship it to deadbeat states?

... when I first started reading about American politics, I had to have the concept of pork barrel spending explained to me. I'm sure what Ed Brayton proposes - to change the legislative process so that a law can address one issue and one issue only - is how it's done, uhm, everywhere.

November 25, 2004

Oooh!

Well, it looks like Ursula Vernon is in a new comic magazine, Quixotica. I'm certainly excited by it, and have already placed my order. - It looks to be really good!

Thanksgiving

We don't do Thanksgiving around these here parts, but what the hell, I'll join in. I'm thankful that I'm not working for a boss, or commuting two hours a day. Even on a bad day when I temporarily hate the path I've chosen, I can always remind myself of what that was like.
I'm thankful to have people reading my comics, and reading this blog - and that those of you who came to the blog through the comics page put up with me.
I'm thankful for social democracy, whose safety nets made quitting my job possible. I'm thankful for entrepreneurs like Joey Manley, because people like him will enable me to go on with this career.
I'm thankful for the Koga Miyata, which is a joy to ride even on my short nighttime commute. I'm especially thankful for its functional lights whose cables are mounted securely into the frame, because having those helped me avoid a € 25 fine the other day (as well as keeping me safe on treacherous roads).
I'm thankful that my 63-year-old mom knows what "LOL" means, but more thankful that she doesn't overuse it.
(I'll update this if I can think of more)

How high is the Euro, papa?

$ 1.32 and rising.
Well the Euro's price's rising higher and higher
Soon our exports won't have no buyer
Looks like them Russkies will fuel the fire,
$ 1.32 and rising.

Vaclav Havel for UN SecGen?

Sign me up. If he feels fit enough to do it and actually wants the job, he's my man.

November 26, 2004

UK Webcomix thing

The other day I talked to Adam about Clickburg, because he's interested in going there. He mentioned that he didn't think there were any such conventions in the UK... I mentioned Caption which is downright venerable if small in scale and creator-oriented, but didn't mention UK Web and Mini Comics Thing which is probably more interesting for web-oriented folk.


Confirmed: The UK Web & Mini Comix Thing 2005 will go ahead on Saturday March 19 2005 at the Great Hall, Mile End. We are now looking for exhibitors, organisers, sponsors and people to draw the artwork for the event.

GOSH!!!: Gosh!!!, Gosh! have decided to sponsor the thing for a second year!!!! Not only are they sponsoring the event but they'll be exhibiting and making a fantastic collection of good quality comic books available on the day as well. More to come!!!

The 24 Minute Comic!!!: There will be a 24 minute comic event run by Ade Brown on the day. Ade is taking names now for the 24 individuals or teams to take part now. Each team will have 24 minutes to draw a page based on certain keywords. At the end of the 24 minutes the pages are collected, collated & printed and will be on sale by 4pm. Check out the attractions page for more details!!!! Or e-mail Ade now!!!

How high is the Euro, papa?

$ 1.33 and rising.
Well the dollar's gotten into free fall,
It's gettin' hard to keep track of it all
I'll make Amazon my shopping mall.
$ 1.33 and rising.

November 27, 2004

"Boobgate" actress has blog, swears like trooper.

Actress Georgina Verbaan, whose breasts have dominated the less serious side of the Dutch media for the past couple of days, has a weblog, which is actually a pretty good read. Of course, scurrilous tongues will soon suggest that it's actually written by her publicist, doing his impression of the untutored but lively writer that people would imagine Georgina to be; but a woman who will go as far as to have a mammogram to prove her breasts are real won't have any problem shutting those scurrilous tongues up.
Anyway, there are only a few entries but if she continues blogging after the scandal dies down, it could become one to come back to regularly.

And before I knew it she grabbed my left breast, pushed it onto a machine and started twirling a knob so that a plate came down. Yes, down, onto my breast. I thought it couldn't go any further down and decided to ask: "This must be about as far asaaaaaaaaaoooooooow!!!?" With gritted teeth and a sweaty brow I looked down, and through the transparent plastic I saw an, uhm, EGG CAKE? My dear breasty had changed into a big puddle of flat tit! This couldn't be right - if I didn't have any lumps before then, uh...

(A young woman's first mammogram. Original quote below the fold)
Georgina can also swear like a trooper which this country needs desperately right now. I'm not going to translate that though.

Continue reading ""Boobgate" actress has blog, swears like trooper." »

Money stuff

Today, I'm taking most of the day off from drawing to do money stuff: sending bills, writing a cover letter for one of the bills, filling out forms, signing my Hello You! contract which arrived belatedly a few weeks ago (not their fault - they sent me one in May but it never arrived. But it's a bit odd to sign a contract for work that is two-thirds done and one-thirds printed) — boring stuff like that.
I'm itching to get back to the drawing board because I'm drawing next week's Grimborg sequence. It's taken me many months to get out of the court, and the new scenery and visual focus of the next sequence is a breath of fresh air to me. But the boring money stuff comes first.

November 28, 2004

I wanted to like CSS positioning, but CSS Positioning IE didn't like me

Many years ago, I developed websites for a living. I wasn't, truth be told, very good at it, but it was the tech boom and a chimpanzee could get a web design/development job if it managed to hit the < sign half the time.
One thing I found out back in 1998/1999 was that while CSS was great for avoiding "tag soup" HTML code in which your code was cluttered with <font> tags, it was unusable for positioning.
Since then, a lot has changed, right? After all, Moveable Type uses default CSS templates which also position the blocks of text, and there are many nifty websites that demonstrate perfect, swappable CSS positioning. Surely it's come of age?
Well, yes, if you ignore crappy old not-updated-substantially-since-2000-but-still-used-by-80%-of-all-web-users IE. Creating CSS positioning that works in Opera, Konqueror, Firefox, what have you has become really easy. All you need to do is swipe some code from a tutorial page like this one and modify it. If you want it to work in IE, though, you'd better not change a jot nor a tittle, or you'll find yourself banging your head against a wall trying to figure out what broke. I used the code from that tutorial site (because the CSS code in Moveable Type's templates is complicated), modified to fit my needs, in a new About Page for ROCR. I don't have IE at home but it looked fine in Opera, Firefox and Konqueror. So I thought, "let's ask my friend Mithandir if it looks good in IE", and sent him the URL, thinking that there might be a few trivial little problems. Several hours later, we still hadn't found a way to fix the broken left margin and sidebar position — at least not one that didn't break it for Mozilla/KHTML-based browsers. And Mithandir's web design skills considerately exceed those of a chimpansee so it's not just me.
Because we both have lives, I eventually gave up and made a version using tables. I also had quite a bit of content for the page to finish, so I had no more time to spend on the CSS implementation.
But I hate giving up. Does anyone reading this know how to make this CSS setup behave?

November 29, 2004

Doing an Arafat

The Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst is emphatically denying that Prince Bernhard is dying. Presumably, royalty-watchers are already updating their obituary files.

Seriously, I was hoping the old rogue would live to be a supercentenarian. He's a colorful figure, one of few in the Royal family with a brain of his own, and one whose opportunism was always good for a story or two. No wonder he recently became the subject of a biographical comic although having seen it in the shops I can't recommend it. The authors of that comic are very lucky to be putting it out at a time when the Prince is in the news so much.

welcome Cleveland, on this sunday afternoon

It was probably afternoon in Cleveland, but we were several thousand miles away in Groningen, where it was, in fact, night. Weary of touring, probably, Rachel Nagy, lead singer of retro garage rock band the Detroit Cobras greeted the audience thus, with a wink and a smile, and a puff of her cigarette. Smoking incessantly, drinking steadily and looking almost bored, her performance was nevertheless entertaining. The Detroit Cobras are a coverband playing '50's Rock 'n Roll and Soul in their unique garage rock way. Standing there looking so blas� I sometimes wondered how Rachel Nagy would sound when actually interested in singing: though her attitude is more likely a pose and her singing was pretty amazing as it was. At times raw, sometimes suave, often beautiful.
In that light it is worth mentioning the opening act of the evening, studio-mate Josje's band the Monroes. Same genre, '50's and '60's inspired Garage Rock, Josje's voice has less range than Rachel Nagy's, though is somewhat sexier. Also Josje's stage appearance is far more enthousiastic. That she's having fun on stage was obvious and this being their first major gig, they did great. If the Monroes manage to get their sound right, they'll be a band to watch. Go Josje!

Rásdondr's testimony temporarily free

As part of my ad campaign on Clan of the Cats, and also partly as a favour to readers who have been away for the thanksgiving weekend, I've made the last few comics free. You can catch up with Rásdondr's testimony starting here.
I wouldn't mind seeing some screenshots of Clan of the Cats pages with the ad on them! I'll probably make them myself, but hey, if you could send me some, please do. I'd be most obliged.

November 30, 2004

Shaun of the Dead

I'm feeling too much like a zombie myself to write about this at any length right now, but Jeroen and I watched Shaun of the Dead ("A romantic comedy. With zombies") on DVD last night, and gave it two thumbs and two big toes up, each. That's a lot of digits in the air. It's a funny, well-written, well-shot movie that was just what we needed because both of us are under the weather. It's very English, by the way, which means that it was full of normal-to-ugly looking people, the group that was fighting off the zombies didn't do anything outrageously stupid until the stress started getting to them (despite the fact that one character is pretty damned stupid — his stupidity is believable), nobody knew how to handle a gun and British idiom were used throughout.

About November 2004

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in November 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2004 is the previous archive.

December 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.34