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September 2006 Archives

September 2, 2006

Joey Manley could use some help keeping the TAC forum spam-free

The Talk About Comics forums are once again being overwhelmed on a regular basis, by spambots hiding behind Telefonica's lack of real anti-spam policies. Telefonica de España does have an Acceptable Use Policy but to my knowledge, its enforcement is still a joke.
What Joey wants to know:

There's a flood of fake phpBB user sessions, coming from numerous different IP addresses, crashing the whole server every few hours.

Probably spambots.

Fellow admins: any thoughts on solving this?

Note that I tried my best to install bad behavior, but its header-pushing ways conflicted with sessions.php and page_header.php no matter what I tried.

A large number of the spambots seem to have IP addresses that resolved to:


I know that Reinder has banned an entire ISP or two before, but I don't know how to do this. Any help?

So if anyone can help him make Bad Behavior work on PHPBB and/or keep the varmints out through PHPBB's regular banning system, please drop him a line.

And I could use some fact-checking: Am I right in supposing that Telefonica de Espana are still as bad as ever when it comes to dealing with spam, or have they cleaned up their act in the past few years? I'll be doing my own research, but if you have ready knowledge, please contact me.

September 3, 2006


Over the past few days, my body has once again been commandeered by the Revolutionary Society of Viral Entities for the Production of Lots and Lots of Snot. I stayed at home on Saturday, but am on the mend now. I managed to get a bit of work done on Sunday.
While toiling away in the studio, I was reassured to find studio-mate Jelena coming in coughing and wheezing and telling me she'd been sick for a few days. Evidently this was going around even though I hadn't noticed it. Not that I got it from her, mind - she hasn't been in the studio much lately.
The next short Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story, a short little thing called Devil may be delayed by a day. Feral will start on schedule, though, on September 11.

September 5, 2006

[Adam Cuerden] If you will kindly read a bit further....

One popular "problem with evolution" that Creationists and Intelligent Design Advocates love to bring up is the problem of the evolution of the eye. For instance,

"To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree."

...Oh, drat. I seem to have accidentally quoted the introduction to DARWIN'S EXPLANATION OF HOW IT COULD EVOLVE instead of a creationist tract. So, let's see what Darwin has to say:

"Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.

In looking for the gradations by which an organ in any species has been perfected, we ought to look exclusively to its lineal ancestors; but this is scarcely ever possible, and we are forced in each case to look to species of the same group, that is to the collateral descendants from the same original parent-form, in order to see what gradations are possible, and for the chance of some gradations having been transmitted from the earlier stages of descent, in an unaltered or little altered condition. Amongst existing Vertebrata, we find but a small amount of gradation in the structure of the eye, and from fossil species we can learn nothing on this head. In this great class we should probably have to descend far beneath the lowest known fossiliferous stratum to discover the earlier stages, by which the eye has been perfected.

In the Articulata we can commence a series with an optic nerve merely coated with pigment, and without any other mechanism; and from this low stage, numerous gradations of structure, branching off in two fundamentally different lines, can be shown to exist, until we reach a moderately high stage of perfection. In certain crustaceans, for instance, there is a double cornea, the inner one divided into facets, within each of which there is a lens shaped swelling. In other crustaceans the transparent cones which are coated by pigment, and which properly act only by excluding lateral pencils of light, are convex at their upper ends and must act by convergence; and at their lower ends there seems to be an imperfect vitreous substance. With these facts, here far too briefly and imperfectly given, which show that there is much graduated diversity in the eyes of living crustaceans, and bearing in mind how small the number of living animals is in proportion to those which have become extinct, I can see no very great difficulty (not more than in the case of many other structures) in believing that natural selection has converted the simple apparatus of an optic nerve merely coated with pigment and invested by transparent membrane, into an optical instrument as perfect as is possessed by any member of the great Articulate class.

He who will go thus far, if he find on finishing this treatise that large bodies of facts, otherwise inexplicable, can be explained by the theory of descent, ought not to hesitate to go further, and to admit that a structure even as perfect as the eye of an eagle might be formed by natural selection, although in this case he does not know any of the transitional grades. His reason ought to conquer his imagination; though I have felt the difficulty far too keenly to be surprised at any degree of hesitation in extending the principle of natural selection to such startling lengths."

-Origin of Species, Chapter 6

Alright, yes, he skims over the explanation. He could have done a better job going through the path from light-detecting spot - light detecting spot in a low pit to allow directionality, pit closes off into sphere, providing pinhole camera focus, development of rudimentary lens, etc. But the explanation is there. And, since they are choosing an example Darwin himself brought up as a seeming difficulty in his theory that isn't, it becomes clear that whoever in Creation Science popularised that difficulty HAD READ DARWIN, and thus KNEW HE HAD AN EXPLANATION FOR IT, but decided they didn't care, and so brought it up.

What makes it all the more infuriating is that even people who should know better say that Darwin was unable to explain it. Take this review of Dawkins' latest book:

Review of Climbing Mount Improbable, by Valerous Geist. "Charles Darwin admitted he was stumped to explain its evolution. However, what Darwin couldn't do, Mr. Dawkins can. Chapter 5 explains, step by step, the evolution eyes. It is a masterpiece. Like much of this book, this chapter was screened by colleagues who had the expertise to insure accuracy, and whose help Mr. Dawkins properly acknowledges."

Darwin was quite able to do it. He didn't, perhaps, do it well, and Dawkins in all likelihood explains it better. But HE DID IT.

Hell, Darwin even deals with how some organs can change function, going through a transitory form in which both functions are done by the same organ, before the new one dominates. Which explains away many of the other Creationist supposed evidences against evolution:

We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. Numerous cases could be given amongst the lower animals of the same organ performing at the same time wholly distinct functions; thus the alimentary canal respires, digests, and excretes in the larva of the dragon-fly and in the fish Cobites. In the Hydra, the animal may be turned inside out, and the exterior surface will then digest and the stomach respire. In such cases natural selection might easily specialise, if any advantage were thus gained, a part or organ, which had performed two functions, for one function alone, and thus wholly change its nature by insensible steps. Two distinct organs sometimes perform simultaneously the same function in the same individual; to give one instance, there are fish with gills or branchiae that breathe the air dissolved in the water, at the same time that they breathe free air in their swimbladders, this latter organ having a ductus pneumaticus for its supply, and being divided by highly vascular partitions. In these cases, one of the two organs might with ease be modified and perfected so as to perform all the work by itself, being aided during the process of modification by the other organ; and then this other organ might be modified for some other and quite distinct purpose, or be quite obliterated.

The illustration of the swimbladder in fishes is a good one, because it shows us clearly the highly important fact that an organ originally constructed for one purpose, namely flotation, may be converted into one for a wholly different purpose, namely respiration. The swimbladder has, also, been worked in as an accessory to the auditory organs of certain fish, or, for I do not know which view is now generally held, a part of the auditory apparatus has been worked in as a complement to the swimbladder. All physiologists admit that the swimbladder is homologous, or 'ideally similar,' in position and structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals: hence there seems to me to be no great difficulty in believing that natural selection has actually converted a swimbladder into a lung, or organ used exclusively for respiration.

I can, indeed, hardly doubt that all vertebrate animals having true lungs have descended by ordinary generation from an ancient prototype, of which we know nothing, furnished with a floating apparatus or swimbladder. We can thus, as I infer from Professor Owen's interesting description of these parts, understand the strange fact that every particle of food and drink which we swallow has to pass over the orifice of the trachea, with some risk of falling into the lungs, notwithstanding the beautiful contrivance by which the glottis is closed. In the higher Vertebrata the branchiae have wholly disappeared the slits on the sides of the neck and the loop-like course of the arteries still marking in the embryo their former position. But it is conceivable that the now utterly lost branchiae might have been gradually worked in by natural selection for some quite distinct purpose: in the same manner as, on the view entertained by some naturalists that the branchiae and dorsal scales of Annelids are homologous with the wings and wing-covers of insects, it is probable that organs which at a very ancient period served for respiration have been actually converted into organs of flight.

In considering transitions of organs, it is so important to bear in mind the probability of conversion from one function to another, that I will give one more instance. Pedunculated cirripedes have two minute folds of skin, called by me the ovigerous frena, which serve, through the means of a sticky secretion, to retain the eggs until they are hatched within the sack. These cirripedes have no branchiae, the whole surface of the body and sack, including the small frena, serving for respiration. The Balanidae or sessile cirripedes, on the other hand, have no ovigerous frena, the eggs lying loose at the bottom of the sack, in the well-enclosed shell; but they have large folded branchiae. Now I think no one will dispute that the ovigerous frena in the one family are strictly homologous with the branchiae of the other family; indeed, they graduate into each other. Therefore I do not doubt that little folds of skin, which originally served as ovigerous frena, but which, likewise, very slightly aided the act of respiration, have been gradually converted by natural selection into branchiae, simply through an increase in their size and the obliteration of their adhesive glands. If all pedunculated cirripedes had become extinct, and they have already suffered far more extinction than have sessile cirripedes, who would ever have imagined that the branchiae in this latter family had originally existed as organs for preventing the ova from being washed out of the sack?

But I digress. My point is that using the eye as evidence against evolution, as well as several other "problems" would appear to stem from a downright dishonest use of Darwin's text, taking the very difficulties Darwin explains away, but realising that others would, as Darwin clearly says, find them difficult, decided in their pompous morality that they knew best, that their goals were right, and if they had to be immoral, but would keep others from believing evolution by being so, then they would gladly do it for the supposed greater good.

And that logic makes me sick.


Aaaand we've launched another new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story. Devil could well be the year's earliest Halloween story - I needed a short filler storyline for this week, this is what came out, and I will not be able to schedule it closer to Halloween, because that wasn't what the story was for.

I haven't done a lot of two-pagers in my life. I prepared for this one by reading the first Gilles de Geus book, "De Spaanse Furie". Re-reading the two-pagers in that collection after many years made me realise that they were really very simple stories, and that's how this one turned out as well. Good. I've not been feeling well, so as a reader I appreciate the benefits of being able to turn my brain off for a while, more than I used to. Not that making this story didn't involve a great amount of mental effort, you'll understand.

"Devil" is set in the Gang's early days, some time after Headsmen. In a way, ROCR is now two comics - it's both the very traditional humorous adventure comic it started out as, and the more complex, epic comic the storylines of the past five or six years grew into. I like doing the big epics, but I also love revisiting the simpler world of the comic's early days.

O RLY owl plush toy!

I have designed a soft toy of the famous O RLY owl.

I'm now collecting pre-orders via the website linked above. When I get 500, I'll be getting them mass produced. Go on! You know you want one!

I will be refining this design soon, to make it even more like the photograph. And once the O RLY owl's out there, stay tuned for his friends, the YA RLY and NO WAI!! owls...

September 6, 2006

Housefire at Lea Hernandez

Via Talk About Comics, I hear that cartoonist and former Girlamatic editor Lea Hernandez's house has been destroyed in a fire. There's no word on what she might need/want people to do to help, but it's likely something will be organised soon.
Update: Please help Lea by donating money via Paypal to divalea@gmail.com . This will go towards clothes, shoes and the materials (digital and traditional) Lea needs to be able to work.

September 11, 2006

Feral, schedule change, and Lazy Grind

The update schedule for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan has changed from weekdays to Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
I am taking part in the Lazy Grind version 2.0.
Feral starts today.

Those three events are, of course, strongly connected to one another. I'm reducing the number of updates because Feral has, so far, been very time-consuming to write and draw. Even where the finished work looks really simple, a lot of time and effort has gone into planning the drawing and exploring alternative angles and different ways of drawing the scene. I have joined the Grind to help and motivate me to keep up with that easier schedule, because even three a week will be difficult for me to keep up with.

At the time of writing this, I am good for another two weeks of buffered comics, and will be able to draw another two at least in the time available to me. I have been spared the ignominy of being the first to drop out, thanks to Colin Burke, who had to drop out on the first day for some reason, without posting an update. Update: Colster had misread the rules and managed to post a comic after he found out he still had some time. He's not out.

The first version of the Grind lasted more than a year, so if I'm to win this one, I'll have my work cut out for me. I've tried to motivate myself further by trash-talking on the Grind's tag board, but there hasn't been much response, because my competitors are just too damned nice.

September 12, 2006

Andrew speak, you listen

Seriously, why are you reading this when you could be reading Flogging a Dead Horse, Andrew Rilstone's essay on Britain's proposed new laws against "Extreme pornography" instead? Sample quote:

I don't think that looking at images of necrophilia, sexual violence or bestiality is one of my more fundamental human rights. It's a right I'm perfectly willing to give up, along with my right to shout 'fire' in a crowded theater, my right to drive on the right hand side of the road and my right to put potato peelings in my wheelie bin, so long as it does some good. But I would quite like to know what kind of good the new law is supposed to do.

Are cemeteries being vandalized in order to provide models for a booming necro-porn industry? Is the RSPCA worried about an epidemic of cows with sore bottoms? Then by all means, let's take action. Let's impose a criminal penalty on people who look at pictures of non-consenting bovine sex, in the hope that by cutting off demand, you will put the suppliers out of business, as has worked so successfully in the case of hard drugs.

Go read the whole thing. This web page will still be here when you're done.

September 14, 2006

Seven Camels

Drawn points me to the Temple of the Seven Camels blog by Carson Van OstenMark Kennedy, which really is excellent. So, of course, are many things posted on Drawn, but this one caught my attention because it's actually telling me how to deal with problems that were bugging me while drawing yesterday.

The Lazy Grind has had an excellent effect on my motivation and productivity, but in the last two pages I drew I was beginning to find some rushedness creeping in. This shows not so much in declining ink quality (because my inks are always sloppy and take a lot of time to fix anyway) as in a slackness of design, especially the design of background characters. Following Van OstenKennedy's tips on proportion and asymmetry will help me create those extras fast without costing me that much more time.

Update: Misattribution corrected.

September 15, 2006

Those apocalypses do fly by, don't they?

Missed another one (Hat tip: Amanda Marcotte). I especially like the way they insist that, yes, contrary to what your lying eyes may tell you, The House of Yahweh Prophecy of 9-12-2006 Has Been Fulfilled. Brimstone, anyone?

A few days ago, Mithandir suggested another apocalyptic cult from, I think, Kenya that I simply didn't find nutty enough to feature here. He then suggested I put up an icon saying "You must be this nutty to get your apocalypse posted here" with a portrait of Pat Robertson. I think I'm going to make that one, but feature Ayatollah Fred Gleufhoed from Peter de Smet's classic De Generaal comic instead.

Selling to SEOs

An interesting way of doing business: Cartoonist Ampersand has sold his domain to a Search Engine Optimiser who lets him continue to run his (excellent) blog and cartoonist pages in exchange for a link on the blog's front page and the ability to put whatever he wants (presumably link farms, but I haven't been able to find out yet) on new pages on the website.

I suppose it's as legit as any other form of sponsorship, and it sure beats having SEOs spamming their links on other people's blogs against their will. But one wonders if it wouldn't have been more effective for the SEO to buy a traditional sponsorship. What's one link to a blog about, in this case, handbags, on Amptoon's blog page worth in comparison to a well-placed ad, possibly drawn by Ampersand himself and integrated into the website, pointing directly to the product? Presumably the other stuff the SEO adds is worth more.

There is a risk involved that could cause Amp trouble for a long time to come. The reason I'm interested in this story at all is that the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Search Engine Optimization is spam. Comment spam and forum spams, the two blights on the Web that have caused me to spend many unpaid hours to clean up Waffle, Talk About Comics and, before Mithandir installed his latest honeypot-based comment spam blocker, the comments to Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. I know that's not entirely fair; there are forms of Search Engine Optimization that don't involve spam, and what Amp's buyer is doing could be one of them. But if the buyer is putting link farms on new pages within the amptoons.com domain, then these will themselves only become valuable if they're widely linked to, and that means there's a strong incentive for the new domain owner to spam. Actually, that applies to anything else he might put there - it can only be valuable for SEO purposes if it's widely linked to.
You don't want to be associated with a domain that's spammed in blog comments or forums. Or associated with spam in any form at all. It got the makers of the blogging software Wordpress in quite a bit of trouble and could end up doing the same to Ampersand.

September 20, 2006

Adventures in banking

I'm in the process of becoming the main tenant of the studio I've been working in for the past five years, taking over from studio-mate Edmond. On Monday, we both went to the corp that owns the building, Edmond signed a document canceling his contract, and I signed the new one. That bit was easy.
What's not so easy is paying the deposit. Back then, Edmond just gave the corp's representative the deposit in cash and got a receipt. Since then, there have been some changes in how these things are done. The corp came with the seemingly reasonable request that instead of paying the deposit directly and polluting their books with money that isn't theirs, I give them a bank guarantee for the amount. So today, after asking about how this worked at the Postbank's desk, I went to ING bank (the same company as the Postbank, but their serious banking branch) to ask about it. I got a very nice welcome - I was asked to wait for one of their staff, who then lead me into a meeting room, gave me coffee, held an introductory talk and then eased into the business part, getting my info and explaining the arcane workings of bank guarantees to me. Including the cost.
If the song and dance weren't indication enough to me that this wasn't the sort of transaction normally handled at the front desk, the cost was. Bank guarantees come with a 60 Euro administrative fee and a quarterly provision of 1% - perfectly reasonable if you're renting an € 10,000/month office space, but not for a one-off deposit of € 287, which is what our tiny studio's rent is.
The bank guy actually told me he'd never been asked for a bank guarantee for such a low amount. I'm feeling all special now.

I'll be asking the company that recently set up in the room next to us how they worked that out. But I expect I'll be simply sending the deposit to the corp's bank account, or maybe drop sixty bales of potatoes on their doorstep. I don't know. If you want something kept off the books, potatoes are the way to go, I guess.

The Essential Bowdlerised Marvel

Martin Wisse points to an overview of "edits" to The Essential Tomb of Dracula, a collection of Marvel schlock-horror comics, as well as some original Italian schlock-horror pocket comics. Interesting stuff, and kudos to The Groovy Age of Horror for providing us with large scans to set the record straight with.

Martin writes:

Now I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I dislike reprints that tamper with the original, especially when it's not done by the original creators. On the other hand, this is not like covering up Lady Justice bare breasts: it wasn't great art, just cheap titillation and little is lost by the alterations. On the gripping hand, it is indictive of the current climate in the US, that things that could be sold with no trouble at newsstands in 1979 now need to be censored to sell in bookstores!

I'm not in two minds. This is vandalism. Compare and contrast:
The original version of Viktor's experiment
Viktor, who I presume is the good guy, judging from the captions, is taking some sensible precautions in case his plan for separating the vampire from her host body fails. He straps her to his table so he doesn't get a face full of vampire if his technique doesn't work.
The bowdlerised version with boob-straps
Now Viktor is tying the vampire by her breasts, the perv. This makes him look like a complete amateur - surely that strap is going to snap loose unless those titties are made of reinforced concrete. Did the change degrade the comic? You bet it did!

Scans_daily-type snark aside, I really don't think it matters whether the censored art is cheap titillation or the expensive kinda monument for the ages. For one thing, that's for the ages to decide; for another, the people on whose behalf Marvel photoshopped away the exposed mammaries are famous for not taking "yes" for an answer: you give them an inch, they'll take a mile and then complain about being unfairly denied another mile. I can sympathise with the editors for feeling that they had the choice between bowdlerising the art or canceling the book. Perhaps I would have made the same choice in their place. But it's time for a pushback. And that begins with, among many, many other things, the people who buy classic comics knowing that they're not being offered the classic comics in their original state and refusing to stand for it.

September 21, 2006


Adventures in Banking update: The housing corp's rep called and waived the requirement for a deposit. He also explained that I was already getting preferential treatment as the corp usually asks for three months' worth of deposit. That would have been difficult for me to pay out of my bank balance, and a bank guarantee would have been a more proportional way of dealing with that. I was asked for just one month's worth because of my long residency in the studio as a co-tenant. So thanks to the folks at In Groningen for accomodating me.

I've started running again. Good news for those who wanted to see me take part in the 4 Mijl van Groningen, bad news for those who wanted to have me around in the Groningen 24-hour comic event. My first club training in several months went well although both my injuries began acting up a bit towards the end. I found last time around that a bit of pain at the end of a training is acceptable, as long as it doesn't get worse the next training.

My overall health, though, is not quite what it should be. Since that last flu I've had stomach and intestinal problems leading to a dramatically reduced appetite. I used to graze all the time while at the studio, but now even when the nausea abates, the brain doesn't get any signals requesting more food. I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, especially if I want to return to regular running, but undereating is the worst way to accomplish that. I'm also sleepier than I should be, again.

None of that is doing my paid work any good, nor my Lazy Grind buffer, which stands at 4 comics, with a fifth three quarters finished.

Adam asks me to mark my Not-Safe-For-Work posts like The Essential Bowdlerised Marvel, but where's the fun in that? Especially considering that most of my online body of work isn't work-safe anyway. I'd like to hear your opinion on this: reinder.dijkhuis@gmail.com.

Not brain-safe: There is worse poetry than that of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Wasp Court, Essex. And this has, apparently, been known for quite some time. I can see why those involved would want to keep it under wraps...

September 22, 2006

"I loved you a long time ago...."

Just how good is YouTube?
This good:
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush singing Roy Harper's "Another Day" for some BBC TV program in 1979. The audio and video quality aren't too good, but as I'm very familiar with the work of both performers and the songwriter, I can fill in the gaps in my mind easily. Spine-tingling stuff, this, in which Gabriel and Bush's voices play off one another perfectly. That little quaver in Kate Bush's voice? One of these days that's going to kill me.
I knew that this cover version existed but had no idea it had been broadcast. Many thanks to YouTuber JustinX30 for digging this up.

September 26, 2006

First one down

It's very late, and I've spent the evening working on Gang of Four way past the point where I hate every line of the art, but I wanted to mention that The Lazy Grind now definitely has claimed its first victim. We bid goodbye to Peacekeepers, which by the way really looks very good. I hope Ewan Baird won't be too discouraged from picking up the comic soon enough.
Ah well. That's me saved from ignominy. And now that the first one's out, there's likely to be a wave of people exhaling slowly and dropping out at the next update or the one after that.

EU doing what it's supposed to do, film at 11

Following on a theme established by Andrew Rilstone's posts on reporting in the UK newspapers the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, here's a post by Nosemonkey at the Sharpener:

Finally, in the (never-read) second-to-last paragraph, we get the real story:
“The decision replaces 25 national packaging rules and two EU directives on quantities with one single EU-wide law leaving packaging up to market forces”
So no more scare stories of our pints of milk or pounds of butter being under threat - perhaps even an end to the “metric martyrs” business - as all restrictions on how food is packaged are removed in one fell swoop. If this new law is passed and works properly, if the market calls for food to be sold in Imperial measures, food can be sold in Imperial measures. So, were the Metro to be slightly less rabid in its following of the Associated Newspapers anti-EU line, the story should perhaps have read “The EU does what it’s supposed to do, reducing pointless and restrictive food regulations and freeing up the market”. But as we all know from decades of reading anti-EU scare stories, Brussels NEVER cuts back on regulation. Oh no…

September 29, 2006

Fokke and Sukke have fallen into the hands of the Americans

"...Oof! And that was just the good cop!"

Just so Americans know how the world will perceive them from now on. From Fokke & Sukke.

Yo, stick 'm up

I accidentaly came across this music video by what is apparently a musical comedy group called the Asylum Street Spankers, not known in these here parts, but possibly of some fame in the U.S. They're doing a rather interesting cross-over between Country Murder Ballads and Gangsta Rap. The song is called 'Hick Hop,' and I must say, this type of music has potential!

Hick Hop

If a bunch of talented musicians would apply themselves I bet they could make a very decent album; certainly one that I would buy.

[Reinder barges in: I've added a link for the benefit of those using the RSS feed, in which embeds don't work, and I would like to take the opportunity to show you this one:

Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV. Just in case you haven't seen it.]

September 30, 2006

You only think you hate "We Are The World"

Last week, while looking for more Kate rarities on YouTube, I found this: the worst charity single ever, with a train wreck of a video to match.

Spirit of the ...foooo-rest!
Somebody out there thought that giving each celeb one line to sing was a waste of lines, and faded each celeb out and the next one in after half a line. Somebody out there thought that actually writing a tune for the project was pointless - after all, once it's been at number one for sixteen weeks, everyone's going to hate it no matter how good it is, right? Oh, wait, it vanished without a trace? Why would that be?
Kate, by the way, does get a whole line and enough space to actually do some interpretation. Shows you how big a star she was at the time. She also gets the Michael Jackson treatment of being filmed separately from the other singers, but that may be because she recorded her bit at her own studio and refused to come out for the video shoot. Unfortunately, there are limits even to Kate Bush's godlike powers, and she can't redeem "Spirit of the Forest".

Kate has notoriously withdrawn from the public eye over the past twenty or so years, and exasperated fans have often wondered why. Perhaps it was to avoid being asked to take part in projects like this one. That's well worth becoming less famous for.

Repeat: Effective interrogation techniques

I was a bit surprised to find that my blog post on Hans Joachim Scharff was two and a half years old already. Since then, the articles it refers to have vanished, and the centre of gravity of the political debate on torture in the US has shifted from labeling the sadistic scum humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib as "a few bad apples" to "anti-torture" being a political label for those who pretend to put up a fight against the legalisation of torture in all but name, rather than a minimal precondition for membership in democratic society. So I'd like to link to it again, and also recommend Katherine and Hilzoy's many posts on the issue at Obsidian Wings as just a starting point for those who want to know more about what is being done in Americans' names.

One article that I found in a new search for "Hans Joachim Scharff" is Truth Extraction: Honey Beats Vinegar which also describes how one American interrogator got useful information out of Japanese prisoners of war by ensuring they felt safe. That links to a longer article which is unfortunately behind a subscription wall.

About September 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in September 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2006 is the previous archive.

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