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February 2007 Archives

February 8, 2007

Before someone else brings it up: ROCR on Wikipedia

I just found out that the Wikipedia entry for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan is finally in the crosshairs of the deletionists. The fact that it took them so long is probably proof that my comic really isn't all that notable.

My advice to anyone who might want to get involved is "Don't waste your time." There's quite a bit of evidence that getting involved with webcomics on Wikipedia is pointless and leads to frustration and drama. Instead, anyone who feels like writing some documentation on ROCR is invited to help improve the entry on the comic on comixpedia.org instead. Thanks.

[Update]Or... if you want to do something really useful to help this humble webcomic out, why not put in a few transcriptions for Oh No Robot?. It's easy, the only person who can delete your work is me (and I would rather not), and it's a lot more useful than Wikipedia in increasing both the findability and the quality of my website.

Doing my bit to stamp out the myth of the Poor Man's Copyright

Every once in a while, the issue of how to copyright your artistic work comes up in a blog or forum. When that happens, chances are someone will bring up the neat trick of sending a copy of your work to yourself in a sealed envelope, so that the date stamp proves that you owned the work on that date and that it was created before that.

Here's what Plagiarism Today has to say on Poor Man's Copyright:

It is the worst kind of myth. It is wasteful, achieves nothing, gives a false sense of protection and can leave good people more vulnerable than if they had done nothing at all. There is simply no way that poor man's copyright is a valid strategy for protecting one's work.

To find out why, read the rest and read the Snopes.com entry on the myth that PT links to.

February 9, 2007

The Voice of Death is dead.

Ian Richardson died today. I mostly knew him from his fantastic performance as Sir Francis Urquhart in House of Cards and its two sequels. I also enjoyed him playing the Voice of Death in the Sky adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel Hogfather broadcast last Christmas. One of very few lines in the script to that two-part series that deviated from the novel was that line. The line from the Francis Urquhart series that everyone who's seen it remembers. "You might think so; I couldn't possibly comment" Even as Death, Richardson couldn't get away from his most succesful role.

I'd been rather hoping that he'd stay on for a sequel to Hogfather. From the accompanying "Making Of" documentary, there was no indication that he wouldn't be up to it. At 72, he looked fit and in good spirits, and indeed the news reports say he wasn't ill.

I'd been singing Ian Richardson's praises to my younger studio-mates, telling them that they had to see the Urquhart series some time. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any preview material on YouTube, otherwise I'd have taken the opportunity to show some right here and now.

Below, though, is a longish excerpt from Hogfather, towards the end of which Richardson says the line.
Watch it.

February 10, 2007

An Iraq interrogator's nightmare

Former contract interrogator Eric Fair writes in the Washington Post:


A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I'm afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The man, whose name I've long since forgotten, was a suspected associate of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the Baath Party leader in Anbar province who had been captured two months earlier.

The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.

It's... not easy for me to feel sympathy for this man. His suffering, real though it may be, pales in comparison to the suffering he and the likes of him have inflicted on their detainees, many of whom were never charged with any crime (for more on the nature of what people like Fair got up to, who they did it to, and the effects what they did has had in some of the better-documented cases, I refer to Obsidian Wings' coverage of torture and detention, especially Hilzoy's posts, especially those on the torture of Jose Padilla). In addition, Fair could have avoided his present nightmares by not doing evil in the first place.

Nevertheless, by owning up to what he did, admitting it was wrong, describing what torture does to those who practise it, and arguing strongly against it based on his own experiences, Fair has made a significant first step towards his rehabilitation. I hope it will also contribute to the whole story of what went on at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and other American military prisons around the world coming to light, and to the end of the practices Fair describes.

February 13, 2007

Christian values

Self-identified "Christians" send Amanda Marcotte email, and Amanda quotes them. It makes for fascinating reading, though it is somewhat disturbing to note that so many Pharisees walk among us. And they vote.

In the old days, when this blog had working comments, people would pipe up at points like this to inform me that that sort of behaviour was the exception, not the rule. I didn't believe it then, and one would have an even harder time convincing me now.

February 14, 2007

Bleg (or should that be 'bleagh')

I don't know where I'd heard that Movable Type was free again, but it evidently wasn't on Movable Type's own site. If anything, their rates seem to have gone up from what I remember. This is a bit of a bummer, because I'd been looking to upgrade. I want to add two new bloggers (my studio-mates Jelena Saiso and Calvin Bexfield), which requires a non-restricted version of the software. I also want to re-enable comments, which requires the latest and greatest in anti-spam provisions, otherwise all of Xepher.net goes down again. I could of course move to Wordpress or even WillowCMS, but I have two good reasons to stick with Movable Type:
1. I hate it when URLs change, and don't have time to hunt through old blog entries to change links to the new URLs;
2. Fielding support questions from my co-bloggers is difficult enough without having to learn a new interface myself. I'm not a Movable Type expert and have to look for answers in the Help pages and my own old template code, but at least I am usually able to find the answer. In Wordpress, I'd know no more than the user asking the question. In WillowCMS, I'd know a little more than my users, but frankly, I'm unwilling to let other people onto my Willow installation until there's a simplified interface they can use. Otherwise I'd be answering questions all day, or rather, Mithandir would be answering them for me, which would be a terrible way to thank him for the work he's done. And there's so many things I haven't got around to implementing that a Willow-ed version of the blog would need. It would have advantages in terms of comic/blog integration though.

Bummer. What to do? Looks like I've got a bullet to bite here - actually, upgrading Movable Type after more than two years would be hair-raising enough considering what happened the last time.

Trash Your TV!

Found via blogads on Shakespeare's Sister:
TV Smarter, a collection of resources on TV, social capital, brain activity and democracy. Fascinating stuff which I, as a non-TV-watching person who is unfortunately also an internet addict, could wastespend many hours reading. There's an associated blog, Trash Your TV.

A little introduction

Eh... Erm.... Hello?... Test... Is this thing on?...... Ah..Well...Ahem!
H-Hello dear readers. My name is Jelena Stellaard and I will join Reinder in 'besmirching' (or how do you write that word) this lovely Waffle-Blööög... So as of now you will be able to read next to Reinders rubbish, some exquisite prose from my hand (and no I did not just now watch two episodes of Pride and Predjudice in one go... well it's Valentines Day for goodness sake!)... Ahwell... anyway... Feel free to read my lovely blog entries (or die!) and well, maybe you could sometimes visit my splendid- I mean HUMBLE website (www.saiso.nl/jelena spamspam). 'Kay that's it for now, bye bye, yours truly etcetc.

That's one new blogger

I did some research and found that there were no technical restrictions on this Movable Type installation. The license restricted me to five authors, but I've just gone to Movable Type's site and accepted the new license which allows me to have more.

So welcome, Jelena Stellaard, to this blog. Jelena has been my studio-mate for the past year. She's a cartoonist, a musician and a geek, so we get along like a house on fire. Jelena has been asked to teach a series of cartooning workshops similar to the workshops I teach, and I asked her a while ago to write about her experiences in this blog like I've been doing with mine. Not that she'll be restricted to posting about teaching, of course.

The second new blogger I'll invite is my other studio-mate, Calvin Bexfield. Calvin is the new background artist for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan whose meticulous drafting and design you'll enjoy (that's an order!) starting in March. DFG got there first!

Testing

1...2...3...

This is DFG aka Drooling Fan Girl I've colored comics for reinder, and yammer with (at) him in IRC.

I've had a few story ideas here and there. And hopefully, I'll have something more interesting to share another time.

February 15, 2007

...and that's two.

If you read Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan, you'll undoubtedly have seen the occasional "Coloured by DFG" discreetly announced below an archived ROCR comic. Drooling Fan Girl, as she's known to the webcomics-reading public, is the comic's most frequent guest colourist. She's a very vocal, argumentative and at times eccentric presence in webcomics-related forums and IRC channels as well. Starting the 19th, DFG will alternate colouring duties on the next ROCR story, provisionally entitled "Attack of the Nightmares" until I can find a title that doesn't suck, with second colourist Mravac Kid.

Webcartoonist punks Wikipedia

Kristofer Straub reports on the deletion of his webcomic Starslip Crisis:

Delete Wikipedia: A Webcomics Case Study:

The Webcomics Purge of ‘07 continues with the deletion of Starslip Crisis‘ article. An article for deletion was submitted to Wikipedia, to delete Starslip Crisis, and the measure carried.

The result was delete and redirect to Blank Label Comics. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 10:42, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I started the vote to delete Starslip Crisis.

I started the vote to delete Starslip Crisis using a freshly-registered user with no other edits under his belt.

I also used faulty logic to initiate the discussion: I said www.starslip.com has no Alexa data, and isn’t notable as a result. (www.starslip.com is just a redirect: the comic’s URL is www.starslipcrisis.com and has an Alexa rank.)

Then I registered ten more fake users to stuff the original delete vote. This is called “sock puppetry” in Wikipedia terminology, and is frowned upon. The names of the fake users I used in the AfD are: Salby, Incredulous, Banalzebub, Hammerabbi, LKeith30, Repromancer, Expiwikist, Floxman, YothSog, and 66.27.212.63.

It’s so frowned upon that when someone else — a person I don’t know calling himself WizardBrad — tried to use a sock puppet to get his Keep vote to count twice, he was found to be cheating and his vote was struck from the record! Bless your heart, WizardBrad.

Here I was terrified that the Wikipedia editors-that-be would uncover my ruse to falsely delete a webcomic from their pages, and not only did they not find me out, they discounted someone cheating in Starslip’s favor!! How did they catch him and not me? Why did they bother to check up on his IP and not the IP address I used for the ten fake voters?

Oh, I will admit, I was sly. My fake voters engaged in conversation with one another, even one convincing another that the article should be deleted, not just merged under something else. Wikipedia cautions its editors that sock puppets can appear, and that the “straw man sock puppets

are created by users with one point of view, but act as though they have an opposing point of view, in order to make that point of view look bad, or to act as an online agent provocateur.

What I tried to do was take the popular point of view among Wikipedia’s editors — “delete webcomics” — and then prove that it would be accepted even under fallacious/suspicious circumstances. And it looks like I was successful.

Starslip Crisis is gone from Wikipedia for made-up reasons championed by my team of ten grudge-carrying fakes.

As it turns out, it’s not hard to get something deleted from Wikipedia, especially if it’s on some ice-blasted, barren frontier land on the internet like webcomics, where no one really knows what’s important and what isn’t, and no one really cares to make sure.

Yes, it does look to me like the process is broken, why do you ask?

February 16, 2007

Test of the blog upgrade

I'm in the process of upgrading Waffle. If you can see this post, then all is well. If not, then you won't know about it.

Most of the upgrade process so far went smoothly, but there seems to be a problem with rebuilding the old files. Let's see if Movable Type 3.3 can publish this post.

Another test. The script seems to hit the CPU/memory limits, hard. .... trying again. And again. And yet again..... Aaaand again. And yet again, again and again. And again, because we just switched to a different database system.

Right. It works now. Comments are still wonky though. I'll switch them off for now and I'll try to figure out what's wrong with them tomorrow.

[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part I: Defining Terms, For Fun and Profit

Among the many criticisms in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was that ID was not science, that it offers no testable hypotheses, and is not subject to change as new evidence comes to light. Indeed, during the trial clear evidence of this was shown:

Although in Darwin's Black Box, Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations or the immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible regarding its origin. (P-647 at 139; 2:26-27 (Miller)). However, Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe's claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex. Between 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system. (2:31 (Miller)). In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough." (23:19 (Behe)).

Clearly, the problem is that they don't sound sciency enough! What can a noble, upstanding group of liars do to try and retrieve their shattered reputation?

Why, what they always do: Make stuff up. Come with me, then, into the wilds of Baraminology, where the elephant in the corner must never, ever be spoken of.

Continue reading "[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part I: Defining Terms, For Fun and Profit" »

February 17, 2007

New Free Richard Thompson song, plus Earth Day Footprint questionnaire

I missed this at Making Light's Sidelights, but managed to catch it at Avedon Carol's Sideshow: Richard Thompson has a new song up on his website, called Dad's Gonna Kill Me. First impression: pretty energetic delivery with his usual strong guitar work. Dunno if it's the best writing he's ever done, yet, but I'll know when I've listened to it more.

Another quick catch: the Earth Day Footprint Quiz tells me that if everyone lived like me, we'd need 2.1 planets. This in spite of me not owning a car and living in a very modest apartment. My footprint is well below the average for a person living in the Netherlands, but, like my cellphone, it's not small enough.

Transitions

This weekend, we'll see some changes around the ROCR.net website, webcomic and blog. Some of these will be disruptive.
Most important of all: New Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story starting on Monday! I'll be running Invasion in stead of the storyline I interrupted in October, Feral, because Invasion is part of a multi-comic event that's set to a fixed schedule, and much as I'd like to give you two Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan stories simultaneously, I can't. Indeed it's so far been a mad scramble to get the pages for Invasion ready in time while also doing my work for Hello You! and teaching.

To help me keep the story to a fixed schedule and at an acceptable level of quality, I've called for the help of three people: Drooling Fan Girl, Mravac Kid and Calvin Bexfield. DFG and Mravac will be taking turns colouring the comics on a per-sequence basis, so DFG will do the introductory chapter set in the Gnomian Republic, while Mravac will colour the next few scenes, set, er, elsewhere. Starting on page 11, Calvin Bexfield will be applying his considerable drafting skills to the backgrounds, drawing castles, towns and longhouses like you've never seen them in this comic before.

There'll be some cleanup on the archives. First thing on Sunday morning, I'll be moving all the White House in Orbit chapters to their own subsection of the website, which will be here-abouts. It's been fun showing these three stories and the guest comics; we'll be returning to the remaining stories later in the year. If you come to the site on Monday, the last few episodes may appear to have vanished, but they're still there, and I'll put up a separate post pointing latecomers to them. I'll also merge several of the incidental, one-drawing ROCR chapters into a new chapter, and put those, and the guest comics, in a separate section with the crossover comics, so the archives will seem a lot shorter.

As for the blog, you'll have noticed that I've added a few new writers and attempted to upgrade the software. I haven't quite got to my ultimate goal of having functional comments again; so far, the comment form sends people using it to the Xepher.net front page, which wouldn't be so bad by itself, but it also fails to send their comments to my database. I'll be working on it. As part of working on it, I will probably have to reset the blog's templates to their defaults, because I can't remember for the life of me which part of the comments code I've taken out over the years. While I'm doing that, the archives, entries and indices may look a bit funny. Can't be helped.

Getting this far has been difficult enough, by the way, because after two years, A Six Apart still haven't fixed the resource consumption problems that made the comments functionality so vulnerable in the first place (as some of you may remember, I made a mistake upgrading the antispam plugins, and within minutes, a spam attack took down not just the Movable Type installation but the entire host). Xepher and I have spent several hours getting the resource use down to manageable (note how I don't say "acceptible", because the resource consumption is still insane) levels, which was time we would probably both have preferred to spend otherwise.

Soon enough, we will have comments back and we will be seeing more posts from the new posters, who so far include studio-mate Jelena, ROCR colourist DFG and new ROCR background artist Calvin Bexfield. I'll be inviting some more people as well. I'm also planning to add some functionality like Gravatars that will make the blog part of the site a little niftier and a more inviting place than it has been recently.

We have comments.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have comments. Try them!

February 18, 2007

Quick test of the new image uploader

The new File Uploader in Movable Type can make thumbnails! So I can now do this:
FW-1-2-6-preview.png
and show you previews that still fit within the blog column on the ROCR.net front page. This means that:
1) my search for a better file uploader (in which the only one that looked promising enough to try was for-pay) yesterday was a waste of time; and
2) I don't need to give people complicated instructions for how to post an image without breaking the front page layout. Yay!

February 19, 2007

Little Kiddos

THE HOOORRROOOORR!!!!! .. No just joking. Last thursday I taught my very first comic drawing lesson ever and it actually went quite well! I teach 6 boys between 9 and 12 years old and they are a very enthousiastic bunch. At first I tried to teach them some standard comic-emotions, but they were so full of Manga (miss will you draw me a figure from Dragonball Z?!!), that I decided to focus more on the art of making manga. So next thursday I'm going to teach them how to draw a manga head, with hair and everyting. And maybe already start with the body.

The only problem I incountered with the boys was that they were a bit loud in their enthousiasm, but as long as they listen and pay attention, I don't mind...

Yeah I know, it is a bit of a boring story, but maybe next time they'll wreck the whole place and you will be able to read some dramatic yet exciting stuff... :D

Follow-up cartooning classes

Following up on Jelena's teaching report, below: my own recent teaching experiences have been fairly routine, though it was interesting a few weeks ago to visit the same school on two consecutive days. It was a big difference; on Thursday, I felt like a rock star, while on Friday, I felt like a wannabe stand up comedian on open mic night. I didn't do anything particularly different between those two days (five classes in all), but for some reason I could grab the kids' attention and whip up a lot of enthusiasm on day one, and not on day two. The most likely cause was that on Friday, the kids had had a sporting event in the morning, so they had this big old adrenaline/endorphin cocktail running through their veins and weren't as sharp as they would otherwise have been.

I still manage to enjoy teaching even when the kids are being a bit difficult, though. Which is useful because last Thursday's follow-up class at the same school was a difficult one. I had a classroom full, after school hours, of kids who normally sat in different home rooms, with no regular staff member or volunteer present. I wasted a lot of time getting one particularly noisy little girl to shut up and get back to work, and as a result forgot to ride the waves of the other kids' attention spans. You know, normally while a class is working on a project, you can tell when the class starts buzzing a bit, and it's time to get them off the task they've been carrying out and on to something new. This time, I got distracted, so so did several of the other kids. Of course, a class that large is going to be quite heterogeneous, and there were quite a few who just quietly got on with the work and had some rather neat comics ready at the end of the hour.

I don't mind having to deal with loud kids, personally. It's a skill I think I should learn to get better at. But on the other hand, it's not fair to the other kids if one or two of them drain all my attention while I'm learning this skill. So for the second follow-up class, at another school, I'm going to ask if one of the volunteers can be present to keep an eye on things. If they don't have any available, I'll just try the best I can. Shouldn't be as many kids in that one anyway.

It's interesting that Jelena's Thursday class was filled with Manga fans; mine wasn't. One could offer the self-selected nature of Jelena's group of students as an explanation, but my group at this point was self-selected as well, unlike the groups at the introductory workshops. Of the 18 or so kids, some liked manga, but most predominantly read the classic comics - the same ones I read as a child. European and American comics such as Donald Duck, Asterix, Suske & Wiske. Maybe the fact that I do give these introductory workshops to whole classrooms causes a wider group of kids to sign up for the after-school classes...

22 Panels challenge, Science/Faith flowchart

Peter Venables' 22 panels challenge. Peter has re-worked Wallace Wood's famous 22 pictures that always work in his own style. I'll take this challenge some day, but not now.

Wellington Grey explains how science and faith work in nifty flow charts. His website and journal are also great, except that for some reason he wants to stop people posting cat pictures on the internet, which tells me there's something not quite right about him. He'll be calling for a ban on internet porn next (via Boing Boing).

Wellington Grey's going to hate this: 1700+ pictures of cats found on the internet (via Pete Ashton, who asks "what more do you need? " Er, another 1700 pictures of cats?)

February 20, 2007

New Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "Invasion"

The new Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story, Invasion, began yesterday, both on the ROCR.net site and on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen website. The COTWQ version has slightly smaller images but is otherwise identical to the ROCR.net version - however, it has a working RSS feed and you can tooncast the comic from it. It also has a cast section in progress which will be separate from the giant Cast section at ROCR.net.

The colour work in the opening chapter is done by Drooling Fan Girl, fresh-faced new blog poster and previously a recurring guest colourist. As the chapter progresses, you'll find she's outdone herself this time. Someone should give her a paid colouring job! She doesn't want me to say that, though. The action of the first chapter is set far away from Clwyd-Rhan, in a forest on the farthest edges of the Gnomian Republic, where humans do not go. We will see humans in the second chapter though, as well as some very strange creatures indeed...The second chapter will have colour by Mravac Kid and backgrounds by my studio-mate and even fresher-faced blog poster Calvin Bexfield. We'll introduce them properly later.

The publication of Invasion happens while that other story, Feral, is still on hiatus. We'll be, er, co-ordinating with some other webcomics later on, and as a result, Invasion has to be run on a fixed schedule. Feral isn't abandoned, though; there are 10 new installments on my hard drive, which will only have to be cleaned up, coloured, lettered and prepared for web publication.

I'd say more, but I'd spoil things.

[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part II: It sounds better in words of four syllables or more

Part I

I'm afraid I may have been a bit misleading with my quotes in Part I: It's actually very unusual for them to use relatively simple language, even in introductory pages. For instance, take today's article, which opens with:

We believe that phylogenetic discontinuity is obvious for most groups approximating the family level and higher categories. Therefore, baraminology sees multidimensional biological character space crisscrossed with a network of discontinuities that circumscribe islands of biological diversity. Within these character space islands, the basic morpho-molecular forms are continuous or potentially continuous. Discontinuity in this sense does not refer to either the minor breaks in quantitative ranges that are used to delimit species or the modifications on a basic theme that demarcate genera. It is the unbridged chasms between body plans - forms for which there is no empirical evidence that the character-state transformations ever occurred. The mere assumption that the transformation had to occur because cladistic analysis places it at a hypothetical ancestral node does not constitute empirical evidence.

This is meant to be a basic description of the field.

Now, I could - and will - criticise the writing style, but first, let's try and figure out what the hell this means...

Continue reading "[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part II: It sounds better in words of four syllables or more" »

February 21, 2007

Confronting prejudice in the best way possible

Sellahair

Reinder is not one to blow is own horn, especially if the horn is a rickety old electric guitar and it has been a while since he played it. But with the coming of Sellaband many a band that had previously given up hope of ever being discovered give it another go.

Sellaband is a project where bands can present themselves and ordinary Joe Schmoe can buy shares in order to finance the recording of an album. The first few thousand dollars can be accumulated by spamming friends and family-members, but to get to the magic $ 50.000 mark you have to get some real backing by a wide audience. The first band to achieve this, Dutch Goth metal band Nemesea is about to hit the recording studio.
It is an interesting concept, and certainly a child of the times. It seemse only fair that the public gets the idea it can be part of the music industry, as said industry seems to be increasingly estranged from the public. There are bands to be discovered in all genres and different levels of quality. Personally I'm rooting for Dan.e's band Radius, and will buy my share as soon as my bank balance will allow it. I like the way it allows you to show your support to a band, and it's risk free. If the band doesn't make the 50k you can get your money back, and if they succeed, you'll at least get the album.
I'm not sure though I like the current development of everyone and their tape recorder-toting dog creating a Sellaband-account and sit back and wait to be discovered. A little self-criticism goes a long way and I for one wouldn't mind seeing the project a little less clogged with bands that lack basic musical quality and just seem to be hoping to be hyped into a record deal. Or, in the case of The Hooded Crow, blowing the dust of old tapes. I'm not sure Reinder is aware THC is even on Sellaband, so please read this as a general critique and not pointed at individuals (least of all Reinder). I do not see much point in using Sellaband to promote a band that hasn't been around for a decade, fun though it may be to listen to their music.
Though I'm thankful for the band pictures...

Quick links for Wednesday

Children's literature is full of scrotums! (Via Neil Gaiman)

Matt Taibbi: Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires:

While America obsessed about Brittany's shaved head, Bush offered a budget that offers $32.7 billion in tax cuts to the Wal-Mart family alone, while cutting $28 billion from Medicaid.

MediaFork is a new media-ripper derived from HandBrake, whose development had stalled recently. Works on OSX and linux (linux version Command Line only). I couldn't get the source code to build, but the binary version worked swimmingly. So far, I've done all my DVD ripping with MPlayer, but you can never have enough tools... and this one seems to be a little smarter than MPlayer at finding the correct audio channels automagically.

Teen 'sport killings' of homeless on the rise. Reminded me of this Majikthise post from a month or so ago. Remind me to be nice to a homeless person some time.

The man responsible for putting my old band's music on Sellaband and adding old photos showing me in the band also regularly sends me interesting music links, so I can almost forgive him. Today, he sent me a link to Dalek I, an obscure early synth duo. I didn't care much for this sort of thing when I was actually living through the synth pop era, but a lot of it sounds rather good to me now.

Test

I'm trying to baffle you lot in this waffle with my first attempt to.....scraffle? Well to post something anyways.

so....here goes: Hi everrrrybodddddy, I'm the guy who does the background 'art' in the Evil Overlord crossover pages of ROCR. I guess nobody has seen my work yet, but you will...soon enough.

A little preview of my work:
kitty.jpg
Had some photoref.

Well hope you like it, and maybe, someday, I'll daw a picture that really blows your mind...

February 22, 2007

WCCA 2007

For all the criticism the Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards for 2007 have received (admittedly, I could write that opening line about each previous edition of the awards), they do reflect a trend in webcomics towards more technically sophisticated material. In particular, the artistic standards of the nominated comics have been higher than ever this year.

The awards ceremony itself, which is in comics form, goes on for far too long, though. If there's one piece of advice I'd presume to give the organising committee, it's "fewer awards categories, please, pretty please for the love of kittens". It's not fair to the nominees, winners, and ceremony creators down the bottom of the list, like - well, that's my point, really. Reading the ceremony late at night, I basically skimmed through the last five or six I read, and then skipped the last however many there are. Even for the last few I did "read" I have no idea who the artists involved were.

Pare it down to something that can be read in a single sitting... or serialise it.

Tithes

With megachurches increasing the traditional 10% tithe to 15%, Benny Hinn becoming a multimillionaire out of preaching, I think it's time to look at what the Bible actually says about tithing.

Deuteronomy, Chapter 14, 22-29, King James Version:

22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

In other words, keep back a portion of your food, and eat it in a feast dedicated to the lord. Invite the poor and the preists ("the Levites" were the priest caste).

Numbers 18:26 clarifies how much the priests should get of this money held back:

26. Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

Not a tenth part of your income! A tenth part of the money and goods held back for this grand celebration.

Worse, why have a lot of modern churches upped even the semi-traditional (if unjustified) 10% to 15%? How on earth can they justify this?

...I suppose, in the end, it comes down to this: not only is 15% tithes unbiblical, and motivated by sheer greed, even the traditional 10% tithe isn't biblical, though there is a reasonable case for 10% towards charity and fellowship (a party being fellowship, and inviting the poor, widows, and so on to the feast being charity). If the church is highly active in charity, and has a strong social aspect not given over to somberness ("thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household"), it may be justifiable as a modern interpretation of the older social format, and 10% might be appropriate. If it is not, particularly if the pastor is getting rich off of it, then this church is failing at the basic reasons for a church to exist: fellowships and good works. It is thus a scam, a hypocrite, and motivated by greed.

February 23, 2007

Sketching@Wielaert's

I've been a bit sick this week, but I didn't let that stop me from going to the regular Gr'nn sketch meeting at Erik Wielaert's place.
Here's what I did:

First, I made some large sketches of panels I was going to draw this weekend, just to get a better feel for them. Normally, I only thumbnail them, so this was a new approach:
Do you travel through time in a blue box?
I used a 5B pencil throughout the session, by the way, which definitely encouraged me to work large.
Eventually I tired of doing work that was strictly for the comic, and started doing more random things:
A naked chick with a big butt. No deep thoughts here...
... the more I see Calvin draw his emaciated, Manara-inspired nymphettes, the more I get the urge to draw big-arsed girls. Funny how that works. The Alpha and Omega signs on her cheeks were the result of some free-association process the memories of which have since evaporated in a haze of beer. Some minor corrections after scanning, because there were a bunch of confusing lines in the arm and face.

Gnomian physicist
A quick study for a Gnomian physisist for a future weekend update.

Monstertje
Erik is an insanely accomplished artist whose skills I envy quite a lot. What I envy most, I think, is his ability to draw creatures so they are lively, individual and imaginative. Not to mention cute. He's worked hard to develop that ability, and so should I. Other people at the session suggested the horns that can be seen in a vague outline, but I think this cutie works fine without horns.

While I'm at it, let me plug 101 Projects for Artists and Illustrators, which I found via, er, someone.

Sketching

As Reinder already said we've been sketching @ Wielaert's. And...I didn't draw any naked ladies, I'm so proud of myself. Well to show some sketches:

sketch1.jpg
Nothing to say about her actually, just a girl on a snowboard.

mynightmare.jpg
This one is an old friend of mine, I usually see him when I'm about to die in one of my dreams. He's my personal grim reaper I think. It's really a mystery who the puppeteer is or shall be.

Jelmer%20front%200.jpg
These two kids are a sort of study for a children's book I'm working on at the moment

Well that's it for now...

February 24, 2007

Spineless Behaviour

You know, biology journalism isn't what it once was. Here's a newspaper report in the Illustrated London News, December 2, 1871 (pages 535-6). This was meant for a general audience....

THE EIGHT-ARMED CUTTLE

The aquarium at the Crystal Palace now contains, with many other interesting objects, several specimens of the poulpe, or eight-armed cuttle, Octopus vulgaris, obtained from the sea on the Devonshire and North Wales coasts. This is the animal which has been made famous under the names of devil-fish or man-sucker, by the sensational descriptions of it in Victor Hugo's Guernsey romance "Toilers of the Sea", and in other works of imaginative writers. But as Mr. W.A. Lloyd, the superintendent of the aquarium, remarks in his protest against such exaggerations, "it is but wanton ignorance and vulgarity to call the octopus a 'devil-fish,' when it has about it nothing diabolical or fishlike. It is simply a mollusc, very high up in the scale of the mollusca, with its viscera and other internal organs contained in an egglike sac, which is surmounted by a pair of prominent and sometimes staring eyes placed on protuberances; and below, set on obliquely, is a series of eight stout, raditating, tapering arms, provided in all with about 2000 round projecting suckers, on the lower surfaces of the arms. Such a creature is in itself wonderful without being invested with fictitious attributes." It is a fact, however, says Mr. Lloyd, that these cuttles will, if alarmed, catch hold of a man within their reach in the water, though they cannot grasp him out of the water. "The specimens here under my care will, if I permit them, as I have done, firmly affix themselves to my submerged bare hand and arm by the crowds of sucking discs beneath each of their long flexible legs, arms, or tentacles, and then they will draw themselves on till they get to a convenient position, and give a severe bite with their hard, horny pair of beaks or mandibles (not unlike those of a parrot), which are placed below, in the centre of the body, at the point whence the legs or arms radiate; but they soon leave go and drop off when I raise them above the water's surface. There are no cuttles in Sark, where Victor Hugo places his narrative, or elsewhere in Britain, so large that even a child could not easily kill or disable one of them at one grasp or kick. On the other hand, if an enormous angry cuttle in the tropics, with arms measuring, as they sometimes do, from five to fifteen feet long, provided with thousands of suckers, each nearly an inch in diameter, and additionally provided, as many foreign species are, with a strong and sharp hook in the centre of each, in order to take a firmer hold, armed also with a terribly crushing pair of beaklike jaws - should such a creature encounter a swimming man it would go hard with the man, without any spitefulness on the part of the cuttle."

It seems probable, on the whole, that the common dread of these creatures, among the seafaring people of the Channel shores, and in the south of Europe, is founded upon some instances of persons being drowned, or put in danger of drowning, by entanglement with their long pliant arms. The eyes are blank and expressionless, and are furnished each with a pair of greyish lids, one closing downwards from above and the others upwards from below, till they meet at the centre of the pupil. "At night, or in much shade," says Mr. Lloyd, "the eye is wholly uncovered, but in light the lids are seperated according to the amount of illumination. If it be considerable, the seperation is such as only to leave a very narrow horizontal slit for the creature's vision; but if very strong, their edges are brought into complete contact. These motions of the lids have not the instantaneous character of the lid of the human eye, but are slow enough to be seen. The manner in which the eyelids of the octopus constantly vary in distance from each other when the creature moves about, and thus varies the amount of the shade through which it passes, is most interesting to witness. For instance, as it begins to enter the shadow of an overhanging rock in the Crystal Palace aquarium, the lids gradually seperate and expose the eye beneath them, and they as gradually close again as the animal emerges into light."

There's even a nice engraving with it.

Meanwhile, here's a modern report on an octopus exhibit in Birmingham (BBC News, 2 January 2007). After a long description of the mirror maze leading to it, all we get on octopi is:

Reward for negotiating the maze will be arrival in Poseidon's Chamber and chance to admire the resident Pacific giant octopus, the world's largest octopus with an intellect to match.

"These sea creatures are so intelligent marine experts often devise puzzles to help keep them stimulated," said curator Graham Burrows.

"It will be very fitting that our visitors have to solve a puzzle themselves in order to see it."

It's just not the same, is it? And there's only one image of an octopus, rather poorly presented: No improvement there, either. Even if the first article called the octopus a cuttle fish (a rather odd Victorianism, that), I can't help but appreciate the depth of coverage, and strong public outreach within those somewhat dense Victorian sentences. Why is it so rare nowadays that we just let a knowledgable person speak on a subject they're passionate about in the newspapers?

Continue reading "Spineless Behaviour" »

More little monsters

I've been sick, bored and generally crawling up the walls in between coughing fits, at least at those times of the day when I was out of bed. At least in the evening, I found the energy to draw some more monsters in my sketchbook.

Gren and Bob
Gren and Bob from Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. Unlike the other two, this one has had quite a lot of post-production done to it in GIMP. It's difficult to work with GIMP if you haven't done any serious work with it in such a long time as I have, but the bigger problem was that I don't have a tablet at home here - all I have here is an optical mouse with the habit of darting to the edges of the screen for no good reason at all. Luckily I found that feathering the selection tools allowed me to preserve the pencil texture while correcting this drawing.

Continue reading "More little monsters" »

February 26, 2007

...What the hell is wrong with these people?

I've been a fan of Girls Reading Comics for a while now. However, today, they pointed out a review of Spiderman showing the hands-down the worst idea I've ever heard of: That whole radioactive spider biting him thing leads to him killing his girlfriend through radioactive semen. And, no, it's not a fanfic, this is an official Marvel comic.

"Oh God, I'm sorry! The doctors didn't understand how it happened! How you had been poisoned by radioactivity! How your body slowly became riddled with cancer! I did. I was... I am filled with radioactive blood. And not just blood. Every fluid. Touching me... loving me... Loving me killed you! Like a spider, crawling up inside your body and laying a thousand eggs of cancer... I killed you."

...See, this is why I avoided comics for decades, and only finally started reading webcomics, Castle Waiting, Sandman, Cerebus and The Goon in my 20s. For God's sake, Marvel and DC, hire people who can write! Stop giving all comics a bad name.


February 27, 2007

Albums to avoid: Deep Purple Live at the Birmingham NEC 1993

Contact Music reports:

Veteran rockers DEEP PURPLE are pleading with fans to not buy their latest album - a recording of their worst ever concert. The SMOKE ON THE WATER band are incensed record label Sony BMG has released double live album NEC 1993 to help promote the latest Deep Purple tour. [...] Singer IAN GILLAN and guitarist RITCHIE BLACKMORE were locked in a feud at the time of the gig in Birmingham, England. Gillan has slammed the record executives behind the decision to release NEC 1993, calling them "opportunist fat cats".

I wouldn't call this performance the worst Deep Purple concert ever. That dubious honour probably goes to one of the gigs from 1976 when half the band was performing in a haze of cocaine and heroin (neither Gillan nor Blackmore were in the band at that time), but there are good reasons not to buy this record:

1) It contains some of the band's worst Spinal Tap moments. During the opening number, Highway Star, Blackmore ruins the instrumental buildup by not turning up; later in the song, he interrupts his solo to throw a glass of water at a cameraman who came too close to him. Blackmore was 48 years old at the time.

2) It has been released before, twice. The first release was the 1994 video, since reissued as a DVD, Come Hell or High Water, which includes the opening number. It has commentary on the incident from Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. With the video content and the context provided by the commentary, the incident is actually rather entertaining; we see the four members of the band who bothered to show up onstage working their guts out to compensate for the lack of Blackmore; keyboardist Jon Lord in particular performs heroically, dripping with sweat just one minute in. As the concert goes on from there, the band recover themselves musically and the second half of the concert is rather good although the tension of the first few minutes never quite goes away.
The second release of the concert is part of a boxed set, Live in Europe 1993, where it is bundled with another concert in Stuttgart. Again, putting the incident in context helps; but this live record suffers from a new mix that seems to be designed to make the album sound more like a bootleg. Pat Regan's original mix of the video and CD of Come Hell or High Water (the CD was compiled from both concerts) was perhaps sweetened a little too much, especially the drums; it was, however, a clear mix that preserves the live athmosphere. The mix on the separate release is presumably the same as that on the boxed set; however, the boxed set is comparatively cheaper, so if you must have bootleggy recordings of one of Deep Purple's most embarrassing moments, get that release instead.

By the way, I don't believe for a moment that BMG is releasing these records to "promote" the band's new tour. Deep Purple haven't been under contract with BMG for ten years, at least not in Europe; the current touring lineup is very different from that in 1993, and Live at the Birmingham NEC is unlikely to persuade many young people to come to see the current lineup. It's a cash-in that the musicians won't benefit much from at all. (via)

Continue reading "Albums to avoid: Deep Purple Live at the Birmingham NEC 1993" »

Beverly Sills

Simply wonderful!

February 28, 2007

Crossover Wars

Anicrossover.gif
I guess now would be a good time to mention that there's a series of webcomics Crossover Wars going on involving several dozen webcomics, including Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan. The hub site has been live for a couple of weeks and has a very thorough overview of everything that's been going on so far. Core comics are CameoComic and Evil Overlords United, both of which were created especially for the event.

After the FRAMED!!! Great Escape, I told myself and others that it had been great fun and let's not do it again. But I got myself suckered into doing another big mega-crossover. And it's fun. And hair-raising. Again. Once it's over, I'll never do it again.

About February 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Waffle in February 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2007 is the previous archive.

March 2007 is the next archive.

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