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May 2007 Archives

May 1, 2007

An honest obituary of Boris Yeltsin

I found this more than a week late, but Yeltsin: An Obit of a Drunken, Bloblike Train Wreck of a Revolutionary Leader by Matt Taibbi is still worth a read because it's well-written and gives a better insight into why the Russians didn't care much about ole' Boris than the "they prefer an authoritarian over a buffoon" line that was common in the conventional obits. (Via Majikthise)

Invasion fan-art-ish things

I've put up a batch of fan art for the crossover story Invasion over on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site. Or at least, I call it fan art, but five of the six pieces are actually preliminaries made by other participants in the crossover: Caitlin Woods and Gothia, both of CameoComic. The sixth one is by co-blogger and Dangerous and Fluffy writer Adam.

Like basically every other cartoonist I have an ego the size of a planet, so if you can draw even a little bit, send me more!

Review of "The God Delusion" - Part I: Preface to Chapter 2

Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion is an important book: There have been other books about atheism, but most are written in such a way to preach to the converted, or have been ignored. His book has succeeded where they have not, and for that, Dawkins deserves all respect.

Dawkins sets out his purpose in writing this as to make it clear for people stuck in religion that there is an alternative, and they have another option that is, indeed, an acceptable one. As someone who spent years tormented because I never knew that my growing discontent with the problems I kept finding in the weird branch of fundamentalist Christianity my mother espoused, and feeling I had noone to turn to (while never realising my father was a damn Freethinker, and I could have gone to him at any time. Sheesh, dad! You could have dropped a few hints, and not suddenly tell me when I'm 27 and have worked my way through it alone), I can only wish I had known about this book, or any other like it, as a child. (He wanted me to be able to make my own decisions, and so just made sure to teach me science and mathematics, and so on. I appreciate this, but, still...) This book fulfils its purpose as set out, and thus must be considered a total success.

However, it does mean that like "The Selfish Gene" and "The Blind Watchmaker", I'm going to be reading this book far too late in my education for it to really tell me much I don't know, so I'm going to end up much more critical than other supporters would be.

Chapter 1 deals mainly with the Einsteinian version of God - Spinoza's pantheism, or God as a metaphor for the universe and its laws. It's actually very well done - engaging, and also informative.

However, like the rest of the book, it's somewhat sloppy. References are given in three seperate forms: Footnotes, endnotes, and worked into the text; none of them would allow you easily locate a quote Dawkins used, unless the source is short, because Dawkins never gives page numbers. On page 16 (British hardcover edition), he begins to describe reactions to Einstein's public statement of his beliefs, gives a source for them, then parenthetically mentions that this source was his "main" source for all the quotes that came before. Does that mean some of them are not from that source? If so, where? Dawkins is silent.

I trust Dawkins, and am willing to believe he's gotten things mostly right, and don't feel the need to check he's accurately quoted Einstein. However, a standard rule of referencing is to be sure to cite anything that's especially difficult to believe. A section on the reaction to the Danish cartoons (page 25) claims that one sign at a protest read "Behead those who say Islam is a violent religion". This complete lack of irony is especially difficult to believe. Now, this is tangental to his main point, and three references do support major points in his description of the affair from Danish imams intentionally manufacturing protest and adding three additional images to the original set in order to provoke anger further. Sadly, I can easily believe the uncited, but plausible descriptions of violence that occured as a result of it. However, while getting upset about a few cartoons may not show intelligence, "Behead those who claim Islam is a violent religion" is ridiculously stupid, and therefore ought to have been cited.

Chapter 2 begins by setting out the existance of God as a minimal hypothesis, "There exists a super-human, upernatural intelligence who delibrately designed and created this universe, including us." He goes on to mention that individual religions add rather a lot of extra baggage to the hypothesis wihich makes it more and more improbable. He mentions polytheism, but explains that the arguments against it aren't significntly different than that of monotheism, and most of his readers are probably more familiar with monotheism. This is... to some extent fair enough. He also explains that the Trinity, angels, and saints are polytheism in all but name (an opinion I've long held myself). He deals at length with the deism and atheism of America's founding fathers, and their probable horror at religion taking over America, and it's great reading, and very convincing stuff. A summary of an incident from David Mills' book "Atheist Universe" on page 44 was very well chosen, but perhaps a bit too well chosen: it's far more exciting and readable than anything Dawkins writes himself, precisely because Dawkins has almost certainly never suffered significantly for his atheism, but Mills lives in America and has. Dawkins' detached style cannot compete with a good personal story.

Then he spends 9 pages on an unconvincing and, frankly, ridiculous discussion of "why the term agnostic is bad." He explains the source, T.H.Huxley, one of my favourite writers... then... redefines agnosticism as saying that the two possibilities are equally probable - that God's exostance and non-existance are both equally likely to be true.

This is poppycock. Unadulterated nonsense. Huxley was seperating himself from people who rejected religion outright on emotional grounds. He was defining agnostic as someone who analysed the evidence, and could find no evidence that God existed. Dawkins pulls his equal-probability claim out of thin air. This poorly-argued bit of claptrap should never have made the cut to reach the final book.

The second half of this section quotes half a dozen examples of undisprovable, but highly improbable things as supposed examples of why agnosticism (under his definition) with regards to questions of faith is foolish, and how the proper term is atheism. These range from Bertrand Russel's teapot orbiting between the Earth and Mars to invisible, intangible, and inaudible unicorns to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Also "the world is rhombus shaped and borne through the cosmos in the pincers of two enormous green lobsters" - which is highly disprovable, even easily disprovable, and should not have been mentioned.

This being Dawkins, he then has to spend a section attacking Gould. The concept of "non-overlapping magesteria" from Gould's "Rocks of Ages" (a book I admire), was one of Gould's many attempts to put religion in its place by defining it as precisely equal to ethics, and keeping it out of science.

Dawkins, however, spends 7 pages completely misconstruing Gould's points. Again. Is some great public demonstration of his inability to follow the logic of anything Gould writes at least once per book a requirement of his book contract or something? To be fair, though, his points in this section are perfectly valid, just directed at something Gould, a fellow atheist, didn't believe in the first place - which Dawkins admits on page 57 "I simply do not believe that Gould could possiblyt have meant much of what he wrote in Rocks of Ages", but goes on to say he, as Dawkins claimed Huxley did in his setting out of the meaning of agnosticism, was "bending over backwards to be nice to an unworthy but powerful opponent". Dawkins best evidence for this is that Gould says that we cannot comment on the question of God's existance as scientists. Dawkins reply that we can, however, comment on its probability. However, the key phrase is "as scientists": science does not work by what seems most likely or ought to be true. It works by making hypotheses, collecting evidence, and testing them. Dawkins' makes several arguments against this view, but all are very poor, and get increasingly far from anything Gould ever claimed as they go on. They all boil down to either "some things could potentially be proven one way or the other if we somehow got evidence" or simply saying that all logical endeavours count as science.

This section is his most flagrant example of lack of references: "How many literalists have read enough of the Bible to know that the death penalty is prescribed for adultery, for gathering sticks on the sabbath, and for cheeking your parents." The relevant verses are not given, though it's implied they're in Deuteronomy or Leviticus.

I'll lend a hand. The verses in question are Leviticus 20:10, Numbers 15:32-35 (Guess the implication was wrong), and Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Always make it as easy for someone to confirm a surprising revelation as possible. Being undeniably shown that sort of thing is in the Bible is a good way to demonstrate against inerrancy. Making vague assertions that sort of thing is in there is not.

However, I'm happy to say the rest of the chapter returns to the engaging and highly readable mood with which it opened.

May 3, 2007

Lolbees

HUGS
(Photo macro by LJ User Tiny_Monster)

A Lolbees community Exists On The Internet. I repeat: a Lolbees community Exists On The Internet.

... It's started by a Webcartoonist by the way.

May 5, 2007

Happy Freedom day!

Today, the Dutch, like the Mexicans, celebrate their freedom - specifically we celebrate our liberation from Nazi Germany in 1945. The day before May 5 is Remembrance Day, marked by flying the flag at half-mast and having 2 minutes of silence at 8 o'clock in the evening.

2007 has so far been the sort of year that sneaks up on you, or at least it's been for me. So despite seeing the flags and hearing it mentioned in the media, I forgot to commemorate the dead. Sorry, the dead!

Actually, for people my age and younger, it's pretty hard to put any concrete face on the dead of World War II. There is some public debate on whether Remembrance Day should continue. An overwhelming majority seem to think it should, which puzzles me a bit. Once everyone who knew someone who died in WW II is him/herself dead, it's going to be an empty sort of ritual, which I don't think is what the body politic needs.

Oddly, there doesn't seem to be an overwhelming majority for keeping the May 5 celebration, which is even stranger. The results of our liberation are with us every day and the benefits of not living in a fascist state can be explained to and understood by a small child. Even now, it's a far more relevant occasion than Remembrance. But as early as the 1980s, the celebration was downgraded to a lustral feast instead of an annual one. Luckily, that has been reversed, but the debate over it comes up every once in a while. I didn't hear it this year, but that was because I haven't been paying much attention to the media lately.

Maybe it's because Liberation Day celebrations are fun, and the Netherlands have for most of the post-war years been cursed with Christian-Democrat led governments (or their predecessors - the current CDA was formed, or rather congealed, in the late 1970s) run by people who don't like fun, or at least find it somewhat unseemly to enjoy oneself in public. In the past few decades, the most visible form of Liberation Day Celebration has been the Bevrijdingsfestivals, free music festivals in city parks. In other words, loud noises, drinks, greasy food and alternative/charity-oriented stalls selling or promoting stuff.

Personally, I'm not a big festival fan. I prefer seeing bands indoors, in some smelly den, in the dark, with good beer on tap. But today, it looks like it's gonna be nice weather outside, and there are some bands I'd like to see. If you're going to the Bevrijdingsfestival in Groningen, I'll be seeing Johan on the main stage at quarter past five, Planet Orange on the Local Heroes stage at half past seven, and Cochon Bleu on the northern stage at eight (schedules are approximate and subject to change at the last minute, though festivals these days do run a tighter ship than they used to). Meet me there over a watery festival beer!

Worth a read: Segregation Blues

From the Graun:

Folk music is liberalism with guitars, right? Wrong. Our understanding of it is based on deep-seated racism, argue Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor

...
One of the main tasks folk song collectors have always faced is choosing which of the many songs their informants sing are folk songs and which aren't. Most of them have thought this a relatively easy task: folk songs are uncommercial, pure products of a shared heritage, passed on from generation to generation, whereas pop songs are outside interlopers, invasive species that endanger the survival of the genetically unmodified, authentic, living tradition.

...most folklorists assumed that distinct and culturally separate groups ranging from American blacks to Appalachian whites still existed, despite the evidence that their music had undergone countless transformations through the mixing of traditions. John Lomax, who, along with his son Alan was the premier collector of American folk music, embarked on his monumental quest for black American folk songs in 1933 by defining them as the "songs that are ... the least contaminated by white influence or by modern negro jazz". What Lomax was really after, though, he had revealed a year earlier: he wanted to feel "carried across to Africa ... as if I were listening to the tom-toms of savage blacks". ...In other words, when deciding which songs were "most unlike those of the white race", Lomax would always choose the most primitive forms of expression, disregarding the jaw-dropping complexity and sophistication of much of the black music of his time.

The "white influence" was, of course, impossible for Lomax to escape. In the Southern black penitentiaries, where he assumed the prisoners would "slough off the white idiom they may have employed", his informants inevitably sang garbled versions of songs of black, white, and mixed origin, distantly remembered from their days of freedom. Lomax was also forceful in suggesting the kinds of songs he was looking for. In one recording he tries to cajole the blues singer Blind Willie McTell into playing some of that "complaining music" about hard times, in spite of McTell's protests that he didn't know any.

By contrast, the English folksong collector Cecil Sharp was interested in isolating white Britishness. He travelled the country lanes of England seeking out rural workers for their unadulterated traditional material. In their songs he saw a distant reflection of the "merrie England" of myth. Sharp then travelled to America to document the survival of the English and Scottish tradition in the isolated communities of the Appalachian mountains. At the time, one out of every eight Appalachians was black, but Sharp dubbed black Americans "a lower race", recoiled from towns with too high a proportion of them, and concentrated only on those songs he considered pure British folk song.

My own working definition of folk music is if it's gone through any kind of oral tradition it counts as folk, no matter the origin. Smoke on the Water? Totally folk. Works much better than any kind of purism.

Read the whole article (Via Crooked Timber). See also: Robert Johnson = Britney Spears.

May 6, 2007

The Lazarus experiment (spoilers)

....much better. The story of The Lazarus Experiment was a bit unambitious and consisted largely of chase scenes, but this time the people involved managed to hang some good direction and dialogue on that storyline, and while the resolution was a bit daft, it looked and sounded good enough to work. I liked the nod to the Third Doctor, and the first real appearance of Mr. Saxon's aide.

I am, however, getting a bit fed up with the design of the monsters - and by the way, having the lead bad guy turn into a monster? Yawn. The problem with many of the current crop of monsters is that they're all mandibles and spider legs and glistening skin and exposed internal organs and stingers and pinchers - all the outward signifiers of predatory dangerousness, but somehow they fail to impress. A Dalek, in comparison, really is a superior design. A Dalek doesn't look dangerous. It looks a bit preposterous right until it egg-whisks you to death. Much more effective. These monsters just look like they're overcompensating. And I will probably go to my grave believing that CGI monsters lack the necessary physical presence to be truly menacing.

But apart from that, here was one episode that I could enjoy again. Love Martha's mother. She's much more formidable than Jackie Tyler, just like her daughters are much more formidable than Rose.

Oooh, that trailer looked wonderful. Nice to see a familiar face again. One would almost forget it's going to be scripted by Chris bloody Cribnall....

I can't quite recall in which episode the Master did what Saxon's aide did in this one, poisoning people's minds against the Doctor. I think it was a Sixth Doctor episode, which would explain why I can't quite recall it. I recently watched a whole batch of Sixth and Seventh Doctor episodes and found the overwhelming majority of the Sixth Doctor's body of work to be intolerably bad. So I've in all likelihood repressed the memory. Was it Mark of the Rani?

Finally, I note with a weary heart that the science was bollocks again, though at least this script wasn't as brazen about it as that of Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks. It's a better quality of bollocks, if you will. I've noticed in the fan reviews on Livejournal that people have started spelling it "teh skience", which I take as a sign that they've given up on getting any science within the series that they can take seriously. Something for the producers to pay more attention to in Series 4, I guess.

No Doctor Who next week, but I'll probably find something to review. I'll either watch and review one of the DVDs that I haven't discussed yet, or download something especially to watch and review. Maybe a Dalek episode, or one featuring the Master.

Another slight schedule change for Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

This week, Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will update 4 times. Monday's update will be a filler-ish thing: a montage of panels from another comic that recapitulates what has happened in that other comic over the past month. Tuesday's update will be a proper ROCR comic, continuing from the events in that other comic. The other regular updates will be on Wednesday and Friday.

There may be a filler on Thursday, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Usually, the same time constraints that prevent me from making five comics a week also prevent me from creating fillers. This week's material has been pretty intensive to create, too.

Also, Krakatoa cast page for Invasion is up.

May 7, 2007

Action Figure Graveyard

DFG pointed me to Action Figure Graveyard, a wonderful surrealistic, science-and mythology-literate comic drawn in a loose, lively art style. The archive has only 34 comics, but each of them is a full-colour, full-page bundle of awesomeness and glee.

I'd also put up the makers, House and Greer, for a webdesign award, because their clean, uncluttered design with just one persistent mindfuck in it - the back to front navigation buttons - is a work of evil genius in its own right.

I'd particularly recommend it for fans of Dresden Codak and XKCD, even though it doesn't really resemble those comics at all. It just hits the nerd buttons in the same way.

May 8, 2007

Reconceptualising micropayments.

Micropayments are a perfectly valid and succesful business tool - as long as the end user stays out of the picture

In the wake of the failure of Bitpass and Scott McCloud's decision to stop charging a micropayment for The Right Number, discussion of micropayments as an option for making money with web content, specifically, webcomics, has flared up again. Note, for example, Clay Shirky declaring victory for his side of an argument that took place several years ago. Joey Manley thought the tone of the article was a bit vindictive, but like several commenters to Joey's post, I think it was necessary for Shirky to make the post so that debate had some closure.

Of course, these things never truly end. On Comixpedia, Joel Fagin has another go at it, making some good points about the difference between a service and a project and arguing that that distinction, not micropayments themselves, are what caused micropayment-supported webcomics to fail. As long as webcomics are sold as a service (you pay to login and see the comics on the server), rather than a product (you pay for comics to download and keep), they won't be worth charging for. As an example of a micropayment-enabled product, Fagin cites iTunes (and comment hijinx ensue).

I have trouble with the idea of iTunes as a micropayments business, though a quick look at the Wikipedia article on micropayments suggests that it qualifies, because the payments involved are too small to process economically through the credit card system, and aggregated inside iTunes' billing system on a weekly basis. But I don't think the 1-dollar per song price tag was what micropayments' original boosters had in mind. The Case For Micropayments by Jakob Nielsen, from 1998 (that's how long we've had this conversation, folks), talks in terms of cents rather than dollars. That's a big difference.

By the definition that allows iTunes to be a micropayments-based business, Modern Tales is one - though no longer primarily so. In its original business model, prices for monthly subscriptions were in the too-small-for-credit-cards category, but annual subscriptions were not. Today, of course, most of the content is free, supported by ads from Google and Project Wonderful.

What happens internally at Modern Tales is a lot closer to the original idea of micropayments than what happens at the customer level at Modern Tales, or at iTunes. When a subscriber clicks on a link to an archived Modern Tales comic, that creator gets points equivalent to the number of comics pages served as a result of that link. These points get aggregated and divided by the total number of points in a given period to give a percentage of the earnings that the cartoonist should get. I'll spare you the details, but "points" act as stand-ins for really small sums of money - i.e. micropayments.
Likewise, Project Wonderful's cost-per-day, measured in tiny sums of money that are aggregated in advance by the advertiser, is a micropayment-based system. Come to think of it, for most smaller hosts, Google Ads' internal accounting and aggregation would count as well.

In the backends of web-based businesses, micropayments are used all the time. Maybe that distinction, between charging micropayments to end users and charging them to advertisers or publishers/portals, is more meaningful than the distinction between products and services.

It's probably ironic that the biggest boosters of micropayments wanted them to kill ads, when what micropayments actually do is enable them on more sites that wouldn't otherwise have had them.

Dreams of unfinished business

Kim (who promises she will write something in the blog when she has time) was over at my house this evening, and over dinner we did our usual thing in which we discussed life, the universe and everything, but mostly my appallingly bad financial prospects. She pushed me to do some back-of-the-envelope budget calculations, which indicate that a call-center job, which I've been sort of halfheartedly pursuing lately, would not be enough to get me out of the woods unless I did it full-time for several months (meaning no new comics for a while). That's going to make my attempts even more half-hearted... more on money, jobs, and such in another post at a later date - soon, because the problem is becoming just a little bit urgent.

While discussing other lines of work, I mentioned a recurring dream I'd had, in which I am back at University to claim and document credits for classes that I'd passed exams for but which somehow hadn't end up on my final credit list. In the dream, I'm doing this so I can finally get my diploma. It's one of those dreams that look and feel realistic enough to convince me, for some time after waking up, that what I just experienced was real. It can take me up to a day to realise that, hey, I did in fact get my University diploma in 1995.

Kim mentioned that she had a similar recurring dream, usually to do with credits from her second year at the University, which was a nightmare.

I can't help but wonder if these dreams turn up as a result of some barely-registered worry that we have unfinished business at the University, or some rather more obvious low-level worry that we've let the side down during and after our University education. Kim is one of the most intelligent and able people I know, and I, ehrm, I graduated from the Praedinius Gymnasium with excellent grades. My progress through University had a flying start, but after the second or so year, I got lazy and disengaged, leading to worsening grades and a final paper that was sort of mediocre. After that, I did a number of things but mostly remained stuck in "I don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but I can't be arsed to decide now" mode until a disastrous three-year spell at a software company at least gave me a picture of what I didn't want. Kim always did well, but her final paper became a nightmare lasting a decade, marked by one setback after another. That's a story that's for her to tell, though, if she wants to.

And here I am, twelve years after I got a piece of paper saying I was really quite smart and learned, and I'm contemplating taking a low-wage job to make ends meet. Yeah, I guess something went wrong, though if you consider that I held out for six years since quitting that last job, doing creative work all that time, you could argue that something (finally) went right. I've thought about going back to school a couple of times, and the fact that Kim's now pursuing a postgraduate position at the University of Groningen is sort of tickling my interest right now. Do I have unfinished business? Should I try and go back and prove that I'm worthy of that chit after all?

Bizarre testing experience

Racing heart, hyperventilation and the screaming heebie-jeebies - and that was just the practice run!

The hunt for temporary employment is on. On Calvin Bexfield's advice, I applied with a temp agency serving the call center industry. The original plan was to get into phone support for the revenue service, because despite my limited expertise in tax matters, I get asked about them all the time (similar to me and computers, really. People see me, they conclude that I must be some sort of computer nerd and ask me questions which usually turn out to be above my actual skill level. Sometimes, I manage to be helpful anyway). That didn't work out, because the revenue has strict rules about who gets to peek into their database, and people with their own companies (as defined at least in part by having their own VAT number) aren't allowed to do so. Can't fault them for drawing a line, I guess, but it was a bit of a bummer for me that they've drawn it there. I'm not even registered at a chamber of commerce...

Still, the agency needs people, hard, so they've contacted me twice about other opportunities, quizzing me about my past experiences and my ability to do cross-selling. They also practiced some cross-selling on me by bringing up the possibility of doing outbound telemarketing, which I flatly refused. I do have some pride left. And they sent me a link to a test to fill in.

The test is interesting. It consists of three parts: a Dutch language proficiency test, which I don't think was problematic*); a speed and accuracy test, which I didn't get around to doing, and a timed skills test, which was the reason I didn't get around to doing the speed and accuracy test.

The skills test consists of exercises in which you have to read a piece of test and then enter data extracted from it into a web form, as if someone is telling you his travel plans over the phone and you have to replicate them in a web based travel planner to tell them when to leave. Before the actual test, you get two opportunities to do a practice run, so you at least know the drill in advance. I did the first, got a twitchy mouse, hit a TAB key causing me to get knocked out of the window, and just about failed to finish in time. I did the second and finished that in time... but at the end, my heart was racing, I was hyperventilating, my hands were shaking and I needed to get away from the screen for a little while. Once I'd recovered, I fired off an email telling the agency I was calling the whole thing off.

To be clear about this, what I experienced wasn't normal test stress. I've done exams. I've done IQ tests (under time pressure) as part of the application process for other jobs. I've done job interviews, performance reviews, all the regular stress fests that come with getting and keeping jobs. I've worked to deadline, I've worked past deadline. I've taught classes full of unruly children. I know how the body normally primes itself for pressure and this wasn't it. I've never had stress symptoms physically incapacitate me.

Calvin tells me that the actual work he does is pretty much at the other extreme from this - that it's dull and that his biggest problem is not falling asleep. Let's hope the next agency I try has some more representative tests, then, because I can't cope with this one.

Has anyone else reading this had this experience? How do I prevent it from happening again?

*)Though, to be honest, it was more difficult than I expected. I am becoming like those geezers my own generation used to mock, who'd had their primary education before 1952 and still spelled common words according to the official spelling rules of the day. Since I left University, there have been not one, but two official spelling reforms, the latter of which was so controversial that an organisation was founded to promote an alternate spelling manual. This has eroded my confidence in my own Dutch spelling prowess, which used to be formidable, but probably isn't anymore.

May 9, 2007

Lolskwirrel!

Reader Doc commented to this comic saying "Lolskwirrel!", so I took that ball and ran with it. Here are some Lolskwurl ads:
Lolskwurl!

I'm in ur cosmos stealin ur realiteez

Preti Kolrz I has invented antigravity
The first three will go live tonight as Project Wonderful ads. I need to ask Starline Hodge permission to use the last one, because the character Menjou belongs to her. As the actual art is all mine, I can post it here, but I draw the line at slapping it across potentially hundreds of websites without her approval.

Does anyone want base images to make their own Lolskwirrel ads?

May 10, 2007

Beer and morons - Two items worth reading

First: Beer! Crooked Timber's pet contrarian, Daniel Davies, writes In Praise of Budweiser in which he argues that the much-reviled American beer is a perfectly tasty product, not a ripoff of Budvar beer and by any criteria every bit as good as any British Real Ale. He discusses its history, its recipe, the merits of using rice as a brewing grain, and beer as an industrial product. Of all the evidence he mentions, taste is the one that is the most subjective and contentious, but on this issue, he backs up his argument with science:

Budweiser does not taste like piss. Normal urine has a pH of 4.6 to 8.0. Budweiser, like most lagers, has a pH of around 4.0. Therefore, Budweiser is definitely more acidic than piss. It’s also just the ticket if you happen to be drinking beer for breakfast, as the fresh taste of the rice content goes particularly well with most cereals (it is not coincidental that nobody has yet marketed Barley Krispies).

Read the rest.

Second: Morons! P.Z. Myers has something to say about March of the Morons and the familiar underlying argument that stupid people will outbreed smart ones:

The most troubling part of it all is the attempt to root the distinction in biology—it's intrinsic. "They" are lesser beings than "us" because, while their gonads work marvelously well, their brains are inherently less capacious and their children are born with less ability. It's the kind of unwarranted labeling of people that leads to decisions like "three generations of imbeciles are enough"—bigotry built on bad biology to justify suppression by class.

People, they are us.

There are no grounds to argue that there are distinct subpopulations of people with different potentials for intelligence. Genes flow fluidly — if you sneer at the underclass and think your line is superior, I suspect you won't have to go back very many generations to find your stock comes out of that same seething mob. Do you have any Irish, or Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Asian, or whatever (literally—it's hard to find any ethnic origin that wasn't despised at some time) in your ancestry? Go back a hundred years or so, and your great- or great-great-grandparents were regarded as apes or subhumans or mentally deficient lackeys suitable only for menial labor.

Are you staring aghast at the latest cluster of immigrants in this country, are you fretting that they're breeding like rabbits? That generation of children will be the people your kids grow up with, go to school with, date, and marry. It may take a while, but eventually, your line will merge with theirs. Presuming you propagate at all, your genes are destined to disperse into that great living pool of humanity. Get used to it.


Again, read the whole thing and might I add that if I'm ever stuck out at sea in a small lifeboat with a Young Earth Creationist Jesus-Zombie type of person and a Social Darwinist, I will conspire with the Jesus Zombie to eat the Social Darwinist first. They're just about the one group of people that get my hackles up more than outright evolution-deniers.

May 14, 2007

Timmerryn's run on Dangerous and Fluffy starts today.

Adam, who is leaning over my shoulder as I speak, reminds me to mention that Timmerryn/Rahball's run on Dangerous and Fluffy started this weekend. Timm brought a lighter touch and atmosphere to the comic during its first run, fitting the farcical turn Adam's writing was taking at the time.
Timm appears to have dropped out of comics, though, and hasn't even posted on this blog much, despite being a co-blogger since almost the beginning. Too bad as Timm's work on this and The Pantheon was always fun to read.

There's about three months' worth of reruns left - three months for Adam to find Artist No. 3. I'm not sure if he's put out a call, but it's likely he will.

A beginner's guide to Eurovision

Mr. Bob posted this on the Comicgenesis forums (I think it's by him. It's not credited but it looks like his style and is the sort of thing he would do. Besides only a Dutch artist would give that much prominence to the Dutch-Belgian blocquette): A beginner's guide to Eurovision for Americans and other lifeforms of feeble intellect and little awareness of the outside world
Stereotypes galore, but actually pretty accurate. Especially about the Dutch having to be high to think they have a chance to ever win it again.

Thou shalt not watch that, thou shalt watch this!

Thou shalt not watch this on YouTube*) for the stupidity will make thy brain dribble out of thine ears. Thou shalt watch it here**)

*) Unless thou hast the Greasemonkey Tamer script for Firefox (Via) and even then, as I haven't been able to download it to test it, I can't unconditionally recommend that.

**) or at Progressive Gold, for it was Martin Wisse who first revealed this to the unwashed masses, or at least one unwashed mass. You know, just in case you're reading this through an RSS feed that doesn't pick up embedded objects...

May 15, 2007

[Adam Cuerden] Groningen bij Dag

Well, I'm back from my holiday, and really should do the rest of that 75% finished Baraminology post. It even has nevw illustrative material. But first, the visit to co-bloggers Reinder, Jeroen, and Secret Guest Co-Blogger who May or May Not post.

It was a fun, if somewhat subdued trip, due to me recovering from a rather long illness. Got quite a lot of Dutch comics at the Stripmuseum, got enough liquorice to be sick of it for a while, practiced drawing and finally finished some old art and generally had fun with friends.

But the reason for this weekend in particular was to make fun of Eurovision, so, let's begin. I type up my notes as taken on the day, without much commentary. It's much more fun that way.

Bosnia and Herzegovenia: Very poor visuals, but a good, well-written Eastern European folksong. The lead singer was wearing a dress like a cabbage, surrounded by women staying perfectly still in odd poses and some idiotic-looking fellow with some folk-guitar - probably a balalika - serenaded her.

Spain Endlessly repetitive, but energeticly agressive song. Four posers in white suits dancing quite well, but over-choreographed. Terrible background.

Belarus At first, I thought this might be alright, then they started singing.Nice visuals, good effects with people seeing to become attached to walls.

(This was followed by a transition featuring a particularly ugly man wearing almost nothing diving into a hot spring.)

Ireland It was something like a stereotypical Irish song sung by a woman who was... either panicked or on drugs. I suspect there will be more blogging on this entry over the next few days.

Finland Elvira, Mistress of the Dark returns! And sings a not half-bad song. Sounded like something Cher would sing. Not crap, not great.

Macedonia Pure crap.

(This was followed by a transition which involved making an ice sculpture, then setting it on fire. What the hell?)

Slovenia Gothic music meets Eastern European folk music with a snappy disco beat. It... kind of works.

Hungary A pretty good blues song by a person with a good voice and a pleasant girl-next-door appearance. Probably the best so far by a long ways. One of the few I'd happily listen to again, though, admittedly, listening to it again as I type it up, it's still pretty good, but not as good as I remembered it. Singer's great though.

Lithuania Pretty average song, of the sort you'd find in a modern musical like Chess or as a background to a movie. Boring, but not ear-bleeding.

Greece Music to film porn to. If the lead singer's involved, gay porn.

Georgia Not bad, whatr's with the caucasian men dressed as Japanese warriors dancing with swords?
Sweden Crossdressing man singing a retro song out of the 70's. Catchy, but music to line dance to.

France Flaming homosexuals do country and western. Badly.

Latvia Very... old-fashioned song, in Italian. That will not end, Augh!!!!! [Last four words underlined repeatedly]

Russia Five strong, agressive women's group singing a 1980's / 90's song with a strong, rocking beat. [I didn't write much on this one, probably because it was the best of the songs, and so I was distracted actually listening to it]

Germany 1940's cabaret, very well done.

Serbia Butch girl dressed as a man surrounded by beautiful women. Awfully like a bad Cher song, but far better sung.

Ukraine Bad transvestite. No further information too drunk from keychange dinking game. Keyc hanges every few seconds. At least 12. [This one's very poorly written. I was pretty drunk by then]

U.K. Stewardesses [spelt Stueurdesses - I was drunk] and stewards with inuendo by "Are You Being Served". That's about it. Done in the most awful, boriing manner, but while looking for the video, I found this version which is... far, far better, if still very silly. I suppose humour really is all in the performance, and the Eurovision performance... sucked mightily..

Romania: What the fuck? This cheesy song about love is like a children's program's theme song. Lots of key changes.

Bulgaria ...the Hell?

Turkey To quote what I wrote at the time: "I'm oo drunk to comment on this... thing. See 'Ukraine'." I'm too scared to watch it again to find out what I meant.

Armenia See Reinder's comments. At the time, I was only able to write "Can't stop laughing. What the hell?" I did laugh the entire time it was on, and could not stop. Sadly,. it still has that effect on me.

Moldova For some reason, I never wrote anything on this at the time. Watching a bit of it, I think my brain may be trying to block the memory. Nice use of classical modes, though. Pity they forgot about giving the singer a melody.


Conclusions: Russia by far the best. Hungary and Germany pretty good, a few others are alright. Several total clunkers. Don't know why Serbia won. Maybe people really like Cher and girls that look like fat 16 year old boys.

Six Apart picked apart.

While doing some background research on my Eurosong Drunk-But-Not-Quite-LiveBlogging report, I found a Corante post entitled Six Apart Spins Like a Whirling Dervish in which tech blogger Strange Attractor picks apart a Six Apart press release:

Most commercial installations don't have big server farms, nor do they have lots of technical staff. Yet even if you do chuck a few extra blades and a couple of developers at the problem, it's still difficult to make MT work in either mode, static or dynamic, if you're being hammered by spammers. Again, writing popular posts isn't the problem. Serving pages isn't the problem. Comments are the problem. Now, it's very easy to blame the spammers, but the sad fact is that spammers aren't going to go away, and tools have to be built to withstand their onslaughts. MT isn't. It didn't matter how many servers you threw at MT 3.2x, comment spam could still kill them.

Oh, and just to nitpick... all that lovely open source stuff from LiveJournal? Well, let's remember that minor point of fact that 6A bought LJ for its open source goodies. No sneakily trying to claim credit for LJ, please.


You might've seen this effect already — ever check out a link that's been promoted on a big site like Digg or Slashdot and been faced with a "database connection error" when you visit the blog that got Dugg? Well, Movable Type is designed to prevent you from ever having to face that problem.

I feel like a broken record. Spam, guys, spam. Not the Slashdot Effect. (For the record, I've noticed that the Slashdot Effect is nowhere near as strong as it used to be anyway.)

Word. Rebuilds of comment spams that pass the filters take forever and sometimes fail, leaving the spam in the published posts. Regular expression filters don't work. Spam has hosed a previous installation of this blog so severely that it took down all of Xepher.net with it, causing Xepher to add resource limits to all processes. When I upgraded, every single rebuild hit those limits, until we switched the blog over to another database (to be fair, that move from ancient BerkeleyDB to SQLite was long overdue anyway). Since then, Movable Type has caused ROCR.net to go down at least once as a result of hitting the resource limits under an avalanche of trackback spam (this time, thanks to said limits, the rest of the server was spared). Since I had already stopped allowing trackbacks on the blog, I have been able to prevent a reoccurrence by chmodding mt-tb.cgi to 000 - I recommend that MT users do that to every script they don't use, so if you get your comments from Haloscan, nix your mt-comments.cgi.

Movable Type offers lots of neat functionality, particularly including easy multi-blogging, but the product's appeal has definitely faded for me. Moving to another system would require importing blog entries so that their URLs don't change, setting up multi-blogging and introducing five other people to a new blogging interface, none of which sound like fun ways to spend my time. But the next time I feel the urge to upgrade, I will probably suck it up and move to Wordpress.

Not-quite-live-but-definitely-drunk-Eurosong-blogging

Sorry I didn't post this on Sunday. I was hungover. After that I was kind of busy for a while. Just pretend I had to get it off Bittorrent like my weeklyDoctor Who episodes. Adam has already posted links to YouTube vids for all the entries, so I won't do that again. Here are my notes from the evening, edited so that they at least approach comprehensibility. I'll have some more substantive comments on the losing entry at the end of the post.

Continue reading "Not-quite-live-but-definitely-drunk-Eurosong-blogging" »

May 16, 2007

Slight delay in today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan

Today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan will appear a couple of hours later than usual, in an attempt to synch it up with Sharing a Universe, with which it is crossing over and which usually updates at around 10-ish, CET. Do not be alarmed.

While I'm discussing the scheduling, apologies for the unannounced missed Tuesday and Thursday updates. There'll be an update tomorrow, and I'll have some extra, non-story updates this weekend to make up. BTW, I still intend to make up fully for deviating from my plan to update 365 times this year.

Now that I am Dead

Because Adam heard this song while he was in Groningen and asked about it:

Richard Thompson - Now That I Am Dead. The sound is a bit low, but once you've turned up the volume it turns out to be decent quality.

And because you can always have some more Richard Thompson:

The Ghost Of You Walks, with Danny Thompson, performed on Jools Holland's show fairly recently, judging from how D.T. looks.


1952 Vincent Black Lightning, unsourced solo performance, probably 2004-2006.

Finally, some Fairport:

Now Be Thankful, performed by the Full House line-up in 1970, with Dave Swarbrick on vocals. Richard was a funny-looking young man, wasn't he?

May 17, 2007

Attention all studio-mates: We're locked out.

Jelena and Calvin are the only ones who don't know this yet, but as Jelena at least reads this blog, I might as well go on.
As of 20:15 tonight, the building above Groningen's outdoor public pool where our studio is is empty of people, and effectively sealed. I know this because Jeroen called me at home at a little before eight to ask for advice on how to get Josje out of there. Since the public pool below the studios was still open, I suggested that she might be able to get out through the winding platform at the back, swinging herself around the edges of the big metal barricade that separates the pool grounds from the office block. I've done this, and I'm not particularly flexible, strong or brave; however, I also said she should only tried this if she was absolutely confident she could do it. I was relieved to hear a few minutes later that there were still some pool staff around and one of them had helped her out with a stepladder. Jeroen and Josje then rang all the intercoms to see if there were still people inside, as this would have been their last chance to get out.*)

We've all been waiting for this to happen. As early as last Thursday, the outside gate door couldn't be opened from the outside once it had fallen shut, so people had taken to taping over the mortice latch so the door wouldn't fall shut. Of course, tape breaks and has to be replaced, and forcing the door open isn't good for security.

On Monday I called the owners, a Groningen housing corporation, to ask them to fix this. On Tuesday, I called them again, and this time, one showed up. He soon left again, because locks weren't his area of expertise. Yesterday, a damage assessor came by to check the condition of the lock.

The repairman who came by on Tuesday did one thing that on the surface seemed cleverer and more elegant than taping over the mortice latch - he turned the lock outward while the door was open so it couldn't close. An obvious idea that I've used in the past when I absolutely needed a door kept open. However, someone left the building today and turned the lock back inward, then closed it behind him. When Josje wanted to leave a few hours later, the door wouldn't open.

So... tomorrow we'll all be raising a stink about this, because there's several dozen people working in there and none of them will be able to get in. Until then, don't be surprised if you arrive to find the door closed. If you absolutely must get in, bring gloves, and beware that you may not easily be able to get out again.

Continue reading "Attention all studio-mates: We're locked out." »

Under lock and key

I consider locks useful; I like my bike for instance, and would be walking a lot if I didn't keep it locked when not using it. When you lose power over a lock however, when you turn the key and nothing happens, locks don't just turn into paperweights, they turn against you.
We've been having trouble with the lock on the gate to our studio for about a week or so, it was being fickle, and finally seemed to stop working. The gate was opened with the lock locked, so the gate door couldn't close anymore. Not very safe for our possessions, although still protected by another door, but at least with an entrance that functioned - you could still walk in and out. A man had been over to look at it, but after looking at it he discovered he didn't know how to fix it and went away again. Yes, because that is how you do your job. Try, and if you fail, walk away.
This evening studio mate Josje called up and asked if I could come to the studio; someone had locked the gate, and the lock wouldn't budge anymore. She was locked in. Unfortunately, because of people swimming illegally in the neighboring swimming pool, security has been tightened the past year. Gates have been reinforced, and ugly spikes have been added. It helps keeping people out, but it also turns the building into a prison when the lock to the sole entrance freezes. With some directions from me outside, she tried climbing over the fence where it looked least likely she would become impaled. Finding no spot that would guarantuee any safe escape, we discovered the swimming pool was still open to the public. We found a lifeguard who, after explaining Josje was trying to break out, and not in, was kind enough to supply us with a ladder, and Josje managed to climb out into freedom. Leaving her bike inside, alas, forcing her to walk home.
Where does this leave us? Well, our possessions are very, very safe at the moment.
Anyone have use for a 2 story paperweight?

May 18, 2007

Lockout update

We can get in again. All is well, though the fixes to the lock are only temporary and more work will have to be done. Our neighbour Ane is as unhappy as we are with the owners' response to our phone calls, though I for one don't see much reason to pursue the matter further.

Calvin told me he knew another way into the premises, though it's one that relies on having long legs, especially if you want to reproduce at some point in your life. I'll ask him to show it to me anyway, just in case.

May 19, 2007

Pain

There's a descriptions in "The Provinical Lady Goes to War" by E.M. Delafield where the hospitals are trying to keep beds cleared for any soldiers or bombed civilians that need them, despite WWII still being in its long opening phase where everyone's sitting around. We're told of them insisting a man was healthy enough to be discharged until he died on them.

That was from about 1940. Today, I learned things haven't changed much.

I got a severe case of food poisoning with enough pain that I wished for death. I eventually passed out from it and the exhaustion of all the vomiting. The hospital refused to give me painkillers until I was being checked out, then insisted I walk out immediately, instead of agreeing to get a wheelchair or give them time to kick in, or they'd call security on me. Because I was able to walk a few feet before the ambulance ride that was a half hour of shaking and severe pain, and of course my pain can't have changed.

I have never felt so helpless and uncared for in my life.

(N.B. Still pretty bad, but hurrah for codeine! Making life actually bearable!)

Grimborg Wallpaper

Click to see the Grimborg wallpaper
Over the next few weekends I'll be bringing back some of the desktop wallpapers I've done since 2002-ish. Given enough time and good enough ideas, I may even make some new ones.

There was a wallpaper page on the old Comicgenesis site, but the images linked from there either had become unavailable as a result of the latest server reshuffle in the Modern Tales family of sites (they were hosted on Webcomicsnation's ftp server, which no longer exists) or they're about to become unavailable (the older images are hosted at the old users.bart.nl/~samizdat site, which will probably close down once my bart.nl subscription ends). Rather than just create a copy of that old wallpaper page on the current site, I've decided to give each image a day on the front page, where they're more likely to be noticed and maybe even commented on. That should help me with the production of new wallpapers and new formats for the old ones - if people ask for versions that fit on a giant screen like the high-end ones at the Apple store, I'll create them. There will also a discreet Paypal link under each wallpaper, in the hope of subsidising the comic a little more.

Of course, like all the other non-comic content that has been posted since the start of Invasion, the wallpapers will be moved out of the story archives eventually.

This first wallpaper is from 2005 and is based on the end of the Rite of Serfdom storyline. It was coloured for me by Jamie Robertson of Clan of the Cats and used in an advertising campaign. I should get back to him and ask him if he still has the ad graphics, which I've since lost.

May 20, 2007

42

"42" was easily the best looking Doctor Who episode ever, with beatifully designed glowy sets, lots of fire and blinking lights and eldritch glowing eyes, more great-looking, sweating, intense actors, all wonderfully shot by Doctor Who veteran Graeme Harper.

Plotwise, though, it was a bit routine. Just another "base under siege with a time bomb" story, and the fact that the time bomb was a sun doesn't work to disguise that at all. Then again, this was a Chris Chibnall script, so expectations were low, and in fact expectations were exceeded. The story did not embarrass like Chibnall's ham-handed writing on Torchwood. Thankfully, little attempt at characterisation was made and the emphasis was all on keeping up the suspense and on the business of running around, issuing commands, opening doors and trying not to get burned into vapour. On that basis it worked well, even though very little happened that was at all remarkable.

On the whole, better than it could have been, and mostly made memorable by its looks.

Sullivant wallpaper

Retro wallpaper showing cast from The Rite of Serfdom

The second wallpaper I'm bringing back is one that was inspired by the work of T.S. Sullivant, an early 20th-Century cartoonist who combined the draughtsmanship of Victorian-era illustrators with a lively, innovative style, especially in his later years. Sullivant was one of the first cartoonists to distort the proportions of the characters he drew, giving them freakishly large heads. This is commonplace now but must have seemed revolutionary back in 1920. I particularly like his Biblical cartoons and his cartoons featuring animals. His animal caricature still looks fresh after almost a century. Every few years or so, I get the urge to replicate that look, and this the result of one of those urges.

When this wallpaper was first published, Adam commented that he thought the faces looked kind of mean and evil. I guess they do if you're not used to the way Sullivant drew expression. I did my best to imitate that and other aspects of the great man's style, even though this attempt was doomed to failure. I'm not fit to lick the boots of the guy who licks his boots. But it was fun to do, and on its own, this is actually one of the better wallpapers I've done. For one, it actually keeps to the background instead of crowding out the desktop icons as most of my wallpapers do.

I originally published this as an extra for donors and Modern Tales subscribers. It... didn't take off. Perhaps I didn't have the reader base. Perhaps not enough people even got to know about it; this is why this time around, it's getting a full day on the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan front page instead of being tucked away in the archive right away. Of course, it will be moved into a new Downloads section of the site very soon.

Or perhaps it was the worst possible timing. If I remember correctly, it was posted just weeks before the Modern Tales server crash, which rendered the images inaccessible for weeks on end and, over time, rendered the whole issue of whether I could incentivize people to subscribe completely and utterly moot.

This time around, there's a discreet donation link at the bottom of the posted page, but it's not compulsory to donate in order to download and use the wallpapers. If you donate, money will be used to subsidise, well, me, while I produce more comics and hopefully more downloadable art.

May 21, 2007

Fan art by Rich Morris

Update: Rocr.net now has a fan art section of its own. It will fill up a little more with old material as I find and prepare it.

Rich Morris of Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic sent this fan art:
Glon and Kel
and a fine one it is too.

By the way, I drew his characters Gren and Bob as fan art for YAFGC a month ago and had my characters pay a visit to their universe in the comic for March, 28, 2007.

This new fan art brings up a slight categorisation problem. I've been putting new art sent in by readers in the fan art section for Invasion over on the Chronicles of the Witch Queen site, because all the recent ones had been specific to that storyline anyway. This one isn't. There are several other lost fan arts that used to be collected in my Gallery installation - maybe I should re-add a fan art section to ROCR.net. Until I do, though, fan arts will be shown in the blog.

May 22, 2007

Fundraiser

Help me make rent in June - get more updates in return

My biggest freelance client folded last month, and teaching work has been thin on the ground lately. As a result, I'm coming up short for rent and property taxes*) this month. So here's what I want to do:

I need $ 600 to cover this month's rent emergency. Time's run out for me to raise that by finding and getting a job during the last week of May, but I may be able to raise it by working for you, the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan readers. The update frequency of the comic has dropped to 3 a week, but I can do more, if I'm not distracted by precisely the things that I am dealing with now - the need to do other things to put money in my pocket. So, for each $ 80 that you, collectively, donate in the final week of May, I will add one extra update to the schedule in June - all the way back up to seven updates a week if that much ends up being raised, but, like I said, I only need $ 600.

Last week, two people donated money - the first donations I'd had in a long time. I'll credit that to the fundraiser, so we start with $ 15 out of $ 600 in the collection box.

Invasion, by the way, will take about 20 to 30 updates to complete, so it can be finished in a month if enough people donate to bump up the schedule. After Invasion, I have three projects planned that I really want to do, and which you will like too if you like Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan so far: a story called Muscle written by Adam Cuerden; King Groy, a rewritten, redrawn version of the story in which Kel met Jodoque, which is still missing from the archived continuity, and Feral, the story that was interrupted late last year. Donate now to get previews from these stories, starting with an unfinished page from Feral.

Raised so far: $ 25 (May 22, 15:20 CET)

*)Yes, I'm paying property taxes on a property I don't own. Can't get a rebate either unless I draw either a benefit or a salary. This is actually surprising to quite a few people in the Netherlands as well, but it's how it works here.

May 27, 2007

Human Nature - slight spoilers

Whew! Edge of my seat. Great stuff, nearly perfect with only a few moments of stupid to mar it - all of them to do with Martha Jones, unfortunately. Well, one of them was to do with the writers hitting us over the head with her infatuation for the Doctor, and the other was with her acting out of character. Martha Jones is supposed to be this ultra-competent companion, and in this episode, she's shown to be obsessed with the Doctor's pre-recorded instructions to her. Even after the loss of the watch, I found it difficult to believe she'd panic like she did. Now that I mention it, even that doesn't seem all that bad.

So just for once, my gripes are very minor. Doctor Who can still be good! Wonderful acting from David Tennant as "John Smith" as well. I can't wait for next week's conclusion of this two-parter.

No more tentacled abominations, Denialism, Dispatches from the Culture Wars for now...

Someone forgot to renew a domain name, and that someone is Seed Magazine, who own Scienceblogs.com. The domain has already been snapped up by another organisation, who I shan't link to because they must have been preying over it like vultures to pick it up so quickly. Scumbags.

I hope someone's at least archived Pharyngula. There was a piece by PZ still showing up in Bloglines that I wanted to read, but it wasn't a full feed, so I kinda needed to be able to go to the site.

Let's hope this is resolved quickly.

Two more wallpapers, fundraiser update, art for sale

Two more wallpapers went up this weekend:
Do you know the way to the Office of Rites
Do You Know the Way to the Office of Rites?; and
Witches' Sabbath
Witches' Sabbath.
This time around, I won't repeat what's in the blurbs. I'll also be moving the materials to the new Downloads section first thing tomorrow morning. The reason for that is that I was showing the site to some visitors to the studio today, and I found that the wallpapers did interfere with the flow of the site too much. They need their day in the sun, but no more than that.

Like before, the wallpapers are free to use, but if you like them and use them, please consider donating to my fundraiser to help me cover expenses in June. The fundraiser is going pretty well, but we're only just past the halfway point of what I need to cover rent and council taxes. Donating gives you access to bonus material, and for every $ 80 donated during the fundraiser, I'll add one update to the schedule for June.

Also, I'm working on selling some art online. Today, I got one piece listed on the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet; you can buy the original art for the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic for March 5, 2007 for $ 75 including shipping. There will be an A4 colour print of the finished page included.

Tomorrow, I'll set up a large number of Swapmeet listings for original line art, starting with all the pages that Calvin Bexfield did backgrounds on. Those are, on the whole, a lot better than my solo pages, which just goes to show how much he adds to the art. I'll try to set up as many as I can in an hour or so. I have to say, though, that I find Webcomicsnation's Swapmeet interface clunky and restrictive. You can't set up horizontal thumbnails, you can't upload larger previews, and you can't even use HTML in the description to link to the page as it appeared on the website. On the other hand, it's been around for a few years now, and it works. And the service came with my free WCN account. I will look into getting my pages listed on Comicspace's art market - it's a subscription-only service, but I guess I can scrape together the funds now to get a one-month trial subscription. It looks like it'll be a more convenient, efficient way to list original art - especially if it allows me to use alternate images for original galleries (i.e. a user looking at, say, this Headsmen page can click on "buy this page" and see the original artwork on the purchase page), But even if it doesn't allow that, setting up a separate gallery of "raw" line art is likely to be easier in Comicspace than WCN. I'll see about it.

May 28, 2007

Four more pages for sale!

Since the first original Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan page I offered for sale was snapped up so quickly, I'm offering four more for sale through the Webcomicsnation Swapmeet:

Original art for March 2, 2007, $80.

Original art for March 7, 2007, $80.

Original art for March 6, 2007, $80.

Original art for May 30, 2007. This page hasn't even been published yet, but it's already available. $80.

All originals have foreground art by Reinder Dijkhuis and very detailed background art by Calvin Bexfield. All prices include shipping and handling.

No thumbnails, as Webcomicsnation's clunky interface requires vertical-oriented thumbnails. Just look at the originals on their seller pages, or look at the finished products on their archived web pages.

I do requests! I will offer other pages for sale if people request them, provided I judge them to be suitable. Some pages have foreground and background art on separate sheets of paper, spliced together in Photoshop, and I don't think people will want those framed on their walls that way.

About May 2007

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

April 2007 is the previous archive.

June 2007 is the next archive.

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

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