Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It occurred to me during a recent bout of procrastination that putting off work can sometimes be more laborious than the work itself. So why not commodify it? I'm not sure this cartoon has any deeper significance beyond the absurdity of outsourcing slacking, but if you find it to be a profound statement on globalization, feel free to let me know.
Speaking of procrastination, I finally finished reading Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America by Tom Lutz. (For some reason, my cartooning colleagues at SPX found it endlessly amusing that I was reading this book, perhaps because I tended to sleep later than everyone else.) Doing Nothing serves as a sort of history of American counterculture, as seen through various figures' work ethics (or lack thereof). Some of our greatest Americans were slackers, you know. Benjamin Franklin was a lush who loved to take "air baths" in which he lay naked on his bed for an hour a day. History is filled with incarnations of the slacker, as seen in The Lounger's Miscellany; or the Lucubrations of Abel Slug, Esq., a British fortnightly which ran for twenty issues from 1788-1789. Interestingly, many self-professed idlers were in fact workaholics and vice-versa; many of us, myself included, find both ways of being tugging at us -- the result usually entailing some amount of work and some amount of Youtube.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I received an email about my "How to Get Republicans to Care About Global Warming" cartoon that could have been written as a spoof by someone trying to make the wingnuts look bad, except it wasn't. Jamie in Florida writes (with my comments interspersed):
The first frame has someone skiing in the grass. Is that John Kerry, because there were pictures of him skiing during the 2004 campaign.I'm not saying all skiers are Republicans. I like skiing, even though it's too expensive and I'm not very good at it. Ski culture is often associated with wealth (see: Aspen), and Republicans represent the interests of the wealthy.
In the third frame ("Lack of Mink-wearing Opportunities"), the woman in the coat looks like Teresa Heinz-Kerry.Eh, not really. What's more, the fact that Teresa is wealthy but supportive of Democratic economic policies that benefit the working class hardly means she's a hypocrite -- she is unselfishly going against her own financial self-interest.
In the fourth frame (about ice sculptures), it reminds me of the lavish parties Ted Kennedy throws, both in D.C. and out at Martha's Vineyard (which, coincidentally is where Teddy did NOT want a windfarm to be built, which would have produced lots of fossilActually, that panel was inspired by the $2 million, week-long birthday party in Sardinia for the wife of convicted Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski, which featured an ice sculpture of Michaelangelo's David with vodka pouring out of his penis. CNN has a slideshow here, though unfortunately no pics of David. I do applaud the inclusion of scantily-clad studs as party decor. Did I mention Tyco footed half the bill? And whatever Ted Kennedy may have done or not done about windfarms, this somehow means one should vote Republican to support wind power?
Maybe the way to convince Republicans about global warming is not to address the rich (because they mostly seem to be Democrats), but rather to try some real scientific evidence, rather than the same scare tactics that were tried in the 70s regarding "the coming Ice Age" and global cooling.These last couple paragraphs reveal the awesome power of right-wing media. It has convinced people like my correspondent that the rich "mostly seem to be Democrats" when they are in fact majority Republican (though, as this Slate article points out, the Dems have been peeling away upper-income voters in certain parts of the country, who choose to vote their conscience as opposed to their economic self-interest). And not even the consensus of nearly all the world's scientists is enough to convince my correspondent that global warming is real and significantly due to human cause. With enough money and think tanks, you can buy legions of misinformed people like this writer.
In my ongoing quest for The Most New Wave New Wave video, this animated gem for "Moskow Diskow" by the wonderfully-named Belgian outfit Telex will be hard to beat.
Fans of the "pixel art" school of comics take note.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Every so often, after wrapping up my strip for the week, something coincidental happens that makes the cartoon more timely than I'd anticipated. Such was the case with this week's offering. Today I found out that Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) -- who is the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works -- said on FOX News that global warming is not due to manmade gases but to (ahem) "the sun." Here are some more words of wisdom from this Man of Science, via Think Progress:
Now look, God’s still up there. We still have these natural changes, and this is what’s going on right now...Carl Sagan, eat your heart out!
On another subject, while doing some Google research on mink coats, I stumbled across an online store called "Glamour Dog," which sells clothes and accessories for dogs. The site features some seriously pimped-out canines.
You know you're hardcore when you're buying your pooch a hoodie.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
In keeping with my need to periodically highlight Hollywood's fixation with ironic mustaches, I recently saw an ad for "Borat" that consisted only of text written across his big, bushy you-know-what. I just had to mention that.
I predict it will be difficult for our friend the mustache to exceed the semiotic potency it enjoys at this moment.
A classic case of "two sides" reporting run amok in a recent NY Times article about evangelicals' support for a militarily-aggressive Israel based on biblical prophecy:
Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president’s support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.Leaving the minutiae of that conflict aside for a moment, I don't think it's just "the left" that doesn't want foreign policy being constructed around the Rapture. I would argue that this is a fairly moderate position.
Slowpoke can now also be read on Serializer.net, along with a number of cool webcomics. Check it out.
Also, my Slandersoft Smearware cartoon ran in the LA Times the Sunday before the elections. I got so caught up in the race I forgot to mention it.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Some of you have written kind emails about my efforts for Jim Webb, which I appreciate. While I like to think I added at least a couple votes to his victory margin, my last-minute flurry of volunteering was nothing compared to the dedication of many whom I worked alongside. One college student I met was taking a light courseload this semester just so he had time to work on the campaign.
If there is any one person who should be thanked, it is S.R. Sidarth, who captured Allen's race-baiting on video, finally exposing to the world what a gigantic regressive boob that man is. Were it not for Sidarth's volunteer work, it's fairly safe to say the Senate would still be in Republican hands. What a rare moment of justice served -- and proof of the platitude that one person can make a difference. Sidarth has an essay in Sunday's Washington Post in which he states that Allen knew his name before the incident, suggesting that the "macaca, or whatever his name is" line was clearly an act of crowd-pandering on Allen's part. It's worth reading. I'm also proud of the city of Charlottesville, which whipped Allen into a veritable frappé, 77 to 22%. Now that's a thumpin'.
On to the cartoon: I sensed a conventional wisdom had formed around Bush's press conference that he sounded "bipartisan" and conciliatory, signifying a departure from the past. Then I read the text of the press conference and watched a video the Q&A meltdown. Nothing has changed. In fact, it was one of the most ungracious concession-type speeches I have ever witnessed, chock full of thinly-veiled insults: "The Democrat party." The awkward joke about Nancy Pelosi and the drapes for her new office (there was no reason for this gratuitous attempt at humor aside from calling attention to her gender, trust me.). But the real ugliness lay in the bit where he said:
Whoa, man. Terrorists are going to be joyful, Iraqis fearful, and our troops doubtful because the party of total incompetence has finally been given the boot? Note to George: the election's over, so shut your liehole. If anything, the terrorists are probably disappointed the Republicans won't be playing right into their hands anymore.
I initially set out to do a cartoon called "Reality Strikes Back" in which Planet BS gets blown up, but I didn't want to conflate the Dems with the Dark Side.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Webb wins! I guess Earth can stay in the intergalactic encyclopedia for a little while longer.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Bush in '04:
Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style.If he thought he had political capital after that squeaker, then it's only fair to say we have a Harvard endowment's worth right now.
I predict the David Broders of the world will praise Bush in coming weeks for making bipartisan-sounding noises, utterly ignoring the half-decade of bludgeoning we just went through.
I decided to avoid election coverage last night by baking cookies. Just as the second batch was going in the oven, I heard Webb had surged ahead of Allen. Suffice it to say, I became so glued to my computer that the cookies burned. Webb better pull this off, or those cookies will have been sacrificed for naught.
Things are looking pretty good in VA right now, but as Josh Marshall warns over at Talking Points Memo, Karl Rove may well have creative plans for the recount. You can almost hear the GOP lawyers sniffing around the state like bloodhounds at this very moment, looking for any molehill they can turn into a mountain, or simply a context in which a mountain can be invented. Josh links to this Atlantic Monthly article which provides some insight into Rove's techniques in dealing with recounts. I can't imagine he'd let the Senate go without trying every nasty trick in the book. Of course, considering the fact that the Allen camp is already under FBI investigation for voter intimidation, they're hardly in a position to whine about the election.
We might not be facing a recount at all were it not for Glenda Parker, who ran as an independent Green party candidate unaffiliated with the national Green party, attracting more than 1% of the vote. She reportedly considered withdrawing before the election, then changed her mind. To all reality-based Americans, I issue a plea for the future in the immortal words of Bryan Ferry: Let's stick together.
And speaking of reality, I must say it's nice to see it can still rear its head through the wall o' BS on occasion.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I sat at the Dem booth outside our polling place this afternoon. Weather-wise, the day has been absolutely dismal. I was worried this might dampen turnout, though I heard 50% of registered voters had shown up from our precinct, which is more than in 2004. On the other hand, there's a gay marriage amendment on the ballot, and our precinct is not exactly a bastion of progressivism like Charlottesville proper (we're a little outside the city). Most people didn't seem too interested in taking sample ballots from us or from the Republicans; they just wanted to get out of the rain.
Not long after I arrived, I noticed there was an Allen/Goode sign directly behind us, which made us look like the Republican camp. I pulled it up and politely asked the Republicans if they wanted it near them since it was confusing in its current location. This caused one of the Republicans -- a tall, older gentleman in a trenchcoat and one of those hats that's halfway between a fedora and an Indiana Jones hat -- to go ballistic. He accused me of trying to take down his sign, said the sign was there before the Dems set up this morning, and that he'd heard reports of Dems knocking down signs all over Virginia. I insisted I was just trying to make things clear to the voters, and he was welcome to put the sign anywhere except behind our table, but he kept blathering about the evil Democrats. A prim older lady echoed his infantile argument that the sign was there first, nyah-nyah (nyah-nyahs added here for emphasis). Finally he posted the sign nearby, which was perfectly acceptable to me, and all I was really asking him to do in the first place. A sad glimpse into the mind of the opposition. I should also note that there were almost exactly twice as many Republican candidate signs on the property as Democratic ones.
Monday, November 06, 2006
This is good for a laugh. Thanks to Adam for the tip.
Following up on that conversation with an older gentleman who said "All politicians are crooks" (see two posts below), I thought I'd quote a recent email from reader Mike in South Carolina:
What really makes me angry is how Chris Matthews (and others including Jeff Greenfield and Lou Dobbs) all try to convince us that both parties are equally corrupt. This blatant lie ignores the fact that 95 percent of the abuses occur by the Republicans and maybe five percent by the Democrats.When I worked at U.Va, I used to encounter academics on occasion who took this same "above the fray" approach to politics. They would bemoan the sad state of our political discourse, as though both parties consisted of rowdy children who just couldn't grow up and engage in civil debate. It sounds so reasonable and objective, doesn't it? Except no one is above the fray. As long as you live on earth and need air, water, and food, you're in the fray. And if you really want to look at American politics objectively, you'll note that one side is subverting democracy far more than the other.
The cost of war counter is now up to $340 billion, which means the title of my cartoon is already obsolete! Oh, if only they'd burned that money instead, the world would be so much better off.
I came across the website of Iraq Veterans Against the War recently. The member profiles make for compelling reading (click on the soldiers' names or photos for full profiles).
On a much different note, Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" video, in which George Michael dances around in short shorts channeling Richard Simmons, can be viewed here. Those "Choose Life" t-shirts of the '80s, it's worth noting, were not a reference to abortion but to drugs and suicide, according to the Wikipedia entry about their British designer, Katharine Hamnett.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Did a "lit drop" for Jim Webb and Al Weed in a poor neighborhood of ramshackle trailer homes today. Talked to a discouraged older guy who said, "What's the use? They're all crooks." Then he started talking about how terrible the Iraq war is, looking as though he were about to cry. I tried to explain that Webb is a Vietnam vet who opposed the war from the beginning, and that he had to vote on Tuesday to vote to get rid of the crooks, but I didn't get the feeling I'd convinced him to go to the polls. It was a sad reminder that those most adversely affected by the Bush administration's policies are the least likely to vote. Canvassing neighborhoods like this, you get a clear sense of a feedback loop in which Republican policies hurt the poor, they feel even more powerless and detached from the political process, and therefore become even less likely to vote. The same with the smear ads -- they turn people off from politics altogether. The electorate grows to distrust all politicians, and by extension, government in general. Which always benefits the Republicans.
After droppin' science in the trailer park, I went to a rally downtown featuring former Gov. Mark Warner, who was a presidential contender until he bowed out recently. Fortunately, my camera was working this time (click to enlarge).
Warner did promise to run again for political office someday. Afterwards he mingled with the crowd and I got to shake his hand and mumble something about looking forward to voting for him again.
I've been hearing a lot of optimism from Democrats lately about this election, but I can't say I feel terribly ebullient myself. Given what has happened in this country, it should be a blowout. Yet many key races are neck-and-neck. As long as Fox News exists, about 40% of America will be in the stranglehold of a delusional reality, and I shudder to think of what dirty tactics will be employed on election day. Mr. Slowpoke's prediction is that the entry for earth may as well be deleted from the intergalactic encyclopedia. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't get out there and try to be a force for good. I worked alongside everyone from high school sophomores to grandmothers this weekend. You'll feel better if you do something!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Just got back from doing some phone banking at Jim Webb's Charlottesville HQ. A cameraman for local Channel 29 showed up not long after I got there, so I think I may be on the news tonight. All you 'poke readers get out there and do something!
Go here to find out if there's a MoveOn Rock the House party near you.
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