Archive for April, 2007

No front page comic on Tuesday – archival Pin Drop comic instead

April 30th, 2007 by Reinder

I didn't get as much as a filler done for Tuesday - I got started on Wednesday's proper Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan comic unexpectedly late, and by the time I was able to send it off to Mravac for colouring, it was already 1 AM, and I draw the line at starting a new drawing or background article at that time of night. My apologies. Things will be back to normal soon, scheduling-wise.

Instead of posting a filler, I've scanned an old one-pager, Juggling, and posted it in the Pin Drop archive. Juggling isn't all that significant by itself but it is part of the greater whole of what I was trying to do with the run of wordless comics I was doing between 1997 and 1999. With the addition of Juggling, that run is now almost completed. The twelve-page story Injury and the one-pager Sponge, which is similar to Juggling still need to be scanned and posted, which will happen real soon now. I've got the master copies of Injury ready at the studio; Sponge will take a little longer because I can't find the original. It's still in my archives, though. Somewhere.
I'm babbling, ain't I? It's because I'm very sleepy right now.

New Project Wonderful ad and future donation campaign

April 30th, 2007 by Reinder

In response to the recent, slight uptick in Project Wonderful advertising I've observed, anecdotally, on my own and other sites, I've added another ad slot on the front page. This is a single, half-banner-format ad between the comic and the blog. As such, it might be good for advertising things that aren't strictly comics, things that appeal to the part of the readership that scrolls on below the comic to see what rants my co-bloggers and I have to offer. If you want to appeal purely to Waffle readers, though, the square ad on the blog itself may be a better match for you.

I've also tried to put up another donation button, going back to basics with the standard Paypal button using the latest revision of their button code. Unfortunately, what should have been a five-minute job of picking a button from Paypal's website and sticking it into my front page template where I wanted it turned into an hour-long brainracker that ended in failure. Wherever I put the button, it displays at double size, and I no longer understand my own stylesheet code well enough to fix that problem. I'll either have to create a button that fits the dimensions my style sheet dictates, or comb through the style sheet to simplify it to the point where I can understand what's going on, removing code that's no longer used and sorting things so that everything is legible again. Both tasks will cut into my drawing time, though, and I'm already very late with Wednesday's comic. I don't even have enough material for Tuesday's filler! So no matter how important and urgent this is in my current, dire financial situation, it'll have to wait.

For testing purposes, here's the button code, as created by Paypal (so with my previous attempts at wrapping it into divs to control the display removed):





It looks all right on the blog but when I put it on the rocr.net home page, it's so big an eyesore that I can't leave it there while I'm not actively working on it. Feel free to click it and donate! But right now, I'm more interested in hearing why it's not displaying as it should, and what I can do about it. My stylesheet code is here.

A pig in a poke (spoilers for Evolution of the Daleks)

April 30th, 2007 by Reinder

No, no, no, no, no!

Last week, some Doctor Who fans on Livejournal responded to criticism of Daleks in Manhattan by saying this was the best Dalek story since Genesis of the Daleks, Evil of the Daleks, Planet of the Daleks, you name it. THEY-ARE-INCORRECT!
Taken as a whole, the two-parter of Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks wasn't even the best Dalek story since Doomsday. it wasn't a Dalek story at all. It was a Cybermen story with the word "Cybermen" struck out and "Daleks" scribbled above it. Some other superficial changes were made: instead of a Cyber Controller in his station, we got a battle station that a Dalek fits into; instead of a cybernetic laboratory where the victims were hacked and slashed to bits, we got a genetics laboratory in which dead people's brains are filled with Dalek DNA —

And that brings me right to the second thing I hated about this episode. Just for once, could we have an episode where the science isn't 100% bullshit? 90% bullshit, I'm with you; 80% bullshit and I'll take time out to specifically praise the science in this here blog, 70% bullshit and I'll be as happy as a pig in shit. But for God's sake, try. Five minutes with the Great Gizzoogle and Wikipedia will take you to the level where 10% or more isn't baloney, bunkum or balderdash. And we'll have none of that "using gamma radiation from a solar flare, looking exactly like lightning, powering up the DNA-splicing machine that turns quasi-dead empty shells of human beings into Daleks with human bodies, only not really, because the Doctor is on top of the lightning rod when the flare strikes so that his DNA gets mixed up with that of the quasi-dead empty shells of human beings hundreds of meters below instead". Those aren't ideas you engage with or even suspend disbelief for. Those are ideas you point and laugh at before launching into a reactionary tirade about how science education in Britain has clearly gone to shit. Besides, everyone knows that gamma radiation will make you green and musclebound.

Rrright. I think that gets the criticism of the script out of the way. Sorry about the vulgarity – I mean sorry about it being insufficient. I should have been much ruder but I'm not feeling inspired today.

Thing I Hated Number 3. The acting. And I mean "acting" in the loosest sense of the word. What I said last week about the accents not being Nicola Bryant-level bad? I take it back. Tallulah even took over some Peri-like mannerisms. Solomon's accent slipped (though considering what he had to work with in this part, I can forgive him), as did Frank's. And I liked his character. Decent, average young man caught in a terrible situation and holding his own. Very American Dream, even if the girl decided to stick with the piggy in the end. He just about scraped through, believability-wise, but he didn't sound like he was from Tennessee at all.

Were there any good bits? Well, yeah. Despite it not being a Dalek story, I enjoyed the scenes in the basement, with the Daleks' interaction with Ex-Dalek Sec, the Doctor and especially one another. There was a wonderful moment where one Dalek spoke eyestalk-to-eyestalk with another, discussing what they thought about Sec's behaviour, and the second Dalek turned his head to look if no one was watching. The director and the Dalek operators at the BBC were clearly having a lot of fun making those things act. Nicolas Brigg's timing in that sequence was impeccable as well.

Solomon's extermination was a nice surprise; I expected hick-boy to be the one to buy it. I liked the switch from the Doctor seemingly launching into a Star Trek style appeal to Sec's humanity, using the radio and its music as a prop, to turning his sonic screwdriver on it and making it produce a ghastly noise that Daleks couldn't handle. Though now that I think about it, it's a bit strange that Daleks would be so vulnerable.

Finally, once you accept that Manhattan/Evolution really a Cybermen story, it's not so bad. At least these Cybermen didn't plod and plonk about looking bloody stupid; they had lovely 1940s costumes on and ... oh, who am I kidding. They did look pretty stupid. But better than the silver stompers.

Tennant and Agyema were good as always though. Sorry, force of habit here. I thought Agyema was a bit crap in this, too, to be honest. Miranda Raison's horrible acting must have been contagious. Tennant was good, but not as good as he's been earlier in the series. I think both can do a lot better.

First update: Gamma Radiation bursts from earth triggered by lightning, a scientific explanation of a phenomenon that is almost entirely, but not completely, unlike what Helen Raynor put in the script. Even so, we're at 99% bullshit and falling. (Hat tip: John Nor commenting on Behind the Sofa.)

Jon Swift has a drawing assignment for you

April 27th, 2007 by Reinder

Jon Swift:

If Chris Muir drew Charles Schulz's Peanuts, for example, he wouldn't have bothered drawing a panel showing Lucy pulling the football away at the last minute when Charlie Brown tries to kick it. That would be too Old School for him. Instead, Muir would just have Lucy say, "Democrats always pull the football away at the last minute when you are trying to kick it, Charlie Brown." Lucy and Charlie Brown would also probably be in their underwear.

Internet meme in 5... 4... 3....

Wednesday running: heat, flies, frogs and more heat.

April 25th, 2007 by Reinder

First Wednesday training in months. The Wednesday trainings at my club are more strenuous than the Monday ones, so being able to do one again and finish it without pain is a big step in the right direction.

I'm paying more attention to figuring out what I do and don't like. I think I mostly like running:
On asphalt;
In cold weather; and
Steadily over a middle-to-long distance.

I dislike running with poor visibility. I don't mind dynamic exercises in moderation, such as a quick dash up a slope, but I don't like spending the entire training doing that. And I think I don't like running in hot weather, such as what I had to endure today.

But apart from the heat, I got what I wanted. Mostly paved, flat track, and we did a middle-distance exercise, running along the Reitdiep from bridge to bridge, in a group, with either a single runner or a pair of runners taking turns to lead the group. I think dynamic exercises would have been a pretty bad idea in the heat anyway, so I pretty much expected that distance running would be on the menu.

Running along a canal is pretty nice right now. There's a lot to see if you have the energy to look around you. Lots of people enjoying the evening air, migratory birds coming back from their winter residences, and towards the end I took an opportunity to stop for a bit to take a look at the frogs that were making a big racket in the ditches. There were a lot of them, and they were quite big, and randy enough not to care that people could see them.

Unfortunately, the club is closed next Monday because of Queen's Day, April 30. I might go for a run on my own, and I'll definitely be back next Wednesday for hopefully more of this.

Cute overload in the deep seas

April 24th, 2007 by Reinder

Jelena sent me the link to a page of photographs of animals in the deap sea commenting that I'd find those freaky-yet-cute creatures inspirational. I guess I would.

I've got my doubts about readigg.com, though. It looks sploggy to me - a fake web directory cobbled together from scraped RSS feeds and stolen content for no other purpose than to have something to have advertising on. On the other hand, it does host the images itself rather than deeplinking them from the original site The Deep from where the photos are taken, and it does present them in a way that's less clumsy than on the original site's javascript-driven gallery (though the original site is prettier), so it does at least add some value.
Officially, I urge you all to go to The Deep, but I don't think I'd have had the patience to look at that site if I hadn't first seen the photos presented in a normal web page on the presumed-to-be-thieves' site.

(Link to readigg nofollow-ized, the first link in a blog post here to earn that dubious distinction. Link to The Deep's gallery extracted from a longer javascript link)

By the way, the oldest book I own that I still use on a regular basis is a Dutch edition of the book Fishes of the World by Danish author Hans Hvass. My aunt, a librarian, took it home from the writeoff pile and gave it to me when I was, er, eight? Can't quite remember. I was fascinated by it and would often spend idle hours just browsing through it looking for freaky-looking fish. These days, I use the battered volume as a reference work in case Kel and Krakatoa get into one of their regular fish-slapping fights. I don't want them to assault one another with the same species of fish every time.

Unfortunately, some of the coolest fish are tiny, inedible or just not available in a setting based on Western Europe, ca. 1000, so they I can't make them fight with angler fish or spookfish. Though I guess I'll cheat, one day.

Bill O’Reilly’s interview of Richard Dawkins

April 24th, 2007 by Adam Cuerden

Bill O'Reilly, an American right-wing pundit recently interviewed Richard Dawkins about the God Delusion. There's a Youtube video here

I think what's most surprising is how nice things were. Yes, most of O'Reilly's points were pretty stupid, but he was calm, polite, and in the end said "I will say, your book is fascinating and thank you for coming on here." O'Reilly's views are probably not far off from a good proportion of his audience's, so having them brought out in the open and the reasons why they're wrong explained politely can only increase the acceptance of atheists and agnostics in America. Given the recent incident of atheists being hounded out of their home and job, this can only be good.

...This was a surprising polite debate, covering some of the (very) basic main points, and letting Dawkins have his say more than I expected. O'Reilly obviously differs strongly from Dawkins, but must deserve credit for allowing - even fostering - debate on his show. Good on him.

-Adam

Health update

April 23rd, 2007 by Reinder

For future reference: I am now finally free of the flu symptoms that have been plagueing me on and off, but mostly on, since the beginning of March. I've still got a lingering sort of a cough, but that seems to be largely the result of throat irritation caused by coughing.
I went running today with my club, and found that I had full use of my lungs and no major loss of condition. Good. I feel flabby though, because I haven't been very physically active lately. Time to step up the exercise regime.

This flu epidemic seems to have been a hard one to beat. My father told me his flu symptoms kept coming back, and I've read similar from Crossover Wars participants on their forum. They feel better for a few days and it's back to the sickbed. Pete Ashton seems to have had it particularly bad - staying housebound for so long that after he got better, he took a flyer delivery job just to get back in shape! Good thinking, that. I should get a job like that. And he came out of the ordeal a non-smoker, at least for the time being.

I can't help but wonder how much productivity this year's epidemic has destroyed, and whether that alone may not be a good reason for governments to increase their vaccination capacity and offer free vaccinations to a wider range of people. It's likely that that would pay for itself. It would also improve herd immunity protecting individuals like myself who are at an increased risk of death from the flu. Of course, I've pretty much got my own life in my hand as far as that's concerned. Did I mention that I will never, ever, forget to get my flu shots again? I think I did.

Slower update schedule for a while, with more fillers and side-comics

April 23rd, 2007 by Reinder

Just a few days ago, I thought "hmmm... if my readership goes on riding so high, it would be almost a crime to cut down on updates" and even said in a few public places that if I passed 1500, I'd compensate for the fillers, and progressively increase the update schedule if I passed other readership thresholds.

Well, when my readership didn't pass 1500 that day, I was actually a bit relieved. And... I'm eating crow, right now. I've thought about it, and there are so many other things I have to tend to this week, and I want to increase the quality of the art a bit from its low points of the last two weeks, and if I go on working like I did over the past two months (as well as being a complete slave-driver to the kind people who have been assisting me), I'm going to drive myself over a cliff, health-wise and financially. It would be much better to allow myself some recovery time so I don't work on my pages while tired. In short, I'm going to cut down the schedule of real updates to three a week for the next two weeks, after which there is more crossover stuff planned again. Increasing the schedule over and above five a week is out of the question under any circumstances, except people giving me lots of money.

This week, new comics will appear on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Next week, it'll be a more conventional Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, with fillers inbetween.

I will add more fillers like the ones I posted Friday and today, though. Giving cast and worldbuilding pages on the front page guarantees that they will be read, proofread and commented on, and that in turn guarantees that by the time they are moved to their final place in the Cast and World sections, they'll be worth reading, correct and exhaustive. Everybody wins!

Also, I'll dig up and post the final unremastered Pin Drop comics and get started on re-re-re-mastering Tips for Lazy Buggers from the old site on users.bart.nl/~samizdat, which will soon be shut down. My pledge to post 365 updates in 2007 still stands, even though we're a dozen or so behind right now.

Take Pharyngula to number one!

April 23rd, 2007 by Reinder

Sure, I'll help Pharyngula become the number one Minnesota blog, no problem. It's one of my favorite blogs, covering atheism, evolutionary biology, adorable cephalopods and lately, the thorny subject of how to talk about science (he's in favour of the revolutionary approach of letting scientists be scientists). There's the occasional bit of Internet drama, which also helps, and Professor Myers has got a good sense of humour and pulls no punches. Go read it. You will enjoy it. I ORDER you to enjoy it.

In the latest blog redesign, I ended up declaring "to hell with the blogroll day", but I still follow all the blogs that used to be on the published blogroll, and more. Never mind. I just about qualify as a Z-list blogger by default, because there aren't any more letters in the alphabet unless you start using the Scandinavian alphabet, in which case I'd be an æ-list blogger by default. And anyway, I like linking inside a post better.