He’s looking quite spry for his 144 years!

Via Smilodon on IRC:

'Anton Checkov' reads

“Hey, what’s up!”
“You’ll never believe who’s in Union Square right now”
Anton Chekov!”
“Isn’t that weird?”
“I don’t know, I’d say he’s around 65.”
“Yeah, it’s him, he has the beard and everything.”
“Really? That’s funny.”
“Yeah, that’s weird, well I think it was, I don’t
“19th Century you think?”
“I don’t know, this is weird.”
“Well, he’s here.”
“No, it’s definitely him, It must have been the
“It only sounds old because it’s Russian”
“I don’t know. This is weird.”

I was wondering why…

… I never saw this image on the Modern Tales front page anymore.


I just looked at it on disk to look up the dimensions (because I’m making a new one), and it turned out that this one was 499 pixels wide. That couldn’t possibly be right, but when I uploaded it to Modern Tales, the display software didn’t check for the exact width so strictly. The latest version of the software does, and doesn’t display the large image in the rotating large image slot if the size isn’t exactly 500 * 200 pixels.

Suggestion to image software makers: when people scale an image to a specific size, they usually have a reason for scaling to that size and not another. Do not change it behind the user’s back.

Suggestion to Joey of Modern Tales: it may be useful to warn people upon upload or database submission if an image is not exactly the right size, because the software used to make the images can’t be relied on.

I’m sweet as a kitten, really. Meow.

Yesterday I was bored and frustrated and chained to my computer waiting for an important message to come in. To fill time, I did some trawling of my semi-regular blog bookmarks, and let things get to me that normally wouldn’t get to me. I do think that selective blindness in political blogging is a real and widespread problem, but I could have been more civil about it, and I could have been more considerate and less snappish towards the people involved.

Besides, I can’t really stand the heat myself. I do not court controversy; indeed I find it very stressful. And today is entirely the wrong day for me to deal with angry responses. I’ll be traveling to Munster, Germany, to see my friend Kim who has been laid up following a car accident. Can’t deal with heated debate right now.

So, sorry about the tone of my last post. Not sorry about the ideas I wanted to communicate, but I’ll try to be more civil in the future.

Myopia to the left of me, short-sightedness to the right!

A left-wing RL buddy (well, sort of: we know one another from the Dutch small-press comics circuit and he has stayed in my house a few times. By the standards of online friendship, that means we’re practically engaged) of mine and a right-wing online friend and colleague of mine are both making comments in their blogs that show exactly the same sort of selective blindness. I should be grateful to them. It’s very rare to have such a great opportunity to be fair and balanced dropped into your lap.

First, Martin Wisse asks, rhetorically:

Does the fact that US soldiers have engaged in torture in Iraq demand of those on the left who supported the war to re-evaluate their position?


Then surely, the fact that the liberators themselve engage in torture and rape, must cause some soul searching? After all, what does liberation matter if torture still happens?

I suppose Johann Hari and Harry of Harry’s Place are chopped liver? I presume you didn’t check back to see what such vocal supporters of the war as Christopher Hitchens and Norman Geras have been saying, Martin? Seriously, you didn’t, did you? You went “fuck’em” in January and haven’t looked back since, have you? Because if you had bothered to look, you’d know that there was plenty of soul-searching.

Despite illustrating a satire on the Bush administration’s handling of the run-up to the war, I have counted myself among the “pro-war” left for some time – and that has taken, and still takes, quite a bit of soul-searching. There are no easy answers here, no morally pure[spit] position. But these particular horrors will end, and end soon. The horrors that Saddam inflicted on his people would not have ended any time soon.

At least Martin (unlike myself), makes his point quickly and concisely. A few days earlier, Carson Fire, who I have quite a few reasons to call my friend even if I’ve never met him in the flesh, wrote a rambling post trying to make several points at once. The main point, as far as I can tell, was to portray himself as a lone right-wing voice in a vast left-wing wilderness of webcartoonists:

My fellow webcartoonists who sit on the “other side of the aisle” have been quite vocal for some time, now, and it just seems like it’s a good thing to let you all know that we’re not all marching in lockstep.

No, Carson, webcartoonists are not all marching in lockstep. You make it seem like we’re all some sort of Borg hive-mind that only allows for leftist voices. As if Jeff Darlington, Jim Alexander, Howard Tayler, Syke, Ryan Higgins, Scott Kurz, Ian MacDonald, Sarah Huntrods and Kaichi Satake for goodness’ sake are chopped liver. Some of them are very vocal, others are not. All of them have made their opinions known at opportunities of their choosing, and will do so again. It may surprise Carson to know that there are also left-wing cartoonists who choose not to voice their political opinions on their sites, for reasons that concern them only.

But the extent of Carson’s selective blindness is revealed in the following two paragraphs:

And you can see who gets all the press for cartoonists these days… vile voices like Aaron McGruder and Ted Rall. While some on the left are shocked that Ann Coulter is allowed to live, McGruder and Rall spread some of the most wicked vitriol into the mainstream, and under cover of little drawings.

[paragraph snipped]

Rall is the kind of cartoonist who’s syndicated, oh, just everywhere, and gets nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. Even an embarrassed MSNBC had to yank the feed last week when the Tillman cartoon surfaced. To many Americans, who detest leftist-hate rants, this is the face of modern American cartooning.

These are striking for what they don’t say:
1. That the amount of vitriol expended by the left on Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and her ilk is matched drop for drop, if not more, by the right’s response to Rall, McGruder or Michael Moore for that matter. Duh!
2. That the press Rall in particular gets isn’t universally positive among the American left (the international left isn’t aware of him).
Andrew Sullivan, a much more astute conservative commentator than Carson, has kept tabs on left-wing bloggers distancing themselves from Rall – he missed some that were made earlier and undoubtedly there are many more. The ones that he mentioned include some prominent left bloggers. I don’t think the many people denouncing him regularly in The Comics Journal forums and Talk About Comics are all raving reactionaries either.

My point with this long ramble that took almost two hours to put together? Like the Jacobean theatre-goer said when London’s two theaters both featured Romeo and Juliet: “A pox on both houses”. If you post political opinion on a weblog, be prepared to do some legwork. Don’t just read those sources that confirm your own prejudices about your opponents – and steer clear of the fringes of both (or rather, all) sides.

The Piercing Gaze

After two hours, The Old Man was looking forward to the end of the ordeal. On the whole, he had not done badly. He had surprised many by admitting that the whole mess was his fault and had even looked sincere while saying it. Sure, there had been moments when he had wavered, fidgeted or waffled. Sure, it might not have been a good idea to say that Alpha had been blindsided; in Alpha’s position, being blindsided was not an option. But these moments would surely be glossed over, forgotten. He would ride it out.

Then it was time for That Woman to ask her question. That Woman, mention of whose name still made his and his supporters’ hackles rise.

As That Woman spoke, and, it seemed to The Old Man, she spoke interminably, making the minutes allocated to her seem like an eternity, The Old Man fidgeted again. The Old Man swayed from side to side, looking to his left, looking to his right, never meeting That Woman’s Gaze. But he felt the Gaze, all right. Who would not? It didn’t matter that he now wielded more power than That Woman, that he had always had fewer scruples than That Woman. It didn’t matter, even, that That Woman’s question wasn’t particularly interesting or salient. That Woman’s Gaze came with electrodes. Under That Woman’s Gaze, part of him slunk away, and now it was The Old Man himself who was on the box, being pointed at and laughed at.

That Woman had stopped talking. Her Gaze, though, stayed fixed on The Old Man. What was her question, again? The Old Man fidgeted, grimaced, squirmed, and scratched the top of his head. 15 more minutes to go.

Random quotes

Blogging is going to be light here in the next few days, because I haven’t even got near my goal of finishing 5 pages of ROCR this week, like I really ought to do every week that I’m not working on a well-paid project so I can build up a buffer for when I am. So far, I haven’t completed 3 since Friday, despite the help I got from Yonaka.

I have a lot I want to blog about, but it’ll have to wait. I will, however, stop to recommend Spike’s blog which is full of hyperbolic praise of myself and fascinating stories of mummified rats, and to ask about any good Moveable Type plugins that may be used to pull random quotes from a file and display them as the tagline to this blog. Spike’s blog has a few neat ones that I’d love to use, and I keep finding them in other places as well. I’m sure they exist, but which are any good?

Joe Meek at 75

I love reading alternate history, especially of subjects I know a little about, and The Naked Maja‘s “had he lived” account of music producer Joe Meek’s career after 1967 does a pretty good job of it.

“One day Syd came in with some funny-looking pills which he said some German mates had given him. I took one look at them and immediately flushed them down the toilet. Syd was just about ready to take a swing at me, but ever since then he’s thanked me for doing that, almost on a daily basis.”

It gets a bit silly towards the end though.

Murph’s not dead

Speaking of Murphy…

One of the great things about the Web is that you can use it to correct print reports that haven’t made it to the reader’s snail mailboxes yet. The Comics Journal writes:

Contrary to reports you may have read online and one which you may be about to read in issue #259 of The Comics Journal when it ships next week, retired Prince Valiant cartoonist John Cullen Murphy is not dead. Not even slightly. Based on erroneous reports, the News Briefs section of Newswatch in issue #259 includes a notice that an obituary for Murphy is slated to appear in issue #260. That is unlikely to happen since the cartoonist is not in fact dead. The Journal sincerely regrets the error, for which the stupid, stupid, stupid news editor, Michael Dean, is entirely responsible. A correction will appear in issue #260.

The Keenspace Curse strikes again

If you’re reading your webcomics early in the morning, you’ll find that many keenspace-hosted comics aren’t responding, and according to The Belfry’s Keenspace Tracker, the server itself is not responding. Of course, this had to happen on Online Comics Day. If Murphy’s Law applied as effectively in the physical world as on Keenspace’s servers, The Netherlands and Mexico would both be invaded by evil foreign powers today.

Still, it’s early. I’m sure the brilliant Kisai is e’en now pounding away at the servers trying to figure out what has gone wrong, and fix it. And by the time American readers fall out of their beds, things will be hunky dory again. Have faith, little server!

[Update: Keenspace came back some time in the afternoon (CET), with the comics updated, and all is well again.]