Tuesday, April 30, 2002

 
And they thought Geraldo had credibility problems

Not from the Fox News desk: America's Fair and Balanced NetworkT has recently been noticed for one of their expert military consultants for the War in AfghanistanT- okay, actually, they've been noticed because of the expert's impeccable qualifications, all of which are completely fabricated. Turns out Joseph A. Cafasso lied about his military experience, including blatant lies about winning a Silver Star and participating in the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980.

Please do read the entire article, because it's a great read and a great laugh, but I'd like to point out the extra funny part if I may:

Fox News executives acknowledged that they now think that Mr. Cafasso was not who he said he was. But they said that the information he gathered never led to any known mistakes and that he had a network of military sources - built, apparently, on the strength of his stories.

So let's run that by one more time: Fox News, on the grounds that a guy's dialogue was accurate, continued to claim they had an accredited and decorated military veteran on their roster even though they thought he might be lying, because they didn't see a problem with it.

But hey, at least they're still the only channel not run by commies, right? Right?
 

   

 
Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 7b

To update the previous post on this topic: Jesus Christ.

Once again, keeping in mind that the U.N. wants to send in a probe to find out if the Israeli army committed atrocities, the Israeli government is now listing demands for allowing the U.N. to have the priveledge of politely asking if they, you know, might have killed a few hundred innocent people.

Folks, even when I attempt to rationalize the Israeli point of view of this situation I can't comprehend how this makes them look good. Here's what it looks like: first of all, they're basically saying, by demanding to select military and "Anti-terrorism" experts (translated: hates Arafat) Sharon is coming across as though he wants his own jury. "Anti-terrorism experts?" The claim, as the article reads, is to make sure they understand why the army did what they did. They're trying to find bodies- that's how they tell!

Second, since when did it become political tact to dismiss the U.N. as biased, racist, and irrelevant to the Israeli cause? All this is going to do is bring up the somewhat feasable argument that it seems like the only U.N. resoution Israel has ever agreed to is the one that established the country in 1949. After that, they all became evil anti-semites or something like that.

And speaking of anti-semitism, here's an editorial from Bishop Desmond Tutu about how stupid it is to call someone an anti-semite just for criticizing Israel. I am dying to hear how people are going to try to attack this guy.
 

   

Monday, April 29, 2002

 
Oh, shut up, Condy

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice explained today, without giggling once, that Hugo Chavez "did as much to undermine democracy in that country as those who tried to oust him." She then followed up by saying "When people are elected, they especially have a responsibility to talk about the importance of respecting democratic processes," at which point 48 million people laughed maniacally, 48 million people had one of those "might be laughter or tears, but not sure which" moments, and the rest wondered when Monday Night RAW comes on.

So, yeah. Umm... more on "those who tried to oust him" here.
 

   

 
Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 7

Setting aside the obvious personal stances on the Mideast conflict, there's a simple two-point lesson that needs to be given to the adamant supporters of Israel- not is some form of contrast to what they say, but as a simple lesson in basic "how to" in the public opinion department:

  1. Without a doubt, a significant portion of the world has an unfair, and at many levels inexcusable, bias against the State of Israel.

  2. Those who unilaterally support Israel appear, whether they want to or not, to be doing everything in their own power to create the bias.

Now before the Inboxer Rebellion begins, hear me out. Of course, the big issue that we have to reflect on right now is that Israel has decided to forbid the UN probe from entering Jenin to survey the damage and examine the charges of alleged war crimes and/or humanitarian violations.

We look at the two points I just said and it shows the critical flaw of the Israeli government, and the mentality of the pro-Israel lobby: the failure to acknowledge the basic credo of 21st-century news media. Since the inception of the 24-hour cable news network and the proliferation of the tabloid press, anyone involved in a story as big and as long-running as this have to accept the grand rule: "no one cares, even if you're right."

Is Israel right in their claim that there was no massacre at Jenin? Is Israel right in claiming, as the linked story claims, that the UN is biased against them and out to smear them? The answer to both questions is "it doesn't matter." News media, especially the American news media, makes you guilty the moment you deny anything. And if the catchphrase is good enough, you don't even need to make a denial to be branded for life.

The irony, of course, lies in the fact that this is a technique perfected by conservatives- the group most one-sidedly supportive of Israel in the military conflict. I apologize for these examples, because obviously they in no way mean to compare to the tragic loss of life of 2,000-odd people in Israel and the West Bank, but the stories fit the example: Al Gore inventing the internet. Clinton staffers trashed the White House on inauguration day. These stories have both been proven to be completely false; yet still to this day it's used against them. The catchy lines were too good to give up simply because of some pesky "evidence" that the charges had no merit.

To continue disgracing the dead with sub-standard examples, the two most high-profile celebrity scandals of note: Gary Condit and Robert Blake. Condit, by not openly admitting his affair, has now been accused by large percentages of people of actually committing the murder of the woman he was apparently having an affair with. Blake has more people convinced he's guilty than people who actually know who the hell he is. Both are made guilty by the media by their simple acts of evasion. It is the same evasion Israel is doing now by blocking the Jenin probe.

A better example of the irony with the conservative thought toward this is the anti-terrorist actions undertaken in the United States. What is the most common line given by those who unabashedly support the oppressive and racist policies of the USA Patriot Act? "Well, I don't care. I have nothing to hide." "Only people with something to hide should be concerned about the government invading their privacy." I'm sorry, but the blame needs to be given where it's due: conservatives, this line was your baby, and now it's coming to the Middle East to bite you in the ass about it.

Is the UN biased against Israel? Probably, but it doesn't matter. The media has already decided what the image of this is going to be. And there's already a perfect ironic comparison to make a catchphrase worthy of inventing the internet: the fact that Iraq is going to be attacked for blocking UN inspectors.

It doesn't matter than what the UN wants from Iraq and what they want from Israel are two completely different things. It doesn't matter that countless debate time can go towards the moralistic differences between the two nations. What matters is that the simplest and catchiest line is that Israel is being allowed to do what Iraq is getting bombed for. And hell, even I sort of believe that.

Though it pains me to say it, the arrogant and hypocritical conservative thoughts towards anti-terrorism in the country need to be applied to Israel now: Israel is obligated to prove that they have nothing to hide. This "boy who cried wolf" action of accusing, literally, the entire world of being against them is only going to give them just that. And if they did commit a massive act of genocide that a rising sentiment is alluding to, then delaying the eventual discovery is only going to make it worse. Ariel Sharon should look at how well Gary Condit did in his last election when he tried the same tactics.
 

   

Sunday, April 28, 2002

 
The President of the United States has gone completely insane, Pt. 3

The Bush administration has drawn somewhat specific plans for a large-scale invasion of Iraq sometime next year, depending on how much popularity and clout the Republican Party has in the Senate after the 2002 elections, a spokesman for the White House obviously didn't really say but we all know he was thinking anyway.

And, of course, what way to continue the United State's proud tradition of humility and compassion towards the only-when-necessary use of military force than to announce the goddamn plan in one of the largest newspapers in the world?

Seriously, it's not even the fact that the administration is now grotesquely estimating that we may need a quarter of a million people- more than we planned for invading Tokyo in 1946, for fuck's sake- to go in and allegedly cripple the alleged army we allegedly already crippled eleven years ago, but we have the arrogance to, in a span of less than a century, go from arranging our military operations with such secrecy that we had parts of it coded in Navajo dialect just so the Germans couldn't translate it to making it downloadable off the internet for $4.95.

I would take pride in how much balls it must take to do that if it wasn't for how horrifying the implications of this is.

Essentially, we've just indicated to Saddam Hussein that, if he is in fact making chemical weapons, he should definitely concentrate his efforts now towards getting some of them ready by January, and oh, he should try to make sure he has enough to kill, let's say 70 to 250 thousand people. And while were at it, Mr. President, let's establish a friendly relationship with all the Arab nations by opening every single meeting with one of their envoys with "hey, guess what we're going to do next year!"

I swear, the only way this makes sense to me is that they want previews to be made up for Gulf War II. think about it. eight months away, need to spread the hype to push toy sales for the Christmas rush. MSNBC and Fox News are the new guys- they've never had their own war movie like CNN did in '89. Imagine what the trailers are going to be like.
 

   

 
Mario's pissed, but legally no one has to care now

I'm aware that me referencing an online cartoon and opinion forum of such fame and popularity as Penny Arcade is sort of like Vanilla Ice telling someone, "hey, this Mozart guy sounds like he might be good," but I think I should do my best to point out something the artists over there recently brought to light on my humble sub-standard blog- yet a blog that attracts many a political opinion junkie.

Umm... where was I before establishing myself as a bottom rung on the cartoonist ladder... oh yeah, the thing these guys did. Anyhoo, they recently pointed out an interesting ruling by a federal judge about a law requiring violent and explicit video games to be sold and displayed in arcades only to minors with direct parental consent. The judge upheld the ruling, which to even some degrees I can agree with. What caused the well-written and though-provoking essays found here and here, however, was the horrifying justification of the judges ruling: video games do not constitute free speech.

So, just to make it clear: unlimited political campaign contributions being stopped- that's a violation of the first amendment. Banning the depiction of violence and sex on film or the internet- a violation of the first amendment. Banning the depiction of violence and sex in a game run on the same television that shows the film or the same computer that connects to the internet- okay by him.

I suppose it goes without saying that the judge and his ruling are both full of crap. Apparently, however, I can't say that in a video game now.
 

   

Saturday, April 27, 2002

 
Where else but in Nevada, the offical home of the world's most tasteless city

What you see to the left is, tragically, the newest vanity fundraiser license plate design from Nevada, celebrating their proud history of nuclear testing.

Yes, this is, just to make it clear, the same state that, as we speak, is practically threatening to secede from the Union out of anger towards the sudden attention towards how great Nevada would be to host nuclear material.

Seeing as how regardless of Nevada's claims, the image of a mushroom cloud will eternally be synonimous with the death of several hundred thousand Japanese people, not with the historical moment when the nation built it. Thusly, I will leave the personal gauge towards how utterly tasteless the image of a nuclear explosion on the back of one's car with a message to celebrate it's proud tradition is to you dear readers, though I can guess you've all pegged what mine is.
 

   
 

This is an image of the first frame of my Intro to 3-D final project. It's being done in a program called Maya, the same software used to make Ice Age. My project is currently "rendering" at the NYU animation SGI computer lab, a process which means each one of the 430 frames (30 frames=1 second of animation) in the movie is individually rendered to high resolution by powerful computers. It takes about 3 or 4 minutes to render each frame, which means at a minimum it will take 21 hours for my project to render.

Hence, I might be away from the site for extended periods of time while this project finishes. Rest assured I am still reading all your e-mails, still looking into news items of note, and still generally caring about disrupting the world as it works right now. I just have to appease a bunch or people who make me pay them 35 grand a year to dump these torturous projects on me right now.

I'll be in an out at odd times, so keep checking in. If you're bored, go watch the David Hasselhoff video again.
 

   

Friday, April 26, 2002

 
Ignorance is Strength, SpyWare is privacy protection

Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings is pushing legislation that allegedly helps protect computer users from intrusive online marketing and spying tactics. Unfortunately, according to this article, it actually will allow the progenitors of SpyWare- the secret unknown programs that record and report you personal information, demographic statistics, and every web site you've ever gone to- to push their business full steam ahead.

The article points that Hollings is behind another online legality bill that would essentially cripple the basic practices of open-source programmers in an attempt to make Hollywood feel happier about their own content. And of course, no one seems to wonder about the double-dealing plans of Sen. Hollings- maybe we're all too busy waiting for the new Star Wars movie, which ironically seems to have the same plot. That's the dumbest analogy I've ever made. Oh, just go read the article.

(story via Salon)
 

   

 
So much for enjoying what I do from now on.

This is a long post, so bear with me. Usually I don't go into personal things, because I try to avoid making this a diary and leave that to actual bloggers with interesting lives.

On Wednesday, I recieved this e-mail from Doug Spirduso, who asked me something that I honestly never expected to hear:

Look, I don't know if this is possible, but how can I contribute to your cause monetarily? I looked for a tipping jar, but didn't find it. I must admit that I haven't even looked at your art; I've just read some of your blog, thanks to a link from Tom Tomorrow. Your take on Rumsfeld's "we never had or have had any credible info on Osama" was priceless, and it gave me a measure of hope.

Since 9/11, I have somehow gotten myself immersed in these blogs, but most of the ones I've found were right-wing, hawkish, Andrew Sullivan types...even the ones who professed to be liberal. Finding Tom and you somehow made me realize that I wasn't crazy, or alone. The real USA does exist in some hearts.

What really gives me hope, however, is your youth (I'm old enough to be your father, or perhaps your grandfather), and with that youth, you seem to be able to think about someone other than yourself. Thinking may not be beyond the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow, but thinking of someone else seems to be a dying commodity.

So, I've rambled on enough. I have enjoyed your blog, and I would like to help your career and future. Money seems to be the "coin of the realm" these days. So how can I contribute?

In any case, keep drawing and commenting.

My response to Doug was as follows:

Thank you for your praise, but as for now I have no plans to set up any typical blogger "donation" system.

Essentially, I consider my site more of an online resume for publishing syndicates rather than a blog- I consider myself a cartoonist who has a blog, not a blogger who draws cartoons. Therefore I choose to refrain from any tawdry blogger-esque elements, including Amazn wishlists, link tables, or any of the "what ____ are you" things.

At least for now, demand is not high enough to merit any profit on merchandise, so there's none of that either. But also at least for now, cost is not an issue. I've never complained about the cost to make the comic, and with my current level of bandwidth I can afford the monthly fees on without any major problem.

The best way to contribute would be to let as many friends know about he site as possible, perhaps even recommend it to anyone you might know in the magazine or newspaper business. If one of these publishing companies hears that a large group of people would be willing to pay money to read artiles or comics, then that's when business can start.

The faster I become famous, the faster I can make stuff for you to buy, and then your goal can be complete. Or something like that.

Looking back on it, I realize that I did two things. First, in an attempt at self-depreciating humor, I made myself look like a pretentious greedy prig, and second, I made myself look like I felt superior to other bloggers. I hope that most of you believe me when I say I didn't intend either of these ideas. As for the line about "tawdry blogger-esque elements," even I can see I shouldn't have written it that way, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Basically, I was trying to thank him and decline in a nice, somewhat typical Pollak-humor way. Nothing, however, prepared me for the response I recieved the next evening:

Perhaps I insulted you by concentrating on the "blogger" aspect of my exposure to you. Let me just say that in addition to reading your daily diary, I did read about you and the characters that are included in your strip. I wasn't exposed to your "cartoons" because I couldn't gain access to them at my office.

Your response to what I considered a genuine and generous offer, however, has taught me a lesson I have received before, but never learned. I must thank you for bringing an obvious point to my faltering mind.

You theoretically eschew the "tawdry blogger-esque elements" of current bloggers. So do I. I just wanted to help further your career and voice.

The reality is that you want fame...enough of which will enable you to sell merchandise. Pollak mugs, Pollak dolls...whatever. You want to join the club you allegedly hate. You are a contrarian for profit.

Fool that I am, I thought you meant what you said. I thought you were a college student who didn't just think about him or herself; who valued life--not just his own, but those of others.

You're just a typcial 20-something who's come up with a new gig. Right-wing patriotism is in; let's counter that, and gain an audience.

Well, thanks to Tom Tomorrow, you caught me. Thanks to you, I no longer care.

I hope you and your art, based on pseudo philosophy dies the death it deserves. You won't get contributions, nor recommendations from me.

You deserve none.

So, yeah. First, I double-checked that this was the same guy. When that proved to be true, I tried to figure out how my first response to him could have possibly altered his viewpoint that much. I could explain my reaction here, but it would be easier to continue this post's trend and post my response to him.

Wow.

First of all, I never meant to cast my previous post as if I was insulted. Far from it. I am in fact flattered that someone would be willing to pay for some part of my work. It is an inspiration.

I am not, however, going to pretend that this second e-mail of yours isn't both facetious and unnecessarily hurtful.

To chastise me for seeking a career out of my work is ridiculous- it is the height of conservative rhetoric to assume that any leftist who actually wants a financial future is selling out. If what I said construes "selling out," i.e the perversion of personal values for other gain, then let me examine my personal values: I like to draw cartoons. I'd like the opportunity to show them to as many people as possible. I'd like to find a way to make a living out of that.

When I said that the way to help was to make me popular, I meant that in the way that the style of work artists such as myself, and in a much higher plane of talent, Tom Tomorrow, to use your own example, is a style that the mainstream refuses to recognize. I am rejected constantly for the usual reasons: that there are two many words in my comics. That my ideas are too controversial. That, (and I swear a publisher actually said this to me,) my ideas are too over the heads of their readers. With each of these, the subtle suggestion is made: draw cartoons and write ideas the way all the other do. Make simple one-panels with repeated gags that are indistinguishable among all the others.

If anything, my goal is to become famous and recognized without having to change this- not "join the club." I want to bring content the way I, and many other independent artists, currently produce it. Convincing the corporate world that this is marketable is, sadly, one element that factors into it. My earlier strips even made fun of this with R.C.- a cat which one of the characters carried around, as the comic quoted, "for the sole purpose of creating a mass-marketable icon America will love."

I am sorry if you find me pretentious. I believe in what I say, and I want people who agree with it, and for that matter disagree with it, to spread the issues I address into open debate.

At no point did I ever attempt to hide the fact that I am aspiring to be a professional. I consider my website to be almost like my resume of what I can offer as a professional. I admit the statement "tawdry blogger-esque elements" is overly harsh to other bloggers in a way I did not mean. I used "tawdry" in sense of being gaudy or out of place. As the sole producer of everything on my site, I refuse to concede to the notion that I do not have the right to say what I find aesthetically pleasing or not. I meant no harm or malice to the countless bloggers who use the system as their diary, or who do at the moment need donations to keep doing what they enjoy. I am neither of those, and do not wish to compete as one by appearing to be.

I told you in my first reply that I also did not need the money. Would you have preferred I asked for donations for a deliberate profit? It seems to me that would make me exactly the thing you baselessly shape me to be.

Finally, I can only assume you did not realize that my last line "The faster I become famous, the faster I can make stuff for you to buy, and then your goal can be complete." was a joke. I was teasing what I considered an outrageous notion that someone would actually be interested in compensating me for something I did. Obviously "your goal" is not to spend money for no reason, any more than "my goal" is to acquire fame for no reason.

Your statement that I am nothing more than a 20-something who wants to counter the current right-wing patriotism is both an insult to the values which inspired me to become a political cartoonist and an insult to the intelligence you obviously have and are refusing to show in this vehement attack. To tell me that I only write what I write because I think it's popular is 1. ludicrous, considering I am practically extradited from parts of the country for thinking this way- far from the notion of popularity, and 2. an insult to every friend, family member, and personal experience that shaped the way I think and feel about this world.

I can understand that you totally misconstrued my intentions in my previous letter to you; that does not prevent me from feeling incredibly hurt. In attempt to thank you but politely decline an offer of money, I cast myself as if I wanted more, or as if your offer wasn't good enough. But rather than attempt to question my motives in a sensible tone, you have responded to me in the tone of a drunken man at a bar angry at a whore for refusing to service him.

You told me in your first e-mail that the things you have read on blogs about the country have given you a glimmer of hope. That is the real "coin of the realm" that fuels most of us. I am inspired by the fact that you and others like my work. Your first e-mail was one of the greatest compliments I have ever received, and your second one of the greatest insults. If you meant what you said that you want to "further our causes and voices," than I suggest telling them you hope for those voices to die might not be the best way to go.

Regardless, thank you for your comments. If you wish to continue the belief that my work has no merit, I hope you continue to read the blogs and ideas of others. I would be happy to provide a list of links to other political-based blogs and student cartoonists if you so desire. I would hate to think you have lost faith in everybody because someone as insignificant to the debate as you have placed me has upset you.

So, even only a short time after writing it, I regret some of the tone, because frankly there's too much emotion in it. But also, I look back on it and realize that I said a lot of stuff that is unfair to other people.

I am sorry to anny other bloggers who might be offended by me implying that what they do on their blogs is inferior to what I do. I didn not mean that. I simply choose for personal reasons not to do a lot of the things normal bloggers do- I mean, as I said before, I don't even consider myself a blogger- I consider myself a cartoonist who blogs. Blogging in itself is a culture that has its own rules and styles and I cast myself as an impartial observer, not as a member. Friends of mine have proven that they are much better at blogging than I am, and if anyone came to the idea that I am mocking them for wanting Amazon donations or lots of quiz thingies, I am sorry if I upset you.

I do not, however, apologize to Doug. I am sorry if the person he cast me to be upset him, but hopefully as my second e-mail to him shows, 95% of what he said about me is grossly untrue.

Ultimately, I guess what all of this about is that Doug has shown me that I might be making people think that I'm only in this for profit. I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't love a profit out of this, but I mean that in the sense of becomming a professional. For people who want to be singers, there's a difference between singing on the sidewalk with a jar and getting a recording contract. I don't feel ashamed in establishing a difference between doing the same for cartoons. I am allowed to have my dream... especially one that I have already accepted is unlikely to come true.

I would like to make sure, however, that I'm not making other people think the way Doug is. If I am, please let me know, because it's the last thing I want to do.
 

   
 
This is just wrong

I know this one's probably old to all the hardcore bloggers, but I just came across it today and frankly, it shoots Hi-Ho out of the water.

You are being warned in advance: this is the most frightening thing ever.
 

   

Thursday, April 25, 2002

 
I suppose we could try for. the blatantly obvious?

I will admit that, as one who hasn't stepped inside a church in about three or four years, and even so being a Episcopalian (which, to quote the great Lee Tergesen from Oz, means you're required to think about God about a week out of the year,) that I'm more than slightly rusty on the Catholic Church regulatory policies.

But could anyone give me a simple explanation as to why what most people would assume is the simplest corollary in regards to these pedophile priests' actions is never discussed in the news or anywhere else?

The corollary is as follows:

1. People who molest children are either criminally or psychologically dangerous, and thusly need to go to criminal or psychological rehabilitation facilities, respectively.
2. Several people who happen to be Catholic priests are molesting children.

Yet, as I've been reading in the news today, apparently the Pope and the Cardinals are all up there at the Vatican discussing the appropriate actions to be taken when one of these "incidents" happens.

Excuse me?

Now, I may just be spouting something simple and ill-researched what with me being one of those godless liberal heathens and all, but isn't the stance of the majority-right/conservative observant Christians that we can't be a nation soft on crime? That if you commit a crime, you have to go to jail?

So why, pray tell (or, I guess, prayer leader tell,) is there an argument over a "one strike" policy? Did anyone else read this one? It was decided that action will only be taken against priests who are "repeat offenders."

I fail to see why this suggestion hasn't been offered yet: they're debating whether or not if you abuse a child, you lose your job or not. what happened to going to goddamn jail?

I have advocated in countless arguments with my peers for the side of somewhat compassionate measures against child molesters- a stance which, of course, ranks right up there with finding Megan's Law questionable as the easiest way to never be considered a candidate for mainstream politics for the rest of one's life. Of course, I don't think that what these people do is horrible- it's possibly the worst crime a single person can commit outside of murder. But frankly, a lot of these people are clearly psychologically troubled, and saying that it can be handled without doctors or law enforcement will never cure these people.

In the past week, the Church has pulled the pins from their Holy Hand Grenades and dropped them into their own laps. First, of course, they leak the offensive and abusive notion that this has something to do with homosexuality. This is, of course, the "Big Lie" of child abuse. A pedophile is not sexually attracted to boys any more than he is sexually attracted to girls. A pedophile is, by definition, one who is sexually attracted to children. The Cardinals realized really quick, fortunately, that most of the country didn't buy this, and maybe if we keep letting them know we don't buy it they'll realize that their staff has a major problem instead of blaming it on what they think of as another one.

Now, in between arguments over whether or not they should accept that priests are, regardless of the collar, human, and maybe might not have such a fucked-up sexual mentality if they were allowed to. well. fuck, (here's a hint- yes!) they're weighing just to what level of abuse of a minor constitutes telling the priest they're a bad, bad person.

All I'm saying is that, with the limited knowledge I have of this, it seems very strange tat no one has suggested mass arrests. And if they have, I sure as hell haven't been hearing about them in the news.
 

   

 
You Decide, We Report: the Celebrity Envoys

It was a long debate, dozens of suggestions were submitted, and frankly I think anyone who hasn't forgotten about it would be bored if I waited any longer, myself included.

A while ago I asked you, the diligent readers, to submit your picks for who would make an ideal celebrity United Nations Envoy to the Middle East. (the logic was that if Russian can send celebrities into space, then the U.S. should, in true Cold-War tradition, attempt to meet the challenge in futile pointless historical ventures)

The major criteria included logical, rational reasons for why the celebrity would have a legitimate purpose to be a Middle East Peace Envoy. Also, anything that you put way too much effort into thinking about got a few extra points. I mean, seriously- it's a gag, folks. Hence, the candidates, as well as an attempt at a logical reason for sending them:

Mr. T. First of all, we save billions on the defense costs. I mean, honestly- do you think anyone in the area thinks they can take this guy out? It's not going to happen. His massive frame and sparkly jewelry will mesmerize both sides as he- the master of eloquent conversation- subtly explains the rational points of the Oslo Accord. (Thanks to Matt Weiland)

Michael Jackson, in the Captain Eo costume. Both the Israelis and Palestinians will be awed by his otherwordly presence and his monkey will warm their hard hearts. Now, I actually think this makes sense. I know stupid jokes were supposed to be a no-no, but seriously, I think the "time will be spent trying to figure out what the hell this guy is" factor weighs into it. Reader Mandy Brown suggested Bob Dylan, and I didn't pick it because all that we'd need to do is tell them his real name and he'd be dead before lunchtime. With Michael Jackson, they won't even be able to figure out if he's human. I think the weirdness factor will allow more attention to be drawn to him, and in addition, there's no one outside of the President who can get more media following him than Jacko. which is a huge benefit to the entire humanitarian cause. (Thanks to the reader identified only as "blamb")

Bono. Well, Duh.

David Bowie. First of all, if he did Zoolander, then he's got to be itching for anything to prove personal credibility. But Chris Handy provided some ample points that I find compelling and agreeable: he has a global recognition, is well versed in ceremonial fanfare becoming of a diplomat (aaah, glam-rock,) and his compassion is accentuated by a key personal element: he's married to a Muslim. The fact that Ms. Iman is not directly from the Muslim areas in conflict, yet is a member of that group, prevents both sides from a making a credible complaint of bias. I agree that this is somewhat racist, but frankly, so is every other rationale coming out of Israel right now.

So there are the four runners-up. And I want to thank everyone for their submissions, and for the thought you put into this. Frankly, I can't say anything else about this, so I will leave the rest to reader Mike "Eduardo" Orange, who without a doubt gave the best envoy suggestion. With that, I leave you with his e-mail in its entirety. It is poignant. It is passionate. And the level of logic it contains is utterly, mind-bogglingly insane. Thank you all for playing.

Part of the problem with this country's foreign policy stems from the fact that we employ only human agents. In a time as dire as this, we can turn longingly to only one bastion of peace and sanity. Scoff if you will, but I honestly believe we need to send a little Kermit the Frog their way.

Don't close this letter, yet. I'm serious. Sure, Ariel Sharon may have a few screws loose. He may not have a clue what kind of wad he's put Israel's collective panties in. Perhaps his heart is covered with the blackest coat of apathy imaginable. But more importantly, he doesn't seem to have the so-called "rainbow connection."

Think back, if you will, to the original muppet movie. Remember the cast? Jesus, those puppets were so diverse THEY didn't even know what they were. How could a motley crew so outrageous ever come together to produce almost a dozen movies, countless television series, and spawn who knows how much merchandise?

One frog, my friend. One frog with a guitar and a pig girlfriend.

Not only does Mr. Kermit have the know-how, elbow grease, and overwhelming charisma to pull it off, he also has plenty of time. If I'm not mistaken, it's been some time since he or any of his compatriots put together a movie and I suspect he's a little short on current projects. Not only could he resolve two millenia's worth of violence, he could even spin this into the most exciting muppet adventure of all time!

Peace in the Mid-East! A new Muppet venue! Millions of dollars in merchandise! How on Earth could anyone lose? They couldn't, Mr. Pollak. They just couldn't.
 

   

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

 
If you smoke cigarettes, you're helping the terrorists

According to this article in The Nation, representatives from most of the major tobacco companies in the United States ordered a significant passage of the U.S.A. Patriot Act to be eliminated. Why? Because it dealt with stronger tactics and larger influence over international money laundering, which, to quote the article:

...would have expanded the definition of money laundering to include "fraud or any scheme to defraud against a foreign government or foreign government entity, if such conduct would constitute a violation of this title if it were committed in interstate commerce in the United States..."

The section, which the Justice Department had requested to aid its crackdown on money laundering, would have rendered major tobacco companies accused of smuggling cigarettes overseas extremely vulnerable to legal challenge, and they wanted it out.

At the time, the tobacco companies were facing legal assaults on several fronts. On the docket at the US federal courthouse in New York City were two cases being argued in parallel: Twenty-two Colombian states and the city of Bogota and ten European governments-including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece-had accused Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and British American Tobacco of defrauding their governments of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues and of taking the illicit profits back to the United States, which would constitute money laundering...

Representative Oxley removed the provision from the bill at the behest of the White House and GOP whip Tom DeLay, under pressure from big tobacco... As Richard Daynard, director of the Tobacco Litigation Center at Northeastern University, explains, "The bill as originally drafted would have made the tobacco companies a lot more vulnerable to the charges in those lawsuits." It should perhaps come as no surprise that those who supported the tobacco industry were also major recipients of the industry's largesse: A report by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids reveals that Republicans received 82 percent of the more than $18 million that the tobacco industry has poured into political campaigns since 1997.
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "Once Again"
 

   

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

 
Oh, for fuck's sake.


Joe Lamond, president and chief executive officer of International Music Products Association, left, covers the microphone with his hand as he confers with with fellow witness Elmo of Sesame Street during a House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Committee hearing on Capital Hill Tuesday, April 23 in Washington.

Well go the fuck ahead, read it again. I didn't write that. That actually happened.

Okay, here's what gets me about the whole deal. Not that this is an overly cutesy way for Children's Television Workshop to advocate more funding for music education. Not that they actually put a goddamn suit on Elmo, which even I admit is kinda adorable. Not that, essentially, our tax dollars went this morning towards funding all the resources required by congress to listen to a man read a statement through a hand puppet.

What bothers me is the actions, captured here for all time, of Mr. Lamond, seen here doing two things:

  1. Covering with his hand an inactive prop microphone, seeing how the actual one would be near the mouth of the puppeteer- you know, the one that can actually talk.

  2. Whispering into Elmo's ear. So that only the muppet can hear what he has to say.

This was all, of course, in the name of more funding for special programs... something that was recently cut because the budget didn't have enough money. Because, as today's conference with muppets clearly shows, all the money is being used appropriately.
 

   

 
Uh-oh, he's making us think again.

Today, representatives of the Swedish government announced that they believe the inherent bias of the United Nations and it's dominating members will unfairly view the status of their nation in light of an upcoming investigation into said military practices of the Swedish.

The UN, which fears Sweden may be overstepping its military power, is now being told by Sweden that inspectors will not be allowed into their country. Considering the relations the UN has with Sweden to provide aid, it's questionable what kind of incident may develop.

So, when do the bombers fly in? Maybe they won't. See, I'm lying. I changed the country. And you're not going to get a story link to find out which country is really doing this.

You don't get to pick which side you're on just because of who you think is "evil" or not. First tell me if what the country doing is wrong. Then you get to decide if it's Iraq, or Iran, or Israel, or the United States, or whatever. Maybe it's none of those countries. maybe I worded it so that it actually applies to more than one country. uh-oh!

It's a lot harder to call an action "evil" when you don't get to be told who's making the play, isn't it?
 

   

 
World's stupidest idea update

Over a year after my comments were made in my April 5, 2001 comic (fourth one down,) the WSN has announced the breakthrough report on just how much everyone in NYU Dental hates the World's Stupidest IdeaT (or at least one of them,) that being the complete conversion of the entire NYU Dental School course texts into a DVD, which, under the original guidelines proposed 13 months ago, cost $1,200, required the student to own a laptop computer, were serial-coded to prevent transfer of the disc's fiels to other computers (e.g. every student had to buy one for themselves,) and the best part- a built-in "re-updating" policy which required the software to be bought again every semester.

The issue that drove the dental students to a near-reenactment of the finale of Frankenstein, however, was the complete I-swear-to-god-I'm-going-to-smack-that-smarmy-shiteating-grin-off-your-face arrogance of the NYU administrators, who, during the periods in which they could stand upright without the collective sexual organs of the DVD companies inside them, decided to completely ignore any level of student complaint, or in the classic explanation of Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, "There's no way for students to exert any pressure as a market. The student has a choice to buy a Vital Book, or [not] go to NYU."

And this isn't of course just with the DVD company... the articles will show that computer companies, medical science research suppliers, and even the professors themselves are all part of this big financial deal to claim a "streamlining" process for NYU Dental, which in reality is a 21st-century cover for forcing students to buy something they don't necessarily need.

So remember, I said it a year ago and I'll say it again today- NYU: pioneers in the fight against the oppressive rule of libraries and used book stores.
 

   

Monday, April 22, 2002

 
Traffic UnJam

Bandwidth problems, hopefully, should be okay now for the next sixth months.

This does mean, however, that this is your last chance. My favorites to be posted sometime in the next day or so.

Also, my portfolio's up in the info section, so you can go tell all the people you know that run animation studios what a lousy artist I am. Or something to that level.
 

   

 
Big trouble in little Paris

Le Pen! Le PEEEENNNNNNNNNN!

I'm sorry. That had to be done.

Also, please note the sign held by this guy reads "I am ashamed to be French." I will leave that joke up to you because I actually have French fans and I really don't want to upset them. They're already upset because, basically, they now have to choose between a sharp stick in the eye and a red-hot poker up the ass in the runoff.

But anyway, Since when did the French get rowdy? I mean, the stereotype of these people has always been to. well. surrender whenever someone looks at them really mean. So now several thousand of them are tearing the goddamn nation apart because a fluke in a 16-man election made a psychotic right-winger one of the two leading candidates.

My favorite quote from this AP article, however, was as follows:

Le Pen, 73, leader of the anti-immigration National Front, called his score a step in "the French renaissance," to be completed with a May 5 victory.

A renaissance? You mean a cultural groundswell in which the populace erupts into a new wave of free thought and expressive ideals? And here you all are thinking I'm a schmuck for making a bad Lo Pan reference from an obscure 80's Kurt Russell film.

Now, I'd like to use the rest of this rant to explain a simple point to many of the berserk conservatives who are now proclaiming this as a complete sign of the end of leftist politics in France.

Oh, do be so kind as to bite me.

Since we live in a nation that has corporations running the election through the two-party system, most of these people don't understand the concept that France had an election between 16 people- which means the runoff will consist of the people who support the incumbent Chirac, the supporters of Le Pen, and the other 77% of the country that didn't vote for either of them, and sure as hell aren't voting for the more conservative of the two.

In other words, there were 14 candidates that people thought were more to the left of these two, including the Prime Minister, who, come one guys, only lost by 1% of the vote. So stop acting like the right-wingers are taking over Europe. Last time that happened, most of Europe fought back.

Except France. Sorry. Couldn't help myself.
 

   

Sunday, April 21, 2002

 
And now, the world's smartest 12-year old.

This is probably old to some of you, but I just found it- an essay written by a Charlotte Aldebron, a 12-year old schoolgirl, about the true importance of the symbol of our nation:

The American flag stands for the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or to leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain.

School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to pledge loyalty to justice and equality and human decency. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free of harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth.

Betsy Ross would be quite surprised to see how successful her creation has become. But Thomas Jefferson would be disappointed to see how little of the flag's real meaning remains.

Source, as well as the e-mail address of the girl's mother so you can tell her what a great job she did, found here.
 

   

 
"Hey, let's pass some more laws so we look like we're working!"

The Senate voted on Thursday 97-0 to pass the (deep breath) Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, which prohibits the entry into the United States of anyone from a country that "sponsors terrorism." The list of these countries is as follows: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and North Korea. (The Axis of Evil has grown, apparently)

Yes, thank you. I as well noticed that in other words, this bill would have done nothing to prevent the 9/11 terrorists from entering the country, seeing as how almost all of them were from... none of those countries.

So basically, seven nations have just had their entire populations added to a blacklist. Talk about racial profiling.

My favorite part, however, is how the bill lovingly explains how foreign college students can be treated. From the article:

The measure also significantly tightens control over foreign students studying in US universities and colleges. It requires the State and Justice Departments to closely monitor these students' arrivals, enrolment into classes as well as their dropping out. If the bill becomes law, which is largely expected, universities will be asked to report foreign students not showing up for classes to immigration authorities.

Well, as an alleged "citizen of an oppressive nation" yearning for the education of an obviously superior land, that sure as fuck would make me want to enter the open arms of Uncle Sam. Way to teach our guests about freedom, Senators.
 

   

Saturday, April 20, 2002

 
Well, they just don't let anything get by the vigilant security, so they?

A man has just filed a lawsuit against American Airlines for $10 million because the lost some of his stuff. Sort of.

The "stuff" in question is in fact the man's 70-year old Alzheimer's-striken wife, who due to lack of supervision on the airline's part disappeared during a stopover and has not been seen since Dec. 5 of last year.

American Airlines refused to comment, although I bet if they did, they would have claimed "Beats us what to do. Usually this happens with dogs, and they just run home across the country in some Disney-movie storyline." Yeah, that's what they would have said.
 

   

Friday, April 19, 2002

 
Who'd a thunk this?

This is an advance warning, but I'll bring it up again when it definitely happens.

As I write this, I will have used about 900 MB of the 1,000 MB bandwidth limit for the month with my current host. As a free hosting service, they do not offer the convenient "we'll just charge you a few more bucks if you go over" deal, so as soon as I hit a gig, this site goes poof. What makes me proud about this is that this is bandwidth consumed just from reading the blog- the comics, which make up about 80% of the actual site space, are on a different server.

Since their upgrades cost too much and offer too little given the incresed traffic I've been given, it means that most likely sometime in the next week or so this site is going to go down for a day or two to transfer to a new host. If this happens, rest assured in advance this site has NOT gone down permanently. I really would hate the irony of changing my host to increase bandwith only to lose enough people to not having merited it. Hmm. Logic.

With that, I have decided that this is a perfect deadline-forcer for the Celebrity Envoy Suggestions. It's official- you have until this site stops working to submit your entry.
 

   

 
On Rall and responses

Once again I apologize for not being able to personally respond to every person's e-mails. I started doing that this morning and after a few of them I realized I was being told and being challenged, and subsequently being forced to respond, in a repeated manner.

So first of all, to the new fans, thank you.

Now, to the conservatives who have been writing me: for one thing, you don't need to tell me you're conservative. For some reason, every single one of you writes me and says "by the way, I'm a conservative." I figure this out on my own by about the second or third paragraph.

Second, please don't write me to tell me you're not going to dignify my post with an answer. Whenever this happens, I call my roommate and/or some friend over and we stare at it and then giggle for a minute.

But I digress. Many of you have attacked me for referencing Rall, as well as making note of the terrorist connection to Haliburton and the Carlyle group. I think I need to clarify.

First, I love Ted Rall and his work, but yes, at times the act of defending him makes me feel the way court-appointed attorneys must feel when they are assigned to try to prove that their client didn't really eat that nun. Nevertheless, I support Rall's opinion to theorize that the war is an excuse for the Unocal pipeline. Personally, I don't this theory as a level of proof, but a situation in which neither side has given enough information to disprove the other.

Also, this goes to liberal and conservative readers alike who have been doing this all day: please don't point me to Spinsanity for evidence. For one thing, I do not accept the intricate research of three guys and their web site as definitive proof any more than I expect any of you to accept my site as. If anything, I am beginning to see a technological nightmare on the horizon if we are approaching an era in which the concept of "researched debate" de-evolves into using websites to debunk other websites.

When I go to a site like Spinsanity or Snopes, my evidence is not garnered by the fact that it's written by their site, but by whatever information they have garnered from outside links. you know, legitimate sources. In one link a reader sent me re: Rall, there were absolutely none. Just an article written in the tone of "Rall is wrong because we say so, and we're to be trusted because goddamit, we're printed in Salon."

That said, I emphasize that I like Spinsanity, just not as a research source. When I say three guys with a website I mean three very smart guys with a website. I think it's a well-written, well-calculated, well-balanced opinion site/column, and should be noted as such. Note Spinsanity to me if you think they wrote a smart article. Note it to me if they linked to a viable news source about one of their findings. Please don't link me just to a quote of theirs as evidence. That's all I'm saying.

As for the argument I'm being given that "we didn't just go there for bin Laden:" obviously not. But we were made to think that. My point is that now that Rumsfeld has admitted we had no evidence on bin Laden, he should at least go all the way and admit that Defense Department and the President spun this entire tragedy into a movie plot, and convinced a load of Americans that everything would be better if we had Bruce Willis go in and off this one single 70-year old man.

In other words, it was made to look as if killing bin Laden would be a definitive victory for the war, and now that we realized we can't, and never had, the chance of doing that, chastising me for being critical of the plot being changed midway just doesn't make any damn sense at all.
 

   

 
Plans change, apparently

Reader Chris Doherty sent me this e-mail which I can't really tell if it's meant to be supportive or critical, or maybe just a lil' bit o' both:

I'm finding your response to be uninformed and, while maybe justified, many months belated.

did anyone ever claim that we had more specific information about bin Laden's whereabouts than "Afghanistan"? we went there not just for him, but for his organization, and it looks like we did a pretty decent job of that, at least (as a side objective, I was just told that the Taliban was not cooperating with US attempts to lay an oil pipeline through Afghanistan from Turkmenistan, which I'm sure was another consideration).

US hegemony and its abuses is not a new thing, and this isn't even the worst thing we've ever been involved in--read the history of US involvement in Latin America, for example. with regard to the 9/11 attacks, we started bullying other nations within days of the event-the entire world lined up behind us with specific wording supporting military action to defend ourselves...why? because they like us? no. in fact I have pretty good information that every nation received a list of things that the US wanted them to say, with no uncertain terms stating that there could be consequences for not endorsing the list.

which is not to say that they didn't support us to some extent, but we pushed it beyond that.

I don't understand why you seem to think that Rumsfeld should resign. if there was any fraud involved, he wasn't alone, and in reality a lot of this is just How America Works in the past few decades. high-level officials just don't resign as a result of how they've done their jobs, really.

I share your anger, but I think it lacks a thorough background.

So here's mostly what I told him:

Chris, the answer to the last part of your e-mail explains my opinions for the first. I think Rumsfeld should resign for numerous reasons, the newest being the fact that no individual at that high a level of responsibility in the government should be allowed to say he was not ashamed to not know the most significant piece of military information and keep his job afterwards. To not only say that he failed at his job, but to say he has no qualms about it, would get him fired at Old Navy, let alone a job controlling the actual one.

Rumsfeld should also show shame for exactly what I mentioned yesterday- the fact that he began a targeted bombing campaign for no reason at all other than domestic internal reasons capitalizing on the post-9/11 patriotism. I will leave all discussions on the veracity and evidence of the Afghanistan-oil connection to Ted Rall, who has, does, and will know more about it than I ever will for the rest of my life.

Your notion that "we started bullying every other nation" is not entirely true. We picked a few nations not to bully, despite reasons to do so I will mention in just a moment.

Your statements about how much we know about Afghanistan and bin Laden as well as your statement that we did not go in there just for him are grossly inaccurate, if not entirely untrue.

It was the president himself who said "we put the world's financial institutions on notice: if you do business with terrorists, if you support them or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United States of America." Yet only a week ago our "allies" in the Arab world held a fundraiser which most pro-war pundits claim will support Palestinian terrorist attacks. How can they agree to both these ideas?

In addition, the Taliban and Al-Quaeda were the same type of organization four months prior to September 11, when they were, to be blunt, doing business with the United States of America. This includes the infamous "anti-drug" aid as well as negotiations with the Taliban with Haliburton, as well as bin Laden family connections to the Carlyle Group (co-founded by former president George H.W. Bush.)

Why is the Taliban and Al-Quaeda suddenly the enemy? It does not take a genius to realize that they are referring to bin Laden. Nor do we doubt greatly that Bush was referring to someone other than bin Laden when he said we would "smoke 'im out, dead or alive," nor the connection to suddenly raising a bounty on him to $25 million, nor the demands Bush made in his address to the nation demanding that Al-Quaeda turn him over. So, in short, the notion that bin Laden was not the reason we picked Afghanistan to bomb is ludicrous.

If our goal, as you said, was to decimate Al-Quaeda, why have we not bombed any other country that contains Al-Quaeda cells? Moreover, why did we attack Afghanistan's Taliban regime in disgust of their "inhumane treatment" of women and others, when our allies do the same? Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are monarchial dictatorships, and both still restrict women from various rights. Afghanistan is NOT the only country that forces women to cover themselves, yet Laura Bush only seemed to find the time to express her disgust towards the one nation.

In other words, we have proven that our goal was not to remove Al-Quaeda or the elements of radical oppressive Islam, because we have a long list of allies who are involved with both that we chose not to "bully." With the goal of eliminating Al-Quaeda clearly a farce, the only other objective left to rationale attacking one individual nation is bin Laden.

I have expressed these ideas and opinions for seven months now, and yet every time I have been told that I am without a thorough background, or that I have no evidence, or no merit. I am disgusted that ultimately it was the other way around- the government has proven through action and now admitted openly that they are the ones who failed in their attempts at thorough research. And with no malice towards you, I am sick and tired of being told I am the one who has to gather more evidence. To tell me or anyone else who is against this war that we are "many months belated" is an insult to the work we have all done that the government has clearly failed to.

(Information regaring Bush's statements and initial policy towards Afghanisan courtesy of Fox News. You heard me.)
 

   

Thursday, April 18, 2002

 
Oh. Well.

Despite a massive number of tips, rumors and other intelligence, the U.S. military has never had good enough information on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts to mount a mission to go after him, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.

As Carlin says, I'd like to repeat that because it sounds vaguely important.

The Defense Secretary of the United States- the man who pretty much answers only to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President himself over the military actions of the country, announced today, without immediately resigning afterwards, that although we bombed an entire country, killed thousands of people, and intervened in specific governmental regime changes because it might have hosted a man from a different country, we didn't really have enough information to merit doing it.

I can't even attempt to feign some mellow rational tone of voice. I just can't do it. It's psychotic nutcase liberal hippie commie tree-hugger go-back-to-Russia screaming time.

WE EXECUTED A BOMBING CAMPAIGN THAT KILLED A THOUSAND PEOPLE BECAUSE WE WERE TRYING TO CAPTURE SOMEONE, AND NOW. NOW WE'RE BEING TOLD WE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO MERIT IT?

Jesus Christ. What the flying FUCK were we doing in Afghanistan after September 11? Scouting for goddamn Olympics sites? I could have sworn some asshole in a suit went before the nation and both houses of Congress and said in a brilliant eloquent speech worthy of Churchill himself that we're "gonna go in and smoke 'im out." No need to mention that we're just going to start the smoke somewhere because, according to our evidence, we. can.

Not enough information on where he was. Then why didn't we "smoke 'im out" in Somalia, sympathetic to his cause? Why not "smoke 'im out" in Russia- where we trained him to become a killer? Why not "smoke 'im out" in Saudi Arabia- where he's from and where half his entire family lives?

This is not just a statement that we don't have enough information. This is a statement that proves every idea, every theory, every notion that people with the ridiculous concept of questioning this military operation, is right: we grabbed Jughead from the Malt Shoppe, spun the globe, and had him throw a dart at it. Then we incinerated the country the dart hit.

You are no longer hearing it from the lunatic fringe. You are no longer hearing it from racist anti-Semitic websites that claim some inner Jewish conspiracy to cause 9/11. You are hearing it from the Defense Secretary of the United States of America: We declared Afghanistan was hosting bin Laden, then mocked the people who asked for evidence. We launched a campaign that killed thousands of civilians because we assumed he was there, but didn't have the evidence. We bombed a country because we felt like it.

"I'm not ashamed to say we don't know," Rumsfeld told reporters Wednesday. "We don't know."

Well, isn't that nice. He's not ashamed to say he doesn't know. So he's not ashamed to say he didn't know when we killed a few thousand people.

Because all that mattered was finding another man who wasn't ashamed about killing a few thousand people for no particular reason.
 

   

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

 
Congrats

Just a quick congratulations to Tom Tomorrow, who I read in the news today just won the 2001 "Cartooning with a Conscience" prize in The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism at Hunter College.

That said, I'm also annoyed, because I entered that contest too, and had to pay a load to copy and ship 15 packets of 20 different comics for submission requirements.

But like they say, I guess there's no harm in being beaten by the best. Congratulations may be directed to Tom and sympathy towards me can be directed towards the PlanetCartoonist "Vote for Me" button to the left. It's the least you can do, since as long as Tom's around I'm apparently never winning any of these awards.
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "The Return of the Ghost of Adolf Hitler!"

I warned you.
 

   

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

 
Well this is interesting

Got a quote for ya.

[W]e believe the Israeli conscience is immune to the atrocities your army and settlers commit against us.All Israeli terrorists are mere lunatics, all the civilians you kill are by mistake, all the houses you demolish are owned by sub-humans, all the people tortured in your detention camps are terrorists, all the land you confiscate is biblical ... your moral argument concerning civilian casualties is, to us, the pinnacle of hypocrisy. This is not because we are morally inept but because your army does exactly the same thing you always deplore; your army kills civilians almost daily. Civilians die and terrorism is committed whether you use an F-16 or a car bomb ... For 35 years, you've enslaved us. You never stopped building settlements. You've created generations of Palestinian nothingness that can lead only to desperation and violence. How did you expect us to react?

My vote is that Ariel Sharon's offensive is the stupidest campaign in recent memory. Defined here as a campaign that has solved nothing, increased Israel's problems, intensified Palestinian hatred of Israel, estranged many Europeans and Americans, and fanned Islamic hostility ... What Sharon has been doing is to give way to Israeli rage. The rage is hot, deserved and purposive. But to proceed on the assumption that water and electricity lines and schools and hospitals are vital organs of terrorist excursions is untenable except on an understanding that General Sharon hasn't articulated.

What makes this interesting? Well the quote comes from this editorial from the United Kingdom's The Independent.

Also, I'm lying. The second paragraph was written by William F. Buckley's column "On the Right." And if that won't make Limbaugh's head explode, I don't know what will.
 

   

 
Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 6

This is basically what I just wrote in an e-mail to Tom Tomorrow about a letter a fan wrote him in regards to the Mideast crisis:

I'm taking special note of the first fan letter you printed last night about the Middle East, because I think it's the new record for the most disagreeable and spin-laden response I've read in a recent while. It scares me because he's not simply parroting the violent and racist comments that you see from both sides in places like the Yahoo! message boards, but rather more frightening because he honestly means everything he says in it.

First of all, he's a liar. For the writer to say "I feel for the plight of the Palestinian civilians caught in the middle" and then in the same letter- in fact, the same breath, say that all Palestinians "(who, by the way, cheered as your beloved WTC fell and rabidly support chemical weapons cheiftan Saddam Hussein) have said repeatedly that they want to eliminate Israel from the planet" is both a critical prejudice and a savage hypocrisy.

I am adding "Palestinians cheered as the World Trade Center fell" to my list of talking points that shatter credibility in the debate. For one thing, it's a horrible generalization, if not a flat-out lie. Several news groups and web sites have already garnered evidence of countless "Arabs celebrating" stories, which if anything are fabricated to instill American Patriotism.

Am I saying some of them didn't do it? Obviously not. Of course some Palestinians cheered. The same way some Americans cheered at newsreels of the atomic bomb landing on Hiroshima. The same way people giggle and make jokes about celebrities they didn't like dying, or co-workers they hated getting killed in a car crash. When exactly does morbid enjoyment of the death of someone you allegedly despise switch over from "funny" to "meriting the carpet bombing of their homeland?" A certain body count? That's the most horrid devaluing of human life I can imagine. So is calling a building the "beloved WTC." It wasn't beloved. In fact, most people hated the damn thing. What was beloved were the lives of the 3,000 people who died in it, so for future reference it would be nice if he got his priorities of value. People dying was bad. THEN building falling.

The hypocrisy astounds me when the issue of "who hates who more" enters the debate. We see that there are supporters of peace- both Arab and Jew- within Israel begging to end the conflict. As you said yourself, even members of Bush's own cabinet acknowledge the strife on both sides.

Yet like countless others who support the Israeli invasion, your fan gives no second thought to the baseless notion that every single Palestinian laughed and celebrated as Americans died, and that every single Palestinian wants Israel to be pushed into the sea. Your reader essentially has stated that there are NO Palestinians caught in the middle. All this will do is make the fanatic Arabs think there are no Israelis caught in the middle, and then the non-existent state of total hatred will come true thanks to people like him imagining it already exists.

The spin that is placed on the desire for war is equally ludicrous. First people brag about the might of the Israeli army, then they suddenly turn submissive at the idea that they are using it. Though the Ghandi proposal is valid (I believe Michael Moore made the same point,) how can one chastise the Palestinians for not resisting violent action when even before the start of the invasion Israel's policy of stopping alleged militants was launching missiles at them? In other words, if Israel has such a mighty army that they are apparently pained to use, then why aren't THEY adopting a nonviolent policy, or for that matter even one of just simple defense?

The reason, of course, is the settlements again, which in the eyes of any Palestinian ARE a violent action. Israel cannot mount a defensive wall because tanks and troops must remain to guard the settlements. I challenge your reader to ask Israel why THEY didn't attempt to acquire land in 1976 through nonviolent means. If Israel has the alleged moral high ground, then why is no attempt to assume it being made anymore?

Finally, we come to the "why aren't you on both sides?" spin, which I think we need to add to me old list as well. This is basically a line that is retooled through every military conflict since before all of use were born. The argument is this: if two sides are committing atrocities, then the only way to be fair is to condemn both sides, or else you're a biased sympathizer.

I hope that your fan has since read your post about Paul Wolfowitz- a man who tried to do just that, and was booed by several thousand people who didn't find anything wrong with praising only Sharon.

If he wants, your reader can address his comments to me, because I am very interested in what he has to say. I apologize if this sounds overly supportive of Palestine, because I am doing my best to bring the savagery and stupidity of both sides in my writing. But in the case of this particular letter, I felt it was important to point out the hypocrisy of someone who was priding himself on calling everyone else a hypocrite.

-August J. Pollak
 

   

 
Oh good, Newt wants to say something.

From an editorial in the ever-so-fair-and-balanced Washington Times by the Former Speaker:

For Israel to survive, the forces of terrorism and hatred must be totally defeated. Therefore, a campaign must be undertaken to eliminate them from the Palestinian territories, break their financial ties from Arab states, and eliminate the propaganda that grows new generations of terrorists.

This campaign might begin by declaring Yasser Arafat a terrorist and exiling him from the Palestinian territories. As a known terrorist, Mr. Arafat could well be banned from travel to the United States.

Countries that want to have good relations with the United States should be informed that they can no longer support the forces of terrorism without severe consequences including financial subsidies to families of suicide bombers and organizations of terror. Additionally, shipments of arms and weapons will not be tolerated. Countries need to understand that their actions matter more than their words and that aid to terrorists puts them squarely on the side of terrorists.

After isolating the terrorists from their outside support it is necessary to create a Palestinian government which is willing to seek a peaceful, prosperous future as a neighbor to Israel. This will require funding and training of a police and intelligence infrastructure that can support the anti-terrorist leadership and can root out the terrorists.

Ah, the wonderful circle of life. Where else but in America can a political demagogue who united an entire country in disgust of him write a flowing article about how good it would be to isolate someone and lionize him for all time. Good call, Newt.

Ironically, someone actually suggested this guy as a celebrity envoy. He's not my best friend at the moment.

 

   

Monday, April 15, 2002

 
Truly, we are made in God's image... right.

My brother forwarded to me this afternoon two news stories which I think bare a unique corollary- that they represent the absolute opposite ends of the thin line that we call "Man's Belief in the Universal Possibility of Achievement."

You see, we now know that a human being can fully comprehend complex physics, and grasp the god-like ability to generate unique life, and expand his own ability throguh advanced technology by connecting his own body to cyborg technology. An advance in science that could possibly aid the cure of disease, further the quest for artificial intelligence, and spread the advancement of human knowledge into the realm of the future.

Then, in the same day, we learn that a 12-year old swallowed 87 condoms filled with heroin. Frankly, there's got to be a science to that.
 

   

 
Oh lord, not this again

In a move that, when you think about it, could be predicted by just about anyone, Children's Television Workshop has filed a lawsuit against an independent director for making a film that not-to-subtly implies the homosexuality of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie.

The article, in the grand tradition of "oh look how cute this is" journalism, then fills the rest of the article with whimsical reminders of all the funny websites and jokes about the two, including the famous "Bert is Evil" fiasco that led to a photo of Bert and Osama bin Laden appear in a pro-Taliban protest in Bangladesh.

First, the stupid issue of this post: the CTW shouldn't, and hopefully won't, have a leg to stand on. I find it hard to believe a court of law will believe than an independent underground filmmaker releasing a documentary on the film festival circuit- truly a hotbed of young child audiences- was distorting the reputation of a now-massive children's programming conglomerate by implying a gay relationship in a satire of two of said conglomerate's copyrighted characters.

That said, here's the actual point of this post: I am sick of people saying stupid things about Bert and Ernie being gay.

Bert. Ernie. Velma. Peppermint Patty. And I'm sure I'll think of a few more in a minute. Get over it, people. There is no hidden meaning, no secret message. As a cartoonist, and as an animator, and as someone who's actually studied in college a little bit about storytelling in American cinema, I can safely say you're all morons if you think these are gay characters.

Personally, I think this is all William Golding's fault for writing Lord of the Flies. You see, we all have to read this book in high school, and this novel. Jesus Christ, this novel defined the concept of "literary interpretation." Every goddamn thing in this book is a metaphor for something. The boys represent the Bible, the Second World War, and any other thing a bunch of guys who went to Harvard could get their hands on.

So suddenly, all us schoolchildren across America are taught to take every little piece of storytelling and nitpick the living hell out of it. And as Americans, we turn towards sitcoms and cartoons, the two American contributions to the modern entertainment culture. Sitcoms, of course, being scientifically designed to have absolutely no inner meaning whatsoever, we are forced to analyze Hanna-Barbera ad infinitum until someone gets on the internet and announces "I've figured it out! The Smurfs are Communists!" then takes another hit and falls out of his chair.

So now there's this adorable little bandwagon that thinks it's funny and cute to giggle about how Velma's a queer and how funny the subtle references to that in the upcoming movie will be. not realizing that thinking like this is the worst thing for the gay community that you can possibly do.

Why is this so annoying, and why do people think these stupid concepts? It comes down to these points:

For the last 20 years, there has hardly ever been a significant character on an American television program who was openly gay without that being an element of the plot.

Think about it. A gay character. Who appears routinely on the show. Who is not flamboyant, has no lisp, is not incessantly whining about how he hasn't had sex (because it's important for Will to remind us every week that (oh my gosh!) he fucks other men,) and does not talk like a 25-year old black woman.

This is where the media applies the stereotype tat they no longer have to apply to anyone else. When a character is black, the plot does not necessarily revolve around their race (Bill Cosby proved this to us.) When a character is a woman, the plot, like the previous example, can revolve around that but doesn't have to. When the character is gay, then the show has to be titled "The Adventures of This Guy and Look at This! He's Got a Gay Roommate!"

Want a perfect example? Star Trek. They've had women, the middle-aged, and minorities all in power roles on the show. Rarely has their "uniqueness" been the turning point of whether or not the Universe was going to be saved. So where's the gay starship captain? Hell, where are the gay crewmen?

Frankly, the only character I can think of in recent history is Richard Hatch from the first season of Survivor, which doesn't really count because it wasn't a character, but the real person on film. Yet the editing turned Rich into an evil character, with traits so vile and reprehensible that by the end of the show you forgot that he was gay because you were too concerned about his relevant trait- that he's a complete asshole.

Prior to 20 years ago, gay characters in television and film were either obviously implied or removed from the original source of the story.

Anyone notice the complete lack of homosexual undertones in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire? Not like that was important to the theme of the play or anything.

If you want a real example of gay characters in television and film leading up to today, check out the documentary The Celluloid Closet. It provides more information about how gays are addressed in American film than any website or news article you'll read, and it sure as well won't waste your time implying that cartoon characters are gay.

It is an insult to the creator of any character or story to disagree with him or her when they tell you exactly what they meant out of their characters.

I am offended every time someone talks about how Peppermint Patty is a lesbian. It's an insult to Charles Schulz, and an insult to writers and artists who actually do create gay characters, to tell them what their work means. Bill Hanna has said Velma's not gay. Charles Schulz said Patty's not gay. CTW has filed a fucking LAWSUIT to say that Bert and Ernie aren't gay. Get over it, people. They're not gay. If you're looking for an icon, I'm confused. Why would you pick a character to represent the gay cause when that character, if gay, is obviously the most in-the-closet queer in town?

It is a further insult to directors who actually try to address the gay issue to waste your time addressing the gay issue in subjects that have no relevance.

There are countless films out there that bring a decent light to the gay character. But no one looks at it or analyzes it because they're spending their time saying that Bugs Bunny has repressed homosexual tendencies and that's why he's always dressing up as a woman. No. Bugs Bunny dresses up as a woman because he wants to distract the Cro-Magnon with a gun chasing him, and because it's funny.

Jokes about gay people are hurtful, and no, gays should not just "get over it."

Is it right to say that people who protest films with rampant gay jokes can go to far and are acting irrational? Yes. Does that mean they don't have a point? No.

Like the stereotype of making all gays flamboyant, it is an unspoken rule as of late that jokes towards gays are allowed in a venue where jokes about minorities are not. The debate about this being a result of a stronger political lobby is still going on, but to put my cards on the table, I see it like this: I laughed the first time Jay made a joke about gays in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The movie was ruined when it was the first of about 30 or 40 gay jokes in a 90-minute film. That's why Kevin Smith looks like a raging homophobe.

This is where people will yell at me to tell me that Kevin Smith is the only filmmaker out there who addressed gay issues in a good light, as his wonderful film Chasing Amy reflects. This consequently is where I say bullshit. Chasing Amy is not a flagship film for the gay movement. As the Village Voice once explained, the movie is a straight man's dyke fantasy. If you want a whimsical look at gay-straight interactions and the social commentary that underlines then, watch But I'm a Cheerleader or Gerard DePardeu in The Closet. Don't watch a film about a man turning a woman temporarily straight in a plot subdevice straight out of hardcore porn.

-----------------

On a side note, thank you to all the people writing me in with their envoy suggestions, and to those who haven't yet, take your best shot.
 

   

Sunday, April 14, 2002

 

Where the hell are the singing cats?

Since Tom has explained to us that he enjoys blogging as a means of posting pictures of his adorable dog, then my only response can be to use my blog as a means of posting pictures of everyone else's cats.

I present to you the Library Cats Map. This is, essentially, an online database of all know cats in the world who live in libraries.

That's right. Try not to think about it too long or blood will shoot out of your face. Just go look at all the fuzzy kitties.

And keep sending in your votes.
 

   

Saturday, April 13, 2002

 
Arg.

Weekend. No rest for John. Working working working. Finishing the next comic to be published Wednesday. But as a spoiler-slash-warning, it's got Hitler in it. And newer fans can check the cast section and the Chaosphere!NY archive to know what I'm talking about. (I'm planning on making a graphic with Hitler to use as an official "Godwin's Law" seal in the near future for all you rabid message board fans, so stay tuned.)

I met animator Bill Plympton on Friday when he gave a lecture about being an independent animator and he gave me his empty coke can, which I now use as an inspirational statue on my desk. What can I say, I can't afford one of the Conan O'Brien Jesus statues. He's promoting his new film, which looks like it will rock, and in a strange happening I ran into him again in the park today as he was handing out promo cards for his film. (How often is it in New York when you can see the director of the film on the promo team?)

I have tremendous respect for Bill Plympton and his work, and the fact that he's made over a dozen cartoons without ever using a computer; a feat I doubt I'll be able to copy when I start production on my first short for Senior Production next semester. And I have great respect for his effort to look at my work and comment on it and give me all the great advice he gave me about improving my animation ability last night.

So on that note, I feel very guilty now that I wrote this guy back and actually had a list of reasons why I'm trying to avoid linking to the site of every person who asks me to. Partially it's because I am forcing myself into a state of denial whenever someone writes me and suggests that I have any clout in the cartooning world. I'm not, and sometimes I'm overwhelmed when people write me of all people and ask for advice. But he's just too damn good a "webtoonist" to pass over, even if I violently disagree with about half of his cartoons. He does much better caricatures of public figures than I do. However, the general public is informed NOT to interpret this as a sign of an open call for links.
 

   

Friday, April 12, 2002

 
Who wants to solve the Mideast Conflict? Celebrity Edition!

Here's your chance to interact with social satire, folks. I had this great idea last night right before I passed out.

If the Russians have decided that they are going to allow celebrities and important (translated: really rich) people into their space program, then why can't the United States allow celebrities into their diplomatic programs? It will easily bring more international recognition, wouldn't it?

So here's my proposal: write me with your rational ideas for who would make a good celebrity envoy to the Middle East to aid with the peace process? Give me as many suggestions as you want, with as many explanations as you want, but please try to follow these simple rules:

  • The celebrity must be a known celebrity throughout most of the world. So don't say something like Gary Condit, because despite what you may have though, only middle-class white Americans know who the fuck that is.
  • You must present at least a shred of legitimate reasoning for the celebrity to be considered a Mideast peace envoy. This includes your perception of global concern, their personal experiences, or any specific attributes.
  • This is not a venue for stupid late-night level celebrity jokes. Example: If you suggest Mariah Carey with the explanation, "since she knows so much about bombs already" or "because I wouldn't mind if she got killed," then I will not only ignore you, but I will ignore anything else you ever try to send to me for the rest of time. However, if you suggest Mariah Carey because "if Arafat was distracted by Condoleeza Rice's legs, imagine what concessions he'll make in front of her," then that has a shred of legitimate reason as outlined in the previous guideline.
  • Do not suggest Bono, as he is already on the list. Duh.

The contest will run until I get enough really good ideas to make a list, or until I get bored, whichever comes first. The contest will of course also end in the wake of any Mideast peace, at which point we will all go outside to build a snowman with Satan. Yes, please tell your friends and fellow bloggers and whatnot they are welcome to participate in the contest as well.

Oh, and since a few were wondering, 14th floor won the Penny Wars, but the 9th floor came in fourth place for some reason, which means on the overall board they're still beating us by ten points, and I've just about stopped caring.
 

   

Thursday, April 11, 2002

 
With 21 minutes to go until the deadline (updated from the original midnight as previously thought) there has now begun a massive surge in underdog floors bringing down buckets of pennies to load into their jars. Currently, access to the 10th floor jar is suspended, as their jar has been placed under quarantine due to all of the silver change disappearing from it. I'll repeat that because it's that utterly sad: someone from the 10th floor actually stole money being donated to charity to gain an advantage in Penny Wars. Again, please note, this is a college dormitory, which by inference implies everyone in it was qualified to go to college.

In addition, I have been told by the Hall Manager that counting of the pennies shall be done using a coin counting machine, which they understand is not completely accurate, therefore in case of any close counts between multiple floors, a hand recount of pennies will commence and I swear to all that is holy I am not making any of this up. My reaction is thus:


 
   

 
Yes. This is actually a group of people who all got into college.

My reflection on today's news that the Senate passed a voting reform bill shall be expressed via this true story of my current place of residence: NYU's Rubin Hall Dormitory.

We are currently in day four of "Floor Wars," a series of little games and activities that each floor in the dorm pits against each other for points. Whichever floor with the most points come Sunday wins a $250 prize for the floor's RA to do with it what they will. I will emphasize now that everything else I'm going to explain is completely true, as the previous sentence is for a long time going to be the only thing that sounds remotely believable about any of this.

My floor, the 14th, is one of the main combatants right now in an onslaught of accusations and rivalry over the events of this week. 14 barely won the Twister competition the first night amidst constantly changing rules during the middle of the game, and now we have been dropped down to second in overall points because of a rule change again. Our RA, who I remind you is the appointed voice of reason and logic in this friendly competition, registered a complaint against the building manager (the head of the games) for altering Wednesday night's "Family Fued" rules in which our floor, which should have been given a bye to the second round due to our previous victory, was instead forced to face of in the first round against the 9th floor, who beat us and ultimately won. and were awarded 80 points for their victory instead of the 50 they were only supposed to get. putting them in the lead by 25 points overall.

The demand for violent action against 9, as well as third-place leader 11 just for the hell of it, was quenched at the start of today's challenge- the most gruesome fund-raising event any college dares to endure- Penny Wars.

Let's give a rundown to all the people who actually have responsibilities in life: Penny Wars in a game in which teams (in this case, each floor) are each given a jar to fill with pennies. At the end of the game period (in this case, midnight tonight) teams receive one point for each penny. However, here's where the fun comes in- teams may put nickels, dimes, and quarters in other teams' jars, which count as NEGATIVE points of their respective monetary value. In addition, each team is given only one jar, which means once the jar is full, no more coins can be put in by any team. The teams receive overall points in ranking order of points for the pennies. (i.e. first place gets 70 points, next gets 65, etc.) So not only was it necessary for 14 to win first place, it was vital to the overall board to make sure 9 and 11 came dead last.

So 14's strategy, being the mature, responsible college students we all are, was to acquire nearly a hundred dollars in cash, convert it all into change at nearby banks, and proceed to fill our jar to the brim with pennies and load all the silver coins (which became known as the "Fuck You, 9th Floor Fund") into the jars of 11 and 9. This would make it impossible for any other floor to give us negative points, while providing the 9th floor with about thirty or forty dollars in debt (i.e. 3,000-4,000 pennies) needed just to break even.

This plan was put into action at 10:16 this morning, roughly 15 minutes after the contest began with the Hall Manager actually putting the jars in the lobby. And it all goes downhill from there. The mistake made by our floor was the denial that any other floor could possibly be as immature and catty as we were about this. This mistake was revealed by the 9th and 15th floors, which together houses about 90% of the gay male drama students at New York University. Things got real ugly real fast.

As of this writing, 6 of the 14 floors in the contest have full jars, be it with pennies, silver, or a combination of both. Banks within a seven-block radius of the dorm are now all out of coin rolls. And at one point people from other floors actually loosened the lid of 14's jar to allow another row of dimes to just squeeze into our jar. Now floors are beginning to rationalize that if a quarter is worth -25 points, then a dollar bill must be worth -100 points. and those fit in the jar! Hooray! Except of course, that allegedly certain floors were told in advance that bills don't count. I swear to Christ this is all true.

So now, my dormitory, housing place of the alleged representatives of excellence in their achievement of entering one of "the New Ivies," have practically begun shifts of vigil over the jars to harass those who may even attempt to think about foul play. This is too much for American credibility to handle. This is far too much for me to handle, and at the rate people are gathering coins, it's too much for the card table holding all the jars to handle- imagine what a little folding faux-wood card table looks like. Now imagine that table holding 14 jars that each weigh as much as a curling stone.
 

   

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

 
It's time for another round of opinions from my diligent and supportive fans. Who by the way, I am told, are giving Mikhaela a very good day. Thanks to all for supporting her. Make sure to keep voting for both of us on the PlanetCartoonist thingie because with only 1,200 more hits, I'll technically be more popular than the guy who just won the Pulitzer. If Freepers get to screw with internet polls, so do we.

Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 5

Reader (and fellow member of the Grand Order of Broke Film Students) Allen Cole adds a new factor to the debate, that of the class issue. It's something I agree with, as I mentioned in Pt. 4, when I tried to explain that bragging about Israeli superiority is not the best way to curry a loss of determination in the suicide bombers. But I will also warn you that there's a few points here that I think are going to get at least some levels of disagreement:

...the reason the Isreali/Palestinian conflict is so devicive and so unsolvable is that it is a conflict that plays on so many levels; race, religion, political, economical, and class (that's right, I'm dropping the C-bomb). Palestinians are the backbone, the working class of the Isreali economy, that's why when groups such as Hamas call for a general strike, Isreali troops would force local shopkeepers to open at gunpoint, leaving them to fear reprisal attacks from their own people. But all that is a thing of the past, now it's all out war. Isreali soldiers shoot anything that moves in the streets. They drive their tanks through Palestinian homes, and use the refugees as human sheilds in order to advance farther into the camps. Innocent Palestinian men are rounded up like animals to face inquisition and detension. It is truely ironic that this Jewish nation would mirror the methods used by the Nazi's sixty years ago.

The bottom line is that when one looks at history, it quickly becomes obvious that in a just world, Isreal has no right to exist. Isrealis live on conquered land, given to them by western support and military technology.

This remains the case today. Can anyone blame the arab world for being a little ticked off when they see US made weapons murdering fellow Muslims without descimination every day?

I like your argument, Allen, but I'll be the first to disagree with one element. Technically, Israel's right to exist is unquestionable, just as I feel Palestine's right to exist is as well. They both are allowed to exist by inference of mass association. Frankly, if thirty million Americans announced this afternoon that according to countless amounts of historical text which can neither be proven nor disproved that they are children of The Great Pumpkin and that the region we now know as Wyoming should be declared "The Pumpkin Patch," then I doubt there would be agreement that those people with their hopes and dreams and flags with little Linuses on them don't have the "right to exist." It's just an issue of whether or not we give them Wyoming. That was the strangest thing I have ever said in my life.

But I digress- they all have the right to exist, but what I think you mean is what I believe, that being the state of Israel does not have the right to specifically exist anywhere they please, nor do they have the right to exist in their own view of security that requires neutralizing several hundred people in the course of a week. As Michael Moore once said, it would have been a lot easier if right after World War II we gave the Jews Bavaria. Then there wouldn't be Mideast tension, the Arabs could form any map they wanted, and the former Nazis would get to make the fucking desert bloom instead of being "punished" by being allowed to keep the most valuable land on the goddamn continent.

New fan (I hope) Diamond LeGrande has provided a link to Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace organization. I'm still looking at the site, but I think so far it's legit- that is to say it's not a fake (and violently racist) pro-Palestine organization that I have been given way to many references to. Diamond has also-

I'm very sorry. I need to interrupt myself again. Diamond, I am so very sorry for the fact that so many people have probably told you this already, but I can't go without saying that you have quite possibly the greatest porn star name I have ever seen. I do not even know if you are a man or a woman, and it just doesn't matter. You should be proud of telling it to people in clubs, because man, saying a name like that just oozes an aura of someone who would be really, really good at any of the following: sex, racecar driving, professional golf, pit fighting, being an incredibly gorgeous 70's police detective who doesn't go by the book, and holding major political office in the South. I would KILL for a name like Diamond LeGrande.

Diamond has also provided one of the most useful links I have ever seen, even if, as I mention yet again, I am not 100% sure of it's accuracy. It's an interactive Flash movie of the alleged "95% of the West Bank" offer, and how apparently it's the biggest rumor spin of the entire conflict. Definitely worth a look at.

And on a closing note,

This came from my good friend Bjorn (who, proving once again that the world is much smaller than we think, is a former co-worker from my Flash design job last summer) who has provided the long sought-after, final clinching piece of the puzzle that we began last week about male-female interaction in dance clubs:

I am rather uninterested in the whole tight-ass-pants issue. Sure, not 'gettin any' is a problem, and worth doing something about. It's just that (and these are my humble 2 cents) I would prefer to see your blog (and that because It's one that I actually read) stay on the important issues.

And there we have it. Bjorn solves my problems once again. Bjorn, just so you know, is incredibly smart, and I believe it's because he did not go to school in this country. So go play with the fun toys on his site.
 

   

 
Newest comic posted - "I Like to Waste Insane Amounts of Money, Too!"

Sort of a local issue, but I mentioned it earlier in the week: apparently some rich people decided to donate $13.5 million to the NYU library fund... and the library has decided the best way to improve the library with the money would be to build a coffee shop.
 

   

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

 
Agar (the Horrible- films that is)

I have just found out that John Agar, the star of just about every other movie to ever be reviewed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (aka The Greatest Television Show in the History of the Universe,) has passed away. From The Satellite News:

John Agar, who first became famous for marrying former child star Shirley Temple, and who later became a film star in his own right, died here April 7th of emphysema. He was 81. MSTies will recall his performances as stalwart space hero Doc Farrell in episode 104- WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET, as determined ichthyologist Dr. Clete Ferguson in episode 801-REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and as bombastic archeologist Dr. Roger Bentley in episode 803-THE MOLE PEOPLE.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, the studio began casting him in the newly popular science fiction genre: "Revenge of the Creature" and "Tarantula," (both 1955) were very successful at the box office. But Agar soon found himself trapped in the B-movie world. For the next 15 years he worked steadily in both westerns--films such as "Flesh and the Spur" (1957), "Frontier Gun" (1958), "Stage to Thunder Rock" (1964), and "Johnny Reno" (1966)--and science fiction--films such as "Brain from Planet Arous" (1957), "Invisible Invaders" (1959), "Hand of Death" (1962) and "Zontar the Thing from Venus (1966).

It's a shame, folks. People just don't make bad films they way they used to. Now films are laughably bad- they just suck. You can't make fun of all the teen movie garbage that comes out every four months, or whatever baseball-related film Kevin Costner just made, because they just suck. But back in the day you could pop in a copy of Manos, the Hands of Fate (okay, understood that technically VCRs didn't exist yet) and just enjoy the moment with friends as you brutally tear a director's dream apart simply because he made the mistake of thinking he knew how to direct.

Now we have Harry Knowles and his army of 13-year olds who are like a little Free Republic for the Star Wars crowd who think that just because there's a lot of them and they all know how to use a message board they'll reshape the format of the world. It's not that I hate them or even dislike them; I'm a big fan of Harry Knowles... it's just... come one, people! Nitpick bad movies, not all of them!

I don't know, maybe I'm just pissed MST3K was cancelled in the first place. But I figured I should whine about something other than the Middle East and the nature of romance in this city, both of which I am discovering are becomming a lot more dangerous with no peaceful end in sight.
 

   

 
Lets talk good website talk

On the whole, I'm trying to avoid turning this into a mixture of reposting others' comments and mentions of websites. That said, I should point out that I post others' comments and mentions of websites for one significant reason: they are very, very good.

Such is the case when readers like Matt Weiland alert me that the United States has once again slipped in the evolutionary scale because a professional baseball player's used chewing gum is now officially a collectible commodity.

Nor do I know what to say when presented with The Norton Anthology, which is quite possibly one of the most weirdly brilliant web sites in existence. A combination of unique oddities from the print media, as well as the most though-provoking gallery of painted artwork I have ever seen. I swear, I'm just looking at some of these and it makes my brain work so hard I start to lose function in my nervous system.

But this is one that touches me personally. Only a week ago I was not known by anyone until I made a fan in the great Tom Tomorrow, for whom I hope our friendship can only get better. (Especially since I turn 21 in two months and he sounds like a guy who knows where all the cool stuff in NYC is. But I digress)

So now I feel obligated to point out people who should get just as much credit as, and in this case, much more than, me. I point you to Ms. Mikhaela Blake Reid, who in addition to being a brilliant cartoonist and writer, is getting screwed over by editors at the Harvard Crimson who apparently want to make it as difficult as possible for her to actually get her cartoons published and recognized in the mainstream.

Apparently these attempts include demanding multiple sources for any fact she references in her comics, making her complete legal hurdles not required of any other columnist- or even any other cartoonist- at her paper, and not allowing her to put her e-mail address or web site link in her cartoons because it would be "unfair to people who have to pay for advertisements." I will remind you again that this is coming from the alleged best and smartest college in the United States.

So I'm thinking a really nice way to piss off a bunch of pompous jerks in the Ivy League would be to go visit her site and let Harvard know she has some fans. Whaddaya say?
 

   

Monday, April 08, 2002

 
And on a lighter note, here's an interesting story about a different territorial dispute: mining rights for kitty litter. This comes from the good folks at getdonkey.com, who I promise have even more interesting stuff to read that's actually important to know about.

Also, happy birthday, Tom. Assume I sent a card, and assume I meant to send it Friday, but was delayed because I couldn't decide whether to address it to "Tom" or "Dan." That and I don't have your mailing address.
 

   

 
Let's talk about the Middle East, Pt. 4

Before I get to the main topic, I should just mention that Saddam Hussein is now practically a goddamn hero to every single person in Iraq because of the logical actions of the United States in dealing with Israeli military policy. Way to motivate regime change there, guys.

I'm going to talk about spin in regards to the West bank crisis, because I'm still seething with anger from some of the rhetoric that has been on the TV and directly in my face for the last few days. And here in the city, it's not gonna get any better, because now apparently there's going to be a new New York City paper that will allegedly be even more right-wing than the New York Post, if that is, in fact, morally possible.

I'm sorry if this is going to sound biased, but most of what you're about to read is going to be critical of Israel. That doesn't mean it condones anything the Palestinians are doing, but right now the issue is the anti-Arab movement (which is not necessarily Israeli) and their immense over-indulgence in racism and stereotyping.

To those who support Israel- I hope you realize I both understand and respect your general position, just not the way it's currently being implemented. If anything, I hope you listen to me so that you become more credible in your argument by avoiding useless hyperbole like this.

So let's go down the list of things that do not give you credibility when trying to convince someone Israel is justified:

Touting your history of military supremacy. Primarily, the idea that those who support a free Palestine will somehow be more inclined to change that view when you tell them that the Palestinians should just get over the fact that "they went to war with Israel and lost four times." This is usually followed by the rationale that "What's wrong with Israel keeping the land is seized as spoils of war?" and then if allowed to continue sinks into such tokens as "Maybe we should just give the Indians their land back, too, shouldn't we?"

Well, to be honest, we probably should give the Indians their land back. Unfortunately, we happened to kill almost all of them. As I mentioned before, this is a valid option for Israel- simply liquidating anyone who claims Palestinian ancestry. That doesn't mean it's a good choice, or for that matter one that wasn't attempted in the mid-40's. I should point out that whenever someone makes this analogy, they always seem to use the Indians as an example, and not, say, South America, of which after the US invaded we did in fact return major portions of the land we seized. Or, for another example, Germany, which the United States and Russia chose not to return to its citizens, and as a result led to fifty years of unbridled peace and harmony throughout the world.

Furthermore, the entire UN Resolution 242 issue comes into place, which indicates that no country can assume land through force. You might have remembered that little war in the Persian Gulf we fought to explain this to Saddam Hussein, a man who I have not yet seen one supporter of Israel say was just in being allowed to keep Kuwait as the spoils of invasion.

Finally, you should weigh the factor that many of these military victories are a result of a military well-funded by another country, which really, really pisses everyone off.

Price-checking a pound of flesh. Would someone tell me when it came to be that one human life has a higher value than another? The terrorists' views can easily be recognized- "all Jews are the enemy, the state of Israel must be destroyed-" and passed off as fanatical. Yet those who support the current military incursions claim justification in saying "Arabs target innocent women and children, at least the Israelis only kill civilians by accident- there just killing the terrorists" as if that makes it okay!

First of all, to be horrifically morbid, these are terrorists. Their goal is to kill as many people as possible. Why are you questioning the logic in a terrorist action of attacking the unarmed? That seems to be the only thing that makes sense in this conflict- attack the people who can't hurt you back. I mean, it's what the U.S. did when we decided the enemy was Afghanistan and not Saudi Arabia- Saudi Arabia has a huge army and the ability to financially cripple us- no way we're going to "only kill by accident when aiming at terrorists" a few thousand of their civilians!

The reason the Palestinians are becoming terrorists, and the reason they are filled with hatred towards Israel, is because Israel is doing this constant action of placing the value of an Israeli life over the value of an Arab one. Do you know what a different way to say "one life more valuable than another" is? "We're a better people than you." That's why almost every Arab nation equates Zionism with racism. And this valuing of life like a stock market commodity brings me to the next pointless point:

Declaring yourself an expert on Arab morality. What is the first declared aspect of the terrorists? "They're animals." "They're sick, sub-human beings." "They have no respect for human life." This is not just wrong, but a dangerous assumption for the Israeli army to make.

This idea goes hand in hand with the so-there statement that "terrorists are cowards." No, they are not. They are twisted, angry, intensely calculating individuals. The reason a terrorist wants to destroy human life is not because he doesn't value it at all; it's because he is more aware than anyone that it's the most precious commodity in the world. The Palestinians on the whole have a profound respect for human life- it's just that they have an even more profound respect for death. Any time the news reports that a bomber has "struck," there is a mix of sadness over the death of a loved one and celebration of the bomber's martyrdom.

During World War II, the desperate actions of the kamikazes were perceived as the highest honor in death- the willingness to sacrifice themselves for the honor of their people. This was not degrading human life- to them this was honoring it to an even higher level. Yet the Japanese knew that this would not turn the tide of the war, just as the terrorists know that these attacks will not destroy Israel- but they will motivate an even larger group of people to think that choosing death over loss would be honorable. This makes it about pride- and restoring a pride that is lost when you, for example, say stupid things like how you kicked their ass with U.S.-funded military equipment four times.

A child dreaming of becoming a martyr is sick to our perspective because we live in a country where that child can become something else. there are no Palestinian children right now dreaming of becoming doctors, or rock stars, or the president- they don't have a country to become president of yet! Children become encouraged because they see only the small world around them- one in which they can either grow old being harassed by border security, deprived of basic human rights, and suffer in subjugation- or die in the process of destroying those who they blame for making them suffer. The fastest way to stop people from killing themselves is to give them something worth living for.

The Israeli military incursion is working- after all, there haven't been any suicide bombings since the tanks started firing. First of all, this is wrong in itself- Arabs in both the West Bank and Lebanon are still using suicide attacks at close range- except no count of attacks and casualties can be properly made because Israel has blocked the media (which in itself is not a very good PR move.) But assuming that you mean no attacks have been made inside Israel proper, this is still a moot point- after Clinton ordered the Middle East bombed in 1998 following the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, there weren't any suicide attacks following that.. Except a year later when they destroyed a battleship and two years after that when they destroyed the World Trade Center.

Israel can invade the entire West Bank, install "sympathetic governors," kill Arafat, whatever. For now, that might stop the bombings. But they're going to be back in little while after that, simply because there's a lot of Arab nations funding them with a lot of money given to them by the U.S. for oil.
 

   

 
I'm walking back from my Internship fair today (note to animation studios: NY-based cartoonist looking to work for you for FREE. Think about it) and the Main Building is surrounded by two large groups being held across the street from each other by armed guards. Yes, it's a bright and sunny Monday on the NYU campus, and what better way to spend it that strolling down to Washington Square East and watch the Holy War of Words continue.

Long story short: both the pro-Israel and pro-Palestine students took their turns saying and handing pamhlets with sayings to me that on the whole insult both me and the intelligence of this university. Unfortunately, speaking of intelligence, I have to go to a Cinema Studies class for my weekly nap, which means you'll have to check back in a few hours for when I write another long rant about the West Bank. Stay tuned, and keep yourself occupied with the nuclear blast calculator in my previous post. I never knew just one bomb could waste the entire state of Rhode Island. Now you know.
 

   
 
Watch what happens to Hooper's Store when we aim this mother at Sesame Street.

As we all know, PBS has a long tradition of shaping our nation's well-being- one of the last bastions of rational, calming thought. Public funding, an attempt at freedom from corporate bias or control, and a general position on avoiding the use of American media as a tool to manipulate the emotions and calm of the decent hard-working people of the Republic.

So here's a link to a feature on their site which shows how many of your best friends will die if a nuclear weapon is launched directly at your home. Remember, if you get vaporized within the 12-psi radius, you'll get a complimentary tote bag.
 

   

Sunday, April 07, 2002

 
The great debate rages on

And I thought talking risqué about the Middle East would cause a crisis. Well, it's been a few days and I've got an accurate sampling of both the male and female points of view on the "hitting on women in clubs" issue, and I've reached the conclusion that we are never going to agree on anything.

The only thing I've established here is that there's a lot of people who are very delusional, and a lot of people who aren't giving themselves enough credit. Which means maybe they need to start doing the opposite of what they usually do in clubs.

For example, the comments of Mandy Brown, who sent me a message addressed to Sam, the guy who's letter started this all:

Before I go off on you entirely, let me say that you're probably not entirely wrong. There are women who want to engage in semi-sexual acts with random strangers. That's fine. But most of us already know what we want, and in reality, it probably isn't you.

When I go to a club, it is to dance. And I might wear tight pants, or a short skirt. Do you expect me to go in some polyester tub just because I might not feel like being grinded by some forty year old man? I like to look good, I like to talk to people, and if I get to know them, I might just show them a wild side. Trust me-- it is much sexier to come buy me a drink and ask me what I think about Bush's foriegn policy that it is to grind my ass while I'm dancing. The latter is rather parasitic.

For the last time: what a woman wears is not an appropriate indication of what she wants from you. A rape of a woman in a short skirt is rape. There is no other way around it. If she doesn't want to show her tits, that's all there is to it. Leave it at that. So all I'm asking here is that you do a little more listening and a little less coercing. Let us make the decisions.

Because you wouldn't want to make me angry.

Just to stray off topic, I would like to point out that this is an e-mail, from a girl who apparently dresses rather sexy and loves to dance, sometimes even with guys, who finds knowledge of politics sexy. Mandy- you are cordially invited to the NYU campus to watch the grand spectacle that will be several hundred men fighting each other with their bare hands over you.

Nicole Boury is very honest, and doesn't even give guys the chance that Mandy has:

I look sexy because I always look sexy, not because I want some bum feeling me up.

When I go out with my girls, I'm out with my girls; I don't want to talk to some drunken sleeze at the bar who's just looking for ass. I love to have a little fun now and then, but I'd like to at least see what he looks like in daylight first, thanks.

I hope you look for some sign of interest before you head in, cuz right now I'm picturing the SNL Roxbury guys.

Nicole, you appear to be in the majority of opinions, you expressed it the most fluidly. When you mention "your girls" I assume it means you go out with a group of other lovely ladied. my only suggestion would be a "group guy-" i.e. a male designated for the sole purpose of being in your group to scare other guys away. Seriously girls- I've seen this in action. Half the time, even if ten girls are with one guy, not a single guy will come up to them. The other half of the time, if a guy is with two girls, ten guys will try to see if they can get whichever girl they think the first guy's not with. If this happens, it means you need to leave because you're in a club filled with horny pricks.

My next opinion came, apparently, from a guy in Australia named Mik, which has now led me to a bias about the place in that all men from Australia are either 1. So confident with their social prowess as a result of what must be the largest concentration of scantily-clad attractive tanned women with sexy accents that they can talk about sex as casually as this, or 2. delusional from being in the sun way too long. Let's hope he starts with a calm rationale of his personal experience...

So you're trying to figure out women. I remember sweating it out, trying to do exactly the same thing, and then I found the secret. I'm going to share it with you, and you can post it to your blog too if you like, not just as a gift to all heterosexual men, but also as a gift to the women who have to put up with them.

Hi, it's me again. Sorry to interrupt, but wow. I'm just a college student cartoonist, and I have apparently attracted Zoltan, chief overseer of an alien race who knows all and sees all about uman emotions. Okay, I'm just joking with you, Mik, but Jesus Christ, do you introduce yourself at any social event by saying "Hi, I'm Mik. I'd like to give you the gift of true sexual knowledge." Okay, back to your gift.

Women are people.

Simple, isn't it. Okay, so it sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but it seems that most men caught up in mainstream society overlook this fact. Once I woke up and realised this, it became much easier to "understand women", so much so that today I have sex with more women than I know what to do with, and, more importantly, interacting with them personally and professionally is much more fulfilling and a lot less complicated. (I'm not kidding about the "more than I know what to do with" thing, either; sometimes I feel like I'm getting /too much/ sex, which ten years ago I didn't think was even possible!)

.Since women are people, it means they'd think the same way us men would, if women and men went through the same social conditioning bullshit. Since they didn't, us men need to try to understand what it might have been like for us if we were, say, treated like we're worthless if we kissed too many people in high school, or if we were assumed to be ignorant when it comes to sport or science because of our gender. It helps if we also take a look at what conditions us men into behaving the way we do. Even the more enlightened amongst us, who have grown out of all that macho bullshit, might still be acting a certain way "because we're a man". It pays to observe this, and explore whether there may be better ways of doing things. This might leave us open to being accused of not being "a real man", but my experience has shown me that the kind of people who give other people shit for not following gender stereotypes usually have more than their fair share of insecurities, and probably don't get laid enough anyhow.

Mik is now my best friend.

.Okay, so suddenly this "women are people" concept is no longer a sure-fire way to get laid next time you go out. Well, I never said it would be. However, you're much more likely to come across as somebody who respects women if you understand that they're people. And if you come across as somebody who respects women, then hell, you're already doing better than most of the rest of the bar full of dickheads who are trying to come up with some sleazy sure-fire pick-up line. But I'm not writing about how to pick up women or even how to strike up a conversation with them; I'm writing about how to understand them. (The respect thing definitely does help picking up, though, and so does being yourself. Other than that, I don't know; I've never been that good at picking up in bars. All the sex I mentioned above is largely because I mix in social circles where casual sex is seen as a positive thing. I haven't had any trouble finding such circles in my home cities of Sydney and San Francisco; I doubt that they'd be hard to find in New York, either. But casual sex eventually becomes rather ho-hum if you don't have some more fulfilling relationships as well. I'm serious!)

See, Mik seems to be on the level. Except for my alleged ease in entering "casual sex circles." I keep missing those meetings, apparently.

Our friend Sam Geer suggested that a woman who wears tight pants in a bar might enjoy a guy rubbing his crotch against her arse if he isn't "too crude of a lout". Sam probably isn't talking about some complete stranger in a crowd, though; he's probably talking about a guy that she's at least exchanged a few words with, or made eye contact with, and given some sign that making physical contact is okay. I've never been much good with hints, so I prefer to actually /ask/ women if it's okay to touch, after I've picked up on the vibe that she's at least interested in talking or dancing with me. Asking takes its toll on that smoothness glorified in Hollywood, but I've never met a woman who hasn't really appreciated being asked directly, and getting a sincere "yes" makes /me/ feel better because I know I'm not going to stumble across anybody's boundaries and make them feel icky or uncomfortable.

Well, most of that makes a world of sense to me. Mik is wise. I think guys should try to at least consider some of Mik's advice. He seems to be confident in what he's talking about. Also, he sounds like someone who is apparently getting way more sex than I am, so who the hell am I to argue about this? Plus, he's a sensitive man to use the words "arse" and "icky" in the same paragraph.

And to round it out, new fan and reader Kjersti Kyle sent me another massage the other day, and she's actually in defense of Sam. Which is great to round out the debate, but horrible in terms of me thinking there's a consensus about anything.

Sam is right. What women want is attention. Why else would we be lifting our apparel for cheap beads at Mardi Gras? The only value comes from the daring it takes to earn them, and America has enough sexual taboos that some socially sanctioned nakedness is a good thing. Should we all be so embarrassed by our bodies? Showing skin and getting praise for it feels good. No woman wants to feel unattractive, and if her sex-life has been idling, someone asking to see her tits or dry-humping her on a dance floor... well, so long as she knows what she is doing. Not every woman wants this, but going to a club in tight pants, a girl's pretty safe with everyone around her and her DD sober to take her home. Exposing her breasts from a camera, if she knows the photo will be published it's her choice (Bonus points if they will take it down should she request it at a later date). And asking women on the street for breast pictures? The photographer is going to get normal women. Certainly a bias toward whatever the man thinks of as sexy, but not super models.

Which brings us to the other point. Super models and runway fashion are somewhere between a bizarre from of art and exploitation. Whether men expect their girlfriends and wives to have plastic-perfect design or not, a great many women are sexually intimidated by such idealification of the female form. Is that the model's fault? Is she being exploited? No, and not necessarily. Genetics or environment, it is nobodies fault if they are naturally sexy. Modeling is a job, like any other, where you take advantage of your assets and receive compensation for services rendered (hell, even prostitute is a choice - rape is not). So the women being exploited are not the models, but those whose self-esteem is being destroyed so that they will buy X product, to compete sexually with someone more physically advantaged, but so rare that she is merely an illusionary adversary for sexual partners. Comparatively, any normal woman showing off her tits and ass is a liberating celebration of female sexuality. Still, it all comes down to one this - encouragement, in the right social circumstance is good; coercion and force are unethical, immoral, and punishable by law.

So our conclusions for the day: don't be assholes. Don't break the law. Don't assume girls like you. Don't assume guys like you. And if you're really in a rut, move down to Australia and ask for Mik.
 

   

Saturday, April 06, 2002

 
If you can't get the comics, it might be because the server they are located on sucks. Hopefully they will be back up soon. I am currently debating switching site hosts anyway, because recently I have needed a lot more bandwidth... which in reality makes me feel awesome.

Update: everything seems to be working now. In addition, I would like to announce that apparently my site has come up in a Google search for the terms "tight + pants + asses." I'm so very, very proud. No, I will NOT provide a link to that.
 

   

Friday, April 05, 2002

 
Well this is just utterly sad

In a move that just makes anyone who's ever voted want to finally refuse to ever participate in politics ever again and just curl up into a little ball and die, but just as soon as they firebomb the entire state of Florida first, Jeb Bush has filed to legally trademark his own name in an effort to prevent people from using it in campaigns in manners against his wishes. The irony, of course, is that he's doing to prevent hard-core Republicans from abusing his name in attacks on Janet Reno.

So, the sum up, the governor of Florida is trying to become "Jeb Bush, TM" because there's too many pyschotic people in Florida. Anyone else think he's one of them?

(Thanks to Alex Davy for some fact-checking)
 

   

 
"Those Crazy Women"

Well, despite all the stuff I got from you guys about the Middle East, it's a completely different topic I started that got my first response ever where I have no idea what position to take on because of the ramifications of taking any possible position on it. So I think I might just have to put it out here.

From reader Sam Geer, with the subject line "Those Crazy Women:"

...The reason that I am writing is that there were a number of ideas that you expressed in your rant about women that I disagreed with. Mostly I have to question your statement that women do not enjoy being the target of anonymous sexual advances or pleas. Granted, there are a lot of stupid people out there who make crude and unwelcome actions toward women. But I would contend that there is a fine art to getting women to do things that they normally wouldn't do, and making it enjoyable for both parties...

I feel sort of like the reason that single women often go to clubs wearing tight pants is to have guys grind their crotches against their asses. In my experience as long as you aren't too crude of a lout many women find that sort of behavior to be quite stimulating. This is all leading up to a little theory that I have. Here it goes, Women are a bunch of perverted wierdos just like men are but they often require a graceful nudge(and maybe a little booze) in order to release these bizzare and sexy flipsides. Therefore, I regard it as a noble aspiration to help all women get freaky and reveal their breasts(to myself and others) as often as possible. This isn't about objectifying women or making them feel insecure about their bodies, it's about transforming the boring workaday world of clothes, into the fun, exciting sexual adventure life should be.

I should also note that I am not implying that men should coerce women into doing things that they don't want to do. I am advocating a stance of heightened awareness towards what women really want, not to be left alone. Tits are completely harmless, what possible damage can a set of tits do? If a man can get a woman to take her shirt off with a big grin on her face he is doing the whole world a service.

Sam, either you're a genius or I'm about to get a lot of feedback from some ladies in disagreement. More as this develops.
 

   

Thursday, April 04, 2002

 
Lets talk about the Middle East, pt. 3

From Liebchen:

I saw your commentary regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and agree with you 99%. My only disagreement with you is your statement that the comment, "Barak offered 90% of the West Bank to Arafat and Arafat walked" is not productive.

The reason that this statement is relevant is that it sheds light on the dynamic of what is transpiring. It also sheds light on the sincerity of the claims flying back and forth. To wit:

The Palestinians state that all they want is land and dignity. The offer in 2000 provided them with a chance for more land and dignity than the rest of the Arab world has offered them in 50 years. The fact that this offer was spurned and the current intifada was immediately commenced is extremely telling.

This was the item in my list that most of you have questioned me on, as among all if them it's the one that bears the most truth. The problem with using this statement in the debate is that although it's true, it's looked at immensely out of context.

I dislike this argument because it is always used in a sense to deem Arafat as one who does not want to actually make peace- which although true, should not be credited to this comment. Other factors that must be looked at include if this was actually possible and who actually proposed it- they are both linked by Ehud Barak.

Barak, not Sharon, was the one who made the offer, and following the failed peace accord Barak was voted out of office by the Israeli people who favored Sharon- a candidate who made part of his platform a promise to not ever offer something as generous as Barak just did at the time. In the eyes of the Palestinians, the people of Israel overwhelmingly supporting a candidate who openly refused to accept Barak's peace deal didn't seem to make the offer look like a very convincing one. (Yes, I know, Arafat not trusting Israel to keep its word. Pot, have you met my friend Kettle?)

Add this to the fact that Barak's offer intended to close the deal for good without any recourse for a single refugee, and it doesn't look as much like all of the Arab problems being solved as we used to think.

But above all that, you have answered your own question, Liebchen: the want for land and dignity. To Arafat and most of the Palestinians, Israel accepting the pre-1976 borders is their minimum for dignity. For many, it is the only way they can believe Israel has accepted what they have done is "wrong."

Sharon's almost deliberate provocation of Arafat, not to mention past history, caused the talks to fall flat as well, something reader Daniel Majoros pointed out:

.during the 2000 Camp David meeting, Israel offered the Palestinians back much of the land, but not the settlements, meaning that instead of having a contiguous nation, there would be a series of four--I think--regions surrounded by Israel. Palestinians would need to have permission from Israel to travel from one section to the next. Oh, and Israel would retain rights to the airspace and the water resources in the areas. Both sides are unwilling to share Jerusalem supposedly for religious reasons, but I'm thinking it has a lot to do with the tourist dollars the city generates. This is why the Palestinians walked, because it was a crappy deal, not for fear of looking weak to their people.

Sharon is considered (by some) as a war criminal for his actions during the Lebanon invasion. In fact, his own government investigated him and found him indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli refugee camps and he was removed from office. And I don't care what ANYONE says, he holds a great deal of responsibility for creating this latest round of violence. It did not begin with the collapse of the peace talks (which occurred in July 2000, I think), but started with Sharon's ill-advised September trip to the al-Aqsa mosque during a Muslim holy time. The Israeli government begged him not to go, knowing it would cause problems. He insisted and had Israeli soldiers with him for protection. Children, who threw rocks at him, were shot dead by the soldiers.

And for a final note of reader suggestions about the best deal to give Arafat, we turn to Carl Ellison:

.I'm tempted to say the only solution is to give the Palestinians nukes.

I'm not even going to touch that one.
 

   

 
A Good Day in the Very Local News

The WSN printed my comic a day late, but I didn't mind this week because it allowed me to be part of the coolest opinion page I think I've ever seen at the paper. In addition to my comic, it contained articles by, as I mentioned in a previous strip, the two hottest members of the WSN staff- Marissa Moss and, of course, Steve Luber.

Moss has a great column about why it's a bad thing that a chunk of ice the size of a state has just disappeared (something our president doesn't seem to have a problem with at all,) while Steve has penned one of the most brilliant and poingnant articles of our time, and something that addresses one of our most important national crisises- Bill O'Reilly needs to shut the hell up. Go tell Steve he rocks our world.

And to close it out, yet another letter to the editor chastising one of our columnists for participating in this week's political activity of choice- criticizing Michael Moore without reading any of his material.
 

   

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

 
Ahhh... linking.

A studious reader explained to me that the cause of my site being linked to from the web page of a Japanee rock band was most likely a mistke via a form of web search engine. I am recollecting the list of weird searches that led people to sites of my friends, but just as an example you can take a look at Fireballs and Tsunami, who has a list of all the hilarious bad ways Google can screw up. Also, she's a fellow NYU Film student and appears to be rather cute. I'm shameless. Absolutely shameless.

Speaking of links, I also appear to have risen in the ranks of the PlanetCartoonist Top 100 Editorial Cartoonists. Only 1,400 more different people have to click on the link to the left and I can actually have a banner on the list. Wouldn't it be great for the top-rated cartoonist in the country to be a college student who's never been paid for his work? Hey, here's what would even be better: me getting paid for my work. Oh well.
 

   

 
On Nature, but in No Way on Emerson's Level

Here's something amusing I saw today: for those of you who live in New York City, you might have been as confused as I was about the sudden mysterious rain storm that decided to occur for a random hour or so in the middle of a sunny, cloudless, perfect 67-degree day.

Apparently, no one was more confused than the street team of the 102.7 "WOW" van, who were very annoyed about the rain clearing the park during the Opie & Anthony show.

For those of you not in the know, here's a quick rundown - Opie and Anthony are two DJs with a syndicated show. They are rather funny and have some really good stuff. They are also responsible for making Stephen Lynch famous, which in itself gives them a chance to be canonized. However, one of the activities they came up with a few years ago was WOW- which stands for Whip 'em Out Wednesday. Which means. exactly. They go around and convince girls to expose their breasts to them, so they can photograph them and put them online or other wonderful things guys in their late 20's who are paid to act like the "typical" late 20's white male so Infinity Broadcasting can continue their quest to own the entire radio market and streamline their mission to mold the entire youth population into a single easily-manageable demographic.

And I found it very amusing that Big Momma Nature told them to go fuck themselves for the day.

Now, let me make this clear: this isn't about women taking their tops off. I. just a second.

Mom. Stop reading this. now.

.this isn't about women taking their tops off. I enjoy a girl taking her top off for me like any other living organism that enjoys looking at female breasts. I'm the last person to start a debate about how men should act, because I live in a Freshman dorm and want to have sex with about half of it every time I go down to the cafeteria.

The issue to me is about stupidity. And guys getting stupider because they think all girls want to do is take their tops off is what's crippling this goddamn society. Why are clubs not fun to go to? I've said this in previous posts- stupid people: usually a combination of men who think any single girl who shows up in tight pants wants her ass pulled into his crotch, and those girls who decided to get really drunk and act out sexually by pretending that they'd actually want to fuck anyone in the building if they didn't have 36 ounces of ethanol sloshing around their stomachs.

Why are girls made insecure, depressed, and susceptible to the biggest increase in eating disorders in this country in the last decade? Because of stupid men who go around screaming at them on the first goddamn sunny day of spring that they as men somehow deserve for all women they deem attractive to strip for them.

This notion of somehow tricking women into sexual acts has always confused me. It's part of an argument I had with friends once about going to strip clubs. I don't have a problem with strippers. If I was getting a lap dance, I would get aroused like any other heterosexual male. But I don't ever have a desire to go to one because I can't get past this concept: you are paying a woman to pretend she wants to fuck you, during a time in which you can be trying to improve yourself so that a woman will actually want to fuck you.

So yeah, I'm not really that sensitive or in tune with my feminine side. Just smart enough to know that guys who complain about their crap all day should respect the crap women have to deal with and stop giving them more. Leave the girls alone, people. If you want them to get naked for you, either go up to them and talk or be like most of us and look at them whenever you think they can't see you doing it.

I'm currently fine with the deal we have now, folks. Men, myself included, are going to stare at anything they find attractive because guys on the whole want to fuck anything they find attractive, and women are just going to have to accept that. Women are just going to have to deal with the fact that if they're beautiful, people are going to notice that. But on the plus side, you can get them to do pretty much anything you want, and if they decide not to, by then all the overly aggressive ones will just go get killed in a war.
 

   

 
Every Time I Try to Get Out...

Remember the Mr. Sparkle episode of The Simpsons?

Check this one out.

I don't know if I ever want to by electronic products again. Maybe it's an ad for the weather machine that obviously was activated today whcih would explain why it's 65 degrees and sunny outside, and then for no reason, it rained for five minutes in the middle of my lunch break. That doesn't seem fair at all.
 

   

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

 
Let's tie up a few loose ends.

Japan Answers Back

Thanks to all the fans who wrote me to let me know that Shonen Knife is an all-female Japanese rock band, most noted in the States for a "Groovie" music short on Cartoon Network involving the Powerpuff Girls. The images I posted, by the way, say "I can really fish!" and "I'd like to put a mark here on the tower." which like I said, doesn't ease my terrorist threat theory. But I digress. (They mean their band's logo- calm down, John) Thank you to Mike, Garrett, Kathryn, Donald, and Jordan, and anyone else I might have missed. Special note to Jon: due to previous favors done unto me by the nation of France, I'm afraid you may have to find someone else to aid in your quest for its destruction.

Let's talk about the Middle East, pt. 2

Wade Naveja has alerted me to a news source, and apparently a blog/diary from inside the West Bank. I'm looking at bits and pieces of it, and it seems a good read. I think it's important to get the viewpoints of citizens who openly admit to a lack of military involvement in this. If anyone thinks there's a overbearing bias in this site, let me know, but compared to the common rhetoric, the only siding with Palestine I see on this one has a pretty damn good excuse given the writer.

Dean Riddlebarger has a good comment that I'll post here:

Without turning this note into a minor term paper, I would be inclined to make one modification with respect to your fourth point. Suffice it to say that I offer this change after several years of listening to a bevy of friends who are of both Jewish and Muslim backgrounds:

"The crisis, and the violence, will never end, in any way, because both sides firmly believe they have a claim to the Trans-Jordan lands west of the river, and said claims go back literally thousands of years."

You've got a point, Dean- claim to land is one of the issues that I think needs to be addressed- sadly, it's used most often with the claim that Palestinians "don't exist."

Unfortunately, we're dealing with a strip of land in which the title deeds are found in the most re-written and misinterpreted public document in human history. God appears to be the only person who was there at the time of the lease signing, and I think His opinion on this doesn't need to be questioned.

Comments and Fan Mail

Once again, I am thanking everyone for the most interesting and exciting week of my life. And I am painfully upset that I cannot answer all of you as I used to be able to when. well, when only one person wrote me every three months. I have received more mail in the last two days than I received for the whole of 2001, friends and family writing me included.

I have received loads of praise for the Mideast article. I have been complimented by dozens about the comic, which feels great. I have apparently been hit on by a girl or two, which is really great. (You had me at hello!)

PLEASE do not think if I don't reply that I didn't read your e-mail or that I don't appreciate whatever you said, even the ones that are critical. Especially the other bloggers: I am doing my best to acknowledge the many of you who link to me and told other people about me, and I am beyond grateful. I am, believe it or not, trying to make the time to look at all of your sites, all of which are really, really cool. Most of you have been blogging a lot longer than I have, so you deserve the credit for me even knowing blogger exists. I'm just trying to be a famous cartoonist... you guys are prolific writers.

And finally.

Just to make everyone happy. the newest comic's posted: "Why Halle can't Win." Come back soon and fall in love all over again.
 

   

 
Anyone here speak Japanese?

I was apparently linked to from the home page of Shonen Knife, who I can say only one thing about I can say are Japanese. The site is available in two versions: Japanese, which contains illegible Japanese characters, and English, which contains even more illegilble WebDings.

I can't for the life of me figure out where on this site I was linked to from, but even more so I'm now perplexed as to what the hell these people are all about. I mean, their main page contains a few English words in "Burning Farm" and "Knife Collector's Fan Club." What? I'm leaning on the idea that this is a band, because one page mentions some kind of track list. But i'm not sure, and I'm very worried that this picture is some kind of terrorist plan.

I mean no offense to the people in this site and those who made it, I'm just very, very, confused. If anyone out there speaks Japanese, please give me a hint as to what these people are doing. If you know what context they linked to me in, that would help as well. I may have just found a new favorite band. Or saved France.


 

   

 
No shit?

U.S. Warns Against Travelling to Israel.

But... but... what about Carnivale?
 

   
 
Ah, this is good, apparently we're (as in we the people of the U.S.) are going to do some quick economic tricks for a few days to avoid going into default on the debt... which means in simpler terms that we've actually reached the limit for how much the national debt can be.

Paul O'Neill, who- keeping in mind actually has a job and is paid to say this- has decided the best way to avoid this problem again would be to... you guessed it, folks... raise the ceiling for the national debt. He then intends to put the $750 billion advance all on black, because according to Alan Greenspan, "it's coming up, I can feel it."

You know, I'm not interested in touting the Clinton administation what with all of its monumental failures, but didn't somebody over there run a plan by all of us that would actually pay off the debt instead of increase it to a level in which we actually have run out of mnoey to borrow? This article makes it look like we're a month away from suggesting that we can solve the debt problem by "printing more money."
 

   

 
What a rush

Well, that closes out for me probably one of the best days of my life. As I said before, Sunday hosted five visitors to this humble site, and as we ring the closing bell the official total for Monday is 1,517 visitors. That's an increase of, as we art students say, a lot.

First of all, let me just say using cut and paste technology I am willing to write thank you 1,500 times. But I won't. I'm going to stop with all the glowing about how awesome this all was for me. I will just say that for the first time in my life, I've received more fan mail than I can answer in one day, including people asking for stickers, people adding insight to my views on the Mideast crisis, and a nice lady with a website that sells really pretty shiny things. I love shiny things. So forgive me if I can't send personal messages to everyone, but I'm trying. Andy- thank you. Brenda- hi there, and tell all your cute Southern friends to write to me too. Adrienne- sticker's on the way. Pinhas- you're completely right, and I think you've got a good set of arguing points there. Whew! I have gone mad with power. Riiiiiight.

I will give a special mention to epicurial's LiveJournal, because he linked to me whilst mentioning his favorite political cartoonists... and frankly, to be ranked by anyone among Tom Tomorrow, Ted Rall, Milt Prigee, and Clay Bennett as if I'm remotely worthy of being compared to them is the greatest compliment of my experience in cartooning.

To answer a lot of people's question, the reason I have this split insight on the Mideast is because NYU has an amazing concentration of all sides of that issue. The NYU campus is a little microcosm of the West Bank, complete with pro-Israel groups, pro-Arab groups, pro-Israeli-Arab groups, and anti-Citibank groups, who get involved in everything (As they should.) And like the Middle East itself, each group has it's own ideas, it's own insights, and its own way of unabashedly confronting each other in the most argumentative and unproductive ways possible. (Linking is fun!)

Right now I'm finishing an essay for class tomorrow on Deweyan pragmatist thought. Don't worry, I have no idea what it's all about either. But I am picking up a common thread that I mentioned a few days ago: our educational system does not reward its students for thinking the way it should.

I have valued every letter sent to me today from people who agreed with what I said, not just because of their agreement, but because most of them contained a little unique paragraph or two that added their viewpoints to this issue. And with any luck (okay, it's the Holy Land, we need a freaking miracle) something in the debate we've managed to create for ourselves will rub off on the rest of the world.

Whoever stays, whoever never comes here again, it's cool either way. I'm going to look for more stuff to write about in the morning, and then on Wednesday, the next comic comes out, as it will for the rest of the month until the big summer hiatus. (Not having a paper to print in usually delays the creation of the comic from May to August, go fig.)

Now go buy shiny things. And no, I'm not giving hints on the Page of Mystery.
 

   

Monday, April 01, 2002

 
Anyone remember the scene in Office Space where he goes up to the ATM and checks the account hoping to see a few hundred bucks added to the account and it reads out a deposit of like two hundred thousand dollars? Yeah, the guy's response was mine as well today:

Oh. Shit.

I have recieved 793 hits in the last three hours. This is slightly up from Sunday's previous record of 5. And I owe it all to Tom Tomorrow. I've been doing the comic for the school paper for three years now, but the blog is only eight weeks old, and this is simply amazing. I didn't think even this many people at school read the paper. And that's NYU- home of 50,000 undergrads. Who all hate to read for some reason.

I feel guilty that I'm famous for the day, especially when people who are much more talented and insightful than me have been doing this for a lot longer- case in point, my roomate Chris, who showed me what blogs are in the first place, and by that is somewhat responsible for me even having this.

Mainly I'm humbled and honored by the level of praise someone as influential as Tom Tomorrow has bestowed upon me: okay, I'm not going to reprint it, because 788 out of the 793 of you are here because you read his post already. So thank you, Tom, for already giving me more praise than any comic syndicate editor has done in the last three years. And thank you to the people who have e-mailed me to tell me that they approve of my opinions towards the West Bank conflict. I love the blog world: two weeks ago my top story was Hello Kitty sexual aids. Now I feel like bloggers have more political clout than the cast of Crossfire. Okay, granted, most bloggers already know they're more politically insightful than CNN. But again, I'm still new at this.

That said, I admit that come next week I won't see a lot of you again, but I don't mind that much. But for now, I'm using the opportunity I have to say a few things: please support your college newspaper. Please buy Tom's books. If you are a publisher or sydicate representative, please give me money so I can make books. And finally, for all you ladies... I'm single.

Yeeeeeah. That's right, baby. Georgie's looking at... oh yes... you.
 

   

 
Let's argue about the Middle East, pt. 1

Okay, I'm set on only one thing: everyone within about a hundred miles of Israel is out of their goddamn skull. The latest news from the holy land today is that Palestinian militants, so enraged, incensed, and above all paranoid, have executed 11 fellow Arabs fearing over accusations they were collaborating with Israel. Which means the Palestinian terrorist groups have now reached a higher apex of their evolution, going from attacking outposts to civilians, and now to their new official target: anything that moves.

Meanwhile, back in the self-proclaimed "civilized" country, Ariel Sharon has decided that it's just been way too long since Israel refused to listen to the United Nations- you know, those ungrateful wretches that are responsible for Sharon even having a country to run into the ground in the first place.

I had promised a while back to do a bit of an analysis on the Israel crisis, and I'll try to remember as many of my notes as I've accumulated in my head for the last few weeks. Here's basically the rundown of rigid points I've established in regards to this crisis:

1. Israel is, regardless of who you support or how you object, committing an act of war against the Palestinian Territories.

This is not necessarily a bad thing to some people; it is to me because of what I'll say in the next few points. But there are people who still refute the idea that what is happening right now is not "war." Folks- the massive mobilization of a national military and subsequent invasion of opposing soil, with intend to cripple the current power of the ruling government, is war. If the U.S. in 1943 declared that we "didn't want to kill Hitler, just contain him," we would still be declaring war against Germany.

2. Ariel Sharon is, without a doubt, screwed.

Sharon is not going to be Prime Minister for long. The argument that he should become harsher on the Palestinians to appease the right-wingers in his cabinet was as ridiculous an assumption as it was when Clinton tried to do it. Right-wingers are always going to vote for right-wingers, even if the ruling left-winger does right-wing acts. Sharon should realize that no matter what he does, Benyamin Netenyahu is going to take over, and instead focus on aiding the Israeli Infastructure.

3. The only person in the universe more screwed than Ariel Sharon is Yassir Arafat.

Arafat does not, cannot, and most likely will not ever have control over the military mentality of the Palestinian territory. Should he actually live to see statehood, his role as President will be a figurehead role, as a de facto physical threat will force him to fill his cabinet with the leaders of the militant groups that are carrying out the terror acts in his name. Much is said about Arafat's refusal to "rein in militants." Even if he could, which is as always in question, he couldn't. Few who vehemently despise Arafat recall that Arafat's former partner in a peace deal, Yitzhak Rabin, was executed not by Arab but by Israeli extremists- his own people- for conceding to the Arabs. And these were the people who opposed the killings, right? So can you even imagine how violent and bloodily Arafat would be executed if he announced that he will give in to the slightest Israeli demand?

This leads to the core problem: both sides are in control by two leaders who not only refuse to back down, but are both secretly in danger for their lives if they actually attempt to do so. Both seem to have no insight as to the internal desires of their people: case in point, as one conservative columnist pointed out the other day: when was the last time you heard Arafat mention what the economic structure of the future Palestinian state will be? What is its constitution? The education system? At no point has Arafat said anything about the existence of a Palestinian state beyond its very existence representing a defeat of the Israelis. Likewise, Sharon has not uttered a word of policy to the foreign press regarding anything other than the military action against Arafat- his entire campaign was the promise to lower Israeli casualties, and he has failed at it miserably.

This is why an international force seems necessary- not just to protect the Jewish and Muslim people of the multiple countries involved, but the leaders of those nations from their own people as well. Palestinians just killed eleven of their own people for the allegation of siding with Israel… and Bush thinks it's so simple for Arafat to get on the television and declare in Arabic that everyone has to be nice now? Last time someone in the Holy Land said everyone should be nice to each other they nailed him to a tree. (RIP, Douglas Adams.)

4. The crisis, and the violence, will never end, in any way, while Jewish settlements remain in the West Bank.

There is no possibility of a separation, nor an independent no-man's land or buffer zone, while these settlements remain. Terrorists can and will continue to breach Israeli defense perimeters because they can go through the settlement connections. The borders of Israel proper cannot be closed off all around, because then all the settlements are cut off from access as well. The ultimate issue for a peace process will not be if the settlements are to be removed, but how Sharon can remove them without appearing as though he ceded something that significant to Arafat.

5. No one is suffering more among anyone involved in this crisis than the refugees in the camps of Syria, Lebanon, and the West Bank, and the existence of these camps are the cause of every single terrorist action against Israel.

The refugee camps of the Middle East are modern-day Andersonvilles: single streams and water pipelines are used as the drinking fountain, the bathtub, and the toilet all in one. Sickness and squalor are rampant, and a lack of culture or intellectual stimulation makes the children born and raised in this camp to easily susceptible to the convincing heavenly rewards of suicidal martyrdom.

There are two ways in which these camps can cease to exist: the first is the withdrawal of Israel from the settlements, and an understanding of mutual ceding- The Israelis accept their loss of expanding land, and the Palestinians accept their loss of the ability to return the refugees to Israel. A massive amount of foreign aid will help the Palestinians accept this more easily, as well as simple actions by the Israelis, such as not blowing up commercial and industrial utilities paid for by the European Union.

The second, of course, is genocide: Israel wipes the Palestinian refugees from the face of the earth. This is a short-term possibility, but in the long run a failure. If even one refugee escapes or survives a massive Israeli military operation, he or she will live on to spawn a new generation of impoverished descendants who can easily be taught about how important it is to martyr themselves by killing Israeli civilians. The flaw of both sides is the idea that they can simply kill all the people that oppose them, when all it does is make twice as many enemies.

6. The useless rhetoric has to stop.

The following claims will not help either side of any debate in any way:

  • Barak offered 90% of the West Bank to Arafat and Arafat walked.

  • Ariel Sharon is a war criminal.

  • Arab newspapers printing articles about Jews putting blood in their pancakes.

  • The promise of Israel never existed.

  • Palestine never existed.

  • The Holocaust never existed.

  • Every act of terrorism committed in the last five years has been by a Muslim male between the age of 18 and 45.

  • The Jews knew in advance about September 11.

  • Are Arabs are animals.

  • All Jews are racists.

  • All Jews who don't support Israel are self-hating traitors.

  • A poll states… anything.

  • The following group cares only about… anything.

  • Zionism… anything.

These are all claims made daily within my earshot and within my reading material. The only commonality they share is that all of them are either distorted, misreported, irrelevant, or a flat-out lie. Regardless of either side, any pundit who used one of these talking points should be immediately questioned about their qualifications.

This is all I have for now, and I'm sure there will be more. As always, input appreciated, but anything remotely resembling anything that might appear on the Yahoo! Message boards will be summarily mocked.

(This post was edited later in the day to make a guy named Carl happy. I'm not kidding.)
 

   
 

Tom Tomorrow posted some Easter-related material yesterday of some sketches a man made of Jesus helping out the common man in everyday workplace activities. I think in tribute to this great idea, I shall post a link to the catalog Conan O'Brien mentioned on his show a few weeks ago that sells the Jesus Sports Statues, including Jesus playing baseball, Jesus playing Hockey, and Jesus doing Tae-Kwon-Do (seen above.) My personal favorite, however, had to be "Jesus playing Football," not because I have a preference for the sport, but because the figure actually depicts a small child trying to tackle Jesus Christ to the ground.