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|Saturday, March 16th, 2013|
Casual Notice is getting a facelift. Over at the main site, I've switched away from my long tradition of hard-coding html and have installed a plain vanilla version of WordPress. I'll be updating and customizing as I go along to make it seem more like home, but for now, that's what I'm working with.
Nebraska City will continue soon. I will be creating a subdomain for it and installing WordPress with COmicPress to manage that site. New comics will be posted to the main CN site as, well, but the archive will be maintained at the sub.
I'm not sure I will be continuing to post on LiveJournal. I'd like to say I will, but, honestly, copying and pasting (and re-editing to replace lost links, codes, etc) is a pain in the butt, so I doubt I'm likely to do so.
The main page of casual notice is still www.casualnotice.com
, so favorite it, if reading my crap is one of the high points of your life.
|Monday, January 28th, 2013|
|Sunday, January 20th, 2013|
Still comic sans. Been a busy week. More Unca Brett soon. Have too many pans on the stove right now.
|Sunday, January 13th, 2013|
|Comic Sans, Bitches!
So, um...new comic
up. In other news, that IS Comic Sans in the narration boxes. I'll be using that until I find the custom fonts I made earlier (or make a new one). Current Mood: colon hyphen right-parenthesis
|Wednesday, January 9th, 2013|
|Unca Brett Solves it All Part 1(b)
Okay, yes, I know, the dreaded Fiscal Cliff was last week, and Congress and President Obama came together at the last minute and saved the day by doing exactly nothing. Most of the so-called Bush tax cuts stayed in place (Bush was dealing with a Democratic Senate and a bare Republican majority in the House at the time, so it was really the Bi-Partisan tax cuts, since no one bitched about them at the time), and the points where taxes reverted to the previous point (ish...taxes on the highest ten percent of earners only increased by 2% of taxable earnings in that bracket, and capital earnings only received another 5% tax, and that only if you earned above $400,000 in interest or dividend income). Nothing got cut (the President "promised" a suitably high number in vaguely phrased cuts in the next year, but no budget items actually met the chopper).
Essentially, the Republicans and Democrats have both been celebrating the most bullshit victory since that woman won the Boston Marathon by taking a cab. But don't you worry, your old Unca brett is still on the job. Slow and lazy, maybe, but still faster and less surly than a Federal employee. So, now we move on to specific cuts necessary to balance the udget, reduce the debt, and send everyone some nice parting gifts.Eliminate the Department of Homeland Security
I know, there are a lot of truly necessary administrations that operate under the DHS banner. Thing is, most of them came from some other department, where they worked a lot better because they had direct access to needed information. FEMA was part of Interior before DHS and you never heard anyone bitching about their ability to cut a check. Immigration and Customs enforcement was part of State (and Treasury) and was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the US Customs Service (respectively). Did you notice how they combined two administrations, and managed to make them both more expensive and less efficient than they'd been separately? DHS is a massive money pit. Dump it, send everyone back where they came from (and give them their 2001 budgets to do their job, too).Eliminate All Services of the US Department of Agriculture that do not relate directly to food and drug quality enforcement and the US Forest Service
Long title, I know. Here's the thing, the FDA was established to prevent the makers of Enzyte from telling you they can make your dick longer with their capsule full of yard clippings. Now what they do is apologize for multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies when their complete lack of oversight of the drug testing process turns out to have the expected results.
The rest of the USDA is worse. Farming today is a process so overwrought with limitations and red tape, that almost no one who isn't a mega-corporation can do it. No one wants to get into the labyrinthine bureaucracy and regulations that make up the clusterfuck of today's USDA. Slash them all, maintain the regulations on quality and forest management, and start over.
More is coming. Later. I'm fighting a bug of some kind.
|Sunday, January 6th, 2013|
|Events are transpiring
I'm not sure whether it's the last fanart of Casual Notice or the first guest work for Nebraska City, but Vas Littlecrow Wojtanowicz of Catnose Comics
gave me this lovely view of life in the Davis household a few months ago (understanding that I wouldn't be able to post it until the server migration was complete and I began updating again). Young Miss Persephone just turned four in October (she was born during Hurricane Ike), and I think Vas does an amazing job foreseeing the difficulties in managing a household with both a dragon and a powerful fairy toddler. You should all go read the stuff she writes and draws for herself (NSFW conten, although I'm not sure why I'm pointing that out, since LJ has me behind an age wall because of all the F-bombs I drop).
Anyway, Next Sunday begins the new comic, Nebraska City. This will be a true ensemble comic featuring all of the characters from Casual Notice, plus a few new ones. It'll be in a four-panel gag-a-day format, but will probably not be posted daily (at least at first). The plan is this. I'll post every Sunday until I have a backlog of ten comics, then I'll switch to Monday-Friday until I have at least fifty, then I'll switch to MWF and probably hold there (unless the backlog drops below 50, in which case...you see where I'm going with this). Solutions pages will be posted in an as-ready method.
The blog is still up in the air and depends on my successes with installing Wordpress and necessary plug-ins for the comics. For now, the News Button that leads here to LJ will probably be your best bet.
Unca Brett will continue solving it all either later today or early tomorrow. Current Mood: hopeful
|Friday, December 21st, 2012|
|Unca Brett Solves it All (Part 1a) -- The Fiscal Cliff (more)
So, I've established that we can raise revenue to something remotely resembling a point of parity without raising the nominal rate on taxes. And that would be all well and good to a certain extent. We would be living paycheck-to-paycheck as a nation, carrying our huge national debt on our back, and god forbid we have any kind of emergency situation that changed the parity.
Just like the household that finds that the Christmas Bonus will not pay off the Visa card, we're going to have to supplement our income by reducing our expenses. More, we need to pay off (or down, if paying off is too troubling) our national debt, so we actually own what's ours. This will not be a process of a single year, or even a single decade. Our current national debt is higher than the Gross Domestic Product of our country. That means, to pay it off in a single dump payment, we would have to take everything produced by every person in the country and give it to our creditos.
Needless to say, that's not going to happen. Right now, we're barely paying the interest, which keeps the principal from growing on its own, but does us no real favors.
We need to cut the budget. And that's a toughie, because the current federal budget is so huge and complex that it would take you an entire year to read it completely (and derive any real understanding). I'll give it a shot, if for no reason other than I'm an egotistical bastard, and it pleases me to think I can solve an issue that has befuddled every member of Congress since the last time the national budget was written in black ink (1927, I think).
Now, my first instinct is to strike every line in the budget, and tell all those folks they need to justify their expenditures and let Congress vote on real numbers. This is partly because I'm lazy, and trawling through the hundreds of administrations that receive budgetary (and off-budget) funding from the government makes my eyes itch. Mostly, however, it's because I know how the budget is developed, and that is part of the problem in and of itself.
The federal budget is developed using a baseline. Essentially, every dime the government spent in last year's budget is considered a valid entry for this year. Then it is given a few percentage points for inflation, and a few more for "expected increase in demand for services."
That last bit is where you get the joke about government offices throwing money around so they don't have their budget slashed next year. That's not entirly true; most of the numbers are just copied over and subjected to the adjustments without any serious consideration. The last time the GAO did an exhaustive audit of the Federal Budget was in the early nineties, and it took them over a year to do it. That audit mostly provided then-VP Al Gore with grist so he could drone on about government waste while cherry-picking various items (two of the items he chose to use against the military were a $200 screw and a toilet that cost nearly a million dollars--both were items on cutting edge military jets--the screw was milled to specific tolerances that allowed it to keep a piece of metal sheeting from shearing off of a jet's wing at 3 times the speed of sound, and the toilet allowed pilots on long missions to continue flying without crapping their pants).
So ideally, the baseline budgeting system would go out the window, baby, bathwater, and all. Except that's not going to happen. Baseline budgeting is too convenient. It allows government employees to keep doing what they do (even if that's nothing) without having to justify why what they do costs so much. More to the point, it allows politicians on both sides of the aisle to tell open-faced lies about their effect on spending while still telling the truth.
Let's say the Office of Small Machined-Wood Decorations had a budget of $100 million last year. For this year's budget, they recieved a 2% increase for inflation and a 5% increase for demand of services, giving them a budget line this year of $107 million dollars. This gets horse-traded in committee down to $104 million, and all of the Republicans are now free to write home that they trimmed $3 million of government waste, while the Democrats are free to tell their constituents that they benefitted wood hobbyists to the tune of four million. Both are telling the truth, and both are lying.
As I said, that's not going to change. Unca Brett's gonna have to get tough. Here we go:Fire every government contractor including the unions.
Especially the unions. Government employees should not be allowed to unionize. Ever. Why?
Unions are established for collective bargaining. That is, the members of the union agree to bargain, as a group, for certain benefits (including pay increases and work hours) they might not receive when requesting these items on their own. That's all well and good, and in most industrial and commercial situations it is actually a benefit to both management and the enployees.
The thing is, the concept of "bargaining" suggests a fair and equitable negotiation between parties of more or less equal interest. That situation does not exist in any government organization, and certainly not at the federal level. The manager of a steel mill can go into a negotiation honestly and fairly, because it is in his best interest to haggle a deal that won't result in an insane increase in his costs. The managers of the federal government (Congressmen) simply have no vested interest in keeping expenses down. The US government won't go out of business because nobody wants to pay higher taxes so the Brotherhood of Small Machined-Wood Decorations Inspectors can get three extra sick days and a 10% hike in their pension.
Most of the other contractors are doing things that they have no business doing. More to the point, they're charging way too much for what they do. I'm all about private enterprise, but when private corporations have the federal government as their largest contract, they stop being really private and just become another useless bureaucrat. Fire 'em all. Use the resources already in place (for instance, the Marine Embassy Guard, instead of Blackwater contractors to secure our Embassies and Consulates), or do without.
This includes military contractors. Any time we put our military in the field, everyone there should know what they're doing in combat. No American soldier should die protecting a KBR engineer when the SeaBees and the ACoE can do the same thing, better, and for less money AND they know how to fire an M4 with reasonable accuracy.
This is just the first step. I'm running out of steam and space, so there will be more later. Current Mood: quixotic
|Wednesday, December 19th, 2012|
|Unca Brett Solves it All (Part 1) -- The Fiscal Cliff
...Aaaand, we're back. So let's get right down to it: the Fiscal Cliff.
I've got some bad news and some slightly different bad news. The bad news is that we cannot avoid the Fiscal Cliff. At best we can take measures to make it seem more like a Fiscal Bluff or a Fiscal Berm, but we are going to take a pretty big hit in January no matter what Congress does. You see, the conditions that have caused the Fiscal Cliff have been building for quite a long time, some of them for more than three decades, and the fact is that every inch up is paid for in at least a few millimeters of down. We've been borrowing up on the promise of down for a very long time, now, and it's coming due.
The slightly diffeent bad news begins with what appears to be good news, but it comes out to still be bad news, but something we can deal with. You see, we Americans are insanely lucky in the fact that we live in a huge country with convenient access to an astonishing number of natural resources. We could literally close our borders and become completely insular, and still have a working economy.
Well we could, except for one thing. We no longer have the industrial base necessary to maintain our current lifestyle. More to the point, our current economic structure and treaty configuration effectively prevent us from rapidly regaining that industrial base. There won't be a sound recovery like the one that rescued our parents and grandparents from the Great Depression, simply because we don't make anything. And a nation that makes nothing, has nothing.
So, first of all, be prepared to take a beating. No matter how you thick you slice the bread, there's still a lot of shit in our sandwich, and it's going to be a long time between lunch and dinner. But there is hope. We are still a democratic republic, and we still have the means to land on our feet. But it will take a lot of work, and at least a little hardship. Some of us will take it directly on the chin.
So here's the plan:Fire Bernanke
Fire him now and replace him with someone who will raise the prime interest rate. Why? Because only a moron lends money at an interest rate below one percent. At the current rate, the Fed is not serving as a safety net for America's banks, it's serving as a magic fairy, tossing consequence-free candies to all the good little banker children.
The prime rate, you understand, is an excellent tool for controlling investment, but only if it is an effective and mobile rate. A high interest rate encourages lending but discourages borrowing. A low interest rate encourages borrowing but discourages lending.
Our prime rate has been so low for so long that the only interest rate still tied to the prime is the interest you receive from a passbook savings account. Banks and other lending institutions no longer tie their interests rates to the prime, they just make up their own number, which is why you have interest rates ranging from Zero percent all the way to rates so high it has to be measured as daily interest (because the annual interest would require the computers they use to calculate experiments at CERN just to comprehend the number). There's a reason the TARP recipients were able to get free and clear in less than a year, and it has everything to do with the candy-bowl interest rates at the Federal Reserve.Increase Our Revenue Stream
That does not mean raise taxes. The nominal rate is a good solid tax rate, and, were it paid honestly by honest men (and the corporations that represent them) it would provide more than adequate funds for our current needs. So, here's the plan: All sources of liquid income are taxable at the same scaling rate we currently have for income from labor. No special rate for inheritance or interest or dividends. Did you receive $4.5 million dollars this year that you didn't have last year? Well, that's what you'll be paying taxes on.
All deductions except a single deduction of $12,000 (adjustable in the future for inflation or depression) per person (Head of Household and Dependents) would be eliminated. I applaud your charitable donations, yay for you. I also understand your medical emergencies. This isn't about your hard life, it's about everyone paying their fair share. And for the record, if your per person deductions are higher than your taxable income, you don't get any extra back. You just get the taxes you paid through withholding back, and thank you for the interest-free loan.
Note that I said liquid
income. Land, non-negotiable bonds, and stock in the family business are not liquid income, even if you receive them as part of your dead father's estate. This is what the commotion about the inheritance tax is about. People weren't bitching about losing 35% of granddad's bank account. They were legitimately concerned that they would lose their family farm (or family business) because it was valued at millions of dollars, and they didn't have ready cash lying around to pay the taxes on that.
Public Corporations would pay taxes based on the profit announced in their previous year's 10K SEC filing. Non-Public Corporations would be required to file a similar document with the IRS. They don't get a deduction at all because they aren't people. Only Section 500 Charitable Organizations would be exempt from taxes.
This plan would significantly increase our revenue while quelling all the whining about the rich not paying their fair share. It will not be enough, because you still have to cut spending. I'll get to that, tomorrow. Current Mood: contemplative
|Unca Brett Solves It All (Part Zero)
Wow, it all seems so crazy! There's a Fiscal Cliff and gun violence and the recovery is exactly as bad as the recession. If only there were someone who had a clear mind and a good grasp of realities to chop through the theories and wishful thinking and lead the way...
Well, there is, and at the request of absolutely nobody, I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks solving all of the world's problems (okay, America's problems...the rest of the world can suck it). I was hoping folks would come to these conclusions on their own, because self-initiated epiphanies always have more personal value than those that are handed to us, but on some things, there just isn't time. Tomorrow (or maybe later today) I'll rattle off a few words regarding the Fiscal Cliff and why avoiding it isn't an options, but first, let me disabuse a few misconceptions people seem to have.Nobody won anything in November!
There were no winners in November. Some seats shifted in Congress, but on the whole, it ended up the same as before. This election cycle was one of those situations where we only had losers. The American people lost. They lost any chance on substantive change, and they lost their faith in their representatives. They also lost faith in the reliability of their news reports, but that's been fading since GE bought NBC back in the seventies and started poking their noses into the way news is reported.November was also not a plebicite on the Democratic plan to spend our way to riches.
If the economy were the only issue on the board, Obama would not have been reelected. As it was, he managed the worst showing of any second-term president since Truman. Ultimately, what it came down to, was the "conservative message". Republican candidates confused their personal morality with enforcible legalities. The ones that didn't, allowed themselves to be dragged into arguments where they were arguing things they didn't really believe.
The whole Obamacare/abortion argument would have ended if one prominent Republican had the balls to stand up and say, "Look, I don't care if you get an abortion. It's your body and your choice. I'm just saying, don't ask me to pay for it if it's purely elective." See how that works? It gives a nod to Roe v. Wade
, allowing you to disavow yourself from the implications of violating guaranteed freedoms, but also states the actual argument. At the same time, the "purely elective" clause allows for covered abortions in the cases of rape (mental health issue) or the physical safety of the mother.
Wouldn't it all have been easier and more palatable if someone who matters had just stood up and stated the truth? Twenty-nine words. That's all it took. Think of all the damage done by that idiot who spewed out his ignorance of anatomy and physiology, of all the further damage done by apologists trying to say he didn't say what he said. When you apologize for idiots, you give others the impression that you are also an idiot.The national gun laws people are suggesting would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy
How do I know that? Most of those measures were already in effect at the state level. Not only that but the "assault weapon" (the ArmaLite Bushmaster M4 he used was not an assault weapon under Connecticut statute, and was a single fire semi-automatic) was only different from standard hunting rifles in that its ammunition is too small for effective hunting. The military look and fibreglass body are becoming common among civilian weapons, because they are lighter than traditional wood stocks (if you've every been hunting, you understand why this is important). The 30-round magazine was also not an issue, because it only takes a little practice (and believe me, guys like Lanza practice) to get to a point where you can swap magazines in less than five seconds.
Both Aurora and Newtown were tragic and horrific. That they were so close together is astonishing, but it speaks more to the frustration and helplessness prevalent in people's minds than it does to the dangers of the presence of firearms in our society. It's a symptom of a systemic disease in our culture, not a cause in itself. Once you undertand that, you begin to learn where the difficulties lie.Raising revenues and raising taxes are not synonymous.
I agree that there are a lot of people not paying taxes (and a lot of entities that aren't even people who pay no taxes at all). They're not doing it because their taxes are too low, they're doing it because they take advantage of loopholes and special accounting to avoid those taxes (mind you, the top 5% of eraners still pay something like 75% of all tax collected in the US). That doesn't mean we need to raise the baseline rate (at 35% for earnings above $100,000, it's quite high enough). What it means is that interest and dividends that are not reinvested should be counted just like any other income, and not allowed special rates. It means that corporations should be taxed on their 10K profits and not on their artfully-redefined earnings for tax purposes. It means a lot of things that will greatly improve the way taxes are handled, but I'll get into that later.
So, now that we have that straight, we can move on to actually fixing things. Current Mood: bitchy
|Thursday, November 29th, 2012|
|Kickstarter is Hilarious
So you've got this really great idea. It doesn't matter what, but, just for the sake of argument, let's say you have the most original TV Series ever. Now, of course, you could do things the old way: find a few investors, produce a pilot, on the strength of that, sell the pilot to a network, split the sales money (and future income) with your investors (and the network) and dance all the way to the bank.
Admittedly, there are problems with that method. For one thing, there's a huge amount of personal risk involved, which is...you know...risky. And then there's that whole "investor" thing! Did you know that "investors" generally expect a return on their investment? Like, if your idea takes off and starts making money, you actually have to give some of it to them!!!
As if they had anything to do with it! I mean, sure, your brilliant idea would still be crude drawings and scribbled notes if it weren't for their "investment" (there's that damn word again, as if it had any meaning...oh...wait...my Oxford 9th says that it means to put money (or time or effort) into something with the expecttion of a satisfying return--so there it is, those bastards only gave you the money because they thought they'd get some (or possibly more) money back...who's that greedy?), but it was totally your idea, and yeah, that money helped "pay" the people who brought the idea to life, but, where would those people be if you hadn't had the idea in the first place? That's right, unemployed and not thinking of ideas that employ people.
So, okay, investors are, as I have shown, totally not worth your time, because before they even give you money, they always expect things like a prospectus (an investors' cheat sheet including your business plan and profitability projections), or at least some sort of curriculum that shows they won't be throwing that money down a pit, and who has time for that when you've got ideas, right?
Now in the old days, your only other options were: save money, steal money, or panhandle. Now saving is nice, but, seriously, if you waste all your money on savings, you won't be able to buy Age of Elder Calls IX: Schanectady, so that's out. Stealing money would be a good idea, if it weren't for the fact that people who commit felonies get caught all the time. If felony robbery came off as well as the people who do it think it will, then successful robberies wouldn't be news. So, basically, if you steal, you will be arrested, and, if you're reading my ramblings, I can guarantee that everyone in jail, including the rats, is tougher than you are.
That leaves panhandling, which can be quite lucrative, but you have to be willing to slouch around at intersections and forgo bathing. At least that's the way it used to be. Now, you can just open a Kickstarter Project. You see, with Kickstarter, you can literally finance anything, with no consequences whatsoever. No demanding investors and their "investments", no bank loans with "amortization schedules", none of that.
Sure, most Kickstarter projects offer premiums, but they don't have to, and if you look at what they offer, it's not really worth the price. Bottom end "donors" get some crappy thing you knocked out in ten minutes--a Windows desktop or a "screensaver" that uses the default slideshow screensaver to show captures (or lobby cards). Upper end "donors" get a hilarious title (Super Lifesaving King of the Universe Golden ArchAngel) and maybe something...actually, to be honest, it's usually something stupid: a certificate of having fallen for it and a ... thing...that has some relationship with the project...maybe? In any case, I have never, ever seen a Kickstarter project that included an offer of profit sharing or real return on investment.
Yeah, I know. "Kickstarter is about helping something you believe in." So is traditional investing. Nine out of ten startups crash and burn in their first year of operation. Investors know this. They don't put money into startups because they expect huge trucks full of money to back up to theeir door; they do it because they believe in the project (or company) and want to help it get developed. If it does make a profit, they feel justified in asking for a share.
I'm not saying no one should give money to Kickstarter projects. If you just want to be a part of something that could be huge, you go right ahead. But post a link here when you do...I could use the laugh.
|Tuesday, November 20th, 2012|
|For the Love of...
I am sick and tired of the ongoing back-patting, bickering and finger-pointing that has continued for two weeks, now, since the election. So here are my final responses to everyone on every side, comments are welcome, but fuck you if you thing I give a shit what you have to say.Democrats
You didn't win any great big anything. The fact is that Obama lost ground with Americans, particularly the majority. A couple of historically Democratic Senate seats went back to the Dem party because the surprise Republicans weren't able to make everything all better in the six years they had in those chairs (turns out, when you elect a senator, there are 99 other senators who may not agree with him). You lost ground in the House. The end result is Same as the mid terms only more so. Stop crowing, "YOU LOST GET OVER IT!" because you didn't win a lot. Actually, even if you did, is it not the duty of the minority philosophy to "Speak Truth to Power"? That was the case from 2001 until 2008. Why is a dissenting viewpoint suddenly such a bad thing?Republicans
You guys lost. Period. You lost Senate seats because you let Reed's obsession with immediate cloture become a pissing match. You lost the Presidency because you mounted a "winnable" candidate that was the opposite of what conservative would like to see in the White House (7,000,000 conservatives said "fuck it" and didn't bother to vote this year--that may not have won the electoral colege, but it would definitely have changed the popular vote). You lost because your mismanagement and bastardized philosophies have allowed much of the world to perceive conservatives as Bible-thumping racist assholes who would spend more time sucking big business's cock than they do listening to their own constituents.Conservatives
You guys lost big. You losty because you let Republican Elitists lead you down a primrose path while Democrats distracted you with non-issues. From Planned Parenthood funding to the ersatz attacks on Herman Kane to the Benghazi fiasco, you guys have been chasing every bird in the field instead of picking one and brnging it down. Wiser men than me have pointed out that the surest way to defeat is to let the other guy decide the rules of engagement.Liberals
Just shut the fuck up. Gay marriage is not illegal, it's simply not recognized by a number of states. The difference is that counterfeit currency is illegal, but discount coupons (while having monetary value) are not recognized as currency by the government. Human Caused Climate Change is an issue for scientific study, not a closed discussion whose detractors are all teh ebul. You are not the 99%. Most of the people spouting that slogan are trustfund babies of 1-percenters (or 1-percenters themselves), because the 99% is trying to find work (or keep the jobs they have).
Seriously, if you don't have something useful to offer, then please just shut the fuck up!
|Tuesday, November 13th, 2012|
|Still not Dead
So, it turns out that I'm alive, despite all evidence to the contrary. If you're still reading this, and I have no reason to believe that you are, then know in advance that I am aware that a year and a half is a long time to go without even a live-journal entry and two years is an unconscionably long time to go on hiatus without even a status alert.
I've got a pretty big box of excuses I could hand out to everyone—including my ongoing insecurity about the quality of my artwork and my continuing inability to get people to draw my comic for free—but ultimately it all comes down to me. It just wasn't happening, and that is, on almost every level, my fault.
So where do we stand, now? Casual Notice has a new home; the whole site has been fully migrated and is as solid as it ever was. However, it's all going to change. I'm not going to make a bunch of unsupported promises like a junkie begging not to be kicked out of his parents basement, but I do have plans. Over the next few months, those plans will start to see light, culminating in a relaunch in January.
Without ging into details, it will work like this: Casual Notice will remain largely unchanged and will continue to host the CN Archive and whatever comic or rant is current. The whatever is an important concept. I do intend to continue working on Solutions, eventually, but the Solutions archives will be split from the main CN site to a subdomain of its own. Additionally, I plan to start a gag-a-day comic that picks up where CN left off (sort of). This one willbe an ensemble comic instead of focusing on Scot and Penny, and has the working title of Nebraska City. This comic will also have its own subdomain.
In either case new comics will still be posted on the Casual Notice front page, but they will have a front page of their own and will host their own archives. I've got site design and redesign work to do, plus I want tobuild a buffer for the new comic, so the tentative launch date is January 1. We'll see if I can pull it off.
|Friday, June 10th, 2011|
I take a lot of shit, from liberals and my fellow conservatives alike, due to my willingness to tolerate a lot of morally bad behavior by politicians. Mind you, I don't tolerate criminal or corrupt behavior; I have no love in my heart for the Congressman who cheats his taxes while parlaying his questionable donations into a multimillion dollar offshore nest egg, nor do I feel any great sympathy for the Senator or President who uses his position of power to impose his will on subordinates and influence them into compromising positions.
On the other hand, the Congressman who flirts with a variety of fans is fully deserving of my sympathy. For one thing, the most recent congressman to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune was married recently. Yeah, a lot of people sneer and grimace while pointing out that he's a newlywed and has no excuse for "shopping". These are the same sort of people who sniff their noses at college kids who find themselves mortgaged to the eyeballs and leave YouTube comments lamenting the state of pop music. In their minds, they've lived a pristine life surrounded only by great artists.
In reality, they made "The Macarena", "Baby Got Back", "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Seasons in the Sun" the big hits they were. They spent months, maybe even years, paying their bills exactly on time (or a little late), because they hadn't yet learned to prioritize their expenses, and were only rescued from an unrecoverable debt by the higher standards held by money-lenders at the time. And at some point in the first two years of their marriage (assuming they ever got married), they looked at the love of their life and realized that he is never going to stop peeling off his toenails in the living room, and that she snores like an asthmatic gorilla all the time, not just when she's plastered.
None of us are immune to stupid behavior. Most of us are just lucky enough to catch our foolishness before it becomes destructive. Of course, most of us also don't suffer the scrutiny that is placed on public figures, so we have a wider zone of how stupid our behavior can be before it becomes a problem.
It's sort of a shame that public servants are so heavily scrutinized. They should get a few free passes on non-destructive stupid behavior. They have to tolerate a lot of bullshit.
I know whereof I speak. I have spent my adult life serving on a variety of community service and charitable organizations—either on the board or in some functional capacity. I'm here to tell ya, if you plan on serving the public, you need to prepare yourself for a laundry list of inanity, backbiting, double-dealing, and politicking. Very few people even talk to public servants unless they want something. Your own colleagues on the board or in the administration will only cooperate with you if it serves their personal agenda and desires.
If you think the politics in your school/office/Wal-Mart are a bitch, you have no idea what politics in actually political places are like. I have seen good ideas deferred or quashed entirely because the person who came up with them was too young, or wasn't quite cool enough (cliques aren't just limited to high school culture—they're just slightly more subtle in adult life). I've seen incredibly bad ideas carried forward because the person who liked them was able to talk loudly and long enough to grind any reasonable opposition down into silence.
This inanity doesn't thin out the higher you go, it actually piles up. The unenforced leash law at the local level becomes the loose dog problem at the state level becomes the feral animal crisis at the national level. And everyone has their own opinion which is clearly the only correct view, and they will call you, write you, harangue you, and bribe you to see their way of thinking (if only on the day of the vote).
It's easy, after a long enough time in that environment, to believe that everyone is just a grasping, self-serving bastard who will gladhand you one day and stab you in the back the other. It's easy to try to escape that insanity with a little self-satisfaction of your own. Add to that the fact that most national politicians are lawyers, and spent their early adult years surrounded by people who wanted help avoiding the consequences of their own actions, and you can begin to understand how easy it is to behave badly.
Again, I'm not excusing the behavior of public servnts who violate the law or abuse their positions. All I'm asking is that we not hunt down and lynch public servants for doing something that would just result in heavily rolled eyes if we found out that the guy down the street did it.
|Thursday, June 2nd, 2011|
The other night I was watching a local news item regarding a recent study that showed that, while a significant number of blacks felt that they were less discriminated against than in the past, a growing number of whites felt that they suffered from increased discrimination. The report featured an attractive and sensible-looking young black woman interviewing a Rice University professor.
The professor spent the entire interview explaining that whites, and white men in particular weren't feeling discriminated against, they were feeling the effects of no longer having the advantage that being white once provided. He was middle-aged, handsome, and had the exact sort of look and attitude that suggested, if not a life of privelege, then at least one of comfort.
I couldn't help but think, "How the hell would you know?"
I don't blame him for his attitude, per se, but I question whether he's qualified to make such judgments. And, again, it's not that I think he doesn't have the training to read an opinion poll. I imagine he's spent his professional life reading statistical abstracts every day, comparingand contrasting graphs and data sheets, trying to grasp their full meaning, and interpret them for himself and his students.
I question whether the life he's lived qualifies him to speak for "white American males". There are about 120 million white men living in the United States (assuming the census bureau's 2009 estimate of 307 million Americans, 79.6% of whom are white and 49.3% of whom are male). We fall into every economic and regional stratum in the census. We are the majority, because there are a lot of us.
So this professor, who seems to recognize on some level that he got his position by means other than a great social need for Smart Guys Who Tell Us What We Think, blithely gabs on about white privelege and white advantage.
But he doesn't seem to realize, that there's no such thing as advantage when you are a member of the majority. I'm not
saying that, for much of our history, minorities in general and blacks in particular were not
severely and unfairly disadvantaged. I'm saying that the vast majority of whites never saw the fruits of that unfairness in any real way. Eliminating blacks from (for instance) the pool of potential brakemen did not guarantee my grandfather the position he held for that final forty or so years of his life.
But those of us on the lower end of the social strata are used to having to compete for our daily bread. There are, after all, only so many positions open for machinists, only so many Pell Grants avaialable to promising students of lower and working class incomes. We're used to getting where we are based entirely on our merits because when you're part of the racial group that makes up just less than four fifths of the country, you don't get advantage based only on the color of your skin.
My generation was raised knowing that there was a debt to be paid. Decades of institutional discrimination had created an America where people were guaranteed to lose because of their skin color. We accepted that debt, and Affirmative Action was instituted to even off the field, to ensure that everyone had a fair starting point.
What, then, do I tell my daughter, who was raised to believe that every American is equal, that it is the value of your character and the quality of your work that provide opportunities, when she is passed over for employment or promotion without regard for her resume or history? What do we tell kids who are denied a college education due to laws that promote and admit new students based on the color of their skin and not their aptitude or achievements?
If being told no because you happen to be white isn't discrimination, then what is?
|Sunday, May 15th, 2011|
|Renewal of Purpose
It occurs to me that I have been somewhat remiss in fulfilling my end of the larger social contract. Let's be honest, I'm a middle-aged man living in moderate comfort with my loving and remarkably (for her age) attractive wife in a middle-class neighborhood. I have few debts, and modest savings. I have a few good friends, a lot of acquaintances, and no enemies that I care enough to despise (at least not until their names start showing up on the Obit page).
Clearly, I'm not complaining enough. Yes, I know. It can be reasonably argued that I don't have enough to complain about, but reason isn't the point of social contracts. I'm rapidly approaching the back end of middle age, and relative satisfaction with a life fully (if not well) lived is no excuse not to fill the environment with the constant droning whine of my objection and offense at any number of subjects that don't affect me in any real or personal way.
In a simpler time, I could claim to write letters to the editor of my local paper and just say that he didn't publish them because he was a liberal hack/reactionary fascist. Sadly, the New Media has created a world where even lazy cranks can't quite get away with the attempts at casual falsehood that the First Amendment guarantees.
So, okay, I'm going to make an effort to update at least once a week, and keep the world informed that, even though I have no actual reason to complain, I am still willing to complain (since that is what's expected of people in my social and economic position). I'm not making any promises. I'm no less lazy than I was three hours ago, so, of course, I may blow the whole idea off. But I am aware of the problem, and am working on it.
As sort of a collateral on my non-promise, I offer a few short kvetches that aren't worth puking 300 words on my keyboard (if f-bombs offend you, now is the time to stop reading):Birthers:
Shut the fuck up. Seriously, you idiots. It doesn't matter if Barack Obama was born in freaking Hanoi (he wasn't); his mother was a natural born American citizen. You know why a lot of cultures only track maternal lineage? Because only a moron would actually challenge a woman on the subject of whether the human being she forced out of her pelvis was actually her child. But you guys had to just be assholes until Obama finally released his birth certificate, and now you're making up nitpicks with that?
You know what? I don't blame you. Some people are just fucking stupid. I blame the media for giving you air time and serious consideration. Both sides of our insanely politicized media have been paying way too much attention to these fuckwits. Just put them in the same social colony as 9-11 Truthers and those people who confuse the Moon Landing with the 1978 film Capricorn One
. Because, it doesn't strengthen any conservative argument, nor does it contradict the dumbass policies of the Obama Administration. It just makes you look as stupid as the idiots who think it's even an issue.Gay Marriage:
I'm not going to grace this "issue" with more than a few lines. It comes down to this: If you're not willing to give up clam chowder and chesseburgers, or if you don't lock your wife (daughter, sister, mother) in a room for seven days out of every month, then you need to shut the fuck up about Biblical Law and what JHVH considers an abomination. Yes, I know Saul of Tarsus added a little bit about the subject in his letters, but, if you read his letters, Saul was pretty much about no sex for fun for anyone. If he'd had his way, procreation would be a process slightly less enjoyable than applying for a home improvement loan.
So, when a loving couple chooses to commit to each other for life, and asks for the same rights of kinship and family as any other loving couple, regardless of whether or not their choice of partner is the same as yours, just be happy that there are still people in the world willing to commit to each other and not whore themselves out like the cast of Jersey Shore.
And get off my lawn, ya pukes.
|Thursday, February 3rd, 2011|
|Yay! I'm a B-lister (sort of)
So I volunteered to do one of the presentation pages for this year's The Webcomic List Awards, and they actually said to go ahead and do it. I ended up being assigned the award for Best Colour Art, and I wouldn't have pulled it off if JD hadn't let me borrow his unflappable ex-hitman, Roger, from A Mad Tea Party
. Anyway, here's a link to the awards
. My contribution is under Best Colour Art (second presentation). Go look at it, but don't looka t the other presentations which are much more skillfully drawn and just makeme look bad. Bastards...
|Tuesday, February 1st, 2011|
|Look, a page!
Wow, it turns out actually drawing is a lot harder than I remember. I mean, sure, I spent a lot of time goofing off with the original Casual Notice, but anyone who actually looked at the art will agree that it was drawing in the same way that a 3rd grade book report is literary critique.
Anyway, I don't hate this. It still needs work. I need to tighten up my shading, in particular...maybe add some cel shading since I'm doing it entirely on computer. But, on the whole, I think it's okay.
|Sunday, January 9th, 2011|
|The Dead Indian
So, okay, not a real page
, today. Just a cover for the first "book" of the series. The script is more or less written and the story is fully plotted, so I just have to draw. This was my first attempt at comic book-style shading, so if anyone has critiques, lay them on me.
I've pretty much settled on Sunday updates. The "Monday" updates for the old Casual Notice comic were all done on Sunday, anyway (if they were done at all).
|Saturday, January 1st, 2011|
|Casual Notice Presents
If you've managed to pop by my site in the last 5 months or so, you saw an ad card announcing "1-1-11". Well, I'm starting the comic back...hmm...I'm putting a different comic....let's just say there will be comics again. They will be posted under the heading of Casual Notice Presents and will generally have the same cast of characters, although Scot and Penny will no longer hold the central roles.
The first comic is a big project I'd originally intended as a collaboration with the massively talented Jon Dalton of Mad Tea Party
(or whatever he has posted there at the moment...it's all good), but that sort of fell through when it turned out he had a life that did not revolve around doing free artwork. Go fig.
Anyway, I've been working on what we'll laughingly call my drawing skills, so I hope no one will be blinded by my suck, at least not until I can
inspire someone into doing the art for me. There will be a full page of the story posted each week. I hope anyone who's still with me will enjoy it.
|Wednesday, July 7th, 2010|
So, I'm building a bookshelf for my mother. It's a pretty simple box design, and I've worked with the wood type before, so it's not like it's very difficult. Still, it got me thinking.
I remember reading (don't ask me where) that American Public School systems are phasing out their shop and home ec programs. I think that's a shame. We need more classes that teach kids basic life skills, not fewer. And shop and home ec teach more than just how to build birdhouses or make a proper tuna sandwich.
I went to middle school in the seventies, in what was considered a progressive school district. The building had been built on the open concept, but mayhem and amplified noise had quickly encouraged district officials to fill in the space with those semi-permanent walls that define the spaces of office buildings. What was most progressive, however, was the periferral studies program.
Every student, boy, girl, what-have-you, was required to take a 9-week course in art, another in shop, and a third in home economics. I couldn't tell you what the fourth nine weeks went to; the school was overcrowded, and the district's solution to that was a staggered year-round schedule that left half the students with one 9-week block broken into uneven segments, so that session may have been given up as lost as far as periferral studies went.
Of course, we all resented it. The artsy kids resented wasting half the year on stuff they'd never use; the girls resented (simultaneously) having to learn how to work with tools and the home ec requirement and all of the June Cleaver assumptions that implied. The guys resented home ec on general principles, and art (unless we got to use something cool like the potters wheel or sculpting tools). But we all went, because the only other option was skipping (which I tried, and—owing to the fact that the school was not particularly adept at contacting parents and tracking communications—succeeded for almost six weeks; it didn't end well, but it was a minor victory in an otherwise dark time in my life).
So we went to home ec, and we learned how to cook, and we learned basic sewing, and we also learned basic tips for personal cleanliness and attractiveness, and what a giant pain in the ass children are. Some of it stuck: I can still sew a button by hand, and if pressed can probably mend most things with a machine (I also love to cook, but I credit my mother and my brother-in-law with giving me that particular fascination). A lot of it didn't: to this day, I couldn't tell you the difference between different kinds of shoes or why the shrill woman from What Not To Wear
gets away with breaking every one of the rules she imposes on her victims (and still looks kinda hot for a shrill, middle-aged New York Princess).
And we went to shop, and we learned woodworking (which I wouldn't use again for twenty-something years, but when I did, it ignited a passion for the work that surprised even me), and metalworking, and drafting (which I've used off and on all my life, sometimes in the most surprising situations). Some of it stuck; a lot of it didn't.
Both classes, however, taught us things that weren't strictly on the curriculum. Home ec taught us the importance of patience, timing, and careful attention to detail. Shop taught us the need for clear planning, careful preparation, and clear-headed attention to the task at hand. These are the real life skills that those periferral classes taught us. These are the things that seem to be sadly missing from many people's skillsets.
These are the things we need to remember in order to move on. Current Mood: contemplative