Thursday, July 17, 2008


Trying to do this in only one hour at a public library is absurd and impossible. Where's that laptop?

feel the excitement


Can cartoonists go too far? Yes. Should we go too far? Yes

Steve Bell by Steve Bell


Obama cartoons

The New Yorker's controversial cover and Steve Bell's recent Obama cartoon (right)

Irony is a difficult beast to control. Your intention as a cartoonist may be perfectly clear to you, but how some psycho in Toadsuck, Nebraska, is going to read your cartoon is anyone's guess, and the psycho's privilege, and you can never second guess a psycho, as was demonstrated in the Coen brothers' film No Country for Old Men. Psychos tend to take things very literally and often carry around captive bolts powered by large canisters of compressed air, especially in the US.

So should we tread warily, lest we are misunderstood? Of course we should. Cartoonists are some of the most painstaking, careful, shy and sensitive people on earth, yet we do play with fire, toying with other people's (and of course our own) most deeply held beliefs and most cherished illusions. Is it possible to go too far? Of course it is? Should we go too far? Of course we should. That's what makes our job so interesting. There's no better feeling than, having taken a risk in a drawing, seeing the thing in print and knowing it works. The converse is also true, which is why I work in a bunker on the south coast.

Judge: Man dressed as penis must apologize




SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A 19-year-old man must make an apology to the city of Saratoga Springs for dressing as an inflatable 6-foot penis and then parading across SPAC's stage at the high school's graduation last month.

Calvin Morett of 337 Pyramid Pine Estates must also pay to have the letter published in the Saratogian newspaper as part of a City Court sentence that calls for him to pay $95 in court fees and perform 24 hours of community service. Morett had previously pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation.

The sentence draws the curtain on Morett's case. His appearance at the June 26 graduation at Saratoga Performing Arts Center caused, a stir and a video of the incident later appeared on YouTube.

Reuters/Zogby Index Slips As Economic Worries Grow

Survey shows just 10% give U.S. economic policy a positive rating; Three in four believe the nation is headed on the wrong track

UTICA, New York – Likely voters are increasingly dissatisfied with U.S. economic policy as worries about inflation and a slowing U.S. economy leave Americans in a dismal mood, a new Reuters/Zogby poll shows.

The Reuters/Zogby Index, which measures American confidence, has fallen slightly to 88.7, down from 90.4 in June, and continues to remain just above the all-time low of 87.7 it hit in March. The Reuters/Zogby Index includes 10 poll questions that gauge perception of the state of the country and the economy. The telephone survey of 1,039 likely voters nationwide was conducted July 9-13, 2008. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.














Reuters/Zogby Index













Nine in 10 likely voters dissatisfied with U.S. economic policy

Dissatisfaction with U.S. economic policy continues to increase, with 89% who now view the nation's economic policy as fair or poor, up from 84% who said the same last month – 55% now give U.S. economic policy a "poor" rating. The vast majority of Democrats (96%) and political independents (91%) have a negative view of the nation's economic policy, while 80% of Republicans now share those feelings, an increase from 71% who said the same in June.

Likely voters also maintain their pessimistic views about the direction in which the country is headed, with 73% who believe the nation is on the wrong track, compared to 74% who said the same in June. Democrats are most likely to take a negative view of the country's direction, with 84% who now say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a slight decrease from 86% who said the same in June. The vast majority of independents take a similar view, with 82% who said the country is on the wrong track, falling from 86% who said the same last month. More than half of Republicans now believe the nation is headed on the wrong track (55%), up from 51% in June.

Eccentric dude puts lyrics to famous film scores (like Batman!)

David Markland, the Captain/Author of LA Metblogs (formerly Metroblogging LA) says:

This dude, Andrew Goldenberg, has a bunch of music videos he's made putting lyrics to every note of some of the best known film themes of our times. Absolutely brilliant. Take note of Batman and Back to the Future especially!
Odd L.A. Spotlight: Andrew Goldenberg [LA Metblogs]

High Corn Prices Cast Shadow Over Ethanol Plants

by Robert Siegel

AltraBiofuel CEO Ken DeCubellis stands at the company's plant in Indiana. 

AltraBiofuel CEO Ken DeCubellis says the company must watch its costs very carefully. "We are one bad day of ethanol pricing from having to decide to shut the plant down," he says of the company's Indiana facility.
Graphic: Estimated breakeven corn price for Iowa ethanol plants.
Profit margins for ethanol producers over the past year have been slim, and sometimes the companies have gone into the red. The spike in corn prices in June reflects the flooding that occurred in the Midwest. Courtesy of Purdue University.
AltraBiofuels opened its $170 million ethanol plant in Cloverdale, Ind., in April. 

All Things Considered, July 15, 2008 · A rush to cash in on ethanol has slowed as soaring corn prices squeeze profit margins for producers of the alternative fuel. At a recent high of $7 per bushel, the corn used to make ethanol has tripled in price since many plants were built two years ago, and some facilities have been shut down or put on hold.

Ethanol took off in 2006, in response to two federal policies.

One policy was longstanding: Most gasoline had to include an additive that would oxygenate it, make it burn cleaner and reduce air pollution. The other policy was new: The government decided not to shield the oil companies against lawsuits over the additive that they had been using — methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, which was found to contaminate groundwater.

So there had to be a different additive. Ethanol, a type of alcohol that is distilled from corn, fit the bill. And the oil companies could get a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit for using ethanol.

The rush was on, and producers moved quickly to get ethanol plants online.

But recent ethanol news from the Corn Belt has been a lot less upbeat, as many ethanol-plant projects have stalled.

Radar tracked unidentified craft near Crawford, group's report says

Federal Aviation Administration radar appears to confirm the presence of unidentified aircraft on Jan. 8 over the Stephenville-Dublin area, with at least one appearing to head toward President Bush's Crawford Ranch, the same night that dozens of people reported seeing UFOs, according to a report released Thursday by a national group that studies reports of unidentified flying objects.

According to the Mutual UFO Network report, the FAA radar indicated that several craft were moving in the same compass direction and time frame as those cited by Erath County residents. The craft were not military and did not have transponders that relay information about themselves to radar operators.

Radar tracked a Crawford-bound craft for more than an hour, according to the MUFON report. Witnesses said they saw two large glowing amber lights similar in size and color to the lights on the back of a school bus.

The object seemed to be stationary or moving at speeds of less than 60 mph most of the time, but at one point it accelerated to 532 mph in 30 seconds, according to the report. It did not seem to reach the property.

"The object was traveling to the southeast on a direct course towards the Crawford Ranch," the report states.

Progressive geek looking for 3,000 people to help him win Kansas election against dinosauric anti-science/pro-surveillance dude

Sean Tevis is a geeky geek from Kansas who's fed up with his state rep, an anti-abortion, anti-evolution, pro-censorship, pro-surveillance, anti-gay incumbent. Tevis -- an unknown -- is polling within three points of his opponent, and is looking to raise some Internet dough to kick this guy's (extremely tight) ass, and to promote his cause, he's made a fantastic, XKCD-style toon called "It's Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an Eventual Winner." Specifically, he's looking to raise $8.34 from 3,000 people (no state rep in Kansas history has ever had more than 644 donors). I'm in*. Who's with me? Link

Frantic rescue effort saves doll, not baby

Vynette Cernik with one of her lifelike dolls
True to life ... Vynette Cernik with one of her dolls.

By Glenis Green

  • Cops mistake doll in car for unconscious baby
  • So they smash vehicle's windows to rescue bub
  • Officers say it was frightening for police and public

FRANTIC police smashed a window to rescue a seemingly unconscious baby from a locked vehicle in Queensland last week only to find it was an extremely lifelike doll.

The embarrassing mistake, made in regional Gympie, is not an isolated incident and passionate creator of the "reborn" baby dolls Vynette Cernik knows just how easily they can be mistaken for the real thing.

Ms Cernik said last week's case of mistaken identity mirrored a similar incident in the US when the window of a new Hummer was broken by police trying to rescue a "baby" that turned out to be a doll belonging to the owner's wife.

Selling for up to $1000, the painstakingly hand-painted dolls were so lifelike with eyelashes, fingernails, milk spots and wispy hair that they were constantly fooling people, Ms Cernik said.,23599,24019578-1248,00.html

Elizabeth Dole proposes naming AIDS bill after homophobe Jesse Helms


Good god, this is disgusting. Perhaps all that work on Sen. Liddy Dole has caused something to snap. Out of all the people to try to honor in an Act dedicated to fighting AIDS, Elizabeth Dole spits in the face of LGBTs by proposing the now-dead Jesse Helms be added to the "Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008." Here's the Congressional Record:

SA 5074. Mrs. DOLE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by her to the bill S. 2731, to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to provide assistance to foreign countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: On page 1, line 5, strike ''and Henry J. Hyde'' and insert '', Henry J. Hyde, and Jesse Helms''.

Thousands died because of Helms's bigotry. There are so many reasons why Liddy needs to be defeated, and this only adds to the pile.