Sunday, December 18, 2016

Resistance is not futile (I hope)

Folks, we are in big trouble. Our current climate change reality is off-the-charts worse than the most dire predictions. With gigatons of methane melting in the arctic and going into the atmosphere, we are looking at a more than 10 degree increase in global temperature in the next ten years. Few ecosystems on Earth can survive that. Our species almost certainly can't.

Maybe if we were to mobilize 100% of all of our efforts, we can stop this, but it looks like we're throwing ourselves headlong into extinction, and soon. As the climate changes, agriculture will fail all over the world. The current situation in Syria is just a dress rehearsal. That will be everywhere in a few years. And instead of mobilizing to stop this, we will probably mobilize for war, and that will be the end of us.

Is there any hope? I hope there is! Massive cultivation of algae in the oceans might save us, but this and all other actions need to ramp up immediately. We need to get down to business on this like our lives depend on it, because they do.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Wishing Fish!!

Here's another puppet show I did with friends:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Confessions of a former Nader voter: 2016 reflections

The US election of 2000 has been coming up a lot lately, so I think it's time to add a few remarks and updates to the lessons I learned and described earlier.

First off, I've heard people claim that the Naderites of 2000 simultaneously held two contradictory views:

  1. The candidates of the two major parties are too similar to each other to warrant supporting one over the other, and 
  2. A GWB presidency would be such a disaster that it would wake up and energize the populace to take to the streets and demand major changes.
This is not an accurate characterization. These two views were not widely held simultaneously. The first view was what was argued during the 2000 election and the second was a hope that started to develop about midway through GWB's first term.

Position #1 was specifically argued in the campaign literature that helped convince me. I recall sharing one article that talked about environmental protection legislation that passed under Nixon (or something like that), along with a bunch of other examples of positive/progressive legislation that had passed during recent Republican administrations, plus examples of bad stuff that during Democratic ones. It was quite the opposite of arguing that "A GWB presidency will destroy the country and bring on 'the revolution' sooner" -- it was more like "It's not going to make any difference, so let's vote for a new system."

And it made sense to me. They're politicians after all -- they have to compromise and reach across the aisle if they want to get anything done. So using my vote to protest the two-party stranglehold on the national debate didn't seem like an especially dangerous thing to do. (Particularly since -- as I said in the above-linked essays -- I sincerely didn't think GWB had any shot at winning.) 

The idea that Congress would explicitly, intentionally try to hamstring the president instead of trying to run the country is largely a new strategy for pandering to a constituency that hates Obama so profoundly that they'd rather see the country harm itself than see Obama succeed.

Once I saw how bad it was possible for a GWB to be, that's when I started hoping that people would get energized and motivated (as explained in my earlier essays). And to my horror, it didn't happen.

That's the most important lesson I learned from my experience voting for Nader. I think I was enough of an optimist to believe that once we hit rock-bottom, we'd start to pick ourselves back up. And sadly I learned that there is no rock bottom. No matter how incomprehensibly broken the US political system seems at any given point it can get worse.

GWB helped shape the new normal. When I was kid, torture was a war crime, period. Thanks to Bush/Cheney, whether/how to torture is just another campaign plank to be debated. Now we have Trump stating on television that he advocates deterring terrorists by killing their innocent family members, and it's not even considered his worst gaffe.

GWB dramatically expanded the electorate's tolerance for criminality and incompetence from the president. A huge portion of the electorate now thinks the president's job is just to be "the decider" -- picking among choices presented to him by his staff -- instead of having a thorough understanding of policies, issues, history, etc.

I'm not going to say that a protest vote is never appropriate. I abstained from voting in the previous presidential election because of Obama's human rights' record (specifically sending drones to assassinate people without any transparency or judicial oversight). But this is not the election for a protest vote. This isn't a choice between two basically-the-same bad choices. This is a choice between the status quo and suicide. The status quo is bad, but suicide is infinitely worse.

The fact that Trump is even considered a viable candidate is itself an illustration of the consequences of standing by and allowing a disaster presidency to happen.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Three more panels!

Yep, only three new ones since New Years', but... these three are real doozies!!

You may recall from my last "state of the me" that I'd succeeded in my goal of finishing 10 pages before the end of Christmas Break (in fact I finished slightly more than 11). And here we are on the 28th of February, and I've only finished another three panels...?

The thing is that the first 9 pages all took place in the underground research institute, and then the characters came up to the interior of the tower. Then, on the 11th page, one character fatefully steps outside! Which means I have to draw the campus.

I took my time on these because I'm a bit of a novice at drawing the outsides of buildings -- and I invented these from pure imagination -- I wasn't even looking at photos for inspiration (except for the cityscape in the background). So please don't tell me the lighting and perspective is all messed-up -- I would have drawn it better if I were better at this! ;)

So here's the last panel of part 2 of this story:

And here's the top half of page 28 (the 11th page I drew), so you can see my other two new panels in context:

The remaining panels take place inside the dormitory -- another background I haven't drawn yet -- so it's back to the drawing board!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Edina Puppet Theater 1990: The case of the confused catnappers!

Here's another episode of the puppet show series I did with some friends back in the summer of 1990:

Monday, January 11, 2016

State of the me: 2015/2016!

2015 has been the year of the possible dream!

Here's a quick review:

Back in 2013/2014 I was feeling a little blue because I wanted to focus more on creative projects, but I despaired of ever having time. Or, more accurately, I didn't have an idea that inspired me enough to make time for it.

Then, in the Summer of 2014 -- a few days before setting off on vacation -- I had an idea for a story. I worked out a few scenes in my head, and as soon as I boarded the train, I started writing. Then, during our entire three-week visit to Paris (in between all of the shopping, sight-seeing, and friend-visiting), I wrote out the complete outline, and hammered out the script that I wanted to draw as a comic book.

That may not sound like a very fun vacation, but in fact it was pretty awesome. Whenever we go on vacation, all the kids want to do is go to toy stores anyway. This time, while wandering around visiting the parks and museums, I had my little notebook in hand, and was jotting down all of my various ideas. I remember one beautiful day in particular when my mother-in-law took my kids for the day, and I spent the day wandering around Paris -- just me and my little notebook -- ducking into caf├ęs for coffee or beer when it drizzled, constructing the framework of ideas for my story.

(Note: the trip was actually for a Math conference, so most of my time was spent hanging out in Paris with the kids while my husband was doing Math with his colleagues.)

I wanted more than anything else for this story to become a comic book. But the problem is that I wasn't sure my artistic skill level was equal to the task. Just have a look at the illustrations to my novel. Each illustration was typically a full-day's work, and even then they weren't so great. But I sure had fun doing them! I decided to try anyway, as you can see from last year's "state of the me."

Well, another year has passed, and now it is starting to look like the possible dream! As you can see from some earlier posts, I've gotten to the point of being able to draw some fairly decent pages. So I set a goal to have 10 pages done by the end of Christmas break, and I succeeded in drawing 11! At the rate I'm going, I think it is realistic to expect that I will have all 45 pages of the first book done within two years -- at a level of quality that I will be proud of.

This makes me very happy. I love my story, and this is the sort of thing I've always dreamed of doing.

I haven't dropped all of my other life goals -- I have some upgrades planned for my websites, etc. and I'm still swimming on my usual goals -- but for the moment, I'm mostly basking in the pleasure of working on this project.