Over the weekend, this article by author Kathleen Hale was published in the Guardian. In it, she describes her deteriorating mental stability and her obsessive compulsions that led to ultimately to her stalking a reviewer to her home in person and to her workplace via several invasive phone calls.
And some people hailed her as a hero for confronting an “online bully” whose major crime was a negative review.
"No one was hurt," they said, "except maybe the author, who was just defending herself against online bullies."
Which, as should be painfully evident by the author’s own confessional article, is the bullshittiest of bullshit.
Today, someone pointed me to this review. At the bottom, the reviewer says that she was assaulted by the author, who stalked her to her workplace and then hit her so hard over the head with a wine bottle that she nearly passed out and required stitches. She has photographs of the damage done here (warning: graphic) and gives a more detailed account here.
As I said in my previous post, I’m sure Kathleen Hale meant the blogger she stalked no physical harm. In fact, she seemed to have a twisted idea that they could be friends. She very well may find all this hullabaloo about her article ridiculous because she knows she wouldn’t turn stalking into assault. But no one else knows that, especially not the stalking victim, and by her own repeated confession, her mental stability is questionable.
But here’s the thing. The author who attacked the blogger who was assaulted a few days ago? He also wrote an article about stalking. He also felt that he could be friends (and romantic partners) with the person he was stalking. He also saw nothing wrong with what he did.
We take a stand against stalking because it escalates. We take a stand because people deserve their right to privacy—and their right to opinions. We take a stand because it is not right to cause someone else fear or harm, and it’s fucking ridiculous that this is not universally acknowledged.
Not all yellow traffic lights are not created equal, it seems. Especially in Chicago.
Earlier this year, the city began issuing tickets to motorists who drove through yellow lights that turned red fractions of a second shorter than the three-second city minimum. The change was slight, but the effect for the cash-starved city was real: nearly $8 million from an additional 77,000 tickets, according to the city’s inspector general.
All of those $100 tickets were issued after cameras installed at intersections caught the drivers as they passed through. These systems, known as red light cameras, are an increasingly controversial tactic for policing roadways. Established in the name of public safety, critics contend the cameras have become little more than a way for municipalities to funnel money into their coffers.
“If the machine is set to catch more people and generate more revenue, then it does not really seem to be about safety but about revenue,” says Joseph Schofer, a professor of transportation at Northwestern University.
Chicago isn’t the first municipality to benefit from shorter yellow traffic lights. In 2011, the Florida Department of Transportation secretly reduced its policy on the length of yellow lights, likely bringing millions of dollars in additional revenue to the state.
There is no federal rule for how long a yellow light should be illuminated, but the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends three to six seconds. Nationwide, a minimum of three seconds is generally considered standard. John Bowman, a spokesperson for the National Motorists Association, which opposes the cameras, says the organization routinely gets calls from people saying they received a red light camera ticket, believing the yellow light was too short.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to get a public official on the record saying, ‘We shortened them to make more money,’” Bowman says. “But I think that clearly goes on.”
Red light cameras gained popularity in the 1990s after New York became the first U.S. city to install a network. The initial motivation was safety, says Hani Mahmassani, the director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center. The hope was that cameras would deter drivers from running red lights if they knew it would lead to a ticket. But in the 2000s, as the popularity of the cameras grew, cities and the companies that manufactured, installed and helped operate the cameras adopted a revenue-sharing model. The more violations caught by the cameras, the more money the city and the businesses stood to make.
“That’s when it became a greed thing,” Mahmassani says.
By the end of the decade, red light camera networks were in hundreds of municipalities. Today, 499 towns and cities have adopted them, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
While the potential for profit is clear, the public safety value of red light cameras is fuzzy.
So that’s what they mean when they say “public/private partnership.”
Man, when I went to Chicago a few months back, I noticed this instantly. The traffic lights there don’t stay yellow AT ALL. Even if you’re just a measly 10-20 feet away and it changes from green to yellow, there’s no way you’re making it through that light without it turning red on you. In Indianapolis, if a light turns yellow, you’re given at least a full 4-5 seconds before it changes to red. In Chicago, I swear I didn’t even get 2.
I thought it was just to encourage people to drive slower, but after reading this it makes a lot more sense.
Um… Isn’t the point of yellow/amber lights to be “Unless you’re past breaking distance, you need to stop now”, not “QUICK! GET THROUGH THE INTERSECTION BEFORE IT TURNS RED!”. Is it not in fact a driving test fail to proceed through a yellow light when you could have stopped? Isn’t it something you could actually get pulled over by a cop for if they wanted to?
If you think yellow/amber means “SPEED UP! GOING TO BE RED SOON!”, not the “Stop unless doing so means you stop in the middle of the intersection” that is written in the drivers codes, you are a bad driver.
In almost all jurisdictions yellow/amber is the actual stop signal, and it has been for as long as the stop signs have been around. You just have one ‘out’ that you can continue if stopping would mean you stop in an unsafe place. Red is not the stop signal, it’s the final warning that crossing the intersection puts you and others at peril and is a traffic violation.
So this is pretty cool, I was interviewed by Rolling Stone today. No biggie.
By politics, the voices calling for ethics reform really mean “progressive” politics. The so-called corruption that needs to be rooted out is a focus on “diversity” and the “magnitude of the human experience.” It should be no surprise that the outlets and voices specifically targeted by GamerGate are progressive. Baldwin was the first of several notable opportunists who, despite caring little for video games or video game culture, were more than happy to contribute to any movement that counted “SJWs” — that’s “social justice warriors,” for those of you out of the loop — as enemies. That “social justice warrior” is considered a pejorative at all speaks volumes about the motivations behind much of GamerGate and its fixation on progressive voices.
the greatest escape in the history of ever
UNIT, The United Nations Intelligence Task Force, Stalwartly Protecting Earth From Alien Incursion.
Do not ask us about:
- Things that don’t fall down when you shoot them.
- The Master.
- Underground Robot Yetis.
- Things that just walk out of the bushes behind you when you were just trying to have a cuppa.
- Great big dogs with orange eyebrows.
- The Master.
- Giant radioactive maggots.
There’s so much inaccurate with this…
- So that’s why they get the order wrong, they transfer them off the internet as handwritten scribbles.
- So you just throw the topp… yeah, I guess this one’s accurate.
- Who are you trying to kid, you don’t have a wood fired adobe oven back there. You have a conveyer belt running under electric grill elements.
- Quality control. I assume this is code for ‘sitting in a box under a heat lamp’.
- NO! Do not hold the pizza box like that! All the pizza toppings will slide off and make a horrible mess. Also you’re popping a wheelie on a moped while driving one handed, you’re going to crash and kill yourself. And then I won’t get my pizza!
Hello all teachers and professors! I know you all read my Tumblr without exception, so this is a great place to talk about this.
Please stop assigning your students to interview cartoonists. I love students and I love doing interviews, but I can only do so much, and when you have entire courses of students at multiple schools all trying to interview people at the same time, it just doesn’t work. I get emails probably about once a week during the school year saying “Hi I go to school [REDACTED] I was assigned in class to interview to a cartoonist, can you answer the attached questions for me please?”
I can’t do them all. So I have to say no (or not reply) and the student goes away thinking “Wow he couldn’t spare one HOUR to talk to me? What a jerk.” And then the student has to go begging to other people, which sucks, and I go away feeling like all I’m teaching these students is “people who are self-employed are usually busy and cannot accommodate every stranger who email them out of the blue with a request because their teacher told them to”, which also sucks. BEHOLD MY LEGACY.
If the goal is for students to find out more about what being a cartoonist is REALLY like, here are several interviews I’ve done that explore this:
- Reddit AMA 2009
- Reddit AMA 2012
- Me and Joey Comeau
- a Google search result for “Ryan North interview” (safesearch is off, beware)
There are similar Google searches for every other cartoonist you can think of!
On the other hand, if the goal is for the students to practice interviewing people, have them interview each other! I bet they have lives that are even MORE interesting than the life of a guy who sits alone in front of a computer all day (ps: this is me) (ps: no regrets)
Okay, that’s all! I know y’all do good work, but I just feel bad about shooting down students all the time and now since we’ve cleared the air here I’m sure this problem is resolved forever.
I feel funny about reblogging this but I see wannabe comics people knock Jeph Jacques’ artwork so often and it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what makes a comic work. I comment here purely because I am being used here to represent “right” and Jeph “wrong”.
Artwork has very little to do with what makes a comic work for an audience. I think I’m close to the truth when I say that QC has ten readers for every one of mine. Jeph has succeeded in making people care about, not just one character, but dozens, in a narrative that progresses at a gentle speed that readers supposedly “can’t handle” on the post-Tumblr internet. For my money it’s almost the perfect fusion of manga pacing/accessibility and functional, comic strip art. Here’s one of - let’s not soft soap this - America’s most popular comic creators, a straight fellow who at least has the courage to write about queer people, trans people, actually takes time to step outside his comfort zone. Is the work perfect? No, because nothing is. But find another burro to hit the back end of with a banjo. There’s nothing wrong with criticism, but I think that saying QC is sometimes stiffly posed and simplistically paced misses the point. It’s not one strip, it’s thousands. Instead of looking at what doesn’t work here, look at what does, and maybe inform your work with that. II don’t think it matters how well you can draw a house or a car if no one cares what you’re saying.
Comic Comparison Triple Threat!
Bad Machinery is pretty good. Nothing I’ve read about it makes it jump out as The Best Comic Of All Time, but it’s got good art and competent writing. I like it, and I recommend with my only reservation being that I haven’t read all that much.
Let’s compare this random, frankly unexceptional workhorse BM page to today’s QC, and the third page of FCA, which I consider a bit too slow (a better comparison would be page 5, which is a bit too cluttered, but I….haven’t lettered it yet because I’m procrastinating it). Also, hey look, a page of Falls Count Anywhere! It’s real! And….I suppose contains a spoiler but it’s literally page three and the comic won’t go live for like a month and a half :|
The Bad Machinery page is 700 x 1063px
The QC page is 800 x 1160px.
And the FCA page is 778 x 1185px (like 98% as big as QC)
So the QC page is about 25% bigger than the BM one. That’s 25% more space to tell a story! Space matters a lot! This FCA page is a little bit fucked-looking because I had too much stuff in my script and Cody had to stretch to fit it in. I got this mage and went “shit, I need to put less stuff on a page or it gets messy”.
But let’s think about what’s happening in these spaces.
BM (And let me just be clear that BM is the best of the three, I’m still learning page pacing a bit) has nine panels. One panel is a double-size establishing shot, and panel 4 doesn’t show any of the characters, which I think is at least partly to keep the comic from looking repetitive. Panels five and six are small, because there’s not a lot of text in them. In this comic, we establish Ryan’s relationship with his dad, get a sense of Shelley and Ryan’s relationship, have the two doing something more visually interesting, set up the next page (presumably) by having them catching a fish, and have a joke. Most of the space, besides all the text, is used to set up a bit of a melancholy mood, giving the conversation more context and more effect than if it were against a single-color wall with moth characters standing ramrod straight.
FCA is heavy on establishing when and where this the story is. The previous page with Nicola getting hit with a DDT so hard the comic went black and white,
subtly setting up a recurring visual metaphor I came up with after the fact. This comic shows that she was injured pretty badly by it, and that her mom is worried about her, but pretty muted in her response. Plot-wise, there’s not that much going on here (not enough, maybe?), but I made an effort to include visual details. Nicola is playing with the roll-up thing for the windows next to a bag with the old McDonald’s logo on it, giving some indication that this comic takes place in the past, as does the car itself, which I think is a 1987 Ford Hatchback.
We also learn, a bit from panel 1 and a bit from the very well-done panel 8, that they’re not in the richest neighborhood. From this, we can get a sense of their class. I spent a lot of time writing this page going “Well, if they’re in a car, what can I put in the car to advance the story”. The cross hanging off the rearview mirror in panel 3, for instance, was something I put in the script specifically, as was the older McDonald’s logo. I looked up cheap cars from the mid to late 80s to determine what kind of car they were in. Is the fact that Nic’s mom is Christian going to be relevant to the story? Almost certainly not, but it cost no space that detail in there, so I did it.
I tried to fit as much information into that space as I could, because I’m paying per-page and want to get as much value for my dollar as possible (I later, sadly, go overboard on this a bit. Getting the pacing right has been a bit of a challenge, since I don’t want to waste pages, but need to give things room to breathe. Page 5 is a bit too cramped)
(Also, I think the text in the first panel should be a speech bubble coming out of the car, but then having a box in panel 2 looks really weird. If I put a word balloon in panel two, where does the tail go?).
I don’t know if I succeeded, or what I could’ve done better, but I tried to fit shit in. Bad Machinery, if you go back to its start, has a lot of visual details, too. This dude is upper-middle to upper class since he’s got a big room and a big computer monitor. He’s a nerd because of his posters. He goes to an upscale school because of his fancy uniform (or is British). We know a lot about this guy because of the visual details, even without reading any of the text.
Questionable Content is three beat panels and a line. A woman is eating cereal.
Having nothing in the background isn’t just lazy art. It’s lazy storytelling. We’ve spent several pages in Claire’s mom’s house, and we know nothing about her except what’s in the text. The only useful visual information is that she looks like Claire. Even if she’ll never show up again, that’s so wasteful.
Don’t think of art and writing as two separate ideas where never the two should meet. BM’s visuals give it’s conversation a lot more context and meaning, and it’s much stronger as a result. It’s not even that he drew well. It’s what he drew that gives the conversation its feel.
Also I note that this QC comic comes after a week designed to generate dramatic outpourings of Fan Squee. Having a comic where someone just eats some cereal after the big dramatic fan pleasing climax is a nice coda.
And what’s more it’s… GOOD STORY TELLING. Being busy all the time is not good story telling, it’s just being busy all the time. It’s not actually something that’s good, it’s something that you can get away with if you manage it well, but really it’s usually a bad thing you want to avoid. For the most part, you really really do need cool-down periods to allow the audience time to process and adjust to the new things introduced. And in a serialised format, yes, this can be an entire comic-strip, chapter, or TV episode. (So many TV episodes which are slow paced cool-downs to reflect and re-establish get mislabelled as “filler” episodes.)
I also imagine “TheWebcomicsReview” doing a review of a Calvin and Hobbes single-panel strip, and complaining about all the wasted space. Someone throw an art book at them so they can learn about negative and neutral space.