Monthly Archives: July 2008

What? I never mentioned that I was an Aspie?

By now you’ve probably, possibly, heard of Michael Savage’s remarks calling autism the “illness du jour” and claiming that “99 percent” of autism cases are “a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out”. The ensuing controversy led Slate to publish an article explaining how autism is actually diagnosed. And as a result, until recently the number one most e-mailed story (and still appearing on the list) on Slate had been… Gregg Easterbrook’s report on a Cornell study suggesting a link between television viewing and autism. From 2006.

There have been a lot of proposed theories about the cause of the rise in autism diagnoses over the decades. Chemicals in vaccines were being loudly trumpeted until they were banned and autism diagnoses kept rising (and it was, in retrospect, kind of ridiculous anyway). Some people attribute increased awareness of autism’s existence; others attribute the constantly broadening definitions of autism. Myself, I was turned on by a teacher I had in high school to what might be called the “Darwinist” theory, which probably explains some of my neuroses, both because the idea informs the neuroses and because the neuroses inform the idea: in the information age, so many of the jobs out there require logical processing skills, which autistics tend to naturally possess, so they tend to thrive and reproduce, whereas before they were too socially awkward to get laid. Asperger’s syndrome is the future “norm” of the human race! Get used to it! (Would it be too conceited for me to refer to myself as homo superior?)

The Cornell study, though, is especially interesting to me (protests in the comments and general part of a blame-television tradition aside) not just on its own terms, but even more so because of Easterbrook’s explanation of it. Easterbrook, who had hypothesized a television-autism link even before learning of the study, further hypothesized that for millenia, the human race had been raised on three-dimensional images. Once infants to two-year-olds started being raised on the two-dimensional images of the television set, it warped their minds in who knows what ways.

I would carry this one step further and suggest that autistics literally see the world differently – not merely process the same images differently, but literally see a different picture than a non-autistic. I can see out of my right eye, but I’m somewhat convinced it sort of “turns off” or at least runs on low power when my left eye is open. I can only wink my right eye – even when I think I’m winking my left eye it’s the right eye that closes – and when both eyes are closed I similarly can only open my left eye without using my hands to hold the left eye closed. (I don’t know how normal this is.) I also don’t really see any difference in objects with depth when seeing with one or two eyes; similar to a painting that can give an illusion of depth, proportions and general shapes, not to mention lighting, can make the existence of depth clear even with no depth perception to speak of.

Regardless, autistics serve a valuable role in society if their quirks and talents are properly nurtured and exploited, which is why I’m offended that the WWE is teaming up with Jenny McCarthy’s Generation Rescue charity, whose slogan is “autism is reversible” and which still believes in the rather-discredited mercury-in-the-vaccines and germ theories, and which supports giving “biomedical intervention” to kids as a means of fighting autism (including the “gluten-free diet” approach, which when tried on me, made my problems worse in the short term). By their own admission, “the cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial”, and much that is on their web site is familiar blame-corporate-America rhetoric and based on questionable research, yet the WWE seems to be treating it as though it’s as uncontroversial as the United Way or Salvation Army. (It doesn’t help that WWE is advertising that McCarthy will be “stepping into the ring to fight autism” as though autism were on the level of cancer or AIDS.)

(Oh, and don’t ask me how I found out about this in the first place when there is shockingly little controversy about it, okay?)

The real “disease” of autism lies with everyone who doesn’t have it, in assuming that everyone fits a certain mold of the “ideal” or “normal” person until it’s too late, and well thereafter. (Which is why I use my “about me” posts to give advice to people trying to deal with me, especially in real life.) Let’s try and keep the uniqueness and talents of those with autism and related “disorders” instead of trying to get everyone to march in lockstep and become just like everyone else.

Some comments on my street signs, and other webby stuff

A while back (in the Pre-Morgan-Mar-LiveJournal era) I mentioned Samuel Klein’s street blade gallery, and I e-mailed him about mine, and I never got an e-mail back and I never saw anything pop up on his street blade gallery tag, so I thought it had been ignored and that was that.

Well, today, on a lark, I decided to see if maybe he’d put something up without telling me, and lo and behold he had… but as it contained no Blogger tags (it did contain Technorati tags), I would never have found out by following an RSS feed without subscribing to his site’s general feed. And street signs are about the only aspect of his site I’m interested in.

(And it was only put up on Monday anyway.)

So. I looked into my site’s hit logs. 49 hits so far this month for my street sign gallery alone, 101 in June, 67 in May.

Wait… again, 49 of those hits are coming from the month in which the post was made. The street sign gallery more than doubled that the previous month alone. And I’m looking at a daily average of 408 hits for June (across all pages and including reloads) but only 136 for this month. That includes 1873 hits June 6.

This (scroll down to the comments) accounts for only 148 of the “referrers”, with all the higher ones being either direct hits or coming from the website itself, mostly the webcomic. Again, this is across all page views. So that helps explain the deluge for the web site.

But I last mentioned the street sign gallery on July 17, when I also mentioned Klein’s gallery, and before that it had been ages since I brought it up. So where did 101 hits for the street sign gallery, of all things, come from? The only thing I can think of is that a lot of my referrals come from Google Image Search, and they can’t all be Sandsday.

But it also got me thinking about something else. Subtract any referrers that begin with “morganwick.freehostia.com”, and in July so far, I have a total of 749 hits to my web site, doubtless some of them referring to images, and 15 of them coming from variants of morganwick.blogspot.com. And some of them are probably me. By contrast, I have about 370 hits to Da Blog in the last month and about 640 page views. That’s an average of 25 a day to the web site and 21 page views on Da Blog, with half a hit a day coming from Da Blog to the web site.

It’s not exactly the most popular of sites, but I am thinking of making some changes to capitalize on what little popularity I have. Stay tuned.

(Oh, and after my e-mail contained a lengthy explanation of several signs for someone unfamiliar with Seattle, I find out Mr. Klein had seen many of the signs I had before, just had never taken any pictures of them.)

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

Cooking By Numbers this week. Have a look if you want. I don’t have much to say about it.

Judging by the results of the poll, I’m going to be using all the StumbleUpon interests. Sorry for pushing the polls down with the sheer size of the label list. I need to find a more compact label list that doesn’t require me to do some hacking.

I’m getting better at writing these quicker. Of course, I thought I lost this for a couple of days, re-found it, and stayed up until 3 AM last night to finish it.

(From Dresden Codak. Click for full-sized transformation.)

Just in case you thought I was only ever going to review webcomics I liked.

Dresden Codak should be incredibly thought provoking. It should be able to completely transform the way you think and make you think deeply about ideas you’d never even conceived before. Aaron Diaz should be right up there with Ryan North and Randall Munroe as webcomics’ premier thinkers.

It should. But it isn’t and it doesn’t and he isn’t.

Instead, Dresden Codak proves what I said in my review of Ctrl+Alt+Del: art is overrated. By almost any measure, DC looks gorgeous – but 90% of the time, there’s so much of it crammed into such small spaces that it’s damn near impossible to have any idea of what’s going on whatsoever, which is probably a good thing for the comic’s popularity, as it sometimes seems that there’s nothing going on, and what is going on isn’t worth following.

Start with… well, how do we start? Aaron Diaz seems to want to completely disavow the existence of any comics prior to the one you click when you click on a “first” link: “dc_013.html”. This URL is the only clue you get that you’re being sold a bill of goods. I can kind of see why Diaz would censor his first 12 comics (actually 11, as comic 7 is itself skipped in the archive and reappears in the public archive as comic 13a) – the first two are very simply drawn, short pieces where random violent things happen, things that would make DC look a lot like a lot of other comics that are incredibly simply drawn and that have random violent things happen. The third adds naught but color and no real violence. But the fourth features the first appearance of Old Man-Man, who subsequently appears in the part of the archive Diaz does want you to see, in a strip marked “The Return of Old Man-Man”, your second clue you’re being sold a bill of goods by being told that comic 13 is comic 1.

Basically, the formula here is that random shit happens, often almost completely incomprehensible and rendered even more incomprehensible by being brought to us in media res. The main distinction between the comics in the public archive and the ones prior to it are that the Dresden Codak formula – cram as much artwork in there as possible, in addition to everything else – is in full effect. Throw in occasional science-based jokes (hey, if it works for Irregular Webcomic! and xkcd, it should work for my strip, right?) and you have what seems to be a formula for success. Metaphors – sometimes dense, sometimes transparent - reign. (The first strip in the public archives comes with a note claiming that “Tomorrow Man”‘s ultimately fatal sojourn to the future is a “thinly veiled metaphor for the youthful obsession with progress”. Well, I certainly would have never known if you hadn’t pointed it out to me, Aaron, and I don’t think that’s what “thinly veiled” means.) Oh, and did I mention the wildly swerving art style? Even Kim Ross’ first appearance appears to be in watercolor.

Kim Ross is the well-endowed (as her appearances mount up, her breasts keep getting bigger and bigger until they’re practically independent objects during the Hob storyline), wannabe-scientist who, immediately upon appearing in the strip, completely takes it over. Her appearance coincides with the sheer volume of art beginning to obfuscate any sense the strip may have once had; her second appearance features a moment of confused panel order and her third, while decipherable if you ignore the flash-forward sequence, is clearly well on its way to confusing the heck out of anyone trying. And when it isn’t, it’s so random and full of non-sequiturs that it might as well. (And don’t forget the incredibly crowded space of the strip between the two.)

So the pattern is established, perhaps even more with Kim and her friends around. Exotic journeys to the farthest reaches of the mind. Metaphor on top of metaphor. Cramming as much art in as possible. Occasional bouts of out-of-nowhere randomness.

Then Diaz did something that, for all appearances given what his strip had done so far, could never in a million years end well.

He went for Cerebus Syndrome.

Enough happens in the beginning of the story that it’s hard to know where to begin, but here goes: Kim discovers a satellite in low-earth orbit, and her “nostalgia” store (which uses a machine to “pull old events temporarily back into your short term memory”) is visited by time travelers (using ridiculously archaic slang, and in fact may ironically be the funniest thing to happen to the strip in its history) who Kim confronts about the satellite, sending them running. After attempting to call her friends about the incident, she encounters a massive robot, which she promptly obsesses over and takes to like a charm. The robot, which Kim names “Hob” (hence the name of the storyline), uses ridiculously advanced technology (including data stored on the molecular level, allowing virtually endless duplication) but doesn’t have any sort of memories whatsoever, and we learn the real reason for Kim’s “nostalgia” store: taking people’s memories as the baseline of an AI which Kim now intends to use Hob as a host body for.

At this moment the time travelers reveal themselves and have a sit-down with Kim over their situation; Kim deduces that they need Hob to return home, at which point the time travellers tell the history of their own time, in one of the most crowded-with-art strips (even by Dresden Codak standards) ever seen in webcomics. To make a long story short, by their time computer technology had grown so advanced “that we no longer had the capacity nor any real desire to understand our motherly caretaker”. As the “mother” expands, “transhumans” willfully lose their humanity to become essentially “mediator” cyborgs, intended to keep the “mother” in check, but even they soon are powerless to stop the “mother’s” ravenous appetite to assimilate, Borg-style, large chunks of the planet into its collective, until humanity fights a “last war” to stop the “mother’s” expansion. They succeed, but lose their sight in the process (possibly a metaphor) and the “mother” wipes its own memory, and thus the entire history of humanity. Thus, humanity has to pick up the pieces from whatever it can salvage from the “mother’s” technology.

From this Kim deduces that all the technology thus salvaged eventually evolves back into “mother” and the time travelers are out to “destroy it before it turns the entire planet into some kind of mechanical abomination”, but refuses to help them do so, deciding the promise of “revolutioniz[ing] human civilization within a decade” makes “the potential threat of global extinction… piddling by comparison”, at which point the time travelers reveal that the whole conversation has been little more than a diversion while the task at hand is completed and “if you insist on leaving… troubles will manifest”, at which point Kim’s friends Dmitri and Alina turn out to be a parody of the Wonder Twins. No, really.

The resulting battle is fairly hard to decipher, as Diaz’s art starts becoming even more impenetrable than before, but it appears that, as Hob starts “returning to its original form“, Dmitri and Alina help hold it in place while one of the time travellers destroys Hob for good, while Kim babbles about “if only they understood what they hated, they’d evolve too”. And it’s this that I want to talk about. To this point, it’s clear that Kim is the central figure in the story, but she’s a transhumanist who not only believes in the technological singularity, but in using technology to produce the future “evolution” of the human race. In a heated and telling debate with Dmitri after the battle, she indicates that she would have “let it” “wipe out the planet” because “it was the next paradigm shift” and when Dmitri warns that “you’re going to wipe out the human race” she responds “Good! All they ever do is die!

Someone who’s out to destroy the entire human race is seldom a sympathetic figure, if not an outright villain (and in fact Dmitri had earlier called Kim’s memory-stealing scheme “supervillain-level stuff”), and it’s somewhat jarring for Kim to be portrayed this way when she had heretofore been essentially an extention of Diaz and his own views. Yet almost immediately, Kim breaks down into a crying fit and is comforted by, of all things, one of the Hob-duplicates. (So far this doesn’t particularly seem to be a full-on descent into First and Ten Syndrome, if only because we learn so little about how everyone really feels to get any sense of whether or not the tone is any different from what’s come before.) It seems clear that Kim’s loathing of the human race is, to some extent, little more than the result of parental-abandonment issues, and that in fact we are to, if not sympathize with Kim, at least pity her. And that’s even more jarring.

Whether or not Kim is to be seen as the hero or the villain has perhaps more fundamental consequences as well, if we are to take a line of reasoning proposed by John Solomon (and trust me, I’ll have plenty to say about his site at a later date, and very little of it will be positive). Let’s take what we know about Kim’s character: She’s an aspiring scientist who subscribes to the incredibly nerdly philosophy of transhumanism, has problems emphasizing with other humans to the point of being willing to destroy humanity, and is generally more comfortable around computers than people. Oh, and she has huge boobs. In other words, a male nerd’s wet dream, especially one with their own issues getting along with humanity, perhaps with Asperger’s syndrome along for the ride. If it weren’t for her villainous tendencies Kim would border on Mary Sue-dom, which means if her seeming intent to destroy the human race is just dealing with the emotions of her mommy-wommy being deady-weady, she becomes little more than Diaz’s attempt to pander to a specific audience.

Anyway, the art becomes incomprehensible again at this point, as “time colonists” announce their intention to take over the planet from the satellites (during the meeting of the minds, the time travellers announce that “there are now three” even as they disavow any involvement) and our time traveller friends turn out to be the real villains – somehow – apparently involved in some scheme to transport their young people back to the future, or is it to take the people of today and move them to the future? And when Alina mentions Kimiko in passing, “Number Zero”, the time travellers’ real leader, recognizes that as the “mother”‘s “name… before the world changed”. The time travellers once again attempt to get through to Kim, who now claims “Hob computerizes matter without undermining biology. Whatever their intent was, the methods are harmless!” And then the time travellers set off an explosion, and then I can’t even tell what happens after that. Apparently Kim drags the incapacitated Dmitri and Alina behind her while leaping… somewhere? And then there’s a bunch of firing, and then Hob starts enunciating “mediator”, and Kim gets hit with something, and… Diaz probably learned the old canard “show don’t tell”, but when the “showing” is crammed into such small spaces, you might want to throw us a bone to allow us to figure out what, exactly, we’re being shown.

Even what appears to be an interesting flashback to Kim’s childhood, comprehensible enough to provoke a response out of Robert A. “Tangents” Howard at the time (which I’m not linking to for various reasons), gets derailed by a random montage. And then there’s a… journey into Hob‘s mind and Kim‘s invasion of it? And is Kim now defending humanity in this sketch? And then Kim comes out of some sort of… butterfly… thing? And what was the point of the last three comics? However incomprehensible Dresden Codak once was, it’s downright straightforward compared with what the Hob storyline has seen recently. I’m sure there’s a decent storyline lurking here, which could be told by someone more competent at writing and panel structure, and in not just showing a lot, but showing smart.

Right now Dresden Codak is on a bit of an indefinite hiatus, a casualty of injury and computer damage, but you might be pardoned for not being able to tell the difference. Twice in the Hob storyline Diaz promised weekly updates. “A new comic every Monday,” he promises, even going so far as to quit his job, after early strips in the storyline were separated by a month or more. After roughly gaps of a week and a half before each of the next two comics, each accompanied by apologies, the date on #44 (Hob #13) is 12/1/07. The next strip is 12/17/07, with no apology for lateness, implying Diaz is already letting his schedule go to pot. Then 1/7/08. In the annotation for Hob #13, Diaz explains “Christmas sales rush plus other business strains threw off my schedule,” so the former is no longer an excuse. The next strip is 1/26/08, 19 days later, so still far from a weekly schedule.

The strip after that is dated 3/2/08.

Diaz explains that he “had the flu and then recovered just in time to move” and promises faster updates, and the next update is dated 3/16, which does seem to be faster, then 4/5, then 5/2. Then, after promising an update “in a few days”, the next strip is dated 5/18. Then 6/7, then 7/1 with not even an explanation. Keep in mind that all these updates I’ve looked at came after Diaz promised weekly updates, yet he’s pretty much never been able to deliver better than a twice-monthly schedule, and his repeated promises of quicker updating since then have never really delivered on their promises.

Solomon attacks Diaz for deciding to make his webcomic his job and promptly falling off the face of the earth, accusing him of “getting paid to do as little work as he possibly can”, but this lack of updating, near as I can tell (as someone more willing to give Diaz the benefit of the doubt), is really a direct consequence of having to make such detailed art in his strips. No matter how hard he tries, no matter how many corners he decides to cut, it still takes him two weeks to produce a single page, especially since the art has grown more complicated as it’s standardized. He spends two weeks per strip painstakingly drawing intense, sprawling landscapes and it all ends up being damn near impenetrable to read anything into and in the service of a story that seems lacking.

It makes me wonder if Diaz is in the wrong medium, or not only should have never delved into Cerebus Syndrome, but should have stopped trying to tell multi-panel stories entirely. The popularity of comics like Order of the Stick, xkcd, and countless others shows that a lack of art is hardly a barrier to success in webcomics. It’s often said that what OOTS and its ilk prove is that bad art can be saved by a good story. But in Dresden Codak, it doesn’t matter how good the story is because good art is so detrimental to the strip’s quality the mere presence of a continuing story only makes it worse.

This is not meant to be a stubborn creator of an art-free comic dismissing the “cool kids” as not really “hep” to my obviously-superior way of thinking. In fact, admittedly, DC‘s problem isn’t really so much that its art is good as that it’s cluttered – but the fact that it’s good means it takes a long time to produce, and on the Web, the longer the time between updates the more ignorable you are (and as I’ve said before, the greater the penalty for missed updates). This is meant to point out something that I’m a trifle surprised isn’t obvious: people do not read webcomics to look at the pretty pictures. In fact, people don’t read newspaper comic strips to look at the pretty pictures. The defining feature of Peanuts, GarfieldDilbert, and quite a few others is the sheer simplicity of their art (Dilbert‘s creator has at times gone so far as to be very self-depreciating about his art abilities). If people wanted to look at pretty pictures they’d go to the art museum, or the art museum’s web site. People read comics to read a story, or at least a funny joke, and the pictures exist only insofar as they help tell the story. That’s all they need to do, and the quality of that art has little or nothing to do with it.

Yes, you can’t tell as many stories with Dinosaur Comics or Sandsday as you can with a more flexible art style, but there’s little to say that if I really wanted to, I couldn’t use the Sandsday art style, with next to no improvement over the status quo, to tell more complex stories. Yes, you can better differentiate between characters if you’re not using Order of the Stick-style (or heaven forbid, xkcd-style) stick figures, but I find it hard to believe Tim Buckley couldn’t create as many different characters as he wanted in the Ctrl+Alt+Del art style. So long as the art style you’re using allows you to create as much diversity in your cast (and in what you portray) as you desire, and so long as it isn’t so bad that it’s an active turn-off (or serves to obfuscate what you’re trying to say), your strip will live or die on your story and your jokes, and despite the claims of some critics to the contrary, your art style will have little to do with it. You may want to adjust your art style to help become part of the message or mood your strip is trying to send, but beyond that go with the art style you’re capable of that will keep your story comprehensible to the reader and that will allow you to keep a regular schedule. Dresden Codak shows what happens when you focus too much on the quality of your art and suggests that perhaps webcomics are a medium that works best when the art is simplified and doesn’t try too hard to be a museum piece.

On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by Diaz’s everyone-is-really-immortal hypothesis.

Quick thought on ArenaBowl XXII, and other stuff

Is it just me, or did ABC not treat the ArenaBowl like a championship game? Well before they ended the broadcast the instant the game ended without a trophy presentation, it felt like just another game.

The strip is finally moving back to an 11 PM PT post time, for real this time.

Webcomic post coming tomorrow.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 7/26-27

All times PDT.

Saturday
10:30-12 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior British Open, third round (ABC). If we’re putting up the third round of a golf tournament – of a SENIOR TOUR golf tournament – we are scraping the bottom of the barrel to put up something, ANYTHING.

1:30-3 PM: AVP Volleyball, Men’s final from Long Beach (NBC). Yes, we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

9-11 PM (both coasts): EliteXC Mixed Martial Arts, Saturday Night Fights (CBS). I’m still waiting to see what the ratings are for Saturday Night Fights Mark II, but hey, there’s nothing else on, other than a re-air of UFC 84 on Spike.

Sunday
10-11 AM: Cycling, Tour de France (CBS). See a bunch of doped-up freaks motor their way to the finish line! Er… on second thought…

10-12 PM: Champions Tour Golf, Senior British Open, final round (ABC). It’s your chance to see Greg Norman all over again!

Honorable Mention: 10:30-1:30 PM: MLB Baseball, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (ESPN Classic). Goose Gossage and a bunch of people who never played a game.

12-3 PM: Arena Football League, ArenaBowl XXII (ABC). Down in the dumps because there’s no football? Get yourself revved up for the new season! (Who says the NFL season is short? I think the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and associated Game is next week, which means the NFL plays from August into February. The NFL shoves football down our throat for half a year and keeps at it the rest of the time! If you go from the HoF to the Draft, we have nine months where we obsess about football!)

In all seriousness, I’m actually going to be watching the Arena Bowl – try and get myself into it.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, NY Yankees @ Boston (ESPN). GAA-GAA IT’S THE SOX AND THE YANKEES GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!11!111!!111!!!!!!111!1!!eleven!

Getting the house in order when the visitors are already here

So it seems we have a few more readers now than we did a week ago, especially with a second LiveJournal linking to us. Yesterday and the day before, Da Blog had nine times more visitors than it did the day before that, so it seems some housekeeping is in order.

First: RSS feeds. The-zaniak has created a LiveJournal feed for Da Blog, and my response is: Um… you do know Blogger comes with its own RSS feed, right? If you have IE 7 or Firefox, you should see an RSS icon light up when you see the page. (I can only speak to IE there; I don’t know how it works for Firefox.) Unless I get something else cool from having an LJ feed, it seems a bit unnecessary. This has prompted me to add feed links to the sidebar. (If you wanted to create an LJ feed, you’d have done better to create one for Sandsday. I’d create one myself if I knew how to create an RSS feed from a pre-existing MySQL database.)

I’ve also posted in the past on the idea of Da Blog as a collection of sub-blogs, and as such I’ve also added a list of all of Da Blog’s labels to the sidebar. They come complete with their own feeds; this post explains how you can form them. Both those new sidebar items are right below the larger blog archive, which makes them, and Da Blog Poll, less visible.

I’m also re-opening and extending by one week one of Da Blog Poll questions, removing the Random Internet Discovery from the list of options and replacing it with the fairly self-explanatory “Explorations into History”, which could include such things as my opinion on the presidents. Although I have saved the other results to a personal file, if you are one of the three people that have voted on the poll before, I strongly urge doing so again. If you vote “other” I expect you to specify what you have in mind on this post (where you can also learn more about the options) or this one. This is probably the last time I’m going to re-open this particular poll, which has existed in some form almost since Da Blog was founded. I’m also giving you until the end of August 16 to tell me whether you think I should post every time I put up a new strip. You can vote on any or all of the poll questions. I also encourage you to contribute to the poll on the front page of the web site.

Also, after nearly a year since the Web site was put up, I’ve finally deleted the long-dormant Da Blog Poll from the days when Blogger didn’t have its own poll element.

Finally, I’m offering you the chance to have your name in lights, as long as you won’t get paid for it, at least not right away. If you’re a movie buff – and not just the “Spiderman” kind, but one with a real grasp of film history – I invite you to join my 100 Greatest Movies Project, my seemingly endless quest to create the definitive list of greatest movies from all the ones that have come before, to sing the praises of the movies that make the list. E-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com if you’re interested and I’ll show you a sample write-up and a list of movies that are either on the list or close enough to make it on when I retabulate the list (or at some point in the future when new lists come out). I used the same principle in creating the NFL SuperPower Rankings, and released lists for last year, but it proved to be too much work. If you’re an NFL buff, and you’re willing to put in the work, you can have it for your own website as long as you credit me with the idea, and I’ll link to you on Da Blog.

And if you have any other ideas for what the web site or Da Blog could use, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

UPDATE 7/25: Okay, this is why I have long thought about leaving Blogger, because of unnecessary bullshit. Evidently for the last 24 hours the reposted poll and the two new features were at the top of the sidebar even though I had THOUGHT I had saved their moves. Then when I was told I had changes I hadn’t saved, it wouldn’t save, and then it would tell me “an error occured” no matter what I did after that. lk asfdasilnbg grlkldoe m,x bjfk dsndihtsgugvwbgjwhidxdyf

A seeming contradiction

If there’s one thing you can count on when you go to the library, it’s that you will be asked to talk in whispers – that’s one of the number one stereotypes about libraries.

But it’s also said that it’s a good idea to take your little kid to the library.

If you’ve ever been around little kids, especially those under the age of three, I think you can see the problem.

This must be what Eric Burns felt after Scott Kurtz gave him such glowing praise and hits.

Wow. Wow.

David Morgan-Mar went beyond just commenting on one of my posts this time, linking to my Darths and Droids review with a thumbs-up on his LiveJournal. (And I didn’t even ask for the link!) Between that and Morgan-Mar’s various LJ friends, I got 60 hits yesterday and I’m already approaching that mark today, numbers Da Blog has never heard of outside football season.

So a quick welcome to new readers and a polite request to read my various other posts, on webcomics or otherwise. Of course I also invite you to check out my web site, link is on the top of the sidebar.

Random Internet Discovery of the Week

Well, I’ve decided that until the poll is closed, I’m setting StumbleUpon to check all topics - even though that often leaves me without anything to say - and here’s why.

I have my toes dipped in a lot of fields. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are often groups of sites that all tend to have the same group of regulars. It’s fairly rare, though, for those regulars to really cross over into fields that are too different. It’s rare for me to encounter someone from a webcomic board on a political board, or a sports board.

One thing that I hope to do with Da Blog is to connect various different groups together and expose them to vastly different viewpoints, and a variety of fandoms. I hope that large, disparate groups can come and cross-pollinate, become exposed to new ideas and experiences, and come out richer for the experience. That’s part of the reason why I’ve conceived of Da Blog as a collection of smaller sub-blogs.

So we begin with a brief history of the Middle East through the people who have conquered it, which reminds me of David Horsey’s “Brief History of the Holy Land“.