As for the plot… what can I say? It’s a plot.

(From Girl Genius. Click for full-sized discussions of idiocy.)

This post, like the last one, has nothing to do with politics or voting, so if you just came in yesterday and you have no interest in this sort of thing, just skip past it. If you’re the sort of person who only ever came to Da Blog for the webcomic reviews, I have an OOTS review down the pipe for next week – which will essentially be a moment in time; I’ll recap my thoughts on the past few strips, probably running through #600 – and that’ll be it until the week after the election.

Phil and Kaja Foglio are miniature Gods of the webcomic community for their decision to switch Girl Genius from a print comic book to a fairly standard full-page webcomic – a decision that implicitly validated the webcomic form as a viable form, and which, to hear Phil tell it, partly came out of a feeling that the Internet was a good business model for comics and partly out of a financial crunch.

But what Phil and Kaja actually did was take the stories they were already writing for the comic book and just release them page-by-page to the web. The result shows, as the strip is rather clearly plotted with the comic book in mind, and there are some strips that make little sense on their own, including at least one splash page. A splash page that leads to another strip that tells us little that we didn’t learn in the previous strip. While following Girl Genius for the past two weeks, I often found myself looking back at the previous strip to see how we got to where we are in this strip. In essence, Phil and Kaja are still writing a comic book, not a comic strip – or rather, are writing a graphic novel rather than a comic strip.

It’s almost like, somewhat appropriately, in Victorian days where writers like Charles Dickens would publish chapters from their coming novels in serial forms in popular magazines – only that really describes the model that has seemed to be the status quo in print comic books, and what Phil and Kaja are doing is to release their novel a paragraph at a time. What I’m trying to say is, the result is rather awkward. When you have different media, you have different expectations and mechanisms for moving the story forward, and the Foglios are using a… different mechanism to say the least. Not that I fault them for doing so – that’s what they set out to do, and especially given the serious nature of the subject matter, they can’t be expected to change to a more episodic form. And they have certainly adjusted their style from the print comics, pages from which have been assigned what appear to me to be arbitrary dates and placed in the archive. Read from the beginning and it’s obvious this was never intended to be released in an episodic form – the story establishes itself too slowly. That’s why most webcomics start with a strip-a-day format and undergo Cerebus Syndrome later.

If there’s any strip that has managed to balance the episodic format of the web with the coherent storytelling of the print format, it’s – guess who! – Order of the Stick. Every strip is a coherent strip in itself, with its own gag wrapping it up, yet also makes sense as a page in a larger book. To pull this off, Rich Burlew will sometimes release multiple pages at once as double or even triple pages, and is flexible enough in the format that he’ll even pull infinite canvas techniques that would be difficult to pull off on the printed page. The Foglios would benefit from double or triple strips on occasion, but that would increase their workload as they’d then have to complete another page faster.

It’s just that I’d be a bit amazed if – as, paradoxically enough, I suspect they do – they had an audience that was much more than just the people along from the print comics, especially ones that hadn’t already taken the massive archive binge, as the pace of the story and the incompleteness of the fragments would likely turn anyone else off from trying to follow it day-by-day.

College Football Schedule: Week 6

This post has nothing to do with politics. The rankings are based on my own college football ranking formula. I worked on this before most of the games of the weekend were completed, and only started moving stuff around once all the games were over. All times Eastern.

Top 25 Games
#6 Kentucky @ #1 *Alabama 3:30 CBS
#2 Oklahoma @ Baylor 12:30 FSN
#3 Texas @ Colorado 8 PM FSN
#4 *Missouri @ #8 Nebraska 9 PM ESPN
#5 Penn State @ Purdue Noon ESPN
*Oregon State @ #7 Utah 9 PM TH VS.
Texas A&M @ #9 Oklahoma State 7 PM
#11 Ball State @ Toledo 7 PM CSD.TV
Auburn @ #12 Vanderbilt 6 PM ESPN
Oregon @ #13 USC 8 PM ABC
Ohio State @ #14 Wisconsin 8 PM ABC
#15 Florida @ Arkansas 12:30 R’com/Y’hoo
#16 Kansas @ Iowa State 12:30 VS.
Iowa @ #17 Michigan State Noon ESPN2
#18 BYU @ Utah State 8 PM FR BYUTV/KJZZ
#19 Texas Tech @ Kansas State 3:30 ABC
Pittsburgh @ #20 South Florida 7:30 TH ESPN
Rice @ #21 Tulsa 8 PM CBS CS
San Diego State @ #22 TCU 6 PM mtn.
Arizona State @ #24 California 3:30 ABC
Watchlist and Other Positive B Point Teams
Connecticut @ North Carolina 7 PM ESPN2
Louisiana Tech @ Boise State 8 PM WE ESPN
Indiana @ Minnesota Noon BTN
Duke @ Georgia Tech Noon ESPNU
Western Kentucky @ Virginia Tech 1:30 CBSCS XXL
Stanford @ Notre Dame 2:30 NBC
South Carolina @ Mississippi 3:30 Gameplan
Florida State @ Miami (FL) 3:30 ABC
Boston College @ NC State Noon Raycom
Navy @ Air Force 4 PM VS.
Washington @ Arizona 7:30 VS.
Hawaii @ Fresno State 7 PT Gameplan
Northern Illinois @ Tennessee 7 PM Gameplan
This Week’s Other HD Games
Florida Atlantic @ Middle Tenn. St. 8 PM TU ESPN2
Cincinnati @ Marshall 8 PM FR ESPN
Maryland @ Virginia 7 PM ESPNU
Washington State @ UCLA 7 PT FSN/FCS
Big Ten
Illinois @ Michigan 3:30 ABC/ESPN2
Big East
Rutgers @ West Virginia Noon ESPN+
Mountain West
UNLV @ Colorado State 2 PM mtn.
Wyoming @ New Mexico 9:30 mtn.
Akron @ Kent State Noon ESPN+
Ohio @ Western Michigan 2 PM CSD.TV
Temple @ Miami (OH) 3:30 Gameplan
Eastern Michigan @ Bowling Green 4 PM CSD.TV
Conference USA
Memphis @ UAB 8 PM TH CBS CS
SMU @ Central Florida 3:30 CBS CS
UTEP @ Southern Miss 7 PM CBSCS XXL
Alcorn State @ New Mexico State 1:30
Nevada @ Idaho 5 PM CSD.TV
Sun Belt
Florida International @ North Texas 7 PM ESPN+
Louisiana-Lafayette @ Louisiana-Monroe 7 PM CSD.TV
Bowl Subdivision
Army @ Tulane 3 PM CST

Nothing else matters. This is the ONE THING you should vote on.

What is the most important issue in this election?

Is it the war in Iraq? Health care for all? Illegal immigration? Surely it’s the economy, right?


The most important issue in this election, the one that cannot be ignored under any circumstances, is global warming and climate change.

I don’t care whether you believe in it or not, never mind that it’s been confirmed to hell and back and the real debate is whether man caused it. To me, it’s as simple as Pascal’s Wager. If you believe global warming exists, and it turns out it doesn’t, maybe you’ve spent some money on some things you didn’t strictly need. Not the first time humans have done that. Maybe you even benefit from making those preparations. You reduce our dependence on foreign oil and thus our dependence on countries that hate us. You could just plain improve the quality of life for the average American.

Particularly important in these times, you could stimulate the economy with the investment. I don’t want to hear Republicans whining to me about how we should “let the market decide” and “government interference is bad” and about how if we wanted solar and wind, the market would have made us all convert a long time ago. Horseshit. Coal and oil have been subsidized for years; a true “free-market” Republican would repeal those subsidies today, but of course, they won’t. Any economist will tell you that when the economy gets tough, the best way to bring it out of the doldrums is to spend government money on investment, not tax cuts, because government investments create jobs and the government not only spends money on the people, it also directly buys from American companies who pass on the money they make to their employees.

But if you decide global warming doesn’t exist and you don’t need to do anything? And it turns out it does? Then… then you’re screwed. Here‘s just a short summary of what could happen: more extreme weather conditions on both ends of the spectrum (don’t you dare get the snowstorm of the century and say “what global warming?”), tropical regions (which means mostly third world countries) becoming desert and formerly fridgid climates becoming the world’s new breadbasket, rising sea levels resulting in catastrophe for coastal cities and maybe even wiping out small, low-lying islands, declining oxygen in the world’s oceans causing a complete breakdown in the global ecosystem, droughts galore and increased salt penetration into groundwater, diseases, all leading to more conflicts around the globe like what’s going on in Darfur, maybe even the release of methane from the world’s oceans and from Siberia potentially contributing further to global warming until the whole planet essentially becomes Venus. Oh, and it could mean more illegal immigrants crossing our border, more Iraq conflicts, and universal healthcare suddenly seeming like a quaint utopian goal.

You invest in stopping global warming, you help bring the economy out of what now looks like inevitable if not in-progress recession – you don’t invest in stopping global warming, and the recession may never end. Some studies suggest we may pass a “tipping point” at which warming would become unstoppable within five to ten years – if we’re not threatening to pass it already!

Wake up, world! There is no such thing as too much climate impact mitigation too fast! Let’s quit bickering between parties and nations and get to work! Yes, let’s help China move off coal now, and let’s reduce our own impact on climate change, and let’s have Europe and all the other nations of the world reduce their own impacts on climate change as well! As a planet and as a species, we either drop everything right damn now and put every last one of our efforts towards moving to a clean energy future or we might as well commit global suicide – consequences be damned because no matter what the consequences may be, the impact of global warming could be and will be worse!

What we need is a president that will declare war on global warming, akin to the war on poverty, but with the same fervor and sense of national sacrifice that we brought to World War freakin’ Two! We need a president willing to drop everything and get to work, and we need to get it THIS election! Unfortunately, actually saying that while still a candidate is a good way to LOSE an election, but all I want to hear is a sort of intimation, through low-level channels, not even sufficient to leak out to the general public, but enough to let people like me know that a candidate knows the scope of the problem and that they are willing to declare all-out war on global warming, to an extent even Al Gore would be impressed by.

Very interesting. (To me at least.)

I noticed that the logo on at least the first couple of FSN college football broadcasts included a new logo… and regionalized games were shown as “FS Arizona” or “FS Big 12”.

Now it seems that the Oklahoma City Thunder will play on a renaming of FSN Southwest to… “FS Oklahoma“. Not FSN Oklahoma. Just plain FS Oklahoma.

I smell similar changes coming to other markets and maybe even the linewide update of FSN graphics I didn’t think was strictly implied, or necessarily possible.

Just a follow-up

I left links to my post earlier today on “The Importance of Voting” on Independent Political Report and Democratic Underground. I would prefer to have left a comment on a conservative site as well, but the only conservative site I’m really attached to is Newsbusters, which is not particularly wont to post anything connected enough to the subject for my comment to be particularly topical, given their focus on media bias.

I’m sure they’ll all be deleted as spam for the moment, because I don’t have much other than a single strip and a blog post that doesn’t say much more than the strip does. By the time of the election, there will be a great mass of posts and strips that would get excessively fawned on if I made another attempt.

I’m making a slight change to the underlying code for the strip that will become apparent when the new strip comes up.

UPDATE: Gah. Errors corrected. Remind me in the future to look at the page ANY time I change the PHP code, even if the changes shouldn’t show up yet.

The Importance of Voting

This is very important to me. I know all ten of you reading the strip probably aren’t reading it for this sort of thing, and most webcomiceers would probably say go ahead and leave if you don’t like it, but if you yourself are wondering, “Why would I want to vote?” – and even if you’re not – I implore you to stick around. Not only because I want the readers for my own ego, but because I feel very strongly about this and I feel everyone I’m trying to appeal to needs to read this.

I understand why you might not think it’s worth it to vote. Writing this, I found myself questioning my own desire to vote. It’s been suggested, in an academic setting, that the impact of voting is so infinitesimal that, if the cost of voting is anything at all, it’s not worth it to vote. Of course if no one votes, the system breaks down – not to mention there’s suddenly a reason to vote again, because your vote suddenly becomes super-decisive. That remains the case for the first four or five votes before the value of your vote starts sinking back down to “why bother?” levels. You can see why even a member of the hundred-strong United States Senate might wonder why he’d bother to show up for all but the most narrow, party-line votes. (Of course, his votes are public so there’s at least a little bit of incentive there.)

But over the next few weeks, leading up to the election, I aim to demonstrate why you – especially if you’re in my demographic and age group – SHOULD vote, and hopefully deconstruct every reason you might have NOT to vote. That’s the goal; if anyone has anything to add, any arguments I missed, they can e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com. You can also leave a comment (possibly on this post) if you have any suggestions fo the series. If, after reading this entire series, you’re still not convinced of the effiacy of voting, you can leave a comment as well and I’ll aim to take care of any concerns you may have.

The Angst-O-Meter: Day 3 or Conclusion

(From Ctrl+Alt+Del. Click for full-sized surprises.)
This will be the last Angst-O-Meter, at least for now… I’m about to launch into something big and webcomics posts are about to be curtailed sufficient to force me to stop. Neither of the conditions I set when I started are extant; I just need to save time.
Last time, I set the Angst-O-Meter at 62%. Since then:
  • Ethan met Shannon, Christian’s representative in absentia, and established her competence. I was concerned when Shannon announced her hatred of Christian that, despite the opening this now opened up for Ethan to escape some angst, it also opened up an opportunity for Ethan to find a little love and escape Lilah, offsetting those gains. So far, though, their relationship is purely strategic.
  • Meanwhile, Lucas attempted to get back on the dating scene, with disastrous results.
  • Ethan, post-strategy session, challenged Christian to find out who could run the store better. This was sort of a big bet on the strip’s angst: if Ethan won, the status quo would be restored; if Christian won, Ethan would “work for me for free for the rest of your life.” So a lot of the strip’s standing was at stake here.
  • Lucas managed to recover some semblance of normalcy by getting back in with Kate. So it looks like the strip is managing to bounce back from the dark days of earlier in the summer.

And then came today’s strip to shoot the Angst-O-Meter through the roof.

Ethan just lost everything he was counting on on the flop (Shannon won’t help even in subtle ways) and Christian just pushed him all-in (trying to get back with Lilah).

(Pardon the poker metaphors. I’ve just been trying to catch up on WSOP episodes.)

At this point, if Ethan loses this bet, it would send the Angst-O-Meter straight up to 100% and it would be game over anyway. There are only two reasons I’m not sending the Angst-O-Meter well over 75%: Lucas getting back with Kate and the fact that somehow, someway, Ethan has to win this bet for the sanity of the strip.

Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if Christian won, given what Buckley has said in the past.

So the Angst-O-Meter, for now, jumps up to 72% on its last edition until at least after the election… and even if I would otherwise feel like picking it up afterwards, I might not under the ground rules I set for it anyway.

Five weeks in the books in college football…

If you had Week 4 in your “First Lineal Title Change” pool, collect your prize! If you had Week 4 in your “First Lineal Title Held By A Team That’s Not Unbeaten” pool, collect your prize! If you had both… you obviously saw the Oregon State upset of USC coming (or you saw Mississippi State beating LSU, or you had Alabama losing by now).

It’s funny… before Georgia beat Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl to unify it with the Auburn Title, the 2004 Utah Title was, in a way, the “mid-major” title. Now, if Utah beats the Beavers this week, the 2007 Boise State title, another title created by a mid-major BCS buster, could serve the same role – only going through Washington, Ohio State, Illinois, USC, and Oregon State first. As for Bama, although this means the Auburn-Utah and BCS titles are now both held in the same division, it’s a long road to unification – LSU must beat Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tulane (two of those teams are ranked), while Bama must face Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Arkansas State (one of those teams is ranked and another is in positive B Points). It would actually have been a shorter road if Georgia had won, as Georgia would have had to face only Tennessee and Vandy, but Vandy is still ranked. Bama really runs the risk of losing to Kentucky this week, and if that were to happen we’d need another loss or a Kentucky-LSU title game for unification before the bowls, but the game is at home and Bama can handle the pressure.

Lineal title updates and the new C Ratings, including stylesheet changes and most logos, are now up (or should be up by the time 45 minutes have passed from the timestamp on this post). No logos past R for now, and UConn will have to wait for the Us. Many of the changes are a result of the ratings being more volatile early in the season.

I think I figured out why I couldn’t load more than two files at a time in Freehostia’s new file manager: it only opens up a new line if you put something new in the first line, not any later lines. So if I change the file in the first line, I get a new line, but not if I put something in the line I would normally put it in. Which sucks.

It doesn’t help that the closest non-university supplier of USB drives that I know of has such a limited selection.

If you use USB drives… and you’re fed up with losing caps and thinking of getting a retractable connector… and you want your USB drives to last a long time… especially if you store your stuff on them…

…then no matter how tempted you may be, do NOT pick up a SanDisk Cruzer Micro, especially the cheap kind. Most of the complaints I’ve read online have to do with the “U3” feature, but I have read a few people who, like me, have had a problem with the drive failing. Before this one, I’ve used four different USB drives, and all either stopped working (due to lost caps and bent connectors, or in one case, a connector that slid in and out) or got lost… but NONE failed anywhere near as fast as this one, which I got in May or June, and which failed in late August. I read one review that said not to press your hands on the part that slides in and out; unfortunately, I kinda have to to slide the drive into my computer, because it’s not a perfect fit.

So I’ve sent that drive in to two different companies promising to fix it right up. Unfortunately, the first told me they couldn’t do it, and the second told me they couldn’t do it without doing an advanced recovery procedure that will set me back $825… if it works. And $150 if it doesn’t.

I was panicking when the drive stopped working. It contained everything I had worked on (and was able to recover from my laptop’s old hard drive) that wasn’t on the web site or my desktop dating back to April of 2007. A list of books I was going to recommend/ask for… a file I was thinking of using for tracking election results… some other things too personal for me to mention and/or that I’ve just plain forgotten about… and perhaps most importantly of all, almost every ounce of work I had done on the 100 Greatest Movies Project… all threatened to be gone. But when I was confronted with that price tag, I was actually considering cutting my losses and walking away. Maybe I could find the previous USB drive and it would have most but not all of the things I was dreading losing.

I can cover it – thanks to a recent influx of cash associated with the start of the school year – but I’m not happy about it and I’m going to attempt to discern every penny I may make in the future from recovering this stuff, just so I can find out if it turns out to be worth it. And I may be about to attempt to make some money back right now. Unfortunately, I have heard bad things about PayPal but I don’t know of any real competitors to it, so if you are willing to give me any sort of donation, e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com and let me know so I know if it would be worth it to establish the account.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 9/27-28

All times PDT. All college football rankings reflect my C Ratings for teams in positive B Points.

9-12 PM: College Football, Northwestern @ Iowa (ESPN Classic). Three teams in my top 25 and a team not in the top 25 but ranked ahead of either one of these two could conceivably go in this spot. But none of them are playing teams in positive B Points, and this might be a game to take that leap into the top 25, especially for Northwestern. Wait… Northwestern’s actually good?!?

12-2 PM: WNBA Basketball, Los Angeles @ San Antonio (NBA TV). Wait… a conference finals game on NBA TV? And it might be the deciding game?!?

Honorable Mention: 12:30-4 PM: MLB Baseball, regional action (FOX). All the hot playoff chase action! Too bad everything’s probably already determined.

4:45-8 PM: College Football, #1 Alabama @ defending 2004 Auburn-Utah title holder #6 Georgia (ESPN). Boy, how about my prediction on last week’s Watcher that Alabama would be “surprisingly strong”? Isn’t this two straight weeks CBS has screwed up the best SEC game? Not that Tennessee-Auburn is bad, per se…

10:30-3 PM: PGA Tour Golf, THE TOUR Championship (NBC). The end of the playoff system that’s nothing like a playoff that no one cares about.

Honorable Mention: 11-3 PM: NASCAR Sprint Cup Racing, Kansas race (ABC).

5:15-8:30 PM: NFL Football, Philadelphia @ Chicago (NBC). A mediocre team and a team that was mediocre last year. But at least you got the big time markets!