Archive for the ‘Randomness’ Category

Porn Presidency

Posted: October 17, 2016 in Randomness

Hillary Clinton truly loves to go after Trump for being a misogynist. But let’s take a look at Clinton family politics with a little bit of, lets say, what’s good for the goose is good for the Bill. Back when we had a Clinton as President he bragged about his economic growth policies that left us with a budget surplus rather than the nearly 20 Trillion dollar deficit we now have.

“Information technology only includes 8 percent of our employment, but now it counts for a third of our economic growth — along with jobs that pay, by the way, about 80 percent above the private sector average.” Bill Clinton, 2000 State of the Union Address

What Bill failed to mention in his little braggadocio moment of economic growth and prosperity was something we now know as not only a cultural phenomenon but it’s emblazoned into the historical origins of the Internet it’self; The Internet is for Porn. Even today, over 12% of all websites are still pornographic. 42.7% of internet users view porn consuming 35% of all internet bandwidth by over 70 million people per month.

In the late 90’s, very little commerce existed on the Internet except for porn. In the adult industry there were fewer than 2500 adult film titles produced every year. Now there are over 20,000 yearly.  It was a bubble in the billions. US Census bureau records from those years show that the industry generated over $2.5b billion in new revenue year after year according to Forms and accounted for 80% of the growth of the Internet itself. Now that industry is over 4.5 billion in the US alone and quickly approaching $100 billion globally with every single media company having cached in on the impossible to resist market, including Disney. In the past decade, 80% of porn consumption has become free with technology companies transitioning to selling data in order to capitalize on the low/free cost of porn and it now drives 89% of US data consumption.

In other words, Clinton credited the success of his presidency, the prosperity of our country on the rapid, global expansion of porn. Together with the “Father of the Internet”, Clinton’s V.P., Al Gore, the Clinton presidency really should be known as the Porn Presidency. It was the key milestone of the economic success of the country, his presidency and ultimately our entire current economy.

Now what was it that Hillary had to say about what she has done for women?

I find it personally laughable that anyone by the name of Clinton would criticize anyone for how they treat women and simultaneously attack the spouse of a political opponent for having worked in the milder side of adult entertainment (artistic nude modeling). After all, it’s all thanks to her husband and her efforts during his presidency.

So thank you Clinton for porn! At least we have something for free to entertain those who don’t have jobs thanks to to NAFTA; if they can pay their cell phone bills.

Once upon a time, in a land without the Internet, there was a publisher and editor who worked with an artist to convey an idea not with words but with pictures. The impact of this social commentary was so powerful and important that it became interwoven into the very fabric of our national discussion on a daily basis in the form of the editorial cartoon. These cartoonists, while not necessarily achieving rock-star like fame with the public, played an equally important role to the journalists who put word to paper and informed us about the world around us. These artists gave us context, perspective and impact along with a kind of social rallying cry, that words no matter how eloquently or impactful, simply couldn’t accomplish.

Then along came the spider. As the web grew, like most everyone else, editorial cartoonists were slow to jump on the digital publishing bandwagon. They likely didn’t join MySpace, were reluctant to start using Facebook and still most don’t use Twitter or other social media networks. The fact is, this is partially due to their undying love of print media. After all, it has served them so well for so long and they owe their careers to the medium. Why abandon it now?

That little web spider got bigger and eventually gobbled up most of the Internet and as a result, we have Google and Facebook, which by all accounts, make up the vast majority of the way people find their news now. The print industry is shrinking and the digital media world is a maelstrom of chaotic information with no real editorial guidance. Yes, newspapers have gone digital and some with great popularity. Yet by and large, the cartoonists who once played an equally important role alongside their journalists counterparts have been absent in their own role to engage themselves in the digital conversation. Meanwhile another new highly enigmatic medium of expression has popped up in that void and taken hold of the new generations attention. Possibly with the result of drowning out the once prolific social status of the editorial cartoonist.

Let’s take the current events in Syria for example. As events have unfolded over the past month cartoonist began to weigh in on the issue. However, it might be that their opinions were already shaped by the greater social commentary and discussion already being had in the memeverse. Thankfully Google Trends gives some great insight into this issue. Comparing “syria cartoon” to “syria meme” over the past month, it’s becomes explicitly clear that the general audience is no longer looking for the views of editorial cartoonists as a key visual commentary on the issue but rather to the memetically inclined. Knowing this can be frustrating for those of us who not only enjoy editorial cartoons but depend on them for a living because it’s our industry. Even more frustrating is the fact that, I would guess, most cartoonists don’t even realize the window of opportunity to recapture the audience is closing rapidly.

Internally, cartoonists squabble about the journalistic ethics of re-purposing even their own work, creative laziness in repeating their own ideas or taking each other’s’ ideas, the ethical implications of copyright infringements, the declining staff cartoonist positions at newspapers and a variety of other issues that matter only to those stuck in an era bordered by black ink and grey paper. Meanwhile, in the void of their participation in the digital discussion that has drowned out national interests, propelled revolutions both in the real world and the virtual worlds, the meme generators of today have usurped the once powerful voice the cartoonists had themselves and are quickly, chaotically running roughshod over their future.

Even still, memes aren’t the only competition editorial cartoonists face. If a meme and a chart had a child it would be an infographic. The proliferation of interest into infographics rivals that of even it’s predecessors and they are getting easier to make all the while diluting both the visibility and impact that editorial cartoons have on our national political dialogue.

So here’s my own personal challenge to you great stalwarts of editorial cartooning; make a meme, put out an infographic, stretch your medium, your art, your creativity and engage in the digital conversation as if there were no such thing as a daily newspaper. If you want the art form to survive the digital tidalwave, you need to figure out how to attract the attention of my 12 year old son, who is taking a Jr. High level publishing class and being taught by a 30 something digital media junkie who has a meme poster from Philosoraptor plastered on the wall behind his desk. The new generation barely even knows how to get or buy a newspaper but they learn to use Google pretty fast.

I was reading over Daryl Cagle’s blog post today on the Lemmings and thinking about the recent controversy over in the editorial cartoon industry with the concept of cartoonists repurposing old cartoons and ideas, e.g. self-plagiarism. I noticed a large correlation between this journalistic conundrum of professionalism and the ability of cartoonists to stay relevant with one of the biggest competitive challenges cartoonists face in the industry; meme’s.

For decades long, cartoonists have enjoyed a rather non-competitive space as free thinking journalists who, for all their seemingly unique perspective, frequently come across the same metaphor when covering a story. Daryl Cagle, owner of the Cagle Cartoons, Inc. content syndicate refers to this as the “Yahtzee” of cartooning. Some examples of this are the now ubiquitous Steve Jobs memorial cartoons with his silhouette cut out of the Apple logo. Daryl’s recent blog highlights his own reuse of the “lemmings” running off a cliff, when the metaphor seems appropriate. It’s not all that uncommon that humorists and critics come to the same metaphorical conclusion when looking for the obvious. In political cartooning, it is that very aspect that has sparked the debate about whether or not that’s professional editorial journalism or simply a shortcut taken to save time and pump out more work.

While that debate seems to rage on among the very small group of professional cartoonists that are able to hang on to their ever shrinking staff jobs in an effort to avoid being cast back into the world of independent publishing and illustration, there is another force silently encroaching upon the debate that seemingly has gone unnoticed or at least unchallenged by these artistic elites; the Internet Meme.

For those of you who don’t know what a “Meme” is, the term was first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 in an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. It is, in essence, an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. In a sense, it’s the metaphorical metaphor of a flu. To get a better idea of what a meme really is, think of some of the big ones, “Where’s the beef”, “This is your brain on drugs” were some popular meme’s around the world back before things became truly viral on the Internet. Now, thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, meme’s can become nearly pandemic in their ability to spread through the blogsphere and Internet.

This gave rise to the “Internet Meme” which, possibly, the most notable of which is simply “lol”, meaning “Laughing out loud” and with it, new words began to enter our language, much to the chagrin of our college English professors. In it’s simplicity, however, these little meme’s began to change our cultural landscape, our language and our art. As this form of speech has began to increase, it was inevitable that it was picked up by the youthful rebels of the blogsphere, a memeverse among itself, with a volcanic like explosion of meme’s pouring from it’s basement keyboards from sites like cheezeburger.com and reddit.com daily with no end in site.

So what does this all have to do with political cartoonists? If you were on Facebook or Twitter any time in the past year, you probably noticed a political cartoon or two, maybe three pass by your timeline. It’s more likely that your friends however have been sharing the unending stream of image based meme’s such as the Demotivational Posters, Lol Cats, Fail Blog, Victorian Greeting Cards or, well, the list seems nearly infinite. One of the simple problems that meme’s present is that technology has now elevated those previously without a pair of dice in the Yahtzee game to not only having the dice but being able to roll them more often.

Why do I say more often? As I said when I first started, some editorial cartoonists can and do, use common metaphors when the situation arises. It’s a time saver and it’s good for appealing to a large audience without making too sophisticated an argument for the average newsprint readers. That doesn’t mean however, that they aren’t keeping up on the issues and aren’t providing some honest journalistic insight. They do tend to be a news junkie type crowd. Along with that, they actually create, draw and produce art. This is a concept that, in this argument, is beginning to get lost because in an effort to put out good cartoons, they are now competing with the Jr. High School student with access to his free online meme generator tool.

As the old saying goes, (I wonder if this is a meme?) if you have enough monkeys all typing, eventually they would type out the works of Shakespeare. While that may actually be more of a myth than reality, the reality is, if you have enough college students, eventually they are going to come up with the same basic caption. While they may not be artists, they have tools like Google Images to find an image that accompanies their idea enough to get the point across.

As political cartoonists are challenged from within to maintain journalistic standards, their audience is both continually distracted and entertained by the lowest form of political journalism, the digital street meeme, with it’s often abrasive but effective capability to not only reach an audience but to convey the same principle messages as are found in some of the best political cartoons, one has to start asking the question; are political cartoonists losing their relevance and is that part of their own journalistic standards?

Editorial cartoons have to compete for the same audience. In order for the industry to stay alive, they have to be capable of connecting with people and in today’s world, that’s a large audience to connect with. Over the past year, the term “political cartoon” was overtaken in Google’s search by “political meme” along with the rise of the Infographics as a new player in the space of visual political journalism.

Few cartoonists have ventured into even beginning to use the common structures of political Internet Meme’s and even fewer probably understand them from the artistic or production level because they simply dismiss them. However, it’s almost like the dinosaur dismissing the humanoid for being small and insignificant. One of them survived, the other went extinct. I don’t recall having seen anyone with any scales or claws lately and I have to ask myself, if my son didn’t have a father that worked with editorial cartoons every day, would he even know what they were by the time he got into high school in just three short years?

The reality of that question is that he probably wouldn’t and that over the next few years, political meme’s are going to not only grow in prominance on the Internet, that means, eventually, it’s own idioms and style will influence the editors of print papers to a large degree as they begin to recognize that the audience they are trying to reach is looking for something different than what political cartoonists are offering.

So while cartoonists debate about whether or not it’s a professional or not to repurpose your own work or whether or not reusing the same basic cartoon, redrawing the same idea is the work of a hack or just part of the job, I think they should be asking themselves the following; am I going to be replace by a kid with an image search and a website? After all…

Meme

Residents of Anaheim, CA are familiar with the slight smell of smoke in the air from the nightly fireworks show put on by Disneyland, famous for it’s moniker as “The happiest place on earth!” Last night however, residents were not just hearing the pop and crackle of the fireworks they were used to. It was the popcorn spattering of police gunfire in the downtown community as riot police took to the streets to disperse protesters outraged about a string of lethal police shootings in the city.

The first thing I heard was the unusually large number of helicopters. Living near the freeway on the border of Anaheim and Fullerton, I generally ignore them. I was spending time in the evening with my son and girlfriend when I started to get multiple texts from local friends asking if I was okay, which I was. I was aware of the shootings but not what had happened yesterday and over the weekend. I looked for news on local channels but as usual that’s not a very reliable source. So social media filled in the gaps very quickly.

Thanks to a friend over at Inside Fullerton it wasn’t long before I was watching the live video feed of TimCast, an amateur journalist on uStream. While KCAL9 and Telemundo reporters were on scene, they were watching from a relatively safe distance among their own personal security. Tim Pool, however, was not so timid in his reporting as he followed the protesters without the safety of being behind the police line. Ultimately, he and another social media journalist were shot at with less than lethal weapons by police, continuing to take fire after attempting to flee (adhering to the dispersal) and at one point being pinned down by gunfire unable to flee without risking injury. The story told by Tim Pool’s cast is a bit different than what you will see out of the manstream media or press.

I learned today that according to Anaheim police, over 1000 people ultimately gathered outside and inside city hall. When they were told to disperse, the crowd pushed back but gave ground. For a few hours the protest was allowed to continue but was eventually declared an unlawful assembly and ordered to disburse. The situation quickly devolved into what was immediately declared a violent protest and a riot. Angry residents who felt they had not been given a voice or opportunity to be heard by the city council were pushed out into the streets by police. Yes, they set trash cans on fire, blocked a few intersections and then there was that all too familiar sound of gunfire as police began to fire less than lethal rounds into the crowd.

While one might want to think this was a normal police action, it gives a person pause when they understand what happened just a few days prior that is conveniently excluded from most news stories on the events just following the fatal shooting of Manuel Diaz. Local residents, angry at the brutality of the shooting, expressed their outrage at the police who quickly lost control of the situation when residents began throwing water bottles. The police response to a public outcry against police brutality was itself, inexplicably brutal. Imagine police, firing indiscriminately into a crowd of men, women and children, including infants. Imagine letting a K9 loose into the crowd. This was not an orderly dispersal of an unruly crowd. It’s not something you have to imagine because it was caught on tape.

According to witnesses, a five year old girl was shot in the eye with a less than lethal round. Another young girl came forward to say that she was shot in the leg. Take that in for a moment. Are these “rioters” or are these actually children? Ask yourself what kind of mentality it takes to follow an order to fire rounds into a crowd that includes children in large numbers; in their neighborhood. This just makes no sense but it happened.

I would be remiss if I didn’t express my personal and vehement outrage at the idea, much less the reality, of police opening fire into a crowd that included children much less letting a K9 loose whether it was an intentional order or not. I don’t much care if the K9 units involvement was unintentional as the police seem to have claimed or how quickly the K9 unit was restrained. You don’t use dogs on children. You don’t point guns at children.

Unless I’m mistaken, we as a society, haven’t tolerated the shooting of an unarmed man in the back, ever. Even in the 1800’s, the days of the wild west, it wasn’t legal for an officer of the law to shoot a man in the back. Those that did became outlaws themselves and often met their end at the gallows. Today, in the 21st Century, we give them paid administrative leave and far too often look the other way.

Police, yet again, attempting to disperse the crowd outside city hall on Tuesday, failed to do so without ultimately again using gunfire and it’s no surprise the protesters turned into rioters. All in all, the actual physical damage caused by the rioters was minimal with the bulk of damage to “persons and property” being done by the Police themselves. A Starbucks and a few other local businesses windows were smashed in, a few very small fires were started and a few people received minor injuries aside from those shot by the police. The Anaheim police reported that they had arrested over 24 people in relation to the riot. Some of those arrests include a few skater youth detained without much cause at the VONS late in the evening as can be seen on the TimCast archive.

While the mother of Manuel Diaz, the man shot in the back and the head by police officers, has filed a 50 million dollar lawsuit in federal court she also made statements to encourage the community to end the violence on both sides.

Sadly, this is not the beginning of this story nor is this the first time the residents of Anaheim cried out for justice against police brutality. This is the second police shooting in a week and the fifth so far this year along with a string of suicides and strange deaths occurring in Orange County jails. Anyone who has lived in Anaheim or nearby knows that racial tensions between the police and the Latino community have never been good but now they are on the verge of a complete breakdown as tensions mount over the shootings. I’ve lived in this town for over a decade and the Latino community is strong here but it is far from the happiest place on earth. Protests against police brutality in Anaheim goes far back as the 1978 Little People’s Park Riot which bares striking similarities to the incident that occurred this past Saturday when police shot into the crowd of women and children. Following the 1978 riot many changes took place in department policy but it’s fairly evident that over the years those policies have not kept in stride with the community nor helped to alleviate the racial tensions between the now dominant Lantino community of Anaheim and the Police department that is sworn to protect and serve them.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the police department to protect and serve the public; their public. Even more importantly, to protect the innocent and the law abiding residents of Anaheim and at an absolute minimum, the children within this community. What strikes me as most appalling about this entire story is that which is best said by the very children who were involved. These are, after all, the next generation of this community. No matter what happens, they deserve a strong, peaceful community and it’s up to us to make sure that they get it.

It’s difficult to say whether or not this incident and the outrage of local residents will have any impact on policy or local government here in Anaheim. However residents have their neighbors in Fullerton to draw inspiration from. After the horrifically brutal, deadly beating of Kelly Thomas, a local homeless and mentally ill man, by Fullerton police officers, Fullertonians united and took to the streets in peaceful protest forming what has now been dubbed as “Kelly’s Army”. In the end, that peaceful but outraged movement ousted the Fullerton police and city council members who failed to serve the community and sought justice for Kelly’s family. I would hope that the residents of Anaheim can draw from the example of Fullerton and rather than take their rage to the streets that they take their city back, ballot by ballot rather than block by block.

Then someday, maybe the children who live here can call it the happiest place on earth.

Posted: April 13, 2012 in Randomness

“Down & Pretty Close To Out In Grand Cayman” column on Romney went viral, check it out: http://ping.fm/0uy0Z

The 100-Year March of Technology in 1 Graph – The Atlantic.

Just imagine where we might be in a few hundred years from now. I don’t think this is sustainable and eventually we will have to adopt a completely new paradigm or possibly resort to an older one. Production and consumption without restoration just doesn’t make sense.

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Randomness

Mike Wallace Tribute Cartoons
http://ping.fm/Zx2q4

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Randomness

I hope everyone has a fantastic, safe and fun holiday weekend!

Hello world!

Posted: December 9, 2008 in Randomness

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