Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ernie Banks

In an era long since mired in big money, performance enhancing drugs and "professionals" who simultaneously treat it like it's no more than a job, but then act like prima-donnas anyway, it is sad to hear of the passing of yet one more who played and treated the sport as it was meant to be, always having fun and remembering that it was first and foremost a game.

1931 - 2015

Rest in peace, Ernie.  The good news is that there IS baseball in heaven. The bad news is that you're starting at Short today.  Have fun, and "Let's play two."



Monday, January 5, 2015

Hall of Fame Results out tomorrow!

No politics tonight. BASEBALL time!



In additon to John Smoltz, I'd like to wish the best of luck to the rest of my ten picks: Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Fred McGriff, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell.

And yes, I'm observing the BWAA's current practice of snubbing those most associated with PED usage, but Roger Clemens, Mark McGawire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds would have my vote otherwise, and will probably have my vote eventually, once we've put that all behind us.

Good luck to everyone, especially Trammell, with only one ballot remaining, and Don Mattingly who will appear on the ballot for the final time.

I'm certainly no Keith Olbermann, but I get by. ;)

BTW, for those who don't know, ERA+ = leagueERA / ERA x 100. (For example an ERA+ of 120 is 20% better than the league average.)

...and to anyone STILL scratching their heads, ERA = Earned Runs / Inning Pitched x 9.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Interview with Terra Snover



Terra, thanks for taking the time to do this with me. How long have you  been drawing comics?
I have been making comics from the young age of 5, back then they were  nonsensical and impossible to follow, but I made boatloads of them  anyway. In middle school and high school I joined my school paper and started making strips for said papers. Just a gag a day stuff, but it was the first time a lot of people saw my work. It wasn't until I met Colin Ringie, in high school, that I started to take making comics super seriously. He is a wonderful writer and we decided to make a web comic together, we named it "happy but dead" and it was nuts very all over the place, characters died came back to life, lived in parks, ran a porn, liquor and gun shop, like I said nuts. That comic ran for about 5 or 6 years until college became too much for me and I needed to drop it.

Any other works out there that we should check out?

The only one I would like people to see is Screamland I did coloring for that one in college and I'm super proud of that comic. The other comics I did are offline and not to see the light of day again.
Even The Humans Must Die?
Oh yeah, the 24 hour comic. I try and do the 24 hour comic each year and 90% of the time I enjoy doing it.
Is that for a Con?
(checked it out) 24 pages in 24 hours?! Holy crap, when I I did my own web comic, I could barely get a page out in 3 hours to a whole afternoon!

Hard but fun

Do have any particular artistic influences?

Yes a lot of them, but if I had to pick one I would go with my mentor Hector Casanova, he was my illustration teacher in college and he took me under his wing. Showing me that my artistic talent was not limited to just another anime artist.

Other people on my list include but is not limited to:
 Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop
 Hayao Miyazaki, of studio Studio Ghibli
 And Craig McCracken of the Power Puff Girls and Foster's Home for Imagery Friends.

I was a big fan of McCracken myself back in the PPG and Foster's days.  It amazes me now to think about how long ago that was! I'm also HUGE fan of Miyazaki's work. We've raised our kids on his films as much as we have with Pixar and Star Wars, so I've got to know: What's your favorite Miyazaki film?

Whisper of the Heart, it's a wonderful slice of life movie, slow, intelligent, and cute.
That is a good one. And not one that quite as many people are familiar with - and very different from his more well-known fare.
Your favorite anime?

Last exile. One of the best anime I have ever seen. The story is a lot of fun, the animation is almost perfect, and the music is well done.
There's a lot I want to ask you about Mock Girl, but first of all, Spunko the Clown... Seriously, girl, what the hell is wrong with you?! OK, Sorry... What's the inspiration here? He seriously creeps me out!



I love that character, he originally was going to be a one-shot character that maybe come back now and then, but writing for him was so much fun I had to keep him around. He is creepy, he's nuts, he that extra bit of chaos that any good webcomic needs.

Yeeeeaaaah...
...no, I'm sorry, that's pretty messed up!

As far as inspiration there wasn't much of one. When I needed a scary character for a comic I just asked myself what are people freaked out by, and clown was the only thing I could think of that I could easily fit into my story.

About the title, "Mock Girl..." Am I mistaken, or does that sound a bit like a transphobic slur?

Yes it is, and I have not heard the end of it. A week doesn't go by where I don’t get an email about it. But there is a reason I chose it.  Because if you can make use of the word in a positive light you take its power away. There a ton of slurs that out there that have been turned on their heads because people use them in a new way, just look at the music industry they do this all the time and it works.
So when you started out did you plan to have a comic about the Russian Mob, a Creepy Clown, a Vengeful B-List Celebrity and TV Camera Induced Vision Quests right from the start, or does this all come about more organically, as the story progressed?
The way I write is very fluid. I make characters put them in situations and let them react. Whenever I think too far ahead I it doesn't work out for me, I have had a lot of comics end because I get lost in the ideas and not the making of the comic.
How much of your own experiences inform the character of Sam or the story in general?

Not at all. I'm just good at imagining that kind of stuff.

A lot of transgender web-comics focus on the importance positive support from family (Validation, Princess, Venus Envy). I think it's safe to say that families don't get much more dysfunctional than Sam's. Any real life parallel or is that more of a dramatic contrast?


I had an okay life, I had my struggles but they weren't nearly as screwed up as the one I gave my main character. I have always given the characters in the comics a horrible life, that way when you see them rise above it all you are that much more invested in them. I also like the idea of you choosing your family, Sam found these crazy people, Brit, Spunko, etc and chose to let them into her life. We all can do that find the people who make you happy and they are your family. Giving the character a harder life when they make these relationships it is so much more rewarding for the reader.
One of the things that strikes me about this strip is that almost none of the drama or conflict, outside of the subconscious world anyway, actually comes from her being transgender. In fact, I'd almost say you  could have written the comic about 99% identically with a cisgender female character. (To be fair, "I DO" would definitely have to change! LOL) Is it your intention to keep Sam's gender as such a minor element to the story, or will there be some future conflicts that are more directly related to it? (Her current romantic interest perhaps/ihopenot?)

"I do."
Life has way more conflict then our genders or sexual preferences. Life is full of hardships, bills, relationships, enemies, etc. I wanted this comic to deal with a lot more than just one thing. Yes Sam is transgender, but other than when she is self-reflecting or in a relationship the transgender issue doesn’t come up. I deal with said transgender content matter when it needs to be dealt with. So far it hasn't come up a lot, but that doesn't mean it won't. Again I make characters first then come the situations, it will come up again I just don't know when.

What do you do when you’re not drawing comics?

A job I hate... if I had my choice I would be doing web comics full time.

As for other fun things I'm a game designer and freelance artist. I also enjoy a good game of Dungeon and Dragons.

That's cool! I ran a 2nd Edition (dating myself) Planescape group for a couple of years back in college. What do you consider a "good game of Dungeons and Dragons?" Any preference of Editions or Settings?

Okay, when I say, "Dungeons and Dragons," I ran role playing in general. I actually HATE D&D.

 Oh... OK... (awkward)... LOL
But I play each week with my friends, right now we are playing in the Firefly universe, before that it was the walking dead, and before that we were doing a space drama. We are all over the place. When it comes to a good game I say was the story engaging? Did people have fun? If so it was a good game.
When you say "game designer," you do mean board games, video games? Anything we'd have heard of, or could go check out?

Both. I make board games, none published as of yet. And I make video games. Way back when I did flash games, man that was a long time ago, I did a few jobs for a mobile game studio that is shut down and I'm working on a game right now that's called "Days of Ash."

You'll have to let us know when it's available!

So, shifting gears a little bit...

When you first started to transition (or when you first came out) how did family and friends react?

 My friends were like, "we know."
 My mom was upset but she has come to terms with it.

 What has been the hardest part for you?
The government red tape. Here in the USA the government is not so transgender friendly. They make everything hard to do, name changes, changing your gender on government ID's, getting medical assistance, etc. Then there is the money. It costs an average of $60,000 to make a male to female transaction, and there is not much help out there, no loans no insurance, nothing. You can get some money from crowd funding but unless you are super lucky not much comes of it.
How young were you when you first aware that there was something different about you, gender-wise?
I was 4, but I quickly found out what I was, was not okay by societal standards. So I hid it from everyone. The one regret I have was not making it known then.
Does religion play a role in your life?

No there is no religion in my life. I believe in science, not myth and faith. I'll tell people I believe in Odin and Norse myths just to push peoples’ buttons but that's about it.

Sounds right up my alley, actually. Where do fall politically?

Socialism, for the win! Not the way a lot of people have done it in the past, but if we were to support each other in every way we could the world would be a better place. "You want to be a doctor? Go for it, help your fellow man! You want to do art and make the world a more insightful and wonderful place to live? Do it! I know that there are some major pitfalls in that, but I think if we think about the world and everyone living there instead of our wallets we could make it work. Passion and innovation could be what we work for, not this other shit.

You mean working at a job you hate to buy shit you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like? Yeah, I could be down with getting rid of that.
And especially with technology going the way it is, soon we won't need people to work at burger king that will be all done automatically via robotics.
True dat.

Pretty much every transgendered person I've spoken (all of them actually) have expressed some rather strong and negative opinions about the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) over the history of throwing trans- people under the bus to achieve progress exclusively for the LGB community. Do you feel the same? Is this a fair assessment?

 Yep. It's a hard truth and it's something we need to overcome.
Have seen any evidence of that happening?
I don't think people are actively doing it to be jerks, I just think it's a numbers game. There are a lot more gay and lesbians out there than transgender people. So the rights groups end up wanting to help the most amount of people so its way more LGB and less of the T.

A couple contentious issues, as they relate to more of the internal trans- politics...

How do you feel about "Gender Dysphoria" remaining in the DSM? Does the legitimacy of it being recognized as an actual condition outweigh the stigma of it (technically) be labelled, rightly or wrongly, a "mental illness?"

I don't care how they classify it just helps the people who are transgender instead of making their lives a living hell.
Do you feel that people who would otherwise pass are under any obligation to be "out?" Are they doing any harm to the rest of the trans- community by living stealth?
No, let them be who they are.
There's been a long of progress made very recently in a fairly short amount of time (not to say that there isn't a LONG way to go...) and yet it seems that the (Conservative) opposition focus mainly on just two things: Boys playing on Girls' Sports Teams, and where everyone's going to pee. If I were to extract the single Planck unit of legitimacy from all of that... With regards to say, restrooms, locker rooms and, perhaps most importantly, Women's Shelters, how does one go about making sure that ALL women, cis and trans, have appropriate access to needed facilities and services, and yet still be protected from potential rapists/perv's/peepers/etc... who might try to gain access as "trans?"

Or is this much ado about nothing?
I hate it when people call transgender people perverts. 99.9% of trans people just want to use the bathroom to pee, there is such a small pocket of people who would do anything “perverted” that it's not worth holding up people who need the help becoming who they are and feeling comfortable in their surroundings.
Ed.Note: Just to be clear, I did not mean to imply that "Trangender people were perverts," but rather that ACTUAL perverts could gain access by falsely claiming to be trans-.
Also, Teaser: I'll have to ask my NEXT interviewee what she thinks about that. It was something we discussed in great length when we last spoke.
If there was one thing you really wished that cisgender people better understood about transgender people, what would that be?
Nothing.

Nothing as in, "cisgender people already understand well enough," or nothing as in, "stay out of our business and we'll stay out of yours?"

I think they get it.

Interesting. I don't think I've ever gotten an answer like that.  Last question... How do you explain to thick headed conservatives people who don't understand that being trans- (or LBG for that matter) isn't a choice?

Be gay for a month or two, it's a choice right? Oh, you can't do it? Well neither can we.

*sunned silence*

Oh my God... That's a really brilliant answer.
I've asked that question of so many LGBT people, and this is the first remotely satisfactory (meaning the slightest bit helpful) answer I've gotten yet. And it's absolutely PERFECT. Sometimes the best ideas/explanations are the simplest ones. (And it's so obvious, yet sometimes those are the hardest ones to see.) I am bowled over by the elegant simplicity of this. Seriously: I will never have to ask this question again. I'm sure William (don't ask) won't buy it, but I'm certainly satisfied. THANK YOU!
Terra Snover is the creator of Mock Girl. If you are interested in supporting the comic, you can become a Patreon, or you can pick up a set of Sam's Microchip Earrings (shown below). Thanks again for talking with me!



Thank you.

Here're some nice old-timey Christmas Carols for y'all...

In a recent comment, a certain Right-Wing Jackhole Poster castigated me for not being Christmas-ee  enough, or not making his Season merry enough, or... something.

So, in the spirit of getting into the spirit, here's some Christmas music that, IMHO, is vastly superior to that which the local radio station keeps pumping in to the speakers in my company's office men's room:



 ...And for all the RW Bible-Literalists out there who don't believe in METAPHORS, Cracked is there to explain the *REAL* meaning of [these] Christmas [songs] to you.

 Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's your card:


Monday, December 15, 2014

Racism Part 2: What they don't teach you in school



Babies are racists. LOL - OK not really, but read #5 on that list. (From Cracked.)

The history of how White, Southern Racism shaped this country from the beginning. (From Kos.)

The Case for reparations. (From the Atlantic)

And Racism is still worse than we realize. (Cracked.)

Now lets examine the effect of the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

For this exercise I am going to focus on two geographic areas in particular: The SOUTHEAST, defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia; and the NORTHEAST, defined as Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.  (For their parts, the MOUNTAIN STATES have always been Republican strongholds, and that hasn't changed. The MIDWEST has always been a contentious battleground and that hasn't changed. The PACIFIC STATES, with the exception of Alaska (which votes like a Mountain State) DID flip, from Republican to Democrat, but did so much later, in the 1990's, so they're not relevant to the discussion either.)

I am going to look at two time periods. The first starts in 1876 which was the first post-Civil War in which the Democrats were able to challenge the Republicans with a unified party and a single candidate.  It ends in 1960, the last Election before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The second period begins with 1964 and goes through to the present day.  In this exercise I am looking the results of the States' PRESIDENTIAL Elections.  This oversimplifies a bit, but I spot-checked a few of the Southeastern States' Gubernatorial races once when a Tea Party friend of mine challenged it and the pattern held pretty solid on the states he had me check.  I may do Governors, Senators or Representatives one day, but for now let's just look at Presidential results.

From 1876 to 1960, the Southeast held 300 total Presidential Elections. This takes into account that North Carolina was not part of the Electoral College following the Civil War until 1908. In these 300 Elections, the DEMOCRATIC Candidate (Tilden, Hancock, Cleveland (3x), Bryan (3x), Parker, Wilson (2x), Cox, Davis, Smith, Roosevelt (4x), Truman, Steveson (2x) and Kennedy) won 255 of them.  That's a winning percentage of 85%.  So.. Pretty clear that the DEMOCRATS were strong in the Southeast following the Civil War and Prior too Civil Rights.

In the Northeast, in the same time period, there were 242 total Presidential Elections. In those, the same Democratic Candidates took home only 79 Victories, for a 32.6%  Winning Percentage.

NOW... Since the signing of the Civil Rights act, what has changed?

Well, since 1964, the Southeast has held 182 Presidential Elections. In that time, the Democratic Candidate (Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton (2x), Gore and Obama (2x)) has won a mere 43 of these, dropping their winning percentage from 85% to a paltry 23.6% - a decline of 61.4%!  Meanwhile, of the 156 Presidential Elections held in the Northeast since the signing of the Civil Rights act, those same Democrats won 108 times. That's a 69.2% Winning percentage, up from 32.6% - a gain of 36.6%!  So clearly...

1) There has been significant ideological drift in both the Northeast and Southeast.

2) This shift is shown to have happened almost immediately after the signing of the Civil Rights act.

3) The Democratic Party (the one who's President SIGNED the Civil Rights Act) moved North, while the Republicans became the darlings of the Old Confederacy and Segregationist States.

A coupe of notes:

1) I counted DEMOCRATIC Victories, so that no one could call Bullshit if I tried to lump Independent such as Strom Thurmond or George Wallace in with the Republicans.  As it is, they were not counted. Also, if I was counting Republican victories, what do you call Teddy Roosevelt in 1912?  Seems wrong to count the Bull Moose Candidate, but it seems just as wrong to leave him out. So we'll use the Democratic performance to show the trend.

2) Surprisingly the biggest exception to the trend in the Southeast is actually NOT Florida: It's WEST VIRGINIA!  West Virginia has gone to the Democrat SEVEN TIMES since the signing of the Civil Rights act.  Florida has gone only five, and three other have gone four times. The STRONGEST Republican States since the signing of the Civil Rights act (in the Southeast) are Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Since 1964 a Democrat has only won ONCE in each of these States.

3) Prior to Barack Obama in 2008, the only Democrats to win ANY of the Southeastern States were themselves Southerners :Johnson, from Texas, Carter from Georgia and Clinton from Arkansas. (This was no help to Gore, of Tennessee, who failed to win any in 2000, though we won't discuss Florida.)

4) If you ignore the influence of NATIONAL LANDSLIDES, which say little about any one regions politics and more about the politics of THE DAY, the trend gets even more stark. If I remove the Four Franklin Roosevelt land slides on '32, '36, '40 and '44, the Johnson landslide of '64, the Nixon landslide of '72 and the Reagan landslide of '84, here's how it breaks down:

Southeast, 1876-1960: 244 Elections, 199 Democratic Victories, 81.6% Winning Pct.
Southeast, 1968-2012: 140 Elections, 34 Democratic Victories, 24.3% Winning Pct.

Northeast, 1876-1960: 198 Elections, 47 Democratic Victories, 23.7% Winning Pct.
Northeast, 1876-1960: 120 Elections, 93 Democratic Victories, 77.5% Winning Pct.

So they go down 57.3% in the Southeast, a little less than before, but go up 53.8% in the Northeast - a LOT more than before.

Take either methodology, as you prefer. AND, if you're going to make the argument that the Democrats are the REAL racists, you're going to have to explain THIS phenomenon away first, if you expect to be taken seriously. Robert Byrd or no Robert Byrd.

Now for something a bit lighter, here are Five Shockingly Racist Scenes in Famous Superhero Comics. (Cracked.)


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism Part 1: The Law and Justice



Watch these three videos, if you can stomach it - they're pretty brutal...
(trigger warning, etc...)

The PUBLIC EXECUTION / POLICE MURDER of John Crawford III:


The DRIVE UP EXECUTION / POLICE MURDER of Tamir Rice:


The CHOKING THE LIFE OUT OF / POLICE MURDER of Eric Garner:


...And then contrast these to Steve Lohner...

...or the KID GLOVE handling of Joesph Houseman:


Seriously?! This obviously, openly, armed, angry, belligerent, RW asshole yells at the cops for almost 10- minutes strait?! Tamir Rice? John Crawford? The cops gunned them down, on sight, in under ONE SECOND.  And I'm supposed to believe that race doesn't play a factor?  I'm supposed to believe that these cops were acting appropriately?!  And then I'm supposed to believe the cop, and the lone, white, racist witness in the Michael Brown case?! BULLSHIT.  This is not only criminal, it's indefensible. The Grand Jury, in every case, didn't see that way, so fuck them.  The Prosecutors consistently shit-canned their own cases, so FUCK THEM.  Gerlado wants to tell me that BLACK PEOPLE are the problem? FUCK HIM. And if you can't recognize the problem here? THEN FUCK YOU.

And if you're still even thinking of telling what a threat these people were, let's not forget that they somehow made the effort to take THIS GUY alive:


James Holmes, remember him? Killed 12 people, was carrying a Shot Gun, a Semi-Automatic Rifle, a Hand gun and Tear Gas Grenades?  Imagine for a moment the mentality it must take to take the time, effort and risk to take this piece of shit alive, and yet the men above had to be put down like dogs in under a second.

Go ahead. Try to argue with me on this.  It's not a question of whether we have a police-state problem, or a race problem, it's only a question of how many people, black AND white (and every other color) need to DIE before something constructive is done about it.


And if you're still skeptical, how about some crushed testicles?

And before anyone wastes any of my time telling me that these are isolated incidents, here is a list of UNARMED Black Men killed by the police since 1999. (And from my own research for past posts, I can assure you that this is FAR from an exhaustive list.)

Oh, and let's not forget that nearly bottomless scum pit of a prosecutor who thought that an abused woman firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-boyfriend deserved SIXTY YEARS in prison for it.
Yeah. No problem with White Privilege or Male Privilege here, is there?  By all means, let's keep "standing our ground."

And even after all that, if you don't understand why they riot, especially in THEIR OWN neighborhoods? Well, THIS GUY explains it, and gives you different perspective on it.  It's his opinion and perspective, not mine, but the more I see of just how much we have a problem with racism in this country, the less inclined I am to judge ANY of these folks.

(And more on all this in my next post.)

(CORRECTION: In the video, I referred to JOSEPH Houseman as JOHN, and JAMES Holmes also as JOHN.  My apologies.)

(After all, the last time anyone saw JOHN Holmes in a theater, he was armed with something completely different.)




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Meaningless Midterm and my own poll...



In the video I reference the following message that Rusty Shackleford sent me after casting his vote:

"Regardless of whether or not you believe in this (and you know my stance on this), assimilation into the military-industrial complex is REALLY far down on the list of priorities for trans rights.  If you want to buy into this neoliberal nonsense, whatever, but I'm going to be heavily side-eying your priorities if this is where you choose to focus your energy.  Liberation, not assimilation.  Don't feed the military more victims and call them "free" for having the privilege of dying for some rich cis-het assholes."

Also, if anyone is interested n seeing the original discussion between myself, Rusty and Princess Bitchface Androgyne Anode, you can find it in the comments section, here. (Assuming MMFA didn't remove any of it.)

And my sincerest apologies to KRISTEN BECK, (not "Christine Speck") who's name eluded me during the video.  I really should have had all of my notes in order: I'm sorry about that!