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This cartoon has generated predictable comments about being about a "silly" subject. I get it; a lot of people, including many progressives, are opposed to NYC's proposed measures to cap soda sizes at 16 oz. Never mind that the chief scientist for the American Diabetes Association predicts that up to one in three American adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. And silly me, paying attention to conclusive studies proving that excessive sugar (with sodas being the primary culprit) is killing people.
"Educate consumers, don't engage in Prohibition!" some readers have commented. Well, education efforts in situations like this don't work, especially when competing with billions of dollars in marketing from multinationals. Also, the sugary drink restrictions aren't prohibition -- they're regulation. You're still free to swig as many 16-oz. Cokes as you like.
This isn't about "controlling" or "feeling superior to" other people. This is about challenging shifting cultural norms that are being driven by super-sized industry profits. But hey, keep drinking that corporate Kool-Aid! No one's stopping you.
I tried to post this last week, but my server kept choking for some reason. Then I got busy seeing live music for several days at SXSW. It's probably a good thing that ended, or I'd never be productive again.
A couple of these drawings were purloined from a series of illustrations I was doing for the Austin Chronicle. I maintained an informal "SX Sketchbook" for their blog. You can check out my coverage here (this page links to previous installments).
I was particularly enamored with the trade show booth of an established HR company called TriNet. Realizing, perhaps, that their business is on the dry side, they invented a fake company called YamTrader, and set up a giant yam with food inside (albeit no yam dishes, if memory serves.) They had a yam mascot and everything. Note to self: next trade show, we are building a larger-than-life beet to catch editors' attention.
I'll be attending my first SXSW soon, with the Interactive portion providing the impetus for this strip. As a member of the press, I'm getting some pretty entertaining emails about startup launches and other tech company promotions.
While I was working on this, I came across this interesting NYTimes article about the folly of thinking apps will solve all our problems; hence the third panel of this strip. Some apps are useful, but I'm still waiting for the one that will turn me into a super-organized person.
The Environmental Defense Fund website has some myth-busting facts about idling. Did you know idling for ten seconds burns more gas than restarting your car? Or that diesel engines produce more than 40 hazardous air pollutants? And that sitting in a cloud of your own exhaust with the heater on is really lousy for your health?
I've noticed a string of egregious idlers lately. The first was a young woman tapping away at her iPhone in a posh SUV in a shopping center parking lot. Temperatures were mild, so it's not like she was braving the elements or anything; it was just internal combustion for internal combustion's sake, I guess. The following day, I witnessed a pickup truck belching putrid exhaust for at least 20 minutes outside a convenience store. In this case, it was cold out, and a woman was waiting in the truck for her companion in the store, but seriously. Go inside and warm yourself by the spinning hot dogs or something! Then, while staying at a motel out of town, I observed a tractor trailer idling in an empty lot from dusk until the next morning. It was cold and snowy, and my guess was that the truck driver opted to sleep in the truck with the heat on -- spent fuel be damned! -- instead of paying for a motel room. Which is frankly pretty sad, but also alarming if you're not a fan of global warming or particulate matter in the air you breathe.
Conventional wisdom seems to be that the financial difficulties of the Post Office are due to the rise of email. The Postmaster General noted this himself as he announced the end of Saturday delivery. But to only look at competition from email is to miss the larger ideological picture -- namely, that privatizing USPS has been a goal of market absolutists for decades. The real "crisis" faced by the PO is the absurd requirement, set by Republicans in Congress, that the agency fund retiree benefits for the next 75 years -- paying for future employees who haven't even been born yet! This article on Alternet provides an overview of how the service is under attack. Never mind that the Postal Service isn't taxpayer-funded; privatizing it is still part of the Cato Institute's agenda. It seems obvious to me that replacing USPS with a patchwork of private mail delivery companies would be an unmitigated clusterf#ck. Believe it or not, the private sector is not always the most efficient (see: health insurance).
I've actually been to the Kroger supermarket in Charlottesville where a 22 year-old man made national news by waltzing through the store with an AR-15. He has since been banned from the premises. I mean, really. If I see some random person with an assault weapon in a public place, I'm not waiting around to find out what their intentions are.
Related article here. I use both Facebook and Instagram with the awareness that my data is being mined in probably unimaginable ways, but asking for driver's licenses (or birth certificates!) is a bridge too far. Especially for people who use a pen name or stage name for professional reasons, or reasons of personal security.
Commenters on another site where this cartoon appeared accused me of "playing the race card" with this one. I have to try very hard to put myself in the mindset of someone who thinks the Republicans' sudden interest in changing the way electoral votes are apportioned in certain swing states has absolutely nothing to do with race. This post by Jamelle Bouie in The American Prospect gives a nice rundown of the problem. Fortunately, it looks like that plan may be fizzling in my old home state of Virginia.
A few readers have pointed out that the "cow town = city of one million" phrasing is inaccurate, since districts all roughly have the same population. I agree that panel could be written better. But, as Bouie points out, the end result is a gross distortion of the popular vote that privileges the land:
In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state.
Ever wonder what Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" would look like as a one-page comic? For the novel's 200th anniversary, NPR Books asked me to create such a thing.
A technical aside: this was the first time I've ever had to lay out a comic specifically with mobile device readers in mind. Apparently NPR gets huge amounts of mobile traffic, so they split the comic up into individual panels that rearrange themselves depending on platform/screen size. Pretty interesting, and something Jane Austen likely never imagined would happen to her novel as she wrote it two centuries ago. (For a truly meta experience, check out this Storify of a Twitter conversation about making comics "responsive" between two news design people and myself.)
As a creator of complex female characters, of course, Austen was very much ahead of her time. Two hundred years ago, she was more highly advanced than most Hollywood screenwriters are today.