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It’s frustrating I’m sure. But the training wheels have fallen off this website for the time being.

It’s really not that much to ask, that you learn the few characters of php script needed to manually login to wordpress sites, now is it?

C’mon mang, think of all the infuriating bullshit Eric endures to provide this website to you all, free of charge, in most cases.

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  1. What’s the Goal with Robots Read News? Gary Larson.

    Some have asked about my goal in producing Robots Read News on this blog.

    I don’t have a goal. Goals are limiting. I prefer systems.

    A system is something you do on a regular basis to improve your odds of success – usually by making yourself more valuable – without a specific idea of where it all ends up.

    For example, when I started blogging, my ex-wife asked why I was spending 50% of my time on something that produced about 5% of my income. What was my goal?

    I tried, and largely failed, to explain that blogging was a system. I was practicing my writing every day. I was seeing what topics worked best. I was writing in different voices to see what people responded to. Every time I blogged I was getting more knowledge about what readers wanted and I was improving my writing skill. An important part of the system is that I was practicing publicly, which allowed whatever luck was swirling around in the universe to find me, figuratively speaking.

    Blogging also helped me survive three-and-a-half years of not being able to speak. And blogging kept my energy up because I enjoyed the audience reaction. High energy has a good spillover effect on my other activities.

    My blogging led to a publishing deal for a blog post compilation book titled “Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain.” That book didn’t work because I got the psychology wrong. I figured that if the writing was getting a terrific response on the Internet, there was a market for it in book form.

    Instead, my blog readers were repulsed that someone would try to package and sell what had once been freely available on the Internet. It was like I had pissed on a baby. Worse yet, my publisher asked, as part of the contract, for me to remove the original posts from the Internet. That seemed like no big deal to me because almost no one reads the blog archive. But removing free stuff from the Internet was perceived by readers as something similar to strangling a puppy. Lesson learned.

    An editor at the Wall Street Journal saw some of my blog posts and asked me to expand on them for their readers. And I did. That improved my perceived market value.

    After a few more years of blogging I discovered, quite unexpectedly, that people enjoyed reading my thoughts about systems for success. That insight turned into my latest book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It’s currently the top-selling general career guide in the world.

    When I was looking for technology partners for a startup idea, I blogged about it and several people emailed to say they would be interested. My business partner and I joined forces with BlueChilli out of Australia and launched CalendarTree.com. It’s the simplest way to create a schedule of upcoming events and share a link so people can add the entire schedule to their personal calendars with a few clicks. That has gotten a great response so far. But what satisfies me more is that it solved an annoying real-world problem.

    Then there was the incident about doctor-assisted suicide. As my father suffered in his death bed, I angrily blogged about my feelings on the topic and – I believe – forever changed the debate. I say that because my blogging on the topic got a lot of attention. In a follow-up post I demonstrated that there really is no one on the side the debate that says government should have the right to overrule the wishes of you, your family, and your doctor when it comes to end-of-life medical decisions. The alleged divided opinion on the subject was nothing but clever bullshit from creationist nut jobs. The reality is that almost no one thinks the government should have a veto over their own end-of-life medical decisions. That becomes clear when the polls ask the question correctly. So perhaps I helped that cause a bit. And that feels good.

    That brings us to Robots Read the News. I have no idea where it is heading or what “voice” it might take. I’ve tried writing it with some harmless family humor, some political humor, and some R-rated humor. And I’ve watched the reactions. Patterns are starting to emerge.

    I was drawn to the idea by wondering what sort of comic would be most popular in 2014 and beyond. We’re probably five years away from the day when advances in robot technology will dominate the news, so it would be useful to have a branded character in that space. The media likes to put a face on the news, and robots don’t have a high-profile representative. (By analogy, Dilbert’s popularity was helped a great deal by the fact that the media put Dilbert’s face and name to every story about the office workplace.)

    I also hypothesized that in the age of Twitter, social media sharing, and short attention-spans that the perfect product would be topical, provocative, quotable, and brief. I wondered if anyone would care that the art was the same in every panel. (So far it doesn’t seem to be an issue and in a weird way seems to be a plus.)

    So I don’t have a goal with the new comic. Nor is it an experiment. It’s part of a system for improving my odds of success in a general way. If I learn something useful in the process that can be applied to future projects, I come out ahead. And if any of what you see is entertaining, we both win. I hope that’s the case.

    Robots Read News #1

    Robots Read News #41

    There’s a Hair In My Dirt. Gary Larson.

  2. A Note from Gary Larson

    RE: Online Use of Far Side Cartoons


    I’m walking a fine line here.

    On the one hand, I confess to finding it quite flattering that some of my fans have created web sites displaying and / or distributing my work on the Internet. And, on the other, I’m struggling to find the words that convincingly but sensitively persuade these Far Side enthusiasts to “cease and desist” before they have to read these words from some lawyer.

    What impact this unauthorized use has had (and is having) in tangible terms is, naturally, of great concern to my publishers and therefore to me — but it’s not the focus of this letter. My effort here is to try and speak to the intangible impact, the emotional cost to me, personally, of seeing my work collected, digitized, and offered up in cyberspace beyond my control.

    Years ago I was having lunch one day with the cartoonist Richard Guindon, and the subject came up how neither one of us ever solicited or accepted ideas from others. But, until Richard summed it up quite neatly, I never really understood my own aversions to doing this: “It’s like having someone else write in your diary,” he said. And how true that statement rang with me. In effect, we drew cartoons that we hoped would be entertaining or, at the very least, not boring; but regardless, they would always come from an intensely personal, and therefore original perspective.

    To attempt to be “funny” is a very scary, risk-laden proposition. (Ask any stand-up comic who has ever “bombed “on stage.) But if there was ever an axiom to follow in this business, it would be this: be honest to yourself and — most important — respect your audience.

    So, in a nutshell (probably an unfortunate choice of words for me), I only ask that this respect be returned, and the way for anyone to do that is to please, please refrain from putting The Far Side out on the Internet. These cartoons are my “children,” of sorts, and like a parent, I’m concerned about where they go at night without telling me. And, seeing them at someone’s web site is like getting the call at 2:00 a.m. that goes, “Uh, Dad, you’re not going to like this much, but guess where I am.”

    I hope my explanation helps you to understand the importance this has for me, personally, and why I’m making this request.

    Please send my “kids” home. I’ll be eternally grateful.

    Most respectfully,

    Gary Larson

  3. 0:11
    I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. I was born in a Scots Presbyterian ghetto in Canada, and dropped out of high school. I don’t own a cell phone, and I paint on paper using gouache, which hasn’t changed in 600 years. But about three years ago I had an art show in New York, and I titled it “Serious Nonsense.” So I think I’m actually the first one here — I lead. I called it “Serious Nonsense” because on the serious side, I use a technique of painstaking realism of editorial illustration from when I was a kid. I copied it and I never unlearned it — it’s the only style I know. And it’s very kind of staid and formal. And meanwhile, I use nonsense, as you can see.

    Bruce McCall What is retro-futurism?
    This is a Scottish castle where people are playing golf indoors, and the trick was to bang the golf ball off of suits of armor — which you can’t see there. This was one of a series called “Zany Afternoons,” which became a book.
    This is a home-built rocket-propelled car. That’s a 1953 Henry J — I’m a bug for authenticity — in a quiet neighborhood in Toledo.
    This is my submission for the L.A. Museum of Film. You can probably tell Frank Gehry and I come from the same town.
    My work is so personal and so strange that I have to invent my own lexicon for it. And I work a lot in what I call “retrofuturism,” which is looking back to see how yesterday viewed tomorrow. And they’re always wrong, always hilariously, optimistically wrong. And the peak time for that was the 30s, because the Depression was so dismal that anything to get away from the present into the future … and technology was going to carry us along.
    This is Popular Workbench. Popular science magazines in those days — I had a huge collection of them from the ’30s — all they are is just poor people being asked to make sunglasses out of wire coat hangers and everything improvised and dreaming about these wonderful giant radio robots playing ice hockey at 300 miles an hour — it’s all going to happen, it’s all going to be wonderful.
    Automotive retrofuturism is one of my specialties. I was both an automobile illustrator and an advertising automobile copywriter, so I have a lot of revenge to take on the subject. Detroit has always been halfway into the future — the advertising half. This is the ’58 Bulgemobile: so new, they make tomorrow look like yesterday. This is a chain gang of guys admiring the car. That’s from a whole catalog — it’s 18 pages or so — ran back in the days of the Lampoon, where I cut my teeth.
    Techno-archaeology is digging back and finding past miracles that never happened — for good reason, usually. The zeppelin — this was from a brochure about the zeppelin based, obviously, on the Hindenburg. But the zeppelin was the biggest thing that ever moved made by man. And it carried 56 people at the speed of a Buick at an altitude you could hear dogs bark, and it cost twice as much as a first-class cabin on the Normandie to fly it. So the Hindenburg wasn’t, you know, it was inevitable it was going to go.
    This is auto-gyro jousting in Malibu in the 30s. The auto-gyro couldn’t wait for the invention of the helicopter, but it should have — it wasn’t a big success. It’s the only Spanish innovation, technologically, of the 20th century, by the way. You needed to know that.
    The flying car which never got off the ground — it was a post-war dream. My old man used to tell me we were going to get a flying car. This is pitched into the future from 1946, looking at the day all American families have them. “There’s Moscow, Shirley. Hope they speak Esperanto!”
    Faux-nostalgia, which I’m sort of — not, say, famous for, but I work an awful lot in it. It’s the achingly sentimental yearning for times that never happened. Somebody once said that nostalgia is the one utterly most useless human emotion — so I think that’s a case for serious play.
    This is emblematic of it — this is wing dining, recalling those balmy summer days somewhere over France in the 20s, dining on the wing of a plane. You can’t see it very well here, but that’s Hemingway reading some pages from his new novel to Fitzgerald and Ford Madox Ford until the slipstream blows him away.
    This is tank polo in the South Hamptons. The brainless rich are more fun to make fun of than anybody. I do a lot of that.
    And authenticity is a major part of my serious nonsense. I think it adds a huge amount. Those, for example, are Mark IV British tanks from 1916. They had two machine guns and a cannon, and they had 90 horsepower Ricardo engines. They went five miles an hour and inside it was 105 degrees in the pitch dark. And they had a canary hung inside the thing to make sure the Germans weren’t going to use gas. Happy little story, isn’t it?
    This is Motor Ritz Towers in Manhattan in the 30s, where you drove up to your front door, if you had the guts. Anybody who was anybody had an apartment there. I managed to stick in both the zeppelin and an ocean liner out of sheer enthusiasm. And I love cigars — there’s a cigar billboard down there.
    And faux-nostalgia works even in serious subjects like war. This is those wonderful days of the Battle of Britain in 1940, when a Messerschmitt ME109 bursts into the House of Commons and buzzes around, just to piss off Churchill, who’s down there somewhere. It’s a fond memory of times past.
    Hyperbolic overkill is a way of taking exaggeration to the absolute ultimate limit, just for the fun of it. This was a piece I did — a brochure again — “RMS Tyrannic: The Biggest Thing in All the World.” The copy, which you can’t see because it goes on and on for several pages, says that steerage passengers can’t get their to bunks before the voyage is over, and it’s so safe it carries no insurance. It’s obviously modeled on the Titanic. But it’s not a cri de coeur about man’s hubris in the face of the elements. It’s just a sick, silly joke.
    Shamelessly cheap is something, I think — this will wake you up. It has no meaning, just — Desoto discovers the Mississippi, and it’s a Desoto discovering the Mississippi. I did that as a quick back page — I had like four hours to do a back page for an issue of the Lampoon, and I did that, and I thought, “Well, I’m ashamed. I hope nobody knows it.” People wrote in for reprints of that thing.
    Urban absurdism — that’s what the New Yorker really calls for. I try to make life in New York look even weirder than it is with those covers. I’ve done about 40 of them, and I’d say 30 of them are based on that concept. I was driving down 7th Avenue one night at 3 a.m., and this steam pouring out of the street, and I thought, “What causes that?” And that — who’s to say?
    The Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan in New York — it’s a very somber place. I thought I could jazz it up a bit, have a little fun with it.
    This is a very un-PC cover. Not in New York. I couldn’t resist, and I got a nasty email from some environmental group saying, “This is too serious and solemn to make fun of. You should be ashamed, please apologize on our website.” Haven’t got around to it yet but — I may.
    This is the word side of my brain. (Laughter) I love the word “Eurotrash.” (Laughter) That’s all the Eurotrash coming through JFK customs.
    This was the New York bike messenger meeting the Tour de France. If you live in New York, you know how the bike messengers move. Except that he’s carrying a tube for blueprints and stuff — they all do — and a lot of people thought that meant it was a terrorist about to shoot rockets at the Tour de France — sign of our times, I guess.
    This is the only fashion cover I’ve ever done. It’s the little old lady that lives in a shoe, and then this thing — the title of that was, “There Goes the Neighborhood.” I don’t know a hell of a lot about fashion — I was told to do what they call a Mary Jane, and then I got into this terrible fight between the art director and the editor saying: “Put a strap on it” — “No, don’t put a strap on it” — “Put a strap on it — “Don’t put a strap on it” — because it obscures the logo and looks terrible and it’s bad and — I finally chickened out and did it for the sake of the authenticity of the shoe.
    This is a tiny joke — E-ZR pass. One letter makes an idea.
    This is a big joke. This is the audition for “King Kong.” (Laughter) People always ask me, where do you get your ideas, how do your ideas come? Truth about that one is I had a horrible red wine hangover, in the middle of the night, this came to me like a Xerox — all I had to do was write it down. It was perfectly clear. I didn’t do any thinking about it. And then when it ran, a lovely lady, an old lady named Mrs. Edgar Rosenberg — if you know that name — called me and said she loved the cover, it was so sweet. Her former name was Fay Wray, and so that was — I didn’t have the wit to say, “Take the painting.”
    Finally, this was a three-page cover, never done before, and I don’t think it will ever be done again — successive pages in the front of the magazine. It’s the ascent of man using an escalator, and it’s in three parts. You can’t see it all together, unfortunately, but if you look at it enough, you can sort of start to see how it actually starts to move. (Applause)
    Pretty elegant. Nothing like a crash to end a joke. That completes my oeuvre. I would just like to add a crass commercial — I have a kids’ book coming out in the fall called “Marvel Sandwiches,” a compendium of all the serious play that ever was, and it’s going to be available in fine bookstores, crummy bookstores, tables on the street in October. So thank you very much.

    • We have one thing in common; my grreat grandfather emigrated to Canada from Scotland along with his family and servants in the 1870’s, ended up leaving home at 15 finally making a stop in Mobeetie, Texas, strange but true. My grandmother’s maiden surname was Turnbull, given to the family by Robert the Bruce in about 1314. That many times removed great grandfather saved Robert from a raging bull. Robert bestowed money and land on him making future generations of Turnbull’s wealthy. It didn’t continue in Texas, the wealth that is.

      My mother’s cousin, the last remaining Turnbull of that part of the family died last year, preceded in death by his wife and children. He was a physician and his shingle always amused and fascinated me since it read M.D. Turnbull M.D……twice an M.D. so to speak but not a moniker as a long deceased friend we called MD, short for Mad Dog, one hell of a nice guy if a bit eccentric. It is a small world. Can’t wait for your new book.

  4. Cavalcade of Chrome

    Bossmobile Gal Friday Execustreak, 1958
    Bulgemobile Corp. decided to give the busy Fifties executive the break he needed with its premier dream car for the ’58 season. Enter the fabulous Bossmobile, where the high-salaried corporate big shot could sit back, digest his three-martini lunch, and dictate memos or gab to his golf pro on the portable Electrofone or just uncap the Johnny Walker in the lower right-hand desk drawer for a bracing nip or three before the Bossmobile deposited him at his split-level suburban home in time for cocktail hour.

    Bossmobile w/ Gal Friday

    El Scandinavia

  5. Dear Bevin,

    Capitalism: It may not be a perfect system, but it’s still the best one there is.

    I don’t want to strawman, you. But I wonder if you put too much weight on the Alphas and Betas of the world, and not enough on the Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and undefined classes that make it all work.

    An architect needs men who provide material, families who feed and clothe all manner of laborers. Men with industrial machinery, structural engineers and material scientists. And on and on.

    We both agree communists are foolish, to worry exclusively about labor. I would call the laborists, who are blind to the whole picture.

    I would equally condemn the entrepreneurists, and the ownerists, who are too narrowly focused on the creative genius and individual effort required to accomplish great feats of intensive capital projects.

    Ownerists, and productionists, seem blind to the greater picture. That there will always be all manner of men ready to steal from you, and mimic your ideas. And other unsavory things.

    As an ideal exercise, absolutely praise the one. And condemn the other. But then take the necessary action to deal with the reality of today.

    Why not spread the wealth around while times are good. Give a little to those you prefer to as a kind of insurance, rather than be a miser guarding it all, and have made no provision for when times are bad. Having no allies when there’s a free-for-all and people become desperate and animal-like.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    An-Cap vs. An-Com disagreements…

    The main disagreement is about private property. Ancaps believe in private property and anarcho-communists don’t.

    Anarcho-communists believe in personal property or possesions which is property intended for direct and personal use such as a home or a toothbrush but reject individual ownership of things not intended for direct and personal use and so are based on absentee ownership e.g an entire factory or 1000 of miles of land.

    There is disagreement on what a ruler is. Ancaps think of kings or politicians as rulers but see nothing wrong with a boss. Their argument being that it is voluntary, while anarchists reject this by arguing that workers are coerced into working for bosses by threat of starvation, poverty or social stigma.

    This is what Chomsky means by private unaccountable tyranny. The owner of a factory has ultimate decision making power over his/her property and can therefore be as tyrannical as he/she wants.

    Workers have no say in decisions but must submit themselves to their boss and managers. They are slaves to the owners. And much of what is owned is unused by anyone, and not needed for any individual.

    Anarcho-communists are anti-hierarchy while ancaps are not. They see nothing wrong with hierarchy providing that it is ‘voluntary’ and not a state as they define it.

    Anarcho-communists are pro-democracy, as in people having a say in decisions which affect them. Ancaps are against democracy and often compare democracy to gang rape or two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

    Anarcho-communists argue that the division of labour turns humans into machines e.g performing the same job over and over again. They argue that this ruins human creativity and stops people from developing and growing. Ancaps in comparison see the division of labour as required for an efficient market economy.

    Ancaps reject revolutions in favour of changing people’s opinion about free market capitalism and the state. They also often tend to support political parties or politicians which support deregulation e.g Ron Paul.

    Anarcho-communists in comparison often advocate social revolution, expropriation of the means of production, creating the new world in the shell of the old and so on.

    Some anarcho-communists support labour laws despite the fact that they require a state. They see them as a democratizing force against the tyranny of capitalism. Ancaps reject labour laws and see them as coercion against private property.

    Anarcho-communists think a state is needed to enforce private property. Ancaps do not. Although from an anarcho-communist perspective ancaps alternative to a state, defense agencies, would inevitable become states for hire.

    Thus if anarchism is to not end up returning to statism, private property must not be allowed to be enforced by these private defence agencies.

    In terms of the anarcho-communist position on the possibility of private property within anarchism there are mixed answers. Some argue that private property on a small scale ought not to be resisted via coercion e.g a tiny family business and it is only in cases of mass ownership of the means of production that the material basis for the creation of a state exists and thus requires a coercive response of expropriation by workers.

    Others argue that even tiny family business based on private property should not be allowed. Many advocate discussion with such business owners in an attempt to persuade them of the benefits of democratic self-management but not all anarcho-communists feel this way.

    I favor both being allowed to flourish on the internet. Creators and property owners should be free to individually protect their property, but there must be no organized system that enforces thing from the top down.

    Users and coders who just treat everything as raw materials for new creations and opportunities to consume, should also be allowed to flourish on the internet. Yes these two groups are largely in opposition to each other.

    So what. The free market’s purpose is to allow consumption, and no other purpose. It is understandable that creators want control of their creations, and to reap the benefit of their labor for themselves, and not have things taken from them against there will.

    Laborism/communism leads to bad outcomes. Ownerism/creatorism will also lead to bad outcomes. What’s best is you have to fight your own battles, and you can’t expect others to care about what has happened to you, if they don’t choose to.

    Some guy invented these roman alphabet letters I’m typing write now. At this point, it’s unknown who. They’ve become community property. That’s just the way things seem to work. Just because you initiate and create something, it doesn’t mean you keep control of it forever, or that you can always expect some income from it. It’s up to you to keep custody and control of things.

    The Order-Follower is most at fault

    Impossible, I work for the government.

  6. Dear Bevin,

    I enjoy a wall of text more than most, but even I couldn’t even begin with that one by Greta Christina on the “7 Things…”

    I was able to read this one by Greta at least a few paragraphs in. But then I remembered I rather watch Christina and January in the flesh, bringing the script to life, and faltered yet again…

    You’re doing Our Ford’s work, reading that stuff for the rest of us. Be well, comrade.
    – – –

    “All right then,” said the savage defiantly, I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
    “Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat, the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.”
    There was a long silence.
    “I claim them all,” said the Savage at last.”
    – – –

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