1 July 2003
[politics] A Hard Line on Bush — Steve Bell visits an Editorial Cartoonists Convention in America … ‘Watching Fox makes you realise just how rampant the right is at the moment, and reading the New York Times, a supposedly great liberal newspaper, makes you wonder if they would ever say boo to a goose, let alone tell truth to power. It seems dull, ponderous and timid. It’s also one of the few major papers without its own editorial cartoonist. It runs syndicated stuff, but that’s not the same thing. Having its own editorial cartoonist is at least a sign that a paper is prepared to put somebody’s nose out of joint now and again.’
2 July 2003
[connections] Microsoft Word bytes Tony Blair in the Butt — a mysterious person called M. Khan turns up in the revision history of a UK Government word document about Iraq …

Rev. #9: “MKhan” edited file “C:\TEMP\Iraq – security.doc”
Rev. #10: “MKhan” edited file “C:\WINNT\Profiles\mkhan\Desktop\Iraq.doc”

Unofficial Mary Whitehouse Experience: ”M. KAHN IS BENT’ was, until recently, painted in very large white letters on a railway bridge that crosses the North Circular road in London between Crouch End and East Finchley (Just by the gasworks). It had been there for over ten years, unmissable by every single car travelling in a westward directionon the North Circular, which, bearing in mind that approximately 300,000 cars containing an average of 2.7 people pass under that bridge every day, would indicate that, over the course of time, the fact of M. Kahn’s bent-ness may have been impressed on 2,956,500,000 people, or round about five times the population of Europe.’
3 July 2003
[comics] Rolling Commentary — Alan Moore on the War in Iraq … ‘[America is] a great country, but you (and the rest of the world) got Bushwhacked. A spooky little clique who for some considerable while contented themselves with being part of America’s un-elected Shadow Government have now stepped boldly up into the footlights, where they feel (perhaps correctly) that they can now do or say whatever they want, and that nobody can or will do anything about it. They’ re ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille. There is no longer any need for secrecy or shadows. Covert wars were so last century, don’t you think?’ [Related: Arthur Magazine | via 2lmc Spool]
4 July 2003
[london] Oystercard — a new smartcard for London Transport replacing Travelcards (rechargable via the Internet!) … ‘Oyster is the new ticketing and revenue system that is bringing smartcard travel and all of its associated benefits to Transport for London and its customers. At the heart of this system is the Oyster card which can be used on Tube, bus, Tramlink, DLR and National Rail services within London.’ [via Wanderer’s Weblog]
6 July 2003
[comedy] ‘It’s an act, innit’ — interview with comedian Bernard Manning …

‘…presumably, I say, you would no longer say things like “Give the coon a crack on the way out”? He looks baffled. “Course I would. Cos we’re all laughing, all enjoying ourselves.” He tries to explain why. “We’re all enjoying ourselves, and the coon wouldn’t be on his own … there’d be a party of black … whatever. I’d say: ‘Give the coon a crack on your way out, it’ll make you feel good.’ Well, it wouldn’t make you feel good. You wouldn’t dream of giving the coon a crack on the way out.” Eventually he gives up. “It’s a joke, you cunt.” “Cuckoo!” says the clock.’

7 July 2003
[comics] The Underground War in Gaza [login as: linkmachinego/linkmachinego] — Joe Sacco (described as a “Comic Book Journalist” by the NYT) reports from Gaza. [thanks Kabir.]

panel from Joe Sacco's NYT slideshow

[blogs] MediaGuardian 100: #94. A Blogger‘Do bloggers add clarity to a situation, or do they serve only to only confuse it further? And – a subject closer to some hacks’ hearts – why the hell are these people writing for free, anyway?’
[comics] Baker’s Future In Plastic — interview with Kyle Baker about his update of Plastic Man for DC … Baker: ‘One of the reasons I don’t read a lot of comic books is that I try and can’t follow them. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I don’t know what the hell is going on in some of these books. Whenever you do one of these jobs, you have to read up on some of the older issues so you know what’s been going on, so for Plastic Man, I read a bunch of JLA issues. People show up and I have no idea who they are, and it’s done as a big reveal. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be happy that it’s the character or sad that it’s that character.’
9 July 2003
[comics] Give me Moore — another interview with Alan Moore‘”The basic thing to remember,” growls Alan Moore “is that, eventually, I am always right.” And Lord knows, nobody is going to argue with the man. Moore looks intimidating enough in the few photos he has allowed to be taken — “I don’t do smiles. If I’m not actually glaring, that’s pretty good”. But meeting him in the flesh is even more scary. He’s a towering giant : the hair really is that bushy, the elaborate rings on his fingers chink as he moves, and the joints piled neatly beside his chair really are over 10cm long.’ [via The Copydesk]
10 July 2003
[end-of-free] This is the Future of Online Newspapers — the Guardian will start charging for some online content‘The Guardian was at pains to point out that all the stories (including its archive) will remain free. It will charge annual subscriptions though for its email digests – one at the beginning of the day that cover the day’s papers and one at lunchtime that covers breaking news – as well as for crosswords, an ad-free version of the site and a new digital facsimile service.’
11 July 2003
[blogs] ‘Joke’s on you,’ says the Westminster Blogger — BBC News covers Labour MP Tom Watson’s weblog‘Mr Watson, who believes weblogs can play a crucial role in politics, says he’s getting around 10,000 hits a week, while if you stick “Labour MP” into the Google search engine, it’s him – not Tony Blair – who comes out on top.’
13 July 2003
[london] Going Underground’s Blog — weblog about the London Underground‘ Got rather trashed last night and had to put the auto tube pilot into gear. Got on at Leicester Square at about five to minight, then fell asleep. Did my auto wake up at Turnham Green and amazingly the next District Line was going to Richmond.’
14 July 2003
[web] Simon Hoggart on Byliner — nice index tracking all Simon Hoggart’s recent columns. He recently encountered Margaret Thatcher: ‘At one point she began vigorously wiping down an occasional table for no apparent reason. This kind of thing used to be endearing or infuriating, according to your point of view. Now it looks sad, like an old lady not quite sure of what she should do with herself or her hands.’
[blogs] Wi-Fi toting bloggers invade Parliament — another predictably nasty commentary from Andrew Orlowski about blogs prompted by a meeting about blogs within the UK Parliament. ‘…evangelists for a specific mode or incarnation of a technology, or, if you like, fetishists for a particular kind of tool, usually get filed, quite rightly, alongside members of the tinfoil hat army. Sad, but true. If you can’t get laid without your ‘tool’ – and blog-lobbyists seem to be a bunch of people who can’t get laid without showing off their weblog credentials (perhaps they never meet other people except through weblogging?) then the scene does have a bit of a foul hum about it.’
15 July 2003
[politics] Bloggers at Westminster:
  • Notes from Vox Politics Event‘[The] blogging ‘community’ are broadband users while the citizenry of the internet use dial-up… interested to see how this will develop. [I think this is total bollocks, personally]’
  • Euan Semple was blogging from the UK Houses of Parliament‘I’m sitting in the Grand Committee room in the Houses Of Parliament using the first ever wifi network allowed in the building.’
  • Sashinka: ‘What is The Palace of Westminster like inside? Quite a lot like a cross between an ever-so-slightly run down private school and the rather English headhunting firm I lasted at for less than a year: lots of green and cream paint, old oak, and the desire, if only the governors could raise the finance, to repurpose parts of the building in a more contemporary way. Lots of people in suits having conversations in corridors.’
  • Gavin’s Blog .com‘Packed room and lots of laptops with wifi!’
  • Blatant Optimism‘The most notable soundbite: Weblogs are going to be politicising rather than democratising.’
  • Parliament goes Wireless for Bloggers’ Summit‘[It is] believed to be the first time any national parliament has set up a wi-fi zone, although the security implications mean that the wireless internet zone will be dismantled after the meeting.’

16 July 2003
[comics] The Comic Genius Who Made Superheroes Human — BBC News profiles Stan Lee … ‘Stan Lee maintains links with Marvel, even though he is involved in a “friendly” lawsuit with them over royalty payments. Marvel reportedly pays him $1 million a year for promotional work at lectures and conventions.’
17 July 2003
[politics] Political blogs: a brief guide — a list of blogs about politics based in the UK … On Tom Watson’s Blog: ‘The Labour MP for West Bromwich made a New Year’s resolution to spend half an hour each day on online business, and has so far been doing well, updating the site every morning at the crack of dawn and often throughout the day as well.’ [via Slugger O’Toole]
18 July 2003
[quote] ‘For today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology. Where each worker may bloom secure from the pests of contradictory and confusing truths.

image from apple's 1984 advert for macintosh

‘Our Unification of Thought is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people. With one will. One resolve. One cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death. And we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!’
21 July 2003
[comics] Grant Morrison at the San Diego Comic-Con:

  • Grant Morrison Exclusive To DC‘DC Comics has just announced that Grant Morrison has just signed a two-year exclusive contract with them. There is no news on how this affects his existing Marvel work. The superstar writer is supposed to be working on a Vertigo project with Frank Quitely which will be announced officially in Chicago. He’s also working on a DC Universe book…’
  • Comments at Morrison’s Panel from Comic Book Resources: ‘The conversation inevitably shifted to “New X-Men,” which Morrison will be leaving as of #154 and will be destroying the Marvel Universe in issue #150 and #151! He also says that his final issue can be seen as the end of the X-Men if one so wishes.’
  • Comments on Barbelith about GM’s Plans: ‘Marvel’s going quite rapidly to shit, innit?’

[space] The Moon, July 21st. 1969

‘The lunar module curved gently down over the Sea of Tranquility, the drama heightened by the calm, almost casual voices of the astronauts and the mission controller at Houston.The casualness was deceptive: from 500 ft. above the surface and all too aware that an error could lead to irretrievable disaster, Aldrin brought the spacecraft down under Armstrong’s direction. At the moment of approach Armstrong’s heartbeat rose from its normal 70 to 156. Yet his voice was calm and flat: “Contact light: engines stopped? The Eagle has landed.” The landing was perfect.’

22 July 2003
[bb4] Jon — the official website … One of Tickle’s most amusing moments: ‘…was during the Cub Scout task. As the camera focused on Jon, pottering round the cub scout tent, treble checking every guy rope and peg; Marcus Bentley’s voiceover drily commented: “One hour and thirty two minutes into the tent task. The task was successfully completed thirty minutes ago…”‘
[comics] Mobfraction Futurephone … [Related: Matt]

picture of a 'fuck team comics' badge

23 July 2003
[comics] Wired has a couple of items about comics:

  • Reliving Comics’ Days of Infamy‘Sen. Estes Kefauver, the ambitious committee chairman, showed Gaines a cover of a comic book and threw this when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife-style comment hardball: “This seems to be a man with a bloody ax holding a woman’s head up, which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?”‘
  • Coloring the Comic Books‘Women, meanwhile, ran the gamut from the masochistic 1940s-era Wonder Woman (who spent way too much time being tied up) to the vapid Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four in the 1960s. In one early comic book, she chirped: “I can’t wait to surprise Reed with the new miniskirt costume I’ve been designing!” But Invisible Girl later morphed into Invisible Woman, a sharp character who now runs the Fantastic Four corporation…’

24 July 2003
[comics] SDCC’S Grant Morrison Panel — fuller report from GM’s panel at the San Diego Comicon‘[Morrison] went on to talk about how he’s not entirely thrilled with realistic comics. Realistic characters, yes, but once you put superheroes in the real world; they seem more than a bit silly. Morrison said that you couldn’t drag the gods to Earth and keep them as gods. “Realistically, the Flash would be able to take care of every super-villain everywhere over his lunch break, but how much fun is that?”‘
25 July 2003
[tv] The Princess and the Pea-Brain — Nancy Banks-Smith reviews Channel 4’s James Hewitt: Confessions of a Cad‘Charm is nature’s Teflon and Hewitt is very charming. It is quite easy to feel sorry for him and the pretty pickle he finds himself in. Emma Stewardson, a girlfriend he ran in tandem with Princess Diana, still looks after his old wolfhound, Tess. Hewitt keeps her picture in pride of place. Tess, that is, not Emma.’
[star wars kid] Star Wars Video Prompts Lawsuit — BBC News update on the Star Wars Kid‘Since the original was posted on the Kazaa file-sharing system, it has been downloaded and passed around to millions of people and Mr Raza’s story has been featured in newspapers all over the world. Now there are about 38 versions of the original video that add all kinds of effects to his stick twirling tricks or mock Mr Raza.’
28 July 2003
[comedy] And For Your Encore, Mr Bin Laden? — Jon Ronson meets the Comedy Terrorist who gatecrashed Prince William’s 21st. Birthday Party‘…in the days after the hijack, he seemed to have vanished. So I called his friends. “What’s Aaron like?” I asked the comedy promoter Geoff Whiting. “I can’t lie,” said Geoff. “He’s – shall we say – complex. I don’t want to say more than that. There’s something of the David Icke and the Uri Geller about him. He works on a completely different level to most people. He’s always saying, ‘I’m going to revolutionise comedy.’ He’s a maverick.” “Is Aaron funny?” I asked Geoff. There was a silence…’
[flash mob] London Flash Mob — Where = Soho, When = August 7th … ‘Flash Mobs are seemingly unplanned gatherings of large groups of people that converge in public (or semipublic) places for brief periods of time. All members of a Flash Mob simultaneously converge to form the mob and then quickly disperse again at a given time, all members departing in different directions.’ [via Voidstar]
29 July 2003
[comics] Batman: Dead End [Quicktime: Large File | Larger File] – a short Batman Movie …

image of the joker from Batman: Dead End

[Related: Ain’t it Cool News backgrounder on the Film | Barbelith Comments]
30 July 2003
[comics] Grant Morrison at San Deigo Gossip from Rich Johson …

‘…the rumour, mentioned by a slew of people, over the shouting match that went down at San Diego Comic Con between Joe Quesada and Grant Morrison. Or rather from Joe to Grant, one phrase “You owe me!” being the most repeated on the convention floor the day after. Quesada had found out about the DC exclusive deal and he took it out on Grant with expletives that were definitely MAX labelled.

Reports indicate that Grant kind of shut down and went into a mini-coma, but did give out one response “Fuck You, Fuck your company, and Fuck your boss who’s the biggest arsehole I’ve ever met.”‘

[iraq] Salam Pax visits Saddam Hussein’s home town: ‘I can not really say it was very wise to go to Tikrit with foreigners two days after the death of Uday and Qusay was confirmed. They are not very friendly up there in Saddam’s home town at the best of times, and now they border on the hostile. I am now Salam “the spy” Pax in Aujah.’
31 July 2003
[politics] Tony Blair for President! — Blair 2004! … ‘Between the babbling of George W. Bush on the right, the blathering of the anti-war left, and the cluck-clucking of media hens everywhere, stands Tony Blair, articulate and principled. Many Americans understand and support Iraqi Freedom because of the leadership provided by Mr. Blair, and many of us would feel much safer if Mr. Blair occupied the White House.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
[politics] Don’t Mention The Whatever-It-Is — Simon Hoggart sketch of the press conference Tony Blair gave yesterday … ‘Outside in Downing Street it was drizzling gently, but inside it was hot and sticky. My ideal “top-down incentivised improvement” would have been to take my shirt off. We began to nod gently.’ [Related: Simon Hoggart on Byliner]