Bernie Mireault Interviews Himself

I’ve been skipping this interview in my Google Reader for weeks because when I reach it, I typically don’t have the time to focus my full attention on this long piece. The Comics Reporter has a long interview with Bernie Mireault that looks fascinating. This is a guy whose work I have followed since the 80’s. I can’t remember if The Jam was the first work of his that I read but I sure did love it. [A quick perusal of his bibliography reminded me that Mackenzie Queen was the first work of his I read.] Although he is not a household name in the world of comic books, I am a big fan of his. I need to sit down and read this interview soon.

EGC Clambake for February 24, 2008

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for February 24, 2008. It is one long speech about the state of the American nation, how we have gone wrong and continue to go wrong, how we have sacrificed the important moral aspects of our nation because we are scared for our safety; how we have a choice and it might be the last choice we ever get; I play a song by Camper Van Beethoven and deliver my eulogy for the nation I thought I once lived in.

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Dark Week

I didn’t intend to go dark for a week on the blog and almost that long on Twitter. Over the weekend we were traveling and out of the blue Sunday I was laid low with an illness that I’m still recuperating from. I’ve only worked half a day this week so far and have been in really rough shape. Monday and Tuesday I showed that I was serious about being ill by only touching my laptop for just long enough to email in sick to work, at which point I put it away and slept and sweated the rest of the days away.

Sorry to have worried anyone. It came up really suddenly and was unexpectedly virulent. My inbox zero was shot to hell when I popped it open today to hundreds of unread messages. I’m only just now piecing things back together. It might take a few days.

Project Wonderful Arbitrage

I’ve been experimenting with Project Wonderful ads on AmigoFish for some time. It’s never made that much money and what it brings in I just spend back out in placing ads myself. I mostly just like the idea of it and the purity of their mechanism even though now the distribution of advertisers skews heavily to the goofy end of webcomics people.

The other day I got a bid on my ad box that in retrospect was probably inevitable. Some third party was bidding on my box with a Dell ad that was certainly some kind of CPA affiliation situation. It makes perfect rational economic sense. If you have a CPA ad that generates you $50 in referral fees per customer acquired, and you can acquire a customer by placing $5 or $10 worth of inexpensive ads via Project Wonderful, why not? I rejected the bid because why I am going to let him do that on my site for $0.03/day? If the bids are going that cheap, I’d rather it be some smalltime knucklehead like me placing the ad than some HP or Dell ad. Still, I figure that unless Project Wonderful specifically bans it on the terms of service, you’ll see more of this. I don’t mind them doing the arbitrage play as long is it pulls up the ad prices from the demand side. I’m not letting them place through me, though.

RIP Steve Gerber

I’m a long time fan of Steve Gerber’s comic book work, from Howard theDuck, Omega the Unknown, the Defenders, and so on. I also was a big fan as a kid of Thundarr the Barbarian, a work that Steve drove forward.

A few weeks ago I started following his weblog and was keeping up with his health troubles. I saw these posts about how he had gotten a laptop so he was able to keep writing Doctor Fate from his hospital room. Sadly, a recent post was not by Steve but Mark Evanier. That’s never a good sign. The post said that Steve had died Sunday. Mark has posted a eulogy to the man. That is truly a downer. He will be missed.

MacPorts Woes

I have been interested in the Gimp for a while but every time I fire it up, I’m intimidated by the whole thing. I’ve never used Photoshop so either program freaks me out. That’s why I have subscribed to the excellent Meet the Gimp vidcast.

Given all that, I was excited about the possibilties of MacPorts. I installed it, and went to do the install of the Gimp package with it. That’s when the fun ended. For the next 18 hours, packages were downloaded and built until finally it pooped out on an inability to build Python and never progressed. A whole lot of the packages that Macports was working on were already on here from Fink. That all just really sucked. I was really on fire to run the Gimp on this iBook and the whole experience was a big disappointment. Now I’m thinking about just reclaiming that space on the hard drive and forgetting the whole thing. What a downer.

Light Blogging and Stuff

I wish I could claim that Twitter is eating my blogging energy but truth be told I haven’t even been twittering much this weekend. I believe I’m going through one of those periods of burnout with the process. I have so many irons in the fire that I’m beginning to thrash around. This is where I need to settle down, get a little zen and trust in GTD or a GTD-like process to guide me. Anything else and I’m doomed.

Over the last week I’ve been getting used to Mac OS X 10.4. I believe I’ve settled in to a good 2-4 year delay behind everyone else. I see people talking about buying iPhones or iPod Touches and then being disappointed that the price drops and/or new models coming out with much more capacity for the same price. I, on the other hand, have been getting devices and OS upgrades that are lagging so far behind other people that they just give them to me. On the one hand it makes me feel a little bit like a cheeser for begging other people’s refuse technology. On the other, I like getting work done with older technology and it feels green to me to extend the useful life of these items.

Somewhere in here I’ll find a new equilibrium for my blogging, tweeting and all the other stuff of my digital life. I try not to get freaked out when things change a little one way or the other. Nothing is permanent, all things are in flux.

Ed Cone on the Political Ground Game

My acquaintance Ed Cone has a great article on the convergence of politics and the internet. He articulates something I noticed but couldn’t put into words as well as he did. The Howard Dean campaign in 2004 and the Ron Paul campaign this time around had a lot of internet juice but neither seemed to translate into many votes. He lays out why he thinks that is and some suggestions for using the internet in a campaign.

A single one sentence observation carries much of the weight of wisdom: “The ground game matters.” I made some phone calls for John Edwards (not many, fewer than a dozen) but his online virtual phone bank tool made that easy. In 2002, I had to drive to a boiler room in Chamblee GA to make calls for Max Cleland and it really sucked. I agree with Ed that the strength of the internet lies in coordinating the rest of it. It is a means, but not an end. Of the people I know personally that were supporting Ron Paul and involved in the process, they did internet style things for him but I’m pretty sure that didn’t involve making phone calls or pounding on doors. The ground game matters.

EGC Clambake for February 3, 2008 – “Disillusion”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for February 3, 2008.

I play a rocking, honky tonking boogie woogie song from the Two Dollar Pistols; I discuss a sad anniversary; I talk about how my former hero is no longer of any interest to me; I play a song by Viva Voce and collide my world on out of here.

This episode’s egregious error of fact: Viva Voce did not come down my Sub Pop feed, they are in fact on the Amore!Phonics label. I’m really not sure where I got the MP3 from now.

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Party Like It’s 2005

Later this afternoon, I’m planning on upgrading to Mac OS X 10.4. That isn’t a typo, I am still running 10.3 here. I can never remember which cat any release is and I don’t really care. I can tell without thinking about it that 10.4 is newer than 10.2 but it takes a lot of work to remember if Tiger is newer than Bobcat.

When 10.4 first came out, this iBook was what I was using all day every day for my full-time contracting gig. I didn’t have an external drive to back up to and I thought that even if there was a 1% chance of some problem occurring, it wasn’t worth the risk to disrupt my livelihood. That went on for a while until it got to the point where it seemed silly to buy 10.4 when 10.5 was close to coming out. However, now that 10.5 is on the streets it seems like people have a higher level of dissatisfaction than is typical for an OS X release.

However, what the release of 10.5 did do was drop to nearly zero the value of 10.4 install disks. I asked on Twitter if people had a copy they would sell me cheap and several people replied that they had copies they would just give me. That’s an interesting point where it actually has value to me but not to anyone that has already upgraded. For my part, I’m just getting tired of finding apps that I want to run but can’t because they required 10.4 at a minimum. I’m typing this in Ecto, but I can’t upgrade to the newest version. I can’t run the Levelator or Rogue Amoeba’s Fission. The list goes on. I don’t care about having the latest and greatest, just enough to do what I want to get done. If I lag far enough behind to get that for free, I’m cool with that.

Podcasting Art and Artifice

I pointed the other day to Cheryl Colan’s discussion of Epic-Fu. Because I’m watching old videos on my Zune, I am just watching some of the very early episodes of the precursor program the Jet Set Show. I also watched Zadi’s Karmagrrrrl blog even prior to that. The interesting thing is that as you progress down the timeline, the production value increases all the way until you get to Epic-Fu, which looks a lot like an MTV show. However, that doesn’t mean I care more. In fact, as Cheryl pointed out it’s gotten to a point where it is hard to tell the ads from the show. This isn’t a moral calling out, or an accusation, but just the way it is. The slicker you make your show, the more it looks like a Pepsi commercial. It also gets less interesting to me, and I think the lower fi esthetic on JSS was more generally interesting then Epic-Fu.

Similarly, I listened to an episode of Cliff Ravenscraft’s Podcast Answer Man show on which he discussed the Heil PR 40 microphone and his production process in general. Cliff is obviously proud of all his production as he talked it up hard about he goes to extra effort to make it “professional sounding.” There was an interesting point where he turned off all his compression and post-processing to do a direct comparison of several microphones. The second he turned off the compression, it sounded better and more engaging to me. A highly compressed human voice sounds phony, and when he was demonstrating just the Heil minus his effects I thought it sounded more real. With all the processing, the whole thing sounds like a used car commercial. I have tried other of Cliff’s shows and I find that I can’t listen to the phony sounding voices for long enough to stay interested. By putting in this extra layer, he actually subtracts value for me as a listener.

These are real world examples of what I have been discussing – how the pressure to make money leads to pressure to be “more professional”, which may not be in the best interest of your art. I have an entire mediascape full of “professional”, none of which interests me much. The radio is an unlistenable wasteland (commercial and increasing NPR as well) and on the 200 channels of my digital cable system, I’m lucky to find a single program that I want to watch at 8 PM. I’m interested in podcasts because it allows real people to communicate to me as a real person on topics that might not support a commercial broadcast property, minus the layer of artifice and phoniness. When podcasters build that back in, they cease to compete in their own game and start to play that of the incumbent media, one they can’t win. Keep your real voice and talk to me. I’m listening.