Blog Ipsa Loquitur

A webcomic author/artist named John offered books of his comics via Kickstarter in early 2012. It’s 2014, and John is having a hard time sending books to over a thousand of his fans, who kicked in over $51,000 to get those books. He just announced that he is canceling the project and will not offer refunds:

You could try to obtain refunds through kickstarter or paypal, through your bank or credit card company. You could try to harass me or inconvenience me or tell other people negative things about me or this kickstarter in the hope that this will affect me negatively. Be aware that each attempt to contact me about this book will individually result in the burning of a book until the books are gone.

I am making the loudest sound I know how to make. I know that some people will be personally offended that I am doing this, but I am doing this in large part because our culture has developed in such a way that some of the intelligent, empathetic people who follow me will believe they feel more psychological pain because of books being burnt, their money and my attitude about them than because of the destruction of the natural world, the continuation of classist, racist, abusive patterns of behavior and representation, etc.

So essentially, “yes, what I’m doing is sucky, but not as sucky as these other things” which are, in fact, worse. Is that really raising awareness, or just adding to the amount of suck in the world? It doesn’t matter, anyway; he doesn’t have any of the $51,000 people gave him anymore. He says he is out of money because he refunded orders before Christmas which were 18 months behind schedule, so now he can’t fulfill the rest of the orders.

Then he announces, in an astonishing coincidence that has nothing to do with the fact that he’s spent everyone’s money, that he’s actually very much against the entire idea of exchanging “money” for “goods.” (Or owning property or goods at all. Except for his smartphone and its data plan, which he’s keeping. Like Thoreau!)

And that’s about where his update turns into a rambling, 4500-word screed against capitalism and the acquisition of wealth in general; he doesn’t feel like he should have to pay his landlord because his landlord is rich but also because his landlord didn’t fix the roof or protect him from his violent roommate and also because he’s not supposed to be living there and doesn’t have a lease? I don’t know.

I get the guilt over his privilege: over sleeping in a bed when there are millions of kids in some developing country somewhere sleeping on dirt floors, etc. Or feeling guilty about owning a warm jacket when there are thousands of kids in your own city who shiver on the way to school each morning. I get it.

But collecting $51,000 and promising to give people things for that $51,000, only to announce that you’re broke because you didn’t manage to do the math properly on how much it would cost to give people things? And that it’s not your fault, people should really be upset with capitalism itself, which you are now forsaking, conveniently after you pocketed thousands of dollars of other peoples’ money?

That’s pretty embarrassing.

An addendum presented without comment, via Rusty Foster:

In earlier updates [John] claimed to be faking depression for money, claimed to have been joking about faking depression for money, and questioned the ability of anyone to fake anything.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Ezra Klein, writing for Bloomberg.com, on how dull the future looks. He walks it back halfway through, saying the course of history can reverse itself quickly:

In 2004, a spate of anti-gay-marriage amendments on the ballot in swing states was considered – perhaps incorrectly – to have turned out enough conservative voters to re-elect President George W. Bush. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 16 states, and a 17th – Illinois – will legalize it in June.

Well, that’s sobering. I’m calling it now; 2024 is the year of the metric system in America.

Filed on under The News

It was a weird day, you guys.

And then, hours later, the Nordic fiends tracked me down and followed me on Twitter. Probably by the scent of feeble, whiny American brooding. I registered my shock:

Our hero remains safe and sound for now.

Filed on under A Day in the Life

When you upload something to the internet, it’s there forever. There’s no good way to take it back down off the internet, and you never know what kind of creep is going to get your hands on your spring break photos. For instance, you would never expect that your high school administrators would be that creep:

University of Georgia freshman Chelsea Chaney is suing the school district of her former high school after a photo pulled from her Facebook page was used in a district-wide presentation on what not to do on social media accounts. 17 years old at the time, the photo shows Chaney wearing a bikini while posing next to a cardboard cutout of rapper and singer-songwriter Snoop Lion. In addition to the photo, the Powerpoint slide included her Facebook profile name underneath the photo and the title of slide was “Once It’s There, It’s There to Stay.”

This was a month or two ago, and I’m sure the two parties have settled out by now. (Due in no small part to Chaney suing for $2 million. Yikes.) I think this is a real teachable moment for the school administrators here. A few things come to mind. Let’s start with the obvious:

Don’t Be Creepy

No, seriously, don’t be creepy. It’s bad enough if you’re a middle aged guy with pictures of a teen girl in a bikini. If you’re a middle-aged guy who works with teens and you have those kinds of photos lying around, that’s way worse. Parents are going to ask questions about why you wanted to work around teens.

Don’t Be Creepier

It’s also bad enough if the photo is of just some random teen girl. But if there’s anything worse, it’s probably that the photo is of some specific teen girl: one who attends your school. In that case, specific parents who going to ask an awful lot of very specific questions of you, Curtis R. Cearley, director of technology for the Fayette County Schools.

Don’t Be Publicly Creepy

Nabbing swimsuit photos of your favorite student from her Facebook page for your private collection is super creepy. Putting those photos in a slideshow deck she’s going to sit through at school is yet another order of magnitude of creepy. Maybe you want to consider leaving those photos in your private collection. Better yet, maybe you want to consider leaving those photos on her Facebook page.

Don’t Be Stupid

Ask anyone who works with kids. Publicly shaming them in front of their peers (for something that’s not even wrong, just admittedly ill-advised) is the quickest way to do the opposite of teaching them a lesson. You get resentment, you get betrayal, you get humiliation, but you’re not really going to get that dawning moment of realization.

Don’t Be a Criminal

There’s a word for people who make unauthorized copies of the creative works of other people. Pirate! Infringer! Communist! While Facebook gets a lot of flack for its terms of service, they leave your copyright interest more or less intact. That means that this young woman, when she asked someone to take a photo of her next to a cardboard Snoop Lion, has a copyright interest in the resulting picture. When it gets uploaded to Facebook, she still has that copyright.

When the creepy administrator puts that photo into a slideshow deck he’s making for the whole school (district?), he makes an unauthorized copy. He could probably have used something licensed under Creative Commons and avoided potential intellectual property concerns. The creepy stuff would all still apply, but at least he wouldn’t have pirated anything. After the DMCA, the penalty for copyright infringement is $150,000 per copy; this is going to the world’s most expensive slideshow deck in no time.

Filed on under The News

Some as-yet unidentified burglars broke into an office building and stole a number of computers and monitors once inside. The computers belonged to a non-profit shelter for victims of sexual violence. When the thieves realized it, they returned the computers with an apology note:

“We had no idea what we were takeing. Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a difference in peoples live. God bless,”

I can’t decide if this makes them the worst at being thieves, or the best at being people who are also thieves, or what. It definitely makes them pretty bad writers, but it’s heart-warming. Read the whole story, with quotes from the executive director of the nonprofit and the cops.

Filed on under The News

So there was already that one juror from the George Zimmerman trial who had never heard of manslaughter, despite being on the jury in a case where she feels the guy holding the gun exercised poor judgment which ended in someone else dying. There was that one.

Another juror from that case, who didn’t want to be identified, appeared on ABC News (giving her first name, age, occupation, how many children she has, her home town, and her current town; as one does when one does not wish to be identified) and this happened:

George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God.

and then:

When asked by Roberts whether the case should have gone to trial, Maddy said, “I don’t think so.”

If this is who got on the jury, who get kicked off by voir dire?

Filed on under The News