Sunday, June 05, 2011

My Top Choices in Science-Oriented WebComics

Looking for distraction? We all need a break from time to time.

Where can you turn for a bit of lighter side of science online?

It's elemental: Here's a look at some of the best, totally nerdy, science-oriented online comics.

Listed in no particular order, this is only a sampling of the phenomenal  and insightful work being posted online by a new generation of talented web artists.

Enjoy!

Xkcd: A Webcomic of Romance, Sarcasm, Math and Language by Randall Munroe, is probably the most widely known. A cast of stick figures addresses topics ranging from science research to philosophy to relationships and the absurdity of daily life. The illustration to the left mocks Frank Drake's infamous Drake Equation, which attempts to calculate the number of 'intelligent' extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy. I've spent quite a bit of time dissecting Drake equation... but that's another topic.

phd Comics: Piled Higher and Deeper: an ongoing chronicle of the life (or lack thereof) in Academia. This comic focuses on the complications of modern scientific research, and the difficulties of graduate school. Written and drawn by Jorge Cham. The selected comic shown charts the perennial ups and downs of graduate student motivation. I recall spending a lot of time on the down side of that graph...


Strange Quark Comics by Dalin S. Durfee, featuring Dr. Ingenio, his nerdly son and assorted nerdy grad students. An insightful look at the everyday quandaries of life in the laboratory, from someone who's obviously been there.


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner Sometimes about science and research, but more generally about God, superheroes, dating, the meaning of life…and much more. The cartoon to the left questions how nuggets of scientific research are translated into the media frenzy of the real world. I've gotten many a laugh out of the unexpected punch lines and spot-on insight from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.


Lab Bratz This cartoon offers geeky science humor focusing on laboratory mishaps and disasters waiting to happen, with a cast of hapless professors, frazzled lab managers and sleep-deprived graduate students. Written by Ed Dunphy. Drawn by Helber Soares.

Tree Lobsters! You can’t prove they don’t exist! by Steve DeGroof.   The illustrations are consistently and incongruously of (guess what?) red lobsters sitting in trees. The humor is in the captions and conversation - of the inexplicably wise tree lobsters. One comic read: 'For a good time call 6.02 x 10 23 Ask for Avogadro.' Tree Lobsters takes on big topics such as Creationism: one lobster asks, “So you think the universe was created by this invisible space pickle? “ A second lobster answers, “Our intelligent pickle theory is just as valid as your ‘scientific theories’” To which the first responds, “Well, if the pickle created everything, what created the pickle?”

Abstruse Goose: a cartoon about math, science and geek culture. One of my favorites is: How Scientists see the world, shown to the left. Does an understanding of the equations underlying light make a sunset less beautiful? Or, did Newton "unweave the rainbow" by reducing it to a prism, as Keats contended? The tools of science, from the first microscope to the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes have so vastly expanded our ability to perceive the universe in all its breathtaking beauty. Nostalgic simplicity junkies preach that esthetics should be devoid of either curiosity or understanding. Might as well say that it isn't for human beings.


Girl Genius, offers the marvels of gorgeously detailed steampunk technology, set in an alternate-history where mad scientists rule the world. It follows the adventures of the flamboyant and brilliant girl genius, Agatha Heterodyne, in the city of Mechanicsburg. This beautifully drawn comic, by Phil and Kajo Foglio, has twice won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story.

Schlock Mercenary, The Comic Space Opera, by Howard Taylor This science fiction strip, nominated twice for a Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, is set in a distant future that has achieved faster-than-light travel and artificial intelligence, and made contact with aliens. It follows a band of space-faring mercenaries as they travel through wormgates, loosely following a handbook of rules, "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries." A vivid exploration of far-out futuristic technologies and their implications for humanity.


Scenes from a Multiverse: A colorful (in more ways than one) comic about life in an ordinary Multiverse, by Jonathan Rosenberg. One recent strip, set in the "Psychcloaked debris belt of the Third Foundation," depicts an alien who claims, “Using my brand-new science of neurofuturism, I can predict overall historical trends of the multiverse for the next ten thousand years!” He describes a series of disasters, finishing with, “After that it’s mostly apocalypses and bank holidays. Not very interesting.” Har!

Electric Sheep & Apocamon: The Final Judgement, by my friend, the talented Patrick Farley. Apocamon is an insightful and hilarious look at the Book of Revelation. (It also makes clear just what it is that some on the far right pray to see happen.)


But this is only the tip of Farley's iceberg. He is an amazing artist and the one taking on the deepest issues. His "Spiders" online graphic novel has been seriously studied at the Pentagon, to try and understand how citizens might get involved in defense, if we enter a transparent society.


Sci-ənce! is a wonderful new webcomic (with insightful commentary) that addresses the difference between science and pseudoscience, with a constant reminder to bring a sense of skepticism to our search for knowledge, The sample shown here mocks the between the build-up and the reality of the big NASA press conference about “microbial extraterrestrial” life. By Maki Naro and Nadir Balan. (Note: This has moved to BoxPlot on the Popular Science website.)


Calamities of Nature, by Tony Piro, provides piercing insight into the scientific mindset, and how science research trickles down to influence the general public. The sample strip pokes fun at scientists for their questionable imagination in naming the wonders of the universe: supernovae, superconductors, supersymmetry...


And Dresden Codak is an award-winning science fictional webcomic written and illustrated by Aaron Diaz, who describes it as a “celebration of science, death and human folly.” Its highly intellectual humor, not for the faint of heart, ranges from physics to philosophy. A beautifully imagined vision that deals with the results of a technological singularity and humanity's role in the cosmos.

So, which of these (or others) do you like best?

Have a laugh or two, or many — and follow some of these talented (and under-appreciated) artists.

Here are a few more suggestions for sci-fi comics:

Space Trawler Pictured to left
Freefall
Quantum Vibe
Drive
We The Robots
The FlowField Unity
Freak Angels
The Abominable Charles Christopher
Poisoned Minds S.S.D.D.
Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures

And finally, a few Math Comics:

Spiked Math Comics
Math Bunnies: Mathematically Enriched Hares
The Twisted Pencil
Brown Sharpie

109 comments:

Anonymous said...

abstruse goose is my favorite, but xkcd and smbc are both amazing as well.

Anonymous said...

I love Treelobsters.

hysmith said...

XKCD and Schlock make me laugh most times, but I love the fact that Girl Genius, my runaway favorite on that list, is up there, especially considering your well-known opinion of "mad science" in the popular media. But it's well thought out and beautifully drawn, and had two well-deserved Hugos of its own.

Stefan Jones said...

Farley seems to have gone silent again. Hopefully not for five years this time!

I enjoy the comedy-SF strip Freefall. Relatively crude artwork. Only occasionally entertaining comedy-relief alien captain. But it's set on a colony world with well conceived technology and deals with interesting socio-techno conflicts, like AI rights. Bonus: What has come to be the lead character is an uplifted wolf engineer!

XKCD is phenomenal. Some of the gags are things that only CS people would get.

Tony Fisk said...

That graph of postgrad motivation vs time looks rather like the Reinemann Zeta function (that which predicts primes, for a ways, at least).

Otherwise, Girl Genius and Farley's stuff is the only one's I'm familiar with in this list.

GG is manic fun, but a bit relentlessly manic.

I like the scene where one of Abaddon's manticores starts whining that one of the damned hit him but, ten years after the millenium, and the Bushemon, Apokemon is a bit stale, (unless Farley can get his act together and sound the last trump on it by Oct 21)

Conversely, Spiders still has a few legs to it. (C'mon Patrick! On your motorbike! We'll have cookies waiting ;-)

He has a third comic, 'dice box' which is psychedelically intriguing. It appears saxophones do not make for good starships, unlike guitars...

----

Other suggestions (not necessarily science based, but definitely show evidence of enlightenment. Oh, and good artwork):

Kevin and Kell. Culture war from a 'furry' ecological perspective.

Dan and Mab: basically what furry D&D characters do on their days off (I particularly love one recent scene, in which Jyrras is arguing with his robot's request to upgrade her chassis ('Initiating response #3: But Daa-a-ad!', 'Don't you response #3 *me* , missy!'). It meshes with David's views on AI)

Freak Angels. More about super Gen X-teen angst than science, but who doesn't want KK's steam 'copter? They may have trashed the UK, but they're getting their act together. (although getting back on the cider while they're doing it is not recommnended: Bad Connor!)

undial: the procedure to follow when you realise you're not quite ready to exit the Matrix.

Clint Johnson said...

I am rather fond of 2D Goggles, the story of that dynamic crime fighting duo - Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. It is just damn good fun.

http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/

DemetriosX said...

I enjoy a lot of these. I would add Spacetrawler, a SF comic currently about halfway through it's projected 3 year story. Great characters, almost always funny if not downright hilarious, and deals with some fairly serious topics.

EastwoodDC said...

Many of those are already on my RSS feeds, and some more of them are about to be.

May I also recommend:

DRIVE tells the story of a second Spanish empire, a galactic empire, and it's looming war with a race called "The Continuum of Makers".
http://www.drivecomic.com/

Spiked Math
Which is math comic and perhaps does not qualify for this list? It's good though. http://spikedmath.com/421.html

Robert said...

You forgot one truly enjoyable mostly hard science fiction comic, Freefall. While it initially looks like a furry comic, there is one anthro character who was genetically engineered, the second "furry" character is a squid-like alien that travels in a life support suit (and apparently tastes delicious to most critters), and a multitude of robots (and humans).

There's also S.S.D.D., an anthro comic that combines time travel with slice-of-life and has a rather disturbing view of how the future turns out... and an even more disturbing tendency toward accuracy in what's going on in the world. (One bit that gave me chills was the segment when they described how the Anarchist Movement took control of much of the U.S. and my observations of how current economic conditions were mimicking the comic.)

There's also the ongoing Armageddon comic Requiem which starts out looking like it has mystical aspects (and still does have some rather soft science fiction) but ends up having some rather innovating concepts (I think part of it is utilizing quantum computers to rewrite reality, but I'm not quite sure - there's also a fascinating scene where a character contemplates if "gods" were created by the universe as a immune defense mechanism which gloms nicely to Dr. Brin's concept of the universe as a simulation).

Quantum Vibe is another interesting comic that looks at humanity after it colonized the solar system 200 years in the future, with some interesting (and potentially horrifying) concepts (such as transhumanism and pheromone-based slavery). One bit Dr. Brin might find amusing is the Sun Diving moment where a character pilots a craft into the Sun to do scientific research.

And that'll be all I mention for now. ^^;;

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews (yeah. I suppose it's no surprise I know a bunch of webcomics. Heh...)

Brendan said...

I second Freak Angels, it is a great post-apocalypse story. Has any one checked out <a href='http://darthsanddroids.net>Darths & Droids</a> a role play adventure told using screen shots of Star Wars Episode 1-3. It isn't just the adventure story which is great, the interaction by the "players" at another level and the commentary by the creators at yet another make this a joy for all table top gamers.

Anonymous said...

I love XKCD. I've never heard of the others. I guess I have a lot of reading to do. Thanks! :)

ZarPaulus said...

I "third" Freefall, it may take thirteen years to cover two weeks but the socio-political ramifications of artificial sapience from corporate incompetence take a long time to discuss.

sociotard said...

On the list, my favorites are XKCD and Schlock Mercenary. Not on the list, I like Dresden Codak. Science fiction about cybernetics, hard AI and other singulitarian topics. The author describes it as "K selected", which means that it updates rarely, but the art is superb.

In non-comics news:
Transparency Alert
Apple patents App that could disable your camera if it thinks you are recording something you don't have permission to.
http://dvice.com/archives/2011/06/future-iphones.php

LarryHart said...

Robert said:


Quantum Vibe is another interesting comic that looks at humanity after it colonized the solar system 200 years in the future, with some interesting (and potentially horrifying) concepts (such as transhumanism and pheromone-based slavery). One bit Dr. Brin might find amusing is the Sun Diving moment where a character pilots a craft into the Sun to do scientific research.


I believe you were the one who originally pointed me toward this one, and I've been reading it faithfully ever since.

I second the recommendation. As to the connection to Dr Brin's novel, didn't the comic actually use the term "sundiver" at one point? Sounded like a shout-out to me.

Sociotard said:

In non-comics news:
Transparency Alert
Apple patents App that could disable your camera if it thinks you are recording something you don't have permission to.


Sounds like a good reason to keep some non-internet cameras around (although being able to store pictures that survive the camera being smashed is a definite plus as well).

Has anyone else noticed how EASY the Orwell-1984 "We have always been at war with Eastasia" scenario becomes as everything gets connected via the web? In the novel, it took several harrowing days and thousands of bureaucrats to change all historical references to the war. Now, there's probably a button that does it in miliseconds.

beoShaffer said...

I second Schlock, XKCD, and Girl Genius but don't have anything specific to add. Freefall is pretty good too. The characters are endearing, and the plot is pretty intricate. The humor is hit or miss, with way more misses than hit, but when it hits it hits it out of the park. While I don't know that it really fits on the list I'll second the idea that Dan and Mab's is high quality entertainment.
I also strongly recommend project Apollo's Afterlife Blues and A Miracle of Science. There medium hard science fiction dealing with issues related to transhumanism. They also have spectacular dramatic writing and significantly above average art.
Gunnerkrigg Court is almost Girl Genius level in terms of quality. On the surface its towards the edge of the science requirement. However, its positive attitude towards curiosity and the fact that weather or not you should accept, essentially, mysterious answers to mysterious questions seems to be a major theme make it pretty good in my eyes.
Lastly if you don't mind Mad Science, and, excluding parts of EGS, low art quality the following are pretty entertaining.
Narbonic
Umlaut House
El Goonish Shive
Hope thats helpful

Robert said...

Not sure about EGS. It's an acquired taste, and as far as mad science goes it's so soft you need a buoyancy device to keep above the surface. Mind you, I've reviewed EGS multiple times and am rather critical of its failings so take my words with a grain of salt (or more).

Shaenon Garrity has a new mad science comic out called "Skin Horse" which takes place after "Narbonic" and which is rather enjoyable (sort of a transhuman sort of comic with uplifted animals and the like as characters in the series).

Rob H.

Maki Naro said...

Hey thanks for the shout out! Really glad you enjoy Sci-ənce :)

TheMadLibrarian said...

I second most of the suggestions here, being particularly fond of Girl Genius from the old hardcopy days!

There is a self-contained story called "A Miracle of Science"

http://www.project-apollo.net/mos/mos423.html

about a futuristic detective who tracks down mad scientists before they become a Menace to Humanity. Among other things, Mars was colonized and has become a group mind; one of its avatars comes along with Benjamin, the detective, to keep an eye on him, because Ben is a reformed mad scientist himself.

TheMadLibrarian

raphared: the chosen color of the Rapture

Stefan Jones said...

I find Dresden Codak utterly intimidating. Too smart for me.

Hmmm. Gunnerkrigg Court. I like it a lot, but it strikes me as more fantasy than SF. Even the technology is sort of magical.

Oh! Patrick Farley has a guest spot on a strip called Dicebox, Don't Look Back. Guitar Ships! Dyson Spheres!

Nyctotherion said...

I miss one of the comics that was on the old e-sheep site but doesn't seem to have moved over with Apocamon and Spiders.

I *think* it was titled "Delta Thrives" and was very transhumanist, with uplifted cats, flying whales and the like. It was beautifully written with gorgeous art, but had one of the most maddening layouts I've ever seen: horizontal instead of vertical.

Robert said...

While I might not understand half of the concepts in Dresden Codak, I enjoy it anyway. I feel any comic that challenges its readers needs to be supported. Far too many stories dumb themselves down for the uneducated, and it gives them no incentive to improve themselves. No. What we need is more DCs out there which challenge people and let them know you can either study to comprehend... or remain ignorant and lose out on the enjoyment.

Tony Fisk said...

One thing I've noticed about online comics: you don't necessarily notice the story development if you're reading them week to week.

Case in point being Dan & Mab, which has a nice sense of humour, but a so-so plotline. Then I read back over a section and upgraded my opinion on the latter considerably (yes, it's more fantasy than science, but Jyrras is the resident geek, and the strip I referred to above is #1189, for anyone interested)

Speaking of 'shout-outs', I enjoyed Gaiman's script for Dr Who a couple of weeks ago (The Doctor's Wife), and thought our host would have a bit of fun in this setting, if given the opportunity. Then I caught up with ep 5-6 (about 'flesh') and was immediately hit by the parallels to 'Kiln People'. Don't know whether this was noted by the producers or not.

lizijogi: a form of alien Zen meditation

Marino said...

I loved Userfriendly, when Iliad wrote a strip a day...

But, going back to the rapture and religious fanaticism... you wouldn't believe: the university library I run (Italy. Specialized in Library science, of all things. Run by a hardline secularist. Go figure.) just received a thick enevlope full of tracts by one Warren Jeffs promising death, war and genocide ("cleansing" the whole states of Illinois, Missouri and Ohio, New York City and Boston just for preparing the Coming) because of abortion, gay marriage and prohibition of polygamy.
Now, Rapture may be immoral, the Book of Revelations may be psychotic, but this dude sounds like ObL on steroids , who wishes a 9/11 written larger of some orders of magnitude, and deserving either a padded cell or a visit by Team Six.

Tony Fisk said...

Meanwhile, downunder:

- (swallow your cornflakes first...) now read that scientists are inherent supportive of totalitarian regimes - by Peter Phelps, self-proclaimed historian, probable indignoholic, and chief whip of the NSW government (the commentary that follows is verbose, even by 'Drum' standards, and is not kind)

- Aus. climatologists threatened with violence and death. No link with the previous point, of course... and nobody mention the survey markers.

- Signs of desparation. Hundreds say 'No', while thousands say 'Yes' to a carbon tax. (there was 1 dissenter against the Melbourne crowd of 10000). Better yet is this anecdote I received from Adelaide:

"In Adelaide, a few people came with a sign which read 'No Carbon Tax' and they moved to the front of the crowd right in front of the stage and the cameras.

So I talked to them. I introduced myself, we shook hands and talked about our different views. It turns out we had more common groud than we expected. This particular group wanted climate action, they just weren't sure a tax was the way. I want climate action and I think getting our biggest polluters to pay to clean up and using the money to invest in renewables is a good start. So we laughed a bit that we agreed with each other and I gave them signs that said 'Say Yes to Climate Action' and they held them through the rally instead.
"


I'm still pondering what a suitable tag is for the rhetorical trick of ascribing your own base motives to others (eg that scientists are totalitarian stooges, and climatologists are scammers who should face criminal charges) I'm thinking 'reflection'.

Any thoughts.

matthew said...

Ah, Tony. Reflection indeed. One of the most insightful comments I've heard on the increasing radicalization of the right.
Anyone else read the profile of Fox News in the latest issue of Rolling Stone? No link as I'm on my mobile and copy/paste is beyond my skills on this meager platform, but check it out. RS is on fire the last year or so with their national reporting....

David Brin said...

Tony that is freaking scary! It is an example of the monstrous rationalizations that are being used as part of the war against intellect and expertise, the war on science, the full pitched war against accountability and thought. It is now explicit.

Only the monied oligarchy matters. All other ‘elites” have the potential to question the aristocracy. So all other “elites”... scientists, civil servants, teachers, journalists, attorneys, medical doctors, engineers, professors... all must be reduced to being “boffins.”

All must be gelded. All are the enemy.

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/2742686.html

Tony Fisk said...

Having self-affirming critters like Phelps occupying senior positions is, indeed, of concern.

However, while there definitely self-servative agitators to be found, I don't think Australia is as far down the culture war trail as the US is. If you read the commentary, including Phelp's own attempted retraction... whining that the Drum published what is a public Hansard document without his knowledge or permission, you'll see he's going to be wearing egg on his face for quite a while over this. So he should.

I don't think I'll need to pack body armour for a while yet.

Nice slogan spotted at weekend rally: 'Is your News Limited?'

I think I will start referring to the Murdoch/Al Talil press.

yanizedu: an expression of frustration at not being able to come up with a meaning for a verification code!

Paul said...

Tony,
Re: Pots calling kettles black.

Isn't the usual pop-psych term "Projection"?

Re: Reading weeklies in one hit.
Robert @Tangents,

Is there a word in the web-comic community for the sudden let-down when you discover an awesome new comic, go back to the start, hammer it for three or four days totally immersed, catch up to the current page and suddenly realise that it's updated weekly...
--
An actual spaceship docked at an actual space-station.
--
Psychic tips off Texas police to a mass grave. 25-30 bodies found. Oh wait, no. I mean, police time and money wasted on wild-goose chase.

(gumshir: Rural detective UK noir Webcomic genre.)

Brendan said...

'Is your News Limited?'

Tony that line is pure joy. I will never think of the Murdock press any other way now:-))

Robert said...

@Paul: Yeah. It's called Megatokyo Syndrome. ^^;;

Though in Fred Gallagher's defense, he's got a young child, a wife who recently went through cancer therapy (fortunately caught early but still scary as the type's normally incurable), and is running a business of which Megatokyo is just one part of.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Thanks Paul. Projection is definitely a better term

@Brendan, I almost got that 'supertokyo syndrome' feeling when I first ran into Freak Angels (curse you, Mr. Cascio!) Fortunately, I happened to hit it at the end of volume 1, so the effect wasn't too bad (it's due to finish shortly btw) .

Mind you, Ellis and Duffield have periodic 'skip weeks' for various reasons. They can certainly leave you hanging. The ultimate being
these
three
pages
at the end of one week...

...then waiting 'til next week to see this...

..so we had to wait another...
(Aaargh!)

resieses: state of mind where you keep waking up

Tacitus2 said...

While I was already familiar with several of the comics linked above I can report that your post has consumed several hours of time in which I could, in theory, have been doing something productive.
But what the heck, it's been over 100 outside and I wasn't feeling productive anyway.
Human creativity....it is a remarkable thing...

Tacitus

Detritus of Empire

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

I'm still pondering what a suitable tag is for the rhetorical trick of ascribing your own base motives to others (eg that scientists are totalitarian stooges, and climatologists are scammers who should face criminal charges) I'm thinking 'reflection'.

Any thoughts.


I thought "projection" was already the accepted term. But I kinda like yours better.

It seems to be epidemic within the Republican Party. Almost ANY time they accuse Democrats of behaving badly, they're talking about what they THEMSELVES do as a matter of course. My favorite was Charles Krauthammer's assertion that Obama was using his limited time in power to completely transform American society. Or my formerly-sane conservative buddy referring to President Obama as "Dear Leader", as if liberals follow him unquestioningly because he's our guy. "No, that's you."

Juvenile as it sounds "I know you are but what am I?" is my standard response to any accusations by Republicans. "Job-killing"? I know you are, but what am I? "No respect for the Constitution?" IKYABWAI? Etc.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

Only the monied oligarchy matters. All other ‘elites” have the potential to question the aristocracy. So all other “elites”... scientists, civil servants, teachers, journalists, attorneys, medical doctors, engineers, professors... all must be reduced to being “boffins.”

All must be gelded. All are the enemy.


Paul Krugman has lately done a good job of explaining something that we probably knew (or felt) already--that the refusal to take actions against recession/depression is not mere incompetence, but probably a deliberate strategy on behalf of the monied interests who OWN debt. Those folks are HAPPY with deflation because it makes the debt they own more valuable. Those folks would like the dollar to be re-pegged to gold because it makes the debt they own more valuable.

Class warfare indeed. They are willing to kill the goose that lays all their golden eggs under the theory that goose futures will go through the roof.

LarryHart said...

From the article in Dr Brin's link:

However, nowadays it seems that the sciences have been corrupted by enough government money and political correctness to have them operating in parallel with their socialist brothers in the humanities. Government money is given to agitate for specific ends. Why are we surprised when the ocean acidification project suddenly finds that - guess what? - oceans are acidifying.


So GOVERNMENT money is corrputing, wheras CORPORATE-funded studies and think-tanks are bastions of pure intellect with no agenda?

I think I'm getting beyond "I know you are, but what am I?" and heading toward full-fledged "Give me an effing break!"

LarryHart said...

Tacitus:

But what the heck, it's been over 100 outside and I wasn't feeling productive anyway.


Hey, I forgot that you'd be pretty much sharing my weather right now. Not much distance between Wisconsin and Chicago.

I hear relief is on the way, though. They're calling for us to drop into the FIFTIES tomorrow afternoon, if you can believe that.

I'm reminded of a scene in the now-famous "Dark Knight Returns" Batman story, which begins with Gotham City suffering through a protracted heat wave (103 in the shade), but the weatherman says that a huge storm front which promises relief is headed for Gotham. "Like the wrath of God, it's headed for Gotham."

Bruce said...

"Apocamon" seems a bit of a muddle - on the one hand it's an overly literal satire of the Book of Revelations, but on the other it has various modern Fundie revelations turn out to be the literal truth - science and the UN really _are_ an evil conspiracy, and Bill Clinton actually is the anticrist. Logically speaking, shouldn't that mean that the various non-Christians we see are devil-worshippers? Perhaps the author chickened out at that point: in any event, it becomes harder to be outraged at the end of the world if the liberal, secular, scientific world we hold hope for is actually a satanic baby-eating conspiracy to begin with. My interest in the story largely went "poof" after the scene with the Evil Scientists.

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman has his game on today:

Luke Johnson:

-> Or take Paul Krugman, the Nobel
-> laureate and Princeton
-> professor who pontificates in
-> the New York Times.
-> His gloomy prognostications and
-> obsession with slamming the
-> Republicans mean he offers
-> nothing by way of useful advice
-> to those of us who actually
-> run a business.

True, I guess. Also, I offer nothing by way of useful advice to people trying to plan a wedding, or learning to play the banjo. That’s not what the column is about!

Actually, though, about those gloomy prognostications: doesn’t the fact that they have been, um, right count for something?


As to that last line, I guess Dr Brin often asks himself the same question.

Stefan Jones said...

A few years back, after various GURPS Uplift playtesters pointed it out, I read through the whole run of Freefall. Now I have to wait as things slowwwwwly develop . . .

Having learned my lesson, I read three panels of Gunnerkrigg Court every week, occasionally splurging on an extra three. It will take a while before hitting the "present" strips.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

I've taken to holding off on El Goonish Shive for one to two months at a time and then reading the entire run. Though that's less because of the update schedule (3x a week, usually) and more because I'm in the midst of an experiment to determine if cartoonist Dan Shive's assertion that the comic is meant to be read in one sitting and thus becomes more enjoyable is in fact true.

So far it's looking like it is. But I am unsure as to the validity of the argument as I've been seeing the very elements of storytelling I've been shouting to the hills for Shive to utilize rather than idiocy, magic creep (where eventually every character will have magical powers, I swear), and combat-based conflict. In short, the comic needs to focus on sociological and emotional conflicts rather than fight scenes and the like. And in fact Shive should avoid unnecessary conflicts in lieu of characterization and character development.

But that's just my opinion as a critic.

Rob H.

Robert said...

Oh, and I forgot one other science webcomic: Nukees, which is mostly science-based, though there are a couple of near-death scenes where we're unsure if Gav was hallucinating or actually did see some form of afterlife. Mostly it's about engineering, college, and nuclear sciences.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

Plus 'Sluggy Freelance', which is more mad than science. Still, it does have mad scientists, alternate universes featuring anything from demons to purple-haired Esperanto speakers, and dimensional flux agitators.

Aylee was kind of fun, too.

mordicai said...

At the end of the day, Dresden Codak is too, too, too amazing not to put as #1. At least, in a poll that doesn't have MSPaintAdventures in it.

Stefan Jones said...

There's a video of Dr. Brin's talk at Maker Faire on this page:

http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/06/center-stage-at-maker-faire-bay-area-2011.html

'triallmi': Oh, I'm out of ideas.

David Brin said...

wanna puke? Read this:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43339983/ns/today-today_pets_and_animals/

Read all the way down.

And then bookmark it for the next time you need to clean out your system after a binge.

Brendan said...

Perhaps congress could pass a law stating if a will leaves an animal more than one million it can be declared voided-since the person who wrote it was obviously nucking futs.

rewinn said...

Who would have guessed that the first body part to modified in Uplift ... would be the wallet?

TheMadLibrarian said...

As a Cultural Sidelight, did you realize that the ad appearing right below this column is for Liberty University Online? I suffer from conceptual whiplash.

TheMadLibrarian

wimisto: a passing cloudy fancy

Paul said...

Brendan,
"Perhaps congress could pass a law stating if a will leaves an animal more than one million it can be declared voided-since the person who wrote it was obviously nucking futs."

But I doubt it would work. I suspect that in many jurisdictions they already do it via legal trusts, because the animal can't directly inherit. And passing laws preventing the creation of trusts established to care for an animal, without interfering with normal philanthropism, would be too difficult.

sociotard said...

Wasn't she the one who also left a vast sum of money to improve the lives of dogs? And Dr. Brin suggested the money go to sequence the dog biome?

kathy said...

your blog is really helpful~thank you for sharing~

Paul said...

ScienceNotFiction talks about euthanasia and the parallel between people who oppose euthanasia and those who oppose transhumanism and life-extension.

Kyle also mentions Terry Pratchett's idea of an euthanasia tribunal. With the intent of ensuring that the "applicant" is of sound mind, making a deliberate, well-thought-out decision.

("an euthanasia"?)

(ragish: Deper, dabonair, lovable-rouge.)

LarryHart said...

Holy crap, what's in the water this morning? By the time I was driving into work, I had already encountered two separate instances of right-wing blather that was ripe for an "I know you are, but what am I?" response.

Over morning coffee, I saw a letter printed in the Chicago Tribune asking why voters should have to wait for 2012 to get rid of President Obama and the "enabling Democrats" in congress...why we can't just recall them now. His laundry list of complaints? Well, let's just quote, shall we:

Our unemployment continues to escalate, our national debt is beyond comprehension and will forever hurt our children and grandchildren, the housing market has collapsed, Medicare is almost broke, Social Security has been robbed by our own government, Medicaid is failed, we have no energy policy that will make us energy independent, our foreign policy is a joke as we have rejected our best ally (namely Israel) and we pledge money to Arab countries, crime in our cities escalates, illegal immigrants continue to flow over our own borders and we have committed our brave military to countries that hate us.
...
Let's start a total recall of the president and all Democratic Party legislators, as we the citizens have lost total confidence in our government. Let it start now, as we can't wait until 2012.


ALL of those things were either begun under GOP rule, or continued because of the intrangisence of GOP congresspeople. And yet, this guy thinks the answer is to throw the Democrats out and return to 2005? Really, what is there TO say but "I know you are, but what am I?"

Since that wasn't enough, on the way into work, a conservative caller to Bill Press's (liberal) radio show opined at how scary a second Obama term would be because he might appoint a "leftist idealogue" to the Supreme Court and "transform America into something unrecognizable". As opposed, I guess, to the five conservative idelogues who have given us corporate personhood? This is an echo of the exact Charles Krauthammer comment I mentioned yesterday--the meme that LIBERALS mean to "irrevocably transform America" when that's exactly what RIGHTIES intend.

Tim H. said...

Do you suppose that's what they wanted the tax cuts for, to care for dogs?
"palical" to vent ill-considered opinions, and various orally-emitted FMEs.

Tim H. said...

So Larry, time to prepare for the vile spectacle of "TeaTards" seduced, used roughly and left in the gutter? Again?

LarryHart said...

Tim, long-time "Simpsons" viewers may remember the show where the Republican Party (named as such) convinces Mayor Quimby to let Sideshow Bob out of prison, and then Sideshow Bob runs against Quimby for mayor.

In the show, an attack ad accuses the mayor of being so corrput that "He even let convicted felon Sideshow Bob out of prison!" Since the viewer isn't supposed to want someone THAT vile in office, he is invited instead to "Vote for Sideshow Bob."

This line of "thinking" is no longer satire. It is GOP campaign policy. "The Democrats are so incompetent that they failed to correct the damage WE caused. Vote for us."

And the thing of it is, that seems to be a winning strategy.

guthrie said...

Disturbingly enough, I remember reading Electric sheep 11 years ago.
Furthermore, I've been reading XKCD for years, Abstruse goose since shortly after it started, girl genius for the last 3 or 4 years, and recall reading Schlock mercenaries once 5 or 6 years ago, let alone running through Dresden Kodak 6 or 7 years ago? Something like that anyway.

Tree lobsters, when did I first read them? Years ago. Not that many though.
So does that make me a geek?

On the crushing of alternative forms of power through expertise and their reduction to boffins, Dr Brin is spot on. I'm only in my early 30's, but realised that there's been an attack on expertise and alternative centres of power for the last 30 years. The stalking horse for it has been "management", everything else being reduced into something that can be managed, and all jobs with any sort of power turned into the job of management, thereby removing individual and separate exercise of professional expertise.

So here in the UK we have universities being run by managers (who welcome the gvt changes because it'll give them more power and more pay), the destruction of unions, local councils and other possible foci of resistance to centralised desires, and the setting of targets for everything, from the centre to the management.

And as a manager, you don't have to know anything about what you manage. Experts and their expertise and experience are just pawns.

David Brin said...

Sorry about the ads, guys, but I assume you won't mind my finally getting a teensy bit of income out of this, when ten thousand folks are making a LIVING out of blogging(!) The ads are stuffed tastefully at the bottom. Did not see Liberty University. At this moment it is Blockbuster. I am a happy customer, by the way. ;-)

I did suggest the Helmsley Trust look into dog uplift. Like they'd listen.

LarryHart said...

guthrie:

And as a manager, you don't have to know anything about what you manage. Experts and their expertise and experience are just pawns.

As a child in the 60s and 70s, I remember my dad explaining to me that the manager of a restaurant had to know how to do the jobs of every employee and to be able to fill in for any one of them if necessary.

I took that to heart.

At my first real job in the 90s, it took me a while to realize that managers were no longer like that. Instead, they were expert only in giving orders. They couldn't do the jobs of the workers they manage if their lives depended on it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"And as a manager, you don't have to know anything about what you manage. Experts and their expertise and experience are just pawns.

As a child in the 60s and 70s, I remember my dad explaining to me that the manager of a restaurant had to know how to do the jobs of every employee and to be able to fill in for any one of them if necessary.

I took that to heart.

At my first real job in the 90s, it took me a while to realize that managers were no longer like that. Instead, they were expert only in giving orders. They couldn't do the jobs of the workers they manage if their lives depended on it."

This is a British/American (and us ex-colonists)idea the Japanese and the Germans think "management" is a skill that professionals like Engineers and accountants need - only in the English speaking world is "management" an actual profession

Paul said...

Re: Doggy millionaires.

Hmmm, while I doubt that you can simply ban such insane animal inheritance; I wonder if you could bring in a limited form of inheritance tax, one that only applies to non-individual inheritance. The ageing wealthy might object, but their children might not object too strongly.
--
Robert Gates tells think-tank that NATO has no future. He makes a good point that only 5 member nations (the US, the UK, France, Greece and for some reason Albania) are spending the agreed 2% minimum GDP on defence, and thus many nations can't maintain their commitment against Libya...

...and then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid on Afghanistan, "where the United States bears the overwhelming burden of resourcing and funding." Yep, you break it, you buy it.

(reble: and he'll never ever spell any good. He's a reble 'cause he never ever types what he should)

Paul said...

Has anyone mentioned
Big Fat Whale by Brian McFadden? Teh funz0rz.

(paquetr: The art of background image tiling.)

Paul said...

Happy Galaxy is happy.

(Swift, via NASA)

rewinn said...

1. I don't mind a reasonable number of ads on the blog; we all gotta eat! There's a lot of ads on the internets anyway; the brain starts filtering them out, mostly, and sometimes they lead to something interesting. The ad I saw at the bottom of this post was an HSBC ad using Chinese text. I had no prayer of understanding the text but curiosity drove me to click on it!

2. Someone at the Wisconsin State Capitol seems to have been arresting people for walking in the state capitol carrying a camera. One response might be to give every demonstrator a camera!

3. The science comix list was great; I've been reading about half of them and now I have more to add to my Reader feed. We need more hours in the day! It's hard to vote on which is my favorite, since few are directly comparable. xkcd is more consistently witty and erudite; SMBC covers some of the same material but seems to rely on graphic presentation rather than text - perhaps a good example of differing thinking styles? Schlock may be the most plot-driven and I briefly pondered why it counted as a science-driven comic; while it makes reference to various bits of astronomy, it is unusual in that the entire overarching plotline was started and is sustained by a destabilitizing scientific achievement. Then there's its causal yet educational disquisitions on military science (often in the form of one of the "70 Maxims") which, despite the fondness of science fiction for Things That Go Boom, don't seem to be as well represented in much of the literature as the objective sciences (e.g. physics).

David Brin said...

Do not click anything, but have a look at this.

Who the hell says sci fi doesn't pay?

http://www.quantumjumping.com/

unbe-freaking lievable

TheMadLibrarian said...

I don't at all begrudge you the ads. There are times, however, I suspect you might like a little more say about what your blog is advertising!

Duncan, I think it might be a result of our gradual drift away from a manufacturing economy towards a service oriented one. When you don't produce a tangible product but an intangible, you need some way to measure the intangible. Managers-as-managers-only is an attempt to get a handle on service as goods. BTW, I had the same ethic drummed into me as well, and still can perform every level of my current job from bottom up. I think more of our current mess could have been avoided if that particular way of thinking had remained prevalent. More managers, both middle and upper, would be inclined to take a long hard look at some of the irrational directives emanating from boardrooms lately, and argue against them.

TheMadLibrarian

pawbo: Tae-bo for pets

LarryHart said...

Mad Librarian:

More managers, both middle and upper, would be inclined to take a long hard look at some of the irrational directives emanating from boardrooms lately, and argue against them.


My latest counter-rant to those who claim as axiomatic that GOVERNMENT bureaucrats have no idea how an organization functions, and that businessmen are more grounded in reality--

Everybody at any level of business knows (intelletually) that you can't simultanously maximize cost-savings, speed, and quality. You can focus on one or two of those, but only at the expense of the others. Yet, whenever one is assigned a project and asks whether they want it done cheap, quick, or right, what is the inevitable answer to the question? Without exception, "All of them" (sometimes humorously expressed by just "Yes.").

Point being, business executives are hardly paragons of realistic or logical thinking.

David Brin said...

We need the Golgafrincham B Ark.

Brin's own patented joke about how to help Russia and the US at the same time?

Send them half our lawyers. Freedom and efficiency and justice go up in both countries.

Send them half the graduates of our business schools. Both economies boom.

Send them half of NASA middle managers. We get a great space program! They get excellent farm labor.

Stefan Jones said...

That Quantum Snake Oil deal is both ludicrous and brilliant.

I'm not sure which is more aggravating:

That there are people shameless enough to come up with this nonsense, or that some people will fall for it.

Ian said...

So why exactly do the US keep referring to Israel as america's "best ally"?

Let's compare Israel with Australia.

- Australia doesn't take a cent in military or other aid from the US;

- Australia currently has combat troops in Afghanistan. Previously we fought alongside the US in Iraq (twice), Vietnam and Korea. (Israel sat out everything after Korea.)

- during the Cold War, Australia hosted key US bases that made us a prime nuclear target

Conversely Australia has never:

- bombed an American warship

- been caught running a spy-ring inside the Pentagon

- run over an american protester with an Army bulldozer.

so what exactly does Israel do that so endears it to the American Right?

Kill Arabs?

Ian said...

"Robert Gates tells think-tank that NATO has no future. He makes a good point that only 5 member nations (the US, the UK, France, Greece and for some reason Albania) are spending the agreed 2% minimum GDP on defence, and thus many nations can't maintain their commitment against Libya..."

There's a simple answer to why Albania spends 2%+ of GDP on defense.

I'm not convinced that the gross level of expenditure by most European NATO states is the core of the problem though.

Turkey spends below the 2% limit but still has a highly competent military.

The reason is that they spend their money primarily on equipping and training their troops and buy most of their equipment from the best international supplier.

(Australia does much the same with the exception of occasional pork-barrelling projects like the Collins class subs or politically motivated purchases of US equipment like the JSF when there are better, cheaper solutions to our specific needs.)

The Europeans spend too much on disgused industry policy by buying locally developed equipment when they could save money by buying elsewhere.)

Their military organizatiosn are typically top-heavy with too many paper-pushing bureaucrats-disguised-as-offices and not enough square pounders.

This is complicated by the fact that several European countries still have conscription and others abolished it in the relatively recent past.

That led to political opposition to actually putting conscripts in harm's way under almost any circumstances.i


Kosovo

LarryHart said...

Ian:

so what exactly does Israel do that so endears it to the American Right?

Kill Arabs?


I'm sure that doesn't hurt.

But the number one reason the right fawns all over Israel is that it gets them the support of the "powerful" American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and "powerful" might as well be part of the proper name.

The fanatics on the RELIGIOUS right also seem to want Israel to initiate the battle of Armageddon. But they're not the ones pulling the strings. For the power-brokers themselves, it's all about AIPAC and the Jewish vote.

The thing is, at 50 years old, I can still remember a time when the Republican base wouldn't have allwed Jews (or Catholics) into their country clubs.

Ian said...

"But the number one reason the right fawns all over Israel is that it gets them the support of the "powerful" American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), and "powerful" might as well be part of the proper name."

And yet the majority of American Jews continue to vote Democrat.

LarryHart said...

Ian:

And yet the majority of American Jews continue to vote Democrat.


Well, as one of them, I'm proud of that fact. I like to think it has something to do with Jewish Americans respecting education. The anti-intellectualism of the GOP is anathema to us.

Jews are also accuetly aware that our citizenship of any country is tenuous. The Russian pogroms, the Spansh Inquisition, and of course Nazi Germany are never far from the realm of possibility. Note how even pro-Israel right-wing talkers like Glenn Beck slip in coded references to "international bankers" or "non-Christians in Hollywood" quite often. With friends like those, we don't need enemies.

American Jews rely on this being "a nation of laws", because as soon as it becomes about being an insider in a club, we're toast. The whole "America is a Christian nation!" thing is a big negative, not because we expect it to be a Jewish nation or an atheist nation, but because we count on it being a secular one.

The GOP plays to Jewish support and fears by emphasizing its rabid pro-Israeli position, but not all American Jews ARE rabidly pro-Israel, and even those who are don't think that Israel is always in the right on everything. Jews are masters of self-criticism (both as Jews and as Americans), which to us is a continuous challenge to ourselves to do better--to improve. But to Republicans comes across as anti-Israel or anti-American. Republicans don't believe in self-criticism, and treat outside criticism as the moral equivalent of war.

So I would HOPE most American Jews would vote Democrat. As far as I'm concerned, there's no good reason to do otherwise. And I say this as someone whose 78-year-old father voted for McCain/Palin. Thank goodness there was no way he was going to swing Illinois. :)

David Brin said...

There are scary creepy aspects. Some of Israel's most fervent supporters keep asking, "when are you going to tear down that mosque and rebuild the temple?"

Um... so that soon thereafter the BoR wrath scenario can play out, destroying this world amid unparalleled suffering. So that those jews who do not INSTANTLY convert will then have fountains of blood gush from their eyes.

Hmph. Some friends.

My answer is: "Over my dead body."

Tony Fisk said...

Veering kinda back on topic with science-based comics (actually the comic-book authenticity of reality TV)
I've just finished watching an elimination round of Australian Masterchef, wherein the hapless contestants had to make a burger, fries, and soft drink.

The gotcha was that the burger, fries and drink were to be made according to the specifications of a chap called Heston Blumenthal. This guy is a three Michelin star chef who specialises in full sensory immersion cooking, and the exacting, tinkery science of molecular gastronomy*.

I think he could quite readily set up a booth serving his wares at the Maker Fair.

One of these four was going out of the competition but, from the joyous glee on their faces as they played with liquid nitrogen, it was clearly quite a way to go!

*Is it the white coats that have such an adverse effect on sanity? Muahahahaha!

andarnis: the little-known 'sixth' taste associated with tofu, and the Minbari dish 'flarn'. (also reputed to be part of the attraction of crottled gleebs)

LarryHart said...

Some of Israel's most fervent "supporters" seem to be champing at the bit for "Let's you and him fight!" Currently, they're on Israel's case to pre-emptively strike Iran.

I remember back in the 80s when the Republicans hadn't yet decided that Israel was always right. There was some incident where an Arab terrorist group took at least one AMERICAN hostage and demanded a release of a prisoner being held by Israel. Until then, Israel had had a policy of NEVER negotiating with terrorists, but in deference to the fact that the hostage was American, they said they'd deal if the US asked them to.

I thought that was an incredible show of deference to the United States. Conservative talker Bob Novak did not see it that way, though. He was OUTRAGED that Israel put the onus on the United Stages to ASK. According to Novak, Israel should have just done the deal--reversed their own national policy--on their own. According to Novak at the time, Israel should act in America's interests rather than in her own.

Three decades later, the coin has flipped. Now, Republican candidates campaign on America acting in Israel's interests ahead of our own.

sociotard said...

When I read that Uplift book where the alien murderer had lasers in his eyes, I called phooey. I thought making lasers with a biological apparatus was complete rubber-science.

Shows how much I know.

Ian said...

Co-operation is indisputably one of the characteristics which differentiates humans from other species.

We aren't the only species that co-operates but we do it more frequently and on a larger scale.

Unfortunately there's a lot of muddled thinking about cooperation.

Right-wing ideologues try to deny it exists or assume it can only operate within rigidly defined contractual arrangements.

Left-wing ideologues hear "co-operation " and picture hearts and flowers and a commune with, like, really amazing weed.

Both groups would likely benefit from reading up on the Turkana.

The Turkana are a nomadic ethnic group from East Africa who typically live in small isolated family groups.

The Turkana lack any form of social organization larger than the individual household.

Nevertheless, they are capable of assembling groups of several hundred people for joint projects.

The thing is - those projects involve robbing, or waging war on, other ethnic groups.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20565-it-is-human-nature-to-cooperate-with-strangers.html

LarryHart said...

Ian:

Nevertheless, they are capable of assembling groups of several hundred people for joint projects.

The thing is - those projects involve robbing, or waging war on, other ethnic groups.


Heh.

Yeah, co-operation is somewhat easier when "you" and "me" temporarily unite against "them". Dr Brin has written quite a bit about the concept of "otherness".

That's actually how Republicans court the Jewish and Catholic vote these days. "We consider you guys SECOND-class citizens, but that still puts you much better off than those TWELFTH-class Muslims and atheists. The liberals and Democrats wouldn't give you any more standing than they give to THEM."

rewinn said...

@Ian - current and recent Israeli government's policies are very helpful to our military-industrial complex.

The religious stuff is important too, but follow the money!

rewinn said...

And now, a step toward Living Lasers!.

Which will of course be used only for good; a living communication system would be ever so much more useful than sharks with frickin' laser beams!

Tony Fisk said...

... or T.Rexes in F14s...

dimicull: a tempting thought in the Age of Stupid (or, 'What Daisy Did Next')

Rob said...

Andy Sandberg is going to have such fun with those living lasers. In cats.

Paul said...

Solar cycle 24 was a bit of a wash out, now the sun is refusing to enter solar cycle 25.

Via Discovery News

Could we be entering a new Maunder Minimum, and hence a new Little Ice Age? Expect the AGW-deniers to be even more shouty when the global temp goes down.

Paul said...

Re: Biological lasers.

Don't get too exciting (ha!), but the cells are just being used as the activator or "pump" stage in a more conventional laser. They are as much "lasers" as ruby crystals or helium gas is in a ruby- or helium laser.

Anyway, first candidate for frickin' lasers, cyclists. (Rips off or extends a similar Australian-developed idea from a few years ago. Although in that case, the laser shined out the rear, so... yeah.)

Paul said...

SpaceRef has a more detailed, less dumbed down, article on the researchers worried about solar cycle 25.

(If we do enter a period of low solar activity, fewer solar storms is good for the power-grid, and satellites, and human space-flight, but reduced solar outflow allows more cosmic rays, which is bad for long-duration space flight and permanent human colonisation.)

David Brin said...

Amazing
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/06/15/137172713/is-this-even-real

David Brin said...

Being pirated again. By people who say "I love Brin".

http://www.demonoid.me/files/details/2553702?load_bal=002014149436&show_files=1&page=1&ref=1301512376

http://www.demonoid.me/files/details/
2553702?load_bal=002014149436&show_files=
1&page=1&ref=1301512376

I can't find a way in to message these folks. But if someone passed on words from me they would say.

"I am a middle class, freelance writer with two kids in college and another on the way. I have fought for internet liberty. (For example in The Transparent Society .) For those reasons and just out of courtesy, may I ask -- as a favor -- that you pull down my novels from your site?

"Better yet, only post the first half of each? With a recommendation that people who are enthralled might then pay six bucks for a week's pleasure?

Seriously, is it a crime for me to hope I might get a few dimes out of the joy people get, from hours and hours of entertainment and cool ideas that I provide?

"Thanks and here's to freedom.
David Brin

Jacob said...

I'm curious. If we pay 6 dollars at a store. How much of that do you get? Do they even let you get a sense for how much and where middle men get their cuts?

David Brin said...

STandard for authors is between 6% and 10% for paperbacks and between 12% and 20% for hardcovers. Though Generally Stephen King et al get the high end. Does that help?

Jacob said...

Thanks.

Paul said...

David,
Re: Piracy.

I wouldn't stress out too much. There was research in the Napster days that showed that people who pirate something (music/games/etc) usually spend more money buying that same thing than people who don't pirate. Ie, people who pirate your ebooks will likely spend more on your books than people who don't.

That said, an "I pirate your e-books, and would like to send you an equivalent royalty" paypal donate button on your homepage might help people who don't like the thought of paying "teh corporations", but like to support the actual artists.

François Marcadé said...

Being pirated again. By people who say "I love Brin".

Good thing you mentioned that because I intended to buy a few books because my "to read pile" is being depleted. I will make a point of Buying or ordering one of your book. If I cannot find "Glory Season", I will re-read "Earth"(that a friend had lent me 20 years ago) and it is good that I have a copy at home because I guess my oldest daughter might like reading it in 2-3 years time.

Tim H. said...

Paperbacks have been listing at $7.99 lately, about what I paid for The Silmarilion 34 years ago. Not so much the price going up as the dollar losing value.
"rephys" Second opinion.

Paul said...

Tim,
"Paperbacks have been listing at $7.99 lately"

6% of $7.99 is around 48c. So David's royalty is roughly 50c per paperback?

(evigyraf: That's Lord Evihyraf to you.)

ell said...

Science fiction coming true: Two kids' medical ailments were treated through gene mapping:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110615/ ap_on_he_me/us_med_genome_mapping

ell said...

Yet another conspiracy theory for fun and profit: A village with mysterious qualities is the only safe place during the 2012 apocalypse.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110616/od_uk _nm/oukoe_uk_france_sects

rewinn said...

In re piracy, I recall a Sunday long-form Dilbert (... a comic that is mysteriously absent from the original post; will the eternal rivalry between scientists and engineers never end? ...) in which a popular musician applies for a dead-end job at Dilbert's company. IIRC, it went like this:

Dilbert: "I love your music. I download it all the time! Why are you looking for a job?"

Musician: "Have you ever paid for a copy of my music?"

---

Perhaps, Dr. Brin, you could finish your missive to the pirates with a request that, if they cannot find it in their hearts to pay for your work, could they at least forward your resume to the HR department of their companies?

Robert said...

Speaking of Dilbert, recent blog posts from Adams are painting him out to be a closet misogynist. However, one person did suggest that it was so heavyhanded you could taste the Swift on him (as in Jonathan Swift - http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html ).

So, thoughts: is he being a misogynist, or is he trying to parody the misogynist viewpoint with his own "modest proposal?"

Rob H.

Marino said...

Re: Uplift
Look at the pics...
well, one hopes beluga whales aren't as horny as Sa'hot was with Dennie :

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2004042/Naked-female-scientist-tries-tame-beluga-whales-arctic.html

Princess of whales: How a naked female scientist tries to tame belugas in the freezing Arctic
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

Braving sub-zero temperatures, she has thrown caution — and her clothes — to the wind to tame two beluga whales in a unique and controversial experiment.
Natalia Avseenko, 36, was persuaded to strip naked as marine experts believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials such as diving suits.
The skilled Russian diver took the plunge as the water temperature hit minus 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

Well, she had to an hottie,in order to survive water so cold...:-)

Robert said...

And let's hope those whales aren't as big of perverts as some dolphins are toward human females.

Paul said...

Marino,
"[she] was persuaded to strip naked as marine experts believe belugas do not like to be touched by artificial materials such as diving suits."

Is that the "left handed screw-driver" of marine biology?

"Uh, yeah, no, sweetheart, sure you can swim wit' 'em, but ya gotta be nekked. Why? Uhh, yeah, see they don' like, uhh, artificial material touchin' 'em and stuff. Hey, I don' make da rules."

Aaron said...

I like Scenes from a Multiverse and Dresdan Codak. Since I'm a big fan of and have read many DC(A lot of Superman especially) and Marvel comics, they seem more like my cup of tea. Girl Genius looks very interesting as well.

Allari Ruiz said...

Dresden Codak all the way, and the art keeps getting better amd quite inspiring.

Anonymous said...

This is a nice science webcomic as well

http://www.lawebdefisica.com/humor/tiras

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