Recommended daily reading – 1 February (nice quotes edition)

I have a series of pointers to pieces with individual quotations that I find to be particularly perceptive, or that articulate views I have in a perfect way. Emphasis is mine.

At CBR’s “She has no Head”, Kelly Thompson presents the Ladies Comics Project, and one of her readers, Nora, has this wonderful comment on women’s bodies in comics:

Not going to lie, I’m always a little disappointed in the insane bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio of comic book ladies (or at least the ones I have seen).  I recognize it as a style, I know it’s fantasy, but, you know, not mine.

Originally linked from Thompson’s 1979 Semi-Finalist.

At the Spacing Toronto blog, economist Hugh McKenzie has this pitch perfect discussion of government revenues and spending. What he says in the interview seems so simple and rational, you would think that we could proceed from this premise in all discussions of public budgets. Sadly, not true.

A city’s means aren’t fixed. A government’s means are determined politically, just as government expenses are determined politically. To say that the City should “live within its means” is to say nothing whatsoever. It only masks an argument for less services. When people make that suggestion, it’s undisclosed code for, “We know the cost of what we’re currently doing is going up and we’re not prepared to see taxes go up every year to pay for it. Therefore, every year we’re going to have to reduce the amount of services being provided.”

Finally, on Crooked Timber, John Quiggin has this insightful comment at the close of a piece on “U.S. decline”:

The main implication of all this, for me, is that Americans should stop worrying about relative “decline”, “competitiveness” and so on, and start focusing on making the US a better place to live.

In other political items, Carla Wise has a piece at High Country News on the lack of USDA approved slaughterhouses and the implications of that lack for small and local farmers, including one of our favorites, Afton Field Farm. And on Mother Jones, Kevin Drum reblogs three questions about events in Egypt and how American neocons are likely to respond to those events.

In comics and art:

  • On Techland, Douglas Wolk has some good advice to owners, or would-be owners of comics shops. I particularly am in favor of promoting points 2 and 3, and would second his statement about the quality of the stores in Portland.
  • At Written World, Ragnell has an interesting take on DC’s announcement of a Wonder Woman-themed cosmetic line.
  • Haven’t linked to Renee French in awhile, but the other day she posted this wonderfully goofy dog. And back on the Spacing Toronto blog is the latest of their lovely “Street Scenes” from Jerry Waese.
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Recommended daily reading – 26 January (been longer than I thought edition)

Items that I have been compiling.

From the world of academia:

  • Last week, Michelle Obama gave a little noted talk encouraging study abroad for American college students. Her focus on China is predictable, but I do appreciate that she seems to have grounded that in a broader appeal. It isn’t easy getting Western students to leave the comforts of home, but maybe as the university attracts more international students itself, that will change.
  • On her Cocktail Party Physics blog, Jennifer Ouellette has a great post on Veronica Mars as a model for girls in science.
  • rabble.ca has an interesting post about the University of Toronto General Assembly, which is an attempt on the part of students, faculty, staff, and community to build an alternate governing model for the university.

Turning to comics:

  • Via Ragnell on Written World, is a link to this Metrokitty comic on the “paper mirror” which succinctly explains why diversity in comics matters.
  • On the other side of that debate, Gail Simone on her tumblr blog, tangles with an aspiring comics writer regarding his desire not to be compelled to write a comics with a gay hero.
  • Project:Rooftop recently featured this cool Victorian Batman by Matthew Humphreys.
  • Finally, it isn’t really news anymore, but I learned of the new Batman film casting via Comics Alliance. Right now, I am mostly interested to know what it means that Anne Hathaway has been cast as “Selina Kyle” rather than as Catwoman.

And in urban geography, via Inhabitat, Washington DC unveiled a bike station adjacent to Union Station. On the Spacing Magazine blog, Alex Bozikovic, looks at an interesting contest to design wildlife pathways for major roads and highways. Some very cool ideas. And in my feed at least, via ProgGrrl on Twitter, I found this interesting map showing where in the U.S. it make more sense to rent and where it makes more sense to buy. Culturally, of course, in the U.S. ownership is always assumed to be better.

Recommended daily reading – 13 January

A few items of note from the past few days:

On Comics Alliance, David Brothers analyzes data on digital comics sales. He finds that, in contrast to the direct market, digital comics sales are dominated by independent and smaller publishers and creator-owned works. What this means for comics, or what this tells us about who is buying what, are still open questions, but these results are interesting for how dramatic the contrast is between the two sides of the market.

In matters related to environment, creativity, and urban spaces, Juxtapoz explains how to make graffiti from moss, and Inhabitat points to a New York restaurant that is using the rooftop of its building to grow fruits and vegetables.

Two short, funny, though still dismaying, takes on Sarah Palin and the state of political discourse in the U.S.: one from cartoonist Matt Bors and the other via Crooked Timber.

Finally, ComicCritics has a perceptive strip on a particular expression of comics fandom.

Recommended daily reading – 22 December

A few interesting links before I begin working on a new “Worlds in Panels”:

Marguerite Reardon, yesterday on cnet, has a good overview of the new FCC rules regarding net neutrality. In the end, this looks like one of those political compromises that can be cast as the ‘right’ solution because no one is happy with it, but, in fact, no one is happy because the decision makes little sense as an approach to the problem at hand.

At The Unofficial Apple Weblog is speculation as to whether Apple will be a target of “Anonymous” now that the company has pulled the WikiLeaks app from the store. I am disappointed that this choice was made, but have long given up the illusion that just because I like their tech and design sensibilities that Apple is anything other than a profit-maximizing, risk-averse corporation.

In the cities and design realm, on Lost Remote, I saw this piece about interactive bus shelters in San Francisco. The article is really just a ‘teaser’ about the project, but I am certainly intrigued by the possibilities of using public space like this for social interaction and play.

In comics movie news:

  • At The Wild Hunt, Jason delivers the best response I have read to the racist furor over Idris Elba having been cast as Heimdall in the upcoming Thor movie (link via Ragnell on Twitter).
  • And this casting news, from MTV’s Splash Page, is something I like.

Finally, a Christmas memory from Kate Beaton.

Recommended daily reading – 20 December (emptying out the archive edition)

Been neglecting this part of the blog lately:

First, the most topical item. Via the freepress Save The Internet blog, bad news about the FCC and Net Neutrality. If you care about access to the internet, do what you can to forestall this action.

In other political news, but late-ish now, on Written World, Ragnell has a well-argued reponse to former DC President Paul Leyritz’s comment to the effect that superhero stories ‘fundamentally’ appeal to boys more than girls. Ragnell smartly hones in on the essentialism of this statement as the underlying problem with Leyritz’s perspective on the genre.

IFC has been promoting their new original series, Portlandia, premiering in January. The show will satirize life in my hometown, Portland, Oregon, particularly as the city boomed with ‘creatives’ starting in the 1990s. Looking forward to checking it out, and curious as to how people who don’t really know Portland will respond to the series.

From the world of webcomics:

(Sidenote: the links I collected for this post are the first from Pinboard. I made the switch from delicious over the weekend. Here’s why – assuming you don’t already know.)

Recommended daily reading – 7 December (finals week edition)

A few notes as I await the deluge of papers:

On Reassigned Time 2.0, Dr. Crazy has a personal view on why she is not interested in moving from faculty to administration. I can only say, “yes”, to what she writes, but I also appreciate how she manages to explain her own thoughts and feelings without tearing down those who are interested in becoming department chairs, or even moving higher up in the hierarchy. I should add that I have to be department chair in geography every six years or so, but the kind of position Crazy is writing about is more akin to what are “division chairs” at Western. Department chair is not a ‘real’ administrative position at my school, and like most faculty, in geography we just rotate every two years and everyone takes a turn. There are certain pieces of paper we have to sign, we are often the first contact for potential majors and minors, etc., but we are mostly interlocuters for the actual administrators than we are administrators ourselves.

Following up on my last Recommended daily reading post, I notice that the current focus on the humanities as a place to cut back on higher education budgets is continuing to get push back, which is heartening. Inside Higher Ed notes a campaign in Ireland to see the humanities as a tool for economic growth, while at Crooked Timber is an announcement of Dutch-government funded initiatives in inter- and multi-disciplinary programs in the humanities.

On Robot 6 is a discussion of Creative Commons and comic book characters. I am encouraged to see comic book creators thinking about these issues. Given the economics of comics, and how readily the medium lends itself to digital, it probably isn’t a surprise that writers and artists in the field would be out in front on thinking about copyright in nuanced ways.

And last, two drawings from Renee French, a nervous looking rodent and a sort of Cthulu-like character.

Recommended daily reading – 17 November (been a week edition)

Here are a few items from the last few days:

On “She Has No Head!”, Kelly Thompson lists her twenty favorite female comics characters (link via Thompson’s blog). I think she makes good cases for all of the selections, but notable exclusions for me are: Kate Spencer/Manhunter, Helena Bertenelli/Huntress, Liz Sherman (B.P.R.D. and Hellboy), Tamsin from Skeleton Key, and Esther de Groot from Scary Go Round and Giant Days. If I were to really do this exercise, I would seriously consider Patsy Walker/Hellcat, Elsa Bloodstone (NEXT Wave), and Bethany Black (Strange Girl). I’m not sure if or how autobiographical characters fit into these kinds of discussions, but Marjane Satrapi would certainly make me want to think about it. As always, the tough question is who to take off of the original list.

Addendum: one of the fun and frustrating things about these lists is that once your brain starts working on them, it’s hard to let go. So, on further thought, Melaka Fray (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would likely be on my still hypothetical alternate selection, and it would be hard to leave off Hopey and Isabel from Love & Rockets, but not specifically as replacements for Maggie.

Torontoist has a feature on artist Sean Martindale’s urban art project that uses condo ads to make pup tents, a clever comment on housing and inequality and property rights and public space.

Finally, a cute, but kind of mournful looking, little treat from Renee French.