Saturday, December 12, 2015

Timothy Sandefur on his Brother, Daniel Kaufman

My friend, Timothy Sandefur, wrote this tribute to his brother, who died in the San Bernardino shootings.

I did not know Daniel well at all. Many of my friends did. The Venn diagram of his and my circles of friends overlapped in a lot of places. All our mutual friends have described the same funny, friendly, compassionate person Tim does.

I do know Tim. And while it may seem weird to describe a high-school friend as someone who is obsessed with issues of morality, that's exactly who he is--a man who deeply and passionately ponders morality, and consequently has become someone deeply and passionately moral.

Their parents raised two good sons. My heart breaks for their family.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steve Ditko On Flawed Superheroes


This video includes a message from Steve Ditko. Steve Ditko was the co-creator of Spider-man. He was also a very firm Objecivist, and created superheros who exemplified Objectivist principles.

 In this video, he explains a bit about his philosophies about art, and how art should create heroes who can be looked up to.

 I can't find a complete transcript anywhere online, but a chunk of the message is here.

 My favorite bit has to be this line:

Today’s flawed superheroes are superior in physical strength but common, average, ordinary in mental strength – rich in superpowers, but bankrupt in reasoning powers. They are perfect in overcoming the flawed supervillains, saving the world, the universe!, yet helpless to solve their common, average, ordinary personal problems. It is like creating a perfectly physical adult with the reasoning limits of a six-year-old.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Quick Lesson On How To Not Like Something.

You know what I have zero interest in?


I'll probably never watch another zombie movie in my life.

You know what would be a rather silly direction to go with that particular feeling?

Something like: "No one should ever make another zombie movie ever again because now that I'm tired of zombies, everyone should be tired of zombies."

Dear internet: feel free to bookmark this post to reference later, should you be looking for a stopping point in your efforts to not like something.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On the idea that Evil is more honest than Good

A while ago, I posted about clouds. And with that post about clouds, there was a quote from C S Lewis, a quote about how we're often led to believe that we should dismiss things that make us feel joy as being fluffy and sentimental, while negative experiences that make us feel unsettled or fearful or depressed are "the way things really are."

I want to talk about a related idea, which is this:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Dragon and the Princess - A Counting Book - Now on Kickstarter!

Hey, folks!

So, Logan Uber, my brother-in-law, has a publishing company.  And recently he had good success with an alphabet book he published, S is for Ska: A Musical Alphabet Book by Geoff Munn, author of the comic Kiosk Life in Neutral.

The book had good success, so Logan wanted to see if he could repeat it with a counting book.  He recruited me to write the thing, and Mina Sanwald, an illustrator and animator out of New York, to draw the thing.  She's pretty awesome--she's worked with Bill Plympton and does a lot of work with Copic Markers-- I don't mean drawing, I mean stuff like how she's taken over the Copic marker twitter account this weekend to cover New York Comic Con.

Naturally, me being me, I wasn't going to turn in "One apple. Two dolphins" and call it a day.  I wanted this book to actually have a story.

But I also knew the book wasn't really going to be about the words--it was going to be about the art.  Logan actually got his start selling prints, and part of the goal of this project was to produce a lot of pictures that people would also want to buy to put on their wall.

The result was a lot of fun.  It was a lot like comic book writing in the sense that I was trying to create visuals that would be interesting, but not get so in-depth about the visuals that the artist just felt like they were drawing my picture.  In some ways, this project was about restraint.  Tell the story in few words, because it was really about the pictures and the counting, and evoke cool pictures, but leave enough to the artist that she could have fun with it.

You can get Mina's thoughts on the project here.

Because this is 2013, we're launching the project on Kickstarter.  You can get the eBook version for $5, and there are still some chances left to get the softcover and eBook bundle for $15.

Go check it out.  There's even a video where I talk about why I decided to go with a Dragon and a Princess and a couple other things.  There's sketches of the artwork and a bunch of other things to see.

Any support you can give by backing, linking, or sharing is super appreciated.

Check it out at

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Logical Fallacy of the Day

Logical fallacy of the day: "If someone doesn't agree with the way you want to solve a problem, they don't care about the problem."

Example: You work in the birth unit of a hospital, and you and a co worker realize that every night, rats are running around in the nursery. Some have even made it into the bassinets with the babies.

That evening, you discover that, to solve the problem, your co-worker is duct taping the babies to the ceiling to keep them away from the rats. 

"I don't think that's a good idea," you say.

His response: "So I guess you don't care if the rats eat the babies."

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Only Thing Wrong With Free Comic Book Day (And How To Fix It)

Free Comic Book Day is great.

If you haven't heard of it, it's a once a year celebration of all things comics, when a bunch of comic book stores give a way a bunch of free comic books.  And some comic book stores go all out, hosting massive events with costumes, comic book creators, and other fun stuff.  My local comic book shop, 4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga, goes all out. Here's a video the amazing Kurk Kushin shot a few years back that will give you some idea:

Looks amazing, right? Bounce houses, free hot dogs, kids in costumes. They've even had "pro" style wrestling exhibitions. My kids almost always dress up, and deciding what to wear is a bigger deal than Halloween.

And Free Comic Book Day is doing its job--I've brought friends and family who otherwise hadn't set foot in a comic book shop, and gives the kids a gateway drug to the comics.

So there's no reason not to go. You should go. It's always the first Saturday in May, the day after the premiere of that year's first big comic book related blockbuster movie. Seriously, go here and find out where your local comic book shop is, and put it in your calendar today.

So if I'm telling you that you have to go, whats the problem?

The problem is that the books aren't really free. Not to the comic book shop. Or to the publishers. And that means there have to be realistic limitations on how many comics each person can actually take. And that can be disappointing.

Go here and you can see all the comics that are supposed to be available this year. As of this writing, there are 52 comics that are available. They cost the comic book store owner around 12 cents to 50 cents per copy. So if the shop were to get everybody all 52 issues, that would be at least 10 bucks a person. For a shop getting a couple thousand vistors, like 4 Color, that would mean at least $20,000 in costs that day. Add in the free hot dogs, bounce house rental, the cost to fly in the visiting talent--yeah, you just can't give everybody everything.

There's an article about the difficulties FCBD costs can have for shop owners here.

I've seen every possible way of handling this by comic book shops.

One shop in Riverside limits to two per customer, with a rule of "I get to pick one and you can pick the other." In some ways this is silly--since "the one I I get to pick" is always the same book, a family of four, like mine, leaves the shop with four identical copies of one title, which does not actually increase his chances by four times that my family will end up buying that title. It just means he missed an opportunity to market us a few different titles with free copies of another book.

Other shops just put a limit of, say, five books per person, and I consider that pretty reasonable. It's all "while supplies last" so if the 500 people who came before you all got the copy of the Star Wars comic you wanted, you're going to have to settle for something else. I mean, since I'm being given the comics for free, I have absolutely zero right to say I'm being given free stuff wrong.

(And that goes for the guy in Riverside, too. I honestly should just shut up and say thank you.)

Now, obviously, not all 52 of those comics are going to appeal to everybody. But there are a few, shall we say, crazy people who are going to want nearly all of them.

Yes, I fall into this category.

Some comic book shops have found ways to take advantage of this to good effect. For example, 4 Color teamed up with a G.I.Joe cosplay group call the Cobra 3rd Nightwatch last year to host a Free Comic Book Day blood drive, and everybody who donated got to get "all" the comics as a reward. In this case, "All" just meant one of every comic on the table when you finished your donation which, isn't really "All." (Again, I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining about this. This is the best Free Comic Book Day offer I know about in SoCal, and I hope they do it again this year.)

There should be a way for folks who want to "try" all the comics to be able to "try" all the comics. And it shouldn't have to cost the retailers extra.

So what's my idea?

The Free Comic Book Day website should sell the free comic books to the public.

Not "sell" in the traditional, charge full price sense. But it should cost a little more than it costs the retailers.

And it should be treated exactly like it's treated with the retailers.

Say a teacher wants to get 30 Smurfs comics to give as "presents" to their kids. Let them buy 30 if they pay 20 or so cents an issue plus shipping.

Say a parent wants to throw comics in to all the presents he gives away at all the parties his kids get invited to. Let him buy 50 issues at 25 cents a pop, plus shipping.

And if some crazy guy wants to try them all, let him order all 52 for like $25 plus shipping.

The publishers get what they want--more books in more hands, and at less risk. These books were specifically asked for, unlike the books that some retailers get stuck with, which can sit in boxes at the retailer's location because nobody wanted them, even though the publisher printed them at a loss.

More people get to try more comics, and, if they like them, more comics get sold.

In this case, the "shipping and handling" would have to be bumped up a little to include some money to pay for the boxes, labels, and some temps to fill the boxes. But that's the nature of "Shipping and Handling" anyway. (Actually, in most cases, Shipping and Handling also includes the cost of manufacturing the product.)

So give it some thought, comic book world. Let's get more comics out there and more kids reading them.

Because, in the end, that means more kids reading at all.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More Great News!

I have more great news!

You're probably sick of seeing people who disagree with you here on the internet.

Well, guess what?  Now, thanks to anti-bullying measures, you can do something about it!

All you have to do is label the person who you're opposed to as either hateful or a bully.  Then, you can go rally up a bunch of people who hate that person and go try to intimidate them off the internet through threats and name calling!

I know, you were worried that with anti-bullying sentiment, that kind of stuff would be frowned upon.  But don't worry!  It's actually totally okay, as long as you're doing it in the name of anti-bullying sentiment.

Which is a big relief for everybody.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Well, It's Been A Long Time Coming . . .

Well, I know this has been a long wait, but I have good news!

As of 3:40 pm this afternoon, we officially reached the point where, as a society, it is completely acceptable to completely extrapolate every single attribute of a person based solely on one viewpoint we may have heard that they have.

Prior to 3:40 pm this afternoon, there was one hold out--an old guy who still thought that people are kind of complicated, and that, just because you know one opinion a person holds doesn't even mean you really know why they hold that opinion, let alone what other opinions they might hold--but he died of a heart attack suffered trying to shovel his own driveway out from the snow. We are now officially in the clear.

So get to labeling people, jumping to conclusions, painting swaths of people with one brush, and neatly categorizing people as "good" and "bad."  There's nobody left to have a problem with it!

And if they do, they're just intolerant spam-for-brains who hate baby dolphins.