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Impeachment Follow-Up

Posted February 16, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

So the impeachment trial is over. That the result is completely expected doesn't make it any less disappointing. A 57-43 majority voted Guilty, but that wasn't enough to meet the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Before I get into that, I need to issue a correction. In my previous post, written before the trial ended, I wrote:

[Trump] made a phone call to Senator Tommy Tuberville to try to convince him to delay the certification. The call ended when the senators were evacuated. I can't find anything saying whether or not Tuberville expressly mentioned the storming or the evacuation, but Tuberville remembers saying, “they just took the vice president out.” According to Wikipedia's timeline of the assault, it was after this phone call, some eleven minutes after Pence was moved, that Trump tweeted that “Mike Pence didn't have the courage to” refuse to certify the results.

In fact, the then-current revision of Wikipedia's timeline didn't mention the phone call or Senator Tuberville (or senator Mike Lee, whose phone Trump actually called) at all. I got the eleven minutes figure from the time of Pence's evacuation, which I had assumed Tuberville told Trump about as it happened.

When I checked the timeline again, it had been updated to include the call, which in fact took place two minutes after the tweet: Pence was evacuated at 2:13, the tweet was eleven minutes later at 2:24, and the phone call was at 2:26.

This doesn't affect my conclusion about Trump, though:

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Trump's Second Impeachment Matters

Posted February 12, 2021

Updated February 16, 2021

Tags: current events, politics

Ex-president Donald Trump is the first president in United States history to be impeached twice, and the first to have his impeachment tried in the Senate after he's already left office. So why bother, if he's already out? There are several reasons people object to the second impeachment being tried at all, but I don't think any of them holds water.

Objection: He's already out of office, so it doesn't matter anymore.

Presidents are allowed two terms, and Trump has only served one. The terms aren't required to be consecutive, and running for a second term doesn't count as serving one. That means he still has one term left. There is precedent for this: Grover Cleveland lost re-election to Benjamin Harrison in 1888, but served a second term after defeating Harrison's own re-election campaign in 1892. Trump could do the same thing unless the Senate votes to bar him from running again.

More importantly, whether Trump tries to run again or not, it's only a matter of time before someone else picks up where he left off. We need to send a clear, decisive message that attempts to undermine our democracy in order to stay in power will not be tolerated. Not from Trump, not from anyone.

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WIP Report: Necessity: Page 1 complete and game plan

Posted December 31, 2020

Tags: art, comics, Necessity comic, WIP report, writing

Well. Some year this has been, huh?

I'm sorry this post has taken so long. I finished the first page of the comic months ago and I've been wrestling with a longer postmortem, but I guess I don't have it in me so I'll keep this quick and maybe not bore you.

First, the comic has a name now: Necessity. I'm not thrilled with it but I'm glad I don't have to keep saying “Sorceress Comic” anymore.

Coloring started out fun but got tedious. I used just two layers: One for flat colors and one for shadows. I did all the flats first, then for each color, picked one or two shadow colors. I selected each shape with the magic wand tool, then moved to the shadow layer and used the pencil tool to shade it.

This wasn't a terrible setup. Since I can select two colors and swap between them, and use my tablet's stylus's eraser end, the shading work wasn't bad. The problem was all the switching back and forth between the flats and shadow layers, and between the magic wand and pencil tools. It ate up a lot of time and energy, and more than once I forgot to switch layers after selecting a new area so I had to do it over.

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Alphonso Dunn and InkTober

Posted September 16, 2020

Tags: art, InkTober

September is upon us. October is now only half a month away. I'll set aside the whole pandemic-time question of how it can possibly be September already when it was just March only eighteen years ago. What matters is that the time is fast approaching when artists around the world will be picking up their pens and brushes and taking up the now-traditional InkTober challenge of thirty-one ink drawings, one for every day of October.

Since we're all going to have ink drawing on the brain, I think this would be a good time for everyone to check out the work of Alphonso Dunn. He's the author of Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide, and he has a YouTube channel full of tips and tutorials.

So far, the videos that have been the most useful to me are “Top 3 Cross Hatching Mistakes | Tips on how to avoid them,” “Pen and Ink Crosshatching | A simple introduction,” and “How to Avoid Overworking Your Drawings | 3 simple tips.” The main things that jumped out at me were the importance of pen control and of not rushing. You can certainly point to my InkTober drawings from 2016 and 2018 and find drawings that suffer from the exact pitfalls Dunn warns about.

Naturally, this inspired me to get out my trusty microns and a sheet of paper, and practice. I played a few more of Dunn's videos while I practiced creating even, consistent strokes and tried out some crosshatching techniques. Here's what I came up with:

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Black Lives Matter

Posted June 26, 2020

Tags: Black Lives Matter, current events, morals and ethics

There are a lot of things that happen that make you wonder, just how many more times does this have to happen before something is finally done about it? To name just a few: Mass shootings, sexual abuse cases, privacy violations, workplace safety violations, maltreatment of laborers in general, formation of monopolies, and companies and governments kowtowing to tyrants.

And then there's the example that's been in the news here in the US (and worldwide) for the last few weeks: Police brutality against black people, which has sparked worldwide protests.

I wish I could come to you with a strong thesis statement and a solid plan for what we need to do about this problem. But I don't have that. As a white guy with a sheltered upbringing surrounded by only people who look like me, and with little to no contact with the black community, I have to admit that if I did have that, the odds that it would be worth your attention are effectively zero.

But I can't just say nothing, either. Even if you don't believe that silence is complicity, you have to admit that it sure is helpful to those who try to pass off their hatred as representative of the “silent majority.” So I'm not going to be silent.

You want a thesis statement? Here it is: Black lives matter.

Whatever you think of the BLM movement, or of a particular member or spokesperson thereof, you have to admit that the cause is just and the statement is true: Black lives matter, no less than anyone else's.

All lives matter, and that means that instead of saying “All Lives Matter™” to people who have been told that a million times but consistently shown something else, we need to say “your lives matter”—and then act like it.

There's more to say about the ongoing protests, police behavior, proposed solutions, and everything else that's been going on these past weeks, but I don't want this main point to get lost in the shuffle, so for now I'm going to leave it at the one thing that most needs to be said, and believed, and lived:

Black lives matter.

WIP Report: Sorceress Comic: Page 1 inked

Posted May 25, 2020

Tags: art, comics, WIP report, writing

I finally made it past a huge milestone in the comic project: Page 1 is now completely drawn and inked! As it stands, I'm almost finished converting the lineart to pure black/white, which is more laborious than it has any right to be because my scanner is apparently garbage. Once that's done, I'll be able to start coloring.

I had planned to finish the whole comic and upload it all at once, but I think you've all waited more than long enough, so I'll post the first page as soon as it's ready.

In the mean time, here's a sneak peak at the raw scan of the lineart:

The raw scan of the fully inked first page, at old-school 72 dpi “Web” resolution.
An excerpted panel 3 at medium resolution. Click for high resolution (direct link to image)

Tenth Anniversary

Posted March 18, 2020 (Written March 17, 2020)

Tags: site

[This site went live on March 17, 2010, which makes yesterday the tenth anniversary. Obviously, celebrating the anniversary should be done on the anniversary if possible, and I did manage to get this post written in time, but I didn't have time to post it. I apologize for posting this a day late, but it is the anniversary post with no further edits beyond what was completed on the actual anniversary. Enjoy!]

Today marks ten years since the grand (re-)launch of this Web site!

I wish it were under happier circumstances. This virus business has us all a little nervous. Or a lot nervous. There is a lot of talk of what to do about religious obligations (Just receive in the hand, already, people), whether hoarding supplies is appropriate (don't take more than you need, because someone else does need it), and whether or not the response to the crisis reflects the bogosity of many of our supposed rules and requirements (I have mixed opinions on that one).

But that just means now is a perfect time to find something not horrible to focus on. So let's focus on how horrible my writing was 10 years ago. (What?)

My first blog post was possibly the only time I've ever really commented on current events (unless you count two paragraphs ago), and if not, then certainly one of very few. I still stand by pretty much everything I said in that post, though if I were writing it today I'd probably be a bit less ranty and more explicit about why these things bother me.

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Year in Review 2019

Posted January 12, 2019

Tags: WIP report

I don't guess I need a reason: I'm just in the mood to look back on the past year, what I've accomplished, and where to go from here.

Let's start with my comic project. It was supposed to be a small project, just seven pages, that I could complete within a year's time. The beginning of 2019 marked the passing of that deadline. Now, nearly two weeks into the new year, I'm wrapping up the pencils and almost ready to start inking.

On the bright side, I've been making reasonably steady, albeit slow, progress over the last few months ever since I got past the costume design hurdles. Page 1 wasn't ready to ink by January 1, 2020, like I had hoped, but it's still pretty darn close.

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WIP Report: Space Shooter Game

Posted August 26, 2019

Tags: programming, video games, WIP report

I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Two weights, actually, but I already wrote about the other one the other day so let's just focus on this one for now.

I haven't posted much about this, but I've been working on a computer game for a while now. In fact, I've been wanting to make video games since I was around ten years old. I remember having a bunch of different ideas written down in notebooks. Some were original, others were what would now be called fan games. One time, I even drew up a plan for a Sonic game that had the player switching on the fly between Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles, with Silver Sonic as the main antagonist.

At some point in my early teens, I picked up a copy of Windows Game Programming for Dummies, about writing games in C++ with DirectX. I intermittently puttered along trying to follow along, but I didn't really understand it (and truth be told, the book's “Here's how this is done, just use the code on the CD-Rom” approach doesn't match my learning style).

About ten years ago, after some modest successes, I decided to get serious and try to learn and understand how to write C++/DirectX games. A few reasonable tech demos later, I decided the best thing to do was to try making a full game. Since I had collision detection more or less figured out (thanks to Ron Levine's swept SAT algorithm for AABBs) but not collision resolution, I decided to make a scrolling shooter. This let me get away with just destroying one or both of any two objects that collide instead of figuring out how they push or bounce off each other.

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WIP Report: Sorceress Comic: Panel 2 Pencils Complete

posted August 21, 2019

updated August 22, 2019

Tags: art, comics, WIP report, writing

I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Two weights, actually, but I think each deserves its own post so let's just focus on the one for now.

As you can tell, it's been a while since I've posted an update on the comic. The reason, as I believe I've discussed before, is that I got hung up on character designs. I had figured out the faces of the nobleman and his escort, but the nobleman's costume was completely up in the air

Now, as I mentioned last time, I had planned on skipping the model sheets and doing the design work right on the page. That seemed like a good idea at the time, and it even worked out okay for the escort's scabbard. Overall, though, it didn't work, and in hindsight, it's obvious why not: If I don't know what the clothing looks like, it doesn't matter which piece of paper I'm trying to draw it on. The only real change was that the design-on-the-page method required me to erase every approach I didn't like rather than moving to a new sheet of paper, which made it harder to iterate and ruined the tooth of the paper.

So I just sort of took a break. I was tired of having this looming over me and feeling like a traitor for drawing anything other than the comic, so I figured I'd just shelve it and then come back to it later.

And it worked! Eventually I was struck with inspiration—


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