I Don't Have Time For This

Our press deadline is 5:00 p.m. tomorrow so I need to be editing, not blogging and reading crap online.

But if I did have time to read crap online, I'd be reading this right now. An excerpt:

"Fortunately, Obama clearly gets it. He devoted more of his inaugural address to clean energy and global warming than even the strongest advocate could have imagined, asserting, "We will work tirelessly to ... roll back the specter of a warming planet." More important, he has assembled a team with unmatched knowledge and commitment to solve the climate problem."

More here." (From Salon.)

Recession Hits The Comics

It looks like prairie dog is ahead of its time, again.

Apparently Village Voice Media--the corporation that owns alt weeklies including the Village Voice, Minneapolis' City Paper, Seattle Weekly and many others--has cut way back on comic strips, suspending their publication across the newspaper chain. The Association of Alternative News Weeklies Web site reports syndicated weekly cartoonists Tom Tomorrow (This Modern World) and Matt Bors (Idiot Box) are losing subscribers.

Tom Tomorrow (real name Dan Perkins) says on his blog: "Village Voice Media is hurting in this economy like everyone else, and their corporate response is to “suspend” cartoons and (I think) all other syndicated material across the chain, said suspension to last at least through the rest of the first quarter, and quite possibly beyond."

Of course prairie dog doesn't run any comic strips and never has since I've worked here (although we used to run a one-panel political cartoon by Jack Lefcourt, until he retired it), so once again we're in front of the curve. Arrgh.

Ironically, comics supporters have argued for years that strips are one of the most popular features of newspapers but despite this assertion the daily comic has been in constant decline for, well, most of my life. Remember Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes? Yeah, that's because you're old (I'm old too). You don't see work like that anymore. In fact you don't get much of anything in the dailies, unless it's recycled strips about families or talking pets.

There are a lot of stories behind newspaper comics' decline, but one basic truth: it's a crummy, often unappreciated gig. Over the years comics been allotted less space, they've been subject to censorship (see Doonsbury, The Boondocks) and their creators have been burned out by deadlines and hassles (in Watterson's case, battles with his syndicate over the licensing of his characters, which he was opposed to on principal). The economics almost always stink for cartoonists, the work is time-consuming and labour intensive and it takes years to develop the skills. And the pay is bad.

Basically, nobody in their right mind would ever go into the field--which means there's always a dearth of new cartoonists (not that there isn't first-rate talent out there. There just should be more.)

Anyway, it's a damn shame Voice Media is dumping This Modern World. It's a good strip. Canada needs a comic like it.

This. Is. Bad. (for the Saskatchewan and Alberta oil industry)

Luiza Savage gives a rundown of who's who in the Obama administration as it pertains to Canada. If you're an oil company executive it doesn't look good.

As well, there are two other things to seriously look at.

Obama is planning to increase auto emission and mileage standards -- stories from the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Secondly, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has appointed a special envoy for climate change. Given that most conservative western Canadian politicians have rejected climate change as an argument for cutting carbon emissions, I think they are going to be pretty lonely people. The sound you're hearing is the sound of Stephen Harper finding out that he has no friends in the world.

Oh yeah, the most eriudite blogger around, James Wolcott of Vanity Fair, takes the urine out of the no-conservative movement's environmental policy with the aid of another of the late William F. Buckley's sons. Go. Read.

Six In The Morning

Yeah, I know I know I'm not actually posting this at six in the morning (you think the people who publish prairie dog get up that early?). Here are six links to news stories you might find interesting, nay, fascinating. Why six? because five seems to obvious and 10 is too much work. (I have a paper to edit for tomorrow!).

1.) TIMES ARE TOUGH AND SO'S YOUR MOTHER Some Regina renters (well, 1000 Regina renters) can look forward to paying more in the new year. The CBC talked to one tenant, who's mad. (CBC)

2.) SEVEN BILLION SMACKERS The Conservatives promise a massive injection of cash for neglected infrastrucuture, including two billion for Canadian universities. If their budget passes. Jeez, if they'd been talking like this all along prairie dog would be bugging readers to vote for these guys. (Toronto Star)

3.) NO FUELIN' After eight years of being run by evil bastards, Obama's U.S.A. says it will bring in new fuel efficiency standards tby 2011 hat will make the country less dependent on foriegn oil. What country is this again? And what's this feeling I have for American politicians...feels like...not incredible, constant, smouldering rage. Weird. (CBC)

4.) TOO IMPARTIAL? The BBC will not broadcast a fundraising appeal for Gaza on the grounds doing so would undermine the broadcaster's journalistic impartiality, and British journalists are apoplectic . The appeal is by the Disasters Emergency Commitee, an umbrella group including the Red Cross and Oxfam. (The Guardian)

5.) ENGINEERING LAYOFFS Alberta's oil patch has lost 2200 jobs in the last two months, apparently. Here's a quote from the Globe's story: "It's very hard. Six months ago, things were so good, and six months later, things fall apart." (Globe And Mail)

6.) RHYMES WITH "BEAGLES" Another classic rock group finds warm wallets, er, audiences, in Saskatchewan. (Star-Phoenix)