site


Here at KillAllTheWhiteMan, we’re proud to continue our holiday tradition of largely ignoring Christmas, Saturnalia and Yule, while paying lip service to Hanukkah, a holiday Jews don’t really give a fuck about because the solstice ain’t shit when you live in a desert near the equator.

The lip service will be paid in the form of one post per night, for all eight nights of Hanukkah.

This post counts for the first night. It’s like the crappy socks you get on the first night. Except that I can’t really promise these will get progressively better.

I realize there are people (Tara) who are really bored by this topic. There are others (Ian [not me, this guy I know]) who find it really interesting. So if you find it boring, skip to the last paragraph for something else entirely.

KillAllTheWhiteMan is a blog. You don’t call it a blog out of some misguided sense of superiority. You hate blogs.

Starting at the end, no, I don’t hate blogs. Anecdotal evidence support this would include the fact that I read some websites which self identify as blogs, but I honestly think that’s kind of irrelevant. Deep down, the issue is I have no idea what the word means anymore.

Merriam Webster defines a blog as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer ; also : the contents of such a site.” Of course, this differs rather strongly from the original meaning, of weblog. A weblog is (was?) a site consisting entirely of links, quotes and commentary. There are still artifacts of this behavior, like Tumblr, a site designed for creating a blog in the classic sense. Of course, this original meaning didn’t last long. It was only March of 2000 when Adam Mathes created Webloglog, a site designed specifically to blog (in the classic links and commentary sense) other blogs. The site is actually interesting, if only as a record of the move (very early in its history) of blogs away from a focus on the sharing of outside content, and toward the sharing of one’s own personal life.

It was probably 2003 before I noticed another shift. Someone referred to a long, rambling (but well written) personal post on a forum I frequented as a “blog”. I was thrown at the time, but the usage has become fairly standard. MySpace, rather that listing a number of posts in a person’s blog, lists the number of blogs. Of course, we still had classic blogs, and personal journal blogs, so at this point, it would appear that one can create a blog that links to blogs full of blogs.

Then corporate blogs show up. As far as I can tell to this day, these are news pages written in a more casual style. They aren’t personal journals, they rarely contain links or commentary, they’re just business updates in jeans and a witty t-shirt. The only things that link them to blogs at this point are the format, and a casual authorial voice.

It’s gotten to the point where my friend Brandon often finds his site, insert credit, referred to as a blog, and as far as I can tell, it’s solely because the front page is a collection of recent posts, listed in reverse chronological order, with older posts moving to the archives. So is blog just a formating style now?

I guess the issue I draw with that is that none of the other meanings is entirely gone. If someone says they have a blog, it is generally assumed that the content will be casual and mostly personal. There is also, let’s be honest, a general assumption of low quality. I don’t know if anyone believes all blogs are poorly written self absorbed bullshit, but I know a lot of people who take the stance of guilty until proved innocent.

I suppose that this makes me a bad person to determine whether or not KillAllTheWhiteMan is a blog. I’m keenly aware of the fact that I don’t really know what a blog IS. Still, I get the sense that this isn’t one. I don’t link to things, ever. I’ve always wanted KillAllTheWhiteMan to work as a stand alone effort, and that’s part of my effort. I don’t talk about the current events of my life. Mark Twain’s autobiography has some great things to say about the importance of distance when it comes to figuring out which parts of your life are actually interesting. I copy edit. It’s my goal to actually produce things that are worth reading, rather than just a therapeutic dump.

I want to be clear that I don’t hate any of these things. I actually really appreciate when friends maintain a blog that allows me insight into parts of their lives and minds I might not otherwise have access, but it’s not what I’m interested in doing personally. Any sense of antipathy toward blogs probably runs parallel to my feelings toward MySpace. I feel that there’s a ghettoization of personal expression on the internet. It’s cut off and not taken seriously, and this really worries me. The idea that an extremely functional format can be blanket categorized and defined as “just blogs” really bothers me.

Plus, the aesthetics of the word blog are horrifying. It’s just ugly.

BONUS UNRELATED PARAGRAPH
Another good way to make a normal argument into a really horrible argument is to accuse the other person of having some sort of mood or personality disorder, like Asperger’s or Borderline Personality Disorder. Then, when they get mad at you go “see, this is your BPD.” Devalue everything they say, and try to switch to where you’re comforting them. Offer to get them help. You will probably not be friends anymore, but if that’s the goal, GO FOR IT!

There’s a feeling, and to my knowledge it doesn’t have a name, that people seem to share. Sometimes, you’re told something, and you can just tell, without being able to fully explain why, that what’s being said is bullshit. I call this feeling cole*.

An example of something that gave me, and gives most people a sense of cole are those ads, usually at the beginning of a DVD you’ve already bought, telling you not to download movies. The argument (set to obnoxious jump cuts and pounding music) is that since you wouldn’t steal a purse, a TV or a DVD, you shouldn’t download movies because it is a form of theft, and therefore exactly the same thing. Except, as that feeling of cole in your gut tells you, no, it’s not.

But why isn’t it? What makes it different, and why does that influence so many people who would not steal a purse to feel that the theft of a film via downloading is not wrong? Here we get to our subject, the ethics of theft. Fortunately, the words we need to describe this already exist. First up is dispossession.

Dispossession is the denial of a person or persons’ access to or use of a thing, service or location. When you steal a purse, you have dispossessed the owner of that purse. They are no longer able to use that purse, or any of the objects inside of it. Stealing a DVD from a store dispossesses the owner or owners of the store of the DVD and the subsequent income from retail. They have now lost money since they purchased the DVD originally with the understanding that it would be sold.

For most of history nearly all theft has been dispossession in one way or another. It is only with the introduction of photographic, photostatic and digital copies that theft without dispossession has become common. In these cases the essential nature of theft is changed, and with it, our ethical understanding of the seriousness of the offense has been massively altered. Essentially, the primary reason theft offended people was that it deprived the rightful owner. In cases where that is no longer true, people now tend to see this dispossessionless theft as a victimless or nearly victimless crime. A lack of victim means the degree of offense is dramatically lessened.

It doesn’t vanish though, and that brings us to the other axis upon which ethical judgments of theft are considered: valuation. Where dispossession is an essentially binary consideration (either someone has been dispossessed or they have not), valuation introduces a great deal more granularity, and also serves to explain why the downloading of a film is, while certainly not on par with stealing a TV, still essentially unethical.

Valuation is a complex term, but for our purposes it means the assessing of value or worth, and the method of the assessment we are concerned with is implicative, meaning not a formal assessment, but an attempt to determine one’s assessment of value based on their actions.

Going back to our purse example, assuming a thief has snatched a purse, stolen the money or other valuable goods and then thrown the purse away, their valuation of the purse itself is roughly $0. It was worth taking for its contents, but beyond that is essentially trash, and since it might eventually serve as evidence of their crime, could even be said to take on a negative value.

Now we apply this to theft via download. Essentially, the person who downloads a movie without purchasing is saying “I value this at about a gig of hard drive space, and a little time tracking it down.” Unfortunately for the people planning to make money from sales, it’s very difficult to buy groceries with a gig or so of some other guy’s hard drive space.

Alternately, it is possible for a theft to increase the value of that which has been stolen. There is the classic example of stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family. Now we’ve taken a loaf of bread, value: $2, and turned it into food to keep your family alive, value: multiple human lives. In this case the ethics of theft, which we compute almost instantly and automatically, tell us that this has become an ethically sound act. We have increased the valuation of the stolen item so much that it is agreed to have been worthwhile. See also: E.T. Stealing a bunch of stuff to call for a ride home.

With that established, copy theft enters a grey area very quickly. What about a TV show that is off the air and not available by legitimate means? The value of the product, per the copyright holders is almost impossible to determine, which means the theft of the object can almost be construed as an increase in perceived value. Then there’s broadcast television, where if a viewer is not a Nielsen Family, the value of their viewership, whether watching the original broadcast or a downloaded copy is essentially 0, so is there actually a devaluation taking place during the latter?

Largely, this grey area exists because our ethical systems have not had time to catch up with the new scenarios of action offered to us by advancements in technology. Additionally, the questions of value (how much a thing is worth to each person, and who exactly is receiving what) continue to evolve in complexity**. It will be interesting to watch our culture adapt to answer these questions in the coming years.

*Named for James Cole, my sixth grade teacher and the person responsible for giving me this feeling more often than anyone I’ve ever met. Honestly, I’d like to thank him for instilling such a complete distrust of authority at such a young age.
**A popular bit of rationalization, one which I myself am not above using, is that while my actual valuation of a product is quite high, my willingness to support the structures that have been built to profit from that product is rather low. Do I want to support a musical artist whose work I enjoy? Absolutely. Do I want to do so when more than 97% of that support is siphoned off before reaching the artist? Not always. Should distribution channels receive recompense for the work and cost required for disseminating art? Yes. Should they be allowed to bloat up like the record and film industries have? Of course not. The line is then, wavering, and often poorly marked.

Nothing funny has been happening. This is a profoundly unfunny period in history.

For you* though, I’m going to try.

Well, there you go.

I am sorry it didn’t work out.

*In this case, “you” is Michael Disney. Also, Michael, there are way worse places to work than Blockbuster, but try not to let them promote you.

The planet earth is now roughly at the same point in its orbit around the Sun as it was when I started (and then restarted) this site. To celebrate, I have something a little old fashioned. It’s the first Cigarettes the Clown comic in almost four years. Apparently in that time my art has changed in that I now feel the desire to draw the occasional nose.
Cigarettes 14 is missing. I will post it someday.
 

I wrote this on the last day. Everything below, including the bird, is from the story.

a drawing of a bird wearing a hat.
Two pandas are fucking in zero gravity. Suddenly, they are murdered. The only suspect is Jesus Christ. He came back for the End Times, and stayed because he was so impressed by 7-11 Slurpees and Hot Dogs.

To Question Jesus, Turn to Page 623
To Investigate the Crime Scene, Wait for Volume II, Coming This June!

I think it’s pretty awesome, but I have nothing to do with it. You can read it here.

Wait, I’m sorry, here.

WARNING: This story has a spoiler about Season One of Lost. I am telling you because I consider you a friend.

I should emphasize “read”, because it’s pretty much just the same picture over and over.

That’s Right Kids!

You can read the new new A Polaroid I Found comic by clicking any of the following words. It has a Special Guest Star!

Rumple.

Twiddle.

Strump.

Fritter.

Cumberd.

Skagit.

This Is Not a Test.

If you want to look at it, please click this link.

THIS ONE HERE

Tonight, after hanging out with friends, Tara and I were both craving milk shakes. Speed was important because it was late. We headed for Jack in the Box, where I was going to get a 99 cent burger, curly fries and a chocolate shake. Unfortunately, we hadn’t noticed it was 2 AM, just after last call, and every drive through was packed with drunk people.
 

I went home and had a corn dog, and a hostess apple pie. While not really an appropriate replacement, it felt thematically similar.

This is what KillAllTheWhiteMan would be like as an every day blog. You need to realize, the delay in content here is for your benefit, not mine. I could do an entry every day just ruminating on my meals. Instead, you get high quality content like A Polaroid I Found IN Don’t Drop the Baby.

Next Page »