Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sketchbook 5: Gok Wan, Jedi Master

Gok Wan: Jedi Master

I intend* to turn this into a proper comic at some point soon, with Gok using his Jedi powers to make everyone in the galaxy look good naked from far, far away.  But for now, you'll just have to make do with T-shirts: [Edit: Ah, crap. They rejected the design.  Copyright issues.  Spoilsports.  There are other t-shirts you can buy though...]

Link of the Day: Wasting Time Drawing Funny Pictures

*Yes, "intend".  Cash value 0.001p.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Graphs! Why Electoral Reform Is Needed (even if you don't think AV is the right step to take)


Close, isn't it, between the top three?  Pity their seats in Parliament don't reflect this:


It's no surprise really, that Nick Clegg sold out to the Tories in order to secure the smallest chance of some meagre electoral reform he once described as "a miserable little compromise".

The problem is that the Lib Dem supporters are spread fairly evenly over the country, as opposed to the Tories who you'll find more in rural areas, and Labour supporters concentrated in urban areas.  So the Lib Dems come second everywhere in our "First Past The Post" system.

It's even worse for the smaller parties who have some significant support, but not concentrated in any one location.  The Greens should have 6 or 7 seats by proportion of the vote.  They have just one, and they were extremely fortunate to get that.

So you get this sort of ratio between votes received and seats won in Parliament:


This is not a fair system.  You cannot honestly disagree with that.  You might argue that AV isn't the right change to make, and I'd agree it's not ideal.  It's not a big improvement.  But it's the only option we're being given, and it's an improvement, however small.  (You might disagree with that bit.)

If we don't make that change now, we'll be giving the main parties a mandate to claim that the public are happy with the way our elections are run.  And I certainly don't think you can agree with that claim.  Not on a voter turnout of 65.1% in one of our closest elections in years.

If you want all these bar charts in one handy image, you can find them here.  Data from the BBC website.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Brains to AV #Yes2AV


Yes, I'm going all political for a few weeks (some of the time).  We have the best chance we're likely to get in years to improve our electoral system very very very slightly.  It's almost not worth getting excited about, except if we don't make this small change now, we'll give the main parties an excuse to sweep the issue under the carpet saying the public don't want change.  It's not often we get national referendums in this country - the only other UK-wide referendum was in 1975, on continued European Community membership.

Let's not waste this opportunity.  "Yes" to Fairer Votes on 5 May.

I'll be posting a few comics and graphs over the next couple of weeks based on AV, hopefully explaining why change is needed and why I'm voting yes.  I'll be double-posting everything on here and over on my blog.

Here's my original sketch of the Brains To AV spoof, before I decided to make it look like the official No2AV posters:

Brains To AV

Zombie image came from here.
Blank No2AV template came from here.
And here's my favourite of other people's efforts.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Thirteen [B]

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen [A]

Part [B] to yesterday's part [A].  It all ends here tonight this morning.

***

Zena stopped and sat down.  The only good thing about her agonising foot was that her footprints told her which of the corridors she had already tried.  Unfortunately, she seemed to have tried them all already.  At least she couldn't be followed, even if they were certain to know she was here somewhere.

She supposed there was little point in sitting around though.  They were sure to find her eventually.  She struggled to her feet and staggered on, her foot and lip still stinging horribly.

She walked back and forth and around and around the labyrinth for what seemed like hours, until she eventually noted something very curious: a light switch.  It seemed to be the only light switch around, and was curious because there were no electric lights; the corridors were lit with flaming torches.

Maybe it wasn't a light switch.  Maybe it was a switch for an extractor fan.  Zena remembered how she would use the extractor fan in her kitchen at home when she cooked for her parents.  Golly!  It all seemed so long ago!  It would make sense, though, she reasoned.  It did seem to be getting rather smoky and she was starting to feel quite drowsy.  Perhaps even dreamy.  Without her knowing it, her hand was already reaching forward.

***

"I'm sorries, I don't understands, Miss."

"You heard."

"Then whys did we...?  Wouldn'ts it have been easiers to...?"

"No it wouldn't; this is the way I planned it, Collins, as well you know."

"I think I'd better put the kettle on," said the giant.

"Oh know you don't!" interjected The Woman In The Pretty Dress.  "Not with your track record.  Collins!"

"Yes, Miss," said Collins, moving as fast as his little legs would carry him.

***

It was as if the maze of corridors had unfolded and created an extremely long passageway, with an almost blindingly bright light at the end of it.  Zena hesitated.  She looked back to the pitch black that lay behind her.  What if it was a trap?  Maybe the least tempting option was the correct one.  Maybe They knew she'd think that, and so the dark route led to certain doom.  Maybe... oh, this could go on forever.

Zena trusted in the light.  At least this way she could see where she was going.

And then the breathing started.

It was gentle at first, like a cat purring in its sleep.  But it became sharper.  Angrier.  It was hissing at her.  And it was behind, just beyond reach.  Wincing and whimpering, Zena quickened her pace.  Quicker and quicker, she broke into a run.  Still the breathing followed her, closer and closer, louder and louder.  Yet always out of sight.

Zena sprinted towards the light.  Again she stubbed her toe.  And the floor came up to meet her face.

***

"I told you to put up a Mind The Step sign, didn't I?  Didn't I tell you?  And now look what's happened.  She'll probably sue.  Oh, look, she's coming to.  Are you alright, dear?"

The Woman In The Pretty Dress slowly took form in Zena's bleary eyes.

"Wh-where is it?  It was chasing me!"

"Now, really!  Calm down.  What was chasing you?"

"The breathing!  I could hear it breathing!"

"That damn echoing corridor!"  She turned to the giant.  "I told you to fix that too, didn't I?!"

"Yes dear," muttered the giant from behind his crossword.

"Echo?  You mean it was my breathing?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so.  Oh, it really it far too bright in her.  We really should replace that light bulb with a lower wattage one."

"Yes dear," said the giant, taking a sip of tea as he mulled over fourteen down.  "I'll get right to it."

Zena looked up at the giant properly for the first time.  "Mr Jamin!  What are you doing here?"

"Oh hello, Zena!" said Mr Jamin, lighting up and lowering his paper.  "Sorry, I hadn't realised it was you.  You don't know what 'small carnivorous armchair' is, do you?  Seven letters, last letter Q?"

"No."

"Oh.  Pity."  An awkward pause.  "So how are you doing?  Sorry about transporting you here and all.  Easy mistake to make, really.  Have you met my wife?"

"No."

"Oh, you must. Emily, this is Zena.  Zena, this is Emily."

"Er, hello," said Zena to The Woman In The Pretty Dress.

"Hello dear," replied Emily.

"Er, Mr Jamin?  What's going on?  What's this about my mortal enemy?  And my being a 'Chosen One'?"

Mr Jamin spat out his tea all over his crossword, he laughed so hard.  "Oh dear.  I'll have to finished that later," he muttered to himself, wiping it gently with his sleeves.  He turned to Zena, who looked horrified.  "So they told you that too, did they?"

"Yes," said Zena.  "Why is that funny?"

"It's not," said Emily sternly.  "I've been trying to invade this place for years.  It's needed a makeover so badly.  That Bonathon fellow has such ghastly taste."

"You invaded?"

Mr Jamin jumped in again.  "It's not quite like it sounds, Zena.  Things work a little differently here.  The others are being kept downstairs while the finishing touches are being applied.  There's plenty down there ot entertain them.  But oh my we've been so rude!  Would you like some cake?"

"Er, yes please," said Zena, which knew it was rude to refuse a host's hospitality.  "So, you'll let them out later?"

"Of course.  We're nearly finished.  And then you can go back home."

"Oh goody!" said Zena, as she hadn't realised she had missed it so much.  "But... what about the Binglish?"

"Oh, that'll wear off soon enough," said Mr Jamin.

"Oh.  I thought someone said it was irreversible."

"Oh yes, it is.  We can't change it back for you.  It just changes back of its own accord."

"Oh.  Right."

"Indeed.  Ah, here's the cake.  Thank you Collins."

Collins nodded, handed over the cake, and backed away respectfully.  Before long the others who had been locked downstairs returned, and they all had a jolly party with hats and balloons and jelly and ice cream, and the decor wasn't garish at all.

Before she knew it, Zena was back home, and her parents were loving and kind, and her teacher Mrs Kate was considerate and fair, and everything turned out much better than anyone could possibly have expected, all in a slightly too easy and convenient kind of way.

THE END.

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Link of the Day: Greenhouse Gases

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Thirteen [A]

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve

Into the final part now.  As suggested by the first sentence, I had forgotten about this for ages and then decided I should finish it off and not leave it hanging.  So I did.  It's a long one, so I'm going to split it into two parts, [A] and [B].  It's a weekend double bill!

***

It all now seemed so long ago.  She had only been asleep for a few hours, surely, but Zena felt like she had forgotten much of what had come to pass in the last couple of days.

She sighed, and opened her eyes.

"Aaargh!!"

Zena leapt to her feet and catapulted herself into the corner of this particular dungeon.  Stood over where she had lain, was a midget with a shrivelled arm, wearing a pair of NHS specs and a Jorvik Viking Centre t-shirt.  On his feet were a pair of flowery pink wellington boots.

"Who are you?!" demanded Zena.

"I be the manservants to your nemesiseseses, Miss," said the midget, cocking his head to one side.  "Collins, they calls me."

"My what?"

"Huh?"

"My, err, ... my what?  Servant to my...?

"Oh," said Collins, "your nemesimesis - nesimim - memma - your mortal enemy, Miss."

Mortal enemy?  Why should she wake up to find an enemy's servant standing over her?  What happened?  How long was she asleep?

"Right, well, Miss," said Collins, making a move for the door.  "I hads best be offs right now, Miss.  Peoples to tortures, rats to breeds, and all thats.  It's all goes, goes, goes, today."

With that, he disappeared out into the dark corridors, leaving Zena very confused.

What was going on?  Zena wanted to go and find out, but fear would not allow her to leave the room.  She looked around her for any clue while her belly churned uncomfortably.

The room was just bare stone, though, apart from the bed, which was identical to the one she had back at home, right down to the Paddington Bear bedsheets.  And the Roobarb and Custard slippers, which seemed to have replaced her shoes.  She slipped them on.

Her cold feet felt instantly warm and cosy, but the feeling didn't stop there.  It rose up through her legs and through her body until it reach the ends of her hairs and the tips of her fingers.  Her skin seemed to glow a warm and fuzzy orange as if she were appearing in a Ready Brek advert.

Being a very sensible six-year-old, however, she knew better than to trust magic slippers, particularly so soon after being greeted by an enemy's servant.  She took them off and, shivering, she made her way out into the corridor.

***

"Oh no you don't!" said The Woman In The Pretty Dress.  "I've just cleaned there.  And you can take them off at once!"

"Yes, dear," sighed the giant, obligingly.

***

Before long, Zena came upon a T-junction along her way.  To her right lay a dark, dank tunnel, and to her left a much more well-lit corridor.  Someone appeared to have started hanging flowery wallpaper, but had given up halfway through.  Unless, of course, they had only recently started.

At the start of the corridor stood a small shoe rack, holding four pairs of shoes of varying sizes, and in various stages of muddiness.  Beyond the rack, old newspaper had been laid on the floor, until ...

Voices!

Zena rushed into the dark tunnel to the right, stubbing her toe hard and biting down so much on her lip that it started to bleed profusely.  She found herself facing away from the voices, but daren't turn around for they now sounded so close.

"I knows no The Mistress's exact motives, sees," said a voice that Zena recognised immediately as belonging to Collins.

"Do you know, Collins" replied the second voice, "for one who is reputed for one's knowledge of all that one may wish to know, you are remarkably useless when one wishes to use you as a source of information."

"Well, Miss Torties, Miss, the things about knowing lots of stuffs is, much as I'd likes, 'snot possibles to reads people's minds, Miss."

"That may be very well, Mr Collins, but one does wonder exactly why one must install brass fittings when one stages a revolution of sorts.  Especially when one enters into such a revolution on the promise of one not becoming consumed by the drunkenness of power.  One would not be best pleased were one to discover that The Mistress were, as it were, one scone short of one's afternoon tea."

As the voices faded into the distance, Zena wondered exactly what Miss Torties (assuming Mr Collins had pronounced her name correctly) had meant by her little speech.  Zena felt like she now had even less idea of what she was up against than she had had before.  Assuming, that is, that it were possible to have less than no idea.

Finally deciding it was safe to move, Zena crept out of the tunnel, and limped down the newspaper-strewn passageway.  She could feel the blood running down her chin and the paper tried to stick to her left foot as she left behind dirty red footprints.

***

"Are you blind?  Or stupid?" demanded The Woman In The Pretty Dress.  "They.  Will.  Clash."

"Whatever you say," replied the giant.  "You know best."

"Oh do try to have a mind of your own, you wretched - Yes, what is it?"  She looked up from the Dulux colour chart.

Collins stood just inside the room.  "I's and the others were just wonderings, Miss."

"Yes?"

"Whens do we gets to eats the 'ostages?"

To be continued...

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Link of the Day: Crazy Hairdo

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