Why I cartoon

I delivered this short presentation to last November’s Interesting Vancouver event, sandwiched between some of the most, well, interesting people around. This is the first time I’ve ever told an audience why I started cartooning; how my early dreams of earning my living drawing the next Doonesbury gave way to something a lot more personal; and how a gift from Larry Kry, my Grade 11 physics teacher, has helped colour my entire life.

Check out the full range of Interesting Vancouver talks; the videos really do help to capture something of the amazing spirit of the night, and the people who shared their remarkable lives and endeavours.

(Speaker self-improvement note: This was also my first time using one of those amazing little Countryman boom mics; I think I’d adjusted it badly, because it felt like it was trying to crawl off my ear the entire time. At one point in my presentation you’ll see me acknowledge this to the previous speaker, who’d had a similar challenge. In retrospect, radical transparency notwithstanding, I’d have done better to keep that to myself.)

A Who’s Who of Who Did Whom

To: Mr. The Silent Dagger <red.dagger@darknet589.org>

Dear Mr. Dagger,

You have been nominated to represent your professional community in the Global Who’s Who 2015 Edition. The largest online community of professionals.

We are very pleased to inform you that your candidacy has been approved. Congratulations!

The Publishing Committee has selected you as a potential candidate, based on your standing amongst your professional community as well as specific criteria from the executive and professional council. Given your reputation, the Publishing Director feels your profile would make a welcome addition to our publication.

Since we are using our secondary resources, you must verify with us that your current profile is accurate. After your information is verified, your online listing will be approved within 7 business days.

Please click here to verify your profile and to formally accept the candidacy.

On behalf of our Committee I would like to salute your achievements and welcome you to our association.

Deepest Regards,
Montgomery Hallicrafter, Registry Director
Global Who’s Who Not At All A Scam Directory

Dear Mr. Hallicrafter:

Thank you for your inquiry. While I am indeed gratified at one level to have been chosen to represent my professional community, I feel compelled to warn you that my professional community has not sought nor will it welcome the public spotlight. You would not, I presume, be so reckless as to contact me without being aware of the nature of my profession, which—while sometimes sanctioned by certain government agencies—occupies what could charitably be described as a legal grey area at best, and therefore prefers to remain in the shadows.

With your indulgence, then, I will decline from clicking to verify my profile (which I presume mentions my specialty in remote high-velocity lead-based witness solutions) and will simply confirm my identity in person, at a time and place of my choosing. You will understand that I cannot provide advance notice of my arrival, but I can assure you it will be unexpected, completely convincing and—very briefly—exciting.

I trust it will also serve as my email unsubscription notice to the surviving members of your organization.

Sincerely yours,

The Silent Dagger

P.S.—We would be greatly intrigued to know from which “secondary sources” you derived this email address. Might this information be extracted from you with a minimum of unpleasantness?

There are decent people in politics. Lots, actually.

This is a comment I left in a thread on police allegations of Liberal malfeasance in yesterday’s Sudbury provincial by-election. I wanted to reprint it here, because I often hear people saying that everyone in politics is corrupt and in it for themselves, and stories like this fuel that kind of sweeping cynicism.

I know good people who serve at all levels of government, and not just from my own political background. One of the worst effects of this kind of manipulation is it comes to define politics and politicians, and that’s toxic to a healthy democracy.

Remember the shooting in Ottawa last October? The next day, parliamentarians were back on the job. Here’s what I wrote on the NOW blog that day:

Of course there are corrupt individuals, mixed motives and bad behaviour. But as anyone knows who has worked with those seeking elected office, and those they employ, there are an overwhelming number of people in public life with a passionate desire to build a better, fairer society. The stress on their families can be enormous; the incessant criticism and personal attacks can be corrosive; the knowledge that progress is all too often incremental can be discouraging. And today, add to that list the threat of physical danger.

We are proud that we work with good, decent people who take on tough, challenging jobs. And we are proud to know that, once the dust settles from today’s horrors, they’ll be back on the job: in Parliament, in provincial and territorial legislatures, in city and town councils and on school boards across the country.

I’m not arguing that we should cut corrupt behaviour some slack. I’m arguing the opposite: the moment we throw up our hands and say this kind of thing is par for the course, we let those who engage in it off the hook.

There are many good people in politics. If anything, they deserve more of our support, not less.

I believe crash reports should be worth reading (9)

1Password rarely quits on me, and I love it to bits… AgileBits.

At 11:40 AM PST, the vehicle launched successfully from Polar Station. At 11:44 am, the booster section failed to separate completely from the rest of the launch vehicle. The vehicle immediately deviated sharply from course. A determination was made at 11:46 am that the vehicle was unrecoverable, and an emergency ejection was ordered. Santa and all nine reindeer were successfully rescued downrange, but the remainder of the payload, including gifts for all the good girls and boys of the world, was tragically lost. And that, kids, are why you're getting office supplies this year.At 11:40 AM PST, the vehicle launched successfully from Polar Station. At 11:44 am, the booster section failed to separate completely from the rest of the launch vehicle. The vehicle immediately deviated sharply from course. A determination was made at 11:46 am that the vehicle was unrecoverable, and an emergency ejection was ordered. Santa and all nine reindeer were successfully rescued downrange, but the remainder of the payload, including gifts for all the good girls and boys of the world, was tragically lost. And that, kids, are why you’re getting office supplies this year.

LinkedIN. Not LinkedAnywhereElse.

There’s a lot to admire about the LinkedIn iOS app. But there’s also an egregious flaw, and I’m not convinced it’s accidental.

When you read a link someone has shared on LinkedIn, and you want to share it yourself, you’re out of luck. The only way you seem to be able to share from the LinkedIn app is on LinkedIn.

Which is how other apps like Twitter and Facebook handle things, too, but LinkedIn takes it a step further: you can’t open the link in Safari, an option those other apps offer pretty prominently.

What’s worse (unless I’m missing something, and I’ve tried this six ways from Sunday) you can’t even copy the link to the clipboard. If that’s more than just an oversight, it’s presumably to keep users and the links they share firmly within the LinkedIn corral.

Well, good luck with that. I can’t speak for the rest of their user base, but this dramatically lowers the app’s usefulness—and, by extension, LinkedIn’s appeal—to me. When I find something great, I like to share it widely, and often that means outside LinkedIn’s pinstriped walls.

Which is where I imagine I’ll be spending more of my time if this doesn’t change. Not because I’m storming off in a huff—but I like to spend my time where I get the most value. And come to think of it, that’s a principle shared by a lot of LinkedIn’s core users.

If there’s something in the interface I’ve missed, please let me know. I don’t want to think an app for a network I’ve found so useful would be this petty.