Technology is Ruining/Saving Our Lives

I’ve heard a few alt-right a-holes say that, to make women happy, we need to un-invent the washing machine and birth control pills. It a strange sentiment that Brietbart and it’s ilk like to purvey (I’m not posting a link, but it isn’t hard to find. I’m not giving them the clicks). But like many of their inflammatory statements, it’s worth examining further. Why the regression of medicine and technology would be of benefit, and why women exclusively? Of course their misogynistic ideals seep above any intellectual content, but if you strip away the sexism, the argument is interesting: The technology of the washing machine/dishwasher were intended to free up our time but have only made us busier and taken us away from a more human purpose. If we were at home doing dishes, we would be AT HOME, not free to go grocery shopping, exercising, or more significantly, getting a job. If clothes/dishes/vacuuming weren’t automated, these issues would have to be resolved before the home life could be experienced. Or, to put a finer point on it, they would become a much more significant PART of our home experience simply by occupying so much time performing these tasks.

You might be saying, “Duh,” but give it a second thought: No matter what your financial class, if you were forced through labor to spend more time in your dwelling, how would you feel about the time you spent there? Would you be more emotionally invested in its well being? Would you feel imprisoned by it’s laborious obligations? You may want to have a prettier lawn. It may make vacations a more valuable endeavor.

A few years ago I bought a VERY expensive drawing tablet. It was called a Wacom Cintiq. It was powered by a litany of cables and a laptop.  It featured a great capacity of drawing features. I knew that my process needed to go digital because my work as a commercial artist was always getting converted digitally. To operate in a fully digital environment would free up a lot of my work time and give me an even more expansive skill set that other freelance artist might not possess. As a freelancer, advantages like that are invaluable.

Three years later, I sold that tablet.

It was a great device, really. In many ways, I miss having it. It was full featured and powerful. I learned a lot about my drawing process and digital painting on it. But it did something to me that I didn’t want. It put me in my drawing studio. Alone.

All. The. Time.

I’m married to a wonderful woman and I didn’t like that I would be in the same building as the most important person in my life and not see her for hours or days on end. I hated it. The tablet was large, heavy, and cumbersome. It required a computer and a power source. For all intents and purposes, it was locked into a room and, if that room was devoid of people, so was I. The tablet did free up a lot of my freelance art/design work time, though. What I didn’t realize was that, before it’s implementation, the work time didn’t really fit into my home life.

So I sold it. I bought an IPad Pro. I knew that I wasn’t going to disregard digital art and painting, but something needed to change. The iPad Pro gave me a the highest functioning stylus I've ever used in a digital format, which is completely necessary for art and design. Just as significantly, however, I can carry it in any room or space I wanted. I could be drawing a comic page in the living room with Lily. I get to sit on a chaise lounge and watch TV in the background. I get to be in a space with her and we can share our experiences. I get to put the device down and not have to worry about a bunch of power cables getting unplugged. I get to produce Art and design at a pace much more conducive to having a happy life. I can casually doodle and sketch in a social environment with my friends at a bar or I can sit at home in my underwear and actually get a whole lot of work done for a freelance contract.

I have a compulsory and intrinsic need to produce art and design. It's more than just my profession, it's a passion in my life that can often leave me estranged if my companions don't share it. The device goes with me everywhere now: to figure drawing sessions and friends’ homes. It has allowed me to fulfill my purpose without isolating me from the people and experiences most important in my life.

Look, I'm not trying to be a shill for an Apple device. Fanboys are often exhausting because of their vehemence toward whatever they are fans of. The iPad Pro has done an extraordinary thing for me: It has given me autonomy that technology is sometimes accused of taking away. It allows me to be a part of a world that may not share my interests and gives me companionship and freedom that I would otherwise not be able to experience being hunched over an old fashioned drafting table or a new fashioned anchor of a drawing tablet.

I walk into my home with an automated thermostat and lightbulbs that can change color when I use my voice. In many ways this is very much the Star Trek future we dreamed of as children (minus the flying cars). It's easy for most of us to parse out the shortcomings of our contemporary lifestyles: we're still ruled by a seemingly autocratic system of corporations and politicians and we may become too reliant on technology and medicines that leverage much authority over our lives. I am always looking to see how our species has been altered for the better and worse through the technology that permeates most aspects of our experiences. I can see, however, that my very specific and nuanced situation has been facilitated in a very potent and emotionally important way through technology. For that I am thankful.

I do see that technology is also incredibly dangerous in ways that many of us have not yet recognized, too. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are remarkable experiences to behold, but could seriously represent the very threat to our species that we did not anticipate. The genie is out of the bottle, however, and I would just encourage all of us to view with and open mind to observe their inevitable integration into our society. But we should also be prepared to make adjustments for the costs that we don't even know we will be having to make on their behalf.



I will be at Tulsa Comic Con!

I will be at Tulsa Comic Con October 21-23! Stop by my table and enjoy all the festivities, buy my comic or a print, or have a commission done! I'm excited to be a part of the event and see some wonderful people. Check the Links for more details...





Ant-Man will make about 60-65 million this weekend.

I know this. It hasn't happened yet. The numbers will be released today and I'm pretty sure it will verify this estimate. I'm not excited for the film. I'm sure it's fine. Marvel serves their Disney overlords very well. Marvel's softest release was the first Captain America at around 62 million.

When I was a kid my favorite movies were Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, Goonies, Lethal Weapon and the like. The thing those films have in common is that they are about friends joining and adventuring, so to speak. That's what I got from them anyway. I couldn't get enough of the stories where the band gets together and stops the bad guys (my G.I. Joe collection was ridiculous-1 Cobra for every 20 Joes. I was a bloodbath). 

I would go to the aisle at the grocery store and turn to the back of Entertainment Weekly magazine to see how much money my favorite movies made at the box office. I started doing this when I was 10. The reasoning was that if they made a lot of money, they would get sequels or more films like them. The boxoffice numbers usually were in the last four pages if I remember correctly. I think page 96. 

I checked this religiously. I wasn't just wanting to see if the films were just derivative of my tastes: I was observing whether society valued things that I valued outside of my small southern Oklahoma town. I wanted to know if there were people like me, people that cared about what I cared about enough and they would put their hard-earned cash down to prove it. 

I guess I was lonely. Someone told me once that I was a New York Jew born in the wrong part of the world. 

I love movies. I still check the boxoffice results every week. I used to be able to tell you the domestic gross for almost any film 2 years prior to being asked. It was easier in the 80's and early 90's when only 250-350 movies came out a year. Now all the major studios together put out around 1000 movies. I read the reviews and research the productions. I memorize the directors name and previous films. I check who writes the screenplays (if there are a lot of writers on a single screenplay, it can mean a bunch of rewrites and doesn't always make the best story). 

It's a way I try to connect to different worlds. Bigger worlds. I need to know that there is a world out there that I fit into, even if it isn't real.



10 Important Lessons I learned from Social Media

I have a few salient points to share about social media based on personal experience. 

1. There are too many children. On earth. I know, because they are all on my Facebook feed. 

2. Having or not having a gun/gay/abortion/race/fat/religion is the cause or cure to all our problems. It's that simple. 

3. Social media helps me give advice that I know works every time but have never taken myself. 

4. Facebook is a perfect place to speak vaguely about personal problems, but when people ask "what happened?" tell 'em to f--- off its private. 

5. I learned of the art of food photography. A lost art. 

6. People love lists. 

7. I wish those distant relatives had as much information on me as I did on them the day I approved their friend request.

8. Man, why didn't I start with a fake name?

9. There needs to be a class on social media etiquette required for all ages. Oldest to youngest in order of priority. 

10. That job you worked so hard to get? Yeah, totally bitch about it online. It will never come back at you.




My typing is pretty slow today because I had a bit of an accident with the hedge trimmer. I took off the tip of my finger. I got a few stitches to reattach the tissue. It's the first time in a long time I've had to have stitches. I was tired and not concentrating as well as I should've been.

Limitations are really hard to see most of the time. Scratch that, they're really hard to see within yourself.  A 4'9" fat kid may believe that, if he works hard enough, will someday be able to dunk a basketball. Everyone else can realistically tell that it is not a likely outcome. 

We live in a society that doesn't comfortably discuss our limitations as individuals. A high school teacher in Oakland recently wrote the letter to Stephen Curry (star basketball player for the Golden State Warriors), pleading with him to not come to his school. His reasoning was that, while he was a big fan of his playing ability, his presence would be misleading the overwhelming majority of the students into believing that they too can become basketball phenoms. 

The teacher's request, while less than inspiring, was intended altruistically. He wanted all of his students to see value in what they were learning in school instead of placing their entire life into the hands of the sport that they may never master. Curry, as he put it, was one in 1 million, and he had a lot of students that don't have that kind of luck.

A few years ago I quit my old job got a new one. I bought and repaired a house and recorded an album. I was finishing the illustration of a comic book and going to college. I was traveling around the state and going to New York city. I did all of these things within the span of three months. I was like a man possessed, trying to stave off death and get a bunch of life goals accomplished. 

I was doing something else I was unaware of; I was creeping up on my psychological and emotional threshold. 

 This isn't a "dear diary" entry. I'm trying to express that I didn't know how far these limitations were within myself.  I had friends and family asking me frequently, "How are you doing?" I thought I was fine. I thought I wasn't doing enough. 

My 'short fat kid trying to dunk a basketball' moment came to me in the middle of the day during one of my class sessions. I was trying to tell my students something and my jaw clenched. I was afraid I was having a heart attack. It ended up being an anxiety problem that I can't treat with pills. I still cope with it to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. 

Some people have diabetes. Some people have crazy family issues. I have anxiety. Knowing about that limitation doesn't make it easy to deal with, but at least I know what I have to face. This saves me a lot of time and avoids creating new problems. 

As hard as it is a talk about my own limitations, I find it harder to talk to other people about their own. The intention may be to help, but it comes across as being condescending or judgmental. Most people just keep to themselves as opposed to creating any social awkwardness. This is our cultural practice. This happens on micro and macro level. 

I propose we put some more social awkwardness in our lives. We have so many social problems that can't even be addressed because our avoidance of conflict has bred anti-intellectualism. Our society doesn't even have good tools to generate discourse of what ails us. 

I try to understand my limitations so I can develop empathy to understand the limitations of others. This helps me make decisions about what is right and what is wrong.  Knowing where our limitations begin and end might help us all avoid cutting off the tip of our finger with a hedge trimmer. 

Just to use an example. 




There's this concept in technology called "Friction." To summarize it briefly, friction refers to the number of steps of doing what I want with hardware/software and finally acheiving the desired result. Example: On my iphone, there are three steps of friction between me wanting to make a phone call and actually making the call. I grab my phone and first (1) unlock it (2) go to the phone icon and (3) select the name of desired recipients from a list. 

I think about friction a lot. Not just with tech, though. If I am able to objectively assess my own behavior, I can alter my own life patterns in my home. Maybe I realize the floor is frequently dirty and I can't stand it any more. How many steps are there between me vacuuming the floor after I walk in my front door? If it's more than three steps of friction, I  won't be very good about keeping a clean floor. I can't speak for many others on the matter, but I know that about myself.

As an artist, I have to be aware of how many steps a creative idea is away from fruition. If the friction is too great, it will never come to be. Sure, if I have a ton of canvas materials ready I can make a thousand paintings, but I know I probably won't if I don't already have a couple stretched and ready to go when an idea comes. How far away is my guitar? Am I technically ready to perform the idea? How much practice is necessary? 

These are just the logistical frictions. When I was a kid, I always thought that if I had a video camera, I would make feature films. Now there is less friction than ever for me to do it and I haven't made a film yet. I have a camera, editing software, etc. but I don't do it. Why?  

I don't wanna I guess. 

I'm getting older and the more aware I am of the frictions, the harder it gets to choose how I actually spend my time. I hope I am doing well with my choices, because as time marches on, the frictions become more noticiable and prevalent. 

And some of the frictions I don't know if I can overcome. 



Well, here we go...

This page will be my first weblog. I'm really excited to talk about movies and media and culture. I probably won't talk much about politics unless I get really pissed off. I'll talk about things like box office for film, technology, and video games, too. Should be a lot of fun.