When left, right, print, broadcast and mainstream media outlets agree, it has to be true, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s what an end-of-the-year update published in November 2009 by the US Bureau of Reclamation had to say about the drought: precipitation in 2009 was about 94 percent of average in Northern California, which is pretty much the only region that matters since it is where three-quarters of the state’s water comes from.
Ninety-four percent of average? That does not sound like severe drought conditions at all. But don’t tell that to California’s Department of Water Resources, which still has a huge DHS-style “Drought Condition Severe” orange alert plastered on its Web site.
The power of simple fact-checking aside, why would California officials exaggerate — if not outright lie — about the drought? Well, the issue here is less about the drought itself and more about what a drought — real or not — can help achieve. If there is one thing 2009 revealed about California’s “action hero” governor, it’s that he is eagerly willing to serve as the front man for the sleaziest, most crooked business cartel in the state: a de facto water oligarchy made up of billionaire corporate farmers who run vast stretches of the state like their own personal fiefdoms, exploiting migrant workers for slave labor and soaking the taxpayers for billions of dollars in subsidies every year. And like all good businessmen, they aren’t letting a good mini-crisis go to waste. Their objective is to whip up fears of a drought-related calamity to push through a “solution” they’ve been having wet dreams about for the past five decades: a multi-billion-dollar aqueduct the width of the Panama Canal that would give them near total control of more than half of California’s water supplies.
This weeks begins for me a much anticipated break from the internet. My laptop is sitting at home in NJ, I am many miles away (soon to be many more miles), and we shall not rendezvous again until September.
When public computers are available, I may log on to check email and such, if I feel like it. But for much of the summer I will not have any access. So please do not expect replies to any electronic correspondence. Letters are most welcome. Privacy concerns prohibit my posting my contact info on this site. Check facebook or call my parents.
To all my family & friends,
I am so insanely lucky to have you in my life. A blog post feels massively inadequate for expressing my gratitude, appreciation, and love for all of you, but to not use this space to say something seems wrong. Because of you, I think it is fair to say that I have had the most exciting, educational, and life-affirming year of my life. I hope that your 2007 was wonderful too, but more importantly, that your 2008 is even better. May the new year bring you peace, health, love, growth, and happiness.
To Marjane Satrapi and Vikram Seth,
Thank you for making art. Marjane, thank you for reminding me how powerful and beautiful animation can be. Vikram, thank you for writing a novel about San Francisco in verse. To both of you, thank you for demonstrating the importance of not compromising as an artist, for giving me a reason to look forward to tomorrow’s cross-country flight with a 2 hour layover, and for helping me view life with some reverence (the good kind). May the new year bring you success and inspiration, and may your work influence our culture.
To the weather,
Thank you so much for snowing today in Cambridge. I really needed that. May the new year keep you safe from global warming.
Originally intended as documentation for our OLPC collaboration, we settled for trying to come up with something American kids (and adults) would understand, as we realized we were pretty unqualified to educate children in the developing world. So in true collaborative form, the comic is on the wiki (admittedly, a poor presentation format) and all the SVG artwork is online, in the hopes that people who have a stronger knowledge of the different cultures the laptops are going to will give us feedback or make improvements.
I wrote the bulk of the script (with lots of help from Jon, Alex, and Asheesh). This is the product of 4ish years of trying to explain CC to friends, family, and whoever else would listen. I’m really curious about how successful it is. Its definitely the approach I’ve found work best in conversation, but this is a comic. Of course I’ve been working on it for too long to have any sense if it works or not (but Valleywag twice blogged us).
As far as the artwork goes, I storyboarded it and then passed it on to our awesome graphic designer, Alex Roberts. He did most of the panels in Inkscape until he got bored of it, and threw it back to me. The art is kinda tricky because of how abstract the ideas are, leading to an over reliance on arrows and such. I had fun with the facial expressions towards the end though.
This is my first real project using vector graphics and its made me a lot more savvy with Inkscape, which is great. I definitely miss ink & bristol, and hopefully will have something new in that medium up here soon. On the other hand, SVG makes it so easy to revise and mess around, like with this final panel that didn’t make the cut:
Silent Strokes by Superhumanoids. Catchy, groovy, pscyh-pop – definitely a track for your makeout playlist. The human behind all this is Cameron Parkins, who interned at CC with me this summer, so I should add that its licensed CC-BY-NC for your listening & remixing pleasure.
Its been a while since my last post, but not for lack of things to say. Instead, my bandwidth for online activity has been consumed by two other endeavors. First, I gave the Harvard Lampoon website a complete redesign using Drupal. Its still very much a work in progress, and considering my attention span, it may stay as such for a while. But check it out, as we plan to update the content quite frequently (including comics illustrated by yours truly).
However, despite what my recent contributions to the Lampoon may seem, I am not back in Cambridge. My love affair with California is still going strong and I’ve decided to stay in Berkeley for the semester. Peace out, Puritans. Hello, beautiful hippie people.
And what have I been doing out here? Besides making lots of friends, art, and sourdough, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been hired as a Business Development Assistant for Creative Commons, the awesome organization I interned with over the summer. I blog for them a couple times a week, so that’s definitely been eating into the energy I have for this site. More to come on what else I’ve been working on there, but for now I should mention that we just launched our Annual Fall Fundraising Campaign, and along with it, a slick site redesign. Those of you already familiar with the great work CC is doing, consider making a donation!
For the uninitiated, this video is a pretty good introduction to what Creative Commons is all about: