Time-Warner Cable pisses off two Starship Enterprise Captains on two coasts

Behold, a Twitter exchange between Captains Kirk and Picard bemoaning the execrable state of Time-Warner Cable and the firm's general incapacity not to be a monstrous source of life-up-fucking.

Starfleet Captains versus Time-Warner

Molly Crabapple describes and illustrates her Occupy arrest


Molly Crabapple's brief, illustrated editorial describing her arrest at the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street is a tale of police entrapment: petty, punitive justice; solidarity, and resolve.

At one corner, I saw a cop grabbing the arm of a woman in front of me and pulling her into the street. It was the same gesture you might use to escort an old lady, and, when the next officer did this to me, that is what I thought it was. But then, halfway across the street, he cuffed my hands behind my back.

There was no warning. No Miranda rights like in the movies. At first, I was incredulous. It was not until I got my desk ticket that night for blocking traffic that I had any idea what the officer was accusing me of doing.

I was a head shorter than the officer. I said to him, "You know I was on the sidewalk." He wouldn't meet my eyes. I was two blocks from my apartment. But because I was part of a protest, I was no longer a local. I was an obstruction to be cleared.

Going into the police van, they snapped my picture on a Fujimax Polaroid knockoff, hipster party style. I gave them my best grin. A man in a suit passed by, looked us over, and said to the police, "nice work."

My arrest at Occupy Wall Street

Great Graphic Novels: From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

GreatgraphicnovelsLast month I asked my friends to write about books they loved (you can read all the essays here). This month, I invited them to write about their favorite graphic novels, and they selected some excellent titles. I hope you enjoy them! (Read all the Great Graphic Novel essays here.) -- Mark

From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

From hellIt only took me about five seconds to settle upon the graphic novel that has most successfully blown me away: From Hell by Alan Moore (writer) and Eddie Campbell (artist).

Clocking in at close to 600 pages, this is not a one-evening read, as too many graphic novels are. It is also not the world's loveliest artistic feast. The art is stark black and white scratchy pen-work and I have to say that Eddie Campbell's style is an acquired taste. But it perfectly suits Alan Moore's complex script about the Jack the Ripper killings in London in the 1880s.

There is plenty of blood spilled as the killings proceed, and the fact that it is all in black ink -- not red - helps maintain a certain aesthetic distance from the dirty deeds being done. I think of the book as being drawn in soot, which certainly defined late-Victorian London, where the famous fog was actually smog.

Long story short: Moore immersed himself in the various conspiracy theories about who Jack the Ripper really was and settled on an amalgamated premise that Jack was really the Queen's physician, William Gull, and the murders were part of a monstrous occult Masonic ritual. The truth was ostensibly covered-up by Masons in positions of power and justice was never rendered.

This is, I think, a preposterous premise, but it is an engrossing one, nevertheless, and if one just suspends disbelief and allows Moore to sweep one along on his dark horse-drawn carriage ride, there are hours of finely-nuanced entertainment to be had.

The movie version of From Hell, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, was a telegraphed and watered down version of the story that Moore spins. It had its moments, particularly in capturing the spooky atmosphere of late nights in the East End, but if you even half-way enjoyed the movie, you owe it to yourself to read the original graphic novel.

(Various disclaimers: I became a Mason around the time that From Hell was first published, my wife was Matron of Honour at Alan Moore's and Melinda Gebbie's wedding in Northampton, UK, and we all remain friends. That said, I'd still stand by From Hell as a graphic novel masterpiece, even if I were not a Mason and didn't know Alan Moore from Joe Blow.)

From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Thai vulva-bleaching product

Thailand's skin-lightening craze (which includes products with such active ingredients as mercury) has reached new heights, with a widely advertised vulva*-bleaching product called Lactacyd White Intimate, made by the French company Sanofi Aventis, with an 80MM baht (approx USD2.6MM) advertising budget. The Guardian's Kate Hodal has more:

"Products [have] evolved from face-whitening to body and deodorant solutions to even out dark areas in the armpits," said Louis-Sebastien Ohl of Publicis Thailand, which created the adverts. "Now an intimate toiletry also offers a whitening benefit, because research evidenced that … women [we]re keen to have such a product."

In many countries across south-east Asia, fairer skin has long been equated with higher class as it suggests a life not spent toiling in rice paddies under the sun. The Thai language is peppered with cultural expressions that denigrate dark skin, such as the insult dam mhuen e-ga – "black like a crow". These days, rice farmers wear long sleeves, trousers, wide-brimmed hats and gloves. According to DRAFTFCB, the agency behind many of Nivea's skin-lightening ads in Thailand, such labourers provide the bulk of the Thai market for Nivea's face and body-lightening products.

Thailand's skin-whitening craze reaches woman's intimate areas

* The Guardian describes it as a "vaginal lightening" product, but I assume they mean "vulva"

Oglaf on nipples

The punchline comes six panels later, and is no less perfect for its obviousness. Bitterfruit [Oglaf]

A report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports

This year's IgNobel Prizes were a characteristically great bunch, but as a writer, I'm particularly excited to see that the organizers awarded a prize in literature this year. The prize went to the US Government Accountability Office, for Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies, or as the IgNobels put it:

The US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.

The feds didn't send anyone to accept.

Winners of the IgNobel Prize (via As It Happens)