Monday, August 24, 2009

Problem Pointer

Mystery at Manzanar is a well-written, well-illustrated young adult novel – but there’s a problem.

I picked up the book because it appeared to be a graphic novel. But actually it’s somewhere between a book and graphic novel, switching between prose and illustrated sections with word balloons. I had no problem with the format.

The book is labeled Historical Fiction; the subtitle explains: A WWII Internment Camp Story. Another reason why I picked it up. I wanted to see how the writer, Eric Fein, presented this dark history in America’s past. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, innocent Japanese immigrants and citizens were rounded up, relocated to camps like Manzabar in the California desert, penned in with barbed wire fences and watchtowers. The kind of paranoia that followed 9/11.

The hero, 15-year-old Tommy Yamamoto, is a fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. A crime in committed during his confinement at the Manzanar Relocation camp. Tommy uses his detective skills to reveal who is real perpetrator.

No problem with this. The story works, especially for younger readers unfamiliar with how hysteria can grip the so-called Land of the Free.

Is there a snag with Kurt Hartman’s kinda cartoony illustrations? Nope. Like I said the switching between text and illustrations works OK.

The trouble I would say is a slip-up in editing, one illustrated section that should have been modified before publication.

Word balloons have tails or pointers that indicate which character is uttering a particular bit of dialogue. Usually the word balloon points at the character’s head; after all, that’s where the mouth is located. But I have a problem when the pointer is aimed at a character’s armpit.

Or when the word balloon points at (ahem) another area of a speaker’s anatomy.

Do editors still edit?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vote Fraud The Digital Way

Think your vote counts?

Take a look at Loser Take All: Election Fraud and The Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008, an anthology of articles edited by Mark Crispin Miller. If you think that computerization has eliminated ballot hi-jinks, you’re wrong.

Part of the problem could be the classic fox watching the henhouse. Have elections tallied up only by a private company with little or no oversight by local government, a company beholden to a particular political party. Such loose security leaves open opportunities to manipulate the vote.

One way it could be done is a last minute “patch” or piece of “corrective” software being installed in the voting machines that will help keep one candidate ahead in the race by a few points, even if he’s losing. Or install a memory card in one machine that can spread a virus to other machines in the system, manipulating the vote in your favor.

Then there’s the memory card switcheroo. When the cards are taken out of each voting machine to be tabulated by a central server, just drop in a magic one that will affect the tabulations. Another way is wireless: install a wi-fi card in the tabulating computer with special software and jigger the results with a laptop computer in a nearby room.

And without a paper trail, who’s going to notice?

Does Homeland Security Know About This?

I just signed on tonight and found this image (Google is my default page):

No, it’s not a Google time bomb. Apparently it’s some sort of electromagnetic device; the logo is to honor the birth of the Danish inventor, Hans Christian ├śrsted (1777-1851), according to

But with all the post 9/11 paranoia that remains, I bet there are those who don’t think it looks that innocent. For example, I’m eXpecting someone will claim that it’s one of those Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Illuminati symbols/messages…