Remy Gabalda’s photo for Agence France-Presse of an anti-Sivens Dam protestor confronting a riot cop is the perfect expression of the moral of Jacob Two-Two: the one thing authoritarianism cannot withstand is laughter.
1026 words on UTOPIA (working title), a novel for adults #dailywords [total to date: 131365]
Law enforcement agencies have been buying and distributing Computercop, advising citizens that the software is the “first step” for protecting their kids; one sheriff bought copies for every family in the county.
But Computercop isn’t security software — quite the opposite; it’s classic malware. The software, made in New York by a company that markets to law enforcement, is a badly designed keylogger that stores thingstyped into the keyboard — potentially everything typed on the family PC — passwords, sensitive communications, banking logins, and more, all stored on the hard drive, either in the clear, or with weak, easily broken encryption. And Computercop users are encouraged to configure the software to email dumps from the keylogger to their accounts (to spy on their children’s activity), so that all those keystrokes are vulnerable to interception by anyone between your computer and your email server.
Genius: “This small, sixteen-page pamphlet is produced to put inside the postage-paid, business-reply envelopes that come with junk mail offers. Every envelope collected is stuffed with the pamphlet and mailed back to its original company.”
Faith Erin Hicks’s Zombies Calling is a fun, fast graphic novel about Canadian university students who battle zombies on campus. The protagonist, Joss, is an incorrigible zombie movie nut who argues endlessly with her roommates about the internal consistency of zombie genre films and the rules that heroes must follow when they are confronted by the walking dead. She’s also a helpless anglophile who peppers her speech with affectations like “crumbs,” which annoys her roommates but is actually very sweet for the reader.
Zombies Calling fits nicely into the Scott Pilgrim mode: rich with pop-culture reference, snappy dialog, and a delightful disregard for the boundary between reality and fantasy.
Hicks has got lots going for her — great illustration and writing style, funny dialog and likeable characters — but what I was most impressed by was her cinematic talent for making a zombie chase-scene come alive with real tension through clever panel-layout and illustrations. I didn’t expect to have my heart thumping over a funnybook about zombies, but thump it did.
Ron MacLean’s Headlong is a gripping, timely novel about a middle-aged, washed-up Boston newspaperman who returns to his childhood home from a wasted existence in LA to care for his father after a bad stroke. Nick, the protagonist, was once an idealistic muck-raker, but a failed business and a failed marriage have left him adrift and purposeless.
But his return to Boston coincides with a citywide uprising centered around a janitor’s strike. Young anarchists, anti-poverty church activists, and a mass of disaffected and unhappy people take to the streets, and a long, hot summer of street-fighting, vandalism, dirty tricks and pitched battles kicks off. As Nick’s father lingers in his unpaid-for hospital bed, Nick finds himself drawn back into the fray, as a journalist, a mentor to a young activist, and as an old friend to some of the key players.
Headlong is a claustrophobic, noirish novel about the news business, labor politics, protest, and murder, and it’s beautifully told and smartly concluded. It has the grace to be empathetic with all sides of a hard fight where no one has perfectly clean hands, and ultimately presents a tale of redemption and hope arising from even the most impossible circumstances.
Lucas writes, “Through Oct, the Lewis & Clark Library of Montana hosting a Big Read of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Running a vast series of events throughout the month, each will be tracked on a special adventure map to represent the experiences that shape us and our understanding of the classic novel.”