Archive for June, 2006


Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

While I was at work tonight, there was a problem in the kitchen. The printer broke and a lot of the orders didn’t come through. I scrambled to get everything out in time, and the chefs in the kitchen did their part putting them together as fast as possible.

Only one table really felt the error, two men eating grilled Halibut. One was an older white man, kind but oddly out of place. The other looked Indian, and his accent suggested the same. He seemed to speak English poorly at best, and the white man would repeat everything I said slower and louder to him, as if my English were somehow harder to understand.

When I brought the plates out, I told him, “I’m sorry for the delay. There was a… miscommunication in the kitchen.” I imagined that my annoyance with the kitchen probably showed on my face.

“Yes, delay,” the older man barked. Then he ordered a cup of hot tea and another house wine.

I do acknowledge some fault in the situation. I should have stopped at the table and explained the situation before bringing the plates. I also was busy and probably not at my most personable. Anyway, I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I got the check back and the tip was 12%.

Hours later, when the restaurant was winding down, I picked up the check from my last table. I had to stay pretty late with one table, but I didn’t mind because it was a nice couple having a nice dinner and the tip was probably going to be pretty good.

But when I turned the corner and opened the book, the check was blank.

“Oooh MAN!” I groaned aloud. There was a rookie waiter standing next to me.

“What?” he asked.

“This table… they I’m sure they left me a check, but the dude took the wrong slip! I don’t know what the tip is!”

“Does that happen a lot?”

“Occasionally. Usually I can just get the tip off the indentation the pen left when they signed the first slip. But it doesn’t look like he had it on top…”

“So what happens now?”

“Well I’m supposed to call it 0.”

“Ooh.. that sucks.”

“Yeah… screw it, I know these guys were going to tip me. I can put ten bucks on here, its less than 15%.”

“Yeah. People don’t read their credit card statements anyway.”

“Well some of them do, you do have to be careful. The rule around here is that if there’s a complaint, you have to pay the entire check. But if you get away with it, you’re fine.” I looked over his shoulder. Standing behind him was the old man from the earlier table. I had to switch very quickly into customer-mode, and I wondered how much he heard.

“Can I help you, Sir?” I said in my waiter-voice.

“Well… I was in here earlier. And there was a delay in the food arriving, and in my mind I blamed you and that wasn’t right. So here.” And he handed me a five dollar bill.

“Thank you, very much sir. That’s very nice of you.” I really appreciated the gesture.

“However, I do think I left something here. A check, folded in three. Can we look?”

“Well, certainly, sir, but if there were a piece of paper under the table I would imagine that the bus girl took it.” We walked over to his table and glanced on the surrounding floor. There was nothing.

“Listen, I’ll go ask the bus-girl. She may have found it.” I said it and actually believed it. On Father’s Day the same girl had saved a Father’s Day card in the bus station for hours, and immediately found it for me when I asked for it. So I knew there was hope.

She was 19, and probably second-generation from Korea, China or Japan. I’ll admit I can’t tell which. She was tiny, probably no taller than 5 feet and extremely skinny. And very, very sweet. You might come out of the restaurant angry at management, customers and everybody else and she would belt out a few bars of Mariah Carey and you couldn’t help but laugh.

So I went and asked her if she ever found the check. I knew that if she found something important like that she would have immediately known it, and she just looked at me with genuine concern that she hadn’t found it. I felt kind of bad for even asking her, since I really thought it bothered her.

“It probably looked like garbage,” I said. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault.”

I went back out and explained to the man that I couldn’t find his check.

“Oh that’s ok. I’m not even sure I left it here anyway. But thank you for your concern. If it does turn up, here’s my card.” He handed it to me. He was a Reverend for an Episcopal Church in Richmond, one of the worst ghettos in the Bay Area.

He left and the bus-girl stopped next to me.

“That sucks. I feel bad for him.” she said.

I made sure I gave her extra when I tipped her out that night.

Monday, June 26th, 2006

I think today’s strip is particularly funny because “storming the shores” of Finland would require the U.S. to sail through a very tight cluster of islands between Denmark and Sweden and into the Baltic Sea. The truth is it would be much easier for the United States to first take Norway and Sweden or to recruit them as allies. Then again, well-laid plans is not the Pentagon’s strongest attribute. (That would be the guns. The BIG BIG guns.)


Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Garry Trudeau really can’t write for young people. It’s a problem I’ve been noticing for a while, they’re all completely unbelievable. One just lost his job in the CIA, another has schools like MIT and Harvard fighting for her. And they use words like Dick Cheney and negligee in the same sentence. I relate better to Duke than these people.

I thought Walden wasn’t a good school anymore? Where’s the shift to the service sector? Or the declining job market?

I Won! I Won!! Site News

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Uh.. yeah.. so I won Webcomics in Print’s send in your picture wearing a webcomic t-shirt contest. They apparently liked that I gave the only shirt I made to a friend to apologize for basing the character Bounty on him. He probably deserves more than a t-shirt…

And a big welcome to all the new readers: June has been by far the best month ever in two years of running this site. I won’t put a pathetically low number on it, so let’s just say that I’m glad you’re all here.

And were you inclined to help out with the site a little, there’s a few ways you could do so. A very easy way is to vote for Debt On at theWebcomicList or here: or here

Also there are a few text ads running down the side of the blog and clicking those may someday help me. (The ads aren’t bad, really. I’ve been checking things out and found myself clicking my own ads because I thought they were interesting. Seriously. Check it out.)

If you really like the strip, a better way to help out would be to make a Paypal donation via the button that looks like this:

Otherwise, I may have to get more ads. Yuck. Cartooning is an enormous sinkhole for money.

Also, I urge everyone to check out my ever-expanding links page. Recent additions include the awesome comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and new political video blog Crooks and Liars which seems to have a taste for the random freaking incredible live performance by the likes of Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye. Not to be missed.

Getting the Republicans out of the Democratic Party

Friday, June 16th, 2006

The Senate race in Connecticut has been heating up lately, and it looks like Joe Lieberman may be about to lose the Democratic primary. More progressive Democrats have long thought that Lieberman was little more than a Republican in Democrats’ clothes, particularly after his support for the ill-conceived Iraq war and also evidenced by his continued complaining about the music, film and video game industry. Yes.. Joe Lieberman knows the real problems with violence in the world the.. uh… fake violence.

So now as challenger Ned Lamont seems to be in striking distance of Lieberman in the primary, Lieberman has publicly considered running as an independent. As it turns out, Lieberman performs better with Republicans and unaffilliated voters than with Democrats. Surprise, surprise.

Now, via DailyKos, Senator Chuck Schumer, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that the DSCC will not rule out supporting Lieberman if he runs as an independent, despite what the Democrats in Connecticut voted for.

Howard Dean’s brother, Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, had this to say:

“Joe hasn’t confirmed that he’s planning to run as an Independent. But his campaign seems to be laying the groundwork, courting important Beltway insiders from both sides of the aisle. Amazingly, Senator Chuck Schumer, Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), has said that the DSCC will not rule out supporting Lieberman if he runs as an Independent. The DSCC’s mission is to elect Democrats to the Senate. Yet in this case, they would prefer to back an incumbent who leaves the party instead of a principled progressive who’s proud to be a Democrat.”

It’s worse. Schumer’s comments show contempt for democracy and a fundamental disregard for the will of the people. He’s just trying to keep his little club together.

And seriously, can we really have a Democratic Sentator running around that was seen like this???


Not by the Ballot, and They Have the Bullets

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Prisons are one of the most despicable endeavors in human history. Their continued existence adds corruption to our society. Imagine my surprise when I found out that in my new home of California, there’s no way to vote against the expansion of prisons.

An article in today’s Washington Post cites California’s bloated and overcrowded prison system as a warning for the rest of the country to place a continued emphasis on rehabilitation and not on punishment. 173,000 people are in jail in California, and to keep them there it costs the state $8 Billion a year.

The article tracks the history of California’s prison system: in the sixties and early seventies it was lauded for reforming prisoners, most notably by developing a system of indeterminate sentencing, to be judged by a parole board based on merit. All this changed in 1977.

In 1977, then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D), responding to a worries about rising crime, did away with indeterminate sentencing. Three years later, state lawmakers enacted legislation that said the purpose of incarceration was punishment alone, formally writing rehabilitation and treatment out of the penal code. (Brown is today running for state attorney general on a platform that calls for sentencing procedures that would lower prison population.)

Over the next decade, California’s legislature, dominated by Democrats, passed more than 1,000 laws increasing mandatory prison sentences. The climax came in 1994 with the enactment of the “three strikes” law mandating 25-years-to-life sentences for most offenders with two previous serious convictions. “People have this image of California beach politics and the left coast,” said state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat from Los Angeles. “The truth is California is a law-and-order state.”

So where is a liberal Californian to turn if the Democrats are the ones sending everybody to jail? The Post places the blame for much of the current situation on the power of the correctional officer’s union:

“We sit down to the negotiating table, and we use our laptops. We all have one program,” said Joe Bauman, a correctional officer in Norco and a union negotiator. “Meanwhile, they’re using a calculator that you get free with a carton of cigarettes.”

Ironically it was the Republican Arnold Schwarzeneggar who ran a campaign promising to return rehabilitation to California’s prisons:

When he came into office on the back of an unprecedented recall of Davis in 2003, Schwarzenegger vowed to take on the union and bring California’s prison system into the modern world. On his second day in office, he appointed Ronald Hickman, a barrel-chested former prison guard with a reputation as a reformer, to lead the department. “Corrections,” Schwarzenegger said, “should correct.”

Last year, Hickman reorganized the state’s prison network and returned the word “rehabilitation” to the title of his agency for the first time since 1980. Schwarzenegger and Hickman subsequently announced a new parole program that they said would cut the prison population by an estimated 15,000 and vowed more changes.

But the parole plan bombed because it was poorly planned and badly executed and the prison officers unions fought it all the way, Hickman said in a recent interview. “We really didn’t do a very good job on implementation.”

For his part, Hickman quit in February after discovering that Schwarzenegger’s top aides had been meeting with union representatives behind his back.

And just so no one gets the idea that I’m soft on Republicans, insight into the effect of completely lawless prisons in a DailyKos post about three suicides in Guantanamo Bay. They come amid hunger strikes and hundreds of attempted suicides, a gerneral feeling of a hopelessness, an indefinite incarceration with no guaranteed rights at all.

So I percieve my present political choices thus: either a party of blind and fanatical devotion to law and order with little concern for the causes of crime, or a party that has lost respect for the law and instead places an emphasis on holding remarkable power against its enemies.

We would be well advised to remember the disaster of California’s own Stanford Prison Experiment.

No Squatters’ Rights Here

Friday, June 9th, 2006

Police in San Francisco killed a man on Tuesday after they mistakenly tried to arrest him for squatting. He ran and hid in a crawlspace in the attic.

One officer mistook Sullivan’s eyeglasses case for a weapon and opened fire, grazing his partner’s head with a bullet and causing her to believe they were under fire. She also began firing, Fong said.

Will someone please take these people’s guns away? And get some training for the ones who are left?