1. Short version: I got a gun license and drew a comic about it. Read it over at the Brookline TAB right now:
Long version: So with the off-again, on-again debate about guns that we have in America, it feels like we’re stuck in a simple, unwinnable argument — whether we should have the right to bear arms, or not.
The problem with *that* fight is we forget what the right to bear arms actually looks like: How is it regulated, who can have a gun and for what purposes?
Gun laws are complicated. So I focused in on the issue that basically is what the Second Amendment is all about — the ability to carry a concealed handgun in public. Short version: It’s complicated, involves lots of forms and — as a traditional news story — would be about 30 inches of grey text.
So, comics. I told this story as a comic to exploit the medium’s visual flexibility in telling a story. It’s based on my own experiences, but also relies heavily on research and public records (more about those sources here) to report on the scope and nature of the nation’s really complicated license to carry laws. Anyway, read it here.
 

    Short version: I got a gun license and drew a comic about it. Read it over at the Brookline TAB right now:

    Long version: So with the off-again, on-again debate about guns that we have in America, it feels like we’re stuck in a simple, unwinnable argument — whether we should have the right to bear arms, or not.

    The problem with *that* fight is we forget what the right to bear arms actually looks like: How is it regulated, who can have a gun and for what purposes?

    Gun laws are complicated. So I focused in on the issue that basically is what the Second Amendment is all about — the ability to carry a concealed handgun in public. Short version: It’s complicated, involves lots of forms and — as a traditional news story — would be about 30 inches of grey text.

    So, comics. I told this story as a comic to exploit the medium’s visual flexibility in telling a story. It’s based on my own experiences, but also relies heavily on research and public records (more about those sources here) to report on the scope and nature of the nation’s really complicated license to carry laws. Anyway, read it here.

     

  2. Scott Brown might run for president! And our little state keeps messing with your shit, America! You’re welcome!

  3. For this week’s Brookline TAB, a friendly reminder to college students coming to Brookline that the town has hilariously controlling noise bylaws aimed right at students, plus amazingly strict parking rules. 
And yes, those fines are real.
BTW — You should totally read the Brookline TAB.

    For this week’s Brookline TAB, a friendly reminder to college students coming to Brookline that the town has hilariously controlling noise bylaws aimed right at students, plus amazingly strict parking rules. 

    And yes, those fines are real.

    BTW — You should totally read the Brookline TAB.

  4. Earlier this summer, I tried participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, and totally failed when I ate all the food in my house.
But the food stamp program is more complicated than an internet challenge, so this week’s Brookline TAB comic takes a closer look at how food stamps work financially, and steps to curb spending on the $81 billion program.
One of the awesome quirks about the food stamp program (technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is its eligibility requirements: You basically earn less than $25,000 a year and you can’t have more than $2,000 in asset to qualify for about $4.50 a day to buy food. 
So the catch-22 of aid is if you’re pinched enough to need it, you’ll get barely enough to get by. And if you try improving your situation by taking on more work or getting promoted, your income could kick you from the program before you have a chance to build up savings or pay down debts. 
Also: One way or another, someone will cut the program’s budget.

Awesome.

    Earlier this summer, I tried participating in the Food Stamp Challenge, and totally failed when I ate all the food in my house.

    But the food stamp program is more complicated than an internet challenge, so this week’s Brookline TAB comic takes a closer look at how food stamps work financially, and steps to curb spending on the $81 billion program.

    One of the awesome quirks about the food stamp program (technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is its eligibility requirements: You basically earn less than $25,000 a year and you can’t have more than $2,000 in asset to qualify for about $4.50 a day to buy food. 

    So the catch-22 of aid is if you’re pinched enough to need it, you’ll get barely enough to get by. And if you try improving your situation by taking on more work or getting promoted, your income could kick you from the program before you have a chance to build up savings or pay down debts. 

    Also: One way or another, someone will cut the program’s budget.

    Awesome.

  5. We can boil down this week’s Brookline TAB comic like this:

Brookline artist wants to draw on sidewalk with chalk.
Town says, “No.”
Brookline artist calls lawyer friend.
Town says, “Yes.”
The end?
No.

As the TAB reported, the town then issued a permit allowing the artist to draw on the sidewalk with chalk between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18.
The artist, Norah Dooley, apparently did complete her work, and that is awesome. 
What is far, far less awesome is that someone in the town realized they couldn’t shut down an artist from exercising her first amendment right, and decided to make practicing that right as unpleasant as possible. 
Putting aside the issue of being able to use your rights only if you’re besties with a lawyer, issuing a permit to use sidewalk chalk for four hours during one morning just makes the town as a whole look petty and foolish. 
But it sounds like Dooley made the most of her four hours of free expression, based on what she told the TAB:

Dooley said executing the project was her First Amendment right.
“It’s our sidewalk,” she said, adding that someone against the project could just take a bucket of water to it and wash it away. “That is the nature of impermanent chalk art.”
She used the Homeland Security tagline of “If you see something, say something” in her chalk project, as well as quotes from presidents, dead and alive. One example: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men,” from Abraham Lincoln.

    We can boil down this week’s Brookline TAB comic like this:

    Brookline artist wants to draw on sidewalk with chalk.

    Town says, “No.”

    Brookline artist calls lawyer friend.

    Town says, “Yes.”

    The end?

    No.

    As the TAB reported, the town then issued a permit allowing the artist to draw on the sidewalk with chalk between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18.

    The artist, Norah Dooley, apparently did complete her work, and that is awesome. 

    What is far, far less awesome is that someone in the town realized they couldn’t shut down an artist from exercising her first amendment right, and decided to make practicing that right as unpleasant as possible. 

    Putting aside the issue of being able to use your rights only if you’re besties with a lawyer, issuing a permit to use sidewalk chalk for four hours during one morning just makes the town as a whole look petty and foolish. 

    But it sounds like Dooley made the most of her four hours of free expression, based on what she told the TAB:

    Dooley said executing the project was her First Amendment right.

    “It’s our sidewalk,” she said, adding that someone against the project could just take a bucket of water to it and wash it away. “That is the nature of impermanent chalk art.”

    She used the Homeland Security tagline of “If you see something, say something” in her chalk project, as well as quotes from presidents, dead and alive. One example: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men,” from Abraham Lincoln.

  6. The Brookline TAB has the latest on the town’s semi-non-functional Human Rights Commission (which has a far longer and grandiose official name). It’s a board designed to improve the stakes for women and minority groups in town, but as reporter Ignacio Laguarda tell us, the board is plagued by infighting, name-calling, calling the police on each other (sorta), resignations and bureaucratic tomfoolery.
As Laguarda writes about the board’s most recent meeting: 

After member Larry Onie said the commission should discuss the Selectmen’s moratorium on appointing new commissioners, Alan Balsam, the head of the Health Department, said, “It wasn’t posted, Larry.”
Member Brooks Ames responded, “But the agenda should be something we all decide.”
A number of people spoke up at that point, with Onie continuing to talk as McNally was trying to quiet the crowd.
“Larry, you’re out of order,” she said. “Put that in the minutes. He’s out of order, as usual.”
Onie continued talking.

Later that same night:

…Onie spoke up at that point and McNally tried to stop him.
“No, you’re out of order, second time,” she said.
Onie responded, “Call the police.”
At that point, McNally said, “Oh you’d love to be in the papers wouldn’t you?”
The meeting was abruptly ended when Onie mentioned a past incident, in which he said McNally told Selectwoman Nancy Daly that a commissioner left a message on her voicemail and called her a “bitch.”


END SCENE.

    The Brookline TAB has the latest on the town’s semi-non-functional Human Rights Commission (which has a far longer and grandiose official name). It’s a board designed to improve the stakes for women and minority groups in town, but as reporter Ignacio Laguarda tell us, the board is plagued by infighting, name-calling, calling the police on each other (sorta), resignations and bureaucratic tomfoolery.

    As Laguarda writes about the board’s most recent meeting

    After member Larry Onie said the commission should discuss the Selectmen’s moratorium on appointing new commissioners, Alan Balsam, the head of the Health Department, said, “It wasn’t posted, Larry.”

    Member Brooks Ames responded, “But the agenda should be something we all decide.”

    A number of people spoke up at that point, with Onie continuing to talk as McNally was trying to quiet the crowd.

    “Larry, you’re out of order,” she said. “Put that in the minutes. He’s out of order, as usual.”

    Onie continued talking.

    Later that same night:

    …Onie spoke up at that point and McNally tried to stop him.

    “No, you’re out of order, second time,” she said.

    Onie responded, “Call the police.”

    At that point, McNally said, “Oh you’d love to be in the papers wouldn’t you?”

    The meeting was abruptly ended when Onie mentioned a past incident, in which he said McNally told Selectwoman Nancy Daly that a commissioner left a message on her voicemail and called her a “bitch.”

    END SCENE.

  7. For the Brookline TAB this week: When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last month, our world became a little more fair for more people. 
Too bad it followed the court’s decision to undercut the Voters Rights Act, one of the most important laws that even acknowledges fairness should be a goal in America.
It’s really worth understanding what the Supreme Court did with the Voters Rights Act; the short, overly-simplified version is that the Act no longer prohibits states with histories of racial bias in elections from making sweeping changes to their voting laws, such as requiring proof of citizenship and photo IDs before voting, among other things.
NYU’s Brennen Center reports on the problems created by things like photo/voter IDs: About 21 million voters don’t have a photo ID, nor can every voter afford one.  And something like 13 million legal voters lack the paperwork  needed to prove they’re citizens to get a photo ID, according to the organization.
And while the intended goal is to prevent voter fraud, the instances of fraud are hard to nail down — the Wall Street Journal reported that there have been about 2,000 cases of fraud since 2000, which is a relatively small piece of the roughly 180 million voters in the U.S. 
But a plan to prevent 2,000 cases over the course of a dozen years is overkill if it means making it harder for up to 34 million people to vote in each and every election.
Massachusetts wasn’t directly affected by the Voters Rights Act decision, but some local Republican lawmakers have proposed a form of photo/voter ID requirements to cover our elections, plus a prove-you’re a citizen litmus test before you can vote.
Now, the state is coming off years of special elections, and local media is fond of writing about “election fatigue” and the record-low turnout during a special election for a U.S. Senate race here last month. 
Anything that makes voting more inconvenient sounds like a terrible, terrible idea. And while chances of the Republicans’ own ID and citizenship bills passing here are nil right now, it’s worth pointing out most Americans support these requirements, and many states have — or are considering — similar laws.

    For the Brookline TAB this week: When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last month, our world became a little more fair for more people.

    Too bad it followed the court’s decision to undercut the Voters Rights Act, one of the most important laws that even acknowledges fairness should be a goal in America.

    It’s really worth understanding what the Supreme Court did with the Voters Rights Act; the short, overly-simplified version is that the Act no longer prohibits states with histories of racial bias in elections from making sweeping changes to their voting laws, such as requiring proof of citizenship and photo IDs before voting, among other things.

    NYU’s Brennen Center reports on the problems created by things like photo/voter IDs: About 21 million voters don’t have a photo ID, nor can every voter afford one. And something like 13 million legal voters lack the paperwork needed to prove they’re citizens to get a photo ID, according to the organization.

    And while the intended goal is to prevent voter fraud, the instances of fraud are hard to nail down — the Wall Street Journal reported that there have been about 2,000 cases of fraud since 2000, which is a relatively small piece of the roughly 180 million voters in the U.S.

    But a plan to prevent 2,000 cases over the course of a dozen years is overkill if it means making it harder for up to 34 million people to vote in each and every election.

    Massachusetts wasn’t directly affected by the Voters Rights Act decision, but some local Republican lawmakers have proposed a form of photo/voter ID requirements to cover our elections, plus a prove-you’re a citizen litmus test before you can vote.

    Now, the state is coming off years of special elections, and local media is fond of writing about “election fatigue” and the record-low turnout during a special election for a U.S. Senate race here last month.

    Anything that makes voting more inconvenient sounds like a terrible, terrible idea. And while chances of the Republicans’ own ID and citizenship bills passing here are nil right now, it’s worth pointing out most Americans support these requirements, and many states have — or are considering — similar laws.

  8. Over at the Brookline TAB, the town is reportedly dealing with a slew of unpopular options to expand the number of classrooms in the school system, as officials anticipate a significant increase in enrollments within the school department. 

    Over at the Brookline TAB, the town is reportedly dealing with a slew of unpopular options to expand the number of classrooms in the school system, as officials anticipate a significant increase in enrollments within the school department. 

  9. For this week’s Brookline TAB, a helpful guide for the bigot in your life. 
FYI - The Coolidge Corner Theatre is this place, and Brookline doesn’t like leafblowers because they’re loud. The scenario in the comic would possibly be the worst form of local evil in Brookline. 

    For this week’s Brookline TAB, a helpful guide for the bigot in your life. 

    FYI - The Coolidge Corner Theatre is this place, and Brookline doesn’t like leafblowers because they’re loud. The scenario in the comic would possibly be the worst form of local evil in Brookline. 

  10. The Brookline TAB reports that Brookline is considering leaving its surveillance camera system on all the time as a security measure, expanding on an existing — but limited — camera operation in place for the past several years.
In an editorial, the paper notes that while serious crimes have been solved by the existence of the cameras, it’s unclear whether crimes have been prevented because of the surveillance system. A public meeting is scheduled for Monday to discuss the camera system, although the decision to make any changes falls to the town’s Board of Selectmen. Stay tuned.

    The Brookline TAB reports that Brookline is considering leaving its surveillance camera system on all the time as a security measure, expanding on an existing — but limited — camera operation in place for the past several years.

    In an editorial, the paper notes that while serious crimes have been solved by the existence of the cameras, it’s unclear whether crimes have been prevented because of the surveillance system. A public meeting is scheduled for Monday to discuss the camera system, although the decision to make any changes falls to the town’s Board of Selectmen. Stay tuned.