There’s really nothing science-y behind this comic.

It was the combination of an ironing disaster—the fact that I haven’t done it in ages—and a subsequent joke about looking like Klaus Nomi afterwards. This really got me into a Nomi kick all over again. The man was a theatrical genius who defined, if not invented, glam opera.

But mainly, I just wanted to draw his big plastic suit on Oz.

Subject Change: If you’ve been following the post-Osama twitterverse, you have probably seen a bajillion people copypasta this quote by Martin Luther King Jr.

I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

The problem is that only the last few sentences are King’s. The first sentence got accidentally lumped in by magician Penn Jillette. To give the guy credit, he did source the quote, but because half of it was an actual MLK Jr., it seemed to check out. Honest mistake. Nevertheless, people ripped into Penn, suggesting he did it on purpose as some sort of malicious prank. Even Salon was less than kind, though after some dialogue the issue was cleared up.

(If you want to hear about a prank, for years I’ve been telling people across the nation that Arby’s roast beef comes in liquid form. That behind the counter, they ladle it out onto the griddle and it congeals into roast beef slices. Nobody ever called bullshit on this story. )

So I don’t see what the big deal is. Penn made an honest mistake, he corrected himself, and he apologized. Move along. It wouldn’t be the first time somebody misattributed a quote. As John Rennie pointed out in one of the recent NECSS panels, even the New York Times got it wrong when they misattributed a Mark Twain quote in an article about the tendency of people to be overconfident in the things they think they know are true. Ironic, I know. It isn’t a new thing by any stretch, either. Benjamin Franklin has had more quotes attributed to him than he has said words in his lifetime, and I remember encountering this sort of thing during the Napster days, when every punk rock cover song was attributed to New Found Glory, and every parody song was tied to Weird Al. This is just an inevitable consequence of our copy/paste culture, where information is cheap and spreading it is easy.

And when starting a wildfire of misinformation is as easy as hitting enter on twitter, it becomes more important to really be sure you want to hit that key. We all make mistakes, but let this be a lesson in skepticism to fact-check thoroughly, even if you trust the source. Heck, I retweeted Penn. So consider me just as guilty as he.

“The problem with Internet quotations is that many are not genuine.”

– Abraham Lincoln


This post was brought to you by Gold (Au).

Ooh, almost forgot. I’m seeing Tim Minchin in concert today! With any luck, I’ll be able to get a few words in and congratulate him on Storm.