Thursday, March 30, 2023

WonderCon 2023 1of 3 -- Stuart Ng Books booth 1509 (updated 4.5.23)


SNB at booth 1509 on the exhibition hall floor...

These Mobeius posters were popular items at the Stuart Ng Books booth...

You can find more about these posters on the SNB Website:

The many books on the shelves...

Can't get to a con? You'll find even more treasures at the Store in Torrance, 

and the website.

WonderCon 2023 2 of 3 -- artist alley, small press (updated 4.4.23)

 This is a post in progress -- UPDATED 4.4.23

I was able to visit with some artist and exhibitor friends. I'll be adding more info soon..

It's always fun to catch up with artist Alina Chau --

Here are more photos of her table that she shared on her Facebook page.

Cover of the WonderCon 2023 program
About the cover art and artist Minjue Helen Chen

sample interior page with some of the artist guests of the con

It's been a pleasure following the career of indie artist Jeff Victor.
Seeing artists in person and catching up was a real treat for me at thie convention...

Regret I forgot to snap a picture of one of my favorite Small Press tables... Boston Metaphysical Society and author Madeleine Holly-Rosing. Check out her new website:
Buy your own Plague Doctor Lapel pin here:
And look at this beautiful cover art...

Also regret no pics of Wannabe Press... and author/pubisher Russell Nohelty.
Love the concept of this comic I picked up from his tablemate Jessica Maison..

Monday, March 20, 2023

WonderCon 2023 3 of 3 (Updated 4.5.23)

WonderCon 2023 was March 24-26th in Anaheim, Ca. (UPDATE -- more pics of the ext and interior of the convention center and exhibition hall)

Cover art for the program this year is by Mingjue Helen Chen, a longtime friend of SNB

Stuart Ng Books will return to the usual booth spot -- #1509. Guest artists include another longtime SNB artist colleague, Adam Hughes, making his first WonderCon appearance.

Here's a map of the exhibition hall floor and other details from Stuart's recent online newsletter.

Some views of the SNB Booth...

an entire booth of Disney character pins..
Sci fi fans loved this costume vendor...

Lobby of the convention center..

Sign up for the SNB newsletter here.

Stuart writes the newsletter himself every week. 

More on WonderCon 2023:

Dance choreography for anatomy reference (action poses; foreshortened limbs) updated 3.21.23

There are extraordinary dancers who post videos on You Tube. Start your own collection of these videos to freeze frame for anatomy reference, especially for action poses, twists and turns, foreshortened limbs etc. 

Kaycee Rice and Sean Lew. These young So Cal dancers have exceptional control over their bodies, extreme flexibility, and crisp execucution of complicated moves.

They excel at the demanding and modern choreography by Zoi Tatopoulos (

This clip features dancer  Ildar Young-Gaynutdinov ( and choreography by Tatopoulos

More Kaycee and Sean. Also dancer Charlize Glass.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Caregiving -- the crushing costs and limited options of assisted living, from Washington Post 3.18.23 (updated 4.23)

Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready.” Wash Post 3.18.23

I've copied this entire article from our online subscription to the Washtington Post, as well as the link below, to make this important info accessible. 

Read it and get ready. You never know when you may be called on to help family or friends with long term care needs due to injury, illness or aging. You could be next yourself due to an accident. (art by Kate Allan, aka "The Latest Kate")

It's impossible to plan for every scenario, but get educated now. Get your estate plan in order! If you own anything of value -- bank accounts; cars; collections -- get it documented, organized, and ready to seemlessly be assumed by your designated beneficiaryor trustee. Have these hard conversations today. Prior to need. It will be easier for everyone. Be proactive so no one will be burdened tomorrow. Your future comfort and safety depends on plans you make with your family. 

For more of my top tips for caregivers, see this post:

Here's the Post article: "An estimated 18 million middle-income baby boomers will not have enough to pay for care for moderate to severe needs, according to one analysis."

By Christopher Rowland

Beth Roper had already sold her husband Doug’s boat and his pickup truck. Her daughter sends $500 a month or more. But it was nowhere near enough to pay the $5,950-a-month bill at Doug’s assisted-living facility. So last year, Roper, 65, abandoned her own plans to retire.

To the public school librarian from Poquoson, Va., it feels like a betrayal of a social contract. Doug Roper, a longtime high school history teacher and wrestling coach, has a pension and Social Security. The Ropers own a home; they have savings. Yet the expense of Doug’s residential Alzheimer’s care poses a grave threat to their middle-class nest egg. At nearly $72,000, a year in assisted living for Doug, 67, costs more than her $64,000 annual salary.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “You can’t wrap your head around it.”

A wave of Americans has been reaching retirement age largely unprepared for the extraordinary costs of specialized care. These aging baby boomers — 73 million strong, the oldest of whom turn 77 this year — pose an unprecedented challenge to the U.S. economy, as individual families shoulder an increasingly ruinous financial burden with little help from stalemated policymakers in Washington.

The dilemma is particularly vexing for those in the economic middle. They can’t afford the high costs of care on their own, yet their resources are too high for them to qualify for federal safety-net insurance. An estimated 18 million middle-income boomers will require care for moderate to severe needs but be unable to pay for it, according to an analysis of the gap by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

“It’s this really enormous financial bomb sitting out there that most people are just hoping won’t hit them,” said Marc A. Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. “There’s an incredible amount of confusion and denial.”

It’s no surprise that people put off decisions about how to get by during the final years and decades of life; it’s unpleasant to consider, and in the United States, there are few good options. Home care aides are in short supply. Nursing homes are seen as overly institutional and cater to the most disabled.

Assisted-living facilities, the fastest-growing category of elderly care, provide an independent, homelike environment for seniors who need some help with day-to-day functions. Chandeliers, comfy sofas, wood paneling and plush carpets are standard in common areas. You can get your own apartment with your own bathroom. But it starts at $60,000 a year on average, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) — and costs go up as residents age and need more care. Locked units for dementia patients, which increasingly are being established within assisted-living facilities or as stand-alone facilities, run more than $80,000 a year on average.

Long-term care costs represent “the single largest financial risk” facing seniors and their families, the National Council on Aging and UMass Boston researchers said in a 2020 report.

“It has to be addressed because ultimately it will be a societal crisis. These are the schoolteachers and the firefighters, the working people who take care of all of us, who cannot afford the [senior housing] that is being built out there right now,” said Beth Mace, chief economist for NIC.

Polls show the vast majority of people would prefer aging in place, in their own home. But median costs for 40 hours a week of assistance from a care aide in the home, for things like bathing, dressing, eating and toileting, run over $56,000 a year. A shortage of home care aides, moreover, was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Seniors are stuck home alone as health aides flee for higher-paying jobs.

Nursing homes provide the most intensive care for the most dependent seniors and function like medical facilities, averaging $120,000 a year unless you qualify for Medicaid, the federal insurance program for the poor and elderly. Medicaid will kick in only once an elderly person’s resources are drained away.

Nursing homes are viewed as a destination of last resort. More than 70 percent of older Americans say they are unwilling to live in one, according to a 2021 poll by the John A. Hartford Foundation, which advocates and funds research about age-related issues.

Families often rush to shop among these care options when a health or safety crisis strikes. They take out loans, liquidate real estate and ask family members to chip in for costs. They turn to public internet fundraising sites like GoFundMe for help.

But because of the daunting expenses, many simply allow elderly people with dementia and other infirmities to remain in precarious conditions at home, possibly alone or cared for by an aging spouse, extended family, and neighbors or volunteers. Adult children sometimes upend their own lives to care for an aging relative.

“There are people who are in cruise ships and yachts, and there are people who can barely afford to have a life preserver,” said Lin Chojnicki, who toured several assisted-living facilities for her mother near their homes in Enfield, Conn.

The buildings she saw were inviting and seemed safe, she said, but they were unaffordable at over $4,000 a week for base rent and much more for people with dementia. So her mother continues to live alone in her own home, getting by with daily drop-in visits from family.

Advocates are calling on assisted-living developers to build more-affordable options.

“It seems like a failure of industry because you’ve got money on the table and you have people who could afford monthly rents and the industry is not meeting that need,” said Caroline Pearson, the lead author of a landmark 2019 demographic study called “The Forgotten Middle,” warning that millions won’t be able to afford long-term care in old age.

“It is disturbing that the only option is to completely spend down and impoverish yourself,” said Pearson, who is now executive director of the Peterson Center on Healthcare.

Assisted living too often fails older, sicker residents, report says

Growth in assisted-living facilities has been fueled by real estate investment trusts, which are focused on generating stable, recession-resistant returns from their properties, say experts. That means attracting wealthy clients with greater luxury and amenities.

In 2020, according to federal estimates, there were 818,000 people living in assisted-living and residential units for dementia patients, compared to around 1.2 million in nursing homes. The number of assisted-living facilities grew 24 percent from 2015 through 2022 in 99 U.S. metro areas analyzed by NIC, while the number of nursing homes declined 2.8 percent.

The assisted-living industry’s major Washington trade group, the National Center for Assisted Living, said in an emailed statement that it recognizes affordability is a problem. It said government must have a role in creating better options.

About 17 percent of people living in assisted-living facilities in 2020 were supported by Medicaid insurance, compared with around 75 percent in nursing homes, according to federal data. A persistent concern of the industry is that Medicaid reimbursement does not fully cover the costs of care.

“Even before the pandemic, the long-term care system in this country was broken. It’s too expensive for most people, yet it needs further investment to ensure front-line caregivers receive a competitive wage and facilities continue to modernize,” said LaShuan Bethea, NCAL’s executive director.

“You’re combining housing and health care, and most Americans haven’t thought about or can’t afford to plan for this expense,” she said.

Advocates for the elderly say a solution would be to build insurance programs that will pay for all long-term care and spread the financial burdens over everyone. Germany, Japan and South Korea have government-sponsored long-term care insurance. Congress authorized a long-term care insurance program as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but after 19 months of study, the Obama administration dropped it, calling it unworkable.

Washington state this year is launching a long-term care insurance program, financed by a mandatory employee payroll tax of 0.58 percent, that will provide families $100 a day toward long-term care with a lifetime cap of $36,500. Proponents are working on building support for similar programs in California and Michigan.

Absent any comprehensive insurance, interviews show, family members are left with the burdens of high costs.

One danger is the escalating care fees — as medical need grows — that create a trap for people who think they can afford assisted living over the long haul, said Sherri Lewis, an HIV activist and former pop singer in Los Angeles who placed her mother in a high-end assisted-living facility in Beverly Hills. Lewis’s mother, 93, had a long-term care insurance policy that paid $4,000 a month for life, plus another $3,000 a month in Social Security and other spousal benefits. That covered her mother’s care until her needs grew and the monthly bill rose to $10,000. The facility asked her mother to leave last year and she’s now in a nursing home, Lewis said.

Lewis turned to internet fundraising in a bid for financial help from her network of friends. She said she was considering giving up her mother’s long-term care insurance policy in a desperate bid to qualify for Medicaid.

“Now we’re really in this horrible money pit,” she said. “I’m burned out. I’m at the end of my rope.”

Another Los Angeles resident, Marsha Stevenson, a graphic designer who works from home, lives with and cares for her mother in an apartment. Stevenson got married in June 2020 and still has been unable to move in with her husband. She has taken a pass on career promotions because of the demands of caregiving.

“In the time I’ve been more consistently caregiving in the last 3 years, I’ve gained 20 pounds and have more cardiovascular issues,” said Stevenson, 53, in an email. “Even aside from the pandemic, I no longer can easily get out to see friends or attend events and am often too tired even if I could.”

In Topeka, Kan., Hugh Fitzpatrick, a 70-year-old retired musician with Alzheimer’s, spent the last two years living in his son Bryan Fitzpatrick’s basement, burning through the remnants of $88,000 he received in proceeds from the sale of his house in Houston. Much of the money was spent on a $175-a-day adult day care program. Once the house money was gone, that enabled Fitzpatrick to qualify for Kansas Medicaid, said his brother, Chuck Fitzpatrick.

He moved into a “memory care” unit, as the dementia-care facilities are called, that costs $5,440 a month, Chuck Fitzpatrick said. Medicaid will contribute $4,415 monthly toward the cost and Hugh’s Social Security payment of $1,025 will be applied.

How much Beth Roper’s financial woes will grow depends on unknowns, including how long her husband, Doug, survives and what happens to her own health over the next two decades. In addition to postponing retirement, she abandoned plans to pay for her daughter Kathryn’s wedding.

Doug Roper, who was a history teacher and wrestling coach at Tabb High School in York County, Va., began showing signs of forgetfulness that seemed to accelerate in 2018, the same year he retired, Beth Roper said. By 2022, he could no longer drive and it became clear he needed professional help.

“He got to the point where he was confusing the key fob with the garage door opener trying to unlock the car with the garage door opener,” Beth said. He began ripping up his own clothes. She realized she could no longer trust him on his daily walks, after he started trying to open the doors of random cars around the neighborhood.

Beth scrambled over the summer to find ways to care for Doug. She started to apply for adult day care openings, but the application process was taking too long. Home-care agencies seemed too costly and would still leave her with the heavy burden of caring for Doug overnight. She never seriously considered nursing homes, she said, because Doug was fairly healthy except for his cognitive decline.

She found a suitable room in assisted living for $3,500 a month, but after just four days there the facility management told her he was a wandering risk and needed to be placed in a costlier, locked memory care unit, Beth said. Even there, he recently fell and suffered cuts and bruises on his head and face. Now Beth worries about when she can retire and what, if anything, will be left for her own long-term care.

You can’t plan for the future. Not to be morbid, but we don’t know how long Doug will live,” she said.

She’s baffled there is no safety net for families in her situation. The Ropers saved for college, they paid off their house, they tithed at church, and they paid thousands of dollars in taxes for more than 70 years of combined work.

“We did everything our country asked us to do,” she said.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Glaze -- protective tech against unethical AI/ML models -- from Univ of Chicago (updated 3.20.23)

Artists are educating fans and the public, and resisting unauthorized use of their copyright protected artWORK. 

Artist Karla Ortiz started in blog in late 2022. It documents her journey on the vanguard of raising awareness about AI art impact on artists:

The Concept Art Association Go Fund Me "Protecting Artists from AI Technologies" has worldwide support. You can read more about it here:

and the Concept Art Association website:

Some older blog posts about why artWORK is not free:


UPDATE 3.20.23

University of Chicago professor Ben Zhao featured in this 3.17.23 link from TechCrunch

“What we do is we try to understand how the AI model perceives its own version of what artistic style is. And then we basically work in that dimension — to distort what the model sees as a particular style. So it’s not so much that there’s a hidden message or blocking of anything… It is, basically, learning how to speak the language of the machine learning model, and using its own language — distorting what it sees of the art images in such a way that it actually has a minimal impact on how humans see. And it turns out because these two worlds are so different, we can actually achieve both significant distortion in the machine learning perspective, with minimal distortion in the visual perspective that we have as humans,” (Zhao) tells us.

“This comes from a fundamental gap between how AI perceives the world and how we perceive the world. This fundamental gap has been known for ages. It is not something that is new. It is not something that can be easily removed or avoided. It’s the reason that we have a task called ‘adversarial examples’ against machine learning. And people have been trying to fix that — defend against these things — for close to 10 years now, with very limited success,” he adds. “This gap between how we see the world and how AI model sees the world, using mathematical representation, seems to be fundamental and unavoidable… What we’re actually doing — in pure technical terms — is an attack, not a defence. But we’re using it as a defence.”

Another salient consideration here is the asymmetry of power between individual human creators (artists, in this case), who are often producing art to make a living, and the commercial actors behind generative AI models — entities which have pulled in vast sums of venture capital and other investment (as well as sucking up massive amounts of other people’s data) with the aim of building machines to automate (read: replace) human creativity. And, in the case of generative AI art, the technology stands accused of threatening artists’ livelihoods by automating the mimicry of artistic style."


Karla Ortiz debuted her "Musa Victoriosa" art -- and imporant news about Glaze -- on her Facebook page on March 15th:

"Today I am happy to announce what could be the most important oil painting I’ve made:

Musa Victoriosa

This is the first painting released to the world that utilizes Glaze, a protective tech against unethical AI/ML models, developed by the The University of Chicago team led by Professor Ben Zhao.

The app is out NOW and you can download it here:

This painting is a love letter to the efforts of this incredible research team and to the amazing artist community. This transformational tech takes the first of many steps, to help us reclaim our agency on the web, by making our work not be so easily exploited.

So how does Glaze work?

Professor Zhao describes:

“Glaze analyzes your art, and generates a modified version (with barely visible changes). This "cloaked" image disrupts AI mimicry process.” (Source of tweet:

For a more in-depth description visit here:

Best part about Glaze? It’s free for everyone and the researchers will be working hard to bring even more updates to this badass tool! So my painting can look even closer to the source amongst other features. So share far and wide!

Personally I’ll be shutting down parts of my personal art website for a while, while I add Glaze to the works featured.  I’ll also be integrating Glaze as a final touch for all future works posted online.

The tech is already good now and it’s only going to get better! 🙂

Once again special thanks to the incredible team from The University of Chicago: Shawn Shan, Jenna Cryan, Emily Wenger, Heather Zheng, Rana Hanocka and Professor Ben Zhao.

Your work gives me all the hope! I truly believe your efforts will become the beacon of many and truly change our wild world for the better!

A HUGE thank you to Lynds Gallant for making the ui/ux not only look great but easy to use!

Thank you to Nathan Fowkes Art for also helping develop this and to all artists who took the survey!

Thanks to all the press including Kashmir Hill for covering this incredible tool too!

And lastly a special shout out to my brushes, my oils, my wacom and my old version of Photoshop (did final touches there). Actual artists tools that don’t rely on ill gotten data and exploitation to work just fine. 😉


Here's more info on Glaze from the links shared in Karla's post above.

Download Glaze (Beta)

"First, thank you for your patience. We've been busy working on packaging Glaze into the most intuitive and usable app for artists. Please note that by downloading Glaze, you are acknowledging and agreeing with our software license.

After the initial download, the app will download additional ML libraries and resources that will require stable Internet access and approx. 4GB of storage.

Before using Glaze, be sure to read the User's guide and FAQ, which includes step by step instructions on glazing your art and answers to common questions you might have.

Please note that this is clearly an early release. Please be patient if you run into issues. While we are not software engineers, we will do our best to improve Glaze with your feedback. You can submit both comments and suggestions as well as bug reports.

OS-specific notes.

For Windows users, we are in the process of "registering" the Glaze app with Windows. Getting these signature keys is taking longer than we expected, so Glaze.exe is currently signed with a non-EV key. And you will likely get a warning when you install Glaze for the first time. This should go away as more users download Glaze and the our developer key gets a higher reputation as a result with Microsoft.

For Mac Intel users, the app is currently limited to machines running MacOS 13 and higher. We will look into supporting older MacOS versions, but did not want it to delay the Glaze release."

 and this...

Glaze Software User Guide

"Welcome to Glaze! This user guide will walk you through the steps to protect your artwork with Glaze. This is a living document, and we will continuously add content to the guide as we hear back from artists and their experiences.

First, if you haven’t already, please read more about Glaze and its risks and limitations before using the tool on your artwork. Second, this is an early release. Please be patient as we fix issues and improve the tool over time. If you run into issues, you can file a bug report. 

Step by Step Guide

The first time you install Glaze, it will need to download a number of machine learning libraries and pretrained models. This might take some time, particularly if you are outside the USA. Note that these are one time downloads, and do not need to be fetched again if you update the Glaze app. Once Glaze is fully installed, follow these instructions below:

Please run Glaze as the last step before you post your artwork online. If you do any image resizing, format conversion, or watermarking, please do so before you run Glaze. This will maximize the protection effect.

Step 1: Select your artwork. You can input a single image by dragging it into the image placeholder or selecting multiple images using the "Select..." button.

Step 2: Select Glaze parameters.

Intensity: Specify the intensity of "the style cloak" applied to your artwork. Higher intensity leads to stronger protection, but also generally correlates with more visible changes to your artwork. The more Glaze changes your artwork with perturbations, the harder it will be for AI models to recognize your original artistic style, making it that much harder to mimic. We recommend the "Low" level intensity or higher. You can also be creative with the intensity level. For example, you can use different intensities for different distribution channels or higher intensities for less important (e.g. older) artwork.

Render quality: This represents the compute time spent searching for the optimal style cloak given your intensity level. Longer render quality leads to better performance but longer compute time. The highest render quality takes around 60 mins per image on a personal laptop. This will highly depend on the specs of your laptop. GPUs are not required but if present, they will greatly reduce the processing time 

Step 3: Preview or Run. Once you upload the image(s) and select your desired settings, you can "Preview" the Glazed result. Preview allows you to see the estimated final image(s) with the Glaze changes, so you can make adjustments to the Intensity level if needed, before rendering the final image(s). Note that the preview result might not be representative of the final result. Once you are satisfied with the Intensity level, you can click Run, which will Glaze the image(s). The resulting image(s) will be saved in your "output directory" with the same file name.

Note: Glaze protection varies with different styles of art. Some artistic styles (e.g., character design, animated art), are more vulnerable to protection removal due to the “smoother surfaces” of the style. As a result, we encourage you to use an Intensity level of "Low" or higher. After the image is modified, Glaze checks the effectiveness of the result, and warns you if it fails to offer enough protection.

Issues and feedback: Please fill out our feedback form to let us know about your experience using Glaze. Please fill out our bug report with any issues.


Glaze said it encountered errors on my images, how should I fix it? You can check the details of the errors in error.txt in your output folder. The most common error is Glaze fails to offer strong enough protection to some of your artwork. When this happens, you can try to re-run Glaze on those artwork. If the error persists, you should consider increasing the Intensity level and/or render quality before re-run Glaze on those artwork. As we discussed above, some type of artwork will be harder to protect than others.

Why does the same intensity level look different across art pieces? The same intensity level (pixel change magnitude) may have different noticeability on different types of artwork. For example, the change is more noticeable on smooth or darker surfaces.

How do I know the protection is sufficient/effective?  It is challenging to estimate the success of the protection because it would require someone to build a customized AI model mimicking your artwork. We currently do not plan to release such an evaluation tool given that it can easily be misused for malicious purposes.

How much computer resources is Glaze using? Glaze uses around 5 Gb of memory and a substantial amount of CPU computing. We are working on reducing these numbers.

What should I do if Glaze warns insufficient computer memory? If you computer has less than 9Gb of memory, you can still run Glaze but it may take a much longer time to render. You can speed it up by closing any other applications that use a lot of memory. If your computer has less than 5Gb of memory, we do not recommend you to run Glaze currently. We are working on reducing Glaze's memory usage.

Does Glaze generate the same result each time given the same original art? No, Glaze will generate slightly different results given the same original art and settings.

Can I glaze my art twice for better security? No, it could actually hurt the protection. Increasing the Intensity level and/or render quality is currently the only way to improve protection strength.

Will Glaze support other operating systems (Linux, iOS, Android)? Currently, we do not plan to support platforms other than Windows and MacOS. You are welcome to install Windows VM on Linux to run Glaze.

Disclosure: you will be downloading some of the resources from HuggingFace (a common platform to host resources) and we use checksums to make sure the files are authentic and have not been tampered with. However, if you would like to download from the University of Chicago server (on a slower connection), you can email us for instructions."