Super Mega Monkey Ultra Extreme III Alright!!!!

He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
-- Deuteronomy 23:1


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    Ethics in Video Games

    I thought this was actually pretty kewl.

    Using data to create moral complexity in video games has become a specialty for Telltale Games, a studio whose titles -- including adaptations of both "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones" -- focus not on battering enemies with weapons, but on asking players to make difficult ethical choices. Their interactive stories are a sandbox of morality, one where we're able to glimpse not just how we might respond in life-or-death scenarios, but also how we stack up against everyone else. Are we braver? Less loyal? More pragmatic? And how do we feel when our moral decisions are measured by the yardstick of our peers?
    That sort of moral complexity is exactly what prompted Tobias Staaby, a high school teacher in Norway, to integrate the "Walking Dead" video game into the curriculum for his ethics class. Before each significant decision, he discusses various ethical frameworks with his students -- including relational ethics, consequential ethics, and ethics of duty or virtue -- and asks them to debate each choice before voting as a class on which way to go.

    "Depending on what kind of ethics you base your arguments on, there are no evil decisions in 'The Walking Dead,'" says Staaby. "Rather, are you making decisions [to create] the best consequences or making sure that the action itself is a good deed?"


    In his classes, Staaby observed a tendency for students in the same session to lean in a similar ethical direction over the course of the game as they debated and observed the opinions of their peers. "There's a culture that solidifies during gameplay," says Staaby. "The voices that are the loudest or most outspoken are often the voices that most students lean towards."

    Dr. Praveen R. Kambam, a psychiatrist who consults with the media analysis group Broadcast Thought, says this tendency to be influenced by social feedback is what's known as a conformity bias. "In other words, [people] tend to look to the actions of others in deciding how they should behave," said Kambam. "This bias is stronger when faced with questions that do not have absolute answers, like moral questions."

    The layered nature of identity in video games can complicate matters as well, since players make different decisions depending on whether or not they're role-playing the characters they inhabit. This gets particularly complicated in the second season of "The Walking Dead," where you play as an 11-year-old girl named Clementine. When you're faced with horrifying situations, will you make the decisions that you would make, or the ones you think she would make?

    (I confess i keep reading the teacher's name as "Stabby" and then mentally giggling a little.)

    I think it's interesting that Telltale games are trying to make people see beyond the usual "I need to blow all this stuff up so that i can get to the boss" strategy of gaming. The comparison between your decisions and those made by other players after every chapter must help keep it on the players' minds, too. I know that when we play D&D, it's sometimes too easy to forget that hacking through a bunch of opponents just to get through the dungeon isn't always the best solution nor the one you should be making if you are truly role-playing your character. It's certainly easy to forget when you have party members with different moral compasses. These are your companions. You guys fight trolls together. Ofc you want to support their decisions. But wait - you just condoned a cold-blooded killing of an unarmed opponent who posed no threat. And you're supposed to be playing a lawful good character! So, yeah, conformity bias.

    Now, how do i play these games without actually playing them, because, as we all know, i get nauseous sometimes playing 2-D scrolling games. And it's only been two years since i've been able to just sit in the same room as fnord while he was playing a first-person shooter without getting a splitting headache.

    Actually, you know what? I take it back. I don't want to play these sorts of games because i'd constantly be worried that i made the "wrong" choice. I've been conditioned to expect questions to have "right" and "wrong" answers and my brain would prolly explode if i tried to make it understand there was no such thing in this case. I'd end up anxious and whiny and nobody wants to see that.

    By min | March 31, 2015, 8:17 AM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link

    It's all Michael Douglas Ever Wanted

    McDonald's is considering letting its customers start their day whenever they want, bringing in an all-day breakfast in an attempt to juice up falling sales.


    By min | March 30, 2015, 1:03 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | Link

    Time to Get Squatting

    Update: Fnord tells me that weight lifting is considered "muscle-strengthening" and not "weight-bearing" and that what i'd actually have to do is jump and run. It's entirely possible that i responded with something highly uncomplimentary.

    The Toast has an article up on bone health. Before we get into that, can i just point out that the author has a PhD in "bioarchaeology". It's like she went to a school that just said "What do you like doing? We'll create a degree for that thing." I either went to a shit university or i didn't take advantage of the opportunities at my school to make up a goddamned major that i might have actually enjoyed. I am so bitter.

    Anyhoo, back to bone health.

    There are two types of cell responsible for bone maintenance - osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts build bone, and osteoclasts take it away. The body is highly responsive to changes in activity, and bone is constantly updating itself accordingly. The general principle is that your body thinks what's happening now will happen forever. In response to more activity (known as physical stress), bone will accumulate more osteoblasts to strengthen itself. Each step makes tiny microfractures, which tells the bone "Come on, I'm breakin' here! Give me more strength!" and the osteoblasts pile on. In the absence of activity - during periods of prolonged sitting or lying down - the osteoclasts come in to take away unnecessary bone. Generally it gets sent out of the body in your urine. The basic principle is that the more activity you do, the stronger your bones will be.
    I will now tell you the Secret Tricks to Maintaining Bone Density Doctors Don't Want You to Know: you had to build it in puberty, and you have to keep exercising to maintain it. As far as my research has shown, you can keep building bone and increasing bone density up until your 20s. After that, you can maintain or decrease your bone density. It's quite easy to decrease bone: just do nothing. To maintain it, you need weight-bearing exercise. Osteoblasts respond to microfractures, so the way to keep those osteoblasts occupied is by running, jumping, bouncing on your bosu, Zumba, those crazy-intense boot-camp push-ups. Things that (sadly) will not work: cycling, swimming, yoga. Not that those aren't healthy activities! They are still excellent for the heart, for weight maintenance, for stress. But they do nothing for your bones.

    The bad news (for me, obliviously. i don't know what you do): i hate running, jumping, and push-ups. I'm also a HUGE fan of doing nothing.

    The good news: i don't hate weight lifting (except split squats. split squats are the devil, i tell you. The. Devil.).

    What about supplements, you say. Well, like most vitamin supplements,

    There are a number of recommendations around the web, including eating eggshells, leaping like fleas, consuming 1200 milligrams of calcium daily, and taking various supplements. The problem with taking supplements is that if you aren't actively processing the calcium, you'll just pee it out.

    Stupid expensive pee.

    At this point, fnord and i can only work on maintaining the bone density we have. There's no way to increase it. That ship has sailed, my friend. [emphasis mine]

    The best time to build bone is right around puberty, during the adolescent growth spurt. Yes, the time when you might get your period any moment and you smell terrible and your limbs are flying around all uncoordinated - this is when you needed to be doing the most exercise. (But watch out! Too much exercise, especially combined with eating disorders - I'm looking at you, ballet and gymnastics - and your periods stop and your bones get weaker.) Bones continue to grow with less velocity until the early 20s, stopping slightly earlier in women than men, and generally have completed their growth (in both length and density) by age 25. Sorry, over-25s: it's all downhill from here.

    I guess now's the time to thank my mom for forcing me to take ballet for 9 years. Take that, osteoporosis!

    By min | March 28, 2015, 12:36 PM | Science | Comments (2) | Link

    Super Terrible Kindle Covers

    I can't...*gasp*...stop...*wheeze*...laughing...OMG! He's a horse! And a MAN! *SNORT*

    The Tumblr Kindle Cover Disasters is exactly what its name suggests: one hilarious, mystifying self-designed e-book cover after another. The covers run the gamut from catastrophic use of MS Paint to Frankenstein-like Photoshop jobs to morbid intrigue: What could possibly happen in Hide and Seek to merit that font?

    Today might be the greatest day ever.

    By min | March 27, 2015, 1:19 PM | Boooooks & Ummm... Other? | Comments (5) | Link

    Never Forget to Take Your Fiber Supplements

    Or microbes will eat out your stomach lining. Or something like that.

    Fiber has long been linked to better health, but new research shows how the gut microbiota might play a role in this pattern. One investigation discovered that adding more fiber to the diet can trigger a shift from a microbial profile linked to obesity to one correlated with a leaner physique. Another recent study shows that when microbes are starved of fiber, they can start to feed on the protective mucus lining of the gut, possibly triggering inflammation and disease.
    As gut microbes are starved of fermentable fiber, some do die off. Others, however, are able to switch to another food source in the gut: the mucus lining that helps keep the gut wall intact and free from infection.

    In a recent study presented at the Keystone meeting, Eric Martens of the University of Michigan Medical School, postdoctoral researcher Mahesh Desai and their colleagues found that this fuel switch had striking consequences in rodents. A group of mice fed a high-fiber diet had healthy gut lining, but for mice on a fiber-free diet, "the mucus layer becomes dramatically diminished," he explained at the meeting. This shift might sometimes have severe health consequences. Research by a Swedish team, published last year in the journal Gut, showed a link between bacteria penetrating the mucus layer and ulcerative colitis, a painful chronic bowel disease.

    A third group of mice received high-fiber chow and fiber-free chow on alternating days--"like what we would do if we were being bad and eating McDonald's one day and eating our whole grains the next," Martens joked. Even the part-time high-fiber diet was not enough to keep guts healthy: these mice had a mucus layer about half the thickness of mice on the consistently high-fiber diet. If we can extend these results to humans, he said, it "tells us that even eating your whole fiber foods every other day is still not enough to protect you. You need to eat a high-fiber diet every day to keep a healthy gut." Along the same lines, Swanson's group found that the gut microbiomes of his adult subjects reverted back to initial profiles as soon as the high-fiber bars were discontinued.

    I guess pandas never suffer from ulcerative colitis, what with all that bamboo they can't actually digest. *shakes fist* Pandas!!

    By min | March 27, 2015, 1:09 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    Marvel Sales

    January. New writer with a slightly different approach to the analysis.

    By fnord12 | March 27, 2015, 12:25 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Recap 65

    Did You Notice All Those Albino Alligators Were Left-Handed?

    By min | March 26, 2015, 9:52 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

    That's you, bro

    I love when Windows Update demands a reboot (always at the most opportune time) and i begrudgingly tell it to go ahead, and then it complains that Windows Update needs to shut down before i can reboot. Like, seriously, dude? Should i really be trusting you to update my computer?

    By fnord12 | March 26, 2015, 9:43 AM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link

    Who Doesn't Like a Little Measles with Their Ebola?

    Keeps things interesting not knowing which horrible disease will kill everyone you know. Link

    The epidemic that already killed almost 10,000 people in west Africa also upended daily life and scuttled plans to vaccinate thousands of kids against preventable diseases. As a result, an additional 100,000 children may have been left vulnerable to measles, according to new projections. If those inoculation gaps are not addressed, measles could deliver a death toll rivaling the Ebola epidemic itself, warns a new study published today in Science.
    Although one Ebola patient is projected to infect one or two other people, one measles sufferer can infect an estimated 12 to 18 additional people (assuming no one is immune to the disease via vaccination or natural immunity). To make matters worse, unlike Ebola, someone with measles may be contagious without showing symptoms.
    But the Ebola outbreak probably exacerbated the problem by further depressing inoculation rates, according to the new research in Science. With such alarming vaccine gaps a large outbreak could conceivably tear through communities and cause as many as 16,000 deaths, the international research team wrote. Their analysis assumes that the Ebola outbreak festered for about 18 months in total and led to a 75 percent drop in vaccination rates.

    By min | March 25, 2015, 11:03 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    The Surveillance Act That Wouldn't Die

    They didn't get CISPA to pass. Now they're trying again with CISA (Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act).

    Cybersecurity bills aim to facilitate information sharing between companies and the government, but their broad immunity clauses for companies, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers make them secret surveillance bills. CISA marks the fifth time in as many years that Congress has tried to pass "cybersecurity" legislation.
    Aside from its redundancy, the Senate Intelligence bill grants two new authorities to companies. First, the bill authorizes companies to launch countermeasures (now called "defensive measures" in the bill) for a "cybersecurity purpose" against a "cybersecurity threat." "Cybersecurity purpose" is so broadly defined that it means almost anything related to protecting (including physically protecting) an information system, which can be a computer or software. The same goes for a "cybersecurity threat," which includes anything that "may result" in an unauthorized effort to impact the availability of the information system.

    Even with the changed language, it's still unclear what restrictions exist on "defensive measures." Since the definition of "information system" is inclusive of files and software, can a company that has a file stolen from them launch "defensive measures" against the thief's computer? What's worse, the bill may allow such actions as long as they don't cause "substantial" harm. The bill leaves the term "substantial" undefined. If true, the countermeasures "defensive measures" clause could increasingly encourage computer exfiltration attacks on the Internet--a prospect that may appeal to some "active defense" (aka offensive) cybersecurity companies, but does not favor the everyday user.

    Second, the bill adds a new authority for companies to monitor information systems to protect an entity's hardware or software. Here again, the broad definitions could be used in conjunction with the monitoring clause to spy on users engaged in potentially innocuous activity. Once collected, companies can then share the information, which is also called "cyber threat indicators," freely with government agencies like the NSA.

    When i read "defensive measures", i picture the goon squad in Brazil that breaks into your house to arrest you for not filling out the proper forms.

    By min | March 25, 2015, 10:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    Where Are the Women?

    From FiveThirtyEight:

    Movies take place in a weird alternate universe where men outnumber women by more than 2-to-1, and where it's strikingly rare for women to have a real conversation about something other than a man. This imbalance extends to how certain jobs are portrayed in movies, even as bit parts, and reinforces old gender stereotypes.

    I recently started diving into the OpusData database, which tracks film releases, box office performance and -- most interestingly -- screen credits. For instance, you can look up every role since 19951 that was credited as "bartender." There have been 145 such roles with gender data, and about 85 percent of the time the performer playing that bartender was a man.

    I pulled that data for a couple dozen careers, some considered prestigious, others specifically gendered.

    The vast majority of these are supporting roles -- the scientist in the background as the protagonist discovers the deadly disease has mutated, the emergency room nurse holding the respirator as our hero is wheeled into surgery on a gurney, and so on. But they represent Hollywood's background, the fabric you may take for granted but that can strongly influence perceptions about gender. If every engineer on screen is a dude, that sends a message about who can be an an engineer.

    Even in fields with a large gender gap in real life, what we see on-screen is even worse. Yeah, medicine and law skew male, but not as much as in the movies. In 2005, 30 percent of lawyers were women, but in this data set, only 11 percent of lawyers or attorneys were played by women. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 32 percent of doctors were women in September 2014, but on screen, only 10 percent were women.

    This isn't really new. It's a message that Geena Davis has been putting out there for a while now. Here is an interview with her in a recent issue of the Guardian (emphasis mine):

    [The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media] commissioned the largest piece of research ever on gender depictions in media. Spanning a 20-year period, it proved what Davis had feared: in family rated films and children's television, for every one female speaking character there are three males, while female characters make up just 17% of crowd scenes.

    "What are we saying to kids when the female characters are hyper-sexualised, narrowly stereotyped or not even there? The message clearly is girls are not as important as boys, women are not as important as men and they take this all in completely unconsciously.

    "Popular media is constantly hammering home the message that women and girls are second-class citizens. All the efforts that we put in to try and erase it, all the important things that we must do to empower women and girls, are being undermined by this unconscious message that women and girls aren't as valuable as men."

    17%??!! I think we can all agree that women make up more than 17% of the population, so why aren't movies accurately portraying that? We're talking background crowd scenes here. Not major roles. You just need to be a warm body that can move and yet, even in this women are underrepresented.

    By min | March 25, 2015, 10:22 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link

    Double Boiler

    Eight people, three cabbages, five pounds of potatoes. That's a two pot-er. The biggest we have, please.

    By fnord12 | March 22, 2015, 12:20 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link

    Hopefully, you and me could now split some infinitives

    The Grammar Nazi vs. Grammar Libertarian Wars continue.

    By fnord12 | March 20, 2015, 7:55 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    MINOR SPOILERS BELOW, but i'm probably the last person besides Min to be reading this issue in realtime so it'll probably be ok.

    Ms. Marvel #13 - For the last two issues, i was like "Yeah, this is good, BUT...", but for this issue i'm unequivocal. As promised in a previous lettercol, we're seeing a few different threads getting juggled: Kamala adjusting to her Inhumanity, a love interest introduced, and a return to the focus on Kamala's family, which had been a bit lacking as the Inventor story was in full steam. So all of that plus a (local) super-villain fight. The one thing that i do find a little annoying is that it all gets tied back to the Inhumans thread: the super-villain and the love interest both turn out to also be Inhumans. I get that the idea is to show that there can be Inhumans that are bad or otherwise not affiliated with Medusa, but it's a big Marvel universe and i don't want this to turn into an Inhumans franchise book. But that's a minor point. One other thing i found a little weird, and it's really just a confirmation of last issue, is that Kamala is unfamiliar with Loki. I could see her not recognizing Kid Loki as the real Loki, but in this issue she talks about Loki like she's never heard of him, period. And she's supposed to be a huge Avengers fan-nerd. I'm fairly certain that the Avengers' origin, which was instigated by Loki, is public knowledge. Or at least i would have thought that someone like her that has delved deep into Avengers trivia would know about him. Oh well, another minor point. This was a fun issue, and i really, really liked the guest art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Tonally similar to Adrian Alphona but a little more grounded and less stylized. Interestingly, Miyazawa was the alternate artist for Alphona on the early Runaways issues, too. I actually like Miyazawa better and would love to see to see him as the regular artist. But maybe "regular artist" isn't an applicable concept at this point; the lettercol this issue says that Alphona will return "with issue 16 in the very special Ms. Marvel Last Days storyline" which i guess leads into Secret Wars and a reboot?

    By fnord12 | March 18, 2015, 7:39 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

    Who funds Riftwar?


    Yet there it was in black and white: "RIFT AMONG PROGRESSIVES EMERGES ON TPP," read a headline in Politico's daily labor and employment tipsheet, Morning Shift. The short item detailed the emergence of the "Progressive Coalition for American Jobs" -- a group of "progressives and Democrats committed to leveling the playing field for American workers," according to the coalition's barebones website. The website adds that "it's critical that we give the president trade promotion authority and establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

    There's something weird about the group, though: No one in the Washington, D.C., progressive community seems to have ever heard of them before

    By fnord12 | March 13, 2015, 7:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    Babies Come Pre-Polluted

    And it's all because your grandparents were exposed to DDT.

    Obesity stems primarily from the overconsumption of food paired with insufficient exercise. But this elementary formula cannot explain how quickly the obesity epidemic has spread globally in the past several decades nor why more than one third of adults in the U.S. are now obese. Many researchers believe that a more complex mix of environmental exposures, lifestyle, genetics and the microbiome's makeup help explain that phenomenon. And a growing body of work suggests that exposure to certain chemicals--found in nature as well as industry--may play an essential role by driving the body to produce and store surplus fat in its tissues. Evidence of that cause-and-effect relationship in humans is still limited, but in laboratory animals and in petri dishes data linking the chemicals to problematic weight gain are mounting. Moreover, the effects in animals appear to be passed on not just to immediate offspring but also grandchildren and great-grandchildren--potentially [emphasis mine] accounting for some multigenerational obesity.
    Scientists already know that humans are exposed to a potent soup of chemicals even before birth. Some of those chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, may shut off, turn on or modify signals that hormones produced by the body would otherwise carry. That disruption appears to short-circuit regulation of energy levels and how the body reacts to stress, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Hundreds of contaminants typically found in consumer products, including dozens of flame retardants, numerous pesticides and endocrine disrupting bisphenol A, have been detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies--which means that "to a disturbing extent, babies are born 'pre-polluted,'" according to the President's Cancer Panel.

    The presence of these chemicals in the womb, in itself, does not mean they will cause any harm. Animal research, however, suggests that many of these substances may cause serious, long-term consequences. For example, tributyltin, an endocrine disruptor found in water pipes and used in plastics, increases fat mass, reprograms stem cells and produces more fat cells in mice across multiple generations, according to a study published in 2013. Meanwhile, when pregnant rats were exposed to pollutants including common plastics, agricultural chemicals and jet fuel, their great-grandchildren were more likely to be obese or have other disorders, according to research from Washington State University biologist Michael Skinner. As Skinner noted in the August Scientific American, "Some part of the increases in obesity, diabetes and other fast-rising diseases among baby boomers and more recent generations might have originated with their parents' and grandparents' exposure to pollutants such as DDT and dioxin." Some of this trend may be due to alterations that occur in sex cell DNA that are then passed on through affected sperm but more studies need to firm up that relationship.

    Researchers need to discover some endocrine un-disruptors so that we can turn on the de-activated gene expressions and pass that on to our offspring.

    By min | March 10, 2015, 1:16 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

    Not traitors

    Seeing the NY Daily News front page regarding the Republicans sending the letter opposing the Obama/Iran nuke treaty gave me flashbacks to 2001-2003 when anyone opposing the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions had their patriotism questioned. So i agree with Glenn Greenwald that we should criticize the GOP on the substance, not for 'undermining' the Commander-in-Chief.

    By fnord12 | March 10, 2015, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

    No context picture of the day

    By fnord12 | March 10, 2015, 10:32 AM | TeeVee & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    Surviving a Zombie Outbreak

    2 problems -

    1) New Jersey has the lowest survival rate
    2) I have absolutely no clue where Glacier National Park is. I've never even heard of it until just now. Damn you, geography! *shakes fist*

    Best places to hide during a zombie apocalypse

    Eric Mack reports at Cnet that a team of researchers at Cornell University, inspired by the book "World War Z" by Max Brooks, have used statistical-mechanics to model how an actual zombie outbreak might unfold and determined the best long-term strategy for surviving the walking dead: Head for the hills. Specifically, you should probably get familiar now with the general location of Glacier National Park so that when it all goes down, you can start heading in that direction. The project started with differential equations to model a fully connected population, then moved on to lattice-based models, and ended with a full US-scale simulation of an outbreak across the continental US. "At their heart, the simulations are akin to modeling chemical reactions taking place between different elements and, in this case, we have four states a person can be in--human," says Alex Alemi, "infected, zombie, or dead zombie--with approximately 300 million people."

    Alemi believes cities would succumb to the zombie scourge quickly, but the infection rate would slow down significantly in more sparsely populated areas and could take months to reach places like the Northern Rockies and Glacier National Park. "Given the dynamics of the disease, once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down--there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate," Alemi says. Once you hit Montana and Idaho, you might as well keep heading farther north into the Canadian Rockies and all the way up to Alaska where data analysis shows you're most likely to survive the zombie apocalypse. The state with the lowest survival rate? -- New Jersey. Unfortunately a full scale simulation of an outbreak in the United States shows that for `realistic' parameters, we are largely doomed.

    I'm also a terrible runner. And have bad eyesight. I think i'm pretty much dead in any apocalypse scenario.

    By min | March 10, 2015, 8:47 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    Ohhhh, it's Labor Day

    We just had Daylight Savings here in America (and the SuperMegaHousehold is not handling the mornings very well, i can tell you). So when i saw on my day calendar that yesterday was Eight Hours Day in Australia, my mind leaped to strange conclusions (maybe due to the sleep deprivation). Like, is that how they handle Daylight Savings in Australia? They just have an eight hour day? That's crazy! How does that work?! But of course it turns out that it's just the day that they celebrate the implementation of the eight hour work day. Much less interesting!

    This is the problem with the internet. You can immediately debunk all your strange and wonderful theories.

    By fnord12 | March 10, 2015, 8:27 AM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link

    Just once!

    I have been pretty vocal about my dislike of our senator, Bob Menendez, especially due to his Straight From 1962 approach to foreign policy. So i guess i'd be happy to see him leave office no matter what the reason. But just once i'd like to see a politician from New Jersey not get wrapped up in serious corruption allegations. Rumors and weirdness have been swirling around Menendez for a while, but now the Feds are bringing charges.

    By fnord12 | March 6, 2015, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

    Marvel Sales


    By fnord12 | March 5, 2015, 11:55 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Daredevil #13 - I can see why Marvel doesn't always announce their cancellations. I'm not dropping this book, but whenever i get an issue my first question is "Oh, is this the last one?" and even if it's not i read it mainly to look for signs of things getting wrapped up. For what it's worth, there aren't any (as far as i can tell), and i should really just relax and enjoy the issue. Which, as usual, is pretty good. Glad to see the continued use the Shroud. As for the attempt at a role-reversal between Daredevil and Kristen McDuffie, i like it in isolation. It was done well, and i'm happy in general for any effort to not treat the female love interests as damsels in distress. But let's face facts: Daredevil is 100% right about what happens to his girlfriends. I don't know what Waid's intentions are with this book, but at some point Kristen is going to end up a suicidal alcoholic porn star junkie with a sai in her chest. Well, i take that back. Maybe Kristen can hold out until Secret Wars, when as far as i'm concerned the Marvel Universe ends, and then she'll be the one that made it.

    By fnord12 | March 4, 2015, 5:39 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Got the bloggers talking, anyway

    Ed Kilgore gives his take on Yglesias' Parliment/Gridlock article, and also summarizes and links to responses from Dylan Matthews, Ross Douthat, and Jonathan Chait.

    By fnord12 | March 4, 2015, 2:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    I see the problem now

    We didn't all pitch in our $2 back in 1995. Of course the Clone Saga had already been running for about a year, but we could have at least kept it from going into 1996.

    And we would have gotten a whole bunch of junk for our trouble, too:

    By fnord12 | March 3, 2015, 1:26 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

    Get ready for 8 more years of nothing

    Apropos of my post below, here's Hilary Clinton's proposal for ending gridlock:

    She spoke at length about bipartisanship and promoted her record of working with Republicans in Arkansas and as a senator from New York. Her objective, should she run for president, would be to end partisan gridlock, she told Ms. Swisher.

    "I'd like to bring people from right, left, red, blue, get them into a nice warm purple space where everybody is talking and where we're actually trying to solve problems," Mrs. Clinton said.

    As Ezra Klein says, and i'd like delicious calorie-free vegan treats to fall out of the sky whenever i get hungry (ok, Klein's fantasy is about a Google Bus but i've got a better imagination). This is basically the same message that Obama ran on, and so did George W. Bush ("I'm a uniter not a divider"), but it's pure fantasy. People either accept that global warming is real or they don't. They think the economy can be fixed with a stimulus or by cutting taxes and regulation. There's no middle ground. And the only reward for a Republican to cross the aisle and work with Clinton is a Tea Party primary challenger.

    By fnord12 | March 3, 2015, 10:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link


    Matthew Yglesias has a pretty alarming essay regarding the eventual state of American politics and basically why we need a parliamentary system.

    By fnord12 | March 2, 2015, 2:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link

    Biodegradable Burial Pods

    You know the story of Baucis and Philemon? Zeus granted their wish that when they died, they would be transformed into a pair of intertwining trees? Now you, too, can have that.

    The Capsula Mundi project by designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel has developed an organic, biodegradable burial capsule that will turn the deceased's body into nutrients for a tree that will grow out of their remains.

    After being encapsulated in the fetal position, the deceased is buried and either a tree or tree seed is planted above their capsule. The project's site already has a number of trees to choose from.

    It's no flaming Viking burial ship, but i guess it's not a bad idea. I mean, we really are just letting all those good nutrients go to waste with our cemeteries and mausoleums.

    By min | February 27, 2015, 8:07 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    How To Avoid Being Cannibalized By Your Mate

    There are two ways that adult male Darwin's bark spiders can avoid being eaten after sex. First, they can mate only with young and inexperienced female spiders who are like really bad at the whole mating thing, or they can subdue the adult female spiders with a bit or [sic] oral pleasuring in order to continue living their lives relatively unharmed.
    [emphasis mine]


    I really have nothing more to add here.

    By min | February 27, 2015, 8:02 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Ms. Marvel #12 - Fun. I thought the mini fight sequence was a little weak, but i loved the Brooklyn Viking Hipster stuff and the truth serum.

    She-Hulk #12 - So the dramatic conclusion of this series is a retcon wiping out the entire history of a character i never heard of? Yay? This really has been a disappointing book, in part because it had a lot of promise. But a lot of the series was wasted - the really bad fill-in art, the weird Captain America trial, and, it turns out, the overarching Blue File plot. Charles Soule says in the end note that with these 12 issues we got "exactly the tale I wanted to tell", so that means it seems he never intended to resolve the mystery of Angie and her monkey. I'm also really unclear on when the flashback sequence was supposed to take place, with Dr. Druid hanging out with Shocker and Vibro. Very odd combination and at best another unexplained mystery. Captain Marvel looks to have her original hairstlye but i guess i can't go by that (and lord knows i shouldn't expect a footnote). Also, i've generally liked Javier Pulido's art but as with last issue's Titania/Volcana fight, the action here is another total fail. So a bust of an issue all around.

    By fnord12 | February 25, 2015, 2:26 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

    Rogue Owls

    This could be the sequel to The Birds.

    A Dutch town has advised residents to arm themselves with an umbrella when going out at night after a mysterious spate of bloody rogue owl attacks.

    Over the last three weeks, the European eagle owl has silently swooped on dozens of people in Purmerend, in the north of the Netherlands, with many victims requiring hospital treatment.

    The latest aerial assault on Tuesday evening saw two members of a local athletics club attacked, with one runner requiring stitches for six head wounds caused by the nocturnal bird of prey's talons.

    The club has cancelled all training until further notice.

    I wonder if any of the residents were wearing one of these hats,

    Cause i could see why that might confuse an owl.

    By min | February 25, 2015, 1:22 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    Crazy Shit People on Facebook Told Me Today

    1. Two words. Eyelash perming. This is a thing that people (women) do. They make kits for it. It's crazy.

    It's a perm. For your eyelashes! So that you don't have to spend all that time every morning curling them manually. The alternative would be to stop curling your lashes, but i guess that's just too absurd to even consider.

    2. Tomato-dispensing robot for joggers.

    First off, 18lbs is completely not what i would categorize as "wearable".

    And if you've somehow tricked me into doing something as stupid as running, you'd better not be feeding me tomatoes. I want french fries or butterscotch krimpets coming out of that dispenser! Why the hell would i want my robot to dispense tomatoes?!

    By min | February 25, 2015, 11:19 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link


    Inside my head, i'm also running around the room, waving my arms.

    Hello Kitty Guile

    Hello Kitty E. Honda

    I dunno what Utage Tsuchineko is. I just know cute.

    Look at them! One of them is holding a wrapped candy!!!


    By min | February 24, 2015, 10:20 AM | Cute Things | Comments (1) | Link

    Spidey is no anti-vaxxer

    This letter ran in pretty much every Dec 80 Marvel comic's lettercol.

    By fnord12 | February 22, 2015, 2:25 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Hembeck's Line Dancing Shogun Warriors

    Lookit Baron Karza enlarging himself so he doesn't have to sit with the other Micronauts.

    By fnord12 | February 22, 2015, 2:23 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Is his name on a bubble gum card?

    Pretty much the only question i ask myself when thinking about the Historical Significance Rating for the introduction of a new character.

    Ok, i actually think about the number of appearances, the number of appearances outside of a single series, the number of appearances by creative teams besides the one that introduced him, and several other factors. But i did think of this comic, which i remember from a Peanuts book i read as a kid (although i think the version i remember only had the 3 critical middle panels), while doing some recent reviews.

    By fnord12 | February 22, 2015, 2:18 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

    Vegan Baklava

    vegan baklava


    • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
    • 1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios
    • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup butter (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
    • 1 1-lb box phyllo sheets (you'll need 30 sheets)
    • 2/3 cup vegan honey (we like Suzanne's Specialties Just-Like-Honey)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 lemon

    A couple of things to note about this recipe:

    1. There's no rosewater, a common ingredient for baklava. I might like to wear rosewater, but i don't much like eating it. So, if you like the flavor, you'll have to ask the internets to help you with proportions on that.
    2. My baklava isn't very syrupy. I've had some where the syrup was practically dripping from the pastry. While the bottom layers will definitely be soaked through with syrup, there isn't so much that it will be swimming in it. I prefer this because with the more syrupy baklava, all i can taste is sugar. With this recipe, while it's still sweet, i can also distinctly taste the nuts and spices and buttery phyllo. If you like your baklava to be more syrupy, just make more syrup.

    Make sure you've thawed out your phyllo sheets. You will either need to leave it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 2 hours. Keep the phyllo in the package while thawing else it will dry out.

    The size of the baking dish you use depends on the size of your phyllo sheets. Ideally, you want the sheets to be able to lay flat, but you don't want a lot of extra space for the pastry to slide around in. The sheets i had claimed to be 14"x9". I had a 13"x9" pan and a 15"x10" pan (both Pyrex so i wouldn't have to worry about scratching the pan when i cut the baklava). For this first attempt, i used the larger baking dish because i didn't want the phyllo to fold up at the sides. I might try using the smaller dish next time because i had some trouble with nuts escaping from the sides with the larger one.

    Once you've made the momentous decision of which baking dish to use, get out your food processor and start chopping up the nuts. In small batches, pulse the walnuts and pistachios separately in the food processor until they are finely chopped (think the size of the nut topping on ice cream). Be careful not to over process the nuts otherwise you will end up with nut flour. The small batches will help prevent this and will also hopefully result in more uniformly chopped nuts. Place the nuts into a medium-sized bowl.

    Using the food processor again, process the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well-combined. I find keeping brown sugar to be troublesome, so i just use regular sugar and add a small amount of molasses until it's the right color. Add the sugar mixture to the nuts and mix well. Set aside.

    Preheat the oven to 350degF. Melt the butter.

    Boxes of phyllo sheets usually come with two sleeves inside. Only open one and leave the other until needed because of the previously mentioned issue of drying out. Carefully unroll the sleeve. Phyllo sheets are fairly delicate and tend to tear at the slightest provocation. This isn't really the end of the world because honestly, once you start cutting into and eating a phyllo wrapped thing, bits of it start flaking off all over the place. Plus, there's usually several layers of phyllo, so who's going to notice if there's a tear here and there as long as all the inside bits are contained one way or another?

    Using a pastry brush, coat the bottom of the dish. Carefully lay your first sheet of phyllo onto the bottom of the dish, trying your best to get it flat. Pretty much, once the phyllo touches the butter on the pan, it'll stick like a son of a bitch and trying to peel it off could result in a tear. Although, as i said before, this isn't the end of the world. It just feels frustrating.

    Keep layering phyllo sheets, buttering every other sheet, until you've used 10 sheets. Every recipe using phyllo that i've ever seen tells you to butter every sheet. I only butter every other sheet because they're so thin and absorbent that i find doing every other sheet is more than plenty. You do what you want, but just know i'm finishing my layering in half the time which means i'm eating baklava that much sooner.

    Regardless of which layers you choose to butter, the top of the 10th sheet should be buttered. Cover the phyllo with 1/3 of your nut and sugar mixture. Lay a sheet of phyllo over this and begin your buttering and layering until you've used 5 sheets. Make sure the top of this last sheet is buttered and cover with another 1/3 of the nut and sugar mixture. Make another 5 sheet layer of phyllo and butter. Cover with the remaining 1/3 of the nuts and sugar. Butter and layer 10 phyllo sheets.

    Now comes the tricky part of scoring the baklava. You've got a bunch of slippery layers sitting on top of one another, and you need to cut through it with a sharp knife without cutting yourself plus make it look pretty.

    I haven't quite figured out how to cut them into lovely rombuses yet, but triangles i can do. Cut the pastry into 24 rectangles (6 columns and 4 rows) and then cut each of these in half diagonally.

    Why can't you just cut the pastry after you bake it like most other baked goods? Because you're going to pour this lovely syrup over it right after you take it out of the oven and you want it to seep into the layers of every piece and not just get the edges and bottom wet.

    Bake for 40 minutes or until the phyllo is a golden brown.

    While that's happening, pour the honey and water into a small saucepan. Stir to combine. Using a sharp paring knife, cut strips of lemon zest from the lemon. Do your best to get as little of the pith (the white, spongy layer) as possible as the pith will make your syrup bitter. Place the strips of zest right into the honey mixture. Save your naked lemon for tea or water or whatever it is you like to use lemons for.

    Cook on medium high heat, stirring often, until it boils. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Throw away the zest and let the syrup cool a bit.

    When the baklava is done baking, ladle the syrup over the entire thing making sure to get plenty of syrup into the crevices. Let it cool then cover and refrigerate overnight.

    Run a knife through the baklava to make sure the pieces are cut all the way through before serving. They might be a bit stuck to the dish because of the cooled sugar, but it shouldn't be too hard to coax them out.

    By min | February 21, 2015, 4:37 PM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (0) | Link

    Breastmilk for Bodybuilding


    According to multiple sources (including ABC and Medical Daily), chugging breast milk--which is both delightfully sweet and full of TBD microbes!--is becoming popular among fitness buffs who want to get their fats and complex carbohydrates from a natural source.
    Oddity Central reports that the men who do buy the milk use it in conjunction with their protein shakes or make it into yogurt (and you thought vagina yogurt was weird). Some allegedly believe that the milk will not only help them grow bigger, faster, stronger but will also cure conditions such as psoriasis.


    I don't understand the woman who has all this extra breastmilk to sell. I usually hear about women who are worried they aren't producing enough milk and have to resort to eating disgusting things like oatmeal in the hopes that it will encourage greater milk production. I, so far, haven't encountered anyone who has complained about producing too much, and yet, this woman selling her breastmilk managed to fill a deep freezer with all the extra. Holy cow (ha ha. puns are not funny.)!

    By min | February 20, 2015, 3:29 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

    The Flavor of Fat is "Delicious"

    You know how sometimes you get that piece of fat on a steak or a porkchop? I loved that. Marrow's prolly pretty fatty. That's also delicious. And duck skin...Yeah, fat's a flavor and that flavor is "mmmmm..."

    A paper published early this month by Australian researchers in a special edition of the journal Flavour highlights recent breakthroughs in our understanding of fat as a taste. Citing dozens of studies, it describes what is understood about the chemical and electrical pathway between fat in the food we eat and our brains.

    Although taste has been studied and contemplated since the time of Aristotle, there's no textbook definition of what makes a taste. In science, "taste" is the perception of certain chemicals on the tongue, while "flavor" is the combined experience of taste and smell. Fat definitely induces responses based on its smell and texture, but over the past decade, evidence has been mounting that it may also have a taste component.


    Mattes pointed me to one practical reason for understanding whether fat is a taste. "Fat replacers," products used to mimic fat in food to reduce calorie count, are designed based on texture. If there is a taste component, it likely isn't being captured, which could explain why products with fake fat don't taste as good. (No, fat-free half and half is not as good as the real thing.)

    Join us next time for a discussion on how enjoyable it is to eat gristle. Gotta love that crunch.

    By min | February 20, 2015, 1:16 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    We got the polar worms

    Min says they've come this far south because some mad wizard has summoned a Polar Vortex. All i know is it's cold out.

    By fnord12 | February 20, 2015, 9:48 AM | D&D & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

    No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.