Super Mega Monkey Ultra Extreme III Alright!!!!

Later, in the privacy of his own apartment, Raxton peels off his outer clothes, again to revel in his awesome power...
-- Amazing Spider-Man #35


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    Understanding Comics NOW!

    This again. Tom Brevoort laments the lack of quality comic reviewers. Here's what i said about that last time. And this still comes across as "Oh, no one out there understands the great works of art we're producing!" to me. But let me try to get a little more constructive this time. Brevoort complains that reviews don't bring any "critical faculties or technical knowledge or analytical thinking" to their reviews. And this is where i wish that he still had his more long form blog instead of the tumblr page (and to be clear, i really do appreciate that Brevoort continues to put himself out there and interact with fans despite the fact that so many of the questions he gets are just awful). Because i'd like to see how Brevoort thinks people should be thinking about today's comics.

    Jim Shooter has on his also-defunct blog a multi-part lecture on comics that was eye opening for me, using a random Kirby issue of Human Torch Strange Tales as an example. But so much of what Shooter takes as lessons from that book, from character introductions to panel framing to sequential action, has all gone out the window. Part of the problem is that a single issue can't really be judged on its own anymore (if you look at the question Brevoort was asked this time around, i initially thought it was going to be if there was a point to reviewing a single issue at all given the decompressed nature of modern comics), and part is (charitably) due to evolving art and writing styles. So the Kirby lens is no longer applicable, and from what i remember of Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics, that's really out of date by modern standards too. So i'd really love - no snark - if Brevoort or someone else could take the time to really deconstruct a few issues and show how to apply the "technical knowledge" that he thinks reviewers should be bringing. Alternatively he could point to a reviewer that he does think does a good job, but the impression i get is that there aren't any.

    For my part, obviously my Timeline reviews are more functional and mostly about how things fit into continuity, which we know isn't something Brevoort cares about. And my opinions there and especially my Speed Reviews here are exactly what Brevoort complains about, just me vomiting up my immediate impressions ("Here's what i think about this comic. BLAAAARGH!"). And i know Brevoort isn't talking about people on random blog sites; in fact his complaint is that the reviews on Newsarama and CBR read like random blog posts. But i have put Understanding Comics back in the bathroom for a refresher read. And i would really love if there was some sort of lesson for modern comics that might change my opinion that the attention to craft that the old school artists and writers had isn't lost, just changed.

    By fnord12 | August 29, 2014, 1:23 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    But what if we just wanna complaaaaaain?

    Riffing off the Knee Defender controversy, Matthew Yglesias says if you don't like how much space you get on a plane, you should pay more.

    In the past, though, he's said that airplanes have gotten crappier because of deregulation. But even then, the quality was better because the prices were fixed at higher levels, so you were still paying more.

    By fnord12 | August 27, 2014, 6:14 PM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    Kevin Drum is feeling peak-ish

    He and John Cole of Balloon Juice are coiners of phrases, apparently. I actually find it hard to believe. The "We've reached Peak X" phraseology feels like it's always been around.

    By fnord12 | August 27, 2014, 6:11 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    Maybe this is the angle we need to play up

    Unrealistically sexy female comic characters can ruin your relationships.

    By fnord12 | August 27, 2014, 6:09 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    After what i hope didn't come across like too much of an old man rant in the post below, i've got three enjoyable comics this week. Some spoilers below!

    Elektra #5 - Definitely more of a grounded issue after the recent surreal stuff, and that's a nice change of pace (although i liked the previous issues fine too). This latest assassin's limited precog ability reminded me a bit of Spider-Man's spider-sense although it must be more difficult to manage; Spider-Man gets instinctive warnings (which i imagine translates to "duck!" "dodge left!" without him knowing exactly why) whereas this guy is seeing in his head things that will happen seconds before they actually happen. So he still has to be able to react to what he's seeing. Which maybe is why this guy might be a master assassin (that we never heard of before) but he's never played in the superhero world. Anyway, i continue to like the art and i'm happy that there's some movement on the plot, some character work for Elektra, AND some nice fights this issue.

    Ms. Marvel #7 - And this was just great. For once, these fill-in art issues have not been a derailment, and the Wolverine guest star fit very nicely into the theme of the book. I've been saying that this book is a lot like the early issues of Spider-Man, but it's done with with more foresight (thanks to lots of books having taken this route already, from Ultimate Spider-Man to Invincible), so that we can really see Kamala develop in a planned way. And so i really liked how this issue had her learning that in order to be a super-hero, she's going to have to sometimes hurt people (and yes, even punch giant sewer alligators in the eyeball), and seeing her come to grips with that. And if the book lasts, i can imagine her even perhaps rebelling against that convention. It's a fun book, very human, lots of in-joke humor (in the sense that she's such a fan girl of Wolverine), and of course some non in-joke humor in the villain, who is a cockatiel clone of Thomas Edison. What's interesting is the pretty delayed reveal that her powers are indeed a result of Inhumanity. There's been enough going on in this book that i'm no longer worried, as i was at first, that the book would lose its audience due to its decompressed storytelling, but it's still an unusual decision to wait this long before confirming that she's tied in with the larger Marvel universe beyond her choice of name.

    Daredevil #7 - And this issue shows me that this book really could be my anchor book. It's an Original Sin tie-in and it also shows me what's been going on in Wakanda with the new Black Panther. And it's all done really well. I found the use of technology in Wakanda to be consistent with past appearances and appropriately handled, and the new Panther to be intriguing. And Daredevil's combination of super-heroics and negotiating tactics to be great. And i liked Waid and Rodriguez's (artist Javier Rodriguez gets a co-plotting credit) twist on what we thought the Original Sin reveal from last issue was. The memory that DD got last issue was seemingly of his father beating up his mother, but it turns out that his mom was having a postpartum depression freakout, and his father was really just defending him from her. And that sounds like it could be pretty awful, but Waid approaches it with i think the right amount of sensitivity; if anything it may come across a little too much like a PSA for postpartum disorders at the end (and the lettercol is replaced with an info sheet from Postpartum Support International). But it's still a nice twist on what we thought from last issue, which got some people pretty upset. So it's definitely an enjoyable issue and part of an enjoyable series. As far as being my anchor book, though, the problem is that it's just Daredevil! As much as Waid and team have been doing amazing work with him and as much as previous teams going back to at least Frank Miller have had great runs, he's just never been a character that i've loved. Which is why i was extra disappointed when Waid left Hulk, even if he hadn't been working the same magic there.

    Bonus DC comment: Wanyas is still giving us Forever People, but it's another Giffen-less issue. It's Starlin art this time, and it's fine, but i think i really just want OMAC again and i'm not getting that here.

    By fnord12 | August 26, 2014, 9:35 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Ok, Axis! Here we come!

    JSFan's question hit me right after i found out that my two current favorite Marvel books were being cancelled, and so it mixed in with other thoughts that were floating around in my head, so i wanted to wait a little bit before responding.

    It's worth noting that before these cancellations, creative team shifts were announced on Iron Man and the Hulk, and i wasn't interested in following the titles after that. Which already put me in a really weird spot where i'm not reading any of the "big" titles about the more obvious characters. We've stopped reading Avengers, our forays into the X-titles didn't go well, same with Fantastic Four, and i can't bring myself to read Spider-Man after Brand New Day.

    At least compared to my local comic reading friends, i liked Bendis' Avengers run more than most, but even i was souring on him in the end, and the things that i soured on made me unable to enjoy his X-books. And i've never liked Dan Slott or Matt Fraction. I feel like i ought to like Jonathan Hickman but i'm unable to. And Uncanny Avengers convinced me i'm not a fan of Rick Remender. Brian Wood's x-title started off promising but we got sick of that pretty quick, too. So that pretty much leaves me off of all the core Marvel books.

    And that's fine because Marvel has been admirably running a second stream of quirkier or more "indie" style books. And we had been reading a lot of those, from "FF" (where Allred's art overrode whatever i don't like about Fraction) to Superior Foes and New Warriors. And i'd also put the Waid/Samnee Daredevil in that category, and also the Hawkeye book even though that's another one i'm not getting. And this new wave of female led books: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Elektra. But FF was cancelled, and now SFOES and New Warriors are as well, and we've decided to drop Black Widow. I'm also pretty ambivalent about Captain Marvel. I think Ms. Marvel is great and after the latest issue She-Hulk is moving up there for me, and so far Elektra has been pretty good. But my crisis of faith at the moment is that none of those books are awesome books that, by themselves, would get me to the comic store. They are books that i'd pick up while i'm at the comic store to get something great. Maybe Ms. Marvel and Daredevil should be, but i'm not feeling it at the moment. They're books i put in the middle of my pile and am always happy to read, and i usually enjoy them more than i anticipate i will, but they're not the ones that i save for last because i know i'm going to love them.

    Now, i should mention that i don't actually go to the comic store. Friend Wanyas picks up my books for me. So on momentum alone i'll probably keep getting what i'm getting. But i really am feeling like i need an "anchor" book or i am going to continue to let books drop and eventually stop picking up Marvel monthlies. Especially since a lot of the books i'm getting are skirting the cancellation line.

    But all of the above is just ebb and flow. At one point in the 90s i was down to just Peter David's Hulk, so it's not the first time i'm just not interested in Marvel's current output. I came back in a big way with Heroes Reborn and enthusiastically stuck around when (pre EiC) Quesada launched the Marvel Knights line. And i was pretty enthused with the Return of the Mega Crossover era (moreso beginning with Civil War than House of M) in the beginning. So it's entirely possible that Marvel turns things around in a way that gets me picking up more books again.

    But to get to JSFan's specific question, i stick with Marvel books because i'm very much invested in the Marvel universe. Not necessarily specific characters, but the universe itself. If it was just the characters i think i would be satisfied with the movies or would have switched over to the more manageable Ultimate universe. I grew up with the idea of Marvel as a contiguous ongoing story, and i like to keep in touch with that story, even if i can't or won't get all the pieces. I've said all this over in the Timeline project and elsewhere on this blog, but the huge and intertwining aspect of the Marvel universe makes it unique, intriguing, and bigger than the sum of the individual books. Even books that are pretty terrible quality wise become great because of what they add and the way they get built upon. I think that's awesome and in its own special way makes the Marvel universe "story" at least as appealing to me as an A+ quality Neil Gaiman Sandman run.

    As an aside (and i'm repeating myself from older posts with this too), this is where i think Marvel has a disconnect with a certain (small, cranky) segment of its readers, me included. I've seen Tom Brevoort say things like continuity is fine but it shouldn't get in the way of a good story, and that seems to make logical sense, but i actually disagree when it comes to Marvel universe stories. The continuity is the main appeal of those stories. So when it's discarded (mistakes are one thing, and it's clear from my project that they happened all the time; i'm talking about a very conscious decision to not worry about it), the stories really do have to stand on the strength of the writing and art quality. And frankly, you can get much better standalone stories from other sources. I'm not saying it's impossible to get works of art out of ongoing super-hero comics, but it's not something you're going to achieve on a regular basis.

    And that gets to a difference now compared to when i was just collecting Hulk. At that point there were enough touchpoints with the rest of the Marvel universe that i could see what was going on. I saw the changes to the Avengers line-up, i saw the various Infinity crossovers, i saw bone claw Wolverine, etc. (and by the way, guys, i picked up a lot of the stuff i skipped out on as back issues not long after the fact thanks to the market crash, so just to be clear it's not like i never read Infinity Gauntlet).

    Nowadays, many of the books, especially the more "indie" books, are completely isolated from the Marvel universe. Daredevil has actually been an exception to this; thanks to that and Waid's Hulk, i was able to keep up with the more recent crossovers despite not actually getting them. But all the other books exist in a vacuum. And on top of that Tom Brevoort has been signaling to us old timers that there really isn't a Marvel universe any more and we really need to get over it. I've been unable to fully accept that, but it does have an effect. If there were a clean break of some sort - the sort of reboot that the rumors have been predicting for years now - i think i'd be more relieved than disappointed. But at this point i still feel half obligated and half genuinely still attached enough to the larger Marvel universe story to plug along with at least some books on my pull list. And along the way there have been great writers in recent years that have done some fun books that delve into Marvel "continuity" the way i like - Yost, Wells, Van Lente, Pak, Parker, Gage, Abnett/Lanning and Gillen all come to mind - and i'm sure there will be more in the future. If there isn't a reboot (release me, Marvel!).

    In the meantime, i really do feel like i need a book that connects me more directly with the goings-on of the Marvel universe. And since i don't really love any of the writers of the core books, i was considering just collecting whatever the crossover of the moment was, since those are the books where things mainly "happen" nowadays and they feature most of the Marvel characters. When i suggested that to my local friends they looked at me like i had two heads, but that may nonetheless be the way to go.

    By fnord12 | August 25, 2014, 3:56 PM | Comics | Comments (9) | Link

    White on white murder

    Matthew Yglesias has some snark for you.

    By fnord12 | August 22, 2014, 11:55 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    And maybe everything else, too

    Pretty much the subtext of most of my conversations about comics.

    By fnord12 | August 22, 2014, 11:46 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    Thanks a lot, jerks

    Well, my call to arms in the most recent Speed Review shows the extent of my influence. Both Superior Foes and New Warriors are cancelled.

    By fnord12 | August 22, 2014, 9:23 AM | Comics | Comments (11) | Link

    Recaps 58.1 and 59

    As promised, here's Recap 58.1: The Vain Experiment and our most recent adventure, Chicken God Egg: Journey to Irate Volcano Island.

    By min | August 20, 2014, 10:09 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

    Marvel Sales


    By fnord12 | August 20, 2014, 9:28 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Black Widow #9 - Man, that is the saddest, schlumpiest Punisher i have ever seen.

    What's wrong, was he all out of wife-beaters and cheap beer? And this was worth a splash panel? An entire page devoted to that? All of Noto's art continues to be stiff. The scene with Crossbones walking around the ship, it's like, you could do better posing action figures, and again, what a waste of space.

    He's dynamically swinging around to grab Black Widow's gun in that final panel, in case you can't tell. Clearly you would frame that shot at close range with no background so that you can't tell exactly what's happening. All of the art is like this. Storywise, i guess it's a basic, albeit content-lite, spy plot, except Black Widow's whole mission here is a cluster and she learns nothing, and there's a scene with her i guess? maybe? capturing the Punisher at the end that is left to our imagination. Continuity-wise, the last time i saw the Black Widow interact with the Punisher, it ended in a pretty bitter fight and the Punisher getting imprisoned by the Avengers. But none of that is mentioned here. It's like, we should be excited to see these characters but we shouldn't expect them to act at all they've ever appeared before. All in all, pretty lame. I don't know how we got nine issues into this series already. Min? Can we drop this?

    She-Hulk #7 - It was pretty clever of Marvel to give us two issues of the worst art i've ever seen in a comic book so that when we get back to the quirky weirdness of Pulido i'm willing to embrace it wholeheartedly. This issue actually is exactly what this book should be. A fun "case" for She-Hulk showing both her legal and super-hero sides, and with some good interaction between her and Hellcat. A fun story. Hellcat trying to use Henry Pym's helmet to talk to ants: "It's like talking to a million ten year olds! All they want is sugar!" Since i've already got my scanner fired up, let me use it to highlight some art that i think is interesting instead of just bitching about Noto's bad Widow art.

    Captain Marvel #6 - I have been liking this better since we actually got into the heart of what the Spartaxians wanted the planet for. The resolution here is pretty obvious, but it's a fun bit of space battle and basic politics. We saw the Guardians of the Galaxy movie this past weekend, and one of things that struck me was how in the movieverse, the Spartaxians are as non-relevant as they were in the comics before Bendis' GotG comic. At the very end, Starlord is identified as being half-human and half something that the Xandarians aren't familiar with, and that's it. I assumed that the Spartaxians would play a much larger role in the movie, hence Bendis' revision. The fact that that isn't the case as all makes Bendis' decision - and the fallout here - all the more bizarre. Anyway, i only mention that here since this comic takes an obvious cue from the GotG movie by having Captain Marvel flying away listening to a mix tape. In any event, next issue promises to be about the flerken cat so i suppose it's worth sticking around for that.

    New Warriors #8 - This continues to be fun. As long as Hummingbird says something like "I'm going to fight you with my brain" every issue, i'm good. I am a little disappointed to see the whole issue devoted to these new Inhumans and just waiting until the last panel to advance the Maelstrom's Minions plot or anything else that's going on. But i guess it was good to wrap that part up for now, and i definitely enjoyed the issue.

    Superior Foes of Spider-Man #14 - By the way, this book and New Warriors, definitely my two favorite books right now, are selling less than 20,000 copies each on the direct market. I am obviously not a good gauge of what most people like. But in my humble opinion, this issue is just fantastic. This is a comedy heist book, but since we're talking about art, let's just take a random scene to show some actual sequential art that i can only wish existed in the actual action comics.

    And that's in addition to lots of little breaks to do funny stuff like this.

    And on top of that, humor and intrigue that anyone who likes movies like Ocean's Eleven or Guy Ritchie's early films would enjoy. Except since it's in the Marvel universe, it's about stealing things like a portrait of an unmasked Dr. Doom or the (still alive) head of Silvermane. So that's my pitch. If everyone reading this blog goes out and adds this to their pull list, we can move that 17,826 number up to like 17,831 or so. We can do it!

    By fnord12 | August 19, 2014, 6:38 PM | Comics | Comments (7) | Link

    Well that's a problem

    I'm all for solar energy, but not if it's going to create a vortex of fiery bird death.

    When i think of solar energy, i think mainly of solar panels on our roofs and maybe, as we have here in Jersey, on all our telephone poles. It never occurred to me that we'd have to create some sort of mirrored monstrosity that focuses the sunlight into laser intensity. It might be a question of trying to fit solar into a traditional power plant model instead of distributing the responsibility (and ownership). Or it might just be that solar panels on the roof aren't sufficient for our power needs in all climates (yet?).

    To go back to the Earthship, they are very much designed to work independent of an energy grid, but they also remove the majority of the need for climate control thanks to its use of thermal mass. Climate control is what drains the majority of a typical home's energy. So an Earthship is pretty much self-sufficient, energy wise. But we can't expect to retrofit all existing buildings to be partially underground, even if people would accept that (which they wouldn't). So hopefully this Flamestrike issue is resolvable.

    By fnord12 | August 19, 2014, 11:20 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link

    Did Thomas Friedman Write This?

    A friend was telling me about a ride at Great Adventure called the Zumanjaro. It's essentially a bigger version of Freefall - you ride up in a car to some tremendously impressive height and then the car drops. As i was reading through their list of "facts" about the ride, i came across this line:

    Plummet back to Earth as fast as a female cheetah stalking her prey

    Stop. Go back. Read that again. I guess because...they both achieve top speeds of 90 mph? But stalking means to creep up stealthily. And why does the cheetah have to be female?

    Oh, and also

    The name Zumanjaro has African influences

    Ow. My brain.

    By min | August 18, 2014, 12:55 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    How i know i'm living the dream

    There is a peach pie literally cooling on the window sill, like i'm in a cartoon, plus the pie is surrounded by comic books.

    By fnord12 | August 16, 2014, 6:59 PM | Comics & My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link

    Return of the Horde

    Painted Reaper Bones

    We've got some townsfolk on the left, with an ogre behind them (the only figure that is metal; the rest are plastic Bones). Also in the back are a stone elemental and a blue dragon. The the rest across the front are a lizard man, a cleric who is standing on a separate altar, then an owlbear (the first i've seen that's more owl than bear), a ranger, an ettin, and then an armored guy with a skull helmet that i painted like the red skull when he first used the cosmic cube and made himself that gold armor.

    Still more to do but i've got to get back to Inferno.

    By fnord12 | August 16, 2014, 4:12 PM | D&D | Comments (6) | Link

    Nerd Humor

    This made me laugh.

    By min | August 14, 2014, 9:32 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    Blinded from the science

    Kevin Drum has the latest data on his lead & crime beat, and then says this:

    It's a funny thing. For years conservatives bemoaned the problem of risky and violent behavior among children and teens of the post-60s era, mostly blaming it on the breakdown of the family and a general decline in discipline. Liberals tended to take this less seriously, and in any case mostly blamed it on societal problems. In the end, though, it turned out that conservatives were right. It wasn't just a bunch of oldsters complaining about the kids these days. Crime was up, drug use was up, and teen pregnancy was up. It was a genuine phenomenon and a genuine problem.

    But liberals were right that it wasn't related to the disintegration of the family or lower rates of churchgoing or any of that. After all, families didn't suddenly start getting back together in the 90s and churchgoing didn't suddenly rise. But teenage crime, drug use, and pregnancy rates all went down. And down. And down.

    Most likely, there was a real problem, but it was a problem no one had a clue about. We were poisoning our children with a well-known neurotoxin, and this toxin lowered their IQs, made them into fidgety kids, wrecked their educations, and then turned them into juvenile delinquents, teen mothers, and violent criminals. When we got rid of the toxin, all of these problems magically started to decline.

    By fnord12 | August 12, 2014, 5:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    Marvel Sales


    By fnord12 | August 12, 2014, 10:38 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link


    Just in case anyone's lurking out there or using the RSS feed waiting for an update on my Marvel comics timeline, 1988 is wrapped up for now (there will still be pushbacks and such). Taking a little break and reading through all of Inferno before starting up on 1989.

    By fnord12 | August 11, 2014, 8:48 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link

    One simply does not discuss wages in Purgatory

    I stopped linking to Sarah Palin's latest outrageous statements a long while ago, but against my better judgement here's the latest. I justify this in part because she's got her new video blog or whatever now and in part because i'm always interested when people think us vegans are out to force the rest of you - via a stay in Purgatory, apparently - to conform to our way of eating. You may want to go to TPM and watch the video clip of this, or you may want to just shove a sharp pencil up your nose to pierce your brain. It's all the same.

    We believe -- wait, I thought fast food joints -- don't you guys think that they're like of the devil or something?" Palin said. "Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint that you just don't believe in -- I don't know, I thought you wanted to send them to purgatory or something. So they all go vegan. And wages and picket lines, I don't know, they're not often discussed in purgatory are they? I don't know, why are you even worried about fast food wages? Well, we believe -- an America where minimum wage jobs, they're not lifetime gigs, they're stepping stones to sustainable wages. It teaches work ethic."

    By fnord12 | August 11, 2014, 11:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

    I know everyone will appreciate a post about my underwear

    I do my clothes shopping on Amazon because i aspire to be a shut-in, and i recently bought a pair of boxer shorts, and they came with this tag:

    Now, when i travel, my number one priority is fitting as many comic books into my suitcase as possible. So you can see why this premise might be appealing to me. But i can assure you that Min would never let me go on a five day business trip with one pair of underwear packed, and that's assuming i even managed to convince myself it was a good idea.

    By fnord12 | August 11, 2014, 10:37 AM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link

    Sure, we like stupid stuff

    Please someone give me a primary option.

    By fnord12 | August 10, 2014, 9:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link


    Protectors of gravity or just great dancers?

    By fnord12 | August 10, 2014, 3:30 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (6) | Link

    I Totally Do Need to Brush Up on How to Deal with Killer Robots from the Future


    We know that parts of our minds think scary stories are important because our minds find them important enough to dream about. If scary stories are important, then we are compelled to experience them.
    Sometimes the news will cleverly play on our hopes and fears one after the other, with a headline or teaser like "is your child being mistreated in preschool? Find out what you need to know." Like religion, the news scares you and follows up with hope for a solution.

    Sometimes the news caters only to hope. No doubt many readers have heard that having a pet increases happiness and health. But few know that the studies reporting no effect are just as numerous. A study showing no such effect is something nobody wants to read. It's not scary nor hopeful enough to grab anyone's attention. It's in the boring dead zone, the anti-sweet spot. As a result, in this case only the positive gets reported.

    Like a lot of news, contemporary legends (popularly known as urban legends) tend to be scary. That is because the scary ones are more likely to be retold, as was found in an experiment by psychologists Jean Fox Tree and Mary Susan Weldon. According to my theory, we find cautionary tales compelling because of fear and hope.

    The middle section of the article also gives an interesting reason for why people find slot machines so addictive. It comes down to our brains being stupid and telling us "Hey, you're getting better at this. You got really close to winning that time. I bet with more practice, you can get a win on your next pull.".

    By min | August 10, 2014, 1:16 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link

    I want my phosphates

    People are weird.

    By fnord12 | August 7, 2014, 10:33 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    Too complex

    Obamacare may be working better than its right-wing critics pretend, and it's even better than left-wing critics feared, but it's still a Rube Goldberg device with too many confusing pieces.

    By fnord12 | August 6, 2014, 3:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    The case for a Maximum Wage

    Yglesias makes it, and he notes that you don't actually have to have an actual maximum wage. Just a top marginal tax rate of between 70-90%, which is what it was from WWII until Reagan.

    By fnord12 | August 6, 2014, 3:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    You Should Appreciate My Efforts

    I am keeping myself so well in check, you just don't realize.

    FIRE DRAGON - 1916, 1976, 2036

    The most righteous, outgoing and competitive of all Dragons, the Fire Dragon will expect a lot from everyone. But while he may be demanding and aggressive, he is also blessed with enormous energy and has a lot to offer in return. The trouble is that he may go around with an air of superiority plus authority and make people fear or shy away from him. His leadership qualities are often marred by his desire to be treated like the Messiah. Fire matched with his forceful lunar sign will give him overzealous and dictatorial inclinations. He pushes too hard even where there is little resistance.

    In reality, he is an open and humane person given to impartiality and uncovering the truth at all costs. His criticisms are objective and he has the power to arouse the masses with his vibrant personality. A natural empire builder, he will look toward the supreme order of things, with himself at the helm, of course.

    Because the Fire Dragon is often enveloped by insatiable personal ambition, he is short-tempered, inconsiderate and unable to put up with anything less than perfection. He also overgeneralizes or jumps to conclusions, frequently lumping people into categories without allowing for or even perceiving their individual differences.}

    Nonetheless, here is a performer of the highest degree who could easily be a source of inspiration to his fellowman and a personality who will catch the public eye - when he learns to master his negative traits and communicate more humbly with others.

    That's right. It says "the Messiah". Still working on the "communicate more humbly with others" part...

    By min | August 5, 2014, 8:01 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link

    Who Gets to Define "Terrorism"

    The people with the better funded media machine, ofc.

    In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is "terrorism"; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble "self-defense." That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term "terrorists."

    I think the pie charts in the article speak volumes. While both sides have blood on their hands, it's important to note how easily the Palestinians are demonized in the media.

    For a media that's obsessed with "balance", they seem to have no trouble unequally representing the sides in this conflict.

    The U.S. media needs to do a better job of conveying the complexity of this situation. It can't just be a black and white/good guy vs bad guy story. It's all shades of gray where nobody has claims to innocence.

    By min | August 3, 2014, 10:17 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

    Due to my hiatus and other factors we have a few weeks to go through here. By the way, spoilers below!

    Infinity Man and the Forever People #2 - I'm sorry that for my Speed Review for the first issue i just called it Forever People. I didn't notice the smaller print "Infinity Man and the" part. And that shows you how observant i am and how seriously you should take my reviews. Anyway, Wanyas is getting this and sharing it with me because of the Giffen Kirby-homage art, and guess what this issue doesn't have? And this is issue #2. I mean storywise it's fine, and Tom Grummet's art is pretty good too, but it's like someone tricked me into reading a random DC comic for no good reason. At least if you're going to do this plot, you can play up the space hippie angle that was apparently in Kirby's original series. The communal weirdness with the Mother Box at the end was a good start but there needs to be MORE MORE MORE of that. Also Giffen art.

    Daredevil Road Warriors #0.1 - This was a digital only book that became non-digital only with the printing of this book, and it tells the story of Daredevil's trip from New York to San Francisco. Which may sound boring, but he fights the Man-Bull, a Super-Adaptoid, and the Mad Thinker along the way. I say "a" Super-Adaptoid because this was was built by the Thinker making it not the Super-Adaptoid and so i don't know why it's not just an Awesome (or perhaps Spectacular, Uncanny, etc.) Android. But the story is done very well and Waid again does a good job making a classic villain (the Thinker, not so much the Man-Bull) seem like a credible threat the way we don't see much of lately, and there's just a lot of cool fighting as well as some good downtime scenes between Matt and Kirsten McDuffie. I know Min, looking over my shoulder, had some problems with the art but i thought it was ok (it's no Chris Samnee, ofc). I also thought these Infinity Comics were specifically laid out in some way to take advantage of modern touchscreens, but you can't tell by looking at this paper copy. Unless it's the fact that the book is all nice rectangular panels, but that's what comics are fricking supposed to be. I'm glad i didn't read this in realtime since it kind of spoils the fact that Foggy is still alive and i liked the actual reveal in the actual series, but i'm glad this made it to paper format.

    Daredevil #5 - And this issue tells us exactly how Foggy Nelson faked his death, and it's a fun story involving Ant-Man, who sure appears a lot in this Daredevil series, and a new Leap Frog (of sorts). I got a little uncomfortable about the implications of Pym being inside Foggy blasting away cancer cells, but then Waid clarified it and showed that it wasn't really effective anyway.

    Daredevil #6 - Aaand here's another Daredevil book. This one's an Original Sin tie-in, my first and possibly only. The idea with these is that we're revealing something awful in the character's past thanks to the explosion of the Watcher eye (i have to admit i got a little thrill typing that even though i'm not reading the main series). I actually thought they were all going to be about the characters themselves, literally their original sin, like (as Waid started to hint in earlier issues) maybe Matt Murdock was actually a bully when he was a kid, or maybe he beat the original Fixer to death or something in his first appearance. But here at least, it's actually the emergence of a suppressed memory regarding Daredevil's parents (it turns out the reason mom left is because dad was a wife-beater). Not sure how i feel about it yet, but it does seemed to be designed for maximum unobtrusiveness, i.e., it doesn't seem like it should contradict anything that's already been published and i'm not sure in the long run it'll be too much of a drag on DD considering everything else he's been through. Somehow from there, though, we get into a conflict with non-Black Panther Wakandans and so this is stretched into a two-parter, so we'll see where it goes.

    Captain Marvel #5 - Ok, i think it's fair to say the past few issues have been meandering but i like the resolution to this story, in a general sense, which is that the reason the planet is making the people sick is because of the mining of a particular substance that's been going on there. Again, it makes the past few issues, where CM and her motley crew were roaming the galaxy looking for ships to defend themselves with against the Spartax empire, nearly pointless. We could have had CM sensibly decide to investigate why the people were getting sick directly and saved us a few issues of water treading. But we're here now and it's an interesting twist. Now, as to the particular substance that they are mining, i think i have a problem with that. It's vibranium, and i just don't trust writers today to handle this correctly. Vibranium is special on Earth because it's a rare metal that came to Earth on an asteroid. If we now have a planet in space where it's being mined, then suddenly every alien in the galaxy has some (the Spartaxians already did) and that quickly works its way to every villain and government on Earth. It looks like DeConnick is already making sure that doesn't happen (i.e. the Spartaxians have lost all their vibranium-lined warships in the fight with the Builders and this planet seems to be the only supply, which is why it's so important). Which is good, although it doesn't prevent later writers from discovering caches of the stuff all over the place now that the door is opened (but i guess that could have happened anyway). In any event, next issue we have Captain Marvel fighting people in space, which is what we've been saying we wanted since issue #1.

    Elektra #4 - This continues to be an entertainingly weird little book.

    Black Widow #8 - Somewhat less weird, somewhat less entertaining.

    She-Hulk #6 - Who threw up all over my comic book?

    Ms. Marvel #6 - At first i was disappointed to not see Adrian Alphona's art, but Jacob Wyatt draws some cute scenes. Love the Thomas Edison Parrot Clone. And the Wolverine guest appearance is well done. I'm liking this book a lot.

    Savage Hulk #2 - I already raised my continuity concerns, so i'll just say i enjoyed the Hulk/Abomination fight (with added X-Men) that i didn't quite get in the recent Waid/Bagley version, and this is enjoyable.

    Superior Foes of Spider-Man #13 - I was a little down on last issue, which was the first after some fill-ins, but i think things have fully rebounded here. The legion of losers are all wrapped up basically off panel, and we are back to the fun of earlier issues, with the group mostly being back together, except Shocker and i'm amused by his bonding with the head of Silvermane. It's funny and there still good character work here. One of my favorite Marvel books, rivaled only by...

    New Warriors #7 - ...which matches your talking Cockatiel with a talking Cat and Dog (named Jake Waffles!) and has lots of other great humor besides (I sense... that i am hungry), but also makes good use of the Inhumanity set-up and promises us Phobius, Helio, and Gronk for next issue (and presumably Maelstrom too). A really well written book that makes use of lots of elements of the Marvel universe and is just a lot of fun.

    By fnord12 | July 31, 2014, 2:41 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

    More Nerd Rage

    Here, here (this one has some particularly good analysis), and here (this one might be a little hard to follow; this is what she originally posted to generate such outrage). (First via Atrios, second two via MightyGodKing).

    It's not just nerd rage that's the problem, though. Min and i have plenty of nerd rage! The problem is that it's always expressed in sexist, racist, and violent attitudes. Delve into the comments on any of those posts and you'll see even the sympathetic commenters devolving into conversations about whether or not the original Village Voice review was any good, or if the ending to Mass Effect 3 was good, or if the historical research by the lady in the third link is accurate. And that's not the point! The point is you don't respond to someone you disagree with by calling them a whore and threatening to kill them.

    By fnord12 | July 31, 2014, 12:49 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage & Movies & Video Games | Comments (0) | Link

    What's wrong with Mario Kart?

    And what the hell is this guy talking about?

    By fnord12 | July 30, 2014, 7:53 PM | Boooooks & Comics & D&D & Godzilla & Liberal Outrage & Movies & Science & Star Wars & TeeVee & Video Games | Comments (1) | Link

    Shang-Chi meets the Avengers

    I was poking around looking up stuff on Master of Kung Fu, and i came across this cover, which i thought was pretty awesome. This is from Marvel UK's Avengers Weekly, which reprinted (obviously) Avengers stories. With this issue they got kicked (hah, hah) to the back of the book and Master of Kung Fu became the headliner. Looks like all the covers of this series were reprints of the original covers except this issue which got something special.

    By fnord12 | July 30, 2014, 8:57 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link


    Thanks to Wanyas including the Forever People in my comics pile (even though it doesn't even have Giffen art this time! But i'll save that for the speed review) i am getting a rare glimpse at DC's house ads, and, well, this one stuck out:

    It's not that i find it offensive or anything, although i'm surprised DC isn't worried about what parents might think. It just seems dumb, and i guess confirms that the target audience is 13 year old boys.

    By fnord12 | July 30, 2014, 7:50 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

    Grey water

    Min's post below, especially the part about the 50 liter flush, reminds me that at this point in my life i had really hoped to be living in an Earthship somewhere out in the wild. For a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to, inertia and risk aversion), that never happened. But one of the interesting things about an Earthship is the grey water system design, wherein the water from your sinks and shower don't go straight out to the sewer (and/or septic tank), but instead feed your toilet. Because your toilet water really doesn't need to be pristine. So let's take the moderately dirty ("grey") water from washing your hands and showering and use it to make that 50 liter flush a little less wasteful. It's something that i could see being useful even in a "regular" house. The only challenge is figuring out where to store the excess grey water. In an Earthship it's filtered through an in-house plant feeder first. But in a regular house it could go into a tank next to your hot water heater, i suppose.

    I imagine this would never actually happen since local planning boards would probably think that reusing the sink water is squiky. But it's something to think about as the water situation situation continues to get worse. Although if Peter Brabeck continues to go the full Eco Protectorate (unlike Min, Solarbabies instead of Tank Girl is my dystopian water scarcity sci fi film of choice), we may first want to consider the Earthship's rain water collection system.

    By fnord12 | July 29, 2014, 1:02 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life & Science | Comments (0) | Link

    Malcolm McDowell Will Be Playing the Role of Peter Brabeck

    Because Tank Girl.

    This summer, however, myriad business forces are combining to remind us that fresh water isn't necessarily or automatically a free resource. It could all too easily end up becoming just another economic commodity.

    At the forefront of this firestorm is Peter Brabeck, chairman and former CEO of Nestle.

    In his view, citizens don't have an automatic right to more than the water they require for mere "survival", unless they can afford to pay for it. For context, the World Health Organization sets such "survival" consumption levels at a minimum of 20 liters a day for basic hygiene and food hygiene - higher, if you add laundry and bathing. If you're reading this in the United States, the odds are that flushing your toilet consumes 50 liters of water a day.


    Nestle's Nestle Waters North Americas Inc division - the largest bottled water company in the country - has continued to pump water from an aquifer near Palm Springs, California, thanks to its partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Their joint venture, bottling water from a spring on land owned by the band in Millard Canyon, has another advantage: since the Morongo are considered a sovereign nation, no one needs to report exactly how much water is being drawn from the aquifer.

    In the Canadian province of British Columbia, Nestle has been using another loophole.

    Until this year, British Columbia didn't have rules that required the company to report how much it drew from the province's aquifers - or pay a penny to the government's coffers in exchange for the resource.

    As of last year, therefore, Nestle was able to bottle 265m liters of fresh water and pay nothing for the resource that Brabeck believes should have an economic price attached to it - at least, when it is consumers that are paying that price.

    Thanks for being an asshole, Nestle. The warm and fuzzy image you project of children baking Toll House cookies at home makes your assholery that much more offensive.

    I've posted about water and land being snatched up by corporations in the past, so this is more of an update that it's still a thing that's happening. Also, i was enraged and needed an outlet. There is much gnashing of teeth occurring right now. I'm pretty sure Toll House cookies will trump outrage with most of the population.

    By min | July 28, 2014, 2:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    People in the South are just angry about a lot of stuff

    I was just reading up on New Coke and found this on Wikipedia:

    Most Coke drinkers resumed buying the new drink at much the same level as they had the old one. Surveys indicated, in fact, that a majority liked the new flavoring.[23] Three-quarters of the respondents said they would buy New Coke again.[22] The big test, however, remained in the Southeast, where Coke was first bottled and tasted...

    Despite New Coke's acceptance with a large number of Coca-Cola drinkers, a vocal minority of them resented the change in formula and were not shy about making that known -- just as had happened in the focus groups. Many of these drinkers were Southerners, some of whom considered the drink a fundamental part of regional identity. They viewed the company's decision to change the formula through the prism of the Civil War, as another surrender to the "Yankees".[24]

    Company headquarters in Atlanta started receiving letters expressing anger or deep disappointment... The company hotline, 1-800-GET-COKE, received 1,500 calls a day compared to 400 before the change.[14] Coke hired a psychiatrist to listen in on calls and told executives some people sounded as if they were discussing the death of a family member.

    By fnord12 | July 27, 2014, 12:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link

    Recap 58

    Search for the Lizard God Egg, Part III

    Recap 58.1 with the Erintrah adventure to be added in the near future.

    By min | July 24, 2014, 12:36 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link

    Travel reading

    "You've got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists." - Wednesday, The Man Who Was Thursday

    By fnord12 | July 23, 2014, 10:29 PM | Boooooks | Comments (0) | Link

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