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March 30, 2007

Marvel's Feb Sales

Paul O'Brien's monthly sales analysis.


By fnord12 | March 30, 2007, 4:19 PM | Comics| Link



Er....China's Sinking

Predictions have been made that Shanghai and other coastal cities will be underwater by 2050 due to rising global temps.

While admitting that global warming is a reality, some Chinese experts have, nevertheless, dismissed the prediction of a flooded Shanghai by folks like Brown as hypothetical.

According to Chen Manchun, a research fellow with the Tianjin-based National Marine Data and Information Service, coastal cities would take measures to guard against this, such as restricting construction projects along the coast and building higher and stronger sea walls to fend off the advancing tides.

But Chen also admitted that based on his team's research, by 2050, the sea level at the Yangtze River Delta, where Shanghai is located, will have risen 20 to 60 centimeters, and that the Bohai Sea region, where Tianjin is situated, will have risen 30 to 60 centimeters.

I still think New Zealand will be the first to go. Better book your trips for it now while it's still floating.


By min | March 30, 2007, 3:15 PM | Science| Link



Otter Porn

This is very cute. So for those of you who are squeamish, i would advise against clicking the link. Also, i suggest turning off the sound because the people talking are annoying.

Link

My hypothesis is that their palms got sweaty so they had to switch hands.


By min | March 30, 2007, 12:21 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (9) | Link



Unstable Molecules or Mythril?

Some electrical engineers in Illinois created 'smart' fabric. It's essentially like chainmail, except the chains and links are super super tiny. About 500 micrometers. So the material is very flexible.

Because the rings and links can slide and rotate against each other, the fabric possesses unique mechanical and electrical properties. For example, the electrical resistance changes when the fabric is stretched. These properties could prove useful for the development of smart fabric and wearable electronic devices for pervasive computing.

"The first layer of fabric could consist of silicon islands with embedded circuits or sensors," said Liu, who also is affiliated with the university's Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.

"The resulting fabric could generate electricity, detect movement or damage, or serve some other active role," Liu said.
[emphasis mine]

Big deal. I'm constantly generating electricity.


By min | March 30, 2007, 12:00 PM | Comics & Science| Link



March 29, 2007

Random Lyrics Thursday

No Direction by Bad Religion

A sullen figure walks along a dusty road
his life was holy and he couldn't bear the load
he left his people and a simple life behind
he raised his torso and he looked into the sky
shouting his questions
looking for directions
"what do I do now?"

now a confused school girl stares at the TV tray
the stresses of maturing compound every day
she glances up to see her favorite video
and gets ideas from Madonna's nasty clothes
in need of affection
she craves a direction
her heroes offer her

everyone is looking for something
and they assume somebody else knows what it is
no one can live with the decisions of their own
it seems so they look to someone else
to tell 'em what to be
tell 'em what to wear
tell 'em what to say
tell 'em how to act and think and compel others compulsively
until the world is all like them

a righteous student came and asked me to reflect
he judged my lifestyle was politically incorrect
I don't believe in self important folks who preach
no Bad Religion song can make your life complete
prepare for rejection you'll get no direction from me
you'll get no direction from me
you'll get no direction from me


By fnord12 | March 29, 2007, 9:00 AM | Music| Link



March 28, 2007

"Work/Life Balance"

The very phrase acknowledges that work is some intrusive thing that interrupts but is not a part of your life.


By fnord12 | March 28, 2007, 3:56 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link



Who doesn't love lists?

In the video game magazine i got suckered into subscribing to (Game Informer) they list the top ten most wanted songs to appear in Guitar Hero III. Here's the list.

  1. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
  2. Master of Puppets - Metallica
  3. Back In Black - AC/DC
  4. Layla - Derek & The Dominos
  5. Outshined - Soundgarden
  6. Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
  7. One Armed Scissor - At the Drive-in
  8. Cult of Personality - Living Colour
  9. 12:51 - Strokes
  10. Venus - Television

So my thoughts are:

  • I love including a Television song. It's a real unexpected pick.
  • Stairway and Layla are some long-ass songs to have to slog through. You know, i might replace them with shorter songs and then make you go through Television's Marquee Moon instead.
  • If you absolutely have to include a Bon Jovi song, and it's not Keyboard Hero (in which case, you do Runaway), you do You Give Love A Bad Name, which at least has that cool riff. But really, why not pick a good hair metal band - like Ratt! How about Lack of Communication?
  • This list contains mostly good songs but it doesn't really... rock, you know? It needs some more songs with an oomph, and less ballady stuff like Stairway and Layla and Wanted Dead or Alive. And three arty-farty songs (At the Drive-In, Strokes, Television - all of which are good, btw) is probably too many.
  • Not enough Dio.


By fnord12 | March 28, 2007, 2:23 PM | Music & Video Games | Comments (1) | Link



I do not recall, Senator - I mean Congressman! Hah hah! It's all a joke to me!

Go watch this corrupt woman lie about how she just doesn't remember hosting a meeting where she tried to get the government agency she runs to use government resources to win elections for Republicans. Go watch. Go on.


By fnord12 | March 28, 2007, 2:18 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



More like this, please

(also found on Digby):

BLITZER: Here's what you told Bill Bennett on his radio show on Monday.

MCCAIN: Yes.

BLITZER: "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today."

MCCAIN: Yes.

BLITZER: "The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq."

You know, everything we hear, that if you leave the so-called green zone, the international zone, and you go outside of that secure area, relatively speaking, you're in trouble if you're an American.

MCCAIN: You know, that's why you ought to catch up on things, Wolf.

General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee. You want to -- I think you ought to catch up. You see, you are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don't get it through the filter of some of the media.

...
BLITZER: Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, speaking here in THE SITUATION ROOM within the past hour.

Let's go live to Baghdad right now.

CNN's Michael Ware is standing by -- Michael, you've been there, what, for four years. You're walking around Baghdad on a daily basis.

Has there been this improvement that Senator McCain is speaking about?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'd certainly like to bring Senator McCain up to speed, if he ever gives me the opportunity. And if I have any difficulty hearing you right now, Wolf, that's because of the helicopter circling overhead and the gun battle that is blazing just a few blocks down the road.

Is Baghdad any safer?

Sectarian violence -- one particular type of violence -- is down. But none of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Senator McCain's confidence.

I mean, Senator McCain's credibility now on Iraq, which has been so solid to this point, has now been left out hanging to dry.

To suggest that there's any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I'd love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.

And to think that General David Petraeus travels this city in an unarmed Humvee. I mean in the hour since Senator McCain has said this, I've spoken to some military sources and there was laughter down the line. I mean, certainly, the general travels in a Humvee. There's multiple Humvees around it, heavily armed. There's attack helicopters, predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection.

So, no, Senator McCain is way off base on this one -- Wolf.

[...]


Michael, when Senator McCain says that there are at least some areas of Baghdad where people can walk around and -- whether it's General Petraeus, the U.S. military commander, or others, are there at least some areas where you could emerge outside of the Green Zone, the international zone, where people can go out, go to a coffee shop, go to a restaurant, and simply take a stroll?

WARE: I can answer this very quickly, Wolf. No. No way on earth can a westerner, particularly an American, stroll any street of this capital of more than five million people.

I mean, if al Qaeda doesn't get wind of you, or if one of the Sunni insurgent groups don't descend upon you, or if someone doesn't tip off a Shia militia, then the nearest criminal gang is just going to see dollar signs and scoop you up. Honestly, Wolf, you'd barely last 20 minutes out there.

I don't know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.


By fnord12 | March 28, 2007, 2:15 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Pod people

The government is infiltrated!

Monica Goodling, the lady who was taking the 5th with regards to testimony on the Gonzalez/prosecutor issue, is a graduate Regent University law school. This is Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition's college. She went to undergrad at "Messiah University".

Goodling is one of 150 graduates of Regent University working for the Bush administration.

At a school designed explicitly to produce inflential professionals, worldview plays an especially crucial role; it is the bridge from inner spiritual beliefs to public action in the professional sphere. It's for this reason that Regent's professors are required to integrate "biblical principles" into every subject area, and it's the reason that law students take a class their first year in the Christian foundations of law. Regent Law School Dean Jeffrey Brauch calls the result a "JD-plus" Students take the standard canon of legal education -- torts, property, constitutional law -- but supplement discussions of what the law is with discussions of what the Bible and Christian tradition say the law should be, reading Leviticus, the Gospel of Matthew, and Thomas Aquinas alongside their case law. The same model extends throughout Regent's nine schools, which offer courses like "Redemptive Cinema" and "Church-based Counseling Programs," while infusing standard professional training with insights and injunctions from the Judeo-Christian (read: Christian) tradition.

All of this found on Digby, who says: "I wonder what book in the Bible blesses vote rigging? Did Jesus preach that lying to is a good thing or that ruining someone's reputation in order to cover up ethical misdeeds (and potential crimes) is godly? I hadn't heard that. But then, I don't share the conservative Christian "worldview" so what do I know about morality?"


By fnord12 | March 28, 2007, 2:04 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



A Leftist's Opinion of MoveOn

From American Leftist:

MoveON.org has been one of my personal obssessions, but it is important to understand its centrality in preventing the emergence of an empowered antiwar movement. It has done so by calculated appeals to liberal pragmatism in relation to the electoral process. Sensing opportunity, MoveON.org organized against the invasion of Iraq in late 2002 and early 2003 on the slender pretext that it hadn't been authorized by the UN, as if to suggest that the colonial enterprise would have otherwise been acceptable. It participated in protest marches as part of a broader strategy to exploit antiwar sentiment to expand membership, while simultaneously limiting criticism of the impending conflict to the methodology of approval instead of the more compelling immorality of it.

The Iraqis? They were rarely, if ever, mentioned. Focusing upon the lack of UN authorization enabled grassroots liberals to subsequently support the occupation as questions related to the launching of the war were now considered irrelevant. It was a crude, but necessary finesse. Post-invasion, the Iraqis remained invisible, as the new mantra was Support the Troops.

Iraqis had died, and continued to die, in large numbers, with those still living lacking food, shelter, electricity and an uncontaminated water supply, but the new emphasis was about the extent to which the occupying force lacked sufficient body armour. Visitors to the MoveON.org website in 2004 and 2005 were subjected to a politically expedient fetishization of the military that, after repeated encounters, induced nausea. Removing the troops and liberating the Iraqis from the predations of the occupation was apparently not congruent with the objective of electing more Democrats.

Support the Troops is therefore one of the most insidiously effective advertising slogans in recent memory. It satisfied the legitimate motivation of people to empathize with the plight of soldiers in Iraq, while, paradoxically, enabling Democratic politicians, including liberals, to perpetuate the occupation. Or, to be more precise, people experienced the emotional release of remorse, while ensuring that there was no change in policy. Meanwhile, plans for the privatization of the Iraqi economy, and transnational control over the Iraqi oil supply, elicited little comment, except among global justice advocates. Support the Troops additionally served the essential purpose of concealing bipartisan support for the planned neoliberal transformation of Iraqi society.

The consequences of this success are dire. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, have fled the country and the US military is being destroyed by politicians who refuse to extract it before the command and control structure is shattered. It is a defeat so calamitous, so impossible to acknowledge, that the only solution is to expand the war to Iran and beyond. A more violent confrontation is required to conceal the stain of failure, even if the outcome is likely to be the end of US hegemony. Was it ever possible to peaceably scale back the American Empire? We will never know, but we do know that American liberals are among those responsible for excluding the possibility.

I'm inclined to agree with American Leftist at least partially on this. I have long felt that the Left has been too ready to compromise, too ready to take any scrap they can and herald it as a step in the right direction. The "center" of politics has taken a massive shift to the right in the last twenty years. Instead of these compromises slowly shifting the center back to the middle, it seems more like those on the Left are being pulled to the Right.

It's the mentality that in order to generate the greater consensus, in order to make the idea, bill, meme to succeed, you've got to build compromises into the original proposal. This seems like a stupid way to negotiate. You're already giving away half of your position before you've even sat down at the table.

This latest bill with the non-binding timetable for troop withdrawal is a good example. Instead of Barbara Lee's more aggressive proposal to strictly use funding towards troop withdrawal, many liberals pushed for Pelosi's softer bill. Yes, Pelosi had a better chance of getting hers through, but the idea is to make the other side fight for it. At least a little. It would help me personally shake that "Democrats are weenies" idea.

Also, what's with this "non-binding" crap? If you can't make him stick to it, what's the point in expending all this energy to get it passed? You would gain just as much by taking an add out in the paper.

I'm not sure of MoveOn is the root of all evil, though. I think they believe what they're doing is helping the Left make progress. I'm just not sure if i agree with the strategy.


By min | March 28, 2007, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



3/27/2007

We floated underwater. Oliver - she had been the only one who had reached out to me in friendship. Gazing at Oliver's smiling corpse, i decided that enduring the old woman's petty punishments were nothing if it meant having these three minutes of solitude.


By min | March 28, 2007, 12:49 PM | My Dreams | Comments (1) | Link



Start Again

Due to all the cost of living increases and raises we've given you over the years, we now pay you more than we would have to pay someone new. So, we're just going to get rid of all of you and start fresh.

Circuit City Stores (CC) said Wednesday that it plans to cut costs by laying off 3,400 store associates and hiring lower-paid workers to replace them and by trimming about 130 corporate jobs.

Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 consumer electronics retailer behind Best Buy (BBY), will lay off store workers it said were earning "well above the market-based salary range for their role" and replace them with employees who will be paid at the current market range, the company said in a news release.

"We are taking a number of aggressive actions to improve our cost and expense structure, which will better position us for improved and sustainable returns in today's marketplace," said Philip J. Schoonover, Circuit City's chief executive.

And they wonder why employees don't feel any qualms about calling out "sick" or quitting suddenly to pursue a "better" opportunity. They wonder why we aren't gung ho about our jobs. I dunno. Mebbe is because we can feel the knife twisting in our back already? Like the man said, soup is good food. How does it feel to be a budget cut?


By min | March 28, 2007, 11:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



March 27, 2007

This pretty much answers that

Vader is a sick puppy. You will not see Dr. Doom going around like this:

Update: Oh, yeah, and which school did this guy get his doctorate from?


By fnord12 | March 27, 2007, 2:11 PM | Star Wars | Comments (4) | Link



¿Quien Es Mas Doom?


By fnord12 | March 27, 2007, 2:04 PM | Comics & Star Wars| Link



Maybe you're ok with this

Maybe you don't mind if a city's police department spent a year spying on people all over the country and the world because they planned on peacefully protesting. Maybe you think they're protecting you.

For at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention, teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.
...
In hundreds of reports stamped "N.Y.P.D. Secret," the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show.

These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies. Three New York City elected officials were cited in the reports.

In at least some cases, intelligence on what appeared to be lawful activity was shared with police departments in other cities. A police report on an organization of artists called Bands Against Bush noted that the group was planning concerts on Oct. 11, 2003, in New York, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston. Between musical sets, the report said, there would be political speeches and videos.

"Activists are showing a well-organized network made up of anti-Bush sentiment; the mixing of music and political rhetoric indicates sophisticated organizing skills with a specific agenda," said the report, dated Oct. 9, 2003. "Police departments in above listed areas have been contacted regarding this event."


By fnord12 | March 27, 2007, 1:23 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Go, Sperm, Go!

They always told us only 1 sperm could fertilize 1 egg. Well, not this guy's sperm. Two sperm+1egg=semi-identical twins.

The journal Nature says the twins are identical on their mother's side, but share only half their genes on their father's side.

They are the result of two sperm cells fertilising a single egg, which then divided to form two embryos - and each sperm contributed genes to each child.

Each stage is unlikely, and scientists believe the twins are probably unique.

...

These twins, who were conceived normally, only came to the attention of scientists because one was born with sexually ambiguous genitalia.

The child was discovered to be a hermaphrodite, and has both ovarian and testicular tissue, while the other child is anatomically male.

But genetic tests show both are "chimeras", and have some male cells - which have an X and Y chromosome, and female cells - which have two X chromosomes.

The most likely explanation for how they were formed is that two sperm cells - one with an X chromosome and one with a Y chromosome - fused with a single egg.

They're so lucky the egg formed 2 embryos instead of staying a single embryo which would have resulted in a child with extra chromosomes. That's usually disastrous. I suppose if that did happen, it would mostly likely have self-aborted.


By min | March 27, 2007, 10:24 AM | Science| Link



March 26, 2007

Try Iron Brew

Our new soft drink is specially configured to taste exactly like your least favorite flavor or memory. It lures you in with the smell of bubble gum soda, but once you taste it, look out! min of Somerset, NJ tasted it and said it reminded her of her trip to Ireland. Rod of "Somewhere in the Adirondacks", NY tasted it and said it tasted like a combination of aftershave and vomit. Find out your least favorite flavor or memory. Drink: Iron Brew!


By fnord12 | March 26, 2007, 9:23 AM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link



If they ain't in it, it ain't Doom

Decent fun stupid action movie, but it wasn't Doom as far as i'm concerned.

Also, how do you miss (twice) with the BFG? He only used that gun twice and he missed both times.


By fnord12 | March 26, 2007, 9:17 AM | Movies & Video Games| Link



March 22, 2007

Surely it's a joke

I was reading this post on Tom Brevoort's blog about fan reactions (and Secret Wars!), but this was in the comments:

I hope that you are successful with Steve's Death. I hope you are happy in your smug little world. I for one, have stopped all my comics, wont buy the new Iron man movie I was waiting for, wont play any of the iniative in my MUA [Marvel Ultimate Alliance] game. I am sure you will look at the numbers and smile. But I look at you like I look at Tony Stark now. Your a sucess, but whats that smell.

He's... kidding, right? RIGHT???


By fnord12 | March 22, 2007, 6:11 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday supplemental

Take it to the limit one more time.


By fnord12 | March 22, 2007, 10:15 AM | Music| Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Peace & Love by Camper Van Beethoven

Restless, three days without sleep, his mind wrapped in barely perceptible haze, he continues east, shaking, despite the stuttering convulsions and near death throes of his endearing 1962 Chevrolet. Storm follows him closely as it has for 3 days. In the pouring rain on the long dark highways he sees roadside casualty armadillos on their backs and owls and bats fly out of the his eyes into the blinding horizon.

Despite the solitude of his dear car he feels he is being watched by more than just the curious deer and west Texas highway transients. At dawn, he begins to feel the first nearly imperceptible signs of the drugs taking effect. He crosses the border east into New Mexico. There is now no question in his mind about the flavor of the coffee and the sardonic smile of the crusty over-made waitress. As he's crossing more than 2 states at once, his watch stops. He picks up a hitchhiker, some young lady, but unfortunately, as he's been expecting, his car breaks down in an abandoned shanty town known only as Brubaker.

"Just remember," she says. "I'm holding you responsible for all this." He cringes at the tone of her voice. A quick glance in the rear view mirror reveals to him the vision of the 3rd unattached eyeball. A star of dried cream at the bottom of the Styrofoam cup on the dashboard smiles at him and somehow, in her loneliness and boredom, her twelve-pack dwindling in the midday heat, he forces her into sex.

The Chevrolet temporarily fixed, they drift on and fall upon a small bar in no place specific. Drunk by evening, she complains of morning sickness and by morning has noticeably grown in size. 2 days later, still heading east towards the holy angelic temple he has been envisioning in his sleep, she is 9 months pregnant. Later that day she gives birth to their son.

Born with gingham snakeskin cowboy boots and three umbilical cords he is within hours cursing his parents in some otherworldly alien language. And he mutters in perfect English in his sleep, while sucking his mothers breast, his twisted Utopian visions. She looks at him terrified and says, "Remember, I'm holding you responsible for all of this."

Peace and love
Love and anger
Brotherly love
Brotherly love
I thought I had something to say
But I forgot what it was
I'm gonna try and say it anyway
Too much ginseng
Makes me nervous
Organization
Shortened sounds
Too much ginger
Takes me over
John the baptist
Comes to mind
I've got to drive faster
The road is falling
In front of my eyes
I've got to drive faster
If I want to get home

If I don't look where I'm going
[blah blah blah blah] I'm gonna get [blah]

If I don't look where I'm going
[blah blah blah blah) I'm gonna get [blah]

I've got to drive faster
The road is falling
In front of my eyes
I've got to drive faster
If I want to get home

Too much open space
Makes me nervous
Too much ginseng
A [blah] wide open
Then a [blah blah blah] his face
Then a doctor [blah] fucking open spaces
Give some cowboys some acid
Many [blah]
Makes me nervous
Nothing seems right now
Too many open spaces
Yes wyoming
Makes me nervous
Someone ought to go up to wyoming
And open up some fucking open spaces
And call her some hotel rooms
And look at the turf in the open spaces
Don't say it's fattening
Be careful what you're doing
You can do anything
Yeah you can do anything
I said you can do anything
You don't know what you're doing
Or don't do anything at all
Because there are wide open spaces
[blah blah] and children

[blah blah] horizon

They're on acid
They don't know what they're doing
So they can do anything
I wonder where those cowboys are
I wonder where those cowboys are



By fnord12 | March 22, 2007, 8:45 AM | Music | Comments (3) | Link



March 21, 2007

Why Marvel doesn't take their critics seriously

People are complaining that Ares was making too much as a construction worker and can't Bendis even do basic research?


By fnord12 | March 21, 2007, 11:45 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



March 20, 2007

God help us all

Go watch this movie.


By fnord12 | March 20, 2007, 9:40 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



March 19, 2007

Whoah: mean!

Dean Baker (who is usually much more polite. I guess he really misses Bill Moyers. I do too):

PBS is Too Dumb for Words
I was just watching David Brancaccio on NOW discussing with a guest how it would be desirable to encourage shareholders to take a longterm perspective. What was Mr. Brancaccio's proposal? Eliminate capital gains tax on shares held for more than ten years.

What a fantastic idea!!! Why should anyone expect Bill Gates to pay the same tax rate as someone who cleans toilets for a living or puts out fires. After all, Bill Gates sits on shares of Microsoft -- much more important work.

Of course, if David Brancaccio is smart enough to breath (something that he seemed to be doing), he knows that we could also provide incentives for longterm holdings of stock by taxing short-term holding. In fact, this is exactly what they do in communist England. England imposes a tax of 1.0 percent on every stock sale (0.5 percent paid by the seller and 0.5 percent paid by the seller). This discourages frequent trading without allowing the richest people in the country to get away without paying any taxes.

I don't mind David Brancaccio saying stupid things, but it does piss me off that he does it on PBS. I really don't like paying my tax dollars for such nonsense. Where is Newt Gingrich when we need him?


By fnord12 | March 19, 2007, 6:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



This is why we can't have nice things

Post boxes across the US are to be dressed up as Star Wars robot R2-D2 to celebrate 30 years since the release of the sci-fi series' first outing.
Some 400 boxes will get the new look, including outside Hollywood's Grauman Chinese Theatre, one of first cinemas to screen the film in 1977.

The makeover is part of a post office campaign for the announcement of a surprise stamp on 28 March.

The public have been urged not to tamper with the droid mail collectors.




(BTW, can you believe we still don't have a Star Wars category?)


By fnord12 | March 19, 2007, 5:00 PM | Star Wars & Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link



March 16, 2007

Humanity At Its Finest

Another what's wrong with people moment.

Three care home workers who encouraged residents to fight and racially abuse each other were jailed for six months each today.

Over the course of a year the three systematically preyed on the mentally and physically vulnerable, London's Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

...

Janine Sheff, prosecuting, showed the court some of the mobile phone footage. In one clip, Hall could be seen encouraging a Down's syndrome sufferer to kick a deaf and autistic patient.

The barrister said separate video footage pictured Bailey and Nedd laughing hysterically as they encouraged the Down's syndrome sufferer to call the third woman resident they were supposed to be looking after a "white bitch".

Based on their first names, i think the 3 defendants are women. While cruelty has no gender bias, it is unusual to hear that women are behaving like the neighborhood kids who fed alkaseltzer to the seagulls. Another interesting bit of info in the article was that the single male patient in residence was not abused. They only played their games with the female patients.


By min | March 16, 2007, 12:16 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



March 15, 2007

Sick People

What the hell is wrong with people? Got this from nsxt290:

Two weeks ago, a gift-wrapped box was left at the house Crystal shares with her grandmother. The box had batteries on top, and a note that said "Congratulations Crystal. This side up. Batteries included."

Crystal opened the box and found her dog's head inside. The box also contained Valentine's Day candy.



By min | March 15, 2007, 1:35 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



Quick! We Need A Distraction!

Unknown reporter: "So, Mr. Bush.....about that thing with Alberto Gonzales purging U.S. Attorneys.."

Bush: "Hey! Look over there! We got us a confession from one o' them Number Three guys!"

Unknown reporter: "What? Where?"

As Josh Marshall puts it "9/11 Mastermind who confessed to being mastermind after being captured like five years ago confesses again at Gitmo hearing and now the transcript is released by the Pentagon to get Gonzales off the front pages!"

But he went on to accuse the US of double standards, saying America made an exception of the rule when it killed people in Iraq. "You said we have to do it. We don't like Saddam. But this is the way to deal with Saddam." His conclusion: "Same language you use, I use."

Well, duh. We have bigger guns.


By min | March 15, 2007, 12:10 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Underwater Opera

If they always incorporated dance with opera, i might be persuaded to actually sit thru an entire performance. Mebbe.

Sasha Waltz has now taken the opera Dido and Aeneas, which always had a couple of dance scenes, and expanded it. Each character has a singer and a dancer, forming a kind of duet. That sounds pretty kewl to me.

Waltz has gone a step further, adding a water tank. The stills can be viewd from this page.

Waltz's version of the work, for which she has cast both a dancer and a singer in each main role, opens with dancers bobbing, diving, swimming and gliding their steps in a tank of water. This underwater sequence relates to the libretto of the opera's prologue, for which the original music is lost, in which mythical sea creatures dance as the gods Apollo and Venus look on.

The review in the Guardian seemed to like the water prologue. Another reviewer said the choreography was sadly limited but on the whole an interesting device.

When i look at the stills, all i can think is "I hope they filter that water".


By min | March 15, 2007, 11:27 AM | Music| Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Balls to the Wall by Accept

Too many slaves in this world
Die by torture and pain
Too many people do not see
Theyre killing themselves - going insane

Too many people do not know
Bondage is over the human race
They believe slaves always lose
And this fear keeps them down

Watch the damned (God bless ya)
Theyre gonna break their chains (hey)
No, you cant stop them (God bless ya)
Theyre coming to get you
And then youll get your

Balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall
Youll get your balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall - balls to the wall

You may screw their brains
You may sacrifice them, too
You may mortify their flesh
You may rape them all

One day the tortured stand up
And revolt against the evil
They make you drink your blood
And tear yourself to pieces

You better watch the damned (God bless ya)
Theyre gonna break their chains (hey)
No, you cant stop them (God bless ya)
Theyre coming to get you
And then youll get your

Balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall
Youll get your balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall - balls to the wall

Come on man, lets stand up all over the world
Lets plug a bomb in everyones arse
If they dont keep us alive - were gonna fight for the right

Build a wall with the bodies of the dead - and youre saved
Make the world scared - come on, show me the sign of victory
Sign of victory - sign of victory

You better watch the damned (God bless ya)
Theyre gonna break their chains (hey)
No, you cant stop them (God bless ya)
Theyre coming to get you
And then youll get your

Balls to the wall, man
Balls to the wall



By min | March 15, 2007, 10:56 AM | Music | Comments (1) | Link



March 14, 2007

Bad Loans Come Back To Bite You

Sub-prime loan meltdown, as the headlines say:

Some lenders to the U.S. sub-prime market, which takes in borrowers with poor credit credentials, are being battered by rising defaults and increasing demand by their own lenders to recall soured loans at a loss.

One analyst said Australia's biggest four banks were only marginally exposed to such loans - about 2 to 3 per cent of the $800 billion home-loan market - and would not be concerned.

Burdett Buckeridge & Young banking analyst John Buonaccorsi said there was not much of a sub-prime market in Australia because such customers would not pass credit-scoring tests employed by local banks.

"If you are below a certain level here you are assigned as sub-prime and banks will tell you to go somewhere else," Mr Buonaccorsi said.

Goodness. Imagine that. If you have bad credit, they won't lend you money. Who came up with that crazy idea?

I think it's heartily unfair of anyone to blame the lenders who gave people mortgages they couldn't afford. It's all just shocking, really.


By min | March 14, 2007, 3:34 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link



March 13, 2007

Music Training Makes You A Better Listener

Link

The study, which will appear in the April issue of Nature Neuroscience, is the first to provide concrete evidence that playing a musical instrument significantly enhances the brainstem's sensitivity to speech sounds. This finding has broad implications because it applies to sound encoding skills involved not only in music but also in language.

The findings indicate that experience with music at a young age in effect can "fine-tune" the brain's auditory system. "Increasing music experience appears to benefit all children -- whether musically exceptional or not -- in a wide range of learning activities," says Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory and senior author of the study.

...

The research by co-authors Wong, Kraus, Erika Skoe, Nicole Russo and Tasha Dees represents a new way of defining the relationship between the brainstem -- a lower order brain structure thought to be unchangeable and uninvolved in complex processing -- and the neocortex, a higher order brain structure associated with music, language and other complex processing.
...

The findings also are consistent with studies by Kraus and her research team that have revealed anomalies in brainstem sound encoding in some children with learning disabilities which can be improved by auditory training.

Or you could all just learn some Mandarin. Cantonese might be better. It's got twice as many tonal sounds. Too bad Mandarin's the official language.


By min | March 13, 2007, 2:32 PM | Music & Science | Comments (4) | Link



The Price of Invasion

Michele sent me this link yesterday.

Here's what the face of Bush's War for Oil looks like.

From Nina Berman's Portfolio

I don't think there is anything the White House and the Pentagon can possibly do that could ever give this poor guy back what they took from him. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't spend a lifetime trying.


By min | March 13, 2007, 1:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



March 12, 2007

Who Will Cleanse Our Spirit?

Best thing i've read so far today.

Mayan Indian leaders have vowed to "spiritually cleanse" an ancient site in Guatemala after U.S. President George W. Bush visits during his seven-day, five-nation tour of Latin America.

They're gonna need an army of spiritualists to get that stench out of the White House, that's for sure.

Or they could just blow it up after he leaves and start again.

"Governor Tarkin. I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."


By min | March 12, 2007, 12:33 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Wha-huh?

You know that guy on Law and Order who plays the bobble-head DA's boss? The guy who's only in a couple of scenes, says something to his underlings about making sure they get it right and then is never seen again in the episode? Well, that guy is thinking of running for president in 2008.

Fred Thompson thinks there isn't enough star power in the GOP presidential field, so the actor and ex- Tennessee senator is considering joining the 2008 race.

Thompson, who plays District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC's drama "Law & Order," said Sunday that "I'm giving some thought to it, going to leave the door open" and decide in the coming months.

...

Thompson, 64, said he was pondering a run after former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and other Tennessee Republicans began drumming up support for his possible GOP candidacy, citing his conservative credentials.

On the issues, Thompson said he:

Is "pro-life" and believes federal judges should overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade abortion-rights decision as "bad law and bad medical science."

Opposes gay marriage but would let states decide whether to allow civil unions.

Opposes gun control and praised last week's 2-1 federal appeals decision overturning a long-standing handgun ban. "The court basically said the Constitution means what it says, and I agree with that."

Supports President Bush's decision to increase troops in Iraq. "Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify things. I think we're doing that now," he said.

Would pardon former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. Thompson is a fundraiser for Libby's defense.

Link

I don't know what else to say other than "Oh, just stop it."


By min | March 12, 2007, 8:31 AM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee| Link



March 9, 2007

What kind of message is that for the children?

Strength Level: Arnim Zola possesses the normal human strength of a male athlete in his prime, despite the fact that he does not exercise and is over a half-century-old.

P.S. - Why are my favorite super villains the ones with giant heads?


By fnord12 | March 9, 2007, 4:18 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



March 8, 2007

I'm an X-Man, with the power of Godlessness!

PZ Myers


By fnord12 | March 8, 2007, 6:37 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage & Science| Link



Fwoooom!

Here is our lovely, brand new, uber powerful, and most importantly, fully functional furnace.

It's shiny.


By min | March 8, 2007, 5:19 PM | My stupid life | Comments (5) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

White Room by Cream

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Blackroof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes.
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment.

I'll wait in this place where the sun never shines;
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

You said no strings could secure you at the station.
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows.
I walked into such a sad time at the station.
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning.

I'll wait in the queue when the trains come back;
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves.

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd.
Consolation for the old wound now forgotten.
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
She's just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings.

I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves.


I found this analysis of the lyrics online. I don't know how correct his interpretation is. It sounded good to me. But i'm not the english major. And high school english took away my ability to interpret anything.


By min | March 8, 2007, 8:41 AM | Music| Link



March 7, 2007

Lucky!

NYT:

The New York Police Department has been going fishing. Not content to nab criminals when they break the law on their own, the department has been planting unattended bags in subway stations to see who might take them, at which point waiting officers pounce.

As NY1 News reported last week, 220 people were arrested last year in the sting, known as Operation Lucky Bag.

(Found on This Modern World, where he notes, as the article does, that people might be bringing the bags to the Lost and Found, or home to track down the owners.)


By fnord12 | March 7, 2007, 11:22 AM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other? | Comments (4) | Link



Arrgghhh!!!! There's frozen water falling out of the sky!!

Honestly, people. Haven't you ever seen snow before? You're making us look bad in front of the guy from Quebec.

On the other hand, i'd rather sit in my car and listen to music than be at work anyway.


By fnord12 | March 7, 2007, 10:57 AM | My stupid life| Link



Guilty On 4 of 5 Counts

Libby was found guilty on 4 of the 5 counts. I'm sure FDL's got the full soap operatic version over there, if you want to know every dirty detail.

Or you can get the somewhat drier version here.

Libby's team is going to ask for a new trial. I don't know what grounds they have for that. I'm pretty sure "We didn't want to lose" isn't enough of a reason. I don't think he can use the 11 jurors instead of 12 as leverage because the defense ok'd that decision and in fact said they would prefer to go ahead with 11 instead of seating an alternate. I'm sure FDL's got that speculation going, too. I just don't have the energy to go to their site right now. If you manage, just give me a summary of the bulletpoints. Thanks.


By min | March 7, 2007, 8:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (5) | Link



March 6, 2007

Where Have You Gone, Oh Bastion Of Truth And Light?

Conservapedia continues to be broken. Or just completely gone. How am i gonna read the Atheism page if it won't load? I'm heartbroken.


By min | March 6, 2007, 2:29 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link



March 5, 2007

I Love Christopher Walken

I saw this a looooong time ago on tv and never could find it again. Now, thanks to YouTube, i can watch it over and over and over and over again. He's such a freak. He's the bestest.

Weapon of Choice

Love that YouTube.


By min | March 5, 2007, 4:02 PM | Music | Comments (11) | Link



March 2, 2007

I was promised half naked girls and cute anime chicks.

The Beat:

Looking at this slideshow from a PHILADELPHIA TV station looking at the New York Comic-con you begin to see just why everyone wants to cover it: so pervy photogs can take pictures of half naked girls and cute anime chicks.

I went to look at the slideshow (so i could personally condemn these pervy photographers for being so sleazy and exploitive, of course), but i didn't really see what they were referring to. One girl dressed as Link might qualify as "cute anime chick" and there was a girl dressed as Jabba-slave Leia, but that's 2 pictures out of 30+. Am i missing something?


By fnord12 | March 2, 2007, 4:55 PM | Comics| Link



Marvel Sales

January.


By fnord12 | March 2, 2007, 4:54 PM | Comics| Link



March 1, 2007

Quote Farts

This is a quote fart: ’

We get them when we copy in text from some web pages in place of apostrophes (and sometimes other special characters like long dashes, but that i can deal with).

Even if we copy something from a web page into notepad before copying into the MoveableType editor, we still get them. To remove them, we have to post, and then see if we've generated any quote farts. If we do, we manually hunt for them in our post and replace them with regular apostrophes. Does anyone else experience this/have a better way to deal with them?


By fnord12 | March 1, 2007, 6:25 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link



Musical Perspectives.

So there was a woman in her 70s who was battling cancer and was releasing all these classical piano CDs that everyone thought were just beautiful. And now it has been revealed that they were in fact forgeries of relatively unknown young piano players. It raises questions about how we interperet music:

Yet the Joyce Hatto episode is a stern reminder of the importance of framing and background in criticism. Music isn't just about sound; it is about achievement in a larger human sense. If you think an interpretation is by a 74-year-old pianist at the end of her life, it won't sound quite the same to you as if you think it's by a 24-year-old piano-competition winner who is just starting out. Beyond all the pretty notes, we want creative engagement and communication from music, we want music to be a bridge to another personality. Otherwise, we might as well feed Chopin scores into a computer.

This makes instrumental criticism a tricky business. I'm personally convinced that there is an authentic, objective maturity that I can hear in the later recordings of Rubinstein. This special quality of his is actually in the music, and is not just subjectively derived from seeing the wrinkles in the old man's face. But the Joyce Hatto episode shows that our expectations, our knowledge of a back story, can subtly, or perhaps even crudely, affect our aesthetic response.

I've always argued that an artist's intention and biography is very important to the understanding/enjoyment of a piece of art. I've had lots of disagreements with friends and teachers on this subject. If i listened to those piano recordings and thought that i was listening to the expressions of an old woman fighting cancer, and enjoyed it in that context, now that i find out that they were forgeries, does that mean that the music is no longer good? I would argue yes. Or at the very least i would need to re-evaluate it and determine if it was good for different reasons. Certainly it would no longer be valid to listen to the music and still enjoy it as a portrayal of old age and disease. Some have argued that art can mean whatever you want it to mean, that whatever emotions it evokes in you are valid regardless of the artists intention or the actual meaning of the piece. I say if it's a poem about a boat, it's about a boat.

It's an especially tricky thing when we are talking about "covers" (to use rock terminology) of classical music. You have the original composers intention, and then you have the performer's emoting through the pre-arranged music. I still think the same basic idea is true, however.


By fnord12 | March 1, 2007, 6:05 PM | Music| Link



My beard is growing in sideways

Last month i cut all my hair short, and my beard too, and now it's growing back in.

Except the beard is growing in at a 45 degree angle to my chin.

Isn't that a dwarven (or perhaps viking kitten) curse and/or inverted blessing? ("May your beard never grow sideways?") What did i do to offend?


("Artist's" rendition)

By fnord12 | March 1, 2007, 5:38 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



Purely hypothetical

Dean Baker:

In his testimony before Congressional today, Ben Bernanke reportedly made an effort to sooth uneasy financial markets. For this he was widely applauded by the business press. But is it the Fed's job to be soothing financial markets?

Let's throw out a purely hypothetical scenario. Imagine that the bad news on new home sales, mortgage applications, durable goods orders, and productivity actually translates into an economy that is about go into a recession.

Now let's suppose that the market has two types of investors. The first type are the high rollers. They move in and out of financial assets on a moment's notice. Let's call them "hedge funds." The second type are naive investors. They put money into the stock market at regular intervals and let it sit. We'll call them middle class 401(k) investors.

Okay, now in our hypothetical scenario, because the economy is genuinely facing serious problems, the market is likely to be heading downward in the months ahead. Our hedge fund investors will likely begin to recognize this fact and dump their stock. On the other hand, our middle class 401(k) investors are likely to keep putting new money into the market.

Suppose that Mr. Bernanke recognized that the economy is facing trouble and told Congress that the future looks bleak. The markets would presumably crash, because both the hedge funds and the middle class 401(k) investors would dump their stock. Everyone takes a hit, but the pain would be shared between the hedge funds and the middle class 401(k) investors.

Now, let's suppose that Mr. Bernanke recognizes bad times ahead, but thinks that it is best to try to calm the financial markets, so he tells Congress that the economy is just fine. While this could be sufficient to assuage the middle class 401(k) investors, the assurances may not be sufficient to calm the hedge fund investors. Suppose they offload their stock over the next few weeks.

In this case, Bernanke's soothing words would have the effect of keeping the market high while the hedge fund investors offloaded their holdings. The big losers would end up being the middle class 401(k) investors who keep buying into a sinking market.

In this purely hypothetical scenario, it would not be good for Bernanke to soothe financial markets, unless the goal is to redistribute wealth from middle class 401(k) investors to hedge funds. While this scenario may bear no relationship to the actual situation, it is not always true that the Fed should be trying to stabilize financial markets. The press could ask some questions along these lines, instead of just assuming that stable financial markets are always good.


By fnord12 | March 1, 2007, 5:36 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
How soft your fields so green,
Can whisper tales of gore,
Of how we calmed the tides of war.
We are your overlords.

On we sweep with threshing oar,
Our only goal will be the western shore.

So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
For peace and trust can win the day
Despite of all your losing.


By min | March 1, 2007, 9:17 AM | Music | Comments (5) | Link



Is It Warm In Portland?

Cause we ain't got no heat.


By min | March 1, 2007, 8:40 AM | My stupid life | Comments (8) | Link



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