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April 30, 2007

Speed Reviews

Mighty Avengers - very cool. I'm liking the two timelines and the reference-heavy story line. And i'm happy to see Ultron in full Oedipus mode.

Daredevil - well-written and fun, even if it feels like its the 10th time i've seen the "is gladiator guilty?" storyline.

Fantastic Four - great. We've known that Black Panther has a "Galactus contingency plan" since the Priest run; now we get to see what it is. This book is well written, funny, well paced and just plain good. Glad to see McDuffie back at Marvel and in such a big way. But i'll be a little disappointed if Gravity's more-or-less unique powers get replaced with more generic "protector of the universe" type powers. And why are these big floating planet-heads always picking blond haired, blue-eyed guys to be protectors of the universe?


By fnord12 | April 30, 2007, 1:55 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Marvel Monthly Sales

Also from P O'B, here's Marvel's sales for March.


By fnord12 | April 30, 2007, 1:54 PM | Comics | Comments (16) | Link



Agree or Disagree?

Paul O'Brien:

I'd never heard of a grindhouse before, and nor have most other people. With scratches, missing reels, fake trailers and other assorted gimmickry, Tarantino and Rodriguez have produced a nostalgic tribute to something for which virtually nobody has any nostalgia, outside the most hardcore film geeks. You can't sell a film on that basis.

Tarantino's always been big on film references, or the outright recycling of ideas from other people's films. But in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, he uses them to tell a story. The references and homages in those films are never allowed to overshadow the main point of the film. They're either easter eggs, or source material where Tarantino has found a good plot point or storytelling idea that he decides to recycle. This is fine.

Kill Bill, on the other hand, I have real trouble with. It's still got a lot going for it, but watching that film, I'm left with the impression that Quentin Tarantino wants to show me his video collection for three hours, and he's going to hit me repeatedly with a sledgehammer until I agree that it's just fantastic. Kill Bill isn't much good, judged as a story. It doesn't have the great dialogue of the earlier films. It works as a visual spectacle, but that's about it, unless you find the mere quoting of films to be an absolutely thrilling way to spend an evening. I don't much like it.

Grindhouse sounds alarmingly like more of the same, only much, much worse. I can't honestly say I've got the slightest interest in seeing it. He got away with this once with Kill Bill, but gimmicky homages are a dead end in the long run.


By fnord12 | April 30, 2007, 1:53 PM | Movies | Comments (6) | Link



April 27, 2007

Due Process Too Bothersome

It's amazing that what with Gonzales getting his feet put to the coals over the firing of the U.S. Attorneys, the Justice Department has the balls to demand anything at all. I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but i can't help being amazed at the amount of shamelessness these people have.

Lawyers for some of the 385 prisoners still at the US's Guantanamo prison have condemned a Justice Dept. request for tighter restrictions on client visits. The lawyers say their jobs are already near-impossible and that claims they are security threats and inappropriately pass information to media are really attempts to further diminish the already severely limited scrutiny Guantanamo receives. They say prisoner unrest is in reaction to jail conditions, not their instigation, and that all of their information goes through military censors.

Under the proposals, filed earlier this month in Washington DC, lawyers would be restricted to just 3 visits with an existing client, correspondence they send to their clients would be vetted by military intelligence officers and government officials would be empowered to prevent lawyers from having access to secret evidence used by military tribunals to decide whether the prisoners were "enemy combatants".

Link

Meanwhile, a long running hunger strike protesting conditions in the prison is still going on at Gitmo. The inmates have been force-fed thru their noses with tubes, which i've read is quite painful and really just another form of torture.

Let's re-state that these are people who have been locked up in Guantanamo, or some other military prison, for years, with no charges brought against them and no trial. Yet the military insists they're so dangerous and conspired agaist the U.S. Well, if they did, let's hear the evidence and get them tried and convicted. Unless, you're not done torturing them for a forced confession. The Spanish Inquisition wasn't really that long ago, was it?


By min | April 27, 2007, 3:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 26, 2007

Random Lyrics Thursday

Warrior in Woolworth's by X-Ray Spex

Warrior in Woolworth's
Humble he may seem
Behind his servile innocence
He plots and he schemes

He's the rebel on the underground
She's the rebel of the modern town
He's the rebel on the underground
She's the rebel of the modern town

Warrior in Woolworth's
His roots are in today
Doesn't know no history
He threw the past away

Warrior in Woolworth's
Dips on friday nights
Youths meet at Stockwell Tube
Weapons rule their lives



By min | April 26, 2007, 11:43 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Stupider Than An American - Almost

My lovely sister sent this to me today.

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles.

Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each.

...

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.

She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

...

One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

Let's just say, for argument's sake, that you have no clue what a sheep looks like. How do you not know what a dog is supposed to look like? And that it doesn't have hooves?!

I say "almost" because i think the stupid things we've done and believed over time has accumulated and far surpasses even this idiocy. Let's not forget the cashier who accepted a $200 bill with Bush's face on it. Or, WMD. Now, that's a good one.

Update:


By min | April 26, 2007, 11:36 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (6) | Link



We Are Dancing In The Square

The French can make anything sound pretty. Even German.


By min | April 26, 2007, 8:37 AM | Music & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



April 25, 2007

F*$#ed Up S@%t

What the hell is wrong with people that after all these years after they figured out that smoking during pregnancy causes developmental and health problems pregnant women are still smoking?

While pregnancy may be considered an effective motivator for smoking cessation, results of a new study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health indicate that pregnant U.S. women commonly smoke, placing themselves and their unborn children at risk for health and developmental complications.
...
The data show that almost 22 percent of these women smoked cigarettes and more than 10 percent were nicotine dependent.

Now you know why the younger generation seems so stupid. They had stupid parents.

I get that quitting is hard for most people. If you can't manage to quit, don't get pregnant. It's pretty selfish to know you can't stop smoking but insist on having a baby anyway. It's fine to inflict it on yourself, but not fair to the baby. And if you're that selfish, wtf are you doing having kids? Birth control in the public water supply. Please.

And this i got this from nsxt290:

Man's best friend may have a new best friend after Eli Lilly and Co. won U.S. approval to sell its former blockbuster antidepressant Prozac to treat misbehaving mutts.

The drug, repackaged into a chewable, beef-flavored tablet to be called Reconcile, was officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs in conjunction with behavior modification training, the drug maker said on Wednesday.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Beef-flavored treatment for your pet's separation anxiety. If you sedate them, they won't tear up your bed sheets and poop in your shoes. Brilliant.

I hate people.


By min | April 25, 2007, 3:26 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



Just In Time For Summer

Now that it's warm out and the sun sets later, people are starting to break out the bbq grills. Well, here's a wet blanket for ya.

This class of toxins, called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), are absorbed into the body through the consumption of grilled, fried, or broiled animal products, such as meats and cheeses. AGEs, which are also produced when food products are sterilized and pasteurized, have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, vascular and kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease.
...
Much to the researchers' surprise, the study also showed that AGE levels could be very high in young healthy people. In fact, high AGE levels found in some healthy adults in this study were on par with AGE levels observed in diabetic patients in their earlier studies. The fact that healthy adults had levels similar to those seen in diabetic patients may suggest that early and prolonged exposure to these substances in the diet could accelerate the onset of diseases. Dr. Vlassara notes that the availability and consumption of AGE-rich foods is high and correlates with rising rates of diabetes and heart disease.

"Excessive intake of fried, broiled, and grilled foods can overload the body's natural capacity to remove AGEs," Dr. Vlassara notes, "so they accumulate in our tissues, and take over the body's own built-in defenses, pushing them toward a state of inflammation. Over time, this can precipitate disease or early aging." Once AGEs enter the body, it becomes more difficult to get them out, especially as people age.

It wasn't bad enough that getting a greasy burger or ribs would clog your arteries and kill you that way. Now it's got to give you diabetes and Alzheimer's, too. Nice.

One way to lower your AGE intake? Steam, boil, and stew your food. Who would have thought the Irish and English would have something to teach us about cuisine?

Lucky for you, all i grill are non-animal products. You're so welcome.


By min | April 25, 2007, 12:19 PM | Science | Comments (3) | Link



Egg Which Moves Itself And Burns

I was watching the History channel last night. The program was Ancient Discoveries: Machines of the East. It rewled. It was all about these amazing machines that were built in the 13th century. Water wheels, time telling devices that could be used anywhere, fireproof clothing, a clock that's almost like a perpetual motion machine. The trebuchet! I love the trebuchet.

But the most awesome thing they invented was a torpedo. It was previously thought that torpedoes weren't used until the 1800s but in fact the Muslims had created a device that is pretty much a torpedo. They called it the "egg which moves itself and burns".

Also reported by Partington [3] "Hassan Al-Rammah describes various kinds of incendiary arrows and lances and describes and illustrates what has been supposed to be a torpedo. This is called 'the egg, which moves itself and burns' and the illustration and text suggest at least that it was intended to move on the surface of water. Two sheet iron pans were fastened together and made tight by felt; the flattened pear-shaped vessel was filled with "naphtha, metal filings, and good mixtures (probably containing saltpetre), and the apparatus was provided with two rods (as a rudder?) and propelled by a large rocket".

Link

I wish i could find the computer simulation of the torpedo in action that the History channel used. Here's a picture of what it might have looked like, at any rate.

They got a model builder to make a scale model based on the notes they found. He tested it, and it really did work. They would use it in naval warfare, basically. The front end has a pointed shaft which punctures the hull of a ship on impact. Then it explodes. I don't know why they never did stuff like that in school. Physics would have been way more exciting if we went out to lakes to blow shit up.

I don't know how engineers from the 13th century compare to modern day engineers, but i do know that i've yet to see a civil engineer design a stormwater system that can handle 2 days of rain without flooding.

Watching stuff like this always makes me want to be an engineer again. But then i remember that you don't actually get to do this stuff in your job. Also, i'm a slacker.


By min | April 25, 2007, 9:59 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



April 23, 2007

Movie Hulk Gray....Mebbe

starfaith IM'd me this morning with the latest Hulk movie tidbit. The rumor being circulated is that he might be gray this time round.

During the interview when asked about Incredible Hulk and if they would use any CGI from the first film, Avi responded with:
"None, no. It's a new Hulk, new direction, new size, new color, new attitude. Anything that was done before is not in this movie. It's a very different kind of Hulk. It's more of a love story, it's more of a heroic Hulk. It's a kind of Hulk we loved in the show, so it's kind of more influenced by the show than anything else. It's very human, very touching, and huge action."

It's not much to go on. He could just have been tossing out words with "new" in front of them to stress how much this movie will not be like the Ang Lee one (sorry, Ang Lee. i really really like your chinese language films and wish you would make more of those instead). The color might not really be all that new. Perhaps a different shade of green...

And even if he is gray, i don't think they're talking about Gray Hulk considering Avi Arad described his as being the "heroic Hulk". I think we all know that Gray Hulk was not anything close to heroic. Plus, to couple that "heroic" line with "a kind of Hulk we loved in the show" and you're definitely not talking Gray Hulk.

I hope they don't talk about this movie so much that i get sick of it before it even comes out like i'm already sick of Spider-man 3. Ugh.


By min | April 23, 2007, 1:35 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (3) | Link



April 22, 2007

The latest in D&D recaps

Recap #8


By fnord12 | April 22, 2007, 10:40 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



April 20, 2007

Since i'm linking to things...

If you haven't seen this yet, now's the time. Halo's Master Chief vs. Samus from Metroid. I got bored during the middle but it is worth watching to the end (including past the credits) as things get... interesting.


By fnord12 | April 20, 2007, 1:47 PM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



Nutmeg is how Captain America goes down

Also from Joshua: Here's someone who actually takes the time to actually play with his toys.


By fnord12 | April 20, 2007, 1:43 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Joshua delivers teh awesomeness

Even though the white board with gridlines is working out pretty well, these are still really cool. Don't be surprised if i wind up with a couple of these kits, that's all i'm saying.


By fnord12 | April 20, 2007, 1:37 PM | D&D | Comments (2) | Link



Bees Disappearing

Joshua'll be happy.

Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent.

According to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, bees are vanishing across a total of 22 states, and for the time being no one really knows why.

...

The situation is so bad, that beekeepers are now calling for some kind of government intervention, warning the flight of the bees could be catastrophic for crop growers.

Domestic bees are essential for pollinating some 90 varieties of vegetables and fruits, such as apples, avocados, and blueberries and cherries.

"The pollination work of honey bees increases the yield and quality of United States crops by approximately 15 billion dollars annually including six billion in California," Brandi said.

California's almond industry alone contributes two billion dollars to the local economy, and depends on 1.4 million bees which are brought from around the US every year to help pollinate the trees, he added.

...

In cases of colony collapse disorder, flourishing hives are suddenly depopulated leaving few, if any, surviving bees behind.

The queen bee, which is the only one in the hive allowed to reproduce, is found with just a handful of young worker bees and a reserve of food.

Curiously though no dead bees are found either inside or outside the hive.

The fact that other bees or parasites seem to shun the emptied hives raises suspicions that some kind of toxin or chemical is keeping the insects away, Cox-Foster said.

Those bees found in such devastated colonies also all seem to be infected with multiple micro-organisms, many of which are known to be behind stress-related illness in bees.

Scientists working to unravel the mysteries behind CCD believe a new pathogen may be the cause, or a new kind of chemical product which could be weakening the insects' immune systems.

The finger of suspicion is being pointed at agriculture pesticides such as the widely-used neonicotinoides, which are already known to be poisonous to bees.

Another theory out there is cell phones. It's possible that cell phone radiation affects the bees' ability to navigate. They get lost and can't find their way back to their hive.

Every spring and summer we get mebbe one or two bumblebees visiting our flowers (don't recall seeing honeybees). They're really cute. Big and fat and fuzzy. And i'm always concerned for them when i see wasps or yellow jackets around. Wasps and yellow jackets are super aggressive and there seem to be so few bees around as it is, i'm afraid soon the more aggressive insects will chase them all away or kill them off. Now i have to be concerned that they can't find their way home either.


By min | April 20, 2007, 11:37 AM | Science | Comments (2) | Link



April 19, 2007

Random Lyrics Thursday

Space Dog by Tori Amos

Way to go Mr. Microphone
Show us all what you don't know
Centuries secret societies
He's our commander still
Space Dog

So sure we were on something
Your feet are finally on the ground
He said so sure
We were on something
Your feet are just on the ground girl

Rain and snow our engines have been receiving
Your eager call there's colonel Dirtyfishydishcloth
He'll distract her good don't worry so

And to the one you thought was on your side
She can't understand she truly believes the lie

Lemon Pie
He's coming through
Our commander still
Space Dog
Lines secure
Space Dog

Deck the halls I"m young again
I'm you again
Racing turtles
The grapefruit is winning
Seems I keep getting this story twisted
So where's Neil when you need him
Deck the halls it's you again
It's you again
Somewhere someone must know the ending
Is she still pissing in the river
Now heard she'd gone
Moved into a trailer park

So sure we were on something
(So sure those girls now are in the Navy)
Your feet are finally on the ground
(those bombs, our friends, can't even hurt you now)
He said so sure we were on something
(and hold those tears cause they're still on your side)
Your feet are just on the ground girl
(don't hear the dogs barking)
So sure we were on something
(Don't say you know we've gone, Andromeda)
Your feet are finally on the ground
(stood with those girls before)
He said so sure we were on something
(the hair in pairs it just got nasty)
Your feet are just on the ground girl
(and now those girls are gone)


By fnord12 | April 19, 2007, 9:33 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Dear Chinese Restaurants

No one - and i really mean no one - likes water chestnuts. Sure, some people tolerate them or don't mind picking them out, but many loathe them and no one actually likes them. I just thought you should know.


By fnord12 | April 19, 2007, 9:28 AM | My stupid life | Comments (5) | Link



April 18, 2007

My goodness, someone is feeling inadequate

Poor guy.

Whatever you do, don't tell him about this. It's all he's got left.


By fnord12 | April 18, 2007, 1:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



Sega Making Marvel Games

Sega has made a deal with Marvel to create games based on Thor, Hulk, and Capt. America. They've already had a deal to make an Iron Man game. The Iron Man movie comes out in May 2008, Hulk in June 2008. Sega plans on having the titles ready to launch at about the same time.

The article goes on to mention Sega's past "failures" with the Saturn and Dreamcast and Sega Sports (isn't that the game adam loves so much?) and how it's a switch that Sega is going with licensed material instead of their usual strategy for making original content.

It also brings up how EA usually does licensed stuff like Harry Potter and Superman and LOTR. Having seen bits of these games in commercials, i have to say, i hope Sega does a much better job than EA did because those games looked awful. Marvel video games in the past have been pretty good. Marvel vs Capcom comes to mind for one. And recently, Ultimate Alliance. Let's hope Sega doesn't mess things up.


By min | April 18, 2007, 11:23 AM | Comics & Video Games | Comments (2) | Link



April 17, 2007

Nawt-un!

My lovely sister just informed me that Ed Norton will be playing Banner in the new Hulk movie.

Norton, who recently starred in The Illusionist, will take over the role from Munich star Eric Bana, Marvel Studios has confirmed.

The firm has also confirmed the movie, to be released on 13 June 2008, will be directed by Louis Leterrier whose credits include The Transporter.

...

The new version of Hulk will be less serious than the last and more in tune with the comic book series, according to Marvel.

The film will focus on Hulk alter-ego Bruce Banner, who is on the run, and his efforts to cure the condition which transforms him into the green monster.

The scriptwriter is Zak Penn, who penned the X-Men sequels.

I don't actually recall the first movie being serious. Although, we did watch it almost entirely in fast forward, so it's possible we missed out on all the seriousness. However, I'm hoping that "serious" is a euphemism for "god awful".

We liked the X-Men sequels well enough. The Transporter was light-hearted fun for the whole family. It could work. Although, I'm having some trouble picturing Edward Norton huge, green, and wearing purple pants.

Speaking of purple pants, you know what the favored attire of Fin Fang Foom is? Purple diapers.


By min | April 17, 2007, 1:54 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (3) | Link



April 16, 2007

I Don't Understand

The body of an elderly male was pulled from a rotting pile of debris in a cluttered home a day after an 85-year-old woman was found, alive, trapped there under mounds of garbage.

The man, whose name was not released, was found after officials resumed a search of the house on Long Island, just east of New York City. Debris mixed with human and animal waste was piled high in every room, some all the way to the ceiling.

Helen Bushwick was found Thursday evening, located by her feet and her moans, when volunteer firefighters responded to the two-story house, in a tidy upper- middle-class neighborhood, after relatives told police they could not reach her.

...

Bushwick was taken to Franklin Medical Center where she was admitted with dehydration. Officials were not sure how long they had been trapped, but neighbors said they last saw them about a week ago.

"A six-foot pile of rubbish collapsed on her and trapped her in there," Erik Kinney, a volunteer firefighter, said of Bushwick. Six feet is about 185 centimeters.

There was garbage -- "cans, boxes, clothing, papers, whatever you can collect in every room, some spots to the ceiling, some three feet to the ceiling," Kenney said. "Feces -- raccoon, possum and human" were found in buckets and in the trash.

"The stench was very strong, as you can imagine," he added.

The house will be boarded up, and the woman's relatives will be allowed to go through the contents. Afterward, the buildings department will assess whether the structure is sound.

This article just raises more questions than it answers. Why was there feces and garbage piled 6 ft high in this woman's house? If she had relatives who were concerned enough to call the fire department after not being able to reach her, how is it that they didn't know she was living in these conditions? How could anyone living next door to her not have complained to the health department about the smell?

And what NY firefighter uses the word "rubbish"?


By min | April 16, 2007, 12:10 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



Speed reviews

Iron Man - i like the idea of someone providing all these unrelated terrorist groups with bizarre high-tech gear, and it's cool that they're bringing the Mandarin back, but what i really liked was watching Tony keep pushing off the meetings and then finding out it was because he couldn't face the family of dead SHIELD agents. I especially liked Dum Dum's observation that Stark runs SHIELD like he runs a corporation and it's been working except when it's a military organization, people die. That's high quality stuff and i was surprised to find it in what's felt like a mediocre book so far.

Punisher - good concept of people taking up and misinterpreting Captain America's mantle, but the pacing sure could pick up. The first half - SHIELD tries to capture the Punisher but fails - didn't need to take up the majority of the book.

Black Panther - ugh, something about the dialogue just doesn't work for me. i guess i'm used to Priest's BP so this guy sounds way too casual, but this may actually be closer to the Roy Thomas BP in the Avengers. This was OK but i don't need it going forward. The bit with the alien bugs in the beginning was pretty funny though, and i'd like the political stuff if it was delivered a little differently.

Avengers - really cool. I like the two timelines catching up with each other and the idea of these Avengers being on the run is nice. Dr. Strange is a badass. It feels a little out of synch to see Brother Voodoo show up here in such a different context than in Black Panther, but that's no big deal. The art is growing on me, too.


By fnord12 | April 16, 2007, 11:50 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



April 12, 2007

It's Ok

I just want you to know, i checked all the blogs and nothing happened today that you need to be outraged about. So feel free to just relax and play a video game or something.


By fnord12 | April 12, 2007, 5:06 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



They Think Of EVERYTHING!

E-VER-Y-THING! Hard boiled egg molds! It's brilliant! Who knew you could mold your hard boiled eggs? The Japanese, that's who!

I love bento accessories.


By min | April 12, 2007, 1:19 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Only A Pawn In Their Game by Bob Dylan

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers' blood.
A finger fired the trigger to his name.
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man's brain
But he can't be blamed
He's only a pawn in their game.

A South politician preaches to the poor white man,
"You got more than the blacks, don't complain.
You're better than them, you been born with white skin," they explain.
And the Negro's name
Is used it is plain
For the politician's gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game.

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid,
And the marshals and cops get the same,
But the poor white man's used in the hands of them all like a tool.
He's taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
'Bout the shape that he's in
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game.

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks,
And the hoof beats pound in his brain.
And he's taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide 'neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain't got no name
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught.
They lowered him down as a king.
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He'll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game.


By fnord12 | April 12, 2007, 9:37 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



April 10, 2007

Hey Peter Sanderson, keep your Elder God/Pokemon hate to yourself

Marvel continuity historian Peter Sanderson, describing his experience at comic-con:

High overhead still floated the malevolent elder god Cthulhu in his guise as a balloon of Pikachu, draining America's youth of their life energies and taste in cartoon art.

Earlier:

One Comic-Con landmark that was hard to miss was the unearthly, unspeakable menace of H. P. Lovecraft's elder god Cthulhu, which hovered above the heads of unsuspecting convention attendees, and was once again disguised as a giant version of Pikachu from Pokemon. Don't these fans realize that the reason that Cthulhu/Pikachu wears that blissed-out smile is that he is just about to suck out their brains? Can anyone stop his march to world domination?

Consider Pikachu's latest triumph. Perusing the current schedule for Boomerang, Cartoon Network's sister cable network, to which it has banished 20th century animation, I cannot find classic Looney Tunes except for most episodes of the revived anthology series Toon Heads. But Boomerang is now doing hour-long blocks of Pokemon. Could any of us have imagined a day would come when there was no Bugs Bunny show on daily television? Does it even make sense that Warners would drop such a valuable property from its TV networks, especially from a channel that doesn't have commercials and hence presumably need not cater to current fads? Grateful as I am for the 1990s Batman episodes on Boomerang, will the network eventually become so crammed with retired series from Kids WB and Cartoon Network that Warner/Turner will have to found yet another new network for classic theatrical cartoons? Or should TCM just expand its Cartoon Alley schedule? Or is Warners' current attitude, "Let 'em eat DVDs"? (And will a new generation buy Looney Tunes DVDs if they haven't seen samples of the cartoons on television?)

Damn! If only Pikachu/Cthulhu could meet the fate he so richly deserves! Little did I know on Thursday that before Comic-Con ended, I would see justice served.


By fnord12 | April 10, 2007, 5:12 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



April 9, 2007

Have you been in any peace marches?

Here, by way of TPM.

When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk.
...

I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 2:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



"Life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us"

Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post (thanks, julia). They got Joshua Bell, one of the world's best violinists, to play incognito in a metro station during rush hour to see how people would react.

His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?
...
Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.

A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

Things never got much better. In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

Now, fnord12 would point out the elitist subtext that goes on throughout this article. The not quite said opinion that these people rushing by just weren't cultured enough to know they were in the presence of greatness. It is certainly hinted at by phrases such as the one describing this particular metro station as being "more plebeian than most". Or how about the premise of the experiment: would ordinary people recognize genius? It even states that you shouldn't be too quick to "label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs," as if this would be the default reason for people not recognizing the rare treat they were being exposed to. During rush hour.

It's definitely there. I can't argue with him about that. But i feel that the writer redeems himself in the rest of the article. I feel that although this is the first explanation they come up with, they come to realize that it's not that people are "uncultured" or "unsophisticated boobs" but that they are busy and rushed and have no time to take notice of the beauty around them.

First, he brings up a very important point. Context.

"Let's say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It's a $5 million painting. And it's one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: 'Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.'"
...
In his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Kant argued that one's ability to appreciate beauty is related to one's ability to make moral judgments. But there was a caveat. Paul Guyer of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America's most prominent Kantian scholars, says the 18th-century German philosopher felt that to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal.

"Optimal," Guyer said, "doesn't mean heading to work, focusing on your report to the boss, maybe your shoes don't fit right."

He also gives an example of what really is going on in people's minds when they're trying to get to work on time.

"I had a time crunch," recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. "I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement."

This is prolly typical for most people. They haven't got time to stop and listen to music no matter how beautiful. It's not about how cultural they are, it's about the daily grind. It's about how our society is structured in such a way that we have no choice but to focus on rushing from daycare to work back to daycare to home to extracurricular activities then back home again to collapse before tomorrow's routine starts. It's about how this ridiculous way of life chokes the poetry out of us. It's consumerism pushed on us to keep us numb to the fact that insanity of 9-hr/day jobs plus commute is depressing.

A hundred feet away, across the arcade, was the lottery line, sometimes five or six people long. They had a much better view of Bell than Tindley did, if they had just turned around. But no one did. Not in the entire 43 minutes. They just shuffled forward toward that machine spitting out numbers. Eyes on the prize.

Happiness is only a few lucky numbers away! Don't stop now!

Fnord12 says i see this because i'm sympathetic to this idea. But it's not exactly the message the people at the Washington Post got.

This article just misses the mark of total redemption. They understand that people are missing out on life because they're too busy to take the time out to appreciate the beauty around them. What they don't get is that people are too busy not by choice but by necessity. If you've got the good paying job, you're prolly expected to put in 50 hours a week. If you've got the crappy paying job, you're prolly working 2 jobs to make ends meet. And this on top of any family obligations and commuting. So what little time is left after that is most likely spent on housekeeping and sleep, not attending $1000 concerts.

In 2 places, there's mention of how it would be different in another country. A crowd would stop to listen. More people would recognize the person playing. This isn't because there's something wrong with the people here. There's something wrong with the structure of our society.


By min | April 9, 2007, 1:19 PM | Music | Comments (2) | Link



More alarmists

LA Times:

The driest periods of the last century - the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the droughts of the 1950s - may become the norm in the Southwest United States within decades because of global warming, according to a study released Thursday.

The research suggests that the transformation may already be underway. Much of the region has been in a severe drought since 2000, which the study's analysis of computer climate models shows as the beginning of a long dry period.

The study, published online in the journal Science, predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest - one of the fastest-growing regions in the nation.

The data tell "a story which is pretty darn scary and very strong," said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the study.

Richard Seager, a research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and the lead author of the study, said the changes would force an adjustment to the social and economic order from Colorado to California.

"There are going to be some tough decisions on how to allocate water," he said. "Is it going to be the cities, or is it going to be agriculture?"

Seager said the projections, based on 19 computer models, showed a surprising level of agreement. "There is only one model that does not have a drying trend," he said.

Philip Mote, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study, added, "There is a convergence of the models that is very strong and very worrisome."

...

For the U.S., the biggest problem would be water shortages. The seven Colorado River Basin states - Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California - would battle each other for diminished river flows.

Mexico, which has a share of the Colorado River under a 1944 treaty and has complained of U.S. diversions in the past, would join the struggle.

Inevitably, water would be reallocated from agriculture, which uses most of the West's supply, to urban users, drying up farms. California would come under pressure to build desalination plants on the coast, despite environmental concerns.

"This is a situation that is going to cause water wars," said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

"If there's not enough water to meet everybody's allocation, how do you divide it up?"

Officials from seven states recently forged an agreement on the current drought, which has left the Colorado River's big reservoirs - Lake Powell and Lake Mead - about half-empty. Without some very wet years, federal water managers say, Lake Mead may never refill.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (8) | Link



You will believe what we say because we are ABC news

This is worth sitting through the "free pass" ad to read.

Key excerpt:

In response to my central point -- that a story of this magnitude and potential impact should not be passed on without at least some information enabling an assessment of the credibility of the sources (or, at the very least, should include an explanation as to why such information was being concealed) -- Schneider's response was that there is a way for the reader to assess the credibility of the story. Namely, because ABC News and the reporters in question have "proven over a long period of time" that they are "very reliable" (Brian Ross won a Peabody Award), the fact that they have assessed this story as credible is, by itself, sufficient to render it newsworthy

This is the same shit that got us into the Iraq invasion.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 12:59 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Tai Chi Protects Against Shingles

The Chinese art of tai chi appears to protect against shingles as efficiently as a vaccine against varicella zoster and even augment the immunity conferred by the vaccine.

In a controlled study of adults vaccinated against varicella zoster virus, those who had earlier been assigned to perform a westernized version of tai chi exercises had significantly higher levels of vaccine-stimulated cell-mediated immunity than did controls, found Michael R. Irwin, M.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and colleagues at UC San Diego.

And even before they were vaccinated, tai chi alone helped those who practiced it to mount an immune response to varicella zoster virus comparable to that of patients half their age, the investigators reported in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Link

If you're ever in Chinatown early in the morning, you'll see an army of senior citizens in the park. Some of them will be doing tai chi. Some of them will be doing some other crazy Chinese exercises that i've seen my grandparents do. I don't know what these exercises are. I don't know where they learned it. It seems like another one of those things that all old Chinese people just know to do. Considering how spry they all seem to be, i think they're on to something.

Now, about tai chi. I like tai chi. I like the flow of movement, i like the balance required to do the form, i like that you need to be able to move different parts of your body in different directions and sometimes at different speeds. But it's not for everyone. It takes a long time to learn because for most people, it's not usual to need that much control over your body parts just to get by in your daily life. This alone is often very frustrating for many people. And because it's so low impact, you aren't going to get that immediate confirmation that you've done something. You aren't going to experience that muscle soreness that you would if you lifted weights or biked. It's going to seem like a waste of time with no measurable results.

There are benefits, though. It's just that it takes a while to see them. And you really need to do the tai chi a few times a week to truly benefit. Doing the form on and off as your time allows isn't going to get you anything. But if you do have the patience to learn the entire form and take the time to practice it daily, you will start to see differences. Physically, you will have better balance, better flexibility. You may even find that you recover from illnesses and physical injury more quickly than you did before. Psychologically, you will feel more energized, less stressed.

I confess, i'm a terrible student. I am one of those once-a-weekers. Except when i'm on vacation. Then i do it everyday, and it's great. It's especially great because then i get to do my tai chi on the beach next to a lake. If you ever want to test your balance, try pivoting on one leg in the sand.

That's my tai chi endorsement. Anybody interested in learning, my teacher teaches for free. Every Monday at 6:30pm.


By min | April 9, 2007, 11:57 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Wondermark

Let it be known that i have found these comic strips funny. Not in a particularly subversive or political or extraordinary way. They're just traditional funny comic strips. Like "I wish comic strips in newspapers were funny like this".


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 11:36 AM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link



Quick and dirty comic reviews

I thought Omega Flight was great but the pace needs to pick up if it's gonna be a 5 issue mini. I knew i loved the art as soon as i saw Sasquatch.

The first Annhilation: Heralds story confused me (am i supposed to remember these Centurians from Annihilation? i don't.) min pointed out a story-telling flaw in the art too - i think over all it was just rushed and hard to follow. And the second one i liked but i thought it wrapped up these great new menaces Giffen created way too easily. I've been having second thoughts about not getting Nova/Annhilation II. I hear Nova's gonna be on Earth for a bit and react to post-Civil War. That sounds interesting. Hmmmmmmmm.

Iron Fist was good but maybe just a little bit too much history and not enough story? You know these guys love their comic books if they're bringing back the Steel Serpent which is nice, but it was a little overwhelming jumping from all these different character's (revised?) origins. it'll probably read better altogether. I'm a little wary that they're gonna give Iron Fist a major power up (showing that other IFs could "shoot" their chi, for example), but we'll see how that goes.

Runaways - good, funny, etc. I just feel like i'm missing something having not read Runaways/Young Avengers Civil War and wondering if i should get it even though reviews have not been stellar.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2007, 10:44 AM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link



April 6, 2007

*Sniffle*

Scientists found that children who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of developing hay fever.
...
About 30% of children have allergies, of which half should have symptoms. However, in Crete 30% did have allergies but virtually none of them exhibited symptoms, such as asthma, runny nose and itchy eyes. This anomaly is virtually unheard of, said Paul Cullinan, U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute, one of the authors of the study.

Nearly all the children in the study ate fresh tomatoes and several types of fruit at least weekly, while over half of them consumed them daily. Most of the children ate nuts regularly.

Link

It always comes back to fruits and nuts, doesn't it?


By min | April 6, 2007, 1:28 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Enough with the unlockables

I agree with the overall sentiment in this editorial if not all the specific points (and he does a terrible job of defending himself in the comments). I am tired of having to earn things in the single player mode in order to play them in multiplayer. It always results in one person being so much better than all the other players because they've had alot more experience with the game. The unlockable stuff was cute when it first started showing up because it was just a few hidden extras. Now it's become a chore just to make the whole game available.

This may have something to do with my demographic and the people i play with. We generally don't devote a lot of time to playing video games by ourselves. It's more about the multi-player for us.

Now if games had 4 player co-op modes in which you could unlock things to later use in versus mode, that would work.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2007, 1:15 PM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



Most foolish something, anyway

A Fox news affiliate's poll on April Fools' Day. The question was who is the most foolish American.

Looking at the data, the host declared... Britney Spears the winner.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2007, 1:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Seymour Hersh interview

From Rolling Stone. Excerpt:

Did America learn anything from Vietnam? Was there a lesson in the way that war ended that could have prevented this war from starting? You mean learn from the past? America?

Yes.
No. We made the same dumb mistake. One of the arguments for going into Vietnam was that we had to stop the communist Chinese. The Chinese were behind everything -- we saw them and North Vietnam as one and the same. In reality, of course, the Chinese and the Vietnamese hated each other -- they had fought each other for 1,000 years. Four years after the war ended, in 1979, they got into a nasty little war of their own. So we were totally wrong about the entire premise of the war. And it's the same dumbness in this war, with Saddam and the terrorists.

On the other hand, I would argue that some key operators, the Cheney types, they learned a great deal about how to run things and how to hide stuff over those years.

From the press?
Oh, come on, how hard is it to hide things from the press? They don't care that much about the straight press. What these guys have figured out is that as long as they have Fox and talk radio, they're OK in the public opinion. They control that hard. It kept the ball in Iraq in the air for a couple of years longer than it should have, and it cost Kerry the presidency. But now it's over -- Iraq's done. A lot of the conservatives who promoted the war are now very much against it. Some of the columnists in this town who were beating the drums for that war really owe an apology. It's a sad time for the American press.

What can be done to fix the situation?
[Long pause] You'd have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You'd actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn't think you could control. And they're not going to do that.

What's the main lesson you take, looking back at America's history the last forty years?
There's nothing to look back to. We're dealing with the same problems now that we did then. We know from the Pentagon Papers -- and to me they were the most important documents ever written -- that from 1963 on, Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon lied to us systematically about the war. I remember how shocked I was when I read them. So . . . duh! Nothing's changed. They've just gotten better at dealing with the press. Nothing's changed at all.

Depressing, as usual.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2007, 1:06 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



The end of an era

In the same week as my triumph over Mega Man X, we also saw the end of my undefeated reign in our "kill Rod" (3-1 Team Slayer) Halo sessions. I lost 50-41. Very sad, but it's nice to have competition. We'll see if it was a one time fluke or the beginning of the end.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2007, 1:02 PM | Video Games | Comments (1) | Link



Exsanguination

ex-san-gui-nate [eks-sang-gwuh-neyt] verb, -nat-ed, -nat-ing.
-verb (used with object)
1. to drain of blood; make bloodless.
-verb (used without object)
2. to bleed to death.


By min | April 6, 2007, 9:14 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



Are You Freakin Kidding Me?

Cheney's still pushing the Al-Qaida/Saddam meme. What the hell is in this guy's Kool-Aid?

Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaida links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.
...
"[Abu Musab al-Zarqawi] took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaida operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June," Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. "As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq."

However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of the deposed Iraqi leader and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.

The Sept. 11 Commission's 2004 report also found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network during that period.

If he doesn't believe it and is just trying to perpetuate the lie, it seems like a weak strategy. I doubt they'd win over any new people. And i don't think it will bring back the people who initially supported the invasion but have since gotten sick of it. I just think there are newer, shinier things to use to stimulate the mouth foamers. And really, the Democrats voting thru that bill to bring the military home is enough to do it by itself. They don't need to know about al-Qaida or Saddam or any of that. As it's been demonstrated, nobody remembers who al-Qaida's supposed to be anyway. He just needs to stand there and say it's a bad bill. He doesn't really need to try to come up with reasons. I mean, they never have before. Why start now?

And if he does believe what he's saying, he's a nutjob. I mean, he is a nutjob. No doubt about it. This just adds another dimension to his psychopathology.


By min | April 6, 2007, 9:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Who robs banks anymore?

This happened right near here. There were tons of cop cars everywhere on the way home from work.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2007, 12:16 AM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link



April 5, 2007

Random Lyrics Thursday

I Don't Need Society by D.R.I.

Your number's up, you have to go
The system says, "I told you so"
Stocked in a plane like a truckload of cattle
Sent off to slaughter in a useless battle
Thousands of us sent off to die
Never really knowing why
Fuck the system, they can't have me
I don't need society

You were an apple pie clone living at home
Never straying too far from your phone
Now, son, make it through enemy lines
You must hurry, there's not much time
Made it, sir, they're gonna drop the bomb
No time to evacuate, they'll write our moms
Fuck the system, they can't have me

I don't need society
I don't need society
I don't need society
I don't need society
Fuck you


By fnord12 | April 5, 2007, 10:02 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Devil Geese

The car behind me got rear ended. It got rear ended because the car behind them didn't notice in time that we were stopped and unmoving. We were stopped and unmoving because a goose was crossing the street and i didn't want to hit it. Note that we were completely stopped already when the second car rear ended the first. I did not stop short. I saw that the goose was going to be in my path and slowed down gradually. I had just taken my foot off the brake to start going again when i heard the tires were screeching. I didn't stay since i wasn't actually involved in the accident.

Then, as i'm getting on the exit ramp to get off the highway, i see two more geese crossing from the side of the road onto the highway. Meanwhile, there's a truck/SUV behind me. And most of the jackasses coming down this ramp are going 60mph despite the red light at the end of it, so i didn't think my chances of him slowing down and not hitting me were very good. Luckily, there was enough of a gap between the two geese that i had a clear path with no chance of hitting them unless one of them decided to charge at me.

So, on top of almost getting hit on Tuesday, i think mebbe someone's trying to tell me something.*

 

*there were no geese involved in Tuesday's incident.

By min | April 5, 2007, 9:21 AM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



April 4, 2007

Protecting you from Ted Nugent's naked wife

If you're having trouble posting comments, please try clearing your cache. If that doesn't work, send us an email and let us know.


By fnord12 | April 4, 2007, 7:09 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



Telepathic control or what?

Go see here for video.

It would almost be comical if these people weren't deranged psychopaths who've taken over our government.


By fnord12 | April 4, 2007, 3:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Hey and it worked, too. Imagine that.

Blair: "Throughout, we have taken a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting, either.""


By fnord12 | April 4, 2007, 3:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



One of life's great accomplishments

We all have moments in our lives where we accomplish the things we have long strived for. These are significant, life-changing moments. We essentially enter a new chapter in our lives. All the baggage, all the bothers of daily life no longer matter. Something has been accomplished. In my case, it was finally beating the last boss in Mega Man X after 13+ years of trying. I was inspired to try it again after a conversation after band practice last Friday night. I have a saved game prior to beginning the end gauntlet which is a series of four boards you must complete without saving. I tried on Sunday and couldn't beat the last boss (Sigma) when he goes into floating head mode. I tried again on Tuesday, and after my second try, i said "min, i think you better get the camera."

Now then, on to Mega Man X 2.


By fnord12 | April 4, 2007, 2:55 PM | Video Games | Comments (4) | Link



Down With The Electoral College

One more state has signed on to the agreement to bypass the Electoral College and go with the popular vote. Unfortunately, NJ is not that state.

The Maryland state senate recently passed a bill that would allow the nationwide popular vote - instead of the Electoral College - to determine presidential elections. The bill has been passed on to the state's House of Representatives.
...
This year, Arkansas, Colorado and Hawaii joined California in signing the agreement.

Gee, imagine that. Revising the system so that your vote actually counts for something. Crazy.


By min | April 4, 2007, 2:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link



April 3, 2007

It's Just Manners

I really don't think it's asking too much to expect a courtesy flush every once in a while. I really don't.


By min | April 3, 2007, 2:52 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



April 2, 2007

The Public Library as an Asylum for the Homeless

This one's pretty close to home.

Some good excerpts:

In bad weather -- hot, cold, or wet -- most of the homeless have nowhere to go but public places. The local shelters push them out onto the streets at six in the morning and, even when the weather is good, they are already lining up by nine, when the library opens, because they want to sit down and recover from the chilly dawn or use the restrooms. Fast-food restaurants, hotel lobbies, office foyers, shopping malls, and other privately owned businesses and properties do not tolerate their presence for long. Public libraries, on the other hand, are open and accessible, tolerant, even inviting and entertaining places for them to seek refuge from a world that will not abide their often disheveled and odorous presentation, their odd and sometimes obnoxious behaviors, and the awkward challenges they present to those who encounter them.

Although the public may not have caught on, ask any urban library administrator in the nation where the chronically homeless go during the day and he or she will tell you about the struggles of America's public librarians to cope with their unwanted and unappreciated role as the daytime guardians of the down and out. In our public libraries, the outcasts are inside.

...
Public librarians are out of the loop altogether; our role in providing daytime shelter for the homeless is ignored. When, in an attempt to build my own useful network, I attended conferences on homeless issues, I was always met with puzzlement and the question: "What are you doing here?"

"Where do you think they go during the day?" I would invariably answer.

"Oh, yeah, I guess that's right -- you deal with them, too," would be the invariable response, always offered as if that never occurred to them before.

Paramedics are caught in the middle of this dark carnival of confusion and neglect. In the winter, when the transient population of the library increases dramatically, we call them almost every day. Once, when I apologized to a paramedic for calling twice, he responded, "Hey, no need to explain or apologize." He swept his arm towards the other paramedics, surrounding a portable gurney on which they would soon carry a disoriented old man complaining of dizziness to the emergency room. "Look at us," he said, "we're the mobile homeless clinic. This is what we do. All day long, day after day, and mostly for the same people over and over."

...
The cost of this mad system is staggering. Cities that have tracked chronically homeless people for the police, jail, clinic, paramedic, emergency room, and other hospital services they require, estimate that a typical transient can cost taxpayers between $20,000 and $150,000 a year. You could not design a more expensive, wasteful, or ineffective way to provide healthcare to individuals who live on the street than by having librarians like me dispense it through paramedics and emergency rooms. For one thing, fragmented, episodic care consistently fails, no matter how many times delivered. It is not only immoral to ignore people who are suffering illness in our midst, it's downright stupid public policy. We do not spend too little on the problems of the mentally disabled homeless, as is often assumed, instead we spend extravagantly but foolishly.
...
As a library administrator, I hear the public express annoyance more often than not: "What are they doing in here?" "Can't you control them?" Annoyance is the cousin of arrogance, not shame.

We will let Ophelia and the others stay with us and we will be firm but kind. We will wait for America to wake up and deal with its Ophelias directly, deliberately, and compassionately. In the meantime, our patrons will continue to complain about her and the others who seek shelter with us. Yes, we know, we say to them; we hear you loud and clear. Be patient, please, we are doing the best we can. Are you?


By fnord12 | April 2, 2007, 6:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link



People make mistakes

Especially when they are angry and tired. In the latest issue of Spider-Man, Peter said that his Aunt May's maiden name was Fitzgerald. In fact, her maiden name was Reilly (hence the Spidey clone taking the name Ben Reilly). But Peter's mother's maiden name was Mary Fitzgerald. People are saying that the mistake was due to bad editing or lazily looking the wrong name, confusing May with Mary (and likely it is due to something along these lines).

But, Peter was angry, tired, and distraught over Aunt May's wound, and was potentially thinking something along the lines of "She's like a mother to me." I think it's entirely explainable that Peter got his wires crossed and picked the wrong maiden name given his emotional state.

And Peter is a brilliant scientist who could easily have created non-dissolving webbing. It was something he was criticized for early on when he tried to sell his web formula. He probably went back and figured out how to do it but realized that he shouldn't try to sell it because it would give away his identity. Also, in the Spider-Man cartoon, Spidey meets an alternate reality version of himself who has created all sorts of different webbing/glue and made himself very rich. I don't know if that's true in the comics as well - it would have occurred in the 90s when i stayed well clear of the Spider-Man comics, but in the cartoon, the alternate universe Spidey wore the Web-Armor which definitely did appear in the comics.


By fnord12 | April 2, 2007, 10:42 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



Snitch or Whistleblower?

Under a newly amended rule from the Internal Revenue Service, ordinary citizens can help the tax man cometh -- or at least collect. The new Whistleblower Office is the IRS' attempt to give incentives for you to rat out the tax cheats you know.

That's right. If your employer, co-worker, landlord, neighbor or father-in-law is raking in fistfuls of cash and bypassing Uncle Sam, you can anonymously report the abuse to the IRS and snag a windfall from their dishonesty. As long as the total amount of tax fraud comes out to at least $2 million -- including penalties, interest and whatever else the government ultimately collects based on your report -- you can get a 15%-to-30% cut.

...

Under the old rules, whistle-blowers could seek rewards up to 15% of the amount recovered by the IRS. But it was deemed a failure, mostly because the IRS was under no real obligation to compensate people who came to them with information of underpayments. Under the new law, however, a whistle-blower can make an appeal in court if the IRS decides not to issue a reward.

Link


By min | April 2, 2007, 8:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



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