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April 30, 2009

We're just so used to bailing out, we don't think about why we do it anymore


GM just announced it was laying of 21,000 more of its workers, as a means of assuring the Treasury Department the company is worthy of more bailout money. A Treasury official was quoted as saying approvingly that the goal is a "slimmed-down" GM.

What? Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs in order to be eligible for a government bailout reminds me of "saving" Vietnam by bombing it to smithereens. Aren't we giving these companies billions of taxpayer dollars to save jobs? If not, we're just transferring money from taxpayers to GM and Chrysler bondholders and shareholders

More... (and see some comments making the 'we have to cut off the foot to save the body' type of argument, which i might understand if the layoffs were part of a grand restructuring to make GM a more sustainable and modern company. but that's not what's happening).


By fnord12 | April 30, 2009, 11:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Oh, But I Thought You Wanted Independence From the Union

Governor Rick Perry has issued a disaster declaration for the entire state.

Perry's disaster declaration, which he announced Wednesday, will allow officials to begin emergency protective measures and seek reimbursement from the federal government.

[emphasis mine]
Link

Guess you like being part of the United States when you need a hand out.


By min | April 30, 2009, 8:57 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Continuing our Iggy Pop focus, it's...

China Girl by Iggy Pop & David Bowie

Is it about heroin? Is it about Imperialism? Is it just about having a Chinese girlfriend? All three?

I could escape this feeling
With my china girl
I'm just a wreck without
My little china girl

I'd hear hearts beating
Loud as thunder
See the stars crashing
I'm a mess without
My chlna girl

Wake up mornings there's
No china girl
I'd hear hearts beating
Loud as thunder
I'd see the stars crashing down

I'd feel tragic
Like I was Marlon Brando
When I'd look at my china girl
I could pretend that nothing
Really meant too much
When I'd look at my china girl

I'd stumble into town
Just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
And plans for everyone
It's in the white of my eyes
My little china girl

You shouldnt mess with me
I'll ruin everything you are
I'll give you television
I'll give you eyes of blue
I'll give you men who want
To rule the world

And when I get excited
My little china girl says
Oh baby just you shut your mouth
She says shhhh...


By fnord12 | April 30, 2009, 8:03 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



April 29, 2009

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Captain Britain and MI13 #10-13 - Chris Sims promised me Dr. Doom vs. Dracula On The Moon!, but all i got was a brief conversation. These issues suffer from the same problem as the Secret Invasion crossover - too straightforward. It's like they're overcompensating for the too-many-wacky-ideas-at-once approach of the original Pete Wisdom series. These issues are OK, but they're pretty much at the bottom of my pull-list (or, i guess, at the top, since i save the best comics for last).

Daredevil #118 - Continues apace, is good.

X-Force #14 - Must... resist... impulse to buy Cable parts of this crossover. Look, people, these guys can make Stryfe interesting, and they're responding to my demands to include Apocalypse. How can i not like it? And they threw in Deadpool for laughs as well.

New Avengers #52 - Spider-man's funny. And the scene with him worrying about using a stolen Quinjet was a nice character moment. I like the Dr. Strange Quest for the New Sorcerer Supreme plot, but at the same time i don't want anyone besides Dr. Strange being the Sorcerer Supreme (and certainly i don't want some other b-list magic character getting the title. I could accept Wiccan, or someone new, although i suspect it'll be Strange in the end anyway (or a reversal in a few years). MightyGodKing has been making some great pitches for letting him write a Dr. Strange book so we have to keep Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme to give him his chance.).

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 - Man, this is so good, this should be the main storyline in this War of the Kings crossover. And that's not even taking into account that scene with Rocket Raccoon and Starlord planning their strategy, or Cosmo telling telepathic jokes.

Captain America #49 - I always went with "Anti-Commie Cap", but if "Fifties Cap" is a mouthful, i guess that is too. I thought that whole sequence was more Bendis than Brubaker, but i liked it. A lot of references and continuity here (including some revisions - which i suppose are necessary - to Peggy Carter) that probably aren't noticeable at all to people who haven't just read through all of the 70s Cap stories, but are a nice Easter egg for those who have. Plus, i really liked Luke Ross' art. First time i haven't been disappointed by the lack of Epting.

Hercules #128 - If it wasn't for the footnotes, i wouldn't have realized that this Typhon was the character from those old Avengers issues. That Typhon didn't have snakes for feet, after all, although i have to admit they are a vast improvement. As always, this is a super book. I find the way Dietrich Smith draws Hercules' body hair to be extremely disturbing, though.


By fnord12 | April 29, 2009, 10:04 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



No way out

Very interesting article by Willem Buiter at FT.com. Looks like the best hope for a way out of this global recession is China, but they're not focusing their stimulus the right way.


By fnord12 | April 29, 2009, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 28, 2009

So much for that

Specter switches parties after all. (See me prematurely declaring victory here.)


By fnord12 | April 28, 2009, 1:16 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



What the Hell is Going on in Bolivia?

Three men were shot to death in a hotel room by the Bolivian police, supposedly because they were plotting to assassinate Evo Morales. Except, when the details come out, it sounds totally dodgy.

But while Mr. Morales has described the men killed in Santa Cruz as part of a "tentacle of a structure" intent on killing him and other senior officials named in a list obtained by his government, missteps by officials in describing their handling of the group have led to further questions about the men and what they were doing in Santa Cruz.

Mr. GarcÍa Linera, the vice president, at first said the three were killed in a 30-minute gunfight, but an insurance report filed for the hotel and obtained by La Razón, a newspaper, apparently found no signs of an exchange of gunfire. Two men taken captive at the hotel, Elod Toazo, a Hungarian, and Mario Tadik, a Bolivian, seem to have surrendered without a fight.

"What happened was the killing of three people who were sleeping, which means murder," said Óscar Ortiz, president of Bolivia's Senate and a top opponent of Mr. Morales.

Alfredo Rada, a senior minister, made things worse when he went on television with images of men in Santa Cruz clasping weapons, claiming they were linked to those killed. But the men in the photos, lifted from a Facebook page, debunked the claim by explaining that they practiced "airsoft," a game in which participants fire at one another with pellet guns.

So, is Morales the great leader of the indigenous tribes who will bring equality to Bolivia or is he a paranoid crackpot out to grab power? Either Morales and his administration staged this whole "plot" to strengthen his claims that there are those plotting against him - which means he's a dangerous nutcase, or it's truly a major clusterfuck in management (Facebook photos? really?) - which makes me lose any confidence that he will be able to do anything constructive while in government.


By min | April 28, 2009, 11:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 27, 2009

Tips for not giving me your filthy swine flu

Modeled after this AP article:

  • Cover your damn mouth when you sneeze.
  • Stay away from me.
  • Keep spending money. Keep buying pork products. Let's not further destroy the whole economy just because you're sick.
  • If you get sick, don't go to the hospital. Just stay in your homes and die quietly.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2009, 2:44 PM | Science | Comments (2) | Link



April 24, 2009

Don't get Bartonbaffled!

This is a few days old but I haven't seen as much made of it as I was expecting, so here it is for you all. You'll thank me for it, if you're not too baffled to speak.

This video is stored on Rep. Barton's YouTube channel and is entitled "Energy Secretary puzzled by simple question". Barton also sent this message on Twitter: "I seemed to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question - Where does oil come from?"

Attaturk says: "Today Joe Barton will outwit the Surgeon General by asking "Where do babies come from?"


By fnord12 | April 24, 2009, 9:51 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



April 23, 2009

Imagine a Nuclear-Armed Taliban

It might be the new reality in the near future.

The Taliban have moved to within a few hours' drive of Islamabad, the capital of nuclear-armed Pakistan, and the neighboring garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Link


By min | April 23, 2009, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



What's wrong with this?

HuffPo:

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other Senate Democrats have spent the last several weeks negotiating with major banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, hoping to come to a compromise on bankruptcy legislation that moved with great fanfare through the House in early March.

I forgot that the banks were a part of our legislative process that we have to compromise with. I await with great anticipation the second half of the negotiations where the Senate tries to come to a compromise with homeowners.


By fnord12 | April 23, 2009, 12:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Search and Destroy by Iggy Pop

I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear a-bomb
I am a world's forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys

Honey gotta help me please
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby
detonate for me

Look out honey, cause I'm using technology
Ain't got time to make no apology
Soul radiation in the dead of night
Love in the middle of a fire fight

Honey gotta strike me blind
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby penetrate my mind


By fnord12 | April 23, 2009, 8:38 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



April 22, 2009

The Mechanics of Pac-Man

Here's a sample:

All ghosts move at the same rate of speed when a level begins, but Blinky will increase his rate of speed twice each round based on the number of dots remaining in the maze. While in this accelerated state, Blinky is commonly called "Cruise Elroy", yet no one seems to know where this custom was originated or what it means. On the first level, for example, Blinky becomes Elroy when there are 20 dots remaining in the maze, accelerating to be at least as fast as Pac-Man.

See here for the rest. Fascinating to read, but truly understanding these details leads to memorizing patterns, which in my opinion takes the fun out of the game.


By fnord12 | April 22, 2009, 4:39 PM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



Terrafugia - Yeah, That's Totally Not Dangerous

Flying car

Cause people are so good with handling vehicles that are restricted to the cartesian plane...


By min | April 22, 2009, 2:21 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Evil and inept

They couldn't even make their prisoners say the things they wanted them to say under torture.


By fnord12 | April 22, 2009, 10:33 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 21, 2009

It's ok because they're Muslims

Former Bush speechwriter, now a regular columnist at the Washington Post, Marc Thiessen:

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable." The job of the interrogator is to safely help the terrorist do his duty to Allah, so he then feels liberated to speak freely.

The most disgusting thing i've read in a while...


By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 4:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



On Obama's blatant dismissal of campaign promises

Here.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 4:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link



Just kidding

Plumline:

Did Dick Cheney really "formally" ask the CIA to release reams of intelligence allegedly showing that the torture program worked, as Cheney claimed last night on Fox News?

An intelligence source familiar with the situation says the answer is No.

"The agency has received no request from the former Vice President to release this information," the source told me a few moments ago.

Last night, Cheney said he'd asked the CIA to release memos he had read containing all the intelligence that had been collected via torture. "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions," Cheney said.

According to the source, there are several ways this could happen: Cheney could lodge a Freedom of Information Request (which is hard to imagine a former Veep doing); he could contact CIA officials; or he could submit the request via the White House. Cheney said he'd made the request to the CIA.

The source, however, tells me that the CIA didn't get any such request from Cheney. So barring the unlikely possibility that Cheney submitted his request to the Obama White House, it seems fair to assume for now that the only target of this request was the Fox News television audience.

Update: A Cheney spokesperson is refusing to say what he meant when he claimed to have made a "formal" request for this info.


Update again: It was through the National Archives.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 4:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



NSA Wiretapping a "gross abuse of power"

Says the representative who argued in favor of it all 2004. Of course, that was before she knew they were wiretapping her.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 2:03 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



So That's What You Bastards Are For

In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.

Link

And all this time, i thought your whole purpose was to suck the joy out of existing. So close...


By min | April 21, 2009, 12:41 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



Now We Control Your Names, Too

In a quest to control and standardize ever more aspects of their citizens' lives, the Chinese government is trying to limit the choices in names parents can give their children. Why? Because "being unique is not good" and "inconveniences everyone".

Cheng, which means galloping steeds, looks just like the character for horse, except that it is condensed and written three times in a row.

The character is so rare that once people see it, Miss Ma [Cheng] said, they tend to remember both her and her name. That is one reason she likes it so much.

That is also why the government wants her to change it.

For Ma Cheng and millions of others, Chinese parents' desire to give their children a spark of individuality is colliding head-on with the Chinese bureaucracy's desire for order. Seeking to modernize its vast database on China's 1.3 billion citizens, the government's Public Security Bureau has been replacing the handwritten identity card that every Chinese must carry with a computer-readable one, complete with color photos and embedded microchips. The new cards are harder to forge and can be scanned at places like airports where security is a priority.

The bureau's computers, however, are programmed to read only 32,252 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters, according to a 2006 government report. The result is that Miss Ma and at least some of the 60 million other Chinese with obscure characters in their names cannot get new cards -- unless they change their names to something more common.

Moreover, the situation is about to get worse or, in the government's view, better. Since at least 2003, China has been working on a standardized list of characters for people to use in everyday life, including when naming children.

...

Government officials suggest that names have gotten out of hand, with too many parents picking the most obscure characters they can find or even making up characters, like linguistic fashion accessories. But many Chinese couples take pride in searching the rich archives of classical Chinese to find a distinctive, pleasing name, partly to help their children stand out in a society with strikingly few surnames.

By some estimates, 100 surnames cover 85 percent of China's citizens. Laobaixing, or "old hundred names," is a colloquial term for the masses. By contrast, 70,000 surnames cover 90 percent of Americans.

Yeah, all that unique naming business has gotten out of hand. The government has decided that each citizen will be issued a number instead of a name. That way, you will not be inconveniencing anyone with your troublesome name.

Mebbe they could spend more time figuring out how to prevent builders from using substandard materials in schools or keep food and toy manufacturers from using toxins in their products and less time dictating.


By min | April 21, 2009, 12:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link



Google News Timeline

What do you think of this?

The main page of Google News Timeline displays the top stories divided by columns, with each column representing a day. Users can drag the results left, right, up or down, much as they can with Google Maps, to see different days or to scroll deeper within a day. They can also change the time intervals to weekly, monthly or yearly. One of the interesting features of the main news page is that it includes Time magazine covers, so users can easily scan world events over the years through that prism.

But when it is used for searching, Google News Timeline becomes more interesting. The service includes current stories gathered by Google News, as well as archival news; scanned newspapers, magazines and books; blog posts; sports scores; and media like music and movies. Users can search specific categories, including all news, but also news quotes or news photos, blogs, TV shows and even prizes, like the Nobel.

Article link

I didn't like any of the examples they gave in the article about how you can use this app. They all seemed pretty frivolous - searching for Jack Nicholson movies?? I can do that with IMDB or Wikipedia at this point. And the click and drag feature? Really? The scroll bar seemed to work just fine and was less cumbersome.

But if you can use it as a true timeline, i suppose it could help with following the evolution of a story like the Attorney General firings or the NSA wiretapping or the Plame scandal. If you just searched Google for any of these things, you'd get them in order of popularity and relevance, not chronologically. Although, right now, you can do a search in plain old Google News and sort your hits chronologically........now i'm confused about the purpose of this new toy. So, i ask again, what do you think?


By min | April 21, 2009, 11:47 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



Botulist sympathizers

John Cole, quoting the NYTimes:

"Rhetorically, Republicans are having a very hard time finding something that raises the consciousness of the average voter," said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party who recently lost a bid to became national party chairman.

Workaday labels like "big spender" and "liberal" have lost their punch, and last fall, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gained little traction during the presidential campaign by linking Mr. Obama's agenda to socialism.

So Mr. Anuzis has turned to provocation with a purpose. He calls the president's domestic agenda "economic fascism."

"We've so overused the word 'socialism' that it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago," Mr. Anuzis said. "Fascism -- everybody still thinks that's a bad thing."

I suppose after fascism loses its luster, you could move on to botulism. Or cubism.



By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 10:27 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



He knows he's not in charge anymore, right?

Dick Cheney:

One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort," Cheney said.

Cheney said he's asked that the documents be declassified because he has remained silent on the confidential information, but he knows how successful the interrogation process was and wants the rest of the country to understand.

"I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw, that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country," Cheney said. "I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was."

This must be the first time ever that Cheney has asked for something to be declassified. Of course, it's a little too late, considering he is out of office.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2009, 8:50 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



April 20, 2009

NSA/Harman Summary of the bullet points

You've probably heard about Congressional Quarterly's article regarding the NSA wiretapping and Representative Jane Harman. But it's a 4 page article and there's been lots of additional analysis and speculation surrounding it. So here's a nice summary from Attaturk for those who don't want to delve into the details:

1. Congressman Jane Harman (D - CA) told a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby.

2. This is known because of an NSA Wiretap.

3. The suspected Israeli agent then promised to lobby Nancy Pelosi to make Harman chair of the House Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections (she wasn't).

4. There were some reports of this influence peddling in 2006, but it was dropped for a "lack of evidence" by Alberto R. Gonzales, who intervened to stop the investigation.

5. Gonzales intervened because he wanted Harman to defend the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times.

6. And she promptly went out and defended it.

So as you can see the circle is complete. Caught on an NSA wiretap, Congressperson is saved, so as to defend illegal NSA wiretapping.



By fnord12 | April 20, 2009, 11:55 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 17, 2009

Tip: Don't Vacation in Kenya

A Kenyan man bit a python who wrapped him in its coils and hauled him up a tree in a struggle that lasted hours, local media said today.

Farm manager Ben Nyaumbe was working at the weekend when the serpent, apparently hunting for livestock, struck in the Malindi area of Kenya's Indian Ocean coast.

"I stepped on a spongy thing on the ground and suddenly my leg was entangled with the body of a huge python," he told the Daily Nation newspaper.

When the snake coiled itself round his upper body, Nyaumbe resorted to desperate measures: "I had to bite it."

The python dragged him up a tree, but when it eased its grip, Nyaumbe said he was able to take a mobile phone out of his pocket and phone for help.

When his supervisor came with a policeman, Nyaumbe smothered the snake's head with his shirt, while the rescuers tied it with a rope and pulled.

"We both came down, landing with a thud," said Nyaumbe, who survived with damaged lips and bruising.

The snake escaped from the three sacks it was bundled into.

Link


By min | April 17, 2009, 3:44 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Der

A U.S. Border Patrol agent who tried to import rare tortoises in a box labeled "scorpions" pleaded guilty on Tuesday to animal-trafficking charges, the Justice Department said.

It turns out that scorpions also draw an extra look from federal agents.

Link

I don't know about you, but would make me feel a tiny bit better if they would raise the standard of just who they hire to guard the borders.


By min | April 17, 2009, 3:21 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



I Always Knew You Shouldn't Swallow the Pips

Before doctors opened him up, they were convinced he had lung cancer. Now, they're convinced he inhaled a seed, which sprouted inside him.

Surgeon Vladimir Kamashev at Izhevsk hospital was about to remove a large part of 28-year-old Artyom Sidorkin's lung, when he took a closer look, according to reports. He was stunned to see a 5cm-long spruce inside, the Russian news agency Pravda says.

Link

When we accidentally swallowed a pip from an orange or watermelon or something, my mom would tell us the plant would eventually grow out of our heads. Apparently, she wasn't totally lying.

If you google his name, you can find pics of the tree in his lung. *shudder*


By min | April 17, 2009, 2:06 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



April 16, 2009

IQ Not Entirely Genetic

I have been told there might be some who are interested in reading this.

If intelligence were deeply encoded in our genes, that would lead to the depressing conclusion that neither schooling nor antipoverty programs can accomplish much. Yet while this view of I.Q. as overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong.
...
"Bad environments suppress children's I.Q.'s," Professor Turkheimer said.

One gauge of that is that when poor children are adopted into upper-middle-class households, their I.Q.'s rise by 12 to 18 points, depending on the study. For example, a French study showed that children from poor households adopted into upper-middle-class homes averaged an I.Q. of 107 by one test and 111 by another. Their siblings who were not adopted averaged 95 on both tests.

Another indication of malleability is that I.Q. has risen sharply over time. Indeed, the average I.Q. of a person in 1917 would amount to only 73 on today's I.Q. test. Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally retarded by today's measurements, Professor Nisbett says.

Being subjected to the general populace on an almost daily basis, i would consider half of the population today to be mentally retarded. Fnord12 says i should go back to 1917 so that i can better appreciate the advancements made by retards of today.


By min | April 16, 2009, 2:44 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Some Weird Sin by Iggy Pop

Well, I never got my license to live
They won't give it up
So I stand at the world's edge

I'm trying to break in
Oh, I know it's not for me
And the sight of it all
Makes me sad and ill
That's when I want- some weird sin

Things get too straight
I can't bear it
I feel stuck, stuck on a pin

I'm trying to break in
Oh, I know it's not for me
But the sight of it all
Makes me sad and ill
That's when I want- some weird sin
That's when I want- some weird sin
Just to relax with

Yeah, some dumb, weird sin
For a while anyway
With my head on the ledge
That's what you get out on the edge
some weird sin


By fnord12 | April 16, 2009, 8:32 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



April 15, 2009

Someone rolled a 1

And my D&D players say it's unrealistic...


By fnord12 | April 15, 2009, 3:58 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



Talk about 'toxic assets' (Bwah ha ha ha!... *ahem*)

Bloomberg:

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is sitting on enough uranium cake to make a nuclear bomb as it waits for prices of the commodity to rebound, according to traders and nuclear experts.

The bankrupt bank, in the throes of paying off creditors, acquired uranium cake "under a matured commodities contract" and plans to sell it when the market improves "to realize the best prices," Chief Executive Officer Bryan Marsal said.

Lehman, once the fourth-largest investment bank, has an estimated $200 billion in unsecured liabilities left to pay. The uranium, which may be as much as 500,000 pounds, might fetch $20 million at today's prices of about $40.50 per pound, said traders who asked not to be named because of the confidential nature of the data. Marsal said the traders' estimate of Lehman's uranium holding is "reasonable," while declining to be more specific.

Uranium has dropped for five straight months from $55 a pound on Dec. 1 on concerns that countries including China and India would delay nuclear power projects because of the global economic crisis, and because Lehman might dump its radioactive material on the market, the traders said.

How soon before Lehman gets desperate and sells their uranium to pirates?!?


By fnord12 | April 15, 2009, 11:27 AM | | Comments (0) | Link



Y The Last Ant-Man

BBC:

An Amazonian ant has dispensed with sex and developed into an all-female species, researchers have found.

The ants reproduce via cloning - the queen ants copy themselves to produce genetically identical daughters.

This species - the first ever to be shown to reproduce entirely without sex - cultivates a garden of fungus, which also reproduces asexually.


By fnord12 | April 15, 2009, 11:23 AM | Comics & Science | Comments (2) | Link



April 14, 2009

Just get a piano

Jackass.{/jealous}


By fnord12 | April 14, 2009, 4:55 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Marvel Sales

February


By fnord12 | April 14, 2009, 3:28 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



I had to receive special approval from myself to post this in the "Godzilla" category

When Spored_to_Death said the Clarence Thomas story looked familiar, for a brief moment i thought maybe he had blogged something on politics. Of course that was crazy, but i checked his site and i did find a review of a movie that hasn't made its way to the top of my netflix queue yet... War of the Gargantuas. It's a Toho film, you know. And it turns out to actually be a political allegory after all. You'd think if Spored was only going to do one post a month he'd let us know when it was up, especially if it's a review of a Toho film.

I still don't know why the Clarence Thomas story looked familiar. Probably reminded him of Phantom of the Opera or something, with Thomas always having to retreat to the darkness of his basement.


By fnord12 | April 14, 2009, 1:26 PM | Godzilla | Comments (2) | Link



April 13, 2009

Clarence Thomas: Bill of rights?!? What about Bill of responsibilities!

The guy sounds cranky and depressed.


By fnord12 | April 13, 2009, 9:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

War of the Kings: Ascension #1 - If you went back in time about 10 years or so and told me that i'd be reading a comic about Darkhawk, i probably wouldn't have been fazed. "Well," I would have said, "any character can be interesting if handled well by a good creative team." 1999 fnord was a pretty reasonable guy. Still, if you told him, "Well, the book actually is by a creative team that you like, but nevertheless it's not very good", he probably would have said "Yeah, that sounds about right."

The fact that you'd time-traveled just to talk to him about comic books would have made perfect sense, ofc.

Late update: I forget to mention... i guess i must have missed wherever this story started, but a little bit more of an in-story recap would have been nice. Last i remember, Darkhawk was working at Project Pegasus.


By fnord12 | April 13, 2009, 9:40 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Hello Kitty Platinum

There's some part of me that knows i ought to have this, but at the same time, there's another part of me that would be incredibly embarassed to ever take it out of my wallet where it could be seen by others.


By min | April 13, 2009, 1:39 PM | Cute Things & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Powerlines are Totally Safe

And clearly super efficient conductors of energy with hardly any excess waste bleeding off.

You are looking at 1301 fluorescent bulbs planted in an English farm, powered entirely by electrical fields generated by the power lines that float in curves over the top of this field.

They should be harnessing the power generated by these electrical fields. Or figure out a better way to insulate the power lines so they act like they have zero voltage and don't create an electrical field.

Wonder what this constant buzz of electricity does to your brain or your heart.


By min | April 13, 2009, 11:51 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link



April 11, 2009

Rags to ruthless, messed up... toothless

Most of my imaginary readers know that i have had a little baby tooth growing out of the roof of my mouth, about a quarter inch behind my 'real' row of teeth. It's been there for years and years. Last night, after a few days of it feeling a little funny, it fell out.

It's hard for you ordinary homo sapiens to understand, but this is a major loss for me. The best way i can explain it to you is by saying it's like when Warren Worthington, AKA the Angel, lost his wings during the Mutant Massacre in X-Factor #14. Sure, to all of you i now seem just like a normal person. It's all you ever aspired to be, but me... i was once something special. Something... more than human. But now i'm just one of you.

I can only hope that one day Apocalypse will create new techno-organic shark tooth for me.

...i miss my little friend.


By fnord12 | April 11, 2009, 5:13 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link



April 10, 2009

I personally vote for the Age of Naps

Eric Hobsbawm is a historian that i like. He's got a series of books that divides modern history into 4 "ages":

The Age of Revolution 1789-1848
The Age of Capital 1848-1875
The Age of Empire 1875-1914
The Age of Extremes 1914-1991

Now he wonders, with the failure of socialism (my previous post and the protests of some of his commentators notwithstanding) and the impending failure of capitalism, what comes next?


By fnord12 | April 10, 2009, 4:26 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



The Socialist Comeback

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

See Naked Capitalism for more details and analysis.


By fnord12 | April 10, 2009, 4:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



April 9, 2009

This show is being put on for your benefit. Are you even watching?

Yves from Naked Capitalism, commenting on a NYTimes article:

For the last eight weeks, nearly 200 federal examiners have labored inside some of the nation's biggest banks to determine how those institutions would hold up if the recession deepened.

What they are discovering may come as a relief to both the financial industry and the public: the banking industry, broadly speaking, seems to be in better shape than many people think, officials involved in the examinations say.

That is the good news. The bad news is that many of the largest American lenders, despite all those bailouts, probably need to be bailed out again, either by private investors or, more likely, the federal government. After receiving many millions, and in some cases, many billions of taxpayer dollars, banks still need more capital, these officials say.

The whole point of this charade exercise was to show the big banks weren't terminal but still needed dough, and I am sure it will prove to be lots of dough before we are done. But they now have the Good Housekeeping seal, so the chump taxpayer can breathe easy that the authorities are taking prudent measures to make sure his money is being shepherded wisely.

If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

We said from the beginning the stress tests were a complete sham. Just look at the numbers. 200 examiners for 19 banks? When Citi nearly went under in the early 1990s, it took 160 examiners to go over its US commercial real estate portfolio (and even then then the bodies were deployed against dodgy deals in Texas and the Southwest). This is a garbage in, garbage out exercise. The banks used their own risk models to make the assessment, for instance, the very same risk models that caused this mess. And there was no examination of the underlying loan files.

The Times story does slip in some shreds of doubt, but a casual reader is likely to read past them. Consider these statements:

Regulators say all 19 banks undergoing the exams will pass them. Indeed, they say this is a test that a bank simply will not fail: if the examiners determine that a bank needs "exceptional assistance," the government, that is, taxpayers, will provide it...

Regulators recognize that for the tests to be credible, not all of the banks can be winners. And it is becoming increasingly clear, industry insiders say, that the government will use its findings to press certain banks to sell troubled assets. The hope is that by cleansing their balance sheets, banks will be able to lure private capital, stabilizing the entire industry.

Yves here. So did you get that? They all will be declared to pass in some form, no matter how dreadful they really are (if the remedy is putting in more Federal dollars, rather than a receivership, then the fiction that the money is not being wasted must be preserved). But so as to look sufficiently tough, some banks will be treated harshly. If it winds up being, say, Fifth Third (which I am told by John Hempton is a very well run bank, publishes much more honest financials than its peers, but is in simply terrible geographies, Michigan, Ohio. Florida) and not Citi, then we know the process is not just hopelessly politicized, but shamelessly so.

Naked Capitalism tempers its dour economic news with Antidote du jour pictures of cute animals. I will supply some recent picks since most of my imaginary audience won't click over to his site and i wouldn't want you getting depressed.

As always when i post cute animal pictures, you should feel somewhat responsible for what you've done to me, letting it come to this.



By fnord12 | April 9, 2009, 12:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Enough already with your multiple names.

TPM:

The Houston Chronicle reports that during a committee hearing on a voter-identification bill, a representative from the Organization of Chinese Americans complained that there can be confusion because many Asian-Americans will have their legal, transliterated names as well as common English names that can appear on driver's licenses and school registrations.

"Can't you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers," said Brown, "if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that's easier for Americans to deal with?"

Um, the difficulty as it was explained here is that many Asian-Americans do just exactly that -- and that's the problem when it comes to Voter ID.

From the article:

"Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese - I understand it's a rather difficult language - do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?" Brown said

...Schoore.



By fnord12 | April 9, 2009, 12:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Go Away by Living Colour

What is the point of suffering?
What is the purpose of joy?
Is it true that the winner dies
With the most toys?

A lifetime spent for a dollar
A lifetime twisting in pain
A lifetime gone in an hour
A lifetime playing the game

I see the starving Africans on TV
I feel it has nothing to do with me
I sent my twenty dollars to Live Aid
I've paid my guilty conscience to go away

Now go away

I don't want anybody to touch me
I think everybody has AIDS
What's the point in caring for you?
You're gonna die anyway


By fnord12 | April 9, 2009, 8:20 AM | Music | Comments (4) | Link



I am from beyond

Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours.


By fnord12 | April 9, 2009, 7:37 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



April 8, 2009

Obama ain't taking away Grandma's guns

Found on Kos:

NPR: When did you first notice this ammunition shortage?

[Gun dealer Johnny] DURY: Well, it started the day that Obama got elected.
Everything just really went crazy in the gun business. There were a few speculators the week before the election, but most of the people just waited till the day the election was over with and they knew. From that day on it's been crazy at just about every gun shop in the United States.

NPR: Wait a minute. Help me understand what's going on. On November 5th, the day after the election, people headed to the gun store and started to stock up?

DURY: Like you wouldn't believe.

NPR: There have been stories about this in newspapers across the country and many of the gun dealers are quoted as saying this is fueled in part by people who are worried about restrictive gun laws. They're buying more guns and they're buying more ammunition. Is that what you're seeing?

DURY: They're buying more guns, and then with the purchases of the guns the ammunition goes right along with that. It's not just an ammunition shortage, it's a gun and ammunition shortage. Just that... the sheer volume of it, right after the election, everyone was scared that they was going to take this ammo, or that he was going to tax it out of sight on the prices, so people started stocking up, buying half a lifetime to a lifetime supply of ammo, all at one time.

NPR: A lifetime supply?

DURY: Mm Hmm. I had a 69 year old woman the other day call me and say I'm going to give you my credit card for a case of ammunition for my AK-47. She said, I'll be damned if I'm gonna have anybody tell me I can't have any ammo.

Let's just point out, just for fun, that no one is telling anyone that they can't have any ammo.


By fnord12 | April 8, 2009, 1:42 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Might as well actually do it.

I've said this before, but... Obama and Defense Secretary Gates have come out with a new budget proposal for the Pentagon. The budget moves money around, taking funding away from obsolete programs and re-prioritizing others, but it actually increases the overall defense budget from $513 billion to $534 billion.

Nevertheless this is being reported in the media as "Obama cuts defense spending". And the Republicans are happy to play it that way as well. Here Rep. Tom Cole from Oklahoma:

While President Obama's short changing of America's Armed Forces is deeply disappointing, it is - unfortunately - not a surprise. Throughout his campaign and during his short tenure as President, he has made it clear that he believes his charm and eloquence are adequate substitutes for a strong military. That will not work. Whether President Obama knows it or not, President Bush's foreign enemies were also America's enemies. He cannot charm them out of their opposition to our country. The cuts announced today, however, take that naivete to a dangerous new level. I intend to do everything I can to make sure they do not actually occur.

As i've said previously, if you're going to get bashed for doing something anyway, you might as well actually do it. We've got an extremely bloated defense budget any way you look at it. It needs to be cut. You're not giving yourself any political cover by increasing the budget. These idiots are going to attack you no matter what the reality is. So you might as well do what needs to be done.


By fnord12 | April 8, 2009, 11:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



April 7, 2009

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Secret Warriors #3 - Was this Gorgon guy really that good? And how do we know that Contessa hasn't been in on the "Hydra really runs SHIELD" conspiracy from the beginning? Anyway, good issue. I like the art, too.

War of Kings #2 - I enjoyed this more than the prologue and the first issue. Still have some problems with the premise, but i guess it's got potential. I think the scene with Crystal providing water for the sick was a bit contrived, and i'm still confused about how the Inhumans are trusting Maximus so easily, but not bad, not bad.

Agents of Atlas #3 - I'm liking this series quite a lot. I enjoy the machinations/politics going on between Atlas and Osborn, and the scenes with Namora dealing with Namorita's death were really good. And i enjoy all of the flashback scenes quite a bit as well. The one thing i didn't love was the cover, which spoils the last page of the issue. This has been happening a lot lately with Marvel, and it's weird. They used to do this in the 70s and people complained. Now they've finally come away from their "iconic" cover phase and they go right back to their worst habits? Weird. But from a sales point of view i guess it makes sense. Regular readers are going to buy the book anyway. This way, fans of Captain America may pick up the book for one extra issue. But i don't like it.

Captain America comics 70th anniversary special #1 - Ugh. I guess it's just that i've been reading comics for so long, but i've read so many stories about why Captain America is so super that they're really getting hard to read. And this was just terrible, with this contrived idea that a pre-Super Serum Steve Rogers just happens to get into a fight (and win!) (using a garbage can lid as a shield!) with three Nazi spies who are after the Super Serum. And that's how he was really chosen to be Cap? Stupid, stupid stuff.

Pride & Prejudice #1 - Marvel really blew it with this one. I guess they were treating this like just another Classics Illustrated or something; i really don't know. But there is this huge fan base out there for Pride & Prejudice related material, and this comic, if done well, could have really tapped into that. They could have even gone beyond the original story: there's a bunch of recent (relative to the age of the original) novels out there that take place in the Pride & Prejudice 'universe', so to speak, and there's no reason Marvel couldn't have had an ongoing series just like the old Star Wars comic. But this was really terrible. First, the art was awful. Just awful. When the characters didn't look like glamor girls, they looked like zombies. And then it's condensed so much that you jump from scene to scene without hitting any of the characterization or introspection that makes the original worth anything. It's basically a plot outline with pictures. Oh well. An opportunity to reach out beyond the typical comic book audience wasted.

After Watchmen... What's Next? #1 - I kept thinking this was going to be good, but it kept jumping around and it didn't really explain how everything that was happening was related to the end of the Watchmen series. I was really surprised to see Batman and Superman show up; i didn't realize Watchmen took place in the same universe. A little wordy, and i didn't like the jamboree style art, either. Every page had a different artist, so the book never got a chance to develop a consistent look.


By fnord12 | April 7, 2009, 9:51 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link



We can't all be Jack Kirby

It's not fair, really. Somehow Kirby pulls off making a guy on a surf board totally awesome, but when Rich Buckler tries to tap into that same magic with a hockey goalie, it just doesn't work.


P.S., let's not bring the Black Racer into this.

By fnord12 | April 7, 2009, 4:33 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Madame MacEvil

Moondragon is an interesting character, always struggling with her elitist inclinations and the influence of the Dragon of the Moon, but did you know how deep her evil roots go? Lookit her original name in her first appearance:


Man, i've had to make up names on the fly for D&D that are better than that (Let's hear it for Priesto!).

By fnord12 | April 7, 2009, 4:24 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



April 6, 2009

A word from your host (even if the phrasing may offend a particular reader)

Meh.


By fnord12 | April 6, 2009, 4:24 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link



April 2, 2009

Game over

NY Times:

Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit's Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today....

To some extent, China is making a virtue of a liability. It is behind the United States, Japan and other countries when it comes to making gas-powered vehicles, but by skipping the current technology, China hopes to get a jump on the next.



By fnord12 | April 2, 2009, 12:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Classic Star Wars sleeping bag simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass

This was originally an April's Fool's gag, but see the ATTN box on the right; they're gonna try and really make it.


By fnord12 | April 2, 2009, 12:28 PM | Star Wars | Comments (0) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Lightly Row (Traditional)

Lightly row, lightly row,
O'er the glassy waves we go!
Smoothly glide, smoothly glide,
On the silent tide.

Let the winds and waters be
Mingled with our childish glee.
Sing and float, sing and float
In our little boat!

Far away, far away,
Echo in the rock at play;
Calleth not, calleth not,
To this lonely spot.

Only with the seabirds' note
Shall our happy music float.
Lightly row, lightly row,
In our little boat!


By fnord12 | April 2, 2009, 8:54 AM | Music | Comments (1) | Link



April 1, 2009

When Class Trips Go Awry

When i think of class trips, i think "Awesome! No sitting in a classroom all day doing work!". Well, not so for these kids! For them, it's just a quick lesson in death.

A deckhand on a charter boat full of school children from L.A. choked to death on a bait fish he had put in his mouth as a joke.

Captain Dan Salas of the boat Gale Force said his employee Jeff Twaddle died during a fishing trip for the students last week along breakwater in Long Beach.

...

The fish lodged in his throat, Twaddle quickly lost consciousness and was later pronounced dead at St. Mary Medical Center.

Now these poor kids have to get counselling for trauma.


H/T wnkr

By min | April 1, 2009, 1:27 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



Where would you like to wait for the Apocalypse?

Why Iceland, i wonder? Wikipedia's info on the subject is unsatisfying.

By 1982, members of Killing Joke, especially Coleman, had become immersed in the occult, particularly the works of occultist Aleister Crowley. In February of that year, Coleman, with Geordie and Youth following shortly after, moved to Iceland to survive the Apocalypse, which Coleman predicted was coming soon. While in Iceland, Coleman and Geordie worked with musicians from the band ├×eyr in the project Niceland. After a few months, Youth decided there was no indication of the Apocalypse, and decided to move back to England. Youth then began the band Brilliant with Paul Ferguson, but the latter defected and travelled to Iceland to rejoin Killing Joke with new bassist Paul Raven (previously of Neon Hearts and the rock / glam band Kitsch) in tow. After spending some time in Iceland, Killing Joke returned to England and began touring and recording again.

By fnord12 | April 1, 2009, 8:32 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



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