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November 30, 2011

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avengers #19 - Wait... the Vision's been up and around for a while now, in the pages of Young Avengers. I mean, for years. Is this a different Vision? They'd better destroy the Vision at the end of Children's Crusade or something. Other than that, a fun recruiting issue. Hopefully next issue we'll start seeing some forward progress, but this was good.

Avengers Academy #22 - This, on the other hand, was great. Nice characterization all around. Cyclops sure is playing up the melodrama these days, huh? No, i won't let my kids play baseball with your kids. Because of genocide, that's why!

Avengers solo #2 - I think maybe i'd better just drop this now. I'm already tired of trying to figure out Chance vs. Trace. I guess maybe now that one of them is a girl, it'll be easier. But it's really not turning out to be a good story. Not thinking much of the Academy back-up, either.

Captain America #4 - Brubaker sure writes a nice story. And Steve McNiven's art is nice, too. I liked the Falcon's "I took one out quietly -- but two more popped up to take his place" line about Hydra. And i'm enjoying the weird Jimmy Jupiter plot.

Captain America & Bucky #624 - So at least i know that this series takes place in the present with Bucky telling these stories to his sister. That said, this issue read like a Winter Soldier Saga issue that they could have given out for free. I'm not sure if we got any new information out of it, and it was barely a story. Don't know what's coming next issue but with a creative team switch it sounds like a jumping off point for me.

Thunderbolts #165 - This was great.

New Mutants #34 - It's time for the Hypno-Hustler to stop hogging the stage and let the next generation of musical super-villains take over. I guess since they're modeled after Korn or Slipknot, Diskhord is only a decade or so behind the times. I was kind of hoping for a little more of an actual plot this issue after all the Fear Itself stuff and then last issue's downtime, but this was fine.

Annihilators: Earthfall #3 - Even though this was a lot of standing around talking, i thought it was better than the previous two issues. If only the art wasn't terrible. And i'm not discussing the back-up; i don't know how you put out a Rocket Raccoon/Groot story and make everyone hate it.

Alpha Flight #6 - Hey, this is a good series! They should turn it into an ongoing! You think the Wolverine appearance was added when they still had hope for sales to pick-up? Not that i imagine Wolverine really does much for sales anymore, and it's somewhat natural for him to appear in this book, even though there's plenty going on without him at this point. It really is a good series, and they really should turn it into an ongoing, by the way.

Fantastic Four #600 - Oh boy. Well, i really wanted to like Hickman's FF, but i couldn't get into it and i dropped it a while ago. I was intrigued with the switch to Fantastic Force Future Foundation, but i held out. Then i saw the ads for issue #600. Nice super-sized jumping on point, right? They're advertising the book so they know that new readers will be checking it out, so it's a good opportunity for me to give the series another shot, and maybe go back and pick up what i skipped. So i went into this with high hopes. But this was impenetrable. I at least had read some of the previous FF issues and i had a vague idea who Black Bolt's stupid brides were and a few other things like that. I have real pity for any truly new readers. No exposition, not even a recap page, and the story flopped around like a dying fish out of water. There's absolutely no structure to it! It starts off with the Avengers and the FF facing off against a Kree space threat (i guess i'll give them a pass over the fact that Ronan's got Kree Sentries hovering over the Earth this same month over in Annihilators, but really? Can't we coordinate just a little bit?). Then it jumps into a tedious Human Torch flashback (and i do mean tedious) and then the weird Franklin Richards thing (and i see Hickman is still writing Franklin as some kind of autistic kid, whereas Valeria is still a super-genius). No resolution to anything. Just bouncing around like we ripped out the middle pages of three separate comics and stapled them together. Even if this wasn't going to be a complete story in itself (and with 100 pages, why not?), you'd think it would have at least reached a conclusion. And to top it off, they're now splitting this into two separate books? I really wanted to like this. Every review i read of this series is just glowing. I just don't get it.


By fnord12 | November 30, 2011, 11:31 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



I Thought It Was Obvious

Metal is strong, copper ages well, and flowers are soft.

If that doesn't get the message across, try 3 goats and a sheaf of wheat.


By min | November 30, 2011, 10:32 PM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



Who Needs Due Process

Just chuck everybody in the clink and let things sort themselves out. Link

The Senate voted Tuesday to keep a controversial provision to let the military detain terrorism suspects on U.S. soil and hold them indefinitely without trial -- prompting White House officials to reissue a veto threat.

The measure, part of the massive National Defense Authorization Act, was also opposed by civil libertarians on the left and right. But 16 Democrats and an independent joined with Republicans to defeat an amendment by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would have killed the provision, voting it down with 61 against, and 37 for it.

Even Rand Paul is against it.

"It's not enough just to be alleged to be a terrorist," Paul said, echoing the views of the American Civil Liberties Union. "That's part of what due process is -- deciding, are you a terrorist? I think it's important that we not allow U.S. citizens to be taken."

He's sharing similar views with the ACLU. The ACLU!

Meanwhile, the proponents seem to be channeling a little McCarthy.

"The enemy is all over the world. Here at home. And when people take up arms against the United States and [are] captured within the United States, why should we not be able to use our military and intelligence community to question that person as to what they know about enemy activity?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

"They should not be read their Miranda Rights. They should not be given a lawyer," Graham said. "They should be held humanely in military custody and interrogated about why they joined al Qaeda and what they were going to do to all of us."

That doesn't sound totally paranoid and irrational or anything.

At least Obama's come out saying he's going to veto it. But, really, how the hell did we come this far? Our Senate just voted to allow anyone to be detained forever and to hell with evidence or a trial by your peers or any of that silly stuff.

Sixteen Democrats voted against the Udall amendment which would have killed this particular provision in the bill - Bob Casey (Pa.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Carl Levin (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W. Va.), Clair McCaskill (Mo.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).

I'm not surprised to see Landrieu on the list, but my idiot Senator voted against the amendment, too. I suppose Menendez must have gotten an earful about it, though, because there's an update at the bottom of the article saying he asked to have his vote changed to be in favor of the amendment.

Great. Thanks, Menendez. Mebbe next time you can vote the right way without a do over, huh?


By min | November 30, 2011, 3:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



SOPA and PIPA - Internet Killers

The Congressional bill Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate bill Protect IP Act (PIPA) are two bills that would essentially censor the web. Think China, except for copyrighted materials, not political dissent.

The Motion Picture Association of America is one of the big backers of these bills. According to them, all this infringement going on of their materials is costing thousands of jobs.

We've all heard this before. Pirated songs are taking money away from artists. In all fairness, someone who makes a product ought to get paid for it, but we all know it's not the artist who are losing money on this deal. That's a whole 'nother discussion.

To give examples that affect just about everybody: What about a video of you/your kids/your niece singing a song? A copyrighted song? Or a video of you playing a song on your instrument? Or an image you scanned from a book you own? Better not put that up on Youtube or your blog or Facebook or anywhere because that could be considered "infringement" as far as SOPA and PIPA are concerned. And that suspicion of infringement is all that's needed to get you in trouble with the law.

And that doesn't even cover the part where it just outright breaks the internet.

  • Do you write or distribute VPN, proxy, privacy or anonymization software? You might have to build in a censorship mechanism -- or find yourself in a legal fight with the United States Attorney General.
  • Even some of the most fundamental and widely used Internet security software, such as SSH, includes built-in proxy functionality. This kind of software is installed on hundreds of millions of computers, and is an indispensable tool for systems administration professionals, but it could easily become a target for censorship orders under the new bill.
  • Do you work with or distribute zone files for gTLDs? Want to keep them accurate? Too bad -- Hollywood might argue that if you provide a complete (i.e., uncensored) list, you are illegally helping people bypass SOPA orders.
  • Want to write a client-side DNSSEC resolver that uses multiple servers until it finds a valid signed entry? Again, you could be in a fight with the U.S. Attorney General.

According to Rebecca MacKinnon of the NYT:

The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright -- a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification.

SOPA is still in committee and Nancy Pelosi has come out against it, but PIPA is ready to go to the Senate floor. Conyers (D-MI) is one of the co-sponsers which is pretty disappointing. Senator Wyden (D-OR) has promised to filibuster this bill by reading out the names of everyone who signs the petition against it. I think that's awesome. I wish our representatives had a little more Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in them.


Take that SOPA/PIPA!


By min | November 30, 2011, 8:45 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies | Comments (0) | Link



November 29, 2011

As Long as It's the Right Type of Anxiety


By min | November 29, 2011, 12:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Department of Homeland Security Behind OWS Crackdown

Two weeks ago, I heard about students at UC Davis who were pepper sprayed at point blank range while doing nothing more than sitting on the ground with their arms linked. I heard that the NYPD raided Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night, making sure the media couldn't cover it either by penning them far away from the park or arresting them.

Three weeks ago, I heard about students at UC Berkeley who were beaten with batons by campus police in riot gear for standing with their arms linked. In Oakland, I heard that cops shot a guy with rubber bullets for filming the Occupy protest.

Five weeks ago, I heard about Scott Olsen ending up with a fractured skull when Oakland PD used tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesters.

What i haven't heard is a peep from anyone in our government saying anything against the excessive use of force on civilians. I was so pissed off about it that I wrote to my Senators and my Representative asking them wtf. I mean, all i wanted was a placating "The police overreacted. In America, our citizens have the right to express their opinions. We don't condone the violence and urge our officers to act in a way that will protect the members of the public." What i got was alot of nothing. I didn't even receive the automated "Thanks for writing to me. We'll get right back to you on that." email.

Now I find out the Department of Homeland Security is involved with coordinating the crackdowns nationwide on Occupy protesters.

The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests.
...
Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
...
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women's wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces - pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS - to make war on peaceful citizens.

Now the silence from my Senators and Representative is explained.

Even if it's not a "everyone's in on it" conspiracy, the fact that the DHS was involved at all is a huge red flag. That all this violence against protesters is the result of their counseling is a serious problem because it means beating someone down because we don't like what they're saying or doing is the right response, the government sanctioned and recommended response. It means we have more in common with Egypt, Syria, and China than we should be comfortable with.


By min | November 29, 2011, 11:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link



November 28, 2011

Neeeeeeerd!

From an article in the September 29th issue of Rolling Stone talking about the early days of Late Night with David Letterman:

At a grocery store on New York's Upper West Side, [Chris] Elliott ran into Mark Hamill, then at the height of his Star Wars fame. Hamill not only recognized Elliott but admitted that he'd been videotaping Late Night off of his TV from the very start. Hamill was so worried the show would get canceled - "It was so far ahead of the curve," he says now - that he wanted to make sure he had his own copies. Later, when Late Night researchers needed a list of every "Viewer Mail" segment, they turned to Hamill, who had maintained meticulously annotated notebooks of the sketches on every show.

By fnord12 | November 28, 2011, 11:35 AM | Star Wars & TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link



November 26, 2011

If the Options are Take or Don't Take

Clearly, you take whatever it is for just in cases. You never know when you'll need four suits of armor. And i can't tell you how many times a vial of troll blood has come in handy.

On one of my routine reads of Boing Boing, i saw this

which led me to this Penny Arcade comic that i greatly enjoyed. For those of you who have been worried about what we'd do if our D&D campaign ever has to go through the Arrow Dungeon, let me assure you that we are totally prepared. We're also prepared for the Exotic Animal Remains Dungeon.

What the Boing Boing article and Penny Arcade comic don't understand is that gamers are secretly hoarders. Video games and such provide a way for us to work that out of our system so that we only need to dedicate one bedroom to our collection of important stuff.


By min | November 26, 2011, 10:27 AM | D&D & Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



Plush Totoro

I should have this. Why don't i already have this?

I mean the Totoro. Not the baby. Clearly. Der.


By min | November 26, 2011, 10:23 AM | Cute Things | Comments (0) | Link



November 24, 2011

Everybody Needs to Start Putting the Lid Down

Why the hell didn't you people tell me this ages ago???

Beginning in the 1960s, an entire field of science aimed to understand the story of bathroom bacteria [4]. These studies revealed that when you flush the toilet with the lid up that bacteria can go up to six feet through the air (including onto your toothbrush)...

WTF, people! Now i have typhoidcholeradysentary, and it's all your goddamned fault.

And i thought Happy Slip's mom was nuts. She knew it all along!

Ooh! Spam!


By min | November 24, 2011, 9:25 PM | Science | Comments (2) | Link



November 23, 2011

Where Strawberries Ought Never Tread

I found this

Strawberry Cheetos

while reading about this

Pepsi Pink

Ew. If strawberry flavored coating on your Cheetos and strawberry milk flavored carbonated "soda" isn't gross enough for you, just think about Honey Butter Doritos for a bit. Go ahead. Do it.


By min | November 23, 2011, 12:33 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



As expected

Simpson-Bowles is now the centrist position.


By fnord12 | November 23, 2011, 9:33 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



November 22, 2011

Religious Materials Enclosed

This came in today's work mail:

Do things marked "Religious Materials" get special treatment from the postal service? Does it work better than "Do Not Bend"?


By min | November 22, 2011, 2:17 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



Introvert Care & Feeding

Actually, it doesn't get into feeding. I like beans.

I also don't, i should say, "love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts...". Passionate interests, sure (i assume that means comic books).

But "find[s] other people tiring" sounds about right. Oh, not you, though. I like you.


By fnord12 | November 22, 2011, 12:51 PM | My stupid life & Science | Comments (0) | Link



Toys 'R' Us Perpetrates Attack on Decency

Toys 'R' Us is at it again, attempting to corrupt our children with their potty-mouthed toys.


I'm with the extra from the cast of The Walking Dead. I think we should BURN them!


By min | November 22, 2011, 9:04 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (5) | Link



November 19, 2011

Open Letter to UC Davis Chancellor

18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Read more...

I'd provide the link for you to tell the Chancellor how you feel about her method of ensuring a "safe and welcoming environment" for the students, but it seems the outrage has already broken the site. Whoops.


By min | November 19, 2011, 9:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Talking Panda Robot

Squeeeee!!!!

Toco-chan is an interactive robot that Dr Kabe's students developed with the aim of providing care and comfort to Japan's aging population. Sticking with the cute bear image, the robot Panda was developed to analyze interaction between humans and robot in order to explore the possibility of a future where "human machine interaction is not a one sided relationship".

The next logical step is for me to get a bear like the one in AI.


I bet like me, you too are wondering why isn't this on this year's Hot Toy List.


By min | November 19, 2011, 9:02 PM | Cute Things & Science | Comments (0) | Link



Guess What Adam's Getting For Christmas!

Robotic bear pillow:

This week saw the 19th International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held at Tokyo Big Sight displaying the world's most advanced, innovative and sometimes plain bizarre robots.
...
Dr Kabe from Waseda University's Kabe Lab in the Faculty of Human Science demonstrated a number of different concepts that all centered around providing care or comfort with the aid of technology. One such idea was the "Jukusui-kun" (Deep Sleep), a robotic pillow like device in the shape of a polar bear that looks at helping the more than 2million patients who suffer "Sleep Apnea Syndrome" in Japan (those who suffer breathing difficulties while sleeping...chronic snorers!).
...
When the oxygen level decreases in the patient resulting in the snore level increasing it triggers the bear-pillow's hand to move towards the sleepers face. Gently brushing the face causes the person to then turn from lying on their back to moving onto their side, a more conducive postion for a sound, snoreless nights sleep.

Right. Cause having your pillow move under you and brush your face would in no way wake you the hell up and totally disrupt your sleep entirely.


By min | November 19, 2011, 8:51 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



November 18, 2011

I Am Doom! Really!

Marvel Squinkies - It's ALWAYS a Doombot


By min | November 18, 2011, 11:41 AM | Comics & Cute Things | Comments (0) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avenging Spider-Man #1 - Everybody loves a Team-Up book when it's done well, and this was at times laugh-out-loud funny ("Someone yell for some Kool-aid?") and fun throughout. It turns out i don't have a lot of books with Joe Madureira art (looks like mainly Deadpool: The Circle Chase), but i quite enjoyed it here. My only minor complains is that JJ was a little too calm and quippy in the face of crazy moleoid danger. I know he's been through a lot and he's an ornery guy, but it still felt out of character for him to be making jokes, and any Marvel "civilian" should still be pretty terrified when kidnapped by degenerate morlocks.

New Avengers #18 - I want to hate this because it's so totally a rehash of a plot that we just freaking read. I mean i just don't get it. What happened to that Ultron plot from the .1 issue? Even Ultron would be a character we've seen in Bendis' Avengers already, but we've had like 10 years of Norman Osborn. Enough already. That said, i thought this was a well written book. All the villain organization heads talking about how on paper they should be ruling the world by now but they keep failing is great, and does a lot to revitalize these organizations like AIM that have been around so long that they look like losers just because good guys always have to win. So i liked that. I thought Viper and the AIM leader were both well written with their anti-government, anti-corporate agendas (although... do they know Osborn used to run OsCorp?). And i always enjoy recruitment issues. Regarding the characters recruited, after seeing Barney Barton (Holy crap, they brought back Barney Barton? Who died in Avengers #64 in 1969? Are these people nuts?) i thought maybe all these new Dark Avengers were obscure older characters which was going to send me down another back-issue death-spiral, but it turns out the other ones i didn't know were from the recent Osborn series. So, a bullet dodged there! For now...

Resurrection Man #1-3 - Aha, Abnett & Lanning! I caught you. So this is why your quality has been declining on the Marvel books - you've been cheating on me! I've been told i'm not allowed to comment on the cheesecake art because it's "supposed to be that way" but when min caught me reading one of these issues she wanted to know why i was looking at porn. Cheesecake aside, i didn't love the art. As for the story, it's ok. It might have been better to have a more straightforward plot instead of starting right away with this meta-level demon and angel stuff. And maybe some bad guys that didn't already know Resurrection Man's powers; these didn't really feel like introductory issues to me (when he came back with stone skin powers, i actually briefly thought it was the old man busting onto the scene in his super-villain guise; a combination of bad storytelling in the art, a lack of familiarity with Resurrection Man's powers, and my poor reading comprehension). Kinda felt like i was thrown into the middle of an ongoing series. Which i can roll with, and if anything, too much exposition was provided. I dunno. I certainly wouldn't get this on my own, but if Wanyas keeps getting it i'll keep reading it.


By fnord12 | November 18, 2011, 7:37 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



November 17, 2011

Meeting 54mpg CAFE Standards Not As Difficult As It Sounds

Cause it really means 36mpg. But more on that later. First, the rant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced aggressive new rules to raise the fuel efficiency of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards require an automaker's fleet of passenger vehicles to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. That number extends existing CAFE rules, which set the fleet average at 35.5 mpg for 2016, up from the current level of 27.5 mpg.

It seems so obvious, i don't even know why we're discussing it. Technology is supposed to move forward. Things are supposed to improve over time. With the exception of cars and fuel efficiency, apparently.

Although many car companies said earlier this year that they would support the then-proposed CAFE goals, grumbling has ensued. Automakers have resisted CAFE increases since the early 1980s, each time protesting that redesigns and technology improvements needed to reach the new targets would either be too difficult to engineer or too expensive to manufacture.

So, car manufacturers want us to believe that in 30 years technology is still not up to improving vehicle mileage from 27.5 to 54.5 mpg? Not only that, but it will continue to not be up to meeting this challenge 14 yrs from now. Really? C'mon. Really?? My phone is a computer. My music player is smaller than a deck of cards and holds 160Gb worth of songs. I can beam books onto my ereader from anywhere. You seriously want me to believe that given 44yrs, you can't figure out how to make cars run on less fuel? I'm calling Bullshit.

The kicker is that many of the technology improvements have been sitting on auto industry shelves for years.

AHA! Give me a dollar!

Furthermore, although the new CAFE numbers sound high, they translate into less taxing goals on the road. The mileage ratings come from running cars on machinery in labs that do only a fair job of mimicking actual road conditions.

"CAFE mpg still comes from the original pair of tests that are now widely viewed as bad predictors of real-world mpg. The 34.1 mpg CAFE target for 2016 is actually equal to only 26 mpg on a window sticker. The talked-about 2025 CAFE standard -- usually described as 54.5 mpg -- amounts to a figure of 36 mpg combined [highway and city driving] on a window sticker," writes Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds.com, on the company's detailed CAFE explainer. (The Edmunds.com site is widely recognized as the go-to place for investigating new and used cars and automotive technology.) So if you walk into a showroom in 2025 and see car with a sticker that says it gets 36 mpg "combined," it meets the CAFE 54.5 mpg requirement. Suddenly the new rules don't sound so difficult to attain.

So, you see, it's really a fuel efficiency of 36mpg in the real world. It really doesn't sound all that impressive or daunting when you put it that way. And it just makes me more pissed off at the car industry who claimed that the only way to meet these standards was to pull up the average by increasing the number of electric cars in their fleet and nobody is going to want that many electric cars.

Well, let me put it this way - I looked at the trend of increasing gas prices, and now I have a Prius. I get nearly 50mpg on it. Suck on that, automakers!


By min | November 17, 2011, 3:26 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Good problems to have

Bad for solar panel manufacturers, but good for the country:

The global solar manufacturing industry is unquestionably headed for a thinning of the ranks, with up to two-thirds of all companies being forced to merge or go out of business thanks to the plummeting price and corresponding oversupply of polysilicon, the raw material used to manufacture most solar panels.

This was actually the reason Solyndra went out of business. Solar panels got too cheap for them to compete. It's a good thing in the long run.


By fnord12 | November 17, 2011, 11:59 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link



I'm easily convinced

When i saw this chart at TPM...

How did Paris Hilton get in there?  I'm not sure we're comparing apples to apples here.

...and then i saw this comment:

But yet 85% or more of those running for reelection will be sent back. Forget which side you support, that's mind boggling isn't it?

I was like, "Yeah!"

But then i saw this response:

People rarely think THEIR congressperson is the problem. Just everyone else's.

And i agreed with that, too! Of course, my congressman is a rocket scientist.

Leaving my waffling aside, maybe that commentator is right and the 9% approval rating is basically by design. But if so, that illustrates a problem with our system. You'd think at least the supporters of the majority party would be pleased with their representatives. But our system has so many veto points and opportunities for gridlock that nothing ever gets done. So no one is happy. A government needs to be able to actually, you know, govern, so maybe the 91% that is unhappy with Congress can get together and push for a parliamentary system.


By fnord12 | November 17, 2011, 11:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street gets ugly

If only we understood their demands. They keep shouting 'Die Spider-Man die! I want to eat your brain!' but what does it mean?

By fnord12 | November 16, 2011, 10:17 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Pretty sure i'm going to turn this into a T-shirt

'Hulk, would you please stand still!'

Because it is awesome kryptonastic.


By fnord12 | November 16, 2011, 6:22 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



I killed Superman

Their downfall was advertising Kryptonite Rocks in a Marvel comic book.

Kryptonastic is my new favorite word.

Some bad people might say that spending $3.50 in 1980s dollars on rocks is dumb (We know who they are: Your parents.)

They didn't make me sign an affidavit or anything. Suuure i'm a friend of Superman.


By fnord12 | November 16, 2011, 6:16 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Wolverine's the Best at What He Does

And what he does is show up every damn place. He's a sucker for the limelight.

Even the Marvel Squinkies know when there's too much Wolverine

Click image to embiggen


h/t to mikkim for arranging the Squinkies for me to find when i got in this morning

By min | November 16, 2011, 12:14 PM | Comics & Cute Things | Comments (0) | Link



November 15, 2011

Public Libraries as Maker-Spaces

I got in trouble a few months ago for not telling fnord12 about 3D printers. Now when i see an article about them, i feel i need to make sure to let everyone know i read it.

With the internet providing resources for research and digital books becoming more available, the feeling is that libraries might soon be obsolete. Make Magazine suggested that libraries ought to become public make spaces, providing free access to machines and software. A public library in Fayetteville, NY has embraced this idea.

The Fayetteville Free Library where Smedley works is building a Fab Lab -- short for fabrication laboratory -- that will provide free public access to machines and software for manufacturing and making things.

So far, the Fab Lab is equipped with a MakerBot, a 3D printer that lets you "print" plastic pieces of your own design. The potential for 3D printers to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it is huge: imagine being able to design and then manufacture -- or "print" -- whatever you want. Moreoever, imagine the tools of manufacturing being in the hands of everyone, not just giant factories (and remember, since this is a public library, this is really putting the technology in the hands of everyone, not just those that can afford a membership at a traditional hackerspace).

...

Her plans also include offering free classes and programs for the community, including Introduction to 3D Printing, 3D design software training, computer programming, and Geek Girl Camps.

It's an interesting idea. Many libraries currently have a "craft" room available for groups to book and use. It's not such a big leap to go from that to maker-spaces. However, it would take quite a bit of revenue to set up because of all the equipment and software. Whereas, craft spaces are just tables and chairs set up and the public brings their own materials and tools.

It's also quite a big difference going from the stereotypical quiet reading space to what has to be a noisy build area. Not sure how people who still want a quiet place to study are going to feel about that.

On a different note, it would be awesome to have my own Makerbot. Besides the obvious plus of having anything with "bot" tacked on to the end of it, i'm always looking for shit at stores that apparently doesn't exist. I could make my own! I sucked at CADD, though, so i'm not so sure about the whole 3D design part.


By min | November 15, 2011, 11:41 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Tell Them Global Warming Doesn't Exist

It's so bad in Mongolia, they're proposing building an ice shield. That's right. I said "ice shield". Science fiction continues to invade reality. Although, "ice shield" is very B-level sci-fi, not like robots or lasers...or robots that shoot lasers.

The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.
...
The Anglo-Mongolian company believe their proposed use in Ulan Bator could set a positive example that allows northern cities around the world to save on summer air conditioning costs, regulate drinking supplies, and create cool microclimates.

By min | November 15, 2011, 8:23 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (0) | Link



November 14, 2011

Hippos are Fast!

The Guardian tells me they can run up to 30mph. Picture 3 tons of that with the mouth and the teeth coming at you at 30mph.

I'm totally impressed the 52 yr old man and 7 yr old boy in the story managed to get up into a tree before the hippo got them.


By min | November 14, 2011, 2:54 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



November 12, 2011

Do You Still Beat Your Wife?

Here's a 1970s ad for a book that Boing Boing tells me "was available for cash or trade (the author accepted stamps), suggesting that this wasn't a mere money-making venture on the part of the author, but rather represented some kind of ideological quest."

Do You Still Beat Your Wife?

I'm curious about the "rollicking" that goes on in the book. It must be rollicking good fun to cause the wife to look so happy about the whole thing. Perhaps the Dead Milkmen is playing in the background...

I'm gonna beat my wife
I'm gonna beat my wife now
Gonna smack her with a 2x4

By min | November 12, 2011, 1:46 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



November 11, 2011

7-Eleven Hot Dog Potato Chips

Read about them at HuffPo.

Sadly, not vegan.


h/t wnkr

By min | November 11, 2011, 2:22 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



New Zelda for the Wii

Nintendo's Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is coming out on November 20th, just before Thanksgiving.

The Guardian review:

Skyward Sword is the first Zelda game designed from the start for the Wii's unique abilities and, as Link's sword has always been his mainstay, he's now able to wield it with precision: its movements mimic any motion you apply to the Wiimote.
...
As you would expect from a Zelda game, there's plenty of platform-style action, and a glorious set of puzzles which are all wildly inventive. You might have to shake objects out of trees using Link's run-and-roll attack, or swing from rope to rope by waving the Wiimote. Link can also use his sword to dowse, giving him an indication of where he needs to go to catch up with Zelda.

Despite the typically enchanting nature of the game, its difficulty level can be quite high at times. There are plenty of sub-quests to perform, and periodically, Link has to return to Skyloft, to help people out and restock potions, ammo and shields (which disintegrate annoyingly quickly).

Having witnessed the trouble fnord12's had during the fights in the previous Zelda games due to the camera angle flipping out or the control not being up for the accuracy required in the fight, i'm a bit wary of a game that depends so much on the Wii sensor accurately picking up your movements from the remote.

Ofc, compared to the the Xbox Kinect (watching friends desperately try to get the thing to sense their movement was hilarious and sad at the same time), the Wii is worlds better at knowing what you're doing and mimicking it, so mebbe it will work out just fine.

What i don't understand is why release a Zelda game now when the Wii U is about to come out in less than a year. With any new system, you're going to want games right away that are Nintendo staples - Mario and Zelda. Releasing Skyward Sword now indicates to me that it will be a few years before we see a Zelda game specifically for the Wii U.

Wouldn't a new Zelda game on a new system also look better graphically? As the review says, you're now getting a new Zelda game that highlights the Wii's limits instead. I can only assume it's part of a grander plan.


By min | November 11, 2011, 9:41 AM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



November 10, 2011

I know why

Paul O'Brien, in the Sales review from the previous post:

The first draft of this column noted that ALPHA FLIGHT had been upgraded to an ongoing series, so that Marvel were evidently happy with these numbers.

But according to the January solicitations, Marvel have changed their minds, and the book is ending with issue #8 after all. Since nothing particularly dramatic has happened to the sales since issue #2, it seems a reasonable inference that this is an outright U-turn and not simply a change of circumstances. A lesser company might find this sort of thing embarrassing.

Paul O'Brien doesn't know about "min's curse". She told us not to get too attached.


By fnord12 | November 10, 2011, 10:54 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Marvel Sales

September.

It's the DC 52 launch month, so Marvel's behind in units for once, and tied in dollars.

Also, none of the "point one" issues sold as well as the regular series, which means they all failed to bring in any new readers if that was, er, the point, and Marvel would have been better off just publishing another issue of the regular series. Shame. But i would spin this to further my pro-continuity agenda. These things were advertised as a clean jumping on point, but obviously retailers didn't think that any of their customers would be interested in reading a book if only they weren't so intimidated by ongoing storylines. If anything, some customers stayed away from these on the grounds that they wouldn't really "matter" from a continuity perspective. Therefore: more continuity!

I know that reasoning is flawed on multiple levels, but that's what i'm going with.

It's better than arguing that we need more variant covers, which is where the sales bumps really come from.


By fnord12 | November 10, 2011, 10:35 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Who can relate to insane dwarves?

Tom Tomorrow, reminding us that it's all been said before.


By fnord12 | November 10, 2011, 10:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



More Police Aggression at an Occupy Site

Cops repeatedly ram students with batons at Occupy Cal at UC Berkeley today.

What is it with cops and their love of beating down skinny teenagers? I've seen i before when fnord and i used to go to protests. It's not uncommon to see 3 beefy cops tackle a 19 yr old who prolly weighed all of 130lbs when wet. Is it the thrill of an opponent you know has no chance of fighting back, because if that's the case, i think we need better psychological criteria when deciding if someone should be allowed to carry around a weapon and use it at their discretion on the populace.


By min | November 10, 2011, 7:38 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Surprise Discovery: Fracking Contaminated an Aquifer!

Not so much of a surprise to people with brains, actually. Link

A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.

Last year -- after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered -- the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.

The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling -- and hydraulic fracturing in particular -- has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.

The gas industry -- led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion -- has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination.

How could they possibly blame the fracking? I mean, c'mon. Whose water hasn't turned black and started smelling like gasoline every once in a while? It's a normal, everyday occurrence in Nigeria. Buncha whiners.


By min | November 10, 2011, 5:58 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Random Lyrics Thursday

Get Him Back by Fiona Apple

One man, he disappoint me
He give me the gouge and he take my glee
Now every other man I see
Remind me of the one man who disappoint me

But wait till I get him back
He won't have a back to scratch
Yeah, keep turning that chin
And you will see my
Face as I figure how to kill what I cannot catch

So I say, and on I go
To another one to disappoint me so

Next one up, a contemptible snob
He live to put things in their place
He did a commendable job
He put himself so low
He can hardly even look me in the face

O, he made my blood just burn
I flipped so far, I thought that I would not return

But the last one I had who was getting my hopes up
I might've been a little fast to dismiss
I think he let me down when he didn't disappoint me
He didn't always guess right, but he usually got my gist

So wait till I get him back
I'm gonna bring him home and I'll watch him unpack
Yeah keep turning that chin
And you will see my face is fixed on the one
I'm gonna get back

I'm gonna get him back
I am
I'm gonna get him back
I really am



By min | November 10, 2011, 12:45 PM | Music | Comments (1) | Link



November 9, 2011

Recap #49.1

This adventure doesn't take place directly after the last recap (#43). It takes place during some as yet, to be determined future - Mimir's Furnace

Don't worry. We will pick up where we left off in Recap 43 soon.


By min | November 9, 2011, 10:31 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



Picard Maneuver

I've been wearing these sweatery shirts/vests lately and all of a sudden, i'm Jean Luc Picard (only the first 15 seconds are relevant):

Wil Wheaton explains:

"The Picard Maneuver" is what we called it when we would sit down, and straighten our two-piece space suits (which came into use in the third season.) Patrick Stewart, being a classically trained actor with the RSC, couldn't simply tug down on his uniform, and always did it with dramatic flair, earning the move its name.

All of us had a problem with our jackets bunching up and looking lame, so we all had to do our own version of "The Picard Maneuver" whenever we sat down. When I finally got my two piece space suit, I did it after sitting down at the CONN, and a particularly officious associate producer pulled me aside between takes and said, "Wil, you can't pull your jacket down when you sit down. That's the Picard Maneuver."

"How am I supposed to stop it from bunching up?" I said.

"I don't know," he said. "Just don't tug on it, okay?"

...

I also recall Johnathan Frakes always making a huge deal about doing the Picard Maneuver with the jacket on his space suit, pulling it down, tugging it from side to side, standing back up, yanking it down, sitting back down and tugging on his sleeves . . . I don't think I'm conveying how incredibly hilarious it was, but maybe you had to have been working on the Bridge for twelve hours to be in the same comedy space we were whenever he'd do it.

*sigh*


By min | November 9, 2011, 3:57 PM | My stupid life & TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link



High Speed Internet to Low Income Families

Link

Families who qualify for free school lunches will be able to sign up for $9.95 a month high-speed internet services from top cable providers.

Further, families eligible for free or reduced school lunches will be able to buy low-cost computers from leading technology companies.

...

The initiative is part of the Federal Communications Commission's effort to extend affordable broadband internet access across the United States.

A third of Americans, some 100 million people, do not have high-speed internet services in their homes, with cost being among the top barriers to broadband adoption.

"We think we're going to move the needle on the broadband adoption gap," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said of his hopes for the new commitments made to the Connect to Compete initiative launched last month.

Connect to Compete had already garnered commitments from nonprofit groups and companies including Microsoft Corp and retailer Best Buy Co to help boost digital literacy and computer skills.

Now the public-private initiative will see cable providers, including Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp, offer internet service at a fraction of the national average of $45 a month price, an FCC official said.

Eligible families will be able to sign up for the service during a three-year sign-up window starting in the spring in some areas with the offer going nationwide by next September to coincide with the school year.

Oh, what? AOL dialup not good enough for you?

It's good they remembered that discounted internet is useless without an affordable computer.


By min | November 9, 2011, 3:28 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



I stay at the nicest places

I didn't ask for the brochure.  I don't really want to know.

I know it's just California being California, and i suspect that there isn't a place on earth that isn't known by the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm. But it's still pretty terrifying. Can i go home now?


By fnord12 | November 9, 2011, 1:33 AM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



November 8, 2011

If Life Gives You Melons

You might be dyslexic.


By min | November 8, 2011, 7:30 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Land of the Free and Whatever

In NYC, they set up this thing called "Sky Watch" and get all twitchy when questioned about its purpose ("it's cause of terrorists"). In Oakland, the cops shot a guy with a rubber bullet for filming the Occupy protest.

We watched the military attacking protesters in several Middle Eastern countries during the Arab Spring, and our government officials released statements urging these governments not to use violence, claiming the moral high ground with certainty because the US allows its citizens to protest and would never attempt to stifle, much less use violence to silence, said protest. Well, they haven't rolled over anyone with a tank and nobody's been chased down by stick-wielding men on horses, so yay them. What's a little fractured skull and ruptured spleen compared to that? Afterall, nobody died. But don't worry. i'm sure the cops just need a little more practice before they get it just right.


By min | November 8, 2011, 6:48 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Supreme Court Considers Warrantless Use of GPS Tracking

Link

The question of whether police need a warrant to affix a GPS tracking device to a suspect's vehicle has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which begins hearing arguments today. A ruling is expected in the spring.

This case is important because some of the most profound questions relating to privacy in the 21st century turn directly on the handling of the information associated with mobile devices.

When you add in mobile phones, it's not only information on your location, but any information stored on your phone - contacts, emails, calendar info, personal notes, etc.

As pointed out in this article, legislation that is written keeps becoming obsolete very shortly after, if not before, it's passed.

As anyone who has used the newest smartphones can attest, the Ohio State Supreme Court's 2009 statement that cell phones are "are still, in essence, phones, and thus they are distinguishable from laptop computers" now sounds quaint. The belief expressed in the October 2011 court ruling that cell site information only provides approximate location information is already becoming obsolete as wireless network providers continue to upgrade their networks with higher density, smaller cell sites to support increased data traffic. In areas of high population density, cell site information acquired using these emerging networks will often deliver location accuracy rivaling that of GPS.

I know the current makeup of the Supreme Court is 4 crazies to 5 sane people, but i still worry that we might be screwed somehow.


By min | November 8, 2011, 6:00 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



According to Science Everything Seems Big to Me

This is just a very weird experiment to show that the way we perceive our bodies affects how we perceive the physical world.

A research group at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has managed to make people feel as though they actually inhabited bodies of vastly different size - either that of dolls or of giants. The researchers showed that this fundamentally changed the way people perceived the physical world. Those in smaller bodies felt as though they were in a world populated by giant hands and pencils the size of trees, while those in giant bodies felt the same objects to be tiny, toy-sized versions of the real thing.

In order to accomplish this trick of self-displacement, participants in the experiments lay on a bed and wore a head-mounted display connected to two video cameras. These cameras faced a fake body lying on a bed next to the participant; thus, when participants looked down toward their own bodies, they instead saw artificial bodies where their own should have been. These artificial bodies were either huge (a 13-foot form made of chicken wire) or very small (a Barbie Doll).

In order to make participants feel ownership over these false bodies, researchers employed a technique well known to those interested in body perception. Participants would place their hands out of view, perhaps under a table, while an artificial hand sat atop of the table. The experimenter then stroked both the obscured real hand and the visible fake hand synchronously. As a result, participants would witness a hand in roughly the same position as their own being touched in precisely the manner that they felt themselves to be touched. This had the effect of making the majority of participants feel the false hand to be their own. This method has been shown to work with whole bodies - it even allows a participant to feel as though he or she is sitting in another person's body, shaking hands with their self!

The bit about self-displacement relieves my mind, though. Those of you who don't scuffle very often may have never experienced this, but there have been times when tangled up during a fight that i've actually confused which limbs were mine. So now i know i'm not an idgit (shuts up). Woo.

At least this article recognizes this experiment sounds wacky and attempts to justify it with a practical and useful application of their findings.

Though to some, these experiments may seem to be no more than glorified parlor tricks, findings from this line of research have a very useful application. The same principles behind this body-swapping illusion were recently established to be an effective treatment for arthritis pain, since they allow sufferers to feel as though their cramped fingers are being stretched to impossible lengths, thus providing relief from their pain.

So the question on my mind is does this mean Reed Richards will never experience arthritis or is he screwed cause this type of treatment won't work for him? Mebbe he wouldn't try it anyway because it's too "undignified".


By min | November 8, 2011, 5:38 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



I Don't Get Art

Apparently, this is worth over a million dollars.

Martin Kippenberger Wenn's anfaengt durch die Decke zu tropfen (When it Starts Dripping from the Ceiling)

Or, rather, it was.

A cleaner with the best intentions accidentally destroyed a piece of art worth more than $1 million when she removed what she thought was a "stain" from the installation.
...
The piece of art, titled "When It Starts Dripping From The Ceilings," features a series of wooden planks and a (formerly) discolored plastic bowl. The artist, the late Martin Kippenberger, intended for viewers to understand that the bowl had been discolored by water running over the pieces of wood.

Look, if you need a bowl that's been discolored by water running over it, i've got plenty here at work you can have. It'll only cost you $250,000.


By min | November 8, 2011, 11:46 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



November 7, 2011

Lords of Light!

Call Bruce Willis! We need him to drill a hole in a space rock!

The interloping space rock, called asteroid 2005 YU55, will pass between Earth and the orbit of the moon on Tuesday (Nov. 8), but does not pose a threat to our planet, NASA scientists have said. The asteroid is about the size of an aircraft carrier, spanning approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters), and is the largest space rock to have a close encounter with Earth with advance notice in 35 years.

I know how it's going to end.


By min | November 7, 2011, 9:40 PM | Science & TeeVee | Comments (0) | Link



Disney and Youtube

So, i read this:

Disney Interactive Media and YouTube, a division of Google, will spend a combined $10 million to $15 million on original video series; those shorts will be produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel on Disney.com and YouTube.

Ok, whatever. Disney and Google coming up with an idea that makes them both money. No big surprise there. But then the next line is what i thought was weird.

The channel will also include amateur video culled from the torrent uploaded to YouTube daily.

Wait, what? Disney is going to sell advertising space and split the revenue with Youtube. That makes sense when they're posting their own videos. Exactly where do videos that other people have made and posted come into it? I'm sure there's no intention of splitting revenue with these amateur video makers. Are Disney and Youtube planning on making money off of other people's shit? Do these people want their videos on DIsney's site? Do they have a choice? Have they given up all rights to it by the mere act of using Youtube as a posting medium? What am i missing cause i'm totally ready to believe Disney's just being shady.


By min | November 7, 2011, 3:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Marvel Timeline Project announcements

Mentioned this on the Marvel Comics Chronology homepage, but just in case anyone is lurking here...

I've made some progress on my back issue backlog, but i'm going to be traveling this week. Min will keep the main blog entertaining, but there won't be any new chronocomic entries until next Sunday at the earliest.

Also, i may have bought a few more back issues beyond what's already listed on that backlog page, and getting through them will delay me getting to 1985.


By fnord12 | November 7, 2011, 9:06 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Villains For Hire #.1 - I like Abnett & Lanning's space stuff and New Mutants, but something about their Heroes For Hire series wasn't working for me. But when i heard it was becoming Villains For Hire, clearly i was going to try it again. In fact, the assumption was that i was going to like it so much that i was going to have to scramble to get all the HFH issues that i skipped. But so far, i think we'll just be going forward, and tentatively at that. I'm not so intrigued by Purple Man as the evil counterpart to Misty (i would have preferred Sidewinder, actually), and i still see a lot of the things i didn't like about the series: Misty is still behind a desk, and Paladin is still... in the series. But we'll see where it goes. On paper, i should love this book. It's Marvel Team-Up x 10 with a good creative team. Some geeky comments: 1) Don't try to sell me on the idea of a more powerful Stilt-Man because s/he has "serious tech upgrades". The original was given an adamantium suit and rocket launchers at one point. It didn't help. 2) When your power is teleporting and you're facing a guy wearing body armor and holding a gun, i recommend teleporting, not lunging at him unarmed like a doofus.

Avengers Academy #21 - When i expressed hesitation about all the new students showing up, i didn't realize that one of them was Lightspeed from Power Pack (i thought she was Ultra Girl). Now that i know the truth, i'm 100% on board. Plus this issue continues to focus on the core team and does a great job with characterization. A little disappointed that we're going to be dealing with the students' future-selves again, but i have have faith.

Hulk #44 - Yeah, i don't know what happened before, but i'm really enjoying this book again. The Hulk/Machine Man interactions were great, and i'm enjoying the plot. I was kind of expecting a big-headed Rigellian as the last page reveal, so Sultan Magus was a little bit of a let down, but that's ok.

New Mutants #33 - I guess the cover is deliberately invoking the Brett Blevins period, but it's a little weird and i'm glad the interior art doesn't look like that. Inside, i appreciate that i'm getting the bullet points on Schism (or i guess Regenesis) without having to wade in to any of that stuff. This book is leaps beyond XXX For Hire (and Earthfall) in terms of characterization and basic writing and i don't know why that is, but at least this book is good. Looking forward to the team continuing their "X-Men's Loose Ends" remit next issue. But what happened in this panel?

'I need a face.'

Penciler thought thought the inker would fill in Dani's face and the computer screens. Inker thought the colorist would do it. Editor asleep at the wheel.

Fear Itself #7.1 - I told you people if i didn't read it, it didn't actually happen. And therefore Bucky never died. This was good, and i'll enjoy a Winter Soldier series (is this in addition to the upcoming Winter Soldier stories in Captain America & Bucky, or was that whole series just a stalling ruse?).

Omac #3 - Psi-Fi Man who is also giant brain-stem man. Ambient Tech. Midget in a Max Rebo keyboard ring. Omac.

He's almost a Lobot/Max Rebo hybrid.

By fnord12 | November 7, 2011, 8:16 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



November 6, 2011

I'm Bossy?

You're so bossy, you ought to be milked before you come home at night.



--Robot Monster, 1953

By min | November 6, 2011, 10:27 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | Link



This is not a rerun

They still coudn't think of anything funnier for Iron Man to say, though.

A month after the Pizzazz ad i posted previously was published, it ran again, with some alterations to the dialogue. It's no longer a "kids' mag" and Spidey no longer references the first issue, but most interestingly, Daredevil's dialogue has been changed. I wonder if they realized their mistake or it wasn't a mistake but someone was offended by the joke.


By fnord12 | November 6, 2011, 12:38 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



November 4, 2011

Not doing so good

This is the 'maximum job loss aligned' chart.  Calculate Risk also has the 'starting-point aligned' chart.

Click the image to see Calculated Risk's analysis, and the post above it as well.

But instead i'm gonna quote this guy:

I feel like I'm in the movie Groundhog Day when it comes to the job numbers. I wake up on the first Friday each month to the same story -- subpar job growth, no budging in key indicators, the insanity of the "anti-stimulus" of bleeding government jobs - and then wake up to it again next month. This month looks like the past dozen: 80,000 jobs were created, while the government sector shed 24,000 jobs.
...
As unemployment only indicates the number of people actively searching for a job, and many are dropping out of the labor force and giving up on finding a job, the unemployment rate tells us less and less. And if the population is growing faster than the number of jobs created, we are losing out. The employment-population ratio tells us the actual rate at which we are employing people. It is currently at 58.4 percent, the same it was in January 2011.
...
But here's President Obama in the 2010 State of the Union giving the wrong message:
Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) -- when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand -- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -- all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

Given that 2011 has been a lost year for the economy so far, this kind of deficit hawk aggression was the exact wrong call.


By fnord12 | November 4, 2011, 3:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Sometimes i just link to Paul Krugman

Oligarchy obfuscators.
On hypocrite and patriots.

Just a point on this that i've made before: we're in a depression here. It's not really a good time to raise taxes on anyone. We can do that later, when unemployment isn't 9%. Now we need to create demand. We're only talking about raising taxes because certain people tried to pivot from economic recovery to deficit reduction. And if we need to reduce the deficit, then we need to tax the people who have all the money. They tried to use this economic crisis as an excuse to cut social programs, and it's backfired on them and now they're on the defensive. Thanks only to the Occupy Wallstreeters, not the Dem leaders.


By fnord12 | November 4, 2011, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avenger Academy #20 - I cringed when i saw the Fear Itself banner. How can this still be going on? But it's really an aftermath issue, and quite good. Interesting character developments for Veil, although you know it's a dumb move because she hasn't made a good choice yet in this series. The Molecule Man's son is not going to be a good influence on her. I'm not 100% sold on the new status quo; what i liked about this book over Avengers: The Initiative was its focus on a smaller cast, which gave more room for character development. But on the other hand i liked how that book pretty much let Gage write any minor Marvel character he wanted and it was usually good, so we'll see how it goes.

New Mutants #32 - Ugh, Fear Itself never dies. Listen, this book had some good scenes for Dani and her relationship with Hela (and the crow-eating scene was great), but this really isn't a great setting for the rest of the New Mutants, which means they get to stand around the whole time commenting on how useless they are until Hela turns them into a bunch of Asgardian warriors. Oh, and i'm sure learning about X-Man's back story is enough to defeat anyone.

Annihilation: Earthfall #2 - OK, so i was wrong about the Magus not being in this, and Abnett & Lanning give it a really cool twist that kinda saved this issue. Because the majority of was a big 1970s style Misunderstanding Fight, except in the 70s it would be like 3 pages and this was the entire issue (of a four issue mini!)(even after the real bad guys show up!). And really, all Quasar had to do was fly down and say, "Cap, trust me! We're the good guys here and we could use your help!". In addition to Quasar you've got Beta Ray Bill, who the Avengers know as a good guy, and Gladiator, who Wolverine should trust at this point (he even says so in this issue). So i was pretty disappointed by that, especially since i can't say the fight had any really cool scenes (except, maybe, Wolverine stabbing right through Gladiator's shoulder, but i have mixed feelings about that). The fight not being interesting is probably a problem with the artwork. Which, i'm sorry, is atrocious. Everyone is hideous and distorted, and the story telling is weak. I can't tell from panel to panel what's going on in that fight. Seriously, what's happening here? (Sorry for the quick scan).

'Ughn! Beta Ray? Did you forget that comic books are supposed to be a sequential art?'

And we have to do something about the dialogue, as well. No way Beta Ray Bill uses phrasing like, "That not letting them kill anyone thing?". And Ronan should speak in stilted high-villain talk, etc. Instead everyone sounds the same. I do like Ikon, and Spidey was funny ("Is she your space girlfriend?").

Look, i criticize because i love. (And because all nerds ever do is gripe, i know). Presumably, bringing this book to Earth was about making it possible to have the Avengers guest-star in order to bring in more readers to a series that's been getting critical acclaim but not a lot of readers. I support that! But this issue is not putting your best foot forward in that regard. But as i said, the ending was bizarro enough that i'm looking forward to next issue.

I guess i'll comment on the Rocket/Groot/Mojo story too - there's no way i was going to like this, but am i wrong in thinking that this is just about as generic a Mojo story as you can get? Two issues in, and we're at the point where the characters are realizing that they're trapped in one of his TV shows and starting to fight their way out. I think the semi-recent X-Babies series, of all things, gave that basic plot a better twist (at least we can be relatively sure that no Star characters will show up here). The good news is that Rocket and Groot are such enjoyable characters that they have their moments despite the plot.

Avengers Solo #1 - Not the biggest Hawkeye fan, but i'm buying this on the strength of Jen Van Meter. And the writing was good - the mystery Hawkeye is investigating seems complex and unusual enough, and i liked the dialogue. And, of course, i liked seeing Millie the Model and Paste Pot Pete. But i have to say, if you're going to use dark colors for atmosphere, it might make sense to not have two guys in generic armored suits in the same scene.

As for the Avengers Academy back-up, if the goal is to promote their great ongoing series, why put it in a Hawkeye book, which i don't think will be selling much better than Academy, and why not use the book's actual, great, creative team? And if it's not to promote their book... why have a back-up feature about characters who have their own series? The story was fine, but it wasn't anything special, so i just don't get it.

Captain America & Bucky #623 - Wow, really? The Holocaust? I mean, it's always there in the background of any WWII era retcon book (sure maybe Cap by himself couldn't have stopped it, but add in the Sub-Mariner, two Human Torches, and the rest of the Invaders and you have to wonder). You could always say that the heroes just didn't know about it. Until now (as far as i know, this is the first time we've seen evidence that the Golden Age heroes knew about it, but i wouldn't be surprised if someone could point something else out. even so, there's no reason to keep bringing it up.). And then, after showing it, there's just some quick hand-waving and then they basically say one thing led to another and we just never got around to going back and stopping one of the greatest evils ever perpetuated. Oh well! Some Winter Soldier stories next issue! On a much more geeky note (and thanks, Brubaker and Andreyko for making me mix my little continuity concerns with the goddamn Holocaust), i'm getting a little annoyed by the narration device in this series. It's been several issues of narration boxes with Bucky talking to someone about his past. It's the chattiest i've ever seen him (and i've seen him written by Roy Thomas!). What is he, on a psychiatrist's couch, just rambling through old memories? When do we find out who he's talking to? Yes, i'm asking because i'll eventually have to add these books to my timeline project, but it's also just dragging on as a storytelling device.

So basically, i'm cranky this week!


By fnord12 | November 4, 2011, 9:02 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



My Chair is Killing Me, Part 2 (or is it 3?)

So, we've learned that sitting is very bad for your back, and that it's not just bad for your back, but that it's literally killing you.

Well, now it's not just getting fat and getting diabetes or heart disease; it's cancer. Like, all of them.

Physical inactivity is linked to as many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer a year in the United States, said Christine Friedenreich, an epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care in Canada.
...
But her findings also suggested that an estimated 37,200 cases of lung cancer, 30,600 cases of prostate cancer, 12,000 cases of endometrial cancer and 1,800 cases of ovarian cancer could be prevented if people were more physically active.

The work adds to a growing body of research indicating that prolonged sitting has lethal consequences, regardless of how active people are the rest of the day.

"It seems highly likely that the longer you sit, the higher your risk [of cancer]," said Neville Owen, head of behavioral epidemiology at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, who also presented findings at the meeting. Owen's study showed that U.S. adults, on average, sit 15.5 hours a day.

...

However, there's good news. It seems that long, uninterrupted periods of sitting are what is most unhealthy, and that by frequently breaking up long bouts of sitting with just a few minutes of light exercise, a person can lower his or her cancer risk. Owen's study found that one- to two-minute breaks from sitting can reduce levels of molecules in the body that are linked with cancer risk.

If you follow the link on "prolonged sitting has lethal consequences", it brings you to an article that suggests the "best" type of chair for not killing you. Unlike the above post with the infographic that says it's best to sit at a 135° angle, this article says it's best to be perched on a stool so some of your weight is still on your legs. They also mention this chair (a Swopper) that sits on a spring that's supposedly good. The only problem is it's $700. I think i'll just stand. That's free.


(except, i prolly won't mostly because i'm one of the Couch-bound.)

By min | November 4, 2011, 8:40 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



November 3, 2011

Dental Hygiene En Route

The chick driving behind me was brushing her teeth. Ew.

And you know how they say people don't brush their teeth as long as they ought to? Not this chick. She was brushing for blocks and blocks. It's a wonder i didn't rear end anyone from the fascination of peeking at her through my rear-view mirror.


By min | November 3, 2011, 4:55 PM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link



November 2, 2011

Stan "The Rugged Mountain-Man" Lee

3. I've never read an issue of Pizzazz, but i bet it wasn't very good.

1. Every time i see this ad, i think, "That's not Stan Lee!".
2. I can't believe they were doing Blind Daredevil jokes back in 1978. I guess Twisted Toyfare Theater isn't all that original.


By fnord12 | November 2, 2011, 10:23 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



RU Doombot or Not?

Part III in a series. Part I. Part II.

Doombot RU Bot or Not?

It's robots all the way down with this one.

MODOK dares Dr. Doom to build a robot version of Bucky.

Most of these screenshots are from Captain America #130-132 by Lee/Colan/Ayers

Dr. Doom talks to himself because his every utterance is recorded for posterity.  Jim Shooter said so.

He then uses his mental powers to convince Baron Strucker to look for a Bucky lookalike, in order to use him to lure Captain America into a trap.

Anything to avoid looking at that giant floating head peering in my window.

Strucker scours the gyms of San Fransisco and eventually finds the Buckybot that MODOK planted.

You have to be a little suspicious of Strucker hanging around in San Fransisco gyms looking for boys.

Strucker, by the way, is walking around with a bag on his head, calling himself the Hood.

I'm sorry, sir.  I'm having trouble understanding you.  Is... is there a bag over your head, by chance?

And while we do get to see him without the hood...

He's also a believer in comfortable turtleneck sweaters, even during a fight.

...it will turn out, years later, that he's actually a robot himself, built by the Machinesmith.

These two panels are from Cap #247 by Stern/Byrne/Rubinstein

So, let's pause and reflect on what we've got so far. MODOK goads Dr. Doom to create a Buckybot, and then mentally manipulates a Baron von Struckerbot into finding it and using it against Cap. MODOK is awesome!

In the end, Dr. Doom built the robot so good that it overrides its own programming because it can't bring itself to kill Cap.

Surprising that there's no sound effect in that final panel.  I think i would add a 'ZOT!!'

So.. Doombot or not? I vote Bot. Awesome as MODOK is, i don't see Dr. Doom succumbing to peer pressure like that. Besides, everyone else is a damn robot in this story, so why not Doom?


By fnord12 | November 2, 2011, 4:05 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link



Bifurcate

bifurcate  [bahy-fer-keyt, bahy-fur-keyt; also bayh-fer-kit, bahy-fur-]

-v
to divide or fork into two branches.

-adj
divided into two branches.


By min | November 2, 2011, 2:22 PM | Good Words | Comments (2) | Link



November 1, 2011

Zombies are Insomniacs

From Scientific American:

Remember how one becomes a zombie in the first place? Through death, or Intercision, or, since this is a science blog and we need to explain this scientifically, through the effects of tetrodotoxin. In any case, the process incurs some permanent brain damage.

One of the brain centers that is thus permanently damaged is the circadian clock. But importantly, it is not just not ticking any more, it is in a permanent "day" state. What does that mean practically?

When the clock is in its "day" phase, it is very difficult to fall asleep. Thus insomnia.

When the clock is in its "day" phase, metabolism is high (higher than at night), thus zombies require a lot of energy all the time and quickly burn through all of it. Thus constant hunger for high-calory foods, like brains.

Insomnia, in turn, affects some hormones, like ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite. If you have a sleepless night or chronic insomnia, you also tend to eat more at night.

But at night the digestive function is high. As zombies' clock is in the day state, their digestion is not as efficient. They have huge appetite, they eat a lot, but they do not digest it well, and what they digest they immediately burn. Which explains why they tend not to get fat, while living humans with insomnia do.

Finally, they have problems with wounds, you may have noticed. Healing of wounds requires growth hormone. But growth hormone is secreted only during sleep (actually, during slow sleep phases) and is likewise affected by ghrelin.

In short, a lot of the zombies' physiology and behavior can be traced back to their loss of circadian function and having their clock being in a permanent "day" state.

Although, it is not true that insomniacs must therefore be zombies, i'd say we should all be wary just in case (i'm looking at you, fnord12).


(Ha! A zombie post filed under Science.)

By min | November 1, 2011, 3:11 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Japan's Making Their Own Super-Villains

Gaining super powers through science accidents and exposure to radioactivity is a time honored tradition in the comic universe.

Japan has been known to use it to make giant, rampaging monsters (that's right. that's a godzilla wiki). Done with the animal testing, it's now time for them to try it out on humans.

Yasuhiro Sonoda, an MP in the governing Democratic party of Japan (DPJ), was visibly nervous as his lips met a glass of water collected from inside two reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 44-year-old had been cajoled into making the gesture by journalists who repeatedly asked him to substantiate government claims that decontamination efforts at the plant were progressing.

I mean, sure, he could turn out to be a superhero instead but my money's on villain. If he becomes hideous, he'll blame the journalist for coming up with the idea and then the government for not protecting him against these types of journalists. If he isn't hideous, but just powerful, he's totally going to feel that now he has these fantastic powers, he's going to be opposite of that weenie he used to be, the weenie who got bullied into drinking radioactive water. Clearly.


By min | November 1, 2011, 11:22 AM | Comics & Godzilla & Science | Comments (0) | Link



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