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May 31, 2012

I guess i shouldn't so casually transition from serious real life and death issues to a comic book joke, but i guess that's what happens when this stuff becomes so commonplace and you're powerless to do anything about it

On Glenn Greenwald's blog, he often complains that liberals don't do enough to denounce Obama policies that they'd be screaming about if they were Bush policies. The latest topic is the drone planes, and i just want to make clear that i linked to Tom Tomorrow's Droney earlier this week, and here's a more serious (which isn't to say that Tom Tomorrow's version isn't ultimately more effective) take from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I talked to Cornel West for another piece I'm working on, and one thing he said sticks with me:
You have Martin Luther King's statue in your office, but you are sending these unmanned drones out, and bombs are dropping on innocent people. That's not a small thing. That's not a small thing. We know from historic examples that if you engage in a certain kind of foreign policy it eats at your soul on the domestic front.


And there is no real sense of an "end." Has there ever been a point since America's inception when someone, somewhere, wasn't plotting our downfall? I have great difficulty perceiving a time when this won't be true. And so drone strategy comes to self-replicate. We your village. You declare war on us for the bombing. We deem you a terrorist and bomb again. Rinse. Repeat.

The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard with an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.

Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.

I know that Glenn Greenwald isn't really mad at me, but i was accused of supporting Robert Kelley's Sentinel program over on the comic blog recently, so i wanted to clear the air.


By fnord12 | May 31, 2012, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



What French Kids are Reading

I highly recommend going through all 14 photos and reading all of the captions. It's truly worth it. At least get to the one with the angry koala with his hand on the penitent little girl's head.

I don't know why so many French children's books are so bafflingly, needlessly frightening. Before moving there, we lived in the Netherlands; they had the same rabbits with ethnically varied chums and dinosaur mummies tucking up dinosaur babies as we do in the UK. I also can't envisage the publishing meeting in which someone says 'Hey! I've got this great kids' book where a girl puts her head in a plastic bag!' ('La Tête dans le Sac') and everyone thinks what a fine idea, but - tant pis. Here are a few examples (more on my blog), all courtesy of the Médiathèque d'Antibes, which is shut on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, Thursday and Friday mornings, and 12-2pm Wednesday and Saturday, but when open has the most helpful (and rested) librarians to be found anywhere.

Did that woman just turn Angela into a wooden puppet for stealing one of her cherries? Yes. Yes she did. -- Jenny Colgan on storify.com

By min | May 31, 2012, 10:26 AM | Boooooks | Comments (1) | Link



May 30, 2012

And another thing!

Just two additional complaints that came out of my Speed Reviews that i've separated out because they're more meta/state of the industry gripes than about specific issues. Both relate to the Hulk, actually.

1. I wanted to see when and where Doc Samson died, and Wikipedia helpfully pointed me to Incredible Hulk #610. I wanted to see if i could blame the death on Jeph Loeb (and no, it's by Pak), so i went to the good old reliable Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators. Well, through no fault of its own, it was a little less reliable this time. Because with all the goddamn renumberings and other nonense, there's been like 8 series called Incredible Hulk, and it took me a while to figure out which one was relevant. I know complaining about the re-numberings and reboots is dismissed as a fanboy complaint with no consequences for actual sales, but this sure makes it harder to find back issues, which you would think would be a concern for retailers.

2. When this current Hulk storyline started, i realized it was building off of events from the aborted crossover that eventually got buried in the oddly numbered Venom point issues. So i decided i'd pick up those issues. Wanyas and i have both been trying to get them all, and now the final issue is finally on its way from mycomicshop.com and i'll probably get it some time next week. So it took, what?, three months and a major concentrated effort that no normal person would ever bother with, and in the meantime this story is already over. Again, it seems like it would be in someone's interest besides mine to make recent back issues more readily available for people who belatedly decide something seems worth buying.


By fnord12 | May 30, 2012, 11:18 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Lots of books to go through and i'm doing even less than my usual minimal proofreading, so i apologize in advance, yadda yadda, you've heard it all before...

Exiled #1, Journey Into Mystery #637, New Mutants #42, Journey Into Mystery #638 - Got these all at once, so i might as well review them all together. I really liked this! Young Loki the RPG-er was great, and the other Asgardians-as-regular-people were fun, too. I was a little concerned because i feel like (this might not even be true, but it feels true) the Dsir, having been introduced recently, have suddenly been in a lot of stories and i was getting sick of them , but i really enjoyed the twist on the known origin for them, and i like the way the resolution is shaping up. Paul O'Brien has been sort of struggling with whether or not this crossover has any real relevance to whatever themes the New Mutants are supposed to have. My take is that in the Marvel Universe it's ok to occasionally just have a nice random event that breaks from a particular book's normal topics. Plus Dani Moonstar is a Valkyrie and Warlock has a pet hellhound (and i could read a whole series about just that), and that's enough for me.

Hulk Smash Avengers #3 - It's definitely true that the covers of this books are their biggest selling point. It's probably at least partially why i felt drawn to them (that, and to torture myself when i get to adding these to my project). Now this issue is by Roger Stern, so i had higher hopes for it and i guess i can say they were met. Certainly the pardoned, Mantlo-intelligent Hulk era is one where the Hulk/Avengers meetings could have used some expansion, and Stern was the one to do it. But, while the story was well written, i don't think the plot gave a great opportunity for the Avengers to reconcile with the idea of the Hulk as a hero. Nor did it deliver on "Hulk Smash Avengers", but i guess i'm taking the series title too literally. I have no problem watching the Hulk and the Avengers fight the Leader's Humanoids, so this was fine. I think the tribute to Gruenwald and Buscema was a little strange and distracting. I see on the Marvel Chronology Project message boards that this one requires us to gloss over some temporal references ("The other day", "Yesterday") to make this fit in the intended spot, but due to Marvel's sliding timescale i tend to ignore those anyway. On the topic of sliding timescale, however, it's really not necessary to rub it in our faces with comments about the Wasp dating George Clooney and Sean Combs.

Hulk Smash Avengers #4 - Again going by the MCP boards (especially Michael, who also sometimes comments here), it seems we're going to have to assume that the West Coast Avengers decided that it was "old costume" day before going to Vegas, and it definitely won't fit where the editors intended. Although wherever Tigra is hiding her tail must be a little uncomfortable. On the plus side, this issue does actually feature the Hulk smashing. But of all the Hulks to smash the Avengers, the grey version is the least likely to do so, especially on a team containing Wonder Man and Iron Man. That scene with Iron Man failing to pick up the scrawny little grey Hulk (what is he, .75 tons?) had me thinking of an older issue i reviewed recently, when Stark picked up *Godzilla* while wearing a replica of his original grey suit. I did like how this one ended, with Stark and Mr. Fixit coming to terms.

Winter Soldier #5 - If only the whole world could have been in the car with us when Wanyas presented his opinion of this series. My caps lock button would need a caps lock button to do it justice. And i certainly agree with him. It's inconceivable that you could publish a Dr. Doom vs. Super Apes story that was this boring. I will admit that towards the back of the issue there was a panel with Dr. Doom actually fighting a gorilla with a gun. Yeah. The monkey's ass was facing the camera, and the rest of the fight happened off panel. Thanks. Ugh. And this issue ends with the exciting teaser: Whatever happened to some other assassin schmuck that the Red Ghost trained? Who cares? Whatever happened to the gorillas that he trained? Oh, and who the hell is in charge of Latveria these days? Kristoff? I hope Mark Waid over on Daredevil knows that. No, it must be Doom, right? Otherwise he wouldn't have been in the embassy. So what's this about missiles pointed at Kristoff? I guess i missed something by not reading Hickman's FF(s)?

X-Factor #236 - I guess Peter David has a point to make here about reality television, but it's worth remembering that just because you can make Mojo relevant again doesn't mean you should make Mojo relevant again. Based on the cover and the clearly satirical villain i was expecting more of a straight-up parody issue, but this was a straightforward fight and i should probably be happy about that knowing my dislike of modern PAD's humor.

Daredevil #13 - I'm glad this is wrapped up (unless Daredevil's arrival in Latveria is a continuation), and i thought the ploy with the Avengers was really cool, and if nothing else i appreciate the introduction of the word Megacrime into our lexicon. But i still say DD should have publicly handed the drive over to the Avengers and let them say, "That's right, we have it. Come and get it."

Avengers vs. X-Men #4 - It's dawning on me that this book is not what i thought it was going to be. I knew it would have no plot, and it's meeting my expectations on that front. So clearly it was going to be a big fight series, right? Nope. That's apparently what AvX is. If you haven't read this Wall Street Journal book review that goes off on a wild ranty tangent about comics in general yet, you should (i don't necessarily agree with all of it), but for now i'll quote this:

The story is told in two titles, one called "Avengers vs. X-Men," with a big "AvX" logo on the front, and the other called "AvX," with a big "Avengers vs. X-Men" logo on the front, presumably so you can keep them straight.

So, nothing happens in this book. Meanwhile, there's a million tie-ins, all of which tread water so as to not step on the toes of the main book or the other tie-ins. And then there's the supplemental book which is where all the action's been segregated to. If you took all of that and squeezed it down into, say, a nine issue mini-series, you might actually have a story. And while i'm all riled up, how come Wolverine can re-grow his entire body from charred cinders last issue but this issue he has to wear a dead polar bear to keep warm?

Avengers #26 - I feel like it's mean to say that the cover was really bad, but it was. The interior art was better, but why does Simonson draw all those lines all over Thor's face and no one else's? As for the plot, we all know this "we've captured some of the Phoenix essence in Thor's hammer" plotline is going nowhere relevant to the main series, right? I guess i still like Marvel Boy's conflicting loyalties plotline, although we have to admit that this character is just miles and miles away from what he started at under Morrison, and i have no idea yet why he's so loyal to a Supreme Intelligence that isn't even from his own dimension. And i guess here is as good a place as any to ask why the Phoenix is an actual big flaming bird that's flying very visibly to Earth in a way that it never has done before?

Avengers Academy #30 - I don't know if Shaw's revelation about his powers will satisfy min's earlier questions or send her back to her college physics textbooks, but it doesn't seem consistent with how his powers were depicted in the past. I guess it's fair for power creep to affect bad guys too, in any event. I really love this book, by the way. X-23 and Finesse's conversation was just great, Taki's "No! He's a good sentinel! We play basketball." was brilliant, and Hercules was awesome as always (although i wish he had gotten a few more licks in). I think Gage is amazing. If i were his editor, at this point every month i'd randomly pick 20 characters out of the Marvel Handbook at random and demand that he write a good story about them that gave each character time to shine and developed some overall theme (like, is it ok to imprison kids with dangerous powers and questionable loyalty during a time of war), and i'd be confident that he'd do it. He deserves a higher profile book. I hear Bendis is leaving the Avengers...

Captain America #12 - Hello, imaginary person who has picked up a Captain America comic because he liked him in the recent Avengers movie. I feel very sorry for you because you don't know who Scourge is, you don't know who Henry Gyrich is, and you don't know who D-Man is. You have my assurance that if you did know all of that, this book would be awesome. I can tell you that the writer, Brubaker, has nailed Gyrich's personality and is using him in a really cool way. And this Scourge plotline has nice callbacks to ancient comics history but is doing it in an innovative new way. So i feel bad for you, imaginary new reader, but quite frankly, i wouldn't change a thing in this book, so you're just going to have to do what i did when i first started reading comics, and just stick around and go with the flow until you start picking stuff up, and then start picking up back issues to fill in the blanks. (That's my answer to the parts of the WSJ article above that i don't agree with.)

Hulk #52 - Yeah, i was right. This issue was much better than the last one, thanks to the Legion of Monsters. I don't know who "Manphibian" is, and i'm not sure if he belongs in a comic that kids might buy, but this issue was a lot of fun. Now, i didn't know that Doc Samson was dead, and i don't think he should have been killed (really? After turning three supporting characters into Hulks, you kill off the one guy that actually has had established Hulk powers for decades?) and i'm hoping this issue doesn't in any way prevent his eventual resurrection, but that aside, i liked this. Also, i can't stop thinking the words "Doc Samson" in the voice of Molotov Cocktease from the Venture Bros.

Thunderbolts #174 - There's a very timely (heh) satirical post on MightyGodKing on the "rules" of time travel, but i actually liked all the sideline conversations during these time travel stories about the mechanics of time travel. I didn't expect it to boil into an actual plot point, but i'm glad it did. I thought this plot was interesting and the Fixer-loop will be a nice additional layer when i get to re-reading my older Thunderbolts issues. I know i was more tolerant of the meandering time-travel plotline than most, but i didn't realize that it was going to last until the end of the series, and knowing that, i might have joined the voices calling for an earlier return to the present. But it was nice to see the series end in a story re-visiting the beginning. And i'm glad that Parker got Ghost back into the past as well, because i really do like this final cast. Mr. Hyde, Troll, Centurius, Ghost, and Satana have all been great characters along with the more traditional ones (the double-Moonstones were enjoyably devious, too). Great stuff. I haven't looked at any previews, so i don't know if the reboot to Dark Avengers will really be Osborn's Dark Avengers redux #3 or a continuation/evolution with these characters, but here's hoping that if we do stick the word "Avengers" into the title that it'll keep a Parker-written book going longer (although it doesn't seem to be working for Gage on Academy).


By fnord12 | May 30, 2012, 7:58 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Project Pterosaur

H/T Eelz

They've already amassed 75% of their funding! It's going to ruin everything! They're going to reveal our lies about evolution and the age of the Earth to the world! Oh noes! What ever shall we do??

The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Furthermore, the rookery facility will establish a breeding colony of pterosaurs in order to produce specimens that could then be put on display by other regional institutions or church groups.

By doing all this, we hope to accomplish three goals:

  1. Support Creation Theory by showing the incorrectness of the philosophy of Evolutionism.
  2. Educate the population about Creation Science.
  3. Create excitement about Creation and the Bible in the public.
...
Evolutionists have engaged in a propaganda campaign to trick the public into falsely believing that the Earth is billions of years old and that many animals which lived side-by-side with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden actually died millions of years before humans were created (or "evolved" in their twisted view.) By finding and displaying living examples of what the Evolutionists claim is impossible, we will sow the seeds of Evolutionism doubt, thereby making the public receptive to the truth of the Bible.

While there are other extant creatures which Evolutionists claim have gone extinct long before man, they are not as ideal for our purposes as pterosaur.

...

In comparison, pterosaurs are a blessing from the Lord: Many reported living species are of reasonable size, making housing and care affordable; although they've become carnivorous, they should be as trainable as the birds of prey commonly allowed to interact with zoo visitors during bird shows; their life cycle appears to be relatively short, making it easier to establish a productive breeding program; and finally, historical and modern reports of pterosaurs are much more common than any of the other Evolutionistically anomalous cryptids, suggesting that large populations are waiting to be revealed to our increasingly unbelieving world.

According to these explorers, the unexplored wildernesses in Africa can "easily hide pterosaur colonies". Yes, colonies (plural) of 11 meter flying dinosaurs are hiding out in Africa and Google Maps never noticed.

I can't wait for the bird shows. I imagine them consisting of pterosaurs snatching children from the audience.


By min | May 30, 2012, 3:41 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (4) | Link



May 29, 2012

Anguirus Ball (tm)

Inspired by our latest Godzilla marathon, i started poking around looking at Godzilla video games again. The most recent one to come out for the Wii (it's several years old now, and out of print) seems to have a huge cast of playable characters, which is interesting at least in theory. In practice, i have no desire to play a fighting game with the Wii remote, nor do i wish to spend hours unlocking all those characters only to eventually face up to the fact that no one else wants to play the game with me (especially after i mastered the game by playing it for hours to unlock all the characters).

But in my "research" i did find a blog from one of the developers of the game, who has a really interesting story about how the game wound up influencing the last Godzilla movie, Final Wars.


By fnord12 | May 29, 2012, 3:54 PM | Godzilla & Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



If You're Stumped About What to Get Me For My Birthday

And happened to have $1300 you've been hoping to get rid of...

There's always the three-volume letter-pressed edition of Pride and Prejudice.


By min | May 29, 2012, 3:25 PM | Boooooks | Comments (1) | Link



Come for the Political Terrorism. Stay for the Ethnic Cleansing

Link

With a line-up that includes Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, and Ricky Martin, the UN's choice of ambassadors has been known to cause raised eyebrows or the odd smirk.

Seldom, however, has there been such anger, or questioning of the organisation's credibility, as that greeting the appointment of a new international envoy for tourism: Robert Mugabe.

Improbable as it seems, the Zimbabwean president, who is widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorising opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy, has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking.

Despite that fact Mugabe, 88, is under a travel ban, he has been honoured as a "leader for tourism" by the UN's World Tourism Organisation, along with his political ally, Zambian president Michael Sata, 75.

I'd like to see their list of criteria for choosing envoys for tourism. Perhaps Syria's al-Assad is on next year's list.


By min | May 29, 2012, 1:29 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Droney

Tom Tomorrow introduces a new character.


By fnord12 | May 29, 2012, 12:39 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



I am one of the three dozen people mentioned

Mysterious Cities of Gold sequel coming soon !


By fnord12 | May 29, 2012, 11:10 AM | TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link



May 28, 2012

If only i had some radioactive clay

Cranium leads to Godzilla.  In fact, all roads lead to Godzilla.

By fnord12 | May 28, 2012, 2:54 PM | Godzilla & My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link



May 27, 2012

Appropriately Festive Beverage Choice for a BBQ

Tears of Gettysburg:

Fruity with a hint of despair.

By min | May 27, 2012, 6:35 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



Fruit Tart

vegan fruit tart

Ingredients

  • 4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I've found it to be nigh impossible to find vegan graham crackers, so when i'm too lazy to make them - read "always" - i just get those pre-made crusts and mash them up)
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 T butter, melted (we like Earth Balance sticks)
  • 2 T water
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese, room temperature (we like Tofutti)
  • 6 oz lemon soy yogurt (Can't find lemon yogurt? Me either. Substitute a container of vanilla with 1/4-1/2 tsp of lemon juice.)
  • 2 generous T vegan honey (we like Suzanne's Specialties)
  • Fruit - This particular tart contained 1 qt strawberries* (halved), 1/2 pint blueberries, and 2 kiwis (sliced). Use whatever you like. Star fruit's always tasty.
  • 1 T apricot jam

Grease an 11-inch tart pan. Mash up your graham crackers to make crumbs, as necessary. Mix in the wheat germ and ginger.

Preheat the oven to 350degF.

Combine the melted butter and water. Add this to the graham cracker mixture, stirring with a fork. Press moistened mixture into the tart pan. Bake for 10 min. Set aside to cool.

In another bowl, combine the cream cheese, yogurt, and 1 T honey. Whisk until smooth. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate for an hour to set.

Layer cut fruit over the filling. Combine the remaining 1 T honey and apricot jam in a bowl. Microwave briefly to melt the jam. Stir to mix and cool slightly before brushing/drizzling over the fruit.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.


*Strawberry Weep: Here's the thing about strawberries - if you cut them and then use them in something that's wet or has sugar, you're going to end up with strawberry juice leaking all over your once picture perfect dessert. It's still delicious, but now everything's pink and drippy. To prevent this, i slice my strawberries up ahead of time, lay them on a cloth-covered platter, and stick the platter in the fridge uncovered for an hour or so. The strawberries are still juicy and delicious, but no messy drippage.

By min | May 27, 2012, 4:05 PM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (4) | Link



May 25, 2012

I would have called it "Manda". But then, i also would have put Manda in the movie for more than 3 minutes.

As part of our seemingly annual Godzillathon, we're delving into some of the non-Godzilla movies in the Toho universe. Atragon features the sea dragon Manda, who later appears in Destroy All Monsters, and the submarine is also featured in Final Wars. But it's funny seeing how many titles the submarine/story has. Not entirely uncommon for Godzilla-ish movies, but this one's especially convoluted.

From Wikipedia. All emphasis mine.

Atragon, released in Japan as Undersea Warship... is a 1963 Toho tokusatsu film based on a series of juvenile adventure novels under the banner Kaitei Gunkan by Shunro Oshikawa (heavily influenced by Jules Verne) and the illustrated story Kaitei Okoku ("The Undersea Kingdom") by illustrator Shigeru Komatsuzaki, serialized in a monthly magazine for boys.

...It features ... the super submarine, Gotengo (or Roaring Heaven). While the name of the ship is recited as "Gotengo" in Japanese, it should be rendered as "Goten" in English; as the suffix, (go), simply denotes the object as a ship. For the English-language U.S. version, released in 1965 by American International Pictures, the supersub itself was dubbed Atragon, which had been shortened from Toho's own foreign sales title, Atoragon. Confusion over the actual Japanese title of the film by non-Japanese speakers, has led many to assume the original title...to be "Undersea Battleship"; unfortunately, the Japanese term for "Battleship"...is nowhere to be found in the title. Since ...(Gunkan) should be correctly rendered as "Warship", therefore, the film should be correctly transliterated as Undersea Warship.

On reading further, it seems "Atragon" is a contraction of Atomic Dragon, so i guess it does refer to Manda? If so, you'd think you'd give your titular character more screen time.

Update: I wrote this post after letting a little time pass and i had forgotten that the name Atragon, short for Atomic Dragon, actually does refer to the Goten-Go, not Manda. Regardless, Manda still should have gotten more screen time.


By fnord12 | May 25, 2012, 3:48 PM | Godzilla | Comments (0) | Link



Heh heh heh. Anything to revive gripes about Brand New Day.

Tom Brevoort on why Northstar's marriage is ok but Spider-Man's wasn't.


By fnord12 | May 25, 2012, 9:38 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Infinity is the new 65

Dean Baker looks at the latest sneaky way to reduce social security benefits.

Jay Ackroyd says:

Make no mistake. There is a Beltway consensus to cut Social Security benefits--that they're gonna raise the retirement age, and also reduce the COLA. They just have to find a way to do it that will leave nobody accountable.

Combine with Forbes' 6 Reasons You Will Never Retire for maximum fun.


By fnord12 | May 25, 2012, 9:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



May 21, 2012

Bipartisan support for domestic propaganda

Via Buzzfeed:

The amendment would "strike the current ban on domestic dissemination" of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee's official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts--the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987--that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government's misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

This amendment has already passed in the House.


By fnord12 | May 21, 2012, 10:32 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



May 18, 2012

Avengers Arsenal Gear

I think 'Thor' knows that he looks ridiculous.  That expression says, 'Yeah, but i'm getting paid.'

I'll tell you one thing. It's not a proper Hulk costume without a picture of the Hulk on your Hulk costume.


By fnord12 | May 18, 2012, 6:02 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



May 16, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Hulk Smash Avengers #1 - When i saw the ad for these books, my heart sunk because i knew i was going to have to buy them. I can't say why, exactly, but it was clear that Marvel was publishing them just to annoy me and i had to go along with it. Stern and Van Lente writing some of the books was definitely a factor, but there was something more that just said, "You must buy these... but you won't like them." And, indeed, this issue was a bore. A continuity insert like this can't really add a significant new event, but it can offer something new in terms of character insight, or help smooth over some of the rough planning-in-realtime from the original issues, but this issue just offered a generic story, the lesson of which, if anything, was "The Hulk really liked Rick Jones". It didn't even really deliver on "Hulk Smash Avengers", since most of the Avengers team was occupied fighting the Masters of Evil. The Frenz/Buscema art was nice in a classic/nostalgic way, but Tom DeFalco's attempts at mimicking Stan Lee fell really flat. And if the idea really was that the Avengers were trying to recruit the Hulk in the beginning of this issue, they were doing a terrible job of it. Now the other aspect of a book like this is "Where does it fit?" or "*Does* it fit?" in continuity. The opening page is oddly vague about that, saying it takes place between Avengers #7 and #14. With the "Special thanks to Tom Brennan & Tom Brevoort", i assume some research was actually done, which is appreciated, and i'm sure it can be crammed in somewhere, but a few things stood out as "wrong". All are minor nitpicks, to be sure. But the Hulk's "madder Hulk gets, stronger Hulk gets", which is a key plot point here, known to both the Hulk and the Avengers, wasn't really established or (i thought) in effect at this point. That happens circa Tales to Astonish #70, when the Hulk's intellect is in decline, which would be after Avengers #14. Then there's the Hulk's first published encounter with the Executioner (in TTA #77), of which the Executioner says in their second encounter "with whom I did do battle once before". We can read that very literally and say that since Hulk and Executioner never actually battled in this issue, we're in the clear (or chalk it up to the hazy memories of an immortal Asgardian and the many monsters he's bumped into over the ages). I told you these were minor complaints (i can name a few more, but i realize i'm being ridiculous). I just don't see that this story accomplishes anything useful and therefore these little bumps seem an unnecessary price to pay for a bland story.

Hulk Smash Avengers #2 - I liked this one somewhat better. I thought the stylized art was at least interesting (although, unlike issue #1, clearly not meant to fit in with the time period it's supposed to take place during). And the characters were at least acting more rationally. I'm not sure Gyrich deliberately setting up the team to fail fits his character, but i guess it's not out of bounds. And i think the revelation in the end, that the Avengers could reach out to the Hulk and try being his friend, is nice enough but unfortunately it makes the team look like idiots for never following up on it. Still, this gives me hope for the Stern and Van Lente issues.

Avengers Assemble #3 - I really wanted this to be the book that hooked new or lapsed fans from the movie, but it's really just not very good, is it? And surely they wouldn't really sully Thanos by using him in this series, so hopefully that's a feint.

Captain America #11 - Missing Alan Davis, but this was well written and decently drawn. This isn't Brubaker's fault, but the idea of introducing a new Scourge the way this story does would be mind-blowingly awesome if we haven't had like 30 other Scourges running around as recently as the Thunderbolts and Villains For Hire series. Because it really was a cool set-up and a cool reveal. Imagine if there hadn't been a Scourge since the 1980s, and then you read those last few panels. You'd be like "Cooool!". Instead it's like, "Huh, another Scourge.". Oh well. I think it'll still be a good story.

New Avengers #26 - Like i said about last issue: i have no idea what the implications of this K'un-Lun/Phoenix connection are or where this is going, but i am intrigued. Now regarding the appearance of Leonardo Da Vinci, Agent of SHIELD: i studiously avoided Hickman's series at the time but i guess there's no denying that it's in continuity and i like that Bendis always picks up on other writer's contributions to the Marvel Universe. I came very close to adding the SHIELD trades to my Amazon cart after reading this issue but i've held off so far.

Hulk #51 - Speaking of writers picking up on other writers contributions to the MU, here's the Forgiven, which i guess are Marvel's Least Interesting Vampires™. This was fine. Last issue was better, and i suspect next issue with the Legion of Monsters will be more fun as well, but this was fine.

X-Men Legacy #266 - Yeah, whatever. I knew buying these tie-ins would be a bad move.

Avenging Spider-Man #7 - What happened to Zeb Wells?


By fnord12 | May 16, 2012, 12:46 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link



May 11, 2012

I Clearly Went Into the Wrong Kind of Engineering

If someone had told me that choosing another path could have resulted in me being able to build a Portal Turret as my final project, mebbe i'd still be an engineer.

Also, i'm now nauseous from watching that.


By min | May 11, 2012, 5:43 PM | Video Games | Comments (0) | Link



I Did a Little Experiment

And it caused me no little pain, let me tell you.

I've spent the last 4 days listening to Z100 on my drive home.

It all started because i had left my ipod in the other car from over the wkend. We keep a disc of mp3s in each car just in case such a situation occurs. But a few weeks ago, when a couple of our friends were in town, they verified that 13 year olds are indeed still listening to the radio. And i thought, hey, let me see what passes for pop music nowadays during the 20 minutes it takes for me to get home from work. So, for the next 4 days, i tuned in to Z100.

Holy crap!

Did the commercial breaks always last 10 minutes when we listened to radio? And did they used to only play 2 songs before going into another 10 minutes of commercials? One time, i got in the car just as they played the last commercial followed by the "Commercial-free music" bumper. I thought "Perfect. Now I'll get to hear the max number of songs on my drive." The "commercial-free" period lasted exactly 2 songs. They clearly mean they don't play commercials during the songs. To be honest, after hearing said 2 songs, i can't say that wouldn't actually have been an improvement.

Remember when Cher came out with Believe in 1998? There were some jokes made about how Cher discovered the vocorder 20 years after everybody else did. Well, i think they started handing them out wholesale, cause that seems to be the "instrument" of choice for today's pop stars.

I've been trying to remember what was playing on the radio back in the 80s and 90s so i could compare the radio songs of my time with what's playing now. I'm not saying that what i was listening to then was super fantastic or anything (i'm looking at you, Wham!), but i felt like there was at least a smidgen of variety between songs (Wham! did not sound like Madonna did not sound like U2). All 4 songs i actually got to listen to in the 4 days had exactly the same dance beat/synth thing going on. Lyrically...oy. Let's not judge them on content but instead ask why is it that all of the songs seem to follow the same cadence?

I tried to do the morning show thing on my commute to work. Yeah. That wasn't happening. I turned that off in the first 2 minutes.

So, what have I concluded after 4 days of testing? I'm old, today's youngsters are listening to crap (get off my lawn!), and PC Richards and Son is the place to go for all your Mother's Day needs.


By min | May 11, 2012, 12:38 PM | Music & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



May 10, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Daredevil #12 - So the downside to my Marvel Timeline Project is every time i read a comic like this, which goes into an extended flashback that covers new ground on Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson in law school, instead of just enjoying it, i'm busy worrying about what contradictions it's going to introduce. I don't think this particular flashback actually hurts anything (although the idea that Foggy was possibly secretly financing Matt's education is new information), but something Waid's DD series in general has been pushing is the idea that Foggy is the better academic lawyer, whereas Matt is the courtroom super-star (and, of course, the super-sleuth and human lie detector) but not all that familiar with case law. There's some support for this in past runs depicting "modern" Nelson & Murdock, but i think flashbacks showing the law school years generally depicted Foggy as bungling and amazed by Matt's ability to breeze his classes. I actually like Waid's way of making both characters useful in their own way so i'm happy to let it slide, but these are the things that go through my head, just so you know. Beyond that, i'm worried that Waid is losing focus a little with this series. The appeal with this reboot of Daredevil was really, "Yes, we know that Daredevil's been through tragedy after tragedy for the past couple of decades, but we're just going to blow past all that and have him put on a happy face and fight super-villains outside his traditional rogue's gallery like the Spot, Klaw, and Mole Man". And in the background, you have Foggy looking at his friend and worrying about what his cheerful avoidance says about his sanity, but that was basically an out to bring back the grim & gritty stuff at some future date and to maintain continuity with the past. But really we just want to read some fun Daredevil stories. I mention all this because 1) the Omega Whatever storyline is going on too long and it's putting all of Matt's friends at great risk, which for those of us who've read a couple of Daredevil stories is a very real threat that we've seen acted upon on more than one occasion and 2) No one, at this point, wants to see a new love interest introduced in Daredevil. Unless her name starts with Black, the odds of her eventually being turned into a druggy porn star and/or killed or at least traumatically frightened are pretty high, whatever Waid's current intentions (which, again, at least involve being threatened by one of the Omega super-gangs). Similar with the Secret ID thing; i like the way Waid got around that initially: everyone knows it but Matt's willfully pretending otherwise and after a while it settles back to rumor status. But having the Secret ID and the pursuit thereof being an actual plot point makes us stare it in the face, which (i thought) wasn't the idea. All of this is caveated with the caution that it may be Waid's intention to start tearing down the facade that Matt has constructed for himself. Waid's a good writer, and this issue is fine (artwise too). Just making sure we know where we're going.

X-Factor #235 - I know i've been vacillating wildy on this book and we're reaching increased frequency because now i'm going between loving and hating it within a single issue. I didn't think i was going to like the goofy take on vigilante heroes, which isn't something we really need a "take" on in a world that has actual super-heroes, but i liked the idea of X-Factor infiltrating the group. Then i got really annoyed by the exaggerated fighting between Havoc and Madrox. Then i liked the humanizing dialogue with the vigilantes and some of the other character interactions, and then i thought the big baddie who showed up at the end was pretty lame. But he's so 90s lame that he must be a parody designed to fight the ultimate 90s character Shatterstar, right? So, who knows what i think? One thing i do know is that since PAD is so jokey it's really best to pair him with an artist that really plays it straight - i remember the Starlin two-parter in Captain Marvel being a huge uptick compared to the surrounding issues, for example (but again, it's Starlin and we were comparing him to ChrisChross), but instead the artists for this series tend to ham it up and go with exaggerated facial expressions and poses which exacerbate the farcical dialogue. I think Kirk is a good artist and the art on the series is fine; i'm just asking for everyone to please tone it down.

Avengers Academy #29 - Whenever Gage starts writing some new characters from another series that i haven't read, i go through a couple of stages. First, "oh boy, now i have to read about these losers". Then, "hey, these characters are actually interesting! Now i'm regretting not following their old series. I need to make a mycomicshop order!". Then, "Waaaaiitaminute! I probably won't like them if they're not by Gage. Or will i...? Now what do i do?!?". And with the addition of the X-Children (why aren't they called the New Mutants?) to this series, i was prepared to go through my Gage Stages, and i did, but not quite in the way i expected. Because instead of focusing on the X-Kids (who i actually felt were a bit undeveloped here), i found myself thinking, "Sebastian Shaw is an amnesiac, and he's hanging around with the X-Men's extended family? That's lame." And then "Hey, that book bonking idea was really cool, i guess this version of Shaw is actually interesting, what did i miss regarding him previously?". Then as usual i caught myself. But clearly i enjoyed that and thought it was a cool use of Shaw's powers. And i enjoyed the book more generally too. Great scene with Mettle and Loa. And Hercules' appearance is certainly welcome and i hope he sticks around. And i know there were "budget cuts" that affected the artist on this book, but i think the art is looking good.

Avengers vs. X-Men #3 - Ok, let's just reveal that Wolverine has secretly been replaced with Mr. Immortal. It'll save all of us a lot of agitation. I mean honestly. Especially if during the same issue you're going to have him square off against Captain America and expect us to think Cap has a plausible chance of winning against a guy who can regenerate all his flash-fried flesh back in an hour and then go running off in search of a new fight. Also, having your characters say out loud "Hey, we're acting out of character!" doesn't really solve the problem. That said, we knew what we were getting into for this series, and i like the old school JLA/Avengers-Defenders War approach of having the teams split up and go to various Marvel specific locales where they will presumably have to fight each other again. That's all we're in it for, so just skip the plot and get them fighting.


By fnord12 | May 10, 2012, 9:04 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



What Did He Think Was Going to Happen?

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is now saying the police have arrested his sister-in-law and detained his nephew in retaliation for the humiliation he caused when he escaped house arrest. Well, duh. Any of your known associates are prolly in trouble now, too. That's how it works.

I'm not really sure what he expected the outcome of his escape to the U.S. Embassy to be. There was no way the U.S. would risk relations with China over this. Did he not think that as soon as he escaped and made it public, the government wouldn't immediately threaten his family in order to get him to cooperate?

And as for all this talk about him going to school in the States, i assume it was all lip service. I figure this is what the actual negotiations between the U.S. and China were about. How do we make it look like the U.S. actually cares while allowing China to not get screwed? I know! We'll put it out that China's agreed (due to persuasive talking by the U.S. team) to let him go to school in the U.S. That'll appease the American news viewers and they'll forget all about it in a week or two, moving on to the next exciting thing. Then China can go back to doing whatever the hell they want to this guy.

I'll be surprised if they actually let him leave. I imagine more threats to his family and friends over the situation until he capitulates. It might go something like this: Sure, go ahead to America with your family. Just know that the rest of your family and friends who still live here will be under our scrutiny (scrutiny meaning "we're totally going to arrest them and beat them up whenever we feel like it").

I'm not saying he should have accepted his situation in order to not rock the boat. I'm just wondering if he thought this through and if this is the outcome he was hoping for or if he really did expect the U.S., champion of human rights that we are, to sweep in and protect him and his loved ones. If it's the latter, then i'm very sorry he fell prey to the propaganda.


By min | May 10, 2012, 10:20 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



May 9, 2012

Trying not to panic!

Interesting how this (that link uses the wayback machine because the original has linkrotted) comes right on top of some comments on the Marvel Reading Order project:

Marvel have long been hinting that AvX is going to definitively solve one of the 'problems' that affects the X-Men: in a world where anybody can be a superhero, why would the general population have it out for mutants?...

A separate, parallel world for the X-Men to run about in would definitely help Marvel in two ways: it would shake the X-Men off their shiny movie-driven Avengers franchise, and it would give the X-Men a place to be hated and feared in. Is that what we're seeing here?

This is all pure speculation at this point, of course, so i won't start ranting about the end again. But there was some wild theorizing earlier that the coming of the Phoenix in AvX would end in a DC-like reboot of Marvel, and this sounds like a half-step in that direction. But one that would be easy enough to reverse, i suppose. Anyway, i'm officially Not Reacting to this yet.


By fnord12 | May 9, 2012, 3:33 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Save time by skipping letters

Saw this on the side of my Yahoo mail:

It relly wrks!

By fnord12 | May 9, 2012, 1:00 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Synethesia

Aha!, she says. People who claim to see auras aren't total cranks!

In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. Synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people or letters with a particular color.
...
In basic neurological terms, synesthesia is thought to be due to cross-wiring in the brain of some people (synesthetes); in other words, synesthetes present more synaptic connections than "normal" people. "These extra connections cause them to automatically establish associations between brain areas that are not normally interconnected," professor Gomez Milán explains. New research suggests that many healers claiming to see the aura of people might have this condition.

I think this might count as having High Mastery in Miyagi Power-Up. I'm jealous. I want to be a crank.


By min | May 9, 2012, 11:53 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



Fictional Characters Can Affect Your Behavior

I'm really posting this because i think it's funny that they used the BBC Pride & Prejudice for the picture. Before i clicked on it, i thought it was going to be an article about how 17 years later, some people still think of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.


By min | May 9, 2012, 10:42 AM | Boooooks | Comments (0) | Link



Who's the Bigger Idiot? Tim Bishop, Walter Jones, or USAid?

I'm too annoyed to give it a proper intro, so you'll just have to read the article for yourself.

Yes. Teaching people English is exactly the reason why jobs are getting moved offshore. It couldn't possibly be because it's cheaper for companies to do so. And they most definitely wouldn't have their own programs to teach employees English before getting them to work at their call centers. It's all USAid's fault for trying to help people have a better life.

How about you make it expensive for U.S.-based companies to move jobs offshore? How about that, assholes?


By min | May 9, 2012, 10:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



May 8, 2012

Comics for new Avengers fans

Todd Allen at The Beat has some suggestions. I think he dismisses both Bendis' and Roger Stern's runs too easily. You're never going to get a run that includes all the characters from the movie, especially when you've got the Hulk in the mix. And like it or not, the older comics have a more stilted dialogue that isn't going to appeal to everyone, which is why i think Bendis may be the way to go.

But clearly, the best comic to give anyone newly intrigued by any Marvel super-heroes movie is Secret Wars.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2012, 2:52 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Marvel Sales

March.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2012, 2:51 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Military as stumped about SHIELD as comic readers

I don't mean to turn this into an all-Avengers movie blog, but the popularity of the move is such that it spills into the political blogs that i read, and the synergy is too much for me to resist.

This one is about the US Military's involvement in the Avengers movie. They were originally helping out, as they have done in many movies, including the first Iron Man, but they couldn't wrap their heads around SHIELD. Is it a US organization? If so, what's the constitutional justification. Is it an international body? If so, on what grounds does the US military participate?

Frankly (as the article does a decent job of showing, although only with recent examples), it's always been a little unclear in the comics as well.

In any event, i don't really need my super-hero movies to secretly be military promotional vehicles anyway, so i'm glad they pulled out.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2012, 2:05 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (3) | Link



Brown Fat Versus White Fat

The dreaded visceral fat:

Brown fat expends energy, while its counterpart, white fat stores it. The danger in white fat cells, along with the increased risk for diabetes and heart disease it poses, seems especially linked to visceral fat.
...
[T]he researchers found that knocking down expression of the Aldh1a1 gene by injecting antisense molecules into mice made fat by diet resulted in less visceral fat, less weight gain, lower glucose levels, and protection against cold exposure as compared to control mice.

It helps you lose weight and gives you an X in Cold Survival!


By min | May 8, 2012, 12:22 PM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



How To Make Manhattan Streets More Dangerous

What might sound like a great idea to some makes me think "are you out of your freakin mind?" Link

Citi Bike, due to launch in July, will be the largest public bike share system in the US, with bikes placed in 600 docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Citi has paid $41m to sponsor the scheme, in return for royal blue branding across bikes and stations.

The scheme will be operated by Alta bicycle share, which runs similar projects in Washington DC and Boston.

"The idea behind bike share is simple: give people one more way to get around town," Bloomberg said in a statement.

"The new Citi Bikes will be an affordable, entirely new, 24/7 transportation network that will help New Yorkers get where they're going faster. When the walk seems a little far, New Yorkers can choose to skip the hike, and take a bike."

Yeah. Bike share. Great. There aren't exactly bike paths that go from Downtown to Uptown. Have you heard the complaints from bike messengers about getting creamed by car doors suddenly being opened in front of them? Or getting cut off by a vehicle making a right turn? Now you're going to set loose a group of people inexperienced with riding a bike on Manhattan roads (e.g. tourists) and say good luck? Oy.

And if they don't get hurt by accident, i'm pretty sure some frustrated cabbie is going to start taking them out on purpose**.

Then there's the riders who want to be "safe" and try to ride their bikes on the sidewalks. Oh yeah. That's going to go over really well.




**For an example of how you might die by taxi if you don't cross the street properly, ask typer195.


By min | May 8, 2012, 11:32 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



May 7, 2012

Time to make superhero movies more like comics

Alyssa Rosenberg again:


"Why The Avengers was so exciting to watch," Ben Kuchera wrote in his review of the movie at Penny Arcade, "was that once you have every character set up and properly introduced by their previous films you can do anything. The script doesn't have to spend time and dialog explaining who everyone is and where they came from...They each arrive on the screen fully formed, without the dullness of a well-worn origin story weighing them down."

I think he's right, and he's nailed something important about where we are in the development of comic book movies. Some, if not all, movie franchise are finally fully behaving like comic books, giving us extended explorations of individual characters that intersect with and then diverge from other characters we're spending time with in parallel, and examining new iterations of characters before the memory of the last version of the same figure has faded. To some critics, that means we've succumbed to an efficient, corporatized entertainment system that hits the same beats over and over again. Certainly, one of the reasons Spider-Man is rebooting is so Sony keeps its rights to the character and doesn't let them revert back to Marvel. And if the lesson Marvel takes from the massive success of The Avengers is that pure repetition is a gold mine, that would be too bad. But I also think that the willingness by Marvel to give us more than six-odd hours over three movies with a set of characters presents an opportunity to demand richer, more unusual, deeper explorations of characters, to turn action movies into the kind of meditations we're more accustomed to getting from television.

Or, you know, like comic books. We've been saying this for years, of course, but if it took an awesome Avengers movie to get the point across, i'm fine with it.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2012, 2:14 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (0) | Link



Powdered Baby Capsules

China, this is not helpful. Westerners are already up in arms about your eating habits.

South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies, which some people believe can cure disease.

The capsules were made in north-east China from babies whose bodies were chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, the Korean customs service said.

Another article i read said the pills were dangerous because they contained bacteria. So, not only disgusting, but they might kill you. That's about right for Chinese medicines.

I hold out hope that it will turn out to be a hoax.


By min | May 7, 2012, 12:33 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link



Round peg, round hole

I do worry that the puzzles i set up for my players will wind up like this, but on the other hand i find it's usually better to underestimate their puzzle solving ability and keep it simple.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2012, 11:27 AM | Comics & D&D | Comments (6) | Link



May 4, 2012

Shorter New York Times Review of the Avengers

I don't like super-hero movies, so even though i actually enjoyed the movie, i didn't like it.

For a much more positive review, here's Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress.

My own (real this time, and still spoiler free) review is that it was a lot of fun. It knocks Iron Man 1 out of the Top Superhero Movie slot for me. Every character got plenty of attention. Great dialogue, great characterization, and the action sequences were really good (to the best that i could tell: 3D sucks and i don't understand why they continue to inflict it on us). And that's all i'll say to avoid giving anything away, except that Nick Fury's gun wasn't big enough.


By fnord12 | May 4, 2012, 4:09 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (1) | Link



May 3, 2012

Recaps 45 and 46

For your reading pleasure, a double feature this time.

Recap 45: Race Against Time
and
Recap 46: Ding Dong the Lich is Dead

Enjoy.


By min | May 3, 2012, 2:22 PM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



And somewhere, somehow, they should have worked in the line "Ooh la la Badoon"

We got to see a slightly advanced screening of the Avengers movie last night (thanks Bob!), and here are my thoughts: It's cool how all the released previews were a total fake-out, with the Loki/Badoon plot just being used for the "team formation" portion of the story and wrapped up in a quick 45 minutes or so. Pivoting over to a Masters of Evil plotline was really cool, and i liked how they were able to use mainly existing movie villains from each of the team members' solo movies, just like in the comics, without resorting to any resurrections or repeats. Arnim Zola was a real surprise which i am of course really happy about, and i liked the depiction of the Executioner and the Enchantress as well. I was surprised about the inclusion of Screaming Mimi and especially the Beetle (who i would have thought was reserved as part of the Spider-Man licensing and therefore not available), but from the post-credit teaser it looks like they're setting up for a Thunderbolts story for the sequel, which will be AWESOME.


By fnord12 | May 3, 2012, 12:05 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (2) | Link



So the answer is "No."

Matthew Yglesias asks us to all to get along:

There's an interesting debate under way as to whether or not Democrats have "gotten more liberal" over the past 10-15 years that I think is hard to understand without first taking as background the basic long-term fiscal problem facing the United States.

The way this goes is that for a long time now we've been committed to providing health care services to the elderly, the disabled, and the poor and also to bolstering the general incomes of elderly people. Maintaining these commitments is projected to grow considerably more expensive in the future. Consequently, thanks to baseline games everyone thinks they're wise and moderate and everyone else is crazy. Start with Paul Ryan and his acolytes. Ryan's basic view is that all he's trying to do is ensure that the federal government's spending is brought in line with historic norms about the level of taxation. He's a conservative, to be sure, and this agenda is clearly animated by a belief that high taxes are bad. But far from a radical effort to scale back the welfare state, it's a sensible effort to preserve the status quo. On the other hand, serious liberals say all they're trying to do is to preserve America's historic social safety net. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all longstanding politically popular programs that are effective at achieving their program calls and appear to do so in a cost-effective manner. Obviously it's liberal to say that maintaining these historic achievements of American liberalism is important, but it's hardly radical to simply insist that we not shred effective and popular programs.

If so, then the "more liberal/more conservative" framework needs to be dropped. Years ago, we made some commitments. Now those commitments have gotten more expensive. So we can have an honest debate about whether or not we should back ourselves out of those commitments or stick to them. But Republicans aren't approaching this debate from that perspective; they're saying that Obama is the most liberal president ever and he's bankrupting our country with new government spending. And that's not true*. So when Democrats react to those (false) claims by stating (correctly, but arguably hyperbolic-ally) that Republicans want to shred the social safety net, i think it's an understandable response.

*The ACA is the one new program that Obama and the Democrats have added, and everyone with a calculator actually agrees that it's a modest cost-saving measure, not an additional commitment. If there are facts to present to debate that point, i'm fine with that too. But all arguments against the ACA that i've seen conflate long term medical cost growth with the ACA.


By fnord12 | May 3, 2012, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



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