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September 27, 2012

We are rock stars

Our band has been more or less defunct while we wait for our guitarist's and bass player's kids to grow up, but recently a friend alerted us to the fact that they were finding us on Spotify. That was a mystery until we remembered that we had told CDBaby that it was ok to stream the songs from our first album. Like three years ago! So we logged into the CDBaby account for the first time in years, and lo and behold:

Lead Singer Syndrome's get rich quick scheme.

Dude! We are halfway to having CDBaby cut us a $10 check! Think of all the comics i could buy with 1/4th of $10. Almost one!

I'd like to thank everyone who listened to one of our songs for a few seconds before clicking Next.


By fnord12 | September 27, 2012, 10:18 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



If You Don't Think 850 Calories for 1 Meal is Sufficient, You Might Have a Condition

Like a very large tapeworm.

Healthier school lunches, required for the first time this year, are getting some push back from students and teachers across the United States who say they are still hungry after eating the noon meal.
...
Other students from Massachusetts to South Dakota have spoken out about the new meals on websites and blogs, and some are brown-bagging it as a boycott to the healthier school meals.
...
There are several key differences between the previous standards and the updated ones. For instance, the old standards for lunch required that a daily minimum of 825 calories be offered to seventh through 12th graders; the updated standards call for a minimum of 750 calories and a maximum of 850 calories that can offered at lunch for high school students.

The meat guidelines are more complex. The old standards set a 1.5- to 2-ounce daily minimum of a meat or meat alternate such as cheese, peanut butter or tofu. Now there is a daily minimum and weekly maximums. So for instance, high school students must be served at least two ounces of a meat or meat alternate daily as a minimum, but that can't exceed 12 ounces on a weekly basis. Younger kids are offered less. There are similar requirements for grains.

Link

So, not only do the guidelines make sure they get a minimum of 750 calories, they make sure they get at least 2 ounces of protein. With a max of 12 ounces in a 5 day school week, that's 2.4 oz per lunch. What exactly is the problem here?

One problem might be the part where the students and teachers are confusing the word "lunch" with "your meal for the day".

Grund calls Sharon Springs "a very small farming and ranching community. I do own animals. I do chores before school and I have football practice after school and then chores after that, and I need a large healthy meal to help me get through the day."

How about breakfast before school? And i'm pretty sure the concept of the "after school snack" still exists.

Or perhaps the schools need to figure out that "healthy" meals don't just mean those that adhere to the calorie guidelines.

"We had chicken nuggets one day. Last year, we got six and this year we only got three," says Callahan Grund, a 16-year-old football player at Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, Kan., who is featured in the video. "We had pork cutlets the other day and that was really small compared to last year."

No wonder this kid's complaining. If fnord12 tried to present this to me as a meal, i would accuse him of trying to starve me to death. Who here thinks 3 chicken nuggets is a meal? If you do, you're prolly also one of those sick, sick bastards who agrees with the "1 cookie equals a serving" thing. Freaks.

But chicken nuggets and pork cutlets are prolly pretty damn high in fat and calories, so if they want to stay within the limits, the school can only give you tiny, itty bitty portions. How about something less breaded and dipped in fatty goodness, eh? Then mebbe the farming footballers could get a decent meal without having cholesterol problems.

And because i'm an asshole and can't resist this juvenile dig at people who have portion-size complaints, i give you the "I have a complaint about the quantity of your product" post. That's 600lbs of men, you know.


By min | September 27, 2012, 2:25 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



We can't handle jokes right now!

We all fell for the Mitt Romney airplane window thing, and i'm still not sure about that Forbes article, and now there's this crazy Politico article. The article was riffing off of a Charles P. Pierce post in Esquire with this quote:

If the Republican ticket loses in November, the rush by Mr. Ryan and other 2016 hopefuls to position themselves for the Iowa caucuses "is going to look like Best Buy the night after Thanksgiving," said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa. "I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he'll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him."

So Politico wrote their weird article about how Ryan is now calling Romney "the stench" and everyone took it at face value. Roger Simon has now said it was meant to be satire and reading the article it's pretty clear that that was the case, but in our ADD world, satire needs to be a little more obvious. People go to the Politico for news (i imagine; i mean, i don't know why you would go there at all). On page two of the article, if you bothered to click it, there's the "PowerPoint was invented to euthanize cattle" bit which would be a clue that something odd was going on here, but as satire the piece is generally weak. I missed this in realtime so i've got no personal stake in it but look: we're all a little stressed right now so maybe it's best if Politico leaves the satire to the professionals at The Onion and the Philadelphia Trumpet.


By fnord12 | September 27, 2012, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Watch Out Media - You Could Be Charged with Treason

To temper my two previous bizarro posts, here's a depressing "the state of our country" post from Glenn Greenwald:

It seems clear that the US military now deems any leaks of classified information to constitute the capital offense of "aiding the enemy" or "communicating with the enemy" even if no information is passed directly to the "enemy" and there is no intent to aid or communicate with them. Merely informing the public about classified government activities now constitutes this capital crime because it "indirectly" informs the enemy.

The implications of this theory are as obvious as they are disturbing. If someone can be charged with "aiding" or "communicating with the enemy" by virtue of leaking to WikiLeaks, then why wouldn't that same crime be committed by someone leaking classified information to any outlet: the New York Times, the Guardian, ABC News or anyone else? In other words, does this theory not inevitably and necessarily make all leaking of all classified information - whether to WikiLeaks or any media outlet - a capital offense: treason or a related crime?

Bradley Manning and Wikileaks are the focus of the military's ire at the moment, but it's not hard to see how it could easily include the usual media outlets. People might look at Wikileaks as this shady operation, so it might sit fine with some to term them as "the enemy". But how are you going to feel next time when the news outlets get grouped in the mix, too? As Greenwald points out in this article, the New York Times has certainly leaked more sensitive information many times.

Of course, that outcome would almost certainly be a feature, not a bug, for Obama officials. This is, after all, the same administration that has prosecuted whistleblowers under espionage charges that threatened to send them to prison for life without any evidence of harm to national security, and has brought double the number of such prosecutions as all prior administrations combined. Converting all leaks into capital offenses would be perfectly consistent with the unprecedented secrecy fixation on the part of the Most Transparent Administration Everâ„¢.

The irony from these developments is glaring. The real "enemies" of American "society" are not those who seek to inform the American people about the bad acts engaged in by their government in secret. As Democrats once recognized prior to the age of Obama - in the age of Daniel Ellsberg - people who do that are more aptly referred to as "heroes". The actual "enemies" are those who abuse secrecy powers to conceal government actions and to threaten with life imprisonment or even execution those who blow the whistle on high-level wrongdoing.

Mebbe that's how things used to be. Now the theme of the decade is "Keep your head down and don't make waves if you know what's good for you." Certainly an ideal one can look up to. Yay, Obama.


By min | September 27, 2012, 12:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Bagel Heads

Today is apparently weird news day.

The bizarre look is created by injecting saline into the forehead until it swells up, and then pressing in the centre of the swollen area with a thumb.

The result gives the appearance that someone has the doughnut-shaped bread stuck to their head.

The process takes two hours to complete, but lasts just 16-24 hours, after which the saline is absorbed by the body and the forehead skinks to its normal size.

If you click on the link, you'll see pictures of people with bulges in their foreheads. Fair warning - it's kinda squicky.

This'll make you guys out there cross your legs:

The saline injections can be done on any part of the body -- some people have even had "scrotal infusions".

*shudder*


By min | September 27, 2012, 12:06 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Brainwave Controlled Tail

I found this on 3Yen. They tell me it's a real thing.

And, ofc, it connects to your smartphone, too. What would be the point of wearing a tail that is connected to your brain if it couldn't also let your FB friends know where you are at any given time.


By min | September 27, 2012, 12:00 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



September 26, 2012

Forbes moves into The Onion's turf

I hedged my bets on the Romney airplane window which turned out to be a good move, so i'm going to also allow that this article might be, nay must be, satire.

Nearly every day there's yet another headline proclaiming how Millennials and teens aren't interested in driving and owning cars...

...The reason Millennials are turning away from cars is simply because no one is giving them vehicles they want....

Today's teens and Millennials are often called the entitled generation for a reason. They expect to drive their very own fully-loaded luxury vehicle with retractable roof and multi-speaker audio system. If they can't have their specific dream car, then they don't want anything and won't waste time getting a driver's license. Past generations of young drivers, by comparison, were satisfied with any piece of metal that moved.

My brother and I, like many other Millennials, weren't willing to downgrade, compromise, or to be forced to drive a parent's vehicle. I received my license at age seventeen only after I had my red convertible sitting in the driveway. My brother refused to even look at the driver's manual until he received his BMW at age eighteen. It is this sense of entitlement that is reshaping how automakers market and develop vehicles to appeal to Millennials.

"My parents let me borrow the station wagon on weekends" never sounded so much like "I had to walk to school barefoot in the snow" before.


By fnord12 | September 26, 2012, 7:45 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



September 25, 2012

Terror

I was feeling a little rah-rah after seeing the latest Obama poll numbers earlier today, but this article brought me back down. It's sad that even with an election coming up there's no one to vote for that will stop this.


By fnord12 | September 25, 2012, 1:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Drawing the line on calorie labels

An article on Ezra Klein's blog about the new calorie labeling requirements (the nutshell is that people generally appreciate the labels but so far it's not changing eating habits). But it ends with this guy:

I did find one customer who had noticed the calorie labels: Dick Nigon of Sterling, Va. He and his wife, Lea, had stopped by McDonald's after seeing an exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. Dick had ordered for the couple, noticed the calorie labels and liked them.

"I like that you have the information before you order," he told me, when I asked about the labels. "It's better than some kind of government health mandate in Obamacare."

I told him that the calorie labels were, in fact, a government health mandate in Obamacare.

"Well that changes things a bit," he responded. "I thought this was more of a voluntary sort of thing. Now I'm not quite sure how I feel about it."

He and his wife talked it over a bit -- she eating her grilled chicken sandwich, him eating a Big Mac -- and didn't come to much of a conclusion about whether this was a good idea.

"The government does do certain things to make us healthy," Dick said. "But you have to draw the line somewhere."

You have to admire the honesty of the guy. I think we all have to admit that our opinions are influenced by where something comes from. Heck, i'm more likely to decide i like a comic book if i already know it's by a writer i like. We're all tribal animals. But I would probably do a "Huh, well i guess i have to give him credit for this, at least!" type of thing if confronted with something like that. Not this guy.

Also of interest, a commenter links to another article saying the labels are having more of an effect on the restaurants than the customers.


By fnord12 | September 25, 2012, 1:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



September 24, 2012

Surely he's joking

This is all over the internets:

Romney's wife, Ann, was in attendance, and the candidate spoke of the concern he had for her when her plane had to make an emergency landing Friday en route to Santa Monica because of an electrical malfunction.

"I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don't think she knows just how worried some of us were," Romney said. "When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she's safe and sound."

I dunno; i want to hear the audio on this. I mean, he was at an event, and Dennis Miller was going to speak. So i'm really hoping he was making a joke. Because - forget being president - anyone who doesn't understand why you can't open windows on a plane is to dumb to, well, breathe.

Update: Confirmed that he was kidding. Thank god.


By fnord12 | September 24, 2012, 4:30 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



Why congress can't get things done

I know i've been a sort of Yglesias/Drum clearing house lately, and on that grounds i passed on this when i originally read these posts on Friday, but then Friday night we were catching up on our Ricky Gervais show backlog and they had a bit about how in Greek times a group of citizens were randomly picked, on an occasional basis, to propose a few laws which would then get voted on via referendum (i'm roughly paraphrasing here due to not being able to fully hear the details due to Friday night shenanigans), and i think that's a great idea since it circumvents congress and would allow some popular laws to get enacted.

So back to these posts for why we'd have to circumvent congress.

Yglesias is nearly in conspiracy territory:

Well, roughly because there's no political percentage in writing a bill that passes. Increased immigration of foreign technical experts isn't just widely popular among policy analysts and opinion leaders, it's a key priority for high-tech companies. So legislators have the goal not so much of doing what the tech companies want, as trying to structure the situation so as to align the tech companies with their partisan interests. So Texas Republican Lamar Smith's challenge was to write a bill that did what the tech companies wanted (more visas for skilled foreigners) but that wouldn't actually pass the House of Representatives. He took a two-step approach to this. One was to ensure that each new visa for a skilled foreigner would be offset by one fewer visa allocated under the current system. That helped gin up Democratic opposition. Then the House leadership ensured the bill would be introduced under rules that required a two-thirds vote for passage. The combination of the ruleset and the poison pill was sufficient to achieve Rep Smith's objective--overwhelming GOP support for a bill tech companies love and that failed in the House.

Conversely, the way Democrats like to play this issue when they have the majority is by linking increased immigration of high-skill foreigners to a broader comprehensive immigration reform package that creates a path to citizenship for current undocumented residents. That way it's Republicans who block what the tech companies want.

One moral of the story is that everything about Congress is terrible. Another moral of the story is that American politics is both more and less polarized than it seems. Less because it's not actually true that Democrats and Republicans disagree about everything--the polariztion of voting patterns is in part an artificial construct of agenda control.

Drum's explanation is a little more mundane:

Whenever there's a contentious bill on the table, at least a few pundits will start to suggest that instead of something big, Congress should "go small." Why not just pass the two or three things that everyone agrees on and leave the hard stuff for later?

But the reason is obvious, and it's not wholly down to partisan cynicism: it's those easy parts that help grease the skids for the bigger, harder-to-pass bill. If you pass all the popular stuff on its own, you're left solely with a bunch of controversial and/or unpopular bits, and what chance does that have to pass? About zero. Passing the small, popular bits on their own basically dooms your chances of ever sweetening up a comprehensive bill enough to get a majority of Congress to swallow it in the face of all the sour bits they're going to have to swallow alongside it. So you save those bits for later. That's politics.

Back to the Greek idea, the truth is it's fairly utopian and probably would be more of a danger than a blessing in a large modern society. In fact, the example that Yglesias uses as a springboard, handing out more work permits to high-skilled foreigners with STEM degrees, isn't necessarily something i agree with! But it's an interesting thought experiment.


By fnord12 | September 24, 2012, 11:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



This is What Astrid Calls Encouragement?

I use Astrid as my task manager/reminder app. In the beginning, everytime i got a reminder, i also got a cheerleaderish encouraging statement. "You can do it!" or "You're almost done!". Since the latest update, it's gotten a little creepy.


how does it know i'm susceptible to guilt tactics?   i'm a little suspicious of a squid monster working for Team Order.

I'm concerned the next update will make it fully sentient.


By min | September 24, 2012, 10:28 AM | My stupid life | Comments (0) | Link



September 20, 2012

Like avocados? Thank NAFTA

So says Yglesias, courting not a little controversy, as seen in the comments.


By fnord12 | September 20, 2012, 4:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Inflation is the point

I've been waiting for Paul Krugman to re-explain why we actually want the Fed's QE3 action to result in higher inflation so that i can link to it (because i'm too lazy to try to put it in my own words), and he does today, but actually i think Kevin Drum's version is a little more digestible:

Nonetheless, higher inflation would be good. The simplest way to see this is to look at interest rates. Once the Fed has reduced interest rates to zero, it can't go any further. But what if the economy is so bad that all the standard models suggest you need negative interest rates to get the economy back on track? The only answer is higher inflation. If inflation is running at 2% and interest rates are at zero, the real interest rate is -2%. If you borrow money, you're effectively being allowed to pay back less than you borrowed, which provides a big incentive to buy a house or expand your business.

But if even that's not enough, then how about inflation of 4%? As long as you promise to keep interest rates at zero, the real interest rate is now -4%. The Fed is making it almost irresistable to take out a loan and buy new stuff. And there's a virtuous circle here: businesses understand that negative borrowing rates stimulate consumption and demand, so not only is it super cheap to expand production, but they have good reason to think it will pay off as demand increases in the future.

Both Krugman and Drum note that the problem is that we have such a fear of the concept of inflation that the Fed is unwilling to actually come right out and say that they're targeting higher inflation. We're in a liquidity trap; interest rates are as low as they can go, but it's not low enough to fix our unemployment rate. So we need to do these tricks to get the "real" interest lower. If the economy actually started heating up and inflation actually became a concern, the Fed clearly has a lot of room to raise interest rates to control it.


By fnord12 | September 20, 2012, 12:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



Steve Albini vs. Dresden Doll's Amanda Palmer

Here and follow-up at Alyssa Rosenbeg's Thinkprogress blog.

Playing (or providing content generally) for "exposure" is always a contentious issue, and Steve Albini is a hardcore indie and clearly feels strongly about this. But i agree with him here. There are always going to be desperate people and others shouldn't take advantage of that (it's why we have minimum wage laws), so i'm glad to see Palmer coming around.


By fnord12 | September 20, 2012, 12:09 PM | Music | Comments (0) | Link



Racism: are we winning?

In light of Romney's 47% comment, Ta-Nehisi Coates makes an interesting point in a pair of posts.

He starts with the familiar quote from Lee Atwater describing the "Southern Strategy":

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me -- because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

(In his second post he has a similar quote from Nixon-era Pat Buchanan.)

But instead of just saying that what Romney is exploiting here is the obvious continuation of that, he uses it to say that it's actually a sign that racism is on decline, and politicians who exploit it have to get more and more abstract (and therefore include more and more collateral targets) to make it work.

I think what's often missed in analyzing these tactics is how they, themselves, are evidence of progress and the liberal dream of equal citizenship before the law. It's true that for a century after the Civil War, the South effectively erased the black vote...

More to the point, as tactics aimed at suppressing black citizenship become more abstract, they also have the side-effect of enveloping non-blacks. Atwater's point that the policies of the Southern Strategy hurt blacks more than whites is well taken. But some whites were hurt too. This is different than the explicit racism of slavery and segregation... at each level what you see is more non-black people being swept into the pool of victims and the pool expanding.

And then...

As I argued on Tuesday, as a racist appeal becomes more abstract, it doesn't simply become more devious, it becomes less racist, and thus less potent. Inveighing against the 47 percent isn't racist; "Welfare Queen" kind of is; William F. Buckley claiming black people don't want to vote really is; and John Booth mumbling, "That means nigger equality, by God I'll run him through" and then shooting the president in the head is straight white supremacist violence.

The Southern Strategy is often conceived as magic. I would argue that it is better conceived of as another engagement during white supremacy's fighting retreat into oblivion...

And so robbed of symbols, a previously racist attack disperses into a hazy diffusive blabbering. The most striking thing about Mary Matlin's "producer vs. the parasites" line is that she declines to say who the parasites are. Who specifically are the takers?

It felt like a lightbulb went off when i first read it but of course i want to ponder it a bit. Two initial trains of thought (not necessarily objections):

First, there are two categories of people who engage in this sort of dog whistle; the ones who are really racist and the ones who are just using racism as a way to further an anti-social program agenda (and surely there's overlap). Even if the racism aspect is on decline, it sure seems to me that the motivation behind it, the reason that second category employs the dog whistles, is stronger than ever. Republicans are attacking the very premise of the modern welfare state more than ever before and Democrats, as usual, are fighting back by offering deficit reduction during a recession. So it may be a win on the racism side but not on overall liberal goals.

Second, i was schooled years ago during a formative read of Lies My Teacher Told Me not to look at the fight against racism as a progression of events where things keep getting better. I'm sure Coates, who's been doing a lot of scholarly investigation into the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, would agree, but his formulation here sort of triggered that alarm bell for me. And at the same time Mitt Romney is reduced to using the 47% symbol, i think we've seen a lot more overt racism from other quarters.

Again, no conclusions; just rambling a bit (this is a blog, you know!). But i am intrigued by Coates' perspective.


By fnord12 | September 20, 2012, 11:40 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



September 19, 2012

Ethanol sucks

It's not good for the environment, it's one of the reasons we barely got any good corn this summer, and now it's the cause of some truly weird regulations.


By fnord12 | September 19, 2012, 2:48 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



My life as a sugar baby

Ok, not my life. But it's a journal of someone who went to work for a site like this.


By fnord12 | September 19, 2012, 12:39 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



September 18, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avengers vs. X-Men #11 - I just want this to end, ok? I'm done fighting it. See Paul O'Brian's review for a more detailed review and well-deserved take-down. I say we just move on.

New Avengers #30 - Luke Cage married and with a baby is another toy that Marvel strategically broke, and the logical conclusion is exactly what we're seeing here. Which, again, i'm totally fine with. I just don't want Mephisto showing up if a Heroes For Hire movie is ever announced. There's nothing tremendously wrong with this issue except for the tenuous connection to AvX.

Uncanny X-Men #18 - People (Wanyas, P O'B) are describing this as a good version of AvX #11 and it's true that it has actual character development and is generally better written. But i still find the nature of this type of tie-in especially annoying. This stuff should just be in the main series. Now i've got a semi-repeat that is just different enough to make everything feel disjointed. It's a very strange way to deliver a story, where you go read a scene all the way through and then you stop, and go back and go over it again with more detail. I guess it kind of works as like a post-modern, Joseph Heller type of thing but i don't think that's what Marvel is intentionally going for. I do like the Colossus/Magik reveal.

Avengers Assemble #7 - So i guess Thanos just killed three Elders of the Univese, plus the In-Betweener and the Stranger (or are they also considered Elders now; i wasn't sure)? And said that he's been involved in struggles and conflicts with them "over the millennium"? A quick double-check of Thanos Quest tells me that's wrong, at least about In-Betweener and Champion, anyway, but i'm being cautious because like Tom Brevoort says, most complaints about continuity are from people who haven't read every comic. And yet, it seems wrong, and there's no footnote. I didn't even realize Thanos (and therefore, presumably, Starfox?) is supposed to be that old. Anyway, i don't have a lot of faith in Bendis in this context and i don't think much of this plotline so far, but Bagley's art is nice.

X-Factor #243 - Polaris has been, ah, mishandled over the years, so coming up with an in-story explanation for it isn't a bad thing. But i was really hoping the "Polaris really is Magneto's daughter" thing would just go away (i posted that Twisted Toyfare excerpt below for a reason!), and this issue instead seems to be solidifying it. But i guess now that we're in memory implant territory we can go on for years with reversals. Then there's the question of Magneto & Mastermind hanging together so early, but i guess we'll just wave our sliding timescale wand at that if nothing else works. Besides that, PAD writes snappy dialogue and this is at least readable.

Avenging Spider-Man #12 - Not sure what i think of this. I mean, sure, i'll stick around for the Hypno-Hustler. And i really liked the cover (here's the original). But even accepting the Inception theme, it read more like a Joe Kelly Deadpool issue than, say, a good Deadpool issue. You know what i am saying? Probably depends on what you thought of Joe Kelly's Deadpool.

X-Men Legacy #273 - Speaking of awesome covers, here we have Rogue riding a giant saber-toothed lion (another homage, this time to Frank Frazetta). And that's really all i need to say about this issue. But since i've referenced his reviews twice already, i'll just note that Paul O'Brien thought this arc needed to be longer, and i disagree. I'm glad it didn't turn out to be a six part story. I would have trimmed it a bit and ended it after two; we didn't really need the extended post-battle wrap-up. I think we got the point. That said, three issues isn't a bad compromise and i enjoyed this.

Captain America #17 - This has been good. I like the continued Madbomb usage. Even an Ice Pirates reference this issue. So maybe this Bunn guy isn't so bad after all. I'm sure min will have an opinion with the Diamondback romance scene but at least that seems to be wrapping up (although it therefore seems a bit pointless). And i enjoyed Zemo's murderous showing in the satellite.

Avengers Academy #36 - Really loving this. It's a shame Marvel's just going to throw these characters away for some cheap deaths. Must... not... react... to... promo... materials. I really liked White Tiger's interaction with her totem spirit; that was a really cool scene. The Mettle/Hazmat pathos is well handled, Julie's fighting spirit ("And now... I have a dagger.") was awesome, and it's just a well-written, nicely drawn book. Also, i'll just say that the scarring that Jeremy "Briggs" gave to Striker sure reinforces my pet "son of the Molecule Man" theory.

Dark Avengers #180 - Luke Cage may be quitting the Avengers, but it looks like he and his offspring aren't getting out of the super-biz so easily. This does raise the question of when the various books are taking place; i guess it makes sense that this is all pre-AvX. Anyway, we'll figure that out later. I am amazed (and a little annoyed) at the degree to which we're doing a Judge Dredd homage? parody? here, but i am enjoying this book. I will concede, however, that while *i* like this story, it is very densely plotted, with a large cast of characters, references back to previous arcs and even other books (Red Hulk) written by Parker. So i guess i should just shut up regarding my frequent complaints (which weren't relevant this time anyway) about PAD's X-Factor. But it's only here that you can get Troll hacking off a bird-mutant's wing and Man-Thing saying, "You not touch Thunderbolts, Zah Zah.", plus Ghost and Hyde and just a really great cast. Regarding the art, it's not really my preferred style; just a tiny a bit more on the sketchy side than i would like. But there's a tradeoff for that. Lots of panels, lots of details (i know, sketchy but detailed; my vocabulary for describing art needs to improve), good action-flow, and i loved that panel with Moonstone doing the little ix-nay gesture when Satana accidentally referenced Cage in front of the mutants. This is a good book! And so it's being replaced with two separate Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers books, neither of which are by Parker! Dammit, i did it again!


By fnord12 | September 18, 2012, 10:31 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



One continuity re-write i *can* get behind

Twisted Toyfare #91 - Chuck Austen objection sustained

Mephisto's appearance in that last panel - coincidence?  I don't think so! Someone's marriage got et.

By fnord12 | September 18, 2012, 10:26 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link



I uninstalled Adobe Reader...

...and installed Foxit instead. So much faster! And i got tired of having this argument.


By fnord12 | September 18, 2012, 4:48 PM | Comics & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



Hagar Chronology Project

I love this idea from the Comics Curmudgeon:

We often see the same situations over and over again in Hagar the Horrible, and as I've said before, I've come to believe that this is because events in the strip are playing out in a nonlinear narrative. Thus, every castle raid shown is really just a different moment in a single castle raid, every strip that features Hagar and Eddie in the dungeon is a different moment in the same stretch of imprisonment, etc. "Hagar and Eddie on a desert island" is another repeating trope, but I don't believe I've ever seen the rest of the crew of Hagar's ship similarly marooned with them. Still, I'm going to assume that this is again the same shipwreck, and what we're seeing here is the early days of their time as castaways, before the turn to cannibalism.


Will someone start putting the strips in chronological order, please?


By fnord12 | September 18, 2012, 11:59 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Don't they remember "cling to guns and religion"?

I don't know how politicians haven't learned yet that everything is recorded and everything you say will get out.

Mitt Romney:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax.

Romney went on: "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Much more at the link.

Romney is rebutted by Bill Kristol (Bill Kristol!), who says:

It's worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes are Romney supporters--especially of course seniors (who might well "believe they are entitled to heath care," a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they're not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.

Update: On the liberal blogs i read, there is a lot of pushback to the idea that Obama's "cling" comment is like Romney's "47%". I was using the comparison in the context of "things you say in private fundraisers that you would never say in public, not so much that the specific comments were the same. And it is true that there's a big difference: Obama's comment was about the difficulties in voter outreach to the types of people he was talking about (stereotyping?), whereas Romney is dismissing his category as a lost cause, both in terms of voting and in terms of "tak[ing] personal responsibility and care for their lives".


By fnord12 | September 18, 2012, 11:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



September 17, 2012

Marvel NOW, now.

For some reason, The Beat has started reporting on Marvel press releases a lot more. I don't know if they've been sucked in by the Marvel NOW! promotions or they just realize it's getting them more traffic, but it's a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I don't really care about a lot of what the Beat writes about but i keep them on my feed so that i know when Paul O'Brien's monthly sales analysis comes out. Now that they're focusing on Marvel they're obviously hitting my topic of interest but at the same time i'm getting annoyed by all the promo stuff. Normally Wanyas filters all that down for me!

Anyway, the Marvel NOW announcements started off relatively clean, but now we're getting things like "Cable and X-Force" plus a separate Uncanny X-Force title that stars Storm, Spiral, and Puck?

I swear, if you're going to pick random words and characters out of a fishbowl, at least make sure there aren't any repeats. Or you really will wind up with a comic called "Force Force" (Credit to a random but very funny commenter that i can't find anymore).

I know i should shut up and wait and see and all that. I promised not to be negative. But i'm being bombarded with these press releases and i can't help but react to them.


By fnord12 | September 17, 2012, 3:57 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



I know this is petty...

...but this is the second time i've run across this quote and it bothered me so i might as well get it out of my system:

"We like to break the toys in a way that is responsible and makes sense" [Tom Brevoort] explained, concerning big changes in character lines.

I know he was speaking off the cuff, but when one of the top editors at Marvel mixes metaphors so freely like that, it doesn't give you confidence in their quality control.

This also somewhat dovetails with another random thought of mine. A while back we got a free Marvel calendar, and this month's picture is the promo for Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Men series (here). I haven't read that series. It looks really annoying, just from the few promo images i've seen, including that one. But i was thinking how the "Wolverine as school teacher" idea is a weird evolution for the character. I know he's had Kitty Pryde and Jubilee as sidekicks on and off. But actually teaching a class full of rowdy kids; it's such a departure from the angry wildcard loner that used to be Wolverine's defining characteristic. I'm fine with character growth and evolution and this is one that makes sense. I'm just thinking how difficult it was for Marvel to put the "Spider-Man grew up and got married" genie back in the bottle and wondering if they'll ever run into a similar problem with all their other characters. General Ross is now a Hulk. Flash Thompson is Venom. Professor X is dead. All it will take is one Hulk/Spider-Man/X-Men movie for Marvel to realize they have to undo those things. Does Marvel really think that hard about breaking their toys?

To be clear, i don't want to see Marvel to start putting out Ever-Same stories like Archie or Disney that never evolve. I'm fine with Xavier dying for the, what, third time? As far as i'm concerned he's off preparing for another Z'Nox invasion. And i'd rather Marvel take the risk and evolve the characters even if it turns out to be in a way that's stupid and requires backtracking. I just hope they plan in advance how to fix their toys so we don't have Mephisto showing up to eat any more marriages.


By fnord12 | September 17, 2012, 3:12 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



Avengers Arena

Considering we weren't allowed to watch Hunger Games because it was too much like Battle Royale, i'm assuming we're not allowed to read this.

All i know about Dennis Hopeless is that i didn't like his Legion of Monsters, so i'm not too concerned, although he may have gotten better and/or paired off with a better art team.


By fnord12 | September 17, 2012, 2:03 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Brian Hibbs vs. Variant Covers

He's blaming everybody. As much as i agree with him, i think we have to acknowledge at this point that the publishers going back to the same 100,000 readers for more and more money is the way it's got to work at this point. We're a niche market. I don't buy variant covers (or rather, i'll take a single issue with whatever cover is available; preferably one that has something to do with the story in the book), but i guess we have to thank the people that do since they're what's keeping the books (semi-)profitable.


By fnord12 | September 17, 2012, 12:42 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



September 13, 2012

Recap 49

We have finally come to the adventure that occurs in conjunction to the Mimir's Furnace mission we played many many months ago.

Rusty Mountain Swing


By min | September 13, 2012, 8:54 AM | D&D | Comments (0) | Link



September 11, 2012

Kevin Drum is funny

You have to click through to the Media Matters link to get the joke.

My only quibble is when MediaMatters say "This alternative measure of unemployment, which conservatives often call the 'real' unemployment rate". I and a lot of people do agree that the U6 number is a better measure of the state of unemployment. Granted some opportunistic conservatives only started using the number during the Obama administration. But i don't like seeing the entire measurement slandered!


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 3:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I know i say this almost every time, but i have literally* hundreds of comics to review here, so i'm going to be quick and sloppy. And even with all this we're still going to be two weeks behind.

Captain Marvel #1-3 - I was reflexively against the name change: we've had some at least four other Captain Marvels at Marvel alone, Ms. Marvel herself has already been through three name changes, and i don't think there's anything wrong with "Ms."; it's no different than Mr. Fantastic. But on the other hand i liked the new costume (pants!) and was glad to see a female writer taking on the character. The editor notes at the end of issue #1 helped persuade me that this could be a good move. That's the politics of it. For the story itself, i enjoyed the Absorbing Man fight. I think Marvel has been a bit too "meta" regarding Ms. Marvel's status for a while now; in Bendis' Avengers, Reed's Ms. Marvel series, and now here, there's this contemplating about why Carol isn't a "bigger" super-hero than she and others think she ought to be. That seems to be more about contemplation about why the character doesn't sell better; it's weird to see it happening in-story. There's no reason that Marvel couldn't make Carol the most effective and popular super-hero in the MU if that's what they wanted her status to be. This constant belly-gazing seems like it would have opposite the intended effect; if you want her to be the Superman of the Marvel Universe, just depict her that way. Instead we're constantly hearing about what a loser she is. Hopefully that's just the launching point for this series and we won't keep revisiting it. The rest of the issues, about the alternative universe World War II ("Now with Kree!") struck me as worth a single issue but not the extended arc we seem to be getting. I'd actually not emphasize Carol's Kree nature so much, just like you wouldn't constantly do Superman stories about Krypton. But the writing is engaging and i'm happy enough with the book. Unfortunately, i really don't like the highly stylized, weird art. Especially with the iconic McGuinness covers, it's a real disappointment to open up the book and see that murk. If this series fails, that's going to be a key reason why.

Astonishing X-Men #53 - OK. At the very least it's an X-Title i can read without getting involved in the crossover stuff.

X-Men Legacy #271-727 - Sometimes a comic is just going to feature a super-hero on an alien planet encountering strange things, and that's fine. I just wish it wasn't going to take six issues or whatever to finish this. This could have been a one and done.

Daredevil annual #1 & Wolverine annual #1 - i found the FF part of this story a bit confusing, but the DD issue was a pure action issue so i thought it was fun. With Wolverine i felt like i was missing something because there seemed to be a lot of revelations going on about characters i don't remember anything about. But these were pretty cool. Fun stories, nice art. Probably better in context.

Daredevil #17 - Allred was remarkably restrained, in my opinion. This was a nice issue where i didn't mind the sentimental aspects, and it seems to be signalling that we're not really going "dark" as we feared.

Winter Soldier #9 - Decent spy adventure stuff.

X-Factor #242 - If the point of this "Breaking Points" event is to trim down the damn cast of the series, i'm all for it. We were halfway through the book before the antagonist was even named, even though the narration implied we were supposed to know him (nothing on the recap page; i did try), and then he's named Armando, which wasn't helpful. Finally, practically after it's all over, he's identified as Darwin, who i know from the First Class movie. Tom Brevoort's lecture that i linked to yesterday claimed that while they were trying to avoid the full Claremont, they were at least supposed to try to identify the characters appearing in each issue. That didn't quite happen here. Beyond that, alternate universe werewolves or whatever. I know PAD can be good - his character interactions and pacing are all great here - but i feel like he's just sort of been abandoned and no one, including his editor, is really trying to make sure he's writing an accessible story.

Avengers vs. X-Men #10 - How many issues is this thing, and was the whole plot based on the writers sitting around at a Chinese restaurant and someone noted that "Dragon & Phoenix" was on the menu?

Avengers #29 - I seem to remember half these characters being in prison, but whatever. I'm back to not liking Simonson's art nowadays.

Avenging Spider-Man #11 - This series is supposed to be about Spider-Man teaming up with his fellow Avengers, but this issue featured Aunt May, so... i guess the Avengers lineup post Marvel NOW! is going to be really weird. I'm turning into a real sap, though, because this issue really worked for me, emotionally.

Uncanny X-Men #17 - I enjoyed this quite a bit. The Avengers would probably be interested to know that the Phoenix Force is an entity that can be bargained with, though.

New Mutants #47-48 - I think this book is cancelled, so we're going out with an alternate universe story that was resolved to my satisfaction in issue #46. This is fine but i really wish they had stuck to the "tying up loose ends" remit.

Journey Into Mystery #642 - So this is going to be interesting. It seems i'm going to like the Gillen issues and dislike the Fraction issues, making it a really schizophrenic crossover. I really like Thor's treatment/protection of Kid Loki, and the politics and multiple factions involved in this plot are fun, too.

Hulk #56-57 - I really thought this would end with Rick Jones, at least, losing his gamma powers. But i guess they're sticking with it for now. This was a decent end to the series. And it was nice seeing Eaglesham drawing Alpha Flight again. Looking forward to Parker's Red She-Hulk (awkward name); hope he keeps Machine Man around.

Avengers Academy #35 - At the risk of punishing the titles i like the best by saying the least about them, i'll stick to "this was great" for time efficiency reasons. I think it's too late to keep this book running in its present form anyway.

Thunderbolts #179 - Ditto.











*Not literally.


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 12:33 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



And 10% give Romney credit for sunny days and blue skies

Now that i'm a partisan democrat (see previous post), let's do some nutpicking. To be fair, these are some serious nuts:

Actually, that 31% wanted to give credit to a time traveling Lincoln but couldn't find that option.

Here's the poll results, from Public Policy Polling (PDF). It's a poll of Ohio, a swing state. Crosstabs show 15% of Republicans give credit to Romney.

Via Comedy Central, but it's not a joke.


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 10:30 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



OK, then all is forgiven

Kevin Drum points to an interview where Obama is defined as an introvert:

JH: Obama is an unusual politician. There are very few people in American politics who achieve something -- not to mention the Presidency --in which the following two conditions are true: one, they don't like people. And two, they don't like politics.

KC: Obama doesn't like people?

JH: I don't think he doesn't like people. I know he doesn't like people. He's not an extrovert; he's an introvert. I've known the guy since 1988. He's not someone who has a wide circle of friends. He's not a backslapper and he's not an arm-twister. He's a more or less solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative capacities. He's incredibly intelligent, but he's not a guy who's ever had a Bill Clinton-like network around him.

He still shouldn't authorize killing people with remote drones or prosecute whistle-blowers, but i guess i feel a little more supportive of him now.


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 10:18 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link



Another reason to fear clowns

You shouldn't need me to link to it; you should just go there twice a week.


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 10:11 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



Catwoman updated

Better...?


By fnord12 | September 11, 2012, 9:39 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link



September 10, 2012

Forget the game

I'm just jealous of Gabe from Penny Arcade's gamer table. Min has been advocating building a table, but i've been having a hard time imagining it. Now i'm thinking maybe we ought to get a move on that project.

Right after i beat Dark Souls, finish my 5 box back issue addition, and then paint those 300 miniatures.


By fnord12 | September 10, 2012, 2:41 PM | D&D | Comments (2) | Link



Tom Brevoort Lecture

On the Marvel editing style. I'm resisting the urge to dissect it because i know i'll wind up going negative, but it's worth a read.


By fnord12 | September 10, 2012, 2:29 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link



John Cole is going to get himself killed

But he's a saint.


By fnord12 | September 10, 2012, 12:36 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link



Well, i'm glad someone liked X-Club

Min and i really wanted to like a super-science story, but it just wasn't working for us and we dropped it halfway through. But Caleb at Every Day is Like Wednesday seems to have a better opinion, and i wish i had stuck around long enough for the squid head.

I am finding that a "wait for the trade" mentality may actually be the way to go. Individual comics today are so content free that one tends to get annoyed reading them on an issue by issue basis. I recently read a few things after the fact (Pak's Hulks, Rick Remender's Franken-Castle and Uncanny X-Force) that i enjoyed but i know very well that i wouldn't have liked them as much in real time.

I have a unique problem with trades thanks to my chronology project but i wonder how much of a factor it will really be for modern stories since 6 issues generally equals 1 complete story anyway.


By fnord12 | September 10, 2012, 11:49 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Circumvent the Planetary Protection Officers

People who know me personally are aware that i am an advocate of bombarding Venus with seeds. Venus' atmosphere is very much like a pre-life Earth's, so i say we blast that planet with plant seeds until something sticks and grows and starts converting all that CO2 to Oxygen.

Contaminating Mars' water with microbes is the next best thing. Terraform that sucker!


By fnord12 | September 10, 2012, 11:38 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link



September 7, 2012

Why i'm not talking politics right now

Latest job report not good. Neither presidential candidate has a plan.


By fnord12 | September 7, 2012, 9:30 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



September 6, 2012

Cicada-killer

Beeeeeeee careful!

Saw this monster on my parking lot walk today. Unfortunately there's nothing in the picture to show scale. I was afraid to mess with it too much by putting something near it. It was about 2 inches long. Huge!

Googling "cicada looks like bee" found me this page. Pretty awesome


By fnord12 | September 6, 2012, 5:05 PM | My stupid life & Science | Comments (2) | Link



Girl Power

Yes, Mothra is a lady.  Talk about a strong female character.

I apologize for having been in low content mode on the main blog for a while, but we've had travel related distribution problems for our current comics which was holding up the SpeedReviews, and i'm really just not interested in talking politics. So here's an interesting Godzilla/Mothra picture. A while back i was making some custom t-shirts just because, and i was going to make one for min that said "Girl Power" and had a picture of Mothra beating up Godzilla. Well, i found this on the internet, but it was in black & white, which was odd: all the Mothra vs. Godzilla movies have been in color. It was also too low a resolution to make into a t-shirt, but over the summer min and i had our annual Godzilla marathon and i never saw this scene. So i think it's possibly an outtake or something.

Never ended up making the shirt, but here's the pic.


By fnord12 | September 6, 2012, 11:21 AM | Godzilla | Comments (0) | Link



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