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June 30, 2013

Ice Castles

On our recent adventure out west, the place we stayed at had a high tech device called a VCR, and included a fine library of VHS movies to watch on it. Sure, we watched Rob Schneider's The Animal, but first we made sure to watch Ice Castles, which was advertised to us as "the blind ice skater movie". Turns out she doesn't go blind until nearly the end of the film, so it was kind of a rip off. But someone looked up the people appearing in the movie and discovered it included teen heartthrob Robby Benson. Aaaaaand no one knew who that was. But i declared that i probably had an ad in a comic featuring a poster of him. And sure enough:

No no.  Not Tattoo.  Stay focused.

Here's Robby:

Why you'd want a poster of his yearbook photo, i'll never know.

But it turns out i can do one better:

Actually this went the other way.  I would have never recognized 'Robby'.  But when i showed the Ice Castles picture to min, she spotted him.

By fnord12 | June 30, 2013, 3:34 PM | Comics & Movies & My stupid life| Link



June 28, 2013

Advancing Min's Vegan Dunkin Donuts Agenda

I don't know if Matthew Yglesias' "Maybe People Are Drinking Less Milk Because It's Poisonous to Many of Us" hypothesis is true, but looking at the PDF he links to, you definitely see that the focus of the study was entirely generational and doesn't look at all at changing demographics, lactose intolerance, people choosing alternatives like soy, rice, or coconut milk for health or ethical reasons as factors. Now maybe the reason for the decline is due entirely to people giving their kids Tinker Tea, and that would be a bad thing. But the report doesn't show that, and the assumption is that this trend is really a bad thing for the country and not just for dairy farmers, which is why Yglesias (who is no vegan!) says "entire federal government seems to be sufficiently locked down by the dairy industry".


By fnord12 | June 28, 2013, 4:04 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life| Link



Big Brother wants you to know it is raining

During dinner last night both min's phone and mine started making horrible noises like the Luftwaffe was on its way, and when we got to our phones, we saw this:

Stop looking at the apps i've installed.  Nosy!

We immediately wrapped ourselves in water-proof garbage bags and went to the roof to await evacuation by helicopter. But in the end it... rained a little, so we went back to our dinner.


By fnord12 | June 28, 2013, 11:08 AM | My stupid life| Link



Illegal

New York Times editorial says NSA program is illegal.


By fnord12 | June 28, 2013, 10:54 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 27, 2013

Life's such a treat and it's time you taste it

'And 10 year old Billy?  What do you like best about Cheryl Ladd?' 'Her cleavage!'.

"Hey little 7 year old Sally, i see you like Kiss. What's your favorite song?"
"Lick It Up! But 'You pull the trigger of my Love Gun' is a close second."


By fnord12 | June 27, 2013, 5:04 PM | Music & Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



One step forward, one step back

So two critically important Supreme Court decisions on human rights in the past few days: the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act and (effectively) the striking down of the Voting Rights Act. Both decisions were 5-4 splits.

I don't pretend to be an expert, or even literate, in legalise, but as we saw before, the constitutional amendment seems quite clear ("Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation") and a 5-4 split indicates neither of these decisions were based on obvious technical readings of the law.

In immediate response to the VRA ruling, several former slave states renewed their efforts to prevent minorities from voting. In addition to those Voter ID issues, Texas is also moving forward on a new round of gerrymandering in response to this.

In theory Congress can fix this by passing a new law, but that won't happen because Congress is broken. It's broken thanks to a political party that stands to benefit from the new status quo.

Activism might help, but right now it seems like a lot of sites are celebrating the repeal of DOMA and not focusing on the repeal of the VRA. For example, here's what happens on Google right now when you search for the DOMA ruling:

The first time it happened, i wasn't sure what was going on.

Nothing similar for the VRA:

To be fair, what did i expect?  Klansmen?

Additionally, look at the pushback Kevin Drum got on making the same point i'm trying to make here. I'm not saying don't celebrate. The strikedown of DOMA is fantastic. But it shouldn't be at the expense of someone else's rights.


By fnord12 | June 27, 2013, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 26, 2013

It's not about Snowden

There's no reason to care about Snowden's girlfriend or what he said on IM 5 years ago. It's barely relevant why he started working at the NSA. The fact that the US is having trouble arresting Snowden is a sideshow. The information Snowden has released is the same whether he is a saint or an asshole. That's the new information here. And that's what we should be focusing on. Everything else is just helping to obscure the point.

There's some important stuff that needs to be cleared up. Some people say the things Snowden has released are things we've known all along. Others are shocked by it (and mad at either the NSA or at Snowden for releasing it). I'd like to see more analysis of what's actually in the information that Snowden released.

It's annoying but expected that the character garbage is the focus of cable news. But it's really disappointing seeing sites likes Talking Points Memo focusing on this crap.


By fnord12 | June 26, 2013, 3:48 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Why is the TPP agreement classified?

There's a new "free trade" agreement on its way. It's been described by opponents as "NAFTA on steroids". But for the most part, people can't really debate it. Because the agreement is classified.

That is to say, the classification system, whose original stated purpose was to make it a crime to disclose military secrets to foreign enemies, is being used to make it a crime to reveal the government's proposed trade treaty to the American public.

I guess they liked the way that worked out for the NSA so it's now the standard technique. Why debate anything in front of the rabble?

Elizabeth Warren doesn't like it, though:

I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative's policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it.

And somehow someone let Alan Grayson see the agreement, and he says:

"What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it," Grayson said, referring to the draft Trans-Pacific deal. "It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away."

...and...

The TPP is nicknamed "NAFTA on steroids." Now that I've read it, I can see why. I can't tell you what's in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified.

In any event, the Stop TPP (how they didn't call themselves "Stopp TPP" i'll never understand) has re-purposed a Gary Frank Hulk drawing as their logo, so you kind of have to support them.

Stop TPP!  And hurry up and get your comic timeline project up to 1993 so you can read some Peter David/Gary Frank Hulks!

By fnord12 | June 26, 2013, 9:54 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Obama's environmental speech

The TPM headline on Obama's big environmental speech yesterday was "Keystone Pipeline Will Only Be Built If It Does Not 'Significantly' Increase Carbon Pollution" to which Atrios responded that that's a low bar considering the State Department has already ruled that it doesn't. The other news was that we're going to fight global warming by fracking, which puts the story that the EPA stopped a study on the environmental damages caused by fracking in a new light.

But Al Gore and ThinkProgress seem pretty pleased with the speech so obviously i'm being too cynical. On the other hand, ThinkProgress' optimism is based on a crytpo-lingo analysis (he said "tar-sands" instead of "oil-sands"!) so maybe i was right the first time.

In any event, at the risk of sounding like Charlie Brown with the football, one promising aspect of the speech was Obama saying:

So today for the sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans, I'm directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.

As Obama mentions in the speech the EPA is required by law to do this per a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, but both the Bush and Obama administrations dragged their feet on this. I've been on this soap box before. And if this is really happening (all i can find are reports on the speech; no telling how far along this actually is), better late than never.

But i'll always remember that on Bill Clinton's last day in office, he had the EPA raise the standards for arsenic in our drinking water. And then on the first day of Bush's term, he reversed that order. And all the Democrat organizations sent out these messages like "Bush is allowing arsenic in our drinking water!"

This obviously isn't the last day of Obama's administration, but i'm wondering if we're far away from actually implementing anything that it will still be reversible in 3 years. If requirements go into effect sooner rather than later, factories will already have implemented the necessary technological changes and a reversal of the order will have less impact. But they will drag their feet on this as much as possible in hopes of a Republican getting elected in 2016. That's why the Obama administration should have been ready with rules for the EPA to implement on day one in 2008. Still, even at this late date it would be nice to see some progress.

P.S. Paul Krugman addresses the "this will cost us jobs" complaint. He says it's actually the opposite.


By fnord12 | June 26, 2013, 9:16 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Marvel Sales

May.


By fnord12 | June 26, 2013, 7:15 AM | Comics| Link



June 25, 2013

Get out get out get out!

We had some work done in the house today and that necessitated the door being open, so now i'm dealing with this.


By fnord12 | June 25, 2013, 3:23 PM | My stupid life & TeeVee| Link



June 24, 2013

You have to click on the link to get the joke

This looked interesting, and i was going to read it, but i figured i might as well wait until tomorrow and do it at work.


By fnord12 | June 24, 2013, 7:46 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life| Link



It's Just My Bitch Face

although, there's the distinct possibility i might just be a bitch in real life

A candid moment captured during our vacation in Cannon Beach

I can't help it! It's my passive face!





At least i haven't got an Asshole Face.


By min | June 24, 2013, 2:25 PM | My stupid life| Link



June 21, 2013

Someone on the internet is *wrong*

These idiots (in the comments) who say things like "I left my phone on the whole plane ride and it didn't crash the plane, ha ha!" don't seem to understand that the potential problem is that a mass of electronic devices will interfere with the plane's radar and other communications, especially critical during take-off and landing. A few devices (the pilots', or a few stubborn jerks on the plane) probably won't affect things, but a whole plane full of people might. Will it definitely? I don't know and neither do you. That's why they're studying it.

I need to stop reading comments.


By fnord12 | June 21, 2013, 2:46 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link



The hits keep coming

Say what you will about Josh Marshall's personal thoughts, his site is definitely covering the NSA stuff. Here's a third major report on the subject. This one is pretty damning because it shows that even Senators who had concerns about these programs were unable to say anything about it, let alone try to rally up some opposition.

The same set of rules that muzzled [Senator Wyden] after the votes had been cast had also thwarted his ability to build any kind of constituency -- in the Senate or the broader public -- for his legislation. They even prevented him from saying precisely what the committee's business was or when it would be conducted.

By fnord12 | June 21, 2013, 11:08 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 20, 2013

I figured out how to save Sif and Red She-Hulk

I'm not sure if i like Machine Man's Afro or 'Red She-Iron Fist' better, but i do know i wasted too much time on this.

By fnord12 | June 20, 2013, 9:13 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Gluten-Free is Beating out Vegan!

What the hell? Dunkin Donuts is now going to start making gluten-free donuts and muffins. Where the hell is my vegan donut, you bastards?

Do you know how much harder it must be to make a palatable gluten-free donut? It's made of flour!!! That's the main ingredient! It's essentially made of gluten.

Do you know what you need to do to make it vegan? Substitute the milk for a non-dairy milk and use a different binder in place of eggs. That's way easier than replacing wheat flour with...what? Rice flour? DD is only using skim milk in their glazed donut anyway. As if you're going to miss that.

Goddamn fuckers.


By min | June 20, 2013, 8:48 AM | My stupid life| Link



Oh, Preppers

What drew me to this article was the use of the words "bowels" and "Kansas" in the same sentence.

After most of the world's population is wiped off the map by a wayward meteorite or hail of nuclear missiles, the survival of the human race might just depend on a few thousand people huddled in recreational vehicles deep in the bowels of an eastern Kansas mine.

That's the vision of a California man who is creating what he calls the world's largest private underground survivor shelter, using a complex of limestone caves dug more than 100 years ago beneath gently rolling hills overlooking the Missouri River.

"I do believe I am on a mission and doing a spiritual thing," said Robert Vicino, who has purchased a large portion of the former U.S. Army storage facility on the southeast edge of Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, Mo. "We will certainly be part of the genesis."

I hope there'll be pit traps. You gotta have pit traps!

The president of the town's Chamber of Commerce thinks this guy's nuts but she's fine with it cause she figures it'll up their tourism.

If you make it to page 2 of the article, you'll find out this guy Vincino has other shelters. But don't go asking where cause he won't tell. It's a secret!

"I've heard people say, 'I will just show up at the door,'" he said. "Our response is, 'great, where is the door?' At our secret shelters, you don't know where to go, and your cash will be worthless at that time."

He's right about one thing, anyway. When the apocalypse comes, money will no longer have value, so pay up now, sucker.


By min | June 20, 2013, 8:30 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link



June 19, 2013

Tinker Tea for all!

Sad to say, this would sell. Sad to say, we would buy a few cans and do a taste test at D&D.


By fnord12 | June 19, 2013, 10:23 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Uncanny X-Force #6 - The pace of this book could be described as meandering, and i'm definitely missing Garney's art, but i'm still enjoying this. I liked that there was a resolution to the Psylocke/Spiral conflict, with an acknowledgement that Spiral was a victim of Mojo's, too. I'm also still hopeful that the Demon Bear story goes somewhere cool; i like it so far. And i'm actually liking Dexter Soy's art on the psychic plane. One thing that didn't work at all was the weird interspersal of scenes. You have Psylocke fighting Spiral mixed with scenes of her mentally talking with Wolverine, which might make you think they were happening simultaneously but then we're introduced to another scene where Psylocke is sitting around in a room with the other X-Force guys, and that's when the psychic meeting was really happening. Kinda weird choice. I also am back to not liking Humphries depiction of Puck. That "How much does it hurt where Logan chewed you out..." is totally out of character as far as i'm concerned.

X-Factor #257 - I was kinda hoping that we'd get away from the demon stuff after the end of the last arc. If this issue were actually focused on changing Madrox back from being a demon i would have been a little cooler with it (i'd have been even happier if it just magically happened between last issue and this one, though; say it's because the Hell Lords have all left Earth). But this was just a story about Madrox as a demon and i'm not really interested.

Wolverine #4 - So, umm, Wolverine has super-speed now? Ok, it's not Quicksilver super-speed, and i get how it's a logical use of his powers and i like that it's Victoria Frankenstein telling him how to do it, but really... Wolverine doesn't need to get any more powerful. This is the kind of thing you have to be really careful about introducing because pretty soon some other writer really is going to have Wolverine racing Quicksilver. I see that the next arc is called "Killable" though, and for some strange reason i've got the idea in my head that it means we're going to find a way to reduce the power of Wolverine's regeneration. But since i'm just making that up, let me get back to this issue. Ummm, so that was a really ambiguous ending, huh? Like, clearly it's not over despite the title page saying part 4 of 4. And i didn't understand Marcus H. Harold's snippet from 2100 at all. Nice art, of course, and Cornell's individual scenes work ok - most of this story was standard super-hero stuff with good dialogue - but there's some bits in here that i didn't like or don't seem to be working well.

Iron Man #11 - Speaking of things you want to be careful about introducing, i see that we're fully committing to this "secret origin" now. Last issue we had the option of disbelieving it because it was just stuff we saw on a video played by an untrustworthy narrator. But this issue has a straight cut back to the past with no narrator, and that's where they reveal that Tony Stark was tampered with in the womb to make him super-smart. And genetically inclined to be a warmonger. Hey, i guess Stark was really doing a great job fighting against biological instinct when he got out of the arms business for, like, several decades worth of comics, right? And the idea that Stark is the only super-genius that builds weapons is ridiculous; the people that the Recorder discounts (Dr. Doom? AIM?) are discounted way too easily and anyone doing a little digging could find plenty more. Even the Black Panther comes to mind. It's ironic; qualitywise this book became great (Land replaced with Eaglesham) at the same time it became pretty alarming from a continuity-destroying perspective. It's like someone is deliberately fucking with me!

Thunderbolts #10 - Art is sometimes wonky - especially the Red Hulk - but i'm still enjoying this and sad that Way is leaving.

Avenging Spider-Man #22 - Enjoying this quite a bit. Nice to see Octo-Spidey's thoughts on the Punisher as well as his conflicting thoughts on Mysterio. Cool use of the Spider-Men storyline (by acknowledging that it happened, it feels more solidly in continuity instead of just a Marvel vs. DC type of crossover). Surprised to see Octo-Spidey include the fake Mysterio in his "Sinister Six"; looking forward to see that subplot come to fruition.

Red She-Hulk #66 - Jeff Parker i love you but why can't you stay away from these alternate timelines? I did ask for some sort of reconciliation of the Red She-Hulk with the Betty Ross of old so i guess this is an attempt to accomplish that? I don't think it worked well though. I'm still not sure how you get there from here; we don't see the scenes that would cause an uninhibited Betty to turn around and start macking on Thor. There also seemed to be a scripting problem, possibly related to coloring confusion? There's a panel where the Man-Thing is talking to the Red She-Hulk and referring to the "red lass" as if it were a third party. And then Machine Man was staring at the Red She-Hulk but addressing Jen Walters. I mean, maybe they were both talking to Green She-Hulk off panel, but that would be a weird art choice. And i thought the Man-Thing's voice was supposed to have a dialect most appropriate for the person hearing it, so why is Machine Man hearing a cajun dude as opposed to, like, a coldly emotional robot or something? Oh well. It's a lost cause anyway; book is cancelled.


By fnord12 | June 19, 2013, 10:14 PM | Comics| Link



One way to support the things you like is to promote them

An overdue article from the Beat that is really directed at itself and other comics news blogs. It's entitled Stop wondering where all the female creators are, and go find them! and was triggered by a comment made by Mairghread Scott, who is currently writing a Transformers title for IDW:

In her post, she mentions that when she took over on IDW's Transformers franchise, she sent round messages to prominent sites and bloggers, asking if they'd be interested in interviewing her about the series. She even mentioned that she was the first female writer to ever handle the franchise as she pitched herself for interviews. Barely anybody responded to her.

More directly (from her post):

The response from the fansites was overwhelming positive, but the response from the general news sites and "advocates" was... nothing.

To step away from the Beat's point that sites need to look beyond Marvel & DC (which is a good point in its own right), that fan vs. "advocate" discrepancy really hit me, and it's something i've noticed before. Sites like The Beat and Mary Sue, which have a (laudable) feminist focus, almost never talk about the actual comics, and when they do it's usually a reaction to a press release. Cheering the announcement of an all-female X-Men team. Lamenting the cancellation of yet another female written / female lead character title like Journey Into Mystery. But they never seem to actually talk about the books when they are ongoing. I remember when DeConnick's Captain Marvel series was announced, the Mary Sue was pretty excited. When i saw that i wondered if they'd regularly promote the book, and after we'd read a few issues and had mixed feeling about it i went and checked to see if they had reviewed it. Nothing. I just checked now and still nothing other than the occasional "DIY Carol Danvers Supersuit Sweater" type of thing. This is a book that has been at cancellation numbers since inception and could use an influx of readers from these heavily read sites, or, if applicable, prominent criticism that Marvel might see and react to on where it might be failing.

I made fun of Tom Brevoort a while back but in one sense he's right: actual comic reviews are relegated to the bowels of CBR and the like. The sites that complain about lack of female representation (or anything else) ought to engage more with the comics.


By fnord12 | June 19, 2013, 2:53 PM | Comics| Link



More on Congress' NSA oversight process

Good follow-up on the TPM article from yesterday. As Marshall says in his link from the main page, "congressional oversight of the intelligence community doesn't work very well and maybe isn't supposed to".

Some key points from the article: Congress gets spotty and often contradictory information from the briefings, the briefings are like "a game of 20 questions" where if "you don't ask exactly the right question, you don't get the answer", and Senators are not able to bring their staffers, who are usually the policy experts and less likely to be bamboozled, to the hearings. I'll note again this is all coming out thanks to Snowden's revelations (as acknowledged in the TPM article), so i continue to wonder if Marshall still thinks Snowden's actions were a "betrayal". Marshall certainly is getting a lot of mileage out of it, in any even.


By fnord12 | June 19, 2013, 11:18 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 18, 2013

So does that change anything?

When the Snowden news first broke, Josh Marshall at TPM put out an honest if surprising post where he said that he personally didn't see Bradley Manning as a whistleblower and while he's a little more on the fence about Snowden, he basically feels the same way.

Let me put my cards on the table. At the end of the day, for all its faults, the US military is the armed force of a political community I identify with and a government I support. I'm not a bystander to it. I'm implicated in what it does and I feel I have a responsibility and a right to a say, albeit just a minuscule one, in what it does. I think a military force requires a substantial amount of secrecy to operate in any reasonable way. So when someone on the inside breaks those rules, I need to see a really, really good reason. And even then I'm not sure that means you get off scott free. It may just mean you did the right thing.
...
The Snowden case is less clear to me. At least to date, the revelations seem more surgical. And the public definitely has an interest in knowing just how we're using surveillance technology and how we're balancing risks versus privacy. The best critique of my whole position that I can think of is that I think debating the way we balance privacy and security is a good thing and I'm saying I'm against what is arguably the best way to trigger one of those debates.

But it's more than that. Snowden is doing more than triggering a debate. I think it's clear he's trying to upend, damage - choose your verb - the US intelligence apparatus and policieis he opposes. The fact that what he's doing is against the law speaks for itself. I don't think anyone doubts that narrow point. But he's not just opening the thing up for debate. He's taking it upon himself to make certain things no longer possible, or much harder to do. To me that's a betrayal.

In response, Daniel Ellsberg, the guy that leaked the Pentagon Papers, said "I think what he said there is stupid and mistaken and does not do him credit."

Readers won't be surprised to learn that i side with Ellsberg over Marshall here, although i think the question of whether Snowden should be prosecuted is secondary to the matter of the program that Snowden is bringing newfound attention to, which i think needs to get shut down or at least greatly reduced in scope.

Today, though, TPM has an unusual story. They tried to put out what was meant to be a routine educational piece where they explain how the Senate Intel Committee provides oversight on the NSA program. It was just meant to explain to readers how the procedures work; if you want to attribute motive considering Marshall's earlier declaration of loyalties, you could view it as a propaganda piece that says to people "It's ok; your elected officials are supervising this, so you technically have control through the democratic process". But the person they reached out to for info on the article, the former General Counsel for the Committee, wound up getting gagged by the Committee and was disallowed from going on record about anything, which is really suspicious. Very strange story and worth a full read. Here's Marshall's lead-in and here's the full article.

One commentor speculates:

1. The committee has perhaps taken some things at face value, assuming they had a level of understanding of the information that in fact they did not have. Now that a whole bunch of people are saying "are you sure about that?" they have realized, that they are not, in fact, sure at all. They don't want to reveal details about the process because it could lead to questions like "at a briefing on date Z, you were told something classified about program X. Did you realize that your assent meant that consequence Y would become a certainty?

In other words, committee members have figured out that metadeta about their process might be just as useful as the data itself....irony anyone? I think that may be the "committee sensitive" part.

2. Given the discussion of the previous administration, there may have been some decisions to "let sleeping briefing policies lie" rather than bring them to light, change the procedure, and then take heat for being "soft on terror" in the event of a disaster. Again, information about how the briefing system worked would tend to shed light on this issue.... So that would be the "out-of-date" part, that Divoll would be working from a 2003 understanding, not realizing that the procedures had been secretly changed later by Bush officials, and then secretly changed again by Obama officials, but not perhaps as much as it should have been. These would not be good things to put down on paper when hundreds of thousands of wonky folk are paying attention.

Anyway, just wondering if all of this in any way affected Josh Marshall's confidence or opinions in any way.

(By the way if you want to torture yourself, read the comments in any TPM article about the NSA or PRISM programs. The mind-numbing "debate" between the Obama loyalists and the civil liberties-minded liberals is absolutely cringe-worthy.)


By fnord12 | June 18, 2013, 2:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 17, 2013

Building our moon base

Something non-NSA related.

Actually these are pictures of some new subway construction in New York.


By fnord12 | June 17, 2013, 4:47 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link



We're back

And all i want to know is how long before i can make a "Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?" reference?

That, and Obama agreed to arm the rebels in Syria because Bill Clinton called him a wuss? Seriously?


By fnord12 | June 17, 2013, 2:40 PM | Boooooks & Liberal Outrage| Link



June 6, 2013

Site shut down notice

If you are assembling a team of Mantlo creations to save me, i vote Ursa Major, Rocket Raccoon, Mr. Fish, and the Hypno-Hustler.

Be back in a week!


By fnord12 | June 6, 2013, 11:27 PM | Comics| Link



Snood

snood [snood]

-n


  1. the distinctive headband formerly worn by young unmarried women in Scotland and northern England.

  2. a headband for the hair.

  3. a netlike hat or part of a hat or fabric that holds or covers the back of a woman's hair.

  4. the pendulous skin over the beak of a turkey.

-v

to bind or confine (the hair) with a snood.



I can't decide if i prefer the traditional "worn by unmarried women" definition best or the one involving a turkey.


By min | June 6, 2013, 3:03 PM | Good Words| Link



June 5, 2013

I just like his insistance on writing "the Things"

Penny Arcade's comic and write-up today makes the new Marvel MMO game seem like some sort of surreal nightmare.

So we arrive in the zone and immediately notice that all the bad guys are already dead. We begin moving through the city streets and find more corpses scattered around. Eventually some bad guys spawn behind and run to catch up with us. I'm not sure why some gang thugs would run towards the Thing and Daredevil but they did and we beat them up. All the while we see groups of heroes running around just like you would in any other MMO. Over here you see three Scarlet Witches beating up some dudes. Around the corner you find four the Things and a couple Spidermans doing the same. Eventually we found a massive group fight against Electro and joined in. I was one of five the Things hitting this dude and I felt like a complete jackass. It's very cool to be the Thing. It's dumb to be one of many the Things. Also I have a hard time believing there are many bad guy type problems that five the Things could not solve.

By fnord12 | June 5, 2013, 7:17 PM | Comics & Video Games| Link



And now a message from our iconic characters

You'd think with all the backissues i buy, i'd have more examples of defaced comics, but the truth is most comic fans know better, so this is really rare.

And remember, ASS!  Titles are mailed flat!

Ok, Nighthawk's not an iconic character.


By fnord12 | June 5, 2013, 4:46 PM | Comics| Link



Next he'll show you his Eagle Briefs

The internet probably reached maximum saturation on Hostess ads long ago, but i can't really get enough of Ralph G. Fake.

Eagle maneuver.  Ha ha!  Wait, what?

I briefly wondered if the Tea Party tried suing Obama, but i didn't want to google it.

He destroys the bill of rights! And calls Spider-Man a "soft humanitarian" for complaining about it!

But i've always wondered why Legal Eagle, the Monster Eagle, would be green? I guess it's because he's a Monster Eagle? But i suspect the colorist just said "i guess that's the Vulture". I've seen this ad more times than i can count and i always have to remind myself it's not the Vulture. But that's the colorist's fault.

I do have to give the colorist credit for this scene where the Eagle's feathers just melt away after he turns back into Ralph G. Fake, though.

God, the wordplay. 'Stealing the rights?  Wrong!' 'For once you tell the truth, Fake!'  A lot of work was put into these things, people!

By fnord12 | June 5, 2013, 4:20 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



Free market for thee but not for me

It really is incredible how Congress can get motivated when it's about stuff that affects them personally.

But it's even more amazing how talk of the free market goes right out the window, too. I kind of give the Democrats a pass on this (although i don't agree with them here). But the free market Republicans like Joe Barton that want to dictate where airline companies should fly their planes? Even if there's no ROI in having a direct flight to their home town? You gotta be kidding me.

It's actually the same thing with the post office. I often bring up the fact that they legally have to overfund their pension when the issue of their solvency comes up. But there's also the fact that they have an obligation to keep post offices open, and deliver mail to, every tiny town in America. No business would do that. FedEx and UPS don't do that (they dump their stuff on the USPS). So they're criticized when they don't run their organization like a business, but they legally can't run their organization like a business. We should really be thinking about the USPS as a government service that we need to fund, not a business that has to stand on its own.

The airlines, by contrast, are nominally businesses but they are stuck dealing with this nonsense. And to be fair, a lot of regulation really is required for the airline industry. Not that "fly to my hometown" is defensible. But if Congress wants to go down this path, maybe they ought to consider nationalizing the air transport industry.


By fnord12 | June 5, 2013, 2:30 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



June 4, 2013

It is, after all, Transformer Tuesday

Was looking up how to spell Sienkiewicz and i found this.


By fnord12 | June 4, 2013, 8:41 PM | Comics & TeeVee| Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Uncanny X-Force #5 - Dexter Soy?! What are you doing here? But using him for the dreamscape sections works well enough. And this was good. I'm sure Storm deleting a portion of Bishop's memory will have some repercussions. And confirmation that we're dealing with the demon bear is cool, and i wouldn't even mind a better explanation for the demon bear, which is where it looks like this is going. I thought the Sienkiewicz inspired cover was a nice touch.

Avenging Spider-Man #21 - From this issue it seems like OctoSpidey is collecting the Sinister Six villains because he feels responsible for them, but i'm still hoping it's to launch some sort of Sinister Six scheme. In any event, liking the writing from Octavius' perspective quite a bit.

X-Men #1 - This was fantastic. Nice clear backstory (Hickman please take note), good characterization, nice scenes for everyone and fantastic art. Only hindrance is having just read a book with half these characters doing something else entirely, knowing Rogue is with the Uncanny Avengers, etc.. There's enough characters in the Marvel Universe that we shouldn't have to deal with so much overlap. Not this book's fault, of course, but it's still annoying.

Indestructible Hulk #8 - This was also great in its own way. Good fun. I'd really like a more classic Hulk face - both here and Avenging Spider-Man and generally; i don't like the way he's been drawn lately. But this was a nice three-parter and i hope it's the start of seeing some more Walt Simonson at Marvel again.


By fnord12 | June 4, 2013, 8:33 PM | Comics| Link



Whoodwin?

Tim Boo Ba vs.The Boobahs
Tim Boo Ba The Boobahs

By fnord12 | June 4, 2013, 9:27 AM | Comics & TeeVee & Whoodwin | Comments (1) | Link



June 3, 2013

Wanted: Assata Shakur

I've been meaning to blog this for weeks but i keep forgetting. We keep seeing a billboard like this on the Turnpike on our drive home on Friday nights.

Assata Shakur billboard.

I didn't take the above picture; it's from this site.

The first time i saw it i made a noise that made min slam on the brakes (sorry!). For anyone who doesn't know, Assata Shakur was a Black Panther that was convicted of shooting a state trooper. In the late 70s, she escaped from prison and and fled to Cuba, where she has been living for three+ decades. Shakur's story is difficult, and many people maintain that she was innocent or set up.

When i saw that billboard i thought she had for some reason come back to the US and maybe even launched some new attack or something (she's 66 years old). But that's not the case. For some reason, the FBI has recently added her to the terrorist watchlist and now they are putting up billboards in New Jersey.

I can't find any straight news organizations covering this. Here's the most comprehensive article i've found (note: a goddamn video will start playing as soon as you load the page). But it does seem to be an egregious and arbitrary decision to call her a terrorist and start putting up Wanted signs for her in May 2013.


By fnord12 | June 3, 2013, 3:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



Did Chris Christie increase or cut education funding?

While we were out this weekend, we saw a campaign ad by Chris Christie saying that he provided "the most education funding ever". That was a bit unexpected, so i looked it up when we got home, but i can't really figure it out.

The NJ Star-Ledger and Politifact have a piece on this. Politifact rates the ad "Half true" but that's because of a separate claim on merit pay for teachers that i'm less interested in. Regarding the budget claim, the article says:

As for "most education funding ever," Christie's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget calls for nearly $9 billion in education funding, about $1 billion more than the previous year. State aid to schools would increase $97 million. While no district saw a state aid decrease, many either received a nominal increase of $1 or their funding remained flat.

Wollmer agreed that in terms of dollars, the ad's claim is correct, but points out that there's more to Christie's education funding story.

"But what he doesn't mention is that he cut $1.3 billion from state aid in his first year - Withholding $475 million in aid in January, which was the amount that the state's nearly 600 districts had in total surpluses for unanticipated expenses (a new roof, a bus that needed replacing, an unanticipated special ed placement), and another $820 million in the FY11 budget (which began for schools in September of 2010)," Wollmer said. "Districts cut back dramatically, and 10,000 teachers and staff were laid off, programs were cut, and class sizes increased."

The state Supreme Court in 2011 also ordered Christie to increase aid to the now-former Abbott districts by about $500 million.

And then:

Also, Christie may have a history of slashing education funding as a way to close budget holes, but the ad's claim about the most education funding, ever, is correct.

Ok, what? Forget the $1.3 billion he cut from state aid in the first year; this claim is about FY 2014. So he increased aid by $1 billion, but aid to schools only increased by $97 million. What's the rest of it for? The article doesn't say. And all of Wollmer's paragraph seems to be about an earlier budget; is any of it relevant to this discussion?

By the way, Wollmer is from the New Jersey Education Association, and they are pretty clearly anti-Christie. That's understandable, but this is supposed to be a fact-checking article. The point wasn't to balance Christie's claims with claims from someone on the opposite side of the issue. A fact checking article should just be checking the facts, not giving equal time to both sides. Couldn't they have found anyone who would just objectively say "Yes, this is a larger budget than ever" or "No, it's not."?

I expected this article to be looking at inflation or other technical details. Instead i got a mishmosh of details that don't add up to anything. It comes down to "Christie says this, Wollmer says that, believe what you like."

Compound that with another Ledger/Politifact article rating the AFL-CIO claim that Chris Christie cut education funding by $1.6B while giving out $2B in corporate tax breaks as "Mostly True", and only mostly because Christie's education cuts were $1billion, not $1.6 billion. But wait, that was in 2010.

Sussing things out further, here's an article from a different site, saying:

It's not easy to tell whether this is the most generous education budget in history or one of the most egregious, given the rhetoric coming from both sides in the debate.

Actually there is a bit of truth in each.

The governor is in full reelection mode, pitching the state's investment in school aid as the highest ever. And strictly by the numbers, the amount is indeed the most the state has directly paid.

But that's hardly the full picture. In fiscal 2010, schools actually received more in overall aid, helped by an additional $1 billion in federal stimulus money. The year after, without that help, Christie made deep aid cuts to schools, leading to unprecedented layoffs and decimated programs.

Three years later, districts are getting close to returning to those 2010 totals under Christie's latest budget, but the financial wounds were deep and with a 2 percent tax cap in place since then, few would say they have healed.

Really, a dollar?

Christie has made a big point that two-thirds of all districts will see an increase in state aid this year, and none will see cuts. But that's not exactly true, on a couple of counts.

For one thing, 41 districts are seeing a $1 boost in their aid. Not $1 per student, a small figure in itself when per-pupil spending is in the thousands, but a single dollar overall.

Doubly stinging, another nearly 500 districts are seeing an increase in their required contributions to the debt service on grants they received for new construction costs, not a sizable amount for many of them, but a significant six-figure hit for more than a dozen.

That seems to answer some questions. The overall education budget for NJ is catching up to its 2010 levels, but the contribution from the state government is the largest ever. Right? And maybe the remainder of the $1 billion - $97 million is going to grants for construction costs?

It seems like someone can get the details if they really work at it, but that fact checker article doesn't do a bit of good.


By fnord12 | June 3, 2013, 2:39 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Turkey background

Talking Points Memo surprisingly (for a site focused on politics) has some nice background for what's going on in Turkey.


By fnord12 | June 3, 2013, 2:37 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



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