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May 30, 2014

Cheaper to give homeless people homes

Matthew Yglesias links to a study and supporting info showing that it's cheaper by a factor of three to give homeless people homes than to let them languish in the streets and use up resources in emergency rooms and sending police to clear out public places. And the great part about that is that you don't need to create new spending to fix this problem; it would literally reduce costs in recognizable ways.

My first thought when seeing such spectacular results was that they might be due to the unique factor of the 2008 economic collapse, that because of that you had lots of capable people living on the streets who, if given a chance and a boost, could recover. And that outside of the (ongoing) 2008 crisis, you might not see such good results because then you're dealing solely with mentally ill people who just can't make it on their own. But that's actually not the case; the study includes assigning a case manager that ensures that people take their medication and make doctors visits and the like.

And credit where credit is due: this trial program was started under the Bush administration.


By fnord12 | May 30, 2014, 6:02 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Arthur Chu on Misogyny in Geek Culture

This post was written in reaction to a guy going on a shooting spree at a sorority after being "snubbed" by them.

Link

We (male) nerds grow up force-fed this script. Lusting after women "out of our league" was what we did. And those unattainable hot girls would always inevitably reject us because they didn't understand our intellectual interest in science fiction and comic books and would instead date asshole jocks. This was inevitable, and our only hope was to be unyieldingly persistent until we "earned" a chance with these women by "being there" for them until they saw the error of their ways. (The thought of just looking for women who shared our interests was a foreign one, since it took a while for the media to decide female geeks existed. The Big Bang Theory didn't add Amy and Bernadette to its main cast until Season 4, in 2010.)

This is, to put it mildly, a problematic attitude to grow up with. Fixating on a woman from afar and then refusing to give up when she acts like she's not interested is, generally, something that ends badly for everyone involved. But it's a narrative that nerds and nerd media kept repeating.

...

When this story broke, the initial mainstream coverage only talked about "mental illness," not misogyny, a line that people are now fervently exhorting us to stick to even after the manifesto's contents were revealed. Yet another high-profile tech CEO resignation ensued when the co-founder of Rap Genius decided Rodger's manifesto was a hilarious joke.

People found one of the girls Rodger was obsessed with and began questioning if her "bullying" may have somehow triggered his rage. And, worst of all, he has fan pages on Facebook that still haven't been taken down, filled with angry frustrated men singing his praises and seriously suggesting that the onus is on women to offer sex to men to keep them from going on rampages.



By min | May 30, 2014, 10:28 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 28, 2014

It'll always be a brontosaurus as long as i've got something to say about it

Firefox's spellcheck doesn't like it when scientists go around changing our childhood names for dinosaurs.


By fnord12 | May 28, 2014, 3:23 PM | Godzilla & Science| Link



May 27, 2014

Solar energy moves up to the "fight you" stage

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Mahatma Gandhi

Guess this is progress:

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states...

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.

Hope so, anyway.

Alerted via this cartoon.


By fnord12 | May 27, 2014, 12:20 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Electra #2 - Alright, you've sold me. The new villain is bizarrely interesting. I like the use of the semi-random group of assassins, noting that Taskmaster and Sabretooth are otherwise occupied but bringing in Lady Bullseye and Scalphunter. Who has a YOLO gun; why does he have a YOLO gun?! I admit the giant turtle was the turning point, though. Del Mundo's painted art that recalls Bill Sienkiewicz and David Mack to a degree is nice too.

Captain Marvel #3 - The art here sucks, though. Mainly i'm talking about that incomprehensible space battle in the beginning. Random scenes with spaceships floating in space, no sense of motion or any indication of the kind of hide and seek tactics that were described in the script. And of course despite the lack of anything going on in them, the panels are these giant honking things that spread across two pages. Tons of wasted space with no content. And sometimes you read across the two page spread and sometimes you go down one page at a time. Just terrible layouting. It gets better with the downtime stuff, and Captain Marvel's little fist fight with the alien guy is better. But if the setting of this series (or maybe just this arc?) is outer space, you have to be able to draw space battles. Plotwise, it seems ok but it's all in the aftermath of this Builders story that i know nothing about and the story doesn't try to explain. Like, why is this random alien such a Spider-Woman fangirl? Just because it's funny because S-W and CM have a friendly rivalry?

Hulk #3 - Well i guess i don't have to care about this story anymore, since Waid is off after next issue. Not sure if this story will all be wrapped up super-quickly next issue or if whoever is coming on board will be continuing it, but i hope it's the former, because of the master villain being introduced as someone who was there when the Hulk was born and knew Banner before he was the Hulk. Unless it's Igor Drenkov or General Ross or Betty Ross, i don't really want to hear about that, but i'd trust Waid to handle it over someone else. Anyway, i do like how the premise is evolving here and i liked Zombie Abomination and the Avengers guest appearance (even if Captain Marvel is currently in space for some indefinite period of time), so i was enjoying this. Too bad it doesn't matter anymore.

Iron Man #25 - Iron fillings and a fan! That's how you defeat Dark Elves. It's like back in the old days, when Iron Man would pull out a horseshoe magnet or something and screw it into place. I'm of two minds regarding Iron Man's fight with the Elves. On the one hand, i thought the fight was cleverly done and i liked Iron Man confounding these archaic creatures with science. But on the other hand, it really seems like Iron Man ought to not be doing so well or acting so confident in a mystical setting; it seems like he could clean up all of Asgard's problems for Thor in a few days, and that's not right. But that's all out of my mind anyway because it was replaced with "Oooh, Mole Man's got a Mandarin ring!". I know Gillen is leaving this title but we're further along in this story than Waid is on the current Hulk run so i'm more confident that it will wrap up satisfactorily.

Daredevil #3 - Always good. Nice work making the Owl scary. I admit i had to do some online research regarding Julia Carpenter/Spider-Woman II/Arachne; didn't know that she was ever romantically involved with the Shroud or was missing. Footnotes, people! Not that it was critical to the plot, but why not provide a little more info and promote your books? But anyway, oh hey, look who's still alive!

P.S., when is part II of Road Force Wrecked & Ruined coming out? I want to find out why Thunderball is wearing that hat!


By fnord12 | May 27, 2014, 8:41 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link



May 22, 2014

Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for reparations

This is a long form article.

It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.

But if you read that and want more, here's his blog post showing his evolution of thinking on the subject.

Update:In terms of the mechanics of reparations, Coates' article only suggests that Congress approve John Conyer's bill setting up a study. But Matthew Yglesias has a more specific proposal.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2014, 3:44 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 21, 2014

Marvel Sales

April.


By fnord12 | May 21, 2014, 4:56 PM | Comics| Link



Doctor Octopus hates all wall crawlers

These two ads were across from each other in my Hulk #343 (May 88) comic:

Poor Doc Ock. Everyone thinks he's talking about Spider-Man, but he's just sick of that kid with his Rush 'N Attack poster. That wasn't even a good game.



By fnord12 | May 21, 2014, 4:30 PM | Comics & Video Games| Link



May 20, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

She-Hulk #4 - Part of the reason i've been a little hesitant about this after initially really liking it is because i don't recognize this Kristoff at all. He's not at all like the Kristoff i know even as of the relatively recent (2010) Spider-Man/Fantastic Four mini-series. If i've missed something, which is entirely possible, i think an explanation is needed (per my "if i don't know about it, you're wrong" policy). But even beyond that, i don't really like this version of Kristoff. I know we're not supposed to like him, but i don't even like him as the guy that we're not supposed to like. As far as i can see, Dr. Doom would disintegrate this guy or at least subject him to another personality implant. For that same reason, i didn't like the ending to this issue (although i did like the "Do not wreck this gigantic Doom" line). But i still like the general tone of this book. I liked the visit with Daredevil in the beginning, and i'm hoping i'll start to enjoy the book unequivocally again now that we're past the Kristoff plot and into this Blue File story.

Black Widow #6 - I didn't love Noto's art when this started, but i think i'm watching him grow. His action sequences - Black Widow's escape in the beginning of this issue and her fight with Molot - were much better, i think. Or maybe i'm just getting used to his style. Ending the fight with a ball shot is a bit cliche, but that's probably Edmondson's fault, not Noto's. Storywise, i definitely think the larger plotline has helped, and i definitely think it's worth sticking with this. Also, having still not started with the Hawkeye solo book, i think it's funny that what passes for inter-book referencing these days is having background scenes of Hawkeye getting beaten up.

New Warriors #4 - A big fight sequence, clearly drawn, with everyone getting some moments and lots of quippy dialogue? And of course a larger plot involving the High Evolutionary, the Celestials, and some kind of unified theory on Marvel's various branches of humanity? This is perfect. Marcus To has a style broadly similar to Mark Bagley; classic but still modern looking. Quickly becoming my favorite current book.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2014, 11:23 AM | Comics| Link



May 19, 2014

We're not all recording all our phone conversations

Kevin Drum provides another example of why the Obamacare solution doesn't solve a lot of the problems with our healthcare system. Single Payer systems don't have to deal with this kind of nonsense.


By fnord12 | May 19, 2014, 10:05 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 18, 2014

Send it in! This post?

This is the current featured cover at the GCD:

And i am not immune to the appeal of car driving gorillas. So i thought i'd see what was going on on this cover. And with that, i'll share my failures as a human being:

One thing that seems likely is that the title of this series is A Great Maid.

And searching online, it seems to be a Mexican comic book (it even says so on the GCD's front page, which i missed at first), so i don't know why Google is auto-detecting Portugese and Romanian.

The title is actually Clarita Goes To The Chapultepec, which is a park in Mexico City. I still don't know what Clarita (i assume!) is saying, though.


By fnord12 | May 18, 2014, 11:13 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



May 17, 2014

Marvel Sales

March.


By fnord12 | May 17, 2014, 4:01 PM | Comics| Link



May 15, 2014

Almost, But Not Quite

Still no real replicators, but they're getting closer with using 3-D printers to make food.

The Foodini is described by its manufacturers as "the first 3D-food printer to print all types of real, fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet". They've already made a prototype, and are trying to raise $100,000 to begin a full production run.
...
Compared with other prototypical food printers, the Foodini focuses heavily on using fresh and natural ingredients. Rather than attempting to extrude something like chocolate into incredibly complex designs, the firm instead aims "to streamline some of cooking's more repetitive activities - forming dough into fish-shaped crackers, or forming ravioli". It is perhaps best thought of as an extremely fancy pasta machine.

I would love something that would make my ravioli! And here i just happened to find a recipe for vegan fish-shaped crackers earlier in the week but thought to myself "what the hell kind of chump do you think i am to be spending hours stamping out little fish-shapes?". I was thinking of just going with square crackers, but if they're gonna sell me a machine to do it...i think we can all agree that is quite serendipitous.


By min | May 15, 2014, 2:07 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link



May 12, 2014

Ka-Zar strong like bear!

Digby embeds this video as part of a post on a different topic. But holy cow is this an awesome and surreal video.

But what if the bear isn't a Soviet Super Soldier and it instead represents Global Warming? Does the "we better be prepared even if some people don't agree it's a problem" argument still work?


By fnord12 | May 12, 2014, 2:28 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 11, 2014

Get them off my patio

"The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant."


By fnord12 | May 11, 2014, 4:24 PM | Music & My stupid life| Link



May 9, 2014

Peggy Carter Series

Looks like they are going to come out with a short series starring Peggy Carter to fill out more of the Marvel Universe outside of the movies.

Marvel's Agent Carter, starring Captain America's Hayley Atwell, follows the story of Peggy Carter. It's 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life - Steve Rogers.

I hope this does well and helps with disproving the "nobody's interested in action films starring women" belief. In other words, i really really hope there's very little focus on the "single woman" aspect. I don't need to see 13 episodes of Peggy Carter moaning about not having a man.


By min | May 9, 2014, 11:34 AM | Comics & TeeVee| Link



Obamacare hangs in there

There's a bit of triumphalism going on (see TPM and Krugman) on the left regarding Obamacare, but i don't really get where it's coming from. Republican opposition to Obamacare has always not been based on reality, and has always been hypocritical (it's a moderately conservative idea previously supported by the Heritage Foundation and Mitt Romney, not socialism). So their latest failure to get business people (insurance execs) to conform with their madness isn't really anything new. And no matter what happens in the 2014 elections, Obama will still be president so any attempts to repeal the law were going to get vetoed (if it even got that far). Most importantly, i don't see this latest wave of "defeat" on Obamacare affecting the Republicans' probability of winning the 2014 elections. There is still the two electorates problem for Dems and i'm more pessimistic than Josh Marshall that this doesn't change any time soon. So temporarily making Republican congressmen a laughing stock doesn't really seem to have any special significance.

The good news is that with more or less permanent gridlock in government, i've seen less reason to blog about politics. I know it doesn't seem like it, but it's true.

(It occurs to me that people may not have the background for what i'm talking about in terms of this debacle for Congressional Republicans. I guess this is a good primer, followed by this.)


By fnord12 | May 9, 2014, 9:58 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Neeeeerds!

Really awesome picture from a 1969 comics convention. Lots of familiar names, but all so young and so well dressed! You can click on individual sections of the picture to zoom in and see the names.


By fnord12 | May 9, 2014, 7:56 AM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link



May 8, 2014

Snotty

We had a power outage, mister. Don't you get all passive aggressive with me!


By fnord12 | May 8, 2014, 12:40 PM | My stupid life| Link



May 6, 2014

Pepsi to remove brominated vegetable oil from Mountain Dew

Eventually.

It's too late. I've already developed a tolerance for stevia and now my caffeinated beverage of choice is Mountain Zevia, which is described thusly:

You know those sodas you drink when you want to unwind after a long day? The sodas that have a light, subtle flavor? The ones that you can enjoy right before you go to sleep? Mountain Zevia is not one of those sodas.

The description goes on to say that it's "Considered the rebel of the Zevia line". How could you not drink that? (Well, the answer is that if you aren't used to stevia, it tastes pretty awful. But besides that...)


By fnord12 | May 6, 2014, 5:08 PM | My stupid life| Link



Don't give up hope

It's always possible that in our universe, mutant powers manifest at over the hill instead of adolescence.


By fnord12 | May 6, 2014, 4:35 PM | Comics| Link



These things go down

CBR has data on Marvel's relaunches and how they affect sales (or, ultimately, don't). It's kind of sad to see that steady, almost unstoppable decline on every book (i do wonder how much of it is made up by digital sales, though).

Not the main point, but the article also gets to my personal bugaboo; the reason i bother to gripe about this:

Another unintended consequence of the repeated relaunches is, it makes recommending past story arcs increasingly challenging. Individual issues are available digitally on comiXology, the Marvel app and Marvel Digital Unlimited. It is no longer possible to easily point a casual reader in the direction of a good story arc with just a title and an issue number. Explaining to a casual reader which issue of "Captain America" starts the storyline which is the basis for the "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" movie requires referencing volumes, creators and story arc titles. One volume too early, and they get the "Enemy" arc by John Ney Rieber. One volume too late, and they get Ed Brubaker's "American Dreamers" arc instead of "Out of Time." Unfortunately, that bell can't be unrung.

It's not just new readers on comiXology. It's an annoyance for any reader trying to locate some story arc that they've missed; it's been a challenge for me in the past on several occasions. And then there's the admittedly minor nuisance of cataloging this stuff, not just for my Timeline project but even just my personal list of comics i own. I think that's the sort of problem a lot of long term fans will run into but it's not one that Tom Brevoort has any sympathy for.


By fnord12 | May 6, 2014, 11:56 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



May 5, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Quiet week for us:

Hulk #2 - I was pretty geared up for a Hulk/Abomination fight drawn by Bagley, and i guess i got one, but it felt like background noise to the goings-on with SHIELD in the small town. I'm still in wait and see mode on this, hoping the plot develops into something. Seems like it could become interesting, but we're not there yet.


By fnord12 | May 5, 2014, 11:20 PM | Comics| Link



Welcome back to the starting line

Just thought i'd spoilsport last week's job numbers:

Especially now that we're nearing a return to 2008 job levels, it's easy to dismiss the past 6 years as just having "inconvenienced" some several million people for a while, but we're all better now. In fact, for many, this was a period of extreme economic hardship that devastated lives. And there is a spill-over effect even on people who didn't lose jobs for some of that period - cut hours, more work responsibilities, little or no cost of living increases. And then on top of that, the permanent economic damage shown by the chart. We are now forever 6 years behind where we should be in terms of the country's economic growth. More at Yglesias.

And the point is that this was all preventable. Here's Paul Krugman back in 2009 calculating the size of the stimulus needed to account for the economic catastrophe we had just been through, and ending with:

I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we're talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says "See, government spending doesn't work."

Let's hope I've got this wrong.



By fnord12 | May 5, 2014, 12:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 4, 2014

Vegan New York-Style Cheesecake

This is the "sour cream topping" version, as opposed to the "sour cream blended in" one.

vegan new york-style cheesecake

We topped this with some cherry pie filling cause why wouldn't we?

Ingredients


Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 T butter (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    Filling

  • 4 8-oz containers of vegan cream cheese (we like Tofutti)
  • 1 12-oz box of firm silken tofu (we like Mori-Nu)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
    Topping

  • 8 oz of vegan sour cream (we like Tofutti)
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375degF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

In a bowl, mix the crust ingredients together to form a dough. Press evenly into the bottom of the pan. Prick with a fork and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, reducing the oven temperature to 350degF. Place a pan of water on the lower rack.

In a food processor, blend the cream cheese and tofu until smooth. Add the sugar, flour, and vanilla and mix again. Pour the filling on top of the crust. Placing the cheesecake on the upper rack, bake for 50 minutes. (To make it easier to move and in case of leakage, I always put the springform pan on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven.)

Before the 50 minutes are up, mix the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl. After the cheesecake has been baking for 50 minutes, take it out of the oven and spread the topping evenly over it. Return the cheesecake to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Allow the cheesecake to sit in the turned off oven for an hour before placing it in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

We didn't actually wait that long and cut into the cheesecake after only 6 hours of chilling. We accepted the consequences, and i am here to tell you that consequences are delicious. I'm going to have to find some guinea pigs, though, because there are a few tweaks to this recipe i'd like to try and i'm too damned stuffed to eat more cheesecake right now.


By min | May 4, 2014, 2:11 PM | Vegan Vittles| Link



May 3, 2014

That sounds a little more like it

FCC Chairman Wheeler is possibly taking the pushback on their previous decision seriously.


By fnord12 | May 3, 2014, 2:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



May 2, 2014

So That's Why He's Wearing That Dorky Helmet

Someone should let Cap know he can stop wearing that corrective helmet. It's too late to fix the problem.

For their research, they assessed 84 babies who had moderate or severe positional skull deformation. They had either plagiocephaly or brachycephaly.

From the age of 6 months, half of the infants were required to wear custom-made closely fitting helmets for 23 hours a day for a 6-month period. The remaining infants had no treatment at all.

On measuring the head shape of all infants once the babies reached 2 years old, the team found that the infants who wore the helmets showed no significant improvements, compared with those who received no treatment.


By min | May 2, 2014, 12:44 PM | Comics & Science| Link



May 1, 2014

Deep Mauve

I thought it was time to expand my Captain Beyond collection beyond the first album, and somehow that led me to the Wikipedia page for Rod Evans, singer for Captain Beyond and prior to that original singer for Deep Purple. And that's where i saw this:

Tour of imitation band

In 1980 he was approached by a management company which specialized in questionably-reformed bands with well-known names, and he began to tour under the Deep Purple name accompanied by unknown session musicians...

After several shows ended in near riots,[5] Evans was sued by the management of the real Deep Purple and they were awarded damages of $672,000. As a result of the lawsuit, Evans no longer receives royalties from the band's first three albums

Poor guy.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2014, 7:34 PM | Music| Link



"In the 1980s, Reagan gutted X"

Buried in the bowels of every article describing a problem in some city is a line like this:

It wasn't always like this -- not that long ago, Philadelphia was regarded as one of the cleanest big cities in America.

Up to the 1970s, the Streets Department employed more than 5,000 people, underpinned by millions in federal grants designed to beef up municipal workforces. That money helped the Sanitation Division pay for over 500 "block people" -- men with brooms who literally swept every block in the city by hand.

But in the 1980s, the Reagan administration gutted federal employment grants, just as middle class flight was decimating city revenues. Within a 10-year span, street-cleaning crews were cut in half.

This is in the context of apparently major flooding in Philly after the rain we've been having.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2014, 11:53 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Sure, making shopping more stressful. That'll help.

I'm not a Millennial but this certainly describes my shopping preferences (well except i don't drink lattes).

And i also don't think this would be a good solution for retailers, but i have a hard time believing anyone would think it's a good idea:

In the future, retailers should alter merchandising strategies to include trading and bartering rather than traditional shopping.

By fnord12 | May 1, 2014, 11:49 AM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link



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