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October 31, 2016

Spooks Arrrghathon

Just some of the movies from our horror marathons this month:

That font's a little weird.  I keep wondering what the Arrrgh Nation is.

Blood From The Mummy's Tomb should have been called Boobs From The Not A Mummy's Tomb.


Blood From The Mummy's Tomb was a total lie. There was no mummy. And the Return of the Vampire was a total unforced error. They could have prevented the vampire's return with hardly any extra effort on their part. They actually created a circumstance that made his return pretty inevitable. *shakes head*

By fnord12 | October 31, 2016, 10:41 AM | Music & My stupid life| Link



October 26, 2016

No Chinaman

Cause clearly, if one appears in your detective story, everyone would know right away who committed the crime. Der.

Ronald Knox's 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction

Also, #8 - i'm looking at you, Agatha Christie! *shakes fist*

h/t wnkr

By min | October 26, 2016, 11:08 AM | Boooooks| Link



October 25, 2016

It's not you, it's... not me. It's the Inhumans.

Justin Zyduck at MightyGodKing comes to the conclusion that Marvel's output may or may not be any good but the real issue is it's just not for him anymore. I bounced back and forth on this quite a bit myself before i decided to stop following Marvel. Since "no good" or "just not for me" ends the same way in terms of my personal collecting, it was really a moot question. But Zyduck had me leaning towards the latter.

But then i read Paul O'Brien's review of (heh) Civil War II: X-Men, or, as he puts it (double heh) Event Crossover: Non-participating Series. (As an aside, i actually thought World War Hulk: X-Men was pretty good; a better introduction to the new young X-characters than i'd seen anywhere else.) And in that review he gets to a larger point about the fact that Marvel keeps trying to make the Inhumans "happen" even though it clearly isn't going to:

But we long since passed the point where it was transparently clear that the Inhumans weren't catching on and where the main question came to be how long Marvel would drag this out. The decision to build their summer crossover around the Inhumans - and then see it squashed flat by DC Rebirth - would be the last straw for some publishers. But then lead-in times mean that major directional changes for the Marvel Universe take an age to feed through, so we're stuck with the bastards for the foreseeable future whether we like them or not, and the X-Men are heading for an extended crossover whose main - perhaps exclusive - interest lies in whether it will be used to finally draw a line under the whole fiasco.

And it's like, oh yeah, that's why i got sick of Marvel. Certainly not the focus on diversity, which i applaud. A lot of the writing and art was bad, but hey, i'm working through 1993 on my project right now, and nothing's worse than that. The overreliance on perpetual line-wide crossovers? See again 1993. Combine those two things with modern decompression and it's more of a problem, granted. But my investment in the Marvel universe was so ingrained that i don't think that alone would have been enough. The breaking factor for me was the disregard for continuity, especially when it was obvious that the continuity changes were to reflect the cinematic universe rather than because someone had a great idea that just couldn't be told in current continuity.

I don't know why i'm beating this dead horse at this late date anyway, but Zyduck and O'Brien's posts converged in my head. And i admit to a perverse and rude satisfaction in seeing Marvel's attempts to promote the Inhumans failing. I don't know why. I'm not a huge X-Men fan and i never got as outraged about Marvel downplaying the X-Men as others did. Maybe it's the way the Inhumans took over the SHIELD TV show; made me never want to see an Inhuman again.


So sick of inhumans in my SHIELD tv show. I just want spy vs spy with a dabble of super powers thrown in.

I could hear Paul O'Brien's voice in my head as i read his quote. That's just weird.

By fnord12 | October 25, 2016, 9:46 AM | Comics| Link



Organic Gardening

I saw mention of this in the lettercol for FF #377 and figured i'd blog it. Art is by Ron Frenz and Al Milgrom. Then i found Chris Tolworthy's page with over 200 tributes to Fantastic Four #1's cover. I like the Mr. Men best.


By fnord12 | October 25, 2016, 8:12 AM | Comics| Link



October 21, 2016

Wouldn't You Rather Talk About Monkeys

Than all this politics crap? Of course you would. Only people with no souls would choose politics over monkeys smashing rocks.

Link

The monkey picks up a potato-sized rock in his tiny hands, raises it above his head and smashes it down with all his might on another stone embedded in the ground. As the creature enthusiastically bashes away, over and over, flakes fly off the rock he is wielding. They are sharp enough to cut meat or plant material. The monkey does not pay much attention to the flakes, save to place one on the embedded rock and attempt to smash it, too. But he has unintentionally produced artifacts that look for all the world like stone tools found at some human archaeological sites.

Uh oh. Was it monkey or was it man?

Now a new study has examined the capuchin-produced stone flakes and compared them to human-made artifacts, and it turns out that the chips meet criteria used to distinguish human tools from naturally broken rocks. The findings, published in the October 20 Nature, could fuel debate over controversial archaeological sites in Brazil that are said to have some of the earliest evidence of humans in the New World. The discovery also raises questions about what differentiates humans from other primates, and how our lineage started fashioning tools from stone.
...
Yet in other ways the capuchin handiwork throws the divide between nonhuman primates and ourselves into higher relief. Researchers agree that the key difference between the capuchin-made artifacts and human-made ones is that the latter were produced intentionally, with a purpose in mind. For the capuchins, sharp-edged flakes appear to be disposable byproducts of their quest for quartz dust. For early humans, they almost certainly aided survival by facilitating access to food.

Although the capuchin discovery demonstrates that nonhuman species can accidentally produce fragments of rock that look just like human-crafted cutting tools, that does not mean the human-made tools are not special, Harmand cautions. Even if human ancestors started creating flakes by mistake like the capuchins do, there was something that made them realize they could put them to use and even make new tools to suit their purposes.

Mebbe the monkeys are just getting smarter. I've seen lots of Planet of the Apes thanks to fnord12. I know what happens when primates get smart. Now we can have our choice of apocalyptic futures: Dr. Strangelove or The Ape Uprising.


By min | October 21, 2016, 8:27 AM | Science| Link



October 20, 2016

Mandatory privatized retirement accounts

David Sirota & Avi Asher-Schapiro:

While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group...

The proposal would require workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll into individual retirement accounts "to be invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers," as James put it. In other words, individual voluntary 401(k)s would be replaced by a single national system, and much of the mandated savings would flow to Wall Street, where companies like Blackstone could earn big fees off the assets.

More from Yves Smith.


By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 4:54 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



"Centrist Internationalism"

Here comes the goddamn apocalypse:

In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama's departure from the White House -- and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton -- is being met with quiet relief.

The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.


By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 4:51 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Wish Twitter was around in the 90s

I don't disagree with any of the criticism of the Campbell Riri Williams cover. But i have to admit that my initial reaction was "People are upset about that?!". Again, it's not that i disagree. I've just become so inured to it all.


By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 11:59 AM | Comics| Link



Chickensaurus

While double-checking my bird science for a comics entry, i came across this:

Genetically, birds still retain much of the code needed to make teeth. Some researchers are even trying to reverse-engineer dinosaurs by working backwards from modern birds.

Min will complain about scientists and their penchant for delving into the unknown without the safety of the world being taken into consideration, but i for one will welcome the day when you have to bring a spear out with you when you sit on your patio, just in case.


By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 9:57 AM | Science| Link



October 17, 2016

Next: We torture puppies

Not feeling depressed for some reason? Time magazine has you covered:

They did it as a warning to other potential drug users.  Kind of like putting heads on a pike outside the city walls.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2016, 6:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Peak Television

Following up on some older posts about the state of Netflix, here's Atrios, and it's worth following through to the Guardian article.


By fnord12 | October 17, 2016, 10:01 AM | TeeVee| Link



October 14, 2016

Your lying eyes, etc.

I hear we are not at war in Yemen. Which is good. Because even if we have been supporting a country that is at war in Yemen both financially and logistically, and even though we may have had a ship fired at, and even though we've bombed Yemen and may "have to" do so again, it would be terrible if we were at war.

We'd also like you to know that what we're doing in Yemen is very different than what Russia is doing in Syria. And as soon as the State Department official can figure out why it's different, he'll let you know.


By fnord12 | October 14, 2016, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



October 12, 2016

Maybe not forever after all

Found on Naked Capitalism:

Over the past few days, the Diamond Producers Association launched its first new ad campaign in five years after watching retail sales of diamond jewelry slow down, as Millennials built on the habit pioneered by prior generations of delaying or not even thinking about marriage, and thus not being sufficiently enthusiastic about buying diamond engagement rings.

The campaign, according to Adweek, is designed to motivate Millennials "to commemorate their 'real,' honest relationships with diamonds, even if marriage isn't part of the equation."

Would an honest relationship with diamonds include talking about slithering into a recession. Good thing we have such promising choices in this next election.


By fnord12 | October 12, 2016, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Bumble

Link

Bumblebees seem to have a "positive emotionlike state," according to a study published this week in Science. In other words, they may experience something akin to happiness.

The study consisted of hepping the bees up on sugar water and seeing how fast they fly towards flowers they were trained to associate with having sugar water.

He and his colleagues trained bumblebees to distinguish between a blue flower placed on the left side of a container and a green one on the right. When the bees explored the blue flower, they found a 30 percent sugar solution. But when they explored the green one, they slurped up plain, unsweetened water. Eventually, the bees learned to associate the blue flower with a tasty reward.

Then the researchers tested the bees on ambiguously colored flowers at intermediate locations. Half of the insects were given a 60 percent sugar solution prior to the test, and those bees flew faster toward the ambiguous blue-green flower. The remaining bees that were not given the sugar flew more slowly.

The assumption that an ambiguous stimulus contains a reward despite the lack of evidence is called an optimism bias. Perry's experiment suggests that a bit of sugar amped up the bees into a positive emotional state, making them more optimistic that the flower would contain a sugary treat.

SUGAR NOM NOM NOM!!!!!!!


By min | October 12, 2016, 8:50 AM | Science| Link



Not that it'll mean much

I'm unsure if the things being revealed about Hillary Clinton in the latest Wikileaks drop (here, here, and elsewhere) are new awful, confirmation of old awful, or if i'm just suffering from confirmation bias, but, regardless, i love the response from Bernie Sanders (from the second link):

Her former Democratic presidential rival, Bernie Sanders responded in a statement, "Whatever Secretary Clinton may or may not have said behind closed doors on Wall Street, I am determined to implement the agenda of the Democratic Party platform which was agreed upon by her campaign," and which "calls for breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country, re-establishing Glass-Steagall and prosecuting those many Wall Street CEOs who engaged in illegal behavior."

Sounds like he's acting like he has a contract and he's all ready to turn against her if she drops the ball on the things that (he thinks) she's agreed to.


By fnord12 | October 12, 2016, 7:23 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



October 11, 2016

Return of the Commies

Everything is a plot by the Kremlin.

I hope we're at least gonna get some Super Apes out of this.


By fnord12 | October 11, 2016, 9:38 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



I Love Zhang Yimou, But

I'm not seeing this white savior movie. Sorry, Matt Damon.

New York Comic Con has brought us some new information about Matt Damon's upcoming star turn in a creature feature set in ancient China called The Great Wall. As soon as early news about this movie emerged, so too did concerns that the movie would revolve around a classic "white savior" narrative involving Matt Damon's character coming to fight with the Chinese armies against the monsters and save them from the threat. Why do the Chinese characters in this movie need a Western outsider to show up and save them?
...
It's a very common trope in fiction to see a "white savior" showing up, joining an Asian organization or army, then proving that he is actually "the best" of them all. This is a concern that has been raised already about Iron Fist, as well as Doctor Strange, since both of those stories revolve around Western characters traveling to the East and learning how to be "the best" at whatever techniques they learn there. This is even a story that's been used in Wolverine comics and in the new Wolverine movies (with Wolverine traveling to Japan on a quest for self-discovery), and it also famously appeared in the 2003 action movie The Last Samurai. This "white savior" trope has been written about in media analysis texts for decades. It runs the gamut from a white character learning martial arts and eventually surpassing his Asian teachers, to a white character saving an entire Asian society from a threat using skills that apparently the Asian characters lack, for whatever reason.

Damon addressed the controversy himself on his panel about the movie at NYCC, but it doesn't seem as though he fully understands the problem at hand, let alone how prevalent it actually is. According to Coming Soon's transcript of Damon's words at the panel, he said:


"Yeah, it was a f*ckin' bummer. I had a few reactions. I was surprised, I guess because it was based on a teaser, it wasn't even a full trailer let alone a movie. To get those charges levied against you... What bummed me out is I read The Atlantic religiously and there was an article in The Atlantic. I was like, 'Really, guys?' To me whitewashing was when Chuck Connors played Geronimo. (laughs) There are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that, but Pedro Pascal called me and goes, 'Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the wall against the monster attack.'"

To point out the white savior problem that seems to be exactly what they're marketing is apparently undermining our credibility because we've only seen the teaser and trailer and not the entire film. Well, if it's not a white savior movie, then mebbe you should try not marketing it that way and then we wouldn't have to have this discussion.

And to add salt to that wound,

The Great Wall won't be passing the Bechdel-Wallace Test. There appears to be only one woman in the movie's main cast, to be played by Jing Tian. In this trailer, she appears to be the only woman fighting on the battlefield, but for some reason, the movie isn't about her experiences becoming a warrior woman in ancient supernatural-universe China... even though that sounds way more interesting than whatever Matt Damon's character does, which is show up, steal stuff, and shoot arrows. In this trailer, Jing Tian's character looks like a by-the-books "Action Girl", the only woman on the team. I'm willing to stake money that she'll end up as someone's love interest and, also, end up getting captured by baddies and rescued at least once.

Oh, she's totally going to end up a love interest. Most likely Damon's. Blech.


By min | October 11, 2016, 9:26 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies| Link



October 7, 2016

Where's My Juice?

During the study, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans were "invited" one at a time to sit in a room and drink juice while watching a sequence of scenarios on a video monitor.

Link

To capture the apes' attention, the researchers made each experimental scenario into a high stakes television drama starring a mysterious apelike character (a researcher in a gorilla suit), whom they dubbed King Kong.
...
In one scenario the King Kong figure pretended to attack a researcher, then hid in one of two hay bales, moving to the other bale while the researcher watched. Then the researcher left for awhile before returning with a stick to look for King Kong, who had left the scene while the researcher was away. In another scenario the costumed figure moved to the other hay bale after the researcher left and then departed entirely. The researchers also set up the same two scenarios in a slightly different setting--instead of hiding himself, King Kong hid a stolen rock under one of two boxes before removing it completely.

Apes from all three species consistently passed the test; even though the animals knew King Kong or the rock was gone, when the researcher returned to search for it, they consistently looked at the hay bale or box where the person had last seen the object and presumably still thought it was hidden.

I think i could pass this test. It's way easier than the one fnord12 gave me during our last D&D session.

fnord12: I'm going to name something and you have to say what beats it. You have to answer immediately. Ready? Sheep.

min: ...Axe!

fnord12: O...K...I guess that's right, too.

min: What? What were you thinking?

fnord12: Wolf?

min: Ohhh....that makes sense...


By min | October 7, 2016, 9:02 AM | Science| Link



October 6, 2016

NJ Poll

Link (PDF).

Seems pretty safe to vote third party, if one were inclined to do so.


By fnord12 | October 6, 2016, 7:22 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link



October 3, 2016

Dynamite trolls Min

Hopefully they do more than clean a house together.

Sometimes i feel like Dynamite's publishing model is to put out a comic series for each individual on the planet. This time it's Min's turn. I'm still holding out for the Smurf/Snork Wars.

Found via Mike Sterling's latest End of Civilization post, which has plenty more fun.

OOH OOH OOH OOH OOH! There's no way this can be good, is there?


By fnord12 | October 3, 2016, 1:00 PM | Comics & TeeVee| Link



Boba Fett: Double Bass Champion

This has been brought to my attention. For those not interested in the (really great) cover, there's a funny bit in the middle.


By fnord12 | October 3, 2016, 10:31 AM | Star Wars| Link



October 2, 2016

No one will be seated during the thrilling Luke Cage preach-off

So this latest Marvel Netflix series is a little... slower and talk-ier than i would have expected.

The writers of this show have an amazing ability to strip out all tension and any sense of urgency from every scene. I've never seen a more prolonged and boring "dying from a gunshot wound" setup.


By fnord12 | October 2, 2016, 7:12 PM | Comics & TeeVee| Link



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