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March 31, 2008

Obscene Teddy

Starfaith is responsible for sending me this obscenity. And now i share it with you.

By min | March 31, 2008, 2:42 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

China Will Eat You Next

My mom once told me a story about my great grandmother. My great grandmother always contended that those creatures on earth whose backs faced the sky were meant to be eaten by those of use whose backs do not.

Food prices are soaring, a wealthier Asia is demanding better food and farmers cannot keep up. In short, the world faces a food crisis and in some places it is already boiling over.
Drought, a declining dollar, a shift of investment money into commodities and use of farm land to grow biofuel crops have all contributed to food woes. But population growth and the growing wealth of China and other emerging countries are likely to be more enduring factors.
"China's population is proportionately much larger than the countries that industrialized in earlier periods and is almost double that of the current G-7 nations combined," the central bank [of Australia] said.

The emergence of China's middle class is adding hugely to demand not just for basic commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat, but also for meat, milk and other high-protein foods.

The Chinese, whose rise began in earnest in 2001, ate just 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds, of meat per capita in 1985. They now eat 50 kilograms a year.

Each pound of beef takes about seven pounds of grain to produce, which means land that could be used to grow food for humans is being diverted to growing animal feed.


However, the Chinese aren't picky. If there wasn't enough food to go around, I think you might start to look pretty delicious regardless of where your back faced.

The amount of energy and resources used to raise animals for eating is one of the big reasons for going vegan. Instead of using that land and those resources to raise animals, we could be growing food for people. How many people could you feed if you traded seven pounds of vegetables and grains for every pound of cattle raised?

The article also mentions the usage of land for growing crops to be used as biofuel instead of food has contributed to the problem as well. Farmers can make more money selling palm oil for biofuel than for cooking. Money they need to buy food and other essentials for living. But in the meantime, the people are starving because all the land they used to grow food on has been commandeered for more biofuel crops. And round and round it goes.

By min | March 31, 2008, 2:09 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Mukasey, are you sure that's the argument you want to make?


Officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."

At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America's anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. "We got three thousand. . . . We've got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn't come home to show for that," he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

Glenn Greenwald responds:

These are multiple falsehoods here, and independently, this whole claim makes no sense. There is also a pretty startling new revelation here about the Bush administration's pre-9/11 failure that requires a good amount of attention.

Even under the "old" FISA, no warrants are required where the targeted person is outside the U.S. (Afghanistan) and calls into the U.S. Thus, if it's really true, as Mukasey now claims, that the Bush administration knew about a Terrorist in an Afghan safe house making Terrorist-planning calls into the U.S., then they could have -- and should have -- eavesdropped on that call and didn't need a warrant to do so. So why didn't they? Mukasey's new claim that FISA's warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it's all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the "Afghan safe house." It just didn't. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Independently, even if there had been a warrant requirement for that call -- and there unquestionably was not -- why didn't the Bush administration obtain a FISA warrant to listen in on 9/11-planning calls from this "safe house"? Independently, why didn't the administration invoke FISA's 72-hour emergency warrantless window to listen in on those calls? If what Muskasey said this week is true -- and that's a big "if" -- his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn't intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration's failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his false claims, FISA -- for multiple reasons -- did not prevent eavesdropping on that call.

Michael Mukasey can cry all he wants about the 9/11 attacks. But neither he nor the rest of the Bush administration are the proprietors of those attacks. There were millions of New Yorkers in Manhattan on 9/11 other than Michael Mukasey, who lived and worked there for a long time. Neither Mike Mukasey nor his tearful pleas for unchecked government surveillance power and the erosion of the rule of law are representative of them.

To the contrary, the substantial majority of New Yorkers -- and huge majorities of Manhattanites -- vehemently reject the Bush/Cheney agenda of dismantling our constitutional framework and basic safeguards in the name of these sorts of fear-mongering and manipulative appeals. Unlike Mukasey and other Bush followers, most New Yorkers have ceased quivering in fear long ago -- if they ever did -- and have had their resolve to defend our basic constitutional liberties strengthened, not obliterated, as a result of the 9/11 attack and the subsequent, self-serving exploitation of it by Mukasey's White House bosses. And under no circumstances do Mukasey's tears provide license for this tidal wave of lies in defense of presidential lawlessness, from our nation's highest "law enforcement officer."

By fnord12 | March 31, 2008, 9:49 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

To his credit??!??

Quoted on Digby:

His most famous pander came in 2000, when, after earlier denouncing the Confederate flag as a "symbol of racism," he embraced it as "a symbol of heritage." To his credit, Mr. McCain later acknowledged, "I feared that if I answered honestly I could not win the South Carolina primary, so I chose to compromise my principles."

Our media is sooooo broken. Go read that Digy post.

By fnord12 | March 31, 2008, 9:30 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 27, 2008

Question of the day

In the Beastie Boys song "Something's Got To Give", they say "This one's called 'Rectify'." But it's not. It's called "Something's Got To Give." Please to explain.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2008, 11:24 AM | Music| Link

Marvel Midgets

Forget the Halloween costumes; i want a series about three crime fighting midgets whose powers were derived from Cap, Spidey, and the Hulk. Look at the arms on those "kids", they are hella strong. And yes, the "Hulk" midget will wear a picture of his face on his shirt. These guys are awesome.

Actually, considering the bags of loot they're holding, maybe they're bad guys? I predict a run-in with Roughouse and Bloodsport. "Hold, my fine fanged friend! Methinks these be not babies after all!"

Also: "Camp it up as Capt. America"? What the hell does that mean?

By fnord12 | March 27, 2008, 9:03 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Moving Waves by Focus

Moving waves, the wind has left you
And you're still in commotion.
Moving waves, the wind has left you
And you're still in commotion.

We are still repeating the word it has taught us
It moves our whole being into ecstasy.

Waves, why do you all become excited
And then all calm together?
Because behind our individual action
There is one impulse working.
Because behind our individual action
There is one impulse working.

Rising waves...what motive is behind your impulse?
What motive is behind your impulse?

The desire to reach upwards!

By fnord12 | March 27, 2008, 8:56 AM | Music| Link

March 26, 2008

Future Rod says:

Get out while you can.

By fnord12 | March 26, 2008, 1:58 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link


Check out these interviews by Charlie Rose and Peter Jennings, where "off message" Iraqis somehow wound up being interviewed. What's amazing is how shocked Rose and Jennings seemed to be that they somehow wound up interviewing these people.

By fnord12 | March 26, 2008, 1:44 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Social Security trustees report comes out today. Get prepared for usual round of IT'S GOING BANKRUPT AND WE'LL HAVE TO CUT THEIR BENEFITS UNLESS WE CUT THEIR BENEFITS.

...and here it is. Quick glance says no substantial change from last year's projections. On to dig through and see what's up with the assumptions...


Social Security looms for next president

The Social Security trustees issued their annual report Tuesday, and it showed how soon the system will run into trouble.

The problem is well-known: Funded by taxes on workers' wages, the Social Security system currently takes in more funds than it has promised to pay out to retirees. And the federal government has been borrowing those surplus funds over the years. But that surplus is shrinking, and eventually the system won't be able to pay out all of the promised benefits.

The trustees estimate that by 2017, the funds going in to Social Security will be less than the benefits promised.

This is the same half-baked information we've been hearing for a while. The truth, as they obscurely refer to further down in the article, is that if we do absolutely nothing, the SS office will stop being able to make 100% of payouts in 2041 (it will at that point be able to pay out at 80%). The obvious and simple solution to this is to raise the income cap at which SS taxes are paid (currently you don't pay for SS taxes over about $100,000 of your salary, assuming you make that much). This should be done (and i'd like to see a push to actually expand SS benefits) but there is certainly no crisis.

If we want to worry about potentially unsolvent government programs, we can look at Medicare, but the real issue here is that there is a strong push to make people think that their Social Security benefits won't be there for them when they retire. Once people are convinced that SS is in trouble, they can push to privatize the benefit, which means putting it in the hands of the people who recently invested all of their money in worthless mortgages.

By fnord12 | March 26, 2008, 1:26 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 25, 2008

I know a solution to this problem


A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down a state law requiring airlines to give food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers stuck in delayed planes, saying the measure was well-intentioned but stepped on federal authority.

Should take about 2 hours of our federal government's time to take the language of NY's law and turn it into a federal law, and i can't imagine it'd be a terribly unpopular law to pass.

You do have to admire the balls of the airline industry in challenging a law that requires them to provide food, water, toilets, and air to people trapped on their planes.

By fnord12 | March 25, 2008, 6:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Master of analogies

Dick Cheney, whose intial response to the fact that the public is at this point heavily against the Iraqi invasion was "So?", has now clarified:

Just like, 30 years ago, everyone was against President Ford's decision to pardon Nixon's criminal behavior, but now they are apparently in favor of it, 30 years from now everyone will approve of the Bush's decisions in Iraq.

Thirty years later, nearly everybody would say it is exactly the right thing to do, that if he'd paid attention at the time to the polls he never would have done that. But he demonstrated, I think, great courage and great foresight, and the country was better off for what Jerry Ford did that day. And 30 years later, everybody recognized it.

And I have the same strong conviction the issues we're dealing with today -- the global war on terror, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq -- that all of the tough calls the president has had to make, that 30 years from now it will be clear that he made the right decisions, and that the effort we mounted was the right one, and that if we had listened to the polls, we would have gotten it wrong.

By fnord12 | March 25, 2008, 12:03 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Soda Popinski vs.Zangief
Soda Popinkski Zangief

By fnord12 | March 25, 2008, 9:11 AM | Video Games & Whoodwin | Comments (5) | Link

March 24, 2008

UPDATED: As our economy collapses, put the guy who let it happen in charge.

Can you imagine that Hillary Clinton is proposing putting Alan Greenspan in charge of fixing our mortgage crisis? I'm all for forcing the man into doing community service for the rest of his life, but how about picking up litter on the sides of the highways instead of running an agency where his incompetence can once again screw us over.

This may be pushing it a bit too much (i tend to be attracted to the most apocalyptic doomsayers), but we're going to be in big trouble for the next few years, and if the best our presidential candidates have in mind is handing the keys back to the people who got us here, things will be bad.



So the Daily News asked, why Greenspan, that wasn't he off-base on the housing bubble, and here was her response:

"Not only that, but the Fed didn't act while he was there. But he has a calming influence still to this day on Wall Street -- don't ask me why because I never understand what he's saying -- but nevertheless people respond to that Delphic oracle approach."

Awesome. Do any of our presidential candidates understand economics?

By fnord12 | March 24, 2008, 3:07 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Incredible Hercules #115 - I was kind of hoping Cho would go the supervillain route. Hercules talking him down is more conventional, but it was still done well. The development of Hercules' back story - something that didn't even seem possible since his myths are pretty much what they are - is being done very well.

Captain America #36 - Missing Epting's art just a little bit but it's still good. I wonder if the Winter Soldier's more violent approach to fighting (including, but not just referring to, guns and knives) is something Brubaker is setting up in a negative light, or just a way to distinguish him from Cap. I thought the failed inspirational speech was a great moment. And of course the cliffhanger - wasn't expecting that so soon.

Order #9 - I was expecting a downgrade in quality now that they're cramming everything in to finish up the story before it is cancelled after next issue, but it's still OK. Not great, but not bad.

Iron Fist #13 - This really is a great book, and since i'm currently reading the original Iron Fist stories as part of my marvel timeline project, it's nice to see that things are well researched as well. Looking forward to the big kung fu ass kicking next issue.

Iron Man #27 - I am enjoying the politics of this (although a part of me wonders why Norman Osborn gets to have anything to do with an inquiry on SHIELD's actions - especially since it was originally the UN that performed the 'arrest). I also liked the mental fake out the Mandarin pulled - i suspected it but the delivery was still unexpected. But was anyone else fooled by the preview for Secret Invasion - i just assumed it was part of the Iron Man story and was wondering how the hell Tony could be in a lab with Reed and Hank when he's supposed to be dealing with the fallout/arrest.

By fnord12 | March 24, 2008, 1:00 PM | Comics| Link

It ain't me, babe

Tom Tomorrow's comic is related to this feature in Slate where "liberal" hawks explain their rational in supporting the Iraq invasion five years ago. Tim Noah's article is the best of those, since he actually admits he was wrong and correctly wonders why the people who got it so wrong five years ago are still the ones with prominent columns and frequent television appearances. The same should apply on economic news - all the economists who discounted the warnings about the housing bubble should no longer be the go-to experts for journalists writing articles on the economy, and yet the same people who didn't predict the bubble are the ones who are now being asked what the impact will be and how long the recession will last.

By fnord12 | March 24, 2008, 12:25 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage| Link

March 21, 2008

Chris Wallace chides fellow Fox anchors over Obama 'coverage'

I'm a little suspicious of the motives (Wallace is no angel, he's been agitating for Obama to come on his show for a long while now, and why would Fox's producers allow this sort of infighting to happen on the air?), but it's still good and interesting to see this message reach Fox viewers. And the other anchors sure don't look happy.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2008, 3:45 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Scott Pilgrim movie

Directed by the guy who directed Shaun of the Dead.

It's be nice if O'Malley finishes the series before the movie is made, unless this movie is the first part of a series.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2008, 9:45 AM | Comics & Movies| Link

Nice Job, Guys


In fact, Gov. David Paterson, in an extraordinary news conference on Tuesday, his first full day on the job after taking over from Spitzer, acknowledged he had had extramarital affairs with a number of women while he was a state senator. At night, legislators, young staffers, younger interns, lobbyists and reporters mix at two or three bars just blocks from the Capitol. And there are numerous receptions, campaign stops and caucuses where lawmakers, straight and gay alike, often have many opportunities for a hookup.

Up until just a few years ago, lawmakers would go "window shopping" for interns at the start of every legislative session. In a practice that went on for decades, the interns would be corraled in a Capitol newsstand so that legislators could pick their office help based on their looks, not their resumes.

The hanky-panky even has its own lexicon: There's the "Bear Mountain Compact," which says that what goes on north of the state park just outside New York City stays there. Lobbyists, staffers and reporters who seek to enhance their influence by bedding powerful lawmakers are known as "big game hunters." And the men who sleep with the women lawmakers are "boy toys."

That'll go a long way towards convincing the rest of the country that "those east coast libruls" aren't a bunch of sexual deviants.

By fnord12 | March 21, 2008, 9:31 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link

March 20, 2008

Things are looking ugly in Tibet


By fnord12 | March 20, 2008, 5:14 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

How is Rick Jones still alive?

Rick Jones, sidekick to the stars, has learned a lot from the heroes he's partnered with. From Captain America he learned his fighting techniques. From Captain Mar-vell he learned military tactics and information about all the star-faring races. From ROM he learned that even walking toasters can be awesome. But what did he learn from his first partner, the Incredible Hulk?

Answer: how to take a hit from a 3-ton monster and not get your neck snapped.

Look at this history of abuse:


Although to be fair, he did try to help Rick sometimes, too:

By fnord12 | March 20, 2008, 2:01 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Monkey Robot Army

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center implanted electrodes in a monkey's brain, then set it on a mini treadmill and got it walking. Signals from the electrodes were able to control a robot and cause it to walk.

"We can read signals from cortical areas...the motor and sensory areas of the brain that are involved in the generation of the motor program to walk," says Duke neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis. "And we are able to read these signals, decode them, and send them to a device...a bipedal robot that actually starts walking like a monkey."
The goal of Nicolelis and his colleagues is to pave the way for real-time direct interfaces between a brain and electronic and mechanical devices that could be used to restore sensory and motor functions lost through injury or disease. "Our hope is that one day soon," Nicolelis and his former postdoctoral fellow Sidarta Ribeiro wrote in a December 2006 Scientific American article entitled "Seeking the Neural Code," "we will also master sufficient syntax to talk back to the brain, which would allow us, for example, to build a human prosthetic arm laden with sensors to send tactile feedback into the somatosensory cortex of its user."

There's a YouTube video here. Although, for the most part, the commenters seem to be raving idiots, i, too, am curious as to just what was done to the monkey. They did say the electrodes were implanted in the monkey's brain, not just placed on the outside of her skull with some of the gel stuff. Does she now have tubes sticking out of her head? If she does, she would totally be within her rights to gain control of the robot and use it to reap her fiery revenge.

By min | March 20, 2008, 11:52 AM | Science | Comments (1) | Link


By fnord12 | March 20, 2008, 9:56 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

I Found That Essence Rare by Gang of Four

Aim for the body rare, you'll see it on TV
The worst thing in 1954 was the Bikini
See the girl on the TV dressed in a Bikini
She doesn't think so but she's dressed for the H-Bomb
(For the H-Bomb)
I found that essence rare, it's what I looked for
I knew I'd get what I asked for
Aim for the country fair you read it in the papers
The worst happens any week a scandal on the front page
See the happy pair smiling close like they are monkeys
They wouldn't think so but they're holding themselves down
(Hold themselves down)
I found that essence rare, it's what I looked for
I knew I'd get what I asked for
I found that essence rare, it's what I looked for
I knew I'd get what I asked for
Aim for politicians fair who'll treat your vote hope well
The last thing they'll ever do act in your interest
Look at the world through your polaroid glasses
Things'll look a whole lot better for the working classes
(Working classes)
I found that essence rare, it's what I looked for
I knew I'd get what I asked for
I found that essence rare, it's what I looked for
I knew I'd get what I asked for

By fnord12 | March 20, 2008, 9:02 AM | Music| Link

March 19, 2008

Oh my god, we're a third world country

You've seen this video a million times, but it usually takes place in Bangladesh or Zambia or somewhere not America.

By fnord12 | March 19, 2008, 10:08 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 18, 2008

Two semi-disturbing pictures from Marvel

These are both from the August 93 print date.

Picture #1:

Maybe i'm overly sensitive, but this poor lady doesn't look like she wants to be posing in a bikini. I have a feeling she was a moderately attractive woman working with a bunch of shut-in Marvel staff geeks on the Swimsuit Issue project (a disturbing idea in its own right), and they badgered her into doing this.

Picture #2:

The "joke" here seems to be that an underaged girl took her two younger brothers on a tour of the Marvel offices, and all the staff thought she was really hot. Is that something you'd want to admit to in print? Am i missing something?

By fnord12 | March 18, 2008, 2:18 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

That's Right! You Can't Top Jersey!

From TPM:

Sworn in today, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has admitted in an interview that during a rocky period in his marriage to his wife Michelle, between 1999 and 2001, he carried on an affair with another woman -- probably a wise admission given the circumstances surrounding his predecessor's political demise.

But I have to say that Paterson will have to do better than this thin gruel to make his mark on the landscape of tri-state governors. In fact, the competition seems to be escalating even in recent days.

In 2004, Jim McGreevey resigned as Governor of New Jersey after admitting to an affair with his dubiously qualified homeland security advisor, Golan Cipel, and coming out as a "gay American." Then last week former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) significantly upped the ante by admitting to being a habitual user of extremely high-priced prostitutes. But over the weekend, despite having left the political game, McGreevey engineered the revelation of the fact that, while still professedly heterosexual in the years just before winning the governorship, he and his wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, routinely engaged in threesomes with a young McGreevey staffer. Still more lurid, the trysts usually began with Friday night dinner at TGI Friday's.

This most recent news would seem to put McGreevey back firmly in the saddle in the regional gubernatorial shagstakes. And Patterson appears to realize he simply cannot compete.

By min | March 18, 2008, 12:12 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Drink Up!

I've always said if you knew the things i knew about where your water comes from and what criteria needs to be met to be considered "potable," you prolly would stop drinking. You might reconsider any activity that included water, actually.

Well, now there's something new that i didn't know about.

Pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilisers and sex hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41m Americans, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

The concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose, and water utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs -- and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen -- in so much of the nation's drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas -- from southern California to northern New Jersey, from Detroit, Michigan, to Louisville, Kentucky.

The pharmaceuticals enter the water because the bodies of people who take pills absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet.

The wastewater from your toilet, sink, shower, street gutters, etc ends up at a wastewater treatment plant where it's "cleaned". It then gets dumped out into some body of water and somewhere downstream of that, a water treatment plant pumps it in, "cleans" it some more and pipes it to your homes. As the article says, the processes used to treat this water does not remove the drug residue. And why should they? They weren't designed for that.

It does say that the utilities are insisting the water is safe to drink, but let me put that in perspective for you. These are the same people who took over 3 months to tell us they exceeded their E. Coli levels. Not to mention the fact that there are no standards set for pharmaceuticals. So, really, as far as they're concerned, they haven't exceeded "acceptable risk" levels yet in their effluent. They most likely weren't even testing for it. Every test costs money and the fewer you can do, the better.

And if they had been, knowing there's no limit set for it, it's likely they just let it go. I say this having worked for a consulting company that knew an area was contaminated by their client's product but had no plans to do anything about it because the government only expressed concern about another location - that location being uphill from a residential area. So, basically, don't ask, don't tell is the usual policy. Is this absolutely the case here? I don't know. I'm just saying it wouldn't surprise me. And it's only come out now because the AP had journalists who discovered it.

So, who's thirsty now? I bet you Brita people with your carbon filters feel pretty silly now, eh? It only really removed volatile organics anyway. You prolly could have achieved the same by shaking your water vigorously.

By min | March 18, 2008, 11:29 AM | Science | Comments (4) | Link

March 17, 2008

You Said It Would Never Happen

But you were totally Wong. Har har.
(Wow, i should be punished for that.)

By min | March 17, 2008, 4:29 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link

And guess which party is going to be left holding the bag?


What if this initiative fails? I'm sure that Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues are frantically considering other actions that they can take, but there's only so much the Fed - whose resources are limited, and whose mandate doesn't extend to rescuing the whole financial system - can do when faced with what looks increasingly like one of history's great financial crises.

The next steps will be up to the politicians.

I used to think that the major issues facing the next president would be how to get out of Iraq and what to do about health care. At this point, however, I suspect that the biggest problem for the next administration will be figuring out which parts of the financial system to bail out, how to pay the cleanup bills and how to explain what it's doing to an angry public.

The next president will be a Democrat, and he will spend the next 4-8 years cleaning up this mess that the Republicans have left him. He won't be able to initiate any major programs because all his time will be spent focusing on this financial disaster and the war in Iraq, and he will likely have to take some very unpopular actions like raising taxes and cutting benefit programs. This will ensure that in 4-8 years the Democrats will once again be very unpopular, just in time for a Republican to come in, claim credit for the recovery, and screw everything up again.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2008, 1:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

--The hell?

What's going on at MTV? They're airing these anti-police state commercials. Anyone know why? What is the context for this?

By fnord12 | March 17, 2008, 1:11 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Damn Straight, You Don't Get In The Bed With Dirty Feet

A Chinese bride burned her new husband to death after he got into bed after a drunken argument without washing his feet, state media reported on Wednesday.
"At about 10 p.m., Luo watched her husband get into bed without cleaning or washing his feet. In a fit of anger and intoxication, she set fire to the sheet he was sleeping in," the report said.

"When he awoke, the two began fighting before a very drunk Wang collapsed. As fire engulfed the bedroom. Luo escaped to the living room, leaving her other half to burn," it added.


I admit that burning him alive might have been a bit extreme, but he should have known better.

By min | March 17, 2008, 11:51 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Blue Room show

Thanks to our friends who came to see us at the Blue Room on Friday. We were worried that we wouldn't meet the 12 person "minimum" draw, but we actually exceeded it by quite a bit and it turned out we were the band with the biggest draw. It also seems that the minimum isn't such a big deal in any event as there were several groups there that didn't have that many "fans". Also thanks for sticking around as they had some scheduling problems and we didn't go on until midnight! Despite some sound issues, we seem to have went over well, and the organizer was very complimentary and wants to have us back at a more promising time slot.

Our next show is a Friends of Suzanne benefit concert on a saturday afternoon in a park. There's no draw requirements so we won't be badgering anyone but it looks like there'll be some good music and food and such, and it's for an organization that helps cancer patients, so come support us and them if you're free.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2008, 10:14 AM | Music | Comments (2) | Link

Modern capitalism: Privatize the profits, socialize the losses

Nouriel Roubini:

So the question is: if Bear Stearns screwed up big time - as it did - with huge leverage, reckless investments, lousy risk management and massive underestimation of liquidity risk why should the US taxpayer bail out this firm and its shareholders? First fully wipe out those shareholders, then fire all the senior management and have the government take over such a bankrupt institution before a penny of public money is wasted in bailing it out. Instead now the use of public money to bail out financial institutions is spreading from banking ones to non banking ones. The Fed should at least give a clear and public explanation of why such extremely exceptional - and almost never used - intervention was justified.

Unless public money is used on a very temporary basis to achieve an orderly wind-down or merger of Bear Stearns this is another case where profits are privatized and losses are socialized. By having thrown down the drain the decades old doctrine and rule that the Fed should not lend or bail out non-bank financial institutions the Fed has created an extremely dangerous precedent that seriously aggravates the moral hazard of its lender of last resort support role. If the Fed starts on the slippery slope of providing massive liquidity support to non-bank financial institutions that have recklessly managed their risks it enters into uncharted territory that radically changes its mandate and formal role. Breaking decades-old rules and practices is a radical action that seriously requires a clear public explanation and justification.

The finer distinctions are probably lost on me, but this doesn't seem too different than what we did in the 80s during the S&L Scandal (and we are still paying off the debt we created during that bailout). Seems the government is always there to bail out rich investors when their risky or stupid investments don't pan out.

By fnord12 | March 17, 2008, 9:05 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 15, 2008

SuperMegaSpeed Review Marathon Marathon Forever Quest

It's been a while since i've done my comic reviews here. I've got a very large stack, and we're going to go through it very quickly.

Iron Fist: Orson Randall & the Green Mist of Death #1 - When i say this is "like Sandman" i don't really mean that it's up to that level of quality, although it's quite good. I just mean that the writers are building this big mystical backstory. It's quite good.

Iron Man #29 - Basically an old school fight between Iron Man & the Mandarin, to the point where we even have IM in his old armor. It's done very very well, and there are really good character moments for Maria Hill and Dum Dum Dugan as well. And i'm really liking the art.

Logan #1 - Average and unnecessary, but it's Vaughn so i'll stick it out for the remaining two issues. There's no way that pregnancy can be good news, whatever comes of it.

Mighty Avengers #9 - Well, i was worried that the Doom story would be treated as a quick flash in the pan story like the Venom arc was but A) It's not and B) it turns out that the Venom arc and the Doom arc are actually tied together, which is really nice. I like the angle that Doom was not actually responsible for the attack (although suggesting that Doom's equipment wouldn't have security measures in place to prevent such an accident could be dangerous!). The Morgan Le Fey/Doom stuff in the beginning was really good, too. But - and i know we're running late and trying to catch up - 3 two-page panels of the avengers fighting a bunch of robots is just ridiculous.

Order #8 - It's not bad now that i'm thinking of it as a mini-series.

Punisher War Journal #17 - Wow, Sunset Bain. Cool. Stuart Clarke is a nut and i enjoyed the focus on him. Chaykin's art wasn't bad.

Captain America #35 - Brubaker on Cap 4Ever!

ClanDestine #2 - Ye gods, not the Cross-Time Caper! I'll be honest, while i don't really care where this story is going, i enjoy letting Alan Davis take us there. He's really good at what he does. I think i need to fill in my Excalibur collection.

Daredevil #105 - Is there any horrible thing we haven't done to Matt Murdock yet?

Incredible Hercules #114 - apparently this is really a Hercules book now permanently? You know, i'm OK with that. Because Hercules is more mainstream than the Hulk, because he was an Avengers longer, and all i care about is how mainstream things are.

Runaways #29 - Who are these people?

She-Hulk #26 - I'm starting to think that getting this book was a mistake.

Thunderbolts: International Incident #1 - Very good for a fill in. My geeky question is where does this Arnim Zola appearance fit in with his regular appearances in Captain America? Also, get Gage on a regular book! Preferably something mainstream.

Damage Control #2 - Honestly, i haven't liked the previous Damage Control minis very much because they've been too silly and the art has been overly exaggerated comedic art. This series avoids all of that and it turns out to be a good story that also has some satirical elements. We need to woo McDuffie back to Marvel.

X-Force #2 - Magus. Awesome. People mocked me for wanting to get this X-Force book, but it's been really good, in my opinion. Nimrod! Magus! And a good black ops story. I have no problem with the art, it's a little stiff, but the storytelling is still good and the pictures look good.


Nextwave (1st two trades) - Reading it as a non-continuity satire, it's pretty good. Some great moments and pretty good overall. Robot brains that need beer, Elvis-MODOKs, Fing Fang Foom put you in his pants!, misogynist Captain America - all very funny. I don't necessarily see it as Ellis hating super-heroes so much as wanting to write a big dumb action movie and also poke a little fun at super-hero conventions. But there's too many continuity errors and deliberate mischaracterizations to consider this as part of the MU.

Thunderbolts (1st trade) - This was really good. The characterization of Osborne was awesome. Ellis' depiction of Screaming Mimi as a real field leader was great. Bullseye was appropriately dangerous. And the characterization of the lesser-know unregistered heroes in the story was great too. I still don't like that Venom is actually the Scorpion. It just seems stupid to me, and every time i see Venom i can't help think "Yeah, but that's not the real Venom", although Ellis does a good job with him as well. Deodato's art is great, too. It's funny how Deodato was basically a joke for a while but has really restored his reputation. I thought the fact that they included all the weird one-shots in the back was kind of annoying, especially since the one written by Jenkins actually wasn't terrible, and i would have preferred if they had stuck it where it belonged in the story.

Welcome to Tranquility (1st trade) - Not great. We need to woo Gail Simone back to Marvel so she can write Runaways.

Pride of Baghdad - Enjoyable, but i'm glad i didn't spend a lot of money to buy the hardcover version. Vaughan is a good writer and i'm glad he is able to do little stories like this. Nice art, too.


Annihilation: Conquest #5 - Nice to see the tie-in with Ultron's recent appearance in Mighty. I was afraid they were just going to say that it was two separate iterations of Ultron with no connection. And i still love Star-Lord's misfit team. This has been a cool mini.

Nova #11 - Yes! This is what i've been telling them to do all along! Awesome! It's interesting that we've got Magus in X-Force and Warlock here. It'd be really odd if it were just a coincidence.

Avengers: The Initiative #10 - Why did this feel like I was missing a New Warriors crossover issue? I'm enjoying this, but i think we need to hurry up now and move past this KIA plot. Taskmaster and Ant-Man bonding was funny.

Fantastic Four #555 - Nice that they are using Claremont's Alissa Moy character instead of adding more bloat to Reed's backstory. The Reed/Moy relationship is being developed very nicely.

Mighty Avengers #10 - i enjoyed the "70s era comic" gimmick. I really like Doom here, and i enjoyed the captions showing the undercurrent war between Doom and Iron Man's armor systems. Using the Sentry and the idea that everyone would forget all his actions as a way to solve their dilemma was a really clever move by Bendis. Doom showing respect to Mastermind was cool.

Last Defenders #1 - well, this wasn't very good at all. The characterization was stiff and dry and the story wasn't very interesting. The Blazing Skull character is just annoying.

Still to read: Powers, Sub-Mariner, Omac.

Overall, it was a very impressive pile of comic books. I like comic books.

By fnord12 | March 15, 2008, 3:05 PM | Comics| Link

March 13, 2008

Have you ever thought of becoming a police officer Strom Thurmann?

I get the weirdest spam. Why do they think i'm Strom Thurmann? And once again, it's from the year 2038. Can you imagine some sort of dystopian future where all the police officers are Strom Thurmann clones dressed like Judge Dredd?

I knew you could.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2008, 11:02 AM | My stupid life | Comments (7) | Link

Score one for the Commies

There's been a lot of debate lately on whether Nazis or Commies made better comic book villians, and the consensus has generally been falling on the side of the Nazis. But did the Nazis ever have super-gorilla soldiers?!?*

*Probably, but the Commies had them too, dammit.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2008, 10:48 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Nutopia by Meg Lee Chin

I saw the best minds of my generation running on empty, superglued to the T.V.,
Dreaming of prosperity, talking incessantly, saying nothing.
Sleeping on platforms at train stations, sipping chemical cocktails,
Alive to the Universe, dead to the World.
Hallucinating delusions of media reality in Camden Town, desperate in the pursuit of cool
He's in a suit, she's in a straight jacket, 7-11 nightmares at 3am and the moon is quiet and holy.

Watch all the bridges collide,
Well I think we might have to lay low, for a while

I saw the best minds of my generation caught up in the virtual reality of living
Memorizing pin numbers and secret codes,
Swaying robotically to non-existant rhythms,
Flashing memberships to clubs so exclusive nobody belongs.

Jesus said " Lay down your arms". Jesus said "Children come home".

Scared shitless, witless, clueless, useless, tightlipped, tightfisted,tightassed, half-assed, sniveling, groveling, moaning, groaning.

The city's all wrapped up in plastic like an electronic cocoon.
If you lay in the street you can hear it humming, building up slowly from underground.
If you close your eyes you can observe the blueprint; the man-made dna that spirals breathlessly out of control,
As synapses collapse, bridges snap, into a restless utopia.


By fnord12 | March 13, 2008, 8:55 AM | Music | Comments (2) | Link

March 12, 2008

No surprise

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 6:33 PM | My stupid life & Video Games | Comments (3) | Link

Man, not only is David Mack slow

...but apparently he's also a hack.

A good hack, mind you.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 4:28 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Someone's lying to me.

There's Phoenix again.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 4:24 PM | Comics| Link

Sinbad crosses the threshold

Only one man has the experience it takes to become commander-in-chief.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 3:55 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Pesky continuity again.

Is this (scroll down to "Proof That Cyclops Is A Skrull, or That Ed Brubaker Is Lazy") continuity getting in the way of telling a good story? Is it continuity preventing comics from being accessible to new readers? Or is it just a failure to check your references?

P.S. I'm currently reading Nextwave and there's no way it can be canon. It's got to be read as an out-of-continuity satire book (in which case it's pretty good).

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 3:27 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link


Dean Baker:

The workings of the Fed and the financial markets can appear complicated, so let's simplify matters a bit to make it more clear what is going on here. Suppose that it was suddenly discovered that much of the wealth held by the country's leading financial institutions was in fact counterfeit. Instead of having hundreds of billions of dollars of real currency in their vaults, institutions like Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Bears Stearns actually had hundreds of billions of dollars of counterfeit currency. Suppose further that the public did not know exactly who held what in terms of counterfeit currency, only that all of them had a lot of it. (The point here is that these banks hold mortgage backed securities, many of which are only worth a fraction of their face value, and therefore can be viewed as the equivalent of counterfeit currency.)

In such circumstances, investors would be very reluctant to accept the credit of any of the major financial institutions. They couldn't know whether most of their assets were in fact counterfeit, and they were dealing with a bankrupt institution, or whether the counterfeit currency was only a limited share of the wealth, which would not jeopardize the institution's ability to meet its obligations.

This is in fact the credit squeeze that we've have recently witnessed. The spread between the interest rates on a wide variety of assets and the interest rate on safe assets (U.S. government debt) has soared. As a result, the Fed's effort to stimulate the economy, by lowering the federal funds rate, has been largely unsuccessful because other interest rates have remained high.

In response to this situation the Fed today announced that it would lend $200 billion to banks and other financial firms, accepting mortgage backed securities as collateral. This is effectively the same as saying that the Fed is going to lend money to banks and accept the counterfeit currency as collateral, treating it just as though it were real money.

The intended effect of this policy is to convince other investors that the counterfeit currency is in fact real currency, or at the very least that there is a really huge sucker out there (the Fed) which is prepared to treat the counterfeit currency as real currency.

So how does this story play out? Well, insofar as the Fed is successful, the counterfeit currency retains its value for a while longer. This allows Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Bears Stearns and the rest of the big boys more time to dump their counterfeit currency on suckers who haven't figured out how the game is played.

It is possible that they won't be able to find enough suckers, in which case these banks will end up defaulting on their loans and the Fed (i.e. the government ) has lost tens or hundreds of billions dollars paying good money for counterfeit currency. Alternatively, perhaps the big boys are successful and can offload enough of their counterfeit money to restore themselves to solvency before the music stops. Then the Fed is repaid, but the counterfeit money now sits in the hands of other, less informed, or less inside, investors.

Either way, this is a policy of dubious merit. Why wouldn't we want the banks to be forced to come clean and eat their losses? This is always the policy that the economists advocate when the parties in question are not the big New York banks. Does anyone remember the East Asian financial crisis when the media was full of condemnations of crony capitalism and the IMF insisted imposed stringent conditions on South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia as a condition of getting bailed out? At that time, everyone insisted on transparency. Aren't there any economists who still have this perspective? If so, why aren't their views appearing anywhere in the news?

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 2:42 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Holy crap!


After Philadelphia's housing director refused a demand by President Bush's housing secretary to transfer a piece of city property to a business friend, two top political appointees at the department exchanged e-mails discussing the pain they could cause the Philadelphia director.

"Would you like me to make his life less happy? If so, how?" Orlando J. Cabrera, then-assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote about Philadelphia housing director Carl R. Greene.

"Take away all of his Federal dollars?" responded Kim Kendrick, an assistant secretary who oversaw accessible housing. She typed symbols for a smiley-face, ":-D," at the end of her January 2007 note.

Cabrera wrote back a few minutes later: "Let me look into that possibility."

The e-mails, obtained by The Washington Post, came to light as a result of a lawsuit provoked by HUD's decision last September to strip the Philadelphia Housing Authority of as much as $50 million in federal funds. In December, it declared the agency in violation of rules that underpin its ability to decide precisely how it will spend federal housing funds. Kendrick was the official who formally notified the authority that she had found it in violation.

But Eliot Spitzer slept with prostitutes! Naughty!

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Gary Gygax a Hack?

nsxt290 sent me this link today.

Gary Gygax wasn't a visionary to all of us. The real geeks out there--my homies--know the awkward truth: When you cut through the nostalgia, Dungeons & Dragons isn't a good role-playing game; in fact, it's one of the worst on the market. Sadly, Gygax's creation defines our strange corner of the entertainment world and drowns out all the more innovative and sophisticated games that have made D&D obsolete for decades. (As a game designer, Gygax is far outclassed by contemporaries such as Steve Jackson and Greg Stafford.) It's the reason that tabletop gaming is not only stuck in the pop culture gutter but considered pathetic even by the standards of mouth-breathing Star Trek conventioneers. And with the entire industry continuing to collapse in the face of online gaming, this might be the last chance to see Gygax for what he was--an unrepentant hack, more Michael Bay than Ingmar Bergman.

What's wrong with Dungeons & Dragons? It plays like a video game. A good role-playing game provides the framework for a unique kind of narrative, a collaborative thought experiment crossed with improvisational theater. But D&D, particularly the first edition that Gygax co-wrote in 1975, makes this sort of creative play an afterthought. The problem is most apparent in one of Gygax's central (and celebrated) innovations: "experience points." To become a more powerful wizard, a sneakier thief, or an elfier elf (being an elf was its own profession in early editions, which is kind of like saying being Chinese is a full-time job), you need to gain "levels," which requires experience points. And the best way to get experience points is to kill stuff. Every monster, from an ankle-biting goblin to a massive fire-spewing dragon, has a specific number of points associated with it--your reward for hacking it to pieces. So while it's one player's job--the so-called Dungeon Master--to come up with the plot for each gaming session and play the parts of the various enemies and supporting characters, in practice that putative storyteller merely referees one imagined slaughter after another.


There is a way to wring real creativity, and possibly even artistic merit, from this bizarre medium--and it has nothing to do with Gygax and his tradition of sociopathic storytelling. In the mid-1980s, right around the time that Gygax was selling off his company, Steve Jackson began publishing the Generic Universal Roleplaying System, or GURPS.

I have a hard time taking the word of anyone who uses the term "my homies" in such a context. His sneering contempt for Star Trek convention attendees coupled with the claim that he is a "real" geek (presumably unlike D&D lovers and Gygax fans) doesn't sit well with me either.

Having never played a GURPS, i can't comment on the accuracy of his claims. I do know that when we play D&D, we get awarded based on how well we play our character and killing monsters is only 1 aspect of the game. Every character has a backstory. Otherwise how the hell do you explain all of them getting together? And there have been several times where we've almost died because we were too stupid to figure out the puzzle and tried to win the fight by killing everything (monster-generating skull, anyone?)

So, did this guy just have really crappy DMs all his life or is fnord just that good*?

*This does not in anyway mean our DM is not a jerk.

By min | March 12, 2008, 1:02 PM | D&D | Comments (8) | Link

Gaming the system


A staggering 16,000-plus Republicans in Cuyahoga County switched parties when they voted in last week's primary.

That includes 931 in Rocky River, 1,027 in Westlake and 1,142 in Strongsville. More than a third of the Republicans in Solon and Bay Village switched. Pepper Pike had the most dramatic change: just under half its Republicans became Democrats. And some of those who changed - it's difficult to say how many - could be in trouble with the law.

At least one member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections wants to investigate some Republicans who may have crossed party lines only to influence which Democrat would face presumed Republican nominee John McCain in November . . . .

In a nutshell, here's how it's supposed to work: Ohio voters are allowed to switch party affiliations on the day of a primary election but only if they sign a pledge vowing to support their new party - and mean it.

In the days following the election, The Plain Dealer interviewed more than two dozen voters - most of them Republicans who crossed over to Democrats last week.

None - including five who acknowledged lying about supporting the Democrats - were challenged. And several said poll workers never asked them to sign a pledge but gave them a Democratic ticket . . . .

It started a few weeks ago when conservative radio powerhouse Rush Limbaugh suggested that his Republican following cross over during the primary to vote for Clinton. Clinton, Limbaugh argued, would be easier for McCain to beat in November than Obama.

In Cuyahoga County, dozens and dozens of Republicans scribbled addendums onto their pledges as new Democrats:

"For one day only."

"I don't believe in abortion."

A Plain Dealer review of thousands of records showed few of those who switched were challenged by poll workers.


I suspect partisans on either side will draw different interpretations from it. But here's another interesting tidbit out of the Mississippi exit poll. The conventional wisdom and to a significant degree the reality in many other states has been that Barack Obama has picked up the lion's share of Republican crossover voters. Not in Mississippi. According to MSNBC's exit numbers, Republicans made up either 12% or 13% of the voters in tonight's primary. And they went for Hillary Clinton by a decisive 3 to 1 margin.

Big difference between Mississippi and Ohio, of course. In Mississippi it was an open primary. In Ohio, it was illegal. But either way you have to wonder if you're a viable contender for the general if your opposition is helping you along in the primaries.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2008, 10:56 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 11, 2008

Marvel Sales

January. Late due to an initial problem with the reported numbers.

By fnord12 | March 11, 2008, 3:02 PM | Comics| Link

Geek Flow Chart

There are many inaccuracies with this flow chart, one of which being "fantasy baseball" presence on the chart at all.

At least they remembered the Mountain Dew.

H/T to starfaith for sending me the link.

By min | March 11, 2008, 1:35 PM | D&D & Star Wars & Video Games | Comments (1) | Link

World's Smallest Car

It starts rolling before he's even turned it on. Ha!

By min | March 11, 2008, 10:17 AM | Science | Comments (2) | Link

Stump the Chump

McCain interview:

Q: "What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush's policy, which is just abstinence?"

McCain: (Long pause) "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy."

Q: "So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?"

McCain: (Long pause) "You've stumped me."

By fnord12 | March 11, 2008, 10:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

March 10, 2008

Not very reassuring.

Paul Krugman:

And here's the thing: I don' think it's just me, the actions [the Fed is considering in reaction to the financial market meltdown] sound trivial compared with the problem. He more or less admits that credit markets are worsening faster than the Fed can cut rates, so that money is effectively getting more expensive, not cheaper; the other measures he describes sound minor. Rearranging deck chairs -- that may be too strong, but it's pretty unreassuring.

So what should be done? I'm not sure (and I'm thinking about it, hard.) For now, I'd just say that this is really, really scary.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2008, 3:34 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

I'm not alone anymore

Look at all these people who hate using the telephone (see comments).

By fnord12 | March 10, 2008, 3:10 PM | My stupid life| Link

Loose Centerfolds

Progressive Ruin:

I mentioned on Thursday that nearly all our copies of last Wednesday's Cable #1 had loose centerfolds. I've since heard from a couple other stores that they had bunk copies of Cable #1 as well...along with some other Marvel books from that week. And I've noticed a copy or two of the new Clan Destine is a bit iffy as well.

As long as it was just the one comic with a loose centerfold problem, there was a chance that maybe, just maybe, Marvel might produce replacements. But if it's more widespread than that, the likelihood that Marvel would essentially reissue a week's worth of new books is incredibly small. Maybe I'll be surprised, but I'm not betting on it.

I know, this isn't what you wanted out of a post entitled "loose centerfolds" but my copy of Clan Destine was "iffy", and it's interesting to see that it wasn't just the usual "gorillas handle my comics before they get to me" situation.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2008, 10:24 AM | Comics| Link

Really Terrible Orchestra

This is very punk rock*.


Some years ago, a group of frustrated people in Scotland decided that the pleasure of playing in an orchestra should not be limited to those who are good enough to do so, but should be available to the rankest of amateurs. So we founded the Really Terrible Orchestra, an inclusive orchestra for those who really want to play, but who cannot do so very well. Or cannot do so at all, in some cases.

My own playing set the standard. I play the bassoon, even if not quite the whole bassoon. I have never quite mastered C-sharp, and I am weak on the notes above the high D. In general, I leave these out if they crop up, and I find that the effect is not unpleasant. I am not entirely untutored, of course, having had a course of lessons in the instrument from a music student who looked quietly appalled while I played. Most of the players in the orchestra are rather like this; they have learned their instruments at some point in their lives, but have not learned them very well. Now such people have their second chance with the Really Terrible Orchestra.

Some of the members were very marginal musicians, indeed. One of the clarinet players, now retired from the orchestra for a period of re-evaluation, stopped at the middle B-flat, before the instrument's natural break. He could go no higher, which was awkward, as that left him very few notes down below. Another, a cellist, was unfortunately very hard of hearing and was also hazy on the tuning of the strings. As an aide-mémoire, he had very sensibly written the names of the notes in pencil on the bridge. This did not appear to help.

*In the old-school, before-punk-became-a-genre, sense.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2008, 9:45 AM | Music| Link

Are you really that acquiescent in the United States?

Glenn Greenwald:

CARLSON: Right. But I mean, since journalistic standards in Great Britain are so much dramatically lower than they are here, it's a little much being lectured on journalistic ethics by a reporter from the "Scotsman," but I wonder if you could just explain what you think the effect is on the relationship between the press and the powerful. People don't talk to you when you go out of your way to hurt them as you did in this piece.

Don't you think that hurts the rest of us in our effort to get to the truth from the principals in these campaigns?

Credit to Tucker Carlson for being so (unintentionally) candid about the lowly, subservient role of the American press with regard to "the relationship between the press and the powerful." A journalist should never do anything that "hurts" the powerful, otherwise the powerful won't give access to the press any longer. Presumably, the press should only do things that please the powerful so that the powerful keep talking to the press, so that the press in turn can keep pleasing the powerful, in an endless, symbiotic, mutually beneficial cycle. Rarely does someone who plays the role of a "journalist" on TV so candidly describe their real function.

For anyone who wants to dismiss Carlson as some buffoon who is unrepresentative of journalists generally, I would refer them to the testimony at the Lewis Libby trial of the mighty, revered Tim Russert, Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News:

When I talk to senior government officials on the phone, it's my own policy -- our conversations are confidential. If I want to use anything from that conversation, then I will ask permission.

Update: Tucker cancelled.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2008, 9:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

March 7, 2008

On the Air

While at the NJProghouse show, we met a guy named Bill Fox who DJs for Muhlenberg College Radio in Allentown, PA. Not ones to pass up an opportunity, we sent him an EP soon after the show.

He posts his playlists online once a week.

Well, guess what?

Perhaps this should be added as another appropriate moment for a fist pound.

By min | March 7, 2008, 3:01 PM | Music | Comments (1) | Link

March 6, 2008

Random Lyrics Thursday

Land by the Patti Smith Group

The boy was in the hallway drinking a glass of tea
From the other end of the hallway a rhythm was generating
Another boy was sliding up the hallway
He merged perfectly with the hallway,
He merged perfectly, the mirror in the hallway

The boy looked at Johnny, Johnny wanted to run,
but the movie kept moving as planned
The boy took Johnny, he pushed him against the locker,
He drove it in, he drove it home, he drove it deep in Johnny
The boy disappeared, Johnny fell on his knees,
started crashing his head against the locker,
started crashing his head against the locker,
started laughing hysterically

When suddenly Johnny gets the feeling he's being surrounded by
horses, horses, horses, horses
coming in in all directions
white shining silver studs with their nose in flames,
He saw horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses, horses.
Do you know how to pony like bony maroney
Do you know how to twist, well it goes like this, it goes like this
Baby mash potato, do the alligator, do the alligator
And you twist the twister like your baby sister
I want your baby sister, give me your baby sister, dig your baby sister
Rise up on her knees, do the sweet pea, do the sweet pee pee,
Roll down on her back, got to lose control, got to lose control,
Got to lose control and then you take control,
Then you're rolled down on your back and you like it like that,
Like it like that, like it like that, like it like that,
Then you do the watusi, yeah do the watusi
Life is filled with holes, Johnny's laying there, his sperm coffin
Angel looks down at him and says, “Oh, pretty boy,
Can't you show me nothing but surrender ?”
Johnny gets up, takes off his leather jacket,
Taped to his chest there's the answer,
You got pen knives and jack knives and
Switchblades preferred, switchblades preferred
Then he cries, then he screams, saying
Life is full of pain, I'm cruisin' through my brain
And I fill my nose with snow and go Rimbaud,
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud,
And go Johnny go, and do the watusi, oh do the watusi

There's a little place, a place called space
It's a pretty little place, it's across the tracks,
Across the tracks and the name of the place is you like it like that,
You like it like that, you like it like that, you like it like that,
And the name of the band is the
Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes,
Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes, Twistelettes

Baby calm down, better calm down,
In the night, in the eye of the forest
There's a mare black and shining with yellow hair,
I put my fingers through her silken hair and found a stair,
I didn't waste time, I just walked right up and saw that
up there -- there is a sea
up there -- there is a sea
up there -- there is a sea
the sea's the possibility
There is no land but the land

(up there is just a sea of possibilities)
There is no sea but the sea

(up there is a wall of possibilities)
There is no keeper but the key

(up there there are several walls of possibilities)
Except for one who seizes possibilities, one who seizes possibilities.

(up there)
I seize the first possibility, is the sea around me
I was standing there with my legs spread like a sailor

(in a sea of possibilities) I felt his hand on my knee

(on the screen)
And I looked at Johnny and handed him a branch of cold flame

(in the heart of man)
The waves were coming in like Arabian stallions
Gradually lapping into sea horses
He picked up the blade and he pressed it against his smooth throat

(the spoon)
And let it deep in

(the veins)
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities
It started hardening
Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities
It started hardening in my hand
And I felt the arrows of desire

I put my hand inside his cranium, oh we had such a brainiac-amour
But no more, no more, I gotta move from my mind to the area

(go Rimbaud go Rimbaud go Rimbaud)
And go Johnny go and do the watusi,
Yeah do the watusi, do the watusi ...
Shined open coiled snakes white and shiny twirling and encircling
Our lives are now entwined, we will fall yes we're together twining
Your nerves, your mane of the black shining horse
And my fingers all entwined through the air,
I could feel it, it was the hair going through my fingers,

(I feel it I feel it I feel it I feel it)
The hairs were like wires going through my body
I I that's how I
that's how I
I died

(at that Tower of Babel they knew what they were after)

(they knew what they were after)
[Everything on the current] moved up
I tried to stop it, but it was too warm, too unbelievably smooth,
Like playing in the sea, in the sea of possibility, the possibility
Was a blade, a shiny blade, I hold the key to the sea of possibilities
There's no land but the land

looked at my hands, and there's a red stream
that went streaming through the sands like fingers,
like arteries, like fingers

(how much fits between the eyes of a horse?)
He lay, pressing it against his throat (your eyes)
He opened his throat (your eyes)
His vocal chords started shooting like (of a horse) mad pituitary glands
The scream he made (and my heart) was so high (my heart) pitched that nobody heard,
No one heard that cry,
No one heard (Johnny) the butterfly flapping in his throat,

(His fingers)
Nobody heard, he was on that bed, it was like a sea of jelly,
And so he seized the first

(his vocal chords shot up)


(like mad pituitary glands)
It was a black tube, he felt himself disintegrate

(there is nothing happening at all)
and go inside the black tube, so when he looked out into the steep
saw this sweet young thing (Fender one)
Humping on the parking meter, leaning on the parking meter

In the sheets
there was a man
dancing around
to the simple
Rock & roll

By fnord12 | March 6, 2008, 9:04 AM | Music | Comments (4) | Link

March 5, 2008

Who You Gonna Call?

Prolly not these guys.

Something strange going on in your neighborhood? You may want to give Brooklyn Ghost Investigations a call. For $20 an hour, the group of self-proclaimed paranormal investigators offers to go to your house to help chase away whatever goes bump in the night.
The group, which claims to have honed its spooky craft by watching such TV shows as "Ghost Hunters" and "Paranormal State," has one client: a man who said he saw two apparitions in his apartment.

Cicconi and another member of the group, Sergio Ocasio, 20, went to the man's house and waited until 3 a.m. to catch a glimpse of the ghosts.

"I caught something on tape," Cicconi said. "It looked like two lights moving around, like the spirits were playing with each other."

He said they used a homemade Ouija board - often used in seances to supposedly talk to the dead (or undead) - to coax the bogeymen to leave. But it didn't work.

"Sometimes, spirits are afraid to talk or to show themselves to us," Cicconi explained.

Not that i don't believe in ghosts. I'm chinese. Ofc i believe in ghosts. We are a superstitious lot. But these guys sound pretty lame. Dancing lights? pfft. I certainly wouldn't trust them to help me with a tree spirit that sucked out my life essence with its hideously long tongue. And yes, trees in china have tongues. Obliviously. Duh.

By min | March 5, 2008, 1:58 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

My Mom Was Right

She always suspected the people writing the bible were smoking doobies.

High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.


Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

Thinking always ruins religion. Why can't people just accept God did it and leave it at that?

By min | March 5, 2008, 1:51 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

I'm Back

And you all get to pay for it. Oddly Enoughs time!!!

No, I'm from Obama!

Hundreds of residents in the sleepy Japanese fishing port of Obama sang and danced on Wednesday to try to cheer up Barack Obama after his winning steak in the U.S. presidential primaries stalled.
Around the town, businesses are selling everything from T-shirts, fish burgers and cakes to chopsticks with Obama's name.

Residents anxiously watched television showing victories for Hillary Clinton among Democrat Party voters in Ohio and Texas, where losses could have forced her out of the White House race.

By min | March 5, 2008, 1:46 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link


A little known power of Iceman's:

(From X-Men #6, Jul 64)

By fnord12 | March 5, 2008, 11:21 AM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

March 4, 2008

NBC's Irish Conspiracy

Bob Somerby has been hinting at this for years, but this is the first time he's come out and said it. And, looking at the list of people, it sure seems like he has a point (scroll down to Klein's Gaffe).

By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 3:51 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Evil scientist brain drain

It seems the kids today don't want to build bombs anymore. It's a real shame.

By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 3:47 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Gary Gygax

Died today at the age of 69.

Despite his declining health, he hosted weekly games of Dungeons & Dragons as recently as January, she said.

I'd like to think he's rolling up a new character as we speak.

By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 3:01 PM | D&D | Comments (7) | Link

Recruitment Strategies

If a pitch like this works for a two-bit villain like the Vanisher, imagine how well it'd work for a real super-villain like min.

(From X-Men #2, Nov 63)

By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 3:01 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

No ordinary rabbit

Norrin Radd encounters the evil bunny doctor in Silver Surfer #7 (Aug 69)

By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 10:39 AM | Comics| Link

Sleestack in a haystack


By fnord12 | March 4, 2008, 8:52 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

March 3, 2008

We're back

And hopefully faster!

By fnord12 | March 3, 2008, 6:24 PM | My stupid life| Link

Spreading Democracy in the Middle East

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war.

Link (8 page article).

By fnord12 | March 3, 2008, 2:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Lead Singer Syndrome at the Blue Room

We'll be playing our second gig at the Blue Room in Secaucus on Friday, 3/14. This is a place that cuts your stage time if you have less than 12 'fans' show up, so we can use your support! C'mon out and enjoy your favorite instrumental rock band (that's us, people!) along with an assortment of what usually turn out to be surprisingly good groups. They have a full bar and serve food, too.

By fnord12 | March 3, 2008, 10:08 AM | Music | Comments (4) | Link

March 2, 2008

The situation so far

Seeking something called the 'essence of frost' and forwarned to use "stealth, cunning, or diplomacy" instead of a frontal assualt, the party travelled to the Plane of Frost. There they met a group of Frost Giants who revealed that they were allies of the evil wizard Mangar. The Giants imprisoned the party, thinking they were agents of the "Ice Queen Gloiterwome". Under threat of having their heads torn off, the party bribed its way out of imprisonment. The centerpiece of the bribe was a gem artificially (and temporarily!) increased in size by an Enlarge spell. Semi-convinced that the party was not allied with Gloiterwome, they sent them to her lair.

Arriving at the lair, the party discovered that Gloiterwome was in fact a huge white dragon. Sent to scout out her cave, Flerm was detected. The dragon allowed the Drow elf to live only because he demonstrated a very low intelligence, leading the dragon to deduce that he was but a henchmen. She demanded that Flerm return with his master. Flerm brought Snow back into the cave, and the two entered parlay. The dragon revealed that it was from a clan of dragons that allied itself with the evil Flying Monkey monks in the ancient wars against Snow's Drunken Butterfly clan. Seeing Josy, it also indicated that it used to eat hobbits, and implied that it knew more about Vain that the party did. Gloiterwome also said that it hated the Frost Giants because they killed her babies and were immune to her frost breath. Intimidated by its presence, Snow agreed to bring Gloiterwome the head of the Frost Giant clan in return for the Essence of Frost.

However, upon leaving the cave, Snow's sense of morality began to nag at her. She felt it was immoral for her to attack the Frost Giants in cold blood. She returned to the dragon's cave but the dragon refused to renegotiate the deal.

Thus the party was faced with both a moral and physical dilemma. Was it right to attack either the Giants or the Dragon without having been provoked? And if so, could the party survive a fight with a giant dragon or a group of 30 Frost Giants and their pets, especially in light of the warning to not engage in a frontal assault?

By fnord12 | March 2, 2008, 8:44 PM | D&D | Comments (56) | Link

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