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October 31, 2008

New Jersey 2008 - Public Questions To Be Voted Upon

Thoughts and recommendations on the ballot initiatives in the New Jersey 2008 election (initiatives are only available in PDF online, so i apologize for any typos due to my manual keying):

#1 Voters to approve authority bonds payable from state appropriations

Do you approve the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which provides that, after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution, a law enacted thereafter that authorizes State debt created through the sale of bonds by any autonomous public corporate entity, established either as an instrumentality of the State or otherwise exercising public and essential government functions, such as an independent State authority, which debt or liability has a pledge of an annual appropriation as the ways and means to pay the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due and pay and discharge the principal of such debt, will be subject to voter approval, unless the payment of the debt is made subject to appropriations of an independent non-State source of revenue paid by third persons for the use of the object or work bonded for, or are from a source of State revenue otherwise required to be appropriated pursuant to another provision of the Constitution?

Ballot's Interpretive Statement
This amendment to the State Constitution will require voter approval of new laws that allow the State to borrow money by issuing bonds through any State agency or independent authority backed by a pledge of an annual appropriation to pay the principal and interest on the bonds. New laws to allow the issuance of these State authority bonds for State government purposes will be subject to voter approval. State courts have ruled that the State constitutional requirement tha the Legislature and Governor must seek voter approval for bonded debt does not apply to such borrowing. That requirement is followed only for proposed State bonds that contain a binding, non-repealable pledge to pay off the bonds directly with State taxes. Most State authority bonds can be issued without voter approval because the payment of the bonds is backed only by a promise of the Legislature and Governor that they will enact appropriations in the future to meet the bond payments. The courts have said this is a legal means of avoiding submitting the issuance of debt for voter approval. Laws to permit such debt that are enacted after this amendement becomes part of the Constitution will have to authorize voter referenda for approval of such debts. Exceptions to voter approval for authority bonds will be permitted if the bonds are to be paid off from 1) a source of revenue dedicated by the State Constitution, which only the voters can establish, or 2) an independent non-State governement source of payments for use of projects built or obtained with the borrowed money, such as highway tolls or user fees.

Fnord's oversimplified interpretation: Should the state legislature have to put it to a public referendum every time they want to raise money through bonds (i.e., go into debt)? This seems to be an attempt to plug up a loophole that is allowing the government to continue issuing certain types of bonds after a previous amendment (or possibly an original clause in the Constitution) to force all borrowing to be voted on by referendum.

Pros:Generally speaking, referendums are more democratic, because they allow voters to directly impact government policies. Also, this would potentially raise awareness of what the government is doing, which is good. Potentially corrects a 'loophole' in the original law.

Cons:Special elections are a costly unnecessary expense. Single issue elections like this do not have high participation and are especially vulnerable to interest groups, like Norquist's Club for Growth. This initiative would make it substantially more difficult for the government to raise funds and deficit spend. Deficit spending is especially useful during a recession. Not having that ability would reduce the government's ability to combat recessions.

Recommendation: Vote No.

#2 Provides that method of selection and appointment of certain municipal court judges be set by statute rather than by the constitution.

Shall the amendment to Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, agreed to by the Legislature, providing that judges of inferior courtswith jurisdiction extending into more than one municipality be appointed as provided in law rather than as provided in the Constitution which requires nomination by Governor and appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate, be approved?

Ballot's Interpretive Statement
This constitutional amendment would provide that the method of selection and appointment of certain municipal court judges would be set by statute, rather than be provided for in the Constitution. These judges may include judges of joint municipal courts and judges of central municipal courts with jurisdiction extending to the territorial boundaries of a county. This constitutional amendment does not preclude the possibility that a statute would continue to provide for nomination by the Governor with the advise and consent of the Senate, but it does permit a statute to set forth another method of selection and appointment that may not involve the Governor and the Senate.

Fnord's oversimplified interpretation: Changes the process for nominating certain types of judges, taking away the power from the Governor and giving it to the Legislature. I don't know the impetus of this initiative and i couldn't find any additional information on the web.

Pros: Presumably allows the Legislature to correct for a perceived problem with the way municipal judges are appointed when their jurisdictions extend beyond normal territorial boundaries. Maybe right now municipal judges are appointed by local governements (i.e., Mayors) unless their boundaries extend into other areas, in which case the Governor has to take over.

Cons:Takes away a traditional power away from the Governor and gives it not directly to the local governments, but to the State Legislature, who can then create laws that may or may not be any more fair than the current method. Potentially allows for a sort of 'gerrymandering' of judgeships.

Recommendation: A hesitant 'No'.

Bonus question

I have also been asked about the pros & cons of having a school board voted upon by the public vs. appointed by the mayor.

Arguments in favor of voter selection More democratic. Avoids political cronyism. Allows for a diversity of opinion. Allows for especially enthusiastic or committed individuals to campaign for the positions. Creates a low-level starting point for people wanting to get involved in politics.

Arguments in favor of appointment by mayor: Provides a buffer layer to protect school board from voters concerned about hot button issues such as evolution or teaching sex ed. Also, no one really puts the effort into researching school board member candidates anyway, so why not let the choice be made by the mayor, who is a more known factor that the public has selected?

Recommendation: In New Jersey, the risk of hot button issues becoming a factor is relatively low. I would vote in favor of the public voting directly for the board, but i don't think it's a terribly significant issue.

By fnord12 | October 31, 2008, 7:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

October 30, 2008

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

New Avengers #46 - Nice focus on the villains. I think it would have been cooler to see a division between the more "street" villains splitting with the more arch-villain types (the Wizard, Madam Masque) over whether or not they should have gotten involved, but that's just me. Tying the Hood's powers into Dormammu is interesting, i guess, but i hope they don't start upping his power levels too much. I like him as a low powered villain with a lot of ambition.

Secret Invasion #7 - Big issue long fight scene. Well told. Yu's faces stink but he's pretty good with storytelling. Waiting for the conclusion befre final judgement.

Thunderbolts #125 - This was a good conclusion to this arc, but about a quarter of it is a total repeat of scenes from Secret Invasion #7, which is just the reality of modern crossovers, but i don't really like it. Plus i wouldn't be surprised if Gage was phoning it in just a little bit since he's getting kicked off the series after loyally waiting in the wings and doing fill-ins all through Ellis' run. But that's just me being bitter; i shouldn't project it onto Gage. I did have a problem with the art style - a little too clean or something. Not bad, just not to my taste.

Captain America #43 - A straight take on Batroc, which is nice. Nice start to a new arc, not much to say at this point. Fill in art by Luke Ross isn't bad, but i always miss it when Epting isn't there.

Daredevil #112 - Good stuff. I'm glad to have some Brubaker Iron Fist now he's no longer writing his book.

By fnord12 | October 30, 2008, 6:15 PM | Comics| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) by AC/DC

The following is a true story
Only the names have been changed
To protect the guilty -
Well I left my job in my home town
And I headed for the smoke
Got a rock 'n' roll band and a fast right hand
Gonna get to the top
Nothing's gonna stop us, no nothing
So if you've got the money, we've got the sound
You put it up and we'll put it down
If you got the dollar, we got the song
Just wanna boogie woogie all night long
Yeh boogie
I got holes in my shoes
I got holes in my teeth
I got holes in my socks
I can't get no sleep
I'm trying to make a million
And I got patches on the patches
On my old blue jeans
Well they used to be blue
When they used to be new
When they used to be clean
But I've got a Momma whose a hummer
Whose keeping me alive
While I'm in the band doing drinking with the boys
She's working 9 to 5
[She] knows her place that woman
Just you wait -
One of these days see me driving round town
In my rock 'n' Rolls Royce with the sun roof down
My bottle of booze
No summer time blues
Shouting out, "Look at me"
In my rock 'n' roll voice
Ain't no fun waiting round to be a millionaire

By fnord12 | October 30, 2008, 12:03 PM | Music| Link

October 29, 2008

Sometimes i suffer from Press Envy

Interview between neo-con Robert Kagan and German magazine Der Spiegel (5 pages long).

By fnord12 | October 29, 2008, 10:17 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

My peas are so tough they ride motorcycles

Unfortunately i think they've gone bad or something. They're all sour and funny tasting. From sucking too much exhaust, i guess.

This has been an episode of Adventures in Fnord's Breakfast. Carry on.

By fnord12 | October 29, 2008, 9:26 AM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Monkey Spores

In case you missed Spored's comment below, I've got a guest column up at Spored To Death Publishing. It's a more indepth review of Max Payne. He calls it catharsis. I call it dredging up memories that ought to be left alone. Go check it out.

And while you're there read his review of MD Geist, (well, the sequel, actually) which was helpful since it's one of those Animes you always see around and wonder if you should watch. Now we know better.

By fnord12 | October 29, 2008, 9:09 AM | Movies| Link

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Debates

Who needs to hear the candidates give real answers to questions? What would be the point of that? I much prefer providing the candidates with a forum to give their stump speeches yet again. Really.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Thanks, 23/6.

By min | October 29, 2008, 8:24 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 27, 2008

Luke Skywalker Might Not Have Been The Tactical Genius You Thought He Was

Shaun Clayton at Topless Robot gives us 5 Reasons Luke Skywalker is a Complete Idiot.

I mean, they make targeting systems for a reason, Luke--and chances are, the Rebel's would prefer to trust your X-Wing's highly sophisticated on-board computer than a mystical power you spent a few hours learning yesterday afternoon.

By min | October 27, 2008, 3:40 PM | Star Wars | Comments (2) | Link

Max Payne movie

We went to our first movie in the theater for a long time. Never played the video game but the commercial looked like it was a cool post-apocalyptic action movie with great special effects, and we liked Marky Mark in The Big Hit and Three Kings. But... no. All i can bring myself to say is it was terrible.

By fnord12 | October 27, 2008, 2:39 PM | Movies | Comments (2) | Link

She's got it where it counts, kid

Millenium Falcon shaped PC. H/T nsxt290.

By fnord12 | October 27, 2008, 2:37 PM | Star Wars| Link

What Are You Dressing Up As For Halloween?

Might i suggest this "terrorist" costume selling on Amazon?

You might be too late, though. The LA Times says Amazon caught themselves and took it off.

By min | October 27, 2008, 11:54 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 26, 2008

Reading Is Fundamental

I know everyone's seen this many times already, but just watch it one more time. The best part comes towards the end. Katie Couric's expression cracks me up, too.

By min | October 26, 2008, 12:45 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 24, 2008

My Planks Are Solid, Also Too. How 'Bout Yours, Eh?

Focus on the Family is an evangelical group founded by a guy named James Dobson. Here's what wikipedia says about them:

The group supports the teaching of "traditional family values". It advocates school sponsored prayer and supports corporal punishment.[13] It strongly opposes abortion, so-called militant feminism, homosexuality, pornography, and pre-marital and extramarital sexual activity. Focus on the Family also embraces and reflects the wider political agenda of its audience, for instance promoting a religiously-centered conception of American identity and the support of Israel.

So, obviously, this was one of the groups Sarah Palin was allowed to speak to. She did a phone interview with Dobson of which Chris Kelly from Huffington Post takes excerpts. In this particular one, Dobson brings up the "Republican Platform" and asks basically aren't these are the same principles you've been trying to promote. Palin's response makes it pretty obvious she has no idea what a "platform" is and tries miserably to bluff her way through the answer.

Now, finally, we have very solid planks in the platform that will allow us to build an even stronger foundation for our country. It's all good and it's encouraging. You would maybe have assumed that we would have gotten further away from those strong planks. But no, they're there, they're solid, we stand on them and again I believe that it is the right agenda for the country at this time. Very, very clear and contrasted tickets in this election November 4th. People are going to see the clear contrasts, you just go to the planks in our platforms and that's where you see them.

If i had been drinking while i read this, i would have spewed it after the first mention of "planks". Oh, and there's more. Go read the rest on HuffPo. Make sure you're beverage-free, though.

By min | October 24, 2008, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

A Modern-Day Medusa

From TPM:

The highest-paid McCain-Palin campaign staffer is Sarah Palin's makeup artist.

Good lord! If they have to pay the makeup artist so much, how hideous must Sarah Palin be underneath all that makeup?

By min | October 24, 2008, 10:02 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Open Discussion Thread for D&D

Since the party is in between big quests at the moment, it helps me know what direction to prepare in if i have an idea of your plans for the next session. Below are some of the more obvious things that are going on, but don't let the list constrain you.

  • Find Lord Phantar
  • Find Beeblebrox
  • Check in with the Roesh Wizards to see if they've come up with anything on Gloiterwome
  • Investigate the Ruins of Pern
  • Look into some of the things mentioned by Beeblebrox in the pre-'recorded' message to the party, especially the members that weren't actually there, like Portentia, Synchromie, and... Klute?

By fnord12 | October 24, 2008, 9:59 AM | D&D | Comments (6) | Link

October 23, 2008

Poor Polo

India's only gorilla is lonely. Even though Polo is 6 feet tall, dark-haired, bilingual and good-natured, the 36-year-old silverback gorilla is still single after a fruitless eight-year search.

"We have written to all major zoos in the world. We have tried everything," said Vijay Ranjan Singh, the director of the zoo in Mysore, a city in southern India about 525 miles southeast of Mumbai.

Polo, who was sent to Mysore from Ireland's Dublin Zoo in 1995, has been alone since 2000 when his mate, 46-year-old Sumathi, died.

Singh said that because gorillas are considered highly endangered, other zoos are reluctant to part with theirs. The Mysore zoo doesn't want to send Polo abroad to find a friend because he is India's only gorilla. Also, animal transfers are usually done within the framework of breeding programs that are often regional.

Worried that failure to find a companion for Polo could cause him psychological harm, his keepers decided to make one final plea. "He needs psychological and emotional enrichment that we can't provide," Singh said by telephone from Mysore on Thursday.

Polo is a western lowland gorilla, native to the forests of central Africa. Silverback gorillas -- marked with a distinctive patch -- are dominant males who usually live in family groups in the wild.

"He is not very happy. The few joys he enjoys are bathing and searching for food that his keeper hides in blocks of ice or in bamboo to keep him energized," Singh said.

His few joys are bathing and searching for food the keeper hides.....i think that's one of the saddest things i've ever read.

By min | October 23, 2008, 3:27 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

I keep coming back to this

And we're calling that socialism now?

Click on the image to see why taxes are going to have to go a lot higher if we want to play golf on the moon or watch Captain America punch out Hitler again.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2008, 1:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Too Late, Asshole

Greenspan finally realizes that mebbe he was wrong.

Accused of contributing to the meltdown, but denying that it was his fault, Greenspan told a House panel the crisis left him - an unabashed free-market advocate - in a "state of shocked disbelief."

The longtime Fed chief acknowledged under questioning that he had made a "mistake" in believing that banks in operating in their self-interest would be sufficient to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions. Greenspan called it "a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works."

They did exactly what you expected them to do - acted in their self-interest, which doesn't necessarily require the best interests of the shareholders. They got their hefty bonuses, their huge termination packages, the ridiculous salaries, and all they needed to do was keep manipulating the numbers long enough for them to make their money and get the hell out before the roof caved in.

You, Alan Greenspan, are either a moron or a liar when you say you didn't know this would happen. I'm sure Dean Baker or Paul Krugman could have clued you in to what your policies would lead to if you had had the brains or the inclination to listen. Hell, i prolly could have given you a decent run down using sock puppets. Twat.

By min | October 23, 2008, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

More Than I Can by Jane Jensen

I back down.
I believe it's true.
I fall down in the shade of you.

I am secret.
You keep it inside.
You have to tell.
You have to try.

When I grow up you'll be alone.
You'll want too much.
Never sleep.
You'll want my face.
You'll want my name.
You'll want my eyes.

And that's just more than I can give.
That's just more than I can give.
I'm gonna save myself first...

I laugh when I remember when.
You fail with words and try again.
And bring the words into your hands.
Onto my skin and there it lands.

You want the light inside my body.
Makes you nervous. Makes you naughty.
You want truth inside the lie.
You want the hurt.

And that's just more than I can give.
That's just more than I can give.
I'm gonna save myself first...

Burn the house down when you sleep.
Talk my way out of speculation.
Change my name.
Run away. Hold my breath.
I always stay.think about the things I do.

when I can kill the fear in you.
Suffocate you with the joke.
I can't stop laughing.
Suffocate you with the joke.
I can't stop laughing

And that's just more than I can give.
That's just more than I can give.
I'm gonna save myself first...

I don't have any more.
I don't want any more.
I don't want any more.

And that's just more than I can give.
That's just more than I can give. I
'm gonna save myself first.

I don't want any more...

By fnord12 | October 23, 2008, 8:59 AM | Music| Link

October 22, 2008

Got something for ya, dude

I love the way Obi-Wan is tapping on the Stormtrooper's shoulder in this picture.

That is all. You may now briefly regret that you were never a member of the Star Wars fan club, and then go back to your day.

By fnord12 | October 22, 2008, 4:00 PM | Star Wars| Link


First i dreamt i had assassinated some people from some building. Then me and a bunch of friends at a later date went to that building to hang out and watch some movies. One of them happened to find a shell casing on the ground and thought it'd be kewl to keep. He later got pulled over for a traffic violation, at which time the cop found the casing and was able to trace it back to me. Stupid, traffic-violating friend.

Then i dreamt i was a leper and i was happy cause people left me alone. I must have had the special kind of leprosy that's not gross.

By min | October 22, 2008, 1:31 PM | My Dreams| Link

October 21, 2008

Oh Good Lord. Someone Get This Woman A Civics Textbook

Palin has now gone from having no idea what a Vice President does to having the wrong idea. You would think that they would at least have briefed on her on what the hell her job might be if she wins. Get her some index cards or something, ferchrissakes.

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is "in charge of the United States Senate":

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, "What does the Vice President do?"

PALIN: That's something that Piper would ask me! ... [T]hey're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

By min | October 21, 2008, 1:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Barbara Ehrenreich Confesses to the Socialist Conspiracy


The plan took shape during a particularly intense criticism/self-criticism session at our 2000 annual convention in a booth at an Akron IHOP. We realized that we'd been recruiting no more new members per year than the Green Bay Packers and that, despite all our efforts, more Americans have been taken aboard UFOs than have embraced the historic promise of socialism. So we decided to suspend our usual work of standing on street corners and hissing, "Hey, how'd you like to live in a workers' paradise?" Instead of building socialism, one worker at a time, we would focus on destroying capitalism, hedge fund by hedge fund.

First, we selected a cadre of crusty punks from the streets of Seattle, stripped off their Che T-shirts, suited them up in Armani's and wingtips, and introduced them to the concepts of derivatives and dental floss. Then we shipped them to Wall Street with firm instructions: Make as much money as you can, as fast as you can, and as soon as the money starts rolling in, send it out to make more money by whatever dodgy means you can find -- subprime loans, credit default swaps, pyramid schemes -- anything goes. And oh yes: Spend your own earnings in the most flamboyantly gross ways you can think of -- $10,000 martinis, fountains of champagne -- so as to fan the flames of class resentment.


Things were going swimmingly until about a week ago, when the capitalists suddenly staged a counter-coup. We had thought that the nationalization of the banks would bring capitalism to its knees, but instead, the capitalists were craftily using it to privatize the government. Goldman Sachs, former home of Henry Paulson, has taken the lead, planting its agents so thickly about the erstwhile public sector as to earn the nickname "Government Sachs." Among the former Goldman Sachs operatives now running the country, in addition to Paulson, are the president's chief of staff, the chairman of the New York Fed, the man appointed to take over A.I.G., and the 35-year-old boy wonder selected to oversee the bail-out program.

According to the New York Times, "Goldman supporters" insist there is no "conspiracy" and not a black helicopter in sight -- just a bunch of public-spirited investment bankers sacrificing their normal 8-figure salaries for the good of the nation. But we socialists know a conspiracy when we see one, and some in our ranks are complaining bitterly that as capitalism began to collapse, the bankers seized the life raft that was intended to save the laid-off, the foreclosed-upon, and the exploited masses in general.

Ah well, we socialists still have the election to look forward to. After months of studying the candidates' economic plans, we have determined that one of them, and only one, can be relied on to complete the destruction of capitalism. With high hopes and great confidence, the Socialist International Conspiracy endorses John McCain!

By min | October 21, 2008, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Sand Thefts

In Jamaica,

Hundreds of tonnes of white sand vanished from a planned resort on the island's north coast in July but three months later there is no sign of suspects nor sand.

An estimated 500 truck-loads of sand were removed from the Coral Spring beach in Trelawny and were believed to have been sold to rival resorts, a hefty logistical feat which has stumped police.

How the hell do you steal 500 truck loads of anything and nobody notices before you get away? The operation of loading the sand onto whatever it is they used to transport it should have created so much noise that you couldn't help but notice what was going on. Loading 1 pickup truck, i can understand going undetected, but 500 truck loads?? It's inconceivable.

And this is apparently not the first sand theft.

Last year, thieves in Hungary stole hundreds of tonnes of sand from a riverside resort's artificial beach. Adding insult to injury, the thieves also stripped Mindszentas of its beach huts and sun loungers.

By min | October 21, 2008, 11:44 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link

October 20, 2008

You tore a big hole in your convertible top. What will you tell your mom and pop?

"Mom, I tore a big hole in the convertible."

By fnord12 | October 20, 2008, 2:23 PM | Music | Comments (3) | Link


John Meachum of Newsweek:

After about an hour, there seemed to be no more questions for him, so Newsweek editor Jon Meacham turned to his audience - about 100 graduate students at Columbia journalism school - and said he had a question for them: Did anyone in the room read Newsweek or Time? There was a small, awkward rumbling before finally, a man shouted, "No!"

Mr. Meacham scanned the audience for his quarry and then asked the journalism student, clad in a black turtleneck, whether he read The Economist. Yes, he did.

"It's the most talked about and least read magazine," said Mr. Meacham. "Have you looked at Newsweek?"

"Sure," said the J-schooler.

"And it's not up to your standards?"

"I find less useful honestly. The news? I don't get it from Newsweek. The Economist is more courageous," he answered.

"The success of The Economist--the fact that you read it, a black-turtlenecked guy at Columbia," Mr. Meacham began. But then he changed tack.

"Look, I need you," said Mr. Meacham. "And I need - I've got people out there risking their lives right now. The Economist is not, by the way ..." He changed tack again. "I've got four people in Baghdad who could be killed at any moment who are trying to tell the truth the best they can of that story. We have people in 13 different countries. We have a guy in Afghanistan who has Taliban sources who the federal government has asked about because we have better intelligence than government does - he's risking his life."

"And how to communicate that we have things to say that are both factually new and analytically new and to get you under the tent is a fact that scares me - not The Economist per se. It's an incredible frustration that I've got some of the most decent, hard-working, honest, passionate, straight-shooting, non-ideological people who just want to tell the damn truth, and how to get this past this image that we're just middlebrow, you know, a magazine that your grandparents get, or something, that's the challenge. And I just don't know how to do it, so if you've got any ideas, tell me."

The grad student suggested they try re-branding. Mr. Meacham said thank you, and a few moments later, the lecture was over.

The Economist is a center-right, pro-"globalization" magazine (which is possibly what Meachum keeps dancing up to but never actually says), but that bias is pretty clear once you read a few articles or editorials (which allows you to mentally filter for it), and no one can deny that its articles are long and detailed and span a large variety of topics and issues from around the world. Newsweek is simple and frivolous, usually with one or two decent lengthed articles and a lot of tiny paragraphs and "quotable quotes" and blurbs and other garbage. They strive for the fake 'objectivity' or 'balance' or "Republicans say this but Democrats say that" weak sauce. Meacham's cover story this week is the conventional Washington Beltway wisdom that Obama had better govern like a watered-down Reagan no matter how big his mandate because that's what 'everybody' knows the people really want.

That's why.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2008, 1:37 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

And You Thought Swiss Army Knives Were Useful

How silly of you. It's become quite clear to me recently that a bandana is the most useful thing in the world. Just look at all the things you can do with it:

That's right. It says footstool.

By min | October 20, 2008, 10:43 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

Happy Judas Priest Day!!!

I mean, it must be Judas Priest day, right? Why else would my ipod have played 4 Judas Priest songs, plus a cover by the Donnas, by 10am?

By fnord12 | October 20, 2008, 10:01 AM | Music| Link

October 17, 2008

And another thing!

While i'm grousing, i want to complain about lines of reasoning like this:

And in any case, we're dealing with "Marvel time" here anyway, where the passage of time across different titles is never quite consistent to begin with (which is why Kitty Pryde could age five years in the time it took Franklin Richards to age three.)

I get the sliding timescale and the fact that the timing doesn't have to be absolute, but Franklin Richards is such a young age because he was aged to adulthood, stayed that way for over a year, and then was de-aged back to where he started at, giving Kitty Pryde and others plenty of time to age past him. So please stop using that as an excuse for not keeping good track of the timing of your plots.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2008, 3:04 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Oh god, fnord talks about One More Day *again*

Marvel seems to be backing away from some of the continuity changes that resulted from One More Day, now saying that some of the changes that seemed to be a result of Peter's deal with Mephisto were in fact things that happened subsequently in the gap between the end of One More Day and Brand New Day. This includes Harry's return from the dead and everyone forgetting Spider-Man's identity.


>1) If everything in continuity happened, except for the "I do", how come dead people are back? (Basically a Spider-man continuity question, what did OMD change, although I'm guessing, that's the definition of upcoming story lines.)>

I think people are more vexed by this than they would typically be, and it's really our fault for folding a number of things together and doing it all at once rather than parsing things out. But we wanted to get to the "meat" of the new status quo faster rather than slower, and nobody wanted to go through six months of "try-to-explain-stuff" stories to start out with.

People come back from the dead all the time in comics, and all the time in Spider-Man comics. Norman Osborn was dead for years, and now he's alive. Aunt May was dead, and now she's alive. Pick any villain--dead, then alive. Happens all the time. Putting One More Day aside for the moment, if we just did an issue in which, on the last page, there was a knock on Pete's door and Harry Osborn was standing there, back from the dead, nobody would think twice--you'd just wait for the backstory, and you'd either buy into it or you wouldn't buy into it.

That's precisely what's happening here. Harry's return doesn't have anything to do with Mephisto's deal, and the circumstances surrounding it will be revealed and covered in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #581-582. So yes, everything in continuity happened except for the wedding.

And here:

>Does Peter remember that he revealed his identity to the world? If so, how come he doesn't wonder why the whole world forgot? If not, then that seems to be a lot more changes than just undoing "I do."

Posted by superscribe on 2008-10-08 14:45:47>

You're making a couple of understandable leaps in logic here based on what little we've shown so far. But as with the earlier Harry Osborn example, this is actually quite simple, and will be very easy to understand once we get to telling the story of specifically how this happened. But for now, all you really need to understand is that Spidey did unmask to the world, and then, during that gap of time between the end of "One More Day" and the beginning of our run, something occurred to erase this knowledge from the minds of everybody on Earth (with the exception of Peter himself.) Peter makes passing reference to this during "New Ways To Die" when he first encounters a Norman Osborn who doesn't know he's Spider-man and thinks to himself something along the lines of, "That thing we did is working! He no longer has any idea who I am!"

So Peter knows exactly what transpired to eliminate knowledge of his identity, and that this action wasn't caused by Mephisto but by something else. (Which makes perfect sense when you think about it, in that, in a world in which Peter was never married, there wouldn't have been a deal with Mephisto in the first place--there would have been nothing to bargain for.) And that puts us right back to where we started: one thing has changed, and that is the marriage not happening. I realize this can be tough to grapple with given that we haven't actually covered a lot of this ground in print yet, but that was specifically because we all felt that spending the first year doing stories about the fallout from "One More Day" would have been like pulling teeth for everybody involved, fans and creators alike. But the story if the identity erasure is planned, and you should see it in 2009.

Now, i'm characterizing it as Marvel backing away from the earlier position. Brevoort is saying that this was the plan all along. I don't really believe that. If it is true, they did a really poor job of managing what was already a controversial reboot by adding confusion-fuel to the fire. But either way*, i am liking this new/clarified status quo a lot better. I have absolutely no investment in the marriage per se, and i agree with a lot of the points about how the marriage was a mistake. But i don't like continuity reboots and what they did with Brand New Day was an unprecedented and dangerous act for Marvel continuity. If you have events in your continuity that are clearly mistakes, you have to live with them, or find ways to reverse them that work within your continuity.

In other words, i disagree with this:

I've heard assorted people say that it would have been better or more acceptable if A) Loki had been behind "One More Day", B) Peter and Mary Jane had just gotten a divorce, or C) fill in your own eventuality here. But I think that's a crock. I think that if we'd gone any of these routes, there'd be just as many people upset with the story, and just as many people saying that version A, B or C destroyed the character, raped their childhood and offended their sensibilities. I don't think the problem people have is with the methodology so much as with either the elimination of the marriage itself or with their feelings that the time and money they've spent on twenty years worth of Spider-Man comics was all wasted - and those sentiments would still be present in any of these other scenarios, to one extent or another.

I may not be representative of the larger fan base, but i doubt i'm too far off. There's always going to be a negative reaction to retcons of any kind, but i think the level of outrage over this one in particular had less to do with the reversal of the marriage and the fact that it was a wave-the-fairy-wand continuity reset.

This 'clarification' or whatever you want to call it makes the impact of the continuity reset a lot smaller. Even though this gets them to the same end place, it's a slightly better way of getting there. By backing away from the "big reset" (again, my suspicion/interpretation), Marvel is signaling that they've learned a lesson. And/or i think the Spidey-Marriage is the one thing that Marvel editorial & corporate felt so strongly about that they were willing to push the reset button on and take the heat for. Either way, i think the danger of Marvel becoming "Crisis" prone is reduced from my earlier fears.

Taking this one step further, though, and now seeing how they're handling some of the "subsequent" elements of the reboot (i mean things like Harry's return and Spidey's ID) i wonder if Marvel could have gotten away with doing away with the marriage a little more subtly. Maybe 6 months of stories with Peter and MJ having major trouble with their marriage, with a re-emphasis on their youth (due to the sliding timescale) and then something like this:

"Hey, what's this article? 'Public official arrested for marriage fraud? Oh my god, MJ, that's the guy that married us!"
"What does it say?"
"It says he was arrested for faking the marriage licenses for people he didn't feel should be getting married, and not really filing the license with the state. People of mixed ethnicities and... people who were very young."
"Oh my god, Peter! We were so young when we got married. Do you think...?"
"We'll have to call and find out, MJ, but maybe... maybe if he did to it to us..."
"...yeah. Maybe it would be for the best."

And then close the loop with a heartfelt issue and then never talk about it again.

Is it stupid? Unrealistic? Yes. But compared to the devil showing up in your living room and doing you a favor...?

Anyway, that's done with. At least One More Day didn't turn out to be as big as it seemed.

*While i was writing this, Brevoort came out with another installment of his Q&A and printed the following:

>How come everyone claims the only thing changed by Mephisto was the undoing of the marriage; while Spider-man's bio on Marvel's own web page clearly states that the wiping of people's memories and the return of Harry was caused by Mephisto.>

Because nobody involved with that bio bothered to check with the folks actually working on the comic; the guys who wrote it drew their own conclusions based on what had appeared in the books. Thanks for pointing that out, by the way - I've since spoken to the people in our online department and gotten that bio corrected and updated. It was an error.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2008, 3:04 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Palin's Just a Delicate Flower

This is just unbelievable, by which, i mean i'm totally not surprised but i am disgusted.

At those times on the campaign trail when sometimes it's easy to get a little bit discouraged, when, you know, when you happen to turn on the news when your campaign staffers will let you turn on the news," she said, prompting laughter from the group. "Usually they're like 'Oh my gosh, don't watch. You're going to, you know, you're going to get depressed.'"

Yep. Her staffers aren't letting her hear anything negative about her so that her delicate feelings won't be bruised. Sort of reminds you of Bush and how he gets all cranky if someone says something unflattering about him.

So, the VP who has supposedly been keeping the Russians at bay up there in Alaska and has been talking trash about whiners and accusing Obama of "pallin' around with terrorists" isn't strong enough to hear some criticisms?

So, this is the tough, lipstick-wearing pitbull who didn't blink as she took off the gloves and put on the heels (this is starting to sound like a Skinemax plot summary)? Sounds to me like she's actually just a namby pamby pussy.

First off, it's pretty sexist to say you've got to protect li'l ol' Sarah Palin from the big, nasty media (who have been, and to a great extent still are, shilling to the GOP for the last 2 decades, at least). Would any male VP candidate admit to hiding behind his staffers' skirts and would any GOP campaign let this info out if their boss was a man?

Second, you know that if anything even remotely like this was going on with a Democrat, it would be red meat for the Republicans. They would waste no time as portraying this as more evidence that Democrats are weak and not capable of running this country.

It must be a full moon because for once, i agree with the Republicans on something. She's certainly not capable. Of anything.

By min | October 17, 2008, 1:23 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

"A Sickled Society is a Polite Society"

-- fnord12

The 35-year-old said she had been working in her field cutting grass when the man tried to attack her. She hit back using her sickle.

She told the BBC she had no regrets. The man had reportedly been harassing and stalking her for some time.

"He tried to rape me and I hit back with the grass-cutting weapon to save my honour," she told Ramdutt Tripathi of the BBC Hindi service.

She says she went to the police station in her blood-soaked clothes after the incident, but denied newspaper reports that she carried the head with her.

Ram Bharose, police chief of Lakhimpur Khiri district some 125 miles (200km) south of the state capital Lucknow, said they were investigating the incident.

He said the woman had a legal right to defend herself against rape and sexual attacks.


Damn straight she had a legal right to defend herself and cut that guy's head right off with her sickle.

By min | October 17, 2008, 12:15 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

McCain loses debate to cardboard Obama


By fnord12 | October 17, 2008, 9:06 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Age of Sentry #2 - I liked the two Nick Furies thing (admittedly in part because it made my "Carol Danvers didn't have powers yet!" objection to the first story go away; clearly whatever is going on here isn't supposed to be in continuity), but other than that it's too much cute and not enough weird. Sticking with my decision to drop it.

War Machine #34 - I thought this was fine. I liked the flashbacks in Rhodey's past a lot, and i didn't really bat an eye at Russia and the Soviet Super Soldiers Winter Guard's stupid behavior. They always act like that, so it seemed in character to me, even if it is groan-inducing. But i get why others wouldn't like it, and it definitely isn't top work from Gage.

Mighty Avengers #19 - This was a terrible waste of pages. There's literally about 2 pages of plot here and the rest was just... not even filler, it was just nothing. Terrible.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 - This, on the other hand, is great stuff. Great characterization, some actual plot resolutions, good art. And yay, Cosmo isn't bad! The cover (which shows Major Victory fighting Starhawk) seems to be out of sync with the series, though, furthering my belief that the Secret Invasion crossover really was a last minute insertion. But hey, if it helps sales and keeps the book from being cancelled a little longer, i'm all for it, and the plot did tie in to the main story after all, albeit in a roundabout way.

Also this week there was an interview/tribute to Sal Buscema, which i appreciated. It's nice when we recognize people before they die every once in a while. Especially someone like Sal who was a real workhorse at Marvel in the 70s and doesn't have the reputation that he deserves. Not only did he work on an insane number of books, but he always kept a steady Marvel house style that ensured a consistency among their books, and it was pretty good art as well. When he had less books to concentrate on at once, his art was actually quite good. He's the definitive Hulk artist for me, for example.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2008, 7:22 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

October 16, 2008

Ignorance or Deliberate Racism?

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."

You can check out the rest of the article here.

The president of the group claims she had no idea it was racist in any way.

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

And some of my friends are black, too!

I'm trying to figure out if she sent this out totally oblivious to the racism inherent in the imagery, was unaware that there were African American members of the group and therefore didn't think she'd get called out on it, or knew she was being racist and didn't care if it offended the minority members because she didn't want them in the group anyway.

I think the first option is just too unbelievable. You can't live in this country and not know referencing fried chicken, ribs, and watermelon in conjunction with a black person is playing on the stereotype.

My vote is for #2. It just seems the most likely to me. She just didn't think that among "her people" she would have to worry about being PC.

My question is why are minorities still under the illusion that the Republican party in any way welcomes them? Those minority members who belong to this group ought to really rethink their choices. How much more proof do you need? The current Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates are deliberately stirring up the most racist elements in their supporters with their rhetoric of late, and it wasn't until it got really ugly and it looked like they were going to experience backlash from the public before some Republicans came out against it. Is this really the party you want to support?

By min | October 16, 2008, 3:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Obama Runs Ads in Video Games

Now that you can get online with your game console, it was inevitable that the companies would start selling ad space. I don't even actually play Xbox and i've been inundated with various movie ads just by being in the same room as someone who is playing a game. Remember when having cable meant watching tv without commercials? *sigh*

Anyway, Barack Obama, being the savvy modern-day politician he is and having tons of cash from all the donations, has become the first presidential candidate to run ads in online games.

The Democratic Illinois senator is using the Internet ads, featured in 18 games through Microsoft Corp's Xbox Live service, to promote his online voter registration and early balloting drive in 10 battleground states, a campaign spokesman said on Wednesday.

Unprecedented in US presidential politics, the video game buy is targeted mainly at young adult males who are difficult to reach through more traditional campaign advertising.

"The 18-to-34-year-old male is the mainstream demographic for the hard-core video gamer," said Van Baker, an analyst for Gartner Inc, a technology market research firm in San Jose, California. "They're hard to get to because they don't watch much TV and they don't read a lot, so it's a good venue to get that segment."

The ads appear in games as banners or billboards with an image of Obama, the slogan "Early voting has begun," and a reference to his VoteForChange.com web site. The site allows users to register online to vote, obtain absentee voter information and find a polling location.

I don't know how much people pay attention to advertisment in general. It seems like they would pay even less attention when their main focus is to get online and shoot people.

What really struck me is that males 18-34 don't read. That's sad. Between books, magazines, newspapers, and the internet, it's just pathetic that there's an age group spanning 17 years that doesn't read "a lot". I suppose they were with Sarah Palin at being outraged to name some things she reads. Except, being the types to not read or watch tv, they prolly have no clue about the incident. Is Obama sure he actually wants these people to vote?

By min | October 16, 2008, 1:43 PM | Video Games | Comments (4) | Link

Scammin' the Old Folks

People are just wrong.

Delpha Speak has 13 grandchildren and she didn't think it was completely implausible that one of her grandsons-in-law would call her to say he was in trouble. The 72-year-old retiree could tell something was wrong, and she wanted to do whatever she could to help.

But it was that concern that almost caught her up in what the state attorney general's office said is a common scam targeting older folks.

"He said, `Grandma,' and I said, `Which grandson?" Speak said. "He said, `Guess,' and I said, `Oh, it's Jamie,' and he said, `Yeah, it's Jamie.'"

She said her grandson-in-law lives in Kansas City and frequently travels for business, so when he said he was in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada, she believed him.

"He said, `Grandma, I'm really in trouble,'" she said. "He said, `I've had a car wreck and I have to have $5,000 to get out of the police station.'"

The caller urged her to wire the money via MoneyGram at Wal-Mart and begged her not to call her granddaughter.

"By now he was crying almost," Speak said. "He said, `Don't tell anyone, because I didn't tell anyone I was coming here.'"

After she hung up, she told her husband about the call and he headed to the bank to get the money. Then her curiosity got the best of her and she called the police station.

"As soon as I said do you have Jamie, my grandson, there, they said, `Ma'am, it's a scam,'" she said. "They're calling people from out of the country, and it's always grandparents."

Good thing my grandma doesn't speak english.

By min | October 16, 2008, 1:40 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Dean Baker, Debunker


During last night's debate, Senator McCain blamed the housing market meltdown on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's lending practices. While Fannie and Freddie, as huge actors in the mortgage market, certainly contributed to the bubble, it is absurd to point to them as principle culprits. Their market share actually fell as the bubble grew to ever more dangerous levels, dropping from 50.1 percent in 2002 to just 34.8 percent at the peak of the bubble in 2006.

Fannie and Freddie deserve blame for failing to recognize the bubble (this is their job), but clearly they were not the primary cause.

The media should have highlighted this major gaffe by Senator McCain. This would be like Obama talking about a border between Iraq and Afghanistan or some other major error on a foreign policy issue.

and here:

Much of last night's presidential debate centered on "Joe the Plumber," Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber who Barack Obama met while campaigning in Ohio. According to the New York Times, Mr. Wurzelbacher says that he is planning to buy a plumbing business that has profits of between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.

While this income would put Mr. Wurzelbacher above the threshold where he could expect to pay higher taxes under Senator Obama's tax plan, the increase in his tax bill would be relatively modest. Under Senator Obama's plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent. This means that Mr. Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900, assuming that this plumbing business would be his entire taxable income. If he has additional taxable income, then he would see a larger increase in his taxes.

It would have been useful for reporters to explain the extent to which Joe the Plumber would see his taxes increase under Senator Obama's tax proposal. It is unlikely that this tax increase will seriously impair his plans for his business as Senator McCain implied.

I always think it's cute when Dean Baker says that he thinks the press should do its job. By cute, i might mean 'depressing'. And i love the snark about the hypothetical border gaffe; we all know who really made that gaffe and who got away with it.

Also note the part that i italicized. People often don't realize that with our graduated tax scales, it's only the part of your income over the threshold that is taxed at the new level.

By fnord12 | October 16, 2008, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Mean, out of context image of the day

Update: More, because i can't control my id:

By fnord12 | October 16, 2008, 9:31 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Trouble Every Day by Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention

Well I'm about to get sick
From watchin' my TV
Been checkin' out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it's gonna change, my friend
Is anybody's guess

So I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear 'em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin' every day

Wednesday I watched the riot
Seen the cops out on the street
Watched 'em throwin' rocks and stuff
And chokin' in the heat
Listened to reports
About the whisky passin' 'round
Seen the smoke and fire
And the market burnin' down
Watched while everybody
On his street would take a turn
To stomp and smash and bash and crash
And slash and bust and burn

And I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear 'em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin' every day

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it
'Cause, baby, I don't need it
Take your TV tube and eat it
'N all that phony stuff on sports
'N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin' out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they'll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin' hard and doin' swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can't be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They'll send some joker with a brownie
And you'll see it all complete

So I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear 'em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin' every day

Hey, you know something people?
I'm not black
But there's a whole lots a times
I wish I could say I'm not white

Well, I seen the fires burnin'
And the local people turnin'
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite 'em
And they say it served 'em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it's the same across the nation
Black and white discrimination
Yellin' "You can't understand me!"
'N all that other jazz they hand me
In the papers and TV and
All that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don't appeal to him
(No matter if it's black or white)
Because he's out for blood tonight

You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won't be many live
To see it really end
'Cause the fire in the street
Ain't like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don't you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now's the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain't no Great Society
As it applies to you and me
Our country isn't free
And the law refuses to see
If all that you can ever be
Is just a lousy janitor
Unless your uncle owns a store
You know that five in every four
Just won't amount to nothin' more
Gonna watch the rats go across the floor
And make up songs about being poor

Blow your harmonica, son!

By fnord12 | October 16, 2008, 8:55 AM | Music| Link

October 15, 2008


Palin, using a line of reasoning that i'm sick of:

After her Dover speech, Palin went outside to speak briefly to a crowd of people who couldn't get into to the gymnasium. Holding a microphone in one hand and her son Trig in the other, she addressed someone who appeared to be heckling her.

"Sir, I don't know what you're saying, but if you're protesting, that's cool, too," she said. "My son's over in Iraq fighting for your right to protest."

Help me with this. Was Iraq dangerously close to developing intercontinental anti-free speech missles? Does her son being a soldier make criticism of her off-limits? If not, why bring it up? Joe Biden's got a son in Iraq as well; should she not be allowed to criticism him?

She's used this line reflexively, even accidentally against her own supporters. Even here she's not sure what they're saying. It seems a little pathological to shout "My kid's in Iraq!" every time you don't know what someone is saying. But even beyond that, the reasoning just seems screwy to me.

By fnord12 | October 15, 2008, 4:00 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

A message from Malouf

After a few days of resting in Roesh after your year-long quest, you wake one morning to find yourself summoned by Malouf. He says the following:

Snow has left. We will see her again in a month in Betaya. We must not follow her. She gave me these *hands scrolls & whatnot to Brecaryn* to give to you. Even though it's wrong, I will take charge taking advice from you. We all must face our challenges. This is mine. I'll show Snow she was wrong *looking at Alana, Lieralyn, & Flerm* and she did good with us. Where to next?

A list of potential future quests follows, but it's also worth considering each of your characters motivations and determining what keeps you with the rest of the group now that the menace to the continent has been ended.

  • Lord Phantar is missing, and the Knights of Phantar have asked you to find him.
  • Beeblebrox has also gone missing after a seeming attack on the tower of Sorcerer's Isle
  • Brecaryn has been having dreams about the resurrection of the white dragon Gloiterwome
  • The hobbits of Pern are having trouble with a landshark.
  • The Bards Guild, based in Betaya, has questions for your group

By fnord12 | October 15, 2008, 11:22 AM | D&D | Comments (14) | Link

Recap #20

Behold! Here Endeth the Quest

By min | October 15, 2008, 11:20 AM | D&D| Link


Pictures of our trip.

By fnord12 | October 15, 2008, 10:59 AM | My stupid life| Link

October 14, 2008

Rodney Acquired

If this website never served any other purpose, at the very least it can always be said that it's how i got my Rodney Needs Love gorilla, thanks to Comrade Mandy contacting me via my previous post. He's a little smaller than the Rodney we had when i was a kid, but he'll still be loved.

Now if only we can stop him from trying to "love" all our other stuffed friends.

By fnord12 | October 14, 2008, 1:00 PM | My stupid life | Comments (4) | Link

Dracula is smooth with the ladies

Who's the pasty old vamp
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
You're damn right

Who is the man
That would bite the neck of his brother man?
(Vlad Dracula!)
Can ya dig it?

By fnord12 | October 14, 2008, 12:48 PM | Comics| Link

She Loves You

(thanks, Wanyas)

By min | October 14, 2008, 10:23 AM | Comics | Comments (9) | Link

October 10, 2008


I've been ignorning the ACORN-related conspiracy theories for a while now on the grounds that it's one of many far right wing web site obsessions that aren't going anywhere (for example, like the crazy idea that Bill Ayers actually ghost-wrote Obama's books. No, really.). But it looks like this one is actually perculating its way up into the "mainstream", by which i mean Fox news and the McCain campaign.

ACORN is a good group. It's one that min and i donate to on a regular basis. They are the dreaded "community organizers". They've been doing good work in helping to rebuild New Orleans, for example.

But one of their weaknesses is that they hire low wage workers on their voter registration drives. This is intentional; they don't have huge budgets but they like to create jobs instead of relying on volunteers. Some of these 'employees', however, have been known to make up names instead of bothering to go door to door to get people to fill out voter registration cards. ACORN is aware of that problem and always reviews the results and informs election officials when they see problems (by law you have to hand in all voter registration cards, even ones that are obviously fradulent, so that there can be no accusations of voter suppression). But Republicans are naturally against the registration of low income (and mostly black) voters, and they have always been antagonistic towards the group. This year, however, they are going nuclear because new voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives are such an important part of Obama's election strategy.

For some more of the details, see here, here, and here.

Update: The TPM link above reminds us that this relates back to the US Attorney firings scandal, as those attorneys were fired for failing to find any evidence of wrongdoing relating to this exact issue.

By fnord12 | October 10, 2008, 4:32 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Your Toilet Paper's Unacceptable

I found this.

The parents live in a slightly remote part of Shanghai, only accessible by bus or taxi, and they always refuse to take a taxi because its too expensive (even if I offer to pay). I told JJ to tell them to just stay the night at our house, that made the most sense and it was totally fine by me (and of course by JJ). We do have an extra room and I did buy this couch bed for this very reason. So it only made sense for them to stay, especially since it was holiday and JJ was not working.

Here comes the kicker. They were at first totally against it. Why, you might ask? Well it was not for the normal reasons you might imagine, such as 'we don't want to intrude', 'we have plans tomorrow morning', we simply want to get home', 'we don't like the couch bed'. None of these things mattered to them. Instead, the issue at hand was literally:

We don't know if we want to stay because the toilet paper I buy is too soft for them and they really don't like using it.

Now lets get the facts straight. I am not a freak or anything. I buy what I consider to be normal toilet paper, you know the middle-of-the-road priced roll you buy in packs at the store. I don't even go top of the line (because I'm too cheap). So what in the world could be wrong with my toilet paper?

Well, it turns out they really cannot use the 'Western' style toilet paper. They only use the toilet paper sheets that are a darker shade of brown, more rough and stacked on top of each other. A good comparison would be the toilet paper you'd find at a public restroom in a gas station, you know, the ones that require a key and have the toiler paper dispenser that spits out paper that resembles paper towels more than toiler paper.

So not only do they prefer to use this kind of toilet paper, but they went to the extreme of this opinion and considered traveling an hour on a bus all the way back home at 10:30pm to avoid using my 'soft', more expensive toilet paper, if, heaven forbid, they needed to take a trip to the WC. Fortunately, they are not just totally insane (I say that with the best intentions). They decided that if they could find a local convenient store that sold their 'favorite' style toilet paper, they would agree to spend the night. And what do you know, they found such a store, purchased a little travel pack and was ready to go.

My only comment is that he's wrong. They're Chinese parents. They are so definitely totally insane. It's a given.

Some commenters on the blog say that it was just an excuse because they didn't really want to stay. a) i don't see how saying your toilet paper's no good is really a 'saving face' type of excuse to give and b) i'm confident in Chinese parents around the world to come up with a much better, guilt-inducing excuse. Now, my parents wouldn't even bother. They'd tell you they much prefer their own bed to your crummy one and so goodnight.

By min | October 10, 2008, 2:25 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

You Knew It Wouldn't Take Chavez Long

"Comrade Bush is heading toward socialism."

And he's not the only person in Latin American who sees the irony. Congressman Edwin Castro of Nicaragua had this to say about our government's bailout plan:

"We were just talking about that this morning on the floor," said Congressman Edwin Castro, who heads the leftist Sandinista congressional bloc in Nicaragua. "We think the Bush administration should follow the same policies that they and the International Monetary Fund have always told us to follow when we have economic problems -- a structural adjustment that requires cutting government spending and reducing the role of government.

"One of our economists was telling us that Bush has just implemented communism for the rich," Castro said.

Here's the rest if you'd like to read it.

Socialism for the rich. Free market for everybody else. That about sums up the situation. People who worked at Lehman Brothers for decades are laid off and then get told Lehman's won't be able to pay them severance effective now. But the CEOs get to "retire" instead of being fired which means they get a nice retirement package to take along with them. And thanks for your years of service making horrible financial decisions.

AIG execs and sales people went on a $443k luxury retreat at a beach resort a week after they got a taxpayer funded $85 billion bailout. And then when they get called on it, they had the balls to come out and say it's no big deal, they do this all the time.

Hello, braintrust, I think part of the reason we're in the trouble we're in now is because morons like you are in charge of so many people's finances and don't seem to grasp simple concepts like how wrong it is to have a $443k "meeting" in the first place. Gah!

By min | October 10, 2008, 12:33 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 9, 2008

Mail Goggles

Google has revolutionised the way that the world searches for information, pornography and Sarah Palin. Now it may have solved a problem that has plagued computer users since the birth of e-mail.

Jon Perlow, one of the search engine's software developers, has come up with an idea that could save millions from the terrible consequences of the drunken e-mail.

The problem became apparent to Mr Perlow after he sent a late-night message to his former girlfriend, telling her that he thought it was time that they renewed their relationship. It did not go down well. Working in his spare time, he wrote a programme designed to act like the responsible friend who confiscates your car keys late in the evening.

The program, which he called Mail Goggles, intercepts e-mails sent using Google's e-mail service, Gmail, after a certain time in the evening. "It's that time of day," the program says. "Are you sure you want to send this?" It then tries to ascertain whether the writer is drunk by asking five mathematical questions that have to be answered in a limited time.


One commenter noted that Text Goggles would be much more useful as drunk phone texts prolly happen more than drunk emails. At least with a drunk text, you can't hit "reply all" by accident.

By min | October 9, 2008, 2:44 PM | Science| Link

The Religious Party

I think it's too soon for this type of analysis, but Andrew Sullivan sees a realignment of the Republican Party wherein they are stripped of all support outside of the Religious Right, putting them in a permanent minority status. Hard to buy, but he's not the only one saying the current economic crisis could result in the end of one or both of the current political parties, and it's certainly a nice thought.

By fnord12 | October 9, 2008, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

If you aren't doing anything wrong, then what are you worried about?

That's generally the response to invasions of privacy. But private matters are just that... private... and shouldn't be subjected to review by government agents.


Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.

By fnord12 | October 9, 2008, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Are They Bugging Our Conversations?

  • Wanyas has often proclaimed how he wants a president who's smart and who's "elite" because don't you want the guy running the country to be better than everyone else?

    On Monday, DailyShow's guest Tim Robbins pretty much made the exact same statement.

  • Tuesday over IM, i told fnord about this story i read on the Oddly Enoughs about a boutique in Mexico that has started selling bulletproof clothing due to the high crime rate.

    The story appeared on Tuesday's Colbert Report as part of the #3 threat on the Threatdown segment.

  • While watching the debate Tuesday night, fnord felt an important question the candidates haven't answered is "Where are our goddamn jetpacks?". It is 2008, afterall. We should have flying cars and be living on space stations by now.

    Also, on Tuesday's Colbert Report, Colbert asked his guest about when he thinks we'll have jetpacks.

These are just recent examples. It happens all the time. We'll talk about something and then next thing you know, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert is mentioning it on their show. Sure, the Oddly Enoughs thing you can write off to it being the writers' job to find weird news. But jetpacks?? What the hell are the odds (never tell me the odds)?

Hey, if they want to hang out with us, we'd be more than happy to do that. They don't need to covertly listen in. We can be friends.

By min | October 9, 2008, 10:50 AM | My stupid life & TeeVee| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Stump - by John Lydon

You can never, ever make a difference
You will always, always be on the defense
Pride in race? That don't make no sense

And you couldn't put sense in a sentence

(Happ- happy days!)

You would condemn in me the things you love the most
Could you ever, ever see a thing right through?

(Happ- happy days!)

Or take, maybe, an individual point of view
And just what did you ever have to say?

When I look at you, I see sweet F.A.
(Oh happy days! They're here again!)

You will condemn in me the things you love the most
You will condemn - and boast -
The things you want the most

You could never find an answer inside a book
And this could only be true because you would never look
You can stand on your head and spout rhetoric
But the only problem you have is forensic

(Happ- happy days!)

You ignorant twat
You are to proud, you are too loud
And none of it originates from you

You will condemn - and boast -
You will condemn - and boast -
The things in me you love the most

(Happ- happy days!)
(Don't you love me? Don't you want me?)
(The things you love the most)

By fnord12 | October 9, 2008, 8:52 AM | Music| Link

October 8, 2008


I was reminded of the following section from the debate while reading this review of the debate from Politico, which i agree with (the quote below is from page two):

Brokaw provided the candidates a clear opportunity when he asked about consumers getting drunk on easy credit.

But neither candidate took him up on the invitation. Obama's message was about the need for more regulation to protect investors and McCain gave a paean to the inherent greatness of Americans.

But one big reason for the crisis is that ordinary Americans bought cars, houses and other things they simply could not afford. They entered into mortgages they knew could be too good to be true: no money down, low payments for the first few years.

Like Brokaw's question on the social security "crisis", i would have liked to see Obama challenge the premise here. Consumers didn't get "drunk" on "easy" credit. Faced with declining wages and limited job opportunities, they followed the advice of politicians advocating for an ownership society and fell victim to deceptive loan deals. Surely some, maybe many, people were irresponsible, but they didn't act in a vacuum. It took changes in circumstance and policy for this to become a crisis. Also, lending institutions pay people six digit salaries to assess risk. They obviously weren't earning their pay.

Don't blame the victim. Create jobs to raise wages so people can afford to live without debt.

Update: And let's not forget that declining house prices have resulted in people having mortgages for more than their homes are worth.

By fnord12 | October 8, 2008, 3:24 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link


Brokaw has been in this industry as long as i've been alive. He can't handle two seconds without his teleprompter? What do we need him for?

Overall thoughts on the debate: it sucked. The general consensus, even from partisan Republican sources like the Weekly Standard, is that Obama won the debate and it was his strongest night. I'm amazed by that (but happy to accept it). I thought it was a terrible debate. The supposed townhall format was a joke, with both candidates, as usual, continuing to give their standard stump speech responses to specific questions. For example, someone asked Obama essentially "How come congress was able to move so quickly on the bailout, but most things take so long, and as president how will you quickly push through your agenda items, such as global warming?" And Obama responded by giving his policies on global warming.

I did think Obama gave one really good answer on why the bailout was necessary. And it may have been because the answer was more of an explanation than a definition of his policies. It showed Obama's ability to distill complex questions into something that is understandable while still treating voters like intelligent adults. It's something that first made me like Obama (in his initial Reverend Wright speech) that i haven't seen much of since. I also thought he delivered a great counterpunch when McCain tried to say Obama's policy on crossing the Pakistan border was dangerous by listing all of McCain's belligerent "policies" (Bomb, bomb Iran, etc.). But for the most part, Obama seemed to be constantly reacting to McCain's charges instead of clearly answering questions.

McCain wasn't any better. He's generally pretty good about connecting with people in Townhall meetings, but this fake Townhall meeting stifled him. And he needed to win this more than Obama did. So it's another win-by-attrition for Obama. But Obama didn't impress me, and more than anything, we need to do something about these debate formats.

By fnord12 | October 8, 2008, 9:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (8) | Link

October 7, 2008

It Makes Me Laugh

Both watching the video and reading the article. I don't know why. It should prolly make me more worried about Putin what with his "gain the upper hand by soft but effective actions" talk. I guess it's just the fact that he put out a training video. And he's wearing that gi. Nobody looks threatening in a gi. *snort*

I mean, look at him and tell me he doesn't look like a dork.

Sergei Zhukov/AP

Ofc, having said that, i've prolly signed my death warrant.

By min | October 7, 2008, 1:25 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (6) | Link

Holy Crap

It's like someone got a hold of Campbell Brown and gave her a lobotomy.

"As journalists, and certainly for me over the last few years, we've gotten overly obsessed with parity, especially when we're covering politics," Ms. Brown said. "We kept making sure each candidate got equal time -- to the point that it got ridiculous in a way."

"So when you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it's a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it's a cloudy day," she said. "I should be able to tell my viewers, 'Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.' And not have to say, 'Well, you decide.' Then it would be like I'm an idiot. And I'd be treating the audience like idiots."

I mean, not that i've ever watched Campbell Brown before so mebbe she's always been like this (doubtful), but to ever hear any reporter anywhere say this is mind blowing. And that it should be so shocking is in itself a commentary on the state of our media.

We've been saying it forever. It's not unfair to point out if something is completely untrue. And there are things that you can definitely be right about and wrong about. That's what facts are. For the last several years, politics and the media have been turning into my freshman year expos class where every answer is equally valid, and it's been so frustrating (dammit, sometimes a tree is just a friggin tree).

I hope Brown's able to stick to her word and tell Candidate A, Pundit B, Political Analyst C, Expert D, and Correspondent E they're wrong when the facts show that indeed they are.

By min | October 7, 2008, 12:57 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Yaaaay, it's Tuesday!!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!!!!

P.S. Now it's called "skunkfood" until i say otherwise, chump.

By fnord12 | October 7, 2008, 10:19 AM | My stupid life| Link

Getting Ugly

Dana Milbank:

McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

The angry GOP vice presidential nominee even found a way to blame the market decline on the yet-to-be-enacted tax policies of the yet-to-be-elected Obama.

"If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, yah, this is another woeful day in the market, and the other side just doesn't understand -- no!" she said at an afternoon fundraiser at the home of mutual fund giant Jack Donahue. "Especially in a time like this, you don't propose to increase taxes. The phoniest claim in a campaign that's full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes."

Of course, Obama never promised to cut taxes for people at $10,000-a-plate lunches in air-conditioned tents on waterfront compounds. And the crowd -- among them New York Jets owner Woody Johnson -- reacted without applause to Palin's Joe Six-Pack lines. After they didn't strike up the usual "Drill, baby, drill" or "USA" chants, Palin, rattled, read hurriedly through the rest of her speech.

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

It'd be nice to see a landslide election that could be interpreted as a repudiation of this kind of politics, but at the same time there will be a sizable minority in this country that is riled up by this stuff and spends the next eight years believing that they are being oppressed.

By fnord12 | October 7, 2008, 10:04 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 6, 2008

10 Creepy Ads

You love 'em.

By fnord12 | October 6, 2008, 4:12 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | October 6, 2008, 3:21 PM | Comics| Link

Bacon Egg!!!!!

One Fine Day Yen Plus Manga: Bacon Egg!

By fnord12 | October 6, 2008, 9:38 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

The Big A

By fnord12 | October 6, 2008, 9:37 AM | Comics| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Fantastic Four #560 - I go up and down with this series, and i'm on the upswing with this one. Certainly it's not great. The dystopian future is not very different than a million others we've seen, and the 'reveal' regarding the future Invisible Woman was very hamfisted. But otherwise, it's reasonably well told; a fine adventure story. Hitch's faces sometimes doesn't look that great and it needs brighter colors, but otherwise it's good art. If it's ok with everyone, though, i'm going to pretend that the Dr. Banner in this story is in fact a future version of the Hulk, and not his son. Maybe at some point he decided he didn't want to let on that he's immortal so he faked his death and replacement.

X-Force #7 - This was a good downtime/build up issue that shows that Kyle and Yost are pretty good with characterization. I was thinking that with a little more coordination with another X-title, this proactive thing could be taken a little further, with maybe the idea that since Bastion's scheme is already reaching the surface it's too late for the X-Force team to go after him, so the X-Men will handle that and they go after the Vanisher instead. But even without that, i'm enjoying it. And of course, with the Vanisher picking up the Legacy virus, they continue the theme of throwing in every past X-Men plot into the mix, which i enjoy.

Daredevil #111 - I didn't like the idea of a "Lady" Bullseye, but her origin was done well. I like the idea of the Hand trying to be cautious after so many defeats, but they need an actual win or two under their belt to head off the Dr. Doom effect, if it isn't too late already. Oh, and cross the super-obscure Dakota North off the list of the few Marvel women that Matt Murdock hasn't banged.

Mighty Avengers #45 - I was actually thinking that when the Scarlet Witch re-wrote reality, that some of the undercover Skrulls might have actually become the people they were imitating, since Wanda wouldn't have known any differently. I guess that would have kind of ruined the plot of Secret Invasion, though. This was good, and i liked the Annihilation tie-in as well.

Avengers: The Initiative #17 - Fun stuff, although Ant-Man isn't quite the cowardly ass that he was in Kirkman's run; i don't think he'd even bother taking pictures of the big Skrull secret and trying to warn anyone. Also, wasn't Devil-Slayer replaced by a Skrull - my brain can't handle multi-part stories anymore as i can't seem to remember anything.

Thunderbolts #124 - Norman Osborn continues to rule. Didn't love the art, though.

Nova #17 - Ah, Project Pegasus. The last time i saw Darkhawk, though, he was part of that team in Runaways that didn't want to be superheroes anymore. I know they had their own series or mini for a while, maybe he changed his mind then? Or maybe he was the one who still secretly wanted to be a superhero but was trying not to because of his rage issues (stupid brain). The Nova/Darkhawk reunion was great, with Rich demonstrating his war experience. Heh, Sherlock.

Captain America #42 - Hmm. i enjoyed this, but i wonder if the Red Skull's plot fell apart a little too quickly. And i thought the fact that Sharon had a miscarriage was a little too neat. But again, this was good. Epting's art looked a little funny, so i double checked the credits and saw that there was a second penciller and three inkers. Guess the issue was running late. It was still fine and i appreciate that they brought in help rather than have the issue be late. I love Zola Skull, but i thought it was odd that Zola referred to the Skull as "master", especially since he otherwise was talking like they were partners, which is how their relationship has been represented in this arc.

By fnord12 | October 6, 2008, 7:38 AM | Comics| Link

October 3, 2008


(Breaking radio silence on my vacation with this rant.)

For a long time now, moderators in a candidate debate have been relatively superficial. A very specific question, say, "What type of concessions would you be willing to make in order to provide an incentive for Iran to commit to not develop nuclear weapons?" may as well be "Blah blah blah please give the portion of your stump speech on Iran blah blah blah blah." I'd like to at least see candidates forced to say something like "I don't think it's prudent to give away details of negotiations ahead of time" before going into generalities (and on non-foreign relations related questions, i don't think something like that is even acceptable). But moderators, for the most part, have let the candidates get away with that sort of crap, sometimes attempting a weak follow up, sometimes throwing up their hands and saying "It's your format, gentlemen." But at least candidates have been forced to stay at least generally on topic. You could more or less replace the moderator with a fishbowl that had index cards with various high level topics on them, but at least the candidates talked about the topic on the card.

Last night in the Palin/Biden debate we saw the moderator sink to new levels of irrelevancy. Gwen Ifill was just terrible. Or rather, Sarah Palin was absolutely terrible, but in a way that a lot of people may have not noticed, and Ifill let her get away with it. I don't know if it's because the Republicans spent the past few weeks screaming about Ifill's "bias", or if it was because of the agreed upon format that there would be no follow-ups, but what she allowed to happen was a failure of her responsibilities as a journalist.

Sarah Palin would literally not talk about the topics she was asked about. Asked about her position on the Wall Street bailout, she repeatedly talked about how she supported tax cuts or her energy policy. Asked about whether or not she supported intervention in Darfur, she talked about how she was a Washington outsider. Asked to describe her Achilles' Heel, she talked about how great a boon her experience as a governor and as a member of the "heartland" would be. At one point she said to Joe Biden, "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people."

Palin has shown herself to be just fine at reciting talking points. Where she got into trouble in her recent interviews with Gibson and Couric wasn't usually in the first response to the question (unless the question didn't directly relate to a talking point she had prepared), but as they tried to probe deeper and get beyond the intitial platitudes. There was no follow up here, but that was apparently what they agreed to. Shame on the Democrats as well for agreeing to such a substance-free format, but what Ifill allowed Palin to get away with was even worse. You can't answer a question on the Wall Street bailout by giving a speech on tax cuts or energy policy. It just shouldn't be allowed. It should at least be pointed out.

In my opinion Biden should have done more to point out her non-sequitors, but he was clearly coached to play it safe and leave Palin alone so he didn't look like a bully. All of his attacks were directed at McCain. This was frustrating, but probably a good strategy. And it really shouldn't have been his job to make sure that the basic format was being adhered to. That's the moderator's role. And Gwen Ifill did a terrible job.

By fnord12 | October 3, 2008, 11:07 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

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