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November 26, 2008

Where tofurkeys really come from

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. We will be on SuperMegaVacation until December 8th, and i will actually be away the week after that, meeting my new corporate masters in San Francisco.

By fnord12 | November 26, 2008, 4:22 PM | Godzilla & My stupid life | Comments (4) | Link

November 25, 2008

Der Magneto

Much scarier in the original German.

By fnord12 | November 25, 2008, 8:24 PM | Comics| Link

Brennan out

I have not been commenting on all the appointments, and rumors of appointments, from the Obama administration. But this is good news.

Glenn Greenwald:

I think Obama is entitled to a lot of leeway on appointments and is entitled not to be condemned -- or praised -- other than for things he actually does. And while I have found some of his appointments questionable, Brennan was the only prospective appointment that, speaking only for myself, was completely unacceptable. Advocacy of Bush's interrogation and rendition programs should exclude anyone from consideration for any important position, let alone CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence.


Brennan's self-defense relies on pure strawmen. Contrary to his protestations, it was noted from the start that Brennan opposed waterboarding (as I wrote: "In fairness, Brennan, over the last couple of years, as he's become more attached to Obama's campaign, has several times said that waterboarding specifically is wrong"). Despite that, his lengthy, empathic statements made clear that he defended "enhanced interrogation tactics" and rendition -- grounds enough for making him unacceptable for any top intelligence post -- to say nothing of his strident advocacy for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.

By fnord12 | November 25, 2008, 5:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Special Avengers: The Initiative #1 - The first story feels very much like the decision was made to have Komodo and Hardball break up and have Hardball join Hydra, even though doing so would cause the characters to act stupidly and unnaturally. There were some good moments along the way, but there was a lot of "WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?" which kind of ruins a story. The second story was better, maybe because it was more psychological. Tying Trauma to Nightmare could be interesting. I hate to say it, but the first story was pure Gage and the second story was co-written with Slott. Gage is on a bit of a losing streak with me lately. I think the artist, Steve Uy, has potential - the action panels are very stiff but the drawing style is nice and he may get better over time. Heh: Special Avengers.

Age of the Sentry #3 - Mistake.

Fantastic Four #551 - I think my expectations have been sufficiently lowered for this series that i can enjoy it as just silly adventure stuff, and from that perspective i'm liking it now. You'd think another Wolverine appearance would just make me yawn at this point, but i liked that (although i'm trying to figure out the dynamics where Hulk Jr. would call him 'dad'). I'm not looking too hard at the logic or science of the plot; i'm just enjoying this for what it is.

War Machine #35 - I'm thinking this was only bad because it was the wrap up to a three issue story and lots of comic book endings are kind of bad. I'd like to think if this was setting up for an ongoing by Gage, or even if Gage had been given some kind of direction about how to set up for Pak's ongoing, this would have been better. Still, it was bad, and i'm clearly in the excuse making phase of my support of Gage, so something's going wrong. Dude needs a regular series before they burn him out completely.

Thunderbolts #126 - I only have this due to a scheduling kerfuffle, but this issue didn't change my decision to drop the title with the new creative team. I thought the Harry Osborn scene was pretty good; a little over the top but still interesting. I'd like to see more political type stuff like that. The rest of it was pretty bad. Moonstone had no subtlety, Speedball was completely dense, the 'break-up' of Songbird and Radioactive Man seemed forced, and Bullseye was too psychotic.

Not a great batch of comics this time.

By fnord12 | November 25, 2008, 7:49 AM | Comics| Link

November 24, 2008

Cleared the Lanes

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at Hamilton Lanes on Friday night. I am told that while we played everyone bowled strikes due to how hard we were rocking.

More pictures on the Lead Singer Syndrome myspace site. Click on pics and then Hamilton Lanes.

By fnord12 | November 24, 2008, 10:32 AM | Music| Link

Food Banks Need Help

Due to the economic downturn, food banks are facing an increase in demand but a decrease in donations. If you're able to, please give a donation to your local food bank or to Feeding America, a national network of hunger-relief charities (food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, etc).

These places generally accept both food donations and monetary donations. My suggestion would be to go with the monetary donation because the staff at the food banks are able to make more efficient purchases than we are, but i'm sure anything you can give would be appreciated.

By min | November 24, 2008, 9:00 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

November 20, 2008

Shame and anger

I'm going to quote this at length (no surprise) from Glenn Greenwald:

A federal district judge, Richard Leon, today ordered the Bush administration "forthwith" to release five Algerian detainees who have been held in Guantanamo without charges since January, 2002 -- almost seven full years. The decision was based on the court's finding that there was no credible evidence that the 5 detainees intended to take up arms against the U.S. The court found sufficient evidence to justify the ongoing detention of a sixth Algerian detainee.

When they were detained in 2001 in Bosnia, the Bush administration claimed that they were plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo. Buth once they were shipped to Guantanamo, the U.S. backed off that accusation and instead claimed they intended to travel to Afghanistan to fight against the U.S.

These 5 detainees were able to be heard in federal court only because the U.S. Supreme Court in the Boumediene case last June -- in a ruling John McCain called "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country" -- struck down as unconstitutional Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act, which had purported to abolish habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees and prohibit them from challenging their detention in a federal court.
The five men ordered released today have been imprisoned in a cage by the Bush administration for 7 straight years without being charged with any crimes and without there being any credible evidence that they did anything wrong. If the members of Congress who voted for the Military Commissions Act had their way (see them here and here), or if the four Supreme Court Justice in the Boumediene minority had theirs, the Bush administration would nonetheless have been empowered to keep them encaged indefinitely, for the rest of their lives if desired, without ever having to charge them with any crime or allow them to step foot into a courtroom to petition for habeas corpus.

In addition to every Republican Senator (except Chafee), those voting to authorize that repellent power include Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar, Tom Carper, Ben and Bill Nelson, Debbie Stabenow, and Joe Lieberman.

Judge Leon is a Bush-43 appointed Judge known as a right-wing ideologue and known for ruling in favor of the Government and for expansive executive power. He was Deputy Chief counsel for the Republicans on the Iran-Contra Committee in 1987, was Special Counsel to the Senate Banking Committee for the Whitewater investigation, and worked for both the Reagan and Bush 41 Justice Departments. That Judge Leon -- of all judges -- ruled that there was no credible evidence to suggest that these detainees are "enemy combatants" is as compelling a sign as one can imagine that there is no such evidence.
One of the detainees ordered released today had a wife who was pregnant at the time he was shipped to Guantanamo, who then gave birth to a daughter, now 6, whom he has never met. Another of the Bosnian-Algerians had an infant daughter at the time he was put in Guantanamo who died last year of congenital heart disease at the age of 6. Another of them "suffered months of facial paralysis from a brutal beating inflicted by Guantanamo camp soldiers." And then there's this, about one of the other detainees, Saber Lahmer:
When we last saw Saber in November, he was in his sixth month of solitary confinement. Since August, he has seen us, his legal team, twice and a psychiatrist on three brief occasions. For a few minutes each day, he sees the camp guards who bring his meals. He has had no other human contact. The glaring lights in his cell are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we left the cell, we could hear Saber shouting -- brief, truncated cries. We could not understand what he was saying.

According to Human Rights Watch, that detainee -- "a university-educated father of two who once taught at the Islamic Cultural Center in Bosnia" -- "continues to be housed 22 hours a day in a single cell, with nothing to occupy his time other than his Koran" and "now reports that he is going blind in his left eye, a result that he attributes to being housed in cells with fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day."

You know this won't be an isolated incident. Feeling angry at the people who did this, shame that i didn't do enough to stop it, and a little hopeless about the lack of ability i would have had to stop it even if i had tried harder.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2008, 4:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

I, for one, welcome our new Lizard People overlords

Go see how you would make decisions on the questionable ballots in the Al Franken/Norm Coleman senate race.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2008, 3:12 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Ice Cream by New Young Pony Club

I can give you what you want.
I can make your heart beat short.
I can make you ice cream
We could be a sweet team
Melting in your vice dreams, sport.

I can be the sauce you crave.
I can spell what you can't say.
Chocolate flavored love theme
Treat that treats you so mean
Covering your nights and days.

Let me give you what you'd like.
I can make your mouth run dry.
Drink me like a liquor
C'mon and dip your dipper
Show me what you're here for, guy.

I can give you what you want.
I can make your back real taut
Fantastic flavor fancies -
Sick like Sid and Nancy -
Wicked as a joyride jaunt.

What you want
I can give you what you want
What you want
I can give you what you want, you want
You want
I can give you what you want
What you want
You want
Whatcha whatcha want now.

By fnord12 | November 20, 2008, 9:06 AM | Music| Link

November 19, 2008

On D&D and race

Ta-Nehisi also links to an article on race. (Note: This is a long essay.) About it, he says:

Here's an interesting essay on the presence--or lack of presence-of non-white folks in D&D throughout history. It's a funny thing to be a black kid into fantasy. Most of this stuff is ripped from Tolkien, and as much as I love LOTR, there is, indeed, something disquieting about the total whiteness of the movies. I don't blame that on Jackson or Tolkien. If someone was doing a fantasy epic based on Xhosa creation myths, I wouldn't expect to see any white people.

The article brings up some things that i've definitely thought about, back to the classic "is it morally good to kill orc children?" question. And it's something that actually came up in our campaign (with trolls, not orcs), but with no real resolution. I think a lot of the points raised in the article are accurate but can be addressed with good DMing. Other points are off base, but still worth thinking about.

By fnord12 | November 19, 2008, 4:24 PM | D&D | Comments (3) | Link

It's all so clear now

Click here for the simplest illustration of why i like Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's OK, it's not a long essay or anything. Just click.

By fnord12 | November 19, 2008, 4:17 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage| Link

E. Coli vs.E. Honda
E. Coli E. Honda

By fnord12 | November 19, 2008, 10:27 AM | Whoodwin | Comments (3) | Link

Dr. Pepperhead

Well, Bob's not crazy:

Many have tried, but so far nobody has been able to pry the decade-in-the-works Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" from the hands of lone remaining original member Axl Rose.

Now, Dr Pepper thinks it's up to the challenge. The soft drink company says it will give a free can of Dr Pepper to "everyone in America" (excluding ex-GNR members Slash and Buckethead) if "Chinese Democracy" arrives anytime during the calendar year 2008.

Although it turns out that it's not wacky Axl Rose making this promise, it's the soda company itself. In fact, Axl wrote:

We are surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr. Pepper with our album Chinese Democracy as for us this came totally out of the blue. If there is any involvement with this promotion by our record company or others we are unaware of such at this time. And as some of Buckethead's performances are on our album I'll share my Dr. Pepper with him.

Axl Rose

Looking into more about why my favorite Sinistar-sampling guitarist isn't getting his own Dr. Pepper, i found this statement from GnR on wikipedia:

During his tenure with the band, Buckethead has been inconsistent and erratic in both his behavior and his commitment, despite being under contract, creating uncertainty and confusion and making it virtually impossible to move forward with recording, rehearsals, and live plans with confidence. His transient lifestyle has made it near impossible for even his closest friends to have nearly any form of communications with him whatsoever.

Tangentially, Ozzy (who sounds much more coherent in print) had this to say about him:

I tried out that Buckethead guy. I met with him and asked him to work with me but only if he got rid of the fucking bucket. So I came back a bit later and he's wearing this green fucking Martian's-hat thing! I said, 'Look, just be yourself'. He told me his name was Brian, so I said that's what I'd call him. He says, 'No one calls me Brian except my mother'. So I said, 'Pretend I'm your mum then!'. I haven't even got out of the room and I'm already playing fucking mind games with the guy. What happens if one day he's gone and there's a note saying, 'I've been beamed up'? Don't get me wrong, he's a great player. He plays like a motherfucker.

I also read that Buckethead put out 28 albums in 2007. He's an interesting guy. Despite this "Brian" cover story, i still think he's either Eddie Van Halen looking for a way to play anonymously or a never-truly-died Randy Rhodes.

By fnord12 | November 19, 2008, 10:14 AM | Music | Comments (4) | Link

November 18, 2008

Kraken vs.Rancor
The Kraken (Clash of the Titans) The Rancor (Return of the Jedi)

By fnord12 | November 18, 2008, 9:25 AM | Whoodwin | Comments (3) | Link

Bob, Where's My Tricerotops?

Max weight 60lbs?? That's crap.

**Update: Amazon has a video.

By min | November 18, 2008, 9:05 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

November 17, 2008

Return to Hamilton Lanes

I confess i don't know what "spare this show" means, but we've got some new songs and it sounds like the Timid Roosevelts are a good indie band, so come see us and bowl with the band.

By fnord12 | November 17, 2008, 10:37 AM | Music| Link

I support this message

Or even if you're not.

By fnord12 | November 17, 2008, 10:21 AM | Science| Link

High Profile Lawyer challenges RIAA

Hope something comes of it:

A Harvard Law School professor has launched a constitutional assault against a federal copyright law at the heart of the industry's aggressive strategy, which has wrung payments from thousands of song-swappers since 2003.
Nesson argues that the Digital Theft Deterrence and Copyright Damages Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it effectively lets a private group -- the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA -- carry out civil enforcement of a criminal law. He also says the music industry group abused the legal process by brandishing the prospects of lengthy and costly lawsuits in an effort to intimidate people into settling cases out of court.
Nesson is best known for defending the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers and for consulting on the case against chemical companies that was depicted in the film "A Civil Action." His challenge against the music labels, made in U.S. District Court in Boston, is one of the most determined attempts to derail the industry's flurry of litigation.

Nesson's argument isn't that song swapping should be legal, of course. Only that the record industry shouldn't have the right to effectively enforce a criminal law.

By fnord12 | November 17, 2008, 8:56 AM | Liberal Outrage & Music| Link

November 14, 2008


It's all BoingBoing's fault.

Puppy Cam

Goddamn the internet.

By min | November 14, 2008, 3:54 PM | Cute Things & Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

November 13, 2008

The Price of Fame

Everyone wants a piece:


The domain supermegamonkey.com has recently become available for us so we are offering it to you, because you are the owner of its .net version.

Domain Guard Service is intended to assist our clients with their promotion on the Internet. We use many methods to increase the effectiveness of a client's presence on the Web. Securing .com domains for anyone using another extension for their site is one of them.

There are several reasons why owning a .com is of great importance for any domain holder:
- It's in the essense of Internet: .com is most popular and widely used, and the typical user usually supposes that he/she will find you at supermegamonkey.com. A lot of companies and organizations who use other extensions as primary (.net for Web services or private sites, .org for non-profit organizations etc.) are securing .coms not to lose the visitors who are seeking them there. With .com, you will be free to use both your .net and .com so you will only gain visitors.
- By owning the .com, you will be sure to stay #1 in your own name space.

If you are interested in this domain, please act quickly, as we soon intend to bring it to the auction where the acquisition cost will be higher than now.

Please use the link below to discover the current cost of the domain, read more about the advantages of owning a .com and get information on the details of the purchase and domain transfer procedure:

Secure supermegamonkey.com now!

Best regards,
Dan Johnson
Domain Guard Service
mailto: dan@domainguardservice.com

Good luck with that auction.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 6:19 PM | My stupid life| Link

The power of this Death Star is insignificant compared with activated carbon filtration

I found this picture while looking for a good shot of Darth Vader sitting in his TIE cockpit, sipping his beer. *I* think it's funny, anyway.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 5:24 PM | Star Wars| Link

You've brought this upon yourselves!



And finally, click on the Panda for even more animal birthday cakes!!!!

All cute animal pictures are part of Naked Capitalism's Antidote du jour project of keeping us from getting too depressed while reading economic news. But we all know i only start posting cute animal pictures when you all let me get too bored at work.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 4:59 PM | Cute Things & My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Darth Vader Imminent

(Images may not be to scale. X-Wing courtesy of the ghost of Picasso.)

See the comments in this post for explanation.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 4:54 PM | Star Wars| Link

Evolution Not Just the Result of Random Mutations

The research, which appears to offer evidence of a hidden mechanism guiding the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection, provides a new perspective on evolution, the scientists said.

The researchers -- Raj Chakrabarti, Herschel Rabitz, Stacey Springs and George McLendon -- made the discovery while carrying out experiments on proteins constituting the electron transport chain (ETC), a biochemical network essential for metabolism. A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.

"The discovery answers an age-old question that has puzzled biologists since the time of Darwin: How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if evolution is completely random, operating like a 'blind watchmaker'?" said Chakrabarti, an associate research scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton. "Our new theory extends Darwin's model, demonstrating how organisms can subtly direct aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness."

Read the rest here.

Does anybody else get a little warm, nostalgic feeling when they read a non-textbook that calls the mitochondria the "powerhouse of the cell" and talks about ATP? *sigh* It almost makes me giddy.

One very important point the article stresses:

The scientists do not know how the cellular machinery guiding this process may have originated, but they emphatically said it does not buttress the case for intelligent design, a controversial notion that posits the existence of a creator responsible for complexity in nature.

Not that the opinions of scientists hold any water with ID pushers. Especially when the scientists have conceded 2 points:

  1. it's a very complex process that's being "guided" on some level

  2. and

  3. they don't know how it's happening

Obvious answer - God did it. Duh.

By min | November 13, 2008, 3:20 PM | Science| Link

I request better dashboard indicators

If you saw this image pop up on your dashboard on your way to work (ok, if you saw a version of it that didn't look like it was drawn by a drunken child), you might think to yourself, as i did, "Hmmm. I wonder what that means? Something with the power steering fluid, maybe? Too bad i took the car manual out of the glove compartment to make room for the GPS. Oh well, i'll check it out online when i get to work."

In truth, that symbol means BREAK FAILURE IMMINENT! Which, really, would suggest a whole different set of reactions.

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 11:26 AM | My stupid life | Comments (10) | Link

Oh, Naomi Klein

I love you, but reading your writings makes me want to jump out of a window.

See if any of this sounds familiar: As soon as the bailout was announced, it became clear that Treasury officials would hire outsiders to perform their jobs for them -- at a profit. Private companies wanting to help manage the bailout were given just two days to apply for massive, multiyear contracts. Since it was such a mad rush -- after all, the entire economy was about to implode -- there was no time for an open bidding process. Nor was there time to draft rigorous rules to make sure that those applying don't have serious conflicts of interest. Instead, applicants were asked to disclose their conflicts and to explain -- and this is not a joke -- their "philosophy in fulfilling your duty to the Treasury and the U.S. taxpayer in light of your proprietary interests and those of other clients." In other words, an open invitation to bullshit about how much they love their country and how they can be trusted to regulate themselves.

There's nothing better than the ol' "We investigated ourselves and found no evidence of wrongdoing" line.

Remember how Treasury Secretary Paulson said all this money that Congress just had to let him have was going to be given to the banks so that they could continue lending and thus not crash the entire system? That wasn't so much with the true:

"There is no obligation for banks to lend the money one way or the other," Jennifer Zuccarelli, a Treasury spokeswoman, tells Rolling Stone. "But the banks have the understanding" that the money is intended for loans. "We're not looking to control their operations."

Unfortunately, many of the banks appear to have no intention of wasting the money on loans. "At least for the next quarter, it's just going to be a cushion," said John Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch. Gary Crittenden, chief financial officer of Citigroup, had an even better idea: He hinted that his company would use its share of the cash -- $25 billion -- to buy up competitors and swell even bigger. The handout, he told analysts, "does present the possibility of taking advantage of opportunities that might otherwise be closed to us."

And the folks at Morgan Stanley? They're planning to pay themselves $10.7 billion this year, much of it in bonuses -- almost exactly the amount they are receiving in the first phase of the bailout. "You can imagine the devilish grins on the faces of Morgan Stanley employees," writes Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Weil. "Not only did we, the taxpayers, save their company...we funded their 2008 bonus pool."

AIG is one example of how this whole thing has failed (or succeeded incredibly well, depending on which end of the bailout you're on). The federal government is supposed to now own 80% of AIG in exchange for the $85 billion. How is it that we own 80% of something and either cannot or will not stop them from going to spa trips or staying at luxury hotels instead of using that money to save them from the imminent collapse they were crying about? Clearly, for AIG executives, they have a different idea of what a crisis means. Apparently, it means having to stay at a Holiday Inn instead of the Waldorf.

Who needs some Hammer of Justice-ing?

Naomi Klein does offer an idea.

There is a better way to fix a broken financial system. Treasury's plan to buy up the toxic debts never made sense and should be immediately scrapped -- a move that would also handily get rid of most of the crony contractors. As for purchasing equity in banks, the next round of deals -- and there will be more -- has to start from the premise that the banks are bankrupt and will therefore accept whatever terms we choose to impose, including real regulatory oversight. The possibilities of what could be done if a chunk of the banking system were genuinely under public control -- from a moratorium on home foreclosures to mandatory investment in green community redevelopment -- are limitless.

The only problem is nobody in power to do so will actually look into implementing such an idea. Though the free market laissez faire economic policies have brought us to this current low, many are unwilling to let it go. Afterall, those who have placed themselves in the right positions stand to make alot of money out of it. And that proves the system works.

By min | November 13, 2008, 9:27 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Black Cat Bone by Laika

must have been the devil who changed my mind
must have been the wind blowing not me crying
half the joy of leaving was the space I left behind
now I'm back, angelheaded holloweyed
placed myself at the eye of the storm
just didn't see the signpost to scorn
the blue sky wrinkled through my tears
then darkness grounded all my fears
I gave him my sugar; he switched it for salt
should have seen him coming that's always my fault

rocks for my pillow and sand for my bed
for better or worse I left him for dead
but two rivers to each other run
words that shook me like the kick of a gun
had something in my heart ain't got no name
turned out he felt the same
ain't it lonesome, ain't it sad
I was the only happiness he ever had
by Indian River the vows were said
in a red devil's dress I was wed

bitch's baby round lady
came to me in a dream
then lightning struck and thunder roared
and nothing was as it seemed
a two-headed doctor walked on the water
and buried a lemon outside my door
he turned and laughed, threw up his hands
when I asked him what it was for
he sang 'ships in the ocean rocks in the sea,
blond-headed woman made a fool outta me'
then everything went crazy
my shoes filled with blood
the water rose the wind did howl
the river looked ready to flood
I left my man asleep to drown
and ran without looking back around

ring the bells of mercy
send the sinnerman home
the keys to the kingdom are lost and gone
and I'm left to die alone
all these girls grown old now
all that long hair in the grave
realize what's done is done
it's far too late to be saved

By fnord12 | November 13, 2008, 8:40 AM | Music| Link

November 12, 2008

Too Ethnic

Luke Cage, originally going by the clunky name Hero For Hire, is unhappy with his lack of press.

He needs a new name. But he rejects "Ace of Spades" for being too... well, we'll let him say it:

Nonetheless, look how he settles on the name Power Man.

Also, Luke Cage is awesome:

By fnord12 | November 12, 2008, 1:59 PM | Comics| Link

Why are we bailing out the auto industry?

Democrats, including Barack Obama, have been making a lot of noise lately about a bailout for the auto industry, setting them up for a "crash" with Bush. Amazingly, i'm with Bush on this one. I'm aware that the auto industry is still a source of good paying manufacturing jobs for a decent number of Americans. But this is an industry that has shipped a lot of those jobs overseas, and it is already planning for another series of layoffs that will happen no matter how much money the government throws at it. The auto industry for decades has resisted stronger regulation in terms of mileage, safety, and environmental standards. It also refused to adapt to a changing market; as gas prices have continued to rise, they have stuck to building gas guzzling cars and trucks, while using monopoly tactics to destroy small business electric car innovators. I recognize that it will "hurt" in the short term, but if these companies can't survive on their own, i don't see why we should be artificially propping them up. Something will come along to fill in that vacuum, and it can only be better than what we have now. We have to get rid of this "too big to fail" mentality. And if we absolutely must keep them running in order to prevent a depression, then the government should take them over 100%, and the break them up and sell them to new owners after the crisis is averted.

By fnord12 | November 12, 2008, 9:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

November 11, 2008

I Want Bionics!

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a bionic contact lens.

"Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside," said Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering. "This is a very small step toward that goal, but I think it's extremely promising."
There are many possible uses for virtual displays. Drivers or pilots could see a vehicle's speed projected onto the windshield. Video-game companies could use the contact lenses to completely immerse players in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion. And for communications, people on the go could surf the Internet on a midair virtual display screen that only they would be able to see.

"People may find all sorts of applications for it that we have not thought about. Our goal is to demonstrate the basic technology and make sure it works and that it's safe," said Parviz, who heads a multi-disciplinary UW group that is developing electronics for contact lenses.

I have 2 problems with this.

  1. They are testing them on rabbits. In this day and age, we can't simulate eyeballs to the point where we know it's at least safe enough for a human being to put it on their eyeball for short periods of time? We need to subject furry rodents to the tests?
  2. The article states "Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes". Besides the Bionic Woman being a tv show and not a movie (unless you count the made for television reunion movies), the Bionic Woman never had bionic eyes. That was the 6 Million Dollar Man. The Bionic Woman had a bionic ear with which she could hear everything. Unless, ofc, they're referring to the new Bionic Woman show where basically everything she has is bionic. Considering the show blows so much, i really feel it ought not be counted. Also, not a movie.

By min | November 11, 2008, 3:46 PM | Science| Link

The Good News: We've Found a Potential Cure For AIDS

The bad news: it might kill about 30% of you.

The startling case of an AIDS patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia is stirring new hope that gene-therapy strategies on the far edges of AIDS research might someday cure the disease.

The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with AIDS. Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days.


...[R]esearchers discovered that some gay men astonishingly remained uninfected despite engaging in very risky sex with as many as hundreds of partners. These men had inherited a mutation from both their parents that made them virtually immune to HIV.

The mutation prevents a molecule called CCR5 from appearing on the surface of cells. CCR5 acts as a kind of door for the virus. Since most HIV strains must bind to CCR5 to enter cells, the mutation bars the virus from entering. A new AIDS drug, Selzentry, made by Pfizer Inc., doesn't attack HIV itself but works by blocking CCR5.

About 1% of Europeans, and even more in northern Europe, inherit the CCR5 mutation from both parents. People of African, Asian and South American descent almost never carry it.

Dr. Hutter, 39, remembered this research when his American leukemia patient failed first-line chemotherapy in 2006. He was treating the patient at Berlin's Charite Medical University, the same institution where German physician Robert Koch performed some of his groundbreaking research on infectious diseases in the 19th century. Dr. Hutter scoured research on CCR5 and consulted with his superiors.

Finally, he recommended standard second-line treatment: a bone marrow transplant -- but from a donor who had inherited the CCR5 mutation from both parents. Bone marrow is where immune-system cells are generated, so transplanting mutant bone-marrow cells would render the patient immune to HIV into perpetuity, at least in theory.


Caveats are legion. If enough time passes, the extraordinarily protean HIV might evolve to overcome the mutant cells' invulnerability. Blocking CCR5 might have side effects: A study suggests that people with the mutation are more likely to die from West Nile virus. Most worrisome: The transplant treatment itself, given only to late-stage cancer patients, kills up to 30% of patients. While scientists are drawing up research protocols to try this approach on other leukemia and lymphoma patients, they know it will never be widely used to treat AIDS because of the mortality risk.

Although it's not likely to be used as a treatment, it's a major breakthrough in treatment and eventually a cure. I was starting to believe that all these foundations who claim to do research to find cures for diseases (cancer, aids, etc.) weren't doing jack since the money's in the treatment, not the cure. As they say, the last thing we cured was polio. Mebbe it's still true. Afterall, this was discovered in Berlin, not the States.

By min | November 11, 2008, 3:36 PM | Science| Link

Everybody Loves Nate

He "was a numbers fanatic," said his father, Brian Silver, a political science professor at Michigan State University.

"When we took him to preschool one time, we dropped him off, and he announced, 'Today, I'm a numbers machine,' and started counting," Brian Silver said. "When we picked him up two and a half hours later, he was 'Two thousand one hundred and twenty-two, two thousand one hundred and twenty-three."'

By kindergarten, he could multiply two-digit numbers in his head.

By 11, he was conducting multivariate analysis to figure out if the size of a baseball stadium affects attendance. By age 13, he was using statistics to manage a fantasy baseball team. When his parents refused to buy him computer games, he taught himself the Basic programming language and made his own.


Like many, i religiously checked Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site twice a day (once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and ok, i admit it, sometimes before bed, too), everyday for the last several months to get the latest on election poll numbers. My favorite part was watching the pie chart representing McCain's win percentage go up and down a tenth of a percentage. That and the scatterplots. Who doesn't love scatterplots? Thank god for computer graphing programs. It sucked having to actually figure out the line graph based on scatterplot data.

It was pretty clear based on his site that Nate Silver's a big nerd. After reading this International Herald Tribune article, i now see that Nate Silver is a big, nerdy genius.

Btw, he's started on 2010 Senate races over at his site. I'm staying far, far away.

By min | November 11, 2008, 10:50 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

November 10, 2008

People Who Have Forums Who Shouldn't Even Be Allowed to Use Resources

Let alone get to host a radio talk show.

On the November 6 broadcast of The War Room with Quinn & Rose, co-host Jim Quinn compared "slave[s] in the Old South" to welfare recipients today, stating that the "difference" is that "[t]he slave had to work for" the benefits Quinn said they received. Quinn said: "You know, if you were a slave in the old South, what did you get as a slave? You got free room and board, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children because that was just, you know, tomorrow's slave. So, you got a free house, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children. Can I ask a question? How's that different from welfare? You get a free house, you get free food, and you get rewarded for having children. Oh, wait a minute, hold on a second. There is a difference: The slave had to work for it." The show then aired an audio clip of a buzzer sounding and a voice repeating, "Insensitivity!" Quinn then stated: "Ah, the truth stings, does it not?"


This on the heels of a conservative Polish lawmaker stating Obama's win of the presidency signals the "end of white civilization" (don't worry. he says he didn't mean that in a racist way) should decisively answer the moronic question of whether or not Obama's presidency marks the "end of racism".

By min | November 10, 2008, 3:17 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link


Now that this election is finally over, we can get back to things that are really important.

By min | November 10, 2008, 9:40 AM | Cute Things & Ummm... Other?| Link

November 7, 2008

Recap #21

Land Shark, Ho!

By min | November 7, 2008, 12:48 PM | D&D| Link

November 6, 2008

Making them do it


I was reading through the comment section of a few posts this morning (something I rarely can bring myself to do anymore) and I realized that I need to remind people of something that's very important for successful governance:

FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."

He understood that a President does not rule by fiat and unilateral commands to a nation. He must build the political support that makes his decisions acceptable to our countrymen. He read the public opinion polls not to define who he was but to determine where the country was - and then to strategize how he could move the country to the objectives he thought had to be carried out.

If Obama wants to govern as liberally as the political circumstances allow, then we need to work to make sure that the political circumstances include a strong liberal base. Mindlessly cheerleading out of a misplaced sense of loyalty will not help him. As Roosevelt understood, politics are interlocking interests and constituencies that have to be brought to bear to achieve certain goals.

In the current political world, I believe that Obama and the Democrats need a strong left wing that is out there agitating in order that we can continue to build popular support and also give them a political excuse to do things that the political establishment finds too liberal. Being cheerleaders all the time, however enjoyable that is, is not going to help them. Leaving them out there with no left wing cripples them.

By fnord12 | November 6, 2008, 3:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link


By fnord12 | November 6, 2008, 2:44 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Kick by White Rose Movement

Push my foot through the door
So it don't close anymore
Water - you speak endless water
Sounds like nothing at all
Punch and Judas in tandem
Puppet or partisan

Speak of the truth
I don't think you ever do
It's all so crude
Don't say gone

Calibrated Arkela
Wings of Guardian
Chose a terminal doom
I said, "Are you my kind?"
I said, "Are you my kind?"

Jewels in your eyes
You're beautiful when you cry
Makes me die
Don't say gone

By min | November 6, 2008, 10:27 AM | Music| Link

November 4, 2008

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | November 4, 2008, 2:54 PM | Comics| Link

I'm Voting For Nader

Yes. That's right. I said it. I'm voting for Nader this year. He has absolutely no chance of winning. I'm still doing it.

But Obama's the best candidate we've had since FDR, you say. That may well be true. He's definitely intelligent (see my Is It Sexism? post for my thoughts on our current prez's little gray cell capacity). He's absolutely a fantastic orator. He seems on track with his stump speech on providing relief for the middle class and taxing rich people more. And ferchrissakes, it's a momentous occasion. He could be our first black president. I pretty much agree with all of this.

I'm still not voting for him. He's a centrist. I'm a liberal/leftist/progressive. Sure, he's been pegged as a liberal. Relatively speaking, when you're as far right as the Republicans have gone, the center would seem liberal. And that's really the crux of why i'm not voting for Obama.

For decades, the conservatives have been pulling the center further from the actual center and more to the right. Now centrists like the Democrats are labelled "liberals" and liberals are "radicals". Except, when you take abortion out of the equation, many moderate conservatives share very similar opinions on social programs, the economy, and healthcare with these supposedly liberal Dems. Where the majority of the nation share the same ideologies is where the center should be, not some contrived location on the GOP home turf that the GOP has browbeated everyone into excepting lest they brand you a "liberal" (dun da dun!). So, my vote is in one part an effort to tug back on the left to help bring it back to equilibrium.

Obama might be an inspiring candidate and definitely one of the best i've seen, but he doesn't share all of my ideals, and i'm not falling for the "lesser of two evils" mentality that we've been conditioned to believe with our two-party system. I want the Democrats to remember that there are people here on the left of center who have a voice and have the power to vote and that they can't just worry about appeasing the right of center voters, sure that we on the left will always vote Democratic because we have no other viable option. Yes, that's right, it's a protest vote.

For those of you confident that an Obama presidency will be a breath of fresh air, let me remind you that he supported reauthorizing the Patriot Act and voted for FISA.

Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay.

That's not a Bush operative saying it. That's your liberal, Democratic presidential nominee.

He voted in favor of building a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico and supports the guest worker program which sounded to me more like an indentured servitude program than anything.

Immigrants are still susceptible to exploitation under the bill at key points in their U.S. work experience: when they are first being recruited to work in the United States and must compete with other workers for a limited number of visas; when they fear losing their jobs because it means losing legal status in the country after a period of unemployment; and when they are asking an employer to sponsor them for early green card eligibility. The opportunities for employers to exert excessive power over immigrant employees at these junctures has the potential to shape their entire U.S. work experiences, rendering them unable to exercise their rights effectively and to advance in the workplace. So much for enhanced labor rights for immigrants, and so much for the effort to prevent exploitation that drives down wages and working conditions for U.S. workers.

Equally troubling is the way that, as a formal government program, McCain-Kennedy institutionalizes guest workers' second-class status, marking them as a group that, for all the attempts to enforce labor law, remains more vulnerable and less secure than the mainstream of American workers. While McCain-Kennedy creates a path to full citizenship for guest workers that is currently blocked off, the existence of the program ensures that there will always be more temporary, disposable workers to take their place.

Obama supports "clean coal" as a viable alternative to our oil dependence. What the hell is clean coal? How can coal be clean? Well, according to Wikipedia, it's using technology to clean up the emissions you normally get from processing/burning coal. This leads me to the question: and where does the waste go instead?

"Clean coal" methods only move pollutants from one waste stream to another which are then still released into the environment. Any time coal is burnt, contaminants are released and they have to go somewhere. They can be released via the fly ash, the gaseous air emissions, water outflow or the ash left at the bottom after burning. Ultimately, they still end up polluting the environment.

Obama has also claimed to be ok with offshore drilling. It's a statistical impossibility that offshore drilling could be 100% safe for the environment. Any drilling would have risks of spillage and leaks, not to mention wastes from the operation. Oh, and hey, what about hurricanes? At least on land, it can be somewhat contained. Oil can only seep through the soil and groundwater at a certain rate. You've got a) more time to react and b) some hope of recapturing most of what you spilled. In the ocean, your spill is going to be swept away by the current immediately. You may be able to contain some of it eventually, but it could never be enough. You could never recapture all of it.

Then there's Israel. Every politician knows it's political suicide if you don't show immediate and strong support for Israel. And Obama has done his best to vocalize how much he is a friend of Israel. Now, look, i'm not saying it's wrong to support Israel's bid for survival. I'm just saying they're not completely free of blame for the situation between them and Palestine. There's no reason why an Israeli shouldn't be able to sit down at a cafe and have a cup of coffee without being afraid a suicide bomber might run up at any moment. But i think it's a very complicated situation and there are no good guys and bad guys. I think each side has a legitimate claim and each side has done their share of heinous acts. So, to simplify it into "I support Israel" doesn't do justice to the complexity and seriousness of the situation, and it's disappointing to see yet another politician dutifully recite the meme.

And finally, universal healthcare. Obama's plan is better than what we have now, granted. But it's not healthcare for everyone. And my fear is that having been tossed this bone, the push for universal healthcare will die a quiet death. Like most things, when there is no pain point, there is no effort made to change.

In voting for Nader, i know i might have to suffer some criticisms of having "thrown my vote away" on that "spoiler" Nader. My response to that is what gives the Democrats the right to assume they have my vote without working for it? I'm not even being "brave". New Jersey is a safe win for Obama. I don't know what i would do if i lived in a swing state like Florida or Virginia. I don't know that i wouldn't get behind the "lesser of two evils" in order to help prevent a McCain win. In 2004, i voted for Milksop Kerry in the hopes of preventing a second Bush term. I've since regretted that i didn't vote for Nader then, as well, because that vote for Kerry went against all the reasons i stated earlier in this post on what i believe my vote means.

I know that the tiny portion of the votes Nader will win today will be nothing more than a blip when compared to the millions of voters coming out for Obama. It doesn't matter. What's important is that blip is there, and the Democrats know that the blip isn't going away, and there will be a pull from the left as well as the right, and we will not be complacent in our relief that finally we have someone in power who's not George W. Bush.

So, this year, i'm giving up my chance to be one of the many who cast their historic vote for the first black president in order to stick to my ideals, misguided or otherwise.

By min | November 4, 2008, 12:29 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life| Link

Is It Sexism?

For the last few weeks, there's been non-stop chatter about the backlash against Palin because of the moronic things she says. Her constant displays of ignorance have been cited as the reasons why public opinion polls are showing 59% think she is unprepared to be the VP. She's actually polling worse than Dan Quayle did back in the 80s.

Ok, she's pretty dumb and completely not interested in learning about the things of which she currently has no knowledge. She didn't even have the wit to make up an answer when Katie Couric asked her what she read. That's sad. And flubbing the "what does a VP do" question when anyone could have predicted she'd be asked (it had been highly publicized that 3 months earlier she'd said she had no idea what a VP's job was, ferchrissakes) - were her handlers trying to lose the election?

But what the hell? George Bush is a mental midget of similar proportions, and they let him be President! You think Palin's more incurious than Cowboy Brushbeater (henh henh henh)? I grant you that when asked what he reads, he was able to answer that "gotcha" question. I credit his having an answer more to his handlers having prepped him better than to any intellectual prowess on Bush's part. I don't actually believe he reads. As a member of the Bush empire, i would suppose he's been coached all his life on how to speak. Sarah's not stupider. She just didn't have as much tutoring.

Josh Marshall of TPM apparently disagrees on who got hit with the bigger stupid stick:

"What about George Bush?" Sorry but there's no comparison. Whatever else I think of him, he's not a moron. And while he appears to be astoundingly incurious, there's simply no comparison to Palin.

I don't see how there's no comparison. Just look at the man. In the face of disaster or crisis, he's usually somewhere else with a stupid expression on his face. In the face of rising fuel prices, he was surprised by what was, by that time, common knowledge.

"Wait, what did you just say?" the president interrupted. "You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"

Maer responded: "A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline."

Bush's rejoinder: "Oh, yeah? That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

That's interesting?? I hadn't heard that???

Really, Josh? Mr. Magic Wand is less moronic than Bible Spice? I'm sorry, but that dog won't hunt.

So, what is it that is making her so idiocy so unpalatable? It can't be that John McCain is old and there's a chance she might step into the presidency. As i pointed out, we elected the village idiot for president twice already. Been there, done that.

Is it because we've had 8 years of President Braintrust that the electorate is unwilling to go through it a second time? That would assume the population has the ability to learn from its mistakes. I'm not really willing to concede that it does.

Well, you say, Nukular George might be an idiot, but everyone knew he was going to be surrounded by people who knew what they were doing (see: Iraq Invasion), so no big deal. He's just the puppet leader. Wouldn't any McCain/Palin government be surrounded by the same types of geniuses? Wouldn't they also too have offices full of advisors to help them come to the "right" conclusions? Should anything untoward happen to McCain, Palin would have no less than five former Secretaries of State to advise her - Kissinger, Eagleburger, Schultz,....uh..... Roosevelt, Roosevelt......and Manny.

Thus, i'm left with thinking all the hoohah is because she's a woman. Mebbe they're more concerned about her ability to think because they have an underlying belief that women aren't as smart as men to start with. She's already got a handicap (hormones), so she can't also be dumb. It's ok if she's just window dressing (e.g. First Lady Laura Stepford Wife Bush), but if you're going to do something crazy like put a woman in charge, she's got to meet a higher standard of competence. Bush might be a moron, but at least he's a man, by God!

Mebbe the McCain campaign should be less concerned over the "sexism" of criticizing her $150,000 shopping spree and more concerned about the sexism that's making her idiocy more important than Bush's.

"Our Sarah's No Stupider Than W! McCain '08!" Woo!

By min | November 4, 2008, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link


It was called the "Eat Our Leftover Halloween Candy" party, but i can tell you that there is still waaaay too much candy in our house.

By fnord12 | November 4, 2008, 10:49 AM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link


We've finally built our MAME machine / arcade cabinet. We've basically been done since the end of the summer (we worked on it all summer long) but never made the final finishing touches until recently as we cleaned up our house for our Halloween party. Anyway, here it is:

In addition to running MAME (basically every game that's been in the arcade up to around 2005), it runs a bunch of other emulators including the Daphne laserdisc emulator, a pinball emulator, a Marvel Superheroes Mugen, and of course all the old console emulators: Pong, Atari, Intellivision, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and some other sundries. It's mainly for MAME, though.

The control panel allows for four players, or alternatively the third and fourth player joysticks, which have top fire buttons, can be used for two player dual joystick games. For single player dual joystick games like Robotron you're going to want to use the classic balltops, of course. There's also two spinners and a trackball. And there's gas pedal and light gun attachments.

Min and i actually built something! We are reasonably proud. The Making Of page is coming soon.

By fnord12 | November 4, 2008, 10:20 AM | Video Games| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

X-Force #8 - Well, i'm glad for the change in artist, if only so that a certain someone may judge the writing without having to get past the computer generated art. Right? C'mon, this is good stuff. It makes great use of past X-stories, even really bad ones. I thought the way they handled the Vanisher, setting up little ambushes in each of his safehouses, was pretty clever as well.

Avengers: The Initiative #18 - Min blew the ending of this for me, but i thought it was the Skrulls that would kill Devil Slayer so there was still some surprise when he just keeled over. Probably more of a surprise than if i had just read it without spoils. So has "Thor-Girl" always been a Skrull? I was thinking about how this book has more or less been hijacked by the Skrull Kill Krew, but i don't have a problem with it. It really should just be called Marvel Universe and let Gage and Slott write about whatever characters they want.

Nova #18 - I hope it's not too late to make Can O' Quasar a power-up in Ultimate Alliance 2. Great visualization of the Worldmind as well. With 20/20 hindsight that's exactly what he should look like (and maybe even has appeared as such in old issues), but i had always kind of thought of the computer as female. I'll have to go back and re-read this series with this warped old Xandarian's voice in my head now. Min demanded that i tell her where the new Nova Corp at the end of this issue came from, as if Abnett & Lanning are consulting with me as they write their plots (most writers should, by the way, but i'd let these guys run on their own; they're doing fine).

Hercules #122 - This book is so much fun it was kind of a buzz kill when the Atlantean soldiers got killed. The grinning Hercules panel, and Cho's subsequent face, were just hilarious. This continues to be a super-great book, maybe even my favorite at this point, despite all that nipple biting on the cover.

By fnord12 | November 4, 2008, 7:30 AM | Comics| Link

November 3, 2008

SwiftJews for Truth

I'm not judging, i'm just saying...

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

By min | November 3, 2008, 8:39 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Compressed Air Vehicle

Next in the wave of futuristic, alternative fuel cars - the Air Pod.

Shiva Vencat heads the United States operations of M.D.I. under the name Zero Pollution Motors. "We initially designed the car to run only on compressed air," he said. "But people had an issue with the range of 50 to 60 miles. The heater, which can burn ethanol, vegetable oil or other fuels, warms up the air, increases its volume, and extends the range. It has a viscosity sensor so it can adjust to whatever fuel you put into it."

Mr. Vencat said the six-passenger, fiberglass-and-foam-bodied air car will sell for $18,000 to $20,000 in the United States. He added that M.D.I. has more than 300 investors and has sold the rights to build 40 plants around the world. He envisions a network of small $20 million factories, each building cars at a rate of one every half hour. Plants in the United States will open in late 2010 or early 2011, he said, with the first possibly located in Newburgh, N.Y. Then again, back in 2000, Mr. Nègre said he would be building cars in 2001.

Zero Pollution Motors claims that the new and improved air car can now leapfrog any known battery technology. The company's Web site says, in fact, that its pneumatic vehicle can travel 848 miles (with the equivalent of 106 miles per gallon) on one tank of air, though an asterisk indicates this is "estimated performance and subject to change."

It reminds me of the Isetta that was featured in the musical Funny Face (i think the Germans nicknaming the Isetta the "coffin car" kinda says it all).

On the one hand, it seems ideal for short trips to the supermarket or to pick up your takeout. On the other hand, it sounds pretty shady that you could run a vehicle on compressed air alone. As the commenters have pointed out, where are you getting the energy to compress the air in the first place?

By min | November 3, 2008, 8:30 AM | Science| Link

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