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April 30, 2012

Hulu Misses the Point of Hulu

From The Mary Sue (who i'm still pissed off at for the whole "We panned Sucker Punch without actually watching it or taking the time to understand what the movie was actually about" debacle):

Hulu provides ad-supported content in the way of clips and full television shows and films to users. They also proved a paid subscriction service that still has ads but with more content. They also recently started airing original programming. But according to a NY Post report, Hulu is moving toward an "authentication" model. In other words, you'll already have to have a cable television subscription in order to use the service.

I'm pretty sure the point of Hulu is for people who don't have cable or satellite to watch TV. How is Hulu missing that? If i already have cable, i prolly have a DVR or TIVO. What the hell would i need Hulu for then?

What I think might happen as a result of an authentication model is viewers getting desperate. Hulu is a free and legal service, forcing people to pay, especially if it's not going to Hulu itself, could lead to some resorting to illegal means to procure shows. The other thing to consider is the legality of making someone subscribe to a cable provider in order to watch something from, let's say, NBC, which is free to begin with.

As a commenter points out, it's like they want you to steal stuff. Jerks.

By min | April 30, 2012, 6:48 PM | TeeVee| Link

Tide rising, all boats not floating

Larry Mishel via Paul Krugman.

Wages vs. Productivity

This is outside the context of our current economic crisis, but it's important to remember that when we say "real wages have been flat or in decline since the 1970s", it's not because the country isn't generating wealth. It's just a question of where that wealth is going. 90% tax rates on marginal income* used to ensure that our government was properly funded and also that there wasn't an incentive to pay CEOs 300+ times the average worker's compensation.

*Everyone knows what this means, right? It doesn't mean you pay 90% of your income in taxes. Here's an example.

By fnord12 | April 30, 2012, 3:16 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 29, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Daredevil #11 - So that's the end of the Omega Effect crossover? Did anyone notice that the Omegadrive plotline wasn't actually resolved? That was kind of disappointing. I think there's also a fine line between amusing and annoying for Spider-Man, and by this issue we were beginning to cross it. Still enjoying Waid's Daredevil run, but i think it's time to wrap up this storyline.

Uncanny X-Men #11 - I've liked what i've read of Gillen, but i initially passed on his X-Men because i didn't want to get dragged into the next X-Event. The jokes on me, though, because the next X-Event was Avengers vs X-Men, so i got dragged in from the Avengers side anyway. Then i saw this issue's cover featured in a House Ad, and i'm a sucker for a Hulk vs. Juggernaut fight, so this was no-brainer, even if the Hulk is really General Ross and the Juggernaut is really Colossus. So i had high hopes going into this. But i should have factored in the fact that all of these tie-in books are designed to do nothing, so we just got a bunch of random narration about people's feelings. This is why everyone hates crossovers nowadays. What there was of the Rulk/Colossonaut fight was pretty disappointing. It's partially that was just 6 pages, and that those 6 pages had less content than (grumpy old man mode ahead) you'd get in two pages of, say, the Rogue/Nimrod fight from Uncanny X-Men #194 back in 1985. It's also that instead of just being a Hulk/Juggernaut fight, Colossus had to turn into some big dumb demon thing. Which no one buying this book on the basis of the cover or out of interest in the crossover wants to see. So i know it's probably not a fair judgement of Gillen's run on this title, but i don't think i'll be sticking around.

New Avengers #25 - I'm not sure about the implications of this issue, but i know that i'm glad we went to Veggie Heaven this weekend, because this story put me in the mood for House Special Dragon & Phoenix in brown sauce.

Captain America #10 - I feel like it's been a long while since i last read this book, but i see i reviewed the previous issue on March 18th. Maybe it's just that every other book has been double-shipping lately. Anyway, Brubaker, Davis, Kirby Madbomb, Machinesmith, etc., so i'm happy. This is kind of a random comment, but this plotline, and previous "Cap de-powered" storylines, kind of ruin my idea that Captain America isn't really a super-steroid user. I was thinking that we could say that the super-serum gave him a one-time boost to "peak" human, but since then it's all been Cap exercising, training, eating right, etc, to maintain his form. But if his strength can just be turned off like a switch by nano-technology, then he really does have super-powers. Oh well, not a problem with this issue; just a random general observation.

By fnord12 | April 29, 2012, 9:41 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

April 27, 2012

You could always go the Kirby route and just make a crazy movie about midgets and teleporting frog statues

Pondering a Black Panther film.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 4:03 PM | Comics & Movies| Link

While i'm getting pictures off my phone

Min's parents had this bottle in their house. We didn't ask what it was. We didn't want to be invited to share their bottle of sadness.

100% Pure Tears of Orphans

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 2:21 PM | My stupid life & Ummm... Other?| Link

It came from below

Mr. Gnome is lazy, so when a plant started growing underneath him, he did absolutely nothing about it.

The Gnome Bush in Gnome-man's Land

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 2:15 PM | My stupid life| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Punisher #10 - Spidey was funny, but this was missing some of the energy from the Marvel Team-Up issue. Also, it finally hit me... the good guys plan is to destroy the hard drive? Waitbutwhy? Give it to SHIELD!

New Mutants #41 - We're back to the previous artist and i don't love him. He's generally ok, especially for a casual fun downtime issue like this, but when people smile it's like they've been possessed by the devil.



I do like his Warlock, though, and there were fun scenes with him and in general.

X-Factor #234 - I can definitively say i wouldn't be getting this book if i wasn't contractually obligated. It's not bad... it's just kind of blah.

Avengers vs. X-Men #2 - This is pure fanboy fun and i'm loving it. Red Hulk vs Colossonaut. Magik zapping Dr. Strange to Limbo, where's she's the sorceress supreme. Iron Man taking out Emma Frost and resisting Magneto's powers. Captain America repeatedly love-tapping Cyclops and essentially saying "Please don't make me hurt you for real." I mean, there's no plot, so i don't know how the rest of this series will go, but i had fun.

Avengers #25 - I want to start by making it clear right now that i'll never be trying to sync up the fight scenes depicted in this issue with the main AvX series. Here we have Colossus decking Iron Man (which would be a cool fight) and Captain America decking Magneto (seems unlikely), and more, and while i'm sure there's a way to make those moments scene fit into the main story, i'm not going to try. Let's get my complaints out of the way as well: we know that Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are dating; they don't need to start making out now every time they're on the same page for two panels. And is that actually Spider-Woman? It's a weird look for her. I also don't love this idea that AIM's love of science somehow makes it a quasi-religion. It should be quite the opposite, in fact, and having their new leader meditating in a rose garden doesn't work for me. If you're going to use AIM, play up the science angle. Plenty of other groups out there if you want a religious cult. All that said, Avengers vs. AIM is fun, the Iron Man/"Protector" dynamic is done well enough, and Kree angle on the Phoenix arrival could be interesting.

Thunderbolts #173 - So the "meeting the original team" plot is a great way to show how some characters have grown - especially Fixer - in addition to setting up some nice fights. I have some geeky half-baked concerns about the "raid Dr. Doom's castle" scheme; i'm fairly certain i remember reading a post-Onslaught X-Force comic where SHIELD secured the castle to prevent exactly something like this from happening, but of course it's an alternate timeline plus maybe that just hasn't happened yet and/or we'll see where it actually goes next issue. And whatever happens when this book becomes Dark Avengers, i hope we can have a break-out Mr. Hyde and Troll series.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 1:51 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Wasteful government spending

From Ezra Klein's Wonkblog:

Federally-funded research of dog urine ultimately gave scientists and understanding of the effect of hormones on the human kidney, which in turn has been helpful for diabetes patients. A study called "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig" resulted in treatment of early hearing loss in infants. And that randy screwworm study? It helped researchers control the population of a deadly parasite that targets cattle--costing the government $250,000 but ultimately saving the cattle industry more than $20 billion, according to Cooper's office.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 1:41 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link

April 26, 2012

Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times

Via Balloon Juice:

In 2005, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is "virtue". The New Republic wrote:

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."

Ryan also noted in a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, "I give out 'Atlas Shrugged' as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well... I try to make my interns read it."


"I reject her philosophy," Ryan says firmly. "It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas," who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. "Don't give me Ayn Rand," he says.

I guess someone's getting ready to run for President in 2016.

By fnord12 | April 26, 2012, 5:02 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Hulk times a hundred equals a headache

So min and i were saying maybe we shouldn't have skipped on Pak's Incredible Hulk series featuring Bruce Banner and his son Skaar. But when i went to add the issues to my want list on mycomicshop, i got a little lost. There are too many Hulks! Too many Hulk characters! Too many Hulk books! Too many Hulk events! And too many one-shots (Fall of the Hulks Gamma?). How is anybody supposed to follow this stuff? And worse... some of these comics are written by Jeph Loeb!

I guess i'll stick with Incredible Hulk #601-611 for now and then see if i need to expand outward.

By fnord12 | April 26, 2012, 2:36 PM | Comics| Link

April 25, 2012

But the Oaks Can't Help Their Feelings

The maples saw this coming all along. Soon, we'll be living under the yoke of our oak masters.

The study, just published in the journal Tree Physiology, shows that common native red oak seedlings grow as much as eight times faster in New York's Central Park than in more rural, cooler settings in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Red oaks and their close relatives dominate areas ranging from northern Virginia to southern New England, so the study may have implications for changing climate and forest composition over a wide region.

By min | April 25, 2012, 1:48 PM | Science| Link

April 24, 2012

Because i am a Social(Security)-ist

I'm sure i don't count as one of Kevin Drum's fellow lefties, but i want to disagree with this:

On a related note, I'm going to annoy a few of my fellow lefties and say that we should stop getting bent out of shape when people respond to the Trustees report by saying that Social Security is "going bankrupt" or "running dry" or some similar formulation. There's a hyperlegalistic sense in which this isn't accurate, but honestly, it would be a helluva dramatic event if the trust fund ran out of money and Social Security suddenly had to slash benefits by 25% in 2033 (see chart above). Referring to this as "bankruptcy" isn't all that big a rhetorical stretch, and everyone on both left and right should put away their fainting couches, ditch all the tired excuses, and get to work on a fix that would involve -- say it in unison, folks! -- a very modest and phased-in cut in benefits combined with a very modest and phased-in increase in taxes. This isn't a hard problem.

The key point here is that if we do nothing we'll be seeing a reduction in benefits by 2033. Kevin Drum thinks we should solve that problem in part by... reducing benefits. Presumably less than would happen automatically, but nonetheless, i see no reason to codify it. It fact, i actually favor less modest tax increase coupled with an increase in benefits. A lot of old people really rely on this money and it's not really enough now. Reducing the amount social security pays out would not be a joke, and we can afford to increase it.

By fnord12 | April 24, 2012, 1:27 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

The Bear Chair

See there.

Wait a minute... that bear has six legs.  Like a bug.  It's a BUGBEAR!

By fnord12 | April 24, 2012, 12:16 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link

April 22, 2012

The original, British, Rocket Raccoon

In the spirit of what i did for the Femizon story in Savage Tales #1, here's another comic that's only vaguely in continuity and which i don't actually own, so i'll look at it here instead of in my timeline project.

I recently read the Mantlo/Mignola Rocket Raccoon mini-series and read in the text piece at the end of issue #1 that Rocket's first appearance wasn't Hulk #271. He previously appeared in Marvel's black & white magazine Marvel Preview #7 (actually the afterword incorrectly says it's issue #16, but there are no raccoons in that issue).

I don't own that issue and probably never will, so i took a peek and, well... i'm not so sure it should count.

The story (by Bill Mantlo) in issue #7 is actually a continuation of a series called The Sword In the Star. The first installment appeared in Marvel Preview #4 (which was also, incidentally, the first appearance of Star-Lord). The story is introduced as the Odyssey in space, basically. The intro also indicates that it takes place in the "distant future". Comments in the issue itself put it about fifteen thousand years forward, in fact. Beyond that, the details of issue #4 aren't important to our Raccoon history. The next (and final) installment of the series was in issue #7, and that's where the main character, Prince Wayfinder, meets "Rocky".

Cor, you bloody well couldn't cram in more stereotypical British slang into these bleedin' panels if you tried, mate.

I guess it's worth noting this issue was published for Summer 1976, well before Yoda tormented Luke in Empire Strikes Back.

Art is by "talented newcomer" Keith Giffin.

He's a raccoon, so he really does mean 'grub'.

His name really is Rocky.

I... I'm glad you told me.  I was sure you were a hyper-evolved wolverine.

And while the Rocket Raccoon we know and love has never gone by that nickname, the biggest discrepancy is his manner of speaking.

'One should look before one plucks' just never made it into Bartlett's Quotations, for some reason.

On the other hand, like our Rocket, he does have a love for firepower.

That thing has fire shooting out of its shoulder pads.  That is AWESOME!

The story ends on a cliffhanger, and it's never continued.

The pilgrims didn't do their job.

Now, at the end of the Rocket Raccoon mini-series, Rocket Raccoon leaves his home planet for the first time. And more importantly, this storyline takes place in the future. So if this is the same character, it must take place after the mini-series, and probably involves time travel. Or alternatively, it's one of Rocket Raccoon's great-great-super-great descendants. Good fodder for a future Abnett & Lanning story, maybe. But either way, as far as i'm concerned, Hulk #271 is still Rocket Raccoon's first chronological appearance.

By fnord12 | April 22, 2012, 11:16 AM | Comics| Link

April 20, 2012

Brain Damage to Blame for Puns

From io9

Witzelsucht is a mental disorder that causes the sufferer to compulsively make inappropriate jokes or puns -- all the time. The condition is generally a result of a stroke in (or an injury to) the orbitofrontal region on the right side of the brain.

So.....do you think we can all claim some sort of disability?

By min | April 20, 2012, 5:10 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

Sometimes you just have to move the plot along

I've never turned my party into mice, but i can't say it won't happen in the future.

No you didn't! You didn't actually say that you were casting the spell so now you're a mouse, ok?

By fnord12 | April 20, 2012, 2:41 PM | Comics & D&D| Link

I'd make much better deals with God

I recently discovered, and was reminded during my morning drive today, that for years i had been "improving" Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill.

Actual lyrics:

And if I only could
I'd make a deal with God
And I'd get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building

My mondegreen:

And if I only could
I'd make a deal with God
And I'd get him to swallow places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building

Clearly, that's why you're running up that hill. Because God is causing the very land you were standing in to sink into the ground. That's how much Kate Bush hates you for stealing that moment from her now (which is a great line that, for once, i seem to have heard correctly)(although i may be interpreting it wrong; i'm not sure if she's saying that to the person she's singing to, or quoting the person. i think it's the latter.).

By fnord12 | April 20, 2012, 10:31 AM | Music| Link

April 19, 2012

In which i discount the political opinions of everyone over the age of 65 and also make broad, unfounded assumptions

Via TPM, we have the latest FAIR report on the Sunday political talk shows:

Seventy percent of one-on-one interviews on the shows featured Republicans, according to the study. That's 166 Republican guests to 70 Democrats. For the roundtable discussions, Republicans and/or conservatives made 282 appearances to 164 by Democrats and progressives.

Obviously the study comes in the middle of a fierce Republican presidential election fight, with the only Democratic candidate currently occupying the White House. Michele Bachmann appeared on the shows 18 times, Rick Santorum appeared 16 times and Newt Gingrich appeared 13 times, according to the study. But tilt to the right isn't exclusive to a GOP primary. According to the study, the shows skewed right even during the 2004 election.

Partisanship aside, women made up just 29 percent of the shows' roundtable guests. Eighty-five percent of the guests were white, 11 percent were African American and 3 percent were Latino.

FAIR has been putting out stuff like this for years, and i'm glad that the more mainstream (!) TPM is focusing on it for once (it's also interesting that FAIR used to note the lack of representation of ideas outside the narrow Dem-Republican confines, e.g. no Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky or Ron Paul or Gary Johnson; now it's even narrower, apparently). I'm also sure in a day or two the Daily Howler will write a post telling us why these numbers are wrong (the fact that the study took place during the Republican primaries was certainly bad timing).

But my initial reaction on reading this was... who cares anymore? Does anyone under the age of 65 still watch these shows, and if so, are they at all convinceable? I don't think these shows are driving political opinions anymore. That's all happening right here on this blog the internet.

Maybe i'm wrong. And i know that one group that actually watches these shows (and cable news) a lot is the politicians themselves. But right now i say it's not a battle worth fighting anymore.

By fnord12 | April 19, 2012, 4:44 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 18, 2012

When will it be enough?

John Cole looks at the data on Florida's law requiring that welfare recipients pass a drug test. So far, the program has detected very few drug users and cost more money than it saved by knocking abusers out of the system.

Cole says that the point was never about saving money, but addressing the "somewhere, somehow, someone is unfairly getting government money" that seems to keep a lot of people up at night.

What if we could, at no taxpayer expense, have someone follow around every welfare recipient 24 hours a day and confirm that they were spending 8-10 hours per day looking for a job, and the rest of the time feeling sad about not having a job and never for a minute enjoying themselves? Would that be enough? Would we still have to fight every time we want to extend unemployment benefits while the unemployment rate is over 8%? Could we increase the benefit amount to something liveable? Or would we still want to punish these people for having the poor sense of living in a post-industrial economy that is in the middle of a prolonged depression?

By fnord12 | April 18, 2012, 5:28 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Dire Wolf, Knights, and Gatchaman Costumes

We were sitting on a school bus waiting for someone to come back. Some of the seats had been removed to accomodate a round table. Looking out the window towards the front of the bus, I saw a large, red fox (mostly its tail end) looking into a doorway directly in front of the bus.

Suddenly, it turned and ran past. A ginormous wolf came out of the doorway, catching the fox easily, killing it. As it carried its prey, it stopped by my window. It was so large, it could easily peer into the bus windows. It brought its snout right up to the glass and glared at me with glowing, yellow eyes, snarling, before continuing on.

Scaling the wall outside of the apartment building, I pulled out my marker, writing each person's grade on their window. Finished, I slid down the many stories to the ground. An alarm sounded. We needed to get to the shelter before the bombing started!

Chaos, people pouring out of buildings, running around. Everyone's Asian. Must have fallen into an Asian 70s film. I spotted friends. In a room, we sit speaking of nothing. Everyone is speaking in a different Chinese dialect, but we all understand each other.

Now we're in the mall after closing. The cleaning lady screams and runs. Men dressed like knights with light blue and silver surcoats round the corner. It's Agents Provocateurs!

One fires a rocket launcher. She doesn't dodge in time. Oof! It hits her right in the stomach, throwing her back into a wall. (For those of you who aren't lucky enough to see what I'm seeing, she's wearing a pink and white outfit. Skirt. Tall boots. Short cape. Helmet. Think Gatchman crossed with Power Rangers. It's what they're all wearing except this one chick...)

...Who gets sucked out of the hole in the wall made by the rocket. She manages to slow her descent by sliding on her boots down the column, but she can't save herself.

Don't worry, one of the pink chicks is roller skating down the column to reach her. That is, until one of the Agents comes up behind her and takes a shot. It hits her shoulder, the armored piece falling off in a small explosion.

And that's about when i woke up.

By min | April 18, 2012, 11:07 AM | My Dreams| Link

And that's not even getting into his writing "style"

Atrios has been celebrating ten years of blogging by writing up the Wankers of the Decade. He's gone through all the runner-ups, and now here's the #1 wanker: Thomas Friedman.

By fnord12 | April 18, 2012, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Burn Down Your Home and Move to Cuenca!

I've found the place fnord12 and i are going to retire to. Cuenca, Ecuador.

Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city in an interesting and diverse country. The health care is high quality, honest, and inexpensive. The climate is spring-like and pleasant 12 months of the year. And Cuenca's large and growing expat community is one of Latin America's most diverse and well-blended.

There are other colonial cities in Ecuador, but Cuenca is the cultural heart of the country. In this center of art and literature, you can attend the orchestra, a play, a tango show, or an art opening, and these activities are usually free.

Cuenca is also a popular destination for international tourists and language students, offering many super-affordable options to study Spanish. The tourists and students bring vitality to the city and help support Cuenca's developed infrastructure for amenities and services.

However, perhaps the biggest draw to Cuenca is its cost of living, which is extremely low, especially considering the quality of life that you find here. The falling dollar has caused prices to go up sharply for overseas retirees whose retirement incomes are denominated in U.S. dollars, but who are living in places where goods are priced in the local currency. But this exchange-rate concern does not exist in Cuenca, because Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar.


To be able to enjoy all that the city has to offer, plan on a budget of $1,500 a month per couple if you're renting and $1,100 per month if you own your home. You could certainly live here for less, but these estimates will allow you to make the most of your new life in Cuenca.

I, ofc, immediately told fnord12 about this great find. He sent me a list of vegetarian/veg-friendly restaurants in the city.

But not before raining on my parade by bringing up a near coup in 2010.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa was holed up in Quito on Thursday afternoon after being attacked by police angered over changes to their job benefits.

In the aftermath of that attack, police across the country revolted, a state of emergency was declared, and flights into the country were canceled. While what exactly is going on in the Ecuadorian capital is still being sorted out, some fear the South American nation could be witnessing its second coup in a decade.

Also pointing out there was a military dictatorship as recently as 1979.

To which I respond - No Mosquitoes!!!!

By min | April 18, 2012, 10:48 AM | My stupid life| Link

April 16, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Winter Soldier #4 - What the--? Last issue promised "Gorilla madness!". This is not gorilla madness. I did manage to locate three hazy, sketchy panels with gorillas towards the end of the story, but i would not qualify anything going on there as madness. The only madness is that you have a story whose plot is Dr. Doom vs Super-Apes and four issues in, it has delivered exactly no Dr. Doom vs. Super-Apes. I'll grant a decent Dr. Doom vs Doombot fight, but that's about it. The art in this comic is just inexcusable. There's so many pages where the action sequences aren't really comprehensible. You've got that scene where the Black Widow is (i guess?) running a red light for no good reason and looking very pleased with herself about it, and the scene where the Doombot is waving his hands around Dr. Doom's portrait before the real Doom shows up in his plane? I mean, i could tell you what's going on, but i don't think it's done very well. Never mind the random drawings that constitute the fight scenes. I have enough good will toward Brubaker and the opposite towards Guice at this point that i'm telling myself the plots just say "And then Super Apes fight Dr. Doom!" and Guice is just ignoring them and drawing whatever he wants, but i know that's not true. Even if next issue actually delivers, this does not bode well for this series.

Avenging Spider-Man #6 - I know i said i was coming around to Mark Waid again, but what's he doing in my Zeb Wells comic book? And what's Greg Rucka doing here?!? Anyway, i did like this and i'm glad i've caught up on Waid's Daredevil series (except #2 and #8, dammit!). I am somewhat unhappy with the idea that a piece of a Fantastic Four costume is being used as a super hard drive; unstable molecules exist to allow super-heroes to use their powers without destroying their costumes and that's all they should really be used for. The idea that every time a hero loses a scrap of clothing AIM can collect it and build something crazy and evil out of it isn't a good long term move. But accepting that, this is a good issue. I enjoy the interaction of all the heroes; Spidey and Daredevil dealing with the Punisher and his ladyfriend is good stuff; this is what a Team-Up book is all about.

New Avengers #24 - Using these issues to more fully develop the scenes and behind-the-scenes goings-on in AvX is appreciated, but i'll just point out that it's the same thing that was done in Fear Itself except this issue isn't using the much-derided talking heads device. I thought this was good, but i'm less interested in Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' drama and much more pleased and surprised by the way Bendis is using the Red Hulk as a military commander and Cap's second in command. It's perfect characterization for the former General Ross and it's done very well.

Avengers Assemble #2 - Do we have it in writing that this is actually in continuity? Because while there's been several iterations of the Zodiac and they look different from time to time, there's no way Captain America (or Thor, or Iron Man, or Hawkeye, or Black Widow) says "We know it was a member of something called the Zodiac". It's ok... you wanted to put out a reader-friendly comic with these characters to collect as a trade in time for the movie and you didn't want it to be bogged down in continuity, so you wrote an out-of-continuity story. You can admit it. We won't be mad if you come clean now. Of course, using an Ultimate Nullifier is way more continuity-ish than having the Avengers drop a quick line like, "Oh, the Zodiac. Hrmm, they seem different than previous Zodiacs we've fought." And does the Hulk's characterization and intelligence seem all over the place? One panel it's "He stole something shiny! There was army!" and the page he's using slang like "Don't put that on me!" At least decide whether or not he refers to himself as "me" or "Hulk"; my god, that changes from one panel to the next. Can't say i love Bagley's designs for this Zodiac, either, but his art in general is nice.

By fnord12 | April 16, 2012, 10:19 PM | Comics| Link

Joss Whedon passes on making Captain America political

I understand why he might want to avoid doing so, but this is a little disappointing:

Apparently Joss Whedon was going to have Captain America give a speech in The Avengers that would have been partially about the loss of the social safety net, but he decided to cut the scene:

One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, 'Guys, we need to lose this.' It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what's happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that.

As a product of the New Deal, Cap's speech would have flow entirely in character. I can believe that the soapbox speech might have killed the flow of the movie and i'm sure Marvel/Disney didn't need the PR headache. But it would have been cool. Maybe for the DVD.

By fnord12 | April 16, 2012, 5:02 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage| Link

Squinky Pig Roast

JoJo came to work with me today, and naturally, the Squinkies decided to get up to a bit of mischief.

Poor JoJo.  The natives have got her all trussed up.  That's a totally awesome fire, right?

Now you know what i do at work.

By min | April 16, 2012, 3:30 PM | Cute Things & My stupid life| Link

Can't Shake Those Last 10lbs?

How about a feeding tube?

Brides-to-be looking to shed that final 10, 15 or 20 pounds in order to fit into their dream wedding gown have taken a controversial approach to crash dieting that involves inserting a feeding tube into their noses for up to 10 days for a quick fix to rapid weight loss.

The K-E diet, which boasts promises of shedding 20 pounds in 10 days, is an increasingly popular alternative to ordinary calorie-counting programs. The program has dieters inserting a feeding tube into their nose that runs to the stomach. They're fed a constant slow drip of protein and fat, mixed with water, which contains zero carbohydrates and totals 800 calories a day. Body fat is burned off through a process called ketosis, which leaves muscle intact, Dr. Oliver Di Pietro of Bay Harbor Islands, Fla., said.

"It is a hunger-free, effective way of dieting," Di Pietro said. "Within a few hours and your hunger and appetite go away completely, so patients are actually not hungry at all for the whole 10 days. That's what is so amazing about this diet."

The doctor's wrong about one thing. The amazing thing about this diet is that it's bat shit crazy!

Shouldn't there be some requirement for doctors to only be allowed to do things that are safe and healthy? If not, there really ought to be one. I'm pretty sure feeding someone 800 calories a day does not meet the definition of either.

The crazy woman they interview in this article talks about how she doesn't have time to exercise and crap. Oh, yeah. Much better to just get a tube stuck through your nose for 10 days. Gawd. And i thought getting your stomach stapled was the craziest idea they were going to come up with for weight loss. How naive of me.

By min | April 16, 2012, 11:39 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

April 14, 2012

You didn't know we were an alien species

In order to blend in with you Earthlings, we stick to a strict vegetarian diet to reduce our 'vast bulk', and file down our horns.

While doing a little "research" for my review of Avengers #255, i came across this entry in the Marvel Handbook and realized i missed an important fact about the Colossus from Tales of Suspense #58. And i decided it was time to come clean about myself and min. Don't worry, we're not staging an invasion. We're just here for your Daiya cheese and Gardein products; you can't get that stuff out in Vega-4.

By fnord12 | April 14, 2012, 8:54 PM | Comics| Link

In which the Philadelphia Trumpet acknowledges its Gary Gygax influence

If you aren't yet familiar with my Philadelphia Trumpet fascination, see here and here. After a while, it does get kind of tedious, since they are basically pushing the same strange theory every issue. But never before has the theory been accompanied by such an awesome illustration.

AC -3, THACO 3.  Save vs. Breath Weapon for half damage.

Sadly, the accompanying article states that the fourth beast mentioned in Revelations is not, in fact, a 15 hit die hydra-dragon. It is, of course, the revived Holy Roman Empire, by which they mean the German-led European Union which is secretly controlled by the Vatican. Here's a helpful infographic that should make it all clear.

By 'clear', i mean 'Clear that these people are crazy'.

The Trumpet isn't the only "Christian" religious magazine that is anti-Catholic. Friend of the site Wanyas has slipped me another crazy pamphlet (Dear sir: please stop. I beg you.):

They couldn't even crop the Hitler photo to match the height of the other two?  This is why i stick with the Trumpet; i demand better production values from my religious conspiracy magazines.

Say what you want about the publishers of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries World Newsletter (i hope you will say, "these people are crazy!"), they sure did find an awesome picture of the Pope.

I'd say he's a level 15 magic-user, and could probably take the hydra-dragon if Obama will tank.

By fnord12 | April 14, 2012, 8:24 PM | D&D & Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link

April 13, 2012

Pictures of nekkid people!!!

Classic paintings updated to reflect modern standards about women's weights and breast sizes.

This guy calls the results "grotesque", which seems a bit extreme.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 11:24 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Daredevil #10.1 - I have succumbed to Waid-Daredevil mania and started reading this series. I'm also working my way through the back issues (still missing issues #2 and #8!) but this point one issue is, appropriately, the first issue i got in real-time and the first one i've read. And... it's about what i expected, which, considering the hype, is quite an accomplishment. I enjoyed the retroactive telling of the fight with, er, Pyromania, the way Matt's secret identity issues are handled, and the dysfunctional "megacrime" alliance. Waid seems to be navigating Daredevil's membership in the Avengers as best he can (although i'm not convinced he couldn't have just dumped the Omegadrive on them). I bailed on Waid's FF run pretty early and had decided that he wasn't the writer he used to be any more, but so far i'm ready to say i was wrong about that. And i know this wasn't the regular artist, but i appreciate the clean, easy to follow artwork as well as the non-muddy coloring. Now when do i get to hear more about that lady's malpractice suit against Dr. Strange?

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 - Wanyas picked up the "I'm with the X-Men" variant cover for me, but i think from this seminal SuperMegaMonkey post (and the follow-up) we all know my feeling on how an Avengers/X-Men fight would go down. Although with Magneto and Namor and Colossonaut on the team, it's a somewhat different story. I think this "jam writer" concept is working out rather well; at least i like the basic plot set up, with the Avengers getting alerted to a cosmic threat via Nova and how this is the culmination of the Hope saga and the beginning of the House of M reversal (so Cyclops thinks, anyway). Cyclops is being written as really unreasonable but that's in line with his characterization lately, and Cap is also too unwilling to discuss alternatives (like, could we maybe just keep an eye on Hope instead of demanding to take her into custody pre-emptively?). But we've all seen worse set-ups for hero vs. hero fights. I wanted to say that putting Bendis on scripting was playing to his strengths, but i'm afraid i can't. Because Captain America doesn't say, "Thor, could you do us a favor and see if anything is following him?". Cap has "a voice that could command a god", not "a voice that could ask a god a favor." JRJR's stylized art is toned back a bit, with things looking a little more conventional, and i think that's the right move for this series. The one thing that bugs me is Captain America's nose, of all things. It looks like Romita is using Marvel vs. Capcom conceptual art as the model. Maybe that's the right move, in anticipation of mainstream interest. Anyway, i have low expectations for this event, but so far they are met or exceeded (and it's worth noting that i feel like i read about half the book in preview form already).

P.S. What were the little AR logos that appeared at the bottom of many of the pages?

Avengers Academy #28 - I should probably be annoyed by a "we all share our thoughts and sing Kumbaya" resolution, but i wasn't because i feel like it was done really well. It's not so much that Gage has a handle on these characters; he just seems to be able to find the essence of any characters he's working with. Which really makes me doubt my decision to not read X-Men Legacy (which will be remedied for the AvX crossover, at least). The other thing about Gage is that he's the sort of guy that thinks "Hrmm, the Runaways have a dinosaur. And Reptil can turn into a dinosaur. So why not have them get together and meet Devil Dinosaur. Oh, and Victor was created by Ultron? I guess that makes Henry Pym his grandfather." So he's got that Roy Thomas/Mark Gruenwald eye for connections, but he's also really good with characterization and plotting. It's a great combo! I was also really intrigued by the Moonboy & Devil Dinosaur/Celestial teaser/throwaway.

Hulk #50 - So they were going to have that cross-over with Venom and X-23 and Ghost Rider but then they decided to just put it all into "point" issues of Venom instead. Which is fine with me, except now the Hulk book is building off of that storyline. And there's not even a footnote or anything, so it had me thinking i missed something. Which, i guess, i did. Anyway, good stuff. "I knew this would turn into some hippie smoke-up" is perfect General Ross. And i liked the Red She-Hulk/Defenders reference. I was surprised that the green Hulk's somewhat inexplicable ability to see astral forms was never referenced considering that's what's happening to the Red Hulk now, but i guess it's entirely unrelated. I enjoyed the back-up story as well. Note for future self for my Marvel Timeline project: this is the first time Daredevil becomes aware that the Red Hulk is on the Avengers.

New Mutants #40 - Again, if you focus on Warlock i'm going to love it. The fact that this issue was basically 85% techno-babble accompanied by pictures of Warlock running from the Ani-Mator didn't escape my notice, but i still enjoyed it. And while the ending was a bit too neatly wrapped up, that was sort of the point, right? What's important here is that Bird-Boy is now available for Gage to have to join Avengers Academy.

Thunderbolts #172 - Now we know why this time travel story has been dragging a bit, by some measurements. It's so this issue could sync up with the Thunderbolts 15 year anniversary! Well done. I enjoy the continued side-speculation about the metaphysics of time travel. Acknowledging the changes to Mr. Hyde head-on was nice. I think i used the phrase "head-on" because that scene of Hyde headbutting Goliath's giant nose was pretty memorable.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 9:16 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

"All Obama did was sign it"

Even if that were true (it's not), wouldn't that be enough to share in the praise and/or blame? In this case, it's blame.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 8:58 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

A good problem to have

Spammers recently brought this post on Medicare vs Private Insurance to my attention. Reading it again, (and at the risk of turning this into an all Yglesias-summary blog) i also want to add a point that Matthew Yglesias often makes, which is that rising healthcare costs are due in a large part to the fact that we've figured out how to help people live longer. We can extend life for cancer patients, etc., to a greater degree than we ever could before. But those procedures cost money. And so healthcare costs rise. It's true of both public and private insurance, but people with an anti-agenda focus on the government spending that comes out of Medicare costs (which are the primary cause of increased government spending). But these same people denounce "death panels" and no one is advocating for halting treatment on older sick people. So if we were being honest with ourselves we'd celebrate the fact that people are living longer and adjust to the new reality accordingly.

To recap:

The primary reason for long term Federal deficits is rising Medicare costs.
Rising Medicare costs are due to the fact that we have more expensive procedures to offer older sick people.
Medicare does a better job than private insurance at bending the costs curve.

Therefore, Obama is ruining the economy.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 7:21 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 12, 2012

Sometimes i think you *want* to fail


A fund to support homeowners in the communities hit hardest by the collapse of the housing bubble has disbursed just 3 percent of its budget and aided only 30,640 homeowners in the two years since its creation, according to a report released on Thursday by a federal watchdog office.

Via Atrios, who says:

There are elements of the administration fail on housing that I chalk to the usual reasons (too cozy with the big banks, etc). But sometimes I look at what's happening and wonder if the people working on this stuff are just incompetent.

My post title is from a Simpsons episode that i can't find a clip of on YouTube.

By fnord12 | April 12, 2012, 12:25 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Retroactive Obama Blame


Apparently the ridiculous political attack line we're supposed to talk about today is Mitt Romney's claim that 92.3 percent of jobs lost since Barack Obama took office belonged to women. This turns out to be true if you decide to assume that Obama is fully responsible for labor market events in January, even though two-thirds of January occurred before his inauguration.

The story within the story is that recessions hit male-dominated highly cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing first. Women tend to disproportionately work in sectors like health care and education that show slow and steady job growth. But those male-dominated cyclical sectors also bounce back relatively quickly. So since the recession started more than a year before Obama's inauguration, male job losses were close to bottoming out by the time Obama took office and he's presided over a lot of rebound growth in male employment. Women, by contrast, have been devastated by cascading waves of teacher layoffs...

Not only have these layoffs primarily been implemented at the behest of Republican Party governors and state legislators, but the Obama administration twice--once in the Spring of 2010 and a second time in the fall of 2012--pushed hard for legislation to prevent layoffs of teachers. These efforts were roundly denounced by conservatives as wasteful and costly "bailouts" and so they didn't happen.

More on this topic from Kevin Drum.

As we get closer to general election season, i'm going to be trying really hard to not turn this into a pro-Obama blog, but with these kinds of attacks from the Romney camp it's going to be difficult. For this post i'll turn it around and point out that if the Obama administration had taken the advice of economists like Paul Krugman and been more aggressive about seeking a stronger stimulus that would have resulted in a faster recovery, he's be a lot less open to these kinds of attacks which, despite their obvious desperation, consume a lot of oxygen amongst the political chatterers. And, more importantly, a lot less people, male and female, would be out of work.

By fnord12 | April 12, 2012, 9:08 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 6, 2012

Marvel Sales


The top selling Marvel comic (at position #11 on the chart) has under 60,000 sales.

By fnord12 | April 6, 2012, 11:03 AM | Comics| Link

Can you relate? We're living in a police state.

First, you've probably heard and been appropriately outraged over the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision to allow strip searches for any arrest. But what you may not have known is that it was the ruling that Obama's Department of Justice wanted:

What virtually none of this anti-Florence commentary mentioned, though, was that the Obama DOJ formally urged the Court to reach the conclusion it reached. While the Obama administration and court conservatives have been at odds in a handful of high-profile cases (most notably Citizens United and the health care law), this is yet another case, in a long line, where the Obama administration was able to have its preferred policies judicially endorsed by getting right-wing judges to embrace them...

And then there's this article about asset forfeiture.

Last December, filmmaker Terrance Huff and his friend Jon Seaton were returning to Ohio after attending a "Star Trek" convention in St. Louis. As they passed through a small town in Illinois, a police officer, Michael Reichert, pulled Huff's red PT Cruiser over to the side of the road, allegedly for an unsafe lane change. Over the next hour, Reichert interrogated the two men, employing a variety of police tactics civil rights attorneys say were aimed at tricking them into giving up their Fourth Amendment rights.
Asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement agencies can take possession of property suspected of being tied to illegal activity. Under these laws, the property itself is presumed to be guilty of criminal activity. Once the property has been seized, it's up to the owner to prove he obtained the property legitimately.

In about 80 percent of civil asset forfeiture cases, the property owner is never charged with a crime.

Critics say it's because police can target out-of-state drivers, who are more likely than local residents to accept a police officer's baseless accusations and turn over their property, rather than refuse and face arrest, multiple returns to the state for court dates and thousands of dollars in legal expenses. Sometimes winning the property back can exceed the actual value of the property.

This is all via Balloon Juice.

By fnord12 | April 6, 2012, 10:52 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 4, 2012

Judges vs. Obama

Better get your bunker ready because it seems the government is about to fall apart.

By fnord12 | April 4, 2012, 12:49 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

April 3, 2012

Fear of Fox gives young women cancer

To avoid criticism from Fox, Obama's FDA has been afraid to announce anything:

In the midst of the bitter 2009 battle to pass a law to provide health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, the United States Preventive Services Task Force announced in November that most women should not get routine mammograms until age 50 because the risks of the X-ray screens and surgical biopsies that often follow outweighed the benefits in younger women.

Although the task force did not consider cost in its analysis, Republicans charged that its recommendation was the start of health care rationing, an accusation given prominent play on Fox News. "That scared the bejesus out of everybody," a top F.D.A. official said.

By fnord12 | April 3, 2012, 2:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Time for another dose of Philadelphia Trumpet wisdom

From the April 2012 issue:

The liberal view is that human nature is fundamentally good and should be given room to flourish. The realist - and biblical - view is that human nature is fundamentally evil and must be conscientiously governed. Thankfully, the Framers [of the US Constitution] took the latter view. That is a big part of the reason that the system of government they created, while imperfect, has stood for over two centuries and done much to guarantee the success of the United States of America and its people.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

By fnord12 | April 3, 2012, 11:44 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Since i'm linking to Comic Critics

There's this one about Comic Book Men.

And this was the one about the Spider-Man movie.

By fnord12 | April 3, 2012, 11:42 AM | Comics| Link

April 2, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avenging Spider-Man #5 - Lenil Yu has his "everybody looks like a zombie" tendencies kind of under control in this issue, but i still don't like his art. Especially the weird panel on page 3 where Spider-Man and Captain America are posing together like they're on the cover of a romance novel, but more generally i don't like the facial expressions and poses, even if you ignore the bloodshot eyes. As for the story, it's odd that the fact that Steve Rogers had a career as a commercial artist for a long period in the 80s isn't even mentioned in the context of this "you should revive your childhood drawing skills" plot. I know it's more focused on "young Steve Rogers drew super-heroes" but it still seems odd. I think the whole premise was kind of shaky. A clearly very young Steve Rogers once drew a super-hero comic so therefore Peter Parker, who, as the story points out, was a science nerd, not a comic geek, wants to bond with him? Even if Peter was a huge comics geek, just because Rogers drew some super-hero comics as a young child... i don't really get it. The banter was all good, but i wasn't buying the story.

New Avengers #23 - For a story that built up and dragged on forever, it sure got wrapped up quickly. Skaar's on our side; all done! I liked it, though.

Avengers #24.1 - So i'm reading this and feeling like the art is falling apart, getting worse and worse as i get further into the book. To the point where Captain America was really looking his age on page 17. And i'm like... this is a Point One issue... it could have been published at any time. So why rush it? Then i read Avengers vs X-Men #0. Oh. Yeah, i guess having this issue come out after that one would have been even more of a trainwreck than it already is. More on that in a minute. I did think the Vision/She-Hulk scene was pretty good. The Vision/Magneto scene, on the other hand, was awful. Awful. Histrionic. Really poorly written. And that's not even getting into the geeky question of "is the Vision even made of metal?". The scene with Cap was about right, i guess, but i don't think anyone likes the Hawkeye/Spider-Woman "romance" and that scene surely isn't going to endear anyone to it. Pretty bad. I mean, i'm the internet's last Bendis defender, but i can't work with this.

Avenges vs. X-Men #0 - So ok, we just read the issue where the Vision has been going around looking for his wife and ready to get himself killed in order to find her. Here, she shows up at his doorstep and he acts like a complete ass, completely out of character even based on what we just read three minutes ago, forget 40 years of backstory, and sends her away. And the two issues were BY THE SAME WRITER! Sure, we can make up a story that some time has passed between the two issues, even though they came out on the same day, and the Vision has had some kind of revelation or change of heart, but why am i doing your work for you, Marvel? But i just can't stay mad at you. Because in the same story, you give me Devil Dino-DOK and MONKEY-DOK and many other strange little MODOK derivatives, and that's enough to make up for the Vision's poorly written bad behavior, and the fact that the awesome MODOK was used as the disposable villain of the month, and the Scarlet Witch's giant boobs, and everything else. On to the second story... Man, no one can keep the Serpent Society locked up for long, huh? The Avengers just defeated Anaconda and Cottonmouth over in Avenging Spider-Man, which, again, came out the same day, and they're already over on the West Coast robbing a bank or whatever. Maybe Sidewinder just teleported them all out of jail, except that he was just defeated in the previous issue of Avenging Spidey and in Villains For Hire #.1 just a few months ago (and that's not even counting the Serpent Squad guys that were in the Captain America book two issues ago). I know i was complaining when it was the Wrecking Crew who was getting dragged out for an ass kicking every time Marvel needed generic villains to fill pages, but i didn't mean to just swap out one villain team for another. That aside, i have an impression of Aaron as being a "zany" writer, but this was relatively straightforward and a decent introduction to Hope, who i've had limited exposure to. So it worked as a zero issue in that regard. I'll note that neither of these stories did anything to set up any kind of Avengers/X-Men conflict.

By fnord12 | April 2, 2012, 9:36 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

Why i like to read Matthew Yglesias

It's because of posts like this.

By fnord12 | April 2, 2012, 5:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

This is more min's beat, but...

Man Attacked by Mountain Lion, Saved by Bear.

By fnord12 | April 2, 2012, 12:18 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

Many worlds

My considerations on X-Men vs Avengers were pretty much the exact opposite of Josh's here, but i'll link to anything that ends with a DC Crisis jab using quantum physics*.

SpeedReview including the zero issue probably tonight**.

*Not a guarantee
**Also wic

By fnord12 | April 2, 2012, 11:59 AM | Comics| Link

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