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June 29, 2012

The good is the enemy of the great

Yglesias, speculating why Justice Roberts might have ruled in favor of the ACA:

If that had happened, liberals would have had no choice but to start campaigning for Medicare for all. Would they have gotten it? Not in 2013, that's for sure. But the problem of health insurance wasn't going to vanish no matter what Roberts did. The employer-based system has been slowly unraveling for years and would continue to do so no matter what Roberts did. And the debate would be that either you're for expanding access to health insurance by enrolling more people in government-run programs or else you're against expanding access to health insurance--a very tough and polarizing debate in which the court had ruled that moderate solutions are illegal.

The ACA will do a lot in the medium term to improve people's lives, and i wouldn't wish for anything that would get rid of that but, um... damn.

Update: John Cole urges me to buck up, soldier (sorry for the language; someone is clearly upset):

They are now in disarray. Half of them feel betrayed by Roberts, the other half feel betrayed by life in general. The message for liberals should not be to move on from this victory, but to press the advantage. Obviously, Obama wants to move on and talk about jobs and the economy, but for those of us in the rank and file, this decision is an unlimited ammo dump. Keep pressing the advantage, keep talking about the benefits that consumers will experience under the law, keep mocking the "socialism" and "unconstitutional" claims, and keep moving forward. Remember, this is easy turf. A couple years ago Republicans were arguing that crushing a child's testicles was constitutional. Now they want to argue that denying your child health care when he has leukemia is constitutional. Go in for the fucking kill, liberals.

For once in your god damned lives, put aside your fucking stupid beliefs about purity and how the public option was the bestest thing since sliced bread, accept the massive, game-changing victory you got today, and use it as a god damned bludgeon against the troglodytes whose health care plans are modeled after Ebeneezer Scrooge. For once, focus your bloodlust on Republicans instead of the DLC/Firebaggers/ANYONE WITHOUT AN (R) AFTER THEIR NAME. I'm begging you.

For once in your lives turn a win into a win, just like the Republicans were able to do when I was a wingnut (and half the time they were able to turn a loss into a win). Don't argue amongst yourselves about what would have been better- smash the Republicans around the head and neck with the cudgel you have been given. We're not debating which Democratic plan would have been better, we're debating the reality of what we have now versus the 18th century version of what Republicans would replace it with.

Again, as a former wingnut and lifelong Republican until 2006 or 2007, I am fucking begging- treat a win like a win and use it to your advantage. The most depressing thing about becoming a Democrat after being a Republican for so many years is just watching Democrats shit the bed whenever they win. Press the fucking advantage.

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 3:47 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

The voice of the community

Two news organizations go to the same "ordinary businessman" for a take on the ACA.

Wow--two news organizations covering the same story scoured the nation for a random small business owner to comment on that story--and they both found the same one! How'd that happen? What are the odds?

Well, as it turns out, Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing turns up quite a bit in public discussions of this and other issues. Here he is testifying against the health care law before House and Senate committees in January 2011. Here he is on the Fox Business Network around the same time, discussing the same subject. Here he is a few days ago, also on Fox Business, talking to John Stossel about the law. Here he is discussing the same subject on a New Jersey Fox affiliate.

And here he is in July 2010 discussing small business hiring with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Here he is opposing an increase in the minimum wage in an MSNBC debate a couple of weeks ago.

Go to many of these links and you find out something about Joe Olivo that NPR and NBC didn't tell you: he's a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB's site and YouTube page promote many of Olivo's public appearances. He was the subject of an NFIB "My Voice in Washington" online video in 2011.

NFIB, you will not be surprised to learn, is linked to the ALEC and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and to the usual rogues' gallery of right-wing zillionaires.

Are the news organizations punked or complicit?

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 3:32 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Fighting with one hand tied behind your back

Now that we're past the constitutional question on the ACA, we've moved on to "Can it survive a Romney presidency?". Most people think the answer is "Yes because Democrats would filibuster the repeal attempt." but Matthew Yglesias reminds us (as if we needed it) that the filibuster rules the Democrats were operating under were entirely self-imposed:

What I think this misses is that in the real world there are very few practical constraints on reconciliation. The operational issue the Obama administration had with reconciliation is that there were a clutch of 10-15 Democratic Senators who preferred a 60-vote Senate because it put shifted the pivot point and put policy outcomes closer to their personal ideal points. It was those Senators who raised a lot of niggling objections about reconciliation rules.

The GOP is more ideologically unified and more focused on advancing a broad conception of the national interest rather than parochial concerns of individual legislators. Here's how they handled the reconciliation process last time Democrats attempted to filibuster a major legislative priority:

The senate parliamentarian serves as arbiter of the Senate's rules. Although the vote of 60 senators can overrule the parliamentarian's decision, that seldom happens. What drew Lott's ire were the parliamentarian's decisions that made it easier for Democrats to stall the president's tax and budget bills. (Senate rules generally prevent filibusters on budget and tax bills. And the GOP leadership wanted those rules interpreted as broadly as possible. But Dove didn't always comply. Earlier he ruled that only one tax bill a year could be immune to a filibuster. And more recently, he ruled that a disaster relief set aside also wouldn't be getting the no-filibuster free ride.) Desiring more accommodating decisions, he fired Dove.

That is how you get things done in Washington when you want to get things done.

By fnord12 | June 29, 2012, 8:28 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

June 28, 2012

Congress to make viewing of political ads mandatory

Via Kevin Drum:

The Dish Network, in its continuing effort to attract new viewers, introduced a new DVR called the Hopper earlier this year. The Hopper's main appeal is that it allows you to skip past commercials entirely, and unsurprisingly, TV networks aren't very happy about this. But guess who else is unhappy?
At a Wednesday hearing on video distribution held by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, [Rep. John Dingell, D-Clueless] complained that the service will allow potential voters to skip past important commercial messages.

"I've got an election coming up, like all my colleagues," Dingell said, during his questioning of Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen. "We all put political ads on the local stations to reach our constituents. The Hopper potentially limits the ability of every member of this subcommittee to reach constituents to help them make up their minds on Election Day.

"Do you understand and appreciate the concerns that the politicians up here on the dais and other politicians everywhere will feel about that, yes or no?" Dingell asked.

By fnord12 | June 28, 2012, 4:15 PM | Liberal Outrage & TeeVee| Link

Jailed For Sharing Links?

Am i missing something here? The way i'm reading this article, this guy Anton Vickerman was convicted for sharing links.

Newcastle crown court heard Anton Vickerman's site had up to 400,000 users a day and made about £35,000 a month in revenue. While UK prosecutors did not pursue a case on copyright offences, Vickerman was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and faces sentencing next month.

The conviction increases pressure to halt plans to extradite Sheffield student Richard O'Dwyer to the US on copyright charges relating to a far smaller website. At its peak, O'Dwyer's site reached about 300,000 users a month and was estimated by prosecutors to have taken approximately £147,000 in revenue over around three years.


"It just seems to me that people like Richard are being punished for being able to navigate the modern world," said Linehan. "The internet has changed everything, they're doing what comes naturally in these new, uncharted waters and suddenly they're getting their collars felt by people who still have Hotmail addresses.

"And then [there's] the sheer shocking arbitrary nature of it all ... to be told that you could face up to 10 years for sharing links? When I heard that Nora Ephron died, I shared on Twitter a link to the full version of When Harry Met Sally on YouTube. Am I a criminal now? Why? Why not?

So, if i'm better at finding stuff on the internet than you are, and i set up a website where i link to those things, and you use my website to find those things, and i get revenue from people visiting my site...that's a conspiracy to defraud? Please explain.

"This was not a case brought using copyright law. The interest groups involved couldn't present a case of copyright infringement and instead decided to press for the use of the common law offence of 'conspiracy to defraud'," said UK Pirate party leader Loz Kaye. "This is one of the most controversial crimes in English law - it criminalises conduct by two or more people that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.

"The offence was notoriously used in the 1970s to prevent people sharing film cassettes as the TV and film industry believed video was a threat to their existence.

"In addition to flying in the face of recent findings in similar cases, this prosecution was driven by private interests. It is well known that the very groups representing the victim helped with the investigation, were present at the arrest, given access to the evidence and were present at police interviews. This is deeply concerning."


By min | June 28, 2012, 3:18 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

June 26, 2012

Racist Attitudes So Ingrained, Ad Company Misses the 'Duh' Moment

Something that should have never made it past the brainstorming stage, if it should even have been verbalized at all:

A campaign designed to encourage Ukrainian tourists to travel in Asia has backfired after being branded 'utterly offensive and 'racist.'

The colourful words on the advert for a Kiev travel agency read: 'See Asia like Asians do', with the accompanying tag line telling viewers 'to read the text screw up your eyes.'

It is accompanied by a collage of photos showing people using their index fingers to slant their eyes while reading the poster.

Many of the defenders say that it's clearly a joke and nobody "meant" to be racist. Well, yeah, see, the problem is when you think doing this is ok and not racist. It means the racism is so ingrained that you can't see that it's offensive. You just think "Ha ha. Isn't that a funny joke?". Um...no, it's not. That's not funny and neither is the "I'm pretending to speak Chinese by saying 'ching chong choi'" thing. Just in case you were wondering. It just means you're ignorant.

By min | June 26, 2012, 12:46 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link

Robot and Frank

I kinda want to see this movie:

Mostly because Frank Langella is a crotchety old man, and that amuses me. A crotchety old man living with a robot is even better.

By min | June 26, 2012, 12:18 PM | Movies| Link

June 24, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I've got a problem in my supply chain, so i'm at least a week behind on reviews (and don't even ask about the last issue of Hulk Smash). But let's see what we've got.

Spider-Men #1 - Well scripted, decently drawn, insanely uneventful for $4. I will say that Marvel has shown surprising restraint to-date on not crossing over with the Ultimate universe. I wonder if this means we've reached end times for that universe. Surely by now its original remit - tell Marvel stories unburdened by continuity - is null and void, especially now that the "problem" of Spider-Man's marriage is "solved" in the original publication line. So i'm actually surprised that the crossover didn't go the other way: bring the Miles Morales character, who's had some good press and has potential, into the real Marvel Universe and fold the other one up.

X-Men Legacy - Wanyas was nice enough to uncancel this for me after reading my Hamletizing over the last issue. And i guess i'll say i'm glad. But if we're going to go into Frenzy's backstory, i expect to see some Apocalypse! I also thought it was funny that Frenzy's guide just happened to know a path to the militia's base that required Frenzy to constantly use her super-strength to smash rocks and trees, and scale sheer cliffs, so that the otherwise entirely talky issue would seem like it had some action. I'm also a little weirded out by the sneak preview of the Avengers vs. X-Men plot. Apparently now that the X-Men have the Phoenix power they're going to dress up like Science Ninja Team Gatchaman and pretend they're the Authority? Not a direction i was expecting.

Avengers Assemble - Seriously? It's really Thanos? Having Bendis write Thanos is like asking Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor (they're sort of a straightforward if superficial rock band, and i enjoy them, but you don't want them doing anything heavy or complicated). I love how we're told that Thanos' name "translates to" Thanos. From what, Thanatos? On the other hand, Bagley can draw Thanos any time he likes. The good news is we now know who's going to be in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and min doesn't have to hurry up and read about Charlie-27 and Yondu.

Captain America #13 - Was i supposed to know who Jack Garrett was from last issue? If so, i kinda forgot, and there's absolutely no exposition nor anything in the supposed recap to tell me that he's the SHIELD agent that's been leaking info to Hydra. I had to look that up online. For a little while, i had actually thought they captured D-Man (whose civilian name is clearly Dennis Dunphy, duh). So aside from that, and nothing actually happening in this issue, this was fine.

Avengers #27 - I'd complain that Supremor was kinda dumb to tell Marvel Boy what his plans were for the Phoenix Force that they captured, but the truth is i really don't know anything about this Marvel Boy character. Despite having read the Morrison Marvel Boy series and despite Marvel Boy having been a character in Bendis' Avengers for like 3 years now. Bendis has thrown out everything about the character Morrison created and replaced it with... nothing! He's been a complete cipher. So now when we suddenly have an arc about him, and it's the fairly stock "someone betrays the team only to find out that their reason for doing so wasn't true", i'm just sort of ambivalent. Even though this story is focused on Marvel Boy, i don't think we're learning anything about him. I do like Simonson's art; i just wish there was a plot to go with it.

By fnord12 | June 24, 2012, 10:39 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

June 22, 2012

At least Bernie Sanders exists

From his website:

The Senate on Thursday rejected an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to let states require clear labels on any food or beverage containing genetically engineered ingredients. The vote on the amendment to the farm bill was 26 to 73. "This is the very first time a bill on labeling genetically engineered food has been brought before the Senate. It was opposed by virtually every major food corporation in the country. While we wish we could have gotten more votes, this is a good step forward and something we are going to continue to work on. The people of Vermont and the people of America have a right to know what's in the food that they eat."

As John Cole says:

I'm personally not someone who fears genetically modified food...

But having said that, I have no problem with, and in fact think it is perfectly reasonable to require these labels. Let consumers make informed decisions- isn't that how the alleged "free market" is supposed to work?

By fnord12 | June 22, 2012, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Stan Lee as a Playable Character in The Amazing Spider-Man Game

Cause why not?


Gamers who pre-order the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the game at Amazon will get an exclusive virtual Stan Lee that's completely playable.
Lee will have his own special mission across the open world Manhattan that Beenox has recreated from the movie universe. The storyline sends Lee, equipped with Spider-Man's super hero powers, on a race through New York to collect pages of his latest script. Lee also provided his voice for the game's character.

By min | June 22, 2012, 1:31 PM | Comics & Video Games| Link

June 21, 2012

Having a Maker's responsibilities on a Manager's schedule

This is a great summary of the Problem with Meetings.

When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon, by breaking it into two pieces each too small to do anything hard in.
I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there's sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I'm slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you're a maker, think of your own case. Don't your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don't. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.

By no means do i consider myself to be a Maker of anything significant, but i am responsible for "making things" (writing documentation for consumption by developers, specifically). And yet i'm high enough up on the org chart that i'm needed in "Manager" meetings. Lots of them. Which pretty much makes making things impossible. Sure, if you look at my calendar you might find enough time, usually in half hour intervals, that are technically sufficient for me to complete my "alone time" tasks. But as the quoted piece says, there's no way to write a document that should take four hours in eight half hour increments. Or at least, there's no way to write it well. Oh, i'll get it done. But it'll be mundane and uninspired and lacking in any of the Excellence that my company's Core Values statement says is so important. Rushing to get stuff done in tiny chunks sure makes it hard to give a crap.

My favorite is when a meeting ends early (a rarity) and the meeting organizer says, "Well, looks like i'm 'giving back' 15 minutes!". Sure. But i'm using those 15 minutes to stare sullenly at my RSS feed.

Anyway, i guess it's nice to see i'm not alone.

By fnord12 | June 21, 2012, 4:50 PM | My stupid life| Link

June 20, 2012

Movies on our Netflix queue that should be 1970s Blaxploitation films but aren't

  • The Cat From Outer Space
  • Hot Coffee
I guess that's it.

By fnord12 | June 20, 2012, 9:09 PM | Movies| Link

Godzilla Size Chart

From the Godzilla Wiki:

Please note the tiny tiny human put in for comparison on the bottom left of the chart.

You may think "bigger is better" but the smaller Godzilla is, the more detailed the model buildings and vehicles he destroys have to be, so i prefer the 50 meter Godzilla from the Showa period best.

And if you think it's weird that Godzilla changes size throughout his various movies, just remember that's nothing compared to King Kong, who changes size many times in his first movie alone:

Kong's size changes drastically throughout the course of the film. While creator Merian C. Cooper envisioned Kong as being "40 to 50 feet tall",[6] animator Willis O'Brien and his crew built the models and sets scaling Kong to be only 18 feet tall on Skull Island, and rescaled to be 24 feet tall in New York.[7] This did not stop Cooper from playing around with Kong's size as he directed the special effect sequences; by manipulating the sizes of the miniatures and the camera angles, he made Kong appear a lot larger than O'Brien wanted, even as large as 60 feet in some scenes.[8] Concurrently, the Kong bust made for the film was built in scale with a 40-foot ape,[9] while the full sized hand of Kong was built in scale with a 70 foot ape.[10] Meanwhile, RKO's promotional materials listed Kong's official height as 50 feet.[5]

By fnord12 | June 20, 2012, 5:13 PM | Godzilla| Link

June 18, 2012

Make the "series code" public!

So there's this from Brian Hibbs regarding Dark Avengers:

Marvel kept the NUMBERING of THUNDERBOLTS here, but did a really really weird thing after that -- it had Diamond assign the book a new SERIES code. A series code is an invisible-to-consumers code that allows retailers to sign up customers, well, to a series. Like (say) 123456 is the code for CAPTAIN FANCYPANTS, and it allows the computer to know that CAPTAIN FANCYPANTS #1 and CP #2 are *the same thing*. It also allows me to, say, take the various BPRD series, and assign it to a custom series code (like CUST123), so that every BPRD series gets pulled (even though Dark Horse treats them as *entirely separate* things, go figure) In the past, when Marvel changed, say, INCREDIBLE HULK to INCREDIBLE HERCULES they kept the series code the SAME, which meant that all of the preorders AUTOMATICALLY transferred, here they consciously did NOT do that, in other words: eliminating 98% of the marketing-driven reason to carry over the numbering. What's even weirder, is that it really IS TBOLTS #175, and it's a bit hard to follow if you haven't read those previous issues (well, or the last year or so at least), while at the same time kicking off all of the people who WERE buying it. I don't get it

It's weird that they tried to trick the Hulk audience into collecting Hercules but didn't do the same for the Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers even though they kept the numbering the same and DA is much more in the spirit of the original series than Hulk>Herc, but i'm much more interested to learn that this "series code" exists at all. It would be very helpful to nerds everywhere, who would no longer have to refer to FF vol. 3 which was then renumbered in vol. 4 and then later reverted back to the original numbering, etc., if they could use this code instead. Call the book whatever you want on the cover in order to get sales, but give those of us who obsessively track our collection (whether it's a word doc that we print out when we go to conventions, or, say, a Marvel Timeline Project) a way to maintain consistency.

By fnord12 | June 18, 2012, 3:34 PM | Comics| Link

June 16, 2012

Is hallucinating why there is eating?

Present your argument in an well-composed expository essay. For extra credit, please also answer "Why is clothing?".

By fnord12 | June 16, 2012, 2:56 PM | Comics| Link

June 13, 2012

Speaking of Japanese Sodas...

Look what i just found on 3Yen! Who doesn't love Salty Watermelon Pepsi?

Although, i think Strawberry and Milk Pepsi will always be my favorite.

By min | June 13, 2012, 2:53 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Next It'll Be Bacon Soda

Except, the Japanese prolly already came up with that one.


Burger King, home of the Whopper and, at least for a limited time, the bacon sundae.

The AP reports that BK will launch the treat -- which has fudge, caramel, crumbled bacon and a full piece of bacon -- later this week, along with other limited time items.

Coincidentally, one of my employees has been mentioning chocolate-dipped bacon to me for the last week. I suggested that he take his fantastic idea and open a kiosk in the mall to sell his chocolatey pork treats. You know what's sad? When people think i'm kidding.


wnkr just had her first taste of the BK bacon sundae.

It was as disgusting as you'd imagine it to be. It was fake bacon and I swear when I burped later, I tasted chemicals and artificial fragrance.


By min | June 13, 2012, 2:07 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

June 12, 2012

Now Taking a Collection to Buy DC Artists a Book on Human Anatomy

One with lots of pictures. Lots and lots of pictures.

On The Mary Sue today, i saw this picture for September's Catwoman #0 issue:

And i think i must have looked at it for close to a minute before i understood what i was looking at. For the first 45 seconds, i don't even think her boobs registered because my brain knew that there shouldn't be boobs occupying that space on an anatomically correct human body.

I spent most of the 45 seconds trying to figure out where her foot was coming from and why the thumb and first 2 fingers of her left hand were horrifically deformed (esp. when compared to her itty bitty right hand). Then i realized her boot was sticking out of what is supposed to be one of her butt cheeks. An excessively swollen butt cheek, i might add (er...you might want to get a doctor to look at that).

This post generously states that the artist, Guillem March, is not only not a bad artist, but "quite competent" in terms of technique. If that is the case, than the problem is that March's idea of "sexy" is just strange.

Here is a parody drawing by an earlier Catwoman artist.

ETA: When i showed this to two of my female friends, they both had no problem with the drawing. Ofc, they also both seemed to think that her right butt cheek (the one in the back) was closer to the viewer than the left butt cheek, and therefore should appear larger. I told them i didn't think they understood how perspective worked. I also asked one of them to pose this way so we could take a photo of a real human and see where all the body parts would line up. Shockingly, i've yet to hear back on that suggestion. Spoilsports.

By min | June 12, 2012, 2:16 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

June 10, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I have to travel this week (also means no updates on the comics timeline site) so i'll get my reviews in early. Because i care.

Winter Soldier #6 - This is the first issue of this series where we are not promised Dr. Doom vs. Super-Apes. So i suppose it would be unfair to criticize it for not delivering Dr. Doom vs. Super-Apes (although an argument could be made...). So now i'm back to where i was with issue #1 before i turned to that final page and saw a gorilla with a machine gun firing at the Latverian embassy: this series is written well enough, but do i really want to read a solo Bucky book?

Avengers vs. X-Men #5 - So i'm pretty sure there are three events in this issue: 1) Hope decides that she doesn't want to be the host for the Phoenix force 2) Iron Man tries to fight the Phoenix force in a rather uninspired looking Mecha but fails 3) Instead of just Hope getting possessed by the Phoenix force, all the X-Men get possessed by the Phoenix force. The rest of the issue, as far as i can tell, is basically ads for the tie-in books or mostly blank pages depicting explosions or whatever. That's just not enough content for a 20 some page comic. This is the most insanely structured crossover event i've ever seen.

X-Men Legacy #267 - Well, clearly Gage agrees with me on how an Iron Man vs. X-Men fight would go down. First Rogue flat-out says that Iron Man could take down the whole team. Then the X-Men barely manage to fight off an empty Iron Man suit. This was a really well-written fight, though. Rogue absorbing She-Hulk's powers and then immediately turning around and punching Frenzy in the nose was hilarious. After last issue's poor set-up, i got cranky and dropped this series again, so i suspect it will drive Wanyas and his shop owner crazy if i change my mind a third time. Eh, i'll just pick it up in the bargain bins ten years from now. Oh, and you know where i'd really like to read a well-written Avengers/X-Men fight? IN THE AVENGERS VS. X-MEN SERIES!!

X-Factor #237 - Yeah, ok.

Journey Into Mystery #639 - I really liked this. It took the New Mutants crossover to get me reading this book, but i'm glad i stuck with it. It's like i've got my own little Fables (or similar) right here in the Marvel Universe. I like Kid Loki.

Hulk #53 - Man, She-Hulk just can't catch a break this week. Plus, four "Hulks" and the only one talking in "Hulk smash!" voice is Sasquatch. But people! This is the Red Hulk teaming up with Machine Man and Alpha Flight to fight the Mayan 2012 prophesy itself! And drawn by Eaglesham. You can't turn that down.

Dark Avengers #175 - I'm on board with this. People drawn in by the nice Deodato cover (is that a tribute to something? It looks familiar) might be a little disappointed by the interior art, but i'm hoping Parker's writing will rope them in. And i'm still hoping Parker will bring back some of the previous Thunderbolts team; it sure looks like he's leaving that door open.

Avengers Academy #31 - Nice twist with Shaw's motivations, and just really great writing overall. You'll notice this has knocked Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers out of my "top most anticipated" spot (i read and review my comics from "least likely to enjoy" to "most likely to enjoy"). So if i like Gage here so much, it makes sense for me to keep getting X-Men Legacy, right? Man, if only it weren't another AvX tie-in (on the other hand, the fact that it's a Frenzy tie-in is actually a plus, as far as i'm concerned). Speaking of AvX tie-ins, though, i gave Avengers Academy #19 the (much coveted) "Best Use of a Fear Itself Tie-in", and i'm gonna go ahead and say the same is true of this arc for Avengers vs. X-Men.

By fnord12 | June 10, 2012, 9:40 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Um...We Were Hungry

If you order takeout, and they don't give you your food in a box plus a bag for whatever wouldn't fit in the box, then you did something wrong.

fnord12 tried to conceal our shame by saying we were inviting people over.  ha!  like we'd share.

If you look carefully, you'll see the corner of a cupcake to the right of the bag. We bought that at a vegan-friendly bakery while waiting for our food to be prepared. Cause the 4 slices of cake we ordered with the rest of our food at the restaurant was clearly not enough dessert.

By min | June 10, 2012, 12:34 AM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link

June 8, 2012

Romance Comics

I found these. They're great.

DO NOT eat soup while going through this site.  it can only end with soup coming out of your nose.

"Was it his love she wanted - or just his kisses?" Probably the former, since his kisses appear to be rather inexpert and poorly aimed. Unless he's trying to smell what she had for lunch.

I told fnord12 i might have to start collecting these because they're clearly made of awesome sauce. He said i had 30 boxes of comics to get through first. Hrmph. Tyrant.

By min | June 8, 2012, 2:27 PM | Comics| Link

You're Welcome, South Africa

For the contribution our government has made in inspiring your secrecy bill. Take that, whistleblowers (I'm looking at you, Bradley Manning)!

The protection of state information bill - dubbed the "secrecy bill" - envisages draconian penalties of up to 25 years in prison for whistleblowers and journalists who possess, leak or publish state secrets. It has been described as the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid in 1994 to undermine South Africa's democracy.

Opponents of the bill fear that, with South Africa often regarded as a beacon of democracy and freedom on the continent, it could be used as an excuse by repressive African regimes for renewed crackdowns on journalists and activists.


"The legislation is transparently intended to make life difficult for pesky investigative journalists, and generally to save incompetent or corrupt bureaucrats from being embarrassed," Coetzee, born in Cape Town but now resident in Australia, said in an email. "Its sponsors have very likely been emboldened by the push that has taken place all over the western world since 2001 to erect a wall of secrecy around the more dubious actions of the state, and to make it a crime to breach that wall."

It makes you feel good to know that we're setting an example for the world. I know, i know. We can't take all of the credit. We're not the only country in the west. But still. We contributed, and we should get credit for it. Ofc, we should also see what they've got in their secrecy bill and compare it to our secrecy policies. They might have some good ideas in there that we didn't think of.

Today, South Africa boasts arguably the freest press in Africa, with no shortage of revelations about shady deals or satirical cartoons lampooning politicians' foibles. Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media, has been protected under the constitution. But opponents of the bill believe the gains of the past 18 years are under threat and warn that the rest of the continent is watching. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, journalists continue to be harassed and arrested, while state broadcasters remain firmly under President Robert Mugabe's control.
Nic Dawes, editor of South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, said: "We're already hearing from people elsewhere on the continent that their politicians and government officials are saying to them: 'You see, they're even doing this in South Africa, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be doing it here.'

Meh. The South African government should learn another thing from the western world - propaganda through the media (see post below).

By min | June 8, 2012, 2:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Obama Administration Perfecting the Use of the Media as a Propaganda Mouthpiece

In today's Guardian, Glenn Greenwald writes:

The Obama White House's extreme fixation on secrecy is shaped by a bizarre paradox. One the one hand, the current administration has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers - government employees who leak classified information showing high-level official wrongdoing - than all previous administrations combined. Obama officials have also, as ACLU lawyers documented this week in the Guardian, resisted with unprecedented vigor any attempts to subject their conduct to judicial review or any form of public disclosure, by insisting to courts that these programs are so secretive that the US government cannot even confirm or deny their existence without damaging US national security.

But at the very same time that they invoke broad secrecy claims to shield their conduct from outside scrutiny, it is Obama officials themselves who have continuously and quite selectively leaked information about these same programs to the US media. Indeed, the high publicity-value New York Times scoops of the past two weeks about covert national security programs have come substantially from Obama aides themselves.


In sum, these anonymous leaks are classic political propaganda: devoted to glorifying the leader and his policies for political gain. Because the programs are shrouded in official secrecy, it is impossible for journalists to verify these selective disclosures. By design, the only means the public has to learn anything about what the president is doing is the partial, selective disclosures by Obama's own aides - those who work for him and are devoted to his political triumph.

But that process is a recipe for government deceit and propaganda. This was precisely the dynamic that, in the run-up to the attack on Iraq, co-opted America's largest media outlets as mindless purveyors of false government claims. The defining journalistic sin of Judith Miller, the New York Times' disgraced WMD reporter, was that she masqueraded the unverified assertions of anonymous Bush officials as reported fact.
Perhaps the most pernicious effect of this type of journalism is that it converts journalists into dutiful messengers of official decrees. Reporters are trained that they will be selected as scoop-receivers only if they demonstrate fealty to the agenda of official sources.

In the article, Greenwald gives two examples of the difference in how two NYT journalists are treated when one writes glorifying articles on successful government missions and the other points out the mistakes.

I don't think they need to amend that ban on domestic dissemination of propaganda. They've already figured out how to spread government misinformation.

By min | June 8, 2012, 12:28 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

I've never seen one land, but i always look up to make sure when i'm passing through

Very rarely, around noon, i escape my corporate masters and get outside to clear my head. Sometimes i even get to eat food. I am told by people who don't have co-workers on the west coast that like to have meetings that start 'first thing in the morning' and run until noon their time that this is called a "lunch break".

In our old building, there used to be a nice quiet street you could walk along, but since we've moved, i basically walk along a string of connected office building parking lots. This is weird and sad, but i'm not the only one who does it. It's either that or walking along the highway.

But walking in the parking lot is not without its own perils. Hence this:

Another sign points down and says 'Beware of Moguera'

No idea why there's a helicopter landing pad in the parking lot for a building that has software companies, ad agencies, lawyers, and a psychologist's office, but i'll admit there have been times when, if there was a helicopter waiting for me outside, i'd probably have fled my office, Saigon-evacuation style. Actually, by "there have been times" i mean "always".

I appreciate the arrow, helpfully pointing up. They come from thataway.

By fnord12 | June 8, 2012, 12:12 PM | My stupid life| Link

Who to blame?

Quoting most of a Yglesias post:

Bernanke said, repeatedly, that he believes there are additional steps that he could take to bolster real growth and that he remains at the ready to unleash those steps if he thinks conditions warrant.

In other words, whatever it is that people who aren't named "Ben Bernanke" think is standing in the way of the Fed reducing the unemployment rate, Ben Bernanke thinks that nothing is standing in his way other than his own relative lack of concern with the fate of jobless people.

His view is that he could do more, and that if the situation gets worse he may do more, but that he doesn't regard a years-long period of mass unemployment as that big a problem. He's more concerned with preserving the Fed's credibility at capping consumer price increases at a two percent annual level. That's his personal judgment. Better for millions to stay unemployed than for them to start commuting to work and moving out of their parents' basement, pushing up oil prices and rents. It's a perverse judgment in my view, but nobody on the Hill wanted to directly challenge it.

This is entirely fair criticism and i agree with it, but it's worth remembering that the reason we're looking to the Fed right now is because our political system is completely gridlocked and the Fed (because it isn't accountable directly to voters or politicians) is the only one with any power that can act. But most economists agree that fiscal stimulus (e.g., government spending) is more effective than monetary stimulus (e.g., manipulating interest rates). And interest rates are already effectively at 0, so anything the Fed does will be somewhat unconventional and unproven. This isn't to say there aren't a lot of good ideas about what the Fed can do (and indeed, as Yglesias points out, Bernanke himself thinks he could do a lot, if he only wanted to). But we should also keep in mind that we're only looking here because of the failure of our political system.

By fnord12 | June 8, 2012, 10:04 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

June 7, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I only had one regular book come out last week, but i also bought into the hype and got the entire Battle Scars series to date, and the first three issues of Marjorie Liu's Astonishing X-Men. And i finally got all the pieces of Circle of Four. So we'll look at my one regular book and then those runs comprehensively (but still SuperMegaSpeedily).

New Mutants #43 - So i actually would have been ok with this crossover ending last issue with Sigurd being forced to marry the Dsir. I wasn't sure what this issue would entail. And while the twist that Bor's idea of marriage is a bit, uh, antiquated was clever, i still probably could have done without this issue. But it was fine.

Battle Scars - Well, it's better than a trip to Dr. Melinda Brewer. If we ignore the purpose of the series, it's actually a fun romp through the Marvel Universe, although the art could be a little better. Yost writes a good Deadpool. So add to the fact that this was going to happen, one way or another, and i think it worked out about as well as it could have (I'm being a little coy about what this series is about because min hasn't read it yet and has somehow managed to avoid all the chatter, and i don't want to spoil it). In any event, this series has a great soundtrack.

Astonishing X-Men #48-50 - There was a little kerfuffle where Dale Eaglesham, the artist from the Alpha Flight series that min got cancelled, complained that the Northstar wedding was originally scheduled for the Alpha series, with the obvious implication that the attention could have kept the series afloat, but that Marvel wanted the X-Men to get the attention instead. Then he subsequently retracted the statement. Certainly the Alpha Flight series laid the groundwork for this by developing Northstar and Kyle's relationship, and Northstar isn't a traditional X-Man character, but i'm glad to see it picked up in another book rather than just fade into limbo. I feel like Northstar is way too earnest and friendly in these issues, but i guess that's just us getting to see another side of him. I like the way Liu is handling the relationship part of this story, with Kyle's doubts and Northstar over-compensating with the marriage proposal. As for the rest of the plot, i could do without Kyle already getting kidnapped - such a cliche for a civilian love interest - and the repeating dream sequence device was a bit annoying, but i liked the character interactions and the use of the Marauders as dupes. The Beat article that first reported on the Eaglesham stuff also notes that Liu's run seems to be designed as a loose-end tie-up book, but i'm not really sure what the loose end for Karma is, exactly. If she was taking care of "Face", i guess i could see it. Anyway, i think i'll stick around for a while. Art isn't great (The Shiar lady's costume is terrible, having the Black Widow make fun of it doesn't make it ok, and the Black Widow herself looked terrible in that scene).

Circle of Four: Venom #13, 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4, 14 - I knew that i didn't really need this and that if i managed to track them all down it would just be a letdown, but i did it anyway. And it was actually ok. Not great. There's some weird stuff going on in the Marvel Universe nowadays - Flash Thompson has no legs? And he's Venom, but he uses guns? They're really playing up the soldier angle, huh? Originally Flash Thompson was drafted and his soldier identity wasn't really emphasized once he got back from 'Nam, but i guess with the sliding timescale and the Spider-Man reboot that i've been studiously ignoring things have changed. The new Ghost Rider's snarky attitude was a bit annoying, and i really don't like the Aaron-introduced idea that there's really all these various Ghost Riders. You've got Johnny Blaze right there; use him! (And i await the mini-series that reveals that Blaze has a long-lost son that looks like Nicholas Cage). Other than that, i liked Blackheart, i thought X-23 was handled very well, Red Hulk-Venom Rider is about as kewl as you can get, and overall it was an ok fun little demonic romp.

By fnord12 | June 7, 2012, 9:36 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

It's How They Roll in Greece

Holy Crap! The first 50 seconds aren't all that exciting, but the last 30...

The brawl, a first in the nearly 40 years since democracy was returned to its birthplace, broke out during a morning talkshow when Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman of the far-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) took umbrage at deputy Rena Dourou declaring that his party "will take the country back 500 years".

After leaping from his seat and throwing a glass of water at Dourou, a deputy with the radical Syriza party, Kasidiaris then turned on Liana Kanelli, an MP with the KKE communist party, who, waving a piece of paper, stood up to condemn the action.

As the cameras rolled, the cropped-haired Kasidiaris, a weightlifting enthusiast, who had served in the Greek military's special forces, is shown lashing out at Kanelli slapping her around the face three times as she threw up her arms in self-defence.

The extraordinary footage quickly prompted state prosecutor Eleni Raikou to order the immediate arrest of Kasidiaris. The 31-year-old, who was elected to the 300-seat Athens parliament in the country's inconclusive election last month, is the most vocal opponent of suggestions that Chrysi Avgi is a violent organisation with a history of attacks on society's most vulnerable not least Greece's burgeoning population of immigrants.

The Golden Dawn party has refused to condemn the actions of their spokesman, so that's how you know they're totally not for "the violence".

The guy's also going on trial on June 11th for aiding and abetting an armed robbery.

The Dems drop you like a hot potato if you get caught sending pictures of your crotch to women. This guy is going on trial for a crime that ended up with someone getting stabbed, and they made him their spokesman! Woof.

By min | June 7, 2012, 8:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

June 6, 2012


David Frum:

Wisconsin has definitively exposed the failure of the American left to build an effective populist movement despite the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The Wisconsin recall vote was a battle at a time and place of the unions' own choosing. They still lost, and in one of the bluest states of non-coastal America. Who'll fear them now? Say what you will about the Tea Party, it collected scalps. The unions plus Occupy plus the remnants of the '08 Obama campaign have not. Perhaps that will change if a Republican wins the White House - but until and unless the left loses that fight too, we won't know.


I'm even more unhappy with how it happened, with national Democrats basically sitting on their hands while conservatives poured resources into the race.


Over the past five years I've read more and more progressive lamentations of the decline of organized labor in the United States, but typically in narratives that seem to deny agency to the union leaders themselves. But part of what you see in Wisconsin is labor leaders paying the price for inability to deliver their own members.

Frum (who is probably ok with the Wisconsin results) and Krugman both end on a somewhat positive note for Dems. But it's ugly, and i don't see the Dems getting better organized in time for the election later this year.

By fnord12 | June 6, 2012, 5:11 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

June 5, 2012

Children's Medieval Band

I meant to post this months ago.

Three Romanian (living in the U.S.) children, ages 5, 8, and 10, being totally awesome.

I got worried towards the end that the littlest one would get tired and pass out.

If you're unfamiliar with the original Rammstein version, here it is.

Rammstein later invited them to open for them at the Denver Colliseum in May 2012.

By min | June 5, 2012, 3:42 PM | Music| Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | June 5, 2012, 1:04 PM | Comics| Link

June 4, 2012

What madness is this?

Ok, i made a little joke in the alt tag of my previous post, but i really did check, and this is something i actually did see:

$3 shipping for an 8x10 piece of paper?  Are they hand delivered by a gold-plated postman?

I'll guess link to the actual posting but i don't know how long these links stay valid. I ran into this once before looking at listings of ROM action figures, and i found this. But i didn't realize it was a *thing*. This guy's store description says:

While we sell all kinds of things, our primary focus over the past few years has been on combing through thousands of publications to find old ads for specialist collectors.

Dude! I have like a million comic books! Can i really cut them up and sell the ad pages in each for $7 a pop?

Alternatively, i'd better hurry up and buy every Marvel comic that i don't own yet before this guy gets to them. I can fund that by selling ads from all my comics. It's a Mobius strip (did they have ads?)!

By fnord12 | June 4, 2012, 6:50 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Secret Wars or Maximum Clonage?

I checked.  No one is selling an unopened mint-in-bag package of Dorman's Cheese on ebay.

By fnord12 | June 4, 2012, 6:47 PM | Comics| Link

Why aren't people reading comics?

John Seavy at MightyGodKing asks the question and raises some interesting points, much of which i agree with (but not all).

But i think the mistake people run into here is that it really doesn't have a lot to do with the quality of the story at all. It's the medium, not the message. People go see movies. They watch TV. They don't read comic books. They play video games. They mess around with their smart phones and tablets. Most people probably don't even know that comics are still being published anymore, but even if they found out, they're not going to start subscribing to them. I actually think comics are written and drawn in a way that is more accessible today than ever before. Not necessarily better, but more modern. Less villain high-speak. Less repeated exposition. More realistic dialogue, flashy, eye-catching art that is also "realistic" in a superficial way.

I think most people that came out of the Avengers movie, if handed a trade of just about any recent Marvel story arc, would read it and go, yeah, that was fun. But that's it. They've got jobs and families. They're going to go see a movie every once in a while on the weekend. They're going to relax in front of the tv at night. Their kids are going to play video games. No one's got time or dedicated interest to keep up with the ongoing Marvel Universe.

I think a lot of comic fans fall into a trap here. They don't like the way modern writers are treating longstanding characters. And they see declining sales. And they put two and two together, but the answer here isn't four. Because there's another variable in the equation, which is the fact that comics, as a medium, have become a niche market kept alive by a dwindling population of long time fans, and there's nothing inherent in the stories that will change that.

By fnord12 | June 4, 2012, 4:05 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

The oil barrier

Kevin Drum:

Generally speaking, we're finally living in the world of peak oil. Or call it plateaued oil if you like, since we seem to have hit a rough plateau in oil production that's likely to continue for quite a while. This is the world of the vicious circle: when the economy gets better, demand for oil goes up and oil prices spike. This causes the economy to tank, which sends demand for oil down. Rinse and repeat... And since, in this brave new world, the price of oil gyrates frequently and erratically, it's hard to get people serious about this. If oil were, say, permanently above $200 per barrel or so, we'd be building wind farms and installing PV solar at breakneck speed. But whenever the price of Brent falls below $90 or so, everyone gets nervous and wonders if wind farms and solar arrays are really such a good investment after all.

By fnord12 | June 4, 2012, 10:46 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

June 1, 2012

Who could pass up a deal like that?

Or you could throw the book out when you're done with it.  Either way.

By fnord12 | June 1, 2012, 11:48 PM | Boooooks| Link

Isn't this an act of war?


From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

I'm pretty sure that's an act of war. The Pentagon seems to think so, based on this article from a year ago:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

I ask because just a few days ago, Obama promised us no more wars than were "absolutely necessary".

By fnord12 | June 1, 2012, 12:58 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Recap 47

Enemies Made, Loyalties Earned

By min | June 1, 2012, 11:36 AM | D&D| Link

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