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October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Pics

We really didn't get hit too bad compared to other areas. No flooding. But plenty of uprooted trees and downed power lines.

First here's a radar image from my cousin, who is an Airborne Meteorologist for the US Air Force Hurricane Hunters. He flew right into 117 mph winds to get us this picture, so appreciate it!

The big green blob... we have angered it.

And now, pics from our neighborhood the day after the storm.

This was just a few houses down from us.  The poor guy's windshield was totally smashed.

This is what caused our power outage, i think.  It's actually in better shape than when we first saw it; the entire set of wires was pined down by a tree.

People actually stood under it and pointed up at it.  Dummies.

This one looks more like it got struck by lightning.

Luckily the housing association pays for damages to the outside of the house.

Similar trees all around; we were lucky none came down on us.

This one was very polite.  There were cars on either side but it landed in the middle.

And the flag was still... mostly there.

By fnord12 | October 31, 2012, 5:01 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link

Still alive

Quick post to say we got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, but everything's fine. Power is back after 24+ hours but no internet (except by phone, which is spotty).

Will post some pics when we have real internet again.

Thanks to all the spammers who took the opportunity to attack my comics website while i was away.

By fnord12 | October 31, 2012, 9:04 AM | My stupid life| Link

October 28, 2012

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Never has the refrain of "lots of issues to go through so lets keep this short" been more true...

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 - The expectations game on this one has been weird. This series has been crap, so obviously i didn't expect much of this issue. But then the reviews started coming out saying that this issue at least ended the series well and even made sense out of the previous issues. So ultimately i went in with higher expectations than i probably should have. There were some good moments here, but i'm sticking with "crap" as my overall assessment of the event. I'm not even sure what the turning point of the Avengers' strategy was... Tony Stark suddenly starts talking about "faith" and now the Scarlet Witch and Hope can do what they could have done all along and punch Cyclops in the face a lot? Ok, i guess there's the weird Iron Fist angle that was, well i don't want to say "developed" but i guess shoehorned into this series. As a direction-changing exercise (undoing "No more mutants" and setting up an Avengers team that is "a bit more... uncanny" (ugh!)) this was about 11 issues too long. I still think the problem for this series can be found in this post from The Hurting which was a bit of a revelation for me. Marvel is planning out their story arcs at the macro-macro level. And if you just read these events in their bullet-point form - House of M, the changes in Cyclops, the militarization of the Avengers due to Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Dark Reign - this works as a culmination. But to anyone reading the individual issues this has been poorly executed.

Uncanny X-Men #19 - As has been the case for the past few issues, Gillen adds some necessary characterization to the AvX storyline. Would have been better as part of the actual series, but this was still good. I'm sure the oblique reference to the "white hot room" got Tom Brevoort's formspring page frothing, but i've been staying away.

Astonishing X-Men #54 - I'm about ready to drop this.

Avengers #30 - Spider-Woman needs a revamp. Bendis brought her to prominence, which is a good thing, but then he turned her into Hawkeye's hysterical sort-of love interest, which has not been a fun move. I'm hoping her "This isn't me. This is not what I want to act like" moment actually goes somewhere. Oh, and this was not an AvX crossover despite what the cover said (which is fine with me).

Avengers Academy #37-38 - A nice ending to Final Exam and a GREAT downtime issue afterwards. Every panel of #38 had some wonderful character moment. The creative teams announced for Marvel NOW are such a disappointing shuffle of the same boring people; i really wish Gage was getting Avengers or something.

Captain Marvel #4-5 - It's so weird for this series to have started off with a time-travel romp that also seems to be leading into a revamp of Carol's origin. If the idea is to make Marvel a prominent super-hero both in the Marvel Universe and in real life, having her off in a time period where no one will ever know what she's up to is a very difficult way to do it. At least the art in issue #5 was more accessible than the previous four.

Daredevil #18-19 - I think it's hilarious that this has all been a build-up to a revamp of The Spot. This continues to be a good book.

Dark Avengers #181-182 - The whole name change to Dark Avengers clearly was a bait and switch since the book continued to be about the Thunderbolts, and the DA characters were essentially the bad guys. Not that i'm complaining. Even with all the Judge Dredd stuff, i really enjoyed this and again wish Parker was going to be somewhere more prominent after the Marvel NOW shuffle (how about Fantastic Four?). I was pleasantly surprised that this book was allowed to be the place where the Juggernaut's status quo is restored.

Thor #19-21 / Journey Into Mystery #644 - This is parts 2 and 4-6 of Everything Burns; we wound up getting this slightly out of order. It was a fun event. I loved Davis' art on the Thor issues. Might not be a great introduction to the complex scheming of Young Loki for new readers coming in from Thor, but that's moot anyway with the series getting replaced with Sif solo stories.

New Mutants #49 - I didn't really care, i have to say. Sorry Abnett & Lanning.

Spider-Men #5 - This was kinda over last issue, so this just had everyone standing around saying goodbye for 20 pages. Unless that fight with Mysterio was supposed to be an actual super-hero fight but it sure wasn't paced like one. And man, that Mysterio sure can take a bunch of spider-punches to the face without his completely not super-powered skull getting crushed, huh? This was a still a fun little series, and i'm happy with the implication that the Ultimate universe is just some stupid What If pocket-verse like i've known all along.

Winter Soldier #11 - Having Hawkeye in this story doesn't really add much. Hawkeye and Iceman were pretty fun together in Avengers Academy. Here Hawkeye is just another ultra-competent agent to fight alongside Bucky. Anyway, this is moving along fine but i've sort of lost any investment in it now that's it's cancelled. Even Guice isn't bothering me.

X-Factor #244-245 - I don't know what i think about turning Siryn into a Celtic goddess, but i'm glad to see that Lorna isn't going to remain a vegetable. I definitely like PAD's issues when there's no adventure plot, like in these two. He's great at characterization and humor and he makes all the interactions a lot of fun. And i really appreciate him doing his best to plausibly set up Havoc for leaving the book and totally changing his MO and costume after his plans in this book were derailed by AvX.

X-Men Legacy #274 - I know it goes back to Claremont but the Rogue/Magneto relationship thing is really weird to me. But getting past that, i thought this was a well written character issue. Too bad, again, the book is effectively cancelled. I've enjoyed David Baldeon's art on these issues as well.

Avengers Assemble #8 - Oh whatever. I can't believe i'm going to be reading a Guardians of the Galaxy book by Bendis when there's a perfectly good Abnett and Lanning floundering on a soon-to-be-cancelled New Mutants book. I'm not sure what the significance of the Cosmic Cube in this story being man-made was supposed to be; wasn't the original Cube also man-made (by AIM)? At least this issue acknowledges that Thanos and Starlord were in the Cancerverse. I guess the Stranger and In-Betweener are officially Elders of the Universe... i wonder when that happened. And where's the Gardener??!?

Avengers #31 - This was good. I hope Bendis restores Wonder Man to sanity before this is all over. Looking forward to a Microverse romp if that's where things are going.

New Avengers #31 - This is me doing my best not to complain about the lack of coordination on the use of Hellstorm between here and in JiM. Beyond that, this seemed fine. Lately i've been fooled at the start of each new Bendis arc; starts off promising but never goes anywhere. Hopefully since these are also going to be his series finales, we'll go out with a bang.

AvX Consequences #1-2 - Gillen's basically continuing here what he was doing in Uncanny X-Men during the AvX crossover, and it's just as good. Captain America's new costume is just ridiculous, though. Hilariously stupid looking. It's like his costume was in the wash so he had to go to a Halloween store to buy a replacement.

Avenging Spider-Man #13 - An improvement over last issue. Silly fun stuff.

Captain America #18 - This all seemed to wrap up a bit too easily but i still enjoyed it.

Red She-Hulk #58 - Parker has a nice pro-feminist statement of direction for this book so i was a bit disappointed in having an attempted rape scene in this first issue. Beyond that, we'll see where it goes. I had no interest in a Red Hulk but Parker more than made it work so i'm hoping to see the same magic worked on Red She-Hulk.

Wolverine and the X-Men #17 - Allred and Doop! This was a fun, crazy, totally "end times" book.

Uncanny Avengers #1 - I thought the Havok recruitment scene was done well enough. Havok's new costume isn't looking good either though, guys. Just go with the original; it's comics! But the Scarlet Witch/Rogue scene was pretty bad; it would have been better to have it come to some sort of reasonable resolution instead of getting interrupted by an attack by the Red Skull's Lamest Minions EverTM. Not sure i love the Scarlet Witch's costume either but i appreciate that the change here was probably about giving her some pants. It sure is convenient for an Avengers-side villain to be engaging in a plot involving mutants right at a time that Cap is forming this integrated team, but we'll see how this goes.

By fnord12 | October 28, 2012, 12:54 PM | Comics | Comments (16) | Link

October 26, 2012

Book Review: Marvel Comics - the Untold Story

So when Sean Howe's Marvel Comics - the Untold Story was announced, my first thought was "Man, all i do in my spare time is read comics and write about comics. I don't want to also read about comics." Then, of course, i bought and read the book.

And it's really great. In many ways it's sort of a compendium of every unsourced tidbit from every fanzine on the subject of Marvel comics, and i missed out on all of that so i was really glad to have it all collected for me. It's a fascinating read and it gives me a lot of fodder with which to go back and update my Timeline project with some behind-the-scenes trivia. From that perspective alone, it's a useful book.

But it also becomes pretty clear early on that the agenda of the book is to highlight the creator rights problems inherent in a shared universe and work-for-hire situation. And it does a great job of building that case, unfortunately too late for Jack Kirby. Along with that the book contrasts the creative vs. business sides of Marvel and how both change over time with changes in popular and business culture. And it shows that the real goal from nearly the beginning has been to turn Marvel intellectual property into Hollywood movies, and it's interesting to see how that languished for so long.

I do have some quibbles, of course...

The first, and probably least important, is a "balance" issue. This was probably inevitable since it's sometimes anonymously unsourced and since the book couldn't be 30,000 pages. But some of the stories told, like the story of how Roger Stern and John Byrne quit Captain America, follows the John Byrne version (that it was because they wanted to do a two part story at a time when Shooter had declared all stories must be one-and-done) which has been contradicted by Stern and Shooter. There's a few others like that (including some details on the return of Kirby's art). I know i'm just reinforcing my Shooter-Booster reputation, but it's the fact that Shooter had a blog addressing these issues that made me aware of them and therefore wonder what else has been left out or written based on an interview with one off-the-record person.

On to more substantive concerns... One of the book's blindspots is the lack of correlation between the independence of the creator and the success of the characters. Without seemingly realizing it Sean Howe repeatedly contrasts the relative success of Marvel characters with the obscurity of independently owned creations, be it the Carl Burgos/Joe Simon/Myron Fass' attempt at some competition with Marvel in the mid-60s, Image's mere flash-in-the-pan success, or Marvel's own experiments with creator-owned books with Epic and Icon. This is relevant when looking at the ownership disputes raised in the book around characters like Blade and Ghost Rider. Would those characters even be worth disputing if it wasn't for the fact that they were incorporated into a shared universe and built upon by multiple creators? Howe doesn't address it.

The question is an important one because it points to the Catch-22 in these creator ownership issues. If the creators own the characters, they'll never be developed into icons popular enough for mass media (obviously there are exceptions to this, like Kick Ass and Walking Dead; not covered in the book). But if creators don't own them, they reap almost nothing of the benefits when the characters do achieve popularity. So how to solve that problem? Well, the solution for Stan Lee was for Marvel to effectively adopt him as a mascot. He didn't own the characters and didn't directly benefit from the exploitation of the characters and universe he co-created, but he was well compensated (including royalties) and kept on in various roles throughout Marvel's various incarnations. But obviously that's not sustainable. I'd argue something similar should have been done for Kirby and Ditko, but even that is a slippery slope. Solving this problem is outside the scope of this review but i was a little disappointed in the way these issues weren't addressed.

My other main complaint starts with the fact that about 3/4ths of the book cover everything up to the end of the Shooter years, and from there it's all kind of a blur as the business side of things starts to get much more directly involved in the creative side and the focus changes more on the financial dealings and ownerships and bankruptcy negotiations and away from the creative behind-the-scenes (beyond "we had to publish lots and lots of books regardless of quality to meet financial goals" which is admittedly a key takeaway). And that's unfortunate because buried in there is an important seeming blocker to success that's hinted at but never really covered satisfactorily, and that is (of course!) the question of continuity. A little earlier on there's a complaint about how the word "fan" comes from "fanatic" and the disappointment of some older creators that they aren't creating books for kids anymore (although that shift was Stan Lee's stated goal), and then there's this line:

Marvel knew that their core flagship properties were ill... The properties that they had, had just failed over and over again to sell to Hollywood... The idea that Captain America was frozen in ice for 50 years was laughable in Hollywood... asking the Talmudic continuity scholars in Marvel editorial to throw away the holy litany of Stan and Jack to satisfy Hollywood was having no effect at all, they just weren't getting anywhere.

Then there's Bill Jemas' quest to make the Marvel comics accessible to readers coming in from the X-Men movies and how that led him to want to throw away all Marvel continuity, which he instead backed away from in favor of creating the Ultimate line. Before that there was Heroes Reborn, also aborted. And there's the back-and-forth on Spider-Man's almost-reboot through the Clone Saga and then the real reboot through Mephisto. And this idea that the writers were held hostage to the fanbase:

Coordinating [promotion and tie-ins with the movies] with the comic books was easier said than done. Although the X-Men titles remained at the top of the charts, they were as much a creative battleground as ever, as a half-dozen succession writers complained of editorial micromanaging and rewriting. The editors, meanwhile insisted they were only listening to the fans, that letter-writing campaigns determined which characters stayed or departed. "What do the fans want?" one writer grumbled. "They want change. What happens when you give them change? It's not the change they wanted, and everybody wants things back the way they were?"

OK, but if business strategy was to get ready for an influx of new readers from the movies, why were the editors instead supposedly reacting to letter-writing campaigns from current readers? Why all these failed or contrived attempts at simplifying or wiping out continuity? The answer, not given in the book, is that the drastically reduced direct market fan base was all that Marvel could rely on at this point, and they were sticking around because of their attachment to the existing continuity. In reality no matter how popular the movies would be, that wasn't going to translate into an influx of new readers and Marvel couldn't afford to alienate their current customer base. It's literally THE story of the past 15 years or so at Marvel but it's not covered directly in Marvel Comics - the Untold Story.

Complaints aside - and even the fact that i can have these types of substantive complaints - the book is an engaging read. It ends on the relative high note of Marvel finally being successful with its movie attempts (although for me it doesn't make enough of the fact that the Cap movie does indeed use the "frozen in ice" origin" or that the Avengers movie was directed by Joss Whedon, who was quoted earlier in the book as saying he was leaving Astonishing X-Men because he had no idea if the characters he liked were going to be "dead, rebooted, Ultimated or wearing a black costume by the time I get to them") and it's a nice attempt at laying out a historical review of Marvel. I guess with my complaints i'm really saying i can't wait for the sequel so that Howe can expand on all these topics and the later years generally.

By fnord12 | October 26, 2012, 5:09 PM | Boooooks & Comics| Link




By fnord12 | October 26, 2012, 2:30 PM | Science & Ummm... Other?| Link

That's really how it works, guys

As readers may have observed, i am very much on the liberal side of the spectrum and i'm not against increasing taxes on the wealthy in the long term. But as i've argued many times on this blog, reducing the deficit is a long term problem that is at odds with the short term goal of having an economy with 8% unemployment and crappy growth. So i was pleased that TPM put together a post warning about the short term economic problems of increasing taxes on the rich (even quoting Dean Baker) and other deficit-reducing items. We're in an economic depression where people aren't spending and businesses aren't spending, so in order to balance that out, the government has to spend. Tax cuts are the worst type of stimulus (it's much better to build infrastructure; somewhat better to give money to state governments so they won't lay off their teachers), but at least it's spending, so now is not the time to let tax cuts expire.

"If you get all three and no offsetting stimulative measures you knock around 1.2 [percentage points] from growth and add perhaps 0.6 [percentage points] to the unemployment rate," says Dean Baker, cofounder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "In a baseline, with no bad news from the government we might have expected to see 3.0 percent growth next year (housing comeback is the good news here) and perhaps a 0.4 [percentage points] drop in the unemployment rate. These three together get us down around 2.0 percent growth and basically no progress on unemployment."

That's based on what economists call Okun's law -- a rule of thumb that allows them to estimate how changes in GDP will impact employment. The estimates don't take into account that certain budget cuts hit the economy harder than others.

(The "three" refers to the payroll tax expiration, a "targeted" sequestration, and the expiration or partial expiration of the Bush tax cuts.)

So good article, raising an important point and helpfully clarifying the difference between deficit reduction and our short term (but lingering) economic problems, right?

Well, not according to the commenters, who denounce the article as a "GOP talking point" and say things like "Why should we pay any attention to 'economists' who claim that making the rich pay something closer to their fair share would hurt the economy?". Yeah, Dean Baker isn't a real economist, so go ahead and use scare quotes, and he's clearly a right wing hack. But even if you don't know who he is, how about taking the argument on the merits.

One commenter does make the point that the super-rich keep their money in offshore accounts and don't actually spend it, so it's "safe" to tax, and that may have some truth to it (although i'd argue that the tax increase will affect more than just that group) but even so you're basically saying there's no harm but also no gain. We need to be spending right now!

I was originally going to say this was a partisan Dem vs. actual liberal thing (like opposition to drone assassinations only when Bush is in office), but i'm not even sure that's what it is this time. I think the whole "reducing the deficit hurts the economy" thing is just counter-intuitive to a lot of people, which explains why Dem politicians who probably know better don't even try to explain it.

By fnord12 | October 26, 2012, 11:12 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Texas vs. the UN

The anti-UN sentiment in some parts of this country is bewildering to me. But here's the latest. The Texas Attorney General is making a stand on the UN's election observers. The UN has appealed to the State Department, but the Texas AG's also wrote a letter to State saying that the OSCE is "under the misimpression that the State Department can somehow help its representatives circumvent the Texas Election Code."

By fnord12 | October 26, 2012, 10:51 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link


Jailed for flatulance. The ACLU explains the trend.

By fnord12 | October 26, 2012, 10:49 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

October 25, 2012

Belief in Science No Guarantee Your Brain Works

Because if it was, all of these science-believers wouldn't think the winning counter-argument to a woman talking about sexism could in any way possible involve the word "cunt" and threats of rape.

When I first got involved with the skeptics, I thought I had found my people--a community that enjoyed educating the public about science and critical thinking.
Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn't able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics' conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events. And then I made the grave mistake of responding to a fellow skeptic's YouTube video in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM). I replied to say that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much more damaging than male circumcision.

The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:

     "honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could"

I don't know who these skeptics are or why they get their own category. They could be total kooks or fantastic geniuses. I don't really care. No matter what this woman or any other woman has said, there is never any excuse for saying they "deserve to be raped". That automatically catapults you into a category where you should no longer be allowed to express opinions because there's something wrong with you.

And i thought Republicans were bad.

The skeptics should join forces with the female gamers who have long been experiencing harassment and form their own community. One where calling out misogyny doesn't get turned around to be the woman's fault for "overreacting". Afterall, getting groped at a convention and called an "ugly cunt" is all in good fun, ha ha.

By min | October 25, 2012, 2:42 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

"Kill List" is now inoperative. Please use "disposition matrix"

A good clearing house for the latest in awful is here. Some call-outs from various quoted pieces:

The United States' conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.
Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.

"We can't possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us," a senior administration official said. "It's a necessary part of what we do... We're not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, 'We love America.' "

The article also notes that the CIA is seeking to expand its own fleet of armed drones, a development which I find kind of odd and potentially troubling. Do we really want an intelligence agency to have access to its own fleet of armed drones? Shouldn't that kind of thing be consolidated with the military, where weapons like this ordinary belong, with the CIA providing logistical and intelligence support on an as-needed basis? If nothing else, a development like this suggests that the CIA is going to continue its transformation from an agency primarily dedicated to the gathering of intelligence to a paramilitary organization
What has been created here - permanently institutionalized - is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a "matrix" that determines the "disposition" of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight.
You can't bomb terror out of existence, you can't capture it on the battlefield, and you can't negotiate peace with it. On some level, fighting a "War On Terror" makes as much sense as calling World War One a "War On Tanks." By characterizing the conflict in this way, though, our government has essentially made it inevitable that we would be fighting a never-ending war that would continue to provide us with excuses to intervene throughout the world, either with ground troops or drone strikes. That's because you can never really say that you've defeated "terror."
Obama did not run for president to preside over the codification of a global war fought in secret. But that's his legacy.

By fnord12 | October 25, 2012, 2:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Does Selling Your Used Good Violate Copyright?

The Supreme Court will be hearing this case on Monday.

The Supreme Court case concerns something called the "first-sale doctrine" in copyright law. Simply put, the doctrine means that you can buy and sell the stuff you purchase. Even if someone has copyright over some piece of your stuff, you can sell it without permission from the copyright holder because the copyright holder can only control the "first-sale." The Supreme Court has recognized this doctrine since 1908.
The companies that have gone to court and sued over selling their "copyrights" include a watchmaker and shampoo producer. They have gone to court arguing that one part of the Copyright Act -- which gives them a right against unauthorized imports -- invalidates the first-sale doctrine.
Continuing a long string of similar cases, the Supreme Court will review a New York federal court decision that decided, in short, that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to any copyrighted product manufactured abroad. That case concerns textbooks.

John Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher, sells expensive versions of the textbooks here and less expensive versions abroad. Supap Kirtsaeng, a foreign graduate student at University of Southern California, decided to help pay for his schooling by having relatives buy him copies of the foreign versions abroad, send them to him, whereupon he'd sell those books on eBay to willing students. He'd make money, the students would save money, but Wiley might have fewer sales of its pricey American versions. The case is styled Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons.

Both the District and Second Circuit courts held that any product manufactured abroad is not subject to the first-sale doctrine. For instance, that iPad you sold. You noticed this statement: "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." Same for the iPods you've owned, the iPhones, and the MacBooks. Because those products were manufactured abroad, according to the Second Circuit, the first-sale doctrine doesn't apply to them. You need the permission of every copyright holder to sell the iPad.

That means, you need to ask Apple for permission, and probably Google, whose Maps software comes bundled with the iPad, and includes Google copyrights. Under this rule, when you sell some of your stuff on eBay or Craigslist (a couch, some books, electronics, posters, an old television, a toaster), you have to look up whether it has a copyrighted logo anywhere and find out whether the product was manufactured in the U.S. or abroad.

The idea that a company gets to tell me whether or not i have a right to sell the shit i bought and should now own is outrageous to me. Think about it. Where were the parts of your car manufactured? Should buying and selling your used car require first getting permission from the car manufacturer? What about all that stuff people put out for garage sales.

And stores where the entire business model hinges on resale of used items - think Princeton Record Exchange. Want to trade in your cds for credit towards that reinforced record bag sized pile of used CDs? Not if you don't have documentation showing you've got permission from the copyright holders, my friend.

Which brings me to my bitterness on e-books and Amazon in particular. You might have paid for that e-book, but you don't own it. Amazon and the publishers can dictate what you do with that e-book, and if they so choose, just delete it from your files. That's bullshit. Is there anyone who doesn't think that's bullshit? It's the same as Amazon showing up at your door, walking over to your bookcase, and taking your copy of Pride & Prejudice cause they found out you lent it to more than 1 person and for more than 2 weeks.


This is the shit all those wacky "keep government out of my home" types ought to be coming out against in force. Sadly, they're too busy fighting against their own interests by opposing social service expenditures.

Demand Progress has a web-generated letter you can send to the White House and Congress plus links to post to your Facebook or Twitter accounts if you're into that sort of thing.

By min | October 25, 2012, 10:28 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Bruce Dickinson, no!

In case you don't know, Bruce Dickinson is the most awesome man in the world, as this introductory sentence from Wikipedia makes clear: "Paul Bruce Dickinson... is an English singer, songwriter, airline pilot, fencer, broadcaster, author, screenwriter, actor and former marketing director, best known as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden."

I have always been a big fan of classic Iron Maiden (up to and including Seventh Son) but i never paid any attention to Maiden's later stuff or Dickinson's solo career. So when min and i came across this last night, well... first i thought it was a Def Leppard song. Then i was just gobsmacked.

Look, Wikipedia tells me that Dickinson wrote this song after Nikki Sixx seduced away his wife, so i'll kind of give him a pass, and i'll admit that the video itself is either awesomely awful or awfully awesome, but that is such a bad song and the power-pop sound is so far away from Iron Maiden i'm still sure it's all an elaborate ruse of some kind.

By fnord12 | October 25, 2012, 9:49 AM | Music | Comments (1) | Link

October 23, 2012

Vegan Whipped Cream

fnord12 pointed out that i've neglected to include such a recipe. That's a serious oversight. I heartily apologize.

Pour toi:


  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, cold, not shaken
  • 4 T powdered sugar (or to taste)
  • Yield: ~1 1/2 cups whipped cream

Pop the bowl and beater for your electric mixer into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Add the coconut fat to the bowl, making sure not to include any of the liquid. Add the powdered sugar. Whip on super high speed until the beaters start making tracks in the cream. Taste it. If it's not as sweet as you'd like, throw in another tablespoon of powdered sugar and whip until totally combined.

Refrigerate for an hour to stiffen it up or use it right away if you like it soft. If you prefer the cream to remain soft, you should add a couple of tablespoons of the coconut water to the bowl prior to whipping.

Don't forget to lick the beaters completely clean because it's a sin to waste food.

The coconut water is great in smoothies, btw, so there you go - not wasting that either.

By min | October 23, 2012, 8:58 PM | Vegan Vittles| Link

Baking Day

I made some stuff.

all vegan: pumpkin bread, gingersnap cookies, mini pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie

me (at 11pm): aw, i didn't even get to make croissants.

fnord12: Please don't make any more food.

To be fair, that full-sized pie is going to a friend. And i didn't intend to make pumpkin bread, but i had extra pie filling and no more crusts to put it in.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pie Crust Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 T butter, cold and cut into cubes (we like Earth Balance sticks)
  • 1/2 vegan egg (we like Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 4 tsp ice water
  • 1 T non-dairy milk
  • Yield: 1 Single Crust (up to 10")

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and mix to combine. Add 3 T of the butter (half) and continue mixing until the mixture holds together when you clump it, and there are pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible.

Meanwhile, whisk together egg replacer, ice water, and milk in small bowl.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and process until a dough forms. Add remaining butter and pulse in short bursts a few times to incorporate. There should be small clumps of butter in the dough. Wrap and refrigerate for several hours. (The dough will keep for several days in the fridge and several weeks in the freezer.)

Roll out as needed. Chill the pie shell for about 30 minutes before baking.

Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

  • 29oz can solid-packed pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup rich non-dairy milk (we like Silk Soy Creamer)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice or ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

If you're one of those industrious types, you could actually use fresh pumpkin. Cut up a fresh sugar pumpkin and steam the pieces so the insides are nice and scrapeable (there are plenty of instructions on how to do this on the interwebs). Just make sure to drain it for several hours in a hanging cheesecloth else you'll have pumpkin soup in a pie crust bowl instead. I did this once. Notice the recipe i am giving you uses canned pumpkin.

If the puréed pumpkin looks a bit lumpy, whir it around in a food processor first.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients (sift the cornstarch post-measuring) and whisk until well combined.

Pour the filling into the prepared pastry shell. Cover the edges with foil and bake for 30 min at 350degF. Reduce temperature to 325degF, uncover crust edges, and bake for an additional 30 min.

Allow pie to sit in cooling oven. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Mini Pies: Seeing as i ended up with extra filling, i couldn't say for sure what the proper proportions should be. It's something close to 2/3 of the pie crust recipe plus 1/2 of the filling recipe. Using a round cutter slightly larger than the top diameter of one cup of a muffin tin, cut out circles of dough. Drop the dough into the greased muffin cups, making sure to center. "Crimp" the edges by making small indentations with a chopstick-like utensil. Fill each up and bake for half the time as a full-sized pie.

Vegan Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (we usu use canola)
  • 2 vegan eggs (we like Ener-G Egg Replacer)

  • 1/3 cup water
  • half of a 15oz can solid-packed pumpkin purée (or if you don't know what to do with an unused half can of pumpkin mush, just double the recipe and use the whole can)
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Yield: 8 mini loaves or 1 9-inch loaf

Grease the pan.

If your pumpkin looks a bit lumpy, whir it around in a food processor until smooth. Whisk together the sugar, oil, and egg replacer. Add the water and pumpkin. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add half of the dry mixture to the pumpkin mix. Stir gently until just combined. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.

Spoon batter into the pan, filling about halfway. Bake at 350degF for 30-35 min or until an inserted pointy thing into the middle comes out clean.

Cool for 10 min before removing from pan and cooling on a wire rack.

Vegan Gingersnaps


  • 1/2 cup butter (we like Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 vegan egg (we like Ener-G)
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • Yield: ~30 cookies

Cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and egg and beat until smooth.

Sift the flour with baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350degF.

To be honest, these cookies aren't all that snappy. They are a bit crisp on the bottom, especially right after they come out of the oven, but for the most part, they're more of a "gingerchewy". And when i make them extra buttery (cause why wouldn't you?), they're ginger-unsnaps of deliciousness. That's the same recipe with an extra 1/4 cup of butter, if you're interested.

I love the cookies and i love the bread, but let's face it - the only reason for pumpkin pie is to have a way to shovel whipped cream into your face without being too conspicuous. Mini pies are surprisingly efficient as whipped cream shovels.

By min | October 23, 2012, 8:28 PM | Vegan Vittles| Link

Firefox, Movable Type, and Checkboxes

Graaah! Just putting this out there in case there's someone listening or searching who may be able help with, or at least confirm, this. But it seems with a recent Firefox upgrade, Movable Type (5.12) has stopped recognizing when i've checked Category checkboxes. They're checked, you submit the entry, and then they're not checked and your post has no categories.

Old standbye Internet Explorer works fine. But i prefer writing my posts in Firefox. Despite the commercial that plays about 30 times every time we watch the Daily Show online, i still find IE to be slow and clunky.

I see MT has version 5.2 out as of last month. So i could try upgrading to that, although MT upgrades usually result in at least a day's worth of tears, and there's nothing of interest to me in the upgrade and no guarantee it would fix this problem.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 3:01 PM | My stupid life| Link

He's kidding, right?

Todd Allen at The Beat puts forth the idea that the inspiration for Marvel NOW! comes from the Dynamite Invaders series Invaders Now! "Replete with that exclamation point", he says.

I have to assume he's just mocking Marvel somehow. Tacking NOW! on the end of something is just a way of signaling that you can't afford a Marketing department. It doesn't exactly require an origin story. So this must be a rare humor post for The Beat. But judging by Allen's response to the first comment, i'm not so sure.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 2:55 PM | Comics| Link

Marvel Sales


Update: 35k sales for Fantastic Four seems particularly sad.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 2:38 PM | Comics| Link

Virtuous Circle

Since, thanks to my previous proposal i've been put in charge of Marvel's move to online distribution and i'm nominating all my imaginary blog readers to be my editors and VPs, i'd like to ask you all to read this. We're going to have to start thinking about these kind of problems now.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 1:59 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Put your liberty where your mouth is

Putting scientists in jail for failing to predict an earthquake, or failing to contradict a false prediction, is, of course, ridiculous, but on the other hand i would be tempted to vote Yes on a referendum putting the same stakes in play for our economic and political pundits.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 1:54 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1) | Link

Origin Of

By fnord12 | October 23, 2012, 1:08 PM | Comics| Link

October 19, 2012

Two unrelated positive developments

1. Moviegoers are wising up to 3-D movies.

2. FTC offers a $50,000 prize to anyone who can figure out how to block robocalls.

By fnord12 | October 19, 2012, 2:17 PM | Liberal Outrage & Movies| Link

October 18, 2012

OMG the Yelpers!

It's true! It's all true!

By fnord12 | October 18, 2012, 3:37 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

*Sputter* Moyers isn't even funded by PBS

One of the greatest tactics Republicans have is falsely accusing Democrats of not doing bad things. It happened in the most recent debate: Romney accused Obama of kicking oil and gas companies out of national parks. It isn't true - all the Obama administration did was revoke permits for companies that weren't using them - but in my opinion it *should* be true. So you're left in this weird position that, win or lose, pushes the conversation further to the right.

I'm not quite sure if this falls in that category, but i wanted to put it out there as a warning before i get into this nonsense. Two weeks back, we downloaded a debate between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly, and one thing that surprised me was O'Reilly's awareness of and apparent hatred of kindly old Bill Moyers. The topic was about our deficit and how we shouldn't be wasting money on things like PBS because Bill Moyers! Moyers is a more obvious target for the right than Big Bird, but i didn't realize he was on their radar screen.

Anyway, it was bewildering and while Stewart took on the obvious "PBS funding is insignificant in the face of the deficit" angle, he didn't come to a defense of Moyers. He might not even be aware of him. But now it turns out that Bill Moyers' show is entirely funded by supporters and not relevant to the budget discussion anyway.

By fnord12 | October 18, 2012, 3:21 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Go with the system you've got

I love this from Atrios:

I've long been puzzled why we can't steer ourselves towards a better future by overpaying oil companies to build solar and windmills and overpaying war contractors to build SUPERTRAINS. Hell, they can put front mounted missiles on them if they want.

Existing stakeholders have immense political power and we obviously can't wish them away, but can't we bribe them to do good instead of evil?

By fnord12 | October 18, 2012, 3:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Scientists Secretly on the Payroll of Vampires

That's the only logical explanation i can come up with for this study to have even taken place.

Saul Villeda of Stanford University, who led the work, found that blood from young mice reversed some of the effects of ageing in the older mice, improving learning and memory to a level comparable with much younger animals. He said that the technique could one day help people stave off the worst effects of ageing, including conditions such as Alzheimer's.

And let me just say that starting off your article with "Kim Jong-il did it, too" doesn't exactly help your case.

By min | October 18, 2012, 11:51 AM | Science| Link

Taking Marvel to the digital age

Newsweek has announced that they're going "all digital". Obviously i'm going to use this as an opportunity to talk about Marvel comics.

As i mentioned previously, i'm working my way through Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. More on that in a few days, but when i got to the part where Jim Shooter (with Chuck Rozanski and others) starts accelerating the trend from mass market to comic specialty shops it got me thinking about how the industry today could use a similar paradigm shift. Obviously the answer is "all digital" but the reason i put that in quotes above is because what Newsweek is doing is going with a true web-based approach, albeit with a paywall. Right now the strategy in comics seems to be about allowing the download of digital files.

I think that's a decidedly primitive approach that fails to take advantage of the interactivity and inter-connectivity that the web offers, which coincidentally complements the inter-connectivity of stories that is Marvel's most unique asset. It's kind of like finally converting your VHS tapes to DVDs (without creating menus or chapters) in 2012 where pretty soon you're going to want your movies stored on the cloud anyway. Digital downloads are also vulnerable to privacy. And once you download your file, your interaction with Marvel is done, and you're off to the CBR forums to complain about the issue.

It defies every collector's instinct in my soul, but i really think a better approach is a purely web-based solution (with, obviously, optimization for mobile devices). Spitballing a bit here: it could be a subscription service where you purchase a package that allows you to read X number of issues per month. Instead of buying a subscription to, say, Captain America, Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, and X-Men, you buy a subscription that says you can read 4 stories a month, and then you can choose to read Cap or Hulk or whatever you want. Kind of like how the New York Times site works ("You have 5 of your remaining 10 articles left"). And for comics that you've read (or maybe it happens by default), you have the option of putting it in your "collection" where you can go back and read it as many times as you want. The subscription prices should be subsidized by ad sales, same as it is for comics today. There's also got to be a discounted option for unlimited access.

And that's the key, because for me the real value-add here is the ability to link to other comics. Every time there's a reference to an older event, link to the relevant comic. With every character that appears, have the ability to click on them and get their past appearances. When i first encountered Ai Apaec, i went to Google, which brought me to Wikipedia, and then a couple of fan sites. Wouldn't Marvel rather i click directly on the character and read Osborn #1?

And let readers sort their comics by chronological timeline (which could be crowd-sourced by subscribers), or publication timeline, or by creator, or character, or series. And every comic should have the ability for users to leave comments (with modern self-regulation features, so that readers can vote down spammers and assholes) and rate the issue.

There is such a passion out there for the Marvel Universe, and this approach would pull all those passionate readers from all the various sites and message boards and bring them all directly to Marvel, where the interactivity would generate so much activity (and page views) that i think the ad revenue would be HUGE, meaning that subscription costs could be very low, or even not necessary (they're on a much smaller scale, obviously, but most web comics are entirely ad & merch supported).

If the model i'm describing sounds somewhat familiar, that's not a coincidence, and clearly any solution i come up with is going to emphasize Marvel's continuity. Not only would it be more important - profitable! - to promote older stories and ensure that current stories gel with them, but the site also becomes a great resource for writers and editors to keep things accurate. But mainly i think it's really a great way for Marvel to recapitalize all of the older works they've generated over the years while shifting away from the dying print industry and drawing in both casual and hardcore fans. People don't read much anymore, and there's a million forms of entertainment competing for their time. But they're on the web all day long. So put your damn comics on the web, and design a site that keeps people clicking around.

And if Marvel needs a software Product Manager with something resembling experience with this sort of thing, i have someone to recommend.

By fnord12 | October 18, 2012, 9:20 AM | Comics| Link

October 16, 2012

That'll Teach 'Em

Romney: 'On day one I will label China a currency manipulator.'

By min | October 16, 2012, 10:44 PM | Cute Things & Liberal Outrage| Link

October 15, 2012

Happy voting!

Jonathan Chait has a very detailed (6 pages!) summary of the stakes in the upcoming presidential election. I guess the key points are:

  • Romney and Ryan plan to push the Ryan budget through Congress if they win the election, assuming they get at least 50 Republicans in the Senate. They'll use reconciliation to avoid a filibuster. The Ryan budget will essentially destroy any pretense of a social safety net in this country ("It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor.").
  • If Obama wins, on the other hand, he'll still have to deal with a Republican House and he won't be able to push much through Congress.
  • However, if Obama does absolutely nothing and/or vetoes any bills that come his way, the erroneously titled "Fiscal Cliff" will arrive. This means that the Bush tax cuts will expire, and the "Sequestration" that was part of the previous Debt Ceiling agreement will come into effect, causing automatic cuts in domestic and defense spending. The way sequestration is structured, a large number of defense cuts are automatic but Obama will have discretion in how the domestic cuts are implemented.
  • Therefore, by doing nothing, the deficit would be reduced by $5 trillion.
  • Since Republicans don't want the tax cuts to expire or the defense cuts to happen, Obama potentially has leverage to negotiate. It comes down to how credibly Obama is willing to say that he'll allow the automatic cuts happen.
  • Chait thinks that Obama has finally learned to stop trying to reach a bipartisan compromise but later speculates that Obama might cave anyway during the lame duck session.
  • Most of the above focuses on long term deficit problems. In terms of the short term unemployment problems, if Romney wins, his secret Keynesian side will be revealed (and i actually believe Chait here) and he'll engage in some stimulus, albeit in the form of more tax cuts. Obama, on the other hand, seems (per Chait) to have given up on fixing unemployment and is hoping the economy will recover on its own. I'll add that if the automatic cuts happen, that will certainly crush the fragile recovery (any kind of deficit reduction, even of the type that liberals wouldn't object to, like defense cuts or tax increases, are the antithesis of stimulus).

Oh and then there's the return of the debt ceiling issue, coming up again in February/March.

Chait frames this as a choice with no turning back: "the great stalemate between socialism and social Darwinism will break open and likely turn decisively in one direction or the other." I'm not so sure. I see it more like we're left with the ugly choice of Romney wins and we get the benefit of reducing our tragic unemployment numbers at the expense of true suffering for the poor and elderly vs. Obama wins and, if all the cards are played right, a break-even approach to our long term problems, at the expense of ongoing hardship for the unemployed. I'm not sure why Chait thinks either direction is irreversible. Whatever Republicans pass through reconciliation could theoretically be undone if the Democrats ever got a majority and some backbone, and even if Obama fends off the latest social spending cuts disguised as deficit reduction, it's not like it won't come back again (see Clinton's surplus and the Bush tax cuts). But either way it seems we're looking at an ugly four years ahead.

By fnord12 | October 15, 2012, 3:13 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

I Should Have Been a Behavioral Psychologist

Cause i think it's awesome to get to do psychological experiments on children! I'm so jealous of these researchers.

The Marshmallow Test Revisited:

For the past four decades, the "marshmallow test" has served as a classic experimental measure of children's self-control: will a preschooler eat one of the fluffy white confections now or hold out for two later?

Now a new study demonstrates that being able to delay gratification is influenced as much by the environment as by innate ability. Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer--12 versus three minutes--than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations.


The research builds on a long series of marshmallow-related studies that began at Stanford University in the late 1960s. Walter Mischel and other researchers famously showed that individual differences in the ability to delay gratification on this simple task correlated strongly with success in later life. Longer wait times as a child were linked years later to higher SAT scores, less substance abuse, and parental reports of better social skills.

Because of the surprising correlation, the landmark marshmallow studies have been cited as evidence that qualities like self-control or emotional intelligence in general may be more important to navigating life successfully than more traditional measures of intelligence, such as IQ.

The Rochester team wanted to explore more closely why some preschoolers are able to resist the marshmallow while others succumb to licking, nibbling, and eventually swallowing the sugary treat.


In the unreliable condition, the children were provided a container of used crayons and told that if they could wait, the researcher would return shortly with a bigger and better set of new art supplies for their project. After two and a half minutes, the research returned with this explanation: "I'm sorry, but I made a mistake. We don't have any other art supplies after all. But why don't you use these instead?" She then helped to open the crayon container.

Next a quarter-inch sticker was placed on the table and the child was told that if he or she could wait, the researcher would return with a large selection of better stickers to use. After the same wait, the researcher again returned empty handed.

The reliable group experienced the same set up, but the researcher returned with the promised materials: first with a rotating tray full of art supplies and the next time with five to seven large, die-cut stickers.


Children who experienced unreliable interactions with an experimenter waited for a mean time of three minutes and two seconds on the subsequent marshmallow task, while youngsters who experienced reliable interactions held out for 12 minutes and two seconds. Only one of the 14 children in the unreliable group waited the full 15 minutes, compared to nine children in the reliable condition.

Kids are smart. If they're used to living in an unreliable environment - whether it's from broken promises made by adults or because they are living in a shelter - they're not going to wait and hope something better comes along. They're going to get what they can while they can.

I would first test them in an unreliable environment and then see how long it would take to regain their trust. And then, mebbe take it away again! Fnord12 says it's prolly good i am not allowed to experiment on children.

Too bad they don't have this experiment on YouTube or something. I'd love to watch the more creative things the kids did.

Kids danced in their seats, sang, and took pretend naps. Several took a bite from the bottom of the marshmallow then placed it back in the desert cup so it looked untouched. A few then nibbled off the top, forgetting they could then longer hide the evidence since both ends were eaten, she said. "We had one little boy who grabbed the marshmallow immediately and we thought he was going to eat it," recalled Kidd. Instead he sat on it. "Instead of covering his eyes, he covered the marshmallow."

Kids in real life are alot of work. Kids in psychological experiments are super fantastic! I want!

I only wonder if they made sure these kids actually liked marshmallows before allowing them to participate.

By min | October 15, 2012, 1:01 PM | Science| Link

October 11, 2012

D&D Makes You Better

Pfft. Like we all didn't already know that.

On a side note - i really enjoy his super fast talking. He is able to enunciate very clearly at the same time. That's important. And hard to do when speaking super fast. Kudos.

By min | October 11, 2012, 5:17 PM | D&D| Link

October 10, 2012

Where's fnord12?

This is mainly an update for anyone waiting for new entries on my timeline project. First of all, i'm working my way through Essential Sgt. Fury right now, and while it's actually pretty enjoyable, i can only get through like one or two issues of a Silver Age book like that, especially when they're in black & white, before i get a little sleepy and have to put it down.

But then things are going to get totally derailed. Because i pre-ordered Marvel Comics: the Untold Story when it was first announced, and it arrived today. And i have yet to open the book to any random page and not found something of interest that filled me with nerd-glee. I imagine it won't take me long to get through, but between these things and real life, progress on the timeline has been and will probably be a little slow for a couple of weeks.

By fnord12 | October 10, 2012, 3:22 PM | Comics| Link

It Could Still End Up on the List

Our fun times in Philly.

It only just narrowly escapes getting added to the "You Can Go to Hell" list by virtue of its delicious vegan foodstuffs. But you're on notice, Philly!

By min | October 10, 2012, 2:36 PM | My stupid life| Link

October 9, 2012

Why Aren't We Competing?

The race itself involves two-person teams -- usually husband and wife -- with the husband carrying the wife as she drapes herself over his shoulders.

Racers on the 260-yard course start running up a hill, cross a timber hurdle, wade through a mud-water pit, climb over a big pile of sand and then bolt for the finish line.

The Scandinavians come up with the best ideas! They've got the Viking competitions and now this.

Fnord12 carries me all of the time. We could've been a contender!

By min | October 9, 2012, 2:46 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

October 8, 2012

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | October 8, 2012, 2:54 PM | Comics| Link

October 4, 2012

Why is "Guys" in Quotes?

I want to know how the bride felt about this Craig's List ad the groom's best man presumably posted.

Description: Looking for a woman with Dungeon Master experience in Dungeons and Dragons (specifically 3.0 or 3.5 editions) to run a game. The event is for a Bachelor Party and the "future husband to be" would prefer if the DM could be topless. With that said, I ensure you that nothing else is expect of you other than an exciting adventure.


  • Dungeon Master experience in Dungeons and Dragons (preferably in 3rd or 3.5 Editions)

  • Must be able to provide a picture including the face and body (No nudes please.)

  • It is preferable that cup size be at least C or greater.

  • If books are needed it must be stated ahead of time however it would be preferable if the DM had her own.

There will be 5 "guys" that will be participation including myself. We are at all above the age of 24. Each of us are gentlemen and will treat the Dungeon Master with the utmost of respect.

I honestly don't know how to charge for this kind of service because it's not something typically done so the compensation will be negotiated. It's expected that the session last no less than 30 minutes.

A day prior to October 11th (The Day of the Wedding) would be ideal.

The location will be negotiated but priority will be give to the preference of the Dungeon Master.

Any other questions will be answered as needed. Only serious applicants need apply.

And would she be ok if it ended up being on a date after the wedding? I suppose she could offer to DM topless herself if she didn't want her guy looking at some stranger's ta-tas.

I don't have a problem with guys having a porn collection, but when it extends to hiring a person to take their clothes off for you in person, it makes it all skeevy. I don't know why i make this distinction, i just do.

Really, the whole bachelor/bachelorette "last fling before you get shackled" thing kinda offends me. It implies that marriage is a type of punishment where you are no longer allowed to do things you enjoy so you gotta take this one last bit of freedom and make the most of it.

If you really feel like marrying this person is going to curtail your ability to do things you enjoy (even if that thing includes hiring women to DM topless for you and your 4 friends), you prolly should rethink the whole marriage thing. Conversely, if you expect your soon-to-be spouse to stop doing something they like doing just because you're now contractually tied to one another, you are totally setting yourself up for bitterness and anger.

I wonder if they'll still pay the DM the "utmost respect" when she sics a lich on them with an army of rust monsters.

By min | October 4, 2012, 1:38 PM | D&D| Link

October 3, 2012

Good Name For a Band

The Murder Shadows

Min has declared that that's what these things are called.

By fnord12 | October 3, 2012, 5:17 PM | Good Name For a Band| Link

Upselling your existing client base

Two related items in the world of Marvel publishing. The first is a follow-up to the variant cover conversation started by Brian Hibbs a while back. The latest is by Rich Johnston, which is significant because as both he and the Beat point out, Johnston used to be (and to a degree, still is) a booster of variant covers. But Johnston draws parallels to the boom/bust in the 90s and suggests that we're close to another tipping point. Beyond that prediction i don't think he says much that Hibbs hasn't already said, but i do note that Johnston says quite explicitly the same thing that i mentioned in my previous post, which is that the market is being (artificially?) propped up by those poor schmucks people whose interest are different than mine that buy every variant.

The second topic is related to this thing that we're now calling double-shipping (in the late 80s and 90s, the X-Books just proudly shipped on a bi-weekly basis in the summers and we thanked them for it, by gum). In order to make bi-weekly status, artist are, well, cutting some corners, as this Beat article points out, showing Mike Perkins cribbing directly from Alan Davis (hey, might as well copy from the best), and of course mentioning Greg Land as well. Marvel owns the rights to those pencils so there's no legal issue here, but people are understandably upset. I'm a big fan of Godzilla movies, which re-use footage like nobody's business, and i would never have noticed the copying if it wasn't pointed out to me, so i don't feel like this is an egregious harm, but it certainly shows the conundrum Marvel is in. As the fan base continues to dwindle they need to get more and more money out of those of us who are left. Variant covers are one way but the people interested in that are a subset of an already small group (The Loyal 100,000). Double-shipping popular titles is another way, but it can result in an inferior product. Both strategies have risk.

It's actually kind of interesting being here during the End Times and watching the industry die its slow death.

By fnord12 | October 3, 2012, 12:55 PM | Comics| Link

Cancer Patient Grows Replacement Ear

On her arm.

Another squicky warning. If you don't want to see an ear growing out of a person's forearm, don't click on the link.

Byrne and a team of doctors harvested cartilage from Walter's ribs, shaped it into an ear and placed it under the skin of her forearm. Nourished by surrounding blood vessels, the new ear developed skin of its own and, after four months, the surgeons removed it. Next, they attached it to blood vessels in Walter's head, sculpting tissue to affix it permanently in March of this year.

Since March, Walter's surgeons have focused on the more cosmetic aspects of the process, shaping and sculpting the new left ear to match the right one as much as possible. Though she still needs to undergo a few more surgeries to complete the process, Walter's hearing has been restored with the help of a special hearing aid.

Gross, but amazing. So, yay science. I'm glad it exists, but I don't want to have to see it.

By min | October 3, 2012, 10:59 AM | Science| Link

October 1, 2012

A word on SpeedReviews

Just a note that i'm behind on getting current comics so it'll be a few weeks before i put up a new speed review, and then it'll be another mega-blast that i'll go through quickly.

I actually have read the latest Winter Soldier but don't have a lot to say about it (Guice is back on art but i thought it was actually OK). And i have a Journey Into Mystery but we missed the Thor that precedes it in the Everything Burns crossover, so i'm holding out till we get that.

By fnord12 | October 1, 2012, 11:51 AM | Comics| Link

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