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December 26, 2013

Not me

If you're not up on the latest Scott Lobdell controversy you can see here and here. And the comments on this post also raise an interesting sub-point. But on that second link, there's a comment from a "fnord" and i just want to make it clear that it's not me. I'm fnord12, obviously (the worldwide conspiracy to spread uneasiness and confusion has produced many fnords). And i don't even accept Scott Lobdell's apology for his Uncanny X-Men run, let alone for being a creepy fratboy misogynist.

By fnord12 | December 26, 2013, 6:15 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

Almond Hazelnut Wreath

vegan almond hazelnut danish


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened (we like Tofutti)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 T sour cream (we like Tofutti)
  • 2 T cream (we like Silk soy creamer)
  • 1 T brandy

  • 6 T butter, melted (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
  • 3/4 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 eggs (we like Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups flour

  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T brandy
  • 3 T sliced almonds

Melt the butter.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a food processor, finely grind the nuts into a meal. Add the sugar and spices. Process with the remaining filling ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

Warm the milk up slightly so that the butter won't congeal when combined (it is so gross when it happens so just don't). Add the melted butter to the milk, continuously stirring. Pour the liquid into a mixing bowl. The milk and butter mixture should be luke warm, not hot.

Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until a dough forms. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes (autolyse). Then, with the dough hook attachment, knead the dough for a few minutes. If the dough appears to be very sticky, sprinkle a little flour and continue kneading. The finished dough should be soft and only a little tacky.

Roll out into 26 x 18 inch rectangle. If the dough resists, wrap it up in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for half an hour before trying again.

Cut into 26-inch long thirds. Spread 1/3 of the cream cheese filling on one piece of dough, leaving 1/2 inch clear on one long side. Roll the dough up to form a 26" rope. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Lay all three ropes next to each other. Braid from the center towards one end. Turn the board around and braid the other half. Bring the ends together to form a wreath, pinching the ends to seal.

Place on baking sheet with an oiled round cutter/bowl in the center to prevent the rising dough from filling the middle.

Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave for 45-60 minutes (somewhere warm - ~75degF or so) or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375degF.

For the topping, melt the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Take off the heat and add the brandy. Brush the syrup on the loaf. Sprinkle the almond slices over the top.

Bake for 20 min. Reduce temp to 350degF and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the wreath is golden and well-risen. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

By min | December 26, 2013, 11:06 AM | Vegan Vittles| Link

December 23, 2013

'Tis the season to be beezin'

And that's all i have to say about that.

By fnord12 | December 23, 2013, 3:39 PM | My stupid life| Link

Finally a motivation to end gridlock

I warn you that if you click this link a video will start playing automatically.

Several lawmakers -- many of them veterans with centrist bonafides -- plan to retire after the 2014 election, making them prime recruits for lobby firms, trade groups and corporate boards.

While corporate headhunters see a future on K Street for many of the retiring lawmakers, they warn that sluggish lobbying revenues and gridlock on Capitol Hill are depressing demand.

"With revenues down, it's not going to be as fruitful. It will slowly pick up but we are still in a slump when it comes to government relations and lobbying," said Chris Jones, managing partner of CapitolWorks.

The next session of "centrist" Congress critters might consider more compromises, or they might suffer the fate of the current retirees:

That might mean taking not one but several jobs: working in venture capital, heading to academia, or sitting on corporate boards while doing a little lobbying on the side.

Sounds hard!

(Let me be clear that my ire is directed not at real ideologues of either party who stick to their guns on issues they believe in. This is about those with the "centrist bonafides" like Max Baucus, Joe Lieberman, Chuck Grassley, and Olympia Snowe who, over the past 6 years, have ruined a number of bills by exchanging their cloture votes (only!, in many cases) for watering things down just because they could.)

By fnord12 | December 23, 2013, 10:44 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

December 22, 2013

You say what now?

This is a good reason for me to stay in Jersey. If anyone came into the house and said "Oh, man, it's a monkey's wedding out there!" i'd have to wrestle you to the ground and hold you until the authorities arrived.

Here's the quiz, if you like.

By fnord12 | December 22, 2013, 2:46 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link

December 20, 2013

One dimensional chess

Last night's surprise announcement that people who got dropped by their insurance will now be exempt from the individual mandate is probably irrelevant in the long run. But it does feel like a retreat at first blush. However, there is something like poetic justice here.

It's worth recalling the "three legged stool" of Obamacare: 1) Reforms to insurance, including preventing the dropping of people for pre-existing conditions, covering kids up to age 26, and the requiring of certain minimum standards. But that by itself would bankrupt the insurance companies, so we have 2) the individual mandate, which requires that young healthy people buy in to the insurance market, providing insurance companies with the cash flow to stay afloat. And then for people affected by the mandate who can't afford insurance, there's 3) subsidies, including individual subsidies and the expansion of Medicaid. There's also the creation of the exchanges so that individuals can shop for policies easily and get competitive pricing.

But what we've been seeing is that insurance companies have been sending letters to customers whose policies don't meet the new minimum standards required by #1. Instead of updating those policies to meet the standards, they are simply kicking their customers off those policies. And telling them that they have to buy into new policies that are at higher cost, and also higher than comparable policies on the exchange. And also not informing them that they could go to the exchange to look for better pricing.

This was surely surprising to the Obama administration, who put their weight behind this Rube Goldberg style* health care policy in part because it would get them the support of the insurance companies, as opposed to simply expanding Medicare to cover everybody. The lack of even a Public Option (i.e., an optional Medicare buy-in alongside the private insurance policies available in the exchange) was in part to assure insurance company support. So the insurance companies were meant to be allies in this fight, and they did come out big winners thanks to the individual mandate. So having them turn around and start dumping people probably feels like a betrayal, and in that context, now excluding those people from the individual mandate feels like a (minor) retaliation or even a threat to insurance companies to say that if you keep up the shenanigans we can simply drop the mandate. But it definitely feels like a reactive threat; hardly the eleven-dimensional chess that Obama is said to be playing.

Again, despite the media attention, the number of people getting dropped are relatively small and this move is probably insignificant in the long run. But it's interesting to watch things play out and see how the levers can be shifted.

*I'm sorry to switch metaphors from "three legged stool" to "Rube Goldberg device". If you like, the first stool leg is also the hamster wheel whose spinning powers the engine, the second leg is the hamster, and the third leg is the cheese (or whatever it is that hamsters eat).

By fnord12 | December 20, 2013, 2:33 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

December 18, 2013

Dog Translator

I imagine most of their thoughts are "Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy is that food? oh boy oh boy oh boy what's that smell?"


It's a canine-sized headset that consists of EEG recorders connected to a small Raspberry Pi computer and a loudspeaker, supposedly allowing "ionic current flows" in a dog's brain to be translated into human speech. A $65 model is said to distinguish between three different thoughts, including tiredness and curiosity, while more expensive options will have more sensors and more powerful software.

By min | December 18, 2013, 12:06 PM | Science| Link

December 17, 2013

That's how it works

A man who might run for President again (via):

Free health care is just that, free health care, until you get sick. Then, if you get sick and you don't get health care, you die and you don't vote. It's actually a pretty clever system. Take care of the people who can vote and people who can't vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible by not giving them care so they can't vote against you. That's how it works.

That's largely incomprehensible word salad but he seems to be saying that it's bad that politicians are incented to not let people die. I was confused by "people who can't vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible" as a form of right wing criticism (i.e., he's not complaining that undocumented immigrants don't have health care) but it occurs to me considering it's Rick Santorum he might be talking about fetuses. Or it's just gibberish.

By fnord12 | December 17, 2013, 2:17 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

December 16, 2013

Hey kids! Ads!

By fnord12 | December 16, 2013, 10:38 PM | Comics| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avengers AI #7 - I think this issue is as close as i'm getting to the Inhumanity crossover for now, and it serves fairly well as my little window to what's going on with that event (it's certainly clearer than any of the tie-ins i read for Infinity). And even though that's the case, this issue worked pretty well as a standalone story that just happened to use Inhumanity as a backdrop. All put together, that's the sign of a good second tier tie-in issue. Plus, you know, Doombot.

A few comments about Inhumanity generally, based solely on vague things i've read about it on the internet plus this issue (i did also read that Hulk tie-in last week but i'll be damned if i understand how that had anything to do with Inhumanity): i recently saw someone on Tom Brevoort's tumblr page accuse Marvel of replacing the X-Men with the Inhumans and the Fantastic Four with the Guardians of the Galaxy because of who owns what movie rights. I hadn't heard the GotG theory before, but it's not the first time the Inhumans thing came up. And there's no doubt that the basic concept of Inhumanity makes mutants redundant, or vice versa, with the idea that the Terrigen Mists have been released across the world and are triggered random people to suddenly develop powers/mutations. It definitely has little to do with the Inhumans concept as seen to date, and definitely steps on the toes of the mutant concept. So you can see why people are suspicious. There was also this idea that was floated during AvX that speculated that it would end with mutants being shunted off to a separate universe. I don't know what any of it means. Inhumanity could just be a story. After all, i'm the guy that thought the little Hulk time travel story was going to result in a complete Marvel reboot, and i likewise panic about every random announcement. But it is a little odd for Marvel to use such a redundant concept and does lend to paranoid fantasies about Marvel sort of segregating out their properties into various movieverses. We shall, of course, see.

Wolverine #12 - I'm disappointed that the security guard turned out to be Mystique, because the points s/he was making were valid ones. Regular people that don't necessarily discriminate against mutants or fear them for their own sake nonetheless have a reason to be concerned about the fact that they seem to constantly be pursuing vendettas against each other that endanger bystanders. This seems to be more the case for mutants than regular super-heroes. Sure, Doc Ock and Electro hate Spider-Man and come up with schemes to defeat him, but it's only because he's stopped them from committing actual crimes so many times. The same can't really be said of Sabretooth and Wolverine. So i thought that was an interesting critique, even if it can be discounted due to the messenger. Beyond that, we're in the "abuse Wolverine" phase of the story, which is at least given a unique twist thanks to the fact that Wolvie doesn't have his healing factor. And again, Alan Davis. Here's hoping Wolverine's current state doesn't preclude a nice Davis-drawn fight with Sabretooth next issue.

Fantastic Four #14 - What?!?

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #6 - I'm taking all depictions of Doom in this issue with a grain of Bad Narrator salt, but, excepting that, i'm continuing to enjoy this. It's a weird coincidence that both Tombstone and Lightmaster turn out to have grown super-daughters that we never knew about until recently, but that's neither here nor there. This book is very much a fun Guy Ritchie heist story featuring our favorite super-villains, and why wouldn't you like that?

By fnord12 | December 16, 2013, 10:07 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | December 16, 2013, 1:54 PM | Comics| Link

Plastic People of the Universe

I recently sold my CD collection but as i was organizing it for sale, i kept coming across all the albums that took a special effort to find and were real treasures to me at one time. Nowadays you can download everything on the internet, so there was no point in keeping anything and if someone wanted to give me money for something you can download for free i wasn't going to stop them. But it was still bittersweet seeing all those albums - which had been boxed up for years since i converted them to mp3 long ago - one last time.

Anyway, among those albums was my Plastic People of the Universe collection, and it was the Booman Tribune's post that triggered me to write about this.

By fnord12 | December 16, 2013, 1:17 PM | Music| Link

In the style of Thomas Friedman

This is brilliant. I'd say the only problem is that the cafe should have been a Starbucks. Friedman always mentions his brands.

By fnord12 | December 16, 2013, 1:12 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

December 13, 2013

Squirrels are there for your amusement


Around the same time, a sea change in our relationship with squirrels was already underway in Philadelphia. The city had released three squirrels in Franklin Square in 1847 and had provided them with food and boxes for shelter--and the people loved it... In the years that followed, the trend spread to Boston and New Haven, where squirrels soon grew so fat from humans feeding them that they were falling out of the trees. Cities even started planting nut-bearing trees so that the squirrels would have their own food source...

So next time you see a squirrel in the park, drink it in... These little critters were put there for your entertainment.

By fnord12 | December 13, 2013, 5:03 PM | Science| Link

Tom Brevoort's mini history lesson on Marvel continuity

Linked for posterity. I don't know that i agree with his characterization of Stan Lee, though. There is more play between books than i think Brevoort gives credit to (based on other comments i've seen from Brevoort as well) and even the use of footnotes to refer to past stories created a sense of continuity. Brevoort confuses the issue by bringing in real-time aging, which is a related topic, especially when you get into the issues related to the sliding timescale as Brevoort describes, but i don't think that has any direct bearing on whether or not Stan Lee had any use for continuity.

By fnord12 | December 13, 2013, 4:24 PM | Comics| Link

Out of pocket

It does not mean what you think it means and i do not know why you think it means what you think it means. I'll admit the website i linked to gives it a good go.

By fnord12 | December 13, 2013, 12:22 PM | Master of Style| Link

December 12, 2013

Outrage machine is in full force

This is too hilarious. You know you've written a good article when you're quoting "One Danish Facebook user".

I'm sorry but this is all i've got today. My RSS feed is nigh empty; i guess all bloggity bloggers are already on vacation.

By fnord12 | December 12, 2013, 4:47 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

December 11, 2013

Wampa Warning

We printed this out and hung it in the appropriate place, and i do hope no rascally droids tear it down, but i figured i might as well put it up here before i deleted the file.

Ours of course is a modern english translation of the original, seen below in the original Old Republicese*.

*If you know the name of the language that they supposedly spoke in Star Wars, don't tell me. You're only embarrassing yourself.

By fnord12 | December 11, 2013, 7:31 PM | Star Wars| Link

December 10, 2013

Like i never left home

Since i mentioned my trip and was getting photos off my phone in the post below, here's a display in the San Francisco airport. I don't know why they decided to decorate the airport with Godzilla toys (and Shogun Warriors and other fun stuff), but i'm not complaining.

I particularly enjoy the disco Smog Monster in the top center.

Also, behind that display case is the most fun moving walkway in the world. It bounces.

By fnord12 | December 10, 2013, 8:25 PM | Godzilla & My stupid life| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

I went on a business trip a few weeks back and have just about caught up with the pile of 1986 comics i read on the plane, but it's at the expense of currents. So let me catch up now .

Uncanny X-Force #14 - I've been keeping Nathan Adler up to date on this arc due to his interest in the Demon Bear, and he expressed some disappointment that it was Cassandra Nova, not the Shadow King, who was controlling the revenants here. See his latest fix about the somewhat similar outsign spirits, the Shadow King, and how it all relates to vibranium for more about that. Of course that's just a sneaky plug for Nathan but to bring it back to this story, it could have used an explanation for the revenants that wasn't just introducing some new concept out of nowhere. To learn that every person on Earth is shadowed by a duplicate demon that we've never heard about until now is a bit hard to swallow. And i'm still confused about parts of it. Is Cassandra Nova meant to be a revenant version of Professor X, or is she herself just a revenant Cassandra Nova, or is she regular Cassandra Nova that just happens to have taken control of the revenants? And what about the Demon Bear; i understand that he's meant to be a revenant too, but is he an evil duplicate of something on Earth? And also, the Demon Bear seemed to come back with Bishop from the future, so is there also a non-future Demon Bear roaming around the Earth? By my count that's potentially three Bears: Future Demon Bear, Present Demon Bear, and Non-Demon Bear. Add Tygra to lasso them up and you've got yourself a hot new series. Sorry, off target again. Umm, i guess it's possible i should really know the answers to my Cassandra and Bear questions but as i've said before - and as becomes very clear when trying to keep Nathan updated - this storyline has been ambling along for some time now, and it's been difficult to keep interest up and memory working between issues. I was hoping for a conclusion this issue - maybe with the idea that since Psylocke had recently tamed the Bear it would have helped them defeat Cassandra - but instead we have Puck and Psylocke banished to the revenant dimension at the end. One thing i will say is that the revenant doubles have given Sam Humphries the ability to do some character work; i liked the temptation of offering Psylocke her original body back this issue.

Ok, at that rate we're never going to get through all these issue. Let's move a little faster.

Hulk #15 - Ok, good. That's over with. Remember when i was afraid this series was going to lead to a big continuity reboot. Hah hah, i sure am paranoid! There's no doubt that Hulk punched continuity at the end of this but it doesn't seem like it's going to affect anything outside of this series.

Hulk #16 - I do wish this book could have a consistent artist. This story felt fill-in-ish. It also doesn't seem to have anything to do with Inhumanity, which i am fine with but what's with the cover banner?

Avengers A.I. #6 - I've been whiffy on this series but let me show you some things (forgive the quick poor quality phone scans):

So yeah, i liked this issue.

I do want to say that even though this issue is cute and funny, i like the much more serious treatment of Henry Pym's psychological condition. I think it's handled well.

X-Men #7 - I haven't been keeping up with Lady Deathstrike, but i'm always wary when something happens to a character like we see here where she's no longer a person, but instead a nanite injection. Maybe that happened already in something i missed. But it seems to take away from what the character was. I don't know, i don't have a specific problem with it in this case, just a general aversion. In any event, i think Wood's story is good. I liked the use of Monet as a wildcard element in Deathstrike's planning, and i'm looking forward to seeing Deathstrike team up with Typhoid Mary next issue. And the Dodsons were relatively restrained. So, this was good!

Daredevil #33 - A fun visit with the Monsters. It did get me thinking about how wildly different Satana's appearances have been this past year or so, but i mainly blame that on Peter David.

Young Avengers #12-13 - A really great conclusion to what's been a really great series. Apparently a limited series. Jerks. Still one more epilogue issue to enjoy, anyway.

FF #14 - I see Matt Fraction's name is still in the credits, but it seems like there's been more references to past continuity and a clearer explanation of what's going on with Doom, Kang, and Annihilus than we've seen when he was more fully on the book. Possibly just a coincidence? Or maybe there was something i was missing from the Fantastic Four book (note to casual readers: FF and Fantastic Four are two different titles. Other note to casual readers: how can you possibly be making any sense of these reviews? What are you doing here?!)? My first foray into Fantastic Four last issue blew my head straight off, so i suspect not. Anyway, loving this; sorry that it is ending (a phrase they will engrave on my tombstone).

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #6-7 - After so much build up i was surprised to see it wrapped up so quickly. But if you are going to wrap it up, why not with a battle with everybody's favorite iteration of the Masters of Evil. Definitely enjoyed this even if the art felt a bit murky. That was especially a problem when issue #7 began in medias res; i was flipping back to the previous issue to see when Sun Girl was thought to have died. Actually i am still not clear about that. I also thought her shouting "I'm biracial!" was clunkily done, but i do like her as the daughter of Lightmaster.

Iron Man #19 - I think the way these Iron Metropolitan issues are going to go is i'm going to pick it up, say, "hrmmm, this arc, i'm not really interested in this...", and then read it and remember that i'm supposed to trust Kieron Gillen because it's a good story. And it is.

Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 - I thought we were starting off by revealing that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner went to school together, but it was just a one time conference and i guess i can live with that. Less so the idea that this one professor had such a profound impact on Banner's life but we never heard of him before. Still, this was fun. I enjoyed Iron Man's manipulation of Hulk.

Secret Avengers #12 - I often mention that i normally read my books in order of increased anticipation, so readers may be shocked to see this at the bottom of the list. But i had so many books to get through that the usual ordering just got lost; otherwise this would be near the top of the pile and Young Avengers and FF and Superior Spider-Man Team Up would be down here. Still, that's anticipation; in fact i did enjoy this book much more than i have been for this series. And i really mean that, i'm not just saying that because of who shows up on the last page.

By fnord12 | December 10, 2013, 6:21 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

December 5, 2013

Atrios rules

Nice write-up about Atrios' quest to change the discussion on Social Security. Probably more words written about him in this article than he's ever actually written.

By fnord12 | December 5, 2013, 2:03 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

December 4, 2013

A nice frame of mind going into the holiday season

I don't normally link to criticism of Fox News because, like, what's the point?

But of course the liberal blogs i read highlight their stuff all the time. And these two things hit me like a one two punch. That first one just made me sad. Here are these Somalian (legal) immigrants, and it's a nice little thing that their local YMCA is teaching them to swim but with the doors closed so the boys don't see them in their bathing suits, and Fox turns it into a Sharia Law panic. And then when i was softened up by that, i got hit with the latest War on Christmas nonsense, which in this instance is one of those "it's not even true but who cares if it was?" situations where you're left flummoxed trying to state a position. In both cases, it's just poisonous. Local people doing harmless and even positive things and being misrepresented and attacked on a national stage.

And as Atrios points out, it's not just that you get attacked on national television but you get inundated with phone calls, emails, tweets, etc., from angry people that have been mislead and tricked into being disgruntled and angry about everything.

By fnord12 | December 4, 2013, 5:41 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Worst news i heard all day

No Elizabeth Warren in 2016.

By fnord12 | December 4, 2013, 4:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

December 3, 2013

Echidna, Mother of Monsters
Echidna, monotreme

By min | December 3, 2013, 3:00 PM | Whoodwin| Link

December 2, 2013

Why Are There Always Olives??

Tuna 'n Waffles

i really do love this site.

By min | December 2, 2013, 11:26 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

December 1, 2013

First Shawl. Woo!

It took me 5 months, but i finally finished this goddamned shawl. And it's even still winter, so there.

By min | December 1, 2013, 3:26 PM | My stupid life| Link

Alarming clown alert

Not that you should need an explicit warning.

By fnord12 | December 1, 2013, 11:39 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

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