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January 31, 2014

Good luck with that

Yglesias tries to remind the Obama administration how negotiation works. This will be a good test of the new & feistier Obama that debuted in the SOTU address.

By fnord12 | January 31, 2014, 10:34 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 30, 2014

Executive Marauder

The news that Obama is going to try to do more by executive action sparked predictable outrage, but both TPM and Yglesias look at the pushback so far and declare it particularly lame. First of all, Obama has some catching up to do if he even wants to match George W. Bush's number of executive orders. Second, the guy both TPM and Yglesias look at compares Obama unfavorably to Lincoln and FDR, who only used their executive powers for such minor things as freeing the slaves and taking us off the gold standard. I have to admit that raising the minimum wage for Federal contractors to $10 does look pretty tyrannical in comparison.

Update: Ok, the guy TPM and Yglesias were focusing on has admitted he goofed.

By fnord12 | January 30, 2014, 1:27 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 29, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Fantastic Four #16 - Well, that's certainly over with. I do feel like a big chump for jumping onto this series when Karl Kesel came on board since this series pretty clearly continued with Matt Fraction's plots (as evidenced by him still getting top billing in the credits even for this last issue), and when i jumped on we were in the middle of some hard core alternate reality stuff. I did enjoy the FF half, though.

Secret Avengers #14 - If the Mockingbird retcon, saying that she was actually a sleeper agent from Victorious' Entropy Cult since prior to her first appearance, turns out to stick, that will be really bold. But considering all the mind-wiping going on in this series, i'm not ready to worry about it yet. I have been wondering how this series could be so "Meh" while Spencer is doing amazingly fun stuff on Superior Foes (and i felt that way even before Ales Kot was brought on as a co-writer here), but this issue actually seemed to be going more in that direction, with Mentallo remembering the good times he used to have with Taskmaster and "MODOK enjoys ice cream". But i'm still not even close to loving this the way i'm loving Foes, and honestly i'm a little lost on the plot at this point it's been so long since this story started.

Revolutionary War: Alpha - It was the 90s and i was at EZ Video (which proves it was the 90s) and for some reason there was a comics rack with titles like Hell's Angel and Warheads and some others, and i swear to god Wolverine was on the cover of every one of them. Then later Motormouth and Killpower showed up in Hulk. And even during the wonderful industry crash i bought some Knights of Pendragon at a convention to round out a "10 for a dollar" deal, and from what i remember they seemed pretty ok, and i also picked up some Death's Head II comics because they reprinted some of the original Simon Furman Death's Head comics. So the Marvel UK line had always been on the periphery of my vision but not something i ever really delved into. But when i saw this weird event, with Lanning writing the bookend and Gillen writing at least one of the other issues, i thought i'd take a look. So far, interesting enough that i'm looking forward to getting to 1992 to read and cover the original issues. And it's a good enough intro to these characters and tying it in nicely enough with the more recognizable Pete Wisdom and Captain Britain and a little bit of a conspiracy plot, and it should be a fun weird little detour (oddly at a time when a lot of books i've been getting are being canceled and i'm not making any effort to replace them, so without this my Current piles would actually be really small).

Revolutionary War: Dark Angel - I really love Gillen's ability to work with existing characters to find amazingly relevant literary themes. So like Lanning (re-)introduced the basic Mys-Tech concept, and i see that the idea that Dark Angel was a daughter of one of the Mys-Techians comes from the original series. But creating the scenario where she is now working to pay off the debts that her father owed to Mephisto, with references to the boom 90s and the bust world of today and how children are paying for the excesses of their parents... it's pretty damn brilliant, frankly. I won't know how closely any of this stuff aligns with the original books, but if it's all going to be this good i won't care.

Daredevil #35 - Waid puts Daredevil in a difficult situation and comes up with an interesting way for Daredevil to struggle out of it. Samnee draws a great Electra guest appearance. All great stuff. The only thing i don't like is the Cobra-La designs of the Serpent Society characters (and is that the original Constrictor?) but i don't think that's this team's fault.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2014, 1:59 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Don't blame liberals for anti-vaccination sentiment

About a year ago i panned Scientific American for trying to say that liberals were just as anti-science (or moreso) than conservatives by citing anti-vaccination and anti-GMO sentiment. Kevin Drum links to an American Prospect report showing a study that anti-vaccination sentiment, at least, is not really concentrated amongst liberals and is actually slightly higher amongst conservatives (and especially Michele Bachmann!).

As Kevin Drum says, that just leaves GMO, and some of that sentiment is less anti-science per se and more distrust of corporations, and especially their business practices (e.g. contamination of non-GMO farmers' fields, suing farmers for using their seed "technology"), and a desire for more testing and regulation. Maybe you think that's a distinction without a difference. But as i mentioned in my post from a year ago, the scale of the resistance is something else entirely; it's not lot like you have Democrats in Congress opposing GMOs the way you have Republicans opposing measures to combat global warming.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2014, 1:34 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link

After all, the song isn't "Take this job and love it"

Interesting insight from Maggie Gallagher at the right wing National Review:

Memo to GOP: The job-creators meme is a loser. We say "job creator," voters hear "my boss." And voters hate their bosses.

Reading the comments there is a whole different experience. In just one exchange you have the full gambit of opinion on this subject on the right, from the near-worshipful...

Why would reasonably intelligent voters hate the people who put food on their tables and roofs over their heads, provide them with health insurance and pensions, and help send their kids to college?

...to the very libertarian:

My boss is a person I contract with. He doesn't provide things for me, he trades them to me. I went on a market, and picked my boss among those potential bosses who picked me. I don't need to be thankful and I don't need to like him.

I quote the above for the perspectives, not to mock.

By fnord12 | January 29, 2014, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 28, 2014

It turns out presidents can actually do stuff

A welcome and long overdue change of strategy is being kicked off today for the Obama administration, beginning with an executive order raising the minimum wage of Federal contractors. Among the points raised in that article:

Last year began with the fresh-start ambitions of his second inauguration but ended in a long trail of mistakes, international embarrassments and missed legislative opportunities that sapped Obama's credibility with the public.

Senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer outlined the lessons learned in a three-page memo that Obama discussed with his Cabinet in recent weeks, according to several administration officials who have read the document.

Among its conclusions is that Obama, a former state legislator and U.S. senator, too often governed more like a prime minister than a president. In a parliamentary system, a prime minister is elected by lawmakers and thus beholden to them in ways a president is not.

According to the above article, it seems thinking about Obama's legacy is also partly what prompted this.

Here's Greg Sargent's take:

Resorting to executive authority is also about resetting the prism through which the American people evaluate the president's performance and his engagement with them -- by conveying a sense that he has a plan to move the country forward, and he's acting on it.

Sargent follows up with poll numbers showing support for Obama using more executive authority. The truth is most people think the president is a lot more powerful than he really is, but weirdly the message from the Obama administration up until now is that he's actually a lot less powerful than he really is, as you can infer from my final quote, this time from Digby:

Wait. The last I heard from all the analysts was that the presidency was little more than a ceremonial position, sort of like the Queen of England, and there's no point in expecting anything at all from it. Indeed, I had been given to understand that it's foolhardy to even think about what a president could accomplish with his one branch of government that oversees all federal agencies, the military and the entire regulatory state as long as a rump faction of the GOP held sway in the House of Representatives. Who knew he could actually do things and say things that might make a difference?

I can certainly see why the administration was getting a teensy bit uncomfortable with all that talk of presidential impotence. It's not exactly an inspiring image. Still, you can't help but wonder just what the hell took them so long to realize that all their supporters relentlessly flogging the idea that the poor president is little more than a figurehead might just not reflect well on legacy of the man the nation elected to be its national leader.

By fnord12 | January 28, 2014, 1:19 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 27, 2014

Marvel Sales


In related news, Paul O'Brien will no longer be doing these soon.

By fnord12 | January 27, 2014, 1:51 PM | Comics| Link


So the Republican National Committee has come out and denounced the NSA spying. Call it opportunism, but hell, i'd take it. Here's how the MSNBC article characterizes the shift:

The RNC's tidal shift reflects the reality that mass surveillance looks a lot more benign when your own party's leader is in charge of the operation. But the resolution also is a sign of the increasing influence of the libertarian wing of the party, especially supporters of Ron Paul and his son, Rand Paul, who have made government overreach in pursuit of terrorists a top issue.

The problem is that first part. Let's just say i was so singlemindedly opposed to the spying regardless of other issues that, using the massive influence of this blog, i ensured that Republicans had a major sweep in 2016. As soon as Republicans got back in power, they'd no longer be worried about Democrats controlling the NSA, and aside from their (fringe) libertarian wing, they'd go back to supporting it. But probably the Democrats would then go back to opposing it, as they did when the Bush administration was running it. So i can only get support from a political party while they are in the opposition.

I guess when i put it that way, this is actually a no-brainer. The Republicans are much better as an opposition party than the Democrats were under Bush. So i guess i should just be happy with the RNC's change and wait for them to start shutting down the government or whatever until they get their way on this.

By fnord12 | January 27, 2014, 1:11 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 24, 2014

You Wish You Had It So Good

From The Epigenetics Revolution:

Learning and memory both improved in mice kept in conditions known as environmentally enriched. This is a fancy way of saying they had access to two running wheels and the inside of a toilet paper roll.

I think i can get access to some toilet paper rolls, but i'm not so sure about the running wheels.

By min | January 24, 2014, 8:47 AM | Science| Link

January 23, 2014


sequela [si-kwee-luh], plural sequelae [si-kwee-lee]

any abnormal bodily condition or disease related to or arising from a pre-existing disease.

By min | January 23, 2014, 8:41 AM | Good Words| Link

January 22, 2014

-2 AC Against Windmills

If you should ever find yourself being chased by bayonet-wielding raptors, head towards a windmill! It may be your only chance!

The study highlights an important facet of avian vision, says Graham Martin, emeritus professor at the University of Birmingham in England who was not involved in the study. Although humans see best the things that are directly in front of us, for for birds of prey, "the frontal stuff is not particularly important," Martin says. "Things that are important to birds are picked up in the lateral visual field," meaning off to the side. This is part of the reason birds of prey are often struck by windmills--they are evolved to look for prey off to the side or down below, but not in front. By the time they perceive a fast-turning windmill blade, it may be too late to avoid it.

By min | January 22, 2014, 9:43 PM | Science| Link

Better than a mace

I just went to take a look at Uncanny X-Men #1, and realized that Angel has a bazooka on the cover!

Man, that would have been awesome if he always had a bazooka. As more and more characters with better and better powers were added to the Marvel universe, Angel started looking wimpier and wimpier. But a Kirby-bazooka is one heck of an equalizer. He would have never had to be be made into Archangel if he had that.

By fnord12 | January 22, 2014, 7:40 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

Better get on board with #1 because retailers aren't stocking back issues

Mike Sterling has an interesting point from a retailer's perspective regarding the trend of constant re-numbering:

I've said before we do good business in back issue sales. Even early issues of most of DC's New 52 titles still move, so long as those titles are still producing new installments. So long as any of the titles on the stands are producing new installments, I can usually move the back issues for that series. But the likelihood of any title maintaining a continuity of issue-numbering, thus also maintaining that stretch of increased back issue demand, is rapidly decreasing, and I am ordering accordingly.

Tom Brevoort said recently (on tumblr, which doesn't have good search capabilities, so no link) that he's a new car salesman, not a used car salesman, and so he doesn't really care about the ability for retailers to sell back issues (it was on a more direct question of renumbering, e.g. "How am i supposed to find Hulk #3 in the back issue bins when there are 19 different Hulk #3s?"). And while that's a really cavalier attitude and representative of a paradigm shift that's probably not good for the industry even regardless of this issue that i'm discussing, i understand where he's coming from. He has an immediate need to hit numbers to keep Marvel/Disney execs happy and the comics division profitable short term. But as Sterling's quote reveals, the re-numbering is affecting the sales of currents as well.

I think this is part of the transition away from retailers to digital sales, but it's definitely a disruptive shift.

By fnord12 | January 22, 2014, 10:49 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

January 21, 2014

Remember When They Broke Vincent's Legs to Make Him Taller?



Today's genetic technologies are not yet a crystal ball for seeing a child's future, but doctors are closer than ever to routinely glimpsing the full genetic blueprints of a fetus just months after sperm meets egg.
Enthusiasm for arming parents with such broad genetic profiles has stoked concern in some circles that screenings would prompt a quest for so-called perfect babies, free of any genetic abnormalities or possessing desirable traits of beauty, intelligence or athleticism.

ETA: I can't remember if Gattaca was what you would call a "good" movie or not. I think i liked it (except for the aforementioned leg thing). You should watch it. Jude Law's in it. And Gore Vidal. Who can resist Gore Vidal?

And why is that relevant to this post? In Gattaca, science had advanced to the point where parents could choose what traits their offspring inherited from them, thus creating the perfect child. Vincent was the child they had the "natural" way.

By min | January 21, 2014, 11:22 PM | Movies & Science | Comments (2) | Link

Or Current Business

Friend Bob won't release his similar, but not personally tragic, story, but at least we have this.

(I want the world to know that i am linking to the Keven Drum re-blogging of this instead the original article because the original article automatically starts playing a video, because people that run news websites are morons.)

By fnord12 | January 21, 2014, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King did more than that one speech

FAIR used to republish their 1995 The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV every year. I don't think they republished it this year but it's still relevant and available. There is also this blog post, which includes this very clear quote: "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, in order to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis."

I bring this up only because of Sarah Palin quoting the "content of their character" line and then telling Obama to not play the race card this Martin Luther King Day. Sarah Palin is of course an idiot, but the basic sentiment that racism is basically over and King wouldn't have wanted us to still be talking about race or having policies based on race is more widespread than her, and i agree with FAIR that it's in part due to the fact that King's message has been significantly watered down. Put it in the same category as people being shocked, shocked to learn that Nelson Mandela associated with Socialists while he was fighting apartheid. We haven't reached the end of racism, people are still trying to prevent blacks from voting, there is racial inequality in this country that can't just be explained by class problems, etc.. Today of all days (and really, i'm ok with all days), it's ok for Obama to "play the race card".

(This is all regardless of the fact that our very cautious president is unlikey to actually do so.)

By fnord12 | January 20, 2014, 4:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Well, you've screwed things up again, Megatron

Jim Smith at MightyGodKing:

I read this in IDW's April solicitation for its Transformers comic: "MEGATRON joins the AUTOBOTS! The perfect jumping-on point for new readers!" This may in fact be the least true statement in comics.

I don't know, it seems like the whole point of Megatron is that he is irredeemably evil. I guess it's the cannon. When I was a kid I couldn't help but notice all the good guy robots had little pistols, and the head bad guy robot had this giant arm-mounted nuclear bazooka and I was like "That's not faiiiirr!!!" To me that's the basic appeal of Megatron-he is a machine hardwired to be a dick.

Putting it this way may help explain one of the greatest mysteries in life, which is why Megatron always put up with Starscream and his endless whinging and second guessing and betrayals. I guess all Decepticons are just programed to be dicks, so it probably didn't even seem unusual to Megatron that Starscream was one.

That said, i agree with Jim Smith that all i ever need to know about the Transformers is the cartoons. I did investigate the British comics for a while when they were released in trade, trying to see the origins on Death's Head, but they didn't really stick with me and i can't really even say i remember what i read.

By fnord12 | January 20, 2014, 3:46 PM | Comics & TeeVee| Link

Our work is never over

Following up on my bloggity blog about people inflating their working hours, here's James Surowiecki and Paul Krugman on company expectations about overwork. Surowiecki says it's getting better. I'm not at the Wall Street banker level, but i haven't noticed a change at my company.

By fnord12 | January 20, 2014, 3:29 PM | My stupid life| Link

January 19, 2014

And a "How Are You?" to you too

I'm not Russian, but this resonates with me:

"WHEN an American asks me this question, it's like a wall of ice crashing down between us."...

The question in question is, "How are you?"

The answer Americans give, of course is, "Fine." But when Russians hear this they think one of two things: (1) you've been granted a heavenly reprieve from the wearisome grind that all but defines the human condition and as a result are experiencing a rare and sublime moment of fineness or (2) you are lying.


"'Fine' makes Russians think that Americans have no soul," I explained recently to an American-born friend. "That they just want to go home, eat a frozen dinner in front of the TV, and wait out the hours before going to work to make money again."

For my job, i'm on conference calls all day long, and the "How are you?" questions always comes up. And i've recently noticed that i've forgotten it's even meant to be a question. So i have conversations like this:

"Hi fnord! How are you?"
Then, belatedly, awkwardly. "Oh, i'm fine. How are you?".

I'm not trying to be rude; i've just forgotten how to interact with you humans.

Then there's the times it develops into a feedback loop.

By fnord12 | January 19, 2014, 11:00 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

January 17, 2014

More Digby

David Atkins at Digby's site, quoting the Economist, is on my beat about how the workers should share in productivity gains.

By fnord12 | January 17, 2014, 1:17 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Ironies of life

Yahoo news (via Digby) notes that Obama's big speech today defending NSA spying happens to be on the anniversary of Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex.

By fnord12 | January 17, 2014, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

If it ain't crunchy, it ain't al dente

You know what i am saying?

By fnord12 | January 17, 2014, 12:47 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

David Brook's shell game

If you want to see the economic takedown of David Brook's latest article blaming teenage moms and pot smokers for economic inequality, see Dean Baker and Paul Krugman and also the "Top Picks" on the comments section of Brook's column.

But on top of all the factual inaccuracies, there's also the strategic distraction that comes out of this kind of "reasonable conservative" schtick. Brooks writes:

[T]he income inequality frame needlessly polarizes the debate. There is a growing consensus that government should be doing more to help increase social mobility for the less affluent. Even conservative Republicans are signing on to this. The income inequality language introduces a class conflict element to this discussion.

Democrats often see low wages as both a human capital problem and a problem caused by unequal economic power. Republicans are more likely to see them just as a human capital problem. If we're going to pass bipartisan legislation, we're going to have to start with the human capital piece, where there is some agreement, not the class conflict piece, where there is none.

...If we're going to mobilize a policy revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues: bad schools, no jobs for young men, broken families, neighborhoods without mediating institutions. We should not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct.

Sure, ok, i'm on board with that for starters. Please name 40 Republican Senators and 118 Republican Congressman that will vote for a bill that funds schools, infrastructure spending, and social workers to address "bad schools, no jobs for young men, and broken families and neighborhoods without mediating institutions". But of course that's not possible. Republicans wouldn't even agree that those are the solutions to those problems, and addressing those issues aren't Republican priorities in any event. So suggesting that Democrats try to find some sort of bipartisan compromise is nothing more than a stalling tactic. So we'll keep pushing for a minimum wage increase and other measures to reduce income inequality. Thanks for the concern trolling.

Update: Yglesias covers my concern.

By fnord12 | January 17, 2014, 11:34 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 16, 2014

All you @?#!ers quit lying!

A report that we sleep more than we say we do, which follows up on a report that says we work less than we say we do.

As Catherine Rampell says, there may be discrepancies between the reports that measure this stuff. I mean, i may surf the internet or stare into space and pray that a meteor will land on me, but i still consider that "working" in the sense that i am chained to my desk. But those of you who are inflating your industriousness, quit it! You're just setting new standards that the rest of us now have to lie to match, and then next year you'll have to inflate it further. You're not doing anyone any favors, including yourself.

By fnord12 | January 16, 2014, 4:01 PM | Liberal Outrage & My stupid life & Science| Link

January 14, 2014

The mid sentence question mark

As part of my Master of Style series where i am allowed to write my own rules of grammar, i have decided to allow myself a question mark in the middle of a sentence if i want it. You'll see it below in the Wolverine review. I started with "But you know what, that's good enough for me." but felt like the "you know what" deserved a question mark. But it's just a conversational phrase, not a separate sentence. "But you know what? That's good enough for me." feels too formal. So, the mid sentence question mark. "But you know what?, that's good enough for me."

I was going to expand on this to allow exclamation points as well, but i already kind of do that in way that serves the need, which is putting the exclamation point in parenthesis. "He ran out and chased us off his lawn, his Genghis Khan hat (!) nearly flying off his head due to the speed of his approach." You can't do the same thing with question marks though.

P.S., don't be mad that i'm adding all this extra punctuation. I'm just balancing out the rest of society, which is going the other way.

By fnord12 | January 14, 2014, 10:00 PM | Master of Style | Comments (1) | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

All New X-Factor #1 - Wanyas said we could drop this, and i'm gonna take him up on that. It's not bad. I'm just not interested. I'll pre-empt Min and agree that their costumes are terrible.

Avengers Empire #1 is Avengers A.I. #8.NOW - After the awesome "kill this kitten" #6 and a nice sideline for Inhumanity last issue, my hopes for this series were increasing. This issue has killed that, though. First of all, the art sucks. Sorry, but it does. Having to draw Captain America's special ed helmet is unfair for any artist, but it really comes off terrible here. And this issue is full of opportunities for imaginative images, like Doombot counter-hacking the viruses and all the scenes in the virtual reality, but it's such flat, anti-dynamic art and the whole issue just makes me yawn. Compare to Valerio Schiti's really fun scenes from issue #6. Beyond that, this story is once again just dragging on. And i don't know WTF is up with all the special numbering; as far as i can tell this is just the eighth issue of the story we've been reading since the first issue. I can't imagine anyone jumping on here, if that was the point. Although if you jumped on here, at least you'd have the advantage of it being over quicker. Honestly, i'm ready to drop this.

Young Avengers #15 - Someone complained that this issue was too sentimental and also Phonogram-y in its music culture references, and i agree with all of that, but i thought it was a nice final issue. I'm not sure i understand the Tick-Tock Man, though.

Wolverine #13 - I'm pretty sure i said that i was looking forward to seeing Alan Davis draw Sabretooth fighting Wolverine, not Sabretooth talking at Wolverine for an entire issue. This series is weirdly ending with Wolverine beaten and depowered, and the only reason for the reboot (besides, you know, the state of the industry), is Alan Davis leaving. But you know what?, that's good enough for me. We can stop here.

Iron Man #20 - So if you look above you have a bunch of books that i'm either dropping or are cancelled. So i get to this book and once again i look at that Iron Metropolitan header and i'm like, ah hell, let's just drop this too and stop buying currents. But then, once again, i read it and enjoyed it. Now granted, the set-up here seems to be exactly the same as Gillen's first arc on Iron Man: he goes around and fights villains who have picked up the Extremis/Mandarin Rings. But i did enjoy it. I like the angle of an anti-corporate activist journalist being an Iron Man villain (she should really have become the new Firebrand instead of taking the name Red Peril). I liked the situational dialogue between Stark and Rhodey in the Vault (although Rhodey has seen the Mandarin rings up close before). And the idea of the rings being sentient is interest. Plus, any story about the Mandarin's rings ought to end with Fin Fang Foom, right? So i guess we can keep getting currents. At least as long as Superior Foes of Spider-Man is running.

By fnord12 | January 14, 2014, 9:19 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Some tubes are bigger than others

Kevin Drum:

Net neutrality was the de facto status quo until several years ago, when the Bush-era FCC decided to classify internet provision as an information service (IS) rather than a telecom service (TS)... The Obama FCC went on to impose tighter net neutrality rules, but left alone the classification of internet services as IS. Today, a federal judge decided that the FCC's rules exceeded its authority because it had failed to classify broadband Internet as a common-carrier service... The next step might be an appeal to the Supreme Court or it might be an FCC decision to reclassify the internet as a common carrier. But that's what it's come down to. If the Supreme Court upholds this decision (or refuses to hear an appeal), net neutrality is dead unless the FCC or Congress decide to reclassify broadband internet as a telecom service regulated as a common carrier.

See Drum's post for the non-ellipsed version and a link to an article covering the court decision. The new Obama era FCC chairman is opposed to "regulating the internet" which isn't good news. As if changing the classification in the first place and then putting in the half-assed neutrality rules wasn't already regulation.

By fnord12 | January 14, 2014, 12:49 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 13, 2014

Hordes of unemployed young men

Yglesias takes Catherine Rampell's observation that all of December's job gains went to women (and notably, not in high paying positions) and further breaks down the recent "recovery" to show that young men especially are not getting their jobs back. In the days of the Roman empire or something this might have been a good time to implement a draft and go invade some other country, but what are we going to do about it?

By fnord12 | January 13, 2014, 3:35 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

January 12, 2014

A very specialized form of Tourette's

By fnord12 | January 12, 2014, 1:56 PM | Comics| Link

January 10, 2014

Not sure you're helping, Rudy


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Thursday defended his pal New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) against the "bully" stereotype, saying the scandal surrounding the George Washington Bridge was just a "stupid political prank that backfired."

By fnord12 | January 10, 2014, 9:41 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

January 8, 2014

With a Title Like That, Ofc I Was Gonna Click on It


"Highly Mobile" Testicles Frustrate Effort to Calm Hippos in Captivity

Hippos are blessed with, as lead author Chris Walzer of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna put it, "highly mobile testicles."

Unlike humans, hippos' testicles are not external, nor are they tucked inside the abdomen. Instead they are located inside the inguinal canal, a space in the lower front part of the body. But their exact location in the canal varies widely, sometimes minute by minute. "Hippo testicles are retractable, and can vary in depth by around 40cm, which makes them quite hard to find," Walzer said, adding that there had been in the past several documented efforts that tried and failed to locate them, and at least one paper that declared that it was "not known" where they are.

Be warned! If you click on that link, you are going to be subjected to a drawing of hippo genitals!

I've always said that the location of such a sensitive body part on men is really, really stupid. It's just hanging out there, unprotected! Guys need what hippos got - the "ability to yank them more than a foot further into the body".

By min | January 8, 2014, 1:34 PM | Science| Link

Death porn at Weather.com

P.S. Gonna be warm today!

By fnord12 | January 8, 2014, 9:39 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

January 5, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Uncanny X-Force #15 - And so, after dragging that out for 15 issues, the team has been on exactly one adventure together and their problems with Bishop will have to be resolved in another title that i'm not going to be getting. I've been trying to mentally train myself for the past several years to think of a story arc, say four or six issues, being the equivalent of a single issue from 1980. It helps with my perception when, say, Colossus becomes Juggernaut or Spider-Man is replaced by Doctor Octopus. These stories feel like a new status quo because they go on for so long, but it's really just a couple of story arcs. If Colossus was the Juggernaut for like two issues of Claremont's X-Men in the 80s, we'd all just think it was awesome. But when it goes on for so long and it gets presented as a real change, some of us get agitated. So accounting for decompression is important. But it's getting to the point where you have to think of an entire series as being a story arc. There was no team called Uncanny X-Force. There was just a group of people that happened to be in the same place when a situation presented itself. It's a bit hard to accept in realtime but maybe when i read these 15 issues all at once one day for my timeline project, it'll feel like the equivalent of a random Danny Fingeroth fill-in issue of Iron Man or something and i'll be like "Sure, this was fine.".

X-Men #8 - There was no Sisterhood of Evil Mutants composed of Lady Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary, and the Enchantress. There was no all female team of X-Men called X-Men. See? I can do this. I actually have no problem with the Enchantress being on a team of mortals; she was in the Masters of Evil, after all, and the reasoning used her for including her makes sense. This book is really fine, even if they tricked us with the art teams again.

Daredevil #34 - This was great, as usual. But i want to briefly gripe that Waid included people complaining about "the one percent" in the category of people that are like the Sons of the Serpent. I think it dilutes a stronger point that people exploit racial anxiety to get people to vote against their own interests (e.g.), but i understand Waid's desire for a broader message of tolerance. So i'm not griping about him including people who complain about "wingnuts", be they right-wingnuts or left-wingnuts. We should accept that people will have different political views. But people talking about income equality are not being intolerant or trying to manipulate people for some ulterior reason; income inequality literally is the issue that all the other issues are obscuring.

Indestructible Hulk #17 - Mark Waid likes the phrase "poke the bear" this month, considering he uses it both here (in reference to Tony Stark stepping on Bruce Banner's ego and turning him into the Hulk) and in Daredevil (in reference to Kristen McDuffie's speech about the Sons of the Serpent). I'm debating whether or not i liked the depiction of Stark in this issue. What's happening here is Tony Stark's personality is morphing into something like the movie version, and it's a good strong characterization which has roots in the comic version but it's more extreme than the comic version. And i like it a lot. But at the same time, with all the history Stark has in the comics dealing with Bruce and the Hulk, his actions in this issue are immensely dumb.

Fantastic Four #15 - Seriously, you guys, i picked the wrong time to start reading this book. Karl Kesel! Of course i would pick it up (i see Fraction is still getting top billing; i guess that's because he came up with the uber-plot (again, this would have been two issues in 1986)). But i didn't need all this alternate reality stuff. Especially since i'm getting the same thing but funny in FF. I could have managed with just a footnote that said "And also, all this same stuff happened but different to the Fantastic Four".

FF #15 - See, this version has a Darla bobblehead, Thing virtual fighters, Sun Tzu arguing with Julius Ceasar, and Leech, Arti, and company buzzed on Mountain Doop.

Secret Avengers #13 - Who is this Andrew Forson upstart that is outsmarting MODOK? Blasphemy. I'm also not sure who Anton Trask is. I thought maybe he was related to Larry and Bolivar. And maybe he is. But the way he revealed himself i thought he was already established as someone that i was supposed to know, and that appears to not be the case. You know what sucks? Reading a comic and not knowing if you're not understanding stuff because the comic's unclear or because there's history that you're not aware of. Better storytelling would help, so that Trask telling us his name wasn't presented like it was a revelation. Consistent use of footnotes would help so that i'd know that the absence of one here meant that i be sure he wasn't an existing character. Anyway, we plod on with this thanks to MODOK and Taskmaster, but this is another one that when it's cancelled i'm going to look back on and say "oh, so that was basically a two-issue story".

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #8 - Fun. Love the idea of Ock-Spidey getting a pep talk in arrogance from Namor to restore his faith in himself (it might have been funnier to set it up like the scene from Amazing Spider-Man #3 where Johnny Storm gives a pep talk to Peter Parker's school after Peter is defeated by Ock). And i love that it ended with Ock-Spidey punching out Namor for endangering "his" city.

Young Avengers #14 - Downtime epilogue and an origin for Miss America Chavez. Nice. Of course, there was no team called Young Avengers, etc.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #7 - This was awesome. The new Beetle is now my favorite villain, and this is definitely my favorite current title. Too bad the book is shedding readers by double digit percentages with every issue.

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 4:06 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Mysterious Lights Coming From Rifts in the Earth


The authors suggest that, during an earthquake, the stress of rocks grinding against each other generates electric charges, which travel upwards along the nearly vertical geological faults that are common in rift zones. When the charges reach Earth's surface and interact with the atmosphere, they create a glow.

"Earthquake lights are a real phenomenon--they're not UFOs," says lead author Robert Thériault, a geologist at Quebec's Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec City, Canada. "They can be scientifically explained."

Oh, i got your scientific explanation right here. It's pretty obvious to me that these glows followed by earthquakes are caused by Megalon digging his way out of Seatopia. Der.

By min | January 5, 2014, 11:25 AM | Godzilla & Science| Link

Like People in Arizona Didn't Have Enough Problems

Oy. Link

Action-movie star Steven Seagal says he is considering a run for Arizona governor. The actor, star of martial arts and action films including Marked for Death, Hard to Kill and Under Siege, told KNXV-TV that he is considering a shot at the state's highest office and has had a talk about the bid with the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America.

The 61-year-old made the comments while talking about his newly released reality series, Steven Seagal - Lawman: Maricopa County. Seagal teamed up with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for the show, which was shot in Arizona and airs on cable TV's Reelz Channel.

By min | January 5, 2014, 10:46 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Veganz: European Vegan Supermarket Chain

Who knew veganism was so popular with the Germans? Link

You know the drill - you look for the Vegan symbol, most of the time it's not there, so then you check the entire list of ingredients. Even after this you feel unsure if it is definitely vegan -- have they listed all the ingredients? Have they made a mistake? If it is vegan-friendly, why don't they label it? Hmm, is it safe to buy this?

So imagine a supermarket where you could safely buy every item, where EVERYTHING is vegan. 'Don't be so ridiculous; there couldn't possibly be such a place' you say. I wouldn't joke about something so wonderful...

According to Veganz's* Marketing manager, veganism is "cool" in Berlin now. When's that trend going to move to the States so i can shop at an all-vegan market, too?

*i don't feel quite right about that apostrophe-s, but i think it's technically correct.

By min | January 5, 2014, 10:34 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Captain America killed people and wore dresses

The question of whether or not Captain America ever killed anyone during World War II is relevant to the current entry i'm working (Captain America #321-322) on for my Marvel timeline project, and i already have a couple of examples where he does, but i wanted to take a peek at some Golden Age issues i don't "own". And before i get to some more examples, i first wanted to call out this great image, which was an opening splash from a story in Captain America Comics #2.

We've all seen Cap punching out Hitler on the cover of issue #1, but i had never seen this one before. It doesn't actually happen in the story. I wonder if it's all part of the same story, told only on covers and in splash panels. Did Cap punch Hitler and then, with Bucky's help, knock him into a trash can? Or were these two separate occasions? Did Cap give Hitler a wedgie some other time, and maybe another time a book check? OMG, is there an alternate universe where Cap and Hitler went to school together, and Cap and Bucky were the class jocks picking on poor Nerd Hitler?

Also from issue #2, something completely different:

How often did Cap and Bucky "Go to Europe"?

Ok, now for what i was actually looking for. Here's some scenes from issue #2:

And some from issue #5:

I stopped looking after #5, but the other thing on my mind regarding Cap never killing is the retcon about Bucky actually being a trained assassin. Obviously it was something Cap was aware of and condoned. Which would make a refusal by Cap to kill anyone himself a pretty dumb and irrelevant decision. Now of course a retcon from the Ed Brubaker era doesn't retroactively make Mark Gruenwald wrong (but the examples from the Golden and Silver Age do), but it does indicate that Marvel's position on the subject today is not what was established by Gruenwald.

Here's a quote from an interview with Brubaker regarding the decision to turn Bucky into an assassin:

I had always liked his character because I had read those "Tales of Suspense" issues -- the ones that were Iron Man story and half Captain America wartime story -- and Bucky was always running around with a machine gun. He didn't look like a little kid like he did in the comics in the 1940s. The funny things is in the [pre-code era] comics of the 1940s he was actually more [of a bad guy] running around with a flamethrower and dropping atom bombs on people. [Marvel executive editor] Tom Brevoort told me that every third cover in the '40s it was Cap and Bucky parachuting into enemy territory and Cap is holding his shield while Bucky is the one unloading with multiple machine guns on anybody below. Bucky was more of the [bad guy] of the two. I started looking at it that way as I built his character.

Here are links to some of those covers: issue #22, issue #25, issue #31, and issue #33.

The above isn't comprehensive; just a random sampling.

On a whim, i decided to look through one of those issues and picked #33. And it raised another point for me. Captain America was also deployed as Private Steve Rogers during World War II, and his unit definitely saw action (and yes, i picked these panels in part to show Captain America using the word "Nips"):

So did Rogers never fire his gun at the enemy? What did his squad mates think of that?

Also in this issue was a scene that really nicely supports the Brubaker retcon:

These issues are a real gold mine. One day i'd like to get all the Golden Age Cap Masterworks, but i see that they only go up to issue #24.

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 9:39 AM | Comics| Link

Not that i personally give a nerf dropping about the expanded universe

Tim O'Neil has some lots of thoughts about the Star Wars license reverting (so to speak) to Marvel, why Marvel continuity is different than Star Wars continuity (to Disney execs), and why you can say goodbye to the expanded universe. And if none of that interests you, it is also the only time anyone has referred to Laurell K. Hamilton as "literary".

By fnord12 | January 5, 2014, 9:23 AM | Comics & Star Wars| Link

January 3, 2014

Basic Bread


  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (~90degF)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups flour*
  • 1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • Yield: one 1 1/2 pound loaf

Combine the water, oil, sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour in a mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. Leave it to sit for 15 minutes as the yeast blooms. If desired, the batter can be left to sit for a couple of hours, allowing more yeasty flavors to develop. The batter should foam and possibly form bubbles. If it doesn't, your water might have been too hot and killed the yeast, or the yeast packet was a dud.

Meanwhile, combine the salt and the remaining flour. Add this to the batter and mix with the paddle attachment until it forms a dough. Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes, allowing the flour to fully hydrate. With the mixer set on low (speed 2 if you've got a bowl lift KitchenAid like me), knead with the dough hook attachment until soft and slightly tacky (~8 min). Sprinkle a bit of flour onto the dough if it's too sticky. The finished dough should spring back into shape when poked. Pinching off a walnut-sized ball of dough, stretch it between your thumbs and forefingers to form a thin membrane without tearing (windowpane method). If you can do this, it means there's sufficient gluten formation in the dough, and you can stop kneading.

Move the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat so that the top doesn't dry out (a dried top inhibits rising). Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap.

Now, there are several methods for proofing bread dough, a warm (somewhere in the 78-85degF range) and moist environment being key. I recently discovered this one and love it. Using the microwave, heat a cup of water in a glass measuring cup until it starts to bubble (~2 min). Move the cup into the corner of the microwave to make room for your bowl. Close the door and leave it rise for 1-2 hrs (until doubled in size). Check for ripeness by sticking two fingers into the dough up to the second knuckle. If the holes remain, the dough is ready.

Gently push your fist into the center of the dough. If the dough seemed sticky when you tested for ripeness, oil your fist before doing this. Pull the edges of the dough to the center and turn out onto a lightly floured board. Let it rest for 15 minutes, covering with the bowl.

Lightly grease an 8 1/2" loaf pan. Knead the dough gently two or three times to release any additional air bubbles. Shape it into an 8" loaf. Place it into the loaf pan and cover with the oiled plastic wrap again. Warm the cup of water in the microwave again and place the loaf pan in the microwave for the second rise.

When the dough crowns the pan by approximately 1/2" (~60 min), preheat the oven to 400degF with a pan of water on the bottom rack. When lightly pressed on the side, the indentation in the dough should remain, indicating it's ready for baking.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. If the bread is browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

*This bread can be made entirely with all-purpose flour. The loaf pictured above has 1 cup white wheat flour and 2 1/4 cups all-purpose. I prefer the nuttier taste the white wheat gives and have used as much as 50% white wheat in this recipe. I haven't tried it with 100% white wheat, but that might require the addition of vital wheat gluten to ensure a soft bread.

By min | January 3, 2014, 4:36 PM | Vegan Vittles| Link

Talking dog also not included

By fnord12 | January 3, 2014, 2:32 PM | Comics| Link

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