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March 27, 2014

Recap 56

And now, Search for the Lizard God Egg, Part I.

By min | March 27, 2014, 12:25 PM | D&D| Link

It's ok as long as you ask

Even if they say no.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2014, 11:37 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Why we need single-payer

This is just nuts.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2014, 11:05 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Tom & Jerry remake with CGI anime characters

Honestly, this just makes me miss hand drawn cartoons.

By fnord12 | March 27, 2014, 10:52 AM | TeeVee| Link

March 26, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Black Widow #4 - Meh. I'd leave it at that, but i see this is getting some positive reviews, so i will defend my ambivalance. Personaly, i don't love Noto's art. It's pretty at times, but not great with storytelling or action scenes, and it really ruined the impact of the Black Widow's first super-fight in this series for me. I also had a visceral anti-movieverse creep reaction when Black Widow included Banner amongst the Avengers at this point (i have no idea what's going on in the Avengers books right now but i don't see her listing him regardless). Storywise, it's fine; i could do less with of the Widow telling us she's bored with her regular work but also doesn't like super-fights, but it's all fine. Just a bit uninteresting.

Captain Marvel #1 - Another "meh" for me. I actually thought we dropped this title; i forgot that it went into a pre-reboot hiberation. At least this issue doesn't have Captain Marvel de-powered, sick, or time-traveling. I guess a space adventure could be cool if she actually gets to do stuff. Did anyone else think a green woman named Tic might be the same species as Bug from the Micronauts?

Ms. Marvel #2 - Maybe i'm just cranky, but this one also didn't seem that great. I thought last issue was a nice set-up. But this issue also felt like more set-up and not enough forward movement. I hope the series isn't all about us learning what her powers are; if she's a shape-shifter, fine, let it be that and let's have a story now. If that's not the really what her powers are, get it out quickly. I assume next issue will be her back in school and interacting with her friends, and that may get a little more interesting.

X-Men #12 - Oh god, what a mess. First of all, that Meanwhile stuff at the end has to be the worst storytelling decision i've seen in a while. Then there's the absolutely anti-climactic defeat of whatsername, the bacteria lady. And then the other members of the Sisterhood. Enchantress is taken down so easily by Monet. Lady Deathstrike, i'm not even sure what happened with her and Cortez and bacteria lady and who's in what body. And then Selene and Madelyne Pryor just walk away after all that build up! What the hell? I guess if i had faith in Wood's long term planning skills, it might be a cool weird twist that these guys just choose not to participate, but as it stands it all just feels like a house of cards falling down.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #10 - This is a fill-in but it's decent. It actually would have made a decent Point One issue in the way it introduces (what's left of) the Foes.

Iron Man #23.NOW - #1 of an eight part story, of which this is part 5. Wait, what? Anyway, i like Luke Ross' competent art and Gillen's writing and Malekith, so whatever you need to do to keep the series from getting canceled or whatever is fine.

Daredevil #1 - Guys, i put on a warmer shirt and i moved my laptop from the table to the couch while i was writing this Speed Review. Does that mean i have to start over with a new #1? I may need to charge you an extra dollar, too. But this was fine. Great even. Like with Iron Man, whatever you need to do to keep it going.

Revolutionary War: Motormouth and Revolutionary War: Warheads - To the 9,000 or so and dropping other people that are reading this... it's pretty good right? Fun. I don't know why no one else is getting it. I mean, i know why, it's about characters that most people haven't even heard about, let alone care about. But it's good. I could see it being the lead-in to an ongoing series about some of these guys. But not with these numbers. Oh well. I did think the Warheads issue was the first where i was a little confused and felt disconnected from the characters. The Motormouth story, like the previous issues, was quite good at giving us the info we needed. But while the Warheads clearly tried to do the same, it didn't work as well. Oh well, at least i understood the implications of Killpower showing up at the end, thanks to the Motormouth book. Looking forward to the conclusion.

By fnord12 | March 26, 2014, 5:50 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

March 25, 2014

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | March 25, 2014, 12:36 PM | Comics| Link

System Administrators: The NSA is Hacking Your Shit


Across the world, people who work as system administrators keep computer networks in order - and this has turned them into unwitting targets of the National Security Agency for simply doing their jobs. According to a secret document provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the agency tracks down the private email and Facebook accounts of system administrators (or sys admins, as they are often called), before hacking their computers to gain access to the networks they control.
Hacking into the computers of sys admins is particularly controversial because unlike conventional targets - people who are regarded as threats - sys admins are not suspected of any wrongdoing.
Once the agency believes it has identified a sys admin's personal accounts, according to the posts, it can target them with its so-called QUANTUM hacking techniques. The Snowden files reveal that the QUANTUM methods have been used to secretly inject surveillance malware into a Facebook page by sending malicious NSA data packets that appear to originate from a genuine Facebook server. This method tricks a target's computer into accepting the malicious packets, allowing the NSA to infect the targeted computer with a malware "implant" and gain unfettered access to the data stored on its hard drive.

"Just pull those selectors, queue them up for QUANTUM, and proceed with the pwnage," the author of the posts writes. ("Pwnage," short for "pure ownage," is gamer-speak for defeating opponents.) The author adds, triumphantly, "Yay! /throws confetti in the air."

By min | March 25, 2014, 12:35 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 21, 2014

The Kids Are At It Again

Always roughhousing while i'm at work, disintegrating one another...

Can 1 1/2 Wookiees take out Darth Vader before he solidifies his power?

The Tiki Men are neutral observers to this conflict.

By min | March 21, 2014, 10:58 AM | My stupid life & Star Wars| Link

March 20, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

New Warriors #2 - Some art problems: i guess it's supposed to be a big reveal that the Evolutionaries are big ugly cavemen people, but i didn't get that at all from the art...

...and had no idea what the "ugly stick" comment was about until we got to Justice and Speedball reviewing the X-Men files later on. And that scene with Jarvis... why does he look like Henry Pym in the close-up shot?

I had to look at that a bunch of times to make sure i wasn't missing something (the fact that they are faceless in the bottom panel didn't help, but at least that's a distance shot).

Now to go off on a tangent: i really appreciated that Avengers/X-Men file device to give us some exposition on the Evolutionaries' past appearances. It's the sort of thing you take for granted reading older comics but it's sadly not all that common today, so it was nice to have. Including a footnote would have been even better. But it probably wouldn't have helped that much. Because i wanted to see who wrote the original Evolutionaries story, so i looked it up online, and i saw that they were in "X-Men vol. 3". Then i went to my trusty UHBMCC to look up the creator credits and holy hell are there are lot of X-Men titles! The good news is that UHBMCC does have a listing for plain "X-Men (III)" and i was able to discover that the original Evolutionaries stories was indeed written by Yost.

Second tangent: "Evolutionaries" isn't the greatest name in the world for soldiers that work for the High Evolutionary. Granted we have Doombots and Horsemen of Apocalypse. And "Purifiers" is already taken. But now i want to rename the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to the "Magnetos" and Bill Haley and the Comets to "Bill Haley and the Haleys".

/End tangents. Storywise i'm still liking this. A long term plot involving the High Evolutionary trying to prepare humanity for a Celestial judgement sounds awesome. And as cosmic and out there as that sounds, Yost is great with keeping this story very grounded and the character interactions a lot of fun. My concern about the pace of the "building of the team" arc is still there, but we are obviously seeing some progress on that. And in the meantime, fun stuff.

Iron Man #22 - She was the Red Peril, right? Not the Red Threat? If she was going to change her name, you know what i would have picked... I guess it doesn't matter anymore. Doesn't look like Min's going to have her around to pick on her choice of poses while flying anymore, either (although we do get it one last time). The other big news in this issue is Malekith. I guess now that he's Mr. Movie Star (although he was very different in the movie) we're going to be seeing more of him, and i'm fine with that. Artwise, especially with Tony's faces, i feel like Bennett is trying to look like Eaglesham trying to look like Land, and let me just say that it's not necessary, guys. But this continues to be good, even if we didn't have any talking ring conversations this time.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #9 - Continues to be great. I nearly got my Bullseye/Boomerang dart match, Boomerang is hilariously the hero of his own story and yet a horrible person, the scenes with Silvermane's head are great, etc., etc.. Not sure about this characterization of Hydro-Man but i'll go with it. Someone might want to note that no one freaked out when Bullseye appeared at the end of last issue even though he's supposed to be crippled (or even dead?), compared to the Bendis stuff we've been talking about here, and it's because we haven't lost trust in Spencer yet (and Bullseye turned out to be an LMD here, in a funny scene). One little aside: every time i see Fancy Dan he's even smaller than last time.

By fnord12 | March 20, 2014, 11:21 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

March 18, 2014

Book Review: Rogue Touch

This is the second of the 2013 Marvel-licensed novels released by Hyperion, and thankfully, the last (the first being The She-Hulk Diaries).

Firstly, the back cover plot summary:

Twenty-year-old Anna Marie was just fired for the third time--this time from a bakery. Why can't she hold a job? Well, for starters, she dresses . . . differently. She looks like a Goth girl to the extreme, her shock of white hair contrasting with her head-to-toe black garb, her face the only skin she chooses to reveal. But Anna Marie doesn't have a choice. Her skin, her touch, is a deadly weapon that must be concealed. She accidentally put her first boyfriend, Cody, in a coma when they kissed. Horrified, she ran away to Jackson, Mississippi.

But when she meets otherworldly James, everything changes. He's just like her--completely alone and also on the run. To elude James's mysterious and dangerous family, the pair takes to the highway. As they cross the country, their simmering attraction intensifies and they both open up about their secretive pasts. James reveals that his true name is "Touch" and he christens Anna Marie "Rogue". But with danger at their heels, they know they can't run forever. Rogue must decide if she'll unleash her devastating powers once again, which she swore never to do, in order to save the only person who seems truly to understand and accept her.

Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. That actually says "Goth girl to the extreme". Because she wears all black. Black clothes = Goth. That's math. Look it up.

Several times i wondered "why is she only wearing black?". Yes, she has to cover her skin to prevent accidental touching, but, you know, long sleeves come in all sorts of colors nowadays at no extra cost. It's one of those mysteries we will never know the answer to.

Anyway, Rogue Touch by Christine Woodward (who's actually Nina de Gramont) is a YA romance starring a young Rogue who left home and the aunt who raised her a few years before the start of the book. Sadly, Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are not in any way part of this story.

My understanding of Rogue's powers has been that she only absorbs a person's memories and abilities temporarily. The person touched will fall unconscious, the length of which is determined by how long the contact lasts. In the novel, however, a brief touch is able to put Rogue's former employer in a coma that lasts weeks. Memories and abilities absorbed seem to be permanent. And her absorption powers work on animals.

By making the absorption permanent and nearly lethal no matter what, the author pretty much neutered Rogue. She took an essential characteristic of Rogue and made it impossible to use. Naturally, you can't have your heroine going around putting people into comas willy nilly.

So, other than accidental touches (5, including Cody) mostly involving animals attacking her, Rogue uses her powers a whopping two times in this book.

  1. Just after she puts Cody in a coma, she touches a kitten to see if she was really the cause of Cody's collapse. The kitten ends up dead after the brief touch and Rogue permanently gains green eyes and night vision.
  2. She uses it near the very end to get away from a bad guy.

What you're left with is simply a story about a young girl on the run. Girl meets boy. Boy is totes hawt. Boy is also on the run. They both fall in insta-love. They run away together. They almost get caught. They run away some more. They get caught. They defeat the bad guys. The end.

Anyone could have fulfilled the female protagonist role in this story. If you were drawn to this book because you loved mutant-power-wielding Rogue from the comics, you might be disappointed. If you always secretly wondered if Rogue ever got hot wearing all those clothes to prevent accidental skin-to-skin contact, rejoice, my friends. This is the book for you.

For those of you who aren't concerned about spoilers, read on.



Just a couple of wackadoo things that happened in the story that made me go "Hurnh??":

  1. The boy in the story introduces himself as "James". A little further into the book, he says he's an alien (he's actually from the future) and his actual name translates to "Touch" (get it? Rogue Touch!). Rogue decides she's going to call him Touch from now on. Cause it just feels right. I mean, it's not really a big deal. It just struck me as really odd. I have a name that translates into something but i don't want you calling me by the translation. You should either call me by my actual name or the name i chose for myself that you can actually pronounce. And at the very least, you should prolly ask me before you start changing what you call me. That's just manners.
  2. Let's say a couple of nights earlier you stole a brand new, red Prius by crashing it through the showroom window in a bid to escape from the bad people chasing you. You successfully escape and buy a shit-ton of camping supplies before stopping at a campground.

    What do you do when you wake up the next morning? Do you:

    1. wipe out all traces of your stay and get back on the road ASAP,
    2. discuss a strategy for avoiding detection and capture since you almost got nabbed last time, or
    3. take a leisurely hike through the woods because it's such a lovely day, leaving behind your supplies and cash in the stolen car?

    Yeah. That happened. Needless to say, they had to abandon the car and all their stuff because the cops were on the scene by the time they returned from their hike.

  3. Turns out, Touch has a young son (he decided to break up with his wife after he traveled back to the present and fell in insta-lurv with Rogue. The wife is one of the bad guys, so that makes it ok.). In order to protect his son from becoming like his wife and father, he sends the kid to the present, entrusting him to Rogue's care.

    She, in turn, drops him off at the curb of Coma Cody's parents' house. The Robbins had done such a bang up job raising Cody, she was sure they'd do great with Touch's kid. Who knows if they can afford to raise him what with Coma Cody's hospital bills. Or if they even want to do it at this stage of their lives. Pshaw. She knows they'll be great! And anyway, she's got places to be. Touch left her a screwdriver that can hack ATMs so she doesn't have to worry about money (unlike the Robbins...har!) so she gets herself a bitchin' Camaro and heads to Maine where she dreams of Touch one day coming back for her. And the kid. I guess. If he's still alive or whatever.

By min | March 18, 2014, 1:04 PM | Boooooks & Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Brevoort link blogging

Just more for posterity.

Why Marvel no longer tries to coordinate character appearances in other books and Why guest appearances by Spider-Man and Wolverine don't help sales anymore.

By fnord12 | March 18, 2014, 12:41 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

The Biscuit Was Clear

Tony (aka Iron Man) is separated from the rest of the group by the rubble from the collapsed wall. He's lost his face plate (modern-day armor). There is no way he can dig through the rubble without using up too much of the suit's power (1960s drawbacks). Looking around, he sees an open door and moves towards it. The room is softly lit, an unused fireplace on the far wall. As he walks towards it, a hologram of a man's head and torso appear on the hearth.

Spotting him, the hologram speaks.

"Ahh...there you are."

Sensing a trap, Tony moves to exit the room, but the door closes before he can reach it.

The scene changes to a brightly lit lab. Tony Stark has turned into some random stranger wearing slacks and a striped shirt and tie. Suspenders, even. The hologram has been replaced with a real person. He directs his underlings to attack the stranger. He wants him for parts. No matter that his circuitry might not be compatible. It's always best to take every opportunity to capture cyborgs on the chance their parts could be useful.

Engaged with one henchman, the stranger is unable to dodge the second henchman's blow. The double-headed battle axe sinks into the stranger's shoulder and chest. He falls. Pink fluid gushes from the wound, flooding the floor.

Struggling, he manages to sit up and reaches for the axe handle and freeing it from his body.

Later, everyone is encased in a floating buttermilk biscuit sphere.

By min | March 18, 2014, 10:45 AM | My Dreams| Link

March 17, 2014


Have some:

1987 Oxyclean Zittles Ad

By fnord12 | March 17, 2014, 3:02 PM | Comics| Link

He is just putting it out there. Waaaay out there.

Rapture based explanations for missing persons:

"Especially today, on a day when we deal with the supernatural, we go to church, the supernatural power of God. You deal with all of that," Lemon said to Meltzer. "People are saying to me, why aren't you talking about the possibility -- and I'm just putting it out there -- that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?"

By fnord12 | March 17, 2014, 11:39 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

I found some space in my wallet. Therefore i must have been a millionaire.

From the Jan/Feb issue of Discover, under a headline of "New Signs of Long-Gone Life on Mars":

In 2013, the rover Curiosity found the most convincing evidence yet that [Mars] was once habitable... The findings: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorous - key ingredients for life - plus chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide that could provide energy for microorganisms. All were found in a locale that was once wet, and neither too salty nor acidic.

The article is part of a review of the top significant events of last year, and my first thought on seeing the headline was that i missed the fact that we found evidence of life on Mars, which seemed like a pretty important and exciting thing that i missed! But on closer inspection that wasn't the case at all.

I am as lay a lay person as you can get, but i have at least two problems with this. The first is that just because you find the building blocks for life doesn't mean that life used to exist there. I think this is largely a problem set by the expectation in the headline. The article itself says "habitable", but the headline's "signs of long gone life" seems incredibly misleading. The article also speculates about "why life there might have died out" which further increases the impression that we actually found evidence of life as opposed to an environment that we think used to be habitable.

The second problem is my standard bugaboo that we seem to define "habitable" very narrowly based just on what we have on Earth. Now i grant that this is at least partially due to my having read too many science-lite science fiction and fantasy stories. I mean, i have no problem believing that we could find fire-based life forms in the sun! But even more realistically, the idea that the environment couldn't be a little more salty or acidic in order to support life seems too restrictive. It seems like we're only looking for conditions exactly like how life might have started on Earth.

Again, this is all coming from a lay person (reading a magazine designed for lay people, though!). And i'm sure the fact that we found carbon, hydrogen, etc.. on Mars is indeed one of the significant findings of 2013. It's just, there's no need to hype it up further than that and get me all excited about Martians! (Or even Martian bacteria...)

By fnord12 | March 17, 2014, 10:54 AM | Science| Link

March 16, 2014

Vegan Mint Fudge Brownies

Once again, it's St. Patrick's Day Observed. Last year i said i was going to flaunt tradition and make a non-traditional soda bread. Alas, i couldn't actually bring myself to do it. So we had surprisingly tasty regular vegan soda bread once again.

For dessert, however, we went with the ol' standby of "if it's green, it's St. Patrick's Day" because nobody wanted to eat Apple Orange Bread Pudding.

Now, here's fair warning - these brownies are a diabetes sugar coma just waiting to happen. They're super rich, too. Cut them into small 1 to 1.5-inch squares. You can always get yourself another piece if you don't need to go to the hospital after eating the first one.

Without any further ado or safety warnings, here's Vegan Mint Fudge Brownies:

vegan mint fudge brownies

Vegan Fudge Brownies


  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 of 12.3oz box of firm silken tofu (we like Mori-Nu)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 6 T butter (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper extends over the edges. Preheat the oven to 350degF.

Melt the chocolate chips and butter using a double boiler or the microwave. If using the microwave, be sure to heat the chips in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, to avoid burning the chocolate. Stop before all of the chips are melted. Stir until smooth and set aside.

Purée the tofu. In a large mixing bowl, combine the tofu, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.

Pour the melted chocolate to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients, whisking gently until just combined, but smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The center may not be set. When testing for doneness, your fork or toothpick should be wet but not covered in goo and some crumbs may stick to it. If the brownie needs more cooking, bake it in 2 minute intervals, testing each time, until done.

Allow to cool completely before using the parchment paper to lift the brownie out of the pan. The brownie can be cut and eaten at this point, but if you want to top it with cream and ganache, first carefully separate the brownie from the parchment paper and place it back in the baking pan uncut.

Spread the Vegan Mint Cream Cheese Filling evenly over the brownie. Top with a layer of ganache and leave to set before cutting and serving.

vegan mint fudge brownies

Vegan Mint Cream Cheese Filling


  • 2 T vegetable shortening, softened (we like Earth Balance shortening sticks)
  • 2 T vegan butter, softened (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
  • 4 oz vegan cream cheese (we like Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1 to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tsp peppermint extract

In a mixer, beat the softened shortening and butter until smooth. Since shortening is harder than butter, you may want to beat the shortening by itself first to avoid disgusting lumps of shortening in your cream filling. You could also use all butter and omit the shortening entirely, but i like using a bit of "solid at room temperature" fat to give the cream a bit of structure.

Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Begin adding the powdered sugar in half cup increments until you reach the desired sweetness. Remember it's going on top of a brownie, so you don't want it to be as sweet as you might normally like your cream cheese frostings. It should also still be pretty gooey.

Add the peppermint extract and mix thoroughly. This will also be to taste, so start with 1 tsp and increase the amount accordingly.

Dye it green with food coloring. Now it's Irish.

Vegan Ganache


  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 T butter (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)
  • 1/2 cup creamer (we like Organic Valley soy creamer)

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Try not to get any on your person while transferring it to the brownies (i always fail this part).

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

By min | March 16, 2014, 1:55 PM | Vegan Vittles| Link

March 15, 2014

Terrors at the Dentist's Office

By fnord12 | March 15, 2014, 7:08 PM | My stupid life| Link

March 14, 2014

Who Needs a Birds Remake?

And one produced by Michael Bay, at that. I picture the birds having giant mechanical turrets attached to their bodies.

Don't get me wrong. A movie about birds with machine guns would be pretty awesome. I just would rather it not be associated with Hitchcock's movie.

By min | March 14, 2014, 11:41 AM | Movies| Link

Because we don't have album covers anymore

These Mothers are crazy. You can tell by their clothes. One guy wears beads and they all smell bad. We were gonna get them for a dance after the basketball game but my best pal warned me you can never tell how many will show up...sometimes the guy in the fur coat doesn't show up and sometimes he does show up only he brings a big bunch of crazy people with him and they dance all over the place. None of the kids at my school like these Mothers... specially since my teacher told us what the words to their songs meant.
Sincerely forever,
Suzy Creamcheese
Salt Lake City, Utah

By fnord12 | March 14, 2014, 10:04 AM | Music| Link

March 13, 2014

Possibly my brain never grew out of its teenage years

It also prefers late to bed, late to rise.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2014, 6:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Classic Rock

Here's a fun way to feel old: go to a record store!

I hadn't been to one in ages, but some friends were visiting and we went to one that we used to go to in younger days. They had been to another store earlier in the week, and in that store, the music is organized into "Then" and "Now" sections, and it seems that everything they were interested in was in the "Then" category. And at this one, the definition above. By that definition, every band that already existed by the time i became interested in music is now Classic Rock.

I had always thought the definition was less fluid and more about a specific genre and era (maybe everything from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin), but record stores are obviously in the business of selling records, not creating taxonologically accurate categories, and they would like you old people to go over there, please. Over the in the corner, so you don't scare away the few young people that are actually considering coming into a store to buy physical objects that contain music instead of just downloading it.

By fnord12 | March 13, 2014, 4:07 PM | Music| Link

March 12, 2014

Dear Dianne Feinstein

Welcome to the rest of us. Guess what? We don't like to be spied on any more than you do.

By fnord12 | March 12, 2014, 11:16 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 10, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Secret Avengers #16 - Oh, that's over? But what about... wasn't there a thing with Daisy Johnson, and is that really how we're gonna leave it with this mind wipe stuff and... well, ok. Bye!

Hulk #19.INH - Waid's Hulk run hasn't been quite as great as Daredevil, and lately we've had a time travel story (technically an Age of Ultron tie-in) and now this overlong Inhumanity tie-in and these things just seem to be weighing the book down.

Iron Man annual #1 - We're rebooting annual numberings too? Really weird. I think it was best when they just put a year instead of a number for annuals. Anyway, the stories. This has three separate stories all tangentially related to the moon. The first one plays with a character and scenario i know nothing about and the story was kind of lost on me. Based on an ad at the end, it looks like maybe it was based on some digital-only comics? Thanks for that! The second one, with the Warren Ellis ("Eli Warren") character, i vaguely recall him from the early Greg Land issues in Gillen's run, although searching online suggests he was in the digital-only stuff too. Honestly, what's wrong with some footnotes? The third story nicely fills in some blanks on the Pepper/"Marc the PR guy" romance but wasn't worth the price of the annual alone. Really, i think even if i knew the characters from the first two stories better, this still would have read more like a preview than an actual book; something you'd find for free in the back of a regular issue. Here's a scan for a good friend of mine, though:

Revolutionary War: Super Soldiers - Continues to be a fun event. I enjoy the barely-meta commentary on the 90s.

New Warriors #1 - This was great. Fun little bits like Speedball and Brutacus playing video games right after fighting each other. Happy to see Speedball done with his emo phase (even if he also looks like he's de-aged 10 years). Great introductions to these characters. A diverse group of team members including some pre-existing characters that will make a nice fit for the team. And on top of that, we have the Salem Seven and the High Evolutionary. So this is a book making full use of the Marvel universe. And i am always a sucker for a building of the team story. If i have a concern it's that the pacing could be a problem; the first issue is over and these characters aren't even in the same location yet, let alone a team. It's totally fine so far, i just hope we don't have six issues of the team getting together just in time for cancellation.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2014, 6:26 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Appeal to the working class by appealing to the working class

Kevin Drum says it's not hard.

By fnord12 | March 10, 2014, 12:42 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

March 9, 2014

Mark Gruenwald on "continuity"

Here is Mark Gruenwald writing in a Mark's Remarks column in Iron Man #217 (Apr 87):

I don't let people use the word "continuity" around me. There is too great a difference between what most folks think it means and what it really means. In the strictest sense, continuity means a) the storyline of a comic strip or comic book, b) the transitional relationship between one panel's picture and the one that comes next, and c) the sense of cohesiveness and connection between one story, episode, or issue, and the ones that precede and follow it. So what do most people mean when they use the word "continuity"? They mean "a slavish single-minded devotion to trivial details found in ancient storylines and a strange compulsion to resurrect and glorify said details at the expense of other story values." That, my friends is indeed a problem that certain comics writers have been afflicted with, but that isn't "continuity". That's an obsessive love for trivia.

As I write this, Marvel Comics is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. That means that certain titles like FANTASTIC FOUR, THOR, and IRON MAN have been continuously publishing the exploits of its title characters for a long stretch now, generating untold millions of bits of trivia in the course of the ongoing storylines. Many but not all of those millions of trivial bits have been self-consistent. What is to be done about those few bits that are not? Ignore them, explain them, or devote a three-part epic that explores in vast detail why the discrepancy was actually a major subliminal scheme concocted by a deadly criminal mastermind? If you answered the latter, you probably suffer from the popular misconception of what "continuity" is as defined above. As the co-writer of the MARVEL UNIVERSE HANDBOOK, I see minor discrepancies all the time. Some of them have to be dealt with in order to compose a coherent history article fora character. The most recent example that comes to mind occurred when reaching the Zodiac entry. One account claimed that Nick Fury's brother Jake was the original Scorpio. A later account claimed he was the second Scorpio. So which do we go with? The evidence was equal for both hypothesis. We had to choose one over the other. We did. While I suppose a story could be constructed about who the original Scorpio was, it is not exactly one of the pressing concerns of our readers today (not like the identity of the Hobgoblin is). So if a writer came to me with a story about it, the idea alone would not be enough to convince me to go for it - it would have to be a mighty good story for me to want to devote 22 pages to it.

I was once asked if it were possible to write a great story about a character that violates the character's "continuity". I assumed that what was meant was a great story that contradicts some bit of trivia about the character - for example, what the name of his high school English teacher was. The answer is of course that it is possible. But a conscientious writer (like all of them who work for me) will not go out of his or her way to do so - that's childish. What is most important is that a writer stay true to the spirit and basic legend of the character. As editor, it's my job to see that he or she stays true to the wealth of sometimes trivial background details.

Some strawmen in there. But it's interesting that a lot of what's written here i could easily attribute to Tom Brevoort in 2014 if i didn't know better. And i think it's funny to see Mark Gruenwald complain about a slavish devotion to trivial details. I can't think of any writer who more exemplifies that phrase. I actually think it's his best attribute as a writer! But at the same time, despite everything he says, that last sentence is i think the key difference between then and now. Sure, don't worry about the name of a character's high school english teacher. But the editor is supposed to make sure the writer gets most of the details right. For better or worse, the editorial philosophy today is that the story comes first, regardless of what background details it ignores.

By fnord12 | March 9, 2014, 6:41 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

March 7, 2014

Alcohol and Sexual Aggression

You've had a few to drink. You're not exactly in any condition to make good decisions. So, it's totally not your fault you grabbed that chick's boob. Your thinking was impaired. You are totally a great guy when sober. Rilly.


In a study of sexual aggression in bars researchers have found that the invasiveness and persistence of unwanted come-ons is not correlated with how much the perpetrator has had to drink, but is instead related to how drunk the person on the receiving end seems to be. The paper, aptly titled "Blurred Lines? Sexual Aggression and Barroom Culture," after the summer hit by Robin Thicke, was published earlier this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. "Its not a blurred line, its a pretty easy line," says Kathryn Graham, senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and co-author of the paper. "The whole culture that thinks blurred lines is some kind of truth or inevitability, from our data, is a little bit astray."
William H. George, a psychologist at the University of Washington who studies how alcohol influences sexual health and behavior, says that consuming alcohol often turns sexual aggression into a self-fulfilling prophecy if the perpetrator enters the situation with the widely held cultural belief that drinking makes people more sexually uninhibited.

Tina Zawacki, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, agrees with that assessment. "It could be that drinkers use intoxication as an excuse to engage in a number of socially unacceptable behaviors, including sexual harassment and sexual assault."


Graham and her colleagues note that the men in the study appeared to harass women for the amusement of their friends, who in many cases would egg them on. For this reason, the authors endorse the adoption of preventative strategies that encourage bystanders to intervene, rather than trying to unfairly limit women's behavior. They cite their own "Safer Bars" program adopted by more than 300 bars and clubs in the Toronto area, which trains bar managers and bouncers to step in when they see troubling behavior in their establishment, as an example of an intervention that has shown promise in reducing sexual aggression.

Yes, let's please stop putting the onus on the victim. Ofc people should always take some precautions to ensure their safety in every aspect of life. Look before stepping into a street. Don't talk to strangers. Drink responsibly. I got it. But we don't go around saying "Well, you shouldn't have gone and gotten yourself stabbed.". So why is it ok to say "Well, you shouldn't have gone and gotten raped."?

While i'm being cautious and whatnot, shouldn't there be more focus on everybody doing what they can to prevent sexual aggression? The message shouldn't be "Hey, ladies, don't get drunk and end up raped.". It should be "Hey, everybody, acting like this is wrong. Don't do it. Don't let your friends do it.". As the article states, there's a cultural shift that needs to be made. We're not there yet.

By min | March 7, 2014, 10:51 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (1) | Link

March 6, 2014

The Marvelous Awards

Chrissy at the Marvelous Zone pauses after finishing 1963 to hand out some high honors.

By fnord12 | March 6, 2014, 9:56 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Cat-Delivered Bombs

Photograph: AP


You're a 16th century German prince plotting to crush a peasant rebellion, or perhaps you're leading an army against the Ottoman Empire or settling a score with a rival nobleman. What's a guy looking for a tactical edge to do?

The answer, of course, is rocket cats.


According to [researcher Mitch] Fraas's translation, Helm explained how animals could be used to deliver incendiary devices: "Create a small sack like a fire-arrow. If you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited."

In other words, capture a cat from enemy territory, attach a bomb to its back, light the fuse, then hope it runs back home and starts a raging fire.

Fraas said he could find no evidence that cats and birds were used in early modern warfare in the way prescribed by Helm.

"Sort of a harebrained scheme," he said. "It seems like a really terrible idea, and very unlikely the animals would run back to where they came from. More likely they'd set your own camp on fire."

And it doesn't address the classic jetpack problem - how do you not set your/the cat's ass on fire?

By min | March 6, 2014, 12:37 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Rush Holt Interview - Congress and Science

I really wish he wasn't retiring, but i have hopes he's not going away entirely.


There is, you know, the "Proxmire Effect" -- referring back to Sen. Proxmire, who used to ridicule serious research that had funny-sounding titles. And you know, he was wrong much more often than he was right. It's true that some research is unproductive. Some of it is even ultimately misleading. But the very idea of peer-reviewed research, you know, research that is guided by the conventions and the practices of the discipline -- and I emphasize the word "discipline" -- and that is chosen and supported by peer review, is very important to our success as a nation ...

Certainly when you have elected representatives ... inventing ideas about a woman's biology ... it's not just that they didn't take sex education classes in school. It's that they're just not grounded in evidence ...

I am not saying that scientists are smarter or wiser than other folks. But there are habits of mind: you know, a deep appreciation of evidence; an ability to deal with probability and statistics, to be alert to cognitive biases and tricks that our minds play on ourselves; ... a willingness to accept tentative conclusions and accept ... the uncertainty of these scientific conclusions -- not as reason for inaction, but a way of finding the best path forward ...

After the electoral errors of 2000 ... Congress passed an election reform bill and pushed ... the voting districts in America toward unverifiable electronic machines ... They were sold a bill of goods, essentially, by the voting machine manufacturers ... No one involved in writing the legislation had bothered to ask ..."What are the results? How do we know that your machine records the results that the people think they're casting?" And it turns out there is no way to audit the machines ...

Just some critical thinking; you wouldn't have to know anything about the software, or about the electronics of the machine, to be able to ask the kinds of questions that any scientist would ask ...

By min | March 6, 2014, 11:48 AM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link

March 5, 2014

Van Dio

A Montrose song came up on the iPod this morning (which... there's a lot of songs on my iPod, ok?) and it reminded me of this 2011 Rolling Stone feature with Sammy Hagar, where he said:

When Eddie Van Halen called me in 1985, it didn't come as a complete surprise. David Lee Roth had split a few months earlier, and I'd told my wife at the time, Betsy, "They're going to call me, you watch." Who else were they going to get? There was Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and me.

To even compare yourself to Our Lord and Master, may he rest in peace, is an effrontery that shall not go unpunished in the next world. But what if Van Halen had called Dio instead of Hagar? I can't even imagine.

By fnord12 | March 5, 2014, 7:30 AM | Music| Link

March 4, 2014

Math is Beautiful

In the study, researchers led by Semir Zeki of University College London asked 16 mathematicians to rate 60 equations on a scale ranging from "ugly" to "beautiful." Two weeks later, the mathematicians viewed the same equations and rated them again while lying inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. The scientists found that the more beautiful an equation was to the mathematician, the more activity his or her brain showed in an area called the A1 field of the medial orbitofrontal cortex.


The article tells me that Euler's Identity was rated the most beautiful equation out of 60. I don't know if i think Euler's identity is beautiful, but i do remember how much i loved my Differential Equations class in college because we'd go through this page long solution to an equation that contained no numbers and the answer was always zero. That was beautiful. I just got giddy thinking about it.

And i also remember how amazing it felt when i could actually visualize what the calculus equations translated into (e.g. bowls, funnels, cones with a part cut off, etc.). Oh, math, how i miss you.

By min | March 4, 2014, 11:50 AM | Science| Link

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