Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE WILEY MILLER HITS A HOME RUN: Here. I generally like the continuing storyline part of Non Sequitur more than the actual non sequiturs (Danae might be the greatest descendant of Lucy Van Pelt on the current comics page) but this one is really good.

Via ESWN, who has a link to Apple Daily's coverage of the Fujian elementary stabbings that I cannot bring myself to watch.
SAY, REMEMBER WHEN READING SAYYID QUTB WAS THE THING TO DO?: Those heady days of late 2001? When our brows furrowed, and we wondered why they hated us? And we decided it was our prosperous lifestyles they hated (the jealous creeps), and not our ceaseless meddling in their internal affairs? Remember? Well, you're probably better off. Larison reminds me of that time indirectly, by noting such claims were always bogus.
ON THE ORIGINS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM: The runaway star theory.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LATE TO THESE (COMICS EDITION): SEK and Erin Polgreen give form to my ill-thought out, but genuinely felt, dislike of Mark Millar.

EDIT: To add my quick summation of his work--he's an excellent and energetic self-promoter who doesn't have too much interesting to say within his chosen genre (the superhero) other than "Aren't these male power fantasies sort of silly? Here, let me show you how silly." And then he gets silly. But his power fantasies remain power fantasies, with maybe a dose of ironic distance thrown in. Any subversiveness you're detecting, you're probably in the main bringing it to the table yourself. But he's certainly found a niche! The creative ecosystem is vast, and has room for many, many types--may we all find our niches.
HAPPY PASSOVER: From a dude frequently mistaken for a member of the tribe, to the actual members of the tribe.
A SPIDER-MAN GAME? SCRIPTED BY DAN SLOTT?: Sign me up. With the caveat being the best possible Dan Slott-penned video game would involve Squirrel Girl versus every major villain and cosmic power in Earth-616. Because she's beaten them all you know. In continuity. It all really happened.
WHEN EVEN CAPTCHA IS PROVIDING COMMENTARY ON YOUR BASEBALL FRANCHISE: You've got problems. And I've already lost where I got this from!
REORGANIZING THE OLD COMICS COLLECTION: Used to want to just keep everything absolutely alphabetical, like in the good Mr Overstreet's annual volumes. But my collection is way out of hand and anyway I don't think storing things like that exactly encourages rereading--and why keep a collection if I'm not going to reread them? I am not, for the most part, a bags and boards collector, though times in the past I have been attracted to that style, to it's neatness and uniformity, I guess. But my passion for uniformity never lasts long. And besides it's a pain in the hinder to individually wrap all those comics and break out the little strip of Scotch tape. What I'm proposing is a variant on the bags-and-boards style, wherein I bag comics as a set when they contain a single storyline. Maybe even labeling the bags with the story title? Who knows! My anal-retentiveness can take many forms. But I doubt I'll go that far on a consistent basis. Alls I want is an orderly process to decide which comics to keep and which to ebay/yard sale/donate/recycle.
REALLY REALLY NOT HOPING FOR A DUKE/SPARTANS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: After all the crazy upsets and all-around fun of this tournament it will be a gosh-darned shame to have it end up being Izzo versus Krzyzewski. Not that Huggins is a wonderful dude either, but at least this is new territory for him.

(Krzyzewski, by the way, is another word that Google cannot even attempt to find a correct spelling for.)
NEW (TO ME) BLOG OF THE DAY: Which is the same as The Auteurs' blog of the day of March the 29th: Star Wars Modern. A series of occasional posts (almost essay-length) of cultural criticism that finds ways to tie it all back to Star Wars. Neat stuff.

Monday, March 29, 2010

THE FIRST STEP IN BECOMING A MATURE MST3K FAN: Is admitting that not every movie they watched was bad. It's true! The narrative of the show demanded the characters act like every move they watched was sheer torture, but many of the films themselves were charming in a B-movie way, or just weird without being unappealing (like many of the European sword and sorcery movies, or Pod People.) There's at least one minor masterpiece in the MST3K filmography (Kitten With A Whip, a wonderful film noir with Ann-Margret doing maximum scene-chewing) and possibly two (depending on how you feel about Danger: Diabolik, which I know has its defenders; I am not sold on it.) There are many solid films in the show's history: Girls Town, Brute Man, Escape 2000, Bloodlust!, Night of the Blood Beast, This Island Earth. And many more that were more cheap and charming than outright bad. For instance I give you Crash of Moons, a movie cobbled together from old episodes of Rocky Johnson, Space Ranger (the whole episode, please watch at your leisure):

See? That's not exactly bad. It's low budget, but it's entertaining enough, and dramatically self-consistent. It knows it's a low-budget 1950s science fiction show and it tries to be the best low-budget 1950s science fiction show it can be. And Patsy Parsons is fantastic as the villainess Cleolanta. So how does one reconcile one's enjoyment of the film being watched on MST3K with one's enjoyment of the riffing on the film? Well--consider that if MST3K is about anything it is about enjoying watching bad movies. The narrative suggests bad movies are torture, but really, the spirit of the show is watching bad movies and enjoying them. The show was always two-faced about this, I think, insisting their movies were terrible at the same time they were genuinely enjoying much of what they watched. As a mature MST3K fan you have to be a little two-faced too, respecting the jokes and respecting the films at the same time. Not to say every film on MST3K deserves respect--The Castle of Fu Manchu, by international uber-hack Jess Franco, is genuinely terrible. You'll have to decide for yourself which episodes to watch on multiple levels, and which to wholeheartedly cheer on the cast as the lay into something terrible. The MST3K films were not all terrible, though, which is the point of this post.

One related function of MST3K has been as a preserver of culture that otherwise would be totally forgotten: Manos, Pod People, Mitchell, and especially the films of Coleman Francis--these would all be utterly obscure without MST3K. So a show about celebrating-yet-loathing trash has also acted as a trash museum (as well as a museum for pop culture of all kinds, my own cultural vocabulary has been greatly expanded by my MST3K fandom.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

REVOLUTIONS IN MY APPROACH TO NEWSPAPER COMICS: My enjoyment of Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy has improved dramatically ever since I decided it was the newspaper equivalent of MST3K host segments. Laid back dude, his two wise-cracking and somewhat insane non-human buddies, using one location to tell most of the stories (Rob ventures outside once in awhile, I know)...I mean yeah. Think about it. Similar strain of humor too. Unsure whether I really needed to think of it as MST3K-like to really appreciate it, or if that was simply the comparison I made when Get Fuzzy started to click for me. A chicken or the egg question.
DEPARTMENT OF UNFORTUNATE HEADLINES: There had to be a better way to lead off a story about increasing cooperation between American and Mexican authorities than "Turning to the gringos for help," Economist. As a rational economic actor I let my subscription run out ages ago, by the by. Not that it isn't a great magazine! But it was sort of a luxury good and I was only reading half of it, if that, anyway.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

THE VAST LEFT-WING ACORN CONSPIRACY: Right? Didn't they get Obama elected via thousands of fake voters? Or worse yet, voters who don't even own property? The dastards! Subverting our democracy at every opportunity. I thus cannot recommend Jesse Walker's even-handed analysis of the group's demise at all. And remember, kids, Jesse's a glibertarian. He writes for Reason! He has to be!

(Sarcasm tags applied in this parenthetical. In cyberspace, nobody can hear you be ironic.)
DONDEROOOOOO: Vs Dave Weigel here. Remember when the Hit & Run comments were fun? I miss that. Joe from lowell needs to unretire. Thoreau too.
FROM THE BLOGISTAN FEMINIST READER: Jill at Feministe's Dating While Feminist. Noted simply because I'm amazed that any male would think the right reaction to his date telling him she's an avowed feminist would be to say something like, "That's awesome! I love hellcats!" When I hear "hellcat" if I'm not thinking "Patsy Walker" I'm thinking "that sounds like something Zap Brannigan would say during his terminally unsuccessful courtship of Turanga Leela."
WANT TO BECOME A RIGHT-WING BOGEYWOMAN?: Write an article for The Nation in the 60s! Then wait decades for a Breitbart protege to show up at your apartment. It's just that easy. Via a Newshogger's Twitter.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"BEAUTIFUL STUPIDITY": Now that's the right phrase to use to sell me on Just Cause 2. Eidos should use it on the cover. "'Beautiful stupidity', raves Ars Technica!" Sounds like the greatest fun sandbox since Saints Row 2. And "beautiful stupidity" sounds like an apt descriptor of a lot of great games, actually.
REPORTS FROM THE KOREAN FOREVER WAR: Uh oh. Via Ginmar. On the plus side maybe we'll get something as good as The President's Last Bang out of this eventually.
SPEAKING OF LESSER OF TWO EVILS: Oh like I'm going to take Charles Murray's word over Frum's.
WELL HEY: A negative review of that new Michael Lewis book that doesn't involve the fact that it isn't on Kindle! Will wonders never cease...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MORE FRUM: A whole page of reactions titled "After Firing, Bloggers Side With David Frum." Yeah, AEI is probably the greater of two evils there. (Not that Frum's evil. It's an expression.)
OH NO: No more International Bowl. Where am I ever going to get another excuse to visit Toronto? Well--I guess maybe some Alouettes road games. Or the Grey Cup I am going to attend at least once before I die.
DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE NAMING FAIL: Really hope that "X-woman" is just a placeholder name for that possibly new human species. Unless science wants to deal with Marvel legal which is now Disney legal.
LITTLE BIT OF THINKTANK INSIDE BASEBALL: Bruce Bartlett on the firing of David Frum. And noting how the conservative policy establishment is getting really warped by its donors.
ENVY. IT'S ALL RELATIVE: As seen here (via Balloon Juice.) Wherein science says you only feel bad about how little money you're making relative to your friends. Wonder if this is the sort of thing you can train yourself to emote around, because I imagine I am on the lower end of the income scale relative to--say--my Facebook network. And I don't want to resent them! Maybe you can get around it if you substitute other things in place for money. As in, "Sure, my peer group is way loaded compared to me. But in terms of obscure comic book knowledge, I'm a billionaire! Relatively speaking." Yeah, that might work.

(Speaking of Balloon Juice: Intense dislike to DougJ here for lumping Jesse Walker in with the more awful Reasonoids. Man should not be lumped with his tea party-loving fellow travelers. Unless you want him to quit out of ideological purity.)
SOMETIMES "MEET THE NEW BOSS" IS THE BEST CLICHE IN THE BLOGGER TOOLBOX: If the record of the old Fed regulatory agency is anything to go by, don't expect too much from a new Fed regulatory agency.
ONE MORE CORNELL POST: Since odds are they're going to lose tonight, though this is the perfect year (read: undertalented) for a team like them to go far. Stefan Fatsis argues that the Ivy League does not have to be athletically incompetent. I agree! And I've always been fascinated by the demise of the Ivies as national powers in the revenue sports--I mean they were huge in the first half of the 20th century. My understanding is that they essentially sacrificed athletic legitimacy for brand identity beginning in the 50s. I believe it begins with Penn wanting to keep playing big time football around that time (too lazy to find links at the moment) but was afraid of being blackballed by Harvard, Yale and Princeton and backed off. But really, the Ivies can and should be at least as competitive as Northwestern and Vanderbilt (not a lofty goal, I realize), if not Duke and Stanford. And those of course are all schools who have not sacrificed their academic brand for the sake of athletics. Yes yes, the Ivy presidents probably love their brand more than they love getting to minor bowl games, so this is all moot. Just think it's kind of a shame that, say, Penn plays in one of America's most hallowed football stadiums and nobody really cares anymore.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CALL ME CRAZY, BUT I'M STARTING TO THINK TEA PARTYERS ARE, IN FACT, REPUBLICANS: Poll sez Dems win if there's a Tea Party on the ballot. If your motivation for teabagging or even libertarianing is your hatred of the might be a Republican.
EMBEDDED WITHOUT COMMENT: The Dubya wipes his hand on Bubba video:

Well--maybe one comment: Someday I may find that the fact this person was President of the United States amusing. That day still isn't now.
NOT THAT TAIBBI DOESN'T MAKE SOME POINTS: Here, especially with the coded phrases sports media types use to describe racial characteristics. But really, Cornell is not a plucky team. They blew out their last two opponents! That's not pluck, that's team play. It's hard not to root for them even if they are all entitled kids, especially up against a hyper-entitled team (in terms of reputation and fanbase, not the players themselves) and a Calipari-coached team to boot.
THE KRAKATOA OF FINANCIAL BUBBLES: Is what I assume an exploding China bubble would be like.
CLEARING MY TIGER WOODS TABS: Why ESPN and the Golf Channel did things Tiger's way. Dan Levy breaks down the interview. Stephanie Wei is done with him. Really trying not to care about Tiger Woods at this point. The circus was fantastic in the beginning--every day a new mistress or pornstar or leaked text message--but now we're entering the painfully stage-managed public image rehabilitation, which will inevitable lead to a Tiger victory at some competition with everybody applauding that the guy has triumphed over his nasty bout with bad publicity and is ready to sell Buicks again. And it's just going to be annoying.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

YOU GOT TRON IN MY PORTAL!: Detecting a bit of the Moebius influence in these Portal 2 pics.
I'M SO NOT A DEMOCRAT: Despite my voter registration! Which I changed back when I thought Barry O was a long shot and desperately did not want the presidency to keep changing hands between the two same political families. See where caring about politics gets you? It gets you a whole bunch of celebratory #hcr tweets. Which inspire a whole range of emotions somewhere inbetween eyeroll and facepalm in me. I mean I get the tactical reason to act like the chicken in every insurance company's stewpot bill is a great legislative accomplishment and all, since otherwise people might start thinking about the utter lack of financial reform, which is bad for Democrats in the fall. (They might--but they probably won't. Stupid memory hole.) But not celebrating. You have to be a real Democrat for that and I am some sort of DINO apparently, a prime target for the Democratic equivalent of the Club For Growth. If such an organization actually existed.
NFL OVERTIME REFORM: Is a go. Playoffs only, nobody gets to win if they kick a field goal on their first possession. Incremental change is what the NFL does best. My own personal feelings are: this is just enough change to remove the coin-flip nature of NFL overtime--though they need to expand it to the regular season to make me happy. I don't need the college overtime rules to be happy (since I love ties in football, though college overtime is entertaining in its own right.)
YOU KNOW, I WAS ALWAYS A TRACY QUAN FAN: But this sort of thing should be left back in the nineties where it belongs. Via Hit & Run (that I randomly checked in on today, but am generally not following at this point since they've gone full unironic Tea Party.) I mean--"One of the more appealing American archetypes—despite modern feminism—is the man who will physically protect us." In 2010? What next, contrarianism about political correctness on college campuses? And honestly, most of the luster is off that archetype by now, and it's not a big loss. And "Where has all the testosterone gone?" I think it was spent destroying the economy, Trace.

Monday, March 22, 2010

MAKE OF THIS WHAT YOU WILL: Google China now redirecting to Google Hong Kong. Via Zero Hedge who notices the invisible hand of the market approves. Or disapproves? What does "rip" mean in trader? Anyway, GOOG is up at the moment.

Meaning...Wall Street likes Google taking a stand and shuttling Chinese surfers to the presumably less censored Hong Kong portal? Not sure I understand.

UPDATE: James Fallows comments.

UPDATE UPDATE: And then GOOG finished down. You'll go broke trying to figure out the stock market.
BY THE WAY: I noticed Anh Cao voted himself out of a job. Ah well.
HIPSTERS AS THE LAST ACCEPTABLE FORM OF AMERICAN PREJUDICE: As you mock this gallery of t-shirt wearing hipsters from SXSW, ask yourself, "But wait--if there was a picture posted of me on the Internet, divorced of all context--would I be a hipster too?" Probably! There's a tendency towards that in all of us Internet types I would imagine. I tend to think that there are no actual proud, card-carrying hipsters, because it's pretty much a negative term at this point. As in, "oh (cultural phenomenon) was awesome, until the hipsters got ahold of it." Who wants to be associated with ruining lovely cultural phenomena? I mean do even the sweatiest, black-framed-glasses-wearing Williamsburgians think they're hipsters? Or is it always somebody else?

(Full disclosure: my current pair of glasses are black frames, and could possibly be considered hipster. They...they were the only pair my plan would pay for. I swear!)
HEALTH CARE REFORM PASSES: This is either the greatest accomplishment by the federal government ever and a return to the fabled Camelot of the early 60s except really real this time, or a full-scale government takeover of the health care system with mandated suicide booths on your 50th birthday unless you're an illegal immigrant and then you get free healthcare and free cyborg parts as your fleshy bits wear out. No inbetween! Politics is completely binary, I'm told.

(Look, it's a big giveaway to the insurance companies, more or less. And I really hate these Romulan-esque tactical arguments for it, your "but if we pass this, real reform will be more possible!" sort of things. I mean that might be true but it isn't going to get me excited for this particular bill.)
EARLY MONDAY MORNING RECIPE BLOGGING: Here is my mom's go-to party casserole recipe. It's actually typed on a scrap of paper, so you know it's been battle tested over the years:

You get your rectangular sized casserole dish, lay six boneless chicken breasts in there, and cover it with some broccoli you've blanched briefly. Three packages seems to mean three of those small square Green Giant frozen vegetable square packages--I used a single good sized BJ's bag of frozen, but just use enough to cover the chicken. Next you mix the remaining ingredients (the handwritten addition is "juice of one lemon") aside from the almonds and breadcrumbs (you don't have to buy Pepperidge Fram crumbs, unless you're a CPB investor--and who doesn't think a soup stock is your best investment at this point?) and spoon that over the broccoli. Then sprinkle on the almonds, and then the breadcrumbs. Easy!

There is some debate whether you mix in the cheddar with the mayo and soup and everything, or if you layer it on top with the almonds and breadcrumbs. I did the former and it worked great. My only concern with the latter is maybe the cheddar getting too crusty from being in the oven that long. It also took more like an hour and fifteen to cook. Oh, and I doubled the curry since I like curry. Might add a little garlic next time I make it, since garlic, like bacon, makes everything better.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

JUST WANTED TO GET MYSELF INTO THE GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR "FAROKHMANESH": Wotta shot! And all things considered, I think, not a bad shot in a basketball sense--he was wide open, he's apparently a great three point shooter, UNI still has time to get the ball back from Kansas if he misses, etc. You just don't think a 9 seed should be playing like that versus a 1 seed that also happens to be the first ranked team in the country. But Iowa kids named Farokhmanesh gots no fear!

Resisting all the "gigantic upset" talk, this is a down year and we all know it and whatever happens happens. Georgetown losing to a mediocre MAC team that got hot in their tournament was more shocking.
YOU KNOW WHAT? I LOVE A GOOD IMPLIED CONSPIRACY THEORY: Zero Hedge on the life and mysterious death of Lehman trader Gerard Reilly. Who had his fingers in basically all of Lehman's pies.

Another bit of Lehman flotsam I came across was this article about former Lehman CFO Erin Callan, which introduces (to me) the concept of the glass cliff. Wherein a woman is promoted to a prominent position during times of trouble, and her bosses get praised for being so edgy, and she's left holding the bag when things go wrong. As someone notes in the article, its usually dudes occupying those prominent positions when times are good. (It's in The Guardian though, standard warnings about British newspapers apply.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

EVOLUTION OF A BOGEYMAN: Bill Flanigen asks here (via Radley) why libertarianism is such a bad word for so many on the left these days and really I think it's fairly simple. The most tedious Glenn on the airwaves (Beck) is a self-described libertarian. The most tedious Glenn on the Internet (Reynolds) is a self-described libertarian. These are not the people you want claiming to be on your side. I know they're really not, but at some point you just have to admit defeat. It's time for actual libertarianism to rename itself! Liberty is too nebulous a concept anyway. (Who doesn't like liberty? It's like calling your movement punchandpieism.) Call itself...I dunno...treatmelikeanadultism? Yeah, that'll catch on. All I got at the moment.

(I completely identify with liberaltarianism, by the way, and wish serious libertarians didn't think it was a joke. What's a joke is Republicanism-in-libertarian clothing. Think most Hit & Run posts at the moment.)
HOLY CRAP: An actual typed Philip K. Dick letter reacting to a screening of Blade Runner. Via Barry Ritholtz. Five months before he died. Wherein he says:

What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, BLADE RUNNER is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be.

Considering Blade Runner is still the most influential science fiction movie ever (what would you substitute? Alien? Metropolis?)--he was right! He also says "[m]y life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER." Which is debatable. A Blade Runner-free universe is less rich than a Philip K. Dick-free universe, I think. (Did I get that right? I'm trying to say the collective works of PKD are more important than BR.) He also says " is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible." Yeah. I guess over time it's made it's money back--I helped by buying one of those Voight-Kampff briefcase sets--so he was right on a longer scale. It was more creatively invincible than commercially of course.

(I remember trying to watch Blade Runner back in high school with some friends and we were all like "the heck? This movie is famous?" Then in college I started loving it. You really need a few rewatches to get into it, so if you're a Blade Runner doubter keep than it mind. You need to approach it as a continuing project rather than something you grab off Netflix one stormy night.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

FROM THE "IT'S ABOUT FREAKING TIME" DEPARTMENT: Microsoft to allow non-proprietary USB storage to work with the 360. I guess that's better than nothing, but Sony remains so far ahead of MS on this front (my 60 gb PS3 has been a 260 gb PS3 for years. Since I can install my own hard drive in the PS3 and all.)
THIS KRUGMAN VS ROACH THING: It's interesting, at least. Taking out the baseball bat was probably indelicate phrasing. Not that I have any idea how to parse who is right but Roach might have the better sense of things since China might not have any room to revalue the yuan. At least not in an upwards direction. Maybe they both have good points?
ANH CAO TO SWITCH TO DEMS?: That's the rumor though I can't find any conclusive linkage. Awesome. One of my favorite congressmen! And he needs to be Dem to stay employed in the home of the NFL world champions.
I HONESTLY TRY NOT TO CARE ABOUT THE GOINGS-ON OF CABLE NEWS CLOWNS: Because they're clowns! They're funny, like clowns. They amuse me. Reasonably one should only care about how well they apply greasepaint, or how amusingly gigantic their shoes are, or how consistently they scare small children. So I really don't care that Hannity's charities are traveshamockeries. Especially since it's more sad than amusing, much like that large percentage of his audience that takes him completely seriously.
ON THE EVOLUTION OF COOPERATION (AN OCCASIONAL SERIES, PROBABLY): Paper from PLoS Comp Bio. Wherein cooperation is seen as more of an emergent property in a spatially limited environment for one-celled organisms, explaining why cooperation is so common in communities of teeny-tiny life. Implications for the evolution of we multicellular creatures? Maybe! Though I would embarrass myself by trying to speculate on this topic. (Note that our individual cells are also spatially constrained, genetically identical and cooperate just fine. Idle speculations are less embarrassing in parentheses.)
FUNNY. THAT MUTANT DOESN'T LOOK JEWISH: Attackerman on the possibilities of Sabretooth's status as a member of the tribe. Suspect he's also right that Kitty Pryde would be nutty on Israel issues. Though probably not crazy enough to live with the settlers in occupied territory.

Anyway, I can explain the panel he links to--Sabretooth converted in an attempt to get on Magneto's good side. Where's my No-Prize???

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SPEAKING OF CRINGE-INDUCING: The Tiger Woods-Joslyn James texts. Not for the squeamish. But if you love cheap double entendres you'll have a blast!
I MEAN I LOVE VILLANOVA BASKETBALL: But hearing their squeaky homer announcer do his trademark CATS WIN! CATS WIN! CATS WIN! after an inept overtime win over Robert freaking Morris was teeth-grindingly bad. What a debable. Everyone who had Nova in the Final Four can consider their brackets killed dead.
"SO EVERYBODY'S CHEATING" IS NOT JUST FOR THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE ANYMORE: Barry Ritholtz on the bleeding-gum toothlessness of the Securities and Exchange Commission here and here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CHAIN MAIL SCAMS: Taibbi deconstructs one regarding the SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!! healthcare reform efforts. Noted because Taibbi is in a similar position to me, in thinking the healthcare bill is a pooppile, and yet not enjoying stupid teabagger opposition to it at all.
WITH A GRANT FROM LONG JOHN SILVER'S: The latest frankenfish is a meatier filet. Via Reef Tools. I dunno...I go back and forth about stuff like this. The science seems reasonable enough but I'm still not sure I want something like this in my BK Big Fish.

The transgenic fish we all want, by the way, is this little fella. Think of the aquarium trade, science!
IN SICKNESS AND IN SICKNESS: Don't you hate it when you've been blowing your nose so much the edge of your nostril starts getting dry and flakey? I mean, dude, that's gross. And you're totally unprepared for the sickness as usual (the daily vitamin C did nothing apparently) so you have no Puffs Plus and are stuck using the portable tissue packs you found under the sink and old Popeye's napkins. Yeah.

But! The sickness allows you to test your resolve vis-a-vis your workout routine. I have not skipped a day! That is good, because science has proven while skipping a day here and there won't kill your attempt to form a habit, skipping in the beginning isn't the most helpful thing to do either. I think I'm on Day 17 of the habitual working-out. Science has also proven it takes about 66 days to reach maximum habitualness. I only have 49 days to go!
LEAVING NO (SHORT) DISTANCE UNCOVERED: Usain Bolt to conquer the 300.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


EDIT: Dave responds.
FALLING UPWARDS: Sheer persistence really does pay off in Big Media, it seems like. Well--it has to be the right kind of persistence I guess. You might think--say--Rush Limbaugh's job is easy, but it really is quite a feat to be able to consistently disable the voices in your head that tell you when to not say something offensive or obnoxious. Learn that skill and keep applying it again and again--you're on your way to a big contract from a stupid conglomerate!
PARTLY A PETER GRAVES MEMORIAL MST3K EPISODE: And partly a chance to see if I can get this Youtube share playlist thing right. Here's the episode. Can I embed it?

I can! Enjoy the late Mr Graves as well as the late Mr Van Cleef.
SO MUCH OF ECONNED: Reminds one of old time science fiction where people had discovered secret scientific rules of predicting human behavior. Like when you're given anecdotes about trading firms putting such stock in mathematical formulas designed to extract money from market behavior, which is of course a special case of human behavior. In the genre I believe trying to use those rules usually blew up in people's faces. Who says science fiction doesn't have predictive power?
SLAVES OF THE CANNIBAL ECONOMIST: Here. Title of post not completely related to article but this blogger cannot resist references to Ursula Andress exploitation films. Makes the point that the most important thing to remember about Keynes is that he wasn't dogmatic, unlike actual Keynesians, or anyone else operating out of a particular school. Via Nemo.
NCAA STANDS FOR NO CAVORTING ATHLETICS ASSOCIATION: Doesn't roll off your tongue like the similarly-intended No Fun League, does it? We'll work on that. Anyway, Temple and Cornell are probably the two teams nobody wants to play in the first round of the NCAAs--so let's put 'em in the same jar, shake 'em up and watch 'em fight! It's the basketball version of the most recent Fiesta Bowl. Though the reasoning behind it is probably less sinister (and since the college basketball postseason is infinitely less sinister than the college football postseason it would almost have to be less sinister.) The bracketologists probably just thought the Dunph vs an Ivy League team and Dunph vs a former assistant were pretty good storylines for an opening round game and how much fun to you get to have like that in the first round anyway? So they went with that. Hey--that's what Dunph himself thinks:

“I think this was a planned endeavor by the committee,” Dunphy said at the Liacouris Center. “I think this was a planned matchup. If you had said to me who do you not want to play, I would say Cornell. Steve and I are good friends. There’s just a no-win situation in that.”

Dunphy also said he felt the Owls’ seed “was going to be 4 or 5.

“I thought if we could win today it was going to be 4,” he said.

Well the good news is (if you're a Temple fan) that Dunphy is 1-22 vs former assistants (via Dan Levy.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

JOEY, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A TURKISH PRISON?: Fare thee well, Peter Graves. And thanks for the MST3K episodes.

I imagine it is completely generational whether you think of Airplane! first or Mission: Impossible first when you think of him (the former in my case.) If you think of Biography first I'm not sure who you are.
MASHUP OF THE DAY: Can't recommend Go Home Productions' Virgin O'Riley enough. Do watch the video, it's a slightly longer version and it's a Quadrophenia (the movie) vs Who concert footage vs Madonna video mashup as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

FOR THAT WAS WHAT THE COMICS CHIEFTAINS WANTED, ABOVE ALL ELSE--AN ENDLESS SERIES OF WOMEN IN REFRIGERATORS: It would explain a lot! Here are a few quotes from a recent panel regarding the death of a minor (in terms of age and importance) female character in the Green Arrow universe:

James Robinson: "That decision [was] a controversial and one that I know has been greeted with some displeasure by some people... I'm sorry if it upset people. In all honesty, they wanted to kill Speedy too, and I said no, so give me some credit for that."

Ian Sattler: "I'm happy it upset people because it means that the story had some weight and emotion."

James Robinson is the writer of Lian Harper's death, Ian Sattler is editorial staff. Speedy, by the way, is a woman as well. Robinson, you would think, understands the sheer laziness of killing off female characters to up the ANGST! of male characters (in this case, Roy Harper and Oliver Queen) which is why he's going with the "yes--killing Lian was useless. But at least I saved Mia!" line here. Sattler, on the other hand, seems positively proud of the frigerators status quo. I do hate the "well if people are talking about it, it must be successful" line of editorial thinking and self-justifying. I remember Ron Moore saying something like that about some old Star Trek episode, that people were really invested in it and so the fact that they were really upset by whatever episode it was meant the episode was successful, and people were rewatching it because it moved them. That does not always work, though, Ron. I mean I ended up strongly disliking the final movement of Battlestar Galactica, and it was strongly deflated my interest to ever revisit the series. I still have the DVDs, and I'll buy some merchandise here and there, but it's symbolic of the love I used to have for BSG, which is located in the past at this point. (I'm not watching Caprica at all, for instance.) Anyway--boo on DC editorial for continuing to lean on the laziest crutch in superheroes. I know cape books arise from adolescent male power fantasies, but jeebus, must it ever be so? Well, probably. Women in refrigerators are probably always going to be with us. There's always that next generation of readers who can still be moved by such things, I guess.

Relatedly I was also eye-rolling at the brutal death of Firestorm supporting character/two copies of the X chromosome-holder Gehenna in Blackest Night a few months back. I was inclined to blame Geoff Johns at the time, but who knows? DC editorial has an appetite for lady corpses. And clearly it's the only way to make Firestorm interesting! (Which might be true, but that's more an argument to stop using the character prominently in general, not to murder his supporting cast.)
THE TEN CENT VERSION OF ECONNED: If you don't have time for the whole book, I recommend this post.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

FIREFOX GIVETH, AND FIREFOX TAKETH AWAY: Why does every new Firefox release involve some "upgrade" that I can't imagine anyone actually wanted? And yet generally in any complaint thread about the new feature you'll find people arguing how great whatever the new thing is (or, worse, claiming that the new feature is just so advanced that once you get used to it you'll wonder how you ever got along the old way--thanks for assuming I don't know what I actually want there, sparky) so clearly somebody wants the changes they keep foisting on us.

For example--Firefox 3.6. Now I am at least partially anal retentive. I like my tabs in a certain order. Message board, Blogger, message board, politics blog, everything else. Or message board, politics blogs, shopping sites. (And these orders depend on what computer I am using to "surf the web" as the kids say. I am Rain Man on the Internet.) And I like tabs to open all the way on the right so my tab order is not disturbed. Firefox 3.6 forces tabs to open to the immediate right of whatever tab you've opened a link in and shifts all your other tabs to the right. Outrageous! Who wanted this? Not anyone who values an orderly tabbing experience, that's for sure! So if this is one of your annoyances--it might be, I don't know--the steps noted here will rectify it simply and easily. Tab how you like--not like how The Man says you must tab! Dude, I was using Firefox before it was cool. They've totally sold out now. Totally.

Friday, March 12, 2010

THE WONDERS OF CHEAP GENOMICS: Family of four (with two children with rare genetic diseases) have their genomes sequenced. Mutant genes found! Or nearly found--"Family-based genome analysis enabled us to narrow the candidate genes for both of these Mendelian disorders to only four." Fascinating stuff. Soon we'll all get ourselves sequenced ritually, on our 13th birthday or somesuch. And then THE GUVMINT WILL WANT IT ALL!!! Then we'll exercise our 2nd Amendment rights. Darn tootin. Or enact the Thirty-third Amendment where we all have an inalienable right to the privacy of our genetic material. Unless we want to sell our genetic material. Which will be no problem whatsover--the future is a libertarian utopia! And free markets always produce the bestest outcomes. As any American citizen living in 2010 just knows, deep in their bones.
"NO SALESMEN AT THIS ENTRANCE." "BUT I'M NOT A SALESMAN! I'M THE CHUBBY BLUE LINE!": Goodbye, Merlin Olsen. I suspect the number of people who knew you best from Mitchell are a small, but passionate minority.
YOUR "THE HEADLINE WRITER IS ENJOYING HIS OR HER WORK" HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo. Via somebody I steal links from way too much.
YAKUZA 3 EARLY THOUGHTS: I can sort of see why Sega thinks this series is a hard sell to American audiences--there is a ton of plot to get through in the beginning. And then your first actions before you get to the fighting tutorial (which is fun!) involve wandering around your fictional section of Tokyo buying ice cream for your little sidekick and visiting people from the previous games (which I have not played.) It's not exactly an open world game either--you can't immediately start pitching people down the sidewalk a la Saints Row 2. Because Kiryu Kazuma is an honorable dude! Unlike a GTA or Saints Row protagonist. (Also unlike a Fukasaku gangster.) He doesn't start fights. People start fights with him. To their regret.

So if you don't pay attention to video games you have not heard that Sega cut some stuff out of the game. Or that in general it seems to be a rushed release, being dumped on the marketplace at the same time as Final Fantasy XIII and God of War III (both blockbusters) and thus not being given a great chance to succeed. The conspiracy theory I've heard (from a fellow DVDVR poster here) is that Atlus--who are generally thought to be the best localizer of Japanese video games for the niche American audience--wanted to make a bid for the license, and told Sega headquarters in Japan that very thing. Sega of America, noticing that the Yakuza series could be Sega's best remaining franchise, has a bit of a panic attack (since they've been publicly dithering over whether to release it in the US at all) and begs for the license back, since if they give up Yakuza 3 maybe they lose the rights to future installments in the franchise. Corporate parent Sega says fine, but you guys have a limited amount of time to get this thing out, otherwise we give it to Atlus. So Sega of America rushes it out and we have them to blame foremost for getting a truncated version and poor release timing. And then we can blame Sega HQ for not giving it to Atlus in the first place.

It's a conspiracy theory! It may not make perfect sense. But like other conspiracy theories it expresses the desires of people who believe in it, namely that Atlus would have been the perfect choice for a game as Japanese as this. That's what they do--they have their passionate niche of Japanophiles that they serve and they serve them well. It may have even worked out the same way sales-wise, Atlus has previously gotten people to buy many copies of the also-veddy-veddy-Japanese Persona series. Plus we definitely would have gotten a cool collector's edition out of them. Maybe some Yakuza 3-branded cigarettes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

WELL I DID HAVE A LINK TO THE WASHINGTON INDEPENDENT BLOG THERE ON THE RIGHT: But I'm so incensed by Dave Weigel pointing out conservative media types and tea partiers (are they the same category?) embarrassing themselves I'm delinking them!

Alternatively this blogroll gadget is for some reason stripping the blog part of the URL and leaving it as a link to the main Independent site, no matter how many times I remove it from the blogroll and re-add it. So to keep my blogroll pure I'm just cutting it out. What the hey, Blogger? Do you not want me to know when Spencer Ackerman is making fun of the Cheneys again? Don't make me have to HTML it myself. Because--you know--I can't actually do that. Poor atrophied computer skillz....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NOT TO TURN THIS BLOG INTO A SERIES OF LINKS TO NAKED CAPITALISM: But Yves is on fire here. It's re: the appreciations of Geithner that were noted here yesterday. Sample:

The stock market has rallied over 60% from its early March lows, enabling the wounded banks to sell new equity to the public and avoid further contentious taxpayer-funded rescue measures. But the justification for the soft glove treatment of the banking classes, that what was good for them would prove to be good for everyone else, has proven to be wildly false. When the Dow levitated over 10,000, mainstream news outlets celebrated the event, with nary a mention of the continued train wreck in the real economy. As Matt Taibbi observed, “the dichotomy between the economic health of ordinary people and the traditional ‘market indicators’ is not merely a non-story, it is a sort of taboo — unmentionable in major news coverage.”

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

BIG TEN EXPANSION TEA LEAVES: Are saying Rutgers at the moment. As a Rutgers fan and a Big East fan, if the Big Ten takes any Big East school I would hope it would be Rutgers. The football program would continue to be able to build its national prominence, and the basketball program (men's I mean) can continue to be terrible and nobody will care. Meanwhile the Big East can replace a terrible basketball school with a good one like Memphis and maybe get them to improve football too. It would insure the continued survival of the nation's best basketball conference and that's the important thing for me. (Also I'm glad these stupid "Texas to the Big Ten!!!" rumors are dying down. That whole thing was some of the more annoying meaningless Internet sports speculating I can think of.)
ABOUT A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH ECONNED: And I think I really can recommend it at this point. It's not just a collection of Yves's blogging if that's what you were worried about. There's history here, of how financial economics started to get quantitative (haven't gotten to her conclusions about the ultimate effect of trying to get all physicist-like on finance, though I suspect she thinks they have done more harm than good thus far. I agree!) In the early portions she's already criticized Krugman and Friedman. And I suspect she has a nuanced appreciation of Keynes, unlike--say--that funny but probably unfair Keynes vs Hayek battle rap that came out a few months ago. Four out of five stars on the Amazon scale (four because it really takes a lot for non-fiction to impress me to OMGness. Plus I haven't finished it yet.)

By the way, have you noticed that the popular press has decided it's time we talked about how unappreciated poor Tim Geithner is? When The New Yorker and The Atlantic--those two great middlebrow house organs--pick roughly the same time to run their Geithner appreciations you tend to think something is up. Geithner did his job, America! Our cultural referees have spoken. Pay no attention to those pesky unemployment numbers. Or the utter lack of any kind of financial reform.

Also noted: a glowing appreciation of the CEO of BlackRock. Back to business as usual!

Monday, March 08, 2010

RANDOM THOUGHT AFTER TOURING A ZEBRAFISH LAB: I wonder if Sea Monkeys would make good model organisms...

I can just see the paper in Nature: "The Sea Monkey Genome Project." Slotman J. as first author. And curiously only author. Wait--the journal is Naturre? Two Rs? Some sort of Taiwanese bootleg? Well great.
BONOBOS (THE CONTINUING STORY): Of which this appears to be the first part. I never mentioned bonobos on this blog before? Huh. Let's change that! Bonobos opt for altruism. Via Yves. Given food they'll opt to unlock their fellows and share it with them. OMG what happened to red in tooth and claw??? (It was a poem--that's what happened to it.)

Remember, everyone, bonobos and chimps are equally related to our species. Science has removed a lot of the emotional value of devils and angels and left nothing to replace it with in our internal narratives. Why not think of one's self as a being forever caught between warlike chimpdom and peace-loving (and just loving, in the carnal sense) bonobo-ness? They are the better primates of our nature. Yes--this is totally the religion I'm working on. Jack Chick-style tracts to follow. ("I'm sorry, Steve, but without bonobos--your family is doomed.")

Noted with one comment: bonobo does not exist in the Blogger autocorrect dictionary. This is what happens when you can't get your species in Hollywood.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

AN AMAZON ERROR IN YOUR FAVOR: If any of the Great Comics Omnibus Sale of 2010 items actually ship. But they probably won't--it's an Amazon error and it's going to be corrected and I will not get that Golden Age Marvel hardcover for eight dollars in change. Hey, let's all start Twitter accounts and #amazonfail the crap out of them! My outrage at not being able to profit from Amazon's mistakes is palpable.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

THE PHRASE "YOU KNOW" UTTERED IN A SIGNIFICANT QUANTITY:  What are verbal tics exhibited by Slotman during admissions interviews, Alex?

I think I may have thrown in a few "and stuffs" as well. To my eternal embarrassment.

Friday, March 05, 2010

THE CINCINNATI SKYLINE: Is delicious! And a much milder taste than when I've tried to make it at home (the recipe seems to involve half my spice rack, so I may be overseasoning.) Didn't finish my pasta though--when you combine the spaghetti with the bag of oyster crackers they give you it turns into a carbohydrate time bomb. Which is particularly deadly to Atkins dieters.

Really wanted to try this place. Or this place, which offers a six-way: pasta, chili, beans, onions, cheese, and for the coup de grace: chopped garlic! Wasn't in walking range of my hotel though, and my minders seemed fairly ambivalent about the local chili in general so there was no way to get there. But if ever I am in Cincinnati again it will be mine.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I FLEW ON AN AIRPLANE TODAY: If I was The Mustache of Understanding (Tom Friedman; as opposed to Mustache, The Destroyer of Worlds, John Bolton) I would write a whole column about how Chinese airports are leaving our primitive airports in the dust. But sadly my upper lip remains hairless, and I have no enhanced knowledge (or pure destructive power.) I can only say that it's really chintzy for the Philly airport to not have free wireless. I bet Jinan's got free wireless! (Randomly googled Chinese city is random.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

UPDATES IN DEAD TREE FUNNIES (PHILADELPHIA EDITION): The Inky has replaced Rick Detorie's One Big Happy with a brand new effort from political cartoonists Steve Kelly and Jeff Parker, Dustin. Dustin seems to be getting a bit of a national rollout because it's OMG TOPICAL--about a college graduate going back home to live with his parents (a situation not wholly unfamiliar to me, in the interests of full disclosure.) Of course the yuks thus far seem to be based on Dustin's lack of ambition (the dad in the strip is prominently displaying want ads in the promotional material) which, um, does not seem to accord with the facts on the ground for "boomerang" children. Or for anyone else currently unemployed!

Anyway, good on the Inquirer for trying something new (if predictable thus far) but did they have to get rid of One Big Happy to do it? It really was one of the better strips in their comics section, sort of a realist take on Lucy Van Pelt (all the Peanuts kids were incredibly self-aware; Detorie's Ruthie has the intelligence and wisdom of a Peanuts kids, but more of the actual reactions of a six-year-old.) Meanwhile Hagar and Beetle Bailey stagger on. The truly mean-spirited Sherman's Lagoon remains. (Don't pick on Blondie, though, people, I'm convinced it's the best of the existing very very old comics strips. Dilbert before there was Dilbert.) Ziggy and Dennis The Menace: still there! And if you need to bring a bucket of irony to enjoy any strip it probably isn't worth keeping around. I hate to say it but that applies to Family Circus too. So please, Inquirer: bring back One Big Happy. You have a lot more chaff you could cut before axing Ruthie and Joe and Homework Hotline Lady.

(Looking over the One Big Happy Wikipedia page it seems it was the only Creators Syndicate strip the Inky had, and Dustin is from King Features, which they have a lot of, so maybe there's corporate shenanigans involved here.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

THE GENE-CULTURE EVOLUTIONARY APPARATUS: Little NYT article suggesting culture plays a role in human evolution. Which is sort of well, of course. How could it not? It's a product of evolution itself! But it's not really true until somebody writes a paper about it.
MITTMENTUM STAGGERS FORWARD: Or at least moves in some direction--possibly swaying side to side. And then Spencer Ackerman reads his book so you don't have to.

“[T]here can be no rational denial of the reality that America is a decidedly good nation,” writes Romney, or perhaps a third grader. “Therefore, it is good for America to be strong.”
That's in there! It's called "No Apology"! So if you were the sort of Obama voter who was voting to sort of apologize to the rest of the world for the previous 8 years...yeah. This probably isn't for you. Mitt is such a transparently conservative focus grouped individual. A walking font of Reaganite shibboleths that have been polished down to be as generic and broadly-appealing as possible. With a power executive haircut. And he's their best chance in 2012!

Look, the bloom is long off the rose between me and Barry O. Nobody can be plugged into the finance blogosphere and stay Obot. But as long as the Republicans remain not just incompetent, but aggressively stupid, I will have to continue supporting the Indonesian. I mean--look at this part:

At one point in the text, Romney is forced to concede that the Council on Foreign Relations wrote that until at least 2030 there is “no evidence to support the notion that China will become a peer military competitor of the United States.” He waves away that inconvenient fact:
On the other hand, Afghanistan fighters were certainly not a peer military with the Soviet Union, yet they defeated the Soviets — not globally of course, but certainly in Afghanistan.
One could conclude from this analogy that the lesson for the U.S., then, is not to invade and occupy China.
I agree! Thanks, Mitt!
THEY'RE ALIENS (AND PREDATORS): And they're playing CHEEESSS!! Picture of the day in other words.

Via here, via Destructoid. It's the spinoff media franchise that cannot be killed! Yes, when the sun cools and our species is safe in their colony ships, heading for the new star, there will still be Aliens vs Predator merchandise. Probably.

Monday, March 01, 2010

YOU CANNA CHANGE THE LAWS OF BIOLOGY: What I got out of this neat little article (concerning a panel divided between physicists working on time, and other researchers taking biological approaches to investigating time) is that while physicists continue to debate the exact nature of time, and what direction it goes in, or if it has a direction, biologists don't even question that time goes one way. Evolution doesn't work without time's arrow! And evolution "has also produced brains that seem extremely adept at navigating a world in which time's arrow is real." Well--time's arrow is definitely real around here. (I've been wounded by it myself.) It may not be true everywhere, would be a physicist's rejoinder I would guess