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April 10, 2010

comic book cartography

I'm on the record for having a childhood fascination for the secret hideout and the schematic/cutaways thereof, and now I find that I am not alone, as this website collects and curates the very examples that set me on this lonely road.  Jack Kirby's Asgard, Jim Starlin's Titan — all excellent examples of how comic book creators could load up exposition into one nerdish panel or splash.

It's gratifying, in a way, to discover how many of one's secret boyhood enthusiasms are actually widely held.

I saw the link on Boing Boing, which means that the site will soon crash with Happy Mutant traffic.  But I wanted to voice my appreciation.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:54 AM

April 9, 2010

good morning 4.9.10

So I had this fabulous dream that wended it way into ultimately me waking up with the Best Post Ever that I leaped out of bed and immediately typed up and hit post and yea it was the Best Post Ever.  Unfortunately, that was where the dream ended, and the leaping and typing was not to be because the little dog needed walking and above all the actual Best Post Ever was not information that was actually included in the dream.

This is very sad.  I remember it being so good.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:54 AM

April 8, 2010

massey energy co.

Further to the coal mining accident, it's important to note that Massey Energy Co., the owner of the mine, is big in the mountaintop removal business, where, instead of digging a mine, the whole top of the mountain is shoved into the valleys next to it.  Needless to say, this is pretty ecologically devastating, and the EPA is tightening regulations governing this.  But Massey tends towards the bad-guy, as examined by this NYT feature.

And the thing that hurts my heart the worst is the way that the non-union miners that work for Massey will defend Massey viciously regardless of Massey's disregard for their safety.  (See the above NYT story, and this rather nauseating footage of Massey thugs busting up a picnic.  True, it's a job, and it's the only job in town in a lot of places, and only natural that the employers would stick up for the employer.  But it's disturbing no matter how you look at it, as West Virginians fight for their right to die for Massey profits.

Even more nauseating will be when a week or two passes and Massey uses the Montcoal disaster as an argument for more mountaintop mining.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:25 PM

digital economy bill

While the Appeals Court decision against net neutrality seems bad, let's hop the puddle and find that the decision is like a little tiny mosquito when compared to the Digital Economy Bill that just passed the UK's House of Commons.  It's pretty much a boulder rolling down a mountain as far as it's chances of being enacted go, and it's one of those anti-copying travesties that the entertainment industry has been so feverishly lobbying for.  The centerpiece of the legislation is automatic disconnection from your ISP upon allegation of file-sharing:
These innocents will have no idea their teenage children, neighbours, or even someone parked outside their house, has been slurping their WiFi and downloading the latest Hollywood movies and Top 40 albums.  In the past the lawyers had to go after the infringers, with actual proof.  Remember being innocent until proven guilty?  That’s out now.  Now, the holder of the internet account (Mum, Dad, Granny and the small business that can’t afford the legal fees) will be held to account for what happens over their connection.

Oh, there's other good stuff in there too, like record-keeping requirements which would basically eliminate free wi-fi forever.  It's a giveaway to the content industry that's only going to make digital piracy get smarter and harder to police, while record label lawyers try to make examples of the hapless.  It's a bad law, and it's coming here next unless opposition is mobilized.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:29 AM

montcoal mine disaster

Not too much to say on this other than it sucks.  Yeah, I was born in West Virginia, and it's where my family is from on both sides.  None of them were miners, to my knowledge, but mining is no mystery to anyone and it's a dangerous occupation.  Other than the headlines, all you need to know is in this op-ed by Denise Giardina:
We knew then, and know now, that we are a national sacrifice area.  We mine coal despite the danger to miners, the damage to the environment and the monomaniacal control of an industry that keeps economic diversity from flourishing here.  We do it because America says it needs the coal we provide.

West Virginians get little thanks in return.  Our miners have historically received little protection, and our politicians remain subservient to Big Coal.  Meanwhile, West Virginia is either ignored by the rest of the nation or is the butt of jokes about ignorant hillbillies.

I would also add that while West Virginia is a proud and maligned state, it is also stubbornly impoverished and sometimes embraces its flaws out of spite, like it doesn't want your damn help anyway because Mountaineers can take care of their damn selves.  West Virginia leads with its chin.  But I say this as someone whose parents got him out of West Virginia before he turned eight.

But those dead miners surely deserved better than this.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:04 AM

April 7, 2010

ted leo in the voice

This is a link to an interview with Ted Leo concerning the lifestyle of the indie rock star.  Ted is ten kinds of awesome   kind of like what the Beatles would sound like if they played four-piece live 250 nights a year and picked up Billy Bragg as a lyricist.  You probably already are a fan.  But you will still be edified by the interview because you will finally find that answer to the question, "What if my band had actually made it, what would my life be like now?"
... at the level that I'm at, it's like this weird middle-class of musicians.  So when you're selling, say, a relatively small number--less than 5,000 or something--you're not living your life around your music at that point.  And I can say that from experience, because I spent the first 15 years of my music-playing life doing much less than that.  But it starts to become this potentially self-sustainable thing when you get into the next bracket, which is a sales bracket in which you're not like putting money in the bank, you're not buying new cars or houses or anything, but you're covering the expenses of doing what you do.  So it becomes a non-losing proposition at that point, which opens up the door for the possibility of it becoming an actual viable job and life.

See?  It's exactly as sexy as you thought.

Leo also talks about karaoke in way that makes me think for the first time that it might be fun.  So there's also that.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:07 PM

va's confederate history month

The practice of declaring Confederate History Months — yes, that is vile.  I don't see a problem in research or even celebration of an aspect of cultural history, as long as the consequences (i.e., public condemnation, people not liking you, etc.) are welcomed with big open slave-owning secessionist arms.  Which is why it is a business that states (and towns and counties and other governmental organizations) cannot be getting into.  There may well be a portion of your state that would like to remember old Johnny Reb and the lives lived by ancestors, but there is another portion of your state that is actually pretty fuckin' happy that the North won.  Not that these people should be protected from being offended, but rather the government that they are constituents of should not be blithely offending them.

Straw man response: "Well, doesn't Black History Month offend racists?  Should governments be in the business of offending racists?"  Yes they should.  And if straw man wants to rephrase that with something less cut and dry, like gay rights or women's lib, then the answer is still yes, because these phenomena do not hark back to a day when ethnic minorities/LGBT/girls subjugated all the white men of the world.  And actually, they are no less cut and dry.

I don't know why I'm wasting time with a brief but measured defense because it is just a stunt — being a rising star Republican these days (like VA Gov. Bob McDonnell) means deliberate assholery to induce the knuckle-dragging right that you are legit.

But do remember that any look back at the history of the Confederacy ends with defeat and then surrender.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:57 AM

send in your census form

I just dropped the old census form in the mailbox.  I debated whether I should do it — I had heard that the government would use it to track me and eventually send soldiers in a black helicopter with guns in their hands and inappropriate touching in their hearts!  And something about taxes being illegal.

But in the end I did, mostly because of this comforting video of Karl Rove telling me too.  Something about how the census apportions representation through congressional district and serves other actuarial functions.  It's certainly not the most outrageous lie out of Karl's lying mouth, but it's a good one.

It just makes you wonder what happened to Karl to make him convert into another Big Gummint liberal.  I hope it doesn't hurt his standing on the right at all.  (Not because I like him or anything, for nostalgia's sake.)

Please be gentle with me, Black Helicopter Rape-Os.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:12 AM

April 6, 2010

good morning 4.6.10

OMG Easter Dinner with the wife's family turned into 48 hours without Internet, a bunch of those hours spent under a car.  Not trapped under a car, but use your imagination.

The good news: forty-eight hours without constant information and social media left me feeling fresher and more energetic, and I think I lost seven pounds.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:31 AM