Sunday, July 31, 2011

120 Minutes To Freedom

120 Minutes To Freedom

Forget 40oz, when you're searching for that perfect escape to freedom you probably should look to something that comes in at 18% alcohol by volume. I don't mean the hard liquor either. What I'm looking to is Dogfish Head's thrice annual release of 120 Minute IPA.

When it comes to Dogfish Head, you have many options in the number of minutes of your IPA. Both 60 and 90 is out there, but it's the 120 Minute IPA that will get you where you need to go.

If you're familiar with the now canceled Discovery Channel show Brew Masters, you will know that Dogfish Head's founder Sam Calagione will tell you that beer is simple stuff. Just mix in water, hops, malt and yeast... In the case of 120 minute IPA, you gotta add a lot of those things to make it a big and bold high gravity beer.

The 120 also represents the IBU's that you'll get out of this beer. For those of you who aren't beer snobs, IBU means international bitterness units. So it's the measurement of how bitter something is. The higher the IBU, generally the higher the bitterness is. So if you're after that hoppy taste in beer, you generally want to see that number up there.

Though I say generally a higher IBU means a higher bitterness to the beer, but in the case of this beer you'll be surprised to know that it's really not that bitter. In fact, it's actually really sweet. If you've ever had Russian River's Pliny the Younger or Brewdog Tokyo you'll see that the higher the alcohol by volume, you'll most likely have a sweeter tasting beer.

The reason for this sweeter taste even though you have a massive amount of IBU's is because when your goal is to reach a high alcohol content like this you will end up with a lot more unfermentable sugars that will go on to create a sweeter beer. In the case of 120 Minute IPA, you're looking at around an 18% ABV. This has pushed Dogfish Head to advise folks NOT to finish a whole bottle by themselves.

For one thing, with how sweet it is you wont even realize how much alcohol you have consumed. And for another thing, that's

So the question now remains on how does this beer taste? Well, sweet for one thing. Which is really odd when you're drinking an Imperial IPA. When you're taking a swig of it, you're sort of expecting those hoppy characteristics. You want to get that bitterness that the 120 IBU advertises but you really don't. That's not to say it's a bad thing. You should just realize that this isn't going to be a hopheads hop bomb.

You'll definitely get a flavor full of the citrus that you come to expect when drinking an IPA. In fact, you'll probably taste all those flavors that you would get in an IPA, but it's just masked by a large punch of sweetness in your face.

The nice thing about this beer is that you can lay it down and cellar it. Yeah, that may sound a bit odd to treat beer like wine and cellar it, especially when you have adverts from Coors and Bud telling you the born on date and how fresh and cold to drink it. But when it comes to higher abv beers, you can lay them down and over time they'll develop a lot of different characteristics.

In the situation with IPA's, you're automatically going to see the hop notes take a backseat and mellow out. That's normal.

While you'll have your chance to get some 120 minute IPA today from 38 Degrees in Alhambra, Ca, Yesterday The Far Bar in Little Tokyo just tapped their keg with very little hype behind it during their IPA weekend.

It really reminded me of the Pliny the Younger situation. All over town places like Verdugo Bar and Surly Goat were making big events out of the tapping of that monster IPA and creating lines for it that were a good hour or more long. All the while places like Father's Office didn't mention anything about it and just tapped it.

Even better, they gave out a bigger pour. A full 8oz per pour where the 38 Degree release will be 5oz pours. Apparently this wasn't well known as they are reporting that they had some left for Day 2 of the IPA festival.

For my money, if you're a hophead looking for that dare of bitterness to your mouth, I would go with Stone's Ruination IPA. It clocks in at around 100 IBU's and you are going to know it's 100 IBU's when you drink it. Other viable options would be Ballast Point's Sculpin or Bootleggers Brewery Knuckle Sandwich

That's not to say 120 Minute IPA is bad at all, It really isn't. It's just a different beast altogether which you should still check off your bucket list of beers to try. You'll get a slap across your face of sweetness and not hoppiness.

Over all, it's well worth trying just to say you tried it. Also to realize how sweet it really is even though it has those high IBU levels. That in itself will surprise you. To be perfectly honest, I would buy a couple of these bottles if I saw them on the shelf. It may not be an everyday drink, but it cellars well and is great to show off a vastly different

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How To Be A Better Woman

How To Be A Better Woman

So I saw this on the internet and I figured it should be highlighted and talked about, cause, I mean, it's all about how women can be women...

Remember, that this isn't satire.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that this is completely sexist. I have news for you, it's written by a woman so it clearly can't be sexist. Duh! That's not to say that it does nothing more than reinforce terrible gender stereotypes and thus should be mocked. Which is where this blog steps in.

First off, I like how they say "Any female readers", when it could have easily said "Our female readers". It's as if they're not sure they actually have any female readers at all.

Though, I guess if anyone knows how to be a woman, it is an actual woman, right? I guess it's only fitting that only a man can tell you how to be a man. Want to know? Here's how to be a man..

-be an incurious bloody minded shit
-contribute to rape culture
-play video games
-disdain art
-disdain anything that isn't profitable or immediately pleasurable for you right now
-hurt everything weaker than you

Don't you know, man. There'd be no more wars if all penises were cut off!! ARGRH! Though such statement goes against the old testament. But you probably shouldn't question someone's religion too much.

I've often heard the classic begrudging moans of a boyfriend at the market or CVS saying shit like "Fuck, buying my girlfriend tampons is soooooo embarrassing!" before. Which has also been carried over into television and films plenty of times and I still don't get what the big deal is?

Is it because vagina's are disgusting if they're not completely wrapped around a dick? How dare your girlfriend ask you to do something that causes you to be mildly inconvenienced. But then again, buying tampons? Pfft, Clearly you're just not man enough to knock her up on the regular.

Or maybe your girlfriend is just too damn fat. Since, you know, if she were skinny enough she wouldn't be menstruating at all. Even if it's just hormones response related to very low body fat that causes the menses to stop. Athletes get it very often.

But seriously, the ultimate guy thing to do is to be in a relationship with a woman where she clearly does everything for you while you do nothing for her. Just remember, if you do a thing for the woman, you are a whipped pussy. Way to show who's wearing the pants in the relationship.

But even after all that, I still don't get the fucking frozen bread thing. It's clear that whoever wrote that knew a girl who put bread in the freezer and so now the dude thinks all women do that.

I'm not sure I get it. Putting bread in the freezer all of the sudden makes you lose your balls? I'm so very confused on this one. Hey, why don't you just freeze berries and chunks of fruit and eat them during the summer time.

Putting bread in the freezer signifies that you have other foods to supplement bread long enough for it to go stale. Which clearly implies an excessive level of personal income. How about you eat shit, you fucking bread-havers!

You could go to a local bakery and ask them if you can have unsold bread at the end of the day. If you say you'll use it to feed ducks or pigeons or something not selfish, they'll often just give it to you. Then you get awesome bakery bread instead of really shitty supermarket bread that has who knows how much chemicals in it and is typically way more in cost.

Then you get on to the final aspect that is.. mind boggling. Quirkiness. What the fuck? Oh man, if you want to get on the fast track to being quirky, be scared of armadillos... but not really, tee hee!.

Quirky defined should be someone like Zooey up there. Isn't she so quirky? Is what a large amount of people would say if you took a survey of them. Because really, isn't she? In fact, I think that is a pretty good rule. To be a better woman you need to be like Zooey Deschanel. That is to say you should sing, make cotton commercials and be in a show that will last less than a season.

You know what would really cement yourself in the halls of quirky history. You could combine a couple of the things on this post. Perhaps you could be scared of frozen bread. Now isn't that the cutest thing you ever heard of? Awwwwwwww.

This whole article is based on one really shitty piece done by some nobody woman who probably hates herself. No, I'm pretty clear she does. Or maybe I just don't understand. Could be that it's just one of the long list of things that men don't understand. Take for example the things straight males don't understand about lesbians.

When it comes down to it, this just ends up being a case of "We have a page to fill, please write something politically incorrect with tits for a nice writers fee"

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Postal Service

The Postal Service

The other day I heard the news that the USPS is planning to shut down over 3600 post offices due to the ever growing budget short fall. In fact, the USPS really has had the worse of it, losing around 8 billion dollars every year. Really pretty sad and scary when you think about it. Even worse when you realize that it has been as far back as Nixon that they cut all the tax payer funding from the post services.

At least this would be a good time to pick up some stock in either FedEx or UPS, because I see nothing but good things to come for both of those carriers when they'll be able to cover areas that no longer have a post office presence other than buying stamps from the local walmart.

You can see the list of the post offices in California that are being targeted to close HERE

With this news I have no problem in just throwing it out there that if you go to a post office and fill out a change of address form, they'll give you a moving packet with coupons for best buy and Lowes as well as other shit. It's pretty much the back scratching of corporations to the post office. But it does make you wonder. Why yes, I lost my home to foreclosure and I'm moving to an apartment - Better call the geek squad.

Over all, this change really will only effect the rural areas so who really gives a fuck if those people don't get their light and phone bills on time and services are cut off for them, right?

I do have one thing to register a complaint about. It's this notion that the internet killed the post office. That for some reason people stopped using stamps to send a letter the moment they got the ability to send an e-mail. You might as well blame the phone for killing the written letter. I know for certain that the amount of hand written letters before e-mail was low. But even now I still write just as much stamped letters as before.

Yeah, you pay your bills online now, stealing those postal stamp sells from the post office. But on the flip side, you have e-commerce that all use a higher costing rate for packages that you order online. E-bay, Amazon and e-commerce as a whole are all there to make up for the lack of a 32 cent stamp. So you really can't blame e-mail for the downfall of the post office. You can blame the post office for its own incompetence.

Take for example the lack of quality in their work. I don't get mail on at least 2 days of the week that I normally should. This is not because I don't have mail, but it's because the postal worker felt the need to cut down their route by just kicking the can down the road a day or two. This may save them some time, but it also means that I can't rely on the post office for prompt delivery and I turn to someone else.

It seems that they want to make this a cross the board change as they have suggested that post offices will probably cut off Saturday postal service. Way to limit yourself some more and make sure folks don't depend on you.

I can't say I'm surprised that the post office gets such a bad rep. They're doing it to themselves.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Doctor Who Season 6 Part 2

Doctor Who Season 6 Part 2

Doctor Who will be back on the air in late August with an episode enthusiastically entitled "Let's Kill Hitler!" In fact, here's a little trailer for the upcoming second half of the season:

Okay, so I'm going to guess that the eye patch on River just led to way more questions than answers. In fact, there's a lot of questions brought up by that whole teaser reel. At the very least, in the event that you were worried that your favorite red headed companion is leaving, fear not. Karen Gilan was recently confirmed for Series 7 as well as Matt Smith, who stayed in the same hotel as I during comic con.

I have to say though, it's a little disappointing to see the Angels getting dragged out again. The great thing about them was that they were a one-off villain who was creepy as fuck. The next two episodes that they appeared in sort of reinvented them in a strange way. So it'll be interesting to see how they work with them this time.

And if it wasn't clear in the teaser, this next photo should show that Matt Smith's Doctor is getting a new ouotfit consisting of a light blue version of the shirt he usually wears and a dark green overcoat instead of a tweed jacket. Seems like he'll be switching back and forth from it because he has it in Let's Kill Hitler and the first part of the finale where he goes to meet Craig.

And you should be happy to know that Smith will be wearing his stetson with the green coat in a few episodes. That should appease the masses. And if that wasn't enough, here's a couple of write ups about the remaining season episodes. here's what you have to look forward to.

  • Episode 8: Let's Kill Hitler
  • Written by Steven Moffat

The gang's all back! The Doctor, Amy, River and Rory return in what promises to be an action-packed belter of an adventure. So far the following details have emerged:

'In the desperate search for Melody Pond, the TARDIS crash lands in 1930s Berlin, bringing the Doctor face to face with the greatest war criminal in the Universe. And Hitler. The Doctor must teach his adversaries that time travel has responsibilities - and in so doing, learns a harsh lesson in the cruellest warfare of all.'

We also know it features Albert Welling as Hitler and is directed by Richard Senior, previously at the helm for Time and Space plus the Doctor Who pre-title sequence for this year's NTA awards.

  • Episode 9: Night Terrors
  • Written by Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss has previously written spooky episodes including The Unquiet Dead and The Idiot's Lantern, but he promises that Night Terrors features some of the scariest moments he's ever dreamt up! The adventure has a modern day setting and features a little boy who has a fear of something... Can the Doctor help him?

  • Episode 10: The Girl Who Waited
  • Written by Tom MacRae

Tom MacRae's previous credits include The Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel plus the critically acclaimed The Crash of the Elysium. This is his first television adventure for the Eleventh Doctor and it's directed by Nick Hurran who was recently at the helm for the updated version of the cult classic, The Prisoner.

  • Episode 11: The God Complex
  • Written by Toby Whithouse

We know the adventure is set in a hotel and features an alien called Gibbis played by David Walliams. Again, the episode is directed by Nick Hurran and as writer Toby Whithouse was behind School Reunion and The Vampires of Venice, we know we've got something special to look forward to!

  • Episode 12
  • Written by Gareth Roberts

Craig Owens is back! The popular character from last year's The Lodger returns and judging from the trailer for eps 8-13 he's getting closer than ever to the Doctor! The adventure is written by Gareth Roberts whose credits include Attack of the Graske, The Unicorn and the Wasp and, of course, The Lodger.

  • Episode 13
  • Written by Steven Moffat

The big finale! This one remains shrouded in mystery but Karen Gillan has promised us that the series will contain 'possibly the biggest twist so far'... Is it possible that this is the adventure that delivers it? Steven Moffat penned last year's incredible finale but it's probable that this adventure will conclude the series with a bigger bang than ever!

There's also this scene from The God Complex (below in Youtube).

So as you can see, Doctor Who is just a stones throw away and I'm excited as hell about it returning.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Amy Winehouse, 27, Found Dead at her London Flat

Amy Winehouse, 27, Found Dead at her London Flat

I was away but you know, I thought this was some important information you should be aware of...
A large explosion has hit near government headquarters in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

At least one person was killed in the city centre blast, national broadcaster NRK reports.

The offices of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg were damaged extensively but a government spokeswoman said he was safe.

At least eight people were injured, local media said. No-one has said they were behind the explosion.

Television footage from the scene showed rubble and glass from shattered windows in the streets - smoke was around some buildings. The wreckage of at least one car was in street.
Wait, you thought I was going to post about a coked out chick who should have been dead years ago? The only thing that we lost in all this is now when someone dies that was healthy and shouldn't have, we can't say "_____ died and yet Amy Winehouse is still alive?" anymore. Though I'm sure we could replace her name with Lindsey.

Anyhow, you're already reading about a tragic event (the terrorist attack, you moron) so you probably should read on.

Look at that, people are threading roses into the barricade set up to keep people out of a street leading up to the government block that blew up when the bomb went off. But over all this seems like this was just another excuse to blame Islamic followers for their terrorist ways. Here we are 10 years after 9/11 and I thought maybe, just maybe we would finally make some progress.. Welp.. Guess not.

The stupid shit about all this is that it wasn't even Islamic terrorism. It was right wing craziness. What the fuck, man.

Why yes, this incident had nothing to do with Islamism, but let's go ahead and talk about how Scandinavia needs to defend itself against the stinking fly-ridden Muslamic fifth column anyway. I mean, just look at the word count. "Islamic" was said 7 times. "Right-wing/Nationalist" was said ZERO times.

It was so bad that the dude seriously used the term Islamic terrorism about 3 times in a single sentence. How is that even possible in the human language? But hey, at least they said the word Terrorism. So it's got some factual backing to it. And now, to our expert on the Islamic menace, a guy named Christian White.

But you see, he was a lone wolf. Yes, he was - a lone wolf. And that's what wolves do. They shoot and kill eighty children. It's all just part of nature. Lone wolves don't have political ideology. They just do things because they are lone wolves..

It should have come as a stunning surprise that Norway was attacked by a blonde, blue-eyed, anti-Islamic terrorist. But the narrative from now will be exactly this, that right wing extremists are an uncontrollable, unaccountable force of nature and they must not be angered by the presence of despicable Muslims.

We stand tall in the face of terrorism and all that bullshit, but maybe we should immediately give in to the demands of right-wing terrorist and revise our policies because they'll just blow up more people if we defy them.

It basically boils down to being summed up as "Why do you make me hit you, European Muslims?"

I mean, I warned you that not genociding the swarthy savage would lead to people like me shooting your kids. You can't say I didn't warn you!!

At least that's what every right-wing article is saying. And to me the irony of giving into terrorist attacks by the right-wing is not lost on. I can't recall the last time I read a situation where people were like "Well, this madman's point's were correct", but this is the case here. Don't believe me? Look at this shit:
Mr. Breivik’s declaration did not name Mr. Kaczynski or acknowledge the numerous passages copied from the Unabomber’s 1995 manifesto, in which the Norwegian substituted “multiculturalists” or “cultural Marxists” for Mr. Kaczynski’s “leftists” and made other small wording changes.

By contrast, he quoted the American and European counterjihad writers by name, notably Mr. Spencer, author of 10 books, including “Islam Unveiled” and “The Truth About Muhammad.”

Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists,” she wrote.
How the fuck... I mean, my mind is blown. It's not our fault! It's your fault for existing! If they were smart they'd just assert that he's a lone nut who took some of their own views to extremes that they never dreamed of and be done with it.

Cause really, when this guy's ideology was first revealed I knew that people would be all like "Yeah, he's horrible BUT...." however I never thought that it would happen this quickly, comprehensively and thoroughly. Because man, this is pretty sickening. At this point, Muslim extremists might as well have done it for all that the media cared.

Then they scaled down the number of dead from Utoya to only 68. How exactly did this happen? Were there missing people who were counted as dead or what? It just seems odd to think that they over counted dead bodies.

Then you have to think about it. Maybe Northern Europeans have the ability to slip into a deep, torporous slumber when they're threatened. This is usually reserved for surviving the long winters, but I'm sure it can happen in the summer too.

But to be honest, I'm not sure how reading that made me feel exactly. Like, I'm trying really hard to be relieved by something that I actually thought about in fewer deaths. I mean, only 68 kids killed instead of 80, that's pretty good right. Gotta think positive. But then you realize that 68 kids have died from this, including one that died in the hospital while 8 died from the bomb with the numbers expecting to rise a bit, and I think to myself that it's really fucked up beyond belief.

But what isn't fucked up is the way that the public reacted to this terrorist attack. Just look at the candle light/flame visual for the situation.

Gotta admit, that looks pretty dangerous. What if someone's hair catches on fire? On the other hand, it does look nice to live in a country that isn't terrible. Just think about it. 15,000 people showed up for the torch vigil in Lillenhammer, which is a town of 26,000. Makes you wonder what that other 11,000 people were doing with their time. They better have a damn good excuse.

And just look at the following messages from the leaders.
Glette Henrik Glette
#Oslove is when a city responds to terror not by being taken over by military, but by hordes of flower wielding inhabitants.
Damn right. I hated the fact that Bush directly went to war with anyone and anything after 9/11. As if we needed that and not just look into the inner security issues with the airports and the screenings to the flight sims.

But keep reading, they get better and better.

"evil can kill a humanbeing, but never break an entire people" - jens stoltenberg just now

"we will not hate, we will not want revenge" - auf leader that survived from utøya
God damn, I'm really jealous that they have competent leadership that knows what is best or the people. And while I wish they would, you know, highlight the criminals in this for what they are, instead of avoiding the Oklahoma City Bombing comparison because of what they had in common.

There you go. If you cared more about Amy Winehouse's death than something like this.. You deserved to have been fooled by the articles misleading subject header.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Science of Disbelief

The Science of Disbelief

This was a good article and I think you should read it. In fact, I BELIEVE you should read it.
"A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger [2] (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study [3] in psychology.

Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy!

From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. "Their sense of urgency was enormous," wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs.

In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning [5]" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president [6] (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.

The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience [7] (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect"). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a "basic human survival skill," explains political scientist Arthur Lupia [8] of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.

We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about.

Consider a person who has heard about a scientific discovery that deeply challenges her belief in divine creation—a new hominid, say, that confirms our evolutionary origins. What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber [9] of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. "They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs," says Taber, "and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing."

In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt [10]: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers [11] (PDF). Our "reasoning" is a means to a predetermined end—winning our "case"—and is shot through with biases. They include "confirmation bias," in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and "disconfirmation bias," in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.

That's a lot of jargon, but we all understand these mechanisms when it comes to interpersonal relationships. If I don't want to believe that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that my child is a bully, I can go to great lengths to explain away behavior that seems obvious to everybody else—everybody who isn't too emotionally invested to accept it, anyway. That's not to suggest that we aren't also motivated to perceive the world accurately—we are. Or that we never change our minds—we do. It's just that we have other important goals besides accuracy—including identity affirmation and protecting one's sense of self—and often those make us highly resistant to changing our beliefs when the facts say we should.

Modern science originated from an attempt to weed out such subjective lapses—what that great 17th century theorist of the scientific method, Francis Bacon, dubbed the "idols of the mind." Even if individual researchers are prone to falling in love with their own theories, the broader processes of peer review and institutionalized skepticism are designed to ensure that, eventually, the best ideas prevail.

Our individual responses to the conclusions that science reaches, however, are quite another matter. Ironically, in part because researchers employ so much nuance and strive to disclose all remaining sources of uncertainty, scientific evidence is highly susceptible to selective reading and misinterpretation. Giving ideologues or partisans scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store.

Sure enough, a large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. In a classic 1979 experiment [12] (PDF), pro- and anti-death penalty advocates were exposed to descriptions of two fake scientific studies: one supporting and one undermining the notion that capital punishment deters violent crime and, in particular, murder. They were also shown detailed methodological critiques of the fake studies—and in a scientific sense, neither study was stronger than the other. Yet in each case, advocates more heavily criticized the study whose conclusions disagreed with their own, while describing the study that was more ideologically congenial as more "convincing."

Since then, similar results have been found for how people respond to "evidence" about affirmative action, gun control, the accuracy of gay stereotypes [13], and much else. Even when study subjects are explicitly instructed to be unbiased and even-handed about the evidence, they often fail.

And it's not just that people twist or selectively read scientific evidence to support their preexisting views. According to research by Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan [14] and his colleagues, people's deep-seated views about morality, and about the way society should be ordered, strongly predict whom they consider to be a legitimate scientific expert in the first place—and thus where they consider "scientific consensus" to lie on contested issues.

In Kahan's research [15] (PDF), individuals are classified, based on their cultural values, as either "individualists" or "communitarians," and as either "hierarchical" or "egalitarian" in outlook. (Somewhat oversimplifying, you can think of hierarchical individualists as akin to conservative Republicans, and egalitarian communitarians as liberal Democrats.) In one study, subjects in the different groups were asked to help a close friend determine the risks associated with climate change, sequestering nuclear waste, or concealed carry laws: "The friend tells you that he or she is planning to read a book about the issue but would like to get your opinion on whether the author seems like a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert." A subject was then presented with the résumé of a fake expert "depicted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences who had earned a Ph.D. in a pertinent field from one elite university and who was now on the faculty of another." The subject was then shown a book excerpt by that "expert," in which the risk of the issue at hand was portrayed as high or low, well-founded or speculative. The results were stark: When the scientist's position stated that global warming is real and human-caused, for instance, only 23 percent of hierarchical individualists agreed the person was a "trustworthy and knowledgeable expert." Yet 88 percent of egalitarian communitarians accepted the same scientist's expertise. Similar divides were observed on whether nuclear waste can be safely stored underground and whether letting people carry guns deters crime. (The alliances did not always hold. In another study [16] (PDF), hierarchs and communitarians were in favor of laws that would compel the mentally ill to accept treatment, whereas individualists and egalitarians were opposed.)

In other words, people rejected the validity of a scientific source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views—and thus the relative risks inherent in each scenario. A hierarchal individualist finds it difficult to believe that the things he prizes (commerce, industry, a man's freedom to possess a gun to defend his family [16]) (PDF) could lead to outcomes deleterious to society. Whereas egalitarian communitarians tend to think that the free market causes harm, that patriarchal families mess up kids, and that people can't handle their guns. The study subjects weren't "anti-science"—not in their own minds, anyway. It's just that "science" was whatever they wanted it to be. "We've come to a misadventure, a bad situation where diverse citizens, who rely on diverse systems of cultural certification, are in conflict," says Kahan [17].

And that undercuts the standard notion that the way to persuade people is via evidence and argument. In fact, head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever.

Take, for instance, the question of whether Saddam Hussein possessed hidden weapons of mass destruction just before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. When political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler showed subjects fake newspaper articles [18] (PDF) in which this was first suggested (in a 2004 quote from President Bush) and then refuted (with the findings of the Bush-commissioned Iraq Survey Group report, which found no evidence of active WMD programs in pre-invasion Iraq), they found that conservatives were more likely than before to believe the claim. (The researchers also tested how liberals responded when shown that Bush did not actually "ban" embryonic stem-cell research. Liberals weren't particularly amenable to persuasion, either, but no backfire effect was observed.)

Another study gives some inkling of what may be going through people's minds when they resist persuasion. Northwestern University sociologist Monica Prasad [19] and her colleagues wanted to test whether they could dislodge the notion that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were secretly collaborating among those most likely to believe it—Republican partisans from highly GOP-friendly counties. So the researchers set up a study [20] (PDF) in which they discussed the topic with some of these Republicans in person. They would cite the findings of the 9/11 Commission, as well as a statement in which George W. Bush himself denied his administration had "said the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaeda."

As it turned out, not even Bush's own words could change the minds of these Bush voters—just 1 of the 49 partisans who originally believed the Iraq-Al Qaeda claim changed his or her mind. Far more common was resisting the correction in a variety of ways, either by coming up with counterarguments or by simply being unmovable:

Interviewer: [T]he September 11 Commission found no link between Saddam and 9/11, and this is what President Bush said. Do you have any comments on either of those?

Respondent: Well, I bet they say that the Commission didn't have any proof of it but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.

The same types of responses are already being documented on divisive topics facing the current administration. Take the "Ground Zero mosque." Using information from the political myth-busting site [21], a team at Ohio State presented subjects [22] (PDF) with a detailed rebuttal to the claim that "Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam backing the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque, is a terrorist-sympathizer." Yet among those who were aware of the rumor and believed it, fewer than a third changed their minds.

A key question—and one that's difficult to answer—is how "irrational" all this is. On the one hand, it doesn't make sense to discard an entire belief system, built up over a lifetime, because of some new snippet of information. "It is quite possible to say, 'I reached this pro-capital-punishment decision based on real information that I arrived at over my life,'" explains Stanford social psychologist Jon Krosnick [23]. Indeed, there's a sense in which science denial could be considered keenly "rational." In certain conservative communities, explains Yale's Kahan, "People who say, 'I think there's something to climate change,' that's going to mark them out as a certain kind of person, and their life is going to go less well."

This may help explain a curious pattern Nyhan and his colleagues found when they tried to test the fallacy [6] (PDF) that President Obama is a Muslim. When a nonwhite researcher was administering their study, research subjects were amenable to changing their minds about the president's religion and updating incorrect views. But when only white researchers were present, GOP survey subjects in particular were more likely to believe the Obama Muslim myth than before. The subjects were using "social desirabililty" to tailor their beliefs (or stated beliefs, anyway) to whoever was listening.

Which leads us to the media. When people grow polarized over a body of evidence, or a resolvable matter of fact, the cause may be some form of biased reasoning, but they could also be receiving skewed information to begin with—or a complicated combination of both. In the Ground Zero mosque case, for instance, a follow-up study [24] (PDF) showed that survey respondents who watched Fox News were more likely to believe the Rauf rumor and three related ones—and they believed them more strongly than non-Fox watchers.

Okay, so people gravitate toward information that confirms what they believe, and they select sources that deliver it. Same as it ever was, right? Maybe, but the problem is arguably growing more acute, given the way we now consume information—through the Facebook links of friends, or tweets that lack nuance or context, or "narrowcast [25]" and often highly ideological media that have relatively small, like-minded audiences. Those basic human survival skills of ours, says Michigan's Arthur Lupia, are "not well-adapted to our information age."

If you wanted to show how and why fact is ditched in favor of motivated reasoning, you could find no better test case than climate change. After all, it's an issue where you have highly technical information on one hand and very strong beliefs on the other. And sure enough, one key predictor of whether you accept the science of global warming is whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. The two groups have been growing more divided in their views about the topic, even as the science becomes more unequivocal.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that more education doesn't budge Republican views. On the contrary: In a 2008 Pew survey [26], for instance, only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college educated Republicans. In other words, a higher education correlated with an increased likelihood of denying the science on the issue. Meanwhile, among Democrats and independents, more education correlated with greater acceptance of the science.

Other studies have shown a similar effect: Republicans who think they understand the global warming issue best are least concerned about it; and among Republicans and those with higher levels of distrust of science in general, learning more about the issue doesn't increase one's concern about it. What's going on here? Well, according to Charles Taber and Milton Lodge of Stony Brook, one insidious aspect of motivated reasoning is that political sophisticates are prone to be more biased than those who know less about the issues. "People who have a dislike of some policy—for example, abortion—if they're unsophisticated they can just reject it out of hand," says Lodge. "But if they're sophisticated, they can go one step further and start coming up with counterarguments." These individuals are just as emotionally driven and biased as the rest of us, but they're able to generate more and better reasons to explain why they're right—and so their minds become harder to change. [<-- THIS IS YOU LF]

That may be why the selectively quoted emails of Climategate were so quickly and easily seized upon by partisans as evidence of scandal. Cherry-picking is precisely the sort of behavior you would expect motivated reasoners to engage in to bolster their views—and whatever you may think about Climategate, the emails were a rich trove of new information upon which to impose one's ideology.

Climategate had a substantial impact on public opinion, according to Anthony Leiserowitz [27], director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication [28]. It contributed to an overall drop in public concern about climate change and a significant loss of trust in scientists. But—as we should expect by now—these declines were concentrated among particular groups of Americans: Republicans, conservatives, and those with "individualistic" values. Liberals and those with "egalitarian" values didn't lose much trust in climate science or scientists at all. "In some ways, Climategate was like a Rorschach test," Leiserowitz says, "with different groups interpreting ambiguous facts in very different ways."

So is there a case study of science denial that largely occupies the political left? Yes: the claim that childhood vaccines are causing an epidemic of autism. Its most famous proponents are an environmentalist (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. [29]) and numerous Hollywood celebrities (most notably Jenny McCarthy [30] and Jim Carrey). The Huffington Post gives a very large megaphone to denialists. And Seth Mnookin [31], author of the new book The Panic Virus [32], notes that if you want to find vaccine deniers, all you need to do is go hang out at Whole Foods.

Vaccine denial has all the hallmarks of a belief system that's not amenable to refutation. Over the past decade, the assertion that childhood vaccines are driving autism rates has been undermined [33] by multiple epidemiological studies—as well as the simple fact that autism rates continue to rise, even though the alleged offending agent in vaccines (a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal) has long since been removed.

Yet the true believers persist—critiquing each new study that challenges their views, and even rallying to the defense of vaccine-autism researcher Andrew Wakefield, after his 1998 Lancet paper [34]—which originated the current vaccine scare—was retracted and he subsequently lost his license [35] (PDF) to practice medicine. But then, why should we be surprised? Vaccine deniers created their own partisan media, such as the website Age of Autism, that instantly blast out critiques and counterarguments whenever any new development casts further doubt on anti-vaccine views.

It all raises the question: Do left and right differ in any meaningful way when it comes to biases in processing information, or are we all equally susceptible?

There are some clear differences. Science denial today is considerably more prominent on the political right—once you survey climate and related environmental issues, anti-evolutionism, attacks on reproductive health science by the Christian right, and stem-cell and biomedical matters. More tellingly, anti-vaccine positions are virtually nonexistent among Democratic officeholders today—whereas anti-climate-science views are becoming monolithic among Republican elected officials.

Some researchers have suggested that there are psychological differences between the left and the right that might impact responses to new information—that conservatives are more rigid and authoritarian, and liberals more tolerant of ambiguity. Psychologist John Jost of New York University has further argued that conservatives are "system justifiers": They engage in motivated reasoning to defend the status quo.

This is a contested area, however, because as soon as one tries to psychoanalyze inherent political differences, a battery of counterarguments emerges: What about dogmatic and militant communists? What about how the parties have differed through history? After all, the most canonical case of ideologically driven science denial is probably the rejection of genetics in the Soviet Union, where researchers disagreeing with the anti-Mendelian scientist (and Stalin stooge) Trofim Lysenko were executed, and genetics itself was denounced as a "bourgeois" science and officially banned. [GOD DAMN STALIN WAS DUMB]

The upshot: All we can currently bank on is the fact that we all have blinders in some situations. The question then becomes: What can be done to counteract human nature itself?

Given the power of our prior beliefs to skew how we respond to new information, one thing is becoming clear: If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn't trigger a defensive, emotional reaction.

This theory is gaining traction in part because of Kahan's work at Yale. In one study [36], he and his colleagues packaged the basic science of climate change into fake newspaper articles bearing two very different headlines—"Scientific Panel Recommends Anti-Pollution Solution to Global Warming" and "Scientific Panel Recommends Nuclear Solution to Global Warming"—and then tested how citizens with different values responded. Sure enough, the latter framing made hierarchical individualists much more open to accepting the fact that humans are causing global warming. Kahan infers that the effect occurred because the science had been written into an alternative narrative that appealed to their pro-industry worldview.

You can follow the logic to its conclusion: Conservatives are more likely to embrace climate science if it comes to them via a business or religious leader, who can set the issue in the context of different values than those from which environmentalists or scientists often argue. Doing so is, effectively, to signal a détente in what Kahan has called a "culture war of fact." In other words, paradoxically, you don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.

It's come to my attention that almost all people are pre-scientific in their thinking and they'll just believe whatever the fuck they want to believe even if you tell them in great detail why they are wrong. This includes all of you.

Well, not you. I mean those crazy people who have some strange beliefs. Okay, this may actually include you. I'm just saying. Like, I was really hoping for a youtube link of this,


The family on Wife swap is totally into the 2012 stuff. Like, they practice for it the way evangelicals practice for the rapture. Not only do they do survival training regularly and have stocks of food and gas masks, but because the world is going to end in 2012 the family was smart enough to buy all of their furniture and stuff on leases that begin after 2012. Good financial planning if you ask me.

They are so earnest in their belief that they even have a big countdown where the kids write every day "X days till the apocalypse". That in itself is some dedication. I sort of wish there was a camera crew to follow them and to see what they do on that day when nothing happens, although part of me fears the father is going to snap and murder his family and himself when that is the case.

That's the way cults go. Did you know that the heaven's gate cult had a similar thing happen to it where when the alien savior didn't show up and one of the leaders even basically said to them "Well, you can go home, maybe I'm full of shit" and I don't think anyone actually left at that point.

It's generally known that most people know that other people hold irrational beliefs that they cannot be swayed from believing no matter what evidence presented shows. The problem comes up that most everyone also believes that they themselves are perfectly rational in their beliefs.

So yeah, that is the story of belief. Hope you enjoyed.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Superman Project

The Superman Project

As you may have noticed, I have been talking about the big shake ups in the DC universe lately. Well, nothing I have said will get you more frustrated than the Big changes on the way for Superman and a much of it seems to be, big surprise, a retread of the silver age.
- Clark Kent and Lois Lane not only unmarried, but established that they were never married in the first place. Clark will be a bachelor, and Lois will have a new boyfriend, one whose identity is yet to be revealed but is said to be a Daily Planet colleague.

- Superman's alien origins will be emphasized in a big way, with the character described as "more Kal-El from the planet Krypton than Clark Kent from Kansas."

- Jonathan and Martha Kent are both dead

- Action Comics will see a "younger, more brooding" Man of Steel adjusting to his adopted homeworld. His powers are still in development at this point, as he "can leap tall buildings but can't fly in space."

- In Superman, a new status quo at the Daily Planet and a new gig at the paper for Lois Lane.

- Also in Superman, Perez will show that "there's a price to pay for being Superman" and debut a brand-new villain, "one said to be more powerful than the Man of Steel."

- New suit is "traditional Kryptonian armor", year one outfit is exactly what we saw on the cover to Action #1, complete with hilariously tiny cape.
Who the fuck wants to read a Superman that is more brooding? He'll be more alien than human, his background in Kansas is downplayed and he's no longer married to Lois. I was cautiously optimistic until now, but fuck it, I'm done with this book and this character.

Of all the things that I came across during Comic con, of all the news stories and announcements, I'm left trying my damnedest to think about who this amount of change to Superman could appeal to as far as casual and non-readers. In the past decade, the two biggest exposures Superman had to people who don't read comics were Justice League cartoon and Smallville.

Smallville is downright iconic at this point in the mainstream, for better or worse, and doing everything exactly the opposite of it seems counter to their goal of getting mainstream readers. I mean, fucking green arrow's costume change is due to his recognizably and popularity from Smallville. That should tell you how stupid this whole concept of changing Superman around is.

Being Clark Kent from Kansas is what makes Superman interesting. He's this God-like immortal alien, but he's also extremely humble and human because of the way he was raised. He's the opposite of Batman, where Superman is the mask and Clark is the real person. Don't let any stupid Tarantino Kill Bill speech fool you. Clark Kent is the real person

And yeah, this is being written by the same guy who wrote All Star Superman. But maybe that's why it feels like an even bigger slap to the face. Morrison is a great writer but that doesn't mean these changes to the mythology are objectively better.

Besides that, All Star Superman was a story about a demigod. We never saw Clark Kent's apartment, there's no indication in that story that he doesn't just leave work and put the tights on for the other 16 hours of the day. And while that can be an interesting angle in limited doses, I think it's exactly the wrong way to take Superman as a franchise. Especially considering most people's complaint that he's too powerful and too hard to relate to.

If anything, All-Star is as much a validation of that stupid Tarantino speech as anything else. Luthor points out that Clark isn't a real man, a real person because of Superman, that Lois doesn't notice the man because of the god in blue tights. Lex Luthor should not be in the right in a Superman story and that's all I have to say about that bullshit.

Everyone who uses the "Morrison will handle it well" are forgetting the fact that this carries over into Perez's Superman. If you're arguing that in Morrison's hands this is a good thing, that's fine. But do you feel the same about the same changes being dumped on other creators who aren't Morrison nor have Morrison's special powers to create awesomeness.

So having one or two good Morrison created Superman arcs isn't that special when you've completely destroyed back stories and back stories. It just ends up like seeing Christopher Nolan announce he'd suddenly jumped on to direct the next Kevin James movie with talking animals.

You're still working with crap. And while I'm every much as a fan of Morrison, I simply can't divorce that list of shit Superman lost in this retcon from what sounds like a horrible idea. Maybe I'll be proven wrong and the book will be as good, if not better than All Star, but that took a book that I was on the fence about and pushed it right the fuck off into the no-read zone.

Wouldn't you think that if a significant amount of the audience wanted a more alien Superman, that Martian Manhunter would have a long running solo series. But let's see what's happening with Superboy in the reboot.

Oh for fucks sake. Really? REALLY?! Fuuuuuuuuck!

So what does the great DiDio and Lee have to say in an attempt to damage control this mother fucking announcement? Well, let's find out Why?
"We've made Superman such an iconic figure over the years that we've lost some of the character and the ability to tell stories with that character," said Dan DiDio, co-publisher at DC. "There's so much continuity that's been built on this character. We really wanted to get a Superman that is more accessible to the audience."
clearly they are getting rid of the marriage to make Superman easier to relate to.. You know, like how we can now relate to a brooding alien.. How about the subject of the marriage being gone?
"Marriage brings about a certain degree of comfort and security in one's life," Lee said. "If you have a life partner, you always have someone to rely on. So from a story conflict point of view, it makes for a less dramatic story. I think a lot of writers can agree that one of the most dynamic periods of Superman's history was that period where there was a love triangle between Clark Kent, Superman and Lois Lane. There's a lot of tension and interest you create in the characters by having that kind of dynamic."

But Lee said the new Superman will not be just revisiting the same old love triangle. "We're introducing other elements into it," he said. "Through that, we're really updating who the character is and making Superman a character that you think you know, but maybe not. We have some surprises up our sleeves. And I think Grant has some incredible ideas about not only what he wants to do with Superman but Clark Kent, and really updating the whole mythology so that people can relate to it on a more personal level."
How about the fact that they're making Superman a loner now..
"We wanted to have that sense of isolation that might come with being an alien among men," DiDio said. "The two choices that were made, with both his parents being dead and not being married, isolated Clark a little bit more, so that he really had to do more exploration about mankind. There wasn't that one strong human tether that he was bonding with and learning through.

"He's had so much learning and understanding from the days with his parents, but the rest of the discovery is on his own," DiDio said, confirming the Clark will have been guided as a youth by the Kents, before their death. "If we had him married to Lois right now, he would always have a strong base to work from. We wanted to explore much bigger and wider stories with him. It's really the learning and growing of this character that is going to be the basis for so much of what Grant and George are going to be doing with their series and with Superman."

And lastly, confirming what we already knew, why they're choosing to reboot him entirely:
DiDio admitted that one of the motivations for rebooting Superman was the fact that the last time it was done — by John Byrne in the mid-1980's after Crisis on Infinite Earths — the Superman comic was a huge success.

"It was done once before, and very successfully," he said. "We're hoping for the same luck here."

God damn, I had a feeling all of these changes are simply due to an unknown combination of "Let's go back to the silver age" bullshit, protection against Siegel/Shuster lawsuit and a general DC idiocy. And even if this a Morrison book, nothing about this feels like this was born out of an actual, genuine creativity thought process in bettering the character.

Killing Ma Kent is a huge mistake. As is the whole going back to more will-they-won't-they bullshit between Lois and Clark that we're getting reset to. Yeah, they say she'll be with a new boyfriend but we all know that's not lasting more than a story arc or two before we get back to that stupid love triangle.

To be honest, I couldn't give a shit about the marriage being gone. I'm really more pissed at the notion that "Both of Clark's parents are dead" then the loss of a marriage that has had no affect on story telling and that I constantly forget they are actually married at all. Him losing both parents a of much more significance than Lois Lane dating someone for 3 issues before she inevitably ends up pining over Superman again.

And while I realize in his original appearance he had two dead parents, the fact remains that he had to have had a good upbringing with them, so I don't get where the fuck this whole brooding alien bullshit is coming from.

The whole "Superman is the real personality, Clark is the disguise" is the complete opposite of the immigrant concept upon which the character was founded on. Now, instead of a strange visitor adopting our customs and ultimately becoming one with our society, we have a strange visitor who is only pretending to join American society while secretly holding on to his alien past. It's like a Fox News version of a Terrorist Superman.

But hey, Found yourself saying "I really want a 1,216 page hardcover collecting every first issue of the new 52"? Got $150? Then DC is about to make your dreams come true:
This September, DC Entertainment is making history by launching 52 #1 DC Comics issues starring the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes. To commemorate this milestone occasion, DC Entertainment will be releasing DC COMICS: THE NEW 52, a massive hardcover collection that collects every single one of these debut issues. Hitting stores on December 7th just in time for the holiday season, this 1,216-page compilation will sell for $150.00 and include such issues as:

• JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
• ACTION COMICS #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales
• BATMAN #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
• GREEN LANTERN #1 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
• SWAMP THING #1 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette
• STORMWATCH #1 by Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda
• TEEN TITANS #1 by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth
• And 45 more!
Fuckin' DC. I just have no words for you anymore.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fucking DC More - Part 2 of a long rant

Fucking DC More - Part 2 of a long rant

While I'm at con and holding myself back in asking Ethan Van Sciver point blank what absolute insane tea party rhetoric will be thrown into Firestorm with him writing it, I'll hold myself back from doing so because there's other fish to fry.. Bigger fish. Ones that just make you shake your head.

Like for example the people in charge of all this and why they're not calling it a reboot..
* Why not call it a reboot?

It's not a reboot. A reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.

This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past. For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters' lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we've asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.

* Does The New 52 undo events or continuity that I've been reading?

Some yes, some no. But many of the great stories remain. For example - Batgirl. The Killing Joke still happened and she was Oracle. Now she will go through physical rehabilitation and become a more seasoned and nuanced character because she had these incredible and diverse experiences.
I really can't get behind this relaunch when everything I read is a confusing, stupid answer directly from DC. Even at the DC Panel it was utter nonsense. How the hell are we supposed to know which stories did or did not happen? Did Death, Reign, Return of Superman happen? Infinite Crisis happened, but Zero Hour didn't.. okay.

War of Worlds didn't happen, but World War 3 did. Yea Barbara got shot and became Oracle, Cassandra Cain actually never existed, but Stephanie was Robin for a time, Oh and Kon El doesn't have any love for the human race, but he lived in Kansas all those years with the Kents.

Even more frustrating is you can't believe any of the crap they spew out about long term effects. Hey DC, wasn't the All Star line supposed to be DC's "Ultimate Universe"? Oh boy, I guess we can just pretend that Superman: Earth One never came out, and just quietly sweep Batman: Earth One under the rug. It makes bringing Barry Allen back just be all for nothing.

Their notion that this isn't a reboot because they picked and chose what back story counts? Um, that IS a reboot. It's an in medias res reboot, but it's a reboot, because a reboot always synthesizes what worked about previous versions and creates a hybrid version of the back story to fit what it needs.

What stuns me about all this is that even though all these people have had critical failure for the company, they're getting bonuses for all of this.
  • Dan Didio has presided over a decade of declining DC sales and has lost a ton of great writers and artists to Marvel, yet he was promoted for it (or at least given a lateral move).
  • Jim Lee saw his imprint close down, his artistic output decline, and was promoted for it.
  • Bob Wayne should have been focusing more on getting hardcovers and trades released in a timely matter, but that wasn't part of periodical sales which Didio has said is what his job focus is (meaning what his bonus is based on) so there has never been any pressure put on Wayne to create a release schedule that can compete with Marvel.
  • Mark Chiarello is DC's art director and by all accounts is held in the highest regard by artists in the industry. The costume redesigns should have gone through him and some innovative 21st century artists, but instead Image Comics founder Jim Lee gave us his 90s-style interpretations.
  • Geoff Johns is just a mediocre writer, so his fault in this is probably just that alone.
  • Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, who was in charge of DC's horrible collected editions department before HIS promotion. And was EiC during the most creatively-bankrupt era at Marvel before that.
So when you look at it, this whole reboot hasn't been driven by any kind of creative force at all - if it was we'd see a lot more new writers and artist instead of the same old ones, and we'd see huge shake-ups at the editorial level.

You know what this reboot should have looked like? Wednesday Comics.

Seriously look at that. That's a DC universe I'd want to read. Content from creators like Mike Allred, Paul Pope, Walt Simonson, Kyle Baker, Ryan Sook, Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman and so on and so on. Where are these guys? Has DC really burned that many bridges to not be able to get any of these people back onto a brand new comic?

Wednesday Comics is pretty much the pinnacle of DC bringing heavy talent together to try something new, and it was a neat experiment. DC's line now seems to be that stories are too boring, grim, or burdened with history and their solution is to change the numbers and make arbitrary changes in continuity

What happened to the old days when DC would do amazing things like Batman: Black and White, Solo and then Wednesday Comics. It was stuff like that, that made it fun to read comics again.

You know what doesn't make reading comics fun? Seeing what they did to Superman...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comic Con First Purchase

Comic Con First Purchase

San Diego Comic con is a pretty big place. I mean, it's really big and you can get just about anything your nerdy heart desires there. This has been taken advantage of over he past few years in the form of comic con exclusive items.

These items are specifically sold at con and once they're gone, they're gone. Well for the exception of a few things that eventually turn up online later. But that in itself is tricky to figure out what capitalistic consumer items will make it online for the purchase price equal to that at con without having to lug it back on the trip home.

I wasn't too concerned for my wallet this year at comic con because, well, because there wasn't anything that just screamed at me. I'm pretty tired of con exclusives that will collect dust in a box and I'm way past any phase of collecting crap I don't plan on using in some degree.

But then I saw these..

Quantum Mechanix is offering up a poster series that consist of the four female characters of the Firefly crew done in a Art Nouveau style. But what has my wallet jumping is that during comic con, the Quantum Mechanix booth will have a comic-con exclusive poster featuring Mrs. Reynolds herself - Saffron.

As a fan of the show as well as someone who loves himself some Christina Hendricks, how could I pass up that print?

All these works have a strong connection to the work of Alphonse Mucha, the man who set the tone for almost all of Art Nouveau. And while this is less Art Nouveau and more Mucha-inspired work, it doesn't take away from the fact that these prints are amazingly cool.

So that there. That's my first item purchased at comic con.

Friday, July 22, 2011

DC In Focus - Comic Con

DC In Focus - Comic Con

By now you've become well aware that DC Comics is about toe shake up their line up with a not-so-reboot reboot. I'm guessing that Time Warner decided that it was high time to put a fire under their feet to make them crank out piles of money with their big franchise characters. What's that mean? Well, it means that DC needs to change things up.

And change things up they did. Take a look at the Justice League line up

For reference, that is: Deadman, Atom, Element Woman (introduced in Flashpoint), and Firestorm on the left. Green Arrow, Hawkman, and most likely Zealot and Mera on the right.

If the amount of lines on the costumes threw you, you're not alone. They all look like robots. Well, all except Cyborg who ends up looking like a 90's robot. And while this is odd for a guy to say, I really wish they would have had Wonder Woman's top actually cover her chest.

Who's suppose to be drawn into this brave new world of DC? Well, the DC road show apparently went to Dallas, and bleedingcool posted this hilarious quote from the show:
The target audience are men age 18 to 34 though they do realize that they have readers in other demographics.
So... these new readers they want to appeal to... yeah, they're exactly the same as the old readers they've always appealed to. And yet the feel the need to take established characters and just fuck with them.

Want to hear more stupidity in all this?
Many of the new 52 books will have six issue story arcs, and Dan DiDio states that if sales are bad on a title, they won’t wait very long to cancel it. He wants strong sales across the line.

He also wants comics to ship on time and even mentioned that he is very willing to replace a writer or an artist if they fall behind.
So... his plan for all these new books is to have the same six issue trade-friendly arc format that has been killing comics for years now. But hey, if sales drop they will cancel the book quickly. Didn't they promise that there would be no more 6 issues story arcs numerous amounts of times already?

And if you're wondering why I'm opposed to writing for a trade, well it's not a hatred towards trades specifically, but it's that "Writing for the trade" more often than not means stretching maybe 3 issues of content into 6 issues of comics for the sole purpose of keeping it contained in one book. It's more filler than substance.

In many cases, it makes the first 2 parts mostly setup with little to no real action. Dividing the narrative curve into 6 equal parts pretty much always means only parts 3-5 will be worthy anything and you've wasted 2 months worth of books on nothing losing a lot of interest.

Then you have the situation where if people fall behind, then they'll just get tossed off mid-arc. Individually these decisions are dumb. But combined they are a Voltron of idiocy. Every day this disaster keeps getting upgraded to the next category that it's not even funny.

DiDio's basically not going to let any title get any readers. I can't help but think that stories that are good, or I'm interested in are going to prematurely get dropped because people are just overwhelmed with the number of new stuff that buying even 20 new on-goings is going to cost a shitload of money.

I mean, no one is going to pick up 52 titles and most people are going to stick with the old reliable in Superman, Batman, Adventure, Detective and what have you. How is this being fair in anyway to the newer, stranger titles that no one has even heard of before?

There isn't a single thing about this DCU reboot that looks interesting, everything from the costumes to the concepts as I know about them looks like absolute garbage. Why can't they just do what Marvel has done for me in the last 10 years and just make better comic books instead of resorting to gimmicks?

What it sounds like is DiDio and Johns are all heavy-handed Julie Schwartz-style editors who dictate all plot lines to a bunch of scab writers. Who then in turn pump out the scripts, as opposed to the more laissez-faire style that Marvel seems to crank out.

To be honest, if that's what they did to drive all the writing talent away from DC, I say good riddance. Either DC editorial sees themselves as so brilliant that they don't need writers to come up with ideas, and just can transcribe theirs, or if they realize that they have a terrible repuation in the industry and are doing what they can with what little talent remains.

After everything is said and done, that's one of the biggest problems about this. That these titles were all devised by the editorial brain trust that brought you Countdown and then they asked their writers to pitch them. This isn't authors having a great idea for a new Blackhawks or OMAC book, this is an editorial mandate that these books need to exist for some reason and let's pick the best pitch that their bullpen could throw together on a short notice to make these book existing be worth reading.

Yeah, the law of large numbers suggest that there will be a few gems to come out of this experiment, but it's a pretty awful way to get good work out of talented people. Especially when you have them crank out amazing books like 52, but then claim that Countdown was going to be "52 done right!"

A great game would be to guess which titles get canceled and which ones have creators thrown off the project. I'm looking at you David Finch. It looks like you'll get tossed off before issue three hits due to your inability to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time.

It's not going to surprise me when it turns out that this whole thing was just a "wait, no, don't fire me yet, I've got this grand idea to turn everything around!" desperation play by DiDio. The line about being quick to cancel a title just reeks of desperation to get readers to buy them or else...

Because really, who would read any of this and still feel excitement for the relaunch knowing that half of the new series you plan on picking up will be canned after issue #6, if not before that.

This sort of shotgun approach of shooting a pile of shit to the wall and seeing which nuggets stick will lead to nothing but the smell of shit and smeared crap against the wall.

"Holy shit, here, publish these books, I don't even fucking care who's working on it? The intern? Rob Liefeld? Who cares, just get it the fuck out there!". It's like they're trying to play the lottery by just throwing random shit together and praying to god that one of those turds will turn into gold to attract the white whale that is the "new readers".

Even worse, these creative teams weren't even given that much thought. It seems like some of the creative teams weren't decided until practically the last minute which, given everything else about this, isn't too surprising. But did we seriously almost get Chuck Austen writing a book? Cause I can't think of anyone else "C.O. Austen" could be referring to.

Really, Bob Harras? Really? You're giving books to critical failures? What the hell are you thinking?

I don't really know what more to say at this point. I really find it hard to believe that the new stories in the relaunch are going to be so much better and more exciting than what we're getting now when everything behind the scenes sounds like a clusterfuck. But hey, there's always new levels on how bad they can fuck over Superman.....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Captain America

Captain America

Yeah, I'm at con right now, bitch. Eat me! While I'm sure the pre-written DC comics rant will suffice for a post, I figure since I saw Captain America today that I would rub it in.

How was it? Completely bad ass, of course. Duh! I mean, come on. Did you expect anything less than that from a Marvel movie? Okay.. whatever. Anyways, Peggy Carter is pretty smokin'.

But as smokin' as she is, these next posters for the flick are just on fire!

And finally we have a Mondo one.. which once it's announced for sale will sell out within a few moments. Because it's a Mondo Poster and that is all.

Though I have to admit it's pretty bad ass.

So yeah. Carry on.