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B.P.R.D. - Still good.

Hellboy - Also still good.

Astro City - Actually got an issue of this, finally! I'm really hoping they just wrap up this arc... it would be nice if there were some kind of reboot of Astro City at this point, but that may be so pomo that it eats its own head.


Batman and Robin - New take on old characters by Grant Morrison. Grant and Frank Quitely did amazing work with All-Star Superman, and this new Batman stuff (with Dick Grayson as bats and Batman's son as Robin) is really really awesome. The feel is exactly what Batman should feel like, but it's a new story with new character development; I love it.

Top 10 Season Two - Haven't seen this lately, must be running late again... maybe it's time to put Top Ten to bed.

Red Mass For Mars - Watchmen-like uberfuture where humanity is doomed. I think this book is about done, it never really grabbed me so now I'm just getting it to be complete with it.

Walking Dead - Still reading this zombie soap opera, it keeps pulling me back in.

Anna Mercury - Alternate worlds and a boob-laden secret agentess. New story arc, looks promising.

Viking - This is a very moody, art-centric, historical fiction piece about Vikings. I like it, but we'll see how long it lasts.

Buck Rogers - Indy take on the classic character. Could be good; we'll see what happens.

Doktor Sleepless - Bio/Hacker superhero wants to end the world. Still wearing thin.

Gravel - Warren Ellis, John Constantine with a badass military twist. This series not only excels for Warren, it's setting up its next whole story arc with this great weirdo all magician super-team. A very very cool idea, Magic X-Men. I hope it takes off - I also think it would be great if Avatar did an omnibus collection of all the Gravel stories they've ever put out (as the character starred in a number of mini-series before getting his own regular series).

Ignition City - Where pulp space heroes go to die. Still good, thanks be to Warren.

Irredeemable - Superman-level hero runs amok. This is some good stuff - deconstructing the idea of an alien super-being living in human society, much further than anyone's ever dared to go with the idea before.

No Hero - Take a drug, become a superhero via a horrific biological transformation; just read the penultimate issue, and it should all resolve nicely in the last book. I'm reminded of Black Summer, which I did like, but it also felt a little shallow like No Hero does. Both story ideas could have been expanded more, but Warren is the million armed writer of the Apocalypse, he doesn't really have enough time to write every damn thing in the universe.

Incognito - Supervillain in witness protection regains powers and becomes a "hero". From Ed Brubaker, still loving this book, hope it goes for a while or continues exploring the continuity in other series.
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I've made some cutbacks on my comics lately - more because they've gone downhill in terms of writing and / or art than due to the economy (at least directly anyway; who can say whether they've gotten bad because they can't pay for good work any more?). Anyway, here's my list:

B.P.R.D. - Occult superheroes, keeps me coming back.

Hellboy - Always good.

Astro City - Do they even make these any more? Still on my pull list though.

Mysterius: The Unfathomable - Adventures of a piggy middle-aged magician and his spunky hispanic lady assistant. This is a fun book so far, reminds me a little bit of "Leave it to Chance" except that it's bawdy and isn't a kids' book by any stretch.


Seaguy: The Slaves Of Mickey Eye - Psychedelic superhero shit.

Top 10 Season Two - Not really too thrilled by this so far, but I do like me some psychedelic superhero shit.

Back To Brooklyn - This was a crazy ass "true crime" mini-series, very ultraviolent and over the top. Could see it as a Jason Statham action movie. Worth getting as a collection if you're into action and crime.

Red Mass For Mars - Watchmen-like uberfuture where humanity is doomed. Good for a laugh.

Walking Dead - Still reading this zombie soap opera, it keeps pulling me back in.

Anna Mercury - Alternate worlds and a boob-laden secret agentess. Not sure if this series is done? The first story arc is anyway. Good for the art - is Warren Ellis stretching himself too thin?

Doktor Sleepless - Bio/Hacker superhero wants to end the world. I'm not very happy with it, though I'm still getting it. Story seems to be worn thin.

Gravel - The one series where Warren Ellis is really excelling these days; it's his John Constantine with a twist (seeing as how DC/Vertigo never had the balls to let Ellis do Hellblazer).

Ignition City - The place where pulp space heroes go to die. I'm liking it.

Irredeemable - What happens when a Superman-level hero runs amok, really for real, how do you stop him? He is an alien after all, who knows what the hell is in his head. This is intriguing stuff (even though this story was already done in Powers).

No Hero - Take a drug, become a superhero via a horrific biological transformation. Warren Ellis, again; another series where he needs to improve pacing. Still I persevere.

Incognito - Supervillain in witness protection regains powers and becomes a "hero". From Ed Brubaker, an excellent writer.

Stem Cells

Apr. 9th, 2009 02:30 pm
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Apparently the only people who really have an issue with stem cell research are Catholics and Christian fundies. That's a pretty seriously small minority. Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism have no issues with using stem cells for research purposes, as the research occurs to cells before any of those belief systems consider them "alive". Only Catholics and fundamentalists/cultists believe in personhood at conception/fertilization.

Don't ever let them paint this issue as one where "religions" believe using stem cells is wrong! The vast majority of people in the world believe using stem cells to research healing is fine.
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I recently watched the NOVA special "Cracking the Maya Code" and was absolutely fascinated by it. I have a special place in my heart for Mesoamerican / pre-Colombian civilizations and Mayanists in general. It's incredible to me that the language of the Maya has finally been deciphered, and that we can rescue that tiny amount of their culture that remains.

I highly recommend watching the special (though mainly I find it's the perfect example of "leave your dogma behind" when it comes to research and analysis - people never seem to be able to let go of their preconceptions and notions, they can't stand not being right!). The most incredible realization hit me when they revealed what was actually going on with the problems in translation; when they determined that multiple symbols could represent the same syllable it hit me: the varied stylized renderings of the alphanumeric symbols were basically just "fonts"! The reason why it was so hard to figure out Mayan language was because they carved a bunch of stuff in their equivalent of MS Comic Sans and Wingdings!! A very important design consideration for Long Now type thought experiments...

Also, the value of working in isolation cannot be understated. None of this would ever have happened if not for the work of Yuri Knorosov, an epigrapher working behind the complete isolation of the Iron Curtain. This kind of result reinforces my belief that the Anathem model of isolating avout is not a bad one at all. Societal collapse happens way too frequently for my taste, it's a terrible waste of time starting over again and again.
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I think that, starting with my generation, and during the rise of personal computing in general, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of people who were "born" interactive users of technology. There seem to generally be two kinds of technology users: actives and passives. Actives are the tinkerers, the hackers, the engineers and the problem solvers - the people who actually remix and rehash technologies and create new ones; passives simply enjoy the fruits of technology without bothering to try and understand its underlying principles (or at least the implications of the technology). Tech is just a means to an end for passives, while actives pursue tech for the sake of tech itself or some other higher ideal or pursuit. It's the difference between a person who watches television and a person who solders together a TV-B-Gone!

I often wonder where cybernetic enhancement will take people, and now I'm thinking of it in terms of actives versus passives. Put simply, the passives are going to find themselves in a very bad place; if cybernetic extensions of the body are not "owned" by the person who uses them, how can a person have any kind of self-determination at all?

This is truly the most important revelation of the open source movement that one can imagine - what would it be like if your eyes were produced by Microsoft, and were subject to automated upgrades you couldn't prevent (nevermind the fact that you get Blue Eyes of Death periodically)? Or what if your ears had an automatic killswitch implanted by Apple that turned them off if you didn't make your payments on time; or better yet, what if Sony got to determine what conversations you could and couldn't hear around you based on copyright laws? Censorship, technological monopolies, and freedom take on a whole different meaning when you're literally talking about YOUR BODY and whether or not you own it.

On the other hand, people who can hack their own minds and bodies will be the ultimate expression of enhanced humanity; and the actives will very quickly outstrip the passives in terms of their abilities and grow the gap between the two groups. And of course this isn't even considering the people who will refuse to accept anything more than the most passive cybernetic enhancements for various moral or religious reasons - I can almost envision a kind of cyber-Rapture where the people who can't or won't be active get "left behind" by the active folks, who basically have either lost the ability to, or no longer want to, interact with the passives.
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Do you think people would have a better understanding of the situation if evolution is referred to as a "scientific model" rather than a "scientific theory"? "Theory" apparently has too many connotations for the average uninformed person to grasp. Is it not accurate to refer to evolution as a model, the same way that there's a "standard model" of particles and their interactions in physics?

I know it's not possible to convince average uninformed persons of religious conviction of anything. But I'm hoping that maybe we can get the fence-sitting folks less convinced of absolute rightness a bit more over to the side of overwhelming evidence if we change the language slightly. Of course, I suppose it's possible for anti-science folks to just come up with a dismissive "Well, it's just a MODEL, that means it's like a TOY, it's not reeeeal..."
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I was listening to NPR yesterday, and was witness to yet another of the endless attempts by homophobic, power hungry, politicizing bigots to take civil rights away from people. This time it was a discussion of the upcoming political tempest in a teapot - since gay marriage worked so great for Republicans in 2004, they're going to take aim at gay adoption in 2006. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of children currently adopted by gay singles and couples, there are 16 or so states working towards legislation to ban gay adoption; legislation that will no doubt be ready to bring out the "religious whackjob" (as they are called by Tom DeLay's staff) voting contingent in November.

What I really hate most is that any time I hear one of these "debates" no one ever confronts the anti-gay/lesbian speaker for exercising a moral prejudice against people they've never met. They never start with questioning their base assumptions - why are you assuming a negative environment for children cared for by gay/lesbian parents? Why do you implicitly suggest that homosexual is equivalent to over-sexed? And I'm always pissed off when they discuss "gay lifestyle" and "sexual choice" as if sexual preference were something you could just suddenly decide on the spot and change.

How many gay/lesbian people do you actually know? If gays and lesbians aren't entitled to the same rights as everyone else, what is it about them that makes them so different? What's the difference between discriminating against someone based on skin color, religion, or sexual preference? At what point in your life did you "choose" to be straight? Can you choose not to be straight?

These are the questions that bigots need to be confronted with. I really don't think it's that hard to show someone they're being a bigot - it's just that people are rarely confronted with the truth of their bigotry, under the guise of "everyone's entitled to an opinion." I couldn't agree less! The long and short of it is: bigots aren't entitled to be bigots, and misinformed people are not entitled to being misinformed.
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If today is horny bloody werewolf day, what the heck is St. Patrick's Day??
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I want to dress up in goat skins and whip naked women to make them fertile!!

Happy bloody horny werewolf day!
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Watch for the lurking homosexual (is that John Waters??)

You think they're still showing this training video some places out in the mid-West?
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Big subject, but I'm feeling thoughtful this morning. I posted this comment in a ZDNet blog article about "Making Wikipedia Better":
a little longish )


Feb. 11th, 2004 04:09 pm
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This animation site is totally cool. Check out number 86.
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Man I'm a loser... I haven't updated this thing in months.

I got a couple new CDs in the mail today from Yat-Kha. It's weird shit. A combo of folk/rock/cowboy songs and throat singing. Very Oriental, with influences from almost every Asian culture, sounds like a mix of all of them. It makes me want to ride on a horse and be Conan. Kill wizards and ravage wenches and move boulders and stuff.


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