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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.

Planetary - LAST ISSUE IN OCTOBER FINALLY I CAN'T BELIEVE IT HAS BEEN TEN YEARS FOR 27 ISSUES

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.

Planetary - THE LAST ISSUE IS COMING OH GOD OH GOD IT'S COMING

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.
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I'm looking at some sample code for the iPhone, an application that demonstrates a bunch of principles in app coding all at once, including animation and so forth. It's a relatively trivial app, just sample code, and it uses the Periodic Table of Elements as its data set. As information goes, the PT is a pretty useful set of data. But then I recently came across This t-shirt while reading Dinosaur Comics.

The information packed into this t-shirt space is REALLY USEFUL. It's probably the most concise and powerful set of scientific information I've seen, taking all the best discoveries of the last couple centuries and distilling it into a simple to use set of engineering instructions that people at nearly any technical level could understand (and experiment with) given a bit of time and energy.

When I was thinking about the Periodic Table and all the elements represented on it, it occurred to me that the names of the elements aren't really all that useful or descriptive, and the symbols themselves are actually confusing if one doesn't understand their origins (Pb for lead? Well, that's because it's "plumbum" from the Latin, because those clever Romans went and made all their pipes out of lead - lucky for them their water was mineral rich and mostly coated the pipes on the inside). I started wondering if it would be better to come up with a new kind of taxonomy for elements; and I guess when I say "better" I am discounting the whole "retrain generations of scientists in various disciplines to use another system" thing and wondering if there's a way to teach people a new system, or whether more people would learn more effectively if there were a better naming scheme and/or organization to the table.

I didn't give it too much thought because I didn't want to start going down a Dvorak or Esperanto type rathole. It's bad enough that people in this country are too dead set in their ways to use the freaking SI like the rest of the world does. But then I looked at the t-shirt text and started thinking about organic chemistry and how CHON is key for so many different applications - yet the PT doesn't really reflect that at all. Neither does it highlight all the various elements that are so key in electronics applications (and yes, I realize that engineering and pure science rarely mesh well, but I'm talking about practicality in everyday life and spreading useful knowledge to the maximum number of people, not about keeping information "pure").

In its current state, the PT is minimally useful and requires a significant amount of training to understand even the basics of it. So I have to ask: how would Edward Tufte recreate it? What visual cues would improve its information density and readability? What would a three-dimensional periodic table look like? Is there a way to name the various elements to better represent their properties - maybe even to make chemistry easier to understand (just as prefixes and suffixes in chemical names make it easier to envision what kinds of chemical or molecular properties a compound has)?

What if we could take the Periodic Table, or, even better, take that t-shirt that's chock full of scientific principle and turn it into something along the lines of a Voyager record style set of graphemes? Wouldn't it be great to create children's toys that incorporate these hypothetical icons of scientific principle into their designs? Reading about how some of my friends want to recreate the Rutherford experiment for their children inspired me to consider this as well. We could be creating familiarity with fundamental principles very early in education, in the same way as the various "iconographies" in Anathem do, where the avout are trained for saecular world interactions based on archetypes portrayed in stained glass windows...
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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 submitted a piece of flash (some of you may remember it) to a dark fiction and poetry blog called "Halving a Baby" - it's been accepted, and is posted today!
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[livejournal.com profile] _de_profundis_

Out of the deep, the nightmares come...
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I simultaneously love you and hate you. Harry Potter is great stuff, but the creation of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans... for this, you I must despise.

I bought a box of these bad boys made by Jelly Belly and Hasbro. They really aren't kidding about the flavors. Dirt, booger, black pepper, sardine, vomit... that's what they taste like all right. And then there's the "mystery bean", a neutral beige color with no hint of what it could be... *shudder*
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Drak beat me to it... but to reiterate, the 2nd annual gweep invasion picnic at Benj and Jess's was freaking awesome. I got some "new" folks to come along this year, and everybody had a really great time. Some people didn't make it, and that was kind of sad... but what can you do?

Highlight of the day - I got the attention of the cutest single girl at the picnic! Her name was Maya, and she was totally adorable. Oh, and she was also the five year old daughter of one of Ryry's old friends. :)

So I'm standing there talking with somebody, and I feel this tug on the back of my shirt. I turn around, and this little girl looks up at me (all 30 some odd inches of her) and says:

"You look just like Hagrid from Harry Potter!!"
(*stunned moment, recovering quickly*)
"You're right, I do! What's your name?"
"Maya..."
"Hi Maya, my name's Mike, it's nice to meet you!"

Dawn later tells me that Maya had come up to her and said:

"That boy looks just like Hagrid!"
"Well why don't you go talk to him?"
"I can't, I'm too scared..."
"I'll come with you and we can talk to him together!"

The rest of the night, Maya ended up hanging around me and hugging me and stuff. Total cutie. (I always end up being a kid magnet for some reason)

So yeah, I figure maybe if I end up out of work I can always rent myself out to kid's parties as a Hagrid impersonator... :)
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Oh for pete's sake... How boring is this selection of Star Trek races??

# 1 Human
# 2 Betazoid
# 3 Trill
# 4 Bajoran
# 5 Romulan
# 6 Vulcan
# 7 Ferengi
# 8 Cardassian
# 9 Andorian
# 10 Klingon

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