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    • Moreau's Child

    • Posted by Rootfireember on 30 Jan 08
    • I've had a soft spot for The Island of Dr.Moreau for a long time. James Morrow's The Philosopher's Apprentice brings it back to the fore again. The book is solid, fun and a touch whimsical at times with a subtle undercurrent of horror. It reminds me on a great many levels of it, and I consider it to be, very much, a modern take on the topic- the repercussions of dabbling in what we don't fully understand, in playing god. The book itself is an easy read, though referencing a great many philosophical works and ideas.I fully expect this book to do decently once it comes out in March 08.
    • Random Geek: Front-runner

    • Posted by TechnocratJT on 30 Jan 08
    • Edwards is out of the race.

      And we now have these quotes (both stolen from CNN):

      "At a time when our politics is too focused on who's up and who's down, he made a nation focus again on who matters -- the New Orleans child without a home, the West Virginia miner without a job, the families who live in that other America that is not seen or heard or talked about by our leaders in Washington," Obama said Wednesday.

      And
      "John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it -- by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate," Clinton said in a statement.

      Edwards, who I supported in 2004, and then I cringed at as he fell apart during the VP debates, could never have won the nomination. But his third place showings have been strong enough that he is in a ideal spot to play king maker.

      On the other side, after his loss in Florida, it looks like Rudy is expected to withdraw today and throw his support behind McCain. Unlike Edwards, Giuliani has barely registered in most races so far. Despite that he was expected to have a bit more pull in the Super Tuesday races and his endorsement will likely cement McCain's front runner status. The question will then become will he try to appease the religious right with his VP choice. The notion of a VP nod to Huckabee or Romney worries me. In the end, I still hope he picks Lieberman, the venn diagram of the two politician's appeal overlaps so much it would only matter if their supporters could vote twice.
    • Random Geek: Cyberpunk, er now?

    • Posted by TechnocratJT on 30 Jan 08
    • So I got to talking about 4chan and /b's hacker community declared war on Scientology with a friend or two finally.

      The conclusion I came is this: these are people who grew up on Cyberpunk fiction and the related tropes, and who have, to a degree or another, always fancied themselves as the "heroes" of those narratives. When they sent out dozens of pizzas or crashed a chat room in their own eyes they were "edge running". Now they, and I do think it is a they - a group with a degree of preexisting relationships not an endless legion - have found an enemy which matches the stories in their heads.

      Because what we have is a hacker society vs. a corporate cult, and I am sure I played in that RPG when I was 15 or 16.

      Come February 10th they are claiming we will see extensive real life protests, and if you search youtube you can see that a few have tried already. Yet, these protests look exactly like the people out on my street asking me about conserving Georgia's water or civil rights. It does not match the ominous visage of the youtube video releases. Its a bunch of twenty somethings with hand drawn signs giving out fliers. Well, maybe with an extra Guy Fawkes mask then I see locally. They read that book too.

      On the other hand they have link bombed google (search: dangerous cult) and clearly have a nice collection of leaked videos. So maybe the the random vandals of 4chan have decided they will do something with actual impact. Though looking at the counter clocks they released, and considering the organizations they remind me off, I am not sure that is to be applauded.

      Yet, if they manage to have an impact on the real world, or more importantly do not get bored, and wander back off to scream at each other and post pornographic anime images in their insular net communities, then what happens next I wonder. Does that make them an actual cultural force? Speaking as a lawyer, all I can say is, if I was RIAA I would be a bit worried about who they target next.
    • Novel Idea: I tell you why I like Bodyworld.

    • Posted by BradleySusumu on 30 Jan 08
    • www.dashshaw.com (It's a novel, so start with the prelude, and don't ignore the maps.)

      What is Bodyworld? Probably my favourite webcomic at the moment. So far it's a comic about the intersection of botany and psychedelic drug use, I suppose. But the author calls it "a romance about bodymind telepathy."

      Need a more surface-level analysis? It's a color webcomic by Dash Shaw, slated to be 12 chapters long (chapter one just ended today), with new pages posted every Tuesday, done in a 12 panel grid.

      But what happens within the comic's borderless panels? As of today's update, a druggie professor named Paul Panther goes to a town named Boney Borough to investigate (and smoke) a new plant discovered on the school grounds. Hypothetically, if you had the luck to be my child, you probably would not tug at my platinum threaded shirt-sleeves asking, "But Father of all Dads, what happens next?!" But the plot is not the point.

      Presentation is, my imaginary illegitimate child. If you've spied on me in the wee hours of anytime during the day, you would know I'm a closet formalism freak. Nothing ignites my amorous engine like someone distending the walls of what is possible in an art form.

      Bodyworld is swollen and throbbing with little tricks rarely seen in most comics. For example, Shaw has created a grid map of Boney Borough; when a scene changes, Shaw puts the coordinates of the new scene map as the first panel. When Prof. Panther makes a call to a friend, the scenes with his friend are drawn in only blue and grey to play up the physical distance.



      Shaw also likes to play around with text written over the drawings. There are onomatopoeia sound effects like many comics (though he finds ways to experiment with these as well, mostly through placement). The genius arrives, however, in a panel where Prof. Panther sticks his foot into a bathtub and Shaw just writes "cold" over the water. Which, I think, is more effective than having someone exclaim "By the rapacious radishes of Rangoon, that's some cold water!" as Stan Lee would have done.

      As befits a comic about psychedelic drugs, the atmosphere of the comic is subtly surreal. There are smudges on the walls of Prof. Panther's motel room that move around from panel to panel, and no one makes a comment about them. The backgrounds change their level of detail and color depending on a character's mood. Plus there is a weird bald guy with stitches in his head, and Prof. Panther walks around blood soaked with shards of glass sticking from his forehead for the first few pages due to a suicide attempt. Honest, family friendly comics just like Unca Walt used to have other people make for him to put his name over.

      I'm sure even the people mildly interested in reading this have now gone off to read the tales of Underwearman and his Absent Bulge or whatever the 'hot' comic of the moment is. But, I had to try.
    • Z: TBH: Morning, Day 3

    • Posted by Z on 30 Jan 08
    • Last night I got home and realised I hadn't really eaten.

      I'd had my large coffee, I'd had a handful of dry cereal from one of those vacuum sealed travel cups, but never really left my desk.

      This morning, I was determined to do things differently. I bought my large coffee, then a bready little croissant, and an orange juice (not from concentrate).

      Got to my desk, sat down, and found.. stuff. All sorts of stuff. The sort of stuff that said, 'congratulations, you're getting a raise: TO THIS! ($$exactly what you make now!$$). Found that on a new board I'd been invited to and posted to, in the same day some little shit had cock-blocked every single entry I'd posted.

      This stuff, in addition to the all-sorts-of-stuff I usually get.

      Now I only have to figure out how to tell my company, no, a 12% raise means this much, and decide how to handle this 'other' board situation.

      What I get for cheating on WhiteChapel.

      - Z

      So today's question is, what were/are your challenges today, and what did you (will you) have for lunch?
    • Tuesday's bad decision

    • Posted by Don Kelly on 30 Jan 08
    • I tell myself to take a break. It had been too good a day. Too much accomplished with just a couple of personal goals left to make sleep fulfilling. A couple hours. That's all. Just enough for a minor distraction.

      I'm at the Metro station around the corner by 7:30, two stops south of the 8:00 at the Chinese. I pass some time watching a vlog on Moore's Law. That type of day. A smart day. One where all the things I seek to understand feel attainable.

      I'm still playing with the iPhone while waiting for the movie. Syncing e-mail was today's excitement. It's amazing when you send out a bulk "new email address" email to all your contacts. Suddenly people I haven't spoken to since my last bulk announcement are appearing on my iPhone, looking to catch up, reconnect, wishing me well with Gmail. It feels like I've done something major with my life by following the set-up screens correctly.

      I do my best to rekindle old friendships during the previews. So many previews.

      Then...Cloverfield.

      When I go to a movie I look for the genius. This was not always the case. Somewhere in the mid to late 90's I morphed into the sort of insufferable snob one can only find sitting in coffee shops in front of a laptop working on their screenplay. They will never get a taste. They will never know the sweet joy of typing out those last few sentences while the messenger from the agency waits at the door.

      But they will talk. God how they talk.

      So, I will critique the genius of Cloverfield.

      It was a stunning creative choice to make the heroes so colorless and milquetoast that we could barely care if they lived or died. It was equally daring to make the concerns of their everyday so WB (CW for the kids) I couldn't help but wait for Paula Cole to show up on an iPod.

      The genius continued in this vein by making the movie 98% Dawson-2% Monster-creating an inverse monster movie. Normally the only thing you care about in a monster movie is the monster. This anti-formula afforded me the opportunity to care about nothing.

      Equally daring, and a choice surely meant as a statement on the psychology of group dynamics, was to give the camera to the most annoying of all the characters. The fucktard. The shy pup yipping around the Alpha males. A man so invested in finally acquiring a calling that he never, ever puts the camera down. Not even when climbing the dangerous slope of a rooftop.

      To be honest it made me feel old. The noise gave me a headache and the hand held camera made me queasy. I was already pretty bored with the forever it took to introduce the monster, and the 9/11 imagery only exacerbated my lack of interest.

      Honestly, the movie recalled Aliens for me and not just because of some parasitical monster bite. There's that great scene when the marines first encounter the Aliens from all their multiple POV's. The beautiful thing is that there's a master shot, music, structure, and characters.

      JJ Abrams received due praise for making this flick a viral success. If he had serialized it on the Net in five to ten minutes segments he'd have been praised as a visionary. If it started on the 18th today probably would have been the day for the big monster reveal. Probably wouldn't even be able to get on the damn site. That would have been ingenious.

      On the big screen it's just a bad movie. Or thing. It's just a bad thing I paid nearly twelve bucks to see. In one choice all those hours of smart just drifted away.

      And are you Trek people really excited that this Abrams guy is reimagining your religion? Has he ever made anything satisfying in his entire career? Guess I missed the sparkle of MI3.
    • The Mystery of the First Marvel Comic

    • Posted by Mark Seifert on 29 Jan 08
    • This is about as obscure a subject as imaginable, but that's what blogs are for, right?

      Anyway... just now perusing pics of Golden Age comics I can't afford, I came across this Marvel Comics #1 October edition.

      October edition, right. Most known copies of this 1939 book, the very first Marvel comic, are cover-dated November. The November copies simply have a black circle blocking out the October with a "Nov" above the circle.



      The most obvious explanation for this is that the November copies are second printings. October copies with known provenance have all come out of the East coast, and there's some anecdotal info out there that may indicate that the October run was ordered to test the waters of the then-developing comic market.

      BUT! A few of us on a Golden Age forum spent far too much time one night examining scans of a number of copies and determining that the Circle/Nov shifts in relation to the black plate of the rest of the cover, which indicates it was added after the initial printing pass.

      Surely, if they'd restarted the presses for a 2nd print at a later date, they'd simply have modified the original printing plates. Adding it after the fact (and after the covers had been trimmed, apparently) to ~900,000 copies would seem to represent a non-trivial amount of additional effort at the printing plant.

      There's also the matter that the infamous "pay copy", a copy of the book used by the studio/packager of the contents to record his payments to the creators, is a November copy. It seems reasonable to assume he'd have gotten his hands on a copy as soon as possible, though obviously there's not TOO much to be concluded from that.

      So, the circumstances behind the existence of both Oct and Nov copies of the first Marvel comic remains something of a mystery.

      Bringing this around to something vaguely more Whitechapel related, the cover was done by noted pulp cover artist Frank Paul, who has come up here from time to time. Incidentally, the pay copy indicates Paul received $25 for his cover art here.
    • Random Geek: Legacy Hero (2): Not Colbert

    • Posted by TechnocratJT on 29 Jan 08
    • Well, he gets to keep the shield.

      However, Colbert is saddened that he does not get the call to be Cap. He even bid the show farewell so he could go take the streets shield in hand, but his red, white and blue balls were not enough. Thankfully, Joe Q has reassured him he is running strong in the Marvel Universe for president.

      President Colbert: Man of Action

      I would buy that comic, ideally written by the members of Man of Action, and as it seems the major candidates are Skrulls. Colbert is the only choice. Yet, what amuses me the most is the direct statement Bucky Barnes is Cap. Good publicity for ye old comic stores again, and a plot "twist" which anyone, and everyone, able to understand foreshadowing or follow a narrative has known for months.

      Which, is to say, its still a point of major contention on comic boards. I can hear the screams now....