Friday, May 26, 2017

Bookworming: Various Comic Trades

All of these titles are available to read free at the time of this writing if you have Amazon Prime. Naturally, they are all volume ones because the first one is... you know.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 No Normal, G. Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Sara Pichelli, ***
Classic feels-out-of-place-in-society origin story made contemporary by having a Muslim hero.

Star Wars Vol. 1 Skywalker Strikes, Jason Aaron, John Cassady, ***
For the Star Wars fans that want to fill in the gap between Star Wars and Empire.

Star Wars Darth Vader Vol. 1 Vader, Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Adi Granov, ****
Surprisingly good, self-contained but with places to go, it is still for the Star Wars fans, but if you are one, this is one worth a look.

Thor Vol. 1, J. Michael Straczynski, Coipel Olivier, ***
Largely setup, not really much here to hook me into continuing. Definitely fits into the "good if you like that sort of thing" category.

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1, ****
Surprisingly good hard-boiled PI story set in the Marvel universe.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Watching the Watchers: Those Who Do Not Learn From History

A well known TV personality, oft accused of shady business dealings, makes a run at being President. Written off by the media as a colorful distraction. A platform centered around anti-immigration, tax reform, and American values. Someone seeking to position themselves as a Republican, but who's assertions are met with skepticism both in and out of the party. Affable in public, said to be quick tempered and intolerant of mistakes in private. A rather, let's say old school, attitude toward women. Known to make accusations of misconduct against opponents without proof. Who is this man, you ask? Well, it's Pat Robertson circa 1988.

For those who say "things are different now" or "it has never been like this before", you are being mislead. It doesn't matter which side you are on, you are being mislead by a media in the midst of a disruption that started with 24 hour cable news and turned to 11 with the advent of the Internet. Right wing media, left wing media, it doesn't matter, all they care about is your attention. And nothing grabs your attention like scaring you. Nothing generates loyalty like tribalism, and nothing triggers tribalism like invoking "The Other". Right wing media has turned "liberal" into a cuss word. Left wing media has turned "conservative" into a synonym for racism. Neither of those are right. Politics is supposed to be a debate, not a war.

And if you are reading this and saying to yourself, it's the fault of the other side, then my friend you are part of the problem. I get that you're frustrated with and angry at the politicians, and you hate the media for not looking at your facts and calling them Truth. I get it because that is how literally every other person in America who has ever paid the slightest bit of attention to politics ever feels.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Quote of the Moment

"Beatniks and politics, nothing is new. A yardstick for lunatics, one point of view. Who cares what games we choose? Little to win but nothing to lose." –Strawberry Alarm Clock “Incense and Peppermints”, 1976

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bookworming: Childhood's End

Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke, **
A classic of the science fiction genre, and the book that confirmed I'm not really a fan of Clarke's fiction. The story is set at the end of the U.S/U.S.S.R. space race, an end that is imposed by the sudden appearance of overwhelmingly powerful aliens. Beyond that, I can't say much more because it revolves entirely around two twists. This was my second reading of it, so naturally I knew the twists going in. This really hurt the engagement with the novel. To be fair, I didn't find it terribly interesting the first time around either. Because of the heavy reliance on the twists, and the minimally sketched characters there isn't anything else to hang your interest on save the philosophical musings on utopia that motivate the sub-plots. I would generally say it is worth a read for sci-fi fans, but it won't turn you into a sci-fi fan if you aren't there already.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bookworming: Vision of the Future

Vision of the Future, Timothy Zhan, **
This volume concludes the story started in Spectre of the Past. Like the rest of the Zhan Star Wars books, I find it doesn't hold up as well as I remembered, and I didn't particularly remember this one  fondly to begin with. My primary issue with it is not having read the other "Extended Universe" books.  Future is steeped in the characters and events of those other books (and sets up what is apparently one of the most hated arcs in that loose series). As with its predecessor, it is more star diplomacy than Star Wars, and spread too thin between characters and through-lines. I suspect fans of the Star Wars novels might have a different opinion from mine, but this one is for them anyway.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kickstarter Became a Public Benefit Corporation

I had no idea such a thing as a Public Benefit Corporation existed in the U.S., but it does, and Kickstarter became one. Interesting stuff.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Quote of the Moment

Many years ago I listened to Rush Limbaugh regularly. I picked up on quite a few tricks. One of them was to be vague enough to allow countering of attacks using quotations as out of context. So I'm putting this note before the actual quote, because after several readings, I conclude that it is virtually impossible to determine what the subject of the indirect object "them" is in the following quotation. The most grammatically close definite object would have it referring to "the media", or "the Democrats", but it could also be referring to "the Republicans". In case anyone thinks I am making up the vague accusation, there is a paragraph that begins "They're a monopoly. It's amazing. They lost their monopoly, it will be 30 years ago...", so there you go. Anyway, on with the quote.

"But as I said last week, there's no desire to find any mutual common ground, because there isn't any, so it's senseless to seek compromise with them or reach across the aisle, show that we can compromise and govern together. In fact, that's all a bunch of garbage." - Rush Limbaugh, "LA Times Laments Loss of Liberal Media Monopoly", April 10, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bookworming: Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman, ****
Eminently readable. Tales of gods and monsters from ancient times often come off stilted due to language or cultural context translations, and this one suffers from none of that. Those expecting serious literature may be surprised how silly many of the tales are. Much like the Greek myths, the gods here are flawed, and the stories are often nonsensical. And yet, the imagery within persists. This is an easy choice for anyone with interest in mythology, especially if you have not read these tales before.