Showing posts with label news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label news. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Post Today

Sadly, I've no pearls of wisdom to bestow upon you.

Just...  nothing really going on.  Did some reading.  Watched more of the North America documentary.  Exercised.  And, of course, watched the news.

Let's all wish the best for those in the Oklahoma City area, particularly Moore.  I'm heartbroken to hear of the deaths reported from the scene.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taking a night - blast in West, Texas

Man, this week.

As you may have heard, there has been an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, a town Texans are familiar with as its on the I-35 corridor between Austin and Dallas, and home to the locally famous Czech Stop (we have a long history of Czech communities in Texas).

As of now, reports are coming in that there are over one-hundred injured and possibly dozens dead.

Red Cross and emergency crews are headed to West from all over.  Twitter-pal Ruiz mentioned he knows his workplace sent crews to the scene.

This was a terrible accident, and not the insanity of the Boston bombings, but it's damaged a huge part of a town here in Texas.  Obviously.

We're going to take a pass on blogging further tonight.


Monday, April 15, 2013

With Boston, With Us All

My former co-worker and pal, Octavio, ran in the Boston Marathon today.  It was how I found out anything was happening.  His message on facebook basically read "Not sure what happened at the finish line, but Johanna and I are okay."

And I am grateful that the first thing I knew about what was happening in Boston was that despite the fact that something clearly very bad had happened (and I understood the scale within a minute or two), the one person I knew who could have been right there was all right.

Like all of you, I spent the afternoon trying to work, but really checking news sites and social media, wincing a bit at the folks who clearly came on line to post and had no idea what was happening in the world as they did so.  It's a forgivable faux pas in 2013, and I'm not sure that the fact that we've seen it before makes me feel better.

I scrolled through quotes from Mr. Rogers and the other messages shared on Facebook over and over, or retweeted on the twitters until it became an echo chamber.  In any other case, it might be one of those things that drives you nuts, but here, today, it's psychic armor.

We're learning, too.

Folks out there in the social media reminded each other not to let the media's early reports rush us like cattle into those narrow chutes of narrative.  And somehow we agreed it was all right to not have answers immediately.

We're getting good at this, and I'm not sure that's ideal, but it's better than the talking heads and the pointing fingers (pointing the finger of blame for our karmic retribution seems remote and archaic).  Since we saw the Federal building smoldering in Oklahoma City, us Gen Xers have known the feeling in the pit of our stomachs that our parents knew from the assassinations and disasters we saw in movies and read about in class.  These days, all of us know how to brace ourselves as cable news goes berserk, the internet lights up and, in the first 24 hours, stories pretending to be facts get passed in front of us like a shell game.

We know the score.  Maybe not exactly when it happens in our doorway, but we know it when it when the push alerts come though, the emails arrive and that casual look at a headline stops us in our tracks.  

Whether for political reasons or otherwise, the cowardice and cruelty of the bombing is infused with the self-absorbed fantasies of the men who've flown planes into buildings, shot up elementary schools and movie theaters, delivered by someone believing themselves a protagonist in a delusional narrative who honestly believes that somehow the murder of innocent people fulfills some story in their head in which they are a hero.

It doesn't matter what the perpetrator believed they were achieving - they failed.  What I saw were police literally running into action, paramedics and doctors who signed up for the marathon who thought they might get case of dehydration during the race finding themselves in an unthinkable situation, demonstrating what it means to have decency and courage.  Athletes who went from running 26 miles to donate blood.  Bystanders leaping into action to assist the wounded.  People opening their homes to take in those who were stranded.

Tonight, baseball was played.  People carried on.  We might have a few months of some folks who have second thoughts about joining crowds in public, bags taken into a stadium might get a second look, or we might have a few new procedures for security to follow, but whatever they thought they were doing, the attacker gained nothing and just managed to show us, one more time, what people can be when times when times turn dark, no matter how abruptly.

Tonight, tomorrow, for as long as it takes, we're all with Boston, and for the good in us that I truly believe will always shine in these moments of darkness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

For Pope Benedict as he departs office

Apparently, in 2005, I welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the job with this post...

So, so much has changed since 2005.

We lost Jackson, YouTube became a thing you could embed....

As Pope Ben leaves office, let's hear it one more time...



That's right, I've been blogging longer than a Pope's tenure in office.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Orson Scott Card Conundrum - Social Ideals and The Purchase of a Superman Comic

All right, here we go.

I don't really want to write this post, but it's about Superman, it's in the news, etc..

Famed Sci-Fi writer Orson Scott Card has some social views that are well known within the comics and sci-fi "communities".  Card has written some highly successful work such as the famed Ender's Game (which I haven't read), and started working in comics a bit with Ultimate Iron Man several years ago now (also - haven't read).

Specifically, Card takes issue with homosexuality and gay marriage.  He sits on the board of an organization that is more or less dedicated to opposing gay marriage in the US, the National Organization for Marriage.

Last week, when the new Adventures of Superman was announced, Card was listed among the writers, and (if you're keeping score), specifically, he was one of the creators associated with the project that made me blink a bit while reviewing the roster of talent.

Full disclosure:  I am fully in support of marriage rights for the LGBT community and believe that this is the civil rights issue of our generation.  Fundamentally, I believe in extending the same legal privileges to all consenting adults in a free society, and am against legal loopholes or half-measures that would place legal or social restrictions on someone based upon race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.  </ lefty boilerplate>

The questions then arise:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Siegel/ Superman Case Seems to Wrap It Up (For Now)

According to the articles I read Thursday, Warner Bros. is back to owning/ maintaining/ safeguarding with an army of lawyers - the rights to Superman, more or less as we've always known the character.  A judge somewhere far, far up the court system food chain (but not the Supreme Court) invalidated a 2008 decision to give the Siegel family many rights - essentially anything that had appeared in Action Comics #1 - and reverted the rights to Superman based upon a 2001 agreement that was more or less a "here's a pile of cash as a royalty" deal.

I won't get into the legal maneuvering too much, but it is a sordid, weird tale with attorneys with shady motivations, break-in's at law offices and all sorts of nonsense.  As this whole process has gone on and on, nobody in this has come out a hero, and it seems like the Siegels will get a bundle of money, but not the rights to Superman.*

I have stated before that the Superman comics have been a bit of a disaster in The New 52 because so much of the character was going to be affected if WB lost the case.  They had some part of Superman, just as the Siegels would have a very raw version of Superman.  They had an alien character with exciting powers and the highly licensable Superman shield.  But what else?

By virtue of owning Action Comics #1, the Siegels might have owned things like:

Friday, December 14, 2012

A moment of silence

My thoughts are with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary and Newtown, Connecticut.

There are no words, and so I'll not try to provide them.  Take a moment for the families, and one for your loved ones.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

TX Panhandle, TX Secession and the Freakout in Comic Culture over CosPlay Girls

For some reason, I am in the Texas Panhandle.

It's work related.  In theory, I should be home in 48 hours.

It is safe to say I am about done with the schedule I've been on for the past 6 weeks or so and the Thanksgiving Holiday cannot really come fast enough.  I could really use some time just laying very still while someone else makes cornbread stuffing and lets me silently appreciate the Rockettes during their number at the Macy's Parade.

if loving the Rockettes is wrong, I don't want to be right

TX Secession

I know it made headlines, but the petition sent to the White House and chatter about Texas seceding is all that it is.  Chatter.  The petition doesn't have enough signatures to fill half of DKR Memorial Stadium, and a whole lot of those aren't from Texas.  I expect that in the years to come "secession" will be the pouty rallying cry of Texans wishing they could take their ball and go home when things don't go the way of insignificant politians from scrubby, backwater towns in The Lone Star State (seriously, press, stop giving these people a megaphone).

Monday, November 12, 2012

I am returned, briefly. Also, Jason's front page story.

I just got back from visiting family in Tallahassee, Florida where a good chunk of my relatives dwell.  Nice weekend, great town.  It's a blur at this point.

Tuesday I depart for the northwesterly regions of Texas, and will return Thursday.  And I sort of refuse to travel again until after Christmas.

By the way, Jason was on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman!  As some of you know, my brother is a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas.  As such, he does sometimes put away bad guys or deal with crooks, but the last few years he's been working in a Veterans' Court assisting former service men and women who are having issues, primarily associated with PTSD.

there's ol' Beard-Face himself on the left, making JUSTICE
You can read the story here, which doesn't really mention Jason or his role, but it's all about his office.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Barack Obama Wins Four More Years

I'm posting this to have a clear record.  This post will go up Thursday morning, but I stayed up far, far too late on Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning watching NBC and ABC news covering the election, beginning around 10:00.

Most of you will guess who I voted for, but this isn't a political blog, and we're not going to dwell on the particulars of who received which vote from me.

I will say I am pleased that Austin voted in geographic representation to the City Council, doing away with the At-Large system that had - as Austin has grown - meant that areas (like the 78745) were not necessarily feeling the love from a city council focused on growth in the urban corridor and leaving those of us in Lower Austin out of future development plans for things we can use, like mass transit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Texas Voting Demographics

This is interesting.

click to enlarge

There's no point here except that I thought I'd share some actual representations of information. I just never really have a feel for Texas' voting patterns outside of Austin and that the majority of Texas is red.

We often say "Austin is a little blue dot in the middle of the state", and that's true.  What I didn't know was that Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and El Paso would be blue, and I really didn't know The Valley was that blue.


By this time, we should be having a bit of this...

My pre-loaded post for election night as I avoid the internet and television.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Obviously, I don't need to tell you about the horrible storm and its aftermath

Holy cats, y'all.  I confess that I thought the storm, Hurricane Sandy, was going to be the bajillionth false alarm the 24-hour news cycle mutants had thrown at us in the past few years.  Keep in mind, I'm the guy who refused to leave the house for most of a Saturday because I thought I was going to see a tsunami hit Hawaii and then it was just some mildly choppy waves.  That was a tremendous let down.

In retrospect, that probably doesn't make me sound like a good person, and I probably could have kept that to myself.

But Sandy was and is all too real.  I don't need to tell you that.

I am a little disappointed that somehow Disney buying Star Wars seems like bigger news than the potential weather-related damage to our economy, infrastructure and political system, but: priorities, I guess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cap is a Write-In for President In a Comic Somewhere

As we head into election season, the online media looks for click-fodder, and Marvel and DC think up events that will get headlines rather than sell some damn comics...

Was I surprised to read on a mainstream news site that Captain America is going to become President of the United States in the "Ultimate" version of the Marvel Universe?  Well, yeah.  I mean, that's a pretty drastic idea.  Of course, I haven't followed the Ultimate universe in a while, and last I checked they'd also killed off Peter Parker, half the X-Men, and, I think, basically gone "dystopian" with their version of the world.  So, you know, whatever.



I mean, Cap over in the mainline Marvel U pondered a run circa 1980 (we got Reagan instead, who, while charming, couldn't have taken Batroc the Leaper).  And Superman was elected President in one of those "Imaginary Stories" back in the day, Lex won the election in 2000 as a third party candidate (with Superman's childhood pal, Pete Ross, as VP), and Morrison made a version of Superman President who appeared as recently as Action Comics #9 (Volume 2).  And, Superman has been the Prime Minister of Russia over in Red Son.  And that doesn't include the dozens of times Superman went crazy and declared himself either king of the gorillas, some locality or of all the Earth.

Back in the 1970's, Batgirl served in Congress for a number of years (it was insane).  And, of course, one must never forget DC oddball youth-culture-appeal character Prez Rickard.

and the President thought he'd really discovered something when he watched  his first Kubrick movie...
So, basically, comics are full of crazy-brained stunts and goofy ideas about our elected (and not-elected) leaders.  They always have been, and I guess they always will be.  I'm glad that superhero comics aren't above the sort of wacky story telling that leads to stuff like Batgirl running for office, but I'm an old reader and seeing Cap sworn in as President on a write-in vote doesn't exactly blow my mind.  I hope younger readers feel differently.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A few things. I'm going to bed.

Into the long weekend.  Here we go.

1.  The mother-in-law, Judy, has returned home!  This is big news.  She'll be receiving rehabilitation at home for a while, and then, I guess, maybe at a clinic.  But watching her progress over the last 20 days or so has been absolutely stunning.  And, if I can step back a pace, it's also been completely fascinating.

Judy had damage in her speech center, and so in the days immediately following her surgery, she couldn't say much.  And then more words came, and she could sometimes communicate what she wanted, but not very often.  It's this slow build up.  You can tell all the words are on the hard drive, and her thoughts are complete, but she's having trouble accessing a lot of her vocabulary.  So while she isn't slurring not is there any loss of that fashion, she might not remember a word like "California".  Even after you say "California".

The really interesting bit is what is there.  A lot of phrases are there completely intact, and if you want her to sing a song she knows, she can do it from beginning to end.  I sat with her last week and a commercial came on which used "Blue Skies", and when it ended, she sang the whole song.  She does this with great regularity.  Apparently, songs and phrases are in an easy-to-reach part of the memory bank.

Anyway, Jamie went down today and worked with her and hung out.  I think I'm going down Sunday.  But it's great to have Judy home and I am sure my father-in-law, Dick, is pretty pleased to not be sitting on the couch or chair in the hospital.  Kudos to him for all the hard work.

2.  The RNC is on but I haven't watched a minute, just as I haven't watched a convention since high school, so no news there.  I'm not really following the election except via Factcheck.org, and, people... it's not pretty coming from either side. Let's just say I think we had a good run with this "democracy" idea, but we may need to move onto the Philosopher-King model.

I would also pitch the notion that we just let a council of scientists who would judge you via videoconference rule us.  The one flaw in this plan would be if they ignored crucial, planet-saving scientific evidence.  Which would never happen.

3.  The annual sale is on at Austin Books and Comics, so if you're in town and want half-off on back issues or to go raid the back-issue store, they're open all weekend.  

I had dinner with PalKevin who does not read comics, but he wanted to go with me to ABC afterward, and it was fun walking around with him.  I found out he's read all the John Carter books (we agreed to disagree on the movie), but I had a harder time actually selling him on any comics.

As a man who already owns a lot of comics, I do have a strategy.  I basically knew of a bunch of back issues I wanted that I didn't want to pay full-price for, and I just waited until this week, and then I bought them.  I didn't really look for anything new, and yet, somehow, I was able to spend money.  I was a bit more impulsive at the Sidekick Store, but not too much.  I realize I am getting picky about the conditions of my Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane issues, and I'm not ready to start with reader copies unless its a book I've just not seen out before.

Came home with a lot of Joe Kubert drawn comics, including Tor, Our Army at War and others.  And I picked up the DC Christmas Special with the John Byrne drawn Enemy Ace story which I've had in reprints, but, you know.  Enemy Ace.


Friday, August 24, 2012

On Lance Armstrong and Pyrrhic Victory

Well done, anti-doping agency.  

You know, its too bad if Lance Armsotrong did dope.  It certainly left a lot of questions around his 7 Tour victories.  But here's kind of what I think:

It's a bicycle race.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gleiberman's article in EW on Pop Culture and The Dissipation of Empathy

NathanC posted a link to an Owen Gleiberman editorial on the Entertainment Weekly website in which Gleiberman, a longtime film critic/ reviewer for EW discusses his perceptions of the obsessions of pop culture and how they come back in mutated form in incidents like the one in Aurora, Colorado.

It's not a huge secret around our house that I don't hold Gleiberman's taste in very high regard, and you can pretty much count on his befuddlement when it comes to genre pictures (Jamie has had a subscription to EW since around 1995, so we've had opportunity to discuss the man's writing).

I won't say I don't echo some of Gleiberman's thoughts, but the more I thought about the article and it's constant accusations, backtracking on the accusations with a "I'm just saying" statement - the more I found it a bit disturbing.

I encourage you to pop over and read the article on your own.  It's free.

Let me clear the decks first and roll my eyes at Gleiberman's creeping assertions about fanboy culture and his ability to finally have a way to express his discomfort with the phenomena.  Exasperation with sci-fi/ comics/ fantasy and the culture around them has been an ongoing theme in his reviews for a decade.  He basically is both aware of and flustered by the fact that these people will not listen to reason when he can demonstrably prove his favorite Meryl Streep movie is of more value than Serenity.  So, in a way, I'm not all that surprised by the path he goes down here.  I'm more surprised that he bothered to point out so many other examples of media-influenced killers, basically only identified Holmes, and went on with the charge of associating fan culture with a breeding ground for mass killers.

That said, his definition of "fanboy" extends to "pretty much anybody with an obsessive interest in a bit of media".  Of course, he mentions local nightmare Charles Whitman in making the case, a person with no particular interest linked to any media, but who also killed a lot of people.  He dismisses the long history of disturbing, mass or serial killings (Devil in the White City, Lizzy Borden, the fact that modern police work, a lack of records and immediate communication meant people just used to disappear and nobody noticed, etc... et al....  anybody?  anybody?) believing that only Jack the Ripper ever got more than one person before 1950.

Friday, July 20, 2012

On the events in Colorado at the screening of "The Dark Knight Rises"

You see the phrase "we are saddened" expressed by PR wings when a tragedy strikes.  We can read between the lines and know that in many cases, the employees of the company may well be saddened, but the need to create a quick press release that admits participation while denying culpability is at the core of the statement.

But today, I am actually and truly saddened by the events at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Auroroa, Colorado.  As of this writing, what information I have found states that 12 to 13 people are dead, and many more wounded.  A gunman took the opportunity presented by a darkened theater and a room full of people with their attention elsewhere, and he took it upon himself to unleash horror.  Words fail me.


I arrived at work in a Batman t-shirt today and had not checked the news aside from the weather report.  Jim, the manager at the coffee shop, is a former comic geek (and now a barista by day and a reservist soldier on the weekend.  Great guy.) asked me if I was wearing the shirt "because of Colorado".  And then he saw my blank stare.  "You haven't heard..."  And he explained what he knew to me.

I'm not buttoning up the sport shirt I'm wearing over the bat symbol.  Batman didn't kill these people.  And despite my misgivings about some of the messaging about Batman and taking the law into one's owns hands that I expressed yesterday, part of why I think I can continue to embrace Batman as symbol is that Batman is , at the end of the day, a statement of defiance against cruelty and terror.  I haven't seen the final installment of the trilogy, but I can say that in mining the Batman mythos of the past 70 years, what Christopher Nolan dug up was the ability of a man to confront fear and let it pass over him and through him and let it become nothing.  In Dark Knight, we saw what seeming chaos looks like as a man wants to watch the world burn, and the choices we can make, even supposedly the worst of us, in those moments where we're put to the test - whether we give in to fear - those moments matter for all of us.

So, I put on the shirt with a smile on my face when I got dressed today, but now I'm wearing the shirt in mourning.  And, if I'm allowed to use the word, in defiance.

Be prepared for American politics to go crazy today talking about how the other side made this possible.  But those are cowards seeking an opportunity.  Nobody made this crazy person pick up guns or smoke bombs.  This was a person looking for an excuse and an opportunity.  This is when we decide how we'll react, and how we choose to respond shows who we really are.

Today we should be looking to Colorado not for answers, nor for blame, but out of respect for the dead and wounded.  I am very truly saddened, and I am very truly sorry.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

No News is Good News?

You know what I'm a sucker for?  The news.

You know what I haven't seen in the past 10 years?

There's an article on Yahoo! News (your place for breaking info on the Olsen Twins' fashion faux pas) about CNN as a Zombie news network.  

The conclusion:
And it may be that CNN's legendary objectivity is part of the problem. The network has always prided itself on covering the news with an even hand, but more partisan networks like Fox News and MSNBC have stolen away viewers by taking sides in the growing culture war and offering strong opinions with a conservative or liberal slant. CNN may win on journalistic integrity, but they're losing on passion.
Well, not for me and certainly not for anyone I talk to.  I may slant left, but I won't watch MSNBC because I don't need the news spun to me so that I'll nod like a muppet meeting the celebrity guest when Rachel Maddow comes on to tell me how smart we all are for agreeing with her.  


No, I quit watching CNN because they quit airing the news.  We all know that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A round-up of things (Cap Soldier Dad, UT political cartoon, Batman in his Lambo)

Hi guys!

Over the past few days I've received a few links from you guys, and I guess its appropriate to comment.

Cap Homecoming

If you haven't seen the video of the little boy receiving a visit from Captain America for his birthday, and then learning that the unmasked Cap is the dad he thought was in Afghanistan where he's serving, then you really need to watch it.



An amazing and poignant moment, and a reminder that the US military is a volunteer military of men and women who are also fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Here's to all of our Captain Americas coming home.


Yes, I saw the Gawker article and cartoon.  Yes, that's The Daily Texan.

Yes, The Daily Texan is the student paper at UT Austin where I went to school and currently work.  Yes, its embarrassing.

I have literally no idea what the cartoonist was thinking, but contextually, just the use of the word "colored", which is only used in Texas in a weird, gallows humor sort of way to suggest backwards thinking, tells me that this cartoonist was trying to make a point which never quite made it into the strip, and instead just made UT's daily student paper look backward and racist.

If the cartoonist was trying to make a point about how the matronly and condescending media is telling the story by framing the story to a child-like audience to scare them, then...  okay.  I guess I get it even if I don't buy necessarily buy that interpretation.  You'd pretty much need to be handed a few sign posts to get you there.

From looking at the rest of the cartoonist's work on the Texan website, all of her strips (if you want to call them that) are terribly inept and seem to fail to actually convey anything other than a general sense of "I watched CNN last night" and a bit of anger at someone running for student government*.  Frankly, political cartooning is hard.  The skill to create icons and symbolism to convey your opinion or some greater truth with a 2 second glance is hard to come by.  Even among comic nerds, political cartooning gets a certain level of respect for the difficult task it represents.  This student gets an F in cartooning.

But, pulling Eisner's work would mean The Daily Texan would then need to either fill that space with another cartoon (and lord knows how hard that would be to find), or run an ad for Forbidden Fruit or Tom's Tabooley or something.  I just wish the editor or faculty advisor had been able to make a better decision before letting this see print.

Update:  Eisner more or less admitted she screwed up the cartoon.  


Yes, I saw that a guy who owns a Lamborghini apparently likes to dress up as Batman

And I saw that the cops pulled him over for having a bat-symbol, I believe, as his license plate.

Several comics sites talked about the guy, and who can blame them?  A dude who owns a completely amazing black Lamborghini dressed himself up as Batman and drove around in the car (with the top down), pretty much doing what every single person in the world has always wanted to do.

Some were saying this guy does this for kids or a charity or something.  Really, I don't know why he does it, but he's okay in my book.


Speaking of Batman

Here's every window cameo on the 1960's Batman program with Adam West and Burt Ward.

And how can you go wrong hiring Andy Devine to play Santa?  I will tell you:  You cannot.


My Personal Bug-a-Boo of the Day

Mixing historical figures with genre tropes is getting played out.  Especially when you can tell that neither the artist nor the person writing the article (a) realizes this, or (b) realizes that this one in particular was done a long time ago and better as "Tales from the Bully Pulpit".

No, I don't care about the Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter movie.


Thanks to everyone for thinking of me and sending me links!  Keep them coming.


*dear students:  these elections will never matter anywhere, to anyone but to sad people reading grad school applications in basements