8.31.2012

a sexy, sexy post

Because life is short.

--A researcher at Harvard has reportedly found that "eight of the top ten porn-watching states voted Republican in the last presidential election." Actually, if you look at the study itself (always a good idea!), you'll see that "... these adult entertainment subscription patterns show a remarkable consistency...With interest in online adult entertainment relatively constant across regions, there’s little sign of a major divide." Either way, it seems that lots of people enjoy porn, so maybe going after it isn't such a political winner.

--Did you know that kangaroos have three vaginas? (Well, the females do, anyway.) You're not allowed to bring this up in the Michigan legislature.

--This has pretty much been my experience in the neighborhood this summer, too. I don't mind.

8.28.2012

this and that

It's probably going to continue to be slow around here for a while, since 1) I have another grant deadline looming, and finding the focus necessary is kind of herculean task for me these days, and 2) regarding the news cycle, I've pretty much passed from periodic rage through exhaustion and into boredom. (Does that count as progress?)

I'm not one of those people who likes to brag about how little TV I watch (I watch plenty of TV programing, I just don't watch it over the airwaves) but man I've never been more thankful to not have TV or radio adverts be much more than a fleeting presence in my life. How anyone puts up with the incessant messaging is beyond me.

I just finished reading this (it's excellent), I'm in the middle of this (enjoying it immensely) and I just ordered this (I should probably finish it before winter comes.)

I never thought I'd find myself linking favorably to David Brooks or Kathleen Parker, but I just did.

8.14.2012

back into the stack

This is the golden age of non-superhero comics.

Some stuff I've been enjoying lately:

Think Tank (Image) 

The first issue of Think Tank sold out immediately at my FNCS, so I had to acquire it by (ahem) other means. I will buy it when I can, because this is a book that deserves support.

A slacker genius works at DARPA, writing algorithms for the Predator drones. He's decided that he no longer wants to make instruments of mass death and destruction, and goes AWOL. Hilarity ensues.

This is actually a great companion piece to The Manhattan Projects, in that it also tackles our (justified) paranoia about the military-industrial complex, and places the scientist front and center as protagonist. Unlike TMP, however, which takes place in a fantastical alternate universe in which Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein have been replaced by evil doubles and FDR lives on as the world's first artificial intelligence, Think Tank feels very real and immediate. It's "science fiction", but other than technology that (probably) doesn't actually exist, it is taking place in our world, right now.

And it's funny.

Punk Rock Jesus (Vertigo)



Two issues (of a planned six) in, and Punk Rock Jesus has not yet lived up to its title, in that the titular character is still an infant and certainly not "punk", at least not yet. But he is a clone of the original Jesus Christ, derived from DNA extracted from the Shroud of Turin, born of a carefully chosen surrogate mother (virgin, naturally) and funded by a corporation for the sole purpose of creating the most successful reality show of all time: J2.

Man, I wish I had thought of that premise.

Is Chris really the second coming? Are his "miracles" legit, or just stunts for TV? Will the religious fanatics on both sides of the debate about his existence tear the country apart? And what does the IRA have to do with all of this?

It already feels like it could be a much longer series than six issues, so I'm anticipating the next four are going to be rather dense.

8.11.2012

an exercise in branding

I'm already on the record saying that Paul Ryan is a terrible VP pick if you actually care about the budget. I stand by that assessment. So I will offer two additional thoughts:

1. This is an exercise in branding. Romney doesn't have to have Ryan on the ticket to make the "Ryan budget" his policy. Moreover, Romney is no George Bush...he is not going to let a VP be the power behind the throne. Ryan's usefulness to Romney ends with the campaign regardless of who wins the election.

2. Not that I needed one, but this gives me yet another reason to cheer Romney's defeat: I'd much rather Ryan stay in Congress.

8.09.2012

is the "epic hack" story all that it seems?

This piece by Wired's Mat Honan has been getting a lot of play this week, and it should. I found it deeply unsettling, and amping up my digital security has been moved up to the top of my "to-do" list for this weekend. This is clearly the intended result.

Seriously, you should go read it right now, if you haven't already. Unless you live off the grid (and if you are reading this, you do not) this applies to you.

That said, there was a brief moment in NPR's coverage this morning that struck me as...not quite right. What follows is my transcription:

NPR: Now, you know who these hackers are because you've been in touch with them.

Honan: That's right, I set up a second Twitter account that night, and began communicating with the people who were in control of my Twitter account. I told one of them--and I've really only been in contact with one of them--they were apparently working as a team--that if he would tell me how he did all of this, that I would not press charges or take any action. So he then walked me through all the steps, and it was really eye-opening. 

OK, I understand that Honan is a writer who specializes in precisely these sorts of issues, so the notion that he's willing to forgive and forget such a devastating theft and invasion of his privacy for the sake of writing what could very well be the piece of his career--and one that will do a great deal of good--is entirely plausible. And he has a big enough presence on the web that it isn't hard to see why hackers might consider him an attractive target.

Here's what I have a hard time believing: that the hackers would do something like this, and then communicate with their victim, and give him exactly the information that he needs to write the story of his career. Doesn't that strike you as...a bit too good to be true?

I want to be really, really clear here that I am not accusing anyone of anything, and that I have nothing to base this question on other than my own bullshit detector. Maybe Honan really was that "lucky" and really is that magnanimous. And if so--good for him. Like I said, the information on security vulnerabilities he's putting out there is stuff people need to hear.

And hell, maybe the hackers see themselves as white hats, and exposing the security holes in Apple et al. was their ultimate goal to begin with, and that's why they hit Honan. After all, they probably could wreaked havoc on his credit cards or bank account if they wanted to. (And they probably could have targeted someone who has a hell of a lot more money than I imagine Honan does.) But to believe that, you also have to believe that they correctly anticipated Honan would a) get in touch with them, b) not simply sic the authorities on them, and c) be willing to publish a story in which he looks like kind of the fool, for someone who has built a career as a tech-savvy guy.

Maybe so. But man, it just feels like a script to me, and I have to wonder what's gone into the fact-checking on this story.

8.08.2012

clearing tabs

--The morning after the primary, Washington State looks bluer than ever. Even Jay Inslee is surprised.

--I don't think the Koch brothers are the malevolent force they are often painted to be, but they clearly lack a sense of humor.

--After watching The Avengers, I wondered if someone would finally realize that they just need to give Joss Whedon a big budget and let him do whatever he wants, and he will make them lots and lots of money. It looks like Disney has figured this out.

--The human body, at its peak, is a very beautiful thing. (Contains non-explicit, non-sexualized nudity.)

8.07.2012

thanks for making these assholes martyrs for free speech...



...Mr. President, et al.:

Under the new legislation, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service. The law counters a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which found that displays such as Westboro's were protected under the First Amendment.

Which of course means that WBC will in all likelihood be back before the Supreme Court in a few years. And they will likely win. And they should.

This is a very short-sighted move by both the president and congress. Hardly surprising in an election year, of course.

8.02.2012

not about values

It's not about what anybody says about gay marriage. Really, it isn't. It's about what they do:

Two organizations that work very hard to maintain this status quo and roll back any protections that [gay people] may have are the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation. For example, the Family Research council leadership has officially stated that same-gender-loving behavior should be criminalized in this country. They draw their pay, in part, from the donations of companies like Chick-Fil-A. Both groups have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations.


Chick-Fil-A has given roughly $5M to these organizations to support their work.

Chick-Fil-A’s money comes from the profits they make when you purchase their products.

This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.

Asking for “mutual tolerance” on this like running up to a bully beating a kid to death on the playground and scolding them both for not getting along. I’m not trying to dissolve Mr. Cathy’s marriage or make his sex illegal. I’m not trying to make him a second-class citizen, or get him killed. He’s doing that to me, folks; I’m just fighting back.

All your life, you’re told to stand up to bullies, but when WE do it, we’re told WE are the ones being intolerant? Well, okay. Yes. I refuse to tolerate getting my ass kicked. “Guilty as charged.”

(Emphases added throughout)

Do I think eating at Chick-fil-a makes one a horrible person? No, I do not. Do I think that calling for a boycott is going to hurt their bottom line? No, I do not, and I never did. Do I think that besides giving money to some morally reprehensible organizations, they do a great deal of good in their communities and are generally a good employer? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.



But I also think that it is completely fair to call attention to where that money goes, and how it is used. This isn't about a benign expression of personal values. It is about actively working to maintain and expand a second-class existence for a minority of people.

I guess if you support that, you aren't necessarily a bigot. But you definitely are on their side.