Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Eh, links

Famous Landmarks Zoomed Out so you can see them from angles you normally don't, including the bits around them that aren't so picturesque.

I quite enjoy the Cliff Mass Weather Blog, especially when he debunks badly researched news stories.

For Easter, Previews posted some comic book Easter eggs.

While I have lots and lots of reusable grocery bags, I still want this one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Women...and everything

More hostility to women in comic book fandom. And other areas. Which leads us to other issues surrounding women and ... well, everything.

I'm not a big fan of Upworthy, because I prefer reading to videos and Upworthy generally doesn't have any transcripts for its videos. But this video is worth watching.

And, if you would prefer to read it instead:

Audience question:
What's up with chicks and science?

Slightly off topic, nonetheless interesting. It's science education. Does anyone want to field... maybe if there are genetic differences between men and women that explain why more men are in science? Does anyone want to touch that?

Neil deGrasse Tyson:
I've never been female.

But I have been black my whole life, and, so, let me perhaps offer some insight from that perspective, because there are many similar social issues related to access to equal opportunity that we find in the black community as well as in the community of women, in a white male dominated society, and I'll be brief, 'cause I want to try to get more questions.

When I look at, throughout my life, I've noticed that I've wanted to do astrophysics since I was nine years old, my first visit to the Hayden Planetarium. I was a little younger than Victor at the time, although he did it before I did. And so I got to see how the world around me reacted to my expression of these ambitions, and all I can say is, the fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist, was, hands down, the path of most resistance through the forces of nature, the forces of society.

Any time I expressed this interest, teachers would say, 'Oh, don't you want to be an athlete? Oh, don't you want to-' I wanted to become something that was outside of the paradigms of expectation of the people in power. And so, fortunately my depth of interest was so deep, and so fueled, enriched, that every one of these curveballs that I was thrown, and fences built in front of me, and hills that I had to climb, I just leaped for more fuel and I kept going.

Now here I am, one, I think, one of the most visible scientists in the land, and I want to look behind, and say 'where are the others who might have been this?' and they're not there, and I wonder, how, who, what is the blood on the tracks that I happened to survive that others did not, simply because of the forces of society that prevented, at every turn, at every turn, to the point where I have security guards following me as I go through department stores, presuming that I'm a thief.

I walked out of a store one time, and the alarm went off, and, so they came running to me. I walked through the gate at the same time a white male walked through the gate, and that guy just walked off with the stolen goods, knowing that they would stop me and not him. That's an interesting exploitation of this, what a scam that was! I think people should do that more often.

So my life experience tells me that when you don't find blacks in the sciences, you don't find women in the sciences, I know that these forces are real, and I had to survive them in order to get where I am today. So before we talk about genetic differences, you've got to come up with a system where there's equal opportunity, then we can have that conversation.

Photograph by Cutty McGill, Penworld Magazine

The emphasis is mine. Any time the playing field is leveled, the "inferior" people always catch up. Always. There is no genetic inferiority between genders or ethnicities in broad categories like this. Individuals vary, but populations... when there is a completely level playing field... generally show far more equality in talents and skills than is assumed by people who are comfortably sitting at the top of the heap.

That moderator ought to be utterly ashamed to have even suggested that a genetic difference accounts for the lack of women in science when all a person has to do is look at how women are treated when they attempt to go into scientific fields to see why that gap exists.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Peep Show

The Seattle Times Annual Peeps contest winners...

"Seattle Peephawks Trophy" by Debbie Doty and Kerry Smith
Lots of Seahawks-themed entries. I also like the Doctor Who themed ones. There are some pretty creative entries this year, but then... this is a Seattle tradition and every year has a few truly awe-inspiring entries.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 19th
  • Batman and Aquaman #29 - Without knowing the whole story behind what Batman is doing, this is still a pretty good and almost self-contained issue. Aquaman has some good lines and real action. Overall, very very nice.
  • Trinity of Sin: Pandora #9 - Without the rest of the crossover issues, this doesn't make a lot of sense. But hey, more Sea King! (ok, yeah, a single panel).
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #29 - Nice little story, built up with a nice little contradiction. Still just Kyle, but at least the story he wandered into isn't boring.
  • Batman Beyond Universe #8 - AQUAMAN!!! Ok, that was unexpected and yet, strangely fitting. Why not reintroduce Aquaman just to... *sigh* Gonna go cry now. Oh, Batman stories were ok.
  • Batman '66 #9 - While the Zelda story was cute, I thought the Alfred story was even better, personally.
  • Scribblenauts Unmasked #3 - Aquaman is so cute in this book! So is Mera, and Manta and just about every other character. Aquaman's story gets a full page. Whee!

After reading Fortean Times #292, I snagged a copy of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James from Gutenberg to see if I'd ever read any of his stories before. I suppose it's because of my general avoidance of horror, but none of the tales in the book were familiar. At first I scoffed a little at the end of the stories and thought to myself, "That's it? That's not scary..." but then each story worked its way into my head, like a burrowing worm. Each story was surprisingly terrifying on reflection, with so much left unsaid in each one. This is classic horror. This is horror done right. This is the stuff that should give people true nightmares. There's an ongoing theme in the stories of a lack of closure. Sure, the tale is told, the victims generally survive... but there are no answers. No solutions. Just stop-gap efforts at holding back entropy. Creepy as all get out, but incredibly satisfying in the end. I'm going to sum up each story in my own words. I've decided against making notes on every tale, as spoilers would be tragic for anyone who hasn't read these yet and intends to.
  • Canon Alberic's Scrap-book - A photographer makes a spectacular find in a sleepy French village, only to discover it comes with a price not tallied in money.
  • Lost Hearts - A young orphan goes to live with his elderly cousin and finds nightmares waiting.
  • The Mezzotint - A man procuring items for a library takes possession of a rather unusual engraving of a manor house.
  • The Ash-tree - The Lord of a manor learns that having an ash tree next to the house is not good luck.
  • Number 13 - A lack of room number 13 doesn't mean that nobody is staying in it. I love the use of shadows in this one.
  • Count Magnus - Out writing a travel journal, a man becomes obsessed with a Count long dead.
  • 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' - A professor stumbles over an ancient artifact while on a golfing vacation. This is widely considered the finest ghost story M.R. James ever wrote. I do not disagree. It almost made me swear off bedsheets.
  • The Treasure of Abbot Thomas - A man long-dead plays a terrible prank on anyone who would hunt for his treasure.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Go Read a Book

Friday, April 18, 2014

Linking on a Friday night...

Texts from Superheroes. Superman's pediatrician...

How to build your own pug.

The most surprising banned books. It's always amazing what people find so offensive that they insist on trying to protect other people from it... even when those other people don't want to be protected.

More on the misogynist comic boys. And, just in case you want another view, check out this Shortpacked comic that shows the false equivalence men often bring up when they talk about the portrayal of men in comics. Today's Shortpacked also mentions the current uproar.

Click for full comic

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Take a look, it's in a book...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


As a reporter, I sometimes need to be out where it's slightly dangerous. A neat safety vest is something I ought to get sometime. I just would want to put my company's logo on it.

The Cliff Mass Weather Blog reports on strange cloud lines. SCIENCE!

I wanna make some notebooks.

The BBC has posted some totally wonderful pictures of a 13-year-old girl using a golden eagle to hunt in Mongolia.

How the Muppets created Generation X. I still firmly believe that a person who has never worked with the Muppets is not a real star. Any so-called TV, movie or music stars that came along since the Muppet Show first aired but haven't worked with the Muppets? Not stars. They are all wannabes. Please note: working with the Muppets does not automatically make you a real star, but you cannot be a real star unless you have worked with the Muppets.

And now an unpleasant topic... women are being harassed for being comic book fans with opinions again. This is, sadly, nothing new. Fanboys of all types of things: comics, sports, science... whatever it is... often feel threatened when women start to intrude on the boys' clubs with a different perspective and new attitudes. While I tend to believe that the boys who are actually actively hostile are a vast minority, they tend to be vocal and nasty. A bigger problem is that many men have utterly no clue that the abuse is happening, even when they witness it. The result is that the stupid boys feel justified, or at least comfortable, in continuing to be aggressively horrible. Andy Khouri talks about the latest demonstration of idiocy, as does Brett White.

Look, I don't know the solution, if there is one, but I sure hope that the men out there will pay enough attention to recognize when the boys are acting up and call them on it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hey, more links! This is just like old times!

A statue of Jesus has stirred some controversy in a wealthy neighborhood. One woman even called the police on it.

People matching their bodies to book covers.

Mysterious floating black rings are cool. The world is full of neat stuff.

There's a real need for good microscopes in the developing world, but they can be expensive and hard to maintain. Enter the Foldscope. A paper-printed microscope that costs less than a dollar to make and could help doctors identify pathogens or just mean that kids can carry a microscope in their pockets... SCIENCE!

Focus testing the Green Lantern Animated Series, with a bit about why Bruce Timm thinks such focus groups are idiotic.

The Eisner nominees are up. I haven't read most of them, and a couple are in my to-read pile.

It's hard not to be a fan of a baseball team when they pull antics like this. Via Elayne.

That whole Nevada thing? The Atlantic explains it pretty well. In short, the guy stopped paying grazing fees that his family had been paying for generations and mooched off government-owned land, and now he has a bunch of fellow moronic traitors supporting his view that he can stiff the government of millions of dollars.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Cherry trees... FROM SPACE!!! (actually, it's a pretty interesting story, and I wonder what caused the trees to bloom so early? Science is awesome)

An explanation of fracking by Darryl Cunningham is available to read online right now. I'll even try to embed it here:

Moving on, there's an excellent ad for Doctor Who that fans of the show ought to see:

Spoilers! Blastr talks about the shocking event on the most recent Game of Thrones episode. As I have read the books, I keep time with the series by how people are reacting to it instead of watching it. The Red Wedding reactions were absolutely classic.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Sunday Review

This week's movie was Frozen. Yup. Finally saw it. I'm not really certain what to say. I guess my first thought after it was over was, "Why on earth did this movie become a cultural touchstone?" I mean, it's not that it was bad. It just wasn't nearly as fantastic as people have made it out to be. There were a few plot oddities. A couple of good plot twists. The music was lovely. But overall, I'm just not sure what the big deal is. I suspect I would have enjoyed it much more if I hadn't gone into watching it with the knowledge that it has become so popular. I was expecting a lot more, and I think high expectations kind of ruined it for me.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 12th
  • Justice League of America #13 - As I suspected, but I'm really getting tired of this storyline and how long it's taking to play out. Just finish already.
  • Green Lantern Corps #29 - And, once again, everything ramps up a little more with another revelation.
  • Justice League 3000 #4 - And so the brutal secret comes out. And everybody is in danger yet again. Whee.
  • Smallville Alien #4 - So the Smallville universe is headed toward the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Whee?
  • Astro City #10 - There was no way I could predict the ending, because there seemed to be no way out. I'm pleased with what happened. This is a great book, one that nearly brought tears to my eyes yet again.
  • Beasts of Burden: Hunter Gatherers - Oh man. I wish this was the first issue in a new mini-series and not a one-shot! Especially since it ends on a part-cliffhanger. Excellent as usual, well worth getting if you like paranormal stuff and our furry friends at all.
  • Spongebob Comics #30 - I had a feeling that opening story was going to end that way. The usual stuff.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Celebrate Homeopathy Awareness Week by learning what it really is and what it does (and doesn't) do.

The LA Times has an interactive game of How to be a Writer. My first try I scored incredibly high. I've yet to duplicate it.

Celebrate National Library Week with free access to a bunch of great resources at Oxford University Press.

I kind of want this solar powered speaker.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Want to understand what Heartbleed is?

Worried about Heartbleed? xkcd explains it in a way that most folks should be able to understand. It's pretty important to be aware of Heartbleed, because there is a decent chance you have been affected by it.

Click to get the full comic. This is just a couple of panels. You need to see the whole thing.
Click for full comic. This is just a couple of panels. You need to see the whole thing.

To see if a site you use regularly was hit, visit this site and enter your URL. Lastpass is a password management system, I use Keepass, personally, but if you want to be safe online, you should definitely be using a password management system. No one can possibly remember the types of passwords that are actually secure. Or remember a different password for every single site you regularly use.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


You may have heard about a nasty bug in website scripts that allows people to access just about all the private info stored on those websites. This website is running tests to find out which sites are vulnerable. If a site you use regularly is on their most recent list, there isn't any point in changing the password yet. But you should probably change passwords across the board once people are on top of this bug.

Ok, on a lighter note, ever wondered about costumes that get recycled from movie to movie? Well, there's a tumblr for that. I like this one, an early Doctor Who/Star Wars crossover. And then there's a modern Doctor Who costume, sort of. Via Elayne.

More analysis has been done on a fragment of papyrus that is apparently from the Gospel of Jesus's Wife. It looks genuine. Of more interest is the fact that the private collector who owns the piece is willing to loan it to Harvard on a long-term basis to have it properly studied. Hrm...

I always find views of North Korea from former North Koreans to be fascinating. This one is both fascinating and oddly chilling. History will not judge us lightly for allowing North Korea to continue without trying to do more to help its people.

I don't like linking to Buzzfeed, but this is just depressing and ought to be noticed. What's so scary is that the guy who performed this insult probably hasn't got the slightest clue why it's insulting, and wouldn't be able to understand if it was explained to him in small words.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

More about Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City Comicon took steps this year to fight harassment and make the con a safe place for everyone. I saw the signs everywhere, and was pleased that the con was working to protect cosplayers.

However, I did some harassment of my own. Here's some more pictures that I took (click to embiggen)...

These guys caught me taking their picture sneakily, but not sneakily enough, from across a hallway.

Not everyone who cosplays is nice. This person was absolutely wicked!

And let's finish with a Torvald picture. This is Thom Zahler, of Love and Capes fame. He's been trolled! Be sure to pick up the Complete Collection

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Relay for Life

Yesterday's paper had an article about our Relay for Life team, and why the newspaper is doing it this year.

If you want to contribute, here is my Relay page and here is hubby-Eric's page.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Sunday Review

I appear to be in one of those "I'm not reading much" periods, but I'm sure I'll snap out of it soon enough. In the meantime, I have still gotten through my comics, which just arrived this week. So, here's the first week of last month's books. I'm considering a Comixology subscription to the two Aquaman books so I can keep up on them on release day.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Mar 5th
  • Forever Evil #6 - I should have figured out that he would eventually arrive... but what an entrance!
  • Earth 2 #21 - Oops. Did Sloan just give everything away? As for the rest... yay Aquawoman!
  • Green Lantern #29 - What, Hal's figured out that he can't do it all on his own? Amazing.
  • Scooby Doo Team-Up #3 - Bat-mite was bad enough, I thought... but Scooby-mite? Though what turns up at the end may be the funniest of all.
  • Tales of Honor #1 - When you take a treasured novel and turn it into a different medium, it's going to change. The only question I have is how much am I going to enjoy this version compared to the original. So far... jury is still out. As for this issue, the framing sequence is a little odd to me, but I suppose it works well enough.
  • Twilight Zone #3 - Somehow I figured that was how it would go. Now, what will be the next twist?
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Tales from Oz #3 - Scarecrow - Um. Nasty? This one is so far from the original origin that I'm just going to say blah and leave it at that.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A couple of Saturday links

Wil Wheaton really is a cool guy.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I find this story about the journalist who revealed John Rocker's ugly side to the world to be a fascinating look at what reporting is, what honesty is, and how hard it can be to paint an accurate picture. It's clear that Rocker would have imploded quickly anyway, but it was both difficult and lucky for Pearlman to be the one he imploded in front of.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Time for a Commercial Break...

When a corporation gets it right, it's good to boost the signal. Honey Maid recently released a pretty cool little ad:

Pretty neat, right? Families, bonds of happiness, being together, s'mores, a nice message. Of course, they got nasty feedback. As one YouTube commenter summed it up: I hate this commercial because, [Verse], it says that [Verse]. If you don't accept [Deity] into your life. You will all find yourselves bringing [End of days] to your [hearts/lives/homes] for not abiding [book of choice] and bringing [Deity] to your [hearts/lives/crackers]. [End with Verse] [Walk away from computer knowing I'm right.]

Honey Maid decided to respond with another video. It's not as good as the original, but it still sends a positive message instead of a nasty one, and that's a good thing, I think.