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Ok, maybe i wasn't kidding about that Three Strike rule

Looking at our latest wonderful oil spill, i see this:

Meanwhile, Plains All American Pipeline is among the worst violators listed by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration and surpassed all but four of more than 1,700 operators in reporting safety and maintenance infractions, the federal agency said.

The company has 175 federal safety and maintenance violations since 2006, responsible for more than 16,000 barrels in spills that have caused more than $23 million worth of property damage.

...Plains All American Pipeline violated federal environmental violations 10 times between 2004 and 2007, when about 273,420 gallons of crude oil were discharged into waters or shorelines in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas, the EPA said.

Most of the spills were caused by corrosion on pipe, the EPA said.

The oil company agreed to pay a $3.25 million civil penalty and spend $41 million to upgrade 10,420 miles of crude oil pipeline operated in the United States, the EPA said in 2010.

How was this company still allowed to operate? Obviously those fines were just the cost of doing business and didn't inspire a serious revamp of their operations or infrastructure. Note that their previous spills caused $23 million+ in "property damage" (which probably underestimates or ignores the environmental impact) but they only payed $3.25 million in penalties. They also spent $41 million to upgrade their pipes so it wouldn't happen again, but here were are talking about them today. Shut these guys down.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 9:31 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Immigrants create jobs

It's understandably hard for people to grok, but if you don't think of jobs as a zero sum game (there are a limited number of jobs and if you get one, i don't) and instead think of them as producing economic activity (you are doing things that require resources and now have money that you will need to spend on services), it's easier to understand how more people means more jobs. Yglesias has made this point before but now he summarizes a study quantifying it, saying that every new immigrant adds 1.2 additional new jobs to the economy.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 9:24 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Totally busted

Politico has a bizarre hit piece on Elizabeth Warren. As Yglesias says:

Elizabeth Warren does not approve of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in part because she does not approve of its Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions that let businesses sue governments over regulatory matters outside of the normal judicial process. In fact, Warren hates the way ISDS empowers corporations so much that fifteen years ago she served as an expert witness for the US government when it was defending itself against a corporate complaint before an ISDS arbitration panel.

Except apparently some swathes of the Beltway media would like us to believe that it is hypocritical of Warren to have participated in an arbitration process that she opposes.

...Imagine that we were debating drug legalization, and one Senator is running around talking about how it's appalling that we are sending people to trial over possession of drugs. Now someone writes a story saying Senator X didn't seem to think drug trials were so appalling back when he was working as a defense lawyer for people accused of drug possession.

Nobody would write that, of course, because it doesn't make any sense.

Even the Politico piece (no link; i'm not going to help them "win the morning") has this:

Warren's involvement in the case centered on a narrow aspect of bankruptcy law. Her office says it doesn't conflict at all with her current stance.

"Fifteen years ago, when a big company used ISDS to sue the United States in an attempt to undermine the American justice system and the rule of law, Senator Warren helped the government in its successful effort to defeat the case," Warren spokeswoman Lacey Rose told POLITICO in an emailed statement. "Senator Warren opposes ISDS in trade treaties for the same reasons that were so clearly demonstrated in that case -- because it tilts the playing field toward big companies, and undermines the American justice system and the rule of law."

Ted Posner, a specialist in international arbitration cases and a former George W. Bush administration trade official, argued that Warren's involvement in the 2000 case was an "interesting tidbit" but ultimately not relevant.

"I really don't see any connection between her provision of expert advice to the government in Loewen and her position on ISDS in her current capacity as a U.S. senator," said Posner, who is a partner at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. "The advice she gave in Loewen was in her capacity as an expert on U.S. bankruptcy law. She was not acting as an expert on ISDS."

That probably should have ended the article (or stopped it from being published entirely), but they still manage to go on for another 18 paragraphs.

Update: Krugman weighs in on this, too, noting that the whole thing was likely fed to Politico by an Obama operative, but also lambasting the media for the lazy "hypocrisy" narrative.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2015, 7:26 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Pendulum swings

Interesting story out of Nebraska about draconian prison sentencing laws basically collapsing under their own weight, resulting in some serious reforms, including the abolition of the death penalty, in a very conservative state. The unavailability of drugs for lethal injection was also a factor.


By fnord12 | May 21, 2015, 9:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Talk to your congresscritters, people

TPM has a writeup of a study saying that lawmakers, both liberal and conservative, assume that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are. The summary of the actual study does say "voters" and not just "constituents", which is an important thing to clarify. But the summary also suggests that the reason for this might be that "politically active citizens tend to be wealthier and more conservative". As a remedy, the summary suggests that "progressive groups might be able to use a simple lobbying strategy - just let legislators know the truth about what their constituents think and want!"


By fnord12 | May 21, 2015, 9:15 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




What Happens In My Brain When I Watch a Movie

As illustrated by The Toast as they review the new Mad Max. There are spoilers. Eventually. I wouldn't recommend trying to read all of it. I did because it speaks to me, but you prolly shouldn't. Definitely.


By min | May 20, 2015, 2:16 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | Link




Bernie!

Highlights of a Reddit interview.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2015, 1:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




TPP Catch-22

"You need to tell me what's wrong with this trade agreement, not one that was passed 25 years ago," a frustrated President Barack Obama recently complained about criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). He's right. The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That's by design--anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I've actually read the TPP text provided to the government's own advisors, and I've given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can't share my criticisms with you.

More.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2015, 10:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




The Best Reform We Can Get?

Disgruntled, but not terribly surprised.

Link

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he will allow the Senate to vote on the USA Freedom Act, the surveillance reform bill that the House overwhelmingly passed last week, but that he had threatened to block. Congress only had a few days left to act before some key provisions of the Patriot Act expired, including the one the NSA has said gives it the authority to collect in bulk the phone records of Americans.

The bill would end that bulk collection, forcing the NSA to make specific requests to the phone companies instead. The bill also requires more disclosure -- and a public advocate -- for the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, while otherwise extending the three provisions that were due to sunset on June 1.

On the one hand, the bill would impose restrictions on the National Security Agency for the first time since the 1970s. On the other hand, in the context of the incredibly broad mass surveillance here and around the globe exposed by Snowden, the change would be minimal. It would do nothing to limit NSA programs officially targeted at foreigners that "incidentally" collect vast amounts of American communications. It would not limit the agency's mass surveillance of non-American communications at all.

...

Passing the Freedom Act would hardly be a defeat. As the New York Times wrote in a second-day story after the House vote -- headlined "Why the N.S.A. Isn't Howling Over Restrictions" -- the key "reform" in the bill was actually proposed by the then-NSA director Keith Alexander.

So why was McConnell fighting so hard to extend the Patriot Act as is?

Maybe because if the hardliners gave up without a fight, it wouldn't look like the reformers had prevailed.

So when the Freedom Act passes, after a ferocious fight at the buzzer, it will look like the reformers have won, when in fact it's tails, they lose.


By min | May 20, 2015, 10:39 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Ok, But Diarrhea and Eczema Really Suck

Link


To actually learn about the impacts of breastfeeding, we need to rely on studies in which breastfeeding is assigned randomly (the best option) or, in the absence of that experiment design, studies that somehow fully adjust for differences across women.

This leaves us with a small but informative set of studies. In the first camp -- the randomized trial camp -- we have one very large-scale study from Belarus. Known as the PROBIT trial, it was run in the 1990s and continued to follow up as the children aged.1 The study randomized women into two groups, one in which breastfeeding was encouraged and another in which it wasn't, and found that the encouragement treatment increased breastfeeding rates. The trial has studied all sorts of outcomes, including infant and child health and cognitive development.

...

Infants in the treatment group -- who, remember, were more likely to be breastfed -- had fewer gastrointestinal infections (read: less diarrhea) and were less likely to experience eczema and other rashes. However, there were no significant differences in any of the other outcomes considered. These include: respiratory infections, ear infections, croup, wheezing and infant mortality.

In other words, the evidence suggests that breastfeeding may slightly decrease your infant's chance of diarrhea and eczema but will not change the rate at which he gets colds or ear infections and will not prevent death.

So, you know, mom...mebbe you could try to breastfeed just a little? Think of all the laundry you could be saving yourself without all that messy diarrhea happening. Also, i would like to point out that rashes are no fun. I have cortisone cream stashed all over my house for just in case i get itchy.

Sadly, it there's no proof that breastfeeding makes you smarter, either, so quit your mom-shaming, people!

First, researchers looked at all the kids in the study. For this sample, the evaluation of IQ was done by evaluators who knew whether or not a child was in the breastfeeding-encouraged treatment group. There were no significant effects of breastfeeding on overall IQ. In addition, breastfeeding had no effect on teachers' evaluation of the children's school performance. But the researchers observed large effects of breastfeeding on verbal IQ.

Because the researchers were concerned about evaluator bias, they also had a subset of children evaluated by independent evaluators who did not know which children were breastfed. The differences in verbal IQ disappeared. This, in combination with the teacher evaluations, makes it seem likely that the overall effect was driven by the evaluators, not by true differences among children because of breastfeeding.

This explanation seems especially likely since the effects observed in the full sample are too large to be plausible. Taking into account the impact of the program on breastfeeding rates, the results suggest that nursing increases child IQ by about 24 IQ points, which is far outside of what any other study -- even one seriously biased by differences across mothers -- would suggest. Overall, as others have noted, this study doesn't provide especially strong support for the claim that breastfeeding increases IQ.

Comparisons among siblings (i.e., this and this) also show no IQ impacts. Again, these studies make clear that if you ignore differences across mothers, you can find large impacts of breastfeeding on IQ. It is only when you compare within the same family that you reveal the fact that it really doesn't seem to matter.

Although, really, i feel a lot better now because i wasn't breastfed and i had been all sad about my missed potential. Now i can rest assured that i didn't actually have any potential to lose. Woot!


By min | May 20, 2015, 10:09 AM | Science | Comments (0) | Link




Marvel style

Just a note for myself, really, but it is interesting. Tom Brevoort says that through the 90s, over 90% of Marvel books were still being written in "Marvel style", where a writer writes up a plot and gives it to the artist, and then gets the art back to write the script. It wasn't until the Bill Jemas era that the switchover to full script (where the writer writes a full "movie script" style story with panel by panel descriptions) happened. Marvel style gives artists a lot more leeway and creative control of the story, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the artist's storytelling abilities. But i'd bet that a lot of what i don't like about more modern art, which often feels lifeless and even unclear to me, is due to that change.

I wonder if there was a tilt back to Marvel style with the more creator driven books like Daredevil and Hawkeye.


By fnord12 | May 20, 2015, 9:02 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link




Now I Want to See Mad Max

Originally, i didn't because i've seen Mad Max. We did that already. Do something new. Sheesh. So sick of all these remakes. But then i read Kelly Thompson's review on CBR, and i think now i have to see it.

As I've said many times before, not every film (or book or comic or whatever) has to be about women, in fact they shouldn't all be about women, but if you're going to use female characters, Mad Max: Fury Road is the perfect template for how to do it right. Because Mad Max: Fury Road not only gets it right, but gets it right on several complicated levels where it could have gone horribly awry.
...
So let's get into the nitty gritty of why this works like gangbusters: Imperator Furiosa is every bit Max's equal - both in the story and execution and in the way she is presented to the audience.
...
Most notable next to Furiosa is the element which is by far the most dangerous to include and which could have gone magnificently wrong and this is The Five Wives. The Five Wives are beautiful "breeders" and the "wives" (read: sex slaves) of lead big bad Immortan Joe.
...
These women are anything but damsels. They are fighting for their lives and freedom and risking everything, just like Furiosa and Max. They do not have the same skill levels of Furiosa and Max, and they shouldn't as they have led very different lives, but these are not shrinking violets. They do everything and anything within their power to help Furiosa (and anyone else along the way that tries to aid them)...
...
In action movies, hell, in most movies that aren't "chick films," women have clothing and hair that makes no goddamn sense. It's also true in comics to a massive degree, though we're going through a nice phase right now where there's a focus on design that makes more sense (see: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Batgirl, Spider-Gwen, etc.). So it's nice to see all of that so fantastically realized in Fury Road. It's okay that The Five Wives are basically wearing white sheets wrapped to make them look like pliant sexual beings, because that's what they have been designed to be in this world. It makes sense that they are paler and more beautiful than everyone else because they are literally kept in a vault away from the sun. It makes sense that they have gorgeous flowing (clean) locks of hair and supple groomed limbs and all their teeth because they have been pampered while everyone else starves and works and grovels. Of course that pampering comes with rape and imprisonment and who knows what else, but visually it makes sense. They look completely out of place in this world and it is deliberate and well considered and it's not in any way sexist because it's smart and real and not put there for random male gaze wank factor. Often beautiful women in movies are beautiful just because, and sometimes it makes no sense that they are this way, but here they are beautiful on purpose. By contrast Furiosa looks ready for battle just like Max does, including very short hair and lots of leather. By FURTHER contrast the women in the desert (The Vuvalini) they hook up with later look motorcycle riding badass desert survivalists. This all makes SENSE. None of it is random or put there to be titillating. It's there to serve story. And story rules all.

I, too, hate when costumes make no sense. Seeing female superheroes mincing around in heeled boots when their power set involves them getting into physical combat irritates me to no end. Do you have any idea how little traction heels provide? Do you??? And don't tell me "super powers". They're fighting against other supers so any advantage they might have over a normal person with their super strength and super speed and super holding up my costume with "magic" is negated.

I love action movies that involve female characters getting actiony. And if this film is as good as Kelly Thompson says at portraying women as being vulnerable and yet not just as eye candy damsels, i want to see that. Netflix, hurry up and get this on streaming! I might want to see this film, but not so badly that i'm going to brave a movie theater to do it.


By min | May 19, 2015, 8:28 AM | Movies | Comments (0) | Link




"And whatever's going on in the X-books"

Just got a little chuckle out of the fact that all of the bi-weekly summer books had events going on except for the mutant comics. Events? Storylines? We're the X-books! We don't need any of that! And it's true. Sales on the X-books would have dwarfed anything else there, except for Spider-Man.

To be clear, it's not like the X-books didn't have events. Excalibur was coming off of the Cross-Time Caper during this bi-weekly period, and X-Men were building up to the X-Tinction Agenda crossover with New Mutants and X-Factor. But to get the kids to buy twice as many Captain America comics during the summer, they needed a special story, whereas the X-books just barreled on through.


By fnord12 | May 18, 2015, 2:12 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link




At a minimum, fixing broken windows discourages more broken windows

I blog a lot about the lead/crime hypothesis. Most of my link-blogging comes from posts by Kevin Drum, who always cautions that it doesn't mean that other crime theories aren't also true, but i've always seen the lead theory as being at odds with the "broken windows" theory popularized by Rudolph Giuliani. So it's interesting and maybe a little eye opening to see Vera te Velde's post saying that there's a lot of evidence that the broken windows theory works. Now, if you can stomach reading the comments, you'll see that Velde agrees that there's nothing saying that preventing or allowing minor graffiti-like crimes has any effect on violent crime, which is what the broken windows theory is really about. And she also acknowledges that the theory led to harassment (or worse) of minority citizens.

Seems to me the theories can work hand in hand. The lead theory should lead to less "crackdown" policing, but that doesn't mean we can't put up more No Littering signs.


By fnord12 | May 15, 2015, 2:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link




Slim Fast - More Absurd Than I Thought

I have to post this cause i can't stop thinking about it. I'm all outraged on behalf of all the nutty people who go on this diet.

I have a protein shake for breakfast every weekday. It's convenient. There's no way in hell i'm waking up earlier to make actual food. I barely get out the door to make it to work on time. So, having something that takes a minute to put together and is portable is fantastic. For reasons, i ended up having a second shake for lunch earlier this week, and it got me thinking about the whole Slim Fast "2 shakes a day and a sensible dinner" diet, because having a shake for breakfast and one for lunch is beat. So, i went to their website to see exactly what their plan was. This was when i discovered the extent of the absurd.

Each of their shakes are 190 calories. You are allowed up to 3-100 calorie snacks. And then dinner should be 500 calories. That's a total of 1180 calories (1200 if you have a "meal replacement bar" instead of shakes). For a day. For an adult human being. If all i did was lay on the floor and breathe for a day, i would burn approximately 1400 calories. I'm 5'2" and weigh 114 lbs. I don't have a lot of excess me requiring frivolous calories. If someone put me on 1180 calories/day, i'd be gnawing on the furniture.

They also claim the shakes give you "up to 4 hours hunger control". One of my shakes is 310 calories. By the 3.5hr mark, my body is starting to tell me i had better feed it soon or things are going to get ugly. Staying hunger-free for 4 hours on 190 calories sounds like magic.

And the plan isn't scaled based on how much you weigh to start. Regardless if you're 300 lbs or 150 lbs, it's the same regimen.

Let's say you're 200lbs and used to consuming an average of 2400 calories/day. All at once, your calories are cut in half. How does that sound manageable? There's no way you wouldn't cheat. And you'd prolly still feel deprived and punished because that bag of potato chips you snuck doesn't change the fact that your lunch was liquid, and you're still hungry after eating dinner. Plus you feel guilty for eating those chips.

And that's before we consider what happens when you miraculously meet your goal and go back to eating regular food. Well, since the plan never teaches the person how to budget their food intake, coupled with the glee of finally being able to eat food again, it's no surprise people go back to eating how they used to and re-gain all the weight they lost. All that misery for nothing.

You'd prolly have better luck if all you did was replace your usual lunch with a piece of unfried, unbreaded protein and vegetables seasoned in some non-fatty way and changed nothing else.


By min | May 15, 2015, 10:50 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (0) | Link




What are you people doing?

Matthew Yglesias actually has off the record conversations with Democratic strategists and politicians. So i am sure this is not coming from nowhere. But when he writes an article saying that Elizabeth Warren has found a way to thread the needle between talking about income distribution and mobility/opportunity, i mean, i really have to scratch my head. I barely understand the distinction. This has been what's paralyzing Democrats from talking about this stuff? Do they really think the average non-engaged voter is having some nuanced internal debate, like... i mean i can't even articulate it.

Republicans, meanwhile, have their base worried that Obama is going to take over Texas. That's the difference in strategy between the two sides.


By fnord12 | May 14, 2015, 4:21 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link




Snow White's mirror said "partners in crime!"

Black Sabbath being on Top of the Pops in 1978 is weird.

The fact that they 100% stole the guitar riff from Thin Lizzy is a whole different story.


By fnord12 | May 14, 2015, 7:34 AM | Music | Comments (0) | Link




Thanos wants you to go vegan and buy a hybrid

I know. You're thinking to yourself, "Why should i do what Thanos wants?". So let me rephrase it: Thanos will destroy half the universe's population if you don't go vegan and buy a hybrid.


By fnord12 | May 13, 2015, 9:45 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link




Skateboarding is not a crime!

Odd letter, odder response.


By fnord12 | May 13, 2015, 9:43 AM | Comics | Comments (8) | Link




Scarlet Witch Scholarship

The Beat has an interesting article on Stan & Jack's probable influences for the Scarlet Witch. Be sure to get to the Max Pemberton story at the bottom.


By fnord12 | May 11, 2015, 9:28 AM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link




Grades

Hey, Bernie Sanders gets a B+ so i guess i shouldn't complain.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2015, 4:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Not Enough Job Hopping

At my first 2 jobs right after college, i stayed at both for about 18 months. That seemed like more than long enough as the shine of a new job and new co-workers had definitely worn off by around month 12. There were other reasons for leaving, ofc, but i certainly didn't need to try very hard to decide it was time to go.

Then inertia set in. I've been at my current job so long, i got invited to a luncheon and qualified for an anniversary gift (I chose the cool mist humidifier cause holy crap does it get hot and dry in here when they turn the heat on. It leaks. I have to sit it in a bowl.).

Anyway, the point is, job hopping is normal when you've just entered the work force proper, and people should stop talking about it like it's a crazy new thing these young people are doing. And FiveThirtyEight says it's not even true that it's happening more with the current generation.

The data consistently shows that today's young people are actually less professionally itinerant than previous generations. In fact, millennials -- and the U.S. economy as a whole -- would be better off if they'd live up to the stereotype and start switching jobs more often.

To support its case, the Journal (where I was a reporter from 2006 to 2013) cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that the typical worker aged 20 to 24 has been in their job for about 16 months. "For those aged 25 to 34, it was three years," the Journal continues, "still far short of the 5.5-year median tenure for all workers age 25 and over."

But those numbers are highly misleading. Sure, most people in their early 20s are fairly new to their jobs, but most of them are fairly new to the workforce, period.

More importantly, comparing today's 20-somethings to today's 30- and 40-somethings misses the point. Younger workers do tend to change jobs more often than older workers, but that's always been true. Numbers on job tenure for Americans in their 20s were almost exactly the same in the 1980s as they are today. Monthly data tells a similar story, as the chart below shows: Every month, about 3 percent of young workers (defined here as those between 22 and 29) change jobs, compared to about 4 percent in the mid-1990s.

...

Changing jobs is a key way for workers to make more money. That's especially true for younger workers, who often need to move around to find the job that suits -- and pays -- them best. By entering the workforce during a period of prolonged economic downturn, today's young people missed out on years of potential wage gains, a setback from which they might never fully recover.

In other words, we shouldn't worry that millennials are changing jobs too often, but rather, as the Washington Post's Jonnelle Marte has written, that they aren't changing jobs enough.



By min | May 8, 2015, 1:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Sometimes the streams cross in interesting ways

Brian Hibbs, a vocal comic retailer that i've linked to a number of times on this site because of his insights on the comic industry, writes in to Kevin Drum's website, which i link to a lot (Drum himself is recovering from chemotherapy so this is a guest post) to talk about the burden on small businesses to raising the minimum wage.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2015, 9:27 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




How about a Netflix television series then?

Apparently there should never be a female solo super-hero movie because the Elektra movie was bad, or something.


By fnord12 | May 6, 2015, 6:51 PM | Comics & Movies | Comments (4) | Link




Evanesce

evanesce [ev-uh-nes, ev-uh-nes]


-v
to disappear gradually; vanish; fade away


By min | May 5, 2015, 1:07 PM | Good Words | Comments (0) | Link




Big Hero 6 Marvel "cameos"

We watched Big Hero 6 over the weekend, and there's a scene where they go to the home of one of the characters, Fred, who has a big geek den.

Among probably a ton of other Easter Eggs, there are statues of a bunch of Marvel characters. I tried to find a site online that listed them all, but people seem more interested in finding appearances of Wreck It Ralph and other Pixar/Disney stuff. So i'll do my best.

The one in the center here looks like Torpedo:

To the side of Torpedo are two female characters. I can't get a good shot of the one on the right. The one on left is sort of a generic Dave Cockrum template, with the sash and domino mask (e.g. Ms. Marvel):

Here we have Orka and Black Talon, which you can see the best and many other sites have noticed. Pretty crazy to see them in a movie, even like this:

The one on the right below looks like Sleepwalker. I saw one site say that the one on the left looks like Manphibian. Looks more like Godzilla Jr.. Not sure about the robot in the middle.

The next one is probably the most obscure of all. It's Crimebuster, a minor Nova character. Don't know about the characters on either side.

One more group below. Chris in the comments notes that it's the Squadron Sinister/Supreme on the left. I don't recognize the other two.


By fnord12 | May 4, 2015, 9:37 AM | Comics & Movies | Comments (5) | Link




Or to put it another way

A different take on the Wonder Woman movie.

Hey, regardless of all the inside politics grousing we're doing over it, maybe they'll eventually actually make it a good film.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 6:16 PM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link




Maybe Sanders needs to close some bridges

I mentioned in a post below that i "know" Bernie Sanders won't win. But Atrios makes a good point about the press coverage:

Basically anyone with a pulse is taken seriously by our media if they run for president as a Republican... If you're a Democrat, however, and you're slightly to the left of Jeb Bush, you aren't "serious."

I ain't gonna bet on Bernie Sanders winning the nomination, but I wouldn't bet on Jindal, Perry, Christie, etc... either.

Chris Christie especially, at the moment.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 3:17 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link




Guardrails

Someone should surround David Brooks with them.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 3:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Marvel Sales

March.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 10:34 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link




Wonder Woman and the Bechdel Test

Heidi MacDonald at the Beat has a (semi-)satirical take on why it's apparently so hard to make a Wonder Woman movie.

Also, in the comments (which, as always, read at your own peril) someone links to this (from 2008) which suggests that the fact that movies constantly fail the Bechdel Test is no accident.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2015, 10:31 AM | Comics | Comments (0) | Link




Why Are We Still Debating Capital Punishment?

What the hell is wrong with us? We're monsters.

By the time the blinds were raised at 6:23pm on April 29, 2014, to show Clayton Lockett strapped to the gurney and positioned to die, there was a lot that witnesses in Oklahoma's death house had not seen.

They did not see how, for nearly an hour, a paramedic and physician tried and failed to insert an IV line into various parts of Lockett's body, including his neck and feet.

They did not see how, after he was punctured some 14 to 16 times, Lockett's pants and underwear were cut off so that the doctor could clumsily inject the IV into his femoral vein, near his groin, using a needle too small for the task. Nor did witnesses see the IV, which the warden chose to cover with a blanket to protect his genitals from view, but also in the name of "dignity."

They did not see the makeshift rope that had been found earlier that day inside Lockett's holding cell, or the lacerations on Lockett's arms where he had slashed himself with a razor. Or the prison task force that came for Lockett early that morning, forcing their way into his blood-stained cell after he tried to block the door and subduing him with a TASER.

That's right. It would be wrong for a prisoner to kill themselves and take that privilege away from the State.

But what witnesses would see once Lockett was finally displayed before them was a human experiment -- the first execution in the state using 100 milligrams of a new drug, midazolam, to kick off its three-part cocktail. It would go terribly wrong. As the drugs started flowing, and after he had already been deemed unconscious, Lockett jerked his head, and began to writhe and moan. "Oh my God," Warden Anita Trammel later recalled thinking. "He's coming out of this. It's not working." In the overflow room where others watched on a TV monitor, "It was like a horror movie," one official told The Guardian. "He kept trying to talk." Witnesses heard Lockett say things like, "something is wrong," and "the drugs aren't working" and "this shit is fucking with my mind." After nine minutes, the blinds were hastily closed. The blanket was lifted to reveal that the drugs were seeping into the tissue of his inner thigh instead of his veins, causing his skin to swell.

Officials debated whether they should keep trying to kill Lockett or else try to save his life. They called the governor's office. They decided to halt the proceeding. But then, just after 7 o'clock, Clayton Lockett finally died.

On his death certificate: "Judicially Ordered Execution."

And i feel so much better that this is the Supreme Court deciding the case.

That the Court again found itself discussing lethal injection at all seemed to irritate the judges. Justice Samuel Alito blamed "a guerrilla war against the death penalty." Activists have made it "impossible for the States to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain," he complained. "And so the States are reduced to using drugs like this one." Justice Scalia, too, inveighed against abolitionists for making it "impossible to get the 100 percent sure drugs," referring to sodium thiopental and pentobarbital. "I guess I would be more inclined to find that [midolazam] was intolerable if there was even some doubt about this drug when there was a perfectly safe other drug available," he said. In other words, the lack of good alternatives might just make midolazom good enough in his book.

Damn those "activist" drug companies and their anti-barbaric execution stance.

Wyrick tried to explain away the holes in his case by reiterating that it is up to the prisoners, not the state, to prove the only "constitutionally relevant" question: whether midazolam has "a ceiling effect that kicks in before we get to a level where [prisoners are] unconscious and unaware of the pain." No one seems to know exactly where that ceiling lies. So while the state concedes that there is a possibility that midazolam will wear off mid-execution, it argues that this does not mean it definitely will. This level of uncertainty over midazolam is apparently not too high for Oklahoma to stop killing people with it.

Justice Elena Kagan found the logic galling. If it's true that experiencing the effects of potassium chloride is "like being burned alive," she said, then this is like telling someone, "We're going to burn you at the stake, but before we do, we're going to use an anesthetic of completely unknown properties and unknown effects. Maybe you won't feel it, maybe you will. We just can't tell."

Link

Human life is only precious if it's still in the womb. Once you're out, you can go fuck yourself.


By min | May 1, 2015, 9:42 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link




Yeah, but wouldn't it be awesome if he won anyway?

Chris Cillizza explains the point of the Bernie Sanders primary run. Not that i'm not rooting for Sanders to win regardless.


By fnord12 | April 30, 2015, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Right message, wrong time?

Kevin Drum discusses the implications of the lead hypothesis in the case of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore police. I've been very interested in the lead theory and (while acknowledging my personal lack of scientific expertise), i agree with it. But i'm not sure leading off the post by talking about Gray's lead levels was the right choice. From what i've read (and again, i should be cautious and say of course i don't know what happened), it doesn't seem like Gray's behavior - lead influenced or not - merited what happened to him. Drum does later say that "even if you're a hard-ass law-and-order type" you'll want to look at the lead hypothesis, but it just struck me the wrong way to frame the subject.

For a different take, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest.


By fnord12 | April 30, 2015, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link




And Let Them Eat Cake, Too

I was going to end today's spate of postings on a high note with that brontosaurus thing, but then my RSS feed had to tell me this:

Maryland State legislator Patrick McDonough, the guest host of a drive-time radio program on Wednesday morning, discussed the possibility of revoking food stamps from the parents of protesting Baltimore youth.

Later during the same broadcast, McDonough called for a "scientific study" of what he called the "thug nation" in the black community. McDounough is a Republican member of the state's House of Delegates who represents a suburban area northeast of the city.

McDonough's food stamps comment came in response to a caller who asked, if protesters are "too young, why can't they take away benefits from families, from like the parents who are collecting welfare."

"That's an idea and that could be legislation," replied McDonough. "I think that you could make the case that there is a failure to do proper parenting and allowing this stuff to happen, is there an opportunity for a month to take away your food stamps?"

During much of the three hour program, McDonough discussed the "thug community" of Baltimore.

At one point, discussing the possibility of a "scientific study" on "police relationships with the black community," he said such an effort is necessary because there has never been research by "brilliant, honest, objective people" on "this community, this culture, this thug nation."

"These young people, they're violent, they're brutal, their mindset is dysfunctional to a point of being dangerous," he said, noting that he does not want to "put them in a test tube or cage." But, McDonough added, "We have got to study, investigate, and really look at what this is all about," calling it a problem "that prevails the nation from Los Angeles to Baltimore to Baltimore County."

McDonough repeated several times during his broadcast that his use of the term "thug" was not a "dog whistle" because President Obama had used the term to describe Baltimore protesters. He also added that he has supported scholarships, which have benefited people of color.

In fact, some of his closest friends are black. He might even know a few Asians.

McDonough also benefits from campaign support from major donors across the state. Campaign finance records show donations to McDonough's campaign account from the Harford County Deputy Sheriffs PAC, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PAC, and StateFarm Agents PAC, among other established interests in Maryland.

By min | April 30, 2015, 8:59 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




I Could Never Remember Apatosaurus

So, it's fantastic that they brought the Brontosaurus back.

It turns out the original Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus fossils appear different enough to belong to separate groups after all. "Generally, Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide," says lead study author Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. "So although both are very massive and robust animals, Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus."

Whatever, apatosaurus. Brontosaurus 4EVR!!!!


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:50 AM | Science | Comments (2) | Link




You Don't Own Anything Anymore

Not your digital books that you paid dollars for. And not your car. Fucking DMCA.

EFF is fighting for vehicle owners' rights to inspect the code that runs their vehicles and to repair and modify their vehicles, or have a mechanic of their choice do the work. At the moment, the anti-circumvention prohibition in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act arguably restricts vehicle inspection, repair, and modification. If EFF is successful then vehicle owners will be free to inspect and tinker, as long as they don't run afoul of other regulations, such as those governing vehicle emissions, safety, or copyright law.

You can support EFF's exemption requests by adding your name to the petition we'll submit in the rulemaking.

Most of the automakers operating in the US filed opposition comments through trade associations, along with a couple of other vehicle manufacturers. They warn that owners with the freedom to inspect and modify code will be capable of violating a wide range of laws and harming themselves and others. They say you shouldn't be allowed to repair your own car because you might not do it right. They say you shouldn't be allowed to modify the code in your car because you might defraud a used car purchaser by changing the mileage. They say no one should be allowed to even look at the code without the manufacturer's permission because letting the public learn how cars work could help malicious hackers, "third-party software developers" (the horror!), and competitors.

John Deere even argued that letting people modify car computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system, which would be one of the more convoluted ways to copy media (and the exemption process doesn't authorize copyright infringement, anyway).

Yep. I'm building up my music collection through my car radio. It's slow going, but so totally worth it. And when i'm done with that, i'm going to ask my car's computer to tell me where the last Golden Ticket is hidden.

Here's how you can help. The opponents of the vehicle exemptions say that no one really cares about the restrictions they place on access to vehicle code, so the Copyright Office should deny the exemptions. Now, we cited a number of projects, and thousands of people wrote to the office to support the exemptions, but we are confident there are even more projects, businesses, and individuals out there who need these exemptions and it would be a shame if the Copyright Office didn't know it.

If you have had problems with vehicle repair or tinkering because you were locked out of your vehicle's computers, if you would have engaged in a vehicle-related project but didn't because of the legal risk posed by the DMCA, or if you or your mechanic had to deal with obstacles in getting access to diagnostic information, then we want to hear from you--and the Copyright Office should hear from you, too.

Email us at 1201cars@eff.org to let us know. It will help strengthen our case for the Copyright Office. We can also incorporate your comments anonymously, if you'd prefer.


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




More Gender Pay Gap in the Corporate World

When companies do well, male executives reap the rewards at a far greater rate than their female counterparts. But when business turns bad, it's women who suffer the greatest financial consequences.

That's the conclusion of new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Three economists looked at more than a decade's worth of data to figure out why women in business -- even those able to break into the executive suite -- still earn far less than men on average. The key factor, according to their analysis: performance pay, a theoretically meritocratic system that, in practice, ends up rewarding those already in charge.

...

In an interview with Bloomberg, author Stefania Albanesi said that means companies need to start tackling pay disparities early, before they have the chance to start adding up.

"The accumulation is going to be there even when women get promoted, and also possibly if you move to another firm, because usually your past compensation is used in some degree," Albanesi said. "These differences can be very, very persistent."

Albanesi and her co-authors looked at compensation data for more than 40,000 executives at publicly traded companies in the U.S. between 1992 and 2005. Of those, just 1,312 -- 3.2 percent -- were women. And the typical woman in the group earned 14 percent less than the typical male executive. (The gap is even wider when looking at average rather than median pay.)

The vast majority of that gap is explained by so-called incentive pay, compensation linked to a company's performance, such as bonuses and stock options. The disparity adds up over time: Since men get granted more stock than women, they benefit more when a company performs well. The authors refer to these accumulated gains as an executive's "firm-specific wealth"; a $1 million increase in a company's value adds $17,150 to a male executive's wealth, but just $1,670 to a woman's.

But while male executives benefit more when their companies do well, it's women who suffer more when their companies do badly. If a firm loses 1 percent of its value, women's firm-specific wealth falls 63 percent, while men's falls just 33 percent.

That may seem paradoxical: If men's pay is more closely linked to their companies' success, then they should be more exposed to bad news as well as good. But the authors argue that logic misunderstands how executive pay works. Incentive pay is often billed as "pay for performance," but in practice, executives have lots of ways to game the system. For example, chief executives often play a major role in choosing members of the board of directors, who in turn set the CEO's pay.

...

One common criticism of gender-gap analyses is that they fail to account for differences between male and female workers that have nothing to do with sex. Female executives are, on average, younger and less senior; they are also more common in certain industries or types of companies, which might tend to pay less. But in this paper, the authors control for age, title and the company where the executives work.

The other possibility, of course, is that women earn less incentive pay because they don't perform as well. But the researchers looked at that too: "There is no link between standard measures of firm performance and female representation in the team of top executives," they write.

Link


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




We Outsource Everything

It really keeps costs down and helps with avoiding pesky laws that get in the way of your goals.

In rare remarks about a sensitive issue, the director of the CIA confirmed today that the U.S. government works with foreign intelligence agencies to capture and jointly interrogate suspected terrorists.

"There are places throughout the world where CIA has worked with other intelligence services and has been able to bring people into custody and engage in the debriefings of these individuals ... through our liaison partners, and sometimes there are joint debriefings that take place as well," said John Brennan, the CIA director, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Brennan's remarks confirm what journalists have long reported: that the Obama administration sometimes helps other countries do the dirty work of snatching and interrogating terror suspects -- keeping the U.S. at arm's length from operations that are ethically and legally dubious..

...

The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and others have detailed cases during the Obama administration in which terror suspects were held in foreign custody at the behest of the U.S. In 2011, Scahill reported for The Nation on a secret prison in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Though officially run by the Somali government, Scahill wrote, "US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners" at the facility.

Brennan's comments today are a rare confirmation that the CIA remains actively involved in the arrest and interrogation of terrorist suspects overseas.

Link


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link




Bulk Collection Could Expire

Link

There's some good news coming from the White House today that deserves repeating. Reuters is reporting that Ned Price, a spokesman from the President's National Security Council, has unequivocally stated:
If Section 215 sunsets, we will not continue the bulk telephony metadata program.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the authority that the NSA, with the FBI's help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It expires on June 1.

...

With the clock ticking, Congress is running out of time to pass legislation that will reform bulk surveillance.

In fact, despite the Administration's push for reform legislation, it looks increasingly likely that the next vote Congress will face on NSA spying is the June 1 sunset. That's why contacting Congress about the vote is so important--lawmakers should understand that their vote is a statement about where they stand on the Constitution.

...

If you agree that it's time to end mass surveillance, contact Congress and tell them what you expect to see: a no vote on reauthorization of Section 215 on June 1, along with some real comprehensive reform to NSA spying.

Although, there could be a loophole.

Some journalists and privacy advocates have speculated that, even if Section 215 were to expire in the absence of other legislation, bulk collection could continue under Section 102(b) of Public Law 109-177, which some have said would allow investigations that began before the expiration of Section 215 to continue. In November, Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the provision could mean that:
as long as there was an older counterterrorism investigation still open, the court could keep issuing Section 215 orders to phone companies indefinitely for that investigation.

Since they can claim everything is a matter of national security and don't ever need to reveal anything, they could pretty much claim everything is part of an older investigation. But even taking a tiny bit of authority for bulk collection of data from the NSA is a good thing.


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:12 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0) | Link



No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.