March 30th, 2011


Putting The "Duh" In Floida

Show of hands -- how many remember my writing about Terry Jones?  No, not the Monty Python alumnist.  He's awesome.  I'm talking about Pastor Terry Jones, an intolerant dipshit in Gainesville, Florida.  He was the guy who was going to commemorate 9/11 last year by burning the Quran, the Islamic holy book.  Public pressure was huge, and he caved.

Or so we thought.

Turns out that he held a mock trial at his Dove World Outreach Center.  Which was followed by that classic Christian standby, a book burning.

As our planet spun onward into the bright and hopeful new millenium.

Japan's Fukushima Reactor Problems -- But Wait! There's More!

Bloomberg is reporting that the engineer who helped build the reactor core four decades ago is saying that flawed steel might have been used in its construction.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka was working for Hitachi when the power plant was being built in 1974.  He claims he helped cover up a manufacturing defect in the steel vessel that houses the reactor core.

My first reaction was, why didn't this asshole say something?!?  Well, turns out, he did.  When Chernobyl happened, he walked away from the nuclear power industry in Japan and, in 1988,  tried to tell the Trade Ministry about the "ticking time bomb" as he called it.  No one listened.  Two years later, he wrote a book called, "Why Nuclear Power Is Dangerous."  Guess what book is selling like hotcakes in Japan right now.  The Trade Ministry can confirm or deny if they ever followed up on Tanaka's claims.

According to Tanaka, the damage occured during the final treatment process of the vessel. At the foundry where it was being finished, the vessel was heated to 1,112F (600C) in a process that would ultimately take two and a half years and cost tens of millions of dollars.  It was to remove welding stress.  The tank was to be supported by braces, but some either fell over or just weren't put inside.  When the process was finished, they discovered the walls of the tank had warped.  The height and width differed by 34 milimeters.  Bye-bye, absolute symetry.  Nuclear regulations in Japan required the core to be chucked into the scrap heap at that point.  But that might have bankrupted the company.  So Tanaka's boss asked him to reshape the vessel to disguise what happened.

Tanaka was a computer programmer.  He used computer modeling to figure out a way to use pumpjacks to push the sunken wall out.  He saved the company billions of yen, got a 3 million yen bonus, and got a certificate praising his extraordinary effort.  Hitachi, meanwhile, distracted the inspector with golf and hot springs.

Tanaka had quit Hitachi back in 1977.  In 1986, Chernobyl happened.  Tanaka was asked to narrate a documentary.  The film crew got really close to the ruptured core and got 30 hours of footage.  The director died of radiation poisoning about a year later.  Tanaka lost his shit.  Two years later, he went to the Trade Ministry to confess what he had done.  The Trade Ministry refused to investigate and Hitachi denied the charges.

I'm not afraid of nuclear power.  I'm afraid of human nature.

If She Weighs As Much As A Duck, She's Made Of Wood! And Therefore, A Witch!

Now I know how Penn And Teller felt when they got a union complaint for saying MacBeth before their shows and creating an unlucky work environment.

Carole A. Smith was a probationary employee with the TSA.  She'd been on the job for seven months.  (Side note:  the employees will be voting soon on whether to unionize.)  Smith was an ace employee, passing her tests with flying colors and catching all kinds of stuff.

Just one tiny little problem....

Smith is a Wiccan.

One of her coworkers accused her of putting a hex on her car so it wouldn't run.

Others started complaining they feared she would use witchcraft on them.

Smith got canned.

She complained to the EEOC.  Despite the EEOC pointing out the TSA kept changing its story about why they fired Smith, they ruled against Smith anyway.  She's appealing.

Newt Gingrich claims the country needs to get back to the religious ideals that it was founded on.

Anyone else think that's a bad bad bad idea?

P.S.  The country has firmer roots in Freemasonry than Christianity.  I wonder how proud of America's religious history he would be if he bothered to look into that.

Snap Judgments -- The New Wonder Woman TV Series

Hello, and welcome to another installment of Snap Judgments, where I take sketchy information about an upcoming project and try to make a wild ass guess about what it will be like.

Today we are looking at the now-rolling Wonder Woman TV series.  As far as I'm aware, they are just shooting the pilot, they haven't green lit any episode commitments yet.

There was lots of talk about the new WW costume.  A concept art piece with latexy pants went around (given the creator of Wonder Woman was heavily into kink alternate sex practices and incorporated them into things when he could [come on, guys getting tied up by a strong woman and being at their mercy?  Check his biography, you'll see I'm not reading too much into things], what's one more nod to a fetish subculture?).  We know that David E. Kelley of Boston Legal and Ally McBeal fame (and Lake Placid infamy) is producing.  We know Elizabeth Hurley is WW's arch nemesis.  And now, we have some leaked images and video of one of the set pieces being filmed.

My first reaction:  Jeggings?  Wonder Woman wears jeggings?

I'm not going to talk about changes in the costume.  Yes, I remember the star-spangled swimsuit Lynda Carter wore.  I also remember the cut around the legs was unlike any swimsuit I'd ever seen.  It's obvious why -- they wanted to deny that part of the show thrived on the sex appeal of Carter.  I think I speak for every male who saw that while hitting puberty when I say, it didn't work.  That said, the change in the costume is, at the very least, curious.  Everyone knows Wonder Woman wears the star-spangled swimsuit (in fact, the first time I saw her original costume, I thought it was a knockoff character and not the real WW).  So going with a sort of remix of the JMS costume is a little throwing.  Don't get me wrong -- aside from one part, it looks like an action heroine costume.  The boots have low heels, the pants are form fitting but not showing everything, it works from an Action Hero standpoint.  Just not from a Wonder Woman standpoint.

(The one part is the red bustier.  Glue.  Gotta be glue.)

I'm not sure I'm buying Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman.  She looks a little too "Maxim girl".  Like my complaint about Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, she just looks too young for what is supposed to be a fully mature woman.

I already have suspicions about how the series is going to go based on leaked news reports that Hurley's character, besides being WW's nemesis, may also have lesbian feelings for her.  That just smells rather "This'll bring the fanboys in" instead of being actual character development.  Once again, WW is a one-stop shop of alternate sex.  John Byrne, in fact, already postulated that the Amazons were lesbians because even without men around, they still have sexual needs and only each other to turn to.  But that was logical extrapolation.  This just feels like a ratings stunt.

David E. Kelley is the biggest problem, though.  He was praised for Ally McBeal being so empowering of women because it give viewers a "look into the female mind".  It was actually the complete opposite, reducing the character to a gag, from wearing outfits no lawyer would dare wear to court to goofy plots twists and hamhanded examinations of lesbianism.  Uh oh.  Here's lesbianism apparently being baked in right from the beginning.  This does not look good.

I have a suspicion that the Wonder Woman pilot (and subsequent TV show) is going to be a lot like the costume.  It's flashy, it's got some intelligence to the design, but ultimately it's not going to be all that interesting.  I'm not even sure the generalities of plot that are intended to just prolong the life of the series instead of providing genuine intrigue and plot twists (see also the recent attempt to revive The Bionic Woman) will keep this rolling.  Just these bits seem to say the series wants to be its own entity and not exist in Lynda Carter's shadow, but at the same time, is too scared to really step that far from it.  I think it's going to be mediocre at best and will live on in slash fiction, not on TV.