September 1st, 2013


Who Let You Back In Here?

Paula Dean appeared on Fox television's Master Chef on Wednesday night.

Wednesday night was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

Fox said they couldn't edit her out of the episode.

Apparently, they didn't think to just postpone it.


And The Battle Continues

Okay.  DOMA is history, and the biggest obstacle to guaranteeing equal rights and protection under the law is going away.

Here's the next objective:

There's a little government code called Title 38.  "Certain provisions in title 38, United States Code, define ‘spouse’ and ‘surviving spouse’ to refer only to a person of the opposite-sex. Under these provisions, a same-sex marriage recognized by a State would not confer spousal status for purposes of eligibility of VA benefits. Although the title 38 definition of ‘spouse’ and ‘surviving spouse’ are similar to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provision at issue in United States v. Windsor, no court has yet held the title 38 definitions to be unconstitutional.”  That is a quote from a letter written by Eric, Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, sent out on August 14.

In other words, all you military people who thought your rights were recognized?  Well...they're not.

Now, don't think that Shinseki is being smug.  His letter makes it abundantly clear that both he and Obama want something done about Title 38, like, right now (I must admit I'm disappointed Obama doesn't just use his executive powers like Harry Truman and say, "No, this is what's happening, so there."  It's a shame we need court or Congressional action just to do the right thing).  And in Congress, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) is leading the charge.  She's it the co-sponsor of the Charlie Morgan Act.  Basically, it obliterates Title 38 off the books.  "We need to pass the Charlie Morgan Act to bring Department of Veteran Affairs benefits policy in line with the Supreme Court's ruling striking down DOMA.  We can't tolerate this type of discrimination, especially in the aftermath of a historic Supreme Court ruling that declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional."

So break out those pens and papers and let your Congressmen know you want this bill passed.  We must forge the world we want to live in.
Let Me Tell You Why That's Bullshit

All's Fair In Love And War...And In Politics, Unfortunately

On January 8, 2011, US Rep Gabrielle Giffords was at a political rally in her home state of Arizona when a horrible monster drew a gun and shot her in the head.  Giffords was just inches away from dying, and among the people trying to keep her alive was campaign intern Daniel Hernandez.  He held her in his arms, held her hand, rode with her in the ambulance, and tried frantically to contact her husband.  Everyone agreed he acted like a hero.

Hernandez has since gone to sit on the Sunnyside Unified School District Board.  Been there for about two years.

Hernandez is also gay.

Some of you are probably wondering, "Why do you bring that up?  Do you have a problem with him being gay?"


But his political opponents do.

When Hernandez first ran for the post, there was a lot of talk about him "not being a real man."  Now, Hernandez is fighting for his political life as a recall effort has been mounted, and the "not a real man" thing is getting extra ammunition.  Smear-campaign posters are circulating in the area to the school board's constituents, stating that, because Hernandez is gay, he doesn't support athletics or care about kids.  The posters defiantly conclude, "We don't need someone who hates our values."

Marcos Castro is behind the recall effort (he denies it, but his signature is right there on the recall petition, so you do the math).  He's also the campaign manager for Louie Gonzales, who is running for Hernandez's seat.  Coincidence, you say!  Castro has received shipments of smear campaign posters at his own house.  Still says he has nothing to do with it.  So does Gonzales.

A real leader would stand up and say, "Those of you mounting this smear campaign to help me win?  Stop it.  Help me win with votes, not discrimination."  They don't hide behind a "know nothing" statement.

Shell Game

Around the state of Nevada, work began on building McMansions, solar plants, and strip malls all over the desert.  The result of this overdevelopment was the natural habitat of the desert tortoise was getting taken over, and the species landed on the Endangered Species list.

In a frantic effort to combat this, work began on the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center just outside of Las Vegas.  Completed in 1990, it is currently home to about 1,400 tortoises.  It costs roughly $1 mil a year to run.

The sanctuary was initially self-sufficient.  The Bureau Of Land Management would charge fees to real estate developers choosing to build on the tortoises' habitat (yeah, that must have been a real deterrent. -- G), and funded the sanctuary from that.  But when the housing market collapsed in 2008, no one is developing anymore, so there are no more fees coming in.  And with no more fees, there's supposedly no money to give the sanctuary.  (I say "supposedly" because, with all the wasteful government spending going on, they can't spare the $1 mil for that?)  The sanctuary is expected to close up in early 2014.  The sturdiest specimens will be released back into the wild, but about half of the 1,400 tortoises are considered too feeble and will be killed.

Interesting to think the tortoises will survive as long as there isn't money to be made.
Derpy Stamp

Letters From Our Readers: Music Has Charms That Soothe The Savage Breast

Christ, why did I wake up this morning?

Yesterday, I posted the video of playthrough of the "game" Escape From Lavender Town.  I included an epilepsy warning for the flashing images.

Today, I get a message from a guy off the feeds calling me irresponsible.  I didn't even have to read it to know what he was going to bitch about.

"You didn't warn about the music!  What if someone gets a seizure because of you?!?"

I'm not sure if this guy is just trolling or stupid.  Since assuming he's stupid gives me the chance to assert my superiority, I'm going to go with that scenario.

For those who don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, it's one of the classic urban legends of gaming.  The music of Lavender Town is a very depressing funeral dirge played almost exclusively in flat tones.  According to legend, listening to music through headphones (because the GameBoy speaker is shit) can trigger mental illness including paranoia, depression, and possible suicide.

Now, people have found ways to make music and sounds trigger mental reactions, so this is vaguely possible.  In those cases, the person is usually in some other state of altered consciousness at the time (i.e. they are already high to begin with), and alpha waves are all over the self-help section.  But this is literally power of suggestion, and I can prove it.

A guy on YouTube made a video with the music, and he got people talking about the tones causing headaches and such in the listeners.

Problem:  the tones that supposedly trigger the reactions appear after about a minute and a half into the song.

The music from the video never gets that far, it only repeats about the first minute.

People were reacting to music tones that aren't even there.

The Lavender Town theme is creepy.  It's depressing.  But it's not mind control.  Nothing is going to happen.

Will The Mystery Mutant Sign In Please?

CableLots of comic book characters have very straightforward origins.  We know all the details of their lives and why they do what they do.  Spider-Man.  Superman.  The Punisher.  Green Lantern.

The only place we don't really know everything about the characters before their story begins is in the Marvel X-Men titles.  The basic rule is obscurity.  It was how it was when the series first started, with Professor X turning his loyal students out to battle Magneto without anyone really knowing any of their backstories.  This continued on, with characters turning up and hints but no answers, such as Bishop recognizing Gambit from the future.  Or even just the massive "Wait...what?" that is the origin of Wolverine.

Into this morass of mystery came one of the most polarizing creations of the day, Cable.  Bob Harras, the Marvel mutant editor at the time, felt New Mutants needed to get shaken up a bit and asked Louise Simonson, the current writer, and Rob Liefeld, the current artist, to gin something up.  Simonson figured the result would be a more military leader, and started coming up with storylines involving "Commander X."

It is important to note that Liefeld claims the name "Commander X" was lame (like "Cable" is some sort of improvement), but Simonson denies she intended that to be the name -- it was just a placeholder for what she was writing, and she'd insert the "official" name once the final decision was made.  This might seem like a silly point to bring up, but it does tie in with where this eventually goes.

Harras and Liefeld were buddies, and Liefeld was encouraged to do whatever to create this new character.  They were likewise thinking military leader.  Liefeld wanted the opposite of Charles Xavier (which we already had in the form of Magneto.  But I digress).  Liefeld's only real instruction from Harras was that "a bionic eye might look cool."  Liefeld came up with a slew of sketches and backstories.  Harras eventually settled on a mysterious time traveler that we now know as "Cable."

The first appearance of Cable was also the first appearance of his enemy, Stryfe.  Liefeld kept details of the two characters intentionally vague.  In fact, the time-travel aspect wasn't revealed until several issues later.  He wanted a Wolverine-type thing -- Wolvie's history was constantly being tinkered with and new revelations were constantly popping up, and he wanted that kind of thing with Cable, and with Stryfe tied so closely to Cable, that meant he had to be kept vague as well.

The fandom pretty much split down the middle.  There were people who thought Cable is a pretty cool guy.  Eh kills mutants and doesn't afraid of anything.  Then there were people like me who saw Cable as the anti-thesis of Xavier's dream and wanted Magneto to kick his ass and show him how it's done.  Liefeld continued to write his stories, content with one important fact.  He generated the character in a bubble.  Harras gave him no instructions and didn't ask too many questions.  Simonson wasn't involved in the creation process of the character.  No one else in the creative team knew anything about the history of Stryfe and his connection to Cable.

In other words, there was only one person in the entire world who knew exactly who Cable really was.

Fan speculation ran rampant.  Some thought Cable was actually Nathan Summers.  Another theory was that he was Ahab.  Some were speculating that Stryfe was actually a clone of Cable, others felt the opposite (clones were big at the time).  Liefeld's original idea for who Stryfe was was actually pretty interesting -- Stryfe and Cable weren't clones of each other, they were the same person.  Stryfe is a future version of Cable.  Cable fell back in time and memory holes erased part of his memory, including who he really was.  Liefeld figured that we didn't know exactly where in Cable's history we were when he turned up in the present day, and originally intended to follow Cable's descent into madness and eventual turning into Stryfe (see the last page of New Mutants #100 when Stryfe takes off his helmet for the first time).  I talk a lot of shit about Liefeld, but credit where it's due, that's actually pretty interesting.

Things got dicey when Whilce Portacio, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras brainstormed during preparations for the X-Ecutioner's Song crossover.  They decided that Cable was actually Nathan Summers from the future and Stryfe was a clone of Cable.  Realizing his grand plan and revelation was scuppered, Liefeld kept his mouth shut.  As debate over who created Cable continued, one of Liefeld's comrades at Image accidentally stoked the flames as to his true identity.  Jim Valentino wrote to Comic Buyer's Guide that he had had enough and, taking Liefeld aside, asked him point blank who Cable really was.  Liefeld made him promise not to tell.  Valentino agreed.

Liefeld told him.

Valentino wrote that he never expected who it was in a million years.  He could now see the hints of what would happen, but he never put it together.

But Valentino never revealed who Liefeld told him it was.

And the speculation continued.  People asking, people wondering.  The only real clue was that Liefeld had stated he never intended Cable to be Nathan Summers.  What about Ahab?  Ahab was the focus of the mutant books' crossover that took place in the annuals.  But Claremont wrote the storyline, and he wasn't involved in the creation of Cable.  Fabian Nicieza has stated on the record that Harras suggested putting the hints in there as a red herring to throw off readers and keep them guessing.  So Cable was not intended to be Ahab.

So, if Cable was not originally going to be one of those two, who could he be?

Liefeld was asked by Brian Cronin of Comics Should Be Good about a rumor that had been circulating.  The rumor stated that Cable was actually a future version of Sam Guthrie, a.k.a. Cannonball.

Liefeld told him yes.

Liefeld's idea was that the memory bubbles Cable got subjected to when he fell through time erased his knowledge of his identity.  So he had no idea was actually mentoring himself when he took over the New Mutants and formed X-Force.

So there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth.