Was it worth it?

23 August 2017 07:33 pm
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This week Generations: The Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor came out. If you like Jason Aaron's Thor run (which stretches back to November 2012*) then Jason Aaron's enerations: The Unworthy Thor & The Mighty Thor is another issue of Jason Aaron's Thor. I enjoyed it immensely.

Unfortunately, the labelling makes it slightly confusing as to who actually appears.

While there is no doubt as to who is the Mighty Thor, the Unworthy Thor isn't who might first come to mind. A better term might be the Pre-Worthy Thor who has not yet proved himself worthy of wielding a Mjolnir, rather than the Post-Worthy Thor with the Uru arm, who lost Mjolnir and took up Jarnbjorn because Nick Fury whispered to him on the moon.

Generations is a decent self-contained story (but with a shoe-horned in epilogue that does nothing for me) about why a Thor needs Midgard and what it means to be a God and when Thor first met Thor )
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Posted by Beth Skwarecki

iPhone Voice training app Vanido has an important new feature: it can help you learn to sing Bohemian Rhapsody (or, if you must, other songs.) You need a Spotify or Apple Music subscription to use the feature. Also a good memory, because it doesn’t give you karaoke-style lyrics to follow. Download Vanido for iOS here.

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Posted by Patrick Allan

When you travel around the world, you probably aim to be respectful of each and every culture you encounter. But you’d be surprised how easy it is to be rude without knowing.

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Posted by Lauren Evans

If September fills you with back-to-school nostalgia, you’ll probably be pleased by the many throwbacks coming to Netflix next month. Sharpen some new pencils as Vincent Vega plunges a syringe into Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction! Cover your textbooks while Todd Anderson climbs onto a desk in Dead Poets Society! Make a…

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Posted by Erik Loomis

Trump’s selection as deputy Secretary of Labor is Patrick Pizella, whose previous career included working with Jack Abramoff to turn the Northern Mariana Islands into what corporations would like to see throughout the United States–an area of free market extremism, replete with sweatshop labor and other free market wet dreams such as school vouchers.

When Abramoff signed the CNMI government as a client in July 1995, the US Senate had already unanimously passed a bill to strip the islands of its minimum-wage exemption, setting up what looked to be an uncontentious vote in the House. The year before, representatives from the Interior and Labor departments and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service had testified at a Senate hearing about mistreatment of foreign workers. CNMI Gov. Froilan Tenorio joined them to say he was “disgusted” and “ashamed” by the stories of human rights abuses. “Unfortunately,” he added at the hearing, “they are generally accurate.” Still, the workers kept coming. According to a 1998 federal government report, “indentured alien workers,” mostly from Bangladesh, China, and the Philippines, made up 91 percent of the CNMI’s private-sector workforce. The majority of citizens, on the other hand, worked in better-paid government jobs. Immigration laws that were supposed to protect the CNMI’s indigenous population had made many citizens into overlords who were outnumbered by their guest workers.

ut Tenorio argued that the CNMI could fix the problems without eliminating the exemptions. Other lobbyists, Abramoff wrote in his memoir, told Tenorio that preserving them was a lost cause. Abramoff disagreed. To save them, Abramoff wrote, he told the governor’s chief of staff that the CNMI just needed to convince the conservatives running Congress that the fight was about defending a free market.

In a 1995 pitch letter to Tenorio, Abramoff argued that personal tours could help sway public officials. Pizzella led this effort. By his second month on the job, Pizzella was spending more than 100 billable hours per month on the CNMI account, about as much as Abramoff. The centerpiece of Pizzella’s work was organizing all-inclusive junkets for members of Congress and their wives, congressional staffers, and conservative influencers such as pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick—who now goes by her married name, Kellyanne Conway, and advises President Donald Trump—with first-class airfare and lodging at the beachfront Hyatt Regency on Saipan. “Pat’s very effective,” a former consultant to the CNMI told The New Republic in 2001. “Visitors to the island seemed to get all the right information.”

Pizzella’s first trip, in 1996, included meetings with the governor and the Saipan Garment Manufacturers Association and a tour of a garment factory; some later trips included meetings with human rights activists. Later that year, Abramoff wrote in an email to Herman Guerrero, a CNMI official, that “the recent Congressional staff trips have done more good for the CNMI than almost anything we have done in the past.”

The leisurely aspect of the trips seemed to help. “[S]ome of the group plans to play golf at LaoLao on monday afternoon and Kingfisher on Tuesday afternoon,” Pizzella emailed Guerrero, “please arrange for that authorization letter to the managers at each course indicating we will be renting clubs etc…that worked very, very well last visit.” Another trip included a weekend layover in Hawaii on the way back, according to an email from Pizzella. The New York Times summed up the trips with the headline “They Came. They Saw. They Golfed.”

After they got back, they wrote. Clint Bolick, a co-founder of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm, reported shortly after returning that the CNMI boasted “perhaps the most vibrant economy in the United States. The secret: largely unregulated markets that in two decades have created out of almost nothing head-spinning economic growth, productivity, and prosperity.”

Bolick, who is now a state Supreme Court justice in Arizona, and others were particularly impressed that Gov. Tenorio supported conservative priorities like school vouchers. That wasn’t an accident. The year before, Pizzella had discussed vouchers and a flat tax with the conservative Heritage Foundation and the libertarian Cato Institute on behalf of the CNMI’s government. “Our travelers ate this up,” Abramoff wrote in his memoir. “The conservative groups in Washington had found a new hero in this Democratic governor of our least populated territory.”

In other words, the perfect Republican! Once again, I posit that the real threat this nation faces is not Donald Trump. It’s the Republican Party, for which someone like Abramoff and Pizella are not only just good soldiers, but leaders, creating the glorious future of free markets.

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23 August 2017 01:56 pm
yhlee: Angel Investigations' card ("Hope lies to mortals": A.E. Housman). (AtS hope)
[personal profile] yhlee
I am finding that I would really like to have a sea/ocean icon. I like blues/teals and I am also fond of seahorses and sand dollars. Would anyone be willing to make me an icon from some public domain image in exchange for a flash fiction or simple cartoon/sketch or something?

ETA: While I'm at it, what's the difference besides animation style between Star Wars: Clone Wars (older, 2D animation) and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (newer, 3D animation)? I am strongly biased aesthetically toward 2D animation but will watch the latter if the story/characters are good...

Dream

23 August 2017 12:55 pm
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)
[personal profile] zulu
Last night I dreamt that I was heading to teach my first class of the semester, only to realize that a) I had probably never finished my university's second language requirements, and b) I was naked.

I am not even teaching this term, subconscious! Seriously!

TFW illiteracy inspires hope

23 August 2017 11:35 am
elf: Animated image of planetoid Eris (Eris is a Planet)
[personal profile] elf
Trump could launch a nuclear attack in 4 minutes discusses how the launch code system works, and how few checks and balances it has - basically none.

The "nuclear football" is a briefcase carrying the codes; it goes with the president everywhere. The article mentions that, hypothetically, the aide who carries it could refuse to hand it over - but that would (1) be illegal and (2) get him fired. Full cooperation is legally required. So, ok, odds of the president saying, "That Kim guy just insulted me on Twitter; I'm gonna blast him to the stone age; hand me that briefcase" and being told, "no, Mr. President, I'm not going to do that" are thin.

However... full cooperation doesn't necessarily mean "offering the kind of help that a PA/exec assistant provides."
The Football is actually full of binders and plans for war, so that a President can flip through it and decide what kind of nuclear war he wants to launch -- then he communicates that order to the Pentagon or Raven Rock, where it's promptly executed. There's a visual guide as part of the Football that one military aide referred to as the "Denny's Menu" of nuclear war. But other aides have darkly joked there are really just three options: Rare, Medium and Well-Done.
(Emphasis added) So... it involves reading. It involves finding data in a binder, and deciding what to do with that data. And while that info is likely well-referenced and explained, maybe even with simple flowcharts... the president is borderline functionally illiterate. His ability to grab information out of text may basically not exist.

If the president wants to launch WWIII, it's possible that all his staff has to do to stop him is not agree to help.
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Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.It’s Links time! Here we show some cool stuff that’s been going around the internet and social media. We think it’s a nice Hump Day distraction when you need a bit of a work break.

The Ripped Bodice has started a Patreon for any romance readers who want to support the store, but can’t quite make it out to Culver City just yet. Reward perks include book recommendations and a video from Fitz!

Attention fantasy lovers! N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season has been picked up by TNT for a TV series:

N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo Award-winning sci-fi fantasy novel The Fifth Season is getting the drama series treatment at TNT. The project is in early development at the cable network with Leigh Dana Jackson (24: Legacy, Sleepy Hollow) set to pen the adaptation and Imperative Entertainment’s (All the Money in the World) Dan Friedkin, Tim Kring and Justin Levy serving as executive producers.

No release date as of yet, but I’m sure we’ll all have plenty of time to read (or re-read) the book before the show comes out!

One of my favorite things from Twitter is the birth of Janet the superhero.

The twig is used to “smack jerks down.” And there’s been an awesome collection of Janet fanart circulating.


Battery chargers!

Every few months a bigger, better, and lighter weight battery charger comes out. At this point I have 3 in various sizes—lipstick sized, 6.5oz, and the 12.5oz, which lives in our travel bag. I can recharge my kids' DS, tablets, my phone, etc, before it runs out of charge. - SW


Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester has been adapted into a play by the Lifeline Theater in Chicago:

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, was born with wealth and good looks, but a life of privilege has rendered him unfeeling towards others. Phoebe Marlow was graced with a sparkling wit and independent spirit, but languishes under the thumb of her domineering stepmother. When this mismatched couple is thrust together by their meddling families, both rebel and their tidy little worlds spin into chaos. Midnight flights, desperate sea voyages, and scathing society hijinks ensue as these unlikely lovers labor to avoid their fate. Grab the reins and charge headlong into a topsy-turvy tale of madcap romance in this world premiere comedy based on the 1957 novel by Georgette Heyer. The production runs approximately two hours with one intermission. The novel will be on sale in the lobby.

Anyone in the Chicago area plan on seeing it?

….

Lastly, big thanks to all the readers who sent this article my way: Romance Novels, Generated by Artificial Intelligence:

I’ve always been fascinated with romance novels — the kind they sell at the drugstore for a couple of dollars, usually with some attractive, soft-lit couples on the cover. So when I started futzing around with text-generating neural networks a few weeks ago, I developed an urgent curiosity to discover what artificial intelligence could contribute to the ever-popular genre. Maybe one day there will be entire books written by computers. For now, let’s start with titles.</p?

I gathered over 20,000 Harlequin Romance novel titles and gave them to a neural network, a type of artificial intelligence that learns the structure of text. It’s powerful enough to string together words in a way that seems almost human. 90% human. The other 10% is all wackiness.

It’s hard to pick a favorite title. Sex BellsPregnant for the Rage, and Midwife Cowpoke are some top contenders.

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

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(Duke University) A powerful shockwave from the H.L. Hunley's own weapon killed the crew of the Confederate combat submarine as it sunk a Union ship. This finding comes from a four-year research project that involved repeatedly setting blasts near a scale model, shooting authentic weapons at historically accurate iron plate and many calculations on human respiration and the transmission of blast energy by Rachel Lance, a 2016 Ph.D. graduate of Duke Engineering.

Reading Wednesday

23 August 2017 12:26 pm
yuuago: (Small Trolls - Veeti - Skygazing)
[personal profile] yuuago
Last Finished: My Brother's Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. Absolutely lovely manga. The library only has the first volume right now, but hopefully they'll get the rest as it becomes available - I really want to read more of it.

Currently Reading: Forge by Jan Zwicky. Poetry collection, Canadian author. Lots of inspiration taken from classical music here. Also little sprinklings of winter imagery here and there, which is nice. Definitely one that I'll keep and read again.

Also currently reading: Still picking my way through With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz. I wish this came divided into two books; I'd probably be finished it by now if it were more portable.

Reading Next: I took Trans/Portraits by Jackson Wright Shultz out from the library, but... it seems a bit heavy for bus-reading. Might pick up something else first, depending on when I'm done with the poetry.
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Posted by Patrick Lucas Austin

The future is hell when it comes to device compatibility. Aside from updates bricking devices or rendering them obsolete, you’ll eventually need to buy all-new cables, connectors, and compatible devices to keep everything running (I’m looking at you, USB-C). It’s a hassle, especially when something as simple as your…

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Little Girl's Brother Gets Revenge and Ousts A Child Predator On the Internet

This girl's brother wasn't going to sit idly by and watch a grown man make moves on his 12 year old sister. He decided to take matters into his own hands and oust the creep on the internet. 

These messages are kinda disturbing.

The Brother Wrote:

"So I'm just gonna expose this goof that was msging my 12 year old sister and trying to sleep with her and admitted to being a pig hope everyone sees this it makes me sick!"

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