I dread finding out how big the bears in this forest are.
The only implication scarier than the forest life that dwarfs these children is their camping setup. There are three professionally put-up tents and three children, two of whom appear to be fishing in the reeds outside a body of water. The last child seems to be doing some sort of combat pose.
These kids are hardcore, is what I’m saying.
Thanks Betty. You can see the original on Wolf.
Why A Man Cannot Have Wings
Because he will crash land on his head, assuming it to be
The strongest part of his body.
Because someone will put up a sign that reads:
Do Not Step on the Cirrus Clouds.
Because it does not even take a man hundreds of feet above
Sea-level to learn contempt.
Because there will be new categories of handicaps: bow-wings,
Ostrich disease, scaly feathers, carousel flight syndrome,
Or at a freak show: The Amazing Wingless Wonder.
Because he will have a new weapon, gravity,
And everything he releases becomes a missile,
Even glass marbles, books, the fatal music box.
Because he is lonely enough without being able to
Frame the house he lives in between his forefinger and thumb.
Because then the sky will shed its metaphors of freedom
And become another path for him to carry his burdens.
Because there will be a popular form of suicide:
Flying into foreign airspace and being gunned down;
All it takes is a nose-tip to press an invisible blue button.
Because each death in mid-air, each comic comet plunge,
Will be another enactment of the fall of Man.
Because in concentration camps people will break wings
And use the feathers for quills to write sonnets
And pillow stuffing for innocent dreams.
Because he will have less to fantasize about, less of miracles
And the word 'levitation' will not exist.
Because there will be children who will empty their bladders
Under cloud cover in an attempt to make yellow snow.
And because he might get the wrong notion that he is closer
To heaven, when he has not even come to a mile
Within the presence of angels, despite the resemblance.
Most writers are the same way. Grant Morrison is one of the few who I can think of who can write an excellent version of both. (Which may explain why writing World's Finest/Superman/Batman is so tricky.)
In Action #26, "MONSTER", Greg Pak, who I hadn't been impressed with up till now--shows he "gets" Superman.
( Read more... )
1. You know who else used to shake hands? Apparently John McCain believes that Cuba has just annexed the Sudetenland. But McCain’s hyperbole and hyperventilating shouldn’t cause us to overlook the significance of the human rights violations still going on in Cuba. Hundreds of political prisoners have been detained there indefinitely, without charges and without trial, for more than a decade now. Oh, wait …
2. Speaking of American colonies, John Fea highlights Tanya Basu’s National Geographic article, “Have We Found the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?” It’s a fun bit of speculation based on a symbol discovered hidden on an early map — could that be where the lost colony will be found? I’ll just note that “Croatoan” is an anagram for “A cat or no,” which suggests, a la Schrödinger, that the colony is both there and not there until we observe it as being either one or the other.
3. Brave Colorado gun-owner stands his ground against disabled children hogging handicapped space in Walmart parking lot.
4. I’ve mentioned this before, but the United States — one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in the history of the world — still has zero offshore wind farms. That’s inexcusable. We need the energy and this clean, renewable energy is there for the taking.
The UK has offshore wind. So do Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Sweden, South Korea and Belgium. But despite being blessed with more than 12,000 miles of coastline, the U.S. still has no offshore wind farms.
Grist’s John Upton reports on another reason this is inexcusable:
Stanford University researchers used computer simulations to calculate that a protective wall of 70,000 offshore wind turbines built 60 miles offshore from New Orleans would have reduced Hurricane Katrina’s wind speeds by 50 percent by the time it reached land. The storm surges that toppled levees would have been reduced by nearly three-quarters. And a lot of electricity would have been produced, to boot, with the spinning of the wind turbines absorbing much of the storm’s power.
A similar array off the coast of New York or New Jersey could have reduced Hurricane Sandy’s wind speeds by 65 miles per hours, the scientists found.
5. Kids who are home-schooled with the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum get really good grades. Is this because: A) Quentin Tarentino; B) a gerbil; C) Prince Albert in a can; D) The multiple choice tests supplied by ACE are absurd and absurdly easy. Jonny Scaramanga of Leaving Fundamentalism provides 33 actual examples of “jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions” used by the fundamentalist curriculum, noting that this “this academically third-rate and theologically fourth-rate” system is being used in 6,000 schools worldwide.
6. American Family Association radio host and AIDS-denying racist Bryan Fischer does, at least, serve the useful function of clarifying right-wing arguments by stating them more explicitly than his more pragmatic co-belligerents:
You can ban a monument to Satan because that’s not Christianity. … You can say “No, we’re not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we’re not going to have that monument.” If we don’t understand the word “religion” to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains.
One reason the Manhattan Declaration was so horribly written was that its authors had to twist themselves into knots trying to say exactly that without coming right out and admitting it like Fischer does.
7. Here’s Amos Lee singing John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison.” With a chorus that starts “Wait a while eternity,” this might kind of also qualify as an advent song:
The internet of things may be coming to us all faster and harder than we'd like.
Reports coming out of Russia suggest that some Chinese domestic appliances, notably kettles, come kitted out with malware—in the shape of small embedded computers that leech off the mains power to the device. The covert computational passenger hunts for unsecured wifi networks, connects to them, and joins a spam and malware pushing botnet. The theory is that a home computer user might eventually twig if their PC is a zombie, but who looks inside the base of their electric kettle, or the casing of their toaster? We tend to forget that the Raspberry Pi is as powerful as an early 90s UNIX server or a late 90s desktop; it costs £25, is the size of a credit card, and runs off a 5 watt USB power source. And there are cheaper, less competent small computers out there. Building them into kettles is a stroke of genius for a budding crime lord looking to build a covert botnet.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about.
I have an iPad. (You may be an Android or Windows RT proponent. Don't stop reading: this is just as applicable to you, too.) I mostly use it as a reacreational gizmo for reading and watching movies, and a little light gaming. But from time to time it's handy to have a keyboard—I use it for email too. So I bought one of these (warning: don't buy it direct, it costs a lot less than £90 on the high street). It's a lovely piece of kit: charges over micro-USB, magnetically clips to the front of the iPad to cover it when not in use, communicates via bluetooth.
But I suddenly had a worrying thought.
This keyboard contains an embedded device powerful enough to run a bluetooth stack. The additional complexity of adding wifi is minimal, as is the power draw if it's designed right. Here's an SD card, with wifi. It's aimed at camera owners: the idea is it can automatically upload your snapshots to the cloud. Turns out it runs Linux and it's hackable.
Look at that cute Logitech bluetooth keyboard. There's a lot of space in it, behind the slot the iPad sits in. Presumably that chunk of the case is full of battery, and the small embedded computer that handles the bluetooth stack. Even if it isn't hackable in its own right, what's to stop someone from buying a bunch of bluetooth keyboards and installing a hidden computer in them? Done properly it'll run a keylogger and some sniffing tools to gather data about the device it's connected to. It stays silent until it detects an open wifi network. Then it can hook up and hork up a hairball of personal data—anything you typed on it—at a command and control server. Best do it stealthily: between the hours of 1am and 4am, and in any event not less than an hour after the most recent keypress.
I hear tablets are catching on everywhere. Want to dabble in industrial espionage? Get a guy with a clipboard to walk into an executive's office and swap their keyboard for an identical-looking one. When they come back from lunch they'll suffer a moment of annoyance when their iPad or Microsoft Surface turns out to have forgotten it's keyboard. But they'll get it paired up again fast, and forget all about it.
I don't want you to think I'm picking on Logitech, by the way. Exactly the same headache applies to every battery-powered bluetooth keyboard. I'm dozy and slow on the uptake: I should have been all over this years ago.
And it's not just keyboards. It's ebook readers. Flashlights. Not your smartphone, but the removable battery in your smartphone. (Have you noticed it running down just a little bit faster?) Your toaster and your kettle are just the start. Could your electric blanket be spying on you? Koomey's law is going to keep pushing the power consumption of our devices down even after Moore's law grinds to a halt: and once Moore's law ends, the only way forward is to commoditize the product of those ultimate fab lines, and churn out chips for pennies. In another decade, we'll have embedded computers running some flavour of Linux where today we have smart inventory control tags—any item in a shop that costs more than about £50, basically. Some of those inventory control tags will be watching and listening to us; and some of their siblings will, repurposed, be piggy-backing a ride home and casing the joint.
The possibilities are endless: it's the dark side of the internet of things. If you'll excuse me now, I've got to go wallpaper my apartment in tinfoil ...
December 12, 2003, here on slacktivist: Reagan’s Bind
Reagan’s Bind” describes the conundrum in which one is unable to explain or defend one’s actions except by ascribing them to either: A) malicious intent; or B) glaring stupidity and/or incompetence.
To be caught in Reagan’s Bind is like being pinned in wrestling, or checkmated in chess. Actually, in terms of chess, it’s a bit more like realizing that the knight placing your king in check is simultaneously threatening your queen.
I have called this “Reagan’s Bind” in keeping with the current trend of naming everything after the 40th president, but also because Ronald Reagan provided the most spectacular example of this during the Iran-Contra scandal of his second term.
The American people were shocked to be presented with hard evidence that members of the Reagan administration were not only “negotiating with terrorists,” but actually selling them weapons. What’s more, the proceeds were being used to fund other terrorists in a flagrant violation of U.S. law.
The president’s options were binary. Either he knew about these arms sales — in which case he had violated the law and his oath and was therefore unfit for office; or else this massive operation was going on right under his nose at the White House but he was oblivious — in which he was so astoundingly incompetent that he was probably still unfit for office.
The classic example of Reagan’s Bind.
Reagan pled incompetence, arguing essentially that he was an idiot, but not a crook. He had no idea this was going on in his White House, he testified.
Showed that anything more spectacular had occurred
Than the usual drowning. The police preferred to ignore
The confusing aspects of the case,
And the witnesses ran off to a gang war.
So the report filed and forgotten in the archives read simply
“Drowned,” but it was wrong: Icarus
Had swum away, coming at last to the city
Where he rented a house and tended the garden.
“That nice Mr. Hicks” the neighbors called,
Never dreaming that the gray, respectable suit
Concealed arms that had controlled huge wings
Nor that those sad, defeated eyes had once
Compelled the sun. And had he told them
They would have answered with a shocked,
No, he could not disturb their neat front yards;
Yet all his books insisted that this was a horrible mistake:
What was he doing aging in a suburb?
Can the genius of the hero fall
To the middling stature of the merely talented?
And nightly Icarus probes his wound
And daily in his workshop, curtains carefully drawn,
Constructs small wings and tries to fly
To the lighting fixture on the ceiling:
Fails every time and hates himself for trying.
He had thought himself a hero, had acted heroically,
And dreamt of his fall, the tragic fall of the hero;
But now rides commuter trains,
Serves on various committees,
And wishes he had drowned.
(My last Icarus poem for the week, I promise - though I do have more...Normal service will be resumed shortly.)
The Ambassador, Cleopatra, The Ore-Master…what do they have to do with Thatcher Jerome, a mid-level mobster involved with business on Astro City’s rivers? And how does all-out Super Hero battle change his world? A tale of opportunity, ambition and family ties—in a world where even the sky’s not the limit.
( Read more... )
Well, I moved from a small Midwestern city to an even smaller Midwestern city, so compared to moving to an island or a desert or something, it's not a huge change. But there are some changes.
- My skills at driving in snow, which I was proud of as only a born Southerner can be proud of such things, turn out only to apply in flat places. I'm having to re-learn how to drive a car on a slippery surface on hills. (I knew you could downshift even in my automatic-transmission car, but I had to get the owner's manual out to figure out how.)
- Popcorn seems to be filling the same niche in office culture that doughnuts filled in Old City. About once a week a whisper will go around my office: "Pam went to Frank's! There's Frank's in the kitchen!" and then everybody goes in and comes out with a paper towel full of popcorn. I'm not complaining -- popcorn doesn't bother me, whereas the older I get the more I'm subject to Doughnut Stomach -- but it's kind of odd.
- They call parking garages "ramps" and sledding "sleigh-riding."
( Read more... )
I like it here, I really do, and I need to keep remembering that, instead of letting my entire life be dominated by the fact that I don't have a real job yet.
"Well, it’s Giffen-DeMatteis-Maguire doing what we do: high adventure through a lens of what I like to call neo-vaudeville. Lee and Kirby by way of Woody Allen and Monty Python, all of it rooted, first and foremost, in the characters. That said, this is a very different group—there’s no Beetle or Booster in sight—so they’ll dictate the tone as much as we do." - J.M. DeMatteis
"Absolutely. Why mess with what works? Now I know there are certain, quite vocal, folks out there who want their comics grim and gritty and heart attack serious and bleak and wretched but those aren't the readers we're shooting for." - Keith Giffen
( Bringing back the Bwa-ha-ha )
Well done if you spotted it already!
Hey, an anthology I’m part of is being Kickstarted right now! It’s another fairy tales book, this time African instead of Europeon tales, and it’s got some amazing names attached, go have a look!
Support the comic, buy some neat swag!
Now subside his memories of the labyrinth.
the only memory: how the shouts and the confusion rose
until at last they swung themselves up from the earth.
And how all the canyons that always clamoured
for their bridges in his chest
slowly closed, like eyelids,
how birds streaked by, like shuttles or shooting arrows,
and at last the final lark, brushing his hand,
hurtling like song.
Then followed the labyrinth of winds, with its blind bulls,
light-calls and precipices,
with its staggering breath, which he long
and arduously learnt to parry,
until it rose again, his gaze and his flight.
Now he climbs alone, in a heaven without clouds,
in a birdless space among the jet planes' roar...
climbs towards an ever clearer sun,
becoming ever cooler, ever colder,
Upwards towards his own surging blood and the souls' vanishing waterfall,
a shut-in in a howling lift,
an air bubble's journey in the ocean towards the magnetic mirage of the surface:
the amnion's bursting, transparently near,
the whirlwind of signs, spring tide borne, plummeting azure,
tumbling walls, and drunkenly the cry from the other side:
but reality born!
( Swedish original behind the cut )