Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The economic geniuses in the Lib Dems strike again

Apparently the Liberal Democrats have a policy handbook which states they are

“...the only party who would use Gordon Brown’s wasted billions to create thousands of jobs today by investing in homes, hospitals, schools and public transport...”

How can you use money that’s been wasted? Surely if it’s been wasted then it’s not and never will be available to use again?

I am increasingly convinced that Vince Cable understands public finance about as well as Gordon Brown ever has...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whedonesque overloading. Here are Joss Whedon's comments on Dollhouse getting chopped

Hmm. Apparently my news is not news.

I don't have a lot to say. I'm extremely proud of the people I've worked with: my star, my staff, my cast, my crew. I feel the show is getting better pretty much every week, and I think you'll agree in the coming months. I'm grateful that we got to put it on, and then come back and put it on again.

I'm off to pursue internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I've read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you'll know what my next project is. But for now there's a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear.

Thank you all for your support, your patience, your excellent adverts. See you again. -j.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why UKIP is wrong, wrong, wrong

UKIP's poster on the Lisbon debate:

This is hardly constructive on UKIP's part. The two David Cameron “quotes” (I don’t think he’s said “no referendum” yet, but whatever) do not actually contradict one another. It is clear enough from the first that he was promising a pre-ratification referendum.

Cameron can’t turn back the clock once he takes office; whatever EU policy he takes will have to work from the starting point that Lisbon is already in place. A referendum on the narrow subject of the Lisbon Treaty (given how far the EU has managed to interfere in our lives even before it was introduced) would, at this point, be redundant.

And it’s shameful that UKIP is going after Cameron for this when Brown and Clegg, who did not support a referendum when it would have actually made a difference, are the real traitors. It is completely ridiculous for them to attack ONLY the most eurosceptic of your opponents for not being eurosceptic enough, when just about everybody else in politics is doing everything they can to entrench the United Kingdom into a European superstate, breaking far too many manifesto promises of their own in the process.

Hat tip to Guido for the UKIP poster.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jonathan Ross finally reveals some of his conversation with Steve Ditko

It starts at about 30 minutes into this rather excellent podcast. Here's a little excerpt where Ross starts talking about Steve Ditko's interpretation of a Spider-Man that thrives as a teenage boy, and diverging into his own opinion about a certain controversial topic:

Jonathan Ross: "If you look at what Marvel's doing with Spider-Man now of course, in the long run, he was proved right, because as soon as he became an adult - kids, and that's primarily who those books were aimed at, couldn't associate with him in any way. Y'know, I don't think any teenagers wanted to pick up Spider-Man and read about the problems he was having with his wife Mary Jane! Why do you want to read about a married superhero? Why did they let him get married, it was about the dumbest thing they ever did! Y'know, obviously I'm saying that with the benefit of hindsight, but it was stupid. I remember seeing the cover, Spider-Man gets married, I thought - oh please, for god's sake what's wrong with you."

He also says Ditko told him Spider-Man was meant to be purple and orange, instead of red and blue! I wonder if the character would still have taken off the way it did.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Re: #welovetheNHS

Just to dispel a myth: this isn't a Labour initiative, this was started by Graham Linehan, an Irish-born comedy writer who is fed up with all three parties over here and felt that the British public's view of the NHS was being misrepresented by people who should know better over there. (the hilarious Stephen Hawking gaffe, for example) It's disappointing that most of the right-of-centre blogs haven't acknowledged this because in my mind it creates yet another falsehood in a struggle that has too many falsehoods already.

However for UK political purposes it has been hijacked by Labour, indeed it features on their front page. Linehan is also unhappy about this and has started a #makelabourapologiseforiraq trend in revenge. (Not the most pointed kind of attack he could make, admittedly.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

An apology from the Sun

The original article, published on the 27th of January 2005 (now removed from their web site):

Gollum Joker Rail Horror

LORD Of The Rings fan Julian Brooker was electrocuted on a rail line while imitating his favourite character Gollum.

The 23-year-old scampered about on all fours like the 4ft hobbit and then pretended to touch a live track to impress his boozy friends.

But Julian accidentally DID touch the 750-volt third rail.

His horrified pals watched as a bolt of electricity blew him 15ft in the air and turned into a fireball.

Tragedy struck after he and pals spent a night drinking on the beach near his Brighton home on October 23 last year.
Friend Eva Natasha wept as she told an inquest how they went to London Road station at 4am and began playing “the Gollum game”.

She described how sales assistant Julian clambered from the platform on to the line.

She said: “He touched a rail and pretended to be electrocuted. I didn’t find it funny, but assumed he knew what he was doing.

“Then he touched the live rail once. He wouldn’t have touched it if he had known it was live.”

Locals heard Julian’s pals screaming and dialled 999 but he was certified dead at the scene.

Yesterday’s hearing was told Julian often got on all fours and pretended he was the evil character from the hit movie trilogy.

Tragic … Julian

Mum Vivienne Chauhan said: “It was a game from Lord Of The Rings. He was always larking about. He’d do it in the house and say he was ‘off creeping’.”

East Sussex coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley was also told Brooker was a keen numerologist obsessed with the number 23 and went drinking on that date every month.

Verdict: Accidental death.

But apparently this wasn't entirely accurate...

IN an article published on The Sun website on January 27 under the headline ?Gollum joker killed in live rail horror’ we incorrectly stated that Julian Brooker, 23, of Brighton, was blown 15ft into the air after accidentally touching a live railway line. His parents have asked us to make clear he was not turned into a fireball, was not obsessed with the number 23 and didn’t go drinking on that date every month.

Julian’s mother did not say, during or after the inquest, her son often got on all fours creeping around their house pretending to be Gollum.
Also, quotes from a witness should have been attributed to Gemma Costin not Eva Natasha. We apologise for the distress this has caused Julian’s family and friends

Alan Moore talking about Marvel's acquisition of Marvelman in May 2009

PÓM: OK. The only other thing about your previous work is, do you keep up with what’s going on with the Marvelman Miracleman debacle?

AM: Nah. I mean, other than the fact that I was happy to do everything that I could to help Mick Anglo, who is the person who has always owned all of the rights to Marvelman, as far as I now understand it, that we never had the rights to do those stories, even though Mick really liked the stories that we did. We didn’t understand at the time that Mick Anglo was the sole owner of the rights. We were misled. So I’ve done everything that I can to clear all that up. I’ve said that, they talked about the possibility – what they want is money quickly, because Mick’s a very old man, he’s got a sick wife to look after, and they could use some dosh quite quickly.

I mean, I believe that the Todd McFarlane thing, his ridiculous claims to the character have now been dropped, so it can move on. I believe that they’re going to be reprinting some of my stuff, but I’m not sure of all the details, I’ve just said, “Yeah, go ahead,” and all the money from the first book, from the first printing of the book, should go to Mick Anglo. They’ve also said that what if there’s a possibility of some animated Marvelman cartoons, and I’ve said, again, “Don’t put me name on them, and give all the money to Mick Anglo.” So I hope that some of it turns up in time to do Mick some good, because he’s a great artist, you know, the British comics scene would be poorer without him...

Courtesy of Forbidden Planet Blog.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Roger Stern took five panels and 26 years to tell a story

The above panels are from Amazing Spider-Man #238, dated March 1983, written by Roger Stern and drawn by John Romita Jr, introducing an aspect of Aunt May's backstory that was quite literally NEVER AGAIN referred to...

...until last month's Amazing Spider-Man Family #7, written by Roger Stern and drawn by Val Semeiks:

Which not only explains that 26-year-old throwaway line, but also Aunt May's heart condition and her dedication to fostering the young Peter Parker!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Quote of the day

"If the people of Lesbos are so short-sighted as to turn their backs on Sappho, of what is greatest in their inheritance, then I can think of a country that is proud to take up that legacy. Just as we're proud of course to be temporary custodians, if not permanent custodians, of the Elgin Marbles."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Winding up the cold caller

Phone rings. "Have you ever had any accidents or injuries?", he asks. Gah...

"I did once have an elevator fall on me. weighing about 80 tons. I was just walking along, when someone cut the cable and it fell on me."

"Where was this?" he asks.

"Swansea." "So, was that quite a serious injury?" "It put me in a coma for two months. but then I got up and walked away."

"So... er... you must be a pretty strong man..."

"Well... not really!"

*CLICK* as he hangs up...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

European Election predictions 2009

Tories will get over 30% of the vote. Everyone else under 20% - the small parties will have their vote split unevenly between them.

UKIP will, disappointingly for them, get fewer seats than last time - their attempt to capitalise on expenses-gate was only a short-lived success, partly undermined by their own expenses scandals on historical record.

The Greens will gain a seat or two because their anti-BNP tactical voting campaign has been (undeservedly) successful.

The Lib Dems aren't likely to make much progress; they're doing okay but the last Euro-election was at the height of their anti-Iraq-war movement exploitation madness and it'll be impossible for them to build on that, although the seats will probably shift around a bit to reflect the change in their support base.

The BNP will be lucky to get a single seat, I doubt it will happen (and hope it won't) but they won't get more than that (although it's not like we'd be the first country to elect a fascist into the European Parliament - in fact we may be the last!). A lot of the people who reckon they intend to vote BNP just aren't going to bother turning up to the polling station. The blitz of anti-BNP advertising was just a dogwhistle tactical wheeze by Labour...

No idea what will happen to the Labour vote, too many crazy things have happened in the past 48 hours but they will be in third if not fourth place.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wilson Vs Boyle

Professor David Wilson writes about why he thinks Susan Boyle should pull out of the final of Britain's Got Talent.

Prof Wilson should shut his mouth, it's deeply unprofessional for him to be offering his self-declared "expert" opinion on a subject he is not familiar with (and he's clearly not familiar with her given that she gave the exact same "childish wiggle" when she came on for her first audition), in public. And what's more, Britain's Got Talent is a talent contest, not a social experiment as he seemingly interprets Big Brother to be.

Wilson's suggestion that she should pull out is actually the absolute worst advice he could possibly give her - completely unconstructive - if the "fragility" stories are true they would only make matters worse, and if she followed that advice she would regret it for the rest of her life.

It's high time the media stopped paying lip service to this quack.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Illegal file-sharing

BBC: "Seven million use illegal files."

The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) warned it may be hard to change attitudes.

The government says work must be done internationally to tackle the problem.

Intellectual Property Minister David Lammy said the report put into context the impact illegal downloads had on copyright industries and the UK economy as a whole.

But he added: "This is not an issue confined by national boundaries and I am sure that other [EU] member states and their copyright industries will find this report of use in the development of policy."

My feeling is that people in the UK feel a sense of entitlement to entertainment content because they already pay a television licence fee and most of the British entertainment industry is also heavily subsidised by the taxpayer.

If the government is serious about changing attitudes so the copyright holder is respected it must scrap the licence fee and allow the entertainment industry to flourish in the free market where the general public get to decide what they want to see (and therefore what gets made) rather than some unelected quango (aka Mark Thompson).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dancing in the Gutters

Via JibJab I assembled this video on Saturday and tweeted it at Rich Johnston, writer of "Lying in the Gutters", the premier rumour column for the comic book industry.

By Sunday he'd retweeted it, leading to Heidi McDonald highlighting it on The Beat (and then bumping it the next day so everyone got a chance to see it), Joe Quesada boasting of his new physique, and Blog@Newsarama declaring this as an example of JibJab used "for evil" and "at this point, we probably deserve it".

And I presume that Leah Moore did not appreciate seeing her father dancing around like a stripper (sorry Leah, it never crossed my mind).

The all-star cast of recent editions of "Lying in the Gutters": Alan Moore, Joe Quesada, Rich Johnston, Dan Didio and Paterson Joseph, take it away!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not why Ditko left Marvel in the 60s

In response to Steve Ditko's fisking of Joe Quesada, one of the commenters, BobH, disputes the urban myth that Ditko left Marvel because of a dispute he had with Stan Lee over the identity of the Green Goblin. This isn't news to me; by all accounts the working relationship between the two creators had completely deteriorated, Ditko was unhappy at the lack of credit and renumeration he was getting for his work in creating Spider-Man, and Lee's dialogue often bore little resemblance to the stories Ditko was telling (my favourite example being the death of Mendell Stromm in ASM #37: Ditko draws a man shooting him to death, Lee's ludicrous dialogue has the gunman miss and Stromm "dying of a heart attack"). So to my mind the Goblin thing seems too trivial to be a tipping point (in fact given Ditko left a month after the Mendell Stromm issue I do wonder if it might have been that). However, when BobH is asked for a quote on this, the one he produces rather surprises me. (I reproduce his post here in full, without his permission, because as he points out Breitbart's commenting system stinks; not only am I unable to link to the comment directly, it doesn't even show up half the time I actively look for it. Apologies to BobH.)

Ditko's prose style doesn't really lend itself to excerpts, as you can see above, he constructs amazing, sometimes maddeningly complex arguments. So I encourage you go order the newsletter in question (or join me in encouraging Ditko's co-publisher to put together a collection of the relevant essays).

However, a few tastes:
"So certainly, the GG [Green Goblin] could hardly be any reason for me quitting Marvel"
"Now digest this: I knew from Day One, from the first GG story, who the GG would be... I planted him in J. Jonah Jameson's businessman's club." [prior issues of the newsletter had a contest to identify all the planted appearances of the character]
"I planted the GG's son (same distinct hair style) in the college issues..." [referring here to Harry Osborn]

This will probably be my last reply here, as the commenting system here makes no sense to me. Feel free to contact me via e-mail or my site (should be linked in my name above) if you wish to continue.

Just in case this is unclear to anyone reading this, it was widely believed that making Norman Osborn the Goblin was entirely Stan Lee's initiative - this completely debunks that myth too. (An unnamed man resembling Norman Osborn was indeed seen in Jameson's business club in ASM #23 and #25.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Peter Mandelson's new look

Hattip to Guido.

On Dollhouse

Compare it not to the best episodes of Buffy, Angel and Firefly. Compare it to the first few episodes of Buffy or Angel. Are they about on par? I think they are.

It took me until episode seven before I really got hooked on Buffy. It took an entire season of Angel before I felt that got going at all smoothly. Firefly is the exception but Firefly was an exceptional programme to begin with (and who's to say that wouldn't have turned South had it continued longer?).

Of course you're not going to see "Passion" in the first three episodes. You have good reason to give it more time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apparently this is racist.

If that's racist (because the monkey supposedly depicts President Obama - it's actually just a combination of the idiotic stimulus bill, which could really be described as "borrowing your way out of indebtedness", and the intelligent chimpanzee that went on a rampage and got shot) then what were all those depictions of George W. Bush as a chimp?

If Democrats are going to wheel out the "racist" accusation (usually the last refuge of a lefty scoundrel) like this every time anyone even vaguely criticises or mocks Obama or any of his policies then American democracy is in serious trouble.

Or perhaps the Democrats missed the hilarious yet tragic chimp story because they were too busy reading the 1500 page bill they voted through this week. Because they read every page before voting for it, don't they?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And now my British political compass

The Political Compass
Economic Left/Right: 0.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.59

This one doesn't surprise me at all. The questions I found a lot more relevant to me and therefore easier to answer decisively; hardly surprising given that this was the British test. I am pleased to find myself firmly in the libertarian axis (especially given how conservative some of my answers were) but I'm a little bit worried that my only historical counterpart on the left-right axis is Adolf Hitler!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Took this American political spectrum quiz...

My Political Views
I am a center-right social moderate
Right: 2.56, Authoritarian: 0.22

Political Spectrum Quiz

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: 2.43

My Culture War Stance
Score: 0.08

It says "Your political spectrum result is a great conversation starter on forums, on your blog or your social network of choice." What a load of rubbish!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Few Bad Men

I enjoyed watching the film A Few Good Men (written by Aaron Sorkin, starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Jack Bauer) for the first time last night. Quite an excellent film. The crucial juncture comes towards the end where Cruise's lawyer character cross-examines the Colonel (Nicholson) in charge at Guantanamo Bay at the time when a timid soldier was killed in his room by two other soldiers (accused of murder, they claim they were hazing him under orders). He traps the Colonel within his own contradiction, that both the timid soldier was considered to be "in danger" from his fellow soldiers - and yet, all the soldiers at the camp are steadfastly loyal to the Colonel and would never disobey an order no matter their conscience on it.

And so I turn to today's headlines. Gordon Brown and Labour have for months been claiming that the recession is a global problem started in America and has nothing to do with what's going on here. But now they're attacking the bankers of this country for landing us in this mess. Well steady on there, it's either one or the other, isn't it? Or maybe it's the fault of the government and the Chancellor who was apparently sleeping on the job. You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Newsarama has an interesting article on the rights and wrongs of comic book publishers (such as Marvel) putting out material involving a public figure (in this case, Barack Obama).

My question to Marvel would be why they permitted an sequence involving Gordon Brown to appear in Captain Britain and MI13 #1 (which generated a lot of positive coverage for him over here) and blocked a similar sequence in a future issue involving David Cameron.

Now I doubt that anyone at the publisher seriously favours one over the other (I would not presume anyone at Marvel knows anything about UK politics, why would they?) but this lack of equality in coverage essentially boils down to political interference over here. - especially given that it's added to Gordon Brown's personal delusion that he's some sort of superhero, "saving the world" he says, which is doing serious damage to the way he runs the country.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Terry Moore leaves Runaways after only nine issues

"My stint on Runaways is 9 issues. I’m on issue 7 now."

Why did they relaunch it if he's not in it for the long haul? I don't like this - Brian K. Vaughan did a solid 42-issue run, the book needs someone who can stick around for a while, preferably an up-and-comer who's young enough to remember what it means to be a teenager and imaginative enough to create a dynamic take on the characters and develop them over a significant period of time. Its just annoying because the Runaways is the strongest and has the most longevity of any of Marvel's recent creations, and all this stop-start nonsense is just squandering it.

(Although in terms of artists, Humberto Ramos and Takeshi Miyazawa are perfectly suited to the book.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Boris? Racist? Not this malarkey again...

I was quite appalled to see some moron on BBC's "Most Annoying People of 2008" describe Boris' ping pong remarks at the Olympic Games as "racist" - as though taking pride in the British origins of something is a fundamentally racist thing to do.

Now as for him being ranked 17, I can fully understand why many (particularly on the left) get frustrated with him. But I love him dearly. He is one of those rare politicians intent on making politics a cheerful matter which people should not be afraid to get involved in. And I have to say my confidence in that list was also undermined by the number 1 choice being someone I'd never heard of. Agyness Deyn? Who?

Meanwhile, Boris' Wall Street Journal interview is oodles of fun.