Barry Allen returns today in DC Universe #0…

Why? Was there really a demand for this? Or is this just more event driven navel-gazing?

I don’t think this really spells success for Final Crisis.

UPDATE: I bought and read DC Universe #0 today… and it was a complete waste. It was not even a story, or even a prologue to a story. Instead it was a set of glorified Newsarama preview pages, which cost you 50 cents.

Oh yeah. Since when did Batman become George “Bring it on!” Bush?



Submitted without comment…

The Clinton campaign confirms that Hillary is poised to break bread with Fox News’ infotainer Bill O’Reilly. The appearance on Wednesday will be Clinton’s first ever appearance on O’Reilly’s show.

Reaching the top…

The New York Times reviews Grand Theft Auto IV (via the Beat)

Niko Bellic is the player-controlled protagonist this time, and he is one of the most fully realized characters video games have yet produced. A veteran of the Balkan wars and a former human trafficker in the Adriatic, he arrives in Liberty City’s rendition of Brighton Beach at the start of the game to move in with his affable if naïve cousin Roman. Niko expects to find fortune and, just maybe, track down someone who betrayed him long ago. Over the course of the story line he discovers that revenge is not always what one expects.

Besides the nuanced Niko the game is populated by a winsome procession of grifters, hustlers, drug peddlers and other gloriously unrepentant lowlifes, each a caricature less politically correct than the last.

Hardly a demographic escapes skewering. In addition to various Italian and Irish crime families, there are venal Russian gangsters, black crack slingers, argyle-sporting Jamaican potheads, Puerto Rican hoodlums, a corrupt police commissioner, a steroid-addled Brooklyn knucklehead named Brucie Kibbutz and a former Eastern European soldier who has become a twee Upper West Side metrosexual.

Here’s Gamespot:

Stepping off a boat in the shoes of illegal immigrant Niko Bellic as he arrives in Liberty City at the start of Grand Theft Auto IV, you can tell immediately that Rockstar North’s latest offering is something quite special. Yes, this is another GTA game in which you’ll likely spend the bulk of your time stealing cars and gunning down cops and criminals, but it’s also much more than that. GTAIV is a game with a compelling and nonlinear storyline, a game with a great protagonist who you can’t help but like, and a game that boasts a plethora of online multiplayer features in addition to its lengthy story mode. It’s not without some flaws, but GTAIV is undoubtedly the best Grand Theft Auto yet.

GTAIV’s Internet is filled with spoofs of all the kinds of Web sites that you’d only ever look at accidentally or when you know there’s no danger of getting caught. Some of them can be found only by clicking on links in spam e-mails, whereas others are advertised prominently on the search page. There’s plenty of amusing stuff to find if you spend some time in one of the “TW@” Internet cafes, but the most interesting site by far is an online dating agency through which you can meet women who, if they like your profile, will agree to go on dates with you. Dating and socializing with friends is something you can spend as much or as little of your time doing as you like, and though the people you meet can occasionally be demanding to the point that they become irritating, keeping them happy invariably benefits you in some way.

I’m pretty sure that, just like every GTA game since the second, this one will be impossible for me to beat.

The GTA series is, of course, now the king of Video Games. Arguably the only thing bigger is Halo.

UPDATE: Really Penny-Arcade explains it all

Grand Theft Auto has had another problem, or rather, we have had a problem that intersects with what the game offers: the raw, virtually limitless opportunity presented is paralyzing, a sheer face with no purchase. We’re always impressed by each world’s livingness, but historically the story structure – the obvious thread that we can grip and pull ourselves along – is hung about the neck with frustrating, repetitive gameplay. We end up burning out on free roaming in a couple days, taking random missions or sitting in a parking lot listening to the radio. I feel guilty, because there’s probably no game more “important” globally than Grand Theft Auto. I certainly feel like I’m looking in on what I consider my own community. It never seemed to bother anyone else that the core of the game wasn’t much fun, so mostly the whole thing just makes me feel like a crazy person.

I would laugh if this didn’t make me so sad…

(Via Eric Alterman)

Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News blog (who knew the Nightly News had a blog?):

On the other hand, one sparkling piece of journalism (which touched on a lot of themes frequent readers of this space will recognize) was by Peggy Noonan in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. Curl up with this one and give it the quality time it deserves. I’ll say it again: Peggy is doing the work of her career and must be considered an early favorite for next cycle’s Pulitzer for commentary.

Here’s a bit from the soon-to-be- Pulitzer award winning Noonan piece:

Main thought. Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama’s problem. America is Mr. Obama’s problem. He has been tagged as a snooty lefty, as the glamorous, ambivalent candidate from Men’s Vogue, the candidate who loves America because of the great progress it has made in terms of racial fairness. Fine, good. But has he ever gotten misty-eyed over . . . the Wright Brothers and what kind of country allowed them to go off on their own and change everything? How about D-Day, or George Washington, or Henry Ford, or the losers and brigands who flocked to Sutter’s Mill, who pushed their way west because there was gold in them thar hills? There’s gold in that history.

John McCain carries it in his bones. Mr. McCain learned it in school, in the Naval Academy, and, literally, at grandpa’s knee. Mrs. Clinton learned at least its importance in her long slog through Arkansas, circa 1977-92.

Mr. Obama? What does he think about all that history? Which is another way of saying: What does he think of America? That’s why people talk about the flag pin absent from the lapel. They wonder if it means something. Not that the presence of the pin proves love of country – any cynic can wear a pin, and many cynics do. But what about Obama and America? Who would have taught him to love it, and what did he learn was loveable, and what does he think about it all?

Another challenge. Snooty lefties get angry when you ask them to talk about these things. They get resentful. Who are you to question my patriotism? But no one is questioning his patriotism, they’re questioning its content, its fullness.

Great journalism there.

Seriously: Mr. Obama how much do you love your country? Is it this much? *extends hands only a few feet* Or is it this much? *extend arms a far as they will go* America must know!

Seriously this is the sort of journalism Brian Williams respects. The man who is the face of NBC News every night. An icon of “objective” journalism. The heart of the liberal media.

This shit makes me sad.

“I don’t think it is futile.”

Submitted without comment…

When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

To Specialist Hall and other critics of the military, the guidelines have done little to change a culture they say tilts heavily toward evangelical Christianity. Controversies have continued to flare, largely over tactics used by evangelicals to promote their faith. Perhaps the most high-profile incident involved seven officers, including four generals, who appeared, in uniform and in violation of military regulations, in a 2006 fund-raising video for the Christian Embassy, an evangelical Bible study group.

In the summer of 2005, after his first deployment to Iraq, Specialist Hall became friends with soldiers with atheist leanings. Their questions about faith prompted him to read the Bible more closely, which bred doubts that deepened over time.

“There are so many religions in the world,” he said. “Everyone thinks he’s right. Who is right? Even people who are Christians think other Christians are wrong.”

Specialist Hall said he did not advertise his atheism. But his views became apparent during his second deployment in 2006. At a Thanksgiving meal, someone at his table asked everyone to pray. Specialist Hall did not join in, explaining to a sergeant that he did not believe in God. The sergeant got angry, he said, and told him to go to another table.

“Even if it doesn’t go through, I stood up,” Specialist Hall said. “I don’t think it is futile.”

Just like the mother-fucking Flintstones…

This post on the new Tina Fey movie got me thinking a bit about a well-worn genre of films (and TV shows) that’s been undergoing a bit a renascence recently, the ugly/geeky/dweeb/unlikable guy gets the hot/desirable girl (or as like to think of them, the Flintstones genre).

The “golden” standard of these sort of films are those of Judd Apatow and his various friends. With Knocked Up being the most recent Apatow offering. Other recent films in this line, more or less, are Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, and (for a of the bit of high-class/award winning) Sideways. And, of course, many of the films of Kevin Smith.

These films, from the good ones to the bad ones, all offer a very skewed version of relations between the sexes that continues to reinforce old sexist notions. Male “beauty” in these movies is internalized, (“if only I could get her to notice the real me!”) while female “beauty” remains externalized. The women in these movies are, more often than not, blank characters. They are simply “hot girls”, with little personality. who the geeky protagonists want. Or perhaps, the female characters are revealed, secretly, to be a lot like the male characters. Except they have boobs too!

In fact the best movies in this genre, like Superbad or 40 Year Old Virgin, tweak this tired formula. In Superbad the central lesson is “acting like a drunken asshole is not a good way to connection with women” while 40 Year Old Virgin argues that “maybe sex isn’t everything“. The worst of these sort of films (ala Knocked Up) just reinforce the same old shit.

I often find myself wondering why, exactly, these sort of movies continue to be made?

Of course, there’s the obvious fact that they play well for an audience of awkward teenage (or wish they were teenage) men. And as an awkward, geeky teenager turned awkward, geeky young adult I completely understand the appeal.

But I think there’s more to it than that. The creators of these films (ex. Apatow & Smith) are often “geeks gone good” who through their talent and creativity were able to rise in the social/cultural/economic ladder and “score” with women who, all things equal, would not give them the time of day. Their “internal” talents allowed them to ‘overcome’ their “external” limitations (ie. non-traditional looks, weight problem, awkwardness).

Such creators then use this experince as fodder for their films. Which in turn appeal to those geeks who have not “gone good” but wish they had.

This helps shape a sexual culture that is very freeing for awkward, geeky men but, in turn, limiting to women. While men may be allowed to base their beauty on their “internal” value women are still limited to their “external” value.

I think the solution to this would be films where characters of both sexes are treated as attractive based on their “internal” values. This, of course, will not happen until there are more women writing and directing films. What this culture needs is a female Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith. A person to shape fantasies for the awkward, teenage girls out there.

Of course, it seems this a glass ceiling that Hollywood has yet to shatter.

In the history of ideas…

…this certainly has to be the worst.

I mean, really! Why would you think this is a good idea? The creator of this grope-a-thon is playing has some sort of beautiful continuation sexual liberation. Playboy meets cos-play, if you will.

Reading the post by the creator of the “Open Source Boob Project” is kind of creepy. There’s a lot of sexual liberation as  a cover for sexism language throughout the post. Which kind of makes it painful to read. And kind of hilarious too. And so very strange. For example:

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon. It never got old, surprisingly.

I’m exactly sure how all of this related to making awkwardness of high school go away. Did “theferret” have a lot of boobs he wanted to touch in high school and was finally able to make up for lost time? Creepy.

The post at Occasional Superheroine really sums up way this is a terrible idea better than I could.

But basically, the question should be for the people who think that an “Open Source Boob Project” is a worthy idea is; would you support an “Open Source Balls Project” were women and men were to cop a feel of your balls?