Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #7: Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System

The Remmington M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) is the standard issue rifle for snipers in the U.S. Army. Both Remmington and official Army jargon refer to this rifle as a "system" as opposed to simply a "rifle" because of the essential use of a scope and other accessories beyond the basic working of the rifle proper in the sniper's mission. According to Remmington's specifications, the M24 is 43" in length, has a combat weight of 6.5 kg with an integral 5 round magazine, capable of firing either 7.62 Nato or Winchester 300 Magnum ammunition. It has an effective range of 800 meters with its day scope, and over 300 meters with its night scope.

Some U.S. Army snipers in Iraq issued the M24 have come under media and military justice fire for tactics allegedly given them by the army's Asymmetric Warfare Group. Apparently, the AWG advised sniper teams to plant explosives, wire, rifles, and other materials useful to insurgents as "bait" to draw insurgents into a sniper's sites. Because this tactic is part of larger classified program of instruction the AWG provides a broad range of Army units, the existence of this program leaves the civilian observer wanting for clarification. For example, it's unclear why active, organized, and presumably covertly operating insurgents would risk picking up materials outside of their particular faction's supply chain. It's also unclear how a sniper is to determine whether someone in contact with the bait materials is indeed an insurgent or other "bad guy" as opposed to someone troubled with or made curious by such materials in his or her neighborhood or path. What is clear is that this tactic, while controversial, is apparently legitimate in the military and its oversight's eyes, as the snipers in the referenced court martial covered by the Timeswere tried not for employing these tactics, but adapting them to place "drop weapons" on the corpses of Iraqis to justify their shootings.

Che Rambo?

Is it just me, or is a certain poster campaign for an upcoming film trying to capture a certain popular revolutionary icon's graphic style?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #6: Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry

Specific makes and models of firearms are hard to come by in the major market media's coverage of gun use. Bostodelphia selects the Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry as number six in our 21 gun salute to 2007 because we were looking for a .380 semi-automatic pistol that met the descriptors "easily concealed" and "cheap" for reasons you'll see below. The Bersa .380 came out on top of our search. It is also to our knowledge the first firearm on our list to receive the endorsement "pocket rocket" from a YouTube gun model.

Jeff Quinn clears things up over at Gunblast. The Bersa 380 is not so much "cheap" as a serious "bargain." In Quinn's own words on the weapon itself:

The Concealed Carry (CC) is a slimmed and trimmed version of the Bersa Thunder .380, and the subtle changes make a big difference in the feel and concealability of the weapon. The CC weighs in at only 17.4 ounces unloaded, and is about the same size as my J-frame Smith & Wesson. The CC uses the same eight-shot magazines of the Thunder, but with a flat magazine floorplate for better concealment. The grip panels are very thin, but textured for a secure grasp. The backstrap is rounded and grooved, with finger grooves machined into the frame for a very comfortable hold. All of the controls are low-profile, but easy to reach and operate. The thumb safety is right side only, serves to safely drop the hammer without firing the weapon, and imposes a block between the hammer and firing pin, while disconnecting the trigger. The weapon also has a magazine disconnect safety, rendering the pistol inoperable when the magazine is removed. On the left side of the slide is a loaded chamber indicator. On the left side of the frame, just above the trigger, is an internal key lock for those who like to use such devices to secure the weapon from firing. Also on the left side is the slide release lever and magazine release button. On the right side of the frame is the take-down latch for easy disassembly of the weapon for cleaning. Like its big brother, the Concealed Carry has a barrel that is fixed to the frame, which also serves as a recoil spring guide rod. It is a very simple, reliable blow-back operated weapon. As stated earlier, the Bersa CC is very close in size to a five-shot thirty-eight, but is much thinner. It conceals very well in a jeans pocket or a slim holster. In an inside-the-pants holster, it would all but disappear. It is a very concealable weapon, and with a nine-shot total capacity, offers almost twice the firepower of the five-shot thirty-eight. Needless to say, I was elated when the long-awaited little pistol finally arrived. (emphasis added by Bostodelphia --cti)

With our selection thoroughly covered by the well-versed Mr. Quinn, we at Bostoldephia can now dwell on the factor that drew this firearm to our attention, concealability. Aside from avoiding whatever social stigma open carriage of a firearm may draw down upon ou, so to speak, the ability to conceal your weapon is just the feature one may want in order to get the jump on one's opponents. It's unknown whether the Bersa Thunder 380 Concealed Carry was the .380 automatic a particular individual was packing when he attempted to ambush two workers in an attempted robbery of David Geppert Recycling this past October. What is now known is the element of surprise may be lost when you yourself are surprised that the employees of your target business are encouraged to carry weapons themselves and use them if accosted by an armed robber.

It should be said that firearms and recycling's meeting in Philadelphia need not always be so violent. Rather, while a local artist isn't exactly implementing the swords to plowshares principle to the letter, unless you wish to wax metaphorical about furrowing the fields of fashion or whatnot, her gesture is appreciated in a city with a lot of lethal iron lying around.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #5: Glock 19

The Glock 19 is an extremely popular weapon amongst law enforcement and private citizens. Firing the 9mm cartridge, it can use magazines with capacities from 10-33 rounds. Online price seems to be about $450.

This gun gained a new infamy when it was used by Seung-Hui Cho in the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre. There is a tremendous amount of acrimony regarding gun control in the United States. This crime was so terrible and the risk of the mentally ill gaining access to firearms is such an obviously bad idea that even Wayne la Pierre was on board with a new bill with Democrats in Congress to enhance background checks on handgun purchases.

Ron Paul is against the Civil War

From the Washington Post:

And he decried the Civil War, calling it a needless effort for which hundreds of thousands of Americans paid with their lives. He rejected that the war spelled the end to slavery in the United States, saying that the U.S. government could have simply bought the slaves from the Confederate States of America and freed them.

That's right, Ron Paul would have preferred making slavery vastly profitable for the Confederacy over ending this scourge on the American landscape. Look, the Civil War was incredibly nasty and its aftereffects still echo throughout American culture and politics to this day, but to call it "needless" is just ludicrous. Stick a fork in this guy, he's done.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Xmas from Bostodelphia!

Happy Holidays from Bostodelphia's deadly sandwich and well-protected fish. Cheesesteak will be away until the weekend, so unless Coddy can get away from his family to dwell in our arms locker, the 2007 gun show salute will be taking a bit of hiatus.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Safeties On: A-Team Operating Ahead

Taking a break from our year-end arsenal, I was searching online for an image I've seen on the Philadelphia streets promoting the new Rambo to little avail. However, perhaps in consolation, the magic of Google did direct me to Niall Browne's report at Screenrant regarding the script for a movie version of The A-Team to be helmed by John Singleton. Based on a posting that has since been taken down from Moviehole, Browne provides the following brief synopsis and reaction:

Hannibal, Face and B.A are set-up by some villainous soldiers who stage a heist in a Baghdad museum. Face cuts a deal and is set free, while his two friends are sent to a military prison. However, while in prison Hannibal and B.A meet and befriend Murdock: a crazy Captain with a bipolar disorder. Following a prison break, they set out to get revenge and clear their names.

Now, let's get one thing straight, I'm no A-Team purist. I watched the show as a kid, and I've probably seen it four times in the last twenty years (yes, I'm that old), but this film sounds like it's just another example of stealing the name of a television show to help marketing the movie.

The comments to Browne's post were in a similar vein. Readers were appalled at the idea of Face betraying his friends, one speculated that Dirk Benedict's Face character will be re-sexed a la Starbuck in SciFi's Galactica re-imagining, and there was a bunch of jibber jabber pitying the fools responsible for this faithless travesty to the original (B.A. lingo lifted from memory-jogging Screenrant participant Jae Senn).

Now, as stated above the MovieHole script review has been taken down, so all I got is Browne's synopsis to guide my thinking. That said, man, these pre-emptive haters have no imagination. Or memory of the original apparently.

Need they be reminded of the show's opening narration:

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team.
Wikipedia provides the definition of that crime, which fits my memory of the show:
During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end. They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base four days after the end of the war, they found their C.O. murdered by the Viet Cong and his headquarters burned to the ground. Therefore no proof existed that the A-Team were acting under orders, and they were sent to prison by a military court. They were sent to Fort Bragg, from which they escaped before they could actually stand trial.

Seems to me, setting the A-Team up to rob the International Museum of Iraq (which in real life apparently was looted by everyone else in Iraq except the American army) is an audience-accessible update for the "crime they didn't commit." It's unclear from Browne's synopsis if Hannibal and B.A. bust out with Murdoch to get revenge on Face or not. My hunch would be Face's "betrayal" is part of one of Hannibal's plans coming together (to Hannibal's love and cigar). They know they're screwed in the courts, so Face goes "turncoat" to lay the groundwork on the outside for his buddies' escape.

I don't think they'll 'Starbuck' Face, at least if they hold to the notion that the A-Team are special forces (women still can't fill that job in today's army). However, there could be another outside contact, and strong female character, if they reboot "Triple A" Amy, the journalist who helped them out in the series. Write her as an embed with them in Iraq to cement some bond between her and the team before she's needed.

Beyond this, I'm a little confused about all this news coming out in the midst of a writers strike. Also, who thinks the film will hold onto the bloodless gun, explosive and car demolition violence of the series? I'm pretty sure critics won't stand for special forces soldiers coming out of Iraq to deal nerf-like violence stateside, I'm not sure about audiences though.

An updated A-Team coming out of Iraq is interesting. The whole "reinvent the properties of the 80s" thing going on in Hollywood aside, the original A-Team has been seen as part of American culture's acceptance, however sophomoric, of Viet-Nam as part of America's cultural history. I don't know if the U.S. is ready for that with Iraq, witness the cancellation of Over There, the dismal box office of Redacted, Valley of Eljah, and a bunch of other non-documentary films, presumably for their "too soon-ness." Then again, ER and Las Vegas had successful plotlines involving characters in Iraq, but those were more broadly conceived shows addressing current events than a show focused in its conception on the current event. Somewhere between these successes and failures is the Quatar special forces camp in Transformers, but I'll be trying to wrap my typing around that one at some point in a later post.

Personally, if you want to see what I think will be one of the lasting Hollywood images addressing the Iraq War, you'll have to sit through the almost entirely otherwise disappointing Southland Tales for Justin Timberlake's beer soaked lip-syncing dance number to The Killer's "All These Thing's That I've Done."

Oh wait, looks like through liberal interpretation of intellectual property laws, one may find fair use access to the shot here:

(Whoops, Southland Tales reminds me that Dwayne Johnson, while still performing as "The Rock" starred in a remake of Walking Tall that made Johnson's character a returning war vet, instead of the original and real life basis's retired profesional wrestler, maybe to avoid confusion. I got a feeling that one tanked critically for reasons besides any relationship it had with the war).

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #4: Heritage Rough Rider SA .22 Revolver

Number four in our twenty-one gun salute to 2007 was selected for the budget conscious. Made in the U.S.A., the Heritage Rough Rider single action .22 revolver has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of just over $160, but simply typing "Heritage Rough Rider" and ".22." into Google gives product search results as low as a little over $140.

While the phrase "Saturday Night Special" is more a term of journalism and politics than technical classification, .22 revolvers like the Heritage Rough Rider are cheap guns. In the online gun culture, some reference is made to "kit" or "starter" guns, usually with .22 revolvers in mind, presumably having something to do with their ease of use and low monetary investment. For instance, in a 2003 post on plans to attend Washington state gun show, gun blogger "Jeffersonian" opines, "Not expecting to expand the collection, unless I find a splendid deal on a .22 revolver for luring people into the gun culture." If the AK-47 makes our salute (duh), there may well be some punning about "gateway drugs". However, we at Bostodelphia want to point out here that some in the self-styled gun culture do apparently speak of "gateway guns."

And sometimes the gateway opens a bit prematurely, and accidentally. Last June, Philadelphia media reported about an incident around the Wonderland Pier of Ocean City, N.J. where an off duty Philadelphia police officer lost his (presumably personal, non service) North American Arms .22 magnum revolver. Unlike the gun pictured in this post, the gun in this incident can actually fit in the palm of an adult's hand, and apparently can be easily mistaken for a toy. In fact, the 16 year old girl who found it initially thought it was cap pistol until she fired it into a sand dune. Still, she held onto it, even taking it on one of the pier's rides. Fortunately, this incident doesn't go much beyond embarrassment for an unnamed police officer as the girl and the girl's mother turned the weapon in after reports of the officer's missing piece were televised.

That said, less than a month later, a .22 revolver, perhaps more along the lines of the Rough Rider, initiated self-styled thug Charles Meyer into the American incarceration system. Meyers, 18 at the time, shot once and killed 14 year old Tykeem Law. Law was riding a bicycle in front of car transporting Meyer, and Law's unwillingness, reluctance, or inability to clear out of the vehicle's way to Meyer's satisfaction apparently prompted Meyer's firing. "With a body on him," as the thugs put it, Meyer was welcomed into the "inside" of the criminal fraternity with a variation of open arms: a courthouse holding cell beating on the day of his arraignment that postponed his hearing until late September.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #3: SIG P226 9mm

Number three in our 21 gun salute to 2007 is our first pistol, the Sig Sauer P226. Chambered for 9mm, given a 12 pound trigger pull, and configured for DAO fire, the P226 is one of three pistols authorized for use as a NYPD service weapon. As a gun produced as a "service weapon" yet also produced for the civilian market, the P226 apparently runs the risk of losing a literal "beauty contest" that apparently takes place within the non-service weapon marketplace. For instance, take Jan Libourel's qualification within his otherwise excellent review of the piece in The Arms Sight:

Let's face it, some handguns are loaded with glamour, allure, "sex appeal" or whatever you want to call it - the Luger is one such gun that comes to mind, the Colt Python another. The SIG-Sauer P-226 is not such a pistol; it's built strictly for business. If your primary interest in a handgun is as an object of aesthetic contemplation a lovely thing with lustrous polish and blueing and a figured exotic wood stock, I suggest you forget about the P-226 right now and turn to the next article. If, on the other hand, you might be interested in a superbly accurate, rugged, reliable service auto that may just be the best thing of its kind in the world today, then read on ...
Having forgotten the likely metaphorical origins of colloquial references to a pistol as a "piece", the admittedly not gun buying contributors to Bostodelphia had not considered the above discussed "vanity" criteria to the gun buying market. This factor will certainly be weighed as we continue with our salute; but before continuing our salute to the P226 as an NYPD service weapon, it should be mentioned in the interest of fairness that Sig Sauer does manufacture, among a number of configurations, a special edition of this sidearm crossbranded in collaboration with a company that has been noted this year for both its service and vanity, Blackwater USA. As we're not sure whether the Blackwater P226 is in fact standard issue among Blackwater operators, and being sure that Blackwater will come up again at some point during our salute, we'll now return to the P226's more humble, less mercenary, service.

While actual statistics on the number of P226s on the streets with the NYPD have not been discovered by Bostodelphia, we'll gamble that there is a good chance a plain clothes police officer was carrying a P226 when she was assaulted by Philadelphia CBS3 anchor Alycia Lane. While this incident has generally been discussed in terms of Lane's recent scandal-checked and bad judgment call colored career, it wouldn't be Bostodelphia's Saulte to the Firearms of 2007, if we didn't also mention that Lane's career also included as a stint and anchor for NYC's Cable 12, where she covered the 1999 "41 shots" police shooting of Amadou Diallo. While members of Bostodelphia have propagated elsewhere the conspiracy theory that this whole incident was staged as "payback" against Lane's coverage, we weren't really taking that flight of paranoia seriously.

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #2: FN SCAR

Our second gun of 2007 is the FN S.C.A.R. (SOF Combat Assault Rifle). This was scheduled for limited testing by US Special Operations in the fall of 2007. Beating out 9 rivals in a competition, it is a completely new rifle chambered in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm and is available with 3 barrel lengths. A civilian version is anticipated for release in 2008.

According to UZI4U:

All of the traditional rifles are considerable improvements. Let's compare the FN SCAR to the M16/M4 for a minute:

Folding stock: SCAR has it, M16/M4 cannot have one by design.

Monolithic upper: SCAR has it, M16/M4 do not.

Free float barrel: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

Quick change barrel: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

Easy to clean gas-system: SCAR has it, service M16s and M4s do not.

The ability to rechamber the weapon into a different caliber without replacing the upper: SCAR has it, M16s and M4s cannot by design.

Then we can go into all the little improvements... Like the receiver being better sealed to keep sand and dirt out (just a little important these days). Or the fact the SCAR has an actual charging handle, making it much easier to chamber a round while prone. Or the fact the SCAR has better ergonomics and is more ambidextrous.
So there you have it. The regular troops soldier on with the M16 and M4 rifles, which are somewhat notorious for their need for regular cleaning and dislike of sand and dust, while the relpacement, the XM8, has been cancelled. Meanwhile the Special Forces get what sounds like a very capable weapon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bostodelphia 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007 #1: Hi Point 995 Carbine

Our inaugural firearm for 2007 is the Hi-Point 995, a semi-automatic carbine chambered for 9mm pistol ammunition, holding a 10-15 round magazine in its pistol grip, manufactured for the civilian market, and popular for its simple design and low price point (the laser-sited model pictured has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $295, a "basic" version of the rifle lists for $220, though online discussions suggest it can be purchased within the $190 ballpark).

Gun blogger Mr. Completely sums up his experience with Hi-Point 995 carbine as follows:

Overall impression: I really liked it! Is it a high precision, close tolerance firearm? Nope, not even close. It is exactly what it was intended to be, a reasonably priced, durable carbine that's fun to shoot, and it's ALL of that, and more.

In comments to Mr. Completely's review, a discussion developed addressing this gun's hunting potential. While we here at Bostodelphia are not armorers or gunsmiths, based on the content of the review, we found the most eloquent insight into this weapon in these two responses:
1. 9mm is NOT an acceptable deer cartridge. You would have to be retarded or starving to try to take a deer with this rifle. Taking a 9mm on a deer hunt is completely unethical, as any deer you shoot is more likely to never be recovered and die slowly of infection over the next few weeks.
2. Hi-points are pieces of junk marketed to criminals. The sporting goods store I work in has stopped taking special orders of these guns because of the high number of "denies" we get back on NICS background checks of people trying to order these guns. Usually we receive a deny back from NICS less than 1% of the time ( I was bored one day and counted) with Hi-Points products we get a "deny" back 20%+ of the time. I have a very strong suspicion that all these positive reviews I have seen of Hi-Points online are coming from a few select very questionable sources with a profit motive.
You should never hunt anything larger than a coyote with a 9mm - it just doesn't have the oomph to do the job humanely, reliably. Even the 40 [Hi-Point manufactures a .40 caliber version of the carbine as well -- ed.]is less than should be used for deer hunting.
Do yourself a favor, and don't hunt with this carbine. Use it if you have it in hand for pest control (wild cats, coyotes, etc), but that's it. Use a good high-power rifle for deer hunting, not this thing.
As to a certain type of gun attracting criminals, I don't believe it.[speculation on the 20% denial figure, based on a questionable understanding of the straw purchase market deleted--ed.]

For our 2007 salute, the Hi-Point 995 was the only actual firearm (if you can even see it) amidst this assembled to impress display of police and prosecutorial confiscatory power:

All the other menacing banana clip, pump action, and bipod-mounted hardware here are airsoft weapons, bb gun replicas of military weapons. It should also be noted that no ammunition for the Hi-Point was found when this arsenal was seized, nor ever was found.

This impressive-when-photographed-at-a-press-conference haul was seized from Dillon Cossey, a 14 year old alleged to have been planning a "Columbine" style attack on Montgomery County's Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. Cossey was just sentenced a couple of days ago after pleading guilty in juvenile court to charges of criminal solicitation, risking a catastrophe and possession of an instrument of crime. Yes, it is true that Cossey had online disucssions about murder with eventual Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, he did have Klebold/Harris shrine, etc. He was clearly a disturbed individual, and needed the help he's hopefully getting within the state mental health care system. However, despite the grandstanding before prop guns of District Attorney Bruce L. Castor, and the community guardian pose struck by Judge Paul "You'll Never Do This in My Community Again" Tressler, no bullet was really dodged here, as there were no bullets.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Blog Blows (Me Away)

I have not indulged in Rumpleminze, nor do I intend to.* Yeah, we're busy in greater Bostodelphia. The fact that Ron Paul Air Command chickened out of parading their flagship anywhere near our radar, let alone over our sights, seriously stymied our plans.

C'mon this is the official do nothing time of year. I mean should we stoop to the level of the major market media as well as media 2.0 and put out a "Top Arbitrary Number of Something We Claim to Know a Thing or Two About, 2007".

Actually, it's 4:21 as I type this, and I just got high time for an idea (no idea what that means). In tribute to the MIA, AWOL even before he was supposed to report for duty, Necco Commando: a 21 Gun Salute to the Firearms of 2007. 21 posts between now and New Year's, each one in tribute to a firearm that somehow speaks to 2007. Let the volley begin!

*I am however open to endorsing anyone, of whatever standing, who'll ship me a bottle of Middleton's. Perhaps one of you gun manufacturers looking for some good press in the forthcoming salute.

This blog sucks

Perhaps it's the incessant snow. Maybe it's Cheesesteak's overindulgence in Rumplemintz. Likely we've just been too damn busy.

But we have to post more. CtI, post something dammit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Footnote Marches On

While the blimp apparently was confined to the Carolinas on account of weather, the Ron Paul people staged another money bomb to coincide with the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. More later, maybe.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Worst. Commute. Ever.

Ahhh...a quick passing storm went through eastern MA tonight. 8" of snow fell from 1pm to 8pm. No big deal, I left work at 1:30, got to my town an hour later - a mere 30 minutes longer than usual when taking back roads. I got onto the street I live off of, which is a feeder road from downtown to both the Mass Pike (a.k.a. Massachusetts Turnpike a.k.a.Rt-90) and Rt-95.

And there I sat. Over the course of the next 3.5 HOURS to go 0.4 miles. There was no where to go in either direction, it was a total jam. I should have listened to my instincts and ditched my car in a local restaurant's parking lot and walked home but nooooo I was too dumb to do so. I ended up leaving the car further up the street (and an hour of sitting in traffic) in the parking garage of the local medical center with their permission. I'll get it early in the morning. Without real snow tires I never would have made it to the parking garage since their access road was virtually unplowed. Ah yes, the winter combo of a Swedish car and Finnish snow tires is tough to beat. I then walked the rest of the 1.1 miles home.

The problem was actually due to a hill next to my apartment building. For some reason, while it's not that steep a slope, it gets extremely icy and there are frequent accidents and spinouts there in winter. Those going up the hill were just helpless and were sliding all over both lanes, so people trying to come down the hill (the direction I wanted to go in) could barely pass by. Look people: all-season tires (with the exception of the Nokian WR) are not adequate in real winter weather. And it snows every frickin' year.

Verily, this was the worst commute I have ever experienced. Total travel time: 5 hours. Normal travel time: 25 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Afraid of Atheism?

Cod's mentioning of the Repub's Jesus pushing/pandering reminded of something in the pop culture world I wanted to take up last week. Last week's poll asks:

"Some Catholics say The Golden Compass is anti-church; the filmmakers deny it. Will you see it or avoid it because of this?"

Fair question. The Golden Compass has indeed got a lot of well publicized grief from lay Catholic groups (to my knowledge no ordained Church official has issued any announcement). However, the responses the poll allowed made some pretty clumsy assumptions about potential movie goers, particularly the sort who would frequent
1.) I'll see it and make up my own mind.
2.) I know the books are anti-religion, so I'll pass.
3.) Depends. How different is the film?

Where in this poll is something along the lines of "I'm aware of the implicit attack on establishment religions; and as an atheist, agnostic, or a believer in spirituality unfettered from the dictates of established religions, I have no problem with that position. In fact, I welcome such an 'advanced' idea within a mainstream media offering"?

This poll implicitly embraces the notion that atheistic perspectives are somehow damaging or problematic. Even what I'd call the "progressive" option, which the majority of pollsters selected, implies a decision must be made whether The Golden Compass is indeed dangerously anti-religous or "safe."

Really, the science fiction audience includes a not insignificant portion who have been exposed to atheistic perspectives in their pursuit of science fiction. In fact, quite a lot of science fiction , fantasy, and horror (including most recently the much The Mist) pretty openly declares that excessive God-fearing, not non belief or heterodoxy, is the real problem in our world.

I suppose soft-pedaling the surfeit of atheistic and a-religious perspectives within the genre from which gets its name may well be buckling to the market pressures of perceived "mainstream audience" sensitivities. Still, going back to the notion that some of the best works of the genre strive to appeal to an audience that "knows better" than those sensitivities, I couldn't help but feel was insulting its audience's intelligence in this instance.

And speaking of the Republican candidates...

The Republican candidates are collectively nuts on a number of topics, torture and illegal immigrants being amongst them. You've got them collectively endorsing torture, bashing immigrants while hiring them, and calling for a bigger tougher military and aggressive foreign policy. Meanwhile they also deny evolution and pushing Jesus on the rest of us (note to Romney who claims religion is necessary for freedom: are you utterly unacquainted with human history? Sheesh).

Of course the 'respectable' media doesn't call them on any of this insanity. Here's what I predict to see in the last Republican debate...

An illegal immigrant from Mexico is brought onto the stage. He is tackled by Tom Tancredo and held down while Ron Paul tasers him into submission. Romney and Giuliani then proceed to waterboard the guy while Huckabee praises Jesus. At this point McCain waves a sealed envelope containing evidence the poor guy was affiliated with the Oaxaca branch of Al-Qaeda and demands justice. The Republicans then fall on the purported Islamic Mexican terrorist/illegal immigrant/gay/migrant farm worker and beat him to death. Afterwards, the Giuliani and Romney camps will have dueling press releases over who was tougher on the now-deceased victim, Giuliani with his steel-toed boot kicks to the head or Romney using a spiked baseball bat to the gut. And the media will calmly discuss as though such a spectacle is an utterly ordinary affair in US politics.

Ron Paul Resurrection

Well, this guy fell off our radar too for a bit; and it looks like the MSM is currently fixated on the Huckabee v. Romney v. Giuliani threeway (an epic battle of monstrous political views I think we can safely term Destroy All Integrity. But he's back with an air force!

Now there'll be more said on this aerial maneuver in future posts. For instance, there's interesting campaign finance "logic" being applied here; but for the time being we at Bostodelphia are particularly tickled with this brand of optimism:

Imagine.. the mainstream media is mesmerized as the image of the Ron Paul blimp is shown to tens of millions of Americans throughout the day (and throughout the month).

Imagine: the major market media (new term coined, trademarked Bostodelphia, out of annoyance with the aforementioned MSM) are going to be captivated by a blimp. Does Goodyear even have their branded blimp anymore? Like the efforts of grassroots Ron Paul supporters to associate November's money bomb with the parliament bombing imagery of Guy Falkes and V for Vendetta, is it really smart to associate their candidate with a giant bag of hot air? I've been wrong on Ron Paul before, at least according to Ron Paul's own news machine. However, I think there's just something to kamakaze-quaint in this earnest effort to use really old media to generate Ron Paul buzz. In short, an attempt to get big media exposure without making media buys; but really, when was the last time a blimp made major news?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sandbag woes

After several days, I have yet to get in a workout with the ole Ultimate Sandbag. The play sand I bought leaked dust from the polypropylene filler bags. I also created too many filler bags and couldn't get more than 60 lbs into the sandbag, which will hold up to 80. I already have a 53 lb kettlebell so I'm looking to max out the sandbag.

Ironmind recommends all-purpose sand to avoid the stone dust with their filler bags. I should have listened... Now I have managed to stuff 90 lbs of sand in 2 filler bags in, but it's one at each end and the sandbag acts like it's hinged in the middle.

I am considering just punting and taking a tip from K2 Fitness, and just filling the Ultimate Sandbag with pea or fine gravel. No filler bags needed (the US has a massive zipper and a cover flap with huge snaps, so it won't leak gravel) and with smaller gravel I should still get close to 80 lbs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Almost completely missed Day of the Ninja again.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lost That Pool

Evel Knievel died today. Relatively natural causes too, given his reputation.

Be honest, you all didn't know he was still alive either.

Emerging from this Week's Digestive Haze to Vomit Up What the News is Shoveling Down

Phawker has an excellent break down of the shoddy "Yes, Sir" reporting that passes for contemporary journalism. Specifically, the Philly Inquirer's coverage of a big suburban pot bust.

Being treated in an ER for a marijuana overdose? Um, yeah. Maybe the Mainline suburban police state wants to further pacify its population by characterizing them as crybabies. You know, the sort who when confronted by the "bad funny" feeling toking occasionally brings, and their parents can't helicopter said feeling away, the tears break out and the ambulance is called. Clueless cops or weak-stomached suburbanites trying to mythologize weed as "hard life" cred aside, a professional reporter taking every assertion by a police spokesperson at face value is just sad.
I mean why bother having journalists? Everyone can just find unvarnished truth through everyone else's web press release and public relations machinery anyway, right?

Cheesesteak's been slow on getting back into a blog rhythm post Thanksgiving, he knows that. He will get it together, just wait.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Karl Rove claims that Congress pushed Bush to war in Iraq and that Rove did not want the war to be politicized. Get the scoop over at

Re-issues of 1984 perhaps should be re-named to "The Bush years: 2000-2008".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My sandbag has arrived

My Ultimate Sandbag has arrived. Here's their blog too. I have a bunch of tough nylon filler bags on their way from Ironmind. Once those arrive I'll get myself 80 lbs of play sand from crappy Home Depot and work out. I need a break from kettlebells, this should do the trick.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cheesesteak the Impaler's Turkey Hangover Week Preamble

So last weekend's Fanboy entries were lost to the leftover haze of T-giving weekend. In addition to turkey and trimmings, your one wit' whiz also amped up his movie consumption more than usual, leading with lots of thoughts to reheat this week. So this week, the Cheesesteak will be cleaning out the fridge and offering you the following:

1.) Absolutely my last harangue against Marvel Comics' botched roll out its Digital Comics Unlimited service. Really, demanding fanboys, y'all disappointing me.

2.) Review of BSG: Razor. Cod will probably chime something about this one too.

3.) Review of No Country for Old Men.

4.) Review of Southland Tales.

Unless something serious literally explodes within the Philadelphia city limits, that's likely all you're going to hear from this sandwich this week.

I saw BSG: Razor

However, since Cheesesteak is hopping up and down to post his thoughts on it, I will let him get 1st post on a review.

Now, back to listening to Antibalas...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Pan Smack Down and Recipe for Disaster

Picked up our bird yesterday at L. Halteman Family Country Foods in Reading Terminal Market. Spouse of the Cheesesteak is confident a glass pan will suffice for the cooking. Nothing but childhood imprinting on my part says we need to get one of those aluminum roasting pans. What says the Bostodelphia readership?

Other thing learned last night, when you try to place:
16 tangerines
12lbs. of sweet potato / yam confusion
4 lbs. of potatoes
2 butternut squash
2 pomegranates
1 red onion
1 white onion
6 regular ol' onions
6 lemons
a few garlic cloves
3 bananas
in a hanging column of 3 chainlinked baskets, the load will hold for about ten minutes, then two out of the three chains between the top basket and the hook anchoring the array to the ceiling will break scattering produce all over your floor. Miraculously, no dish or glassware in the drying rack immediately below the basket array will suffer any damage, though a hefty shot glass in the sink next to the the rack will be shattered. I'm thinking what did things in was the sweet potato/yam confusion, a surplus of tubers resulting from my inability to tell the difference between the two.

This Car is Still For Sale

To the best of knowledge, this car is
still for sale. What is wrong with you people? Seriously. Help this guy ditch Philly for the Big Apple.

Update: Rumor has it an offer has been made on the car.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Marvel Turns Incompetence into Marketing Gimmick

Mystery not really explained. I guess by making this a multi-part story, Marvel's trying to remind us they're here to entertain us. Really, there's nothing wrong with making light of things in the end. That can be good p/r. However, it's only good and effective p/r if the actual truth behind the matter's provided as well as the joke. People have shelled out dough, goods were not delivered. Is this clever aside and the new "oops" page Marvel's way of telling its fans that these things happen and will likely continue to happen, so let's "blame Hulk"? A server error caused the "doctorstrange" iterations in Firefox? That requires more explanation than the current charade. This kind of refusal to admit serious responsibility in it failure to meet its obligation to its fans is exactly the sort of aloofness that leads fence sitters like me to secret root for the Free Culture torrenters.

Check the vid. The only thing worth looking at in this video is Joe Quesada's pants, clearly CGI since his pants have been down all week.

Ron Paul on Social Security

Ron Paul, in his campaign for president as the "most Constitution-loving candidate" often refers to a desire to allow young people to opt out of Social Security. It is never made clear exactly what this would entail for the Social Security system. He also makes the constantly-debunked claim that SS is in dire straits and needs rescuing...despite us being 40 years away from any crisis.

First, a definition of the SS program via Wikipedia: the Social Security Act encompasses Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Health Insurance for Aged and Disabled (Medicare), Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs (Medicaid), State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The everyday meaning of "Social Security" refers to "benefits for retirement, disability, survivorship, and death". The original Social Security Act was signed by FDR in 1935 and was implemented because poverty rates amongst seniors was over 50% in the Great Depression.

Ron Paul has a page on his website dedicated to Social Security. He cites three bills filed regarding SS: the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act (HR 191) which prevents taxation of SS benefits, the Social Security for Americans Only Act of 2007 (HR 190) which prevents SS benefits being paid to immigrants, and the Social Security Preservation Act (HR 219), which makes money paid into SS only available for SS benefits. The 1st and 3rd of these aren't too complicated, let's set them aside. I have found an excellent description of the effects of HR 190, which is more interesting:

Here is a good example of why I don't like Ron Paul and why I think Ron Paul is anti-immigration.

He has sponsored a bill this year called "Social Security for Americans Only Act of 2007." It prevents any wages earned by people who are not American Citizens after the end of this year from being included in any calculation of any future social security payments made to them. It has two primary impacts on immigrants:

1. Taxes that immigrants pay into the social security system before they become citizens, such as while they are living in the United States on visas, or green cards, are essentially forfeited. The US Government takes that money but does not pay any benefit on it.

2. The US has reciprocity agreements with a number of countries so that people who live some of their life in one country and some of their life in another country can access social security upon retirement based on their payments into both programs. This rule would end those agreements for everyone except people like me who have been dual citizens from a young age.

My father lived about a third of his working life in Canada, a third as a US immigrant on visas, and a third of his working life in the US as a citizen. We could not have immigrated to the United States if such a rule were in place in the 1980's, as the financial impact on his ability to retire would have been prohibitive. If such a rule is made retroactive, as many in this movement would like to see, it will have a huge financial impact on my family, because my mother's future social security earnings will be substantially reduced. It may result in her moving back to Canada.

This isn't anti-illegal immigration. It is anti-immigration. It is not fueled by genuine fiscal libertarianism or any concept of fairness, as it involves taking taxes from people without offering benefits and marooning American Citizens who live abroad by undercutting reciprocity agreements. Its fueled by the "blame the Mexicans" xenophobic scapegoating that became popular just as soon as people realized that there wasn't going to be an emotionally fulfilling military victory in Iraq.

I will not support this. This hurts me and my family.

Ah, so preventing SS payouts to immigrants isn't as simple as Ron Paul's campaign claims...and I thought legal immigrants were the ones we were supposed to be helpng! Illegal immigrants of course receive no SS benefits, although many DO pay into the system since they use bogus SS cards to get jobs.

So what about allowing young people to just opt-out and put all their money into a 401k? Sounds great, don't it? The problem is this: SS is a pay-as-you-go system, in which current tax revenue is turned around and paid to the retired, disabled, and bereaved. If enough young people start opting out, then SS will go into a death spiral as workers retire and there aren't enough incoming revenues to support them. Opting out as a policy position is a sneak attack on the whole SS structure, not some sort of benefit for the young. You see, if you mismanage your 401k you can get screwed and have nothing, if you die your children do not get paid 401k benefits to help them live, if you are disabled your 401k had better be in real good shape to last the rest of your life. Social Security does all these things - it provides a basic safety net for everyone. And considering Wall Street's latest hijinks, do you really want people who can't even handle mortgages correctly handling your entire financial future as well in a SS-less world?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Week End Fanboy: Special Marvel Archive Edition

So all I had in the chamber for this week's weekend fanboy reviews was the advanced screening of BSG Razor, and since Coddy is stuck in the conundrum of wanting a spoiler free viewing on SciFi and being compelled to read every single word I write, it's probably for the best we belay that review for a few more days for the fish's sake.

Instead, we'll provide a weekend rap up to our semi-exclusive* coverage of the "Dr. Stranging" of, with special graphics provided by reader Red Vader (Herr Vader, if there's a better URL through which to link you props, let us know).

So, the story so far as Bostodelphia understands it: earlier this week launched the beginnings of its digital archive. Early reviews were largely favorable, with a few complaints about access wonkiness and Free Culture Revolutionary vows that this archive will be torrented in proper .cbr format for the common cultural good or whatever justification.

Starting Friday, not just the archive but Marvel Comics' whole website has become inaccessible. It's not clear whether this is internet wide block or something affecting a substantial chunk of would be Marvel Zombies. Over at Newsarama it's become a discussed issue, with some people claiming no problem, but readers writing about difficulties specifically within this weekend's time frame seem to be growing. Discussants over at Comic Book Resources seemed ignorant of any problems with Marvel or the archive until early this morning.

So perhaps it is a limited hack of Marvel, or indeed some internal server problem that coincidentally has rendered a cute URL glitch for Firefox users. Complaints are also starting to rise up about problems with credit card subscriptions as well. In Bostodelphia's opinion, none of this makes Marvel look good. While they are masters at talking the talk of fanboy culture, they aren't a basement operation. They're shrewd transmedia retailers of their character brands. While making an image archive of the nature and scope Marvel's trying to roll out is to my knowledge unprecedented in the comics industry (and kind of cool), setting up a secure storefront to subscribers is not, especially to a company with contacts like Marvel's. What could have been timed as a cool early Thanksgiving present has left the folks over at Marvel looking like Turkeys unable to deliver the goods to their gobbling fans.

Special thanks again to Red Vader for the image and tracking down the Newsarama forum. It's great when readers help this blog write itself.

*Looks like someone over at Stuff We Like has also caught onto this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Chariots of Cheesesteak....

Hang on a second ... Philadelphia has a Marathon? And it's tomorrow? I think I want to see this. 7 a.m. Hmm.

"Dr. Strange" Hacks Marvel Archives?

Still perplexed by the mystery of Marvel Comics’ (doctor) strange shutdown, I did some more digging. To review, yesterday efforts to access Marvel Comics’ web presence led to a browser error message. On Firefox, I received the message “Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.” Also, when attempting to access Marvel, the URL in my address bar jumped from “” to “” (my browser strung 20, but based on the Firefox message perhaps whatever was going on was generating infinite Doc Stranges).

I had no idea that Marvel opened up a digital archive containing 2500 issues of Marvel comics this week, with 20 more issues to be added weekly, accessible via a $60 annual or $10 monthly subscription. A commenter put me on that trail, and some digging led me to this synopsis of the matter on Masheable.

Now, I’m only a casual skimmer of Marvel, and like my crowd observation skills, my skimming may well be even more myopic than I thought. This archive is entirely news to me. Anycase, it seems over the week, there have been a few glitches with the archive, as evinced by this digg comment by digg member PinkFloydFan re: Masheable’s article:

"Hey, true believers

The response to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited has been so overwhelming, we're just doing a bit of routine maintenance to make sure you have a great experience!

We'll be back shortly.

Thank You,"

This could well be a joke message speculating “in the event of" an archive crash, or an actual note the poster received from Marvel. We’ll let you know when or if we learn more. Also interesting in this thread was the following comment from Ratteler:

"Much like Hulu, though, comics will only be viewable through the site’s web viewer, and cannot be downloaded to the reader’s machine for storage."

I'll wait till they are available through bittorrent in .CBR format.

.CBR format is apparently a easily disseminated file format specifically for comic book archiving and reading. I’m assuming that some of the preview pages I read online are presented in this format, though again, my engagement with the comic hobby is very casual and more based on nostalgic whim than any sort of fan dedication. Corrections are welcome.

Now I’m 99% certain that this “doctor strange string” and the resultant crippling of Marvel is a hack. The question now is, what for? Let's speculate. It would be pretty to think this hack was an entirely innocent, capricious attack (remember the days when all hacks were?). That’s very unlikely, as is a remote possibility that this is some sort of “white hat” hack to expose Marvel and its customers’ vulnerability before a “black hat” exploits it. This leaves to my mind two criminal possibilities. First, this could be a financial info grab targeting customer data. Second, this is piracy effort to make off with the archive itself, in order to distribute them freely over torrent or other sharing networks.

My first instinct was the former, but I’m leaning now more to the latter. Hacking in order to display the Dr. Strange string sounds like something performed by a fan as a means to “sign” the stunt as a fan. I’m also quite sure that within the pirate community such an act could easily be rationalized through logic such as Marvel comics being a “common cultural property” under the unjust stewardship of an incompetent profit-mongering corporate regime yadda yadda …. Of course I also have a hunch that most of the denizens of the Pirate Bay and elsewhere don’t even bother rationalizing their piracy at all, but are just interested in scoring “the stuff.”*

Whatever has happened, is happening, over at Marvel, whether consumer data has been grabbed or Marvel's property has been hijacked, I’m seeing a potential cautionary tale brewing here that may be used as precedent for others contemplating the future of “content” management, within comics as well as the range of media with their varied engagements with digital distribution and protections. While some may see a coup against "the man," the access revolution may have flown over a speedbump. That hurts the ride too, you know.

We’ll keep you posted on this story as it develops, and feel free to drop us any scoops that show up on your radar.

*For the record, my full take on contemporary digital piracy and “cultural property” is a bit more complicated and nuanced than the above diss against hypothetical Marvel plunderers may sound, and maybe it’s something we’ll elaborate in this space later on. We should also get out in the open that the views of Cheesesteak the Impaler and Cod Peace do not necessarily coincide on most matters. I’m pretty sure Coddy is more of a straight arrow when it comes to matters of consuming media to the spirit and letter of existing copyright law, but he can chime in and school me otherwise.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Marvel Comics Hacked?

At the time of this writing, Marvel Comics' website is down. Oddly, when my Firefox browser reached Marvel as instructed, the address bar added a string of "docstrange"'s, 20 of them, to the URL. A Marvel Dr. Strange promotion gone awry in the coding, or someone having a little destructive fun with Marvel's web presence? Anyone else? Anything different on other browsers? IE "cannot find server" but no mod to the URL.

Update, 9:10 p.m. EST: is still "Dr. Stranged" and apparently we here at Bostodelphia can actually say "You heard it here first," since no one online seems to be reporting this. I would have discounted it as run of the mill technical difficulties, if 1.) the outage hadn't been going on all day (generally if a commercial site's experiencing technical difficulties that's sandbagging them for the long run, they still have enough control of the site to explain that they're down for maintenance) and 2.) the "doctorstragedoctorstrange..." string redirect seen in Firefox's address bar (this has only been seen in Firefox, Internet Explorer still takes you to an unavailable page error message, but no URL modification). We've been digged, and commentator Redvader over there laments that this event has come "after I plunked down $60 for the digital archive too."

My first thoughts were that this might be some sort of not quite well planned special Dr. Strange roll out announcement; but "something" more substantial, or at least advertorial, would have happened by day's end. So, let's assume some sort of hack. Now is this mere pranksterism, or something more invasive jeapordizing those with account information linked to Marvel' digital archive subscriptions? Also, I'm not very well plugged into the online comics fanbase, but really, no one's mentioned this but us?

Update #2: Further Bostodelphia Coverage can be found here and here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boston vs. Philadelphia!

In the spirit of the Bostodelphia name, I think it's high time to compare our beloved cities. Boston v. Philadelphia. The Cradle of Liberty vs. The Birthplace of America. Who will come out on top?

First some stats via Wikipedia...

population 590,763 1,448,394
density 12,327/sq mi 10,882.8/sq mi
area 89.6 sq mi 142.6 sq mi

Ok, Phillie is bigger but Boston is denser and has a nice harbor. Let's call it a wash.

Next up, sports. This one isn't even fair. Boston has the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Revolution. Philadelphia has the Eagles, the Flyers, the Phillies, and the 76ers. The last team in Philadelphia to win a national championship was the 76ers in 1983, and their major teams have 12 championship titles. Boston: last one in 2007 (duh), and a mere 32 championships. Oh, and the Boston Marathon is run here too. Suck it, Phillie.

Colleges...Boston and its immediate area has 42 4-year colleges and universities, including such internationally known heavyweights as MIT, Harvard, Wellesley, BC, and BU, and totals 100 in the surrounding area. Philadelphia has 80 nearby and in the city and actually has more students. None of them standout in international circles. Oh, and as for co-op schools, Boston's got Northeastern University, founded in 1898 and now with 15,195 undergrads, and had co-op from the get-go. Drexel is a little older, founded in 1891, but didn't get around to co-op until 1919. Drexel also enrolls a mere 12,906 undergrads. And might I add that both Cheesesteak the Impaler and myself are NU alumni. Advantage: Boston, natch.

Food: Phillie has the cheesesteak, Boston has baked beans and clam chowder. Pick your poison. As for beer...Boston used to have a FREE BEER tap at the now-defunct Haffenreffer brewery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, frequented by such luminaries as Babe Ruth. Winner: Boston, on account of free beer.

History: Ok, both played a very prominent role in the founding of the United States, with the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution being written in Phillie, and of course Boston's got the Shot Heard Round the World. Although might I point out that Ben Franklin was born in Boston. Tie.

Famous music acts: Philadelphia has Hall and Oates. Boston has Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars, The Pixies, Throwing Muses, Mission of Burma, The Lemonheads, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Chick Corea, and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. 'Nuff said.

Motto: The City of Brotherly Love vs. The Hub of the Universe. Ha! Point for Boston.

Movies: Many famous movies have been filmed in each. Rocky of course is set in Philadelphia, but that unfortunately spawned the entire Rocky franchise. Famous movie makes from Philadelphia: M. Night Shyamalan. Boston: lots, including Matt Damon, the Affleck brothers, and Adam Green, but M. Night Shyamalan automatically makes Philadelphia forfeit.

Famous people: There's plenty from each. Tie.

Enough! This is looking like a massacre. Final tally: 3 ties, Boston wins 5, Philadelphia 0. Conclusion...Boston rocks, and Philadelphia sucks donkey balls.

Ill-Heard BBC Punctuation Suggests Broadcaster's Role in Norman Mailer's Death

Caught this in the wee hours. Moments like this make being awake at ungodly hours fun for the American ear. What we have is an interview with Norman Mailer on the BBC's The Word, recorded during the promotion of Mailer's The Castle in the Forest and rebroadcast on the occasion of the author's recent passing. Cue the file up to about 26:16 to hear the show's host back announce the interview, "Norman Mailer, who died last week, talking to the BBC's Mark Lawson." In the dreamy twilight zoning that comes at dawn after a night of much work and little rest, and given my possession of a somewhat poor transatlantic English ear, I swore I first that caption statement sans commas. Ungrammatical in such a formulation, yes; but undeniably more compelling radio than the properly heard utterance.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Buy This Man's Car

Apparently, some people think Philadelphia's just a stepping stone to "bigger and better things" in the Big Apple. That said, I can vouch that this guy is a straight shooter and the car as advertised is the real deal. Just tell 'em Cheesesteak the Impaler sent ya.

Philly: Video Game Assassin's Right to Ride Subway Challenged

Ganked from Philebrity. Looks like the DA and some regional lawmakers are up in rhetorical arms against SEPTA's placement of an ad campaign for Hitman. All I have to say at this point is where are the SEPTA ads for the Vigilante Law Firm when you need them? If Vigilante's smart, probably right there at Agent 47's side.

(update, a day late with my line. Yesterday, D-Mac at Philadelphia Will Do beat me on the Vigilante quip, provides blurry photo evidence that the Vigilante Ads do indeed exist).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blinded wit' Whiz: the Ron Paul Media Machinery Chopped and Served

Alrighty, so Bostodelphia's gained some attention via our coverage of the Ron Paul rally. Welcome to those of you who've dropped by and I hope a few of you stick around. We're still getting settled here, some of our furniture's not even been delivered, and we can't even agree on carpet or hardwood floors yet, let alone color of polish or fabric.

Now, I could have kept what follows in the commentary within the aforementioned Ron Paul thread, and it might sound redundant in parts to those who've been following that disucssion. However, it speaks to an issue bigger than just Ron Paul, and also outlines some general ground rules for productive discussion in this blog.

To begin, I said this earlier and I'll say it again, I could be well off with my 500. It's been over a decade since I had to perform crowd estimates with any sort of responsibility on the line, so yeah, I'm rusty at it. My number could have easily been inadvertently processed through a coefficient value reflecting the incredibly "underwhelmed" vibe the whole shindig had for me, the unconverted. For the record, I'm a registered Dem so have no stake in the Republican primary. I actually think a Ron Paul ticket would make the White House more of a cake walk for the Dems that it currently is. That said, I'm a fairly empathic person, and I can see why people are charged up by causes on the other side of the aisle. In this case, I wasn't feeling it. Not at all.

That said, I'm sticking with my number for the time being until someone else comes up with a more trustworthy figure for me to redact in favor of, a reputable source that also cites the means through which its number was derived. Both in these postings and on Digg Ron Paulists have offered this as contesting evidence:

Ron Paul Philadelphia Veterans' Rally Draws 5,000

Monday, Nov 12, 2007 - 11:19 AM
By NBC 13 Staff
PHILADELPHIA, PA.– Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul today addressed a crowd of over 5,000 enthusiastic supporters in Philadelphia. The Veteran's Day weekend rally took place from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Independence Mall.

Hundreds of veterans and their friends and families heard country music superstar Rockie Lynne open for the Texas congressman and rising GOP contender, Dr. Paul. John Holland, the founder of Rolling Thunder, a leading advocacy organization for troops, veterans, and POW/MIAs, delivered an enthusiastic endorsement of Congressman Paul, before the congressman addressed the crowd.

The rally coincided with the launch of the Veterans for Paul Coalition, which is composed of several hundred war veterans.

"Dr. Paul's support among veterans is extremely high," said Paul campaign spokesman Joe Seehusen. "These great patriots who have fought for our country know that only Dr. Paul's foreign policy of peace and secure borders can guarantee true national security, and they want him fighting for our country's freedom."
I and Coddy have pointed out two things to our challengers providing this "evidence." 1.) In no way does this "show us" because it entirely lacks both the photographic perspective allowing for empirical evaluation and any explanation as to where the number 5000 came from. 2.) This item from Channel 13 - an NBC affiliate serving Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Anniston Alabama noted for its crackerjack Philadelphia desk (do I have to say "not"?) - looks strangely like this:

Press Release: Ron Paul Philadelphia Veterans Rally Draws 5,000
November 10, 2007 7:00 pm EST PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA– Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul today addressed a crowd of over 5,000 enthusiastic supporters in Philadelphia. The Veteran's Day weekend rally took place from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Independence Mall.

Hundreds of veterans and their friends and families heard country music superstar Rockie Lynne open for the Texas congressman and rising GOP contender, Dr. Paul. John Holland, the founder of Rolling Thunder, a leading advocacy organization for troops, veterans, and POW/MIAs, delivered an enthusiastic endorsement of Congressman Paul, before the congressman addressed the crowd.

The rally coincided with the launch of the Veterans for Paul Coalition, which is composed of several hundred war veterans.

"Dr. Paul's support among veterans is extremely high," said Paul campaign spokesman Joe Seehusen. "These great patriots who have fought for our country know that only Dr. Paul's foreign policy of peace and secure borders can guarantee true national security, and they want him fighting for our country's freedom."

This duplication isn't some Shakespeare's monkeys fluke. Rather, the good staff of NBC13 decided to take a press release from the Ron Paul campaign and run it on their website unvetted with no corroborative work by getting in touch with say, their affiliate counterparts at NBC 10 in Philadelphia who haven't even bothered to archive any coverage of the rally. This isn't journalism. This is a sad comment on the state of modern network affiliate television journalism, and I'll go further to say that this problem not limited to television either. A note to the staff of NBC13: if you're just recycling press releases as news content, you're not being journalists, you're just "tools" on a lot of levels.

Press being picked up by press outlets and disseminated as news aren't anything new. In fact, it's been worse:

Those who know the story know that nothing in the Negativland angle was true, for those who aren't familiar with the facts of the matter:

Now the Ron Paul grass roots could be thinking they've successfully infiltrated the factual consensus by getting a remote news provider to uncritically distribute the campaign's press releases, and in the Paulists postings here and on Digg were rubbing their deceitful epistemological triumph in our faces. In which case, shame on you and don't insult our intelligence in the future. I get the feeling though that what we're dealing with here are some people who honestly believe that if it's on an NBC affiliated website, it's got to be true, regardless of the source's remote relationship to the location of the event or uncanny resemblance of the news item's text to the exact language of official campaign literature. If that is the case, how is anyone supposed to take seriously a group claiming to have a reading of the Constitution at the heart of their beliefs when they demonstrate in this discussion a complete lack of media literacy beyond the Sesame Street level?

Again, if an intelligent Ron Paul supporter can back the campaign claim up, thus proving me 90% blind, please do so. We want to keep this blog accurate when need be; and I got good health care so my vision corrective prescription will be covered. More importantly we want to cultivate a reasonable discourse based on intelligent discussion of thoughts grounded in critical evaluation of evidence, not a standard of evidence that wouldn't pass mustard in a high school research paper. So far Paulists, I'm even less impressed with the movement than when I left your rally.

Boston Baked Bean: conflicting home price forecasts

Today in our beloved Boston Globe the following story was published regarding remarks by Robert Shiller: Economist: Housing slide may last years. That same day on this was published: Forecast: Upturn ahead for NE economy. These contained opposite predictions for the Massachusetts housing market, which is a topic near and dear to my heart since I plan on moving into a house in 14 months.

Let's start with the optimistic forecast from the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit forecast group:
New England's current housing price decline is to reach its steepest point during the current quarter, with prices continuing to fall through next year's second quarter. Economists then expect a slow, modest housing recovery, with the region's median price expected to fall 10 percent from the pre-slump peak to the downturn's low point.

And now with Robert Shiller's grimmer view at the national level:
Robert Shiller, a Yale University economist and codeveloper of Standard & Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indexes, said declines in home values in the most vulnerable markets could double the losses recorded thus far.

What's more, Shiller, who is also cofounder and chief economist of the financial firm MacroMarkets LLC, said predictions for a bottom within the next year or so are probably wrong, with price declines in 2008 possibly worse than those seen this year.

"There is a probability of a continuing decline for a period of years, bringing prices in many cities down in the 10s of percent," Shiller said.

"The bottom is hard to predict," he said. "I do not see it imminent, and it could be five or 10 years, too."

Shiller is noted for having correctly predicted the end of the dotcom boom in 2000 in his book "Irrational Exuberance." The NEEP on the other hand, lists some press responses to its past housing market predictions on its website:

"Housing forecast: downturn until '07"
Robert Gavin, Boston Globe, November 10, 2005

"Home Prices seem set for modest fall "
Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, November 10, 2005

Well, we all know how the housing forecast showing a modest fall and a recovery in 2007 has gone. Somehow I place more faith in Shiller's forecast than NEEP's, based on past track records.

Here's my prediction, completely devoid of economic credentials other than paying attention to the news: housing prices will fall for at least the coming year. Why?
  1. The foreclosure and subprime mortgage crisis will be worse in 2008 since the bulk of the bad loans won't reset their rates til 2008.
  2. Record home heating oil prices will financially break a lot of people, especially combined with resetting ARMs.
  3. Due to heating oil, huge poorly built, underinsulated McMansions will come out of vogue, affecting the higher end of the market.
  4. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will only buy non-jumbo loans, under $417,000, which means that buyers looking under that rate will have an easier time getting mortgages, giving sellers an incentive to sell their homes for under that level, depressing prices in the mid-range of the market.
Which means that winter 2009 will be a fine time for me and my family to buy a house, at long last. Well, at that point we will be debt-free and have a down payment saved, so I guess we're buying no matter what the market conditions are like. Then my permaculture adventures can begin...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Saw it. Perhaps before this week's Weekend Fanboy Report I'll get to a spoiler free review of it, with a spoiler open one during its broadcast weekend. I'm going to see if I can figure out how to do cuts within blogger so no one need glance over spoilage unless they want to.

Overall, I'd say it warrants a "B" in comparison to the overall series' "A" grade.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Late Saturday Morning Fanboy / Weekend Fanboy

Caught a much put off screening of 30 Days of Night Friday night. I’ll give it a B- overall. I went into this familiar with Niles and Templesmith’s comic, so I was concerned having that knowledge might dilute the experience for me. That wasn’t really the case. The first shot sequence with its soundscape really got my expectations up. The make up department did an amazing job capturing the likeness of Templesmith’s illustrations in the film’s vampire cast, though I think the make up needed some adjustments in the climatic conflict as I think the lighting change threw off the persuasive job it had been doing up till that point. Someone should have noticed that and compensated for it. The effects crew should also pump their fists, so to speak, for the final blow Eben dealt the lead vampire.

However, and I politely argued this point with the counter worker at Showcase Comics Saturday when I picked up a reprint of the graphic novel compilation, something was lost in the translation from graphic novel to film. Yes, the story and the number and nature of most of the characters were truncated to fit movie conventions though still did justice to the original; and while the makeup did excellent work capturing the look of 30 Days’ vamps, the atmosphere the illustrations provided didn’t fully transfer. Cold and dark tones give the fingers frostbite when reading the graphic novel, at a number of points in the movie, it just didn’t seem that cold at all. When the film did try to assert the hostile artic climate, it came off half-cocked. For instance, a sequence where the characters are walking through a blizzard was transparently CGI and wind machine. The graphic novel consistently pulls you in, and chills you. Moments like the blizzard walk pull you out. Decent bloodbath, but the setting matter so much to the story of 30 Days in a way I think the filmmakers didn’t fully appreciate in their adaptation.

I’ll conclude my thoughts with my feelings that having the vampires speak “Vampire” and not English was annoying. Its only purpose I could see was to give an added, and admittedly successful, creep out factor to the “No God” scene:

Otherwise, it took away from what could have been some fun distillation of the vamps discussions from the comic. It also mars up potential for adapting the rest of the 30 Days mythos into film too, and adds a “huh” factor to the Prequel available on I mean, I can accept Vamps using the Internet without English; but the logistics of coordinating attacks in New Orleans and L.A. without any sort of need to “pass” among humanity struck me as off.

Past two episodes of Razor flashbacks on SciFi had a creep factor too. Kind of curious if Adama’s psychic contact with the hybrid goo is going to have any consequences in Razor or Season 4. I’m imagining the ship Diana is going to play a role in Razor, unless the test subject pool were a trick within a ridiculously Cylon plan labyrinthine plan. Hopefully getting to the theatre two hours ahead of the screening will secure me a seat. If I don’t get in as result of there just being a more hard core fanbase ahead of me, so be it. However I’m fearing some sort of Chinatown bus stop-style crowd control fuck up on Riverview's part, shafting me after waiting on foot for two hours. And I don't mean the pushing and shoving one by the WaWa on 11th and Arch, I'm talking the logistical mess at the Canal St. stop in NYC.

I read Mike Whitney's mind...

I replied to CtI's inital Ron Paul post the other day claiming that the MSM would eventually take down Ron Paul if his candidacy looks to threaten Giuliani's nomination. Mike Whitney posted over on Smirking Chimp and article titled "How the Media Plans to Ambush Ron Paul" where he, er, repeats my point completely. It just goes to show that there's no original thoughts and I certainly swiped it from someone else...

What I don't get is why a progressive Democrat like Whitney would then go through with an endorsement of Ron Paul:

First we stop the killing, and then we restore the Constitution. These are our two main priorities. And that's why I'm voting for Ron Paul. He is the only candidate who's promising to do both. And he'll keep his word. That makes him the only truly American candidate running for president.

The Democratic Party already has a candidate who would do all these things, and that's my man Dennis Kucinich. Of course, Dennis has the key problem of actually attempting to impeach Cheney, which clearly shows that he has entirely too much sense and patriotism to be allowed near the Oval Office.

It should be noted that super-Constitution-defender Ron Paul voted against the impeachment resolution.

Ron Paul Run Down

I was there, with at most 500 people by my own generous estimate based on a rough average of people lining crowd ranks and files. Heard it was his biggest turn out yet, which pumped the crowd. As for his stump speech, it was basically a list of talking points familiar to anyone who’s gone over his website. The whole thing struck me as crowd cheering to a Powerpoint presentation, even though the overhead projector was busted so the presenter had to read off notes on his blackberry.

I don't see how you can really buy into anything he’s selling, unless you accept the dogma that pretty much everything since the ratification of the Constitution that has happened in U.S. history and resulted in federal action has been intrinsically misguided. I did walk away seeing Paul supporters as at best what one might call "Constitutional Fundamentalists" which seem to have the same sort of blindspots as Biblical Fundamentalists. Both camps have a refusal to acknowledge the organic nature of human thought, whether inked or put down in stone tablets. In the case of their “enshrined” Constitution (though I’d say their enshrinement is more a set of blinders than any sort of reverence for the document and its history), they fail to remember that it’s a human document, in human custodianship and yes, subject to conservation - but conservation within a nation and world that’s considerably changed since it was first drafted to determine the security and social position of a bunch of land and business owners. A good number of people in the audience, including the white men, likely wouldn’t have the vote had we maintained the sort of static Constitutional view they seem to be clamoring for. As I've said before, it's like they think government has a reset button, and not realizing in pressing it they'd delete the "cheat codes" that got them where they are in the game.

Otherwise, sorry, not much of a fringe show, only one guy with some neck tattoos that might have suggested skinhead and one guy in head to toe camo with mirrored sunglasses and some sort of earpiece. The crowd was mostly young, by that I mean under 30, and I'd say in that crowd mostly under 25. I blame an educational system that has failed to teach the majority of Americans civic engagement. That's not teachers’ fault necessarily. Rather I see this as the result of the entrenched ignorance and disempowering parochialism that amounts to the “interest” in education displayed by a very vocal segment within the national discourse determining the content and funding of education.

A telling moment as the crowd on Independence Mall disbursed, walking behind me were two college aged women who sounded “well traveled,” been to Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Ibiza, etc. I picked up that their tours of these cultural hotspots were enabled by study-abroad programs. You know, those opportunities ostensibly to broaden one’s understanding of the world, but have pretty much become a training ground for folks wishing to come home with a broadened “sophisticated” understanding of partying. Any case, the worldly young women (whose broadened understanding seemed to boil down to “people in Europe are weird about politics and stuff”) paused in their review of the event (a review consisting basically of noting points in Paul’s speech that marked their series of progressive minded ex boyfriends as “weird” like the people in Paris) to wonder, “Wait, isn’t there like some historical things or stuff around here? Like the Liberty Bell and stuff?” For those needing some spatial orientation, Independence Mall is basically a football field sized space across the street from Independence Hall.

There were plenty of men their age within earshot too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t gather much from them for comment beyond their call and response chanting of “Who You Gonna Call? Ron Paul!”

And with that, Bostodelphia puts a lid over this week's panfire.