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.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let's Light Up Ron Paul and his XBox Army!

Ok, so this is all taken from here. Yeah, on the online forum from my old hood I lurk and sometimes shout out as a douchebag. It's the internet and I get cranky sometimes. Anyhow, gentrification in my neighborhood has brought an influx of the apparently young, ill-informed, yet possibly affluent: Ron Paul supporters.

Now, in this forum, I made a bad call. I assumed Paul's Grassroots 5th of November campaign would just fizzle, not blow their candidate into a vaguely Deanish netroots fundraising spotlight. In light of that, I admitted making a bad call, but asserted I think this isn't the first shot in any sort of true political revolution, just some flash powder in pan that's been hit before and will likely be hit again. Some others chimed in, recycling the "Paul is a loon" mantra that got ensconced in the conventional wisdom after a number of profiles in the mainstream media, like this one. This prompted a response from one "pip," an apparent Ron Paul supporter, shaming the tone of ridicule.

My rebuttal follows, slightly edited for clarity:

"You can disagree with his message, but trying to discredit the man as a "loon" is downright insulting. The man is a doctor of medicine and understands economics (having studied the Austrian school of economics) better than most politicians in the race."

1st off, I'm not sure why you think those credentials are impressive. The guy's got an M.D. Lots of people do. Heck there are people with PhDs and doctors of law (J.D.s) on this board. Doesn't mean I want any of them running the country, though I do have this moonshine operation to whom I'd confidently hand a few of them the reigns.

He understands economics? Howso? Does he have an advanced degree in economics, has he ever worked as an economist? Do you know what "the Austrian school" is? Here's a hint, it thrives in the world of "radical" economic theory (kinda like Marxism still exists on the fringes of modern social and cultural theory) and I don't know of any stable economy using it as a model outside of maybe a long running game of Sid Meier's Civilization.

"Lastly, he's the only candidate who had the courage to vote against both the Iraq war and the Patriot act, when it was unpopular to do so. No major Democrat candidate will commit to removing troops from Iraq."

That is true, he can make a speech and vote his conviction. Tell me this, can he effectively lead? What is his legislative record? Has he authored (not signed on to) any major legislation or enacted policy? Held any legislative chairships? Or did he spend his years in Congress around his voluntary break operating as a "straight shooter" who didn't hit anything and a "straight talker" who no one really listened

The Philadelphia Weekly does a great job capturing what the why Paul doesn't have a prayer perspective:

'Hello, young American! Does the very mention of the Constitution inspire a long-dormant patriotism that has nothing to do with pointless flag-waving and destroying other countries? Ron Paul looks pretty good these days, eh? His rambles pass for political courage as he goes around announcing that he believes in more personal rights. Except being a libertarian, kiddos, doesn't just mean you're pro civil liberties. It means you're anti lots of other good stuff. Like Medicaid and Medicare and the idea of some sort of actual universal health coverage. You're against federally funded public schools and subsidized college loans. You're against programs to help the poor, the hungry, the sick, the very young and the very old, and you think everyone needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps or go to hell. And if that's how you feel, go ahead, go to Ron Paul's Liberty Rally 2007 and scream about the "revolution." Believe you're out there fighting for freedom because you're with a Republican who wants to end the war. But if you're into the real principles of the Constitution (check the Preamble if you're confused; it contains the phrase "promote the general welfare"), stay home and read a god**** book that isn't written by Ayn Rand. (Alli Katz)'
I see Paul's isolationism as a comic bookish alternative to the U.S.'s current foreign policy (hence the interest from the V for Vendetta Fan Base who really didn't get what Guy Fawkes was all about). The last thing the country should do is disengage from the globe. No country, since the mid twentieth century, can function in such a bubble, and those that try like Turkmenistan and N. Korean, well do we want to be
in that club?

Domestically, he serves the parochial interest of his small Texas town just fine. But the U.S. is not a small Texas town. You want to peel back all the country's social programs including financial policies that enabled most of us to get an education, so that the whole country takes on the idyllic character of a small Texas town, culturally, economically, and intellectually. You keep on rooting for him.

Maybe I'm wrong, but this guy sounds like his big constituency in the republican race stems from Gen Y types who want to click reset on the U.S. Playstation, a demographic who apparently has never heard of Pat Buchanan or Lindon Larouche. There is nothing new to this guy, other than a digiterati trying to re-enact the Howard Dean playbook for him. I actually preferred Dean as a moderate back in '04, and I think playing to his "radical" following is what doomed him (and the yell). My bet, Paul, if he gets any primary ground, goes down the same way.

Oh and he's on my turf this Saturday. I think I'm there.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cheesesteak, you're late!

Monday is "change the tag line day" and Cheesesteak has dropped the ball.  Way to go chump, we're well on our way to 70 million daily readers ;-).

Worth reading: Naomi Wolf's "A Paper Coup", which is all about BushCo's unnerving pattern of playing for keeps all the way to the end blessed end of Bush's if the next pretzeldent will just pick up where he leaves off with no changes in policy.  

Of particular note is the mention of Blackwater USA's newsletter, which includes an article all about...compassion!  It is good that not even the Bush regime can kill irony.