Friday, August 29, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Skyscrapers, Checks & Balances, and a Butt

I’m out of the hospital and ready to go!
If you were wondering, no, I definitely do not recommend “flesh-eating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection brought on by spider bite” as a way to miss a week of work.  My advice is to just suck it  up and use a week’s vacation.  The folks at Bridgeport Hospital were great, but honestly, I hope I never have to go back.
“The SEC still has the best league in college football. But the best teams this year may be Oregon and Florida State.”

Uh huh.  Sure.  I’ll believe it when I see it.
2.  Crazy Selfie from Hong Kong Skyscraper
This is epic.

“The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress….
[U]nder the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path.”
Ugh.  All other considerations aside, this is not the way that the government is supposed to function, and our President, who is an acknowledged expert on constitutional law, knows better.  
You don’t have to be a Republican to dislike many of the moves this administration has made.  The President’s tendency to invent and try to force extra-legal bullshit to “solve” problems by shaming Congress for its inaction ignores the fundamental reality that our nation is deeply divided on many issues, which is why he’s having trouble getting his agenda through the legislature.  These kinds of “work arounds” have led to some pretty unfortunate outcomes, not the least of which is loss of faith in government by a substantial minority of Americans.
Maybe I would feel differently if the administration had a better track record on the performance of its various agenda items, but right now it looks like domestic politics is all they care about.  They spent every dime of political capital they had getting Obamacare passed but then let the rollout become a disaster, which in turn made the program a laughingstock.  At the same time, the nation’s foreign policy has become directionless flailing rather than a doctrine-based approach that others can understand and appreciate, making America’s allies nervous and its enemies unclear as to where the nation draws its lines.  Chaos has ensued.  On top that, the nation needs to cut its defense budget, which is fine—more than fine, really—but instead of cutting super-expensive cutting-edge end items that we don’t seem to need (i.e. stealth submarines and planes that don’t work), they’re cuttingtroops immediately after the nation’s longest ground campaign, which proved decisively that we need more dismounted infantry, not less.  But troops (i.e. labor costs) are the easiest thing to cut—and the most obvious, if you’ve been to Business School—so instead of picking a fight that the military industrial complex desperately needs, the administration is taking the easy way out.  They’re getting away with it because the Army is terrible at defending its interests on Capitol Hill compared to the other branches of the service, and most Americans don’t give a shit anyway.
I still believe in Checks and Balances.  I refuse to support side-stepping the very fundamentals of our government simply because things are difficult in Washington.  I don’t think the nation is any real danger of becoming a dictatorship, but as with Free Speech, this is not one of those issues on which we as citizens ought to willingly give ground.  Too many people have fought and died for our way of life to simply let government whittle away at it because we’re too busy to pay attention.
“Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts’ over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.
Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control.
The world may already be nearing a temperature at which the loss of the vast ice sheet covering Greenland would become inevitable, the report said. The actual melting would then take centuries, but it would be unstoppable and could result in a sea level rise of 23 feet, with additional increases from other sources like melting Antarctic ice, potentially flooding the world’s major cities.”
Twenty-three feet!
We’re so screwed.  After making an argument against unilateral executive action on this exact issue, I think what’s called for is reasoned national debate on the effective means of dealing with the problem.  We’re not going to get that, though.  Almost no one wants it.
Eh.  This is not the kind of problem that humans are well-equipped to solve.  We’re like bacteria living in a jar.  We’re going to contaminate our environment with wastes of our own making until the entire colony is destroyed.  I wish I believed another outcome was possible, but I do not.  It’s the biggest reasons I struggle with having faith in a higher power.
If you’ve not been following, Marvel has been on something of a roll with women’s comics lately, including several that my daughter Emma and I read regularly.  But then they commissioned infamous porn-tracer Greg Land to draw their new Spider-Woman book and hired well-known Italian erotica artist Milo Manara to do an extra-spicy variant cover, and the Internet went crazy.
No, that's body paint.
I myself do not care a great deal about the controversy because, let’s face it, Greg Land has been around for a while, and his style is well-known.  You hire a guy who heavily references porn as a basic component of his work, and you get what you get.  I personally find his stuff stiff beyond measure and incredibly unrealistic, but he’s hardly the only one drawing in that style.  A certain segment of the market likes what he does, and it takes only a modicum of effort to make sure that my kids are steered clear.  
This is not a problem.
Still, the issue sparked a goodly amount of Internet nerd-rage, which spilled all the way into the mainstream media.  The Guardian covered it, as did many other sources.  The best article I’ve seen on the issue is Kelly Thompson’s article on CBR (linked above).  If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, it’s an excellent primer.  I encourage you to read it, especially if you like comics or have kids who like comics.
Speaking personally, I don’t like the Manara Spider-Woman at all, but he’s done other work that I do like, including the Gamora variant below from a recent issue of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Gamora, Guardian of the Galaxy.
The Guardians cover is an aggressively sexy piece, I grant you, but I still like it.  The character’s design is ridiculous, but it’s been that way until very recently, and though this interpretation takes the basics and dials them up to eleven, I still think it’s good.  Maybe that’s because the Gamora cover is an obvious fantasy while the Spider-Woman variant is set in a real city, albeit in a way that’s equally over-the-top and ridiculous.  Maybe it’s because the Gamora cover reminds me of classic Renaissance sculpture in the way that it unabashedly celebrates the female body while the Spider-Woman cover looks like some poor Internet starlet got put into bad body-paint before an unfortunate photo shoot.  I don’t know.  One works for me, one doesn’t, and you can take that however you wish.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Is the Gamora as bad as the Spider-Woman, and if so, why or why not?
That's all I've got.

I think I'm gonna take one more week off from working out, and then it's back to the long slog of rebuilding fitness after an injury or illness.  That's a part of getting older, unfortunately, but not a fun part.

See you next week!

1 comment:

  1. I liked your post Dan and you piqued my interest by just the title alone. I personally liked the Gamora. At least she looks like a fantasy. Kids in general are fascinated with butts and when you emphasize it like that in a comic book I think you are crossing the line. Especially a book then kids read too.