The Avengers


So I guess I need to watch some movies before this comes  out:

The film is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that crosses over several Marvel superhero films including Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

I’ve seen the first Iron Man, which was fun I thought, but not the second. It’s on Netflix but I got bored when I tried watching it. Is it worth my time?

The last Hulk I saw was the one that came about before the 2008 version … not sure what year. I hated it. A lot. How is the newer one?

Thor looks good, but I didn’t get to it in theatres. I’m thinking I’ll just rent Captain America also, unless anyone thinks it’s really worth the time and money to see it on the big screen.

The Debt Ceiling

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concludes that if enacted, John Boehner’s debt ceiling plan “could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history.”

That sounds to me like something that would create strong incentives to not be poor and, indeed, to fully incentive richness. Consequently, we’ll have massive economic growth. Right?

That’s Yglesias. The sad thing here is that Boehner’s plan is the only thing with any semblance of hope that it might actually pass.

Lord what fools these mortals politicians be.

The Knights of Badassdom

Okay, this looks great:


It reminds me a little bit of Role Models and the big battle scene at the end of that movie.

Then again, watching the trailer part of me was hoping they would transport themselves into some fantasy world where they’d be emerged in some comic adventure rather than have a demon woman enter their world – but beggars can’t be choosers right? Still, comic horror has had its turn. Comic fantasy is still majorly under-represented.


Jamelle Bouie and Elias post this chart from the New York Times:


This is pretty deceptive for a number of reasons. Yes, a lot of these policies were indeed started by the Bush administration, but a lot of them were also started again by Obama. the “Bush tax cuts” for instance, were set to expire. Obama and the Democrats created new tax cuts, effectively extending the Bush tax rates – but these are still Obama’s tax cuts.

And the 2008 TARP and stimulus spending is something that the Democrats pushed hard for as well. So that’s $2809 billion that is spending agreed upon by Democrats and Republicans. If you add that to Obama’s spending you get a much closer pairing. If you add in the wars, which Obama has not only not ended but which he has complimented with a third war in Libya, you get even closer.

Tit-for-tat is stupid. Obama and Bush are both big spenders. Who cares? Bush was elected as a conservative who was theoretically supposed to limit government. He did a lousy job at that. Obama was elected as a liberal Democrat who was supposed to spend money during a recession. Yet here’s the New York Times lauding him as a tight-fisted fiscal conservative. It makes my head hurt.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Well this looks interesting. Hadn’t even heard about it until now. Snow White is, of course, an extremely dark story so an adult version might make sense. I have no idea if it will be a retelling of the original or take some wildly different plot. Either way it could be either very good or spectacularly bad. We shall see.

Are fairytales fantasy?

Jo Walton has an interesting piece on Neil Gaiman’s Stardust in which he argues that while the book is indeed fantastical, it isn’t fantasy – at least not in the modern sense of the term:

Of course Stardust uses some of the worldbuilding techniques of fantasy, and any book about a young man going on a quest for a fallen star and encountering witches and magic is inherently fantastical. But genre fantasy post-Tolkien has become connected to specific imaginary history and geography in a way that Stardust scorns. This is not only a book without a map but a book where the very idea of a map would be ridiculous. The geography makes sense in an intuitive magical way that works for the plot. The same goes for the history and the social systems. This isn’t a book that you can consider comfortably in the same genre as Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet or Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. It’s just not interested in doing the same kind of thing — it’s coming at the numinous from quite a different direction. It has different ancestors and works by different logic.


Stardust is very short and very beautiful and it reads just like a modern fairytale should.

If Stardust isn’t fantasy because it isn’t like Rothfuss or Martin or the other world-building fantasy epics, than none of Gaiman’s work is fantasy. Anansi Boys and American Gods certainly don’t qualify. Even Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia would not make the cut. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians might not either and Harry Potter is a close call at best.

And if fairytales aren’t fantasy, then we must also strike Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell from the canon, as well as Little, Big and any other modern fairytales we can root out.

Post-Tolkien fantasy is, of course, deeply infused with fairytales if only because Tolkien himself was fascinated with faerie and fairytales. Sure, the Dragon Lance books may be your typical party-of-heroes world-building narrative type fantasy, but it is no more the heir to the genre than Stardust or Jonathan Strange. These are all very different sorts of books, but I think they all belong on the fantasy shelves.

Fantasy is a big tent. We should make sure it stays that way.

James Fallows on David Leonhardt

I would like to co-sign this sentiment:

There’s only one downside to the news that David Leonhardt (right, NYT pic) will become the new Washington bureau chief for the New York Times: presumably it means that he will do less writing on his own.

It is still too rare to find in mainstream journalism people who are (a) comfortable enough with the language, conventions, and math of formal economics to be able to write confidently about the substance of economic issues, rather than just reporting thepolitics of the issues in a "critics claim…" / "will Obama be vulnerable?" way; but also (b) detached enough from those conventions and shibboleths to be able to report clearly and confidently about what economic specialists get right and wrong.

I have always been impressed with the quality of Leonhardt’s work, even when he was blatantly copying my stuff.

Okay, okay I’m joking of course! But still…I come out with a post about how McDonald’s employees will be better off with Obamacare than with their crappy “insurance” plans and then a couple days later Leonhardt comes out with a column saying the exact same thing.

This is like when Google+ totally stole my idea for “circles” which I came up with four years ago while on a walk in the woods behind my house. And told only my wife about…or when Dungeons and Dragons stole a bunch of my RPG when they came out with 3rd Edition (which I told…nobody about).

There’s no honor among thieves.