Disgusting Vandals

I had originally decided to let this Memorial Day pass with out comment.  I honestly had better things to do than to make an argument for restoring the dignity of thios day to people who really don’t (in general) care one whit about it.  But I sat here watching CNN Headline News, and saw a story that drove me to comment now.

 It seems that a vandal, or vandals, disrepsected a number of graves in San Juan County, Washington.  On at least two separate nights, these fiends burned flag markers, and replaced many of them with hand drawn Nazi swastika flags in red paint/ink.  Many of these graves are of WW2 Veterans, who it should be remembered, helped to bring down the Nazi regime.  These cowards did this twice over the Memorial Day weekend.  SO it was obvously intentional, and designed to outrage.

To what purpose I ask?  To impugn the dignity of the dead?  To make some lame brained political statement?  And they couldn’t find a better way to do either?  Show some sense of respect, some sense of worth here people.  Help the County Sheriffs there solve this case.

For those interested, here’s a link to the story from Seattle’s Channel 5:

http://www.king5.com/localnews/stories/NW_052807WABcemeteryvandalism_swastikasJM.1fdd0779.html

I should note that I had to hunt a little bit to find a good link for this story.  Kudos to CNN Headline News for airing this story (and the Sheriff’s phone numbers), but boo to CNN Online for not having a direct link to this story.  Instead we get links to Rosie O’Donnell’s video blog (like anyone with half a brain cares), and Lindsay Lohan’s DUI arrest (enough already!).  How bad is it when these two nit wits get more attention than our nation’s veterans?

And people wonder why I dislike mass media news programs…

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New Comics Friday

Ok, so it’s Saturday, sue me.

But every two weeks, I make my run to Electric City Comics (Van Vranken Ave, Schenectady, NY), to pick up my subscriptions and whatever else catches my interest.  Since I got back into the swing of the whole comic scene, this has become a rituak of sorts, and at times a family trip.  Fortunately, it’s only about a 10 minute drive, so it’s not a patience trying experience.

 Anyway, with the rate at which comics comic out, with some being weeklies, only going every two weeks can allow quite a few issues to pile up.  Even so, it’s a rather stress reducing venture, one that allows me a bit of pure fantastical escapism for a few hours, and recapture a bit of the youthful joy that they once brought me. 

 So, I figure, why not take an additional moment, and comment on my latest issues?  Ain’t this the sort of thing blogs are for?

So, a quick run down of the latest and greatest.  First up is DC’s Countdown, issues #50 and 49.  Yes, these issue numbers run backwards, starting at 51, and will run down to 0.  This series is the follow up to 52, and is leading to a new “major event.”  Three main figures play in this series, Jimmy Olsen, Mary Marvel, and Ray Palmer (aka The Atom).  Mary is searching to get her powers back (lost when the rules of magic changed), Jimmy is searching for a reason for the murder of a villainess, and Ray has been missing since Identity Crisis.  Ray has yet to make an appearance, but Jimmy is going to have issues (is the Elongated Man helping him?), and Mary just found where Black Adam is hiding out.

Then there’s my current favorite title, Conan from Dark Horse.  IMO, this is the best series out there.  For those old enough, this is at least the equivalent of the Roy Thomas era stuff from Marvel.  Kurt Busiek’s run on it was outstanding, and the art and scripting of the series, and the mini series’, captures everything about Conan that we fans love.  Not only are they adapting Robert Howard’s original storues, but the original stuff is certainly staying with in the realms of Aquillonia.

Moon Knight is one of the few Marvel titles I currently subscribe to.  Being one of my favorite semi-psychotic characters since the early 80’s, I couldn’t resist getting this title.  So far, it’s fairly well done.  There are some issues with it, such as some story blips, where things are obviously missing, and the art can be misleading or confusing at times.  Even so, it’s a well done series on the whole, and the whole issue of Khonshu, andwho/what he is, and if he is or is not real, has been entertaining.  More so in the context of Marvel’s Civil War, where neither side wants MK.

My main focus these days are DC titles.  The new iterations of JLA, JSA, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (and GL Corps), and the Flash are all worthy reads.  The new Brave and the Bold series is also worth getting for those DC team ups.  I’m really enjoying Jodi Picault’s work on WW, as the scripting is engaging and entertaining.

 More in two weeks…

Bye-Bye Jerry Falwell

Today Jerry Falwell died of a probable heart attack.  The standard bearer for the religious right is now gone.  I can’t say that I’m broken up over this.  Even though I certainly lean to the right in terms of politics, I was never a fan of Falwell. 

 Not being especially religious, I just can’t get into the same fervor that people like Falwell, and people like him, generate over various issues.  It just smacks too much of a “holier than thou” attitude that I just don’t respond well to.  That all said, he did do some things that I can applaud.

Like him or hate him or just don’t care, he did do something that was beneficial to the nation as a whole.  He generated debate, even though he himself and his views were highly controversial.  Debate in a nation such as ours, is to be encouraged at all times, even when to you or me the “answer” or conclusion is obvious.  Falwell re-invigorated debate in the country in the early 80’s, mainly on social issues, but also on world affairs.  More so, he did so at a time when the country needed something to jump start a moribound political process still reeling from Watergate and the Carter years.

 In the end, no matter your opinion of Jerry Falwell, he served a purpose.  He may or may not be missed, depending on what you think of him, but his pressence as a generator of debatre and discourse will be missed.

Cataloging my comics

Well, I’ve finally got around to moving my comics catalogue from dog eared, heavilly edited note books to a sleek modern, 21st century format.  My original plan was just to do it all in spread sheet format, but I quickly came to my senses, and realized that doing this for some 6,000 or so individual issues, plus hard covers, and TPB’s, was just not going to work, especially for when I go and try to fill in gaps in my collection.

So, I went cruising the net for some sort of software and/or web site that would meet my needs and wants.  Basically, I found 2 worth looking at, though there are others out there.  Both are “web based,” and offer some similar features, and each has some unique features.

First off, there is comicpriceguide.com .  This site is purely web based, and offers two levels of membership.  The basic free membership allows you to track 50 issues of your collection, and gives you two free classifieds on the site.  You also can bid on auctions hosted at the site.  Not a whole lot, but for newbies, and those with only a few issues worth tracking, is a good fit.  The paid elite membership gives you much more.  You can enter your entire collection, and get prices/values for each issue and your entire collection, updated on a daily basis.  It also gives you access to more sections of the website, such as the forums, and more free classified ads.

The other site, and the one I opted to go with can be found at comiccollectorlive.com .  This site is essentially free, and that includes the software, which can be used on line or off.  I have only just begum to play around with the software, but so far I like what I see.  Be warned though, there is a small learning curve to using the software, as their folder format is a bit confusing at first.  If you don’t have a high speed connection, you should be aware that updates and catalogue loads can take quite a while, as can the cover images.  Even so, it is fairly easy to use, and so far is very comprehensive.  Is it a complete data base?  I don’t know, nor am I likley to ever find out. 

The Comic Collector Live software (from MidTen Media), does have a few unique features that hold a great deal of promise.  One of the “selling features,” is the ability to post wish lists, or list issues for sale directly through the software, which gets uploaded to their website.  For those seeking individual issues to round a collection, and aren’t hell bent for CGC gradings only, this seems to be an ideal feature, and one I hope to take advantage of in the near future.  Yes, there is a fee schedule for sales through them, much like Ebay or other auction sites, but that’s to be expected, the developers do need to eat and pay the rent and keep up with all the new titles and issues that come out.  😉

Once I get my entire collection input into the program, I’ll update this with more details.  That should be some time, and there will probably be a few hundred updates and new versions of the software out by then.

Another thing I thought I’d never see

Well, once again the unthinkable has happened in my life time.  First it was the Berlin Wall coming down, and the end of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.  Then it was 9/11.  Then it was the Red Sox winning the World Series.  Now we have Ian Paisley and Marty McGuinness sitting side by side in a devolved assembly in Northern Ireland.

Today, May 8th, saw both the DUP’s Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein’s McGuinness take their respective oaths of offices as First Minister and Deputy First Minister.  Even a mere five years ago this was all bu unthinkable.  Paisley’s obstructionism, and virulent hatred of anything vaguely associated with the Catholic Church all but had assured that this day would never come to pass.  Add to this a series of waffles from both Tony Blair, the British PM, and Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach, and for a time, all hope was lost.  Shows what I or any other pundit knows.

Yet here we are, a first step on a still longer road.  Yes, they all sat down and agreed to the nominations for the various offices.  Yes, they all took their oaths on time, and in the presence of all concerned.  Now it’s time to see if they can actually make this monster work.  The actual business of governing, establishing and implementing policy, taxation, spending, and of course, the all important policing issue, will show if this assembly has a snow balls chance in heck of surviving.

 Past precedent in this area is not rosy.  The failed 1972 attempt between the UUP and SDLP was still born.  The previous attempt under the Good Friday Agreement rapidly failed as the various parties hurled accusations around, and forced London to dissolve it.  But, the circumstances on the ground have changed significantly since those earlier forays into self government. 

Not only is the IRA on cease fire, and actively disarming (per the International Monitoring Commission), but now the UVF has announces it will dump arms.  This is in addition to other factions from both sides having “gone political.”  Does this mean an end to the role of the gun in Irish politics?  Probably not just yet, as too many on all sides will hedge their bets on this, remembering the past all too lividly.

 So here’s to them.  Here’s to hoping that this assembly can make things work.  Here’s to hoping that they can get their act together, and some time in the next 10 years or so, we can see a real referendum on the future of the six counties.

Clemens and the Yankees

OK, so the $28.5million question has been answered.  Roger Clemens has signed with the Yankees, and expects to start in late May.  This is a foolish decision, not only for Clemens, but the Yankees as well.

Let me state upfront that I am a certified Yankee hater.  Always have been, always will be.  Even so, the Yankee organization has made some bad decisions, mainly to keep the NYC sports writers “happy.”  This season was lost before it began.  The Yanks got old in a hurry, and just can’t stay healthy enough to compete in the rough and tumble AL East. 

 I thought Brian Cashman had started to make the right moves when he traded Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, and didn’t give into Bernie Williams.  Unfortunately for the organization, it stopped there.  The Yanks would have been better served by tanking this season, and get younger players, and more talent in their minor leagues.  Instead, they signed Pettitte (35 with arm issues), and didn’t address their bullpen issues (Mike Myers?), or the fact that Mariano Rivera is 37, and has lost some of his movement on the cut fastball.  Now they’ve signed the 44 year old Clemens to a ridiculous contract, attempting I presume to “salvage” the season.

 What the Yanks should have done is dumped all their old players who still had value.  They could have gotten good value for the likes of Rivera and Mussina, and position players like Giambi and Damon.  Yes, this season would have been bad for them, but in two to three years, the influx of talent, and some solid drafting, would have reproduced what the Yankees achieved in the early 90’s.  They would have had a young team, with some veteran leadership (like Jeter and Matsui), set up to dominate for 8-10 years.  Instead, they’ve gone back to the overspending band-aid approach.  Which, in all honesty, is fine with me.

 Back to Clemens.  This is a decision made on the basis of money and statistical accumulations.  All this choice shows is how greedy Randy Hendricks and Clemens are, and that Clemens is only playing to keep adding to his statistical totals.  Greed and ego drove this decision, and I see no other reason.  If Clemens really wanted to win, he should have signed with Boston.  Houston just wasn’t going to give Clemens enough wins to justify his going back.  Ego and greed, who says it’s only the providence of corporate America?

Edit: I got Clemens’ agent wrong.  I thought it was the blood sucking demon spawn of the Baseball world, Scott Boras.  The correct agent is Randy Hendricks, a sort of Mephistopholes-lite of the Baseball world.

Hello world!

Decided to start a “real” blog, as managing it through a web site was just to much like work.  Now, I can reserve the website for longer essay type rants and ramblings…