Monthly Archives: May 2014

So, Yeah.

I’ve decided to leave the Free Comic book series unfinished.  It didn’t get a lot of views, each post was time-consuming, and May is over.  I’m going to go through the buffer, at the end of which I’ll see exactly how many days a week are actually feasible given my work schedule.  Thanks for hanging in, and I look forward to many more posts.

Science and Naturalism

     Even if science is objective, scientists aren’t. Oh, there’s plenty about removing one’s bias from their work, but to no avail. It is impossible to shut down one’s own bias completely. At best, we can remove most of the assumptions from our bias and render the remaining assumptions malleable.

     Due to the overwhelming number of naturalists drawn to the sciences, the assumption that there is nothing outside of the realm of the observable, repeatable, and quantifiable. Thus has led to the fallacy of scientists claiming to have disproven the existence of many things, most notably things from religions. Absence of evidence is not in and of itself proof. Science can only attempt disproof of one thing by proving that something else exists which is logically incapable of coexistence with the first item. A cannot be true if B, B=true, therefore A=false. Yet too many scientists abandon science in its own name to use the absence of evidence as proof. The argument of science vs. religion (or science vs anything else) is but a false division. The real war is religion vs naturalism.

     There is a logic trap used in debating religion. If we understand how something happened, then God didn’t do it. If we don’t, it didn’t happen. The naturalist does not allow for the possibility of God in these arguments. Believers do not dispute the normal order of things, we simply believe that a supernatural stimulus was applied to cause many of the spectacular events in which we believe.

     The naturalist does not believe in the supernatural because they have not personally observed it, nor has it been repeated, and so it cannot be quantified. Yet, the scientific method can only analyze the observable, repeatable, and quantifiable. Since the supernatural, by definition, cannot be repeated, is rarely observed, and cannot be quantified, science can neither prove nor disprove the supernatural except by proving those items which cannot coexist with the supernatural item in question.

     Since the naturalist and believer both agree on the present natural laws, to believe in a religion as literal does not hamper our ability to move forward scientifically nor technologically. Rather, our faith simply tells the world how we plan to use what we find.

Science is no more capable of forming morality than a paper map can dig through the rock covering the treasure marked upon itself. Science gives only raw data. Science can tell us how sperm and egg cells divide, the stages that they will take, and even how to interrupt the process. But science alone cannot tell us if we should. Among other things, religion includes a core set of philosophies. Philosophies then inform morality. Naturalists are capable of morality, but only by adopting secular philosophy or co-opting the philosophy of a religion that they do not practice.

     Tell me in the comments, what other assumptions do scientists make?

Why The Sexism Of Workplace Dress Codes Is A Non-Issue

During the kerfluffle of #YesAllWomen, many were quick to point out that workplace dress codes are sexist.  We have nothing to worry about.

So dress codes often specify that women can’t wear the following: low-cut tops, bare midriffs, and short skirts.  So?  The reason workplaces place these restrictions on women is simply due to the simple fact that these trends do not appear in the more limited choices of men’s fashion.  I guarantee, if a man were to violate these sections, he would be fired too.

Why are these restrictions in place?  Because it’s just unprofessional attire, period.  We have no need to address whether or not these outfits are distracting.  Most workplaces ban shorts, why not short skirts too?  Workplace attire has always leaned in a conservative direction.  Get used to it, find a career/company with more lax standards, or start your own company.

I am reminded of the earliest episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Critics of the original Star Trek series complained of the sexism in the women’s uniforms.  So in the first few episodes of Next Generation, the kept the two uniform styles (pants and minidress).  Only they applied them in a gender neutral manner!  That’s right, not only were both men and women seen in the pants uniform, but there were both men and women wearing minidress uniforms!  The minidress uniform was unceremoniously dropped from later episodes, but the point was made.

If anything, the women’s dress code is more freeing.  They have more options.  Men are stuck in pants, dress shirt, tie, and maybe jacket.  Women can wear the same, with or without tie.  This is an option men generally don’t have.  Plus there are a number of acceptable dresses available too!  Men can’t wear shorts, but women can wear knee length skirts and dresses to get around that restriction.

Whether we like it or not, dress codes are often arbitrary.  I can’t think of one workplace where a woman would be in trouble for adhering to the men’s section of the dress code.  If you want gender equality in the dress code at work, you don’t have to change it.  Just buy a lot of ties and get used to hating those ties as much as the men do.

Free Comic Book Day 2014 Review Part 7

Ugh, I love these comics, I was just hoping to finish by now.

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar

Dark Horse Comics and Nickelodeon bring us Avatar.  I’m not all that familiar with the character.  The art carries the same level of stylization that I’ve come to expect from kid’s titles.  The story is where this book really shines.  Comics fandom was once dominated by men.  As the demographic shifts and the audience for comics grows, the old-style audience has caused unnecessary growing pains.  This story brilliantly illustrates how the bullied old guard has become the bully and how to deal with it.

The itty bitty Hellboy short seems to ape what I’ve seen from DC kid’s offerings.  Funny though.

Not sure I get Juice Squeezers, but it was a laugh.

Overall, recommend.

 

Raising a Reader!

Reader

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund threw in Raising a Reader! : How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love To Read!  This is one for the parents.  It begins with an explanation of what comics can give to kids.  The entire work is short and surprisingly in-depth for such brief sections.  It’s mostly a text piece, with scattered illustration.  I’d have preferred to see it done as a comic itself.  The next section deals with how to navigate a comics page.  For those few who don’t find comics reading instinctive, it explains the basics quite clearly.  Then we are given information on how to use comics in solo reading, reading aloud, as book club selections, and as a multi-literacy dialogue.  In Graphic Novels and Learning, we see how they can be incorporated into learning curriculum.  I wouldn’t use how they easily answer Common Core mandates as a shining example of their educational potential, but my misgivings with Common Core are for another post.  There is not only info for parents, but teachers as well.

Recommend!

 

Hello Kitty and Friends

HelloKitty

I’ve heard of Sanrio and their flagship character, Hello Kitty.  I’ve never heard of Perfect Square, the publisher.  Flight is a nice testament to imagination as Hello Kitty tries to alleviate rainy day boredom.  The Amazing journey is a preschool equivalent to The Magic School Bus exploration of the digestive system.  Not recommended for education, just entertainment.  The remaining Hello Kitty stories are drivel.  Seriously, not worth the read.  The Bravest Warriors art included seem to be a pair of Waldo-esque pages requiring foreknowledge of the characters.  Which I lack.

Recommend?  Only if you’re under 5.

 

Bongo Comics Free-For-All 2014

Bongo

I’m not a Simpsons fan, yet the Bongo Free-For-All never fails to entertain.  Bongo Comics includes the usual assortment of fake ads for parody purposes.  Its like Simpsons meets Wacky Packs.

We start with a Simpsons story titled With Great Power… (apparently Bongo likes giving Marvel approval).  Bart and Milhouse are reading comics in a treehouse.  The art is better than the series, but that doesn’t take much.  The boys try out variations on the well known origin stories in an attempt to gain superpowers.  Milhouse, as always, get the short end of the shtick.  The moral is, kids have superpowers when compared to adults.

Agent Vs Agent is very meta.  They parody a satire magazine that used to parody itself.  Feel free to pause as you process that.

Another Simpsons short is Mr. Burns to the Rescue.  Smithers is missing and Mr.  Burns must search for him through the untold bowels of Burns Manor.  As we see, I’m not the only one to use “kerfluffle”.

Krustyburger Konfidential actually has worse art than the show ever did!  How?!

Then we end on Synchronicity For Two.  An elegant title.  I always enjoy their riffs on Dr. Strange.  I’m surprised that there were no Futurama shorts this year.  Ah, well.

Recommend.

 

Captain Comic Book

CaptainComicBook

Holy sequential images, Captain Comic Book!  This one is brought to us by Operation Comic Book.

We get the obligatory superpowered origin story of a guy who can call on any ability of any comic hero.  A banker is put in charge of handling the estate sale of a Master Sorcerer.  Among the unearthly trinkets is a box of comics.  The banker is an avid comics reader, and since his boss doesn’t find the comics to be worth selling, he gets to take the books home with him.  Turns out, they are enchanted.  As he reads through the box, he gains the power of each hero.  As the book was sponsored by a Rotary Club, the Four-Way test is outlined.

Recommended.

 

Buck Rogers

BuckRogers

Hp put up a book of reprints featuring the newspaper strips of Buck Rogers.  Fitting tribute to the origins of comic books and graphic novels.  There are some sample pages in the back of a new upcoming Buck Rogers line.

Recommend?  Meh.

 

I hope to wrap up soon.

On Net Neutrality

Ed Tech Tattler

The fundamental idea behind net neutrality is that the information we receive online is given equal access to us, that is movies don’t get better access to us than an academic article or a small college’s website. The audiences that certain content can reach is on an even playing field and therefore for the end user, there is no tier of costs to gain access to certain information.

If I want to watch the newest Megashark vs. Mechashark movie on Netflix, or I want to read a blog post on a small community college website in southern Spain, the speed at which I receive this information is equal (of course is varies based on server speed, but ISPs don’t control this). My access to these 1’s and 0’s that make up the internet is the same access that everyone in the world has.

The recent FCC proposal to give a…

View original post 890 more words

Harley Quinn

     There is no doubt that the character of Harley Quinn has become a major fan favorite. It’s not hard to see why. Harley is a very layered character.

     I should probably start off with the fact that I neither am, nor do I desire to be, familiar with DC’s New 52. This is probably a relief to many Harley fans who have been critical of the New 52 take on Dr. Quinzel.

     Harley Quinn was created for Joker’s Favor, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series (referred to by fans as Batman TAS). I find it interesting that she was originally intended to be a disposable character, much like her beloved Mistah J (The Joker). Given that the Joker is very much involved with Harley’s origin, he and his relationship to Batman bear a detailed overview in this article.

     The Joker is undoubtedly Batman’s opposite number. Batman was created to be a lasting follow-up to the success of Superman, the Joker was meant to be a disposable villain du jour. Batman’s origin and mission are clear cut, the Joker has many pre-acid origin stories and his mission known only to himself. Many of these origins include tragedy, particularly the fan-favorite presented in The Killing Joke. For the purposes of this article, The Killing Joke shall be the Joker’s true origin given that it was confirmed pre-New 52 by the Riddler in Batman: Gotham Knights # 54. In The Killing Joke, we find out that the Joker was widowed in his defining tragedy. Please note that his late wife bears some resemblance to Harley. Approximate height, approx. weight, both are blonde, etc. This will come up later. Both men have opposite responses to their respective tragedies. Batman becomes a dark, grim, and serious protector in almost demonic garb. The Joker becomes a bright, happy, and seemingly flippant criminal mastermind. Batman won’t kill, the Joker is a mass murderer. The difference in these approaches could lie in the details of their circumstances.

     Batman was a child who saw his parents die in a senseless and random crime. The Joker is a father who lost his wife and unborn child in a series of events resulting from his own bad choices (provided we take the Riddler’s account over the baby bottle warmer incident). We even see in the Flashpoint series what Batman would be if Thomas Wayne saw Bruce die instead. Batman had the leavening influence of Alfred, a surrogate father figure. The Joker had no uplifting figure to guide him.

     Batman took in Dick Grayson to become the first Robin. In doing so, he becomes a father figure. He essentially takes his late father’s role as his own. Robin was created, like Batman, to be an enduring character. Harley Quinn was created as the disposable sidekick to the Joker, who was also supposed to be a one-shot wonder. Like the Joker, Harley endured anyway. The Joker may have consciously meant to manipulate Harley, but he really seems to have taken her in as a surrogate for his late wife.

     This is where the appearance note from earlier comes in. The Joker sometimes can be genuinely loving toward Harley. In these moments, the Joker sees her like he did his late wife. But then, like a flipped switch, the Joker beats and berates Harley. It seems as though the transference of his feelings from his late wife to Harley cannot be maintained due to the simple fact that they are two separate people. When this reality can no longer be ignored, the Joker punishes Harley for not being his late wife. The absence of a child who should have been born long ago makes the separation from reality even shorter-lived.

     I can personally guarantee that I have many Harley fans up in arms right now. Mention anything about the abusive nature of Harley’s relationship with the Joker, and her hardcore fans will immediately go into denial. “You just don’t understand their relationship.” “Their love is just different, that’s all.” “He loves her, really. He’s just a little rough sometimes.” These fans often spout the same rationalizations that Harley does herself. Yet, the Joker is unquestionably abusive toward Harley.

     I base my observations on the Harley/Joker relationship on my own experience with battered women. My mother has taught women’s self-defense classes often attended by the residents of battered shelters. During some of these classes, I was mom’s yuki (throwing dummy). We have had the occasional relative/family friend who has been abused. And being on work-for-welfare programs myself, I have had working relationships with many battered women. This is not to say that abuse is related to income or lack thereof, or even that all or most women on welfare are abused. What I am saying is that it comes to the surface more often among those with no appearances to keep.

     I don’t believe that the Joker really loves Harley. I believe that he loves the idea of her, of having that surrogate for what he lost. Even if the Joker does love Harley, that fact alone would not preclude abuse, nor would it make the abuse okay. The Joker would need to confront the issues behind his abusive behavior BEFORE attempting to form a romantic relationship of any sort. He would be best off doing this through therapy as a single adult. An abuse victim cannot change their abuser from within the relationship. Their best bet is to leave, seek help, and once they reach a certain point in their own recovery they can form an intimate relationship with someone new. A former victim may forgive their former abuser, but they should never return to that abuser. At the very least, not in a romantic setting. In short, permanently breaking up the Joker/Harley relationship would be the healthiest thing for both of them as people (though it may not be the best character move for storytelling purposes).

     We see Harley go through a battered spouse cycle quite often. According to the Batman TAS episode, Mad Love, the Joker was charming at first. The devolving of the relationship into an abusive state was gradual and easily rationalized away. He beats her and puts her down verbally on a regular basis. She claims to deserve it. She gets fed up. She leaves. She forms friendships that serve as a support network, i.e. Poison Ivy. She misses him. He acts sweet. She goes back. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Either a defining moment will have to occur where she breaks this cycle and leaves him permanently, she will kill him, he will kill her, a suicide-homicide situation occurs to kill them both, or a freak accident kills one of them before any of the other options occur. There is no other possibility. If they were real people, they would not die of old age. They would no reconcile and live happily ever after.

     This is where Harley becomes as important of a character to our current social landscape as Wonder Woman was in the 60’s, if not more. There are far too many misconceptions in our society regarding abuse and those who have endured it. A series in any media regarding Harley could address them all. We would see her in the abuse cycle, how she got into it, who she was before, who she is during, who she becomes after, who her abuser was before, who he is during, and how she can eventually break the cycle. Through her connections with others we could also see how men are also abused (an oft under-reported issue) and what happens to those who don’t break the cycle. The world needs that story.

Belly Laughing At My Own Baldness. (Or, Reflections On My Bald Head)

If you are confused, read my earlier post titled The Shaven Wookie.

I wish I could remember who said, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, you may be missing out on the joke of the century.”  I have found humor in my own mishap.  I would like to share with you.

If poodles had CSI, my bathroom trash can would look like a crime scene.

I passed a nearsighted fortune teller.  She thought I was her crystal ball.

I considered experiments involving Miracle-Gro and Rogaine.  I smell an origin story.

I may draw a face on it.  Then my kids’ll think I really have eyes in the back of my head.

If somebody mistakes me for a ball at the bowling alley, heads will roll.

As long as it is in good fun, have any more?  After all of the ribbing I’ve given the follicle-challenged loved ones in my life, I’ve got it coming.