Monday, September 29, 2003

Internet has been fuzzy (will be changing over to hi speed by November, so blogs will start picking up)

First, I want to give a big thank you note to Alan David Doane of the late Comicbookgalaxy website. He was always very helpful and insightful. We struck up conversations on the comics and creators we liked, and the creators and policies we loathed. Because of Alan's help, I have bought/read the following comics, and Alan, trust me, there WILL BE MORE TO COME.

-Tom Strong
-The Forgotten
-V for Vendetta
-Channel Zero
-Bulletproof Monk
-Global Frequency

Alan, thanks for all the help, wisdom, and your love of good comics. It was never unappreciated.

Michael Paciocco

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Sorry for yet another delay, as it was the result of two important factors;

1) Various family members required the phone line this weekend for school issues. I can't wait to get hi-speed
2) I'm an info junkie/read-aholic, and I got my monthly comic shipment. More on that later...


Just read Alan's closing statement on Comic book Galaxy (, all I can say is that he was the inspiration that got me to start blogging, and that he fought the good fight and opened a lot of minds to really good comics. His contribution will be missed dearly.
Here's to fighting the good fight....


I've had it had it had it with ignorant bastards like Rush Limbaugh making me ashamed to be a christian white guy with any amount of money. So, for today, I'm going to give you a manifesto of how to take guys like this to the wall, and deconstruct them for the small, bigoted trolls they are.

1) NO FUCKING FEAR - You must not be afraid of being outcast by your peers. Fear is the first, last, and only means for fascists to control the populace.
2) THE LIBRARY - OK, you need to show people how wrong people like Bush are, and how closeminded? Time to start some homework, start with Plato and other of the classic philosphers on how democracies are structures, and also some of the U.S. Founding fathers had some fucking airtight language on how that country works. The next time someone argues for the Patriot Act, remind them of the quote from Ben Franklin "Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither". Next up, some basic books on logical arguement structure (If you saw my dissection of Rush the other day, this is something taught in first year public speaking classes, and should be easy to get your hands on).
3) KNOW THY ENEMY - Go to Rush's web site, watch Fox News, maybe read the Bible (because if you know it as well as the Christian Coalition, you'll be able to rip apart that sub-human homophobia with a single biblical quote from the New Testament). You have to see them objectively, and see what they are really saying (which may make your stomach turn even more, because if you've done #2, you realize that what they are saying isn't much, and what little is there is full of bitterness).
4) KNOW YOUR ALLIES - The web is good for getting help, like (granted, he may be a little too far in the other direction, but it will help counteract Rush's brand of poison). The other reason I mention Moore's site is that he has a comprehensive links page to non-U.S. news sources, like CBC news (but then, as a Canadian, I'm biased).
5) FIGHT! - Win them over, not with force nor fear, but facts, compassion, and sheer humanity. Don't straw man Rush, but point out his logical gaps. Hate started this, but honesty will end it.


-Listened to an Ontario Election ad that stated that Conservatives would be "Hard on crime". This is funny because it insinuates that 1) they weren't before and 2) they can be harder. Given how LOW crime rates are in Ontario, it's funny. Now, if we were talking increasing penalties for corporate and environmental crimes...but on that issue they're silent.


Like I said, I got a boatload of comics this week, because I get them from Waterloo, and I got caught up on a lot....

Invinicble #4&5 - Simply one of the best pure superhero books out there. Angst free, funny, and generally touchy without being after-school special melodramatic. This is a fun read, and one that deserves more attention. The art here is a blend is a blend of early Walt Siminson with a more minimalist touch (but then, we haven't seen any giant Kirby machines yet, so I'll reserve judgement).

Sleeper #1-4,7&8 - The opposite end of the spectrum, dark, moody, and tragic. This book should be a primer on how to structure modern adventure comics. The protagonist (anti-hero, hero? With Holden, it's hard to say, which is part of the title's charm) is truly felt to be out of touch and out of his depth, and his real feelings of isolation, frustration, and ruthlessness are perfectly communicated.

Empire #1&2 - JESUS! Mark Waid is freaking EVIL! Anyone who thought of Waid as a sentimental sap needs to read this to see how truly wrong they are.

Planetary # 16 - Not yet. I've got a very long blog on Planetary in general planned for the weekend, and I'll get to it there.

Bye for now,


Monday, September 15, 2003

Howdy again, how's it going?

I have a few things to tell, so sit back and listen to the stories....


After helping my kid brother with his Physics homework, we decide to hit the local Friday night bar scene.....

...which is apparently as dead as disco. After sitting on the patio, discussing stuff with my brother, a few guys I used to know from High school show up. After exchanging the usual "So what have you been up to" 's, they start asking me to go and pinch one of the other guy's nipples...

....I need a better life.


I spent a LOT of time reading this weekend. Mostly junk I've read before, but a few new graphic novels courtesy of my local library.

V FOR VENDETTA: This "post-apocalyptic" story set in a fascist London is one of Moore's earliest works, and while it lacks the full-bore symbolism and meaning of Watchmen and From Hell, it was definitely a step in that direction, and he doesn't shy away from the moral ambiguity of what he's attempting to do. However, it is David Lloyd's depiction of a claustrophobic, grey and bleak London that really allows Moore's story to rise above the level of the ordinary.

CHANNEL ZERO: I'm new to Brian Wood's work, but I definitely think it is worth reading as a focused and impassioned arguement against censorship, and the religous uber-zealots who pervert any system to their ends (I'm looking at you, Ashcroft). Pick it up.


Ok, this book is getting a lot of press, and there's no shortage of talk about it, good and bad.

I'm not getting it. Here's why:

1) Outdated: This does NOTHING for the modern state of comics. It is a nostalgic type of story, and even the beautiful work of George Perez can change that.
2) Continuity: Ever since the late 80s, modern continuity has throughly wrecked the idea of a "timeless" superhero comic story, and if you need proof of that, try getting that Marvel/DC mini from the mid-90s, which was trapped by it's ties to the continuity of the time (Such as the "Spider-clone", or Superman's hair, for minor examples). Kurt and George may try to make this timeless, but there's going to be some man-boy who hates it because Kyle Rayner is Green Lantern, or Hawkeye has his scar, etc., etc......
3) Thin Plot: This is the complaint I hear the most, but seriously, what do you expect from a cross over? Just looking through my collection for crossovers, here's what I've found

-Marvel v.s. DC: They fight, Amalgam's created.
-Superman/Fantastic Four: FF and Superman vs. Galactus and Cyborg
-Batman/Captain America: Bat and Cap in WWII vs The Red Skull and Joker
-Fantastic Four/Gen 13 - They fight, and team up, and something truly weird happens (at least it was funny)
-Batman/Punisher - Batman stops the Punisher from killing the Joker. Yeah, like we couldn't see that one coming.
-Silver Surfer/Green Lantern - GL and Silver Surfer vs. Thanos and Hal Jordan.

DO you see a pattern? Expecting great writing from a crossover is near impossible. Accept it and move on.


Friday, September 12, 2003

Back and Back again

Well, that was unexpected. I got a cold for the first time in TWO YEARS, and it played havoc with my schedule. So, I'm going to talk about a large number of things....

Small things:
1) The comics I was trying to sell on ebay did not sell. Dang. I've got over 100 of these things that I just want gone....if you're interested, email
2) Saw Daredevil for the first time when I rented it this weekend. The first hour was tight, focused, and interesting, but I thought the pacing got choppy after the park scene. Decent overall, but nothing to write home about.
3) Started my gym program this week in order to slim down and build some muscle...but I have to admit, the health nazis are kind of creepy. When I got in, the lady at the counter gave me a book by one of the founders or whatever. This is the type of behavior I normally associate with cults, but I smiled and well, I understand that it takes aggressive policies to make gyms work....and I suppose you have to be a little crazy to work at that sort of job.

Big Things:

-Rush Limbaugh: I visit his website on occassion, and I recommend that anyone with an interest in arguement structure or logic take a close look. It is so simple to deconstruct his arguements and half truths that it stuns me that he is seemingly so popular and powerful in the world of radio. My favourite? "the top 50% of wage earners pay 90.96% of the taxes". Now, on the surface this looks like a jarring fact, but here's what Rush isn't saying;

1) How much of the tax base does say, the top 2% of wage earners pay for? How about the top 15%? Unless you have a better breakdown of how the tax base is divided into the working population, and maybe actually values of money (how much does the top 12% pay?), a single fact does not a valid arguement make.
2) The term "wage earners" is open to some interpretation. Are we talking about salaried workers, people on comission? Do you count part-time workers, people on leave? What about those with deferred wages (i.e. stock benefits, options, etc.)? How are these people accounted?
3) In order to maintain the level of economic development, and national infrastructure that is necessary for society to work (and all the Republican rhetoric in the world doesn't change the fact that government is a neccesary tool to economic progress, and to ignore that is proof of the worst kind of economic stupidity), the "rich" would NEED to be the key tax contributors, otherwise you would not have the capital necessary for government programs such as education, or say, the military (you DO have to PAY for that, don't you?).
4) Does being in the top 50% of wage earners necessarily make you "rich"? What is the Average U.S. Salary again?
5) My understanding of the U.S. Tax code being what it is, isn't it based on HOUSEHOLD earnings as opposed to INDIVIDUAL earnings?
6) Don't the "Rich" have more items that would be taxable by virtue of its existence. If I own 12 cars and 3 yachts, shouldn't I be paying more in taxes than the guy with one car?

Just so you know, I'm not trying to be mean spirited, but I do want you see the fallacies in his reasoning. A half truth is the most dangerous kind of lie. And Rush, no offence, but you offer more half-truths than someone with your influence has a right to.

- Comic Reviews: JSA All-Stars #5 - OK, first, let me say that I'm a fan of James Robinson's superhero work, particularly Starman , and it was his work there that made me like the 40's character Hourman, and the truly neat way the traditional power fantasy inherent in the superhero was married to the much more relevant themes of addiction and heritage/tradition (coming from an Italian Roman Catholic background, tradition isn't a work, it is a LIFESTYLE). With this in mind, I liked Johns' take on this "new" Hourman in that one solo issue of JSA last year (the only Johns or JSA work I've gotten to this point, though I may get a TPB just to try it). That being said, this issue SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED. It was smarmy, sappy, and more overly-sentimental than your average episode of "Touched by an Angel". Ugh....that's it, no more impulse buying. I'll put up more reviews when I get my shipment of comics from the store out of town.


Thursday, September 04, 2003

Odds and ends

Other important heroes:

-Sanjay Singh: A good, if annoying, man, whom directly challenges me, and constantly reminds me to keep my mind open.

-Jon Smith: Simply the best moral compass you will ever find.

News and events:

-Went to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert last week, and while I guess everyone has different opinions on what songs are his best, and which ones he should perform, I have to admit that he puts on a damn good show, and he consistently entertaining, amusing, and well, I know I bust a gut or two during his faux Eminem interview (on a side note, maybe this is how FOX NEWS does their interviews?). And one has to credit his innovation, it takes a special type of skill to fit the entire plot of the Phantom Menace into the 4 minutes of "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" without missing a beat, and to do the same thing a few years later by With Spider-man and Piano Man respectively.

-Got a new batch of eBay auctions; Just so you know, the money is going to 2 things:
1) my getting a hardware upgrade to get hi-speed, so I can do this blogging thing more frequently
2) To donate to my martial arts school to get some floor mats

Here's the link to my auctions

- Read some new trade paperbacks from the library
Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street - While I think Planetary is hands-down Warren Ellis' best work, I'm learning to appreciate this bit of essential Ellis. I think the key to understanding Ellis is that he'll make you laugh darkly at the beginning, and then stir you with his insights later on. Good reading.

Bulletproof Monk: OK, first things first. I love the movie. In my mind, it was the best movie this summer, easily beating the crap out of Matrix/X2 whatever. The comic, has no connection except that there is a Bulletproof Monk and a guy named Kar. That's it. And you know what, anyway you get it, it is still good. A really uplifting experience to read.

Politics (RANT ALERT):

If it's not one thing, it's another

George Bush claims to be the funding underdog? HOW THE FUCK IS THAT? He's an oil millionaire, as are about 3/4 of his cabinet, nevermind his huge support group in the Republican party, which worships him like the Second Coming. Nevermind that he's got a $200 million warchest and won't be spending a penny on the primaries. Who the hell think that the current reigning president is the underdog?

-The U.S. going to the U.N. for Iraq help; This is like asking Dad for money to fix the car after you took it for a joyride while being grounded, isn't it? You know the Germans and The French are just going to rake them over the coals about this, rightly or wrongly. You mean that you, the most powerful nation on earth, actually need allies to fight this "War on Terror" ? 'Bout time you owned up to it. Oh, and Rush Limbaugh, I hope that this means you will stop your pointless and retarded bashing of the U.N., seeing as THEY are bailing out YOUR boys.

-More on Iraq: Quagmire? Yeah, it is. And you could have avoided it. How could the U.S. have avoided it? By not being so blatant about it, by not forsaking your allies. And the line that the troops will help draw out "the evildoers" (You know, some of Bush's speeches read like they were written by Stan Lee) into fighting the U.S. there. Which means that those kids are acting as bait, which will be a big comfort to their families no doubt, because it just means the rich ones can come to the U.S. to cause trouble there. Yes, brilliant Strategy! Please Tell me that Stormin' Norman doesn't buy this.

-Ontario Elections: 'BOUT TIME. Let the slaughter begin! I've been waiting years to take a bite out of the Harris/Eves "Common Sense" machine which have demoralized and crushed our hospitals and schools, sold off nearly any part of the province worth keeping, all to provide for a tax cut or two. Thanks to that logic, I my tuition go from $2700 to $4000 in 4 years. Hey, but it's worth it because it means that Big Business can profit and return the savings to me in the new privatized energy like Ernie's got some explaining to do....

More later,


Tuesday, September 02, 2003


That is the name of my university Systems Design Engineering class. In keeping with my theme of heroes, I had to mention this pantheon I ran with for the last 5 years. Although I felt that I was a mere mortal treading in the realm of gods, I nevertheless was awed by the people I met and the moments I shared with them, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. While I can't fully elaborate on each and every person who had an impact, I will try my best to acknowledge those nearest and dearest to me.

-Peter: For being my friend through it all, and a guidepost on my journey to being a better person.

-Amy: For being on of the friendliest and brightest people I have ever met, and for being so unconditionally kind to a total stranger.

-Janna: For always being there for everyone, at any time, despite any worries you had.

-Raph: Zen Master, whom helped me to focus, no matter how weird things got.

-Josh: For being the wisest of wise men.

-Salim: A really funny guy who always knew when to throw a good line and be a good friend.

-Trevor: Being able to listen to me rant and laugh despite not knowing what the heck I was talking about was fun, wasn't it?

-Sara: The Globe-hopper, who was an inspiration for me to expand the horizons of my understanding

-Laura: A good advisor, and for always being able to talk openly

-Johnny C. and Meagan: For being two of the nicest, kindest being on God's green earth.

-Winky: never lose that smile, cool?

-Graham T.: For being one of the only people who could ever consistently surprise me.

-Emily: For being a friend despite the fact that you thought I should probably be commited :)

-Ian: The best of Good Samaritans.

Tim, Gord, Greg, Grant, Dave H and Dave C: Hanging with you was always cool, wish we could do it more often.

There are those who now ask: "What is Systems Design?" Well, to be honest, I never could make a good answer. But upon reading a passage from Thomas Homer-Dixon's The Ingenuity Gap, where he describes evolutionary biology and ecology, can be adapted to succintly define Systems Design engineering. I have taken the liberty of doing so as follows:

"Systems is a science of the integration of parts. It builds on the knowledge of specific components, but it is less interested in the properties of the individual parts than in what happens - what emergent properties can be identified- when these parts are combined into a whole system. This is more plurarlistic, more comfortable with and interested in gaps in knowledge, and more accepting of uncertainty and surprise. It is fundamentally interdisciplinary, in that it draws on many fields and many approaches - historical, comparitive, and experimental - to achieve understanding.."