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Truth leaks out about inflation, market weeps openly

Forbes | Inflation Shocker Smacks Down Stocks
Wall Street was pointing to a higher open early Thursday morning, but then data on consumer prices and weekly jobless claims hit the wires, and the market limped into its first hour of trade. The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index came in at 0.8% for July, almost double the 0.4% estimate from analysts, and was up 5.6% on a year-over-year basis, compared with 5.0% in June. Excluding food and energy prices, the figure also ran hotter than expected, at 0.3%. Investors reacted immediately to the news, sending stocks to an early loss.

Bush administration too lazy or dumb to fix DNS?

'Cause, like, it's only the Web, see, no big deal. Chill, brah! Wired | Experts Accuse Bush Administration of Foot-Dragging on DNS Security HoleM
Despite a recent high-profile vulnerability that showed the net could be hacked in minutes, the domain name system -- a key internet infrastructure -- continues to suffer from a serious security weakness, thanks to bureaucratic inertia at the U.S. government agency in charge, security experts say. Kaminsky quietly worked with large tech companies to build patches for the net's name servers to make the attack more difficult. But security experts, and even the NTIA, say those patches are just temporary fixes; the only known complete fix is DNSSEC -- a set of security extensions for name servers. But because DNS servers work in a giant hierarchy, deploying DNSSEC successfully also requires having someone trustworthy sign the so-called "root file" with a public-private key. Otherwise, an attacker can undermine the entire system at the root level, like cutting down a tree at the trunk. That's where the politics comes in. The DNS root is controlled by the Commerce Department's NTIA, which thus far has refused to implement DNSSEC. "A few years ago, there were still technical hurdles to actually signing and using DNSSEC, but in the past few years, a lot of software tools, both commercial and open-source, have come out, and now it's a completely solved problem," Woodcock said. "All that's left is the far less tractable, purely political problem." "Arguing over who gets to hold the cryptographic keys in the long run [should] wait until we're not facing a critical threat," Woodcock said.

Beaucoup Kevin invites fanboy comics retailers to STFU

Again, thanks Dirk, for the heavy lifting. BeaucoupKevin(dot)com | Comics Retailers In “Unable To Stop Being Fanboys” Shocker!
So, somehow I got the mailing list of a retailer who’s based in the same general area as myself. ...Here’s the review of this week’s Astonishing X-Men:
I just don’t believe Ellis has a handle on these characters.... Throughout the issue, everyone seems to feel the need to explain how their powers are going to work, as if this were a brand new team book. ... Also, we had to be told three times that Wolverine is heavy. Why all this extra explanatory dialogue? Let’s move on to the art. Bianchi’s line work is really good. The ink washes are very stylish and the coloring reflects that. The problem is, the art isn’t serving to tell a story. ... This new version of Astonishing doesn’t measure up to the preceding team. Not buy.
Not buy. A retailer, in his newsletter to customers, is telling people to not buy a comic book before it hits stands. He’s telling them in advance that he doesn’t think they should spend their money at his shop, on this comic. This is the stupidest goddamn thing I’ve seen lately from an industry plagued with stupid goddamn things. I don’t want my bartender telling me that I’m drinking the wrong damn thing; I don’t want the clerk at the record store giving me shit because I’m buying some motherfucking Yanni; and I don’t want the guy who’s selling me my weekly comics fix to tell me to not buy a fucking X-Men comic. Also negatively reviewed: Trinity. You know, the weekly comic series that pretty much means $150 per customer over the course of a year to a shop who sells it?

August 13, 2008

Are monthly comics on their way out of the market?

tubby.jpgDirk Deppy at Journalista! says "No." miramichileader.com | Are monthly comics on their way out of the market?
But there is a growing belief among fans and industry types that the good old fashioned comic book — which in recent years has come to be called a “floppy” — is on its way out of the market to be replaced by the graphic novel.... When I began to seriously read comics in the 1980s, the Canadian cover price was just 75 cents and the U.S. price was just 60 cents. That’s pretty cheap. Contrast that with today’s prices. The recently published Superman No. 678 carries a cover price of $2.99. And that’s a cheap title. Do the math and you’ll see that 20 comics in 1983 would set you back $15. Today those same 20 titles are going to cost $59.80 — before taxes.... In fact most monthly comics today are written in convenient four- or six-issue arcs, which make it easier to collect as a single published edition with the original issues serving as chapters.... So what does it all mean? Eventually I think we will see floppies go by the wayside. There are simply too many factors working against it to make it viable in the long run. But we will lose something which I will talk about next week.

Noah Berlatsky's commentary on criticism

via | The Hooded Utilitarian | Critics vs. Creators
“The point of criticism really isn’t to help the artist out — at least not in the sense of telling the artist what it is he or she should do or change. A finished piece is a finished piece. You say it’s good or you say it sucks, or you say it’s somewhere in between, but that assessment is aimed at the work’s (potential) audience, not at the artist.”... I think it's also worth pointing out that, while as an artist you may not want to listen to "critics", you tend to want to listen to *somebody*. The splendid isolation meme is probably satisfying in a Ayn Rand kind of way, but the truth is that virtually all artists want some kind of audience. Art is about communication, and that communication isn't just one way....

Why MPG is a Stupid Measurement

EcoGeek | Why MPG is a Stupid Measurement | Written by Hank Green
...measuring vehicle efficiency in miles per gallon is about as effective a city's population density in square miles per person. The reason is simple. What we want to know is how many gallons we'll save. But what we're getting is how many miles we can go. This might seem like a small difference, but displaying miles per gallon in gallons per mile immediately shows some huge flaws in our current system 15 mpg = 660 gallons per 10,000 miles 20 mpg = 500 gallons per 10,000 miles 30 mpg = 330 gallons per 10,000 miles 45 mpg = 220 gallons per 10,000 miles 60 mpg = 160 gallons per 10,000 miles Now, obviously, the most fuel efficient car here is still the 60 mpg car. And that's fantastic. But increasing the mileage of a 15 mpg car to 20 mpg, saves as much gasoline (and carbon) as doubling the mileage of a 30 mpg car to 60 mpg.

Rape: The victim's fault

guardian.co.uk | Rape victims told alcohol consumption may cost them compensation
Rape victims seeking compensation are having their payouts reduced if they had been drinking before they were attacked. Campaigners called on the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) to end the application to rape victims of a clause that says awards in all types of cases can be cut if consumption of alcohol "contributed to the circumstances that gave rise to the injury". In the past year 14 rape victims - 1% of rape-related applications - were told they would get less money because of alcohol consumption, the CICA confirmed. One woman, who believes she was raped after having her drink spiked, told the Guardian it "felt like a slap in the face" when she read that the standard award of £11,000 would be reduced by 25% in her case, to £8,250.
On the other hand, at least there is some kind of help for victims in the UK.

$1 Detroit house fails to sell for 18 days

detnews.com | Foreclosure fallout: Houses go for a $1
DETROIT -- One dollar can get you a large soda at McDonald's, a used VHS movie at 7-Eleven or a house in Detroit. The fact that a home on the city's east side was listed for $1 recently shows how depressed the real estate market has become in one of America's poorest big cities. And it still took 19 days to find a buyer. ... The home, at 8111 Traverse Street, a few blocks from Detroit City Airport, was the nicest house on the block when it sold for $65,000 in November 2006, said neighbor Carl Upshaw. But the home was foreclosed last summer, and it wasn't long until "the vultures closed in," Upshaw said. "The siding was the first to go. Then they took the fence. Then they broke in and took everything else." The company hired to manage the home and sell it, the Bearing Group, boarded up the home only to find the boards stolen and used to board up another abandoned home nearby.

Washington D.C. piles kids' summer jobs money in the street and lights it on fire

WaPo | D.C. Jobs Agency Director Resigns
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty forced the resignation yesterday of a top aide in charge of the city's troubled summer youth jobs program, saying the administration accepts "full responsibility" for the widespread problems that led to a $31 million cost overrun.... The move came as the mayor released results of an internal investigation that found that the city was paying thousands of students who did not report to work, were fired or were ineligible. About 200 participants do not live in the city, and 104 are not within the 14- to 21-year-old age guidelines, including a few who are older than 50, the report says.

California can't math

Schwarzenegger sues controller to force pay cuts
Lawmakers are divided over how to close a $15.2 billion deficit.
mercurynews.com | Algebra mandate will cost California $3.1 billion, education chief says
California's schools chief warned Tuesday that the state would need to spend an additional $3.1 billion to meet a new mandate that all eighth-graders take algebra by 2011.