May 26, 2006
May 19, 2006
Back in the early days the origin was something that wasnt dwelled upon, yet it fascinated the readers and as such it was visited and re-visited and twisted and changed etc.
The Ultimate Fantastic Four is the retelling set in the here and now and the Origin takes the first six issues. Forget what you though you knew about these characters. Reed Richards is still a genius of the Nth degree, but now we see him from birth being a misfit and dismissed by his Alpha Male father with his mother trying to understand. He has a friend and protector, Ben Grimm. Reed has already came across other dimensions and how to access them way before the governments cutting edge scientific community. His Science Fair project gets him into a think tank for gifted kids at the Baxter Building. This is run by Professor Storm, Susan Storm and her Brother Johnny's father. Susan is a prodigy herself and well Johnny is there cuz his dad and sister are...
Reed teams up with Victor Van Dame to build a working teleportation device. The big test takes place in the desert and Ben Grimm shows up by invite to see where his pal has been doing.
The test goes Awry and the five of them are transported to various parts of the Globe with 'changes' to them. Reed is pliable, Sue is invisible, Johnny can burst into flames and Ben is now a huge rock creature.
The real beauty of this book is the characters and thier relationships. You know why Ben and Reed are friends, you 'get' the relationship between Reed and Sue and between Ben and Johnny. This book really breathes life into them and builds a great relationship that makes you want to read more about these people.
I have gotten the trade paper backs 1 and 2. I hope to get caught up as time moves on. This, to me, is much better then buying the books. For all the great stuff about the Ultimates, I find the story evolves a bit slowly. The Trades help two ways. One you get the whole story arc then and there. Second, you save cash. Comics cost $2.99 each so, almost $18.00 bought separatly. The Ultimate trade books list for $ 12.99 and amazon.com has them for $10.00.
Ultimate FF. Great Read!
May 17, 2006
May 16, 2006
Marvel Comics has been undergoing a change in the last two years. Which is a good thing, the status quo makes for boring comics. Brian Michael Bendis (or BENDIS! to his fans) Has been leading the charge. I have no idea what deal this Orgonian made but following his lead Marvel has taken apart and put back together, The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, The mutant population and Thor (who hasnt come back yet).
He pulled The Sentry out of mothballs and breathed some new life into Spider Woman. Not to say he did it alone. Mark Millars contribution is Civil war!
With Mutants no longer a big threat (persons of mass destruction) the government is going after Heroes with a registration act. This is turning hero against hero. Iron Man is the front runner for registration. Captain America is against it. Heroes are going to be taking sides and its going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
The first issue deals with the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Some young heroes working on some reality TV show cause the deaths of a good city blocks worth of innocent folks including a school (to really jerk the hart strings). The Government feels that if these Heroes had been registered and trained this would have been avoided and as such they are moving forward. S.H.I.E.L.D. confronts Cap asking him to round up the 'bad-guy' heroes who wont register after the bill passes. Cap declines and has to fight he way off the Heli-carrier (if you dont know what that is, no point in explaining, the comic gives you a good view of it).
Its the start of some big doings at Marvel just as DC finished off its current Crisis.
Good reading, fun and well thought out. Good stuff!
May 15, 2006
How About Some Good News?
Progress in Iraq.
By Bill Crawford
I had hoped this Iraq-progress round-up would include news about the formation of a new government today, but infighting has stalled the process. Still there is lots of other good news to report from Iraq, and even signs that some in the media are taking notice: The article linked to says “Statistics cited come from a report in National Review.”
In a move to help quell sectarian violence, seven Sunnis were rescued from Shia militiamen by U.S. and Iraqi forces Thursday. U.S. and Iraqi forces arrived in a village where the kidnappings were under way after receiving a tip from village leaders. After a brief gunfight with the militia, the hostages were rescued. Five of the kidnappers were wounded and 36 taken into custody.
A newspaper affiliated with a Kurdish political party claimed that 1,577 Iranians had been captured in the last month crossing the border into Iraq. Also this week, a top Sunni political leader accused Iran of sending intelligence agents into Iraq and of setting up operations centers in Iraqi towns.
Iraq is planning on reorganizing its security forces in Baghdad. The plan includes consolidating police and army forces under one command, and one uniform. In addition, the plan calls for a significant reduction in the number of American troops in the capital city.
ONE FINE (ARTS) DAY
In Baghdad, a private art gallery drew a small crowd to an art exhibit. One artist commented that artists have more freedom now than under Saddam:
The young artists at the Cultural Attitudes Society art gallery in central Baghdad say they are more free to express themselves now that Saddam is gone.
FOR THE CHILDREN
Students of Watertown High School in Wisconsin recently collected backpacks filled with school supplies to send to Iraq. The success of “Operation Backpack” surprised even its organizers:
We picked up 80 backpacks from the Educational Service Center that were donated to the school district by the Watertown Kiwanis Club,” Mark McFarland, student council president, said. “
Eight large boxes were filled with the items from the backpacks. Those boxes will be shipped over to Iraq along with the backpacks.
The children of Sadr City are now going to school in new classrooms thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers:
Among the schools getting makeovers was the Mustafa School, which serves 930 high school students in the morning and 430 elementary students in the afternoon.
The $290,000 project included 300 new interior lights, 55 ceiling fans, 11 window air conditioners, 300 square meters of new concrete playground surface, remodeling of restrooms, roof repair, raising the perimeter security wall one meter, repairing all broken glass and installing a steel mesh to protect all exterior windows, painting all interior and exterior walls, and supplying a new 80kva generator.
“It’s one of 13 public-school renovations in East Baghdad that we oversaw in the last year,” said Jeremy Way, project engineer with Gulf Region Central District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The head of Iraq’s central bank said this week the country was making progress in reforming the banking system:
He also said Iraq was on track in its financial reforms, including transformation of the banking system "from one depending on cash to a system depending on credit."
"By the end of the year God willing, our banks will have a developed payment system to carry out their settlements fast through accounts at the central banks," he said.
"Other reforms we are working on include improving the banks' managements and developing the technology they use to carry out transactions," he said. "We cannot say everything is perfect, but we are moving forward."
He also said Iraq’s foreign reserves now stand at $10 billion.
The Iraqi-American chamber of commerce will be holding its second trade show in Iraq in September.
Iraq’s oil minister announced that the country will be building three new oil refineries at a cost of $6 billion. When completed, the three facilities will be capable of pumping up to 900,000 barrels a day.
The American chamber of commerce third “Rebuild Iraq” conference ended this week on a high note for residents of Fallujah:
"Fallujah is a secure city and returning to a normal life and its soil is ready for investment". Delegates also heard from speakers of the huge resources available for utilization including 40,000 skilled and currently unemployed people in Fallujah and highlighted the many products that could be sold across Iraq and internationally including ceramics, stone and even a budding tourism sector.
Renovations to the Al-Musharra fire station are complete. The $110,000 project will benefit 750,000 Iraqis:
Located near the Tigris River, the structure was weakened by the high ground water table. Crumbling walls and floors, a polluted water storage tank and decayed roof tiles were just a few of the reconstruction problems. New joists and wall supports, roof tiles and floor tiles were installed to bring vitality back to the building. New electrical, water, sewage and air conditioning systems were installed and a sleeping quarters, kitchen area and general use room were built to accommodate the nine fireman stationed there.
Thanks to Iraqi production, OPEC’s oil output topped 30 million barrels per day for the first time since November:
The biggest single increase came from Iraq, which saw volumes rise from 1.82 million b/d in March to 2.01 million b/d in April, thanks to a big boost in exports from the south, which had been constrained by a combination of weather problems, power outages and sabotage.
U.S. and Iraqi troops uncovered a massive weapons cache near Baghdad on Wednesday. The cache was largely made up of materials used to make IEDs:
…searched a house in New Baghdad and discovered 142 land mines, 58 blocks of C4 explosives, approximately 8,000 feet of detonation cord, 107 fuses, 22 rocket-propelled grenades, a launcher, 59 mortars, 40 pounds of mortar propellant, four shape charges, 43 blasting caps, explosive-formed projectile materials, two gas masks, six two-way radios, multiple mortar launching tubes, maps of Baghdad and Iraq, and anti-Iraqi force literature.
The story continues:
The discovery of weapons caches, often a result of a local's tip to Iraqi or American forces, occur nearly every day in Iraq, but the May 10 discovery was particularly large.
In a press conference this week, Major General Lynch noted that tips from Iraqis have increased significantly this year. During the first eleven days of May, Iraqis had phoned in more than 1,500 phone calls. Lynch said that 98 percent of the tips contain usable intelligence. The tips have been especially useful in the fight against al Qaeda and IEDs:
Improved intelligence and increasingly capable Iraqi security forces also led to the capture or killing of more than 161 senior leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, as well as a marked decrease in effective improvised bombs. More than 50 percent of the bombs now are found and defused before they can kill, he said.
Major Lynch also made a rather interesting statement, and I couldn’t agree more:
"People want to talk about what the enemy did. But they don't talk about what the enemy couldn't do," Lynch said. "And there is a lot he couldn't do because of that increased presence."
ON THEIR OWN
The Iraqi army is now conducting independent operations in Diyala Province:
Iraqi army Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division are independently conducting operations in their area of Diyala Province. They are performing tasks such as gathering their own intelligence, to patrolling their streets and hunting suspected anti-Iraqi forces.
Independent operations are also being conducted by the Iraqi army in Mosul. Three terrorists on the Iraqi army’s most-wanted list were captured during the operation planned and executed solely by Iraqis:
The Iraqi brigade demonstrated their military planning skills by formulating the mission, issuing appropriate orders to its subordinate units, and overwatching the conduct of the operation.
SAME BAD TRICKS
Terrorists are still using mosques to plan attacks against Coalition forces. In Baghdad, an IED exploded in the basement of a mosque, killing one terrorist, and wounding two others.
A tip from an Iraqi led U.S. troops to a weapons cache, and to the capture of two members of an IED-making terrorist cell.
U.S. and Iraqi forces captured an al Qaeda-cell leader in Adhamiyah. The captured terrorist immediately sang like a canary and seven more terrorists were promptly rounded up.
U.S. soldiers uncovered IED making equipment thanks to a tip from an Iraqi citizen. The cached included an IED ready to go:
The cache included an IED ready for placement, nine anti-tank mines, eight hand grenades, various other weapons and IED making equipment, as well as an improvised rocket launcher.
Three men on the Iraqi army’s most-wanted list were captured during an operation in Mosul. The operation was planned and led by Iraqis.
Two terrorists were killed when they fired on Iraqi police in Tikrit. A search of the building they were in led to the discovery of a tunnel and weapons cache:
The Soldiers uncovered a false wall that led to a tunnel system and another hidden door that opened into a room used as clandestine sleeping quarters.
The “Ready First” Soldiers discovered a variety of weapons and munitions scattered about the tunnel and underground room. A Katusha rocket, 10 rifle grenades, four mortar rounds, three IEDs and two mortar tubes were seized.
Helicopters from the 101st Airbrone Division fired on two terrorist placing an IED during a nighttime patrol, killing one and wounding the other.
In Julaybah, a terrorist compound was destroyed by Coalition forces:
After killing three terrorists and detaining four others, the troops conducted a thorough search of the area. They found six affiliated vehicles, three of which were loaded with various weapons and explosives to include rifles, mortars and improvised explosive device material. The troops also uncovered numerous weapons caches with AK-47's, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds and IED material.
Five safe houses, six cars, and all lethal material were destroyed on target. No civilians were injured or harmed during the assault or resulting firefight.
Centcom released captured al Qaeda documents this week in which it is clear the terrorist group is having a tough time in Iraq. An excerpt particularly relevant here:
The actions of the Iraqi Security Forces are having a significant negative impact on the Mujahideen’s ability to operate in Baghdad. Al Qaida in Iraq attacks Mosques and other public places to draw media attention and is having difficulty recruiting members because the people of Iraq do not support its cause.
Great news, but here is how the Reuters’ story on the documents began:
A purported al Qaeda document published by the U.S. military may or may not be authentic but its message that the Sunni Islamist guerrillas face problems in Iraq could reflect reality, security experts said on Tuesday.
Fake but accurate, now where have I heard that before?
In Al Furat, a mostly Sunni area of Anbar, men said they were volunteering for the Iraqi army because they are tired of the insurgency:
One 30-year-old Iraqi man accepted for enlistment said his younger brother had his left leg amputated after infection set in from a gunshot wound from insurgents. He’s hoping his enlistment in the Army is the beginning of the end of the insurgency in Al Anbar Province, he said.
“He told me, my brother – ‘save our country,’” said the man through an interpreter. “’Don’t let another guy end up like me.’ I just do this for him.”
JUST THE FACTS
And in case you missed it, here are some highlights from the latest Brookings’s Iraq Index:
Per Capita GDP (USD) for 2005 is forecast to increase from the previous year to $1,051. In 2002 it was $802.
Increases in GDP for the next five years: 16.8, 13.6, 12.5, 7.8, and 7.2.
Actionable tips from Iraqis have increased every month this year. In January, 4,025 tips were received; February, 4,235; and March, 4,578.
On an index of political freedom for countries in the Middle East, Iraq now ranks fourth, just below Israel, Lebanon, and Morocco.
Crude oil production reached 2.14 million barrels a day (MBD) in April of this year. It had dropped to 0.3 MBD in May of 2003.
Revenues from oil export have only slightly increased from prewar levels of $0.2 billion, to $0.62 billion in April.
Electrical output is almost at the pre-war level of 3,958 megawatts. April's production was 3,600 megawatts. In May of 2003, production was only 500 megawatts. The goal is to reach 6,000 megawatts, and was originally expected to be met in 2004.
The unemployment rate in June of 2003 was 50-60 percent, and in April of this year it had dropped to 25-40 percent.
The number of U.S. military wounded has declined significantly from a high of 1,397 in November 2004 to 430 in April of this year.
Iraqi military casualties were 201 in April of 2006, after peaking at 304 in July of 2005.
As of December 2005, countries other than the U.S., plus the World Bank and IMF, have pledged almost $14 billion in reconstruction aid to Iraq.
Significant progress has also been made towards the rule of law. In May 2003 there were no trained judges, but as of October 2005 there were 351.
As of January 2006, 64 percent of Iraqis polled said that the country was headed in the right direction.
Also as of January 2006, 77 percent said that removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.
In May of 2003, Iraqi security forces were estimated at between 7,000-9,000. They numbered 250,500 in March of this year.
The breakdown of foreign terrorists by country of origin is interesting. The largest number come from Algeria, at 20 percent. The next two countries are Syria and Yemen, at 18 percent and 17 percetn, respectively.
The number of foreign terrorists fighting in Iraq was estimated at between 300 and 500 in January 2004. That number increased in April of this year, to between 700 and 2,000.
From May 2003 and April 2006, between 1,000 and 3,000 anti-Iraqi forces have been killed each month.
— Bill Crawford lives in San Antonio, Tex.
May 14, 2006
Julia Ward Howe'a idea was influenced by Anna Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
Jarvis' daughter, also named Anna Jarvis, would, of course, have known of her mother's work, and the work of Howe. Much later, when her mother died, this second Anna Jarvis started her own crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Anna Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Grafton is the home to the International Mother's Day Shrine. From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by somes states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day. Nine years after the first official Mother's Day holiday, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. holidays.
To us Mothers day is about Mom having a nice relaxing day after we pound the concept through our kids skulls.
May 10, 2006
May 07, 2006
I'm a DSL user and I got a modem that was a wireless router combined. This was fine for the last couple of years. However I found the wireless modem has a range of about 30 feet and it will not reach the far end of the house. Further my daughter has a computer now and I was hoping on putting her on the net in a controlable fashion (USB adapter). Same for my son who has had one of my old hand me down computers for quite a while. We also have a TiVo that I am lead to understand is great to have wireless, not to mention the X-box.... Anyway....
The current situation just wouldnt work. So I staked out a router and adapter that would fill the bill. Netgear has the RangeMax series that is awesome in range and power. I waited until the right combination of Free shipping, discounts+coupons and my employee discount at Dell and made the purchase. I bought a PCI USB card for my daughters puter as well and the Matching rangemax USB adapter. This ended up costing me around $150.00.
The next step was to disable the wireless network that was there. So I logged into the modem and shut off the wireless and went through the endless stream of settings turning off the items I thought were not needed. Unfortunatly the DHCP in the router as well (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). My thought was the hub would handle this duty. I was 1/2 right.
Suddenly I could no longer access the web nor the router page as it dumped my IP address like so much refuse. Okay, now how to turn that back on without being able to access the router? There are no DHCP on switches so I was forced to call my ISP. As more frequently, when it comes to support, I was greeted by a rather heavy Indian accent which required a little adaptation before I could clearly understand him. In this respect the mind is amazingly adaptive. I found out two things right away. One, they are not used to anyone who has a clue calling in (I happen to have multiple clues). Two they cannot remote access a modem and turn on the DHCP.
To his creadit he recognized my 733+ (Leet or Elite) skills about 1/2 through our discussion. I do admit to getting frustraited at him NOT beliving that I already know my way around IP address and pings and whatnot. We did a modem reset and that solved the problem. Next I follow the amazingly simple instructions for setting up the wirless router (which technically is a wireless Routing Switch, but I digress). This was a far cry from the mess the old Cisco managed hubs I used to set up.
I followed the steps and got everything set up on my computer (Tina and mine will be hardwired into the hub) I log into the router and I am greeted with a request to update the firmware. So I select yes (It really did'nt seem like a BAD choice). Firmware is the software that lives inside of a device and allows it to function. Sometime that firmware has not taken into account some item or process and needs to be updated. Such was the case for Tina's DVD burner. It would not recognize DVD blank media until I updated the firmware.
Well the firmware update went wierd and then I couldnt connect to anything at all. My thought was that the Firmware download had glitched and my router was now a box of plastic. So now back to phone support and Bangalore! Either this tech spoke clearer english or my mind had retained the adaptative enzyme. We went through a series of tests to determine if I was an idiot or not. Thankfully, the tech was stumped. He put me on hold, went home had a shower, made love to the wife, ate a nice meal and came back... We reset the router and hooked it up to my laptop and went through the settings.
This made me wonder about the status of my computer and exactly what was going on with it. The tech kept assuring me that once I plugged the cable in I would be fine. I made him stay on the phone with me and low and behold, he was right. Tina and my machines were working fine.
Next up, sharing printer and documents. This was made difficult by Peter Norton. Good Ole Pete has been around since computers first lost data. He figured out that instead of erasing files the OS (operating system) only made it so the file was renamed something that the OS would be unable to view and could overwrite if space was needed. His Norton Utility package was usually purchased by a desperate business man who had deleted something that would cost him his Job should the Boss find out. Time passes and Pete sells his ideas to Symantec who needed his code and they went into the, BUY US OR YOU'LL BE SORRY, software business. Saving the world from Viruses, erasures, worms, spyware, and internet attacks.
Well, I have Symantec Security products (purchased for a sizable discount through work) and while I am not 100% happy with the amount of invasiveness into my computer I am well pleased at its ability to stop nastys from getting inside my computer.
Well somehow Pete thought that anyone on my network was out to get me and wouldnt allow anyone to share my printer or shared folders. This took a bit of looking around to find but finally I overcame that hurdle. Diana's computer hookup was easy once I figured out the difference between a Key and passphrase (this was my stupid moment of the day).
Now her windows will not register as the PID doesnt match something else. I'm going to call into Microsoft to see if I can sort this out without re-installing everything. Fun fun fun!
Oh, the laptop hooks up with easy alarming speed!
May 04, 2006
[ heavy music starts to play ]
"What I Believe."
I believe in rainbows and puppy dogs and fairy tales.And I believe in the family - Mom and Dad and Grandma.. and Uncle Tom, who waves his penis.
And I believe 8 of the 10 Commandments.
And I believe in going to church every Sunday, unless there's a game on.
And I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, wholesome and natural things.. that money can buy.
And I believe it's derogatory to refer to a woman's breasts as "boobs", "jugs", "winnebagos" or "golden bozos".. and that you should only refer to them as "hooters".
And I believe you should put a woman on a pedestal.. high enough so you can look up her dress.
And I believe in equality, equality for everyone.. no matter how stupid they are, or how much better I am than they are.
And, people say I'm crazy for believing this, but I believe that robots are stealing my luggage.
And I believe I made a mistake when I bought a 30-story 1-bedroom apartment.
And I believe the Battle of the Network Stars should be fought with guns.
And I believe that Ronald Reagan can make this country what it once was - an arctic region covered with ice.
And, lastly, I believe that of all the evils on this earth, there is nothing worse than the music you're listening to right now. That's what I believe.
May 01, 2006
Every Sunday and Tuesday nite we have been meeting in Paragon City (Pinnacle Server) and playing a team of characters.
This continues to be a blast. Because of the company. We continually go into situations that would be nigh impossible versus the levels and number of bad guys and we kick some booty.
The nice thing about thinking in the group dynamic is you can build your character for the group. For instance, taking a travel power at lvl 14 isnt needed as someone with Travel power and recall friend can take on that duty.
I'm glad Joe has joined in, just need everyone else :) (need a controller)