Sunday, April 29, 2012

Try this on for size: I was wrong

A few weeks ago, I was in a discussion about pit bulls.  A friend of mine, who works for the county's animal control services, was bemoaning the fact that whenever there's a Pit bull attack, it always makes the news, but other kinds of animal attacks never do.

I got into the discussion and pointed out that while I believe the media certainly does prefer hype over facts, there were certain things about Pit bulls that one could not deny.  After all, if a Pit bull bites you versus a Golden Retriever, it's going to be much worse.  Why?  Because of the fact that Pit bulls have a more powerful bite than other breeds.

There was a slight problem though.  See, my "fact" about Pit bulls turned out to not be a "fact" at all.  I was quickly informed of my error.  (You can check out more Pit bull myths here.)

So how did I respond?  Well, I continued to insist that Pit bulls have a more powerful bite.  I even doubled-down and said that they could chew with their back teeth while holding on with their front.  Shoot, I even said that Pit bulls were the direct descendants of Velociraptors and that they were the breed of choice for Satan's guard dogs in Hell.  I mean, what was I supposed to do?  Admit that I was WRONG?

Actually, that's exactly what I did.  Not only that, but I did this crazy thing where I amended my opinion to fit the facts.  Crazy, isn't it?  What's worse is that I've done this before.  Even nuttier, I take it as a matter of personal pride that I'm willing to openly admit when I'm clearly wrong about a factual matter.  I also think it's a good quality to be able to change your opinions.

Unfortunately, not everybody is like this.  I've been in two different conversations lately where the other person was DEMONSTRABLY wrong, but in both cases, the person refused to back down.

I just don't get that mentality.  With the Pit bull thing, there probably are people out there who, when in my position, would continue to present that particular bit of info as a fact.  Some people just seem to have this odd habit of thinking that they need to believe the first thing they hear, and any information that comes later must automatically be wrong.  I'm sure that I was like that as a child.  I know that I would pretty much accept whatever my parents said was the truth - just as all children do - and when I heard something different, that other person was obviously crazy.

That's fine when you're twelve, but eventually you have to grow up and realize that not only could you be wrong about some things, but you probably ARE wrong about some things.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Comics Roundup for 4/25/12

The Secret Service #1 - This is the first issue of the new Mark Millar "Millarworld" series, with Dave Gibbons handling art.  Gotta say that I dug this one just as much as the other series that Mr. Millar has done.  This has easily been one of the most intriguing opening sequences for a comic that I've seen in a long time.  Did they need to get Mark Hamill's permission?

Super Crooks #2 - My only complain about Mark Millar's books?  I pretty much wind up saying the same thing about every issue that comes out.  Once again, we've got some interesting characters and an issue that adds enough story/raises the stakes so you want to come back for another.  I really feel like I can't go wrong with his stuff.

Star Wars:  Crimson Empire III #6 (of 6) - This was pretty good, but I wish that I had read the entire series in one sitting, as I kinda forgot who some of the characters were.  Anyway, since I recently re-read the first two miniseries leading up to this one, and found myself really enjoying them, I have no doubt that the same will eventually happen for this one.

Aquaman #8 - Another good issue, and not much to say other than that I like how Geoff Johns is weaving a complex mythology around the character that doesn't feel like he's just re-doing what he did for Green Lantern.

Wolverine #305 - This issue was entertaining enough, but I didn't like it enough to keep getting the series now that it has a new writer.  I think this last run of the title is the longest time in which I've ever gotten it.  Even though I really like the character, I just don't find myself buying his comic all that often - perhaps he just works better when he plays off of other characters.

Winter Soldier #4 - Somehow I missed this one when it first hit the stands.  I recently re-read the first three issues, and I was excited to get this one.  This is fun stuff, and a must-read for anybody who was on board for Brubaker's Winter Soldier stories over in Captain America.

The New Avengers #25 - We don't get a whole lot of the New Avengers in this issue, but we do get an expansion of the whole Iron Fist universe as it ties into the whole AvX thing that's going on.  Hopefully it will have a major impact on the main story over in Avengers Versus X-Men.

Batman:  The Dark Knight #8 - We have a new writer, and while this was okay, I think that I'll be dropping this one.  I'm sure that between Batman, Batman and Robin and the upcoming Batman:  Incorporated, I should be getting enough of a bat-fix to get me by.

Daredevil #11 - A satisfying conclusion to a pretty good crossover story.  Everybody loves this book - what else can I add to that?

The Twelve #12 - Oooh boy, now I gotta sit down and read this series!  Looking forward to it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Comics Roundup for 4/18/12

The Avengers #25 - This is an AvX tie-in?  Could have fooled me - with the exception of the last few pages.  Oh well, it was still a good issue.  Even better, Walt Simonson drew it, and the artwork is looking pretty darned good.  His work is as dynamic and expressive as ever.  I wasn't always a fan, but he's grown on me.

The Punisher #10 - I just picked this one up as it ties into Avenging Spider-Man and Daredevil.  I'm glad that I did though, as it was a pretty solid read.  I'm thinking that I might want to pick up the first trade paperback of this series when it comes out, even though I usually can't seem to get into Greg Rucka's writing.

Wolverine and the X-Men #9 - Now this one actually felt like more of a tie-in with AvX, and a good thing too, considering that Wolverine is easily one of the most pivotal characters in this whole storyline.  I'm still pretty iffy about Chris Bachalo's work.  It looks nice, but it's a bit hard to follow at times.  I liked it when his style was a bit more restrained.

Justice League #8 - This was a fairly fun issue, and even though I prefer the pre-New 52 look of Green Arrow, it was nice to see him get involved with the team in a way that didn't feel like a retread of something that I've read before.  The artwork was pretty good too, but I'm pretty excited that Jim Lee is going to be drawing some more issues.

Wonder Woman #8 - Another awesome issue.  Apparently a lot of fanboys on the interwebs are mad about some of the changes that Brian Azarello has brought to the character and her mythology.  Sure, he's doing some pretty radical stuff, but the heart of the character seems to be the same as far as I can tell, and what's more important, this series is one hell of a compelling read.  With a slight hiccup for a couple of issues, this is probably one of my favorite titles right now, and I never thought I'd say that about a Wonder Woman comic.

Batman #8 - Speaking of favorites, this one was pretty damned good as well.  I've probably said this before, but it's really cool to see what Greg Capullo can do while he's working with a talented writer.  Anyway, this issue is pretty much all-action, and while that can sometimes be wearisome, I found it to be a quick and engrossing read.  I'm digging this whole "Court of Owls" storyline, and I'm eager to see how it affects the other bat-books that I'm reading.

Avengers Versus X-Men #2 - Good stuff here.  The story moved forward nicely, and the stakes have been raised.  I'm eagerly awaiting the next issue.

The Amazing Spider-Man #684 - To think Spider-Man once beat The Sandman with a vacuum cleaner.  Anyway, this was, yet again, another fun read.  Also, it was cool to see Spidey defeat The Sandman in a way that we've never seen before - and a way that makes sense.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Comics Roundup for 4/11/12

Batwoman #8 - The art has definitely taken a dive, but since JH Williams III is coming back, and the story is still pretty decent, I'll stick around.  The best bits are the interactions between Batwoman and Chase, as it certainly creates an interesting dynamic.

Wolverine #304 - This was a decent sendoff for outgoing writer Jason Aaron.  I think I'll get the next issue at the very least to see how the new writer is doing, but otherwise I might have to stick with Wolverine and the X-Men for my Aaron/Wolverine fix.

Avenging Spider-Man #6 - We have guest writers this issue as it crosses over into Daredevil and Punisher. Considering that I get the former anyway, I might as well buy the one issue of the latter title so I can get the full story.  Honestly, it seems to be tying into DD's overall story more than anything, but that's fine with me.

Batgirl #8 - Another consistently good read with this one, and it's nice to see Barbara's psycho brother, James, come back into the picture.  Scott Snyder sure did some interesting stuff with him; let's hope that the new story won't feel too much like a retread.  (And honestly, he's probably a better villain for her than for Batman - there's definitely more at stake with this conflict.)

The New Avengers #24 - I guess we're just getting a bunch of crossover stuff with the Avengers titles until this Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover wraps up.  That's fine, as I'm enjoying this story so far, and this issue did a pretty good job of filling in some blanks from the main story.

Batman and Robin #8 - Not much to say other than that this was another fully enjoyable issue.  While I think that overall I might like Scott Snyder's Batman a bit better than this title, I have an easier time remembering what happened from issue to issue with this one.  (Perhaps it's because Snyder's story is so intricate.  Still, this reminds me of Chuck Dixon's writing when he was doing great stuff on Robin and Nightwing.)

Green Lantern #8 - Same problem here - another good issue in a series that's been providing me with some pretty solid entertainment for several years now.  Also, we get a bit more with the Indigo Lanterns, and that's been a long time coming.

Avengers Assemble #2 - This was definitely a more solid read than the debut issue, and it's pretty clear that a new reader could easily follow along with what's happening - which I think is what the point of it is since it just happens to have an Avengers lineup that corresponds with the one that's in the upcoming movie.

Lord of the Jungle #3 - I'm enjoying this far more than I thought I would, as I kinda figured I'd check out the first issue and then pretty much that would be the end of it.  I've never read the original Tarzan novels, but from what I understand this is an attempt to do something that's pretty true to the source material while removing some of the obvious Ethnocentrism/racism from the original story.  The artwork by Roberto Castro is serviceable.  There are some really great moments with his work, but there are some clunky pictures in there as well.  I have a feeling that he's a genuine talent who needs to hone his craft a little bit more.  By then, Marvel or DC will no doubt snatch him up.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Comics Roundup for 4/4/12

Wolverine and the X-Men #8 - For some reason, I thought that this would be the tie-in to Avengers Versus X-Men, but it wasn't.  Oh well.  This one saw the return of Sabertooth, and in this one he was giving grief to Beast instead of Wolverine.  I like Chris Bachalo's pencils for the most part, but sometimes his layouts can be a bit confusing.  I didn't exactly get how Beast finally beat Sabertooth.  I suppose I could if I felt like studying the panels, but you shouldn't have to do that.  Anyway, a decent issue, and I'm looking forward to next month's tie-in.

Daredevil #10.1 - A student of mine once pointed out that I didn't write a whole lot on his A paper.  I told him that's because when an essay is good, there's not much to say about it other than it was good.  That's kind of how I'm feeling with this series.  And if you're looking for more detailed praise, I'm sure you can find plenty of it online, as this title seems to be the critical darling lately.

Fatale #4 - I'm going to wait for a few more issues before I sit down to read this one.

Avengers Versus X-Men #1 - Am I the only fan who doesn't whine about "event fatigue"?  Sure, I'll criticize them when they're not done very well, but so long as I'm getting my money's worth, I'm good with them.  This was a pretty entertaining read, and even though it's just the beginning and didn't get too in-depth, it certainly set up enough interesting ideas to keep me reading.

The Amazing Spider-Man #683 - Spidey tries to be all Odysseus-like and plan five steps ahead.  It works a bit, but Doc Ock seems to be about seven steps ahead of that.  Anyway, much like with Daredevil, there just isn't much to say when I'm enjoying a series as much as this one.

Action Comics #8 - And...I'm done.  While the last issue seemed to be a bit more interesting, I have officially lost interest in this "New 52" title.  And to think that this was the one that I had the highest hopes for.  Oh well.  I guess part of it has to do with the fact that Geoff Johns did a far more interesting Braniac story just a few years ago.  Another part is that they can't seem to get Rags Morales to draw an entire issue himself, so the artwork is totally uneven.  Well, can't say I didn't give this one a proper chance.

Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volume 2 - I picked up the first volume in hardcover some time ago, and by the time I finally finished reading it, I was ready for the second one.  Well, guess what?  It was going for over a hundred bucks!  I figured that I'd just have to forget about it until I learned that they were going to do all four volumes in trade paperback, so that's why I picked up this one and plan to get the others.  Plus, the $30 price tag for the softcover is much easier on the wallet than the $50 tag on the hardcovers.  What can I say about Jack Kirby that hasn't already been said?  The guy was a mad genius.  Not all of his ideas are good, and not all of his stories are good.  In fact, sometimes his artwork is downright awkward looking.  But one thing it absolutely NEVER is, is boring.  The guy threw every idea he had down on to the page, and most of them were winners.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My testimony

This post has been a long time coming.  When I started my blog, I often found myself writing about the topic of religion.  I would probably write about it at least a few times a month.  Over the past year, I haven't written nearly as much, as I felt like pretty much anything that I could say would just be me repeating myself.

Well, it's funny how things work out sometimes, isn't it?  After a long struggle over my faith that lasted several years, followed by a long period of atheism, I finally felt as though I had ran through the arguments so thoroughly that I was pretty settled into who I was.  The "God" part of my brain was completely switched off.  I no longer had the occasional nagging thought of "Well, maybe..."

But God is funny that way.  That's right.  I said it.  God is funny that way.  Just when we think we have things all figured out, He goes and surprises us.  It happened to me just recently while teaching my freshmen about the rise of Stalin (in conjunction with teaching Animal Farm, as I'm not a history teacher).  We were watching a documentary on his rise to power, and it started with some back story about the Russian Revolution.  In it, there was a bit of discussion of how the Communists dismantled the Russian Orthodox Church.  Later on, the documentary showed how the worship of Joseph Stalin had replaced the traditional church.  Stalin had, in effect, become a god.  Why?  Because that's what happens when you take religion away, you have to replace it with something.

And this is what happened to me.  I replaced god in my life and had to replace it with something.  No, no, I didn't replace it with Joseph Stalin, I replaced it with myself.  I became my own god.  Instead of looking to a divine source for inspiration and guidance, I had to look toward me.  Ultimately, just as Stalinism has been wiped out, my system was doomed to fail as well.

I could only do so much for myself.  After all, I'm not perfect.  I suppose that I always realized that, but I was just unwilling - probably due to an excessive amount of pride on my part - to admit what the reason for that was.  No doubt this is why I had to seek a therapist a few years ago.  No doubt this is why I sometimes feel overwhelmed by what life throws at me.  No doubt this is also why I would always have to have a beer with dinner.

All of this hit me several days ago, but I had to wait specifically for today for me to finally write it down.  I'm not entirely sure what the next step is for me.  Obviously, I'm going to have to do a lot of "mea culpas".  I am almost tempted to erase all of my posts on atheism, and I was just about to before God went and intervened again by planting a thought in my head:  "I should use those old posts!"

See, this is all a part of what God wanted from me from the very start.  I now see that even my atheism was part of His divine will.  Who better than a former atheist - and a rather outspoken one at that - to help spread the Gospel to the nonbelievers?  If anybody knows what they're going through, it's me.  If anybody understand the arguments, it's me.  God, I think that I am ready.

Oh, and I'm also starting to think that this whole Astrology thing is perfectly sensible.

Happy April Fool's Day, everybody.

Comics Roundup for 3/28/12

Avengers Vs. X-Men #0 - I've been thinking about this crossover lately, and I'm thinking that it's a pretty good idea for one - even though it seems a little too obvious.  Basically, this is something that has potentially been a long time coming, and there certainly is potential for some interesting internal conflicts among the various characters - at least just as much as there was with Civil War.  Anyway, this non-issue for the series was a pretty good read, and I'm hoping that the main series will follow up on the ideas presented in this issue.

Batman:  The Dark Knight #7 - While an entertaining read, this was a bit of a waste of the use of Bane.  He's the type of character who should not just simply be defeated in a bout of fisticuffs.  Also, it's lame to have to tell the reader that Bane is a genius.  Let's see him do some genius stuff, eh?

Daredevil #10 - Not much to say about this other than it's another solid installment of a great series.

Aquaman #7 - Looks like Geoff Johns is creating as rich of a mythology for Aquaman as he did for Green Lantern.  Makes sense considering you have a guy who's the ruler of an underwater kingdom but also has spent much of his life on the surface.

The Twelve #11 - One more issue and I'll actually sit down to read this series in its entirety.

The Avengers #24.1 - The Vision has been back for a while now, but it's good to see this special issue devoted to him dealing with his return.  I must admit that I now believe that an android can cry.

Avenging Spider-Man #5 - I really wish that I didn't like every issue of this series so much, as I'd love to dismiss it as nothing more than shelf-filler.  However, I was entertained yet again with this team-up with Spider-Man and Captain America.

The New Avengers #23 - I don't know much about Skaar, son of the Hulk, but he seems like a pretty redundant character to me.  With that said, I still enjoyed this issue, as everybody loves a good double-cross.

Rachel Rising - Volume 1 - I passed up the first issue of Terry Moore's new series, as I figured it would probably read better in collected volumes.  Well, I can't really compare the two, but this is one hell of a first volume for an ongoing series.  Terry Moore's first series was a drama that dabbled in the crime genre.  The last one was science fiction.  This one's horror.  While it doesn't feel like a retread of other stuff I've read or seen, it certainly does one thing right - leave me with some unsettling images.