Why is No One Talking about How Diverse Gotham Academy Is?

Originally posted on thenerdsofcolor:

I’ve been excited for Gotham Academy since the book was first announced back in July. While the revamped Batgirl got most of the mainstream media attention, my sights were set on what I thought was the most interesting and out-of-the-box books in all of DC Comics. Now that it’s out, I can confidently say that I am all in on Gotham Academy!

In just 22 pages, Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher have accomplished what the rest of the DC brain trust have not been able to do since the company rebooted in 2011; namely, make the DC Universe an interesting and relevant place to visit every week. It helps that Karl Kerschl’s art is gorgeous and 180 degrees from the “house style” the publisher has employed post-New 52.

The best thing about the book, though, is — interestingly — the one thing that hasn’t really been covered in all…

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Taking the Battle to the Trolls; Rhetorically, of Course

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Logical or Rhetological Fallacies

With Internet troll-dom at an all-time high, with bloggers being paid to dishonestly haunt comments areas of well-trafficked websites to undermine and dispute perspectives they are paid to torpedo, it has become incumbent upon decent citizens of the Internet to be able to fight back using reason and logical thought. But what if you discover a perspective you do not understand or an argument which posits an idea you cannot mentally parse?

Odds are, it may contain logical fallacies which make the point without actually explaining how it got there. Logical fallacies undermine arguments by using a form of rhetorical shorthand which, to the unaware, seem to make logical assertions without the intervening logical steps being shown. Kind of like when you were a kid and your teacher would ask you to “show your work” on the math assignment you were given. Rhetorical fallacies skip over the work, by slight of hand, and leave you to present your case to the person while trying to handle their cognitively dissonant statements in your own head.

Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.

I arm you with this chart because of its beautiful simplicity, providing the name of the fallacy, what it means and a simple example of the fallacy. The types of fallacies are broken into sections: Appeal to the Mind, Appeal to Emotions, Faulty Deduction, Manipulating Content, Garbled Cause and Effect and On the Attack. I enjoyed the simple graphical icons associated with each, helping to further cement them into your subconsciousness. These fallacies are worth remembering particularly if you spend any time on the Internet or watching modern media.

Our thanks goes out to Informationisbeautiful.net and the charts creator, David McCanless. Kudos, sir!

As an exercise, take them to your favorite newscast and play “Spot the Fallacy” while you watch. Don’t make this a beer game unless your goal is to become very, very intoxicated…

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Hundreds Of Flight Cancellations, Delays Expected For Days To Come After Fire At Illinois Radar Facility

Originally posted on Consumerist:

Chicago is still pretty miserable right now. (FlightAware.com)

Chicago is still pretty miserable right now. (FlightAware.com)

If you thought those poor souls lined up for all eternity at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Friday were the only people who’d have to deal with the aftermath of a fire that torched an air traffic control center, I have some very bad news for you: Hundreds more flights are expected to be canceled in the coming weeks, and there will be plenty of delays as well, while officials scramble to fix the damage to the system.

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Why are people in the Marvel Universe more upset about mutants than any other metahumans there?

On the Scifi.stackexchange someone posits a question after watching this video of the Honest Trailers series on the X-Men trilogy. His question reads:

“As CinemaSins snarkily wisely noted in “Honest Trailers – X-Men Trilogy“:

In the world where people cheer the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Spider-Man, those same people will inexplicably hate the X-Men.

Why is that so? As far as I know, all these superheroes exist in the same exact comic universe, yet X-Men seem to always be significantly more disliked.”

While the most popular answer from the Stack article answers the question from the rarefied air of intellectualism, saying

“It’s the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage, the triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.

That is a quote by the character Wade in season 4 of Babylon 5, explaining why he believed all telepaths in that universe needed to be either murdered or enslaved for use by “normals” (homo sapiens). The same guidelines clearly apply in the Marvel Universe.”

I posted a link so you can read the entire article at your leisure.

However, I disagreed strongly with this answer.

It is unlikely my answer will gain any traction because his is a rather easy to understand perspective but I posted my own answer by trying to look at the problem differently.

Rather than approaching it from a purely intellectual perspective, I tried to see the problem from the perspective of a person living in the Marvel Universe rather than from the viewpoint of a person looking at the Marvel Universe from the outside.

Why Fear the Mutant?

There are factors which play into the fear of mutants more than most metahumans from the perspective from a person living in the Marvel Universe.

Uncertainty

A person living in the Marvel Universe has a life very different from yours and mine. His world is an uncertain one.

  • One day Mr. Average is on his way to work and there is suddenly an invasion of Kree warriors bent on battling the Avengers right on the freeway he’s driving over. The battle ties up traffic for hours, costing him money and prestige at his job. Hundreds of people are injured in the collateral damage of buildings and cars being destroyed. (See: Kree-Skrull War)
  • A month later, after they managed to repair the bridge, the Mole man ventures up from his subterranean lair and battles the Fantastic Four. Mr. Average’s car is destroyed as one of the Mole Man’s monsters trudges through the city before being put down by Ben Grimm. Hundreds of people are injured or even killed. (See: Fantastic Four #1, 1962)
  • Three months after that Mr. Average, riding the bus to work now, finds his bus under attack as a powerful and hidden mutant is riding the bus with him, in disguise. Mr. Average escapes with a few burns and a deep abiding fear of giant robots which randomly attack buses full of normal people to reach “dangerous” mutants. (See: Master Mold, X-men #16, 1962)

Mass Hysteria

  • Every day after each attack news pundits like J. Jonah Jameson espouse about the dangers of mutants, Spider-Man and superheroes in general. But mutants catch special flack because they could be anyone. You. Your neighbors, the person on the bus next to you could be a mutant.
  • Look how powerful hysteria is on our modern Earth when the random threat of terrorism is used to manipulate how people feel about other HUMANS. We created the Patriot Act, we dropped bombs on foreign countries for the FEAR of terrorism. The single act of the destruction of the World Trade Center over a decade ago STILL has people in the grip of fear.
  • Now imagine you had events like this happening every year, some of them, not all of them are due to the mysterious mutants living among us, with fantastic powers capable of wiping out all of humanity with the blink of an eye, (so the news media sells it, no matter that it in the case of certain mutants is actually TRUE).

A Legitimate Fear of Incredible Power

As an individual without fantastic powers and a need to go to work, protect your family, pay your taxes, be a decent individual and maintain a role in society, the very fact that you may feel insignificant compared to the mutant superbeing carrying away the stadium you were hoping to watch tonight’s baseball game in undermines your self esteem, hell, your very sanity as you see the impossible being done before your very eyes.

  • Imagine Mr. Average learns the person carrying away your stadium is a mutant, a being who was born this way and whose probably manifested as a teenager. He has a twelve year old daughter and a ten year old son. Could this happen to him? Is it possible that his children could have this mutant gene you hear so much misinformation about?
  • What about that town that was blown off the map out there when those Young Warriors fought that criminal Nitro? Everyone was killed. Could that happen here? Should mutants and superbeings be registered? (See: Civil War)
  • Maybe Strucker has the right idea. Maybe the best thing that could happen is we kill all the mutants before they take over the world. (Not knowing that it has already happened more than once and been reversed; See: House of M). Being an ordinary human in this world would be a terrifying experience akin to living in a warzone where you had no options but to run and hide whenever anything happened.

We Have Seen the Enemy…

Why do mutants have it worse than the rest of the metahuman community?

  • Most of the metahuman community makes an effort to be seen as being on the same side as normal humans. At least some of them have been revealed to be normal humans (Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow) resemble normal humans (Thor) or were once normal humans (the Hulk).
  • But mutants were born this way, their appearances vary wildly, along with their powers, many in learning to control their powers, harm innocents and even if they become “good” mutants have blood on their hands. When they are evil mutants, they seem to relish their powers and kill without reservation. There are reports (however unreliable) that more mutants are being born every day.

What is a normal man to do in a world where the uncertainty of his very existence depends on a very thin line of metahumans to protect him from the ever-growing menace of mutant power on an Earth in an ever-expanding hostile universe of threats? Aliens, gods, intelligent machines are terrifying but they are the Other.

Mutants? They are us. And they are everywhere. 

What are the shiny circles on Thor’s costume?

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Asgardian Fashion 101

Writing for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, I came across a question about the Mighty Thor that has piqued my interest only in that I had never seriously considered the classic Thor costume and its design. What are those circles on his costume supposed to be? <empty stares; looks of confusion>

I left the question alone for a few days while other writers on the site tackled the problem. My writing calendar was full and I was sure some of the site’s capable admins and moderators would find some worldly wisdom that I, even with all of my superhero history, did not have an instant answer for.

You know what they came up with? Nothing. Fan rumors. Suspicions. European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit, from Earth 1610’s Ultimate Thor.

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I was compelled to intervene. Here I was a Thor aficionado and I didn’t know the answer but I knew the European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit wasn’t it.

Here is what I discovered. <cue fanfare> Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Bupkiss.

My Official Answer

“There is little in the way of historical references in Marvel canon for the circles on Thor’s chest tunic. He has had this costume since his first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83 (1952).

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If you know anything about me, you know that wasn’t going to be enough. I did a cursory scan of the Journey into Mystery series and the early Thor comics with no results. Then I knew I would have to go meta.

What follows is my research and speculation about those circles. If you know something more concrete, please share it with me through the comments below.

Can history be our guide?

With that said, we can look perhaps into history and see if we can determine what the artist Jack Kirby was hoping to show in this costume design. If we can assume this design was inspired by Thor being an ancient god of war, then perhaps it would be considered a stylized armor design. Since Thor is a superhuman being, he might have little use for armor in his day to day life, but might want to remind his enemies of his valor with a costume that resembled an armor he may have worn at one time. It was a good idea but nothing in my historical rummaging in Journey into Mystery or early issues of Thor, showed this.

Case in point: Here is a picture from Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101. In it young Thor is seen wearing his costume as we knew it from the classic Kirby era. Since he is wearing it into battle, it is safe to assume it must double as armor for the young godling. Everyone else is festooned in armor that looks like armor, though they resemble classic Earth Vikings wearing platemail instead of chainmail.

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Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101

If his costume is indeed supposed to be armor, then perhaps what we should look for is an example of an armor with similar properties. Having a bit of history under my belt I remembered an armor accessory I thought might be a match. It was called the Lauersfort Phaelara.

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A closeup of the Lauersfort Phalera, Burg Linn Museum Center, Krefeld, Germany

One of the first and earliest potential armor designs which bears more than a passing resemblance would be the 120 AD, Legionary Roman armor. The phalerae medallions, the large shiny metal disks share a similar placement (though not exact) on the Roman armor. The disk were usually covered with the faces of prominent leaders or mythical beasts denoting bravery or skill in battle. Legion armies also carried them on their banners as group awards for the regiment.

Roman Legionary

From the Augustan period, both infantrymen and cavalry men received the same award when an opponent was killed and his equipment seized: a series of nine phalerae which gravestone reliefs show were worn on leather straps on the upper torso. Once again, these decorations were intended for soldiers up to the rank of centurions. –Armed Batavarians: Use and Significance of Weaponry and Horse Gear, by Johan Nicolay; Amsterdam University Press.

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Turkish, Antique char-aina, (chainmail with mirror plates), Russian Zertsalo (Ottoman inspired)

The phalerae medallions were not unique to the Romans. The Celts wore similar devices for religious reasons and similarities could be found in ancient Mongolian, Chinese, Russian, Ottoman and Japanese armors, often designated mirror armors for their shiny appearance.

Art Imitates Life

Thor has had many different costume designs, many actually resembling armor rather than the cloth or leather of his early designs. These later designs were more inclined to use actual armor plates to depict the circles in his early costume designs, strengthening the appearance to phalerae medallions, even including ornate designs in some of them. I suspect this was a design issue that came about when later versions of Thor’s costume were reimagined by new artists.

I am willing to be one of those artists knew what phalerae were and decided to incorporate that design element into the armor. We don’t know that Kirby wasn’t influenced by phalerae but some of these on the newer armors are too similar to miss.

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Conclusion

While we have no definitive proof the circles on Thor’s early costume were indeed a representation of phalerae medallions, it is at least historically possible the original design may have been inspired by early armors from the Roman, Ottoman and Persian armor designs which incorporated similar elements.

Note: While Vikings did wear armor into battle, it has not been shown to be an integral part of the armor designs to wear phaelara into battle. Most vikings wore leather furs, cuirboilli (boiled hardened leather) or chainmail tunics with shields into battle.

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A fairly realistic depiction of Viking armor and weapons circa the 5th century AD.

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Asgardians, warlike yet fashionable.

Un-affirmative Action: Marvel Style

Falcon and Thor

IN MARVEL NEWS:

Captain America has been forcibly retired and sent to an old folks home in issue 21 of his most comic series. He will be succeeded by long time friend, former sidekick and present day Avenger, Sam Wilson, also known as the first African American superhero, The Falcon. Sam will bring his trademark wings to the role of Captain America.

In related news: Thor Odinson has been determined to be ‘unworthy’ to wield the mystic hammer Mjolnir, his constant companion and signature weapon for over a thousand years. He will be replaced by a mysterious woman who will be calling herself Thor, at least while she is using Mjolnir.

This is not news. This is hype. Hype is a specialized form of propaganda which is expected to turn into money at the box office, store front or on the sales floor. Hype does not last, most changes that take place have little to do with the history of the characters being hyped or changed and in the end, things tend to return to their status quo. In other words:

MARVEL JUST WANTS YOUR DAMN MONEY

Neither of these MINORITY characters who have experienced this recent “promotion” in social status into the roles of long established legacy heroes.

Why?

Because it isn’t about social justice. It isn’t about opportunity. It isn’t about making things more balanced. It isn’t about promoting diversity in non-diverse ranks.

It’s about money. Plain and simple.

They want you (or someone who has not been frozen in the ice for 50 years) to obsess over the idea of Captain America being a Black man.

Anthony Mackie rocked the role of the Falcon in the Winter Soldier so the boys at Marvel Marketing and Development decide to take advantage of that and make Cap Black.

Sorta like they did with Nick Fury in the Ultimate Universe. For an entire generation of readers and the general movie going audience, Nick Fury is Samuel Jackson. Except he wasn’t.

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Marvel’s money grab is endemic in the nature of their promotion. But it is a fail before it has even begun because, in the typical new Marvel fashion, they have shown nothing but contempt for the characters and their underlying concepts.

In the case of the new Thor, she is a woman taking a man’s name as her Title. Yes, she is becoming the new THOR. But isn’t that the son of Odin’s actual name? Thor Odinson?

She may be acquiring Mjolnir and all of the powers that go with it, but what happened to her name and since when did being THOR become a title, not a name? When Beta-Ray Bill became Beta-Ray Thor. But note, he kept HIS name.

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Her adoption of the title of Thor, replacing her name is patriarchal without ever mentioning it. She will be less than the male white character in the role because for her to be more, there would have to be a woman somewhere in the development team to address those issues.

And we already know there won’t be. THAT isn’t the Marvel way.

And more importantly she would have to do things Thor Odinson would never do, in order to be recognized as equal. Her promotion was nothing more than a gimmick, something to bring in new readers. Note the level of promotion used.

For Christ’s sake she appeared on ‘The View’. How desperate is Marvel to appear more egalitarian especially in light of so many egregious articles discussing their lack of TRUE diversity? Who were they marketing the new Thor to? I can assure you very few men are watching the View unless someone has chained them to a chair…

MARVEL HAS BLACK HEROES, AND NOW ONE WILL BE CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Yawn. Big Deal.

Yes, Marvel can claim they have Black superheroes, (and I can name ten without breaking a sweat – Falcon, Black Panther, Cage, Spectrum, Storm, Blue Marvel, Battlestar, Goliath, the Prowler, and Bishop) but none of those heroes have the notoriety, fame, accolades or active titles of some of Marvel’s longest running white heroes.

And that is Marvel’s fault for not doing the work to create characters who could bring the imagination to life. To bring the concept of Blacks as equals to the mythology that is the superhero genre. We can imagine, aliens, Negative Universe, god-like men and men like gods, but we cannot imagine a Black Superhero with Powers that can shake the world. It is more than those comic creators want to be responsible for.

To make an equal Black superhero would imply there was an imbalance in the first place. Hence, the most famous of Black superheroes often have NO POWERS AT ALL.

Which brings us to the Falcon. If in the late seventies when Cap and the Falcon were nearing their combined title together, if you had suggested that the Falcon become Captain America, it would have been a significant idea. At that point, they had been champions of justice, trained together significantly (in fact, at that point, there had been no other hero who had trained to work with Captain America as much or as often.)

The two had developed a level of teamwork that was both seamless and amazingly efficient. The Falcon was his own superhero and had earned his wings (so to speak.)

The-Falcon

At that point, very few people had ever been Cap and he had never stepped away from the role. But today, being Captain America has been little more than a slot on a resume of superheroes. Hawkeye, Battlestar, Super-Patriot, and Bucky have all been the good Captain since the Falcon and Cap teamed up in the past.

So why now? By now, Marvel knows what both you and I already know. The Falcon is the Falcon and a Black man and Captain America is Steve Rogers. The seeds of the replacement are set in that very statement.

Every time they put someone in that Cap’s uniform, THAT PERSON IS DOOMED TO FAIL AND BE REPLACED BY THE GENUINE ARTICLE. The American Dream as embodied by the character means only Steve Rogers will ever hold that role successfully by the inherent prejudice of the character’s design.

America wasn’t ready for a half-white president. The reality caused a social schism that proved racism was not only alive, but happy living in witness protection in the flyover states.

Fans will tolerate their myth-space being overturned for a moment, for the sake of diversion. But think about the nerd-rage over Heimdall becoming Black in the Thor movies. The apoplexy over Johnny Storm being adopted and the brother to Sue Richards in the new Fantastic Four movie.

The nerd answer is always: this is the true depiction of these characters and there is no reason to change them.

300px-Avengers_Vol_1_181Except they were written in a time when racism and exclusion were the order of the day. Don’t be fooled. The day when a Black Character can represent America will come. But it isn’t today. It isn’t the Falcon dressed in Captain America’s uniform.

The day will come when a Black Hero can step up with their own name, without wearing the legacy of a white hero paving the way for them. When the respect of the efforts of Black Men and Women who paved the way for this nation to be the potentially great thing that it is acknowledged by presenting that character with dignity, flaws and the bravery we know Black Men and Women deserve for their time and treatment in the US.

That hero was the Falcon. One of the first non-legacy Black heroes.

If Marvel wanted to do something significant, they would give Sam some superpowers besides, to quote Hawkeye, when the archer was passed over due to color quotas in the Peter Gyrich Avengers, “besides flying and rapping with birds”.

Amen, Hawkeye. It’s about time.

————————————–

As an added treat, from Avengers 181(back when comics were 35 cents: When the government decided the Avengers could no longer operate without its mandate, it appointed their first liaison, Peter Gyrich. I hated this man but by the time the Civil War came about, I remembered every word he said had come true. This is one of my favorite issues because we watch Hawkeye, a long-time Avenger get temporarily ousted from the team by Gyrich since the Avengers had to conform to governmental hiring statues, including it seemed, affirmative action. The Falcon wasn’t too pleased with this either. Sam Wilson is many things, but he was not digging the Token Negro thing one bit.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth (the science edition)

“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
― Jules VerneJourney to the Center of the Earth

Jules Verne’s famous classic postulated the center of the Earth was filled with fantastic monsters at the fridges of the Victorian Age imagination. The scientific truth of it removed the more romantic nature of a lost world filled with dinosaurs, giant plants and super-volcanoes but the core of our planet revealed new wonders, barely even imagined a century later.

The inner core of our planet Earth is filled with mysteries still beyond our understanding and far beyond our physical access. The deepest we have managed to penetrate the Earth’s crust before our technology gave out on us is the The Kola Superdeep Borehole which is 40,230 feet or a mere 7.619 miles (12.26 kilometers) below the surface.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne – Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

The intrepid Professor Liedenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Project Gutenberg’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org.