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Tim Lieder

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Books read in 2019 # 76-80 more comic books of a Luciferian nature [Aug. 19th, 2019|03:24 pm]
Tim Lieder
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76.Lucifer: Faith & Lucifer by Holly Black and Lee Garbett - The television show turned Lucifer into Castle with the occasional angelic drop in (and a revolving cast of characters who eventually started getting on with each other) but the comic written by MIke Carey was a work of genius with several strange plots going throughout. Its ending was rather perfect for the story it was telling but it seemed like it had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, even Holly Black couldn't change my mind about Lucifer not going anywhere. This reminds me a great deal of the original run. There is a political challenge in Heaven. Apparently Lucifer has a son these days. The only difference is that God comes back wrong and full of justice without mercy. And then it ends with Lucifer planning another rebellion. I wanted to like this one much better than I did.

77. Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer - This is actually a sweet travelogue of a book with an entry point of a teenager who is half-Japanese/half-white visiting her grandparents in Japan and taking in the sights, including ugly buildings, Japanese dance crew and ramen places. There's not much more to this comic than "here look at all this cool stuff I saw in Japan" but sometimes that's enough. She's got an optimistic voice and a clear view of everything.

78. Judas by Jeff Loveness & Jakub Rebelka - This was not the comic to read on Shabbos since it's very Christian. It was actually rather affecting as the whole point of the comic is that Judas needs to forgive Jesus while they are both in Hell. The art is beautiful and Satan is depicted as a bit of a dick. But it's rather a sweet depiction of Christianity and the modus operandi behind the whole Jesus spending three days among the dead part. Redeeming Judas from a Christian perspective is a rather modern concept and it definitely helps in making the story a little less antisemitic.

79.Mockingbird: Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain & Kate Niemczyk - This one only lasted 8 issues and for the collection to even warrant a collection the company had to include a story from the New Avengers which has Mockingbird getting shot for a couple issues. I read that New Avengers story and it was better in context. Anyhow this is three issues where Mockingbird is on a cruise ship that is doubling as a science fiction convention complete with cosplay and a guy with a horse's head. The story keep referencing Hulk getting killed in Civil War 2. Anyhow, it was a fun low stakes comic book story about a heroine solving a murder mystery. I like those comic books, especially when I read too many comic books about the end of the world.

80. Saga volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - so here's the dissolution of the love story at the center of the comic book with Alana in an interactive broadcast vid that gets her money and addicted to drugs. The main character in this volume is a terrorist from the television headed people who kills the princess, kidnaps the baby prince and ends up kidnapping Hazel. This is a short and brutal chapter where the peace that's been established in between chapters (Hazel grows into a toddler) is shattered and the interplanetary war is given more context as the peoples are not fighting directly but fight through other cultures who don't like them very much.

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Books read in 2019 # 74-75 - WTF Endings [Aug. 5th, 2019|01:44 pm]
Tim Lieder
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74. There is a Tide... by Agatha Christie - I liked this book. I enjoyed the fact that Hercules Poirot doesn't show up until halfway through. I was relatively pleased that Christie gave an obvious answer to the murderer (the guy being blackmailed by the man claiming to know something) and then subverting those expectations and but then also fulfilling them. The basic story is that a woman inherits everything from her rich husband who has been taking care of his family. The woman and her brother are in town with the entire family resenting them both. Then someone shows up claiming that the woman's marriage wasn't legal because her first husband is really alive and he has proof. That guy ends up dead. Not going to give away anything except for the epilogue ending.

The epilogue ending involves one character who finds the brother sexy and doesn't want to go back with her fiance. Her fiance is boring. The brother is sexy. Her fiance has been engaged for years. But at the very end, she decides that she doesn't want the brother. She wants her boring fiance. So happy ending right? NO. The fiance tries to STRANGLE HER at one point in the book. So the only reason why she wants to be with this guy is because he tried to murder her. This is the most depressing ending in a Christie book and it's even more depressing because she frames it as a happy ending.

75.The Omega Men: The End is Here by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda - This is a grand space opera with a minor Green Lantern (a white Lantern no less) getting involved in a rebellion/revolution against an interplanetary tyrant who killed everyone on a planet in order to prevent another Krypton. There's a lot of tyranny, space battles, sacrifices and it ends with everyone that we expected to be heroes trying to run their planets in the worst way possible. I liked it even with the bummer ending. Still I saw the ending only because I'm reading On Revolution by Hannah Arendt.

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Books read in 2019 # 68-73 - I really got to take these comic books back to the library [Jul. 22nd, 2019|01:45 pm]
Tim Lieder
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68.Old Man Logan: End of the World by Ed Brisson and various artists - Last week I read the Old Man Logan where they decided to bring him into the regular Marvel world. This seems like the Logan where they are kind of bored with alternative universe Logan and decided to bring him in line with the movie version dying of Adamantium poisoning. There are three separate stories in this thing - Logan fights a weird alien who is more afraid than malicious and makes sure that everyone in Alpha Flight goes along with killing it (dark), Punisher crew in the alternate universe do some shit (dumb) and Logan fights the Hulk or the Old Man Logan world Hulk who took over a small town in Canada and is running a fascist fiefdom. That one is a little too close to the modern politics where people go along with fascism because they are afraid (but not because they are totally into it which is an aspect that American politics is contending with). That story is pretty fun. You see we're halfway through the year as pretty fun is my major critical way of talking. It's got a great build up to Logan and Fascist Hulk beating on each other but the ending where Logan walks into the woods to die (or live depending on what is planned for him) is pretty meh. Damnit. Pretty meh is not a good way of writing about literature, even pop culture. Ok, let's try that again. It's nothing I haven't seen before and seems to be written solely for a way to get rid of a character that is already a misnomer because OG Wolverine is back!!!

69.Hunt for Wolverine: The Claws of a Killer by Charles Soule and artists. Wolverine is alive or IS HE??? No he's totally alive but why just put him out there if you can re-introduce him in a convoluted plot where Kitty Pryde takes him out of the metal casing that killed him and he's buried and now gone. So we get the main Wolverine villains as boring shells of themselves. Sabretooth has gotten cuddly in his old age and Lady Deathstrike is just a woman with claws who doesn't do much. I still remember Uncanny X-Men # 205 (give or take about 10 issues) where she was this sadist torturer drawn in a surreal fucked up manner and she actually seemed like someone who could dominate and destroy Wolverine if she wanted. And they end up in a town that the military turned into zombies. So whoopie. Or yeah, there's a third guy who is Wolverine's son so I guess that's a thing. I stopped reading mutant comics in the 90s and didn't really pick them up until recently and I guess that got added.

70. The New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis & various (including Howard Chaykin!) - This is really good and it's before they started getting serious about diversity in the Marvel universe (or serious about selling movies on an international market by introducing characters as test marketing for the movies coming out in 5-10 years). So there's a lot of characters that seems strange. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are a couple with a kid. Squirrel Girl is the nanny. They really didn't know what to do with Squirrel Girl before Ryan North took over the character. Or more they thought they knew what to do with her but it was too cute, took wink wink she talks to squirrels isn't that hilarious????? The main story is about how this team comes together which is kind of what every Avengers title is about. Even though Avengers is the movie standard in the comics, I always remember Avengers as the comic where they put all the heroes that weren't popular enough to get their own titles. Sometimes they did but it was more of a team deal. There's a lot of forward thinking in this one as if they really want to title to succeed so they include Spiderman and Wolverine and there are even Nazi robots blowing up the Avengers tower. ANyhow Bendis is pretty cool and this is one of his better ones.

71. Invincible Iron Man: War Machines by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato jr - This is not one of Bendis' good ones. There's a weird Japanese terrorist cult. Peter Parker Spiderman is a boring industrialist. Mary Jane is now a corporate organizer who saves the Stark company because she's really just that good. I kind of wish that they knew what to do with her after the whole marry Peter Parker story failed. Now we got a Marvel universe where Mary Jane is boring and Gwen is interesting. Anyhow Rhodes finds a cult in Japan. He gets caught because they can totally magnetize metal and then there are fights. Also Riri shows up in this one. She has the distinction of being the Marvel diversity character who gets all the hate because unlike Kamala Khan, Squirrel Girl, Korean Hulk, etc. she's not written very well and she's kind of boring. Actually Korean Hulk is pretty boring too but he doesn't get hate because misogyny.

72.The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: My Best Friend's Squirrel by Ryan North and Erica Henderson - because Ryan North made Squirrel Girl so awesome with the running joke of trolling Tony Stark on Twitter and computer programming jokes, it's really strange reading old comics with Squirrel Girl where the prime joke is "look it's a tail! And she talks to squirrels". It's a lot like getting into My Little Pony and then watchign the 80s cartoon that was made to sell toys. This story is delightful as Tippy and Nancy are kidnapped by squirrels who are getting conned by a fake Silver Surfer into believing that Galactus won't eat them for all their money. Sqirrel Girl shows up and so does Silver Surfer. There are a lot of jokes about heroes meeting up and fighting. Also computer programming jokes. And a reminder that Squirrel Girl is friends with Galactus because of course she is. And the footnotes is a joke that Ryan North started in Adventure Time comics but much better here since they are written in a readable font.

73.Rick & Morty volume 1 by Zac Gorman & CJ Cannon - So lots of Rick screwing around with Morty. Morty getting powerful and acting like he's gotten too big for himself. The comic books are fine but like all tie-in media they are working with the established characters. The part where Rick & Morty end up in a labyrinth that Rick designed is pretty great.

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Books read in 2019 # 63-67 - It was Shabbos so I read graphic novels [Jul. 14th, 2019|12:52 am]
Tim Lieder
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63. Battleworld: Star Lord & Kitty Pryde by Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah - Checking out comic books from the library can be a strange experience when you don't keep up with the titles on a regular basis. Marvel comics has gone through a Secret War, Civil War, Civil War II and a story where Captain America went full Nazi just as America elected one of the most odious pieces of shit to the White House (by the electoral college, not the popular vote). So Secret Wars apparently was a combination of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the original. It's Crisis in terms of bringing together all the alternate universe characters in one big story in order to work out some kinks from the original format (primarily for giving Miles Morales to the Marvel Universe proper). Like Secret Wars in that the format is fairly simple as everyone is on one planet fighting it out with Doctor Doom as god emperor (just like the only interesting twist in the original miniseries).

So Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde are a thing in the Marvel universe proper (as opposed to the film Marvel universe where the multiverse comes down to Universal, Sony and Fox). Only Kitty Pryde is nowhere and instead we get the Kitty Pryde who was an agent for Apocalypse in Age of Apocalypse. There's even an issue from Age of Apocalypse which reminds me of my initial impressions which were - cool concept, love the art and who the fuck wrote this thing? It's awful. Anyhow the main story of Quill and Alternate Pryde in a heist is about as low stakes as you can get and putting them together in the next story with Quill asking Pryde to marry him is just kind of dumb.

64. Sage vol 3 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Ok, now this makes a little more sense. Not much since the story mostly could start here with the one-eyed fictional version of Samuel Delaney puking on the baby. Yet, I know the characters a little better. I'm more sad that the author dies and see the stakes a little more clearly. Still love how the opposite of war turns out to be fucking. War & Fucking is a Russian novel we would all want to read.

65. She-Hulk: Deconstructed by Mariko Tamaki & Nico Leon with Dalabor Talajic - She-Hulk without She-Hulk. Just Jennifer as a lawyer with a case of a woman with a monster in her apartment and a landlord that is creepy enough to try to evict her for being not so hot anymore. She-Hulk is fresh off of Civil War II which was the one where Captain Marvel was an idiot, Bruce Banner died and there was a lot of talk of fascism. Anyhow she's got severe PTSD so the whole story is about getting herself right with herself and accepting her transformation into She-Hulk again which is something she does under duress in this case. The story is tight and full of mission statements over what She-Hulk can be, even if I think that the fun She-Hulk of Hell Cat is not really going to be around.

66.The Walking Dead vol 30: New World Order by Robert Kirkman & Stefano Gaudiano - I can appreciate the fact that the Walking Dead is more of a spiral than a circle. I can appreciate the fact that even though it looks like there's only one story going on with Rick and friends finding safety only to lose it, that there's a greater narrative about rebuilding society and bringing us back to the social order. That doesn't mean that I don't find this latest iteration of the gang finding a new place to live any more interesting. Ok, so the new place is a big city of 50,000 people where the issue that arises comes on pretty quickly. If I didn't know that this struggle was the last one and that the whole series just ended, I would have guessed that this is where things were going. In fact, the story of the spoiled brat son of the matriarch was already on the television show. I don't properly remember if it was in the comic as well, but it might have been. Either way Negan kills the brat so a new world order based on what people were like before the fall kind of throws things in the mixer. So this is a pretty dull affair. Negan is gone. The new safe place is bigger but it's got many of the same tensions. The last thing anyone says is to reference New World Order. I suppose the series ending is the best thing for it.

67.Uncanny X-Men: Survival of the Fittest by Cullen Bund & Greg Land - Speaking of boring, this is one of those stories that deals with the fact that Marvel was trying to push the Immortals as the new X-Men in the most blatant way possible. The meta-story of Marvel being pissed that they couldn't do mutant stories in the regular movies while the boring X-Men movies chugged along in the Fox banner is more interesting than any story coming out of it. So that's your answer to "Why isn't Kamala Khan's Ms. Marvel just a mutant?" And in universe the teragan cloud goes and kills the mutants and activates the Immortals and in this story we got Magneto fighting to save the mutants with a group trying to kill off the heroes. Also Genosha gets blown up, one of the saddest metaphors for South Africa (then Israel) to ever appear in comics gets a "I planted bombs to kill off these guys" send-off. Oh poor mutants. You will never get another Claremont.

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Books read in 2019 # 60-62 - This feels random but they are all cool [Jul. 12th, 2019|07:09 pm]
Tim Lieder
60.Journey to the West vol 3 by Wu Cheng'en, translated by W.J.F. Jenner - this is the third in the four volume set of what is basically the same book, but since every volume is 500 pages, I'm not going to wait until I finish reading the book. Besides I started reading it last year or the year before. I read other books in between. Basically, this is the chapter where they are still going around fighting demons and Sanzheng is an idiot, which is symbolic about the ways that faith has pitfalls, like when you see a beautiful Buddhist temple and your immortal monkey friend is warning you against it. Or when you go asking for food among women who are part spider who put you up in webbings in order to eat you - because you ignored your monkey friend. Basically, listen to the Monkey King. Seriously, the monkey king knows what's going on. Also Taoists are actually demons who are out to eat Buddhists. Apparently, not everyone is cool with being Buddhist in one situation and Taoist in another. Anyhow, this is still a fun book and the basis for many manga.

61. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John LeCarre - oh this was so good but it was also a little ridiculous. The fact that it wasn't a James Bond fantasy gives it a great deal of respect, but ultimately it's about a double agent who doesn't know that he's actually a triple agent in an elaborate plot by George Smiley (who is a walk-on cameo in this one) and others to get caught in his lies and then guarantee that their man in Germany is fine because he's about to get caught. It's a pretty intriguing book as it has a three act play structure with our hero pretending to drop out of British intelligence as a drunk in Act 1. Act 2 is him getting approached by the Commies and Act 3 is the trial where two different factions in East Germany are trying to make certain that the other faction goes down as a double agent. And since it's LeCarre, the ending is a bummer. It doesn't have to be a bummer but it certainly is.

62.Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafer - I realized that this book is very much in the Harry Potter plot mode of world building with one fight at the end. That's the basic outline but it's very different. The magic rules of the Leopard People are much different than the British private school that Rowling was doing. The evil goddess lurking in the background stays in the background until the ending and the main killer is well known so there's no Agatha Christie reveal. It's very fun.

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Books read in 2019 # 57-59 - Pretty Cool Comics [Jun. 26th, 2019|11:25 am]
Tim Lieder
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57.Old Man Logan: Warzones! by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino - So Marvel decided to kill off Wolverine and then bring Old Man Logan into the Marvel universe since they were already bringing in Miles Morales. HOwever, where Miles Morales seems like a no brainer (the universe he was tied to isn't selling, he's one of the most popular new characters in decades, etc.), the introduction of Old Man Logan into the Marvel universe was a puzzle. Old Man Logan was a one shot miniseries that basically turned Wolverine into a Clint Eastwood character - traveling across America to avenge his easily fridged family - who fought a bunch of Hulks and ultimately the Red Skull because the Red Skull was president now. This book uses that world to a certain extent. Old Man Logan is still old with a failing healing factor. His friends are still dead. There are some bloody fights but in the end he ends up running into the X-Men and going to New York so yeah, Secret Wars! Also since it's a Secret Wars title Dr Doom is in charge and a god. I really didn't read the new Secret Wars so I don't know if this is stupid or clever. There is a fine line. The main thing that sells this book is the artwork. Sorrentino renders everything with the most beautiful dirty painting look. Even as the script is not exactly brilliant (it's Secret Wars tie-in starring a bad series after all), the artwork sells it. Everything is grim and fading and when Logan hits Manhattan it doesn't feel like a perfunctory entrance for a character into the Marvel universe proper. It feels like a truly terrifying moment in the life of someone who has lost everything and can't quite get what he's seeing. I actually want to know more.

58.Monstress, Vol 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda - Many years ago I tried to read an independently published (either self-pub or small press - the cover was beautiful) book where the writer attempted an infodump in the first paragraph. This killed all interest I had in reading the rest of the book (and it was a pretty long book too). Monstress is the opposite issue where I don't understand who is what and where everything is supposed to be. I think this is much better than spoon feeding and infodumps but I feel lost in the worldbuilding where there are tiger pirates and cat spirits and foxes. The story Maika Halfwolf seeking answers to what happened with her mother while a Cthulu type squid monster lives in her arm is definitely something and I'm going to keep reading it, but I feel like I'm falling into a pit of various politics and factions that I can only begin to fathom. The story definitely snaps into place when she journeys to the island with the main fox demon that knew her mother. The give and take of the discussion really clarifies a great deal, even as it's supposed to be a mystery what her mother was up to. Also, the art work is beautiful.

59.Saga vol 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - The artwork in this one is ok. It works. Also the main author that brings the couple together is based on Samuel Delany which makes me happy. A one-eyed Samuel Delany who gets shot in the leg, but still Samuel Delany. Just because Monstress (which I also love) is being reviewed in this same post, I do have to say that I think that Vaughan handles the world building better just because he gives you one very simple story to latch onto (the couple from warring worlds and their child fleeing bounty hunters and ex-lovers) in order to introduce the other areas in the world. I don't say that it always works. I still don't know what's going on with the television head people, but I don't quite feel like I'm drowning when I read it. One could also argue that Monstress has a simple story but there are so many details about pirates and warring factions and ancient demons who all have their motivations that it feels like being invited to a party where you don't know anyone and all you can do is listen to their chatter. Still Saga doesn't seem to be as ambitious. At least in the early stages. This part is simply an encounter with the in-laws, a flight from the bounty hunters and the death of the father. There are also flashbacks to how they met.

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Deadbeat Client - Falonne Milemba [Jun. 14th, 2019|01:37 pm]
Tim Lieder
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Falonne is one of those clients that I've had for a long time. She's sporadic so I waited for her to pay me the $50 that she owed me from the last paper. Instead of a payment, I got a snotty letter saying that I had done it wrong. She didn't say how I should do it.

Anyhow, here are the powerpoint presentation slides. I wrote them. If you are in a college where Falonne Milemba is attending, please know that she's been hiring me to write her papers for years. You probably shouldn't give her a degree. Falonne Milemba is not to be trusted.

Amazon Acquires Canvas Technology

Falonne Milemba
April 17, 2019

Main Points of Article

Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology.
AMAZON has purchased Canvas Technology
Canvas Technology is a startup that makes automated systems
The automated systems are designed with safety in mind
Amazon is adding these systems to their existing systems.

Canvas Technology
Started in 2015
Based in Boulder
Builder of Autonomous Cart System
System is designed for safety

Amazon
Owns a robotics unit
Will be adding Canvas Technology to its Robotics Unit
Has several factories and fulfillment centers throughout the world.

Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
And here's the Youtube script that I wrote for her.

Automated systems are becoming more sophisticated as robotics advances. There are several issues with automation including speed and safety.
In the article “Amazon acquires autonomous robotics startup Canvas Technology”, Brian Heter writes that Amazon has purchased Canvas Technology, a startup robot factory operating out of Boulder, Colorado. According to Heater: “The deal makes a lot of sense from the outside, adding another important piece to Amazon Robotics’ growing portfolio of fulfillment center machines.” (Heater 2019). The first point is that Amazon has acquired the company and is happy to acquire the technology.
The second point is that Canvas is a well-regarded company that began in 2015 and has created an impressive portfolio of technology. This is the point where the author describes the autonomous cart system which is currently on display at Playground Global. This autonomous cart systems uses 3D imaging and in-house software in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting. The major advantage to the system is that it is designed with safety in mind and manages to fulfill its duty while avoiding people and obstacles.
Finally, Amazon already has a Robots’ offering which automates the Amazon factories and fulfillment centers. In this purchase, Amazon has added new technology to its existing automated system in order to add safety.
This article relates to the class because it conveys important business information. It will affect several stakeholders including buyers, management and fulfilment center workers. I chose this article because it centers the automated system within the realm of innovation instead of concerns about lost wages. Overall, this appears to be a profitable move on the part of Amazon.


Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
And here is the paper (note how much work this is and I only charged $50. And she didn't pay.
Falonne April 17
The Tech Crunch article “Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology” makes the first point that Amazon has acquired Canvas Technology which is a robot factory. This article was written by Brian Heater for the site Tech Crunch. The first two paragraphs read like a press release with Amazon looking forward to working with Canvas Technology and its fantastic team.
The second point is the history of Canvas which is a startup founded in 2015 and has created impressive technologies including a fully autonomous cart system. This autonomous cart system is on display at Playground Global, The autonomous cart utilizes 3D imaging and inhouse software solutions in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting and avoids people and obstacles. In other words, the Canvas Autonomous Cart has a built-in safety with an autonomous vision system.
The third point is that Amazon is looking for an automated system that improves on Amazon’s systems. Amazon already uses automation but the Canvas system will help to improve Amazon’s distribution centers. Canvas can make a nice addition to Amazon Robots’ offerings which are currently being used to automate the Amazon factories.
This article relates to the class because it deals with business and I chose it for the nature of the automation. It mostly affects management.
Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
So yeah, this is bullshit.
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Books read in 2019 # 55-56 - Horror comics [Jun. 12th, 2019|05:27 pm]
Tim Lieder
55.Uzumaki by Junji Ito. What can I say but HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD. Just fucking buy it or get it from your library. It's all about spirals. There's an afterward where Ito makes fun of the fact that he's using spirals as a horror trope (complete with getting invaded byu a bum eating soft serve ice cream and licking on a lollipop with a spiral pattern), but that spiral theme is fucking terrifying throughout the book. Stephen King can do silly becoming horrifying well and the book The Ruins made flowers into the most fucking terrifying monsters ever. In this one it begins with one guy obsessed with spirals to the point that he turns his body into a spiral. And then the book has three basic parts - or actually two basic parts. The first part is a lot of stories about spirals where the ash from the bodies spirals and if you make clay out of it, everything has the spirals in it but also the faces of the people dying. There are several single issue stories like the one where pregnant women act like mosquitoes and drain the blood of everyone in the hospital. It even ends with one of the babies getting the doctor to put him back. It's so fucking awful and hilarious. There are lovers who twist into each other and run away from their families. There's also the Medusa hair story where the hair gets all spiral like all the way through. Another girl wants it to become popular. She gets drained. The one about the girl with a small spiral on her head that takes over her entire face was made to be a t-shirt.

Then the hurricanes come and it becomes an end-of-the-world story like Pulse. I don't know why I'm thinking of Pulse. Maybe because the American version was "everyone dies and we are running away from our cell phones" while the original version is all about loneliness complete with a happy ending where the main girl gets to hang out with a lonely ghost. But I think that apocalypse and isolation are big in Junji Ito. Even though everyone is WAY too close to each other at the end they are still lonely. Even more lonely because they never get any time to themselves - being all twisted around each other. But then the ending - I really don't know what to make of the ending. Is the spiral complete? And it's over? I don't know. Either way, this is so good. I think it's his best.

56. The Walking Dead: Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman - ok this one is pretty much another transitional one. Beta shows up and tries to kill Rick but then he's killed and he turns out to be once-famous. Like a basketball player. One group is trying to find Eugene's contact who turn out to be an even bigger settlement. There's a whacky purple hair girl who has been living alone in Pittsburgh. The main point of this one was to get rid of Negan once and for all. Maggie decides not to kill him even though he wants to be killed. He almost makes another Lucille but then he gives up that idea - knowing that it's just mourning for his dead wife. Kirkman claims that we are done with Negan and it looks like all the story to tell has been told. So that's it.

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Books Read in 2019 # 52-54 - Books that I REALLY REALLY liked. [Jun. 12th, 2019|04:16 pm]
Tim Lieder
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52. Frankenstein by Junji Ito - This is the year I discovered Junji Ito and my life was much better for it. His creepy art is so fucking hilarious and unsettling and he's also got a twisted sense of humor. That said, the adaptation of Frankenstein was not my favorite. He did make the monster (Adam Frankenstein) really unsettling. Most Frankenstein adaptations don't really make him unsettling. He looks a little ugly but the kind of ugly that most people would sympathize with. The Christopher Isherwood television movie "Frankenstein: The Real Story" even made a great deal about Frankenstein TURNING ugly. Like he was beautiful when he first started out but then started rotting and that deterioration made him crazy. In this version it's just Junji Ito making him out to look like a rotting corpse. He does take a great deal of the blame off of Victor by having Victor actually make a bride (who rejects Adam) and then Adam is the one that freaks out and keeps up the revenge.

The other stories are beautiful disgusting Ito. There's one where everyone's necks get long and one where people keep coming in from another dimension to bury bodies. The bog one is bizarre and Pen Pal is a rare psychological horror story where a boy meets a girl who keeps writing letters to pen pals who may or may not be imaginary (and when she stabs herself it could be delusional or just pissed off ghosts who don't want her talking to other friends. The unsettling thing about this kind of horror is that it's not the fault of the person being attacked. She is haunted by ghosts who want to be her friends and her only friends). The doll one has the dead daughter becoming a doll - and then getting all twisty and creepy in the Ito style.

But what I really love is the last story about his mom's dog. It's the same joke as Cat Diary where he draws a tender little sentimental story about pets but in the most horrifying way possible.



53. Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin - I have to confess that I really love Martin's side projects and delving into the history of Westeros. Sure, I would love it if I could be reading Winds of Winter (or even Here's Looking at You, Spring) right now, but these prequels are great fun. I especially love the way he uses the dry historical style in order to tell some of the most batshit crazy stories of people running off on dragons and coming back with worms coming out of them or the Dance of the Dragons itself. About half of the book is material that I've already read including the initial invasion and the Dance. But the material about the ruling of Jaenerys is pretty cool as is the ending where Aegon III goes form a scared kid ot a king willing to kick his advisors to the curb (especially as they were the ones who were using him for power games).

A side note- I really hope that the prequel is set in a science fiction universe with really cool technology and flying cars and since it's 5000 years before Game of Thrones, it NEVER says how all of this was lost. Kind of like how no one really knows how advanced the Bronze Age was, only the world was not in any state of stability until at least a 1000 years later.

54. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan - Ok, I've already stated that almost every Amy Tan book has the same elements but damn, I could read all of them. You got the American daughter exasperated by her mother, the obnoxious busybody aunt and the really hardcore backstory about life back in China. In this one, the mother's story is the majority of the book and her marriage to an abusive husband almost gets really old as this guy is just terrible. Every single thing is a lie or a method of bullying. It makes me think that Amy Tan or someone she knows really well has been with an abusive spouse and there's nothing redeeming about him. This is still a beautiful book even for being her second one and I got a little weepy when it got to the point where the mother and Aunt Helen's relationship was most well known. I have criticized Maxine Hong Kingston for being a misery tourist, selling the worst Chinese experience to sympathetic white audiences (consquently many an Asian man has been attacked in order to "save Asian women" because of the stereotypical manner that Kingston plays into). THis has a great deal of that misery tourism going on. It was her second book but it's way more redemptive and warm than Kingston's awful shit. I know I should not compare one Asian woman writer to another especially when they were the only two around.

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Books read in 2019 # 48-51 - A whole lot of meh [Jun. 12th, 2019|12:45 am]
Tim Lieder
48.Adventure Time vol 6 by various - I really took out too many adventure time books form the library. As much as I like the stories and the characters, they are really running together. This is especially true in these volumes with various artists writing stories and drawing them. Best one in this one is Finn and Jake waiting at a bus stop when they could just walk over trees.

49. The Walking Dead: The Whisperer War by Robert Kirkman - When last we left the zombie people, Negan had cut off Alpha's head after winning her trust. The whisperers put peoples' heads on spikes to warn everyone to avoid their camp and the war begins. And it keeps going. I forget but Negan is pretty boring although it's nice when he actually admits that his baseball bat is really speical only because it was named after his dead wife.

50.Adventure Time vol 1 by various - The alarmist clock story was cute. It's a clock that won't turn off. And is very excitable. Don't remember the rest.

51.Walking Dead: A Certain Doom by Robert Kirkman and others - So now we end the role of Andrea who gets bitten. ANd then dies in agony and attacks Rick. Because Kirkman is good at speeaking angst out of everyone. Also once the hordes of zombies ar emosly killed - not without effort - Negan reminds the Survivors that they lost and he doesn't want to be leader. So this is the end of the Negan road. He's in the next volume but I doubt past it.

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Books read in 2019 # 47 - The bullshit sequel to Primal Fear [May. 20th, 2019|09:18 pm]
Tim Lieder
47. Reign in Hell by William Diehl - Fuck this book. This stupid fucking book was breezy enough so I can't hate it too much but after I'm doing reading it, my main takeaway is that Diehl didn't know what to do with the characters that he was trying to make into a Silence of the Lambs franchise. It kind of worked I guess. I wanted to read the book ever since I found out that there were sequels to the book that made the movie that made Edward Norton famous.

And the last 10 minutes of Primal Fear is pretty damn perfect. Edward Norton turning from nice guy into raging psychopath while bragging that he had been lying to Richard Gere the whole time is just a joy to behold. I could see why the original author would want to capitalize on that moment - whether before or after the film (I'm not looking this up - the scene is as written in the book). And maybe the book right after Primal Fear was pretty good as this is the third book in the series.

This book, on the other hand, didn't even need Aaron Stamper. He's just there to justify another Martin Vail book. Instead of anything about Vail and Stamper playing chicken as the world around them burns, this book is a 90s book obsessed with militias and the Turner Diaries. The book might as well be dedicated to Timothy McVeigh for all the material about anti-government forces and white racist terrorism. I wish I could say that it was a book of its time, but the whole Nazi militia angle is sadly contemporary.

The scenes where Vail is being brought into the investigation and where the president and friends are working against the militias are great. I love the investigation angle as well as the material about how the most anonymous person can figure into the spy network.

If the book was only about Martin Vail working with the government in order to take down white supremacist militias, I would have enjoyed it much more. I might not have gone out of my way to get a copy and looked forward to reading it, but I would have not been lest with a feeling of getting conned into thinking that I was reading a sequel to Primal Fear when I was really just reading a Martin Vail book with Aaron Stamper ridiculously shoved into the plot as a crazy radio racist preacher. He's in the beginning. He is mentioned in the middle and in the end when the government is raiding the compound, he tries to get away.

Having read the whole thing I kind of wish that it was not as well written. Then I would have given up early and not felt like I had been screwed over by the end.

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Books read in 2019 # 40 - 46 - Lots of Murder in these books [May. 11th, 2019|11:30 pm]
Tim Lieder
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40. Being Full of Light Insubstantial by Linda D. Addison - I don't really know how to review poetry well. It's poetry and my ability to approach poetry on its own level and say something smart about it can feel utterly pathetic. The first part of this book feels distant for me, but as the book goes on the poems become more intimate and emotional. There's a cosmic sense of purpose to the poetry toward the end. I quite enjoyed this one. I don't know what else to say about it.

41. Teen Titans Go! Ready for Action by J. Torres et al. - I like Teen Titans Go for the juvenile humor but also for the way it just doesn't take any of its premises seriously. The movie will always make me love it for the way that they had to fix their mistakes by sending Batman's parents down crime alley. My favorite story in this particular one is a video game one where people keep getting pulled into the videogame by Cyborg's enthusiastic opponent. Mostly this is for the bright colors and the shifting art styles. I quite loved it.

42. The Walking Dead volume 26: Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman - Negan kills Alpha. I don't think this ends the Whisperer story, but the main point is that Negan kills the lead Whisperer so that's pretty much that. Also the horrible kid who hit Carl with a brick is dead now too. That whole family is gone because of the Whisperers so they aren't all bad. But why that family was such a big deal is beyond me. They were basically just entitled rednecks. But Negan killed the kid and then got in with the Whisperers and killed Alpha. So that's fun.

43.Bob's Burgers Medium Rare by Various - When Movie Bob cited Bob's Burgers as the working class sitcom you should be paying attention to instead of the overrated new Roseanne, I couldn't help but agree. Bob's Burgers is one of my favorite cartoons and the comic book is...well, it's pretty great. I can't remember anyhting about it, but it let the writers have freedom with tone and character enough that it was a decent experience. So yes, I read the Bob's Burgers graphic novel. At least the first one. It was funny. I guess that's it.

44. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill - Did this one or Black Book come out first? The first two LXG collections were classics in their own right and then Alan Moore got self-indulgent. Black Book gave us an immortal Mina and Quartermain going through the 20th century with references to pop culture deep cuts. The beat novel was awful but the Jeeves & Wooster Cthulu story was quite good. This is less confusing than that one, but it is still a bit indulgent. This is the trilogy that ends with Moore declaring Harry Potter to be the anti-Christ, with his Harry Potter character killing off the Hogwarts. But this one, this particular one is slight and I wouldn't even bother if not for the fact that it mostly gets the Pirate Jenny song as a major theme.

Nemo dies (it's been enough time) and his daughter Jani wants nothing to do with him. In between the rest of the team trying to deal with Crowley and learn about the evil promised one, Jani gets a job and gets called Jenny as a woman sings many more verses of the song. They don't all fit with the rhyme scheme. Sadly, Alan Moore gets lazy and includes a rape scene. It's not like Jani couldn't get frustrated with being a servant and called upon her pirates without the rape. The whole point of the song is that the servant just can't wait to get the pirates to kill off the bosses. The rape just cheapens it.

45.The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen - This was the basis of the pilot for the Rizzoli and Isles show and I can see why this became the pilot instead of the first book as this seems like the first time Isles is introduced. The relationship between Isles and Rizzoli is professional and Rizzoli is much closer to the rest of the characters in the book. Mostly Rizzoli is chasing after a serial killer who is corresponding with The Surgeon from the first book and she's still traumatized by the Surgeon torturing her and trying to kill her. The Surgeon is playing mind games and it is fast paced enough not to get to hung up on some details. I will definitely read another Tess Gerritsen. I've been burned by writers before (Charlaine Harris being one prime example. One book and I love her. Second book and I am so over the "every monster wants to fuck Sookie" plot). I would have also preferred that Rizzoli caught the murderer in any way beyond getting kidnapped by him. I must say that if I read another Gerritsen book, I really hope that Rizzoli just catches her by working the case.

46. The Death Stench Creeps GYO by Juni Ito - Oh man, body horror is disgusting. I want to say something academic about how it is a great depiction of the fear of disease and dying as our very limbs betray us, but this book is about a disease that makes people smell bad and then has them expel gas from their mouths and butts. So we got a lot of farting which is then used by magical machines to run themselves on gas. Oh man, so disgusting. There are a couple short stories that seem more like jokes than horror stories. Like the one where Dad gets stuck beneath the supporting beam and does not want to be moved because the house would come crashing down. So he dies there. There's also one where people shaped holes end up in a mountain and they go into them. That's it. That's the story. Also they get all bendy in the tunnels.

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Another Deadbeat Client - you know the drill [Apr. 25th, 2019|10:41 am]
Tim Lieder
Ok. Once again, I get a client who needs something practically at the last minute, makes a bunch of demands, adds a new wrinkle to the assignment (apparently the one sheet is supposed to be single spaced - which was never communicated before I worked on it) and probably used it as an excuse to never answer my emails and not pay me. She owes me $50.

Anyhow, one of these was a script for a video that she was supposed to make. I'm sure she made it. Anyhow, if you think any of this looks familiar, then that's because it's plagiarized and the student hired me, Tim Lieder, to write the paper.
Automated systems are becoming more sophisticated as robotics advances. There are several issues with automation including speed and safety.
In the article “Amazon acquires autonomous robotics startup Canvas Technology”, Brian Heter writes that Amazon has purchased Canvas Technology, a startup robot factory operating out of Boulder, Colorado. According to Heater: “The deal makes a lot of sense from the outside, adding another important piece to Amazon Robotics’ growing portfolio of fulfillment center machines.” (Heater 2019). The first point is that Amazon has acquired the company and is happy to acquire the technology.
The second point is that Canvas is a well-regarded company that began in 2015 and has created an impressive portfolio of technology. This is the point where the author describes the autonomous cart system which is currently on display at Playground Global. This autonomous cart systems uses 3D imaging and in-house software in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting. The major advantage to the system is that it is designed with safety in mind and manages to fulfill its duty while avoiding people and obstacles.
Finally, Amazon already has a Robots’ offering which automates the Amazon factories and fulfillment centers. In this purchase, Amazon has added new technology to its existing automated system in order to add safety.
This article relates to the class because it conveys important business information. It will affect several stakeholders including buyers, management and fulfilment center workers. I chose this article because it centers the automated system within the realm of innovation instead of concerns about lost wages. Overall, this appears to be a profitable move on the part of Amazon.


Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/

This was the second thing I wrote for this client. There's also a powerpoint that I can attach but I'm going to wait to see what the client does.

Falonne April 17
The Tech Crunch article “Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology” makes the first point that Amazon has acquired Canvas Technology which is a robot factory. This article was written by Brian Heater for the site Tech Crunch. The first two paragraphs read like a press release with Amazon looking forward to working with Canvas Technology and its fantastic team.
The second point is the history of Canvas which is a startup founded in 2015 and has created impressive technologies including a fully autonomous cart system. This autonomous cart system is on display at Playground Global, The autonomous cart utilizes 3D imaging and inhouse software solutions in order to safely operate within a warehouse setting and avoids people and obstacles. In other words, the Canvas Autonomous Cart has a built-in safety with an autonomous vision system.
The third point is that Amazon is looking for an automated system that improves on Amazon’s systems. Amazon already uses automation but the Canvas system will help to improve Amazon’s distribution centers. Canvas can make a nice addition to Amazon Robots’ offerings which are currently being used to automate the Amazon factories.
This article relates to the class because it deals with business and I chose it for the nature of the automation. It mostly affects management.
Reference
Heater, B. (April 10, 2019). Amazon acquires autonomous warehouse robotics startup Canvas Technology. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/10/amazon-acquires-autonomous-warehouse-robotics-startup-canvas-technology/
Ok. Let's see if I get paid for this one.
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Books read in 2019 # 37-39 - Family Stuff [Apr. 24th, 2019|11:49 am]
Tim Lieder
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37. Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett - I managed to read 3/4 of the book before I "spoiled" myself by checking on the real Anna Comnena. This made the liberties that the author took with Anna and her family to be a little annoying simply because in the book, she was pushed into the convent at an early age and most of the ending was her process of dropping the revenge schemes in order to write the histories that she was known for. In her life, she was never named heir. Her attempt to take over took place well within her adult life after she had been married for many years and she outlived her brother but never had ambitions after a certain point. Also her brother, who is depicting as a sniveling little shit - think Joffrey without the feral intelligence - went down as one of the more pious emperors. The book does make the brother out to be resisting the evil grandmother toward the end but mostly he's a jerk.

Still that depiction is from the perspective of the character who loses out. Gore Vidal noted that when he wrote Burr, he liked Thomas Jefferson more than his protagonist and Andrew Jackson much less. But he managed to stay true to the character by having Burr never miss an opportunity to talk shit about Jefferson.

Taken for what it is, this is a fascinating portrait of a royal family in the Byzantine Empire just as the crusaders first come to "help" them. Mostly it deals with Anna who is learning from her mother and her grandmother. Apparently the grandmother is supposed to be evil, but I always find the grandmother to be ambitious and clever. When the grandmother states that her son (Anna's father) allowed his men to rape and pillage upon taking the throne, she is corrected with a tale of the emperor making penance and begging forgiveness. This is not so much a correction as a good lesson in statecraft. It's always good to look pious in order to excuse your crimes. Basically, the grandmother is Machiavelli's The Prince given form. And I'm too respectful of Machiavelli to dislike her.

Anyhow, Anna is a rather petulant character. The book is fascinating and reads fast, but the protagonist tends to think that she's smarter than she is and this doesn't become obvious until the end when she keeps siding with her extremely naive mother against her grandmother. Even her pleasure at watching her grandmother brought low by her brother refusing to kill her shows that she has not learned statecraft and that it's better that she never did take power. Still I recommend the book. I don't think I will read it again because I stopped liking the main character towards the end but it's still pretty good.

38. The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan - Amy Tan rose to fame as THE writer of the Asian American experience in the 80s and cemented that title in the 90s with the Joy Luck Club movie. She still sells many books and she is very prolific. She even plays in that stupid band with Stephen King and Dave Barry - or she did when it was around. I'm not sure if it is still there. For years, teachers would either choose her or Maxine Hong Kingston as their representative of Asian American writers in those introduction classes. Usually they went with Kingston because Kingston is a misery tourists whose books "are quintessential examples of the race, class and gender tensions" as my least favorite undergraduate professor Marty Roth put it. Kingston is also fucking dreadful and full of misery tourism in order to give her white audience that "Poor Asian Women are all abused by Asian Men" plot that they crave (and puts Asian men in danger from racist white guys who shouldn't have additional reasons to attack minorities). Amy Tan is the more entertaining alternative. Also, we have hopefully stopped tokenizing minority writers so there's no ONE Asian American writer out there in the common beliefs (there are hundreds but culture sucks).

Anyhow, it's easy to forget just how good of a writer Amy Tan is. When I started this book I was hoping that I could finish it before another Amy Tan book came up in my other book queue so I wouldn't get stuck reading two Amy Tan books at the same time. I was a little bored with the beginning which is your standard Amy Tan set up where Chinese American woman who can't even speak her mother's language tries to deal with her bi-cultural identity even as her mother is getting frail (and showing the early stages of Alzheimer's). But then Tan does what she does well which is to take the reader back to the mother's world in China where she does not realize that she's been adopted into a family until her real mother (whom she thought was her maid) kills herself in order to prevent her from marrying the son of the man that ruined her life. There are Japanese invaders, interfering in-laws, cruel relations and the missionary life that is repeatedly in danger. Also there is a bond between sisters who are technically cousins but in everything else are sisters.

Ok, really I cried at the end. Books about adults dealing with their difficult mothers and coming to terms with having shitty childhood experiences in order to forgive their mothers - yeah, that's a bit personal. I like to say that King Lear is a different play when you are trying to help your mother deal with her hoarding (that she doesn't admit to doing), but Amy Tan is the poet laureate of taking care of Mom regardless of what that entails.

39. Shetani's Sister by Iceberg Slim - Speaking of unlikable characters, Shetani is an evil motherfucker. There's nothing romanticized about this pimp. Pimp is not a compliment. Shetani is an abusive fuck who gets women hooked on drugs so that they will work for him and the plot centers around Shetani losing some of his mojo because a new hooker looks like his dead sister to the point that he thinks that she's a reincarnation.

I'm rather surprised that I liked this book even though it's nasty as fuck. Shetani is an irredeemable shithead and the cop that is in his orbit (the cop's step brother is giving information to Shetani's "bottom bitch") is not much of a prize. These are nasty fuckers doing nasty shit in a plot that gets off on destroying everything. Also this is one of those lost books that were published posthumously. Those are never good. The last one of those I read was a Pearl S. Buck shitfest that began with the character being born and ended with a tragic mulatto (only she was half-Asian) killing herself. So I'm kind of surprised. Not sure I would recommend this to everyone but I would definitely recommend it to people who like nasty crime novels.

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Books read in 2019 # 34-36 - NEGAN!!!! [Apr. 14th, 2019|09:41 am]
Tim Lieder
34. Adventure Time Volume 15 - There is no Negan in this issue of Adventure Time. You really don't want Negan in Adventure Time. It's a quest. There are balloons. There are puzzles. Marcelline's dad wants to throw a surprise party. It's cute. It's fun. There's no Negan. Moving on.

35. Walking Dead Compendium Three - Negan is the best character in Walking Dead. Like Falstaff in Henry IV or Lucifer in Paradise Lost, he's the villain/secondary character who steals the show. Beyond being an evil bastard, he's the most interesting villain in the piece as he has a code of morals where he respects strength even to the point of treating Carl like an honored guest when Carl kills several Saviors in an assassination attempt. He's also an effective leader unlike the Governor who is is just a petty despot. In that way he's like the Qin emperor before the Han Dynasty who brought China together but had to be overthrown. This is pretty much the main Negan story from Negan's first appearance smashing Glenn in the head (and dozens of your Facebook friends decided to declare never watching the show again). And then it goes all the way through the war with Eugene being less cowardly in the book than the television show (I like the show Eugene better - really makes more sense. Negan is scary).

The nice thing about the Compendium is that there's a ton of story so by the end when the Whisperers kill off a bunch of characters at a fair (which is where the television show is at), Negan in a jail cell is still a thing but we are in a completely different place than the beginning where Rick is cautiously optimistic in Alexandria. This is not necessarily the case in the first two compendiums (98 issues) where there's a lot of wandering but not necessarily much building.

36. The Walking Dead volume 25: No Turning Back - The problem with going back to short collections is the fact that the individual chapters don't always have much happening in them. In this one there's just a lot of movement and set piece preparation for future warfare. The Whisperers are evil. Rick is messed up. And only Negan has anything useful to say which is that Rick has a unifying force and he's an idiot for not using it. Rick also has to deal with assassination attempts including the father of those asshole kids that attack Carl in the previous compendium. Their stupid mother was one of the heads on a spike but that is neither here nor there. Alpha shows off that she is both vulnerable (crying over her daughter) and brutal (killing the sympathetic whisperer that sees her doing it). This is also a foreshadowing for Negan's finest moment of killing Alpha but that will be in a few issues. Anyhow, Rick has doubts, gets his mojo back and Negan is proud of him.

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Books read in 2019 # 31-33 - Serious disappointments [Apr. 2nd, 2019|02:34 pm]
Tim Lieder
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31. The Walking Dead Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard - I joke about how I have N.K. Jemisin books at the ready in case I end up reading too many boring books in a row. I know that The Fifth Season is on my shelf just waiting to make my life less miserable. And considering the fact that I've gone through a bunch of dull mystery books where I read about 40 pages and just skip to the last 10 pages and even then I don't care about the answer to the mystery, I'm definitely edging closer to that book. Or Killing Moon since she wrote it first and I know it's going to be good. Regardless, I'm going to have to buy the sequels.

All three books on this entry are ones that I wanted to be better. Reading The Walking Dead from the beginning is a less odious task than watching it from the beginning. At least I'm still reading it. I don't think I'm going to keep watching season 2. Shane is boring and they are still on the fucking farm. As far as Compendium 2, it begins with everyone sad and messed up and ends on a hopeful note. A seriously ironic hopeful note when you know that issue 98 is the last issue in the book and that issue 100 is coming up. Basically, this is the first of the rebuilding series where Rick's group is invited to that suburban enclave (why don't I remember the name) and there are problems but they eventually win over everyone. And then the last page is Rick going "You know, we don't have to just survive. We can rebuild. This is going to be great."

I am now reading the third compendium which is from the introduction of Negan throughout the war with the saviors and ends with the mass decapitation scene that the show just did (so the show is only a couple years behind the comic? This is strange. Like the comic book and the show are just going to keep going until Kirkman gets bored?) and since it was the Negan story on the show that made me want to both read and watch all the comics again, the problem is that I'm waiting for Negan. The governor was fucked up but Negan is one of the best characters in the comics and the show. The show had to make up Dwight and a better Caroline to keep us interested at first and in the comic some of the characters are still ok, but Negan is really what we want to see. So this is a lot of moving of pieces before Negan comes along.

32. Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake Card Wars by Jen Wang - I was probably never going to like this one. I like the gender flipped Adventure Time especially as male version of Marcelline is played by Donald Glover but Card Wars is a one joke concept. The card wars are so convoluted that no one understands them. This is great for an episode but over the course of six issues it strains the audience patience.

33 Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe by Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic - FUCK YOU MARVEL. FUCK DEADPOOL and fuck this stupid fucking story. I didn't love the other two comics on this entry but I would have come up with a different title if it hadn't been for this piece of shit. It's not an original concept (Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe came first) and it's not even a decent variation on the concept (Squirrel Girl Beats up the Marvel Universe shows that you can take this concept and make it original). Instead it's just Deadpool waking up to his subconscious and killing a bunch of people. In the middle he shoots Spiderman in the head and it's all like Haha, too bad your enemies never used guns. And then the killing just becomes rote. It's like characters snorting coke and talking about how they had sex in Brett Easton Ellis books. Who knew that these things would be boring.

And the cherry on top of this shit sundae (sorry I know that's a cliche but it's more original than anything in this) is Deadpool getting to Manthing and going through the multi-verse and ending up in the - GET THIS - writers room!!!! Yes, they are recycling this joke from the 80s or 70s. And in the writer's room the writers are all congratulating each other. They are also all white dudes. This shouldn't be important but one of the great things about Marvel in recent years is the way that they have diversified the characters and the writing staff. This comic shows why every comic book company should diversify.

And Deadpool is about to kill them with a big sword. Wah wah!

This thing took me maybe 20 minutes to read and I'm going to hate it for many many years.

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Books read in 2019 # 28-30 - Enjoyable but forgettable [Apr. 2nd, 2019|02:11 pm]
Tim Lieder
28.Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Middle-Route Run by Ben Costa and James Parks - In the first book, I was hoping that it would be revealed that Rickety Stitch turned out to be the big evil emperor that still scares everyone. In this book, I am 90% certain that if that's not the case I'm going to be most put out. It's one of the most telegraphed plot twists this side of L+R = J in the Song of Ice and Fire. Only I don't remember the rest of this book. It was enjoyable but I think there was a wizard who took him apart in an effort to steal his bones and then there was a goblin caravan. The artwork is fun and bright. The story doesn't get too bogged down in angst. Yet, what happened? I can't tell you. I think he met someone who might know more.

29.Adventure Time Flip Side by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover - I probably should not have decided to put every Adventure Time DVD and graphic novel I could find on hold from the library. I am starting to get bored with the graphic novels. The show was starting to lose its edge with too many retcons and a bunch of miniseries that never really captured the anarchic fun of the first few seasons. It all wrapped up nicely but there was a sense of overtime. This one was an adventure of reverse types where people had to do the opposite and bodies kept switching. I suspect that the graphic novels stopped being fun after Ryan NOrth left but for all I know he could be working on them right now. I didn't exactly get them in order.

30. Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman - Even though I'm starting to lose plot details, this reminded me of the great 80s miniseries that used to air on network television. Chiefs, Celebrity, Name of the Game, that one where Phoebe Cates asks "Which one of you bitches is my mother?" Like those miniseries, every section of this book is in a different time period and different set of characters connected by the thinnest of threads. You can't even say that it's connected by the piece of jewelry that gets introduced in the prologue as the first major part is the WWII soldier dealing with a train full of treasures looted from the Jews of Hungary. The epilogue shows that same guy taking the jewelry since everyone is grabbing what they can and there's not exactly anything he can do about it. But anyhow the first part is the soldier falling in love with a Holocaust survivor who leaves him to go to Israel. The second part is his granddaughter trying to get that jewelry to the people who are most likely to have a claim with the help of an Israeli art dealer who makes a living off of requisitioning and selling stolen objects and getting the money back to the families. That's the chapter that is the most fun. And then in the last chapter, we learn about the women that the couple talks about back in 1913 through the viewpoint of an annoying psychotherapist who is practically screaming "I DON'T GET WOMEN and my theories are useless in this case," most notably in the way that he wants to help her with her painful cramps by talking about her family. These last two chapters are fun. The WWII soldier chapter is a slog. Overall, I recommend it, but I know that I may see this book on a bookshelf in a couple years and wonder why it looks familiar.

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Books read in 2019 # 25-27 - Family Stuff [Mar. 24th, 2019|07:28 pm]
Tim Lieder
25.Adventure Time: Ice King by Emily Partridge, Pranas Naujokaitis & Natalie Andrewson - Ice King went from the silliest villain to the most tragic character in Adventure Time in a few seasons - or just with one episode where the writers reveal that he was once a normal human being who was driven into madness by the crown that gives him all the ice power and the immortality. The introduction of his wife changed that dynamic as well but by then the show had reached its apex and was trying to wrap up. This is one of those comics where Ice King is taught the importance of friendship when he ends up with a new crew who want to use him to attack a super powerful wizard who would prefer to be left alone. Gunther gets kidnapped. Ice King abandons the other crazy wizards for a time. He finds Gunther and everything is fine. Again, I suspect that half of these entries for the year will be about Adventure Time comics and I will find them mostly entertaining but not terribly enlightening.

26. And I Don't Want to Live This Life by Deborah Spungen - Do we give Sid Vicious the benefit of the doubt? When I first heard about Sid Vicious as a man who murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself, I thought that he was the same kind of abusive partner that has made marriage and dating so damn lethal. Only in the intervening years, I heard almost every defense of Sid Vicious possible. Nancy was the aggressive one. Sid was a gentle soul. Sid & Nancy were the original Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, only they killed each other instead of Kurt shooting himself and Courtney going on to be not only difficult for her family but her daughter. Sid didn't actually do it. The drug dealer killed Nancy for the money they had. Or Sid did it but Nancy wanted him to do it. Sid was too confused from the heroin. Certainly Deborah Spungen gives Sid that out in stating that Nancy probably bullied her into stabbing her because she wanted to die.

Only there's something in Sid's letters to Deborah Spungen that sound manipulative. He's way too eager to reach out to the mother of the woman that he killed. He's way too self-pitying. He doesn't tell her that he's sorry for her loss. He tells her that he feels empty and hollow because the love of his life is dead. When Nancy was alive he was not above bullying Deborah into giving them money. The thing is that Sid was also violent. He hit Nancy. He got into fights. He was at a party CELEBRATING being released on bail when he overdosed. He had lived he might have gotten off but he would have probably killed the next woman or beat her. He would be like the Chris Brown of punk.

And it does seem easy to give Sid the benefit of the doubt given Nancy's problems. This book is about a girl who was difficult from birth. I was prepared to hate Deborah Spungen as a bad mother but she did the best she could with the mental health resources she had in the 50s and 60s. Nancy seems like Borderline Personality Disorder which wasn't even diagnosed until the 1990s. There were other diagnoses throughout like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. But mostly Nancy was a difficult child who became a difficult teenager who turned to drugs pretty early on. But even if she never did heroin she was exhausting. The problem is that a mentally ill teenage girl was so exhausting that her murder becomes justified in popular imagination and even romanticized. She was a suicidal woman who fell in love with her murderer. And all her mother could do was watch and worry.

27.Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff - Speaking of assholes with mental problems, Michael Wolff depicts Trump in much the same way as Deborah Spungen depicts her daughter - as a fragile angry asshole who wants to be loved but won't stop pushing people away and destroying shit. Only where Nancy was a teenage girl with a drug problem, Trump is an old man in charge of the biggest nation in the world and completely out of his depth with a series of hangers-on trying to influence him. I'd almost feel sorry for the stupid motherfucker if he wasn't working so hard to fuck my country.

This book is mostly from Steve Bannon's perspective. Steve Bannon is trying to push his agenda over the Kushners with Reince Priebus as a guy who seems to be remarkably hard to push over when the time comes. Wolff gives us the Ivanka-Jered pairing as the liberals trying to keep Trump from going too deep into the racism but I'm not sure I can really believe that. Mostly, it's a portrait of Bannon who believes in Trumpism so much that he's willing to go against Trump to achieve it. By the time this book went to print, Bannon had yet to fail miserably with Roy Moore but the part where the creepy Mercers cut off Bannon came after the book. Everyone in this book is an asshole. Everyone is trying to get something. And for the most part these delusional assholes have made a huge mess and while Wolff is trying to give them a sympathetic portrayal, I find the whole thing rather sad.

Also besides the stuff that ended up in the newspapers (everyone crying when Trump won, etc.), most of this book is just the hits from the headlines, culminating in the bullshit Charlottesville speech with not much insight beyond the fact that everyone freaked out a little.

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Books Read in 2019 # 19 - 24 - I got to take these comic books back to the library [Mar. 12th, 2019|01:22 pm]
Tim Lieder
19.Adventure Time volume 11 by Christopher Hastings & Ian McGinty - I have a tone of Adventure Time books to read. I put them all on hold and it was the last episode. So this one. I honestly have to say that I don't remember what I read. I think I liked it. Finn gets old. Finn's past lives show up. The youth of everyone is stolen by ghosts. The art is all googly eyed.

20. Adventure Time vol 10 by Christopher Hastings and various - Ok, this one is more interesting because there'es a time bending maze story at the beginning and the rest is about a weird alternate sister that should have been raised with Jake and Finn but there was a demon involved. So she has to go back to a statue but there's all those alternate realities. So it's that sweet spot of wistful longing.

21. Ms. Marvel: Teenage Wasteland by G. Willow Wilson & Nico Leon - Naftali shows up with a sandwich! This became big news because now Kamala has an Orthodox Jewish friend, but he JUST SHOWED UP without an introduction or anything. And he doesn't even put that kosher sandwich in a bag or anything? Who drew this? Who walks around New Jersey with food out in the open and expect other people to want it? Also there's a lot of neat stuff about Kamala's friends and Wilson sidelines Kamala into a private school for a few issues. Also a return from the first two villains - the bird guy or the bird guy's controller and the sentient Troll AI - and I guess their point is made. This installment feels like this title is coasting, but you know what - I don't mind. I would rather Kamala Khan coasting on the goodwill of stories about friends who like each other than a dozen other comic stories.

22. Spiderman/Spider-Gwen Sitting in a Tree by Brian Michael Bendis and Jason Latour and others - So this was a multi-issue crossover where we know now that they can go between dimensions and Miles Morales really like Spider Gwen. The rest of the thing is having fun with alternate Spiderman titles, so Miles Morales has a father in the other dimension who is a king pin but in Spider Gwen most of the heroes are villains. Matt Murdock is particularly slimy. And there's a future dimension where Gwen and Miles are married and their kids just expect alternate universe versions of Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy to hop on by with questions. So that was fun.

23.Invader Zim vol 1 by Jhonen Vasquez and Eric Trueheart - It's really hard to read this without Zim's voice in my head. That's nice. Anyhow Dib and Zim are trying to get one over each other and the first few issues are Dib being obsessive and Zim laughing at him. But then in chapter 4, Zim just accidentally gets the earth blown up. But it's fine in the next one. Also the Tall Ones end up getting blown up because they were messing with Zim as they do.

24. Archer & Armstrong: American Wasteland by Fred Van Lente & Pere Perez - So this is why I put down the Illuminatus Trilogy and may never come back. All that Rock & Roll + Magic bullshit was so much cooler when I was in high school. At the time it was mind blowing, but now I don't want to deal with any Jim Morrison crap and the whole time travel to set up the big reveal that the heroes were planning it the whole time is just some serious Stephen Moffat bullshit. So we got a hotel where all the dead stars who are still worshiped wait for their fans to die so they can leave. And we got Jim Morrison as a lizard king and some Hollywood cult and it's very Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley and holy fuck this was way cooler in the 90s.

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Books Read in 2019 # 14-18 - mostly graphic novels [Feb. 25th, 2019|09:38 am]
Tim Lieder
14. Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito - I think that as much as I like Junji Ito for his body horror, I believe that a lot of the attraction is the way he depicts the horrible and evil as beautiful. According to the acknowledgments, several of Ito's editors and friends (as well as his cat) died when he was making this book. He offers that up as an apology for taking eight years, but it ultimately makes a deeper book where the metaphysical horror can be an afterthought to the sorrow that pervades these characters. The first story is about a man who sinks into his futon and doesn't get out of it. There's a whole stinger about him being all doped up and seeing fairies and his body fusing with the house, but really the power comes from how many people have this condition and how their loved ones can do nothing for them. Other stories include a woman who mates with a house (that one is a little silly) and one where the nanny charged with helping a young girl becomes stuck on her and eventually her ghost just hangs out on her. Other ones like the one where a woman wants to be dissected fall a little flat (her insides are Cthulu monster stuff), but Ito is a master and you can excuse some missteps.

15. Shutter vol 1 Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge & Leila del Duca - I was originally going to put this one and the Ito one together as one entry that went "what the hell was that?" but I read a bunch of stuff this weekend and I didn't want to make three separate entries. Also, where Junji Ito is body horror creepy and esoteric in a beautiful way, Shutter is more like an adventure story that doesn't quite want to tell you what is going on. It's about a woman who was an adventure heroine with her dad when she was a kid (they went to the moon) and a target of assassins now. There are cat people and family secrets and a secret brother who was born way too long after her dad died to be his son, but everyone agrees that he's her brother on her dad's side (so clone?) There's also a robot cat that looks like the classic Felix, but also might be a clock. Anyhow I didn't hate it. The art is good and the characters are interesting but the plot is a confusing jumble of stuff that might pay off in later volumes.

16.Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The Hidden Staircase by "Carolyn Keene" - I think there was a mystery to this, but it was so obvious that the evil land speculator was behind the plots that I didn't mind just going along with the drift of privileged white girl and her aunts hanging out and looking for all the hidden passages. This is the 1959 version of the book and apparently between 1930 and 1959, they decided to turn the villain from a thief to a real estate speculator who hides the last land owner who sold his share of a development in order to drive up the price. Meanwhile he's also trying to buy a couple of old revolutionary era mansions in order to make a condo or luxury apartment. I know I'm just outright giving away the ending here, but the book just has them find the guy that is being hidden who then tells them everything. And somewhere in there Nancy's dad gets kidnapped, but everyone who is a witness just talks to Nancy as soon as the police let her interrogate the suspects.

I mentioned that this is about a privileged white teenager. She gets along with the local police. Her family friends or aunts own mansions. Her dad is trying to help with a land deal and the main problem is that the land owners are trying to hold out on him. When there are suspects, the cops let her talk to the suspects and the suspects just give her the information. Apparently she was turned more proper for 1950s audiences (as Betty Frieden argued, the 1950s was a major backlash in women's rights enforced by popular culture).

And I don't have a problem with telling the ending because the main way that the real estate guy is trying to get the houses is to scare them with noises in the walls as if a ghost. So it's a plot that Scooby Doo stole and just kept going.

The one plot point I loved was the fact that Nancy gets knocked out by the ceiling falling on her. This isn't because of an evil plot or a purposeful attempt on her life but just because the damn house is so old. She's fine.

17. Adventure Time: Masked Mayhem by Kate Leth and Bridget Underwood - This is one of those mysteries that you don't exactly appreciate when you are reading it because there's a lot of misdirection that all turns out to be just a series of coincidences, but since it's so committed to the noir detective genre where there are conspiracies and hidden daggers everywhere it's easier to appreciate after you think about it. It's like the Big Lebowski that way (and no way else). Finn isn't even in this one for long. Instead it's a crazy BMO story and crazy BMO is the best BMO. The mystery of who hit Marceline with a pie and who TP'd Lumpy Space Princess's party are pretty low stakes but the seriousness that BMO treats them is great. Of course, this isn't a new joke, but it usually makes me happy.

18. Saga vol one by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples - How did Image become such a great company. Last I paid attention, it was a bit of a joke, more of a vanity project for Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld than an actual company. Yes, I know that the main philosophy was about creator's rights and ownership of copyright material (so no one gets screwed like Kirby) but the execution was so lacking at the beginning and the rights fight over Miracleman just seemed to make everything unfortunate. But now it's putting out some of my favorite titles. These are passion projects and they show just how much fun writers can have when they don't have to stick to a continuity or company standard.

Anyhow, I am trying to read this from the beginning and I am still confused. Enjoyably confused but confused. The cynicism about war, the strange politics, the royalty with televisions for heads - this is all so wild. I thought that the spider woman with the six eyes and six arms was around in later books but she gets killed here. I was not nearly as impressed with Y the Last Man as I am with this one.

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