First, the initial reporting was sloppy. At a minimum Politico’s political reporters should have consulted with their peers who cover the military. Better, they should have consulted historians. (Best would be both of course.) Second, the counter-arguments and defenses from outraged conservatives in Carson’s camp were even sloppier. Even worse: in some cases these arguments, especially those from Carson’s own campaign, definitively (if accidentally) undo his own accounts. Third and finally, Ben Carson has a real and serious problem with the actual and undisputable history surrounding what he said. At best he told and continues to tell a story which demonstrates that he has a horrible memory, and cannot even remember basic facts (verifiable facts, as I will show) about his own history. More likely, the historical evidence appears to demonstrate that he is, indeed, an outright liar who has been fooling people with a self-created fabulist fictional story. Worst of all, it is a story about his own past designed to make himself look better at the utter expense of the truth.

And he made a lot of money telling that false story.

“Ben Carson Debunked: Inside His Made-Up West Point Story,” from here. The current political landscape is nuts, everybody.

But Obama’s two White House terms have papered over an enormous hollowing out of the Democratic Party. Since his election in 2008, Democrats have lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures nationwide, 69 seats in the House, 13 in the Senate and 12 governorships.

Justifying their latest loss — in the Kentucky governor’s race last week — the Democratic Governors Association blamed the “unexpected headwinds of Trump-mania” and declared it to be “the Year of the Outsider.”

And yet the party is poised to nominate the ultimate insider: someone who has actually lived inside the White House before, a former senator, secretary of state and first lady.

“She’s a wrong nominee in a wrong year and they’re about to coronate her,” said Henry Barbour, the Republican National Committeeman from Mississippi and influential party strategist. “And that’s good for Republicans.”

Even if you do not think you ever had a twin, there are many other ways you might be invaded by another human’s cells. It’s possible, for instance, that you started off as two foetuses in the womb, but the twins merged during early development. Since it occurs at such an early age of development, the cells can become incorporated into the tissue and seem to develop normally, yet they are carrying another person’s genetic blueprint. “You look like one person, but you have the cells of another person in you – effectively, you have always been two people,” says Kramer.

Fun With Numbers (Again)

waitwhatpod:

So, the October sales figures are out, showing how the new ANAD Marvel books launched, and they’re all massive successes, as Marvel EiC Axel Alonso told CBR: “We were proud of our launches and optimistic about our numbers in October, but we didn’t anticipate this,” he said

I mean, let’s ignore that 75% drop between the first and second issues of Invincible Iron Man in the same month, because there’s always a second issue drop, right?!? Feel the success of that 66K second issue, which is far better than the 42K second issue of the previous series. (Not so much better than the 72K for the second issue of the 2012 series, but, hey.)

But look at the other debuts! Amazing Spider-Man #1 has 245K! That’s great! Almost 300,000 copies less than the last Amazing Spider-Man relaunch, but 245K! And Spider-Gwen has 197K, which is… also down on the 254K of the last launch for the series back in February of this year. And then there’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which gets 118K, which is… yup, less than the last Guardians of the Galaxy #1 back in 2013 (That one got 211K). Oh, and there’s a new Uncanny Avengers #1, which had 105K, as opposed to the last one, which got… 303K.

Okay, it’s not all bad news: Astonishing Ant-Man #1 had orders of 2,000 more copies than January’s Ant-Man #1, and when was the last time Doctor Strange sold 145K? Uncanny Inhumans #1 launched at 90K, up from 58K for Inhuman #1 and 67K for the zero issue, so there’s that. But with Sam Wilson, Captain America reaching just 62K versus All-New Captain America having almost double that amount (120K) just a year ago and New Avengers #1 having orders of 71K versus 116K from the last time the book was relaunched, it’s clear that the bloom is off the rose in terms of relaunching to get sales boosts. 

No wonder Marvel’s currently above 75 launches for All-New All-Different; at this rate, volume of series is what’s going to keep its marketshare where they want it to be more than anything else.

I looked up some numbers for the Wait, What tumblr.

Someone asked on Twitter, and it strikes me I should maybe add this here: the ANAD launches are pretty much launching higher than DC’s New 52 did, so for those looking for a silver lining, there you go…!

Just to appear on Saturday Night Live is seen as an act of self-deprecation. (“I can take a joke,” Trump said during his monologue.) But Trump should get no credit for being self-effacing. SNL’s impersonation of him, its understanding of him, carries no bite. Yes, he’s a ridiculous personality beloved by drunk uncles everywhere, but Trump knows and loves this about himself. SNL made multiple cracks about Trump’s racism during the episode: Larry David called him racist during the monologue, a sketch about Trump’s tweets ended with a remark about black people, and Weekend Update’s Michael Che skewered the guy “hosting this show” for getting Che’s “negro senses” tingling with the subtitle of his book “Making America Great Again.” But this is perfect for Trump, who gets to affably take his punches for being racist, which only makes his racism appear less virulent, a boon to him and his voters.

His online art intervention, called The Possibility of an Army, will expose the ease with which fake identities can be created online. He has enlisted people to open Facebook accounts with the names of mercenary soldiers hired by Britain in the American war of independence. He is literally creating a fake army of dead men.

“There are already enormous armies of fake accounts,” says Dullaart. “There’s a huge market in selling YouTube views and every kind of social media engagement … I get frustrated when I see social media quoted as validation of a cultural practice.” Even museums, he claims, use faked responses to enhance their reputations. The providers of such services “make money by giving you big numbers. They generate random behaviour so they look more real. And they’re all around.“

And Then It’s Over

I think, judging by the last few days, that we’re officially out of the part of fall here in Portland where it’s lovely weather: cold, and crisp, and gloriously sunny for the entire day. Oh, we’ve still got parts of that, sure — it was sunny earlier today for awhile, and the cold thing is certainly going on; it was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning — but the combination has slipped away and we’re headed into the slide towards winter, when everything’s darker and more wet, and it somehow feels more difficult to want to go outside for any reason, especially in the evening. It’ll be cold out there! And probably raining!

I feel like I’m noticing the weather more, this year; I felt like that was true during the summer, and it’s true now. There were moments in the summer when I’d just stop and look up in the air and the sky would be entirely empty and blue all around me, and everything felt so still. It would feel magical, in some way, that stillness and peace and the feeling of being so entirely in one moment out of nowhere. Right now, it’s a different feeling; something less still, but no less peaceful. I can’t describe it, not really. A sense of feeling particularly present, for want of a better way of putting it. I blame it on getting older, although “blame” isn’t the right way of putting it.

**

I read The Guardian‘s Best Albums of 2015 So Far list with a lot of interest this morning, in large part because I hadn’t heard of the majority of things on it. I’m a living cliche, I thought to myself; I’m one of those people who lost touch with music as I got older. I’ve been thinking a lot about music over the last few days, particularly the music of my youth — the Britpop era, or really, the Britpop ends era, 1995 through 1997 or 1998 — thanks to conversations I’ve been having on social media. Music was very much part of my life then; specific memories have soundtracks with such clarity that just isn’t the case anymore.

Part of that is that I was running with a very music-focused crowd, and it was the mid-90s with Britpop making all of us far more interested in music than we would’ve been even a few years earlier. Blur and Oasis releasing singles on the same day was a news event, somehow, which seems absolutely insane in retrospect. I defined myself through music — these are the bands I like, these are the sounds I listen to; this is the fashion I aspire to, as delivered by the bands, and so on.

What’s so interesting for me looking back is what happened as that broke down and fell apart. When Blur made Blur and Supergrass’s In It For The Money was, let’s be honest, a disappointment with the exception of three or four tracks. The feeling of needing to move on, and what I ended up moving on into. Somehow, I found bands that purposefully pushed elsewhere with their influences, and more importantly, pushed their fans towardthose influences, so I could go from rifling through the 1960s British Invasion of the Small Faces and the Zombies to Sun-Ra and Steely Dan and the more out-there sounds peddled by Super Furry Animals and Primal Scream, or Googie Rene Combo, sampled and stolen for David Holmes’ “My Mate Paul.”

Those later bands weren’t the kinds that demanded the tribal devotion of an Oasis or a Blur, but they were more important to me, in the end.

**

Current reading: Kim Zetter’s Countdown to Day Zero, which is about the origins of the Stuxnet virus and the discovery of those origins by a bunch of anti-virus analysts who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. It’s a very enjoyable book, and was in my head when I saw the trailer for Spotlight, the new dramatization of the Boston Globe’s investigation into catholic sex abuse scandal back in 2003; in both cases, it’s people just doing their everyday jobs who end up in the middle of these amazingly dramatic, important world-changing events. It’s the origin story of our times, now — something that’s kind of interesting to me, because it speaks at once to a democratization of these kinds of narratives (No longer are you destined for greatness! You’re just working for the weekend!) and a weird pandering towards the audience (Hey, this could be you).

Hrm. Rambling.

**

Also been catching up with Doctor Who, which I’ve fallen entirely out of synch with. I’m in two minds about where the show’s at right now; on the one hand, it’s in this weirdly dark place that’s at odds with its stated “This is a kids’ show” purpose, but on the other, when semi-binged (I’m watching each two-parter as one continuous movie, albeit over a fragmented, extended period because I can’t carve out enough time to do otherwise), I’m really really digging the “Doctor has clearly seen Clara die and is trying to deal with his grief by running throughout time to have more adventures with her before she died” theme to the season, and Capaldi’s really working for me as the Doctor right now. So… mark me down as selfishly into it, but saddened that I’m probably contributing to the show’s decline, somehow.

**

I haven’t really written about Secret Convergence on Infinite Podcasts, which I really should have by now — it’s a podcast crossover featuring episodes of a bunch of favorite shows, and by now two of my three episodes have been released: the opening FanBros episode, and the super-fun Less Than Live with Kate or Die episode. Weirdly, the whole thing got written up in The Guardian the other day, which is… surreal? And wonderful? But mostly surreal? Comics podcasting will never be the same, apparently. Perhaps this will end up being the greatest legacy that I leave to the Internet, which I would actually be entirely okay with. I mean, before this, my legacy was pretty much being the source for a number of Wikipedia articles…

Of course, these are all interesting twists, but we’re still talking about two songs in which Adele is belting to a former lover about why he won’t talk to her anymore. Saying “Hello” is distinct from “Someone Like You” is like saying Road to Morocco is distinct from Road to Zanzibar. Adele has even recreated the most affecting chorus moment of “Someone,” the break in her voice that telegraphs hurt: 2011’s weepy “Don’t forget me [crack], I beg,” becomes 2015’s “To tell you [crack] I’m sorry.” (In both cases, the voice-crack might be the song’s best hook.) There’s nothing wrong with an artist owning her turf and burnishing her brand. It’s what Whitney Houston was doing on her 1992 cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” taking back her mantle as America’s premier vocalist and reminding fans why they first fell in love with her. But the Whitney song’s unusual a cappella opening and cinematic bigness felt relatively new to Houston’s fans at the time. For Adele fans, “Hello” is a favorite sweater from past winters they’re happy to pull down off the shelf and snuggle in again.

From here. (I am one of those people who thinks that “Hello” is nice enough, but pretty much just like the 21 stuff, which never appealed that much to me either.)