There sure are a lot of GI Joe toys in the toy stores these days.

I guess that's because there won't be very many giant robots used during the 40 year occupation of Iraq.

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what I've read recently

Antarctica, by Kim Stanley Robinson

    Most of the book is a fictionalized travel guide to the continent, heavy on the talking heads. It was pretty interesting, and made me never want to go there. The actual plot is pretty thin, and the book is about 200 pages too long; I was skimming rapidly near the end.

    I bought this book mostly because I really, really loved the comics Whiteout and Melt by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. Those were way better than this book, with a much more interesting plot, though not as obsessive in Antarctica-related detail.

The Fourth World, by Dennis Danvers

    A sort-of cyberpunk story set in rural Mexico. The main characters start off as gargoyles/cameramen for US news/entertainment shows, get disillusioned, and throw in with the Zapatistas. The majority of the book is a depressing look at the underbelly of the high-tech utopia portrayed in most near-future scifi: how the first world needs the third world as slaves. But the ending really didn't work for me: after 3/4ths of the book being a total downer with a very pessimistic view of human nature, the ending springs up with a deus ex machina happy ending. It really felt like the author was trying to find a way for everyone to live happily ever after, but he didn't really believe it. It was a good book, but the ending pissed me off. He just didn't sell it very well. "I want to believe," but I didn't, and I suspect he didn't either.

    I've read two other books by him that I liked a lot more: Circuit of Heaven, and its sequel, End of Days. They're about uploading consciousness, but don't let that put you off: they are actually a new take on it, very aware that the whole "uploading" thing has been pretty much played out. Like The Fourth World, they also spend a lot of time focusing on the have-nots, and people who fell through the cracks.

Alias, by Brian Michael Bendis

    Somehow I missed this when it came out. It's a graphic novel about a former superhero turned private investigator, because she just didn't feel "heroic" enough. This is another one of those "realistic" looks at supheroes, like Bendis's other great series, Powers. This one is really good, pretty bleak. And the interesting thing is, it manages to have a very real-world feel about it while being knee deep in Marvel continuity. There are a few great moments like trying to wade through the bureaucracy to have a meeting with the Fantastic 4. Of course they have a lobby, and a receptionist...
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what the fuck!

Ok, since the last time I looked, did it become impossible to conduct internet commerce without letting some monkey call you on the telephone first??

I've now tried to order a stereo for my car from two different companies, and neither of them would ship the order without a phone number. "I will not give you my phone number, because I don't trust you not to give it to telemarketers," I mailed them. "Ok, we've cancelled your order," they said, "Have A Nice Day, Please Come Again." I'm now making attempt number three.

What the fuck!

I sense the hand of fate telling me, "you only drive your car once a month, it's fine that there's been a big empty hole in the dash where the music used to come out for two years, you don't need this stupid thing."

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