Sunday, December 28, 2008

Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em; Just Don't Shoot 'Em

Today, on a public library terminal, I tried to access an article lamenting the demise of the Winchester Model 94 (January will mark the second anniversary of this American icon). The computer I was using informed me that the site was blocked because it was about "weapons." The same message was received when I tried to go to the Winchester Repeating Arms official site at Once again, the page was about weapons, so I couldn't access it. On a lark, I tried the Smirnoff official site, to which the workstation replied, "Nyet!" But I had no problem going to MTV, VH1, or Philip Morris -- three companies whose products I find much more objectionable than I do those of the fine folks of Winchester Repeating Arms.


Adventure Team Daily - an Adventure Team-related blog.

Paratrooper Rocky at Flickr has a composite image of all the Adventure Team sets from 1970 to 1977.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I've heard it said that the mother-of-the-bride's job is to make sure that the bride gets the wedding that her mother always wanted. This Christmas I found out that dads make certain that their son's always get the Christmas that they always wanted. Namely, Santa's helpers were up Christmas Eve until 11:30 assembling the Millenium Falcon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

He's Dead, Jim

My powers cord got pulled from my computer. Now when I try to start it up, it just restarts all on its own. Its like Groundhog Day. So, I shall be scarce.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brits Attempt To Ruin Eyepatch Industry

h/t ESB: An English Shooter's Blog

Many a Shropshire lad will have a blue Christmas this year thanks to the West Mercia Police. Our friends at the Beeb report that police have asked that Father Christmas not bring air rifles to kids since firing them in public may be deemed "anti-social behaviour."
Parents in Shropshire are being asked not to buy air guns as Christmas presents after youths fired pellets at shop windows.

When air guns are fired in public causing alarm it can be considered as anti-social behaviour, West Mercia Police said.

They could also could be mistaken for a real gun result in a police response.

The youths were spoken to by officers and two toy guns bought from a stall in Market Drayton were confiscated.

"Although these guns were obviously toys, so not illegal to have out in public, the pellets were hitting nearby premises and causing a nuisance," a police spokesman said.

"Air guns are not illegal to have or use in your own home but if the guns look realistic, even if on close inspection they are made of plastic, then they may be illegal to sell or have out in public without reasonable excuse.

"Realistic-looking air guns that do not comply with the specifications of the Violent Crime Reduction Act are illegal to sell or have out in public without reasonable excuse."

[ source : BBC ]



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus

h/t Rob Macdougall

It's Harry Turtledove meets Michael Crichton in this Jurassic National Military Park in Natural Bridge, Virginia. "Professor" Mark Cline, the gentleman who gave the world Professor Cline's Haunted Monster Museum & Dark Maze, takes visitors into the world of "What If?" His premise:
A family of Virginia paleontologists has accidentally dug a mine shaft into a hidden valley of living dinosaurs. Unfortunately, the Union Army has tagged along, hoping to kidnap the big lizards and use them as "weapons of mass destruction" against the South.

( Read more... )

...and Speaking of the War Between The State
Move over Captains Kangaroo and Feathersword. A new Captain has entered the world of playtime fun. His name: Henry Wirz.

That's right! For ages, kids have been able to reenact the War Between The States thanks to plastic blue and gray soldiers. I've heard my father-in-law talk about having them when he was a kid. I remember way back when I was a kid lining up my gray plastic rebels to give the bluebellies hell on the kitchen floor of the double-wide trailer that my dad used as a fishing camp on Lake Seminole. I also remember gleefully finding my son a similiar pack of soldiers in a local pharmacy.

Well, now kids don't have to limit their Civil War in Plastic to battles like Fort Cardboard, Hand Towel Gap, and Couch Pillow Ridge. Thanks to places like Toy Soldier Depot, kids can relive the experience of Camp Sumter, the Andersonville P.O.W. camp.


This is a American Civil War plastic Confederate Andersonville Prison Camp Playset. In brown wood grain type plastic, this stockade is huge! Measures 24" long, 13" wide, 6" tall. Snap together construction, assembly required. Also comes with two sets of double door gates, one on each side of stockade. Also includes a set of 8 guard towers that are 7" tall that can be positioned in any location around the camp. This set works quite well with our BMC Civil War soldiers sets. We do offer a companion set of "Union Prisoners/Confederate Guards" that is sold seperately. Playset in polybag with header card. This stockade has alot of potential, could be used for Western or Frontier forts, or even a Barbarian or Fantasy Fort!


This is a American Civil War Union Prisoners/Confederate Guards plastic soldiers set. Companion set of the Andersonville Prison Camp playset. inlcudes 6 Lean-to's and 6 tents in brown plastic (some restocks of this item now have white plastic tents), and approx. 20 or so blue plastic Union prisoners and several grey Confederate guards. Soldiers are approx. 2 1/4" tall. In poly bag with header card. Though meant to be a companion set for the Andersonville playset, most of these troops could also be used in camp or non-combat duties too!

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toy Design Sheets?" has a collection of Triclops Studio design sheets and model photos from the Sigma 6 Adventure Team Wave 2 and 2.6 Mission Sets, a line that was discontinued before these figures made their way to your local retailer. Of sad note for me personally, there was to have been a Joe Colton, the modern incarnation of the old 70s Adventure Team, complete with what looks like a Pygmy Gorilla all grown up.


Also in this line was to have been a pretty snazzy sniper figure complete with grassy knoll.



Saturday, December 6, 2008

An open letter to


In a recent post by DESTRO, he alleged that " has just received new Images of upcoming G.I. Joe Movie: Rise of Cobra Figures." However, the images that were posted were not G.I. Joes. While the figures look very sharp, they appear to be mersh for the old Rainbow Six video game, not any movie about G.I. Joe. There is no flocked hair. There is no kung-fu grip. The Adventure Team logo is nowhere to be found. And those rifles look way too destructive to bag a White Tiger or a Pygmy Gorilla. They don't even look like they're made by Hasbro.

I realize that one should not expect perfection when posts are made by unpaid volunteers, but, in the future, I would appreciate that if readers are promised pics of new G.I. Joe action figures, they receive pics of new G.I. Joe action figures.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fields of The Nephilim/We Are The Champions

This morning, on the drive-in, I caught bits and pieces of a Coast-to-Coast A.M. interview with Steven Quayle who alleges that the Nephilim walk the earth and seek to bring about an age of cruely and perversity the likes of which haven't been seen since Rick James passed away. His story was supported by a guy alleging to be a C-130 pilot who happened to haul one of the things back to an Ohio air base. To say that his web site is "interesting" is an understatement.

Our Man in Harrisburg reports the release of A&E's Cult TV Spy Collection:

Get ready for international intrigue, secret agents, amazing gadgets, superhuman powers, evil villains, and thrilling face-offs as the heroes of this four-series collection travel the world to battle for justice and avert disaster.

The collection of debut episodes includes Roger Moore and Tony Curtis as wealthy playboys who unravel criminal cases in THE PERSUADERS; Patrick McGoohan’s classic and mysterious British series THE PRISONER; THE CHAMPIONS, a trio of crime fighters with special powers bestowed by a lost Tibetan civilization; and Robert Vaughan as a London private eye in the stylish series THE PROTECTORS. Intelligent, intriguing characters, exotic settings, and fabulous cars – this is some of the most inventive and best-loved television ever produced. If you appreciate a good spy story, this 14-disc set of four fan-favorite spy series will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Order here

I was underwhelmed by The Persuaders, but I've been quite the Prisoner fan for quite some time. Although I never joined, I ordered the membership info for The Prisoner Appreciation Society out of Starlog magazine when I was a kid. I even spent most of ninth grade drawing umbrella-topped pennyfarthing bicycles on any surface I could find at school. And, although, I only ever saw a few episodes of The Protectors, I loved what I saw, and that "Avenues & Alleyways" song remained stuck in my head for twenty-plus years until I finally tracked down the mp3. But, somehow, I missed out on The Champions. Just reading the episode guide, it sounds like I'd have loved the show. Very Challengers of The Unknown.

In the first episode, three agents (a pilot, a decoder, and a scientist) ditch their airplane in the mountains of Tibet, are given super-human abilities, and evade capture by the Chicoms. In later episodes, viewers will find underground Antarctic nuclear explosions, ousted South American dictators, secret Nazi arms caches, Haitian sorcerors, and lethal hallucinogens. In short, "GRENADES=AWESOME."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

They Pulled Out My Economy and Stomped That Sucker Flat


h/t Glenn Beck

They are throwing the kitchen sink at this. The world is not going back to normal after the magnitude of what they have done. When the dust settles this will either work, and the money they have pushed into the system will feed though into an inflation shock.

Or it will not work because too much damage has already been done, and we will see continued financial deterioration, causing further economic deterioration, with the risk of a feedback loop. We don't think this is the more likely outcome, but as each week and month passes, there is a growing danger of vicious circle as confidence erodes.

This will lead to political instability. We are already seeing countries on the periphery of Europe under severe stress. Some leaders are now at record levels of unpopularity. There is a risk of domestic unrest, starting with strikes because people are feeling disenfranchised."

What happens if there is a meltdown in a country like Pakistan, which is a nuclear power. People react when they have their backs to the wall. We're already seeing doubts emerge about the sovereign debts of developed AAA-rated countries, which is not something you can ignore.

--Excerpt from internal memo from Citigroup's chief technical strategist Tom Fitzpatrick

[ source : ]

And if that's not bad enough, the Emergency and Disaster Information Service has a continually updated map of world disaster.

According to J. Steven York, my fellow AT fanatic and the mastermind behind Minions at Work:
The cool part: you know the Adventure Team had just this sort of map running all the time at headquarters. (In fact, with a spare computer and flat-screen, you could build a whole headquarters diorama around this map.)

The depressing part: the AT was set up to do something about these things. The rest of us, not so much. And it never stops. Night and day, 24/7/365, the world is full of trouble.

Fortunately, Tom Lommel, another of Benton Quest's love children, has an answer for all of those problems and more (hint: "GRENADES=AWESOME!").
Scientific Progress Goes RATTA-TATTA-TATTA-TATTA-TAH!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The first four are from the new Istanbul Constabulary set from Pulp Figures.

I ran across this one of De Niro looking like a member of the Adventure Team:

And finally, two hardware photos, one from Vietnam, the other from WWI:


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Combat Walker

Tales of Future Past has a wonderful assortment of things-that-were-to-be-but-never-were. In the Future War section, most of the postings are old magazine covers depicting dreadnaughts with treads and armored ferris wheels, all of which look as if they could have been the inspiration for Michael Moorcock's Land Leviathan.

The exhibit that caught my eye looks more like a cross between a swift boat, a deuce-and-a-half, and the Robot Spy mechanized spider from Jonny Quest or the misbegotten child of an old WW2 DUKW and a 'mech from Battletech.



Believe it or not, this was a dead-serious project by the US Army to allow troops to carry gear over rough terrain and through jungles. They actually built a prototype that looked like an iron elephant that had tangled with a computer mainframe, but it proved impractical because of limitations of the hydraulic systems, driver fatigue while carrying out even the simplest of tasks, and the tendency of the machine to do the Hokey Cokey without provocation.


The logical goal of all this walking machine research was something like this proposed Combat Walker of 1962 that consisted of a caravan of motorised mechanical pack mules led by a manned combat unit.

One must admit it has a certain charm; the tiny cockpit, the tiny periscope, the tiny cannon, the tiny engine; all good.

The tiny armour; not so good.


Friday, November 28, 2008

G.I. "Doh!"

One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld is "The Merv Griffin Show." It's the one in which Jerry and the gang drugs a woman using a mixture of turkey and booze, so that he can play with her deceased father's toy collection which includes "an original G. I. Joe. With a full frogman suit." Yesterday, when the wife and kids were all knocked out from the tryptophan and carbs, I decided to have my own stupid Hasbro-inspired fun. I simpsonized a few of my favorite action figures. Here's the results:

Air Adventurer

Man of Action

Mike Power, Atomic Man

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Over at Mike Worley's Blog, freelance artist Michael Worley posted a Jonny Quest-inspired rough based upon a comic idea he and Brian Miller came up with.
Brian and I are both big Jonny Quest fans, so years ago we came up with our own little character in that vein, and did a comic story with the intent on making it look as much like a '60's cartoon as possible. I've revisited her with this rough, complete with mummies...

For the full version and a lot of other really great stuff, go to

Among my other favorites are a tribute to the supernatural crimefighting trio of Kolchak (the Nightstalker), Barney Fife, and Sam McCloud, and a piece depicting Colonel George "Bright Eyes" Taylor, ANSA.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Girls in Ghillie Suits


Over the years, film viewers have been entertained by the "army of beautiful women" trope. There were Pussy Galore's Cement-Mixers in Goldfinger. Dolemite had his "all-girl army of kung fu killers." When Derek Flint returned from his post-Our Man Flint sabbatical, he found himself "in danger, in the Virgin Islands, where the bad guys are girls." The girls were an "international feminist conspiracy to depose the ruling American patriarchy with a feminist matriarchy." Now these weren't ugly Andrea Dworkin/Valerie Solanas/Hothead Paisan feminazis we're talking about here. They were go-go girls with grenade launchers. Years later, Quentin Tarantino give us Fox Force Five and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

In both the '94-'96 Chechen War and the recent conflict between Russia and the Democratic Republic of Georgia, a "real-life" all-girl army of snipers made life hell for Ivan.

Reporting in's Danger Room, Nathan White gives us "The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians":
The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians
By Nathan Hodge November 25, 2008 | 9:06:47 AM

Russia's top investigator is claiming that the Georgians employed mercenaries during their August war -- including female snipers from Ukraine and Latvia. Reuters reports:

Asked to list the nationalities of the foreign fighters it believes were involved, Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Prosecutor-General's investigative committee said: "America, the Czech Republic, Chechnya, the Baltic States, Ukraine and Turkey."

Bastrykin added: "There were also two snipers ... one from Ukraine and I believe a Latvian woman."

That sounds an awful lot like the mythical "white tights" -- the exotic female snipers of Chechen war lore who were said to pick off hapless Russian conscripts. As the story had it, these stone-cold, blue eyed killers were said to be from the Baltics -- or Ukraine. They were sometimes described as Olympic biathletes recruited as mercenary sharpshooters by Chechen commanders.

Writing in the UK Independent during the 1994-1996 Chechen war, Andrew Higgins observed:

From the very start of the conflict in Chechnya, Moscow has been unable to admit that the Chechens could possibly be fighting on their own. To explain the debacle, Russian propaganda has paraded a far-fetched collection of bloodthirsty foreign mischief-makers, including Afghan mujahedin, Ukrainian Fascists, Islamic fanatics, Chechen migrants from Jordan and, in a crude flourish that smacks of sexually frustrated barrack-room fantasy, female snipers from the Baltics in white tights.

Even the Russian Wikipedia page describes the "white tights" (Russian: belye kolgotki) as a "myth born in military folklore" that was picked up on in official propaganda.

This claim is also reminiscent of the case of Michael Lee White. During the war with Georgia, Russian officials produced his passport as proof that foreign agents had led or advised Georgian troops (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also insinuated that the United States deliberately stirred up the conflict to aid Sen. John McCain in his presidential bid). The Wall Street Journal eventually tracked White down -- in Guangzhou, China, where he was working as an English teacher.

[ source : The Return of 'White Tights': Mythical Female Snipers Stalk Russians | Danger Room from ]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Land of The Ross


"Every well-bred petty crook knows -- the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting."
--Inara Serra

"Where, O Where, O Where Is SHADO?"

Edit: I forget where I got all of these from, so I'm being a bad citer today.

Blog Is Dead
Paul Boutin over at has declared that the blog is dead. He points to things like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as the cutting edge of teh intarwebz. He makes some interesting points, but one commenter pretty much shot his argument with one line:
"Funny. I would not have found this article if it were not for a blog who linked to it."

Heh, me too. Were it not for Rob MacDougall and his blog Old is the New New: Weird History. Mad Science. Occasional Robots, I would never have even heard of Mr. Boutin and his little article.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Ipcressphile

Before he was serving dinner to Christian Bale at stately Wayne Manor, Michael Caine was dishing out hot lead at the other side during the Cold War as Harry Palmer. Recently, after reading what is perhaps the most pathetic "Top Ten Movie Spies of All-Time" list, I concocted my own. Conspicuously absent from the former, Michael Caine's Harry Palmer was part of the reason for my forming my own. Last week, Jason Chalker posted a quick drawing of Michael Caine at his blog The Manly Art Blog. Check it out at

I was inspired to produce my own Bitmap to Beijing. I give you J. K. Rowlings's "Harry Palmer and the Goblet of Fire."


While doing a bit of Harry Palmer googling, I ran across Russell Davies's blog and found a book that I'm bumping to the top of my Wish List at Len Deighton's Action Cook Book.


How cool is that?

  • Harry Palmer (Michael Caine), the secret agent's movie site
  • The Offical Michael Caine Website
  • Spy Corner
  • Friday, November 21, 2008

    अच्ससोरिज़े फॉर वोंद्लेरंद

    When I visited the Key West Ripley's, one of my favorite exhibits was the Vampire Killing Kit. It reminded me of the fake ad they had in the back of Eerie comics Hard John Apple's Nuclear Hit Parade, it was a utility belt that was more Robert Neville than Bruce Wayne.

    When I checked my favorite haunt for China Mieville fan-geekery, I found one of my fellow Bas-Lagians was creating a souvenirs of Perdido Street Station box, and had posted links to other kits for alternate realities. First, there is the "Wonderland expedition kit" based upon the works of Lewis Carroll which can be found at And then artist Alex CF has all kinds of goodies at They include:

  • Menes - The Vampyr Pharoah of Egypt.
  • Golem; life from inanimate clay
  • Mountains of Madness Expedition Case
  • Werewolf Anatomical Research Case
  • and a host of other Lovecraftian and cryptozoological stuff.

    Edit: My titles keeping coming out in Hindi. I shall fix that.
  • Thursday, November 20, 2008

    पोत्शोट्स अत १०:19

    Due to a shortage of highly-trained snipers and the need for "accurate, long-range fire" in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the ground services are making members of infantry squads "designated marksmen." There will be one designated marksman per fire team, and the tool of their trade will be the beloved M-14 rifle, the rifleman's rifle.

    For the full story, see New Lease on Life for the Beloved M-14 at

    Recommended Reading For Anyone Advocating Military Intervention in Somalia
    Experts Say Army in Crisis at

    This one line caught my attention:
    "The Army is forced to pull soldiers from the ranks who have not graduated college and send them to OCS."

    Folks, it's that kind of lowering of the gold bar that had college dropout William Calley leading a rifle platoon in southeast Asia in 1968.

    Sure, the pirates are bad. But, there are folks that get paid big bucks to deal with such waterborne vermin: Maritime Protective Services, Inc..

    Attention GOP
    Aside from one vote when I was too deep in my cups and too immersed in the heady incense of the cathedrals of Academia to know what was good for me, I have voted GOP in every Presidential election since I have been eligible. I was the first in my family to break from Democrat ranks. Even though I wasn't old enough to vote yet, I proudly wore my "Haig for President" button because I believed Reagan would be too soft on the commies. But, I swear, if I get one more "robo-call" telling me that Jim Martin has "the ghey" and supports mandatory first trimester abortions performed by union-run clinics, then I'm going to write in "Al Franken" on every ballot I ever get.

    Knick-Knack Kerouac
    Blue Hipster bleeds retro. As a fan of Kerouac's The Subterraneans, I really dug this piece. If Dan Stivers's attornies ever send me a cease-and-desist, I might have to pawn grandma's snuff box to commission me a new header.

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Mission: Adventure! ... sort of

    Saturday, the Evil DM posted the following about new virtual tabletop campaign he'll be running with several players from the Midnights Lair Message board via Skype and Screen Monkey.

    His summary:
    The characters are part of a global organization known as the World Science Agency, a private organization that recruits Scientists from all countries and conducts research and investigates all manner of scientific phenomena. The bulk of the organization is research oriented and they have facilities throughout the world. The elite of the organization belong to The Special Missions Bureau.

    Each member is a expert in at least one scientific field. the scientists are divided into teams that of 4-6 members and are sent to investigate any scientific issues that may have global impact. Each team is given the code name of a famous scientist (i.e. Team Galileo, Team Edison, Team Del Rio, Team Jung, etc.)

    Because of the active and often dangerous circumstances the teams find themselves in, members are required to be physically as well as mentally fit. Many have military training or extensive field work experience. The Special missions "Boot camp" is in Guyana and has former members of the American Rangers, British SAS, and Russian Spetsnatz amongst its cadre.

    The system that he will be using is Cartoon Action Hour RPG. For a demo, check out For a full chapter, go to

    From one of the players during brainstorming sessions at Midnight's Lair:
    I'm thinking I'd like to play the older scientist guy with the deep voice. "Watch out for that Cynthiallosauras, Timmy. She may look soft and cuddly, but her fur emits a dander that can cause a severe allergic reaction in humans. If you look here, under the fur, you'll see where the dander—well, bless my microscope, in explaining to you this phenomenon, I appear to have touched the fur myself and—AH CHOO! AH CHOO!"

    Doc Sinclair collapses into a sneezing fit while the rest of the crew stands around laughing. [Arms akimbo, chests moving up and down simultaneously, cut to commercial.]
    The full character info on this character (Dr. Alan Sinclair) can be found at

    Other characters are:
    Dr. Khoraj Singh is a native of the Punjabi region of India. He was educated in England and is considered a leading specialist in tropical diseases, as well as a practicing general surgeon He served in the British army medical corps.

    Nate Bowie is originally from Arizona, he is the great grandson of the famous adventurer Jim Bowie. Nate is an exceptional pilot, qualified in virtually every type of aircraft known. Nate was a Marine Corps Aviator Korea. In addition to his piloting skills he is an accomplished mechanic, and an extraordinary marksman. He is well known in Hollywood circles as the best stunt pilot in the business.

    While reading all of this, I also ran across American Science & Surplus, an on-line surplus store that's more Dr. Quest than Sgt. Rock. It's the kind of place a mad scientist would shop to get all of his global domination needs. They have "Robot partz," German Navy scuba gear, old Warsaw Pact mine detectors, and more lab coats and beakers than you can shake a Bunsen Burner at.

    The Swiss Army surplus carrier pigeon backpack ($14.95 each) made me wonder what an evil genius could do with a squadron of winged warriors using American Science & Surplus as their quartermaster. In short, it's a great place to brainstorm for wannabe Cartoon Action Hour GMs.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Don Stivers: Action Artist

    As anyone who has checked out the header to my blog can attest, I have fondness for the art on the old G.I. Joe Adventure Team packaging. I've used the stuff for headers, wallpaper, userpics/icons, but I've never known who did all of that magnificent work. Everyone who knows anything about action figures knows that Don Levine invented G.I. Joe, but it wasn't until this morning I found out who did most of the artwork on the old A.T. boxes. The man's name is Don Stivers.

    Nowadays, Stivers sticks to mostly military art. I've admired his work I've seen in Civil War magazine over the years -- pieces such as "An Act of Compassion" and "Will You Give Us Our Whisky Now?", and never made the connection until now.

    At Master Collector On-Line, Barry Kay wrote the story of the evolution of the Adventure Team 30th anniversary poster: "30 Years of Adventure".

    This year marks the 30th anniversary of the GI Joe Adventure Team figures and accessories. When it came to my attention that there were not any plans to release any "AT" merchandise to commemorate this anniversary, I contacted the GI Joe Collector's Club. I thought that it would be a shame to let the anniversary pass without some acknowledgment and fanfare, so Brian Savage and I discussed what we could do to commemorate the anniversary.

    One thing that has always set the Adventure Team apart from other GI Joe product lines is the artwork that was featured on the packages. Many people collect packaged "AT" sets today simply because of the artwork. The images on the packages bring back fond memories of birthdays and holidays gone by for children of the era. In most cases, the boxes were immediately ripped open and discarded so that the toys inside could be played with, which is why packaged items are so rare and why they are treasured collectibles today.

    One of the ideas that we came up with was to create an Adventure Team poster using artwork from the original packages. With a little investigating, we found that most of the paintings used to create the original packages had been damaged or destroyed a long time ago, and the few that remain are in private collections around the world. That's when the idea changed from a poster using existing artwork to having an all new painting commissioned. Once that decision was made, our first step was to contact the original artist Don Stivers.

    Stivers is a freelance artist, who did work for Hasbro in the 1970's. He was the artist responsible for most of the artwork used on the GI Joe Adventure Team packages, but he is best known for his paintings of military life from the Civil War era through the present day. For years, Don has been publishing limited edition prints of his work, with most of them selling out as fast as they are printed. I interviewed Stivers about his work with Hasbro and GI Joe for the April 1998 issue of the GI Joe Collectors' Club newsletter. He was also a featured guest at the 1999 GI Joe Convention, so we already had an established relationship with him; he knew about our club and what we do for collectors.

    I contacted Stivers to see if he would be interested in painting GI Joe again. It had been twenty-five years since his last GI Joe painting, and he said it would be like working with an old friend, so he agreed. The next step was to come up with the concept. What should the painting depict? Should it be one figure, a group of figures or should we pick one of the most popular Adventure Team sets? How could anyone choose just one? That's when we decided that it should be a collage featuring the original team members and the most popular sets from the "AT" era.

    Brian knows that I am an avid fan and collector of the "AT", so he gave me a lot of latitude in laying out the design for the painting. I felt that it would be best if we limited the items depicted to the ones that were released in the first few years of the "AT" line (1970 - 1973.) I drew a very rough sketch of what I thought the painting should look like and I faxed it over to Brian. I am not an artist (a fact that became very obvious when Brian and Don saw my sketch) but it was good enough to show them what my basic idea was and we all decided to go with it.

    Next, I needed to provide Don with all of the necessary reference material he would need to do the painting. I sent him photos of packaged items, GI Joe figures posed in different positions, and GI Joe books to use as a reference for color and detail. Don assigned me the job of art director on the project and would periodically send me pictures of the painting in progress. He would ask me to point details that needed to be changed. I made suggestions and Don made changes based on them. I had a lot of great conversations with Don over the course of this project, but one of the funniest things that he said to me was right after he received all of the photos I sent to him. He told me that he was looking at artwork that he had done thirty years ago in the photos, and that I should be very happy with the finished painting because he is a much better artist now than he was back then!

    Part of Don's process as an artist is to photograph himself in the same pose as the person (or action figure in this case) that he is painting to use as a model. Don used the same process back in the 70's, and as amazing as it may seem, he has saved all of the photos that he has ever taken. It took some time to find all of them, but he was able to dig up nearly all of the reference photos that he used for the original paintings. Now, not only did we have the original "AT" artist working on this project, but he was using the original reference material that was used thirty years ago as a guide. You can't get more authentic than that.

    When the painting was about 80% finished, I went to Virginia to visit with Don and his family because he wanted me to see the painting in person. When I arrived at his studio, he sat me in a chair directly in front of the painting and told me not to get up until I had examined it thoroughly. He wanted me to write down anything that needed to be changed. No detail was too small he said, so I had to check the hair color of each figure, make sure that they all had the proper insignia on their uniforms, and that they all had the trademark scar on their cheek. We know that GI Joe collectors are sticklers for detail, so everything needed to be accurate. I wrote a few pages of notes and we agreed that some minor changes should be made.

    We spent the rest of the day working out the final details of the project. Don does not release posters of paintings, instead he has his work printed on much heavier stock than a typical poster would be printed on. The end result is a high quality, fine art print rather than a poster. We decided to do the same for this project. Since GI Joe collectors are "collectors" at heart, we thought that they would appreciate the quality of the piece. The last detail that we needed to address was the caption. All of Don's prints have a caption that serves as the spirit of the painting as well as the anniversary that it was created to celebrate.

    When the painting was finished, it was sent to the printer and 100 test prints were created. They were sent to Don so he could review the layout and make sure that the colors were correct. The prints were perfect, so rather than destroy them, we decided to use them as a special "Artists Proof" version of our print. To set them apart from the rest of the print run, Don Stivers has hand signed and numbered each of the Artist's Proofs.

    The "30 Years of Adventure" Limited Edition prints are available at the 2000 GI Joe convention and through the GI Joe Collectors' Club. The hand signed and numbered Artist's Proof is available for $50 and the Limited Edition Print is available for $25. You can find more information on Don Stivers and his limited edition military prints at A lot of work went into this project, and I hope that fans of GI Joe and the Adventure Team get as much joy out of the print as we did from working on this project.

    I also discovered that Don Levine himself was behind the Almighty Heroes Old Testament action figures line that hit the shelves a few years back. His website is now defunct, but it can be found at

    My Top Ten Movie Spies
    1. James Bond (Various, Dr. No, etc.)
    2. Derek Flint (James Coburn, Our Man Flint, etc.)
    3. Dr. Jonathan Hemlock (Clint Eastwood, The Eiger Sanction)
    4. The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Serenity)
    5. David Jones (Patrick McGoohan, Ice Station Zebra)
    6. John Clark (Willem Dafoe, Clear and Present Danger)
    7. Harry Palmer (Michael Caine, The Ipcress File, etc.)
    8. Colonel Kurt Steiner (Michael Caine, The Eagle Has Landed)
    9. Austin Powers (Mike Myers, Austin Powers, etc.)
    10. Matt Helm (Dean Martin, The Silencers, etc.)

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Secret Agent Sham

    Joshua the Anarchist at Spill has posted his listing of the Top Ten Film Spies. Although he acknowledges the greatness that is Bond, the rest of the list is laughable and shows only that Mr. the Anarchist needs to put his keyboard aside and do some spy-movie watchin'. His list includes such spy "greats" as the Hoff's Nick Fury, Vin Diesel's Xander Cage, and Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt. The only excuse for Mr. the Anarchist's list is that he is serving house arrest in Peau-Dunque Bayou, Louisiana and his parole agent only lets him out of the house for one hour to hop down to the local Mom and Pop Video Shop.

    Three words, Mr. the Anarchist: Derek Frikkin' Flint.

    Secret Saturdays Secrets
    Janet Hetherington interviews Jay Stephens, The Secret Saturdays creator, at Animation World Magazine.

    Spy-Fi Trivia Moment
    Phil Morris, the guy that does the voice for Doc Saturday on The Secret Saturdays, is the son of Greg Morris, who played Barney Collier on the old Mission: Impossible television series.

    Quote of The Year
    I'm only 43. Still a young man. Maybe a little frayed around the edges, but who wouldn't be between my work and raising two boys. Crap, who am I kidding, my looks are going down the toilet faster than an unwanted pregnancy on prom night. I was Rusty Venture, boy friggin' wonder. Now look at me.

    --Thaddeus Venture

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Homeland Security

    JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

    U.S. Secret Service agents perform a security sweep on Ukrainian cultural performers before Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko and U.S. President George W. Bush arrive at St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev, April 1, 2008.

    h/t Feral Jundi

    Magazine. TIME Magazine
    To mark the centenary of Ian Fleming and the theatrical release of Quantum of Solace, TIME takes a look at the World of Bond: the bad guys, the booze, the broads, and more.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    The Denali Diogenes

    The Denali Diogenes
    Given my own recently revived interest in the outdoors, I've been reading about Christopher McCandless, a born-with-a-silver-Brunton-MY-Ti™-Spork-in-his-mouth hobo who journeyed into Palin country with minimal food and gear, hoping to turn an abandoned Fairbanks City Transit System bus into his own private Thoreauvian hermitage. It was there that he died in 1992, after living for five months off wild plants and the game he could bag with his Remington .22.

    Before his grand adventure, McCandless matriculated at Emory University where he wrote a number of opinion pieces for the student newspaper, The Emory Wheel. Graduating in 1990, McCandless left behind a number of pieces that seem very interesting in light of the impending vice-presidency of Joe Biden, the election of America's first black president, and the hijackings on 9/11.

    On September 11, 1987, penned the following about Joe Biden:
    He has reportedly been seen wandering aimlessly, uttering incoherent phrases like, ‘ light of Powell’s special role I want a justice with an open mind...I don’t want someone with a predisposition on every major issue...I can be President...’”

    And now, twenty-one years later, he is about to be one heartbeat away.

    Then, on April 1, 1988, on the subject of Jesse Jackson's ill-fated bid for the Presidency, McCandless wrote:
    Some people might argue that Jackson ‘doesn’t want’ to be President. They maintain that Jackson is merely in the race to try to benefit the cause of black citizens. (...) Is it to become precedent that a black man can never be on the ticket because that ticket could then ‘never win’? Or is there supposed to be some ‘better time’ in the future for a black man to be on the ticket? When would this be, year 2000, year 3000?

    The Democratic voters are the backbone of the party, and through their votes they have shown a strong interest in Jackson as the nominee. Let’s leave these ‘can’t’ win’ people to rot in their mire.”

    The "better time," as we have seen, was 2008.

    In April 12, 1988's “Hijacking crisis shows new tactics are needed to deal with hostages,” McCandless, a student of history and cultural anthropology, wrote:
    “The recent events that have transpired in the Kuwaiti airliner hijacking clearly demonstrate that a bold new policy is needed to rectify such situations. (...)

    First, airport security must be tremendously overhauled. It is essential that an adequate military force brandishing assault rifles be present at the airport. (...) A couple of security guards with pistols is not going to offer adequate protection of airport gates. (...)

    Second, security measures during the flight must also be tightened. Central to this idea is the in-flight guard himself. In-flight guards should carry assault rifles and wear some type of body armor. (...)

    Armed only with his Leatherman multi-tool, Mo' Atta would have had a hard time convincing an H&K-armed Air Marshal to let him fly the plane.

    After Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild and a film of the same name made McCandless famous, Emory University compiled several of these excerpts at The Emory Wheel's website. To read the full text of these excerpts, go to

  • Chris McCandless segment on 20/20
  • Into The Wild Trailer
  • Reel Geezers review Into The Wild
  • Monday, November 10, 2008


    Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Armistice Day to those of you who remember the Kaiser. Whatever you call it, and whatever you call yourself -- 'Publicrat, Democan, Liblab, Neocon, Paleaocon, Blue Dog, Yellow Magnet, Red Stater, or Green -- there are men who are in harm's way and generations of men and women who have stood on the ramparts, huddled in trenches, squatted in ball turrets, and manned battle stations when our nation has been threatened.

    As a rule, I try to avoid calls to action. But, when I do, I don't call upon my readership to do anything that I haven't done myself. So, if you've got an extra five bucks, or ten, or whatever, show those who are still serving a bit of thanks. Click on the button below and send some love.



    h/t The Designer Monologues

    Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin are now cult names in the thriller genre with well over a million copies of the Modesty Blaise series sold worldwide. Penguin India has resurrected the Modesty Blaise series and is releasing them as part of their new series—Retro Revival. Time to start saving my rupees.

    ( Read more... )


    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    TSA: Finishing Up Where The Luftschutz Left Off


    I've been a fan of The Collings Foundation ever since they parked their B-17 bomber at our local airstrip. Thanks to them I, and legions of history geeks like me, have been able to walk the catwalk between the bomb bays on a B-24 Liberator, stare down the sites of a .50 caliber machine gun from the waistgunner position on a Flying Fortress, and hear the trademark whup-whup-whup of a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter. Now, the very existence of this noble group of living historians is threatened by a piece of backdoor legislation.

    I received the following in the organizations newsletter. Any help would be appreciated:
    Tuesday November 4th, 2008

    Critical Information!
    TSA Proposed Legislation
    Bottom line: If this TSA Legislation passes, it will be the end of the Wings
    of Freedom tour and programs similar.
    We need your support. This is time sensitive. Please read below:

    TSA Proposed Legislation Represents Potentially Significant Regulation of Private Aircraft Operations

    RE: Docket Number TSA 2008-0021, Large Aircraft Security Program, Other Aircraft Operator Security Program and Airport Operator Security Program

    On October 30, 2008, the TSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) with only a 60 day comment period (which includes several holidays and a period when, typically, Washington becomes a “Ghost Town”) calling for sweeping new security requirements on the operation of all aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds. The Collings Foundation’s preliminary assessment of the proposal is that this legislation would be so cumbersome, far reaching, and virtually impossible to comply with, that our flying of historic aircraft would not be possible.

    Because of the onerous requirements and encroachment on personal freedoms suggested in the NPRM, three major aircraft associations, AOPA, EAA and NBAA, have called for extending the comment period to120-days, plus public hearings to evaluate the impact and interpretation of the proposed ruling.

    Industry estimates are that over 15,000 aircraft, 10,000 operators and 300 airports will be impacted by the 67-page proposal. New concepts of third party auditors, security program training and approval, and third party watch list checking firms with timely approvals-- which would allow the general aviation community to comply with these regulations do not exist, thereby resulting in a real Catch 22.

    Furthermore, there seem to be no discussions of the cost vs. benefits of this huge Federal Program, and who would pay for it other than “the General Aviation Community.” As it is proposed, TSA-2008-0021 would have an enormous impact on general aviation, plus violation of Constitutional Rights issues.

    As to its effect on the Collings Foundation, our assessment is that, as proposed, it would be fatal to the Wings of Freedom Tour and our ability to take these historic aircraft around the country and share them with millions of Americans annually. Please note that with some concern for political correctness please use “historic aircraft” rather than “bombers” or “warbirds” in your communications and correspondence.

    The bottom line is that we need your help both short-term and long-term. Short-term, we need you to support the aviation communities’ request to extend the comment period by a minimum of at least 60 days. The current deadline for comments is December 29, 2008.

    Official Response: You may submit comments, identified by the TSA docket number TSA 2008-0021 to the Federal Docket Management System, a government-wide electronic docket management system, using any and/or all of the following methods:

    * By Mail, In Person or Fax to the Docket Management Facility, US Dept. of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington DC 20590-0001. Fax 202-493-2251.

    * Electronically through the Federal eRulemaking portal at Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    * Higher Level Responses. If any of the Aviation Committee members of either the House or Senate, are your representatives, the same appeal for extension could be even more effective. For a list of Transportation/Aviation Committee members in the House of Representatives and Senate, click the appropriate link below:

    House of Representatives: click here.

    Senate: click here.

    D. Contacting your Senator or Representative: You can reach your Senator or Representative by calling 202-224-3121 and asking for your Congressman. Upon being connected to the office, ask for the legislative assistant in charge of transportation issues. You won’t get to speak to your Senator or Representative directly, but their aides for the respective areas are the right channels to get action.

    E. Your Comments may also be sent to:

    1. The Honorable Edward “Kip” Hawley, Assistant Secretary, Transportation Security Administration, 601 South 12 th Street, Arlington, VA 22202-4220.

    2. Branch Chief-Policy, Plans & Stakeholder Affairs, Office of General Aviation, TSNM (TSA-28), Transportation Security Administration, 601 South 12 th Street, Arlington, VA 22202-4220.

    Please join in with us now to get this comment period extended. In the longer term, we’ll be updating you further on the interpretation of this proposal, discussions regarding how this might impact us and what we can do about it. Thank you very much for your support.
    Please take 5 minutes and contact the above representatives! Your support is what counts!

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Obama Macht Frei

    Thank God the fascist police state of the Bush Administration is about to come to an end.

    "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," he said Wednesday. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."
    --Barack Obama

    What exactly does he mean by "civilian national security force?" That could be anything from Dad's Army to the Tonton Macoutes.

    [ source : AARP Bulletin ]

    Speaking of jack-booted thugs, here's a little video depicting the bounty hunter try-outs from The Empire Strikes Back by Jim Mehsling at

  • Pre-election commentary by aging seminal alternative rock icon Henry Rollins
  • Obama, Shaman: The candidate’s post-masculine charisma tempts America in the age of Oprah by Michael Knox Beran
  • Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Decision '08

    Over the past couple of weeks, it seems that most of the people I've talked to and most of the blogs that I have read have been complaining about the election. If there's one thing that most folks can agree on, it's that they are ready for the whole damnable affair to be over with. Whether it's Republican robocalls or orisons to Obama, people are tired of Decision '08.

    This weekend, I found the remedy for what ails us: camping.


    This weekend, our Cub Scout unit spent some time in the woods. We shot BB guns, toyed with computer parts, learned about rocks, and went through PT. Not once did I think about John McCain or Barack Obama or their fight over who gets to hang George W. Bush's albatross around their distinguished necks. The great decision to ponder over was "hamburger or hot dog." The most important race of our lifetime (which at this point was an average of 8.5 years) was a relay.

    It reminded me of George Carlin's old suggestion concerning elections: find someone who is going to vote the opposite of the way you are going to vote and take them fishing on election day.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Rhodes Endorses Obama

    A few days ago, I voiced my displeasure at Ron Howard's video depicting Sheriff Andy Taylor's endorsement for Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential race. But then it hit me. That didn’t necessarily have to be Andy Taylor. A black-and-white Andy Griffith could also be Private Will Stockdale, the Reverend Samuel Whitehead, or, even better, Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes from A Face in The Crowd. After all, if Rhodes endorsed Obama, he wouldn’t be the first “irrepressible Arkansas traveler” who’s charmed his way into America’s hearts to do so.

    A Face in The Crowd was a 1957 Elia Kazan film tracing the rise and fall of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (played to perfection by Andy Griffith), an Ozark ne’er-do-well who picks-and-grins his way to the top of the Big Rock Candy Mountain of national television stardom only to topple off when his fans and followers see the vile hillbilly brute behind the curtain of country charm.

    “I know it’s not what the people want to hear ... but I know what’s best for them.”

    “We've got to face it, politics have entered a new stage, television. Instead of long-winded debates, the people want slogans. ‘Time for a CHANGE!’ … Punch-lines and glamour.”

    “Secretary for National Morale is a job that I was born for! In a time of crisis … who else could rabble the people … ? Who else could move the people to action … ? You are looking at America's answer to the crying need….”
    -- Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Sit On It, Richie

    Perhaps the most viral video to hit the system of tubes known as the internet last week was the one in which Ron Howard reenacts his roles as Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham in order to demonstrate "the importance of voting for Barack Obama" this year. In pursuit of a Democrat victory in the presidential race, he also recruited both Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler to revisit the roles of Sheriff Andy Taylor and Arthur Fonzarelli respectively.

    None of the GOP ship-jumpings, neither that of Scott McClellan, Ken Adelman, William Weld, nor even that of Colin Powell, saddened me nearly as much as Howard's momentary return to Mayberry and Milwaukee.

    Growing up, I was a fan of both Happy Days and The Andy Griffith Show. I squandered quite a few Tuesday evenings watching the antics of those crazy kids down at Arnold's. Back in my son's closet still hangs my original "Fonzie" leather jacket and a "Fonz" t-shirt that my mother decided to preserve for some thirty-odd years so that I could hand them down as some sort of pop culture heirloom.

    I felt an even greater bond for The Andy Griffith Show. Friends have even commented that I was Opie Cunningham growing up since I came from a small town and my father was a one of the higher-ups in local law enforcement who shared Andy Taylor's country charm, common sense, and folksey, yet firm, approach to justice. Like my dad, Andy was a gentle, loving father, yet one who made certain that his son knew where the wood-shed was located and its primary purpose in early childhood growth and development.

    So one can imagine my dismay when I saw Opie and Andy down by the fishin' hole singing down-home hosannas for Barack Obama. I wasn't surprised that either supported a Democrat. After all, it is Hollywood, and I even remember reading that Andy Griffith traditionally supports Democrat candidates. Besides, my father was a lifelong Democrat as well (granted, by 1984, he was a Reagan Democrat, but a card-carrying Democrat just the same).

    My disappointment came from Howard's use of these characters for politics, period. Granted, it would have been easier for me to swallow had the Taylor family been praising John McCain, but it still would have been a shame that Howard and Griffith exploited the love that those of us in fly-over country have for that show to get some politician elected. Although LBJ was President for much of the life of the show, his size 11 shit-kickers never touched the sidewalks in Mayberry, North Carolina. Floyd the Barber never talked about that handsome young man Jack Kennedy. Neither Richard Nixon or Barry Goldwater ever showed up (although folks would be right nice to them if they did). Sure, Andy had to call on Raleigh to supplement the Sheriff's Office budget every once in a while, but Washington? Washington was the Father of Our Country whose picture was hanging on the wall in Miss Helen Crump's classroom, a person, not a place.

    Mayberry is rural America's Brigadoon, and by donning that red toup' and digging his striped green shirt and fishing pole out of mothballs, Ron Howard has broken that enchantment.

    [ The Video ]

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    HOPE and CHANGE Or Else...

    If anybody knows anger, it's the Ragin' Cajun himself James Carville:
    James Carville, a strategist for former President Bill Clinton and advisor to his wife Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign, hinted Democrat supporters could be angry if Mr Obama lost, given his lead in the polls.

    "If Obama goes in and he has a consistent five-point lead and loses the election, it would be very, very, very dramatic out there," he told CNN.

    James Tate, of Detroit's police department, which dealt with violent celebrations after the Detroit Tigers won the baseball World Series in 1984, told congressional newspaper The Hill that problems could flare whichever candidate wins.

    "Either party will make history and we want to prepare for celebrations," he said. "The worst-case scenario could be a situation that requires law enforcement."

    In Chicago, where Mr Obama will hold a rally on November 4, the police department has been meeting to discuss security plans for the night. Law enforcement departments in Philadelphia and Cincinnati are also making preparations in case of problems.


    Hilary Shelton, director of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People's (NAACP) Washington bureau, said there could be a repeat of problems witnessed in some black inner cities in 2004, where voters waited for up to eight hours to cast their ballots.

    In response to the expected high turnout among racial and ethnic minority voters, intense interest in the election and online rumours about unrest, the NAACP has written to election officials in every state asking them to try to prevent any problems that could lead to voters being "stymied" or "disenfranchised" such as too few voting machines or staff.


    Meanwhile, in a blog posting entitled 'A McCain "Win" Will Be Theft, Resistance Is Planned', David Swanson, Washington director of and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, writes: "If your television declares John McCain the president elect on the evening of November 4th, your television will be lying.

    "You should immediately pick up your pre-packed bags and head straight to the White House in Washington, DC, which we will surround and shut down until this attempt at a third illegitimate presidency is reversed.

    "We may be there for days or weeks or months. But we must be there. We must be there by the millions. We must show each other, and the nation, and the world that we have had enough, that we will not stand for one more stolen election, that we will not give in to fear, lies, theft, and intimidation."


    [ source : ©The Daily Telegraph, London ]

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    The Cryptid Who Came in From The Cold

    From one of our favorite blogs, the Lair of the Evil DM, I present a rather interesting gaming idea. Aside from a brief dalliance with King of the Monsters on the old NeoGeo, I really haven't had a desire to play the part of a radioactive Asian behemoth. So when I first saw the words "GURPS Godzilla," my first thought was, "Meh," and I kept on scrolling. However, once I saw the red-and-black Adventure Team icon, a cluster of Joes, and the Mobile Support Vehicle, I had to read the fine print and follow the links. And while what I found was no Mission: Adventure!, it was enough to capture the imagination of anyone who calls himself a sixties/seventies superscience spy-fi fan.

    Speaking of spy-fi, I've run across another blog that I feel compelled to add to ye olde blogrolle, The Spy Report. Based out of, it is the personal haunt of Wesley Britton who has penned a number of books on fictional espionage and has even lectured at the International Spy Museum. Right now, he has one helluvan auction at eBay. If I had two pfennigs to rub together, I'd definitely be bidding.

    Getting back to strange critters, BBC News reports that palaeontologists in China have discovered "the fossil of a 'bizarre' feathered dinosaur from the era before birds evolved." Scientists believe that Epidexipteryx's feathers evolved from aesthetics rather than function. In other words, they were used to pick up chicks rather than pick up the proto-bird himself and make him airborne.

    ( Read more at the Beeb... )

    Cops Gear Up for Hope and Change

    h/t CBS News

    October 22, 2008, 3:15 PM
    Police Prepare For Possible Election Night Riots
    Posted by Brian Montopoli

    Will election night bring civil unrest?

    Police departments countrywide think it's a possibility, and they're preparing for riots or other violent reactions to a McCain or Obama victory, The Hill reports.

    There is particular concern that a loss by Obama, who has built a big lead in the polls, could prompt significant problems.

    "Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations," The Hill writes. Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia are among the cities that plan to have extra police deployed.

    “Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” Oakland Police Department spokesman Jeff Thomason said.

    Oakland will have extra units trained to deal with riots deployed and SWAT teams on standby when the results come in. Many police departments are preparing as they might for the possibility of a championship win or loss by a local sports team.

    Some believe riots could come no matter who wins.

    “If [Obama] is elected, like with sports championships, people may go out and riot,” Bob Parks, an online columnist and black Republican candidate for state representative in Massachusetts, told The Hill. “If Barack Obama loses there will be another large group of people who will assume the election was stolen from him….. This will be an opportunity for people who want to commit mischief.”

    Talkin' Tall: OSC Goes All Buford Pusser on The Press

    Orson Scott Card rips the press a new one for failing to hone in on Senator Obama's getting money from Fannie Mae and advice from its drummed-out-of-the-corps CEO, Senator Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank's denial that there were any mortgage lending problems, their refusal to grant Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and their pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed in spite of warnings from Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President, and the Secretary of the Treasury.
    Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?

    by Orson Scott Card

    October 20, 2008
    An open letter to the local daily paper -- almost every local daily paper in America:

    I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

    This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

    It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

    What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

    The goal of this rule change was to help the poor -- which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house -- along with their credit rating.

    They end up worse off than before.

    This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

    Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

    Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

    I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

    Instead, it was Sen. Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

    As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" ( "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

    These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

    Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

    What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

    Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

    And after Fred Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

    If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

    But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign -- because that campaign had sought his advice -- you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

    You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.

    If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.

    If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

    There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension -- so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

    If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

    Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

    But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie -- that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad -- even bad weather -- on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

    If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth -- even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

    Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means. That's how trust is earned.

    Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time -- and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

    Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter -- while you ignored the story of John Edwards' own adultery for many months.

    So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?

    Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

    You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women (NOW) threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

    That's where you are right now.

    It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

    If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

    Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

    You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

    This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

    If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe -- and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

    If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

    You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.

    [ source : The Rhinoceros Times ]

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Saturdays on Wednesday

    h/t Chris Roberson

    Anyone who has been following the keystrokes made by this particular monkey knows that I, like my first-born, am a great fan of The Secret Saturdays. Therefore, they would understand my delight when I saw an imagined The Secret Saturdays comic book cover done a la Jack Kirby (thanks to the brilliant mimickry of Juan Ortiz).

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    She Blinded Me With Super-science

    As part of his series on "Secret Services," Chris Roberson today discussed several special organizations from comic-dom: Section Zero from Image Comics, Amalgam's "What-If" portmanteau Challengers of the Fantastic, and John Byrnes's Danger Unlimited. For anyone who enjoys superscientific spy-fi as much as I do, I highly recommend dropping by Mr. Roberson's neighborhood frequently. In that, past he has written about everything from the BPRD to the Diogenes Club, and, most recently, has commented that Section Zero inspired his own work.

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Abortions Without Borders

    During the Wednesday night presidential debate, in his response to a Roe v. Wade question, Barack Obama said, “Nobody’s pro-abortion.” If he believes that, he’s never met the crew of the Good Ship Aurora. Apparently disatisfied with limiting their exports to machinery, chemicals, fuels, and foodstuffs, the Dutch have added another number to their trade repetoire: abortions.

    In the Spanish port of Valencia, six women boarded the Aurora, the flagship of Women on Waves, a Dutch evangelical abortion group. the Aurora took on six passengers in the Spanish port of Valencia Friday, all women with the common goal of terminating their pregnancies in international waters in order to flout Spain's anti-abortion laws.
    Abortion is legal in Spain in some circumstances, including a doctor's finding that having a baby is likely to harm the mother's physical or mental health. Women who have been raped can end their pregnancies in the first trimester, while those carrying fetuses with severe defects can get abortions up to 22 weeks.

    Not exactly abortion-on-demand, but it ain't exactly the Spanish Inquisition either.

    In spite of opposition from groups like the Spanish Association of Catholic Doctors (FAMC) and a phalanx of quayside opposition and a flotilla of maritime protestors, the Women on Waves were able to add six to the 100,000 abortions that have occurred over the past decade under Spain's so-called draconian abortion laws.

    The Women on Waves Spanish cruise is nothing new. Their tour of clinical carnage has also dropped anchor in Ireland (2001), Poland (2003), and Portugal (2004).

    I remember that France had problems with some loony radicals in a boat once.




    I guess the Women on Waves hope that the Spanish, Irish, Polish, and Portuguese will quit defending those pesky fetuses and worry about things that are important in Amsterdam, like making certain that no pigs are castrated before they are butchered for meat.

    [ sources : Times Online, The Times of The Internet ]

  • Obama's Abortion Extremism by Robert George
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    HOPE they don't CHANGE your vote

    To paraphrase an overly paraphrased Forrest Gump, "I may not be a smart man, but I know what #*(^@#&! voter fraud is!"

    Although Georgia has typically been a "red state" ever since the Empire State of the South has felt the need to do penance for sending our native son, Jimmy Carter, to the White House, most of our cities are Democrat strongholds.

    Take for example, Albany, Georgia. It is a town full of Obamamania. Signs emblazoned with the Senator's signature Gotham font are everywhere. Everyone from S to XXXL is sporting Obama t-shirts, and community organizers are bending over backwards to register voters from the Democratic demographic.

    Apparently, one local social service agency has taken it upon themselves to not only register the mentally-challenged, drive them to the polls, and help them press the touch-screen. They have also decided to press the touch-screen to choose Obama, even when their MR client wants to vote for McCain.

    ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An independent investigation will look into allegations that a mentally challenged man's presidential vote was commandeered by the aide who helped him read the ballot.

    ( Read more... )

    Justice's family tells us Wednesday aides tried to convince Jack he pushed the wrong button, but Jack says that wasn't the case. He pushed the button he was told to push and that was the button for Obama, not his choice John McCain.

    [ source : WALB-TV ]

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Civil Baer Patrol

    On October 16, 2008, on The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, Tavis talks with former CIA officer Robert Baer, author of The Devil We Know.

    Robert Baer is one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East. In a 20-year CIA career, he's publicly acknowledged field assignments in India, Lebanon and Kurdish northern Iraq. Baer documented his experiences in the best seller See No Evil—the basis for the acclaimed film, Syriana. He's also presented four documentary series on the origins of suicide bombing. He writes regularly for and has contributed to various publications, including Vanity Fair. The Devil We Know is Baer's latest book.

  • Commentary: The CIA's Gift to Conspiracy Theorists By Robert Baer
  • About The Devil We Know
  • Mr. Baer's bio
  • Monday, October 13, 2008

    Not-So-Fresh Ayers

    Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing of The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple, a Reform Jewish temple located at 1589 Peachtree Street, NE in Atlanta. Angered by Rabbi Jacob Rothschild's outspoken support of the civil rights movement and his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the bombers detonated between forty and fifty sticks of dynamite which tore through the northern wall of the synagogue, one of Atlanta's oldest and wealthiest. Fortunately, in spite of the desecration and architectural damage, no one died or was injured in the bombing.

    Shortly thereafter, United Press International received a call from a man who identified himself as "General Gordon of the Confederate Underground" who claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the next several days, GBI agents and local law enforcement combed the city in one of the most extensive dragnets in Georgia history. Their search netted five men. All were members of anti-Semitic organizations like the National States' Rights Party and the Knights of the White Camellia.

    Of the five, only one stood trial: a thirty-four year old engineer and amateur inventor named George Bright, a New York native who had spent his adult years in Atlanta. Twelve years earlier, Bright had enlisted in The Columbians, a neo-Nazi organization founded by Bright's fellow New Yorker-turned-Georgian Horace Loomis, a Princeton dropout. Over the years, Bright ended up on the membership roster the one fringe group after another.

    Investigators uncovered plenty of evidence of Bright's animosity toward Rothschild and his temple, such as a handwritten note in Bright's home threatening the Rabbi, a 1958 arrest for carrying anti-Semitic placards outside the Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution offices, and his presence in May of that year at a speech given by the Rabbi from which Bright was forcibly ejected for heckling Rothschild..

    Less than two months after the Temple bombing, Bright stood trial for the first time. Ten days later, it ended in a mistrial -- the result of a 9-3 split among the jurors. For the second trial, Bright retained the silk-suited Reuben Garland, a colorful, and, at times, contemptous attorney, who nonetheless secured his client an acquittal. The cases against his co-defendants, which all depended upon Bright's conviction, quickly fell apart and charges against them were dropped.

    When Melissa Faye Greene, author of The Temple Bombing, spoke with Bright, he still maintained his innocence (for what it's worth, Greene believes him), but remained unrepentant in his extreme beliefs.

    It makes me wonder how many Ayers apologists would give McCain a pass if it had been Bright and his wife who had hosted the gathering at which McCain announced his candidacy for the Arizona Senate. Would they be so willing to let by-gones be by-gones for a bombing that occurred in 1958 as opposed to one that happened in 1970 (Oh, and one that happened in 1971. Oh, wait, and then there's the one that happened in 1972)?

    How's this for a defense of the Bright-McCain relationship:
    If Bright is such a Awful Terrorist Threat, why did the jury acquit him?

    End of story.

    Would that be such an "easy shut-down" of anyone suggesting that voters think twice before casting a ballot for candidate that has a skeleton with a penchant for dynamite in his closet as Gareth-Michael Skarka suggests?

    Easy shut-down to any ConservaTron who froths about so-called "terrorist" (read here: White trust-fund kid protesting against the Vietnam War) William Ayers and his "friendship" (read here -- serving on the same charitable board) with Obama:

    If Ayers is such a Awful Terrorist Threat, why did the Feds drop all charges against him when he turned himself in to the authorities in 1980?

    Given the reaction to a stupid statement made by Trent Lott on the occassion of Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday ("When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."), I would say, "No. It would not be an 'easy shut-down.'" By-gones are never by-gones in politics. Nevermind that Lott was only seven years old when Thurmond ran in 1948 (that's a year younger than Obama was when William Ayers bombed the NYPD HQ, two years younger than Obama was when Ayers bombed the Capitol, and three years younger than Obama was when Ayers preceded the Atta Gang in an attempt to make the Pentagon go boom).

    Both parties have serious double standards. Sean Hannity and others of his ilk blasted the sexual scenes in Democrat Senator James Webb's literary work, yet they defended Scooter Libby in spite of the bestiality, pedophilia, prostitution, biastophilia, and necrophilia in his novel. But this time, it's not just some naughty parts in a novel we're talking about. It's association with a man who is an unrepentant terrorist that is being called into question.

    While I don't think it is out-of-bounds to bring up Obama's middle name, I do think it is tacky and beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate. To paraphrase chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), "Just because you can doesn't mean you should." The same goes for the whole madrasa question. I would much prefer a candidate raised in a moderate Muslim community than someone who has spent twenty years in under the religious tutelage of Trinity United Church of Christ's Jeremiah Wright. But I do think it is cricket to question Obama's association (however small it may be) with a guy who thinks as of 9/11/2001 said, "I don't regret setting bombs," and stated that he found "''a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance.'' I also think it's fair-game to question Obama's association with Mrs. Ayers (a.k.a. Bernadine Dohrn), the woman who J. Edgar Hoover called "the most dangerous woman in America," who commented on the Tate-LaBianca murders thus:
    ''Dig it! Manson killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they shoved a fork into a victim's stomach.''

    Considering the much ado made of John Hagee's McCain endorsement, I think the Ayers-Obama question should be explored. What's good for the Goose is good for the Maverick. And vice versa.

  • pbaonline: the website of public broadcasting atlanta
  • The Temple
  • New Georgia Encyclopedia: Temple Bombing
  • "A Church, A School" -- Ralph McGill's 10/13/1958 Editorial in response to the bombing
  • The Designer Monologues: The Whole Ayers Thing
  • No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen - New York Times
  • The Black Kennedy: But does anyone know the real Barack Obama? - Peter Hitchens