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Fact-checking Crankshaft

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • March 18, 2014 - 12:17 PM

Today’s comic:

If nothing else, it gives you a look into the unrepentant DC fan. Not the cool DC of today, with Batman and . . . well, with Batman. But the old days when Flash comics had stories like “The DA Flash Weighed 1,000 Pounds.” From the issue description:

Grodd gets a job at a circus and with his knowledge of communicating with gorillas has the normal apes of the circus steal parts for him to construct a new device: One that increases the Flash's weight to 1000 pounds, rending him almost inert and striking him with amnesia, Grodd puts Flash in a display as part of the circus' freakshow.

Recalling who he is, Flash finds a way to remove the excess mass by deflating himself with a pin, he then beats Dawson unconscious and turns him over to the police.

Okay. Of course. With a pin. Is that really #115 in his hand? Seems like it. 

But Flash #115 came out in 1960. “Amazing Tales #15” came out in 1962. This doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, I think this comment over at one of the pages devoted to dissecting Crankshaft speaks for many:

Good point.

370 It’s been a trying time for those disinclined to believe in conspiracies. All the confusing details about the missing airliner seem to support the idea of nefarious doings, but there’s nothing conclusive or convincing. A few days ago we learned the pilot was upset because a political leader had been jailed on trumped-up charges, as if that would make someone kill everyone on the plane by climbing too high. then sitting at the controls for seven hours until he ran out of gas. Occam’s Razor, and all that. On the other hand, you should be suspicious of any explanation that feels right, because you’re looking to confirm something you want to believe. All of which is a roundabout way of saying “this is my preferred explanation of the day.” Fire in the cargo hold, says this Wired article.

Why the sharp left turn?

When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.

This is being debunked by those who say the turn was pre-programmed into the computer, which was today’s piece of news. “Pre-programmmed” suggests it was done in advance as part of the Nefarious Plot. Or it could mean the pilot or co-pilot entered it intentionally during the emergency, right?

Everyone is learning just enough about how planes work to remind you that most of us don’t know anything about the subject.

GO BRAGH ETC Was there a Dark Side to green cupakes? I don’t know why, but this strikes me as BS. You know, Blarney Sociology. NPR:

Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick's Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation's darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.

The reason, Kinealy explains, is the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, which forced so many Irish to flee mass starvation in their homeland in search of better times in America and elsewhere. Those who stayed behind turned to desperate measures.

"People were so deprived of food that they resorted to eating grass," Kinealy tells The Salt. "In Irish folk memory, they talk about people's mouths being green as they died.”

I’m not Irish, so I didn’t grow up with a folk memory that said people died with green mouths. I assumed things were green because that was Ireland’s symbolic color. You know, the “Emerald Isle” and all that. But where did that term come from? It was first used in a poem by William Drennan, whose daughter married John Andrews, son of a family of successful flax merchants. (This is off the top of my head, but you can check Wikipedia if you like.) (Kidding. Cribbing it all from the entry.) One of their descendants was Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic. And now you know . . . well, there really isn’t a story here, at all. Let’s move along.

DESIGN Thank you, Mr. Craig Ward, for raising the issue of tiresome minimalist movie posters.

By and large, the industry players mandate that Mr Pitt's name be front and centre, at a certain percentage of the poster width. And yes, with a photo. And if you think the production company is paying for a poster without their logo displayed proudly on it then please think again.

All of those elements are, sadly, there for a reason, designed by committee. And to pretend that you're a better designer than someone else just because you can circumnavigate that whole process from the comfort of your laptop, is as good as saying that you'd be a better driver if there were fewer corners and no other cars on the road.

Read the whole thing. I find them annoying because A) they’re always served up by aggregator pages that insist they’re stunning and incredible, and because they only work if you know what the movie’s about. For example, would you go see a movie based on this poster?

Of course! JAWS was awesome! Here’s a real minimalist Jaws poster. Cute. But JAWS is not cute. The original has teeth and imminent mayhem - and it's actually rather minimal by 70s standards.

Hey, here’s another minimalist poster I just made:

They might get that one in France. At least it has the star's name. 

TECH This headline might be a bit extreme: “Popcorn Time is Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare, And It Can’t Be Stopped.” Except that Popcorn Time is Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare. Also, it can’t be stopped. TechCrunch:

Popcorn Time makes it as easy to watch pirated content as Napster did to download songs. It’s a nightmare for Hollywood.

The creators of the original Popcorn Time stated emphatically that it’s perfectly legal to run the app because neither you nor the app “hold” the movies – the Internet holds them. Once installed, however, the program throws a warning screen forcing the user to essentially agree that it’s a bit shady.

The article says it’s Napster for movies, but your average teen torrenting like mad might give you an odd look: Napster? What’s that? It’s more like Netflix for pirates. These things will flourish until there’s an app that lets you stream to your TV anything that’s available at Redbox for the same price. Even then they’ll thrive, because some people don’t want to pay for anything.

ARCHITECTURE Via a Gizmodo story that pleads with cities to stop commissioning interchangeable Calatrava fishbone bridges, a site devoted to - well, let them tell it.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is perhaps even more renown for surpassing any budget and creating buildings with technical shortcomings than for his bombastic style of architecture. However nowhere a full list can be found of his projects, failures and overspending. This site aims to fill that gap. This is The Full Calatrava.

VotD Man tells dog not to get up on the bed. Man suspects dog is not obeying his wishes when he is gone. Man leaves camera running. Man gets 7 million hits in four days.

Man wishes he had enabled ads.

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