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Creative Commons

I’d meant to talk about this in the last post… We have a Creative Commons license, as I mentioned a couple days ago. This means that you are free to:

  • copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and
  • make derivative works

as long as you:

  • give the original author(s) credit and
  • don’t use this work for commercial purposes and
  • release any alterations, transformations, derivations, etc. of our texts under the same Creative Commons license that we use.

Our CC license is a poltical statement, our own small voices against the sort of copyright fuckery which allows Disney to sue schoolteachers who put pictures of Winnie the Pooh in their classrooms.

If you don’t want to waive any of your copyright but want to free your work from being tied up in copyright until decades after you’re dead, Creative Commons offers legal assistance for other alternatives to standard copyright, including a Founders’ Copyright that grants you copyright as described in the United States’ 1790 copyright law. For the DJs in the audience, there’s a Sampling License (useful not only for DJs, but for any artist who wants to incorporate and play with bits of others’ works).


  • We’ve got WordPress 1.01 Release Candidate 1 running here. If you encounter any problems with the site, go ahead and let us know so we can report any bugs to the WordPress developers.
  • Archive pages now have previous/next links—previous and next month for monthly archives, previous and next day for daily archives, previous and next post for individual-post archives, &c. These have been working for several days, actually, but now they’re actually working well. Hopefully this will make archive navigation a little more convenient.
  • Mailing list! Navigate to and sign up to get email notifications of new posts on the blog.
  • Blogs on the blogroll that have been updated less than 4 hours ago have a →. Yay.
  • We’ve got our little XHTML/HTML and CSS links to the W3C’s validators down in the bottom left corner of the browser window, see?

    “But Steven, why do you use XHTML 1.1 and HTML 4.01, and why do your HTML documents validate only as HTML 4.01?”

    I know you’re all thinking that now, right? Well, I’ll tell you! I already talked about this, actually, but now there’s a new nuance to the problem: the W3C HTML validator doesn’t tell my web server that it recognizes application/xhtml+xml (I assume it actually does), so the validator receives the HTML 4.01 documents I have set up for Internet Explorer. Oh well!

Upgrading the blog

Well, you’ve probably noticed the total lack of style on the site right now. We’re in the middle of a fairly major overhaul of the site which is taking longer than expected… CSS should be functional sometime today. Also watch out for some fun new features.

Number One Scariest Dean Web Site

Crushies for Dean wins!

Our group is open to anyone who wants to join us in swooning over Howard Dean and discussing why (as one of our founding crushies wrote: “is it his confidence? his compassion? his sincerity? his intelligence? his…well, this could go on and on! Let’s just say it’s all of those amazing character traits and…that look in his eyes…”).

Howard Dean

X-Men, Cyclops, love triangles

Big Sunny D responds to our X-Men blogging. What he says about recent developments in Cyclops’s soap-opera love triangle sound very good to me, and I think the connected Scott-Emma-Jean and Scott-Jean-Logan love-triangle plotting has been a central focus for the New X-Men themes I’m interested in. Right now I’m thinking: the Cassandra Nova storyarc plays with the themes in a crazy overwrought fantasy metaphor, New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s does them as a revisionist critique of the X-Men political metaphor, the Weapon Plus stuff does them as a story about turning control of your self over to a higher power. And the love triangles revolving around Scott’s pathetic motionlessness is of course doing them as good old-fashioned X-Men soap opera. Moreover, I read the soap-opera plotting as metacriticism, about the X-Men property itself losing control of its narrative in decades of directionless subplotting muck.

“It must be getting rather tedious, Scott dear. These reruns of your grief.” That’s a great line, hinting at that metacriticism. Is Scott’s absurd love life a microcosm of the X-Men, endlessly repeating old stories, the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, Days of Apocalypse, ad absurdum? Morrison’s New X-Men has been hailed (and derided) as the first truly new thing to happen to the X-Men in a long time, but look what we get: Phoenix. Soap opera. A now-he’s-dead-now-he’s-not plot twist with Magneto. An apocalyptic-future storyline. Ooh hoo, the newness. Is what’s new a sense of playfulness about the way the stories are told? I hasten to note that New X-Men is practically the first X-Men comic I’ve ever read, but I get the impression (from, e.g. J.W. Hastings’s post on the X-Men) that the X-Men have been rather a serious and grim bunch for quite a while. The Stan Lee/Jack Kirby X-Men issues I’ve read are not surprisingly very fun and playful, so the fun and playfulness of New X-Men isn’t so new, but it certainly seems to be a change. Even when bogged down in the awful art and nonsensical mysticism of the Cassandra Nova story, Grant Morrison manages to keep his words both light and serious, joking around (”You’re my favorite super hero, Scott,” one of my favorite lines) and suggesting some pretty heavy thematic stuff below the surface, which kept me going without too much effort even as I gnashed my teeth at hideously drawn characters babbling about evil psychic twins built out of Charles’s spare body cells.

I’m not as confident with thinking and talking about the art as I am the writing, but I have some vague ideas about it. I think one thing Frank Quitely manages to do is capture Morrison’s sense of energy and fun. And there’s something about his tiny stick-figurish Emma and Jean that’s both creepy and endearing, I don’t know what.

I’m getting really interested in the Cassandra Nova stuff in preparation for Cassandra returning in Here Comes Tomorrow. My goal for this weekend is to reread the first couple TPBs and blog my thoughts on them. I also need to think more on the evolution of the X-Men concept over the decades, which is going to require an expedition in search of early-Claremont-era stuff, probably some Essential X-Men and maybe the Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past if I see them.

Our Creative Commons license

New X-Men: Liberal Interventionism

[The Three-In-One sez] In our dreams we have seen a new Dark Age. Seen all history set back by a thousand years of ignorance and war. Seen, worse than all these, a terrible flaw at the heart of things. How did this happen so quickly?

[Wolverine sez] I guess no one thought Rome could fall, either… those guys had a postal service that could deliver mail across 170 miles in one day. They had indoor plumbing, the women were free, they had art and science and a communications network that spanned the civilized world.

Within a hundred years, it was all debris and lice.

Sometimes ya gotta take care of what you got. (New X-Men #151)

Then Sean Collins sez:

Now, I may just be desperate to find a fellow liberal-interventionist defender of civilization against theocratic fascism and nihilist terrorism out there in the great big wide world of funnybooks, but what alternate explanation for this passage by Grant Morrison can you offer?

Well, I haven’t read this particular issue of New X-Men yet, but I can think of a few alternate readings of the passage other than as criticism of moral complacency in the face of “theocratic fascism” and “nihilist terrorism.” E.g., as criticism of the moral complacency of liberal-interventionist defenders of “civilization” who’ve decided they’ve got this “civilization” thing down better than so-called “theocratic fascists” and “nihilist terrorists.” Or even better, you could read it as a criticism of moral complacency just in general.

(N.B. You needn’t read this as a critique of Sean’s politics, which I don’t know a lot about since I’ve not read many of his blogging on politics. As far as I know Sean is a perfectly non-complacent liberal-interventionist defender of civilization, self-aware and capable of self-criticism.)

New design

If anybody’s been trying to read the blog in the last hour or so, sorry about all the craziness. Internet Explorer fucks up the design a little (surprise), but it’s still readable and I’m not inclined to try to accomodate browser stupidity right now.

Freudian readings of Spider-Man

Spider-Man is standing on Mary Jane’s head. And Mary Jane looks a lot like May from Trouble, doesn’t she? Didn’t it turn out in Trouble that Aunt May is Peter Parker’s real mom? Now here’s Mary Jane looking exactly like the young Aunt May, and standing right next to Aunt May! This is clearly a subtle reference to the buried Oedipal subtext of Spider-Man.

Superheroes in neverending serial publication have a big problem with Oedipal trajectories—they can’t complete them! Unless they stop being profitable and get a resolution, I guess. Poor Peter Parker got married and still couldn’t complete his Oedipal trajectory (if he’d completed it, he would have settled down and quit trying to save the world all the time—he’d just live with Mary Jane and have babies and grown-up stuff). Can’t complete his Oedipal trajectory and saddled with a wife—it’s tragic!

Actually, reading serial superhero comics in terms of the Oedipal trajectory would probably be very interesting.


I’ve changed the URIs of our syndication resources, but the old URIs still work if you’re using them.

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