Democratic Debate Round 2.2 Live

Nice. That’s a better title.

I’m getting ready early tonight, last night I thought the debate started at 9 EDT, but it had started when I went to get set up. Luckily introducing the candidates, and all the other preliminaries took an exceedingly long time.

My plan tonight is the same as last night. In the first debate I tried to report everything that was said, but I think that’s redundant. It also reminded me of a few times in college when I got so involved in taking notes that I wasn’t actually processing what was going on. So, tonight impressions only for the most part, although if someone says something particularly interesting or particularly nutty I’ll let you know.

We’ll see the following candidates on stage: Former Vice-President Joe Biden, California Senator Kamala Harris, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio, Former Cabinet Secretary Julián Castro, Congress Member Tulsi Gabbard, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Need a cheat sheet? Me too. Well, a bit, a bit.

The moderators, like last night, will be Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and Don Lemon.

T minus six minutes.

8:00

I missed this bit last night, but this intro feels enough like professional wrestling that I can actually hear my skin crawl.

Lots of preliminaries again. The end time for the debate has been amended to 10:40 btw. I hope our attention span holds out.

We had two progressives at the center of the debate last night in Warren and Sanders. Do we get the same split tonight? If so, who caries the progressive banner?

8:15

Newsflash Senator Bennet loves America. “Kids belong in classrooms not cages” is better.

Jay Insley is so stiff he makes Al Gore look like Mick Jagger.

Everybody is hitting their talking points. Gabbard’s service, Yang’s UBI etc.

What’s going on with all the shouting? Booker actually had to stop talking. Evidently they were chanting “Fire Pantaleo.” According to MSNBC this is “referring to the officer at center of the Eric Garner case in New York City, where de Blasio is mayor.”

Harris wants to phase in Medicare for all over 10 years. The long implementation was a huge problem for the ACA.

8:30

Harris v. Biden on health care. Advantage Harris.

Gillibrand is sounding pretty progressive on health care. Also she had a story. She clearly watched last night’s debate.

Gabbard uses the “we don’t have a health care system we have a sick care system.” But I like her point about who should be writing the bill.

They called time on Biden and he actually stopped talking. Weird.

I think Bennet’s formulation on “taking away health care and taxing the middle class is disingenuous. Inslee’s better on the mental health angle.

8:45

We just got to see a hint of the Joe Biden who kicked Paul Ryan’s ass in 2012. “Malarkey!”

More yelling from the crowd. Interrupting Biden this time. Now Castro’s trying for a “confront Biden” moment. Biden’s response is pretty good; aiming at Trump.

9:00

Now Booker is piling on Biden too, but Biden’s getting combative. That could be good for him.

Literally everyone is piling on Biden now. Rapid fire.

If last night’s debate was moderates vs. progressives, this one is definitely everybody vs. Biden. That’s risky: it’ll guarantee him the most exposure and he’s sounding better and more combative to me. And just as I write that we get word salad.

Booker’s on fire. Ezra Klein: “Booker does not have a poker face.”

Castro’s taking a shot at de Blasio on the Pantaleo thing. And Gillibrand: “He should be fired, he should be fired now.”

Biden looked weak invoking Obama to hide behind. And not we’re getting a rerun of the busing thing.

Harsh words from Gabbard on Harris. Biden gets a breather.

9:30

Interesting that Inslee tied progress on race to the filibuster. He’s not wrong.

Enough with the inspirational stories, but Gillibrand was pretty good on the Green New Deal.

9:45

Booker’s doing a bit better tonight.

10:00

Seems to me there’s a lot of agreement on trade and American competitiveness. Pretty good moment for Biden with deBlasio.

Now Gillibrand is going after Biden on some old quote. Harris is going after Biden on the Hyde Amendment. I want more details on both of those discussions.

Chris Hayes: “Biden is correct that everyone on stage in congress has voted for a bill with the Hyde Amendment.”

Castro made an interesting point on impeachment. If the Democrats don’t impeach Trump, he’ll claim exoneration in the campaign. If the Senate acquits, it’s in McConnell’s lap.

Gabbard’s really going after the warmongers and Yang makes a good argument starting with automation and (of course) ending with UBI. Good closing statements for both of them.

Harris is strong and aimed straight at Trump, but she doesn’t understand the 3am metaphor. I thought Biden’s closing statement was strong also.

Analysis:

If last night’s debate was moderates vs progressives, this one was everybody against Biden. He did better than the first debate and possibly as well as he could have done given that he was almost a universal target. He was more combative, but he wasn’t always at the top of his game. He did better toward the end of the debate after most of the fireworks were over.

Booker did better. Harris was shakier. Gabbard and Yang were good. deBlasio was the strongest progressive voice on the stage.

Did anybody win? Maybe Biden, mainly by beating expectations. The pundits are questioning whether Biden could go up against Trump. I think he’s better one-on-one. Maybe Booker by breaking out of the pack. Maybe Sanders or Warren because no one tonight made it up to their level.

I don’t think this group was as strong as the group last night. The bottom line is the same. I haven’t changed my mind really on anyone although once again there’s one or two who are for sure off my list for the primaries and I may be unable to support in the general.

Democratic Debate Round 2, Night 1

This is night one of the second Democratic debate; I’m trying this differently. I’m not going to try to record what everyone says, but to focus on impressions. Updates as possible.

The candidates on stage tonight are Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Author Marianne Williamson, Former Congressman John Delaney, Congressman Tim Ryan, Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Former Representative Beto O’Rourke, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeig, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders.

I was too busy laughing at Williamson riffing on the Declaration of Independence to hear what she said. Tim Ryan’s “America is Great (Pause)” was almost as distracting. I’ll have to look these answers up later.

Warren comes out swinging, as does Sanders. Not surprising. They’re the street fighters.

Everyone sounded okay in their opening statements.

Right off, Sanders and Delaney are in deep on on Health Care. I think Delaney is making a straw man argument. Later Bullock piled on.

Sanders and Warren may be cooperating.

Buttigeig makes the essential point. The middle class will pay the same or less either in taxes or premiums. Warren went there too, but not as effectively.

Sanders: “Jake your question is a Republican talking point.”

I like Buttigeig’s formulation; the Republicans will call democrats socialists no matter what. They should focus on getting the policy right.

I need to look into Delaney’s two tier claim.

8:45

The issue of whether or not to decriminalize crossing the border misses the bigger issue and is too easy to misrepresent. This also sounds like a Republican talking point to me.

Meanwhile, if you’re position is that health care is a human right (and Bernie got this as I was typing this), of course it must apply to everyone.

The one minute limit really does not work. Everyone who tries to build an argument gets cut off.

9:00

Williamson takes the gun control issue and pushes it to the much larger issue of public financing of elections, which is interesting.

I think Tim Ryan is either dim or disingenuous.

O’Rourke is nuts if he thinks Texas will be a swing state.

I don’t think Scott Brown was all that popular when Warren beat him.

Delaney mentioned using technology to get carbon out of the atmosphere. I think we have the technology and we may also be able to remove carbon from seawater. I’ve often wondered why we haven’t implemented this idea.

9:30

On climate change the candidates seem to be agreeing very combatively.

Williamson goes to a bigger issue again from Flint, Michigan and the crowd really seems to like it.

This reminds me of the last first debate. It’s pretty civil.

9:45

Williamson’s coming out hard for reparations, referencing “40 acres and a mule.” The crowd likes that too.

Commercial Break. It must be time for closing arguments.

Nope on to the economy. I guess we’re running over.

Warren and Sanders still seem to have a non-aggression pact, but everyone seems to agree on tariffs.

10:00

Warren and Delaney just got pretty technical on tax policy.

There’s too much arguing around the margins. For example, whether to meet with Kim Jung Un or not is so far from a fundamental issue it’s ridiculous.

Buttigeig got a lot of applause for his answer on vision and everybody seems to want to weigh in. CNN scheduled three hours for the debate, but the debate was going to only be two hours. What will we do if the pundits don’t tell us what to think (sarcasm)?

Commercial break. Holy crap! Did I just hear the Sid Vicious version of My Way?!?

Closing statements, finally. My attention span is getting tested.

O’Rourke really seems to think he made Texas a swing state. That’s dangerously naive.

Analysis

This reminds me of the first night from round one. It was largely civil and there was a lot of agreement between the candidates. A lot of the discussion was around the margins but there were some clear lines of difference. Props to Williamson for making arguments that hit much bigger issues than most of the rest of the field. I liked her better this time, but I still think she’s out of her league.

It was good to see Sanders and Warren almost collaborating. I think that was good strategy.

I didn’t see a lot of reasons to change my mind about any of the candidates. I still like the same candidates and I’m still lukewarm about most of them. There are a couple I’m now sure I won’t support for the nomination under any circumstance and I’m unsure I could support those candidates in the general.

Dr. K’s Guide to Comics

This was originally written to answer the following question on Quora.

What are some things someone just getting into comic books should know?

If you’re just getting into comics, welcome to the club! You have years of entertainment to look forward to!

If you’re thinking about getting into comics, the first thing you should probably know is whether you actually enjoy comics; reading them, looking at the artwork, learning the contours of each new universe and so forth. If so, you’re a reader. You might also ask yourself if you enjoy experiencing comics: the feel of the paper, the smell of the ink, the satisfaction of completing a run and the look of a stack of books, all nicely bagged. In that case, you may just be a collector. Some people want to try and make some money on their collection; that’s fine. If you enjoy the other aspects of the hobby, you could become an investor. If you don’t enjoy the comics themselves, however, I would recommend against that. A portfolio of mutual funds is probably far easier to manage and more profitable than speculating on comics.

This is a good time to start.

You’ve decided to join the hobby at a good time; it’s easier than ever to find things to read whether you’re interested in new comics or back issues. Absolutely, your first step should be to find a Local Comic Shop (LCS) if there’s one nearby and get to know the folks there. Most of them love the hobby and enjoy talking about it. They can tell you which current titles have the best buzz and once they get to know you, they can point you towards things you might like, new and old. Many LCSs will also let you start a pull list and will put books aside for you. This helps you to avoid missing an issue and it helps them to know what to order. In any event, your LCS can be an essential resource.

If you’re interested in older stories, many comic stores have a selection of back issues that you can purchase.

Graham Cracker Comics

I took this picture in Graham Cracker Comics last time I was in Chicago and the set up is pretty typical. High demand and interesting books are displayed on the wall while the more common back issues are alphabetized and in boxes. There are also significant on-line opportunities. I’ve bought many comics on e-Bay and most of my experiences have been positive ones. A lot of bigger stores also have their own websites where they sell comics. New Kadia and Mile High Comics are good examples.

If you’re interested in older stories but you don’t want to collect back issues, your LCS probably also stocks “collected editions” which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here’s a random selection from my shelves.

Some Collected Editions

The Marvel Masterworks in the center is a prestige format hardcover collecting Fantastic Four (1961) #1-10. The other two are “trade paperbacks,” which is the most common format of collected edition. Some of those, like the book on the left, try to reprint a lot of books inexpensively. That one is printed in black and white on pulp paper. Others collect a smaller number of issues of an ongoing series or a complete mini-series. There are also “graphic novels.” I personally use that term to refer to any complete comic story that’s more than a couple of issues in length. Occasionally complete stories will appear in trade paperback for the first time; those are called “original graphic novels.”

There are also digital options. Individual issues can be purchased at DCComics.com and ComiXology,com. You can buy individual comics at Marvel.com and, when you buy one of their physical comics, you get a code to download a digital copy of the same issue. ComiXology Unlimited and Marvel Unlimited are Netflix style unlimited services where a monthly or annual fee gives you full access to a large digital library of comics.

One cost-effective approach to reading a large number of titles is to buy the titles you really want to collect from your LCS and then wait for the remaining titles to hit an unlimited service.

Buying Back Issues

There are two basic strategies when it comes to buying back issues. You can focus on buying issues to collect or buying issues mainly to read. Either way, you don’t want to overpay or pay a premium for the wrong book.

Condition Can Really Matter

Possibly the best illustration that condition matters is a story from about 6 years ago. Deanna and David Gonzales purchased a home in Elbow Lake, Minnesota. In the process of renovating, they ripped open the walls and amidst the old newspapers that were used for insulation, they found a copy of Action Comics #1.

Action Comics #1, for those of you who don’t know, is the first appearance of Superman and probably the quintessential collectors’ item. The advent of superheros, beginning with this particular issue remade the entire medium and there are only about 100 copies known to exist. Needless to say, every copy is highly sought after. The nicest existing copy sold on e-Bay for $3.2 million in 2014.

The Gonzales’ copy could have sold for $250,000 but they tore the back cover when they were removing it from the wall. That tear cost them about $75,000.

https://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_large/6/67663/5963215-47c.jpg

The moral? You should have at least a rough idea of how to grade comics, that is, to determine their condition. If you’re looking for something particular, you should have an idea of its value. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is a good resource for both of these things. There are also online resources; I tend to use ComicsPriceGuide.com and they have their own explanation of the grading system. A quick internet search will reveal more options. If you’re looking for fair market value another place you can check is the sold listings on e-Bay. Lots of recent comics are actually available for less than cover price in Near Mint, but it seems to me that the price guides are hesitant to list books for less than that. Using the sold listing also gives you immediate information; prices can fluctuate after a guide is printed.

Whether you’re buying a comic to read or to collect, you should decide the minimum condition you’re comfortable with and get a sense of what a fair price for that book would be in that condition. Why worry about that? The good comic stores will generally know how to grade books and price them accordingly. But there are less professional vendors or even vendors, like pawn shops and used book stores who think any comic that’s old is valuable who may price books without investigating the value. There are others who will price every book at near mint regardless of the condition either because they don’t know how to grade or because they don’t understand how it effects the price. If you know what to expect from the price, you’ll be able to avoid over paying.

Sometimes, You Can Compromise on Condition

The point where condition isn’t very important is when you’re buying back issues to read rather than collect. You, of course, need to decide for yourself the condition with which you’re most comfortable. But comics that are in very good (VG) condition or better should be complete and readable. VG books should sell for about 10% of the mint price. Below that there are still plenty of books that are nicely readable but you may run into issues like fragile paper or cutouts that can diminish the reading experience.

When I was collecting in the 1970s and 80s I collected a lot of reprint titles like Marvel Tales, Marvel’s Greatest Comics and Marvel Super Action. These reprinted Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Avengers respectively and gave me an inexpensive way to read a lot of classic stories from the Silver Age. But there were drawbacks. A Comic reprint can be significantly different from the original. The print quality can be noticeably worse as the company generally no longer had access to the original artwork. Further, the comic could be recolored and sections of the story might be deleted to fit the comic into a smaller page count. Whereas an original comic might be highly sought out and valuable, mostly these reprints are barely even considered collectable. Unless you’re collecting them for sentimental reasons, there are much better options for reading old stories such as trade paperbacks and Marvel’s and ComiXology’s unlimited services.

You Can Be Really Intense About Condition If You Want.

The Fantastic Four #1 Comic Book Graded CGC 7.0 Sold For ...

If you have a special comic that you want to carefully preserve you can send it out to a third party grading service. The most famous of these is the Certified Guarantee Company or CGC. For a fee, these companies will grade your comic and then seal it in a hard plastic shell that documents the condition and presumably protects it from further harm. This process is called “slabbing” and it’s controversial within the collecting community. The upside is that, if you want to sell your comic, its condition is well established so buyers can have confidence in its accuracy. Because of this, slabbed books tend to sell for more than their free range counterparts. The downside is that the slab prevents you from even touching the comic itself. In a medium that’s supposed to be read, experienced and enjoyed, some collectors find slabbing offensive.

Caveat Emptor

Another thing to keep in mind as you shop for back issues is that you want to be sure you’re buying the correct book. Consider the following listing that I encountered on a well known auction site a few weeks ago.

A Listing for an On-Line Auction
https://comicstheuniverseandeverything.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/b11af-ss4.jpg
Silver Surfer #4 from 1969

If you’re not knowledgeable about comics, and you don’t look too closely, it might seem to you that this is a copy of Silver Surfer #4 from 1969. After all, that’s what the listing claims to be. The problem is, it isn’t. Here’s a picture of the genuine article. The comic in the listing is actually Fantasy Masterpieces #4 from 1979. It’s a reprint of the Silver Surfer comic. And the big issue here is the price.

ComicsPriceGuide.com tells us that Silver Surfer (1968) #4 in near mint (NM) condition is worth $1000, while Fantasy Masterpieces (1979) #4 lists at $4. That’s a huge difference and I hope no one actually paid $290 for a $4 book.

This issue isn’t just restricted to auction sites. At a store in St. Louis I saw the comic on the right, priced as though it were the comic on the left. This is an easier mistake to make than the Silver Surfer/Fantasy Masterpieces confusion, and this example, it turns out, is trickier than most. But there’s still a big difference in terms of price. ComicsPriceGuide.com tells us that the original book goes for $160 in NM while the reprint is worth $4 in the same condition. This was in a large store that had many boxes of back issues but also sold used books, used DVDs and used video games. The staff may have been somewhat knowledgeable about comics, but comics certainly weren’t the focus of their business.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (1968) # 6 and Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (1983) # 2

So, how do you avoid this? Well the first thing you need to do is identify the actual title of the series you’re dealing with. That’s not necessarily the title on the cover. To get the official title of the series, you need to look at the indicium , which is the comic’s publishing information. It’s usually found at the bottom of the first page or on the inside front cover of the comic. Here’s the indicium for the older comic.

Indicia for Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (1968) # 6.

The title of this series is clearly indicated: “Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.” Not “S.H.I.E.L.D.” like you might think from looking at the cover and with a comma that we don’t see on the cover. On the other hand, this is the indicium from the 1983 series.

Indicium for Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (1983) # 2.

So the title of this series is “Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD.” No comma. Ironically, the series with the comma on the cover has no comma in the official title and the series without the comma on the cover does has a comma in its title. This series is also a “volume 1” since, because of that comma, the titles are not exactly the same. It’s important to know the proper title because that’s how the book will be listed in the Overstreet Price guide.

Nick Fury comics in the Overstreet Price Guide

Here’s the listing for these comics in the 2009 edition of Overstreet. It’s easy to see which listing goes to which book since we’ve figured out the real titles. If there’s ever a question, you can go by the dates of the issues, which are also in the indicia. Modern conventions delineate the different series by the start year so in comicbookdb.com, you see these titles as Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (1968) and Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD (1983). You can see the values for each issue on the right for the conditions good, very good, fine, very fine, very fine/near mint and near mint.

Finding the Right Comic

When I’m collecting, I like to find a complete run of a title before reading so that I can read a bunch of issues back to back. If you’re merely reading comics in trade paperback form or online this isn’t an issue, but if you’re collecting the individual issues, it can get tricky. Nothing here is a major problem as long as you know what to expect, but if you’re not careful, you can end up with a comic you don’t need.

This was not an issue when I started hunting for back issues around 1980. At that point, most titles had a single volume with a single consecutive numbering. There was one run of Amazing Spider-Man of about 200 issues. Flash was closer issue 300, but that included the entire run of Flash Comics, dating back to January 1940. This is no longer the case. Comics now restart their numbering frequently and it can be a nuisance to keep track. Sometimes the companies renumber a title because the creative team is changing, sometimes it’s because of some company wide event. Sometime there’s no apparent rhyme or reason except that maybe the numbers have gotten a bit too large. Depending on how you count, there have been 11 or 12 comics that are technically “Captain Marvel #1″ published by Marvel since 1968. There have been at least 8 volumes of The Avengers and that doesn’t count New Avengers or Mighty Avengers or All-New All-Different Avengers or West Coast Avengers or Avengers Forever or Avengers AI or Solo Avengers… you get the idea.

So, do you need a copy of Avengers #2? Which one? There are at least 8, not counting reprints that might look like Avengers #2 (see “Caveat Emptor” above). A simple answer might be to make sure you know the cover, but that too is not as simple as it once was. When I started collecting, every comic had but one cover, but that also is no longer the case.

This is because of another trend in comics. There is now a proliferation of variants. Variants are copies of the same issue of a series that are absolutely identical except for the cover. To me, this is getting excessive. There are variants to encourage dealers to order more; there are variants with some special gimmick on the cover; there are variants to celebrate a special event and variants to popularize a particular character. Many, like the “Special Inauguration Day Edition” of Amazing Spider-Man #583 are rare enough to be worth considerably more than the standard version but most probably have no additional value at all.

When the latest volume of Fantastic Four hit the stands last August, there were at least 42 different variants of the first issue, some of which are shown above (you can see three more here). This title has averaged roughly nine variants per issue since its inception less than a year ago.

So, if you can’t just go by number and you can’t just go by cover, what do you do? One answer is to make sure you know the publication date. If you’re looking at back issues in a comic store, you can always check the indicia. As long as your book has the correct publication date, it should be the correct book.

You can’t always see the indicia, such as when you’re shopping on line. Going by the cover can still be a good plan in a lot of cases. If there’s only one cover to the book you need, make sure you’re familiar with it. That’s the case with the vast majority of older books. Even if a comic has multiple variants, most copies will have the main cover so it pays to know it. But maybe you’d prefer a different cover or perhaps the main cover is sold out and isn’t an option. Maybe you just want to own the issue and you don’t care which variant you end up with. Many comic websites have a cover browser function. Here’s the cover browser for Hawkeye (2017) from comicbookdb.com.

This would be easy to print out or access on a tablet if your LCS has WiFi. Armed with this information, you have all the potential covers at your finger tips and it’s easy to tell if the comic you’re looking at is the correct one or not.

Preserving Your Comics

A box of comics

The final thing we’ll cover here is storage. Given the importance of condition, you’ll want to protect your books.

You might think that lying your comics flat and storing them in a stack would help them stay flat. In fact, since the spine is thicker than the rest of the book, the exact opposite is true; stacking comics can lead to “spine roll.” You’ll want to store your books vertically, as shown here. Luckily, there are supplies designed for just this kind of storage.

2 Sizes of Comic Boxes

There are 2 sizes of comic boxes from which to choose called, creatively enough, long boxes and short boxes. A long box is about 28 inches wide and holds about 300-350 comics. A short box is half as wide and holds half as many. Long boxes cost about half again as much, so it’s more cost effective to use long boxes, but a full long box weighs about 50 pounds, making them more unwieldy and therefore more difficult to move and organize.

You should store your comics in acid-free bags. It can be bad for your comics to store them in a bag that’s too big or too small, but most comics published after 1974 fit nicely in a “current” comic bag. Comics have gotten narrower over time. Generally, comics made before the early 1950’s need “golden age” bags while comics published from the mid 50’s to 1974 require “silver age” bags. There are also different materials available.

Backing Boards

Most comic bags are either polyethylene, which has more of a matte finish or polypropylene which is clearer and shinier. Opinions vary, but I prefer the polypropylene. I think bagged comics look better with the shiny bag and I find that polyethylene bags stick together after being stored for a long period of time. Many collectors also place a backing board in each bag with a comic. These are thin pieces of cardboard which prevent bending and protect the corners of the book from blunting. Boarding every comic in your collection is probably excessive, but it’s a good investment for your favorite or most valuable books.

That’s probably enough information to throw at you all at once; I hope it helped. If you think of additional questions, you can add them to the comments and I’ll try to answer. There will be more for beginning collector coming soon.

References

The Book of Goose

This was written as an answer to the question “Where is Goose (Captain Marvel) from? Does he have a backstory?” and published simultaneously on Quora.

In the comics, the name of Captain Marvel’s cat is Chewie and she’s a she. If you have Marvel Unlimited or access to enough Marvel trade paperbacks through your library or somewhere else, it wouldn’t too hard to read through the all of Chewie’s appearances. You can find a list of them here:

Chewie (Marvel)(Carol Danver’s cat)

Credit where it’s due, Jason Levine at Arousing Grammar did a nice job cataloging and describing all of her appearances for the first few years.

Ms. Marvel’s cat Chewie

Levine’s post goes through November 2013 here are some highlights.

Chewie’s first appearance is in Giant Size Ms. Marvel #1 (April 2006). In the story, Carol is remembering being Captain Marvel during the House of M timeline. While fighting Sir Warren Traveler, who, evidently had been Sorcerer Supreme in this version of history, Carol encounters a cat,

and promptly throws her at the bad guy!

Seriously, NOT COOL, CAROL! I don’t care if you promised tuna. Cat’s are not weapons! Doubly so against super villains! Either way, this is an inauspicious first appearance.

The fastball special disrupts a time travel spell Traveler is casting and he and Chewie disappear to some undisclosed location.

The next time we see her, is in Ms. Marvel (2006) #4. Chewie appears in Carol’s apartment as a precursor of an attack by Traveler.

Dr. Strange gets involved and he and Carol defeat Traveler and mostly, Chewie is on the sidelines, but along the way Chewie does get to be an avatar for the proper Sorcerer Supreme when Steven contacts Carol in a dream.

That happened in Ms. Marvel (2006) #5. After all is said and done, Carol has a cat. Here I must say I approve; this is a proper way to get a cat. Cat needs you; cat shows up; you have a cat. I’ve gotten more than one of the little buggers that way.

After that, Chewie is mostly around in the background. If you want to see these appearances without digging through all of the issues, I refer you again to Jason Levine’s site. He does a nice job of showing them all.

Chewie gets things to do interesting things again in the Captain Marvel (2014) series. Carol decides to head out to space on a voyage of self discovery with Chewie in tow. Issue 2:

Eventually, she and Carol encounter the Guardians of the Galaxy, where Rocket identifies Chewie as a Flerkin.

If it isn’t obvious, this begins the main part of Chewie’s story that is source material for the 2019 film. Of course, in the film, it’s Talos making the flerkin argument.

At the end of the issue, Carol’s ship is stolen with Chewie aboard by a stowaway named Tic.

In issue 3, the ship is recovered and, Carol decides to help Tic after hearing her story.

As a side note, this is a testament to this creative team’s understanding of cats. I’ve seen this sort of comforting behavior many times.

We don’t see Chewie again until issue 7, when Carol and Tic return to Carol’s ship. It’s been under the care of Rocket and the argument as to whether Chewie is a cat or a flerkin resumes. While Carol’s been gone, Rocket has been putting out feelers; to see if a flerkin could be sold and for how much.

This attracts pirates who commandeer the ship and suddenly, the flerkin argument becomes moot. Chewie lays eggs. Lots and lots of eggs.

Things come to a head in issue 8.

The ship is boarded,

Rocket and Chewie make peace and of course…

the flurkittens are all fine. There’s a lot of nice touches and these two issues are the apotheosis of Chewie stories. If you like cats or you like Chewie, you should check out these two issues even if you don’t check out anything else.

The final Chewie-centric story line occurs in issues 12 and 13. Haffensye pirates attack Carol’s ship and abduct Chewie, intending to use her as a weapon.

Unfortunately, most of the action involves getting the ship repaired, navigating through a dangerous region of space and fighting off pirates without weapons or propulsion.

Once Carol catches up with the Haffensye ship, she makes short work of the pirates, rescues Chewie and commandeers the pirates, ship for Tic.

After the pair returned to Earth, Chewie reverted to being a background character which she has remained for all of her subsequent appearances.

And that then, is the story of Chewie or Goose if you prefer. There’s always hope that she will be featured in future Captain Marvel stories or join the Pet Avengers or star in her own Major Motion Picture.

There’s much more fun to come, I think, and Carol’s come a long way from the cat flinging incident. She must have sensed it at the time, because this was her response to Chewie’s very first disappearance.

It was meant to be.

Tranquility Base, Revisited

We’re watching the real time feed of the Apollo 11 coverage. It’s awesome! I’m personally immersed and it’s surprisingly easy to pretend that this is going on right now. It’s nice to remember a time that America did great things. Mostly we’ve seen shots like this one. There’s clearly an alien or a stagehand or something moving around behind the faux lander.

Occasionally we see the simulation of what’s happening inside the capsule. I hate to admit that it looks hilarious. There might be an actual astronaut inside one of the fake suits. That would explain the muffled explanation.

Meanwhile, Armstrong is about to go EVA. They spent a startlingly long time waiting for the cabin to depressurize. And I’m wondering if there’s a guy in a moon man costume somewhere. That’s secret of a successful simulation. Preparation. Will there be moon men? Probably not, but you have to be ready for the unexpected.

Armstrong’s backing out of the lander, still seeing simulations.

Real picture. Very fuzzy. Cronkite thinks Armstrong’s stepped on the Moon. It’s not completely clear to me.

There it is. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Followed by a description of the sand. And the environment.

Now we’re seeing Armstrong bounding around in the low gravity. “That looks like fun” says Cronkite. Later he compares it to walking on a trampoline.

And Aldrin’s on the surface. Soon they’re going to move the camera.

Here’s a shot from the new camera position, with both astronauts.

And they’ve now planted the flag. The point is made that this is NOT the traditional claiming of territory; this is just a statement that we have been there and a reminder of what we’ve accomplished.

Finally, for this post, Armstrong and Aldrin get a congratulatory call from President Nixon. They haven’t been on the moon for an hour yet. If you haven’t watched this yourself, I can’t recommend it more strongly.

Now I’m going to just relax and enjoy. I hope you do too.

One Giant Leap for Mankind

Today is 20 July 2019; fifty years to the day that humans first set foot on another celestial body marking the culmination of the Space Race and one of humanity’s greatest technological achievements.

To commemorate the occasion, we’re flying a flag featuring the NASA Insignia, a streamlined version of the NASA seal. Other than the the fact that it contains text, the insignia is a perfect centerpiece for a flag. It’s striking without being too busy and it’s easy to sketch. It also has nice, clear symbolism.

From the NASA website:

The round red, white and blue insignia, nicknamed the “meatball,” was designed by employee James Modarelli in 1959, NASA’s second year. The design incorporates references to different aspects of the mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The round shape of the insignia represents a planet. The stars represent space. The red v-shaped vector represents aeronautics. The circular orbit around the agency’s name represents space travel.

The Symbols of NASA
The NASA insignia and the more formal seal

We spent a decent amount of time deciding which flag to fly for the occasion. Our first thought was the Earth Day flag, and then an Earth Day flag with a stylized crescent moon and the southern cross, but neither of those seemed to feature the Moon clearly enough. There were other options, but the NASA flag seemed most appropriate.

The first two options above could be deemed “photograph flags” and, for my purposes, flying a flag based on a photograph seems fine. If any of the images below were available in flag form, we might have chosen it. Perhaps I’ll order one of these custom made for the 51st anniversary.

The flag played a prominent role in the Lunar Landing. One of the more dramatic moments was the raising of the flag, which I can clearly remember seeing on the teevee. I explicitly recall being puzzled about the flag’s behavior. It seemed to snap out with the top sticking straight out from the pole. I was only five, but this seemed strange. I’d seen flags before and they certainly didn’t do this. It must be something strange about space, I thought. Or the Moon. Or something else. Here’s the news footage.

Astronauts Plant the American Flag on the Moon.

Turns out the flag had its own “frame.” Five year old me missed that. If you have any doubts about the significance of the flag in this event, let’s turn to Arthur C. Clarke’s July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century. Published in 1986, this book is a collection of Clarke’s speculations about the state of life and technology on this very day. The first chapter is a fictional letter, written by Clarke himself, from his home in Clavius City, Luna on the book’s titular date. It begins thusly.

It doesn’t seem like fifty years – but I cannot be sure which memories are false and which are real. Present and past are inextricably entangled. The monitor screen has just shown the ceremony at Tranquility Base, culminating with the third hoisting of the American flag. It was blown down, of course, by the blast of the Eagle’s ascent stage, and lay there on the trampled Moon soil for thirty-six years until the Apollo Historical Committee reerected it. Then the big quake of 2009 knocked it down again; this time, we’re assured, it would take a direct hit by a fair-sized meteor to lower it…

Arthur C. Clarke’s July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century

It’s a romantic image; historical societies reerecting and preserving the flag for future generations to see and enjoy, but sadly, that may never come to pass. The condition of the flags on the moon is a subject of speculation. The conditions are harsh. The surface is bombarded with UV radiation without the protection we receive from Earth’s atmosphere and the temperature ranges from -280 to +240 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the flags could have disintegrated entirely. At a minimum, the flags must be so sun bleached that they are now completely white. At least as recently as 2012, however, there was evidence that the flags of Apollo 12, 16 and 17 were still standing. You can read about the condition of the flags in the links below.

References:

Apollo 11 on CBS News

In just a few minutes, it will be 20 July, 2019: the 50th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first humans to walk on the moon. I’ve periodically looked for contemporary news coverage on YouTube. In particular, I’ve really wanted to see the interviews on CBS News with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a wealth of things on YouTube now. Here’s a sampling as our first commemoration of the semi-centennial of the first moon landing. I haven’t reviewed all of this yet; I may update the selection as I do.

This appears to be a comprehensive collection of all of the CBS coverage of the landing. It’s only the audio and it’s about 6 hours long.

Coverage of the launch, with video from 16 July 1969.  Arthur Clarke is on hand for some of this.  It looks like this started out as a live stream and it’s now up as a video.

Here’s the live stream of the CBS News Coverage, starting at 3:30 EDT.

This is the CBS coverage from the exact moments of the Moon landing. A bit more than 3 minutes.

And here are Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. About 4 minutes.

You can clearly hear Armstrong’s quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.” Cronkite didn’t quite hear it all first time through. Of course, there were many people who thought it should be “One small step for a man…” Armstrong’s response? “That is what I meant to say and that is what I thought I said.”  It’s possible that he did say that.

Finally, the end of my personal quest, the interview with Clarke and Heinlein.

More tomorrow!