Monday, September 1, 2014

"Dawn of X" Concludes in MEGA MAN #40!

The four-part "Dawn of X" storyline concluded last week with MEGA MAN #40. This was the advertised crossover between Mega Man and Mega Man X. I have written about the first three chapters here, here, and here.

Rock and X never did end up meeting during "Dawn of X," which was somewhat annoying. However, I gradually grew to appreciate the exact nature of the crossover. Basically, the two Mega Men (and their allies) battled a giant Wily Walker -- one century apart in time. Even though both battles were fought concurrently within the the book, Mega Man's battle paved the way for X's battle with the heavily armed robotic beast.

It's a different way of doing a crossover -- certainly much different than last summer's Mega Man/Sonic "Worlds Collide" crossover. And I was pleased with the end result. It allowed for some character growth amongst Mega Man's friends and enemies, but it also helped us readers learn more about the future world and culture of Mega Man X. And it doesn't muck around too much with the timestream, which can also be a good thing.

So here are the final players. We have Mega Man, Pharaoh Man, and Bright Man fighting the Wily Walker deep within Dr. Wily's hidden lab in the year 20XX. They are joined by Mega Man's robotic pet Rush, who brings along the technology needed to put this battle on hold for at least one century:

The most interesting element to this part of the story is what's happening with Dr. Cossack's robots. He isn't terribly keen on weaponizing his robots. The problem is that Bright Man has not only been fairly useless up until now against menaces like the Wily Walker, but he's also proven quite vulnerable. Dr. Cossack (with the help of the supposedly reformed Dr. Wily) grudgingly upgrades Bright Man's abilities towards the end of this battle. I wonder if we are witnessing the seeds of someone's corruption?

And then in the year 21XX, we have our other players: X, Sigma, Zero, and Vile! The Wily Walker managed to finally escape from his earlier tomb and now threatens Arcadia City with an assortment of conventional and chemical weapons. I don't think it's spoiling things too much to report that the Wily Walker ends up getting defeated before the city is destroyed. But I will allow you to pick up MEGA MAN #40 to catch up on the specifics!

Here comes the interesting part. Dr. Cain and Sigma (leader of the Maverick Hunters) share a private exchange following the battle:

The implication is that Zero (probably the most personable Maverick Hunter) was once a bad egg. And he became a good egg by having elements of his memory and personality erased and/or suppressed. Keep in mind that the Reploids are not simple robots. These are supposedly "living robots" -- the next best thing to humankind. I can't help wondering if it's truly possible to alter the true nature of these Reploids? I'm also curious how many more of the Maverick Hunters have also been "corrected" by Dr. Cain?

There is one final element to this crossover that actually stands the strongest chance of haunting Mega Man and his allies as the comic book series progresses. Xander Payne is a leader from the Emerald Spear anti-robot terrorist group. He managed to jump into the timestream at the beginning of "Dawn of X" with the intention of traveling backwards in time and destroying the "robot revolution" before it began. Unfortunately, he got punted into the future instead and witnessed the cataclysmic battle between the Wily Walker and the Maverick Hunters. This glimpse into the future reinforced Payne's drive to defeat the

However, Payne also witnessed a battle while bouncing around the timestream that really piqued his curiosity. I noticed this back in MEGA MAN #38, but didn't reference it on the blog. But it looks like he saw the battle between Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. And now that he's in a prison cell back in the present, he's creating all sorts of "Worlds Collide" graffiti on his wall. For the life of me, I can't figure out where this is heading. Maybe "Worlds Collide Part 2"?

Now the "Dawn of X" is over and we've been introduced to the world of Mega Man X, I can't help wondering if X's adventures will continue as regular back-up features in the MEGA MAN comic book? Judging from the solicits, it doesn't appear that we will be seeing our future friends for at least a few months. I just hope their absence -- assuming that they will indeed be absent for a while -- won't last too long!

"Final Inheritance" is written by Ian Flynn, penciled by Jamal Peppers & Ryan Jampole, and inked by Gary Martin.

Florida Man Kicked Out of City Commission Meeting for Refusing to Stand during Public Prayer & Pledge of Allegiance

Mayor John Rees of Winter Garden, FL, had police removed a man from a City Commission meeting last week because he refused to stand for the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.

Mayor Rees paused before the religious invocation and requested that citizen Joseph Richardson stand for the prayer. Richardson replied, "I don't think I have to." The invocation called for God's blessing on Winter Garden's businesses, citizens, and staff.

Somebody said a prayer, which then led to the Pledge of Allegiance. Once again, Mayor Rees asked Richardson to stand, "Now, sir, please stand while we do the pledge. You don't have to say it, but please stand."

Richardson remained seated and once again declined to stand. Mayor Rees then instructed Police Chief George A. Brennan to escort Richardson from the room while the others recited the pledge.

Mayor Rees has asserted that he believes that it is disrespectful to our troops for Richardson to refuse to stand during the pledge. However, one could argue that the troops fought for our freedoms, which include the freedom from participating in state-led prayers and pledges.

You can watch a video of the incident here:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

To the Craigslist Ranters Who Are Upset by Gay Marriage and Who Fear that Marriage Equality Activists Will Sue Your Chuch...

I've written before that I enjoy visiting the Craigslist "rants & raves" section -- sometimes. There is a tendency to break into racist rants and those rants never seem to get successfully flagged, which bugs me. But otherwise I enjoy reading the rants.

Somebody posted the following rant yesterday on Craigslist:
A Christian couple fined $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding on their New York farm has decided to close the venue rather than violate their religious beliefs. The gay New Jersey couple took the farm owners to court when they refused to host their 2012 wedding, they host about a dozen weddings a year. The farm owners were willing to host the reception, but not the actual ceremony. 
The "farm" in question is a business that offers employment for "over 100 positions" (according to their Facebook page) that operates as a wedding venue and event facility and that is open to the public. They operate in New York and that state has a law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Incidentally, the state also bans discrimination on the basis of race and gender and religion and a few other factors.) The business is a place of public accommodation and cannot discriminate against potential customers on the basis of sexual orientation. They were then fined for violating the law.

The business in question is considering an appeal -- especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court judgment in favor of Hobby Lobby, which said that a closely-held company could deny some forms of contraception to its employees because they conflicted with the religious beliefs of its owner.

I'm always curious about these businesses that refuse to work with same-sex couples on the basis of religious beliefs. Why do their religious beliefs only apply to same-sex couples?

I just glanced at the website for that "New York farm." They do not identify their business as a religious venue. They don't say that they only allow certain types of Christian weddings. Would they turn away a family who wanted to host their son's Bar Mitzvah there? What if a couple wanted to host a traditional Hindu wedding at the facility? Maybe they would indeed turn away such groups on the basis of religion, but that would violate the law also.

Here is the deal. Some states and some communities specifically ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They added sexual orientation to a laundry list of attributes that you cannot discriminate against, such as race, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, etc. If your governmental representatives are going to legislate that you cannot discriminate against folks on the basis of -- among other things -- sexual orientation, then do not be surprised when you get in trouble for discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

I read one article where the couple who owns this "New York farm" said that they have teens living on the property and that they do not want those teens thinking that a lesbian wedding is moral. Here is one possible solution that could meet that desire while staying within in the law: Have your kids go to a friend's home for a sleepover. You don't violate the law and your kids won't have any opportunities to witness any same-sex nuptials.

I do find it interesting that the "New York farm" will stop hosting weddings, but they will continue assisting with wedding receptions. Both are essentially celebrating the new couple's marriage. One is just the ceremony. The other is a dinner and dance party with lots of kissing and drinking and public displays of affection. Just something to think about if you are concerned about what your kids might see, if you see what I mean...

Personally, I wouldn't want to work with a venue that was antagonistic towards my wedding. This is to be one of the most special days in my life. I don't want to run the risk of the venue staff treating my family or my guests badly. There are other venues who would gladly work with a gay or lesbian couple and I will gladly spend my money there instead.

Anyway, that original Craigslist post prompted this response:
Remember this post. Holy men are next. Gays will start taking legal action against holy men and churches that refuse to provide marriage services to them.
Remember the whole "public accommodation" thing? Churches are private religious entities. They are free to discriminate against anyone that they want. That's why certain denominations get away with banning female leaders. That's why they can refuse or revoke membership to anyone.

That's why this Baptist church in Missouri was well within its legal rights to cancel this wedding two years ago because the couple is black. It's true that there was public backlash against the pastor and the church for making that choice. But nobody ever said that there aren't consequences for the choices that one makes.

Gay marriage has existed in at least one corner of the USA for over a decade -- even longer if you count Vermont and its civil unions. Have you ever heard of a church sued or fined for refusing to allow a gay wedding on its premises? No. Have you ever heard of a pastor (or a priest or a rabbi, etc.) being sued or jailed for refusing a gay wedding? No.

I have heard of politicians who have sought to ban chaplains from voluntarily choosing to officiate at gay weddings.

I have heard of denominations that have punished and defrocked minister after officiating at gay weddings.

I have personally assisted gay couples (back when I was a receptionist at a gay-affirming UCC church) get in touch with my pastor to discuss wedding planning. They had been referred by pastors at other churches who refused to allow their wedding. And that was the legal right of that church and that pastor.

And don't get me started when it comes to churches who legally cancel funerals because the deceased was gay, or churches who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, or religious schools who fire staff because they are gay and/or gay married, etc., etc., etc.

So stop worrying about churches getting sued by gay activists. Because it isn't happening and if it ever does happen, they will be quickly laughed out of court.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robots Protest Fryfest Over Pink Locker Rooms

Roughly 25 robotic activists protested Fryfest yesterday, an event honoring former University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry. This "Million Robot March Against Pink Locker Rooms" was organized by the RoboProfessor and his human counterpart, UI Professor/frequent prankster Kembrew McLeod. The RoboProfessor and his robotic counterparts were protesting the UI's pink-colored visitor's locker room:
McLeod is calling for the school to ditch the pink, which he says amounts to a school-sanctioned taunt that exudes homophobia and sexism. He said previous protests haven't been successful, so he's taken an absurd approach to draw attention to the issue.
Hayden Fry had the walls within the visitor's locker room painted pink back in 1979. The University of Iowa has continued this tradition over the years despite periodic public objections. Back in 2005, the UI stepped up the pink coloring in the visitor's locker room, adding "pink across brick walls and shower floors and (installing) pink metal lockers, carpeting, sinks, showers and urinals."

Fry and his supporters always claimed that they used pink coloring to subconsciously calm and pacify their football opponents. And there appears to be some data that backs that suggestion up... to a point:
While pink's calming effect has been demonstrated, researchers of color psychology have found that this effect only occurs during the initial exposure to the color. When used in prisons, inmates often become even more agitated once they become accustomed to the color.
The robot protest appears to have met its goal. It attracted a lot of attention and encouraged people to rethink the purpose and the need for the UI's pink locker room:
About 25 protestors turned out for the march, many of whom, like McCleod, came costumed as robots. Security at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center wouldn’t allow the protestors to march through the building to the convention hall, as planned, so the robots made a quick march around the exterior of the hotel, drawing more than a few sideways looks, along with “we like pink” chants from some fans.

“It was fun, and it was nice that no one tried to beat us up,” joked McLeod, who has donned a robot costume to heckle Bill Clinton and Michele Bachmann in Iowa City in past years. “The worst thing that was said was when someone called us weirdos, which I think is a perhaps a fair assessment. People were in good spirits.”

The protestors called on the university to change the color of the locker room, which McLeod says smacks of a juvenile taunt in the vein of calling a person a “homo” or “sissy.” McLeod has said that the lock room, which UI renovated in 2005 with new pink finishes, is “rooted in an antiquated age when homophobic and sexist epithets were the norm in sports.”
As noted above, the RoboProfessor made his last appearance here in Iowa City back in 2011 when he protested Rep. Michele Bachmann over her anti-gay policy positions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

To the Gay Christian Whose Friend Wants to Give Him an Exorcism...

I discovered another frightening discussion thread over on the GCN threads. Here is the gist: A gay Christian from a nearby community here in Iowa has a couple friends who attend a nondenominational church. Those two men are convinced that this GCNer (let's call him "Joe") is possessed by "demons and/or spirits of homosexuality." These friends want to try to exorcise these demons away from Joe.

Joe was seeking input from other GCNers. He was "fairly confident" that he is not possessed and he really doesn't look forward to sitting through an exorcism. However, he has some minor doubts and figures it couldn't hurt to undergo an exorcism "just in case." Secondly, he believes that he will serve as a witness and a testimony to his friends that they are wrong about him being possessed by an evil spirit if/when they fail at exorcising a demon. He thinks that these men will come to the realization that "maybe you can be gay AND Christian, and maybe God does bless committed, monogamous same-sex marriages." Joe then sought opinions from the rest of GCN.

Most people thought that Joe was crazy for considering this. A few had participated in similar exorcisms before. Most of those folks were traumatized by the effort and none of them experienced any change. At least two people noted that Joe himself will be blamed if the exorcism fails. It will be seen as evidence of his lack of faith and of the power of that particular demon.

But then this one GCNer (let's call him "Blaine") stepped up and encouraged Joe to let them perform the exorcism. Blaine believes that this failure will surely shake the faith of these two Christian friends. He believes that Joe should be fine if he undergoes this exorcism because obviously there is no spirit of homosexuality inhabiting him.

And Joe agreed with Blaine. He is certain that these two friends mean well. They just want to help him.

Anyway, this is where I lost my patience!

I have my own experience with a well-meaning Christian who once wanted to help someone out with the assistance of an exorcism. Several years ago, I worked with a young nonverbal teen who's diagnosed with a severe intellectual disability and who frequently displayed aggressive behaviors. He was in foster care and his foster mother once sought money from my department to help her travel with him to a guy who is experienced with performing exorcisms on disabled kids with behavioral problems. My department turned down her funding request and I threatened to report her to the DHS if she ever followed through with her exorcism plans on her own. But can you imagine?

I pointed out to Joe that I don't believe that his friends actually mean well. There is enough evidence out there in the world and within the church for anyone with an open mind and an open heart to realize that this type of thing doesn't actually help LGBT people. In fact, it usually kills their faith. All because of well-meaning Christians.

Who goes up to someone and recommends that they get an exorcism? And why would you allow them to perform an exorcism just because they asked? Did Joe need an exorcism two weeks ago? If so, why? If not, why now? Because his "friend" believes that he is infected with demons? Based on what? What are the signs of demon possession? Not only that, but what makes Joe believe that these guys actually have the spiritual gifts needed to successfully perform an exorcism? Have they done this before?

And then I went off on Blaine. I mean, if Blaine believes that Joe should offer himself up for an exorcism just because his friend demands it of him and Blaine believes that this would be a wonderful teaching tool for would-be homo-spiritbusters, why doesn't Blaine himself offer himself up for an exorcism at his nearest anti-gay nondenominational church? It's easy to tell someone else to allow a bunch of religious nuts to gang up on him for hours at a time and yell and scream and do everything in their power to rip supposed spirits from his soul. But it's not so easy to follow your own advise.

My final message to Joe: You don't own these people an exorcism. Don't do it. And then find some new friends.

Two Men Arrested // Three Kids Placed with DHS from Eldridge, IA, Meth House // UPDATE on 08/29/14: Third Person Arrested in Conncetion to this Case

(Originally written on 08/28/14): Two men have been arrested and three kids placed in DHS care earlier today after police discovered an operational meth lab at a home in Eldridge, IA.

Those arrested included 33-year-old homeowner Nolan DuFloth and 24-year-old roommate Benjamin Meyers. The two men have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine with children present, which is a class B felony; and three counts of child endangerment -- meth exposure, which is a class D felony. It is possible that other charges will be filed against the men in the future.

As noted above, three children also lived in this home. Their ages are 2-, 7-, and 10-years-old.

I have a bad feeling about this case, which was echoed by a commenter following this article:
I'm wondering about the kids. Is this a day care or are they the fathers? It really doesn't matter, they should never see those kids again but DHS will return them.
I will just leave it at that for now!

Updated on 08/29/14: There has been another arrest connected to this case. 27-year-old Amber DuFloth, the mother of these three children, was arrested from her home in Lost Nation, IA. Here is the break-down of the various charges:

*Nolan DuFloth has been charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with manufacturing methamphetamine.

*Benjamin Meyers was charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with manufacturing methamphetamine.

*Amber DuFloth has been charged with three counts of child endangerment, meth exposure and with possession of meth-making materials.

All three of their children tested positive for meth, according to police.

The two men are both being held at the Scott County Jail on $100,000 bonds and Amber DuFloth is being held on a $50,000 bond.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Archie Andrews Completes the #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

Remember the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge?" This online phenomena has raised $94.3 in donations to the ALS Association. This goes towards research and awareness efforts. It seems like everyone is doing a challenge these days (including my son, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law) -- even comic book characters!

It looks like Reggie Mantle challenged Archie Andrews to complete the "Ice Bucket Challenge," which he did with a little help from his girlfriends and artist Dan Parent, colorist Rosario Pena, and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa:

As you can see, Archie went on to nominate Batman, Wolverine, and Hellboy to complete the "Ice Bucket Challenge" next!

Omaha Cop Shoots & Kills Sound Technician from the "Cops" TV Show

A sound technician from the "Cops" television program named Bryce Dion was killed by Omaha Police last night. He was the victim of "friendly fire" during a robbery call at a local Wendy's restaurant.
Dion and (cameraman Michael) Lee had followed police officers to a Wendy's restaurant where a robbery was reported to be in progress. When police confronted the suspect he fired twice, according to witnesses cited by Schmaderer. Officers returned fire, striking the suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, multiple times. One shot also hit Dion.

It turned out that shot could not have come from Washington, because the suspect was only armed with an Airsoft pistol, which fires plastic pellets.

Despite his injuries, Washington managed to escape out the back door before he collapsed in the Wendy's parking lot. It was there police discovered he had not been armed with a real pistol.

"The Airsoft pistol looks and functions like an actual firearm," Schmaderer said. Police presented stills from video of the robbery to demonstrate why the officers felt the suspect was threatening them with a real handgun.
According to CNN, Washington tried escaping from the police through a portion of the restaurant where Dion was positioned.

The "Cops" team has been filming alongside Omaha Police since June 2014. The program plans to air "six or seven" episodes based out of Omaha.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey Iowa City! Have You Seen This Guy?

The Iowa City Police Department is asking for help from the public. They want to know if you recognize this guy. He is a white guy wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans and appears to be vandalizing one of the downtown parking ramp arms. The incident in question took place on 08/21/14.

Anyone who knows anything about this incident of criminal mischief is encouraged to contact the Iowa City Area Crime Stoppers program at 319-358-TIPS (8477). Your call will be confidential. You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to the arrest of this suspect.

Girl Accidentally Kills Gun Instructor with Uzi

A 9-year-old girl was traumatized earlier today after killing her shooting instructor with an Uzi at the Burgers & Bullets shooting range/restaurant near Las Vegas, NV:
A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday. Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff's officials said. Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said. Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. Her name was not released.
According to the website, Burgers & Bullets has a minimum age of 8-years-old to shoot their weapons. However, you must be accompanied by your parent or legal guardian at all times.