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Archive for September, 2007

Young Witches by Solano Lopez

Posted by Adrian on September 24, 2007

(cover Vol 2)

You have to check this comic out.

Yes this an adult comic, very explicit sex, violent, crazy and just off the scale. The stories are centered around two young witches by the names of Lilian and Agath living in London in the early 1900’s. A bizarre ensemble of characters from Jack the Ripper, Freud, Dr. Jekyll, Sherlock Homes and various other 19th Century and even early 20th Century icons.

The art by Solano Lobez is detailed and lush.

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Posted in Popular Culture/Culture | 4 Comments »

Power of Nightmares docomentary – Directior Adam Curtis (2004)

Posted by Adrian on September 24, 2007

One of the most poignant, and in my opinion, accurate assessments on the so called ‘war on terror’, Islamic extremism and neo conservatism.

Very well thought out journalism, that investigates and analyzes the connection with current political environments. How the fear and paranoia of individualism, stemming from the early aspects of the 1950’s both politically and culturally – was the cause for the rise of Islamic extremism and Western neo conservatism.

The ‘nightmares’ of a phantom enemy and ‘decadent’ society are an allusion used to stop the rise of individual thought and desire in both the West and the East. The basis of this allusion is religion and traditionalist values, which bind the myth of iconic moral representatives to a societies conformed sense of belonging.

But as the director Adam Curtis explain towards the end of the documentary, once we realise that there was no specific terrorist enemy and the nightmare visions of our leaders are nothing more than allusions; fears used to wear down a free thinking society. Society will eventually turn away from the power of nightmares and a mythical enemy, which didn’t exist in the first place.

Pleases note the Power of Nightmares documentary is viewed in three parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | 1 Comment »

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Worldwide economic depression.(update 6)

Posted by Adrian on September 20, 2007

World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Worldwide economic depression.

Robert Shiller, a Yale university economist, has now compared the current collapse of the US housing market with the Great Depression. The comparison is the massive decline in housing prices and the possible spread of economic problems associated with the housing meltdown in America. Financial Times September 19 2007

” Robert Shiller, a Yale university economist, told a US congressional panel that he feared ‘the collapse of home prices might turn out to be the most severe since the Great Depression. The decline in house prices stands to create future dislocations, like the credit crisis we have just seen,’ he told the Senate’s joint economic committee.”

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Federal Reserve cuts 50 basis points, dropping the US interest rate to 4.75%

Posted by Adrian on September 18, 2007

Will this ease the market? Yes in the very short term, Wall Street rallied and Dow Jones closed at 336 points.

But this will not ease or stop the widespread panic in the financial system, namely the persistent problems with interbank lending and general public distress at banks that require emergency funding, note Northern Rock in the UK.

Reports:

Bloomberg

CNNBusiness

Commentary and blog – Professor Nouriel Roubini

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World Crisis scenarios for the 21st century – Peak Oil. (update 3)

Posted by Adrian on September 12, 2007

On the commodity futures Oil reached $80.00 a barrel after dropping back to $79.91. Is this a sole combination of investors and demand pushing up the price? Regardless, there appears to be increasing shortages of Oil in The US, and Opec is increasing their oil quota to feed a shortage problem.

“This bolstered concerns of supply pressures over the winter months. ‘We are getting increasingly into a drier situation in respect with the amount of gasoline in storage’, said John Kilduff, an analyst at MF Global. “There is zero room for error.”

Article: BBC news Wednesday September 12th 2007

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Credit markets still vulnerable. Liquidity still an issue for the world banks. European mortgage and debt markets next to collapse after the US?

Posted by Adrian on September 7, 2007

The credit crisis that has developed across all the banking sectors worldwide is still spreading and causing jitters in interbank lending. The risk? Refinancing. From possible bad debt sitting in conduits. The mortgage crisis in America has spread, costing investments banks, retail banks, mutual funds and hedge funds billions. Balance sheets have shrunken and the redefining of risk and accounts has occurred. This is a serious and unmistakable precursor to a wider situation occurring in the financial sector. One that is the current credit crunch and a liquidity issue, with the amount of commercial debt, collaterized debt obligations and other complex financial investment instruments; the other is the rising costs for borrowers, who will inevitably feel the sting as the banks reign in costs. Credit spreads widen, and interest rates will inevitably increase. From the interbank interest rate to the bank to borrower interest rate. So the subprime, or general mortgage crisis in America (the constant rising defaults and foreclosures) will possibly be a worldwide event too. Spain, UK, Italy and other parts of Europe have huge over inflated property markets Spain particularly is suffering from massive mortgage debt and household debt, refer to graph:

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Does this equate to a dramatic slow down in the Spanish economy? Possibly as the credit markets worldwide are tightening their risk, the credit crunch may have harsher detrimental effect to economies that have accelerating faster than others, such as the Spanish economy. From the International Herald Tribune August 23, 2007:

“Spanish household debt is also among the highest in Europe at 130 percent of disposable income. Heavy borrowing means Spanish banks are cranking up credit restrictions despite expectations the European Central Bank may be near the end of its rate tightening cycle.

Tighter borrowing conditions are beginning to be a worry due to the already high levels of debt,” said Deloitte in a recent research note on Spain.”

Is the rest of Europe vulnerable? With the current credit crisis and liquidity crisis occurring amongst banks, there is also underling increases in inflation. Most likely the inflation will occur from food prices, particularly bread, pasta and other wheat prices increasing due to the global demand on wheat markets, Times Online article 6 September 2007:

” According to the International Grain Council, wheat stocks are at their lowest level for 25 years and exports from the big five wheat producers — the EU, the US, Australia, Canada and Argentina have halved in three years.”

The European Central Bank recently (6 September 2007) left interests rates on hold at 5.75 percent, Bloomberg article 6th September 2007:

“The ECB finds itself in a dilemma,” said Rainer Guntermann, an economist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt. Economic fundamentals require at least one more rate increase and inflation concerns haven’t eased. On the other hand, it needs to deal with market turbulence.”

Europe may also be facing a housing mortgage /debt problem, ignited by the US decaying mortgage crisis and their accompanying bad debt circulating around the world.

link refs:

Herald Tribune

Bloomberg

Times Online

Posted in Finance and Economics. Strategy and Society | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Spotlight on ‘Thuderbolts’ Marvel Comics. Writer Warren Ellis, Artist Mike Deodato

Posted by Adrian on September 4, 2007

new_thunderbolts_1.jpg

Warren Ellis is a master with his story telling, and his version of the Thunderbolts is a reminder how good he is at creating a believable and solid story. The Art by Mike Deodato is nothing less than incredible, like a movie, the sequences and spreads are fluid. With a lot of character emotion and are action packed. Ellis has a style which in all retrospect is quite dark, unique and in someways frightening, as far as his visions of the future. Although Thunderbolts is based in the present time, the story does however allow Ellis to explore some of the inconsistencies of the current ‘American Way’ policies. In which he exposes the seething underbelly of discontent and overzealous ambition within that style of policy making. You can see this in his writing of the various Thunderbolts characters.

The Thunderbolts story takes place after the Civil War which is now officially over, with finite wisdom of the bureaucratic powers at be, it has been decided that a group of super-villains will be the official Marshals in hunting down renegade superheroes who haven’t committed to the registration act. Which is an act that is to ensure that all super humans are registered to the American government after the Stamford disaster. One of the interesting aspects in the comic and Ellis writing of the Thunderbolt characters, is the near impossible feat in trying to regulate the chaotic, that being a bunch of superhero criminals who are now attack dogs for the US government. It’s a good theme, and Ellis seems to enjoy revealing the flaws in the conservatively rigid, especially if it’s connected to a society that is over regulated and ruled.

The team, well you have Bullseye, quite possible one of the most psychopathic characters in the Marvel Universe. If you ever followed him in Frank Millers Daredevil and other encounters with various Marvel characters. You would know what he is capable of; a psychotic contract killer who enjoys his job in human destruction, and he is good at it.

Moonstone, you know Deodato likes to draw his female characters a certain way. So you can’t ignore the amount of sex appeal he projects with Moonstone, the groups default leader – a blond statuesque woman who is manipulative and a trained psychologist. Not the most pleasant character. Ellis is able to handle her well, he keeps the excess down as far as the ‘super bitch’ persona. But rather creates some good depth to the character. Although unlikable, as far as personality, she has a role to play apart from her driven ruthless ambition.

Songbird, the balanced and sensible ex-team leader (replaced by Moonstone, who is currently conspiring to kill Songbird ). Ellis writes her as the slightly vulnerable, yet strong character who attempts to rationalize the team – as far as trying to make the project work. Ellis introduced Songbird as the female who made a so called sexual mistake (sleeping with the enemy). The team manager or administrator Norman Osbourne uses this mistake against her to participate in the team and demote her as the team leader. Songbird is the decent and appealing character in the team, although it’s interesting how Ellis looks at the common and unbalanced view on human sexuality (Songbirds apparent misdemeanor). In other words how sex can get a female in trouble more so than a male. Deodato is able keep the sex appeal with Songbird, but not in the over ambitious sense he does with Moonstone.

Penance, the sadomasochistic, guilt ridden nut case. Who wears a suit akin to a Iron Maiden torture devise, where the spikes are pointed inward. Ellis seems to be having a fun time with Penance, definitely an interesting character who’s powers are activated by his self inflicted pain. Clearly mentally unstable, as we see in #114 when he physically destroyers a fellow prisoner (who accused him off being a child killer). Deodeto, as he done with other issues of the Thunderbolts, draws some of the most intense actions sequences you’ll see in a comic. Especially the brutal and violent assault on a fellow prisoner by Penance.

Swordsman, I actually no little about this character. But like the rest of the Thunderbolts, he has mental issues too.

Radioactive Man who is a physicist from China once a known supervillian, now reformed and working for the Thunderbolts

Venom, again a guy with issues who has donned the Venom symbiont, who once activated becomes almost uncontrollable.

To top all this off is Norman Osbourne the team administrator aka the Green Goblin, who it appears is on anti psychotic drugs to keep his paranoid obsession of Spiderman at bay. So you have a bunch of deranged and problematic super villains, lead by Osbourne who is trying to hold the whole thing together, whilst keeping his own psychotic behavior in check by popping pills.

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Thunderbolts could be your standard superhero/supervillian group which would make the comic quite generic in that sense. But Ellis knows how to warp stories and keep the general storyline suspenseful; regarding the characters and their interaction with each other. He is an unpredictable writer and the Thunderbolts is an unpredictable comic, which is good, it keeps you wondering what will happen next.

The general situations in the comic are adult based, as far as the power struggle between Norman Osbourne, the ambitious Moonstone and sensible Songbird. It has a corporate, business feel to it, as far as the ruthlessness that can and does take place in work environments – which is the internal political and sexual power brokering. But as I said Ellis is an unpredictable writer, and the characters which is the Thunderbolts team are far from an orderly bunch.

An exerts from the comics

Moonstone and Norman Osbourne

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Bullseye goes bonkers. Venom on the attack

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