IE9 to include alternative CSS.2012 standard instead of following anything remotely like the rest of the world.

Social tagging initiative from WaSP to physically tag bad web designers.

Opera hits 106/100 on Acid3 after discovering an Easter egg in the test.

The openSUSE mailing list announced OpenSUSE 4.1, with KDE 4.1, GNOME 4.1, MP41 support, OpenOffice 4.1, XEN 4.1, VirtualBox 4.1, and a 4-in-1 CD install.

Added: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sent out a newsletter detailing its findings on a Congressional Listening program (apparently they monitor citizens for their opinions—who knew?), plans to move the EFF offices to an armored zeppelin, an NSA-sponsored social networking site (to “allow ordinary Americans to instantly share their private data with the government”), and Homeland Security’s conclusion that Wikipedia is a “Larger Threat Than Terrorism, Dixie Chicks Combined.” Sadly, the newsletter does not appear to be archived on the website.

Added: Virgle, a Virgin/Google joint venture to establish a permanent colony on Mars. Now seeking applicants for Martian pioneers. Takes the Google moon base from 2004 to the next level.

Added: A co-worker pointed out that all of YouTube’s featured videos are Rickrolls today. And it looks like Google is going all-out with some 15 hoaxes today. *whew!*

The Internet Storm Center is keeping a list as well.

Tales from the Bully Pulpit (Cover)At long last, I’ve located a copy of Tales from the Bully Pulpit!

It’s a sci-fi comedy graphic novel featuring a time-traveling Teddy Roosevelt and the ghost of Thomas Edison, battling a descendant of Adolf Hitler. On Mars. Wearing mecha armor. (No, really, I am not making this up!)

Seriously, how can you co wrong with that?

I have no idea how I managed to miss the comic when it came out 3 years ago, since I had thought from previews that it looked like fun, but by the time I got around to looking for it, it was too late.

It’s out of print and (for the most part) out of stock. No luck at local stores, it’s not even mentioned at Mile High Comics, I didn’t see it at Comic-Con, and even the used copies available through Amazon start at $80!

So I’ve been watching eBay for months, waiting for a copy to show up and hoping I won’t get bid out of my price range. The last one I saw went up to $52. Last week, I somehow managed to get one for only $27. It arrived this weekend (though the post office ignored the multiple “DO NOT BEND” stamps and crammed it into the mailbox. grrr…)

The book’s hilarious. Sci-fi, comedy, history, and meta-references are just thrown together with the only priority being fun. Especially when it comes down to the final confrontation between Roosevelt and wannabe-Hitler, and all the stops come out.

Now I’ll have to check out the annotations thread.

Collected Editions reviewed it just last week. Critiques on Infinite Earths is worth a quick look as well.

Update January 2013: You can now buy the book digitally through ComiXology.

(Cover scan from the Grand Comics Database)

I decided to go for it, and set my alarm for 2:30 AM (ick) to see the eclipse. The moon was nearing totality at that point, with a too-shallow crescent near the bottom and the rest in slightly reddish shadow. My original plan was to lie down on the balcony and watch, but it turned out there was a tree in the way, but if I went over to the other end, by the patio table, I was able to see it.

I watched as the crescent shrank to a sliver, and finally the moon was shaded dark red to dull red to light red to a much dimmer white than usual. The deeper reds slowly spread across its face, edging out the brighter colors near the edge of the Earth’s shadow.

I brought my cheesy little digital camera, and took some photos. It promptly started warning me the battery was low, and I had to dig around in the dark to find the spare. I think this is the best of the pictures, as far as showing the eclipsed moon itself goes:

Moon in eclipse
Eclipsed Moon, 3:13 AM

Earlier in the evening I was testing different shutter settings. I thought this photo from the floor of the balcony turned out interesting:

Balcony lit by full moon

Yes, that’s lit by moonlight (in a long exposure).

OK, I’m going out to take one last look at the moon (I think I heard the downstairs neighbors’ door open a few minutes ago, so at least I’m not the only one up for this) and then go back to bed. I’ll look through my photos again tomorrow and post anything else that looks good.

Update: Here’s a shot from deeper in totality, just after the mid-point of the eclipse:

Lunar Eclipse - orange moon
Eclipsed Moon, 3:40 AM

PleiadesAnd here’s the Pleiades, which I spotted when I turned around and looked up. A far cry from this, but hey, I figured I was doing pretty well to be getting photos of stars with this type of camera in the first place.

I think the last time I saw the Pleiades, Hyades, Taurus and Orion in August, I was something like 14 and on a trip with my scout troop to do whitewater rafting. We slept out under the stars and I just happened to wake up at 3 in the morning.

OK, sleep is calling to me. Signing off…

Update 2: After I went to bed, I realized that I shouldn’t have dismissed my idea of scrounging up some film and pulling my manual SLR camera out of the closet. Between the better optics, more shutter control, and an actual telephoto lens, I probably would have gotten considerably better pictures. I just don’t think we have any rolls of film lying around that haven’t expired, and I didn’t want to run out at 11:00 to get some. Ah, well. Something to think about for next time.

Also, I realized that these blurry pictures look kind of like a Moon-sized version of Mars. Hmm, that might confuse some people. 馃槈

Update 3: You have to check out Thursday’s APOD: an incredible telescopic image of the moon taken during totality.

Some interesting comments by Warren Ellis in today’s Bad Signal on film budgets, and Superman Returns in particular.

$250 million puts you in spacelaunch-budget territory. For $250 million WB could’ve given Bryan Singer his own communications satellite and spent the change on a George Clooney movie.

This is the absurdity of modern Hollywood; that taking more than the GNP of Luxembourg in a single weekend is not actually enough to put a movie in the black.

It’s the “spacelaunch” comment that I find most interesting, as I made the same comparison a few years ago, from the other side of the fence: Assuming that the Spirit and Opportunity missions to Mars are typical, price-wise, it doesn’t make sense to complain that we’re “wasting” money on space exploration when a mission costs as much as two summer blockbusters. Manned missions are, of course, more expensive, but robotic missions? If we, as a society, toss away $250 million several times a year on mindless action flicks, what’s so terrible about spending a similar amount to learn something about our universe?

Yes, I know the difference is public vs. private funding. Movies are financed by studios and private investors, and space exploration is usually financed by governments, and therefore by taxes. But comparing the dollar amounts puts things in a different perspective—whether you’re astonished by the literally astronomical movie budgets, or realizing that exploring outer space is more down to Earth than it seems at first glance.

The Grand Comics Database* is a project to index the titles, dates, credits, covers, and character appearances in every comic book ever published. A sidebar on the home page shows the latest cover scan contributed. A couple of days ago, that cover scan was this:

Cover of Commies From Mars: The Red Planet

The image links to the GCD entry, which is still a stub right now, but apaprently it was printed in 1973 by Kitchen Sink Press. Here’s the kid’s thought balloon:

I’ll play along with these filthy commie invaders from Mars until I can get to my shotgun! I’m little, but I’m all American!

On a related note, I’ve just made reservations to see Scott Shaw!’s show, Oddball Comics, running in LA through February (hat tip: News From ME).

*I’ve found it very useful for finding info for my Flash site. Unfortunately it isn’t big on supporting characters, so I’m still tracking down issues myself to fill in the details. On the other hand, this way I can acutually read the stories.