Raising Your Regular Wage: Conclusion


The refrain of the last few financial posts should be: Regular wage increases are not the solution to the problem of debt; control of spending is the only way out. What an increased income provides is a speedy way to get toward where you are aiming, but whether you’re pointed at increased or decreased debt has everything to do with your habits and your will power. If the take home message is that we shouldn’t worry as much about increasing revenue as we should about decreasing spending, then what was the purpose of all of these posts about increasing your regular wages? The system of these posts is guided by attacking our budget from largest factor to smallest factor, which means that, assuming your budget balances, your income is going to be the largest portion of the equation.

I have had three major influences in my own personal financial research, Mr. Money Mustache, Dave Ramsey, and Strike Debt. While Mr. Money Mustache and Dave Ramsey focus mostly on the personal responsibility for your financial well-being, Strike Debt focuses on how policy and power structures either enable or disable your ability to stay out of debt. I prefer to take the broad spectrum approach, because the problem of debt involves both personal and corporate responsibility.

If we do not win the head game and become personally responsible in all aspects of our lives, it wouldn’t matter whether we’re in a socioeconomic utopia or surrounded by leeches who bleed us dry; in all circumstances, irresponsible people will lose their money. When it comes to personal responsibility we have already dealt with the obvious routes toward making more money — getting a raise, getting a promotion, and getting a higher paying job. Clearly, there are other issues here that we didn’t spend any time on like transitioning from temporary employment to permanent employment, moving from part time employment to full time employment, and keeping a job once you have it. I didn’t feel like I personally had any insight regarding these issues, but I would love to give a signal boost to anyone who is interested in tackling these issues. I welcome guest posts and I will liberally share your blog posts if you send them my way.

Whereas personal economic responsibility is often limited by current practices and laws, our corporate responsibility for our debt reaches above and beyond policy and procedures. In other words, once you have reached the end of your possibilities for economic growth you need to focus on opening up other possibilities. If we created a community based on economic responsibility, the assumption is that the ground would be fertile for people to succeed. There is also the dangerously irresponsible individual that I mentioned above who will always be a hazard in any society, but those people are less common in an environment where people are concerned with the economic well-being of all of their neighbors. When you’re surrounded by people who are making the right decisions, you make the right decisions on accident. To create this world, we have to create a system that assures that everybody has acquired certain basic needs, that enables higher earning for lower and middle class families, and that eliminates the predatory practices that tend to enslave the many to the whims of the few. Our focus for discussing the kind of actions that aim to change policy was the Fight for $15 and expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), but these are clearly only the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to fixing what is wrong with our community, the only things setting limits on us are our collective imagination and our collective passion.

To wrap up the topic of increasing your regular rate of pay, I wanted to shift from the quantitative issues of more income and less spending to some qualitative issues that come up every single day as our workplaces define our lives. I want to talk about turning our time at work into quality time.

The most common phrases regarding employment are “working for the weekend,” or “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” but if we were satisfied by what goes on while we are on the clock we would say much stranger things like “working for the week,” or “it is always now here.” What these sentiments sum up are that we currently want to speed up time while we are at work while slowing down time when we are free from our labors. There are few things I can think of that are more disgusting than wishing that you could just throw away eight hours each day, looking toward the clock hoping it might be over soon, or that time with the family is tainted by degrees as the amount of hours until you’re back at work tick down. For the sake of our collective sanity, I think we ought to find a way to eliminate this anxiety by being present to what we’re doing at all times and getting to a point where we are no longer concerned with the passage of time. These worries are stealing years from our lives, and that’s just not something that we can afford to lose.

The easiest step toward adding value to your work life is to build up your relationships with your co-workers. Even if you continue to view your job as intolerable, your co-workers at the very least are the people who suffer through it all with you. Get to know the people around you. Find some common ground. Whatever you think is so important in your own head is probably not quite as important as the random value that another person can add to your life. This is probably really easy for most people, but it isn’t for me. I can be loud and over-the-top, but all of this is just a coping mechanism for an introvert who is constantly forced into social situations. While you’re learning to love your co-workers not as lovers, friends, or relatives, but as co-workers — which I think is an important and overlooked type of love — you can join together and determine how you can add value to your work life in other ways. Through some combination of personal pride, entertainment, challenge, and probably a lot of other factors that aren’t immediately coming to my mind, the goal is to enjoy even the most mundane facets of your job.

The best model for determining whether or not your job provides everything you need is asking yourself whether you would still work there in the event that you no longer needed the money. If you had enough money to retire tomorrow, would you still work for your current employer? If not, where would you be working? If so, are there any things that you would do differently? There are plenty of reasons to leave your job for something else. Maybe you need more money, maybe you need to live closer to home, maybe you need better hours, but have you ever considered what your life would be like if you loved every moment of your day whether you’re at work or at home or off somewhere spending your money?

There is still plenty to study pertaining to the paycheck, and I hope the other portions of the breakdown might end up as enlightening as the search for a higher wage has been for me. At the very least, I got to spend some time reading some interesting bills, rulings, and speeches surrounding Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Deal, and the establishment of the first federal minimum wage. I didn’t expect to touch on any of these issues when we started down this path. As I focus on moving forward, I may throw in some more quality of life posts as I focus on transitioning toward making my passion (writing) into a career. Wherever we go, I want you to come with me. I appreciate all of the people who contributed their two cents and helped direct our studies. I hope those of you who really got involved will stick around and I hope that we can stir up some more interest with some of the other interesting people who surround us.

Your homework for the next post: What are your feelings on overtime? Do you wish you had more of it? Less of it? Do you wish you got paid more for it? Taxed less for it? Can you think of any issues regarding overtime that might be interesting to talk about?

Documentary Round-Up

A co-worker of mine recently expressed an interest in learning more about Scientology so I recommended the recent HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015).


This lead to a broader discussion about great documentaries. The discussion was good enough that I thought I would publish the results. Here are some of the better recent documentaries that I can remember seeing:

6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park (2011)


Don’t doubt my credibility simply because I started this list with a documentary about the making of South Park. You’ll have plenty of reasons to doubt my credibility when it starts coming to the conspiracy-based documentaries. What 6 Days to Air delivers is an incredibly human perspective on a couple of creators who seem to put themselves above everyone else’s criticism. Who is South Park co-creator Trey Parker the most critical toward? Scientologists? Mormons? David Hasselhoff? The correct answer is that Trey Parker is the most critical about himself and his own art.

Citizenfour (2014)


If you’re lucky, Citizenfour will convince you that Edward Snowden’s thought process got derailed somewhere along the way, because otherwise you’re bound to start believing that there is a massive global surveillance scheme in which everything you say and do is being monitored. Regardless of the outcome, Citizenfour paints a rare picture of a man who will either be considered a traitor or a great patriot for years to come.

Dark Days (2000)


I have always been interested in “hidden cities.” There are societies rumored to exist beneath Berlin, Portland, and, of course, New York City. In Dark Days, we actually get to follow the lives of several people who live off the grid and then some in abandoned subway tunnels beneath New York City. It is amazing how well some of these people are able to live compared to their above-ground counterparts. This film definitely gets you thinking.

Dogs on the Inside (2014)


The first of two prison documentaries on the list, Dogs on the Inside follows several prison inmates who have decided to take in rescue animals and train them to be good pets. The heartwarming part of this documentary is the two-way benefit. The dogs find out that they don’t have to fear abuse or neglect, and the prisoners get a chance at emotional rehabilitation. This one is definitely a tear-jerker.

The Elephant in the Living Room (2010)


In my home town there has always been a rumor that there is a guy at the end of a long driveway who has giraffes and other exotic animals. My curiosity about people keeping exotic animals as pets lead me to checking out The Elephant in the Living Room. The documentary is mostly interesting but at one point it gets really disturbing. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)


This documentary is about street artist Thierry Guetta and his strange attempt at greatness. What draws you in are the diaspora of street art artists centered around Banksy who are interviewed and the contrast between Guetta’s obvious flaws and his amazing drive to fake it until he makes it.

Indie Game: The Movie (2012)


It is not exactly easy to make a living off of video game creation, but a handful of creatives have achieved the sublime and succeeded at creating some truly fantastic independent games, some of which might give EA or Activision a run for their money, but you don’t make it this far without sacrifice. If you don’t think there was any blood, sweat, or tears shed in the making of Super Meat Boy, Braid, or Fez, then you are certainly wrong.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)


Jiro Dreams of Sushi is one of the most brilliantly shot documentaries I have ever seen. One would think that the film crew has the same kind of work ethic as Jiro, the sushi chef who has devoted every ounce of his being and every moment of his time to becoming the best there is at what he does. When reflecting on the tough economic climate in the United States, it is hard not to wonder what things would look like if we all focused on increasing our skill the way that Jiro does while preparing sushi.

Loose Change 911: An American Coup (2009)


It is certainly controversial to suggest that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were an inside job, but nobody is forcing you to jump to conclusions. Loose Change examines details regarding the destruction in New York City and elsewhere that just don’t seem to add up. Paranoia is a dangerous and discrediting disorder, but healthy suspicion on the other hand ought to be a pre-requisite for patriotism.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (2011)


When I lived in New York City I remembered seeing this strange inscription in the middle of a cross walk, but I was drunk so I didn’t pay it much heed. A few years later, I became enamored with the documentary Resurrect Dead which deals with these cryptic messages claiming that the dead can be resurrected on Jupiter as witnessed by Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This documentary really creeped me out.

Serving Life (2011)


The second of two prison documentaries on this list, Serving Life shows what can happen when convicts are given a chance to do good for their community by serving as end of life hospice care practitioners. If you’re the least bit concerned with prison reform, consider what might come from giving prisoners on good behavior an opportunity at meaningful and possible life-changing employment. In fact, imagine what it would be like if we all had some kind of meaning at our day-to-day job.

TINY: A Story About Living Small (2013)


For most people there is a serious dilemma that occurs when you get to a certain age. You have to decide if you want to spend your life travelling or if you want to buy a house and stay in the same place for your whole life. However, there is a growing group of people who have decided to take a middle path. They build small houses on top of a trailer and take them wherever they go. TINY certainly forced me to reassess my concept of housing. Just keep in mind, if you have a significant other you both have to agree to live this way. You can’t force an issue like this.

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My personal belief is that not all documentaries have enough content or are not gripping enough to warrant a 90-120 minute length. The documentaries I chose for this list not only justify their runtime, but each of them brought me a great deal of inspiration during a time when I was, as Jackson Browne would say, “running on empty.” You don’t have to be particularly interested in the specific subject matter of each of these films. Just try them out when you need a little more oomph to your viewing schedule. You won’t be disappointed.

Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens – Focus on Family (SPOILERS)


I’ve watched enough of J.J. Abrams’ films and television shows to know that one of his central themes is “daddy issues.” Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (TFA) is no exception. There are quite a few angles that we can approach talking about the new Star Wars film, and I am beginning to understand that it is going to take a few posts to get through this, but I think the most central approach to TFA is from the angle of family.

Many of us made sure to rewatch Episodes I-VI prior to seeing TFA for the first time, and in so doing we exposed ourselves to a genealogy. This genealogy has been used to suggest that Episode VII’s protagonist Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker. Episodes I-III recount the story of Anakin Skywalker, the grandfather with great power. In Episodes IV-VI, we follow Luke Skywalker — presumably the father — and his hero’s quest to redeem his own dad. The assumption is that Episodes VII-IX are going to follow Rey, the daughter of Luke Skywalker and granddaughter of Anakin.

Though I love this argument’s comparison between George Lucas’s trilogy of trilogies and the generations of a family, I think this simplified form can be misleading. While Anakin and Luke are certainly the central figures of their respective trilogies, the stories that occur are much bigger than that. While it is suggested that Anakin’s mother gave birth to him without her ever experiencing the touch of a man, there is never a suggestion that Luke simply jumped out of the loins of Anakin Skywalker. The generation that is exemplified by Anakin Skywalker also includes Padme Amidala, the materfamiglia and a dynamic character in her own right. Similarly, it wasn’t just Luke Skywalker who was hidden from the Empire by the remaining heroes of the Jedi Order and the Republic. Leia was taken in by Bale Organa, and the story of A New Hope is one of reuniting a family (Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Leia Organa) that had been purposely dispersed. How does this play into the assertion that Rey is Luke Skywalker’s daughter? First and foremost, if all we need is another generation in the Skywalker bloodline we need nobody other than Kylo Ren to fulfill that requirement. He is the grandson of Anakin and the nephew / apprentice of Luke and there is plenty of reason to believe that his own struggle is meant to be the main storyline for Episodes VII-IX. I will admit that it is probably likely that Rey is either the child of Leia and Han (and younger sister of Kylo Ren) or the daughter of Luke Skywalker and some unknown mother, but I don’t think the structure of the trilogies necessitates that she is of this same bloodline. It is just as likely that she was simply a youngling under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker who was saved from Kylo Ren’s wrath. The theory that is really growing on me is that she is Obi Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter, and if you ever watched the 2008 series Star Wars: The Clone Wars you know that Kenobi is no stranger to the power of love and desire.

This discussion of whether Episodes VII-IX are ultimately going to be about Han and Leia’s son Kylo Ren or so-and-so and so-and-so’s daughter Rey leads me to a concept that I believe will be central to the future of this new trilogy. While we are all familiar by now with the fact that Kylo Ren has acquired Darth Vader’s mask somehow from the forest moon of Endor, there is another development in TFA that suggests a rivalry for who is ultimately the heir to Anakin Skywalker’s legacy. Another relic from the past, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, spoke directly to Rey, and it was through this action that we realize that she is meant for great things in the future as a Jedi. There is one detail that everybody seemed to skip over while talking about “Luke’s Lightsaber.” That lightsaber was not Luke’s. That is Anakin’s lightsaber, given to Luke by Obi Wan Kenobi. This leads to two interesting conclusions: 1. Maz Kanata must have gone to some great lengths to pick up the lightsaber that was last seen falling from Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, and 2. more importantly, this means that Kylo Ren and Rey are now in competition for who will be the true heir to Anakin Skywalker’s legacy. To me, this is the main question that TFA poses, pulling in ancient notions of the parent or teacher being judged by the quality of their children / students. If Kylo Ren proves the victor, then Darth Vader is the dominant personality for his grandfather and Luke is a failed Jedi Master. If Rey can overcome Ren, then Anakin Skywalker defeats Vader and Luke Skywalker is redeemed as a Master. We have seen the thesis (Anakin’s fall), and antithesis (Luke’s redemption), but what is the synthesis. Does good win? Does evil? Or do Kylo and Rey persuade one another to the middle? This is what is on the line when we talk about the conflict between Kylo Ren and Rey and because this is the last of the three trilogies we have to assume that winner takes all!

An interesting idea that a good friend of mine pointed out is the idea of father figures or surrogate fathers. While I am going to hold onto the Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader legacy as the central theme of J.J. Abrams’ trilogy, I also think that the idea of father figures is important. Prior to Han Solo’s death, Rey identified him as the closest thing she ever had to a father. From our perspectives, it looked like Han Solo learned a whole lot more from Rey than Rey did from Han, but I think from Rey’s perspective it was much different. I think we can assume that if Rey knew her parents it was only just barely. Her entire life was defined by what we saw on the screen — she lived alone and salvaged parts from a ship graveyard in order to acquire the basics of life. In Han Solo she found a kindred spirit. Sure, she was better at piloting and repairing the Millennium Falcon than Han, but Han was a caring old man with similar hobbies. In Han she gets affirmation that she is not a freak and in fact she can be a good person. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren has modeled himself after the great and powerful Darth Vader. Though we know that Han Solo is his father, he has rejected that part of his lineage and taken up another. In an interesting way, Han Solo’s compassion represents the light side of the force while Darth Vader’s indomitable power represents the dark side. It is through their choice of parental figures that they define who they want to be.

Finally, I want to tackle a couple of the side issues regarding the Skywalker family tree that people have been discussing.

First of these is the criticism of Han and Leia’s choice to name their son Ben Solo. After all, Han Solo only spent the equivalent of a long car ride with Obi Wan “Ben” Kenobi before the old man died and Princess Leia encountered him for maybe a couple of minutes. For me, this point is moot because Obi Wan Kenobi was the one who brought the family together. If he hadn’t brought Luke to the Death Star then Luke might have never met his sister Leia. Furthermore, they couldn’t have gotten off the ground without Kenobi negotiating a ride with Han Solo. This means that Luke would never have met his lifelong friend Han and Leia would have never met her significant other and the father of her child/children. There is no Skywalker/Solo/Organa family without Obi Wan Kenobi. Add to this the fact that Obi Wan Kenobi trained both Anakin and Luke Skywalker, was considered a brother by Anakin (and thus an uncle to Luke and Leia), and played lead on the scheme to place Luke with Beru and Owen Lars and Leia with Bale Organa, and suddenly Ben Solo doesn’t seem like quite so ridiculous of a name.

Second is the fact that we weren’t given any hints in TFA of whether or not Leia has been trained in the use of the force. As early as Empire Strikes Back, Yoda identifies Leia as the sister of Luke and an heir to some pretty powerful force sensitivity. Almost immediately after Yoda says, “No. There is another,” Leia feels Luke’s presence and rescues him from Cloud City with the Millennium Falcon. Since the Battle of Endor, we know that Luke has started a school for Jedi. It would only make sense that his newly identified sister would be the first student. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those three Jedi ghosts pointed out the necessity to train Leia in the use of the force. I think the counter-argument is that Leia chose not to follow that path, and I respect this. Her power is political and she was more useful as the figurehead for the reassembly of the Republic and the continued efforts to stop the Emperor’s “backup plans” from taking hold. I find no reason why we can’t have both. In TFA, there is some word interplay regarding whether Leia should be called Princess Leia or General Leia. I think this mixed identity is meant to point us to another possible identity, either Jedi Leia or even Master Leia. This may be wishful thinking, but I imagine a scene in Episode VIII where Leia is cornered by a powerful adversary and disarmed. We think that Leia is surely going to meet Han in the great Ewok jub jub party in the sky, but at the last moment she force pulls a lightsaber to her and defeats her opponent. Readers be forewarned: my other strong prediction was that Han Solo was going to shrug and say to one of the characters, “Hey, I’m your father,” in a comedic rehash of the classic Darth Vader line, a line that is now impossible. Take my predictions with a grain of salt, but I think we’ll probably have some reference to Leia’s training in the next film.

I’m not even sure that we’ve covered all of the issues that pertain to the first family of the force, but I just spent an eight hour shift talking about Star Wars with a co-worker and I imagine we could probably do so for a year or so without too much repeated arguments. This blog is called The Longest Wind, but it is not meant to be a Torturer’s Rack. Feel free to weigh in with your own perspective on the family issues revealed in Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. For the time being I plan on moving on to a greater discussion of the force in the Star Wars trilogy. I touched on the different interpretations of the force in Episodes IV and V in my review of the first six films, but I think it is worth spending a little bit more time on the issue, especially as we now have more source material. You’ll also notice that this was not a proper review of TFA, and that is on purpose. I don’t want to tell you what to think about the movie. I would rather tackle the deep well of issues that TFA brings to the surface.

Comic Recommendations: December 23, 2015

Dark Horse Comics delivered another Archie/anime-esque issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10; over at DC we got another issue of Miller and Azzarello’s Dark Knight III; we start to see Mikey’s side of things in the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW); Saga #32!!!!!! (nuff said); and Marvel hit us with some interesting stories with Amazing Spider-man, Darth Vader, and Extraordinary X-Men.


  1. Saga #32 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Saga 32 01

The past few issues of Saga have been somewhat dark and hopeless. Life goes on, but it is not always what we would like it to be. Saga #32 introduces the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not sure what was hinted at in the solicits, but I don’t want to spoil anything for those who read only this portion. All you need to know is that this is a pretty good issue of Saga.

  1. Amazing Spider-man #5 (Marvel Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Amazing Spider-man 05 01

Who would have thought that Dan Slott could transform the Zodiac into a legitimate threat in his new Amazing Spider-man volume? Well, he has, and this new Scorpio is quite menacing, but the real thing that is interesting about Amazing Spider-man #5 is the question of whether Peter Parker is responsible enough for the great power associated with being the owner of a multi-national corporation.


  1. Saga #32 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

Saga 32 02

It was pretty difficult to see young Hazel apart from her family. Sure, her life doesn’t seem like it is all death and torture, but this family belongs together. Their existence is a symbolic overcoming of the warring forces of the universe, the classic Shakespearean tale reimagined. Maybe that’s why Saga #32 felt so satisfying. Reuniting Marko and Alana felt just a little bit like resurrecting Romeo and Juliet.

I really like this side of Marko and Alana. Their love in the beginning of this series was really honest, but despite their own wartorn pasts it was also somewhat immature. Between the passion behind their drive to rescue their daughter and the tension surrounding their pact to keep from making love until Hazel is safe, Marko and Alana have never been more electrifying. When Marko is skeptical of making the literal leap of faith in order to escape on their tree space ship and he realizes that leaps like that are why he married Alana, I just felt this rush of joy, love, and inspiration. Every couple of issues Brian K. Vaughan is able to deliver these bursts of pure emotion that I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered elsewhere.

Saga 32 03

What I’m wondering is whether or not Saga translates the same to single readers as it does to readers who are in couples. When Saga came out, I had been dating a beautiful girl for just under two years and everything about their romance felt as revolutionary as our own. I feel strongly that our society functions on loneliness, which means that the pursuit of love is a rebellion against social entropy. Now that Marko and Alana have been together for years, I feel like their mutual suffering has forged them into something much bigger than they were before. As I read about this, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that my wife and I have been together closer to a decade than to a day and that we have survived some pretty difficult struggles. However, for the single readers out there, did the marital problems of Alana and Marko and their time apart hurt you deeply? Did their love drive you mad with joy? Did their recent return as a team make you want to shout?

Saga 32 04

I think however you answer these questions determines the quality of Brian K. Vaughan as a writer. If it doesn’t translate, then he’s merely preaching to the choir. However, if it does make you feel the same way it seems pretty clear that Vaughan can leverage his readers’ imaginations and aim them toward real, true feelings. Saga isn’t over just yet, which makes me a little uneasy about bringing Marko and Alana back together so soon. I really hope that they have the best, but we know how these things go. For now, I think I’ll ride the high of the Marko/Alana team-up!

  1. Amazing Spider-man #5 (Marvel Comics), Spoiled Edition

Amazing Spider-man 05 03

I was originally bored when it was hinted that the mind of Doctor Octopus was now inside Peter Parker’s robot assistant The Living Brain, but in Amazing Spider-man #5 it appears that Octavius’s plan for destroying Peter Parker / Spider-man is much more nuanced than some of his past plots. When he uses Parker Industries nanotech to illegally infiltrate London’s closed security grid, he pushes Pete into a very sticky international business situation where the image of his company is on the line. Perhaps even more dangerous is the fact that Octavius / The Living Brain framed Sajani in the process, especially considering what Sajani knows about Peter Parker / Spider-man and how she already has some villainous intentions.

Amazing Spider-man 05 02

If that weren’t enough, Scorpio is revealed as one of Parker Industries’ largest shareholders. Since we’re already wondering what Doctor Octopus’s endgame is, why don’t we throw Scorpio’s endgame into the mix? With Scorpio’s stock interests he is clearly concerned with one of two things, power or money. I would assume that he wishes to attain some level of power considering the fact that his organization is attacking Parker Industries and driving a wedge between the company and their SHIELD contracts. These do not seem like things you do in order to turn a profit. Of course, there’s also the off chance that the surveillance fiasco could be seen internationally as a test run, something that might secure Parker Industries some highly profitable contracts from the public and private sector alike. This doesn’t seem like something Peter Parker would agree with, especially with what would happen with that kind of power in the wrong hands — one might assume that Parker’s tech might even make SHIELD obsolete — but if Scorpio is able to wrestle control of the board anything is possible.

Amazing Spider-man 05 04

With Scorpio’s presumed schemes for either power or money (or both) in mind, one has to wonder whether Octavius is complicit with Scorpio’s agenda or whether he is marching to the beat of his own drum. Doctor Octopus is not often a tool in another mastermind’s scheme —  the man has enough ego to give Dr. Doom a run for his money — but he might play the fool in order to accomplish his own personal goals. Something tells me that Otto is unaware of Scorpio’s plans and is only coincidentally assisting in furthering the ends of the Zodiac. I would feel more inclined to suggest that he is manipulating Sajani than Scorpio, but something tells me that Otto Octavius is currently going rogue. I think he might be a little more short-sighted than usual, and I think he might just accidentally foil Scorpio’s plans.

Regardless of how these many moving parts end up working together or against one another, I am really enjoying the theme Dan Slott is playing with surrounding the massive power that CEO Peter Parker is currently playing with and the unimaginable responsibility that must go along with it. One scene that was particularly noteworthy was Johnny Storm’s comment that Peter might be burning the candle at both ends. As it stands, this current volume of Amazing Spider-man reads more as a Greek tragedy than a heroic action/adventure book. Peter Parker exhibits so much confidence regarding his business, the technology that he is creating, his contracts, and his interpersonal relationships, and it comes off as the type of hubris that precedes a fall. I am reminded of Ian Malcolm’s “standing on the shoulders of geniuses” rant from Jurassic Park. Parker Industries was the brainchild of Otto Octavius, not Peter Parker. Parker simply kept it going, building his Babel higher and higher. While I love the idea of playing with different responsibilities, I really think that Peter Parker is going to fail miserably. I find it hard to imagine a situation where he does not. Businesses are built slowly and surely. You have to have a strong foundation before you can build toward the stars, and the fastest way to make money quickly is to make money slowly. I’m not suggesting that Peter Parker isn’t a hard-working guy. What I’m suggesting is that if he’s going to try to do everything he just needs to slow down.

Of course, maybe if this business venture crashes and burns, Peter Parker might step back and consider what really matters to him, like starting a family. (Still crossing my fingers that Mephisto is going to reverse the deal and Pete and MJ are going to re-marry.)

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All-New X-Men 02 01

I was told to check out the newest volume of All-New X-Men by Dennis Hopeless, which deals with the fallout from the death of Scott Summers (as told in Extraordinary X-Men). I actually got a chance to talk to Hopeless at the Cherry Capital Con, and I really like him as a person. I’m happy that he’s getting a chance to write a Cyclops story, because during our previous discussion he expressed a strong desire to write post-AvX Cyclops stories. What All-New X-Menproves is that Hopeless has a deep love for Scott Summers and that he’s concerned with making these young X-Men feel young. I think more people should love Scott Summers / Cyclops like Dennis Hopeless does. The version of Cyclops that we have been given in the 90s animated series and just about all other subsequent television and film representations has created a generation of people who default to hating Cyclops, but I think that he is perhaps the best developed character in the Marvel universe.

The next suggestion I am going to look into is Totally Awesome Hulk. It is hard not to love a title that I assume is making fun of Marvel’s adjective-driven new series. Here’s to hoping there’s a lot more to love about the series than just the title. Next time we get to read the last set of new comics for 2015. I’m excited, personally. Let me know if any of you have any interest in a new comics of 2015 roundup post. I think something like that might be fun.

Longest Wind Briefs – Independence Day: Resurgence, Franklin Roosevelt, Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike


If you don’t have time for the longer articles just yet — you’re bookmarking them and reading them later, right? — Longest Wind Briefs provides some shorter pieces for your immediate consumption.

Trailer Season

I’m not sure if this is a thing but it feels kind of like it is movie trailer season. Basically, everywhere I go someone is telling me about some new trailer that I have to see. There’s the Captain America: Civil Wartrailer, the X-Men: Apocalypse trailer, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer, the trailer for the Independence Day sequel, the Star Trek Beyond trailer, the Harry Potter spin-off trailer. It feels like Superbowls of yester-years.

But there were only two recent trailers that have really gotten me excited. The first is Captain America: Civil War.

To date, the Captain America films have gotten better and better, with more and more heart, whereas the other sequels, with the exception of Avengers, have gotten more lackluster with each increment. Captain America: Civil War promises a complex, adult drama, and moreover, it features the long-awaited first appearance of Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Personally, I’ve been waiting since I noticed a big red blip in Central Africa on the SHIELD world map when Nick Fury brings Tony Stark into the fold in Iron Man 2.

The other trailer was Independence Day: Resurgence.

Jeff Goldblum is signed on. That’s enough. I’m already buying a ticket. Add in the fact that the premise is actually pretty interesting — our world has been advancing at epic speeds with the use of alien technology, but we are TOTALLY not ready for the second invasion — and I’m considering naming my first child after President Thomas J. Whitmore.

FDR on Predatory Practices in the Workplace

The following is an excerpt from my minimum wage research that didn’t seem to fit anywhere but which I found interesting nonetheless.

During an ironically titled Fireside Chat radio broadcast — taking place on an exceedingly warm evening in June of 1938, the President most certainly would not have been found beside a fire — FDR gave one of the most scathing reviews of American economic inequality as the result of the predatory practices of CEOs that I have ever read. This Chat is not quite as quotable as the 1933 speech in support of the NIRA, but there was one section I thought worth quoting in full:

Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you — using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry. Fortunately for business as a whole, and therefore for the Nation, that type of executive is a rarity with whom most business executives most heartily disagree.

Depending on how many days per week the typical executive worked during this era, which I will safely assume is between one and seven days, CEOs in America made between 90 and 637 times their lowest paid employee, and that was only after the minimum wage law was passed. We can only assume that there were cases of executives making thousands of times as much as their lowest paid employee in the 30s before the generous 25 cent minimum wage was put in the books.

For those of you who think this is a thing of the past, CNN Money recently determined that in 2013 the chief executives of the largest companies in the USA made about 354 times the wages of the average American worker. We’re not exactly comparing apples to apples but these rates are staggering, especially considering the fact that in 1980 CEO’s made on average only 42 times that of the average worker.

The Killer Mike and Bernie Sanders Sessions

A couple of years ago, I took the wife to the Pitchfork music festival in Chicago. It was hot and we didn’t get to stay long, but the highlight for me was getting my first dose of rapper Killer Mike. Since then, Killer Mike has become a hero of mine, not so much for his music — though I adore his song “Reagan” — but moreso for his concern toward activism and social justice.

The story I heard was that Killer Mike sent Senator Bernie Sanders a tweet commending his progressive views, and the result was that the two sat down to chat at Killer Mike’s barber shop. The discussion was filmed and Killer Mike put the six-part video series on his YouTube channel. I am still trying to feel out Sanders, but I know that Killer Mike is the real deal. The dialogue between the two is one of the more inspiring things I’ve watched this year.


Your Vote: Where Do the Candidates Stand on Raising the Minimum Wage?


I really enjoyed researching the Fight for $15 movement, the history of the federal minimum wage, and doing the calculations that are missing from most of the economic articles that we are all reading, and it was also really fun engaging in discussion with others who have concerns about this issue, but what I realized is that the discussion isn’t over. We talked about some fundamental policy issues that affect the future of our country, but we are currently heading into a primary election in the next couple of months and a general election in just under a year. There has never been a better time to discuss the presidential candidates’ positions on all of these issues than right now.

If you couldn’t already tell, my personal stance on the federal minimum wage after conducting quite a bit of research was that we should have a $12 minimum wage that is phased in over somewhere between three and five years, the wage needs to be supplemented by an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an overhaul of the IRS, and support for even higher increases in state and city minimum wages assuming the mathematics (minimum wage = 1/2 median wage) works. Despite the fact that these numbers are not universally supported, I thought they would be a good starting point for an analysis of how seriously the candidates are taking this issue.

Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage

Despite the likelihood that a small increase of the minimum wage — raising it to $8.50 or $9 per hour — would more than likely bring about long-term benefits, the Republican candidates are avoiding the issue of raising the federal minimum wage like the plague. At first glance, this appears dangerous. Depending on which poll you are looking at, somewhere between 70 and 75% of Americans are in favor of raising the minimum wage to some degree, though not necessarily all the way to $15 per hour. I also think it is unwise to ignore the success rate of the Fight for $15. Deals are being made at surprising rates at the state and local level and also in negotiation with the private sector. The thing I think we need to keep in mind before we jump to conclusions about the Republican Party is that we are still dealing with the Primary Elections. This means that the Republican candidates are pandering specifically to their conservative allies and looking to gain the support of their party in the General Election. I would not be surprised if the Republican candidate for the presidency has added a moderate increase in the minimum wage by the time of the debates between the Democratic and Republican candidates (and any other candidates with enough clout to appear with them). At the current time, it appears that the Republican Party is not taking the idea of raising the minimum wage seriously.

Of the Democratic candidates, there are two who take their talking points directly from the Fight for $15. Both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley fully support a $15 minimum wage. While there is certainly a lot of potential for financial danger in suggesting that every square inch of the United States of America can support a $15 minimum wage, I think what Sanders and O’Malley are telling the American public is, “We see you and we hear you.” Before we all start yelling about the fact that these Democrats are going to sink the boat of the American economy with their radical spending, keep in mind that both the House of Representatives and the Senate are currently majority Republican. This means that a $15 minimum wage is simply the starting offer in a series of aggressive negotiations that are likely to take place if either Sanders or O’Malley are elected.

This leaves Hillary Clinton, whose proposed policy for raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour is receiving great reviews from some of the best economic analysts and whose plan is basically identical to my own after conducting extensive research. This falls short of the $15 per hour demanded by Fight for $15, but Clinton has also said that she will support the fight for a $15 minimum wage in cities and states where the economy will support such an increase. This is maybe not the universal support that the Fight for $15 would want from Clinton and those involved in the movement are probably already not too happy with Clinton’s relationship with super PACs and other high rolling sponsors, but her nuanced approach to the issue might actually be the best of both worlds.

Expanding the EITC

We know that the EITC is a great option for increasing the effective wages of people with low income, but what is unclear is how far we ought to go with the expansion. Jeb Bush thinks that we should double the EITC benefits for childless filers, and expand the program for filers between the ages of 21 and 24. Ted Cruz believes that the entire program needs to be expanded by 20% and John Kasich thinks 10% would be the best. No other candidates have any clear plans for the EITC. One thing that is clear is that for the EITC to be efficient, we need to restructure the IRS. A properly functioning EITC would probably be a more efficient wage booster than any other social welfare program, so part of me thinks that none of the proposed increases by Bush, Cruz, and Kasich would be over the top.

I think if Jeb Bush’s proposal were to double the EITC for all filers rather than expanding benefits for small sub-sections, he would probably get a lot of support from the American public. Of course, his policy would have to be ratified by the ultra-conservative wing of the GOP during the Primaries before we could even put this to the test, which doesn’t seem likely because of how much it would look like we were giving out handouts / re-distributing the nation’s wealth. As it stands, Ted Cruz may have the best suggestion in terms of the EITC. This is hard for me to say, because I am strongly skeptical of Ted Cruz’s policy decisions. Though Kasich offers a smaller expansion to the EITC, I feel inclined to suggest that he may have the right idea. It is impossible not to acknowledge Kasich’s superior budgetary skills and his record of compromise between parties for the greater good. In other words, though Cruz’s policy is more appealing, Kasich’s ultimately feels more appropriate simply because Kasich is a better candidate than Cruz.

Whatever we do with the EITC, the most important thing is that we make changes in the IRS. Without eliminating the hurdles between taxpayers in need and getting their EITC benefits, the policy suggestions of Bush, Cruz, and Kasich have little value.

* * *

Currently, there is no sensible middle-ground of a moderate increase of the minimum wage coupled with an expansion of the EITC. Without looking at any other issues, it seems pretty clear that Hillary Clinton has the best policy to help poor families to make more money. I’m a little bit scared of what would happen if Sanders and O’Malley get their way. As for Bush, Cruz, and Kasich, there’s a decent chance that their policies would result in negligible gains. Over the next few months, I expect that the journey toward defeating debt will bring us an even greater sense for economic policy and with it the ability to better evaluate the candidates.

Comic Recommendations: December 16, 2015

For DC Comics, it was a Justice League week, and a Justice League week is a good week; Image Comics brought us Huck #2 and I Hate Fairyland #3; and Marvel Comics brought us the end of the Ultimate universe in Ultimate End #5 alongside a great Vader solo story in Darth Vader Annual #1.


  1. Huck #2 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Huck 02 01

The Millar-verse has been hit or miss since its inception, but Huck presents a strong argument for giving everything Mark Millar writes a fair shot. In the second issue, we realize that this mini-series is not a one-trick pony. Huck and his supporting cast continue to be some of the better characters in comics right now and Huck continues to be one of the best new comics of the year.

  1. I Hate Fairyland #3 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

I Hate Fairyland 03 01

With the first two issues, I Hate Fairyland set some comedic expectations for its readership. This foul-mouthed, murderous girl, who was clearly “someone’s little princess” a couple of decades ago, is not someone you want to stumble across in a dark alley or really anywhere. Issue three strengthens the narrative element beyond fun artistic and dialogue gimmicks, elevating the book above a mere torture porn version of The Wizard of Oz.

  1. Darth Vader Annual #1 (Marvel Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Darth Vader Annual 01 01

Marvel’s development of Darth Vader has been one of the strongest element of the Star Wars line of comics that rolled out earlier this year. His complicated feelings regarding family and the Sith are brought to the surface in most of his books, but in Darth Vader Annual #1 we are reminded that Vader is not one to be messed with. He may be a dog of the Emperor, but he is a shrewd dog if nothing else.

  1. Ultimate End #5 (Marvel Comics), Unspoiled Edition

Ultimate End 05 01

The Ultimate universe began with Bendis and Bagley, and it ends with Bendis and Bagley’s Ultimate End #5. Though we don’t know exactly what fate awaits the heroes and villains of Marvel-616 and Marvel-1610, we know that many of these characters are going to disappear from the pages of Marvel Comics forever. Ultimate End #5 serves as a good cap stone to the whole endeavor.


  1. Huck #2 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

Huck 02 06

My biggest concern with Huck was that the following issues would not be as strong as the first. This happens all too often in comics, but I was really hoping that the angel of boring would pass over this particular book. DC threw social justice Superman to the curb just as soon as they could, but Huck is still just a fountain of goodness, a Superman divorced of all the ideology. The enemy for the first issue is a predatory press mob besieging Huck’s place of residence. What is Huck’s response? He homes in on the rare individuals who have come to ask him for help, and he starts another list.

Huck 02 03

Clearly, Millar is building up characters to force a superhero/supervillain confrontation, but my hopes for the future are that he never abandons what we love about Huck. He is just plain good. He doesn’t need to prove anything about himself. As a result of not get tripped up by having a code, Huck can respond to conflict in surprising ways. If the Millar-verse is a body, Huck is firmly set in its heart. There are a lot of good competitors, but I think Huck might just be the best new comic of 2015.

  1. I Hate Fairyland #3 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

I Hate Fairyland 03 02

Though I was enamored by the oddness of I Hate Fairyland #1, the comic was starting to wear on me. Don’t get me wrong. I Hate Fairyland is consistently funny, well drawn, and filled with some great dialogue moments, but it has some serious problems with story structure. In I Hate Fairyland #3, the gimmicks that felt old by the second issue felt warm and welcoming. The characters have been introduced, their motivations have become clear, and now that story can start in earnest. With the introduction of another young girl who is much better at questing and somehow really powerful, it seems like Gertrude might have finally met her match.

I Hate Fairyland 03 03

My strongest hope is that this movement toward a more highly structured story with new options for character development — as in Gertrude either cannot kill some people because they’re too powerful or she learns not to kill some people because she begrudgingly needs some help — is sustained. The art and comedy are good enough to keep me reading for a while no matter what happens plot-wise, but if Skottie Young can iron out some of the difficulties with this book it will probably become one of my favorites of 2016.

  1. Darth Vader Annual #1 (Marvel Comics), Spoiled Edition

Darth Vader Annual 01 02

I mostly do not like annuals. They are generally not written or drawn by the same creative team as the regular series, they usually do not have the license to develop any important stories or make use of important characters, and everything else moves forward without concern for whether or not you read the special year-end issue. Occasionally, however, an annual is released based on the fact that someone somewhere has a fantastic story idea for a character or group of characters but is not currently contracted to write for that title and will not be contracted to write for that title in the future. I imagine that Darth Vader Annual #1 is one of the latter.

Darth Vader Annual 01 03

Darth Vader Annual #1 is a lesson in leadership from the Sith perspective. Darth Vader is sent to a planet to demand his tribute from their mining guilds, a natural resource that is presumably going to be used on the secret construction of the second Death Star. He meets with a king who blames his problems on those producing the goods, a leader who appears to be lead by his people. After the king sacrifices his third daughter in an attempt to kill Darth Vader, Vader’s droids slaughter the entire royal court and Vader chooses the sacrificial lamb as the new king. He sees in her a strong leader and assures her loyalty by reminding her what happens to people who are no longer in the Empire’s favor. Remember Alderaan?

  1. Ultimate End #5 (Marvel Comics), Spoiled Edition

Ultimate End 05 02

This is not exactly something that many people would boast about, but I kept up with every single comic book released in Marvel’s Ultimate imprint. At the beginning, Ultimate comics were fantastic, but over time they started to degrade. Personally, I have wanted everything Ultimate to end for a while now, and we presumably witness that end in Ultimate End #5. The thing is that you can’t just stop publishing the comics. The ending has to be delivered well in terms of story, delivered well in terms of the creative team, and we need to keep certain key characters alive and port them over to the regular universe. The first imperative is unclear. Though the Ultimate universe has presumably come to a close, it is still uncertain how this has come about. This is the fault of the Secret Wars release schedule, which has made Marvel comics much less approachable than it could be. The final issue of Secret Wars is set to be released before the end of the year, but at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t come out until April or May. The second imperative was hit out of the park. The first issue of Ultimate comics — Ultimate Spider-man #1 — was written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mark Bagley and so was the last issue. Well done, Marvel. The third imperative is still somewhat up in the air. The only survivor of the Ultimate universe that I have seen in a normal Marvel title is Miles Morales / Spider-man in All New, All Different Avengers, but Ultimate End #5 suggests that his whole family (even some dead people) were brought over with him. While many people were writing top ten lists about who needs to come from Earth-1610 to Earth-616, I was a hardliner for “all we need is Miles, Ganke, and Miles’s family.”

Ultimate End 05 03

These are the only characters who still seem to have some story left in them. As of right now, it seems like I won out on that one.Ultimate End #5 had a great mix of sentiment and purpose and it closed the book pretty well.

* * *

I’d like to say that my mind is on future comics, but I just watched The Force Awakens and there is nothing else that I really want to talk about. I’m going to keep putting up weekly comic book posts, but I’m a lot more excited about doing some kind of write-up of the new Star Wars. If you ever feel like I’m not giving enough attention to comic books, call me out. Pull me back in. Let me know what stories you want to talk about and we’ll keep this thing fresh.

Cases Against and For a $15 Minimum Wage

In 1933, Congress with the support of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) passed a bill called National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which instituted a broad swath of post-Depression labor protections including the first minimum wage of 25 cents per hour. His speech in support of this bill serves as perhaps the most quotable ethical foundation for movements in support of a higher minimum wage.

In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.

The bill was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1935 when Schechter Poultry Corp v. United States suggested that enforcing a nationwide minimum wage was an example of the federal government overreaching its duty to regulate interstate commerce. It wasn’t until 1938 that FDR finally signed a permanent minimum wage into law with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which, again, set the minimum wage at 25 cents per hour. This bill was much more shrewd than NIRA in that the prefatory material was dedicated to proving that the provisions contained therein would benefit interstate commerce by expanding business influence, unburdening the free flow of goods, regulating unfair cometitive practices, handling labor disputes, and unhampering fair marketing. Because of this move, we have had a federal minimum wage for 77 years now and the federal minimum wage, as of July 2009, sits at $7.25 per hour.

As a result of the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, major protests surrounding income inequality have sprung up periodically around the nation. An offshoot of Occupy called Fight for $15 took flight in late 2012 when employees of McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut staged the largest strike in fast-food history in New York City. In time, employees from various industries staged similar protests with the desired result of establishing a living wage of $15 per hour for all workers.

This is where the discussion gets a little murky, because it is not always entirely clear what opposing parties mean when they refer to minimum wage or how they come by their calculations of an appropriate minimum wage. I want to attempt to provide some clarity for these two issues before moving on to cases against and for the establishment of a $15 per hour federal minimum wage.

Which Minimum Wage?

In the 1930s, FDR’s main issue with creating minimum wage ordinance in Washington, DC, was a question of jurisdiction. As we discussed earlier, his first bill (NIRA) was overruled because the Supreme Court did not think a minimum wage was the business of the federal government and his last bill (FLSA) was signed into law because he persuaded the people that it is. Few people I’ve spoken to know this, but at any given time up to three different minimum wage laws may be applicable to your current situation, one at the federal level, one at the state level, and at the city level. As such, the Fight for $15 is fought on many battlegrounds, in the private sector and also in the public sector, and also at federal, state, and municipal offices in the USA and across the globe.

Which Living Wage?

Though the minimum wage was originally established to approximate a living wage, much of the current protest surrounds the assertion that it is no longer a living wage. Tim Worstall of Forbes Magazine suggests that even $4.20 per hour, which FDR’s original 25 cent per hour minimum wage would amount to in 2015, could be considered a living wage due to the fact that 82.5% of the earth’s population gets by on even less than this. This rate doesn’t exactly factor into the current discussion.

Generally, discussion of a living wage centers around three sins of recent American economics: 1) the fact that the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, 2) the fact that the minimum wage has not kept pace with increases in productivity, and 3) the fact that the minimum wage has not kept pace with the cost of living. Though there are many measures that we can base a living wage on, there are a couple of commonly referenced metrics, the 1968 minimum wage of $1.60 per hour, the national median wage, and various national measures of the poverty line. The following figures represent a few different possible living wages and what calculations they are based on. They should be accurate within a few cents compared to any similar figures you come across.

$5.67, based on the cost of living calculated at 100% of the poverty level for a household size of 1 plus one penny (to represent the fact that we want to elevate people above poverty)

$8.55, based on the cost of living calculated at 1/2 of the national median wage

$10.85, based on the 1968 minimum wage adjusted for inflation

$11.67, based on the cost of living calculated at 100% of the poverty level for a household size of 4 plus one penny (to represent the fact that we want to elevate people above poverty)

$26.44, based on the 1968 minimum wage adjusted for both inflation and productivity, the latter using BLS Labor Productivity and Costs program (LPC) indices

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly where the $15 per hour approximation of a living wage comes in, and I didn’t find it using any of these national measures. I would imagine the $15 figure was originally based on 1/2 of the median wage in New York City in 2012 but I don’t have the figures to back that up. The closest national measure I found was a cost of living estimate calculated at 133% of the poverty level for a family of four which comes out to $15.51 per hour. If we take Bernie Sanders as a source, the national $15 per hour rate is more than likely meant to be enough for a family of four to live above the poverty line which also finds a middle ground between the $10.56 and the $26.44 rates above. In other words, it is not based on any one specific value but intended to balance the need to keep up with inflation, productivity, and the cost of living for a family of four. Interestingly, if we are dealing with this issue at the state or municipal level, eight states — Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Virginia — and District of Columbia would have a living wage higher than $15 per hour and over 100 cities would have a living wage of over $40 per hour if calculated at 1/2 of the applicable median wage.

The Case Against a $15 Minimum Wage

The drastic increase resulting in a $15 per hour national minimum wage is without precedent. In other words, nobody knows with any convincing degree of certainty what to expect. Even so, it is not unreasonable to believe some of the more dire economic predictions of lower profits, employment losses, substitution of automation for workers, higher prices, increased cost of living, and expedited inflation. On the flip side, we are about as close to universal approval of some kind of minimum wage hike as I’ve ever seen. The alternative needs to be a better solution to the problems of poverty and a declining middle class. The best approach is a multi-faceted approach based on good research. Rather than attempting to satisfy the confusing demands of inflation, productivity, and cost of living, we would need to pick one metric and stick with it. I think our best measure would be a modified inflation adjustment of the 1968 minimum wage. It was clearly the will of the people that this peak minimum wage (based on buying power) become law, so we should accept nothing less than an inflation-adjusted figure of $10.85. Additionally, it was the will of the people that this rate increase past the 1968 minimum wage. The minimum wage has changed seven times just since I was born in 1982. Since it would be impossible to make a clear adjustment for the intentions of the populace from 1968 to 2015, the round number of $12 per hour will suffice for our discussion. To minimize short-term job loss, the $12 minimum wage would be phased in over a period of three to five years and the final number would be indexed to increase with inflation so we don’t have to have this discussion again.

There are a couple of ways to tweak policy and turn this $12 federal minimum wage into a much higher effective wage. The first is to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and make it more accessible by implementing reforms to the IRS’s structure, politices, and procedures regarding the EITC. The second is to incentivize businesses to move toward full employment. Somewhere between 9 and 10% of Americans are currently looking to transition from part time employment to full time employment, so this would drastically change the economic outlook. I haven’t seen much research focusing on this metric, but for the sake of this proposal I would assume the main method of carrying this out would be to offer tax credits for meeting certain standards for full-time employment. Finally, since cities and states each have the ability to establish higher minimum wages than the federal minimum wage, there could be campaigns to persuade these bodies to set their minimum wage to approximately 1/2 the median wage in the area.

The Case For a $15 Minimum Wage

There are many economic factors that would be influenced by a change in the federal minimum wage, and all of them are connected to real, living people. This means that if you want a $15 per hour minimum wage to work, you just need to build up enough human capital to make it work. This is exactly what FDR was pushing for with his New Deal package of economic stimulus and social justice legislation. FDR knew that employers would increase their prices the moment they were required to pay their employees more, so he asked them simply to wait. What was on the line back then was the complete collapse of the United States economy, and people in the 30s knew what this was like. Those of voting age had all lived through the Great Depression, and few had thrived during that time. The parallels to our own experience of the Great Recession are uncanny. We find our unlikely FDR proxy in Donald Trump, who keeps saying, “American doesn’t win anymore.” Whereas FDR was attempting to establish the USA as a world power, Trump claims to be attempting to re-establish the USA as a world power. We would essentially be signing a contract. The workers would devote themselves to working full-time and not depending on government assistance, and in exchange they would get the highest wage of their lifetimes. The employers would devote themselves to restraining from raising prices and thus the cost of living for as long as they reasonably could, and in exchange the unused government assistance money could be used for temporary business tax breaks. The government’s job would be to support both sides so far as they are able. The way I imagine this would happen would be with a New New Deal package that assures the success of small business, reinforces the middle class, provides stimuli for the American worker, restructures the IRS, provides protections against too-big-to-fail companies, assures tax revenue from multi-national tax dodgers, streamlines legal immigration, and reins in noise traders on the stock exchange. The net result is that the nation’s wealth is translated more efficiently into the wealth of each member.

* * *

Many of the numbers are arbitrary, most of the loudest voices are arguing from ignorance, and some of the people involved have a vested interest in making sure that we do not know the truth about the issue at hand, and yet the issue of raising the minimum wage is going to be on the table during the 2016 primary election, general election, and more than likely for years beyond this. The Fight for $15 movement has gained more momentum than I thought possible, but then again, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the ban on gay marriage would be repealed and so many of those petitioners looking to decriminalize/legalize marijuana would get their way, at least not by 2015. If you didn’t already get this point by the fact that I compared Donald Trump to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the political process in America is absurd, even when the policies that you support are actually getting passed. At the end of the day, these silly little arguments that we are having from our armchairs impact a lot of human beings and can either prevent or create another recession. I have spoken before of the idea that by supporting the Fight for $15, Sanders starts with ethics rather than starting with economics, but it is obviously not that simple. If changes to the minimum wage take a turn for the worse, we can ruin lives. From my recent research, I’ve provided my best methodologies for either enacting the $15 minimum wage or rejecting it for something better.

Like always, let’s have a discussion. I challenge my readers to follow my lead. Do your own research. Let the research affect you, maybe even change your mind. Whatever happens, try to make a good case for both sides of the argument. Don’t abandon your convictions in the process. This is just an exercise in respect and humility. In case you couldn’t tell, I originally stood with the Fight for $15 workers but have developed a much more complex position since then. That doesn’t need to happen for you. I mostly just don’t want those involved in the discussion to come to reduce the views of others and sweep them aside as “liberal this” or “conservative that.” A lot of us are still making under $15 per hour, so it is not really an academic question at all. I’ve done all of my research on the Internet, but if there are any people out there who are actively involved in organizing and protesting for Fight for $15 I would really love to hear from you. There is something about activism, whether I agree with the issue or not, that is absolutely exhilerating to me. It feels like America in action!

Longest Wind Briefs – Cheers, Shamu, and 99 Luftballons


Because sometimes I’m not all that long winded, I thought I would string together some of the tinier little ditties to create the illusion of excess. We have an image to upkeep, after all.

Three Cheers… Proposals


I haven’t always been excited about the television programs my wife puts on when we have time together, but lately she’s been defaulting to Cheers and I have no complaints there. I think one of the reasons she likes to put Cheers on while I’m in the room is because she thinks I am a lot like Cliff Claven in that I always try to explain the origins of things despite not having clear documentation to support my ideas. (She is right on in her critique, as anyone who knows me can attest!) My running thought is that Cheers and The Cosby Show are the two best sitcoms to ever air. I’m still working on that one and am taking suggestions. Amy, for example, is a hardliner for Home Improvement and Frasier, but I think Cheers and The Cosby Show are probably still better than those two.

The other thing about Cheers is that it makes me feel creative. Just today, I came up with three ideas that I think would be fantastic. The first is a Cheers/Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining mashup in which all of our characters are proxies for patrons from decades ago as depicted in the opening credits. It is unclear what happened to those people, but it is thought of as Boston’s greatest tragedy. Sam Malone and friends must crack the code of the past and come to terms with themselves in order to keep the tragedy from repeating itself eternally. The second is an online viral campaign deriving from the fact that when Cheers first aired I thought the theme song was performed by Woody Harrelson because the tone of voice sounds similar. Using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., we would see what we could do to convince Harrelson to post a video of him performing the theme. My third idea would be to develop a conspiracy video about how Sam is secretly an abusive alcoholic. Yeah, that one is a little dark…

If anybody wants to green light one of these projects, you know where to reach me.

Seaworld $#&@ Show

PATAGONIA, ARGENTINA - UNDATED: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Mel, the Killer Whale or Orca narrowly misses out on a seal that it was hunting in Patagonia. As 2010 fast approaches these images show spectacular animals who this year captured animal lovers' hearts and minds across the globe. From a super-rare battle of the beasts between angry hippos and an unlucky crocodile, to a chimpanzee touchingly hand-rearing a puma cub, these incredible creatures have made 2009 a year to remember. And creating one of the most jaw-dropping picture series' witnessed has needed all the skills and patience of wildlife photographers at the top of their game. (Photo by Rob Lott / Specialist Stock / Barcroftmedia / Getty Images)

I just watched a video on YouTube which depicts a killer whale show at Sea World in which the whales kill a pelican in the middle of the show. Amy and I put it on because it seemed like the logical thing to do after watching a pelican attempt to eat a pigeon. I assumed the orca video was going to be about 25 seconds long, showing a long shot of the whale getting the pelican followed by a slow motion zoomed shot with the action highlighted. This was certainly part of the video, but it would continue for quite  a bit longer than I imagined. Originally, I thought I was watching three whales fighting to eat a bird, but it turned out the first orca had killed the pelican just for fun and the others were playing with its corpse. It is no surprise that the trainers seemed somewhat disturbed by this. With the amount of hours they’d spent with these animals, the trainers probably knew a thing or two about their nature, but that didn’t mean they had any intention for the audience at that whale show to learn just how sociopathic killer whales could really be. As soon as could be managed, the trainers ushered the whales into another pool and cleaned the vivisected pelican parts from the pool. This is when one of the more unsettling things happened. One of the whales began spitting pelican flesh and feathers onto the shore just beside its enclosure in an attempt to lure other birds into the water.

See for yourself. Here is the video of the orcas tearing apart a pelican for fun:

Also, if you’re interested, here is the video of the pelican attempting to eat a pigeon for nutrition:

A Tiemeyerian Thought Experiment


My buddy Reynaldo reminded me the other day of a ridiculous thought experiment I came up with the other day and asked me to repeat it to a group of people. It’s not quite Einstein, but it is pretty good for our generation:

Imagine you are walking along with your smart phone in your hand, and you stumble in your step, losing your grip on your phone. The phone hits the ground with a crash and then clacks its way down a flight of stairs. Two things happen when your cell phone hits the bottom of the stairs: you hear the crunch of broken glass and your cell phone suddenly starts playing the Nena song “99 Luftballons.” What do you do first? Do you check to see the extent of the damage to your phone? Or do you start dancing?

The example of “99 Luftballons” was not the original song I included for Reynaldo. Neither of us remembers what song it was, but I do remember it was much more awesome. Reynaldo recounted that it was “some 70s song,” but he is very young so that could mean anything before the mid- to late-90s. My original replacement for “some 70s song” was George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog,” but nobody knew the song even after I explained the connection to Snoop Dog.

I used to have another thought experiment, but I don’t use it as a psychological test anymore because I got the perfect answer from my friend Ken. Here it is:

Imagine you are on the 12th floor of a very tall building and the whole building is on fire. You run to the window, open it up, and get an idea of exactly how far you would have to fall. It is pretty far. You’re pretty much going to die either way. All of a sudden, an alien space ship in the classic atomic era gunmetal-colored flying saucer hovers in front of you, opens a hatch, and because it is your only alternative to death you step inside. The hallways of this ship are metallic and cold, and there are tinny speakers every few feet above your head. In an attempt to make you comfortable, the aliens play a familiar song, but instead of making you feel comfortable it makes you feel creeped out. What song is it?

When I asked Ken he didn’t even pause. He said, “Boyz II Men, ‘End of the Road.'” And I closed the book on that thought experiment. Luckily, the cell phone thought experiment is still alive and kicking. What would you do first? Are you focused on damage or dance?

Comic Recommendations: December 9, 2015

This was a good week for comic books: DC Comics rolled out both Batman and Robin Eternal #10 and Constantine – The Hellblazer #7; Image brought us The Walking Dead #149 and the final issue of We Stand on Guard; and Marvel edges one step closer to concluding Secret Wars and explaining what the heck is going on with the Marvel Universe! As an added bonus, I got caught up on Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos’ Extraordinary X-Men.


  1. Batman and Robin Eternal #10 (DC Comics), Unspoiled Edition

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There are a couple of things that the weekly comic Batman and Robin Eternal brings to the table that many of the monthly comics are not able to accomplish, the ability to explore many more people, places, and things and a strong sense of adventure and fun. Issue #10 puts Red Hood, Red Robin, and Bane up against Azrael and his Holy Warrior Brothers for the soul of Santa Prisca. Sometimes this book feels like it is just taking you from point A to point B, but at other times it is just a blast to read. This is one of those “other times.”

  1. Constantine – The Hellblazer #7 (DC Comics), Unspoiled Edition

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I never thought I would give a rip about John Constantine’s emotional availability but Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV have done the unthinkable. Even the obligatory cameo issue featuring Swamp Thing feels fresh and important. Constantine – The Hellblazer #7 further develops John Constantine’s risky love life experiment while delivering a pretty interesting one-off adventure in New York City. Always a surprise, this is probably the book that you are not reading but should be.

  1. The Walking Dead #149 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

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You never know what to expect with The Walking Dead, except that it is going to be fantastic. The only reason I didn’t ask for the 48-issue compendium editions for Christmas is because I am afraid my dog might eat them before I could show my future children what they could be reading some day. In issue #149, all of the pieces are subtly put into place for the big milestone issue. My goodness, I cannot wait for another issue of The Walking Dead.

  1. We Stand on Guard #6 (Image Comics), Unspoiled Edition

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Brian K. Vaughan’s futuristic Canadian war saga comes to an end in We Stand on Guard #6, leaving readers with only Saga and Paper Girls to quench their thirst for Vaughan’s writing. Though we will certainly miss We Stand on Guard, the other two books are more than enough. If you haven’t read We Stand on Guard the six-issue mini-series will almost certainly be available in trade paperback form within the next couple of months. It’ll be late for Christmas, but not too late for you to use your Christmas cash and gift cards on.


  1. Batman and Robin Eternal #10 (DC Comics), Spoiled Edition

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Many of you are familiar with the fact that Facebook has doubled down on assisting users with sharing memories from previous years. Well, I was recently asked if I wanted to share some comments I’d made on Batman’s “Knightfall” arc many years ago. I had said something along the lines of, “For all of you out there who had to suffer through the Jean-Paul Valley Batman years in real time, I feel sorry for you. Those issues are really difficult to get through.” Flash forward a couple of days and I am reviewing a brand new Batman story featuring both Bane and Azrael. In fact, some of you might remember a post from a couple weeks ago where I accidentally predicted that we’d see Azrael in Batman and Robin Eternal. I feel super proud for that one.

While I really enjoyed this particular issue, it points to a difficulty that has surfaced with the New 52 universe, namely that some of the best stories of all time are getting thrown out for the sake of keeping things fresh. If this is the first time Tim Drake has ever met Jean-Paul Valley / Azrael, that means that at least some portion of “Knightfall” never happened. Considering my commentary on reading the comics from that era you’d think I’d be happy about this fact, but that is not the case. The concepts and outline of “Knightfall” are some of the coolest things that have ever taken place in the Batman universe. The idea that Batman was broken but not killed, that he passed on his legacy to an untested hero who later went rogue, and finally that a healed Bruce Wayne would have to take out this new Batman for the sake of Gotham — it doesn’t get much better than that. Furthermore, the delivery of some of the latter stories was spot on. It is possible that some portion of this story still exists in the New 52 universe, but we definitely cannot balance the whole story with the events of Batman and Robin Eternal.

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What do we lose? “Knightfall” establishes Bane as one of the most formidable Batman foes of all time, second only to the Joker in importance. But if Jean-Paul Valley never became Batman then I seriously doubt that Bane ever broke Bruce Wayne’s back. The further we push this back, one has to wonder: Why did Bane even come to Gotham in the first place? Why would he come if not to take the city from the Bat? Furthermore, Bane never seemed like the type to give up easily. He was strong, fast, and brilliant, which means that he would either break the Bat or he would end up dead. Without this backstory, and backstory is crucial to DC characters more so than anyone else save maybe Spider-man, Bane is some absurd wrestler in a mask, little more. Jean-Paul Valley isn’t exactly a heavy hitter in the DC universe post-Knightfall, but he is probably as integral to Tim Drake’s backstory as Joe Chill is to Bruce’s, Tony Zucco is to Dick’s, and the Joker is to both to Jason and Barbara’s. There is something very deep missing if we do not have this story.

What do we gain? As I mentioned, Jean-Paul Valley had a disappointing reign as Batman — although he certainly brought new meaning to the nickname “Caped Crusader” — and little impact after Knightfall, so this New 52 makeover certainly suggests that he might have a more prominent and recurring position from here on out. He is now part of an organization that has been developed for some time in Grayson and he is potentially a hand-crafted crime fighting son created for Bruce Wayne many years ago. Way to go, bro. We also get a bit of uncertainty regarding the direction of our superheroes’ lives which we wouldn’t have were Knightfall repeated or assumed as canon. These are all good for story development and they are all good for sales.

I guess the take home message is that this sort of thing happens with each and every Crisis in the DC Universe. You just never know what is canon or not canon until it has been referred to (Batgirl’s flashback to Joker shooting her in Batgirl #1, for example) or overwritten (Jean-Paul Valley in this issue). If you want the depth that comes with years of continuity, you are probably reading Marvel comics anyways. Furthermore, a New 52 re-imagination of the Bane and Azrael story does not erase the existence of all those other comics. You can still pick up the trades at a Barnes and Noble and enjoy them as if they had never been retconned. In fact, “Convergence” suggested that these realities all still exist in some shape or form. However messy that is, it means we ultimately get the best of both worlds. Sure, any time you explain Batman’s history from origin to present it is now a publication history rather than a character history, but it is still Batman. And Batman is awesome. What is the true test for comics? That they keep selling! What is the true test for me? That they keep putting out stories good enough for me to review them like I am reviewing Batman and Robin Eternal #10.

  1. Constantine – The Hellblazer #7 (DC Comics), Spoiled Edition

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John Constantine was first introduced in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing, and as a result it seems like a DC Comics tradition to have a Constantine / Swamp Thing team-up in every Constantine volume. Some of these throughout the years have felt like a forced sacrifice to the gods of the green, but Swamp Thing’s appearance in Constantine – The Hellblazer was just a treat. The story came together like an early episode of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: there is a dire situation (Swamp Thing is disconnected from the web of plant life in New York City) featuring a supernatural threat (Tree Nymphs) that shares a common theme with the overarching character development content (SEX!).

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The art, as always, was fantastic, Swamp Thing was just disconnected enough from human pleasantries to be comedic but not idiotic, and the theme of the current arc was reinforced. It is dangerous life and death dangerous eternal damnation dangerous to get involved with John Constantine. I really want things to go well for John and his beau, but I honestly don’t think it is possible. When a dilemma like this arises, it comes down to whether or not you trust the creators to base their tragic decisions on better character development, and in this case I really do. I’m interested to see where things are going in Constantine – The Hellblazer. Issue #7 is much like the previous six, surprisingly delightful and spellbinding.

  1. The Walking Dead #149 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

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Sometimes I think I know where Robert Kirkman is going with The Walking Dead, then Rick comes along and says something like, “Are you kidding me? Of course I’m not going to let you out, Negan!” I suppose this is why I am just as excited to read the series at issue #149 as I was at issue #1. Due to the fact that I got into comics in the 1990s when there were gigantic, shiny X-Men milestone issues every other Wednesday, I think I may just have foolish expectations for new comics. I was thinking something major was going to go down, something that is impossible to overcome, and Rick was going to have to figure a way out of it in issue #150. Reality was contrary to my expectations. This issue merely puts everyone in their places, presumably so everything can blow up in the next issue. I have to say that this issue is probably one of the more clever lead-ins to something big, because it really does not seem to hint toward what is coming next. We are supposed to feel some anxiety over the fact that Negan is sitting in a cage and the people from his community presumably will want to break him out and elect them his leader once again, but the thing that really makes me anxious is the fact that Maggie was seen playing with her baby boy. Losing him would hurt.

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Sure, there’s a ton to talk about, what with Negan and his people on the map alongside the Whisperers and Rick’s people ready to revolt if his military gambit doesn’t work, but what I’d rather do is fast forward to January 13 when The Walking Dead #150 is scheduled to be released.

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  1. We Stand on Guard #6 (Image Comics), Spoiled Edition

Brian K. Vaughan’s We Stand on Guard is simultaneously a commentary on both comic book superheroes and current world affairs. In issue #6, this dialogue ties up pretty succinctly. Kal El / Clark Kent lost his entire race when Krypton exploded and Bruce Wayne lost his family to inner city crime, but Amber’s final words hit hard. When you murder someone’s family, that person doesn’t turn into the embodiment of truth and justice. The orphan becomes the avenger, the reckoner, the murderer. In other words, war creates terrorists and marauders, not heroes and patriots.

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The easy interpretation would be to suggest that we should not be surprised that sects in the Middle East and across the globe have identified the USA as the great evil. If your parents are killed in a drone attack, you’re probably going to want to inflict the same horrors on the person behind the controls. However, and maybe this is my own age, I think the same thing can be said on the flip side. It should come as no surprise that a child who lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan might grow up and buy into Islamophobia. The fact that so much of this world is engaged in international conflict means that we are going to keep pumping out hate-filled blood-thirsty extremists. Clearly, this positions We Stand on Guard as a narrative version of the classic Gandhi quote, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” What is the alternative? Peace? I don’t know if Vaughan would claim that peace is even a possibility anymore. The only peace we see in We Stand on Guard comes after the carnage and destruction of the US and Canadian forces. In other words, we see a lot more blood and guts than we do love beads and flowers. Perhaps the only peace lies in the metaphorical afterlife that Vaughan presents in his flashback to before Amber’s family was murdered.

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We Stand on Guard is over, but we will no doubt resume some of these threads of thought in future issues ofSaga. In fact, a comparison between Amber from We Stand on Guard and Hazel from Saga in terms of children raised in wartime might be an interesting thing to read. Somebody write that already!

* * *

Extraordinary X-Men 01 01

The X-Men were my original gateway into comic books. In the 1990s, I picked up just about everything from Onslaught through Bastion, and a little over a decade ago I read every X-Men-related comic released by Marvel between 1963 and 1986/87. I was really excited for Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, but then Brian Michael Bendis’s All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men turned into the flagship of all things X, but I honestly feel like Lemire and Ramos’ Extraordinary X-Men is the truest X-Men comic released in the last five or so years. I only read a couple of issues during the “Decimation” event, so I don’t have the same problems as some of the harder critics who say Extraordinary X-Men is an unoriginal volume rehashing the end of new mutant births, but even taking that into consideration this rewind is not the only innovation of Extraordinary X-Men and innovation is not the only measure of a good comic book.

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The X-Men are now living in times much more dangerous than they have ever faced before. To safeguard the Jean Grey school from threats, Storm has asked Magik to transport the school to Limbo, they have called in every ally they can find (effectively putting an end to the Schism just as Bendis attempted in Uncanny X-Men #600), and they are actively attempting to save any remaining mutant and many Inhumans from government sponsored gene-culling. Cyclops has apparently been killed after attacking the Inhumans (who Beast is now teamed up with). Storm is center-stage, which is something that I have wanted for YEARS, and she is haunted (?) by Professor Xavier.

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We haven’t seen Xavier since the Amazing X-Men invaded heaven to save Nightcrawler, but between then and now Secret Wars happened and messed everything up. Lemire has continued Aaron and Bendis’ crusade to develop Iceman, who recently unleashed an army of snow men which he controls by going into a Yogic trance. Magik has been rescuing mutants and Inhumans worldwide but doing so solo.

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Once this proved too dangerous, she was tasked with bringing in her brother Colossus and his best friend Nightcrawler.

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Colossus has been making excuses for not being a part of the action, and Nightcrawler has apparently been hunting a new variant on The Marauders. The team has been actively attempting to recruit young Jean Grey, who they believe to be the lynchpin to their further success, but who wants to pursue her education (just like original Jean Grey when the original series was cancelled for several years in the 60s/70s!). Finally, there is Old Man Wolverine who apparently knows that he doesn’t belong in this time or even in this reality.

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I think it is likely that Extraordinary X-Men is Lemire’s best comic to date. Animal Man was fantastic at first, but then after a while it seemed limited by both its character base and too much editorial oversight. With Extraordinary X-Men it really feels like Lemire has the ability to really let loose. Every issue suggests that Lemire is sitting on years of story notes, all of which get straight to the heart of what it means to be the X-Men. The best measure of this comic’s success, however, is the fact that I am left thinking about it from issue to issue. Extraordinary X-Men may be my favorite comic book right now.

Either that or The Walking Dead

Or Revival

Whatever. Leave me a lone. There are a lot of great comic books out there, which brings me to another point: I am out of comics to catch up on. I may get caught up on the Old Man Logan stories since I missed that whole trend when it was coming out, but I’m always looking for current comics that I have overlooked. Like John Stuart Mill, I think I have to guard myself from being wrong and selling something short. To do so, I need my comic book public to keep me in check. Let me know what you love, friends, because I’d love to read it and write about it!