Jim Shooter chronicles the final moments of Doom's battle with Beyonder:
The mask is pulled away, and as the icy vacuum of the Beyonder's realm washes across half of Doom's bared face, Doom awakens, feeling half of his body being pulled apart, peeled away in layers. The agony, the nausea and the horror are beyond imagining. Utter death, only split-seconds away, offers an escape, which any other mortal would gratefully accept... but he is Doom! The breastplate hovers nears... and the Beyonder himself is close at hand. Doom's remaining arm quivers weakly, its battered flesh loathe to respond... but he is Doom! As his vision blurs, and the ebony warmth closes around his consciousness, he fights on, reaching, groping...
The Beyonder was, in the words of Thor, "nigh omnipotent." Doom stole power from the world-eater Galatacus, in hopes of absorbing the Beyonder's greater power and becoming a God. This is, of course, from Shooter' much maligned Secret Wars limited series, a book started at the behest of Mattel. This stuff really presaged the "more is better" aesthetic that generally kills off superhero movies.
And yet, when I read this over, I tell you it was Faulkner to me. I'm 35 years old, and I'm still walking around saying to myself, "The Beyonder himself is close at hand..." I'm not making a case for great literary quality here—I don't even know that I believe in such a thing. But there was something about the epic canvas that these guys painted on, something about the bigness of it all. And, again, in a pre-internet age, there were so many holes and warrens to wander through.
The whole Gods vs. Gods aesthetic was a huge influence on hip-hop (Check out the Last Emperor's interpretation here. It's interesting, if a bit literal.) and thus a huge influence on me. The need to present yourself as larger than life, as harder than the world you were born into, was as I've said, an essential skill in my day. Hip-Hop took that skill--the visual aspect of walking the block with a bop—and set it to poetry and drums. Of course the performance of the hood is ultimately just a cover for the wounds the street inevitably inflicted on you.
Doom was born a gypsie—which in another place, is another way, of all the many ways, to say he was born a nigger. Put differently, he was one of us. His aspect was scarred from his attempts to transcend himself, and so he donned a mask.
Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It's really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.
When I was young, all of this was dismissed as trash. I think that's changing some now. But it's one of the reasons why I'm so slow to write off hip-hop--and pop culture at large—even today. I saw things in Saturday morning cartoons that stick with me to this day. If I can be here at The Atlantic, on the wings of Mattel gimmickry, who knows what some kid is out there making of Airbenders and Rick Ross?
It is not my time, and I am, anyway, filled with ego, filled with the need to explore the caverns I claim as my own. But still, with expectation, I await dispatches from the young, word from the seers who will find genius in this era of "Flavor Of Love."
Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself.
I have seen the future, and it is in the United States.
After a several-year immersion in parts of the country that make the news mainly after a natural disaster or a shooting, or for follow-up stories on how the Donald Trump voters of 2016 now feel about Trump, I have a journalistic impulse similar to the one that dominated my years of living in China. That is the desire to tell people how much more is going on, in places they had barely thought about or even heard of, than they might have imagined.
In the case of China, that impulse matched the mood of the times. In the years before and after the world financial crisis of 2008, everyone knew that China was on the way up; reporters like me were just filling in the details. In the case of the modern United States, I am well aware that this message runs so counter to prevailing emotions and ideas as to seem preposterous. Everyone knows how genuinely troubled the United States is at the level of national politics and governance. It is natural to assume that these disorders must reflect a deeper rot across the country. And indeed, you can’t travel extensively through today’s America, as my wife, Deb, and I have been doing in recent years, without being exposed to signs of rot, from opioid addiction to calcifying class barriers.
The field widely agrees that race is a social construct, but gets into trouble when it ignores semantics.
In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, “How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of Race,” the geneticist David Reich challenged what he called an “orthodoxy” in genetics. Due to concerns of political correctness, he argued, scientists are unwilling to do research on—or, in some cases, even discuss—genetic variation between human populations, despite the fact that genetic variations do exist. “It is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races,’” he wrote.
The piece was widely circulated, drawing condemnation from some social scientists who were appalled by its implications and praise from people who believe that discussion of racial differences has become taboo. Predictably, it rang the bell for another round of an ongoing media fight over why there’s a gap between black and white IQ scores. Ezra Klein referenced the piece in Vox, and debated it with Sam Harris. Andrew Sullivan riffed on campus leftists and culture war.
The head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau tells it like it is: If you want access to policymakers, it’s helpful to donate lots of money. But that doesn’t seem to bother him.
The problem isn’t that Mick Mulvaney wasn’t being honest. It’s that he was a little too honest.
Speaking to the American Bankers Association at a conference in Washington on Tuesday, Mulvaney, who is head of the Office of Management and Budget and interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, had advice for those gathered: If you want to play, you better pay.
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” he said, according to The New York Times. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” He added, however, “If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions.”
It doesn’t signal a lack of trust—to some, it’s a way for spouses to show they trust each other more.
A joint bank account has, traditionally, been a sign of commitment. As newlyweds start their lives together, it is perhaps the clearest way for them to say, to each other and to the world, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine.”
But these days, some young couples are skeptical. “There has been a generational change,” said Joanna Pepin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland who studies the organization of money in romantic relationships. “The research we have shows that, cross-culturally, more people are keeping money separate.” Indeed, a Bank of America study published earlier this year seemed to suggest that Millennial married and cohabitating couples were more likely to hold separate accounts than previous generations were.
A new research center at Columbia University is committed to figuring out how to turn failure into success.
Every kid has that moment when she realizes that the adults she admires aren’t perfect. Few children ever learn, however, that the same is true for the inventors and intellectual giants whose distinguished portraits permeate their history textbooks.
As it turns out, recognizing that visionaries such as Albert Einstein experienced failure can actually help students perform better in school. In 2016, the cognitive-studies researcher Xiaodong Lin-Siegler of Columbia University’s Teachers College published a study that found that high-school students’ science grades improved after they learned about the personal and intellectual struggles of scientists including Einstein and Marie Curie. Students who only learned about the scientists’ achievements saw their grades decline.
What if the problem isn’t the president—it’s the presidency?
I. A Broken Office
Donald Trump often appears to be a president in rebellion against his office. A president, we have come to expect, hastens to the scene of a natural disaster to comfort the afflicted. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Trump arrived tardily and behaved unseriously, tossing rolls of paper towels at storm-battered residents as if he were trying to drain three-point shots.
We have come to expect that when the national fabric rends, the president will administer needle and thread, or at least reach for the sewing box of unity. After white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, shouting “Jews will not replace us,” President Trump’s instinct was to emphasize that there were good people among the neo-Nazis.
It would not only undermine 30 years of clean-air regulations, but radically restrict what science the agency is allowed to use.
In one sweeping move, the Trump administration may soon not only destabilize the last three decades of clean air and water rules, but also completely overhaul how the Environmental Protection Agency uses science in its work. If EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s recently-proposed rule gets enacted, it will spark a revolution in environmental regulation. But the question is—will it stand up in court?
Pruitt proposed the regulation on Tuesday, describing it as an effort to increase transparency. It would require the EPA to publish all the underlying scientific data used to support studies which guide clean-air and clean-water rules. It would forbid the use of studies that do not meet this standard, even if they have been peer-reviewed or replicated elsewhere.
Among the most strident critics of the nuclear deal with Iran are those who believe it furthers the survival of its leadership. By throwing Iran’s rulers an economic lifeline, they believe, the deal is an abject failure. America’s goal, they say, should never have been “denuclearization,” but regime change.
These days, those regime-change evangelists, having shrugged off the lessons of the Iraq War, are back at the helm of U.S. foreign policy. John Bolton, Donald Trump’s new national-security adviser, has long advocated regime change in Iran, and more recently has argued that the administration should openly embrace it as a foreign-policy goal. At the same time, Bolton and his ilk are pushing for a denuclearization deal with North Korea ahead of Trump’s planned summit with Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader. Preparations for the meeting will likely be in full swing by May 12, the next deadline for extending the Iran deal. The Trump administration, in other words, could find itself in the odd situation of tearing down the nuclear deal with Iran while pursuing a similar deal with North Korea.
In entertainment, when does empathy become exploitation?
The most chilling scene in the early new episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale comes when a 15-year-old Econowife, Eden (Sydney Sweeney), shyly tells June (Elisabeth Moss) that her new husband refuses to lie with her. June gently explains that she should be patient, that the strangeness of the arranged marriage is hard for her husband, too. “I can’t wait,” Eden replies. “It’s our duty to God.” Then her face hardens. “What if I don’t? What if he can’t?” She wonders if her husband is a “gender traitor,” a crime that carries a death sentence in the theocratic Republic of Gilead.
During the scene, the camera lingers—as it tends to do in The Handmaid’s Tale—on Moss’s face. The shock for the viewer comes as June processes what Eden has said, and what it implies. June’s affect beforehand is sisterly, treating the teenager with a gentle kind of authority. But over the space of a few seconds she realizes how dangerous Eden is—that her devotion to Gilead’s regime could spur a man’s execution in a heartbeat. The moment is quietly terrifying; its menace comes from what isn’t shown or said, but what’s left to viewers to imagine.
These increasingly complex organoids aren't conscious—but we might not know when they cross that line.
Last week, Rusty Gage and colleagues at the Salk Institute announced that they had successfully transplanted lab-grown blobs of human brain tissue into mice. Gage’s team grew the blobs, known as brain organoids, from human stem cells. Once surgically implanted into rodent brains, the organoids continued growing, and their neurons formed connections with those of the surrounding brains. It was the first time such transplants had worked: Until now, organoids had only ever been grown in dishes.
To be clear, Gage’s mice weren’t running around with human brains, nor did they have a human mind trapped inside their heads. The biggest brain organoids are lentil-sized and contain 2 to 3 million cells; a human brain is 20,000 times bigger and contains around 172 billion cells. Even the biggest ones don’t have the full set of cells needed for a working brain. On their own, their neurons don’t form networks like those in our heads. They don’t sense, learn, or make memories. They are emphatically not brains in jars. They’re not mini-brains either, in the same way that a leaf is not a mini-plant and a doorknob is not a mini-building.