Saturday, January 9, 2010


That promised new project for 2010 is starting... early. Um, not to let too much of the cat out of the bag, but a preview of sorts is up now, and the official home of the new project will be here:

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Excerpted from the Daily Planet, December 21, written by Perry White:

This morning at 2:31 AM Eastern Standard Time Clark Kent, known to most of the world as Superman, passed away due to complications from cancer at Metropolis General Hospital. Kent is survived by his wife, Lois Lane-Kent, and mother, Martha. His loss will be felt for years.

Clark will be buried in an open funeral in Metropolis Gardens Cemetery at 11 AM on Saturday. He will be eulogized by Bruce Wayne, popularly known as the Batman, who will break ground on a “functional” monument to Superman, the country’s largest homeless and civic center, at the end of the ceremony. The text of his eulogy is posted below:

Not all of you knew Clark Kent. Some of you knew him only from his reporting, or as that man in the sky with the “S” on his chest, but those were just the tip of the spear. Clark was always more than the sum of his parts, more than a godlike alien, or a farmboy from Kansas, an urban reporter, a hero- even a husband, son and friend.

I’ve been privileged, more than perhaps any other human being, because I’ve known Clark in many of those capacities. I served with him proudly in the Justice League, and I’ll say it now that I was proud to call him my friend. I even had the opportunity, as owner of the Daily Planet, to see him work, and on a few occasions I was graced to dine with his family and his wife.

But the one thing everyone should know about Clark Kent: his most amazing ability was his humanity. A lot of people, and I would probably count myself among them, are better in adversity. But Clark was the opposite. When bad things happened, he was absolutely the person you wanted to have around, but it was in the down time that he thrived.

I remember we were in Jarhanpur, and buildings were collapsing. It’s true, when a building is falling over, Superman is invaluable, but Flash, Diana, J’onn, whatever Green Lantern you have in tow- they’re all good at pulling people out of falling buildings. But afterwards, when there were still people missing in the rubble, when we needed someone who could look at the survivors and say, “Don’t lose hope-” that was Clark. And there is no one who will ever be able to say it like he could, no one who can make even me believe.

And that’s just it. In the days, weeks and years that come, people will remember him for his strength, his speed, and his amazing abilities. But what we’ve lost here isn’t a superhuman, because there are many left who will fill that void; what we’ve lost is the most human person I’ve ever known.

There was a time or two I joked with him about that, how he always elevated the man above the super; I suggested he start wearing an “M” on his chest instead. He laughed, and said then people would start calling him Marvel Man, and there’d be another legal battle with Captain Marvel.

It’s okay to laugh; Clark would have wanted us to.

Clark loved all of us; I don’t say that with an ounce of hyperbole, and despite its messianic overtones. Perhaps because he was not literally human, he was granted perspective, on all of our faults, our failings; he loved humanity for all the potential we possessed, despite all the times we squander it.

I remember the first time I saw him cry. He was struggling with the totality of the responsibility he’d undertaken. He’d tried listening to the sounds of the city, all of the fights and petty bickering, the mistrust and lies; he was thinking about being more proactive, going after crime before it became violent, intervening before punches were thrown. And it overwhelmed him.

He asked, “Why can’t things- why can’t people- be better?” I remember I laughed at him, and thought he was naïve. But there were moments when those words came back to me, when I thought, “Why can’t they?” So I tried to be better. I tried to do more. To encourage more.

There were times when I wanted to be him. Not for the power, but because he had one ability I could never match, for all the cleverness of my engineers, for all the tricks I could pull there was one thing I could only encourage him to do because I couldn’t: inspire.

And he inspired a generation, a whole generation of people only some of whom were foolish enough to adopt his fashion sense and leap off rooftops, but a generation of people who work in soup kitchens and volunteer, who work to build a better world than the one they found. A generation who made him proud of his adoptive world.

Clark’s only super power that ever surprised me was his ability to be better every day. He raised the bar for excellence, and every day he surpassed it. And I know that Clark didn’t do it because he had abilities beyond what most people can fathom, but because of who he was. He excelled by being kinder, or more understanding, by consistently putting the needs of others before his own. The only time he’s let me down, the only time he truly disappointed me, was by dying; it’s hard to fathom the possibility of a world without a Superman, and I’m disappointed that we’ll all now have to try.

I didn’t come here to bury my friend, but to tell you who he was. But I think he has one last power, because I don’t think Clark Kent has died. I think what he accomplished will live in our memories far beyond mortal leaders. I believe in our next generation, our children won’t look to us and say they want to be President, because they’ve seen a better purpose and a better office than that. They’ll say, “I want to be Superman.”

And that world would very definitely be a better one than the one that Clark found. Lois, Martha, I speak for all of us when I say you’ll be in our hearts; we love you as surely as we loved him.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Impending Demise: You’re in a hospital room, one your doctors don’t seem optimistic you’ll walk out of.

Superman: Yes.

ID: What happened? A few weeks ago you didn’t look- you’re a shell of the man you were even a month ago.

S: The League. We did what we always do, stepped up to a challenge with everything we had, with sometimes unorthodox methodology.

ID: Care to elaborate?

S: Kryptonite radiation therapy. The thinking was, if normal radiation didn’t work on the cancer cells, maybe the kind of radiation I’m vulnerable to would work like normal radiation on a human being. Apparently Bruce has been trying to set it up for six months, now, tracking down anyone with even a passing experience with kryptonite, Metallo, the Kryptonite Man. The missing link, though, the one they needed to piece everything together was Conduit. He is able to project kryptonite radiation, so he was the one who really held the key. But from what we gather Lex Luthor had the same notion, and had taken Conduit and put him into a kind of supervillian witness protection program. Bruce has been harrowing Lex and his interests ever since, including a few hostile takeovers of his assets- he’d been hoping to make revenge too expensive for Lex. But he was also coordinating one of the most sophisticated man-hunts in the history of the League, involving the Birds of Prey as they like to be called, and the Martian Manhunter, to name only a few.

Eventually Bruce tracked Conduit back to Kansas. And I hope I’m not uh talking out of school, but I say back to Kansas because he and I grew up in the same home town. His real name is Ken Braverman. His parents were actually driving to the hospital for his birth when my rocket from Krypton arrived. A chunk of the ship broke off entering the atmosphere and landed in the road in front of the Braverman’s car, and caused his dad to put the car into a ditch. Ken was born in the backseat, and their proximity to the piece of the rocket meant that he absorbed a lot of kryptonite radiation.

We were both pretty close to the same age. Because of the radiation Ken had a lot of health problems growing up: he was small, and frail, got sick a lot. Because of that people picked on him. I tried to stand up for him, but, sometimes when you don’t feel strong enough the last thing in the world you want is for someone else to fight your battles. I think if Ken hadn’t been dosed with radiation, if he hadn’t been sick, I think we probably would have been friends.

Anyway, by high school, Ken’s health had reversed track, and rather than being weaker than most everybody, he was stronger, and faster. But he had a hell of a chip on his shoulder, too. He remembered every single person who put him down, every single person who ever laughed at his frailty. And he remembered every perceived slight, every time he felt I’d put him down trying to stand up for him.

Only he was still having side effects from the radiation, and he was in an increasing amount of pain. He got into contact with the CIA, who were interested in studying him and the positive effects of the radiation, in exchange for curing the negative side effects. Well, cure can be a relative term. Somehow, Ken’s body had become wholly radioactive, and was in a constant state of decay. Growing up that wasn’t much of an issue, since there was a steady creation of new cells, but as he was reaching adulthood, his body was producing fewer and fewer cells, but the rate of decay was the same, and the only thing they could do was mitigate his suffering. They designed a suit to contain the radiation, with a built in pain-relief system.

When he wasn't of any scientific interest anymore, his abilities became his only bargaining chip, so he started working as an operative. But pain makes people do stupid things. On a mission in France, Ken nearly killed a government attaché when his cover was blown, and the CIA decided to cut him loose.

Ken needed expertise to keep his containment suit operational, but since he didn’t have any money, he had to pay his way in trade. And the only people with the expertise to work on that kind of tech who wanted the services of a spook in trade were not the kinds of people you wanted to be indebted to. But for Ken it was a godsend, because one of them had enough experience with nuclear reactors that he recognized that a partial solution to Ken’s problem might be venting. For me, and people who ran into Conduit, however, it was a little less pleasant.

But over the years Ken and I had developed a bit of a rivalry. Once he got healthy we competed in sports. He asked Lana to prom, though she eventually went with me. It was a lot of little things that built up, like his verbally abusive father, who for some damn reason would talk me up in the same breath he’d talk his own son down. And once he was operating in the open as Conduit, often out of Metropolis, we came into conflict again. And because we knew each other, he figured out who I was, where I’d come from, and even made a half-hearted attempt at killing people he knew I was close with. I’m not absolving him of responsibility, but really, I think pain makes you do stupid things, emotional pain doubly so.

That was the beauty and simplicity of Lex’s plan, hiding him in plain sight, as it were, in my home town, but nothing stays hidden from Bruce forever, and eventually he found him. But then there was the issue of convincing Ken to help, and I have to give credit where it’s due. Bruce has a lot of speeds, philanthropist, entrepreneur, the bad cop that is Batman, a lot of ways to convince or threaten or bribe someone to do what he wants. But he’d figured enough out about Ken to know he wouldn’t cave to any of those. So he told him I was dying, that he was my last hope, that at the very least he should look me in the eye and tell me his decision face to face. It was one last chance to gloat, if he wanted it, or a chance to be the better man if he chose that instead. And Ken took him up on it, and to my surprise, once Ken was in the room with me, he couldn’t be angry any more. He actually, actually hugged me. I think, that, there are some times when you think you have forever to let something play out, that the fight you had with your parents or your friend or whoever, will be resolved at some point. But being faced with a definite conclusion, I don’t think Ken wanted me to die, all these years, because when it came down to it, Ken Braverman tried to save my life. It wasn’t something I saw coming.

ID: Tried?

S: Yeah. It didn’t work. The cancer’s more resistant to kryptonite radiation than the rest of my cells. It actually did a fair amount of damage to me, while the cancer was hardly touched.

ID: I’m sorry.

S: Thank you.

ID: The prognosis isn't good.

S: No. But that symbol I wore on my chest all these years, my family crest, it represents hope. I don't think at this point that I'm hoping for my own survival, but I do hope that the world will still thrive when I'm gone.

We’ll be trying to bring you a new section of the interview every Tuesday. Some of the questions have already been prepared by the interviewer, but to ask Superman a question, leave a comment or send an email to

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Superman: We had the first snow of the, well, I guess not year and not quite winter yet, but of this cold season; that doesn’t sound right, either, because it’s not that cold season, the illness kind, but the temperature one.

Irreconcilable Dictions: It snowed, we got it.

S: Right. But that point, the one I’m still groping for, is that I was cold. Not just that seeing your breath, maybe I should have put on a hoodie cold, but the feel it in your bones cold, the way my great aunt used to say she was cold, no matter how many blankets you put on her, she couldn’t stay warm, because the cold was in her bones.

I’m not, I’m not thinking clearly right now; I’ve had a headache the better part of the week, though it’s a bit more acute right now.

ID: So you decided to finally come record this week’s segment when you were at your absolute least useful.

S: Hmm. That actually annoys you. You put up a good front of affrontation, but very little actually irritates you. But this, you take this interview seriously, don’t you?

ID: All evidence to the contrary?

S: I know, now that I’ve called you on it, it’s natural to want to pull back, to become even more evasive and cold. I don’t think, you don’t just spend hours on end week after week talking and discussing with someone without growing attached to them. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t, I don’t know, friends might be much, since I have trouble seeing you holding my hand in a hospital room, but I think there’s some kind of a respect and affection there. Hell, I wouldn’t have approached you in the first place if I didn’t hold some respect for you on a professional level

ID: Respect which I have tried, systematically, to undermine since you introduced yourself to me.

S: You both have and you haven’t. I think for all the world you wanted to play it both ways, give me my Frost/Nixon grilling while giving me a forum to express myself; I think at times you willfully denigrated yourself, personally and professionally, to make sure I came out the cleaner of the two of us.

ID: To level with you? The work is important; this is, for parts of the public, your last will and testament. Given everything you’ve done in your life, it’s a responsibility for both of us to do this right.

And I never thought you’d go fishing for it, but of course I respect you- in the same vein I respect soldiers and firemen and police. I know you work and you sacrifice for the good of a lot of people. And I know that I’m a writer, that there’s some sacrifice but that mostly I’ve chosen to do what I love, and the fact that the stories I tell and the light I shed is a byproduct of that fairly selfish decision, it’s ancillary and even unintended.

So yes, coming into the interview, of course I respected you, and of course, by virtue of who you are, of course I bore some residual affection for you. But I think you give me too much of a pass, that I have a bit too much of that wholly American sense of iconoclasm: we love our stars, our celebrities, or heroes- but we love their destruction more.

And journalistically, I’ve never set out to treat you any differently than any of my other interview subjects. I have; I’m still objective enough to recognize my bias, at least some of the time, but I hope on balance that I’ve shot as straight down the middle as possible.

S: I notice you sidestepped the important point: namely, that over the course of this last year, I’ve grown fond of you. And you don’t have to say you reciprocate, and I wouldn’t take it personally if you didn’t.

You have been a pain, in my backside and elsewhere, a perpetual thorn in my palm and my side. But I’ll miss you.

ID: Do you think it’s time for that? Time to say goodbye?

S: It’s never too early to say goodbye. I just always hope that it’s not for the last time.

ID: And I’d like to end there, it’s, too pretty not to, but I have to ask, I have to know. Has something changed? A new test result, do you feel differently?

S: No. And I think that’s the problem. Nothing has changed. I continue to decline at a predictable rate. I’m cold. And I’m tired. And I don’t want my last thoughts to be about how my pride prevented me from saying goodbye one last time. So goodbye.

ID: Goodbye.


Wait. I’ll see you next week.

S: I sincerely hope so.

We’ll be trying to bring you a new section of the interview every Tuesday. Some of the questions have already been prepared by the interviewer, but to ask Superman a question, leave a comment or send an email to

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Superman: At this time of year, and specifically at what may very well be the end of my life, I think it’s important to take stock of the things that I have, the things I’m thankful for.

ID: I may just nap through this, listen to it later. Don’t be offended. I was probably at an all-night orgy last night or something.

S: The depths of your empathy never cease to amaze me. But that’s a good place to start. I’m thankful for empathy. And so many people have empathized. Ever since I admitted to being Clark Kent and having cancer, people have sent really touching letters to my office at the Daily Planet. And people who see me in the streets when I get recognized, they’ll nod and smile, a few of them hug me. So many people have expended so much empathy on my behalf… and as much of a jerk as you try to be, I know that, deep down, you’ve actually behaved yourself for my benefit. Mostly.

ID: (snoring- possibly fake- though I’ll never tell).

S: Should have seen that coming.

ID: Why, do you have some kind of seeing things coming power you’d never divulged; no, wait, you couldn’t, or you wouldn’t have picked me to conduct this interview.

S: And, he’s back to pretending to be asleep. Wonderful. Some of this feels odd, like this isn’t a conversation I should be having in front of an audience, but I think it’s one thing to appreciate people in a small, personal way, and I think it’s entirely another to state, in public and on the record, that you care about and appreciate someone in your life.

So of course, I’m thankful for Lois. I shudder to think of the man I’d be without her. I mean that.

I’m thankful for my mother and father. Between them, the three of them, they account for ninety percent of what I think people have admired me for.

I’m thankful for true friends; and that includes those still too proud to admit it, and those who recently have come to terms with it. I’ve really been lucky; I’ve had a lot of love in my life. I know I haven’t always deserved it, but I’ve tried my whole life to earn it.

Mostly, though, I’m thankful for people, and maybe I’m rehashing empathy, here, but people really have restored my faith in humanity. Like after September 11th, everyone’s just proven the innate capacity for good, for kindness. I just hope, I hope someday there’s a world good enough for people to lower their guard, lay down their defenses, and just be that kind to everyone. To know that I was even alive during a part of that, or the build up to that, thinking that, hoping that, I could die happy tomorrow.

ID: Um, I’ll try to broach this carefully, but you spent the holiday in a bed.

S: Yeah. I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse, but I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. I collapsed. I don’t think it was anything, and I tried to tell my mom to just give me a rain check; but instead she flew a bunch of the family out to Metropolis. They took over the apartment on Thanksgiving, driving Lois up onto the ceiling, and brought everything into my room, a big, plump turkey, creamy mashed potatoes with gravey, stuffing, biscuits, salad, deviled eggs... just talking about all that food actually makes my stomach feel full.

But I wasn’t, I’m not trying to pull for sympathy. My point is after food, and festivities, the conversation, since we were in a hospital room, turned political. We started discussing the health reform bill. And I was struck by the ignorance and fear; and I don’t say that to disparage my friends or my family, because I think they are all thoughtful and intelligent people. But the rhetoric is so pervasive out there that it’s hard to know what’s actually going on. And these were people I loved, so I didn’t try to correct everything, but the more egregious things- but it was probably our last Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want things to turn petty or ugly, as politics so often can.

I’m not asking for politicians not to frame issues in a sympathetic light, or not to promote their agendas; but I am saying that politicians of all stripes should honor the service they do for their country by telling the people, their citizenry, the truth. If you want smaller government and lower taxes, say that. If you think that a more robust government that does more for the people that might not otherwise get done- well, say that. These decisions we’re making are important, life-changing ones, and it’s important we look at them soberly and sincerely, that we act in genuine good faith for every American.

ID: You sound like you’re running for office.

S: If I weren’t dying and an alien- maybe I would.

ID: Okay, well, I know that’s a shorter session than usual, but your nursewife has been giving me the evil eye from your kitchen ever since I hit “record.”

S: Oh, she does that. There’ve been several times over the years when I’ve wondered if she’s got some kind of telepathic ability, but she can get me to do anything if she glares long and hard enough.

We’ll be trying to bring you a new section of the interview every Tuesday. Some of the questions have already been prepared by the interviewer, but to ask Superman a question, leave a comment or send an email to

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Liberal Bias

Superman: I’ve taken some flack after last week’s interview.

Ignoble Dignitary: Of course. Please tell me that doesn’t surprise you.

S: No, but what did surprise me is how many people seemed to think I crossed a line, when after rereading my comments I think I struck a good balance, frankly. I was pissed off, and it certainly showed, but I don’t think I said anything I’d regret saying to an elected official of either stripe. Republicans have been relying on fear-based politics since at least September 11th; Democrats seem to adhere to the idea of politics as a gentleman’s game that effectively castrates their ability to govern barring supermajorities.

To put it into terms I’m perhaps more expert in: I’ve read a lot of speculation about what motivates a vigilante. And I’ll admit it can all be hard to reconcile. The idea of going it your own way, bucking the system, including the government-operated police force, that’s a very conservative action; especially when you’re protecting the status quo. But when you then take that and do it for a large swath of people, sharing with people the strengths and abilities you possess when they may not have been able to help themselves out of the situation, that’s a very progressive action. Personally, I’ve never had any problem with these two sometimes contradictory, sometimes complementary ideas, because I’m a moderate. But I also know liberal and conservative vigilantes as well, and I don’t think very many of them struggle with what is a background ideological question: they want to make a difference, and everything else is secondary.

But I think it also underscores an important dichotomy in this country, something that in the current polarized climate we lose. The struggle between certain aspects of our political poles is good. Our government and our nation works best when there’s a tug-of-war between big ideas and fiscal responsibility.

One of the big issues I take with the modern Republican party is they’re no longer for fiscal responsibility. They’ve become the party of tax cuts. If we want to pay less in taxes and have a smaller government, that’s a conversation we as a nation can have, but their plan lately has been to cut taxes without cutting expenses and let future generations pick up the tab. That’s why when they complain about a bailout they helped engineer, and a stimulus package they refused to participate in, both of which economists of all political stripes agree have helped soften the current economic crisis, I have trouble taking them seriously.

I have legitimate concerns about the way that the bailout and stimulus were carried out, but if Republicans wanted things done differently, they could have- no, they should have, participated in the process and done what they could to steer either in a direction they wanted.

ID: Like they’re doing with the health reform debate now?

S: No. I don’t mean screaming at the top of their lungs about half-truths and made-up concerns, nor making a half-hearted offer at an alternative bill, I mean actually legislating. Republicans say they’d rather have an incremental bill rather than the one Reid has written. If they were willing to bargain in good faith, they could very well get concessions from the Democratic majority; realistically, the Democrats don’t want to be hung out on a limb for this: it’s already slow to implement, and half of them could very well be out of office by the time Americans feel the effects of the bill. Of course, assuming the Republicans were willing to play ball, the problem with incrementalism is that tomorrow never comes.

ID: That was either deep or you were speaking like a politician.

S: Somewhere in between, I think. But just like cuts to Medicare doctors that are postponed every year by Congress without fail, painful but necessary reforms to the rest of healthcare could just be postponed indefinitely.

Um, on the subject of things I got chewed out over, there were also some women, my wife included, who took issue with me on the revised mammogram and pap smear guidelines. I wasn’t endorsing the findings, and I might even say we should get a second opinion, because I understand, as someone whose mother was diagnosed early with cervical cancer and survived, how important early screening can be; all I was trying to say is we don’t want politicians deciding who gets what treatment based on what criteria. That decision should be left to doctors and scientists who are experts in their fields, and use the best of their professional judgment to set guidelines; I don’t want to make that call any more than I think politicians should.

And I hate to turn this interview into a blog, but I have a quote I’d like to throw in there, from somebody who’s actually read the bill: “This year’s health reform legislation has often been criticized for being health insurance reform rather than health care reform, and for not doing enough to control the cost of health care. Those who offer these criticisms have obviously not read the bills or even tried to understand them.” And that’s my problem with the current Republican party in a nutshell: they criticize without understanding, to the sole purpose of elevating themselves.

And I want to clarify that I mean the Republican party leadership, and those who claim to speak for conservatives in the country. I don’t doubt the good will of a third of the American people, more if you count conservative-leaning independents; but their leadership have lost their way, or as I suspect, have forsaken their way for a road more politically advantageous.

I have no real love for the Democratic Party; the Democrats fail me as often as they make me happy, but at least sometimes they have the courage to stand up and say, often to people who would buy and pay for them, that there is an injustice that they want to right. I think healthcare reform is one of those fights, and I’m not endorsing every action they’ve taken, I’m not endorsing their outcome, but just the fact that they stood up to do something that matters for the American people, at the quite real cost of their power- that takes a kind of bravery. My disgust with some of the opposition’s rhetoric notwithstanding, supporting and applauding that bravery was the point I was trying to make.

ID: You claim to be a moderate, but everyone knows you’re a reporter. That makes you a socialist, by definition.

I assume you’re talking about the supposed liberal bias in the media. Look, I’ll admit I have a slight liberal leaning, and most reporters I know do, too. But we also have journalistic ethics, and believe in trying to tell the story the truest way possible. We take our role in society, that of informing our fellow citizens, very seriously. But for all of the talk of liberal bias, the fact of the matter is, most media owners and management have a conservative bias. The end result isn’t a perfect balance, but rather a mish-mash of competing biases and influences, self-censorship and subjects that never get fully fleshed out. But it’s wholly dishonest to say the media is liberally biased, because it’s much, much more complicated than that.

Besides, the most pervasive bias in the media has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with that other “P” word: profit. Media outlets usually have parent companies, and those parent companies don’t want their affiliates, or companies they work for, shown in a bad light. And since most of their competitors own media outlets, there’s the added worry of starting a media shooting war. And that says nothing of the dread of offending advertisers and sponsors. Bias in our media by reporters acting in good faith has much more to do with removing potentially offending reportage than adding controversial material.

Care to note any of those journalists not acting in good faith?

I wasn’t looking to, actually; I don’t want this to become a partisan eye-poking match. But the most recent example, and I don’t want to claim Sean Hannity is a journalist, because I think it’s fairly clear that he’s a commentator, but that’s the distinction. True bias usually comes from commentators, not journalists. But Hannity used several month old footage of a rally spliced in with footage of a rally that took place a few weeks ago, and claimed that 40,000 rather than 10,000 people showed up. That’s certainly an extreme example, but partisan reporting is very destructive, because it undermines trust, not just in the media, but in our fellow man. When we start doubting each other, we start devolving into paranoia.

That’s one of the reasons I really like NPR and Public Broadcasting. NPR is one of the more unbiased places to find information in the country. One of their smartest political analysts is Juan Williams, who also comments for Fox News, but you’d hardly know that from his reporting, because he’s a pretty consummate professional. I’m sure everyone at NPR has their own ideas, but NPR really does the best job I’ve seen of keeping its allegiances close to the vest.

Another useful news source is the BBC. They’re certainly a bit more liberally-biased than, say, CNN, but they’re also less US-biased, so you really get to see how the rest of the world looks at us. Not in the “Death to America” fanatical circles, but how steadfast but honest allies view the actions we take. I think it’s an important, indispensable perspective.

So you’re saying we should export all of our reporting jobs oversees, then?

Of course not. I’m saying that independent voices are invaluable. And in the current climate it’s difficult to have truly independent voices in a professional context. That’s why we’re on the internet now, and on an independent blog, because no matter where we went, whether it was Fox News or the Huggington Post, there were going to be editorial and advertising concerns trying to dictate content, and format, maybe even deciding what we could say and where.

We’ll be trying to bring you a new section of the interview every Tuesday. Some of the questions have already been prepared by the interviewer, but to ask Superman a question, leave a comment or send an email to

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Superman: I’m a Democrat.

Impractical Dirigibles: Usually I have to poke you with questions, badger and threaten and once blackmail, to get you to reveal potentially aliening information. What gives?

S: I’ve always tried to retain a balanced, independent view of American politics; even when that failed, I always tried not to let my own thoughts or even leanings leak out. I know that certain people respect me, but I didn’t want to try to capitalize on that. I think, and maybe this comes from my parents, but that America is at its strongest when all of its citizens are thinking clearly for themselves.

ID: Pretty. But might I point out that that’s never actually happened.

S: Maybe not. But I didn’t want to become a part of the noise that’s corrupting independent thought, that parrots talking points as if they actually meant anything, that misuses statistics and science and weaves together misinformation and lies to manipulate people.

ID: So you were afraid of being somebody’s Sammy Davis, Jr.

S: In a nutshell, yeah. He voted democrat most of his life, but one back-scratching endorsement of Nixon later and he’s suddenly the poster-child for the Republican’s minority constituency.

ID: So you were worried about being the Democrat’s token alien, part of their big-tent strategy to go after extraterrestrials? Or were you just worried about them parlaying that into all aliens, such as illegal Mexican immigrants?

S: All joking aside, I don’t like politicking. I think politics is supremely important, but I don’t like how either party panders, how fast and loose they play with the truth. Even when I fully agree with a politician I often find myself disgusted with their methods.

ID: So why are you disgusted but fully agreeing with the Democrats now?

S: This particular week, you mean? Because of two cancer-screening suggestions that have come out recently. First, the United States Preventive Services Task Force revised guidelines for mammography, saying regular checks should begin at 50 rather than 40y, and should be done biannually rather than annually. Second, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed the recommendation for pap smears from annually to biannually.

The appropriate response for both parties should have been that they welcome any scientific evidence that will help American healthcare become more efficient and positively effect their constituents’ health and well-being. That’s it. They don’t need to endorse or deny the suggestions, because we do not want politicians battling scientists and doctors over control of our healthcare.

Instead, the fear-based, eternally-campaigning Republicans went on the offensive, and I mean that in both senses of the word, and used the nonbinding advice to drum up more fear about “rationing.” The embattled Democrats were of course forced to respond by saying that they disagree with the science, and won’t let it affect healthcare coverage. Both sides are acting like children, but in this case, the Republicans started it.

And they usually start it. The Republicans are consummate politicians, constantly on the attack, constantly fighting to preserve party unity and stamp out independent thought.

But rationing healthcare is a special case. Because healthcare is a limited commodity, it will always be rationed. We’ve been fortunate, in that our relative economic plenty has meant that the rationing isn’t always visible, but it exists, and at current it is controlled by insurance companies. It’s flatly stupid to complain about government rationing when corporate rationing is the status quo. If that’s the only opposition you have, then you effectively have no grounds for opposition at all; you’re simply obstructing for the sake of political posturing.

Now if my choices are between Democrats who don’t always have the courage of their convictions, or Republicans whose only convictions seem to be the preservation of their own power, well, that’s a pretty easy choice to make.

ID: This all reminds me a bit of Jon Stewart’s interview with Lou Dobbs on the Daily Show.

S: I love Lou Dobbs. He’s Wrong, with a capital “W” on many if not most things, but he’s reasonable, rational. He’ll discuss with you why he’s Wrong, and why he thinks you’re wrong. I think his ideas are at this point coming from a slightly bent to the right curve, and thus don’t always conform to the strict by the facts ideology he sets out for himself, but at least you can follow his line of reasoning.

And it’s a shame to see him leaving CNN. I sincerely hope he doesn’t end up some place like Fox News, because while I think he’s sort of left the reservation, I think Fox, rather than letting him be the voice of reason, would encourage his fringer leanings, and we’d lose what’s useful of his voice in the national conversation.

ID: Could I get you to agree that Republicans are acting like boobs? It would actually help synthesize the two subjects under one title.

S: (sigh). Yes. Republicans are acting like boobs. So that would make you a Republican, right?

ID: Ooh, soiled by my own hubris.

We’ll be trying to bring you a new section of the interview every Tuesday. Some of the questions have already been prepared by the interviewer, but to ask Superman a question, leave a comment or send an email to