Saturday, October 10, 2020

The War of the Realms

Back when I was reading the comic series about Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor, the War of the Realms was coming to Midgard....veeeery slowly.  I thought the war would happen during that series, but it didn't (or more accurately, it started, but was raging across other realms).  But that series ended, and though I attempted a few issues of the next series, with Thor Odinson once again the Mighty Thor, I quickly lost interest and forgot about the whole thing (although I did end up reading the aftermath when a friend lent me Jane Foster: Valkyrie). But then a different friend brought The War of the Realms to me at work a few weeks ago; I finally gave it a read today.

The War of the Realms is that story of the war finally getting to Midgard.  Earth's mightiest heroes (who are all but gods themselves but in name) join forces with the gods from the other realms that have already been ravaged by Malekith.But Midgard will fall unless Thor can find a way to answer Malekith's challenge once and for all!

 The War of the Realms is really crazy and fun.  Asgardians join forces with the various defenders on Earth, pooling together their strength and ingenuity to fight off Malekith and his allies (giving you things like blind Daredevil operating the Bifrost after Heimdall was himself blinded, or Odin in an Ironman suit!).  I'm glad I finally read this story ark because I really enjoyed it! :)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth

Margaret Atwood's Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was a surprise.  Atwood decided to deliver her 2008 Massey Lecture on debt because it was a topic she was curious about but knew very little.  But rather than talking about debt in a personal finance sense, she takes a very literary look at debt through human history.

Atwood starts by examining the human (and indeed primate) innate sense of fairness.  Debt couldn't exist without this (for who would lend money without it - you would never be paid back).  She then moves into a discussion of how debt has been considered sinful (both for the person in debt and the person lending the money), and how people have gotten around various moral quandaries (such as Christians, who weren't allowed to charge interest amongst themselves, using other religious groups such as Jews to get around this stipulation).  She also goes on to examine the shadow side of debt (and how some debts are moral in nature, and can be satisfied in blood rather than money).  Her third chapter, Debt as Plot, was very interesting: she looked at how culturally the idea of debt has changed; where once it was considered sinful to be frivolously blowing wealth on things, by the time Charles Dickens was writing Scrooge, capitalism had firmly taken root and so it was a sin to be miserly and not spending your money).  

Her final chapter took a bit of an unexpected turn though; she examined what a modern day Scrooge might look like, and tied everything back to the debt humanity's progress now owes Mother Nature (this definitely reminded me of A Short History of Progress...)

Even though the final chapter in some ways felt like a departure from her main topic, I quite enjoyed reading Payback; it is a fairly quick and very interesting read.  I liked Atwood's conversational tone (it seemed rather frivoulous at times, which strangely suited the work as a whole).