Running Commentary 1/17/2022
Microsoft has put out an update to Office that changes the look to more closely align with Windows 11. Personally, I think the look of Windows peaked with Windows 8. Windows overall didn’t, of course. Windows 8 was a confused mess to use, but it sure looked nice.
The Book of Boba Fett
- This episode I’d rank a bit higher than Chapter 1 but well below Chapter 2.
- Highlights of the episode include the fight with Black Krrsantan and the desertscape shots from the flashback. Krrsantan is a good reminder that Wookiees are actually pretty terrifying, and that we’ve mostly seen a relatively friendly one.
- Lowlight of the episode: that chase scene. This was not the worst chase scene in Star Wars; that will hopefully forever be the pursuit of the Resistance fleet in The Last Jedi. But this was pretty bad. Two criticisms have emerged since the episode premiered. The first was that the cyber-greasers’ speeders looked silly. They do. They also look like something George Lucas would come up with. My guess is that the designs came from someone trying to think like Lucas rather than Lucas himself, but that can be hard to tell. In any case, I think they're meant to look gaudy and toy-like in-universe, and I didn’t really mind them so much as I did problem #2: the chase was really slow. At the fastest, vehicles were moving at maybe 30 mph; I don’t know how the majordomo’s speeder even built up the momentum to crash through all those fruit carts. And it’s played straight. There exists a hypothetical version of this scene where it works, as comedy: the mayor’s majordomo flees, but, not being a skilled getaway driver, gets caught up in traffic. The cyber-greasers, having built their speeders for looks, not performance, still struggle to keep up, weaving through shortcuts steadily as the majordomo escapes in fits and starts. Eventually, Boba Fett decides it would be faster to handle things himself, and he flies off on his jetpack. But that’s not what we got here.
- In the lead-up to this show’s premiere, the prevailing rumor was that the main antagonist of the series would be Qi’ra. I dismissed this initially after seeing the first couple of episodes, but now, I think she might show up by the end. The Twins mention that Tatooine had been given to another syndicate, apparently the Pykes. Fett asks who gave the world to the Pykes, and doesn’t get an answer. Who could do such a thing? During the Clone Wars, the Pykes were a part of the Shadow Collective, a super-syndicate led by Maul, alongside other syndicates, including the Hutts. After the war, Maul’s obsession with revenge against Obi-Wan Kenobi led him away from the Shadow Collective, the leadership of which fell to Crimson Dawn, led by Qi’ra. If anyone could have handed the Pykes Tatooine, it would be Qi’ra.
- The appearance of the instantly recognizable Danny Trejo reminded me that I’ve forgotten to add people to the List these past few weeks. So, let’s add Trejo, along with Jennifer Beals and Matt Berry.
Another great line-up this week, featuring some fan-favorite bots and some promising newcomers
- YETI v MADCATTER - The night started out with a match between two of the most aggressive bots in the sport. Yeti’s re-design has, so far, not paid off, as they took about as bad a beating as I’ve ever seen them take.
- DEFENDER v RIBBOT - The meta-defying control bot Defender suffered a particularly galling loss to the quintessentially-meta Ribbot. Going into the current BattleBots field without a damage-dealing weapon is a gutsy move; as we’ve seen in the case of duck, it helps to be incredibly durable. Defender doesn’t seem to be either.
- HIJINX v MAMMOTH - Going even further afield from the meta, we have the debut of Mammoth’s re-designed weapon, which is less flexible through its plane of motion than its older weapon. It’s always tough to say whether Mammoth will win. This time, it was able to avoid Hijinx’s spinner long enough to get a good shot in, which was enough to knock off one of Hijinx’s wheels, which, given that Hijinx only has the two wheels, was enough to win by knockout.
- KRAKEN v ROTATOR - Kraken arrived this year with a new set of teeth, and quickly got them knocked out by what’s probably still the most destructive bot in the competition. Still, it managed to go the full three minutes. Given that it was a judges decision, and given that it was Rotator’s first fight of the season, I had reason to think Kraken might win anyway. But no. Rotator breaks two curses at once.
- RUSTY v BLIP - There is a new Rusty out there, but it apparently couldn’t get built in time for this season. The old Rusty lost to Blip, captained by former Tantrum captain Aren Hill. Like Tantrum, Blip is a new spin on an established design strategy. Where Tantrum is a drum spinner able to keep its weapon spun up while in contact with its opponent, Blip is a flipper built into a solid, compact body. Its flywheel-driven flipper can fit into a tight square, while other flippers like Bronco, Subzero, and Hydra have to be long to accommodate their pistons. Blip is my rookie to watch this year.
- TANTRUM v MALICE - Speaking of Tantrun, it was in fine form against Malice. After being set up on its back twice last season, Malice now sports a little tail to keep that from happening. Tantrum was able to hang Malice by that tail from the arena wall. Sometimes you just can’t win.
- BLOODSPORT v WHIPLASH - The main event was a good one, showcasing both Whiplash’s strength (Matt Vasquez’s driving) and Bloodsport’s weakness (a weapon that tends to lose power by the end of a match). Vasquez called how the fight would end beforehand. Anyone can plan a fight, but it’s really something to be able to execute that plan.
And once again, we have the extra fight, between Subzero and Shatter:
Bird of the Week
We’ve had a lot of birds featured in this space, but we’ve never had any storks. Now, we have one. The saddle-billed stork is found throughout open regions of sub-Saharan Africa. They are large, non-flocking birds that live in marshes, where they eat various aquatic creatures; they are especially fond of catfish. Storks are morphologically similar to herons, though they have stouter bills, straighter, non-folding necks, and are generally more active while hunting.
The saddlebill is closely related to the black-necked stork of Asia and Australia (which is all black-and-white) and somewhat related to the jabiru of South America. (Saddle-billed storks are sometimes, incorrectly, identified as jabirus.) Males have small yellow wattles on their chins, and have darker eyes than females. Males are visibly larger.
The ancient Egyptians used a depiction of the saddle-billed stork in their alphabet, to represent a “b-” sound. It is thus believed that the stork’s range once extended further north along the Nile than it does today.
“Saddle-billed” refers to the fleshy yellow frontal shield present at the base of their bill. The English naturalist George Kearsley Shaw (who first described the platypus to science) gave them the genus name Ephippiorhynchus, which means “saddle-billed” in Greek, and the species name senegalensis, meaning “of Senegal”, though the bird is found beyond Senegal.
Redesigning the Banana | Frank Swain, Grow
Bananas, as they are found in grocery stores, are the sterile fruits of plants grown from cuttings of a few prized, mutant plants. Their genetic identicality leaves them especially susceptible to disease. Half a century ago, the dominant variety of banana, the Gros Michel, was wiped out by a fungal plague. Today, a similar disease threatens the Cavendish banana, which has replaced the Gros Michel. Rather than abandon another breed, scientists hope to use modern tools to introduce genetic resistance to the Cavendish.
The Obsessive Life and Mysterious Death of the Fisherman Who Discovered The Loch Ness Monster | Paul Brown, Narratively
The story of Alexander Gray, a Scottish fisherman who made the first modern report of a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. Many others would flock to the lake, one group even going so far as to stage a fake photograph, and Gray’s sighting was quickly overshadowed. Gray never gave up hope of catching the creature; he died on one such outing, his boat having been badly damaged and capsized, most likely by a storm.
The lasting worth of 'worthless' books | Theodore Dalrymple, Standpoint
Art has meaning. It might be a clever meaning, freshly stated, or it might be a thoughtless cliché, but art has meaning. To illustrate the point, a high-brow critic makes an exercise of reviewing a randomly-chosen book found in a second-hand shop. He does not find a masterpiece, but he finds meaning.
Our Side of the Door | Kodiak Julian, Lightspeed Magazine
[FICTION] A short sketch of a story about tales of children taking portals to other worlds.
See the full archive of curations on Notion