Running Commentary 10/25/2021

Running Commentary 10/25/2021

Hello,

I was talking with someone the other day about how there are too many owl mascots. Not just in sports, although there are a lot of owls emblazoned on college jerseys. Just, in general. There's the America's Best Opticians owl, the Xyzal antihistamine medication owl, and, going back a bit, the Tootsie-Pop owl (whose classic ad has been running again lately). Hootsuite, Duolingo, and Tripadvisor all have owls. They all start to blur together. Mascots and logos should stand out. Having an owl as a mascot is like having Shaquille O'Neal as a pitch man.

Anyway...

Watching...

Star Wars: Visions

This week, we're taking a look at Production IG's "The Ninth Jedi"

Still from StarWars.com
  • I'd say this one, on balance, is even better than "The Village Bride". While that one had a bit better writing and was a complete story, this one had much better animation and realized its vision of Star Wars just as well.
  • The music here was the most Williams-esque so far.
  • Add Kimiko Glenn, Simu Liu, and Masi Oka (who's worked in Star Wars before, but in special effects) to the List
  • This is the first of these shorts after which I really wanted to see more of. Maybe this one will get a book too.

Playing...

Warframe

There's not been a lot of new development in the game overall; there was the Halloween event, which I participated in just enough to earn the dragon-wing cosmetic, which works really well on Nidus. My main thing at the moment is that I'm stuck on the MR23 test. (That's the one where you have to chase the spots on the ground while enemies shoot at you.) The Mastery Rank tests need reform, I think. There's a disconnect between the play of the game, which I'm pretty good at by now, and the play of a lot of the tests, most especially the one for MR23. Warframe is a game with a lot of running and a lot of fighting, yes, but precision running generally comes as separate from high-intensity fighting. Nothing about the regular gameplay really prepares a player for the MR23 test. That, and the fact that a player only gets one attempt to pass a day means that I've been stalled at MR22 for some time now.

Common Murre.png

Bird of the Week

After a run of birds I'd seen recently, we're once again striking out into far-flung lands for this week's bird. The Common Murre is a seabird found around the Arctic regions, with certain subspecies found as far south as Japan and California. They are a sort of auk, a member of the family of "flying penguins" found throughout northern seas. They are not actually much like penguins, despite their similar tuxedoed appearance and taste for icy waters. Most notably, auks can fly as well as they can swim (though their weak legs make walking difficult compared to most birds.) The common murre, specifically, is a rather large auk, with adults reaching a size slightly smaller than that of a typical crow.

Common murres, like many species with a wide geographic distribution, can vary in appearance with location. Those further north tend to be a darker color than those further south. Those that live in the Atlantic have roughly even odds of exhibiting a "bridled" appearance, with a white marking around their eye and trailing back across their head, making them look a bit like they're wearing eyeglasses. (I've drawn a bridled murre.) Other common murres simply have a plain dark head in their breeding plumage. In the non-breeding season, the white of their fronts travels up their throats in onto their cheeks. Male and female murres are not visually distinguished.

These birds nest in large colonies densely packed on the sides of cliffs. I say "nest" but they don't actually build nests. They lay their eggs on bare rock. Murre eggs are relatively long and pointed; it's speculated that their strange shape keeps them from rolling off ledges, though the theory isn't accepted conclusively.

Common murres go by a few different names. In the U.K. they are called "common guillemots", with "guillemot" being a name for several auks deriving from the French form of the name "William, which derives from the Germanic "Wilhelm", meaning "determined protector" ("wil-" being the root of "will", one's determination or desire for something, and "-helm" being the root of "helmet", a protective item.) Since murres are not known as being especially protective, I think that their being named "William" in French by the British is just some sort of joke whose origin has been lost. In the U.S., they're often called "thin-billed murres" to distinguish them from their "thick-billed" cousins. "Murre" is probably an onomatopoeic imitation of the bird's call. To science, they are Uria aalge. "Uria" was named after an unknown waterbird mentioned in classical Greek texts by Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a Frenchman who would go on to help develop the metric system. "Aalge" is the Dutch form of the word "auk".

See the full archive of birds on Notion

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The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill | Megan Molteni, WIRED

An investigation into the arbitrary and, according to Molteni, inaccurate dividing line between airborne and not airborne disease, made immediately relevant by recent events.

One Man’s Pest | Sam Schramski, Guernica

A report from Tefé, a town in the interior of Brasil swarming with black vultures. Like many Amazon towns, Tefé struggles with waste management. The vultures, though ugly and prone to colliding with jet engines, are many people's best hope of keeping their home clean

The Lost History of the Electric Car | Tom Standage, The Guardian

Excepted from Standage's book A Brief History of Motion, this is a look at the electric car, which, despite a seemingly recent appearance on the market, are as old as the automobile itself. I once saw an electric car a century older than I am at the Henry Ford Museum, where I also saw Clara Ford's personal vehicle, not one of her husband's famous Model Ts, but a battery-powered buggy from Detroit Electric. It seems that not only is the electric car older than most people think, but so is it's odd feminine connotation.

Farewell, Doraemon | A Que, translated by Emily Jin and Ken Liu, Clarkesworld Magazine

[FICTION] A novella about a man returning to his home village in China, where a chest full of cartoons stirs up childhood memories of a lonely girl and a strange stretch of river. At over 20,000 words, you'll need to make time for this one, though it'll be time well spent.

See the full archive of curations on Notion