Running Commentary 12/21/2020

Running Commentary 12/21/2020

Hello,

Hello,

Friday is Christmas, and as the holiday approaches, I’d like to say that I’m taking next week off from RC, because I don’t want to spend Christmas writing this newsletter.

Anyway…

Watching…

The Mandalorian Chapter 16 released Friday, bringing Season 2 to a close. Here are my notes. SPOILERS

Moff Gideon aboard his cruiser | Photo Credit: The Mandalorian Twitter
  • A lot of people have commented on how the show-makers were able to keep Luke Skywalker’s appearance a secret. I thought it was pretty telegraphed, personally. Season 1 ended with Djarrin seeking out the Jedi. Season 2 featured Ahsoka Tano, but she turned Grogu down as a student. Grogu then reached out to an unknown Jedi on Tython. Now, this doesn’t absolutely mean that Luke Skywalker was that unknown Jedi. It would have been entirely in-line with what we know about the Jedi Purge and its survivors to have, say, Coleman Kcaj come to answer Grogu’s call. But I had my guess who it would be.
  • I was really confused why the Dark Troopers were stored in an airlock until I remembered that’s how they were deployed out from the ship. I’m still unsure why they need to be kept frozen, rather than just turned off.
  • I don’t think the action was, overall, the best of the season, being mostly confined to corridors. But it benefitted from the big fights being mostly melee, rather than gunfights.
  • At this point, the story of The Mandalorian seems about wrapped up. I don’t know what Season 3 will be about. Possibly that “Book of Boba” teased after the credits.
  • I’m gonna have to write the full season review now.

Bird of the Week

I have a tradition of drawing tropical birds for Christmas. It’s odd, I know, but I generally find that tropical birds come in Christmassy colors. This year, I did the Crimson Sunbird, a little red nectar-eater from South and Southeast Asia. These birds are about 11 centimeters long; that’s a little more than 4 inches long, for us Americans, and they eat insects and nectar, much like the hummingbirds of the Americas.

As I always do, I tried to get some information about the name of these birds. Their common English name is pretty straightforward: they’re a sunbird that is a vivid red. In Chinese, they are huang yao taiyang niao 黄腰太阳鸟, the Yellow-Waisted Sunbird (if Google Translate) is to be trusted, which seems a less obvious name so that might be wrong. In Malay, they are Kelicap-Merah Biasa, which (again, according to Google) is “Regular Slick-Red”. In Bengali, they are Sim̐durē mauṭusi সিঁদুরে মৌটুসি, which Google renders “Moutusi in vermilion”.

Their binomial name is Aethopyga siparaja. “Aethopyga” is Greek for “flaming-rumped”, and is the name given to a genus of sunbirds by 19th-century ornithologist Jean Cabanis, the founder of Journal für Ornithologie, the premiere German journal of bird science. “Siparaja”, I’m sorry to say, I have no idea the meaning of. I do know that the name was given to them by a man with the cartoonishly British name Sir Stamford Raffles, who was the founder of colonial Singapore. A 2002 poll by Singapore’s Nature Society named the Crimson Sunbird the island city-state’s national bird.

Warframe

DE had their 150th DevStream this week, which gave a look at Lavos, the latest warframe, as well as the upcoming Corpus expansion coming to railjack and the kingpin system. And before I was even able to get my thoughts on this out to you, Lavos has already arrived, as a reward for Operation Orphix Venom. Now, at time of writing, Lavos is building in my foundry, so I can’t give any thoughts on him until next time. The operation is pretty good. Granted, the event in most recent memory is Operation Scarlett Spear, so maybe I’m too easy on it. Orphix Venom is a bit grindy, but the mission is fun and unique and pretty low on crash-inducing bugs for an event.

The Corpus railjack stuff looks good from the preview, though I must say that, if you’re going to cut a part of the mission from the video for brevity’s sake, perhaps it would be wise to cut it from the game itself, if it’s that dull. The “Corpus Liches”, which I don’t think have gotten a proper name still, are a bit less exciting to me, mostly because I was hoping for upgraded Corpus weapons, as we got with the Grineer kingpins, and I can’t really tell if the briefcase guns will be any good. Hopefully so. The ephemera’s that will be coming as possible bonus rewards all looked really nice, though.

BattleBots

Our lesson in bot design this week is Make Sure Everything is Attached Securely. I’m really not sure what else to say after Gigabyte’s self-righting mechanism just fell off at the beginning of the fight. Not that it mattered much anyway, considering that copperhead was able to break Gigabyte apart later, earning the night’s most decisive victory.

Subzero vs. Jackpot was a mostly unmemorable fight.

Uppercut got the other big win of the night against Gemini, the double bot that had one member punted from the arena and the other blasted to pieces. Uppercut is a really underrated bot that has only lost twice, and one of those losses was to Bite Force.

Like last week, there was a very controversial judge's decision, but unlike last week, I don’t really agree with the way it went. The match was quite close, but Beta didn’t appreciably damage Rotator, and I would say that aggression should apply to attacking with intent to damage, not just shoving. Shoving is controlling, which is its own scoring category. Beta certainly dominated the fight, but they held back from hitting Rotator because they were afraid (rightly so) that any attack would lose them their weapon. They didn’t fight aggressively, they fought defensively.

Valkyrie, which is always a favorite of mine, won a narrow victory over Tantrum. One thing I did notice was that Valkyrie’s v-shaped body made it very easy to push it from behind weapon-first into walls. If I were Cushing and team, I’d be looking into ways to move the weapon from the outside of the tip of the v to the inside.

Most Impressive Rookie of the night goes to Big Dill, which made excellent use of a simple fork weapon against drum-spinner Atom #94.

The main bout of HyperShock vs. Gruff went about as I’d expect. I know I said a few weeks ago “don’t add a flamethrower”, but Gruff didn’t just add a flamethrower, it’s a bot very intentionally built around a flamethrower. It can actually throw heat hot enough and sustained enough to burn out its opponent. It is heavily armored against fuel tank punctures, and even without the flames, it’s a solid shove-bot. Against less-durable bots like HyperShock, it performs quite well.

Wednesday Writs: Win Stupid Prizes in Leonard v Pepsico Edition | Em Carpenter, Ordinary Times

Lawyer and writer Em Carpenter gives a quick and entertaining history of lawsuits surrounding companies being held to hyperbolic advertising, most especially when a thirsty college kid demanded Pepsi buy him a fighter jet.

History of the Jelly Donut — Sufganiyah | Gil Marks, Leite’s Culinaria

This week is Christmas, but the past week saw the conclusion of Hannukah, another late-December holiday with a strong culinary tradition. While the most famous Hannukah meal is latkes, a sort of a fortified hash brown thing, some celebrants prefer sufganiyah, jelly donuts. This excerpt from Gil Marks’ Encyclopedia of Jewish Food gives the history of the food, from its origins in Central Europe to today’s global variations.

All the Answers | Charles Van Doren, The New Yorker

Friday is not only Christmas but was to be the air date of the final episode of Jeopardy to feature the late Alex Trebek as host. Checking just now, I’ve found that scheduling issues surrounding Christmastime special programming have pushed the last week of episodes back into next year. Ah well, this is still what I have lined up for this week.

Jeopardy was the first successful quiz show in some time to hit American airwaves, after the public had been soured on the genre by revelations of cheating by contestants, aided by network execs seeking to maximize ratings with popular winners. Van Doren was one such contestant, who spent four months winning rigged episodes of Twenty-One. For The New Yorker, he recounts his story.

Why Do We Have Christmas Trees? | Amy McKeever, National Geographic

A history of the Christmas tree, including similar traditions found in various cultures.

RIP Jeremy Bulloch