Running Commentary 2/1/2021

Running Commentary 2/1/2021

Hello,

Hello,

I’d like to start out by addressing the IRS: I appreciate your attempts to simplify personal tax forms. That said, taking the means of determining taxes out of the form and putting it in the form instructions on your website does not actually make filing taxes easier. Yes, it gets the 1040 page count down to 2 instead of the about 5 it needs, but that’s not the same thing as simplifying the form; that’s just hiding half of it.

Anyway…

Watching…

WandaVision

Episode 4 of WandaVision took a break from the march through the history of television, so I’m afraid there’s no Elizabeth Olson in hilarious huge curly hair just yet. *SPOILERS*

S.W.O.R.D. agent Monica Rambeau and F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo | Photo Credit: WandaVision Twitter
  • Well, we know what the MCU’s version of S.W.O.R.D. is now. I had thought it was Nick Fury’s new version of S.H.I.E.L.D. that he was running from space in Spider-Man: Far From Home, but, apparently, it already existed, all through the earlier MCU stories, having been founded by Captain Marvel’s friend Maria Rambeau.
  • Also, although we knew this due to Teyonah Paris’s credit, this episode confirms within the show that “Geraldine” from the past couple of episodes is Monica Rambeau, Maria’s daughter.
  • Monica’s boss is not a character from the comics, but he is a middle-aged white guy in a suit, which, based on the last dozen years worth of MCU content, gives him 2:1 odds of being a secret villain.
  • Even though a few of our questions have been answered by this episode, there’s still a good bit of mystery surrounding things.

BattleBots

Huge finally had a much-needed win against Kraken. Technically, it was a judge’s decision, though in the last seconds I did see Huge take Kraken’s battery pack, it looked like, and leave Kraken stranded. Kraken gave a good fight, but was outmaneuvered for much of the fight, and out-struck by Huge’s bar. I hope to see both bots in the tournament.

We had a battle of the amphibians between Ribbot and Axolotl. Ribbot took a few more shots than were strictly necessary, almost throwing their bot out of the box on the last hit. That would have probably served them right.

Big Dill proved incredibly resilient against Rotator’s highly destructive weapon, but it wasn’t enough. Eventually, it lost a tire, and that was enough to strand it. That’s our bot design tip of the week: Shield your wheels if at all possible. As with Huge, Rotator deserves better than its win record this year. I hope to see them in the tournament as well.

Big upset as Jackpot defeated Lock-Jaw. Jackpot is not the best bot, but it hits really hard. Lock-Jaw has always depended on agile driving over pure tanking ability, and it couldn’t take the first hit, much less the later ones, without breaking something important.

Chronos finally showed up in a televised match, unfortunately being matched up against Bloodsport, which is a good bot where Chronos generally is not. Both bots performed to expectations, though I will say that Chronos held up better than some other bots would have.

Fusion took a quick win against War?EZ!, which was really no surprise. Neither bot seemed very impressive to me, honestly.

Skorpios defeated Tombstone, taking one of its wheels (see design tip above). Tombstone is 1–2 this year, which is some real underperformance. I think Tombstone will be in the tournament, but I wonder if they aren’t this year what Bronco was last year: a good bot that hasn’t kept ahead of the design curve.

Bird of the Week

In anticipation of the Superbowl, we have a superb owl. That’s an old joke, but I’m not a football fan so it’s the most acknowledgment of the Superbowl you’re going to get.

The Barn Owl is a nocturnal raptor found throughout the world; it has the widest range of any non-sea bird. They prey on rodents and other small animals, and are often kept by falconers.

Barn Owls are also known by many common names, including “ghost owl”, “monkey-faced owl”, “hobgoblin owl”, “cave owl”, and “white owl”. Generally, they are named for either their distinctive appearance or their habitat. “Barn owl” comes from their tendency to hang around sites of crop storage, which attract prey. Their binomial is “Tyto alba”, which comes from the Greek imitation of an owl’s hooting call, and the Latin word for “white”.

Barn owls are one of those animals I’ve found many people think are bigger than they actually are. They’re roughly the size of a crow, maybe a bit bigger, maybe a bit smaller, depending on the sub-species.

A barn owl (Tyto alba) just about to pose on the falconer’s hand | Photo Credit: Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Warframe

We had a DevStream this week. Apparently, DE will be doing these monthly from now on, rather than somewhat-bi-weekly. A lot was covered, including the next warframe, the next prime access, upcoming railjack updates, new deluxe skins, and a rework to Zephyr.

  • The next warframe will be called Sevagoth, but you might recognize it by the name Wraithe. This was a concept from artist Liger Inuzuka, back before they were hired by DE. I’m guessing the name change is to avoid confusion with the wraith-series weapons. The power set shown is a bit different from the set Liger described, but, generally, the theme and playstyle described in the concept seem the same. How good a frame Sevagoth is will be a function of how much damage it deals, since a lot of its powers seem to be AoE attacks.
  • The next prime is Octavia, who will release with prime versions of the Tenora and Pandero, as is fitting. I think Octavia Prime looks nice. I know that Octavia is a good frame, but I’ve always found her a bit complicated to play, so I haven’t used her much. Maybe I’ll give her another chance with her prime.
  • We didn’t see any new gameplay for railjack, but we were told some things. The update with Sevagoth (and apparently another new frame, as yet un-named and undescribed) will also feature the Corpus railjack expansion and a second major railjack revision. Scott MacGregor described it as being a deeper integration with core warframe, which will feature new game modes where the Railjack combat leads into boarding a ship for a regular mission, which, as I mentioned in my Warframe review, is what Steve Sinclair always wanted Warframe to be.
  • Liger Inuzuka made a second appearance with the Zephyr Deluxe concept. We still haven’t seen it rendered in-game, but we now see that there will be a landing craft skin, an operator outfit, and a UI theme, which will be black, white, and orange so of course I’ll need to get that. I need to farm some plat. (Actually, here’s my warframe.market profile. See if there’s something you want.)
    There were also deluxe skins previewed for Ember and Revenant, both from the same artist in the same general style. It almost seemed like they’ll be released as a bundle. There’s a sun-and-moon theme to them, which is a big motif in Warframe.
  • With her deluxe, Zephyr will be getting a slight rework. Mostly, she’ll be a little more airborne, in-line with frames like Hildryn and Titania, rather than just floaty. She’ll also get better damage while in the air. I think this could be good.
  • When ghoul saw, DE? DE has answered: SoonTM. They’re working on it.
  • For Valentine’s Day, they’ll be doing a mini-event in Fortuna, like they did on Deimos for Halloween. The big reward seems to be some big angel wings, which will probably look neat on some frames, but I worry they’ll block a lot of the screen when actually playing.
  • There were some changes to dojos that I don’t care about.

Something Fishy | Harry Turtledove, Tor.com

[FICTION] The author of award-winning alternate history about super-tech confederates and aliens invading World War II delivers a look at a world where the State of Jefferson exists, and its governor is a Sasquatch. The fifth story in this world, but accessible to a new audience.

The Surprising Science Behind Bananas, the World’s Most Popular Fruit | National Geographic

Infographic about bananas: their history, cultivation, and trade.

Why are products for older people so ugly? | Andy Wright, MIT Technology Review

A look at companies producing for the senior citizen market and trying to get away from the chunky, beige designs associated with their products by asking their customers what they want.

The Icarus Race: Into the Wild With a Fan on Your Back | Michael Behar, Air & Space Magazine

The story of the world’s longest paramotoring race, wherein people riding no more than a parachute over their head and a fan on their back fly over the Rockies.

The Secret Life of the Aluminum Can, a Feat of Engineering | Jonathan Waldman, WIRED

In this excerpt from his book Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman examines the aluminum can, that container for food and drink that, if it were simply aluminum, would decay within days of holding the corrosive, chemically violent things we ingest. Read to learn all about the layers of carefully formulated and laminated linings that keep the can shelf-stable.