Running Commentary 4/11/2022

Running Commentary 4/11/2022

Moon Knight (Episode 2), BattleBots (Season 6 Championship), Warframe (DevStream 161), Budgerigar

4/11/2022

Hello,

It won’t stop raining.

Anyway...

Watching...

Moon Knight

The second episode brought a lot more of Marc Spector’s side of things. Here are my notes:

Image from Moon Knight Twitter
  • After the first episode I was really worried that the villains were gonna be a weak point, since they seemed like a kind of generic cult. This episode lessened that worry from two directions: first, Arthur Harrow shares a history with Marc/Steven, and is essentially the only other character able to relate to our hero, which makes things interesting; second, Konshu seems like he’ll be a secondary antagonist, which means  the show won’t just be Moon Knight vs. the cult.
  • Again, this show seems like it’s made by someone sick of beat-up-the-goons action scenes. After literally skipping them last episode, this episode has one of the fighters be invisible. It actually makes for something intersting.
  • The fact that Marc has an estranged wife really has me thinking that he’s the real guy, as it were. The original persona of the Marc/Steven body. I’m not familiar enough with the comics to know if that’s true, and, at this point, I’m not looking into them. I understand that the show isn’t strictly following the comics, but I don’t want to spoil any future episodes.

BattleBots

We have our new champion! BattleBots season 6 has concluded, and what a season it was. Any of the bots in the quarter-finals I could easily have seen winning the giant nut. Let’s look at the last night of fights

  • SAWBLAZE v RIPTIDE - Riptide had a really great season, but this fight really showed how much driving is the difference between a good and great bot. Sawblaze was outmatched weapon-wise, but they won by out-maneuvering.
  • COBALT v TANTRUM - Cobalt’s weapon is terrifying but it really is awkwardly placed, and Tantrum just avoided it for the whole fight.
  • HYDRA v BLIP - I could have seen this fight going either way. In the end, I think Blip was doomed by the extra flaps they installed on the front, which seemed to block their ability to flip themselves back upright after getting tossed.
  • MINOTAUR v WITCH DOCTOR - The big controversy of the night, in which Minotaur, having lost one of their two wheels, spent most of the fight desperately trying to prove to their referee that they could still move about the arena, while Witch Doctor spent most of the fight running away from their wildly veering opponent and demanding Minotaur be counted out, apparently on the advice of the other ref. Witch Doctor won by judges’ decision and, while I was rooting for Minotaur, if we’re being completely real here, Minotaur had lost the ability to attack or evade Witch Doctor. Yes, they met a sort of bare minimum standard of operability, but they were dead in the water. If Witch Doctor was being advised not to engage by a referee, then I think they deserved the win.
  • HYDRA v TANTRUM - The small controversy of the night, in which Tantrum won in another judge’s decision. This one seems more clear-cut to me: it was a close fight, but Tantrum did the most damage, matched Hydra for aggression, and kept control of the last minute of the fight. Of course they won.
  • SAWBLAZE v WITCH DOCTOR - Sawblaze was unable to match their performance against Riptide when they went up against Witch Doctor. They got off to a bad start, lost a wheel, and wound up sitting in the middle of the arena, on fire. This was the most decisive fight of the night.
  • TANTRUM v WITCH DOCTOR - Tantrum hit Witch Doctor just right at the start of the fight, and so, even though they lost their weapon spin later, Witch Doctor wound up high-centered in the corner. Tantrum was not really a bot I’d have picked as a likely champion, but you can’t deny their performance this year. They had a completely undefeated season. Congratulations to the 2021 champion.

And that’s it. No YouTube extras this week.

Playing...

Warframe

The next big update, “Angels of the Zariman”, now has a release date: April 27th, two weeks from this Wednesday. We got a special mid-month DevStream previewing the next new frame and the gameplay changes coming with that update.

The new frame is Gyre, who will be the second electric-themed frame, after Volt. Where Volt is a Zeus-like lightning-thrower, Gyre will be more of an early-20th-century eclectic gizmo wielder. Her first two abilities will essentially be electric grenades, the first of which will deal damage and the second of which will implode and pull enemies together. The third ability is a crit and energy regen buff that operates on a resettable cooldown. The fourth ability is an electric aura that damages nearby enemies passively; it seems something like Equinox’s Maim. All these abilities seem useful, although it’ll matter exactly how much damage they deal and if they can out-compete a well-put-together weapons loadout. One interesting thing is that her abilities will be able to critical hit, and that crit chance will go up on enemies afflicted with electric procs. I’m looking forward to playing Gyre more than any frame since Lavos.

We didn’t see anything new of the Zariman quest or the new NPC faction that will be a part of that. We did see another of the new missions, Void Cascade. Like the Orphix missions, this will require the use of the operator to complete objectives. It looked like it’ll be fun. Besides a reward of focus points, it’s still unclear what players will get for completing the new missions.

And probably the biggest change coming on the 27th is the near-total rework of operator gameplay. This was talked about in broad strokes in the last DevStream; this time we got a look at the abilities that each Focus school will feature. There’s a Dev Workshop covering the details, although nothing is final until release, apparently. (Knowing Warframe, nothing is final after release, either.) What I will say is that I barely touch operator mode as the game sits now. Energizing Dash is useful, and sometimes when I’m playing a Spy mission and I didn’t equip my Loki, I use the operator for stealth, but besides those times the game forces me, I seldom tap 5. From what I’ve seen described of these reworks, I think that will change. I’ll have to wait for the update to try things out.

Budgerigar.png

Bird of the Week

This week we’re looking at Australia’s most iconic bird. No, the other most iconic Australian bird. The budgerigar is a species of parakeet widely kept as pets; only domestic dogs and cats are more popular species in the pet market. In the U.S., they’re often simply called parakeets. That’s what I’ve always called them, but, to avoid confusion with the other hundred-some species of parakeet, and to keep in line with eBird’s entry on the species, I’ll be referring to them by their Australian name.

So just what is a parakeet, anyway? It’s not really a term with a hard-and-fast definition, but “parakeet” typically refers to small, long-tailed parrots that feed on seeds. The various parakeets are not genetically more closely related to each other than they are to other parrots on the whole. The budgerigar specifically is most closely related to the fig parrots and the nectar-eating lories.

Budgerigars live throughout continental Australia, especially in the remote, arid “outback” regions. They are able to survive in desert conditions by continually moving from region to region, keeping near to water and away from severe heat. They principally eat grass seeds, including from turfgrass and cereal crops when they come near human-dominated areas. Budgerigars live in flocks, whose numbers vary depending on how pleasant a place is for them to live. Since the introduction of European starlings and house sparrows to Australia, budgerigars have faced tough competition for nesting sites and food, though the species is not considered threatened (due to their wide range and large captive population.)

Budgerigars have been kept as pets for some two hundred years; pet budgerigars are larger than their wild ancestors, and have been bred to exhibit a range of colors, from natural-looking green to vivid yellow to pale blue and white. Like many other parrots Budgerigars can be trained to mimic human speech. In certain areas of the world, escaped pets have established feral populations.

The name “budgerigar” has a muddy origin. You may have noted that the word seems similar to another Australian word: didgeridoo. That instrument was invented and named by Aborigines from the north of the continent, and it’s likely that “budgerigar” derives from an Aboriginal name for the bird, either directly or by way of the Australian English slang phrase “budgery gar”, meaning “good cockatoo” or more loosely “good bird”, which might be a nod to budgerigars serving as a sign of hospitable land in the harsh Australian inland. “Parakeet” derives from “paroquet”, the French word for “parrot”, which means “little priest” (not from the French word for “parakeet”, which is “perruche”.) John Gould included the budgerigar in his first record of all Australian birds, giving them the name Melopsittacus undulatus, which is still used by ornithologists today. Melopsittacus is a genus which only contains this one species, and the name means “melodious parrot”. “Undulatus” refers to the undulating stripes on the birds’ heads and necks.

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Plover's Quarrel | Fatima Syed, The Narwhal

“After 30 years, the endangered piping plover returned to nest on Sauble Beach. But the economy of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula in Ontario depends on tourists who like smooth, pristine sand, not the hills and vegetation plovers need to nest in.”

Cloning Conundrum | Lawrence Lenhart, High Country News

“A black-footed ferret obsessive, I’ve spent a decade in thrall to the species. I’ve spotlit the sage steppe for their eyeshine and begged my way into biosecure breeding facilities. It’s long been my pleasure to gaze on their Mickey Mouse ears, bandit mask, champagne fur and sooty feet. I contacted Oliver Ryder, director of conservation genetics at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, to get the scoop on BFF cloning.”

Our Favorite Female Bird Shots From the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards | Audubon

The general rule of birds is that the males are the pretty ones, so they get most of the attention from cameras. But that’s not to say female birds can’t star in nice photos, as this all-girl collection from Audubon’s annual avian photo contest proves.

The Truth | Stanisław Lem, trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones, The MIT Press Reader

[FICTION] “Lem's 1964 story, published in English for the first time, tells the tale of a scientist in an insane asylum theorizing that the sun is alive.”

See the full archive of curations on Notion