I was sick with a stomach bug a couple of weeks ago and I still have a pretty bad cough. I always seem to get a bad cough, no matter what I come down with. Thankfully this is a written newsletter and not some sort of podcast, so it doesn't affect it that I have a cough.
The third episode is a little shorter than the first two, but there was still a lot that happened. Here are my notes:
- I'm really liking this show so far. I know that there've been some complaints that it's talky and a little light on action, and that's certainly true, I a) think the action is still coming in the finale, and b) have found the dialog to be better than Marvel average. During scenes of Fury talking with Telos, or Rhodey, or whoever, I'm not bored, and I'm not annoyed; I'm drawn into the scene. I'm trying to figure out what's going on.
- I'm not at all convinced that G'iah is actually dead, but I do expect that the show will play out as if she's dead for at least the next episode.
- Speaking of twists I expect in the series, I think Gravik is being set up, I think someone out there doesn't want Skrulls on Earth and is using Gravik's movement to force them out into the open and into conflict with humanity. If I were to speculate really wildly, I'd say that person was Victor von Doom, who's hoping to use a war against the Skrulls to come to power. But it probably has more to do with the Thunderbolts if anyone.
- Is Rhodey a Skrull? This episode re-iterated that no one calls Fury "Nick", as Rhodey did in the last episode. (That actually isn't a hard rule; Maria Hill and Steve Rogers both called Fury "Nick" in other scripts. Here, though, that seems to be the rule.) And that sounded a bit like Rhodey's voice on the phone with Varra. If he is a Skrull, how long has he been one? The funniest answer is of course that he's been a Skrull since the events of Iron Man 2, and that he's just a very incompetent shape-shifter trying his best to look like Terrence Howard.
- The submarine missile launch sequence was good and tense but I found the resolution a little silly. Using loved ones' names as a password is cliché and not really realistic anymore. And besides that, wouldn't missile-launch passwords be assigned by higher command, not chosen by the people who use them?
Star Wars: Visions
British claymation house Aardman (makers of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and Shaun the Sheep) produced the fourth entry in Visions Volume 2, "I Am Your Mother". Here are my notes:
- This was a cute little short. Aardman's characteristic animation style managed to look both very Aardman and very Star Wars. The story was not the most original, but it's actually something Star Wars doesn't have a lot of. Ordinary, relatable parent-child dynamics aren't a common theme in Star Wars, which tends to be about orphans and people raised in temples.
- Wedge Antilles is the first character from the films to show up in a Visions short. There were also a lot more direct references and Easter eggs than most Visions shorts have.
- It's a bit odd to see a British animation house given a Visions short, as Visions is meant to be a way to let other countries and cultures give their take on Star Wars, and Star Wars is already almost as British as it is American.
I have farmed and built the latest warframe, Kullervo. I've played with him a bit, and I have to say, this 'frame is a new favorite, but I think there are some issues that are gonna keep him from becoming one of the game's top 'frames if they aren't addressed somehow. I think I might invest some forma into him to get just the right build, but here are my initial thoughts:
Kullervo is most at home deep in a group of enemies. That's where his abilities really shine. His 1 is a good heavy-unit deleter that helps get him into the fray quickly. His 2 is a healing ability that deals AoE damage in his immediate area, but that depends on having a bunch of enemies in that area. His 3 is similar to Wisps; it makes enemies share taken damage, functionally turning all of his attacks into AoE attacks. His 4 deals slash damage to surrounding enemies and counts toward his melee combo meter. All in all, these aren't bad abilities. He's a largely damage-dealing frame, and he deals damage effectively. But he's a bit squishy, in a weird way. As a showcase for the re-vamped overguard system, Kullvero has no shields. Instead, his 2 is a powerful heal that, when cast against a good number of enemies, generates overguard. But overguard is not as good as shields, and furthermore, unlike other overguard-generating powers, Kullervo's overguard is capped. As of a recent hotfix, it's capped a lot higher than on release, but still it's not comparable to Rhino's Iron Skin in terms of boosting survivability. Especially in high-level missions, you're going to have to monitor your health and be sure to hit 2 if it starts to get low, and you're going to have to hit 2 pretty often. And due to how his 2 works you're going to be obliged to heal while in the middle of a mob of enemies. He's not squishy the way Banshee or Nyx is, but he can die pretty quick if you're not careful.
So now let's talk build. Kullervo wants strength and range. Strength really boosts his survivability by raising the heal rate and the overguard cap of his 2, while rendering all his damage much higher. And range also boosts survivability and damage by increasing the number of enemies affected by his abilities. Now, to get strength and range real high like we want, we're going to have to sacrifice something. I sacrificed efficiency. With Arcane Energize and Hunter Adrenaline, I'm able to generate energy pretty quickly, especially if he's losing health and needs his 2. I haven't forma-ed my Kullervo yet; once I have, I hope to up his energy capacity with Primed Flow. I think that would make him just about perfect for my play style, which, I must admit, isn't the most strategic. I tend to just run in and start slashing, and that's what Kullervo's good at.
Bird of the Week
Vultures are generally not regarded for their beauty. Most people dislike the birds and even those who don’t generally appreciate their role in cleaning up carcasses more than their looks. But there is one vulture that, while still not exactly among the prettiest of birds, is certainly the prettiest of its kind: the King Vulture.
Found in Central and South America, the king vulture is the largest of the New World vultures (of the order Cathartiformes) aside from the two species of condor. Their feathers are mostly white, with black flight and tail feathers and a dark, fluffy collar around their bare necks. Mature adults sport very colorful heads (which are, like those of many vultures, bald, for cleanliness' sake), featuring yellow, red, and purple patches of skin, with red beaks with a fleshy “caruncle” growing just above it. The purpose of these bright colors is not well understood, though older vultures are more colorful than younger vultures, so it may be that the vibrant colors signal higher social status.
King vultures are among the only vultures to live primarily in forest. They feed on the carcasses of mid-to-large animals, They seem to like their food chewy, as they show a strong preference for skin and tendons. While their large size gives them priority over other vultures in feeding on new carcasses, this preference for connective tissue makes the carcass easier for other vultures to eat once the king vultures leave. The king vulture thus has a key role in distributing food to other scavengers.
The king vulture gets its English common name from its entry in A Natural History of Uncommon Birds, an illustrated encyclopedia of newly-discovered bird species published in 1743 by the English draughtsman and naturalist George Edwards. While I’m not aware of any relation between George Edwards and myself, he is my forebear in another sense: his work popularized biological illustration and set many of its traditions. Edwards described the bird as “the King of the Vultures”, but when Carolus Linnaeus included the bird (based off Edwards’s description) in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae, he honored it even more, naming it Vultur papa, or the “Pope Vulture”. Apparently, he thought that a bird looking like an old man in white robes was more papal than regal. The French zoologist and anatomist André M. C. Duméril later reclassified the king vulture into a new genus, Sarcoramphus, whose name means “fleshy-beaked”. Ancient Mesoamericans called it “cozcacuauhtli”, which roughly means “collared raptor”, though the Mayans (who lived in the Yucatán Peninsula) may have also given the vulture the title of “king”; they believed that the bird carried messages between themselves and their gods.
Accidental Therapists | Eric Boodman, STAT
“In an age where we think more about software bugs than living ones, public entomologists like Ridge may be more important than ever, helping us make sense of the un-digital world. Ridge has seen it all. She has helped gardeners identify the scourges of their crops, she’s guided homeowners through the treacherous terrain of bedbug control, and she’s helped police investigate a murder by examining the maggots found writhing in the victim’s flesh. But her most difficult cases haven’t involved spiders or bedbugs or chiggers or mites. Instead, the hardest bugs she has to deal with are the ones that aren’t really there.”
How the Sainsbury's Design Studio Packaged a Nation’s Dreams | Ruby Tandoh, Vittles
A look at the design of food packaging made for the store-brand offerings of a British supermarket during the mid-20th Century. This was the time when groceries were becoming more-and-more self-service when customers were first browsing shelves and picking things out from them for themselves. Sainsbury’s opted for a simplified, block-color look inspired by Bauhaus aesthetics, which gave their groceries a look something more like those of office supplies.
Interview with Ken Doyle, Safecracker | Suzanne Yeagley, McSweeney’s
Part of McSweeney’s “INTERVIEWS WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE INTERESTING OR UNUSUAL JOBS”. White-hat safecrackers actually have rather different skill sets from burglars, and hiring one is probably the best way inside a safe. People get locked inside bank vaults more often than is generally admitted.
Fearfully Made | Jamie Foreman, DUST
[FICTION] [VIDEO] "When Arthur’s wife, Maggie, is taken into a nursing home, his daughter buys him a care robot. Frustrated by his lack of independence, Arthur is no fan of his new 'carer', but things take a darker turn when she begins to block his attempts to call Maggie. Desperate to make contact and feeling like a prisoner in his own home, Arthur plans to escape to the nursing home to be with Maggie again."
See the full archive of curations on Notion