Running Commentary 7/19/2021
I have a complaint to make. the suffix -meter is affixed to the name of quite a few devices: Thermometer, barometer, hydrometer, dynamometer, etc. These words are pronounced differently than the decimal-fractional length units of the metric system: centimeter, millimeter, nanometer, etc. "Micrometer" can mean different things depending on how it's pronounced; a MIKE-roh-MEET-ur is one one-millionth of a meter, whereas a my-CROM-et-ur is a turn-screw gadget used to measure the outer dimension of small things, usually to a precision of MIKE-roh-MEET-urs. There is one exception to this rule: "kilometer". That's usually pronounced kih-LOM-et-ur, to rhyme with the devices, rather than the units, even though it is a unit. It really should be KILL-oh-MEET-ur.
The Bad Batch
- We pick up from last week to conclude this show's first two-parter.
- I wonder if Hera and Kanan ever got to talking and realized the same group of clones helped both of them escape the Empire when they were teens.
- Captain Howzer and his men show that Order 66 has its limitations. The transition from the clone army to the stormtrooper legions has been a big part of this show, and I think this will be an important step in that.
- Crosshair will be tracking the Bad Batch going forward. I'm thinking some big confrontation with him will be the season finale.
- Next episode is called "Infested". Hopefully, our heroes aren't getting involved with Dr. Tengus.
- This past Wednesday saw the finale to what will apparently be merely the first season of Loki. It was, uncharacteristically for an MCU show, a strong finish.
- Kang the Conqueror (never called Kang in the episode, but that's who it is) promises to be the next Thanos-level threat, who will appear across sub-franchises. Jonathan Majors was first announced as cast in the role to serve as the villain of the next Ant-Man film, actually.
- I really hope Majors isn't eating an apple in all his scenes. It's as much the sound mix's fault as his, but I couldn't make out a lot of his lines. Don't talk with your mouth full, kids.
- Overall, this show was the first show to feel like a TV show, not a limited-run miniseries or a movie chopped up into bits. I'm not shocked to see it's getting a second season. I went into Loki unsure what more could be done with the MCU's most featured villain. Quite a lot more, it turns out.
- I still have no idea what happened at the end of episode two with all those pruning charges.
This past Saturday was TennoCon, once again presented online. I was in the TennoLive Relay (that's the free one, because I'm cheap and have most of the good Baro stuff already) in my newbie-inaccessible-yet-newbie-esque Excalibur look, the $500 white t-shirt of FashionFrame. There were some server crashing issues, probably due to everyone re-configuring their Twitch Drops, but it was all sorted out by the time of the big presentation. Then they crashed again, as I understand. Everything worked out okay for me, although my relay instance did empty out at one point. I got all the watch rewards fairly quickly, but there were so many people watching that it seems DE might have gotten overwhelmed there too, and some people still haven't gotten theirs yet. In any case, here are my notes on TennoCon 2021.
Old enemies emerge to wage The New War
- Keaton Talmige (sp) had the best video sent in, though Lucas Schunemann's was pretty great too.
- I always love the sound panels. Sound design is really important in games, but it tends to get less attention than visual design does. It's great that DE shows off the sound team each year.
- Just deciding that lore spoilers were fair game for this TennoCon's presentation allowed the Art Panel to finally dive deep into the design of the central questline, which was really fun to see. Beyond that, it's neat that they were able to get *Warframe'*s original art director, Mike Brennan, back to do some designs for The New War.
- The deluxe skins all looked pretty good. They usually reveal a few at TennoCon, and there's usually at least one I don't like, but I liked all three this year. Volt especially needs a deluxe skin, as base Volt and Proto Volt both look pretty goofy and outdated.
- The next new warframe will be Caliban, the second frame with a Sentient theme and the third named after a Shakespeare character. There's no word about his powers yet, though we know his passive, which appears to be a version of the Adaptation mod that works on the entire squad.
- Nice to see everyone back on the couch again.
- That one guy they've had figuring cross-save out appears to have hit on something. Now, this is something that a lot of other players have wanted really badly for a while, and that I haven't cared about at all because I don't have any games consoles; I just play PC. But...I do have a phone. I probably don't have a phone capable of running Warframe on it, but we'll see. In any case, melding all the different platforms into one is going to be a really big change, not just to the player community (and player economy) but also to the way updates work. They announced it as "In Development" so I'm not expecting anything in the immediate future, but I am excited.
- "The New War" is going to be Warframe's biggest quest to date, and, at least for part of it, we'll be playing as non-Tenno characters, which is what was shown in the gameplay demo. While I'm of course hoping for a great quest, I'm even more curious about how the game will change after we complete it, since the previous cinematic quests have all introduced meta-shifting new mechanics. I doubt we'll retain the ability to play as Grineer, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see. It's looking like "The New War" will be the next major update, with Caliban as the next new frame, but I don't think it will be out for some several months yet.
- Nidus will be the next Prime. He will not be coming with primed versions of his signature weapons, but rather primed versions of some older gear.
Bird of the Week
This week we continue our look at current or prospective Michigan state birds with popular alternative candidate the Kirtland's Warbler.
Kirtland's Warbler is the largest wood-warbler, and the rarest. They nest exclusively in the low branches of young jack pine trees (older pines lose these ground-level branches). The species was first described from specimens found in Ohio, but the Great Lakes lumber boom of the 19th Century drastically reduced their breeding grounds to just the interior northern region of Michigan's Lower Peninsula; still today, the main place they can be seen in the summer is the forests around and to the east of the town of Grayling. They migrate, spending their winters in the Bahamas.
Habitat loss certainly led to a decrease in numbers for what many people call simply the "jack pine bird", though it is not thought that the Kirtland's Warbler was ever especially numerous. The ornithological boom in colonial and early independent America missed this bird, which was first described to science in 1857 by Spencer F. Baird, the first curator of the Smithsonian Institution, based on a specimen shot by Dr. Jared P. Kirtland, a Cleveland physician. The first to find a nest, in 1903, was Norman A Wood, of the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology, who had traveled along the Au Sable River in search of the rare bird. Further knowledge of the bird's nesting habits, specifically their apparent need for young jack pines and their susceptibility to nest parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird, came from the studies of University of Chicago student Nathan F. Leopold (who would go on to infamy as one-half of the Nietzche-inspired duo of child murderers Leopold and Loeb.) In 1951, the Kirtland's Warbler had its entire population censused; [this was the first such census of any songbird](https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/birds/Kirtland/timeline.html#:~:text=1903 – First nest discovered Over a half,at the University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology.). At that time, they numbered roughly 1,000. Through the '50s, '60s, and '70s numerous measures were taken to preserve the bird and its habitat. Today, there are estimated to be roughly 5,000 Kirtland's warblers, nesting in northern Michigan, southern Ontario, and central Wisconsin. The species is no longer considered endangered as of 2019.
The importance of Michigan to the warbler has led to several proposals that it replace the robin as Michigan's state bird, most notably from Kirtland's warbler booster Bill Rapai. My own personal take on that is that, while I get the idea, the Kirtland's warbler is just too rare a sight. Most Michiganders have never and will never see one. Where the robin is hardly unique to the state, it can be seen throughout it. The warbler might make a good city bird of Grayling, but it's not something that can represent Michigan as a whole.
Loons of Mount Desert Island | Jessica, Tim, and Russel Laman, Cornell Lab of Ornithology Channel on YouTube
[VIDEO] A brief nature documentary profiling a family of common loons in Acadia National Park, in Maine. (10 minutes)
Waxing Lyrical: Taking Ear Wax Seriously | John Launer, Postgraduate Medical Journal
Ear wax is overlooked. Or looked away from, maybe would be more correct. In either case, it isn't the focus of a lot of study, despite being critical to keeping our ears healthy.
Eraser Men | Jean-Baptiste Mouttet, trans. Richard Abraham, Rouleur
Putting on the Tour de France poses a special problem. Unlike other sports, the arena of competition cannot be contained and protected from the public. The roads in France are often grafittied with obscene art or political propaganda by people hoping to get something controversial broadcast. That's where les Effaceurs come in, to censor the streets.
The Bank Robbers Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight (Or Do Anything Right, Really) | Paul Brown, Narratively
"They described themselves as hardened villains who had run with America’s most notorious criminals and served time in the country’s toughest prisons. They claimed reputations as violent enforcers and armed robbers — and had the broken noses and gunshot wounds to prove it. Now they were bringing the bullet-spraying American bank robbery to sleepy England, where armed robberies were virtually unknown. But their gangster credentials were about to be severely tested. They had chosen the wrong bank, in the wrong city, at the wrong time, and there would be terrible consequences."