Running Commentary 7/9/2024
9 min read

Running Commentary 7/9/2024

The Acolyte (E6), Warframe (Jade), Eastern Bluebird (re-write)


Just a heads up that it's second-brood season for red-winged blackbirds right now, which means that if you were getting menaced by a blackbird back in May, he'll be back at it again now. Ask me how I know.



Still from

The Acolyte

  • Kind of a slower episode, expanding on Qimir's libertine philosophy hinted at last week, and mostly just stringing Mae and Sol's story along for the episode. The one interesting thing there is that at least some Jedi suspect Sol killed the others, which would be a way to keep the Sith secret, if Qimir really is a Sith.
  • Qimir seems to be trying to recruit Osha to his cause quite a bit differently than he did Mae, trying to forge a personal bond rather than working through a proxy that's also himself...for security reasons, I think. Or maybe he just realizes that plan was dumb, I dunno.
  • I expect this coming episode will be another flashback, giving a better view at what happened on Brendok, then we'll have the finale after that. I'm a bit perplexed where this episode's ending was meant to be going, but I don't think we'll get an immediate follow-up from that in the next episode.



I have Jade, and have played her a fair bit over the past week. She's pretty good, definitely worth getting even if you aren't collecting every 'frame. She's a little clunky to play, but not as much as some other 'frames. I do appreciate that her cycling power does indicate which buff each mode produces when you cast it. I find her pretty energy-hungry; granted, I built her for strength at the expense of efficiency. If you wanted to focus purely on mobility and survivability and ignore damage, you could build for more efficiency, but I think Jade would be a lot less useful then.

Her abilities:

  • Her 1 is a decent heal for herself; it's less great to heal the whole squad, since its range is pretty limited. As an offensive power it's more of a debuff than an attack. It's not killing much on its own, but it does make affected enemies weaker to weapon damage. If you cast 1 while using her 4, you can trigger the orb she casts to blow up like a grenade, but this is a gimmick moreso than a real strategy.
  • Her 2 is just a choice of 3 squad buffs – to ability strength, weapon damage, or shields – which works for everybody all over the map as far as I can tell. These are nice but also a bit short-lived, and not really worth building for duration at the expense of other powers.
  • Her 3 is a crowd debuff, which strips enemy defenses and slows them down (which makes it useful against infested, even, though a bit less so than against shielded/armored enemies). The remote revive is a gimmick.
  • Her 4 is the best flight power besides Titania's (which is quicker and better directable). Like hers, it forces the use of an exalted weapon, which takes the form of lobbing blasts of heat damage that, with her modding for strength, are solidly effective on Steel Path. I wouldn't cast 4 just to get access to that weapon (unless it's a melee-only Sortie or the Elite Archimedia didn't offer any good guns, or something like that) but it doesn't feel like the massive downgrade, say, Hildryn's exalted is to use while flying.

Overall I think Jade's powerset is solid. Her biggest weakness is that all of her abilities are very crowd-focused, and a serious elite enemy at high levels will take something extra. There's a stronger 'frame for everything she does, but very broad utility and a relatively straightforward powerset I'd say puts her in about the same category as Protea.

I do feel a little weird going into battle and doing all the crazy Warframe parkour as a pregnant lady.

On to her signature weapons (which I had equipped in the above video); like Stalker, she has 3 silent weapons: a bow, throwing daggers, and a scythe.

  • The bow apparently renders wounded enemies unable to hurt your squadmates, I think? They can still hurt you. A full pull-back produces an AoE blast, but overall this bow feels weaker than the Nataruk. It certainly fires much slower.
  • The throwing knives are the most interesting. They're infinite-ammo; rather than reloading from an ammo pool, you summon them back to your hands from wherever they've landed, and if they hit any enemies as they're being recalled, they deal red crits. So really, moreso than trying to hit enemies with them directly, you're trying to triangulate your shots either through or behind them and then hit them with your reload, sort of aiming in reverse. It's finicky, and I don't think I'd equip these over the more mainline good secondaries if it really mattered, but if it's a scenario where they're one of three secondaries I can use, I'd pick them over a lot of things.
  • The scythe is okay. Heavy attacks will trigger all of the damage-over-time ticks an enemy is afflicted with all at once, but that's pretty whatever in most cases.

All three weapons have squad buffs that trigger on kills with them, and triggering all three doubles their duration from 30 to 60 seconds, but that's a lot to keep track of. I think, with incarnons, Stalker's gear is preferable in most cases.

Bird of the Week

Be like I, hold your head up high
Till you find a bluebird of happiness
You will find greater peace of mind
Knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness
And when he sings to you
Though you’re deep in blue
You will see a ray of light creep through
And so remember this, life is no abyss
Somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness

The above is from "Bluebird of Happiness"1, a song written by Edward Heyman and Harry Parr-Davies for a tune composed by Sandor Harmati, and first and most famously performed by the operatic tenor Jan Peerce. It's not a song heard a lot anymore, but it was a big hit during the Great Depression and then again during the end of World War II. I bring it up because it's the best-known direct reference to the association of bluebirds with happiness in western culture going back to old European folklore, something I've long found odd, considering that Europe doesn't have bluebirds. Sure, they have some blue birds, like BotW alums the blue tit and the common kingfisher, but those aren't the birds being referenced in the song.

The roots of the bluebird of happiness lie in Lorraine, a region which, in present day, is part of France, but which has historically bounced between French, German, and independent rule. The folklore of Lorraine told of the Blue Country, the land of dreams, and of the Blue Bird that lives there, representing happiness and hope.2 (As an aside, blue is the color of hope in the mythos of DC's Green Lantern comics; this may derive from Lorraine folklore too, or this may just be coincidence.) This tale apparently inspired the Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck to write The Blue Bird, which, like Peerce's song, was a massive hit in its day but is largely forgotten today; my only previous exposure to hte play came in the form of a film adaptation starring Shirley Temple, which heavily re-worked the story to make it more like The Wizard of Oz, which apparently meant adding a scene where Temple's character and her brother go to the celestial waiting room where the souls of the not-yet-born reside, including a downright Messianic Abraham Lincoln.3 It's an odd film. But it did feature a bluebird, this week's bird, the Eastern Bluebird of North America, despite being set in Germany.

The eastern bluebird was not originally named with a thought of the Blue Bird of Happiness, as far as I can tell. The first European to write of it was the Englishman Mark Catesby,4 who probably was not thinking of Lorraine folklore when he called it the "Blew Bird"; he was just being literal. Bluebirds certainly are blue, at least in back; the male is a deep royal blue that, under the right lighting, can go toe-to-toe with the electric blue of their oft-neighbor, the indigo bunting. Females are less saturated, but similarly colored to males otherwise, both featuring blue backs, orange breasts, and pale bellies. They are thrushes, largely insect eaters and thus not easily attracted to feeders full of seed, and yet their beauty has earned them a place of favor with American birders. Once Maeterlinck's play took off, Americans seem to have just sort of cast their bluebird in the role of his Blue Bird of Happiness, either the eastern bluebird, as in the film, or the mountain bluebird, an all-blue cousin found in the western U.S. which inspired glassworker Leo Ward or Arkansas.5

A Leo Ward "Arkansas Bluebird of Happiness" which was a wedding gift to my parents

One thing that really does relate the eastern bluebird to the play and the song: they, themselves, were once more familiar than they are today. Originally living in rare clearings in the forest covering eastern North America, bluebirds benefitted greatly from the clearing of said forests into tree-lined patches of cropland. They were a common sight to most Americans in the 1800s. But the introduction of the house sparrow and European starling (which out-compete bluebirds for nesting sites), the widespread adoption of effective pesticides (which kill their food) and the overall decline in crop acreage have all hit bluebird numbers hard. Today, many bluebirds depend on human-made nest boxes6, something people are often happy to provide bluebirds in particular.7

The eastern bluebird's binomial name is Sialia sialis, which is another one of those instances of Linnaeus grabbing a random name from Greek bird lists and applying it to a new-found bird.8 Sialia was later organized as the genus for bluebirds generally by W. J. Swainson, the illustrator and quinarian biologist. Besides the eastern bluebird, the genus includes the near-identical looking western bluebird, which is found in the southwestern states and northern Mexico, and the aforementioned mountain bluebird.

  1. Peerce, Jan. "The Bluebird of Happiness." single. RCA Victor, 1945, YouTube upload.
  2. Henry Rose, Maeterlinck’s Symbolism: The Blue Bird and Other Essays, Dodd Meade and Company. 1911, 6–7.
  3. Lang, Walter. The Blue Bird. San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit: 20th Century Fox Pictures. 1940.
  4.  Catesby, Mark . The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. Vol. 1. London: W. Innys and R. Manby. 1729–1732, 47.
  5. Davis, Cheryl. “Arkansas Bluebird of Happiness,” Encyclopedia of Arkansas. August 14, 2023.
  6. Segelken, Roger. “Researchers Learn What It Takes to Make the Bluebird of Happiness Happy.” Cornell Chronicle. July 24, 2000.
  7. Labash, Matt. “Kind of Blue.” Slack Tide by Matt Labash (blog), October 15, 2021.
  8. Jobling, J. A. (editor). The Key to Scientific Names in Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman et al. editors), Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca.

Dunkin’ and the Doughnut King | Greg Nichols, The California Sunday Magazine

"Ted Ngoy overcame poverty and escaped genocide, made a fortune off doughnuts and gambled it all away. Today, Ngoy is back on top — but America’s biggest doughnut chain could threaten the hundreds of California shops that are his legacy."

The Entire History of Steel | Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics

What it says in the title, really. A summary of thousands of years of metallurgical history, from meteoroid-sourced royal daggers to wrought iron to Bessemer to Carnegie to today.

The battle to control America’s ‘most destructive’ species: feral pigs | Stephen Robert Miller, National Geographic

"No pig or any other member of the swine family, Suidae—which includes warthogs, Russian boar, and domestic pigs—is native to the Western Hemisphere. Those found here today trace their lineage back to a wild boar that likely evolved in Southeast Asia and was imported to the Americas over centuries." A look at one of the worst invasive species in North America, the feral hog, and the methods being used to curtail their advance into the wilderness.

Black Box of the Terraworms | Barton Aikman, Apex Magazine

[FICTION] An account left behind by a horde of terraforming robots of the strange world they devoured to make way for human colonists.

See the full archive of curations on Notion