Running Commentary 8/22/2022

Running Commentary 8/22/2022

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (Episode 1), Battlebots (Champions E3), Sandwich Tern

Hello,

It’s still the wrong season for birding, but I was able to find a flock of cedar waxwings feeding over the river over the weekend. No photos though; they were all to far away.

Anyway...

Watching...

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

The first episode of the latest MCU streaming series was released last Thursday. I gave it a watch, and my main takeaway was that it was all prologue. Here are my notes:

Still from Marvel.com
  • Of all the Disney+ series to have had the first two episodes released simultaneously, I think it’s really strange that this wasn’t one of them. Whatever the main plotline of the show might be, I don’t see that it has started yet. That said, as a character introduction, this first episode worked well.
  • I’ve never really been a Hulk fan, although he works as an ensemble player in the broader Avengers franchise. A spin-off series about another Hulk doesn’t seem that exciting to me, so I’m glad they’re establishing out of the gate that, despite having the same powers, Hulk and She-Hulk are different people.
  • I had to google who smashed into the courtroom at the end. Apparently, the character is called Titania, which is confusing, given that She-Hulk is played by an actress named Tatiana.
  • Speaking of Tatiana Maslany, it’s too bad that they don’t seem to be writing her character as having any sort of alter-ego, given how many different characters Maslany starred in Orphan Black as.
  • The special effects work, which looked bad enough in the trailer to generate, in part, a response from Marvel’s contracted VFX artists complaining that they aren’t given enough time to do their work properly, does look better in the final product than in the trailer.

BattleBots

The third bracket of the Champions series saw eight challengers compete to face Rotator, the first actually, currently top-tier bot to serve as the “boss fight” for one of these brackets. Let’s look at the fights:

  • DRAGON SLAYER v UPPERCUT - A win here for Uppercut was a foregone conclusion, which is probably why Uppercut felt comfortable equipping an oversized wheel spinner that really impacted their bot’s maneuverability. They were able to pull off a win, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing “the Hoop” again, especially considering it didn’t do appreciably more damage than Uppercut’s regular weapons.
  • ICEWAVE v FREE SHIPPING - Icewave remains one of my favorite bots, but this fight really demonstrated that its time has come and gone. Even the less tanky bots know how to deal with a horizontal spinner, so the one-hit kills Icewave traded its mobility to achieve really aren’t likely anymore, and Icewave’s ricocheting and inability to self-right are still there. Sad as it makes me to say, I think Icewave should follow Son of Whyachi into retirement.
  • GRUFF v GLITCH - Newcomer Glitch had a really impressive undefeated season before having to pull out of the Season 6 tournament due to unresolved technical issues. It was able to participate in the Champions series, but still seemed to be handling wonkily in its fight against Gruff. Still, it avoided taking any meaningful damage for the three minutes, which won it the judges’ decision.
  • RETROGRADE v MAMMOTH - This fight was highlit during the broadcast and has since been posted to YouTube, so you can watch it for yourself. Not a great fight; I can see why it got cut.
  • FREE SHIPPING v UPPERCUT - This Season Six rematch really solidifies the case that you just shouldn’t bring a flamethrower to a fight against Uppercut.
  • RETROGRADE v GLITCH - The two rookies faced off in the dullest fight of the night, with lots of missed attacks. Retrograde eventually lost its main drive wheels, but was still mobile enough to avoid getting counted out. Glitch avoided any serious damage from Retrograde’s undercutter by virtue of its low, sloped design, and took a close judges’ decision.
  • GLITCH v UPPERCUT - Glitch’s night of barely winning continued as it faced Uppercut. Both bots have hard-hitting weapons, but Uppercut’s better mobility made it my pick to be the first bot to knock Glitch out. And it was, but Glitch knocked Uppercut out in the same exchange, and the decision once again went to the judges, who once again narrowly picked Glitch to move forward.
  • GLITCH v ROTATOR - Glitch seemed to have its drive issues sorted out by the time they faced Rotator. Victor Soto’s tactical driving was ill-matched to the Glitch’s strafing motions, but it still seemed to be headed for a victory when a sudden whip-around attack from Glitch bent Rotator’s spinner such that Rotator ripped into its own belly, destroying its batteries in a spectacular blue-green lightshow of arc flashes. When Rotator fell back to the arena floor, it was quite dead. Glitch will re-appear in the finale. As it stands, it has a perfect 7-0 career fight record. Very impressive.
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Bird of the Week

This week we’re heading back to the beach, once more before the summer’s over. The Sandwich Tern is a widely-distributed seabird. Generally smaller and slimmer than their cousins the gulls, terns are found on seashores, around lakes and rivers, or even in marshes, depending on the species. The Sandwich tern is one of the “crested terns”, so named for the blue jay-like tuft of feathers coming off the back of their heads (which, now that I’m writing this, I realize isn’t really visible when they’re flying, as I depicted mine doing. Sorry about that.) It can be distinguished from other similar terns by its yellow-tipped black beak (except in South America, where the “cayenne” population sport entirely yellow bills.)

Terns are fish-eaters. The sea-terns feed by flying out over the water and then plunge-diving after their prey (catching a fish about one-third of the time). Like most larids, Sandwich terns will form large, mixed colonies with similar species (such as the black-headed gull, whose nesting season corresponds with their own.) They nest on low-lying islands, laying a few eggs in a scrape. The nests are both far more exposed and more closely-placed to one another than those of other terns.

The Sandwich tern, in both its common English name and in its scientific name (Thalasseus sandvicensis) is named for Sandwich, a town in Kent, England, located near the eastern end of the English Channel. The town’s name derives from an Old English phrase meaning “fortified trading post built on sandy ground”. Besides this tern, Sandwich also leant its name to the Hawai’ian Islands (hence why sandvicensis is the species name for so many Hawai’ian birds), as well as to a dish composed of prepared items served on bread, such as the roast-beef-on-toast served to John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich. Thalasseus derives from the Greek word for the sea, and was first applied to the crested terns by the German zoologist Heinrich Boie, who is better known for his work in herpetology in Indonesia.

The case of the missing human chromosomes | Kat Arney, Genetics Unzipped

An account of how, for much of the early 20th century, University of Texas researcher Theophilus Painter was able to convince the world that humans had 48 chromosomes (the wrong number.)

The Simple Secret of Runway Digits | CGP Grey

[VIDEO] Why are airport runways labeled with such random-seeming numbers? Because the outer core of the Earth is a swirling mass of liquid iron. There are, of course, a few layers between that question and its ultimate answer, which this video gets into. (17 minutes)

Twinkle, Twinkle, Vogel Staar | Elena Passarello, VQR Online

“Mozart could have kept his starling’s cage in the room with his billiard table, where he often composed. Or it might have stood in his bedchamber, where he stayed awake with his quill and notebook (both man and songbird were prone to singing while the rest of the house slept). No matter the room, the bird lived with him for thirty-six of the most vibrant months of Mozart’s career.”

Godmeat | Martin Cahill, Lightspeed Magazine

[FICTION] “All he’d had to do for this opportunity was condemn the Wild World itself to die. But what was the annihilation of a world against the pursuit of culinary perfection? The question echoed in the back of Hark’s mind, and like every time before, he ignored it.”

See the full archive of curations on Notion