Leading off this week, and this is an incredible read, it's SUNK: How a Chinese billionaire’s dream of making an underwater fantasy blockbuster turned into a legendary movie fiasco.
From Christopher, and this is such a good read: Will somebody please give Norm Macdonald another TV show?
From Eric Higgins-Freese, and this is just incredible: We're One Step Closer To Proving Black Holes Evaporate
From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating: Gettysburg’s Killing Field – 12 Remarkable Facts About Pickett’s Charge
. Also, another military history piece, but on a different war: THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY: THE COMPLETE INTELLIGENCE STORY
. This is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship: In a Bowl Care May Not Be
. Next, and this is a great read about taxes and the Roman Empire, it's Fading Legions: The Tax Cut of Doom
. This is grim but fascinating: How were Napoleonic battlefields cleaned up?
This is both bizarre and quite interesting: Hello Goodbye: The author of a best-selling abstinence manifesto is reconsidering the lessons he taught to millions.
From Wally, and this is fascinating: I Would Rather Be Herod’s Pig: The History of a Taboo: The story of how pigs became the world’s most divisive meal.
This next link is a long article, but it's an excellent read: The Death of Flair: As Friday's Goes Minimalist, What Happens to the Antiques?
From Brian Witte, and this is just amazing: Zebra finch 'heat song' changes hatchling development
From 3Suns, and this is incredible: The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See
The Verdict Is In
My ankle: guilty.
Avuncular fracture and two sprained ligaments. In a walking boot/air cast. Hurts like hell.
In good news, I might be able to take off the cast in three weeks.
Get To Carving
Gloria was driving us to the rink, and we passed a wooden bird coming out of a stump.
"It seems that carving wood and putting it in your front yard is a thing up here," I said.
"It certainly is," Gloria said.
"I see a lot of wooden nature, but not much else. What about a bus bearing down on a vulnerable pedestrian, his hands raised in terror?"
I'd stop the car to check that out. No question.
Katmai National Park in Alaska has a live stream of bears fishing around for salmon at Brooks Falls, and it's mesmerizing. The sound of the waterfall is particularly soothing. So if you're having a stressed out day today, go have a look: Brooks Falls -- Katmai National Park, Alaska
There's also a link to an orca cam at a different national park from that page.
Long-time friend of the program Joshua Buergel (who you may remember from the very entertaining card game Hocus
), let me know that he's finished a new game. It's called Farmageddon
, and it looks like it is both fun and funny.
More info and pre-order link here
I was all excited this morning because I was going to drop Eli 15.0 off at goalie camp (where, incredibly, he's now an instructor) and go play nine holes of golf.
I was carrying stuff out of the house, stepped out the front door, couldn't see the thick and quite high mat we have on the porch, hit the edge of it somehow, and blew out my right ankle.
Totally blown out. Heard ligaments popping. Agony.
I've done this before, because I've had a bad ankle going all the way back to a severe sprain in high school (tennis), but we played tennis hard all summer and I never had a single problem.
Managed to make the drive to the rink with the help of an ice wrap, but man, this sucks. Can't really walk and I'm afraid it might be a high ankle sprain, which would be way worse.
On the positive side...well, there's no positive side.
"It's almost hypnotic, really," I said.
"They could make this a live feed on the Internet and I'd watch it all day," Eli 15.0 said.
"Do you think that's Buster?" I asked.
"No, he looks like Walter," Eli said. "I think Buster is over there by the door."
"Looks like Terry is headed for the sin bin," Eli said.
"Lance, too," I said. "Coincidental minors."
We're in PetSmart, of course, standing outside the glassed-in area that is doggy day camp. It's basically a dozen dogs inside a room, and all of them are constantly moving around. Relationships are formed and broken in seconds. New rivalries emerge.
"It's the history of the Roman Empire in under five minutes, but with dogs," I said.
Plus, there's the person.
One person. One women in her late teens to rule them all.
"What do you think is the worst job on Earth?" I asked.
"Hmm, I don't know," Eli said. "Cleaning up biohazards or something?"
"The people with this job apply for that job," I said, as the attendant tried to handle approximately ten disagreements among campers simultaneously.
Besides interpersonal conflicts, there's a little board that lists the dogs names, and you can spend all kinds of time trying to figure out if the bulldog is Wally, Dante, or Thomas.
"All they need is a snack bar," Eli said. "This is better than the movies."
A Rabbit Hole #1: Bleem!
Through an endless series of interconnected rabbit holes, I briefly thought this weekend that one of the most highly regarded feminist novels ever written mentioned Penny Arcade.
It DID mention Penny Arcade, specifically, but it was published in 1997, and Penny Arcade didn't begin strips until 1998.
So, so close.
However, because of that, I started reading Penny Arcade again from the beginning. It's a real trip into the wayback machine of gaming, and I think I'm going to go all the way through, both for the window into gaming and also into how Tycho and Gabe have changed over the years.
Eighteen years is a long, long time.
Anyway, in the July 30, 1999 strip, Bleem! gets mentioned.
In case you're wondering, Bleem! was going to be the ultimate Playstation emulator, playable on either the PC or the Dreamcast. It was hyped and hyped and hyped, and then it finally turned out to be plagued by bugs and way too difficult to actually pull off.
The promises, though, were splendid.
Make Better Decisions: Olympic Edition
That does not seem like a sport.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," I said to Eli 15.0 at the beginning of the Olympics. Trying to distill NBC's coverage--which is decent on some channels and absolute crap on others--is complicated enough, but just the sheer volume of footage to sort through every day is actually tiring.
If you live in another country, let me explain how the Olympics work here: 22-25 minutes of advertising an hour for the prime-time coverage on NBC. Then there will be 10-15 minutes an hour of puff pieces framing the individual athlete's struggle against darkness and evil overlords. So, at most, you might see 20-25 minutes an hour of actual competition.
The sub-channels, though--like NBCSN--were much better. They actually showed most of an event live, instead of tape-delaying and endless editing and reframing the footage for maximum emotional impact.
Except the field events. What NBC does to the field events is just an abomination. They refuse to show them in their entirety, or anything even remotely close to it.
I'm glad I saw what I saw, but man, I'm glad it's over. I need two years to recover before the Winter Olympics.
Random Olympic Conversation About An Unnamed Sport #3
"This looks like it should be an act at Sea World with marine animals," Gloria said.
"I think they toss Frisbees as well," I said.
"Flaming torches," Eli 15.0 said.
Leading off this week, an absolutely fantastic read: The Leak Prosecution That Lost the Space Race
. Also, and this is a long and tangled read, but a fascinating story, it's The Life and Murder of Stella Walsh, Intersex Olympic Champion
From Steven Davis, and this is utterly insane: New Camera Allows You to Zoom in to the Surface of the Moon. Way In.
Next, and this is terrific, it's The Librarian Who Changed Children’s Literature Forever
. This is a great read, but man, it's depressing: These People Are Among Us But Not Of Us: How a 125-year-old mass lynching tried to make America great again
. Next, and this is amazing: 'Brain training' technique restores feeling and movement to paraplegic patients
. This is a fascinating video: Gotta Groove Records - The Artist's Preferred Record Pressing Plant
From Christopher S., and this is a fascinating read: The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’
From Andrew, and if you were curious about how live sporting events can "enhance" the sound, this will explain it: The Sound of Sports
From Wally, and this is both interesting and beautiful: Historic Center of San Gimignano
. Next, and this is incredible, it's Cyborg stingray swims toward light, breaks new ground
. Next, and this is both funny and bizarre, it's Parrot Tries To Cat
From Brian, and this is mind-blowing: Library of Babel
From Eilidh, and this is a terrific read: There's a Section of Yellowstone Where You Can Get Away with Murder
From C. Lee, and this is fascinating: Thanks to This Man, Airplanes Don’t Crash Into Mountains Anymore
. This is an excellent read: Secrets and agents George Akerlof’s 1970 paper, “The Market for Lemons”, is a foundation stone of information economics.
This is a terrific read--about ants: Meet the worst ants in the world
From Jason, and this is an intriguing story: Bang! The Brown Mountain Lights are back in business
The Lesson of These Olympics: Never Lie To Your Mother
Some of our Olympic idiots apparently lied to Brazilian police about getting robbed at gunpoint.
Ryan Lochte, head idiot, told this story to his mother, who then somehow notified the press, and it all went from there.
Of course, Ryan Lochte wouldn't be in all kinds of trouble now if he'd followed the Prime Directive for children: never lie to your mother.
Even at my age, I never lie to my mother. Mothers are generally equipped with the Advanced Lie Detector Mark IV, and they will know you're telling a lie before you even finish telling the lie.
Mom always knew, and after a period of rebellion (from age 5 to about 30, so it was quite a long rebellion), I realized it was so much easier to tell the truth--to her and everyone else, too.
Once I just started being honest, life got much less complicated, and quickly. When you're telling the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
It's pleasant, really.
Lochte's mother apparently doesn't have the advanced lie detector that my mom has, but she still took a lie and bad things happened.
Yes, occasionally you piss someone off by telling the truth. That can't be helped. It's still much, much easier.
Eli 15.0 had a strained tendon in the back of his knee last week and took two days off (the first days off he's had since we moved here).
I texted him while he was in Driver's Ed:
You may have some free time with that injury. Found something for you.
He texted back quickly: Updated and revised.
I didn't know what he was talking about, then I looked at the upper right corner of the book.
What kind of late-breaking information could be added to the original "How to Raise Chickens"? Is there some kind of new wave in chicken care?
Today, I went and worked out. Texted him:
Went to the YMCA. Pretty swole.
No Man's Sky
If you're close to my age (sorry), I will describe No Man's Sky in one sentence for you: A Yes album cover by Roger Dean with music by Vangelis.
For the rest of you, let's keep going, and this isn't going to be an exhaustive gameplay discussion, because you can find those all over the place.
Let's pretend that you never read a word about No Man's Sky. Had no idea what it was about. One day, a disc appears in the mail and all it says is "Play Me".
You decide to follow instructions.
When the game is installed, you wait to play until the house is dark and quiet. You shut the door, put on headphones, and press "Play".
Your mind proceeds to get blown. Fully, irretrievably blown.
Back in gaming's early days, we overlooked the minor in pursuit of the major. Today, we micro-analyze the minor to invalidate the major.
Don't do that with this game.
It's stunningly, staggeringly beautiful. The experience is almost hypnotic.
I could write many words about how NMS might be even better if it was different here and here and there, but those words do not matter.
The game is bigger than all of those words.
Eli 15.0 had Driver's Education from 9-11 this morning, then I picked him up and we drove to Detroit to watch Pro Elite Camp.
"I wonder if I should get a snow kayak this winter," I said.
"That's not a thing, is it?" Eli asked.
"Sure it is," I said. "Small skis are attached just below the kayak, so the kayak just rides on the snow."
"How do you paddle?"
"I'm not totally sure," I said, "but I think you use the regular paddle, only it's modified with spikes that can grip the ice so that you can push."
"Are they expensive?"
"I would think there are plenty of used ones up here," I said. "Don't know how much they'd cost."
I drove on for about thirty seconds.
"You know that snow kayaks totally do not exist," I said.
"I KNEW THAT UNTIL YOU STARTED TALKING," he said.
"I almost persuaded myself," I said.
Later on, I heard a reference to parachute pants in an ad on the radio and made him look it up on Google. "Oh, no," he said when he saw them.
That is the correct reaction to parachute pants.
Pro Elite Camp is a Bandits camp that features a few NHL draft choices, guys on the National Development Team, D1 college goalies, and a few guys below that level. Plus the shooters are just ridiculous.
It was all amazing, but here's one story, because it's late and I'm beat.
When Eli worked out at Barwis during regular Elite Camp, there was a group of NHL players working there at the same time, and at one point, he had to ask the fastest skater in the NHL to move over because he was standing over Eli's water bottle.
He looked over at Eli and says 'Oh, sorry man, my bad." Typical hockey player--super polite, really nice guy.
That same player was a shooter today, just shredding guys in the drills. We were the only people in the stands, and at one point, he looked directly at Eli for several seconds, like he was trying to place him (at least half a dozen of the guys knew Eli, and they all acknowledged him at some point, so he might have noticed that).
Or maybe he wasn't looking at all, but it seemed like it at the time.
"My god, I swear he was staring at me," Eli said.
"He was taking an image with a mental camera," I said. "On that image are the words 'PERSON OF INTEREST.' "
Eli burst out laughing.
About fifteen minutes later, he looked over again. Seemingly.
"I swear he did it again," Eli said.
"That 'PERSON OF INTEREST' text is now flashing," I said.
Driving to Detroit at 11 and driving back at 5 is tough, but it was worth it.