Workouts continue apace. Trying to watch my diet a bit more, despite all the opportunities for delicious brunch.
In related news, props to Newton Running
for their innovative shoe design. I bought a pair of the Sir Isaac
(Neutral Guidance Trainers), in hopes of strengthening my foot for more minimal shoes (as opposed to my previous "ludicrous amounts of arch support" design). Very interesting shoe; odd but actually quite a bit more comfortable on the ankles and knees when running, but more tiring across the sole of the foot in general. Forces a better form while running, has me adjusting my form on balance exercises and lunges in a good way (less leaning on my shoe). May have my feet a little more tired at the end of the day than previous, but overall seems good so far.ComplexMeme:
Trying to post more things at my other blog
. A little bit about the movie The Interrupters
, and some thoughts on the Netflix split
(unpleasant for customers in the short run, and maybe the long, but certainly an interesting business case-study).Politics:
The remaining two of the Americans arrested in Iran while trying to hike in Iraq were released this week
after the nation of Oman paid $1M in bail. What a bizarre story. Iran essentially kidnaps American hikers in an entirely different country after luring them over an unmarked border, overtly based on accusations of espionage but covertly (evidently) just an old fashioned kidnap-for-ransom scheme (which makes me wonder just where that "bail" is going?). One is released on "bail" pre-trial, her failure to show up for the trial is undoubtedly used to help convict the other two. The others are actually sentenced to eight years in jail, but then allowed to be "released on bail" as a "humanitarian gesture". The US, meanwhile, saves face by refusing to pay, but convinces Oman to pay somehow as a "humanitarian gesture" of their own. Don't know what the US government did to get the government of Oman to pony up the money, but that is undoubtedly coming soon to a WikiLeaks near you.
Don't Ask Don't Tell (a.k.a. the "let's fire Arabic translators for no good reason during a counter-insurgency effort in the middle east" policy) has finally been repealed for good
. DADT was an embarrassing and dumb compromise that allegedly improved a worse embarrassing and dumb policy. But hey, I guess that compromise worked, in a sense. Good riddance.Troy Anthony Davis
was executed yesterday after final appeals failed. I have little to say about the case that hasn't already been said. If I was required to put money on it, I'd say the guy was innocent, but I cannot claim to have a sufficient understanding of the evidence of the case. However, I will say that while I understand why the criminal appeals standard is higher than the criminal trial standard, it would be nice if "beyond a shadow of a doubt" (at the very least) was applied to the approval of executions.Games:
Finished two video games recently.
The first, Deus Ex: Human Revolution
is a worthy prequel to the original. It's fun, and it captures the setting very well. It has somewhat less depth than the original, but far more polish. The stealth/cover system leads to interesting and suspenseful scenes, and there really are multiple valid solutions to most of the game's challenges. The difficulty curve is great, if you remember you're not playing a "standard" modern shooter, your character seems powerful but not invincible. Get the jump on a guard (or a group of guards, with careful planning) and they're doomed, run out into the middle of a room of foes with guns and they will swiftly turn you into cyborg swiss cheese. The choices of which mechanics to change relative to the original were smartly made (replacing a complex per-body-part health system and medkits with one total and regeneration was good overall in my view, inventory management is a bit easier, and replacing a "plug it in and wait" hacking mechanic with a rather clever mini-game). A few aspects are off: Boss battles are either way too hard or way too easy depending on weapons/tactics, the ending is a little clumsy, and the balancing/regeneration for limited-use special abilities are not quite right. Still, if you liked the original (or if you like shooter/RPGs or cyberpunk scifi) in general, you'll probably like this one.
The second, Bastion
is a fun action/RPG game, with beautiful and surreal aesthetics, amazing music, fun, challenging, and suspenseful gameplay, good balance, and an interesting, well written, and well-programmed narration style. It's an excellent example of a game that tells a story in a way that's predominantly storytelling through gameplay (as opposed to "accompanied by"). If you want a great (and great as a game
) example of "games as high art" that is not (and does not have the typical flaws of) "an art game", this is it. Seriously, this is not only one of the best games of this year (if not the best), but goes on my list of "best games of all time". If you like adventure/RPGs, you should play it. If you are interested in games, art, or storytelling in general, you should at least watch someone play it for a while. The soundtrack also stands on its own, this
has been running through my head all week.