Yesterday I stopped by Westercon for the quick whirlwind tour. It being Thursday, the programming was fairly light and I occasionally got the feeling that I was the only person there who wasn’t on a panel, but I’m working through one of the most bizarrely busy weeks ever so yesterday was my one chance to check it out.
I think what most surprised me was the dragon panel, which I went into as kind of placeholder since there wasn’t much else in the timeslot, but turned into a really interesting discussion of the philosophical and psychological role of dragons in human literature. Which, probably inevitably, led to the guy who claims that humans aren’t really Earth’s apex predator, because we got to the top of the food chain by “cheating.”
This idea keeps popping up, and it never makes any sense. The fallacy is pretty basic: You can’t cheat when there are no rules.
I thought about going with “Aaron Sorkin is yesterday’s news,” but that seemed excessively mean. And probably inaccurate.
A recurring subplot in Sorkin’s previous worst show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, dealt with a character who was developing a TV show about the United Nations, which he was planning to put on HBO because it was too highbrow for the network TV audience — an idea that Amanda Peet’s fake programming director tried to dissuade him of. So it’s probably telling that now, after Studio 60 collapsed under its own baggage and Sorkin himself got to put a show on HBO, his big idea was apparently to make Studio 60 again.
The Newsroom works considerably better than Studio 60 did, largely because it doesn’t have to sell the idea that a fake version of Saturday Night Live is somehow central to the soul of American society. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t seem to advanced its analysis of the news industry much beyond a few wistful lines about how much better America was when a bunch of old white men told us what to think every night.
Ages ago, when Sony released the original, PlayStation 3, I remarked on the snowballing size of their consoles by suggesting that the PlayStation 9 would end up being the size (and shape) of the Jupiter monolith from 2001. Then, because I was on a roll, I predicted that Sony would only build one, and that it would beam the games directly into users’ minds.
All of which means I can claim that I totally called this: Sony Computer Entertainment is buying the cloud gaming provider Gaikai, which might allow it to stream next-gen games to current-gen consoles. I just wish I could decide if I was happy about it.
I spent way too much time trying to come up with a clever dragon title. Even spent a couple seconds thinking about Photoshopping a screenshot from this week’s Game of Thrones. You know, the one with the dragons?
While I was busy not seeing the transit of Venus, apparently Congress was actually
seeing the light coming to its senses, sort of, when it comes to the space program. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA and the chairman of the House committee that oversees NASA’s budget, has reached a truce over Commercial Crew development program, in which he stops trying to gut the program and NASA agrees to do a bunch of stuff it was probably going to do anyway. The fact that it comes a week after one of the Commercial Crew contractors, SpaceX, successfully sent a spaceship (the Dragon) to resupply the International Space Station, probably isn’t a coincidence.
I’ll take good space news where I can get it, and this seems kind of overdue. Commercial Crew was such an obvious idea that I never really got why it was controversial in the first place. Continue reading
SimCity 2000 always had a special place in my childhood, in large part because I would spend hours playing it every weekend to avoid having awkward living room time with my stepfamily. (We went through a SimTower phase that I think was brutal on everyone.) And some odd things about the game have stuck with me.
Obviously there were elements like the strangely haunting soundtrack, or the alien death robot — which I never actually used that much, because really all it did was start fires. But it probably says something that what I really appreciate is how the game tapped into my budding interest in politics and government.
On paper, I’m an ideal candidate to be annoyed about Mass Effect 3‘s ending. After all, my complaint about Dragon Age II was that the game gives the player a ton of choices and then goes out of its way to make them all seem meaningless, which is not far off from the most coherent complaint about ME3. I also don’t like deus ex machina endings, and I was already kind of annoyed at the game because I kind of saw one coming.
And yet, it didn’t really bother me.
In this week’s edition of me gainsaying io9, I’m taking a look at this piece, in which Charlie Jane Anders wonders if the second season of Game of Thrones will live up to the first. I’m going to be counter-contrarian and say that it will.
The article makes some great points, which amount to the fact that everything that made the first season hard will make the second season harder, plus they’ll need more special effects. But I think the first point Anders raises is both wrong and the reason why I think the show will actually work.