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The Weekly OT #12

August 21, 2016

I was so impatient to see Heaven Is For Real that I bought the book. Then I didn’t need to see the movie. Same may happen with this one.

Cornie composed a new song, “Priceless“, in memory of biking out to see the fireworks two summers in a row with his brother, Tim.  The first year they forgot the chopsticks with which to eat their Cup Noodles.  They ate ’em anyway (don’t ask how).  The next year, they remembered the boiling water and the chopsticks.  This year, with no Tim around, he remembered everything and wrote the song.

And my favorite story of the week is the man laughed at for using Aqua Dam: his insight, his victory, and his testimony.  Love it!

On that thread, I came across The Prepper’s Blueprint (for survival) and the author’s website, which led me to the Dohm-DS, “the Official Sound Conditioner of the National Sleep Foundation”.  Apparently, they are safe to use.  And for those who use laptops or tablets before going to sleep, get rid of the harmful blue light with the free mini-app f.lux.  I am using it right now as I type this.  My screen is a bit yellow-orange, but if it means I will sleep better, hey!

Here is the story of the real Daredevil.  Seriously.  A blind dude using echolocation to “navigate” and see the world around him.  That trumps Professor X and The Wolverine combined!

For interesting and relevant podcasts, this week I enjoyed, among others, Longform’s interview of Seymour Hersh, author of The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, and a whole lot of articles for the New Yorker.

Finally, I want to share a personal story and from that perspective, discuss the Forward to an article published this week in the New York Times.  Many years back, a person who worked at the Law Society of Alberta which is in charge of the admission and discipline of all lawyers practicing in Alberta, discussed the pitfalls of working in that profession.  He told me to listen for the phrases lawyers use.  Specifically, lawyers who lie a lot often use the phrases like, “To be (completely) honest with you.”  Not only does common sense tell you to ask the question, “So, what, are you dishonest all the times you don’t qualify your speech like that?”, but the fact was, in his experience, the more a lawyer used that phrase, the more shady they found the lawyers to be, and ironically, in the specific instances of usage of that phrase, what followed directly after was usually bogus either through direct falsehood or lie of omission.  From an internal affairs perspective, it was a huge red flag.  I will never forget that conversation.

This week, the New York Times published a massive article on the rise of ISIS, entitled Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart.  I was excited because in recent years, for many reasons, the Middle East has become an area of intense interest to me, and the only thing more exciting than a well-researched article, is one of those that weighs in at more than 40,000 words!  Below is the Forward to that article, with my own commentary indicated in footnotes, based on my experience shared above.

This is a story unlike any we have previously published①. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue②. The product of some 18 months of reporting③, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis④. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many⑤, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters⑥ in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja.⑦

It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story⑧, and to ask our readers to do the same⑨. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.⑩


① Really?!  How so?!

② Exciting!  Can’t wait to dig in!

③ “some 18 months”?  Sounds like Donald Trump, or any non-journalist who likes to exaggerate for effect.

④ Oh, you can trace the rise of ISIS back to its origins 13 years ago?  I call bullshit on that.  When did you say you started researching this?  18 months ago and you are releasing it now, just in time for the election?  Ah, I understand.  See, either ISIS started with the war in Syria (on the current administration’s watch), or you really have to go back at least as far as pre-WWI.  Much as I believe Dubya should take his due credit here, I want to spread the accolades to include Bush Sr., Regan, maybe a touch of Carter (my favorite president of recent times), Ford, Nixon, etc. etc. all the way back to Woodrow Wilson, and that is if we are only talking about the role of America in this situation.

⑤ Indeed!

⑥ “characters”?!  You mean witnesses, right?  Or, at least, residents, onlookers, stakeholders, participants, or victims (if this is a catastrophe), right?!   Surely, we are not talking about fiction here, are we?

⑦ Very cool.  Undoubtedly, the NYT has put considerable resources behind this project and wants us readers to get the most out of it.

⑧ Really?!  This is the first time the New York Times has ever had a single journalist working on a story for some 18 months, who by the way, was funded by an outside agency.  That is what you call “unprecedented” energy and focus?!  Either the NYT has been rippin us off in the past and lying about it, or they are doing so now.  The red flag is starting to flap in the wind.

⑨ The NYT is asking us readers to focus our energy and attention on their story?!  They need to ask?!  Don’t we always read their stories expecting that they have put much energy and attention into their work?  Shouldn’t we?

⑩The kill shot.  Could you hear it, “To be completely honest with you….” ?

And for my own reference, the state of journalistic integrity of the NYT.

And for those who want a whole lot more, there is always Dubious Quality‘s Friday Links!

  1. August 22, 2016 10:23 pm

    It is comments like this that make me interested in this game:

    Game of the Show: Sea of Thieves (Rare – Microsoft Game Studios)
    Best Xbox One Game
    Best PC Game
    Best First Party Game
    Best Adventure Game

    It’s a little difficult to notice without playing it, but Sea of Thieves really has enormous potential. It looks gorgeous, and anyone can see that, but there is much more to it.

    Naval combat is absolutely fantastic. It’s a mix of collaboration, tactical thinking and old plain guts. It definitely isn’t limited to just shooting your cannons. The helmsman’s prowess and the coordination of the men handling the angle of the sails to get the best out of the wind generate an extremely compelling gameplay mechanic.

    The moment you manage to place your ship in a position that allows you to bring down a full broadside on an enemy while preventing them to shoot at the same time (a traditional maneuver that seamen call “crossing the T”), you’ll feel like a god. Try to resist the temptation to scream “FIRE!!!” into the mic if you can. I couldn’t.

    A beta is coming, and soon many of you will be able to play is at well, but for now Sea of Thieves gets our golden star, and the most awards that we have ever given to a single game during any show.

    • Blankman permalink*
      August 22, 2016 10:30 pm

      But it has pirates…😩

    • August 22, 2016 10:48 pm

      LOL! Hey, I won’t do this secretly. I honestly think that as L4D did for me regarding Zombies, I think that Sea of Thieves may be able to do for you with Pirates. It doesn’t mean that you will necessarily embrace them in any other context (I really don’t with Zombies), but you may find that they are actually enjoyable in the setting and capacity they are given. The idea of successfully taking out another ship because of our collective, superior seamanship, and then celebrating with fall-off-ship inebriation and music-making merryment? That sounds like a recipe for WAY too much laughter not to be fun.

      The beta will tell all, because never is a game more appreciated, than when it is fresh, free, and time-limited. EDIT: Which is why the Titanfall 2 beta was SO devastating (and the Forbes review was indeed, point after point, bang on).

    • Blankman permalink*
      August 23, 2016 11:09 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, the only thing that’s keeping me remotely interested in SoT is the teamwork that will be required. SoT’s form of teamwork is unlike the kind of teamwork where we play individual roles on a fire team or squad. Rather it’s ‘collective teamwork’ to literally steer a virtual ship. I harken this kind of teamwork to my unfulfilled wish of a B-52 Flying Fortress sim that I’ve desperately wanted to be made. If you recall me pitching the idea many, many years ago in party chat where I described a flying game where there would be two pilots, a navigator, bomb sighter, belly-, side-, nose-, top-, and tail gunners. That would be my ultimate wish for a game that requires collective teamwork in order to win. Since that game doesn’t exist, I’m at least intrigued by the teamwork that will be required in SoT.

    • August 24, 2016 4:18 pm

      Yep. I remember your B-52 idea. Well, this is definitely that, and with a less serious take so that, hopefully, even the odd defeat doesn’t rage us to quit permanently. But there is so much yet unknown (for better or worse) about this game. For now, it has “potential”.

  2. August 23, 2016 7:28 am

    Rocket League Car comparison charts (Google Doc: use tabs at the bottom to check turning speeds etc.)

  3. August 24, 2016 7:25 pm

    More Rocket League.

    Season 2 competitive play has started and apparently, because there were so many viewers (over a million) the pot is going to be 3x larger.

    I have been playing quite a bit this week, even if only in my mind. And though my game has not yet taken to the skies, I am starting to be in the right place at the right time more often, and I am also, coming from a distance, able to connect with the ball more often.

    This morning, I am reminded of the words of Rutger Hauer, who is really just paraphrasing Herandar, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in…rain. Time to die.”

  4. August 25, 2016 6:24 am

    And Cornie and I were killing ourselves watching this tonight.

    • Herandar permalink
      August 26, 2016 4:18 pm

      God, I really can’t stand 90% of streamers.

  5. August 25, 2016 5:54 pm

  6. Herandar permalink
    August 26, 2016 4:26 pm

    Probably should have gone and found the original post, but, you know, ain’t nobody got time for that. Got a closed beta invite for Pit People, the next game from The Behemoth. The beta runs from September 7-15.

    • August 26, 2016 5:35 pm

      Yep, and I am in! Don’t know how I am going to play it though as my mother will be here from Canada during that time. May have to get Cornie to play my GT and give feedback.

      (Agreed about streamers. As a rule with very, very few exceptions, I do not watch. But Jonsandman above had Cornie and I just killin’ ourselves laughing. Really, he sounded a lot like a few of us when we play RL. Singing the song before you actually score the goal, etc. etc.)

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