Travis Kalanick’s recent string of run-ins with reality have put me to thinking, as I occasionally do, about how weird it is that we ignore empathy when evaluating intelligence. While anyone who has been paying attention can tell you that Kalanick’s apologies are insincere, the hurt and confused demeanour isn’t. He’s genuinely at a loss, because he’s getting in trouble for the exact behavior that has caused people to throw money at him. Kalanick may be the (punchable) face of the problem at the moment, but the fact that VCs are clamoring to get in on a company that’s hemorrhaging precisely because of its cavalier attitude towards its employees, the law, and the world at large constitutes a problem on a much larger scale.
We can quibble about lionizing sociopaths having been appropriate in the past, but for people trying to make their money off the opportunities presented by the connected world, not being sympathetic to someone else’s perspective is basically wanting to have your cake and eat it too, which I think is something that everyone can agree is a sign of limited intelligence.
Like everything else in the recent past, even the dregs of Snowpocalypse 2k17 seem impossibly remote.
So I watched (or at least tried to watch) The Hateful Eight recently. It was. . . not very good. It seems to hope that its hyperactivity will keep it from giving up the ghost, but if you are accustomed to QT’s pacing (which, you know. . .), it doesn’t really work and the movie feels pretty clunky. A couple days later in a dangerous fit of pique I decided I’d try to rinse the taste out by watching Pulp Fiction. In retrospect, I really should have known better.
There is a truly great one hour movie hidden in Pulp Fiction, but the remaining running time is bad, and there sure is a lot of it. I know we sort of agreed to forget the part where Quentin talks to Harry K-Tell, the method actor for like a million years, but I’d say the whole Butch story is just as awful. Bruce Willis is actually pretty good (especially with his expressions, which are the highlights of these sections), but Butch is a truly awful person for whom you should not be rooting, and the. . . events are pretty problematically conveyed. I think that even at the tender age of 18 it occurred to me that I was supposed to be endorsing something with which I didn’t feel very comfortable.
On the plus side, I had forgotten about how genuinely funny the now-infamous foot rub conversation was.
Continuing my complaints about games that are better than 99% of the garbage out there.
Duskers: So, Duskers is super-cool, right? It has a command-line interface, and works from an overhead map. It’s like the motion tracker part of Alien, only you control drones! Sweet, right?
Duskers betrays itself in a really important way. It is completely unsafe to do this without zooming in on an individual drone and operating it manually. The game basically kills the nicest things about it, by demanding fidgety twitching.
Given the states of both the world and my psyche, I thought I’d run through Homo Sacer again. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten how it starts with a really abusive misunderstanding of Foucault. It’s like he read The History of Sexuality and D&P (worst translated name ever), and pretended that he hadn’t notice The Birth of the Clinic. At any rate, it was too much, and now I’m reading Borges short stories.
So partly because we hardware is lagging behind, and partly because I’m not very interested in what is coming out, I’ve sort of been off AAA gaming. Instead, I have been reveling in the world of quirky indie games instead. Somewhat sadly, I’m sort of off those too, because while I enjoy them initially, I get tired of the busywork that is involved in them. Here are my more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger complaints.
Rimworld: Rimworld is a very cool concept, and I have gotten a lot of mileage out of it, but it’s incredibly micro-managy, and the initial set of pawns (whose skills are absolutely critical to actually getting established) is either a crapshoot, or a tedious manner of rerolling characters until you get a combination that works. Combat, both when you are hunting or fending off raids is either incredibly risky or incredibly fiddly, as your pawns won’t even move to avoid grenades of their own volition. Pausing to set a path for them each time that problem arises is not fun for yours truly.
The hunting issue is more about the accuracy with which your pawns shoot, which is abysmal. Because of this, you can graze a dangerous animal even if you are careful to avoid selecting them as hunting targets. Because the map is so large compared to the travel speed of the pawns (which makes sense, it just makes this part a pain) it is very difficult to get your pawn to safety, or to bring over an ally to help fight off the attacking beast.
Hackmud: Hackmud claims to have a deep, nuanced, and engaging storyline, but before you can interact with it you have to do a bunch of timed-typing to earn enough money to make yourself a meaningful entity in-game. You do through this process in the tutorial level, but then you must start again once you reach the main game, which means to get anywhere you need to engage in the dullest part of the game twice. I’ve opened the game many times hoping that I’ll be able to enjoy the stupid money-gathering, but I don’t. Kind of a waste, really.
Or. . . trying to explain, to people who clearly don’t get it, the value of compact titles.
One of the advantages of my having stopped using this space is that you only have to skip one post to see the one where I said there wasn’t any reason to expect a Trump choke. In a shocking twist, however, it turned out that I wasn’t pessimistic enough by some distance. I can absolutely assure that this isn’t something that happens very often.
So. . . as you know, Republicans who pretend to disavow Trump as a racist demagogue are cowardly liars. They have, after all, been participating in the same racists demagoguery as Trump for decades, they’ve just kept a paper-thin division up. That’s all that Trump has changed, really. Now even the morons can tell that the Republican party has nothing to offer beyond racism. What’s only surprising to the ostensible intellectual wing of the party is it turned out to be a huge boon.
Whether that ignorance was naive or cynical is neither here now there. What’s more important is that the people who are fooling themselves into thinking that Trump is too much for them are going to come around. The only thing about this that isn’t completely obvious is that it will take a bit longer if our boy DT wins. In fact, Trump getting elected and glassing the entire globe is the only scenario in which the Republican party doesn’t drop way below his level.
If DT doesn’t make it to the presidency, Republicans are going to be unwilling to give up on the crowds he drew; in fact, those crowds have been desperate for more direct pandering for ages, so if they aren’t drawn further into the Republican mainstream, then they could easily be picked up by another party who they would support regardless of prospect.
(Remember when cops didn’t like Nazis? Good times.)
So it is September, and there have been no updates from Astoria regarding the Fake Orca, or its crazy-looking pilot. Here is a real orca eating a seagull to assuage your suffering.
So, you know, the whole Donald Trump thing: hilarious, no? This headline alone is almost cathartic, not do mention the volume of digs a real pro like Roy Edroso gets in. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years being grumpy about how easily the GOP base falls in line once the party apparatus starts getting heavy-handed, and suddenly all that seems to be collapsing. Like all sensible people, I’m waiting for Trump to be sabotaged in the primaries, run as an independent, and ensure the biggest GOP failure in a presidential election since the party was formed.
The big problem with this, is that Trump’s current position is already so improbable, that I don’t really feel safe assuming that’s going to happen. While a lot of the “this is the beginning of the end for Trump” has been wishful thinking on the part of GOP pundits, it really is true that he’s had a lot of opportunities to fall down, and all of them have seemed to bolster him in the end. I guess I feel like given how strange this race has turned out I’m not willing to be totally confident that the GOP isn’t going to run trump, and while I think that would be a disaster, I don’t feel it’s guaranteed.
So I guess we can take bets on whether the post-apocalyptic wasteland will look like Ridley Walker or A Canticle for Leibowitz.