• Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns

    An older article from GQ I read a while back has come back up in social media today. Makes it pretty clear many crime TV shows don’t have much basis in reality. Fascinating read on how much they’re able to get done with paper and microfiche.

    Absolutely ridiculous that this isn’t computerized.

  • Media Diet, End of 2017

    A quick review of media since the last installment. It was a quieter second half of the year for media consumption.

    Books

    Oathbringer: Brandon Sanderson’s latest. Third in his Stormlight Archive series. As always a very enjoyable read. I felt that he did a good job really expanding the world and characters on this one. A couple of very powerful moments. It is a time investment, and probably not a good idea to jump in mid-series.

    A Wizard of Earthsea: A classic by Ursula K. Le Guin. This was a reread, which I read out loud. Seriously, you should read this. Works very well orally.

    Video Games

    Destiny 2: The beta did not lead me astray. Bungie knows how to make a good sci-fi shooter. The reviews have been mixed, but I’m in the camp of really enjoying the game. The reduction of the grind mechanics might reduce the ability to spend your entire life on the game, but it does mean there’s only so much time you need to spend. Given my time constraints for playing, this has made it very satisfying. The recent changes feel like they’re very well balanced in responding to the community, but not excluding anyone. I also have a clan to play with now, and the raid is a lot of fun.

    Super Mario Odyssey: A great game. Just fun. Created a nice balance of new and old mechanics. Beautiful level design. If you have a Switch, you should be playing this.

    Celeste: I played through on the switch. Challenging, but not impossible. The story made the game feel meditative.

    Breath of the Wild DLC: DLC 1 was fun, but challenge levels aren’t really my thing. The second DLC was great though. Hit the same notes as the main gameplay, and was a lot of fun.

    Movies

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Put me in the camp of having heavily enjoyed it. I loved the subtle and not so subtle twists on expectation throughout the movie. More thought provoking than The Force Awakens. I’d say The Force Awakens was emotionally more satisfying, but this might be the better movie.

    Mary and the Witch’s Flower: Not surprising anyone, this is a visually beautiful film. Very enjoyable, and well done. Ghibli-esque in style, story choice, and presentation, it still had some unique flavors.

    Cars 3: Wow, what a good job they did. As good as the first, but with an even better lesson to the story? My favorite moment was with the old racers explaining why they raced: “Moonshine”.

    Boss Baby: Better than it had any right to be. The previews do not prepare you for the way the story is told.

    TV

    The Good Place: Just finished season one. Very well done. They clearly had a lot of fun with this.

    What I’m Looking Forward To

    Some already released movies (babies really make it hard to watch movies): Thor: Ragnarok, Coco. Some upcoming: The Incredibles 2, Black Panther. I’m finishing up reading The Stone Sky. Obviously going to watch the second season of The Good Place.

  • HomePod

    Convenience is where the HomePod shines for music. I don’t want to fuss with menus, or having to look at my phone (especially trying to keep a one year old from seeing too many screens). Siri is good enough at music.

    For the price (and size) the HomePod sounds excellent. I’ve listened to much more expensive setups, and Apple did a stellar job. I’ve heard a few people say it is too quiet, but I haven’t even bothered to push it past 50% volume. My only critique is that the mids sometimes sound a bit weak. Oddly, it does seem to matter what type of music is being played. Might be a software EQ thing.

    Can the HomePod do all the other cool things that the competition does? Not really, but I don’t care. It plays music, sounds very nice, and doesn’t feel as creepy. We’ve been very happy with it.

    Well, except when I tried to get Siri to play music by Airplane Mode. That confused it a lot.

  • Tim Carmody on Kottke

    Recently Tim Carmody had a run as a guest editor on kottke.org. I get a sense Tim and I are at least similar in age, and I found myself with multiple posts just nodding my head in agreement. It is worth linking to a few of these:

    The hidden heart of Howl's Moving Castle

    Howl's Moving Castle isn't the best Miyazaki film. It continues to be my favorite. It isn't the first of his work I saw or read (Princess Mononoke in theaters 1997 and the Nausicaä manga years before that). There is just something about the movie that makes me love it a little more than the rest. Tim's comments really echo many of my thoughts.

    Four version of "A House Is Not A Home"

    Fascinating analysis.

    Planetary and the 1990s pulp comics revival

    A few years ago I found out about Planetary and quickly consumed it all. What a great world. What a great concept. The series isn't for everyone, a few issues have fairly gory violence, otherwise it holds around PG-13. If you're willing, read it. If not, at least read the article to get a sense of what was done in the series.

    Warren Ellis is rebooting the world this was in (no sign of Planetary though) in the new DC series The Wild Storm. The new series is pulling from other properties Ellis did.

    The sad humanity of American Captain, the best anti-superhero comic about superheroes

    I'd never read the comic, but it is a very interesting take on Captain America in his off time in the MCU. Fun read.

    Robots in disguise

    Seriously, the Transformers move is crazy. A follow on: the rebirth of Optimus Prime two part episode is also great. I had both of those on VHS at home.

    In praise of Cookie Monster, the literary muppet

    It seems like a joke, but have you watched Monsterpiece Theatre? Many of Tim's posts end with an interview, and this one almost did.

  • Great Thoughts on Diversity in Hiring

    A really great discussion on diversity hiring in tech. Much more to think about and actually apply from it than my post.

  • Visual Guide to Discworld

    A neat visualization about the Discworld series. I'm slowly re-reading it myself.