Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Energy and Focus

Mastering life is merely a matter of focus and energy. You see... *yawn*... Sorry, what was I saying?

Watching the Watchers: Davos 2015

The World Economic Forum annual meeting has recently ended. It's always an interesting thing to watch, because it is essentially a networking meeting for a bunch of people who collectively represent a pretty staggering amount of money. I was happy to see that the ascendance of LED lighting got its due, but the reporting seems to be more on the negative side. It seems that in a world which recently learned the top 1% would soon hold 50% of the wealth, there might be some cause to worry about fallout from that discrepancy. So much so that rumors of hedge fund managers buying farms and airstrips in remote areas made the rounds.

OK, I'll admit it, I am mainly picked up on the stories because they had a nice mix of flavors fitting for these parts. As power brokers doing what they do, it earns the watchers tag, but there's a smidgen of green tech in there, seasoned with just a pinch of personal-apocalyptical paranoia.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Watching the Watchers: Removing Campaign Donation Restrictions Has the Effect You Expect

In the wake of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which gave free speech (First Amendment) protection to political donations by corporations and other business entities, something entirely unremarkable has happened. Donations by organizations not directly affiliated with candidates and donations by entities that do not have to disclose their doners have both doubled. Also, sixty percent of all donations to so-called SuperPACs come from less than two hundred families. Perhaps we should stop calling America a representative republic. Maybe refer to it as a quid pro quo republic instead?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Steam Review: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved is a console-style light brawler/platformer, elevated past its flaws by story and style.

Visually beautiful and well voice acted, with an engaging story and reasonably fun fight mechanics, Enslaved is almost a great game, but flaws keep it at just very good. It is held back by movement that isn't as smooth or responsive as you want it to be and some odd lapses in user prompting. The game is also fairly short, clocking in at around eight hours. With the price lower now than when first released, the length is not an issue. Extra points for a post-apocalypse rendered in greens rather than browns. Take a few points away for making me chase otherwise pointless orbs for upgrade currency, as they are purely a game-mechanic, pulling you right out of the story flow. Well worth a look if the setting or gameplay sounds interesting to you.

Screenshot via Steam

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Quote of the Moment

"The Internet, God bless it, doesn't really specialize in nuance." —John Green

The State of the 'Blog 2014

Oh boy. I don't really consider 2014 a good year for the 'blog. Very little original content to begin with, and not much else period. My main shortage came from a continued disinterest in the news, which of course means I have nothing to say about the news. Green tech also remains slow, though a surprising amount has come to maturity, with LEDs leading the way, and solar slowly making in-roads, but still no replacement for batteries (supercapacitors are still slowly making progress), and little in the way of anything else that caught my attention.

In positive news, I did add the new "apocalyptical" tag, so we will see where I can go with that in the new year. Bookworming still seems a good fit, even if I'm the only one that uses it. Really, all I have to do is knock myself out of my malaise, and things could be off to the races again. Which begs the question of how to do that.

I have the capability now to record video games, and even live stream in low quality. I have the "pure fiction" tag just sitting there waiting to be populated with more RPG/gaming stuff. "Programming" remains my white whale of writing tasks, and one I should chase more often. So it's not like there is a shortage of stuff I could be writing. As always it remains a question of time and energy. 2014 left me with little of either to spare. Early signs for 2015 are not looking promising, so no promises.

As usual, if there is something from my categories you want to see more of, just ask and I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bookworming: 2014 Summary

It's cliche to say that I can't believe the year is coming to an end already, but that's the way I feel. Let's look back at this year's reads:

My rating scale:
* I didn't care for it.
** Meh
*** Good for those who like that sort of thing.
**** Just plain good, likely to be read again some time.
***** Destined to be a personal favorite, likely to be read over and over again.

*****
Skin Game, Jim Butcher
The Peripheral, William Gibson

****
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, Reza Aslan
Locke and Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, Joe Hill
Locke and Key, Vol. 2: Head Games, Joe Hill

***
Divergent, Veronica Roth
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
The Color of Magic, Terry Prachett
Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy
Revenant, Kat Richardson
Footprints in the Sand, Mary Jane Clark

**
The Te of Piglet, Benjamin Hoff
Shadowmarch, Tad Williams
Welcome to Mars, Ken Hollings
House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski

*
The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark

Seventeen books this year, a half-dozen higher than last year, and above one a month. Attribute that to my shorter commute.

Looking back over the scores, it was a fairly poor year of choices on my part. Highlights included the reliably fun Butcher and atmospheric wordsmith Gibson. Zealot was good in a year that really showed that I'm not involved in a Bible study group anymore, though whether my pastors would be pleased that I enjoyed it I am not so sure.

And finally, I'll note that I also post these reviews on Goodreads, if you prefer that platform.

Bookworming: The Lost Years

The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark, *
This one has too many characters with no development, behavior that police would never tolerate (we're talking Cabot Cove levels of interference here), some supposed sexual tension that didn't ever rise beyond awkward, and an idiot bad guy.