Since I currently only barely have the attention span to compose a coherent tweet, let alone a proper blog post…
- To get the usual topic of conversation on this blog out of the way: I remain both #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary and would still gladly vote for just about any 3rd party candidate on Nov. 8. Gary Johnson seems the most viable, and I write this knowing how incredible it is to use the word “viable” about a Libertarian candidate. I’ll never agree on the whole tax-cuts-for-the-rich thing, but he seems good enough on most other issues, and besides, this thing is far beyond each candidate’s position white papers. This is about basic moral character and fitness for office, a test that both of the main nominees flunk spectacularly. Sure, Hillary maybe gets a failing 55% on that test versus Trump’s 12%, but still.
- If you put a gun to my head, yes, I’ll admit Hillary is the lesser of two evils. Recent comparisons I’ve seen online: She’s malaria to Trump’s Ebola; she’s Stalin to Trump’s Hitler. Let me add: She’s the Roose Bolton to Trump’s Ramsay Bolton. I still can’t force myself to support her.
On that note: Spoilers for Game of Thrones and the most recent Captain America movie below the fold.
- It looks like Game of Thrones is finally steering toward its endgame and the series’ conclusion. Perhaps it will go the traditional seven seasons, perhaps eight, but we are unmistakably in the third act now. Mysteries surrounding the White Walkers have been solved; Dany and her allies are tying up loose ends and securing relative peace on Essos in preparation of sailing west; Jon Snow was freed from his oath of duty in a most dramatic fashion and can now finally mingle with the main drama of Westeros; Ramsay has emerged as the most likely final archvillain of the story; and most tellingly, the show is finally going to flashbacks of the era when Ned and Robert were young, something which its creators had repeatedly sworn they’d never do. The fact that they are now may mean that they are on the verge of settling one of the other main mysteries of the show, that of Jon’s true parentage, and one that the internet predicted years ago. (If you’re one of the few not to know at this point, I won’t spoil it; a simple Google search will give you plenty of hits.) As for the Iron-Born, their new king/usurper will most likely ally with fellow evil bastard Ramsay, and their rebel leader Yara will most likely hook up with Dany and supply her with her needed ships. There are a few wild cards remaining — the Lannisters, now bereft of their most evil members, still counting the nominal king in their ranks; the High Sparrow and his cult; Melisandra and her cult, as they clearly have their own agenda beyond their current support of Jon and Dany; that one faction that murdered Cersei’s daughter in revenge for the Mountain killing their champion. Littlefinger’s not a wildcard, though. It’s a question of when, not if, he will betray Jon and Sansa to Ramsay. But the main thing I hope for is: they lay off the gratuitous-rape button for this season. I mean, come on. We’ve had more than our fill.
- A bit late to the party, but I’ll join with the general consensus about Captain America: Civil War being among the best MCU movies ever made. I’ll even be so bold as to put it at #2, just behind the original Iron Man. The big superhero throwdown at the airport was pure delight for the inner 12-year-old geek in all of us, with such absurdities as Spider-Man battling a colossus Ant-Man by referencing The Empire Strikes Back. The grimmer drama of the movie was wisely and temporarily put on hold for this sequence in service of pure spectacle. Also of note was how well they kept giving us red herrings for villains. The marketing made us believe Iron Man would be the primary antagonist; then, early in the movie, it seemed clear that this was yet another government-conspiracy plot, with William Hurt’s character as the villain; then, it looked like we’d be fighting a team of evil Winter Soldiers; and in the final fight, Iron Man was the antagonist all along. (The actual “villain,” such as he was, had no powers and was mostly incidental to the main plot.) Combined with the reviled Batman vs. Superman movie and the expected disaster that is Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Disney is once again firmly in the driver’s seat for the superhero genre. The only reason why I don’t expect Fox to surrender, Sony-style, to Disney is the recent Deadpool movie owning an adult-oriented, R-rated subgenre just for itself, a subgenre untouched since the original 1987 Robocop, and one that Disney is unlikely to compete in.
- Staying with the geek theme: Graphics card maker Nvidia is out with a new model, and competitor AMD has moved up their own product announcement as a response. The battle between these two corporations for the lucrative graphics-gaming market, as well as the less-lucrative but still-important professional graphics market (think CGI, engineering, etc), is one of the most dramatic and and cutthroat capitalist duels of recent memory. Many business rivals wind up as relative detente, as with Coke vs. Pepsi. Many potential rivals settle for second-string status, as AMD itself did with CPU giant Intel. Many even wind up cooperating more than competing — think Uber and Lyft. But in the graphics card business, Nvidia is looking for nothing less than the complete elimination of its rival, and AMD likely feels the same in reverse. Nvidia generally offers the most powerful cards in any given year; however, AMD’s are more cost-effective and power-efficient. And while Nvidia is the bigger player in the PC market, AMD basically has the console market all to itself, supplying both the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One. In most markets, businesses would rather avoid each other, work out arrangements, and carve out territory for each other so that profits are not harmed for anyone — when an airline fails, for instance, it’s usually from self-implosion and government regulation, not from something a specific competitor did. But in the computer graphics world, the two competitors have dispensed with the niceties and are in There Will Be Blood territory. The main winners of this are the consumers: gamers, and special-effects and animation professionals, as well as engineers reliant on AutoCAD. CPU progress is increasingly stagnant; GPU progress is geometric.
- Few things reduce writing output more than Twitter. Slate political writer Jamelle Bouie once said that the only way he can get anything done is by closing his Twitter tab, and I can relate. One more personal resolution to add to the pile.
- I’m excited for the Mets this season, charging ahead despite the loss of Daniel Murphy to the hated Nats. I really was uncomfortable with the fact that my hometown Royals had to beat the Mets, of all teams, in the Series last year, putting me in the position of rooting for my favorite team out of the 30 against my second-favorite; why couldn’t have been traditional baseball villains such as the Giants? Ah well. The last Royals championship in ’85 was followed by a Mets one the next year. Let’s hope history repeats itself.
- With Memorial Day almost upon us, let me wish you a safe and memorable summer. And if you’re in Cleveland, the latter is guaranteed, even if the former is anything but!