Sunday, November 25, 2019

Another quick one, as I still have company. Plus, this sticky space bar is getting on my nerves. I’m going to have to rectify that soon.

In any event, everything’s still pleasant and things are comfortable if cool, weather wise. Another lazy-as-hell Sunday, too. Little Brother and His Bride rambled around to see how the country had change in the year or so since they’ve been here. They leave out tomorrow, which is probably close to right. He and Momma manage to get on each others’ nerves in fairly short order, and this is just too small a house for four adults of reasonable size.

For my part, I slept just awful last night so I’ve been snoozing pretty much all day. I’ve been poking around a Weird Western collection of short stories called, appropriately enough, The Weird Wild West, part of the Weird and Wild series. I’ve been a while picking through it, and it’s got some good stories, but some – like the one I’m reading now – are less cowboy stories with supernatural/horror elements and more fantasy/horror stories with Western trope touches.

I confess, I prefer the straight horror/supernatural cowboy story to the other, just for no other reason than I’ve been a fool for cowboy stories since I was a kid. I’ve got another one on deck, Dead Man’s Hand, for when I finish up this, since the Deathless series is dragging me down a bit. It’s got a few more well-known names, like well-known homophobe Orson Scott CardStar Wars scribe Alan Dean Scott and a story from Cowboys & Aliens writer Fred Van Lent.

Speaking of Weird West, I got a little time in on Hard West last night. Like XCOM, it’s a turn-based strategy game, but instead of an alien invasion conquering mankind, this involves a father and son struggling to survive in a West filled not only with banditos and crooked lawmen, but zombies and mad scientists, as well as the actual Devil. It’s got a wonderful look, excellent music and maybe the best atmosphere of a Weird Western anything I’ve seen apart from Richard Matheson’s Shadow On The Sun.

Mechanics and gameplay is pretty close to XCOM, with some light RPG elements, though Hard West lacks XCOM’s “overwatch” feature for the protagonists. It’s active for antagonists, which makes things sort of unfair, but that can be switched off in the options. The save feature is pretty limited, which limits “save scumming,” and it’s up to you to decide whether that constitutes “artificial difficulty or not”. Crowdfunded by indie developers, it’s not perfect because of those same limitations but it’s a great game overall and one of the best XCOM clones I’ve come across. It does have a DLC with a whole new story, Scars Of Freedom, less supernatural and more weird science.

I also re-dipped my toe into another game inspired by XCOM, this time Invisible, Inc. Developed by Klei Entertainment, this one has a cyberpunk theme. In a world where corporations have complete control over society, you control an industrial espionage organization that’s been betrayed and had to go on the run with its back against the wall. While the art for Hard West has an appropriately grainy look, Invisible, Inc. is streamlined and cartoon-y (though not anime, thankfully). It’s also got more of an oppressive atmosphere, as it takes place inside buildings rather than a ghost town or battlefield. So it’s more geared to stealth and speed rather than shooting and flanking. A little on the short side – fattened up a bit with it’s DLC, Contingency Plan – but definitely a lot of fun and worth a buy.

Before we get into the News, I want to give a public service announcement. You seen that Forbes story saying how due to the massive brushfires in Australia, the iconic koala bear was “functionally extinct? Well… that ain’t quite so. The fires were fierce and the koala had a rough time of it, but while they are in trouble they’re not “functionally extinct”. Seems the writer of the Forbes story, Trevor Nace, was relying on 25-year-old information, and the real problem is Forbes will apparently let any dingbat publish a story in it if they pay enough.

And it used to be free to do so, if you can swallow that. This is a fine example of why you should never take the word of just one publication on a heavy story, even one with the clout of Forbes, maybe especially like Forbes. Trust but verify, said the old actor, but it’s not a bad dictum. Especially in today’s media climate where scoops and clicks sometimes outweigh common sense and good journalism. Another good dictum is “extraordinary claims requires extraordinary proof,” and let’s all work to help out the koalas. Not just because they’re cute, but because it’s their planet, too.

Okay, to take a swing through the News, we’ll touch on something we looked into yesterday. In the imbroglio that’s stirred up due to CPO Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher murdering a prisoner, firing on civilians and threatening his comrades, as well as the jackass in the White House meddling where he shouldn’t, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer quit earlier today. Or he was fired by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, it’s sort of fuzzy just what happened. In any event, he ain’t there anymore and the President has says he will not interfere with the Navy’s desire to boot the sloppy thug out of their gang of elite killers.

And what does this tell us about how the Trump Administration functions like a well-oiled broken-down Ford and the Blind Idiot God himself dodges his real responsibilities by meddling in things that are only to stir up his bloodthirsty base? Well… nothing we didn’t already know, frankly. This is one of those things people – even those who just voted for him because they “hated Hilary” – should have seen coming, thanks to Trump’s ego and stupidity. Granted, that’s only been bone-obvious for the past 40 years almost, so I guess it’s easy to miss things like this when a “rich” reality television “star” tells you he can solve the country’s issues in the first six months, ya dumbasses.

Anyhow. We’re doing Thanksgiving early due to the visitors in from the West Coast and supper’s about ready. The Saints squeaked out a win over Carolina and it’s getting cooler outside. And with that, you’re on your own.

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