I am an avid Star Wars comics and book reader. I have had a few people ask me about starting to read SW comics and I have to give them this crazy rundown that usually sounds something like this:
“So Marvel started making comics back in the 70s when the movies came out, then a company named Dark Horse took over. Disney ended up buying the franchise and starting with a blank slate, tabula rasa. So, while they are some good stories, anything during that Dark Horse (DH) period isn’t canon. And actually, even though Marvel printed the original series, a lot of that isn’t canon either because they have what is called the “new continuity”. So just to be safe (and stay in canon) You want any Marvel comics after 2015 except for a few series like Son of Dathromir which is canon and is DH. “
Usually, their faces have folded in on themselves at this point and they just ask:
“Well, what should I start with?”
and my answer is ALWAYS:
The original Lando miniseries was brilliant. This was one of the early stories that one of my favorite new writers handled (Charles Soule) and he knocked it out of the park. The art by Alex Maleev is absolutely on point also. Probably some of my favorite comic art in all of SW. There are 5 issues in the series and it chronicles Lando and Lobot as the get out of one debt and fall into another.
One of the neater things about the series is not only the two alien creatures they accompany (the clones Aleksin and Pavol) but also that some of the things they find. Now, years later you can see how some of those things now tie into other parts of the canon especially in regards to the Sith and the lengths that they will go through to retain power. Also if you watch there are definitely some things on board the ship that you will see not only in other SW comics but also the movies.
It looks like the series is available digitally for Kindle/Comixology and also there is a really good Hardcover where you can get the full initial Lando, Leia and Chewy series all in one book. I can’t recommend this series enough and I love talking to people after they have read it and seeing if they thought it was as awesome as I did.
So the other day I came across this tweet and immediately had to know more about it:
I watch a lot of sportscar enduro, F1 and pretty much anything under the sun that goes fast and let me tell you unless that video is sped up a bit - that car is going faster than 99% of the cars I have seen in my life.
After doing a little research here is what I discovered:
This was a stunt designed by a guy named Ken Carter that wanted to jump the St. Lawrence River in Canada. This jump was going to be over one mile and was going to shatter any previous record by a long shot.
The car was a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental.
The ramp was a 1400 ft monstrosity.
ABC paid $250k for the rights to show it along with the National Film Board of Canada.
I used the word “designed by” above because up until the day of the stunt Ken Carter was supposed to do the stunt but had to cancel the first attempt at the stunt because of mechanical reasons. It looks like he was kinda nervous about a second attempt, and it sounds like the people that had put backing into the feat didn’t want to lose any money if Carter backed out, so it seems they secretly hired another stunt driver Kenny Powers (no, not that Kenny Powers) to do the stunt while they lured Carter to another city.
Powers was in the car when the above tweet’s movie took place. There were bumps on the ramp, the car shook and pretty much melted away at the pinnacle of the slope, however the parachutes did deploy and Powers came down with only 8 broken vertebrae and 3 broken ribs. The car was supposed to get up to 270, however, bumps on the ramp caused Powers to lose acceleration. He was getting thrown around in the car so much he couldn’t keep his foot on the gas and only launched at a mere 180 mph.
The entire five years of making the jump were chronicled by the above mentioned National Film Board of Canada in The Devil at Your Heels. If you fast forward to about 1:32:00 you can see Powers getting pumped up and honestly looking at the body language of everyone it seems like he is really trying (and failing?) to pump himself up while everyone around him has a look about them of “this shit ain’t going to work”.
Honestly, I am glad the guy didn’t die.
My history with MOBA’s is tenuous at best. I remember when Defense of the Ancients was all the rage from Warcraft III and I just never got into it. I remember thinking that I didn’t understand wtf they were creating a “clone” called League of Legends (LOL). I didn’t really think it was going to be anything other than a niche game.
I was fucking wrong
There was a time when I got into Smite a good bit. I had a former coworker go to work for Hi-Rez studios a good number of years ago when Smite was in its infancy and had been following them a good bit because the studio is based in the same suburb here in Atlanta. I think Smite appealed to me because it was “almost” a first-person shooter vs. the top down usual MOBA fare. I started playing it on PC and then slowly migrated to the Xbox version when the game was released hoping I could capitalize on the fact I could migrate accounts. I still got my ass whipped; however it was fun. The game slowly faded for me on Xbox although sometimes I will pop up a stream of the big yearly Smite tourney here in Atlanta to see the progression of the game and if it is growing at the insane numbers that LOL did.
I read a lot about AI/ML and keep tabs on significant accomplishments just for my knowledge and have had a lot of fun keeping up with Musk and Altman’s brainchild OpenAI which has its hands in a lot of cookie jars at the moment. One of the cookie jars I am most interested in is the OpenAI Five (OAI5) which is a team of neural networks (5!) that learn via self-play how to beat humans at Defence of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2). Having played some MOBA’s in the past, I felt I needed to learn the intricacies of the game to appreciate the results that they are getting. I picked up the game a few nights ago and have played 4 or 5 matches. My goal is to get into the game enough to where I can watch a game (OAI5 vs. humans) and know what is going on and objectively judge how well the AI is doing/progressing.
Here is a quick list of observations on playing the game so far. More incoming in the next few weeks:
The sheer number of heroes is staggering. The combinations for playstyles (and action combinations) is almost unfathomable to me. This makes sense that OAI5 went extremely focused at first and had slowly added heroes/playstyles. Compound that with a single neural net interacting with its other four personas is mind-blowing.
I like that all Heroes are free at all times in the game. If I remember correctly unless you purchase Smite’s God pack you only had a random assortment of heroes to choose from in game.
I am still getting used to the top down the 3rd party isometric view. I have seen a bunch of other views when watching a broadcast so there must be some specific third party views when broadcasting/streaming?
I feel like the gold cap (and its advantage creations) at the beginning of the match is a MUCH more significant variable in DOTA 2 than Smite. So far (only after 4 -5 games mind you) it seems like on the surface it pays to bait and farm. This I think is due to the “last hit” mechanic which I feel like an A.I. can keep track of much better than a human.
There seems like an extra layer of fortifications around the Ancient in DOTA 2 that I don’t remember Smite having. So not only do you take out towers in the lanes but also some buffer buildings for each lane before you can get to the Ancient for the game win.
Again, how the hell does anyone remember, let alone, play all these heroes?
- Competitive Self-Play
- Welcome to Dota, You Suck