Masters of Doom – Reviewed

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop CultureMasters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had low expectations for this book, boy was I wrong. This had been recommended to me so I picked it up. I didn’t think that the story about the guys behind id software would be so enthralling and interesting. Kushner writes in a very entertaining way and has researched his work very well. To the point of me wondering, if he was even present for the stuff that didn’t take place in front of him. He even mentions Carmack’s “Mmm” tic, which I found hilarious when I saw it in an interview, excellent attention to detail.

I can see why Kushner wrote this book. Id software was truly revolutionary in game design, making Mario clones for the PC, 3D persistent worlds, online/LAN games all the while raking in millions powered up by diet coke and pizzas. I liked how the guys from id were ordinary guys (with the exception of Carmack maybe!) and how they loved playing games. Id were doing so well, that Bill Gates considered buying the company.

This book has really made me want to play Doom to completion. I think of the early nineties with nostalgia, that I won’t be playing Doom against Romero over DWANGO. Tom Hall and Romero jumping around like idiots making alien noises, Adrian drawing something disgusting in the corner, Carmack hunched over his computer for the umpteenth hour – optimizing his engine, it feels magical. Kushner has done well to paint such memorable, vivid scenes. Romero appears to be the father of online game related flaming though, I’m not sure how I feel about that. In his defence, if he didn’t do it first someone else would have.

The book seems to fizzle out a little towards the end, reflecting the fate of id. Overall it doesn’t matter. I’ve been lucky to read 3 books in a row which I’ve rated 5/5. I hope it lasts.

View all my reviews

Fargo Season 2 was terrible

I was looking forward to this, since the end of season 1. Though it wasn’t as good as the movie, it was still quite entertaining, despite the gore. Boy was I wrong. Season 2 opens with some ditzy bimbo who runs over a mob member who is distracted by Aliens in a flying saucer. I kid you not. Aliens. That’s the best distraction piece they could come up with. Some strange lights, I could live with but a flying saucer is so incredibly unlikely it suspends your disbelief. I don’t doubt that Aliens do exist somewhere in the universe, probably as single celled organisms or something similar, but the authors are suggesting intelligent extraterrestrial life that has visited earth. They make a reappearance at the season finale, how convenient.

Back to the bimbo, rather than call the police or shove the man off the bonnet she drives home with him still on there. Who on earth would do that? I know she panics but that’s just ridiculous. She then has the resolve to stuff him into her home freezer and act like nothings happened. Anyway they end up killing Rye. Arguably at this stage, if they call the police they could claim self defense though that is quite tenuous, whether a jury would believe them.

On balance, I did like the cooky accents and often imitate them in my leisure time.

On Fargo in general, they like to use a plot device in which they claim that the show/movie is based on real events but the names have changed to protect the survivors and respect the dead. Too bad anyone with half a brain cell can search the internet and debunk this bollocks in an instant. Do the authors hold the audiences intelligence in such contempt? I mean season 1 and the movie they could get away with but Aliens? Pull the other one.

Duolingo is mostly useless

I thought I’d tone down the hyperbole and not say “totally useless” but that’s not far off. I have numerous gripes with this site. But before we go down that rabbit hole, let me regale you with a story. So I was briefly part of this German speaking club, my friend always dreaded taking part in it which I found strange, considering he was fluent. Anyway, one day many moons later I decided to join in, I did have an ulterior motive, mind. This cute southern bell was there.

I did feel quite out of my depth here. I used to speak pretty good German 10 years ago – not quite fluent, but getting there. I was top of the class and the teachers were really disappointed I didn’t study German at University. I was really rusty but I could still keep a conversation going. A girl was sat next to me who was very quiet. I tried to make conversation with her but she told me she couldn’t speak and was only here to listen. Delving deeper, she explained that she had got 100% on Duolingo! She had excellent vocabulary but couldn’t construct sentences on her own. How tragic, to complete that turd to fruition only to find out how emasculated she was.

To summarize, these are the problems with Duolingo:

  • From the above, it is not a substitute for traditional classroom learning. Not surprising given how robotic the exercises are. I’d compare it to learn python the hard way. Zed Shaw’s masochistic way to not learn programming.
  • If you make a minor mistake (I’m not talking typos), you lose progress during an exercise. You have to do the same question again. I’m talking exactly the same one. It gets so tedious.
  • It’s so boring, honestly reading a book is more entertaining.
  • There’s lots of mistakes in the answers, marking you down even when you’re right. It’s a free service, so I guess you get what you pay for.
  • They spam the fuck out of your email address, using a cartoon owl to coax you back to the eternal cesspit of boredom. Even if you opt out of one specific type of ham, they’ll spam you with other categories. E.g. Daily progress update vs. Weekly &c.

I tried Duolingo for Romanian and not much of it sank in. Then I just looked at a phrase book and learnt a lot more. Duolingo is poor for retaining information. If you’re serious about language learning, try a language exchnage, rosetta stone, pimsleur or a language class. Avoid relying solely on Duolingo if at all.

Officials expect Trump to resign

Thomas Toch, director of independent education think tank FutureEd, told Politico that Trump was ignorant of the job’s constraints when he accepted it and insiders are already preparing for him to vacate the position.

“He can’t fill his senior staff slots,” he said. “Morale is terrible at the Whitehouse.”

Trump was roundly criticized for his lack of basic knowledge about foreign policy, after another late night tirade against Kim Jong-Un, this time labelling him as fatso McPeePants. The irony of the president’s own carriage was lost on him. He blames Hillary Clinton for this indescretion, claiming “she had a private email server or something.”

One doubts most presidents need to be coached not to insult war widows as a way to show empathy.

“I’ll tell you, in Washington, the conversation is already about the post-Trump landscape, because the assumption is he won’t stay long,” Toch told Politico. “I think he’s been probably one of the most ineffective people to ever hold the job.”

Politico notes that Toch’s assessment was “somewhat harsher” than comments from the west wing, since they perceive Trump as ineffective and deterred from seeking major changes after discovering the limits of his power.

“If there’s one thing Trump has learned so far, it’s that getting your way in Washington requires time, patience and government savvy — three things he does not have,” the profile bluntly states.

After The Salon.

Vurt – reviewed

Vurt (Vurt #1)Vurt by Jeff Noon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern classic. I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t bastardised this work by adapting it for the silver screen. Probably the rampant debauchery, drug taking and sex is holding them back. It is highly thrilling and tantalising. Revealing the minimum amount of information page by page to keep you reading on, to find out what’s going on. I’m tempted to read Pollen but a friend told me it’s no way near as good. I really liked imagining this universe, Noon has an incredible imagination. I was going to mark this down to 4 out of 5 due to the incest but I’m reliably informed that it’s an ode to Greek mythology, so it gets 5.

Are you robo, shadow, dog or vurt?

View all my reviews

UK Snap election June 2017

Well, well, well. Who saw that result coming? YouGov did apparently. It’ll be remembered as the election which few people wanted, fewer people liked the result and cost ~£130m. Don’t hold your breath, because there might be another one soon, when the walking corpse Theresa May is finally ousted as leader past her sell by date. The Tories felt like they lost and Corbyn felt like he won, even though the opposite was true.

It’s quite funny to see May fail so spectacularly. The right wing Tory propaganda machine, that is the newspapers, foreseeing a 100+ majority only for it to be reduced was ironic, take that Alanis Morissette. May said she called election to give her a mandate and a stronger position for Brexit negotiations. The EU didn’t give a shit about the election and in fact the result showed just how weak she was. The real reason she called the election was because the papers were telling her she had a 15 point lead and she thought she could crush the opposition, paving way for her vision of a hard Brexit. Also to use arcane, out-dated laws like the royal assent to repeal rights without oversight.

I just wanted to remind everyone of the three Tory soundbites, that were reiterated during this election, that turned out to be false (lest ye forget):

Strong and Stable – May thought that if she said this enough times, that it’d come true. Like an exercise from a self help book for weak, duplicitous, leathery-faced gargoyles. Strong and Stable? More like Weak and Wobbly. Especially as you send Amber Rudd to fill in for you on a debate. I saw a statistic that said for each key marginal May visited, the Tories lost. And she cited visiting constituents as the reason to not attend debates. The more the population saw of May the less they wanted her.

There’s no magic money tree – There clearly is and it’s called borrowing. The government used the tree to buy 10 DUP MPs at £100m a pop to form a coalition. Since then they have borrowed more for other projects as well. If they disagree with something they’ll just come out with this shitty line. If they do agree with it, they’ll borrow – or use the tree, in their words.

Coalition of Chaos – No, this is not your cousin’s shitty metal band that he wants you to be in. This is the threat of a Labour/SNP coalition (or the so-called rainbow alliance – with other parties &c). Which party made the coalition post election again? Oh that’s right, the Conservatives. Coalition government isn’t necessarily a bad thing – take the best ideas from multiple parties. Do you want a government with a whopping great majority to pass through laws without them being adequately challenged? Legislation might take a little longer to pass but overall I think it’s a good thing. Funnily enough, the DUP has blocked some Tory legislation over the NHS. How’d you like those sky potatoes?

So what have we learned through this treatise? That the Tories are lying bastards and can’t be trusted.