This is Hideo Kojima’s newest PS4 game, announced in 2016 and in development since 2017. It stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, Troy Baker, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Guillermo del Toro, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Lindsay Wagner(!). Most critics are raving. Anticipation has been intense – Kojima is regarded as a visionary genius, after all – and Death Stranding is currently enjoying an 83 on Metacritic.
Folks are laying on the hyperbole pretty heavy, one critic calling it not only the Game of the Year, but maybe even The Game of a Generation. The fellow in the above review actually LIKES the game, but even as he’s raving, listen to how he describes actual gameplay. Between over-indulgent cutscenes, your character delivers packages. That’s pretty much it.
Dimitri Shostakovich wrote this (2nd movement, Symphony #10) as a musical portrait of Stalin, who had harrassed him directly and indirectly throughout his career. This is pure malevolence, published after Stalin was safely dead. While Uncle Joe was alive, DS was mostly confined to putting out government approved, “socalist realist” garbage, while keeping much of his “real” work private. Occasionally he could put one over on the Soviets and follow the letter of their requirements while mocking them. One cool thing is that in the finale of this same symphony, he has a theme based on his initials, DSCH, vie for dominance against the Stalin theme from this movement. DSCH wins. Artistic revenge at its finest. “He who laughs last, laughs longest.”
The conductor seems a little too into his hair, and I’m not sure why he appears to be grinning during this grim business. But you’ve gotta give him credit, his musicians are playing the hell out of this. He made his reputation whipping these young Venezuelans into a respectable unit. He’s since gone on to greener pastures in LA.
David Nutt, psychiatrist and director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has been working on a safe alternative to booze since he discovered an alcohol antidote as a PhD student in 1983. From an article in The Guardian, here’s the cool science-nerd part …
What Nutt now knows is that there are 15 different Gaba receptor subtypes in multiple brain regions, “and alcohol is very promiscuous. It will bind to them all.” Without giving away his trade secrets, he says he has found which Gaba and other receptors can be stimulated to induce tipsiness without adverse effects. “We know where in the brain alcohol has its ‘good’ effects and ‘bad’ effects, and what particular receptors mediate that – Gaba, glutamate and other ones, such as serotonin and dopamine. The effects of alcohol are complicated but … you can target the parts of the brain you want to target.”
Handily, you can modify the way in which a molecule binds to a receptor to produce different effects. You can design a peak effect into it, so no matter how much Alcarelle you consume, you won’t get hammered. This is well-established science; in fact Nutt says a number of medicines, such as the smoking cessation drug varenicline (marketed as Champix), use a similar shut-off effect. You can create other effects, too, while still avoiding inebriation, so you could choose between a party drink or a business-lunch beverage.
Ultimately, the aim isn’t for Alcarelle to become a drinks company, but to supply companies in the drinks industry with the active ingredient, so that they can make and market their own products. You would expect that the alcohol industry would view Alcarelle as its nemesis, but Orren says that industry players “are approaching us as potential investing collaborators”. This doesn’t surprise Jonny Forsyth, a global drinks analyst at Mintel. “The industry is increasingly investing in alcohol alternatives,” he says. “We have seen a lot of investment in cannabis … They’re looking at nonalcoholic gins and soft drinks because they know people are drinking less [alcohol], and this is a trend that is going to carry on. If the science is right, and if it’s easy to mask the taste, I think it’s got a great chance.”
Stranger Things, part the third. Being a fan of Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Steven Spielberg, I was completely blown away by the first season. Absolute lightning in a bottle. Honestly, it could have ended there with that perfect little cliffhanger as the cherry on top and I would have been a happy customer.
The second season suffered a bit, in my humble-but-accurate opinion, and felt like your garden-variety sophomore slump. (I’d give it a B-.) Hopefully, the Stranger Things creative team has had enough time to recharge the batteries and recapture some of the magic. We’ll see.