Mrs. DeMaro and I made the mistake of watching the following video two days before the release of Forza 4:

 

 

That’s a hell of a trailer.  Needless to say, we immediately pre-ordered the game and had a short, but heated debate on the merits of this (sadly, practicality won out.  I hate when practicality wins out.  Though sensible in the long view, practicality is kind of a pansy).

I don’t play racing games often, but when I do, I prefer Best of Breed…which in this case is Forza 4.  I type today with one eye on the computer and the other on the front door, anticipating the UPS lady’s delivery.  There’s definitely a Pavlovian thing going on…I’ve heard the Bucket Truck’s diesel motor a couple times and began salivating.  Not sure how to explain that.

Moving on…

–A little more on gaming as we’re set to enter a remarkable run of releases.  This happens every year as we enter the Holiday season, but this year’s lineup is especially rich in gaming goodies:

Today:  Forza 4, the top racing game on planet Earth.

Next Tuesday:  Batman, Arkham City.

Oct. 25:  Battlefield 3.

Nov. 1:  Uncharted 3.

Nov. 8:  Modern Warfare 3.

Nov. 11:  Skyrim.

Nov. 20:  Zelda, Skyward Sword.

That’s a murderers row of honest-to-goodness AAA titles.  Skyrim alone is said to offer HUNDREDS of hours of gameplay, Zelda in the 50-100 hour range.  The online multiplayer of the two shooters could, literally, provide years of play.  And Uncharted & Batman will be long, rewarding adventures…I’m especially pumped for Uncharted, as the cinematic series is among the most entertaining the medium has to offer.

Being unemployed is emotional and psychological torture, make no mistake about it.  But a very faint silver lining lies in the flexibility afforded to this Life of Leisure…while I’m waiting for people to call/write me back (prospective employers:  please call/write me back), I’ll partake in some truly excellent examples of the gaming medium.

 

–I’ll be sad when cancer finally claims Christopher Hitchens.

But in most other respects Mr. Hitchens is undiminished, preferring to see himself as living with cancer, not dying from it. He still holds forth in dazzlingly clever and erudite paragraphs, pausing only to catch a breath or let a punch line resonate, and though he says his legendary productivity has fallen off a little since his illness, he still writes faster than most people talk. Last week he stayed up until 1 in the morning to finish an article for Vanity Fair, working on a laptop on his bedside table.

Writing seems to come almost as naturally as speech does to Mr. Hitchens, and he consciously associates the two. “If you can talk, you can write,” he said. “You have to be careful to keep your speech as immaculate as possible. That’s what I’m most afraid of. I’m terrified of losing my voice.” He added: “Writing is something I do for a living, all right — it’s my livelihood. But it’s also my life. I couldn’t live without it.”

–Charles McGrath, New York Times

His wit and intellect are matched only by his prolificness (it’s a word!).  This piece from The Times had me remembering, wistfully, some of his greatest hits.

 

–As usual, Fareed Zakaria is on-point with an essay.  America has gotten a bit soft.

Conservatives used to believe in confronting hard truths, not succumbing to comforting fairy tales. Some still do. In a bracing essay in the right-wing National Review, Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and a politically active libertarian, describes how America has, well, gone soft. He notes that the economy hasn’t been performing well for decades and that median wages have been stagnating. He argues that the country’s innovation culture has begun to decay, corroded by a widespread search for “easy progress” and quick fixes. “In our hearts and minds,” Thiel writes,” we know that desperate optimism will not save us.”

–Fareed Zakaria, my favorite Indian-American after this man.

 

–A nice post on the challenges of mining relevant data in hockey analytics.

There are things we can do to tease out the impact that individual players make on the game. We know how important it is to have an edge in shots over your opposition. What we need to do is to come up with a way to start figuring out how to identify the players who create that and how they create that. The singles and doubles and triples of hockey. Soccer’s enjoying a bit of a tactics moment right now, with people like Jonathan Wilson and Michael Cox writing intelligently about tactics. They (in particular, Cox) are greatly helped by the data that’s available with respect to passes, average position on the field and such things.

–Hockey : Baseball as Michael Bay  : The Coen Brothers.  No offense intended–I love hockey, and have since I can remember.  But analytically speaking, there’s only so much to be done.

 

–Should I be concerned that I agree with the French when it comes to kids & ketchup?