Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Consumed: Walter Lewin, R. Scott Bakker, and Saint's Row The Third

Today the second and final of the "lost episodes" of the Consumed Podcast is up and available. It's our most eclectic mix of topics ever, and features one of my favorite pieces of media in years.

That media is Saint's Row the Third, a videogame from THQ and Volition. In many ways it is what ignorant people think Grand Theft Auto is: loud, crass, violent, anarchic and shameless. It pulls the rare trick of taking slews of potentially offensive material and turning them into something lovable; it's an open-world game so absurd that everyone I've shown it to has fallen in love with it. There's just no other game out there that has a giant purple stuffed bunny lashed to a whaling ship as a lure so a gang of drug-running luchadores can jump you. The podcast discussion gets particularly fun when we realize this game passes not only The Bechdel Test, but tests for representations of transgender characters.

On the more serious side, we also have two books to discuss. The first is R. Scott Bakker's The Darkness That Comes Before, a Fantasy novel that Max actually enjoyed for once. Bakker's philosophy and psychology makes us question recent trends in characters who know or manipulate too much to remain believable, and the tenuous relationship between skepticism and religion worlds with bizarre and inscrutable events.

Lastly Nat provided us a copy of Walter Lewin's gorgeous For the Love of Physics, which may be the best science-advocate book I've read. If you haven't seen Lewin's energetic lectures on Youtube, then you should check them out (just as soon as you give our podcast a listen). He begs comparisons to Hawking, Sagan and Tyson, and we ponder what the best ways are to teach Physics, the science that seems to turn the most number of people giddy, while still scaring off so many others.

They are about as different as three topics could possibly get, and yet it's one of our best podcasts. A big pat on the back to Max for digging this one out of the archives and polishing it up. You can get the episode for free right here.

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