Food trends. TV trends. Map trends. It’s a collection of trends in this week’s What I’ve Been Reading, the first of the new year.

  • Bonny Wolf of NPR predicts trends in cuisine for 2013. On the menu: vegetables and pan-Asian food. I guess putting soy sauce on everything is finally paying off for me!
  •  Jonathan Bolding of The Escapist reports on how Canadian scientists are developing a power plant that will drive turbines using…tornadoes? Yup, that’s right: tornadoes. Don’t worry. They’re not going to set this thing up in Kansas and try to capture passing tornadoes. Instead, the plant itself will generate a controlled tornado.
  • Simon Garfield of the Wall Street Journal tries to convince us that there’s something of value in getting lost, by examining trends in map-making over the course of history. Nowadays, it’s easy to get from Point A to Point B with the help of our smartphones. I don’t have a smartphone myself, but I think it’s a good thing that people can download Google Maps onto their mobile devices. Getting lost might be interesting for a few minutes, but it wastes a hell of a lot of time.
  • Richard Cobbett of Eurogamer has a retrospective of the much-maligned espionage RPG, Alpha Protocol. Notwithstanding that the game got a lot of stuff wrong – and trust me, it was downright shambolic in places – it’s one of the few games that managed to make player choice feel less like a binary or ternary decision and more like a design element baked right into the game. Act dismissive towards a character, and people will react. Complete an operation guns blazing, and people will react. Ignore an objective, and people will react. There is no real good and bad, only consequences. I very much enjoyed my time with Alpha Protocol. True, the hacking minigames are awful. But the other terrible design elements are hilarious and often exploitable. If you’re in the mood for a slightly clunky RPG that respects player choice, then this is the game for you.
  • Finally, a dolphin trainer in Ukraine has trained a dolphin to crawl on land. You can watch a video of it here. Oh my God, IT’S HAPPENING.

Yes, I’m pretty convinced that dolphins will one day rule the world, seeing as I saw fit to link to that same Simpsons clip a few weeks ago. What do you think the over/under is on the number of days until I link to it again? Place your bets in the comments below.

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