The New Old Gospel

In the past, I’ve expressed concerns about Scientism. It’s something I began to worry about a long time ago when the YouTube skeptics were bouncing about, making fun of Christians. I’ll also make it clear right now that I am not Christian despite preserving quite a few Christian values or maybe I preserve values that are shared by Christians.

Scientism, for those that don’t know, is this idea that we let “science” guide every aspect of our lives. In my eyes, it falls quickly to appeal to authority where “if this is published, it’s true” and in the past I’ve maintained that not only is this a REALLY bad idea, but that it’s not even science to begin with. I remember mentioning this with my criticism of Climate Change policy. Might’ve been one of my posts from 2015 or 2016 when I was somewhat supporting Senator Sanders’ bid for the presidency. However, the one issue I took with this sort of idea was that because climate scientists say X, we MUST do Y. There is no option. Thinking about today’s topic, I’m actually reminded of that line of thinking when it comes to the WuFlu outbreak. Where medical professionals say that wearing a mask reduces transmission, therefore mask mandates, close the stores, and in the words of the great Presidents from Madagascar and Greenland: SHUT. DOWN. EVERYTHING. I disagree with this type of policy because I find it to be very short-sighted.

In recent news, Elliot Page came out as transgender. OK. Honestly, don’t care too much. Actors can be whatever, in fact their entire job is pretending to be something they aren’t. But then I was reminded (by all of the social media crowd) that we MUST use the correct pronouns to refer to Elliot. That not doing so is rude and/or harmful. Then we have to look at these cases where people allegedly committed suicide because they felt the social pressure. Now, putting aside the fact that in a worst case scenario: If you claim that social ostracization causes suicide, but then say you’ll socially ostracize people who don’t conform to your standards because your standards prevent suicide which effectively results in you perpetuating the problem you’re claiming to solve… this got me thinking. Hold on, there are social terrorists with degrees. These subversive elements have positions that dictate policy in universities and some science publications. These people… control the scientific literature. Or at least have some not insignificant impact.

Now we tie everything back to Scientism. Scientism is spreading throughout the United States, possibly the western world. Idk what the Eurochumps are doing but apparently they have their fair share of scientism too. Scientism’s “message” is conveyed to the world through scientific literature. Social terrorists have some power over the scientific literature. Therefore, Scientism will result in social terrorists being given great power in society.

Frankly speaking, I do not believe this to be a desirable end-state. I think the biggest hurdle is actually getting past the Scientism. Because people are always willing to accept the words from those they consider to be experts. Appeal to Authority might be a fallacy but it is human nature to recognize “OK, this guy has way more experience than me, I’m gonna trust what he says”. I’m not suggesting we should reject the experts either. Research is typically a problem that solves itself through peer-review, though some peer-review is more rigorous than others. However, I think people get caught up in single-variable analysis. We need to base public policy on more than just one factor. Obviously wildfires are bad, but one common strategy with wildfires is to let them burn in a controlled manner. This isn’t done because fires aren’t bad but because we’d rather a sorta bad fire than a really bad fire.

I think another thing is that we need to exercise more skepticism while at the same time stop trying to shut down skepticism as conspiracy theories. This is ironically one of the big failings of Scientism, in that most people seem to stop being skeptical, thus sorta defeating the point of science. If you’re not skeptical, you just have faith. And if you’re taking things on faith, it’s not science anymore is it. Conspiracy theories often fall victim to things like Occam’s razor, so I don’t know why people are so intent on shutting them down. Maybe you don’t think that there was enough time to count the 6 million votes. But maybe you’re just missing information. If people shut you down just for questioning, well, are you onto something real? The irony being that those most susceptible to conspiracy theories will probably be more vigorous if they’re shut down since the underlying basis tends to be Illuminati-level coverups. Frank and open discussion is always the best way to shut down conspiracy theories. Who knows, maybe the conspiracy theory is true after all.

Anyway, I just wanted to kinda vent my concerns about Scientism and the way it’s opened the door to social terrorists running our states. I’d really like very much for this not to be something I will be worrying about when I finally decide to raise offspring, so… let’s try to keep this in check guys. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

The New Old Gospel

Anime Standing

Steam

I don’t recall how I found this game but there’s a big meme with my friend tK about how he likes Death Stranding (the first ‘Strand-type’ game). This game is obviously a parody of that. It’s 69 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) cents. C’mon. You know you gotta. I completed the story missions within an hour so we’re just going to do a review that details my experiences as I’m going through.

The game opens with a cutscene. Grill reading a poem while we watch fish swim everywhere. OK. Something about explosions ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) It’s not clear when the cutscene ends since it seems like you can just watch the fish swim forever. Not kidding, I waited on this cutscene for like 5 minutes after the grill had stopped talking and it was still going. So I pressed a button to end the cutscene, into the game. You wake your scantily-clad anime grill up in the pouring rain in a lightning storm. The game gives you no hints on how to proceed. Says “Grab what you can (there’s nothing around you) and go”. So you quickly figure out that the usual WASD is the way to go and move out. You see some boxes, pick ’em up, and go. Mission complete.

Now you’re tasked with going to another facility. You walk or run. Have fun. Now, I actually wound up buying the DLC version since the bundle came out to about 200 yen. And this means I get messages + a hovercar. The messages are everywhere outside the first facility (and every facility tbh). In most games like Dark Souls, they’re just on the ground and have no real physical form, they just have a range in which you can trigger their read state. Not here. No sir. They’re floating spheres that your character and your cars can bump into. Yup. Have fun with that.

I decided to take the hover car and managed to flip it upside-down within a minute. What a fun DLC. I couldn’t find a way to flip it back over either. So I wound up having to walk the rest of the way anyway.

Mission 2: Push a barrel to the first facility. OK. Let me get this straight. We start off with picking up boxes and walking. Second mission is push a barrel? Over mountains? With this physics engine? Lol? So I set out and the other facility is only like 800m away so whatever, let’s just push through this. So I start pushing, and we’re going up a mountain. Whoops, there’s a little crevice that my barrel fell into and there it goes. Feels good to lose 200m of progress. Twice.

The movement controls aren’t that good either. You have two speeds. Sonic and piss all. Pushing the barrel will require the piss all speed because Sonic speed is just going to have you chasing the barrel more than pushing it. What felt like an eternity later, we get the barrel to the destination safely.

Third mission, carry a body. OK. Get the body, on my back. OK. Let’s go out the door… whoops. She hit her head and now she’s separated from the player character. And believe you me, the game DOES NOT like that. The camera is spazzing out. I think it’s trying to sorta center in the effective center of mass. The problem with this is that my character is still running off while the body I’m carrying is still in the facility. So the camera seems to be trying to place me all over the place. It eventually calms down, a short walk later, mission complete.

Fourth mission, grab a message (we never see the message) and drive the car to the next facility. Honestly, driving the ground car is a lot of fun. Reminds me a bit of the Mako in Mass Effect. It has that rubber buggy baby bumper feeling. The mission is simple enough and completed within minutes.

Last mission has me drive (I think I was supposed to walk) to a reception tower to press a prompt and boom. Game finished. No I am not kidding. I did all of that within an hour.

Making deliveries grants you ‘likes’. These likes can be used to unlock gravure images in the gallery. They’re nothing spectacular. I’ve played a lot of H-games that have better galleries than this. And there are only 5 images so it doesn’t take long.

Honestly, this game is not worth your time. It’s not worth the money. I will admit, I went into this expecting garbage. I found garbage. Everyone’s expectations were fulfilled and we killed an hour of time. But I don’t want you to subject yourself to this kind of torture. Find something else to spend your money on. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt.

Anime Standing

What’s the deal with gamers?

I’ll just say upfront that yes, the title is a little inflammatory. So let’s first talk about where this blog post’s inspiration comes from.

I see this often in social media, sometimes in news articles when someone like Dungeons and Dragons decides to update their rules. One such example is when Dungeons and Dragons removed negative racial traits from Dungeons and Dragons. These rule changes are often justified in the vein of social progress. In the case of the aforementioned Dungeons and Dragons rule change, these rules “reflect previous comments by the Dungeons & Dragons team that promised better representation and a movement towards giving the player characters individualism as opposed to forcing them to fit within cultural stereotypes within the game’s lore”. Long standing fans sometimes raise an outcry to such rule changes. These outraged fans are then accused of “Gatekeeping”. However, nowhere does ‘Gatekeeping’ seem to be applied than around the label of ‘gamer’. Why do alleged ‘gamers’ feel the need to gatekeep? Well, I have a few feelings about ‘gamers’, ‘gatekeeping’, and the application of these terms. So here we are.

Gatekeeping

Let’s start with ‘Gatekeeping’. What is ‘Gatekeeping’ and why do we care? While the dictionary definition will give you the rough idea, I think it’s better to use its Urban Dictionary definition since that’s really what we’re talking about.

Gatekeeping: When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.

Urban Dictionary (2012)

In the case of Dungeons and Dragons, the “Gatekeeping” is the “correct” way to play your selected race. In the case of “gamers” however, it’s who gets to be a “real gamer”.

It’s no secret by now that typically, there’s a PC / Console / Mobile divide in the way of the gaming community. There’s a reason we have a PC Master Race meme. Where this runs into the way of gaming, well, I think it has everything to do with the criticism of a report from a couple years ago. Before we go any further, I want to note that I won’t be contesting the results of the study cited here. The data is what it is and for what it’s worth, I do believe it provided an insight into the evolving mobile gaming landscape. But these sorts of articles often cause some controversy. The short version is:

  • An article will be published stating that 50%+ of gamers are women
  • A common criticism was that these gamers were playing primarily mobile games
  • People who play only mobile games aren’t really “gamers”.

Thus, the ‘Gatekeeping’ accusations began. “Who were these men gamers to decide who is and who isn’t really a gamer? Who gave them the power? Why do mobile gamers not count? Why do they even care?” Well aren’t you lucky to have me here because by the end of this post, we’ll have answered these questions. I happen to be something of a gamer myself, so I have the secret inside knowledge that is apparently getting lost in translation. So let’s move on to question #1.

Who decides who is a gamer?

Honestly, this is a pretty nice question by itself. I think this is the main source of the debate. If we could all agree on what a gamer is, we could solve all of these problems. The important thing to note, however, is that the gamer definitions being argued over are two completely different definitions. There is ‘gamer’, someone who plays video games, and ‘gamer’ as in a person who’s defined through their hobby of playing video games. I am using video games for this definition. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of like, an avid Blue Marble player being defined as a gamer or an avid chess player being defined as a gamer. If you are, sorry, we can try to expand my hypothesis here in a different post. Back to this though.

I’m not terribly interested in arguing over whether or not mobile gamers are gamers. I’m only stating what I believe the impasse is. That there’s a disagreement over what counts as a gamer.

Who gave them that power?

In general, the gaming community did. You can disagree with this idea of gamers granting gamers the power to define gamers but that’s what happened. Language is defined by those who use it. For example, there’s a particular symbol that is common in Buddhism that means “Peace”. I don’t know if Google Maps will still do this by the time you read this article but if you zoom in on particular shrines in Japan, this symbol will appear. This particular symbol was reversed and rotated 45 degrees by the German National Socialist party in the 1930’s-1940’s. You know the one.

I sometimes see this symbol while driving. It’s used to say “Shrine this way”. However, I would bet good money people would be a little disturbed if they went to Japan and saw this symbol and how common it is. Yes, it’s vastly different, sharing only the pinwheel pattern but to the western mind with almost nothing else to compare it to, we simply put default to what we already know. Why is that? Because language is a mutual exchange and these symbols carry the meaning in the mind of the speaker and the observer. Sometimes there’s a mismatch between these meanings, and we call these “miscommunications”. But to have productive dialogue, we all need to agree on what the terms are and what they mean.

I’m not currently in the position to go into a crowd (because they don’t exist lol, thanks China) but when the United States opens up proper again I might do this for a follow-up. I think if you tell people that you’re a gamer, and you ask them to guess what games you play I don’t think too many people are going to guess the name of a mobile game. If you ask someone to name video games, I think they’ll quickly go to console or PC games when they’re generating their mental list. I believe this sort of sets the idea of society’s expectations when it comes to what a gamer plays and what a video game is.

Where I’m going with all of this is that there’s nothing that says mobile gamers can’t be gamers, but you have to make your way into the gaming community’s parlance. Even if you managed to convince society at large that mobile gamers are gamers, if you are unable to convince the other gamers of this, all you will have done is create a separate gaming category (which was already recognized by the way) of ‘mobile gamers’.

Naturally, these articles are directed at industry, they’re directed at community at large. Even if these articles are successful at penetrating and being accepted by the general community, that’s not a guarantee that they’ll be accepted by the gaming community. The fact that this debate is still ongoing and that people are still arguing about it shows that the gaming community as a whole has not settled on an answer. Which brings us to today.

Why do mobile gamers not count?

In my view, some do. People get tied up in this idea in that it’s the games that matter. So now that FFVII or Call of Duty are on mobile, we can’t call these mobile gamers casuals or something. I do not believe this idea that it’s the games that are available themselves that define the gamers but again, someone who is defined through their hobby of playing video games.

I have poor posture and my back often hurts. When my back hurts, I often lie down. But I still want to do SOMETHING so I usually open up a mobile game. While surfing the play store, I’ve noticed a few trends about the games that seem to populate the game store.

The type of games I find most often on the store tend to be what I consider ‘timekiller games’. You might be saying that all games are ‘timekiller games’ but I would disagree. The most popular games (even per that article I mentioned earlier) tend to be puzzle or idle games. These are games that can be played and completed within a matter of minutes. This is where it gets important. They are not designed to be played persistently. These games often have real-world time constraints (basically they’ve become modern arcade machines). They are minimally interactive. For many games, they seem to be designed to be played when you’ve got 10-20 minutes on the bus or train to and from work. They have a minimal story (if any). I think in the minds of gamers, these games “do not count” because it’s hard to say that your hobby of playing video games is defined through the time that you’re not playing the game (which is necessary to continue playing the game). Granted, you could just put the quarter in, get your lives back, and get back to it. But in my experience, most people just wait. They don’t spend the dollar to get their 5 lives back or their energy refill or whatever.

Ironically, it’s here where we get to the ‘EVE Online’ problem. For those that don’t know (and maybe it’s not there anymore, idk) EVE has a button where you can press it and improve your character based on time not spent playing. I think what saves EVE however is its competitive nature. For this reason, I do think people who play competitive mobile games should be considered “gamers”. If you’re primarily playing your clicker game, I don’t think you’d fit the definition of “gamer” due to the limited interactive elements, often a limited story, and typically a lack of a competitive element. To bring us back to my first description, you’re tapping a screen purely to kill time, rather than due to this investment in gaming as a hobby. If it helps, consider the following:

Suppose we replaced your smartphone with a piano. On the way home from work you pressed keys on the piano. It’s the same thing, right. You’re monotonously pressing a button again and again for points (in the case of the piano, the sound of notes) but the objective isn’t to reach a goal. It’s mindless. Just like I think you’d be hard-pressed to convince audiences at large that you’re a musician, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to convince someone to believe you’re a gamer based on this similar interaction. If you try to claim the label ‘gamer’ under such pretenses, gamers are likely to see you as a leech. As someone trying to claim the label because it’s another label to have rather than because it’s something you do.

So the short version, and I’ll say it again: It depends on what games you’re playing on your phone (in my opinion). I don’t think my opinion is terribly unorthodox.

Why do the ‘gamers’ care?

Why do gamers care what we define gamers as? I can’t say for certain why gamers care, I can only offer my personal perspective and again, I don’t think I’m a terribly unorthodox gamer. I hope in by sharing these perspectives that I can get you to understand why we care about it.

First of all, you’re mucking around with the word we use to define ourselves. Imagine trying to change what a Christian is, and expand its definition to something that Christians don’t agree with. But instead of checking with the Christians, you decided to publish your article, “Turns out, X% of Christians are Y”. The Christians will be like, “Who decided that? Based on what I’ve seen from Y, Y doesn’t believe in God. Y doesn’t believe in the Trinity. How on Earth can you define them as Christians?” You’re tell people that people Christians typically don’t believe are Christians are Christians. This dilutes the label “Christian” and when you’ve built a part of your identity around “Christian”, you don’t typically take kindly to it being diluted.

Maybe you don’t think of what you’re trying to do as “diluting” the gamer label. More gamers is better, right? Well by definition that’s diluting the label so you definitely are diluting the label. But more gamers, is that better? This brings us to point number two. The baggage that comes with the label of gamer.

Most readers should be old enough to remember this and vestiges of it still continue to this day. If you’re around the age of 30 or older, you should remember the “Satanic Panic” and the “Religious Right” which dominated media for a good part of the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. If you don’t, I’ll remind you.

Many parts of popular culture at the time were deemed elements of Satanism or some kind of devilry. Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and even the metal music genre were often attacked by prominent figures as being gateways to drugs, crime, and devil worship.

I know I said we’re talking about ‘gamers’ as in ‘people who are invested in the hobby of playing video games’ but I feel justified in using this comparison because gamers are the time were part of the afflicted groups.

The one I remember the most was this myth spread around that if you play the Pokemon theme song backwards that it said “Hail Satan”. Now despite all of this, much of which we may have been too young to have even been aware of, we liked the things we liked. I remember getting up every morning at 6AM to rush downstairs and watch Pokemon. Pokemon was cool. I’ve got family members that can confirm that I was playing Pokemon before I knew how to read. Which is fine when you’re 8 years old. But when you’re a teenager, this can become something of a problem. In those days, gamers were ostracized due to a few things. Our peers at the time said these things were for kids. The news was saying that we were going to start carving up bodies using 6 knives to make 66 stab wounds and draw an upside-down pentagram on a person’s forehead.

So on one hand, we’ve got our peer group saying that we need to grow up. Sailor Moon is for little kids, not for 16 year-old boys. On the other hand, we’ve got our family worried that we’re rotting our brains. Fun fact: I was only allowed to play games because I kept my grades up, thus proving that if I were rotting my brains, I was at least, still smarter than everyone else in my class. The news is always telling us that we’re bad people and that we’re bound to commit some crimes. With all this pressure, we’re looking at ourselves and the games we like and we’re just not seeing it. I have no problems distinguishing between reality and games. I don’t think I’m going to start killing rabbits just because my Mewtwo was nuking Nidoran in Route 2. The only people we could find friendship in were people that shared our interests. Because everyone outside these interests was pretty dead set on us being damaged in some way or another. So we gamers grouped up. We talked online, we formed bonds with each other.

Years pass, the religious right has fallen, we’re in the 2010’s now and gaming is mainstream. Anime is becoming mainstream if it isn’t already mainstream due to streaming services. Gamers are seeing the future they wished for achieved. Now the problem comes in because they’re seeing the people that bullied and belittled them appreciate gaming. “Why didn’t you tell me how deep and intricate Pokemon battling (Yes I’m using Pokemon a lot, that was my game) was? I had no idea it was this difficult!” And the answer is “I FUCKING DID TELL YOU BUT YOU CALLED ME A LOSER AND TOOK STACY TO THE MOVIES!”. So gamers, seeing ‘normies’ years later finally ‘get it’, while mildly satisfying, doesn’t undo the years of hardship gamers endured, some of which at the hand of ‘normies’.

What I’m getting at here is that the label of ‘gamer’ comes with some baggage. Seeing it ‘opened up’ has an element of what we in America call ‘Stolen Valor‘. I don’t know if this concept exists outside of America. ‘Stolen Valor’ is when people claim credit for military accomplishments that they did not earn. This is a mockery and a great disrespect to those who do earn these accomplishments. In the United States, it’s a big deal. The United States military is 100% volunteer. The United States does not enforce any kind of mandatory service. While men are still required to sign up for the draft, this is likely the result of existing legislation that has yet to be taken down after some 50 years since the Vietnam War. To us, those who join the military answer a different calling, a calling some of us would only be willing to do as a last resort. A dangerous job, which has eternally scarred so many families throughout history. And to claim you were part of that when you didn’t put yourself on the line like the others is just supremely disrespectful that I will say that I personally think it’s up there with some of the worst non-violent offenses you could possibly commit.

So some gamers might see the ‘normie’ who bullied them in you as you try to claim the label of gamer, justly or not. That’s a personal issue, I’ll admit. But the point is to help you get where this pushback is coming from. We walked through hell to get here while you show up at the finish line for free.

Conclusion

So we answered all of the questions we had originally proposed. I hope you can now understand where gamers are coming from when it comes to who is a gamer and who is not. I hope you can now understand why there’s so much pushback against some of these articles. And again, I think if the articles were more willing to use a nuanced approach rather than saying “Well, if you play any video game you’re a gamer” then it’d be easier to meet the gaming community outside mobile games on some common ground. I guess that’s all I had to say here. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

What’s the deal with gamers?

On the topic of “canon”

Canon is important. The canon is what people care about when they’re talking about a work of fiction. I recently wrote about criticism of media and one media I often criticize is Star Wars. Specifically, I criticize the sequel trilogy featuring Rey Palpatine (or Skywalker, whatever floats your boat). Now it’s obvious that these movies are widely divisive. One of the most common criticisms (one that I personally abide by) is that it is incredibly destructive to the Star Wars canon. But the new movies are canon, right? So how can canon be destructive to itself? Some Star Wars fans have gone so far as to say that it’s so destructive to the Star Wars canon, you have to completely separate it from the canon that Lucas established. But this presents an interesting question to me. What conditions are necessary to establish “canon”? Let’s continue.

Canon

What is canon? What are we even talking about here? Normally I would go to Merriam-Webster but they’ve kinda thrown their credibility down the drain by literally ninja-updating definitions. So we’re going to use the Wikipedia and hope for the best. For what it’s worth, I find the definition to be somewhat incomplete but that’s OK, it should work for today’s post.

In fiction, canon is the material accepted as officially part of the story in the fictional universe of that story.

– Wikipedia

They do note this idea of splitting canon (particularly in the case of Star Wars) but that’s not what we’re here for today. Basically, there’s this idea of a fictional universe. The structures that make up that universe make up its canon. There’s nothing that states that newly introduced structures cannot contradict prior structures. The question is, how we deal with those. Typically, the justification is “the author forgot” (Why was every Uchiha in the past capable of using Izanagi despite it requiring the chakra of the Sage of Six Paths?). We refer to these as “retcons” and people don’t like them very much. If you think of the canon as the “rules”, people don’t like the introduction of “new rules” by surprise or the breaking of old rules without proper justification.

Why does canon matter?

It is my view that the reason works of media are hailed is because of the rules of their universe and how they consistently stay within those rules. Death Note is a perfect example of this. In Death Note, the rules were introduced to the reader incredibly early in the series. Every action that was taken, we knew how it should play out and it was up to the parties involved to make their reaction. The consequences had their conclusions made known to us. Kira demonstrates his ability to kill seemingly anyone. L has a Lind L. Taylor pose as L to see if Kira would kill him. Kira does. This demonstrates that given a name and a face, Kira can kill anyone. This occurred live, so Kanto saw Kira’s power firsthand. This proves Kira is real. L then challenges Kira to kill him. Kira cannot, for he knows neither L’s name nor face. On live television, L challenges Kira to do something that we know he can’t do but that L can only guess that he cannot do. L lives and the cat and mouse game begins.

While theatrical, I sometimes wonder if it would’ve been better to have Lind L. Taylor’s challenge pre-recorded, but now I’m wandering off into the weeds. The point is, we know the rules and the interesting thing with Death Note is seeing how the rules are utilized to create fascinating situations.

My view is that THIS is what people are looking for when they are talking about fictional canon. This is why canon is so important. If the audience doesn’t know the rules, they can’t engage with the media meaningfully and it just becomes pictures on a screen or words in a book. We cannot invest ourselves and put our brains to work in a meaningful way because we don’t know if the rules are always going to be the rules or if there are going to be new rules which open up some can of BS that throws everything out the window. Think about it like this: when the canon is inconsistent, for the viewer, it’s like trying to take a test on mathematics but receiving history questions in the second half of the test. You had no way of being prepared or even guessing the power so it’s not a fair test.

The Star Wars Canon Question

Star Wars has a series of canons since Star Wars is a very old series with a very long history and a very long series of questions. When most people talk about Star Wars canon, they’re specifically talking about the movies and in some cases The Clone Wars animation. While there was a bit of a hubbub when Disney said the EU (now “Star Wars Legends”) are not canon but I don’t think the average Star Wars fan was particularly involved in things like the Thrawn novels and whatnot. If you don’t want to consider them fans, whatever, that’s your choice.

So Disney takes their cake and eats it too and creates a few Star Wars films. Question now becomes, are these films canon? That brings us to the question I am interested in for this blog post.

Where does canon derive legitimacy?

I think this is an interesting question because it’s really where this whole mess stems from. If we could answer this question, we could neatly settle all of the other questions.

The answer should be obvious right? License. If it is licensed, it’s canon, right? Well, no. License is permission from the holder of an IP to produce derivative works. However there’s no requirement such that all derivative works must be consistent with all other derivative works. Or at least there need not be. Sometimes the IP holder accepts these derivative works as canon (Elite: Dangerous comes to mind) and sometimes they don’t. So license is not the best place to derive legitimacy. Otherwise we’re gonna have a real fun time opening the box known as Touhou.

What about the IP holder? From a market perspective, this one makes the most sense. If I own Jesus Bejesus and I sell Jesus Bejesus to Disney, I can no longer legally create and market Jesus Bejesus products without running into some legal issues. Especially if my stuff is more popular than Disney’s product. If I cannot legally create and sell media for an IP, do I have any control over the canon? If I control the IP, I control the market for that IP, and all changes would have to go through me.

What about the creator? So this also runs into that IP holder issue but there’s a separate issue of the creator dying and the IP entering public domain. Does the canon’s addition end with the death of its creator. Well yes, for that specific creator but what about others that may have been working with the creator? If I die but my assistant continues the story, gets their own assistant, dies, and that assistant keeps the torch burning, is all of our work canon?

I think this is why audiences split the canon up. It’s a nice way to solve all of these issues at once. If we just agree that we’re talking about these rules we don’t have to start rules lawyering your claims about Luke being strong enough to suppress black holes and whatnot.

And it’s for this reason that I tend to lean on the idea of the audience controlling what is canon with a mutual understanding that the one creating the stories, while in control of the story, is on watch. Audiences can accept or reject your canon as “true canon” and move on with or without you. After all, if no one is discussing your work, is it really canon? There’s an obvious problem with the audience getting to pick and choose because the audience isn’t one being. It’s a bunch of people with their own rules and biases. But it is my view that the strongest canons, the canons that will persist and be enjoyed and discussed and contributed to long after their creator’s death are the ones that are best constructed. A “Survival of the fittest” in a kind of way. In a way, this makes the Bible one of the strongest canons I know about. Are all religions simply really well-made and persistent canons? That’s a topic for another day!

Anyway, I guess that’s all I had for today’s post. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

On the topic of “canon”

Misconceptions in Media Criticisms

This is one I have to grapple with a lot. Now I’ve stopped doing video and movie reviews because I don’t have the time and I’ve been developing my art/Japanese skills. But I’m still fairly active on social media and I still voice my opinion on particular pieces of media that I’m familiar with. The obvious example is Star Wars. I get pretty hard pushback which eventually comes down to “That’s just like, your opinion man”. So let’s all take a breather and go through the common misconceptions of quality in media.

Money != Quality

I can’t believe we have to go through this but here we go. The amount of money spent and earned by a particular piece of media is not an indication of whether it is of high quality. I’m going to use games for this example but in general the principle applies.

The amount of money earned by a game is determined by the number of copies it sells. The amount of copies it sells is based on many things, but let’s just use advertising. Obviously reviews matter but you need to sell copies to get reviews (or at least you’re SUPPOSED to purchase and play the game before reviewing) so we’ll discount them for the example. Once you purchase the game, you typically don’t refund it if you’re dissatisfied (for most people it’s too much of a hassle or a used game cannot be refunded for full value, yadda yadda). So now that you’ve purchased the game you’re stuck with it like it or not. So assuming two games A and B of different qualities sell the same number of copies for the same price through the same distributor, they will earn the same amount of money despite being of different qualities. Q.E.D.

Consensus!= Quality

I get this one the most. If a lot of people like something then surely it’s good right? Now there is some basis for this kind of argument. If a lot of people enjoy The Godfather, a lot of people enjoy The Lord of the Rings, a lot of people enjoy Game of Thrones. If a lot of people like these things, then surely there’s something in there. Even if people don’t know what it is, you can understand that there’s something which provides this quality. Ironically, this is why reboots/remakes/references often fail. Because they tried to emulate that thing people liked but misunderstood what that thing was.

The simplest example could be Legend of Korra. Korra is Katara if they turned the aggression up to 11. Katara was always fairly gentle and motherly. It’s her main trait. This is why when she does go full BAMF, it’s so effective. Korra on the other hand is always going full BAMF. She doesn’t seem to understand what it is to be gentle and the writing for the show in general doesn’t attempt to create the gap. The beauty is in the gap and how it’s evoked.

Anyway, back on topic. You don’t need to know how to create fire or what fire is to understand that it’s warm and it can cook your food. So this argument that a lot of people liked or even the reverse argument, that because a lot of people dislike a piece of media that the media is good or bad. What it means is that some number of people believe that the media is good or bad. How did they reach this conclusion. The devil is in the details. We’ll talk more about that later.

Reviews as a metric

A lot of people like to use reviews on their favorite websites as a meter for whether a movie is good or bad. This has several problem. The first is obviously that review bombing is a thing and even if you and I highly suspect that a review is part of a review bomb, it’s not fair to attribute reviews to a review bomb. Lots of people give a movie 10/10 because it pleases their political vision and a lot of people give a movie 1/10 because it flies in the face of their political vision. There are obvious cases of course (“1 Star because your director supported China”) but there are not so obvious cases (“1 star because you censored the movie to please China”). The distinction comes from the fact that media should be evaluated with the only piece of consideration being the media itself.

Anyway, in my view, using reviews to gauge whether media is good or bad is not a good metric anyway because the only way you can use this metric is if someone else has consumed the media and applied their own personal metrics to the media. It is my view that (again) media should be evaluated on their own merits, not the merits that someone else has ascribed to them. I should be able to evaluate the quality of media after consuming it myself and requiring no other information.

Outside Material

We’re seeing a lot of stuff here from my Star Wars debates but this is important to talk about because it comes up with anime reviews and game reviews as well. That is, the idea of a particular canon being required to appreciate the media “properly”. To sum it up briefly, the idea that you need to consume media outside the media under consideration to give it a “proper” rating. “You have to read the light novel to appreciate the movie” is an example of this. “This was explained in the novel”. I believe this argument is fundamentally flawed because this media is not always accessible and it’s not like the media says “Please consume this other thing before consuming this media”. It’s sometimes implied, in the way of prequel/sequel relationships. But what do you do if there is no clear way of understanding what’s a prequel and what’s a sequel? Star Wars: A New Hope was originally released without a number. Today we know it as Episode IV but what if it’s found 1000000000 years from now by alien archaeologists and they decide to watch it only to find later that there’s a Star Wars Episode I. Now they’re confused. “This one has no number, this one has the number I. Which one should be viewed first?” Even worse, should a completely different media be required.

Ultimately, while media can be appreciated differently if one has related knowledge, it shouldn’t be a requirement to consume and it shouldn’t be a primary factor in evaluation. I did something like this in my Minoria review (and only now do I realize I never posted it here) in that I analyzed Minoria as a stand-alone work but I did make a comparison to related media.

How should we evaluate media?

We need to establish an objective metric. Now hold on, before you go raging on your keyboard let’s talk for a moment. When I say objective here, I’m referring to a series of standards applied to media. Yes, reviews are my opinion but they can be objective in that I’ve applied a series of criteria to the media and “stayed within the rules” while evaluating them. Certainly one should be careful to choose an appropriate metric when applying it to particular media. If the focus of a game is the action, I tend to be more generous when giving it the thumbs up/thumbs down if the story is of poor quality because it’s not the focus on the media.

So you need to establish a series of criteria. This is where everything goes downhill when discussing things online. It is simply the truth that different people use different criteria and different people apply their criteria with a different weight. So when you’re discussing things online with someone who disagrees with you, you’re not really trying to get them to agree with you because the same data point can be a plus in your criteria and a minus in theirs at the same time. No, your objective is to get them to change their criteria and understand why your criteria is a better one for evaluating media.

How do you do this? Honestly, I don’t know. I am still trying to figure it out myself. Because this is where we run into the next big issue:

Criticism != Personal Attacks

In my opinion, this is probably the biggest one. Something I need you to understand and to get everyone to understand is that criticism of something you like isn’t a personal attack on you. It is imperative that you understand this. It is perfectly acceptable to like media that is bad. This is kind of the point of “So bad it’s good”. The idea that a media is so awful that one can enjoy not only in spite of this poor quality but due to this poor quality is the point.

I have a confession. I love Pacific Rim. I’ve always loved giant robots and seeing them come to life on the screen was big for me. But the movie has several inconsistencies. Some things just don’t make sense. The Chinese triplets control a mech with 3 arms because there are 3 people inside but generally the mech moves a corresponding body part. Since none of the triplets have a third arm, how do they control the third arm? It’s not explained in the movie, it’s taken as fact and sure, that’s OK. But it’s a glaring flaw in the face of how all other mechs in the movie seem to operate. I’m going to enjoy the movie anyway, because cool giant robot punching cool giant monsters is still really fucking cool.

If someone says to me, “Pacific Rim is a bad movie and here’s why” I wouldn’t feel personally attacked. “Oh, I enjoyed something with inconsistent writing, I guess I’m a moron”. I might disagree if they said using a container as brass knuckles wasn’t really cool but being cool is one of those things everyone has a different taste for. In terms of criteria, it would fall under “spectacle” and typically I don’t say media is good on terms of “spectacle” alone. In fact I’ve often said that despite all of the spectacle a media can be fairly hollow, and that if you want something more than spectacle, find a different title.

We really need to understand some common ground here. If someone says something you like is bad and then lists reasons of why and your only response is “Well, I liked it” that’s not a refutation. Your objective (if you want to change their mind) has to be to either refute their argument or convince them to change their criteria. In my experience, this has proven to be fairly difficult.

I guess the short version is: You’re allowed to like whatever you want to like. You liking (or disliking) something doesn’t make it a good or bad piece of media. Anyway, I guess that’s all I had to say. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Misconceptions in Media Criticisms

Ayyyy, it’s MVP SIMP!

I figure this isn’t going to be terribly enlightening for many of you but I just wanted to put the word out because I’m still seeing misinformation about what simps are and what it means to be one so I’m just gonna get this one off my chest and that’ll be that.

What isn’t a simp?

Before we get into what a simp IS, let’s first establish what a simp ISN’T. what A lot of people seem to think that a simp is just someone who gives money to ethots. This isn’t true. Giving money to an ethot is just a simptom (ha!) but isn’t necessarily a sign of being a simp. Example:

I have a friend I met online a couple months ago. She’s a regular streamer and I enjoy her streams. Sometimes I have an extra $5 at the end of the month so I might toss it her way just as a sort of thank you for providing entertainment. This is not simp behavior. It would be the same as me tossing Pewdiepie (whose videos I also enjoy) $5 every now and again or buying the merch. This is supporting a content creator you enjoy.

I remember there being a story a while ago about a female streamer who said she stalked her audience. I wouldn’t even describe her supporters as simps because in my mind these individuals are purchasing a product (her “abuse” of them) rather than her receiving money for the sake of it.

A simp isn’t someone who respects women. I will later put forth an argument that actually proposes the opposite. But it’s clear that a simp isn’t just someone who respects women because I know many people who respect women who feel no need to just toss money at the screen just because there’s a woman on it.

What is a simp?

Simply (Ha!) put, a simp is a troubled individual with no respect for anyone (even themselves) who seeks moments of self-gratification by engaging in behaviors in pursuit of acknowledgement of someone else. They are someone who has so little respect in others (specifically women in this case) that they see women as ego machines. Put a quarter in, get gratification out. And these people have so little respect for themselves that they seek this gratification in others, in strangers, sometimes at the cost of one’s own family, friends, and finances.

This isn’t limited to just money. Acts such as blindly defending an individual or a cause on the internet (in pursuit of acknowledgement) is also a form of simping, though we used to call it “White knighting”. And I’ll admit, in the past I would white knight. I think in those times I liked to believe I was looking for a greater good but I think what I was really looking for was the attention of female peers.

White Knights

Are people who appear to be white knights simps? Ehhhhhh, maybe. I think there are a few behaviors which will probably be called as as white knighting (and thus be called out as simping) which need not be white knighting nor simping. It’s fully possible for an individual to defend the actions or inaction of a woman because they believe in the woman due to a personal connection or believing in a witnessed history. If your friend was accused of disreputable action and you’ve known them for 10 years, yeah you’d probably defend them without thinking at first too. The key factor is whether or not they believe in the person or the cause because they believe in it or because they’re (again) seeking the acknowledgement of someone else.

So if I white knight my friend Riri because she’s my friend, it’s not simping. But if I white knight my friend Riri because I want her to say “Wow Artemis, you’re a good friend”, it is simping.

Addiction

I would even venture to say that this could even step into the realm of addiction as well. An addiction is a biopsychosocial disorder characterized by compulsively seeking to achieve a desired effect, such as intoxication, despite harm and adverse consequences to self and others (Wikipedia). Let’s examine the criteria:

1. Compulsively seeking a desired effect such as intoxication

This condition is satisfied by the good feeling these simps purport to feel after donating to their idol.

2. despite harm and adverse consequences to self and others

This condition is satisfied by putting themselves (and family, if they have one) into financial ruin. Maybe you live alone and you don’t mind eating ramen for a week to give xXStacyXx $40 but your body certainly will.

Conclusion

I think simps are in a tough spot mentally and they may not even know that they’re in a tough spot mentally. I think these people may need some kind of hobby. Something they can do to boost confidence in themselves. Some may need therapy, I would guess that there’s an underlying emotional/mental issue that’s causing this behavior.

Do they need to be shamed? No, I wouldn’t say that. But it is probably a good idea to point out that this behavior is destructive. I know people can be pretty mean about how they address simps in person and on the internet. I don’t think that’s beneficial. If you’re the simp and you get your moment of gratification by paying money to your idol and hearing your name read out and people abuse you for it, do you think you’d stop going to that streamer for that moment of gratification? If anything you might “simp harder” because now you’re feeling bummed about the abuse. I think abusive language towards simps may actually cause a simp to double down when clearly the behavior is to be discouraged.

To the simps

If you happen to be a simp or even think you might be a simp and you’ve made it this far I really want to thank you. I know it might be difficult to read what I’ve written here because it might feel like an attack. It’s not an attack. My message to you is the next time you go to give that streamer a dollar, the next time you about to hit ‘Send’ on that white knight response, think about why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. And whether or not it would matter to you if someone said “Thank you” or “You’re the best” after the exchange. If you are doing it for the praise, I recommend you stop. It’ll be OK. Find a hobby, find something else to take pride in. You’re better than this.

Thank you to everyone for reading and I’m sorry with all the somewhat serious stuff. Hope to see you again later.

Artemis Hunt

Ayyyy, it’s MVP SIMP!

Just a vent post about recent events. You know the ones.

A lot has happened recently and I have a lot of thoughts so I just thought I’d get them all out because this is a blog after all. That’s what we do in blogs right?

First, some mildly personal details. I am a millennial. I went to a liberal arts college for a degree in a physical science. I have a lot of millennial friends (predictably). Statistically, most of them will be left or left-leaning. I think Pew Research has my generation as being like 80% left-leaning. This isn’t a research post or anything so I’m not going to bother with sources here. If I’m wrong with the numbers, so be it. It’s not the point. Anyway, most of my friends are left-leaning. Shoot, I once dated a chick I think is an anarchist today. She might’ve been an anarchist back then too. She said some… troubling things to put mildly. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with being left-leaning or anarchist in it of itself. I’m just noting a trend here.

Oh yeah. Before we get into the main article, I should make my position known. I’m socially liberal and economically conservative. Weed lmao and lower taxes amirite?

Fast forward to today and I’m still friends with them on Facebook. We’ve all been very vocal about the protests and riots because the whole country has been very vocal about the protests and riots. My position is fairly simple. What happened to George Floyd was an avoidable horror. I hope the officers responsible for it go to jail for a very long time. There are a list of reforms that I think would be beneficial for the police. Rioting and looting is wrong. Throwing explosives into cop cars doesn’t result in meaningful change. However, I seem to have found myself on the opposite side to that of my friends. Sorta, they’ve flipped a few times. Let me explain:

First, my friends said that the riots were justified. I tried to explain to my friends that rioting isn’t helpful. They said that the riots were an expression of grief, the “voice of the unheard”, and the means to an end. I disagreed and I disagreed with the justification. Then some word gets out that the riots may have been instigated by undercover cops or far-right individuals. So now my friends have flipped their script! Now the riots are bad. They have nothing to do with the protests. They’re just the results of right wingers trying to undermine the movement. It’s black propaganda now. But my friends don’t want to walk back their prior comments. So they still maintain their prior justification. The riots aren’t wrong because rioting is wrong, the riots are wrong because the wrong people are doing them. I don’t see why we can’t all agree that rioting is bad no matter who does it.

Second: The police. One more full disclosure here: my father is a police officer, so I may be a little biased. That said, I don’t think my position has any bias in it. So the riots have spread over the country and even over some continents. We live in the age of the smartphone camera. So all of these protests are being filmed. They’re being filmed from multiple angles with multiple cameras. And yes, there has been some very terrible footage to come out of these protests and riots. Now I am a skeptical person by nature. I am usually willing to entertain even some of the more unusual ideas. So when I see stories like “someone did this” I usually ask the question “what came before”. My skepticism is probably even more intense nowadays due to the polarized state of the United States. The left-right divide is so big I have to exercise more caution than usual and cross reference more than I feel should be necessary.

So one of my friends posts a short, maybe 10 second clip of the protests. It’s not their post, they shared it from someone else. The caption said something like “The police officer was fearing for his life, right?” In this video we see what is presumably a police officer and four or five people. Three people are on their knees, the others are standing with signs. In this clip, the person we assume to be the cop attempts to spray something right in the faces of the three people on their knees. The obvious conclusion the OP wants you to come to is that the cops are macing people for no reason. I had a few questions about the clip and I proposed an alternative hypothesis. Maybe the presumed cop was actually spraying water or some counteragent to a riot control agent to help the afflicted individuals. I never claimed to know what happened. I wasn’t there and neither was the person who filmed it (it was filmed from like a fourth-floor apartment). I just think that in these times people are very quick to come to a conclusion and asking a few questions just to make sure we’re not jumping too fast is healthy to public discourse. The reaction I got was… mixed. The friend who posted it was willing to entertain my hypothesis and that’s great, that’s why I posted it in the first place. Naturally others posted their opinions, some got a bit more into the ACAP territory but you get what you get I suppose. My concern here is that I find my friends are so willing to believe a video and a caption. I think that that’s dangerous and I think my friends have been caught up. I think they’ve been swept up in their emotions and their political leanings that they’re not always willing to hear a different perspective. I appreciate the main friend here because they really were engaging with me honestly. But most of my friends don’t seem willing to offer such a courtesy.

Last one here for this post: #DefundThePolice. So this was another interesting one that I saw play out in real time in front of me. This is going to be a bit more in line with that first anecdote I shared. When #DefundThePolice was trending, many of my friends were quite onboard with it and many of them still are. I’m not going to use the slogan but as I mentioned earlier, there probably is some argument in that funds designated for police use may not be being used efficiently. Maybe that money could be better spent elsewhere. Maybe where that money goes in the police could be shifted around for better results. Again, from the outset I was willing to entertain reducing the amount of funds the police have but I was worried that #DefundThePolice really meant #AbolishThePolice. We saw #AbolishICE earlier from a similar crowd of individuals. They didn’t walk that one back, #JustSaiyan. I raised my concerns of course and my friends assured me “no, no. Not abolish the police. We want to move funds to things like schools and hospitals”. Again, I don’t do slogans so I wasn’t down with it. This is where things get somewhat funny. The other day my friends started posting that we need to stop using #DefundThePolice. Why? Because it really did mean #AbolishThePolice and they wanted to change the slogan. Turns out most people thought #DefundThePolice meant #AbolishThePolice and that wasn’t polling well. So now we need to change the slogan.

As always, I think they could have avoided having a week of posts about #DefundThePolice that they now have to delete (or just leave up I guess) had they just exercised a little bit of skepticism. What does #DefundThePolice really mean. Who is pushing it. Why are they pushing it. But this is why the slogans are dumb. The labels are dumb. But the labels are also powerful. This is why it’s hard to get people to realize that you can oppose BLM because they promote things you disagree with but you can still be perfectly fine with black people. You can oppose BLM and not be a racist.

I don’t do the slacktivism thing. It’s June. My pfp is still me in a suit. No I’m not changing it. No I don’t have any problems with gay people. Yes I have allegedly gay friends but I’ve never thought of them as “My gay friends”.

Can I get tinfoil for a moment? Tinfoil time: I think slacktivism, or at least as it’s being used in the western world is a headcount. I don’t think that by doing slacktivism that you’re on a particular team. I think there are political actors that are using slacktivism to sort of gauge where people stand. It’s not that by doing slacktivism you’re on the team, rather than you’re showing your sympathies for a team. And when SHTF, prior slacktivism may indicate where you might side. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with slacktivism itself, I’m not going to do it. I don’t care if you do it. And a cynical side of me thinks that it’s being used for nefarious ends.

So where are we now. I don’t know. I’m still worried about my friends. I think that this tribalism issue we have in the United States is severe. A solution of course is for me to silently do nothing. To not voice my opinions when I have problems with my friends supporting things like violent riots. I don’t think this is a good solution. I don’t think I should bite my tongue because my friends are doing something I think is wrong. And I think it is a bad friend or even someone who is not a friend to be silent when your friends are doing what you think is a sin. I think my friends are being swept up in some emotional movement. I think my friends are signing up for more than what they think they’re signing up for. I think they should use a little more skepticism when someone comes to them with things like this. If my friends are signing up for it and they know it’s that’s OK. I don’t particularly mind nor care what political affiliation my friends have. I said before that I have very few if any friends who are not left or left-leaning despite my views probably being more of a libertarian-right individual. I think that despite disagreements we can enjoy the company of each other, enjoy the same hobbies, talk with each other and just be good friends. I like to think that I chose my friends because they’re good people and not because we both liked former President Obama. And I like to think that my friends feel the same way. I like to think that they wouldn’t be willing to terminate a friendship over disagreements like this. And I’ve been wrong a few times. Several times. This is exceptionally bad because it reminds me of cult behavior. When you’re in a cult you have to either convert or excise the outsider. And I can’t help but feel this emotional movement they’re possibly being swept up in is a cult. And I think it’s a large cult that can really affect the trajectory of the United States.

I don’t make friends very quickly. I’m quite the introvert. Every friend I lose, every friend that breaks it off with me I feel more intensely than I would probably like. And I guess my last worry here is for myself of course but I’ll say it anyway. I need to get my words out. Sometimes I worry that because I’m libertarian that the Overton window will shift past me and that my left and left-leaning friends will abandon me. Because I’m the outsider, right? And this is like 90-95% of my very few friends. I’m not going to join beliefs I don’t agree with because then I’ve killed myself. I’ve killed Artemis Hunt. I’m not going to be silent either because I think my friends are better than this. And I’m not going to stop talking to my friends because I believe that discussion is the way to change minds and rescue people. So what do I do?

I think I’m done here. If you made it this far, thank you. If you came from Twitter, I don’t have access to my Twitter account anymore due to not having the phone number I used to make it anymore. If you want to contact me, you can comment or email me. I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Just a vent post about recent events. You know the ones.

Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

About a year or two ago I really go into Touhou. I think it started when I was speedrunning a game called Touhou Luna Nights. It’s a fun game, a fangame, and it’s a “search action game”. I like it, you should buy it, maybe speedrun it with the rest of us. We were in AGDQ 2020. None of that’s really important for the topic for today, just my musings on where it all began for me. Anyway, I dug into Touhou a bit. The music’s really bangin and I was already aware of a few tunes, even if I didn’t know that they were Touhou. One example is Phantom Ensemble.

Many of the characters are quirky and fun so everyone has to have at least one 2hu waifu. Mine is Parsee Mizuhashi (and yes we’re gonna use ZUN art)

Parsee Mizuhashi is a hashihime, a bridge guardian. Ain’t she the cutest thing? She guards the bridge between the surface and the underworld. Simple enough. Without going too deeply into lore, 2hus have some kind of magic power. Let’s see if you can guess what Parsee’s power is by seeing the names of some of her spellcards.

  1. Green-Eyed Monster
  2. Grandpa Hanasaka
  3. Tongue-Cut Sparrow

So, if you’re not familiar with Japanese fairy tales you probably won’t get it from either of the last two. Basically, these spellcards’s names reference jealousy. Grandpa Hanasaka is about a guy who kills his neighbor’s dog for jealousy, Tongue-Cut Sparrow is about a sparrow whose tongue is cut by a man’s wife because she felt that her husband was spending too much time with the sparrow. Presumably, you know that the color of envy is green so in English we say that you have “Green eyes” if you’re jealous of something or someone. Her power is to control the jealousy in others.

How did we get here though? Well, she guards the bridge. Her job is to remain stationary while she watches others pass through. This is a pretty understandable feeling for anyone whose seen their friend succeed while you feel like you’re not progressing at all. Over time these feelings turned to resentment.

Her stage music is called ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross‘. Why they no longer cross it I do not know and I didn’t find anything in the Touhou wiki telling me why so I choose to believe she may not being the best job (or an exceptionally good job) in guarding the bridge. But the only thing we need here is that she’s guarding a bridge that no one crosses. In short, she’s lonely.

The pieces are now coming together, now we need to get to what I feel from her boss music. This boss music is crucial. It tells the story of her descent into madness. Now the music is designed to sorta loop so we’ll have to take this on a piece-by-piece basis.

The first bit is until the drums really come in (not what I think are snares that are consistently playing, the bigger ones that play on off beats). Basically, the melodic introduction. It sounds sad to me. It’s utilizing alberti bass (utilizing six 8th notes) to complement the piece, which is why I choose to interpret this as 3/4 since I feel like if it were in 6/8 it’d try to emphasize the 4th beat more. I also feel it as a one-two-three a lot harder through the half-quarter and quarter-quarter-quarter patterns that are prevalent.

Once the drums come in, it’s weird. I don’t think the drums are playing in the same rhythm structure as the melody. The drums are playing on the off beats AND they’re playing in 2 rather than three. In music, this is called polyrhythm. Through some kind of melodic magic ZUN gets all of this to come together in the bridge (heh). I interpret this as an attempt to connect to others. I play by the beat of my own drum and you yours, but we still manage to connect on one level or another, ya know? But it can be difficult at times, which brings us to the part that comes right after the bridge (heh).

So the melody repeats, faster this time. And now there’s a frantic undercurrent of sixteenth notes. Rather than moving onto a second section or “B” section, we return to the A section. The sixteenth notes rise and fall very rapidly. I feel a series of highs and lows but we’re still holding onto the main melody. This is what I consider the descent into madness.

Then we’re back to the beginning because 2hu boss fights are usually pretty short so ZUN probably didn’t compose too much.

So what I get is someone who is sad, tries to fit in with others for a brief moment, but then through a series of high and low energy moments being fill with hate or sadness becomes what they are today.

Now all of this is beautifully put to video in Neteminity Theatre 666. In their case they use ‘The Bridge People No Longer Cross’ but they capture the feelings in a similar way. But they manage to go a little bit further in their video. In the video Parsee Mizuhashi is performing on a stage. She performs her curse killing those around her, including the audience. While she seems to be cheerful as she performs the curse, at the end she cries realizing what she’s done.

If you read the YouTube comments it’s pretty clear people can appreciate the sadness of her story (they also seem to appreciate her tongue-click which is like swearing under your breath in Japan). But let’s explain what’s going on here.

The lyrics are actually quite clever (at least if the translation is to be trusted). Parsee tries to fit in with others but can’t quite get it right. She’s awkward. She says, “The withered flower falls” as she stands in the shade. Parsee is the flower. Why is she withered? No real friends, no attention, no love. Her heart is the thing that’s falling. Her heart is being corrupted. The tempo speeds up and honestly this is my favorite part. Now she is actively rejecting others. When given advice, she outright rejects it because she feels like she has to actively change herself or try to communicate with others while other people have this sorta ‘built-in’.

Now we hit the climax. Instead of trying something else or finding something or someone else she accepts her feelings of jealousy and resentment. Rather than fight it as she may have in the first act, she ‘bathes her heart in it’. She then performs the curse and wipes everyone out. But let’s take a moment to talk about the curse.

This is the curse. Basically, you dress up in white and wear an iron ring on your head with three lit candles and head to your favorite sacred tree. Then you hammer nails through a straw effigy representing your target. Do this for seven days and your target will be cursed. Here’s the most interesting part. If you are spotted at any point performing the curse, it won’t work. What an interesting condition. If someone sees you performing the curse, it doesn’t work. How does this conditional play in to Parsee? Well, remember she’s a withered flower. There’s no one to notice her, no one who would notice her. I feel like if someone did, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

She feels great during the curse but afterwards she feels great regret. I think in the end, Parsee actually wanted to like the other people and be liked by them in turn. This feeling wasn’t strong enough to prevent her from performing the curse and by the end she wishes she hadn’t done it. Because while before she maybe was just unsuccessful in making friends, she always had a chance to do it the next time if she were so inclined. But now? That’s gone. Now she can’t make those friends. In time she will likely convince herself that she was right and go through this loop again and again with others that she meets.

Honestly the video is just so perfect and really encapsulates what I think Parsee is.

Remember that Parsee’s power is to control jealousy. Let’s take a moment to look at the seven deadly sins which we can all remember because we’ve all seen Fullmetal Alchemist

  1. Lust
  2. Gluttony
  3. Greed
  4. Sloth
  5. Wrath
  6. Envy
  7. Pride

I tend to think of these sins like this:

Internally motivatedExternally motivated
Internal effectPride, SlothEnvy
External effectGreed, GluttonyLust, Wrath

Basically, I think of the sins in terms of what motivates what I think are actions representing the sins and what they impact. To briefly explain my thoughts on all but Envy:

Pride is internally motivated. You don’t become excessively proud because of someone else, but you also don’t actively “inflict” your pride on someone else either so it has an internal effect.

Sloth is also internally motivated. Sloth I think of as apathy, and I don’t think something causes you to become apathetic. Basically the task to undo sloth is to find an external motivation to move forward. The sin of sloth at worst will probably just create work for others but the intent isn’t to “inflict” sloth on someone.

Greed and Gluttony are basically the same sin with Gluttony having an extra step of consumption to it. They revolve around this idea of hoarding (and then consuming) objects. I interpret these as having internal motivators because in my mind they originate from desiring something normal like food or money and then taking it to excess. They have an external effect because they manifest and impact the world around you. Greed results in hoarding or preventing people from having something they may need (like food in a famine).

Lust and wrath are typically considered sins of passion and basically they’re responses to external stimuli and the sins could result in property destruction or rape (also external).

Envy is the odd one out because it’s in a box all alone. Envy isn’t just a desire for something else (which would put it closer to greed or gluttony) but a desire for something else… that someone else has. The motivation is explicitly external. The sin of envy is held in one’s heart though.

I don’t know where I was going with that, maybe a reader can help me figure it out in a comment. Bringing us back to topic though:

I think the reason I appreciate Parsee so much is I see Parsee as what I could’ve been had I gone down the other path. When I was young I was bullied mercilessly. Why? Because I was a nerd. I liked Pokemon, I liked video games, and I was very smart. I was a bit of a teacher’s pet. I’ve come around to accepting bullying as a natural part of human nature, as a tool to create conformity. But I was also very proud, so I would not conform. This continued all the way throughout high school. I’ve never felt like I fit in. When I see Parsee’s story, I wonder how much would I curse the world had I been alone even to this day. I feel a genuine connection to Parsee and her feelings because I think I’ve tasted her feelings. And because I think I know what she feels because I’ve felt it, I also think I know what she needs, because I know what I need. Affection, appreciation, love. So I guess in a way, I can love Parsee because I am trying to love myself. That wasn’t meant to sound egotistical but I think it does.

I guess in a roundabout way I made this blogpost about me instead of Parsee. That’s not my intent but I guess Parsee is an example of the core idea that I’m trying to convey.

Anyway, I’m done rambling. Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Parsee Mizuhashi: A Tragedy of a Lonely Heart

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

I wanna do this while this is still fresh on my mind before I procrastinate this into obscurity.

Being a proper adult with a real adult job and whatnot, I haven’t really kept up too much with the seasonal anime. That said, being a regular on /a/, I’m aware of what’s going on with the seasonal anime. One of the trends I noticed has been this abundance of isekai anime. I’ve watched a few of these or a few episodes of these and I didn’t see the appeal. I’ve been puzzling over it though. Isekai anime are clearly popular, but why don’t I like them?

This post has very likely been a few years in the making because I’ve found that I haven’t liked any isekai. I’ve found a few I’ve been OK with but I could never invest myself in any to watch them to completion. Konosuba is one of the only few that I think do isekai right. Why is that? What is special about Konosuba? What does Konosuba have that other isekai don’t? Well, enough stalling, let’s get to it.

Defining Isekai

What is an isekai? The kanji for isekai are 異世界 which loosely translates to ‘strange’, ‘different’, or ‘wonderful’ world. The main setup of an isekai is that the protagonist through some means or another is transported to a ‘world’ completely different to their ‘world’. The protagonist then has to struggle to come to terms with their new place (or lack thereof) in their new life.

Let’s make sure we also classify what isn’t an isekai. A lot of people like to point to Sword Art Online as an isekai. It isn’t. Part of the isekai genre is an inability to ‘escape’ the new world to return to the old. Even in SAO, the ‘new world’ wasn’t a new world, it was just a game. And it has gotten even less restrictive. SAO has its own problems but I’ve already made a post about it.

For the sake of ease of reading I will be referring to the world the protagonist comes from as “Old World” and the world the protagonist is transported to as “New World”.

What Do Isekai Anime Get Wrong?

To answer this question, we have to remember what an isekai is. It seems most isekai forget it almost immediately. An isekai is what you get when you take someone from one world and drop them in a new one. This has some pretty natural implications which are very rarely acted upon.

Picture this: You come from the United States. You are transported to a world where slavery (true slavery, not indentured servitude) exists. You would expect such a person to promptly cry out against the slavery because it clashes severely with our western morality. In the case of Shield Hero he embraces it (which imo was justified) or there will be some revolution in the making. Of course, I know why authors do this. They want the protagonist to be the key feature in revolution. Who wouldn’t want to be the guy who legally ended slavery? However, due to this, they’ve created one or two problems.

The Palette Swap

Let’s first consider the case in which the western morality is secretly adopted in the new world but has yet to been realized. What you’ve done is move the protagonist from the old world to the old world with a palette swap. This is lazy writing. It comes from being unable or unwilling to create a new world so you simply recolor the old world, thus “palette swap”. This alone isn’t bad. Naturally, there are three cases of this. So let’s examine the three cases.

  • Present to Past
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel past new world allows the author to examine the values of the past through a modern lens. We do this all the time whether we realize it or not. Fundamentally, it’s what a progressive individual is doing. They imagine themselves from the future and they are stuck living in the past. Alternatively, you can use this to examine the values of the present through an idealized past. By making the people of the past out to be happy, you can examine why people are unhappy in the present
  • Present to Present
    • Moving the protagonist to a parallel present time is the ‘What If’ scenario. ‘What if the Nazis won WWII’, ‘What if WWII never happened’, ‘What if FDR never won re-election’, or ‘What if the U.S.S.R. never fell’. Using this, the important thing (and I cannot stress this enough) is to make sure it’s sufficiently different from the old world. If the alternative history is only marginally different from the real history, then you’re wasting my time. Too many isekai waste my time with this, creating a world with different species but not using these tools for anything.
  • Present to Future
    • I hesitate to call this a ‘parallel future’ because no one knows what the future may contain. This is the appeal of this usage. It allows us to imagine how drastically our lives may change. DO NOT USE THIS FOR SCIENCE FANTASY. Only use this for science fiction. The emphasis should be on how what is extraordinary today becomes mundane in the future.

Again, you want to make sure you’re using the world to its strength. If you don’t sufficiently differentiate the new world from the old world, we have to ask the question: Why are we here? I mean we’re going to ask the question either way but if you’ve insufficiently differentiated the new world, its answer is all the more important. And the answer is naturally the protagonist. Which brings us nicely to the next section.

The Man Out of His Time

Fundamentally, you should get the man out of his time no matter what you do. What is ‘the man out of his time’? The man out of his time (or the fish out of water) is a person who is in a completely foreign environment. They don’t match the environment and the environment doesn’t match them. They bring with them their values and ideas from the old world into the new world. This is the modern United States citizen with their child labor laws being sent to industrial revolution London. They are the avatar of the audience and they are the vehicle which allows the audience to contrast their world with what could be, what would be, or what should be.

If you’ve properly differentiated your new world, using this character you can inject modern values into the new world or even examine the new values in contrast with the old ones. If the author uses this character well, the modern audience viewer may disagree with the past but at least understand where they’re coming from.

If you haven’t sufficiently differentiated your new world from your old world, the audience will then have to examine the protagonist. Which means you have to make them extremely jarring to the old world. If you’ve done a parallel present transition, you need to then make them jarring in the old world as well. I think Tanya the Evil does this well. You’re not really supposed to root for Tanya (She’s evil) but you are supposed to examine her and imagine yourself in her shoes. What would you have done differently. (I will have to do a Tanya the Evil review later but I haven’t quite finished it yet)

Ironically, if you make a completely different world, a good goal may be to turn the new world into an anti-villain while if you make a relatively similar world, the goal will then be to turn the protagonist into an anti-hero. In other words, you won’t play a villain or hero straight. If you do play a villain or hero straight you often invalidate your setup. Because again, I have to ask the question, “Why are we here?” And if you can’t justify the existence of the old world I have to ask ‘Why even bother with the isekai’?

Which is the fundamental issue with most isekai. They more often than not invalidate their initial premise turning themselves into weak shounen (which is fundamentally a wish-fulfillment genre).

Conclusion

So the general answer to the question of why I don’t like isekai is that they’re often written poorly. The reason I believe they’re written poorly is because they’re not making use of their tropes correctly. A good isekai will properly contrast the new world with the old one. It can do this either with the world directly or with the protagonist. What happens too often is that the new world is too similar to the old world and the protagonist is too blank to draw such contrasts. If you must make the new world exceedingly similar to the old world, you must, must, MUST make the protagonist jarring by the new world standards in some way (this is what I think ‘Tanya the Evil’ does well)

Anyway, that’ll be it from me today. Thanks for reading

Artemis Hunt

How Isekai Gets It Wrong

The Metric System isn’t that special

Alright. Time to rustle some jimmies. I’m supposed to be studying Japanese but fuck it. This as to be done

I studied physics in undergrad and graduate school. I know many engineers and engineering students. And of course in today’s connected world, I talk to many Europeans and… let’s just say I talk to non-Americans. I see this all the time. “The metric system is superior to all other systems of measurement”. As someone who studied sciences and who knows the equations and constants mostly in their metric units and knows the nice conversions between these units I can understand why someone might believe this. However, I personally disagree with the statement. While I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about the metric system, I also don’t think there’s anything particularly bad about it.

In this blog post I am going to run counter to the common arguments and demonstrate why they don’t really hold up and they certainly don’t hold up in today’s society.

“It has very accurate definitions”

The common example I see with this is with the meter. Today, the meter is defined as the length light travels in (and I am not joking) 1/299,792,458 of a second. In other words, we know light travels at a constant speed. Take that speed, take a specific time, we can easily calculate how far light has traveled in that time.

“Oho, Artemis. See how nice that is? We can define the meter very accurately no matter what using this definition”. Well, yes. But I do take issues with it.

  1. This definition kind of reeks of being “hacked together” because there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly special about the number 299,792,458 other than if you divide 1 by it you get how long of a second passes before light travels one meter. The reason for this of course is because the meter was defined before this standard was used so to keep everything the same conversions had to be made.
  2. We can also define literally any distance using this definition. It’s why units like light-second and light-year exist and are used despite not really being metric definitions.

Being able to reproduce a measurement is very important especially when you want to build structures that don’t collapse on people so I can see why these standards have been adopted and updated throughout history. But since we can define any distance quite easily by modifying the time, there’s nothing particularly special about the meter. In fact, using similar methods for other measurements, we can pretty much ape the definition method for everything else and just fiddle with the values. And before you get upset with, just remember that the kilogram was defined to be how much 1/1000 of a cubic meter of the stuff weighed. So the “nice Base-10” factor is just one of construction, and theoretically we can use any atom or molecule we like. and produce any ratio we like.

And now that I’ve mentioned it, let’s get to that. Let’s get to divisibility.

“It’s all in Base-10”

This is very likely the most popular argument in favor of the metric system and again I’m not trying to say that the metric system is bad, rather than it’s not particularly special.

Big controversial opinion incoming: There’s nothing special about Base-10. Yes. By nature, humans have 10 fingers and 10 toes. But those are really the extent when it comes to “10” on the human body. If I were to ask a kid to tell me about parts of the human body, their answer would probably be something like this:

  • 1 head
  • 2 eyes
  • 2 ears
  • 1 nose
  • 1 mouth
  • 2 arms
  • 2 hands
  • 5 fingers on each hand
  • 10 fingers
  • 2 legs
  • 2 feet
  • 5 toes on each foot
  • 10 toes

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a lot of 2 there, not a whole lot of 10. But let’s examine things a little closer. The metric users like to focus a lot on the 10 fingers. While we do have 10 fingers, if you discount the thumb we have 12 joints. A little kid could learn to count to twelve quite easily on their fingers if they counted the little ‘boxes’ on your fingers leading to the fingertip. Some societies may have not believed that the thumb was worth counting, leading to using Base-8 rather than Base-10 for fingers. Today we use Base-2 (binary) and Base-16 (hexadecimal) when working with computers.

Between you and me, I actually like Base-12 more than Base-10. I’ll tell you why too. Base-12 (in my view) is a lot more flexible than Base-10 because it has better factors within it. 10 is divisible into only 1, 2, 5, and 10. 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. You get 2 extra factors which can be convenient when you’re creating your ruler.

That said, the thing I find most astounding is while people are so quick to tout the superiority of Base-10 yet they seem hesitant to change the way we do time. I do think that if we mucked around with the way we think of time it would be disastrous but let’s go ahead and take a look at time.

There are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. I don’t see a whole lot of 10. Sure, it goes into 60 six times but… that’s kind of weird. And it doesn’t go into 24 evenly at all. What’s up with that?

The reason of course comes down to how people kept track of time in the past. They used sundials which split were divided into twelve. Why twelve? Well it just so happens that the Base-10 users got beat to the punch when it came to setting up time measurement in the west. Rather than using the ten fingers, it seems that the people of old favored the twelve joints of the hand (excluding the thumb). Probably because the number 12 has more factors.

“The numbers, Mason. What do they mean?”

Bear with me here because it might seem incredible but when you go from a meter to a kilometer you’re not changing the unit. You’re just stretching one unit out. This contrasts with the darned Imperial System with feet and inches and yards and yadda yadda. So what’s the deal with it. Why is it so wonky?

The problem is you guys are looking at the system like a ruler, and not as a series of proportions. Stop thinking of that silly stick you call a ruler and start thinking of this:

“To use the ruler, you must first become the ruler”

“OK but the numbers Mason. What do the numbers mean?” The numbers are the proportions of a human body part to another human body part. But you can probably guess how it goes. “4 fingers to a palm, 4 palms to a foot, 6 feet to a man.” Lots of fours. “But what if a man grows? If you build a house over a year while you’re still a teenager, your foot will grow and the proportions will be all wrong all over the house”. Luckily that’s not as big of a problem because the foot we’re using is actually previously defined by the Romans. They took the length of the foot of their Emperor, called it a foot, and based everything off of that. All they needed to do was cast the foot, make a statue, you now have your standard. And before you say that seems pretty silly, remember that the French used to use a platinum rod to define the meter which would also be subject to change. That’s why new standards are created. That’s why we use the distance light travels today and not a platinum or titanium rod from the past.

Everyday Use

I think food will be the simplest way to convey this one. When you go to the store, I want you to ask yourself: am I buying a can of soda or am I buying 356 mL of soda? Do you buy a bottle of beer or do you buy 650 mL of beer? Broadly speaking, most people aren’t concerned too much with the volume of something because they’re not thinking of it in divided volumes, rather the unit itself. When I buy cereal, I’m not buying 576g of cereal. I’m buying a box of cereal. Even in your day-to-day life you’re probably not consuming things thinking “I drank 300 mL of water, I need to drink 900 mL more before bedtime”. You’re probably thinking, “I drank a glass of water earlier today, I should drink 2 more glasses before bedtime”. You don’t eat “150g of cereal” you eat a bowl of cereal. If you’re having a dinner party and you’re trying to decide how much meat to give your guest, you’re giving them some arbitrary slice of meat, not 242g of meat.

In short, most people are using a “container” rather than the mass or volume measurements themselves.

Conclusion

I think the important thing to remember is that the measurement system you use itself isn’t terribly important. You can come up with whatever justifications you want to define units and convert units. What’s important is that everyone agrees to these definitions and knows how to communicate these units. Your measurement system is just as arbitrary as mine. We can compare standards and go back and forth between the two.

People think the metric system is so special but it wasn’t invented until the 18th century. Imagine the most famous monuments of the world. Pyramids? Metric system not necessary. Roman civilization? No metric system necessary. The Parthenon? No metric system necessary. Notre Dame? No metric system necessary. We’ve been building stuff for millennia so no matter how “difficult” you want to say other measurement systems are, it certainly didn’t stop humanity from building some of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Anyway, that’ll be it from me. Hopefully this will help people chill and stop giving the Americans and the Imperial System so much shit. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

The Metric System isn’t that special