With Great Power: “Inspiration Manifestation” review

“I’ve been quoted as saying that ‘the cruellest thing you can do to an artist is tell them their work is perfect when it isn’t.’ It’s a policy that has gotten me thrown out of a lot of finger painting classes.” – Yahtzee Croshaw, Zero Punctuation; Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

One of the biggest annoyances of being a writer who delves primarily in fanfiction, is that people have a tendency to blow smoke up my ass.

‘Oh, this story is so fantastic, I can’t wait to see what happens!’ They say in reference to my most boring work.

But on the flip side, when people have legitimate criticisms, it’s too easy to dismiss them and say they don’t get it. Or even worse, take personal offence.

One must remember that they are not their work. If someone criticizes your work, they’re not criticizing you, only what you created. But people so easily forget that. I, myself, only noticed recently that the early chapters of My Little Destiny were too over-padded. A lot of things could’ve been glossed over, compressed, or cut completely; but when people told me this, I got annoyed. Oh these peasants, not understanding the artistic narrative I’m trying to develop. Ba-ha-ha…

But they were right, and I should’ve been grateful, but I wasn’t; instead, I was dickish, and suggested they wanted Michael Bay to write the story. But this was my story, my baby, and I worked so hard on it! And that’s the problem: In my mind, I couldn’t separate myself from my work.

So it should come as no surprise that so many people treat artists like Precious Moments figurines; delicately and carefully out of fear they’ll break them, or by smashing them on the floor out of sheer disgust.

But the truth is, you shouldn’t hide the truth from them. If someone’s work is terrible, they deserve to know, because it’s the only way they can get better. You should try to nitpick, and search for errors and problems. And you should never, ever, use the word ‘perfect.’

Yes, I’m talking to you, Spike! You little suck up! For you see, it’s time, once again, to talk about My Little Pony. Continue reading


Trading Ponies: “Trade Ya!” review

Trade is the bedrock upon which all civilization is built. It is essentially the practice of exchanging goods and services one has, for goods and services one needs.

This is necessary because no one is an expert at everything. Generally, people are really good at one or two things, moderately good at a few other things, and crap at everything else. So, without trade those who were good at growing corn, wouldn’t have much to eat other than corn, and their farming equipment would likely be made of leaves and twigs, unless they just happen to be good at smithing as well.

Oh, sure, they could also start farming cows for their meat, but they’d probably be terrible at it. Half the livestock would die, and the other half would want to. So instead, the corn farmer would just go to the local butcher, who might be getting sick of eating beef every single day, and exchange a bushel of corn for a nice, juicy steak.

These days we use money, but in principle it’s the same thing. We exchange what we have for currency, which we then exchange for what we need. Currency makes the whole process simpler and easier. Buying stuff doesn’t have to happen at the same time as selling stuff, and the value of an object can be fine-tuned to a much more precise degree.

Of course, there was a time when currency had a lot of value because it was something with a lot of value: gold! We used gold and silver as currency because these precious medals had an inherent value to us, primarily because of their rarity and the fact that you couldn’t just make more of it. Eventually, we started using paper that was backed by gold. Banknotes that represented a set amount of gold stored at a particular bank. This eventually evolved into something called ‘fiat money,’ which only has value because the government says it does. And this has worked pretty darn well for us over the past four decades. We’ve all been using fiat money without issue.

Well… most of us have. Apologies to all those living in Zimbabwe but I wouldn’t have blamed those troubles on your currency, but on your shit President.

Of course, this is something most people already know; or at least, those who’ve taken macroeconomics know. But the point is, currency works. And without it, we wouldn’t have a society.

Which is why I’m a bit perplexed at a recent episode of My Little Pony. It’s the episode where everypony abandons the Equestrian Bit (EQB), and goes back to a traditional bartering system of economics.

What is the nation coming to? Continue reading

The Test of a Lifetime: “Testing Testing 1, 2, 3” review

I’ll tell you one thing: I love being a student.

I constantly learn new things, I’m staying relatively productive, I get out of the house, and I have a set schedule that I can’t blow off.

Now, that may not seem like a fun time, but it’s way better than being unemployed while having nothing to do.

Plus, I’m earning a diploma, to begin a lucrative career in a field I love. Assuming I can actually find a job this time.

But if there’s one thing that annoys the hell out of me: it’s tests. I don’t mind taking tests, per say. I’m just annoyed at how they’re done, and what people think of them.

There’s a common problem in western education known as ‘teaching to the test.’ We’ve all heard of this. Where the entire education system isn’t designed for the purposes of teaching students material they’re interested in, in a fun and practical way. It’s all about getting them to pass tests. In fact, you may have entire lessons devoted to teaching students all about test-taking strategies, as if it’s a goddamn video game!

The test should fit the material, the material should not fit the test. Now, to a certain extent, I do believe in a consistent and universal curriculum. In most of the US, for instance, the public school curriculums are designed at a local level. And this basically means that the depth, breadth, and by extension quality of a child’s education may vary from town to town. And don’t even get me started on the backward and ignorant rednecks trying to bring religion into biology classrooms. Just thinking about that makes me cry. I weep for those children’s futures.

But if you have a province-wide curriculum, like we do in Ontario, how do you ensure it’s being followed? Well, primarily, by trusting the teachers and administrators. And not by giving them standardized tests that examine whether or not a student can read. Let’s be honest, if someone has made it to grade 10, I’m pretty sure they’re literate. Someone would’ve spotted it otherwise.

Ideally, education should prepare a student for the adult world. It should give them a set of skills that’ll help them be informed citizens, discerning consumers, responsible financial managers, and skilled workers. In what circumstance does knowing how to fill out a damn Scantron form help in any area? Are there professional test-takers out there?

Not that tests shouldn’t be done. I think it’s important to check whether or not someone knows what they should know. But the tests should be relevant to the material. In IT, we have this down. Most of my exams this year have been practical exams, where all we have to do is design a program, or website, just like any other assignment we’ve had, only with a 2 hour time limit, and we’re not allowed to talk to anyone. And yes, we were allowed to look at our old assignments, and Google, because that’s exactly what we’d have access to in the workplace as well. Memorizing every possible function and command isn’t really necessary, so why should we have to do it?

But then there’s written theory tests, where you have to work entirely off memory. And to a certain extent, one should have basic conversational knowledge, and be able to discuss the various concepts in a casual setting, and you can’t just pull out a reference book in the middle of a conversation. But when exactly are the names of every single SQL data type going to be necessary to bring up in conversation.

I just don’t think it’s necessary. Just like knowing the history of an organization before joining that organization. It’s not necessary, nor should it be mandatory.

Which brings me to the realm of Equestria, where it is mandatory for Rainbow Dash to memorize the history of the Wonderbolts to join the Wonderbolts Reserve, which is now a thing! Continue reading

Too Good To Be True: “Leap of Faith” review

“‘Herbal medicine’s been around for thousands of years!’ Indeed it has, and then we tested it all, and the stuff that worked became ‘medicine.'” – Dara Ó Briain, Dara Ó Briain Talks Funny – Live in London

The thing about skepticism is that it can sometimes be misinterpreted.

The goal of skepticism is to look at the world through a scientific lens, because science is the best method we have of finding the truth. And through this lens, it becomes quite obvious that things like ghosts, astrology, alternative medicine, and homeopathy, are all bunk.

It’s not simply because none of them fit in the standard scientific model of the universe that has been developed and fine-tuned over the past several thousand years. It’s because there is no evidence to support any of it! There have been trials on various alternative treatments, and none of them have been proven to be better than nothing.

So why do some people buy into it? Well, part of it could be due to something called ‘confirmation bias.’ If you believe in a treatment that does nothing, but get better on your own shortly after taking it, you credit the treatment rather than your own immune system. And when it doesn’t work, you never really notice, or remember.

Basically, we ignore the misses, and we count and exaggerate the hits. Astrology tends to work the same way.

And add to that, a bizarre phenomenon known as the placebo effect. Basically, if you think you’re taking something that’s supposed to treat some ailment, the very act of treatment can make you feel better, and make you think you’re getting better, even if the treatment is nothing more than a sugar pill. Combine this with confirmation bias, you end up crediting a glass of water for something that didn’t really happen.

Now what causes the placebo effect? I don’t know. I honestly wish I did. For the most part, it can be explained as a simple psychological trick. But this thing is way more powerful than that. But I don’t really want to get into the details.

The point I’m trying to get at is this: Just because you think it works, doesn’t mean it works. You have to test it. You have to run a proper analysis, and count not only when it does work, but when it doesn’t work. And you have to check to see if it really is nothing more than a trick of the mind.

‘But what’s the harm?’ you may ask. ‘What’s the harm in letting people believe that a bay leaf can cure the common cold?’ Well, do you mean aside from the money spent on it? They don’t give this stuff away for free! And for people to take money from desperate and sick people, and give them literally nothing? As Randall Munroe once said, “Telling someone who trusts you that you’re giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying–it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.”

But that aside. Often times, these salesmen advise their customers to forgo real medical treatments that could actually help them, because they claim it would interfere with their sugar-water. And when it comes to serious, treatable illnesses, people have actually died because of this. They died, because they were told not to take a life-saving treatment, and instead took ginkgo biloba or something.

I could elaborate quite a bit more on this, but I think I made my point. Is it any wonder why people such as myself try to convince others to give up these pointless endeavours? We’re not trying to be mean or ‘ruin your mojo’ or something, we’re trying to help! I just wish more people understood this.

Well, perhaps they finally will, as a recent episode of My Little Pony covered this very same topic. And if any show can spread an idea to the masses, it’s My Little Pony! Continue reading

It’s Not… Strictly Speaking, Legal: “For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils” review

Last season, on My Little Pony, Scootaloo got her first character-development episode… and ended up getting overshadowed by Princess Luna.

At least, in my mind she did. The revelation of Luna’s dream sharing powers, just seemed way more intriguing than Scootaloo’s fear of ghost stories.

Sadly, unlike some films that explored this exact same concept, the episode didn’t really spend much time on it. I mean sure, they didn’t need to. But then, why even include it? Why include Luna’s dream-sharing powers if you’re going to do so little with them?

This was a concept in desperate need of expansion. I’m not saying we needed to see Luna perform extraction, or have anti-gravity fight scenes in a spinning hallway. But something more than a single minute-and-a-half scene would’ve been nice.

Personally, I would’ve liked to see the whole episode take full advantage of this concept. Instead, they had a different episode take full advantage of this concept. This time starring the amazingly adorable, Sweetie Belle!

Awww, so adorable! It’s like they weaponized cuteness. Continue reading

It’s Pinkie and the Goth!: “Maud Pie” review

Hey, remember about a month ago, when I reviewed Pinkie Pie’s arc-related episode, Pinkie Pride? Remember when I noticed that the photo of Pinkie’s family didn’t match up with the depiction of Pinkie’s family in season one? And remember when I made the joke about the extra family member being a bitter teenager who cuts herself? Turns out I was actually onto something! Because today, we’re actually going to meet her!

This is Maud, Pinkie’s elder sister! And she’s coming to Ponyville! And she’s awesome! Continue reading

In the Hooves of an Apple: “Somepony to Watch Over Me” review

Allow me to tell you a tale. About several months ago, shortly before I moved for college, I was driving down the street in a 13-year-old automobile. A Pontiac Sunfire, if you’re interested. Then, suddenly, it broke down in the middle of an intersection. Now, you may be wondering why, and to put it simply: the engine melted. Apparently, there was no coolant in the damn thing, and I had no idea, because some jackass disconnected the temperature sensor.

Anyway, do you want to know what I did the moment this happened? I called my mother. What the hell was wrong with me!? Why was that my first instinct!? I recently turned 27 at that point, and my first instinct was to call my mommy!? That was pathetic, and I very quickly realized that. By the time you reach your late 20s, you should be able to handle things on your own. You should know exactly what to do in a crisis. And honestly, I did. I knew I had to call a tow truck and get the car to a mechanic, but for some reason was unsure enough that I had to check with mommy first. Well, that and I needed money. I was broke at the time. And technically, I still am.

And this is one of the many reasons I’m so glad to have moved all the way to Southern Ontario! I know what you’re gonna say: I didn’t even leave the province, or my time zone. But that’s only because Canada has some massively big provinces. If I was in Europe, such a move would involve crossing two other nations.

Nonetheless, I’m in a different city, in a different region, and I’m as far as I can reasonably get from her. Now, if I need help with something, calling my mother is not an option. I quite figuratively jumped into the deep end of independence, and it feels wonderful, and well overdue.

This is a feeling everyone wants: To feel like they can make it on their own. To feel like they don’t need someone else. And it makes sense, because being dependant on someone else means, if something horrible happens to that person, you’re screwed. Being independent means being in control of your own life, regardless of outside forces. It also fulfills the fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivation.

I took psychology last fall.

And it doesn’t matter how old you are. Even children love the feeling of gaining just a touch of independence. But that might also be because they see it as a milestone of growing up, which they also love.

But unfortunately, some parents deny their children this feeling for as long as possible, out of some obligation they feel to protect them from things that don’t exist. Like the old ‘stranger danger’ myth. And this can cause frustration and even rebellion. As some children decide to prove that they can handle things on their own, by any means necessary.

Remind you of anypony?

Continue reading

In the Grimdark Future, There Is Only Ponies: “It Ain’t Easy Being Breezies” review

Equestria might have the most unstable ecosystem in all of fiction.

I say this because of several reasons: Like how dependant the local weather is on Rainbow Dash and the Ponyville weather team, how dependant the local wildlife are on Fluttershy’s care and attention, and how dependant the entire solar system is on Princess Celestia (which is bizarre on so many levels).

It’s ponies that have to ensure the autumn leaves fall off before winter, and that the snow is cleared before summer. They also have to create clouds so rain happens, and you’ll notice that Fluttershy rarely seems to care for any domestic animals. No, she cares for wild animals, who should be able to take care of themselves!

I asked it before, and I’ll ask it again: “How the hell did life evolve on this rock!?”

I have a theory: Basically, it wasn’t always like this. But an indeterminate time ago, some great disaster happened that destabilized the ecosystem and tidally locked the planet. Clouds couldn’t form, rain didn’t come, plants died off, and half the planet cooked.

Then they started controlling the weather by manually creating clouds, and they used magic to manually turn the planet. It all makes sense when you think about it.

But that doesn’t explain a more recent oddity on this show. Which I’ll sum up by saying: What the fuck are Breezies, and what are they doing!? Continue reading