Author Archives: Raizen

The Fist-Cough Cult is still dangerous.

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In 2017, I posted this article about the Fist-Cough Cult. It’s very appropriate to share today, considering the current events about COVID-19, or the coronavirus.

Coughing on your fist has always been dangerously irresponsible, but the current coronavirus epidemic adds a whole new level to it. You might have already been treating the Fist-Cough Cult as the pariahs that they are, but now we all have a new reason, as their dangerous ideology can be firmly placed into a similar category to that of the anti-vaxxers.

Have you been seeing Fist-Cough cultists in your area?

The Horrifying Hysteria of the Coronavirus Apocalypse

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I took this one at a nearby grocery store. As you might have guessed, toilet paper was on these shelves. Interestingly, this was the only item there was a shortage of. There were plenty of facial wipes and paper towels.

You might be thinking, “Everyone bought up the toilet paper!” But in reality, it’s just a few guys buying into the hysteria, leaving the rest of us searching for just a couple rolls to last us a week.

One guy I saw bought three cases of toilet paper, and he left the store strutting as though he accomplished something extraordinary (though in a sense, he did).

The COVid-19 outbreak is one set of events where the way people are over-reacting is way scarier than the disease itself.

Review: Touhou Eiyashou: Imperishable Night

Th08cover.jpgCover art.

Can we agree at this point that making games easier doesn’t make them more fulfilling? I ask this because someone showed me his new copy of Mario Kart 8 that rewards him for playing a no-lose mode without input.

The Mario Kart in question isn’t the only offender in this regard. There was a recent Mario game that awarded the player with invincibility if they lost enough times on one level. I think that the best games to represent this generation of gamers would be the clicker games, which award players with prizes just for clicking, and sometimes even allows them to play without input.

Because of this, I’ve decided to write up this review of Touhou Eiyashou: Imperishable Night, the eighth entry in the Touhou series. It’s a game that harkens back to a time when men were men, women were women, and Burger King cashiers were who-knows-what.

Touhou 8 is a Danmaku Shooter, which means that you’re going to have screens full of bullets coming at you, and the real test is in your ability to avoid beautiful patterns of projectiles.

touhou 8 stars.pngDeal with it.

If you’re the kind of guy who thinks himself above games that look cute, you missed out on the masterpiece that is The Wind Waker. You’d probably also let your guard down because you’d think this game is easy just because of its art style, only to get whooped on the easiest setting. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Touhou is hard. Like, monumentally break-your-face hard. I wanted to get that out there before someone decides to give it a try only to discover that it’s actually challenging to win, and then complain to me because this game about anime girls that can fly and fight each other with fireworks made them feel bad.

When it comes down to it, that’s the great thing about Touhou. It’s challenging from beginning to end, and there’s no way to cheese your way through it. So if you want to beat the game, you actually have to be good at it. It’s not like the American education system that gives you credit just for showing up and reciting Marxist propaganda. So when you make it to the ending where these girls are celebrating with rice wine (Just how old are these girls?), it actually feels like an accomplishment in which you can take true pride. You’ll have earned the right to see the ending, and it’s more rewarding than just finding the results of a simple Google image search.

Touhou 8 has four difficulties:
Easy: The difficulty for newbies and those who want to chill, but is still hard,
Normal: Usually ignored.
Hard: A tertiary setting that’s usually ignored in favor of the next one.
Lunatic: Touhou at it’s most rewarding, most YouTube runs are probably on this setting.

Aside from multiple difficulty levels, Imperishable Night offers variety in gameplay in the form of having four teams to choose from, with one character being the lead, and the other swapping in when focusing. A playthrough has different possible bosses depending on characters selected and certain other conditions, such as the fact that the true final boss doesn’t show up unless you’ve beat the game already and didn’t use a continue on the current playthrough. It’s another way in which you don’t beat the game unless you actually get good at it. There’s also an extra stage which is harder than anything else the game throws at you, which is unlocked by beating the main game.

touhou 8 mokou.pngNot many players make it to this part.

For those who think that games like these are too hard, there’s a practice mode that allows players to take on stages or specific attacks, so that players can improve and play more consistently. It’s not about making it easier on the player, so, once again, if you want that rewarding thrill of having beaten the game, you actually have to get good at it. This isn’t one of those click-and-win travesties that’s passing for video games nowadays.

The main thing that Touhou 8 tests is the player’s focus. There is actually more to the gameplay than “the screen fills with bullets”. There are actually patterns to attacks, and each attack is unique. Not only that, the attacks are pretty well telegraphed, so that when the player loses a life, it feels like less of a cheap shot and more of a mistake on the part of the player. After all, Touhou is a game of skill, not of rote memorization. There is no being trapped in a no-win scenario, but if that does somehow happen, it should be pretty obvious to the player how they could have avoided it. As hard as the game is, if you lost, it’s pretty much your fault. There’s no excuses, and excuses don’t let you win, anyway.

Another great thing about this game is the music. The game’s soundtrack has a nostalgic oriental theme to it, and it’s very fast-paced and upbeat. I don’t know what the consensus is when it comes to video game music, but to me, it’s a valuable part of the experience. When I ask someone who has played a game what they think of a certain track, and they tell me that they had the sound off, they’re telling me that they missed out.

While the same general thing can be said for each of the Touhou games, I picked out Imperishable Night for this review. Why this one? It’s my personal favorite because of a combination of different factors, such as the theme of the game being more epic (Searching for a moon that goes missing and battling an immortal princess? Cool.), and this one introduced some of my favorite characters, such as Reisen, which is an interesting character on several levels, and her concept is very appealing to me. It shouldn’t be hard to understand why.

Th155Reisen.pngReisen – her gun has bunny ears.

So if you want to take a stand against the oversimplification of video games, a great place to start is by purchasing a copy of Touhou. And by that, I mean actually support the guy who makes these games by buying one. Touhou is one of those games which, like Cave Story, is genius even though the whole thing is made by only one guy. Yeah, this guy who goes by the moniker ZUN has written, composed, and programmed the Touhou games by himself. So if you want to play his games, go ahead and support him by buying them so it’s easier for him to buy beer.

Score: 9 / 10

If you think anime figurines are objectionable, what are you doing searching Amazon for them?

A few anime figures were recently removed from Amazon on the claims that they “promote child exploitation or depict children or characters resembling children in a sexually suggestive manner.” Because the figures in question do no such thing, there shouldn’t be an issue with showing you which ones were removed:

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This character is Hatsune Miku, one of the most recognizable Japanese characters. Personally, I assumed that she was an adult because she has adult characteristics (i.e. breasts, well-defined hips, etc.). But hey, I arrived at that determination using my brain and eyes. In Vocaloid lore, she’s a software character, so she wouldn’t actually have an age. Does Siri have an age, and would anyone object to finding Siri attractive?

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Notice just how much Tsumugi is expressing her sexuality by standing there, playing an electronic keyboard? She isn’t? Exactly.

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Miku again, and she looks very much grown-up in this one, too. She’s not even doing anything sexual, just dancing and singing. If you know of a place on earth that has a problem with these things, let me know about it in the comments below.

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While this one is child-like in appearance, she’s not doing anything suggestive. She doesn’t look like she’s doing anything. However, she appears to be totally down with standing there and staring with a judgemental look on her face, just like the last girlfriend I had.

This representation of the character is a “chibi”, which means she was arbitrarily made child-like, which is something the Japanese do because they like cute things. Westerners should understand this because we have Funco POPs.

Still, there might be something about this character that comes off as odd. The chained collar around the neck of this angelic character implies an intention to confine, which comes off as odd. Considering this, this particular character comes off as having the highest potential for objectionability of the bunch (speaking from a position of relative ignorance of the manga or anime that may depict her).

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So this one (grown-up) is dressed like a maid. And there are people who think about sex when they think about maid outfits. Does this make maid outfits sexual?

No, it doesn’t.

Sexuality is something that occurs in the mind. People arbitrarily find things sexual which actually don’t have anything to do with sex. For example, feet. Why feet? I don’t know, but some people see them as sexual. Also, certain food items, like ice cream and pizza. I don’t know why people sexualize those, but it’s something that happens in their minds.

It should be obvious that I’m not overly favorable toward the idea of finding a work of expression objectionable just because there exists the potential to view it a certain way. If that’s how it worked, just about every work of art could be considered sexual, regardless of the intention of the artist.

I admit that I don’t know much about the characters pictured above, aside from Miku. If the other works that these characters were featured in sexualized them in any way, it wasn’t made apparent in the figurines themselves. But even if the characters are portrayed expressing their sexuality at any point in a manga or anime they were featured in, why would that be a bad thing, provided they were expressing it in a healthy way? Sexuality is one of the most human of traits, and is a universal aspect of human life. I suspect that the real problem is that certain people have an unhealthy view of sex and sexuality.

One related problem that I can point out in fiction, including in western media, is the gender double-standard when it comes to infatuation. When it occurs with girls and women, people assume pureness of motives. But when it’s boys and men, they’re portrayed as though we should be suspicious of their intentions. In reality, the experience of limerence is equally valid for both sexes.

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As I’ve said before, if you don’t like a work of art, just don’t look at it. Not everyone has the same standard of what is objectionable, which is something that they can only decide for themselves. If you’re such a repressed person that when you see an adult anime woman singing you think “child exploitation”, what are you doing browsing anime figurines on Amazon?

By the way, I don’t actually know the ages of the characters depicted by the figurines. I went by characteristics, because that was how they were being unfairly judged by Amazon. I don’t really know much about these characters, aside from Miku. The characters were judged unfairly based on aesthetics, so I deemed their aesthetics as being what’s relevant to the discussion. If anyone wants to be nitpicky about it, fictional characters don’t actually have ages. Everything about them is arbitrarily made up, and whoever made them up can just make their ages whatever they want. That’s something to know about stuff that’s just made up.

PSA: Stop acting stupid about the coronavirus.

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I’ll get to the point: Stop accusing people of having the coronavirus (or COVID-19, or whatever it’s called).

I know that not everyone would be deterred by the fact that that’s tasteless and unfunny, but there’s another kicker: you can get sued. It’s defamation.

If something you might do can rightly be called “stupid”, play it safe and don’t do it.

Also, people can stop spazzing out over COVID-19 as though it’s going to be the end of the world. It’s almost identical to the common cold, something we already have. If China is taking extreme actions to limit the spread of infection, that’s nothing to concern yourself with, unless you’re in China. We know why China is trying as hard as it is to stop COVID-19; the country is practically a huge factory, and it’s trying to limit how the sick days would collectively impact productivity.

Just chill, your life is probably still boring. No zombie apocalypse, here. Just let your immune system do it’s job.

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Note for the slow: The admonition to let your immune system do its job should obviously apply to those who already caught the virus, and shouldn’t be taken to mean to be reckless and catch it. It also doesn’t mean to forgo treatment. If your white blood cells are receiving assistance from a qualified professional that knows what they’re doing, all the better.

Here’s what I’ve been doing about the world obesity crisis.

It’s been a few days since World Obesity Day. While the international community seems content with issuing a statement regarding stigmas surrounding obesity, I’ve decided to share what I’ve been doing regarding the obesity problem.

“But Raizen,” you might be asking, “since when were you obese?” I wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t play a part to help the world be a healthier place.

A quick note before describing what I’ve been doing:  I don’t attribute my fitness progress to any one of these approaches in particular. Many internet personalities do just that, and leave their viewers to determine for themselves why they don’t get the same results when they attempt them. I’ve been doing each of these approaches at the same time. What’s more, there may be other variables that may not have been considered. While I’ve been experiencing some positive results, I make no guarantee that they will work the same way for everyone.

Intermittent fasting
This seems to be the current fitness fad that’s going around. It makes intuitive sense: eating fewer calories day by day results in gaining less weight. Personally, I doubt that many marketers will get behind this trend, as it involves people spending less.

While people have been searching for the natural human diet in terms of what they can eat, the right question is how often they eat to be in line with the dietary patterns of early humans (putting aside how misguided it is to assume that what’s natural is better for us). Early humans were hunter-gatherers, so they more likely ate later in the day, after having worked to hunt or gather the food that they would be dining on. This means that our ancestors likely didn’t eat breakfast, but instead got right up and got right to seeking out their food that they would consume later in the day.

The idea of breakfast, as well as the idea that there should be three meals in a day, is a very recent idea. And it came about at around the time that people started to get seriously fat. What’s more, the most commonly-marketed breakfast items are among the most fattening items in the modern human diet. Considering this, it should make some very obvious intuitive sense that if one were to skip breakfast, they wouldn’t be gaining as much weight.

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While there are a few approaches to intermittent fasting, the one I went for is the 16/8 approach. This would be where a person picks 8 hours a day where one eats as normal, while refraining from meals or snacks for the remaining 16. I don’t usually hold to it on weekends, as the 16/8 approach seems to work sufficiently five days a week. The hours that one spends sleeping do count, so it’s acceptable to take a meal schedule like 11:30am – 7:30pm. What’s important is that during the dining periods, one doesn’t overeat. If a person takes the 8-hour period as an opportunity to gut-load, they’d likely defeat their attempted diet.

One might wonder whether one gets hungry while intermittent fasting. The answer is yes, but it’s not actually a big deal. When a person gets hungry, that’s the body telling them that “if you don’t start looking for food soon, you’re going to die so go, go, go!” What your body doesn’t realize is that the situation isn’t really that dire, and you are surrounded by food on demand nearly all the time. If you stay busy with something else (like your job, or even a video game), you tend not to notice hunger as much.

Adopting a healthy diet
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t just involve not eating as much, the quality of what’s consumed does make a difference. There are many, many principles to a healthier diet, so it’s mainly a learn-as-you-go experience. Here’s a few principles that I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Look at food for what it is, rather than how appetizing it may be. Most fast food is disgusting, so avoiding it can help a lot.
  • Many food items that are perceived as healthy are actually far from it. This includes muffins, granola bars, organic snack foods, the list goes on and on. Learn what’s garbage in disguise.
  • Whole grain is better than white bread. That cheap wheat bread that you see is actually colored brown, and has an arbitrary amount of wheat added to it so it can legally be called “wheat”, so don’t be tricked.
  • It’s hilarious that after rigorously working out at the gym, people line up for smoothies that are teeming with sugar.
  • Paying attention to calories is an eye-opening experience. A heaping plate of pasta can easily demolish a daily calorie allotment.
  • Beware of what’s heavily marketed, because the main interest of those peddling the products isn’t your well-being, it’s to get you to buy things. Marketers have caught up with the keto fad, and are now in the process of ruining it.

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Frequent exercise
This is the effort part of the fitness regimen. I’ve been changing this up from time-to-time, but the idea is to adopt a few different exercises that hit multiple muscle groups. Here is an example:

Dumbbell floor presses
Dumbbell side swings
Curls
Squats

Four sets each, 10 reps per set. Three times a week. The exercises can be changed up. Not everyone can do pull-ups right away. Frequently swapping in one exercise for another, such as subbing in push-ups or lunges, helps to ensure that a wide variety of muscles get attention.

As exercise is incorporated into your lifestyle, it helps to get adequate protein. Protein shakes can help, but they’re pricey and overrated. Tuna is great, because it provides a high amount of protein with few calories.

Limiting sugary drinks
The main things I drink are black coffee and water. While sugar isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, it’s fattening in drinks because they lack the fiber that would slow the incorporation of sugar into your system, resulting in a sugar rush followed by a crash.

But what about energy drinks? In most cases, the main ingredient that gives them their effect is caffeine. The contribution of most other ingredients outside of sugar are negligible. Energy drinks may have colorful, textured cans with lightning bolt patterns and other edgy packaging, but you’d be better off just drinking coffee.

Fruit juices are sugary drinks, so while they may have vitamin content, it’s usually better to eat the fruit, instead.

There you have it, my approach to making the world less obese. It takes a bit of effort, but so do most things that are worth going for.

What’s a relevant smartphone feature?

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I’ve heard it said that we’re at “peak smartphone”, the point of diminishing returns concerning technical specs in smartphones (unless some technological breakthrough were to occur). This being the case, it’s more likely that features will play a factor in smartphone purchases. That got me to thinking about what smartphone feature really matters to me.

I came up with an answer, and that answer is larger screens. This is because with larger screens, you can view larger explosions.

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I have tastes that are easy to understand. I like explosions. I like movies that have explosions. The larger and more bombastic the explosions, the better. I know that people get all snotty about Michael Bay movies, but he knows how to write in a way that speaks to me. With explosions.

I heard a song that said something like, “cool guys don’t look at explosions”. But that’s like saying “cool guys don’t eat beef jerky”; that’s a lie, of course we do. Cool guys love looking at explosions, and that’s because explosions rule.

bewm.gifThat’s right, look at it!

Explosions are fun, and Pokemon is fun, too. You know what would really rock? Putting the two together. Someone thought to do that, and the result is Typhlosion. It’s the most popular Johto starter, and that’s no accident. Whoever designed that one did a great job.

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You know what else rocks? Hot sauce. That’s because hot sauce tastes like explosions. You can seriously improve your food by adding the flavor of explosion to it. Cool guys look at explosions, and they taste them, too.

pepper palace the hottest sauce in the universe.pngPepper Palace

Oh yeah, I was writing about smartphone features. Graphene sounds cool, 5G sounds cool, but let’s not deny the fact that large screens still matter, considering their role in expediting the viewing of explosions. Folding phones are a significant advancement in explosion-viewing technology, as they allow us to have it both ways: a large screen with which to view explosions, and a device that can be folded down small so it can fit in one’s pocket.

However, folding phones seem to be in the gouging phase of new technology, wherein something new is priced disproportionately high in an effort to profit well off those content to be on the bleeding edge of technology (while at the same time being the guinea pigs while various flaws are worked out). It might be a little while before folding phones are priced reasonably, but we’d still have access to tablets and larger phones in the meantime.

And when it comes to watching Zacian’s Behemoth Blade in action, those do just fine.