Category Archives: Reviews

Webcomic Review: Boss Rush Society

giga kay

It seems like there’s someone out there that has me beat when it comes to confidence. There is someone out there who likes what he likes, and is not at all ashamed of saying so. That person is TokenDuelist, the author of the webcomic Boss Rush Society. TokenDuelist posts to his DeviantArt account with furry lesbian art, MLP characters (at least one work of which being lesbian art), Pokemon fan art of a ten-year-old with huge breasts, and a bare-breasted woman pawing at a blurred-out banana. That he is a male should be evident considering the nature of the DeviantArt material described. He also posted a picture of himself using the same DeviantArt account. That’s some confidence, there.

As mentioned already, he is the author of a webcomic, and that’s what’s primarily getting the attention in this review.

Boss Rush Society stars Lucas (a.k.a. Giga), a young man who enters a battle tournament, but shows up late, and the tournament starts without him. When he does show up, there’s only one contestant remaining, and he’s permitted entry, leaving him only having one weakened and tired opponent to trounce before being crowned the winner of the tournament. Which, predictably enough, he does. Isn’t that every layabout’s fantasy? Getting the prize just for showing up and saying his ABCs.

The art style can be likened to a combination of manga and the work of Phil and Kaja Foglio (but not in a good way). There is an obvious problem with proportions, and that is particularly evident in the first panel of this page, where the claw game is taller than the woman standing in front of it, but the woman is much taller than the arcade machines right next to them. There are other, similar problems, but I think you’d see them if you were to read the comic for yourself.

Also, almost all the female characters have huge breasts, except for one, which was probably a character that we weren’t supposed to like. Again, it’s obvious that the author of this comic is male. He has this thing for huge, swollen, gravity-defying breasts. What the obsession is with oversized breasts, I don’t understand. When they get too big, they sag and can actually be pretty gross.

Usually, small expressions of sexual immaturity can be ignored as a quirk in some webcomics, but that’s really hard to do when it’s used as a punch line in the very first issue. An example of this can be seen on this page, where one of the characters, apparently the main character’s girlfriend, shrugs off that she could have seen the main character almost nude. After he throws her out of the room, she starts pounding on the door. Not only does Giga get an easy tournament victory that he didn’t deserve, he also has a nymphomaniac girlfriend. What a guy.

There are a couple reasons why tournament battles are a recurring concept in so many shounen manga: the arranged battling environment allows for matches that otherwise might not easily occur in the flow of the narrative, and it’s very easy to write for. However, the concept is hindered in Boss Rush Society by several problems:

  • Too much meta humor. The main character actually stalls during his only tournament match to explain his weakness to spikes using video game logic. Yeah, you probably already figured this out, but Boss Rush Society has a video game theme. Not only did Giga show up late to the tournament and only have to face one tired opponent, he called for a time-out as a stall tactic to charge his energy. Perhaps for his next match, he can take on crippled girl scouts.
  • Too much exposition. One of the elementary rules of a visual medium is “show, don’t tell”. The first few pages established nicely that the backbone of the plot would involve tournament battles, so one would assume that any other dialogue would serve to set the stage for the next tournament battle. An excuse can be made for this for character development, but that leads to another problem:
  • The characters are seriously annoying. Every single character in Boss Rush Society is needlessly grating. Because of this, I wanted to see every character lose every match, regardless of which side they’re on. TokenDuelist needs to get the memo: you only portray a character as annoying when you want them to be perceived as annoying, such as when you don’t want your audience to like them. There isn’t a single character in Boss Rush Society that comes off as likable, the main character least of all. The single action of taking advantage of a weakened opponent for an easy tournament victory is more morally reprehensible than anything that the “bad guys” are ever shown to do.

Boss Rush Society is an excellent example of what can go wrong when someone who is not Japanese and plays lots of video games and watches lots of anime attempts to draw a manga of their own. Japanese manga and anime artists are better at it for a reason: they typically go to an art school where they do lots of practice drawing manga and anime before going on to become professionals. At that point, they can work shifts as long as 16 hours animating, get paid about as much as fast food employees, and some of them don’t even have homes because they’re allowed to sleep at their desks. It’s usually by about this point that many of them realize that they’ve made a mistake. Weeaboo artists typically aren’t aware of what being a manga/anime artist is like, otherwise, they’d probably stop trying so hard to be one.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take much more, I’ve read the entire series. As of now, there’s less than two dozen pages. One might think that this is because TokenDuelist is just getting started, but his archives indicate that this isn’t the case. He only releases his webcomic one page at a time, with updates as far as several months apart. TokenDuelist had nearly two years since the inception of his webcomic to carefully craft it’s 23 pages into a masterpiece, but it seems like he waived this so he can draw lots of furries on DeviantArt, and what we got instead was Boss Rush Society.

Worse yet, the spaced-out timing of releases for pages of Boss Rush Society suggests that, for each page, he carefully considered it’s content, and deliberately decided that they were worthwhile additions to his series. There is a reason why most suicides are quick: otherwise, a person might realize that what they are doing is a bad idea, and not go through with it. TokenDuelist gives himself as many as two months at a time to review the content of each page before making the conscious decision to add it to his webcomic.

Like I said before, TokenDuelist is confident. So confident that he actually links to his webcomic on message boards. Obviously, he thinks his webcomic is great, otherwise, he wouldn’t have such confidence.

I think it’s about time to give Boss Rush Society it’s score, which is a Robbie Rotten out of ten:

robbie rotten out of ten

Which is somewhere around a 2.3.

More pros than cons to providing citations and staying on topic

I’ve decided to provide a critical analysis of a student essay by the name of “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life” authored by Marjorie Lee Garretson, and published in the student newspaper of the University of Mississippi in April 2010. Those who wish to read the essay may do so here.

In her essay, Marjorie makes the case for a vegetarian lifestyle by stating that there are health benefits to adopting it. She also makes a moral appeal, citing the treatment of livestock used as food sources. At some points in her essay, Marjorie makes some statements that are quite emotionally charged.

The title of her article, “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life”, is somewhat misleading, as it would lead the reader to expect an enumeration of both pros and cons to a vegetarian lifestyle. Instead, Marjorie makes a one-sided case for vegetarianism that leaves little doubt as to her position. What’s more, the title leads one to believe that the focus of the article would be the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, when in fact much of the article consists of moral appeals, such as criticizing the treatment of livestock used as food sources, even though the treatment of livestock has no direct impact on the lifestyle of a person who is either vegetarian or prefers a conventional diet.

Persons who argue for a vegetarian lifestyle typically begin on a rational-sounding note, though much of the time, their arguments quickly degrade into emotional appeals and ad-hominem attacks against anyone who would dissent. Marjorie, however, wastes little time getting to accusing adherents of the conventional diet of overlooking or ignoring for convenience the multiple benefits that she claims the vegetarian lifestyle provides.

Of course, she was only getting started. She lists the supposed benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, which she says includes:

  • lower body mass index
  • significantly decreased cancer rate
  • longer life expectancy
  • avoiding Alzheimer’s disease
  • avoiding osteoporosis

There is a problem, however. She provides no citations. Marjorie’s claims are not considered common knowledge. They challenge conventional thinking. As such, citations are important in backing up her claims. Without citations, she is allowing her audience to assume that these claims are conclusions reached as a result of years of study by educated professionals, and it would seem as though she expects that her claims will be accepted by her audience without inquiry.

This is a trend that continues in Marjorie’s writing. She goes on to claim that “It takes less energy and waste to produce vegetables and grains than the energy required to produce meat.” Do you see where this is headed? She goes on to cite the statistic that it takes 16 pounds of grain and 5000 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat. This statistic is among the most repeated among those advocating a vegetarian lifestyle. However, the statistic is false. She provides no citations, however, so she is apparently banking on her audience not being particularly inquisitive, and accepting her claims on the basis of “sounds like it’s probably true.”

However, just because something sounds eye-opening doesn’t mean it’s true. A study by the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology in 1999 has found that 2.6 pounds of grain is used to produce a pound of beef in developed countries, while in developing countries the number is 0.3 lbs (for anyone wondering, this is what a citation looks like).

Vegetarians claim that the land that is used to raise cattle and other livestock could be more productive if that same land would be used to produce vegetables and grain. However, not every plot of land is suitable for growing grain. Livestock is typically raised on marginal lands that are not suitable for growing vegetables.

Marjorie goes on to claim that the runoff of fecal matter from meat factories is the single most detrimental pollutant to our water supply. She provides as her only citation in the entire article the Environmental Protection Agency, even if she doesn’t mention a specific study, leaving her readers with the task of verification. Perhaps Marjorie was employing some psychology, intentional or not; people tend toward the path of least resistance, so they’re likely to accept her claim rather than do their own research (such as with a simple web search) to verify.

The most significant source of pollutants according to the United States Department of Agriculture is nonpoint sources. Agricultural pollutants are among the pollutants that fall under this category. However, the EPA lists among these pollutants “Excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas”. So, ironically, Marjorie’s only citation in her one-sided case for vegetarianism is for a study that states that runoff from growing vegetables is among the most significant pollutants for water. Other sources of nonpoint pollution include urban runoff, salt from irrigation practices, and other sources.

The following charts show the ratio of pollutants in water supplies. Interestingly, as much as industry is demonized for being a significant polluter, it comes nowhere close to non-point pollutants, to which agriculture contributes heavily:

Percentages_sources_of_pollution_that_impair_water_bodies

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Public Domain

Marjorie goes on to cite inhumane treatment of livestock. While there may be a problem with the treatment of livestock, vegetarians seem to idealize life in the wilderness. Anyone who thinks that life in the wilderness is idyllic has not spent a significant amount of time outdoors. Most people don’t have to. It’s typically done for a refreshing change of pace or to enjoy scenery.

For animals, however, it’s a different story. Animals live there. And for them, it’s a constant battle for survival. Nearly every organism in the wild is surrounded by predators and scavengers, many of which would happily accept them as their next food source, and not care about their objections or opinions on the matter. When animals do die, it’s usually a painful death as a result of predation.

Humans give livestock a pretty sweet deal. Livestock get to live with no fear of predation. They get enough to eat, whether it’s enough to sustain them or plenty to prevent them from getting too lean. When the time comes to make them into our food, we make things much quicker than predatory animals do.

Marjorie also voices objection to the practice of using livestock to obtain dairy products such as milk and eggs. She likens the practice to that of puppy mills, and accuses adherents of the conventional diet of looking the other way when it comes to livestock.

Again, the title of Marjorie’s work is “More Pros Than Cons in a Meat-Free Life”, which leads the reader into believing that the potential cons of the decision to go vegetarian would be considered. However, Marjorie doesn’t list any. It shouldn’t be a surprise by now that Marjorie was not interested in providing an objective analysis of the options. It should be easy to guess what her position is.

If Marjorie were to touch upon the cons of living a meat-free lifestyle, she’d have a fair amount to discuss. For example, those who are strictly vegan have no sources of iodine or essential B vitamins, a deficiency of which can lead to mental retardation and irreversible neurological damage. However, that’s a potential for discussion that she ignored.

Due to the deficit of citations and the overall level of professionalism in this piece, I do not believe that Marjorie’s essay is University-level work. The University of Mississippi should have felt at least a little hesitant in posting it on their web space as representative of their student’s work, and if this work is reprinted in any textbook (as it is in mine), students would be right to critically analyze it to identify Marjorie’s mistakes, and avoid making the same ones themselves.

Works Cited:

“CAST Animal Agriculture and Global Food Supply.” Publications. CAST, 1 Jan. 1999. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.cast-science.org/publications/?animal_agriculture_and_global_food_supply&show=product&productID=2836&gt;.

“What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution?” What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution? EPA. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/whatis.cfm&gt;.

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire: My impressions

Over the last several weeks, I’ve played some Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, one of the two newest installments of the Pokemon series. If you’re a Pokemon fan, you might already have at least one of these two games, so you probably don’t need a review to tell you that you’d like this game. Actually, this is less like a review and more like my own impression of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, the one that I’ve played.

So, you might be thinking of asking, “Is this the kind of game that anyone would like, even someone like Adolf Hitler?” Let me tell you something about Adolf Hitler: Adolf Hitler was a Nazi. In fact, he was the biggest Nazi of them all.

just say no

There are bound to be people out there that don’t like Pokemon ORAS (short for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which is like a tongue twister to say). However, I think it’s a pretty well-made product.

Yes, ORAS is a remake of Ruby and Sapphire, and while there’s a real element of nostalgia to it, so much was added to the experience that it could hardly be called the same experience as the originals.

For one thing, the presentation is very similar to that of Pokemon X and Y, which I don’t recall meeting very many complaints. The overworld map generally has an overhead perspective, as do caves and buildings, with some exceptions. Generally, this aspect of the presentation has improvements over X and Y, which seems natural, considering GameFreak has had more experience with dynamic perspective since it was first implemented in X and Y. Like X and Y, it’s the presentation in the battles that really shines. Each of the pokemon models are well rendered and animated, with a cel-shading effect that makes the battles look almost like the Pokemon anime. GameFreak did very well with this in X and Y, and that they took the same approach in ORAS is a decision that seems pretty sound.

Perhaps the biggest issue for Pokemon ORAS is the balance of gameplay, though this issue wasn’t nearly as severe was it was in Pokemon X and Y (where it took a long time to get the third badge, and after you did, you could get a mega pokemon, and the badges generally came in rapid succession). Much of the lack of balance with X and Y came from the fact that once a player could use mega evolutions, they could sweep most of the rest of the game with ease. In ORAS, there is a little more balance with mega evolution, but the way it was introduced was pretty odd. About midway through, the player receives a legendary pokemon that wasn’t available until the post-game in the originals, and it could mega evolve. The player doesn’t have to battle it, either. It’s not broken like either of the Mega Charizards, but it’s still a very strong pokemon.

Like the originals, though, once you capture Kyogre or Groudon, you’re set until the post-game. Pokemon ORAS takes this further, though, by allowing the player to access their newer, stronger “Primal Reversion” forms, which allow what was already a couple really strong pokemon to hammer most of what the game can throw at them.

For the most part, though, if you’ve played Pokemon before, you already have a good idea of what to expect from ORAS, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deliver an excellent experience. In fact, there are many standout aspects of ORAS compared to the originals. For one thing, there’s much more character development. It’s a little surprising, but it would seem that the main character you don’t choose (from between Brendan and May) becomes a somewhat romantic interest as the game progresses, in a manner similar to Shauna from X and Y. Characters such as Matt and Tabitha are far more interesting and well-defined (rather than being the generic Admins they were before), and Archie actually turns out to be quite an interesting character. The character of Wally is also much further explored (and he gets a pretty sweet battle tune).

Many Pokemon players consider the real meat of the game to be the post-game, when new areas become accessible, and the flow of the game is not limited by a plot. In ORAS, there is a bit of an extension which occurs after the initial victory over the champion in the form of the Delta Episode. The Delta Episode is an additional scenario which adds more to the story of the Hoenn region, mega pokemon, and Rayquaza. A lot can be said about the Delta Episode, and among those things is that there is a lot of dialogue! But there is also a lot of character development, particularly for Steven.

Pokemon ORAS is a game which seems like it was made with the fans in mind. One could imagine the following exchange having taken place between GameFreak and a Pokemon fan:

Fan: Wouldn’t it be cool if we could fly on a pokemon around a 3D map of Hoenn?
GF: I agree. Let’s call that “soaring” and put it in ORAS.
Fan: I think it would also be cool if it were easier to get a pokemon with high IVs, such as through chaining or something like that.
GF: I agree.
Fan: Wouldn’t it also be cool if hatching eggs became easier because there was a long path to ride a bike on?
GF: Why don’t we make a circular path that can be traversed by only holding down one direction on the plus control pad?
Fan: I think that it would be sweet if Rayquaza got a mega form that didn’t need a mega stone, and was much stronger than it had to be.
GF: Okay. It’ll be interesting to see what competitive communities such as Smogon do about it.
Fan: And a bunch more mega evos would be nice.
GF: Agreed.
Fan: And it would be cool if one of the event pokemon became obtainable in-game.
GF: Why don’t you play ORAS and find out which one?

Yeah, there are new mega evos, which has had a real impact on the competitive scene. Also impacting the competitive scene is a new set of move tutors. Some pokemon seriously benefit from this, such as Greninja, which gets low kick to answer Chansey, and Gunk Shot. Another nice touch is that obtaining pokemon through Dexnav allows the player to encounter pokemon that know egg moves. There are also a lot of legendary pokemon to obtain in this game. For competitive players, there’s a lot to like in ORAS. But if a person plays competitively, they’d probably want a copy of Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire, because at least until next year they are considered to be the definitive Pokemon games.

It’s obvious that a lot of effort went into Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, and the result is that they turned out excellently.

10 out of 10

YouTube Channel Review: UrAvgConsumer

The pursuit of quality is a quest for consumers everywhere, and we help each other out when we write reviews. I’ve decided to do a review of a YouTube channel, and the channel up for review is UrAvgConsumer, which can also be referred to as the Beats by Dre channel.

beats apologist

One thing that’s obvious right off the bat is that UrAvgConsumer is a huge fan of Beats by Dre, a brand of headphones famous for being endorsed by Dr. Dre, being worn by celebrities, being expensive, and sounding like garbage. This is disappointing, until one considers that the headphones were originally made by Monster, the same company that set an MSRP for an HDMI cable at $120.

Something that’s expensive like Beats by Dre should not be getting mixed reviews. But it is, and people keep going out and purchasing them. Many of those that do rave about it’s sound quality. Others return them to the store, because there’s more to the audio experience than bass, and other, less expensive headphones do bass better.

UrAvgConsumer’s video selection includes:

  • Beats by Dre Pro Unboxing
  • urBeats vs Beats Tour Comparison (a comparison of his favorite headphones is unavoidable, since he spends a lot of time discussing the Beats brand)
  • My Top 5 Favorite Headphones 2.0 (he lists his favorite headphones, which are pretty much bass headphones and this list includes [guess what!] Beats by Dre)
  • New Beats Studio Review 2013
  • What’s in My Gadget Backpack 2.0 (which, yes, does include a Beats product)
  • My Beats Headphone Ranking / Purchase Guide

That last one should give pause for thought. This guy calls himself “UrAvgConsumer,” short for “Your Average Consumer,” and he has enough of these expensive headphones to make a purchase guide for them including footage of his experiences with the products. I admit that I haven’t gone around surveying consumers to compile data on their audio purchasing habits, but I don’t think it’s a bad assumption that the average consumer doesn’t have a few thousand extra dollars in the mattress to go out and purchase dozens of headphones, with emphasis in those large purchases being bass headphones and Beats by Dre.

I know that some might say that I’m not making a fair assessment of UrAvgConsumer’s YouTube channel unless I’ve watched each of his videos. I don’t have to watch each of his videos to write a review of his channel, and I don’t want to watch dozens of his videos. It’s enough to see that he has a number of videos reviewing Beats products and flirting with his girlfriend to get the idea just what kind of content he’s offering the internet. Also, if I did watch more of his videos, more channels like his may appear in my recommendations, which was how I came to be aware of his channel to begin with.

And while we’re talking about recommendations, I think YouTube could benefit from a clickable box (similar to their Watch Later option) that removes certain videos from your recommendations so you don’t have to watch them to get them out of there. There was one video that I was trying to avoid that appeared in my recommendations for about a month. When I did finally decide to watch it, even with my lowered expectations, I was still disappointed.

As for UrAvgConsumer’s channel, I’m giving it a score of 4 out of 10. Which I think is pretty generous. I was considering giving it a score of 3, but UrAvgConsumer’s channel provides plenty of material for nerd battles, which are sometimes a little amusing. Other than that, it’s hard to recommend this channel at all. Unless you happen to be a Beats by Dre fanboy who is out to attempt to justify his purchase, which is something that UrAvgConsumer is happy to help you with. Just don’t count on the comments sections to help you as much in that endeavor.

BugCo. BugBox: Cricket convenience, or killer death evil bad? An objective review.

I have some pet toads. I like feeding them, but I’ve been travelling a considerable distance for store-bought crickets. I did a search for closer pet supply stores, and found one with an interesting product: BugCo.’s BugBox.

It’s a neat little thing. It was actually stored among the merchandise, but it was a small box of 25-30 crickets with a bit of “wafoo” in the box, which is apparently a proprietary cricket feed that keeps them sustained while in their packaging, and pre-gutloaded, making them ready for consumption by reptiles. Yes, the crickets were live.

I decided to give the product a try. The box of 25-30 only set me back $2.99 plus tax, which was okay considering that I was paying 10 cents a cricket at the other place, and those ones were plainly starved. When I would place the loose crickets in the keeper, they’d go for the Fluker’s feed as though they hadn’t eaten for days. On the other hand, the crickets in the BugBox seemed content. I had placed some of the Fluker’s High Calcium Cricket Diet and Fluker’s Cricket Quencher that I had on hand into the BugBox (I didn’t know what “wafoo” was, so I wanted to be sure they were well-fed). The crickets in the BugBox didn’t seem nearly as hungry.

The BugBox has a perforated pattern on the side designated as a “Pencil Punch Out” and next to it were the simple instructions to “Place in Vivarium”, which suggests to me that once the opening was made, the crickets would dispense themselves. I decided to give it a try.

It didn’t take a couple toads long to find out what was going on, and they went right up to the opening of the box. One of them (named Big Buf) would eat the crickets just as they came out of the container. Another one (named Herbert) was hiding somewhere in the vivarium, so with Big Buf eating them as they were coming out, there was little chance that Herbert would get any. So I opened a side of the box and shaked some crickets out. As crickets often do when dispensed in such a manner, some of them looked for hiding spots, so they’d probably come out again at a later point, effectively dispensing themselves at a time of their choice.

I actually expected to find some dead crickets in the BugBox when I opened it to check after the live ones were out. I had found an exoskeleton, which was apparently the result of shedding, which is something that crickets do. Aside from that, I didn’t see any sign of crickets having died in the packaging.

I decided to try to find out just what “wafoo” was, but after a Google search, I didn’t find an explanation. I’d like to know what it is, considering that what goes into the feeder crickets I take home in turn goes into my toads. If I were to know about it’s nutritional content, that would be okay.

What I found was that not everyone had the same experience with the BugBox that I did. Some complained that crickets were starving and/or eating each other. This was odd, was there wafoo in the box, or not? Some complained that some of the crickets died in the box. Personally, I think this may be a sign of carelessness on the part of the retailer rather than a fault with the product itself, which some reviewers apparently could have likened to some sort of buggy-Auschwitz. Sometimes, in spite of efforts to ensure otherwise, feeder crickets do die. This is true whether they come in the BugBox or are purchased in bulk. Yes, crickets can die in the BugBox, and it’s much more likely to occur when sitting on a store shelf for a while.

As far as the dichotomy mentioned in the title is concerned, the BugBox is certainly a cricket convenience. I’d think that pet supply clerks would prefer it, considering how time-consuming and poorly-rewarding it would be to spend a significant amount of time counting crickets into small plastic bags with bits of egg carton. I know that if I had a degree in English, Psychology or Philosophy, I’d want to do something different for a living. With the BugBox, the clerk can spend more time with the kittens and puppies, and I can pick up some crickets without worrying about whether the shipment of fresh crickets actually didn’t come in, or the clerk is just making an excuse because she doesn’t want to count them again.

That is, when the BugBox is in stock.

Score: 8/10

I wouldn’t mind giving the BugBox a score of 9/10, but there is something that bothers me about it just a little. I still don’t know what exactly wafoo is, or what it’s nutritional value may be. Other than that, it’s an excellent product, but I’d be a little concerned about buying it from pet supply stores that aren’t so negligent.

Pros:

  • Seriously convenient
  • Crickets are already fed
  • A bargain at $3 for 25-30 crickets, though the price may vary
  • In-box design gives crickets plenty of room without standing on each other, and there’s a plastic window to view them.

Cons:

  • Wafoo is still a mystery substance
  • Careless retailers may result in dead crickets, though to be fair, it does still happen.