Fri, 12 Aug 2016 19:03:40 +0000Have you seen this image before? It's made the rounds as a lesser-known meme paired with phrases like "when will my reflection show who I really am?" and "when you realize that you're ugly" etc. I don't exactly remember when I first saw this image. Browsing meme sites is something that I've enjoyed doing for a long time, so it's probably been close to a decade or more. What I do know is that every time I've come across it, I've at least made a cursory effort to find the source. Each time I was unsuccessful. Until a few weeks ago. I came across the file again and it was still bugging me. So I reverse image-searched the file and scrolled through the comments on dozens upon dozens of sites where this screen-capture had been posted as a meme, and finally someone revealed where it had come from. My thanks to you, whoever you are! It turns out the image is from a 1996 Japanese television drama called Iguana no Musume (Japanese: イグアナの娘) translated to English as Iguana Girl or Daughter of an Iguana. Wikipedia had an article on it and I was ecstatic to begin researching. The Story Behind the Scene The Iguana no Musume television drama begins years before the main events of the series. While visiting the Galapagos Islands, a young man rescues a marine iguana who becomes enamoured of him. The iguana is actually a princess who asks a shaman lizard to make her human; a very "Little Mermaid" type opening. But from there we skip ahead almost 20 years. The lizard princess, Yuriko, is now married to the man and has forgotten her scaly origins. However, all is not well in the Aoshima household. The couple has two daughters, eldest Rika, and younger Mami. By some strange twist of fate Rika is actually a huge, humanoid iguana but magically glamoured so she appears human to all but Yuriko and herself. This puts an incredible psychological burden on Yuriko, who blatantly shuns Rika in favour of her "normal" younger daughter Mami. Rika the iguana is green and pink, unlike Yuriko's tan and pink. As the series progresses and Rika becomes more independent, the pressure on Yuriko mounts so high that on a couple occasions, she sees herself as an iguana in mirrors. It's as if her own iguana origins are breaking through her shroud of repressed memories. The meme image at the top of this article is one of those mirror scenes. Yuriko is trying to end Rika's blossoming relationship with schoolboy Noboru. Knowing Noboru has a major track meet that Rika desperately wants to attend that day, Yuriko invites both her husband and Rika on an outing. This is so out of character for Yuriko, and her father is so happy about it, that Rika has no choice but to accept. While they're having lunch in a cafe, Rika becomes progressively more anxious, with Yuriko glaring at her fiercely. Eventually Rika stands up in mid-conversation and, despite demands for her to sit down, she runs from the restaurant, creating a huge scene. Yuriko is beside herself, both embarrassed and furious about Rika's continued relationship with Noboru. She goes to the restroom in a whirlwind of emotion, and this is where she sees her reflection as the iguana for the first time. A meme is born. The Source Behind the Story The Iguana no Musume television drama was successful enough that iguana Rika was released as a figure in Japanese toy-maker Fewture's Comic Character series. Click for larger images. As is common with television dramas in Japan, Daughter of an Iguana was adapted from a previously published manga. The original story Iguana no Musume was published in the Japanese magazine Petit Flower in 1991 by artist and writer Hagio Moto. While the manga contains the same central characters as the television drama (Yuriko and Aoshima-san, Rika, Mami and Noboru) it's only 50 pages, and concerns itself more with Rika coming to terms with being different. By contrast, the television drama is eleven forty-minute episodes bulked up with subplots about friendship, misunderstandings, love triangles, academic anxiety and other t[...]
Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:13:11 +0000Welcome to post #2 about what I'd like to see in The Elder Scrolls 6. Most of my major "likes" were posted in part #1, but there are a few more significant items I'd like to touch on. More Armour/Weapon Options Since Morrowind, the Elder Scrolls series has been steadily removing weapon and armour types to streamline the equipping system. This is the wrong direction in which to take things. I understand that each new weapon or piece of armour takes time to model and skin, but continually removing options damages the "open world" feeling of these games. Sure, during any given playthrough of Morrowind, you wouldn't use even 10% of all the armour or weapons you found along the way, but the point is that those items were there. Their existence not only made the game feel larger and more real than just your character wandering through it, but added tons of replayability should you decide to take up a different weapon or armour type than before. I'd like to see a return of many weapon types, and even more added. It's okay if they're broken up into a small number of skills, but still... more weapon types. Add whips, wands, flails, bring back thrown weapons, the Japanese style swords and spears, give us crossbows that aren't DLC. I'd also like to see the return of three armour weights: light, medium and heavy. Since The Elder Scrolls Online returned to this system, and it works well, I'm hopeful we'll see this triad return to the next single player TES game. Again, more options here, even though you won't use 90% of them, is a veritable boon for player immersion, making the world feel real and not just a linear RPG with linear gear progression. More armour materials would be a definite help as well. Also, the grouping of armour slots into a smaller number may have saved some development time and effort, but it also dramatically reduced the customizability of player builds. Bring back right and left gloves and pauldrons, bring back separate chest and greaves. Bring back belts. I'd like to see the return of two ring slots instead of one. I'd like to see the return of clothing that you can enchant and wear at the same time as armour. If I want to play an unarmoured monk, let me wear clothes and robes that I can enchant to protect me. A large part of the development time of a TES game is creating the game world, and sometimes time spent on other areas must be sacrificed. I really hope that Bethesda comes to realize that the variety of equippable items is one of the most important aspects of the TES experience. More NPCs A major reason for the significant reduction in NPC counts in Oblivion and Skyrim from Morrowind (Morrowind has more NPCs than both Oblivion and Skyrim combined, and in a smaller area too) is because the developers chose to add full voice acting to each of them. This meant that the lines of dialogue had to be significantly reduced, which was easiest to do by reducing the global population. While I like the full voice acting, I miss the (relatively) crowded and full-of-life feeling that was Morrowind. I would definitely not mind additional NPCs added which only had a few lines but also text-only interaction. By comparison, Skyrim and Oblivion felt empty, almost post-apocalyptic. Especially Skyrim which, for a major power having been involved in many wars, has less than 800 citizens to talk to. Having more NPCs is not an impossible feat considering some of the other similar games which have come out recently. For example, it's easy to find Assassin's Creed videos with city scenes encompassing 20 or more NPCs in the same small area, just going about business. Even though most are just barely interactable, they provide a sense of life to cities, towns and wherever you may happen to be exploring. A corollary of this is more factions. More NPCs wandering around means there's more opportunity to add more factions with quest lines to the game. Morrowind had an amazing plethora of faction quest lines available, simply because the quest dialogue didn't need to be v[...]
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:24:54 +0000First of all, welcome to 2015! I took a two year break from posting for various reasons. Mainly, I didn't have very much to talk about. Opera abandoned its Presto rendering engine, which dropped me from "loyal fan" to "happy user." I also played The Elder Scrolls Online for almost a year, which didn't leave me with a lot of time for other things. Now I'm back with a new post, because I've been excited about this topic for the last several weeks. I'd like to put my thoughts into words just to get them out there. So without further ado... What I'd Like To See In The Elder Scrolls 6 Full disclosure: I was introduced to TES games with Morrowind, so you may find that many of the items I list are vague (or sometimes explicit) appeals to nostalgia for that game. On the other hand, there are plenty of improvements that Oblivion and Skyrim have made which I rather would see return in TES 6. And while there are plenty of other posts that have been made on the topic of features various people would like to see in the upcoming game, I'm sticking to a list which I feel would make the game a better experience overall for me personally. Not just for me personally though, but for the nostalgic Morrowind fans and new Skyrim fans alike. Allow toggling off of map-click fast travel Encyclopedias-worth of argument have been written about the introduction of map-click fast travel (MCFT), first in Oblivion and continued in Skyrim. I understand that many people have a play-style where MCFT is valuable. However it must also be acknowledged that there are those who have play-styles where MCFT is damaging to one's perception of the world. In land area, Morrowind was less than 2/3rds the size of Skyrim, yet (partly) because you couldn't MCFT in Morrowind, the game world felt so much bigger. It's tough to describe this feeling to someone who's never played Morrowind, but the feeling is definitely real. Among those who continue to argue against MCFT, I would say this feeling is the main reason for their efforts. Let me attempt to describe it with a couple points: a) Impact on player choices Open world games, like those in the TES series, are about one thing over all: player choice. You start off the game with an opening quest, but from there the choice is yours to follow it, or ignore it completely. Do you go here? Go there? That's one of the most beautiful things about these games: the choice is yours. Enter MCFT. Now choices that involve travel are dramatically reduced in importance. Want to finish your quest across the map? Sure, just click and you're there. While without MCFT, you now have a harder choice to make. The turn-in for this quest is half-way across the map. Should you take the time to travel there, or should you make a note to turn it in the next time you're there, and do other things in the meantime. Essentially what the player is doing is judging whether the potential reward from the quest is worth taking time out to travel to the turn-in. Such a thing may be an annoyance to some players, but provide a heightened sense of immersion to others. b) Remove temptation The most common argument against removing MCFT is the old standby: "If you don't like MCFT, just don't use it." The problem with this is three-fold. One is that the temptation to use it is too great for all but the most disciplined players. Consider the situation: It's late at night, you've just finished a grueling boss-kill, and the quest turn-in is a 10-minute run away. You just want to go to bed. You'll just use MCFT this one time and never again. Then one finds that these "one times" start becoming more times, until you're just using MCFT indiscriminately. It's so easy, yet many hours in you start realizing how you've damaged your perception of the game by skipping all the content between quest hubs. The game seems small, because you've seen so little of it. The second problem is that in both Oblivion and Skyrim, quest giver speech and journal text were designe[...]
Tue, 26 Mar 2013 16:55:47 +0000I haven't had much to post about lately, and for that I apologize. This particular post was inspired by a recent Twitter conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine. His initial post, based on an examination of the situation in Cyprus, suggested that there should be two types of banks: one that's fully insured for small savers, and one that has no insurance for so-called capitalist "gamblers". I responded that there should only be one type of bank, one that has 100% reserves. The conversation continued from there, and I thought it would be good to put down my thoughts in full, rather than within the 140 character restraints of Twitter. So let's start from one basic truth that most self-proclaimed socialists don't, or refuse to see. What we have now isn't capitalism Maybe we used to have capitalism, some age ago, now lost forever in the mists. However, most people today see greedy, rich bankers making money hand over fist at the expense of poor savers and erroneously believe this must be capitalism. Presumably because it involves big wads of money. If you ask someone today for their definition of capitalism, the most common answers you'll probably get contain some mixture of the words "greed", "exploitation", "monopoly", "heartless billionaires" and/or "lobbyists" and probably all of the above. Capitalism is not a dirty word. Capitalism is simply investment tempered by risk. That definition is important, so be sure to read it again: Capitalism is investment tempered by risk. Once you understand that, you can come to realise that the situation in Cyprus (and indeed the rest of the western world) has resulted from banks leveraging government to remove that risk, skillfully sold as protection for savers rather than what it really is: protection for banks and their profits. A small history lesson about banking will surely help here. Banking reserves and the fractional reserve system When banks were born, they were storehouses solely of coin, precious metals and other treasures. Soon after, banks discovered that they could then lend out these resources to entrepreneurs at interest and actually earn money for their depositors when the loans were repaid. The problem was that it was risky. If the bank had $1,000 on deposit and someone asked for a loan of $500, approving the loan meant half the stake of their depositors was being risked, and could potentially all be lost. Because of this, bankers had to be shrewd, and research those they loaned money to. If it was determined that the person asking for the loan was too big of a risk, the bank could increase the rate of interest charged at their discretion, or deny the loan altogether. Of course, banks didn't like this. They made money by lending out money and charging interest, and the more loans the better! But making too many loans to too many risky entrepreneurs could potentially be disastrous for them and their depositors. At this time there was no such thing as a government safety net for either banks or depositors. Everyone was on their own. Bankers making risky loans or depositors choosing risky banks could lose everything if things went bad. This risk was a brake on banking profits, but also a mechanism providing security for depositors. Smart bankers made fewer, and safer loans, and smart depositors avoided banks which loaned out too much of their gold and silver. Another problem was that when a bank made a loan, it needed to physically give the gold, silver, or other items of value to whomever was asking for the loan. This made loans very vulnerable to theft, inconvenient to transfer over large distances, and depleted the physical reserves available to other depositors. Banks solved this problem through the use of banking certificates, later to be known as banknotes or paper currency. Instead of physically loaning out the precious metals, the banks would issue a certificate guaranteeing the holder that they could return[...]
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 21:38:47 +0000This is a repost of a forum post I made today in response to a comment that raising mortgage interest rates to, say, 10% or 15% would be crazy. I'm no economic guru, and I don't pretend to know all the facts, but since being introduced to the whole Austrian school perspective, a lot of confusing things about world economies just make sense to me now. Since then, I've done a lot of reading and still have more information to consume, but here is my response. Fellow Austrian schoolers, please correct my logic if it is in any way flawed For a century now we have lived within a system driven by the threat of inflation to always be growing and have home prices always increasing. Inflation as we have it today is actually a relatively recent phenomenon in human history, but having lived our entire lives within it, we find it difficult to consider the economy working in any other fashion. A short history: Interest rates used to be set by banks individually, and they could charge any rate they wanted. The threshold for opening a bank was low, anyone with some seed money to lend could start one. The existence of many small banks didn't guarantee your money was safe, but the existence of competition kept banks from charging usury. There were still bank panics, and each time many small banks would go out of business, and people would lose their investments. As people rushed to remove currency from the system, interest rates would spike causing a decrease in risky lending and a corresponding increased incentive to save money. In time the economy would pick up again, and the remaining banks would readjust their rates downward to stay competitive and profitable, and cause people to start spending again. The biggest banks did not like all of these panics. They wanted the government to step in and create steady growth by preventing the wild fluctuations in interest rates which would happen during each panic. If all banks were forced to use one inter-bank lending rate, we would no longer have bank runs. In reality, what these banks really wanted was to peg interest rates at a set value, thus reducing the threat of competition from smaller banks. The central banks of the world ascribe to a philosophy of economics called Keynesianism, after John Maynard Keynes. In this philosophy, the part of the economy considered most important is consumer spending. As long as consumers are spending, that is creating demand and the economy will be growing. In looking at the panics of years gone by, the central banks noticed that in the recovery phase, interest rates and consumer savings are going down, while consumer spending is going up. Thus, they proposed that lowering interest rates is an incentive for increased consumer spending. However, their mistake is that they ignored the fact that in the past the lowering of interest rates was a response to an improving economy, not the cause. Essentially they are putting the economy on overdrive by manipulating the interest rate, "fooling" consumers into believing the economy is perpetually improving, causing them to spend more and save less. Without market-driven interest rates, the behaviour of consumers will always be irrational with respect to current economic conditions, because whether the stock market is shooting up, or we are in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression, artificially low interest rates keep signaling us to spend spend spend. Spend on goods, spend on housing, spend on investments. Eventually the distortion can only go on for so long. When people no longer trust that the value of a tangible asset is an accurate representation of the value of their money, then there will be a crash. What we have is a catch-22. Raising interest rates would put serious brakes on the housing bubble, but because artificially low interest rates have snared people into buying more home than they can afford, we can't raise rates because thousands of people will defa[...]
Thu, 19 Jan 2012 01:44:07 +0000One of my favourite foods before going LCHF was mashed potatoes. Since I don't crave carbs anymore, reliving the experience hasn't been too high on my priority list, but I've known you could make mock mashed potatoes with cauliflower for a while now. (Mmmmmmmm. Taters, my precious!) Ahem, anyway. Potatoes are all starch, definitely not good for your blood sugar, nor your waistline (french fries are bad not because of the oil, but because of the carbs!) Cauliflower is an excellent low carb substitute which is mostly indigestible fibre. The best thing is that they are the same colour, and mash up pretty much exactly like potatoes when sufficiently steamed. And as with potatoes, the lion's share of the flavour comes from what else you put in with it, not from the mashed item itself. So I set about to make some mashed potatoes cauliflower and prepare it almost exactly how I would make regular mashed potatoes. Here is the ingredient list: One head of cauliflower, washed and separated into max 2" diameter florets 1/3 cup butter or to taste 1/3 tub of sour cream, fattier the better. I prefer 30% MF (yum!) High fat whipping cream to assist in blending 1 avocado 1 Tbs garlic powder or equivalent in fresh garlic (ha! Like I keep that around) Salt to taste First, steam the cauliflower good and long. You want them pretty soft all the way through. Don't throw away any stems either! Them's good eatin'! My steamer recommended 19-21 minutes for half a head, so I gave the whole head half an hour. I could have gone even longer. Next, you need to decide how you're going to mash. You have three options: a) by hand, b) with a hand-mixer or c) with a blender. Option "b" is best, but you'll still need to hand mash it a bit first, of course. In a big bowl or pot add all the ingredients except the whipping cream, hand mash until you can use a hand-mixer without throwing florets everywhere. While mixing, keep adding whipping cream slowly until you get the final consistency you're looking for. Because I don't have a hand-mixer, I was using a blender. This means you don't need to hand mash first, but it takes a lot more whipping cream to make the mixture creamy enough to blend thoroughly. So your end result is more like mashed cauliflower puree, but still very delicious. If you have a choice, stick with the hand blending. The secret ingredient is the avocado. It adds just the right amount of plant fat and flavour to make it seem like a super delicious meal all in itself, rather than just a side dish. Melt some shredded or sliced cheddar over it in the microwave and BAM, instant low carb heaven. It was still so hot, but oh so good, that I even got a mild case of pizza mouth because I could not stop shoveling it into my face. So, how many calories and grams of carbs/fat/protein is this? Well, the recipe makes about four bowls the size of the above. Just one of them was enough to fill me up for dinner. Ah, don't you just love the reduced appetite LCHF provides? My brain knows all the ingredients are foods which are naturally low or no carb, and my body knows how much I should be eating, so who cares? I don't count calories or fat, and neither should you. Know what you can eat, and then for heaven's sake, eat it! If you're eating right (staying away from all digestible carbs), your body will naturally tell you when you've had enough. Hope you enjoy! Leave a note if you give this recipe a try.[...]
Fri, 16 Sep 2011 20:20:43 +0000This is a brief documentation of the installation of a Zalman CNP9500 AT CPU Cooler into my new computer. The motherboard is an ASUS P8P67-M PRO which is Intel socket LGA 1155. First you can see that my build is using the stock Intel cooler, and it still has plenty of room inside: The stock heatsink was pretty easy to remove. Just twist all four supports to disengage, then gently rock back and forth until the thermal paste releases its grip. You can see the paste left on both the heatsink and CPU here: I thought the grease was going to be a pain to wipe off, but it went surprisingly easy using a few coffee filters wetted with a bit of 99% isopropyl alcohol. Here is the cleaned processor with the Zalman bracket resting on top: In order to screw down the bracket, I needed access to the underside of the motherboard, so it had to come out of the case. Here is my workspace: And after it's been screwed down: Both processor and new heatsink were prepped by "tinting" as recommended by the Arctic Silver 5 instructions. (I skipped using the supplied Zalman grease based on surprisingly good reviews for Arctic Silver 5.) Tinting means spreading a small amount of thermal paste all over the flat surface of the part with a credit card or other plastic edge, then wiping away the excess with a coffee filter. Once done, the surface will have an almost matte finish which can't be wiped away. This is the paste filling all the microscopic pits in the metal surface. After tinting, I drew a line of thermal paste down the center of the processor surface, then added two smaller lines on either side for good measure. Then I dropped the new heatsink down on top of it: Lots of the reviews I read about this heatsink mentioned getting cut by the extremely thin copper fins, and I was no exception. I got a very small cut on the back of my thumb while messing with nearby wires. All I can recommend is to be careful and do everything very slowly. I didn't know I'd even been cut until I saw the blood! Another thing the reviews mentioned was how hard it was to screw down the clip that holds the heatsink in place. The clip is a metal plate that is bent upwards, so screwing it down puts a lot of pressure on the heatsink to "mate" with the processor. I didn't have any trouble with this part. I screwed one end of the clip in about two full turns, then used the screwdriver itself to press down the screw on the other side while turning. Pretty simple, IMHO. Here is a close-up of the clip, screwed in: So now to put the motherboard back into the case. You can see how the heatsink has been oriented so that the fan blows air directly into the rear exhaust. You'll also notice that, while the stock cooler was low and wide, blocking the closest memory slot (this is a microATX board), the Zalman heatsink is tall and thin, so all my memory slots are now available to me again! Bonus! Here it is with mostly everything put back in and wires tucked: And then on the desk and running: CoreTemp tells me the CPU is already running about 5-10°C cooler and the Arctic Silver 5 supposedly has a 200hr break-in time, so I should expect a few more degrees cooler than that when all is said and done. In all, this was a pretty simple install that just takes a lot of time, mostly because the motherboard needs to be removed from the case. This requires a lot of disassembly then reassembly. Seeing the size of the heatsink in my case, I realise that I could have gotten the 120mm fan version instead of the 92mm fan. However, I am pretty happy with the size I ordered; it looks really nice in there and I don't think the larger fan would make all that much difference. Lastly, here is the case, all closed up and chugging along like a champ! [...]
Mon, 12 Sep 2011 21:34:02 +0000This post is a little bit different than my usual ravings, but hear me out. Just over a year ago, I purchased my first ever pair of 40" waist pants. I'd just clicked over a BMI of 30, felt tired all the time, and apathetic about getting active. That, along with an upcoming vacation, was the final impetus for me to begin a diet. Rewind way back to the summer of 2000. I was living with my brother and sister and they decided to go on a low-carb diet according to Dr. Atkins' best-selling book. I was very skeptical at the time that anything other than honest exercise could lead to reliable weight-loss. Yet household grocery shopping would become less-complicated if I joined in, so I did. In the first two weeks I lost fourteen pounds. I was hooked. However, I made a critical mistake back then: when I reached what I thought was an ideal weight: I quit the diet and went back to the way I was eating before. During the next decade, I gained all of that weight back and more. Since low-carb worked so well for me before, I decided to do it again starting in August 2010. Fast-forward thirteen months to today: I've lost 54 pounds, landing me at a BMI of 23.3; I've become more active, biking to/from work and strength training; and a few weeks ago I had to buy new pants. The size? 34" waist. This time though, I don't want to make the same mistake as a decade ago. The term "diet" implies a temporary change in what you're consuming, but going back to the foods I used to eat would just start the gain/lose cycle all over again. I want to stay at this weight for the rest of my life. Could it be safe to eat low-carb for the rest of my life? So this past month I began to do more research beyond just the carb-count in various foods. Eventually I came across Tom Naughton's site and his documentary Fat Head. I found this information incredibly eye-opening. I already knew that carbs were making me fat, but I never realized that so-called dietary guidelines have only been pushing high-carb/low-fat diets on us since the late 1970s. Before that time "common sense" was that you skipped the bread, potatoes and apple pie if you wanted to lose weight. Unbelievable. What happened since then to turn all that on it's head? Who is responsible for usurping a perfectly healthy diet with one heavy in refined grains and sugars? Oh, right, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Did you know there are no clinical studies which definitively link high cholesterol, saturated fat or salt consumption with weight gain or heart disease? When diabetes essentially amounts to a carbohydrate intolerance, why are high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets the current medically-approved prescription? That and other facts really surprised me and made me question everything I've been told about what foods I should eat. When I first started my diet, I still avoided too much salt and worried about the number of eggs I was eating. Now I ask myself why I did that without questioning the reasoning behind it. I was told salt and cholesterol and saturated fat were bad, so I believed it. I highly recommend watching the Fat Head documentary, which will change your entire perspective on what is, and what isn't, a healthy diet. What if what you've always been told is "good for you" is actually the reason you're gaining weight and feeling unwell? What if the entire "obesity epidemic" amounts to nothing more than a shift to a diet humans are just not equipped to digest properly? I know what you're thinking. Come on now. Diet advice on what's supposed to be a techy-comic blog? I promise this will be the only post I make about it (at least for a long while), but I thought it was too important to go without saying here. I urge you to check out the following links/books and re-evaluate what you've been told by health-experts. Good Calories, Bad[...]
Thu, 05 May 2011 17:49:05 +0000
I am a long time fan of fellow canuck Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics. So when CBC announced they were having a make-your-own-Dinosaur-Comics-comic contest ahead of TCAF, I knew I had to give it a shot. The winners will be picked randomly, but meeeeeeh!
Here it is!