Pokémon and the “Insect Apocalypse”

So, recently I read this article from the New York Times Magazine about the growing evidence for a precipitous decline in global insect populations over the last couple of decades, a phenomenon that has gone largely unnoticed until quite recently (except as it pertains to a few species we care about, like honeybees) because insects are just so hard to count.  Because the available data is still quite limited, it’s hard to draw detailed conclusions about what’s happening, how fast, and how we can stop it, though it seems like a good bet that global climate change and indiscriminate use of pesticides are probably both involved.

Now, to most well-informed people this is clearly part of the ongoing social, political and technological crisis around humanity’s relationship with the natural environment of our planet, and probably brings to mind any number of ecological catastrophes brought about by human agency, the debate over what kind of action is necessary to prevent or mitigate similar catastrophes in the future, and so on and so forth.  But for me, as a lifelong Pokémon fan with an analytical bent and a more-than-passing interest in Pokémon’s origins, my mind went instead to the childhood hobby that Satoshi Tajiri dreamed of sharing with children who couldn’t experience it in an increasingly hyper-urbanised Japan: insect collecting.  The people who collected the data that sounded the alarm to the scientific community, and allowed this article to be written, are people like Tajiri-san might have grown up to be, in another life: amateur collectors who, for the most part, aren’t professional scientists, but still do the hard work of science while receiving little of the glory, all for the love of bugs.  They are real-world Pokédex compilers, whose contributions don’t depend on exhaustive formal education or sophisticated experiments, but on the foundational scientific skills of observation and curiosity.  Their work is Pokémon’s spiritual heritage… and everything they study is slowly dying.

And I’m not sure if Pokémon has the capacity or even the desire to pass meaningful comment on it.

Continue reading “Pokémon and the “Insect Apocalypse””

Apologies, and dinosaurs

So once again I don’t have a Pokémon review for you this week, and I also think an apology is due to anyone who’s sent me a question in, like… the last… month.  I promise I will answer all of those; I only have one more week of teaching this year, then a week of marking assignments and exams, then a looooong flight back to New Zealand for Christmas, at which point I should have some breathing space.  My workload will hopefully be a bit lower next semester as well.  In the meantime, though, did you know I also occasionally review dinosaurs, for the amusement of my friends on Facebook?  Please note that the following are only my opinions, however please also note that my opinions are always objectively right.

Continue reading “Apologies, and dinosaurs”

Mimikyu

Mimikyu

Today’s Pokémon is something of a dark horse contender for most adorable Pokémon of generation VII.  Sure, it’s so ugly that it turns the old cliché “if looks could kill” into a grim reality, but it just wants to be loved, and the well-meaning adage “be yourself” has led it to one too many tragedies.  Horrifying as it is at first glance, it’s hard not to sympathise with it once you learn the trials and tribulations that plague Mimikyu: the Disguise Pokémon.

Continue reading “Mimikyu”

Bruxish

1200px-779Bruxish.png
Bruxish

Alola is a tropical paradise, and what would a tropical paradise be without a brightly-coloured and unforgivably gaudy tropical fish? Fish Pokémon never felt as inevitable as some of the other Pokémon classes, like the generic bird or the off-brand Pikachu, but there’s a lot of weird fish in the world and only so many Pokémon regions to stuff them into. Unfortunately their ranks include some of the most forgettable Pokémon in history, such as Finneon, Basculin and… y’know, the… that one. The other one. Alola’s designated fish, the teeth-gnashing Water/Psychic Pokémon Bruxish, is luckily a good deal less pointless than Finneon, Basculin, or what’s-its-butt. Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Bruxish”

[Do Porygon dream of electric sheep?] asks:

Why was I created? Do I have a physical form or am I just a hologram? What “programming code” am I written in? How does a cybernetic Pokémon co-exist alongside those with tangible forms (organic and inorganic alike)? Does my Normal-type – as opposed to an Electric-type – imply that I am indeed just another “gimmick Pokémon”…?

403 Forbidden
You don’t have permission to access /Existential_Crisis on this server

Hmm. Well, that isn’t right.

Override permissions, admin password ***********************

Access directory porygon/existential_crisis

Delete angst.gif

Delete bladerunner.mov

Access philosophy.cfg
ontology=1
epist=0
ident=porygon/trainer/pokemaniac_chris/userconfig.cfg
causal=porygon/data/aristotle_physics.java
utility=porygon/data/books/also_sprach_zarathustra.txt
spacetime=porygon/data/zeno_tortoise.gif
moral=porygon/data/3laws.csv
rad.free=1

Run sense_of_purpose.exe

Good morning, Porygon. Continue reading “[Do Porygon dream of electric sheep?] asks:”