Osprey asks:

What are your opinions on the current state of the monarchy? (Of the Commonwealth, I mean. Although, feel free to share your opinions about the Galarian monarchy as well…)

uh

to be honest I don’t really give a $#!t one way or another, and I especially don’t give a shit about Henry and Maggie or whatever their names are

Like, theoretically the Queen of England is my head of state here in New Zealand, but her power is even more vestigial and ceremonial than it is in the UK; nothing she decides actually affects anything.  I reckon when Lizzie 2 eventually kicks the bucket (which feels right now like it could happen pretty soon, given the recent death of Phil the Greek, but bear in mind that her mum lived to 101; I think Lizzie might just never die), the existential horror of King Charlie 3 will probably jolt people out of complacency a bit, but actually doing anything about it constitutionally just seems like so much of a hassle.  I mean, we’d have to change the curtains, and take down a bunch of plaques, and figure out what the hell the Governor General actually does so we can make someone else do it, and who has time for that $#!t?  At the very least, I think people probably won’t be terribly keen to put Charlie 3 on our coins and $20 note in Lizzie’s place, so I think that practice will most likely end with her death.  Something that possibly isn’t immediately apparent to non-Commonwealth people is that, even though the British monarchy basically does nothing, Lizzie is kind of a cultural landmark in her permanence and omnipresence.  We’ve technically had the same head of state since my grandparents (three of whom are now dead) were teenagers.  I think people are a lot more attached to her personally than to the monarchy as a concept now.  There’s this old joke about Oprah being the “queen of America” but I think it’s actually kind of a useful way of thinking about it: imagine if Oprah died, but she had a dramatically less charismatic son who’d once been recorded in a phone conversation daydreaming about what it would be like to live as his girlfriend’s tampon, and everyone in the United States was supposed to just treat him as “the new Oprah” and let him run the talk show and the book club, et cetera, et cetera, and everyone had to pretend he was just as good.  Even if you don’t give a $#!t about Oprah, something about that situation might seem a little off to you.

In some ways it would make a lot of sense to declare New Zealand a Republic with no constitutional ties to the UK; the trouble I have with that – and this is sort of specific to New Zealand – is that quite a few of our big political issues still hang off the Treaty of Waitangi, which is an agreement between the native Māori tribes and the British Crown, and… look, it’s a long story that probably isn’t worth getting into here.  The point is that I suspect there are a lot of people in this country who would like to use a clean-slate Republic of New Zealand to declare that the new government no longer has to honour any of the Crown’s previous commitments and obligations to our indigenous population under the Treaty, and I don’t like that notion one bit (not that the Crown ever has honoured them, mind you, but it’s the principle of the thing).  But then again, it’s… complicated.  We do also, like, have a king, here in New Zealand; we have the Māori King, Te Wherowhero VII.  We could totally replace the impotent ceremonial colonist monarchy with an impotent ceremonial indigenous monarchy.  I’m sure that wouldn’t be controversial at all (not least because the Kīngitanga movement is a development of the colonial period, not a traditional political structure, and doesn’t represent all Māori).

The other thing is that people in New Zealand just… reflexively don’t like having strong opinions about anything.  We had a referendum a couple of years ago to change the flag to something without a Union Jack on it, but the main finding of that whole exercise was that no one really cares what the flag looks like and none of us can think of anything worth replacing it with.  Which, with a rather elegant cyclicality, brings me back to my original point: I don’t give a $#!t

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do for the night?
– Stay with Miguel

You decide, on balance, that the risks of descending the mountain at night, or even just sending Aura, are probably not worth the benefits of warning Ellie and Mal about your new intel – such as it is.  You’re still maybe 50/50 that Miguel is just a paranoid lunatic who’s picked up some unusual static on the radio and interpreted it as an “enemy” code, and you kind of want to keep your eye on him, just in case he is somehow responsible for the strange thefts at the camp.  Besides, you think Blue will probably be back with the palaeontologists by now.  Personally I think you’re overrating Blue’s sense of duty there, but I suppose it’s possible he’s decided to mooch off their supplies in exchange for providing some kind of half-hearted protection.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVIII: Chatterbox”

The Dag asks:

Which of the 7 Ancient Wonders would you pick to see in its prime?

Oh, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, easy.  That’s the one we know the least about.  The Pyramids are still there (albeit past their glory days); we have bits of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Pharos lighthouse was still there for most of the Middle Ages and we have the foundations; we can make a lot of educated guesses about the Colossus of Rhodes and Pheidias’ chryselephantine statue of Zeus because we have so much other Greek sculpture (I think we have some artistic depictions of the statue of Zeus too?  The Byzantines hung onto it for a while after the Pagan temples at Olympia were shut down).  For the Hanging Gardens, we literally have nothing to go on but second- and third-hand written descriptions.  To be honest, we’re not even completely certain they were in Babylon – a good chunk of Babylon has been excavated and there’s no sign of them, and I don’t think they’re mentioned in any known Babylonian cuneiform texts.  I’ve seen it argued that they were actually in Nineveh (near modern Mosul), the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which was kinda like… Babylon 2.0 for a while (that could conceivably have caused our Greek sources to get a little muddled).  Or perhaps they were just the rooftop gardens of the royal palace, and the Greeks got a little carried away in describing them.

But despite everything we don’t know, I think they must have been pretty special.  Building a rooftop garden, the size of a palace, in Baghdad, full of plants that don’t naturally grow there, with pre-industrial technology, shows a damned impressive command of irrigation and water management.  And besides that, what we’re describing is basically a botanical garden, a place you can go to see exotic plants that require special care.  To my mind, that’s a special moment in the history of science as well as engineering and culture, one that shows a real interest in understanding and controlling the variety and beauty of the natural world.  The Greeks saw elaborate gardens full of exotic plants as major distinctive features of Babylonian and Persian culture, and even though they sometimes looked down on their eastern neighbours for being “soft” or “effeminate,” they couldn’t deny the beauty and grandeur of their cultural achievements (our word “paradise” comes, through Greek, from the Persian word for garden).  The inclusion of the Hanging Gardens in the traditional “seven wonders” attests to that (although, admittedly, that list is mostly just one dude’s… like, opinion, man – honestly, what gets to be a “wonder” is a pretty interesting topic in itself).

Leo M.R. asks:

In many ways I think Glacia from RSE and Flint from DP are polar opposites, pun semi-intended. Not only are their personalities the reverse of each other (Glacia is cool, elegant, and reserved; Flint is passionate, boisterous, and a little unhinged), their situations are also reversed (Glacia is an Ice-type specialist in a hot region; Flint is a Fire-type specialist in a cold region). Despite all that, they’re both penultimate Elite Four members with only two fully-evolved Pokémon of their chosen type specialties available in their respective regions (Glalie and Walrein for Glacia; Rapidash and Infernape for Flint), and yet they have the complete opposite approaches to team-building. My question is: whose approach do you think worked better? Glacia’s “Imma stock my team full of repeats if it means sticking to my type specialty!” approach or Flint’s, um, imaginative “these things are hot!” approach?

Obviously this doesn’t apply to Glacia from ORAS – where she gets to add a Froslass at least – and Flint from Platinum (and hopefully BDSP as well).

Bonus question: if Glacia from RSE were to do a Flint and fill her team with a Glalie, a Walrein, and three other non-Ice Pokémon, what do you reckon those three other Pokémon would be?

I suppose I prefer Flint in theory and Glacia in practice.  I like Pokémon teams that give a character a little bit of flexibility in responding to threats against their specialty type while still feeling thematic.  Flint’s Diamond and Pearl team is just so… all over the place.  Drifblim for hot air, Steelix for hot rock in the Earth’s mantle, Lopunny… is vaguely feminine in design and therefore “hot”?  Glacia’s team composition is boring, but her duplicate Pokémon still manage to have slightly different movesets and do slightly different jobs (as do Phoebe’s duplicate Banette and Dusclops, in the same Elite Four lineup) while contributing to a fairly coherent overall strategy (at least by the standards of generation III AI trainers).

For alternative Pokémon on Glacia’s team… well, let’s assume we have to pick Pokémon that are both among the 200 in the Ruby and Sapphire Hoenn ‘dex and able to learn at least one Ice attack.  Let’s also try not to load her up with just Water Pokémon; that’s just the easy way out of this kind of problem for Ice-type trainers.  Glacia has this vaguely Nordic look to her, she’s from another region that’s far away from Hoenn and much colder (she claims that Hoenn’s heat is good for training Ice Pokémon), her slogan is “flaming passion in icy cold” and she’s very serious, but also very elegant and poised.  Her existing team uses Hail in combination with defensive and disruptive effects like Attract, Encore, Light Screen and Body Slam paralysis to wear opponents down.  I think the Pokémon that most immediately jumps to mind as a possibility for her is Gorebyss, who signifies Hoenn’s tropical climate, is beautiful but deadly, and has access to moves like Confuse Ray and Amnesia that fit Glacia’s battle style, as well as Ice Beam.  Nothing else sticks out to me as such an obviously good fit, but I’d like to offer for consideration an Ice Beam Altaria (elegant, aloof, can paralyse with Dragonbreath) and Ice Punch Alakazam (poised and focused, can capitalise on the chip damage inflicted by Glacia’s other Pokémon; bonus points for giving it Ice Punch and Fire Punch).  Neither of those Pokémon can learn Hail, so we pretty much have to give it to Gorebyss, but I think I’m okay with that.  It’s just a shame Castform is so terrible or we could use that as an extra pseudo-Ice-type – then again, Phoebe does have a Sableye (in the pre-Mega Evolution days, mind you) so this Elite Four wasn’t above scraping the barrel a little.

[This question was promoted to the front of the queue because the submitter is supporting me on Patreon!  If you enjoy my writing and like getting my answers to cosmic dilemmas like this one – or just think I deserve something nice for my work – consider visiting https://www.patreon.com/pokemaniacal and signing up!]

whatever asks:

How tf is phione a legendary but not Volcarona, Rotom or Spiritomb????

Well, there is no real definition of what a legendary Pokémon is, other than “the ones we say are legendary Pokémon.”  It seems to me like the distinction has two parts.  There’s a real-world reason, related to how you, the player, go about obtaining the Pokémon practically, and there’s an in-universe reason, roughly related to how well-known the Pokémon is.

Continue reading “whatever asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVII: Lunacy Intensifies

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Which Pokémon do you turn to?
– Aura, the Beautifly

You need to do something about this smog before it chokes you – and hey, you’re a smart kid, you know exactly how to deal with that.  You have a Flying Pokémon; time to use her.  Aura appears from her Pokéball in a flash of light, and without even a word from you, she begins to flap her wings, using Gust to blow the clouds of choking, toxic smoke back into the cave it spewed out of.

Two things now happen at once.  First, with the smog gone, your vision is now clear and you can see a squelching, purple goo-like Pokémon that you recognise as a Grimer, clearly trying to sneak up behind you using the heavy brown clouds as cover and just as clearly alarmed that it has now been exposed.  Second, you hear a startled yelp from the ledge up above you, where the first enemy commands came from.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVII: Lunacy Intensifies”

hugh_donnetono asks:

How attacked do you think the “I Chews You” guys would feel if they saw this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xUDN6g2H28&ab_channel=ProZD

I don’t know; LET’S FIND OUT

(TBH I know Ben, at least, doesn’t even like La Croix very much but I think Ian may have something to say about this)

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVI: Conservatively Speaking

[Catch up on the story so far here!]

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you want to investigate?
– Visit Lexa, then go looking for the Super Nerd

You decide that Mal and Ellie’s comments about a “weirdo” who hangs out at the mountain’s peak are the best thing to follow up, so you head over to the tent where they said their fossil conservator, Lexa, is busy working.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XXXVI: Conservatively Speaking”

Reports of my death have been mildly exaggerated (also cake)

I can see, definitely, how people might have gotten the idea that I am dead, and I’m not not dead. I had a lot of assignments that were all due all at once, because I’m doing a high school teaching diploma and our first school visits for observation were delayed due to a short COVID lockdown in March and then all the due dates for everything had to be pushed back until we ran out of time to push them back into, because we had to go on our first practicum assignment. So a whole bunch of stuff was due at once, and I did die for a short while because it was more convenient for me to work from Hell (you know how it is; they have some good research libraries and you can eat as much junk food as you want), and then the next day I had to immediately drop into a school and start teaching and getting to know the students, and the first two weeks of that were exhausting. I have been trying to write, but the school is, in some ways, y’know, physically located in Hell, in the Fifth Circle, which is obviously a bit of a commute from my preferred hangouts in the Seventh, so I am somewhat dead, but really only a little bit. I didn’t really intend to take an extended break like I have, but I did also become slightly unmoored from linear time and obviously that took… some indefinite length of subjective time to sort out.

Anyway I have an episode of A Pokémon Trainer Is You coming out tomorrow, and I have the next two weeks off so I should get something done in that time.

But more importantly (and you might have seen this if you follow my Twitter for some reason) I made a Parthenon cake over the last weekend for an online “Build Your Own Monument” competition! Everyone knows the Parthenon, right? This thing?

I thought anyone who’s still here might like some documentation of that, so here’s my process:

Continue reading “Reports of my death have been mildly exaggerated (also cake)”

some random person asks:

You mentioned that, in gens 1 through 4, all of the “archaeologists” in the Pokemon games were either glorified grave robbers or hobbyists (with the latter category being pretty much entirely represented by Cynthia and maybe Eusine). Has there been any improvement in the portrayal or archaeology since then?

I think so!  I mean, a lot of the archaeologist-as-adventurer-and/or-grave-robber stereotypes are baked into pop culture in a way that it’s difficult to get away from, but I actually wrote an article about this for PokéJungle not long after Sword and Shield came out, which you can read here.  I think Sonia’s storyline in those games presents an attitude to the past, and the study of the past, that is kind of unique in Pokémon so far and much more representative of what history and archaeology are actually like: a process of negotiating and reshaping our understanding of the past and our relationship with it.  All Pokémon games since Gold and Silver have cared at least a little about the ancient past, but I think Sword and Shield really “get” it, more so than any of their predecessors have.