Who was right, Aegon or Rhaenyra?
So, I didn’t know the deep lore of A Song of Ice and Fire well enough to remember on my own exactly who Aegon and Rhaenyra are or what there was for either of them to be right about, so take this with a grain of salt… but I talked to Jim the Editor about this and read part of a wiki article, and it seems pretty clear-cut that Rhaenyra was the rightful heir and got fµ¢£ed over? I mean… it’s A Song of Ice and Fire so obviously the whole story is ridiculously complicated and I assume everyone involved was absolutely awful in one way or another, but the actual inciting dispute of the civil war feels to me like an open-and-shut case.
Should Hannibal have gone for Rome?
Well… to my mind, he did. I mean, that’s what he was doing in Italy. It’s just that the Romans’ strategy after Cannae was to ensure that a direct assault on the city would always be prohibitively difficult and dangerous. I’m not a military historian or an expert on the Middle Republic, and maybe I’d have stronger opinions about this if I were, but I just don’t think our sources for the Second Punic War give us a good enough picture of the overall strategic situation for there to be any profit in second-guessing the moves of a general who was there on the ground. Like, clearly he thought attacking the city wouldn’t have worked, and he knew a lot more about the capabilities of both the Roman and Carthaginian armies than anyone alive today. Jim the Editor thinks Hannibal probably saw attacking Rome as too big a gamble, risking his entire army and his foothold in Italy when he could just keep wearing the Romans down and demoralising them until they eventually capitulated. That’s not actually what happened, of course, but it’s very difficult to know whether the alternative strategy would have produced better results.
Which Pokemon would you choose for your personal sigil and why?
Should this just be my favourite Pokémon? Is there a reason for it not to be my favourite Pokémon; should I have a better reason than that?
Well, my favourite Pokémon is Vileplume (for reasons discussed herein). The Pokémon that represents me, that really is who I am and aspire to be deep down, is Druddigon, who lives in a cave being surly and irritable, occasionally emerging to terrorise a village and eat people. So I guess it’s one of those two (or both; I could have my arms quartered or something, right?). I hope that answers your question.
Do you prefer pahoehoe or aa?
I, uh… can honestly say I’ve never thought about it or developed a preference until this moment, but I suppose I like the smooth, flowing, wavy appearance of pāhoehoe. For what it’s worth, Jim the Editor says he likes a’a.
Hey, so I know you’re an utter madman and would like to eliminate types from the chart. That sounds really unnecessary but. If you got to rebalance the type chart a bit, change some of the dynamics, what would you do? How will you help the poor ice types? Will you finally stop the steel types?
I think you’ve maybe misunderstood me, because to me these are two unrelated issues. I don’t think the 18-type chart is, in principle, impossible to balance (I do think that 900 Pokémon are, in principle, impossible to balance, but that’s another whole thing). I don’t want to cut down the number of types because I think it would make the game more balanced (I mean, it might, but I don’t think it’s the only or best way to do that, and it wouldn’t be enough on its own). I want to cut it down… as weird as this will sound, basically for aesthetic reasons – to whit, I think it’s an ugly, overcomplicated mess that doesn’t actually need to exist. Beautiful or elegant game mechanics, to me, are ones where complex gameplay and strategy arise from the interactions of simple rules and principles. The type chart means that Pokémon does this in reverse: the fundamental rules are complicated and counterintuitive, but the resulting gameplay is not particularly any more interesting than it would be using a greatly reduced system.
I will admit, having said all this, that (like many things) I say this stuff partly just to be contrary. I’m not even all that committed to it; I just want to force everyone to think about it. I mean, people talk all the time about what new types they’d want to add, from time to time people ask me to talk about types I’d like to add; so clearly no one thinks the type chart is sacred and can’t be changed. Why is it so much more uncomfortable to talk about getting rid of some of it; why is anyone bothered when I say that I think that might be a good idea? It’s an uncontroversial axiom of good design that you should leave out or trim down elements that are unnecessary or bloated, but after last year’s… invigorating discussions… about Sword and Shield, I get the impression that a good chunk of the Pokémon fan community is pretty strongly opposed to what I think is a fairly obvious principle. I’d like people to consider, when they talk about game design in Pokémon and all the cool ideas they want to add, whether there are also things they’d like to remove – because that can also improve a game.
Anyway, to the question you actually asked… whatever, Steel should have a lot of resistances but maybe it could do with one more weakness (Water?), Grass and Bug are comically shafted and shouldn’t be resisted by so many things (maybe lose Flying for Grass and Ghost for Bug), thematically I just think it would be really neat for Normal to be strong against Fairy (it should really be strong against something)… and at that point I guess you should probably stop and playtest for a bit before tinkering any further. Something like that.
Hey, longtime fan, do you think you would ever do another speed nuzlocke like you did for fire red a few years ago?
That was… sort of a unique situation. Jim the Editor and I normally live on different continents, but for New Year’s Eve at the end of 2017 we were together, with no other company, in a Scottish winter with not a lot else to do. So, precisely like that, no, absolutely not, or at least not in the next few years. But I won’t rule out doing some lowish effort write-ups of Pokémon playthroughs in the nearer future. Which, uh… knowing me, will transition seamlessly into high effort write-ups that I can’t possibly finish. Che será, será.
Did the concept of cousinhood exist in Ancient Greece? I JUST learned that Jason and Odysseus were cousins on their mothers’ sides (side note: their grandfather was a master thief?!), and I was wondering if this ever translated into the concept of kinship to the Greeks back then, and if it ever influenced why the two of them had notable similarities (like being known for legendary naval journeys and having flings with powerful sorceresses).
So, on the specifics of Jason and Odysseus: a lot of minor characters in Greek mythology have very different family trees depending on who you ask, and the mothers of Odysseus and Jason are very minor characters. Our main source for Odysseus is, of course, Homer, and Homer says that Odysseus’ mother Anticleia is the daughter of the legendary thief king Autolycus. Now, Homer was probably alive in the 8th or 7th century BC (side note: Homer isn’t real, Google “the Homeric Question” some time; it’s wild, but this is 100% not the time to litigate that $#!tstorm). Our main source for Jason, on the other hand, is Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, which was written in the 3rd century BC, centuries after Homer was dead in the ground (if he was real, which he wasn’t), and Apollonius says that Jason’s mother was Alcimede, the daughter of Clymene, who was herself the daughter of Minyas, the legendary king of Orchomenos – no mention of Autolycus. In addition, though, we have the scholia to Apollonius, which are basically the margin notes made on the text by scholars in the Early Byzantine period (like, 5th to 8th centuries AD), and they are the ones who, quoting other texts now lost to us, give her name as either Polypheme or Theognete and claim she was the daughter of Autolycus. I think the only primary text we actually have that backs this up is a 2nd century BC encyclopaedia of myth attributed to Apollodorus, but he gives yet another name for the mother, Polymede, and he probably got that from Hesiod, who gives that name in his Catalogue of Women but doesn’t explain who she is (at least not in the bits we have, because there is no complete text of the Catalogue of Women and we have to rely on quotations in other authors; are you beginning to appreciate the scope of the insanity we have to deal with here?) (side note: Catalogue of Women is an awful, awful title in the 21st century; it sounds like what a pickup artist calls his diary).
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