Friday, July 31, 2020

The Amazing World of Dinosaurs – Book Review


The Amazing World of Dinosaurs
by James Kuether

Needless to say, the world of dinosaurs is amazing. These unique creatures have ceaselessly captivated and intrigued the human race and prevail in the mind of numerous children all around the world. However, what we really encounter at present are their lifeless remnants in the form of fossils. By means of science, paleontologists attempt to work out the veritable reality of their world, but we need a kind of tool for "reviving" these remarkable animals in our mind, enabling us to visualize what the dinosaurs would have been like when they were alive. Paleoartists are people who fulfill this noble & crucial role, and it is a blessing that James Kuether, a member of this profession, brought to us The Amazing World of Dinosaurs, a dinosaur book that he wrote himself and filled with his own beautiful illustrations.

The Amazing World of Dinosaurs is a great summary that gracefully guides readers through the Mesozoic history of the non-avian dinosaurs. The author uses elegant language which is couched in conversational style, guaranteed to entertain the readers and keep them hooked on the subject throughout. His lifelike illustrations are absolutely stunning and they are certainly delights for those who appreciate these incredible creatures. To my mind, these are two things that stand out in this book.

This 176-page volume starts with a concise discussion on the history of dinosaurology, paleoart, and the importance of imagination in science as well in reconstructing these breathtaking animals. Then, the readers will be guided through the dawn of the dinosaurs in the Triassic Period up to the demise of the non-bird kind at the end of the Cretaceous Period around 66 million years ago. I am heartily glad that this book includes information about new discoveries such as Medusaceratops and Dakotaraptor, which I was not very familiar with. What is more, The Amazing World of Dinosaurs contains a pronunciation guide (which would help with the often daunting act of saying the names of prehistoric animals and plants correctly) as well as a glossary (which would greatly assist readers in understanding unfamiliar paleontological terminology used in this book). Overall, The Amazing World of Dinosaurs is well worth reading & collecting and it will be a nice addition to your dinosaur book pile.

This book is complemented by a deck of cards which is offered separately. Click here to purchase the cards.

Have you read The Amazing World of Dinosaurs? What do you think about this book? Share your opinion in the comment section below!
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Monday, July 20, 2020

The Ends of the World – Book Review


The Ends of the World
by Peter Brannen

If you are a reader who has traversed my blog and (hopefully) enjoyed my posts for quite some time, you must be aware of my unmistakable infatuation with the iconic fauna of the ancient past: dinosaurs. Devoting an enormous share of my life to learning about these fascinating creatures has inevitably led me (as I believe it would do to anyone else) to a more global picture of the veritable nature of life itself. Dinosaurs are part of the wondrous tapestry of life forms that have taken up residence on our planet and, thus, they, we, and all other organisms share the same, single story of occupancy on this celestial body. With that in mind, exploring the wonderful world of dinosaurs often means to take a further step to understanding more geological & paleontological facets, which can include the ultra-tragic events that have shaped the Earth into its current state. That's where The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen comes into play.

The Ends of the World is a glorious volume that explores and details the apocalypses that our planet has undergone in its history of complex life (this is the first book focusing on the subject I've ever read). Gaia is never steady and there have been five (5) mass extinctions pummeling our beloved planetary home and exterminating the majority of life at particular moments in time. These are known as the Big Five mass extinctions and include the (in)famous end-Cretaceous die-off, which wiped out our non-avian-dinosaur relatives, and the unimaginably grim & horrendous end-Permian massive annihilation, which nearly zapped all life on Earth to total extinction. An award-winning science journalist, Brannen hops from one spot to another to examine the reality of these planetary-scale mass deaths. In this book, you'll encounter many experts giving their takes on the horrific mega-events, which do not necessarily present agreeing views. The author has a brilliant knack of engaging readers with his deft use of words (and a modicum of humor), and his writing will teleport you to a realm where you can seamlessly marvel at the grandeur of the natural history of our planet, albeit it involves the macabre quality of global massacres.

Nevertheless, Brannen does not stop at that; his discourse also touches on other issues, such as whether or not we are currently experiencing a legitimate sixth mass extinction. Not only does The Ends of the World cover the past and present, but it also comments on the future fate of our planet, with the last chapter dealing with the ultimate extinction that will befall the Earth eons from now. There are certainly many things that people can learn from this book – two that I found intriguing are the fact that we actually live in an interglacial (i.e. a brief warm period sandwiched by ice ages) and the effect of agriculture on the explosion of the world's population. However, the most relevant one to our current situation undoubtedly has to do with the way we humans treat our sole home in the universe: whether we stick to the present careless & environmentally-damaging behavior or switch to more prudent attitude towards the Earth will determine its course for many, many years to come. Grab The Ends of the World and learn something new about our planet today.

Special thanks to Steve Brusatte (who is also featured in the mass extinction volume) for recommending this book! If you haven't, you must also check out his magnificent book on the history of the dinosaurian dynasty The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs (to read my review, click here).

Have you read The Ends of the World? What are your thoughts on this book? Share what you think in the comment section below!
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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Stoicism

Philosophy is not much of a big appeal in my life. As most of you are probably aware, aside from the English language, it is the field of paleontology (and particularly dinosaurology) which entrances me the most and takes up a great portion of my life – even though gaining knowledge about this subject has inevitably philosophical consequences, as evident in the grand dinosaurian volume Why Dinosaurs Matter by Kenneth Lacovara. However, recently (and possibly even before that) I discovered an amazing TED-ed video explaining a school of philosophy called Stoicism, and I honestly was awestruck by the brilliance of this framework of thinking.


My dearest online dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary defines "stoic" as "someone who accepts things without complaining". While this covers part of the philosophy, Stoicism is actually more than that. As you can learn from the animated video, the stoics hold four (4) cardinal values: wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage. Nevertheless, it is true that the most striking point, at least to me, is the practice of endurance and resilience, which is attained by a genuine understanding of how the universe works.. The narrative goes like this: We live in a super complex world system and, regardless of our wishes and hopes, there are events that go as we want and those that run off the course, which naturally would give people displeasure and disappointment. While we do have control over some events in our life, there are certainly others that happen entirely independently of our own actions. And it is these controllable events that have to be our focus and deserve our attention – otherwise, our life will be overwhelmed by negativity, shattering emotions, and toxic experiences that drag us backwards and even fell us into abysmal gloom. This tenet is in alignment with what the philosopher Epictetus wrote: "We suffer not from the events in our lives, but from our judgement about them!"

One excellent example comes from another TED video by Massimo Pigliucci, the same philosopher who gives us the lesson in the short, but insightful animation. Pigliucci takes an instance from a major element in most humans' lives: romantic relationships. The success of a relationship is determined by both the parties involved in it. A man can love his girlfriend in the most sincere and kindest way, but no matter how magnificent his love is, he literally cannot make her respond in kind since her very reactions are not under his control – they are up to his girlfriend. Stoicism teaches us to focus on being the best version of ourselves, i.e. the most lovable person for our partner, because it is what is actually under our control.

This principle can extend to and be applied in many aspects of our life: participation in competitions, job promotions (also mentioned in the TEDx video), raising children, and so on and so forth. Stoicism is a very relatable philosophy indeed and I love the fact that being a stoic means to perceive the world as it is, without sugarcoating the reality or distorting views of what really happens.

So, what do you think of Stoicism? Are you a stoic? Leave your comments below!
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Monday, June 22, 2020

Monster Rancher 2: My Monster YouTube Playlists

If you are one of the raft of my WhatsApp contacts, chances are you are already aware that I've been crazily playing the old but gold game Monster Rancher 2 (MR2). I am so enamored of this monster-raising game that I recently wrote an article listing PSX ROMs and the monsters that can be acquired from them via the Shrine feature – the writing process, of course, involved innumerable instances of "CD swapping" (to read the post, click here).

The Gaboo Soldier Captain Dave gives a Straight punch to Reikoku,
inflicting a lot of damage on the Shogun

One of the most fascinating aspects of MR2 is, without doubt, the battles!!! Hence, the chemical reactions in my brain naturally propelled me to recording and uploading battle videos of my monsters to the world's biggest video-sharing site: YouTube. They are comprised of not only battles with wild monsters on Errantries and at scheduled tournaments, but also fights with fellow monsters from my ranch, as I pitted all of them against each other! Witness the monstrous spectacles and I hope you relish every single scene of the shows!

Note:
- Click the image to be directed to the playlist
- There are three (3) matches in each video
- I will keep the list updated as I raise more monsters


Monster 1
Dinoking (Zuum/Zuum)
Image source: https://monster-rancher.fandom.com/wiki/Zuum?file=Zuum_MR2.png

Monster 7
Monster 8
Monster 9
Monster 10
Monster 11
Monster 12
Monster 13
Monster 14
Monster 15
Monster 16
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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Quote #61

"I would choose to know the truth, however agonizing it is, over comforting lies any day." - Klinsman Hinjaya
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Thursday, June 4, 2020

My First-Ever Podcast on Dinosaurs!

This past week has been a little surreal for me. Out of the blue, a former colleague of mine Aep Syaefullah, the host of Kantor Penasaran, contacted me and asked whether I would like to talk in his podcast about one of the most influential things in my life: dinosaurs. 🦖🦕 Is this for real? The invitation left me psychologically unstable for some time, and eventually I said yes! I felt it would be a great chance to channel my interest to the general public, specifically the Indonesians, the vast majority of whom, in my opinion, are indifferent to the majestic creatures. So, on June 1, 2020 we did the recording and talked about dinosaurs for about 45 minutes. Here is a poster for the event:


The podcast can be accessed on the following platforms: SpotifyAnchor, Google Podcasts, Breaker, and RadioPublic. The title is "Klinsman H: Talking about Dinosaurs in Indonesia" and, as you must have noticed, it was recorded in Indonesian, our native language. Although we did have a discussion about dinosaurs in Indonesia, the podcast actually covers more than that: what dinosaurs mean to me, my dinosaur-related collection, whether Komodo dragons are honest-to-goodness dinosaurs, and so on. Here is a snippet of the podcast:


Listen to the full podcast here:

I'm really sorry for any imperfections in the podcast – to be honest, I was somewhat nervous! However, I hope that the audience can enjoy listening to our conversation and get something useful from it! 😊

Related articles:
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Monster Rancher 2: PSX ROM List

Monster Rancher 2 Cover
Image source: https://monster-rancher.fandom.com/wiki/Monster_Rancher_2?file=Mr2cover.jpg

If there is one positive thing for me resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that I have returned to playing one of the best games ever developed on the planet: Monster Rancher 2! Not only that, this global crisis has also turned me into an active YouTuber, recording and posting countless battle videos showcasing the mightiness of my raised monsters, the current roster of which consists of my very first, dinosaur-resembling monster Dinoking (Zuum/Zuum); the incredibly brawny, brown-furred Furezo (Suezo/Hare); the hideous-looking, lobster-like Mockster (Arrow Head/Mock), the macabre, scythe-bearing Genie Reaper (Joker/Bajarl); the enormous dog-cum-cat Hugie (Baku/Kato); the ultra-powerful wooden robot Exterminator (Henger/Mock); and the god of plants Vegetheos (Gali/Plant) (you can watch them perform their gallant actions here).

Monster Rancher 2 (MR2) is my all-time favorite game. I first took enjoyment in this monster-raising game when I was probably aged 13. Perhaps, due to the arrival of the newer console PS2 in my home, my MR2 pastime simply vanished, and I spent my free time playing other addictive games such as the ninja quest delight Tenchu: Fatal Shadows instead. Thanks to a second wave of exposure to this legendary game, including that I received via the amazing YouTube video series by teawch, my passion for producing top-notch monsters has been reinvigorated!

This two-decade-old game perfectly mirrors our life, and I think that's one of the major reasons why MR2 is timelessly fascinating. For instance, your monsters can be exhausted, stressed out, and even die. They can be plump if you keep feeding them on Candy, and they can become skinny if you keep pushing them to train and never let them sleep. What's more, your monsters' abilities depend on what types of training you give, and if you are too hard on them, they can run away! These are just several aspects that demonstrate that this boredom-decimating game can seem to be too breathtakingly impressive to exist.

I don't have my PSX console anymore and I am using an Android phone, so I downloaded an emulator called ePSXe to play the game (one of the most worthwhile purchases I've ever made in life). One method for getting monsters in MR2 is by using a feature called Shrine. Originally, this would mean exchanging the MR2 CD with another CD for a while and allowing your PlayStation console to read the data in order to acquire a monster "sealed in it". Obviously, this CD swapping mechanism is not possible on Android: to obtain monsters using Shrine, Android users need to use ROMs instead of CDs (for a tutorial on how to do it, click here (Indonesian)). And through this post, I would like to contribute to the MR2 universe and help trainers acquire their desired monsters by listing all the PSX ROMs I've tried and the monsters they spawn. So, here you are and have fun raising your best monsters!

Note:
- The monster names and game titles are arranged in alphabetical order
- The game titles link to their download pages at CoolRom.com
- I am creating this list by my own random experiment and with information from Angelfire's Monster Rancher PSX CD ListCarLynn's Monster Rancher 2 Monster Index, and Monster Rancher 2 - CD List Untuk Membuat Monster
- I will keep this list updated as I get more monsters through Shrine!

Ape
Ape (Ape/Ape)

Bossy (Ape/Gali)

Gibberer (Ape/Hare)

Rock Ape (Ape/Golem)

Tropical Ape (Ape/Plant)

Arrow Head
Selketo (Arrow Head/Joker)

Bajarl
Bajarl (Bajarl/Bajarl)

Boxer Bajarl (Bajarl/???)

Baku
Giga Pint (Baku/Jell)

Beaclon
Rocklon (Beaclon/Golem)

Centaur
Reaper (Centaur/Joker)

Color Pandora
Color Pandora (Color Pandora/Color Pandora)

Liquid Cube (Color Pandora/Jell)

Peach Tree Bug (Color Pandora/Pixie)

Dragon

Ducken
Blocken (Ducken/Golem)

Ducken (Ducken/Ducken)

Ticken (Ducken/Suezo)

Durahan
Durahan (Durahan/Durahan)

Genocider (Durahan/Joker)

Leziena (Durahan/Pixie)

Shogun (Durahan/???)

Gaboo
Dokoo (Gaboo/Joker)

Frozen Gaboo (Gaboo/Tiger)

Gaboo (Gaboo/Gaboo)

Gaboo Soldier (Gaboo/???)

Jelly Gaboo (Gaboo/Jell)

Gali
Colorful (Gali/Plant)

Furred Mask (Gali/Hare)

Pink Mask (Gali/Pixie)

Ghost

Golem
Forward Golem (Golem/???)

Hare
Evil Hare (Hare/Monol)

Four Eyed (Hare/Suezo)

Hare (Hare/Hare)

Purple Hare (Hare/Naga)

Scaled Hare (Hare/Zuum)

Wild Hare (Hare/Worm)

Henger
Gaia (Henger/Golem)

Henger (Henger/Henger)

Omega (Henger/Zuum)

Hopper
Draco Hopper (Hopper/Dragon)
Doom

Fairy Hopper (Hopper/Pixie)

Frog Hopper (Hopper/???)

Hopper (Hopper/Hopper)

Mustachios (Hopper/Kato)

Pink Hopper (Hopper/Mocchi)

Skipper (Hopper/Tiger)

Sneak Hopper (Hopper/Joker)

Snow Hopper (Hopper/Jill)

Woody Hopper (Hopper/Mock)

Jell
Chloro Jell (Jell/Plant)

Clay (Jell/Monol)

Eye Jell (Jell/Suezo)

Icy Jell (Jell/Tiger)

Jell (Jell/Jell)

Muddy Jell (Jell/Hare)

Noble Jell (Jell/Gali)

Pink Jam (Jell/Pixie)

Purple Jell (Jell/Naga)

Scaled Jell (Jell/Zuum)

Jill

Joker
Tombstone (Joker/Golem)

Kato
Gordish (Kato/Gali)

Kato (Kato/Kato)

Ninja Kato (Kato/???)


Metalner
Love Seeker (Metalner/Pixie)

Metazorl (Metalner/Suezo)

Mew
Eared Mew (Mew/Hare)

Mum Mew (Mew/Pixie)

Mocchi
Caloriena (Mocchi/???)

Hell Pierrot (Mocchi/Joker)

Knight Mocchi (Mocchi/Durahan)

Mocchi (Mocchi/Mocchi)

Mocchini (Mocchi/???)

Nyankoro (Mocchi/Kato)

Mock

Monol
Blue Sponge (Monol/Tiger)

Dominos (Monol/???)

Furred Wall (Monol/Hare)

Jura Wall (Monol/Zuum)

Monol (Monol/Monol)

Soboros (Monol/Worm)

Naga
Bazula (Naga/Gali)

Ripper (Naga/Pixie)

Stinger (Naga/Zuum)

Niton
Dribbler (Niton/???)

Stripe Shell (Niton/Kato)

Phoenix
Cinder Bird (Phoenix/???)

Phoenix (Phoenix/Phoenix)

Pixie
Angel (Pixie/Gali)

Daina (Pixie/Dragon)

Dixie (Pixie/Zuum)

Dryad (Pixie/Mock)

Granity (Pixie/Golem)

Jilt (Pixie/Wracky)

Jinnee (Pixie/Bajarl)

Kasumi (Pixie/???)

Kitten (Pixie/Kato)

Lepus (Pixie/Hare)

Lilim (Pixie/Joker)

Pixie (Pixie/Pixie)

Silhouette (Pixie/Monol)

Unico (Pixie/Centaur)

Vanity (Pixie/Suezo)

Plant
Scaled Plant (Plant/Zuum)

Suezo
Birdie (Suezo/???)

Melon Suezo (Suezo/Zuum)

Sueki Suezo (Suezo/???)

Tiger
Cabalos (Tiger/Naga)

Datonare (Tiger/Zuum)

Undine
Siren (Undine/Joker)

Worm
Worm (Worm/Worm)

Wracky
Bakky (Wracky/Bajarl)

Zilla

Zuum
Black Saurian (Zuum/Monol)

Hachiro (Zuum/Baku)

Hound Saurian (Zuum/Tiger)

Naga Saurian (Zuum/Naga)

Salamander (Zuum/Dragon)

Sand Saurian (Zuum/Bajarl)

Wood Saurian (Zuum/Mock)
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