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Oliver


Let R = { x | x ∉ x }, then R ∈ R ⟺ R ∉ R... or is it?

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Aug
6th
2017

Points of Canon: S2x06 - The Cutie Pox · 7:14pm Aug 6th, 2017

More than ever hour after

Every time they write something that touches on the nature of cutie marks, it becomes more convoluted.

  • Bowling is a thing. And judging by the fact that bowling balls have very obvious finger holes, either we’re dealing with a ridiculous case of the Sandwich Problem, or it’s originally a Minotaur sport. This is especially notable considering that Sweetie Belle rolls the ball by pushing it with her nose, while Scootaloo bucks hers. Apple Bloom bites hers.
  • Scootaloo owns a bowling ball, or at least, a bag shaped like one. Whether Apple Bloom owns the one she is holding or not remains unclear. And I have no clue what’s supposed to be in the bag Sweetie Belle is holding, just that it’s not shoes – nopony wears any inside.
  • “That makes us sound like we’ve struck out.” First indication that baseball might be a thing. Later on we do see baseball.
  • 1. There’s also the Jeff Lebowski and company, but they do nothing of actual interest.

    There’s a stallion who wears nets on both his hair and tail. I wonder why is he doing that, when nobody else is.1

  • Canterlot Friends are there too. And Bon-Bon is chatting with Cherry Berry.
  • When the CMC coming back, they don’t have the ball with them for some reason.
  • Going to Everfree when you’re depressed is one thing, but not following your friend when she’s obviously depressed and going into a dangerous forest is another thing entirely. Strange.
  • Zecora has a potion that is capable of restoring a chipped tooth. Secondary canon insists dentists exist, while Apple Bloom has a heavy lisp with this broken tooth, which means that Zecora saved Apple Bloom quite a bit of trouble.
  • It’s unclear whether “good heavens” is a description of a potion or an exclamation, but both would bring interesting questions.
  • “I am brewing up another mix for a rooster and his chicks. It seems the rooster has lost his crow, making mornings very slow.”

    “Hey, I’ve seen that flower bloomin’ in Ponyville! What is it?”

    “It is one we call ‘Heart’s Desire’. A dash will ignite the rooster’s fire. With Heart’s Desire, his talent comes into view, and he’ll give a mighty cock-a-doodle-doo!”

    • <insert clopfic.>
    • No, really, this is kind of too much work just for a rooster to cock-a-doodle-doo. And if the problem is with the rooster, I’m not clear what the chicks have to do with it.
    • And by the way, who owns that particular rooster, assuming one does exist?
  • “I have run out of amethyst. I must go get this purple flower for my brew to have full power!” …Is “amethyst” a purple flower now?…
  • It’s a school day, otherwise children would probably find some other place to play than the school playground. But if they’re out, why is Sweetie Belle complaining she’s hungry, and what exactly can’t Scootaloo wait for?… Furthermore, were the CMC playing hooky on a school day, or did we just skip a day to a school day?
  • Nopony except Apple Bloom can identify the ring on her new cutie mark. So how did she identify it?
  • Why is it a “loop-de-hoop” and not a “hula hoop?” Is there no Hawaii in Equestria?… Notably, Cherilee repeats the term without hearing it, so that is what it’s called.
  • Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon seem really reluctant to acknowledge that blank flanks might one day stop being such. Not smart.
  • Cherilee is empowered to alter curriculum as needed and give a loop-de-hoop lesson when an opportunity presents itself.
  • Apple Bloom is using her tail in a prehensile fashion to spin the loop for the rest of the episode.
  • Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are the only ponies who fail hard enough to embarrass themselves. Apple Bloom is not above rubbing it in at all.
  • I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to generate lift with a ring this way without magic.
  • Cherilee is reluctant to reject the idea that it’s possible to have two cutie marks. Actually, the only one who doubts it is Diamond Tiara, none of the Apples appear to see anything inherently wrong with it. Even Twilight doesn’t exclaim it is impossible, she only says she has never seen anything like it, like everypony else.
  • Applejack whistles with a hoof in her mouth.
  • It’s notable that Applejack plays along with Apple Bloom’s show well before she understands what’s going on.
  • I think that’s the first time we see Applejack’s bedroom. She has not one but two ropes hanging around.
  • Ditto for Apple Bloom’s bedroom, though, no ropes in this one.
  • The cutie mark for tapping has one more of those shoes with an inexplicable toe on them.
  • The book titled “Perplexing Pony Plagues” exists and describes “unusual equine illnesses.” Notably, Spike remembers and finds it well before Twilight gets a chance to.
  • Illnesses called “hay fever” and “the trots” are described – but notably, both would have to be “unusual” to be featured in that book, wouldn’t they?
  • “Cutie pox. This puzzling pony plague afflicted a population of ponies back in the Paleopony Period!” I have questions:

    • When was that? The illustrations show skis, a snorkel, and an unicycle, which makes it highly unlikely that the word “paleopony” means what we might think it means by default.
    • But assuming “paleopony” really means what you would think – how do modern ponies even know, if it’s “a population,” not even an epidemic? The book depicts a sufferer, and numbers each extra mark separately, suggesting that this is a depiction of an actual patient.
  • “Qu’est-ce c’est?! Je parle français?!”

    • Whatever this language is called in Equish – probably not “Fancy” as Applejack says, but you never know – in itself it’s called “français.”
    • The actual process of conferring linguistic ability in a given specific language remains murky.
    • The symbol of this language is a fleur-de-lis.
  • Further talents Apple Bloom manifests are:

    • Chimney sweeping – we don’t see chimneys often, though we do often see fireplaces.
    • 2. Career musicians tend to have musical notation symbols instead.

      Playing an accordion, which is, for a change, represented by an image of an accordion.2

    • Lion taming. Which involves the mysterious appearance of actual lions, three of them.
    • Chess playing.
    • Fencing. Notably, fencing this time is performed in a completely bipedal fashion. We never see clearly who the other fencer is.
    • Tightrope walking.
    • Hang gliding. Ponies have hang gliders.
    • Some manner of mathematical talent.
    • Weight lifting. Notice that Apple Bloom is lifting the weight with her tail. Assuming each ball weighs 500 pounds, rather than 1000 kilograms, it’s even halfway realistic.
    • Window washing. This time it’s relatively clear where the equipment came from – it was there, abandoned by someone who was washing this window earlier.

    Notice that most of these require the use of equipment, and most of it appears to have been there before Apple Bloom got the mark in using it. Regardless, it culminates in a cutie mark for being a tornado, apparently…

  • It took Zecora well over a day to find out that Apple Bloom absconded with the flower.
  • Several ponies are using hazmat suits of some description. Which, considering the observed development of pony chemical industry, should be par for the course. What shouldn’t be is the ionizing radiation hazard trefoil on one of them in place of the cutie mark.
  • “I figured the Heart’s Desire would help me get what I wanted most! So when Zecora left her hut, I mixed up a special potion and put the rest of the Heart’s Desire in it!” Notably, Apple Bloom would have to have improvised the entire thing.
  • Zecora mysteriously vanishes immediately after she finishes speaking. Ponies notice, but do not comment.
  • This episode unambiguously takes place after Lesson Zero, since Twilight requests Apple Bloom to write a report to Celestia right there, with no possible cuts, and Spike starts writing it down immediately.

So what actually happened? I have a theory describing what cutie marks are which makes use of some of the above points, but a) most of it, I already explained in various scattered comments and b) it needs a separate RTAC anyway.

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Comments ( 13 )

either we’re dealing with a ridiculous case of the Sandwich Problem, or it’s originally a Minotaur sport.

How many of the myriad sandwich problems could this be a solution to? Minotaurs have roughly human body plan. Gryphons have talons that resembles hands. Even dragons have claws. Could all these un-hoof-friendly inventions actually be imported from other cultures, with a touch of "foreign" spice to give them a popularity boost?

I don't have much to say about this one, but I've always seen the Cutie Pox as removing the usual limitations on an existing biological process, basically a sort of magical cancer.

4625790

How many of the myriad sandwich problems could this be a solution to?

A sizable portion, but not all – and, I’m pretty sure, not the sandwich itself. For example, the only race that could conceivably explain boots with toes are dragons, and no dragon has ever been seen in footwear.

"...With Heart’s Desire, his talent comes into view, and he’ll give a mighty cock-a-doodle-doo!”

Well, when you put it like that...

I think the big take-away from this episode is that cutie marks really do confer some kind of magical power on the pony, or at least the underlying "Special talent" does.


4625795 (Movie spoilers) Abyssinians, as anthropomorphic cats, have toes to some degree, but then so would Griffons.

4626144

(Movie spoilers)

Having toes, they don’t have plantigrade legs to go with them.

I’m of the opinion that, since the Cutie Pox is a disease, we can’t assume that any of the effects associated these marks are normal.

Going to Everfree when you’re depressed is one thing, but not following your friend when she’s obviously depressed and going into a dangerous forest is another thing entirely. Strange.

Mental health services in Equestria seem to lag behind Western standards. And even in our world, it’s pretty realistic that a group of pre-teens wouldn’t recognize warning signs of suicide—assuming they don’t have any first-hand experience.

4626304

I’m of the opinion that, since the Cutie Pox is a disease, we can’t assume that any of the effects associated these marks are normal.

I’m of the opinion that the Cutie Pox is not actually a disease at all.

  1. Apple Bloom observes Zecora cooking up some kind of stimulant. With all the loaded language woven around the topic we can’t say for sure what kind, but stimulant it definitely is.
  2. Apple Bloom cooks up a derivative of said stimulant, as she later admits.
  3. Zecora offers a cure contingent on Apple Bloom’s admission of her wrongdoing. It works.

At what point would a “disease” come into this sequence?

My theory is along these lines:

  1. Apple Bloom semi-randomly stumbled onto a recipe for stimulating the region of the brain that is responsible for manifesting cutie marks and the spell-like effects associated with them. From then on, everything she looks at, everything that is connected to some kind of skill she thought of as viable, has a chance to trigger overexcitation in this region and she gets one more mark and an insatiable desire to apply it that conscious thought can’t stop. Because the requisite neural pathways have yet to finish developing, none of it can or will stick.
  2. Zecora comes back to her hut, puts two and two together, picks up a plant that has an opposite dampening effect on the brain, and decides to teach Apple Bloom a lesson by not letting her have the antidote until she confesses.

The book of obscure pony diseases called it a disease because nopony admitted to using a stimulant for recreational purposes, and once enough of it was excreted from the patients, the “disease” went away on its own – there’s no known cure and it remained a medical oddity.

It’s a school day, otherwise children would probably find some other place to play than the school playground.

Schools are a great common place with playground equipment. Why not play there on non-school days, when they've already got a playground?

Why is it a “loop-de-hoop” and not a “hula hoop?” Is there no Hawaii in Equestria?… Notably, Cherilee repeats the term without hearing it, so that is what it’s called.

Hula is a notably bipedal dance. At this point in canon, bipedalism is quite rare in ponies who are not Pinkie. Mind, how she does it might qualify as hula as that's where a waist is on a centaur, but…
♪"Celestia's Angels!"
Angels. What are angels to ponies? Also half-pointing to Celestia as deity, half as hidden mastermind (…insofar as it's a reference to Charlie's Angels).

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to generate lift with a ring this way without magic.

No stretch to say that this Pox and Cutie Marks/destiny talents in general are all Two Scoops of magic. (Besides, Pinkie can tailcopter. The ring may just be being a counterweight here.)
You skipped the sculpting talent. It lkewise fits the pattern of being Equipment-Requiring.

4625795
4626144

No dragon has ever been seen in footwear

Objection! (…"seen" may connote reality not therewith compatible.) So… Take That!

4630206

Schools are a great common place with playground equipment. Why not play there on non-school days, when they’ve already got a playground?

Because that’s where the chance to get in trouble with the teacher is the highest?

♪“Celestia’s Angels!”
Angels. What are angels to ponies? Also half-pointing to Celestia as deity, half as hidden mastermind (…insofar as it’s a reference to Charlie’s Angels).

I did suggest that “angels” – specifically Celestia’s angels at that – is just an archaic word for her diplomatic messengers.

Who are depicted in historical work with a halo, for they are blessed by the sun and were, to a one, white ponies, because that’s what the regulations of the Guard at the time required, since they were Royal Guards. And they were selected for their decorum for the job, so they are also exemplars of good behavior.

Objection (…“seen” may connote reality not therewith compatible.) So… Take That

Objection accepted, but… That’s armor, though, not footwear, strictly speaking, isn’t it? :) They’re never seen on her when she isn’t in armor.

4630425

That’s armor, though, not footwear, strictly speaking, isn’t it?

I'm pretty sure "armor" and "footwear" are orthogonal, non-exclusive classes.

4630447

I’m pretty sure “armor” and “footwear” are orthogonal, non-exclusive classes.

They are, and yet, the situations in which one might be seen in footwear that is part of armor and situations in which one might be seen in footwear that is not are markedly different, and have a radically different chance of getting adopted or imitated. As well as different modes of adoption and imitation.

4630453
Ceremonial Armor would seem to be more likely to be imitated, but such imitation is also likely legally-proscribed.

To get back to the (bowling) problem…it must be a Minotaur sport or there'd be bowling shoes, because everyone remembers bowling shoes being a thing…

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