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Oliver


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

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Aug
17th
2019

Points of Canon: S9x16 - A Trivial Pursuit · 4:01pm Aug 17th, 2019

Now episodes start showing up on Itunes a week ahead of the airing. What’s up with that?…

  • Chronology markers: Spike has wings, requiring Molt Down. The Beginning of the End is referenced, which would force this episode into Season 9, but is not a hard lock. Mudbriar’s presence requires it to at least postdate his introduction in Maud Couple. This could fall through into Season 8 if required to explain Twilight’s mental state transitions with a coherent theory.
  • I don’t think we’ve seen Spike use nightclothes to such an extent previously. What changed?
  • “I thought I’d have to force you to go to bed since tomorrow is your chance to be the first pony to win Ponyville Trivia three times in a row.” Trivia Trot is a Ponyville-local competition in trivia, but notice the “three times,” as well as the fact that nobody has ever done that before. Looks like the entire competition is a relatively recent innovation.
  • Twilight is wearing a T-shirt with Vinyl Scratch on it. What exactly is the occasion remains unclear.
  • “Uh, this is a whole new level of ‘Twilight-ing’, isn’t it? Heh.” The first time Twilight heard herself being used as a verb was in The Beginning of the End. However, Twilight does not clearly indicate she understands what’s going on at all, being apparently temporarily insane, so I hesitate to call this a hard lock.
  • “Let’s start with the first category of rules. ‘Categories. Rule one: Each category must be categorically designated and thoroughly researched in all categorical…’” Twilight almost makes it sound like she’s about to play some shade of Nomic, but this is clearly not what’s going on later.
  • “And based on the regular attendees, I’ve charted every potential teammate’s strengths and weaknesses, plus my percentage of winning with each one!”

    • The attendees are represented by portraits and include Fluttershy, Applejack, Time Turner, Rainbow Dash, Bulk Biceps, Matilda and Maud. All of these would have to be regular attendees, and all of them are later seen participating. Which is odd for many of them if you ask me.
    • So what, exactly, would be the point of this activity, if it, evidently, does not affect Twilight’s strategy at all?
  • “Everypony here has a different area of expertise, so it really is anypony’s game. But yes!” Twilight uses her cutie mark to identify herself, rather than, say, drawing a portrait. I suppose ponies are simply contractually obligated not to be consistent about anything these days, especially about naming themselves and each other.
  • “We’ll just see about that! I didn’t come all the way from the Crystal Empire to lose. And I hope you realize I have the highest percentage of correct answers, and I aim to keep it that way.” For Sunburst to say that, he had to have participated before, and apparently, he fracking commutes for it regularly, as his later lines suggest.
  • “I hope there’s one on fur maintenance for adorable creatures, because I’ve been ‘brushing up’.” Fluttershy uses one wing to hold Angel, but keeps the brush she’s using on him in her hoof.
  • “Technically, that was a category last week.”

    • I.e. technically, there was a competition last week.
    • Notice that “fur maintenance for adorable creatures” was, in fact, a category.
  • “I hadn’t anticipated Pinkie Pie as a potential player! She’s never played before!” Good to know.
  • “Team Apple-Dash is basically unstoppable.” Someone has been doing statistics, I understand.
  • “Maud and Mudbriar have been paired together every week. It’s a statistical improbability!” Which becomes the more ridiculous the longer the competition goes on and offers another upper limit on the time it has been going on.
  • “Twilight and Pinkie Pie forever!” Twilight has scissors in her actual visible saddlebags, what a novelty.
  • “I could be the first pony ever to win three consecutive Trots in a row.” So far, nobody else has done that, which also suggests the Trots are a new thing.
  • “Starlight used to do it, but now… Well, I can’t even say the word”trivia" around her." Ah, so that’s where she is, I’ve been wondering. Notice, however, that any promised drama in score keeping fails to materialize and Spike effectively does and experiences nothing of import for the rest of the episode.
  • “Which topographical locale used to be a cavern, but after thousands of years of erosion, is now a gorge? / The answer is the Ghastly Gorge.”

    • I am not sure this little tidbit was revealed about the Ghastly Gorge previously. More importantly… Gorges typically evolve from rivers rather than caverns, don’t they? Is this the only gorge in Equestria that was formed this way?
    • At the moment this question is answered, 4+7+9+11+10+3=44 (or more, given teams not visible) questions have been asked. Dealing with each one would require at least a minute, so that’s pretty long, especially considering that by the end of the episode, the numbers of points are in 40s.
  • “Which variety of apple only blooms for five days?” …wait, how the hell doesn’t everyone in Ponyville know that immediately?
  • “No more belly growl interruptions for Team Twi-Pie!” I hope that plate was nutritious, but that’s Pinkie for you, maybe it was.
  • “How do you say ‘reward’ in Old Ponish? / ‘Reward’ in Old Ponish is ‘hliet.’”

    • Maybe that’ll let someone identify which of our languages matches Old Ponish, if any?…
    • So how did Pinkie know the answer before Twilight did. Or did she?
  • “Rule thirteen point two! No help from pets!” That was common enough to make a rule about it.
  • “What flavor cupcakes did Princess Celestia order for Princess Luna’s surprise birthday party last year? / Double midnight chocolate fudge with chili pepper frosting!”

    • Celestia ordered them from Sugarcube Corner and Pinkie made them.
    • Luna can actually eat cupcakes with explicit chili/chocolate mix.
    • The notion of either Celestia’s or Luna’s birthday makes sense in the first place, which is not a given. I am not sure we can conclude that anyone actually knows when either one is, but at least Luna’s got celebrated.
  • “1547 Pony B.E.!” This date does not appear to make coherent sense. Since it’s an answer isolated from a question, we can’t connect it to anything or even interpret it coherently. While “BE” might mean “Before Equestria,” there’s no way in hell any other species would have a calendar that measures years before and after that date – so the “pony” qualifier is nonsensical and redundant. It might just as well mean something else entirely.
  • “What kind of stone can be used to start a fire? / The black one! / The answer is flint.” Technically? Any kind of stone can be used to start a fire if you move it fast enough…

Despite the trivia theme, this is surprisingly thin on useful canon tidbits, because anything that would be useful is a direct reference to earlier seasons.

My opinion of the post-movie animation technologies keeps dropping: In an effort to make pony faces “more expressive” they’re making them more and more unpleasant to look at.

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Comments ( 15 )

I am not sure this little tidbit was revealed about the Ghastly Gorge previously.

It was in "Shadow Play." The Ghastly Caverns were one of the places of darkness Star Swirl knew of that turned out to be a lot less dark in the modern era. Though apparently there were multiple millennia between then and now, which raises questions when coupled with the recent 1,111th anniversary of Celestia's first sunrise...

And yeah, while it's neat that viewers were actually able to play along, this was a missed golden opportunity for world building.

It is technically possible for a cavern/cave to become a gorge - one of the longer and more winding cave systems near my hometown had patches where the cave ceiling had fallen in because it was so close to the surface. Or would that then become a 'pass'? Still, I'd imagine it's unusual.

From a very cursory search, 'hliet' is Old English for 'chance, lot, or share', related to hleotan 'to cast lots'. Google Translate autodetected it as Danish for some reason, but I couldn't find anything else on that. It's mostly pointed to in analysis of Beowulf, for some reason (I'm having a hard time getting my hands on the actual sources - the search result flavortext clearly states this stuff, but the actual text is either paywalled or behind some other barrier).

  • “How do you say ‘reward’ in Old Ponish? / ‘Reward’ in Old Ponish is ‘hliet.’”

I'd say this sounds like Old English, though it's not directly lifted from it, at least not as "reward". From what I found, "hliet" means "a lot" or share/chance/fortune.

5107504
5107482

So in other words, it's probably supposed to map to Old English, but doesn't because of insufficient research? Good to know.

5107482 5107504 5107509
They've used Old English in place of Old Ponish before, in Shadow Play. So that's two callbacks to the same episode.

I don’t think we’ve seen Spike use nightclothes to such an extent previously. What changed?

Does that help to place this episode in winter?

My opinion of the post-movie animation technologies keeps dropping: In an effort to make pony faces “more expressive” they’re making them more and more unpleasant to look at.

Yeah. In particular when they show a face from under the chin and have this humongous wide and chubby face, I actually recoil.

If these changes are indicative of what they're working on for G5, I might have to treat it like a podcast. :pinkiesad2:

Every time they make an episode like this I worry that I will get tired of Twilight freaking out. Thankfully that hasn't happened yet.

Trivia Trot is a Ponyville-local competition in trivia, but notice the “three times,” as well as the fact that nobody has ever done that before. Looks like the entire competition is a relatively recent innovation.

Yup. Also, I think Granny's bowtie is new and adorable.

Which is odd for many of them if you ask me.

I have done bar trivia, and this is fairly representative of the crowd. The only really weird thing is the lack of alcohol.

  • So what, exactly, would be the point of this activity, if it, evidently, does not affect Twilight’s strategy at all?

I think the lists are a calming exercise by providing an illusion of control. I have the same question for a lot of sports-related statistics, when it seems the information provided doesn't really change the actions taken.

Twilight almost makes it sound like she’s about to play some shade of Nomic, but this is clearly not what’s going on later.

Also, Twilight herself wrote the rulebook, right?

Fluttershy uses one wing to hold Angel, but keeps the brush she’s using on him in her hoof.

I love puns, but it feels pretty clear she brought Angel just to make that one, and he knows it and that's why he's even grumpier than normal.

  • Notice that “fur maintenance for adorable creatures” was, in fact, a category.

It does seem like they go out of their way to make almost every category one that someone will easily win.

“Team Apple-Dash is basically unstoppable.”

I was surprised Twilight didn't wink at the screen.

Which becomes the more ridiculous the longer the competition goes on and offers another upper limit on the time it has been going on.

I assumed they were cheating somehow, sticking their paper names together, or Granny is helping them out because she wants more little cousins. Actually, Bulk and Fluttershy, Applejack and some random earth pony stallion, formerly Sunburst and Starlight... I suspect Granny matchmaking shenanigans.

I hope that plate was nutritious, but that’s Pinkie for you, maybe it was.

She grew up eating rock soup, a little porcelain will help her digestion.

  • Luna can actually eat cupcakes with explicit chili/chocolate mix.

Or it was a prank.

Overall a fun episode, predictable but funny. Surprised Rarity wasn't there but everyone else was.


5107740 Yeah, I also hate the more elastic faces of the ponies since the movie. Rainbow Dash generally gets the worst of it.

I'm gonna have to disagree with you in regards to the animation style -- I don't mind it for the most part, and some expressions I found quite cute.

5107504
Yeah, Old Ponish seems to match to Old English.

Likewise, take the three Old Ponish lines from "Shadow Play" -- hearg sylfum se Ponhenge, dol grimlic of Fola Firgenbeorg and user endemest scield, translated as "the temple of Ponehenge", "the base of Foal Mountain" and "our final stand". Of the Old English words I could track down, "hearg" refers to altars, temples or sacred places, "se" means "the", "firgen" and "beorg" both mean "mountain"; "fola" means "foal"; "user" means "our" or "ours".

Then there's hliet foresettan pliht ("reward prefers risk") from "Uncommon Bond"; "hliet", again, means "lot" or "portion", and can be used as "reward" with relatively little stretching; "foresettan" literally means "to foreset", or "to place before" -- thus, "to prefer"; "pliht" means "risk" or "danger".

Old Ponish is Old English. Not always terribly well-translated Old English, mind, but Old English nevertheless.

5107446

Though apparently there were multiple millennia between then and now, which raises questions when coupled with the recent 1,111th anniversary of Celestia’s first sunrise…

Time is an illusion. A thousand years of it, a thousand times so.

5107482

Still, I’d imagine it’s unusual.

The notable thing about it is that there is only one correct answer, which is unlikely if the process is natural.

5107532

Does that help to place this episode in winter?

Not really: No snow. Winter wrap-up.

Could be spring or autumn though.

5107762

I think the lists are a calming exercise by providing an illusion of control.

Plausible.

Also, Twilight herself wrote the rulebook, right?

Also likely, if only because she tries to establish another rule during the game.

It does seem like they go out of their way to make almost every category one that someone will easily win.

And then Applejack loses zap apples anyway.

I suspect Granny matchmaking shenanigans.

Not implausible, though consistently cheating with this form of lot without getting caught is nontrivial.

As for hliet... Old English is nowhere near as rich in synonyms as Modern English, so some words in OE can be translated to literally dozens of ME words. It usually depends on context. As far as I can tell, they got it right for this one. Hliet is about as close as one can get to a one-word translation of reward. (Which means it's too simplistic a question to have a definitive right answer, but that's just me grumbling.)

5107762

Or it was a prank.

The chili/dark chocolate combo is really good if the chili isn't over-done. The point isn't to make the cake hot, it's to use the chili to amp up the taste buds so the chocolate tastes even more chocolate-y!

I feel like Oliver is going to tell us that for some reason it's really strange for pony society to have developed this kind of bell because it turns out to have some weird origin we never think about.

Twilight seems to me less like the sort of pony who obsesses over 'knowing trivia' and more like the sort who just knows a lot of stuff because she's extremely well-read. But okay, let's see where this goes.

Thinking about it, kinda surprised she doesn't just make a spell to substitute for sleep.

Each category must be...

Oh. I get it now.

To keep things fair, the teams are randomly selected.

Wouldn't some kind of handicap system or pairing people based on their skill make more sense for enforcing fairness?

*Rainbow horse noise*

The look on Angel's face says he's had to listen to Fluttershy rehearse this joke all the way from her cottage.

Pinkie has so many new faces!

Snowfall Frost! Are these going to be questions fans can actually answer?

I now realize that what Oliver is actually going to call out is the word trivia, and he's going to include an alternate etymology in an upcoming Aporia chapter.

You were willing to tell Pinkie to be quiet but not to go as far as just answering all the questions yourself?

Okay, having a three-person team is definitely not cool. Maybe Angel just wants out of there.

Twilight there has got to be a rule against your teammate leaving the table, if sleeping disqualifies a team.

So did Twi just completely lose it or is there some sort of technicality where she can play without a teammate? Ah, of course.

These faces feel like we're sliding into a completely different animation style.

You are the best teammate I could ask for.

You need to apologize to her, not lie, Twilight.

Wow, if everyone has scores in the 40s-50s, how long has this darn contest been going on?

Hey, just because you learned a friendship lesson doesn't mean you get to annoy the other contestants with bad-faith answers.

Why is Derpy locked out...?


“Maud and Mudbriar have been paired together every week. It’s a statistical improbability!” Which becomes the more ridiculous the longer the competition goes on and offers another upper limit on the time it has been going on.

I take this not to mean 'every week of the competition' but 'every week they've both attended', which might be as recent as 'the previous two weeks' at this point.

I think the lists are a calming exercise by providing an illusion of control.

This was my assumption too. Who hasn't done something like this to feel better-prepared and make contingency plans?

The chili/dark chocolate combo is really good if the chili isn't over-done. The point isn't to make the cake hot, it's to use the chili to amp up the taste buds so the chocolate tastes even more chocolate-y!

TIL.


Overall, the impression I get here is for there to be this many rules, many clearly added after specific incidents, the trivia contest has to have been going on for a long time. It seems like the intended reading is that this has been going on decades and noone's won three times in a row (what are the actual odds against that being true?). However, I suppose it could be possible that the Ponyville trivia trot is new but they imported rules from an older contest.

For me the new faces range from good to just weird; some of them look in place and sell the cuteness, others just look like the show shifted to a different art style for a moment. Not sure it's necessarily a bad art style, just... different. It wouldn't feel out of place in fanart.

5108702

I feel like Oliver is going to tell us that for some reason it’s really strange for pony society to have developed this kind of bell because it turns out to have some weird origin we never think about.

Fortunately, no, this bell is actually more hoofy to use than most other kinds.

Wouldn’t some kind of handicap system or pairing people based on their skill make more sense for enforcing fairness?

With enough games, not really. Then again, with enough games, the fairest option possible is to make sure to run every possible pairing once, there aren’t that many of them.

The question you should be asking is, why pair ponies at all? It’s still a race on who presses the button first, no discussion of questions themselves is observed within the team except with pets, and that is only relevant because Angel can’t answer the question by himself. They don’t seem to help each other at all beyond sharing the same score between them. It’s almost like the teammate is intended to be a handicap and picking teammates randomly ensures that the contest is more gambly.

Wow, if everyone has scores in the 40s-50s, how long has this darn contest been going on?

Somewhere between six and eight hours.

I take this not to mean ‘every week of the competition’ but ‘every week they’ve both attended’, which might be as recent as ‘the previous two weeks’ at this point.

I took this phrase to mean there’s a trivia every week, so if they were paired every week as long as they were doing this competition at all, the fewer weeks they have been doing this the more plausible it looks.

It seems like the intended reading is that this has been going on decades and noone’s won three times in a row (what are the actual odds against that being true?).

Assuming that:

  • There are always 12 participants as here. Notice that there’s no way the rules can enable an odd number of participants anyway.
  • No disqualifications and no teammates rushing the bell with the wrong answer.
  • Skill doesn’t matter.

I.e. everything being equal, pairings actually do not matter and the odds of any given sequence of three games resulting in someone winning three times in a row are (\frac{1}{12})^3 \approx 0.057\%

However, accounting for skill should bump this to at least something like 1\% or 5\% I.e. there’s no way in hell this has been going on for decades in Ponyville.

It is my interpretation that this has been going on elsewhere, which is where the rulebook comes from originally, is recent in Ponyville, and Twilight is referring specifically to nobody winning three times in a row in Ponyville rather than nationwide.

As a side note, Twilight is the reigning champion, having won two games in a row, right? So who were her partners in either of those cases then? Because the more recent one also has to be a “reigning champion,” yet nobody boasts.

5110816

Because the more recent one also has to be a “reigning champion,” yet nobody boasts.

Presumably, only nerds care, so that leaves the answer as "anybody except Sunburst or Mudbriar for the second one" (actually, the lack of Mudbriar "technically there are two reigning champions" is worth a raised eyebrow anyway)

Also, "it was special" doesn't work as an excuse this time. Just saying.

5111188

Also, “it was special” doesn’t work as an excuse this time. Just saying.

I was sufficiently unenthused not to catch the stream. :rainbowwild:

I just assumed it was years Before Equestria in the Pony calendar. Not all that unusual to think that different species keep different calendars (much like in Tolkien's Middle-earth) and that the ponies would center theirs around the founding of their nation.

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