Newsbytes archive for February 2023

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Contributors this month include 2cross2affliction, Acton, dronon, GreenReaper, and Rakuen Growlithe.

Acton: Furry convention in Orlando reports pipe bomb, AR-15 threats by man on Tumblr.

[Editor's note: The individual arrested in this news link also submitted suspicious articles to Flayrah in June and August of 2022, supposedly to warn about someone, but more likely in order to smear them. We were unable to independently confirm the truthfulness of the claims being made. However, because other aspects of the writing were definitely deceptive in nature (such as using sockpuppets), we did not post their articles to Flayrah, nor engage in communication with the author.]

Digging Up Positivity February 2023

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In this episode of Digging Up Positivity we cover several big and small furry events with charities attached to them. Eurofurence finally has a new location, the return of a very sly fox and that bunny, and an awesome new upcoming game starring a gator, and an interview with one of the driving forces behind the furry events in and around Ohio, USA. And stay till the end if you want to win a lovely t-shirt from me from my ArtworkTee store!

But first things first, lets hop into the charities.

'Facts About Fursuits & Fursuiting' premieres March 1

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In October 2021, I opened a survey about fursuits and fursuiting and called for furries (fursuiters and non-fursuiters alike) to take part. This was to provide information for the next video in my Facts About the Furry Fandom series, Facts About Fursuits & Fursuiting.

It's taken me over a year to wade through the data, write the essay, get it professionally reviewed, and create the next video in the series. However, after all that work, it's finally ready. The premiere is less than a week away; I look forward to seeing all of you there.

Facts About Fursuits & Fursuiting will premiere on YouTube on 1st March at 5pm (GMT) / 12pm (EST) / 9am (PST)

Sonic Frontiers - Of open worlds and confining cyberspaces

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Sonic Frontiers.jpg

It had been a long time since I last streamed a Sonic game. Sonic Forces was almost a one-off stream. It took only four to five hours to finish the game and also its Shadow add-on. Story beats were all a blur. The mechanic that was the staple was creating your own original character (do not steal), but as mentioned there wasn’t much for them to do. And who can ever forget the poor characterization and writing? True dat.

Since 2017, Sonic Team has certainly been taking their time with this next 3D entry. However, while I was an avid Sonic fan in my youth I kind of grew up and didn’t care so much about keeping up with the day to day on the stories and franchise as much as I used to. The last time I wrote a Sonic review for this site, it was for the movie. And that’s crossaffliction’s territory, that he would reestablish in the second release of the franchise.

I didn’t even review Sonic Forces. I had thoughts, but for whatever reason didn’t feel inspired enough to get them down on paper. Probably ended up in null space somewhere.

But enough about the background of Sonic, was their new Frontier worth the wait?

AI Art Part 2: What kind of world do we want?

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In the second part of this piece, we will consider the rise of AI-generated art from a more subjective point of view, focusing on its ethical and societal implications. In the first part found here, we went over why AI models do not store and reproduce exact copies of the artworks they have been trained on.

Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.

The Geography of Furry Conventions: How we can make getting to our conventions easier for everyone

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The cat bus from My Neighbor TotoroThis is Part 2 of my commentary on furry conventions, in relation to geography, demographics and statistics. Reading Part 1 might provide more about my perspective and understanding this in context.

Introduction

Furry conventions are hard to organize, put together, and run. They require staff, a venue, and many other complicated things. One aspect that isn't brought up enough is something that con staff don't necessarily "need" to worry about: transportation. Besides the hotel cost, transportation is perhaps the most prohibitively expensive barrier to someone attending. The low focus on this is partially because cars are the most common (and often most convenient) way to get around in the United States and Canada. I would argue that due to the sheer dominance of the car in these countries, it's hard for a lot of people to realize just how disadvantageous cars can be - on both an individual and societal level. I won't focus much on the societal level, but I will focus on the individual level, to show why I care so much about transit, even in a furry context. I'll also talk about how it relates to poverty, and what we can do about it.

AI Art Part 1: How it works

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If you have any involvement with the furry fandom – and if you're reading this, you probably do – you will have seen a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the past few weeks/months, particularly about AI-generated art. What you'll also have seen is that most of this talk has been characterised by fear and anger. Several furry websites and organisations, such as Inkbunny, Fur Affinity and the Furry Writers' Guild, have all issued statements or updated their policies to ban AI-generated content or aspects thereof.

As a largely artistic community and given that AI-generated content threatens the status quo, this is completely understandable. The objections to AI art have been numerous; some rely on nebulous and abstract concepts such as AI art being emotionless, some consider it unfair to artists who have put effort into learning their skills and others have chosen to focus on the economic aspects of competing against AI. Anti-AI sentiment has grown in the art community and spilled off of the internet in the form of legal challenges against several companies involved in providing AI art services.

It would be out of scope of this text to address every single argument for or against AI. Instead, I would like to focus on two aspects of the debate; one which is objective and one which is subjective. The first, objective, aspect is what AI is and how it works. This is important because it's difficult to have a proper discussion about the technology when it is misunderstood – and I think that most discussion around AI fundamentally misunderstands how it works. The second, subjective, aspect involves copyright and the ethics of training AI. This is a question about the sort of world in which we wish to live and how we should treat one another. I feel that these two questions are the most important ones for deciding how AI will fit into our world. Hopefully, I can correct some misconceptions about how AI works and put forward a view of the world which others will find appealing as well.

Due to the length of this article, it has been split in two. The second part will address the social and ethical aspects of AI-generated art.

Thank you to 'Yote, who has a PhD in computational biology, for providing feedback and fact-checking for this article.

Newsbytes archive for January 2023

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Contributors this month include dronon, earthfurst, GreenReaper, and Rakuen Growlithe.

'Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series' - A newcomer's view of a pair of classics remastered

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Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series Klonoa was a bit after my time. While anthro platformers were a big household staple in the earlier years of my childhood, by the time I was entering my teenage my family trended toward more first-person shooter titles. We didn’t get an original PlayStation, and went for an N64 instead. That being said, last year’s remaster was a great opportunity to play a classic anthro platformer that I never got a chance to. Was it as good as the niche audience for this strange cabbit-like character laid it out to be?

The remaster comes with two games, and I have played through both. In short, the first game came as a bit of a surprise to me and had gameplay and story elements that challenged me as a player.

In terms of gameplay, both games have similar mechanics and feel like a mixture of early Kirby three dimension titles mixed with Mario 2 (US) combat where you pick up enemies to throw them at enemies and objects instead of sucking them in.

Playing the second game so quickly after the first caused a bit of a disappointment as it didn’t do things that the first hadn’t already done better. I enjoyed Phantomile more than I did Lunatea’s Veil. If there was a graphical difference in the titles in their original release, this remaster eliminates it and both look good.

I will go into more detail as to why after the header, as it will go into a bit more of the game’s content with some spoilers.

Digging Up Positivity - January 2023

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Welcome to the first Digging Up Positivity of 2023! Of course we start off with a bunch of charities, animation news, and our guest of this month is a staple from the virtual furry scene: BioGodz, we will discuss his new projects and how he got into the wonderful world of virtual reality!

But first things first, lets hop into the charities:

Ursa Major Awards open for nominations of 2022 works

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Ursa Majors Awards.jpgThe annual Ursa Major Awards have opened for nominations for the best furry works published during 2022. Visit UMA's nominations webpage to enter your nominations. The nominations period "will continue until the end of 11 February 2023.

The nomination categories this year are:

  • Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
  • Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work
  • Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Series
  • Best Anthropomorphic Novel
  • Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction
  • Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work
  • Best Anthropomorphic Non Fiction Work
  • Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story
  • Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip
  • Best Anthropomorphic Magazine
  • Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration
  • Best Anthropomorphic Game
  • Best Anthropomorphic Website
  • Best Anthropomorphic Fursuit (or "Costume (Fursuit)")
  • Best Anthropomorphic Music *NEW*

The music category is a new addition, and was announced at Ursa's twitter on January 20. It isn't listed as a catagory on the HTML page, but will be available on the form.

Oklahoma State Senate bill calls for "anthropomorphic behavior" to allow parents to pull kids from public schools

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The first session of the Oklahoma State Senate has put forth a bill penned by State Senator Shane Jett that focuses on education in the state’s public school system and the allowing of endowments for a parent to pull their kids from public schools.

The 20 page document caught attention on social media by furries due to a highlighting of the law’s claim of a district that could be deemed as problematic because of furry activities.

“Trigger district” means a school district in this state where any of the following concepts or activities have been advocated or tolerated:
[...]
g. the presence of any school employee or volunteer engaged in anthropomorphic behavior commonly referred to as furries,

There are 12 other items that also would qualify a school as a proclaimed trigger district. Some of the ones not covered in previous statute include things such as: promotion of Marxist ideology, disparaging the 2nd amendment, promoting animal rights activism, promoting social and emotional learning, climate change ideology that disparages the oil, gas, and farming industry, and instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation that creates 'gender confusion'.

When a school is deemed as a trigger district, it allows the parent to pull their child from the school to fund their education in a private manner through a program outlined in the law known as “Oklahoma Parent Empowerment Act for Kids [OK PEAK]”

Persona and sim dates get a furry makeover

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Tropical Hearts is a game made by Kokolori Studios. This lovely visual novel RPG is a passion project with tons of heart and effort put into each scene. Full of nods to 90s nostalgia and beautiful art, the game keeps the player involved in the story of these vibrant characters.

Tropical Hearts
Having found their tropical vacation interrupted by mysterious forces, these friends are tasked with exploring the beautiful resort for information as to the cause of the local phenomena. Join them as the main character and discover more about these vibrant personalities.

Opinion: The top ten movies of 2022

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2022.jpg

The results of the eighth once in a decade Sight and Sound "Greatest Films of All Time" poll were released last year, which kind of puts my list in its place. The number one movie there was Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles; haven't seen that one yet. Catchy title, though! Hey, my top pick for 2017 did make top 100 (in a five way tie for last)! Well, let's see how influential my picks for this year are in 10 years for the next poll.

So, this is a year end top ten list of my picks for favorite movies of the year. Pretty simple premise, and I've written what counts and what doesn't before, and this is the internet, so I can just link to older lists if you want the nitty gritty details. I don't need to rehash them. Though Flayrah is a furry site, this is not a furry list. However, I will pick out my favorite furry movie of the year, which was Turning Red this year, as well as a Cutest Vixen Award, just for fun. This year's prestigious CVA goes to Diane Foxington, a.k.a. the Crimson Paw, in The Bad Guys. It was an overall pretty good year for movies, so much that I actually feel like giving away a few honorable mentions, listed here in no particular order other than alphabetical; Beast, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Three Thousand Years of Longing and The Woman King. Also, shoutout to Prey, which was streaming exclusive, and which I didn't consider for the list, but was worth a shoutout anyway.

Well, let's get to the list proper. The film's title and posters link to IMDB or a Flayrah review for more information than the short blurb here could give you. Enjoy!

Movie review: 'Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile' (2022)

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Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (trailer) is a live-action musical comedy family film released in October 2022, with computer-animated critters mixed into it. It's an adaptation of two children's books by Bernard Waber, The House on East 88th Street (1962), and Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (1965).

In my earlier review of My Father's Dragon, also an adaptation, my biggest complaint was how it borrowed story elements while destroying the spirit of the book. With Lyle, the spirit has definitely been kept. The premise is silly, it doesn't make sense, and has fun with it. It knows exactly what it is!

Hector P. Valenti is a charismatic showman and second-rate stage magician who buys a baby crocodile (Lyle), vainly hoping his new pet will become his ticket to stardom. When it doesn't work out (think One Froggy Evening), Hector leaves to recover his finances, abandoning Lyle in a New York townhouse, where he lives in secret. When the Primm family moves in, Lyle gradually befriends them and brings out their better natures. Until he runs afoul of their conniving basement tenant, Mr. Grumps.

The books had a low word count, so a lot of things had to be added to make a full movie. The Primms were originally bland and generic. Lyle's presence in the house (and how he survived) needed more of an explanation, so all of that received more details. Most (though not all) of the major plot points from the books still exist in some form. The changes make sense from a screenwriting perspective, but whether you think the movie is a respectful adaptation, that's going to vary a lot from person to person. It depends on what people are willing to accept or let go of.

You can poke holes in this movie like crazy, but at heart, it's an entertaining ride without any delusions of grandeur. I don't mean that in a snooty film review way. Like I said, the premise is silly, and it's having fun. I'm going to nit-pick things anyway, but there's lots of good energy!

From the Yerf Archive