Archive | June 2013

The Telegraphed Gazette: Column. 16 June 2013

The turban: an icon of the Sikh religion. People who practice this religion dawn this headdress much like Jewish rabbis dawn their garb before attending the temple prayers. This is – quite literally – a bite size bit of information to which most of you – if not all of you – are well aware of, especially if you live in a country that was once part of the British Empire. We owe much to their ancestors, the ones who formed regiments of 100,000 – varying in number here and there – in the name of queen and country, and who went forth when asked to, and never took a step back. Our unity is what made us powerful in the world, and it was with these fine men, along with the regiments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, British Africa, and her colonies in the orient that gave us this diverse population we have today. Yet – and much to my disappointment – I find myself talking about the turban in 2013; when we had this debate years ago when a young man sought to join the RCMP, and won the right to do so with his turban (the turban of course would be the colour of the Campaign Hat the Mounties wore to conform to their uniform dress code).

I pass by Sikh officers regularly: they wear the same uniform, hold the same ethics, adhere to the same code of conduct, speak the same language, drive the same cruisers, use the same equipment and weapons, and are physically fit. Therefore someone explain to me – and thoroughly I might add – what difference does it make if his head dress is not a damned peak cap or a campaign hat? Let me give you a fictional bit that everyone loves: Gears of War. Marcus Fenix wears a bandana in place of the standard issue COG helmet; however, there are ordinances in the COG military that set regulations for how the bandana is worn. Does the bandana make Fenix a weaker soldier? Does it make him less accurate, less disciplined, or less of a gear like the others? Coming back to reality, the Sikh turban is quite similar in that the colour of cloth is made to match with the uniform, the cap badge is on the front, and it is well kept, hygienic, and free of any signs of a lack of discipline.

Okay, so it could be a health hazard: make them sign a waiver. The Tough Mudder thing that has been the craze as of late makes their participants sign a waiver stating that any injury on the course is not their fault because A, B, and C. Should the individual hold their religion dear to the extent that they wish to not wear a helmet, waivers, waivers, bloody waivers for the man or woman!

Now some people might cry: “OH! BUT BURKAS! THEY WILL SOON LET BURKAS INTO THE SCENE!” Newsflash: Turbans still show the face, burkas do not. This would be like saying: “we let so many Polish people into this country, next thing you know they will form communities up north and refuse to speak English, eventually declaring independence, and subsequently taking up arms against our country.” Right, well we do have limits, and the turban is within those limits. Not all limits can be pushed, and nor should they be pushed. We also have to look at the reality, rather than a “what if” scenario, because everyone – anyone – can play the “what if” scenario for years, and not come up with a definitive answer to the questions in their mind. Therefore let me put in some reality checks here and there to help anchor things down to earth. FIRST, they speak our language, hold a strong sense of community, and are willing to serve in our armed forces. They are loyal to this nation, so relax. SECOND, they “can” trim their facial hairs to standards – and yes we do have ordinances in the military regarding religious facial hair and head dresses; same goes for the RCMP, and municipal police agencies. THIRD, sure they have their own little communities here and there, but so did the Irish, the French, the English, the Scottish, the Ukrainians, the Chinese; need I say more? FOURTH, Scottish soldiers wear kilts with their dress uniforms, and I do not see a public outcry over such a: “violation of our sacred uniforms!” They even wear a Balmoral bonnet in place of the beret on their field uniforms: your point people? Finally, they are our people, and if they were loyal to the union jack for decades – centuries even – they will be loyal to the maple leaf.

Some of you might be wondering what this is all about: I am disappointed to say that the Soccer Federation of Quebec has decided to re-open the discussion on the turban: more to the point they have flat out banned the head dress on their fields. I understand that integration is needed – I am a strong supporter of integration and assimilation; however these people who happen to be affected by the little ban, they are born and bred in Quebec. Right, so now they wish to dress me eh? First they wish to tell me what language to think in, now they want to dress me like I am some glorified mannequin?! What do I have to wear a 1700s French outfit with frills, cuffs, and high-heel men’s shoes? Do I need to tattoo the provincial flag to my shoulders, back, and rear end? Oh, and my glasses, do they have to be made in Quebec as well? The minerals harvested from her mines, the craftsmanship from a glasses maker in Quebec City, and finally the nuts and bolts hand-made by a blacksmith in the Eastern Townships. Yes? This is it right? Oh and my menu and diet; it has to be Oka Cheese, and fish from the St. Laurence river. This is not something I wish to go further on so let me end with this statement: the year is 2013, not 1962: grow up already people.

Disclaimer: The Soccer Federation of Quebec has reversed its decision to ban the turban earlier in the week. This article was written the week prior to the reversal of the decision: thank you for your understanding.

Telegraphed Gazette: Column. 6 June 2013

Greetings readers;

Yes I did not make the expected time of arrival for the weekend’s gazette. The truth is my time has been eaten up by the game Elder Scrolls Five Skyrim: and it is continuing to compete with the blog for my spare time – which is where most of the writing gets done. Therefore I will make this column edition a discussion on the actual game itself which is quite enjoyable, and finally give my two cents on the new Xbox One. Bear in mind that this week’s gazette column will not source any articles, just so you are all aware. I apologize for the delay: hopefully the content stored up in the archives was sufficient enough to keep you – somewhat – busy until I publish the next item. Anyways onto today’s topics!

skyrim

Skyrim: you know even a year or so after release the game still has a healthy modding scene on PC which is only a bit of how active the community is surrounding this title. Now the game play itself has improved from the previous game – Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion – in areas such as spell casting, melee combat, and the flexibility of levelling just the skills you use. 60 hours or so into the game, I can safely say that the game itself is satisfying in relation to combat. Graphics-wise, the game looks good – with thought given into how much time has passed since its release. Obviously Halo 4 will “best” the title in the graphics department – with it being a recent release and all – however Skyrim still impresses the player with beautiful vistas all throughout the province.

Now onto the main issue that still – in a way – plagues the game, bugs. Most of the bugs in the game – for example floating mammoths – have been fixed through subsequent patches. Yet there are one or two missed items that are still buggy, example being a quest near Markarth where after going into a mine and handing in the quest, the game closes after five minutes. This problem can be fixed by simply ignoring the quest and not entering the mine; however that little issue with the game is disappointing as Bethesda – while somewhat in a hurry at times to release the game – should have gone through the game  – despite its vastness – and “tried” to find faults within the game. Though tedious work is tedious, therefore I can understand their reasoning behind not going through the game day after day looking for issues.

Overall the game is quite enjoyable, and even if the player wishes not to get the DLC, there are tons of mods out there for the user to download and play with. Some of them are meant for mature audiences, others more childish, but in the end the mods are there to keep the game going and to extend its life cycle. Thus the final statement is this: go out and get the game if you are into single player, role playing fantasy games that have a high degree of freedom of mobility and game play etched into the system. There is no pressure to actually do a quest, and you are free to wander, rob, kill everyone on sight, or just sit there naked in the sun – if that is the sort of business you are into.

Xbox-One1

Now, the Xbox One; it took a lot of heat from consumers over Microsoft’s decision to render used games virtually unplayable without paying more money to Microsoft. While the idea of lending games to friends is something worth preserving, it is important to note that used game sales see the retail store take all of the profit while leaving the actual developer and publishers – the source of their financial stability – receiving next to nothing in regards to profits. The problem that exists is while the publisher and developer deserve a cut of the sales, punishing console users for lending games to friends who in turn have to pay a fee to unlock the software and install the game onto their hard drive, is not the way to go about this sort of business. Microsoft is releasing – what basically seems to be – a living room PC that is locked hardware and software-wise. Now the reason why PC gaming can receive deep discounts is because the middle man – the retailer – virtually cut out of the equation: at least in regards to digital distribution. However, the console market is a different beast entirely, and it would be like trying to train an elephant to hunt like a lion.

Now before a user screams: “Oh! Microsoft you evil corporation, how dare you charge us for lending games to friends!” bear in mind however that Sony is doing something similar with their system in that they too are attempting to stamp out the used games market. The problem with this is the used games in stores almost always get pushed into the customer’s hands – according to what John Bain said of the Cynical Brit channel. A retailer will see all of the profits from the used game sales, while they only see a portion of the profit if the consumer buys new: to this end the retailer will actively push used games to be sold before new copies so that they can receive all of the profits at the end of the month. One has to guess that this is sort of a no win situation for anyone involved as the console user gets shafted with extra fees should they borrow a game from a friend, the retailer will lose a chunk of their business, and the company making the device will soon realise that their system is not selling as well due to the fact that the user cannot lend games to friends who can then try it out before purchasing the title – sometimes even a limited collectors version which is triple the value of the actual game. They are essentially throwing away free advertising just so they can get their share of the profits: a move that can prove detrimental to their overall business projections.

Ultimately – like the province of Quebec in relation to sovereignty and language – this debate over DRM and the used games market will continue for quite some time until someone can devise a solution that will satisfy both the consumer and the company.

Right, that concludes this edition of the Telegraphed Gazette Column. Regarding the next edition, expect the usual one post every two weeks routine, but I might not be following that routine down to the very letter. I will try to reach the deadline, or near the deadline, however in the end this blog is done as a labour of love, and my spare time is mine to make use of as I see fit. Again as I said in months past, I will not release articles I do not feel confident the public will enjoy: there is a degree of professionalism that needs to exist on my blog, and I will uphold that – in relation to the quality of the work. However I would like to thank you readers for being loyal and patient; you guys are the best, and I look forward to publishing more works for you to read and enjoy. I hope this – sort of – switch in routine will not dampen the spirits, and that you will continue to check back every so often for the latest articles posted on this blog of mine.

Thank you all for reading, and I will see you next time.