Archive | September 2016

Fight’s rigged.

Disappointing as it is, the job market is rigged against young people. Earlier today I was at a testing session, and it was stacked with old ladies who already have excellent government employment, but want to change organizations for whatever reason. One lady kept asking to redo her typing test, while a younger lady was given one go and kicked from the session for failure. What is even more comical is this old 50-something potential recruit was all upset about her results, and the organization decided to cater to her for fear of hurting her feelings.

 

This is exactly the kind of roadblock – old folks taking away living wage jobs – that keeps young people from actually striking out on their own. Back when the babyboomers were still working (nice young and fresh) their parents were not competing against them for the same jobs, rather they were retiring as scheduled. Sadly this is not the case anymore, and because of the fact that a lot of people lost a lot of money in the 2008 financial crisis (even here in Canada) they are now struggling to save up enough for retirement; coupled with debt they have yet to pay off, a housing market set to burst, and other expenses like new bridges that require tolls and so on it makes life for those looking to retire seem like a nightmare.

 

This trickles down of course, young people going to school are saddled with debt, and without a job that pays a living wage they are stuck at home and unable to strike out on their own. What is even more insulting is Global TV News (a local channel here in the Lower Mainland) did an article on Millennials of which they mocked us for our current situation because they could – you don’t see people mocking homeless for being homeless, so you SHOULD NOT mock us for being in our present situation.

 

They are scared, scared that when they do retire (because we have been kept out of the job market via part-time minimum wage jobs sucking away our time when we could attend testing sessions to old folks looking to pad their retirement savings) we – the young generation moving up to take their places in a long-overdue manner – will be unable to pay enough tax dollars to the government for the government to then turn around and handout pension money to them. Well guess what folks, you lost money in 2008 and you want to hog the jobs to recover it – take that as your pension money and leave the tax dollars to more important things like infrastructure, childcare, military, resource development, research, industry and so on. Want more? You could always rob a bank; that’ll encourage more spending for enforcement which will create jobs, and you get free room and board via prison – win win.

 

Yet they are not entirely to blame; circumstance has forced them to take such a path in life, and they are just trying to survive in the end. Still, I cannot help but feel bitter at what I saw today at that testing session – the disappointment is there, and it will not disappear overnight.

 

The shock of a market correction regarding housing, to the disappearance of jobs overseas where labour is cheaper (ie: Royal Bank back in 2010 – 2012 outsourced their IT jobs to India and fired all their Canadian staff) to the disappearance of certain jobs in general due to redundancies will help to preserve this trend for years to come. Dig in ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a long and grueling war – best pour yourself a cup of coffee and get ready for the rain (artillery bombardment).

Let’s talk bolt-action rifles for regular infantry in modern warfare.

Alright folks take it easy, I am not suggesting we adopt this policy wholesale and throw away years of military experience with semi-automatic and fully automatic rifles just because of this post – the purpose of this post is just to play around with the idea of using a bolt action rifle (like in World War 1 and 2) as a regular infantry combat rifle in today’s military setting. Find this unrealistic and not something you want to read? Click on a different article then, for the rest of us it’s play time!

 

Here we are at a point where modern ammunition is not powerful enough to penetrate – say – a concrete wall or sandbag fortification, the soldier needs a better weapon with more punch. Looking back at older firearms we see large calibers used in the lever action and bolt action days, and to the benefit of a skilled marksman at the time these rifles could hit targets way into the distance – quite the lovely benefit. Now a few weeks back I ran into this question and did some reading on the ‘what if’ scenario; what if we used bolt action rifles not as specialized sniper rifles, but as regular battle rifles in today’s modern armies?

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Successfully utilizing a bolt action rifle will take a lot of training and practice to master, along with a high level of physical fitness for maneuvering around enemies with M16s (for example) which boast a higher rate of fire. Indeed the troopers using the bolt action rifles, while holding something with a lot of punch, are outgunned by a force that uses full autos and their superior rate of fire. Thus the army that takes on bolt action rifles must adopt special gear to the rifle and to the soldier in order to overcome this handicap. Right now the main reason for using rifles like the M4 (technically a carbine but bear with me) and the M16 service rifles is rate of fire and utility – they can be used for room clearing, close quarters, and mid-range combat. Back before World War 1, armies engaged one another across large open fields where distances were further apart – for close quarters it was bayonets, rifle butts, and knives.

 

Now the specialized equipment will be in the form of grenade launchers mounted on the rifle’s muzzle like how the M1 Garand had it’s launcher mounted. Soldiers would be given kits that helped to convert their rifles into grenade launchers and back again so that they can use heavy ordinance to overcome enemy positions; a fox hole full of M16-wielding riflemen can die just as easily from a grenade as a fox hole filled with soldiers using old bolt-action rifles. Then there are hand-held grenades like flashbangs, tear gas grenades and so on that can neutralize the enemy’s ability to use their fast-firing rifles, and so long as the bolt-action rifle shoots first while the enemy is still suffering from the effects of the flashbang it can tip the fight in the favour of the bolt-action rifleman.

 

Room clearing is going to be tough regardless, but short-barreled versions of the rifles (ie: Lee Enfield Jungle Carbine) can be used to fill in the gap, or even as the standard-issue rifle (because long Lebels used by the French are no fun in close quarters). Again flashbangs will help neutralize the enemy, but then there are the multiple contacts within the room – even with a 4 man squad you could be at a disadvantage; this is where the bayonet comes into play. Fix bayonets, deploy the flashbangs, and move in to get the drop on the bad guys. Should you confirm the room is filled with hostiles, flashbang, take a peek, then frag grenade the room and finish off the survivors – an enemy soldier cannot fight back if it has eaten a chunk of a fragmentation grenade.

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Bolt manipulation is another aspect that will require a lot of work. Like the English Longbow of old, the bolt-action rifle will require hours of practice in order to achieve speed and rate of fire. Obviously gun design is also helpful, but I’ve seen people shoot Lee Enfields nice and slow before and it isn’t too encouraging. Thus in order to overcome the enemy’s rate of fire, bolt manipulation needs to be worked on every day until a certain rate of fire can be achieved.

 

Right now comes the hard part, physical fitness. Sure soldiers work on their fitness regularly, but the enemy has assault rifles (machine guns will be covered briefly later in this article) – I’m not saying run in front of it, but you will need speed and endurance to run AROUND the bloody things. Thus – like the police force – there should be an emphasis on anaerobic fitness as well as aerobic fitness. Being able to sprint at a moment’s notice and outrun the enemy’s traverse speed per se is key to being able to knock out their firing positions. Grenades (fire, frag, flashbang, smoke, and tear) must be deployed quickly in order to neutralize the threat – otherwise the soldier is just playing a very dangerous game of baseball there the pitcher holds all the cards and running from one point to another is like running from one plate to the next with no effect on the pitcher other than they are annoyed that they cannot hit you with their fully automatic assault rifle.

 

Now for positions equipped with Browning 50 Cal. and Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) just throw in a incendiary grenade and be done with it (not like they can shoot you when they are on fire and screaming). Again, the grenade attachment is your best friend in this situation.

 

Next we arrive at positioning and the element of surprise. Today the only forces out there that use bolt action rifles are generally ad hoc militias who must make use of whatever is available. They, however, utilize superior positions and surprise to overcome an enemy force – after all ambushes are chaotic, and if the enemy can drop you before you can get your bearings, they win (assuming you and whoever else is with you are dead). Bolt action rifles should not charge directly at an enemy position as their rate of fire is insufficient to provide covering fire against enemy assault rifles.

 

Drawing upon the strengths of the rifle once more, we look at engagement distance. Like Sun Tzu once said: “Those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle. They are not brought by him.” Drawing the enemy out into an area where you are are your strongest is most advisable for a force utilizing bolt-action rifles. The stopping power and distance of the rifles is what will help you win when the enemy is holding a firearm chambered in 5.56 NATO (for example). Stopping them dead with one shot is better than having to empty 15 out of 30 of your rounds just to stop a single guy (though getting shot hurts no matter the caliber, so just hit the target already – body armor not factored in for this example).

 

Finally I just wanted to briefly touch on the design of the rifle. Design of a modern bolt action battle rifle must be short, must hold at least 10 rounds, and must have a bolt mechanism that is fast and smooth. Soldiers are already at a disadvantage when fighting against an enemy with semi or fully automatic assault rifles (we’re focusing on fully automatic for today, but I wanted to state the semi-autos for the record), so an army looking to put into service a bolt action in this computerized age should always ensure that the rifle is as fast to fire as possible, hold at least ten rounds (12 is also a good number, and 14 is ideal), is short for close quarters, and is light enough for the soldier to carry around for a very long time (especially if they are light infantry). Older designs like the Lee Enfield can still be useful in today’s world, and indeed there is no shame in copying and mass-producing a similar bolt design in order to enable soldiers to perform their tasks with relative ease.

 

There you go nations low on money and looking for a cheap solution to fight low intensity wars, pull out the list of companies that manufacture bolt action rifles and order a good few hundred thousand – it can be much cheaper than buying full autos, and you can trust your soldiers with the ammo as the bolt action rifle usually has little waste when it comes to rounds fired verses rounds fired and hit target (it’s a green, environmentally friendly rifle – yay!). Putting aside this long discussion piece, today’s modern combat doctrine will not allow bolt action rifles to become the main service arm for armies. The poor rate of fire coupled with the length of the rifle and the inflexibility of the weapon make it less attractive to armies looking for something that can suppress the enemy quickly, and allow the battlefield to move verses digging in and firing away at one another – times change, and those of us who love surplus firearms and the good old rifles must remember that we are shooting for fun (recreationally and or for hunting), and not for combat – that is a whole different ballgame altogether.

TReO and their pricing of the Port Mann.

Right well for those of you outside of the Lower Mainland a bit of background; the provincial government in cooperation with a private company built a bridge to replace the existing bridge for the sake of: “new infrastructure.” Sounds great yes, all that new concrete and steel should make things better no? Well the company that tolls the bridge prices the tolls as such:

 

Motorcycles are 1.60 one way (so 3.20 for a round trip).

Cars are 3.15 one way (6.30 round trip).

Small moving trucks (5-tons, U-Hauls, etc) are 6.30 (12.60).

Commercial trucks (large) are 9.45 (18.90).

 

There is also a 2.30 processing fee added to the total (per trip ie: west bound = 1 charge, and east bound = 1 charge, total 2 charges equalling to 4.60 extra).

 

Thus a motorbike comes around to 7.80 round trip.

The car hits at 10.90 round trip.

Small moving trucks costs 17.20.

Commercial vehicles come in at a whopping 23.50 for a single round trip (commercial trucks gotta go back and forth several times, remember?).

 

Now there are ways to lighten the burden, and the fee isn’t given IF the driver pays before 7 days. Yet looking at the prices it is no wonder people working in Vancouver and living in Langley (or further into the valley) are up in arms over such a business model. The old bridge worked fine but the government wanted to build a new bridge so the people were stuck with it. Now there is talk of tolling ALL bridges going into Vancouver from the valley – wonderful is it not?! The problem, of course, can be fixed if the company lowered their fees – they would see an increase in traffic and people could shoulder the burden more easily. Yet will they do so? Probably not.

Strange Aliens film.

One thing I want to note here is I am not a fan of horror films whatsoever, even less so when they depict military outfits which are professional, non-conscript forces as utterly incompetent and just there to be killed off for the audience’s enjoyment.

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Aliens 2 featured Colonial Marines, and from the moment they wake from their cryo-sleep I was treated to a ton of references which I think I may have discovered where Sergeant Johnson from Halo 1 – 3 comes from, along with a few Terran Marine quotes and so forth. The discovery of the roots of some of my favourite video game characters and units was quite nice, but the honeymoon ends there I am afraid.

 

When the marines enter the deserted colony they are utterly without observation, and their CO (Commanding Officer) is an idiot and panics when they are attacked by the Aliens who are slithering around and picking them off one by one. Alright I get it and I hear you: “Writer it’s a film, just enjoy it!” One I hate horror films so no, and two it’s like ignoring what the Nazis did in World War 2 (though not as horrendous, we are talking about a movie after all) I simply cannot throw away the fact that the marines are registered as a bunch of gung-ho hooligans with no discipline – it’s like the colonies needed a quick military force capable of rapid deployment, so they threw out the aptitude test that all enlistees and officers take, threw out discipline and lengthy, specialized training and just said: “you look like you hit the gym, you look like you have an interest in fighting – sign here and you’re a Marine.”

 

Now those of you who enjoyed the film and still love it keep doing that, some people like the film and some people do not. Sadly I fall into the camp of dislikes because of the fact that the marines are depicted in a way which I find quite offensive and disappointing – their professional soldiers, and sure I understand that it was just decade and a bit after Vietnam that the movie was made per se, but come on you could at least do a better job with the characters than throw in a bunch of wannabes with guns and paint them in military colours before dusting off your chair and easing back into it for the night with a glass of wine.

 

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and so on deserve a degree of realism when it comes to representation – then again I’m probably looking at it from a realism perspective – after all Aliens aren’t real (or are they?!?!). Anyways folks thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time.

Thank you for pursuing a career with us; we regret to inform you that we have chosen to pursue other candidates who better fit the needs of our company.

Well that was another bust – like the offensives in World War 1 from late 1914 to 1917 (roughly), we have hit a brick wall yet again. Funny how they give us false hope by calling us in for a group interview, then a second interview, and over a weekend (without phoning any references) they decide: “nah, let’s hire some other dudes instead.”

 

These people don’t even work over the weekend, and should they not make such an important decision AFTER they contact the references? The second interview usually signals to people that they have a good chance of getting hired, but no they just threw us out like bags of trash because they can. Their lives at home are probably meaningless so they derive joy and happiness from ruining other people’s chances for employment – good employment no less where there is a real chance at improving ones finances.

 

“Better fit the needs of the company,” it’s not like they were offering full time work to begin with, and even then I said ‘yes’ to part time work was it was STILL enough money to scratch by until full time positions opened up. Yet these people, these apathetic freaks, would still find this as: “not meeting the needs of the company.” This almost reminds me of the old days when workers got injured and for seeing the medical attendant on hand they had their wages docked – they were injured and the factory owners docked their wages because they got injured and could not work for the rest of that day. This is why we have unions, this is why we have legislation in place to prevent companies from doing these things – you know as well as I do that the moment they take that down (certain political parties wish to completely remove any legislation protecting workers as it “interferes with the free market,” alongside regulations, health and safety, and so on) the companies will hire their lawyers (their army of lawyers) and re-write their agreements in which should the work force disagree to take an 80% pay cut, they’ll hire private military/private police services who provide goon squads to suppress (with lethal force) attempts at unionization (or re-unionization).

 

This trend is bad for young workers especially where they are stuck with low paying jobs all because human resources cannot get their act together, or have an agenda to protect their buddies and favour people who hand over some cash to get into the organization. Sounds crazy, and you may or may not be right, but I am entitled to my opinions like any other person on this earth – until I am proven wrong and there is a spark of hope I will continue to utter these words: “hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.” Given what I have seen in the 24-some odd months of job searching, this is something that will likely continue.

The continuation of the Canadian Forces and their funding issues.

Sometimes I often wonder: “why is it that the Canadian Forces suffers from lack of funding – why is it that our government never has an interest in the military unlike other developed countries where service is attractive to young folks?”

 

Canada as a whole has never truly been militaristic – we see that from the very early days of confederation in 1867, to the present. Indeed Canada distinguished itself during times of war, but it is during peace time that the culture of Canada and her attitude towards the military is brought to the front for all to see. The government of Canada will only have an interest in spending on the military if there is a major conflict that requires military action; sure Afghanistan isn’t the same as the first or second world wars, but it was something that required more funding – thus it attracted better quality, and more, recruits.

 

Nowadays we see the problem re-surfacing yet again, but the government isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe for a lack of support – the public is another key factor. People are generally indifferent to military spending in Canada (there is always a fraction that opposes spending on the military past 1 percent of GDP, but aside from that), and the reason is similar to the past where only major military action will cause people to demand more funding for the armed forces. During the first world war there was a surge of patriotism, but after the war we saw a full reduction of military ranks and equipment, almost returning to the pre-war state that Canada’s armed forces were in (world war 2 was a similar story).

 

One key aspect to note in this lack of public support for spending is jobs; we see this play out in infrastructure spending, in natural resources, and in the technology sector. The public will support military spending ONLY when it creates and maintains jobs – something our military and military industrial complex cannot do. Manufacturing here in Canada is incapable of building vast arsenals, and our military (thanks to an already small budget) is unable to create more work past a few thousand or so positions where 35 million Canadians compete for each year(probably only 10 percent of that population total, but let us be generous with the numbers for this article). Until military spending moves to create more work for the common folks, they will continue to be indifferent when the government slashes military spending again and again – the money could be better used elsewhere, and we no longer truly live in an age of immediate danger (Tom Clancy books and conspiracy theories do not count as immediate and credible threats).

 

Sadly this is a trend that will likely continue as military personnel only join up (full time especially) for essentially what other workers join other companies for, better pay and benefits. Take all that away (or provide better elsewhere) and no amount of propaganda and rhetoric will cause them to flock to recruiting centres across the country – even then they will wait over a year and a half just to even get in, and by then better work would have already been acquired.

 

Attracting the best and brightest of Canadian society? You gotta have good paying jobs for people to be attracted to your organization in the first place.

Either platform is sufficient.

Hello folks;

 

Earlier today I took the time to read through the two major party platforms in America; Democrat and Republican. After watching the non-stop fighting and nonsense that is the presidential election season I thought to myself: “what are their platforms?” Even presidential candidates must obey the party platform as it was the party that nominated them for the presidential race, so it is largely the party platform that will determine their course of action, rather than whatever they say on stage.

 

First thing I noticed in both platforms was the usual; the Republicans are heavy on jobs, gun rights, religious freedom, preserving medicare, and individual rights. The Democrats were heavy on labour rights, racial tolerance, immigrant rights, green jobs, and gender rights. Yet aside from these key topics everything else was the same. Both parties favoured a stronger American economy, both parties talk of supporting Indian (Aboriginal) rights, both parties supported the military, statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington DC, lowering college costs, and both parties favour a free and open internet – foreign policy as: “America leading the way” is the same on both platforms.

 

This was an interesting detail to note as previously I had the impression that both parties would have more differences than common ground, and yet I find myself starring at essentially the same platform, just with 20% different ideas, different wording, and one is blue while the other is red. Thus I have concluded that at this point if a voter cannot decide who to vote for, forget the candidate and go for the platform – voting for the platform will grant you a more – shall we say – “educated” decision as the platform will be the guiding principle for the candidate and the platform will be what shapes the office for the following years to come. The candidates in the end have to follow the party, and the platform is what should be the deciding factor come voting day, not the candidate. Just thought I’d share my findings here with you folks, have a good one and I shall see you next time.