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The Canadian Forces were promised funding earlier this year by the current government, however what they did not tell the electorate is that the funding will mostly kick in around 2019 – after they have won a second election.


Therefore to simplify things soldiers, sailors, airmen are expected to do the usual – make do with less.


Disgraceful; any colour be it Conservative or Liberal all they are concerned with is winning the next election rather than governing. Now to be fair it is in their best interest to focus in on re-election; stable work schedule means stable income (Maker knows what politicians do for work if they are either not elected or re-elected).


Sometimes I feel sympathy for the leadership, other times my thoughts are with the military who are expected to soldier on without complaint – this is nothing new. During the latter years of the Cold War we saw Canada in West Germany under-equipped and ill-prepared to face Soviet and Soviet-backed forces should they decide to come knocking (thankfully they did not). While the pay, benefits, and rations are better than some allied nations, the feeling of neglect cannot be shaken as the troops continue to use aging equipment that are leftovers from the 80s.


However as a country most people surveyed (or at least those who bothered to reply to the survey) seem to care little of the armed forces. Recently people stated that the military was 14th on a list of priorities for Canada (or what they think to be priorities for the country) – most pressing was Health Care and pensions (and rightfully so). Yet neglect of the armed forces means that we are dependent on others for defense and we are unable to contribute more to the international community and thus attain more prestige and power.


Still, we are living in a time where threats come from non-state aggressors, and where funding for massive navies and air forces are not as needed as the army – perhaps it isn’t so much as how much more we need as where we need the most funds allocated. Yet my point still stands; rather than delivering a promise to fund, why not start down the road to fund now – a little increase here and there wouldn’t hurt and it would show the electorate that the government is serious about steadily boosting the military. The steady increase would mean that there is no risk of a sudden shock to the country’s finances, and we might even be able to find leftover funds to add to the pot for future projects outside military spending – sounds lovely does it not?


Ultimately I feel that this neglect of the military will continue; Canada has always neglected its armed forces so why stop this tradition of ours? Besides, ranking 14th in priorities for the electorate it seems those in uniform lack public support outside of well wishes and bumper stickers – make do with less, business as usual.


Been a while.

Yes indeed folks it has been a while since I last posted – welcome back to Thoughts and Topics where we just talk about odd topics and possibly video games.


Lately I have been busy with a new gig I signed on with; work is work and it requires time so here I am with limited time to invest in my hobbies and interests. Content will appear from time to time but this blog is not a primary focus of mine so don’t expect regular posts daily like some of the other professional bloggers out there – in any case I felt like talking about the Canadian army reserves today for the topic.


Looking over Ford Rangers and Toyota Technicals that are used by less-funded armies and guerrilla forces, it occurred to me that the army reserve probably needs to invest in light vehicles like Ford Rangers and so on to mount machine guns and provide fire support platforms wherever needed. Presently as it stands the reserves is badly funded and the hours of work and so on make it difficult for many Canadians to enlist in the reserves – the difficulty in training also doesn’t help.


Now training has to be challenging in order to prepare soldiers, but when you take wholesale regular force values and apply it to a part-time reserve force problems occur; an example of this is training requirements and so forth.


Soldiers in the full time army can train day and night as they are enlisted to serve full time, whereas part time soldiers have civilian jobs to handle and thus need to focus on core skills rather than miscellaneous items that the regular force can cover. Indeed interchangeable units is a nice theory, but practically the reserves should be focusing on localized defense, and rendering assistance to civil authorities in cases of emergencies.


Core training for a reservist should ideally focus on basics like drill, weapons training, first aid, and coordinating with civil authorities. While a base line fitness level is needed, expecting the reservists to be super soldiers when they lack time to work out for lengthy sessions like the regular force will cause many to walk away from the recruiting table and seek employment elsewhere.


Another thing is pay; 4,000.00 CAD after taxes is what a reservist can expect to take home – the hours are pretty bad as well. Imagine being tired after an 8-hour shift at your day job and then having to spend another 3 pecking away at small tasks that seem to lead nowhere in terms of professional development – reservist life is what this entails.


The idea for more hours is that reservists could do two hours on a weekday and a half day on Saturday every week – this will provide more time and still keep with the concept of a military reserve without causing too much stress on the serving personnel who have other things to attend to and face challenges from employers that regular force soldiers currently do not.


The problem with this, however, is one Ottawa would have to spend more money on the reserves, and if things change in the States Ottawa would back away from a promised funding boost like it was a hot plate and they had no gloves. Next is NDHQ, they would have to abandon the whole interchangeable unit concept and start focusing on mission-specific organization instead – this means the the regular force would perform all expeditionary duties while the reserves would focus on home defense and civil aid; difficult to comprehend for a command staff that is too busy jockeying for power with politicians to care about a proper functioning armed forces.


All in all the summary of this rant is this; reserve soldiers need a specific mission, more equipment to meet that mission, and more funding and training alongside a re-organization of their work week – do this and you will see a healthy increase in numbers as soldiers will feel as though the reserves will not take up too much of their spare time and employers will not feel that a worker will be gone for long periods and thus productivity of the worker is lost and they have to fill their role with a temporary worker. In the end it comes down to appeasing employers who need their workers, and Ottawa to step up, re-organize and fund the reserve – until this happens we will continue to read articles and see news reports of underfunded, undermanned reserves that are unable to meet national defense needs.

“We’ll be in touch soon.”

Yeah, okay sure you will – why don’t you just tell me that I did not get the job already? Save everyone the trouble of guessing and we can move on, both mentally and physically so to speak. Buzzwords is what hiring managers like to use to keep people “at ease” about the loss of opportunity in a market with ever shrinking opportunities as jobs are made redundant or are shipped overseas because, well, it’s cheaper.


Great, so here we are in year three of looking for work and nothing thus far has panned out. There were some gigs here and there but all were low pay or very short term, and all ended before we could even make a real difference – is this what college professors talked about when they spoke of: “opportunities?” They market to us all these wonderful stories of how getting this degree and that degree alongside a certificate and what not will land us work, and yet here I sit with my education, graduated, alongside countless others wondering: “where are all the jobs they spoke of?”


One example is policing; they said back in 2010: “retirements and openings are expected in the coming five years…” Right, now it’s 2017 – seven years onwards – and not a single opening is spotted. Quite the opposite in fact, these departments take in two to five people a year, and most are overseas cops looking for opportunity here in Canada. Locally trained and educated are being shoved aside for cops who come from beyond, and while some may argue that this could be better than hiring unskilled recruits imagine if the officer was a corrupt virus to begin with and managed to slip under the radar into another police force? Yeah, more police brutality stories are coming – ye be warned.


Next we have engineering and computer science fields; reality check all the jobs are state-side. Engineers who graduated in Ontario are stuck applying for work at Sobeys – a grocery store chain. Computer science folks may have it easier, but now we see staff from cheaper jurisdictions being shipped into Canada to fill in gaps that would cost a fortune if they hired locally – good game lads, good game. Plus even if the gig is high-paying, it is in the United States of America – with the attitude towards foreigners down there good luck finding work.


Finally we have marketing and accounting grads; the market is so saturated that my former classmates who were in those programs are working at Best Buy nearly 3 years after graduation – nice (sarcasm). Again they were told by councilors and high school advisors to: “get an education, it’ll be worth it.” Right okay maybe down the line sure, and maybe I am being short-sighted, but last I checked this dream was further marketed to us as a way to: “quickly improve one’s situation,” not a: “wait ten years and see what happens!”


Pretty soon the country will complain that not enough kids are being born; reality check old folks we cannot afford to birth children, they cost a fortune in today’s world. Housing is also an issue; rent is through the roof (2,000.00 per month for a studio flat) and the joker of a mayor of Vancouver is Mr.Big business yet people still elect him because money grows on trees and they like high taxes and more out-of-control spending.


This sort of behaviour continues we will see this country decline; the government is a failure, the people are unable to get ahead, hiring managers vomit out buzzwords to avoid hiring locals, the university system lies to us, and the world moves on without us – good game everybody.

Small details: footsteps in Gears of War 4.

Bit of an odd topic but I thought I’d cover it here for today. Playing a new character in Gears 4 I noticed that the sound is different depending on what that character is wearing. Take E-day Anya for example, she is just in her duty fatigues and has no armour on; thus the sound she makes when sprinting is just heavy boots slamming against the pavement. Now take Sam, Sam wears armour (the version I use anyways) so when she sprints the armour is audible and you can hear things like straps and plates shifting as she runs (plus there are plates over her boots so that is also audible when she sprints).


The UIR trooper was sort of hard to notice at first – his sound was a heavy metallic yet plastic noise that comes about when sprinting. This could be in part due to the fact that their armour might be made of a different material or what not, but my examples still stand with regards to the topic. These small details are what makes this game different (for me at least) from Gears of War 3 and back towards 1 where all you ever got regardless of character gear was a heavy: “shook, shook, shook” when sprinting from cover to cover. Just little bits like this make the game all that more enjoyable – I place a strong emphasis on sound and art design when it comes to immersion. Anyways folks that was all I wanted to discuss for today; thank you all for reading and I shall see you next time.

E3 2017 after action discussion.

Right, while the convention floor is still active the press conferences have been over for a day or two now – time to talk about what I liked and what I disliked from the various conferences. Starting things off we have the dislikes; that stupid VR headset that Sony is pushing onto the market. Sure I get it, the company wants to sell new tech to consumers; with that said I feel that it is going to go the way of the Kinect and just be a trend for a while before people realize just how annoying the device can be especially to those who wear glasses, or suffer from motion sickness. Now I can hear the comments now: “get contacts you noob,” or “get drugs and get better noob;” right okay you try putting a piece of plastic onto a sensitive eyeball and see how “fun” that can be, and no a person should not have to buy drugs just to overcome motion sickness for a consumer device – the only time the pills for motion sickness are needed is if they are traveling or they serve onboard a warship and need it to get through the day (or any seafaring vessel for that matter – this is from a memory of a documentary showcasing submariners).

Having to wear a headset and headphones to play games when there is a perfectly good 4k TV in front of you, or a nice large flatscreen or a decent PC monitor is insane – you spend how much money on the TVs and monitors and you want to wear something over your face to play? Why not just throw all that stuff out and stare at a wall instead with your VR headset then – save money in the long run?


VR was marketed heavily at Sony, and this seems to be the direction they wish to go in terms of toys for their console. This is fine by all accounts, but for me in particular I think I will avoid the VR headset; not my cup of tea. Moving along we have EA and their heavy emphasis on sports games; there are other genres out there, you know? Football, soccer, SOCCER! Alright we get it, soccer and football are great sports and people love them – could you stop shoving almost an hour worth of sports games in our faces and show us something new? Medal of Honor could use a revival, and what about Bioware – are they not working on a project? Then again Anthem was announced via the Microsoft conference and to be fair you have to spread things out to keep people interested – I understand the marketing needed to be done here. Still, just nothing but sports for a good 40 minutes was taxing; not a fan of that.


Positives, it was nice to see the Nintendo Switch get some third party games. Not since the Game Cube have we seen some major third party titles appear on a Nintendo device; sure there may be some that I have forgotten but to me it feels like an eternity since we saw something neat like 007 or Full Spectrum Warrior appear on a Nintendo device. Definitely a welcome move in my opinion, one that could see the Switch become more active with gamers as time passes on.


Microsoft unveiling backwards compatible original Xbox games was a nice surprise; without a new Halo or Gears game being announced the conference was entertaining but not exciting. Sure I would like to try out Anthem, but if previous E3 shows have taught me anything it is wait for the final product to be released along with a review – hope is the first step on the road to disappointment. Quotes aside yeah the original Xbox games were fun, and it would be nice to play them again on a modern system. Cross-platform play was also a nice announcement, and while I understand PS4 players are upset over no-crossplay keep in mind that Microsoft owns the Windows platform and the Xbox consoles – crossplay benefits them a lot more than it does Sony which only has the Playstation system. Sony, however, has a lot of strong exclusives so they can market their console as a purely story-driven experience rather than a multiplayer one – see if that format works for them in the long run.


E3 was good; lots to look forward to and lots to despise as they release – such is life as a gamer. Thanks for reading folks, be sure to keep track of Thoughts and Topics for new blog posts, and I shall see you next time.

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Sony’s E3 2017 press conference.

Games, games, and more games – Sony did little talking and just threw out games. This time around the press conference just delivered trailer after trailer, and a lot of the games announced were for the new Playstation VR headset; definitely will not be playing that as I am not a fan of wearing something on top of my glasses. Get motion sick, wear glasses, or just dislike wearing a thing over your face while gaming on your couch? TOO BAD YOU WILL BUY IT TO PLAY ON PLAYSTATION – WE”RE NUMBER 1!!


Frustration aside, they announced some ready-to-go titles like Uncharted The Lost Legacy, what appears to be story DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn, and one other title that I cannot remember off the top of my head at the moment. Overall a good line up for upcoming releases, with some appetizers for the future: God of War, Monster Hunter, and Shadow of the Colossus – amazing stuff.


Starting off with God of War, it seems the protagonist is actually the Kratos from the previous Greek mythology games and it appears that he has migrated north to start a family (I was under the impression that it was a look-alike). Instead of chain-blades and a Spartan shield and spear we have a magical axe that marks a departure from the typical gameplay that we are familiar with; sure axes and chain-blades fight the same but it appears that the axe will perform differently than the older weapons. Apart from that the trailer seems to indicate that Kratos will explore his past as he goes off to fight the Norse gods that inhabit the new region he now lives in.


Monster Hunter, what a strange choice for the Playstation. After hunting a giant dinosaur we see the character sit down to cook meat which, if it is an actual emote, might be a fun animation to play around with in-game. Apart from that my only experience with Monster Hunter was from the Nintendo handheld devices, so it will be a new take on the series – more to come as details unfold.


Finally Shadow of the Colossus – never played it in-depth on the older playstation but I know a lot of people were waiting for a new game; a fan base like that should mean, ideally, that the game is bound to be something special once it hits the market. Apart from the trailer showing off the giant beasts we see little that will inform us of the game; more to come on that one as well I suppose.


Unlike the Ubisoft press conference which featured a bunch of stuff I have absolutely no interest in (Dance games, racing games, sports…) Sony seemed to focus in on what makes its system attractive to its customer base. While it does little to convince folks like myself to cough up the extra dollars to buy a system, the games coming out for the system are unique, fresh, and ultimately fun to play (looks like, anyways) – really looking forward to at least see the story movies as these games come out.


One note to write on before closing this post, Detroit Become Human looks great. Sure it can be a colossal failure, but right now with the info we have available the game looks good. All we ask for is meaningful choices, and it appears to deliver that; furthermore the facial animations are really good, and there are titles where realistic graphics adds to the experience – this is one of those titles. Looking forward I am hopeful that the Playstation will deliver some quality games in the coming year – here is hoping, however, that VR is not going to take over the system completely. Similar to the Kinect the VR headset looks to be a trend and games being developed for the headset is resources taken away from conventional games development – should this be the reality for the system there will be a lot of pissed off gamers.


Anyways folks this concludes the Sony press conference post, thank you all for reading and I shall see you next time.

Bethesda’s press conference.

Right so Bethesda did their press conference last night around 9pm pacific time and it was sort of lackluster. A lot of the announcements throughout the conference were all current issue games (out on the market already) and they were simply adding more to these games (Fallout 4, Skyrim, etc). Yet despite the lack of new titles announced (Wolfenstein 2 was announced – more on that later) I was not entirely disappointed with the Bethesda conference; sure a new title (brand new IP) would have been nice but it is also nice to see them support current games and keep their players happy.


Now the Creators Club kind of has me worried that it would eat away at free mods and replace them with paid ones. Now it seems that this service is for Developer-made mods, but if they start throwing in ordinary Modders into the mix with no free option then I would be worried. Sure Modders deserve to get paid for their work, but you don’t take something that has been free forever and make it mandatory to pay because: “F-you give me money.” When the program gets more details we will know exactly what they are up to over there at the studios.


Alright now to the actual new release: Wolfenstein 2 The New Colossus – wow was that a good looking trailer. Now I will be honest I am not a major fan of the series, however I can see the beauty of said title set in an alternate history where the Axis forces – specifically Germany – have won the war against the allies (and with strange futuristic technology as well). The trailer hinted at the game taking place in the American deep south which could be interesting depending on the writing and the environment design – we shall see.


Wolfenstein 2 looks promising, and the best part about the entire conference was that everything – EVERYTHING – will be out this year (unless they push it back – it can happen folks, it can happen). Overall the conference was not terrible, but it wasn’t all to exciting either; this of course is dependent upon the viewer and what their expectations were going in. Anyways folks that’s it for this one, thanks for reading and I shall see you next time.