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I am still here.

Greetings readers;

 

Indeed it has been a while since I posted here, has it not? Since that time much has changed: the PC gaming community (and to some extent gaming in general) has lost a valuable member and advocate – Totalbiscuit.

 

Back some six years ago I remember stumbling upon TB’s WoW content, and from then on was subscribed to his channel for his personality and critique of various titles. Since that time I have been on and off when it comes to his content; after he went into treatment for cancer was around the time the series: “WTF is…?” slowed down to a crawl and I wasn’t able to keep up with the podcasts so I only viewed some of his material in recent years.

Yet the fact remains, Totalbiscuit passed away last week and it came as a sudden event – we all knew of his condition and his retirement, but in my case I at least thought we had some time before it was the end; this was sudden.

 

I hope those closest to him are getting through this okay; while I did not know nor meet him personally his voice was unique among content creators and he will be missed – I wish we had more time with the guy before he had to go.

 

Rest in peace TB.

 

Other things that have changed since then, the new Star Wars film is out and it… looks okay? A lot of folks who went to go see it this past weekend were left feeling odd; by which I mean somewhere between disappointed and somewhat satisfied.

 

The film has a lot of cringe-worthy moments according to guys like AngryJoe, but despite this I might go see it myself – if nothing else it was at least a good popcorn flick according to AngryJoe so why not, right?

 

With the passing of TB (sorry to dwell on this, but it has hit pretty hard on my end) I figure that living a little isn’t a bad idea; moments like these remind us of the fragile nature of life – one must make use of the present for the past is written and the future is clouded and uncertain. Down the road once I watch the Solo film I will write a brief piece on it – place my thoughts of the film on record for all to read.

 

Anyways folks I think I will end this post for today – a bit of a depressing day but everyone has ups and downs: thank you all for reading and we shall see you next time.

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Everything sucks…

Anyone else feel that we live in a decade where there is this attitude that everything new sucks? This prevailing concept bothers me; sure there are some terrible movies, games and so on coming out but to declare everything as terrible is taking it a bit too far, would you not agree?

 

Take the Last Jedi for instance, yes there were a lot of people that disliked the film but in the end it worked out alright. Most people will continue to dislike it because it did not live up to their fan theories, but the film did well – a bad product would not have pulled in as much money as a good product.

 

There are a couple of co-workers who continuously complain about the Last Jedi even up to this month of March 2018; I am not joking, this is what they spend their 30-minute lunch break on and seldom touch their food in order to do it (though they also seldom complain of hunger so I suppose they are willing to pay the price).

 

Then there is one co-worker who complains how RPGs are: “not as good as back in the day.” Right well Elder Scrolls 4 Oblivion was a good game but when you fire it up after playing newer RPGs you tend to feel the limitations of said title; mechanics, storytelling, dialogue options, and so on are just a few items that show their age when you return to an older title after spending ample time with a new story.

 

People seem to forget just how fortunate they are when it comes to games, movies and so on; we live in a time period when one has a plethora of options to enjoy their favourite media, and yet all they can ever think about is: “this sucks, that sucks, everything sucks.”

Right well you continue to type away on your keyboard about how this movie sucks, how that game franchise now sucks, how older titles were better (perhaps there is merit, and perhaps there is not); you keep doing that while I take the copy you would have bought and play it myself – thanks for making sure stores have inventory when I want to go purchase it and not have to wait another two weeks and so on because they were sold out on day one.

 

Lots of love,

Thoughts and Topics

I finally saw the Last Jedi…

(Spoilers)

 

Earlier in the week I finally got the chance to watch Star Wars The Last Jedi – the movie was quite good. Coming from the perspective of someone who has experience with the books a lot of the material fits together well and the movie made sense (minus the Princess going Superman back into the destroyed bridge of the cruiser).

 

Indeed I waited for a few weeks in order to gather as much intelligence as I could on the product before jumping into the pile, and it seems that after some time had passed the film started to click with some people; I did watch both reviews from Angry Joe (the initial review and the 2nd and 3rd screenings) and after he relented on the subject matter I started to dive deeper into the film and pick out what made it good and what left audiences disappointed.

 

While it is a shame to see Luke die in the film, it was a nice conclusion to his life – the watching of the twin suns rising as he faded into the Force was very poetic and the imagery was done well to convey the passing of someone in peace, rather than in pain and misery.

 

The bomber scene was something people picked on quite a lot, and to that one has to argue that if you wanted realism in a film taking place in space then explosions should not exist (ships should just crumple as there is no air to fuel fire in space; they would also shatter like glass and break into tiny pieces as there is no air to fuel an external fire – no plume of flame bursting out from the superstructure), sounds should not be heard (no audio in space minus whatever is internal to the ships themselves), and missiles wouldn’t work as there is no air for explosions so the projectile would just smack into the intended target and leave a giant hole while not detonating.

 

Should one wish to imagine a real-life space battle, one would have to think of MAC guns from Halo (Magnetically Accelerated Cannons); essentially one is firing a solid projectile straight at a target requiring direct line of sight, and the projectile would penetrate through the target rather than cause an explosion (though internally the ship would catch fire, vent atmosphere, etc).

 

Finally Kylo killing Snoke was a nice nod to the fact that the Rule of Two emphasized the need for the apprentice to kill the master and take their place. Indeed the Rule of Two ended with Vader and Sidious but Snoke and Kylo seemed to have carried on the tradition without actually being aware of it – this was left largely to the audience to interpret and digest. Kylo taking over the First Order was the natural path of progression as a student of the dark side would know that in the end they must take power in order to progress – peace is a lie, there is only passion.

 

Furthermore Rey’s origins being a bit of a let down could be written off as Kylo either lying to Rey in her moment of emotional distress, or that the director wanted to break away from the Skywalker family tree; force-sensitive beings come from all over the galaxy, and considering that the films wanted to end the Skywalker saga this is not at all surprising. Sure we would have liked to see our fan theories about Rey play out (Snoke included) but they are just that, fan theories – the director and script writers have the final say in this matter, rather than the audience.

 

Now where am I headed with all of this rambling? The point to be made is the directors are working with a science fiction franchise; none of it has to be realistic as it is not a documentary, and ownership of the fictional universe belongs to the studios that have a license to them and to the creators – we are simply the end consumer of said product. Now would I say the same if the film was poorly acted, the story poorly written, and the cinematography in general of poor quality? Yes, but I would further add that I can simply avoid the film; considering it is week five of the Last Jedi being in theaters and my viewing was a full house I hope in this particular case that the money speaks louder than the criticisms – I want more films, and if this film in the end it turned out alright then the others ought to be satisfactory.

Year end post – Commission from the ranks, some gaming talk, and final thoughts for 2017.

Hello folks;

 

2017 is nearly at an end, and I have seldom posted these past few months so let us get on to business to end things off for 2017.

 

Commissioning from the ranks should be a military’s first option; having some college kid take command of a unit straight out of Officer School with a degree is not what I would call a smart move. Quite often police departments tend to have their constables work their way up, making it a real meritocracy whereas in the military the Officer/Enlisted divide is a holdover from an age where birth and social status was an indicator of success in life.

 

When an army commissions from the ranks the relationship between soldier and officer is more concrete; quite often soldiers will not respect an officer who has little to no actual military experience and yet a country trusts them to take command and lead the troopers into action. Indeed it is the NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers; your sergeants, corporals and so on) who are often the ones to take charge of a squad and lead the soldiers into action, and when the officer fails to use their brain they have to take charge of the situation and set a good example for others to follow. Now imagine if the Officer Corps commissioned from the NCO corps; imagine all that experience transferring over to a more senior command – would that not work better than direct commission?

 

Countries need to adapt to a changing world, and commissioning from the ranks is a positive step forward – do away with this archaic practice and see that the military becomes a true meritocracy rather than a place where social stratification is amplified and upheld.

 

This year’s gaming scene has been somewhat of a disappointment; perhaps it is the lack of time, perhaps it is the fact that the new releases that showed promise (ie: Battlefront 2) failed to live up to expectations.

 

This far into a gaming life so to speak one should be accustomed to disappointment, and yet it still strikes hard when a game fails to deliver on a promise or fall flat on its face after telling the market audience that it will not do just that. Battlefront 2 was a failure not the least bit because the Empire story arc turned into a generic turncoat soap opera, and Call of Duty WW2 made what was to be a serious topic (concentration camps) into some cheap heart-string moment – this followed up by over the top explosions because, apparently, the audience has an attention span that requires constant stimulation in order to remain focused lest they wander off onto Instagram and forget about the game.

 

Going into 2018 I hope that the gaming scene develops some interesting stories for us to enjoy as Gamers; while this is a real case of wishful thinking one must maintain optimism when it comes to our favourite pastime. 2017 for gaming was trash; even more so for films that were shown on the big screen as the Last Jedi turned out to be a flop, Transformers the Last Knight was poorly done, and I forgot the other films that were released – I have not even set foot in a theater this year, it was that bad.

 

Anyways folks this concludes the year end post for 2017 – thanks for sticking around and we shall see you in the new year (teleportation spell activated).

Neglect.

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.