Quick Fix: My Life in 2021 in Photos

Hey, I know that my writing output has slowed considerably in 2021, down from three posts in the first half of January to… well… one (really great) article since then. It’s not that I don’t have ideas – I’ve got a Retrospective planned for months and ready to go as soon as I get time to dedicate to watching the franchise again, and I wanted to write about Gamestonk back when that was in the news. Unfortunately, since mid-January my life has be complete chaos and making time for writing hasn’t been realistic. Not only that, but I’m the sort of writer who needs to have a creative spark in order to make any sort of progress and so I haven’t even had the time for inspiration. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve gotten some of that creative spark back, so here I am writing a bit of a reflection on what I’ve been up to lately to stretch some of those creative juices. Hopefully I will be able to dedicate more time in the near future to bring posts to life.

So what really pushed this stressful period of my life into overdrive? Well, first of all, my wife and I bought a house… so that was a break-neck month and a half of stress getting finances in order, dealing with lawyers, banks, mortgage brokers, etc to make that work, not to mention that we then had to co-ordinate the actual move in the middle of a snow storm (have I mentioned before that I live in Canada?).

As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, a week before we moved in my wife decided she wanted to get a puppy. And not just any puppy – a Belgian Malinois puppy. Freaking John Wick 3 attack dog puppy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have had our attentions fully on him since to ensure that he is properly trained and have had to get a trainer to help. This alone has kept my hands full and away from the keyboard, since basically my entire day gets dedicated to either work or keeping him from getting into trouble until bedtime where I might get an hour of free time if I’m lucky. So, uh, yeah maybe you can see why there haven’t been many posts lately.

That said, it hasn’t been all work for me. I do get a bit of downtime while the dog naps, but that has mostly been dedicated to painting miniatures. I started getting into Warhammer 40,000 again last year and have been expanding my Adepta Sororitas army with some of the new models they received recently. I’m really happy with how they’ve been turning out and can’t wait for COVID to be over so I can get them on the tabletop. Since moving into the new house, my huge pile of shame is now readily available to me so I’m trying to work away at it (which is also nice because I’m on a very tight budget now, so miniature purchases are extremely low priority).

Other than that, most of my free time has gone towards reading. Having finished the 2000ad Humble Bundle, I’ve moved on to other comics. First was Strontium Dog, one of 2000ad’s classic, flagship franchises. I bought and read the original series run, which is available in the five volumes of S/D Agency Files. Volume 1 is rough, pulpy fun, but the series really hits its stride in volumes 2 through 4. These stories are incredible, I heartily recommend reading them and getting drawn into the dangerous universe of Johnny Alpha, Wulf Sternhammer and Durham Red. Unfortunately, it all comes to a sticky end with volume 5, the aptly (if unsubtly) titled “The Final Solution” which brought the original series to a close. I am really mixed on it. I feel like it may have worked eventually but feels unearned and rushed at this point in Johnny Alpha’s story, especially the villains’ place in the story. It’s too bad, Strontium Dog has never recovered since then, with every attempt to follow-up or retcon this ending being half-baked and not measuring up to the original run. C’est la vie, even if it’s not the best ending, sometimes it’s just best to allow characters to rest.

Speaking of which, I followed-up on the other four volumes of Judge Anderson: The Psi Files. Volume 1 is just as great as volume 2, showing a more philosophical, rebellious and downright weird side of Justice Department than we get from Judge Dredd. However, things go completely off the rails in volumes 3 and 4. I’d like to know what drugs Alan Grant was on in the late 80s and early 90s because some of the stories he comes up with here are insane. While some of the more philosophical ones are at least interesting, none are satisfying and some are at odds with established characters such as Chief Judge Volt or make no sense (you’re telling me most of the children of MC1 disappear or die and this never gets brought up again…?). Meanwhile volume 4 hinges entirely on one epic storyline about a psychic virus… which ultimately makes no sense. So Judge Anderson dreams she’s on Deadworld? Okay, but how does this leave a psychic virus in her head? And how does this psychic virus even spread? And how are they even supposed to figure out the very fine details which end up defeating it at the last second? It all makes no sense and ruins what could have been an interesting storyline which feels like a prototype for the apocalyptic Day of Chaos which would come years later. Luckily, volume 5 turns things around with far breezier storylines, although it’s still a far cry from the series’ heyday in the early 80s.

Finally, I’ve recently started the Attack on Titan manga, having picked up a huge bundle off Humble a couple months ago. I’ve got a love-hate relationship with this series, having seen the first two seasons of the anime and a couple episodes of the third before dropping off of it. It’s at the point where I might even make a “Attack on Titan is Kind of Trash” in the near future, depending on how the manga shakes out. If it’s as frustrating as the anime was for me? Hoo boy, you can count on it. I’m on volume 2 currently and it has been very close to the anime so I’d say count on it.*

Anyway, that’s my life these past few months. I’m hoping to get back into writing a bit more regularly, but it all depends on how life shakes out and if the dog’s training becomes less of an overwhelming situation in my life. Fingers crossed that I can bring this latest Retrospective series to life soon and maybe even come out with a couple writing projects I’ve been plugging away at… we’ll see.

*Post-script: So I’ve binged through a couple dozen volumes of Attack on Titan in the past few days and I’m not so sure about this being worthy of a Trash post. I legitimately enjoy this manga and most of my complaints are going to be nitpicks in comparison to all the praise I have for this story. I don’t want “____ is Kind of Trash” to turn into a hyperbolic, nitpicky complaint platform, I want it to be for popular media that I legitimately did not like or that I think are massively overrated. I will be watching the anime after I finish the manga, so maybe there will still be a post for the anime, since I was unimpressed by the first two seasons, but they’d really have to drop the ball for it to qualify. I guess we’ll see.

*Post-post-script: Oh. Oh my. I may have spoken too soon. Attack on Titan‘s final arc can only really be equated to a Game of Thrones Season 8 level disaster.

+++Under Construction+++

Hey everyone! Depending on when you read this, you may have noticed that things are looking a bit different around here. After eight years of IC2S being hosted on Blogger, the frustrations of their platform became too much for me to bear anymore. Their new interface was finally the straw that broke the camel’s back, being less functional, more difficult and just plain broken in spots. As a result, I decided it was high time to move to WordPress. I was aiming to get the site all set up and ready to go before I went live, but I hit a snag migrating to WordPress.org and most of my prep work was lost as the site went live… oops!

What this means is that if you see anything broken on IC2S, especially if you’re reading this within a week of its original posting, then it’s probably something I’m working away on in the free time that I have. I’m also working through some of my old posts (especially important ones like Love/Hate and Retrospectives posts) to optimize them for WordPress, but I can’t guarantee that every one of these will get fixed. If you notice any issues then please drop a comment and I will correct it asap, thank you!

In any case, I’m much happier with WordPress as my content management system and am looking forward to working more with it in the future – to the point that I might even post a bit more frequently than I have been lately! Thank you for your patience and I look forward to producing more writing for you all to enjoy soon.

Quick Fix: Mandatory Voting

Hey everyone, I am pleased to announce that I became a father on the 29th of October! This is super exciting, but if my writing schedule becomes more inconsistent, that’s my excuse. I’ve actually got a lot of content underway, some of which will definitely be done by the end of the year, but I’m just a bit crunched for time as you can probably understand.

Anyway, with the midterm elections now on the books and the Democrats thankfully winning Congress, hopefully the signs are pointing towards this global fascist nightmare finally losing momentum. All of the voting talk was making me think about my many articles about voting and how I kind of wish that people had to earn the right to vote (if there was a way to make that notion not totally evil). Upon some reflection after seeing the midterm campaigns unfold, I occurs to me that this idea doesn’t really fit into the modern American democratic process very well (let alone the Canadian one). Part of the problem is the pervasiveness of fake news and propaganda on hyper-partisan media. If the truth wasn’t being actively obscured by malicious agents that would be one thing, but when we have one side skewing the truth so much that its adherents are basically living in an entirely different world, that makes them have a false sense of confidence that they know what the issues really are that they’re voting for. Plus, these malicious influencers are driving people to vote through outrage, meaning that the parties are incentivized to be political scum in order to have a chance to win. It’s just a race to the bottom due to the way that the system is set up.

But… what if it didn’t have to be that way? I saw the following Tweet while browsing voting threads and I found its argument extremely interesting:

Aussie here: one thing that is oft repeated by Australian commentators on the USA is that because USA lacks mandatory voting the Republicans must rely on churches to get people to vote. Which is why your Conservative party is a lot more right wing tha ours.

— A.Z.M.B (@Voodooqueen126) November 4, 2018

I definitely think that AZMB is hitting on some truth here, as the Republican party and most influential evangelical leaders have been inextricably, publically tied together since at least the time of the Moral Majority. This, of course, hits on what I said earlier – pander to voting blocs to overpower opposing parties’ numbers, because all that really matters is that you get into power when you’re in politics.

I don’t know how you would enforce it, but mandatory voting definitely does stymie some of these issues and incentivizes parties to actually serve the interests of the majority of the public, rather than just voting blocs. To make this more effective, the government would either make voting significantly easier for citizens, or make voting days into national holidays. As we saw in America, this is not the case, as it plays to the strengths of those in power (the major parties in America are in bed with corporate interests, so they don’t want their employees not working) and suppresses the poor, working class from engaging in politics. Simply put, the system as it works now is rigging the fact that less than 60% of the population is actually likely to vote by being very selective on the ones who actually will get a political voice.

Hell, while we’re at it, getting rid of a first past the post system would also serve the public greatly. Justin Trudeau flirted with the idea, promising it in his election campaign, but when the time came to act he backed down, making the excuse that it gives extremists a voice. Unless the majority of Canadians secretly harbour a preference for extremist parties, I don’t think that this would be the case. In fact, I’d think that proportional voting would incentivize less extremism, as the parties are going to want to appeal to more voters.

Basically, I just wish that politics were actually in the interests of the people, rather than corporate interests as they mainly are now. Steve Bannon is an evil piece of shit, but he kind of has a point regarding populism being the way of the future – however, his nationalist, xenophobic bent makes this unconscionable. However, populism in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, merely that it is often co-opted by people like Bannon. Bernie Sanders was kind of a proof of this, as he was a populist and a socialist. I don’t think that the winds of change have gone out of the sails of populism and if progressives want to survive this fascist nightmare then they would do well to harness it for good. A progressive, populist movement could do some serious good and would hopefully have some real value to voters.

Quick Fix: Beta Uprising

In the time period between #GamerGate (ugh) and the rise of Trump (BLEH), I started reading We Hunted the Mammoth to get an idea of the sorts of extreme sexism present in our society which people are largely unaware of. However, as the American election began to ramp up, these stories began to evolve. Small communities in the “manosphere” of men’s rights activists, incels and “red pillers” were becoming more extreme and latching onto other groups. More than a year before neo-nazis came back into the public conscious at Charlottesville, I was seeing how the manosphere was drawing people into the alt-right and neo-nazi beliefs through their insulated communities centered on little more than hatred. That’s why men’s rights activism is a total joke – men face real issues which could be fixed with a concerted effort. However, trying to organize an effort to combat these issues is like trying to throw a white pride parade – the people who latch onto that cause will steer the ship towards the people they hate and blame for their problems.

This brings me to the recent van attack in Toronto, in which 10 people have been killed (so far) and 16 injured. Initially, it appeared that this might be an organized terrorist attack of some sort, as it was clearly premeditated. However, it is now coming out that the perpetrator, Alek Minassian, was likely a member of the manosphere and alt-right, specifically an “incel”, who was radicalized by the group’s hateful rhetoric. To put it simply, this rhetoric has grown from, and appeals to, groups of insecure and sexually frustrated young men who are “involuntary celibates” (hence “incel”). In their version of reality, “Chads” are the successful men who horde all the sex with the “Staceys” (aka, “sluts”, because even in this version of reality, a woman is worthy of scorn if she has sex with somebody). They also have a very social-Darwinist view of the world, where the Chads are alpha males and the incels are all betas (if you ever hear an alt-right dumbass calling you a “beta cuck”, now you know exactly why to laugh at them). Even the name “involuntary celibate” belies a belief that they feel that men are entitled to sex and that it is women who are in the wrong for denying them this right, with some even going so far as to fantasize for a world in which men can force women to have sex with them.

If it seems odd that this might cause someone to go on a killing spree, you’d be right, but the hatred that brews within the alt-right is literally radicalizing people in a manner not unlike that of a more organized terrorist organization such as ISIS. Incels’ fantasies about a world where the betas get their revenge has led to further fantasies of a “beta uprising”, to the point where it has basically become a legend among incels (seriously, that is not hyperbole on my part, just Google beta uprising). To this end, we have had mass killers inspired by this rhetoric, most notably Elliot Rodger of the Isla Vista killings in 2014. Perhaps most disgustingly, some incels have latched onto Elliot Rodger as a hero who started the beta uprising.

Predictably, Alek Minassian is being hailed as a hero once again by some within the incel community. It’s actually kind of a funny situation, I wonder how many of these people would paint all of Islam with the same brush in this situation, but say “hey, not all incels celebrate mass murder” when the finger gets pointed at them. But I digress – as one of my friends put it yesterday, this isn’t a mental health issue, but it’s going to be painted as such because that’s easier than dealing with the serious issues that are funneling young men towards radicalization in our society. People will rail against political correctness and feminism, but sexism is still alive in our society and this attack in Toronto is, as it seems with the evidence we have right now, the sort of result that it leads to at its most extreme. We should remember that it isn’t religion that causes people to kill, as the common scape-goat goes, but deep-seated hatred, dehumanization and radicalization.

I’m going to end this Quick Fix with the words of David Futrelle in his comments on this latest tragedy:

“[…] It would be dishonest and dangerous to dismiss this as a ‘mental health’ issue. Incel is a poisonous and hateful ideology, not a form of mental illness, and killings carried out in its name should be considered deliberate terrorism just as ISIS bombings or KKK lynchings are. Misogyny is hate, just as racism and religious intolerance are. As I’ve been saying for some time, the incel movement is a real danger; it appeals to young men consumed by bitterness who don’t think they have much to lose. And instead of helping them solve their problems it radicalizes them and ratchets up both their bitterness and their ‘nothing to live for’ nihilism. It’s a movement that idolizes mass killers and that has only slightly ironically heralded Elliot Rodger as its patron ‘saint.'”

Quick Fix: Be Inspired, You Sheep!

I saw Ready Player One at the movies last night (it was a fun time), but there was one poster in the lobby which really captured my attention:

If you have read my previous posts about the Christian media industry, then you’ll probably guess what caught my eye on this. That big, red declaration at the top lays bare the entire reason this, and any other big Christian movie for that matter, gets made: you, as a Christian, are part of an easy-to-manipulate market demographic who will bring in a strong return on a small investment. It’s no coincidence that the new God is Not Dead film* came out this weekend as well – Christians often make a big stink about how evil Hollywood is, but studios will still throw them a bone because they are a built-in audience that will run on word-of-mouth marketing and, most importantly, they have money at their disposal. It just sickens me how blatantly they’re commodifying faith and how we as a community have turned this into a whole commercial enterprise.

Like, look at those statements. First, gather your church – even a modest church could net you 50+ people, but with mega churches you could have hundreds of people roped into seeing Paul: Apostle of Christ. Again, word-of-mouth marketing. You, as a Christian, are amazing to a studio because they spend way less to make these films and they’re pretty much guaranteed to return a modest profit because of how we pressure each other into seeing these sorts of movies that suck up to Christians living in a bubble.

Second, gather your friends and family – this part sickens me the most. To me, this essentially is saying “Hey, you want to evangelize to your family but don’t know how? Boy, do I have the perfect product for you…” I mean, hell, it’s one thing if you let that sort of thing happen organically, but the fact that you’re trying to sell your film on that notion rubs me the wrong way. Of course, this can also be interpreted as “gather your Christian friends and family and go see this”, but either way this is just another word-of-mouth attempt to get butts in seats.

Finally, come be inspired together… bloody hell, that is so condescending, and yet, probably accurate for the sort of person who would see this film. It’s like the template requires that every Christian movie has to be “inspiring” in one way or another. The Kendrick brothers, for example, have built a career on this concept. Even silly comedies, like Road to Redemption, have to renew your faith and try to proselytize to your unsaved friends who definitely aren’t cringing the entire way through this film you forced them to sit through. It is what it is, I guess, but some variety would certainly go a long way, especially considering that most Christian media isn’t really made for the people outside that bubble anyway. Perhaps that’s why God is Not Dead is not telling you to bring your unsaved friends and family, while Paul: Apostle of Christ is… which actually is making me start to re-evaluate exactly which notion is more disgusting. Ugh. Here’s “S.M.C.” (aka Sunday Mass Consumption) by Project 86 to play us out…

*…I seriously considered putting quotation marks around the word “film” here.

Quick Fix: Cold War Two and Fake News

The recent poisoning of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a deadly nerve agent is only the most recent of a long series of events that should remind us that the Cold War has never truly ended. In fact, it makes the plot of Skyfall, where the British Parliament claims that the use of field agents by MI6 is unnecessary, seem positively outdated. The story is still unfolding, but just this morning the UK, France, US and Germany have all condemned Russian and are promising retributive action, while Russia promises that they will retaliate in kind. I imagine that this will all end with some strong words and chest thumping before fading into the background, but I’m more interested about the dialogue surrounding this event and what that may mean.

The following image is a snapshot of the first comments on the CBC article I linked above at the time of writing. I’ve been checking CBC news throughout this story’s development and it is pretty indicative of the sort of comments which dominate these articles:

Articles about the poisoning tend to be filled with pro-Russian voices, mostly with the intention of sewing doubt (you can see one here about not believing that “Russian bots” are real, while another references CIA media manipulation; I have also seen comments elsewhere regarding the lack of proof for Russian involvement). It seems like the sort of thing which is well below the business of a government, but there is certainly evidence that Russia is actively involved in spreading low-level misinformation as part of their propaganda machine. It also isn’t even the first time that Russia has assassinated former agents on British soil since the end of the Cold War, which provides further evidence that they deserve the scrutiny being leveled at them now. Some Russian officials are claiming that this is a false-flag operation, which just sews even more doubt in particularly paranoid sorts of individuals. For those sorts, this is equivalent to 9/11 and the American invasion of Iraq, believing that (for some inexplicable reason) liberals want to go to war with Russia and will use this false flag operation to get the sheeple public on their side (this is a narrative which was being put forth during the American election, that warhawk Hillary was going to cause a war with Russia).

This whole situation is making the assertion that we live in a post-truth world more demonstrable to me. The funny thing about all of this is that I have to be very careful to crouch all of my words because there really is no actual proof that Russia is responsible for this attack, despite the likely evidence that they did. Didn’t it seem like Iraq had some part to play in the War on Terror, didn’t we have evidence of WMDs, back when they were invaded? With all the misinformation and, dare I say it, fake news that is getting sewn out there, it makes it incredibly difficult to determine what is true and what is not.

Quick Fix: Advances in Poppy-Wearing Technology

So Remembrance Day is coming up here in Canada, that transitional period between Halloween and the Christmas blitz where we honour our veterans. There’s one little squabble which seems to flare up more and more in the past few years though, and that’s in regards to the “proper” way to wear your poppy. If you aren’t familiar with Remembrance Day traditions, basically you give a donation and receive a poppy in exchange (not a real poppy though, obviously) which you pin onto your clothing to show your respect for the veterans. However, the pin which is used for the poppies is notoriously problematic and causes quite a few painful jabs every year, which prompts some people to replace the default pin with something more secure and without the exposed pin, such as a “butterfly clutch”.

In fact you will notice that the style of pin used with the poppy isn’t even offered from this custom pin website. The long pin is the closest analogue, but even then it is far more secure and safe than the traditional poppy pin.

However, Veterans Canada has stated that they do not condone replacing the pin, and this has caused many people in the public to shame those who do so. In fact, this whole post was inspired by this one Facebook picture someone had shared:

As you can probably tell, I’m totally in favour of relaxing the standards of what “acceptable” poppy-wearing should be, but the whole situation as it currently stands leaves me conflicted. On the one hand, the whole point of the poppy is to show respect for the veterans, so I feel a need to wear it as they would like us to when it comes down to actually displaying the poppy. That said, I also feel like veterans should be more open to improvements in poppy-wearing technology, since these pins are notoriously inadequate and rather unsafe.

Maybe I just hate adherence to tradition for tradition’s sake, even when there’s a better way to do things. After all, wasn’t one of the key lessons of WWI that soldiers died due to the generals’ insistence on adhering to old, outdated traditions? Or what about our modern veterans whose injury and death is kept at astonishingly low levels thanks to technological increases, innovation and efficiency over the past few decades?

Again, if the vets say that it’s disrespectful to wear the poppy any other way then we’re probably going to have to deal with that, but I do think that they should be open to the possibility of change. I’m sure that there are some people who will bristle at my position on this, perhaps justifying the poppy’s current pin by saying that the pain is nothing compared to what the veterans suffered. That’s true obviously, but it’s a pretty poor justification as far as I’m concerned and is little more than a shaming tactic to try to eliminate any questioning of potentially outdated tradition. As innovation has helped to improve the lives of soldiers, so too should innovation improve the lives of us who don’t want to get pricked every November for choosing to openly support the vets.

Quick Fix: James Bond Will Return…

Way back in my very first post on this blog, I wrote up a short article about how Skyfall killed the “James Bond is a code name” fan theory and basically destroyed any chance of seeing Idris Elba as Bond without breaking with the newly established canon. However, with the Spectre trailer releasing yesterday, it seems like an appropriate time for me to lay down the speculation I have had to legitimize both sides of this argument and make way for far more inclusivity in the Bond franchise from here onward.

Since they very rarely brought up any sense of continuity, the previous James Bond films were able to get away with their changing actors and tones with little suspension of disbelief required. This is where the code name theory came from – each “James Bond” was simply filling in a code name when they were promoted to the position of 007. This theory made a lot of sense and, up until Skyfall, it looked like the most reasonable way to explain why we could have the same M in the Brosnan era and the “origin story” Casino Royale. However, Skyfall unexpectedly grounded the current 007 in a very specific place and time and established pretty conclusively that this Bond actually is named “James Bond”. It’s pretty well known that Daniel Craig is contracted for 1 more James Bond film after Spectre, but after that whoever follows up him is going to have to figure out some way to keep the narrative intact (while simultaneously having some pretty big shoes to fill in). However, I think that there is a perfect solution that should be pretty easy to incorporate into Bond 25 which will make the series so much more interesting in the future.

If I was in charge of writing Bond 25, I would have the film end with Craig-era Bond dying. Yes, for real, especially because this is a fate that has been foreshadowed throughout his tenure, and would fit his arc pretty well (or, if we can’t have him die, then at least have him fake it for good). As a result, M declares that from this point forward, all agents with the 007 rank will be known by the code name “James Bond”, in honour of their greatest fallen agent. It could even end with the next James Bond being introduced if they have them cast by then, similar to what they did with Ralph Fiennes’ M.

This proposed ending would be perfect for a number of reasons. First of all, it would shake up the series quite a bit and probably break the Internet if they kept it secret. Secondly, it would keep the character development that has been built up throughout the Craig era intact, while also paving the way for future James Bond films to do something different. Thirdly, making the code name theory official opens up the Bond series to so many possibilities. There have been rumblings about casting Idris Elba as Craig’s follow-up for years, and serious discussions have been brought forth even within Sony Pictures. Having Bond’s character rooted in a very specific person kind of ruins this possibility, and you know that if they went forward with it then there’d be lots of asshats saying that Bond is white and therefore can’t be played by a black man. However, if this development went forward and the code name theory became canon, then I imagine that significantly more people would be accepting of non-traditional Bond portrayals. Suddenly, it wouldn’t feel out of character for the new Bond to be non-white, or asexual, or less serious… hell, we might even see a female Bond someday if this were implemented. The possibilities are endless, and I’m going to be absolutely grieved if EON productions don’t go forward with this proposed ending. It just seems to perfect to me and sets up Bond’s future to go forward indefinitely.

Quick Fix: The Times They Are a Changin’

All the fuss about the Confederate flag seems to have been getting peoples’ noses out of joint. Even some people who agree the Confederate flag is a negative symbol and supported that it should be taken down are getting annoyed as the story progresses, with people now getting pressured to stop displaying the Confederate flag in public settings. While there has been some overreaction in regards to the flag on both sides (banning iPhone games that depict it, repainting the General Lee, etc), I would hope that most level-headed people would realize that the flag carries some really negative connotations. In general, people just hate being told what they can and cannot do, especially if those things were absolutely fine a few years earlier (this is a key reason why there is often such a huge disconnect between the younger and older generations).

The obvious issue that this way of thinking ignores is that all of human society has been changing in this way and will continue to do so inevitably. Think about it for just a moment – your sense of what a “normal” society and belief system is would have been completely foreign to your grandparents. At some point we’re all going to find ourselves becoming the angry, racist grandparent* at the family Christmas who no one wants to talk to… unless we keep an open mind and are open to change.

There are two ways to react when you find yourself getting left behind by society. One: you let it pass you by, complaining bitterly the entire time, annoying everyone around you, and isolating yourself to avoid the changes. Or, two: keep and open mind, be willing to continue to interact with the world and be open to the possibility of change. I have said in the past that I have changed my views on many things quite significantly over the past few years for the better (politically, philosophically, socially, religiously, etc), and hope to continue to be open to such adaptation in the future.

Just remember, when you see something like the current distaste for the Confederate flag occurring, you’re seeing history begin to unfold. All of humanity’s biggest social accomplishments have been met with resistance from the status quo, but through chipping away at little things like this ultimately will make society a better place in the future.

For another current example, just look at the current attitude towards Iran. It’s totally reasonable to be cautious about the current deal with them, but I think that they have ultimately made the right decision. If we don’t establish communication and dependence, then Iran will continue to be seen as our enemy and will have no reason to listen to us. Furthermore, increasing their peoples’ prosperity is a good thing – a contented people are a passive people. It’s easy to pull people into extremism when they are in a seemingly unjust situation and have little to hold them back… but if they suddenly find themselves with something to lose, then they’re going to be far more reserved. It’s going to take a willingness from both sides to change though if this is going to all work out, but we might soon be back to the point where we consider Iran an ally in the Middle East again.

Ultimately, what this refusal to change comes down to is a lack of understanding. People didn’t want to abolish slavery because they didn’t understand that black people were equally human in God’s eyes. People didn’t understand that women had the same mental capacity as men. People don’t understand how awful we have made life for LGBTQ people, that Palestinians are real people and not just some Calvinistic, savage mass spurred on by divine purpose, that racism still is a reality for minorities… but they seem to be coming around to it finally. Keep your beliefs in humility and be willing to at least consider seemingly outlandish views.

*Or, in a modern extrapolation, you will probably be the homophobic, sexist, Islamophobic grandparent embarrassing everyone with your ignorant outbursts.

Quick Fix: Don’t Panic

I can be pretty negative around here at times. Cynicism seems to be the rule of the day in politics (“the nation is losing its founding values!!!”), religion (“Armageddon is coming!”), science (climate change) and media (the obsession with apocalypse scenarios). However, I think it’s worth remembering that, in spite of all the cynicism and worry that people spout, we might be living in the best, safest and most exciting period of human history up until now.

Think about it for just a moment. Your odds of dying a violent death are miniscule, and most of us can be expected to live happy and healthy into our 70s. Infant mortality is exceedingly rare. We understand the concept of cleanliness and have eradicated a number of formerly lethal diseases. Worldwide hunger has dropped (although we still have work to do if we want to eradicate it). We have realized that our actions affect the environment and are working to minimize that impact. The world is truly connected. We’re able to empathize with those unlike us. Minorities are finally getting equal rights. Education is on a sharp incline. We understand the workings of the universe and our place in it far better. When you step back and look at all these things, it makes our cynicism about the world going to hell in a hand basket look rather foolish, doesn’t it?

So what’s with all the negativity these days if things are actually as good as they’ve ever been? I think you can actually liken it to the rise and fall of grunge and nu-metal in the 90s and early 2000s. There’s a pretty compelling theory that these musical genres became popular in the post-Soviet era because they offered an outlet for angst when America and other Western nations were at a point of prosperity and felt practically invincible. However, when 9/11 happened and completely shook our society, suddenly we found ourselves with real problems that made our former angst outlets look childish. While I’m not saying that all negativity is unfounded, I do believe that we have a negativity bias and a deep need to complain, even when our complaints are relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

So what is leading to mass negativity? Why are people claiming that the gay marriage ruling in the States is going to bring about God’s wrath? Why are people afraid of ISIS launching organized terror attacks on the West? I think we can break down the sources of negativity into five categories:

  1. Fear-mongering means that more people will pay attention. Human beings have a natural inclination towards negativity. News media, book sellers, apocalyptic preachers, etc all want the widest, easiest, most sustainable audience, so they’ll shill the negative to keep them hooked for a fear of life or death.
  2. Things are changing at a hither-to-unheard-of rate, and people fear change more than anything, and will cling to it irrationally. Just think of the hell that used to happen whenever Facebook would institute a much-needed change, and all the people who whined about bringing back the “old Facebook”, even though they had had the exact same complaints about that Facebook when it replaced the previous version.
  3. The powerful are afraid of losing their power, and so they’ll do whatever they can to incite the masses in order to hang onto their power for as long as possible.
  4. On a related note, the largest, loudest, most powerful demographic – the Baby Boomer generation – are now getting increasingly older and are at the “the world was so much better back in the day” phase as they are no longer marketed towards, and fall behind the times as things continue to change on a yearly basis (eg, trans-awareness just shot up within less than 5 years).
  5. They maybe, just maybe, have a legitimate complaint every once in a while – it’s possible, and actually changing in some ways is why our society has managed to get to where it is now. Considering how quickly things are changing, sometimes these complaints are a valid part of navigating new developments (eg, questions of privacy in social media), other times not so much (eg, CHEMTRAILS!!!).

So hopefully you can try to remember these truths and keep everything in its proper perspective. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your life and appreciate the profound luck you have in being born in the best time period in human history thus far – and maybe watch the news just a little less.

Back from the Dead

So… obviously it’s been more than a couple weeks. Working 8 to 4 every weekday and only getting weekends off leaves me with surprisingly less time than I was expecting, especially when I have to juggle blogging with novel writing, gaming, painting and social life.

Blogging on a schedule (when it is basically being done for free) was becoming a bit of a chore – especially when I worked on retrospectives. You’re looking at setting aside a few hours a week to write, which obviously cuts into other hobbies significantly (I was basically setting aside my novel in order to update the blog on a weekly basis, while juggling all my other interests). Initially, I started this blog as something I could throw on a resume, in hopes of landing some job in a writing field. However, when I landed a job that wasn’t Tim fething Hortons, the priority suddenly fell off. I’d prefer for blogging to be a fun hobby rather than an obligation. I know I’m making excuses here, but I figure that the record should be set straight on why I went on hiatus for so long.

So what has been going on in the last year? Well, for starters, my the novel is progressing fairly well (over 65k words so far, so probably around half way through the first draft), although my writing speed makes George R.R. Martin look like Sonic the Hedgehog. I got a PS4 and a new computer, which has opened up lots of new opportunities in regards to video and photo editing (not to mention it’s the first time I’ve really been able to take PC gaming seriously). I also started a small Sisters of Battle army which is pretty awesome, I’ll see about posting pictures at some point. Oh and I placed 6th and 2nd in two local Warhammer 40k tournaments, which was great, and actually ended up winning best sportsman at one of them as well! I have also done some paintballing as the season has started, but I will probably get in less this year for a number of reasons. First of all, I’m saving up for a car for my 25th birthday. Secondly, it seems like everyone is getting married, so my time (and money) is already being spoken for this summer in regards to that.

As for the blog though… I probably won’t be posting all that often still… sorry to get anyone’s hopes up. I’ve been super-tempted to make a post for the past few months, but never actually got around to doing so. I imagine I will continue to make infrequent updates, but I can’t see myself doing weekly posts like I used to. We’ll see if that means that the retrospectives series’ are totally dead in the water now, but I’d at least like to finish the Shreks someday. In any case though, I’d like to post on occasion when I have something on my mind and then see where we go from there. In any case, I’ve got a couple topics I’d like to discuss in the future so hopefully that gets us started again. 🙂

Quick Fix: Paintball Videos!

As I implied in last week’s blog post, I definitely was quite busy so that next retrospective series is going to begin on the 22nd. However, in the meantime, you can enjoy some PRZ Fight for Asylum 3 footage and a recap!

Yes, this actually happened.

Myself and 3 other Stormrunners attended the event in Picton, Ontario. It was absolutely perfect paintballing weather – very little wind, sunny weather, not humid, not too wet and not too hot either. We played on Josh Samure’s team, which featured some pretty major teams such as Citrus Connection and the Devil Dogs (humourously, the Stormrunners got a shout out as a fellow TechPB team, even though we aren’t… but hey, I’m not going to complain about the complement). There were about 650 people playing which made for a very exciting event.

…although this guy was easily the coolest of them all.

My only complaint on the day was that the other team got absolutely smoked. They had a poor initial spawn point and were too disorganized at the beginning – they didn’t even leave their spawn point for about a minute after the break and none of their forces were sent to their alternative spawn points (a major issue because it would have delayed our reinforcements as we mopped up their troops, allowing their forces to take up better positions). The organizers did their best to even it up a bit, including a reinsertion and a ton of “air strikes” to clear our forces out, but it was definitely a one-sided day.

On the plus side, the Stormrunners did fantastic. The Stormrunners had a confirmed 116 kills and only 17 deaths, which is just a mind-bogglingly high number. Most of those kills were between two of our members, but I myself got 12 kills and only 1 death – not too shabby if I do say so myself. Images and videos are still trickling in, so if you’re interested then keep an eye on The Stormrunners’ Facebook page and our Youtube playlist. If you want to play with us at some point, we are going to be attending Commando Paintball’s D-Day Big Game on June 14th – if you are, leave a comment and feel free to say hi. Maybe you’ll get to be in our next video!

Quick Fix: Paintball News and Retrospectives

Hey good readers, I’ve got an exciting week ahead of me! On the 12th, I’m going to be kicking off the paintball season by attending PRZ’s Fight for the Asylum once again. It’s a world-class paintball field and I’m extremely excited to get out and capture plenty of footage of the action. I expect that by my next blog post, there will be lots of new footage of the event on my Youtube channel, so be sure to check it out by then. I’ve been stoked for this event for the last few weeks, upgrading and testing out my marker loadout in preparation – seriously, every time I pre-register for a paintball event, it’s like a mini Christmas to me (with the carols being pump-up rock and metal).

Commando Paintball’s D-Day event has also been recently announced as being on June 14th. The Stormrunners have attended D-Day since 2011, so this will make it our 4th attendance at the event. Most of the guys are still in school and so will be missing out on Fight for the Asylum, but by June 14th they should be all good to attend – D-Day tends to be one of our best events in regards to turnouts, so I’m excited to hang out with the team and kick some ass. It also tends to be my most popular event in terms of video views, with one of last year’s videos just shy of 10,000 views on Youtube (and still growing). You can be sure I’ll be attending D-Day this year and getting even more quality footage for everyone to enjoy.

Also, I’m considering upgrading my helmet cam from the Contour HD to a Contour+2. I’ve got a few reasons for this, so I just want to put them out there. First of all, my Contour HD is in rough shape – a lot of the vital bits which keep the camera’s battery in the unit are broken. It’s still in working order, but there’s only a couple pieces actually keeping it all together, so I’m expecting this to be my last season with the camera anyway (for the record, I bought it used for a half decent price and have been very happy with the camera in all my time with it). Also, my Youtube channel is overwhelmingly paintball-related, so I think I should focus my efforts on improving that part of the channel and making it the best it can be. At present, I can only shoot in 720p (well, I technically can shoot in 1080p, but the field of view is too restricted for my liking). This was fine on my laptop, but now that I have a new computer, I can edit 1080p and 60fps footage with ease. Luckily, the Contour+2 has a much wider FOV for 1080p footage, and I think the video quality is simply better anyway, making it a very attractive option for me. The bells and whistles are also just plain cool: smart phone integration, GPS tracking, plug-in microphones, etc. Anyway, there’s no way in hell I’ll have one by Fight for the Asylum, but I hope to have saved up enough to make the purchase by D-Day – fingers crossed!

In other news, I’m going to start the next Retrospective series within the next couple weeks. I might be too busy this week to get it done, but if so then it will be posted by the 22nd at the latest. In trying to keep things fresh, it’s a very different sort of franchise compared to all the (generally horrible) action/horror/thriller series I’ve covered thus far. I’m sure you’ll like it (and have probably seen at least two of the films in the franchise as well)!

Quick Fix: International Women’s Day Fails

I’ve been labouring for quite a while on what to write this particular blog post on. I had pretty much no inspiration, aside from lots of little developments which could make for a half-decent (if scatter-shot) quick fix. However, Saturday just dropped a topic into my lap like a hilarious gift from the heavens. In case you didn’t see the Google doodle, it was International Women’s Day, and the fails were (expectedly) abundant on my Facebook feed.

Anyway, first off was Blood Bowl‘s post. As a bit of background, Blood Bowl‘s a bit of an odd tabletop football spinoff of Warhammer Fantasy. It has also had a couple PC games, a new one which is coming out sometime soon. I’m actually looking forward to the game, but my enthusiasm was tempered a little bit when they posted this picture as a celebration of International Women’s Day:

“Today is March 8th! Be wary when on the Blood Bowl pitch, as the Amazons are fiercer than ever on this precise day! Happy Women’s Day!” – Actual caption

That… uh… wow. Predictably, pretty much every comment on the photo was very angry at the insensitive nature of the post – after all, the picture represents an objectified male fantasy of a woman. On any other day I doubt anyone would have batted an eye at it, but trying to tie this into a celebration of women and women’s liberation was just stupid… that said, I’m still gonna buy the game probably. When I reposted it though, the first commenter said something particularly dumb: “Honestly, it’s lest sexist than another ‘get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich’ joke”… well no shit, but that doesn’t mean it gets a free pass either.

However, the Blood Bowl team has supreme tact compared to the official Morph Suits’ photo celebrating Women’s Day:

Literally, they posted this photo with the caption “Happy International Women’s Day”. This one doesn’t even bother to hide the fact that it’s sexist… in fact, I find it hard to believe that is isn’t an intentional middle finger to the concept since it’s brazenly putting the girl’s breasts on front-and-center. Would you have even noticed there was a morph suit in the picture? Probably not (although maybe that says more about the male brain than anything). Anyway, on behalf of men who aren’t total douchebags, I apologize for how stupid many of us were on March 8th… sorry!