Thursday, June 27, 2013

More scouting


I was recently clued in to a really cool organization called Charity Watch.   Kinda cool to get an independent review of all the "charitable" organizations out there, and what their grade is.  I was especially pleased to see that the Boy Scouts of America are among the highest rated of them all.  That's just straight up cool.

As a youngin I had a good number of scout leaders over the years, some good, some bad, some kinda indifferent.  But throughout all that time, I have to admit that the Boy Scouts was a profoundly educational experience, even through the bad times.  I would venture to say that other than basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, Boy Scouts has taught me far more practical everyday life lessons than school really did.

Cub Scouts can be a massive waste of time, depending on what kind of leaders you have, but the Boy Scouts invariably teaches some worthwhile stuff.  I learned how to shoot , basic survival skills, first aid, orienteering, being demonstrated good leadership, the effect of terrible leadership, navigating/sidestepping bureaucratic red tape, the importance of honor and honesty, self-determination, personal responsibility, and even chivalry.  All of these things being immensely useful to boy like myself who had far too many problems with all those things.
Ripped straight from the first official Scout Handbook, circa 1911.  Yeah, that's the original caption for the pic. 
Ultimately, I left the Boy Scouts before achieving any rank of significance, but it's mark is still felt.  All in all, I'm still a fan of 'em, but that isn't to say there aren't ways they can improve.
Like bringing back that red beret.  Those were straight up hard. core. awesome.  I was the only kid I knew who had one.  Despite no longer being made, they are still officially authorized uniform head wear (not to mention the coolest).
I'm reminded of the line in Red Dawn (not the crappy new one!) in which Col. Bella is questioning the mayor about his son, and describes him as being "Part of an elite paramilitary organization: Eagle Scout."  This line always incites a laugh from the audience, and I sometimes think on why that is.  Certainly honor and respect is due to all those who truly earned their Eagle, and didn't the boy scouts kinda draw a lot of inspiration from the military scouts when they started, hence being organized in patrols and troops?  Here's an excerpt from the first official scout handbook illustrating my point:

Aim of the Scout Movement
By John L. Alexander, Boy Scouts of America
The aim of the Boy Scouts is to supplement the various existing educational agencies, and to promote the ability in boys to do things for themselves and others. It is not the aim to set up a new organization to parallel in its purposes others already established. The opportunity is afforded these organizations, however, to introduce into their programs unique features appealing to interests which are universal among boys. The method is summed up in the term Scoutcraft, and is a combination of observation, deduction, and handiness, or the ability to do things. Scoutcraft includes instruction in First Aid, Life Saving, Tracking, Signaling, Cycling, Nature Study, Seamanship, Campcraft, Woodcraft, Chivalry, Patriotism, and other subjects. This is accomplished in games and team play, and is pleasure, not work, for the boy. All that is needed is the out-of-doors, a group of boys, and a competent leader.

What Scouting Means
In all ages there have been scouts, the place of the scout being on the danger line of the army or at the outposts, protecting those of his company who confide in his care.
The army scout was the soldier who was chosen out of all the army to go out on the skirmish line.
The pioneer, who was out on the edge of the wilderness, guarding the men, women, and children in the stockade, was also a scout. Should he fall asleep, or lose control of his faculties, or fail on his watch, then the lives of the men, women, and children paid the forfeit, and the scout lost his honor.
But there have been other kinds of scouts besides war scouts and frontier scouts. They have been the men of all ages, who have gone out on new and strange adventures, and through their work have benefited the people of the earth. Thus, Columbus discovered America, the Pilgrim Fathers founded New England, the early English settlers colonized Jamestown, and the Dutch built up New York. In the same way the hardy Scotch-Irish pushed west and made a new home for the American people beyond the Alleghanies and the Rockies.
These peace scouts had to be as well prepared as any war scouts. They had to know scoutcraft. They had to know how to live in the woods, and be able to find their way anywhere, without other chart or compass than the sun and stars, besides being able to interpret the meaning of the slightest signs of the forest and the foot tracks of animals and men.
They had to know how to live so as to keep healthy and strong, to face any danger that came their way, and to help one another. These scouts of old were accustomed to take chances with death and they did not hesitate to give up their lives in helping their comrades or country. In fact, they left everything behind them, comfort and peace, in order to push forward into the wilderness beyond. And much of this they did because they felt it to be their duty.
These little-known scouts could be multiplied indefinitely by going back into the past ages and reading the histories and stories of the knights of King Arthur, of the Crusaders, and of the great explorers and navigators of the world.
Wherever there have been heroes, there have been scouts, and to be a scout means to be prepared to do the right thing at the right moment, no matter what the consequences may be.

So other than the emphasis on fun, the lack of a bumbling bureaucracy, and no hard-as-nails regs or NJPs, it kinda follows the same tenants as what the average military scout sniper is taught.  Heck, I wish my scout manual had instructions on stalking prey, hand signals, drawing range cards, and freaking blacksmithing.

New logo to the left, good logo on the right
Oh, and they desperately need to drop that bull-crap, pansy-looking new postal worker logo, and totally rock it old school.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

on fame

When we were kids, we all aspired to do things that were great.  You go around to any elementary school and ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and I'm sure you'll still get all the stereotypical answers like: firefighter, police officer, actor, singer, etc, etc.  basically, they follow one or more of three basic desires: money, fame and glory.

Now I'm no stranger to daydreams, and I'll on occasion think of what it would be like to be more well off or reputable, greatness (of a sort) and money are fine things to aspire for.  However, I never understood (even as a child) was the desire for fame.  Fast forward to today, and as an adult, I'll still hear people lament their lives and wish to be the new Zuckerburg, Gates, or Jobs.  If I remotely respect that person, I have to remind them that I hold such respect for them, and that the respect of others is far more desirable to me than money, power, or even being liked.

Anyways, I came across a nice quote from Orde Wingate and I decided to change my status to it: "Popularity is a sign of weakness."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AR 15 Barrel profiles

The roomie was in the market for a heavy barrel for his 5.45x39mm  AR, and the pickins are kinda slim outside of custom jobs.  He sent me a link to a "heavy" Spikes Tactical AR barrel, that (to me) seemed overpriced, along with being no different than the standard government style barrel, just lacking the notch for an M203.  The fact that they tried to call this a heavy barrel, makes me think the site/company is either ignorant or just dishonest.

To illustrate this point to my roomie, I decided to do some research on the topic and found the following comparison on the AR-15.com forums:
Image blatantly ripped from the AR-15.com forums
So, I sent the roomie to a link to a review of a heavy barrel chambered in 5.45 that looked far more promising and despite looking like it's a made to order custom job, it was actually cheaper than the Spikes Tactical barrel.  How 'bout that?  The Google-fu is strong with this one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

More missed music

Because I was so out of it over the weekend, I forgot again.

weekend update

My apologies to all those on the internet who take the time to stop by.  Last week was quite busy in general, and the only times I had to myself, was when I was sleeping.

I talked to one of my cousins back on Friday.  That silver-tongued devil is getting married within a few days, and he was milling around with nothing to do while his fiancee was having a bachelorette party.  If I had any money at all, I would have hopped on a plane over there asap, then spent a boat load of money ammo so we could celebrate a real bachelor party for him by blowing some stuff up.

Also had a chance to visit a couple of friends I hadn't seen in a while, and we went to the Chinese restaurant from hell for dinner. after cruising around the town for a bit and checking out the city's new Borg Cube - whoops, I mean Courthouse.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

That darn Deer valley Music Festival...


The only problem I have with this thing is the timing.  It seems whenever it comes around there's all sorts of things I'm obligated to to that would make me miss a lot of it.  This makes me particularly frustrated when I hear that Arturo Sandoval is coming to town, and that I could get tickets for half off to go see him live in concert.  I reeeeeeaaaaly want to go, but I'm not sure if my schedule during that time will allow for it.  Curses.

However, this year's lineup for the rest of the festival doesn't seem overly impressive to me, as the only other event I'm truly interested in seeing is the Opera in the Open Air, Mozart's Prague Symphony and possibly the Muir String Quartet.  So, all in all, I'm not feeling like I'm missing out on a slew of cool performances, but the few I do wanna see all seem to land on dates that make me think they are trying to make me miss 'em.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

programmers are funny

Was just discussing with my little brother last night about video games and guns.  What's so funny to us, is that so many programmers, regardless of the type of game they are making, always seem to desire more than a few elements of realism.

How do they achieve this realism?  Do they use firearms/military consultants, take the devs on trips to the firing range, look up stats in firearm manuals, or review ballistics figures?  Nope!  They just watch some youtube videos of people shooting and call it good.
If this was the same, I should be a crack shot with my Jericho because I watch so much Cowboy Bebop
There is a running trend with videogames, in which devs advertise pretty, life-like visuals, and nice animations as "realism" instead of saying the truth, which is that it just looks real.  What's worse, is that the public at large, seems to have believed them, and taken this at face value is as well.  It's starting to get a bit ridiculous when I have to explain to someone that Call of Booty 16: Modern Whore-fare 5: That Time I Called Some Chick in Iraq, is not a pinnacle of realism, anymore so than a cosplayer wearing an Iron Man costume can claim he has a real exoskeletal suit and can fly.

For some reason, in every videogame, the pistol ends up being the most accurate death machine in the game, the light machine guns are woefully inaccurate and do very little damage, rifles are worthless beyond medium range, yet the sniper rifle that shoots the same round is a verifiable carnage contraption at medium and long ranges, but is worthless at close ranges..

Very, very few games have attempted realistic gunplay, and even fewer have achieved getting somewhere close to it.  Granted, it IS videogames; even the most realistic game is still a game.  For example, you can't compare even the best of flight sims to actual flying.  No actual pilot can count simulator time as actual flying time.

But, this is not my point.  My point is that there are games that actually try to be realistic and then there are games that only try to look realistic.  Saying Call of Duty is a tactical shooter is like calling Ace Combat a flight sim.  No, no it's not.

The news is depressing

I used to be an avid reader, listener and watcher of the news.  Not so much during these past couple administrations.  I end up getting really tired of some new story about how the government is: missing funds, lacking oversight, making tax hikes, giving bailouts, violating individual rights, disregarding the constitution, arming terrorists and cartels, spying on civilians, reducing the military to a token force, etc, etc...

When has our government decided to become like the very one we fought a bloody revolution to free ourselves from?  Why can't they at least have the decency to dress their employees in redcoats to make them  easier to spot?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

almost forgot again

More musical moments of much awesomeness.



Enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Unwind

For those of us who don't drink, it takes things that are a bit more juvenile/dumb for us unwind after a long day.  So, today I'll be headed to Boondocks with the rest of the IT gang to celebrate our friend's son's birthday.  Pics to follow.

Huh, guess not.  I hate it when my phone dies on me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Going native

I wouldn't characterize Thursdays as slow days, but they do have a lighter pace than the other days in the week allowing for more long term and back-burner projects to be completed.  Not so today, as it appears that as the day wore on, it just got busier and busier.  So with a lack of any content from today, here's some fun pics from the other week, when the family came up:

Couple of tramps walking the rails
Drooling over the products from one of our favorite Mormons at the Browning firearm museum
Me explaining to my bro how Yeager lost half his face.
yeah, I'm in heaven here.
They should rename this joint Thio-cool.
classy.  real classy.
Can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In this maelstrom of decay

Oh man.  Found another game that will end up destroying my social life if it's any good at all.



Awesome.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

San Diego still dominates market share

So the big news locally is that Salt Lake City will be hosting another comic con in September.  As cool as that idea is, I have this thing in the back of my mind that causes me to have no desire to go at all.  Why, you ask?  Because I had the misfortune of stopping in on one a few years back, and I was none too impressed.  I think the only reason everyone is getting riled up this year, is because they announced that Johnathan Frakes is coming, it really marks the first time they've managed to get anyone who's more than a nobody to come to it.  I'll admit I like the guy, but not enough to pay real money to attend this failing shindig.

Yep.  That's the Riker we all know and love.
Now let's fast forward to today, and see how they've improved the venue: hmmmm let's see here, it's not done by the same people that do ANY other good comic con, and for the most part, there are no interesting guests, no cool vendors, and no real activities other than a massive LAN full of fat, sweaty otakus not unlike myself.
Our comic con could certainly use a lot more cunning head wear...
That, and I have a real issue with the cosplayers that show up here.  They all seem to be the variety that all dress up as some disturbing lolita anime character that no one with good sense (or taste) would be a fan of, and the personalities of these gymboids are all about as creepy and cardboard as their characters and costumes.   That, and for me, the whole joy of comic cons are for the show panels, show announcements, etc, which they have never had, so there's just no point for me.
It's totally the beard...and maybe the pleats.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I want my Nightmares back!

Today is the day that marks VMA-513's last mission.  The Flying Nightmares are being disbanded, making it another sad day for Marine Air, citizens of Yuma, and Harrier fans.


This reminded me of one of my first real haunts on the internet, the first real blog-type place I really went to on a regular basis.  Col. David Gurney USMC (Ret.), callsign "cow", had his own little place called the Cow's Pasture, which I used to read regularly while he was Commanding Officer of the Flying Nightmares.  I haven't been on there in a while, so I had to give it a visit and get the word out on it again.  The place still has a lot of cool pictures and nice insight into the workings of the squadron, and I highly recommend taking a look around if you have any interest in Marine aviation, Harriers, or just military in general.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

No school like the old school

A verifiable classic:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Where I lose more friends and alienate people

What is respect? ...and when is it not?

I love stopping by Erin's blog regularly, as she is an intelligent, headstrong, and interesting person, who seems to produce entertaining, informative, and/or thought provoking posts on a regular basis (so already she's a much better blogger than I).  She recently posted about about a decorated Navy SEAL, Kristen Beck, who recently underwent a gender change operation and also a name change to reflect that change (he was formerly Christopher Beck). The primary point in her article, is that people who refuse to call him by his new name or treat him with contempt are inconsiderate, insensitive, rude jerks.  It should be painfully obvious to anyone that she is 110% right on that front.

I am also a firm believer in being respectful towards other people regardless of race, gender, background, nationality, etc.   However, (and here's where my horrible opinionated self comes out) she also made a point about respecting his "new gender" by referencing him with female nomenclature (such as she, her, Ms., etc.), which is where I take issue.   My definition of respect doesn't involve extending it to a point beyond respecting fact and beyond respecting those who are actually of the other gender.  I may not be the best at any of these, but I am a big fan of science, reason, fact and above all else, honesty.

I am of the persuasion that respect for someone else includes not fooling them.  To help them, and not only treat them with kindness, but also to let them know the truth; even when it may be hard or difficult to accept.  For example, say you had a friend who always wanted to be a rocket scientist.  One day they announce to you that they suddenly have achieved their dream.  Excited for them, you ask to see their degree or where they're working.  They get defensive an say, "Hey, I have the glasses, the lab coat and the security badge!  Why are you being so rude?"   Soon, they show you their credentials, only for you to see that they are obvious fakes.  How would you then handle the situation?  To me, it would be disrespectful or inconsiderate to not bring this point up to them.

I am of the same opinion as South Park on the subject:  he doesn't have ovaries, he has no uterus, nor can he be pregnant, and he doesn't simply have inactive or defective organs of those mentioned.   I am willing to respect his legal change in name, his service, and the fact that it is his life to make his choices to look however he pleases, but he is still a man.  No amount of surgery or estrogen shots will ever be able to change the fact that he is not, will not, nor will ever be a woman.  It is a biological and scientific fact that he simply looks like a woman after mutilating his male body.  To defy fact and insist he actually is one, when you step back and look at that psychological behavior, any competent professional will tell you that that is the sign of delusional mind, or at least one in deep denial.  I'm not trying to be hateful here, it's just fact.

Anyone who disrespects Kristen Beck by disregarding/dismissing his sacrifice for this country, treating him with contempt, or refusing to call him by his legal name are truly inconsiderate, rude jerks.  I'll be happy to agree with that, but I will never in my right mind defy scientific and biological fact just to address him as a woman nor describe him as such just to coddle someone's feelings under the false guise of being "considerate."  Is it rude?  Perhaps.  But if that is the case, I'd rather be rude than untruthful or irrational.

And before I end my statements, of course my being a Christian has a part in my opinion about his choices, however it is also the same part of me that agrees that no one should treat him with disrespect.  I am also a firm believer that you can love and respect someone without supporting choices that you believe to be wrong.

For example, I have a gay friend, who a while back asked if I would go with him to a rally to support gay marriage.  I said no.  He was immediately upset and asked why I wouldn't support him.  I told him that I believe it to be wrong and that it would be hypocritical for me to support something that I am opposed to.  He was still upset and asked why I would feel that way, when I knew him that well, and knew that he wasn't a bad person.  I asked him, have I been unkind to you?  Have I not gone to events with him, made jokes with him, treated him with kindness, offered him help when in need, bought him meals, and visa-versa?  I further explained to him that I don't judge him or dislike him, but that my belief will not change, because I feel it to be right, just in the same way that I don't approve of my other friends and family's drinking or smoking habits.  I don't shame them, I don't treat them with contempt, I don't judge them, but I don't have to like it either.  I just go on loving them.

So take what you will from my rant here, but know that I don't say it with any hate, malice, or contempt, but with a heart and mind towards honesty and truly respecting others.  Hopefully that will make sense to some.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge

but what happens when the man in question has little to no knowledge?

I will freely admit that The Twilight Zone is at times not overly original, nor is it the highest budget, and more than a bit predictable, considering so many things today pay homage to it.  However, I will always object when someone has such a shallow and closed mind to not watch it for reason such as: "Well, it's an old show"  or "It's black and white" or "I don't have time because there's so many better things out there now."

I'm afraid I lack the fortitude to prevent myself from losing a massive amount of respect for those people.

In unrelated news, things have been busy here in my little hole in the wall.  I've busy up to my neck with a random assortment of things, and have had very little time to do anything for myself other than breathe -oh wait.  I take that back.  I have nearly finished reading MHI, which is massively entertaining, and i did get to spend a bit of time with a couple of friends who are moving to Indiana.  Best of wishes, Ben and Sarah!

I'll be sure to make up for my lack of posting in the coming week.

Monday, June 3, 2013

What a relief to be back

to the everyday grind.  I missed going to work.  But I may not be saying that for long, as I have a massive backlog to deal with now.  Hopefully that won't cause any abnormal issues.  Heck, I'm just surprised that so many people noticed that I was gone in the first place.

Anyways, I'll be sure to post some more pictures of the family outings from this past week as opportunity allows.

In more geeky hermit news, only a few more days until Planetary Annihilation will be playable on steam!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cause when you're going by train,

you listen to Crazy Ani.