Book Review: Derelict: Marines Saga by Paul Cooley

I think I came across and bought Derelict: Marines from a BookBub newsletter. The story sounded interesting, so I bought it. And it was so good, I bought the second book, Derelict: Tomb. Now I’m stuck and left hanging until the 3rd book comes out later this year.

This series is military science fiction. The premise of the series is that a ship sent on a mission about 50 years go that lost contact suddenly shows up near Pluto mysteriously. This has sort of an “Event Horizon” vibe. A group of search and rescue Marines stationed near Neptune is dispatched to check it out. Their orders are to board the ship, recover any logs they can, and tow it back.

But the AIs they’re dealing with start giving them conflicting information. Their ship’s AI starts acting strange. While they were ordered to tow the ship back, the AIs suggest destroying it.

Then they find some strange objects on the ship that look like pinecones, as well as some liquid that kills a Marine who steps in it. While mounting thrusters to stabilize the ship’s spin, a fireteam’s skiff is disabled, forcing them to take refuge inside the ship. Low on air and with an injured Marine in serious need of medical care, they are forced to find a way to survive and defend against the strange objects, which turn out to be some form of extra-solar life, which certainly isn’t looking to share their wisdom and technology with residents of the Sol system.

These are fast paced, action packed books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And damn it, I have to wait until at least October before the 3rd book comes out.

While it’s really hard to capture life in space without taking some artistic license (the author uses “grav plating” for artificial gravity), the military aspects are fairly realistic. I assumed when I started reading the books that the author had been a Marine, but nothing in his bio indicates military service. Still, he did a decent job.

One hint as to how well an author renders Marines is how their rank is described. While it’s perfectly acceptable to call ANY NCO in the Army or Chair Force a “sergeant”, that doesn’t fly in the Marines. Their mentality is that you earned it, and you deserve to be addressed by it. There is only one sergeant in the Marines, which is E-5. Once you make E-6, you are a Staff Sergeant, and can expect to be addressed by it. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7s) are often addressed as “Gunny”, which is acceptable. But NOBODY calls a Gunny a sergeant. That doesn’t fly.

I’m not even sure if it’s acceptable to call a Private First Class a Private.

Mentoring

A friend of mine recently told me I should consider mentoring younger men. I’m almost in my mid-40’s and have made plenty of screw-ups and learned lessons from them.

Mentoring can be tricky though. I firmly believe in mentoring, and I have done it a few times. It doesn’t always work. I had to cut one guy off completely. I was trying to mentor a former teen from a church I used to go to, because he was going into IT, which is one of my fields. But then, he’d ask me for advice, then argue with me. I guess he wanted me to tell him what he wanted to hear, and I don’t roll that way. I finally blocked him since it was unproductive for both of us. It took me several years to reach that point.

A mentor is not there to help you bullshit yourself. A mentor is there to somewhat guide you and offer advice and lessons from his own experience.

A mentor is not there to do the work for you. It’s better if you do the lifting yourself. The mentor acts as a spotter in this metaphor. So when somebody asks me for advice, and I know just the book he should read, and he doesn’t read it, I don’t think he’s serious. I will, on occasion, distill what I consider the finer points of the book, but for the most part, a book is something you need to read yourself. Hopefully, a mentor can save you from wasting time on unproductive books.

A mentor can offer perspective. A younger man will hit a life-altering event and think it is the end of the world. Even something like being fired, or a divorce, or even an illness. A mentor has typically been through it and can tell you “It’s not that big of a deal. You will survive it. There is life on the other side. Sometimes better life.” My firing and my divorce, in perspective, were actually good things for my life. They both got me out of a really bad situation that I wouldn’t have left due to a misplaced sense of loyalty, duty, or honor. I should have quit that fucking job and divorced that woman long before I got ejected against my will. Sometimes a mentor has the perspective to see that the best way to deal with your situation is to leave it.

I firmly believe in mentoring, and make myself available when it’s beneficial for both of us. My friend thinks I should write more on this blog about advice for younger guys. Of course, it’s a crowded field, and it’s hard to stand out. Other men are doing a great job at it, like Aaron Cleary. He even runs his own consulting company “Asshole Consulting”. He was getting so many emails, he figured he would start charging for his services. And many young men are so thirsty for wisdom, they don’t mind. I think he charges $100 an hour, but most questions can be answered in under 20 minutes. I guess if I ever reach the point where people are willing to pay me $50 for a 30 minute YouTube video answering a question, I’ll do it too.

We’ll see what happens. I’ve never been able to write consistently (I have a day job and a family), but I may have some things to offer of value. I can point you to some resources I follow that explain how the world really works. A tenet of my philosophy is that you can whine and cry about how the world isn’t what you want it to be, or you can figure out how it works and interact with and manipulate it as it is.

I know a lot of men in the younger generation are “religious” ( I hate that word as it is often misapplied), but the current version of what we call “cucktianity” does not help them at all. And some of us older guys (like Cleary) are not. I am a Christian. But I don’t follow the standard theology of “cucktianity”. I consider myself to hold orthodox Christian beliefs. I do not believe Jesus was the pussified version we have been presented with by any means. He was a carpenter and not the sanding chairs type we think of. He was the type that would cut down trees and build a house. He would probably drive an F-250 diesel if he lived today. Or a Ram. (Not a Chevy). Some say the word can be translated as a stonemason. In any case, this type of work requires a really strong and tough man. The kind of many who would build his own whip and drive the moneychangers out of the temple, beating their asses the entire time because they pissed him off. And I firmly believe that in the true service of God, some people really do need their asses beaten. Just like Jesus did. Goldman Sachs, anyone?

So, I’ll see what I can do to help you guys starting out in the world from wasting your time believing lies about how the world works, how men and women are, and so on. I’m not really the guy to teach you how to get laid every night, but I went from a divorce from a bad marriage into meeting a much better woman and a happy marriage in a short period of time, so I’ve got some game. (Actually, I wonder if learning game is what hastened my divorce, as my ex-wife lost her ability to control me during that time period…)

The New Scientific Method

I wrote a post yesterday on the most off-the-wall Climate Terror prediction ever.

A while back, I codified what I call the “New Scientific Method.” It is as follows:

  1. Has a feelz.
  2. Tweet.
  3. Consensus!
  4. The Science is settled!

That’s pretty much how it works now. And that is not going to get us to Mars. It’s not going to get us Space Marines. It will get us the dystopia you find in the short stories in Forbidden Thoughts.

President Trump To Raise Earth Temperature by 250 Degrees?

Apparently, Stephen Hawking (kookspiracy¬†theorist) thinks Donald Trump’s Presidency will raise the Earth’s temperature by 250 degrees and cause acid rain.

When I first saw that, I thought “Trump isn’t just a God Emperor! He’s a FIRE GOD!”

Seriously, Hawking is a “Theoretical Physicist”. He deals in math, but his assumptions CANNOT be proven under the Scientific Method we learned in about the 4th grade.

Remember what the Scientific Method was?

  1. Ask a question.
  2. Form a hypothesis.
  3. Design a test.
  4. Analysis
  5. The answer, or repeat?

Maddox has a decent video about the Scientific Method. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, but it’s a good start:

But seriously, let’s say you do not “like” Donald Trump. OK, I’ll give you that. How do you get from not liking an individual to believing he’ll somehow raise the Earth’s temperature by 250 degrees?

I’m still waiting…

Oh, wait, he’s a FIRE GOD!

You still can’t test it.

Global Cooling/Warming/Climate Change/Climate Terror is still bullshit until somebody conducts an actual Scientific experiment with falsifiable results.

In 6th grade (1985-1986), my “science” textbook said we should be all out of coal, oil, and everything else by now. Nope. It’s the middle of summer, and gas is still about $2.06 a gallon here in Virginia (compared to over $4.00 a gallon when The Obammesiah was President). And they’ve found fuckloads of reserves since the 1980’s.

Where are all these islands and atolls that were supposed to be submerged by now, thanks to “Global Cooling/Warming/Climate Change/Climate Terror?”

Wasn’t the Statue of Liberty supposed to be underwater by now?

Global Cooling/Warming/Climate Change/Climate Terror is the WORST predictive system known to man. It is NOT science; it is religion. And Stephen Hawking is a kookspiracy theorist.

How In The Hell Is Sling TV “Al La Carte?”

With Scumcast now gone, I started looking at Sling TV for my wife. I was in the process of signing up for a 7 day trial, when I realized something.

This is in no way, shape, or form “al la carte.” In order to get my wife Food Network, I have to pay $20 a month for several ESPN, Disney (Yes, I know Disney owns ESPN), and Fake News Networks that I’ll never watch.

Forget it. This isn’t “al la carte.” This is the same bundling bullshit Scumcast does, but in a lower price range.

Sling, when I can get Food Network, Spike, and whatever channel airs “Air Crash Investigations” (because I can’t find new ones on YouTube anymore), I’ll sign up. I’m not paying you for the same networks I paid Scumcast for that I’ll never watch.

I signed out and closed the browser tab before I got to input my credit card. I’m not doing it.

Comcast Is Gone

Having options is wonderful.

My wife and I bought this house 2 years ago. We were on an agreement with Comcast. They apparently renewed the agreement when we had our service moved to the house, and it finally expired. And of course, the payment shot up over $30. I assume we were supposed to call them screaming about it, and be talked into a new agreement with some upsells.

They royally pissed us off more than 18 months ago. We had a few shows we DVR’ed, and suddenly, they weren’t on the DVR anymore. Turns out, they took those channels and put them in a higher priced package. Oh, we could get them back if we wanted to pay more. I said “Hell, no!”

For the first time in my life, we have an alternative. My neighborhood has FIOS. So with the agreement run out, we got FIOS Internet installed. That happened today. Then, my wife called Comcast to cancel. She was too nice to them. But then again, yelling at some customer service rep who probably works in a call center that Comcast contracts is not the best approach.

I’m probably going to have to get my wife Sling so she can watch Food Network. I saw that Hulu now has “live TV”, but I’m not going from $12 to $44 a month just to get Food Network.

I never watch “live TV.” Haven’t in years. Anything important that happens will be on YouTube. Tucker Carlson clips are my favorites. His “you are so full of shit” face is classic.

Normally, when you post something negative about or a complaint about Comcast on blogs or social media, somebody from “Comcast Cares” will contact you. I don’t know why the entire company isn’t “Comcast Cares.” But if Comcast really cared, they’d find a way to deliver what 21st century customers want without having to keep adding on extra packages. “Oh, yes, I know we only have the last 5 episodes available On Demand. But if you pay us more, you can unlock more of them!” Screw you. I’ve been paying for a package full of channels I wouldn’t accept money to watch (Oprah, Disney, ESPN, multiple ESPN channels, CNN, PMSNBC, etc.) but I have to pay extra to get Spike or NatGeo. Forget it.

It’s nice to have competitors.

Another Perspective on the “Retail Apocalypse”

Michael Snyder of “The Economic Collapse Blog” has written extensively on the “Retail Apocalypse“. Many well known and well established retail outlets are going bankrupt at a record rate. Some may no longer exist in a short time frame.

But is this entirely a bad thing?

This won’t be an extensive economic analysis. This is mostly anecdotal from a consumer.

We all have to buy things to maintain our lives. Some things are necessary. Most things are not. And we’ve transitioned to a hybrid model of online/in-store.

Some things are easier to buy on-line. I have a generic Keurig coffee pot. (Mr. Coffee, actually). I need K-cups for it, because I won’t live without my coffee. I can get 100 K-cups on Amazon for about $35, and they show up on my doorstep almost magically within about 24 hours. That’s a better price than I can get in local stores, and I don’t have to stand in line or go anywhere. I’m not changing this pattern anytime soon.

I used to LOVE bookstores. But I’ve reached a point where my bookshelf space is very limited, so I buy my books in Kindle, epub, or pdf. I only buy physical books if I absolutely have to have the book and there are no other options. But even so, for rare books, Amazon usually has better deals, and even for those few F’ing publishers who haven’t left the last century, Amazon still has better prices, making Barnes and Nobel not an option. Why would I deal with local traffic to drive to B&N to pay MORE for a book than Amazon? They don’t mean that much to me. I miss Borders, but I had the same problem wth them.

“Anchor” stores (Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy’s, etc) – who cares? Their prices are way off the charts for my budget. I have pretty much never shopped at them. I haven’t quite adapted to buying clothes online (last time I bought a dress shirt from Amazon, I washed it once and it permanently wrinkled), but I’m not paying $50 for a shirt. Plus, you still have to try them on. I usually go to Kohl’s when I need work clothes.

Target – I used to like to shop at Target. But after their 2013 credit card breach that was totally preventable (They had FireEye, and got the warnings, but ignored them to their own peril) and their tranny policy, I’m done with Target. I bought a Microsoft Band from them in 2014. That was my LAST purchase from Target ever. I won’t allow my wife to shop there either. When they finally go out of business, I’ll drink to that. (Business) death to Target! And I got so freaking sick of every time I walked up to the register, being asked if I wanted to apply for a Target credit card. The last time I shopped there, I replied: “No thanks, I don’t want my information stolen.”

Wal-mart – good if I need something in an emergency at 4 in the morning, like the last time my smoke detector batteries died in the middle of the night and I was out of batteries. And I’ve bought my last couple TVs there. They have good prices. But I don’t go out of my way to shop at Wal-mart. Only when it’s an emergency. And even then, I go either late at night, or early in the morning before the average Wal-mart shopper is out of bed.

K-mart – I used to like K-mart, but our local K-mart (actually, out of business and long since closed) is in a crappy area. I only went there once, and don’t miss it.

Furniture stores – Don’t care. How often do you need furniture anyway? You buy a bed once every 10-20 years. I can’t see spending $5000 on a couch. I don’t go in furniture stores.

Best Buy – I would miss them. They’re great for impulse buys that I don’t want to wait for shipping on. If I need a new computer, I want it right now, not in 2 days. But even I don’t need that many new computers.

Now, for stores I can’t live without:

Grocery stores: until I can get my beer as easily as I can my coffee, I still need grocery stores. And my wife needs them for the other non-beer items we need for our household.

Convenience stores: I can’t buy smokes as easily as I can coffee either. Gotta have Wawa. Plus, gas. Although it would be great if I could order 20 gallons of regular a week and have it show up in my driveway.

Vape stores: I need juice and atomizers for my vaporizer. And when I’m too lazy to order them online, I need a place I can get to locally.

And I probably need places where I can get my oil changed and general maintenance on my truck.

So for the “retail apocalypse?” I’m not that torn up about it. Brick and mortar stores, unless they fill some specialty that can’t be done online (like beer or oil changes) are like the “buggy whip manufacturers” that went out of business once the car took off.

Funny cliche I came across recently: 100 years ago, everybody had a horse and only the rich had cars. Now, everybody has a car and only the rich have horses.

New iPad Pro/iOS 11

The newest Apple announcement (I think it was last week) had some yawns and a few things to get excited about. Let’s talk about the 10.5″ iPad Pro. According to Mac Rumors:

I’ve seen the 12″ iPad Pro. It almost seems too big. Haven’t bothered checking out the 9.7″. I have an iPad Mini 3, which I don’t use all that much.

I’ve had the iPad 1,2,3 and the Mini 2 and 3. (The Mini 2 was from a failed mobility project at work. They deactivated the cell data and told me they didn’t want the tablet back).

The iPad has a buttload of promise, but one huge shortfall: it’s still a MOBILE operating system. That means you can only do one thing at a time. My personal “workflow” normally involves having a YouTube video playing in the background, or a podcast, while I’m going through email, reading RSS, or whatever else. You CANNOT do that on an iPad. OK, I have two Minis, so I guess I could play the YouTube video on one while I work on the other. Yeah.

Apple seriously needs to put some desktop features on the iPad, specifically the ability to open a YouTube video in Safari, then switch back to Apple Mail. Normally, when Apple goes through its annual update to iOS and MacOS, I see things like the following:

Update to iMessages!

Update to Photos!

14 freaking cameras that work as one!

Undecipherable update to Apple Music!

None of which excite me. I use an Android phone, so iMessages is useless to me, and I have yet to get excited about a new iPhone due to the above. Photos has some usefulness, but for my purposes, the built-in Windows photo viewer does what I need. And on my Mac, I just go through my pictures in Finder. Don’t care about cameras; ever since the iPhone 4 era, phone cameras have been at the resolution I need. And I don’t use Apple Music, which only works on Apple products. I’ve been using Amazon Prime Music lately (not the extra subscription service.)

According to Mac Rumors, iOS 11 does seem to have some interesting features, (at least on the iPad Pro):

Let’s see what Apple has to say.

Files – could be a game changer. Imagine that; actually being able to manipulate the file system on a tablet (you could do this on Windows tablets back in the 90’s… welcome to the future, Apple!)

The Dock – could be interesting. Is this only on the Pro, or will I also get this when I upgrade my Mini 3? (Yes, at the bottom of the page, both the Mini 2 and Mini 3 will get iOS 11. But will they get ALL THE FEATURES?)

Multitasking – if this is available on my Minis, that would be great. I could use them more.

Drag and Drop – again, you had this capability on Windows tablets back in the 90’s. You’re way late to the party, Apple!

Apple Pencil – will this work on the Mini?

Instant Markup – Adobe has had this on phones and tablets for years, but having it native would be useful.

Instant notes – again, had this in Evernote and OneNote. My cheap ass RCA Windows 10 tablet from Walmart came with this feature. But having it on the iPad means we’ll think Apple invented it!

Inline Drawing – looks pretty cool!

Scan and sign – part revolutionary, part late to the party. Evernote did this years ago. I had to scan my entire 110 page divorce agreement in 2015. I used Evernote for this. But to be able to sign… will anybody accept it? I tried to sign documents in Adobe with a stylus and had them rejected. I had to revert to 1848 technology (yes, the fax was invented THAT FREAKING LONG AGO) and “wet sign” and fax said documents, even though my signature looked exactly the same. I couldn’t tell the difference. How could they?

Quicktype Keyboard – interesting. I’ll have to play with it.

Augmented reality – just an API. Others have to develop apps for it. I had an AR app on the Nokia 920 I had in 2014. It was pretty cool. And Apple has had the ability for people to develop hardware that plugs into iOS devices since the iPad 2. I don’t know if anybody ever did.

That’s enough. I don’t get paid for this.

Chances are, I’ll get the public beta when it’s available. I’ll make some updates after I’ve gotten my hands on it. Now I need to look up MacOS 10.13. High Sierra. Although it’s been years since Apple introduced anything revolutionary into their MacOS.

Yawn. Another Android Phone

As much as I love technology, I’m kind of sick of hearing about dual cameras, retarded “virtual assistants”, and new messaging apps. I want something that changes the entire paradigm like the original iPhone did in 2007. Instead, the guy who created Android launched a new company to create the “Essential Phone“.

And it’s just another Android phone. With magnetic attachments. Mostly cameras, from what I can tell. Specs: the same. Instead of glass and plastic, it’s ceramic and titanium. And it costs as much as the high-end phones anyway. And I doubt it uses MST for payments, so no Samsung Pay, which has become essential to my operations.