My First Two Years as an Author

My First Two Years as an Author

It was roughly two years ago today that I started my blog and released my first short story, DAISY, and set my first nonfiction work, Understanding IT. I wanted to take a step back to look at the performance of my various projects, and I realized something very important:  Advertising is incredibly important, and something that I've completely neglected.

F-35 Deploys to RAF Lakenheath

F-35 Deploys to RAF Lakenheath

The F35's come from the 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Their commanderLt Col George Watkins, had this to say about the deployment to RAF Lakenheath:

"It's teamwork between us and the local population of the base here, as they're standing up their own F-35 squadrons here [...] so they can get some lesson's learned"

The deployment was planned months in advance according to the statement released by the Department of Defense, but the timing does come as international politics throughout the entire world are tense.

Syria, North Korea, and Trump - Oh My!

Syria, North Korea, and Trump - Oh My!

Two weeks ago, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) against Shayrat Air Base in Homs Province in response to a recent chemical attack carried out by the Russian-Backed Assad Regime. The attack was unsuccessful by most military measures. In fact, as far as Assad is concerned, militarily nothing has changed for the worse. 

So why risk so much for a largely ineffective strike against an airbase? Why use TLAMs against hardened targets when B-2s would have made more sense? Why deploy a carrier group to the East Sea? To send a message to North Korea. 

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Yesterday, the Internet kind of broke when Lucasfilm released the new trailer for the upcoming film, The Last Jedi. With little surprise, the internet did what it does best after that: Watched it obsessively and critiqued/gleaned every nuanced second of it.

Don't Dox the Dick

Don't Dox the Dick

Last week, I put out a call to action to contact your Congressional Representative because of a bill that had passed, with little fanfare, the Senate aimed at removing Obama-era privacy protections for consumer privacy.  While over 1,000 of you responded to this request, the measure unfortunately passed the House and the 100 pages of FCC regulations aimed at protecting user privacy is now no more.

While the Internet was outraged by a, now redacted, article posted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), about a test program that users can opt-out of, Internet Service Providers (ISP) have not yet rapidly capitalized on the release of these regulations. In fact, the first people to capitalize on this loosening of regulations have been the people who most opposed their loosening in the first place! Self-proclaimed privacy advocate Adam McElhaney, has set up a viral GoFundMe page with the intent to crowdfund the money required to purchase the internet history of the Senators and Representatives who voted for these rollbacks.

This is dangerous.

3 Tips for Mercy Mains

3 Tips for Mercy Mains

OmnicMeta recently released its report on the most popular PC mains for Season 4 of Overwatch's Competitive Play.  Among the lower tiers, Mercy mains constitute about 20% of the competitors, and the difference between an average Mercy and a good one really rests on three simple tweaks to your gameplay.

A Complete Guide to a Utahn Spring Break for Non-Skiiers

A Complete Guide to a Utahn Spring Break for Non-Skiiers

While vacationing in Utah is typically associated with skiing, snowboarding, or mountain biking, the state has numerous tourist hotspots worth exploring, especially in the spring. At the tail end of the skiing season, there is usually still enough snow in the mountains to get a solid day or two in the snow, and the heat of summer hasn't taken hold over the arid desert areas of the state.  The compromise of a spring visit ensures that a seven day trip to the state will have plenty for everyone.

When my sister visited us in Las Vegas, we made sure that she got the best that Nevada - and California - had to offer her within that one week, and we wanted to make her trip to Utah just as amazing.  Flying in Friday night, and leaving the following Saturday evening gave us roughly seven days to explore as much of the state as possible without completely losing the relaxation that should accompany every vacation.  Our itinerary focused a little more heavily on the domestic and cultural aspects of the state than the rugged outdoors, but can serve as a starting point for anyone unsure of what they want to do when they visit.

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

Dog Whistle Politics Attack Consumer Privacy (Again)

In a quiet press release, lost among the battle to defeat the disastrous Affordable Care Act repeal U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) introduced a bill to gut the regulatory power of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).  The joint resolution is extremely short, stating that the Senate "disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to 'Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunication Services,' and such rule shall have no force or effect." 

Senator Flack, a huge recipient of the extremely conservative Club for Growth PAC, is more concerned with repealing everything Obama touched than he is in understanding the personal journey that privacy necessitates, or the implications a repeal of these rules would have on technology and the economy.

New Guard Education Benefits Rock the Rock

Note: I do not speak for the trees, nor the U.S. Government, its affiliates, or my employer; the standard disclaimers always apply.

I rarely report the news, but this is too important to not talk about.  Yesterday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 278 providing free college tuition to members of the Arkansas National Guard for their first 120 hours of undergraduate work.  This is a huge benefit, because it not only ensures free education for current Guardsmen, but ensures that they'll be able to transfer most - or all - of their federal education benefits to a spouse or child.

Previously, when I went through my undergraduate degree, the state would provide $2,500 per semester to Guardsmen studying for their first baccalaureate degree; the remaining tuition and fees would need to be paid for by my Montgomery GI Bill (or the newer Post-9/11) benefits, leaving me with a fantastic, free, education but with little left to transfer to my spouse.  New Guardsmen will be able to enlist for six years, obtain their baccalaureate degree (or at least 120 hours of it) from an instate university, with the entire 36 months of their Montgomery GI Bill (or Post-9/11 GI Bill) benefits left to do with what they see fit.

These enlistees can then pursue their Master's Degree, mostly free, or transfer their benefits to a spouse or dependent in exchange for remaining in the military for a certain amount of time.  Service in the Arkansas National Guard has now transitioned from an unbelievable way to bring yourself out of a cycle of poverty - as I did - to an incredible tool to boost entire families; change entire legacies within the State of Arkansas.

Increased education attainment has been linked to numerous benefits for the individual whose obtained the degree, including: 10% less reliance on government aide (i.e. SNAP), $20,000 average increase in salary, 6% decrease in unemployment rates, and increased number of insurance policy purchases and fewer health insurance claims due to chronic illness.  This translates into families who are better able to invest into the local, state, and national economies.

The ability for these families, many of who may lack rapid upward mobility, to be able to jumpstart two and maybe even three careers through reduced or free college is phenomenal for the state. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, then consider this: The Arkansas National Guard's shortfalls in manning cost the state an estimated $37.2 million last year in inefficiencies, retention bonuses, and travel costs associated with an understaffed force.

 


Redefining the Cold War

Redefining the Cold War

Consider the following questions:

  • How does a NATO country, like Belgium or Spain, raise its defense spending rapidly over the short term (i.e. 4 years) without incurring the risk associated with research and development or costs associated with increased manpower?
  • How does a businessman-turned-politician drive down the costs of a weapon's program whose costs are "out of control?"
  • How does one make good on promises to "bring manufacturing jobs back home?" to appease Economic Security voters?
  • How does an administration, in dire need of showing strength against a country who allegedly helped it get elected do so without leading to an accidental international incident?

The answer to all of these is through Foreign Military Sales; the one thing that the U.S. government has been decidedly good at over the last several decades.  Currently, the most prolific export of the U.S. military sale market is the F-35 and it has been catapulted into the limelight as a cornerstone in the next Cold War.