The Bible, homosexualism and the truth.

Willful ignorance has taken many shapes and forms in our society. It has been my displeasure this morning to wake up and read so many ignorant comments from self-righteous religious individuals who claim that they tolerate those with homosexual tendencies. But, that even if they tolerate their acts, “it is the word of God who condemns those that practice homosexuality” (this always sounds to me as if they thought that there was a choice in the matter). In their minds, a book that was written thousands of years ago holds all the answers to every question that arises today. But, I beg to ask. Who really wrote the bible? The answer to that question is simply many men (or one guy, who knows?). To quote Russell Brand in an interview with the Westboro Baptist Church: “the Holy Spirit ain’t got a pen”. It is simply ridiculous to think that God wrote the bible or even dictated the words written in it.

I could sit here and write an entire paragraph on why this is a ridiculous concept, but I’ll link to fellow blogger Steven Jake , and he’ll explain instead.

In his blog Steven explains that several passages in Psalms are clearly prayers to God. This is a clear cut case of someone who wrote passages in the bible simply not being hand-directed by God or any other higher being  (Cthulhu being my favorite) . There are many other passages written in the bible that are directed to God (for the sake of brevity I will not link them, but they can be searched in Google). Now plenty of religious folk will attest that it was inspired by God, but even in the worst case scenario, we must accept that he did not write (or dictated) every (perhaps any) passage in the bible. Therefore we must conclude that the bible is not free from human tampering.

People must wake up and realize that we can’t live our lives based on some historical writings. These writings have been translated so many times that the original meaning might have been lost centuries ago. What’s even worse is that we condemn homosexuality, when it is generally agreed upon that those were a time when reproduction was of the utmost importance in order to ensure the survival of the human species. For those of you who have not seen her video ask a lesbian w/ Cameron Esposito I will provide a link in which she (a theology major) answers that question. God bless her soul.

If we keep these 2 factors in mind then we have to ask ourselves, why do people so blindly follow the bible? However, I’m afraid that there is not an answer for this question. People often cling to beliefs when they feel that they are weak and in need of guidance. This is not a bad thing, I’m not condemning those whose beliefs lie in the religious world (I can claim to not be judging as well). But, anyone can claim to not judge others and hide behind a book while looking down upon them. It is too easy to fall into a false sense of security when we believe that our actions are justified (see Nazi Germany). Why do I bring up the Germans? Because in those days the defense utilized by them was eerily similar (see Nuremberg Defense or I was just following orders). In this case people might claim defense with the statement: they aren’t hurting anyone, how can I be similar to the Nazi? But, while it’s true that they aren’t hurting a particular person; they are hurting their cause. When your only defense is a book that has been claimed by Pope Francis as only a fraction of what the “word of God” truly is. The only thing you damage is your own faith’s credibility when your sources are a book that is open to a lot of interpretation and has been taken as gospel.

You must understand that truth is a very subjective topic. Truth in a hypothesis is often measured with two aspects which are validity, and reliability without them the experiment is considered void. But, when we cite a single source as the fountain of information it leads to statements such as the following:

Translation:  Yes, I'm a Christian I Believe in the Bible I don't approve of homosexuality nor gay marriage Yes, I still love you Yes, we are still friends. No, I'm not judging No, I'm not condemning you to hell. No, I won't let anyone harass you. But, Please understand that we only only ask what you're asking. We have a right to raise our voice. We have a right to be respected for what we believe in. We have a right to share our beliefs As well as you do. Telling the truth is not homophobia.
Translation:
Yes, I’m a Christian
I Believe in the Bible
I don’t approve of homosexuality nor gay marriage
Yes, I still love you
Yes, we are still friends.
No, I’m not judging
No, I’m not condemning you to hell.
No, I won’t let anyone harass you.
But, Please understand that we only only ask what you’re asking.
We have a right to raise our voice.
We have a right to be respected for what we believe in.
We have a right to share our beliefs
As well as you do.
Telling the truth is not homophobia.

This is not true, you aren’t telling any truth. You are only expressing your beliefs based on religion (typically following the bible). You can claim that you aren’t judging another person, but your actions might say otherwise when put into practice. Remember, we are only ourselves behind closed doors. You could say a million things to my face, but you can still judge internally.

Going back to the Nuremberg Defense it was actually what led to the experiment called the Milgram’s Obedience Study. In this study a participant would be commanded (by different people in each study) to give increasing amounts of electrical shocks (in increasing voltage) to a fake test subject (actor) who would pretend to be in increasing amounts of pain. The study surprisingly (or not depending on your point of view) discovered that if a person of authority such as a scientist or a professor commanded it, the participants would be more willing to give the shocks to the point of apparent murder of the fake test subject. In which case these folk admittedly see religious figures as their leading authority, which would mean that they could justify their behaviors for the same reason as the Nazi. Sadly when people are blindly following orders, it leaves little room for personal interpretation. Which is a problem when we take into consideration that perhaps the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been taken into the wrong context.

You see in Sodom and Gomorrah the biggest crime was not homosexuality, instead it was the following: “rebelling against God, lacking in knowledge, deserting the Lord, idolatry, engaging in meaningless religious ritual, being unjust and oppressive to others, being insensitive to the needs of widows and orphans, committing murder, accepting bribes, etc”. There is no reference to homosexuality or to any other sexual activities at all. This was all taken from Isaiah 1. In Jeremiah 23:14 we get the following “among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah”. Finally we get Ezekeiel 16:49-50:Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen”. I don’t see any mention of homosexuality throughout these passages, and it is simply hard to justify homosexuality as a reason for their destruction. I also have to ask if indeed everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah were indeed homosexual except for Lot. How come there were so many wives and children living in the city when God destroyed it? As a cracked article once stated the biggest sin they committed was being miserly and gave a fun exercise to try: “The next time your Christian friend refuses to give money to a poor person, say, “Hey, you just sodomized that guy!”

All of this has been leading me to my final point. The bible itself only has seven to nine articles that could be potentially be referring to homosexual behaviors as a sin. But, it has at least 30 articles that speak ill of judging others. We are all one human race and it is about time we left our prejudices behind us. Humans as a whole need to evolve and reach the next step, but if we are blinded by hate we will never achieve this. It’s ironic that despite the fact that racial features, and skin color have been determined by the location our ancestors decided to settle in has been verified by scientific sources. We haven’t been able to get past this behavior as if it were ingrained into our DNA (impossible and I’m only speaking metaphorically).  If you are truly a religious person who believes that Jesus is your Lord and Savior then strive to become more like him. There seems to be this agreement in the general populace that Jesus was a very forward-thinking revolutionary man. This is the example that we must follow ourselves. Let us not be held back by the chains that bind us. We must not dwell on hate, instead look for acceptance in our hearts and minds. If we are to put our petty differences aside then this is the place where it must all begin.

Remember people that if you truly believe that God is perfect then he makes no mistakes. Therefore, how can we condemn something that was made by God himself? Who are we to judge above and beyond Him?

P.S. let’s not forget the other things the bible condemns that we do this day and age:

SIIIIIIINS!!!!
SIIIIIIINS!!!!

Now as I always say please share and like if you enjoyed this article it really does motivate me to write more. I hope everyone who read this blog opens their heart a little bit more to acceptance of different beliefs. It is my hope that one day I’ll get to see a truly magnificent world. But, it all begins with change (not the change Obama was talking about, but he’s cool too)

This blog is copyright of the original writer.

A Quick Congratulations to the LGBT Community. But a wake-up call to our brothers/sisters-at-arms.

I wanted to extend a warm hug to the LGBT community because today this 26th of June 2015 marks the day when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. A historic blow against the hate and bigotry that has been spread throughout the United States has been dealt and it is glorious. I have some very dear friends who are part of this community, and honestly can’t wait to see if they will take the plunge into marriage sometime soon. Frankly I am surprised it took this long for the government to do this. It’s not like it took them hundreds of years to realize that all people deserve the same rights despite their differences (oh wait, it did). Now, if we can finally get to work on fixing every other issue in this nation perhaps we will finally get somewhere, but for now this is a big step forward.

I wanted to mention something that might not have been widespread news at this moment. It is that the military (or at least the Navy) this month has been designated as LGBT Pride Month in order to bolster camaraderie and equality. It was so fantastic to hear those news because I came in at a time when we were still following the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that was enacted during Bill Clinton’s presidency in order to allow people of different orientations to serve their country. This itself was one big step forward in the military because until that point, if you were to apply for a job; the recruiters had to ask your orientation (if you said yes to the question, you were automatically unable to serve). However, this changed when during 2010-2012 time-frame the military opted to repeal the policy in favor of one that allowed anyone to serve openly. This caused much rejoicing amongst many of my co-workers who I am proudly serving next to, this very day.

But, not all is well in paradise. You see the military has it’s own strict code of Justice called the U.C.M.J. (Uniform Code of Military Justice). In this code there is an article that strictly forbids sodomy and I’m going to share with you (seeing as a quick Google search will provide the answer):

925. ARTICLE 125. SODOMY

10. Punitive Articles

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration , however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Someone in a much higher pay-grade than me needs to fix this soon. It’s not a much spoken about issue and I believe that a lot of members of my community (the military) need to band together in order to modify this. It’s not that the military openly observes the article (unless it involves rape, but that is a separate issue all together). But, simply because having this article exist is denigrating as a whole to a community who now openly embraces the members of the LGBT community who serve alongside them. It’s simply a stain on an otherwise standard and effective system of justice.

My other issue with this approval of the same-sex marriage is that it doesn’t change the fact that men of homosexual orientation can’t donate blood at blood-drives. In fact if you are a male who engages in sexual acts with another man it will get you banned for life in terms of donating blood. This is a seriously outdated policy that traces back to the era when the AIDS crisis was at its height. Countries around the world have been coming to change this with the passing of time, but the United States seems to be stuck in the past. I understand that prior to 1985 we did not have the technology to test for HIV before giving blood transfusions, however the times have changed and we do now. Somehow this must have escaped the eyes/ears of the people in charge of the system because nothing has been done to remedy this mistake. Technology has advanced so much that we can now test for multiple diseases in a fraction of the time that it took back in 1985. Yet, I barely ever hear anyone making a fuss about this issue. It seems that as long as people are willing to lie in those questionnaires they will willingly (and selflessly) donate blood to save lives. But, I say nay! People must rise against this indignity towards the LGBT community and take another stand. This is not the time to celebrate. It is the time to take action, and correct every discrepancy that has been enacted against a group of people. If discrimination is such a crime then explain to me how this is not such an act!

The only reason I found about this detail, was because a year ago one of my closest friends/confidant posted on his Facebook wall that he was unable to donate blood. When I heard the news my first reaction was to give him a phone call immediately and find out what had happened (I was afraid he might have gotten sick from his trip to a foreign country). It was that same year that he told me of his orientation (though I had known that detail about him since before he even realized it). In his post he specified that the group he donated blood to was no longer interested in his “gay blood” which is frankly very alarming. Ever since then I have made it a deed of mine to raise awareness of this fact. But, I need more people to spread the word, and if you’re reading this blog; please ensure that the news is heard. This needs to reach congress, it simply can’t continue to be this way if we are to reach the total equality that all people deserve.

On a final note my command celebrated LGBT month with a breakfast this morning. It was completely free though donations were welcome (of course I gave them most of the cash I had on me). I was so overjoyed to partake in this meal (free food!), but mostly because it gave me a chance to say good-bye to my shipmates. I will be doing a Permanent Change of Station soon, and I don’t have many opportunities left to socialize with them (so every bit is welcome). This day was truly a historical event, which compares only to the equal rights movements of the past. Once again I say to the LGBT community a warm and hearty congratulations.

LGBT Month on the command

The Confederate Flag Debacle

A new controversy has been plaguing Facebook and Twitter for the last few days. It seems that the government wants to take down the Confederate flag from being flown and sold in certain locations in  the Southern States of America. This flag bears a lot of significance to many of the citizens in those areas, and as such the loss of privilege means a great deal to them. However, we must acknowledge that just because it’s historical does not mean, that it is not a symbol of something much darker.  I spent a fair amount of hours researching the history of this flag before making a decision on which side I stood on. But, what I discovered was certainly eye-opening to the beliefs that were held in the past.

First of all I’d like to mention that this flag has had many itinerations. The symbol that we know today as the Confederate Flag has changed at least 3 times before it became the one it is today. These flags were all made with the same intention; to symbolize the meaning of what the Confederacy stood for. When viewed from this perspective it allows us to understand that a flag is simply a symbol from a country itself (our flag flies one star per state and will add more as they continue if the trend goes on). What the general populace tends to forget is that simply because you change the design of a flag, and add a new meaning, it does not change it’s history or what it once stood for.  While it’s certain that the Confederacy did stand for independence, it’s values were not the most positive ones when viewed from our modern perspective.

The first Confederate flag called the Stars and Bars was very similar to the United States Flag, and was actually criticized because the Union stood for the abolition of slavery. Due to the massive negative reaction that was had the government was actually incited to look for a new design. The people did not approve of this flag simply because it was similar to something that opposed their beliefs despite the fact that the reason for the similarities was because these two groups originated from the same location/people. What was even worse was that due to the similarities they had this caused major confusions in the battlefield and thus it was deemed necessary to change it. They rejected the design because it was similar to the Stars and Stripes which was a symbol of something that the Confederacy opposed. You will notice that symbolism is a recurring theme in this article.

The second flag was known as The Stainless Banner. This design was probably the most controversial due to it’s nickname “The White Man’s Flag”.  While this flag caused a separate array of confusion for the poor Union because when the wind was not blowing it would look like a flag of surrender. I’m fairly certain this must have caused much heartbreak amongst Union soldiers looking for an easy battle. This flag was originally designed to symbolize the Confederacy’s ideals that the white race was superior to all others by it’s creator. It was also very different to the Stars and Stripes which was another perk to the people of the south who hated the Stars and Bars. In 1863  William T. Thompson had the following to say “As a people we are fighting maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical (sic) of our cause”. A flag like this would never fly in this age, and is another page in the muddled history of this flag. However, I must clarify that the significance of the white part of the flag was never formally incorporated by the Confederate Act in 1864 so people took various liberties with it’s meaning. But, due to the reasons mentioned above regarding confusion in the battlefield, another flag was created.

This led to the creation of The Blood Stained Banner. This flag was designed in order to avoid confusion by the troops when the wind was not blowing. This flag was more like a revision than a major change and did not add anything major to what this flag represented. I theorize that the flag’s red stripe at the edge was significant of the blood shed by the soldiers whose lives were lost in the war. If looked at it from this point of view this flag might have held some very emotional significance to some. Yet, this would be the last design before the surrender of the south, and after this event the flag would proceed to hibernate until it saw its popularity resurface by military units composed of southerners in World War II. But, this was not a very popular act to a certain descendant of one of the generals of the Civil War, since it was a war fought by people from all over the United States.

As the 1900’s passed certain groups like the Ku-Klux-Klan or the Skinheads started using this flag as a symbol with historian Gordon Rhea stating that “They did not appropriate the Confederate battle flag simply because it was pretty. They picked it because it was the flag of a nation dedicated to their ideals: ‘that the negro is not equal to the white man’. The Confederate flag, we are told, represents heritage, not hate. But why should we celebrate a heritage grounded in hate, a heritage whose self-avowed reason for existence was the exploitation and debasement of a sizeable segment of its population?”.  This is what it all boils down to when congress is working to eliminate the sale, and flying of this flag because it symbolizes something that is marred by a history of hate. People who complain about political correctness have probably never been in the receiving end of racism or unwarranted hate. It’s not a good feeling. I understand that sometimes political correctness can go overboard, but in this case it’s the same concept as the name “Redskins” for the Washington football team. There will always be people who defend negative symbols because changing them would be like destroying tradition (I will elaborate on later on).

I’m not opposed to the observation of this flag in a museum or a history book. I am opposed to what this flag once symbolized, and the history that it carries. As a Puerto Rican I am aware of the plight of the underdogs, but in this case we must understand the comparison between the Swastika and the Confederate flag. Both of these flags symbolize something very negative to two respective groups of minorities, which is their oppression.  When people look blindly at tradition as a motive for keeping the status quo it inhibits societies progress. But, this is simply not a good reason for flying this banner. I will admit the Confederate flag deserves respect, in as much as any historical artifact. It also deserves a place in the history books with a thorough explanation of what it once stood for in order to avoid the confusion that is happening at this time with future generations. We must never erase our history because without it we simply cease to grow as a society. But, sadly it sometimes appears that society is terrified of change.

There is a theory that this is due in part to a certain fear that is instinctive in humans to dislike change. When we can’t follow customs it feels like we deserved to be punished. To challenge the customs that our forefathers set for us is a betrayal that we must never commit. But, this is wrong. Most individuals simply don’t see this as fear, and instead see it as an infringement of their “Freedom of Speech”. However, if this bill passes it’s simply not going to make it a crime to fly the flag yourself. It’s not going to stop you from sewing a copy of the flag. It’s simply not going to be as easily acquired or flown in Government buildings, and is that really a bad thing? The government doesn’t want to be associated with something that stood for racism and hate at one point (oh God, the humanity will somebody please think of the children!!!). The way politics are these days it’s not like the Government is very popular either so it’s definitely got to work on its image. Traditions evolve all of the time. This case is no different than any of the ones that have come before it. If we are to look at a brighter future then we must be willing to make sacrifices even if those include symbols that we hold near and dear to our hearts.

As always like and share if you enjoyed the article and let me know if you have any suggestions for future topics. I hope you guys enjoyed reading on the history of this treasured American artifact as much as I liked researching it.

This article is copyright of the original writer.

A note to all friends in the world.

Ah, alas a subject which I am all too familiar with. A long distance friend used to be a paradox amongst people less than a century ago. In those days people had pen-pals, but that was still all too different to the limits we have reached in our digital era. As a sailor, my life has been shifted from one location to another in a relatively short amount of time; thus I’ve had to leave and make new friend on every move. This has given me the opportunity to recognize how important the people I leave behind me were and still are.

In the military we have an unwritten custom in regards to friendships. When a member transfers and leaves a friend behind their friendship is frozen inside a metaphorical “time bubble”. If the members were ever to meet again their friendship would simply return to the state it was in regardless of how many years have passed. To a member this simply comes with the territory. We learn from an early start of how fleeting life can be, for us forget those that have been dear to us at one point in our lives is a terrible concept. These are people who might have been your only friend in the darkest of times, and as such the member learns to cherish them dearly. After all, these people eat, sleep, breathe, work, live, and protect each other even when the military is such an emotionally overwhelming environment (unlike the movies, in real life the bonds of brotherhood are extremely rare, so much that you’re likely to have a few members that hate your guts too) so the important ones become that much more valuable.

To me this extends past the military, and into friends that I have cherished since I was a teenager. I have three friends that I have been through thick and thin with since I was twelve years old, and they are invaluable to me. For the sake of protecting their real names I will not mention them, but I will post some pictures. These guys have been my favorite part of growing up, and even when we made mistakes or hurt each others feelings our friendships held strong. The one on the top is a friend whom I call practically everyday to make sure he’s doing well, the two at the bottom, I play video games with on a regular basis (I still can’t beat V at Super Smash Brothers 4!!!!). We grew up very close to one another, and all three are the closest thing I have to a family that is not blood related. You see while I was growing up life was not easy (it still isn’t). But, I learned quickly that you needed friendships to survive, and as such I picked from the best people that were available to me. This allowed me to realize that friends were a family that you could pick and choose. We can’t very well determine our biological relatives, but true friends can be chosen with some good judgement (pretty sure luck also has a lot to do with it). I love them all, they are just regular people that are simply trying to make the best for themselves. Yet, in my heart they are magnificent individuals with hopes and dreams that they will one day achieve. Thank you for making my life bearable guys, I can’t stress that enough.

Kiko
Kiko
V and Pepecampo
V (making the goofy face) and Pepecampo

This isn’t to say that our friendships are perfect. Far from it in fact; the friendships I have with these folk have been  steeled through the hottest flames on earth. There were times when we didn’t speak for months/years due to the decisions we had to make or things we said without ill intentions that were misinterpreted. In those times, I have stepped away, and simply let time run its course. I have been forgiven, and forgave the trespasses that we have committed on each other because I know the value that they hold to me. I could simply not imagine my life without these guys being in it, and I hope they feel the same way about me. Due to the fact that we all live in different states (every single one of us)  the time differences, work schedules, and life-in-general that seem to conspire in order to forbid us from spending the time we would like together. But, our friendship stays strong. This is what made me realize that the only true treasure in life is not gold, but friendship.

It is theorized that it takes a minimum of seven years to form an unbreakable bond with a person (your mileage may vary on this). In the military this is reduced to two or three years of being stuck in the same awful situation together. It’s not well documented on why this is the way it is, but my own twist on it is that misery just breeds camaraderie between folks of similar tastes, and personalities (the military is a very serious environment, even if we take time to goof off every once in a blue moon). While we keep this in mind, it is not hard to see how in order to make the best of a situation the members have to pick someone (from a very limited pool) to confide in. Sometimes this works out great, and you get some amazing friendships… Other times not so much and you end up with someone who we like to call the Blue Falcon (if you don’t know what that means go catch up on your military lingo).  For me it has been amazing though. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing and caring individuals whilst serving in the military. Each with their own story filled with amazing challenges that they have had to overcome in order to get to where they are at this moment in life. Each of these folk have changed my life in more ways than one, and for this I have to thank them.

I’m not going to specify any names, but a special mention goes to two individuals who broke regulations in order to protect me during an emergency evacuation of the base. I didn’t know it at the time, but his wife was a distant relative of mine (we were both unaware of this until my grandmother met her). But, these folk will forever hold a place in my heart for taking me all the way to Camp Roberts in order to get more milk supply for my son (6 months old and breastfed at the time), and then hosting me in their house while the crisis went over. We had only known each other for a small amount of time, but that was so unexpected that it will forever leave a mark in my heart and I am proud to call them my friends/family. I can’t stress this enough, the military is a difficult environment that is not for everyone. But, I’ll be damned if I say that it has not provided me the opportunity to meet some of the most courageous people in the world. Their deeds shall forever live on in my heart, and will not be forgotten. Thank you! From the bottom of my heart my dear friends.

On a lighter note it was best friend day on June 08, 2015. I was surprised when my buddy Pepecampo called me to wish me a “happy best friend day”. But, it was an extremely pleasant surprise. It’s not much of a commercialized holiday, and I wasn’t even aware of it until then, but the gesture was very much appreciated. I did some research (by this I mean Google) and found out that friendship day is on August this year. These were some humorous news because I never knew that day was even a real thing. I don’t know what I’ll be doing that month at this point, but I hope that everyone remembers to cherish their friends everyday that they are alive. Life is much too short to hold grudges that happened years ago. No matter how much it hurt back then; never forget that time heals all wounds. Trust me when I say that you will regret it more, if you don’t forgive the mistakes of those whom you once called a brother/sister in-spite of the lack of blood relations. You might just discover how much they were missed once they are back in your life.

Please like and share if you liked this article, if you didn’t like it leave a comment, and maybe I can address the issue. Perhaps send me an email with suggestions for future articles.

Seriously though if you didn’t like it here is a picture of a baby for you:

Yay!
Yay!

This article is copyright of the original writer.

Father’s Day! and Hallmark Holidays

First of all, I’d like to wish fathers everywhere a happy Fathers Day. But, I wanted to voice my opinion on this Hallmark holiday which in my opinion should not be the one day of the year where we show appreciation for fathers (or mothers) everywhere. I’m certain this has been said a million times and I’m probably just repeating myself at this point. However, we need to stop and think about what this day is truly about in this day and age. It’s about corporations making money on gifts, and sappy cards with generic messages that have no soul to them.

You see fathers day was originally an event hosted in Spokane, Washington, but the very first observance of it came from a Methodist Episcopal church in West Virginia from the year 1908 one fifth of July under the suggestions of a woman called Grace Golden Clayton to pastor Robert Thomas Webb. In those days it was simply a day to honor fathers in church whilst giving them the recognition that sometimes goes unnoticed. There were no large events held in their honor and as the website I got my information (I will link to it at the end) from mentions ” Making a big fuss never was very dad-like, anyway”. It is said that in Spokane they still celebrate the holiday as they did back then, and I have to say that I would love for it to be this way instead. There was no need for expensive gifts, no need to demonstrate any extra amount of affection for a father. It was simply to recognize the hard work that they put into raising a family, and isn’t this what we should be truly celebrating?

It took congress an extremely long time to officiate the holiday and in a truly ironic twist of events the largest fears that held them at bay was the commercialization of the holiday. Isn’t that just a kick in the rear? Their largest fear ended up becoming a reality after the holiday was made official, and now we simply have another Hallmark holiday in which corporations take their chances to sell us neckties, gift cards, clothing, and other items which we give to our fathers, and sometimes they aren’t really even needed. But, it’s hard not to get into the festivities and want to join them, I’d even dare to say that society bombards us with stimuli to incite our spending during the “parents day” events. Treating them extra special, with treats such as breakfast in bed or doing some of their chores for them (which truly we should be doing that regardless of what day it was). But this is not the worst part about the event to me.

There is one aspect of these two holidays in which we honor our parents that I truly hate. It’s that we act like this is the one day we should remember our parents, and once that it is done with we can forget about them for another 364 days. This is not how it should be, we should honor our parents everyday that we (both them and us) are alive. If they truly deserved the recognition that we give them this time of the year. Then they are worthy of the same treatment during the rest of it. As a son I try to call my parents on a regular basis even if it’s simply to tell them that my wife and son are doing well. Sure it can be trying at times to keep them so involved in my life when we are thousands of miles away from each other. But, this is the one way that I can keep them aware of my appreciation for them. Even when I get angry or bothered by their meddling it doesn’t change that I do love my parents in-spite of the mistakes they made (they are human too). But, I also acknowledge that they do like receiving presents (there are not a lot of people who don’t like gifts). So for them and a few other extra-special people in my life I am willing to swallow my pride, and join in the celebration.

The one thing that I don’t like is getting presents on this day. The one gift I asked for this year (and it was given to me very late during the day) was some time for myself. I am a father 24/7, and in exchange for this I don’t want anything except the love of my family and close friends. When my wife comes to me with gifts in hand in the morning; I’m not sure on how I should react. I don’t like the feeling that I get whenever someone brings me something. But, I grin and bear it. I receive these presents with a hint of melancholy, and a smile in my face because it makes my family happy. That is not to say I didn’t like the gifts and in fact I loved three of them in particular.

The first gift I loved was getting to spend time with this guy:

BFF's
BFF’s Yo!

He was my very first friend in the military, we’ve been serving together since our first command and I absolutely adore spending time with him and his family. I had the time of my life with them and so did my wife. Truly a man could not ask for much more than this. We also went shooting bottles and it was hilariously amusing.

The second (though equally as amazing) was receiving two letters that my two year old made for me:

Can you guess which ones?
Can you guess which ones?

To me those two letters with his hand-prints and foot-prints are priceless. I also received a shirt along with them. But, I could have literally gotten those two things and it would still feel like the best Fathers Day present to me.  I didn’t need anything because I can afford to buy anything I really want (this is to say I’m frugal and love items that are on sale).

The third and final present that I loved was spending some quality time with a man that is like a father figure to me. I will not disclose his name for the sake of protecting him and his family. But, once the sun went down, and my wife and son went to sleep. He got a wine bottle, lit a bonfire, and we spoke for over 3 hours about life.  There were few words I could use to describe how nice it felt to do this, so I had to write them in a letter I gave him that night (along with a Raiders pocket knife, and a Shirt). In it I described the impact that he’s had in my life, and my appreciation for protecting my son and wife when I needed help. His wife and him have literally jumped through hurdles in order to help us out because of military restrictions, and for that I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. In my opinion the shirt and knife were simply extras, and it was the letter the one thing that was uniquely his because no one will ever take the words written in that letter from him. I made it for him, and there are none other in the world with those exact words.

All I wanted this Fathers Day, was some alone time to relax. This as you can see did not come to fruition for me. But, I can still say that it was probably the best one I’ve ever had. I will certainly never forget how great it was to do everything I did. My son and wife enjoyed it as much as I did, and that is also important because without them I wouldn’t be celebrating it the way I did.

Yet, I feel like I can’t stress this enough, don’t forget to cherish your parents everyday of your lives (pertaining they truly deserve it). They did so much for you that one day is simply not enough to show the gratitude that they deserve. Trust me when I say that they will be much happier and so will you. After all, what goes around comes around, and as a society we should really show our gratitude more often. Remember that your parents love you, as much (if not more) than you love them.

There is one last thing I’d like to tell everyone who reads this. Sometimes the best gift that you can give a dad is some time off from being a dad. Ask your parents if all they want for their respective parents day is to loaf about without having to worry about anything (chances are they will say yes). If this is the case listen to them and do it. They will love you that much more for it. After all being a parent often becomes a thankless and extremely back-breaking labor of love.

Link to the website speaking of the history of Fathers Day: http://hamptonroads.com/node/283021

This article is copyright of the original writer.

Final Fantasy 7 And the hype.

I have never been a hardcore fan of the Final Fantasy series despite playing several entries into the series. I played the first two entries on the Gameboy Advanced, Final Fantasy 3 (or 6 for your hardcore fanatics) on the SNES and 7 on the PS1. Out of all of these, I have to say my favorite one was the third. But, I have to admit that outside of the first two I have never played a Final Fantasy game from start to finish. It seemed that after a while I burned out and lost interest in finishing the quest. I don’t think it’s because the games are bad or I don’t like them, but maybe because I don’t want the journey to end so I choose to never finish it. This is, however, not a fair assessment since there were a few RPG’s out there which I devoured from start to finish only for me to replay the game over and over. Skies of Arcadia comes to mind as it’s probably the game that had the biggest impact in my life, and I actually modeled myself after the most awe inspiring traits of the main character Vyse (I’ll explain this better later on). It might be fairer to say that I didn’t have any characters I could relate to in the Final Fantasy games so I lost interest. Don’t get me wrong, if you could relate to the plight of the characters in Final Fantasy 7 then that’s all right. They appeared at an age where broody, quiet and full of angst was extremely appealing to people, and I could see where the grand scale of the game with FMV’s, bright lights, and impressive special moves had their massive appeal (it just wasn’t what I was looking for).

The Final Fantasy 7 remake was announced recently and I wrote about it on my earlier articles. I wanted to elaborate on it a little bit more in-depth, and see if I could analyze the hype behind the game. There is this idea that floats around the internet which states “whatever Final Fantasy game you played first will be forever your favorite”. Final Fantasy 7 came out in 1997 and I was around 8 years old, so I didn’t get to play the game until I was 13 at which point the game I consider my favorite RPG had already been released and I couldn’t get enough of it. This might explains why I’m not so excited to hear the news of something the fans have wanted them (Square-Enix) to re-release for almost a decade now. But, as every itineration of Final Fantasy releases it seemed like the fans liked the series less each time. I was excited when FFXIII was announced, and I’ll never forget that it released during my first deployment. However, that memory was flawed by the fact that the game was generally awful with minimal game-play. You could have called it Hallway Sim XIII and you would have made an equal impression. The game had 2 more sequels and while they fixed the issues with the original 13 it appeared like the damage was done. The reputation of the series had been tarnished, but this created a vacuum. This space was filled with wishes for the glory days of Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9. The more Square-Enix pushed fans by telling them that they would not remake the game until they had achieved a massive success of equal worth to 7; the harder the fans shouted. This finally made them cave-in during an age where we are heavily marked by a lack of titles that please the audiences. In turn this made the announcement the biggest hit in E3 this year. Not to mention how well the clip was done, the announcer’s voice could have made any woman (or man’s) panties fly off. It was short and sweet as well, so I congratulate Square-Enix on their performance.

I do have one major fear though. There is always hype surrounding new games or remakes of old ones that manage to disappoint the fans. Does anyone remember the hype around Frozen (the Disney movie)? The hype around Frozen was purely based around a single song (a song which is truly deserving of every accolade it received), but that was all it was. The movie itself was not very cutting-edge, and the subject of a strong female lead that did not need any man had been explored by Brave before Frozen even decided to take that title from it by force. The hype for Final Fantasy 7 is based on a very deep seated nostalgia the likes of which only Nintendo has been known to take advantage of before. Are we still the same people we were that many years ago? Will Cloud and Sephiroth be as relatable now that most of us have moved past our teenage angst-ridden stage of our lives? Will Aeris’ death (this is not a spoiler! If you didn’t know about this you have been literally hiding under a rock for decades) have the same impact now that Game of Thrones has desensitized us to the deaths of our favorite characters and lack of surprise? Will I buy this game for PC a year after it releases? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding maybe? The hype will continue to build in these next two years now that the game has finally been announced though. I fear this will be its own downfall thought, just like many giant clothing stores have felt in their profits that the newer generations aren’t into the same things as the old ones. The new generation of gamers might not connect the same way we once did in the era of punk and grunge. It’s hard to say if this game will be something that the new generation will continue to speak about it as if it were the second coming of Jesus to Christians.

I hope that this game meets the expectations of the fans. If it does then that will allow me to buy some Square-Enix stock in order to capitalize on the gains of the company. Hopefully this is a turn for the better in Square-Enix a company that now recognizes what made them popular and capitalizes on it to no end. Does anyone remember all the different games that capitalized on FFVII? I’m talking about movies, cameos, hidden bosses, prequels, spin-offs, and a variety of other paraphernalia to gain money off of their biggest hit. I think these things made me apprehensive to let myself get caught up in the FFVII fandom. This is why I probably stuck to less-popular, but no less decent-good RPG’s. But, I will not cast a stone at this game just yet. I’m going to hold out and hope that fans come out satisfied. That I am proven wrong in my skepticism, and this game truly surpasses the nostalgia colored glasses that it appears to have placed on the fans.

I said earlier I would elaborate on what I meant by modelling myself after Vyse. You see Vyse was a hero of a pretty generic, but truly enjoyable RPG called Eternal Arcadia in Japan. He was a hero born in an age where Cloud and Sephiroth had become the archetypal RPG hero that everyone wanted to emulate. But, the developers of the game decided to make Vyse different in this regard. He was optimistic, brave, gave hell of a speech, and never surrendered in the face of impossibility (which led him to eventually become The Legendary Sky Pirate). In those days of my life I did not have a lot of certainty. I never lacked material things in my life, but it was a less than ideal environment for a teenager to be raised in. To see someone that was so full of life (despite the irony that he wasn’t real) was probably something I truly needed. He became my hero, the one character that I could see myself emulating for the rest of my life. This was the same reason I couldn’t relate to Cloud, he was broody, angst-filled (yes, I know he overcame these aspects eventually) which was not something I wanted to become. So while the bright and uncertain world in the age of exploration of Arcadia simply appealed to me; Gaia did not have the same impact with its earlier stages being filled with garbage and misery (I had enough misery in my life as it was). I sometimes think that Skies of Arcadia had such an impact on me that it was the reason I became a sailor. This makes me wonder if the other fans of the game saw the same appeal as I did. I hope that anyone who reads these words tries to find a copy of the game and play it. If you do try to get everything you can it’s one of the few RPG’s I have invested over a thousand hours into and completed 100% (something I’ve only done on platformers and GoldenEye 007 before). It’s not going to change anyone’s life at this point, but it’s a nice change of pace if you’re used to the other styles of RPG’s.

I’ll finish with one last statement. There is a saying that certain people follow which states (and I paraphrase this) “It’s not about the destination, but the journey to get there”. Life has a funny way of giving people the results they did not expect, and sometimes the end result has barely any connection to the path taken. I’ve taken this to heart and tried to live my life with the expectation that it might change in the blink of an eye. But, until the day my life ends; I will continue to enjoy the ride for as long as I can. I will continue to game in order to explore the lives which others have created for these characters that helped shape us during our development. But, most importantly , I will continue to utilize my experiences in order to improve my life, and that of others which have not had the fortune (no matter how small) that I’ve had the privilege to enjoy.

This article is copyright of the original writer.

If Nintendo doesn’t learn from history it’s doomed to repeat it.

Nintendo finally had their E3 presentation today, expectations were high especially after the one they made last year. But, what can I say about it that has not already been said by the multitude of reviewers and graders out there? I will answer that with a resounding “not much” *shrugs*.  As I said it’s been mentioned before and it was quirky, cute and very much like Nintendo. I honestly did not know what I was getting into when I first saw the intro and couldn’t not think of much except how terrifying those Muppet’s were to me.

It appears to me, however, that this years’ presentation harkens back to a dark age of gaming called the Nintendo E3 2008 presentation of Wii Music (does anyone else remember that bomb? No? Good!) If you don’t remember I will provide a link here that you can follow (for the safety of your mental health please don’t click on it). In that years’ presentation Nintendo showcased many “casual” game titles and barely anyone had any excitement for it. It was an extremely rough year for them and 2007 was not much better either. I can’t help, but see the parallels between 2008 and the one we saw today on June, 6th, 2015. What parallels were these? Well, I’m going to list them:

  • The lack of heavy-hitting titles being announced with specific release dates.
  • The non-awe inspiring sequels such as
  • The lack of good third-party support. Both of these presentations have about five titles that were not first-party titles.
  • Both had an Animal Crossing title that appears to be underwhelming with gimmicks (The Wii-Speak and the Animal Crossing Amiibos)
  • The cringe worthy presentations (those puppets!!!!) (that Wii Music!!!!).
  • The lack of surprises and subsequent excitement that comes with that.
  • Lack of emphasis placed on actual game-play.
  • Surprise announcements for games that nobody really wants (Wii Music/ Metroid: Galactic Federation)

There are certainly more things in common with these two.  But, the most apparent aspect of this is that Nintendo did not learn from their mistakes and successes of past years. During their E3 2014 presentation Nintendo won over a lot of people. They made an excellent effort to show the new up and coming titles for the WII U with titles such as Smash Brothers 4 and Splatoon! It seemed like Nintendo could do no wrong and they “won” E3 (again, you can’t win at something which isn’t a competition), but they had to do this. Nintendo was in an extremely dire position at the time the Wii U was not doing well, and they needed to push back hard in order to gain some of the shares that had  been lost.  The scenes in that presentation were extremely humorous with Reggie and Iwata fighting only for the Amiibo Mario to take the stage was simply laugh/smile worthy. But, it seems like Nintendo loves to take one step forward and two steps back.  This is what brought Nintendo to the point they are at today.

It is said that too much of a good thing can be bad. It’s also said that when you try to make something that appeals to everyone it will come out milquetoast. Nintendo tried to please everyone with something similar to what they had last year and it just fell flat, they practically handed Sony and Microsoft a red carpet and said “you’re going to need this”. The jokes were not as funny, the games were nothing to be surprised at, they presented games that nobody had any interest in (I’m looking at you Metroid: Galactic Federation) It was simply bland and lack any of the spices which make life exciting.  I gave my spiel on gimmicks yesterday and I’m probably one of the least excited people in the world to hear about the Amiibos for Skylanders and Animal Crossing. But, for the sake of brevity let us hit a play by play of each of the titles announced.

Star Fox Zero: I could probably call myself a fan of the Star Fox Series. While I always try to look at things objectively I will say I typically ignore some of the series short-comings as part of my fanaticism. This isn’t to say that I will overlook everything. Star Fox Command was a piece of garbage, and Star Fox Adventures should have remained Dinosaur Planet (the less we speak of this title the better). Star Fox Assault fared somewhat better with their cinematic scenes and wing-rider moments (however, the parts on land without the Landmaster were extremely annoying). This game, however looks amazing the graphics look crisp, the voices from the N64 are back and I’m super excited to hear those guys reprising their roles. The multiple types of vehicles will probably raise the amount of replay value since Star Fox games are usually heavy on the re-playability.  But, the aiming mechanics for the cockpit view have me a bit apprehensive and I will not make a call on this game until it has been played in my console. Kudos to Nintendo for trying to give life back to their Wii U pad this certainly seems like an interesting mechanic to a game, but it might just make playing the game a nightmare. Hopefully Nintendo realizes that we simply want the on-rails shooter mechanics and allow for a 3rd person view at all times with an optional view from the cockpit for those who choose to play that way. All in all I would give this game a try before calling it dead on arrival.

Skylanders SuperChargers: This is not my cup of tea at all. I will not make a call because this game is simply not where I fall into the target demographics. I’m happy Nintendo let Activision create their own Amiibo’s which I have no interest in. I hope that whoever they are aiming this game to actually enjoys it, and they get a full blown legitimately good game.

Zelda Tri Force Heroes: This game looks fun, it reminds me back to the days of the Four Swords Adventures. It has the multiplayer co-op mechanics. If I’m correct it also has online which is great for someone who is constantly abroad like me. I honestly can’t wait for the game because it looks like its going to be so much fun to play with my friends. The puzzles in the game seem familiar and the boss battles might be interesting. The totem mechanics is just ripe for messing/trolling with my buddies and playing pranks with each other. The dress-up mechanics with new abilities is also something that I can’t wait to try out for myself. I love my games to be fun and lighthearted because my job often comes with a lot of heartache. Nintendo might be onto something extremely enjoyable with this title.

Hyrule Warriors Legend: I played the game on the WII U. Admittedly I had a lot of fun with the game, but the lack of online severely hampered the re-playability and once I was done with the story I never looked back. The new characters seem like fun to play with except for the King of the Red Lions, who transforms into a boat (o.0) for his combo attacks.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force: This is probably the game that is catching the most flak in the entire presentation at this moment. It’s so awful it actually got a petition for cancellation started by someone on the internet. This is very sad for one particular reason though, if Nintendo had not tacked on the Metroid Prime title to it then perhaps it wouldn’t have been hated as it is right now. It’s not fair to say that if it had been a standalone title with no connection to Metroid this title would have still failed to achieve some merit of excitement. But, as it stands Nintendo dropped the ball royally and now has to face determining what to do with a title that nobody wants because it took the spot of a game that was actually wanted (aka an actual title with Samus in it). As a new IP this would have had potential. However, as part of the extended Metroid universe all I can think of is Halo: ODST (and well all know how that turned out -_-).

Fire Emblem: This game has me excited. I am a huge fan of the series Fire Emblem and I enjoyed Awakening quite a bit. But, the whole 2 games for one has me extremely worried and I hope that the extra price is truly worth the money. I held out on buying Awakening until I found it at half-price, so I don’t think buying one and a half games for the price of two is truly worth it. I’m sincerely hoping this changes as the title releasing and it truly justifies the purchase. The storyline for the game does sound very intriguing, but the footage shown on the presentation did not leave much to work with.

Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem: Some of the online critics call this game weaboo bait, and I can see where they might be coming from. It really does look like this game will appeal to the to the heavy anime fanatics. But, I say give it a chance since the Shin Megami Tensei series has a pretty good record, and all this brings to the table is a few of the Fire Emblem characters changed into zombies (I mean seriously look at Chrom those eyes!). The introduction with the Japanese song called Reincarnation on one of the previous Directs was a lot more epic though.

Xenoblade Chronicles X: I played the original Xenoblade Chronicles on the 3DS, and frankly it was quite an enjoyable eastern RPG. However,  We didn’t see any gameplay in the presentation and I was sorely disappointed by this factor. The game has been released in Japan and we’re expecting it in the west coast during the holiday season the least we could have hoped for was some scenes of the actual game, but this was too much to ask. Hopefully this game

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer: Take Animal Crossing and remove everything that makes it fun and enjoyable insert a home designing simulator and call it a game. Nintendo decided that the best thing to do with this IP was not remake AC:NL into the Wii U, but make a game with all of the characters and none of the charm.

Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival: This game could not be any more of a gimmick if you wrote it on the title (and they did it’s inside the amiibo). The heavy emphasis on the Amiibo support plus the lack of apparent excitability factor make me truly worried for this title. Hopefully this game is only like 10 dollars and there’s only 4 Amiibo so they can equate to 60 dollars at worst. This game is a stain on an otherwise fine series. Nintendo truly dropped the ball here.

Yoshi’s Wooly World: We had one of the designers speak on this game. She showed some really nice toys and designs of the enemies made of yarn. While I appreciated how happy she seemed while speaking of this game, we did not get anything we hadn’t seen before in the previous Directs. I was extremely disappointed to see this game again since I thought it would have been released already.

Yo-Kai Watch: A series that has picked up a lot of steam in Japan and I actually had some friends that recently transfer from there show me how popular the series is to children in Japan. While the series does look very quirky and Japanese it simply reminds me of a combination between Pokémon/Devil Survivor. I was excited about this game a year ago, but now the excitement has faded and I’m simply stuck waiting for it to release in order to judge it. You capture ghost in different locations and use them for battle (haven’t seen that concept before a million times).

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam: A heavy hitter in Nintendo’s lineup this game looked amazingly fun. The game doesn’t have stickers!!! That was a major flaw in the last game of the series, and this one actually seems to bring back the heavier RPG elements. I did not play Dream Team or Bowser’s Inside Story. But, I’m excited to see Paper Mario characters once again in this series. The series is pretty fun and I can’t wait to try out this game. Way to go Nintendo sometimes you can really knock it out of the ball park.  I was really excited to see Luigi being chased by the chain-chomp? Only to use Paper Plane Mario to dodge the attack! It’s this kind of moments that I hope to see more of in the game when it finally releases.

Mario Tennis: It’s Mario Tennis and I didn’t see anything noteworthy here. If this is your type of game then go for it. I’m not a big fan of the Mario Sports Series.

Super Mario Maker: Let me preface with this statement. Mario Maker looked amazing at the Nintendo World Championship. Whoever on the development team designed the stages utilized in that competition deserves a pay raise and a pat in the back. I was at the edge of my seat the entire time while the players competed in it. I guarantee you if they had showed the crazy things you could do in the game instead of the story of how the stages were made it would have left a bigger mark than simply a sheet of paper on another one.  We didn’t come to watch game history, we came to get hyped up for these games and this direct simply failed to deliver in a significant form. Mario Maker has so much potential, people have been developing stages for Mario that are simply insane for years (look up Kaizo Mario) the fact that Nintendo acknowledge the existence for this type of game is incredible enough, but the potential is limitless. If people put in their best efforts to make some incredible levels this game will be played for years with people finding ways to abuse mechanics in order to speed run insane levels with a degree of expertise only a truly dedicated player can achieve. I have no doubt Nintendo has put a lot of love into this game, and I hope it succeeds because at this point the company needs it to be a hit.

Finally some parting words: Nintendo dropped the ball on this Direct. I was disappointed and if I had to give it a score I would give it a 4/5 out of 10 at best. I just didn’t have anything make me excited. No surprises and just more ways for them to drain my wallet of it’s hard earned cash. It seems Iwata is aware of the failure that this direct was. Perhaps they will address these issues in the next one and will put our minds at ease. Until then Nintendo, I hope you are prepared for an uphill battle.

This article is copyright of the original writer.