Scathing Take on Goblin Slayer

Goblin Slayer


If you’ve ever played a D&D campaign or raided a cave in a fantasy RPG, than you’ve probably had an encounter with goblins. Not much of a threat, yeah? Perhaps not to hero with inflated experience – to traveler with no home to defend. But to one man, goblins are a plague, and he is the cure. He hunts them down regardless of distance, compensation, or risk to himself, and no Goblin, no matter how small, is safe.

He is the Goblin Slayer.

 

Scathing Take on NATO

Following the end of World War II, there were immediate concerns around the potential for expansion in the communist controlled regions of Eastern Europe. Russia had seized territory once controlled by Germany, and neighboring nations feared Soviet forces pushing west in an expansionist campaign. Western nations knew they need to bolster a new defense and empower their allies. In April of 1948, the Marshall Plan, otherwise known as the European Recovery Act was signed by President Truman, affording $15,000,000,000.00 (1.5 Trillion today) to friendly European nations. Those being [Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom], to aid in the post-war recovery effort. With this gesture of solidarity, the bill’s recipients were provided the means to rebuild their infrastructure and feed their people and spared countries that bordered Soviet territory from taking desperate measures – such permitting occupation by the Soviets in exchange for resources.

In February of 1948, Soviet entities in communist-occupied Czechoslovakia sponsored a coup that usurped that countries democratically elected government, bringing the entire country firmly under the control of the Soviet Union. With their concerns verified by the aggressive overthrow of Czechoslovakia, representatives of the United States and those of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, converged in Washington DC in April of 1949 to sign the North Atlantic Treaty; a mutual defense pact against Soviet aggression and expansion into their boarders. NATO was born. Six years later, as its fractured capital finally recovered finally recovered, West Germany joined NATO and built up its armed forces. The Soviets had warned against this, and in turn, created its own mutual defense alliance, the Warsaw Pact, among its satellite states just two weeks later. Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia , the “German Democratic Republic”, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Tensions remained high between the hostile alliances for decades, nearly escalating to the point of a third world war dozens of times. Ultimately, however, it was the Warsaw Pact of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, faced with greater internal strife and mismanagement, that buckled first. Being forced to put down two attempted revolts in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968 respectively, the meltdown of Chernobyl’s reactor number four, and being forced into a space-race with the US and its superior economy, the patchwork empire began to crumble. The standoff came to an end in 1991 when the USSR disintegrated and was forced to withdraw from its occupied satellite states.

So…we won, right? The Soviets lost, East and West Germany were reunited, Russia has a new government, mission accomplished. What’s NATO doing now? Just hanging out?

Well, no.

Right now, supporters of the organization assure that NATO is still as necessary as it’s ever been; that NATO deters military action from hostile actors, that it affords intelligence agencies a fluid network for Intel sharing, and that it, in general, creates a sense of fellowship between its members. And while that all may be true to some extent, I can’t honestly say that these supposed net-positives really counteract that organizations shortcomings adequately. Let me explain.

On September 11th of 2001, NATO’s Article 5 – the mutual defense bit – was invoked for the very first time in NATO’s history; at which point military assets from…two other NATO members [UK and Germany]…Jesus, guys, don’t all get up at once. I know more came out later, but come on! Now, it’s great and all that other countries would mobilize to assist an alley in Afghanistan, but my question is this: Was it crucial that we receive help in that fight? Could we not have done this alone? No. I’m fairly confident to the point of absolute certainty that the US could have handled things on its own. Never mind the fact that that we’re STILL THERE.

Now there’s a lot of evidence surrounding 911 that could be used to argue whether or not the invasion into Afghanistan was justified or not, but I think it’s safe to say that the way all that was handled could have been done differently than nearly 20 years of military occupation. Like, say, heavy sanctions and a travel ban? That’s just me though.

Aside from 911, there have been numerous recent attacks on NATO members that HAVEN’T invoked any kind of military action, as well as attacks on NON-NATO members that have, so I guess I’m just a bit confused as to what requisites an attack needs to qualify for a unified international beat-down or not?

Alleged Chemical attack in Syria (not in NATO) supposedly perpetrated by its own government: Yup

Alleged chemical attack in England (NATO OG) supposedly perpetrated by the very nation NATO was established to defend against: Nope

Any of this adding up to you?

Not to mention you have another bloated and ineffective international body essentially importing and defending enemy combatants – but that’s a topic for another video.

B-b-But Scathing, Russia does other bad stuff too! They stole Crimea from Ukraine and they’re fighting right now!

Hmm, well it true Russia’s claimed Crimea as their own, but if I recall there was a referendum that was voted on.

But it wasn’t legitimate Scathing!

I don’t know about that; was Brexit not a legitimate referendum? Was the push for California to be three states not a legit referendum? Was the signing of the declaration of independence not a legit referendum? We had a lot of people here who wanted to remain a British colony, you know. I don’t doubt that there were multiple hands at play in that situation, but if we’re being real about it that’s Ukraine’s business. Also, they aren’t in NATO, so, you know.

As far as the point about intel sharing goes – eh – I don’t know, aren’t there just more chances of sensitive intelligence falling on the floor the more hands it gets passed to? Isn’t the whole point of clandestine operations that as few people as possible know about it? Just seems a bit counter intuitive to me.

And the point about friendship – I mean, if someone was paying ¾ of my bills and I was paying less than I said I would, and I used more AC, water, electricity and internet than they did, I think I’d see them as more of a gullible sucker than a real friend, figuratively speaking, of course.

So what can be done? Is there any hope of making NATO as useful as it used to be? There could be, but I’m not optimistic.

For starters, It’d help if all members actually pay their 2%’s worth of their GDP into the organization like they’re supposed to, and I think their should be consequences when those payments aren’t made: Like, say, ejection from NATO. You wouldn’t NOT pay a security firm and expect them to protect you. To that same point, I think nations that are actually exceeding their 2% commitment – of which there are five – should cut back down to 2% – We in the US are paying close to 4%, followed by Greece, Britain, Estonia, and Poland. No reason we five should be subsidizing the other twenty-three.

Second, it probably won’t hurt to have NATO consider the legitimacy of its current and future members. As is stands, right now, the door for membership into NATO is open for anyone who wants in. Meaning that – in theory –  anyone worried about being attacked by anyone else could join and then sit back and let their wars be fought for them for, what amounts to, a small fee.

Just an aside: I don’t like the idea of soldiers, wherever they’re from, fighting and dying on behalf of other countries – countries they didn’t swear to defend, countries that aren’t their home or have even the slightest thing to do with them. If you’re a country that can’t defend itself or at the very least, reciprocate the aid given to you dollar for dollar, than you should have no expectation that help will come. Looking at you, Montenegro.

Also, in the case that a member country is engaged in questionable dealings with our supposed enemies (all of them), they’re membership should be called into question. Most notably, Germany. It recently came to light that Germany is more or less economically dependent upon Russia and has a fuel pipeline between them. And I’m supposed to believe that Germany needs to be protected from Russia? Is that some kind of joke?

In addition, I think it’s worth considering where exactly the money for NATO is going. If Russia is still the big bad as so many seem to think, than wouldn’t it make sense if all that money goes straight into countries like Poland, like Estonia, like Norway, that are geographically next door to Russia? Wouldn’t they be the first line of defense? Do they not have a bone to pick with Russia for invading their lands before, during, and after World War 2: The Greater War?

And finally, if the objective here really is about defending the world from communism rather than just Soviet-communists, than I think a few things need to happen to help with this. NATO members ought to take a close look at their own governments and identify groups representing and sponsoring communist-style policies and candidates – otherwise you’d just essentially be doing the work of the USSR’s ghost for them. With all the ass-backward politics in our midst’s you’d almost think the West actually lost the Cold War.

But again, that’s a topic for later.

And isn’t there this huge Communist dictatorship with a one party government that’s hostile to everyone? I think it funnels money to North Korea, hacks every business on the planet, censors its internet, controls its media, killed tens of millions of its own people, harvests organs from prisoners, steals billions in intellectual property, ignores trade regulations, populates more than any other country, invades Tibet, Threatens Anime-Land and ships in international waters, builds artificial islands in the South China Sea and fills it with military equipment, lobbies in DC, owns multiple Hollywood studios, and eats dogs? No, no that be. Why would any responsible country let such a massive threat fester and grow like that?

And the last thing I can think of, if all else fails, would be to just leave.

There’s no reason to keep pouring time and money into something that doesn’t work like it should. Some brainlets might suggest that the reason something bad isn’t working is because we just haven’t put enough money into it, that thing will magically turn around if you just spend more on it. No. No, that is stupid. Those are stupid people. We here in the US have the biggest, baddest, military there’s ever been. We don’t need protecting. And if most of our so-called allies want to ride us all day, well, then I guess they don’t need protecting either.

Scathing Take on Kavanaugh

If you’ve been following the news cycle for the past few months or even just the past few weeks or even days, then you have undoubtedly heard the name Kavanaugh at one point or another. Yale grad, not that that’s anything to be proud of in 2018, top of his class, mountains of writings and scholarly works, professional reputation that most people in his field could only dream of having, though perhaps not anymore.

After – and only after – he’d been cleared on his judicial record in front of the senate committee and everyone with a television, a certain lady senator from the most esteemed paradise of California, decided to turn her key and deploy what could be considered the most effective and sinister political weapon of the modern age. A groping accusation.

There was breathless coverage of the “leaked” accuser before there was a hearing for both Kavanaugh and one Christine Ford to state their cases. Ford said he did it – and not much else. All of the people she claimed could back her story said they couldn’t – either because they couldn’t themselves remember or their recollection varied from her own. She isn’t sure when, or where the alleged assault took place, be claimed to know with her incorruptible hippocampus that Kavanaugh had tried to rape and kill her.

Kavanaugh said he didn’t do it – in fiery fashion. He echoed a sitting Justice, Clarence Thomas, in calling the hearing a “national disgrace” and that the accusation alone had tarnished his reputation beyond repair. He was pretty damn convincing. About as convincing as one can be while defending one’s self against unsubstantiated claims that can’t be proven or disproven.

So what happened next? Well, your rationale might have you believe the whole debacle was seen for what it was – that Ford really didn’t have anything except her word. No evidence, no corroboration from witness. And for some, that did get through. But others saw fit to then attack his “demeanor” and “temperament”. That somehow becoming emotional about the fact that a bunch of goons are trying to ruin you with a bunch of nonsense claims that don’t go anywhere and don’t hold up to scrutiny or a seventh FBI intervention is somehow disqualifying.

This entire sad episode has several ramifications.

One: The extreme left is complicit in the subversion of the precedent of “Innocent until proven guilty” and that the burden of evidence is on the accuser.

In order to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they are willing to wave basic jurisprudence to get their way. That anyone making any claim at anytime from however long-ago, with or without evidence can derail someone’s life and career. Unless you agree with them.

Two: Claims like Ford’s are less likely to be taken seriously.

The #MeToo movement has made a lot of headlines in the past year and has taken down some big names. Not many arrests – for the same reasons as this – but a lot of resignations. The movement that began as a simple calling with a simple and noble goal of women (mainly in the entertainment industry) to voice their cases as soon as they happen while evidence is hot and before a cover-up can take place, has apparently been weaponized into a vehicle to take down undesirables with a point of a finger. This makes it very difficult for real victims to come forward out of fear of being paraded around and being made a spectacle of by one side and outright dismissed by the other depending on which way the pendulum is swinging. #MeToo, in its current state, seems to have had the exact opposite of its intended effect over the past few weeks.

Three: Concept of “credibility” in question.

Everyone was so quick to declare how “credible” Ford was, despite the conflicting testimonials from her so called witnesses, the failure of her and her lawyers to present any evidence, and the gaps in her memory. So this is the standard that makes a supposed witness credible? A sad face? A desire to believe they are correct? It’s a real swan song to the law as a profession if this is what it’s come to.

Four: Kavanaugh is pissed.

If someone tried to crucify you in the news and then wanted you to rule with an open mind regarding their cases, would you? Could you, at that point? No. The guy’s probably going to polish that newly minted chip on his shoulder every day for the rest of his professional life – which means he’ll shoot down cases that are important to the left with impunity for the next 30 to 40 years. In short, they created a monster, and one they can’t stop.

Scathing Take on Absurd Super Powers

So, superpowers.

Despite the frequent gripes I have with the portrayal and handling of superpowers, am also a life-time fan of the super-hero genre – but stop short of obsessive comic trivia and the cosplay. It’s typically the little oversights and lack of balance and power-scaling that causes the most issues for many series, and for me personally. It’s because I care so much for these things that I give the superhero-genre it a hard time.

That said, I’ve come to appreciate well written powers, ones that have drawbacks and limitations – which can be surpassed with intense practice and conditioning.

But I’ve also come to recognize bad ones; ones that have no limitations or consequences to the user, ones that disregard established in-universe rules to even function, and ones that are not paired with supplementary traits to aid in their function.

Now that I’ve made myself look like the good guy, let’s take a look at our first victim.

Mind-Reading

This has always been a favorite of mine, though knowing how people really felt about me would likely result in more pain that amusement.

Now, I’m not talking about those stupid omnipotent psychic types that can manipulate gravity and lift mountains on top of being able to read your mental-bio in less than a second. That’s dumb, and I’m pretty sure the people who write those characters are victims of the “10% brainpower” meme and don’t actually know what a psychic is.

Mind-reading characters are subversive and lowkey, tasked with gathering information rather than flashy battle sequences. Given the shadowy nature of their abilities, most mind-readers are portrayed as an antagonizing force – often seen violently probing minds for precious secrets. But how are they doing this?

Very rarely is any kind of explanation given as to what a mind-reader is actually doing when they use their power – but that’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes a story will try and provide an answer that sounds believable but then immediately disregards its own rules (you’ll see what I mean two powers from now).

But when we’re talking about the ability to read thoughts it’s often explained away as the ability to receive a person’s residual brainwaves within a certain range and convert those waves into comprehensible speech or images in the mind. And that the reader in question can effortlessly pull sensitive information for a mind without the target even knowing, unless they want them to.

If this sounds like an ability with too few drawbacks or risks, that’s because it is.

Not only that, but it’s also common for the targets of mind readers to be conveniently mulling over important information in the clearest and most least ambiguous language ever.

And don’t even get me started on those instances where mind-reading is integrated into combat. The amount of time it would take to read someone’s mind to figure out their next move, think of a counter, and then act, is not at all practical. You’d eat three blows before you got done overthinking the first one. Unless the goal is to figure out their first move and counter, or to prevent a surprise attack from a hidden weapon, or the battle is a board-game, you’re honestly better off not using it.

Despite the near impunity that many with this ability seem to enjoy in less fleshed-out franchises, I have seen mind-reading done well.

As I mentioned before, I much prefer powers that aren’t consequence free, and mindreading has some good limitations.

One of the essential weakness to take into account would be all the surrounding thoughts from other people you might not be able to filter out. It would not, realistically, be comparable to focusing on one voice in a crowd. There probably wouldn’t be any distinct markers that differentiate one person’s thoughts from another.

When you think, do you use your own voice? Do you think only with words, without any form of visualization? No. You would be subjected to a bombardment of nonsense information with no capacity to make sense of any of it.

Which is why you’d want the ability to scan thought via direct contact. It’s not as covert as long-range mind-reading but it gets around the interference of other thoughts; essentially turning the nerves in your hands into electrodes for Electroencephalography.

Alternatively, if you’d like to avoid a great deal of expositing on the inner workings of a reader’s abilities, Empaths are often overlooked but can be very effective.

Their powers work by detecting the emotional states of their targets rather than any specific thoughts, effectively turning them into human-lie detectors. Immunity to deception is a very powerful ability, particularly in the hands of a hero.

Though you’d basically be faced with a game of 20 questions every time you interrogated someone, but as long as they can understand and consider your questions, they don’t even need to answer you verbally. Empaths might not be able to pull info by force, but they will get answers eventually.

And if you’re really serious about making the most true-to-life mind-reader that doesn’t force the audience to believe strictly factitious footnotes of the physical world in order for the power to make sense in universe, there are tens of thousands of documents, case studies and old volumes attesting to not only the existence of similar abilities, but their inner workings. Needless to say, such abilities would require some modest info-dumping on the audience – but nobody can fault you for doing your homework, can they?

Invulnerability

Invulnerability, Indescribability, Imperviousness, call it what you will. I call it a lie.

Unlike mind-reading, I don’t much care for indescribable characters that supposedly can’t be injured in most cases; and that’s simply because it almost always turns out to not be true.

Some great threat that feels no pain and can’t be beaten is either being set up for someone stronger to show up and kick their ass – in which case it’s a narrative device, a drum-roll for someone else’s off-screen power-up. or only a threat until their one obscure weakness is discovered.

In reality, someone who’s seemingly “indescribable” is really just boasting a high damage threshold due to immense physical strength and resilience. It doesn’t matter how scuffed the paint on a tank gets when you throw rocks at it, you need to find the guy with the missiles.

In other words, apparent damage immunity is usually a bi-product of another power, rather than the true power itself. That said, if a character is made of meat, being truly impervious is all the less likely unless there’s some kind of aura shenanigans at play. In which case, their immense defense has a time limit and is much more viable.

And if the “Just hit them harder” solution doesn’t work, then there’s only ever one other solution – seal’m up!

It’s just so predictable.

Despite its hindering predictability, there are some creative work-arounds to improve this power – by making it weaker (I promise that makes sense). I’m no big fan of the obscure “one weakness” troupe, so that’s off the table. Rather, I’ve found it more effective to use less direct methods to deal with these kinds of characters, seeing as how any direct method fails by design. Toxins, infections, and asphyxiation are two of the most promenade solutions in this respect. While their bodies’ exteriors are damage-proof whether this is due to some ki-field or diamond hardness, an apt solution would be to attack form within.

Another underutilized alternative to the invulnerability shtick is the lesser known intangibility – or being unable to be touched by taking on a nebulous form that is virtually impervious, but has the added drawback of being equally harmless to others. Making it more strategic and in need of good timing when used.

Gigantification and Minimization

Now we’re really getting into some nonsense. Gigantification and Minimization sometimes come paired together but it’s usually one or the other, with gigantification being more common. The advantages of becoming large do, after all, come to mind far easier than those of shrinking.

 

Growing to an immense size tends to bring increased strength and durability, but is usually offset by slower, more cumbersome movement. Becoming small on the other hand offers all of the opposite perks and weaknesses – greater speed and mobility paired with the chance you might be stepped on or eaten. Good stuff. It’s balanced. But it has one terrible flaw, the explanation.

Okay, the distance between atoms is expanding or contracting. Alright, fine. I can buy that. That’s a nice, sound explanation that I hadn’t heard before. They don’t explain HOW the quantum juice actually does that but I’m glad they don’t even try. They just would have dug themselves a bigger hole.

Having something grow or shrink using the method describe does not, in any way, effect the mass of the subject in question, thereby not effecting the weight. However, we can clearly see that a weight disparity is snuck into the action sequences while the directors hoped and prayed I wasn’t watching.

It would be one thing for the movie to just disregard its own rules outright (which it does), but it’s actually worse than that, in certain scenes AM maintains his mass – which is how his punches have any weight behind them – and in other’s he’s riding a fucking ant. They just follow the rules when it looks cool!

But what’s more, when he’s huge he apparently weighs many tons, but is he stronger? His muscles are bigger, but they’re aren’t stronger. His bones aren’t denser, yet he manages to stand and walk. He should be collapsing into himself like this.

But the Quantum Realm, Oh my god, the Quantum Realm. It wasn’t enough to blow off the pseudo-science with weight change, they had to go and make atoms even smaller than atoms too. Unreal.

As much as I hate to say it, there is no good in-universe explanation to support the existence of this ability. The solution: Don’t give one.

I don’t mind when a power lacks a reason behind why it works, that’s fine. But don’t give me a reason, and then immediately forget what you told me minutes later.

One method of Gigantification that does work is fixed-gigantification; in which a character has all of the enhanced strength to survive their own massive frame, but is locked into that size forever. Tragic, but plausible in a more realistic setting.

Otherwise, just don’t breathe a word about what’s going on with it.

“You’re being too nick-picky, Scathing. You just made this video to pick on Disney and show Mt Lady’s ass in the thumbnail, didn’t you?”

Well, that is all true, but it’s not the whole truth. For there is one power, so outrageous, so indefensibly stupid, that no science or magic can justify its being.

Time Stop

Time-stop is the dumbest most absurd power, there has ever been. If you take nothing else away from this video, know that every time you’ve seen this ability, you were deceived at the moment of its activation.

It is not possible to move in stopped time: The air surrounding your body would stay in place, trapping you in the exact position you were in. The only advantage this could possibly provide, granted you were somehow conscious, would be providing you an unlimited time to think. Reducing time stop to nothing more than FTL information processing – a Jimmy Neutron style Brain Blast.

“But let’s say you could move.”

The force of the air against your body would atomize your flesh…

“Well, let’s say air resistance isn’t a factor at all, and that your body can function normally.”

The force you apply to the ground as you walk, not to mention the blows you would land on your enemy, would be incalculable in their impact, causing impossible destruction on an intergalactic scale. Your limited mass multiplied by infinite acceleration, equals the end of all things.

“W…well, let’s say the force you apply in stopped-time is the same as when time is moving?”

You would be blinded. Each step forward would result in a rush of retinal stimulation, resulting in blank whiteness and might even cause your eyes to burst from overheating. Any step backward and you would see nothing but blackness. Moving infinitely faster than light as time is in stasis would result in a lightless, vacuous void in your wake, pushing it aside like the air as you move.

Is it getting through yet?

Time stop is the single most absurd power because no being could plausibly survive using it. Any that could don’t need it, because if infinite force cannot harm you nothing can, and nobody could beat you anyway. Except maybe the aforementioned toxins. Never underestimate DOT, kids.

Time-stop is a non-starter but there is an alternative: Time-Dilation.

The ability to adjust the rate of time around yourself, essentially moving at normal speed while the world around you moves slower or sometimes faster.

Super speed is, often times, actually time-dealation without realizing it. But depending on the speed involved, a character would likely require the appropriate paring of super strength and resilience to use it without flying apart.

And that, boys and girls, are absurd powers that, even in the realm of fantastical feats, don’t really make sense. Just be sure to keep your explanations arcane or generally vague and anything is possible!

I’m Scathing Take, and I’m not sorry for this.

AdEpt: Fracture

So what you’re telling me is, I can take the blurry, out of focus pictures of nothing on my phone, send them to a group of people who may or may not be storing said pictures, and get a fragile glass printout of the pictures to litter my walls with? Or externalize a moment with a woman I might come to despise a month down the road? That’s amazing.

Obvious sass aside, I do think there is one unexplored avenue here I hadn’t thought of while making my video. Yes, most people who order from Fracture are more than likely sending off horrifically low quality pictures that aren’t composed, angled, or lit correctly, but nobody said you needed to use your photos. Catch my drift?

I see impressive artwork all over the web, and sometimes think to myself, “Wow, I’d hang that in my bathroom.” Fracture is essentially – with or without its knowledge – operating bootlegged printout service that can get you a high-quality 12×8 of anything you want. They probably have restrictions on anything too grotesque (I’d hate to be the one to check the inbox at HQ) but I doubt that much is done about printing glass copies of Vintage Masters Black Lotus.

Despite the impression you might have gotten from my tone in the video, I actually quite like the idea here. My only real gripe was the way in which it is most likely used – printing frivolous photos of yourself for your room like some son of Narcissus.  I’ve never used Fracture myself, but from my initial impression and after considering the possibilities, I rate fracture well.

I should probably work on a rating system…

Check them out in the meantime.

Episode 1: Scathing Take on NATO

 

Hello, everybody. And thank you for being here with me today as the Scathing Take brand embarks on its maiden voyage into hotly contested waters. I am your host, Scathing Take.

In this very special and very first installment, I will be giving my unfiltered but mostly scripted opinion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; commonly known as NATO.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But Scathing, surely there are more exciting topics to cover, and a coalition of nations can’t possibly hold a dear enough place in your heart to merit being the focus of your very first episode. Can’t you just make a commercial parody or just rail on STAR WARS for 45 minutes?”

Oh, my sweet summer child, thank you. I know. But we can’t always have things as we want them, can we? The fact is that NATO is a relevant topic at the moment, and I, as a slave of the zeitgeist must strike while iron is hot. For there are too many people meandering about the internet who have yet to hear my incessant brand of scrutiny. Besides, technically speaking I’ve already given my YouTube virginity to my most favorite topic of all. Me.

But before we begin, I’d like to make two things clear:

First, this is not a political channel, okay? Granted, this is a channel that discusses political topics every so often because, let’s be honest, politics is a mutant strain of entertainment, and I live to entertain.

Second, I am, by no metric, an expert in…well, pretty much anything. But what even is an expert these days anyway? I’m here to give my two cents on a variety of different things: Movies, games, streams, products, life’s most vexing and haunting questions that rattle the souls of lesser men, and politics. So take me as seriously as you want. You might agree, you might not. Let me know in the comments, if you’re so inclined, or just use your thumb.

Now, with all that in mind, let’s get into the grit.

But first, A little worldbuilding and atmosphere.

Following the end of World War II, there were immediate concerns around the potential for expansion in the communist controlled regions of Eastern Europe. Russia had seized territory once controlled by Germany, and neighboring nations feared Soviet forces pushing west in an expansionist campaign. Western nations knew they need to bolster a new defense and empower their allies. In April of 1948, the Marshall Plan, otherwise known as the European Recovery Act was signed by President Truman, affording $15,000,000,000.00 (1.5 Trillion today) to friendly European nations. Those being [Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom], to aid in the post-war recovery effort. With this gesture of solidarity, the bill’s recipients were provided the means to rebuild their infrastructure and feed their people and spared countries that bordered Soviet territory from taking desperate measures – such permitting occupation by the Soviets in exchange for resources.

In February of 1948, Soviet entities in communist-occupied Czo-ko, Cez-chos, Mmm…Check-osu-Lava-Kia, [Czechoslovakia] sponsored a coup that usurped that countries democratically elected government, bringing the entire country firmly under the control of the Soviet Union. With their concerns verified by the aggressive overthrow of Cheeco-Slaw-Vodka, representatives of the United States and those of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, converged in Washington DC in April of 1949 to sign the North Atlantic Treaty; a mutual defense pact against Soviet aggression and expansion into their boarders. NATO was born. Six years later, as its fractured capital finally recovered finally recovered, West Germany joined NATO and built up its armed forces. The Soviets had warned against this, and in turn, created its own mutual defense alliance, the Warsaw Pact, among its satellite states just two weeks later. Albania, Bulgaria, Chiii-Ko-Slow-Vaki-AAAAA, the “German Democratic Republic”, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

Tensions remained high between the hostile alliances for decades, nearly escalating to the point of a third world war dozens of times. Ultimately, however, it was the Warsaw Pact of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, faced with greater internal strife and mismanagement, that buckled first. Being forced to put down two attempted revolts in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968 respectively, the meltdown of Chernobyl’s reactor number four, and being forced into a space-race with the US and its superior economy, the patchwork empire began to crumble. The standoff came to an end in 1991 when the USSR disintegrated and was forced to withdraw from its occupied satellite states.

So…we won, right? The Soviets lost, East and West Germany are reunited. Russia has a new government, mission accomplished. What’s NATO doing now? Just hanging out?

Well, no.

Right now, supporters of the organization assure that NATO is still as necessary as it’s ever been; that NATO deters military action from hostile actors, that it affords intelligence agencies a fluid network for intel sharing, and that it, in general, creates a sense of fellowship between its members. And while that all may be true to some extent, I can’t honestly say that these supposed net-positives really counteract that organizations shortcomings adequately. Let me explain.

On September 11th of 2001, NATO’s Article 5 – the mutual defense bit – was invoked for the very first time in NATO’s history; at which point military assets from…two other NATO members [UK and Germany]…Jesus, guys, don’t all get up at once. I know more came out later, but come on! Now, it’s great and all that other countries would mobilize to assist an alley in Afghanistan, but my question is this: Was it crucial that we receive help in that fight? Could we not have done this alone? No. I’m fairly confident to the point of absolute certainty that the US could have handled things on its own. Never mind the fact that that we’re STILL THERE.

Now there’s a lot of evidence surrounding 911 that could be used to argue whether or not the invasion into Afghanistan was justified or not, but I think it’s safe to say that the way all that was handled could have been done differently than nearly 20 years of military occupation. Like, say, heavy sanctions and a travel ban? That’s just me though.

Aside from 911, there have been numerous recent attacks on NATO members that HAVEN’T invoked any kind of military action, as well as attacks on NON-NATO members that have, so I guess I’m just a bit confused as to what requisites an attack needs to qualify for a unified international beatdown or not?

Alleged Chemical attack in Syria (not in NATO) supposedly perpetrated by its own government: Yup

Alleged chemical attack in England (NATO OG) supposedly perpetrated by the very nation NATO was established to defend against: Nope

Any of this adding up to you?

Not to mention you have another bloated and ineffective international body essentially importing and defending enemy combatants – but that’s a topic for another video.

B-b-But Scathing, Russia does other bad stuff too! They stole Crimea from Ukraine and they’re fighting right now!

Hmm, well it true Russia’s claimed Crimea as their own, but if I recall there was a referendum that was voted on.

But it wasn’t legitimate Scathing!

I don’t know about that; was Brexit not a legitimate referendum? Was the push for California to be three states not a legit referendum? Was the signing of the declaration of independence not a legit referendum? We had a lot of people here who wanted to remain a British colony, you know. I don’t doubt that there were multiple hands at play in that situation, but if we’re being real about it that’s Ukraine’s business. Also, they aren’t in NATO, so, you know.

As far as the point about intel sharing goes – eh – I don’t know, aren’t there just more chances of sensitive intelligence falling on the floor the more hands it gets passed to? Isn’t the whole point of clandestine operations that as few people as possible know about it? Just seems a bit counter intuitive to me.

And the point about friendship – I mean, if someone was paying ¾ of my bills and I was paying less than I said I would, and I used more AC, water, electricity and internet than they did, I think I’d see them as more of a gullible sucker than a real friend, figuratively speaking, of course.

So what can be done? Is there any hope of making NATO as useful as it used to be? There could be, but I’m not optimistic.

For starters, It’d help if all members actually pay their 2%’s worth of their GDP into the organization like they’re supposed to, and I think their should be consequences when those payments aren’t made: Like, say, ejection from NATO. You wouldn’t NOT pay a security firm and expect them to protect you. To that same point, I think nations that are actually exceeding their 2% commitment – of which there are five – should cut back down to 2% – We in the US are paying close to 4%, followed by Greece, Britain, Estonia, and Poland. No reason we five should be subsidizing the other twenty-three.

*Isn’t Greece broke?*

Second, it probably won’t hurt to have NATO consider the legitimacy of its current and future members. As is stands, right now, the door for membership into NATO is open for anyone who wants in. Meaning that – in theory –  anyone worried about being attacked by anyone else could join and then sit back and let their wars be fought for them for, what amounts to, a small fee.

Just an aside: I don’t like the idea of soldiers, wherever they’re from, fighting and dying on behalf of other countries – countries they didn’t swear to defend, countries that aren’t their home or have even the slightest thing to do with them. If you’re a country that can’t defend itself or at the very least, reciprocate the aid given to you dollar for dollar, than you should have no expectation that help will come. Looking at you, Montenegro.

Also, in the case that a member country is engaged in questionable dealings with our supposed enemies (all of them), they’re membership should be called into question. Most notably, Germany. It recently came to light that Germany is more or less economically dependent upon Russia and has a fuel pipeline between them. And I’m supposed to believe that Germany needs to be protected from Russia? Is that some kind of joke?

In addition, I think it’s worth considering where exactly the money for NATO is going. If Russia is still the big bad as so many seem to think, than wouldn’t it make sense if all that money goes straight into countries like Poland, like Estonia, like Norway, that are geographically next door to Russia? Wouldn’t they be the first line of defense? Do they not have a bone to pick with Russia for invading their lands before, during, and after World War 2: The Greater War?

And finally, if the objective here really is about defending the world from communism rather than just Soviet-communists, than I think a few things need to happen to help with this. NATO members ought to take a close look at their own governments and identify groups representing and sponsoring communist-style policies and candidates – otherwise you’d just essentially be doing the work of the USSR’s ghost for them. With all the ass-backward politics in our midst’s you’d almost think the West actually lost the Cold War.

But again, that’s a topic for later.

And isn’t there this huge Communist dictatorship with a one party government that’s hostile to everyone? I think it funnels money to North Korea, hacks every business on the planet, censors its internet, controls its media, killed tens of millions of its own people, harvests organs from prisoners, steals billions in intellectual property, ignores trade regulations, populates more than any other country, invades Tibet, Threatens Anime-Land and ships in international waters, builds artificial islands in the South China Sea and fills it with military equipment, lobbies in DC, owns multiple Hollywood studios, and eats dogs? No, no that be. Why would any responsible country let such a massive threat fester and grow like that?

And the last thing I can think of, if all else fails, would be to just leave.

There’s no reason to keep pouring time and money into something that doesn’t work like it should. Some brainlets might suggest that the reason something bad isn’t working is because we just haven’t put enough money into it, that thing will magically turn around if you just spend more on it. No. No, that is stupid. Those are stupid people. We here in the US have the biggest, baddest, military there’s ever been. We don’t need protecting. And if most of our so-called allies want to ride us all day, well, then I guess they don’t need protecting either.

Transferable Skills

Some of the things that we can do that we don’t even think about can make us more appealing to employers. Transferable skills are all of those little personal traits, habits, and “life-hacks” that we accumulate throughout our lives. You know, the bullet points in your resume that you had to pick from a pool of generic descriptive words? As the easiest items to generate for an interview, they are also the hardest points to spin into something that sounds impressive. Let’s face it, who isn’t going to say that their organized, hard-working, a team player, creative, and helpful in the workplace? In order to make these points presentable, and maybe come up with a few you hadn’t thought of, it helps to understand that the majority of these transferable skills can be divided into social, organizational, technical, and leadership skills.

Social skills are essentially made up of two things: How you are in dealing with people, and how effectively you can communicate thoughts and ideas (some may just call these communication skills). With regards to how you are with people, are you a people-person? Are you able to sympathize with the issues people have? Do you spend a large portion of your time comfortably in the presence of other human beings? Needless to say, this is a big plus. But it will become evident if you’re lying later on in the job. Communication skills, on the other hand, refer to things like literacy and articulation. Can you write? Can you read (if not, I’m surprised you made it this far down the page)? Are you able to explain how something works in a way that someone who’s unfamiliar can pick it up and understand it? Again, pretty basic stuff. For every social skill you pick, it might help to have a story for each one.

Organizational skills are a big one, but I’d have to say that the two most important ones would have to be time management and ability to meet deadlines. Both of which are fairly nuanced and are predicated by many other essential skills. Can you keep yourself from losing things? Do you check your messages regularly? Do you get back to the people who’ve messaged you in a timely fashion? Are you able to delegate your work time and personal time effectively? These skills have more to do with your own personal habits than anything that is necessary taught to you. Be prepared to give examples of the way you keep yourself organized if and when you’re asked.

Technical skills are practical skills that display the means in which you get your work done as well as what kind of work you can get done. Can you use Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.)? Can you use the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, etc.)? Can you edit video or audio files? Do you know how to operate a forklift? Any and all types of productive industrial know-how that you have fits here.

Lastly, leadership skills. If you’ve never been in a management position, this may be one of the hardest categories to brainstorm for. But even if that’s the case, try and think of qualities that make a good leader that you’d say you have. Are you able to consider multiple options and come to a decision quickly? Do you step up when a volunteer is needed? Do people value your opinion and look to you for guidance in ambiguous situations? Some good places to draw on for leadership examples can be things like roles in a scout group, team sports, or even large group projects in school. Some leaders are born, the rest are forged by circumstance.

The Interview: A Survival Guide

So, after all you did, you’re finally here.

After weeks of phone calls, emails, and long nights scouring online postings, you’ve reached the most arduous, delicate, and decisive trail before you get that shiny new job: The interview. Your hair is combed, your business attire is clean and pressed, and your breath smells like you’re channeling the god of wintergreen. It’s a good thing you brought that extra copy of your resume! You did grab it off the kitchen table, right?

Right?

Job interviews, much like public speaking and academic exams, are a common source of anxiety for many people, and for fair reasons – your future hinging on the outcome of a 30 minute, closed door conversation with a complete stranger? What reason would someone have not to be intimidated? On top of that, the interviewing process is essentially a contest between you and every other person that got the same call that you did. But here’s the bright side, you did get that call to set up an interview. Which means you’ve already beat-out the 50+ people that didn’t get that call. You’ve passed the elimination round, meaning you’re qualified. Now you just need to prove in person that you’re most qualified.

When you ask around for interviewing advice, someone’s liable to tell you to rehearse. Rehearse? Interviews might be as nerve-racking as public speaking for some people, but you’re not reading from a script or memorizing a speech. Interviews are dynamic and can change course in an instant depending on how you answer (or don’t answer) certain questions. That’s not to say, however, that practice will hurt your chances in there – quite the opposite. But rather than grabbing just anyone and making them uncomfortable as you sit across from them (also looking uncomfortable) as they read from a list of questions you handed them, why not find someone who’s actually done some interviewing in their lives? They can give you a more authentic experience and can change up the routine each time to keep you on your toes. No two interviews will be the same, so why should your mock-interviews?

It may only be a 30 or so minute conversation, but you can learn quite a lot about someone in that time; most importantly, how determined they are to land the job – and by extension, how determined they’ll be to keep it. Along with whatever textbook interview questions you’re sure to be asked, a seasoned interviewer is bond to play mind games with you to test your fragility and try to slip you up: They’ll offer you water, offer a handshake in an odd fashion, or conduct the interview in a restaurant to observe your etiquette. It’s all a test (which is why some of the same people with test-anxiety feel similarly about interviews).

Here’s what you need to remember: Interviewing for a job is like trying to get a girl or a guy you’re sweet on to go out with you. You cannot appear desperate. Desperation in an interview is a telltale sign of a lack of confidence in yourself and in your capabilities. If you’re unsure of yourself, why should the person interviewing you be sure? What’s more, you want your love interest (in this case, job interest) to have an interest in you and peruse you as you pursue them. This is especially useful to those with more experience and possess more sought-after skills. If the interviewer is sure that they have you, they will begin to look for reasons not to choose you. To that end, you must make yourself as indispensable and interesting as you can.

The Block

A bane to writers everywhere, writer’s block can be summarized as a period of creative constipation; where all trains of thought derail and you’re left scrambling to get things back on track before you’re scheduled to arrive.  If you’ve ever needed to write a book report, thesis, or piece of fiction or poetry, then you know this feeling all too well. It may not be curable, but it is treatable; and if corrected in time, you may just save your project (or your job) before it’s too late.

So, what to do? Nearly every source online will tell you to take a hiatus from your work for a while: That you want to go for a walk, meditate, exercise, anything to reset your mind and get back at it with a refreshed perspective. In many cases, this might be all that it takes for you to press past your blockage – if you run into a dead end in a maze, you need to put yourself back to a point in which you have other options. But there’s more than just dead ends to worry about: what if you get distracted in the maze and suddenly forget which way you came from? Which is the way forward? Problems with developing a new idea rather than grinding away with a failed one, is an entirely different matter.

First off, while a distraction might draw you away from a flawed thought in your writing, you can also be pulled away from a thought that might have had great potential. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative, regardless of whatever other methods you take on to mitigate writer’s block, that you take every step necessary to put a lid of petty annoyances and distractions. Close your office door, put your phone away and out of reach, maybe music really doesn’t help you concentrate. Experimentation and modification of your writing methodology is a surefire way to see an improvement in your habits.

Once you feel as though nothing can pull you out of the zone, try looking back on some of your earlier works. How did you overcome this block the last time it happened? Where did your efforts take you? Who’s critiques of your writing did you really take to heart and made for the best changes? Learning from the past, and knowing where you’ve been will help you from walking over your tracks.

Speaking of tracks, if there is one thing that I keep telling myself as a creative, and time and time again I neglect to do when I really need it most, it’s to jot down any and all novel ideas that come to you throughout the day, regardless of what they are – jokes, one-liners, poetic lines, names, otherworldly concepts, anything that makes you go, “Whoa, I need to use that later.” Assume you’ll forget, because you probably will. If the biggest huddle you face in your writing is a deficit of original material, what you need is a storehouse of ideas, something you’ll have on hand at all times once you get use to capturing fleeting, content-rich thoughts.

Lastly, if all else fails, remember who it is you’re writing for. If you’re a columnist or a blogger, then this is obvious, but if you’re writing for leisure and don’t have an audience, find one. Speaking from personal experience, I can confidently say that I’ve produced my best work when I knew that my work was going to be picked apart in a workshop setting. Make a contest out of it with other writers you know or work with and put your pride on the line. Overcoming the fear of criticism and allowing your skills to temper in the heat of competition, just like with athletic ability, will show you exactly how you stack up, where your weakness are, and how to better yourself as you take in the works and techniques of others. Do this, and you just might find that the clogs that make life as a writer bleak, will happen less and less often.

Pro:Up and Out

For many students, high school can feel like just another one of those things you have to do.

You do your homework, pass your classes, and keep your nose clean until you graduate. But while there’s no doubt that a high school education is a crucial minimum requirement in today’s job market, can we be sure that this fundamental education is preparing students for life after grade-school? Is it really enough to allow students to simply go through the motions and hope for the best without making sure that they’ve picked up a good work ethic, personal accountability, or even discovered their passions or latent talents?  Experience is the best teacher, and one local business in the Detroit area is offering students the opportunity to seize that experience – Pro:Up.

Pro:Up is a new networking platform for connecting high school students with various local organizations and businesses to help them land internships, as well as gain other valuable work-related experience that will help them succeed after graduation. Since its inception, Pro:Up has registered over 2000 members, and is growing by nearly 20 new profiles each week; all for the expressed purpose of sparking students’ interest and galvanizing their path forward in life. I met with Pro:Up Co-Founder, Myles Morgan, for a closer look into the aims and the methods behind his organization.

One question that came to mind early on was, “What incentives are there for business to want to bring in high-schoolers with little or no experience?” Since new hires would certainly be more accident prone and eat-up an employer’s capital in order to be trained from the ground up, right? Myles was cognizant of this dilemma, but was clear on the point that businesses become a part of Pro:Up on voluntary basis – because they want to give these kids a leg up as their adult lives come careening toward them. Myles also commented on the growing disparity of skillsets in the labor market.

“Given the massive technical and soft skills gap in America, employers are providing these opportunities to high school students to develop talent earlier, feed their future talent pipelines, and increase brand recognitions to the next generation of employees.”

 In essence, businesses and organizations choosing to align with Pro:Up to provide these opportunities to teens have a lot to gain on the PR front, as well as the chance build a channel for new recruits to meet their needs as their businesses grow.

Regarding the demand for specific skill sets in the jobs market, namely those skills that don’t require a four-year degree to attain, Myles suggests that most schools in the area are not doing enough to promote alternative pathways through life that do not involve a university for those students who may not be able to afford it, or would simply rather go without it.

“We’re going to say something radical: College isn’t for everyone and it was never meant to be…While college has been the most promising tracks to economic security and mobility in the last few decades, the university pathway is losing its utility for many students in the 21st century…This is where Pro:Up helps. Students need not rely only on their schools or family networks to discover opportunities and pathways that fit them. They have a personalized feed of the perfect opportunities at their fingertips.”

 As Myles mentions, Pro:Up is equipped with a number of tools and functions that allows members to customize their notification feeds to their desired positions and businesses, seamlessly inserting itself into the fiber of the daily digital digest that teens today have made the norm. Myles’ seconds this idea, drawing a parallel between his platform and others. “Pro:Up is designed with high student engagement at the forefront. Existing opportunity boards cater to an older, more utilitarian demographic, people who may be interested in finding the right opportunity as quick as possible. Students have referred to Pro:Up as the ‘Instagram for Opportunities’.”

What’s one more feed to follow if it means a wealth of experience? A line of experience on a resume is as good as gold these days.

There’s a sea of sites online that dedicate themselves to distracting teens from the stresses of their lives, putting many of the more helpful and resources-rich pages on the back-burner. Competition and success are not for everyone; least of all to those unwilling to set aside the time to invest in themselves and in the security that comes with work experience. For those with a plan, Pro:Up is there to help follow through. For those without a plan (or a back-up plan) Pro:Up is there to help make one. True to Pro:Up’s slogan,

“Make moves, not excuses.”