Monster Hunter Nemesis – Review

This review won’t be a regurgitation of the plot. And I won’t throw out any spoilers (in case you haven’t read it yet). What I’ll try to convey is what I thought of this story in the context of the earlier books and in relation to other similar works in the genre.
For those unfamiliar with the Monster Hunter books by Larry Correia (  http://monsterhunternation.com/ ), they involve a reality where the world exists more or less as we know it except that all kinds of traditional supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, ghouls, ghosts, etc.) exist. In addition, although the US (and other) governments know they exist, this knowledge is actively suppressed by means of an agency called the Monster Control Bureau (MCB). This department kills the monsters and covers up any evidence that gets into the public eye. Also the MCB oversees a program that pays private contractors to kill monsters on their own.
The four earlier books in the series concentrated on a particular private company called Monster Hunters International (MHI) that contains much of the back story for the ongoing epidemic of monster attacks. The MHI owning/operating family (the Shacklefords) and one of their new employees (Owen Pitt) are the focus of some wild and very diverting monster fighting adventures that reveal some of the details of the characters and their history and involvement in the world of monster fighting. And as the series progresses more of the details of how the universe we are exploring works are revealed in the context of the Shacklefords. But for the most part the details are on a need to know basis. In other words we only learn what we need to in order to understand the context of the immediate actions taking place. There’s very little high end “mythology” communicated. From the point of view of a reader this was not noticeable in the first or second books of the series. But in the third and fourth installments it was starting to feel like we needed more information. Even the main characters were dissatisfied with the official narrative. Clearly something had to give.
In Nemesis this back story mythology has a very prominent place. The fact that the main character in this book isn’t an MHI member is very interesting. Frankly (no joke intended), it’s quite interesting that the protagonist sort of represents a very different perspective on the monster hunting mission and a very important historical angle that opens up the whole Monster Hunter universe to much more complexity and even, believe it or not, a religious dimension. Of course this may be a positive or negative idea depending on your feeling about escapist fiction. But I’ve found the back story additions interesting. And the story has been very lively and well written. I believe that Larry Correia has done an in depth inspection of his creation and decided to formalize the underpinning of this universe to make the stories consistent and give coherence to the story arc he is working on.
I think he’s correct in providing more background to his world. The self consistency will make his readers’ experience more enjoyable and will increase the longevity of the series. I await all the upcoming installments and the already multiplying spin off works.

Trump vs Day 2

President Trump (PT)  –  Oh my head.  What the hell was in that lousy champagne they served last night at the Inaugural Ball?  Tell that guy who provided the wine that he’s fired!

Vice President Pence (VPP) – That was the President of France, Mr. President.

PT – Exactly.  France is a loser country.  Very low energy.  We’ll rename Quebec, New France and use them instead for wine and cheese.

VPP – I don’t think you can grow wine grapes in Quebec.

PT – Then we’ll rename Louisiana, New France!  Stop making this difficult Mike.  I don’t want to have to ban you from the Oval Office.

VPP – Yes Mr. President.

PT -Okay, so now I’m president what’s next?

VPP – Well, traditionally, you provide Congress with your list of cabinet appointees for them to approve and begin oversight of the executive branch.

PT – How long does that take?

VPP – At least a few weeks?

PT – Weeks? And when do I fire all the Obama people and other people I don’t like?

VPP – Wouldn’t it be better to wait until your people are in place? That would minimize the amount of confusion and make the transition smoother.

PT – Smooth transition? Weeks of delay? Oh no, no, no, no, no. We need to shake these people up and put the fear of Trump into them. I’m gonna clear these free-loaders out tomorrow.

VPP – But you don’t have any staff. How are you going to do all that?

PT – Easy. You’re gonna do it for me.

VPP – But I don’t have any staff yet either. What can I do?

PT – You can type can’t you? You know how to look up the executive branch on Wikipedia don’t you? You’re gonna write a letter to each of the cabinet level heads saying he’s fired and I’m gonna sign them. Then you’re gonna write a letter to each of the department deputies and say if he doesn’t follow the executive orders I’m about to issue that he too will be fired and I’ll sign those. Then carbon copy the newspapers and media desks and send a copy to the joint chiefs of staff.

VPP – What do I look like? Your secretary?

PT – You got anything better to do Pence? Look, we don’t have a lot of time if we’re going to fix this government. I need to get things humming around here. If you don’t want to help, then go over to the VP mansion and start writing your memoirs. I’ll put an ad in the Pennysaver and hire a high school kid who wants a job. And in four years I’ll make him my next vice president. But tell me quick if you want to help because I’ve got a lot of work to do.

VPP – Uh, I’ll get my laptop and get started on the letters.

PT – Good. That sounds a lot less weak than your excuses. Tell the kitchen to send up some sandwiches and coffee.

VPP – Yes Mr. President.

PT – Oh and tell the Secret Service to change the locks and passwords on all the doors. Melania’s afraid that old pervert Biden will try to get back in and cop a feel.

VPP – Yes Mr. President.

Trump Vs. The Bizarro World

So here we are at the Republican Convention. Melania Trump is plagiarizing from Michelle Obama’s boring speeches and after every floor vote by the rules committee the republican clown car ricochets off of all three circus rings. Under any other circumstance I’d be laughing at the chances of Trump being elected. But this is the Bizarro World. Every time Trump says something stupid or pompous or insane, another BLM madman kills a bunch of cops or a jihadi slaughters a crowd of people and once again makes Trump the sane choice.

Let me be perfectly clear. Bozo the Clown would probably make a more dignified President of the United States than Donald Trump. But once again, in the Bizarro World where Donald Trump is the only candidate unafraid of talking about Islamic Terrorists, Inner City Thugs or Illegal Aliens, he’s the best choice available.

And what does that tell us? I think we can break it down into a few different facts.

1) Donald Trump recognized that there were things the republicans needed to say but were afraid to. So he said them.
Republicans knew what a lot of non-progressives disliked about the democrat agenda. What they didn’t realize was what these same people disliked about republican priorities. They didn’t like the globalist agenda. That includes off-shoring jobs and on-shoring people (massive immigration whether legal or illegal). Also part of that agenda is the endless defense of the “religion of peace.” The repeating of this mantra after each horrific attack has finally turned it into a sad joke. Trump has recognized these things and they have resonated with both republicans and blue collar democrats. Despite his many obvious flaws as a candidate and a human being he was able to see these things clearly. This ability to identify what people are unhappy about is an advantage that almost completely neutralizes his otherwise enormous negatives. This is completely separate from his skills at attacking his opponents and deflecting attacks. But these do point to his realization that people are fed up with politically correct speaking rules. He is unapologetic and extremely plain spoken. The electorate likes this.

2) The Republican leaders were out of touch with what their constituency wanted.
This point is the flip-side of what Trump did right. The republicans have been trying so hard to court all of the democrat constituencies (women, young adults, blacks, hispanics, gays) that they’ve managed instead to alienate their own core constituency (adult straight white men). Without that demographic almost completely on its side republicans have a very difficult task winning elections. What they seem incapable of processing is that they won’t increase their appeal to these other groups by being a watered down version of the democrat party. You’re never going to get most hispanics voting for you without losing a larger number of core constituency voters. The democrats will always be promising more loot than the republicans.

3) The American people are divided and extremely unhappy.
The United States is no longer united. A large chunk of the population wants a nanny state where the government feeds you, houses you, tells you what to say and think and decides everything for you. The rest of us sort of still adhere to the basic idea of the Constitution. Neither Trump nor Clinton actually embrace the Constitutionalists. The best you can say about Trump is that he has pledged to recommend supreme court justices that are strict constructionists. But this is indeed a difficult period for American democracy.

Conclusion

So where does all this leave us? In my opinion, in a very bad spot. A lot of this stuff is very reminiscent of the end of the Roman Republic. The plebians and the patricians were at each other’s throats and rich demagogues were promising the mob bread and circuses for their votes. Back then they also experienced a decay of religious belief and family values. Disruptions to the economy associated with globalization obsoleted many of the comforting ways of life.

So my advice to you dear readers is embrace the bizarro! Trump is the man of the hour so hitch your wagon to his star. If he loses then Caligula (the Clintons) will have all of us crucified in January. If he wins then we’ll muddle on until something even stranger and more disastrous appears on the horizon. But either way hold on to your beliefs about what is right and wrong and pray that eventually we’ll re-emerge on the other side of the worm-hole where America is normal again. My secret hope is that Mike Pence will turn out to be stronger than his recent flip-flop on religious protection showed him and after Trump’s reign we’ll get an actual conservative in the White House. But I’m not holding my breath.

Lenses for the Sony E-Mount Cameras – Part 2

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2016/06/19/lenses-for-the-sony-e-mount-cameras-part-1/

http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2016/05/30/voigtlander-10mm-f5-6-review-part-1/
So, this post is also about the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens. Honestly it’s one of my favorite lenses. It is incredibly sharp and I love the colors and rendering. It’s excellent for macro, close-up, portrait, landscape and wildlife. What else could you ask? An interesting thing I find is because it’s a macro lens and also a 200mm I can get some respectable isolation even at f\8. Now I’m sure the folks very savvy about optics aren’t surprised by that but I was. Anyway it’s another bonus of this Minolta “golden oldie.”

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Independence Day – A Few Thoughts

So I’m an American. Great grandson of immigrants. Close enough to the boat to know what it is like to be one of the newbies but around long enough to feel a pride in belonging to something exceptional.

I was brought up on the notion that living here was as close to being in heaven as you could get without having to die. And in a lot of ways it lived up to the hype. The streets weren’t paved with gold. But they were paved. No one starved. And that even went for the “poor.” Even the marginally working class had enough to feed a family. Everyone could read and write and if you weren’t a hopeless sociopath chances were you could hold down some kind of job and support yourself. Most folks attended a church and dragged the kids along to help “steer them in the right direction.”

The general notion was that America was a machine that took well-intentioned people who followed the rules and worked hard and from them generated wealth and happiness for everyone.

But sometimes the machine ran off the rails. The two big hiccups that I grew up with were the 1930’s and the late 1970’s. Each of these events damaged the morale of the nation and brought into question the stability of our way of life. No one knows how the world would have turned out if the Second World War hadn’t “saved” us from the Depression but what is important is that by the twentieth century Americans believed that not only could the US government avoid recessions but if it didn’t it would be held responsible. Herbert Hoover was vilified as the epitome of a callous plutocrat. And Jimmy Carter was cast out as a loser who had allowed the American industrial engine to stall out into stagflation.

Coming up to the present, George W. Bush was blamed for the Crash of 2008. In an eight year period that in many ways resembled the ’30s, Obama seemed to mostly get a pass for not reviving the American economy. This is reminiscent of the treatment FDR received. Apparently if you can vilify your predecessor successfully enough you can avoid blame (if you’re a democrat).

So what have we learned? Americans expect results. Especially from republicans. Apparently people don’t expect democrats to make the economy work. They will settle for handouts. But republicans have to deliver. The logic must be, “you people are always talking about free enterprise, well, put up or shut up.”

So here’s the whole thing in a nutshell. If you want to be a republican president coming in under a bad economy and you want to be re-elected, you not only have to revive the economy but you also have to do it in your first two years. Otherwise you’ll lose the Congress and be hamstrung by the democrats.

Unless of course you can buy off the people with free stuff (a la the democrats) and/or distract them with some bigger problem. Trump is betting that immigration is that bigger problem. And he may be right. If he actually accomplishes a good chunk of his deportation idea, he may get some extra time to revive the economy.

All right, this whole convoluted essay is basically trying to confirm something that is becoming harder for even the purest free trade advocate to ignore. The American People are fine with business making lots of money, as long as they are part of that equation. If American companies move all their plants and their jobs offshore then they’re not American companies. And they should not be treated as such. And if a foreign company builds a plant in the US and employs Americans then they should be rewarded any way we can. It’s not all that complicated. Americans with jobs don’t turn into a mob. So get them jobs, now!

Whoever gets into office next better get results and fast. Or else there are gonna be fireworks.