Review: Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley – 11/30/2013

Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley

By Stan Rezaee

Several weeks ago; Bass acquired several new Alec Bradley cigars for the store. Bass was at first hesitant to add Alec Bradley to his inventory (due to the negative feedback from his customers) but the guys at JMG International highly recommended theses cigars.

Among the selection was Raices Cubanas 1941, a new cigar that was introduced at International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association 2013 Convention in Las Vegas.

Raices Cubanas 1941 is a mild cigar crafted with a mix of Honduras and Nicaragua filler while using a Nicaragua binder and a Honduras wrapper. The cigar is presented with a colorful cigar ring that is decorated with a design that pays homage to the first half of the 20th Century .

In the past we have not been too impressed with Alec Bradley cigars as at best they felt like “give-away” cigars. Raices Cubanas 1941 however really surprised us and this was our final verdict:
Bass: 7.5/10
Stan: 7/10
Charlie: 7/10
Customer #1: 7.5/10
Customer #2: 8/10

Raices Cubanas 1941 starts with a nutmeg flavor that has a hint of pepper. As the cigar progresses it develops a rich ceder flavor that still has the scent of pepper. By the end it has developed an earth flavor but it still has that pepper scent. During the smoke; the cigar has a smooth and relaxing draw that allows you to really enjoy the flavor.

Our final verdict is that the Raices Cubanas 1941 is a great everyday cigar that anyone could enjoy with their buddies after a long work week. It has also encourage us to give the other Alec Bradley cigars that Bass got a chance.

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Written for Campbell Cigar Club
11/30/2013
Original ArticleReview: Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley

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Call of Duty: Ghosts is a rip-off of the game Homefront and film Red Dawn – 11/26/2013

homefront-ghost

Acclaimed screenwriter Stephen Gaghan created a story for Call of Duty: Ghosts that breaks from the typical “America’s the best” bravado and instead takes players to a vulnerable America that is fighting to protect its sovereignty.

You may feel like you’ve played this game before (besides the fact that every Call of Duty game is the same), and that’s because Gaghan has ripped off Homefront, the 2011 first-person shooter written by John Milius and inspired by his classic film Red Dawn.

This makes me wonder what the point is of working with an accomplished screenwriter if he’s just going to copy from the plot of another video game. Here are five examples of how Call of Duty: Ghosts is nothing but a piss-poor remake of Homefront.

The Middle Eastern war

Both Homefront and Call of Duty: Ghosts are set in a world where a war in the Middle East has crippled the world’s oil supply, which ushers in an age of global instability.

In Homefront, the conflict is known as the Oil War, and it was fought between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both nations are competing for influence in the region after the U.S. withdraws its military. The U.S. military also participated in the conflict, but its actions were very limited. The end result is that the Middle East is no longer a reliable source of energy, which brings about a global economic crisis.

In Call of Duty: Ghosts, the conflict is known as the Tel Aviv War, and it’s fought between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations. The conflict began with an attempted invasion of Tel Aviv that grew into a major war that destabilized the region. Part of the conflict involved 60 Tier One operatives deployed to protect a civilian hospital from 500 enemy soldiers on the Iranian Border (Operation Sand Viper), in which the legend of the Ghosts is born. The end result of the war is that the Middle East is no longer a reliable source of energy, which brings about a global economic crisis — just like in Homefront.

An unrealistic superstate emerges

The aftermath of the Middle Eastern conflict allows an unrealistic superstate to emerge as a world power that challenges the United States. A superstate is a larger nation that has united its territory under a federalist political structure.

Homefront is set in a future in which the Korean peninsula is unified to establish the Greater Korean Republic under the rule of Kim Jong-un. With a powerful economy and military, the GKR begins to expand its borders by conquering or annexing other countries in the region. Meanwhile, in Call of Duty: Ghosts, South America becomes the world’s dominating producer of energy, which leads to the unification of the region’s nations to establish the Federation of the Americas.

Now this is unrealistic because, given the global political climate and history, it’s not possible for these superstates to be established. North Korea would not have the will power to create such a superstate or maintain it due to its dirt-poor economy and poorly equipped military. Yes, America is too weak to act, but the People’s Republic of China or Russia isn’t going to sit back and let Pyongyang fill the void. Also, South Korea with its political stability and strong economy has a more realistic chance of establishing a united Korea.

Meanwhile, the chances of South America merging to establish a superstate is unlikely because one used to exist. It was called the Spanish Empire. After the South and Central American nations achieved independence, there were many attempts to form a unified republic, which failed. In the modern era, because of the political differences and rivalries between the regional powers, it’s unlikely for the continent to unify and establish a superstate.

America is crippled by an orbital superweapon

After gaining enough influence on the world stage, the superstates aim their ambitions at the United States. Despite all that has happened, America is still a formidable opponent and will not be easy to conquer. Hence, these hostile powers use an orbital superweapon to cripple the U.S. before launching a full-scale invasion.

The Greater Korean Republic (in Homefront) uses an orbital EMP (disguised as a communication satellite) that cripples the western United States. The Federation (in Call of Duty: Ghosts) deploys commandos to hijack ODIN, an orbital-stationed weapon, and uses it to attack major cities in the U.S. The attacks cripple the federal government while bringing about the economical and social collapse of the nation, which results in America no longer being a world power.

That follows with an invasion and occupation

A full-scale invasion is launched after the superweapons have made America vulnerable. The invading forces quickly overwhelm the U.S. military (forcing them into disarray) while parts of America are under enemy occupation. In no time, the occupying army begins to round up civilians to either execute or send to a “re-education” camp.

Players have to infiltrate a re-education camp in Homefront, where they witness horrendous atrocities against civilians and uncover mass graves. In Call of Duty: Ghosts, players witness civilian executions by Federation soldiers and hear horror stories of people being rounded up.

The last battle is a turning point

Both games conclude with a battle that turns the tide of the war in America’s favor. After years of holding the lines, the United States military pools all its resources to launch one massive strike against the enemy.

In Homefront, the American Resistance, along with the United States Armed Forces, unleash a massive military operation on the Korean People’s Army in San Fransisco. The objective is to cripple the GKR command in occupied America and to liberate the Bay Area. The main force takes the Golden Gate Bridge before moving into the city while a SEAL team raids Alcatraz Island. The battle becomes a turning point as San Fransisco is liberated while the European Union begin talks about sending aid to America.

In Call of Duty: Ghosts, a joint Marine and Ghost force-attack a Federation Satellite Array in Chile while the USAF deploys a squad to hijack LOKI, an orbital-stationed weapon based on ODIN, and use it against the Federation (a little payback). The battle becomes a turning point as the Federation’s fleet and several major cities have been decimated by the LOKI attack.

Written for GameBeat
11/26/2013
Original Article: Call of Duty: Ghosts is a rip-off of the game Homefront and film Red Dawn

Op-Ed: NM State Police action against Oriana Ferrell was justified – 11/18/2013

A video has surfaced regarding what started as a routine traffic stop that turned into a hostile confrontation between Oriana Ferrell and her 14 -year old son against officers of the New Mexico State Police.

During the ordeal; Ferrell attempts to flee the scene multiple times and resists arrest while endangering the lives of her children. This confrontation could have all been avoided had Ferrell just complied with the officer instructions and apologized for speeding while accepting full responsibility (like a normal person).

In the end this is a classic example of how a mundane moment could escalate into a hostile confrontation just by failing to use common sense. Oh how some people need to learn from Chris Rock.

Yet a lot of the attention has been focused on the few seconds were one of the officers tried to shootout the tire of the minivan as it fled the scene. The majority of articles that report on the event focus on that trivial moment while burying away what lead to the confrontation or how she resisted arrest.

Its agreed that the officer should not have drawn his gun but that pales to how recklessly Ferrell fled the scene the second time. As obvious most people who have been outrage at how the New Mexico State Police handled the situation probably just read the tittle “Cops Shoot At Minivan Full of Kids” then proceed to the comment section to vent their outrage.

These criticism come from a position of hindsight by those who have no understanding of the daily ordeals a police officer goes through. It looks like it was unnecessary after the facts but the officers have to act on how the situation is presented while keeping unknown factors into consideration.

Of course there will always be those social activists that are also anti-law enforcement who will cry about the “police brutality” while making tasteless comparisons with the Gestapo. These idiots always think they have a right to act hostile towards a police officer and then they are surprised when they are suspected of being involved in some criminal activity.

Critics and activists need to stop crying “police brutality” and just look into the issue form a perspective that involves common sense rather then a quick outrage.

Written for Digital Journal
11/18/2013
Original Article: Op-Ed: NM State Police action against Oriana Ferrell was justified

Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4 – 11/17/2013

A forum post published by users claiming to be Foxconn interns alleged that the PlayStation 4 was deliberately mishandled and sabotaged during the manufacturing process.

Several posts about interns sabotaging the PS4 during the manufacturing process had appeared on message boards in China. These post failed to attract attention until reports emerged regarding problems with the system followed by a forum posted on IGN.com by a new user claiming to be a Foxconn intern.

The post claims that the user, “qbroid,” along with interns in the same position, made efforts to sabotoge the PlayStation 4 during the manufacturing process. “qbroid” reinforces his story by also posting claims made by other interns on how they deliberately mishandled or tampered with the console.

“qbroid” states that the sabotage was done in retaliation for how Foxconn mistreated them. The post said: Since Foxconn are not treating us well, we will not treat PS4 console well.

In early October, it was reported that Foxconn was forcing student interns from the Xi’an Technical University to work overtime to assemble the PS4 or risk having their diplomas withheld. The allegations came a few days after Foxconn CEO Terry Gou stated that young people are interested in “easy and relaxing jobs” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Foxconn is one of the largest manufactures of electronic products with clients like Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. It has also become infamous for its labor practices and working conditions that have driven several workers to commit suicide.

Written for Digital Journal
10/7/2013
Original Article: Foxconn interns alleged to have sabotaged the PlayStation 4

Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do – 11/5/2013

The gaming industry is going to enter the eighth generation of consoles this month, but it may be better to wait before wasting your hard-earned money on a product that will probably be defective.

Like all new technology, the first models will suffer from software glitches because the development team was under pressure to release them on the market around the same time as the competition. Looking back at past trends and current problems in the industry provides a strong case for waiting to purchase these systems.

Xbox gamers will recall the early days, when some of the first models of the Xbox 360 had a defective disc reader. This flaw resulted in a circumferential scratch on the disc that rendered it unusable. It was discovered that some disc drives lack a mechanism to secure the disc solidly in place.

If an Xbox 360 owner was lucky enough to have a proper disc reader, then he risked facing a hardware problem that resulted in the system crashing and the console becoming inoperable: the Red Ring of Death. Affected gamers had to mail their defective console to Microsoft to have it repaired. Microsoft never officially revealed what caused the Ring of Death, but speculation was that it was either a central processing unit (CPU) failure or the use of a poor-quality solder.

Meanwhile, the first models of the PlayStation 3 had hardware that was difficult for developers to work with, which resulted in fewer games being released at launch. Also, the new software was incompatible with so many PlayStation 2 games that the feature had to be abandoned in the slim models.

Back when PlayStation 2 dominated the market after the failure of the Dreamcast, the first models had a disc reader that would wear out and result in the system being unable to read any disc inserted into the console. Sony offered to fix the disc reader and provide a free game while some retailers offered a trade-in for the new PS2 slim.

So has the game industry learned how to minimize potential hardware failures? Of course not! The market has grown so that highly anticipated games will compete and outperform movies at the box office. However, the industry is under such great pressure to move products that testers may overlook serious hardware flaws.

Rumors have emerged that there may be major problems with the Xbox One’s operating system and that Microsoft will be unable to resolve it in time. Adding to the speculation are several games journalists claiming that Microsoft is allegedly pressuring them to not publish reviews until after the official launch.

Supporting the rumors is the fact that Microsoft had to redesign the Xbox One after its Orwellian features and draconian style of digital rights management (DRM) caused an uproar in the gaming community. The system had been in development since 2011, but after its controversial unveiling, the development staff had eight months to remove the unpopular features and ensure the console could function properly. Hence, it’s very likely that gamers might experience major system problems with the first models of the Xbox One.

On a smaller scale, there have been countless examples of how ill prepared the industry has been for highly anticipated launches. Most of these nightmares have been in the last few years.

The most recent example would be last month’s launch of Grand Theft Auto Online, which suffered from technical glitches on day one of its release. Due to system problems, gamers were unable to play the game, and the few that could ended up losing their characters after developer Rockstar fixed the glitch.

In March 2013, Electronic Arts had major problems with the release of Sim City. The game suffered from gameplay glitches while server crashes made it unplayable for a weekend. Worse is that the DRM required players to be connected to a dedicated server even if they were playing the single-player game. This contributed to EA being voted “Worst Company in America” by The Consumerist readers for the second year in a row (beating Bank of America).

That pales, however, to how ill prepared Blizzard Entertainment was with the highly anticipated PC release of Diablo III in 2012. After a decade in development, the game suffered from major glitches when players tried to create a profile and was followed by multiple server crashes. Blizzard underestimated how well the game would sell. Even though Diablo III was a major hit, its success was overshadowed by its disastrous launch.

The first models of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are going to have some major problems while later models will have those resolved. It’s better to wait until they do rather than have a system crash just as you’re about to play a brand-new game.

Written for GameBeats 
11/5/2013
Original Article: Waiting to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One could be the smartest thing you do

Gamers still distrustful of Xbox One privacy policy – 11/3/2013

Microsoft has released an update of its privacy policy for the Xbox One in hopes to address concerns that the system could be used as a spying tool.

According to Microsoft’s new policy, the any information collected by the Kinect will nod be distributed to outside sources and any information collected is deleted when the system is turned off. Also activating the Kinect is not required to use the console or access Xbox Live. The policy also states that changes will be made in the future to reflect customer feedback.

Despite the policy change, many in the gaming community are still fearful that the Xbox One could be used as a tool for spying. News aggregators and message boards have been flooded with gamers expressing their continued distrust with Microsoft.

Since its unveiling in May; Xbox One has been a lighting rod for controversy because of its Orwellian features and draconian style digital rights management (DRM). Microsoft was forced to abandon its DRM policy while it has been very sketchy regarding users privacy.

Several news sources have pointed the fact that Microsoft will continue to monitor data collected from voice chat, video and communications during live-hosted gameplay sessions offered through Xbox Live. The Consumerist has pointed out that many free chat services do reserve the right to monitor user activity. Adding to consumer fears has been the controversy regarding the National Security Agency program of mass surveillance and collecting personal data of American citizens.

Gamers have expressed their concern that the Xbox One will become another tool used by the government to spy on them. The issue of privacy has been one of many controversies that has plagued the Xbox One since it was unveiled in May. Despite all the problems it is still set to be released globally on November 22, 2013.

Written for Digital Journal
11/3/2013
Original Article: Gamers still distrustful of Xbox One privacy policy