Nuclear and You

Nuclear is a weird thing. And the science behind it is not the weird part, that’s a very simple concept really, fission splits the nucleus and fusion, well, fuses them. No, the most complex part of nuclear anything is actually the social and moral uses of it. Now, disregarding moral for this part, and looking at the purely logical standpoint of it. Now I’m not a nuclear engineer (yet), so I’m not a complete expert, but I know more than the average person about the issue, and that’s one of the main problems, people are uneducated.

Now, I’m not saying they need to know the intricate ins and outs of the scientific explanation behind nuclear power/weaponry, but people need to understand the massive difference between the two, and use a collection of both historical events and actual experts scientific knowledge to understand the severity of each respectively.

We’ll start with nuclear weaponry. Out of about 200+ countries on the planet, there are a total of 8 whole countries that for sure have nuclear weaponry, the biggest of which by a mile are the US and Russia, previously the Soviet Union. The US however, are bigger than Russia by sheer number of weapons, and they spend most of their time talking about how dangerous is it for other countries to have them. The bombs dropped in Japan, Little Boy and Fat Man, are estimated at around 18-22 kilotons of TNT. These wiped out whole cities. The largest bomb tested by the US was Castle Bravo, tested in 1954, so 61 years ago, and was 15 Megatons on TNT. If that was 61 years ago, think of the destructive power these bombs have now,

Yet people still defend the use, and one of the most common arguments is that it is to prevent other countries from using nuclear weaponry. Out of the 5 main countries with a nuclear weapons program, the top 4 are all members of the G8, a gathering of the worlds most powerful and wealthy countries. Now, North Korea are always listed as a credible threat, yet the strongest weapon they have tested to date has actually been about as strong as the Little Boy at around 20 kilotons, dropped in 2013. Now the fact that the current most powerful countries on the nuclear weapons front actually had this power 70 years ago goes to show how little of a threat they really are in that way.

However, lets say North Korea had the firing power the US had. If North Korea decided they wanted to fire their nuclear weaponry upon the US, the fact that the US has nuclear weaponry would not prevent this. The power currently available is enough to wipe entire countries and even greater regions out with just 1 bomb. If someone wished to use this power, the idea of retaliation would not deter them, as this is massive destructive force. Both the physical and the political implications of doing so would be huge, and as such if they decided to do this, they would not stop because our countries have bombs too. And if we did retaliate, then it would surely be the end of the world, as the destructive power would wipe out most of the life on the surface of Earth. This shows why we need to lead by disarming the nuclear weaponry, and encourage others to as well, as all they are doing is sucking up money, that could be much better spent elsewhere.

However, to counteract this, nuclear power is very often opposed heavily by people, many of whom also support the keeping of nuclear weaponry. One thing people always talk about is Chernobyl, the reactor explosion at Chernobyl being the only major accident in a nuclear power plant ever in the history of nuclear power. There have been many accidents, however almost all have resulted from things that could easily occur in any other plant, such as equipment ruptures, safety failures etc. Not only that, but essentially what happened in Chernobyl was that the safety systems were switched off in order to achieve a larger energy yield, and this was accomplished, the issue of course arising that the larger energy yield was dangerous. However, nuclear power plants are most likely the safest power plants on the planet. I am studying to be a chemical engineer, and I wish to become a nuclear engineer when I graduate, and we’ve learned about the rigorous safety meetings that go on for nuclear power plants. Because the result COULD be devastating, there are many safety systems put in place to make an issue essentially impossible without some sort of human error due to lack of training.

Overall, I feel that people really need to be educated in the facts of nuclear power and nuclear weaponry, and shown that they are not synonymous with each other, and that actually, you are more likely to die because of an oil factory explosion than you are a nuclear power plant meltdown, yet you don’t see people protesting oil, especially considering the energy yield from 1 nuclear plant could probably equal around 10 oil plants. I feel if people were more educated on the topic, there would be less hostility in the wrong areas, and funding would actually go towards bettering things like nuclear fusion, a nuclear process which when fully developed, could in fact provide more energy than the current fission reactors, with no toxic waste. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me, and I will answer to the best of my knowledge.

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My (Summarized) Story To Where I Am Now

Very often I think of how I got to where I am today. I’m not anywhere particularly special, but I just mean the choices that I made to do what I do now, to be in this position. Its funny to think back, and realise how insignificant some of the choices seemed that actually changed my life, and sent me in a totally different direction.

For example, lets go back 8 years. I was 11, just started secondary school, and I only had a couple of friends. I decided to go round to my friend Adam’s (yes, I know) house after school, and he showed me Mindless Self Indulgence and Slipknot that day. This might seem like nothing, and at the time I didn’t think much of it either, but I’m sitting here, a massive metal fan now, and all because I found out about it all back then.

However, this isn’t where that ends. Liking that kind of music meant that I made more friends with other people that liked the same stuff, which meant that more people in my school knew who I was. After a while I was talking to people I never thought I’d have spoken too, simply because I listened to this music, so people got to know me, and as such a lot of people regarded me as pretty nice, and good to talk to. This still applies, a lot of people think this, and I feel like I’m still the same person I was then, its just now I have a lot more confidence to talk to people, and as such I can show them it now, rather than people finding out through others.

Another major turning point in my life was in 4th year, when I had to do a 1 week work placement for school, because why not apparently. Anyway, I had no idea what I wanted to do for it, so my dad got me into one of his old Engineering Firms for the week. It was there that I realised I wanted to become a Chemical Engineer, which resulted in me, well, doing Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University. If not I could’ve been in Glasgow Uni right now doing a Law degree, scary.

Oh, something I can’t forget to add is that a good while back, 9 years ago I think now, I almost didn’t join the company section of the BB. I was going to leave, and decided to just stay on to give it a shot last minute, and its pretty much the reason I have about 30 Table Tennis medals and trophies, why I’m friends with the people I am, and that even influenced going to Adam’s that day with the music.

I just think its incredible to look back on this short segment of your life so far, and realise how a number of different things could have dramatically altered your life. There are many, many more I can think of honestly, but the three examples above are the biggest by far, and I just think it is incredible when I realise that, while I might not speak to Adam anymore, or go to BB, I know that my life is the way it is because of these different things. They shaped me into the person I am today, they made me want to play games, to listen to metal, which got me into YouTube, got me into PC gaming, in turn Twitch streaming. There’s just so much in my life that could change if one thing was done differently, and that scares me. But it also makes me wonder; what would my life be like had these things not happened? Its interesting to think isn’t it?

You Are Not Alone (Please Read)

I’m not here to lecture anyone. I’m not here to pretend I have any fucking idea what its like to have mental issues, to have a disability, and I’m not going to pretend that I can fix it. I’ve been incredibly lucky, I’m reasonably smart, I tend to get on well with people, I have a stable home relationship.

However, there are so many people who can’t say this, people with battles going on everyday with peers, with family, or even with themselves. But because its on the inside, people don’t acknowledge it. If you’re depressed, people will tell you to cheer up, if you suffer from anxiety, people will tell you to just go out and make friends. They don’t understand what its like to have your own being fight you everyday, telling you you aren’t good enough, telling you nobody likes you, true or not. They don’t know what its like to just wake up and want to go back to sleep forever, for no other reason than your own mind telling you you’re worthless.¬†They don’t know what its like to not be able to think how everyone else thinks. They don’t know what its like to feel like you are at war every day just to keep yourself going.

And I don’t know either.

I have no fucking clue what that’s like, and frankly it scares me, that people can have no control over these things sometimes, that they can feel worthless no matter how much you tell them they aren’t. That they feel alone even when you’re all there.

But you aren’t alone. At least, you don’t need to be. As I said, I’m not here to tell you how you feel, I’m not going to promise I can fix you, I can’t even promise I’ll be able to understand what it could be like. But what I can do is be there for you. I can be there to listen if you need it. I can’t heal you, but I can show you that you don’t need to face it alone. No matter what time it is, what the problem is, contact me. Whether you tweet me, e-mail me, anything, you contact me, and you spill your heart out.

I stand by, I can’t promise you I’ll understand what its like for you. But I will no judge, I will not mock, and most of all, I will listen to you. And sometimes that’s all it takes.

Defining A Game

So, I’ve been doing some thinking about this, as it is something that has been very prominent in recent years with regards to PC gaming specifically, and I think its still a very subjective topic. The question is: how do you define what is and isn’t a game?

There are a few factors that I feel affect this, and it is something that I think can still be further discussed and refined. It is also a discussion that needs to be had, as there is still a negative connotation surrounding things that are regarded as not games, but as “interactive experiences(IE’s)”, and honestly, there’s nothing negative about this at all. An interactive experience can be a good medium for someone to tell a story in a more visual way, but the interactivity still has to enhance the experience in some way.

To give some examples, Dear Esther is one that people often refer to as an interactive experience, and in a very negative way. I personally found Dear Esther to be a really good looking IE, and I think a lot of people did actually, but the story was pretty lackluster, and often it was very easy to miss some parts of the story because you didn’t explore a certain path. This is a very good IE to have this discussion about, because it raises the point of giving an element of exploration to these. If the player just wants to go through looking at the pretty landscapes and listening to a story, should it be fair that they miss out on some explanations or story elements because of that? Honestly I’m not completely sure. The argument could be made that if the exploration is taken out of the IE, and the player is then forced down a single linear path listening to the story, is there any point in it not being a short film? However, the argument could also be made that in fact, having certain aspects missed can be a good thing, as you then go back into the world to figure out what else is going on.

However, in the example of Dear Esther, this was poorly implemented. The world was pretty yes, the Caves and the Moonlit Beach being two absolutely gorgeous looking areas, however it was not a world worth revisiting. This is partially due to the lackluster story, as well as the complete lack of, well, anything in the environment to interact with.

That’s not to say it can’t be done though, for example in the case of To The Moon. This is something that I think straddles the line, as there is explicit interaction in regards to collecting memories to time-hop, however there is no failure state, as the memories are very easy to locate, and there is no punishment for not getting them all, as you have infinite time to do so. To The Moon was very well received however, as it still felt like the player interactivity actually meant something. The story was excellent, and it was backed by a fantastic soundtrack, and this helped, but I’d still call it an Interactive Experience, and I don’t think many would argue otherwise. To The Moon was a fantastic showing of how a story can be told in such a format without making the player feel redundant. This is surprisingly difficult to achieve, as shown by the next game from Freebird Games, A Bird’s Story, which was criticised for having almost no interaction whatsoever, and while still having a great story, lacked what To The Moon had.

In this case, A Bird’s Story was only drawing a line between To The Moon and its true sequel, Finding Paradise, however, it still had the same standards imposed upon it, and it didn’t hold up. This shows how thin the line is, as there wasn’t much difference between To The Moon and A Bird’s Story besides the story, and yet the lack of interactivity was an issue for many.

I propose that we set out some sort of standard that we can all agree on, in order to try and truly define these interactive experiences, and show that they can be good in their own right, and maybe remove some of the stigma surrounding them. So here’s what I think the criteria something should need to meet in order to be classified as a game.

  • There must be a failure state, either explicit or implied. For example, an explicit failure state would be death in a shooter, while an implied failure state would be failing to “woo” a love interest in a dating simulator.
  • There must be a certain level of interactivity, such that replaying, whilst maybe having the same story, can have completely different game experiences. For example, doing a stealth run of Dishonored and then replaying by murdering everyone.

I think these two rules can definitely be expanded on, and there could be more additions to make the line clearer, but I feel this is the right step to showing that interactive experiences are not just failed games, but in fact are their own medium, and can be just as engaging as a game.

Things Have Been Hectic

So, as you can probably get from the Title, things have been rather busy for me recently. If you didn’t get that, you might as well give up reading just now to be honest, maybe just get a job throwing rocks at delinquents. Or licking cacti.

Now that they’re all gone, I’ve really not had a seconds peace the last two weeks. If I haven’t been buying presents I’ve been seeing my girlfriend, or seeing my Dad, or going out with friends, or studying for exams, or streaming when possible, or trying not to run out of money, or spending any small free time I have trying to 100% Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I know half of that seems rather relaxing, but believe me, it most certainly is not.

For example, I had fun streaming games. I still do have fun streaming games, its great. But just the other day, this happened, and by god, that changed a lot. Within 1 minute of that tweet going out, I’d gained 15 twitter followers, 150 viewers, and 60 twitch followers. I all of a sudden had over 100 people watching me talk shite about a game at 1am. And I was loving it.

Believe it or not, the number actually lasted high for a while. It dropped below 50 after 2 hours of streaming, and ended on a solid 20, with the final count being an extra 64 twitch followers. I couldn’t believe what just happened. And not only was it amazing, but also terrifying. I now have 213 followers on twitch, and I barely get the chance to stream. I’ve been making an effort to stream more recently, but the problem is it came around Christmas time, and my dad was back, so naturally I’ve actually had less time than I would normally find myself with during a regular week.

So because of all this, I’m pushing myself to try to take any time I can to stream, as I don’t want all these people to forget me. For the love of god, I had 2 1M+ YouTubers watching, one actually lasting for 2 hours (Link here). I feel so lucky to maybe actually have a chance to take off on Twitch here, yet I also feel like I don’t have a chance in hell, because I cannot for the life of me find the time to bloody stream. This is becoming a serious dilemma for me, and I’m really unsure of what I should do at this stage. Obviously I will continue to stream, but what if everyone forgets about me in that time? Just some thoughts. I really want to capitalise on this opportunity Dan from Nerd¬≥ gave me with this, but I don’t know if I’m too late or not.

Another thing is the fact that today was the first time I’d been on my PC since last Wednesday, LAST WEDNESDAY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I had Christmas obviously, then my girlfriend stayed through boxing day, we then went to her grans the 27th, and I stayed until this morning, well, technically yesterday morning now (morning of the 29th I’ll say). So this has put extra stress on the whole twitch thing. I’ve tried to stay on twitter as much as I can and keep people engaged with me, but there’s only so much you can do.

I’m also not sure what to do about uploading to YouTube again. I have a plan of action, a Vlog every second day, as an update thing, and a daily scheduled gaming video. But the problem is, I’m so busy with Twitch and everything else I cannot find any time to fit this in. I don’t want to just simply upload Twitch Highlights, as I want it to take on a life of its own, but I also don’t want to stop streaming, or even cancel seeing my friends to make time for everything.

Ultimately, I really see an opportunity here to really grow myself on the internet, and make myself known in the community, but I don’t know how to go about it, or if I’m just wasting my time. I will continue to do streaming as it is something I enjoy, but I don’t know how to pick up YouTube, and whether or not to try to make the extra time and effort to give to it, when I don’t know if it will give back or not. I feel like the only thing I can do is try.

So…

So hello there, I’ve not posted here in ages Jesus. I’ve been rather swamped recently due to a massive amount of Uni work and also trying to balance other things too, but hopefully I’ll be able to post more regularly. I’ve actually been working on another gaming post to stick in here, so look forward to that, should hopefully get that done within the next week.

anyway, this is just really a quick update as to what has been happening with me. There was one class in my course this semester, Fluid Flow and Heat Transfer, that I just really struggled with. Because of this, I’ve had to dedicate most of my spare time in trying to learn and understand everything we were taught. However, I’ve actually started to get it now thankfully, and because of this I’m able to give myself a bit more free time to do other things. Unfortunately that has eaten into most of my spare time, but not anymore!

In other news, I’ve been talking to the guy that runs the site I used to write for. He decided he wanted to make it just his own for a while while he figured out how he wanted to proceed, and he has now returned having completely redesigned the site, and asking about coming back. I’m glad to be going back to it again, although due to my many time constraints I don’t think I’m going to be writing reviews and articles for them, I’d prefer to do that here as it is less regular. However, I will be taking part in the podcasts and also possibly making YouTube reviews. Obviously, with me having done YouTubing for years now, I would like to think I know a good amount about how to do things, and I also have good editing software, so I’m hoping that’ll be a lot of fun!

I also tried to start up my vlogging channel again, I posted an update video about 2 weeks ago I believe, but honestly I don’t have the same passion for vlogging that I have for gaming. I feel like vlogging would be fun for if I’m away somewhere in particular, at conventions or for updates, but ultimately I just enjoy gaming too much that I often find myself procrastinating from vlogging to play Binding of Isaac: Rebirth or Civilization V. Because of this, I really don’t know if I’ll keep the vlogging channel going. However, I much prefer the “AdamGaffney96” twitter and “brand” name to GafferGames, so I’m wondering if I should maybe make it mainly a gaming channel with a bi-weekly vlog or something like that.

Anyway, this was my “short” update post, I’m going to try to post more here, keep you updated on YouTube and also the site, which by the way is found here, and yeah, thanks for reading, speak to you guys again soon!

The Importance of Music

Music is something that most people listen to in some form, no matter the genre, or if its just simple humming, music is a language everyone can speak. It can be used to communicate feelings, to get closure, or to just let you express your emotions in an easier form. Regardless, music can bring tears from a repressed memory, or it can bring happiness to anyone, it is something we all understand, and something that is vitally important in your growth as a person.

Music at the current time can probably be split into a thousand different genres, but whether you like Death Metal, Country, or Classical, the fact remains that you listen to it because you enjoy it. I happen to listen to all three genres mentioned, as well as many more, and while there are some types of music I do not enjoy, its easy to appreciate that some people may find enjoyment from it. This is because in the end, its not about a specific genre of music that evokes specific types of emotions. Yes this can happen, but most of the time, it’s not the type of music, but just the fact that it is music, that can make people happy.

I believe this is for the same reason that people enjoy films and games. Escapism. You can just sit back, and stick on a playlist, and pretend that the world isn’t there, and that everything is perfect. No matter what issues you may have in your life, when you put in those earphones, lie back and close your eyes, the whole world ceases to exists, at least for a while. Its perfect for stress relief, no matter what kind of stress you are having, as suddenly, at least for a few minutes, that is gone, and you can relax. That is possibly the best feeling in the world. Sure, you will have to return to it afterwards, but just to have that break can be the difference in how you approach a situation. The calmness and clarity you get from having the alone time can really change your perspective on a situation.

It is for this reason that I always listen to music before going in for exams. I feel relaxed, and I can listen to it and recite the things I need to remember over and over, without it stressing me out. I have actively found that I remember things better while listening to music, as I am not feeling the same levels of stress, and so I am actually able to concentrate much easier, and I know of other people who have found this too. Music has this power over us, that just causes us to relax, and really can make us work much more efficiently. Think about it, when people go out for big events, they listen to music, before exams, before anything big, there’s music, and that relaxes us.

I think it could also possibly have something to do with our roots. From the earliest cavemen, art was a way of communicating, be it through the earliest cave drawings, to music. Take it from the natives in areas secluded from the world such as the Amazon, they still live as tribal villagers, no technology, just the most basic knowledge of fire, iron, hunting etc. With all this, and no technological advances, they still have music and drawings. It is something that appeals to our basic human nature, and it is something that has always made us happy.

This is why I believe that music is important to the growth of a person. In whatever form, it gives us relaxation, a reduction in stress, and not only that, but it is basic human instinct to sing and dance and draw. These things made up early communication, and to this day it is still something that makes us happy, in all its forms. Music may divide us in the modern world with preferred genre, bands/artists, or songs, but ultimately, it is all the same. Music has always been made to bring emotion into communication, and even to this day, it can bring people to tears, or elevate them to the highest they’ve ever been. Music is a wonderful thing, and its co-evolution with humanity is something that has shaped our society, and something you can always turn to in the bleakest of times, and the best of times.