Cyberpunk Column

John Mills
Diversions Editor 

My favorite sci-fi author, and likely my favorite author of all time, is John Scalzi. Scalzi is the owner, operator, author of one of the oldest blogs on the internet, “Whatever.” Now, why bother mentioning this seemingly inane bit of trivia? Well, the powers that be (i.e., the editors) saw fit to let me write a column. Well, they saw fit to let me try writing one this issue. I suspect I will disappoint in spectacular fashion, but in the spirit of Scalzi’s twenty-year-long exercise in writing about whatever he feels like, I present to you my own opinions on things. This issue, cyberpunk. 

Now I realize that that was a bit of a hard cut, something akin to throwing the hand brake while in fifth gear. What goes into cyberpunk? Cyberpunk is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while, as it stands as one of my favorite genres in fiction. Here are a few key aspects of the genre that I find most defining. 

The first is advanced technology, usually with an emphasis on electronics, usually in both the industrial and consumer sectors. Think of yet to come phones or other personal electronic devices, implanted electronics, more advanced and connected internet. Despite whatever particulars may vary between settings, a massive increase in the usage and massive decrease in physical size of computers is a staple of the setting. Its worth noting human augmentation often dovetails in with this theme.  

Second is color. Most cyberpunk seems to believe the future will be lit up in frankly blinding levels of neon. If this is the future that awaits us, frankly I can’t wait. The more neon the better in my humble opinion. “The Matrix” movies are a notable exception to this trait, but it’s common enough in most other representations of the genre to be worth noting. A future without neon is not a future I want to live in. 

Coming in third is a two-pronged subject: the rise of mega-corporations and the stark increase in income inequality. The inspiration behind these themes is pretty easy to see today. Large corporations like GE, Wal-Mart and dozens of other massive conglomerates seems to control excessive amounts of power and influence due in large part to their brain-meltingly massive revenue. Meanwhile, the majority of their employees may not even get paid a living wage. 

Fourth and last is heavy Asian influence. I have to confess I don’t actually know who started this trend, but it’s very prevalent in the genre. I’m going to hazard a guess and say the original “Ghost in the Shell” movie played a large part in the trend.

Additional examples include 1982’s “Blade Runner” to 2011’s “Deus Ex: Human Revolution,” or obviously, this year’s live action remake of “Ghost in the Shell.” I suspect the extreme urban development seen in Japan, China, and other countries like Singapore in the last two decades mirrors the physical setting of many dystopian futures that cyberpunk seeks to convey.  

Why do I love cyberpunk? Ignoring my undefendable love of neon, I like the idea the downtrodden making a life for themselves in a system that would happily forget they exist. The drive shown by these characters is an inspiration I think we can all take something from, even if we don’t have a computer stapled to our skulls. 

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Column of Whatever: Hard Video Games Make Life Fun 

John Mills
Diversions Editor 

In this third installment of the Column of Whatever, I felt like talking about video games—since I’ve never talked about those before (ignoring all the video game reviews I’ve written, cough cough). I have an entirely consequence-free confession to make: I like hard video games.

This will make sense in a moment. Anyhow, the latest Call of Duty game released in the last couple weeks and it’s gone back to WWII, which reminded me of my favorite WWII shooter on the market: Rising Storm/Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad.

That’s a complicated title, due in large part to the fact that it’s actually two games packaged together. Rising Storm is the Pacific theater add-on for the Eastern Front focused Red Orchestra. They are sold together through Steam for $19.99. 

In any event, Red Orchestra has garnered a well earned reputation for absurd difficulty, brutal realism, and addictively satisfying gameplay when you get over the initial difficulties. For those experienced with multi-player first person shooter games, you are probably familiar with the concept of a kill-to-death ratio, that most sacred of metrics to measure player ability with.

The more kills you get per death, the better you are at the game. It’s a simple to understand metric that has been popular since the release of the first player-versus-player shooters. Red Orchestra simply laughs at the concept. The in-match player list records each player’s team points, individual points, and kills.

For anyone coming into the game as a new player, you will likely die five or more times for every kill you get, depending on your experience with shooters in general. Aside from that, it is a truly enjoyable game, if dying often is your thing. 

Red Orchestra is not the only difficult game I adore. In the same vein, there is Verdun, a WWI shooter with similar traits, such as accurate weapon performance and terrifyingly quick deaths.

I have also found an abiding love for realistic simulators like Falcon 4.0 BMS or DCS, both highly detailed flight simulators. Flight sims are something I expect many at this school have a deep familiarity with, for obvious reasons.

Other games in my collection that have more of a learning cliff than curve are Dangerous Waters—a high-fidelity submarine simulator—and Rogue System, which is a space simulator in the style of “every-button-is-usuable” flight simulators.

Rogue System also accurately portrays the challenges of navigating in space, with equally accurate orbital mechanics. To start a ship from just reserve battery power in Rogue System requires a solid ten minutes and a checklist that would put a real-world light aircraft to shame. It’s a fantastic feeling the first time you start up a ship from reserve power and everything works as it should.  

It would be reasonable at this point to ask “Why?” To that, I would have to say I don’t totally know, just that when I see something described as “realistic,” I immediately become interested. 

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Classic Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront II (2005) 

By Garrett Palmquist
Copy Editor

In light of recent events in the video game industry (namely Electronic Arts reducing a legendary “Star Wars” game series to a pay-to-win money-grabbing scheme), it seems apt to return to one of the greatest “Star Wars” games of all time: the original Star Wars Battlefront II (BF2). 

Many gamers who are now in their twenties remember BF2 with fondness—it was the perfect “Star Wars” first-person shooter that allowed players to relive the greatest battles of the series. BF2 was originally released just a few months after “Star Wars: Episode III” in 2005, catching the international “Star Wars” hype and riding it to commercial success.

And now, with Disney pumping out new “Star Wars” movies, a fresh wave of desire for new games has gripped the world. Sadly, the call for the next great game set in a galaxy far, far away was heeded by Electronic Arts. 

Electronic Arts is responsible for the newest entry into the series—unoriginally dubbed “Star Wars Battlefront II,” with the only differentiation in title being the release date.

This updated version includes expensive microtransactions that have reduced the legendary game series to a pay-to-win scheme designed to abuse fans’ desires to play as their favorite characters in order to justify expensive loot crates.

While Electronic Arts has temporarily scrapped the idea of microtransactions, it is worth noting their original logic (based on a post from a “Star Wars” fansite): 

Should a player wish to unlock every part of the game, including the heroes, by actually playing the game, it will require at least 4,528 hours of playtime. That’s six months of playing. 

Should a player wish to unlock every part of the game, including the heroes, by purchasing loot boxes, the estimated cost is around $2,100. 

Compare this to BF2 from 2005—the focus of this review—which is currently $9.99 on Steam for every map, upgrade, and hero, and the choice becomes obvious. 

BF2 from 2005 (which will be the topic of the remainder of this review, for clarity’s sake) recently resurged in popularity as Microsoft reopened the 64-player PC servers for the game in late Oct. 2017. Thousands of players have returned to the game—myself included.

Recent first-person player-versus-player shooters have made me soft, it seems, as BF2 can be unforgiving. A well-balanced squad with effective communication is required in order to seize the day—the types of players that many modern multiplayer games are lacking in (I’m looking at you, Overwatch).  

Players have their choice of six classes, including a unique hero, on each map. Play in the era of the Republic or the Galactic Empire, with era-appropriate characters, heroes, and vehicles at your disposal. Take Naboo as the droid army CIS, or rewrite galactic history and have the Rebellion take over the Death Star.

Galactic Conquest, the fan favorite mode that plays out like a strategy game mixed in with first-person shooting, makes a triumphant return as well. In addition, support for player mods is still active, opening up the fight to thousands of player-made maps. 

In one of the first games I played in the new multiplayer, 15 Yoda’s leaped and Force pushed their way through the desert streets of Tatooine.

Where else can you find a dozen-or-more tiny green aliens somersaulting in the air and yelling incoherently? Battlefront II from 2005, that’s where—once again available on PC for a fraction of what the legendary game is truly worth. 

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Air Line Pilots Association and Women in Aviation Hold Roundtable Event

By: David Naftzger


Members of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) ACE club along with ERAU’s Women in Aviation International (WAI) chapter recently got the opportunity to network with companies in the aviation industry.

ERAU’s ALPA ACE club and WAI chapter hosted their second annual aviation networking roundtable event on March 23, 2017, in the Lower Hangar.

Companies in attendance were Southwest Airlines, Idaho Division of Aeronautics, FedEx Express, Alaska ACE Cargo, STA Jets, SkyWest Airlines, Arizona Air National Guard, Papillon Helicopters and the FBI Flight Division.

Students got the opportunity to visit three tables for 20 minutes each to discuss the company located at the table and ask any questions to their potential future employers.

Captain Katherine Wallace from Southwest Airlines talked about company internships in Dallas as well as transitioning from her flight training in New Zealand to falling in love with flying in the U.S.

Prescott campus alumni and former flight instructor Shelby King, who now flies for a corporate company called Zetta Jet, out of California, talked about the transition of flying a single engine Cessna 172 to flying a Bombardier Global Express corporate jet around the world.

Another guest to the roundtable was Lt. Col. Eric Wichman who flies a KC-135 for Arizona National Guard along with a Boeing 747 for United Airlines.

He talked to students about flying for both the National Guard and a civilian airline as well as some of the perks of doing both types of flying.

Current president of the ALPA ACE club and Aeronautical Science senior Christian Lambert said regarding the event: “This is our second annual roundtable event we’ve done with Women in Aviation, and we were very happy with the turnout this year.”

Not only did the event take months of planning from both WAI and ALPA ACE, but much work was also done by Merrie Heath in Career Services and the College of Aviation.

Embry-Riddle WAI chapter president and Aeronautical Science senior Claire Schindler said, “Last year Tanner Novak, who is the former president of ALPA ACE, got together along with Merrie Heath in Career Services, and we wanted to throw an event that showed all aspects of the aviation industry besides airlines.

So Tanner and I reached out to people we knew, which is what Christian and I did this year and I think we had a very good turnout of guests.”

Schindler went on to say: “Women in Aviation is an international group which has chapters all over the world and promotes women in the aviation field and help women with their careers. They do a lot of scholarships along with community service events at least once a month.”

The ALPA ACE club at ERAU provides students with the opportunity to meet and network with industry professionals from around the country through regular trips and monthly meetings that expose them to all aspects of aviation.

This year’s roundtable event was a great opportunity for students to learn more about the aviation industry and meet industry professionals on a personal level. Joining either of these organizations on campus is easy through Control Tower on ERNIE!


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Students debate costs, benefits of Affordable Care Act

Fixes to healthcare important, should reflect desires of the people

By: Jake Delinger

Whether this country likes it or not, the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, must budge.

After almost a decade since its implementation, there is a national understanding that many of the bill’s more expansive policies are not working, despite the success of some policies within it.

While it might indeed be tempting to weigh the benefits of a Ship-of-Theseus-style approach, in which the act is changed piece by piece into a more sustainable and economical bill, it raises a key question: If the end goal is a new bill, one that tackles the key difficulties of the present bill’s structure, then why the piecemeal, incremental change?

If the health and financial security of every American is on the line, this would be a case in which the band-aid approach of a complete overhaul is in order.

When the United States realized separate-but-equal was inherently unequal, their approach wasn’t to target the hiring, then the financing, then so on and so on until the problem was addressed.

When the Court reached its decision, its orders were firm; proceed with “all deliberate speed”.

As it stands, the American Health Care Act as proposed by House Republicans so far fails to meet these standards, opting instead for a plan that either keeps some Obamacare policies temporarily, or leaves many of the original propositions, such as pre-existing conditions and mandatory health benefits insurers must provide, entirely intact!

Regardless of political alignment or personal beliefs on the matter, neither party should support a half-baked bill of any sort.

Trying to keep together a bill already strained at the seams from years of partisan fighting and budgetary grandstanding will only serve to prevent real and very much needed reform from taking place.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that as it stands, this bill, labeled ironically as “Obamacare Lite” would actually result in more people losing coverage than under a straight-to-the-point repeal of Obamacare as proposed in 2016 (23 million from full repeal to 24 million from AHCA).

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue in the matter; the nation deserves an honest talk on the pros and cons of Obamacare and a dialogue on how the United States proceeds with fixing numerous embedded problems in its system.

Whether this takes the form of single-payer systems such as those in many European countries and in the early drafts of the original bill or takes the form of nationwide competition-based markets proposed by several Republican senators and representatives in Congress, the political landscape of the United States presents to us a simple fact: the longer we straddle the fence arguing over this, the more we pay for it in time, money, capital, and lives.

It is with this in mind that I argue that the United States can’t afford the systematic approach when it is the very system that is broken.

Repealing and replacing, as a legislative tool, forces this country to come up with something, anything to address the broken system we have now. Cut your losses, put on your working boots, and let’s get serious about making a real fix decades overdue.

ACA issues are what the American peoples pays for

By: John Mills

American health care is dead, long live the American health care. Within twenty four hours of the writing of this article, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often known as Obamacare.

The ACA has been the subject of countless tirades, think pieces, and an ever-present object of argument since its passage in 2010. With the election of President Trump, the repeal of the ACA has been looming, given that such action was a focal point of Trump’s campaign.

However, people opposed the Republican-alternative American Health Care Act (AHCA)—from congress members and legislators to health insurance experts across the spectrum—have essentially agreed that the bill is unworkable and catastrophic.

Nonetheless, the Republicans are determined on repealing Obamacare, even without a working solution.

Republicans within the coming days are poised to repeal ACA, so unless the House Democrats can pull out a miracle, millions of Americans are going to lose their healthcare coverage.

At its peak, the ACA brought the rate of those without health insurance down to an estimated 11.0% in one Gallup poll.

Other statisticians showed the uninsured rate nationally as low as 9.8%. What is known for sure is that the uninsured rate fell across every congressional district in the United States.

The ACA also optionally expanded Medicaid, which led to people getting preventive care that reduced emergency room visits.

A Harvard University professor of health economics conducted a study in 2016 that found that residents of Arkansas and Kentucky, which both accepted the Medicaid expansion, had lower rates of emergency room visits and fewer instances of difficulty with medical bills than residents in Texas, which did not accept the expansion.

It has been proven that access to preventative health care reduces emergency room visits, which are often more expensive to both the patient and taxpayer.

The healthcare debate is extremely complicated and multifaceted. There’s no two ways about it, especially given the almost organic way the U.S.-health insurance developed in the post-WWII world.

The way the AHCA has been rushed into completion, with Sean Spicer famously bragging that the reduced size of the bill meant reduced government, is dangerous. The ACA wasn’t perfect.

Not counting the mess of its roll-out, it raised average health insurance prices for some people who needed them to be reduced, didn’t cover everyone with what they needed; however, there was no way it was going to be perfect for the estimated 242 million adults in the U.S.

Instead of ripping out some of the most critical aspects of the ACA, such as the individual and employer mandates that saw the numbers of uninsured Americans fall to historic lows recently, the Republicans should have striven to replace the parts that were ineffectual or actually harmful to the American public.

Instead the rushed, broken solution they are jamming through the legislative branch is bound to create more problems and hurt more people than Obamacare did. It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow over the next four years.

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Top 10 People to Watch in Washington

By: Wesley Stine


The election of last November left most Americans quite fed up with politics, and certainly many of us are quite happy to be thinking about it less.

But for those who are the exceptions, and those who just want to know what the future holds, it’s important to know who to watch in Washington.

Here’s the list, quick and dirty: the ten men and women who will have the most to say about the future of our country.

  1. President Donald Trump

He is the oldest and wealthiest U.S. president. He is the only one who never worked in government before. He is the first Republican since Reagan to win the Upper Midwest. And, if his words can be taken at face value, he is going to drain the swamp and make America great again.

  1. Senator Chuck Schumer

After Harry Reid’s retirement, Senator Schumer of New York assumed the mantle of leadership for Senate Democrats. Numbering 46, they are the biggest impediment to Donald Trump’s forces. In the House, minorities have no power; in the Senate, things are different.

If Schumer plays his cards well, the country will get a seriously watered-down version of the Trump reforms, changing the future of taxes, health care, industrial regulations, and the makeup of the Supreme Court. In the unfolding drama in Washington, Trump and Schumer are the captains of the opposing hosts.

  1. Judge Neil Gorsuch

The young judge from Colorado is the son of Anne Gorsuch Burford, Ronald Reagan’s Environmental Protection Agency chief who presided over a great era of deregulation.

Now about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch will be in a strong position to realize his philosophy of government.

Skeptical of regulatory and executive power and favoring a small federal government and strict interpretation of the Constitution, the new justice will prove instrumental in shaping the future of American government.

  1. Justice Anthony Kennedy

Kennedy is the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court, and the crucial swing vote, nearly always getting his way.

For the last 25 years, the law on abortion, capital punishment, gun rights, corporate speech, and same-sex marriage has been whatever Kennedy said it was, earning him the nickname “the King of America.”

But even the mightiest king cannot remain in power beyond the confines of his mortal life, and Kennedy is now 80 years old. Whether, and when, he chooses to retire will determine who gets to pick his successor, and the next quarter-century of American law will be up for grabs.

  1. Chief Justice John Roberts

Chief Justice Roberts, appointed by President Bush in 2005, is regarded by many conservatives as a turncoat. The ire is ill-deserved; he has only broken with conservative orthodoxy on one big issue: when he voted to uphold the individual mandate out of a principled belief in judicial restraint.

On all other issues, such as abortion, gun rights, corporate speech, and same-sex marriage, Roberts has been a champion of the right.

Still, he is the most moderate of the conservatives, so if Trump appoints a few more originalists like Gorsuch, it will be Roberts who determines how far to the right the Court goes. The future of affirmative action, religious liberty, and the Tenth Amendment is at stake.

  1. Senator Mitch McConnell

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has the difficult job of getting the Republican agenda through the filibuster-prone, narrowly split Senate. With just 52 Senators, he will have a tough time getting his way.

Conservative legislation on things such as defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare, or splitting the Ninth Circuit can pass the House quite easily; it will be Mitch McConnell’s proficiency in the endless game of cat-herding that determines whether it gets through the Senate.

  1. House Speaker Paul Ryan

In the Senate power is spread out pretty evenly – that’s why the minority leader is important, and why it’s so hard to get controversial bills through. The House is different. It is almost as if Speaker Ryan is the House.

Without the filibuster to force the involvement of the minority, Speaker Ryan can get an affirmative vote on any legislation the Republicans can be sold on.

But managing his own party is becoming increasingly harder, and whether the Trump reforms are large or small will depend largely on what sort of compromises Ryan can work about between moderate Republicans and the Liberty and Freedom Caucuses.

  1. Secretary of Defense James Mattis

Mattis, a former Marine General, is different from other Secretaries of Defense. He has devoted his life toward studying and applying the art of war, summed up in his maxim: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to “cut off the head of ISIS,” “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” and “take away the oil.” James Mattis’ job is to work out the details.

  1. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Betsy DeVos has devoted her life to education reform. Her support for school choice, vouchers, and charter schools is all part of a broad push to make it so that parents, not bureaucrats, have the biggest say in how a child is educated.

She was confirmed by the narrowest margin of any Trump appointee, scraping by on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence. The special interests, full of wrath, are arrayed against her. The outcome of the fight could determine the future of educational freedom in America.

  1. Vice President Mike Pence

The vice-president isn’t usually a powerful person. His job is to break ties in the Senate, and take over if the president dies. But Donald Trump is no ordinary president. As a man with no prior experience in government, he is especially likely to lean on the advice of others.

Pence, chosen for his executive experience as governor of Indiana, is one of the most influential men around. Trump’s advanced age means Pence might ascend to the presidency, and when the Trump years are over, he will have the best chance of succeeding him.

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A Happy Family

By: Meaghan Moeller


Lily was playing with her dolls again. Georgia shook her head and redirected her attention away from her daughter and back to the dishes she was cleaning.

There were more dishes than she would have expected two adults and a three-year-old were capable of dirtying in a single day.

Nevertheless, she wiped and scrubbed the dishes every night before putting Lily to bed.

On the other side of the kitchen, Lily was swinging her three dolls back and forth two at a time, babbling half in English, half in gibberish.

Even though all of her dolls were distinctly human, one of them was currently a dragon attacking the other two, and one was a knight who would slay the dragon.

In the dining room, Thomas chuckled at the adorable roaring sounds that were currently emanating from his beautiful daughter before turning back to his nightly exercise: the household budget.

He sometimes took his page of calculations into the kitchen to ask Georgia’s opinion on where to cut back to better pay off their loans, but often there was little more they could sacrifice.

Tonight was fairly good, as Georgia finished the dishes early and got a chance to cuddle and play with Lily before it was her bedtime.

Thomas decided that because both he and Georgia had recently worked much overtime, there were no cuts needed this week, and, in fact, he could afford to take his family out for dinner on Saturday.

Georgia’s face lit up at the news from her husband and Lily giggled in delight at seeing her parents so very happy. She soon became impatient though, as Georgia had stopped playing the dragon.

Thomas leapt from his chair with a lizard-like roar and scooped Lily up into his arms, who in turn shrieked with joy as she began hitting her dad’s head with the knight-doll.

When bedtime came, Lily was tired enough to go to sleep almost as soon as being tucked in and her parents sighed in relief. And yet a couple of hours later, when they went to bed as well, Lily crawled in between them only a few minutes after.

Thomas smiled to himself, despite knowing he would likely be kicked awake multiple times during the night. Georgia kissed Lily’s forehead, who had already fallen asleep again, and adjusted her daughter’s position so that her head would not get stuck under the covers. The three of them slept soundly through the night.

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