If Government Were a Business

WARNING! The following is a stream-of-conciousness opinion article that may or may not be easily refuted by facts. It’s a thought experiment more than anything, and if you disagree with it, well you’re perfectly entitled to that opinion. I have done zero research in making this argument and thus if you can credibly debunk it, fair enough.

So, it seems that as a society, we’ve gotten the idea in our heads that government needs a businessman to run it. I forget where I read it the other day, but I saw an op-ed that made the case that, if government isn’t a business, why do we want businessmen to run it?

I know the whole business angle tends to lead to the idea of privatizing everything, with the idea that private enterprise can do it better. This applies to stuff like health care, which up here in Canada is taken for granted as being an essential right and thus something that needs to be available to all. Whether or not the system is well-run (it could use some reform, I just don’t know how exactly that should be done), no Canadian politician who wants to be taken seriously would advocate abolishing Medicare.

(Aside: This patent “reform” that foreign parties want to foist on us could help in getting our costs going sky-high, given it would lengthen the amount of time medical patents apply in Canada, but that’s another story for another day)

In fact, it’s the US health care system that got me to write this thing – someone I know online who requires certain medications to function could get royally screwed over by the system potentially when she gets older, so I figured now’s as good a time as any to articulate this thought experiment.

And said experiment: Let’s assume for a minute here that government IS in fact a business. What does this entail?

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Useless Transformer Op-Eds: The Botcon 2012 boxset, part 2

So, time to talk about the next figure that was announced to be in the Botcon 2012 boxset.

Aside: This was gonna be a discussion of the next two. But then as it turns out I had a LOT to say about this one. So yeah.

  • Shattered Glass “Sir” Soundwave

Soundwave is one of those characters who has had some….well, interesting, feedback. Back in the Botcon 2008 Shattered Glass comic, he turned up as a repurposed version of the “Sonic White” Music Label Soundwave figures, which was white save for blue head/highlights here and there. Which worked at the time, and probably gave a few people incentive to actually buy that deco.

But then they changed it up in the next year – as a prequel of sorts to the 2009 club comics, which revisited the Shattered Glass universe, Soundwave turned up and got character development – and a new alternate form on Earth. Namely, he now turned into a music van (specifically, a van for the Shattered Glass version of Cold Slither, a Cobra musical group from the GI Joe cartoon), made a bandana from a nearby flag, and was quickly established as an awesome kickass groovy heroic Decepticon. He got a lot of development in the prose stories, and was even knighted – thus the “Sir” I appended to his name earlier.

However, this new design? It used the Universe Ironhide mold.

Where to begin about that? Well, the Ironhide mold has a number of flaws, including an odd backpack and a head that is permanently looking down due to poor design. So naturally, fans were somewhat upset when it turned out that, surprise surprise, he’s using the toy they gave him in the comics back in 2009, as back then, honestly, it WAS a decent enough fit for the character given a)music van and b) Soundwave style chest. However, going off the pics, it appears that Botcon has actually gone and, in designing the new head, compensated for this looking down drawback. All good, right?

Not quite…. honestly, I’m not sure on the height of the faceplate. It feels more like an Optimus Prime head and less a Soundwave head due to how tall the faceplate is. Is this nitpicky? Hell yes it is, but it is sorta true as well.

The other major complaint people had about the head was, well, what wasn’t there. Namely, the headband bandana he’s had in every appearance since getting this altmode, including in the Botcon promo art itself. Here is where PR stuff sorta went to hell, largely because people were expecting the bandana due to it being in the art, and Pete Sinclair of the TCC sought to alleviate people by informing them they could buy the bandana at the con.

Now, they had valid reasons for making this choice. The list Pete gave online makes sense to me. Namely, Fun Pub appears to be making them themselves, rather than farming them out to the Chinese factory. But it still rubs me the wrong way that in order to have a complete Soundwave, you’re going to have to PAY for a little yellow headband accessory to complete his canon look. In the long run, it would have probably been a better idea to just drop the headband in the promoart/story altogether, and Pete himself admitted this, so that said I suppose I should give them kudos for trying to go the extra mile, at the very least.

Besides, odds are if the factory was doing the headband, they’d muck it up in the same way that Nightbeat’s antennae and Punch/Counterpunch’s head size were mucked up without informing the Fun Pub folks until the deed was done. And like they sorta did with G2 Ramjet as the factory did an unplanned remold to give him a rubber nosecone.

Useless Transformer Op-Eds: The Botcon 2012 boxset, part 1

So, with registration having now gone up today for Botcon 2012, we’ve finally gotten a glance at all the plastic goodies that will be in the 2012 boxset.

Albeit, in crappy thumbnail form, save for the four figures who already got complete reveals.

So, that said, as someone who hasn’t gone to Botcon, yet owns most of 2010’s set and all of 2011’s exclusives (save for the customizing class figure), what dost I think of the reveals we’ve had so far?

…well, first of all, WOW that’s a lot of blues and reds. Seriously, Ultra Magnus, Metalhawk, and Tracks all are pretty much exclusively red and blue, which adds a fairly…. well, to put it frankly, the set feels a little TOO unified in colorscheme as a result, albeit unintentionally.

But as for individual thoughts? I’ll start with them in order of reveal so far:

    • “The Overlord”, Gigatron

Gigatron’s an interesting duck in that he’s, well, completely not what I expected the mold to be. Overlord is a character I picture as tall, imposing, bulky but streamlined in a boxy way. And awesome, as Nick Roche and James Roberts made him in the “Last Stand of the Wreckers” mini.

So him being the Bludgeon mold threw me, given it didn’t fit whatsoever my image of what Overlord should be. It was too small, too bulky, and Overlord was nothing like a samurai whatsoever! And thus the Nick Roche-lips head they stuck on, though not a bad remold, seemed out of place.

Then people started pointing out that Giga, the Japanese Powermaster from who the name “Gigatron” is derived (as you can’t easily trademark Overlord) was very samurai in appearance. Suddenly, this started fitting a little better, and once I cleared out the expectation that I would be getting the badass LSOTW Overlord in this set, and instead a new interpretation of the character, I found myself warming up to what is admittedly a fairly solid mold.

  • SG Tracks, the Evil Autobot

Shattered Glass is a contentious theme among Transformers fans – some love it, some hate it. The idea of alternate mirror universe Transformers is a neat one for a set, but honestly? I think Botcon’s a bit too in love with the concept, given how every year since 2008 has had at least one Shattered Glass exclusive available at Botcon. (Plus, 2009 and 2012 both have SG exclusives through the club itself).

That said, Tracks is a nice looking homage to Road Rage – the name retroactively assigned to the original Diaclone-era deco of the toy that would become Tracks upon his release in North America by Hasbro. Altmode is gorgeous – he’s a nice looking red car.

But then we have robot mode. Where his head/arms/missiles are blue. And honestly? For me, the contrast seemed, well, out of place. Red/Blue is something that can look garish, and not in an awesome way like the insanely, cranked-up-to-11 garish decoes of Generation 2 era toys. No, this is something that just naturally seems to clash, and as such, despite it being a solid deco, toy, and homage, I’m not enthused by this figure.

More Botcon toy musings and thoughts to come in the next update!

Celebrating 5 Years of BT Toons!

(The following was originally posted at the BT Toons beta site.)

So, some of you have probably noticed that I haven’t posted a new comic yet this week. At least, I hope you have.

Tuesday I had a valid excuse, Friday’s update…..

Well, I’ll let next week’s comic speak for itself.

More importantly though, As of January 1, 2012, BT Toons has now been going for five years! So that said, I guess I should throw out some thank yous, in case those I credited ever see them:

-Sledgehammer70 – for starting the original BTT website, taking me on as a mod, and eventually running my webcomic and helping out with the initial setup/management.

-Brian_177/Payne/whatever he goes by nowadays – back in the day, he was the BTT admin who first lured and recruited me over to the BT Tournaments boards from ME-MW. Oh, what a mess that was back in the day among Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth fansites. (And holy cow, that whole fansite brouhaha which, though significant to me at the time, was a footnote in the footnotes of the internet that happened over 5 years ago now….. scary.)

-Neutralvibe and the rest of the GRGN crew for keeping the comic on after Sledge divested himself of the site. It’s really pretty scary when I think about it that of the original cast members of the comic who were loosely based on site mods and admins, I’m the only one who’s actually still affiliated with the site.

-Special thanks to everyone who I’ve messaged online and used (and hopefully not abused too badly) as a sounding board on drafts of scripts and stories. Most prominently, this category features Pikabot and Malunis.

-And on a more black humorish note, I guess I sorta need to thank that whole BFME fandom schism mess for eventually putting me on the track where I’d find myself drawing a webcomic, and not just that, but keeping with it. I honestly am still astounded that I’m drawing a comic on a regular basis 5 years later.

And of course, as I say that, here I am making this post in a week where I haven’t actually drawn a new comic…. but hey! This still isn’t bad as April 2010, when after finishing exams I found myself struggling to get back on to the comic saddle!

BT Toons can be read on the GRGN network at http://www.bttoons.com or at http://bttoons.tobomi.com

Tekno Reviews: Kamen Rider Fourze Meteor Galaxy Fingerprint Authentication Brace

Once more branching outside of Transformers, I take a look at the latest addition to the growing legion of Kamen Rider Fourze roleplay toys. View my review of the Meteor Galaxy Driver belt here: www.youtube.com