Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Phasmophobia Beginner's Guide

 For those of you who saw our attempt to play 'Phasmophobia' - the PC ghost hunting game - and couldn't tell what was happening because WE didn't have a clue what we were doing, here's a good intro to playing the beginner's level game...

Honestly, while we did have a laugh I wish we had of watched this video first as it was clear that we weren't using what equipment we had properly. 

We are going to have another go and I really hope we can make a better job of it this time! :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Bletchley Park’s contribution to WW2 'over-rated'?

The above title is a direct quote from a BBC article and it certainly is a nice piece of click-bait by whomever wrote it (kudos) as it was bound to raise the hackles of many of the BBC's core viewership. 

While professional historians seem to relish 'reformist' history as lazy way of making their pet projects sound more interesting than they actually are to the general public - by deliberately offering contrary and controversial hypothesises that fly in the face of perceived and established (or should that be 'establishment') history - they completely forget that as a culture 'we' tend to build our interpretation of history on how we prefer to believe it took place. Apologies for that very long sentence.

The 'Bletchley Park Problem' is one of those issues.

We think we all know the story, of how a group of nerds - er, sorry, mathematicians - were brought together to crack one of World War Two's greatest secrets and in doing so making one of the greatest contributions to the Allied victory. At least that's how the 2014 film 'The Imitation Game', staring Benedict Cumberbatch and Skeletor (Keira Knightley), tells the story...

My wife and I recently watched this movie as it seemed to combine both our interests in one of those 'for couples' narratives, as she is a science teacher and I like war movies! But it wasn't long into the story before my 'spidey senses' were jangling at some of the claims about the importance of the work were being pronounced by the ever tenable Mr. Cumberbatch. I mean how could Sherlock Holmes not be telling us the exact facts about, well, anything!

The crux of the problem for me was the premise that knowing the enemy's secret plans by cracking their most important code was - in effect - 'game over' and was THE event which precipitated the winning of the war.

MR. Cumberbatch's character - he was playing the tortured Alan Turin - was almost dismissive of the part played by the soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women) who put their lives on the line in direct physical combat! In an attitude which was so reminiscent of Sheldon from 'Big Bang Theory' the implication was that it was intellect that won WW2 and not the martial toil of the 'ordinary man' (or women)!

This irked me (as indeed the character Sheldon does).

Fast forward to this morning's online BBC News and this article caught my eye...

"Bletchley is not the war winner that a lot of Brits think it is," the author, Professor John Ferris of the University of Calgary, told the BBC.

Link to the BBC article: Bletchley Park’s contribution to WW2 'over-rated' By Gordon Corera

It seems that the idea that intellect is the infallible superior to 'animistic' endeavour - to put it in turn of phrase that both Sheldon and Spock would expound - is NOT the full story.

The article is definitely worth a read as it seeks to re-calibrate the strongly held notion that Britain's Intelligence (with a big 'I') was instrumental in the Allies winning the war, an idea that makes a good plot for a weird romantic movie between two weird actors doesn't quite add up in reality.

What annoyed me was how the idea that a 'bunch of boffins in a wooden hut' single-handedly brought down the Third Reich under valued and underplayed the role played by the combined arms of the Allied military forces on the beaches of Normandy, the jungles of Asia, the Steppes of Russia and the Islands of the Pacific (in the air, on the sea and on the ground)!

This expounding of the notion of technology over manual toil - to me - smacks of the old Audi moto 'Vorsprung Durch Technik' with all it's vaguely Nazi implications! And seems just as arrogant an idea as was the Nazi's desperate plan for it's 'super weapons' to win a war they had already lost.

OK, I may overstate the comparison slightly BUT while I totally admire the important contribution our boffins made to the war effort, no secret weapon or technology ever took a foot of actual enemy territory on it's own, they merely helped our forces job a little less risky.

Science and technology undoubtedly saved many, many lives during World War 2 - and beyond - but let's not forget that science and technology also ended many lives as well.

The spirit of British victory in WW2 was not the intellectual superiority of a minority of elite, but the way in which we overcame the threat of Nazism as a national whole. An idea we should perhaps remember as we try to overcome the current threat to our society of Corvid 19.

...I await a movie in a few years time when Mr. Cumberbatch dons a white coat and peers enigmatically down a microscope with nurse Keira Knightley moping his tortured brow! 😛

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Pulp Sky Adventures - 1930s Fighter Aircraft

I've just completed my latest 'peg aeroplane', a little wooden toy plane made in a cartoon style. This time I went for a historical design as the bases for my model, the classic 1930s Being P.29 'Peashooter'...

This project reminded me just how much I loved the Pulp fiction genre - sometimes called 'Diesel Punk'. Dieselpunk is a genre of Speculative Fiction based on the 1920s-1950s period, spiced up with retro-futuristic innovations and occult elements. The air adventure element of the genre fascinates me - as a fan of 'Biggles' and 'Buck Danny' - and I loved the 2004 movie 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' (who didn't)!

Anyway, this all left me keen to try some more early 1930s vintage fighters, of which there are several novel designs. Here's a few of my favourite examples...

The Dewoitine D.500 (France): To me this embodies the Art Deco spirit of the 1930s and must have inspired many a travel poster of the time! Amazingly, these planes were still in the French Air Forces inventory when the Germans invaded in WW2! How beautiful is this plane?

Grigorovich I-Z (USSR): Yes, before you say anything, there is definitely a certain similarity of design going on as with these early 30s fighter aircraft, but there again I believe that this sort of convergence of design goes on to this day (just look at today's fighter aircraft). However, what makes this typical early monoplane design stand out was it's coupling with another Soviet aircraft - the Vakhmistrov Zveno Aircraft Carrier! (I kid you not!) ---->

You can't get much more DieselPunk than that! 😊

PZL P.11 (Poland): And finally, here is one of my favourite aircraft, the distinctive P.11. I love underdogs stories and the PZL P. 11 is one of the greats - when the brave pilots of the Polish Airforce met the Luftwaffe's Me109s in their obsolete aircraft who would have imagined that they would surprise the Germans with their determination and aggression. ['A total of 285 German aircraft were lost according to Luftwaffe records, with at least 110 victories credited to the P.11 for the loss of about 100 of their own.' Wikipedia.]

If you want to read about how I went about making my little wooden P.26 then follow this lonk over to my 'Molatero' blog: Peg Monoplane (Boeing P.26) Complete

Friday, 16 October 2020

Dad & DAUGHTERS Game night! Phasmophobia.

 Had a terrific Dand'n'Daughter(s) game night this week as my older daughter - Kayleigh - joined Stacy and myself in a session of Borderlands 3 and then Phasmophobia.

Phasmophobia is a new co-operative ghost hunting game by indie company Kinetic and is available on STEAM for just £10.99. Since it's release it has become something of a phenomenon and is the darling of game vloggers at the moment, despite it's early access status.

It's not very complicated and when you read the description you might be a little sceptical about how such a - apparently - shallow game is such a buzz among the gaming community. But believe me, if you get some friends together and give it a go it become immediately apparent just how hilarious playing it can be...

Now, I'm a middle-aged bloke and 'don't believe in no ghosts' (double negative) but sitting in my man cave with the lights out and getting caught up in the shenanigans with my team really did start to get to me! The growing nervousness was palpable, and even I started getting all high-pitched and jumpy! 😂

I highly recommend this as a terrific 'party game' and although it has it's flaws I'd still say it was definitely worth the money for the amount of laughs and scares we had on the night.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

What I'm Watching on YouTube - September 2020

 While I sit doing hobby stuff - like military model making - I usually have YouTube playing away on my laptop for some background entertainment (who says men can't multi-task)! 😄

I have featured some of my favourite military themed YouTube channels in the past, but I have (many) other interest and my 'watch list' is pretty eclectic. So I thought I'd share with you some of the stuff that amuses and entertains me...

1. 7 Days To Die - Cabin In The Woods: Glock9
I really got heavily into the zombie survival/crafting PC game and although I've since moved onto other games I still like to keep up to date with how the game is evolving (up to version Alpha 19 now) and enjoy seeing what's new.

Now, there are many 7D2D vloggers by I have found that Glock9's amiable commentary to be among the most listenable and entertaining. I like his selection of personal challenges that he sets himself for his series, the current - 'Cabin in the Woods' - being to upgrade and defend a single small dwelling against a game setting of a horde every night! Sit back and enjoy... 

2. Gta 5 Challenge - Survive The Hunt #27: FailRace
While I really enjoyed GTA 5 as a single player experience I never really got into the lively online multiplayer version of the game. That said, if there would be one GTA game format that would get me to have a try it would be 'Survive the Hunt', a modded online version of hide and seek!

If this doesn't sound very exciting I would beg to differ and suggest you take a look at one of FailRace's game recordings. I personally find this very watchable eSport and would rather watch a session of this than a televised game of football or other sport! Each to their own I suppose...

3. Matchbox Maserati 4CLT Custom: Paul Youdelis
Diecast toy restoration isn't a hobby bug that I have caught - for once - but I do find the process absolutely fascinating. Paul Youdelis is one of a growing community of hobbiests who get a kick out of taking an old bashed up and neglected classic diecast vehicle and restoring it to something like it's former glory.

As a kid I myself had a collection of Matchbox, Dinky and Corgi diecast vehicles - mostly military - that will played with to destruction, so I love seeing some of these toys being given a second life and bringing joy to another owner. This story is typical and heartwarming...

4. The Search for the Real Necronomicon: Mysterious Middle East
As a fan of the horror author H. P. Lovecraft I am intrigued by the origins of his fictional Mythos and so am always on the lookout for videos concerning ancient mythology, religious pantheons and the occult.

However, my world view is very much that of a Westerner and it's history so I was intrigued when I came across the Mysterious Middle East YouTube channel as I know practically nothing about Eastern and Oriental mythology and religious origin stories. Who knew that there really was a Necronomocon?

5. The Tingler | Welcome To The Basement: BlameSociety
I'm a big movie geek and I'm particularly fond of 'classics' and 'cult' movies - good and bad - so it should come as no surprise I watch a lot of YouTube movie reviews. I particularly like film deconstructions, where the YouTuber/s attempt to interpret the meaning/s behind particular movies - it's always interesting to hear other views and perhaps disagree with them or have my own theories endorsed!

'Welcome to the Basement' is a delightfully witty - mainly of the 'Dad humour ' type 😉 - watch party where a couple of movie geeks view a selected 'classic' and give a running commentary of  stuff that you were probably thinking when you watched it or will think when you get around to watching it. Sometimes their 'review' is enough to tell you whether it's perhaps a movie that you should maybe skip! 😄

At any rate, there is enough good cinematic facts peppered throughout the shenanigans to make this series of videos well worth a watch...Welcome to the basement!

Well, that's it for now, though I will probably update this selection every so often. Hope you find something here that you might find enetertaining!