Tag Archives: Opinion

Trump is full of himself, not real solutions

Kelsi Gately

Staff Writer

Republican candidate, Donald Trump speaks to thousands at the Pensacola Bay Center. Photo by Kelsi Gately.


I am by no means a supporter of Donald Trump, one of the 11 main candidates campaigning to be the Republican nominee for president in the 2016 election. On Wednesday, I attended the Trump rally at the Pensacola Bay Center where he addressed both supporters and non-supporters about why he is right choice to be our nation’s next president.

However, I was sadly mistaken to think I would actually hear Trump’s real stance on the issues America faces. Instead, I waited in line for an hour to sit for another hour, to listen to Trump talk about himself and criticize his opponents and the media.

I have not been not a Trump fan since he announced he was running, and I was hoping by attending I would change my view. Before attending, I went to Trump’s website and looked at some of his positions to have a better understanding of his views. I agree that we need to have better services offered to our veterans and that we need to work hard to get big business in America instead of outsourcing labor to other countries. But Trump didn’t speak on these issues for all but five minutes of his hour-long speech.

I don’t understand why someone would want to vote for someone who doesn’t understand how to make Congress to work together. Congress is the body who makes the majority of the decisions. The President simply proposes what he or she wants to do, and Congress has to vote on it.

There were thousands of people who attended the rally, and many were UWF students. Current supporter of both Ben Carson and Donald Trump, UWF student Kevin Perez attended to give his support. Perez says he believes it is important for a candidate to defend their beliefs and have a conservative stance in running the country.

“I think that nations will respect us more if we have a backbone to say no to things that we do not want,” said Perez, senior communications major. “I believe that as a superpower, we should be leaders, not followers, in the world. Heck, even Putin gave Trump respect.”

Yes, Trump has a backbone, but he is not going to be able to run a country the way he runs his businesses. He cannot go and fire anyone he wants in Congress, because “we the people” are the ones who put them in office. The next few months are going to show what the citizens of the United States want, and hopefully we are able choose someone who will make a difference in Washington.

UWF social work and service learning in Guatemala: A student’s perspective


Photo by Kenneth King.

Kenneth King

Contributing Writer

When riding through the streets of Guatemala City, one cannot sit still. It is impossible. The roads are an endless path of cracks and potholes. You shift right, left, and then right again as the tires take a beating from an already beaten road. The honking never ceases, it just becomes a part of the conversation.

Fearless motorcyclists whiz by as they navigate between buses, trucks, and potholes while their girlfriends hold on for their lives. The fumes spewing out of rotten exhaust pipes assault one’s sense of smell, as everything begins to smell like burning trash.

It was good to get away from Pensacola, and an even better to get away from Guatemala City as we headed eastward to Zacapa.

Zacapa is a rural area that truckers pass through on a regular basis. Tourists are scarce in this part of Guatemala. It is where we, a contingent of University of West Florida students, spent the majority of our time. We handed out donations and learned about the social work programs of the country, which take place in women’s cooperatives, hospitals, and shelters.

However, one scene that still enters my mind everyday was a local dumpsite.

The smell of burning trash was so piercing that it induced a spell of slight dizziness. Collections of plastic were overflowed from black garbage bags. Dogs trotted and scavenged through the grey, toxic dirt – their rib cages exposed beneath their golden fur.

This was the Teculután dump. This filth was also home to roughly three hundred families. It was home for mothers, fathers and children who lived in makeshift tents.

Vultures picked through the trash side by side with the families. The vultures plucked what they wanted with their sharp beaks. The families used their dirt-coated hands.

I could not help but to be overwhelmed with emotion. The longer we stayed in Zacapa, the farther away we were from the United States and its problems. Now, however, we were face-to-face with the problems of Guatemala.

Unlike developed nations, there is no safety net for the poor in Guatemala. Those who fall sick must bring their own supplies to already overcrowded hospitals. We witnessed this firsthand at the Zacapa Health Clinic. We saw families huddled against the walls as they waited for their turn to be treated.

Fortunately, not all moments were those of sorrow. The non-governmental organization we worked with, Hearts in Motion (HIM), hosts an annual pool party for children with special needs.

Parents from all over Zacapa made the trip to the waterpark in Torta Mila for a moment of relaxation, while we entertained their kids.

I quickly forgot about any disabilities the second we all entered the water. Despite being foreigners, we were all able to connect with at least one child. At the end of the day, there were no “handicapped” kids—just children who wanted to have fun.

After Zacapa we headed toward the city called Antigua. It is an old colonial city with signature Spanish architecture and cobblestone streets. An iconic volcano towered over the city.

Inhabiting Antigua was every type of person one could find. Some were university students walking in groups, commonly sporting their college t-shirts and large shades. Others were the typical nuclear family looking to ‘get away from it all’. Senior citizens roamed through the narrow streets worry-free, until they had to step over a pothole or cross the street.

Travel writers huddled in trendy restaurants, the kind one might find featured in the New York Times, sipping coffee and working on their laptops. Drunks wandered aimlessly, seeking their escape from their troubles at home. That is, of course, assuming they had a home. Then there were the locals caught in the middle of it all. Everyone had been to Antigua.

A deep sadness struck me on our final day in the country. It is a sadness you feel when you lose someone or something that brought you so much life in a small and intense amount of time.

Those smiling faces, from young to old are something that will remain with me forever. I feel that the worst thing I could have done was not to leave the people I had connected with in such a short amount of time, but to forget about them.

The Service Learning in Guatemala program is a study abroad summer course offered by UWF. The course begins with six preparatory sessions before departing on the ten-day trip.

The course is an initiative of UWF’s Emerge Program and welcomes students from all disciplines.

While in Guatemala, students work with the non-governmental organization Hearts in Motion, in conjunction with local staff. Hearts in Motion provides shelter for disabled and orphaned children, medical supplies for hospitals, assistance for senior citizens and much more.

For more information about the program and HIM, go to http://uwf.edu/ceps/community-and-outreach/emerge/our-faculty/2013-2014-emerge-faculty-fellows/dr-chris-cotten/http://www.heartsinmotion.org/

What defunding Planned Parenthood would actually mean financially

Josh Hart

Staff Writer

House conservatives have spent the last three months weighing the option of whether or not to defund Planned Parenthood. This is puerile and ignorant and a perfect representation of the religious right’s newly open detestation for women and the disenfranchised.

But you’ve heard that. In a way, it’s parroted by most non-fringe news institutions. What you might not have heard are the nitty-gritty details, the facts of what Planned Parenthood’s disappearance would mean.

Let’s talk finances, as that seems to be the only thing that can get Republicans to pay attention. There is no item in the budget labeled “Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood simply receives money through government healthcare programs.

Money from a government program, Title X, makes up about 12 percent of the organization’s $528.4 million in government grants and reimbursements. A larger share, about 75 percent, comes from patients insured by Medicaid.

This means that defunding Planned Parenthood would primarily enforce the idea that Medicaid should be denied. A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office found that cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood would cost about $130 million.

There is no reason that anyone would think that denying healthcare to people that need it the most, a denial that would cost the state money, is in any way advisable. It’s inconceivable. We’ve reached a point in America’s political history that it would be silly to pretend that America’s major political parties have anyone’s well-being at heart.

How sad.


Climate change and denial

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

Last week, President Barack Obama, as well as many other world leaders, met in Paris for a conference on climate change. Meanwhile, here in the United States, Republican candidates for president, pundits on conservative news media outlets and members of local governments continue to deny climate change is actually happening.

This leaves us to wonder: Why are the most important and influential people in the world having a meeting about something that is not real? Don’t they have better things to do? Couldn’t they be playing golf? For educators, people attempting to provoke a serious discussion about possible solutions to climate change and others who just want to make sure that they leave the world better than how they found it, this is extremely frustrating.

Much like mental illnesses, you cannot get better until you admit there is a problem. So the domestic conversation on how to change our current course in regards to climate change and how to reverse the situation appears to be stuck in the mud, until people in denial come to their senses.

But why and how some people continue to deny the seemingly obvious will remain a mystery to many. There are, however, some very real reasons this phenomenon continues to occur.

Environmental science is extremely complex – so complex and so tied in to other fields of science that explaining our current situation to people even with an average knowledge of environmental science is much like explaining jazz to a fox.

The media does not help this situation. Much like other complex issues which require a lot of time and energy to just grasp the information, such as the economy, racial issues and the structure and function of government institutions, explanations about climate change just don’t fit very well into a 5-minute TV segment or a brief article on your news feed.

The causes, effects, solutions and inevitable sacrifices required to stop climate change are contained in volumes upon volumes of scientific studies, research data and the notes of dedicated environmental scientists.

Essentially, to really make a change in the crash course that humanity is headed for, the first thing we need to do is stop arguing and discrediting the life’s work of these professionals who have put all of their energy and have sacrificed a great deal to provide us with this information.

Stop listening to politicians about the environment. You would get about as much factual information from your toaster, and it would be mixed with a lot of rhetoric and opinion. Call your local news station and ask them to please spend a little more time discussing environmental issues, and a little less time talking about some celebrity sex scandal or professional athlete’s poor behavior.

The key to understanding what is happening to the environment, climate change, and how we can make a difference, is education. Take an environmental studies class, engage people who hope to make a difference and show them support, ask people who study the world what they have learned. The more you learn about how complex our environment is, the more you will understand how fragile it is. The more you learn about how we are affecting the world, the more you can learn ways to lessen your footprint by making educated decisions every day.

Listen and learn from those who decided a long time ago that knowing and understanding Mother Earth, and respecting and sharing what she is trying to tell us, is a noble and selfless ambition which should be respected. And next time you are having a conversation with someone who is in “climate change denial,” tell them they need help.

Islamophobia slams the door on Syrian refugees

090210Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

With the recent Paris attacks still fresh, our country’s Islamophobia fever has spiked even higher, creating overwhelming support for a recently introduced bill that would “temporarily” shut the doors on Syrian refugees into the United States.

We all heard about Ahmed Mohamed and his clock “bomb.” This incident was clear indication that people still have an unwarranted fear of the Muslim community. ISIS continuing to terrorize around the world has not helped this hysteria lessen.

The bill, created by Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), “temporarily halts Obama’s plan to allow thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until authorities can verify that none of them pose a security threat. Specifically, it would require the Homeland Security secretary, FBI director, and Director of National Intelligence to sign off on any refugees admitted to the U.S., holding them personally accountable,” according to The Hill’s website.

The bill sounds practical and decent when stated in this light; however, the issue comes with the overlooked devaluation this creates for these Syrian refugees, and the many holes that come from it. McCaul says his bill is to only temporarily put a stop the Obama’s open policy, when in reality, as expressed by FBI Director James Comey, it would make it impossible for any refugees to enter the United States. Comey also told administration and Congressional officials that this could create difficulty for “travelers from about three dozen countries that are allowed easier travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program,” according to CNN’s website.

“With the sheer volume of refugees attempting to seek asylum here, it’s near impossible to screen every single one as thoroughly as needed,” UWF senior and criminal justice major Zac LeClair said. “It simply escalates our already vulnerable state to more possible terrorist attacks.” While LeClair brings up a valid point – the risk is simply not as high as many will have you believe.

In the 14 years since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has resettled 784,000 refugees from around the world, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, a D.C.-area think tank, which was posted to The Atlantic’s website. “And within that population, three people have been arrested for activities related to terrorism. None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas.”

The bill cleared the House on Nov. 19 with a 289-137 vote, pulling support from 47 Democrats and a majority of Republicans. With threats of filibuster coming from Senate Democrats, McCaul says he hopes to insert the legislation into the inclusive omnibus spending measure, which must be passed by Dec. 11, in turn forcing it to reach President Obama.

Obama has made clear his plan to otherwise veto the legislation.

The quick clearance from the House on this bill is astounding, and nothing more than a classic result of fearmongering. With the backing of several Republican governors, and politicians such as Donald Trump spewing his nonsensical lies and blatant prejudice, citizens have quickly fallen under the spell of political manipulation.

Fact Check breaks down the truth of what these politicians are spreading. There is a false sense of hope that this bill has been instilled for the protection of the citizens, but with this obvious fear and urge to take the easy way out, it is clear that the bill is all but a positive enforcement of national security.

“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said in the Philippines on Wednesday, according to CNN’s website. “We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”

What is exceptionally disturbing is Ted Cruz’s suggested religious test on these refugees, and how the states should only accept the sworn Christians. As if there is more proof needed that the only reason for this blocking of refugees is inherent of Islamophobia and bigotry.

These politicians in favor of the bill will have you believe that the refugee vetting process is quick and easy, and has terrorists popping in left and right. The process is extensive, and it takes up to two years for each refugee to get approved. To educate yourself of the process, visit here.

While the United States is busy responding to its own personal agenda, French president Francois Hollande has urged that the country will stay true to its values, and would accept 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.

“Hollande said it was France’s ‘humanitarian duty’ to honor its commitments to refugees, even in the wake of the chilling terror attacks,” according to the Washington Post’s website.

“No one asked the U.S. to intervene in the Middle East,” past French UWF exchange student and business major freshman Aubane Decobert said. “They intervened, and bombed those countries. The U.S. should take responsibility and host refugees.”

In regards to the alleged Syrian refugee that was involved in the Paris attacks, here is a Washington Post article that breaks down exactly what we know so far.

“None of the identified attackers in Paris were Syrian citizens, although one was found with a fake Syrian passport (there is no evidence that he entered Europe in a group of Syrian refugees),” according to the Houston Press website.

So, again, where is this increasing fear of Syrian refugees even coming from, and why do we continue to label those escaping a war-torn country as terrorists? My answer is conclusive with a popular theory — the Islamic State wants you to hate refugees.

“I think it is pathetic that a country known for its acceptance of those from struggling worlds is going to hide in fear,” UWF sophomore communications major Courtney Randall said. “This nation was founded from refugees, and we are using our unnecessary hate of Muslims to make this ignorance OK.”

ISIS has been terrorizing its own states for years now, creating even more conflict in Syria and Iraq. By essentially building Syria up as nothing more than a war zone along with the Syrian government, they have deliberately put these families in the midst of violence and injustice. Why would they want them to find refuge?

ISIS wants to create conflict between the Muslim community and the Western World. They hope to create such hate from the West that Muslims have no choice but to run or join the Islamic State.

“The group calculates that a small number of attackers can profoundly shift the way that European society views its 44 million Muslim members and, as a result, the way European Muslims view themselves,” according to the Washington Post’s website.

The terror group seeks attention brought away from the reality, and onto even furthering the suffering of the already victimized Muslim community.

There is, as agreed upon by most, absolutely no doubt that this large of an influx of people into one country causes a threat, but the United States has never been commended for its refusal of refugees. We are a country known to accept and allow those who have lost all hope and are afraid of their homelands, a comforting safe-haven to turn to. We are not a country that hides in fear of our own lives, but one that reaches its hands out to help.

If we continue to live in fear of Islam, we are giving the extremists what they want — hate.

Local Mexican restaurants offer authentic cuisine

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer


Photo courtesy of Rio Bravo.

Rio Bravo, Cordova Mall

We all need that extra splash of spice added to our life. Whether it be a business, casual, or family meal, Rio Bravo is the place to be. Nestled in a corner off Bayou Boulevard at Cordova Mall, Rio Bravo brings a tiny slice of a sleepy Mexican villa into the bustle of Pensacola life.

Stop in and unwind – it’s got a great atmosphere, cold drinks and an exceptional lunch menu under $10. While you are there, try out the all-day food and drink specials.

Daily specials include “Create Your Own Favorite Combination,” where you can choose from a wide variety of menu items with two sides. Select up to three for less than $10: enchilada, chimichanga, burrito, taco, tamale, quesadilla, flauta or chile relleno, all served with rice and beans.

And of course, my personal favorite: two-for-one margaritas. Choose from the house margarita, lemon/lime, rocks or frozen. Select any size, all day long.

All meals include complimentary chips, salsa, and a delicious spicy bean dip. All in all, you get a hearty meal, with a great atmosphere and outstanding service.

For a taste of spice, great service and affordable price: five stars.

Rio Bravo has two other area locations: 596 East Nine Mile Road and 3755 Gulf Breeze parkway. Visit their website here.



Photo courtesy of Cactus Flower.

Cactus Flower, 3425 N 12th Ave.

Cactus Flower styles itself as “Authentic California style, Mexican Cuisine.” With a menu encompassing all aspects of Mexican food, it is the first choice for authentic taste on a budget. Founded by Lee Kafeety in 2001, Pensacola became the birthplace of the first Cactus Flower restaurant.

Hoping to gain publicity by word of mouth advertising, Kafeety reached out to local community organizations to help spread the word. One of the organizations that answered this call was the local Star Trek club, the USS Continuum. Led by Captain Jay Gallops, Kafeety offered the group a free lunch to help promote her business.

“The drinks are so cold the glasses are sweating when they reach the table,” Gallops said. “For $7 I got an entree, served with fresh lettuce, cheesy beans, and rice. The waitstaff was fast, courteous and extremely professional. I have lunch there about every two weeks now, and I have yet to be disappointed. I would say for the money, it’s the most authentic Mexican food in town.”

The unique thing I saw on my last visit was the use of electronic hand-held tablets instead of the standard order pad. Orders were typed in by the waitstaff, and at the end of the meal, the amount due was displayed on the screen, the card was swiped, and a receipt was printed right there at the table. Quick, easy, convenient. I never thought I would see waitstaff going digital, but clearly I was mistaken.

For geeky cool, as well as a locally owned business started here in Pensacola, I give Kafeety’s Cactus Flower five stars.

Cactus Flower also has locations on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk; 6881 West Highway 98; and 8725 Ortega Park drive in Navarre. Visit their website here.

Free speech, protest movements and your ‘Friends’ list

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

Campus protests, marches and acts of civil disobedience like the ones happening now at universities and colleges across the country have not been seen since the 60s. A lot of things have changed since then, while other things seem to be stuck in the same spot. The demographic of our country, the Internet, smartphones and the nature of the media has changed… a lot. Every aspect of our lives is up for debate with the click of a button, and freedom of speech has gone from a soapbox to a worldwide audience. The next Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez or Eleanor Roosevelt could be on your Friends list right now… or, you might have blocked them already.

This country seems to be more polarized than ever, and so are the American people. There is a lot of discussion about how easily people are offended, and how every issue seems to invoke strong feelings as well as strong anger towards anyone who opposes our views. There have been many examples in the news lately of people lashing out at others for doing exactly what they are trying to do themselves: exercise their First Amendment right – the right to free speech.

Millennials are masters of technology and of using social media platforms to enrich their lives. It is easier than ever to engage with people from around the world on many issues. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are quickly becoming the chosen format for young people to get news and information. But there are some striking differences between your dad’s newspaper and your favorite newsfeed.

There are pages, independent groups and social media personalities sharing news and opinion on every issue you can imagine. Many of these are large news organizations and independent journalists trying to enter into a new arena of journalism and provide interesting and informative stories and news to keep you in the loop, while others are misinformed or just unethical people with an alternative agenda… and sometimes they are just people who just enjoy “stirring the pot.” All of these are protected as free speech.

But the great thing about Facebook and Twitter is, if you don’t “like it,” you can just “block it.” We all do it, and we all “like” and “share” the things we “like” and agree with… that is kind of the point, right?

The only problem with this is that we are only engaging in one side of the debate. With some media outlets becoming increasingly biased and polarized, and web-based news outlets fighting over “click-bait,” it means you are really only getting one side of the story – the side you agree with.

Whether we want to hear it or not, free speech means all speech, and alternative opinions and points of view are essential to the democratic process. A healthy society must be able to settle differences with conversation and reason instead of violence and intimidation in order to survive and prosper. Many of us are immune to the negative side effects of this one-sided overload of information, while others are extremely vulnerable.

But the “media” has played a part in their perception by Millennials. Many people have commented and observed how the media can “spin” the narrative of an extremely complex event or subject to fit nicely into a 1-hour show with 15 minutes of advertising. We saw examples of this during the Occupy movement, the protests in Ferguson, and the Black Lives Matter movement; many in these movements and their supporters complain of misrepresentation by the media.

All of this has led to a shift of attention away from large news organizations with a responsibility to report the news and which also carry the burden of accountability, to small “fringe” news organizations, with less than reputable credentials and no accountability.

However, millennials should keep in mind that politicians, police, universities and local governments are also struggling to maintain their composure under the microscope of social media. Many of these “fringe” news organizations are doing important work and taking risks to hold authorities accountable in a way that the mainstream media cannot and never has before.

College students and young activists should also remember that the success of a movement is reflected in the polls, not a 15-minute news segment. So far in the last decade we have seen the first black president, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, marriage equality for LGBT Americans and Facebook going public on the New York Stock exchange. Who knows what will happen next? You might read about it first on your newsfeed… or maybe not, if you’ve already blocked it.


Politicians’ manipulation of our emotions is nothing less than criminal


Bernie Sanders (left), Hillary Clinton (center) and Martin O’Malley (right) at the Nov. 15 Democratic primary debate.
Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

Josh Hart

Staff Writer

During the Nov. 15 Democratic presidential debate, noted talk-show dance-off champion and occasionally effective presidential candidate Hillary Clinton argued that she could both take a hard stance on Wall Street glut while still taking millions in donations from Wall Street entities.

When questioned about this, Clinton maintained that the main reason bankers have flocked to her cause is because of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

“So I — I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11 when we were attacked,” she said. “Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan where Wall Street is. I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”

The hubris of this statement goes beyond its surface-level ridiculousness; it’s emblematic of the continued manipulation of the feelings Americans have towards a 14-year-old tragedy.

This manipulation is almost a trope of American presidential politics, something that every prospective candidate needs to at least touch upon, with some less than stellar results.

But it’s 2015. The shadow of fear cast by 9/11 should no longer exist at the forefront of American politics or culture.

We cannot allow ourselves to become a nation that defines itself by its greatest tragedy. We just can’t. That’s not America.

For years, I’ve been seeing T-shirts, bumper stickers and what-have-you with the slogan “Never Forget!” on them. As if anyone could. No one is ever going to forget.

The only people who want to relive that day are people who get a certain enjoyment out of righteous anger. And I get that – righteous anger can feel really good for a while. But anger, righteous or not, does things to a person. Anger wears you out. So does fear, and so does hate.

Allowing politicians to excuse practices that essentially sell the political autonomy of American citizens, which is what Clinton is essentially doing, is criminal. Allowing politicians to move towards war based on intense jingoism and the muddied association of a perceived enemy with an event more than a decade old is criminal.

The backlash against Clinton’s comments shows a new intolerance for criminal behavior, and I hope this intolerance, or at least a political culture based on scrutiny of manipulation, continues throughout this presidential race.

Driving in Pensacola is an exercise in frustration – with a few exceptions

Tom Moore

Contributing Writer

I have lived here in Florida all my life. I took the huge leap when I left home to move from Allentown, near Milton, to Pensacola. Since it was nearly an hour commute one way, I drove a lot.

Admittedly, I may not be the world’s best driver. I have been known to speed, get a small case of road rage and occasionally go the wrong way down a one-way aisle in the parking lot at Wal-Mart. However, the other drivers here are downright scary. After driving here for 17 of my 36 years, I realize one thing: If the car in front of me has its right blinker on, it simply means the blinker works. It does not necessarily mean they are turning. Same is true with brake lights.

I was three car lengths behind this joker the other day, and he just suddenly, randomly slammed on his brakes. No apparent reason whatsoever. Just testing his brakes, I guess, seeing if they worked.

But the worst of all, the one habit that triggers my road rage worse than any other, is when people sit at a green light! You have seen it, you may have even been caught up in it. The light changes from red to green, but instead of going, everybody just sits there! Are they waiting to log off of their smart phones, or for Facebook to give them permission to restart their morning commute? Come on, guys, if the light is green, you can go!

However, the other day I was pleasantly surprised. I was driving down Nine Mile Road, heading to class, and, the light in front of the Target shopping center turned red, and everyone stopped. It turned green and everyone went. I then turned off past the Circle K, the car in front of me used her turn signal correctly, much to my surprise, and even did a left-hand turn into the Boy Scout parking lot. I was so happy, I started singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!

For one brief, shining moment, my faith in the Pensacola driver is restored. At least until that next joker cuts me off!

“Fallout 4” first impression: Newest in game series gives players more control

Wade Manns

Opinions Editor

“War… war never changes.” Those are the first words we hear out of every installment in the “Fallout” videogame series. And when we hear them, we know we are in for a wonderful story, a tale of post-apocalyptic madness, mayhem and sometimes mirth. The fourth iteration of this series is no exception; I’ve spent two hours with this game and I wish to share with you my first impressions.

From the moment I gained control of the player character, I got the feeling that this was going to be an adventure that, more than the others, I’ll have control over. I noticed this right away in the revamped character creation tool, which let me click and hold directly on the face to alter various characteristics, from the size of cheekbones to the length of the chin. Later on, as I was wandering through the nuked countryside of the Commonwealth (the Fallout universe’s name for the area around Boston), I discovered a unique gas station and the ability to open up a new, complex series of menus centered on building things, creating my own settlement. I don’t have a use for this right now, but I get the feeling I will later.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The game, unlike all the others, begins on the very day of the Great War, Oct. 23, 2077. (The logistics of a war occurring in one day are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice to say it entailed China dropping a whole bunch of nuclear bombs on us.) I got a front row seat to almost being nuked ourselves, as I, along with my wife and baby son, sank slowly into Vault 111. Something happens, I won’t spoil it, and I awakened 210 years later into the hell that is the Wasteland.

Like the rest of the 3-D offerings in the series, “Fallout 3” and “New Vegas,” I can project my violent tendencies onto the world with a unique method known as V.A.T.S., or the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. Time slows down and I get the chance to make accurate shots on my enemies, to cripple, behead or, depending on my chosen weapon, even totally pulp or disintegrate them. This extreme violence is one of the trademarks of the series, and this game displays it with an all-new iteration of The Creation Engine, first used in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Though I’ve only just scratched the surface of the game in two hours of play, I can tell it adds a great deal more character to the character that you play, who is now fully voiced, than the previous games. Also, at least my robotic butler Codsworth (who sounds like a stuffy British type, but is about as nice as a chrome-plated automaton can be), but potentially many more characters, calls me by my chosen name (my middle name Andrew, one of the 1,000 pre-recorded names for this feature).

Though I cannot vouch for the console versions, performance in the PC version is good on my dual core processor, despite it claiming that it needs a quad core. But as always with most of these games, it’s the graphics cards that do most of the work, and mine is pretty beefy. There are, unfortunately, a few hardcoded key binds that may result in somewhat awkward menu accessing starting out, but I got used to this quickly.

So if you are a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction in general, or the “Fallout” series specifically, even if you have an older computer, you can continue your love of the series easily and learn once again that war… war never changes.

Vital info:

Game: “Fallout 4”
Developer/Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Open-world RPG
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4

Website: http://fallout.bethsoft.com/