Monday, July 26, 2010

In which I take a crash course in paintball

I don't often venture into politics in my Empoprise-BI business blog, but I recently did so in two posts: my Sunday night post Laredo is safe from Los Zetas - the paintball army is protecting it, and my Monday afternoon post The Laredo paintball army might not be needed after all.

These two posts had an unexpected result.

No, I didn't get an invitation to join the San Diego Minutemen.

No, I didn't receive secret information from Our Illuminati Overlords in Brussels.

So what happened? I got two new followers on Twitter - @paintballblast and @spyderpaintgun.

As far as I can recall, I have never mentioned paintball in my nearly seven years of blogging. I mention the activity twice, and people take an interest in my warblings.

@paintballblast is Eli Brown, a Canadian who loves "hiking, paintball and going to bars." His website is Paintball Gear Online.

@spyderpaintball is Josh, who happens to be from Texas. (Not sure if he's from anywhere near Laredo.) His site is Spyder Paintball Guns.

And they are just two participants in a large paintball industry. Paintball started in New Hampshire in the early 1980s, and has spread worldwide, with local variation.

The newcomer [may be] surprised to learn of the sheer diversity within the world of paintball, regional variations to rules ensure the same game will never be played two towns over. The basic concept however remains true wherever you play. Two teams must go head to head with the objective of either shooting all members of the opposing squad or obtaining a guarded flag from your enemies base, a variation made famous by the invention of video games, this mode of play is simply known as capture the flag.

Now I played Capture the Flag as a Boy Scout, but I was not armed.

And it turns out that the paintball industry is replete with technological advances. Just as the iPhone 3G gave way to the vastly superior iPhone 4...whoops, bad example. But paintball technology has advanced, as this 2008 article indicates:

For those of you who remember playing with the paintball guns of 15 years ago, you remember that they were not accurate, consistent, efficient or fast and often cost more than the basic guns of today. Over the next few years, the quality of mechanical paintball guns increased....

At about the time mechanical guns were leveling off, electro-pneumatic guns were invented. Electros quickly improved during the ensuing years....

So there's a lot going on in the paintball world, but since I started this paintball focus by looking at a foreign relations issue, it's fitting that I end this post by looking at another foreign relations issue.

Because the Iranian regime persists in actively seeking weapons of mass destruction (for the purpose of attacking Israel) and in supporting numerous international terrorist organizations, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations (and many other countries as well – China and Russia surprisingly among them) have, individually and collectively, instituted numerous sanctions against the country.

The latest round of sanctions, recently passed in a resolution at the UN, increases the restrictions on exports to Iran and imports of Iranian goods, freezes more assets and targets the actions of individuals and groups which have so far managed to evade previous sanctions. Most everyone is so concerned about the nuclear weapons tag game the Iranians have been playing that the US State Department actually got China and Russia (huge trading partners with Iran) to go along this time.

With this preface, we get to the point of the post:

With so many restrictions on exporting goods to Iran in place (and an ever-tightening noose), we wondered – how did American made paintball goods get into the hands of Iranian paintballers?

The article can only speculate, and after all the Laredo-Los Zetas stuff, and the anticipation of what Apple was going to do at its iPhone 4 press conference, I've had all the speculation that I want for a while.

But chew on this. The post above links to another post with the title "Paintballs Used Against Iranian Demonstrators."

Now the vast majority of people who are engaged in paintball, including @paintballblast and @spyderpaintgun, are in it for the enjoyment of the sport, and are associating with people who also enjoy the sport.

But sadly, there are other uses for paintball, just like there are other uses for everything.
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