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Friday, June 23, 2017

This is why Operation Blazing Sword exists

Even though it's been a year since Pulse, LGBTQ people are still at risk in this country. Despite being a tiny portion of our nation's demographic - only 3.4% of all Americans - we still have a whopping 20-25% chance of being victims of violent hate crime. 

Attitudes like this are why:

Yes, you read that correctly: according to Mark Hagerman, all LGBTQ people are sexual perverts, and therefore all LGBTQ people are a danger to "normal people", thus preemptive attacks against LGBTQ people are "understandable."

That's right up there with "All men are rapists", for those keeping track. 

Now, I am practically a First Amendment absolutist. I am a huge fan of free speech, and so while I find Mr. Hagerman's voiced opinion repulsive, I will absolutely fight for his right to say it. This also means I don't believe he should be fined for it, arrested for it, or lose his job for it. 

Which puts me in the delightfully absurd position of respecting Mr. Hagerman's rights more than he respects mine. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Erin, make up a title for me

It's Thursday, so I'm supposed to be writing something.

Well, it's actually Wednesday night, and I'm in an incredibly foul mood still, so as far as Gotham Rain goes, that's on hold for now. At least until something shallow in my real world life inspires me to continue it.

Approximately two months ago, I was laid off. I got some severance pay, so I'm still safe for the time being, but the last four months or so had been so stressful that I have not made a serious attempt at finding another job in that time.

I did start drinking again. Not to the degree that I did the last time it became a problem, and not to the point where I can't hit 5:00 PM without trembling. And seeing the world all sort of fuzzy for a little while at a time is pleasant again. But I've been moving back down from that again as well.

I was in a relationship, of sorts, and now I'm not. I don't really have anything going on. Been finishing up a few games I've been meaning to, and have caught up on Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Agents of SHIELD, in that order. Shaved my head again. Will probably start claiming unemployment next week.

I sincerely cannot think of anything I feel strongly enough to write about, and I apologize for that. I feel like I'm letting Erin, and all of you that click on my face each week, down. I'll try and do better. I'm not linking my paypal again, as I didn't get any donations, but Erin knows the address for it if she feels differently.

In the meantime, please accept this as an apology.
na na NA NA na na NA NA na na NA NA na na NA NA BAT DICK

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I have been doing nothing but putting out fires all week

Or at least that's how it seems right now. There was a... let's say "controversial"... post on the Operation Blazing Sword Facebook page, and some people took offense at what they perceived was us taking a political position, so I've been dealing with that and it's worn me out.

Since I'm talking about it, let me go on the record right now and state the following:
Operation Blazing Sword is non-partisan and non-political. We simply happen to speak about things which are wrapped up in current politics, because (unfortunately) both gun rights and LGBTQ rights are political issues right now. We wish this were not the case, because rights are inherent and should not be politicized.

Talking about political issues is not the same as being political. Operation Blazing Sword neither endorses nor condemns politicians, candidates, political parties, or legislation.

Our purpose is, always has been, and always will be outreach and education. Some of that education is teaching firearms operation and safety to people. Other aspects of the education are bridging the cultural divide between cisgender and transgender, homosexual and heterosexual, liberal and conservative, so that each can learn about the lives and values of the other. You cannot teach someone without learning a little about them; education flows both ways. This is the mission of Operation Blazing Sword: to teach, to bridge the divide, to break the belief that "If you aren't one of us, you're against us."
I'm discouraged that making this statement is even necessary.

Speaking of discouragement, let me just say that the hardest part of running a corporation isn't the amount of work involved. It's that I can work for hours and hours on really important stuff, and only a handful of people can see the progress that I've made. To everyone else, it looks like nothing has gotten done. That is incredibly discouraging, especially since the brain rewards tangible progress with dopamine, and since no visible, let alone tangible, progress was made, there's no dopamine reward for Erin.

In better-if-vague news, one of these unseen projects is nearing completion. I am not yet in a position to talk about it, but when it pays off it's going to vastly improve both the reach and capabilities of Operation Blazing Sword. I look forward to being able to tell you all about it with breathless enthusiasm when the time is right.

But this is something that I can talk about:
Operation Blazing Sword is now transoceanic and intercontinental! Special thanks to Steve Smith of Wondai, Queensland for being our first Australian instructor!

Finally, if you have a job that matches your charitable donations, please sign up for that with Operation Blazing Sword the recipient. Our tax ID is 81-4230880, and we're already registered with Benevity. If your employer uses a different method for charitable giving, please let me know what that platform is and I'll get OBS registered there as well. Remember, not only are you funding a good cause, but also every dollar you give to us is a dollar you can deduct from your taxes!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #148 - Welcome to the Suck

People are the reason we can't have nice things.
  • Beth is on assignment this week.
  • A Gastonia grandmother is tied up and robbed at gunpoint. Who would do such a thing? Sean checks him out.
  • Barron explains how setting up a dedicated firewall will protect your network from WannaCry 2.0 ransomware.
  • Florida just enacted Enhanced Self Defense Immunity. Miguel tells us why this is a very welcome development.
  • For our Main Topic we have Special Guest Lucas Apps from Triangle Tactical Podcast. Luke explains what he thinks the biggest problem is with advancing our gun rights.
  • You may have survived your ordeal, but how do you survive being a survivor? Erin talks about ways to cope with anger, guilt, and PTSD.
  • Tiffany is still on medical leave.
  • It's now the final week of Weer'd's audio fisk of the Demanding Mommies' protest at the NRAAM!
  • And our plug of the week is a call to action. Get in touch with us! Like us on Facebook, send us emails, and donate or subscribe to the podcast!

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript -
Coping with PTSD
This week is the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Massacre. Many people were traumatized by this; not just those who were injured, but also the friends and family of the victims. A loved one being injured or killed is itself a form of victimization.

Anger, grief, survivor’s guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder: all of these are the brain’s way of trying to cope with the loss of something cherished, be it a person or a body part or your sense of self. Any or all of these can be taken away through accident or violence.

Last year, I did a series of segments on Lawrence Gonzales’s books Deep Survival and Everyday Survival. This year, I’m going to do a series on his book Surviving Survival, which deals with what happens to people after they’ve made it through their ordeal - being lost at sea, the death of a child, having a spouse try to murder them - and the difficulties they face as they try to integrate the new person they needed to become in order to survive into their old life.

Flashbacks are very common with people who have PTSD. This is due to what is known as a conditioned response, and it’s exactly the same thing as when Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell.

In neurobiology, when two nerve cells fire at the same time, even if by accident, they will fire together in the future. The phrase is “Fire together, wire together.” They become linked into what is known as a cell assembly, and so when one fires, they all fire. And if they are assembled during a moment of high emotion, then it becomes difficult to keep them from firing - to effectively un-wire them - even if the things which are linked are completely separate.

This is how and why flashbacks occur. If you hear a particular sound or smell a specific scent when something traumatic happens, the event will become paired with that sound or smell in mind. So if you were listening to a particular song on the radio right before you were injured in an automobile accident, your brain will associate that song with pain and fear and auto accidents, and listening to it will cause a fear or pain response.

It is this association which explains why we become attached to people. Their presence causes nerve cells to fire, and at the same time the cells for us being happy because of something they do or say fire, and so we associate their presence with that emotional state. The longer we are around them, the more those cells fire and the stronger the response is.

There are also nerves in our brain which are called “seeking pathways”, and they allow us acquire what we need to survive. If we are thirsty, a seeking pathway helps us find water. If we are tired, a seeking pathway encourages us to find a safe place to sleep, and so on. But if you are thirsty and cannot drink - if you are tired and cannot sleep - your seeking pathways cannot complete their task and this results in frustration, which is another form of anxiety. It’s one thing to just be hungry or thirsty, especially if you know (even subconsciously) that you can easily remedy the situation. It’s another to know that you are unable to fix it, because the human mind has trouble soothing a frustrated pathway.

If left unchecked, this anxiety activates another form of path, the rage pathway, which is an essential survival mechanism among mammals. It’s why your initial desire is to lash out when you’re hurt, because instinct tells us that whatever is hurting us is a predator and we have to kill it before it kills us. And so, if your brain is telling you that you NEED something and you cannot have it, that anxiety registers as fear, and your body believes it’s being attacked, and so attacks back. Suddenly, toddler temper-tantrums make a lot more sense, now don’t they?

When you want something that was taken from you - a loved one, a limb, that sense of innocence or feeling of not having been violated you had before you were attacked - and you cannot get at it, the rage pathway activates. Sometimes it’s violent and destructive; sometimes it’s focused inward, and manifests at grief. But in all cases, the underpinning desire is the same: Something bad is happening to me and I don’t want it to happen. Go away, bad thing!

The brain is essentially dominated by just these two systems, the seeking and rage pathways. We are either trying to draw something toward us - even if it’s something abstract, like the pleasure of a job well done - or we are trying to push things away from us.

What’s interesting about this - and relevant to people who are angry, grieving, or suffering from flashbacks - is that these two systems cannot activate at the same time. If you want to destroy, you cannot create; and if you are creating, you have no desire to destroy.Just be aware of how quickly one can shift to the other!

But it’s this rapid shift that can actually be of benefit to people suffering from loss, because it enables you to overwrite feelings of rage, grief and anxiety by engaging the seeking pathway. A simple, repetitive, constructive activity - like knitting, or weeding the garden, or physical activity, or hunting or fishing or shooting - activates the seeking pathway and deactivates the rage pathway.

Perhaps this is because humans are predators: if we are hungry we need to eat, and so our focus on getting the meal precludes our fear of being eaten by something larger. And perhaps this is how humans became tool users: the seeking pathway rewards our brain with dopamine when we accomplish something (like acquiring food) and so the act of creating tools similarly engaged our seeking pathways and rewarded our actions with dopamine.

If you take nothing else from my segment today, take this:  if you are angry, if you are grieving, if you are anxious, then engage in a simple, repetitive task that rewards you for completing it. You will find that not only will it soothe the pain you feel, but you will also have something to show for your efforts

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Doctor Who: Death By Scotland

Well, that episode certainly happened, didn't it?

In all seriousness, The Eaters of Light isn't a bad episode. It's just a very small episode in which nothing of any great importance happens in the main story. There's a cave, a house, a field, a dodgy CGI monster that we barely see, and about a dozen young actors, one of whom screams very loudly, and half of whom are painfully Scottish.

Oh, and Bill falls down a hole again. I can't help but feel there's some sort of symbolism there, with Bill continuing to fall into holes.

But getting back on track: while this was a decently written episode, and well-filmed (especially the spacious open field shots), the lack of scale and obvious low budget makes it clearly apparent this is a filler episode where they saved money for the upcoming finale episodes. The trade-off for any actual content, unfortunately, means that this episode has enough Noggin scenes to make up for the entire series. He's on-screen probably as much in this episode as he is in every previous episode combined.

There were some good parts:
  • The Doctor mentioning being a vestal virgin (second class) in Roman Britain (that's almost certainly the Eighth Doctor. Or maybe the Fifth. One of the pretty ones). 
  • The conversation about humans no longer having intelligent conversations with crows, so they're all in a huff and no longer speaking to us. 
  • The Doctor's brilliant popcorn maneuver. 
  • Kudos to Bill for not only figuring out the TARDIS translation circuit on her own, but also being the first person to notice that it tricks your brain into seeing lip-synching as well. 
  • The guest cast is serviceable enough for what they are: two groups of inexperienced kids. 
  • The monster is an interesting design, but I'm not sure the CGI really does it any favours.

What else can I say about this episode, though? It's an obvious budget-saver episode, either because the BBC isn't giving the show as much money as it used to, or because they're saving up for a huge finale. There's exactly one thing memorable about this episode: the ending.
What will you do, how will you feel, when your sins catch up to you?
Missy's out of the vault and waiting for them in the TARDIS. The Doctor is extending a measure of trust to her, possibly hoping that trust will rehabilitate her. Surprisingly, the most poignant part isn't where she actually cries after taking his advice; it's when he isn't sure whether it's an act or not, and which might be worse. The implication here is that if someone who has done the things that she's done - committed the most vile and evil acts that she has - actually grows a conscience, she will be utterly crushed by the weight of all of that catching up to her.
"It's hard to resist."
"That's the trouble with hope. It's hard to resist." That's a line that'll stay with me for a very long time, given certain directions my life has taken recently.

Next week: The most retro-classic Cybermen in decades, and Missy gets her own adventure, with the last frames being the startling and terrifying appearance of John Simm with the one Master-esque thing he was missing from his previous appearances: the trademark evil goatee.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Correcting the Record: Anger Post

I am in an absolute rotten mood. I've been that way for a while now. Anyone that was looking forward to more Gotham Rain, I apologize. My mind's not in that place at the moment.

A few things over the last few weeks have caught my attention, though, and I have a few very simple messages before I go back to laying in bed watching Supergirl on Netflix.

A few weeks ago there was a petition on to change the settings of the upcoming Far Cry 5, which is set to take place in rural Montana, with the antagonists apparently being some sort of religious cult. The Petition is written with such ham-handed, overt usage of the language of social justice activism inverted into a strawman of gamers the level of which hasn't been seen since Gamergate that anyone that took it seriously and reported on it as such should turn in any journalistic credentials they think they still have the right to hold. In the words of Vreenak from the best episode of Deep Space 9, "It's a FAAAAAAAKE."

Mario got called racist and culturally approprating because of a sombrero outfit in the new game. Mexican gamers promptly fired back en masse with responses ranging from "we're cool with this" to "this is pretty neat" to "you assholes are why we lost Speedy Gonzales." Stop looking for reasons to be outraged. It's getting old. To everyone.

Some genius decided she'd take her activism to retail by moving tank tops for boys into the girls section because they had the NASA logo on them. At this point I'm sure that the perpetrator has never been in a Target before now, as retail staff are going to have to move those back, and I've never seen a man working in the clothing section of a Target. So congratulations for inconveniencing low-paid women! Also, Target fired back with a link to their selection of girls clothing with NASA logos on them. I haven't seen a burn that bad since Wendy's still had good social media.

Apparently, everything else can now take a back seat. Clean energy, crime, homelessness, wars; they're all unimportant. Our top priority now is legislating social media.

Oh, and I've been waiting to use this one. MUH FREEZE PEACH. So now free speech matters to you?

A congressman or senator or someone was shot, and another shot at, or something. All I know is that everyone further Left than me is scrambling right now, #NotAllLiberal'ing the shit out of it because the shooter was fervently Anti-Trump and Pro-Bernie.

Battle of Berkely. Evergreen College. Cheering on Antifa. Punch a Nazi. Kathy Griffin beheading the president in effigy and Madonna contemplating blowing up the White House. You've lost the moral high ground Lefties. Even Vice and the Anti-Defamation League know it.

You're no longer the "Politicks of Peace." You've got an extremist problem. There's blood in the water, and if you don't do something about, 2020 isn't going to matter, let alone 2018.

Erin's going to bullet point that paragraph, I just know it. 
I guess I showed you! - Erin

I'm going back to bed before this day gets any worse. Thank you, Erin, for the LEGO Batgirl. It made me smile for the only time this week that didn't involve alcohol and Doctor Who reruns.

You're welcome. Salem. [hugs]

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