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Saturday, February 18, 2017

SHTFriday: Cheap Char Rope

I was so proud of myself for actually having the time and ability and material to make a Blue Collar Prepping post on Friday that I completely forgot to post a link to it until just now.

So go read and pretend it's still Friday.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Creamy White Supremacy

Justice has jumped the shark.

In the last few months, I've seen a green cartoon frog declared a hate symbol by the ADL and a conspiracy about a purple bird facebook sticker being touted as the next big symbol of hate.

This, though.. this takes the cake.
@Hatewatch, of course, is run by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been struggling to keep itself relevant to anyone on the right of Stalin for the last decade or so, and they're linking to, who certainly has no political bias. None at all. Whatsoever.

Their research on this is a bait thread on 4chan, in which the denizens of /b/ set a trap that involves explaining how lactose tolerance is exclusive to the white race, which is backed up by alleged neo-Nazis drinking milk during Shia Lebouf's #HeWillNotDivideUs stream, which (ironically enough) was divided first by metal barriers and then by the Museum of the Moving Image after Shia was arrested for assaulting someone on the stream. Mic even tries to link it to the Nazi officer in Inglorious Bastards and the gang from A Clockwork Orange (conveniently ignoring that the ACO gang a) had Russian influence, b) were anarchists, and c) the milk was laced with drugs).

This just makes me so tired. I'm trying so hard to write something here that doesn't just devolved into incoherent screeching, but these are voices that so many people are listening to, and they're telling us that the greatest threats to humanity involve a cartoon frog, a Facebook sticker, and dairy products.

Being only 3/4 white, I am mostly lactose-intolerant (pizza has recently been introduced into my diet, with light cheese and minimal consequences). I guess, by this logic, I am not white, am not a Nazi, and therefore am safe from punching (for the time being).

I guess what I'm trying to say here is knock it off. Stop being ridiculous. If you're going to set yourself up as an expert on extremists, then try harder to realize when you're being trolled.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

And then this happened

Palette Ponders: Identity Politics

I originally started this last week and it's blossomed into a monster, so I think I'm better off splitting this up into chapters instead of a single massive post. 

Last Friday, a question popped into my mind: Is Second Amendment activism a form of identity politics? I did not have a ready answer for this, and it troubled me deeply because I loathe identity politics (hereafter IDP) and consider it a scourge upon the political landscape. To answer my question, and to set myself at ease, I started asking questions and doing research, and in the end I learned a lot about my beliefs.

Before I could address that question, I had to make sure I knew the terminology, and I'm going to share that information with you.

What Is Identity Politics?
Put simply -- because if I don't put it simply, I'll be in the conversational weeds all day -- identity politics is the promotion of political beliefs that benefit a shared characteristic like race, biological sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, social class etc. Benefit is the key word, so far as I can see, because the entire idea behind IDP is to advance the cause of the concrete identity rather than political abstractions like those espoused by the parties.

Example: "Justice for LGBTQ Americans" is identity politics; "Justice for all Americans" is not.

A key point of IDP is a concept known as intersectionality, which is another rabbit hole but can be summarized as "being a black woman is more than simply being black and being a woman; the two conditions overlap and reinforce each other." While this certainly makes sense -- if you're a black man, you don't necessarily understand what it's like to be a black woman -- the problem with intersectionality is that it fosters a sense of exclusivity, i.e. "You can't possibly relate to our problems without being one of us."

In fact, exclusion seems to be at the heart of IDP: if your identity is based upon being a member of group X, then anyone not a member of group X is viewed as an outsider at best, an enemy at worst, and usually seen as someone who "just doesn't understand the struggle." As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to acquire allies, because no one wants to be told "You're just too... YOU... to understand what it's like to be me, and  if you don't understand then you have no stake in our fight." The concepts of sympathy and empathy take a back seat to identity.

To quote a friend of mine, Identity short-circuits ideology, because ideology is abstract while identity is primal and immanent. Questions of ideology can only be settled when no major questions of identity are pressing. 

This struggle of identity vs. ideology is a major source of political tension today, as I'll explore in later posts.

Next: Is Gun Rights Activism a form of Identity Politics?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Traveller Tuesday: the Potato Sack Principle

Yes, it's Monday. I feel like writing this today because tomorrow is slated for a complex piece that I've been working on since last week and I don't want to break my flow.

So deal with it. It's Tuesday somewhere.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
The Potato Sack Principle, as put forth by Karr Tsonka, Esq., states that "To claim the Rite of Assassination, the assassin in question must, at the very least, be more deadly and do more to end the Emperor's life than a sack of potatoes."

I shall explain.

For those who don't feel like following the link, the Rite of Assassination in Traveller is "an archaic Imperial law providing for leadership succession according to the dictates of power politics."
Although the rite of assassination has fallen into disuse, it is generally agreed that for the method to be a valid route to the Iridium Throne, certain precedents must be followed:
  1. the assassin must be a high noble; 
  2. the assassin must kill the Emperor by his own hand in the presence of witnesses; 
  3. the Moot must approve of the new emperor (just as with any successor).
Thus, the reason for the assassination must be well founded, or Moot confirmation will likely be denied. Moot confirmation can make all the difference - depending on what the Moot says, the assassin could be hailed as a courageous hero or prosecuted as a seditious murderer.
Points 1 and 3 are clear-cut; it's point 2 which has caused much discussion among law students within the Third Imperium. On the face of it, it seems obvious enough: the assassin must kill the Emperor without help. This makes sense, because otherwise a group of people (read: player characters) could gang up on the Emperor, dogpiling him while the highest ranking noble administers the coup de grace. While certainly efficient, it would bring the legitimacy of the assassin into question as it could be argued that the noble who delivered the killing stroke could not have done it without the help of the others, and so the other assassins would present an equally-valid claim to the throne ("Sure, Poncey actually killed the Emperor, but I did the hard part! I should be Emperor, not him!")

Multiple claimants to the throne are how civil wars start, after all.

However, when considering assassinating the Emperor, it soon becomes evident that unless the assassin is with the Emperor's family, some outside help is required in the form of conspiracy in order to get close enough to deliver the killing blow. Since logistical assistance is clearly required, conventional interpretation of point 2 works out to "It's fine to have help getting to the Emperor, but everything after that must be done by the assassin himself and no other." This is still vague enough to cause problem with legal scholars, though, who busy themselves with such academic questions as "Well, what if a conspirator calls the Emperor on the telephone and distracts him so that the assassin can deliver his killing blow?"

Karr Tsonka, Esq. has solved this conundrum with a splendid bit of legal simplification by presenting this hypothetical: "What if the assassin were replaced with a sack of potatoes?" In such a case, would the Emperor still be under threat of death?  In other words, has the assassin done anything to imperil the Emperor's life, or is he just a passive thing being lugged around and then metaphorically tossed at the Emperor?

It is ultimately a statement of agency. A weapon cannot act on its own; it must be wielded. Similarly, if the assassin was effectively wielded by another, the assassin effectively had no agency.

Therefore, if a claimant cannot adequately demonstrate a difference between his action and those of a sack of potatoes hurled at the Emperor, he has not satisfied the conditions of the second point of the Rite of Assassination. Q.E.D.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #130 - Tribalism and Happy Endings

Our #1 advice for a happy ending: Don't get a barbed wire tattoo. Those never end well.
  • Beth shares some advice for avoiding tragedy when you have children and guns in the same house
  • Everyone likes a happy ending. Sean tells us about our favorite happy ending, where a home invader is encouraged to lie down and stop moving... permanently.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin tell you why Trump is not your hope and change.
  • Tiffany talks about last week's main topic from the other side: How she and her friends see it when conservatives lump them in with violent protesters.
  • Do you like seemingly contradictory advice? Erin tells you to form a tribe, but don't fall prey to tribalism.
  • This week Weer'd dips into his secret stash of anti-gun nuttery to bring us two golden nuggets of hoplophobia.
  • And our plug of the week is The American Warrior Podcast.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on 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:
Tribe vs. Tribalism
I’ve talked about what the concept of “Tribe” means in previous prepping segments, but I haven’t yet touched on “tribalism”.

Now anyone who’s been paying attention to current events has noticed that Americans are a fractious bunch, ready to divide themselves into an “us” and a “them” and go at each other’s throats. The good news here is that it isn’t just Americans who do this; we just happen to have a country that’s larger than all of Europe and a media that is keen to highlight our differences and our squabbles in pursuit of ratings, so we seem more divided than other countries and cultures. 

But the fact of the matter is that humans are inherently tribal, so we divide ourselves into groups so easily that it’s just accepted as part of our culture. As an example, consider sports teams: when we play a game of baseball, we divide ourselves into two groups, “us” and “them”, despite the fact that prior to this we were one group. Then, based on this arbitrary grouping, we try to defeat people who up until this point were our friends, by engaging in ritual warfare. And other groups of people pick a side to support while cheering for the defeat of the other. 

Humans are just inherently tribal, which means they are inherently prejudicial. Now before you leap to conclusions, let me explain what I mean! I am not saying that humans are inherently racist, sexist, or anything like that; those are learned behaviors. What I am saying is that humans like to pre-judge things -- that’s what prejudice means, judging things without analysis, based only on first impressions -- and all the learned behaviors make for easy lines of prejudice. 

But why are humans prejudicial? Believe it or not, it’s a survival tool from prehistory. If a plant looked funny, a caveman wouldn’t eat it, and over time that would reduce the amount of fatalities from eating poisonous plants and fruit. Similarly, if a stranger looked funny, it likely meant that he wasn’t from your tribe but from the next tribe over, which meant that you were in direct competition with him for food, shelter, and other resources. 

This ties in nicely with the concept of the Monkeysphere that I talked about in Episode 84: human brains can only support a certain number of relationships, and everyone else gets put into the “other” category. Unfortunately, we are wired to see “the other” as competition for resources and we react aggressively. 

So what we are seeing today, with the Berkeley riots and the increasing political schism within our country, is that our culture has reached a point where we now view political viewpoints not as people who disagree with us but as actual threats to our tribe.

How does one prepare for this? Two ways.
  1. First, don’t have an echo chamber. Make a point to surround yourself with viewpoints that challenge you. Not only will he prevent the self-reinforcing “Everyone I know agrees with me, therefore I must be right” attitude which is also self-defeating, but it will help humanize “the others” who disagree with you. It’s very, VERY easy to to devolve to “All liberals hate us, so we must destroy them before they destroy us” if that’s all you hear. Conversely, if you are actual friends with a liberal -- Hi, Tiffany! -- you won’t want to lump your friend into that “other” category and you begin to see those who disagree with you not as threats to your existence, but as people. 
  2. Secondly, form a tribe of your own. While that may seem counter to all my previous advice, what I mean by this is “forge friendships with people who aren’t specifically family.” If you’ve taken my advice about becoming friends with people who challenge your beliefs, invite those people into your tribe. The more diverse your tribe is, the less susceptible you are to the prejudicial “othering” mentality.
So in effect, my advice is “Have a tribe, but don’t be tribal.” I know this is asking a lot, as we’re fighting millions of years of psychology, but the first step to making a change is being aware of what you’re doing wrong.

Don’t push away potential allies because you perceive them as “other”. Don’t turn disagreements into wars. This is something every one of us, including me, needs to work on.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Quickie from Salem


I feel terrible. Doctor says I have piriformis syndrome, which means, in layman's terms, there's a muscle somewhere in my hip that's squeezing a nerve that causes pain anywhere between my groin and the outside of my left hip.

I am on medication for pain and relaxation at the moment, and can barely concentrate, so my commentary on the Sanders/Cruz Healthcare debate will have to wait.

In the meantime, someone forwarded me this, which is a screengrab of a page from All New Fathom by Aspen Comics, and you're right, progressives. We do need more women writing comics. Gail Simone can't hold up her gender all by herself.

Thankfully, we have Blake Northcott:
Panel by panel, that's InfoWars's Paul Joseph Watson, Cenk Uygar and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks, Anita Sarkeesian, Youtuber Chris Ray Gun, YouTuber Shoe0nHead, and Milo Yiannopoulos's Twitter account being banned (link unavailable for obvious reasons).

Don't believe me?

Not what you were hoping for? Oh... well you go tell her that she's womaning wrong. It's not my place to, and the meds are kicking in. Knock yourselves out.

Note: Erin may have already gone to bed. If so, any mistakes are purely mine and do not reflect our glorious editor. 

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