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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The 11 Big Answers for TheDailyDot Regarding the Demise of Gawker

In the wake of Gawker's passing, there are some who are celebrating, there are some who are mourning, and there are some who are looking nervously over their shoulders. All understandable reactions, as there are plenty who either believe strongly in the idea of some level of journalistic integrity or have a personal grudge against Gawker; some who have no concept of it and just liked mindless gossip; and some who go to print with pretty much the same content, only with a string of pearls around their porcine formatting.Then there are the ones who are lashing out.

I've never liked TheDailyDot. Not the least because of their stupid name which, when translated into a URL, reads “The Daily Dot Dot Com,” but they are in reality, nothing more than a slightly classier version of Gawker: more hesitant to print outright lies, but more than happy to insinuate and perpetuate a hurtful narrative against anyone who disagrees with them. And so they're currently lashing out by asking “The 11 big questions for anyone cheering Gawker's demise.” That's their formatting there, completely leaving out proper capitalization in the title So let's humour them, and answer those questions, shall we?

1) Does it give you pause that, even if the Hogan post was offensive and should never have been published, that a federal judge and federal appeals court both ruled prior to the jury verdict that the post was likely “newsworthy” and protected by the First Amendment?

No. It doesn't. Because in the legal system, if you disagree with a court, you appeal it, to a higher court if needed. Does it bother you that a court ordered them to take down the video, and they not only failed to do so, but openly refused to do so in a public article posted on their site?

2) Even if you think Gawker’s publishing of the Hogan tape should not have been protected by the First Amendment—again, as an appeals court previously ruled—do you think that it was fair that the jury awarded Hogan $140 million dollars, 145 times more than the average judgement in wrongful death cases in United States?

Hulk Hogan is not just a person. Hulk Hogan is not even just a persona; Hulk Hogan is a brand. A brand that makes a lot of money for Hogan and his family, and for the WWE. When this incident happened, Hogan was removed from the WWE roster and merchandising, and merchandising is something the WWE does a lot of:  one version of a Hulk Hogan action figure costs about $20. There are about 6,300 Wal-Mart stores in the US; that's $126,000 in lost revenue from one action figure alone not being on shelves. Add in variants, posters, appearances in video games and home video, on-site merchandise, and the countless other ways that the WWE makes money, and that amount sounds about right for lost revenue.

3) Do you think it’s fair and just that Gawker—which employs dozens of journalists and staff that had nothing to do with the Hogan story—receive what amounted to the death penalty for one serious lapse in editorial judgement? Similarly, should the New York Times be taken to court and forced into folding for publishing false intelligence that helped lead the United States into the Iraq War? Should the Daily Beast be legally decapitated for its disgusting article from just two weeks ago that potentially outed gay Olympians that live in oppressive countries?

If I choose to work for an unethical and ruthless company, and that unethical and ruthless company makes a major misstep and has to pay the consequences, I may well lose my job over that. I would remind you of a phrase you are so fond of using: “Freedom of Speech is not freedom from consequences.” Gawker employees were (and are now) free to pursue employment elsewhere. If any of them need to contact me, I can give them a reference for a couple of companies that will employ nearly anyone. They probably won't be able to continue paying rent in NYC or San Francisco, though.

4) Do you agree that Gawker should have been barred from appealing both the verdict and the $140 million judgement before declaring bankruptcy and being forced to sell the company? As Gawker’s Tom Socca wrote on Monday, “The company was asking only to survive long enough to put the judgment before a higher court, on appeal. This is, supposedly, how the system works.”

If I, as a private citizen, commit a crime and and are arrested, and cannot pay bail, then I'm going to spend time in jail prior to the trial. When I was younger, a friend of mine was merely with someone who stole CD players from Wal-Mart. Unaware of what they were doing, he was detained by security and arrested while they fled the scene. He could not afford bail and spent a month in jail. Why are you more special than he? And they weren't barred from appealing. Their assets were seized. The assets that were likely going to go towards paying the plaintiff.

5) If you think, “but Gawker outed Peter Thiel in 2007 and they posted other distasteful stories over the years too,” do you also think they should be punished for those posts in the court of law, even if they are considered protected speech?

Irrelevant to the case at hand. This isn't regarding Thiel's outing, this is regarding the posts about Hogan. You, bafflingly, want to keep making it about Thiel which surprises me greatly, as Gawker outed a gay man. Billionaire or no, why should we care his sexual preference, and why are you defending this?

6) Do you agree with the variety of other lawsuits and legal threats that Gawker has endured from Peter Thiel’s lawyer that have nothing to do with the Hulk Hogan tape? Does it matter that those are garden variety libel suits that any first year law student can tell you are clearly protected by the First Amendment? Those cost Gawker millions in legal fees as well. If the Hogan suit failed, what if Gawker died by a thousand cuts instead, despite clearly being protected by the First Amendment?

The legal system is set up so that if you feel you have a grievance, you can take it to court if you can find someone to represent you. I'm personally shocked to see TheDailyDot invoking the First Amendment so often, considering how I've seen it and it's associated websites mocking it so frequently.

7) Do you think that because Gawker’s demise is something you agree with that the same thing won’t happen to newspapers you like in the future? Donald Trump has readily admitted to suing a former New York Times reporter—knowing he would lose—just to try to bleed him of money. Mother Jones spent millions in legal fees just to win a case against a vindictive billionaire in the early stages of litigation last year, only to see the billionaire turn around and start a million-dollar fund for other people to sue members of the “liberal press.”

If the newspapers “I like” put a focus on celebrity sex tapes and outing people's private lives, they're very quickly going to become newspapers I don't like. I hate to see good journalism punished, but at the same time, useless tabloid garbage should not be rewarded just because it shares a URL with something more worthwhile.

8) Oh and by the way, the same law firm that Peter Thiel funded just sent threatening letters to Politico and the Daily Mail on behalf of Donald Trump’s wife Melania Trump and demanded they stop reporting on stories Trump considers false. Do you think they smell blood?

Were these the same papers that were proudly printing nude pictures of her and questioning her immigrant status out of the left side of their face while condemning nude pictures of female celebrities and calling anti-immigration supporters racist from the right side of their face?

9) Maybe you don’t have any sympathy for former Gawker editor AJ Daulerio, the author of the Hogan post, because of his tasteless and offensive joke that made headlines during the Hogan trial. But does that mean it’s perfectly fine for Thiel’s lawyers to bar Gawker from paying for the legal defense of Daulerio, and at the same time, freezing his personal bank account so that he has no money to hire his own lawyer? Should he be forced to defend himself in court without a lawyer?

It's not a joke if it's under oath. He legally testified that he'd go as young as four years old in publishing a sex tape. Let's not try to dress that up. As for the second part of your question, was it perfectly fine for Daulerio to hide his finances from the court? And freezing someone's assets which, if the lawsuit is successful, would be used to pay the plaintiff, is not barring you from defense.

10) Do you think it’s fair and just that more than a half dozen individual reporters are still being sued by Peter Thiel’s lawyer in those non-Hogan related cases, and that Thiel’s legal team is attempting to prevent Gawker paying for the legal defense of those individuals as well? Should individual reporters face serious threat of bankruptcy for posts their employer assigned, sanctioned, and published (and again, are protected by the First Amendment)?

Thiel's legal team is likely trying to prevent Gawker's assets, of which they are being sued for pretty much all of, from being wasted before they can be awarded. Again with the First Amendment. You'd think you hated minorities with all the First Amendment you're throwing around, DD.

11) If Gawker is “mean” and “snarky” and has sometimes gone over the moral line by publishing private facts about public figures, should other gossip magazines be driven out of business by other deep pocketed celebrities as well? Should Hollywood band together and launch a thousand lawsuits against the National Enquirer and theDaily Mail and TMZ (even if courts have ruled they broke no law)? What about US Magazine and People? Where do we draw the line?

If every gossip magazine folded tomorrow I would not shed a tear. Literally, the only purpose they serve is to lessen the burden of waiting in a check-out aisle at the market, which is rapidly being overtaken by checking your messages or seeing if there's a Pikachu nearby on your smartphone. Either way, this is entirely academic, as according to the courts, Gawker did break a law.

So there you go, DailyDot. There's your answers. I doubt you'll be happy with them. You'll probably read this and consider me some kind of neo-reactionary alt-right troll (despite the recent Facebook trend of checking your political alignment having me land solidly on the Left).

But you know what? I don't care. I literally have no use for your site aside from occasionally screenshotting a bit of hypocrisy from you. Gawker is dead; it handed someone else the murder weapon and dared them to use it, then everyone was shocked they did. 

Everyone but those with an ounce of common sense.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Help Me Ponify Sean Sorrentino aka Operation Briarpatch

Jeez, Erin, do you have to give a code name to everything you do?



Because it makes me giggle!

So for those of you who don't know. on this week's GunBlog VarietyCast my co-host Sean Sorrentino said -- on the record, in front of everyone (around the 30 minute mark) -- that if someone gave him the required $500 to attend, he would wear a purple pony shirt of my own design.

I reckoned that he's probably need three shirts, since Florida is freaking hot this time of year and conventions are sweaty, and he probably didn't want to wear the same stanky t-shirt for all three days.

As it happens, either people really want Sean to attend, or they really want to embarrass him, because as of this writing we've already received enough donations to cover his plane ticket and our hotel room. So now it's fallen on me to make shirts for him.

Special Super Bon Bon sized thanks to Sean's friend John Doughty for using his awesome skills to not only create a ponysona for Sean, but also to design a lovely logo suitable for putting on a shirt! John has saved me a TON of time and the end result looks better than anything I would have made.

Also, be sure to go to my Facebook page to vote for a name for Sean's ponysona!

So now I'm sourcing shirts for Sean, and here's what I've come up with.

I can get three of these from Allied Shirts for $56.35 and free shipping. But while they're nice shirts, I get the feeling that Sean won't wear them very often. But I'd much rather get just two of them for $37.57, and have the third shirt be a nice embroidered polo, like this one from Queensboro:
Some of you may well be wondering "But Erin, why are you getting a nice embroidered polo when you can just get a third t-shirt and be done with it for $56.35?" And that is an excellent question.

If I don't get enough contributions, then that's what I'll do. But my reasoning here is twofold:
  1. If we make it a very nice polo shirt, then Sean may not pay attention to the shirt he's putting on an inadvertently wear ponies to work or to a political function. And that will be HILARIOUS. 
  2. To meet the $50 car minumum for embroidery, I'd need to add an additional shirt to the order. And honestly, I'd like to have a pony polo shirt as well, featuring my ponysona (Powder Flash) in complimentary colors. There's an evening reception the first day of the Gun Rights Policy Conference, and Sean and I would look quite spiffy wearing our "team uniforms". You want me to look spiffy, don't you?

    Besides, unlike Sean I'd wear mine all over the place, like to the NRA Annual Meeting or the Big 3 Media Event. And if I ever have another TV interview like I did with the BBC, I'd wear it then as well!
I realize that this nearly doubles our total, but the shirts are REALLY nice and Sean has promised to wear his to all day and even be filmed wearing it. So please donate to my t-shirt fund and I will have a really nice shirt and Sean can be publicly embarrassed!

Any additional money will go defray my food and gas costs to get there, and any extra after that will be donated to helping Charles "Dustbury" Hill with his medical expenses.

Thank you very much!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Traveller Tuesday: the Tech Level Characteristic

This is just a wild hair notion up my nethers. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not; I'm just getting it written down so I can ponder the ramifications.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Before characteristics are rolled, the starting Tech Level of the character is determined by rolling 3d6-3, with a DM of +1 for Darrians and perhaps a penalty or level cap (at the GM's discretion) to other non-Imperial races. This gives a range of 0-15, which nicely matches the range of TLs available within the Third Imperium. 

The TL stat is used to determine the tech level of the character's homeworld, and therefore the level of technology that he is familiar with. The player should select that character's homeworld accordingly. 

During character creation, any opportunity to increase INT or EDU may be used to increase TL instead with the GM's approval. For example, it makes sense for a low-TL conscript within the Imperial Navy military to increase his TL; it may not make sense for an entertainer.

Using This Characteristic
TL is not rolled for skill checks. Instead it has the following uses:
  • A character injured in the course of a career uses the DM of the TL (+3 for TL15, +2 for TL 12-14, etc) in both the roll for injury severity as well as the roll to see if medical bills are paid by patron or employer. 
  • This DM is also used when rolling to avoid aging effects. 
    • In both of these cases, if the employer is the Imperium, the military of a system, or otherwise has a logically higher TL than the character, then use the TL of the system [15 for the Imperium] instead.
  • It provides a base for the Tech Level Familiarity rules as found in the 1e book Scoundrel, pp.134-135. 
  • Primitive: TL 0 to 3
  • Industrial: TL 4 to 6
  • Prestellar: TL 7 to 9
  • Early Stellar: TL 10 to 11
  • Average Stellar: TL 12 to 14
  • High Stellar: TL 15 to 16
  • Advanced Stellar: TL 17-19
  • Beyond: TL 20+
Familiarity and Comfort can be easily extrapolated to further categories as needed. The pattern is:
  • C for TL and TL-1
  • F for TL+1 and TL-2 to -4
  • U for everything else

U, F, C
Paraphrasing from Scoundrel:

A character unfamiliar with technology will not understand it or know how to operate it due to its alienness, advanced design, or his own technological ignorance, and suffers a -3 DM to his roll when trying to do so. Naturally, this does not apply to lower-tech items which are still in use on that character's homeworld; for example, the knife and fork are TL 1 tools, but even a TL 15 character will know how to use one. However, that same TL 15 character will likely be unable to start a fire using flint and steel without appropriate training in primitive technologies (such as the Survival skill).

DM penalties stack; attempting to manipulate unfamiliar technology without a relevant skill results in a -6 DM.

A character familiar with technology may not necessarily understand how the item works, but he is comfortable with using it and does so without penalty -- so long as he has skills in it. For example, a TL 2 musketeer could grasp the basics of using a gauss rifle after instruction, since he knows Gun Combat, but a farmer would have a -3 unfamiliar technology penalty (likely on top of a -3 unskilled penalty). 

Familiarity is on an item-by-item basis, not blanket across a TL: just because that TL 2 musketeer knows how to operate a TL 12 gauss rifle does not mean he can operate a TL 9 air/raft. Familiarity with the air/raft will also have to be acquired before he can use it, and until then he will suffer from a -3 DM (assuming the GM is feeling charitable and allows his Drive: Carriage skill to apply; if it doesn't, or if he doesn't have the skill, he's back at -6 DM). 

A character comfortable with technology can operate items of that technological rank because he understands the basic principles behind them. He does not need a skill to operate an item, although there is still a -3 DM unskilled penalty. Comfort extends across the entire TL, rather than on a case-by-case basis. 

Current Drawbacks to this House Rule
  1. There is definite benefit to coming from a higher TL (specifically in regards to aging and injury), with no commensurate benefit to coming from a lower TL other than comfort/familiarity with primitive technology. Given that TL is a stat and the conventional wisdom is "High stats good, low stats bad", this limitation may not be a fundamental flaw. 
  2. Players will have to keep track of familiarity and comfort levels for their characters through gameplay. 
  3. Given a term within the Imperial Navy/Marines, TL-as-stat may become meaningless, or at best a range due to 4 years' exposure to high technology. A stat of TL "9 to 15" is so broad as to mean little. 
  4. Given the main benefits of this stats exist during character creation, to adding this retroactively to existing player characters is rather pointless unless your campaign trends toward exposure to TL 16+ technologies. 
What do you think? 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Story About Dawn

Last Tuesday was Dawn Faust Bibby's Celebration of Life. I actually have a Dawn story that I was saving for the Celebration, but since I wasn't asked to speak I figure I'll tell it here.
Back in November of 2014, I got a call from Oleg that he was in Florida and that I ought to meet him at our usual spot (said usual spot being behind the house of a friend down in Cocoa, in whose back yard we have frequently shot and once blew up a zombie target). I was specifically looking forward to seeing Oleg because I had been talking with him about my idea that eventually became the "Gun Owner Diversity" poster, and so we planned to have him take pictures of me.

It's out of character for me, but let me be uncomfortably specific here, because it's relevant to the story: I was bringing down several sets of women's clothes so that Oleg could photograph a bearded, obviously biological male in drag for the poster. 

When I arrived, however, Oleg wasn't alone. In fact, there were quite a few people there.
  • People I hadn't met before. 
  • People I who was, shall we say, uncomfortable showing that side of myself to, because I was freshly "out" as trans and didn't know how people would react and I really didn't want to cause a stir or confrontation. 
So while I waited for Oleg to finish, I talked to those people. One of them was John Bibby, and we became acquainted. He invited me back to his house for dinner later.

By the time Oleg got to me, we were losing the light (and I'd had plenty of time to work up a good level of nerves, due to being around people I didn't know), and so we compromised: I would put on something sporty and simple, and he'd take some establishing shots of me to 1) burn off my nervousness and 2) get a feel for how better to photograph me the next day.  I agreed, changed behind the house (no one was around), and let him take pictures.

(No, you aren't going to see those pictures; they're terrible. Don't get me wrong: Oleg's composition is fine, I'm just hideously uncomfortable and it's plain for all to see.)

By the time we were finished, we'd lost the light and night was falling quickly. However, I didn't have anywhere to change out of drag and into "respectable" clothing (I mentioned the house was empty and the lights were out, yes?), and this was a dilemma for me. Oleg assured me that I looked perfectly fine, and that both John and Dawn would be fine with me as I was.

Somewhat assured, I followed him back to the Bibby's house. I parked my car, got up to their front door... and proceeded to have a panic attack on their front porch.
I can't possibly go in like this. Not only do I look awful, but John's wife doesn't even know me or know to expect this. It's rude behavior, and a guest is supposed to be polite.
Heck, she might even take offense at this. Some women see transvestites and transgenders as a mockery. I certainly don't want to cause trouble. I can't go inside. 
I can't change clothes, though. I have no room to do it in my car, and I can't change on their well-lit porch or carport because this house is on a busy street and someone will see me being indecent. 
 I really, really want to leave. Just run away. But I can't do that, either, because it's also incredibly rude. 
What the hell do I do?
After what felt like 20 minutes of panic, but was likely only 30 seconds, I came up with a stopgap solution: I opened the door just a crack, said "Hi, sorry to be a bother, I'm just having a panic attack on your porch, please don't mind me. I'll be in as soon as I have my act together," then promptly sat down on their outdoor couch and proceeded to freak out.

I don't know how long I was out there. It felt like hours. Oleg checked on me and assured me that 1) it was going to be all right, that Dawn knew who I was and that it was okay, and 2) dinner was still cooking so I could stay outside until then but at some point I would have to go inside.

Dinner was announced, and I couldn't make myself come inside. I was entertaining possibilities of "Okay, maybe if I get in my car and find an empty cul-de-sac, I can change there and come back... but I don't have a map of the area, and if I leave I'll probably get lost and not be able to find the place again.."  when Dawn, in her unique style, solved the problem.

She came out onto the porch and sat down next to me. I was so so embarrassed I couldn't even look at her, but that didn't seem to matter. She just said, in her soft and kind voice, "Erin, I want you to know that Oleg has explained who you are to me, and I'm perfectly fine with it. I accept you as you are, and you are welcome in my home. Now please come inside and have dinner with us." Then she gave me a sideways hug and went inside.

In one graceful motion, Dawn had defused the entire situation:
  • Too embarrassed to come inside? No problem, she'd go outside to me. 
  • Didn't want to come into her house dressed like that? She didn't make me.
  • Worried about what she'd think? She told me what she thought of me, and how I was dressed, and welcomed me anyway. 
Well. After that, all of my objections were pretty much in flames... so after taking another moment to compose myself, I went inside. I had a wonderful time with her and John and Oleg, and they even put me up on their couch for the night so I wouldn't have to drive home and back again for the photo shoot the next day. 

That one moment defined Dawn for me: kind, accepting, and a delightful combination of "not accepting my nonsense but still being mindful of my feelings."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #105 - Purple Ponies at the Gun Rights Policy Conference

Erin "Voodoo Princess Daintyhooves" continues her nefarious plot to turn everyone in the gunblog world into ponies. This time, it's Sean "Unicorn Rampant Sable" Sorrentino who has fallen into her hoofy clutches!
  • The GunBlog VarietyCast is now a proud member of The Self Defense Radio Network.
  • Beth gives us some good pointers for on how to take a date to the range.
  • Why does he do it? No, not the "NC Teen who's been arrested dozens of times before being charged with murder;" why does Sean do the "Felons Behaving Badly" segment? We're glad you asked.
  • It sounds like a science fiction movie, but it's actually evil website design. Barron tells us all about "Dark Patterns."
  • In our main topic, Sean and Erin talk about the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Tampa, and Erin talks Sean into doing something he'll regret. 
Cunning likeness, wouldn't you agree?
 I'm thinking about calling him Purple Brash. 

This is a work in progress of Sean's ponysona, one of three shirts I'm going to make him wear (yes, a pony shirt for each day of the conference).
Would you like to embarrass Sean?
Send donations to the following link:

  • Did you know that Erin has a YouTube channel? She does Apocabox unboxing videos. What's an Apocabox? Erin explains.
  • Weer'd didn't want to leave out all the other anti-gun nuts at the Massachusetts AG press conference. It's their turn getting a Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for NBC's TV show Aquarius.
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 also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support. Go to to join.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense at Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense Seminars:
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • September 17 - Minnesota & Wisconsin specific - La Crosse, WI
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania & New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 15 - New York specific - Poughkeepsie, NY
  • October 22 - Iowa specific - Johnston, IA
  • October 23 - Iowa specific - Central City, IA
  • November 5 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR

Friday, August 19, 2016

SHTFriday: Apocabox Unboxing #13 (August 2016)

Once again, the curse of the Apocabox strikes. (This post is backdated to Friday the 19th, but I'm actually publishing it on Sunday the 21st.)

That's the bad news. The good news is that I've gotten the hang of my video editing software and I've cut out the transitions between items, which means the video is shorter while still having the same amount of good stuff in it. Now if I can just remember to keep my hands in the center of the frame...

Anyway. enjoy the video. This box, the Blackout Edition, was a box of extremes: there were some things that fell flat, but the good parts were really REALLY good, so it all evens out.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Requiescat In Pace, Bastardo


  1. stare openly and stupidly.
    "they were gawking at some pinup"
    synonyms: gape, goggle, gaze, ogle, stare, stare open-mouthed; informal rubberneck

    "I somehow managed not to gawk at his gorgeous roommate"
The news is grim at Gawker HQ this morn, as they've posted the above release. In a week's time, the doors will shutter, with Nick Denton having lost his trial against the Hulkster, and Univision picking up the shattered remains of a company leg-dropped through the legal system. I come not to praise Gawker, nor to bury it, but to dance upon its grave, urinate wildly on the headstone, and make a general nuisance of myself at the wake.

It would appear that Univision has decided not to shut down any of Gawker's satellite sites, such as Kotaku and Jezebel, but simply Gawker itself. The brand would appear too toxic to touch. I certainly hope, for their own sake, that Kotaku and Jezebel start making money soon, otherwise they'll be closed down as well.

So, uh... keep doing what you're doing, Kotaku and Jezebel. I'm certain if you keep up with your tried and true formula, you'll turn things around and won't end up shut down like daddy Gawks.

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