Expecto Patreonum!

Become a patron via my Patreon page and you can help me produce quality nerdy things.

For more information on how this works, please read this post. Thanks!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Because I hate leaving good lines on Facebook

So apparently there's a "Transgender War on English" now? Wow. This is the first I've heard of it.

How exciting!  This does however lead to several burning questions:
  • Why was I not ordered to enlist or report for duty?
  • Where exactly are the front lines?
  • Do I need my Mosin?
  • Which side do I fight on, anyway? Because as David Blackard at BCP will tell you, I am an intense grammarian; but yet I am also trans. 
  • Do I still get to wear my witch costume if I end up fighting against political correctness?
I need to know these things!

And god bless my Facebook friends. They came up with some good lines, too:
Did you miss the draft? Oh good grief, seriously? Well ... I don't know what to say. Millions of letters went out. Oh dear god, I hope the addresses weren't mis-spelt. The shame.
I think you might be called to referee.
I can't say whether you would NEED your Mosin, but it's always a fine fashion statement.
But this is my favorite:
Perhaps because you're just in the Transgender Militia, which is only activated after the Active Transgender Army, Transgender Reserves and Transgender Inactive Ready Reserve. Surely the National Transgender Guard would be committed long before the Transgender Militia.

In conclusion, take it away, Eddie Izzard:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scarcity, by Jean Bauhaus

Jean has been a good friend of mine for many years now. I've posted excerpts of her work on this blog before, and I'm doing so again to draw attention to the fact that she has a Kickstarter campaign going so that she can write a sequel to her delightful first novel, Restless Spirits (formerly This Old Haunt).

Here's a sample of her work -- short and self-contained -- set in another of her universes.


Scarcity

by Jean Marie Bauhaus

The lights still came on at night in the city. The girl wondered how long they would keep doing that, without anyone around to turn them on. The screens and news tickers in Times Square had been broadcasting the same warnings to stay inside and lock your doors for two weeks now. She didn’t think there was anyone left in the city still capable of heeding the warnings.

But she kept looking, just in case.

She stuck to the shadows and avoided streets where she could hear the tell-tale moans. She wasn’t afraid of those things. They weren’t that hard to kill, one on one. But swarms were a different story, and she couldn’t afford to get injured. Too many depended on her to lead them. To feed them.

So she hunted, even though it seemed more useless with each passing night.

A scream pierced the silence, filling the girl with hope. Only the living screamed like that. She scanned the street, the shops and restaurants. The living tended to show up where there might be food.

But the unliving tended to show up where there was screaming, so she had to hurry. The woman screamed again, and the girl raced toward the sound. There, up ahead. The Starbucks on Eighth Street. The windows were broken. A woman backed out of the door, clutching a broken and bloody two-by-four like a club. A shopping bag hung over her shoulder.

The girl came up from behind. Peering over the woman’s shoulder, she saw a man lying on the floor, swarmed by the unliving. They were devouring him. The woman sobbed. For now, they were too distracted to hear her.

The girl spun her around. The woman screamed and raised her weapon, but didn’t swing it. “Are you bit?” the girl asked.

Dazedly, the woman shook her head. “My husband.” She looked back at the man on the floor . . . what was left of him. “David. . . .”

“We can’t help him. Come with me.”

“Where?”

“Away from them.” Inside, the ones who couldn’t get their fill were starting to take notice of them. “Now.” She grabbed the woman’s hand, and pulled. The swarm filed out through the door behind them. They ran together down the street, turning here and there, tracing a path through a maze the girl knew well. The woman kept sobbing as they went. “Be quiet!” the girl commanded.

They ran down an alley, to a dead end. They turned around. The woman screamed again as the swarm followed them, blocking the entrance. There was nowhere to go.

The others emerged from the shadows. Her children. Together, they fought the oncoming horde. It was easy, together. When they were finished, covered in gore and surrounded by squirming pieces of the unliving, they turned to the woman as one.

She looked confused, and terrified. “My . . . my name is Sheila.” She held out the grocery bag with a trembling hand. “I have food.”

“We know,” said the girl, her fangs descending. “And we’re so hungry.”

***

If you'd like to read more in this vein [ahem], check out Dominion of the Damned, which is described as "BUFFY meets THE WALKING DEAD". It's currently a free Kindle download on Amazon, so please read it and rate it. And if you like Jean's work, please check out her other stories.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Medical Specialization

Does anyone else find it odd that the Gun Combat skill in Traveller differentiates between pistols and rifles, and yet the Medic skill doesn't even address the obvious biological differences between a Human, a Vargr, and a Droyne?

Fortunately, this is easily remedied.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Anyone with Medic-0 is a certified first responder. More than just a Boy Scout with a merit badge in first aid, this level actually teaches basic trauma procedures. (For a rough idea of what this entails, imagine the skills a basic police officer or non-EMT firefighter would have.)

More importantly, this skill teaches the user how to read medical diagnostic devices. Given that the Third Imperium is a multi-species place, medical kits need to be as accommodating as possible, and by TL10 many cross-species medicines have been created. Still, a lethal dosage to a Vargr may be ineffectual to an Aslan, and so being able to make sense of a medscanner is of highest priority.

Beyond medic-0, medical specialties are as follows:
  • Humaniti*
  • Aslan
  • Bwap
  • Droyne (includes Chirpers)
  • Gurvin
  • Hiver
  • Ithklur 
  • K'kree
  • Vargr*
  • Virushi
  • [any other minor race not listed here]
  • Low Berths -- This is used to safely revive passengers from low passage. This specialization exists so that the GM does not need to determine the species of every low passenger. 
* Given that Vargr are derived from Terran wolves, these two species are similar enough that their specialties default to one another at one-half their rating (thus a medic with Humaniti-2 effectively has Vargr-1, and vice-versa.

Beyond this, everything else is a function of the skill rating. Reprinting the table from Starports, p.15:
  • a Paramedic has Medic 1.
  • a Doctor has Medic 2, plus Life Sciences (biology) 1.
  • a Surgeon has Medic 3.
  • a Consultant has Medic 3, plus Life Sciences (Biology) 2.
  • Specialist Consultants will have additional skills such as Life Sciences (genetics) and Life Sciences (cybernetics), usually at level 2.

Sidebar: What's in a medikit?
  • A medical multilab (Cosmopolite, p.106) or portable mediscanner (CSC, p.167) 
  • Automated external defibrillator (or equivalent) 
  • Drugs: 
    • Anti-radiation drugs 
    • Panaceas 
    • Stim drugs (aka caffeine pills)
    • Nervous Response Dampeners (aka "a mild sedative") 
    • Adrenalizers 
    • Endotherm 
    • Exotherm 
  • Bandages 
  • Splints 
  • Emergency blankets 
  • Other assorted first aid materials
Instead of giving a hard number for how many doses are available, simply roll to see if there are any left after the first. A small individual kit is 10+ on 2d6; a family sized kit is 8+ and a large faculty-size kit is 6+.

As a general rule, assume that all kits within the Third Imperium will work on Humaniti (of all types, including Darrians and Zhodani), Vargr, Aslan, and Bwaps. Outside of the Rimward sectors, K'kree and Hivers are uncommon; roll 10+ to see if their biology is accounted for in medkits deeper within the Imperium (all well-stocked hospital facilities will have those, however). Droyne are encountered throughout the Imperium; roll 8+ for them, and for other minor Imperial species.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Gunday Palette's Product Reviews: Tandemkross Sub-2000 "Eagle Eye" Sights


Last week I reviewed some quick, easy and inexpensive upgrades for my Sub-2000 courtesy of Tandemkross. This week I'm going to talk about a more expensive, more involved upgrade for your S2K.


Eagle Eye Peep and Open Sights ($44.99)
The stock rear sight on a Sub-2000 is a non-adjustable plastic peep sight that deploys when the carbine is unfolded. This makes it difficult to mount magnified optics of any sort: an S2K owner must either remove the plastic sight altogether or experiment with removable risers that move the scope bell over the peep sight and close enough to achieve proper eye relief.
My S2K with  folded open sight and a 4x scope on a quick-release mount.
The Eagle Eye sights by Tandemkross solve this dilemma by introducing rear sights that can fold down when the carbine is deployed, giving a Sub-2000 owner more choices in the use of optics. In addition, these sights are made out of metal, making them more durable.

Here is a video showing the sights in action.


Installation: The sights installed easily, and at no point did I wish I had a third hand to hold anything. Instructions were clear and concise. with color photographs and guide arrows. I was told I might need a small punch to remove the aluminum pin holding the sight in place, but in my case this was not necessary. I am continually impressed with how easy to read Tandemkross' instructions are.

Performance: It took a little fiddling with the screws to achieve a tension that held the sight in place but still allowed a smooth raising and lowering, but this was nothing unexpected. Once installed, I was satisfied with their function: they did not fall down when the Sub-2000 was operated, and I was able to achieve a good sight picture with the open sight.

You will note that I specifically excluded the peep sight. Here is why:
This is the open sight next to the stock plastic sight. They are mounted on the same sight lever rod ensure the same horizontal axis. You will note that the apertures line up (I apologize for the line intersections not being centered; this was the best I could do as I am not a professional photographer).
This is the same stock plastic sight, but this time next to the peep sight. It is immediately obvious that the TK peep sight is lower than the default sight. This means that the new sight will have a different point of aim, and that the elevation of the front sight will need to be adjusted.

From TK's Product Department:
"The Peep has been re-dimensioned. Having is a little lower means that the front sight will have to be adjusted when installing. We have had reports of the stock front sight not being able to come up high enough so having the rear sight a little lower will help with front sights that do not have enough upward travel.
Be that as it may, there is no mention of this sight being lower than stock, either in its instructions or in the product description. People who install this sight will notice that their gun is suddenly shooting lower, and will likely be irritated to discover that their new sight is to blame. Had I not noticed this during installation, I know that I would be pretty peeved.

Perhaps I'm being unreasonable here. Perhaps my inexperience or ignorance is shining forth, and I ought to expect that changing a rear peep sight would affect elevation. I simply assumed that an aftermarket peep sight would have an identical point of aim as that of the sight it was replacing, unless otherwise specified. 

My Recommendation
I wholeheartedly recommend the open sight to all Sub-2000 owners. I consider it a bit pricey, but the ability to use scopes on my S2K makes up for that.

I recommend against  buying the peep sight. Why should you be forced to re-zero your sights when you can buy the open sight and not have to? Additionally, I feel that not labeling it as being lower than the standard sight is a terrible disservice to customers, and that sort of negligence should not be rewarded.

  • Eagle Eye Open Sight: Grade A+ all around. 
  • Eagle Eye Peep Sight: Grade C. Once you know it's smaller you can work around it, but honestly you shouldn't have to, and it's not obvious that it's smaller. I subtracted a full letter grade for non-disclosure of that fact. 

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I received these products for free and did not receive payment in exchange for a good review. You will notice that I gave one of them a bad review. Go away. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #54

http://tinyurl.com/nmwoenx
The podcast survived a near catastrophic computer crash while recording the show this week. Sean's computer took a dive off the back of the shelf it sits on and crashed to the floor. But Adam and Sean rallied and finished the show!

Stay tuned after the Stuff That Grinds My Gears segment, where Sean gives his response to DadScribe's blog post "What your NRA Sticker Says About You".

Our Contributors This Week!
  • Erin Palette clues us in to the many alternate uses of duct tape.
  • Nicki Kenyon gives us some insight into a crumbling Venezuela.
  • Special Guest The Unnamed Trucker from The RoadGunner Podcast tells us a story about the difficulty of explaining Massad F. Ayoob to gun store counter jockeys in very rural Arkansas
  • Barron B gives us three great options for wireless routers in the Wee, Not So Wee, and F'kin HUGE! categories.
  • And Weer'd catches Michael Bloomberg's The Trace in yet another lie. This time they're claiming that the UK's largest gun bust in history wouldn't even make the top ten gun bust in the US this year!
Thanks for downloading, listening and subscribing. Please share with a friend, and Like and Share us on Facebook.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
Special thanks to Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" and get 10% off at checkout.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 6: The SPJ Airplay Bomb Threat


Part 1: An Introduction

Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman


In Which I Follow Up

Today is the 27th of August, 2015. A year ago today, actor Adam Baldwin coined the term that would become the hashtag Gamergate. Over the next few days, a concerted effort by games media to shame gamers and shut down any questioning viewpoints failed to stop it, and it's grown, peaked, and leveled off since then. I've watched this story for the last year, continuing to lurk and research in both the pro- and anti-GG camps. I've seen beautiful moments of clarity as people learn to question narratives that have been fed to them by their own 'sides' (much as I had do to myself) in the pro- camp. I've seen people come so close to self-awareness in the anti- camp, only to pull back in fear. I've seen the phenomenon of “Game-dropping” occur, where major media outlets will reference the dreaded boogeyman Gamergate everywhere from marginally-related topics like Science Fiction awards to completely unrelated topics like planned off-world colonies on Mars to reprehensibly placed references to shootings nearly a year later.

Two Saturdays ago, on a day in Miami that was so hot and muggy that you couldn't pay me to be out in it, The Society of Professional Journalism hosted a talk on the subject of Gamergate. They'd had an “Ethics Week,” an event where they “recognize journalists who seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and are accountable and transparent.” To those opposed to Gamergate, “actually, its about ethics in games journalism” has become a joke, a meme, something to (somehow) discredit their boogeyman-like adversary, but to the pro- side, it's still very much an important idea. And so they flooded SPJ's Ethics Week hashtag. Regional SPJ director Michael Koretzky took notice and started talking to people -- people on both sides. What he found out can be summed up in a quote taken from an interview (linked below) with David Pakman: “I'm a journalist for 30 years, so I have the sympathy of a slot machine. Sympathy is not an issue. When someone tells me, as a journalist, all of those people over there are evil assholes, I get my antenna up and I don't believe it, because I don't believe the word “all” ever.”


“It's hard enough getting journalists to care about ethics, and here were civilians caring about ethics.” -- Michael Koretzky

So Koretzky got to work. He put together SPJ Airplay. His original intent was a debate, getting both pro- and anti-factions to the table. He reached out to prominent names on the anti-side, names that I previously wrote that I was warned against mentioning. Every one of them (as I'll speculate here), when faced with the prospect of being exposed to a rebuttal argument that can't be silenced with a twitter blocklist, declined to appear. The pro-side very eagerly found representatives, including three women and three men -- four journalists, a professor, and a youtube streamer. SPJ recruited a journalist ethics expert, journalism trainer, and an indie games developer. Anti-GG? Still no one.


The first panel went off without a hitch, with a lot of good discussion on the topic, and one of the highlights being the SPJ representatives roundly denouncing Gawker after an audience member presented a statement for their consideration that Gawker 'destroys lives.' The afternoon panel was argumentative and meandering, as you'd expect it to be with both Christina Hoff-Summers and Milo Yannapoulis present, at least until around the 1:15 mark, where the auditorium was swiftly evacuated. Despite the precautions taken by Koretzky which included notifying the police beforehand and searching and locking down the building overnight with a private security firm, a bomb threat was emailed to both the police and the Miami Herald with a specific time.

Which can't be looked at as anything but suspicious as this isn't even the first time it's happened. The #GGinDC meetup at a local bar had the same result. If you use your imagination and look at it with a very open mind these instances, coupled with an entirely one-sided narrative from the mainstream media (spurred on by the original targets of ire such as Kotaku and Polygon) it's almost as if dissent of the narrative must be silenced, no matter the cost.


“My opinion is that, after looking into this, is that most of the harassing done on both sides is being done by people on neither side.” -- Michael Koretzky


After the event, Koretzky and the SPJ reps co-opted an abandoned house and continued speaking with the panelists and members of the audience for some time after. You would think that after such a momentous event, gaming and other cultural sites would be chomping at the bit to report it, but beyond a few smaller sites and a surprisingly out of character and even-handed piece from Polygon, there was nary a peep. David Pakman, who had previously covered the story by interviewing both sides, spoke with Koretzky on the matter and, based on their discussion, they make a pretty poor misogynistic hate group. 


The cracks are showing in the narrative, mainly because the people who want better media refuse to roll over and die. They seem to have brought their tanks and medics and are fully prepared to fight this raid boss for as long as it takes, win or lose.

Trending on Twitter during the event.


The Fine Print


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License


Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.