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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Salem's Moment of Inspiration

I am obscenely busy this week recovering funds from a Paypal snafu and drama from work, so I'm forced to phone it in. But I won't leave you empty-handed.

Have a truly inspirational piece of work in my absence. I mean it this time. No sarcasm. This is one of those videos that I feel everyone that's ever been in a rough place really needs to see.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Because I hate wasting my good material on Facebook...

If you need this explained, it's because the 1911 was designed by John Moses Browning (PBUH) and the hardcore adherents of JHM append the honorific "peace be upon him" to his name.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Traveller Tuesday: Extended Mortgages

There are ships in Traveller that are canonically known as "Adventurer Class", i.e. they are ideal for parties of player characters. But some of them are downright un-affordable.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Take the Mercenary Cruiser, for example. As listed in the 1e Core Rulebook -- in other words, with no weapons installed at all -- comes out to MCr. 481.6  (yes, the book says MCr. 433.44; it's wrong. Do the math and see for yourself). 481,600,000 divided by 240 months -- the standard 20-year mortgage -- comes out to over two million credits a month.  And this is before you factor in arms, ammunition, crew salaries, mercenary salaries, medical bills, damage to the ship, and the sundry other expenses that go with fielding an elite merc unit.


Of course, the obvious answer to this is "An elite unit gets the best tickets, and those pay off in the tens of Megacreds." All right, perhaps so; but there are other ships out there with a similar problem.

Let's say that a Noble with 9 terms and a Social Status of 14 -- a Count -- retires and wants to buy a 600 dton Liner to become his luxurious Jump-3 mobile home. Why, the mortgage on that is only a mere 1,143,558.33 credits a month. And what does this long-serving, high-status Noble have in income each month?

182, 125 credits a month. (I know this because I used character creation to roll up the Count and used the Wealth system in Book 8: Dilettante during mustering out.)

Ponder that for a moment: A nine-term Count must take on passengers, or haul speculative cargo, in order to pay for a ship which is, I feel, commensurate with his service and standing. 

Fortunately, there is a logical way around this. I suppose I could have just led with the house rule, but I needed to get some ranting off my chest first. 

The Extended Mortgage
While the standard 20-year mortgage is what most peons regular people must use, there are always exceptions made for the wealthy, the famous, and the connected. These extended mortgages can go for 40, 60, even 100 years or longer, making expensive ships far more affordable. That same luxury liner that costs MCr. 1.144 each month at a 20 year rate now becomes
  • Cr. 571,779.17 at 40 years
  • Cr. 381,186.11 at 60 years
  • Cr. 285,889.58 at 80 years
  • Cr. 228,711.67 at 100 years
  • Cr. 114,355.83 at 200 years
How is such a thing possible? 
Essentially, the person signing the loan has a co-signer: his family name, his corporation, his estate, or some other institution which the bank believes will still be in existence at the end of the mortgage. In the case of His Excellency, the Lord Counte Raté vers le Haute, Count of Mongo and Baron of Jewell, the Right Honorable Nurushmusgirnaasi Shashaagramikshegii, he is essentially telling the bank "If I die before I pay this off, my family will continue to pay for it. Be it my children, my siblings or my parents, someone within the Noble House of Jewell will honor this debt."

In effect, the loan is being guaranteed by a larger institution with both a solid reputation and non-liquid assets. 

Game Mechanics
The character wishing to make such a mortgage needs one or more of these:
  • Social Standing of 12 or higher
  • A family or corporation willing to assume the debt  (Social Status of family or corporation head is used instead of character's SOC)
  • 1% of the total in liquid funds that are used as a down payment (+1 DM; +2 DM if  5%, +3 DM if 10%)
  • The character is on anagathics legally (+1 DM)
The base difficulty is 12 for a 40 year mortgage; each additional 20 year mortgage term increases the difficulty +1. 

The character then rolls SOC + Admin + other DMs. If the character seeking the mortgage has Broker, he may roll it instead of Admin with a +1 to his roll. If the character has neither Broker nor Admin, he may roll Diplomat with a -1 DM. 

Other PCs or NPCs may assist by creating task chains. For example, a financial adviser may be brought in to roll EDU + Broker to prove the character is financially solvent and a good risk; a lawyer or other bureaucratic specialist may be brought in to handle all the paperwork with INT + Admin. 

To conclude our example, the RH Count of Mongo (SOC +2, Diplomat 3), trading solely on his reputation, needs a roll of 8+ in order to get a 40-year mortgage on his luxury liner. If, however, he wishes to get the monthly mortgage down to a rate he can afford -- 160 years at Cr. 142,944.79 -- then that has a difficulty of 18. Count Tobias will need to trade upon his family's name, prove he is on life extension and in good health, bring his staff with him,  be his most charming self, and possibly even liquidate some of his holdings in order to secure such a loan; difficult, but still possible for a man of such means.

A handy spreadsheet to calculate this may be found here. Also included on the sheet are entries for calculating interest on a ship mortgage, if one wishes both increased realism and evil to inflict upon PCs. 

A Closing Thought
From one of my players: Not only is the extended mortgage very Vilani by passing debts along family lines, it also encourages long-term stable businesses, and families, with sensible assets. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Archangel OPFOR Stock for the Mosin-Nagant

Today I'm doing something I really should have done sooner, but I felt I needed to test it thoroughly before I reviewed it. That feeling of "needing to test it a bit more" lasted for over a year. During the course of that year, not only did I shoot it extensively, but I allowed other people to shoot it as well and they all had good things to say about it.

As I am not a hunter I did not take it hunting, nor did I deliberately abuse it as I do not believe in testing to destruction. However, it is my opinion that this stock is rugged enough to take whatever punishment you dish out, as the plastic is definitely not flimsy.

[This space is reserved for all the purists who will undoubtedly object to modifying an old rifle. Consider your opinions voiced, noted, and ignored.]

The Price: 
$205.75 MSRP, $174.95 Amazon, $152.99 MidwayUSA
I'm going address the elephant in the room first: Why would anyone buy a stock that costs as much as the rifle it goes on?

The first and best reason is "Because of the magazines." Archangel has created a 10-round detachable box magazine for the Mosin that is still reloadable from the top via stripper clips. The sheer convenience of this is not to be underestimated:
  • Do you have a scope over the action that prevents you from using stripper clips? This solves your problem permanently. 
  • Do you get tired of loading via clips and wish there was a faster, easier way to reload? This is your answer. 
  • Would you like to double the ammunition capacity of your Mosin and you haven't been able to get in touch with Riflemods to order an extended magazine? Not only does this answer your prayer, you get a more convenient way to reload your rifle. 
A word of warning: Archangel makes both 5-round and 10-round magazines. If you buy the stock, make sure you get one with the magazine you want! I believe the stocks on Amazon are 5-round magazines only. Price at MidwayUSA: $13.79 for a 5-round magazine, $16.49 for a 10-round.

The other two reasons are "Better ergonomics than any other Mosin stock out there" and "It automatically floats the barrel." Combine this with being lighter than the typical wooden Mosin stock and the ability to pick the color you want, and it's a winner.

Now, if you were to ask me "But is it WORTH paying the cost of a second Mosin?", then I'm afraid I can't answer that, as worth and value are not the same thing as price and cost. What I can tell you is that for about $350 to $400 and some elbow grease, you can buy a surplus rifle and turn it into a really nice shooter. It may not perform as well as a $1,000 Remington 700, but you'll also end up paying half that Remington price.

What You Get
The basic package comes with a single magazine and a stock that "Fits most M1891 rifles, hex / round receivers on 91/30, Soviet M-38 / M-44 / Chinese T-53 carbines" and "Fits Finnish M39 models with some modification". However, given the large variation in styles and manufacturing standards of Mosin Nagant rifles (especially WW2 era), some mild fitting may be required.

The stock also comes with two action screws, a wrench for same, and a barrel tensioner (in case your barrel doesn't shoot properly while floated and needs to be seated).

Other than one issue explained under "Cons" below, installation was drop-in simple for me. I understand, however, that this is not the case for everyone, and some fitting may be required. 

The stock comes pre-inletted for a Timney trigger and bedding pillars, so no extra work is required to install those either initially or later.  

The stock does NOT come pre-inletted for a bent bolt, which will require modification. This is nothing that a Dremel tool won't solve, but it is both annoying and a strike against the product in my book, because 
  1. A notch for the bent bolt should have been part of the design from the beginning, and
  2. There is a hex screw for a completely pointless "OPFOR" plate right where the bolt goes, and
  3. The plate covers an even more pointless hole into the action of the rifle. Simply removing the plate would not be a good idea. 
So not only will you need to Dremel out a notch for your bolt, but you will also need to remove one of the screws. Fortunately, the OPFOR plate is just plastic, so a single screw will hold it in place. 

This is where the Archangel stock shines. The gooseneck pistol grip with palm swell feels great in my hand and makes reaching the trigger far more comfortable for my Hobbit-sized hands, and the adjustable comb riser allows me to achieve a proper cheek weld instead of my previous chin weld. 

Similar to the comb, the buttstock also extends for anyone who desires an increased length of pull (for my readers who don't speak Gun Lingo, length of pull or LOP is the distance from the trigger to the butt of the gun. If you're a short person with short arms, you want a short LOP; taller people with longer arms will be happier with a longer LOP).

There's also a groove for you to place your support hand under the rear of the stock, sniper-style.
Everything feels comfortable and natural, which helps improve accuracy.

If you are kind of person who needs to elevate the comb for a good cheek weld, you had best memorize how many clicks you need to get there, because after 15 there is no way you are removing the bolt for maintenance without lowering the cheek pad.

Other Features

The stock comes with a half-inch thick rubber recoil pad already installed. However, the 7.62x54R cartridge can weary a shoulder quickly after a day of shooting (especially if you're shooting more often due to the convenience of magazine changes), and so I am pleased to report that a large (one inch thick) Limbsaver pad will fit over the buttstock for added comfort. 

There is also a small storage compartment within the pistol grip itself, suitable for holding things like hex wrenches, lens cleaning cloths and broken shell extractors.
Notably absent, however, is a rail system for mounting accessories like a bipod. For that you must separately purchase and install a forend rail. At $16 and Prime shipping from Amazon it's not a major dealbreaker, but (aside from the principle of the thing) installation requires you to remove the action from the stock. If you think you will want the rail, get it along with the stock and install it at the same time to save yourself the hassle.

Neither good nor bad is the sling attachment system. Rather than providing eyelets for traditional sling swivels, the stock instead sports three cups (one in front, 2 on either side of the buttstock) for quick-detach push-button swivels. If you have these kind of swivels lying around, that's great; if not, you're going to have to buy a pair before you can sling your rifle. 

I know I talked these up earlier, but I want to address a curious feature about how the magazines interact with the rifle. I may end up horribly butchering firearm terminology while explaining this, so please forgive and correct me if I do.

The Mosin-Nagant has an internal magazine, and because of this there is a feed interrupter inside the action which prevents all of the cartridges from ejecting up and out every time the bolt pulls back. However, this feed interrupter has made devising detachable magazines for the Mosin tricky at best.!AA76R 02/zoom/c188b/image_1v34
Archangel gets around this dilemma by making the feed interrupter in integral part of the mechanism instead of trying to bypass it. When a magazine is inserted, the feed interrupter interacts with the magazine and causes the top cartridge -- which had been held in place with a retaining loop --to come out of the magazine and advance upwards until it is stopped by the ejector.

If you aren't certain what I'm talking about, watch this video starting at the one minute mark for a better explanation.

What this means is that when you insert a magazine, that top round is going to pop free regardless of whether or not the bolt this closed. If you then decide to remove the magazine without chambering that top round, it's going to be loose and will fall away. This can result in lost ammunition.

There is a way around this, however:
  1. Move the bolt fully to the rear. 
  2. Apply downward pressure to the topmost round until it fully depresses into the magazine. 
  3. Eject the magazine before re-seating the bolt. 
The magazine is ejected via an AK-47 style release lever that is easily worked by the thumb of your supporting hand, but the magazine does not need to be "rocked" in or out like AK mags. Here is a video of the magazines being swapped

My Grade: A
I would have given the Archangel Mosin-Nagant OPFOR Stock an A+ if it had an already inletted notch for a bent bolt and came with a forend rail standard.

I think that this stock is definitely a worthy upgrade to an already dependable rifle. Having detachable magazines that can still be top-loaded via stripper clips is worth the price alone; that fact there are other ergonomic features and performance improvements (like the floated barrel) make this stock worth getting.

As an example, here is the tightest shot group I have ever made with this rifle, and it was made with this rifle stock installed.

I cannot say how much of this grouping is due to the performance increases made by the stock, and how much is simply my shooting technique improving over time. The answer is likely some degree of both. What I can say is that the Archangel OPFOR stock is incredibly comfortable, and that makes everything about operating the rifle easier.

Stock costs as much (or nearly so) as the rifle.

The stock improves the rifle immensely. The entire magazine system is, in my opinion, enough to justify buying the stock.

I recommend this stock to all Mosin-Nagant owners, despite its price tag. 

I promised Sean I'd do this

Folks who know me know that I don't like asking for help.

But my co-host Sean Sorrentino wants me to have better audio gear, so he's trying to raise money for me to get it and he asked me to share this with you.

As he says in his post, When we’re done, Erin will have the ability to record her own interviews, plus will have better control of her locally recorded audio for the podcast.

I will confess that the Zoom H5 recorder will be very useful if I end up doing telephone interviews about Blazing Sword. The headphones and amp are (I think) there to prevent some of the buzz that occurs when I speak; if I recall correctly, Sean thinks it's EM interference from the cables. I'm not an audiophile so I can't really speak to that.

Anyway, he asked me to share this, and I said I would, so... here it is:
Please start a special Amazon Wish List for "Podcast" and make it a "Public" list.
  • PNY Elite Performance 32 GB High Speed SDHC Class 10 UHS-I, U1 up to 95 MB/Sec Flash Card (P-SDH32U195-GE) -  Bought! Thank you!
  • Hosa XVM-105M Right-Angle 3.5 mm TRS to XLR3M Microphone Cable, 5 feet -  Bought! Thank you!
  • Hosa CMS-103 3.5 mm TRS to 1/4 inch TRS Stereo Interconnect Cable, 3 feet -  Bought! Thank you!
  • Mediabridge 3.5mm Male To Male Right Angle Stereo Audio Cable (2 Feet) - 90° Connector For Flush Connections - Step Down Design for iPhone, iPod, Smartphone, Tablet and MP3 Cases - (Part# MPC-35RA-2 ) -  Bought! Thank you!
We now have $300 in your "Buy Erin a Multitrack Recorder" fund. We need $320 just for the recorder. We need about $550 for everything, including the headset and the XLR/TRS which is the lowest priority. 
I think that by putting it into a list, we might be able to have people buy something off the list and save them having to give us cash. But at the very least, when I have the money, it will already be set up so I can send it to you.
As requested, I've made a public wishlist titled Podcasting.

So there you go. If you enjoy the Gun Blog Variety Podcast but are annoyed by the audio artifacts every time I speak, you can donate to make those go away.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #101 - the TIE Fighter episode

Join our ragtag group of pro-gun freedom fighters as they struggle against the evil Empire of malice, stupidity, ignorance and lack of due process or legislative oversight!
  • Beth is tired of "Smart" anti-gun answers to pro-gun statements so, she answers the anti-gunners in turn.
  • Sean looks at the two suspects in the murder of an elderly woman in Kinston, NC.
  • "Legitimate malware?" Barron shows us how to avoid malware served up from sources you thought you could trust.
  • In our main topic, Sean and Erin take a brief look at the recent decision by the Massachusetts AG to unilaterally redefine State law to ban so-called "Assault Weapons."
  • Before you can go somewhere, you first need to know where you are. Erin tells you what kind of maps you need and how to get them.
  • In a special double segment, Tiffany and Weer'd compare their shared history. Both started out as anti-gunners, and both have become pro-gun activists. How did that happen?
  • And our plug of the week is for Merrell Jungle Moc shoes.

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
  • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC (Sold Out! - look for another Raleigh class February 19th of 2017)
  • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • August 20 - Tennessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • September 17 - Minnesota and Wisconsin specific - La Crosse, WI
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 15 - New York specific - Poughkeepsie, NY
  • October 22 - Iowa specific - Johnston, IA

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Uncle Salem's Flat

There are racists in the world.

This revelation should come as no surprise to anyone, be they Left or Right, progressive or conservative, spiritual or atheist. The only difference lies in where the line between "racist" and "not racist" lies for people, and whether they use the dictionary or a sociology 101 definition.

For some, racism comes when a member of one race looks down upon members of another race for no other reason than they believe them inferior in some way. For others, systemic power is all that is required; with that power, everyone of a particular race is racist, and without that power anyone of another cannot be racist at all.

But there's another particularly invasive and vicious form of racism that bothers me more than most, for reasons that I honestly can't put my finger on. Maybe it's my commitment to freedom of thought and speech that makes me susceptible to offense on this issue; maybe it's my strong opposition to groupthink and echo chambers. Whichever it is, I cannot stand it when people heap abuse on someone who believes something that isn't in complete lockstep with members of their identity group. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • Black people being called "Uncle Toms" or "Coons" for not buying into Black Lives Matter. 
  • Women having "internalized misogyny" for not being feminists. 
  • White people being called "race traitors" for dating black people or protecting civil rights. 
  • Gay people being called "self-hating" for not thinking all straight people are out to murder them. 
  • Asians being called "bananas" (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) for whatever reason (yes, I've seen that). 
Demographic groups are just that, demographics. They are not ideologically identical monoliths, and shouldn't be treated as such. They also shouldn't be infantilized for not believing what you believe they should believe. People have their own reasons and influences for believing what they do, just as you do, and they probably believe you are just as wrong as you think they are.

There's a phrase that is very fitting here, as much as it bothers me to quote something coined by one of George W Bush's speechwriters: "The soft bigotry of low expectations." Believing that you know better than someone else without knowing or experiencing the situation of their lives is a very subtle but invasive form of bigotry; couple that with expecting to believe certain things based on their race, and you get a disgusting form of collectivist racism that allows someone to dismiss someone else's point of view because they're "simple-minded" and "self-hating" and "don't know any better".

It's sickening and truly offensive and if you think this way, you're a bigot. But you probably don't think of yourself that way. You probably think yourself a good person. So good of a person that you're somehow better than the person who doesn't think the way you think they should. But you're not.

You're still an asshole to someone based on the circumstances of their birth. And that, I cannot abide. 

The Fine Print

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

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