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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
Part 6: The SPJ Airplay Bomb Threat
Part 7: I Do Actually Stand With Mustafa

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.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Legal Certification

One of my PCs wanted to be a lawyer and asked me how he would go about becoming accredited. Since there were no rules about it, I looked for a precedent and then extrapolated.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
On page 15 of the Starports book, there is a handy sidebar which gives us useful definitions of what skill rating mean for medical professionals:
  • a trained first responder has Medic 0.
  • 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.
(From this I reason that an LPN likely has a Medic skill of 1 or 2, but no Life Sciences, whereas an RN has Life Sciences 0.)

All right, this is handy; it gives me a framework upon which I can hang suppositions. From it we can deduce that legal certification goes something like this:
  • a Legal Assistant has Advocate and Admin 0.
  • a Paralegal has Advocate 1. 
  • a Lawyer has Advocate 2, plus Language (Vilani) and likely Diplomat 1-2 as well. 
  • Corporate lawyers would have Science or Trade skills for their particular areas of expertise.
Certification, of course, would depend upon what branch of law was chosen; civil and criminal law will depend upon the law level of individual planets, but Imperial Law (which, like the law of the Medes and the Persians, altereth not) is good throughout the Imperium. 

But now this means that the Advocate skill needs Specialties!
  • Advocate-0 is the legal version of advanced first aid training. It provides a basic understanding of legal terminology and theory, and knowledge of how (and where) to look up cases, statutes, and precedents. Basic paperwork is also included so that an advocate-0 knows how legal systems across the Imperium (in broad strokes) are organized and operate, and so can write legal forms like motions and briefs, file criminal complaints or lawsuits, etc. 
  • Imperial Law is the kind most player characters are likely to learn, as it is the "law between the stars" and covers the most territory. It concerns itself mainly with interstellar trade and admiralty law, along with the few crimes which the Imperium will not countenance -- such as slavery, genocide trafficking in Ancient artifacts, etc. Other important concepts covered here are salvage, piracy, and extradition. 
  • Military Law is law as it applies to members of the armed services -- or to civilians during times of martial law. This is one of those "You don't need it often, but when you need it, you REALLY need it" skills -- such as when you've been caught looting an Ancient base in an interdicted zone and are facing summary execution. Given that the Navy enforces Imperial Law, any advocate without Military Law specialization facing a military tribunal may use one-half their rating in the Imperial Law specialty instead of the default 0. 
  • Noble Law is concerned mainly with rules of inheritance, fealty, and domain -- and domain can be very large indeed, as Archdukes have domain over 4 adjacent sectors of space. Anyone taking this specialty needs a Social Status of 9 or better to be effective, and several ranks of Diplomat just to be safe. 
  • International Law is a specialized merging of Imperial and Noble Law that deals with treaties between the Imperium and other polities such as the Zhodani Consulate and the Solomani Confederation. This is the kind of thing that diplomats do, and as such this skill is used to stop wars -- or start them. Knowledge of the polity's native language is necessary, as is Diplomat. Persuade and Deception are also useful. 
Everything above this line applies throughout Imperial Space and requires taking a Bar Exam (Advocate roll 8+) at any Class A or B starport. 

Everything below this line applies only to individual systems, and the advocate must be certified or otherwise be granted court privilges before being allowed to work there. 
  • Criminal Law.  We've all seen Law & Order. Streetwise is a good skill to have for this.
  • Civil Law. We've all seen The Practice, too. 
  • Domestic Law. Ditto Divorce Court.
  • Business Law. This is really dreary stuff involving trademark, copyright, intellectual property, etc. Court cases involving Imperial Megacorporations which take place outside of a single system are handled under Imperial Law, above. 

Next week I'll look at medical specialties. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Gunday Palette's Product Reviews: Tandemkross Sub-2000 Accessories

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to Bryan Haaker, the Business Development Manager of a company called Tandemkross. TK makes all sorts of aftermarket accessories for firearms, and when I found out that some of those accessories were for the Kel-Tec Sub-2000, I knew I had to review them.

One email and phone call later (it turns out Mr. Haaker is a fellow gamer, and also subscribes to my "more accessories make a toy more fun" philosophy, so I can tell we're going to be good friends), I had many of their products headed my way for test & evaluation.

(I realize this will come as a shock to folks, but I actually didn't get every single S2K accessory that Tandemkross makes. This is because I have the Red Lion Precision front sight on my subbie, which renders TK's  upgrades for the stock front sight obsolete.)

Today I'm going to review three quick and easy upgrades you can make to your Sub-2000 to improve its aesthetic and performance.

Screw Upgrade Kit ($9.99)
These are 24 hex-button screws that replace the rather crappy Phillips screws which come on the stock S2K. Whereas the old screws had a tendency to deform under use and then snag clothing, scratch skin, and generally be a pain, these screws are pleasantly rounded and give my carbine a much more professional appearance.

There's not much to say about them other than "They install easily. They work." After all, they're screws. But they're very nice screws, and 24 of them not only replace the ones on the receiver, but also in the handguard, so if you have replaced the stock handguard with a rail system like I did, you'll end up with twice as many screws as you need. If that happens, I suppose you can put them in your tool box as spares, or perhaps give them to a friend with a Sub-2000.

This kit also comes with a properly-sized wrench and directions that not only have color photographs but are also clearly written! My inner English Major is delighted by this.

"Gator-Hide" Bolt Tube Sleeve ($14.99)
This is quite similar to the Bolt Tube Cover that Tacticool Products makes, and so comparisons are inevitable:
  • Feel: The TK sleeve has a pleasant textured surface and is made from a "sticky"-feeling rubber, while the TCP version is made from a smooth, plain rubber.
  • Installation: The "stickiness" mentioned above means that the TK version grips the metal and does not slide easily down the bolt tube, even with ample lubrication. The TCP version, however, slides on and off easily. 
  • Instructions:  TK continues its trend of delightfully complete directions with color photographs, which are really quite welcome when it comes to removing the buttstock. TCP's version also has detailed instructions, although I recall (it's been several years since I bought it) their photographs were in black and white. 
  • Fit: The TCP version is flush with both ends of the tube. The TK version, however, is 0.1" shorter, which leaves a notable gap. This doesn't affect performance but may be an aesthetic concern. The TK version does have a cut-out for the operating handle when it is locked back; the TCP version does not. 
  • Performance:  Both are roughly the same thickness (the TK version is 0.005" thinner, according to my calipers). I feel no difference between the two; they both do a good job padding and insulating the bolt tube. 
  • Price: The Tandemkross version is $14.99 and $5.49 shipping; the Tacticool Products version is $13.50 with free shipping. 
  • Conclusion:  While both are fine products, I have to give Tacticool Products the edge here; their version is the better buy. Sorry, Bryan. 

I absolutely adore this. Readers of my blog will know that I experimented with different ways to attach a single-point sleeve to my Sub-2000, starting with a sling loop that I modified to fit the stock, and then replacing that with a GG&G Sling Thing. While both of these solutions worked, neither of them worked especially well since the sling was attached to the rear of the carbine instead of the midpoint. 

The TK Single-Point Sling Mount solves all of my problems at once. It fits over the bolt tube collar (install it at the same time you're installing a tube sleeve for maximum convenience) easily and secures with one screw. Best of all, it's ambidextrous, with attachment points on either side. 

This is exactly what I wanted in a sling mount, and I got it.

Detailed color instructions come with this product as well. 


My Recommendations
You should definitely get the screw upgrade kit and the sling mount, but hold off on the bolt tube cover until it is more competitive with the Tacticool Products version.
Screw Upgrade Kit:  Grade A.  Does exactly what it says it does, and does it well.
Bolt-Tube Sleeve: Grade B. If it were the only sleeve on the market I would mark it higher. There's nothing truly wrong with it; it's just that the TCP version is easier to install and is less expensive.
Sling Mount: A+.  If you want a tactical sling for your Sub-2000, this is the one to get, bar none. 
Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I received these products for free and did not receive payment in exchange for a good review. Go away. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #53

It's the first GunBlog VarietyCast of our second year!
  • Adam and Sean do their usual awesome job, including some delicate discussion of the Planned Parenthood whistleblower. That means the last segment is not for young ears. Don't worry, they warn you when they get to that segment.
  • Erin Palette starts off her second year as a podcaster by doing a throwback to her first episode. That one was water purification; this time it's water storage.
  • Nicki Kenyon explains why Hillary's mishandling (or worse) of classified data should disqualify her from any future office of trust.
  • This week's Special Guest William Aprill (Yes, THAT William Aprill) helps us understand how we can't pretend that criminals think the same way we do. 
  • Barron B finds another terrible computer security fail. Those Quadcopter Drones? Yeah, totally unsecure.
  • And Weer'd, who was actually on vacation this week, still manages to appear so you get another patented Weer'd Audio Fisk. In it, Weer'd mocks the new video from the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Illegal Mayors for Everytown, a wholly owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg, Inc.
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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

SHTFriday: Apocabox Unboxing #7

Here's the video.

I'm not sure this thing works..

So I set up an OKCupid profile.

Not that I'm looking or anything, but it'd be nice to know if there's someone out there that might share my interests. In my recommended matches one day, shortly after receiving a notification that somebody likes me, I log in to see this:
"cis-white-Queer hard femme-PAN SEXUAL-addict/alcoholic, CLEAN since 4/11/07- learning to play ukelele kinda?-community mental health social worker-VERY LOUD FEMINIST-devoted loner- serious book lover-dumpster diver-anti war, anti capatalist SMASH THE PATRIARCHYvery very way FAR LEFT OF LIBERAL-Ethnically Jewish-sorta spiritually all over-mountain biker-into home remedies/TEA from scratch/DIY witchy stuff, nature lover-ARTIST-prison abolishionist-poet wanna be-goth/punk since before you could buy it at a store- Mentally ill (stable kinda lol)-SEWING cool stuff is a hobby-lover of all stuffed animals-horrid speller- non smartphone owner...... just out of a five yr looking to date/get to know unusual and amazing ppl......."
OKC, I'm not sure you know what I'm looking for in a person... or who I am at all.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Traveller Thursday: the Moot Room

I'm trying to make something productive out this week, so here's a little something that was mentioned in one of my adventures but was never actually used. Think of it as a "DVD extra" from an RPG session.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Across the Third Imperium, in every starport of Class C or better (and in half of all Class D 'ports) there exists a place called the Moot Room. This room is neither part of the native world, nor is it part of the Imperium; it is a useful legal fiction that creates a completely neutral zone.

Interestingly enough, it isn't named after the Imperial Moot, although that is the common assumption. Instead, it is named because while inside the room, all laws, regulations and treaties are considered null; hence, everything is up for debate (the proper definition of moot) and nothing, not even laws, have any meaning (the improper definition).

To have a Moot Room, a starport needs the following:
  1. A room or a building straddling the Extrality Line. It typically ranges in size from that of a small shed, only capable of holding a few people (Class D) to a large, comfortable, and fully-stocked conference room that would not be out of place within an embassy (Class A). 
  2. A minimum of two entrances, one on either side of the line. Particularly nice Rooms will have a third entrance that leads to a private airlock, berth or landing pad; if so, the docking facilities are also considered Moot. 
  3. NO communication devices within the room, and as much privacy-granting shielding as the tech level will support. The higher the class of starport, the better the privacy. 
  4. Highly disciplined Starport Authority security personnel,  trained in law and ethics. These are stationed outside both doors, unless the participants request their presence inside. While these SPA personnel are not proper lawyers, they do serve as paralegals, official witnesses, notaries, and the like. 
The purpose of the Moot Room is to give individuals a place to discuss anything without fear of legal repercussion. It is a room of absolute freedom of expression, where nothing is taboo and everything is permitted. Yes, even murder; but if you can murder someone in that room, they can murder you as well, so parties meeting in the Moot Room usually request a weapons scans by the SPA before entering.*

The original purpose of the Moot Room was to allow people who might be considered criminals on a world -- pirates, refugees, political dissidents -- to interact with agents from that world without putting themselves in jeopardy of arrest or extradition. Similarly, it allows agents of a world to interact with enemies of the state without making themselves liable for dereliction of duty.**

Since then, the Moot Room has been used for a variety of things, many of them shady. If a corporate spy wishes to sell trade secrets without being arrested by undercover agents, he uses that room; but so too does a corporate whistleblower who wishes to speak to the press without worrying about a lawsuit from his company for breach of contract. Nobles have made treaties, planned assassinations, and yes, even plotted treason in Moot Rooms; and if the SPA overhears them, they are legally required not to report it and not act upon it.

There are very, very few extenuating circumstances in which the SPA may legally intervene, and these ethical questions have been puzzled over for centuries like Rabbis dissecting the Talmud. Broadly speaking (because there are always exceptions), these circumstances are:
  1. If someone has been brought into the room against their will.
  2. If there is a clear and immediate threat to the starport and/or the planet (an invasion does not count, but the potential release of a bioweapon does).
  3. If a party who entered via one door exits another door without conscious consent. 
If these conditions are not met, then whatever happens behind those doors is covered under the political version of the Seal of Confession.***

This has led to some rather interesting uses of the room for matters of honor. Several impromptu duels have been held inside a Moot Room, and in at least one case, a bit of expeditious justice involving a slaver being tricked inside only to be beaten to death by a family member of the enslaved.

On the whole, it helps more than it hurts. It facilitates communication and trade, which is the backbone of the Imperium. In addition, the starport makes a tidy profit from running a Moot Room; rates start as low as 50 Cr/hour for a shed and up to 1000 Cr/hour for the truly fancy accommodations
Sidebar: Smuggling

Of course someone is going to try to use the Moot Room's "absolute freedom" to smuggle something in past customs. That's to be expected. And yes, while inside the room the SPA can't do anything about it.

However, once the intrepid smuggler exits the room, he crosses the XT line. That means he can be searched for contraband outside of the protection of the Moot Room, and be prosecuted for smuggling if such is found.

This also makes Moot Rooms handy ways for people to surrender illegal items (like Ancient artifacts or military-grade weapons) without fear of arrest. Simply rent the room, carry your item inside, and leave it behind for either the SPA or whomever you met with to deal with. You're allowed to have it inside the room, and if you don't have it when you leave... why then, you're free to go, citizen. 

Legal Footnotes

*  The SPA will happily scan anyone going into the room for weapons, or recording devices, or whatever else the parties demand. They are facilitators and gatekeepers for the Moot Room, and don't care what anyone takes in so long as both parties agree -- but see Smuggling, above, for what people are allowed to take out.

** Some restrictive governments won't allow their citizens to use the Moot Room, of course, and so they place legal (or literal) barricades to entry, but as long as that occurs on the home planet's side of the XT line, the SPA doesn't care.

*** Which is the big reason why SPA scans for recording devices when asked; there are volumes of legal treatises involving "I recorded this guy without his consent, and he confessed to an Imperial Crime within the Moot Room, and then I made it public to ruin his image/ blackmail him/ get the authorities after him."  The short version is that most Moot Rooms have distinctive visual cues and the better ones are able to embed "This is the [System Name] Starport Moot Room" into the background hiss of the sound suppression system and likely microdotted into the walls, meaning that it's very easy to determine if the conversation is admissible in court. If it's not admissible, then the party responsible for releasing the recording can be prosecuted under Imperial Law for violating the privacy of the room.

How is that possible?  Again, anything inside the Moot Room is legal, but you need to leave sometime. And when you do, you enter either Imperial Space or the local system -- both of which are beholden to Imperial Law. If you break the seal of the Moot Room without exceptionally good reason, you're in trouble.

If you are getting the impression that the Imperium really values privacy, you are correct. It's almost as if it's based upon secrets and lies...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Busy Me

This is shaping up to be a crazy week.

Yesterday I discovered I didn't have an article for Blue Collar Prepping, and so I ended up issuing a Skill Challenge (read the article for more details if you haven't already), the writing of which took more time than expected. Between that and my usual duties of the day, I was unable to write my scheduled Monday Gunday post. My apologies.

It looks like I might be missing today's Tuesday Traveller as well; I received a last-minute "Hey, I'm in Orlando, want to grab lunch?" from a Facebook friend (who I suspect of being Bizarro Salem, by the by) and I don't want to pass up that opportunity. I'm not sure what time I'll be back or what kind of dent it will put in my schedule.

So in conclusion, everything is fine; life has just gotten in the way of blogging. Hopefully I'll be back on track soon.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #52

http://tinyurl.com/nmwoenx
Adam and Sean  make it to Episode 52! That's one full year of The GunBlog VarietyCast!
  • Erin Palette gives us some very good advice about depression.
  • Nicki Kenyon thinks The Donald would be The Disaster for US foreign policy.
  • This week's Special Guest is Sean's father, Eugene Sorrentino. He tells us why you should never shoot all your ammo at the range.
  • Barron B tells us all about why Adobe Flash sucks.
  • And Weer'd goes back to that never ending well of liberal foolishness, MSNBC, and audio fisks someone we've never even heard of before.
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.
A special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout to get 10% off anything you buy.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Salem Watches A Porn

Hey wait that title could be taken out of context.. 

While you may see me, from time to time, gush over the Marvel Cinematic Universe (deservedly so in my eyes, given the love and respect the source material is treated with), it is undeniable that I love Batman as much as I love any modern representation of Iron Man or Thor; probably moreso, given my disinterest in much of the rest of the DC Universe.

My first memories of Batman represented in visual media would probably be seeing glimpses of him and Robin on Scooby-Doo reruns. I'd cringingly watch a few minutes, then lose interest, as I hated Scooby-Doo. I remember later on seeing reruns of the 1966 Batman television series. I'd watch this not because it was entertaining, but as sort of an oddity. I wasn't alive in the 60s, so I can't attest to the veracity of the Swinging Sixties nostalgia, but if this show was representative of it, I see where that reputation comes from.

Fortunately, the 1990 Keaton/Burton film came along, shortly followed by its sequel and the near-flawless Batman: The Animated Series, spinning off into The New Adventures of Batman & Robin, Justice League, Batman Beyond, and a number of other similarly excellent shows and films, which still appeal to me years later, despite my general disinterest in most animated features.

Our lovely editor Erin pointed me towards an... edited version of Batman XXX: A Porn Parody (which I've helpfully linked below – all the naughty bits have been edited out, reducing it to just shy of a mere 25 minutes, the length of an average episode). I've never actually sat down and watched one of these porn parodies, but I've paid attention to the news on them. Because of the fantastic costuming efforts. Really. No, guys, stop giggling I promise that's why. These porn parodies have more faithful translations of their costumes than the actual, official movies. Check out their Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman!

Great cosplay, but unofficial! 
So, how does it measure up?
Eerily well, actually. Everyone from Batman and Robin to the extras in group scenes (not that kind of group scene!) are wearing period-appropriate outfits. Lines are delivered in the same manner as low-budget 60s Hollywood. The actors filling in for Adam West and Burt Ward in particular absolutely nail (stop it!) the mannerisms brought to the orginal roles. Ceasar Romero's Joker is re-created right down to the grease-paint covered mustache, and Frank Gorshin's manic Riddler even has that uncomfortable bulge in his tights (which makes a lot more sense in the context of a porn). Tori Black as Catwoman is similarly fantastic, as she captures the sultry air that Julie Newmar brought to the role, perhaps even improving on it a little. Even the Batusi and the 'climbing' sideways across the set of a building lying on its side are there. BIFF and POW make appearances in the final battle sequence, and Batman even corrects Robin's grammar while tied up.

Seriously! This is a porn parody!

It's not without flaws, though. As anyone knows, my waifu Batgirl makes an appearance, but she's being played by Lexi Belle, as a blonde. Even though Yvonne Craig's Batgirl is probably dead last on my list of Batgirls (yes, I have a list), she (like Lexi) starts out with a brunette beehive, but instead of putting on a red wig for the costume, she's using Lexi's natural blonde locks. And as everyone knows, Barbara Gordon is not a blonde (looking at you, Alicia Silverstone... hang on, she's dead last on my list).


Can I make it any clearer? 

But probably the most frustrating thing is that Lexi is possibly the person most qualified to play Harley Quinn in the entire world. She's cute, perky, and screams mentally unbalanced. It's a real shame, as Axel Braun Productions made a Batman vs Supermanparody that features Harley, but didn't use her.

There's also a missed opportunity here, as there's a character I clearly don't remember from the original series: Bruce Wayne's fiance Lisa, who seems to exist merely to fill a hole (come on now, quit giggling) in the script. I would have loved to see them innovate a little, bringing in a ginger actress to play Batgirl and having Lexi play a Batman 66-inspired Harley Quinn.

All in all, it's a faithful and surprisingly respectful translation of the 1966 Batman series with a metric buttload (okay, I'll own that one) of sex scenes worked into it. I can't attest to the actual sex scenes (I haven't seen them yet. I haven't. Really, I haven't. Stop looking at me like that!), but I'd recommend watching the edited version at least for a laugh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Two More Subsidized Liner Variants

Remember when I promised I'd do more of these?

It's that time again.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
Unlike last time, which compared the profitability of commercial ventures, these two variants are an example of lateral thinking when it comes to the question of "What else can you do with a 600 dton, jump-3 ship?"
Art by the amazing Ian Stead.
(link opens Google document)
As I may have mentioned before, a Broadsword-class Merc Cruiser can only transport a platoon or so of combat effective personnel. While this make it great for high-value SEAL-equivalent insertion and extraction, it's not at all suited (or cost-effective) for transporting a company of knuckle-draggers.

However, a Subsidized Liner with J-3 range is just perfect for that sort of thing.

First you strip out all of the frippery and most of the nice appointments. Keep the staterooms; the captain, the troop CO and the chief engineer get their own room; everyone else gets to double up. After the ship's crew has been taken care of, you can fit between 60 and 66 troops inside (it depends on whether or not the gunners are ship's crew or from the merc unit; if you turn the mercs into gunners you get more room for nice things like a ship's surgeon [who gets his own room] and a medical suite).

I mentioned gunners? Well, a lot of merc insertions are likely to be hot. Let's use those 6 hardpoints for their intended purpose. A mix of lasers and particle beams gives the ship acceptable punch from short to long range (moreso if you make use of the weapons upgrade system from High Guard), with pulse lasers and sandcasters for defense. Speaking of defense, let's add some armor too: 4 points of Crystaliron is about all that will fit, although and expensive upgrade to BSD will increase that 6. And of course, this has my signature "reflec and rad shielding only cost money, not tons" add-on.

Since the ship already has a power plant rated for jump-3, it doesn't take much room or money to replace the 1G engines with 3G. This gives the ship speed for running, assaulting, and evading.

In addition to the usual Ship's Boat (which ought be turned into some kind of gunship), there's room for four air/rafts (good as utility vehicles or technicals) and four 10-dton tanks or APCs or whatever you want to bring the bang.

Cargo space is quite limited, though, and likely restricted to ammunition, spare parts, food and medical supplies. 


Now that I've made a Liner for war, let's see one made for peace. 


Hospital Liner (Mercy Ship)
This pairs well with the Refugee Liner I mentioned in my previous post. But while that ship is designed to evacuate the healthy, this ship is designed to provide critical care to the wounded and dying.

Most of the space has been converted to a medical ward, able to treat up to multiple casualties at once. The stabilized are offloaded to the refugee transport, and the ones who are likely to die regardless are put into emergency low berths with the hope that they can be revived and saved at a later time (usually at a class A starport with a state of the art trauma unit). The in-betweens can use their gurneys as beds for the week in jumpspace if necessary.

Out of 15 staterooms, only 5 are used by the crew, which allows carriage of up to 20 medical personnel to a disaster site. A full complement of autodocs -- one per surgical bay -- act as nurses for patients, meaning that all carried medical personnel can be specialized doctors (brain surgeons, cyberneticists, psychiatrists, etc).

There are three versions of this variant: Far, Fast, and System. The Far version retains J-1 capability and is most efficient as a fleet adjunct or as a response craft to a disaster in other systems. The Fast version drops to J-1 in exchange for 6G thrust; this gives increased utility within the system (as a response craft to passenger ships in distress) and additional treatment capacity, while still retaining the ability to jump should a disaster occur in a nearby system, or if it would take too long to reach via maneuver drive. The System version strips out all jump drives and can treat even more patients.

In instances where non-injured must be taken aboard (such as when a passenger ship is in distress), they are typically routed to the Passenger Lounge, where they are looked after by a Steward (or whoever has the lowest Medical skill).

The Mercy Ship has only token defenses (one triple sandcaster and a reflec coating), because 1) it can't spare the room for more and 2) any such ship venturing into a hot zone will have an armed escort --preferably a ship in the 1,000 dton and up range, bristling with weapons and possessing zero tolerance for anything that would try to capture a hospital.
Art by Ian Stead


Monday, August 10, 2015

MGPPR: Team Never Quit Training Ammo

(Monday Gunday Palette's Product Reviews)

Back in May, I had the privilege of attending a dinner hosted by Lucky Gunner that featured SEAL Marcus Luttrell and spotlighted a new ammunition brand he had created. This brand, Team Never Quit, gave away 50-round boxes of 9mm or .45 ACP ammo to everyone who attended the dinner.

I scored three boxes* of TNQ 100 grain frangible semi-wadcutter rounds, and after promising a great review of them to the Lucky Gunner rep, I promptly put them in my range bag and forgot all about them. Oops.

Which is why I'm reviewing them now. Better late than pregnant, I always say!

Specifications
For the number crunchers, here's the spec sheet on this particular ammo load.

Recoil
I usually shoot 115 grain round nose, and I could definitely detect the difference between it and the recoil of 100 grain TNQ rounds. Since I'm not an expert shooter I likely can't use the proper terminology to describe the difference, so I'll explain it like a writer: while muzzle rise was about the same as traditional rounds, the backwards kick into my hand was reduced. Usually my hand is sore after 100 rounds of 115gr RN and is ready for a break, but I shot 150 rounds of the TNQ ammo and still felt great. If I'd had more boxes, I would have happily shot those as well.

Performance
Out of 150 rounds, I had only one failure to fire. I'm not sure if the primer was a dud or if it was something else entirely; all I know is that my Glock 26 went "click" instead of "bang", so I worked the slide and went back to shooting without issue.

All of the rounds -- even my single dud -- loaded and fed properly, and ejected smoothly.

Accuracy
I feel a bit odd talking about bullet accuracy when my limited shooting ability is the greatest hindrance to that, but I promised Lucky Gunner a great review in exchange for those extra boxes, so here is some photographic evidence.

The top target was shot with a box of 50 at a distance of 25 feet, using the LaserMax Guide Rod Laser in my Glock 26 to help with aim. You'll notice I don't have the best grouping (although that big hole at 11 o'clock is nice), but they're all good hits and nothing was outside the 8 ring.

The center target was a second box of 50, shot at the same distance and conditions but without the laser. Performance was similar, only my groupings weren't as tight and I had a few outside the ring (all of them are solid hits, though). There's a bit of a hole at 11 o'clock but it's not as good as above.

The target at low right was shot at 50 feet, using the laser. You'll notice I'm even more scattered, with a few wingers above, below, and to the left.  Still, they're all on paper.

Conclusion: These bullets are plenty accurate, but the shooter needs more practice.

Cleanup
My pistol was remarkably clean after shooting 150 rounds through it. I've shot some ammo (Federal, I'm looking at you) which turned my pistol absolutely filthy after just 50 rounds. This was the opposite -- after shooting three boxes I just needed to boresnake the barrel a bit and give the boltface a good once-over with a nylon brush.

Price
Here's the sticker: these bullets are $27.00 for a box of 50. That's nearly three times the price of a 50-count box of Tula Ammo or Brown Bear, or just a bit over twice what a box of American Eagle runs.

Admittedly, some of the ouch of that price is mitigated by the ease of cleanup and the knowledge that a percentage of each box goes to the Lone Survivor Foundation, but as someone who is notoriously stingy and yet still loves to shoot, I don't love this ammo enough that I think it's worth paying that price for it.

Recommendation
These are very nice bullets and I enjoyed shooting them. If you buy them, you will enjoy them very much (especially the lack of cleanup afterwards). However, their cost prices me out of their market.

In short, this is Premium target ammo. You will get what you pay for.


* How?  Without going into great detail, here are the steps:
  1. Camp the ammo boxes to make sure that everyone who wants a box has gotten one. 
  2. Set a pick to discourage people from grabbing more than one as a target of opportunity. 
  3. Casually mention to the event organizer that the servers really want to clear the swag table, and that the organizers don't want to take heavy ammunition back home with them anyway. You, however, are perfectly happy to take home that ammo, and can write a nice review with a larger sample size...

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this product for free. I was not paid or otherwise compensated in return for giving it a good review. In fact, these boxes were handed out for free to anyone who attended the dinner. Of course, I scored more boxes because I promised a review, but it's not like 9mm bullets are valuable enough to be a bribe. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #51

http://tinyurl.com/nmwoenx
You're going to love this episode. The new field recorder goes out into the great outdoors!
  • Adam and Sean host another fine episode of The GunBlog VarietyCast. They talk about their dogs, a book you should read, a "small plane" that caught on fire in Nashville, the Tennessee Governor's new plan to allow TN National Guardsman carry privately owned weapons, and the things that grind our gears.
  • Erin Palette tells us why cars and floods don't mix, and what to do when they get too close to each other.
  • Nicki Kenyon discusses "Existential Threats." What are they and why do we care?
  • Sean attends the Silencerco Quiet Riot Tour's North Carolina stop. Joining him is John Richardson of the Polite Society Podcast. John and Sean shoot suppressed pistols, rifles, and even shotguns. And they recorded themselves doing it, so you can hear what they really sound like!
  • Barron B reminds us that every security system has a weak point. And most often, that weak point is the people.
  • And Weer'd gives us a twofer. He does one of his patented Weer'd Audio Fisks. His targets? Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton.

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.
A special thanks to Silencerco for hosting us at their Quiet Riot Tour, and also to our sponsor, the Law of Self Defense. Remember to use discount code "Variety" for 10% off at checkout.

Because I don't like leaving my best material on Facebook...

Enjoy this bon mot:
Me: Dating sucks. Meeting people sucks. Trying to "sell" myself sucks. Almost makes me wish for an arranged marriage.

Katrina: How many chickens do you have to offer me?

Me: Just this one average-size rooster.

Friday, August 7, 2015

SHTFriday: Useful Car Additions

So, you have jumper cables and a spare tire and a jack and a lug wrench in your car. You're all set, right?

Head on over to Blue Collar Prepping to look at some items you may have forgotten about, and could be a real game-changer for you in an emergency.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Salt Mines of Valhalla

I lost my old picture again
It's Thorsday, and you know what that means!

I've written previously about the female Thor situation, in less than complimentary terms. I've outlined valid reasons for not liking this change that extend much further than certain sources who'd have you believe those complaints are simply 'hur durr woman bad bring back manly man.' Today, I'd bring you an example of just how effective it is to make a change like that, and what happens when you release one, just one, issue that doesn't fall into line with what the people who laud you for your poor decision.

Behold, The Mary Sue (archived for your protection): Crusaders of truly the highest calibre, and an honourable website to boot. They obviously genuinely care about the stories and not the naughty bits of the characters in the story.
Tying in with the Secret Wars event, series writer Jason Aaron returns with Thor #1 – a story meant to continue the threads of new!Thor’s heroic journey, but one that fails to be remotely as empowering as her solo series.
Because obviously, stories are only meant to empower characters, not to test them, not to challenge them, or not to *gasp* tell stories about them? 
So let’s just address the most pressing concern of that recap: Jason Aaron decided to follow up the empowering story of Jane Foster becoming Thor and finding her place in both Asgardian and human society with a story that features her being murdered – repeatedly.
No, I think you missed something, TMS. The Jane Foster that because Thor isn't in this story. It doesn't feature her being murdered. You said not a paragraph earlier that it was multiple reality versions of her. 
At no point in this issue do we learn anything about any of these women as characters, about their lived experiences or their perspectives on these brutal crimes. Our empathy is never encouraged by the narrative to align with them.
I remember in Edge of Spider-Verse where all the Spidermen of multiple realities were being brutally slaughtered -- on-panel, mind you -- by a multiversal fox-hunting party of ancient immortals. I'm so glad we got to learn about the hopes, the dreams, the very essence of those Spider-men. No? Oh, and all the Spider-women: Mayday Parker, Ultimate's Jessica Drew, Gwen Stacy, Silk, and (inexplicably, as she's not even a proper Spiderverse character) 616 Spider-woman all suffered losses on their side of the gender divide too, right? No? Oh..
Instead, the focus surrounds the Ultimate-Thor, Thorlief (a coconut for anyone who can crack the naming conventions going on here), and his determination to solve this crime for pretty self-involved/white knight reasoning.
I've been told only misogynists use the term white-knight. You're not a misogynist, TMS, are you?
At this stage of cultural saturation they’re just normalized, and so audiences have grown numbs to the shock of gratuitous female mutilation and excessive male violence dressed up as redemptive justice.
Yeah, it's a good thing men are never blown up, shot, stabbed, mutilated, or otherwise brutally murdered in comics.
Aaron’s use of this particular trope in such an unimaginative and predictable fashion is precisely what makes it so damaging: stripping Jane Foster of her legacy as a brave and meaningful character
...who is letting cancer kill her because she thinks Asgardian science is too magicky.
Imagine if it was Jane Foster having to investigate a series of her own murders? Not only would that reassert her agency, but it would also offer opportunities for a more interesting detective-victim connection because, hey, they’re all the same person.
That actually would be a better story. Too bad she's off doing something *awesome* like fighting in the Secret War thingie that's going on. We could have had her in a b-list miniseries instead of Ultimate Thor, who no one's cared about since like 2004.
There were other ways to tell this story without taking feminism out into the woods and cracking it over the head with a shovel.
Readers, I was torn between "[EXISTENTIAL SIGH]" and "Actually, it's about ethics in shovel-wielding" here, so have both.
Not only does [Storm] suffer verbal abuse from an older Thor (‘drunken and grizzled detective who doesn’t play by the rules!’) who argues she should be facially branded to remind everyone she’s a mutant, but also has to put up with Thorlief hitting on her while at work?
Hey, at least he's not selling her to rub his hammer because it'll grow like the Thor of myth and legend would. Progress!
She’s also dressed in a shoe-string swimming costume outfit with a headdress that looks like a Thanksgiving turkey at Coachella, it’s all very bad.
Which managed to a) still cover more than her most popular recent outfit and b) look like an homage to old-school Jack Kirby Thor comics. Also, you dropped this - she's wearing practically the same headgear as everyone else.
I think she looks kind of awesome. Also, really no love for Mjolnir-wielding Storm? Really? 
Just imagine discovering and loving an empowering, resilient determined hero like Jane Foster as Thor, only to then see her be brutally murdered and replaced with (for all intents and purposes to new readers) the ‘original’ Thor again. While the Jane Foster that readers have followed in Thor is alive in Secret Wars (following the events of the main series), how on earth are people that only want to read her adventures supposed to know that?
She hasn't been replaced. This isn't even the same book. She's off fighting in the Secret Wars (which is a *main* titles, and this is a mini-series. And they could probably find out by looking at the cover. Which, given that comic shops usually sort titles by publisher and title name alphabetically, would probably be at most 2 slots over on the shelf.
We’ve got our safe spaces, Marvel; but why is the rest of your world still so dangerous?
SAFE SPACES FOR EVERYBODY!!

But seriously, though. This is an even clearer example of why you never apologize than when I discussed Shut Up Wesley Wheaton. You can create the most perfect example of something that they'll rally behind, but make one single issue that isn't in lockstep and you'll be dragged under like a pack of hungry wolves are at your heels. Make something, write something, film something, code something... but stop trying to please people that will turn on you the moment they smell blood. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WNW: Nekkid & Skeered

As readers of my prepping blog already know, I have a thing for watching survival shows. Naked and Afraid is one of my guilty pleasures.

With that in mind, I present to you this short episode of Naked and Afraid starring James Franco and Seth Rogen.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Facilities of the IISS

In a nice follow-up to my Random Thoughts about the IISS post, I present to you a lovely article written by Tom Chlebus for the Traveller RPG Facebook Group and prettied up by me.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises

IISS Facilities
The term "scout base" usually refers to one of three kinds of facility: an Xboat station, a way station, and a "proper" scout base. When I refer to something that applies to all three, I will use the term "IISS facility" or "IISS base." I leave it to you to decide what goes in a highport and what goes dirtside.

The first thing to keep in mind is that in most cases, an IISS facility is not a separate entity. Whether or not there is one is directly tied to the system's class of starport, and if there is a facility it is physically part of the starport it is associated with. The separation between the facility and the starport proper is usually a fence marked "keep out" but it can range from a line painted on the pavement to a ditch and parapet. Berths for Scout Service ships are always separate from and in addition to berths at the starport.
Repair Facilities: The repair and shipyard services available at an IISS base are determined by the starport.

Transient Housing: According to GURPS Traveller Starports, transient accommodations are common in Class A and B ports, so at Class D and most Class C the IISS facility will provide its own places for Scouts to bed down. If there is a Naval base present, Scouts might be assigned to Naval transient housing.

Fuel: IISS facilities always provide refined fuel to Scout ships.

Scout Base
The representative IISS facility is the scout base. A scout base almost always has an orbital component, however minimal it may be. Sometimes an arriving scout ship has to offload its crew quickly, and the orbital component provides a place for it. I imagine this would include a hospital with a surgery and 20 beds. The orbital component might consist of a Purcell-class Xboat tender with its 600 dton bay converted for the purpose. Most Class A and B ports have substantial enough highports not to need a separate Scout Service element.

There will be at least one berth for a 1,000 dton ship, 3 to 5 berths for 500 dton ships, and about a dozen for 100 dton ships.


Xboat Station
These perform routine maintenance on express boats before sending them on their way; consequently they are bare-bones facilities. An Xboat station will have one or two 1,000 dton berths, two 500 dton berths, and five 100 dton berths. 


Way Station
A way station placed in the Xboat network is there to service the Xboats. Outside the Xboat network, a way station maintains and repairs an exploration or survey fleet. However, neither function is exclusive to the other. In order to keep Xboats as close to zero failure as possible, Way stations perform a level of maintenance that would be considered unreasonable in other services. All way stations therefore have repair facilities capable of performing overhauls, regardless of the class of port it is associated with. 

Most (or all) of a way station is in an extensive orbital element. Berths typically are four 1,000 dton, fifty 500 dton, and one hundred fifty 100 dton. If the way station serves both Xboats and an exploration/survey fleet, it may have considerably more berths.


Special thanks to Tom Chlebus  for allowing me to reprint his article. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday Gunday: A Troubling Philosophy

I've been working on this post for a while, so my apologies for being late. I wanted to get it right, rather than be on time.

There was a webcomic I used to read. (No links = no drama). I don't read it any more, because the creator said something which didn't sit right with me, and rather than get annoyed as politics crept into a once-fun comic I just decided to stop reading it altogether.

That statement stuck with me, though, and continues to bug me, and so I figure I need to have a nice rant about it in order to purge it from my head.

Here's what was said:
I'm not a big fan of personal firearm use.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't have an issue with hunting. A personal handgun isn't a hunting weapon. And I don't even think guns should be banned or even really restricted among competent, trained adults. If you feel the need to own a gun and you know what you're doing with it, then I think you should certainly be allowed to have it... but, to me, ownership of a handgun tells me that you've more or less given up on civilization.

You see, while handguns can, in theory, be used for other purposes, they're really designed and intended to shoot other human beings - and, while you certainly can shoot to wound, any responsible firearm user will tell you that you never draw on anything you wouldn't mind seeing dead.

Presuming that you intend to use your firearm legally and ethically, there's really only one situation in which you can whip it out - when deadly force is threatened against you or your loved ones, and you need to respond appropriately, to kill or threaten to kill before you or your loved ones can be killed. When I see someone who owns a personal firearm, the unspoken implication I hear is "I fully expect that dangerous criminals will pose a danger to myself and my loved ones, and I do not believe that local law enforcement is sufficient to keep these threats at bay - the only way I can ensure my safety is to be prepared at all times to end the life of one or more of my fellow human beings".

I do not own a gun for the same reason I do not filter my own drinking water or generate my own electricity - I live in a city, where, for a reasonable price, security, like water or electricity, is provided by trained professionals.
Normally I'd just jump right in and start making my thesis points, because I wouldn't want to dilute or divert my argument by listing things I didn't intend to address. However, I've been at this game long enough to know that if I don't mention them someone is going to say "But what about X?"  and then I end up talking about the things I didn't think were worth talking about in the first place.

Therefore, here are the things that my post is not about:
  1. Whether or not the author is entitled to his opinion. I mean, duh. Of course he's entitled. That also means he doesn't need to defend his opinion, either. His comic, his rules. 
  2. Whether or not it was the author's actual opinion. It was below the comic and next to the author's icon, and not spoken by a webcomic character. 
  3. The right to keep and bear arms; America, the Constitution, history, etc.  The author is from Canada, if I recall. 
  4. Paragraphs 1 and 3. I have no problem with those. 
  5. The whole "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away." While this is true, I have larger concepts to deal with in this post. 
So what's this article about, then?
Two statements which bug me. Not so much simply because I disagree with them, but why I disagree with them.

1)  "To me, ownership of a handgun tells me that you've more or less given up on civilization."

There are two ways to parse this, and both of them have troubling implications. The first is the assertion that anyone who owns a handgun is, effectively, a savage. After all, isn't that "giving up on civilization" means -- saying "screw it" and either figuratively or literally embracing the ways of wild barbarism in order to eschew civilization? If you give up on civilization, aren't you ipso facto uncivilized? I find it troubling that the author is effectively dehumanizing those who disagree with him by calling them unworthy of being able to exist within civilization.

The second possible interpretation, albeit unspoken, is that anyone who chooses to own a handgun as opposed to owning one as part of their job, i.e. the military and the police, has given up on civilization. This is actually far more troubling to me than the former, as it ties into the second objectionable statement below.


2) "I do not own a gun for the same reason I do not filter my own drinking water or generate my own electricity - I live in a city, where, for a reasonable price, security, like water or electricity, is provided by trained professionals."

With this statement, the author is essentially saying "I don't need to protect myself, there are people who will do that for me." And, referring back to statement one above, these trained professionals are either savages (because they carry handguns) or -- and this is actually the worse interpretation -- he supports the creation of police as "a separate moral species, specially bred for violence, to be called from their fortified compound to vacuum up problems and guilt."
Not-really-pacifist “pacifist” liberals, I find, often get wrapped up in a recurring ideological process of shedding and assigning guilt. I wouldn’t touch a gun. I’ll just call my paid servant the policeman to come and shoot my assailant for me. My hands stay clean of gunshot residue and other stains; he wields the horrid gun and the moral responsibility, and quandary, of using deadly force – which I’ll endlessly analyze with my colleagues over dinner. And if it really was my ass that was saved, we’ll all congratulate ourselves for maintaining our “pacifist” guiltlessness, while romanticizing the guy who did the dirty work for us.
"The Rifle on the Wall: A Left Argument for Gun Rights", The Polemicist, 1/31/13
Later, the Polemicist (correctly) calls our current concept of police a "quasi-professional caste created to be my absolving wet workers".  This troubles me, and it ought to trouble all of you, because it once again reinforces the concept that handgun owners are The Other:  a thing which is not human, and doesn't deserve to exist within polite society, and yet which society needs for protection because truly civilized beings don't engage in such behavior.

Or put another way, because I am a gigantic nerd and sometimes people do better with fantastic analogies:
  • Elves/Starfleet Officers/My Little Ponies do not believe in violence, as it is barbaric and uncivilized. 
  • However, sometimes violence is necessary to defend Lothlorien/The Federation/Equestria. 
  • But because civilized beings in a civilized society don't DO violence, that violence must be subcontracted out to Orcs/Klingons/Griffons. 
  • This creates a "moral slave class" of Orcs/Klingons/Griffons, who are looked down upon because they do the filthy work of necessity. 
  • Therefore, Elven/Federation/Equestrian Civilization (which is pacifist) is protected by the warlike and uncivilized (who are hated and feared and shunned) and yet whose service is admirable and lauded because it is necessary for the continuation of civilization. 
  • And somehow, the disconnect between these two positions isn't noticed by those espousing this philosophy.

Conclusion
This individual posits a society where predators protect their prey, and yet still believes that the prey will be in charge of the predators because it's in the predator's best interests to keep their prey happy.

What does this remind me of, again? Ah, yes: livestock in a slaughterhouse.

But, Erin, the police aren't predators.

An excellent point. Why then do we treat them as the only ones with moral dispensation to kill? And why are we surprised when, treating them as such, they increasingly see us not as citizens but as the enemy?

My position is that treating law enforcement as a separate class, the Morlocks to our Eloi, is dangerous and wrong and will only result in greater "us versus them" confrontations where the purpose of "protecting and serving" comes dead last and the Thin Blue Lie is to be upheld no matter what egregious violations occur.

If, on the other hand, we stop looking at the police as state-sanctioned gunmen and instead return to Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Policing, we would realize that "the police are the public and that the public are the police."  This would handily reduce the "us versus them" conflict. 

It would, however, require certain people to face the uncomfortable truth that the dirty matter of self-defense is not something to be pawned off onto some moral scapegoat in uniform, but a duty that is an inherent to humanity as is the duty to keep oneself fed and clothed -- in other words, it's your own damn duty as an adult to keep yourself alive. But that would be icky for certain people, and we certainly can't have that in today's enlightened society. 

Ickiness today, or civil war tomorrow. I know what my choice is. What's yours?

The Fine Print


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