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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Appearance on the Out of Order podcast

I was a guest on James Kaleda's Out of Order podcast yesterday. In addition to talking about Operation Blazing Sword, coming out of the gun closet, and the genie bottle that is state's rights, I was also asked some questions I've never been asked before, like "How can straight people encourage queer people to shoot?" and "What books do you recommend?"

I like it when people ask me new questions, because it feels like I've told the origin of OBS so many times that it's become boring.

Have a listen!

Monday, June 18, 2018

ACP Episode 011: Feel the Love

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer'd talk about our friends on Patreon and how much we love them, and the giveaway we're holding for a C-5 9mm AR lower from New Frontier Armory.
  • Our main topic is the revelation that Florida may -- or may not -- have been conducting background checks on their Concealed Weapons Permit applicants.
  • The Egghead tells us all about the benefits of a Ham Radio license and how to get one.
  • Savage1R detours from cryptocurrency to talk about his new AR-15 project, the DB5000.
  • Weer'd fisks part 1 of an anti-gun rant by sex advice podcaster Dan Savage (no relation).
  • David talks about butting heads with very anti-gun people in New York from High School through last year.
  • and Steve talks about some hazards on the job of being a PI, and how things can go from calm to crazy really fast.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
  • Thundershirt for dogs
  • Rock Rose flower essence
  • Stripped C-5 Lower
  • Florida Report on NICS Incident
  • Florida NICS Background Checks Reports. Some stuff is not making sense  
  • Tampa Bay Times & Fake News: Background Check were performed after all
Savage Segment:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

I Have Begun Writing Fiction Again

It's been years since I had both the urge to write fiction and an idea for a story, but I currently have both so I've started again.

It's a short story about a young woman named Bronislava Artemievna Vinogradova and her heirloom Mosin-Nagant named Grandmother Rifle.

It's basically a love letter to the M91/30 set in an urban fantasy setting.

If you're a Patron of mine, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

If you aren't a Patron.. why aren't you?  Go here and sign up today!

Image found on Pinterest. I don't know who originally made it or where it's from. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 4

Stark Expo, 13 June, 1942

Strains of Glenn Miller's In The Mood wafted over the warm summer evening air punctuated by fireworks, masking the groaning sound of the TARDIS landing behind a cotton candy stand. The door opened, and Clara stepped out wearing a cushy beige cardigan and matching dress. She stopped and admired the fireworks bursting in the sky behind the giant globe that sat in the center square of the Expo. The Doctor stepped out behind her and noticed Clara glaring at him.

"What?" he said innocently.

"You insisted that I dress period-appropriate, reasoning that we were guests in this timeline, but here you are in a hoodie and jumper that look like they were attacked by a ravenous pack of moths."

"Oh, that's fine. Here, problem solved," Clara's eyes widened as the wizened visage of the Doctor melted away into that of a woman no older than her, blonde hair in a style fashionable for the 1940s.

"What... wait, what exactly did you just..." Clara was having trouble finding the words to describe what she'd just seen. The Doctor smiled through the young woman's face, and his voice came in a soft American accent as he held up a small device that looked like a pager.

"Image inducer. The TARDIS databanks found it in the aborted timeline and replicated the technology. Because it keeps trying to reassert itself, little parts of the other timeline bleed through. This little gadget is amazing, it's like a cross between the holographic clothes we wore to see the Papal Mainframe and the TARDIS's own perception filter. You probably haven't noticed, but you're speaking in American accent now, too."

Clara clutched at her throat momentarily, but the Doctor strode off in his patent leather pumps, continuing to talk, "Now then, the information I was able to pull out of our rodent friend's temporal dissection says that Captain America himself is witness to the focal point in time that caused the straw to go all bendy. We just have to follow him there and make sure it's fixed."

"And how do we do that? Wouldn't he be off punching Nazis? We are in the thick of World War II," Clara asked, following towards a pair of large statues.

"Easy. I had the TARDIS send him a psychic message. He thinks he's set up a double date with a friend of his and a couple of pretty young girls. Now, the image inducer has me covered, but do you think you can manage to pretend to be a pretty young girl for a few minutes at least?"

Clara bristled for a moment, "Doctor, I am a..." she started, before trailing off as her eye caught a handsome young dark-haired man in a dress uniform. "That must be him, yeah? He's cute. I can't just call him Captain America, though, can I? I mean that's not him yet."

"I think he goes by Bucky now," The Doctor said, fiddling with his screwdriver while Clara flagged down the soldier. He smiled, and approached with his short, slight blonde friend in tow. As they met, the soldier draped his arm around Clara and the Doctor ignored his friend. They all strolled together into the Modern Marvels Pavilion.

To be Concluded

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Pulse: Two Years Later

Words of hope and unity from my friend Courtney Ballard. He's been an immense help to me since the very first moments of Operation Blazing Sword. Not only was he one of the first people to volunteer, he also set up our Facebook page when I was overwhelmed with everything else.

Thank you, Courtney!

Monday, June 11, 2018

ACP Episode 010: Promotion & Proliferation

In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss getting the word out:
    • ... about the podcast.  We'd like to have our listeners sharing ACP with others so that more people can enjoy the show.
    • ... about Operation Blazing Sword, available swag, and the upcoming active shooter event. (Erin please flesh out the details of the event a little better for me)
    • ... about your local Second Amendment groups who do the lion's share of work for improving our rights. Join your local group, and get others to join as well!
  • One of our new contributors, Egghead, gives a primer on amateur (ham) radio.
  • Weer'd fisks a video of Robert Reich laughably called "5 Points to Counter the NRA"
  • David, our other new contributor, talks about being pro-gun in a massively anti-gun state in "Gun Lovers and Other Strangers".
  • and Steve talks about crime and gun laws in the city of Detroit, and then about volunteering for Rick Ector's group Legally Armed In Detroit where he helped instruct 700 women on the safe operation of pistols. 

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes

Main Topic:
Weer'd Audio Fisk:
Tales From the Trunk:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

ONE AIM Community Seminar

Operation Blazing Sword is proud to present our first Community Safety Seminar!

ONE AIM is a 90-minute presentation on active shooter survival techniques, presented by experts in this field, including Orlando first responders. The discussion will include considerations as a legally armed civilian caught up in the midst of an active shooter situation.

Admission is FREE, but seating is limited and attendees must RSVP via this link:

Special thanks to Brownells, Inc. for sponsoring this event!

ONE AIM Community Safety Seminar
Saturday, July 14, 2018
1 pm – 3 pm
Roth Family Jewish Community Center
851 N. Maitland Avenue
Maitland, FL 32751

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Well-Meaning Diminishment

Pardon me, I need to get something off my chest. I apologize if I come across as scolding, but this is something which has been bothering me for months:
I know that people mean well when they look at my face and tell me that it's not a big deal, that it's only a little scar. I know that they are trying to tell me "It's hardly noticeable, don't freak out about it."
But what I hear is "You're really overreacting about this. Stop being such a damn baby. It's only a little scar."
And that drives me absofuckinglutely bugnuts because it diminishes what I went through, because while everyone else sees a scar that is healing nicely, what I see is a reminder that I was betrayed and assaulted by a pet that I loved and I thought I could trust, and that assault disfigured me. And I have to look at it EVERY. GODDAMN. DAY.

Imagine the worst thing that's happened to you. Now imagine being reminded of it every time you look in the mirror. Now, imagine someone telling you that your daily reminder of your worst moment is just a little thing, it's nothing to worry about, hardly noticeable. How would that make you feel?

Even though I know they mean well, it makes me feel like they are diminishing what I went through. "Oh, it's just a little mauling. You'll be fine."

So please, I beg you: please don't tell me my scar is so little, so minor, so hardly noticeable. Instead, please say something like "It's healing nicely." Which is true, because it is and I am. 

Nice and slow. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

ACP Episode 009: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss FOSTA-SESTA and the implications it has for free speech on the internet, the safety of people in real life, and why it's relevant to the Second Amendment.
  • Savage discusses Initial Coin Offerings and the laws and pitfalls associated with them.
  • Connie talks about Memorial Day in Washington DC and answers some political questions that Erin and Weer'd asked.
  • Weer'd Gives us part two of his fisk of the Brady Campaign's "Gun Violence 101" video.
  • and Steve gives us his reflections on how Hollywood portrays private investigators and why they're wrong. 

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes:

Saturday, June 2, 2018

An Exegesis of "Tourniquet"

Evanescence's Tourniquet is a crucifixional experience in musical form.

By this I mean "When Jesus Christ was dying on the cross, He was in agony, was probably regretting all of His choices, and called out to God asking why He had been forsaken, and this song captures all of that emotional intensity in an incredibly personal way."

The song starts with roughly 20 seconds of instrumental music that sounds like a wind through a foggy forest, and then suddenly there is a blast of guitar and percussion. I cannot help but feel this represents someone whose mind is drifting off, and then is suddenly, shockingly awake. Given what is said in the first verse, it's a pretty good musical metaphor for blood loss followed by panicked wakefulness.

[Verse 1]
I tried to kill the pain
But only brought more
(So much more)
I lay dying
And I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

This paints an incredibly evocative picture of a woman who has committed suicide by slashing her wrists and, as she lies dying, has a change of heart. She now wants to live, but is too weak to take action to save herself. Her only option is to pray to God and ask to be saved.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

The phrase "My God, my tourniquet" is what convinces me that this is not a song about someone who has died but rather a song about someone who is dying and now desperately wants to live. "God, please staunch my bleeding" is how I read it. "God, please be my tourniquet. God, please save my life. I'm sorry I tried to kill myself. I no longer want to die. I want to live!"

[Verse 2]
Do you remember me?
Lost for so long
Will you be on the other side
Or will you forget me?
I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
Am I too lost to be saved?
Am I too lost?

I too have struggled with feelings of divine rejection and a desire for death, and so this verse hits very close to home for me. "God, I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms lately. I don't know if I rejected you first or not, but I haven't felt your love in a very long time. Do you even care if I die? If I do, will you damn me to hell for suicide? Or will you know that I've been in a lot of pain and in a very dark place for such a long time, and that this seemed like the only way out for me?"

The phrase "Am I too lost to be saved?" is a plaintive cry for both physical and spiritual salvation.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

{Screams: I WANT TO DIE!!!}

What's odd is that every time I listen to this song, I hear "DON'T WANT TO DIE!" instead, and it's gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. But even if you take it at face value it still doesn't damage my interpretation of the song, because there is always that self-destructive voice at the back of our heads who always wants to ruin things, who wonders what it would be like to destroy something irreplaceable or damage a friendship irrevocably.

Or maybe that's just my head? I sure hope not.

My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation
My God, my tourniquet
Return to me salvation

[Verse 3]
My wounds cry for the grave
My soul cries for deliverance
Will I be denied?
My suicide

"I know I'm dying, lord. My body is done for. But I'm still hurting inside. I was taught that you're a God of love. Please love me despite all this. I just want to be loved!"

And there is SO much meaning packed into the last four lines of the verse.
Meaning 1: "Will I be denied salvation? I'm dying, Jesus! Save me please!"
Meaning 2: "Will my pain be ignored once again? Or will Christ finally show me the love I crave by being the tourniquet that halts my suicide?"
Meaning 3: "Will I be denied Christ? Will I be denied a tourniquet? Will I be denied suicide? What will happen to me? I'm scared!"
The fact that it can mean all of these things at once and not distort the message of the song is very powerful to me.

The last minute of the song is a different instrumental piece, this time strings playing a somber passage that reminds me of a funeral mass. Obviously the singer has died.. but what of her soul? The music is not particularly bright nor dark, and so we must draw our own conclusions.

I favor the interpretation that, whatever your feelings are about suicide being a mortal sin, the fact that the singer displayed genuine remorse and repentance is sufficient to earn her forgiveness, salvation, and the peace and love she has been craving.

In short: the entire piece is a powerful musical rendition of "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani", made all the more gun-wrenching because I've been where the singer is and I can identify with her pain and loss and need.

Friday, June 1, 2018

It has been a hell of a week, hasn't it?

Hi, folks.

When Erin wrote last week about how rough she'd been feeling lately, it really resonated with me. I hadn't realized it at the time, but writing has become a bit of a chore for me  as well.

I began working outside of my home late last year, which I hadn't done for nearly a decade prior. While I was working at home, when an idea came to me I could stop what I was doing and bang something out, or at least take down some notes, because the computer was right there in front of me and I was good enough at my job that I could take 20 minutes to write something without missing a beat in my day job. Now I've got to get up earlier, drive across town, be stuck somewhere for 9 hours, then drive back across town and wind down from work, and by that point it's difficult to get the old fingers moving.

Not only that, but working from home took its toll on me in other ways. My immune system is pretty worthless considering that I wasn't around sick people for so long, so I've had two or three sinus infections and a few upset stomachs from things going around. Like now. I have both, and I'm still working.

The job is good, though. I'm treated well, paid well, and have a level of work satisfaction I wasn't previously aware of, so there's that. But my personal time has become more valuable to me because there's now less of it, and being that I'm forced to be "on" for a full third of the day, pretending like socializing is easy and fun and not just something I'm good at but hate to do, that takes a toll as well.

I was feeling this before I started A Still Point In Time, which I openly admit is a silly bit of fan-fiction, but I've only got one chapter left, and I completely intend on turning it in soon. Expect a special guest star or two, as well as a relevant twist ending (a post-credits sequence if you will, given the subject matter). But I do feel like I owe Erin, and all of you, an apology for missing schedule here and there.

Also, she did say I'm not allowed to write anything else until Still Point is done, so I'll preemptively rap my knuckles with a ruler, if I can find one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tatonka Cartridge Company's "American Shooter Collection"

Last year, I met with a group of young people from the UK to talk about guns. One of the things I did was to create a visual aid for them so that they could, among other things, see that the round from an AR-15 was substantially smaller than a typical hunting round.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a very nice visual aid, as it consisted of ammunition from my personal collection scotch-taped to the lid of a shoe box. It worked, but it was rather half-assed and didn't survive the trip home.

It also consisted of live rounds, since I didn't own any dummy rounds. This wasn't a big concern to me since the sample guns I brought were rendered unable to fire, but in a general sense it would be good to have inert rounds for display purposes. 

Top: 9mm, .38, .357, .40, .45 ACP, .223, 6.8 Spc, 7.62x39, .44, .45 Long Colt, .454, .500
Bottom Row: 22-250, .243, .270, 7mm, .30-30, .308, .30-06, .300, .45-70, 12 gauge
Enter the American Shooter display by the Tatonka Cartridge Company which I discovered at the NRA meeting in Dallas. I immediately placed an order for it to take advantage of convention pricing (less than retail price, plus free shipping!) but it was still so expensive that I needed to spend Operation Blazing Sword funds to pay for it. 

Despite the cost, though, I feel it was a good purchase for educational purposes. 
  • All of the cartridges are inert and the primers have been spent. 
  • It has far more cartridge types than I own, all clearly labeled.
  • The cartridges are under glass which prevents loss. 
  • It looks so much nicer than what I made. 
  • When I'm not using it to teach, it's a beautiful display. 
My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that this display needs a .22LR cartridge. The "American Shooter" emblem could have been moved up and the .22 mounted underneath it. Still, this is a very minor objection for what is otherwise a very nice visual aid.

If you're looking for professional visual aid for teaching, or if you just want some attractive firearm-themed decorations in your home, I suggest you see if the Tatonka Cartridge Company has what you need. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

ACP Episode 008: Poor Optics

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss the optics of Oliver North as the new NRA President.
  • Savage discusses ways to get your cryptocurrencies to start making money for you.
  • In Washington in Plain English, Connie explains the implications of the revelation that the FBI was indeed spying on the Trump Campaign.
  • Weer'd fisks part one of the Brady Campaign video "Gun Violence 101"
  • And in Tales from the Trunk, Steven talks about how one deals with the basic biological necessities when stuck in your car on surveillance.

Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Show Notes:

Friday, May 25, 2018

It's Been a Week

Yeah. I haven't been writing lately, and I'm sorry about that.

I've been looking at the blank page of this blog for... I don't know how long. And in that time, I've come to an uncomfortable conclusion: somewhere along the way, writing stopped being fun and fulfilling and felt more like a chore. A job that I don't want to do and am looking for an excuse to avoid doing.

(The irony that I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with writing does not escape me).

I seem to lack the passion and joy that writing used to bring and now it's just a job. Unless I'm really fired up about something and need to get that fire out of my skull, I'm kinda 'meh' about the whole prospect.

Yet at the same time, I have this deep and abiding regret over the stories that I want to write, but likely never will, because I can't seem to find the focus or the discipline to write them. So am I truly tired of writing? Or am I just tired of struggling?

I don't know. It's been a rollercoaster of a week, and maybe I'm just worn out. I went from high stress levels, to completely losing my shit and looking like a raging cuntbitch in front of my friends, to the stress becoming so high that the frequency of its oscillation wasn't a discernible series of ups and downs but rather a constant hum. In other words, this picture:

I'm getting better, but I'm still fighting the associated mental numbness and desire to do nothing except let my mind go blank in front of the television.

Anyway, I'm okay-ish and seem to be on the upswing. I have chocolate, and I have rum, and I'm going to see Deadpool 2 this weekend, so that ought to help. And I've written this blog post so I can reasonably say I've accomplished something this week.

See ya on the flip side.

Monday, May 21, 2018

ACP Episode 007: James Bond

In this week's podcast:
  • There is an obligatory James Bond reference.
  • Erin and Weer'd discuss their return from the NRA Annual Meeting,  the aftermath of the protests there,  and flying with firearms.
  • Savage discusses how to manage your Cryptocurrency and some of the hazards you must beware.
  • Weer'd Fisks a video that claims that the founding fathers actually supported gun control.
  • Steven talks about a few tactics that Private private investigators can use to crack a cold case. One is rather glamorous, the other... not so much.

Listen to the episode here.

Show Notes:
Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Falling Towards Reichenbach

Lately I've noticed an uncomfortable trend among gun owners to hold the attitude of "It's all going to fail anyway, so instead of trying to make things better let's just get our licks in while we can."

I understand the sentiment. We are genuinely tired of constantly being demonized, and many have decided that since the anti-rights folk are going to treat us hatefully we ought to be hateful to them right back.

The problem with this tactic is that it's ultimately self-defeating. If your opponent is being unreasonable the solution is not to be unreasonable as well. We should be trying to broaden the support base for gun rights by appealing to the undecided moderates instead of trying to punish those who disagree with us.

There are currently about 5 million members of the NRA, yet it's estimated that there are 100 million gun owners in America. If a political bloc of 5 million votes scares the hell out of politicians, then a bloc of 100 million would make them crap their pants. Why, then, is the NRA not doing more to get those other 95 million to join?

There is a massive base of gun owners who believe in the Second Amendment but don't want to support the NRA because they disagree with the stances that come bundled with it. For example, if you're a gay gun owner and the NRA shifts hard enough to the right that its values include "gay people are threatening the sanctity of the nuclear family", then you'll be less inclined to support the organization regardless of your views on gun rights. 

I've seen this happen before (when the NRA started this culture war crap with Angry Dana videos) and it's only going to alienate more allies. With formerly pro-gun states like Florida actually passing gun control laws, this is not the time to drive allies away; this is the time to bring as many into our tent as possible so that politicians in non-blue states fear getting a failing grade from us.

But fighting makes people feel good, so that's what happens. And that's nothing but trading punches as we plummet to our doom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 3

Back on board the TARDIS (now thankfully free of whatever potentially toxic fumes had exploded from the console), Clara changed into a less dusty and soot-covered outfit. She'd spent a surprisingly small amount of time crawling through burned-out buildings, but a hot shower to get the dust out of her hair felt good. Nigeria's weather was very different to the cool, damp shores of England.

Having teased the last of the water from her hair, she joined the Doctor on the TARDIS's upper level where he was standing with his hands on his hips and a look of consternation on his face. Surrounding him were a pair of chalkboards with what looked like crude drawings of professional wrestlers; what looked like a film projector with the silver scalpel where the film should be; and an old-fashioned boxy console screen on a long mechanical arm dropping from an indeterminate point in the ceiling.

She studied the crude chalk drawings. "I knew a girl growing up whose whole family was in wrestling. She was quite a bit younger than me, but I bet she went into it."

"What does any of this have to do with wrestling?" The Doctor frowned. "Oh, you mean these?" He pointed at the chalk sketches. "I've been pulling information from the tracking knife and correlating it with what the TARDIS has been soaking up from local media and historical records. It's really quite fascinating."

Clara braced herself for a storm of nonsensical words and long-winded explanations when the Doctor rounded on her with what appeared to be a little plastic man. "Meet Captain America!" Clara stared at the little plastic man, dressed in blues and whites with touches of reds and carrying a tiny disc of red and white.

"Captain what now?"

"America! He was a sickly, underfed boy whose parents were Irish immigrants. He signed up for the Army during World War 2 and fought a secret division of the Nazis called Hydra!" The Doctor's eyes were sparkling with the child-like gleam that Clara adored.

"I think I remember hearing about him, but Doctor, he was a comic book. He wasn't real." Clara immediately regretted saying that, as if she were telling a child that Father Christmas wasn't real.

"Then explain this," he said, pulling the console screen down by the knob. It held what looked like news footage of a man in a more modern and sleek version of the toy's uniform leaping over a car and flinging his metal disc. It ricocheted off three aliens that looked halfway related to Silurians before returning to the man's hand. As he fought through a larger group of the aliens, Clara caught a glimpse of what looked like a gold and red Cyberman, a woman in all black with startlingly red hair, and an absolute giant of a man with green skin.

The projector hissed and sparked and the picture suddenly changed, throwing the image of a large purple man with ceremonial robes being surrounded by people throwing lightning, shooting lasers from their eyes, and other fantastical things. Another hiss, another spark, and the projector now showed the building in Lagos, but complete and surrounded by a small army who were failing to hold off a man with what looked like knives protruding from his knuckles.

"They're all real, Clara!" She looked back to the Doctor, who had the most excited look on his face. A spark flew from the projector and a bell on the console clanged loudly, silencing any further questions she might have. The Doctor nearly flew over the railing, dashing down to the console in a blur and shouting "We have a destination! The still point we're looking for. The point where the straw goes all bendy!"

He looked at her, grinning like a madman. "The Stark Expo. June 13, 1942."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Thoughts on the NRA's New President

Short Version:
Jesus Christ, NRA, what were you thinking? Were you even thinking?

Regardless of the fact that Oliver North's convictions were vacated on appeal, he is not only a man tarred with the specter of scandal but is also associated with illegally smuggling guns. Appointing a convicted-if-vacated gunrunner to be the public face of a national gun right organization is as short-sighted and tone-deaf as appointing not-convicted-but-clearly-guilty child murderer Casey Anthony to run the Girl Scouts of America.

By appointing North to be your president, you are embracing every single stereotype that Bloomberg and the various gun control groups have been saying about gun owners. You didn't just give them ammunition; you loaded the gun, handed it to them, and asked them to shoot you with it.

I literally cannot conceive of a worse decision short of appointing Bloomberg himself as NRA president.
photo by Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Longer Version:
I am immensely frustrated with this, both for the above public reasons and for the following personal ones.

All convention long, I worked my ass off to get a sit-down meeting with President Peter Brownell like I managed last year. When I discovered I had been invited to the invitation-only President's Dinner at the end of the convention, I was ecstatic and my mood only built from there when I was able not just to meet many people with the words "Board of Directors" on their name tags, but also talk to them about my concerns for what the NRA was doing and how to fix it - 
(Specifically, to stop the "culture war" nonsense that their public relations group Ackerman McQueen was churning out. They need to stop with the Us vs. Them mentality and quit trying to tie gun ownership to conservatism because that kind of thing is only pushing away allies. Gun Ownership is not inherently conservative or liberal;  it's a right, and rights are neither conservative or liberal, they just are. If the NRA wants to grow its membership and become more inclusive, it must focus only on its core mission of Firearm Education & Safety and Second Amendment Rights and nothing else.)
- and more importantly, they listened to me when I talked. They paid attention, they asked questions, they said my voice was needed within the group and they encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing because it was important and necessary. I was able to get a few minutes with Mr. Brownell, and he took notes when I gave him my bullet points. I was even able to meet with Wayne LaPierre himself briefly, where I gave him my card and explained the mission of Operation Blazing Sword and asked him to please use me as a resource. 

Things were going very well... and then, the next day, it was announced that Brownell was stepping down and North was taking his place. 

Now let me first say that I completely understand why Mr. Brownell stepped down. He already had a full-time job being the CEO of Brownells (aka "The Amazon of Firearms") and then was NRA President on top of it. The man was incredibly busy, and I can't blame him for wanting a break. Nor can I blame him for choosing his family business over an organization where he was both term-limited and largely a figurehead. 

I can't speculate as to the rumors that he was frustrated with an intractable "old guard" who resisted his ideas for a more inclusive NRA because I don't know anything except the rumors. It wouldn't surprise me, mind you, but I don't know one way or the other. 

So I can't fault Mr. Brownell for leaving. I do, however, fault the Board of Directors for appointing Oliver North in his stead. Businessmen negotiate, but Marines fight, and appointing Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North to be the head of the NRA sends an unmistakable message that the NRA is now on a war footing. While there's nothing inherently wrong in fighting for gun rights and the Second Amendment, I fear that we're going to see a doubling down on divisive rhetoric that will not only drive away potential allies but also mean a complete reversal of Brownell's plans for a more inclusive NRA. 

Will the NRA survive this? I don't know. I hope they do, because they're the nation's oldest and largest gun rights organization. It's going to depend on a lot of factors, including what their new president says and does. Maybe they will take my words to heart and understand that inclusionary language will bring them more members, more money, and more political influence than divisive rhetoric.

But if they won't... perhaps they don't deserve to survive this. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

ACP Episode 006

In this week's podcast:
  • This episode was recorded on location in Dallas for the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting, so pardon the difference in sound quality.
  • Erin and Weer'd recount their stories from the show - people they met, events they attended, and the guns and gear they saw.
  • Connie recaps a momentous week in politics, including the peace talks with North Korea.
Listen to the episode here.

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 2

Clara followed as the Doctor stalked the wreckage of the building. For the most part, the TARDIS's telepathic field was doing its job and no one was giving them any funny looks as they clambered over charred walls and ducked under caution tape, but Clara could swear she'd periodically see people staring at them out of the corner of her eye only for them to be gone when she turned to look at them. Sure it wasn't her imagination, she decided to interrupt the Doctor's grumbling search.

"So... I'm sure it's just my imagination, but I keep seeing people... I don't know, noticing us? And then when I look again they're gone. What's up with that?" she asked, only half-expecting a reply from him.

"You're right, it's your imagination. But they really are there. Well, only they aren't." His explanation was only leaving her more confused, which must have been apparent on her face, so with a great sigh, he stopped, dropping the piece of rubble he'd surely not been about to lick, and gave her his full attention.

"You remember when I said this was the wrong Lagos?" he asked, pulling a straw from his pocket, "Well, imagine this straw is your Earth. Your 2016, with your Lagos and your Nigeria. Now this," he pulled another straw from his pocket, "is where we are now. A parallel timeline. Now, see the bendy part in this straw? At some point, the history of this world went all bendy. Right now, we're bent off to one side, but for some reason our new friend back there, Isaiah, can still see the other bendy bit. So can we, to a certain extent, because we're not even from this straw. We're so far not from this straw that the bendy bit is actually confusing the TARDIS computers to the point where she can't find the hole she came in through."

Clara pondered this for a moment. "Okay. I think I get it. I'm not asking where you're pulling all these straws from, but we jumped from one to the other, and you're trying to figure out where the straw went all bendy and straighten it, right? That way we can get back to the right straw?" When he nodded, she pressed him, "So what are you looking for?"

"Organic matter," he said, pulling the box out of his pocket again, "so I can use this."

"You're gonna make me ask what's in the box, aren't you? It's not a head, is it? Awful small head if it is."

The Doctor knelt, apparently finding what he was looking for. He shoved his arm into a hole near the bottom of a burnt-out wall and pulled it back holding a half-crushed, lightly singed, and certainly very dead rat. Clara cleared her throat uncomfortably as the Doctor knelt, opening the box and placing the rat on the ground next to it. From the box he pulled a large silver scalpel that seemed to have some arcane, indecipherable writing on it.

"It's called a tracking knife. I nicked it from some particularly nasty characters living in a pocket of looped time. They'd use it to dissect living things, garner secrets from their timelines. It harvests biodata. I need an organic connection to this universe so I can track its timeline back to see where the divergence happened. We're looking for a still point in time, something that can be easily manipulated."

"And once we find that, we can go back and fix it? The knife is going to tell you all that by cutting up a dead rat?" Clara was still clearly uncomfortable with the dissection, but understood the reasoning behind it and looked on in interest as little lines of blue light began to appear in the air over the rat's now bisected body.

"I don't particularly feel like walking up to one of these nice people here and asking for a volunteer for a live temporal vivisection. It would be more effective, but it's more Missy's style than mine." The Doctor plucked at several of the strands, and they vibrated curiously. He manipulated the knife with suspicious skill, and several more intersecting strands appeared. "The knife should be able to get enough information for me to compare to the TARDIS databanks. I left the computer collating information from local sources, so we should be able to more accurately track down the bendy bits."

The strands began to coalesce into a single line, small symbols appearing at various points along it. The Doctor made a further cut and a fork appeared in them. "Gotcha," he said, standing and placing the knife gingerly back in the small box, "June 1943. Western Hemisphere, likely East Coast of the United States."

"Well, what are we waiting for then?" Clara asked, turning on her heel. "Let's go save a universe!"

Monday, May 7, 2018

ACP Episode 005

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weer’d Talk about the NRA and their Diversity Outreach.
  • They also discuss the first anti-gun law passed in the state of Vermont.
  • Connie tells us about how many of the various cabinet-level positions haven’t been staffed, and why that’s a bad thing.
  • Weer’d fisks the Facebook Viral Video where a man “Destroys” his AR-15 in possibly the worst way.
  • Steve talks about some of the perils that befalls a private detective when they have to sit in their car for hours when on surveillance.
Listen to the episode here.

Show notes:

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stupidity Should Cause Physical Pain

Thanks to Miguel Gonzalez, I was exposed to this inanity from Maggie Morris, a student at MSU and a member of SACRED (Springfield Area Coalition for Responsibility, Equity & Dignity):
"There is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. As a society, we are technically free to express ourselves without regard for the mental or emotional well-being of others. But if the best defense for a statement is that it isn’t technically illegal to express, where is the benefit? What does it accomplish? Why should we as individuals tolerate language and attitudes which harm the unity of our society?"
Maggie, you're absolutely right; we need the government to determine what kind of speech is hateful and forbidden. President Trump should create a panel of censors to determine what language is permitted, and this commission should be staffed with people like Rush Limbaugh, Dana Loesch, Ben Shapiro, Sarah Palin, and Milo Yiannopoulos.

[waits for hysterical screeching to abate]

No? You don't like that? Then maybe you should rethink your position on the government dictating what can and cannot be said in our society.

In fact, here's an idea: Always consider how your opponents could use a law against you before you advocate for its implementation. 

Oh, who am I kidding? These are the same people who will declare that "Trump is literally Hitler!" and then in the same breath demand that "Only the government should have guns!" ...because if you're fighting "literally Hitler", it's totes sensible to be disarmed first, right?

Being stupid should cause physical pain. Not injury, mind you, but pain intense enough that it can't be ignored. I'm thinking taser-level pain, where it stops you dead in your tracks and it hurts like hell, but has no lasting effects except maybe a bloody nose from falling on your face or soiled pants from when you lost bowel control.  Pavlovian conditioning to stop stupidity would benefit humanity more than anything else I can think of.

Monday, April 30, 2018

ACP Episode 004

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd talk taxes, and how you can donate to Operation Blazing Sword to keep from giving the Government your hard-earned money.
  • They also discuss the UK’s knife bans and the broader implications they have for both Britons and the world.
  • Connie analyzes John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Adviser.
  • Savage1R steps back the technical talk and dives into the philosophy of why cryptocurrencies are important and why we should all care.
  • Weer’d Fisks part 2 of Shannon Watts on the 1A Podcast where she focuses on armed teachers to deter school shootings.
  • Steve tells a story where he was the subject of an investigation.

Listen to the episode here.

Show notes:

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time

In the spirit of Infinity War's crossovers...

The man shifted uneasily in his chair, scratching at his grayed temples. Across from him sat, to his eyes, a walking scarecrow and a very pretty (if out of place) girl. She looked annoyed, but the scarecrow man looked impatient, perhaps expectant.

The man's hand shook as he reached for the small tumbler of whiskey. He sipped, choked back a grimace, and took a deep breath.

"I know you are going to think I am crazy, but I believe very much so that I am not. Everybody in Lagos remembers the day the heroes came crashing through and 'accidentally' blew up the Wakandans," his voice catching on the word 'accidentally' like it held a bitter taste to it, "but no one remembers when the mutants came to Lagos. No one but me."

The scarecrow man's eyebrows furrowed together, and for a moment the man was afraid they would leap off of his forehead and assault him. There was a moment of quiet, then he continued.

"And that's not all. I remember both of these events, and I remember the great Apocalypse. I read in the news about the robots in Europe, but no one else remembers entire cities disintegrating. What's wrong with me, Mister Doctor?"

One Hour Earlier...

Clara stumbled out of the TARDIS, choking on the smoke that followed her through the doors. Whatever was burning in there, she decided, could not be anything but hazardous to her health, and she sometimes worried she'd breathed in far too much of it over the years she'd traveled with the Doctor. She took in a lungful of dusty air and looked around. Hot, dry sun beat down on her, and she was surrounded by the noises and smells of a bustling marketplace of a dusty, dry city. The Doctor came charging out of the doors, dispelling the cloud of smoke that had followed her, his coat covered in soot and his face crossed with more lines than she'd remembered before the explosion. He was muttering something to himself about time tracks, dimensional boundaries, and crossed realities until she interrupted him.

"Doctor? Doctor! Where are we?"

He stopped and looked around for a long second before sticking his finger in his mouth and holding it up in the air and pronouncing, "Lagos. Nigeria. Earth. 2016. But the wrong one." He glanced up at the side of a building that looked like it had seen better days. Several of the upper floors of the North side of it had suffered structural damage and had clearly been on fire recently. He frowned, digging in his pocket until he found a small wooden box, tilted the lid open, then shut it firmly and shoved it back in his pocket.

"How can it be the wrong one?" Clara asked, "Isn't there only the one Lagos?"

The Doctor looked supremely annoyed, "Clara, do you remember that awful bingy-bingy noise before the cloister bells started ringing? That was the TARDIS jumping off course. And then when the walls started closing in? Something went wrong with the dimensional stabilizer, and we got pushed through a weak point between universes. Wherever we are, it's not the right Lagos. For one thing, that building," he said, pointing up at the burned out husk, "isn't supposed to be all exploded. I should know, I had tea there just next week and it was still in one piece."

Clara, trying to keep up with the shifting tenses in his explanation, suddenly noticed an elderly Nigerian man staring at them in disbelief. She tugged at his coat and whispered under her breath at the Doctor.

"Doctor, I think that man there just noticed us."

"Well of course he noticed us. We just stepped out of a smoking blue box that probably made an awful racket landing and... hold on, that man just noticed us. The TARDIS telepathic fields must have malfunctioned and -"

Clara cut him off, "Then why hasn't anyone else noticed us?"

"Ah," The Doctor patted the pocket he'd stowed the box in, before starting off towards the man. Clara shook her head and followed.


His name was Isaiah, and the Doctor was drinking in every detail of his story. Every fantastical detail. In this world, it seemed, there'd been a swell of enhanced individuals -- soldiers and inventors, robots and aliens -- appearing through history and operating quite publicly. But Isaiah's story fell apart in several places as he tried to reconcile two very different versions of history that were living in his head. This was very distressing to him, especially as it seemed no one else remembered one set of events. The Doctor and Clara sat with him for a very long time, listening to all he had to share.

When Isaiah had finished his stories, one accounting of bizarre events from two perspectives throughout his remembered history, the Doctor leaned back in his chair, his eyebrows finally leaving attack position. He pulled a slender tool from his coat pocket, shoved it rudely in Isaiah's face, and pressed the button. Isaiah flinched at the green light on the tip and the whine it let loose. The Doctor snatched it away from him, popped open the tip, and stared intently at the shifting metal on the inside.

"Well then. It's little wonder you're so perturbed. Your consciousness is split between two versions of reality, one that doesn't exist anymore and the one that exists around you, and you can't reconcile the two. Part of that little human pea-brain is quite literally stuck in the wrong universe. But why? What makes you of all people special?"

Clara sunk her elbow into the Doctor's ribs, handing him a notecard that he studied intensely for a moment before grudginly bringing his gaze back to Isaiah.

"By which I mean 'I am terribly sorry to hear about your distress. I can only imagine how I would feel in your place, and I will do everything I can to resolve this situation for you. Shake hands and smile politely.' "

Clara rolled her eyes and looked apologetically at Isaiah as the Doctor took off towards the ruined building.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Pathfinder Gunslingers and Touch AC

I like Gunslingers, but I think the Pathfinder rules for firearms targeting Touch Armor Class instead of regular AC is too powerful.

I've been looking at ACs for creatures as they increase in level (there's a great chart of that here, containing damn hear every beastie in Pathfinder), and when you compare them you see that while the Mean, Median and Mode of regular AC increases with CR at a fairly constant rate, touch AC hovers in the 10-12 range.

This is troublesome because Gunslingers get a +1 to their base attack bonus every single level, which means a Gunslinger will quickly end up hitting every damn thing every damn time unless that creature is intangible, or has such an  abnormally high touch AC (due to magic or Dex) that the wizard can't hit it with magic.

Now I understand the reasoning behind guns hitting touch AC, but that "game logic" falls apart when you consider that blunt weapons like maces and hammers also ought to hit touch AC because the impact damage would get transmitted through the armor to the fleshy bits underneath (concussions happen to people wearing helmets all the time).

On the other hand, I don't want to nerf the Gunslinger, either.

So I came up with a compromise based off the Bolt Ace ability Sharp Shoot, and ruled that:
  1. Firearms target regular AC.
  2. At 1st level, a Gunslinger may resolve a firearm attack against touch AC instead of normal AC when shooting at a target within its first range increment. Performing this deed costs 1 grit point. This deed’s cost cannot be reduced by any ability or effect that reduces the amount of grit points a deed costs (such as Signature Deed).
I think this is balanced. Instead of hitting nearly every time, a Gunslinger needs to save their attacks for special "oh crap" moments or dramatic combats. And since there are ways to regain grit in combat, plus the Extra Grit feat and magic items like the Ring of Grit Mastery, it's less a case of taking away something special and essential to the class and more turning it into another resource management mini-game like spellcasters have.

And now, I shall pre-emptively answer some expected objections:
Under rules as written, firearms only resolve vs Touch if they are in the first range increment, and outside of that they will take a -2(or higher) to attack. Isn't this enough?
I've been running a Pathfinder game with a Gunslinger for about a year now, and I don't think I've ever had a combat outside that range increment. Most fights occur within 30-50 feet, which is easily within range of a move action + shoot.
Gunslingers are vulnerable to attacks of opportunity when reloading!
This is true. However, 5 foot steps and teamwork mitigates a lot of this. If not, drop the firearm (free action), draw a melee weapon (move action) and attack (standard action) with that fast BAB.
Slow reloading times are a balance for the class!
Tell that to the 3rd level Musket Master in my game. Rapid Reloader + Fast Musket + Alchemical Cartridges means he can reload as a swift action so long as he has 1 grit point.
Gunslingers cannot rapid shot!
Double-Barreled muskets exist and can, regardless of level, fire both barrels in a single attack action. All the Rapid Shot feat would do is reduce the -4 penalty to -2, which seems both logical and fair and there's nothing in the rules to suggest that they cannot.
Firearms break on a misfire roll!
... which can be remedied as a standard action with the Quick Clear deed so long as they have (not spend, have) 1 grit point.
What will your Gunslinger PC think about being nerfed?
I ran it past him before I implement this rule. His answer was It seems like a pretty clean solution to what will definitely become a problem. I say we roll with it and see how it plays out on the table. 
How does it work in play?
We've only had a couple combats since then, but so far it seems to be working well. He's hitting opponents with about the same percentage as the crossbow-using Ranger, and is saving Grit for special occasions. So far we both like what we see, and will address concerns as they come up.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 003

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd Discuss Operation Blazing Sword and LGBTQ gun rights.
  • Erin interviews new contributor Connie Elliott, who lists the amazing life experiences that led her to become our “Washington in Plain English” translator.
  • Now that you actually have some cryptocurrency, Savage1R shows how you can use them.
  • The Weer’d Audio Fisk is part 1 of Shannon Watts on the NPR 1A Podcast.
  • Also new to the show is Steve, the “house dick” who is here to tell stories about his life as a private investigator in Tales From the Trunk. This week, Steve tells a story of an attempted carjacking that changed his outlook on life and firearms.

Show notes:

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Listen here or download the episode here.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Once you find your center, you are sure to win"

A friend linked to this article yesterday and asked me for my opinion on it.

The impression I got from it was one of self-loathing: "No matter how hard I try, I will never be good enough to consider myself a woman. But maybe, if put them above me, they will allow me to associate with them and that will validate my existence as a second-rate transwoman."

Sigh. It's attitudes like this which make me say that the queer community's worst enemy is itself. Give us enough time, and we'll defeat ourselves more thoroughly than any hyopthetical rightwing transphobe.

The author's main thesis seems to reduce to "transwomen are different from ciswomen biologically and socially." The biology difference is such a big fat duh that I'm unsure why she even feels the need to point this out. I don't think there's anyone on either side of the argument who feels that transwomen benefit from having their Y chromosome ignored in a medical sense. For example, in male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery the prostate is usually not removed due to its proximity to the bladder, important nerves and blood vessels. However, prostate cancer is still a thing that happens to transwomen, and pretending that a transwoman doesn't have a prostate that needs to be checked regularly is medically negligent.

The social difference is debatable, because I can list a half-dozen genetic women on Facebook alone whom I humorously call (and they laugh and agree with my assessment) "gay men with vaginas" because they act more male than female, don't understand other women, and sometimes don't even LIKE other women. So if biological women, who were socialized while growing up to be women, still self-identify as being more masculine than feminine, then maybe there's more to femininity than just estrogen-based puberty... meanwhile, here I am trying like hell to fit in, worried that other women are going to call me out for being a tourist and a fake, doing my best to cram an entire adolescence of figuring out clothing and makeup and movement into as short a time as possible, and (again) actual genetic women are telling me "You're girlier than I ever was."

While there is something to be said for bonding over shared life experiences, I feel like reducing "the female experience" to menstruation and PMS and childbirth and fear of rape and all the other things the writer listed is to reduce womanhood to plumbing and pain, and I find that marginalizing and objectifying and sexist. It's true, I'll never know what it's like to grow up as a girl into a woman... but growing up a certain way doesn't mean I can't assimilate into another culture, and if you believe that it does then I genuinely feel bad for you, because you've just told me that you believe in inescapable fate and that self-improvement isn't possible. After all, you've just said that if you grow up in an environment where no one goes to college, then you can't assimilate into college, so you shouldn't even try.

It's garbage thinking to assert "You can't be X because you don't have these shared experiences." Are you going to tell an immigrant seeking citizenship that she can't be American because she didn't grow up on a steady diet of American pop culture? No, because no one American is identical to another! A Californian is culturally different from a Texan is different from an Illinoian is different from a New Yorker, and while their cultural experiences are different they are all authentically American. Similarly, women can be different on a spectrum from frou-frou femme to butch tomboy, and no one's going to tell that butch tomboy that she can't put on a dress and be authentically feminine because she didn't grow up as a girly-girl. Hell, we have entire industries dedicated to making over women of all sorts, so that kind of transformation is actively encouraged by society.

So this sad author is saying that she can dress as a woman, but she'll never truly be one socially. I call BS on that because my experience says that attitude is absolutely wrong.

When I was in my 20s, I tried so very hard to "be a man": I wanted to join the military, I got a masculine tattoo, I tried to do all the thing "a man does" and I still felt like an imposter. I didn't know at the time that I was transgender; all I knew is that I felt like I didn't belong among the ranks of men and tried to find something, anything, that I could do or be or say that would forever mark me as "a man" that could be seen by all. I was going through all the motions and nothing was working; it was cargo cult manhood based around doing manly things and thinking manly thoughts and the fervent hope that if I just acted like a man I would become one somehow.

I don't think this is a transgender thing, because I remember the popularity of Fight Club and how its message was "You can't let society tell you how to be a man. You have to find it on your own, because it won't be bestowed upon you; manhood must be claimed."

Or maybe that's just what I took away from it. What I know is that watching the movie was very transformative for me, because it showed me that I wasn't alone, I wasn't a freak; there were other people who were having the same existential struggle I was. I just... found a different solution than in the film. But I like to think that Tyler Durden would approve of me being who I am instead of trying to be what I am not.

In the time since I saw that movie, I've known adult males who will never be men, and I've known legal children who were mentally and emotionally men before society said they were. Similarly, I've known adult females (many of whom are mothers) who weren't women but rather post-adolescent girls, and I've known high-schoolers who were women before they were 18.

If I may presume to have any wisdom on the matter, it is this: There is no single objective standard of womanhood, just like there is no single objective standard of manhood. 'Selfhood' is the end result of a long journey of self-discovery, at the end of which an individual says "This is who I am, and it is sufficient. I don't need anyone else to tell me what I am, because I know what I am, and if you don't like it you can go get bent."

You are yourself, and that is more than enough. Don't look to others for validation. Be YOU, as hard as you can, as fearlessly as you can, and don't apologize for it.

Or to be pithy: "If you want to be a woman, man up and be one."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Who Hunts The Hunters?

Obvious title is obvious.

I play a lot of video games. I mean, a lot.

Primarily, I play cooperative game modes. In some of those cooperative game modes, sometimes the interfaces are poorly coded, such as in Mass Effect: Andromeda. In these more poorly coded interfaces, often the voice chat is on by default, and there's a surprisingly generous portion of the playerbase that doesn't realize this. As a result, you often hear a lot of background noise: dogs barking, heavy breathing, televisions, cars driving by, jackhammers, people having sex, someone being horribly murdered in the background, or a combination of any of the above.

Stay with me. This is relevant, I promise.

Over the last week or so, Bully Hunters was announced. It is ostensibly an elite squad of possibly female gamers on call 24/7 to hunt down and exact revenge on toxic male gamers that harass other female gamers that are just trying to play a game. They announced a livestream event, an hour to show off their system in action, hunting down a bully live and providing statistics on why they're necessary.

And then the stream happened.

An hour turned into 35 minutes of unadulterated cringe.

The experts they brought on parroted Gender Studies talking points, which really came as no surprise. The in-game footage they showed was choppy and looked like it was either poorly encoded, pre-recorded footage or was being played on a computer from 2002. The presenters were stiff and uncharismatic, the audience was lifeless, and the event cues were ripped straight from a garage-level presentation of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. But it didn't stop there.

The statistics discussed by the 'professionals' -- a clinical counselor with a focus on living with diabetes and a clinical psychologist with a focus on marriage counseling -- were revealed to have been extrapolated by a self-reporting survey of 874 people on social media platforms Twitter and Reddit, and inflated from the 874 respondents to a total of 3 million women being driven out of gaming.

One "casual gamer," therosethorn, was revealed to be not only the casual gamer with a level 1 account owning only one game, but the bully, the bully hunter, and several other bully hunters as well. Not to mention that one of her previous names (and the url of her profile page) was testbhv1 (test bully hunter victim 1?).

Full disclosure here: this screenshot was taken from my own Steam account while I was writing this, as I'd lost the original screenshot. That's right, it's still there.

An additional problem arises in that, unless I'm mistaken, you can't hear the enemy team (let alone join a game in-progress if you're playing competitively) in Counterstrike: Global Offensive. If she was able to hear the bully, that means they were on the same team, and if she invited the Bully Hunter in, then she'd go to the same team, thereby making that glorious knife kill from earlier nigh-on impossible. If she somehow joined the opposing team, then due to the hectic nature of a CS:GO match, she'd stand just as much a chance of killing the person that called her for help as she did killing the bully, or even being killed by the bully herself, which is something that happens anyway. I'm not kidding, you play one of these games, and you die a lot. One more death will mean literally nothing to you.

A few watchful eyes happened to notice the prominent SteelSeries branding backing the Bully Hunters, and asked them directly about it. SteelSeries, a fairly well-respected gaming peripheral company (I even have a Fallout-themed headset they made) initially stood their ground when asked, but eventually buckled after being confronted by the shady nature of the entire event.

And I can't blame them at all. After Bully Hunters host and spokesperson Natalie Casanova aka ZombiUnicorn was exposed as having used a slur on a livestream several times (something that poor PewDiePie was crucified for), and using a gendered slur in several tweets, people kept digging, and found that the entire thing was slapped together by marketing company FCB Chicago. Eventually other sponsors Vertagear and, ironically, the Diverse Gaming Coalition also folded, throwing FCB Chicago and, in the case of the latter, ZombiUnicorn under the bus.

This is bad. Not only does it paint people that play games in general in a bad light, but it also paints women that play games as personally helpless, having to bring in outside help to fight their battles for them. I've played with a lot of women in my time; some of my best long-term co-op partners have been women, and I've always trusted them to hold their own, whether they're tanking for my medic or I'm tanking for their medic, and have never been let down. But this? You don't stop 'bullies' by giving them air-time or more exposure. You don't give them an easily exploitable platform so they can play nice until they convince you they're hunter material. Instead, you starve them of oxygen. You give them no reaction until they get bored. Do you want to see the most effective weapon against in-game harassment? I'll show you:

The Fine Print

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