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Monday, April 15, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 049: The Rough Cut

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the Bumpstock ban and the widespread non-compliance with it;
  • Oddball talks about New York's definition of a "Gravity Knife" and how that law is applied today;
  • Weer'd brings us part 1 of his fisk on the New Zealand press conference discussing the nation's sweeping gun bans;
  • and Sean Sorrentino brings us a guest post talking about that time he attempted to upgrade the trigger on his Ruger Mk III.

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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic

Weer’d Audio Fisk

Friday, April 12, 2019

Unknown Armies Episode 5

As you may have noticed, I enjoy giving my NPCs interesting voices. I might not be able to do an adequate impression of someone, but at least it sounds distinct when they speak.

I was disappointed that the evening ended when it did, but we were a player short and another one was crashing from fatigue, so it really couldn't have gone on longer.

I'm also not sure when we'll play again, since next week I'll be in Virginia giving a speech for UMW's second annual 2A Day, and the week after that I'll be in Indianapolis for the NRA Annual Meeting. So I guess sometime in May?

Regardless, enjoy the episode!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Making Sense of Star Trek 2: Classes Defined

See part 1 here.

What's a destroyer? Is it larger than a frigate or smaller? What purpose does it serve within a fleet? These are the kinds of questions that this article will attempt to answer. But first, a few caveats:
  1. I am not an expert on naval terminology. However, this isn't that big a deal, because...
  2. ... a lot of naval terms aren't consistent even within the same country's navy, let alone across the fleets of different nations. 
  3. There's a difference between surface ships and space ships, obviously, including their roles. 
  4. Therefore, this article's purpose is make sense of Starfleet and to be internally consistent throughout, not to be consistent with other navies. 
  5. I'm going to be using military terminology (because navies are military) which may be a little jarring to some people who believe the fiction that Starfleet isn't a military. 
Classes, Listed
Starting with the smallest actual warp-capable vessel and going to largest:
  • Fast Attack Craft
  • Corvettes
  • Frigates
  • Destroyers
  • Cruisers
  • Capital Ships

DISCLAIMER: In no way is this chart canonical.
It is, however, the best reference I've found so far. 

Classes, Defined

Fast Attack Craft
On Earth we know these as Gunboats, Patrol Boats, Torpedo Boats, etc. In Star Trek, they are shuttle-sized ships that have warp capability, phasers and/or torpedoes, and a crew of 1-2. FACs have a high impulse speed due to their small mass, but their warp speed is based upon their mission. For example, a FAC designed for patrol will have a lower-rated warp rating, trading maximum speed for endurance, whereas a FAC meant for high-speed attack will be capable of much faster bursts of speed but for a much smaller amount of time, greatly reducing its range. 

Examples of this are the Federation attack fighter and Maquis fighters, as well as the Danube-class Runabout when equipped with a weapons pod. 

Corvettes are the first of what you would consider actual ships instead of "boats" or "craft". They have a bridge instead of a cockpit, a captain* instead of a pilot, and an actual crew complement, but they are still quite small in comparison to typical Starfleet ships. Compared to other ships, corvettes are lightly armed and armored (this includes shield strength) and are suited only for specialized roles. Within those roles, they do an exemplary job, but outside of them they are completely inadequate.

Examples are the Maquis Raider and the Oberth-class science vessel. A Klingon Bird of Prey might be a corvette, depending on which size it is; see Bird of Prey Size Paradox
* By which I mean "holding the position of ship's captain" rather than "holding the rank of Captain". An actual Captain would not be in command of such a small ship; it's far more likely that this would be the first command of a Commander. See Starfleet Commissioned Officer ranks for more information. 

While the corvette is the smallest class of ship, the frigate is the smallest ship you'd want to take into battle. In fact, it's the smallest of the Ships of the Line, "the Line" referencing a wet-navy tactic of the 17th to 19th century in which ships would form in columns (aka The Line) and sail past each other while delivering volley fire from their broadside cannons.

Being warships, frigates effectively outgun anything that doesn't belong to another military; however, being lightly armed, they don't do well against heavier military ships unless there are a lot more frigates than enemy ships. Fortunately, frigates are rather easy to build, which means that wolfpack or swarm tactics are an effective option. In a defensive role, they make great escort ships, either protecting merchant convoys or screening, which is preventing other ships (FACs, corvettes, and possibly larger ships if there are enough frigates) from overwhelming the larger, slower ships in the fleet. In peacetime, frigates  make excellent anti-piracy patrollers and long-distance scouts.

Examples are the USS Kelvin and the Hermes and Saladin classes. Based on its size and crew complement, the Saber-class is probably also a frigate.

A destroyer can be summed up as "an average warship". It has good speed, endurance, weapons and defenses, but it is slower than a frigate (which it outguns) and faster than a cruiser (which outguns it). As the name says, the purpose of destroyers is to destroy things, and usually those things are specified within the ship's mission. For example, some destroyers might be optimized to battle swarms of smaller craft like FACs but be unable to hold their own against frigates; others might be glass cannons, designed to destroy larger vessels but unable to defend themselves effectively. Pairing a destroyer with several frigates makes a useful fighting element where the strengths of one class compensate for the weaknesses of the other.

The USS Defiant is both an excellent and terrible example of the class. On the one hand, it is specifically designed to destroy ships larger than itself; on the other hand, it is both smaller than expected (sized more like a frigate) and punches well above its weight (it fights more like a cruiser). The USS Prometheus is also likely a destroyer, although its size in comparison to other Starfleet vessels, as well as it its crew complement, is unknown; this assumption is based on the ship being designed for "deep space tactical missions", i.e. battle, and it's ability to split into three elements for said battle.

Other examples are hard to come by, as the writers of Star Trek like to think that Starfleet isn't a military and therefore don't have dedicated warships, the Defiant and Prometheus notwithstanding. However, hazarding a guess based on ship size, crew complement, and armament that even the Enterprise lacks -- dual aft torpedoes and fore/aft "mega phasers" affixed to the weapons "rollbar" -- the Miranda-class USS Reliant could be a large destroyer. Ships of similar volume and known to be used in wartime are the USS Centaur and the Constellation-class.

The Pasteur is another good atypical example; even though its size makes it more like a light cruiser, its highly specialized mission as a hospital ship (i.e. a destroyer that doesn't destroy anything) means it relies on support ships for protection in fleet operations.

Interestingly enough, cruisers are hard to define in terms of size because in both real life and in Star Trek there are several types of cruiser: light, medium, and heavy (sometimes known as battlecruisers or "pocket battleships"). In light of this I have chosen to define a Starfleet cruiser as "any starship larger than a destroyer which is capable of operating independently of a fleet or other support vessels for a sustained period of time." Cruisers have a good mix of offensive and defensive capabilities (see "operate independently") and can be good "jack-of-all-trades" ships.

The ur-example of a Starfleet cruiser is the Constitution-class USS Enterprise,  and the Excelsior might have been a heavy cruiser of its time (if so, it's a perfect representation of the pocket battleship); in the TNG era, the increased size of ships would result in it being downgraded to a medium cruiser at best. Intrepid-class explorers are an excellent example of a TNG-era light cruiser, with both the Ambassador and Akira classes filling the role of medium cruiser and Nebula-classes as heavy cruisers.

Capital Ships
This is another name which is sure to cause dissension within the ranks of hard-core Star Trek aficionados, but what else would you call the Enterprise-E, a ship bristling with planet-busting weapons and by itself able to turn the tide of battle against a Borg cube, or its even larger predecessor the Enterprise-D? These ships are unquestionably the flagship of any fleet action and often have battle groups built around them.
"These characteristics define a capital ship: if the capital ships are beaten, the navy is beaten. But if the rest of the navy is beaten, the capital ships can still operate. Another characteristic that defines capital ships is that their main opponent is each other." - William S. Lind, America Can Win, p. 90
The capabilities of capital ships are well-known thanks to seven seasons of The Next Generation and subsequent movies. Their main drawbacks are being slower than smaller ships (the Enterprise-E has a maximum speed of Warp 8) and a vulnerability to being swarmed by smaller vessels. Even with their ability to engage multiple opponents at once, too many ships can overwhelm their defense grid if they are attacked on multiple vectors simultaneously. Eventually a capital ship becomes a large, slow-moving target, and while some of the swarming ships will undoubtedly be destroyed, enough will get through and do damage. After all, that's how the Federation defeated the Borg cube in First Contact.

In my next post I'll show my work and explain how all of this ties in to Prelude to Axanar

Monday, April 8, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 048 Take 2: Technical Incompetents

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about several wins for the Second Amendment in the last few weeks;
  • Weer'd brings us part 2 of his fisk of Dr. Joseph Sakran's testimony in favor of universal background checks in the House hearing on gun violence;
  • Oddball gives us his take on knife clips and the the pros and cons of their orientation;
  • and David tells us more of his horror stories as a gun armorer.
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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic
Weer’d Audio Fisk

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I'm a model, you know what I mean / And I do my little turn on the catwalk

So, this is happening.

I'm honored, and flattered, and more than a little intimidated to be a part of this, especially since all of the other women who are participating are freaking gorgeous. Hell, even the men look better than I do!

Also, I am legitimately befuddled to be called an icon. I can't be that important -- I don't even have a Wikipedia page!

Anyway, if you'd like to attend the Concealed Carry Fashion Show in Indianapolis, it's on Saturday, April 27 (NRAAM weekend). The doors open at 5 pm, the event starts at 6:30, and it lasts until 8 pm.

The tickets cost $40 each, which I know is significant, but it benefits two Second Amendment charities: the Indiana State Rifle & Pistol Association and REALIZE Firearms Awareness Coalition.

Go here to buy your ticket:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 047: Honestly Bad For You

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d are obligated to talk about the recent mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand;
  • Weer'd Brings us a fisk of Dr. Joseph Sakran as he testifies in favor of universal background checks before the US House of Representatives;
  • Oddball invites his wife to tell a story on why she holds a grudge against CRKT knives;
  • and Steve tells us about trap and blind lines, and how a Private Investigator might use them.
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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic
Weer’d Audio Fisk
Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Unknown Armies Episode 4

This episode is greatly abbreviated, due to my players wanting a light session involving role-playing and talking about goals instead of adventuring (which I was more than happy to give them, considering I haven't had a lot of free time due to my increased workload from mom's surgery) and then having one of those players leave after 45 minutes to go see a movie (harrumph!).
    So settle back and listen to the characters introduce themselves and their backstories:
    • Nick Sisu, old-fashioned gent and survivor of a supernatural attack;
    • Eion (pronounced Owen) Mahoney, former Marine who's well on his way to becoming a hardened sociopath;
    • Adrestia Pruitt, adrenaline junkie trauma nurse with a secret;
    • and Mildred Opp -- Milly to friends, "Dred" to her students -- a middle-school teacher whose goal is KNOW ALL THE THINGS and who claims to have built the Library of Alexandria.. in a past life? in an alternate reality? The details are vague. 

    Monday, March 18, 2019

    Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 046: Happy Birthday, Erin!

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss assorted gun rights news;
    • Weer'd brings us part two of his fisking of Dr. Jeffery Swanson and his love of red flag laws;
    • and Erin interviews Tony Simon, the founder of the Diversity Shoot.
    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic

    Weer’d Audio Fisk

    Tony Simon
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

    Sunday, March 17, 2019

    Making Sense of Star Trek

    So I've been thinking about Star Trek recently. It's actually something I do a lot, despite the fact I don't talk about it much, and the reason I don't talk about it a lot is because while I can enjoy the series for what it is, there's still a part of my brain that wants to make it into a role-playing game.

    And I'm sure some of you are wondering Well, what's the problem with that, Erin? There have been many role-playing games set in the Star Trek universe. Just use one of those. Except the problem with that suggestion is that when you start digging into it -- as a GM must do in order to make a setting into a role-playing game -- there are things about it which make no sense whatsoever.

    No, I don't mean the things you're expecting, like all the anachronisms or the technology that's basically miraculous. I'm not even talking about the numerous discontinuities within the setting (although that's something else I'd have to eventually deal with).

    No, in this case I'm talking about starship design. Look at the various Federation designs since Next Generation came out. Why are some sleek and some squat? Why do some ships have warp nacelles that rise up from the engineering hull, and why do some have nacelles that curve down?

    Why even build the Galaxy class when the Nebula class has 90% of its capability plus a configurable mission pod plus a much smaller cross-section (a definite advantage in combat)?

    And don't even get me started on Trek's ship classification system wherein they apparently think that a frigate (traditionally smaller than a destroyer) is second in size only to a cruiser.

    This is the kind of thing which bothers me when I'm trying to sleep.

    And then, I re-discovered Prelude to Axanar. I'd seen it before, of course, and was awed at how amazing it was in terms of writing and special effects. But when I saw it again, I noticed something else which floored me: the ships made sense. 

    If you haven't seen it yet, you must. Clear 21 minutes from your calendar and watch this masterpiece fictional documentary.

    If you don't have the time or desire, then just watch this clip of absolutely gorgeous ships fighting each other.

    I have a bunch of thoughts trying to get out all at once, and I'll try to make sense of them for you.

    First, you need to understand that Gene Roddenberry is a World War 2 veteran. He flew in the Air Force (the Army Air Corps at the time), which partly explains why there are so many officers onboard Federation ships and not many enlisted. His understanding of the Navy also seems rooted in that area, and it carried over into Star Trek.

    For example, the warp nacelles. They are ostensibly mounted on struts because they are dangerously radioactive and they might need to be ejected. However, this makes no sense to anyone who knows that there's an antimatter reactor at the heart of all Starfleet ships and no one seems to give two flips about how dangerous, explosive, and radioactive that obviously is...

    ... except hold up one minute. The whole antimatter core is fully a product of the motion picture series and later TV shows. In the original 1966-1969 series there was no reference to any reactor at all! Dilithium crystals, yes, and they were somehow necessary for powering the ship, but it wasn't explained. It was all very vague. In fact, if you look at the engineering room in TOS it almost looks like that nacelles are the reactors, feeding down to engineering to distribute power across the rest of the ship.

    Once you realize that Roddenberry has simply extrapolated 1940s and 1950s technology into space, suddenly things make more sense. For example, the nacelles are quite obviously boilers, machines which power the ship and everything else on board. Without it, a ship cannot move, fire, or do anything else.

    Boilers are also hot and dangerous, which explains why Roddenberry would want them kept away from the crew. And of course, the more boilers you have, the faster and more powerful the ship is, which means that more nacelles mean a beefier ship and therefore fewer nacelles mean a weaker one. Some of you no doubt recall the old one-nacelle Saladin class ship from Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual and others the Larson class from the old FASA Star Trek RPG as examples of ships both smaller and weaker than the Enterprise, but if you want something more canonical, how about the TNG-era Freedom class or the alternate timeline USS Kelvin? And in the opposite direction, we have the four-nacelled Cheyanne, Constellation and Prometheus ships.

    How does this all tie in with Prelude to Axanar? This article is already getting long, so I'll save that explanation for next time, but here's a teaser:

    Friday, March 15, 2019

    Official Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols statement on the New Zealand mosque terror attack

    Do not allow yourself to be programmed by the perpetrator's attempts to influence your thinking. 

    His entire intent was to do just that in the most brutal and horrific way possible. Extreme acts get past our mental filters and allow whatever those acts carry to get into our minds. This was an attempt to project an image upon the walls of our psyches, to overshadow our thinking and to instill his own agenda into our brains.

    Deny him this.

    If you allow his acts of brutality to turn you against your fellows, to lash out at YouTubers, to try to enact laws depriving others of their rights, to vilify in any way people who were not there and had no part in the horror show of this man's acts, then you serve the deeper purposes of that murdering lunatic and you should be ashamed.

    Deny him this.

    Instead, think upon the people who were brutally murdered by this sick individual, murdered so that he could force his memetic poison into your brains and cause you to take it up and transmit it onward.

    Deny him this by thinking with compassion for those whose lives came to an untimely end, and the loved ones they leave behind. Cast aside his viral program of division, hate, and evil, and instead reach out with love to those who survived.

    Remember Christchurch.

    Do not be manipulated by Christchurch.

    Act with compassion.

    Monday, March 11, 2019

    ACP Episode 045: .45 ACP

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d talk about Massachusetts state police abuse of seized firearms;
    • Weer'd fisks Dr. Jeff Swanson and his endorsement of Red Flag Laws;
    • Oddball discusses the advantages and drawbacks of karambit knives;
    • and David details malfunctions related to firearm function and how to correct them.
    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic
    Weer’d Audio Fisk
    Oddball’s Corner Pocket
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

    Thursday, March 7, 2019

    Unknown Armies Episode 3

    This episode has a few potential titles:
    • Infodump
    • Wandering Jude
    • Scavenger Hunt
    • Just Because It Isn't Illegal or Immoral Doesn't Mean It's Not Some Freaky Shit

    Unlike last week, this episode is a self-contained adventure. Episode 4 will be in 2 weeks (I'm trading weeks with my Pathfinder GM who is dealing with family issues).

    Monday, March 4, 2019

    ACP Episode 044: Beware of Squib Loads

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d talk about LibertyCon and their short-notice change in venue;
    • David continues his series on firearms cleaning and maintenance, this time explaining various ammunition malfunctions;
    • Oddball gives us his observations on the Benchmade knife debacle;
    • and in the name of bipartisanship, Weer'd brings us a fisk of Republican and former Ohio governor John Kasich in an anti-gun CNN interview

    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers
    Weer’d Audio Fisk

    Thursday, February 28, 2019

    Failure is Advancement: A House Rule for Unknown Armies

    I've been thinking about my UA game and listening to the recording as a kind of after-action report, and I've come to a few conclusions:
    1. PCs are going to suck at most skill rolls in a stress situation unless they're either really high or are fore an Obsession skill, and
    2. Advancement, while regular, is pretty slow. 
    Neither one of these is inherently bad, but in concert they can be frustrating.

    For example, Adrastia has a Drive skill of 25%. That's not the best in the group, but it's pretty good and better than the default score of 15%. Now in Unknown Armies, there are three kinds of rolls: Minor, Significant, and Major. 
    • Minor skill checks are trivially easy and the kind of thing that we do all the time, like driving through traffic. With a minor check, if you have a 15% in the skill, you succeed automatically, so you'd only fail if you were learning the skill, didn't have the skill, or were impaired from drugs or damage. 
    • Significant skill checks are harder than trivial but there's no stress to them. These are what I call "job checks" because you do them on a regular basis, like at your job. If you roll under your skill then you succeed strongly, but so long as you roll under your stat, you succeed weakly. The average stat in a UA game is 55%, so that gives slightly better than average chances at success. 
    • Major skills checks, though, are serious life or death things. They happen in combat and any other kind of stressful situation where a screwup could mean injury or worse. Players MUST roll under their skill rating to succeed, and this is where disaster lurks, because while Adrastia is better at driving than most people she isn't a trained combat driver, and in situations where such driving is necessary she has a 75% chance of failure. 
    Like the combat rules, these numbers are harsh and probably realistic. It's one of the things which make UA a horror, or perhaps terror, game. There's a good chance that if the shit hits the fan, you're gonna die. 

    Now all of this is cool. I can enjoy high-stakes games, and UA characters aren't especially hard to make. But I wonder, I worry, if that realism paired with slow advancement and limited XP will result in players frustrated at their inability to get things done. 

    So I think I'm going to take a cue from my game Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome (which, ironically enough, is based off the UA game engine, hence the name) and use the concept of "We learn more from our failures than from our successes" to give my PCs a slightly faster form of advancement that won't make them too powerful too quickly. 

    Here's the rule: Every time a player character fails a Major skill roll, the player puts a check next to that skill. There can never be more than one check next to a skill, so multiple failures earn nothing. At the end of game session, each skill with a check next to it increases by 1%. 

    Here are the limiting factors:
    1. It has to be a Major skill check, meaning in combat or similar. 
    2. The skill only gets one boost per game session. 
    3. It cannot raise a skill above the hard cap of an attribute stat, and those can only be raised through XP. 
    Yes, I am aware that this can be abused by player fishing for skill checks in combat. If they want to waste their turn whoring for advancement at the risk of failing the mission and/or the lives of their characters, that's on them. 

    I expect there will be rapid improvement in low-level skills that get used a lot during stress situations -- as is proper, I feel -- which will taper off once the 50% level is reached. Of course, if the players spend XP to improve a skill further, that will only accelerate the drop-off. 

    There may be other ways to game this system, but I'm not thinking of any. If you can I'd like to know about them. 

    Wednesday, February 27, 2019

    Unknown Armies Episode 2

    The conclusion to the adventure I began last week!

    My players enjoyed the weirdness and mindfuckery, so it looks like I'm going to be running (and recording) more episodes of Unknown Armies in the future.

    In hindsight, I probably should have had the homeless man sit bolt upright and deliver his lines right as the bus was spinning out of control, just to add to the general WTFery and to head off the expected "PCs want to murder him now" motions. Having him simply not be there when they wake up would have given them more agency than him leaving before they'd recovered their wits.

    Ah well, live and learn. I've made a note of it for next time.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2019

    My LTUE Experience in Pictures

    If you've listened to this week's episode of the Assorted Calibers Podcast, you've heard my recounting of events at the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium in Utah. I'm not going to tell those stories again, but what I will do is give you some photographs to go with them.

    Thursday: Fundamentals of Self-Defense Law

    Despite the name, this panel was more like "Gun Owners Talk About Things Modern Entertainment Gets Wrong About Firearms."  This series of pictures is from where I described the plot of an Arrow episode where bad guys stole industrial diamonds and used them to tip bullets so they could shoot through police kevlar.

    Not shown is where LawDog (left) was beating his head against the table in frustration at the plot stupidity -- I think I caused him actual physical pain and I was worried I'd broken him -- but you can see his anguished reactions.

    Friday: Oppressing a Gender, Race, or Species

    I have no photographs from this panel, unfortunately. In my opinion it wasn't very spectacular so you aren't missing anything.

    Saturday: Warfare in the Age of Drones and Robots

    This is the one you've been waiting for: the International Lord of Hate being presented with an Operation Blazing Sword shirt.

    Yes, my hair is different in these photos. I had a wig malfunction and I replaced it with a backup. I think this one looks better anyway.

    I wish to state for the record that I got permission from Mrs. Correia before taking this pose. To her credit, she thought it was hilarious.

    And here we have Larry Correia posing with a transwoman. Notice how he isn't afraid to put his arm around me. Notice how he doesn't mind that my hand is on his chest. Notice he's smiling so hard he's squinting.

    The man is a giant teddy bear.

    Monday, February 25, 2019

    ACP Episode 043: 40 Degrees of Temperature Swing

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d talk about their travels last week, with Erin at the Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium and Weer'd at Disney World;
    • They also discuss how the anti-gunners only care if you're a victim of gun violence if you choose to be anti-gun afterwards;
    • David continues his series on firearm maintenance with a segment on cleaning and inspecting guns;
    • Weer'd brings us part 2 of the horrible anti-gun musical number called The Birds and the BS;
    • and the ACP House Dick tells us about collecting evidence for cases and how that can play out in court.

    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic
    Weer’d Audio Fisk

    Sunday, February 24, 2019

    Unknown Armies Episode 1

    So I've acquired a bit of a reputation as a weird-yet-skilled RPG gamemaster, and people frequently say things like "Your games must be a blast" or "I wish I could play with you."

    Well, while I can't let everyone in the world play with me (oo-er, missus!) I can let you listen in on a game session.

    Last Wednesday, I ran an adventure for the Unknown Armies RPG to fill in for my currently Pathfinder GM who's been dealing with family problems. UA is a weird, fun little game that not many people have heard about. It's an urban fantasy role-playing game that's hard to describe, so I'll toss out a few similes:
    • It's the game people wanted Mage: the Ascension to be, all gritty and street level instead of high-minded and cosmic. 
    • It's the game you'd get if Hunter S. Thompson wrote a Vertigo comic. 
    • In the words of one of the game's writers, it's about "Power and Consequences". 
    • In the words of another, it's a game about a "Bunch of skeevy weirdos trying to undermine the fundaments of reality because no one else had the brass to try it".
    So yeah, that's the game. Urban fantasy with some horror and brutality and high weirdness... and I recorded our first session. I've been given permission by all of my players to make the recording public, so if you're interested in giving it a listen, here's the link to download it, or you can just hit play below.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Some "Inside Baseball" on Three-Line Rifle

    In part 11 Bronia says syet, which is the Bogatyr distress code for attempted psychic domination or possession. It means "net", which is short for "network".

    (Personally, I think that's pretty cool. It's a one-syllable word so it's quick to say, which is great for distress codes, and if someone is trying to take over your mind or your body then they're kind of trying to form a network, right?)

    The problem with this is that syet isn't a proper transcription of the word. That would be set', with an apostrophe at the end. According to professional translator Yuri Mikhailovich, the ' is a palatization, which is when one moves one's tongue to the roof of the mouth when pronouncing a consonant. In Russia this is called "softening" a consonant, and to English speakers it often sounds like a very short e sound.

    This was a dilemma for me. Having an accessible pronunciation is important because I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and if this story is ever read aloud I want it done properly.  Readers can muddle their way through spasiba and tovarisch, but will they know how to pronounce a Russian ' ? They'll just think it's "set" with a typographical error.

    Using the Cyrillic spelling isn't any better; that would be сеть. English speakers aren't going to know how the hell to say that.

    So what I did was settle on a compromise spelling. Syet is accessible to regular readers -- it's like nyet only with an S instead of an N -- and it sounds enough like set' that only the fluent will know it's not correct and only the purists will be offended.

    And now you know.

    Monday, February 11, 2019

    ACP Episode 042: Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d are slightly tipsy and get VERY silly;
    • Erin ponders the concept of politics as generational warfare;
    • Oddball gives us a discussion on general knife safety;
    • David presents a primer on gun cleaning;
    • Weer'd brings us another audio fisk, this time in Musical Theater format;
    • and Steve talks about what snow days are like for a private detective.

    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic

    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

    Weer’d Audio Fisk:

    Wednesday, February 6, 2019

    My Schedule of Upcoming Events & Appearances through May

    I am going to be a busy little bee for the next few months!

    February 14-16
    I will be a panelist at the Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium in Provo, Utah. Here are the dates and topics of the panels if you want to hear me talk or just ask for a hug:

    Fundamentals of Self-Defense Law
    Thursday, Feb 14 @ 3 PM
    To one degree or another, every society recognizes the right to self-defense, yet this is a field of law filled with dangerous myths. We will discuss what differentiates self defense from murder, fighting, and accidents.

    Seed Questions:
    • What are the fundamental elements of self defense?  
    • How have these elements changed over time, and how do they vary over different States and countries?  
    • What is the difference between killing in self defense, manslaughter, and murder? 
    • What makes self defense different from fighting?  
    • How might a fight transform into something where self defense can be claimed?  
    • What factors might lead to a prosecutor deciding whether or not to press charges?  
    • What do individuals do to avoid having to act in self defense, and how might these actions help them if they have to act in self defense

    Oppressing a Gender, Race, or Species
    Friday, Feb 15, @ 1 PM
    A discussion on how a society might oppress or enslave a gender, a race, or a species.

    Seed Questions:
    • What is the difference between differentiation of roles of people, and systemic oppression?
    • How does oppression in a society arise? 
    • What kinds of movements typically threaten this oppression?  
    • What role do cultural norms play in the creation of an oppressive society?  
    • What kinds government infrastructure are necessary to sustain systemic oppression?  
    • What do oppressed people do to subvert the system of oppression, even when they cannot change the system? 
    • What do oppressed people do to threaten a system of oppression, and what do people in power do to keep the oppressed in line?

    Warfare in the Age of Drones and Robots
    Saturday, Feb 16 @ 4 PM 
    We have unmanned drones and remote-controlled robots to aid us in our fighting endeavors. How do those guys with hundred-year-old Enfield bolt-action rifles still stand a chance?

    Seed Questions: 
    • What role do drones and robots have in helping us fight wars?  
    • What are their advantages and limitations?
    • How does operating a drone psychologically affect the pilot of that drone?  
    • How do people facing drones and robots adjust their strategies in fighting wars?
    • In particular, what role does the soldier with the 100-year-old Enfield bolt-action rifle have in this new landscape for warfare?  
    • How might these tools be used in a civil war?  What political and societal factors might prevent these tools from being used?

    March 2
    I'll be at the first ever joint shooting event between the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami-Dade Pink Pistols chapters in Homestead, FL!

    April 17

    I'll be a speaker the University of Mary Washington's Second Annual 2A Day at the UMW Hurley Convergence Center. I don't know when I'll be speaking, but the event runs from 4pm to 7pm.

    April 26-28

    The NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis is a business trip for me this year. I don't know how available I'll be during the day, but I should be free in the evenings to meet people, hang out, and of course have dinner.

    May 31 - June 2

    My first ever LibertyCon! Unlike everything else on this page, this one is primarily a fun trip, although it's almost certain that I'll be repping Operation Blazing Sword and Pink Pistols by talking about them to various people.

    If you're attending any of these events, please drop me a line so I can coordinate with meeting you!

    This picture has nothing to do with the rest of the post. I just wanted to share it because it's AWESOME

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    ACP Episode 041: SHOT Through the Heart

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss a very interesting defensive gun use in Massachusetts, and then ooh and ahh over what we saw from social media coverage of SHOT Show;
    • Egghead tells us about a nice little prepper tool for electronics, the Buck/Boost Converter;
    • In Gun Lovers & Other Strangers, David explains the Jewish concept of tikkun olam and why we should practice it at the range;
    • and much to Erin's chagrin, Weer'd brings us part two of his fisk of the Vox anti-NRA Hit piece.

    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic

    General Purpose Egghead

    Weer’d Audio Fisk

    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

    Sunday, February 3, 2019

    Christians, Pacifism, and The Jesus Number

    This was originally the Main Topic of episode 146 of the GunBlog VarietyCast. It has been transcribed and updated for your convenience. 

    I am a Christian. I also carry a firearm for self-defense. Others might consider this contradictory, but I do not.

    I am thoroughly sick of the notion that in order to be a good Christian, one has to be such a pacifist that "Turn the other cheek" has become "Go limp and allow yourself to be victimized." That's a misinterpretation of Jesus' commands, and I'm going to prove it.

    Let's start with the Old Testament. I know that everyone thinks that the Sixth Commandment says "Thou Shalt Not Kill", but the proper Hebrew translation for it is Thou Shalt Not Murder. This is an incredibly important distinction, because while the Bible contains many prohibitions against unlawful killing there are just as many rules for lawful killing when it comes to capital punishment, warfare, and yes, self-defense, and some of these are direct Commandments from God Himself.

    Second, the statement by Jesus to turn the other cheek is a prohibition against carrying grudges and seeking revenge and a commandment that we strive to forgive those who wrong us; it is not a commandment to allow people to victimize us without resistance. I say this based upon three events from the Gospels:

    1) Jesus intervened to prevent an adulterous woman from being stoned to death. He didn't turn the other cheek; He saw the inherent value of her life in the face of a crowd who wanted her dead. 

    2) Jesus made a whip and went into the temple where the money changers and livestock sellers were defiling His Father's house and he knocked over tables and drove the cattle out. It's unclear if the whip was used on the people, or if it was just to drive away the sheep and cattle; either way cracking the whip and knocking over tables is pretty darn intimidating. He didn't turn the other cheek; He acted to prevent what He saw a desecration. 

    3) In Luke 22:36, Jesus Himself told His disciples that if any of them did not have a sword, they should sell their cloaks -- a very important article of clothing -- and buy swords. Now it's worth pointing out the sword is unlike a knife or a club:
    • Knives are tools that are used to cut things; you can use them for eating, or making things, or repairing things, or carving items out of wood. 
    • A club can be a hammer to make or repair things; it can be used for hunting to gather food, and it can be used to separate grain from husks while farming. 
    • A sword however has one purpose: to kill human beings. It is specifically designed and optimized for that, and Jesus told His disciples to purchase and carry one if they didn't have one because He would no longer be present to protect them.
    • What's more, the original Greek word translated into English as "sword" is machaira. It is a short, single-edged weapon; basically a large knife or a dagger, possibly as long as a short sword. In other words, it was too large to be a practical tool but too small to be a weapon of war; it was specifically a weapon of self-defense. In other words, it was the concealed pistol of its time. 
    This brings us to something that I have started calling The Jesus Number. When Jesus told His disciples to buy swords, they responded with " 'Lord, behold: here are two swords' and He said unto them, 'It is enough.'" Two swords out of 12 disciples were considered sufficient; that's one in six or roughly 17 percent of the Disciples. And yes, I'm counting Judas in this; Jesus' command to buy a sword (Luke 22:36) came before Judas's betrayal (Luke 22:47).

    So how many armed Americans does it take to fulfill the Jesus Number? Let's run some numbers.
    • As of August 2018, there are 17.25 million concealed carry permits in the United States
    • The adult population of the USA, also as of August 2018, is 252,063,800 people.
    • According to Jesus, 17% of that adult population -- 42,850,846 people -- should be carrying a weapon for self-defense. 
    • However, 17.25 million of 252 million means that only 6.845% of the total adult population of the country has a license to carry a concealed weapon (up from 6.0% in 2017). 
    (Disclaimer: These are rough numbers that don't account for various factors such as individuals having non-resident carry permits in addition to a resident permit; people in states where permits aren't needed because constitutional carry is the law of the land; or for states which require an adult to be older than 18 to have a concealed carry license.)
    Given these numbers, we can see that the United States needs two and a half times the number of armed individuals that Jesus considered sufficient for self-defense. Almost seven percent of the population has a concealed carry permit, and yet according to the Prince of Peace that number is insufficient.

    I expect some of you are wondering how I can reconcile speaking of guns and peace in the same sentence. As explanation, I will close with an excellent bit of philosophy that was told to me by Gwen Patton, First Speaker Emeritus for the Pink Pistols:
    When used properly, within the law and prevailing custom, guns do not create violence; they negate it. They are 180 degrees out of phase with violence and thus neutralize it. The true core of violence is that it violates law and custom. Violence is force, but not all force is violence. Some forms of force neutralize violence and create peace.
    When one engages in self-defense, one applies force in the exact measure necessary to stop a violent attack; no more and no less. One stays within the law and within local custom, and one respects that, even though they perpetrated violence, the violator still has rights and while their violence deserves no respect, their humanity does. Those who engage in violence, by definition, do not respect the humanity of their targets.
    Correctly performed self-defense is the act of bringing peace into existence. Peace is not avoiding violence. Peace is an action, not the absence of action. Peace is the negation of violence.
    To me, this quote illustrates the difference between pacifism and non-violence. I like to think of pacifism as "Don't start none, won't be none" whereas nonviolence is "Even if you start something, there won't be anything; I'll just roll over and take it." Such extremes of philosophy might be a perfectly valid choice for you, but it is a core of my beliefs that no one has the right to make that choice for anyone else.

    There are people who love me and who depend on me, and nobody has the  right to take me away from them.

    That's why this Christian carries a gun.

    Monday, January 28, 2019

    ACP Episode 040: F***ing Vox, Man!

    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer’d discuss some listener feedback and the re-introduced Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill;
    • Oddball talks about knife prices, and when it's a good time to spend the money and when too much is too much;
    • Weer'd Fisks Vox news in a hit piece on the NRA;
    • and the Egghead gives us part two in his series on the innovations and merits of the AR-10 rifle.

    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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

    Show Notes

    Main Topic

    Oddball's Corner Pocket

    Weer’d Audio Fisk

    The Fine Print

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

    Creative Commons License

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