Monday, October 19, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 123: A Show of Stupids

   


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the ATF ruling that the Honey Badger AR pistol is now an SBR for... reasons, then examine the fatal shooting of a protester by a non-licensed "security guard" in Denver;
  • Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on keeping your shooting skills sharp in an ammo drought;
  • and finally Steve breaks down the details on the militia group who attempted to kidnap Governor Whitmer of Michigan.




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Show Notes

Main Topic:


Tales from the Trunk

 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Claiming “Sexual Preference is Offensive” is Biphobic


As of October 14, 2020, the phrase “sexual preference” is now considered offensive by certain people and already efforts are being made to scrub it from our lexicon. It looks like it falls upon me, your friendly neighborhood lesbian transwoman, to explain why this is nonsense.

First, let me explain why some (not all, some) people would take offense. Using the word “preference” over “orientation”, it is argued, presents sexuality as a matter of taste which can be overridden if necessary: “I prefer apples, but I will eat pears” is equated to “I, a gay man, prefer men but will date women if I must.” It presents sexual attraction as a choice, and that presentation is offensive to gay men, lesbians, and presumably straight people who don’t have better things to be upset about.

Dear offended people: Do you not know any bisexuals?

No, I’m not being sarcastic; I am legitimately asking if you know any, because I don’t think you do. I know several of them, and they are not all split down the middle when it comes to sexual attraction. Here’s how my unofficial poll worked out:

  • Bisexual man. Prefers women 70% of the time (numbers approximate; he rated himself a 2 on the Kinsey Scale).
  • Bisexual woman. Specifically identifies as “hetero-flexible”:  100% heterosexual one-on-one, but in a setting of three or more people “60-40 to 75-25 straight depending on group dynamic and my mood”.
  • Bisexual man. “Emotionally speaking, I prefer males to females 70:30; physically, it varies varies wildly person to person but usually males 30%  to females 70%; romantically 50/50.”
  • Bisexual woman. “I lean a bit more toward men, but it varies. 65-75% hetero, depending on how recently I saw a really cute girl and/or was at a con.”
  • Bisexual man. “Pretty close to 50/50. I get different things from different genders, so it's kinda like asking if you prefer Pepsi or Ford, you know?”
  • Bisexual woman. Attraction is 60% men, 40% women.
  • Bisexual man. “Its more a case of ‘does this person interest me?’ so 50-50 I guess?”
  • Bisexual woman. “My orientation is bisexual, but I greatly prefer women. Probably 90-95% women, 5-10% men.”
  • Bisexual man. Basically 50-50, but only comfortable expressing or receiving homosexual intimacy when in the presence of a woman.
  • Bisexual man. “Pretty much 50/50.  I'm much more inclined towards genderfluid to be honest.  physical plumbing, gender expression, and the various shades of each aren't really part of the determining factors of whether I'm attracted to someone or not.”

See all those numbers which aren’t 50-50? That’s a preference. The orientation of these people is bisexual, but they each have preferences within that bisexuality: #1 prefers women; #2 prefers men; #3 has preferences which vary according to conditions and characteristics. None of them are wrong, because it’s impossible to be wrong when talking about what kind of adult human being attracts you. Telling them that “the phrase ‘sexual preference’ is offensive” is erasing what it means to be bisexual.

Finally, the term “preference” can be a powerful social tool when properly used, a tool which I and other queer people would be much poorer for losing. It can be used to shield the feelings of others and soften the blow of rejection to a friend; “I’m sorry, I just prefer other women” suggests that despite the fact there is no chemistry, you still want them around as a friend, whereas the sharper “I’m a lesbian” too often sounds brusque and dismissive, a “how dare you!” shutdown.

In less amiable situations, such as when approached by a stranger at the bar or other social event, such rejection can lead to harsh words and even violence. For their own safety, many gay women have used the phrase “I prefer women” to give themselves breathing room to look for an opportunity to get away, as many men will see that as a challenge to be overcome with guile rather than a shutdown which could elicit anger or worse.  I have used this phrase in both situations, and it has served me well. I will not give it up without a fight.

You are free not to like the phrase “sexual preference”. You are free to be offended by it. However, demanding that it no longer be used demeans bisexual people and their choices, and it robs queer people of a powerful tool to protect friendships and ensure safety. 

You mean well, but you are hurting people by contributing to bisexual erasure and a culture of biphobia. Sexual preferences do exist, and there’s nothing wrong with them. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 122: Politics or Paranoia?

 


 

In This Episode
Erin and Weer’d have more news to talk about!
  • Erin is angry about Facebook's wrongful declaration that her Blue Collar Prepping blog is "Spam" and "Violates Community Standards";
  • Weer'd discusses James O'Keefe of Project Veritas and how he was placed on a NICS denial list, and his subsequent lawsuit against the FBI;
  • then Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on redundancy and safety and redundancy;
  • and finally, Weer'd brings us another patented audio fisk, this time of the Brady Campaign's talking points against "Bad Apple Gun Dealers".




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Show Notes

Main Topic:


Independent Thoughts With Xander:


Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Unknown Armies: Hateboxing

Author's Note:  Holy crap, I can't believe I found this. I wrote it in another lifetime, and the computer where I kept it had a fatal hard drive crash [this was WELL before Google Documents existed], and the mailing list it was on went defunct. Praise be to the Internet Archive Project and the Wayback Machine! And let's all enjoy the irony of being able to recover a forgotten story which starts with the phrase "Because sometimes, you just want to forget."


Because sometimes, you just want to forget...

I've lost track of how much money I've spent trying to deal with the shit I've seen. It's been ten years since Poughkeepsie, and I still can't eat spaghetti. Sometimes I wake up screaming, the taste of blood thick in my mouth like tomato sauce.

Did I mention I'm Italian? Shit. I can't even eat Sunday dinner with my mama without having shakes.

Anyway. I see an ad in the paper one day, says Eliminate harmful dreams and memories using only common household tools, $100 for initial session and startup kit. Address is some third-floor walk-up in Queens. I figure, what the hell, worth a look, right? Considering how much I've flushed on goddamn therapy, a hundred is just another sheet of toilet paper at this rate.

So I get over there, find the brownstone's been converted to some kinda artists' commune. The entire place reeks, but its not weed, it's machine oil. They're all industrial types, making statues outta scrap metal with power tools. And this godawful German shit is playing, like they're hammering a goat on an anvil or something.

I manage to make it upstairs without getting tetanus, find apartment 33, bang on the door. This little tweedy guy opens it, and I swear to God he can't be more than twenty-five but he's dressed like my goddamn grandfather, with the suede patches on his jacket and a thick black tie and a pair of birth-control glasses like they had in the fifties. Except, of course, he's listening to the anvil-fuck chorus or whatever.

So he introduces himself as Trent, has me sit, makes me coffee. Now let me tell you, guys like this I expect to be twitchy as chihuahuas, but this bastard was relaxed. Smooth, even, like he had a 38D blonde girlfriend tied up in his bedroom.

So I drink his almond-flavored coffee and we talk for a bit. No, not about my problems, he doesn't give a shit about those. He asks to see my hands, seems pleased to see that I have callouses. He asks me if I've ever worked with machines before, and I say yeah, I tune my car's engine, change the oil, yadda yadda. He smiles this freaky-calm smile and says good, you have what it takes to build a hatebox.

About this time I think maybe, just maybe, I've stumbled into a fetish shop by mistake, and start to get up. No no, he says, I know what you're thinking, and it's not like that. He says, You know that sense of peace and satisfaction you get when you tune your car? and I say Yeah. So he says, Hateboxing is like that, but instead of working on a car, you're building a box to hold your emotions. Doesn't have to be hate, can be pain or fear or whatever, but he thinks hateboxing sounds best.

So I go, Okay, I sorta get you, but I've been working on my car for ten years, and it hasn't helped me sleep any better. He says, The trick is in the training. He points to a milk crate full of greasy parts and says, that's going to be your hatebox, and I'm going to help you build the frame.

There are rules to hateboxing, he says as he's taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. The first rule, he says, is that we can't use any tools that use electricity or hydraulics, it's all gotta be hand power. It's the sweat and effort, he says.

The second rule is that it's gotta be metal and wood. No plastic.

The third rule is that when I'm hateboxing, I can't think of the box. I have to think about the memory I want to get rid of. Because we aren't really trying to build anything, it's just something for our hands to do so that our minds can fall into, get this, a meditative state.

So I say, Wait a goddamn minute. This is meditation? Like clearing the mind, chanting, all that happy horseshit?

He says, Close. Chanting is for mystics, this is for practical people like him and me. This is Transcendental Mechanization. And he gives me that freaky calm smile.

So what the hell, I think, and he and I, we start the hatebox, there on his apartment floor. I dunno how long we work at it, because the time just seems to slip away. When we're done, it's dark outside, and I've got this cubic-foot box that looks like a reject from a high school metal shop. but for the first time in my life I don't feel like there's something breathing rotten anchovies down the back of my neck.

He says, That's your hatebox. Put all your negative emotions in it. Build on it, add stuff to it, expand on it. Then he gives me a strange look and says, Got a garage?

Got a garage? I live in fuckin' Brooklyn.

You'll need one, he says. And then I get this weird idea that maybe this entire building is his hatebox. And then I really fucking want to leave right then.

Whatever, I say. So I ask how much I owe, and he says, A hundred bucks for the materials. And any time I need more, I can come see him.

So, yeah. Anyway, I'm gonna go home, and work on this fucking thing, and maybe when I'm done I'm gonna have a big bowl of spaghetti.

-----------------

Game Rules
It's mechanomancy, only without the realization that something is being built. If you're a rules freak, I suppose you could say that a hateboxer is building a device that acts as a psychoanalyst and helps to remove failed notches in accordance with the madness rules. But really, the entire point of hateboxing is turning the charging structure of mechanomancy into a tool for eliminating memories.

(For some strange reason, I have an image of Dexter, from the Dexter's Lab cartoon, and his continuous tightening of the same nut-and-bolt assembly, as a kind of hateboxing.)

Trent assumes that most hateboxers will break taboo enough times to keep anything truly scary from being built. But eventually, a hateboxer will find a way to infuse his box with a major charge. The results of a Major-Effect Clockwork, infused with negative emotions, should be as spectacular as they are destructive.

-----------------

Here are some follow-up notes and ideas, based off the feedback I received:

1) "I keep seeing a man working on his artificial leg. Half way through, he forgets how he lost his leg, tears apart the artificial leg, remembers, and begins to work again."

2) "What happens to the trapped memories? Can those failed notches be slapped around random if, say, the box is lobbed like a grenade? Or what happens if little Jimmy finds Grandma Pandora's little hopechest and, thinking there's pirate treasure inside, opens the lid? Does little Jimmy get a headful of bad memories and failed notches?Could be a good plot hook and trigger event."

3) "I saw the word 'hopechest' and immediately thought of a hatebox usedfor the opposite of its intended purpose.

"Imagine, say, an undercover cop. He's infiltrated a gang of real bastards, and found out he's just not enough of a bastard himself to keep his cover for long. One day when he's feeling superstitious, he remembers Trent, and remembers him saying you can store any emotion in a hatebox. So he builds one to store everything that's good and decent in him.

"It worked like a charm, and now this guy is the ultimate bastard, Hardened all the way, so extreme he manages to neatly fill the requirements for one of the nastier archetypes. And he's right in the PC's backyard, learning just enough about the Occult Underground to become a threat for everyone involved.

"Learning about the hopechest and making him into a good guy again seems like a good idea for a few adventures - it would be the best option for dealing with him, since direct combat would result in a very high body count."

4) [follow-up to #4] 

"Nice thought... when all his good memories return, he realizes how far down he's fallen, and eats his gun in grief.

"You did it."

Monday, October 5, 2020

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 121: Who's Been Hiding This News Story?


 

In This Episode
Erin and Weer’d have some news to talk about!
  • We look at Amy Coney Barret's ruling on felons and guns;
  • then we talk about Google cataloging gun serial numbers from photographs;
  • Erin discusses a story on the Bumpstock ban that you might not have heard about;
  • and we note that Everytown for Gun Safety seems to have abandoned guns in their political ads.
  • Then, Xander talks about permits and the need to stay familiar with your skills;
  • and finally, David brings us a history lesson on the Three-Line Rifle.




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Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Pathfinder Prestige Class: The Plutomancer

This is a re-work of a class I wrote in 2009. Hopefully this is a better version. 



Tangible rewards in the form of money are staples of dungeon adventuring, yet sometimes extracting those riches is a herculean task: art objects, luxurious furniture, multi-ton adamantine doors and dragon hoards filled with millions of copper and silver coins are all valuable, yet exceptionally difficult to transport for sale. Likewise, a struggling dungeon delver is often frustrated by his inability to sell his hard-won gains at anything near what they cost on the market; half price seems to be the default unless advanced haggling rules are used. And may the gods help you if your Game Master knows anything about economics and decides to rule that you have flooded the local economy with gold and driven up  the prices of even the most basic goods and services.

The solution to all of these dilemmas is the Plutomancer prestige class. Whether a cleric in service to a god whose portfolio involves greed, commerce, or thievery, or a mage who exemplifies the classic struggle to turn lead into gold, the Plutomancer is a welcome addition to any party by the simple expedient of acting as a force multiplier for looting.

(Author's Note: In terms of what this class brings to the table, i.e. mainly flavor,  non-combat skill bonuses, and more efficient looting of treasure, it ought to be a class archetype and not a prestige class. However, making this a compatible archetype for multiple classes is more effort than I want to go through, and I do want this available to arcanists, clerics, oracles, and wizards. Therefore I have made it a five-level PrC with a low entry that player characters can dip into as they see fit.)

Requirements
Feats: Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Craft: Alchemy)
Spells: Ability to cast Locate Object, plus either Blood Money or Stone Shape and at least one other transmutation spell of 3rd level or higher.

Class Skills
The Plutomancer's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise, Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (Local), Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (History), Linguistics, Perception, Profession (Merchant), Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device.
Skill Ranks Per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features
Hit Die: d6.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Plutomancers gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.
Spells per Day/Spells Known: When a new Plutomancer level is gained, the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if she had also gained a level in a spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds her Plutomancer levels to the level of some other spellcasting class she has, and then determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.

Class Abilities
LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecialSpells per Day
1st+0+0+0+1Bling, Mind on my Money+1 level of existing class
2nd+1+1+1+1Deep Pockets 1, Money on my Mind +1 level of existing class
3rd+1+1+1+2Moneychanger, Secret Chest+1 level of existing class
4th+2+1+1+2Deep Pockets 2, Pawnbroker+1 level of existing class
5th+2+2+2+3Fence From Beyond, Flesh to Ore+1 level of existing class

Bling (Su)
The Plutomancer adds the spell Blood Money to their spell list if it is not already listed.

Additionally, all spells give more expensive-seeming results: Create Food and Water will make a sumptuous feast with fine wine; Mage Armor garbs the caster in finery, etc. This is an Illusionary effect.
Mind on my Money (Ex)
The Plutomancer may use their Wisdom or Charisma modifier instead of Intelligence for the Appraise skill. Additionally, when selling items they may gain +10% resale value for each level of Plutomancer. If they choose to do so they cannot use alternate means to increase the sale price, such as through the use of Diplomacy or spells. 
Example: a Plutomancer wants to sell a 100 gp item. Normally that item sells for 50 gp. A 1st level Plutomancer sells it for (50+[10%*50]) or 55 gold, a 3rd level Plutomancer sells it for 65 gold, and a 5th level sells it for 75 gold.
Deep Pockets 1 (Su)
The Plutomancer is immune to encumbrance effects from coins, gems and jewelry; they effectively weigh nothing. Futhermore, extradimensional storage items such as Portable Holes and Bags of Holding weigh 50% less and can carry 50% more (both weight and volume) when within 50 feet of a Plutomancer. If a magic item which is packed beyond its base capacity leaves this radius, it disgorges items at random until the weight and/or volume overload is equalized. 

Secret Chest loaded with this ability is an exception to this rule and does not disgorge its contents when sent to the Ethereal Plane.

Money on my Mind (Ex)
The Plutomancer gains a bonus equal to their caster level to all Perception skill checks for finding treasure, or for detecting another's use of Sleight of Hand to steal from them. Additionally, when buying items they may subtract 5% from the purchase price for each level of Plutomancer. If they choose to do so they cannot use alternate means to decrease the sale price, such as through the use of Diplomacy or spells. 
Example: a Plutomancer wants to buy a 100 gp item. A 1st level Plutomancer purchases it for (100-[5%*100]) or 95 gold, a 3rd level Plutomancer purchases it for 85 gold, and a 5th level purchases it for 75 gold.

    Moneychanger (Sp)
    The Plutomancer adds the spell Stone Shape to their spell list if it is not already listed. 

    A number of times per day equal to their level in this class, a Plutomancer may transmute currency and gems, but not other types of valuables, into other forms of currency and/or gems. (For example, 40,000 copper coins become 40 platinum coins; useful for hauling away a dragon hoard). Any amount of currency may be transmuted in this manner, but it must all be touching and the Plutomancer must be able to touch at least one of the valuables. 

    The transmuted coins, bank notes, trade bars etc. all retain their other characteristics such as size, weight, portraits, etc. of their country of origin; however, a successful Linguistics skill check will change these characteristics into whichever details the Plutomancer desires, be it the design of another country or even a wholly original design. 

    Secret Chest (Sp)
    Once per day, the Plutomancer may summon and dismiss a Secret Chest as if they cast the spell. The masterwork chest and its miniature replica must still be purchased, although Money on my Mind may be used to reduce the cost. Unlike the spell, the chest does not disappear after 60 days, although it is still lost if the miniature chest is lost or destroyed. 

    Deep Pockets 2 (Su)
    Coins, gems and jewelry have neither weight nor volume when a Plutomancer loads them into extradimensional storage, such as a Portable Hole, Handy Haversack, Bag of Holding or a Secret Chest. 

    Pawnbroker (Sp)
    Once per day a Plutomancer can, with a touch, convert up to 100 pounds per caster level of non-living objects into their worth in gold coins, as determined by an Appraisal skill check (magical items get a saving throw vs. DC 10 + one-half spellcaster level + spellcasting attribute modifier; living items and artifacts are unaffected). 

    Note that this value is based upon intrinsic material worth, not weight or artistry; even a ton of stone is still only worth 1 gold, and a masterpiece painting is nothing but pigments on canvas, so converting objects of art into coins will yield less than their cultural worth. 

    Pawnbroker only affects free-standing objects and not those which are attached to, and therefore could be considered parts of, a larger object. Furthermore, a large  item cannot be partially converted; the conversion must be all or nothing. 

    Pawnbroker may be used to convert a Flesh to Ore victim into currency.

    Fence From Beyond (Sp)
    The Plutomancer always has someone they can call to help facilitate commerce. Once a day they can conjure (calling) a mercane (for magical items) or a witchwyrd (for more mundane valuables) for buying or selling goods. This ability is a variant on summoning, not calling, and the summoned creature will only trade with the Plutomancer. The Plutomancer may use Mind on my Money and Money on my Mind to try and improve any deals; the Fence's attitude starts out at Indifferent

    Whether or not a Fence From Beyond buys the Plutomancer's wares is at the GM's discretion, as is if the Fence has any rare or magical items for sale. Highly specific or unusual requests may require the merchant to "get back with the Plutomancer on that one" (GM's discretion whether the merchant is successful or not). A Fence From Beyond will not buy living creatures, or creatures that were once living but are no longer, such as those converted by Flesh to Ore.

    The Fence will not engage in combat or do anything else except buy or sell, and will leave the moment they are attacked. A Fence From Beyond injured or cheated by the Plutomancer or their associates will leave and not return, spreading the word that the Plutomancer is not to be trusted; an atonement at a rate of 1,000 gp per character level is sufficient to buy back the Fence's indifference. A Fence From Beyond killed in such a manner, or by being summoned into danger, requires 2,500 gp per character level of atonement. 

    Flesh to Ore (Sp)
    Once per week, the Plutomancer may cast Flesh to Ore as a Spell-Like Ability (DC 10 + one-half spellcaster level + spellcasting attribute modifier). This is nearly identical to Flesh to Stone, but there are veins of gemstones and precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, etc, but not special materials like mithril or adamantine) worth 300 gp per caster level throughout the stone. 

    This gold cannot be removed without destroying the statue.

    Thursday, October 1, 2020

    BCP Unwelcome on Facebook

    Not actually Erin.
    & is used with permission.
    Yesterday, Facebook decided that my Blue Collar Prepping blog "violates community standards" and removed all links to it from both personal pages and our dedicated FB group.

    I appealed this decision and was informed -- well, when I say "informed" I mean "I checked the support center because certainly no one from Facebook contacted me about this" -- that the matter was closed. Furthermore, I discovered that for reasons which Facebook has not disclosed, we have somehow been labeled as a spam site.



    Our readers know this, but I should like to point out for the sake of completeness that Blue Collar Prepping does not sell anything. Therefore, even if we did engage in spam tactics -- which we do not -- they would be completely useless to us in any event.

    Furthermore, whenever anyone tries to post a new link, they receive the following message:



    I have appealed this decision with Facebook via an email to a support liaison, which should result in this matter being reviewed by a team rather than an algorithm. While I hope that this resolves the issue quickly, we have taken actions to move ourselves, and not incidentally our followers and their profitable-to-social-media-for-advertising-purposes attention and clicks, over to MeWe. Please go to https://mewe.com/join/bcp1 to join our new MeWe BCP group!


    The Fine Print


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

    Creative Commons License


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