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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Traveller Thursday: Life Support

I'm not 100% back to writing about Traveller. I just happened to have a sudden realization about something that has been bugging me for years and I wanted to write it down before I forgot.

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

The thing which bugs me most about ship design in Mongoose Traveller is that there's no mention of life support. I realize that life support has been ex post facto folded into stateroom tonnage, but that doesn't quite make sense because stateroom tonnage has already been explained as covering both the rooms themselves and the common areas.

(Quick digression for those who don't recall what I'm talking about: in Traveller, staterooms displace 4 tons but in most deckplans they are displayed as only displacing 3. That extra dton is allocated for corridors, common rooms and the like. The problem is, when you get anal and decide to count how many dtons of corridors and room space there are, it adds up to way more than the number of staterooms in the ship.)

What's funny is that I realized the actual number of staterooms doesn't matter. What matters is "How many people can you cram onto a ship", and that's actually a completely different question than "How many staterooms are there", because you could fit a bunch of refugees into an empty cargo bay. No, what matters is how much food, air and water they consume. In other words, we need to calculate how many dtons of life support one person requires.

So let's work this out:
  • One person in a low berth displaces 1/2 dton and requires no life support. 
  • Because people who aren't in cold sleep need food, water, oxygen, and space to move around, let's double that for human-sized crew. 
    • K'kree and other livestock-sized animals displace twice that amount. 
    • Hivers also displace the same amount of space as humans; we just think they take up more space because their longest axis is horizontal whereas ours is vertical. 
  • Since everything is based around the standard jump time of 1 week, let's assume that life support dtonnage is done by the week. This reflects food that needs to be bought, filters that need to be changed out, waste that needs recycling into water, etc. 
  • Don't forget that transit time to and from the jump point, so you probably should have 2 weeks per person. This could probably be extended in an emergency through rationing and depressurizing non-inhabited parts of the ship, but that's a subject for a different article. 
  • This gives us a hasty figure of 2 dtons per person for a commercial ship -- or half a stateroom, which is in line with the core rules when they say "No stateroom can contain more than two persons, as it would strain the ship’s life support equipment." This seems reasonable and tells me I'm on the right track. 
  • But what about ships that stay on station for weeks or months at a time, like Scouts on survey or the military on patrol? Well, this is handily addressed in High Guard (1st edition High Guard, to be clear -- I don't play 2e Mongoose Traveller) when it talks about endurance and nicely accounts for food packs, oxygen scrubbers/filters, and other assorted spare parts that are needed for basic maintenance and are stored in compact form:
Endurance
Ships are able to operate for one month without needing to go into a spaceport for maintenance, assuming an adequate supply of fuel. This is increased by one month for every 1% of total tonnage dedicated to cargo. If fleet support vessels are in attendance then another three months can be added to the time needed before maintenance is required.
  • In other words, each 1% of total tonnage dedicated to supplies represents an additional month of life support as already allocated. If you have more people than your life support is rated to handle, you're going to be dipping into supplies early.  

At this point I imagine some of you are saying Whoop-tee-doo, Erin. If life support requires 2 dtons per person for an average trip, how is this any different from stateroom tonnage? and my answer to that is this:
  1. It frees up tonnage from the obligatory "The captain (and sometimes senior officers) always get their own private stateroom aboard ship";
  2. It allows the Navy to pack crew in tight (1 dton/person) for maximum warfighting efficiency, because fleet support ships exist to solve this very problem;
  3. It adds realism, and possibly dramatic tension, to scenarios where a player character's ship is used to rescue a bunch of people and/or has a cargo hold full of live animals;
  4. It gives ship designers one less thing to worry about. Staterooms stop being gameable spaces and become set dressing like common rooms. 
Maybe no one will care about this. Maybe this was all a waste of time. I don't know. What I do know is this: Something which had been bugging me is no longer bugging, and that makes me happy. 

I just make the free ice cream. Whether or not you eat it is your business.

Wednesday, July 18, 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 and wearing a red floral-print dress.

"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

Monday, July 16, 2018

ACP Episode 015: Prior Restraint vs Due Process


In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss dog deterrence and nasal lavage;
  • the Main Topic is the importance of youth gun safety training, with a few stories of kids who found guns in surprising locations;
  • The Egghead talks about what equipment is best for outfitting your Ham Radio Shack;
  • Weer'd brings us a patented Audio Fisk of Rock and Movie Star Henry Rollins,
  • David discusses New York State gun laws, including the infamous SAFE Act;
  • and Steve talks about equipment failure while on surveillance.

Listen to the episode here.

Reminder: we will give away a C-5 Lower from Frontier Armory on July 18th as a Thank You to our Patreon Patrons. If you're reading this on Monday, you still have time to become a Patron!

You didn't 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:
General Purpose Egghead:

    Thursday, July 12, 2018

    OBS on TTAG

    I know that many gunbloggers won't touch The Truth About Guns, mainly due to the actions of Robert Farago. If that's the case, it may interest you to know that Farago isn't with the company any more -- after he sold TTAG to Wide Open Media, they fired him in an attempt to improve the reputation of the brand.

    If that doesn't interest you, then at least let me point out that "staff writer" (I actually know the writer in question, having met them personally, but they requested to be kept anonymous and I respect that) wrote a lovely article about Operation Blazing Sword yesterday.



    Go read the article, even if you never return to TTAG. Just... don't read the comments. NEVER read the comments. Not unless you enjoy arguing with idiots or spiking your blood pressure.


    Tuesday, July 10, 2018

    $30 IFAK Challenge

    In case you don't read it on the regular (and you should), I have an article over at Blue Collar Prepping wherein I give my solution to a challenge of assembling an Individual First Aid Kit for $30 or less.

    Go give it a read


    Monday, July 9, 2018

    ACP Episode 014: Now, Mr. Beard, the Advantage is Mine!


    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss the California court decision that upheld their micro-stamping despite compliance with the law being impossible;
    • Weer'd brings us an audio fisk of Mike "The Gun Guy" Weisser;
    • The Egghead brings continues his series on Ham Radio with a segment on [whatever the plural of antenna is] and how to make your own;
    • David explains the difference between discussing the Second Amendment in person vs online;
    • and Steve tells us about a couple of gruesome accidents he needed to investigate.

    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:
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

    Saturday, July 7, 2018

    What is Heteronormativity?

    A friend recently complained about the lesbian relationships that have been front-and-center in both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow as "pushing a social justice agenda", and I thought this could be a good teachable moment. Sadly, I don't think my friend is open to this particular argument, so instead I'm going to turn the teachable moment into a blog post.
    First, a Disclaimer: This post is meant to be informative and to build bridges. I don't intend for this post to be scolding or lecturing, so if I come across as such, I apologize. I'm just trying to explain a concept that many people might not understand.
    Let's say you're watching a television show with your elementary school-age child, and two of the characters on screen have a romantic kiss. I don't mean "a kiss with a lot of tongue action", I mean a nice, prime-time-appropriate smooch without tongue but which is definitely more than just a peck on the lips. A good benchmark for this is "The kind of kiss that people share once they've been pronounced married."

    What is your reaction to your child seeing this public display of affection?
    1. Turn the TV off. Well, while I disagree with your decision*, I respect you for your across-the board consistency. 
      • * Mainly because you're saying "I don't think it's appropriate for my child to see two loving adults kiss" and that makes me wonder about the amount of love in your marriage, not to mention the fact that you're also saying that it's not appropriate to take children to weddings. 
    2. Allow your child to watch and then afterwards ask them "Did you have any questions about what you saw on TV?" This is the correct answer as far as I'm concerned, but ending my post here doesn't really teach anything. 
    3. React on the basis of the sexuality of the kissers. This is the troublesome answer, because if you picked this one I'm betting that you're okay with your child seeing a man and a woman kiss, but aren't comfortable with same-sex kisses. 
    #3 is what's called "heternormativity", the belief that heterosexuality (hetero-) is the social norm (-normative) within our society. And as beliefs go (and this is where I get into trouble with the SJWs), it's not incorrect; if we define "normal" as "usual, typical, or expected", then yes, heterosexuality is the norm, because depending on which studies you use, between 75% and 90% of the world's population is heterosexual.

    And just to be clear: there's nothing wrong with being heterosexual. I love my heterosexual friends and family! Without heterosexuality, I wouldn't be here, and neither would most of you.

    The downside of heteronormativity is that it causes people to think, perhaps without even realizing it, that everything which is "straight" is natural and everything which is "gay" is unnatural. To use my example above, I found it strange that my friend reacted so strongly to his child seeing lesbian relationships on television, yet was perfectly okay with his child seeing numerous examples of straight couples having sex outside of marriage, and at least one instance of having a child out of wedlock.

    Or put another way: If you feel uncomfortable every time a man talks about his husband or boyfriend, or a woman talks about her wife or girlfriend, or you see them kiss, then you maybe have a feeling of what it's like for us on the queer side of things to be constantly bombarded with cultural messages that we're wrong if we aren't straight. If you want to track this for yourself, bring a pen and paper with you when you watch TV and make note of how often characters talk about heterosexual relationships -- his wife, his girlfriend, her husband, her boyfriend. I think you'll be surprised at how many tick marks you have, and that you never noticed it until now.

    If you do, congratulations! You've just discovered something called cultural invisibility, which is a fancy way of saying "You've never noticed it because it's always been around you." Or, put another way: do you ever think about the air around you unless it's acting upon you (blowing) or taken away (drowning)?

    Queer people feel that wind blowing all the time. We're surrounded by it like you are, but we feel pressured by it while you don't. And so, it's nice to see examples of ourselves in media, because it's a nice shelter from the wind when our culture takes time to say "Hey, it's okay to be something other than normal."

    Speaking of which, can we use a word other than normal? Because the opposite of that is "abnormal" which has all sorts of unsavory connotations like "sick", "broken" and "unnatural." How about we use "ordinary" instead? It still means commonplace, standard -- you know, all the stuff that "normal" means -- but the opposite of ordinary is "extraordinary" which actually makes us non-standard folk feel awesome.  Admit it, you'd love being called extraordinary. You're not shorter than average, you're extraordinarily short. You aren't a weird geek, you're extraordinarily enthusiastic. It sounds like a superpower!

    Finally, if I leave you with nothing else, let me leave you with this: Queer people exist in the world, and there's just no getting around that or hiding from it. Don't hide us from your children; prepare them for the world that they're going to live in. We aren't bad people -- we're just extraordinary.

    Thank you.

    The Fine Print


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