Friday, November 28, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 2: A History Lesson

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

What really happened?

To understand the history of GamerGate, we have to go back. Back further even than the beginning.

Jeff Gerstmann is a figure that's been prominent within games journalism for years. Even before the 21st century began, he was a public face of gaming. Gerstmann served as Editorial Director for Gamespot for a period of time before the game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was released. I have personally played Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, and in my opinion the game is a resounding “Meh.” It's like an archaic Grand Theft Auto without the open-world aspect; essentially a corridor shooter in a game engine that's not built for that. Gerstmann reviewed the game for Gamespot, giving it a “fair” recommendation but overall rightly panning the game as lacking. Gerstmann was shortly afterwards dismissed from Gamespot. It was later revealed the publisher, Eidos, was unhappy with the review and, in the words of Gerstmann, “management gave into publisher pressure.”

Robert Florence was a writer for Eurogamer. Or he was, until he wrote a piece detailing corruption in the games press back in 2012. You might recognize, if you've been following my work here, the picture used in the 'amended' version of the article.

The original version of that article is available at Neogaf. Florence was dismissed for saying the following:
One games journalist, Lauren Wainwright, tweeted: "Urm... Trion were giving away PS3s to journalists at the GMAs. Not sure why that's a bad thing?"

Now, a few tweets earlier, she also tweeted this: "Lara header, two TR pix in the gallery and a very subtle TR background. #obsessed @tombraider"

And instantly I am suspicious. I am suspicious of this journalist's apparent love for Tomb Raider. I am asking myself whether she's in the pocket of the Tomb Raider PR team. I'm sure she isn't, but the doubt is there. After all, she sees nothing wrong with journalists promoting a game to win a PS3, right?

Another journalist, one of the winners of the PS3 competition, tweeted this at disgusted RPS writer John Walker: "It was a hashtag, not an advert. Get off the pedestal." Now, this was Dave Cook, a guy I've met before. A good guy, as far as I could tell. But I don't believe for one second that Dave doesn't understand that in this time of social media madness a hashtag is just as powerful as an advert. Either he's on the defensive or he doesn't get what being a journalist is actually about.

Mass Effect 3, released in March 2012, came under fire from gamers for its ending, which took a series that focused on player choice and storytelling and slapped an ending that was abstract, gave no answers, opened up more loose ends than it tied, and varied only in the color of the energy burst of literally the galaxy's largest Deus Ex Machina. There was quite a bit of fan outrage over this; some would arguably rightfully so, considering most had spent nearly $200 and hundreds of hours crafting their story with their own customized character, myself included.

Gaming press's response was to label their readership as entitled whiners.

I bring these incidents up to show that the relationship between gaming press and gamers is far less cozy than between gaming press and publishers, which is why I think that the birth of 'the incident' was as painful as it was. Gamers knew AAA publishers had journalists in their pockets, but the indie developers were looked at as a breath of fresh air. Gamers knew, or at least thought they knew, that the coverage of indie devs was not bought and paid for like the AAA coverage.

Then it happened. Eron Gjoni -- by all rights someone that I probably couldn't stand to be in the same room with -- went public about what he (and people that have analyzed the evidence provided) felt was mental and emotional abuse at the hands of a woman he'd broken up with -- a woman who happened to be a game developer. There was an immediate immature and juvenile reaction to this, as people were tittering about with a hashtag.

No, not that hashtag. That came later.
  1. First it was #Quinnspiracy, because in the infodump that Gjoni had made, there were allegations and admissions that Zoe Quinn had cheated on him with several people in the gaming industry, including not only writers for Kotaku and Rock Paper Shotgun, which had covered (if not in review form) her and her game positively, but also another developer who had been a judge at an indie games competition where her game, Depression Quest, had been nominated. 
  2. A YouTuber called MundaneMatt did a brief news summary video about the post, and was hit with a DMCA notice by Zoe Quinn
  3. In response, a much more popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit condemned the misuse of the DMCA notice and took a neutral stance
  4. At Quinn's request, the Reddit thread where this was posted was turned into a graveyard of over 25,000 deleted comments. 
  5. Contrary to how the media narrative has thus far suggested, this is where Zoe Quinn is no longer relevant to the debate. While any harassment she may have received during this time period is both regrettable and reprehensible, something happened shortly afterwards that caused events to move completely past her. 
  6. August 27, 2014: Actor Adam Baldwin (Yes, that Adam Baldwin, of Chuck, Firefly, Full Metal Jacket, and The Last Ship. Also, a frequent voice actor in games) linked to a video (since removed) that detailed the allegations set forth in Gjoni's post with the first documented use of the hashtag #GamerGate.
  7. August 28, 2014: The Financial Post, Ars Technica, The Daily Beast, The Stranger, Beta Beat, Gamasutra, Polygon, Kotaku, and more, release articles within a 24 hour period claiming “Gamers are Dead” and “The End of Gamers.” 

Since that time, I have observed one side has focus primarily on emailing advertisers and digging up other examples of corruption and cronyism, while another side has shifted its narrative time and again from “cis-white man-babies living in their mothers' basements” to “right-wing conspiracy movement” to “misogynists and harassers.”

Yet another side has just lit fires on both of the aforementioned sides and ran for the sheer fallout. The GNAA (Google it; I'm not going into that here) and goons from SomethingAwful have confirmed their involvement in this.

But discounting the obvious third-party trolls, I've seen some vile stuff slung from one side to the other. I've seen people called terrorists. “Worse than ISIS.” Recommendations that groups of people be herded into gas chambers. Echo chambers set up.

And it's not the side you think.

Edit: Some factual errors have been corrected

Next week: Born In Fire

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Everypony!

May your day be full of food, festivities, and friendship.

PS: No, they aren't eating the little orange pony. That's just set dressing (heh) and is a reference to a recurring in-joke about the character, Scootaloo, being a chicken.

For those folks who want something a little more serious, head on over to Blue Collar Prepping as Chaplain Tim talks about prepping lessons to be learned from the pilgrims.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Palette's Product Review: Red Lion Precision Sub-2000 Forend

Last month, I received some merchandise from Red Lion Precision for my Kel-Tec Sub-2000. As a review of all them (front sight, muzzle compensator, rail system) would be too much for a single article, I've broken it up into a series. This article will be about the Red Lion Precision Sub-2000 Forend ($147.00).

The Review I've Been Dreading
Okay, I'm just going to come out and say this: I don't like this rail system. I hasten to point out that this rail system is not inherently flawed (except for one small... irritating... characteristic); it does everything the manufacturer says it does. 

It just does it in a way that drives me crazy.

Since comparisons to Kel-Tec's in-house rail system are inevitable, I shall refer you to a review I did of them back in 2012 and invite you to compare and contrast. 

Let me say this about Red Lion Precision:  They know how to write instructions. Every step is clear, every part is labeled, and every step refers to those parts by number (unlike certain people -- I'm looking at you, Kel-Tec). 

As stated previously, installation of this rail system requires the user to completely remove, and therefore destroy, the stock Kel-Tec front sight, as the entire assembly is essentially monolithic and needs to slide over the barrel. This is in contrast to the Kel-Tec rails, which are a clamshell style. 

So this is strike one against this rail system in my personal slam book:  I don't like being forced to destroy something in order to install something else.

Strike two is how the rails mount to the chassis. With the Kel-Tec version, I simply screwed them into place from the outside. With the Red Lion version you must perform a bit of legerdemain. I quote from the directions:
"To attach rails place grommet into locating hole from the inside of the forend (hold in place with finger or popsicle stick or alike [sic] if your finger can't reach). Place rail into position. Place 10-24 x 1/2" flathead screw through the rail and into the grommet and tighten till grommet is slightly flexed and somewhat conformed to the forend ID radius."
In other words, in order to attach the rail you need to simultaneously steady the forend AND keep the grommet in place with a finger (easy at the open end) or a stick (required for everything else). Now, while holding the forend steady and keeping the grommet in place, USE THE FORCE to pick up a screwdriver and and attach the rail to the chassis while keeping the rail in position.

It gets easier once the first screw is in place, but if, like me, you don't have a clamp, you'll find yourself wishing for an extra set of hands.

Strike three is the fact that this forend doesn't even come with rails. You have to buy them separately.  Yes, in addition to paying $147 for this system, you then have to shell out $19 for an 8-slot rail, $23.50 for an 11-slot, or $31 for a 19-slot rail.

Compare this to the Kel-Tec version which comes with two full-length rails for $101 (and for an additional $16 you can get two more for the sides) and price-wise, Kel-Tec is the clear winner.

What makes the RLP forend interesting is that it rotates so that you don't have to take off your optic to fold your Sub-2000. This is a very clever design that ensures your optic returns to zero by means of a knurled collar that draws the forend down onto machined notches, ensuring precise positioning every time.

There are, however, some drawbacks to this.
  1. It takes several seconds to unscrew the collar, rotate the rail into the desired position, and then screw the collar down again before folding your Sub-2000 in half. In the same amount of time (and likely less), you could remove your optic via quick-release mounts and fold it normally with the Kel-Tec forend. You can definitely deploy the KT version faster just by unfolding the carbine and using iron sights. Using the RLP version, though, unfolding it without rotating it may result in you having a an optic where your hand goes, or a forward grip sticking up at an odd angle.
  2. Even if you don't have an optic on top, you still can't fold it without rotating the forend. The assembly requires a blank face to lie flush against the Sub-2000 stock when folded -- the rails are too high to allow for folding the way the Kel-Tec version does. 
  3. This means that if you are upgrading from the Kel-Tec version to the Red Lion version, all of your optics are going to be mounted higher than they were. This will require you to re-zero everything. 
  4. It is of interest to note that the rotating collar requires the rails to be several inches forward on the RLP forend than on the KT forend. If you have an optic that doesn't have much eye relief, this may be an issue for you. 
Let's call all of the above "strike four." There's no flaw in the operation of the rail system here: it rotates smoothly and returns to position every time. These are simply quirks of the system that I personally do not like, but I acknowledge they might not be an issue to other folks. 

That One Irritating Characteristic
All of the other annoyances, I could forgive. This last one, though, is what drove me to un-install the Red Lion Precision forend and replace it with the Kel-Tec version:

The entire assembly kept 
twisting clockwise.

I do not know why this happened. The first time I noticed it, I loosened the screws that clamp the forend to the barrel and re-zeroed everything WITH A LEVEL. Yet when I came back from shooting, everything had once again tilted right. I tried to fix it again, and again got the same result.

This drove me absolutely batty. While it did not prevent me from using the rail system, and I was still able to get co-witness through my red dot, the lopsided nature drove my sense of perspective nuts. I found that I was rotating the Sub-2000 to the left in order to make the optic level.. which of course meant that my front sight was tilted left.

I do not know how this happened. There is nothing visibly wrong with the forend, and I am 100% certain I followed the directions while installing it. And yet... this.

I hope this is an isolated incident, but the fact that I cannot see anything wrong with the forend makes me believe it isn't. Perhaps I did install it improperly; if so, I lay blame at the foot of the directions, as I know I followed them to the letter. My gut feeling, however, is that there is something wrong with it, as it shouldn't shift to the right despite its mounting screws being as tight as possible.

Regardless, here is my warning:  If you are a perfectionist or have even the least little bit of OCD, this flaw will be unbearable.

My Rating: D+
It works. It does everything it says it will do. And yet...
  1. It's much more expensive than the Kel-Tec version, due to its ability to rotate.
  2. I don't think the ability to rotate is really a feature when compared to time needed to deploy it. 
  3. It comes without rails, which means it's incomplete and forces you to buy RLP's proprietary rails.
  4. It requires you to destroy your stock front sight. 
  5. Mine refused to stay level. It outright REFUSED. 
I honestly, truly believe that any Sub-2000 owner would be better served buying the Kel-Tec version of the railed forend. I hate saying this, because I was looking forward to this product and I very much wanted to like it. 

That said, it's still a rugged and beautifully engineered piece of metal that does what it says it will do. 

In Conclusion:
  • Definitely get the RLP front sight.
  • You will need to get an adapter for it; so get the less-expensive kind, unless you really want a glass breaker, as the muzzle compensator doesn't compensate for anything. 
  • Don't get the RLP forend unless you really need it to rotate, and you're willing to accept an optic being permanently off-kilter. 

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I received this product for free. I was not paid or otherwise compensated in return for giving it a good review, which should be obvious as I gave it a terrible review. 

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #14
Last week I announced a contest for "Weirdest Item In Your BOB/GHB" and not a single person replied. This makes me very sad and now I wonder how many people, if any, actually listen to my segment.

Oh well. This week, I talk about cold weather survival if you're snowed in at home (Hello, Boulder NY!)

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday, Pony Sunday

That's funny, I always assumed Merle was an Applejack man. 

My Little Bioshock

They're Tricky

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 1: An Introduction

Part 1: An Introduction
Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

In Which I Present My Thesis Statement

The title concept here is one that's always interested me. It was first used in a poem, later converted to song, about the civil rights movement, and has been adapted in many forms including:
  • a feminist subversion criticizing misogyny in hip-hop;
  • The Artist Possibly Now Once Again Known As Prince doing something no doubt sexual; and 
  • A Greek broadcasting company protesting austerity cuts. 
It's an interesting concept that deals in public image and how the media can shape a narrative regarding a conflict, no matter how large or small, how earth-shaking or insignificant. The title was also used -- with the most relevance, I feel -- by a documentary about Hugo Chavez's removal from office in Venezuela. The title comes into play in this film as a reference to alleged footage of Chavez's supporters firing on a protest march shown on Venezuelan television, which is contradicted by independent footage that shows the streets below empty, as the protest had never taken that route. Obviously, the media is a powerful weapon, but what would happen if one were to revolt against that weapon?

If one were to wage war against the media, how would one go about doing so? What would the public perception of that war be, if the ones shaping the public perception were one of the combatants? I'm hardly the first to weigh in on this, and will likely be far from the most artistic of word, but I feel it necessary to do so, considering that I have a vested interest in it.

As a form of disclosure, you all know that I'm a gamer. I've written several pieces about games in my tenure here at Erin's blog, as well as some posts critical of the popular games media.

On the other hand, I am a progressive liberal (as much as I find the tactics of those I share my political landscape with distasteful these days) and up until a few years ago called myself feminist, so I understand that threats and harassment are a problem, and one that isn't easily solved.

Due to timing, I've had to delay this series, and I feel a bit awkward walking in three months late to the party, but Doctor Who took precedence. So in the meantime I spent some time as sort of an "embedded journalist" (I use journalist as a metaphor. I'm an op-ed writer at best, and would shame some of my heroes were I to apply that term to myself). I've spent time browsing 8chan. I've checked in on Reddit's /r/KotakuInAction board, created when /r/TumblrInAction decided that particular brand of drama warranted its own space. I've also studied the stories put forth by outlets like TheVerge, Polygon, GamaSutra, and subreddits like /r/GamerGhazi. I've spoken to people on all sides (note how I didn't say both sides). I've put out a few inflammatory statements for the purpose of measuring replies. In short, I've done some goddamned homework on this issue.

A fair sight more work than I feel a lot of people have done, as I've seen a ton of people plagiarizing each other in manufactured outrage -- even people in the Gun-O-Sphere. That last bit particularly shocked me, as most of the outlets covering Gamergate have been liberal, and gunnies, in my experience, run mostly somewhere between conservative and libertarian (I'm not using those as slurs, unlike those same liberal media outlets would). Even more worrisome, I've seen talking points taken directly from websites like DailyDot, Salon, and Feministing that would happily throw gun owners to the wolves at the first opportunity.

 In short, this is a topic that's a lot more complicated than the liberal-biased media would lead you to believe. And, on a personal note, it's hard for me to write these words. I've always known that most media leans hard either left or right, but I admit that until recently I had no idea how pervasive it was. It's never pleasant having your eyes opened the hard way. The me of 10 years ago would never believe I would be writing these words now.

So far you've heard how there's this group of white, cis-male, misogynerd pissbabies living in their motherss basements who just want to harass a group of women and keep their exclusive boy's club. But I've seen things that break that narrative, and I'm going to share them over the coming weeks, because I cannot stand by and let people just be misled by a liberal media narrative any longer. 

As Captain Picard once said...

The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based. And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!

 Next week: A History Lesson

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

So, about that cat shelter...

So here's what I did with my afternoon:
  1. Bought a cheap cooler and plastic bin at the Mart of Wals.
  2. Measured the difference in height between the interior and exterior of the cooler. 
  3. Cut a hole in the bin.

  4. Put the cooler in the bin and cut a hole through the foam.

  5. Made sure the holes matched up.

  6. Gorilla Taped the edges to make sure the cooler was secure and flush with the bin (and also to keep it from being damaged as the cat went in and out).

  7. Lined the interior with cushy foam, a heating pad (because mom's a softie) and a washable leopard print cloth to make the cat feel pampered and at home. 

  8. Made sure everything was lined up, with the door out of the wind, and put some kitty treats inside the shelter.

  9. Observed as cat refused to make use of its new shelter, choosing instead to sleep on the cold hard cement outside house.

This is why I prefer dogs.

What I'm working on today

It actually got down to freezing last night, so I'm making this shelter for the neighborhood stray cat that comes by and begs food off us.

If it turns out all right I'll post pics later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Traveller Tuesday: Air/Rafts & the Flyer Skill

According to the Core Rules, using an air/raft requires the Flyer skill. This is silly for several reasons:
  • Air/rafts are ubiquitous pieces of technology; not only are gravcars and landspeeders a staple of science fiction, damn near every starship in Traveller has an air/raft as it's ship's vehicle.
  • However, out of 12 careers in the Core book, only six of them offer an opportunity to learn the Flyer skill.
  • Of those careers, two of them only give the skill via a random-chance Life Event.
  • Worse, the air/raft is the ultimate all-terrain vehicle, and yet it isn't a skill that Scouts can learn in character generation.
  • Not even in the expanded Scout book.

As a GM, I find this unconscionable. Therefore, it's house rule time!

Let's look at the Flyer skill.

All right, so we've got Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, and Gravity as specialties. Now, let's play "Which of these things is not like the other?"  Well, there are two choices:
  1. Grav is the odd duck out, because it uses antigravity to fly while the others use wing lift. 
  2. Fixed wing is the odd one, because it can't hover like the others. 
Combine that with my objection above, and we've a strong case for throwing this skill out completely. But what do we replace it with?

First of all, it's patently obvious to me that Fixed Wing needs to fall under Pilot. There's about as much difference between an atmospheric plane and a space fighter as there is difference between said fighter (a small craft in Traveller parlance) and a capital ship 

For grav vehicles, the answer is "it depends."
A lot of PCs use grav vehicles like hovercraft (cf. Luke Skywalker's landspeeder). This is the Drive skill, pure and simple, as it the craft only moves in the X and Y axes. It's really a high-tech hovercraft. So let's put most uses of grav vehicles there, especially since hovercraft are listed as a Drive specialty which states "For hovercraft and other ground-repulsion vehicles." Ground-repulsion... that sure sounds like anti-gravity, doesn't it?

However, some folks are going to want to use their air/rafts to fly. In movies that feature flying cars -- from Back to the Future 2 to Star Wars: Attack of the Clones -- we see cars flying along in nice, level traffic lanes. They're behaving like regular cars, only higher up. From that we can infer one of the following:
  1. The traffic lanes interface with the air/raft computer and automatically raise it to the proper elevation through operation. This makes driving through the air no more difficult than driving along a freeway -- if you want to land, take an exit lane.
  2. Traveling along the vertical axis requires a gear shift, just like going in reverse does. In this case, the air/raft is basically a helicopter with training wheels:
    • You get to where you want to go;
    • You stop your forward motion;
    • You shift into "down", and
    • You lower yourself to the ground. 
    Some lateral motion is allowed for precise maneuvering into a parking space, but only at about the speed a car goes with your foot off the brake.
  3. A combination of the two. Consider it the difference between an automatic transmission and a manual. 

And then there's Anakin, who flies his speeder like a proper aircraft, with lots of banking, diving, and changes along the Z-axis (and likely breaking many traffic rules in the process). He's actually flying his craft. Gee, if only we had a skill for that! Oh, right, we do; it's called Pilot
So what it comes down to is this:  If you're driving an air/raft like a car, no matter the altitude, it falls under Drive (Hovercraft). If you're flying it, it falls under Pilot (Small Craft).

That leaves us with Rotary Wing. It's halfway between grav (it can hover) and fixed wing (it uses aerodynamics). Where does it go?

I confess that my first thought is "Who cares?"  I have never seen this skill used in any Traveller game, ever. But I acknowledge that my games are not your games and you may very well have a place for it.

My suggestion, then, is to make a new specialty called "Exotic" and populate it with the following vehicles:
  • Helicopters
  • Plane-helicopter hybrids like the V-22 Osprey
  • Ornithopters
  • Hot-air balloons
  • Dirigibles/Zeppelins 
Actual flying, be it from wings (biological or artificial), grav belts, or glide suits, ought to fall under the Athletics skill -- and oh, look, they already have a specialty called "Flying"!

Well, there we go, then. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jade Rose Zen Threadworks

I helped make this design for Evelyn Hively, one of my BCP co-bloggers and my adopted little sister.

Please visit her shop. If you like what you see, buy something from her as a Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Yule/ Kwanzaa/ whatever present.  I'd take it as a kindness, and I know she'd appreciate it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #13
In this week's GBVC episode I list some of the stranger items I have in my Bug Out and Get Home Bags... and then I issue a challenge:  If you can come up with an item as strange, if not stranger, than what I have in my bag, and are able to prove that it's a useful item to have, then I will give the person who suggests the oddest item a prepping prize from my own pocket!

Leave a comment, either here or at the show notes page, to be entered into the contest!

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

SHTFriday: My BOB First Aid Kit

Here is the first aid kit I have in my bug out bag. Go read the post at Blue Collar Prepping to find out what I put inside!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

Spoilers will make you disappear in a puff of blue smoke.

So let's talk about Doctor Who finale episodes. Death in Heaven has had quite a mixed reception, and I feel it's necessary to look at it in the context of the previous finales.
  • The Parting of The Ways: Rose uses a tow-truck to bust open the TARDIS console, becomes a goddess, and literally handwaves away the Daleks. Captain Jack becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Doomsday: Torchwood tears a hole between realities and lets through Cybermen, happen to have Dalek ship in their tower which opens and releases Daleks throughout the city, massive smackdown between Daleks and Cybermen resolved by Doctor opening black hole, which only manages to suck up Daleks and Cybermen. And almost Rose, but not Pete, who was standing much closer. Mickey Smith becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Last of the Time Lords: The Doctor goes from house-elf to pixie-Jesus, entire world claps their hands and says “I believe in magic,” Master's wife shakes off PTSD long enough to make Doctor cry. Martha Jones becomes an unlikely badass.
  • Journey's End: planets stolen from their orbits without affecting atmosphere. Donna's head almost explodes, TARDIS tows a planet back into orbit without disrupting its moon. Rose Tyler becomes an unlikely badass with new teeth.
  • The Big Bang: Universe rebooted by shouty Scottish red-head. River acts mysterious.
  • The Wedding of River Song: “All of time happening at once.” River acts mysterious.
  • The Name of the Doctor: Clara becomes a recurring time-space event and grows a personality. River acts mysterious.
Watch Selfie on ABC weekdays this fall (courtesy BBC)
     Which brings us to the present. Finales are, by and large, bonkers. Insane. Nigh-incomprehensible. Terrible to science. Magical. Emotional. Evocative. Over-the-top madness topped only by the Christmas specials. They make you feel something, if only to make you forget that what you're watching hardly makes any sense. And in that context, Death in Heaven works. It's got junk science and plot holes that Gallifrey could re-emerge through, but there are so many 'punch-the-air' moments that balance it out. From the Captain Scarlet reference to Clara's obvious snooping in the Doctor's journal (Prydonian!) to CyberDan's speech and the CyberBrig's salute. Still, Death in Heaven has one thing over the previous finales:  Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart strutting right up to the Cybermen and dropping a pulverized classic Cyber-head at their feet. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart arresting both Missy and The Doctor. I am swooning so hard over this woman.

     Clara's plot arc comes to a seeming end here. No confirmation of my suspicion of her being pregnant, but the bit at the end where the Doctor allows a hug really was touching. She knows that he's lying about Gallifrey, and he knows that she's lying about Danny, and they both know the other's lying, but neither feel the need to call the other on it. Clara got more character development in this last year than any of RTD's companions, and I really hope we see her again. “More Clara” is not something I thought I'd be saying prior to the 50th Anniversary.

     Missy really is mad. The cargo bay scene cements her place amongst the Masters, murdering Osgood and the two UNIT guards (who I'm sure were hypnotized long before they were left guarding her) in cold blood. “Bananas.” Her 'gift' to the Doctor hit him hard. As hard, if not harder, than Davros calling him out years ago for turning his companions into weapons. And while it seems that we saw her vaporized in a puff of energy weapons fire, I guarantee you she'll be back. Never trust the Master, let alone trust her to stay dead. And her teleport signature was blue, too.

     Cybermen can fly now. And have removable faceplates. Since Nightmare in Silver, I've been saying that the Cybermen have been nicking from Stark Tech, and I stand by that. They'll have hand-repulsors next time we see them, mark my word.

     So was this episode a mixed bag? Yes. Very much so. Brilliant, amazing performances. Thrilling set-pieces. Two codas. One, which made me cry, seeing Twelve peering out at the coordinates given him by Missy hopefully, only to close the door in anguish, and beat his hands bloody on the TARDIS console. One, which made me cringe, at the control bracelet's magical ability to bring someone back to life. And in the end, everybody lied. The Doctor lied to Clara about Gallifrey. Clara lied to the Doctor about Danny. Missy lied to everybody about everything. And everyone knew everyone was lying, and they were all too polite to say anything.

Anyone else think it was the Zygon Osgood that got dusted?

Next week: I might get a wee bit political.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Sorry I haven't been blogging the past few days.  I've just been caught up in too much drama, both real life and internet, and I needed to unplug and detox for a while.

Regular blogging should resume Thursday night with Salem's post on the season finale of Doctor Who.

Until then, enjoy this fine hand-crafted bit of WTFery:

“Pinky watches the large, radioactive, spear-throwing killer cider lord gallop his wagon into Neighpon Town. Which is the same as galloping it into Neighpon, as far as chasing him down is concerned.”  ― Neal Stephorseson, Snow Trot

From here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Gunday, Photo Edition

So, this past week Oleg Volk was in my neck of the woods, and because he likes me for reasons I can't quite explain, he invited me to hang out with him, meet interesting people, and shoot some cool guns that aren't yet for sale.

Twist my arm, I said.

Warning: Below the jump are pictures of Kel-Tec guns which might cause jealousy.  Also below the jump are pictures of my face, which might make people uncomfortable.  You Have Been Warned. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #12
Last week I talked about food for Getting Home and Bugging Out. This week I talk about something far more necessary:  water.  You need a gallon per person per day... but a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds!  What's a prepper to do?

Listen to my segment, of course!

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Played Hooky

No SHTFriday post today, because I spent yesterday hanging out with Oleg Volk, meeting people, and shooting nifty not-yet-for-sale guns, and that meant I had to push my Thursday responsibilities to today.

Fortunately for me, OkieRhio had an article ready, so we traded shifts:  hers went up today, and mine will go up on Sunday.

Until then, enjoy this Disney/Hasbro crossover, "My Little Gargoyles: Petrification is Magic"

Art by Cherry Garcia, the same talented lady who did the velociraptor images in Wednesday's post.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Doctor Who: Deep Water

Doctor What The Hell? Spoilers ahead..

This was.. intense.

     I've always thought that the worst thing that can happen to a person that leads a life of adventure is that they die from something completely and utterly mundane. I thought the perfect example of that in Doctor Who, previously, was the Seventh Doctor. He'd just witnessed the trial and execution of his arch-rival and childhood friend by a race of bio-mechanical space Nazis, only to be thrown off-course and land in 1999 San Francisco and be randomly gunned down by a street gang. Clara, apparently, feels the same way. Danny Pink, squaddie, maths teacher, and definitely not a PE teacher, struck down while crossing the street. While on the phone with intergalactic adventuress Clara Oswald, the former Impossible Girl, who was more than likely trying to tell him that she was pregnant. Would explain the post-it notes, the tenor of the phone call, and the Doctor's “mess of chemicals” remark. Not to mention her "I'll never say those words to another person."

     Companionship with the Doctor is something that we've seen can bring out the best in otherwise unremarkable people. In the case of Clara, we seem to have been building to it being something that can bring out the worst in remarkable people as Clara, at least in her intentions, betrays the Doctor's trust and attempts to strand him inside an active volcano being unable to access the TARDIS. Assuming he can't open the doors by clicking his fingers (Maybe he needs a key on his person to do the finger trick), at least. But his reaction afterwards, “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” made my eyes well up. Either way, this episode front-loaded the intensity, as many shows would have stuck a scene like the volcano confrontation near the end. Coleman and Capaldi carry off this intensity and emotion in this scene so well, too. I'm seriously considering them now, due to this episode alone, likely the strongest team we've had thus far.

Original Version of scene courtesy BBC archives, from back in the era where they deleted things willy-nilly
     The “afterlife” where Danny shows up was a huge red herring, and I was sure, just for a moment, that they had cribbed something huge from my particular favorite bit of spin-off extended universe fiction. In the Lawrence Miles series Faction Paradox, spun off of the BBC Doctor Who book series, there's a city at the end of the universe, The City of The Saved. In the City, every human, human variant, human hybrid that ever dies appears there. The City exists outside of Time, and can only be entered by the Uptime Gates. Even an approaching TARDIS would get routed through the Gates, for security purposes. No one knows who built it or what the true reason for it is, but it's rumored there's a half-human, half Time Lord hybrid known colloquially as The Grandfather that lives there, but that's just rumors. And rule 1 is The Faction lies. I was certain that Danny had shown up in the City, given that we've seen several humans show up there, as well as a cyborg that had human bits.

     Missy, or MISI, was something that I totally did not see coming, at all. Since 2005's Rose, every episode that comes out, the fandom's had a new guess at which character was The Master. Even when Sir Derek Jacobi and John Simm came along, we were still guessing everyone from Donna to the Master's Wife. So much so that most of us just gave up and assumed he wasn't coming back. Not to mention all the rampant speculation that this or that character was The Rani. I've said before that Michelle Gomez is brilliantly menacing, and I've got to maintain that, for a woman who has fruit on her hat, she remains so. Especially once the facade drops. She out-camps Eric Roberts, out-menaces Roger Delgado, and out-crazies John Simm. Not only that, but considering that a Moffat-created character sets the on-screen precedent for a female Doctor, it breaks the narrative that Moffat is the most misogynistic DW showrunner.

     And poor Danny Pink. Waking up in The City, feeling cold, minus a body, regretting his actions during war, having met the young boy he accidentally killed. We now know why the soldier cries, and why he bristles so hard at the Doctor's authoritative tone. Finger hovering over the “Delete” button. Having practically forced Clara to not follow him into what he thought was the afterlife by repeating the words “I love you” at her until she closed the connection. I honestly can't call whether The Doctor and Clara will find a way to pull him back from this particular precipice.

     I was concerned with how little development the finale had going into this, but they've done a lot with the 42 or so odd minutes they had, and they've got an hour left. This particular finale's been creepy, gruesome, and heart-wrenching so far, and I look forward to where they're taking it.

Next week: Looks like we're re-staging The Invasion, hopefully with more than six Cybermen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Origin Story

I don't talk much about being genderqueer, because on the whole I don't think it's particularly relevant to this blog:  people come here for my ideas and opinions on guns, gaming, and the like, not for gender politics or social justice or to hear me talk about my plumbing.

But earlier in this month I asked if people wanted to hear my origin story about how I came to realize I was genderqueer, and I was surprised by the number of "yes" answers I received. So, since there's interest, I'll talk about it, and the curious can ask questions and I'll happily answer them.

If this is not your thing, I will understand and not have my feelings hurt if you leave now without reading. 

However, progressing past this point indicates you are willingly crossing a potential TMI threshold, and if you become offended, that's on you and not me. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Palette's Product Review: Red Lion Precision Muzzle Compensator

Last month, I received some merchandise from Red Lion Precision for my Kel-Tec Sub-2000. As a review of all them (front sight, muzzle compensator, rail system) would be too much for a single article, I've broken it up into a series. This article will be about the Red Lion Precision Muzzlecomp with Teeth ($20.00).

As I mentioned last week, there are options when it comes to adapters; the most expensive is the one I have. The teeth are not sharp, so there is no danger of accidentally injuring yourself with them; instead, they provide a pointed but blunt striking surface, useful for breaking glass and/or the heads of an assailant who gets too close. 

There is also a non-toothy version for $15.00, should you just want muzzle compensation without melee fighting ability. 

Additionally, there are non-compensator adapters that can be bought for only $9.00. 


Installation of the muzzle compensator is easy; as described in my previous RLP post, the real difficulty lies in having to remove the plastic Kel-Tec sight. Once that is done, just slide the muzzlecomp over the barrel and tighten the front sight around it.


There are two factors to judge: "Are the teeth worthwhile?" and "Does this compensate against muzzle rise?"


Well, I certainly wouldn't want to be poked with one of these, especially in my face. I didn't test this on another living being, though, and I hope you will forgive me this oversight.

On the other hand, it breaks untempered glass rather easily. I'm not sure how hard it would be to break tempered glass (like windows), but it shouldn't take more than 3-4 hits.

Muzzle Compensation:

This is the part of the review where I get a bit sad and have to say that I didn't notice a whit of difference in muzzle rise when shooting with the compensator.

In fact, I went so far as to remove the compensator entirely, shoot 50 rounds of 115gr. FMJ ammunition, and then put the muzzlecomp back on to shoot another 50. I honestly did not see any improvement after putting it back on, nor did I notice any change in either the loudness of the report or the brightness of the muzzle flash... and I was shooting in an indoor range, too.

My Rating: C

Most of this rating is due to the fact that:
  1. Hey, if you install the front sight (which I recommend) you need an adapter anyway;
  2. If you get an adapter, it might as well do something;
  3. The teeth are good at breaking glass and, presumably, assailants. 
I would give a lower rating (a D*) to the plain-face adapter, as it has no secondary purpose. Since the primary function of this muzzlecomp didn't actually function, I can't recommend you buy that one. You'd be better off just getting the $9 adapter instead, which does exactly as much as the plain-face and is cheaper by $6. 

The muzzlecomp with teeth, however, at least has utility. Is it $20 worth of utility? That's up to you, but I don't think it is. 

* I did not give it an F because, at the very least, it adapts the sight to the barrel.

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer:  I received this product for free. I was not paid or otherwise compensated in return for giving it a good review, which should be obvious as I did not give it a very good review. 

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #11

In which I talk about the differences between Get Home Bags and Bug Out Bags, and what kind of food you can safely store in yours... even if you leave it in the trunk of your car all year.

You can listen to the podcast here, and the show notes may be found here.

The Fine Print

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

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