Thursday, April 30, 2015

Joss Whedon: Kiss the Ring

In which I shit on everyone's waifu again.

I've been a long-time viewer of Joss Whedon's television shows. Being a life-long nerd, it's sort of expected that I'd have faithfully followed at least one of them, and I'll be upfront and tell you that I came in kind of late on Buffy, starting with (the atrocious in retrospect) season six and then catching up on the previous episodes as well as Angel, on reruns. I probably pirated the first copies of Firefly. I even watched Dollhouse. When I heard he was directing Avengers, I was excited, and I wasn't let down when I saw it.

But something's always struck me as odd about Joss Whedon's work. Everyone who's anyone when it comes to voicing girl-power, smash-the-patriarchy sentiments seems to worship his work and hang on every baffling word the man tweets. And I just don't get it.

Someone once asked Joss “Why do you write strong female characters?” His response was the utterly glib “Because you keep asking me that question.” But that's the thing, he doesn't write strong female characters. He writes Strong Female Characters. As in, that's their one defining trait: they're strong. I mean, sure, every now and then you get a character like Cordelia, who had serious character growth... after she was moved off the mothership and onto the spinoff, with writing being handled primarily not by Joss, but mostly it's just “spindly kung-fu waif”:  Buffy, River Tam, Echo, and now Black Widow.

Look at the contrast between Widow in Iron Man 2 and Winter Soldier vs Avengers. She beats up some dudes and then runs away from Hulk. She gets exactly one good scene in Avengers, when she fools Loki. In Winter Soldier, she moves the story forward almost single-handedly. In Iron Man 2, she goes from "coquettish secretary suspiciously proficient in martial arts" to "complete and total badass" in a fight scene that she has yet to surpass in the MCU.

I just don't get why Joss Whedon is so revered by the feminist crowd that even Anita Sarkeesian won't criticize him, despite literally putting a woman in a refrigerator.

Pictured: Literal Woman In Refrigerator
Whedon treats his female characters like shit. And not in the good way where bad stuff happens to them and they struggle to overcome it, he's just got a blatant disrespect for them. There's so much that's “problematic” in his work, from the year-long date-rape scene between Buffy and Spike that was season six to the aforementioned fridging of River Tam, to the sexual imagery used in the Widow interrogation scene at the beginning of Avengers to the entire concept of Dollhouse. One could, if one were of a mind for critical theory, claim that Joss's library of work is dripping with misogyny. 

Then there's his actions and words outside of his work. Joss Whedon once spoke at an Equality Now event about how he hated the word “Feminism.” When The Mary Sue were 'fanning themselves' over Chris Pratt in the Jurassic World clip, Joss replied that he was too busy bemoaning how it was “70s era sexist.” Goony beard-man mansplains to women how they're wrong about feminism. And they love him for it.

Now don't get me wrong, when it comes to character and dialogue, he's pretty damn good. And his shows have consistently had great action scenes. I'm glad they gave him the Avengers films, because in sequential storytelling, the Avengers films are the series finale episodes that are just witty banter and big fight scenes. The really interesting stories like "Cap and Widow on the run" and "Tony suffering PTSD" take place in the connecting episodes, but give Joss the big slap-bang fight scenes and let him ad-lib with RDJ for 2 hours... and forgive him for panning the camera over Scarlett Johannesburg's T&A like Michael Bay hopped up on goofballs.

This is also why Guardians of the Galaxy was in every way a better movie than Avengers, despite it having no real right to be. Gauntlet thrown, fanboys. Come at me.

So here's to you, Joss. A tip of the fedora to someone who I have no idea banks so much goodwill amongst the progressive gender-focused crowd when you have no real right to it.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Airlocks

Spring weather has relaly been playing merry with my sinuses lately, resulting in a LOT of sinus headaches that start mid-morning or early afternoon and progress until evening or later. Ugh, not fun at all.

I need to live in a pressurized space. With airlocks. 

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

In the core rulebook for Mongoose Traveller, no tonnage rules are given for airlocks. There's a single line about how "A ship has at least one airlock per 100 tons" on p137, but that's so vague as to be useless. 

On the whole, though, this doesn't matter because tonnage rules aren't given for lots of things in the core rules. For example, there's no displacement for landing gear, and yet we know that all ships have them. This falls into what I call gameable space: it's not exciting to allocate tonnage for landing gear, and we know all ships are going to have it, so we save the crunchy mechanics for things that not all ships will have, or will have in different volumes or amounts. 

Then High Guard came along, and with it rules for small craft construction, and we called this good... but now there were tonnage rules for air locks (1 dton each, cost 0.2 MCr.). Which made sense, because small craft are, well, small, and therefore less likely to have airlocks (fighters certainly don't need them). And having them/not having them now becomes a gameable space thing: there's lots of drama to be had if, for example. your shuttle crashes on an airless world miles from the spaceport and there's no way to go outside and make repairs without depressurizing the whole ship. 

Except now there's a problem:  Once a thing in Traveller costs tonnage, it always costs tonnage, and the gearheads will remember it and implement it. And so I started to see ships paying tonnage for airlocks when they previously did not. Worse, I only saw it some of the time; the most glaring oddity is how the 3,000 dton Agashaam-class Destroyer in Fighting Ships pays for a single airlock when a) it clear has two of them and b) none of the other ships in that book do. 

All of which is a very longwinded leadup to this very short and simple house rule: For every 100 dtons a ship has, it gets one airlock for free. Others can be added but they must be paid for. 

I think this works marvelously well: 100 dton ships rarely need more than one airlock due to small crew size and lack of cargo capacity. As size increases, so do cargo/passenger/crew requirements, and so additional airlocks become necessary. 

Two notes to help flesh this out:
  1. The dtonnage is not for the lock itself; it's for the pumping equipment and other life-support gear that enables the lock to quickly pressurize/depressurize.  Because honestly, given enough time and access to life support controls, any space between bulkheads can become an airlock. 
  2. This supports the (quite logical) deckplan assertion that places personnel airlocks next to cargo locks. That way the cargo locks cycle faster by using the same dedicated pumping equipment. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post: Corruption of the Innocent (aka "Erin Teaches a Californian to Shoot")

Sometimes, how you are introduced to a thing makes all the difference.

Hi, I'm Ian. I've shot guns twice before in my life, both at very touristy ranges in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was loud. It was expensive. I want to say that it was fun, but that uneasy feeling of being in danger and being a danger to others nullified it.

And then came my shooting sherpa: Erin Palette.

Let's not mince words: I'm a Canadian living in California. I'm up to my ears in liberals. I might even be one. I think guns are cool the same way I look at hot actresses and wonder what it'd be like to date one.

Erin's one of my few pro-gun friends and has always been playful about corrupting me over to the Dark Side. Um, I mean, introduce me to shooting... properly.

Erin scored big points right away. Before we got started, I was given a reading assignment: Jeff Cooper's Rules of Firearm Safety.

I couldn't stress how much this made a difference for me. I studied these rules. I memorized them. I rattled them off to Erin when we finally met, and you know what? I was no gun safety expert, but I sure as hell felt like I'd at least not shoot someone's face off out of pure ignorance.

We met at the Robert Strickland Shooting Range on May 22, 2014. The weather was great and at midday, there weren't that many people there.

She starts me off easy with a Gatorade. It was starting to get pretty hot and she doesn't want me passing out. I usually don't even think about stuff like this, but that Gatorade never tasted better.

After throwing up some reactive targets, I get my first hands-on lesson, starting with a Ruger Bearcat. It's a .22LR single action revolver. As far as I know, that means you have to cock the hammer between shots, the bullets are small, and you load them into a cylinder. The gun feels a little small, but it's easy to shoot and I'm rewarded right away with some nice little holes!

Did I say bullets? I meant cartridges. Looks like I'm going to be learning terminology all day.

We move up to a Kel-Tec PMR-30, a .22 Magnum semi-automatic pistol. Biggest difference here, of course, is moving from the cylinder to a magazine. Okay, got that. .22 Magnum means it's like the .22LR, right? Wrong. Very different. I don't quite remember exactly what was different, but I know enough that you don't want to be mixing them up.

I'm not a small guy. (Editor's note: He's at least 6 feet tall.) These two have been pretty good. We move on.

Next is the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, a .380 semi-automatic pistol. I don't like it. I lie a little and say it's okay, but I really don't like the way it jumps in my hand. Erin tells me it's because it's a tiny pistol and we are now using a larger round than before, so I'm going to have to soak up a lot more energy with my body, since the gun won't do it for me. Fortunately, we don't linger on the Bodyguard for long.
Check it out! The Glock 26. It's a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. It's also really tiny. I guess Black Widow has small hands. It's a shame we don't have two of them, but I have a feeling the range masters wouldn't have allowed us to dual-wield.

I make do with the one and the first problem is immediately clear. My mitt is way too big for this gun and my pinky keeps curling underneath the bottom of the grip. I end up having to shoot it pinky out like I'm some bourgeois shooter having tea. The gun's fun to shoot, though, and Erin's got this ring sight on it that makes it really easy to just bring up and shoot.

Lastly, I try the Ruger LCR. Having been a fan of the City Hunter anime growing up, I thought a .357 Magnum revolver would be awesome. It's no Colt Python, but how different could it be?
Simply, it's very different from a Glock 26. The hand angle, the power of the cartridge, my inexperience... it's interesting to shoot, and maybe in time I might get used to revolvers, but I finish off the cylinder and stop.

I had a really great time, and I definitely don't feel like I'd be an accidental liability anymore if you put me on the range with guns. I learned how to operate them deliberately, not haphazardly.

Of all of them, the Glock was the most fun to shoot. It was also the one that gave me the best results on target. With some coaching from Erin and even a few words from the normally-surly range master, I had, in Erin's words,  an "excellent showing". I got nearly all of my shots inside the 9 ring!

I definitely liked the way the 9mm felt the best, though I think I'm going to need to find something bigger. The Glock 26 felt tiny in my hand. Question is... what else should I try? Another Glock? [But they're fugly!] Maybe a Beretta, or Mulder's gun, the Sig Sauer P226?

I guess what I'm trying to say is, let's call this:

Day 0: The Frenzy Begins

Editor's Note:  Ian has since gone on to purchase several handguns and participate in shooting matches. He has recently bought a shotgun and is contemplating his first rifle purchase. 

I've created a monster, and I couldn't be happier or prouder. 

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #36
Sean had the show half edited on Friday night, and when he woke up Saturday morning the external USB hard drive had bitten the dust. He and Adam had to re-record the main show, but luckily the contributor segments were saved on Google Drive.
  • So how are you going to make sure you have a good fire starter when you need one? Erin Palette tells us how to make Char Cloth, which is great for getting a fire started.
  • Nicki Kenyon reminds us that you can't deal with a deadbeat country the same way you deal with your deadbeat cousin.
  • Have you noticed that the anti-gun groups are getting less and less truthful? Miguel Gonzalez has, and he thinks this represents a shift in their tactics.
  • It was probably a great way to bring attention to the desperate need to increase electronic security on aircraft, but Barron B. points out that maybe it's not a good idea to tweet to the world you're about to hack the plane you're flying on.
  • And Weer'd gives us another of his patented Audio Fisks, this time of NC's home grown far left think tank, getting it all wrong about guns.
Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And make sure to share it with a friend!
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Erin

"Hey Erin, come over here a minute, I need your opinion on something."

"Yeah, Sal? What's up?"

"This smell like chloroform to you?"


"She'll be ok in a few hours.."

Sorry to hijack the blog, but I've got a very important message.

Constantine, the entire first (and possibly only) series is available for streaming for free on NBC's website.

There's been a bit of back and forth on whether or not the series will be renewed, but allegedly if NBC gets good numbers on streaming between their website, Hulu, and some other service I can't be arsed to remember at the moment, they'll take that into consideration when it comes time to make a decision on renewing the series. This is your chance to do your part if you want to see a good adaptation continue. Yeah, it got off to a rocky start, but the first season always sucks (unless you're The Flash, apparently), and Matt Ryan deserves to keep playing Constantine so damned well.

If you've already seen it, put it on in the background while you clean house or have dirty sex or summon otherwordly entities or something. If you haven't seen it, you really should.

Friday, April 24, 2015

SHTFriday: Apocabox Unboxing #5

... yeah, I've got nothing clever here.  Have a video.

My Taurus Experience

(Remember Monday, when I said I had a post that became a letter to a corporation? This is the result of that letter. Never let anyone tell you that blogging is dead.)

I am going to tell you about a negative experience I had in the Taurus booth at the NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville, and then I am going to tell you how that experience was turned into a positive one by Timothy Brandt, the Director of Marketing for Taurus USA.

In order to tell you what happened at NRAAM, I am going to share (with his permission) the email conversation I had with Mr. Brandt.
Dear Taurus USA,

I would like to bring to your attention a stunning display of unprofessionalism by one of your sales reps during the NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville. So stunning, in fact, that a blogger who was contemplating purchasing a Taurus PT-22 has instead decided to spend $100 more and buy a Beretta Bobcat instead.

The incident happened on Friday, the first real day of the convention, and I was hanging out with my fellow bloggers Oddball, The_Jack, and Awelowynt when one of us decided to check out the your booth.

I would like to state now, for the record, that both Oddball and I were wearing versions of "SERIOUS GUNBLOGGER" t-shirts. This was his, only in black:

And this was mine: 
Add that to the fact that all four of us were wearing Media Badges, and it should have been pretty obvious that: 
  1. We were press.
  2. We were bloggers.
  3. We liked guns.
In short, it should have been patently obvious that we were on the same side as the vendors on the convention floor. Please keep this in mind, as it will become relevant soon enough.

As I was saying, the four of us had walked up to the Taurus booth and were looking at its wares when a Taurus employee (who looked a surprising amount like Titus Welliver) walked up to us. I know he was part of the Taurus delegation because 1) he was wearing a sports coat, and no one on the convention floor wears business clothes unless they are working a booth, and 2) his vendor tag had "Taurus USA" on it.

The sales rep's name was Kim Kyle. I'm going to say his name as many times as possible, so that it makes as much of an impression in your mind as his actions did in ours. [Author's note: at the request of Taurus USA, I have reduced the number of times I mention Kim Kyle by name. All further references will be replaced with [Sales Rep] to indicate where his name was in the original letter.]

[Sales Rep] walked up to me and looked right at my shirt, tilting his head to read what it says because my badge -- my MEDIA BADGE, mind you -- is in the way. I obligingly lifted the badge up so he could have an unobstructed view. 

When he got to the bottom of the shirt, which has my blog URL listed on it, he murmured "Lurking Rhythmically?"  I helpfully explained that "Yeah, it's a bit of a private joke." At that point [Sales Rep] then looked at me and, in a sneering tone, said"Well, it should have stayed private."

And that, as the saying goes, is where things took a turn. Taurus USA, [Sales Rep] truly covered himself in glory that day, for not only did he start a conversation by insulting someone with a media badge, he then continued to dig a deeper hole by launching into a tirade about bloggers in general and how awful and stupid we are. 

I cannot recall exactly what he said then as I write this article now, because I was getting hot under the collar at the time and anger tends to cloud my memory. Therefore I will postulate two approximations of what he said, with the explicit understanding that what I am saying here is not a direct quote. 
Conversation approximation #1: "This one time I really needed to make myself vomit, so I went online and read what bloggers said about guns."
Conversation approximation #2: "There was this one time I was really sick, I mean puking my guts out, and that still pales in comparison to how I sick to my stomach I felt when I read a gun blog."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how [Sales Rep] introduced himself to four gunbloggers with media passes. Remember, as a sales rep, he needs to make people like him so that they will buy his client's product. In other words, his entire job hinges on making a good impression, and his disdain for online media was such that he deliberately made a bad impression not just for himself, but for Taurus USA as well. After all, he was in the Taurus booth and wearing a Taurus badge.

I happen to get upset easily, and so when [Sales Rep] started spewing his bile, I decided I had better things to do than listen to him and so I wandered off to take a look at the Curve. However, another of my blogger friends stuck around to hear him out; you can read Oddball's side of the story here but I'm going to quote him directly:
He [Kim Kyle] almost instantly started on a 5-10 minute rant about how evil and mean gun bloggers were, and how we only spew lies. I tried to give him a couple outs, since I know that there are many out there that bash Taurus because that’s what all the cool kids do, and not because they’ve had bad experiences/done research/etc. They’re not the only company that has that issue. Some deserve it, and some don’t, and I have been giving them the benefit of the doubt. He failed to act like I might be different. Thanks to Taurus’ sales rep, I have learned that they do not wish to have the benefit of the doubt, nor would they like my good will, business, or recommendations to others.
Oh, and I very much was considering buying one of their products in the near future (the PT-22), but it looks like I will be spending about $100 more on a Beretta Bobcat instead because I’m not a fan of giving money to companies whose representative talk shit about me to my face. I will also no longer even consider telling people to consider buying a Taurus… something that I’m asked on a regular basis.
Later the four of us reconvened on the far side of the booth (well away from [Sales Rep]), and we were all shaking our heads and going "Can you believe that guy? Jeez." Right before we left, I asked my friends if anyone had gotten his card, and they all said no. I decided I would go back and ask him for his card.

Why did I ask him for his card?  A few reasons. First, I wanted his name in writing for accountability, purposes. Second, I though that perhaps he might have realized he'd made a mistake (especially since I was asking for his card) and possibly apologize. I was, in fact, giving him a second chance to make a first impression. 

"No, I don't have a business card," said [Sales Rep], "but can I have yours?"
Pardon me while I interrupt my own letter here, but I do not for one second believe that someone who works in sales doesn't have business cards with him while he's working one of the biggest industry conventions of the year. I just don't, full stop. I think he simply didn't want to give one of his cards away to someone he regarded as a dumb blogger.
The only other option here is that he's so incompetent that he doesn't actually have business cards with him for one of the biggest industry conventions of the year, and if he were truly that incompetent he wouldn't be working the booth at all.
Of course, his behavior has basically demonstrated he makes poor interpersonal decisions anyway, so perhaps he truly is that incompetent. 
"Can I have your card?" he asked, and I said "Oh, you wouldn't want mine. I'm a blogger." I turned and walked away, and again [Sales Rep] made no move to apologize.

Ladies and gentlemen of Taurus USA, some of you may be wondering, "Are hurt feelings truly worth someone losing their job?"  And that's a valid question. It's a decision I grappled with over the following days. 

What it ultimately came down to were these conclusions:
  1. Jobs are tight, and [Sales Rep] is a jerk and possibly incompetent. He's taking a job away from someone who deserves it more. 
  2. Taurus USA's public image is taking a beating lately, what with the poor reception of the Curve and its partial recall, and your Brazil-based parent company recalling all 98,000 pistols issued to the state police because their pistols discharged after being shaken, even with the safety on. And then there are the multiple videos showing various Taurus pistols going full-auto
  3. What I feel Taurus really needs to do to fix both #1 and #2 above is to jettison the incompetent people in order to get the company back on track, because right now I'd rather own a Hi-Point than a Taurus. 
  4. As far as I'm concerned, this is not "My feelings are hurt and I must get revenge". Rather. this is "I detect a definite pattern within Taurus' corporate culture, and the only way it will likely get fixed is by hitting the company in the bottom line."
  5. Clearly I'm not the only one who feels this strongly, as Oddball (who doesn't blog very often) was moved enough to complain about it. And then Miguel of responded by saying that the Latino business model is "Shut up and buy it as is."

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen of Taurus USA, you have a PR problem when the actions of one of your employees ([Sales Rep]) spurs the creation of two blog posts, the promise of a third, and this letter. I was going to turn it into blog post, but I was persuaded by Oleg Volk to send it to you first so that you could take appropriate action. 

I look forward to hearing from you in this matter, and am more than happy to answer any questions about what happened that day. 


Erin Palette

Mr. Brandt immediately replied with the following:
Good Morning Erin,

First and foremost, I want to apologize for the experience you had in our booth in Nashville. I appreciate you sending this note our way, and wanted to respond and let you know that we have received it, and are taking it very seriously. I have plenty more on this topic, but would like to speak to you in person.

On that front, I am tied up most of today, unless you are free in the next hour or so. I do have some time tomorrow morning--and into the early afternoon. Is there a chance your schedule allows a conversation during this timeframe? If not, I have a pretty flexible schedule next week, and want to make it a priority to speak with you on this matter.

Please know that your experience was outside (an understatement) the norm of what we strive to deliver at our shows, and in general day-to-day contact with those interested in our brand and products. There is no excuse for the behavior exhibited, and it is being addressed immediately. We hold our employees and representatives of our company to very high standards, and clearly they were not met here. I look forward to providing more insight on this topic, and a few others you mention in your email, but think it is best to discuss when we're able to set up a time for a call.

Please let me know when you're available to discuss. I look forward to speaking with you soon.


Tim Brandt
Director of Marketing
Taurus Holdings, Inc.

The "tomorrow morning" Mr. Brandt mentioned was today (Friday), and I had a nice long conversation (more than 30 minutes) with him. During that conversation he again apologized for the conduct of Kim Kyle and reassured me that my concerns did not fall upon deaf ears. He also mentioned the following, which I shall bullet point so that they do not get lost in the text:
  • He acknowledged that the culture within Taurus needs to change, and that he and others in management had been brought in to effect that change. 
  • He acknowledged that change does not come overnight, but things are changing, and for the better. 
  • He thanked me for bringing all of these points to his attention -- not just the actions of Kim Kyle, but Taurus' public image in the eyes of the general public -- and reassured me that they were being addressed. 
  • He specifically addressed Miguel's point and mentioned that Taurus USA is in the process of becoming more than a sales and advertising branch of its parent company. Not only is it building research and manufacturing capabilities in its own right, it is also developing new products specifically for American customers that will be manufactured within the United States.
  • He encouraged gun owners to give Taurus guns a chance, as (again) the company is working hard to correct the problems I mentioned in the video links above. 

Overall I would rate this as very good customer service by Mr. Brandt on behalf of Taurus USA. It heartens me to know that a corporation cares about what bloggers think, and I appreciate that he went out of his way to turn a negative experience into a positive one. I also appreciate the fact that instead of closing ranks the way a lot of companies do, Mr. Brandt acknowledged that there was room for improvement and he outlined ways that Taurus was looking to improve.

Mr. Brandt's remarks might not change Oddball's mind; that's up to him to decide. Speaking for myself, however, I will say that the next time I am looking to buy a gun, I will not dismiss a Taurus.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Two possible events happened this last weekend.

In one instance, a group of terrifying misogynists infiltrated a convention, harassed con-goers, and disrupted panels. The convention organizers responded quickly, and brought swift justice down, having them removed from the premises by security and taking steps to ensure that their related events would not be disrupted again.

Alternately, a group of women including cosplayers and comics creators participated in a panel discussion and were later asked to leave by the convention organizers without providing a sufficient reason, but citing that they misrepresented themselves as part of geek culture.

What really happened depends on what side of the media narrative you're on, but it's an interesting case. The podcasting group collectively known as the Honey Badger Brigade raised funds to attend Calgary Expo with a booth to promote founding member Allison Tieman's Xenospora comic. The existence of the comic, as well as a cursory glance at their YouTube channel's uploads, shows that these women have a history of discussing geek culture topics, albeit from a perspective not normally covered. Unfortunately, when pitching their fundraiser, they decided to use some tongue-in-cheek language that, in a clear case of intellectual dishonesty, The Mary Sue used as proof that the Badgers were... well, I'll let you read it for yourself:
“We plan to infiltrate nerd culture cunningly disguised as their own. Each of us has been carefully crafting a persona of nerdiness through decades of dedication to comics, science fiction, fantasy, comedy games and other geekery, waiting for this moment, our moment to slip among the unaware. Once there we will start distributing the totalitarian message that nerd and gamer culture is… perfectly wonderful just as it is and should be left alone to go it’s own way. “
How hideously villainous.

So someone spotted, at their booth, a poster with a GamerGate logo on it (unsurprising, considering that they seem not to be the Listen-And-Believe types that bought the narrative about GamerGate being the most spectacularly unsuccessful cabal of cis-het white males bent on driving women out of gaming) and tweeted the Expo. I'm unsure of the exact timing, but around then Allison and another group member were attending a panel discussion that involved bringing women into comics. I've listened to the audio of the entire panel, and the panelists discussion veered towards feminism and the MRA reaction to it, expressing a lack of understanding of the rift between the two ideologies. Allison spoke up, volunteering to explain her viewpoint as an MRA, and the panelists readily agreed. They spoke for a several minutes in a polite exchange where they even agreed on a few points. The panelist even sounded grateful for bringing a viewpoint she hadn't considered.

The following hours, Twitter was ablaze with outraged people, apparently upset that someone with a different ideology was allowed to set foot on convention ground, let alone have a booth that they paid for with (a lot) of actual, proper money.

The next morning, as they were setting up their booth for the day, the Badgers were approached by Expo staff and advised there were numerous reports of harassment that they'd received regarding Allison's interaction during the panel. They were asked to leave, and additionally that comic creator Allison Tieman was banned from further events planned by the Expo throughout Canada.
Oh, and allegedly Expo staff called the police on the Badgers two days later when they were meeting with fans at a park. Well, the alleged part is the Expo staff calling the cops. The police verifiably showed up:

Yes, I'm aware the timestamp says August 2012. Cosplayer and adult entertainer Anna Cherry is present, though, and she's a recent addition to the group, Weather Channel says it was mid-60s that week, which matches with the mix of light coats and t-shirts, and those are Canadian spring trees, not in mid-summer bloom. Someone in the Badgers apparently doesn't know how to work their damn camera.

If my take of events seems slanted, that's because one side has been far more forthcoming with details than the other. The Expo released a canned statement that serves more to reinforce how good and great they are than to address the events that transpired.

I also can't help but notice that certain outlets (looking at you, Breitbart) have been more than willing to cover this, having interviewed member Karen Straughan, while certain others (stand up, Kotaku) apparently emailed her and offered to interview her a week later. In a 24 hour, on-demand, internet world news cycle, a week may as well be next year.

Now I'm neither an MRA (there but for the grace of etc, etc) nor a feminist (at least, not anymore. I got the message loud and clear that my ilk wasn't welcome), but looking at this from a neutral standpoint, I can't help but boil it down to this:

Calgary Expo accused a group of women of being fake geek girls and told them GO HOME GAMER GIRL because they were guilty of wrongthink, and wrongthink is ungood. 

Picture: Calgary Expo telling women to go home, courtesy NBC's modern Reefer Madness.
For fuck's sake, Liberal Left, we're supposed to be better than this. You don't get to call yourself inclusive when you kick out people that express polite dissent. I have a real problem with people that say out of one side of their mouth "We love and support women and minorities" while saying out of the other "unless you disagree with us.  Then you don't get an opinion and we will do everything to silence you." 

WNW: "F**K This Court"

I apologize for not posting anything of wit or substance last night.

However, please accept this by way of apology:  a nine(!) page legal document titled "Fuck This Court and Everything that it Stands For," actually filed in a county clerk's office on April 20 of this year.

Did you ever wonder what a legal document would look like if it were filed by the type of person who leaves YouTube comments?  Wonder no longer.

I have to say, though:  as phenomenally a bad idea as this is, I have to say I admire this woman's courage and commitment to her course of action by filing this as an actual legal document.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Consolidated Starship Weapons Chart

Tonight's TT isn't very sexy, but it ought to be pretty damn useful.

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

This is the Master Weapons Chart for all Traveller weapons so far. However, be advised that it contains the following House Rules (and is therefore not canon):
Also, the following design decisions were made:
  • Spinal weapons are not listed, as they are capital ship grade and this chart is for adventurer-scale ships. 
  • Ortillery missiles/torpedoes/bays are not listed, as they are not commonly used in ship-to-ship combat.

Assuming these heresies are to your liking, you may partake of this as you wish.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #35
The day after the NRA Annual Meeting, Adam and Sean sat down to talk about all the cool things they saw. It was a great event, and they want all of you to come out to next year's NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY.
  • Erin Palette is on assignment* and will return next week.
  • Nicki Kenyon talks about economists and foreign policy.
  • Miguel Gonzalez reviews Nashville's crime rate during and before the NRA Annual Meeting.
  • Barron B. once again reminds everyone why you shouldn't EVER use the default password on your nanny cam.
  • And Weer'd sticks a pin in CSGV's lie about why we "need" so called "Universal Background Checks."
You have to listen to this episode. The dramatic presentations during Barron and Weer'd's segments are totally worth it.

Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And don't forget to share with a friend!
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
*  Actually, my throat was all scratchy from con crud. and since I appeared last week and the others didn't, I figured it would be fair to them and better for my health if I just skipped a week. Which works out, because without my segment they were already at the hour mark anyway. -- Erin

Place holder post

I know I've written a hell of a bridge-burner when someone who is not known to mince words, nor care much for consequences, says "Let's talk before you post this."

So this is where my Monday post would go. It's out for editing and ought to be back some time tonight.

UPDATE:  Blog Post has become a letter to corporate and is getting attention. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Traveller Tuesday Saturday: the Peregrine-class Interceptor

This is something I teased my players with as they were refueling in an interdicted system. They were suitably impressed with "their transponders click on well within your sensor range, they fly across your bow at 15 Gs, and then disappear well within sensor range" that the PCs declined to scan for signatures.

That was probably wise.

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

The Peregrine-class interceptor is little more than a 10 dton fighter mounted to a 20 dton engine. This gives it incredible performance (15G maneuver) at the expense of nearly everything else.

As an interceptor, its mission profile is simple:
  1. Travel under stealth at high speed toward a target. 
  2. Scan the target and determine if it is hostile or not. 
  3. If hostile, deploy its payload of high-yield missiles at short range (to prevent them being shot down by point defense).
  4. Return to base to re-arm, or track the hostile at a safe range, as situation demands. 
In order to accomplish this mission, severe miniaturization is used. As a result, the Peregrine is an exceptionally expensive TL15 fighter (193.7 MCr, not counting the sunk costs for stealth technology*). 

* Rules for enhanced stealth can be found in Noah Ternullo's excellent Apparition-class Multirole Deep Intruder, which is recommend reading for all Traveller GMs. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

SHTFriday: Convention Survival Strategies

Having returned from my second NRA Annual Meeting, I present you with some tips and tricks for how to make your next convention experience a safer, happier, more prepared one.

Also, there's a cartoon at the end!

& is used with permission.

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #34
It's the NRA Annual Meeting Minicast, featuring Sean, Adam, and myself in a short roundtable segment inside the NRAAM Press Room.

Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And don't forget to share with a friend!

Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Devil of Broadcast's Kitchen (spoilers)

No really, there are spoilers here. Turn back if you haven't finished the show.

And so, while men of Iron and Magic Hammers fly in the urban canyons of NYC, we have a war brewing, simmering on a smaller scale in the charmingly-named Hells Kitchen. A place where the colours are washed out, and you wonder why anyone bothers wearing a coat in this heat. A place where the shadows themselves will sneak up and knife you in the ribs for your pocket change, and the little old ladies that have lived there their whole lives are harder men than the street toughs themselves.


Now that I've got that out of my system. Daredevil, won't you? Netflix's first toe dipped into the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be quite the success. If you haven't seen it, please stop reading now. I mean it. I won't be held responsible for butt-mad over Spoilers. Stop reading this, go watch 13 hours of Netflix, and come back. I'll wait.

In the meantime, how about that costume?! SPOILERS!!

Ok, all caught up? Phwoar. Wasn't that a ride? When I said simmering and boiling earlier, that wasn't just (corny) noir metaphor. What Netflix has delivered us is essentially a 13-hour origin story movie, not just for DD, but for Kingpin and the rest of the supporting cast. The episodic format really allows Daredevil room to expand on the usual flash and noise of the MCU films, drawing much more detail and nuance out of the characters and the world they inhabit in a way that was really only previously attempted with Winter Soldier, where they started the film assuming you already knew Cap, Widow, and Fury. Most origin stories give you maybe 20 minutes of build-up before we see the hero in the suit, but by saving it until the very last episode it has some real impact. We've really invested in Murdock by this point, seen him built up and torn down, and almost can't help but cheer when we finally see the suit.

There were a few, but very few, things I didn't like. I don't like Foggy, at least not yet. He's grown a little on me, but as I've heard it recently said something growing on you means that you're noticing less the things you hate about it. I didn't like Karen Page at first, either, but that may be less her fault and more Frank Miller's (still can't stop thinking “Daredevil's junkie ex-girlfriend” and worrying about her future, especially given her mentioning moving onto something harder than alcohol). I didn't like the surprise deaths of two of the supporting cast either, as I was really fond of their characters, but then Hell's Kitchen is dark and full of terrors. I should be used to this by now.

I adore Vanessa. Especially her acceptance of Fisk and his reality. I appreciate how this wasn't just Murdock's origin story, how it gave so much time to Fisk as well, showing us his childhood, his daily routine, how he fell apart after one of the aforementioned deaths. Vincent D'Pnofrio deserves some kind of award for his portrayal of Fisk, both for the physicality he brought to the role (how much weight did he put on, anyway?) and the mental portrayal as well. I see very clearly the childhood trauma, as well as a possibility of Fisk residing somewhere on the autism spectrum from D'Onofrio's performance. I dearly hope we see Madame Gao again, as well as seeing where her “true home” is,  it being much further away than China she said mysteriously. I enjoy Rosario Dawson in just about everything she's done (even Josie & The Pussycats), and didn't even peg her as Night Nurse until I'd looked her up later. I hope she shows up again. Stick is gloriously un-PC, perhaps the grouchiest old mentor that ever did mentor.

I mentioned, in hyperbole, that Daredevil has ruined Arrow for me. There is a little truth behind that. Netflix is taking a really dirty, realistic approach to the vigilante hero genre, one that is obviously far at odds with the slick, clean presentation of a CW show. There's a layer of grime on Daredevil that makes it so much more grounded, possibly the most grounded of all the MCU offerings yet, and it shows in everything from the establishing shots to the fight scenes. Shots of the streets of Hells Kitchen are teeming with people. There's garbage stacked against walls. Camera shots are much wider. Fight scenes have people rocked with fatigue and are not the clean, graceful ballets shown in Avengers or Agents of SHIELD. People get seriously hurt, and it wears you out just watching Matt Murdock take a beating just to get back up and take out a room full of thugs.

Ok, for real this time. How badass does he look. 
Ending where we began, the fact that this came out all 13 episodes at once on Netflix, and has pretty much set the internet on fire, shows an interesting development. This is a tight and focused story, and avoids having filler episodes or really even filler scenes, unlike other shows that have abbreviated runs.  This is my first experience with the launch of an internet-only show. I understand House of Cards and Orange is the New Black have come before it, but the idea that a show can drop an entire series at once and cause such an impact is fascinating, and it's got me eagerly anticipating the next MCU show.

...even if it is Jessica Jones.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Owning It, Part II

I'm back from the NRA Annual Meeting, and am pleased to report that the post-con drama has splashed on someone else this year.

However, some of you will remember what happened last year, and how I made a promise that
Perhaps I will become the poster girl for all the queer, transvestite and transgender gunnies out there (oh, they do exist, and probably in greater numbers than any of you imagine). And once again, I will be doing it to promote our cause, showing that gun owners, as a whole, are accepting of alternative sexualities and genders and lifestyles
It's not quite a year later, but behold the fruits of my labor: a poster inspired by my idea, and exucted by none other than Oleg Volk.

Now, I rather doubt this picture will "break the internet". I do, however, hope it causes more than a few brains to implode (or explode; I'm not picky). I would LOVE for this poster to be used as rhetorical ammunition against the folks who believe that “Guns are only for straight white males.” This ought to shut them up fast, and maybe get them to re-think their positions.

Inasmuch as you need my permission to post this picture to chat rooms, Facebook statuses and other online arguments, you have it. If they express doubts, just send them here and I'll happily tell them:
That's me, in the middle: the witch* with the beard.
Yes, I am biologically male. Yes, I identify as a woman and wear women's clothing whenever possible.
Yes, I am also pro-gun, pro-self-defense, and pro-liberty.
I do not see any conflict between these two viewpoints.
It is my sincere hope that this will encourage a change of thought from the folks who believe that "Guns are only for straight white males," because clearly they aren't.

For those who would like to learn more about me and my situation, I encourage you to read these blog posts as they will hopefully address most of your questions:
      1. Confession Time
      2. Duality
      3. My Origin Story
If you have any other questions about who I am or how I identify, I will be happy to answer them as I consider this a "teachable moment." Any legitimate question, no matter how poorly phrased, is welcome.

So, there you have it: I've taken last year's mockery and turned it into a powerful message about the diversity and inclusion of the gun community. 

Your move, haters.

* It’s the costume I wore on Halloween of last year. The convergence of “witch costume” and “Avada Kedavra on my rifle” was just too rich to ignore.

Friday, April 10, 2015

By the time you read this...

I will be already dead in Nashville for this year's NRA Annual Meeting.

Hopefully the guest article I set up over at Blue Collar Prepping has already posted.

Have a great weekend, everypony!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Little Pony: Equality is a Social Construct

So I got talked into watching MLP a few years back by my roommate, who got in on the ground floor when 4chan originally had its pony explosion. I was reluctant. But I gave the show a chance, and will tell anyone who asks that it's really not bad. It's more intelligently written than a lot of kids fare, with positive messages and a clean art style, but I didn't watch much beyond the first season so I'm hopelessly lost on continuity. And that's all the time that I'm going to spend defending why I'm writing about it now. Not that I really need to, given Erin's loud and proud acceptance of it.

But I've no idea at all how this two-part episode was made, let alone green-lit. It's heavy subject matter, even for adult programming. The teal;deer of it is that the mane cast are called, via a magic map, to a town that may be in trouble. When they arrive, they meet something not unlike some Eastern Bloc village that wouldn't look out of place in 1980s Romania or Poland. Dilapidated, nearly identical houses, beaten-down looking people (er, ponies) with bags under their eyes and a smile masking abject terror of stepping out of line, a few with literal sack-cloth clothing. They're greeted by the townsfolk and their spokesperson, all of whom have an Equal symbol instead of the regular cutie-mark most characters on the show have.

We're given a run-down of the situation in the town in the form of a musical number which cements this as thecreepiest god damn cartoon I have ever seen, even taking into account any number of anime I may have attempted watching over the years. With lines like “No pony left behind” and “you can't have nightmares if you never dream” delivered through forced smiles and cracked voices it's obvious that this episode has a Message behind it. And normally, I can't stand Message stories, unless they're very well handled.

Which... this one is. Given the implication that any inhabitant of the town that steps out of line is quickly squashed, and that people are assigned work that they clearly are not good at nor have any desire to do so, the episode seems to be tackling the difference between Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Outcome. It's a difference that I think is an important one to acknowledge. One is a good thing. The other means that you're not letting people pursue what's important to them. Which should go without saying is not a good thing, but I'm sure there's people out there that don't feel that way.

This is, essentially, Harrison Bergeron for kids. Which is the most subversive thing I've seen since the Lego Movie, and that just tickles me to no end. The foreshadowing statement of “I bet there's some horrific monster behind it all” becomes especially poignant when the horrific monster turned out to be someone that thought they knew what was best for those around them and took steps to hobble the abilities and talents of others for the sake of everyone else. Even moreso when it turned out that the horrific monster had the rank hypocrisy to not only keep her talents but use them to enforce equality amongst the town. The very worst villain is the one that thinks they're the good guy.

Given all the recent advancements in outrage culture, this really couldn't have come at a more politically convenient time. Some form of equestrian Marxism, with the imagery of the equality symbol smeared across miserable people. I even cheered a little at the scene that mirrored the old Apple advert with the woman throwing the hammer at the Big Brother screen. Given that I've been questioning my own political affiliations based on the most vocal proponents of them and have seen good people smeared with terrible slurs against them for simply disagreeing with hivemind lock-steps, I can't help but feel it resonate when so many miserable faces are represented by an equality symbol, and the word equal used with such sinister overtones.

And don't think I didn't catch that Wilhelm scream during the final scene, Hasbro.

I've included a link, if you're interested in seeing a mature audiences, non-pony version of the episode.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Imperial Navy Fleet Standards

Just a short post inspired by my studies of Imperial ships and what "Fleet Standard" entails

To everyone expecting "Rum, sodomy, and the lash," my apologies.

Those are traditions, not standards.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
The Imperial Navy requires capital ships to meet or exceed the following current expectations:
Jump-4: This gives excellent deep-strike capability for invasion, raid and maneuver, and makes all but the largest rifts passable.

4G Maneuver: There is simply no excuse to have a G-rating below that of the mandated power plant. Higher mobility, however, is always a good thing, and 6G is rapidly becoming the expected (if unmandated) standard.

Fuel: Enough for a jump at highest rating and 4 weeks of operation.

Fuel Processing: Minimum requirement is the ability to refine enough fuel for a Jump-2 in a day or less. Shortening this time is greatly preferred, and many ships can refine all fuel in 2 days.

Armor: 12 points of effective armor against lasers. While this will not protect against a capital ship barrage, it proofs it against smaller attacks by fighters and non-capital ships.

Screens: One meson screen and one nuclear damper.

Hulls: Radiation shielding and self-sealing hulls are standard.
Some ships do not meet this standard; in some cases, this is due to age of the design and those ships are either refit or moved to reserve status (such as Azhanti High Lightning-class cruisers). In other cases, this is done deliberately, and these ships are designated "local assets" for use within the subsector (example: Kinunir and Sydkai-class cruisers), typically for anti-piracy and anti-insurrection operations.

It is a point of curiosity that the 500k Tigress dreadnought does NOT meet fleet standards. yet is still part of the frontline order of battle. This is likely explained by "The Admiralty spent a lot of money on it and wants to see it used."

Interestingly, and depressingly, there is no Imperial minimum for escape pods. The informal formula seems to be  at least [(Total crew size) - (flight crew + frozen watch)]/2, which shows either a chilly disregard for the lives of the crew or an expectation that any event which require abandoning ship will result in 50% casualties.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Monday Gunday: Important Info for Nashville's NRA Convention

WizardPC of Guns, Cars & Tech has some urgent information to tell you:
Nashville’s mayor is really, really anti-gun.

Nashville’s police chief thinks people who didn’t like Mike Brown protestors shutting down I-40 are racists.

Nashville’s newly-elected District Attorney has been on the job less than 6 months and has already had 3 major ethics scandals.
I highly recommend you go read the whole thing if you plan on visiting Nashville any time soon.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #33

Adam and Sean return to their normal format after our April Fool's Episode.

We have a new sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Go to and sign up for one of Andrew's seminars or buy his book. Use discount code Variety at checkout and get 10% off!
  • This week Erin Palette prepares us for spring allergy season.
  • Nicki Kenyon give us her thoughts on accused deserter Bowe Bergdahl.
  • You've seen the crazy video of a guy almost getting shot at a shooting competition? Well Miguel Gonzalez tells us who he blames.
  • Barron B. answers Sean's questions about those "speed up my internet" ads.
  • And in response to a request by friend of the show Joshua, Weer'd talks about the New York Anti-Gun Store video.
Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And don't forget to share with a friend!

Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.

Friday, April 3, 2015

SHTFriday: Putting Rust to Bed

Do you remember that whole mess where my guns got rained on and when I took them out for cleaning they were rusty?  That incident spurred me to investigate methods to remove rust more efficiently than spending hours and hours scouring metal with a cleaner and a brush

Today's Blue Collar Prepping post talks about two of those methods, and they both involve much less effort than scrubbing.  Better living through chemistry!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Fall of a Liberal Heart

So the big announcement has gone out that John Stewart will be leaving The Daily Show. His replacement is a comedian from South Africa, Trevor Noah: a half black, half Swiss Jew who grew up in Apartheid. A mixed-race child with interracial parents in a time and a place where such a thing was literally illegal. Amazingly, outrage culture has found a way to attack him, he who would otherwise be the perfect demographic to replace Stewart, because he's made some dodgy tweets.

But that's not what we're here to discuss. It's been talked to death. I've had a crazy week, and I'm behind on everything right now, so I'm going to make my contribution short. I discussed David Pakman previously, and how his Gamergate interviews seemed to age him every-so-slightly and make him question his stances based on who he supposed his allies to be. It's happening again.

I've never been a fan of Patton Oswalt. By the time he was on my radar, he'd become known for goofy, awkward comedy, and he reminds me of me several years ago. Extremely Left, extremely Progressive. But he's said some things I agree with:
It just really, really bothers me, if the liberal progressives have now become the scolds. We were the Grouchos! We’re not the Margaret Dumonts — and we’re turning into the Margaret Dumonts on a lot of levels. That lets the misogynists and homophobes and racists seem like the rebels: “Well, we’re saying what people can’t say anymore.” We should be having way more fun with language and jokes and going too far. If our side starts doing that, then I think we’re fucked in terms of moving forward as a society.
As is becoming more and more predictable, the reaction to Trevor Noah's dodgy tweets has, perhaps, pushed one more person further from the Progressive Left, and this one's got an audience. Read below. While these may have been tweeted dangerously close to the vicinity of April Fools', I believe them genuine at this time, based on Oswalt's past behavior and statements.

A joke in 53 tweets, helpfully collected in chronological order.

He's now being attacked in some corners. Being called a "brocialist" and being mercilessly ripped to shreds for defending the idea of comedy. And yet... even the most fervent peddlers of outrage culture at Jezebel seems to be aware that there was a line somewhere, and we've clearly crossed it.

Even some of the foot soldiers of the outrage machine are starting to show a glimmer of self-awareness. Taken from neo-reactionary progressive hive /r/GamerGhazi:
"Lacked moral character"? Really? You see this is what I was talking about. It's not enough to just say "He fucked up" it has to become a judgement about his worthiness as a human.This is why people don't like us liberals. We don't judge actions, we judge people. I personally thought the fat chicks joke was awful. I thought the tweet about Jenner and the Kardashians showed PROFOUND ignorance. But you know what else I thought? That the world would be a much better place if we could get HIM to see that. I'm more interested in getting people to STOP being shitlords rather than feeling self satisfied at publicly calling them out when they are.We throw around high minded ideals about tolerance and standing up for the downtrodden, but when it comes down to it we're about judging, pointing, and laughing not to try and make the world better but because it makes us feel good. It's Brianna Wu's bloody cup of coffee all over again.
In short, I can no longer, in good faith, apply a certain label to myself. I give up Progressive. I no longer want that label, given the behaviour of others using it. This is the same kind of horse-shit that made me stop calling myself a feminist. I'm tired, I'm going to bed, and I have no idea what I will be when I wake up.

And isn't that exciting?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Not dead, just busy

Sorry I haven't been posting much. I had two projects with serious deadlines (now down to just one) and one long-term project. Between those, and Blue Collar Prepping, my time is mostly gone.

Speaking of BCP, check out today's post for some prepper-style April Foolery.

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