Monday, October 31, 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #115 - Pocket-Carrying Botnets Count America's Guns

Trying to fit a pocket pistol into girl jeans is like trying to cram 10 pounds of Maura Healey's stupid into a 5 pound bag.
  • So why is it that women can't just carry guns in their pockets? Beth gives tells us the story of a "helpful" male trainer who didn't stop to think that maybe he wasn't as helpful as he thought he was.
  • What kind of person tries to kill a cop with a stolen car? Sean takes a look.
  • THE INTERNET IS DOWN! THE INTERNET IS DOWN! ...well, maybe not. Barron explains how a botnet made it impossible for many to access the websites they needed most.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin take a look at that very interesting question: How many guns are really in America?
  • Sometimes a story is so big that Tiffany can't cover it in only one show. She jumps back to the 'Good Samaritan' story to talk about how a reliably anti-gun journalist had a decidedly non-typical response.
  • When your survival is on the line, the people you surround yourself with can make the difference between life and death. How well do you know them? Erin tells us that now is the time to get to know them well.
  • Either Maura Healey just can't seem to see reason, or she just loves to see herself getting the Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™ treatment. This time she's on Boston Public Radio.
  • Our plug of the week is for Armed Lutheran Radio,
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsors for this episode, Remington Ammunition and Lucky

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Salem MacGourley and the Quest for the Holy Grails

After the last month of political commentary, I really, really feel the need to take a break and speak on a lighter subject. Many of you know that one of my hobbies is playing video games, but another hobby, one that I'm absolutely unashamed of, is collecting toys. It's a specific aspect of that topic that I'd like to speak on today: the aspect of toy collecting that is the "Grail."

In pop culture, the grail is most commonly known as the cup that Jesus drank from, as seen in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, sought after not only for its rarity, but also for the healing power and immortality it would bring. In the world of toy collecting, finding a rare item may not bring you immortality, but it definitely brings a sense of satisfaction and closure.

I don't currently have any unobtained grails, thanks to a recent spate of good fortune in hunting them down, but I'd like to show you the pieces which I've obtained that hold a great deal of sentimental value to me.

Transformers Alternators: Ravage
In Transformers history, Ravage was originally a robotic leopard that turned into a cassette and was an accessory to Soundwave, who turned into an 80s style boombox. The Alternators line licensed the appearance of real-world vehicles and adapted existing Transformers characters to fit them: Optimus Prime as a Dodge Ram SRT, Jazz as a Mazda RX-8, and Smokescreen as a Suburu Impreza WRX were among the most popular, but Ravage was one that I always wanted just because of how clever it was. Ravage came in two forms; one of them was "Battle Ravage," basically a repaint/remold of Tracks's Corvette C5 with a cat's head, but the other one... well, it was a Jaguar that turned into a jaguar. I somehow managed to find one for retail price at a comic shop downtown in Albuquerque.

Arkham City Deluxe Mister Freeze
The Batman: Arkham games are some of the finest games, super-hero or otherwise, that I've played. The normally-dismal Mattel started making the figures based on the series, but production was picked up by DC's own DC Collectibles production house instead, with superior sculpting, articulation, and paint-work just in time for Mister Freeze to come out. He towers a full head's height over the Batman figures in the line, and is a fitting representation for one of the most creative boss fights in gaming, where (depending on the difficulty setting) you may have to attack him in up to 10 different ways. This piece normally goes for over $120 on eBay due to its rarity, but another shop had him for a mere $60. 

Play Arts Kai Arkham Knight Batgirl
My most recent grail is one that's only been released for about a month now, and has not left my desk aside from her photoshoot here. I've spoken at length about my admiration for the character of Barbara Gordon before, and her appearance in the Arkham game has been pleasing as a fan, especially given how disappointing the comics have been for her recently. Play Arts Kai is a premium figure line produced by Square Enix (the same Square Enix responsible for the Final Fantasy games series), and they are known for their detail and articulation at a rather large scale, with figures ranging between 9 and 12 inches tall. I have to admit that this piece was not a grail for its rarity -- given that it's brand new and acquiring one would be as simple as ordering one -- but for its importance to me as possibly the finest representation (in plastic) of Batgirl that I've ever seen. 

Collecting can be an expensive hobby, considering the price tags on some of these things and how full my shelves are. I've currently got a Marvel Legends version of Scarlet Witch from the Civil War movie on its way to me, and in the next year or so the Arkham line is going to have a two-pack featuring their version of Batgirl as well as Barbara Gordon with her wheelchair. Then there's the NBC/Arrowverse Constantine, and the Legends of Tomorrow squad is getting figures, too.

And then there's the ones I'll never be able to justify or afford, such as the Titans Return Fortress Maximus (I'm accepting donations, I say, tongue firmly planted in cheek), or any Hot Toys figure of an MCU character.

I love my plastic. I can pick up a figure and relive a story I experienced in a moment with them. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Feng Shui: Brain Shredder

(Yes, I'm running a day behind. These things happen.)

Supernatural Creature shticks arguably changed the most between versions (arguably because Arcanowave schticks largely disappeared from 2e, with the remaining few being integrated into Scroungetech).

Now, some of these changes were for the better: I can totally see why Armor (an overall Toughness buff) was broken down into Corded Musculature and Steel Hide (close combat and ranged Toughness bonuses), and Corruption is best used as a foe schtick (where it lives on as Contagion).

But some powers were just outright removed, and I don't like that. So this is me with a quick-and-dirty conversion for them; some powers have been split into different schticks.
Animal Transformation I
As Transformation (q.v.) but you transform into a single animal species instead of a human form. While in this form you can't access your other creature powers, but you do have access to its native abilities (flight, echolocation, breathing water, etc). This form is not suitable for combat.

Animal Transformation II
As per Animal Transformation I, but you can spend 1 Magic or 3 Magic to assume a new, normal-looking animal species other than your default. If you spend 1, you can never assume that species in any subsequent session. If you spend 3, you can change to that species at will for the length of the series.

Brain Shredder I
You can provoke in other intelligent beings a fear response so intense that they suffer brain damage. Your victim must be able to clearly see you and vice versa. Base damage is 7; victim uses Fortune instead of Toughness.

Brain Shredder II
As above, but base damage is 10. 

Brain Shredder III
As above, but base damage is 13. 

Damage Immunity
As the first edition version, but this schtick is only for NPCs. PCs will just have to make do with ridonkulous Toughness ratings and Regeneration.

As the Mind Control schtick from the Influence specialty of Sorcery. (Sorceror PCs may not like this, but how else are you going to model western vampires?)

Luck Stealer
After damaging any featured foe or boss with any close combat Creature Powers attack, spend 1 Magic and 1 shot as an interrupt. Gain +1 to Creature Powers and they gain -1 to their main attack until next keyframe.

Night Dweller (2e schtick)
Replace "outdoors at night" with "in darkness" to make this worth taking. Darkness does not have to be total darkness, although it can be (possessing this schtick allows you to see without needing light), but any lighting more than candle light will negate this power. 

As the Override Will schtick from the Influence specialty of Sorcery.

Mutant Powers for Supernatural Creatures
If the GM is feeling frisky, the following mutant schticks may be available to supernatural creatures: Acid Blood, Brain Bleed, Berserk Rage, Blinkshifter, Camouflage, Chanel Pain, Empathy, Eyes on the Back of Your Head, Go Cartilaginous, Pain Eater, Psychic Vampire, Push, Shared Sight, Skulky, Very Fast. Replace all references to Genome points with Magic points. 

Supernatural Powers for Mutants
Similarly, a GM may allow the following creature schticks for mutants: Amphibian, Blast, Corded Musculature, Death Resistance, Emit Smokescreen, Empathic Rage, Flight, Inevitable Comeback, Insubstantial, Natural Weapon, Night Dweller, Rage Against Machines, Regeneration, Steel Hide, Transformation, Venom Sac. Replace all references to Magic points with Genome points.

Disclaimer: I'll be honest, I don't grok what the writers were going for with mutant powers. They aren't specifically Comic Book-style powers, but neither are they Gamma World-type mutations. They're just strange. If I could figure out their flavor, I could see more of a divide between then and creature powers; but I can't, so I don't.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Gunday: the UTM RBT Target Shooting Kit

I have been remiss in talking about the cool things I saw at Big 3 East Training Center's Fall Media Event, but I think I can be forgiven that based upon the whole Hurricane Matthew thing.

Anyway, this is a very cool item that I not only saw at the event, but I also won in a raffle! It's a bolt carrier group (BCG) and accessories from UTM (Ultimate Training Munitions) that converts my 5.56 AR-15 into a what is basically a "simunition" platform.

I put "simunition" in quotes because instead of one kind of projectile, it has several: silent blanks which only work the bolt, which are good for training noise-averse shooters; loud blanks which go bang but shoot nothing; civilian target ammunition (which came in the box that I won) which will penetrate paper targets but not a firm surface like plastic sheeting; and "man markers" for force-on-force training.
This is the Core Kit. It comes with a specialized bolt which cannot fire a live round (the firing pin is offset and will strike the case, not the primer, of a 5.56/.223 round); a 10-round PMAG; a squib removal tool; and a 50-round box of Civilian Target Ammunition.

The kit retails for $250.
The BCG for the UTM ammo. The blue color is visible through the ejection port, and the panel prevents the port door from being closed, so you cannot confuse the trainer for the real thing

This specialized BCG cannot fire real ammunition due to its offset firing pin:
Attempting to use the UTM BCG to fire live ammo results in a pin strike on the cartridge case, not the primer.
I really like how UTM seems to have thought of everything here. 
A close-up of the "man marker" cartridge and a spent round.
The back of the catridge is basically a large rimfire primer, which blows the bolt back; another primer propels the round forward. 
A selection of the various cartridges available. From left to right: red Man Marker Rounds; Battlefield (noisy) Blank Rounds, and Silent Blank Rounds.
A picture from a higher angle, so you can see the difference in tips. Blue man markers are on the right. 
And a close-up.
The box it came in, just in case you're curious what it looks like.

One of the many neat things about this product is that, with the proper setup, you can practice inside your home; the marker tips are easily stopped by a thick sheet of vinyl like their Target & Holder Kit. Just imagine being able to shoot in the comfort of your own house or apartment!
The biggest drawback here is that the rounds themselves are expensive: $33.74 for a box of 50. Wow! That's 30-06 cost right there.
But despite the cost, I'm looking forward to testing these... because I got them free!

Thanks, Big 3 East!  Thanks, UTM!

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #114 - Erin Puts the Title Here Or She Gets The Hose Again

Would you listen to us? I'd listen to us. I'd listen to us so hard.
  • Beth talks about teaching firearms classes for women, what she gets out of it, and why women come to her classes.
  • Sean takes a closer look at the killer in a murder-suicide at Forsyth County Medical Center.
  • Barron is back from his epic family vacation across the West. What tech tools did he use to make his trip easier?
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin discuss the intersection of depression and gun ownership, and why the "No guns for the mentally ill" argument can be used against non-crazy gun owners who just need to see a doctor now and then.
  • Hurricane Tiffany is back home after a whirlwind tour of New York City and San Antonio, Texas. Strap in as she tells you of her amazing adventures being our best ambassador EVAR!
  • Are you feeling SAD? Does less light in the winter months cause you Seasonal Affective Disorder? Erin talks about what you can do to fix it.
  • It appears that Dan Savage likes getting smacked around by Weer'd. He's back for another Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
  • Our plug of the week the NSSF's website
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here

Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Final Countdown: Who Wins, Who Loses?

Finally. We reach this, the final showdown. The last debate of the 2016 political free-for-all that's become so consistently embarrassing that it's now cliche to even call it a shit-show. So then, my thoughts?

  • Moderator Chris Matthews opening with "None of the questions have been shared with the parties." Good. Makes for a pleasant change of pace, doesn't it, DNC?
Topic: Supreme Court
  • Hillary, why are *you* against Citizens United and dark, unaccountable money? You wouldn't be standing there without it. 
  • Trump's judges will be pro-life with a clearly conservative bent. There goes his chance with disenfranchised Bernie voters. 
  • Hillary: "I support the second amendment." No, you don't. No further comment needed here.
  • Roe V Wade: I'm with Her on this one. Not on the Planned Parenthood thing, but on Roe V Wade, definitely. Planned Parenthood has documented income outside the government, nearly half of it's income, and it could survive without it. Or better yet, incorporate it into existing health care structures. 
  • Hillary on late-term abortion bans "When I voted as a senator I did not think that was the case." Did you not READ the case? 
  • Trump, If they "rip the fetus out of the womb" 3-4 days before the due date, wouldn't that just be a cesarean, unless the baby turned out nonviable and a threat to the mother's health? 

Topic: Immigration
  • Trump, there's a difference between a "path to citizenship" and amnesty. One actually involves making it easier for people to become citizens legally, the other just ignores the problem.
  • He's not wrong, despite the meme of "Bad Hombres," about having some people that have crossed borders that need to be taken back. Have you seen Breaking Bad? I live in Albuquerque. I know people like that. It's practically a documentary. 
  • Hillary: "I voted for border security in the senate." Yeah. A fence. Which acts much like a wall. 
  • The words "Twitter War" just happened during a presidential debate.
  • Trump: "Hillary Clinton wanted the wall." Called it. 
  • Hillary: "New technology to protect the border." I read that as "drone strikes on the US/Mexico border by 2018. 
  • Trump: "Obama has deported more people." Yep. He's right. ABC News even ran a story on this
  • Hillary, stop manterrupting the moderator.
  • Hillary's response to Wikileaks: "RED SCARE RED SCARE RED SCARE
  • Wait, are we still on immigration? 
  • Why *won't* anyone else say the words "radical Islamic terrorism?"
  • Trump: "If Russia gets along with the US, that'd be good." Why is this a bad thing? I don't want another Cold War. Can we *please* make some kind of peace with Russia? 
  • Hillary calling Trump a puppet is the only time I've ever seen "NO YOU" used as a valid defense.
  • Trump, stop manterrupting the moderator.
  • Both of these people want us to remain Team America World Police. Trump just wants us to get paid for it. 
Topic: Economy
  • Hillary's not doing bad here. She's mentioned trades and apprenticeships, which is good because college degrees have been devalued over the last few generations. 
  • Stop name-checking Bernie, Hillary. We haven't forgotten, and it's not making you look any better.
  • So the basic difference here is Trump wants to invest in rich business owners, trusting them to spend that money to increase jobs. Hillary wants to invest in education and the middle class, trusting them to use that to better themselves. I think Hillary's got this one. With one caveat that she's ignoring. The income from being Team America World Police.
  • I love Trump's strategy of "I've done all this shady shit, so I'm in a perfect position to identify it and remove it." He's not wrong, but god damn the balls it takes to say that. 
  • Hillary: "Donald thinks belittling and attacking women makes him feel better." Hillary, Donald belittles and attacks everyone. Didn't you watch the RNC debates? Little Marco? Lyin Ted? Low Energy Jeb? He's not discriminating here. 
  • "Make our country even greater" - Hillary Clinton, 2016
  • "Nobody has more respect for women than I do." Still don't believe you, Trump. Neither does the audience.
  • "Let's not be divisive, let's lift people up." Like you did Bernie, right, Hillary?
  • "Took money to buy a six foot portrait. Who does that?" You trying to diss Copperhead's Biggie painting? 
    • God DAMN Luke Cage was good.
  • Aaand we're back to tax returns.
  • Trump has a good point here. How do we know Hillary won't protect her donors? 
  • Trump: Media is corrupt. Media: TRUMP LITERALLY HITLER. 
  • Hillary: "Media is fine." Media: SOMEBODY SAID WIKILEAKS CUT THE FEED.
  • Trump says Hillary shouldn’t be allowed to run. So that makes two of you. 
Topic: Foreign Hotspots, or "What's a Mosul?"
  • Do we want to put troops back to replace the troops we pulled out when we finished the job the first time? Ugh. But Trump is right about one thing: You don't telegraph your movements to your enemies. The people we're after probably *are* already gone. 
  • Hillary: "You should ask Bernie Sanders who he's supporting for president" We would, but he's too busy In his third house. Which probably has a bathroom bigger than my flat.
  • "What's an Aleppo?" A catastrophe. Have you seen it? Have you? HAVE YOU? 
  • "If a Russian plane violates the no fly zone, does President Clinton shoot that plane down?" Oh boy. Here we go.
  • "Women and children" Oh right. Women are the primary victims of war, right Hillary? Right? 
  • It's swaths, Trump, not swatches. 
  • GDP vs debt: "Why are both of you ignoring this?" God DAMN Christ Matthews you are a hero. 
  • "I wonder when America really was great?" Comparatively speaking to the rest of the world? For a while now. Will both of you stop bashing the US? There's a hell of a lot of worse places to live than the US. 
Topic: Social security and Medicare
  • What does Obamacare have to do with this? 
  • In the middle of Hillary's answer Trump mutters "such a nasty woman." Oh Trump, we're gonna hear from VICE or Vox or Huffpo about that one. Or all of them. For a solid week. 
  • Hillary please stop talking about HIS plan and start talking about yours. You've spent more time talking about his plan than yours. 
  • "Emphasize wellness." Hillary, my right leg hurts. I have a nerve that misfires in my right thigh that causes pain, itching, numbness, whatever depending on its mood. I have a muscle in my hip that has me on a prescription for Valium because it tenses and squeezes another nerve. I have an ankle that was pulverized when I was 17 and still hurts, and I can't feel about 30% of my foot. Please tell me how wellness will help that, when my GP visits are 50% more expensive than they were a few years ago, and my insurance covers not even 20% of an MRI? 
I voted Obama. It's terribly conflicting when Trump says "You get four more years of Obama when you elect her" because that hope that was promised fizzled. But he's such a joke. This was surprisingly subdued for a final debate. Hillary is the ultimate culmination of generations of political breeding. She's the Apex Politician. Trump is a madman that's managed to calm down quite a bit. I still don't want either of these two. At this point, I can't help but lean more towards the mountain-climbing hippie pothead that doesn't seen to own a pair of slacks and sometimes randomly sticks his tongue out and forgets the names of cities and leaders. I feel like he'd do less harm to the country than either of these two.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a Valium to relax my hip muscle and a Vicodin to stop my thigh from burning and hope that whichever of these potential monsters takes over the country I can still afford them a year from now. Since this was the last debate, next week I'm going to take it easy and talk about a topic I enjoy and show you all something really neat I got. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Feng Shui: Bag Full of Guns

I acknowledge it's been a while since I've talked about the Traveller RPG. Have no fear, I'll get back to it in time -- I've just been in an odd headspace lately, what with all of the traveling (heh) I've been doing, and dealing with a hurricane, and... well.. being distracted by another shiny RPG:
For people who don't travel in the same nerd circles that I do, Feng Shui is a balls to the wall action RPG that attempts to emulate all the awesome goofy goodness of Hong Kong cinema (and, to a lesser extent, Western action movies as well). Anyone who's watched a Jackie Chan or Jet Li movie already knows what I'm talking about, but if you aren't a fan of subtitled movies, then go watch Big Trouble in Little China; it's basically a Hong Kong movie made for Americans.

I played the first version of Feng Shui back when it first came out... dear gods, twenty years ago, I feel so farking old now... and I backed the Kickstarter of FS2 last year. But while I love PDFs for looking up rules during a game, I have trouble actually getting into a game unless I can browse the dead-tree version at my leisure, and the hardcopy version of the game isn't cheap. But thanks to the glory of Amazon gift cards via the Affiliate program, I was able to afford the printed rules!

And like you'd expect from me, I immediately started going "Hm, I don't like that rule... this needs to be changed,.. wait, they left THAT out?" And so, I'm going to indulge my House Rule impulse until I get it out of my system.

This post deals with the Bag Full of Guns schtick, which is a good attempt but falls short of what it could me. Here's the stock version:
Bag Full of Guns I
Start each fight with a revolver (9/2/6). Each time  you fail an attack roll, spend 0 shots to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4).
Okay, that's... not terrible. The notion of escalating firepower is cool, but a level 1 schtick allowing a 0-shot weapon switch seems excessive (it normally takes 3 shots to switch weapons). But Bag Full of Guns levels II-IV have the kludgy and totally unnecessary "homemade weapons" rule which is as unnecessary as the homemade guns are overpowered.

Here's how I would do it:
Bag Full of Guns I
Start each fight with a Colt Detective Special (9/1/5). After each attack, spend 2 shots to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A1 (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4).

Bag Full of Guns II
Start each fight with a Colt Detective Special (9/1/5). After each attack, spend 1 shot to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A1 (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4), M16 (13/5/1).

Bag Full of Guns III
Start each fight with a Colt Detective Special (9/1/5). After each attack, spend 0 shots to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A1 (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4),  M16 (13/5/1), Hand Grenade (23/2/-). [You have a theoretically infinite number of grenades in your bag.]

Bag Full of Guns IV
Start each fight with a Colt Detective Special (9/1/5). After each attack, spend 0 shots to move to the next item in this gun list: Colt 1911A1 (10/2/4),  Desert Eagle .357 Magnum (11/3/3), Chiappa Rhino (12/3/5), Mossberg Special Purpose (13/5/4),  M16 (13/5/1), Hand Grenade (23/2/-), Grenade Launcher,  Rocket Launcher, or other ridiculous form of explosive or incendiary military hardware (18/5/6). [See rules for Military-Grade Weaponry, p.130.]
With this version, each increment of the schtick decreases weapon switch and gives an increasingly impressive ultimate weapon without the ridiculous "homemade weapon" rule.

Before you ask: There are no current rules for belt-fed machine guns in Feng Shui. However, since an M249 SAW is the same caliber as an M16, the M249 basically has the same stats as the M16. Be sure to check the "Automatic Weapons" rule on p.128. The .30 caliber M60 has the same stats, except it has the "two skulls" damage of 7.62mm ammo, as opposed to the "one skull" of 5.56mm.

Other Thoughts
I didn't want to clutter the rule block with additional info, as the entire point of Feng Shui is to be shot, sweet, and deadly, but here are a few notions I wanted to append to the Bag Full of Guns concept:
  1. The FS2 core book says "you can personally carry a number of guns and clips equal to your Strength Action Value. Bring a gym bag, however, and all bets are off. Tip: bring a gym bag. Needless to say, the schtick Bag Full of Guns comes with its own gym bag." From this I decude that anyone with the BFoG schtick can carry a theoretically infinite amount of guns and ammo, subject to the good humor of the GM. 
  2. Based on this, and bolstered by the Full Metal Nutball "Ready Resupply" schtick which seems to indicate tossing a fresh gun or magazine to a teammate, it could be easily argued that any PC who wants to spend 3 shots next to a Bag Full of Guns schtick owner could get fresh ammo from the bag. 
  3. It is less easily argued that a teammate might be able to take the next gun on the list, because that could lead to abuse. On the other hand, they are spending shots doing it rather than doing fun action hero things, so at least a price is being paid. If the GM is feeling cranky, perhaps the teammates need to spend a Fortune point as well as shots in order to rearm. 
  4. "How is BFoG different from Lightning Reload?"
    • BFoG allows you switch weapons for little/no shot cost, but reloading them is not affected. It's basically the "New York Reload" schtick with escalating lethality. 
    • Lightning Reload is better used for characters who really like one kind of gun and want to keep it running. 
  5. "The rules say 'start each fight with a revolver.' What if I want to start a fight with something else?"   
    • The BFoG schtick belongs to the school of thought where quantity is better than quality. If you want to start with a specific weapon, maybe you should invest in a different schtick, such as Fast Draw. 
  6. "If I have the Signature Weapon schtick, how does it work with the Bag Full of Guns draw order?"  
    • See above. 
  7. "If BFoG is about dropping empty guns and picking up new ones, why not use the Battle Scavenge schtick?"
    • Battle Scavenge forces you to roll to rearm, but gives you a free Fortune die if you're successful. BFoG requires no roll and grants no free Fortune die. 
    • BFoG grants control over what you pick up; Battle Scavenge only lets you glean what has been dropped by dead NPCs. 
    • It's basically a question of "How do you want your Guns character flavored?"

Next time, I'm going to address the question all the fans of supernatural creatures are asking:  "What the heck happened to the Brain Shredder schtick?"

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Necessity of Solitude

If you've been wondering why I didn't post on Friday, or why today's post is so late... well, the title of my latest Blue Collar Prepping article might be a clue.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #113 – Hurricane Matthew After-Action Report

In this Very Special Episode, Erin and Sean share their memories of evacuating from Florida and hunkering down in North Carolina, and talk about the lessons they learned from the experience

Stay tuned after the regular show for a quick update on Sean's opening day hunting adventures!

BethBarronTiffany, and Weer'd will return next week with our regular podcast format.

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here

Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsors for this episode, Remington Ammunition and

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Salem is Still Doing Political Play-by-play?

Here we go again. Rooster vs Lizard, part 2, GO:
  • The pre-game show: Bill Clinton vs Melania Trump. I'm waiting for Bill to jump her and try to chew her ear off. Literally. That's not a joke. 
  • Oh damn. Broderick and company are in the audience? That's gotta be awkward. 
  • "I want us to heal our country." - Hillary Clinton, 2016. 
    • Do you mean you want... to... make America.... Great... Again? 
  • "I want to make America Great Again." - Donald Trump, 2016
    • Do you mean you want... to... Heal... Our... Country?
  • Trump, you sound really subdued, bruv. You had a rough weekend? 
  • "Nobody has more respect for women than I do." I really beg to disagree, Mister Trump. I'm not one of those people that's onboard with you being the devil or Literally Hitler, but I'm fairly certain that statement isn't true. 
  • I really don't get the outrage over the #TrumpTapes. None of this stuff is shocking in context with other things he's said. Does make for good memes, though. 
  • The reason Bill's proclivities keep coming up, if you'll allow me a bullet point to rant, is that the same people that say "Rape Culture" isn't people literally going around raping people unpunished, it's society's way of making excuses for it, are the people ignoring the legion of women that have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault of varying degrees while Hillary either (according to varying reports) looks the other way or intimidates them into silence. Hillary is an enabler of Rape Culture. She's possibly the worst advocate for women that I can imagine. 
  • "Mister Trump, were you a different man 11 years ago?" Scientifically speaking, he was a different man approximately 7 years ago when all of his cells shed and regenerated. Psychologically, who hasn't changed in 11 years? 11 years ago I was a con artist and not psychologically damaged to the extent I am now. 
  • Aw, man, Trump even brought the victim of the guy Hillary defended way back in the day? Why didn't he just come on-stage smoking the cigar that Bill humidored with Monica? 
  • Hey guys, Hillary has a website. Anyone know if she's written a book? 
  • "Because you'd be in jail."
  • Oh... Hillary took the bait. Trump kept badgering her about the emails and Hillary took the bait and got mad. Good. GOOD. GOOD, HILLARY. SHOW SOME PASSION. You almost convinced me you're not a lizard-person. I want to see you mad. I want to see you passionate. I want you to show me that you've got some kind of range of emotion. 
  • You know, it's a recorded phenomenon that men use their health insurance less in general, and that's not even taking into account reproductive health services. Men pay more for car insurance because they're more prone to have to use it. Women paid more for health insurance because they were more prone to go to the doctor instead of waiting it out. 
  • How many times can Trump name-drop Bernie Sanders in 90 minutes? Let's find out, as he baits the anti-establishment crowd for all he's got. 
  • "Is it OK for a politician to be two-faced?" This is a question that someone asked a politician. Props to Hillary for bringing up Lincoln. Lincoln personally believed black people were inferior, but was still the figurehead of the anti-slavery movement. Do I believe Hillary can hold heinous beliefs and still do good things? Do I believe the opposite instead? 
  • Hillary, you bring up Russia as often as Tim Kaine brings up Tax Returns. 
  • Speak of the devil, there's the tax returns. 
  • Trump, channeling Tyrion Lannister: "Wouldn't be nice if we could work WITH Russia?" In a recent episode of Game of Thrones, Tyrion reminded Grey Worm that "You make peace with your enemies, not your friends." 
    • That said, I don't particularly want Trump as president, but I also don't want Cold War 2.0. 
  • On taxes: "Everything Donald says isn't true." Really? I want George Soros's tax returns, then. 
  • On Syria: "What's an Aleppo?"
  • Trump, with all the complaining about time limits and interruptions, you're starting to sound like Ted Cruz. You made fun of him for that. 
  • Oh boy, we're talking The Deplorables. Are we going to get a Rare Pepe out of this? 
  • Hillary: "The campaign Bernie Sanders and I ran." U FOKIN WAT M8? 
  • Calling it now: Huffington Post runs a headline about how trump saying "Rejiggering" is racist.
  • "Name one positive thing you respect in the other." Oh, this is gonna be good. 
  • Hillary: "He's got good kids." What, you mean the one with the M&Ms and Rapists Skittles and refugee picture? 
  • Trump: "She doesn't quit and she doesn't give up. She's a fighter." Damn. Taking the high road, Trump. Good shot.
I call no winner. I call Mulligan. This is basically my impression. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My Final GRPC Interview

This video is the first interview I did during the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Tampa, and ironically it's the last to be aired.

Yes, I am aware that a t-shirt and a skirt do not sit well on me. I didn't realize it THEN, but I know it NOW.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Vroom Vroom, Baby

My name is Erin Palette and I'm a Performance Tranny. *

And now, context:

Tuesday, October 11 is National Coming Out Day, and even tough I came out as trangender three years ago, I wanted to observe the day and also let all my friends know that any word I use for myself is a word you can use for me -- so long as you use it kindly.

I acknowledge that some transgender people dislike the word "tranny", and so I won't use it to describe them and I encourage everyone else to be gentle with its usage. But personally, I find the entire thing funny -- after all, doesn't a transmission "switch gears" and doesn't a transgender person essentially do the same thing in the eyes of society? -- and by using and laughing about a word which is allegedly offensive, I reclaim it and remove its harmful power (c.f. the Pink Pistols and their reclamation of the pink triangle).

Ignorance = Fear. Keith Haring, 1989

I refuse to be told which words I can and cannot use for myself because no one except me is allowed to dictate how I identify. The LGBTQ community has long held that Silence = Death, and I believe that censorship is how we silence that which frightens or offends us. If we are silent, if we cannot be heard, then we might as well not exist in the mind of the public, and that is how we become marginalized and stepped upon.

So yes. I'm a tranny, and when called upon I perform like you wouldn't believe.

Vroom vroom, baby.

* I'm told that I'm a 4:11 final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Playing Catch-Up

Hey everypony!

I've been pretty quiet here lately, and that's because I've been playing catch-up from a five-day evacuation from Hurricane Matthew. If you're a reader of Blue Collar Prepping then you already know what's happened, but just in case you aren't, go read my posts where I basically liveblog the storm and my reaction to it. The short version is that I had a good scare but everyone is fine now.

The fringes of Matthew at sunset, Oct 5. 
I'm also going to be backdating posts so I have a nice spread of articles, rather than 3 all at once.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #112 – Erin Packs Up the Welcome Mat(thew)

Erin is evacuating Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew, which means that Weer'd is filling in as Backup Co-Host.
  • Beth gives us some highlights from The Well Armed Woman National Leadership Conference.
  • Four are arrested for murdering two and burning their bodies in a car. Who are these people? Sean takes a closer look.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return in a few weeks.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Weer'd discuss the apparently divisive topic of shot timers in gun school.
  • What are the costs of being the person in the middle? What does it take out of a person when they are between two worlds? Tiffany tells us how straddling two different groups has its costs, but also rewards as well. 
  • Before she packed her car and headed for the hills, Erin recorded us a quick segment about dealing with anxiety and stress... which should come in handy as she waits to see what the storm brings.
  • Just because Weer is co-hosting doesn't mean he isn't doing the Audio Fisk™. This time it's the Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
  • Our plug of the week is for Armscor .22 LR ammo, available at LuckyGunner.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I Refuse to Placate Your Stupid Robot

Hey all. The reason I haven't posted much here this week is because I was preoccupied with a little thing known as Hurricane Matthew that was happening at the same time I was attending an out of town media event. As Salem mentioned on Friday's highly relevant post, I evacuated to Georgia to avoid not only any destruction the storm might bring, but also the annoyances of loss of power, water and internet, and now I'm hanging out with friends and being Prepper Fabulous in full-on girl mode. 

So with that said, here is a rant I wrote on Facebook:

Apparently "being trans" requires the ability to "give no fucks", which is an attitude I have trouble cultivating. I shall explain.

Today, I got all girled up to go meet some friends and hang out with them, and I had a *great* time.

And then I went to Walmart.

I needed to pick up some supplies because, frankly, I have Super Jew hair on pasty Irish skin, and that means I have to shave to a fare-thee-well if I want a chance of hiding Ye Olde 1700 Umbra with makeup. This means I go through razor blades fairly quickly, and getting girled up today killed both my boy razor (face) and girl razor (other), so I needed new ones

Thus I went to Walmart, and acquired fresh horses, and while I was there I got a few other things for my girlie side like scrunchies and the like.

And then I had to check out.

Now the thing you need to know about me is that while I am not completely antisocial, checkout is one of those times where I truly do not want to deal with people because they will try to talk to me and UGH all I want to do is buy my shit and leave. I don't want to talk, I don't want to be asked how I'm doing or how my day has been been, just ring me up and get me out.

Now, because I am not a rude piece of shit, when I do not feel like dealing with cashiers, I go to the self-checkout units because they don't ask me how my day was. This is perfect. It's doubly perfect because, well, I wanted to use my debit card instead of cash, and since my card is in my legal boy name, I figured using the card would invite judgement or questioning looks.

Yes, I am aware that the cashiers likely don't look at the names, and if they do they won't give a shit. See above re: me and fucks given. Also, knowing my luck, I'd get the one assiduous cashier who would look to see if the signature matched, see the difference, and call the manager and/or the police because clearly I'd stolen a debit card from some guy so I could buy $30 of beauty products.

Anyway. I get to self checkout and proceed to scan and bag. I get ALMOST DONE when the machine says that I didn't bag the item -- or maybe it said there was something in the bag that didn't belong, I don't recall. The point here is that I had been doing everything properly, with everything that ought to have been in the bag actually in the bag, and nothing in the bag that shouldn't have been in it.

So the machine doesn't like my arrangement, fine. I take the item out and put it back in to make it happy. It still doesn't like it. Okay, fine, I will take out ALL THE ITEMS, cancel the entire transaction, and do it all again but slower because apparently this machine is special needs.

I try to cancel out, and the machine basically throws a fit by saying that it requires an associate to void the transaction. In other words, now am I not only going to have to deal with a human, I get the added pleasure of looking like either an idiot who doesn't know how to self-checkout, or some shady bitch who's trying to scam the Mart of Walls.

At this point, I just threw my hands up and walked the the fuck away. Yes, I abandoned all my items; there weren't that many and an associate was going to come over anyway, and frankly I was tired of the whole thing. All I wanted was to buy my crap and leave, and instead I was dealing with technology which couldn't understand that I had indeed properly scanned and bagged my crap.

Call me petty, but I felt that buying stuff after that would be saying "Sure, you have shitty tech that gives poor service, but have my money anyway." I reward good customer service and shun poor.

Thank you for listening to me gripe. I feel better now.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Fireside Chat: Hurricanes and Evacuations

Morning, everyone.

As I mentioned yesterday, Erin is otherwise occupied with staying well out of the path of a major storm (and probably taking some well-deserved down-time with some friendly faces), so I'll fill in today. As it so happens, I have some experience with this sort of thing. I lived for nearly a decade in what the locals call Southeast Texas (in reality, there's no such thing. Texas has no south-east corner. It's the Gulf of Mexico. You people have to understand this). In that time, I lived in Beaumont and Port Arthur, two very economically depressed areas with nothing more notable to them than refineries, swamps, and mold. Damp enough and close enough to be part of Louisiana, with only a legal border and blue laws separating the two, and a cost of living unreasonably jacked up by the pay that the refinery workers received.

My first experience with a hurricane was Hurricane Rita. Rita is referred to as 'The Forgotten Storm" on account of it coming barely a month after Hurricane Katrina absolutely curbstomped New Orleans. The media coverage of Katrina was incredibly extensive, with images of stranded refugees camped out on bridges and people crammed into stadiums trying to make sure they had enough water to survive another day until the city's infrastructure came back online. Rita was barely a blip in the media, and the story goes that while we got a visit from the President, it was only to survey any damages to the oil pipelines.

I'd only been living in the area for a year or two so had no idea what to expect from it when it came to the weather. Before I'd moved there, I'd been drifting between Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL and had been lucky enough to dodge any major storms there, and was under the impression that Texas was mostly desert and prairie. As such, I was unprepared and undecided when the city advised people to evacuate. Should I stay? What would the repercussions be? How bad would the storm get, and what rebuilding would be necessary?

Rita, as it turns out, happened to be an absolute monster of a storm. Reaching Category 5 status before making landfall, it was the fourth most intense tropical storm ever recorded on the Atlantic side, and it made landfall near Sabine Pass and marched straight up Highway 365, where I shared an apartment with my ex-wife.  Her mother opted to stay behind, taking shelter in a school with other residents of that tiny city just outside of Beaumont. We finally made the decision to leave from her mother's house in Lumberton late Friday night, with the storm making landfall mere hours later. We reasoned waiting so long would mean less traffic, as everyone would have evacuated already.

We... were wrong. We made it as far as Jasper, smooth sailing along the highway, before traffic became a complete gridlock, with the opposite lanes occasionally opening for contraflow, as no one was allowed back in the area, but it took 9 hours to make the usual 90 minute drive to Nacogdoches. From there, we headed East, above and beyond the storm, but it took another 9 hours of driving before a hotel was found, due to them being occupied primarily by displaced New Orleans residents from Hurricane Katrina. At that time, I'd been awake for more than 24 hours, most of it on the road. It was nearly two weeks before we could head back home, only to find that our apartment complex had suffered major damage. Nearly every building had flooded on the first floor, and the majority of rooftops, including ours, had been ripped clean off. The entire facility was to be closed for at least six months (which ended up being closer to two years) for renovation. The place I worked at had closed as well, as an entire corner of the building had been destroyed, and had only just re-opened the other side of the building.

The second experience was much simpler. At that time, we were living much further inland, in Beaumont. I can't even remember the name of it, but I was off of work that day and slept through most of it, only remembering remarkably heavy rain.

The third time was Hurricane Ike. Ike was gearing up to be a monster, too, but this time I was prepared. I'd been divorced by this time, and had a group of friends. My little 25 year old Corolla was the real hero, as we packed 3 people and provisions into it and headed off early enough that we, balls firmly out, drove through New Orleans ahead of the storm, skirting the very edge of it and staying just ahead of the worst, at times nearly being blown off the road and into Lake Pontchartrain, and into a dry county of Alabama, where we worked for 2 weeks at a branch office my company had in Winfield, AL. Our company was kind enough to rent us hotel rooms, where much alcohol was consumed, and I was very nearly the meat of a sandwich of two women I was decidedly not interested in.

The moral of the story: If you hear that a hurricane is coming, be ready. Pack provisions, plan a route, and make accommodations ahead of time. Absolutely do not wait until the last moment. I'm not a prepper, unlike Erin and some of you, but I know how to pack a bag fast, and what to pack, so that I can survive on the road if need be.

I've spoken to Erin, both on the road and after she reached her destination, and I know she's ok, but I'm raising a glass in hopes that she's got something to go back home to. In the meantime, she's requested that I link you to this, an update to her status.

Regular programming will resume shortly. We appreciate your patience.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Greatly Anticipated Vice Presidential Debate!!

*sounds of loud snoring*



Salem, wake up. There's a debate on.

Fine. Let's get this over with. Bland guy versus bland guy, GO!

  • Tim Kaine is leaning really heavily on the whole 'proud of running alongside a woman' thing and Trump fear-mongering. 
  • Pence is discussing his own experience. Reminds me very much of one of those military officers that has to make a hard decision in a movie seconds before the hero saves the day. Like that guy Glenn Morshower always plays.
  • Tim, stop trying to convince me Hillary is passionate. Lizards are cold-blooded. 
  • Pence is right, Tim. You and The Hill do spend an awful lot of time talking about Trump and not about yourselves. Stop trying to convince me to vote against somebody and convince me to vote FOR somebody. 
  • At this point I can't tell these two apart aside from Pence's luscious silver hair. 
  • Wage gap? Really? How many laws have to be on the books before we admit it's not *because* of gender? 
  • More tax returns. Yes, Tim. He probably should release them. Yes, Mike, he does pay payroll taxes, or more specifically Trump Enterprises (or whatever it's called) does. What's *he* paying on *his* income? 
  • Oh god race relations. Generally my opinion of someone drops drastically when they use the words "dumpster fire" but this one qualifies. 
  • "I'm a gun owner and I support the 2nd Amendment" - Tim Kaine, 2016. Tim, are you running on the right party, bruh? 
  • Pence, to Kaine: "I agree with you on community policing." Wow... uh.. Can we ditch Trump and The Hill and just have these two run on a ticket together? 
  • Tim Kaine hates context. I bet he'd be a good writer for Salon. 
  • "Criminal Aliens." I'm not sure if that'd be more or less offensive to a progressive than "illegal immigrant." Or Gary Johnson. Chill, Gary. 
  • Uh, oh. Tim brought up the Irish. Don't bring up the Irish, Tim. The identity politics people will eat you alive if you remind them the Irish had problems. 
  • "What's so enjoyable about nuclear war?" says old man who has clearly never played a Fallout game.
  • These two have about as much concept of the passage of time as their running mates.
  • What's an Aleppo? 
  • Damn, Tim. Bringing up Trump's tax returns in that 15 year period in relation to 9/11. Ok. That was a good blow. Low, but good. Not sure what it has to do with whatever an Aleppo is, though. 
  • Tim's answer to everything is tax returns. Russia? Tax returns. The Clinton Foundation? Tax returns. Nuclear proliferation? Tax returns. Zombie outbreak? Tax returns. Killer clowns? Shotgun. (I mean, come on, he *did* say he was a gun owner)
  • Wait, how do you know Trump owes so much money to Chinese banks without his (everybody, now!) TAX RETURNS?
  • Fuck me, the Democratic VP candidate is a bible-quoting Catholic. Somebody get me a source on Pence's denomination. 
  • Why is the Republican wearing a blue tie and the Democrat wearing a red tie? I mean they're mic'd right. Tim's mic is on the left, Pence's on the right, but the ties are the wrong colour. I can't be the only one that noticed this. 
I came away from this with the impression of Tim Kaine as a spastic, unprofessional, and over-eager child, and Pence as a leader, if not an overly charismatic one. I can't take Tim seriously. At all. Pence, on the other hand, seems a more solid candidate than any of the ones that were in the GOP primary. I honestly don't think Trump deserves him, and I think this might be a long-game in which if Trump wins, Pence is going to be doing most of the work with Trump as a figurehead. If Trump loses, we'll see Pence running against The Hill in 4 years (assuming she makes it that far). 

[author's note: The show must go on. Erin is, as we're all aware, currently in rapid transit away from a monster storm and will probably be unavailable tomorrow. I'll fill you all in on an anecdote or two regarding my own experiences of evacuation instead.]

Monday, October 3, 2016

Two Videos of Interest

Here's another interview of me, taken on the last day of the conference, by Kimberly Morin of New Hampshire Political Buzz. Go to her site and read the article (it's a very nice write-up, and embeds the OBS map), and then watch the video.

Unflattering screencapture FTW!

And for those of you who didn't listen to last night's GunBlog VarietyCast, or who maybe want a way to spread the "Embarrass Sean While Raising Money for Charity" love, I present you with this amusing little tidbit:

I'm still working on getting someone to hold the money for me (because I don't want to be in possession of $10K for tax reasons), so as soon as I have that link I'll drop it here like it were hot.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #111 - Sean Tells Erin It Can’t Be Done

Can she? Or can't she? Sean challenges Erin to do it. Do what, you ask? Listen and find out!
  • Beth talks about a ladies' Sunday School outing... to the range. Maybe Alabama really IS different.
  • The crime didn't happen at 3 a.m. for once, but the people involved sound pretty familiar. Sean tells you who shoots, who gets shot, and who is in the car when the shooting happens.
  • Before Barron takes some time off, he tells us about how censorship on the internet just might become a whole lot more democratic, and how that won't be a good thing.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin talk about Second Amendment Foundation's Gun Rights Policy Conference in Tampa. Erin has an idea on how they can get to GRPC 2017 in Dallas, but Sean says she can't do it.
  • In one of the sweetest, and most interesting interviews ever, Tiffany goes out and finds one of those on-the-fence, "gun-curious," but under-represented people she's always talking about: her mom.
  • In an uncharacteristic move, Erin prepares for her Blue Collar Prepping segment by not prepping at all. She talks about the value of practice by talking with Sean about their experiences in speaking on camera.
  • Weer'd is back with part two of Weer'd vs. Science in this Audio Fisk™ of two "Science Versus" podcasts.
  • Our plug of the week is for the Second Amendment Foundation.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!

Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here

Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsors for this episode, Remington Ammunition and Lucky

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Erin on Gun Freedom Radio

As promised earlier this week, here is my interview on Gun Freedom Radio.

My segment starts around the 30 minute mark.


The Fine Print

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

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