Monday, November 28, 2016

Erin on Gun Freedom Radio (again)

Once again I was the guest of the lovely Cheryl Todd and her husband Dan over at Gun Freedom Radio.  My segment went out this weekend, and I come in at the 30 minute mark in the second hour and talk about I don't think a Trump presidency is the doom and gloom that so many LGBTQ people think that it is.

Give it a listen!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #119 - Thankfulness 2016

We forgot to add that we're thankful Fidel Castro is dead.
  • Beth brings her whole family to give thanks. 
  • A road rage shooting? Sean takes a look to see who is involved in this "Blood in the Streets!" affair.
  • Barron is back, and this time he brings his family with him. It's been a rough year, but they have things for which to be thankful.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin also tell you the things for which they're thankful. Sensing a pattern?
  • There's a pizza shop in Philadelphia that's thankful for a concealed carrier, and Tiffany tells us all about it.
  • Did you eat too much during the holidays? Your stomach will be thankful that you listened to Erin tell you how to prepare for gastrointestinal distress.
  • The only anti-gun podcast is back (sort of) and Weer'd is thankful for that. Check out his latest Audio Fisk!
  • Our plug of the week is for Hero Lab.
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!

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Thankful for Blessed Relief

I’ve been asked by Sean to keep this short, so in the spirit of post-Thanksgiving food hangovers I’m going to mention some medications that every prepper needs in their first aid kits: over the counter solutions for digestive maladies.

For typical indigestion, heartburn and general “I feel yucky in my tummy,” you want an antacid like Pepto Bismol.

If you still feel bloated, you want an anti-gas medication like Gas-X.

Now if you’ve eaten so much turkey that you’re having painful “carnivore poops”, you’ll want a stool softener like Ex-Lax or MiraLax. By the way, if NOTHING is moving down there, a great cure for constipation is Magnesium Citrate. (It comes in a bottle so it’s not easily carried in bags, but keep it in your medicine closet at home. It works really, really well; just trust me on this.) 

Finally, if things are moving too quickly and you have diarrhea -- which can be life-threatening in a disaster situation, because it can dehydrate you quickly -- take an anti-diarrheal like Immodium.

Now take those four -- Pepto, Gas-X, Ex-Lax and Immodium -- and put them in your first aid kit alongside activated carbon (which I talked about in episode 55) and your painkiller of choice, and you ought to be set to fix any gastrointestinal distress.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

PonyCast & Herd Immunity Cyber Sale!

Starting now and lasting through Monday, all GunBlog PonyCast and Herd Immunity merchandise from my Teespring store is 15% off if you go through the links above.
(An explanation about the "X days left" notation on the items: Teespring is weird in that it requires campaigns of fixed length in order to sell things. I have set up the storefront so that when a campaign ends, it automatically re-launches with the shortest duration possible: 1 day. This allows you to get your merch shipped quickly rather than having to wait several days for the campaign to end.

In other words, don't worry about it: the t-shirts etc. can still be bought even if the timer "runs out".)

Also, if you intend to shop on Amazon this weekend, please consider using my referral link. It costs you nothing and helps me afford more ammo and range trips!

Friday, November 25, 2016

What You've Lost, and What You're Leaving Behind

When I wrote my last week's missive on my car and first-world problems, I didn't think any more of it. I didn't have even a spark of an idea of what I was writing about this week until a few separate ideas culminated in a topic I'd very much like to discuss.

It's a symptom of a disease that's been eating away at my side of the political spectrum for a while now. It sticks in my craw that my idea of the Left has been the compassionate one, the one that just wants to look out for the little guy even if we have a nasty habit of overreaching in doing so, but since the election with the, my side's more vocal proponents have been showing they care very little indeed for the little guy.

I used to be proud of this.
Over the last few weeks, I've seen one of a few reactions. There are the articles that are clearly sitting down and going "Okay, this is why we lost. Our party is corrupt, and we spent so much time calling everyone sexist and racist and transphobic and misogynist that we alienated a vast majority of voters, and while they may be problematic, we'll never win them over to our side that way."

That's an OK way to think. It acknowledges that there's a problem, and starts a conversation (a genuine conversation, with more than one point of view that goes more than one way -- that's the way conversations work, in case you had other ideas) about how to fix it.


That bothers me, but nowhere near as much as this.
Every single one of those is more than a month's rent for me.
It all started the other day, when I posted to a social media feed the ticket prices to Hamilton, and how privileged you must be to be able to afford to see the show. I obviously ruffled a few feathers, as I received a few unkind words in response.

Mere days later, I was greeted with these tweets (I still do not condone the use of Twitter) that perfectly illustrate another topic I have written about. I only know who one of these people are, and that's Francesca Ramsey from MTV's Decoded, who has appeared in my writings before. She's the drill sergeant in the Social Justice Boot Camp.

That's right, Ms. Ramsey and Mr. Kalidi. Some of the people who are boycotting Hamilton (and those of you who are, knock it off. When Mike Pence said people booing him was the sound of freedom, that was possibly the most mature statement I've heard a politician say all year) can't afford tickets. That's because when they go on sale, they're a "reasonable" $200, but then they're gone immediately. Faster than sports games or music concerts. If you want to see Hamilton, the only reliable way to do so is to spend what is, to a lot of people, an entire paycheck for one ticket.

I have no idea if it's any good. I'm sure it's a fantastic musical; my progressive friends won't shut up about it. What I do know is this: I'm a liberal that didn't want Trump for president and I can't afford tickets to Hamilton. To me, seeing Hamilton isn't worth the price of admission, so while I'm not boycotting it, I certainly won't be seeing it, either.

Which brings me to the term "Coastal Elite." If you're not already in one of those major cities in the US that would decide the election alone if we scrapped the Electoral College, you can't see Hamilton, because a) you probably don't make enough money, b) the ticket prices, and c) you have to add the cost of travel and lodging to the price of the tickets. Redundant? I don't care. If you're mocking people for not being able to afford a seven hundred dollar theater ticket, I want you to drink in every redundant word I'm typing here.

The bottom line here is that I'm completely fed up with the natural evolution of the Champagne Socialist and Limousine Liberal, which I dub the Perrier Progressive: the ones with their moralistic heads so far up their own moralistic asses that they can't empathize with the fact that not everyone makes enough money to spend their entire month's rent on seeing a goddamn play.

Until you can realize that, we're not the good guys anymore; we're the ones fiddling while Rome is burning around us, blaming the poor proletariat for all the world's problems. Maybe the fire is the good guy now.

Kiss my broke ass.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, Everypony!

Yeah, I kinda of checked out of this week early due to the impending holidays. Tomorrow my butt belongs to mom as we put up Christmas decorations, so don't expect to see much of me.

Have a great weekend, enjoy good food and the company of loved ones, and remember to be thankful!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #118 - Will Your Plan Survive Contact With the Enemy?

Fortunately for you, this podcast will survive contact with your ears.
  • Beth is excited about a new project. What is it? She's happy you asked.
  • When five robbers invade your home, it's going to be a bad day. But who are they, and who would they target? Sean takes a closer look.
  • Barron is On Assignment and will return next week.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin use the example of the Taunton Mall Shooting to consider how your decisions under fire may cost you more than just your own life.
  • Are you tired of all the political stuff? Tiffany is, so she takes a break from it and gives some new gear a whirl.
  • Why are zombies able to sneak up on the characters in "The Walking Dead"? Because they aren't using proper protective equipment. Erin gives us some thoughts of eye, ear, and respiratory protection for preppers.
  • If you won't conduct a proper autopsy, how can you tell the actual cause of death? And when you're talking about a political campaign, refusing to see the truth means never understanding why you lost. Weer'd takes a closer look at one false gun control election post-mortem.
  • Our plug of the week is for the Grid-It Organizer.
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.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Protect Your Senses

So I was watching a YouTube video about The Walking Dead -- y’know, like you do if you’re a fan of the show -- and I came across a video titled “The Walking Dead’s Silent Killer!” which asked a great question: How do these hardened survivors manage to let moaning, shuffling zombies sneak up on them? And the answer was pretty simple: The survivors are going deaf because they are shooting guns, often in enclosed spaces, without sufficient hearing protection. And so they’re going deaf, which explains why Rick seems to yell so dang much.

And so like most things related to the zombie apocalypse, this got me thinking about prepping, and I realized hearing protection during an emergency is something that isn’t talked about very often. So in this segment, I’m going to talk about how average preppers can protect their senses in a disaster.

Your eyesight is the most important sense, because it’s how humans process most of their data, so it’s very important that you protect it. Unfortunately, given the size and shape of eyes, it’s not easy to carry protection for them in the same way that you carry earplugs.

On the plus side, you probably have eye protection around you without realizing it. For example, if you wear glasses, you have eye protection. Of course, they’re very expensive eye protection and if they break you’re in a mess of trouble, but glasses can be replaced while eyes can’t.

Of course, if you wear glasses all the time, you really ought to spring for protective options like shatterproof lenses, anti-scratch coatings and the like to extend their usefulness.

But if you don’t wear glasses, odds are really good you have a pair of sunglasses nearby. While these aren’t great in many situations due to the polarization, sub-par eye protection is better than no eye protection at all.

Now if you want good protection, I recommend going down to your local hardware store like Home Depot or Lowe’s and looking in the protective gear aisle. There you can find protective lenses in both clear, tinted, and polarized colors. Some of them even look like stylish sunglasses. You can get a nice pair for around $20 to $30 that are rated against a lot of construction-sytle hazards, unlike your typical shooting glasses.

While you’re there, check out some of the goggles that protect your eyes from debris. While not suitable for every day carry, stash a pair at work or in your get-home back, just in case you have to evacuate from an emergency with the wind blowing harmful particulates or irritating vapors. And the best part about these is that they will fit over glasses, so that way we four-eyed folk can protect the things that help us see.

Speaking of goggles, another great option (although one that is quite odd-looking) is to get a set of clear swim goggles. These are small, protect your eyes from vapors and liquids as well as debris (although they aren’t as strong as actual safety glasses) and some brands, like the Speedo Optical Swim Goggle, can be bought with lenses that have negative diopters from -1.5 to -8.

Compared to eyesight, preppers have an embarrassment of choices when it comes to ways to protect your ears. It’s very easy to stick a set of disposable foam earplugs into your EDC gear, and if you haven’t you need to do so right now.

But if you want better options than cheap foam, you certainly have them. My earplug of choice is the Surefire 4 Sonic Defender which have a filter that allows you to hear low sounds like conversation while also blocking out louder noises. If you seal the filter, they have a Noise Reduction Rating of 24 db. What’s more, they fit snugly inside the ear, allowing you to wear them with helmets, or you can put earmuffs over them if you need to double-plug.

Best of all, they’re inexpensive: you can get them from Amazon for $13.50 or less. 

Protecting your sense of smell isn’t as important as protecting your lungs, because anything which could damage your nose like that will also wreak havoc on your respiratory system.  Much like eye protection, this is another of those “easy yet hard” things, because the best forms of filters are bulky and not the kind of thing you’d carry on a daily basis.

On the other hand, there are many things you can improvise as an air filter in an emergency: towels, handkerchiefs, and even socks and tee shirts can be held over your nose and mouth (if you can moisten them, so much the better) -- but a good non-improvised solution is a set of filtered noseplugs.

Yes, I know now silly that sounds, and no, I’m being completely serious here.

There’s a brand of nasal filters made by WoodyKnows that protect against volatile organic compounds, secondhand smoke, etc.

You get 3 filter frames and 6 pairs of filters -- so basically a filter set and a spare for each unit -- for $18.99 on Amazon. Carry a set with you, put a set in your get-home bag, and keep the third in reserve or give it to someone you love.

So there you go! Affordable and easy-to-carry ways to protect your senses in emergencies by plugging your ears and nose and covering your eyes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Blazing Sword Alternative to a Safety Pin

SHAEF insignia in pin format.
$7.50 & free shipping from Vet Friends.
My thoughts regarding the whole safety pin thing boil down to "That's a cute form of bullshit activism, but why don't you wear a symbol that represents actually doing something to help people?"

This is something that's been gnawing at me for a while know, because people have asked me for Blazing Sword-style alternatives to the safety pin that show they will actually help people protect themselves rather than just raise awareness or display solidarity.

And then today, my prayer was answered by OBS member Wyatt Parsons, who introduced me to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) insignia (right). Per this Army fact sheet, the heraldry is as follows:

The black shield, changed to dark blue when redesignated for the Headquarters U.S. Forces, European Theater in 1945, represented the darkness of oppression. The sword of liberation with rising flames represents justice by which the enemy power will be broken. Above the sword is a rainbow, emblematic of hope, containing the colors of the National Flags of the Allies. The sky blue above the rainbow represents a state of peace and tranquility to be restored to
the enslaved people by the United Nations.

So not only is this an insignia representing Good Defeating Evil, it also has the delightful congruence of a flaming (blazing) sword and the LGBTQ rainbow. This made it perfect as far as I was concerned, and I went looking to see if SHAEF pins could be bought. As it turns out, yes they can, for $7.50 and free shipping.

(Aside: I am amused at the knowledge that some obscure WW2 pin is going to start selling like crazy, and the folks at Vet Friends are going to be wondering just what the heck is causing such a run on an insignia no one cared about until now.)

I posted this to the Blazing Sword page, and this was met with much oohing and ahhing -- although one person pointed out that the rainbow wasn't quite right. To my rescue came my friend Tiffany Reynolds, who took the .svg file from the Wikipedia article and altered it. Now we have a lovely vector image we can use for all sorts of thing -- I believe a few folks are contemplating making patches out of it!
Tiffany's Version
So to repurpose the symbolism, The flaming sword of freedom from fear cuts the black night of hatred and ignorance, and points the way for people of all color, gender and orientation to find peace and live in harmony.

This is a much better alternative to a safety pin because:
  1. It shows we will teach as well as accept and protect.
  2. It incorporates both our namesake as well as the LGBTQ rainbow symbol.
  3. The heraldry is based upon Good Defeating Evil.
  4. Because it's military, heterosexual volunteers who might feel uncomfortable wearing an "obviously gay" symbol will feel more comfortable with wearing this.
  5. No one's going to laugh at you for wearing a "diaper pin". 
I've ordered one, and I encourage all OBS volunteers to do the same. Note that I said encourage, not require; I understand that some folks don't feel comfortable wearing an insignia they haven't earned, and that's their right. Heck, wear this pin/patch and a safety pin if you want. 

I just think this is awesome, and I look forward to the day when firearms instructors wear this on their shirts as a sign that means "I don't care about your sexuality or your politics; if you want help with self-defense, I will gladly help you."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Musings on Mobility

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" 
-adage dating back to WWII, originating from the New England area

Maybe it's my upbringing in an Army family. Maybe it's my love of Doctor Who with his raggedy, outdated, always-breaking-down ship-in-a-box. Maybe it's that I don't have that great of a day job, and can't afford better.

I have a 25 year old Toyota Corolla that vexes me. Say hello, Corolla.
Hello, Corolla.
I realize that may seem contrarian to complain about a thing that I like, but that's me. A car is a necessary thing, and while I am perturbed to no end with my own, it's a bit vital considering that I don't live in a coastal city with a bustling mass-transit system and (outside of some time spent in Boston) I never have. But I have lived in flyover country for most of my life, and in the majority of that flyover country things are pretty spaced out and mass transit just isn't a thing that exists.

Having this car is both a blessing and a curse. After I was divorced I had no car and no home, and I was basically homeless while I couch-surfed for a few months. I managed to cling onto my job, and by the new year I had an apartment and, a week later, this car because a friend from work was selling it for $600 to pay the insurance premium on his new car.

I'm not the most responsible car owner, so I can't say that it's in exactly the same condition as when I received it, but it's still running. I got it at about 130,000 miles, and it's now just over 160,000. In Toyota years, that's apparently not even middle-aged, but it spent the first decades of its life in a swamp, which took its toll.

The laundry list of things wrong with my car includes, but is not limited to:
  • The right turn signal only works in the front. And that's after changing the bulb. 
  • The shock absorbers are completely gone. I'm not just talking potholes; if I run over a manhole cover or even a seam in the concrete, I feel it. It's basically a horse-drawn cart at this point. 
  • There's a crack in the windshield that grew quite a bit, but thankfully hasn't grown in a year or two now. 
  • One of the tires needs replacing. Badly. 
  • Opening the hood requires either a counterweight or a second person, with one lifting while the other hits the hood release inside the car. 
  • The windshield wiper fluid reservoir snapped and fell on the fan belt at one point, which sawed a giant hole in it, requiring removal of the reservoir and replacement of the belt. 
  • The passenger side arm rest has fallen off. 
  • The rolly crank thing (no idea what it's called) has fallen off the window crank on the driver's side. 
  • There was a popping noise when turning to the right. I had this diagnosed at a mechanic, and they said the wheel bearings and front axles had more rust on them than they'd ever seen. I ended up paying more to replace these parts than the car cost. 
  • After this repair work, the car pulls to the right when accelerating. 
  • If you can call that accelerating. 
  • When I got the car, the AC only worked on settings 2 and 4. Settings 2 and 4 have since stopped working. 
  • There is no radio. It was stolen when I was living in Texas, and I can't figure out how to hook up the factory radio, and even if I could 3 of the 4 speakers no longer function. 
  • Due to fading and peeling, the car is roughly 5 different shades of red. 
  • There are various dents, dings, and bent panels. Only one of which I contributed to, when a Ford F350 ran over the car when backing out of a parking space. 
Smile for the camera!
Despite all this, my car refuses to roll over and die completely, which is a source of frustration for me. Affording a new car would be difficult, but is completely unjustified when this one still technically works. Were I either more financially well off, or more mechanically inclined, this wouldn't be an issue as I'd either just buy a new car or fix what's wrong with this one myself. I mean, I've got a fan right now that's making weird noises in my computer, and I know all I have to do is go to Best Buy, spend seven dollars, rip the old one out, plug in the new one, and that problem's fixed.

But this. This frustrates me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Your Good Deed of the Season

I received this via Facebook message, and you know how much of a sucker I am for helping good people:
Erin I have a favor to ask of you, a small one.

I have a friend who lives in SC, she's a retired Marine Drill Instructor, currently a full time firearms instructor for Palmetto State Armory. Does metric tons of volunteer work with DC project, SC carry, GA carry, etc.

She was out of town working when Hurricane Matthew hit. Her house was flooded and she lost damn near everything she owned. No flood insurance because she didn't live in a "flood zone".

She lost most of her clothes, personal possessions, even her service uniforms were all ruined, appliances, every piece of furniture, all the flooring, trim, doors, and even the drywall had to come off from the floor up 4 ft.

In order to help raise funds for her GoFundMe campaign I have gone through friends and we're putting together a sweet custom AR-15 package that is being raffled. I'll include the link to the FB page with all the info on it.

Would you please help me get the word out and direct people to the page so we can start getting donations in for her? Each raffle entry is $25.
So not only do you get to do a good deed by helping someone who was a victim of a natural disaster AND who is gun owner, but you also get a chance to win a cool gun while so doing!

What kind of cool gun, you ask?
  • Spike's Tactical forged Mil Spec receiver set
  • 16" Mid length gas barrel from Palmetto State Armory
  • Primary Weapons Systems Muzzle Brake
  • 15" Free Float Handguard
  • Low Profile Gas Block
  • Mil Spec Bolt Carrier Group
  • CMC 3.5# Single Stage Trigger
  • Seekins Precision Magazine release, Ambi Safety Selector, and Bolt Catch 
  • Magpul Carbine Stock and Pistol Grip
  • Warne SKEL Scope Mount
  • Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x Scope
  • Custom Cerakote by Vigilante Arms of South Jordan UT


  1. Go to Amy's GoFundMe page and make a donation. Each $25 donated will be one raffle ticket. Donate more to get more entries.
  2. Forward your receipt from GoFundMe to this email address. You will receive a confirmation email from the prize coordinator.
  3. Watch this page for updates and the announcement of when the drawing will take place.
I asked the person who sent me this when the drawing would be, and he responded "No exact date as it depends on people's travel schedules. Between Christmas and New Years though."  So that gives you a solid month and a half to donate to this raffle, help make a Marine's Christmas come true, and maybe even pick up a nice big of swag for yourself!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Feng Shui: Scaling Enemies

I have run 3 combats using Feng Shui 2 rules --  a mook fight, a Named fight and a Boss fight -- and here are my thoughts on scaling NPC stats to match PCs.
Not only do my players easily chew through 3x their number in mooks, they've done so while also fighting a Featured Foe for each PC. Now, I'm not suggesting that mooks need to have their deadliness increased; they're pretty much designed to be speed bumps and cannon fodder. What I am saying is that since the days of first edition, "3xPCs" has been the standard amount for a challenging encounter and, let me tell you, my players are not challenged by that amount.

At some point when I can't think of anything to run I'm going to have an arena combat session where I throw an improbably number of mooks against them (say, 6x) and see if it's a challenge or not.

Alternately, mooks could be made more challenging by using this table on p.200:

My PCs have an average attack and defense AV of 14, so maybe all my mooks ought to have an Attack of 10? That would also make them more threatening in a fight but still go down pretty easily. I'm going to try this the next fight they have.

By the way, this chart is going to get a workout in the next two entries.

Featured Foes
The rulebook tells you to pick a type of featured foe. Do not do this. This will result in boring fights. 

Instead. make the FF in exactly the same way you would make a player character. Given how character creation in FS2 is archetype based, this isn't at all a chore; your biggest hassle is swapping schticks around to make things interesting. Oh, and make sure your FF has as many schticks as the PCs. 

Invariably, some of you are saying "But what about keeping track of Chi, Fortune or Magic points?" To this I reply:
  1. You're a GM. If you can keep track of how many wounds the NPC has and what shot it's on, you can keep track of their Chi/Magic points. 
  2. I have yet to see a Feng Shui fight take more than 3 sequences, so if you want to just ignore NPC ChiFortMag expenditures, that's perfectly cromulent. 
  3. Remember than gun schticks don't cost any Fortune points, and there are many kung fu paths where the first few schticks do not require Chi. Hell, the entire Path of Wushu requires no Chi expenditures. You could do quite well with a martial artist who only has Hands Without Shadow, Claw of the Tiger, Hammer Punch and Horse Stance. 
Also, be sure to use the chart above to keep Attack and Defense AV parity. 

My six players (with only one advancement) went up against three bosses and not only wiped the floor with them in an epic fight*, but did this while 1) suffering no deaths or KOs of their own and 2) while refusing to engage one of the bosses (she was the ghost of a family friend who had been bound against her will to serve a Lotus sorcerer). So yes, bosses definitely need an upgrade. 

First,  make them like player characters, above. Make sure they have advanced like the PCs have, and if you want to give them, say, an extra schitck for each additional PC you expect them to take on, I say go for it; this would be a good place for Foe Schticks. Don't forget the two free schticks that all bosses get. 

Example: Sneezy Teng is built as a Killer, so he gets 5 gun schticks. The PCs have received an advancement from attuning to a Feng Shui site, so he gets another schtick. Then I expect he's easily a match for 2 PCs at once, so I give him an extra schtick. All told, he started the session with 9 schticks. 

Second, use the damn chart, above, to reach parity. 

Third,  use the Boss creation rules on p. 199 to boss-ify them. 

Fourth, if it makes sense, give some bosses body armor. 

Finally, consider (merely consider) allowing Bosses to spend Fortune points to enhance their rolls like PCs. I'm not saying you should do this; but if a fight is going too easily in your players' favor, a boss could always pose dramatically and announce that the kid gloves are off...

Is it possible that this makes bosses too tough? Perhaps. If so, the GM can always over-rule the result of Death Checks and declare that the PCs were defeated and left for dead, but survived. 

I haven't run a combat with one of these.... yet. But I have plans. Oh, I have plans, and I have been learning from previous combats. Muahahahahahh.

* It's worth noting that there were mooks in the fight, but the majority of them had been drawn off by a well-planned distraction on the part of the players. I didn't have any Featured Foes in the fight, because I honestly thought three bosses and a theoretical flood of mooks (fresh waves kept entering the crowded apartment each sequence) would be enough. 

As it turns out, the fight was indeed epic, and adding FFs would have only complicated and confused things IMO. We didn't need more enemies, just higher quality ones. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Apocabox Unboxing #14 (October 2016)

I don't know why the video is choppy. But given that Creek didn't seem to give a damn about the quality of this Apocabox, I decided not to give a damn about the quality of the video. It's fitting, really.

What was Creek thinking?

Was he thinking?

Watch the video and tell me if you think I'm being too harsh.

I especially want feedback on the Book of Lists. I think it's creepy, but perhaps I'm being too harsh.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #117 - Brush Your Breath with the Electoral College

Did the election leave a bad taste in your mouth? There's no need to do anything drastic; just rinse with the The GunBlog VarietyCast -- now with fluoride!
  • Be careful what you ask for; sometimes a cute Dysis Δύσις Sorrentino story can be a little TOO cute.
  • Beth Reoch Alcazar has been holding this in for months, but now that the election is over, she can lets out why she's happy to be on Hillary's enemies list.
  • Sean D Sorrentino answers the burning question "Who needs 12 rounds of tear gas and a robot before he gives up?"
  • What happens when you run a denial of service attack against traditional infrastructure? Barron B gives us a case in point.
  • In the Main Topic, Erin Palette explains the Electoral College, and why it's a good idea.
  • How do you keep your friends AND your political convictions? Tiffany Johnson, with the help of a creepy counter sound effect guy, gives us a list of things to do.
  • You've seen how the election has brought out the crazy in people. What do you do to get home safely? Erin Palette gives you some good advice.
  • Did you think that Joan Peterson was nuts? Wait until you get a load of the new leader of Protect Minnesota! Her recent over the top debate performance in Bloomington, Minnesota was so crazy that it had get its very own Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
  • Our plug of the week is for the Signal secure messaging app.
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

Main Segment Transcript:
Why We Have the Electoral College

Sean: Well, the election is over, and the NRA endorsed candidate won. No matter that he wasn’t my first choice, now he owes gun owners big time. Maybe we should think about what we as gun owners should be pushing for as our reward for our loyalty.

Erin: Wasn’t that the topic of Michael Bane’s podcast on Thursday? Like, his ENTIRE podcast? And I'm sure pretty much every other podcast is going to do the same thing. How about we talk about the Electoral College instead?

Sean: The Electoral College, Erin? Seriously?

Erin: Every time there’s a difference between Electoral and Popular vote results, we get the inevitable ‘Do away with the Electoral College’ arguments.

Sean: OK, so what?

Erin: So why don’t we do like Weer’d does with his segment and have a discussion of the various arguments for the Electoral College? That way, our listeners are well informed and can properly discuss it when it is inevitably brought up by the Hillary supporters.

Sean: That’s actually not a bad idea, Erin. So for those my age who slept through Civics, or those millennials who got Current Events instead, how does the Electoral College work?

Erin: In our election system, a candidate must receive 270 Electoral College votes in order to win. These electoral votes are not divided evenly by state but rather by representation in Congress. For example, New York elects 27 members to join the House of Representatives and two to join the Senate. Therefore, it gets 29 Electoral College votes. Nevada, meanwhile, has four representatives and two senators, so it gets six Electoral College votes. Whoever wins the most votes in a state wins all of the state’s electors.

Sean: So what’s the problem if we just went with Popular Vote?

Erin: If we went to a pure popular vote system we run into the same problem of pure democracies over representative republics: the tyranny of the majority over the minority.

There’s a picture in the show notes that illustrates how half or more of the US population lives in a handful of super-dense counties; if you don’t live there, under a pure popular vote system your vote doesn’t matter AT ALL.

As an example, farmers don’t want to be at the mercy of city voters who might decide that using water to fill their swimming pools is more important than irrigating crops.

Another feature of the Electoral College is that it promotes a broad two party system. Now many people think that two party systems are bad. But consider the alternatives.

Do you want three or four parties, with minor parties dragging major parties away from the political center? Currently we have a center seeking system, with politics, as they say, played between the 40 yard lines. With fringe parties that need to be “compensated” for their support, you end up with a much more polarized political environment. And do we really want more of that?

Then we need to consider the idea of regional parties. What would happen if the New England states decided to field a political party based upon the idea of high road tolls, low heating oil costs, and free Amtrak for everyone? That might be popular up in Yankeeland. If they didn’t have to worry about how that would play down here in the South, they would be tempted to split off from the main party and field their own candidates and try to force the rest of us to pay for their favored policies just to make a majority in the House and Senate.

Sean: Currently presidential candidates focus on so called “Swing” states and ignore some of the big reliable states. Isn’t that a problem?

Erin: Swing states, also called Battleground states, are states which do not reliably go to a particular party. Because these are winner-take-all states, it’s important for candidates to focus on those states to get ALL of their votes. This is why Florida is important, as it’s a very purple state, whereas candidates rarely campaign in California because that state is reliably Democrat.

If you think Swing States are important now, under popular vote the candidates would just focus on states with large cities (California, New York, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, etc)

Sean: Didn’t Andrew Branca say something about this on Facebook?

Erin: Indeed he did. He compared winning the popular vote to yards gained in a football game. Quoting:
The winner of a football game is NOT the team that has the most yards gained; it's the team that scores the most points. Any team that maximizes yards gained at the cost of points scored should anticipate losing.
Sean: So you’re saying that even though people think that the popular vote is more “fair” than the electoral vote, it’s not.

Erin: Absolutely. In fact, if anything else it’s more UNFAIR, because it centralizes voting power in cities.

Sean: Are there any other options available besides Winner Take All Electoral College voting?

Erin Yes! While 48 states are winner-take-all, Maine and Nebraska use the Congressional District method: Instead of the electors being distributed based on the popular vote of the entire state, they’re distributed based on the popular vote of the state’s individual districts.

Maine is worth four Electoral College votes, and there are two Congressional districts in the state. Winning the popular vote in a district will earn a candidate one elector. Plus, they get a bonus of two points if they win the statewide popular vote. It’s therefore possible for the Electoral College votes to be split, i.e. both candidates get some of them.

Now in my opinion, the Congressional District method seems to be a fair compromise between popular vote and electoral vote:
  • It’s more easily implemented as each state can do it via state legislature rather than nationally dismantling the Electoral College which would require a Constitutional Amendment.
  • And it actually makes your vote worth more in a state that would traditionally go the other way (such as voting Republican in California).
  • Swing states would become less relevant as candidates would have less to gain by winning that state, and could instead focus on a tactic of scoring many more districts across the country, some even in safe states -- for example, while most of Texas is red, Austin is very very blue. 
So that’s the short course on the Electoral College. The next time someone complains about it, educate them and encourage them to campaign for their state to switch to the Congressional District method instead.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I'm Not Worried About My Safety in a Trump Presidency

I've been asked more than a few times "Erin, you're a lesbian transwoman. What do you think about your safety in a Trump administration?" And I've decided to answer these questions publicly:

I am not at all worried about what Trump might do to LGBTQ people and rights. I've seen pictures of Trump holding the rainbow flag and smiling, and anyone who takes the effort to say "LGBTQ" on camera, twice, is someone who understands the importance of our community.
(I'm even less worried about Pence because when has the Vice President ever amounted to anything when it comes to policy? Heck, the First Lady has more influence over domestic policy than the VP.)

Now I suppose it's possible that everything Trump said during the election about promising to support and protect the LGBTQ community was a lie to get elected. If that's the case I'm still not worried, because the Pulse Terror Attack showed that ordinary Americans care about the lives and safety of LGBTQ people, and the success of Blazing Sword has shown that "stereotypical gun owners" believe we have a right to self-defense and will help train any of us -- yes, even their political rivals. Liberals have as much right to life and liberty as conservatives.

Since its inception, the Pink Pistols has said "Armed Gays Don't Get Bashed." The logical extrapolation here is "Armed LGBTQ don't lose their rights." As a best case scenario, we ally with the millions of gun owners who believe that both gay rights and gun rights are civil rights, and that makes us a formidable voting block. (You think the NRA has power now? Imagine them teaming up with GLAAD and the ACLU to oppose legislation to disarm & deport LGBTQ people!)

As a worst case? The Second Amendment is a guard against tyranny, and I know that many straight white gun owners will fight alongside us if necessary.

Now does this mean I'm saying all the reported hate crimes haven't happened? No, it does not. What I am saying is that there are many people already predisposed towards violence who have wrongly interpreted Trump's election as a referendum against minorities and are acting like this because they think they can get away with it. However, criminal behavior is still illegal, and this country still acknowledges the right of self-defense.

So I am not worried. If you are worried, I understand; I'm not belittling your fears or concerns. What I am saying is that instead of being afraid, you should do something constructive to allay your fears and give yourself the agency to protect yourselves.

Reach out to the people of Blazing Sword. Get educated on firearms. If you decide they're right for you, buy one, learn to shoot it, get a permit to carry it concealed. You'd be surprised to learn just how empowering it is to have in your hands the most effective way to protect yourself against multiple aggressors who are taller, stronger, and heavier than you.


I'm going to note here, now, that it's not my desire to start a screaming argument. People asked my opinion, and I am giving it; the fact that my opinion differs from yours would, in a perfect world, not be seen as threatening.

Alas, we don't live in a perfect world. So just keep in mind that while I am happy to calmly discuss my thoughts with you, I am in no way required to justify them to your satisfaction.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post-Apocalypse Update: The Day After Yesterday

Have a new Salem
Dear America,

The unthinkable has happened. The blustering tangerine has beaten the war-mongering lizard by the rules of the Electoral College. I worked last Tuesday, but while I was at work I paid close attention to the election map, as the numbers on both sides rose with Trump taking an early lead and Clinton closing the gap over the course of the night. But they didn't close quickly enough, even with California's stupid number of electoral college votes, to catch up to him. The red bar was reaching ever closer to the middle point of 270, until it finally crossed it, leaving the blue bar behind.

The world ended. Nuclear missiles were launched simultaneously from Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, and Mauritius. Yes, even Mauritius. Simultaneously, a zombie virus outbreak happened in New Jersey, parts of California fell into the ocean due to a fault line collapse, and there were riots in Albuquerque. People who weren't straight, white, cisgendered, heteronormative, neurotypical, Christian men were rousted from their homes, beaten, and dragged across the Mexican border

The riots were unrelated. Albuquerque just likes to riot. We don't even send the news to report on them anymore.

Actually, none of that stuff happened. There were, however, a lot of people who were very upset that a very rich white woman (who was an Apex Politician with a ton of connections and decades of experience) lost an election that she wouldn't have been in had her party not put her there instead of the socialist (and possibly atheist) Jew who wouldn't toe the party line that the people actually wanted. They ardently ignored all the evidence of corruption in their own ranks for fear that the literal devil would take office.

And then what happened was an overly blustery capitalist democrat who was running in the wrong party took the win.

Today, the world is still spinning, the sun still came up, and anyone who doesn't have the privilege of free time to attend protests and rallies got up and went to work like I did.

Of course, not everyone has obligations to keep the world spinning. Some people have reasonably large audiences and feel it necessary to stoke the fires of burning it.

Hi Arthur. I missed you.
"Didn't you learn anything from Brexit?" I hear some people asking nobody in particular. I ask in return, even though the question may not be directed at me in particular, "Did you?" Did you not learn that belittling and insulting the people that you want to win to your side does not work? Meet with people. Talk to them face to face. Speak to them respectfully. If your ideas are better, win them over with those ideas. Stop calling people racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, or whatever other -ists or -phobics you can think of and explain to them why they're wrong. You might find, as I have, that if you approach someone with an open hand instead of a clenched fist, you may win them over. That's how the country slowly moved Left-ward politically over the decades.

By the by, Trump has already pledged to protect the LGBTQ community (yes, he even used the "Q"). His plan to block Muslims? Gone from his website. The Republican Senate and House? They hate him. And he's a capitalist Democrat. This may be scary for some people, but the world hasn't ended. It won't end in January when he takes office. Every speech he's made since winning the election, he's sounded humble and determined. His bragging is all but gone. We probably won't see World War 3. And in 4 years, you'll get a chance to vote him out if he's not doing his job properly.

Assuming you'll actually go out and vote. I saw the numbers. Half of you easily didn't.

So who did I vote for? I'm not telling you, because I don't feel it's necessary to signal to either side any particular brand of loyalty. I voted for the person who I felt was least likely to start World War 3.

I'll tell you this much, though: The DNC? This is on you. You did this. You could have listened to your constituency, but you had a master plan in place and by God nothing was going to stop you. Enjoy it. Now both parties are broken and tired and falling apart, and that's the silver lining to this whole thing. Maybe in four years time, we'll have a viable third party candidate in case this happens again.

With a detached sort of love,

PS: My dear progressive friends. Please watch this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Open Letter To People Suddenly Wondering If They Should Get a Gun For Protection

Dear Liberal Friends Worried About the Trump Presidency:

Now's a great time to buy an AR-15. And I'll gladly help you pick one out and show you how to use it, because the Second Amendment is for you, too.

If Operation Blazing Sword has taught me anything, it's this: There are a lot of conservative gun owners who'll go to the mat for you where your rights are concerned (even if they disagree with you culturally and politically), and if Trump actually becomes the "outlawying gay marriage and putting people in camps" tyrant like you fear he will, well... we've got an "app" for that.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Feng Shui Bag Full of Guns 2 -- Ballistic Boogaloo

So it turns out that the player who has the Bag Full of Guns schtick is less than thrilled with how it works. No, not with my changes; those are fine. Instead, this player is annoyed at how long it takes to get to the good stuff inside the bag, which I suppose is a fair point when you consider that he could do a hell of a lot more damage with the schticks Signature Weapon, Firm Grip and Lightning Reload.

So I thought about it for a bit and considered the player. This is a guy who, upon getting the character, said "Can I change the guns in the list if I don't change the stats? Because I hate the Deagle and the Chiappa." This told me that the player wouldn't mind a little extra complication if it gave him the guns he liked, and so I tinkered.
What I did was ask him to give me a list of 5 rifles, 5 shotguns, 5 SMGs, 5 revolvers, and 10 pistols (in a mix of light, medium and heavy) that he wouldn't mind his character using.

Then I added 6 "GM Specials" to the list, created a 6x6 matrix, and randomized it as best I could. This was the result:

This gives us a few nifty things:
  1. A player who is satisfied with both the added complexity and the ability to play with different guns in the game. 
  2. Potential for amusement when the PC pulls out an entirely inappropriate weapon for the situation at hand ("We're fighting in a crowded apartment and I just pulled out a rocket launcher. What could possibly go wrong?)
  3. A codified ability for other PCs to rearm from a BFoG by having them spend 2-3 shots pulling something out (and rolling). 
Two things I haven't yet decided on:
  1. If Fortune points should affect the roll, and if so, how. I'm thinking that perhaps spending a point would allow the player to shift his choice in any one direction (up, down, left, right, and yes the chart "wraps" in both dimensions)
  2. If there's any benefit to having more than 3 levels in this schtick now. Using the rewrite, levels 1-3 reduce the cost of switching a gun from 3 to 2, 1, and zero shots respectively. A fourth level ought to do something like increase the accuracy of picking which gun is grabbed (perhaps akin to the Fortune point, above) rather than anything potentially unbalancing like increasing damage. 
I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out within the game. It might be awful and broken, but I don't think it will be. I do however acknowledge that many FS2 GMs will not want to engage in this level of complexity, and that's fine. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Aboriginal Tool Roll Review

I meant to post this video on Monday, but I got sidetracked and the video wasn't edited until Wednesday.

So I'm posting this on Thursday but backdating it to Monday, because I can.

The Apocabox Shop may be found here.

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #116 - Oh, the Places You’ll Go

With everyone "On Assignment" this week, Erin and Sean have created a fun-sized episode about why you should join the gun community and go to events. We're a unique, welcoming bunch, and it's given us so much that we want to share it with you. So get involved just by showing up and having fun!

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.

(There was no BCP segment this week, thus no transcript here.)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Blazing Sword Update & Why Fridays are Bad

As I've mentioned previously, Fridays -- which used to be a big, productive day for me -- have become really unproductive. A casual glance at this blog will indicate I've missed more than a few of them.

I think this is mainly due to be becoming co-host of the GunBlog VarietyCast: I have more to do on Thursdays -- not only do I still have to do my Blue Collar Prepping segment, but I also have to listen to all the other segments and then record the entire show -- and that just leaves me exhausted when Friday rolls around. This is something I'm trying to change, but so far I haven't had much luck.

But who cares about that boring stuff, right? You all want to know about Blazing Sword. 

I am pleased to announce that IRS form 1023 -- the paperwork required for Operation Blazing Sword applies to become a 501c3 tax deductible charity -- has been filed. We are waiting for approval (which can take months), but the act of filing allows us to do a few things.

Legal statement per OBS in-house counsel: "Although we are a nonprofit, we have applied for, but currently do not have, Federal tax-exempt status. However, in the event our tax-exempt status is approved by the IRS, any donations to us will be considered tax-deductible. In addition, donations made prior to the IRS’s approval would be considered retroactively tax-exempt, including donations made as far back as our date of formation in August 2016. Please see this IRS link for more details." 

What this means is this:
  1. Until our status is granted, OBS cannot actively raise funds
  2. However, any money that people choose to donate now can be accepted. 
  3. Anything you donate now is tax-deductible if we are approved. Fortunately, approval does seem likely. 
  4. Additionally, anything you've already donated since August will also be tax-deductible, but again only if we are approved. 
  5. We cannot (and likely will not) be able to reimburse volunteers for ammo and range fees like I had hoped. However, if you keep those receipts, you can write those off as charitable donations because you're spending that money in support of OBS. 
  6. If despite all this, you're still itching to donate,  I'm going to ask you to hold off just a bit longer. I want to set up a PayPal account for OBS that is separate from my own, both for ease of bookkeeping and for legal reasons. 
A big "Thank You!" to everyone for your interest, your support, and for volunteering.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Regressive Progressivism: The Halloween Horror

Sit back, boys and ghouls, and I'll tell you a tale. A tale of terror. A tale of horror. A tale... of privilege!

Every year, Halloween comes around and we get a plethora of different reactions. A lot of people love Halloween because of the darkness of it all, some love the costuming and pageantry of it all, and others just enjoy another excuse to party. But just like there's always someone looking for an excuse to party, there's always people looking for an excuse to get angry.

And some of it's justified. There are some pretty tasteless costumes out there that people should re-think, or even think about for the first time, before throwing them on and leaving the house. But anti-privilege crusaders, obsessed with finding the problematic in anything fun, will stop at nothing, and I mean nothing, in their pursuit of... well, whatever passes for happiness for them:
Look, I understand that you have strong feelings about how problematic Halloween is. The internal struggle not to appropriate a Celtic holiday for an excuse to drink indie craft beers with your friends in the safest costumes possibly imaginable must be hard. But should you really be surprised that someone would have an objection to you defacing merchandise in the seller's place of business? Not everyone's going to see you as a noble defender of the downtrodden when a local business owner is facing a potentially serious loss in their profits because you wanted to make a statement. It's a shame your white privilege didn't protect you from repercussions.
Welcome to the reality of "You break it, you bought it."
I have a couple of thoughts on this.

First off, if you were that serious about your activism, why were you not willing to be arrested? When I was still an activist, I was cuffed, put in a cop car, and detained. Fortunately, no charges were laid against me and I was released, but I went willingly. You seem genuinely shocked that, after defacing property that wasn't yours, that you'd be charged with a crime. You're very lucky the police gave you the option of paying it off.

Speaking of which, I have a few hundred bucks in my bank account right now. All of my bills are paid, and I don't have any major expenses planned coming up, but you have the privilege of having enough money to pay for $1500 worth of Halloween costumes. Which, by the by, count as sales, so congratulations on artificially inflating the market for "the shittiest costumes." Expect more "Sexy Policewoman" costumes on sale next year, partially due to your efforts.
Gosh, they didn't let you go tax-exempt? What's your charity status? Did you file a 501(c)3 form for yourself? No? And you're upset that his reasoning was that he had to pay his taxes, too? He's a small business owner, of course he has to pay his taxes; the people who run Halloween Spirit franchises aren't in the 1%.

I think I've just about had it with spoiled rich kids thinking they're the world's saviours by doing dumb little things like vandalizing private property they don't agree with. Back in my day  we went out and protested. We didn't go into stores with a credit card at the ready and vandalize sweater vests in the hopes that... in fact, what the hell were you hoping to accomplish here?

I mean, imagine what she could do if her strength of conviction matched her bankroll... but I imagine that would cut into her tweeting time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Feng Shui: Weird Gun Rules

I'm going to preemptively say that yes, I know rules about guns and gunplay in Feng Shui is deliberately unrealistic in favor of wahoo action sequences, and so I try to make the gunnie part of my brain shut up whenever I read it.

(Incidentally, I think "fun gameplay over realism" is the reason why magazine-fed handguns only require 1 shot to reload, but magazine-fed rifles and SMGs take 3 shots: since they have much larger magazines, they run out ammunition less often, and so their reloads take longer. If they all required only 1 shot to reload, then PCs would overwhelmingly choose rifles and SMGs over pistols in complete defiance of Action Movie Logic.)
However, I've noticed some contradictory rules within the game itself, and these need to be addressed.
Switching Weapons, p.110:  Switching from a martial arts weapon to a gun costs
you the number of shots it would to Reload the gun. 
OK, this is all well and fine: It takes you 1 shot to draw a pistol, 3 shots to draw an SMG or Rifle... wait, FIVE shots to draw a revolver?? What the.... nevermind, that's not fine.

Reloading, p.128:
  • Reload your current weapon. This costs you a number of shots depending on the firearm type, as seen in the accompanying table.
  • Drop and draw. Let your current weapon fall to the ground, and draw a new firearm already on your person. Shot cost: 2
  • Switch weapons. Replace your current weapon and draw another already on your person. Shot cost: 3
  • Drop your weapon. Take this option if you intend to do something other than fire a gun as your subsequent action. Shot cost: 1 
From this we can extrapolate a few things:
  1. If dropping a weapon costs 1 shot, and dropping and drawing a new weapon costs 2 shots, then clearly drawing a weapon costs only 1 shot. 
  2. This is bolstered by it taking 3 shots to carefully replace a weapon and draw a new one: 1 shot to holster, 1 shot to drop old gun/grab new one, 1 shot to draw new one. 
  3. Not only is this is in complete disagreement with the rules on page 110, those rules also say that it's faster to switch from a knife to an AK-47 than it is to switch from a knife to a Colt Detective Special. What? This is a game that preferentially gives revolvers to police on account of the fact that Dirty Harry and Rick Grimes carry revolvers. Way to punish three whole archetypes, writers, especially the Karate Cop.
So you know what I've ruled in my game? We ignore p.110 and use the following:
  • Dropping a weapon: 1 shot
  • Sheathing/holstering a weapon: 1 shot
  • Drawing/unslinging a weapon: 1 shot
Boom, done. I don't need to check the reload stats of the gun during combat, and best of all it gives a good reason for PCs to take the Battle Scavenge or Bag Full of Guns schticks

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