Thursday, April 27, 2017

Doctor Who: Grin and Bear It

Week 2 of the new series brings us a proper sci-fi story: "Between here and my office, before the kettle boils, is everything that ever happened or ever will."

I like to play a little game when I'm watching Doctor Who. Any moment that you see the TARDIS take off without one of the companions, any number of adventures might be happening off-screen. This is one of those moments, only with Noodle Nardole being the one left behind. Thankfully, he's barely in this episode.

The story premise is amazingly simple: the first human colony is built, and something goes horribly wrong. It's similar to the recently-released Mass Effect: Andromeda, and yet it happens to tell a much more compelling story in 42 minutes than ME:A did in 42 hours.

It's always interesting when someone writes a story with a very cynical view of humanity's ability to program robots with Asimov's First Law. For those unfamiliar:
  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
We're entering spoiler territory here. The robots, or "Vardi" (as if just calling them nanites wouldn't suffice.. must be a brand name), are programmed to keep humans happy at all costs. The only problem is that it's not at any cost to them, but at any cost to the humans.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this episode, but how stultifyingly incompetent is the human race that they can't manage to program robots not to recycle them into compost if they're unhappy? And did the adorable interface bots program the skull-face emoji themselves, or was there some form of malicious intent in the programming, and the smile-or-you-die effect part of the plan? 
Seriously. Who programmed this? 
I can't help but remember that Missy (and possibly the Master) is coming back this year. I'm not sure if it's relevant, or simply a plot hole, but it's something that would be very clever if they later explained it the way I'm thinking. I do have to say the I love the interface bot's "skeptical" face. 

Bill's continuing to do a good job of asking the right questions, coming to logical conclusions, and prompting the Doctor along when he's thinking aloud. And she's not the least bit annoying this episode! Again, her marketing really failed her, because she's turning out to be a good character so far and it's not the impression I got at all before seeing her in action. 
I need to know if this was a set, existing location, or just green-screen. It looks amazing.
I have to hand it to Future India, too. They've shown up several times recently, from the Indian Space Agency to Indo-Japan to the skeleton crew here. Future India seems quite an ambitious culture, although I'm not sure if the programming of the Vardi was any better or worse than Britain hijacking a giant space whale to power their floating colony.

Continuing that train of thought into the meta, I have to give credit to the series for subtly promoting a culture not their own without ham-handed preaching. It's showing, not telling - let alone preaching -and that's something I really have to respect. 

This episode, overall, was a mixed bag. There were some very, very good moments, and some very glaring plot holes. This season hasn't quite hit its stride yet, but it's still worth a watch. I didn't like it quite as much as I did The Pilot, but I'd still watch it again. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Night WTF?

I... have very confused feelings about this video.

On the one hand, "Yay boobs! I like looking at boobs!"

On the other hand, "Boobs without nipples aren't as interesting. Boobs with mouths IN PLACE OF nipples are downright disturbing. Rather like a distaff version of Neil Gaiman's Corinthian."

On the third hand, I'm pretty sure everyone reading this blog can think of kinky stuff to do with boob mouths.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Doctor Who: The Not Really Pilot Episode

Clever play on words, there, Moffat. Very clever.

So setting aside the Christmas Special, it's been quite a while since we've had any Doctor Who, hasn't it?

I have to admit, when the promotional materials were released for the new series, I did not like Bill at all. (And before you get started, don't. Martha's still my favourite companion of the new series, and I still have not forgiven Russel Davies for her puppy-dog fixation on the Tenth Doctor and unending jealousy of Rose). Bill came off incredibly gobby and was asking the absolute stultifyingly dumbest questions in her promotional video.

It was not a good first impression. So in a way, Pilot acts as an audition for Bill as a character. Naturally, Pearl Mackie already has the job, so we've got her like it or not, but is Bill really going to work as a character?

Naturally, the best way to do this is to have the Twelfth Doctor first make her an offer, then spend every scene afterwards trying to drive her away. Capaldi does this in fine form, managing to effortlessly out-do Matt Smith's cranky exile behaviour from his first face-to-face meeting with Clara.

Of course, it's not all him driving her away. Some of it's rescuing her from a rather creative monster. Some of it's evocative of Nine's "red bicycle when you were twelve" moment, with the box of pictures.
What's wrong with your faaaaace
Bill does pass his shit-test, happily, and redeems herself from the awful promotional videos. The scene from the promo more or less still appears, but it's been incredibly cut down, leaving out Bill's terrible lines. She also has some notable character traits: she's got an eye for detail; she's very down to earth, but at the same time says some rather poetic lines; her mind works incrementally and logically, as evidenced by her progression of assumption about the TARDIS first being a 'knock-through', then a lift, then going around the University.

But visually, she's a little jarring. (No, not that, stop it.) I can't seem to figure out what time period this season is set in because of her. The Doctor references "texting and vlogging", but Bill's entire wardrobe is a throwback to the late 80s, with high-waisted jeans, denim jackets with badges sewn into them, and glaring colours, with what I suspect to be a Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt. These are outfits you'd expect to see around Seven/Ace's period, not 30 years later, and everyone else around her seems to be dressed from the correct time period.
Overly Attached Space Girlfriend
The episode's not without its problems, but they're few and far between: the line "It hasn't rained in a week" seconds after they walk past a stream of runoff water from the University rooftops; Bill's lines from the promotional video (which I'm still holding against them); the "kitchen" reference -- in what way does the TARDIS console room look like a kitchen?

Oh, and can we please blow Nardole out the nearest airlock? I'm not a fan of Matt Lucas, and his character is annoying me. You could have given half of Nardole's lines to Bill and left out the other half and the episode could have had more time to breathe.

I'm very interested in finding out what the mystery of the season is, and I'm sure it's related to the vault in the University basement. We know Missy will show up again, John Simm's Master is rumoured to return, Nardol is still there for some reason, and the Doctor's sworn not to leave the University while he's guarding the vault and he's been there for at least 50 years so far. He's got a lock on the basement door set to "friends only" and an alert set to his psychic paper.

All in all, definitely worth a watch, and a good start for the new series. I'm just glad we've got a proper screwdriver again, and this one's a beauty:
Welcome back, proper screwdriver. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Checking In From the ATL

Hi everypony!

I admit that I've been quiet this past week -- big hugs and thank-yous to everyone who checked in on my to ask if I was all right! The truth of the matter is that no, I wasn't all right, but I was taking care of myself and getting better.

On April 14th (the Friday before last), a good friend of mine named Donavan Lambertus passed away. Don was a fellow Traveller grognard (go check out his vector scaleable Quick Decks, they're amazing) and also helped out with data entry during the crazy early days of Operation Blazing Sword. His death really affected me, and it intersected with my monthly bout of feeling blue and not wanting to deal with anyone or anything, and so I just took the week off in order to get the space needed to retain my sanity.
Unfortunately, there may very well be silence from me for another week; fortunately, it's for a much happier reason. I'm in Atlanta right now, staying with friends and getting a makeover in preparation for the NRA Annual Meeting. When the meeting starts, I'm going to be quite busy; not only wll I be oohing and ahhing at all the nifty stuff on display, I'm also going to be meeting with people in order to spread the word about Operation Blazing Sword (and hopefully get some corporate sponsorship for it as well). Oh, and I'm also scheduled to appear on Cam & Company during the convention. On camera. No pressure, right? [Erin begins doing combat breathing exercises to prevent panic]

Speaking of meeting people, if you're at NRA this year (or if you live near Atlanta) and you'd like to meet me, send me an email or a PM on Facebook or leave a comment below and let's schedule a time and place to meet!

One more thing before I go: I'm pleased to announce that the Operation Blazing Sword storefront is now carrying my signature "Concealed Carry is herd Immunity Against Crime" design for both dark and light shirts. We also have stickers, and they're only $2.50 each!

All proceeds go to my charity, so please buy early and buy often!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #140 - Going to NRAAM 2017

There's no yellow brick road, but be sure to follow the GBVC cast at NRAAM!
  • Beth is still going to NRAAM... but the USCCA is not. Beth tells us how the NRA dis-invited them.
  • Some relationships are fiery; this one ends in arson. Who lit the fire? Sean takes a look.
  • Barron is on assignment this week.
  • Discretion is the better part of valor, and so Miguel reminds you to pick your fights lest you get in over your head.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin talk about concealed carry handguns as Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Tiffany is on assignment this week.
  • Friend of the show Sarah Cade asked Erin, "How do you find your family members in an emergency?" Erin has some ideas.
  • For some reason, family members seem to get upset when their criminal spawn get shot! Weer'd brings us the grandfather of one of the home invaders killed in Oklahoma.
  • And our plug of the week is NRAAM 2017. Follow us on Instagram!
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
 Finding Lost Family Members
in an Emergency
This week’s topic comes to us courtesy of friend of the podcast Sarah Cade, who asked for advice on how to find family members in an emergency. And that’s a great question! However, it’s very tough to answer because in an emergency, the best way to contact family members - cell phones and the internet - may be down, or so overloaded with traffic that no signal can get through. However, there are some tips and tricks I can pass along to make finding a lost family member easier.

Now the first thing to keep in mind is that during a disaster, texts are far more likely to get through than voice cails, because texts require far less data. So ensure that family members have a phone that can send and receive texts! At this point I think even the dumbest flip phone can text so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Next, make sure that your family members have a way to keep that phone charged! There are a variety of ways to do this, with the simplest to make sure that each phone has a charging cable and both a wall and car adapter. A portable battery to charge the phone when they can’t get to an outlet is also a good idea. I recommend the Anker Astro E1, which is literally the size of a candy bar and can fully charge an iPhone 7 twice, and only costs $17 from Amazon.

Another good way to keep your cell phones operational is with a hand crank dynamo. I like the ones that are also flashlights and AM, FM, and Weather Band radios because that’s a lot of utility in one package. The iRonshow Emergency Dynamo costs only $17.99 and belongs in every prepper’s bag.

But even if the cell network is completely down, a cell phone can still be useful in locating your loved one. Make sure that you have a picture of each of them on your phone - if you have the time, take a picture of them right before you evacuate so you also have a visual record of what they were wearing - and so if you get separated from them, you can show people their picture on your phone while asking “Have you seen this person?” rather than trying to describe them.

Now back in episode 9, I recommended that people scan their critical documents - drivers’ licenses, passports, vaccination records, etc - and keep them in a thumb drive. This is still a good idea! In fact, you should have other family member’s information on this drive as well, because if you can make it a FEMA shelter, the government or the Red Cross might be able to help you find out where your family is, and having copies of their documents can’t hurt in trying to locate them.

Of course, you don’t want all that personal information hanging loose on a thumb drive, so I suggest encrypting it. I’m sure Barron will jump in next week if I get it wrong, but I’ve found that a great tool is an on-the-fly encryption tool like VeraCrypt which creates a virtual encrypted disk on your thumb drive. So long as you remember the password, you can open the encrypted files easily, but it will take others a long time to break through it!

ProTip: since you need to actually run the program to decrypt your data, install a copy of it on your thumb drive as well.

Finally, the best way to find your family members in an emergency is simply not to lose them in the first place. Pre-plan rendezvous spots if you ever get separated in an emergency. For example, my family uses the acronym ACE: if we get separated, or we cannot reach our house due to a disaster like a fire, our rendezvous spots are, in order: the Airport, our Church, and the local Epic Theater.

If you have to evacuate in multiple vehicles, make sure that every single one of them has a detailed atlas for every state you may have to travel through, and designate meet-up spots in case you get separated. This may be as simple as "the first rest stop across the state line" or as complex as a street address. Write these locations inside the cover of the atlas so they won't get lost.

And yes, I said locations, plural -- on a long journey you need more than one. General rule of thumb for military convoys is a rally point every 20 miles or so, but you don't need to go that route; something simple like "every Chevron station at an interstate exit" or "every highway exit that ends in 5" will suffice for most purposes.

So there you go, Sarah; I hope you found this helpful. And if you or any of our other listeners think of something I missed, go to, click on the Contact Us tab, scroll down to Erin, and leave me your idea in the comment box. Don’t forget to click on “More ponies” before you hit submit!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #139 - Beth, What Is Best In Life?

By Crom, what a podcast!
  • The USCCA Concealed Carry Expo is worth several shows. This week, Beth tells us what some of the women in the firearms industry have to say.
  • It's a complicated storyline in this week's Felons Behaving Badly, but the characters are much the same as they always are. Sean gives you their backstories.
  • Barron is on assignment this week.
  • Are you a snob? Miguel has a few words for you.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin explore why no one is talking about that school shooting in San Bernardino last week.
  • Are you a parent? Do you have responsibility for others? Tiffany brings us an interview with Melody Lauer who, along with John Johnston, teaches the Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent course.
  • Erin wants you to bury your stuff. Safely. For reasons.
  • From the "You can't make this stuff up" files, Weer'd brings you an interview with Moxie Cotton, a drag queen who will be helping school kids film a "gun violence documentary. Seriously.
  • And our plug of the week is "Concealed Carry is Herd Immunity Against Crime" shirts by our very own Erin!

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Cold, Hard Cache
Last week, I mentioned that best way to safeguard preps that you cannot control is to bury them. This is known as caching supplies, and has been used by militaries around the world for centuries, if not longer. What’s important to note is that the word cache - see ay see aitch ee - is from the French word “cashy” which means “one who hides”. A cache, then, is a hidden supply of something - probably something valuable, since someone has gone to the effort of hiding it. The website How to Bury Your Stuff has a phrase, No one can take what they cannot find, and I recommend that every prepper read it.

Now when it comes to caching supplies, there are three qualities to keep in mind: Accessibility, Portability, and Capacity.
Accessibility. This is the most important consideration, because a buried cache you cannot get to might as well not exist at all for what good it does you. The ideal solution is to cache on land that you own, as this gives you the best amount of control over it, but many preppers have caches concealed along the route to a bug-out location. If you do this, it is critical that you can get to these supplies at all times of the day and night, and in all seasons.

Access doesn’t always mean “can I reach the place where I buried my cache”, either; it can also mean how difficult it is to unearth it. If the ground freezes where you live, then you need to have a way to break through frozen ground in order to reach your supplies. Will there be flooding? A foot of standing water can make it nearly impossible to get to your cache. And if the land is public, there’s always the chance that the earth could be disturbed for a variety of reasons - erosion, development, animal activity - and reveal your cache to other people.

Portability. Once you reach your cache, do you need to take everything, including the case, with you? Or can you just open it, take what you need, and close it back up?

A completely portable cache needs to be small. Not only will a larger container be heavier, but it will also take more time and effort to dig up than if you only need to remove the lid. However, if you are in a hurry you may not have time to properly re-bury or otherwise conceal a non-portable cache, meaning that anything you cannot take will be lost, whereas with a portable container you can just leave behind an empty hole.

Capacity. There are differing schools of thought on this subject. On the one hand, it’s a lot of work to dig a hole, fill a container with supplies, seal it up, bury it, and conceal the evidence of the burial, so there’s a lot to be said for doing the “one and done” approach, especially on land that you own.

On the other hand, “one and done” means that if your cache is compromised, you have lost ALL of those preps. However, if you spend the time and effort to hide multiple caches, you stand a greater success of not losing all of them.
So with these in mind, I present to you various options for making your cache.

  • A wide-mouth Nalgene bottle is a great way to store a lot of small preps, or to have a portable cache, and they only cost around 10 dollars. If the bottle is opaque, or if you put have a sleeve to put it in, no one will see that it’s full of supplies instead of water, and these days no one looks twice at a water bottle unless they’re thirsty. I specified Nalgene instead of metal because plastic won’t rust the way metal will, and unless you are burying a cache in the desert or other dry climate, you need to worry about groundwater.
  • If you want to store a little more and are willing to pay more, an MTM Survivor Ammo Can costs $20 and holds up to 500 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, or 16 30-round magazines, or anything else that fits into a 7x12 inch space, like a pistol or money or food.
  • For a great combination of capacity and portability, kick it old-school with an Army surplus ammo can, which costs between $25 and $30 depending on if you choose 30 or 50 caliber. While these are made of metal, they are incredibly tough; there’s a picture on How to Bury Your Stuff that shows a can that was buried for 4 years, and the pistol and ammunition stored inside it worked perfectly. The can showed signs of rust and pitting, but could have probably stayed in the ground another 4 years without issue. Giving the bottom of the can extra coats of Rust-Oleum paint and wrapping it in a plastic tarp will also expand its functional lifespan.
  • To get more capacity at the loss of portability, get some food-grade buckets like I mentioned waaaay back in episode 5 and pair them with some gamma-seal lids for $12 each. They provide an airtight seal on the bucket and they’re very easy to open if you have opposable thumbs -- much less so if you’re an animal. We store pet food in ours and leave them on our back porch, and while animals have tried to get inside by gnawing the plastic, not even raccoons have been able to open the lid.
  • Finally, if you want a big container for a “one and done” solution, get a Military Grade 58-Gallon Waterproof Molded Barrel. They’re big - almost 2 feet across and nearly 4 feet high - and they’re heavy, weighing 18 pounds - but boy do they hold a LOT of stuff. I’m not sure how you’d get everything out of if without having to crawl inside, but you can fit anything short of a fully-assembled Mosin-Nagant inside. They’re also quite expensive - around $60 before shipping - but I can’t think of anything larger I’d want to bury.
And remember: If they can’t find it, they can’t take it!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

No One OKCupids Like Gaston

Salem has to take the week off due to increased work, so instead I will post something delightful he did two weeks ago.

I posted this to Facebook with the caption Wow, I have no idea why this person is single....

A friend replied with Not sure what gender this person is, but I want to add the caption: "If Gaston had a Mensa card."

And then Salem, in his guise as MC Sal McG, responded with this delightful filk:
Nooooo oooonnnee's

Smart like Gaston
No one brags like Gaston
No one talks about percentile marks like Gaston

As a specimen yes they're ingratiating
My what a guy, Gaston!

No one jogs like Gaston
Burns off carbs like Gaston
No one hits the ellipticals quite like Gaston

When he was a lad he'd do 5k a day
Every morning while reading textbooks
Now that he's grown he'll do 10k a day
So his brains can impress like his looks!
Would you like to hear Salem sing that? Of course you would.

Traveller Tuesday-Thursday: That Way Madness Lies

I'm not even going to explain this, because it would take too long.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
I started working on it.... a while ago... and thought for sure I'd be done on Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Now it's early Thursday and I've already passed through "This won't work the way I want it to", "What a stupid idea," "I've wasted too much time on this already to give up now," and am not camping out at "Screw it, I've done this much , I might as well post it and get partial credit. Maybe someone will have a brilliant idea about how to make it work."

400 quatloos to whomever not only recognizes this chart but also figures out what I'm trying to do with it.

(Hint: it's not complete)

Monday, April 10, 2017

SHTF: Passover Candles for Prepping

No, it's not disrespectful, or poor form, or sacrilegious: I asked about that and was told it wasn't.

Go read more at Blue Collar Prepping.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #138 - Everything Sounds More Profound in Latin

Semper ubi sub ubi.
  • Beth is at the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo, and she takes some time out of her incredibly busy schedule to tell us about it.
  • In one of the worst crimes we have ever talked about on the podcast, Sean looks a little deeper to find out what kind of creature would murder two little girls - one only four days old.
  • Barron is on assignment this week.
  • Politicians frequently mistake themselves as public masters. Miguel tells us his idea for whipping them back into proper public servants.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin talk about the US Senate going nuclear and imposing the Reid Option on Supreme Court filibusters.
  • Tiffany is on assignment this week.
  • Inter arma enim silent leges: "In times of war, the law falls silent." But what about when your choice is break the law and survive, or keep the law and die? Erin tells us about "The Doctrine of Competing Harms."
  • One of these days the anti-gun leadership will force Loaded Conversations to stop broadcasting their utter hatred of people like us - but today is not that day, for it truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Weer'd focuses on Gays Against Guns leader, and Loaded Conversations co-host, Dr. Dwight Panozzo, PhD.
  • And our plug of the week is the SFD Responder from Safer Faster Defense.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to Lucky Gunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Ethical Prepping and the Doctrine of Competing Harms

Over the years, the Blue Collar Prepping blog has talked about some subjects which, while not illegal themselves, could certainly aid in illegal activities. For example, last year Chaplain Tim talked about lock picking, and this past Thursday he talked about how to siphon gasoline from underground storage tanks as a way to fuel your vehicle after a disaster.

Like Tim, I believe there’s no such thing as inherently bad knowledge for the same reason that I believe there’s no such thing as an inherently bad tool; it’s what we do with those tools, or that knowledge, that matters.

There’s also the fact that in a life or death situation, it is permitted to break a the law when following it would cause more human injury than breaking it. This is known as the Doctrine of Competing Harms here in the US, although it is sometimes called the Doctrine of Necessity or the Doctrine of Two Evils.

For example, if you are lost in the woods and you are in danger of dying from exposure or dehydration, it is legally defensible for you to break into an unoccupied cabin in order to save your own life, because a human life is more precious in the eyes of the law than personal property. You can get in out of the cold, you can build a fire, you can even drink water and eat food, because this trespassing and burglary is being done to save a life.

However, it is not legally defensible for you to then ransack that cabin or take items from it. Once you are out of danger, anything else you do is prosecutable. Now, some of you are likely wondering “This is all very well and good, Erin, but what does this have to do with prepping?” And the answer to that is ethics.

Here’s an example of ethical lock picking: You come across that same unoccupied cabin in the woods and you’re going to die of exposure if you don’t get shelter and warmth. You could just break the lock or smash a window to get inside, but it’s more ethical to pick the lock, because it doesn’t destroy the cabin owner’s property. It’s also ethical to leave a note with your name and contact information, explaining what you did, and why, and what you used, and offering to compensate the owner for loss and damages. Not only is this the decent thing to do, but it also gives you affirmative defense against charges of trespassing, burglary and theft.

Similarly, if you are a prepper who owns such a cabin, it is ethical to keep it unlocked and stocked with food, water and firewood in case someone is stranded and needs shelter. That’s a common practice in Alaska and many parts of Canada, and I’ve heard it done as far south as upstate New York. Remember, the entire point of prepping is to prevent suffering and death. Clearly, your own well-being comes before that of others, but if your life isn’t on the line -- for example, you aren’t currently living in that cabin -- then your concern should be for other innocent people.

I will admit that things become a bit fuzzy if that cabin is your bug-out location and is filled with your preps, because in that case anything which is taken by a stranger in need is conceivably being taken from you when you might need them in the future. This is made even fuzzier if you keep firearms among your preps. In a situation like that, what I recommend is a bit of misdirection. Leave the door unlocked and some back staples like food, water and blankets for such a lost soul, but keep your main preps both hidden and locked.

Good places to hide your preps are:

  • Under the floorboards
  • Buried a few feet underground 
  • Concealed nearby, under a camouflage tarp or otherwise made to look like part of the terrain
Whichever you choose, it’s important to make sure that these preps are sealed tightly. Not only will this prevent damage from moisture, but a tight seal will lock in odors that might attract hungry wildlife.

Next week, I’ll talk about the best containers for such storage. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Bell Has Tolled, and For The Last Time

I don't talk about it much anymore, but when I was younger, I was really into professional wrestling. I was a mark (someone who believed it was real) for a while when I first started watching, but when I became a smark (a fan who knows about the choreography and storytelling) I began to enjoy it even more.

I've drifted away from it as I've grown. I used to be tuned in every Monday night for WWF RAW and WCW Nitro, through the Monday Night Wars and the nWo and all of the drama, but one thing kept me coming back: The Undertaker.

I wasn't there for the debut of The Undertaker, but I clearly remember through the haze of the years seeing on a friend's television a re-run of the Summerslam event where The Undertaker fought a fake Undertaker. I was mesmerized. Being a weird kid from a young age, seeing something so bizarre and otherworldly was inspiring and exciting, and growing from weird kid into goth kid in high school kept me connected to the 'Taker and his storylines.

The other day, after seeing Logan, I jokingly told a friend that I couldn't take Wolverine and The Undertaker retiring within a month of each other. There's some truth to that; The Undertaker retiring has hit me harder than any of the celebrity deaths that were all the rage in the last year. Even though I wasn't a regular viewer, and watching wrestling had dwindled down to finding streams of his rare matches on the internet some weeks after they took place, I still came back to watch The Undertaker fight.

I get that it's not real. He's not really a cult leader, or an undead cowboy, or an old west zombie mortician. I get that wrestling isn't a real fight... but it's still athleticism. It's still people putting their bodies at risk for entertainment, and it's still about putting on a god damn good show, and no one did that better than Mark Calaway.
Even at age 50, the man can still do a 40 inch vertical leap.
Even at a billed height of 6 foot 10, inches he's climbing the top rope and diving over it like a man a full foot shorter would do.
He's throwing punches that makes you cringe when they (at least appear to) connect.
And that's just the physicality! The theatrics are on another level entirely. They've changed over the years, keeping the gimmick of "The Undertaker" fresh, and I haven't always liked them (Big Evil and American Badass I can choose to overlook), but that coat and hat will always be remembered.

This last weekend was his final appearance. I haven't seen the whole match, but I saw the important part: I saw what happened after the match. They played his music, and the lights dimmed. He put his hat and coat back on, faced the crowds cheering him on like a victorious Roman gladiator, and then...

Then he took his coat and hat off. Folded his coat and laid it in the ring. Took his hat off and laid it on his coat. The Undertaker retired.

It was time, too. I'm glad he's walking away at this point. Tall guys like him are prone to injury, and given how hard he's worked, and how much he's put that body through, he's probably falling apart by now.

He's left a huge legacy behind, both in the ring and out, as I've heard stories about how he's helped out people and has been extremely supportive to the people he's worked with, and I'll always be a fan.

Good night, Dead Man. You'll always be remembered.
I've certainly paid my Ministry of Darkness Dues

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The McThag Legal Defense Fund

For those who may not have heard, gunblogger McThag was embroiled in a bit of legal drama this past month. The good news is that everything worked out all right in the end; the bad news is that he had to hire a lawyer and the various legal fees became pretty hefty. 

He's managed to pay a lot of it back, but he's still about $800 in the hole. Go read his story, and if you feel sufficiently moved, click on the "Donate" button in the upper right. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Traveller Tuesday: Legally Dead in Low Passage, Part 2

Last month I wrote an article about how the Imperium considered someone legally dead while in cold sleep, which caused a bit of a stir. One person on a Facebook group asked me, "How does this affect marriage?" and I had to admit I hadn't considered that. It also got me thinking about legal contracts (which is what a marriage is) and if someone could break a contract just by going into stasis long enough to be considered dead.

I have now given it due consideration, and this is my answer.
My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.

Marriage and Other Contracts
Even though marriage vows specifically state " 'Til death do us part", cold sleep is still seen as temporary death pending revival, and therefore not a nullification of a contract. If legal death nullified contracts, then someone whose heart stopped for several seconds on the operating table could say "I died, and so all my contractual obligations died with me." Since that doesn't happen (and would make poor business sense), it's clear that contracts end only after permanent death.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you're suddenly back on the hook for bills plus compounded interest if your emergency low berth is recovered after 20 years. If you are reported lost in a starship accident and rescue efforts cannot recover you (or your body), you are declared legally permanently dead and a Death Certificate is issued. On the other hand, if you just disappear for years in order to escape a contract or debts (see below), that's considered fraud.

But in order to get around that specific "until death" clause, a special exception has been written into Imperial Law which states the following:
  1. A marriage is not dissolved during cold sleep without either a death certificate or one party filing for divorce. 
  2. Marriages are specifically exempt from dissolution if both parties are in cold sleep. (This is specifically to prevent abuses such as next of kin dissolving the marriage while having power of attorney, or a lawyer serving divorce proceedings while both are in stasis.)
Savvy readers will no doubt notice that there is still an opportunity for legal shenanigans though clever use of timing. Don't think of this as a loophole; think of it as a plot hook instead. 

Debts are slightly different than other contracts, because most contracts are a case of "I get something from you and you get something from me" whereas debts are "I already gave you this thing, so now you owe me." It's all very well and good to say that someone's debts don't disappear in cold sleep unless there is a death certificate, but what about the companies that are out very real amounts of money if the aforementioned person lost for 20 years comes back?

The answer is "Imperial Relief Provision." In short, it states that if someone in low passage is certified dead (death certificate issued) as a result of accident or misadventure while in transit, the Imperium will buy that debt from the creditor. This also means that if you fake your death to get out of debt, that debt will be owned by the Imperium -- and if they investigate and discover you defrauded them, they will come after you for redress.

Relief Provision, either Imperial or local, is also a handy way to encourage colonization. People swimming in debt with no way to pay can become colonists, with the government buying their debt and allowing them to work it off at a generous rate (10 cents on the credit and with no interest, for example), or with all debt being forgiven after a set period of years (usually in multiples of 5, depending on the amount involved.)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Product Review: the Glock “Gadget”
The Tau Development Group’s Striker Control Device, also known as the “Glock Gadget”, is a device that can be added to any double-stack Glock pistol to prevent an accidental discharge while holstering.

The Gadget is a metal two-piece hinged design that replaces the plastic slide cover plate. The moving portion has a protrusion that rests against the striker.; when you pull the trigger, the striker moves backwards, which causes the hinged back plate to move. By applying pressure with your thumb to the striker control device, you can prevent an accidental discharge, such as when you are holstering your pistol and something gets caught inside the trigger guard.

By keeping your thumb on the Gadget while you holster your Glock, you will feel pressure against your thumb as it resists the striker going backward. This not only alerts you to the problem of something within your holster depressing the trigger, but it also prevents an accidental discharge (and therefore a potentially serious injury) by slowing or halting the backward motion of the striker.

Despite adding more moving parts to your gun, the SCD doesn't introduce an opportunity for extra malfunctions. It is designed to "fail unsafe", meaning that if it breaks it does not interfere with the ability of the pistol to fire.

It's very simple to install the Gadget: just (carefully!) remove the stock slide cover plate from your Glock and replace it with the SCD. It took me longer to research how to safely remove my back plate than it took to actually swap them out.

It is noteworthy that, once installed, the SCD has a tendency to flop about and make noise when tension is not being put on the trigger bar. This is not a problem for me, but it might be for you.

I bought mine several years ago via the Indigogo crowdfund campaign for it, and I received it in time to use it at MAG40. I’m pleased to announce that not only did the Gadget function flawlessly that weekend, with over 500 rounds of ammunition fired, but it also integrated perfectly with how the instructors taught us to holster our pistols. Those with hammer-fired pistols were told to keep their thumbs on the hammer while holstering in order to prevent accidental discharges, and this is precisely how the Striker Control Device is meant to be used.

In fact, during the class one of the Range Safety Officers came up to me and said “Hey, Erin, the back plate on your Glock looks broken.” I just grinned and said “No, that’s a safety modification! Let me show you how it works when the range goes cold.” I demonstrated it for him, and he seemed impressed with it.

At $79 (plus $5 shipping), it isn't what I would consider cheap. However, it's far less expensive than an AD that shoots a hole in my leg.

My Rating: A+
I heartily endorse the Striker Control Device and I recommend it to anyone who carries a Glock daily. It’s easy to install, easy to use, and it survived a MAG40 course with no problems at all.

Dear FTC: I bought this with my own money, so bugger off. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #137 - You Keep Using That Word

The media being inaccurate? Or having an agenda? Inconceivable!
  • You think shooting a gun is a hair-raising experience? Beth suggests you try trimming a baby's nails. If you can do that, maybe shooting isn't so scary after all!
  • What kind of person shoots his girlfriend to death outside of her home? Sean takes a closer look.
  • Barron is on assignment this week, but in his place we welcome back Miguel in the inaugural episode of his new segment The Flea Market of Ideas. Miguel talks about less-lethal options for dealing with Antifa mobs.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin commiserate about the total misuse of the phrase "Stand Your Ground" in the media.
  • As promised last week, Tiffany tells us all about her trip to Germany to speak before the World Forum on Shooting Activities.
  • Last week Erin told you what emergency trauma equipment you'd need to keep people alive until the professional rescuers got there. Well what are you going to do if rescue isn't coming? Listen and find out.
  • We give them our tax dollars, but what does NPR do with them? Weer'd shows us that they don't try really hard to be objective.
  • And our plug of the week is Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, the books that inspired the Russell Crowe movie, "Master and Commander: Far Side of the World."
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
Medical Reference Books
With this weekend being April Fools’ Day, I was going to do a segment on how a folded and strategically placed piece of toilet paper can be a critically important prep when meeting people -- such as for a job interview or on a first date -- but I couldn’t find a way to address the subject in the classy manner you’ve come to expect from GunBlog VarietyCast segments. But if there’s enough interest, I could be persuaded to write it up for my blog. It really IS a very useful prep, despite the questionable taste of the subject matter.

Anyhoo, moving on…

Last week, I talked about what you should have at home to treat a traumatic injury while waiting for the ambulance to show up. But what about if you’re in a disaster situation and emergency services can’t show up? That’s an entirely different set of preps. 

Now a lot of people are probably thinking that I’m going to recommend scalpels and suturing kits and skin staplers and those surplus “military” 20-piece surgical kits you find for suspiciously low prices in places like the Bud K catalog. 

Yeah…. No. The reason those kits are so cheap is because they’re made with non-surgical steel. This is a bad, BAD thing, because this kind of cheap stainless steel has tiny grooves and trenches in that can trap traces of tissues or fluid, leading to infection if you use them on another patient. They’ve also been known to cause microscopic holes in surgical gloves, leading to infection of the person using them. 

So these are bad, bad, bad, things. Do not use them, do not get them, use ONLY surgical grade steel that you KNOW is surgical grade. 

As for the other things I mentioned -- they’re great, IF you know how to use them. I’m not going to make product recommendations on that subject because I  don’t know how to properly use them, so I don’t know what’s good and what isn’t. I’ll see if I can get an EMT to write a blog article about it. 
But here’s what I can recommend: BOOKS. Lots and lots of books, filled with knowledge on what to look for and what to do. 

The first book every prepper needs is the Merck Manual of Medical Information. It comes in two versions, the Home Edition - which uses everyday language non-doctors can understand - and the professional version, which is more up to date but has lots of dense medical terms. The professional version is also much more expensive. 

This manual is very useful for diagnosing what is wrong with someone based on their symptoms. And it tells you what causes the ailment and how to treat it. Its main drawback is that the treatment advice assumes you have access to modern medicine and equipment, and in a long-term disaster you won’t have access to those. 

For that reason, I recommend the “Where There Is No Doctor” series of books. These explain how to treat common maladies and injuries using plain language, lots of illustrations, and the assumption that you don’t have access to first-world medical care but instead must make do with first aid supplies and home remedies. In addition to the first book, subtitled “A Village Health Care Handbook”, there are others that deal with different topics, such “Where there is no dentist” for dental problems; “When There Is No Doctor: Preventive and Emergency Healthcare” for preventive medicine, and “Where Women Have No Doctor” an entire book on healthcare for women’s reproductive health. 

Many of these “Where there is no fill in the blank” books are also available in Kindle edition, making them incredibly portable. Buy them, download them to your smart phone or Kindle -- remember, I talked about making a survival e-reader part of your bug-out gear - and keep them handy when you need them. 

Gear can be improvised, but knowledge is priceless, so carry as much of it as you can!

The Fine Print

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

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