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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Traveller Thursday: Life Support

I'm not 100% back to writing about Traveller. I just happened to have a sudden realization about something that has been bugging me for years and I wanted to write it down before I forgot.

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

The thing which bugs me most about ship design in Mongoose Traveller is that there's no mention of life support. I realize that life support has been ex post facto folded into stateroom tonnage, but that doesn't quite make sense because stateroom tonnage has already been explained as covering both the rooms themselves and the common areas.

(Quick digression for those who don't recall what I'm talking about: in Traveller, staterooms displace 4 tons but in most deckplans they are displayed as only displacing 3. That extra dton is allocated for corridors, common rooms and the like. The problem is, when you get anal and decide to count how many dtons of corridors and room space there are, it adds up to way more than the number of staterooms in the ship.)

What's funny is that I realized the actual number of staterooms doesn't matter. What matters is "How many people can you cram onto a ship", and that's actually a completely different question than "How many staterooms are there", because you could fit a bunch of refugees into an empty cargo bay. No, what matters is how much food, air and water they consume. In other words, we need to calculate how many dtons of life support one person requires.

So let's work this out:
  • One person in a low berth displaces 1/2 dton and requires no life support. 
  • Because people who aren't in cold sleep need food, water, oxygen, and space to move around, let's double that for human-sized crew. 
    • K'kree and other livestock-sized animals displace twice that amount. 
    • Hivers also displace the same amount of space as humans; we just think they take up more space because their longest axis is horizontal whereas ours is vertical. 
  • Since everything is based around the standard jump time of 1 week, let's assume that life support dtonnage is done by the week. This reflects food that needs to be bought, filters that need to be changed out, waste that needs recycling into water, etc. 
  • Don't forget that transit time to and from the jump point, so you probably should have 2 weeks per person. This could probably be extended in an emergency through rationing and depressurizing non-inhabited parts of the ship, but that's a subject for a different article. 
  • This gives us a hasty figure of 2 dtons per person for a commercial ship -- or half a stateroom, which is in line with the core rules when they say "No stateroom can contain more than two persons, as it would strain the ship’s life support equipment." This seems reasonable and tells me I'm on the right track. 
  • But what about ships that stay on station for weeks or months at a time, like Scouts on survey or the military on patrol? Well, this is handily addressed in High Guard (1st edition High Guard, to be clear -- I don't play 2e Mongoose Traveller) when it talks about endurance and nicely accounts for food packs, oxygen scrubbers/filters, and other assorted spare parts that are needed for basic maintenance and are stored in compact form:
Endurance
Ships are able to operate for one month without needing to go into a spaceport for maintenance, assuming an adequate supply of fuel. This is increased by one month for every 1% of total tonnage dedicated to cargo. If fleet support vessels are in attendance then another three months can be added to the time needed before maintenance is required.
  • In other words, each 1% of total tonnage dedicated to supplies represents an additional month of life support as already allocated. If you have more people than your life support is rated to handle, you're going to be dipping into supplies early.  

At this point I imagine some of you are saying Whoop-tee-doo, Erin. If life support requires 2 dtons per person for an average trip, how is this any different from stateroom tonnage? and my answer to that is this:
  1. It frees up tonnage from the obligatory "The captain (and sometimes senior officers) always get their own private stateroom aboard ship";
  2. It allows the Navy to pack crew in tight (1 dton/person) for maximum warfighting efficiency, because fleet support ships exist to solve this very problem;
  3. It adds realism, and possibly dramatic tension, to scenarios where a player character's ship is used to rescue a bunch of people and/or has a cargo hold full of live animals;
  4. It gives ship designers one less thing to worry about. Staterooms stop being gameable spaces and become set dressing like common rooms. 
Maybe no one will care about this. Maybe this was all a waste of time. I don't know. What I do know is this: Something which had been bugging me is no longer bugging, and that makes me happy. 

I just make the free ice cream. Whether or not you eat it is your business.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 4

Stark Expo, 13 June, 1942

Strains of Glenn Miller's In The Mood wafted over the warm summer evening air punctuated by fireworks, masking the groaning sound of the TARDIS landing behind a cotton candy stand. The door opened, and Clara stepped out wearing a cushy beige cardigan and matching dress. She stopped and admired the fireworks bursting in the sky behind the giant globe that sat in the center square of the Expo. The Doctor stepped out behind her and noticed Clara glaring at him.

"What?" he said innocently.

"You insisted that I dress period-appropriate, reasoning that we were guests in this timeline, but here you are in a hoodie and jumper that look like they were attacked by a ravenous pack of moths."

"Oh, that's fine. Here, problem solved," Clara's eyes widened as the wizened visage of the Doctor melted away into that of a woman no older than her, blonde hair in a style fashionable for the 1940s and wearing a red floral-print dress.

"What... wait, what exactly did you just..." Clara was having trouble finding the words to describe what she'd just seen. The Doctor smiled through the young woman's face, and his voice came in a soft American accent as he held up a small device that looked like a pager.

"Image inducer. The TARDIS databanks found it in the aborted timeline and replicated the technology. Because it keeps trying to reassert itself, little parts of the other timeline bleed through. This little gadget is amazing, it's like a cross between the holographic clothes we wore to see the Papal Mainframe and the TARDIS's own perception filter. You probably haven't noticed, but you're speaking in American accent now, too."

Clara clutched at her throat momentarily, but the Doctor strode off in his patent leather pumps, continuing to talk, "Now then, the information I was able to pull out of our rodent friend's temporal dissection says that Captain America himself is witness to the focal point in time that caused the straw to go all bendy. We just have to follow him there and make sure it's fixed."

"And how do we do that? Wouldn't he be off punching Nazis? We are in the thick of World War II," Clara asked, following towards a pair of large statues.

"Easy. I had the TARDIS send him a psychic message. He thinks he's set up a double date with a friend of his and a couple of pretty young girls. Now, the image inducer has me covered, but do you think you can manage to pretend to be a pretty young girl for a few minutes at least?"

Clara bristled for a moment, "Doctor, I am a..." she started, before trailing off as her eye caught a handsome young dark-haired man in a dress uniform. "That must be him, yeah? He's cute. I can't just call him Captain America, though, can I? I mean that's not him yet."

"I think he goes by Bucky now," The Doctor said, fiddling with his screwdriver while Clara flagged down the soldier. He smiled, and approached with his short, slight blonde friend in tow. As they met, the soldier draped his arm around Clara and the Doctor ignored his friend. They all strolled together into the Modern Marvels Pavilion.

To be Concluded

Monday, July 16, 2018

ACP Episode 015: Prior Restraint vs Due Process


In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss dog deterrence and nasal lavage;
  • the Main Topic is the importance of youth gun safety training, with a few stories of kids who found guns in surprising locations;
  • The Egghead talks about what equipment is best for outfitting your Ham Radio Shack;
  • Weer'd brings us a patented Audio Fisk of Rock and Movie Star Henry Rollins,
  • David discusses New York State gun laws, including the infamous SAFE Act;
  • and Steve talks about equipment failure while on surveillance.

Listen to the episode here.

Reminder: we will give away a C-5 Lower from Frontier Armory on July 18th as a Thank You to our Patreon Patrons. If you're reading this on Monday, you still have time to become a Patron!

You didn't know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that’s $1/podcast) and you’ll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!


Show Notes

Main Topic:
Weer’d Audio Fisk:
General Purpose Egghead:

    Thursday, July 12, 2018

    OBS on TTAG

    I know that many gunbloggers won't touch The Truth About Guns, mainly due to the actions of Robert Farago. If that's the case, it may interest you to know that Farago isn't with the company any more -- after he sold TTAG to Wide Open Media, they fired him in an attempt to improve the reputation of the brand.

    If that doesn't interest you, then at least let me point out that "staff writer" (I actually know the writer in question, having met them personally, but they requested to be kept anonymous and I respect that) wrote a lovely article about Operation Blazing Sword yesterday.



    Go read the article, even if you never return to TTAG. Just... don't read the comments. NEVER read the comments. Not unless you enjoy arguing with idiots or spiking your blood pressure.


    Tuesday, July 10, 2018

    $30 IFAK Challenge

    In case you don't read it on the regular (and you should), I have an article over at Blue Collar Prepping wherein I give my solution to a challenge of assembling an Individual First Aid Kit for $30 or less.

    Go give it a read


    Monday, July 9, 2018

    ACP Episode 014: Now, Mr. Beard, the Advantage is Mine!


    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss the California court decision that upheld their micro-stamping despite compliance with the law being impossible;
    • Weer'd brings us an audio fisk of Mike "The Gun Guy" Weisser;
    • The Egghead brings continues his series on Ham Radio with a segment on [whatever the plural of antenna is] and how to make your own;
    • David explains the difference between discussing the Second Amendment in person vs online;
    • and Steve tells us about a couple of gruesome accidents he needed to investigate.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Weer’d Audio fisk:
    Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

    Saturday, July 7, 2018

    What is Heteronormativity?

    A friend recently complained about the lesbian relationships that have been front-and-center in both Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow as "pushing a social justice agenda", and I thought this could be a good teachable moment. Sadly, I don't think my friend is open to this particular argument, so instead I'm going to turn the teachable moment into a blog post.
    First, a Disclaimer: This post is meant to be informative and to build bridges. I don't intend for this post to be scolding or lecturing, so if I come across as such, I apologize. I'm just trying to explain a concept that many people might not understand.
    Let's say you're watching a television show with your elementary school-age child, and two of the characters on screen have a romantic kiss. I don't mean "a kiss with a lot of tongue action", I mean a nice, prime-time-appropriate smooch without tongue but which is definitely more than just a peck on the lips. A good benchmark for this is "The kind of kiss that people share once they've been pronounced married."

    What is your reaction to your child seeing this public display of affection?
    1. Turn the TV off. Well, while I disagree with your decision*, I respect you for your across-the board consistency. 
      • * Mainly because you're saying "I don't think it's appropriate for my child to see two loving adults kiss" and that makes me wonder about the amount of love in your marriage, not to mention the fact that you're also saying that it's not appropriate to take children to weddings. 
    2. Allow your child to watch and then afterwards ask them "Did you have any questions about what you saw on TV?" This is the correct answer as far as I'm concerned, but ending my post here doesn't really teach anything. 
    3. React on the basis of the sexuality of the kissers. This is the troublesome answer, because if you picked this one I'm betting that you're okay with your child seeing a man and a woman kiss, but aren't comfortable with same-sex kisses. 
    #3 is what's called "heternormativity", the belief that heterosexuality (hetero-) is the social norm (-normative) within our society. And as beliefs go (and this is where I get into trouble with the SJWs), it's not incorrect; if we define "normal" as "usual, typical, or expected", then yes, heterosexuality is the norm, because depending on which studies you use, between 75% and 90% of the world's population is heterosexual.

    And just to be clear: there's nothing wrong with being heterosexual. I love my heterosexual friends and family! Without heterosexuality, I wouldn't be here, and neither would most of you.

    The downside of heteronormativity is that it causes people to think, perhaps without even realizing it, that everything which is "straight" is natural and everything which is "gay" is unnatural. To use my example above, I found it strange that my friend reacted so strongly to his child seeing lesbian relationships on television, yet was perfectly okay with his child seeing numerous examples of straight couples having sex outside of marriage, and at least one instance of having a child out of wedlock.

    Or put another way: If you feel uncomfortable every time a man talks about his husband or boyfriend, or a woman talks about her wife or girlfriend, or you see them kiss, then you maybe have a feeling of what it's like for us on the queer side of things to be constantly bombarded with cultural messages that we're wrong if we aren't straight. If you want to track this for yourself, bring a pen and paper with you when you watch TV and make note of how often characters talk about heterosexual relationships -- his wife, his girlfriend, her husband, her boyfriend. I think you'll be surprised at how many tick marks you have, and that you never noticed it until now.

    If you do, congratulations! You've just discovered something called cultural invisibility, which is a fancy way of saying "You've never noticed it because it's always been around you." Or, put another way: do you ever think about the air around you unless it's acting upon you (blowing) or taken away (drowning)?

    Queer people feel that wind blowing all the time. We're surrounded by it like you are, but we feel pressured by it while you don't. And so, it's nice to see examples of ourselves in media, because it's a nice shelter from the wind when our culture takes time to say "Hey, it's okay to be something other than normal."

    Speaking of which, can we use a word other than normal? Because the opposite of that is "abnormal" which has all sorts of unsavory connotations like "sick", "broken" and "unnatural." How about we use "ordinary" instead? It still means commonplace, standard -- you know, all the stuff that "normal" means -- but the opposite of ordinary is "extraordinary" which actually makes us non-standard folk feel awesome.  Admit it, you'd love being called extraordinary. You're not shorter than average, you're extraordinarily short. You aren't a weird geek, you're extraordinarily enthusiastic. It sounds like a superpower!

    Finally, if I leave you with nothing else, let me leave you with this: Queer people exist in the world, and there's just no getting around that or hiding from it. Don't hide us from your children; prepare them for the world that they're going to live in. We aren't bad people -- we're just extraordinary.

    Thank you.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2018

    Blame 1986

    People rightly complain that comic books were shit in the 1990s (and they were; there's a reason the 90s are called the Dark Age of Comics), but those seeds of shittiness were sown in the mid-80s, specifically 1986.

    In 1986, DC Comics started Crisis on Infinite Earths to simplify continuity, because allegedly comic book readers couldn't keep track of which characters existed on "Earth-1" and which on "Earth-2". This is of course pure bullshit, as anyone who has hung out with comic book nerds knows they love learning trivia and arguing minutia. Hell, I could keep track of the fact that Alan Scott was the Green Lantern of Earth-2 and Hal Jordan was the Green Lantern of Earth-1, and that the former was magically based and had a vulnerability to wood while the latter was super-tech and had a vulnerability to yellow, before I was 10 years old.

    Regardless, the "simplification" of DC Comics happened, and it screwed up a bunch of things in an attempt to cram multiple origins into a single universe. For example, Power Girl was no longer a grown-up Supergirl but was instead the descendant of an Atlantean sorcerer, and Hawkman's origin was broken so badly that I don't think it's ever been resolved (is he the reincarnation of an Egyptian noble? Is he an alien police officer from the planet Thanagar? I think that at one time they tried to make him be both at once). But instead of actually fixing things, this move instead resulted in an endless series of reboots that attempted to fix continuity: Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, and eventually Flashpoint which ended up throwing most of DC continuity into the bin and restarting the entire universe over again The New 52.

    So yeah, that simplification worked out really well.


    Compare and contrast that with Marvel Comics: while DC tends to reboot itself to varying degrees on a regular basis, Marvel doesn't reboot anything.  To avoid the whole awkward "Iron Man built his suit in the 1960s so he ought to be in his 80s right now" problem, Marvel just sort of nods in the vague direction of linear time. This is especially applicable in the case of decompressed storytelling, which is what you get when stories that could be resolved in a few issues are stretched out for 6 months to a year.

    In 1986, Marvel comics began its transition from "good comic book stories" to "soap operas in spandex" as they systematically fucked over books and characters in the name of drama and increasingly decompressed stories. For example:

    • The Thing leaves the Fantastic Four and decides to be a professional wrestler for... reasons. I was 13 at the time -- THE target demographic for this sort of thing -- and I thought this was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. "Sure, I can believe that Ben Grimm, who is both rich and famous as a member of the Fantastic Four, feels unfulfilled and decides the best thing to do is become a fake wrestler. Riiiiiight."
    • Steve Rogers is forced out of being Captain America and is replaced by Super-Patriot. He then becomes "The Captain", or basically "Captain America with a plain shield and the blue in his costume replaced with black", and he acquires a ridiculous sidekick named D-Man who is every awkward stereotype you can think of and who dresses in an outfit that looks like Wolverine's yellow-and-blue number hate-fucked Daredevil's old yellow-and-black costume. Ugh. 
    • The Scourge of the Underworld kills a bunch of villains, culminating in a mass murder at The Bar With No Name. I don't recall ever finding out who this person was, just that it was a heavy-handed way to remove villains (who no one had seen or cared about in years) from continuity. 
    • Cyclops goes from "heroic leader" to "massive shitheel" who abandons his wife and baby to take up with pointlessly-reincarnated Jean Grey, because mutants are a hot commodity now and the editors wanted to bring back the original five-man X-Band. 
    • The Mutant Massacre (again, killing characters for no reason other than shock value), leading to the X-Men -- a top performing comic, by the way -- being splintered as half the team goes off to Britain to form Excaliber (a comic which I couldn't read, by the way, because it was direct-to-specialty-stores-only title and I didn't have one where I lived; I could only buy my comics off the spinner rack) and the other half was shunted off to Australia for some damnfool reason. This is also the storyline that gave us Jubilee, so now you know precisely who to blame for that. 

    In short, blame 1986 for the trainwreck that was 1990s comic books.


    Monday, July 2, 2018

    ACP Episode 013: Our Man Friday


    In This Episode:
    • Erin interviews Eric Friday, lead counsel for Florida Carry about the recent detention of Florida Carry members by Miami Beach police for lawfully open carry of firearms.
    • Connie gives us the background on the "Flag Situation" in the Summit between the US and North Korea in Singapore through a fascinating history of Diplomatic Protocol.
    • Weer'd fisks Levi Tillemann's campaign ad where he pepper sprays... himself?
    • The Egghead gives us a primer on High Frequency Radio Propagation.
    • and David discusses how gun owners can be our own worst enemy.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Washington in Plain English:
    Weer'd Audio Fisk:
    General Purpose Egghead:

    Saturday, June 30, 2018

    New Operation Blazing Sword Tee

    The Operation Blazing Sword Twitter account doesn't use the flaming sword and rainbow emblem. Instead, it uses this:
    This is because we wanted something instantly distinctive in the short attention span world of Twitter where our other logo could be dismissed as belonging to some military organization. And that's a fair comparison, because our logo is in fact derived from a 1940s U.S Army patch.

    I've been concentrating on using our main logo so much that I forgot we had a different one on Twitter. It wasn't until I sent out an email advertising our ONE AIM seminar in Orlando that I received a message that said
    Hi Erin, I ordered a tee shirt with the sword logo but would really love to order swag with the "OpBlzSwrdTwitterLogo" on it.  Any chance my wish will come true?
    Wish granted, friend! I didn't think anyone cared about that logo. But you do! And it costs me nothing to upload it to the OBS TeePublic Storefront, so now you can purchase tee shirts (and hoodies, and mugs, and stickers, and all sorts of other cool stuff) with this logo!


    As some wag pointed out to me on Facebook,  "Your t-shirt is Neil Patrick Harris in reverse?"



    Well... yeah. Guns: they're not just for straights anymore!

    Thursday, June 28, 2018

    Pellatarrum: My Humans Are (Kinda) Different

    I actually didn't plan on doing this one. I know that I've owed you elves for years now, but this is actually an outgrowth of me thinking about elves.

    It's interesting that throughout D&D and later Pathfinder, humanity is the only playable race that has children with other races. Sure, there are half-dragons, and the obligatory half-angels and half-devils, but there are no (for example) elf-dwarf hybrids. Why is that?

    And that's how this post came about.


    Why do half-elves exist?
    In Pellatarrum, the reason humans can interbreed with so many races is because the dwarves built them to be highly adaptable. They were, after all, meant to be ambassadors to the elves, who are best described as "fey". Or, in other words, "Powerful, possessed of violent whimsy, and terrifyingly random." The ability to adapt to such an harsh environment was a deliberately engineered survival trait. This explains a lot about humans: why they live all over the place, why they easily form bonds with other races, and yes, why they can interbreed with non-humans.

    Inter-fertility with elves is generally believed (though it's never been stated outright) to have been another design choice.  It's often said that the worst thing the dwarves ever did to the elves was to introduce them to humans. Prior to that, the elves didn't think anyone could ever be as beautiful as they were; all other races were hideous. But humans, by virtue of being both highly adaptable and made (somewhat) in the image of elves, were both similar enough to be beautiful and different enough to be exotic that many elves became distracted by them, if not enraptured with them.

    How is this represented mechanically?
    If you want to represent this, use the Heart of the Fey trait:
    Heart of the Fey: You gain low-light vision, gain a +1 racial bonus on Reflex and Will saves, and treat Knowledge (nature) and Perception as class skills. This racial trait replaces skilled
    However, not all Pellatarran humans still have this trait. Due to their adaptability, their children's traits can change according to their environment, and so any racial trait is available (and sometimes different traits express themselves through children of the same family).

    What about half-orcs?
    The existence of half-orcs and other human hybrids is generally explained as "Well, adaptability is broad like that. Not an intended consequence, mind you, but it's not a terrible thing for the peoples of the world to become more dwarven in nature."

    Why aren't there any half-dwarves?
    Again, design. While other elder races saw their creations as tools, cannon fodder, or slaves, the dwarves thought of them as members of their own clan, highly functional but tragically maimed by circumstance and purpose. Interbreeding with them would be too much like interbreeding with a beloved pet or working animal.

    Why are humans infertile with gnomes? 
    The general consensus is "thrice-damned random fey witchcraft interacting oddly with fine dwarven craftsmanship." This argument is somewhat bolstered by the odd manner in which gnome-halfling pairings resolve, where any children are always the same race as their same-gender parent.

    What about humans and halflings?
    This always results in more halflings, albeit larger than usual: 4 feet tall or more,  and weighing between 30 and 35 pounds. (For those keeping track of such things, this explains the "Tallfellow" branch of the halfling family tree.

    Is there anything in D&D/Pathfinder that a human won't have sex with?
    Honestly, probably not.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    I No Longer Fear the Walking Dead

    I watched the mid-season finale of Fear the Walking Dead last night and it felt like a series finale. This is unusual because mid-season finales are typically cliffhangers, but there was a feeling of finality to season 4's episode 8, with all of the current plot threads having been resolved and no lingering questions remaining. And I'm happy with that. I have closure, which means it's a good time to stop watching.



    No one lives happily ever after in the zombie apocalypse, and this season drove that home. It started with four members of the original surviving cast, and by episode 8 that number had been cut in half. I didn't want to see the remaining original character that I liked (Victor Strand) be killed or reduced to a shadow of his former greatness by meddling writers.

    It's interesting the way that FtWD differs from its parent series, The Walking Dead.  The biggest difference, of course, is that FtWD is completely its own creature and can follow its own course instead of having to follow in the footsteps of the comics, but there were others. For me, the most important difference is how the characters died: in TWD there was a pattern of "You know a major character will die soon because you're starting to hate them" -- or at least, this was true back when it was written well and they didn't kill popular characters just for shock value (Tyreese, Abraham, Glenn) -- but in FtWD the pattern was "Kill off a character as soon as they become too competent/acclimated to the world" (Travis, Ofelia, Nick, Madison).

    The deaths of Nick and Madison really bothered me. I was frankly shocked that Nick was killed because I considered him uniquely qualified to survive the zombie apocalypse. I even called him "the cockroach" because I felt that he and roaches could survive anything.

    Madison's death bothered me for a different reason: they'd been leading up to it all season, and instead of having a dramatic action sequence for the last quarter of the episode, they instead took an artistic path and focused almost entirely on her face and body. It was interesting, to be sure, but it wasn't very satisfying.

    The show has introduced more characters, of course. I don't care about most of them, and I actively despise both Charlie and LauraNaomiJune. About the only new character I like is John Dorie, and he's such a nice guy that I know he's going to die horribly, probably at the hands of one of the women.

    No, I don't care about Morgan, the TWD crossover character. I find him simultaneously preachy and hypocritical ("All life is precious"... until he loses his temper, that is). I do, however, find it indicative of the current state of TWD's morality that the one person with an ethical code chose to leave rather than stick around. But that's what happens when the writers murder the show's conscience for sake of drama.

    Speaking of TWD, I stopped watching it last year because it was an abusive relationship. No, really; the writers manipulated me and fucked with me. First they left me hanging for seven months, wondering who Negan would kill; then they shocked us all with "The person everyone thought was going to die survived... haha, faked you out, we killed him too!" About half of the season was useless padding (who can forget the thrilling Sasha and Rosita Go For a Walk?) and the other half was the characters figuratively eating shit, never giving them a victory and forcing them to be humiliated to survive. Finally, at the big season ender -- after half a season of "We're going to war!" -- not a single villain of importance dies. Not the big bad, not even one of his lieutenants. Nope, even then, the audience was denied emotional satisfaction.

    So I stopped watching, and I'm glad I did. From what I hear of this past season, I made the right choice. They killed off Carl, and the actor who plays Rick is going to leave at the end of next season. I don't know what that means for the fate of the show, since the writers have said that Rick is the hero of the story. Maybe they'll make Daryl and Michonne the heroes. I don't know, and I no longer care. The writers made it plain they didn't respect me, that they enjoyed manipulating me, and would continue to jerk me around. Once I realized that, I was free of them.

    I left The Walking Dead with anger that turned to contempt. With Fear the Walking Dead, I have an entirely different feeling: satisfaction. The story has reached a natural end and I don't need to see more. I'm fine.

    I have closure.

    Monday, June 25, 2018

    ACP Episode 012: Savagely Mistaken


    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer'd reveal a Patreon Loyalty Bonus on the C-5 9mm AR lower give-away.
    • Erin plugs the ONE AIM community Seminar in Maitland, Florida.
    • Our main topic is the armed citizen stopping a carjacker at the Walmart in Tumwater, Washington.
    • Weer'd Fisks Part 2 of an anti-gun rant by Dan Savage of The Savage Lovecast.
    • Egghead tells us about VHF and UHF  ham radio, and what you need to get started transmitting.
    • David gives us an overview of the convoluted and infuriating web of gun laws in the the State of New York.
    • and Steve gives us a gear list for aspiring private investigators.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Weer'd Audio Fisk:
    General Purpose Egghead:

    Basic
    Deluxe

    Friday, June 22, 2018

    How to Donate to Operation Blazing Sword



    I have lost track of how many times someone has said "I want to donate to you, but I don't know how" or "You sell t-shirts? I had no idea!" To that end I have created a note on the OBS Facebook page, aptly titled How You Can Support Us, which details all the ways that you help us achieve our mission of teaching gun safety and operation to those who want to learn but aren't comfortable seeking conventional training.

    The fact of the matter is that Operation Blazing Sword needs money to continue. We don't have a rich New York billionaire backing us, nor do we receiving funding from firearm manufacturers or the NRA. We get by with donations from people like you.

    If every one of our 1,500+ volunteers across the USA donated $10 -- roughly the cost of a movie ticket -- then we would have FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Can you imagine what we could do with that kind of money?

    I can. And that's why I'm asking you to please donate to Operation Blazing Sword.

    HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT US
    • SHOP VIA OUR AMAZON LINK: We are a registered charity with Amazon Smile. It costs you absolutely nothing to use our link, and we receive a percentage of your purchases as a donation. Here’s the full URL if you want to copy and paste it into a bookmark: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/81-4230880
    • SELL FOR CHARITY ON eBAY: If you’re a seller on eBay, you can help raise money by selecting a percentage of your proceeds to go to us. Here is our eBay For Charity page
    • SUPPORT US ON HUMBLE BUNDLE: If you buy from Humble Bundle, please select us as the charity you support. Here’s a link to a great cybersecurity deal!
    • BUY OUR MERCHANDISE: We have an online store where you can buy Operation Blazing Sword branded t-shirts, stickers, mugs, and more!
    • DONATE ONLINE: We are a PayPal confirmed charity. Donate online here.
    • MAIL A CHECK: Make it out to Operation Blazing Sword and mail it to 800 Belle Terre Parkway Suite 200-302, Palm Coast, FL 32164.
    • EMPLOYER DONATION MATCHING: Many employers will match their employees’ charitable donations via paycheck deductions. Operation Blazing Sword is registered with both Benevity and GuideStar. If your company uses a different organization to distribute charitable giving, let us know and we will register with them!
    • TEACH SOMEONE HOW TO SHOOT: We are a 501c3 tax-deductible charity (our EIN is 81-4230880) and any expenses you incur (range fees, equipment rental, cost of ammunition, etc) teaching someone who has contacted you through our organization are considered a donation. Per Treas Reg 1.170A-13(f): 
      • Generally, if a donor makes multiple contributions during the year, each of which is less than $250, no substantiation form is necessary. Nevertheless, the donor must observe the minimum recordkeeping requirements, such as retaining canceled checks or simple contributions. 
      • Donors who incur out-of-pocket expenses of $250 or more when rendering services to a charitable organization and intend to deduct these expenses must also obtain written acknowledgement from the organization. The acknowledgment for expenses incurred need only describe the services provided by the donor and the value of good services provided in return (or a statement that none were provided); it need not include the date of the services. 
      • To obtain written acknowledgement from us, scan or photograph your receipts and email them to erin@blazingsword.org.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    My Appearance on the Out of Order podcast

    I was a guest on James Kaleda's Out of Order podcast yesterday. In addition to talking about Operation Blazing Sword, coming out of the gun closet, and the genie bottle that is state's rights, I was also asked some questions I've never been asked before, like "How can straight people encourage queer people to shoot?" and "What books do you recommend?"

    I like it when people ask me new questions, because it feels like I've told the origin of OBS so many times that it's become boring.

    Have a listen!

    Monday, June 18, 2018

    ACP Episode 011: Feel the Love


    In This Episode:
    • Erin and Weer'd talk about our friends on Patreon and how much we love them, and the giveaway we're holding for a C-5 9mm AR lower from New Frontier Armory.
    • Our main topic is the revelation that Florida may -- or may not -- have been conducting background checks on their Concealed Weapons Permit applicants.
    • The Egghead tells us all about the benefits of a Ham Radio license and how to get one.
    • Savage1R detours from cryptocurrency to talk about his new AR-15 project, the DB5000.
    • Weer'd fisks part 1 of an anti-gun rant by sex advice podcaster Dan Savage (no relation).
    • David talks about butting heads with very anti-gun people in New York from High School through last year.
    • and Steve talks about some hazards on the job of being a PI, and how things can go from calm to crazy really fast.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    • Thundershirt for dogs
    • Rock Rose flower essence
    • Stripped C-5 Lower
    • Florida Report on NICS Incident
    • Florida NICS Background Checks Reports. Some stuff is not making sense  
    • Tampa Bay Times & Fake News: Background Check were performed after all
    Savage Segment:
    Weer’d Audio Fisk:

    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    I Have Begun Writing Fiction Again

    It's been years since I had both the urge to write fiction and an idea for a story, but I currently have both so I've started again.

    It's a short story about a young woman named Bronislava Artemievna Vinogradova and her heirloom Mosin-Nagant named Grandmother Rifle.

    It's basically a love letter to the M91/30 set in an urban fantasy setting.

    If you're a Patron of mine, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

    If you aren't a Patron.. why aren't you?  Go here and sign up today!

    Image found on Pinterest. I don't know who originally made it or where it's from. 

    Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    Pulse: Two Years Later

    Words of hope and unity from my friend Courtney Ballard. He's been an immense help to me since the very first moments of Operation Blazing Sword. Not only was he one of the first people to volunteer, he also set up our Facebook page when I was overwhelmed with everything else.

    Thank you, Courtney!


    Monday, June 11, 2018

    ACP Episode 010: Promotion & Proliferation


    In This Episode
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss getting the word out:
      • ... about the podcast.  We'd like to have our listeners sharing ACP with others so that more people can enjoy the show.
      • ... about Operation Blazing Sword, available swag, and the upcoming active shooter event. (Erin please flesh out the details of the event a little better for me)
      • ... about your local Second Amendment groups who do the lion's share of work for improving our rights. Join your local group, and get others to join as well!
    • One of our new contributors, Egghead, gives a primer on amateur (ham) radio.
    • Weer'd fisks a video of Robert Reich laughably called "5 Points to Counter the NRA"
    • David, our other new contributor, talks about being pro-gun in a massively anti-gun state in "Gun Lovers and Other Strangers".
    • and Steve talks about crime and gun laws in the city of Detroit, and then about volunteering for Rick Ector's group Legally Armed In Detroit where he helped instruct 700 women on the safe operation of pistols. 

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes

    Main Topic:
    Weer'd Audio Fisk:
    Tales From the Trunk:

    Saturday, June 9, 2018

    ONE AIM Community Seminar

    Operation Blazing Sword is proud to present our first Community Safety Seminar!

    ONE AIM is a 90-minute presentation on active shooter survival techniques, presented by experts in this field, including Orlando first responders. The discussion will include considerations as a legally armed civilian caught up in the midst of an active shooter situation.


    Admission is FREE, but seating is limited and attendees must RSVP via this link: http://mindgame-productions.com/event/one-aim-seminar/

    Special thanks to Brownells, Inc. for sponsoring this event!

    ONE AIM Community Safety Seminar
    Saturday, July 14, 2018
    1 pm – 3 pm
    Roth Family Jewish Community Center
    851 N. Maitland Avenue
    Maitland, FL 32751


    Wednesday, June 6, 2018

    Well-Meaning Diminishment

    Pardon me, I need to get something off my chest. I apologize if I come across as scolding, but this is something which has been bothering me for months:
    I know that people mean well when they look at my face and tell me that it's not a big deal, that it's only a little scar. I know that they are trying to tell me "It's hardly noticeable, don't freak out about it."
    But what I hear is "You're really overreacting about this. Stop being such a damn baby. It's only a little scar."
    And that drives me absofuckinglutely bugnuts because it diminishes what I went through, because while everyone else sees a scar that is healing nicely, what I see is a reminder that I was betrayed and assaulted by a pet that I loved and I thought I could trust, and that assault disfigured me. And I have to look at it EVERY. GODDAMN. DAY.

    Imagine the worst thing that's happened to you. Now imagine being reminded of it every time you look in the mirror. Now, imagine someone telling you that your daily reminder of your worst moment is just a little thing, it's nothing to worry about, hardly noticeable. How would that make you feel?

    Even though I know they mean well, it makes me feel like they are diminishing what I went through. "Oh, it's just a little mauling. You'll be fine."

    So please, I beg you: please don't tell me my scar is so little, so minor, so hardly noticeable. Instead, please say something like "It's healing nicely." Which is true, because it is and I am. 

    Nice and slow. 

    Monday, June 4, 2018

    ACP Episode 009: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt


    In this week's podcast:
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss FOSTA-SESTA and the implications it has for free speech on the internet, the safety of people in real life, and why it's relevant to the Second Amendment.
    • Savage discusses Initial Coin Offerings and the laws and pitfalls associated with them.
    • Connie talks about Memorial Day in Washington DC and answers some political questions that Erin and Weer'd asked.
    • Weer'd Gives us part two of his fisk of the Brady Campaign's "Gun Violence 101" video.
    • and Steve gives us his reflections on how Hollywood portrays private investigators and why they're wrong. 

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes:

    Saturday, June 2, 2018

    An Exegesis of "Tourniquet"

    Evanescence's Tourniquet is a crucifixional experience in musical form.

    By this I mean "When Jesus Christ was dying on the cross, He was in agony, was probably regretting all of His choices, and called out to God asking why He had been forsaken, and this song captures all of that emotional intensity in an incredibly personal way."

    [Intro]
    The song starts with roughly 20 seconds of instrumental music that sounds like a wind through a foggy forest, and then suddenly there is a blast of guitar and percussion. I cannot help but feel this represents someone whose mind is drifting off, and then is suddenly, shockingly awake. Given what is said in the first verse, it's a pretty good musical metaphor for blood loss followed by panicked wakefulness.

    [Verse 1]
    I tried to kill the pain
    But only brought more
    (So much more)
    I lay dying
    And I'm pouring crimson regret and betrayal
    I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
    Am I too lost to be saved?
    Am I too lost?

    This paints an incredibly evocative picture of a woman who has committed suicide by slashing her wrists and, as she lies dying, has a change of heart. She now wants to live, but is too weak to take action to save herself. Her only option is to pray to God and ask to be saved.


    [Chorus]
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation

    The phrase "My God, my tourniquet" is what convinces me that this is not a song about someone who has died but rather a song about someone who is dying and now desperately wants to live. "God, please staunch my bleeding" is how I read it. "God, please be my tourniquet. God, please save my life. I'm sorry I tried to kill myself. I no longer want to die. I want to live!"


    [Verse 2]
    Do you remember me?
    Lost for so long
    Will you be on the other side
    Or will you forget me?
    I'm dying, praying, bleeding and screaming
    Am I too lost to be saved?
    Am I too lost?

    I too have struggled with feelings of divine rejection and a desire for death, and so this verse hits very close to home for me. "God, I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms lately. I don't know if I rejected you first or not, but I haven't felt your love in a very long time. Do you even care if I die? If I do, will you damn me to hell for suicide? Or will you know that I've been in a lot of pain and in a very dark place for such a long time, and that this seemed like the only way out for me?"

    The phrase "Am I too lost to be saved?" is a plaintive cry for both physical and spiritual salvation.


    [Chorus]
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation

    {Screams: I WANT TO DIE!!!}

    What's odd is that every time I listen to this song, I hear "DON'T WANT TO DIE!" instead, and it's gut-wrenchingly heartfelt. But even if you take it at face value it still doesn't damage my interpretation of the song, because there is always that self-destructive voice at the back of our heads who always wants to ruin things, who wonders what it would be like to destroy something irreplaceable or damage a friendship irrevocably.

    Or maybe that's just my head? I sure hope not.


    [Chorus]
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation
    My God, my tourniquet
    Return to me salvation

    [Verse 3]
    My wounds cry for the grave
    My soul cries for deliverance
    Will I be denied?
    Christ
    Tourniquet
    My suicide

    "I know I'm dying, lord. My body is done for. But I'm still hurting inside. I was taught that you're a God of love. Please love me despite all this. I just want to be loved!"

    And there is SO much meaning packed into the last four lines of the verse.
    Meaning 1: "Will I be denied salvation? I'm dying, Jesus! Save me please!"
    Meaning 2: "Will my pain be ignored once again? Or will Christ finally show me the love I crave by being the tourniquet that halts my suicide?"
    Meaning 3: "Will I be denied Christ? Will I be denied a tourniquet? Will I be denied suicide? What will happen to me? I'm scared!"
    The fact that it can mean all of these things at once and not distort the message of the song is very powerful to me.


    [Outro]
    The last minute of the song is a different instrumental piece, this time strings playing a somber passage that reminds me of a funeral mass. Obviously the singer has died.. but what of her soul? The music is not particularly bright nor dark, and so we must draw our own conclusions.

    I favor the interpretation that, whatever your feelings are about suicide being a mortal sin, the fact that the singer displayed genuine remorse and repentance is sufficient to earn her forgiveness, salvation, and the peace and love she has been craving.


    In short: the entire piece is a powerful musical rendition of "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani", made all the more gun-wrenching because I've been where the singer is and I can identify with her pain and loss and need.

    Friday, June 1, 2018

    It has been a hell of a week, hasn't it?

    Hi, folks.

    When Erin wrote last week about how rough she'd been feeling lately, it really resonated with me. I hadn't realized it at the time, but writing has become a bit of a chore for me  as well.

    I began working outside of my home late last year, which I hadn't done for nearly a decade prior. While I was working at home, when an idea came to me I could stop what I was doing and bang something out, or at least take down some notes, because the computer was right there in front of me and I was good enough at my job that I could take 20 minutes to write something without missing a beat in my day job. Now I've got to get up earlier, drive across town, be stuck somewhere for 9 hours, then drive back across town and wind down from work, and by that point it's difficult to get the old fingers moving.

    Not only that, but working from home took its toll on me in other ways. My immune system is pretty worthless considering that I wasn't around sick people for so long, so I've had two or three sinus infections and a few upset stomachs from things going around. Like now. I have both, and I'm still working.

    The job is good, though. I'm treated well, paid well, and have a level of work satisfaction I wasn't previously aware of, so there's that. But my personal time has become more valuable to me because there's now less of it, and being that I'm forced to be "on" for a full third of the day, pretending like socializing is easy and fun and not just something I'm good at but hate to do, that takes a toll as well.

    I was feeling this before I started A Still Point In Time, which I openly admit is a silly bit of fan-fiction, but I've only got one chapter left, and I completely intend on turning it in soon. Expect a special guest star or two, as well as a relevant twist ending (a post-credits sequence if you will, given the subject matter). But I do feel like I owe Erin, and all of you, an apology for missing schedule here and there.

    Also, she did say I'm not allowed to write anything else until Still Point is done, so I'll preemptively rap my knuckles with a ruler, if I can find one.


    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    Tatonka Cartridge Company's "American Shooter Collection"

    Last year, I met with a group of young people from the UK to talk about guns. One of the things I did was to create a visual aid for them so that they could, among other things, see that the round from an AR-15 was substantially smaller than a typical hunting round.

    Unfortunately, it wasn't a very nice visual aid, as it consisted of ammunition from my personal collection scotch-taped to the lid of a shoe box. It worked, but it was rather half-assed and didn't survive the trip home.


    It also consisted of live rounds, since I didn't own any dummy rounds. This wasn't a big concern to me since the sample guns I brought were rendered unable to fire, but in a general sense it would be good to have inert rounds for display purposes. 

    Top: 9mm, .38, .357, .40, .45 ACP, .223, 6.8 Spc, 7.62x39, .44, .45 Long Colt, .454, .500
    Bottom Row: 22-250, .243, .270, 7mm, .30-30, .308, .30-06, .300, .45-70, 12 gauge
    http://www.mcssl.com/store/tatonkacartridgecompany/gun-cartridges/s-american-shooter
    Enter the American Shooter display by the Tatonka Cartridge Company which I discovered at the NRA meeting in Dallas. I immediately placed an order for it to take advantage of convention pricing (less than retail price, plus free shipping!) but it was still so expensive that I needed to spend Operation Blazing Sword funds to pay for it. 

    Despite the cost, though, I feel it was a good purchase for educational purposes. 
    • All of the cartridges are inert and the primers have been spent. 
    • It has far more cartridge types than I own, all clearly labeled.
    • The cartridges are under glass which prevents loss. 
    • It looks so much nicer than what I made. 
    • When I'm not using it to teach, it's a beautiful display. 
    My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that this display needs a .22LR cartridge. The "American Shooter" emblem could have been moved up and the .22 mounted underneath it. Still, this is a very minor objection for what is otherwise a very nice visual aid.

    If you're looking for professional visual aid for teaching, or if you just want some attractive firearm-themed decorations in your home, I suggest you see if the Tatonka Cartridge Company has what you need. 

    Monday, May 28, 2018

    ACP Episode 008: Poor Optics


    In this week's podcast:
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss the optics of Oliver North as the new NRA President.
    • Savage discusses ways to get your cryptocurrencies to start making money for you.
    • In Washington in Plain English, Connie explains the implications of the revelation that the FBI was indeed spying on the Trump Campaign.
    • Weer'd fisks part one of the Brady Campaign video "Gun Violence 101"
    • And in Tales from the Trunk, Steven talks about how one deals with the basic biological necessities when stuck in your car on surveillance.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    Show Notes:

    Friday, May 25, 2018

    It's Been a Week

    Yeah. I haven't been writing lately, and I'm sorry about that.

    I've been looking at the blank page of this blog for... I don't know how long. And in that time, I've come to an uncomfortable conclusion: somewhere along the way, writing stopped being fun and fulfilling and felt more like a chore. A job that I don't want to do and am looking for an excuse to avoid doing.

    (The irony that I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with writing does not escape me).

    I seem to lack the passion and joy that writing used to bring and now it's just a job. Unless I'm really fired up about something and need to get that fire out of my skull, I'm kinda 'meh' about the whole prospect.

    Yet at the same time, I have this deep and abiding regret over the stories that I want to write, but likely never will, because I can't seem to find the focus or the discipline to write them. So am I truly tired of writing? Or am I just tired of struggling?

    I don't know. It's been a rollercoaster of a week, and maybe I'm just worn out. I went from high stress levels, to completely losing my shit and looking like a raging cuntbitch in front of my friends, to the stress becoming so high that the frequency of its oscillation wasn't a discernible series of ups and downs but rather a constant hum. In other words, this picture:


    I'm getting better, but I'm still fighting the associated mental numbness and desire to do nothing except let my mind go blank in front of the television.

    Anyway, I'm okay-ish and seem to be on the upswing. I have chocolate, and I have rum, and I'm going to see Deadpool 2 this weekend, so that ought to help. And I've written this blog post so I can reasonably say I've accomplished something this week.

    See ya on the flip side.

    Monday, May 21, 2018

    ACP Episode 007: James Bond


    In this week's podcast:
    • There is an obligatory James Bond reference.
    • Erin and Weer'd discuss their return from the NRA Annual Meeting,  the aftermath of the protests there,  and flying with firearms.
    • Savage discusses how to manage your Cryptocurrency and some of the hazards you must beware.
    • Weer'd Fisks a video that claims that the founding fathers actually supported gun control.
    • Steven talks about a few tactics that Private private investigators can use to crack a cold case. One is rather glamorous, the other... not so much.

    Listen to the episode here.

    Show Notes:
    Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

    The Fine Print


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

    Creative Commons License


    Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.