Sunday, December 30, 2018

The GameStop Misgendering & Retail Customer Service Advice

People have been asking me for my thoughts on the GameStop misgendering. The executive summary is "I understand why she was upset, but losing her cool like that actually makes her look more masculine. She hurts her own interests and those of the community." After all, I can't think of a single situation where threatening to take someone outside and beat them like a man would beat them is somehow feminine in behavior.

Longer version with explanation:

I've been misgendered many times, and it hurts each time. It made me feel insulted and belittled, because in my opinion I had taken great pains to present as a woman, and I figured that if I was dressed like a woman and had hair and makeup and jewelry like a woman and smelled like a woman and acted like a woman and (hopefully) sounded like a woman, then all those things would be huge clues to the average person that, regardless of how I was born or what I had between my legs,  I wanted to be treated as a woman.

However, there is a vast gulf of difference between accidental and deliberate misgendering. Most people who misgender do it accidentally, and how I react to that can affect how they view and treat other transgender people in the future. It starts by making a few acknowledgements:
  • I acknowledge that people are primarily visual creatures and that the eyes go straight to the brain. That means if people look at me and see "man" and call me "sir" that it's probably an accident. The same goes for the ears; I'm about 50-50 on people calling me "ma'am" or "sir" on the telephone. 
  • I acknowledge that most people don't mean to insult me, and that any misgendering is accidental, either due to the aforementioned visual/vocal cues or perhaps they've never met a transgender person before. 
  • I acknowledge that biting someone's head off over an innocent mistake is a good way to ruin things for everyone. 
So in the instances when I've been misgendered, my response is always to smile politely and say "Miss/She/Her, if you please". 

90% percent of the time, that solves the issue. Most people will blush or fluster or be embarrassed and say something like "Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do that/I didn't know." And this is enough to make me happy, because they have apologized for hurting my feelings and have corrected their behavior, and I can't ask for more than that. 

About 5% of the time, the person will either be so mortified that they can't say anything, or is so socially clueless that they don't realize how what they've said is inappropriate. Those people are best left alone, because in the case of the former they're already punishing themselves so there's no need to make it worse, and in the latter you'll have better luck explaining the situation to a stone. In either case, I save my energy for more important things. 

Then there's the remaining 5%, the people who will go out of their way to be insulting to transgender people because it stokes their sense of righteousness. Depending on my mood, I will sometimes fight with them ; not in the hopes of convincing them they're wrong, but rather to draw them out so that others can see just how spiteful and toxic they can be. I give them a nice long rope that they obligingly put around their necks, and once they've said things they cannot walk back from, I block them on social media / walk away in real life because they aren't worth my time. The rest of the time, I just walk away. 

Unfortunately, the GameStop transwoman does everything badly. She not only acts aggressively (therefore reinforcing the perception of her as masculine) but she also makes all transgender people look unstable and prone to outbursts of profanity and vandalism. 

What she should have done was demanded to see the manager before any of this happened. She was clearly already upset with the level of customer service she was receiving -- if she weren't, people wouldn't have recorded it -- and so when someone offscreen misgenders her she reacts angrily. Getting mad at a minimum wage clerk solves nothing; instead, ask for a manager who has the ability and authority to solve your problem. If the clerk had misgendered her before the recording happened, she could have brought that to the attention of his boss instead of making a scene. 

I worked in retail for many years in my 20s. I worked retail on Black Friday. While my experience is not the same as everyone else's, I've met my share of irate customers who decided to take it out on me, and this is what I can tell you:
  • If I'm not the manager, an upset customer isn't my problem. I literally didn't get paid enough to deal with those people. My stock reply was "I'm sorry I'm unable to help you. Would you like me to get the manager?"
  • In nearly every single case, the manager later told me something like "Don't sweat it, that person was an asshole" or "There's no way you could have solved that problem." In other words, a customer blowing their stack literally had no effect on my job, and most of the time we laughed at them after they'd left. 
  • In the rare cases where I did get a reprimand, it wasn't because the customer was upset at me; it was because I'd failed to do my job properly. Yes, sometimes the customer was mad because I'd screwed up, but I never got in trouble for that. I only got in trouble for not doing my job to the best of my ability. 
In other words, if you want to put the fear of God into an employee, you don't yell at them; you ask to see their boss. 

On the other hand, good behavior from an employee should be praised, and when I receive exemplary service I ask for the manager so I can praise that employee. You might think it's a waste of time, but my experience tells me otherwise: nothing brightens a manager's day quite like being told that one of their employees did a fine job and made a customer extra happy, and a manager who is aware of an employee's fine performance is more likely to reward that employee with a raise or other benefits, and a rewarded employee is happy and continues to give great customer service. It's a virtuous cycle. 

I will close by relating to you my experience at the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. I was checking in at the media room in order to acquire my media credentials for the convention, something that I had done before. However, unlike all the other times before and since, this time the lady checking me in asked for photo identification. 

This presented a dilemma to me, as this convention was also the very first time I attended in full female form, and I had not changed my legal name or gender marker and therefore my ID still had a picture of me looking very male with a male name. 

I had several ways to handle this situation. I could have made a scene; I could have stormed out; I could have broken down and cried. Instead, I went with polite honesty: "Well, I can give you my ID, but it won't do you much good because I'm transgender." I whispered that last word because I didn't want to announce my business to the world. 

The woman checking me in went pale and said "Oh my god, I am so sorry, I didn't mean anything by that." She acted as if she'd insulted me directly, and was either aghast at causing offense or worried I would cause a scene.

I smiled and said "It's all right. Now, please tell me how we can best handle this?" She went and got her supervisor, who as turns out knew who I was and told her to issue me my credentials without needing to see my ID.  The entire times she acted embarrassed, and I told her it was fine, that I wasn't insulted. 

And then, once the rush was over, I sought out her supervisor and praised her for how she handled it. After all, she could have refused me entry because my ID didn't match; she could have made a scene; she could have called security to have me removed from the press room. But she didn't, and instead worked to resolve the problem without making me, the customer, uncomfortable. Her supervisor was happy, and she was happy, and I was happy because I knew that the next time this woman meets another transgender person, she'll know what to do. I made her life, and the life of that transgender person, that much easier. 

That's how you handle being misgendered. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

SHTFriday: New Posts at Blue Collar Prepping

I know there was a months-long period where I wasn't writing anything for Blue Collar Prepping, but I hope to write more there (and do more writing in general) in the coming new year.

For now, though, you'll have to content yourselves with two recent articles of mine: one about foot wraps (called Portyanki in Russian) written last month, and one about how to build a self-feeding fire that I wrote today.


Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Sometimes, the kindest gift of all is the gift of time and attention.

Thank you for your lovely Christmas Presence.

Merry Christmas & a Happy Hearth's Warming!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

Deck the Halls exhorts me to don my Gay Apparel. Okay, but is Gay Apparel light, medium, or heavy armor? I need to know this so I know how many turns it will take me to don (or hastily don) it!

Of course, given that people wearing said Gay Apparel are singers, that means they're probably bards, and bards only wear light armor because that doesn't interfere with their spellcasting.

And there's probably a benefit to singing while wearing Gay Apparel, because otherwise the carolers wouldn't be doing it as a group.

You know where this is going, right?

Gay Apparel
Light Armor
  • Aura: Faint illusion
  • Caster Level: 4th
  • Cost: 1,151 gp
Gay Apparel is a masterwork reinforced tunic of red, green and white, usually decorated with bells and festive designs of snowflakes, candy canes and reindeer. Because it is essentially a shirt, Gay Apparel can be donned (or removed) as a Move Action (there is no “don hastily” option for Gay Apparel).

When worn by anyone possessing bardic performance, Gay Apparel grants the Lingering Performance feat. When worn by anyone with at least one rank in Perform: Sing, it grants the use of the Basic Harmony teamwork feat even if they lack the prerequisites.

Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Basic Harmony, Lingering Performance, Auditory Hallucination.

Gay Apparel, Lesser
Light Armor
  • Aura: Faint illusion
  • Caster Level: 1st
  • Cost: 651 gp
As above, only without granting the Lingering Performance feat.
Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Basic Harmony, Auditory Hallucination.

Gay Apparel, Greater
Light Armor
  • Aura: Moderate illusion
  • Caster Level: 7th
  • Cost: 16,151 gp
As above, except that Gay Apparel, Greater has the Harmonizing special ability.
Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Basic Harmony,  Lingering Performance, Auditory Hallucination, Major Image.

Don your bard-assisting tunic!

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

It's very quick, no need to panic!

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

It doesn't take a Standard Action!

Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la!

Just a Move, so get to crackin'!

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Apologies for my Absence

I know I haven't been posting much lately. Part of that has been due to increased familial demands on my time / general holiday craziness -- there's a reason why I typically take a break from blogging in late December -- but part of it has been health-related.

I don't know when it started, but at some point I didn't have as much energy as I used to. Not only was I lethargic, but my brain felt sleepy; I couldn't think as quickly as I used to and my creativity steeply declined. All I wanted to was just chill out and quietly read or play on the computer instead of writing or working on Operation Blazing Sword / Pink Pistols.

At first, I thought it was just seasonal depression brought on by the anniversary of the dog attack and the usual holiday blahs, being compounded by all the awful political infighting and name-calling that's happening across social media.

Then at some point I had a realization: I had gone through this exact scenario before and I'd fixed it with a daily iron supplement. And, oh yeah, I'd stopped taking daily iron because the doctor I'd seen after the dog attack told me I didn't need it and should go off of it. And just like before, I've been craving meat (usually red meat) and having trouble thinking clearly and expressing myself properly.

I find it a bit strange that it took about a year for me to begin suffering effects from whatever mild anemia I have, but whatever, my body is weird in general.

So I took an iron supplement the night I made the connection and the next morning, I wasn't exhausted all morning and half the afternoon. I actually felt well-rested. I had not one but two really neat ideas (one political, one geeky) that basically crept up and dope-slapped me upside the head.

I feel like MYSELF for the first time in literal months.

So yeah, to hell with that doctor. I'm back on iron (don't freak out, it's only 50mg a day, not a massive dose) and I'm feeling good again. The cobwebs have been cleared and I'm thinking once again.

I expect to begin posting actual good stuff soon.

(Please, no comments from the Cult of Cast Iron regarding how all I need to do is cook my food in cast iron pans. I need more than whatever piddly amount leeches into the food.)

Monday, December 17, 2018

ACP Episode 036: The Brain Worms

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d Talk about some recent political drama with a certain hosting site;
  • Oddball gives us some of his observations on Cold Steel Knives, as well as the company behind them;
  • Weer'd Fisks an interesting series from Viceland about guns called "Maybe I'm Wrong";
  • and David begins a series on concealed carry options, starting with belt carry.

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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic
Oddball's Corner Pocket
Weer'd Audio Fisk
Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

Monday, December 10, 2018

ACP Episode 035: Grumpy Old Podcasters

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d Talk about home defense and guns they want for Christmas;
  • They also discuss the story of a Harvard student who was asked to move out of her apartment by her landlord because of her legally owned guns;
  • Weer'd fisks Cory Booker as he talks gun control with Jordan Klepper;
  • Oddball talks about the different types of locking mechanisms folding knives have;
  • and Steve takes a day off to talk about what the future has in store for his Private Investigator business.

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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

Show Notes

Main Topic
    Weer’d Audio Fisk

        Saturday, December 8, 2018

        Happy Hanukkah, Everypony!

        Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends!

        Now I need to explain to my non-Jewish friends what is going on in this picture.

        During Hanukkah, children play a game with a dreidel (a four-sided spinning top, pronounced dray-del) for chocolate coins called gelt.  The rules of the game are as follows:
        • Each player begins with an equal amount of gelt, usually 5 or 10 pieces.
        • Each player puts one gelt into the center "pot" at the beginning of the game. 
        • Each player also puts one gelt into the pot at the end of every player's turn.
        • Each player spins the dreidel once during their turn. What happens next depends on which side lands face-up:
          • If נ‬ (nun) is facing up, the player does nothing. 
          • If ג‬ (gimel) is facing up, the player gets everything in the pot.
          • If ה‬ (hey) is facing up, the player gets half of the geltin the pot. If there are an odd number of gelt, they take the half the pot rounded up.
          • If ש‬ (shin) is facing up, the player adds one gelt to the pot.
        • When you run out of gelt, you're out of the game. 
        Yes, it's basically kids gambling for chocolate. This explains why Pinkie Pie (ostensibly an adult pony) is playing; she loves all things sugary. Apparently she keeps winning the pot (probably due to her Pinkie Sense) and Rarity is irritated that her little sister is getting "taken". 

        Don't worry, Sweetie Belle! I'm sure Pinkie will share when the game is done. 

        Now, for you adults who don't feel like gambling for chocolate, how about a drinking game instead? Here are the rules for Drinking Dreidel (also known as “Drink & Drei” or “Fatal Dreidel” if you’re playing with tequila), written by Molly Tolsky
        • If נ‎ (nun) is facing up, you do nothing. Sounds boring, but believe me, when the game gets rolling, you’ll be grateful for those precious nuns (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write on a Jewish website).
        • • If ש‎ (shin) is facing up, you take a drink. In regular dreidel, shin means put one in. In this case, you’re putting one in… to your mouth.
        • • If ה‎ (hey) is facing up, you choose somebody else to take a drink, specifically by saying, “Hey ___, take a drink.”
        • • If ג‎ (gimel) is facing up, everybody takes a drink! But first you all must shout, “GIMEL!!!” and clink glasses. Don’t skip over that step — it’s important for overall morale.
        Want to buy a dreidel? Amazon has them

        Monday, December 3, 2018

        ACP Episode 034: Stupid Laws

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d talk about the recent Massachusetts appellate court ruling that firearm license restrictions are constitutional;
        • Oddball gives us a primer on the various knife laws around the country;
        • Weer'd gives us part two of the Young Turks losing their mind over guns;
        • David discusses the basics of metallic cartridge reloading;
        • and Steve takes a break from doing paperwork at the local Tire Center to discuss tailing and pursuit techniques.

        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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

        Show Notes

        Main Topic
        Oddball’s Corner Pocket
        Weer’d Audio Fisk
        Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

        Friday, November 30, 2018

        Thank You! & a video

        A big THANK YOU to everyone who donated to my #GivingTuesday fundraiser! We didn't hit $2K, but we got within $232 of it!

        Last year I asked for $1,000 and got more than that (I don't recall how much... I think it was about $1300 or so). I figured I might as well shoot for the moon this year and ask for double that. Go big or go home, right?

        As far as I'm concerned, it was a success. We hit 88.5% of a goal that was twice as big as last year's. Amazing! Wonderful! Thank you so much!

        You can even help support us Operation Blazing Sword with online shopping and it won't even cost you a thing. Not only are we a registered charity with Amazon Smile, but OBS also has its own Amazon Affiliate link! That means if you use Amazon Smile and our link, you can donate to us twice while shopping online and without costing you anything!

        If you follow that link, you'll see it leads to what could be called an influencer page. I call it an "Operation Blazing Sword recommends these products". Not only are they quality, but they're a good starting point for the new shooter or concealed carrier!

        And so as a thank you for all your support, I give you this very fun video.

        Tuesday, November 27, 2018

        Giving Tuesday

        If you're at all active on social media, you are no doubt aware that today is #GivingTuesday. If you don't know that is, it's the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving and it's meant to be a day where you donate to your favorite charities.

        You know where this is going, right?

        Yes, I'm going to hit you for donations to Operation Blazing Sword!  We don't have corporate sponsors and we certainly aren't funded by a billionaire like Bloomberg; we make a difference by contributions from people like YOU.

        Last year I asked for $1000 and that amount was met. This #GivingTuesday I'm challenging you to beat the old record and raise $2000 for Operation Blazing Sword! Please help continue our mission in educating people in firearms safety and operation. Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps! And Facebook and PayPal will match a total of $7 Million in donations.

        Here's how to donate!
        1. Go to the Facebook Fundraiser page. For Giving Tuesday, all administrative fees are waived. 
        2. If you don't use Facebook, you can donate directly with PayPal at this link
        3. If you're old school, you can mail a check to 800 Belle Terre Parkway Suite 200-302, Palm Coast, FL 32164
        Also, if you're active on Twitter, please go to this tweet and retweet it using the words @OpBlazingSword  and #BeTheGood. We get $10 for every mention!

        Thank you so much, and have a wonderful holiday season!

        Monday, November 26, 2018

        ACP Episode 033: Culture War

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d talk about HR 7115, or what we call the "Ban Everything Bill";
        • Oddball talks about blade grinds and gives us a drinking game that will probably get you killed;
        • Weer'd brings us an audio fisk of the Young Turks complaining about a short-lived NRA program that retold classic fairy tales;
        • In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, David gives us some of the things he is thankful for;
        • and Steve recorded a segment while he was in the field pursuing a target, so we get enjoy a ride-along with the House Dick.

        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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

        Show Notes

        Main Topic
        Weer’d Audio Fisk

        Saturday, November 24, 2018

        Transgender Day of Remembrance 11/20/18

        This past Tuesday, November 20, was the Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I had good intentions of posting about it on the day, but something nasty came up that changed the tone of the whole piece and then I didn't want to ruin people's Thanksgiving holidays by bringing it up (or my own by dredging it up again).

        But I need to talk about this, so now that everyone's had a nice holiday with friends and family, it's time to talk about what happened.

        For those who don't know, the Transgender Day of Remembrance was created in 1999 to memorialize transgender people who have been killed due to transphobia. In the past year there have been over 30 transgender people murdered for no reason other than hatred and fear.

        This year, my friend Svengine Karinsdatter -- a transwoman and Second Amendment activist --  started compiling a list of stories and statements on "Why do you, a transman/transwoman, carry a gun?" Here's my story:
        I only felt comfortable coming out as transgender after I bought a pistol and received my concealed carry permit.

        Now let me clear: I am NOT saying that having a pistol gave me courage. A gun isn't a magical talisman that keeps its owner safe!

        Instead, having a concealed carry gun meant that I practiced with it and felt competent with it. Feeling confident in my ability to protect myself from those who wish violence upon me gave me agency in the face of oppression and another tool for my toolbox -- whereas my previous options were "Run away", "Never leave the house/Never be my authentic self" or "Be a victim", I had the new, bold option of "Be myself without worrying that people would try to hurt me for it."

        Having a gun gave me agency; having agency gave me the ability to become my authentic self; being my authentic self is what gives me confidence and courage. Because of that, I can be my authentic self without even needing a gun. (Although I still carry one, because I know evil exists in this world.)

        All well and good, right? Well, it was until these two things happened:

        Here we see the expected argument of "Transgender people are crazy and crazy people shouldn't have guns, so even though I say I'm pro-gun I'm all for denying people their Second Amendment rights without Due Process  if they make me feel icky."  What's distressing about it is that this person had previously Liked the Operation Blazing Sword page, which meant that they were okay with teaching homosexual people how to shoot but drew the line at teaching transgender people.

        This attitude, by the way, is a violation of all that Operation Blazing Sword represents. WE WILL TEACH ANYONE FIREARMS SAFETY AND OPERATION, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, political affiliation, or manner of dress. The Second Amendment is for EVERYONE.

        But as bad as that one was, this one was worse:

        Why is that one worse? It's because this person manages a Facbook page called "LGBT for Gun Rights".

        Yes. You read that correctly. Someone who manages a page which is supposed to be about the gun rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people spouted anti-transgender rhetoric on a post about the Transgender Day of Remembrance on the Operation Blazing Sword page. And yes, he had also Liked our page.


        The sad thing is, this isn't uncommon. Many gay and lesbian people think that Transgender people shouldn't be under the LGBTQ tent because as far as they're concerned, "Being transgender isn't a sexual orientation, it's a gender issue."

        For people who don't get it, that's the LGBT rainbow flag kicking the transgender flag under the bus. 
        I have said this before, and I know I'll say it a hundred more times before I die, but the queer community is its own worst enemy. If you still doubt that, look at this post and then ask yourself why it doesn't just say "Pride is for everyone" or even "Pride is for everyone, including allies."

        The fact that this even needs to be said is screaming proof that we hurt our cause more than any politician ever will. If we can't stop fighting amongst ourselves long enough to stand up against those who want to hurt us and oppress us, then our own internal conflicts will bring is down before outside pressures do.

        For those of you who aren't part of "the scene", let me give you a brief primer:
        • As mentioned earlier, Gay and Lesbian people think that Transgender people shouldn't be under the LGBTQ tent because "being transgender isn't a sexual orientation, it's a gender issue";
        • Yet Transgender people say that Gays and Lesbians have it easy because they don't stand out in everyday life, and besides it's socially acceptable to be homosexual these days, so if anything trans folks are more oppressed and deserve MORE representation;
        • Meanwhile, EVERYONE bags on Bisexual folks due to a combination of 
          1. unfounded fear that the Bi person will be unsatisfied with only one type of genital and cheat/wander/leave their significant others and 
          2. jealousy that a bi person can adopt a hetero-normative lifestyle and reap all the benefits without suffering any of the ill effects. 
        • Then there are the Aces (asexuals) and Aros (aromantics) who no one really knows what to do with because what kind of social oppression do they face? If they aren't being victimized for their sexuality then they don't "count" as "authentically queer."

        This is the big reason why I prefer the use of the word "queer" to "LGBTQ": one is an inclusive umbrella term that emphasizes our similarities, while the other reinforces the opinion that we're all so specifically different that we need our own letter or else we're being oppressed.

        We all belong here. We all deserve life and happiness. I long for the day that we no longer need to form into tribes to defend ourselves and terms like "transgender" and "homosexual" carry carry no prejudice and are used purely as descriptive terms like "blonde" and "brunette" are now.

        But that day is not today. Today, we mourn our dead, those who were murdered for daring to live as their authentic selves. Today, we remember them, and we do whatever we can to reduce next year's death toll.

        Monday, November 19, 2018

        ACP Episode 032: Rampant Political F***ery

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d talk about the aftermath of the midterm election, the Florida recounts, and the changing tide of anti-gun money and elections and their ironic views on NRA money;
        • David talks about concealed carry reciprocity and the "Full Faith and Credit" clause;
        • Oddball gives us part two of his series on sharpening in Oddball's Corner Pocket;
        • Weer'd fisks Now This News in their snarky little hit piece on SHOT Show and the "Online Loophole";
        • and Steve, having already told us about his positive experiences dealing with law enforcement as a private investigator, now tells us about some of his negative experiences with them in Tales from the Trunk.

        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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

        Show Notes

        Main Topic
        Gun Lovers and Other Strangers
        Oddball’s Corner Pocket:
        Weer’d Audio Fisk

        Wednesday, November 14, 2018

        Three-Line Rifle: Background on Russian Monster Control

        If you've read my latest installment of Three-Line Rifle, you no doubt noticed that Grisha talked about an old KGB unit called the 13th Division. I didn't go into great detail about what it was or how it worked because it would have interrupted the flow of the story, but I can certainly talk about it in this blog post.

        Not Bronia. But possibly her mother?
        Model: Red McCord. Photo: Oleg Volk

        Back in the Soviet era, the KGB was organized into Chief Directorates. There were at least 16 of them at one point, but I don't have all their names. Here are the first nine:
        1. First Chief Directorate (Foreign Operations) – foreign espionage.
        2. Second Chief Directorate – counter-intelligence, internal political control.
        3. Third Chief Directorate (Armed Forces) – military counter-intelligence and armed forces political surveillance.
        4. Fourth Directorate (Transportation security)
        5. Fifth Chief Directorate – censorship and internal security against artistic, political, and religious dissension.
        6. Sixth Directorate (Economic Counter-intelligence, industrial security)
        7. Seventh Directorate (Surveillance) – of Soviet nationals and foreigners.
        8. Eighth Chief Directorate – monitored/managed national, foreign, and overseas communications, cryptologic equipment, and research and development.
        9. Ninth Directorate (Guards and KGB Protection Service) – uniformed bodyguard for Party leaders and families, guarded critical government installations (nuclear weapons, etc.), operated the Moscow VIP subway, and secure Government–Party telephony. 
        Given that I'm looking for a Russian version of the Monster Control Bureau from Larry Corriea's Monster Hunter International series (I did mention that Three-Line Rifle is glorified fanfic, yeah?), the Fifth Chief Directorate's censorship of religion and cracking down on dissidents is the perfect spot to place a Soviet MCB. 

        The 15th Division (sometimes translated as "direction") of the 5th Directorate was tasked with “identifying and stopping manifestations that tend to develop into politically harmful groupings that encourage the enemy to conduct ideological sabotage against the USSR”. To me that sounds like bureacrat-ese for "We investigate cults and supernatural creatures and we kill them."

        During the Soviet era, that's all that was needed -- the KGB would kill the monsters and the cultists, and the witnesses would either be killed or sent off to the gulag unless they were high up in the Party. But after the Yeltsin reforms, the KGB lost its power due to the collapse of the communist state, and with the rise of capitalism and Russian gangsters came people to fill the gaps left by the government -- many of whom were ex-KGB in their own right. 

        At first, these monster hunters were criminals who frequently worked with, or for, or were Russian mafia. As those who didn't die became more efficient, they were seen as vigilantes by the people: heroic warriors against evil who nonetheless were persecuted by the government. Finally, as their success grew (and the government showed itself unable to do its own job), they were recognized as a necessary evil and became legitimate government contractors. 
        These days there are Russian hunter teams in every major city. 

        Government sanction of hunters has made life considerable easier for the FSB (the successor to the KGB). They only have to identify existential threats to the state, eliminate them, and of course perpetuate cover-ups in order to prevent the populace from learning the truth and panicking. What was once the 13th Division has become the Directorate for Issues Relating to Monsters, aka the Monster Directorate, aka Directorate Ч.* 

        Under the Monster Directorate are discrete sections: one for investigation, one for elimination (strike teams), one for research, one for witness suppression, and so forth. I haven't named those yet, and may never need to. 

        * Pronounced "chuh", Ч is the Russian letter Ch and is the first letter of the word Чудовище, which is translated as Chudovishche and means "monster".  So if you see the words "Directorate Ч", make sure you pronounce it "Directorate Chuh"!

        Monday, November 12, 2018

        ACP Episode 031: Election Trepanation

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d muse over the mid-term elections;
        • Oddball discusses knife sharpening and its associated equipment;
        • Weer'd fisks some audio that is nothing but anti-gun boilerplate;
        • David gives his reflections on the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting;
        • and Steve gives us his House Dick origin story in Tales from the Trunk.

        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 mag dump episodes and our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks.

        Show Notes

        Main Topic
        Oddball's Corner Pocket
        Weer'd Audio Fisk

        Saturday, November 10, 2018

        Three-Line Rifle, Part 7

        A few drinks later...

        “How is that even possible?” Grisha asked, refilling my class. “The 588th Night Bomber Regiment wasn’t formed until 1942, and there’s just no way that your great-grandmother could have flown with them if she was at home looking after your mother while your grandmother fought alongside Moldagulova.”

        “I keep telling you, Baba Praskovya flew with the Night Witches in 1917! Just because the Germans called called the 588th ‘Nachthexen’ doesn’t mean that there wasn’t another unit called the Night Witches 30 years earlier!”

        He tsked at me. “I think your prababushka has been telling you tales, Bronia.”

        “I’ll take you home with me and you can tell her that yourself. Maybe she’ll let me keep you as a pet when she turns you into a nightingale.” I winked wickedly as I tossed back another shot.

        Monday, November 5, 2018

        ACP Episode 030: Third Rail Topics

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d discuss how some people on the internet are butthurt about the Line in the Sand Open Carry Event;
        • Weer'd brings us an interview with Jay Grazio of Shooting Illustrated to talk about how he went from being a blogger to a professional gun writer;
        • David touches the third rail and discusses the Caliber Wars;
        • and Oddball brings us some dos and don'ts on Knife Maintenance.

        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 mag dump episodes, our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks, and eligibility for our giveaway of a Hammond Cruiser folding knife by CRKT!

        Show Notes:

        Main Topic
        Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

        Saturday, November 3, 2018

        Things I've Done Recently

        Last Sunday, I was a guest on Eye on the Target Radio with Amanda Suffecool. My segment begins at the 28 minute mark.

        powered by podcast garden

        This past Wednesday I was a guest on Gun Freedom Radio with Cheryl Todd. My segment begins at the 30 minute mark.

        On Friday, the VICE News segment about the Concealed Carry Fashion Show at GRPC made its official YouTube debut. The comments are, as expected, toxic in the extreme.

        I think it's a telling condemnation of the site that someone has gone to the effort to code an extension for both Chrome and Firefox that replaces the comments with "herp derp".

        And finally, here's something I recorded (I guess you'd call it an audio blog?) Halloween night, after I'd seen the plastic surgeon for a follow-up about my face. I'm going to warn you, I wasn't in a good place when I recorded it.

        I put it on Patreon because I prefer its media player to that of Blogger, but anyone can listen for free.

        Monday, October 29, 2018

        ACP Episode 029: Open Carry to Catch Some Amberjacks

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d discuss the recent Open Carry event in Miami and the new political trend of anti-gun politicians concealing their anti-gun views;
        • Lara Smith tells us about  the Liberal Gun Club in part of her interview;
        • David brings us his observations on how the wishes of gun owners change from location to location;
        • Oddball tells us about Damascus and pattern welded steel;
        • and Weer'd brings us an audio fisk on the sad subject of suicide and how the anti-gunners attempt to exploit it for political gains.

        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 mag dump episodes, our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks, and eligibility for our giveaway of a Hammond Cruiser folding knife by CRKT!

        Show Notes:

        Main Topic
        Lara Smith Interview
        Weer’d Audio Fisk

        Sunday, October 28, 2018

        Pathfinder RPG: Standing Up in Combat Without Dying

        I don't know about you folks, but in my Pathfinder games there are certain PCs who are regularly reduced to zero hit points or less, then receive healing (usually some channeled positive energy from the cleric) and then want to stand up.

        Unfortunately, standing up in combat provokes an Attack of Opportunity from everything that threatens your location, and since you're prone, you get a -4 to your AC to be hit by said threatening things (a generous GM might reduce that to a -2 because the act of standing means you aren't fully prone, but neither are you completely vertical). Heck, you can't even crawl away, because crawling also provokes AoOs.

        So the question is, "What can a player have his character do so they aren't just sitting ducks when they're prone-but-conscious in a fight?"

        I thought about it for a bit and came up with three tactics. The first technique is 100% within both the letter and spirit of the rules, so it can used in any sanctioned gameplay; the second is legal to the letter of the rules, but some people might argue that it's against the spirit of the rules to Withdraw at a crawl; and the third is legal within the spirit of the rules, but isn't technically Rules As Written.

        Total Defense Technique
        1. Become conscious, either through healing or stabilization roll. 
        2. While still prone (-4 AC), use your standard action to adopt Total Defense (+4 AC). 
        3. Use your move action to stand up. 
        Benefit: Attacks of Opportunity still happen, but your AC isn't penalized. 100% legal within both letter and spirit of rules.

        The Combat Crawl
        1. Become conscious, either through healing or stabilization roll. 
        2. While still prone, use the full-round Withdraw action. You no longer suffer Attacks of Opportunity from opponents who threaten your starting square. 
        3. Crawling while prone is 5' as a move action. Withdrawing is a full-turn action that doubles your speed, meaning you can crawl at 10' as a withdrawal. 
        Benefit: Gets squishy PCs out of the fight in a hurry. Just be careful of your path, because you can still get AoD'd along your path!

        Acro Like a Mofo
        1. Become conscious, either through healing or stabilization roll. 
        2. Roll Acrobatics to tumble out of the square without provoking an Attack of Opportunity, with the DC determined by the "Move Through Threatened Squares" table. 
        3. Stand up in a non-threatened square OR add +5 to DC to stand up at then end of you tumble. 
        Benefit: A great way for high-Dex PCs to get back into the fight without having to burn their Standard Action. Tumble and attack!

        If you'd like to print out a copy of these rules, there's a handy button right below these words that will enable you to print it out or turn it into a PDF.

        Have fun, and don't die!

        Saturday, October 27, 2018

        GRPC Concealed Carry Fashion Show 2018

        Just like last year, this year I was invited to participate in the Concealed Carry Fashion Show at GRPC by Amanda Suffecool.

        My personal thoughts on being asked were "Amanda, I think you're crazy because I'm not at all attractive or fashionable, but if you really want me then I'll do it as a favor to you." And she really wanted me, so I did it.

        Unlike last year, there was a camera crew from Vice News to film us. They also wanted a sit-down interview with all of the participants. They talked to me for about 45 minutes.

        .. which became 30 seconds of television. This is, unfortunately, about standard for these sorts of things. I remember back in 2016 when I talked to the BBC for hours about gun rights and it was reduced to about 3 minutes.

        Anyway, here's me. The quality is crappy because Vice News is HBO-only and a friend recorded the screen so that those of us without HBO could see it.

        I'm told that Vice will eventually upload their segment to YouTube. When that happens, I'll take down my crappy video and embed theirs instead.

        I've been asked for details on the shirt I was modeling. It's a Panaca from Silver State Apparel. As you can see from the video, I was able to conceal a full-size 1911 inside it. There are pockets on either side for you sinister folks and/or if you wanted to carry two pistols.

        Friday, October 26, 2018

        Action Movie Physics

        As teased in this post, the Action Movie Physics RPG is published and available for purchase at RPGNow and DriveThroughRPG!  Please use those links; they have my affiliate ID on them and that gets me a little percentage of each purchase.

        Only $14.99! 

        My main contribution to this book was bringing my knowledge of firearms and firearm accessories to the game. I don't claim to be an expert, but I knew more about guns than anyone else in the development group, and most importantly I spoke both languages (role-playing game mechanics and firearm details).

        There are, of course, going to be things to quibble about, the most obvious is that of Rate of Fire. What you need to keep in mind is that per these rules, PCs can only shoot a maximum of three times per round (each round is 5 seconds), so I went with the Hollywood-ism that semi-autos shoot more quickly than revolvers. I adjusted for this by having revolvers be more reliable. For full-auto guns, I derived the ammo spent via burst fire by dividing the cyclic rate by 60 to get a 1-second trigger squeeze. It's a rough approximation, but I think it works.

        Magazines are another issue; I know there are all sorts of wacky things out there, like 100-round Beta-C drums. I decided to go with what was most common, deferring to military standard if possible.

        So in short, I know it won't be perfect. There's no way to perfectly model real life in a game, mainly because real life has too many variables to account for. My main goals were to ensure that the firearms rules were fun and playable and didn't set off the BS detectors of gun owners. I hope I succeeded in that respect.

        There's already a Facebook discussion group for AMP. Buy the game, join the group, and tell us what you think! If there's demand I'll probably be asked to contribute more to future supplements, like Old West or Roaring 20s or a Military sourcebook.

        Thursday, October 25, 2018

        My Appearance on This Week in Guns

        I was a guest on another firearms podcast!

        Wait... is it a podcast if it's on YouTube and had video?

        Whatever. Give a listen; you'll get to hear me talking about the passing of Doug "Krikket" Krick, how England defines murders differently than America, and of course my attendance at the Line in the Sand event in South Miami.

        Wednesday, October 24, 2018

        Pink Pistols Founder Doug Krick Passes

        My sympathies go out to the Krick family for their loss. May Krikket find the the peace that so long eluded him in life. 

        Monday, October 22, 2018

        ACP Episode 028: Salt, Steel, and Spurious Statistics

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d explore an article which disputes the the validity of the CDC's rising numbers for gun violence in America... from Michael Bloomberg's The Trace;
        • Weer'd interviews Lara Smith of the Liberal Gun Club to discuss the not-so-mythical liberal gun owner and how important diversity is in the Second Amendment fight;
        • the General Purpose Egghead gives us another segment on the penny stove, this time  talking about on how to use one, some accessories for one that are useful, and fuels for it;
        • and friend of the show Oddball felt called out to do a segment on what knife steels are good and what to avoid.

        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 mag dump episodes, our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks, and eligibility for our giveaway of a Hammond Cruiser folding knife by CRKT!

        Show Notes:

        Main Topic
        General Purpose Egghead

        Sunday, October 21, 2018

        Line in the Sand: How it Went

        In a word: great. The worst thing that happened was that I got a little sunburned.

        There were lots of police at first, visible as we walked through the park and then onto the pier itself, but the only hassling they did was demanding to see a valid fishing license when someone who was visibly armed got out of their car. That didn't really bother me, since the law does state that you can OC while going to or coming from fishing, and in order to fish in Florida you need a valid licence. So it was annoying in the sense that "Papers, please" is annoying, but it's no less reasonable than a cop asking to see your driver's license after you've been pulled over for speeding. 

        Walking up to the pier, though, there was another uniformed officer with a bag full of lollipops that he offered to us while saying "Hey guys, did you bring a pole for me?"  I thought this was brilliant, because if he'd said straight out "I've got no problem with you being here" then that might get him in trouble at work, but his actions nevertheless indicated that he was 100% comfortable with us being there and didn't see us as trouble. 

        The rest of the day passed without incident. I'd say about 90% of the people simply didn't give a damn one way or the other; I saw parents with small children  walking up and down the pier, obviously not worried about us. The other 10% was evenly split between people asking what we were doing (many of them foreigners on vacation and wondering why we had guns when we were fishing), and people who were clearly offended we were there and taking our pictures in an attempt to, I dunno, shame us or something?

        Truly, the most disappointing thing that happened is that no one from any of the Florida Pink Pistol chapter, not even the one in Fort Lauderdale, showed up to meet me. 

        The media did an okay job of covering us, which is surprising given this pearl-clutching article written about the event by the Miami New Times the day before the event. I expected a hack job, but because we are all law-abiding folks there was nothing sensational to write about (color me shocked, shocked I say that the MNT didn't write a follow-up about the event), so most media outlets just used an Associated Press article that went out on the wire. I say that because I've seen multiple networks using the same footage and saying the same thing; for example, here's an article on WPTV, a West Palm Beach channel, and here's the same article (only with fewer pictures and a different video format) from WFLA in Tampa.

        Did you spot me in the video? I was in the frame from 00:24 to 00:31.

        No? Here's the video again (no sound until the end):

        Still didn't see me? Here's a picture:
        Does this freedom make my butt look big?
        Here's a neat photo taken shortly after.
        What's interesting is that the fellow with the scoped and drum-fed M14
        not only lives in my home town but also went to my old high school.

        Finally, for those of you want to see as much of it as possible, here's three hours of livestream (the entire event was 4 hours and some change).

        Monday, October 15, 2018

        ACP Episode 027: Sweeping the Streets in a Ninja Wagon with a Penny Stove

        In This Episode:
        • Erin and Weer’d discuss proper glassware for liquor; media attention on the Operation Blazing Sword - Pink Pistols merger; and how the Armsel Striker/ Cobray Street Sweeper's pop culture status doesn't match up with its real world performance.
        • Weer'd brings us another interview with Laura Carno of FASTER Colorado,  this time discussing her role in the historic 2013 Colorado Recall Elections.
        • The General Purpose Egghead describes a simple, effective, and inexpensive piece of prepper kit: Penny Stove.
        • In Gun Lovers and Other Strangers, David explains what happens when people's cultural views on guns doesn't reflect reality.
        • The ACP House Dick is back, and so is his Ninja Wagon!  Steven gives us an after action report on what caused the accident and he wants in a vehicle as a private detective.

        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 mag dump episodes, our hilarious blooper reels and film tracks, and eligibility for our giveaway of a Hammond Cruiser folding knife by CRKT!

        Show Notes:

        Main Topic
        Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

        The Fine Print

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

        Creative Commons License

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