Monday, April 30, 2018

ACP Episode 004

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd talk taxes, and how you can donate to Operation Blazing Sword to keep from giving the Government your hard-earned money.
  • They also discuss the UK’s knife bans and the broader implications they have for both Britons and the world.
  • Connie analyzes John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Adviser.
  • Savage1R steps back the technical talk and dives into the philosophy of why cryptocurrencies are important and why we should all care.
  • Weer’d Fisks part 2 of Shannon Watts on the 1A Podcast where she focuses on armed teachers to deter school shootings.
  • Steve tells a story where he was the subject of an investigation.

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!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time

In the spirit of Infinity War's crossovers...

The man shifted uneasily in his chair, scratching at his grayed temples. Across from him sat, to his eyes, a walking scarecrow and a very pretty (if out of place) girl. She looked annoyed, but the scarecrow man looked impatient, perhaps expectant.

The man's hand shook as he reached for the small tumbler of whiskey. He sipped, choked back a grimace, and took a deep breath.

"I know you are going to think I am crazy, but I believe very much so that I am not. Everybody in Lagos remembers the day the heroes came crashing through and 'accidentally' blew up the Wakandans," his voice catching on the word 'accidentally' like it held a bitter taste to it, "but no one remembers when the mutants came to Lagos. No one but me."

The scarecrow man's eyebrows furrowed together, and for a moment the man was afraid they would leap off of his forehead and assault him. There was a moment of quiet, then he continued.

"And that's not all. I remember both of these events, and I remember the great Apocalypse. I read in the news about the robots in Europe, but no one else remembers entire cities disintegrating. What's wrong with me, Mister Doctor?"

One Hour Earlier...

Clara stumbled out of the TARDIS, choking on the smoke that followed her through the doors. Whatever was burning in there, she decided, could not be anything but hazardous to her health, and she sometimes worried she'd breathed in far too much of it over the years she'd traveled with the Doctor. She took in a lungful of dusty air and looked around. Hot, dry sun beat down on her, and she was surrounded by the noises and smells of a bustling marketplace of a dusty, dry city. The Doctor came charging out of the doors, dispelling the cloud of smoke that had followed her, his coat covered in soot and his face crossed with more lines than she'd remembered before the explosion. He was muttering something to himself about time tracks, dimensional boundaries, and crossed realities until she interrupted him.

"Doctor? Doctor! Where are we?"

He stopped and looked around for a long second before sticking his finger in his mouth and holding it up in the air and pronouncing, "Lagos. Nigeria. Earth. 2016. But the wrong one." He glanced up at the side of a building that looked like it had seen better days. Several of the upper floors of the North side of it had suffered structural damage and had clearly been on fire recently. He frowned, digging in his pocket until he found a small wooden box, tilted the lid open, then shut it firmly and shoved it back in his pocket.

"How can it be the wrong one?" Clara asked, "Isn't there only the one Lagos?"

The Doctor looked supremely annoyed, "Clara, do you remember that awful bingy-bingy noise before the cloister bells started ringing? That was the TARDIS jumping off course. And then when the walls started closing in? Something went wrong with the dimensional stabilizer, and we got pushed through a weak point between universes. Wherever we are, it's not the right Lagos. For one thing, that building," he said, pointing up at the burned out husk, "isn't supposed to be all exploded. I should know, I had tea there just next week and it was still in one piece."

Clara, trying to keep up with the shifting tenses in his explanation, suddenly noticed an elderly Nigerian man staring at them in disbelief. She tugged at his coat and whispered under her breath at the Doctor.

"Doctor, I think that man there just noticed us."

"Well of course he noticed us. We just stepped out of a smoking blue box that probably made an awful racket landing and... hold on, that man just noticed us. The TARDIS telepathic fields must have malfunctioned and -"

Clara cut him off, "Then why hasn't anyone else noticed us?"

"Ah," The Doctor patted the pocket he'd stowed the box in, before starting off towards the man. Clara shook her head and followed.


His name was Isaiah, and the Doctor was drinking in every detail of his story. Every fantastical detail. In this world, it seemed, there'd been a swell of enhanced individuals -- soldiers and inventors, robots and aliens -- appearing through history and operating quite publicly. But Isaiah's story fell apart in several places as he tried to reconcile two very different versions of history that were living in his head. This was very distressing to him, especially as it seemed no one else remembered one set of events. The Doctor and Clara sat with him for a very long time, listening to all he had to share.

When Isaiah had finished his stories, one accounting of bizarre events from two perspectives throughout his remembered history, the Doctor leaned back in his chair, his eyebrows finally leaving attack position. He pulled a slender tool from his coat pocket, shoved it rudely in Isaiah's face, and pressed the button. Isaiah flinched at the green light on the tip and the whine it let loose. The Doctor snatched it away from him, popped open the tip, and stared intently at the shifting metal on the inside.

"Well then. It's little wonder you're so perturbed. Your consciousness is split between two versions of reality, one that doesn't exist anymore and the one that exists around you, and you can't reconcile the two. Part of that little human pea-brain is quite literally stuck in the wrong universe. But why? What makes you of all people special?"

Clara sunk her elbow into the Doctor's ribs, handing him a notecard that he studied intensely for a moment before grudginly bringing his gaze back to Isaiah.

"By which I mean 'I am terribly sorry to hear about your distress. I can only imagine how I would feel in your place, and I will do everything I can to resolve this situation for you. Shake hands and smile politely.' "

Clara rolled her eyes and looked apologetically at Isaiah as the Doctor took off towards the ruined building.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Pathfinder Gunslingers and Touch AC

I like Gunslingers, but I think the Pathfinder rules for firearms targeting Touch Armor Class instead of regular AC is too powerful.

I've been looking at ACs for creatures as they increase in level (there's a great chart of that here, containing damn hear every beastie in Pathfinder), and when you compare them you see that while the Mean, Median and Mode of regular AC increases with CR at a fairly constant rate, touch AC hovers in the 10-12 range.

This is troublesome because Gunslingers get a +1 to their base attack bonus every single level, which means a Gunslinger will quickly end up hitting every damn thing every damn time unless that creature is intangible, or has such an  abnormally high touch AC (due to magic or Dex) that the wizard can't hit it with magic.

Now I understand the reasoning behind guns hitting touch AC, but that "game logic" falls apart when you consider that blunt weapons like maces and hammers also ought to hit touch AC because the impact damage would get transmitted through the armor to the fleshy bits underneath (concussions happen to people wearing helmets all the time).

On the other hand, I don't want to nerf the Gunslinger, either.

So I came up with a compromise based off the Bolt Ace ability Sharp Shoot, and ruled that:
  1. Firearms target regular AC.
  2. At 1st level, a Gunslinger may resolve a firearm attack against touch AC instead of normal AC when shooting at a target within its first range increment. Performing this deed costs 1 grit point. This deed’s cost cannot be reduced by any ability or effect that reduces the amount of grit points a deed costs (such as Signature Deed).
I think this is balanced. Instead of hitting nearly every time, a Gunslinger needs to save their attacks for special "oh crap" moments or dramatic combats. And since there are ways to regain grit in combat, plus the Extra Grit feat and magic items like the Ring of Grit Mastery, it's less a case of taking away something special and essential to the class and more turning it into another resource management mini-game like spellcasters have.

And now, I shall pre-emptively answer some expected objections:
Under rules as written, firearms only resolve vs Touch if they are in the first range increment, and outside of that they will take a -2(or higher) to attack. Isn't this enough?
I've been running a Pathfinder game with a Gunslinger for about a year now, and I don't think I've ever had a combat outside that range increment. Most fights occur within 30-50 feet, which is easily within range of a move action + shoot.
Gunslingers are vulnerable to attacks of opportunity when reloading!
This is true. However, 5 foot steps and teamwork mitigates a lot of this. If not, drop the firearm (free action), draw a melee weapon (move action) and attack (standard action) with that fast BAB.
Slow reloading times are a balance for the class!
Tell that to the 3rd level Musket Master in my game. Rapid Reloader + Fast Musket + Alchemical Cartridges means he can reload as a swift action so long as he has 1 grit point.
Gunslingers cannot rapid shot!
Double-Barreled muskets exist and can, regardless of level, fire both barrels in a single attack action. All the Rapid Shot feat would do is reduce the -4 penalty to -2, which seems both logical and fair and there's nothing in the rules to suggest that they cannot.
Firearms break on a misfire roll!
... which can be remedied as a standard action with the Quick Clear deed so long as they have (not spend, have) 1 grit point.
What will your Gunslinger PC think about being nerfed?
I ran it past him before I implement this rule. His answer was It seems like a pretty clean solution to what will definitely become a problem. I say we roll with it and see how it plays out on the table. 
How does it work in play?
We've only had a couple combats since then, but so far it seems to be working well. He's hitting opponents with about the same percentage as the crossbow-using Ranger, and is saving Grit for special occasions. So far we both like what we see, and will address concerns as they come up.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 003

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd Discuss Operation Blazing Sword and LGBTQ gun rights.
  • Erin interviews new contributor Connie Elliott, who lists the amazing life experiences that led her to become our “Washington in Plain English” translator.
  • Now that you actually have some cryptocurrency, Savage1R shows how you can use them.
  • The Weer’d Audio Fisk is part 1 of Shannon Watts on the NPR 1A Podcast.
  • Also new to the show is Steve, the “house dick” who is here to tell stories about his life as a private investigator in Tales From the Trunk. This week, Steve tells a story of an attempted carjacking that changed his outlook on life and firearms.

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!

Listen here or download the episode here.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Once you find your center, you are sure to win"

A friend linked to this article yesterday and asked me for my opinion on it.

The impression I got from it was one of self-loathing: "No matter how hard I try, I will never be good enough to consider myself a woman. But maybe, if put them above me, they will allow me to associate with them and that will validate my existence as a second-rate transwoman."

Sigh. It's attitudes like this which make me say that the queer community's worst enemy is itself. Give us enough time, and we'll defeat ourselves more thoroughly than any hyopthetical rightwing transphobe.

The author's main thesis seems to reduce to "transwomen are different from ciswomen biologically and socially." The biology difference is such a big fat duh that I'm unsure why she even feels the need to point this out. I don't think there's anyone on either side of the argument who feels that transwomen benefit from having their Y chromosome ignored in a medical sense. For example, in male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery the prostate is usually not removed due to its proximity to the bladder, important nerves and blood vessels. However, prostate cancer is still a thing that happens to transwomen, and pretending that a transwoman doesn't have a prostate that needs to be checked regularly is medically negligent.

The social difference is debatable, because I can list a half-dozen genetic women on Facebook alone whom I humorously call (and they laugh and agree with my assessment) "gay men with vaginas" because they act more male than female, don't understand other women, and sometimes don't even LIKE other women. So if biological women, who were socialized while growing up to be women, still self-identify as being more masculine than feminine, then maybe there's more to femininity than just estrogen-based puberty... meanwhile, here I am trying like hell to fit in, worried that other women are going to call me out for being a tourist and a fake, doing my best to cram an entire adolescence of figuring out clothing and makeup and movement into as short a time as possible, and (again) actual genetic women are telling me "You're girlier than I ever was."

While there is something to be said for bonding over shared life experiences, I feel like reducing "the female experience" to menstruation and PMS and childbirth and fear of rape and all the other things the writer listed is to reduce womanhood to plumbing and pain, and I find that marginalizing and objectifying and sexist. It's true, I'll never know what it's like to grow up as a girl into a woman... but growing up a certain way doesn't mean I can't assimilate into another culture, and if you believe that it does then I genuinely feel bad for you, because you've just told me that you believe in inescapable fate and that self-improvement isn't possible. After all, you've just said that if you grow up in an environment where no one goes to college, then you can't assimilate into college, so you shouldn't even try.

It's garbage thinking to assert "You can't be X because you don't have these shared experiences." Are you going to tell an immigrant seeking citizenship that she can't be American because she didn't grow up on a steady diet of American pop culture? No, because no one American is identical to another! A Californian is culturally different from a Texan is different from an Illinoian is different from a New Yorker, and while their cultural experiences are different they are all authentically American. Similarly, women can be different on a spectrum from frou-frou femme to butch tomboy, and no one's going to tell that butch tomboy that she can't put on a dress and be authentically feminine because she didn't grow up as a girly-girl. Hell, we have entire industries dedicated to making over women of all sorts, so that kind of transformation is actively encouraged by society.

So this sad author is saying that she can dress as a woman, but she'll never truly be one socially. I call BS on that because my experience says that attitude is absolutely wrong.

When I was in my 20s, I tried so very hard to "be a man": I wanted to join the military, I got a masculine tattoo, I tried to do all the thing "a man does" and I still felt like an imposter. I didn't know at the time that I was transgender; all I knew is that I felt like I didn't belong among the ranks of men and tried to find something, anything, that I could do or be or say that would forever mark me as "a man" that could be seen by all. I was going through all the motions and nothing was working; it was cargo cult manhood based around doing manly things and thinking manly thoughts and the fervent hope that if I just acted like a man I would become one somehow.

I don't think this is a transgender thing, because I remember the popularity of Fight Club and how its message was "You can't let society tell you how to be a man. You have to find it on your own, because it won't be bestowed upon you; manhood must be claimed."

Or maybe that's just what I took away from it. What I know is that watching the movie was very transformative for me, because it showed me that I wasn't alone, I wasn't a freak; there were other people who were having the same existential struggle I was. I just... found a different solution than in the film. But I like to think that Tyler Durden would approve of me being who I am instead of trying to be what I am not.

In the time since I saw that movie, I've known adult males who will never be men, and I've known legal children who were mentally and emotionally men before society said they were. Similarly, I've known adult females (many of whom are mothers) who weren't women but rather post-adolescent girls, and I've known high-schoolers who were women before they were 18.

If I may presume to have any wisdom on the matter, it is this: There is no single objective standard of womanhood, just like there is no single objective standard of manhood. 'Selfhood' is the end result of a long journey of self-discovery, at the end of which an individual says "This is who I am, and it is sufficient. I don't need anyone else to tell me what I am, because I know what I am, and if you don't like it you can go get bent."

You are yourself, and that is more than enough. Don't look to others for validation. Be YOU, as hard as you can, as fearlessly as you can, and don't apologize for it.

Or to be pithy: "If you want to be a woman, man up and be one."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Who Hunts The Hunters?

Obvious title is obvious.

I play a lot of video games. I mean, a lot.

Primarily, I play cooperative game modes. In some of those cooperative game modes, sometimes the interfaces are poorly coded, such as in Mass Effect: Andromeda. In these more poorly coded interfaces, often the voice chat is on by default, and there's a surprisingly generous portion of the playerbase that doesn't realize this. As a result, you often hear a lot of background noise: dogs barking, heavy breathing, televisions, cars driving by, jackhammers, people having sex, someone being horribly murdered in the background, or a combination of any of the above.

Stay with me. This is relevant, I promise.

Over the last week or so, Bully Hunters was announced. It is ostensibly an elite squad of possibly female gamers on call 24/7 to hunt down and exact revenge on toxic male gamers that harass other female gamers that are just trying to play a game. They announced a livestream event, an hour to show off their system in action, hunting down a bully live and providing statistics on why they're necessary.

And then the stream happened.

An hour turned into 35 minutes of unadulterated cringe.

The experts they brought on parroted Gender Studies talking points, which really came as no surprise. The in-game footage they showed was choppy and looked like it was either poorly encoded, pre-recorded footage or was being played on a computer from 2002. The presenters were stiff and uncharismatic, the audience was lifeless, and the event cues were ripped straight from a garage-level presentation of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. But it didn't stop there.

The statistics discussed by the 'professionals' -- a clinical counselor with a focus on living with diabetes and a clinical psychologist with a focus on marriage counseling -- were revealed to have been extrapolated by a self-reporting survey of 874 people on social media platforms Twitter and Reddit, and inflated from the 874 respondents to a total of 3 million women being driven out of gaming.

One "casual gamer," therosethorn, was revealed to be not only the casual gamer with a level 1 account owning only one game, but the bully, the bully hunter, and several other bully hunters as well. Not to mention that one of her previous names (and the url of her profile page) was testbhv1 (test bully hunter victim 1?).

Full disclosure here: this screenshot was taken from my own Steam account while I was writing this, as I'd lost the original screenshot. That's right, it's still there.

An additional problem arises in that, unless I'm mistaken, you can't hear the enemy team (let alone join a game in-progress if you're playing competitively) in Counterstrike: Global Offensive. If she was able to hear the bully, that means they were on the same team, and if she invited the Bully Hunter in, then she'd go to the same team, thereby making that glorious knife kill from earlier nigh-on impossible. If she somehow joined the opposing team, then due to the hectic nature of a CS:GO match, she'd stand just as much a chance of killing the person that called her for help as she did killing the bully, or even being killed by the bully herself, which is something that happens anyway. I'm not kidding, you play one of these games, and you die a lot. One more death will mean literally nothing to you.

A few watchful eyes happened to notice the prominent SteelSeries branding backing the Bully Hunters, and asked them directly about it. SteelSeries, a fairly well-respected gaming peripheral company (I even have a Fallout-themed headset they made) initially stood their ground when asked, but eventually buckled after being confronted by the shady nature of the entire event.

And I can't blame them at all. After Bully Hunters host and spokesperson Natalie Casanova aka ZombiUnicorn was exposed as having used a slur on a livestream several times (something that poor PewDiePie was crucified for), and using a gendered slur in several tweets, people kept digging, and found that the entire thing was slapped together by marketing company FCB Chicago. Eventually other sponsors Vertagear and, ironically, the Diverse Gaming Coalition also folded, throwing FCB Chicago and, in the case of the latter, ZombiUnicorn under the bus.

This is bad. Not only does it paint people that play games in general in a bad light, but it also paints women that play games as personally helpless, having to bring in outside help to fight their battles for them. I've played with a lot of women in my time; some of my best long-term co-op partners have been women, and I've always trusted them to hold their own, whether they're tanking for my medic or I'm tanking for their medic, and have never been let down. But this? You don't stop 'bullies' by giving them air-time or more exposure. You don't give them an easily exploitable platform so they can play nice until they convince you they're hunter material. Instead, you starve them of oxygen. You give them no reaction until they get bored. Do you want to see the most effective weapon against in-game harassment? I'll show you:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 002

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd discuss Youtube’s new gun policy.
  • Savage1R explains how one actually acquires cryptocurrencies.
  • The Weer’d Audio Fisk is Megyn Kelly’s Lecture on the Parkland Massacre.
  • and Weer’d interviews Gail Pepin of the Massad Ayoob Group about how she became pro-gun.

Show notes:

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!

Listen here.
You can also download the episode here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Semper Fidelis, Gunny Ermey

I had the pleasure of meeting Gunny once.

It was the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting, and I was on the hotel shuttle bus that would take me to the convention. Just as we were about to leave, some guy asked the driver if he would take the bus to the side entrance to pick up his friend, Lee. The bus driver agreed, took us there, and we waited.

And waited.

And the guy said "Come on, Lee, hurry up" while I grumbled silently about what kind of prima donna can't make it to the front where the bus is but needs his own pickup?

Then I saw Gunny come out of the hotel and walk to the bus, and all of my irritation evaporated. I had to exert physical effort to keep from fangirling all over the place, especially when he sat down across the aisle from me.

Like you'd expect, the Gunny kept up a running commentary about what a shitshow the traffic was, and how he'd sat through it every day, and that most of the NRA Board of Directors didn't show up until the actual voting day and some didn't show up at all, and things like that. It was pretty much an Authentic Gunny Experience, complete with profanity.

When we reached the convention center, I allowed myself a little lapse and said "It's a pleasure to meet you, Gunny. Keep doing what you're doing" and offered my hand. He smiled and shook it.

I can just see him calling cadence for the Heavenly Host. "You may be archangels, maggots, but I'm going to turn you into MARINES!"

Friday, April 13, 2018

Another Status Report on my Face

I realized I haven't told you folks about the new plastic surgeon I've been seeing, so here's the backstory followed by what happened when I went to see him on Wednesday.

After I had that terrible appointment with my lazy, useless, callous, no-good plastic surgeon, I fired him and went in search of another one. Fortunately for me, one of my neighbors is an LPN who works for a local Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon (the exact same kind of doctor who sewed my lips up after the attack) and who had noticed we had one less dog on our nightly walks, which led to a conversation about the injury. She, too, thought my old plastic surgeon was full of crap, and was confident that her boss could fix me up. She even set me up with a free consultation with him!

During the appointment, the OMS was a whirlwind of activity like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil: he came in, examined me, said "Oh yeah, we can fix this easily by doing X, Y, and Z," and then he was out of the room. My friend the LPN set some things up, the doctor whirled into the room again, and gave me several injections of something called Kenalog right in the scar tissue (I'm pleased to report that I could actually feel the needle going in, which is an odd thing to be happy about but that means I have less nerve damage to that area than I feared) before he whirled out again. Then the LPN gave me some scar reducing gel, telling me to use it 2x a day and to continue rubbing itamin E into my scar once a day, and that I'd need to come back in six weeks.

Let me tell you, those three things really reduced the swelling. If you look at these selfies I took during my trip to Fredericksburg, you can see the scar if you look really hard (it's hidden under dermablend -- which, by the way, is expensive but worth the cost) but it's not obvious and it's definitely not puffy.

That brings us to a few days ago, when I had my 6-week checkup. Both the LPN and OMS were really pleased with how the scar had visibly reduced in thickness, and so they gave me another round of Kenalog injections (which actually hurt worse than last time, which again I'll interpret as a good thing). Then they used a laser on the scar, focusing on the red parts where the stitching was, to blend the color in with the rest of my face.

I'm not going to say it was pleasant, but it wasn't bad. It hurt worse when I got my tattoo. Heck, the Kenalog injections hurt worse! But let me tell you, I looked AWFUL afterwards because the lasered areas were irritated like heck and oozing blood, so no pictures of that here.

I have another appointment in 2 more weeks, probably to see how my skin has recovered from the laser. I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Dumpster Fire-Side Chat With Wil

Wil, it's not always about you or your crusade. 

I had an interesting chat with a new co-worker today. Isaac -- we'll call him Isaac, as that's not his name but he looks like an Isaac to me --was talking with another coworker about people smoking weed. I asked him simply, "Who are they hurting?" He asked if I was Libertarian. I said that, while I respect some of their ideas, I'm not anti-government enough to call myself that.

He then went on to hopefully ask if I was Conservative. I told him my political compasses usually put me in the lower left quadrant, leaning Left with small L libertarian tendencies. He jokingly said "We'll bring you to the Right side yet."

Good luck, pal. If Erin hasn't converted me after 10 years of being a good example, I doubt you'll make much progress overnight.

But that's not why we're here. Tonight, we're here to talk to one my favourite self-imposed punching bags, one Wil Wheaton.

Pull up a seat, William. I'd like to ask you a question: Why?

William, how old are you? Oh Christ, you were born in 1972? You're that much older than me? No, sit back down, I'm not done yet. Pour me another drink, will ya fella? Cheers.

William, why would you screenshot just the article photo and the headline, and then read your own interpretation of the article? And then follow that up with the pound-signs for #fuck racism and #fuck racists. And why would you leave a space in the hashtags? You know that breaks a hashtag, right? You should know, being the world's oldest Millenial.

See, and the worst part is, William "Ban the Nazis" Wheaton, aka William "I'm a good person" Wheaton, is that you left no link to the original source. I had to dig up previous versions of a few different articles to determine that the image and headline were altered from this Washington Post article. You know, the left-leaning Washington Post. Or is this another example of Liberals Get The Bullet Too? (Is it still a bullet? Do you California Revolutionaries still use that phrase, or have you replaced "bullet" because of how problematic it is? Or do you hate us lowly untermensch Liberals so much that we justify usage of the damnable firearm?)

William, did you read the article? It mentions Black Panther exactly once. Then it goes on to talk about Ready Player One and A Wrinkle In Time in reference to theatre blockbusters, and Bright and The Cloverfield Paradox in reference to alternative format releases. The spirit and message of the article is that, as the production and advertising budgets of big blockbuster movies inflates, so does the amount they need to earn to be profitable, so a movie that makes, for example $500 million with a production budget of $250 million and advertising of $150 million can't be considered profitable. It also talks about how the domestic box office is meaning less and less as US profits flatline and profits in other countries like China are carrying otherwise mediocre successes (like, say Warcraft) to smashing successes.

William, I'd say you're better than this, but you're literally not. I've talked about you more than I've talked about any one person on this blog. I sought to save you before you were lost, and now I chastise you for taking a cheap, manufactured opportunity to push a narrative.

Stop it, William. Not because you're better than this, but because we are.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 001

NOT a dream!

NOT a hoax!

NOT an April Fool's trick!

Episode 1 of the Assorted Calibers Podcast is out NOW!

My Address at UMW's 2A Day

So, first the bad news:  I didn't record it. I was going to record it; I had the digital recorder with me; but for whatever reason, I forgot I had it and left it in my purse instead of taking it to the podium and turning it on.

Sure, I've got the speech written down and it wouldn't take a lot of work to post it here, but I got to thinking:
  • If I keep copying my speeches here, then that means I will either have to write a new speech every time I'm asked to speak before a group (which gets tiresome), or risk people becoming irritated that they "aren't getting their money's worth" if I recycle an old one.
  • However, if I don't post that speech here, then I can re-use it (with some tweaks for my audience's demographic and updates to keep it relevant) over and over again, and only the people who had seen my other speeches would be irritated... and let's face it, if you're a big enough fan that you come to see me speak multiple times then you're doing it because you think I am awesome and not because my speeches are awesome. 
Which isn't to say I'll never post a speech here again. If I speak at Gun Rights Policy Conference this year, for example, I'll certainly post the video. I'm just keeping this one in reserve. That said, let me tell you about 2A Day at University of Mary Washington.

The short version of a very long chain of events is this:
  • Natalie Johns, the young lady who created the UMW Firearms Club, invited me to speak at her event. I said yes, then told Cam Edwards that I'd be in the area, and would he be interested in 1) interviewing me and 2) doing a segment on UMW's 2A Day?
  • He said yes, and he invited both Natalie and myself to appear on his show. Natalie then went one step further and invited Cam to speak at the event, and he said yes because he's a great guy and he's never spoken at a university before. 
  • He tweeted about it to his 32,000 followers, and because he's an employee of the NRA they tweeted about it to their 642,000 followers, and the university promptly began to freak out. This is because the event was originally scheduled to be held in an auditorium that would only hold 115 people and they didn't know if many, many more NRA people would come listen to him talk, and they didn't want to turn people away. So the day before the event, it was moved to a much larger auditorium that could hold 1,500 people. 
  • This unfortunately turned out to be wishful thinking, as the number of attendees was very small, and looked much smaller in such a large auditorium. Natalie, who is as close to Twilight Sparkle as a person can get (and I mean that as a compliment) was devastated by the lack of turnout. At the beginning of the event (the NRA University presentation), she texted me with a distraught "There are more police here than attendees!"
  • If I had to blame anything, I'd say it was a combination of "liberal campus", "even held on Friday when most students would rather be partying for the weekend", and "rainy weather kept the undecided folks away". 
  • When I arrived to do my speech, Natalie came up to me and in apologetic tones said something to the effect of "The good news is that we've doubled our attendance. The bad news is that they're all people who have objected to and protested against this event, so be prepared." I nodded, and expected a lot of heckling or disruption in the manner of Trigglypuff
  • That didn't happen, though. The new attendees (who occupied the front two rows) were quiet during my speech. I don't know how much of it they listened to, because they were texting a lot on their phones, but they didn't disrupt anything. 
  • My presentation was all right, I guess. The speech was written well, but in terms of delivery, I could have done a lot better. I'm a natural pacer, so when I was given the opportunity to use a remote mic instead of one attached to the podium, I took the remote. This would have worked fine, if I had more practice with the damn thing and had my speech memorized. I didn't, so I had to have my tablet in one hand and the mic in the other, which meant I ended up gesturing with them, which meant that I looked like I was using props. It also meant I didn't have consistent voice levels because I wasn't bringing the mic back to the same place each time. 
  • Ugh. I'll do better next time, I promise. 
  • After I finished my presentation, there was a Q&A period. The people in front seemed irritated that I, a queer person, was somehow affiliated with the NRA, which they felt was toxic and hateful towards queer people. I tried to answer their questions as best I could, but it seemed like they wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a total denunciation of the NRA as the next version of the KKK, which I refused to do. They left unhappy, but other than that denunciation (which I wasn't going to do) I can't think of anything I could have said or done which would have made them happy. They filed out not long after that.
  • Cam gave an amazing speech. He really knocked it out of the park. I don't know if he had it memorized, or made it up on the spot, or was just really good at making it seem like he wasn't looking at notes, but regardless he gave a good performance with an excellent message. This is what happens when you get a professional to speak, folks, and next to him I look like Schmucky the Clown. 
  • Then there was a Q&A session, where I got to sit between Cam Edwards and the gentleman who runs the NRA Shooting Range. I felt like I was a kid at the grownup table, but everyone was happy to have me around and actually listened to, and built off of, what I said. I don't recall all of what was said, but here's what I remember:
    • Someone in the Firearms Club apologized for the people who gave me a hard time, saying he didn't know they were going to be so rude. I said "Oh, honey, they were being polite. They didn't make any personal attacks at all!" This came as a surprise to most of the students, but the other speakers just nodded. 
    • Someone asked us what guns we carried. I'm the only one who listed the brand of defensive ammo I use. 
    • The topic of "What can we do to protect our rights?" was brought up, and my response is to capitalize on the fun of shooting guns. Anti-gunners never seem to have any fun and instead appear to be uptight and scolding sorts. You never hear about anyone going to the not-shooting range and having fun not-shooting, but we all know about the New Shooter Grin. We need more people to know how fun freedom can be, because people who have fun shooting guns usually end up buying them, and gun owners almost always become gun voters
  • Also, Cargosquid came to see me and brought his daughter along! Hi, Squiddie, it was great seeing you! Hugs to you and your daughter. 

Taken just after the panel finished. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

My Appearance on Lock -N- Load Radio's Weaponized Women Show

Yesterday I had the honor of being a guest on my friend Tatiana Whitlock's show, "Weaponized Women".

If you missed the show, do not fret; you can listen to it here.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Calypso's Storm

While up in Virginia, some friends took me to a place called the Colonial Tavern where we all had adult beverages with our meal. The waitress asked me what I wanted, and all I could see on the menu were the usual draft beers and lagers, so I said "I don't know. I like my drinks to be fruity, girly things which taste like candy. Can you do something like that for me?"

She smiled widely at this and said "I can mix something for you, sure. Would you like that?" I said yes, and she brought me a Calypso's Storm. It was so tasty that I had to ask her for the recipe, and here it is:
Calypso's Storm
  • 1 shot Captain Morgan
  • 1 shot Malibu
  • 1/2 shot Watermelon Pucker
Fill glass with pineapple juice, top with grenadine, garnish with a cherry (in the drink) and orange slice (on the glass). 
If you're at the Colonial Tavern in Fredericksburg and have a cute waitress named Grace, be sure to tip her well and tell her I said hi!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pretty Cunning, Don't You Think?

Cam Edwards is a lovely fellow who not only accepted my gift of an OBS t-shirt but also wore it during his presentation at UMW's 2A Day. Don't let anyone tell you that everyone associated with the NRA is toxic and homophobic and/or transphobic, because we have our arms around each other and a homophobe / transphobe wouldn't do that.

I mean, if anything am the jerk because I gave him gifts that equate to "Please be my billboard and give me free advertising." And he was happy to do just that! 

Oh, and he used the OBS mug I gave him for the entirety of Friday's program

What a gentleman. I'm honored to call him a friend.

Monday, April 2, 2018

My Appearance on Cam & Company, 3/30/18

The Firearms Club of the University of Mary Washington holds its 2A Day today from 3 PM to 10 PM at the 4,000 student campus in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It features raffles, auctions, an NRA U training seminar and speakers including Cam and Erin Palette, founder of Operation Blazing Sword. Natalie Johns is the club founder and president. She started it with a Facebook post that drew over 1,000 comments. This is Erin's first time speaking at a traditional liberal arts school. She founded Operation Blazing Sword the Monday after the Pulse nightclub shooting. The gun community was more accepting when she came out as transgender than the transgender community was in accepting her as a gun owner. The operation has a network of more than 1,500 trainers nationwide to introduce the community to firearms so they can decide if it's something they want to pursue for self-defense or sport. Erin, Natalie and Cam agree that we can be very different people, but gun rights are nonpartisan and discriminate against no one. Originally aired on Cam & Co 03/30/18.

Let me tell you, Natalie Johns is a tiger in a kitten's body. She's going places, and if I've helped her even a little bit, then I've done something good in my life.

Please tell me: How visible is my scarring? I can see it, but then I know to look for it.

The Fine Print

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