Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Tatonka Cartridge Company's "American Shooter Collection"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 28, 2018

ACP Episode 008: Poor Optics

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

Listen to the episode here.

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

Show Notes:

Friday, May 25, 2018

It's Been a Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See ya on the flip side.

Monday, May 21, 2018

ACP Episode 007: James Bond

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

Listen to the episode here.

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Falling Towards Reichenbach

Lately I've noticed an uncomfortable trend among gun owners to hold the attitude of "It's all going to fail anyway, so instead of trying to make things better let's just get our licks in while we can."

I understand the sentiment. We are genuinely tired of constantly being demonized, and many have decided that since the anti-rights folk are going to treat us hatefully we ought to be hateful to them right back.

The problem with this tactic is that it's ultimately self-defeating. If your opponent is being unreasonable the solution is not to be unreasonable as well. We should be trying to broaden the support base for gun rights by appealing to the undecided moderates instead of trying to punish those who disagree with us.

There are currently about 5 million members of the NRA, yet it's estimated that there are 100 million gun owners in America. If a political bloc of 5 million votes scares the hell out of politicians, then a bloc of 100 million would make them crap their pants. Why, then, is the NRA not doing more to get those other 95 million to join?

There is a massive base of gun owners who believe in the Second Amendment but don't want to support the NRA because they disagree with the stances that come bundled with it. For example, if you're a gay gun owner and the NRA shifts hard enough to the right that its values include "gay people are threatening the sanctity of the nuclear family", then you'll be less inclined to support the organization regardless of your views on gun rights. 

I've seen this happen before (when the NRA started this culture war crap with Angry Dana videos) and it's only going to alienate more allies. With formerly pro-gun states like Florida actually passing gun control laws, this is not the time to drive allies away; this is the time to bring as many into our tent as possible so that politicians in non-blue states fear getting a failing grade from us.

But fighting makes people feel good, so that's what happens. And that's nothing but trading punches as we plummet to our doom.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 3

Back on board the TARDIS (now thankfully free of whatever potentially toxic fumes had exploded from the console), Clara changed into a less dusty and soot-covered outfit. She'd spent a surprisingly small amount of time crawling through burned-out buildings, but a hot shower to get the dust out of her hair felt good. Nigeria's weather was very different to the cool, damp shores of England.

Having teased the last of the water from her hair, she joined the Doctor on the TARDIS's upper level where he was standing with his hands on his hips and a look of consternation on his face. Surrounding him were a pair of chalkboards with what looked like crude drawings of professional wrestlers; what looked like a film projector with the silver scalpel where the film should be; and an old-fashioned boxy console screen on a long mechanical arm dropping from an indeterminate point in the ceiling.

She studied the crude chalk drawings. "I knew a girl growing up whose whole family was in wrestling. She was quite a bit younger than me, but I bet she went into it."

"What does any of this have to do with wrestling?" The Doctor frowned. "Oh, you mean these?" He pointed at the chalk sketches. "I've been pulling information from the tracking knife and correlating it with what the TARDIS has been soaking up from local media and historical records. It's really quite fascinating."

Clara braced herself for a storm of nonsensical words and long-winded explanations when the Doctor rounded on her with what appeared to be a little plastic man. "Meet Captain America!" Clara stared at the little plastic man, dressed in blues and whites with touches of reds and carrying a tiny disc of red and white.

"Captain what now?"

"America! He was a sickly, underfed boy whose parents were Irish immigrants. He signed up for the Army during World War 2 and fought a secret division of the Nazis called Hydra!" The Doctor's eyes were sparkling with the child-like gleam that Clara adored.

"I think I remember hearing about him, but Doctor, he was a comic book. He wasn't real." Clara immediately regretted saying that, as if she were telling a child that Father Christmas wasn't real.

"Then explain this," he said, pulling the console screen down by the knob. It held what looked like news footage of a man in a more modern and sleek version of the toy's uniform leaping over a car and flinging his metal disc. It ricocheted off three aliens that looked halfway related to Silurians before returning to the man's hand. As he fought through a larger group of the aliens, Clara caught a glimpse of what looked like a gold and red Cyberman, a woman in all black with startlingly red hair, and an absolute giant of a man with green skin.

The projector hissed and sparked and the picture suddenly changed, throwing the image of a large purple man with ceremonial robes being surrounded by people throwing lightning, shooting lasers from their eyes, and other fantastical things. Another hiss, another spark, and the projector now showed the building in Lagos, but complete and surrounded by a small army who were failing to hold off a man with what looked like knives protruding from his knuckles.

"They're all real, Clara!" She looked back to the Doctor, who had the most excited look on his face. A spark flew from the projector and a bell on the console clanged loudly, silencing any further questions she might have. The Doctor nearly flew over the railing, dashing down to the console in a blur and shouting "We have a destination! The still point we're looking for. The point where the straw goes all bendy!"

He looked at her, grinning like a madman. "The Stark Expo. June 13, 1942."

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Thoughts on the NRA's New President

Short Version:
Jesus Christ, NRA, what were you thinking? Were you even thinking?

Regardless of the fact that Oliver North's convictions were vacated on appeal, he is not only a man tarred with the specter of scandal but is also associated with illegally smuggling guns. Appointing a convicted-if-vacated gunrunner to be the public face of a national gun right organization is as short-sighted and tone-deaf as appointing not-convicted-but-clearly-guilty child murderer Casey Anthony to run the Girl Scouts of America.

By appointing North to be your president, you are embracing every single stereotype that Bloomberg and the various gun control groups have been saying about gun owners. You didn't just give them ammunition; you loaded the gun, handed it to them, and asked them to shoot you with it.

I literally cannot conceive of a worse decision short of appointing Bloomberg himself as NRA president.
photo by Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Longer Version:
I am immensely frustrated with this, both for the above public reasons and for the following personal ones.

All convention long, I worked my ass off to get a sit-down meeting with President Peter Brownell like I managed last year. When I discovered I had been invited to the invitation-only President's Dinner at the end of the convention, I was ecstatic and my mood only built from there when I was able not just to meet many people with the words "Board of Directors" on their name tags, but also talk to them about my concerns for what the NRA was doing and how to fix it - 
(Specifically, to stop the "culture war" nonsense that their public relations group Ackerman McQueen was churning out. They need to stop with the Us vs. Them mentality and quit trying to tie gun ownership to conservatism because that kind of thing is only pushing away allies. Gun Ownership is not inherently conservative or liberal;  it's a right, and rights are neither conservative or liberal, they just are. If the NRA wants to grow its membership and become more inclusive, it must focus only on its core mission of Firearm Education & Safety and Second Amendment Rights and nothing else.)
- and more importantly, they listened to me when I talked. They paid attention, they asked questions, they said my voice was needed within the group and they encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing because it was important and necessary. I was able to get a few minutes with Mr. Brownell, and he took notes when I gave him my bullet points. I was even able to meet with Wayne LaPierre himself briefly, where I gave him my card and explained the mission of Operation Blazing Sword and asked him to please use me as a resource. 

Things were going very well... and then, the next day, it was announced that Brownell was stepping down and North was taking his place. 

Now let me first say that I completely understand why Mr. Brownell stepped down. He already had a full-time job being the CEO of Brownells (aka "The Amazon of Firearms") and then was NRA President on top of it. The man was incredibly busy, and I can't blame him for wanting a break. Nor can I blame him for choosing his family business over an organization where he was both term-limited and largely a figurehead. 

I can't speculate as to the rumors that he was frustrated with an intractable "old guard" who resisted his ideas for a more inclusive NRA because I don't know anything except the rumors. It wouldn't surprise me, mind you, but I don't know one way or the other. 

So I can't fault Mr. Brownell for leaving. I do, however, fault the Board of Directors for appointing Oliver North in his stead. Businessmen negotiate, but Marines fight, and appointing Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North to be the head of the NRA sends an unmistakable message that the NRA is now on a war footing. While there's nothing inherently wrong in fighting for gun rights and the Second Amendment, I fear that we're going to see a doubling down on divisive rhetoric that will not only drive away potential allies but also mean a complete reversal of Brownell's plans for a more inclusive NRA. 

Will the NRA survive this? I don't know. I hope they do, because they're the nation's oldest and largest gun rights organization. It's going to depend on a lot of factors, including what their new president says and does. Maybe they will take my words to heart and understand that inclusionary language will bring them more members, more money, and more political influence than divisive rhetoric.

But if they won't... perhaps they don't deserve to survive this. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

ACP Episode 006

In this week's podcast:
  • This episode was recorded on location in Dallas for the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting, so pardon the difference in sound quality.
  • Erin and Weer'd recount their stories from the show - people they met, events they attended, and the guns and gear they saw.
  • Connie recaps a momentous week in politics, including the peace talks with North Korea.
Listen to the episode here.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fiction Break: A Still Point In Time 2

Clara followed as the Doctor stalked the wreckage of the building. For the most part, the TARDIS's telepathic field was doing its job and no one was giving them any funny looks as they clambered over charred walls and ducked under caution tape, but Clara could swear she'd periodically see people staring at them out of the corner of her eye only for them to be gone when she turned to look at them. Sure it wasn't her imagination, she decided to interrupt the Doctor's grumbling search.

"So... I'm sure it's just my imagination, but I keep seeing people... I don't know, noticing us? And then when I look again they're gone. What's up with that?" she asked, only half-expecting a reply from him.

"You're right, it's your imagination. But they really are there. Well, only they aren't." His explanation was only leaving her more confused, which must have been apparent on her face, so with a great sigh, he stopped, dropping the piece of rubble he'd surely not been about to lick, and gave her his full attention.

"You remember when I said this was the wrong Lagos?" he asked, pulling a straw from his pocket, "Well, imagine this straw is your Earth. Your 2016, with your Lagos and your Nigeria. Now this," he pulled another straw from his pocket, "is where we are now. A parallel universe. Now, see the bendy part in this straw? At some point, the history of this world went all bendy. Right now, we're bent off to one side, but for some reason our new friend back there, Isaiah, can still see the other bendy bit. So can we, to a certain extent, because we're not even from this straw. We're so far not from this straw that the bendy bit is actually confusing the TARDIS computers to the point where she can't find the hole she came in through."

Clara pondered this for a moment. "Okay. I think I get it. I'm not asking where you're pulling all these straws from, but we jumped from one to the other, and you're trying to figure out where the straw went all bendy and straighten it, right? That way we can get back to the right straw?" When he nodded, she pressed him, "So what are you looking for?"

"Organic matter," he said, pulling the box out of his pocket again, "so I can use this."

"You're gonna make me ask what's in the box, aren't you? It's not a head, is it? Awful small head if it is."

The Doctor knelt, apparently finding what he was looking for. He shoved his arm into a hole near the bottom of a burnt-out wall and pulled it back holding a half-crushed, lightly singed, and certainly very dead rat. Clara cleared her throat uncomfortably as the Doctor knelt, opening the box and placing the rat on the ground next to it. From the box he pulled a large silver scalpel that seemed to have some arcane, indecipherable writing on it.

"It's called a tracking knife. I nicked it from some particularly nasty characters living in a pocket of looped time. They'd use it to dissect living things, garner secrets from their timelines. It harvests biodata. I need an organic connection to this universe so I can track its timeline back to see where the divergence happened. We're looking for a still point in time, something that can be easily manipulated."

"And once we find that, we can go back and fix it? The knife is going to tell you all that by cutting up a dead rat?" Clara was still clearly uncomfortable with the dissection, but understood the reasoning behind it and looked on in interest as little lines of blue light began to appear in the air over the rat's now bisected body.

"I don't particularly feel like walking up to one of these nice people here and asking for a volunteer for a live temporal vivisection. It would be more effective, but it's more Missy's style than mine." The Doctor plucked at several of the strands, and they vibrated curiously. He manipulated the knife with suspicious skill, and several more intersecting strands appeared. "The knife should be able to get enough information for me to compare to the TARDIS databanks. I left the computer collating information from local sources, so we should be able to more accurately track down the bendy bits."

The strands began to coalesce into a single line, small symbols appearing at various points along it. The Doctor made a further cut and a fork appeared in them. "Gotcha," he said, standing and placing the knife gingerly back in the small box, "June 1943. Western Hemisphere, likely East Coast of the United States."

"Well, what are we waiting for then?" Clara asked, turning on her heel. "Let's go save a universe!"

Monday, May 7, 2018

ACP Episode 005

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weer’d Talk about the NRA and their Diversity Outreach.
  • They also discuss the first anti-gun law passed in the state of Vermont.
  • Connie tells us about how many of the various cabinet-level positions haven’t been staffed, and why that’s a bad thing.
  • Weer’d fisks the Facebook Viral Video where a man “Destroys” his AR-15 in possibly the worst way.
  • Steve talks about some of the perils that befalls a private detective when they have to sit in their car for hours when on surveillance.
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!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Stupidity Should Cause Physical Pain

Thanks to Miguel Gonzalez, I was exposed to this inanity from Maggie Morris, a student at MSU and a member of SACRED (Springfield Area Coalition for Responsibility, Equity & Dignity):
"There is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. As a society, we are technically free to express ourselves without regard for the mental or emotional well-being of others. But if the best defense for a statement is that it isn’t technically illegal to express, where is the benefit? What does it accomplish? Why should we as individuals tolerate language and attitudes which harm the unity of our society?"
Maggie, you're absolutely right; we need the government to determine what kind of speech is hateful and forbidden. President Trump should create a panel of censors to determine what language is permitted, and this commission should be staffed with people like Rush Limbaugh, Dana Loesch, Ben Shapiro, Sarah Palin, and Milo Yiannopoulos.

[waits for hysterical screeching to abate]

No? You don't like that? Then maybe you should rethink your position on the government dictating what can and cannot be said in our society.

In fact, here's an idea: Always consider how your opponents could use a law against you before you advocate for its implementation. 

Oh, who am I kidding? These are the same people who will declare that "Trump is literally Hitler!" and then in the same breath demand that "Only the government should have guns!" ...because if you're fighting "literally Hitler", it's totes sensible to be disarmed first, right?

Being stupid should cause physical pain. Not injury, mind you, but pain intense enough that it can't be ignored. I'm thinking taser-level pain, where it stops you dead in your tracks and it hurts like hell, but has no lasting effects except maybe a bloody nose from falling on your face or soiled pants from when you lost bowel control.  Pavlovian conditioning to stop stupidity would benefit humanity more than anything else I can think of.

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