Monday, April 29, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 050: NRAAM 2019

In This Episode:
  • This is a show done live from Weer'd and Erin's AirBnB. It isn't as structured as others,  but we do have a big surprise for you!

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

My UMW 2A Day Presentation

For those of you who were unable to watch the livestream of my 2nd annual "2A Day" presentation at the University of Mary Washington, I present to you a recorded version thereof. Be sure to stay for the panel Q&A afterwards!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 049: The Rough Cut

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about the Bumpstock ban and the widespread non-compliance with it;
  • Oddball talks about New York's definition of a "Gravity Knife" and how that law is applied today;
  • Weer'd brings us part 1 of his fisk on the New Zealand press conference discussing the nation's sweeping gun bans;
  • and Sean Sorrentino brings us a guest post talking about that time he attempted to upgrade the trigger on his Ruger Mk III.

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Unknown Armies Episode 5

As you may have noticed, I enjoy giving my NPCs interesting voices. I might not be able to do an adequate impression of someone, but at least it sounds distinct when they speak.

I was disappointed that the evening ended when it did, but we were a player short and another one was crashing from fatigue, so it really couldn't have gone on longer.

I'm also not sure when we'll play again, since next week I'll be in Virginia giving a speech for UMW's second annual 2A Day, and the week after that I'll be in Indianapolis for the NRA Annual Meeting. So I guess sometime in May?

Regardless, enjoy the episode!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Making Sense of Star Trek 2: Classes Defined

See part 1 here.

What's a destroyer? Is it larger than a frigate or smaller? What purpose does it serve within a fleet? These are the kinds of questions that this article will attempt to answer. But first, a few caveats:
  1. I am not an expert on naval terminology. However, this isn't that big a deal, because...
  2. ... a lot of naval terms aren't consistent even within the same country's navy, let alone across the fleets of different nations. 
  3. There's a difference between surface ships and space ships, obviously, including their roles. 
  4. Therefore, this article's purpose is make sense of Starfleet and to be internally consistent throughout, not to be consistent with other navies. 
  5. I'm going to be using military terminology (because navies are military) which may be a little jarring to some people who believe the fiction that Starfleet isn't a military. 
Classes, Listed
Starting with the smallest actual warp-capable vessel and going to largest:
  • Fast Attack Craft
  • Corvettes
  • Frigates
  • Destroyers
  • Cruisers
  • Capital Ships

DISCLAIMER: In no way is this chart canonical.
It is, however, the best reference I've found so far. 

Classes, Defined

Fast Attack Craft
On Earth we know these as Gunboats, Patrol Boats, Torpedo Boats, etc. In Star Trek, they are shuttle-sized ships that have warp capability, phasers and/or torpedoes, and a crew of 1-2. FACs have a high impulse speed due to their small mass, but their warp speed is based upon their mission. For example, a FAC designed for patrol will have a lower-rated warp rating, trading maximum speed for endurance, whereas a FAC meant for high-speed attack will be capable of much faster bursts of speed but for a much smaller amount of time, greatly reducing its range. 

Examples of this are the Federation attack fighter and Maquis fighters, as well as the Danube-class Runabout when equipped with a weapons pod. 

Corvettes are the first of what you would consider actual ships instead of "boats" or "craft". They have a bridge instead of a cockpit, a captain* instead of a pilot, and an actual crew complement, but they are still quite small in comparison to typical Starfleet ships. Compared to other ships, corvettes are lightly armed and armored (this includes shield strength) and are suited only for specialized roles. Within those roles, they do an exemplary job, but outside of them they are completely inadequate.

Examples are the Maquis Raider and the Oberth-class science vessel. A Klingon Bird of Prey might be a corvette, depending on which size it is; see Bird of Prey Size Paradox
* By which I mean "holding the position of ship's captain" rather than "holding the rank of Captain". An actual Captain would not be in command of such a small ship; it's far more likely that this would be the first command of a Commander. See Starfleet Commissioned Officer ranks for more information. 

While the corvette is the smallest class of ship, the frigate is the smallest ship you'd want to take into battle. In fact, it's the smallest of the Ships of the Line, "the Line" referencing a wet-navy tactic of the 17th to 19th century in which ships would form in columns (aka The Line) and sail past each other while delivering volley fire from their broadside cannons.

Being warships, frigates effectively outgun anything that doesn't belong to another military; however, being lightly armed, they don't do well against heavier military ships unless there are a lot more frigates than enemy ships. Fortunately, frigates are rather easy to build, which means that wolfpack or swarm tactics are an effective option. In a defensive role, they make great escort ships, either protecting merchant convoys or screening, which is preventing other ships (FACs, corvettes, and possibly larger ships if there are enough frigates) from overwhelming the larger, slower ships in the fleet. In peacetime, frigates make excellent anti-piracy patrollers and long-distance scouts.

Examples are the USS Kelvin and the Hermes and Saladin classes. Based on its size and crew complement, the Saber-class is probably also a frigate.

A destroyer can be summed up as "an average warship". It has good speed, endurance, weapons and defenses, but it is slower than a frigate (which it outguns) and faster than a cruiser (which outguns it). As the name says, the purpose of destroyers is to destroy things, and usually those things are specified within the ship's mission. For example, some destroyers might be optimized to battle swarms of smaller craft like FACs but be unable to hold their own against frigates; others might be glass cannons, designed to destroy larger vessels but unable to defend themselves effectively. Pairing a destroyer with several frigates makes a useful fighting element where the strengths of one class compensate for the weaknesses of the other.

The USS Defiant is both an excellent and terrible example of the class. On the one hand, it is specifically designed to destroy ships larger than itself; on the other hand, it is both smaller than expected (sized more like a frigate) and punches well above its weight (it fights more like a cruiser). The USS Prometheus is also likely a destroyer, although its size in comparison to other Starfleet vessels, as well as its crew complement, is unknown; this assumption is based on the ship being designed for "deep space tactical missions", i.e. battle, and its ability to split into three elements for said battle.

Other examples are hard to come by, as the writers of Star Trek like to think that Starfleet isn't a military and therefore don't have dedicated warships, the Defiant and Prometheus notwithstanding. However, hazarding a guess based on ship size, crew complement, and armament that even the Enterprise lacks -- dual aft torpedoes and fore/aft "mega phasers" affixed to the weapons "rollbar" -- the Miranda-class USS Reliant could be a large destroyer. Ships of similar volume and known to be used in wartime are the USS Centaur and the Constellation-class.

The Pasteur is another good atypical example; even though its size makes it more like a light cruiser, its highly specialized mission as a hospital ship (i.e. a destroyer that doesn't destroy anything) means it relies on support ships for protection in fleet operations.

Interestingly enough, cruisers are hard to define in terms of size because in both real life and in Star Trek there are several types of cruiser: light, medium, and heavy (sometimes known as battlecruisers or "pocket battleships"). In light of this I have chosen to define a Starfleet cruiser as "any starship larger than a destroyer which is capable of operating independently of a fleet or other support vessels for a sustained period of time." Cruisers have a good mix of offensive and defensive capabilities (see "operate independently") and can be good "jack-of-all-trades" ships.

The ur-example of a Starfleet cruiser is the Constitution-class USS Enterprise, and the Excelsior might have been a heavy cruiser of its time (if so, it's a perfect representation of the pocket battleship); in the TNG era, the increased size of ships would result in it being downgraded to a medium cruiser at best. Intrepid-class explorers are an excellent example of a TNG-era light cruiser, with both the Ambassador and Akira classes filling the role of medium cruiser and Nebula-classes as heavy cruisers.

Capital Ships
This is another name which is sure to cause dissension within the ranks of hard-core Star Trek aficionados, but what else would you call the Enterprise-E, a ship bristling with planet-busting weapons and by itself able to turn the tide of battle against a Borg cube, or its even larger predecessor the Enterprise-D? These ships are unquestionably the flagship of any fleet action and often have battle groups built around them.
"These characteristics define a capital ship: if the capital ships are beaten, the navy is beaten. But if the rest of the navy is beaten, the capital ships can still operate. Another characteristic that defines capital ships is that their main opponent is each other." - William S. Lind, America Can Win, p. 90
The capabilities of capital ships are well-known thanks to seven seasons of The Next Generation and subsequent movies. Their main drawbacks are being slower than smaller ships (the Enterprise-E has a maximum speed of Warp 8) and a vulnerability to being swarmed by smaller vessels. Even with their ability to engage multiple opponents at once, too many ships can overwhelm their defense grid if they are attacked on multiple vectors simultaneously. Eventually a capital ship becomes a large, slow-moving target, and while some of the swarming ships will undoubtedly be destroyed, enough will get through and do damage. After all, that's how the Federation defeated the Borg cube in First Contact.

In my next post I'll show my work and explain how all of this ties in to Prelude to Axanar

Monday, April 8, 2019

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 048 Take 2: Technical Incompetents

In This Episode:
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about several wins for the Second Amendment in the last few weeks;
  • Weer'd brings us part 2 of his fisk of Dr. Joseph Sakran's testimony in favor of universal background checks in the House hearing on gun violence;
  • Oddball gives us his take on knife clips and the the pros and cons of their orientation;
  • and David tells us more of his horror stories as a gun armorer.
Listen to the episode here.

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Show Notes

Main Topic
Weer’d Audio Fisk

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

I'm a model, you know what I mean / And I do my little turn on the catwalk

So, this is happening.

I'm honored, and flattered, and more than a little intimidated to be a part of this, especially since all of the other women who are participating are freaking gorgeous. Hell, even the men look better than I do!

Also, I am legitimately befuddled to be called an icon. I can't be that important -- I don't even have a Wikipedia page!

Anyway, if you'd like to attend the Concealed Carry Fashion Show in Indianapolis, it's on Saturday, April 27 (NRAAM weekend). The doors open at 5 pm, the event starts at 6:30, and it lasts until 8 pm.

The tickets cost $40 each, which I know is significant, but it benefits two Second Amendment charities: the Indiana State Rifle & Pistol Association and REALIZE Firearms Awareness Coalition.

Go here to buy your ticket:

The Fine Print

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

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