Thursday, September 30, 2021

My Toons, Let Me Show You Them: Palette

Wow, I can't believe I've never talked about my first level 50 on City of Heroes, my namesake Palette. 

She wasn't my first character, but she was the first character I played as me, i.e. she was the character I made when I gave myself permission to explore the possibility that I was transgender. "I'll make and play a girl character," I told myself, "and see how long it takes for someone to accuse me of being a guy."

That never happened, of course, and that's how I'm here today. It just seemed fitting, then, that I honor her by taking part of her name as my own for my new life. 

I am really, really pleased with how this came out. 

Her biography is a lot more simple than some of my other characters, partly because I created her when there was a much shorter word count allowed and partly because I was still learning to write well. Still, I think I captured the spirit of the Mighty Marvel Capsule History:
A bohemian artist of the surrealist style, Sarah McLughan was accidentally sucked into one of her own painted landscapes. She soon realized that her paintings were, in fact, mental gateways to other dimensions, though she isn't sure if she creates a new world each time she paints, or if her paintings come from clairvoyant visions. She now uses her connection to the realms of chaos to disorient criminals by scrambling their senses with synesthesia.

Oh, and her art? A critic once described it as "A cross between Dali and Escher, on an acid trip." Sales are good. 
If you know me and you know my taste in fiction, you can instantly see an homage to the Chronicles of Amber and their use of tarot-esque cards to travel between dimensions. This doesn't mean that Palette was specifically an Amberite... but I wasn't ruling it out, either. I wanted to keep things open-ended. 

Later on, my character discovered the Shadow Shard, a land of illusion, and I thought "Hey, maybe Palette's from there." Then the game introduced Praetorian content, and I liked the highly magical vibe of Night Ward, and... well, you get the idea. I went through a bunch of origins for her, and none of them felt especially right... or especially wrong, either. 

At this point, I enjoy and embrace the ambiguity. It seems fitting, and it mirrored my quest to get her costume right. Not "just right", but merely "right". Oh, my original concepts were horrible. No, I don't have them saved, they were that bad. I was trying to make her costume represent synesthesia, and that just didn't work out at all. Eventually I just went with pink and purple, because 1) pink and purple and Palette are all p words, and 2) the colors matched that of her powers (this was long before the game allowed us to customize the colors of our powers).

For those curious, her main powerset is Illusion Control, which is explained in the game as "You can manipulate light and sound to manifest all sorts of Illusions, aiding your allies as well as deceiving your foes," but I always imagined her powers as "Synesthesia, but cranked up to 11."  

With regular synesthesia, your senses are cross-connected, such that numbers have colors or sounds have tastes. This is a quirky bit of neurology, but to my knowledge people with synesthesia don't suffer from it. 

BUT! Imagine if it were to come upon you unawares, strong and sudden, while you were trying to do something highly stressful like, I dunno, rob a bank or something. Suddenly the sound of the bank alarm is generating flashes of light which obstruct your vision, and the tastes of all the differently-colored numbers turns your stomach, and the screams of the bank tellers makes your skin feel like it's on fire. I imagine it would be terribly disorienting and painful to have your senses amplified and cross-connected in a manner which you couldn't process. You'd probably fall down and curl into a twitching ball. 

That's why I made her an illusion controller, and that's why I named her Palette: because of the palette of colors, sounds, and sensations she had at her disposal. She's a strange hero, and quirky in the fine tradition of B-class heroes (more quirky than The Question, less quirky than Ambush Bug) and I like her just the way she is. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

You Have Milk

It's 1997. Rammstein's most popular song has debuted, and I know just enough German to be dangerous. 

My friends and I hear the music on the radio for the first time, and we start headbanging. Then the lyrics begin, and I start laughing so hysterically that I have difficulty breathing. 

When I've recovered my composure enough to explain to my friends why I'm pissing myself with laughter, I explain "Du Habst Milch" in German translates to "You Have Milk" in English. 

Not once do I ask myself "Why would a hardcore German metal band write a song proclaiming that someone has milk?"  No, I just take it as a given, because in my world this makes perfect sense. 

Needless to say, I was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED to learn that the actual lyrics were "Du Hast Mich" which, translated, means "You Have/Hate Me". *

I still prefer my version of events.

* Before anyone gets all "Well, akshually" on me, let me explain that the song is more complex than people realize. 

  • Du Hast = You Have
  • Du Hasst = You Hate 
Hasst and Hast sound a lot alike, especially when sung aloud. 

Also consider that the chorus, Willst du bist das tod euch scheidet, treue sein fur alle tagen, which means "Will you stay true to each other for all of your days until death separates you," is the German version of wedding vows, including "Till death do you part." 

Put it all together and it's pretty clear that, as someone said on Facebook, the song is clever wordplay regarding the dichotomy of love and hate in marriage. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 171: Precedent is a Powerful Thing


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss:
    • The recent school shooting in Russia and the gun control laws that failed to prevent it;
    • The massive influx of new gun owners and some of their vital statistics;
    • The ruling by a US Military Appeals Court that bumpstocks aren't machine guns,  and what this holds for the future.
  • Next, Sean Sorrentino gives more detail on last week's story where Grassroots North Carolina called for disciplinary action against an anti-gun State Senator;
  • and David geeks out on cartridge cases and primers, and what makes them unique and interesting.

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Show Notes

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Gun Rights Policy Conference 2021

Due to the issues with getting my father into a nursing home for the period of February through mid-August of this year, I was unable to record a video for the Gun Rights Policy Conference this year. 

However, you should watch this year's GRPC anyway! The SAF and the Gottliebs have been good friends to me and to Operation Blazing Sword, and I hope you will continue to support them as they fight for our 2nd Amendment rights.

There are five videos in the playlist. This is the first, and the others will auto-play in order. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 170: The Mutineers


In This Episode
  • Erin and David get a jump on Talk Like a Pirate Day by having a mutiny!
  • ... but Weer'd is allowed to return to talk about a 2A North Carolina Group demanding censure on a lying anti-gun politician.
  • We observe the final installment of Chipman Watch!
  • Xander brings us his Independent Thoughts on fear and politics;
  • David discusses the lesser-known Dardick pistol and its strange Tround ammunition;
  • and finally, Matt from Geeks Gadgets and Guns tells a story of an experienced gun owner who was complacent and paid the price.

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

Sunday, September 19, 2021

My Body, My Choice: Comparing Abortion to Lethal Self-Defense

Let's kick the hornet's nest right into the bubbling cauldron of poop and give it a good stir, shall we? 

"Erin, what are your thoughts on abortion?"

To me, speaking only for myself, the opinions I express are not that of any organization, etc etc, so on and so forth: Abortion carries the same weight as shooting someone in self defense. It's not something I ever want to do, but if the worst ever happens, I want it to be legal and available to me.

If I ever have to kill someone in self-defense, I'm pretty sure it'll mess me up psychologically, but it's better than me dying.

If I ever have to abort my child to save the life of my wife, I'm pretty sure it'll mess me up psychologically. But it's better than her and the child dying.

Some things are awful but need to be kept legal because the alternatives are more awful.

This, by the way, is why I despise abortions of convenience. Homicide to save a life is justified, but homicide because "I don't want to suffer the consequences of my actions" is reprehensible. That said, see the previous paragraph before you get mad.

I don't ever want to abort a child... but if it's necessary, I want it to be legal, I want it to be a viable option, and I want regulated and licensed professionals (i.e. members of the medical system) backing up my decision and giving me support. 

I don't ever want to kill someone in self-defense... but if it's necessary, I want it to be legal, I want it to be a viable option, and I want regulated and licensed professionals (i.e. members of the legal system) backing me up and giving me support. 

"My body, my choice" also includes "My choice in how I protect my body."

"But Erin, what about pregnancies resulting from rape and incest?"

I'm not those pregnant people, and so I'm not going to decide for them what's right and what's wrong.

Is it fair to force a woman (or worse, a minor) to carry the child of her assailant for 9 months, a constant reminder of her assault? Of course it isn't.

Is it fair to an unborn child to be terminated through no fault of its own? Of course it isn't.

Both choices are awful, and (thankfully) it's not my problem, so I leave that decision to the affected parties. It's between them, their consciences and whatever God(s) they have, and it's none of my business because I don't know all the facts and the decision doesn't affect me. 

Again, for those in the back: Some things are awful but need to be kept legal because the alternatives are more awful.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. 

I'm certain this post will elicit a lot of heated discussion, so here are the ground rules:
  1. If you're rude, your comment won't be approved. 
  2. Benefit of the doubt will be given to people who post under proper accounts. Comments from anonymous people may or may not see the light of day, according to my whim. 
  3. Attack the argument, not the person. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Blue Check Erin?

 So the other day I received this notification on Facebook:

I found this funny, because this is the same platform which censured me for daring to suggest that people who were committing arson should be shot to prevent such arson in the first place. But hey, let's find out what it takes to be a Bluecheka, maybe it will help me get my message out to more people. So let's click on Start Request...

"Please attach government-issued photo ID that shows your name and date of birth."

Yeah, that's a "No" from me, dawg. Even if my photo ID didn't have my deadname on it, I still wouldn't do it, because no way no HOW do I just give Facebook, Facebook's employees, Facebook's employees' spouses, and anyone else associated with Facebook a way to collect personal information about me that could be used to violate my privacy or screw with my credit or expose my location to others. 

They'll just have to buy my information from the Chinese like everyone else. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 169: Cuomover (Cuomo is Over)


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the veto of the North Carolina Pistol Purchase Permit, and then a potential mass shooting in New York that was foiled by a concealed weapon holder and the anti-gun reaction to it;
  • David gives a history of the political career and downfall of Governor Andrew Cuomo;
  • and then Xander gets lost and is found again, and he brings us his independent thoughts on GPS.

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Show Notes

Main Topic: 

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers

Friday, September 10, 2021


Ever wonder why the name Spider-Man is hyphenated and Superman isn't? Me too, all the time. I have no idea why other than it just looks right when hyphenated and wrong otherwise, although perhaps that's because I've only ever seen it as Spider-Man and not Spiderman or Spider Man. 

As an aside, I am now obligated to post this:

So in a similar way, I feel like Flash-Over just plain looks better as a superhero name than does Flashover, even though the latter is the proper spelling of the thermal event wherein most of the directly exposed combustible material in an enclosed area simultaneously ignites due to a significant heat increase. 

Yes, I was watching a lot CSI: Crime Scene Investigation when I first made this character back in 2004. Sue me. 
Yes, she's wearing heels. She flies, so it doesn't matter how impractical they are. 
Rebekah Koenig was a scientist studying tissue and DNA samples of flame-based heroes in the hopes of understanding their biology. One night, a gang of Hellions attacked the lab, seeking to increase their flame powers with Rebekah's discoveries. They assaulted and poured chemicals over her, then callously set her on fire. Little did they know that previously that night, Rebekah had managed to isolate the "flame gene" and had replaced a hero's DNA with her own! The solution bonded to her, and while she was engulfed in flames, she was not harmed. Pity the same couldn't be said for the Hellions...

Rebekah the meek researcher is no more. Now a thrill-seeker, hot-tempered and vengeful, she has left the secluded life of research behind her. Taking her name from the event that transformed her, she now brings cleansing fire to the streets of Paragon City. In her Secret ID, she now works as an arson investigator and volunteer firefighter.

Flashie is my first blaster, and she is all fire, all the time (Fire Blast/ Fire Manipulation/ Flame Mastery). Fire draws an impressive amount of aggro with its area of effect attacks, making it one of the most dangerous power sets to the character. She compensates for this by being a cackling whirlwind of mad destruction, and fights are over very VERY quickly. She's completely nuts to play and the destruction she wreaks is quite cathartic.  

I absolutely love her costume. It's simple, it's straightforward, it's badass like a hot rod and it wouldn't look out of place in any comic book from the 1960s to today. 

In case you're wondering, the doohickeys on her arms and shoulders are thermal regulators. You don't want someone with a fiery temper and fire powers to literally set things on fire just because she's having a bad day, so they act as a heat sink to give her brain time to override her reactions. They also help control and direct her flames the way she wants, because otherwise she'd just be emitting plasma unidirectionally like the sun. She has smaller units for when she's in her secret ID (less need for magnetic direction means a smaller profile). They attach to her using rare-earth magnets and are controlled through a hardwired neural interface beneath her skin that links to her brain at the base of her skull. 

If any part of that doesn't make sense, just understand it's comic-book super-science and leave it at that. 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 168: This Is Our Shocked Face


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d discuss the cancellation of the NRA Annual Meeting and its implications;
  • David talks about how and why you might want to make a chamber casting of a firearm;
  • and finally, Weer'd revisits the debate between Colion Noir and John Rosenthal to fisk the anti-gun talking points that Colion missed.

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Show Notes

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Good Stuff from an Away Game


I am hilarious, and if you're not laughing your ass off at this, well, you're wrong. 

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