Monday, January 31, 2022

Why I won't be attending LTUE 2022 (and likely won't be invited back)

 It pains me to make this announcement, but I will not be attending this year's Life, the Universe, & Everything Symposium (LTUE) this year due to the new COVID policy they enacted after they had made their panel selections and I had made my travel arrangements. 

For those who are curious, the policy -- which has proven so divisive that the page has restricted who can comment -- can be found here

My letter to the LTUE committee in response to this new policy was this:

Here is the response to my letter, which came a few hours later. This makes it sound like they are willing to have a dialog with me, and perhaps reach a compromise.

Just for the sake of completeness, here is my reply to the LTUE committee accepting their offer.

Finally, here is their response. You can clearly see that this is not an invitation to dialog, but rather a very firm "No, we aren't interested in what you have to say, and we aren't changing our minds."

Since it was clear they had no interest in discussion or compromise, I have decided to go public with this exchange.

For those of you who have read this far, let me explain why I am taking this position:
  1. My medical records, be they proof of vaccination or the results of a test, are my own business and no one else's. I may, if I wish, share them with medical personnel who are bound by HIPAA regulations. People who run conventions like LTUE are not bound by HIPAA, so in addition to it being none of their business there is no incentive to them to keep my medical information private.
  2. This policy has the potential to harm transgender people. Not every transgender person is able to legally change their name; many still have to file paperwork under their legal birth name. Having to show a test or vaccination paperwork is bad enough, but when the name on the paperwork doesn't match the name of the person submitting it, identification will inevitably need to be produced, forcing the transgender person to "deadname" themselves.
  3. This policy of "papers, please" makes every Jewish person I know uncomfortable for plainly obvious reasons.
  4. Neither the state of Utah nor the hotel where the symposium is being held require the measures LTUE is now requiring. This is something I researched before I booked my flight, as did most people. If this policy had simply been announced well ahead of time, before people made non-refundable travel arrangements, then those of us who objected to it would simply not have attended. However, announcing it a mere month before the symposium is more than an inconvenience; it is a financial hardship for many, and rude besides. Furthermore, LTUE is refusing to issue refunds to those who have purchased memberships, which I am fairly certain is illegal. It's definitely unethical.
  5. LTUE is held every mid-February -- in other words, during cold and flu season. COVID is also firmly entrenched in the biosphere, meaning that it's going to be a part of our lives from now on, persistent and mutating. If I let this go unchallenged, then expect every LTUE from now on to require such proof.
  6. None of this even addresses the utter lunacy of the rest of the policy. They will enforce mask-wearing... except that panelists will take theirs off for speaking! Every LTUE panel I've been on has had speakers sitting next to each other, often sharing microphones. Furthermore, they say they will enforce social distancing, while at the same time not reducing the number of people admitted to the symposium or the number of seats in rooms! This is not a policy grounded in sense. They want to have their proverbial cake (COVID restrictions) and eat it too (full panels and rooms).
I'm sure some of you will think I am in the wrong. That I am being unreasonable. That's your right, just as it's my right to say "No, I will NOT bend the knee. My medical records are private, and to demand them before granting access to a convention is as disgusting as it is to demand a transwoman show her ID before allowing her to use the women's restroom."

I fully expect that this will result in me never being invited to another LTUE Symposium ever again. That will be unfortunate, but it is far more important to me that I be able to live with myself. I became an advocate for the marginalized and unheard in 2016, and even though this is a different situation, the result is the same: I must speak up for those unable to speak for themselves.

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 186: SHOT Show Roundtable Roundup

Disclaimer: I'm not in this episode. 

In This Episode

Weer'd, David, and Oddball sit down to discuss:

  • The Veto of Pennsylvania Constitutional Carry and why it isn't as bad as it sounds;
  • Anti-Gun Groups losing their way;
  • NYSRPA v Bruen, and New York's reaction to what they think is a loser.;
  • and interesting guns and tech from SHOT show!

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

Monday, January 24, 2022

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 185: Good Job, Pennsylvania!


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about an interesting carjacking case from DC, then discuss several gun related stories out of Pennsylvania;
  • David talks about cartridge conversion for semi-auto firearms;
  • and finally, Weer'd fisks Jon Stewart as he peddles gun control.

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

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Weer’d Audio Fisk:

Monday, January 17, 2022

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 184: Nerding Out Over Ammo


In This Episode
  • Erin and Weer’d talk about some recent 2A court cases and then discuss a new device that attempts to defeat the bumpstock ban;
  • David brings us an in-depth review on classes of ammo, and ammo interchangeability;
  • and finally, Weer'd brings us a fisk of a false-flag gun group out of Oregon.

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

Show Notes

Main Topic:

Gun Lovers and Other Strangers:

Weer’d Audio Fisk: 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Assorted Calibers Podcast Ep 183: New Year's Round Table


In This Episode

It’s an ACP Round Table! Join Weer'd, Erin, Oddball, and David as they talk about Second Amendment News, such as:

  • The 2021 "Victories" of the Brady Campaign;
  • New guns hitting the market in 2022;
  • Ruger's new suppressor,
  • a gun prohibition politician being saved by a CCW holder;
  • and more!

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

Saturday, January 8, 2022

V5: Sumerian Vampire Clan Names

So yesterday I had a bit of the Blessed Madness come upon me, and when that happens I must drop everything and chase it because it happens so rarely, and when it does it always gives me really good material. 

So in the lore of Vampire: the Masquerade, the first vampire was Caine, the son of Adam and Eve, and vampirism was his curse for murdering his brother Abel. There's no date on when the first clans emerged, but they are mentioned as developing in the "First City", as in "the first city to ever exist". 

One of the things which has bothered me about V:tM is that even though the vampire clans date back to the dawn of civilization, the names for those clans are very modern in comparison. Toreador, Brujah, and Lasombra are Spanish; Gangrel is Middle English; Ventrue is French. The Latin Salubri is respectably old, and even though Egyptian mythology is older than Roman, the -ite suffix in Setite is Greek. 

In other words, in my extreme nerdery I wanted vampire clans to have names which were as old as they were, even if those original names weren't used any more due to linguistic drift (and the fact that players probably couldn't, and definitely wouldn't, like to use them). So I looked up which language was the oldest, and as it turns out the oldest known written language is Sumerian. This was ideal for my purposes because Sumeria was in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East and therefore meshed perfectly with the Abrahamic origins of V:tM. 

Did you know that there's an online Sumerian dictionary where you can search for words in English? You do now. What's more, most of the words there have pictures of them written in Cuneiform (the written script of the Sumerians, among others -- sort of like how most of the Western world uses the Roman alphabet) and they are delightfully archaic and creepy. You know how in the Blade movies the various vampire houses had cryptic sigils? Well, Cuneiform looks older and creepier, and because it's an actual language it looks more legitimate as well. 

So here are the clans of Vampire: the Masquerade as I think they would have been named during the time of the First City. Because I am a hobbyist scratching at something deeper than I can imagine, I have probably gotten some things wrong. But that's okay, because we aren't looking for accuracy (because vampires don't exist), we're looking for things which are fun and flavorful. 

Canonical Clans

Banu Haqim: Sagaz

Sa-gaz (“Robber; murderer”) 

The Banu Haqim (formerly known in previous editions as Assamites) are a clan of vampires who lust after the blood of other vampires and, in previous editions at least, hired themselves out as assassins who would take as part of their payment the blood of their victim. Therefore, someone who robs and kills seems an excellent fit here. 

Brujah: Ursag

Ur-sag (“Warlike; Hero, Warrior”)

Troile, the founder of the Brujah line, had a mighty temper and a preference for physical altercation. Modern Brujah see themselves as righteous rebels fighting against The Man, they clearly see themselves as heroes. Given all that, I couldn't have picked anything else. 

Cappadocians: Namus

Nam-us (“Death”)

The Cappadocians have always been known as the Clan of Death.

Gangrel: Umaam
U-ma-am (“Beast”)

A clan of shape-shifters who take on bestial features as their humanity slips. 

Lasombra: Gissu

Gissu ("shade, shadow; protection, aegis")

Yay, the clan whose name means "The Shadow" and which has shadow powers has another name which means shadow. Yawn. 

See below for what I picked for my highly non-canonical Lasombra. 

Malkavian: Namigigal

Nam-igi-gal (“Insight”)

I'm very proud of this one, as I couldn't find a translation for "madman" or "seer" or things like this. However, "insight" is a nicely vague word which both compliments their abilities and touches upon their madness (as in "seeing what others do not"). 

Nosferatu: Ludubgara

Lu-dub-gar-ra (“Hunter”)

Abisimilard, the founder of the clan, was known as a mighty and stealthy hunter. 

Ravnos: Dabariri

Da-ba-ri-ri (“Liar, Trickster, Con Artist”)

Regardless of whether you go by the official version of this clan or my own, the fact remains that the Ravnos are distrusted by the rest of kindred society, and so this fits. It's doubtful that the Ravnos themselves would call themselves this, but unlife isn't fair and so if everyone else calls you this, this is what you're called. 

Salubri: Abgal

Ab-gal (“Sage, Priest”)

The easy solution would have been to go with "doctor" or "healer" but I felt that pigeonholed this clan too much. Abgal gives them flavors of wisdom and holiness which were lacking from other names. 

Setites: Musgal
No, I refuse to call them "The Ministry". Go away. 

Mus-gal ("Great serpent")

Y'know, it's funny: the Setites have this whole snake motif going on, yet Set himself has the head of a jackal, not a snake. But then, I think this entire clan is stupid and I'm not going to waste any more time on them. 

Toreador: Ummia

Um-mi-a (“Expert, master craftsman”)

This was another difficult one. I couldn't find a Sumerian word for "artist" or "artisan", or even "beautiful". I found this, though, and I feel that it fits well, for no other clan are experts on art and beauty. 

They don't have a Sumerian name because they didn't exist until 1022 AD. 

Tzimisce: Uzu

Uzu (“Flesh, body, entrails, omen”)

The Tzimisce are a clan of flesh-shapers, but if I'm being honest the real reason I picked this name is because the word looks like a body. 

Also, and I am not joking, there is an actual Sumerian phrase uzu zu kešda gu-mur which means "flesh tooth bind spine" and I can't think of a better way to describe Vicissitude than that. 

Ventrue: Lugal

Lu-gal (“lord; master; owner; king; a quality designation”)

The Ventrue are the Clan of Kings. Self-explanatory.

Non-Canon Clans

Ba'ali: Kurgara

Kur-gar-ra (“Cultic performer”)

As I've mentioned elsewhere,  I hate the Followers of Set and so the demon-worshipping  Ba'ali are the super-evil baddies in my V:tM world. "Cultic performer" is close enough to "cultist" for my taste, and I am tickled that the first character resembles Damien's triple-6 birthmark from The Omen.

Lasombra: Dar
Dar (“To break up, crush, grind; to split, split up; to cut open”)

This is for my non-canonical, not-having-shadow-powers version of the clan which are cancerous corruptors who blackmail people and hollow out organizations in order to control them. I feel that the meaning of this word perfectly encapsulates how I see the Lasombra operating. 

Nagaraja: Sugzag Gu

Sug-zag gu (“To destroy completely” with “gu” meaning “to eat, consume”)

This is for my version of the Nagaraja. The word is interesting because "sugzag gu" as a whole means "to destroy", but the component "sugzag" means "marsh edge" and "gu" means "to eat". This makes me think of a crocodile dragging its prey underwater, never to be seen again and to be devoured at its leisure. This really fits with how I envision the Nagaraja. 

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