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Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Picture Worth About 162 Words

I'm phoning it in this week. My granddad died Saturday, I think I'm getting a sinus infection, I just installed Windows 10 and I seem to have misplaced OpenOffice, so I'm going to leave you all with a picture gleaned from the comments section of a recent Gawker article regarding ousted Reddit CEO Ellen Pao and their narrative that it was rampant misogyny that drove her out.

"Pending Approval."

That's the sound of a narrative breaking in the head of someone that was Listen and Believe-ing hardcore. Gawker's in flames, and their only hope is trying to pretend everyone's surprised that a 60 year old man said something racist years ago. Here's hoping Hogan's lawyers leg-drop them through the judge's bench. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WNW: Guided Meditation

It's bad enough that I have this thing going on where my mind blanks on the proper names for things. But now I'm having trouble typing coherently. In an email I wrote "Ye I fond hat" rather than "Yes, I found that."

Said one wag on Facebook: When you find that fond hat, you'll find your mind - it's inside the hat. Well, that makes as much sense as anything else in my life.

But instead of starting to worry that there's something neurologically wrong with me, I will listen to Fuck That: A Guided Meditation.

No, seriously, give it a listen. It's surprisingly relaxing. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Random Thoughts about the IISS

Because someone on the Traveller Facebook group posted a picture that caused me to riff, here are just my idle musings about the Scouts in no particular order.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.

Scout service uniform colors are officially silver and flat dark earth, with imperial red accents. Ostensibly, these colors are supposed to be symbolic:
  • Silver represents the unknown void of space, both jump- and regular. (The Imperial Navy already laid claim to black, and silver is more romantic in a dreamy, nebulaic* sort of way.
  • Flat dark earth represents fertile soil -- both the soil of home, and that of new planets Scouts seek to find. 
  • Imperial red represents the sacrifices made by all Scouts, and wearing this color honors their service and memory.
* NO, I don't mean nebulous. I literally meant "like a nebula". 

These are the official reasons. However, during long missions older scouts like to tell junior members this plausible tale: 

"Tenderfoot, you stay on expedition long enough and soon all your clothes end up looking the same colors. All that dirt, all that washing in recycled water, and pretty much all the colors fade to a dull gray-white and all your whites acquire a sweaty beige grunge. And some fool will invariably leave something red in the wash and give everything a pink tinge. So the Eagles on Sylea, knowing what Scouts get up to and what we give a damn about, decided that they'd make the official uniform in un-faded colors to begin with. This way, we're still considered 'in uniform' no matter how long we've been in the field."

Typical Scout service fatigues look a bit like the picture above (replace the black with flat dark earth, add some red trim on collars, shoulders and sleeves, and subtract the strange dangly bits). They are basically a utility jumpsuit with a slightly dressier coat that can be tossed on to look presentable. The jumpsuit fits comfortably under a tailored vacc suit.

Senior Scouts wear white uniforms, with the connotation being that they were in the field so long that everything faded. This is not always true, however (see slang). 

Special Operations Scouts do not have a distinctive uniform. 

  • The proper term for a rookie Scout is Tenderfoot.
  • Especially competent scouts are (informally) known as Badgers.
  • Senior Scouts are referred to as Eagles. This is allegedly because they are the most competent and a comparison is being drawn to the ancient, respected Fraternal Order of Eagle Scouts. 
    • But to anyone in the field, being called an Eagle is a sign of derision: an eagle considers itself above everything else, and its feces always falls on everything below it. 

Naming Conventions
(Some parts reprinted from a previous article)

The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service frequently makes reference to what we would consider pop culture -- frequently science fiction and fantasy. From their perspective, naming a ship out of something from Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica is just as literary and honorable as NASA naming the first space shuttle Enterprise or the US Navy naming the first nuclear powered submarine after Jules Verne's Nautilus.So if you ever encounter an IISS ship named Thunderbird 3, you ought to know you're dealing with someone who has a respect for the ancient cultural roots of space exploration.

This frequently results in Scouts trying to, essentially, out-nerd each other. Sure, every Scout worth his vacc suit knows what the Delta Flyer is -- but meet one with a ship named Nell and he'll look at you with an expression of "Eh? Eh???" to see if you get it.  If you do, he's impressed; if you don't, he scores social "coup" and you're forced to listen to him explain the mythological roots of the name while you buy the drinks. 

This does however lead to certain unfortunate names, as Scouts attempt to one-up each other. Naming a courier ship Boom Tube is worth a giggle once (twice if it's being used by SpecOps) but it's generally not that funny or clever after that. Naming the Stellar-class liner assigned to an expedition as mobile hospital and R&R ship Cloud 9, however, turns you into the Scout version of someone who thinks its funny to pass gas in elevators or throw rocks at birds of good omen. But naming a Purcell-class Xboat Tender Kearny-Fuchida? That's pure gold.

Scouts -- like all explorers -- are properly superstitious about their ships, and so there is a formalized ritual for un-naming and then re-naming a ship. I imagine it goes something like this.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gun Accessories I Still Need to Review

I'm writing this post because I need to get into the swing of writing again, and because putting a "to-do" list here ought to help nag me into doing them. It also serves as a sort of "coming attractions" post, and if it encourages folks to go Oooh yes! I really want to know what you think about [product]!, that will only help to accelerate the process. 

In no particular order:

I got this in late April, and needed to tinker with it a bit to get it to accommodate the bent bolt I received for my birthday in March. By the time that happened, it had become too stinky hot to make a trip to the rifle range comfortable. 

I've shot it a few times, but I really want to put at least 100 rounds through the rifle with this new stock before I can write a proper review, and that needs to wait until the weather cools off or I get access to an indoor range that will let me shoot 7.62x54R. 

I bought this at NRAAM this spring, and aside from fooling around with it at home, I haven't used it (see: stinky hot weather). I very much like what I see, though, and I look forward to trying it out with my .22 boltie. 

Various LaserLyte Goodies
Hoo-boy, I have a bunch of these. 
  • Red Center Mass Laser: I mentioned this when I reviewed the green CML last month. I just need to carve out some time to grab my mom's PMR-30 and go to the indoor pistol range to give it a try. I expect good things of it.
  • Laser Trainer Pistols: For sake of completeness, I will be reviewing both the trainer pistol with integral laser and the removable laser cartridge (AKA the LT-PRO) that fits into any gun, including the Trigger Tyme training pistol. Expect a head-to-head, compare & contrast review. 
  • Laser Targets: Another compare and contrast, this time between the no-frills Laser Trainer Target and the much-frillier Score Tyme
  • Laser Plinking Cans:  I could probably review these now, but I feel like I really ought to review the laser trainer pistols first. They are, however, a heck of a lot of fun, and my only complaint is that the fun is over too quickly. 
What's really slowing me down with a review of the trainer pistols and targets is that it's hard to talk about targets without discussing lasers, or lasers without discussing targets, and it's threatening to turn into a massive review where I talk about them all at once. 

My newest acquisition, I haven't really had time to play with it. I'll likely take it to the range the same time I test the Red CML and try them both out on the same pistol (as it's the only pistol we have that possesses an accessory rail, it's a no-brainer).

I will probably end up reviewing the two pistol lasers first, followed by the trainers, and then the Archangel stock and bipod sticks last. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #49

Here's Episode 49 of your weekly GunBlog VarietyCast!

Included in this week's episode:
  • Adam and Sean tell you what podcasts we listen to. We listen to a lot of podcasts. You should too. But listen to us first!
  • Erin Palette talks poison plants with a quick primer on disease prevention in Gotham City.
  • Even Nicki Kenyon will eventually bow to peer pressure. You've been asking her to talk about Iran, so she finally does.
  • Our Special Guest, Reverend Kenn Blanchard tells us about this one time he found himself in deep, deep water and needed a miracle.
  • Barron B considers the Ashley Madison hack and what could have motivated it.
  • And Weer'd points out how the anti-gunners have gone beyond their usual lies and have started slandering the rest of us.
Thanks for downloading, listening and subscribing. Like and share us on Facebook, and don't forget to tell a friend.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
A special thanks to our sponsor, the Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off the best legal self defense training you can get.

Friday, July 24, 2015

SHTFriday: Poisonwoods and Death-Apples

Today at Blue Collar Prepping, I give one of my patented "Erin Palette Infodumps" where I talk about some nasty plants in North America that only want to make you miserable.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Salem Watches a Movie: The Indelible Ant-Man

Warning: what is this, a spoiler for ants?

Ant-Man, the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is not a big, flashy event movie like an Avengers or Iron Man title would be. The events don’t, at least at first glance, hold earth-shaking implications for the greater narrative of the MCU. Startling revelations are not made about previously beloved characters.

And you know what? That's OK. It's exactly what it needs to be. After the last few films it's nice to get a fun little flick that works on a few levels and doesn't amp up the adrenaline level of the MCU.

Like most Marvel films, Ant-Man is primarily a genre film first, with added superhero panache. Like Winter Soldier was a spy film with superheroes, Thor was a fantasy film with superheroes, and Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera with superheroes, Ant-Man is a tight, competent heist movie with superheroes (and shades of the old 50s giant insect movies). It's certainly not on the level of The Italian Job or Ocean's Eleven (or even Ocean's Twelve), it does its job well and retains the trademark Marvel sense of fun while displaying a level of technical storytelling that wouldn't be present in one of the event films like Age of Ultron. While Age of Ultron brought us “Bad guy uses space metal to lift a city and drop it in an extinction-level event,” Ant-Man instead gives us “Reluctant criminal uses liquid nitrogen to expand the door and locking mechanism of a safe and blow it open.”

The character work in this film in interesting as well, as it brings us a new take on a hero. Paul Rudd's Scott Lang is a bit of a fuckup. Like Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, he's very good at what he does, but unlike Star Lord is nowhere near the master criminal he'd like to think he is, as evidenced by the opening scenes showing him being released from San Quentin, and then later being arrested twice, once even in the Ant-Man suit. There's something really humanizing about the protagonist being someone who really just wants to do the right thing but constantly goes about it the wrong way.

Michael Douglas (finally!) brings us the Marvel Universe's most maligned super-genius, Hank Pym, and adds a really interesting human touch as a much older character (even having an altercation with Howard Stark and an aged (but lovely) Peggy Carter in the opening) who is a driven scientist and neglectful father filled with regret over a tragedy in his life. His daughter, Hope Van Dyne (portrayed by Evangeline Lily, who I don't think I've ever seen in anything before), is bitter and angry, and as we learn by the end of the film, has every right to be. 

Aside from the continuity nod to Howard Stark and Peggy Carter, there's an appearance by The Falcon, making up for the disappointment of not seeing him in action on Age of Ultron, with a proper throw-down between he and Lang. This is probably the best and most blatant bit of fan-service in the film: a throwback to the superhero crossovers of comics, where two heroes meet, fight, and team up... only this one is without the team-up. The fight is fantastic, utilizing both Falcon's and Ant-Man's power sets well, especially with Lang ending it by straight-up cheating.

Ant-Man is not a driving narrative piece of the MCU, but I feel it's what we need right now. A smaller story, with a few ties to the other, larger pieces and a chance to catch our breath after Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Age of Ultron one right after the other, and Civil War in May of next year. And speaking of Civil War – stay after the credits. You'll see some familiar faces. 

Pictured: Team Ant. Seriously, how does this keep happening? 
Seriously. Go see Ant-Man. It's fun, it's down-to-earth and fantastical at the same time, and it's really good. 

And keep an eye on Hank Pym's key-chain.  

The Fine Print

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