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Friday, May 27, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Huffington Post: Not Even Wrong

[Author's note: This was originally written months ago, but due to a failure in communications between myself and my esteemed editor, it went unpublished. It's essentially an emotionally-charged piece that came in the wake of the shooting and its subsequent media fervor that put me off of social media for a short period.]

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I had to take the night off because I was getting tired of seeing propaganda surrounding the San Bernardino shooting coming from every direction. There was such a flurry of agenda-pushing that finally culminated in a masterpiece of gravesquatting from none other than Huffington Post.

In San Bernardino Shooting, Patriarchy Pulled the Trigger.” 

I'm sorry, but you what mate?

There's a concept called “Not even wrong.” The best way to explain it is probably a sports metaphor (or not; I'm terrible with sports): Imagine you're playing baseball, and someone pitches to you. You swing, but instead of a full-on contact with the bat, you only sort of wing it. The ball shoots sideways, hitting the umpire in the solar plexus. As you finish your swing, your grip on the bat gives way and it slides from your fingers, rocketing into the facemask of the catcher and giving him a concussion, as you realize you're in the stadium from Sharknado 2 and a shark lands on you, eating you whole and leaving only bloody cleated shoes at home plate as evidence you were ever there.

Okay, that might have gotten away from me. Let's put it this way. Correct would be to say 2 + 2 equals 4. Wrong would be to say 2 + 2 equals 5. Not even wrong would be to say 2 + 2 equals a shadow conspiracy to oppress 50% of the world's population. So let's take a look at what James Marshall Crotty thinks.
I am all for religious liberty and the freedom to wear whatever you want
No you're not. You're for supporting something that makes you look good to your friends. You're virtue signaling. And let's see if you'd support the freedom to wear a shirt with cartoon ladies on it.
including full-metal burka, but the relatives of American-born, Redlands-residing, "ISIS-sympathizing" (according to Farook's own father) terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook, insult our intelligence when they proclaimed, through their associate attorney, Mohammad Abuershaid, that their "normal" son and his "quiet" and "petite" Pakistani-born Internet bride, Tashfeen Malik, were "living the American dream."
How is this an insult to our intelligence? For decades, when a white dude snaps and kills his entire family before blowing away the population of a local McDonald's, they interview the neighbors who say “He was such a nice, quiet man, we could never imagine him hurting anyone.” To me his sounds like progress, equality. approximate treatment regardless of identity.
As the Los Angeles Times has now reported, every time Farook's extended family visited Mr. Farook and his wife, they saw Ms. Malik completely shrouded in a black burqa, with only her eyes showing. Moreover, at such gatherings, according to Abuershaid, men and women were completely segregated.
Is it not halal to protect her from the male gaze?

See what I did there? Mixing ideologies? Clever, eh? Eh?

Eh... I'll just assume you agreed with me there. If you didn't, it's harassment.
Let me explain something to the Farook family. There is nothing "normal" or "All-American" about segregation of the sexes, let alone women clothed head to toe in a garment where one can only see the woman's eyes. We may tolerate such antiquated behavior here, but it is by no means "normal."
Really? That's awfully judgmental of you, that bit about antiquated behaviour and all. But the segregation thing -- I mean, safe spaces and the talk of women-only train cars and buses -- That's starting to sound a little all-American there. Disappointingly all-American.
Sorry, Mom, but when your "polite" Muslim son is married to a woman you barely know, who hails from an area of Pakistan (Punjab) widely known for its violent Islamic extremism and from a politically influential family widely known for its radical Islamic connections, and who is radically fundamentalist in her own garb and demeanor, and you are not even allowed to access your son's "man cave" (read: bomb factory) in your own home, then, shame on you for your grotesque and enabling incuriosity.
Yeah, mom! This is all your fault for giving your son a space of his own and not intruding on it! Down with man caves!

This part does confuse me, though, because for some reason Huffpo here is, quite problematically, conflating an entire region of a country with its extremists, something that I've seen admonished heavily both on its own site and lots of others, and with good reason: everyone from Muslims to gun owners to gamers to feminists to sport fans know that their bad apples that don't spoil the entire batch, right?

Until that time, we will keep alive this important, but secondary, debate about stricter gun control, better predictive analytics, tighter surveillance, and more rigorous visa waiver and fiancé visa requirements.
So you're endorsing gun control, profiling, violation of privacy, and immigration reform? What website is this, again? I'm so confused.
Unfortunately, in the highly secretive, segregated and patriarchal world of Wahhabist Islam, it was not considered proper to investigate those actions further.
Points here: you actually, for once, correctly identified a Patriarchy. Good job. Now will you, in return, call me an Islamophobe for criticizing it?

But here's the part where Huffpo not only misses the ball but takes out the Umpire in the process: all the evidence in (somehow) less biased reporting seems to point entirely to Malik being the one behind it all, and having been married previously.

I'm fully prepared to believe that a woman can be both inspired to, and capable of, pulling off an act of terror. Now that's what I call progressive!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #92 – Sean Survives Gun Skool

Adam and Sean bring you Episode 92 of The GunBlog VarietyCast!

  • Erin Palette answers Sean's questions about water storage containers;
  • Beth Reoch Alcazar tries to explain pink guns;
  • Silicon Graybeard tells you how to get started in electronics as a hobby;
  • and Weer'd finds another group of moms waging war against guns and calling it a war against gun violence.

Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.

Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:
  • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
  • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Salem Watches A Movie: Captain America: Civil War

Minor spoilers ahead.

Marvel is treading some really interesting ground lately. While the comics are simultaneously being bashed for not being diverse enough and celebrated for changing genders, identities, and races of prominent characters, the movies are quietly slipping in some rather Libertarian-esque ideals, especially in the Captain America films. While the first one was predictably a super-hero war film, the second one was an insightful exploration of governmental surveillance, with SHIELD's Insight helicarriers capable of surveilling and potentially "removing" targets that could question the agenda of the people running them. Similarly, Captain America: Civil War deals with the subject of governmental oversight and Captain Rogers is now two for two in resisting government overreach (violently when necessary), and doing so in a way that presents the topic in a much more effective way than the comics that inspired it did.

Interestingly, there's been an argument that Cap is a soldier, and is clearly in the wrong for disobeying orders. Now I'm no soldier, but I grew up in a military family, but all the same I'll let a soldier debunk that one.

In the comics, there was a tragedy in Stamford, CT that involved a showboating young superhero team, a dangerous villain, and the loss of over six hundred lives which led to a superhuman registration act. In the movie, trainee superhero Wanda Maximoff, recruited at the end of the last Avengers film, is responsible for the accident when she saves Captain America's life by diverting an explosion (that could have killed dozens of people at ground level) not quite far enough into the air to keep it from killing the dozens of people in the building above the market. These events lead to the Sokovia Accords, an attempt to reign in the Avengers under governmental oversight, and both Cap and Tony Stark's team make good arguments for and against it, even having moments where they question their respective decisions. The difference here being that the Superhuman Registration Act of the comics is a clear human rights violation, applying equally to people who operation with self-created enhancements and people born with said enhancements, such as mutants. The Sokovia Accords is much more of a grey area politically, lending Team Stark a much stronger stance.

Marvel films have a formula at this point. They're 12 movies in since Iron Man kicked it off, and they all have similar characteristics: slick character designs that are realistic but pay heavy tribute to their sources, snappy dialogue, and character development that takes place both on and off the battlefield. It's a tribute to the people making the decisions here that, twelve movies in, it doesn't yet feel stale, and there are scenes in this movie that still register a strong emotional response: the fear at Rhodey's "dead stick" moment, Ant-Man's "something big", RDJ's stunning line delivery of "so was I" or meeting Spider-man and Black Panther.

Civil War is both everything we could have hoped for in a super-hero movie, and a fitting chapter in the MCU's story. The only real criticism I have is that this is yet another Marvel film with a weak villain, as has been the norm. (Loki still remains the only well-fleshed out villain in the MCU.) That said, the villain has a good motivation and a brilliant scheme, but we spend so little time with him that he may as well not even be there.

Always #TeamCap
The most surprising thing is that this movie has over a dozen significant characters, and doesn't leave any of them short on screen time, development, or spotlight. Obviously, we're introduced to Spidey and Black Panther in this movie. The former is a big deal because there's been no fewer than five Spider-Man movies in recent history, with only the first two gaining universal acclaim. (For the record, I quite enjoyed the last two, even though they're more or less the least popular.) The general consensus is that Tom Holland's MCU Spidey got everything right that the last 5 movies couldn't, and he did it in maybe 20 minutes of screen time. With the latter, I feel it could be argued that Black Panther is a little overpowered, but then he is one of the most intelligent and capable heroes in the comics as well, so it fits.
All in all, Civil War is an excellent movie. Well worth the price of admission, even if you want to see it in IMAX or 3D. It's fun, it's compelling, and it sets up the next chapters in the MCU well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

So I Guess There's a GunBlog VarietyCast Episode After All - #91

The day after I post "There's no podcast this week", Sean goes and posts a podcast he made at shooting class.


He writes:
"I spent the weekend at Southington Hunt Club training facility taking Safety Solutions Academy's Critical Defensive Handgun class with Paul Carlson. Paul, Ben Rd, and I recorded this special edition of The GunBlog VarietyCast in Southington's "Semi-Pro Shop." Great class, great time, a lot to think about. I'll be giving my thoughts on the class itself in Episode 92. (Spoiler Alert: Worth your time and money) The rest of the gang will be back next week!"

Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here.

Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy has offered a special discount code for listeners. Use discount code “Variety” at checkout and receive 15% off when taking the two day Critical Defensive Handgun class.

Find their schedule here. Very highly recommended by Sean!

Monday, May 16, 2016

There's no Gun Blog Variety Podcast this week

Some of you are no doubt wondering "Where is this week's GunBlog VarietyCast? Did Erin forget to post it?"

Sadly, the answer is "No, I didn't forget. I didn't post a podcast this week because there's no podcast to post." This is because Sean Sorrentino, editor of the GBVC, decided that he'd rather spend his weekend in Ohio getting training at a free gun class for podcasters, so he didn't have time to edit the podcast for distribution.

But before you feel jealous, here's what happened based on his Facebook updates (yes, I have permission to post these):

1) He didn't get a soft bed in a warm hotel room. 
Instead, he slept in a tent on the shooting range.
What the heck is this? A tent? Am I supposed to sleep in that?
2) He had a squib lodge in his barrel. 
So I had a squib. But the next round wouldn't chamber.
Fortunately he noticed it before further damage was done and fixed the issue using percussive maintenance.
All fixed.
3) He got to meet Gun Jesus. 
Okay, that one isn't a bad thing. But can he multiply ammunition like Jesus multiplied bread and fish?
Class being led by ‪#‎GunJesus‬. (Good instructor, BTW)
‪#‎gunschool‬ ‪#‎gun‬‪#‎safetysolutionsacademy‬
4) He stayed up far too late on a cold night.
Oh, sure, he didn't have time to edit GBVC, but he had time to edit an interview.
So it's after 1AM, it's below 40F, and raining.
Why am I editing a podcast in an open pavilion? Going to bed.
(Later) Oh, and 50% chance of snow tomorrow morning (this morning!)
so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

5) It only got worse on Sunday. 
Like the Army says: If it ain't raining, it ain't training.

(Picture of Sean's car removed for Opsec purposes.
With the car redacted it was just a picture of some trees,
so it was deleted.)

I want to make jokes about "being hard" and "suck it Up,"
 but this is rough. We're up to 43F and rain, but we've seen sleet, 
and this sucks. The gun school training is good, 
but the conditions are making it way harder than it needs to be. 
I'm cold and in pain, but focused and safe. 
And I'm spending lunch break in my car warming up.

Apparently there was also snow earlier that morning.

Sean called me on the drive home and said something to the extent of "I'd have given you all of my ammo if I could have slept in a warm bed that night."

So that's why there isn't a GBVC this week. 
(Yes, I just made a post about how I have nothing to post.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Fine Print

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