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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #54

The podcast survived a near catastrophic computer crash while recording the show this week. Sean's computer took a dive off the back of the shelf it sits on and crashed to the floor. But Adam and Sean rallied and finished the show!

Stay tuned after the Stuff That Grinds My Gears segment, where Sean gives his response to DadScribe's blog post "What your NRA Sticker Says About You".

Our Contributors This Week!
  • Erin Palette clues us in to the many alternate uses of duct tape.
  • Nicki Kenyon gives us some insight into a crumbling Venezuela.
  • Special Guest The Unnamed Trucker from The RoadGunner Podcast tells us a story about the difficulty of explaining Massad F. Ayoob to gun store counter jockeys in very rural Arkansas
  • Barron B gives us three great options for wireless routers in the Wee, Not So Wee, and F'kin HUGE! categories.
  • And Weer'd catches Michael Bloomberg's The Trace in yet another lie. This time they're claiming that the UK's largest gun bust in history wouldn't even make the top ten gun bust in the US this year!
Thanks for downloading, listening and subscribing. Please share with a friend, and Like and Share us on Facebook.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
Special thanks to Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" and get 10% off at checkout.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 6: The SPJ Airplay Bomb Threat

Part 1: An Introduction

Part 2: A History Lesson
Part 3: Born in Fire
Part 4: Factions Form
Part 5: The Curious Tale of David Pakman

In Which I Follow Up

Today is the 27th of August, 2015. A year ago today, actor Adam Baldwin coined the term that would become the hashtag Gamergate. Over the next few days, a concerted effort by games media to shame gamers and shut down any questioning viewpoints failed to stop it, and it's grown, peaked, and leveled off since then. I've watched this story for the last year, continuing to lurk and research in both the pro- and anti-GG camps. I've seen beautiful moments of clarity as people learn to question narratives that have been fed to them by their own 'sides' (much as I had do to myself) in the pro- camp. I've seen people come so close to self-awareness in the anti- camp, only to pull back in fear. I've seen the phenomenon of “Game-dropping” occur, where major media outlets will reference the dreaded boogeyman Gamergate everywhere from marginally-related topics like Science Fiction awards to completely unrelated topics like planned off-world colonies on Mars to reprehensibly placed references to shootings nearly a year later.

Two Saturdays ago, on a day in Miami that was so hot and muggy that you couldn't pay me to be out in it, The Society of Professional Journalism hosted a talk on the subject of Gamergate. They'd had an “Ethics Week,” an event where they “recognize journalists who seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and are accountable and transparent.” To those opposed to Gamergate, “actually, its about ethics in games journalism” has become a joke, a meme, something to (somehow) discredit their boogeyman-like adversary, but to the pro- side, it's still very much an important idea. And so they flooded SPJ's Ethics Week hashtag. Regional SPJ director Michael Koretzky took notice and started talking to people -- people on both sides. What he found out can be summed up in a quote taken from an interview (linked below) with David Pakman: “I'm a journalist for 30 years, so I have the sympathy of a slot machine. Sympathy is not an issue. When someone tells me, as a journalist, all of those people over there are evil assholes, I get my antenna up and I don't believe it, because I don't believe the word “all” ever.”

“It's hard enough getting journalists to care about ethics, and here were civilians caring about ethics.” -- Michael Koretzky

So Koretzky got to work. He put together SPJ Airplay. His original intent was a debate, getting both pro- and anti-factions to the table. He reached out to prominent names on the anti-side, names that I previously wrote that I was warned against mentioning. Every one of them (as I'll speculate here), when faced with the prospect of being exposed to a rebuttal argument that can't be silenced with a twitter blocklist, declined to appear. The pro-side very eagerly found representatives, including three women and three men -- four journalists, a professor, and a youtube streamer. SPJ recruited a journalist ethics expert, journalism trainer, and an indie games developer. Anti-GG? Still no one.

The first panel went off without a hitch, with a lot of good discussion on the topic, and one of the highlights being the SPJ representatives roundly denouncing Gawker after an audience member presented a statement for their consideration that Gawker 'destroys lives.' The afternoon panel was argumentative and meandering, as you'd expect it to be with both Christina Hoff-Summers and Milo Yannapoulis present, at least until around the 1:15 mark, where the auditorium was swiftly evacuated. Despite the precautions taken by Koretzky which included notifying the police beforehand and searching and locking down the building overnight with a private security firm, a bomb threat was emailed to both the police and the Miami Herald with a specific time.

Which can't be looked at as anything but suspicious as this isn't even the first time it's happened. The #GGinDC meetup at a local bar had the same result. If you use your imagination and look at it with a very open mind these instances, coupled with an entirely one-sided narrative from the mainstream media (spurred on by the original targets of ire such as Kotaku and Polygon) it's almost as if dissent of the narrative must be silenced, no matter the cost.

“My opinion is that, after looking into this, is that most of the harassing done on both sides is being done by people on neither side.” -- Michael Koretzky

After the event, Koretzky and the SPJ reps co-opted an abandoned house and continued speaking with the panelists and members of the audience for some time after. You would think that after such a momentous event, gaming and other cultural sites would be chomping at the bit to report it, but beyond a few smaller sites and a surprisingly out of character and even-handed piece from Polygon, there was nary a peep. David Pakman, who had previously covered the story by interviewing both sides, spoke with Koretzky on the matter and, based on their discussion, they make a pretty poor misogynistic hate group. 

The cracks are showing in the narrative, mainly because the people who want better media refuse to roll over and die. They seem to have brought their tanks and medics and are fully prepared to fight this raid boss for as long as it takes, win or lose.

Trending on Twitter during the event.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: Legal Certification

One of my PCs wanted to be a lawyer and asked me how he would go about becoming accredited. Since there were no rules about it, I looked for a precedent and then extrapolated.

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.
On page 15 of the Starports book, there is a handy sidebar which gives us useful definitions of what skill rating mean for medical professionals:
  • a trained first responder has Medic 0.
  • a Paramedic has Medic 1.
  • a Doctor has Medic 2, plus Life Sciences (biology) 1
  • a Surgeon has Medic 3.
  • a Consultant has Medic 3, plus Life Sciences (Biology) 2
  • Specialist Consultants will have additional skills such as Life Sciences (genetics) and Life Sciences (cybernetics), usually at level 2.
(From this I reason that an LPN likely has a Medic skill of 1 or 2, but no Life Sciences, whereas an RN has Life Sciences 0.)

All right, this is handy; it gives me a framework upon which I can hang suppositions. From it we can deduce that legal certification goes something like this:
  • a Legal Assistant has Advocate and Admin 0.
  • a Paralegal has Advocate 1. 
  • a Lawyer has Advocate 2, plus Language (Vilani) and likely Diplomat 1-2 as well. 
  • Corporate lawyers would have Science or Trade skills for their particular areas of expertise.
Certification, of course, would depend upon what branch of law was chosen; civil and criminal law will depend upon the law level of individual planets, but Imperial Law (which, like the law of the Medes and the Persians, altereth not) is good throughout the Imperium. 

But now this means that the Advocate skill needs Specialties!
  • Advocate-0 is the legal version of advanced first aid training. It provides a basic understanding of legal terminology and theory, and knowledge of how (and where) to look up cases, statutes, and precedents. Basic paperwork is also included so that an advocate-0 knows how legal systems across the Imperium (in broad strokes) are organized and operate, and so can write legal forms like motions and briefs, file criminal complaints or lawsuits, etc. 
  • Imperial Law is the kind most player characters are likely to learn, as it is the "law between the stars" and covers the most territory. It concerns itself mainly with interstellar trade and admiralty law, along with the few crimes which the Imperium will not countenance -- such as slavery, genocide trafficking in Ancient artifacts, etc. Other important concepts covered here are salvage, piracy, and extradition. 
  • Military Law is law as it applies to members of the armed services -- or to civilians during times of martial law. This is one of those "You don't need it often, but when you need it, you REALLY need it" skills -- such as when you've been caught looting an Ancient base in an interdicted zone and are facing summary execution. Given that the Navy enforces Imperial Law, any advocate without Military Law specialization facing a military tribunal may use one-half their rating in the Imperial Law specialty instead of the default 0. 
  • Noble Law is concerned mainly with rules of inheritance, fealty, and domain -- and domain can be very large indeed, as Archdukes have domain over 4 adjacent sectors of space. Anyone taking this specialty needs a Social Status of 9 or better to be effective, and several ranks of Diplomat just to be safe. 
  • International Law is a specialized merging of Imperial and Noble Law that deals with treaties between the Imperium and other polities such as the Zhodani Consulate and the Solomani Confederation. This is the kind of thing that diplomats do, and as such this skill is used to stop wars -- or start them. Knowledge of the polity's native language is necessary, as is Diplomat. Persuade and Deception are also useful. 
Everything above this line applies throughout Imperial Space and requires taking a Bar Exam (Advocate roll 8+) at any Class A or B starport. 

Everything below this line applies only to individual systems, and the advocate must be certified or otherwise be granted court privilges before being allowed to work there. 
  • Criminal Law.  We've all seen Law & Order. 
  • Civil Law. We've all seen The Practice, too. 
  • Domestic Law. Ditto Divorce Court.
  • Business Law. This is really dreary stuff involving trademark, copyright, intellectual property, etc. Court cases involving Imperial Megacorporations which take place outside of a single system are handled under Imperial Law, above. 

Next week I'll look at medical specialties. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Gunday Palette's Product Reviews: Tandemkross Sub-2000 Accessories

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to Bryan Haaker, the Business Development Manager of a company called Tandemkross. TK makes all sorts of aftermarket accessories for firearms, and when I found out that some of those accessories were for the Kel-Tec Sub-2000, I knew I had to review them.

One email and phone call later (it turns out Mr. Haaker is a fellow gamer, and also subscribes to my "more accessories make a toy more fun" philosophy, so I can tell we're going to be good friends), I had many of their products headed my way for test & evaluation.

(I realize this will come as a shock to folks, but I actually didn't get every single S2K accessory that Tandemkross makes. This is because I have the Red Lion Precision front sight on my subbie, which renders TK's  upgrades for the stock front sight obsolete.)

Today I'm going to review three quick and easy upgrades you can make to your Sub-2000 to improve its aesthetic and performance.

Screw Upgrade Kit ($9.99)
These are 24 hex-button screws that replace the rather crappy Phillips screws which come on the stock S2K. Whereas the old screws had a tendency to deform under use and then snag clothing, scratch skin, and generally be a pain, these screws are pleasantly rounded and give my carbine a much more professional appearance.

There's not much to say about them other than "They install easily. They work." After all, they're screws. But they're very nice screws, and 24 of them not only replace the ones on the receiver, but also in the handguard, so if you have replaced the stock handguard with a rail system like I did, you'll end up with twice as many screws as you need. If that happens, I suppose you can put them in your tool box as spares, or perhaps give them to a friend with a Sub-2000.

This kit also comes with a properly-sized wrench and directions that not only have color photographs but are also clearly written! My inner English Major is delighted by this.

"Gator-Hide" Bolt Tube Sleeve ($14.99)
This is quite similar to the Bolt Tube Cover that Tacticool Products makes, and so comparisons are inevitable:
  • Feel: The TK sleeve has a pleasant textured surface and is made from a "sticky"-feeling rubber, while the TCP version is made from a smooth, plain rubber.
  • Installation: The "stickiness" mentioned above means that the TK version grips the metal and does not slide easily down the bolt tube, even with ample lubrication. The TCP version, however, slides on and off easily. 
  • Instructions:  TK continues its trend of delightfully complete directions with color photographs, which are really quite welcome when it comes to removing the buttstock. TCP's version also has detailed instructions, although I recall (it's been several years since I bought it) their photographs were in black and white. 
  • Fit: The TCP version is flush with both ends of the tube. The TK version, however, is 0.1" shorter, which leaves a notable gap. This doesn't affect performance but may be an aesthetic concern. The TK version does have a cut-out for the operating handle when it is locked back; the TCP version does not. 
  • Performance:  Both are roughly the same thickness (the TK version is 0.005" thinner, according to my calipers). I feel no difference between the two; they both do a good job padding and insulating the bolt tube. 
  • Price: The Tandemkross version is $14.99 and $5.49 shipping; the Tacticool Products version is $13.50 with free shipping. 
  • Conclusion:  While both are fine products, I have to give Tacticool Products the edge here; their version is the better buy. Sorry, Bryan. 

I absolutely adore this. Readers of my blog will know that I experimented with different ways to attach a single-point sleeve to my Sub-2000, starting with a sling loop that I modified to fit the stock, and then replacing that with a GG&G Sling Thing. While both of these solutions worked, neither of them worked especially well since the sling was attached to the rear of the carbine instead of the midpoint. 

The TK Single-Point Sling Mount solves all of my problems at once. It fits over the bolt tube collar (install it at the same time you're installing a tube sleeve for maximum convenience) easily and secures with one screw. Best of all, it's ambidextrous, with attachment points on either side. 

This is exactly what I wanted in a sling mount, and I got it.

Detailed color instructions come with this product as well. 

My Recommendations
You should definitely get the screw upgrade kit and the sling mount, but hold off on the bolt tube cover until it is more competitive with the Tacticool Products version.
Screw Upgrade Kit:  Grade A.  Does exactly what it says it does, and does it well.
Bolt-Tube Sleeve: Grade B. If it were the only sleeve on the market I would mark it higher. There's nothing truly wrong with it; it's just that the TCP version is easier to install and is less expensive.
Sling Mount: A+.  If you want a tactical sling for your Sub-2000, this is the one to get, bar none. 
Obligatory FTC Disclaimer: I received these products for free and did not receive payment in exchange for a good review. Go away. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #53

It's the first GunBlog VarietyCast of our second year!
  • Adam and Sean do their usual awesome job, including some delicate discussion of the Planned Parenthood whistleblower. That means the last segment is not for young ears. Don't worry, they warn you when they get to that segment.
  • Erin Palette starts off her second year as a podcaster by doing a throwback to her first episode. That one was water purification; this time it's water storage.
  • Nicki Kenyon explains why Hillary's mishandling (or worse) of classified data should disqualify her from any future office of trust.
  • This week's Special Guest William Aprill (Yes, THAT William Aprill) helps us understand how we can't pretend that criminals think the same way we do. 
  • Barron B finds another terrible computer security fail. Those Quadcopter Drones? Yeah, totally unsecure.
  • And Weer'd, who was actually on vacation this week, still manages to appear so you get another patented Weer'd Audio Fisk. In it, Weer'd mocks the new video from the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Illegal Mayors for Everytown, a wholly owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg, Inc.
Thanks for downloading, listening and subscribing. Please share with a friend, and Like and Share us on Facebook.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
Special thanks to Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" and get 10% off at checkout.

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