Thursday, July 21, 2016

A musing on candidates

Sadly, nothing amusing about the candidates we're being offered.

On one hand, one is likely to pick a fight with something like 5-10% of the population. If we're doing things right, they'll fight back, and we'll fight back with them, and it'll all come to nothing.

On the other hand, the other is guaranteed to pick a fight with between 33% and 100% of the population, depending on whether they notice the entire bill of rights being put through the shredder and if they can be bothered to care.

One might be ugly, and looked back by history as another black stain to learn from, so long as liberty manages to hold out against the attacks that beset it.

The other WILL be messy, and could very easily destabilize the entire planet.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Design things: Themed bars and restaurants

So, I've got a bunch of ideas for themed bars/restaurants knocking about I thought other people might like or have ideas for. I figure I'm probably never going to get to build them myself so I actually don't mind sharing, even if it's just as a humorous hypothetical. The first I came up with on my own, the other two owe at least some inspiration to a variety of sources including the gaming themed 42 Alehouse. (To those not local to Milwaukee, it's a bar/restaurant with walls lined with everything from the full VHS sets of various Star Treks, to all manner of gaming books, to Risk and Settlers Of Catan and everything else. The bar TVs, if there aren't sports on, feature anything from LotR to Star Wars to Wii Games played by patrons).

First up, one I've had for a while, the Legitimate Establishment. It's a 'secret' 1930s speakeasy, a brewpub with the main floor playing a super saccharine, inoffensive restaurant. Main place is something like Mom's, specializing in roasts, stews, and generally homecooked hearty meals. In the basement through one of several secret entrances is the Legitimate Establishment, with dress code (at least a tuxedo T-shirt. Failing to have at least that gets you brought to the back to get "roughed up" and receive a commemorative shirt for the occasion), member's list (On The Dole, the military/police/firefighter's discount). Probably back rooms that can be rented or reserved for private use, poker night or gaming or whatever. Jazz on the jukebox, or played live if possible. Probably some historical cocktails from the period such as can be found. Upstairs would have the "secret" brewery, with tours and classes and such. A number of such places exist, although not quite this exact setup.

Up next is the Adventure Tavern. It's themed like the tavern that every fantasy tabletop RPG starts in, with big imitation monster heads on the walls, old fashioned weapons of various sorts, and so on. TVs would be disguised as everything from magic mirrors to scry spells floating in flames. Food is sports bar fare, simple and hearty, with a rotating menu featuring foreign cuisine from "edible loot". Hawiian, Thai, African, Jamaican, the theme is food, spices, and recipes brought in by adventurers and merchants from distant locales. If there's a jukebox, it's disguised as a crazy gnomish contraption or similar. Special events include Tale Tellin', wherein you share the tales of your adventures, either solo or as a group, in a similar thing to karaoke. Gaming would of course be encouraged. 
This bottle opener tetsubo is actually the jumping off point for the Adventurer's Tavern, from trying to figure out what bar decor would make that fit in.

Finally, there's the Cyberpunk themed bar. Hidden back in a basement somewhere, lots of cables on the ceiling, glowing neon all over the place. Prices might be listed in the 'currency of the future', such as Nuyen (used by the shadowrun universe and largely equivalent to dollars), or they may just be regular. I think everything in the place will be controlled via phone/tablet apps (Hacking's always a big thing in cyberpunk). Possibly one of those food conveyors, some secret back rooms for gaming for "runners". Food, I'm not sure. Possibly a super robust vegetarian menu since most cyberpunk stuff assumed in the dystopian future, everything would be soy based? The decoration is easy, figuring out extra things for it is hard because it's so close and yet so far from where we are today. Probably gaming tournaments and such?

If you've got thoughts to expand on it, or your own zany bar/restaurant you want to discuss/flesh out, comment away! I might doodle up some concept art for more realistic things for what I'd try to build.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Mechs?

A new one of these, on a topic I've given a great deal of thought to recently; mechs.

Traditionally, the mech is viewed as a rule-of-cool technological dead end. Everyone loves giant robots, but a box of armor with a turret on it will be far more stable and heavily armored. Boring but practical, the mech just can't compete with ye olde tanks. Or can it?

To preface, we need to look at what role a mech, walker, etc would serve to fill. There are, far as I can tell, two main roles to fill. The first is a direct competitor to the tank, except not. The second is a lightweight armored gun platform intended to support infantry in the manner of an IFV, without the internal space.

Next, we need a few assumptions about how the thing is built. Legs are pretty complicated, but can be broken down to a few main joints. Hydraulics are finicky and easily damaged, but modern or near future high end servos are compact and powerful. Assuming heavily armored joints, the main meat of the legs can be relatively lightly armored so long as it's sturdy enough to continue functioning with a few holes in it. Because anything will need to keep up with tanks/trucks/etc, these legs will need to have some manner of wheel or track mechanism. Finally, legs are still relatively easily damaged, so they need to be easily swapped when damaged.

Looking more at the first style, the spider tank; Under most use, it's just a tank. Legs folded and tracks engaged, it presents a slightly smaller profile than a normal tank, with the option to poke its head up over terrain to more easily fire from a hull-down position, shift to maintain balance during maneuvering, and other such things. Pressed with an obstacle that tracks can't climb, it may be able walk up or down them, and throwing a track can be worked around by shifting weight away from that leg. Ultimately, the spidertank is just tank+, likely optimized for minimal weight for mobility when hitching a ride. If there are other more traditional tanks (such as those that follow the pattern of the Israeli Merkava (MBT+IFV)), it'd share a turret with them.

The second style is the lighter weight mech, weighing a few tons at most. Any smaller and it'd be a battlesuit, and indeed probably is close in size to a heavy battlesuit, though far more broad. The primary aim is to get a weapons platform that can be airlifted or dropped with troops, able to withstand enough weaponry to play bullet sponge while delivering firepower akin to an IFV. Compact size and weight means they can fit places a heavy armored vehicle couldn't. Still, they'd similarly need tracks/wheels/etc to keep pace with trucks and other armor. Could be built in biped or quadruped formfactors; quad is more stable, but necessarily heavier. Whatever form factor it took, most of the time it'd still roll rather than walk if it didn't need the added mobility.

Having legs available makes further possibilities, well, possible. Adding them as landing gear to dropships and similar allows for easier dropoffs of troops in areas that normally would require incredibly skilled, dangerous hovering, or improve the ability to grab and hold payloads steady. Anything with legs can jack itself off the ground for minor repairs.

I've also been trying to figure out how to model these in GURPS, but that's another post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Perspective Matters: Away Game Repost

Saw this image shared by Sheriff Jim Wilson on Facebook and decided to expand upon it a bit. Here's a comparison of our "gun death epidemic" to the other causes of death that, you know, actually make up the majority of deaths.

Perspective matters. This is made from slightly older CDC data and involves a bit of rounding, but it's very close to accurate still.
According to the most recent report, there were 33,636 deaths related to firearms. 21,175 were suicide (about half of all suicides), 505 were accidental, and 11,208 were homicide (there's a few missing, probably legally justifiable and police related and whatnot). It's also important to note that both homicide and suicide are OVERWHELMINGLY men's issues, but I'll discuss those in a different post to keep things focused.
That same newer CDC data provides further perspective;
Accidental falls accounted for 31,240 deaths. You are approximately equally likely to trip and fall and die as you are to die to a firearm. Remember that every time you take the stairs, stand on a balcony, or hike a path on a slope.
There were 48,545 deaths from poisoning, of which about 80% (38,836) were accidental. You (or your children) are 1.15x more likely to die of eating/drinking the wrong thing accidentally than by all gun death combined, and nearly equally likely to be deliberately poisoned as you are to be killed in an assault with a firearm.
33,804 people were killed in car accidents. Almost all gun death involves at least one willing participant (the criminal shooting, or the person committing suicide), while very few car accidents involve any willing participants.
Septicemia, a precursor to sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, accounts for 38,156 deaths. That is to say, death by infection when it spreads to the blood. That infection you have is more likely to lead to your death than all gun related deaths combined.
Alcohol related causes (everything from alcohol poisoning to a terminal case of "Hold my beer and watch this!") accounted for 29,001 deaths. It's important to note that alcohol is purely a luxury, and serves exclusively to inhibit the user and impair judgement. Enjoying a night at the bar is very nearly as likely to lead to your death as all gun death combined.
Ever go to the doctor? Around 400,000 people die to preventable medical errors every year in the US.…/deaths-by-medical-mistake… It seems it's likely rolled into other statistics on the CDC list, but taken separately it's the #3 killer of Americans, behind cancer and heart disease (584,881 and 611,105 respectively). Included in that are around 100,000 deaths from catching other infections acquired at the hospital…/19/washington/19hospital.html…
As a sidenote related to mass shootings and so-called assault weapons (a manufactured category that most of the people attempting to ban can't actually define); Even the US, which is supposedly the world capital of them, almost never breaks 100 deaths per year (using the FBI definition of 3+ deaths in a public place, not gang related). For reference, on average 183 people will be killed in animal attacks throughout the US based on data from 2001-2013…/chart-the-animals-that-ar…/
Every death is a tragedy, but with our sensationalist media it's desperately important to remind yourself where the real problems lie. Treated as a single monolithic category, guns amount to around 3% of all deaths in the US. While it's important not to overlook small causes lest they add up, guns are far from the overwhelming epidemic they are made out to be, and what problems are associated with them would be better solved by targeting the underlying causes (legacy of racism and disadvantage leading to gang violence, social mores that cause men to commit suicide vastly more often than women, and so on) is more effective than simply blaming the object.…/liberal-media-gun-grabbe…/ a somewhat biased site with a mostly unbiased collecting of data from the report for readability. the CDC report on mortality released in feb 2016, using data from 2013ish.…/38-putting-murder-by-gun-in-persp… a slightly older thing putting things in perspective with graphs and such.

Monday, April 18, 2016

BAG day shopping list

Having worked a full year at the highest pay I've ever received, my check back from Uncle Sam was the largest it's ever been (but not too large). And yet, I've got all my bases filled. I'm also a mite bit empty after paying various things to move to newer, more spacious digs. 

I think this BAG day I will be buying accessories and training things

A SIRT pistol and AR-15 bolt are high up the list.
A heavy, extended set of AR500 body armor, and possibly some manner of battlehat
A bigger safe, or at least a second one. Need some manner of ammo storage/organization in it or in addition.
Optics for my AR-15 and AR-57 (I've got a lot of rail space but in the interests of weight I'd like some kind of combo. Light/laser, optic/laser, etc.)
More mags, more ammo, before the rest of everyone notices that the stupidity of this political season and buys all the everything. Can never have too much, after all.

That said, the local mountain of geese has a nice looking Century Arms Draco pistol...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Right, using this; Also new upper

Been quiet for a while. Had topics but precious little motivation, due to big projects at work beating me down. Those are pretty much all caught up now, and a load off my shoulders. Got a new car, nice compact SUV with decent fuel economy and some good capabilities that I'll possibly get a picture of sometime when I can be bothered.

Also bought a new AR-15 upper back in December, finally snapped a picture of it

An AR-57 and a couple of mags, plus a box of ammo for a steal. I expressed interest in it and the store owners began a bidwar with each other to offer a low enough price to get it off their damn wall.

The ammo's labeled "police and military only" from way back when it was first introduced and ZOMG hype better ban it because it can shoot through tanks its so armor piercing. This lead the bf to ask if it was better than 5.56

"No, no it's not. It's actually worse in almost literally every way. About 1/10 the power, more expensive, less range, strange and slow (but neat!) reloads, and I couldn't be happier"

This gun is basically my stupid fondness for pistol carbines, SMGs, and PDWs given its ultimate form. Now it just needs optics and somewhere to actually test it out.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sci Fi Saturday: Halo Landfall

Still phoning it in a bit, but starting to post things again.

The HALO universe is actually remarkably well thought out, and mostly serves as a decent guess at moderate future technology, although the timeline seems slightly off on occasion. The ODST armor is probably very near to the top of my favorite space armors on its approximate practicality and style.