Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Well, that answers that

The drafting software I tried to get is basically worthless, and as such will be returned (I managed to find a free trial for it while digging for the return info. It was not conveniently placed, I looked for it before purchasing).

As such, a 3D printer isn't particularly useful until I've got reasonable drafting software.

AR-15 Ahoy!

Also, found some more reviews on the AR-15 lower that all pretty much agree that it's great, so that's nice. Just have to pick out an upper that I both like and can afford.

Monday, December 30, 2013

One against many

This past Saturday I went to the field with my paintball team. I was unable to play, but I watched. One of the games I was spectating had two superb examples of paintball-as-gunfight-training.They happened almost simultaneously.

The first came from one of the miscellaneous players on the team my teammates were on. He wasn't one of them, but he seemed quite a capable player. He ran up to a bunker, an old bumper car I believe. He had a good commanding view of the battlefield, but was vulnerable. The enemy was pushing up, and from his post he had to hold down 3 separate avenues of attack by himself. Through quick bursts of suppressing fire, he pinned down the enemy from all of these posts. Even a player who attempted to get the drop on him with maneuver warfare fell to his gun. Despite being outnumbered by similarly armed opponents, with good cover he was able to hold his position.

But that player is the other proof of training. He was a magfed player, running a replica AR-15 feeding from magazines of unknown capacity (between 10 and 20 is standard for them). He charged, firing, only to have his gun run empty. Without missing a beat, the paintball pistol at his hip was brought into play. I'd be surprised if his fire lapsed for more than a third of a second, from running empty (paintball guns have a much different sound when empty) to resuming firing with his handgun. The transition to sidearm was a thing of beauty, really.

I wish I had had my action camera handy, not only did I miss this exchange, but I missed one of the best comedy pratfalls I've ever seen. It was my best friend, rival, and team captain, who misinterpreted the start countdown and took off, only to try to stop and begin sliding. Arms and legs flailing, he slid 5 feet down a snowy hill before a beautifully executed banana-peel style fall.

Is It Just Me

Or do Disqus comment sections sometimes break? My computer's been acting up as of late, and is due for a wipe and reinstall, but I can't seem to locate my disk to do so. A new computer's on my wishlist after I get one of those fabled jobs I keep hearing about, so if that's my problem hopefully it'll be sorted out reasonably soon.

I've also noticed that sometimes on http://www.weerdworld.com/ the images don't show

Either way, it's completely random whether it works or not.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wisconsin Knife Law is stupid

Wisconsin Knife Laws

Basically, in WI you can carry whatever the hell you want, as long as it's done openly (which is something of a trick, since we've got 7-9 months of winter here).

However, a 2.75" knife, if concealed, can be counted as a "dangerous weapon", and has been by courts in the past few years (they don't otherwise say what constitutes that. Some cities have defined it themselves)

They also don't quite specify exactly what counts as concealed. They have a definition, but there are grey areas, like a pocket knife with a pocket clip and that has part of it stick out of the pocket and be visible.

Basically, to be entirely safe carrying a knife, the most basic and possibly most useful of all of mankind's myriad tools, you need a carry permit.

Choices, Choices

Shiny new cheap AR-15, or shiny new cheap 3D printer?

An AR-15 typically won't pay for itself. A 3D printer in the hands of an engineer? Most certainly can, but it's kind of hard to shoot your way out of a situation that absolutely demands Enough Gun to survive with it.

If I don't get an AR-15, I pretty much don't have anything else that can serve its function other than maybe a sub2k (nowhere near as capable, but small and handy at least). 5.56 seems to be the only caliber I can find that I'm particularly interested in. On the other hand, I don't predict a very high probability of need for it quite yet, or I'd already have it rather than hemming and hawing over which to get. I certainly wouldn't count out the possibility of something stupid happening that'll make me want it, of course.

If I don't get a 3D printer, I can't do easy prototyping of a lot of things that lend themselves really well to 3D printing, and can potentially make me all the money. One of them is a new type of magazine for magfed paintball, 30 rounds of first strike (shotgun slug ballistics) in the space of a regular AR-15 mag (most paintball magazines are either ungodly massive, 10-12 rounds of capacity, or very unreliable. If I can make a proper capacity magazine that is reliable, I will probably pay for my 3D printer and a shiny new AR-15 without the price cap in one fell swoop)

And all this indecisiveness will probably be rendered moot as soon as I find a job.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Quote of the whatever interval

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule. Both commonly succeed, and both are right."

-H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

There are two halves to the Running Things party, neither one much concerned with running things WELL.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Marginally older and at least slightly wiser


Not long ago, I had plans to test my Sub2k as a combat rifle. Like, really torture it, put 500 rounds through it as fast as I could change mags and pull the trigger, maybe run a carbine course with it, and generally see if I could find the point of working it to death.

As I sit contemplating purchasing an AR-15, I'm glad I didn't bother. The S2k has a role, and that role is not main line combat rifle. Its true specialty is "It's $350 and fits in a laptop bag without doing anything to it". It's a great little rifle, and it has proven it's usable enough to trust in a pinch, but best to leave it to situations where its strengths lie; being fun and handy.

In relation to "it fits in a laptop bag", I kind of want to make a custom laptop bag that has a plate carrier and mag pouches in it, that can be thrown over the neck and locked down with a strap around the chest, tighten things down and you've got a full chest rig. Something to make when/if I've learned some sewing for costuming purposes or whatever.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas/Yule/etc to all!

Hope everyone's having a pleasant day of food and family and whatnot.

I happened to get an action camera, so once I'm patched up enough to paintball or hit the range, my sessions may be recorded, FPS style. If I have something worth sharing, I'll post it up here, because why not.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Yulemas Eve


May Santa/Odin smile upon you and yours

Duck Dynasty Incident in a nutshell

As far as I can tell, it pretty much went like this

-Mostly stereotypical conservative Christian redneck family starts business doing something they love.
-Family gets fairly wealthy doing something they love.
-Because it's something they love, they remain rednecks.
-Because they remain rednecks while being rich, they receive a TV show because that's basically the set up to Beverly Hillbillies.
-Show becomes wildly popular because rich rednecks are much more interesting than normal rich people, among other things.
-One of them goes to a media interview, and is asked the Standard Conservative Christian Bait Question.
-He answers this as a conservative Christian.
-Some people are shocked, and demand his head on a plate.
-Other people go "really? How are you surprised by this?"

Monday, December 23, 2013


Last night while falling asleep, I had an idea. It was simple, to have a character with Knowledge (games) (GURPS). But, it set me thinking.

I want to run a game within a game. This would work at any modern TL with roleplaying games, but would work even better at TL 9+, using Virtual Reality. Virtual reality takes roleplaying to a whole new level, and it wouldn't be hard to code a VR game to handle people playing characters with skills they don't have (if you handle it as working similarly to virtual tutors, the real players can learn by playing as their virtual characters).

You can handle the real live players (rather than their virtual characters) any way you want. It can be a ship's crew, stuck on a long trip with lots of downtime but little free space, to a group of friends relaxing from their fairly normal lives with very few points to each (0-25 point characters).

If you want to play with the combat system, they can boot up a VR first person shooter program. Play a game at any TL, and have it be as cinematic as you please.

I'd think points in acting represents the ability to roleplay. Require rolls whenever the character would react in a way much different from the character they play, such as a straight character playing the opposite sex and attempting sex appeal, or reacting properly in the face of mortal danger to their character, particularly if it isn't REAL danger to the character which is known by the player but not by the VR char, perhaps a roll or two just to get into and stay in character if the player is fatigued or distracted, etc.

You could use the outer-game as an interesting framing device with occasional action (a ship's crew still has to do stuff occasionally!), or have it build into its own more serious adventure (the friends gradually build their point values by learning as alternate selves, and either get more adventurous or get embroiled in something as they start to get more competent and capable). Maybe the VR is used as a more fun, interesting, and safer way to train by the players, allowing them to farm points by learning on the job or learning under stress, without any real danger.

This seems like it would be a very interesting thing to do, if you can pull it off.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Continuing Martial Education

I'm a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Started when I was about 6, and learned from a very traditional teacher, a first generation immigrant from Korea. By the age of 9 or 10 I refused to go to the kids classes, and instead went to adult classes and matched them in discipline and on the sparring mat. I've done it pretty much my entire life, with interruptions due to schooling.

But now, I face a dilemma. Despite being a Taekwondo/Hapkido school, the Hapkido element is not emphasized. All throws, locks, and grapples are taught as a series of very specific "if-then" combat forms. If grabbed this way at this part, do this. I think over my entire span of time at the school, I've done ground fighting exercises once, outside of the 3 ground fighting forms I was required to know to reach black belt. Simply put, while I've learned a great deal, and the discipline was imperative in my development as a person, there isn't much left for me to learn from my studio. Mastery and remaining in practice of what I already know, and perhaps picking up a few weapon demonstration techniques. Most of what I've learned isn't particularly applicable in a real pinch. Sure, I'm pretty much great at strikes, and can cave in someone's anything with any of my limbs, but if I can't stop the fight before it transitions from striking fight to wrestling, I've pretty much got nothing to stand on (there is no wrestle-sparring anywhere in the curriculum). A significant portion of what I learned was combat art, for tournament use.

Further, the job I find may not be in this particular town. I may wind up across the country. As soon as I have stability in my life again, I intend to resume my martial training. I have no intent to continue with taekwondo, as there's nothing in particular for me to gain, besides possibly specialization in different areas based on teaching style.

I'm looking for modern military martial art. Krav Maga sounds pretty nice, Samba seems interesting if I can find someplace that teaches it, maybe even something like Mauy Thai or Kali. I want something as brutal, vicious, and no frills as possible, which pretty much describes a good military martial art. If it has a tournament portion, I want that to be handled entirely by "well, it's not the REAL knife, so there's that. Maybe we'll put a quarter inch of padding on it, there, happy now?"

I was going to ask for suggestions beyond what I have already, but I have GURPS martial arts with its list of basically all styles worth mentioning, and Google to find if there's anywhere that actually teaches it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gun song, kinda

The lightest hearted song about ruling with an iron fist (literally), sung by a robot fighting a platypus.

I love Norm, the Giant Robot Man.

Medicated Musings

By virtue of surgery, I'm still on some painkillers. If I've seemed slightly less coherent than usual as of late, that's why. I can mostly shrug off the mental effects of the painkillers, but I'm not completely immune.

That said, I don't have anything particularly interesting to talk about, so have some ramblings, or don't.

Since I'm looking at getting an AR-15, I figured I'd look into one of the many, many AR-15/M-16 style paintball guns around. Have a training analogue of similar size and controls (if I get either mag-fed or a qloader system), and if I go mag fed I'll feed it first strikes, that actually put it down nearly to 5 MoA accuracy and reach of 100 yards without any holdover. They cost more (around 11 times as much per shot as standard paint, but since I otherwise use about 20x as much paint to get my shots to go where I want, I'll still probably save even at $40/100 shots compared to $60-80 per 2000). Turned out one of my teammates has a lightly used one he's looking to get rid of cheap, so that's cool. Here's roughly what I'll be getting, or what it'd look like after I put a qloader on it (I'm going to try to mount mine vertically in place of the crappy little false magazine). Even if I don't get one of those, they have low profile hoppers that barely stick up past the top of the gun any, which are nice.
If I get an action cam, I'll probably post videos occasionally after games. A lot of my paintball team is actually ex-military, so we have pretty good coordination and combat performance.

 I hate being on doctors orders to not do stuff. I'm at that stage of healed from surgery where I can ALMOST do lots of things, which makes me want to do all of the things, despite the fact that I know for certain that I will hurt myself if I try. I at least don't have to wait the full 3 months before I can start running and stuff again, at least get going with cardio and stuff. I lose so many character points when I get out of shape. I miss my Fit advantage, but I'm glad that my High Pain Threshold hasn't gone anywhere

I'm helping a friend with a game he's developing. It's going to operate in GURPS/GURPS Lite, at least so far, but the thing we're doing is making a ton of characters and settings and villains and encounters, so you can at any time throw together a fantasy adventuring party and draw a few cards and have an entire adventure for 'em. So far I've built Merlin (old as hell, magic as hell), Tarzan (spear master and wild man), Mulan (Team leader, comes with Mushu the dragon to provide a one-shot artillery strike of doom as a bonus), Snow White (dwarven ranger, prettiest in all the land), Prince Charming (Fightbard, a sword and board prettyboy with a few bardic abilities). We have like 25 characters all total to make yet, just for the initial batch of PCs. We kind of feel like this has been designed as an expansion pack for a main game that hasn't been built yet (instead of being based on stories and fairy tales, the base game would just be fantasy with a bunch of different characters and more generic encounters and stuff). If it goes into print or something, I'll throw a link here to it. We'll be needing help play testing it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

AR-15 buying, need help

In the crush of finals, I forgot that people consider graduation to be an important thing, and that some people will send you money for such things. As such, should I opt to spend it rather than saving it in the incredibly pessimistic case that I'm unable to find any sort of job, I have sufficient money to buy a cheap AR-15.

I guess then, that I should figure out exactly what I'm after. This will be my "main" gun, the one I reach for in 99.9% of all cases where I need a gun and have the luxury of choosing one not strapped to my hip. As such, it needs to be pretty good at basically everything, an acceptably general purpose arm.

Things I'm looking for in my rifle
Dissipator: longer sight radius for more precise use of irons, while still being as short as is legally convenient. Might opt for mid length for cost and convenience of parts if I have to
Collapsible stock: Pretty self explanatory, WI doesn't have any stupid laws that say I have to do otherwise.
Flat top: Don't have much use for a carry handle, and I've got a 4x lying around and have plans for a red dot on this thing for general purpose use. If such a thing existed, a 1-4x scope would be good too.
Rails: I need at least a moderate amount of rail space. I plan for this to have a light, laser, red dot, and probably a vertical foregrip. I also want a bayonet on this thing, and will probably have to design my own rail-mount one because I'm dumb and want a dissipator.
Semi-light weight: I've got a $120 complete lower receiver I'm looking at that's polymer and has gotten great reviews, but I'll probably go with a heavy (not bull) barrel, and I'm gaining a few ounces from extra hand guard length
Barrel: I've heard that 1:7 is preferable to 1:9 for a 16" barrel. I'll take what I can get and buy ammo accordingly, because I'm trying to do this on the cheap at present. As mentioned, heavy profile barrel sounds nice.
Magazines: I'm actually tempted to buy up a bunch of Magpul 40 rounders instead of 30 rounders, because they aren't much pricier or larger for a fair deal of increased capacity. Hoping they come out with window versions of the 40 rounders.

Here's the pieces I've got so far if I do it piecewise (they have a dissipator full rifle kit that's never in stock for $500+ a stripped lower receiver)
LW-15 lower receiver
Complete dissipator upper
Magpul MOE handguards
Flat top upper
16" dissipator barrel

If I can save sufficient amounts of money buy assembling things myself, I'll look at optics and other such things. Yes, I'm aware that optics have a minimum price before they're actually decent.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I have no idea how del-ton handles it, but I know they make parts kits for some of the big names. If you know where to find deals, or can see something I'm doing horribly wrong, let me know. Any help is appreciated

Still can't talk

Been 5 days since my surgery, still can barely speak. Hoping they didn't damage the nerve to my voicebox, don't much care for the idea of possibly having lost my voice semi-permanently (apparently they do have a treatment for it, but I'd still rather it just be a standard sore throat that requires nothing but rest).

Nurse said that I could cough, which meant it was fine, but parts of my range work, and other parts barely function. Doc's office was already closed when I tried to give them a call to check. Guess I'm stuck waiting until Monday. There's been some slight improvement, but significantly less than I would expect based on usual heal times for losing my voice.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Linkdump: Trust Your Government edition

This reminds me of the other case earlier this year, where a guy was recording a SWAT raid, and an officer started getting belligerent and trying to arrest him for it, making his dog get aggressive and ultimately shooting it. Some people said "well, dog was aggressive, therefore good shoot", but I wouldn't be at all surprised if aggravating the dog to a shootable level was deliberate. Sure, you can arrest someone for recording of cop and it'll get thrown out immediately, but shooting someone's beloved pet is a good way to warn against them ever daring to go against you and hard to undo.

In what will be a surprise to nobody who's payed attention, the ATF continues to do pretty much whatever the heck it feels like with no regard for law or decency. 

If we were to revisit this, it'd pretty much throw out the entire NFA based on the fact for militia purposes, since basically all the NFA stuff that's banned is now pretty standard military gear. 

Get victimized, get evicted as punishment for making the city's crime numbers go up

War is a harsh experience? Here, let us help you by drilling out your brain. No, you don't have a say in it. Your government loves you.


GURPS guns, troubles therewith

One of the things that's always bugged me about GURPS is the difference between point shooting and aiming. Having tracked down a copy of Tactical Shooting to peruse, the approximation of quick aiming (taught by all the various shooting schools and videos, like Magpul's art of the dynamic tactical combat whatever) is sighted aiming, at +1.

I think what I'll do is offer Quick Aim as a specialized perk for those with a skill of 14 or better in a particular gun skill, switching the effect of All-Out Attack (determined) to functioning as the Gunslinger perk, rather than just a +1.
With at least one point in the Quick Aim perk and at least one gun skill at 16 or better, the price of Gunslinger drops to 10 points. While the books say Gunslinger is supposed to be cinematic, it's actually pretty easy to train, and most modern combat shooting schools do a lot for training such that when you point your gun the sights align properly. Might not be as good as taking time to aim proper, but it makes combat at medium ranges DRASTICALLY more feasible than the standard rules for GURPS allows.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I have a serious post  in the works about how important perspective is and noting how good you have it and such. This is not that post.

I'm just recalling a few days ago, my bf was visiting and taking a gander at some gun shop ad flyers. Picked it up, and said "Man, guns are cheap! I can barely even find any much over $1000".
He's a pro photographer.

Setting the bar low

As I've mentioned, I've got a gun I'm working on the design for. My goal is to have it be competitive price-wise with the Mosin Nagant, or how the SKS and cheap AKs were back in the days of yore. Rather, I want it to dethrone those guns as the "first guns because cheap", by offering a superior product that's even new production for the same price. Setting the bar as low as possible, from the consumer's standpoint. And yet, I plan to deliver the absolute best possible gun I can despite the price point, so that low bar becomes a limbo bar from a design standpoint. I want it to be tough, reliable, dirt simple, so simple it can be sold for $175 at the very most, yet able to compete with guns that cost $500-1000.

A few of my design goals:
4-6 MOA accuracy (limited by the lockup of the action, or I'd go for higher)
Weight under 10 lbs
Uzi level reliability
Takes STANAG mags, and with a barrel swap can work in any caliber an AR-15 can.
Goal price of $100 per each, max acceptable price $175
Can be built with no tools except a dremel tool
With hand drills, a drill press, and drill guides, can be produced assembly line style to the tune of many hundreds per day with ~5 people with no special skills required.

Basically, the goal of this gun is to be like an intermediate caliber STEN/Uzi/MP-40/M3 Grease Gun/etc. I intend to demonstrate just how simple guns actually are to make, and in doing so make a good quality one affordable to just about anyone, on any budget, who needs the best tools possible to defend themselves. If they sell, I intend to have the option of adding $25 to the price, which will go to a fund used to purchase them for schools that want to protect their students.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Not dead yet

Back from surgery, now with the doctor recommended quantity of bones. And less pain than last time I had this done on the other side.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another cheap 3D printer

Deltaprintr with a kickstarter, as might be expected. Looks like it only uses PLA, I'd rather have ABS because I can use that to make metal parts. I say this because I just finished an independent study in conjunction with a pair of profs working to perfect a way to metalize plastic so you can electroplate it, and use electroplating to get it thick enough to actually be used for things. The initial metalization is actually really simple, if you have the chemicals for it, and none of them are anything toxic or hard to get.

I think I prefer Solidoodle, which is likewise quite affordable, and does ABS, although I won't be sure their ABS blend works for metalization as easily until I test it.

Found the Deltaprintr through Isegoria

College complete

Hell, it's about time. Time to start actually doing useful things instead of an elaborate and expensive weed-out process used by companies (the words of returning grads who have come to give talks, not me). Now I just have to track down one of those mythical full time job things I've heard so much about. At least I've got a bit of part time work in my field. Get some of that experience that everyone demands and nobody's willing to help get.

One way or another, I'll make it work, and I intend to marathon the hell out of this debt, be it through extreme penny pinching, a good job and cheap living, or service to Uncle Sam. Time to suit up and head into the real world.
There's a metaphor for going from college into the real world in there somewhere.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

GURPS efficiency

Sometimes GURPS gives you the means to do things that you never would. A template for Innate Attack is given for an implanted 9mm SMG. It costs 33 points. For 2 points, you can buy Extra Arm: Weapon Mount, allowing you to mount an SMG into your arm just the same, purchased with cash, of which the player will probably have plenty for buying an SMG (except at low tech levels, SMGs are among the cheapest of all guns, because they about as simple as you can get for a repeating arm). This Extra Arm method also allows the gun to be swapped and upgraded with anything compatible with the mount, removed if desired for some reason, and so on. Sometimes GURPS gives means to do things in inefficient ways. To build a dual wielding warrior, you can spend 25 points on extra attack, or buy off the two weapon attack penalty for 5 points (and another 5 to either buy off the off-hand penalty for that weapon, or 5 for ambidextrous for same for everything), which only allows dual wielding with that particular skill. But for most players? They'll just stick to the one type of dual wielding if they can help it. A character who's concept is very explicitly 'dual axe wielding berserker' is unlikely to randomly go "hmm, nah, time for dual swords now", they'll stick with their nice axes as long as they don't break. If they break, the player is more likely to buy new axes rather than just switch weapons. Just because you can, does not always mean it is the most effective way to do it. It pays to read the whole book and compare methods of achieving a goal.

Monitoring WoW for terrorism

I'll just leave this here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Almost to the future

Google Throat Tattoo
Here I can't help but picture implants and stuff as fairly massive, because anything that portrays them is usually from the 1990s or very early 2000s, and what was shown was high tech for the time. I keep forgetting that tech has advanced significantly beyond what I actually use, because I'm not only cheap, I'm a poor college student (for about 3 days longer). If that's all the more complex it is, and temporary, I'd actually consider it. It'd certainly cut down on wind noise and annoying people because throat mics let you sub-vocalize great.

I have this theory, that we're right on the edge of TL9 right about now. Every time I stop to think about it, I realize just how close we are, and then I forget when I go back to focusing on school or whatever.
We're not quite there yet, but darn close. Amazon has a 3D printing section, it has gone mainstream enough and is available enough, even if it's not particularly useful for things as of yet. We have rockets that can take off and land again, and maneuver, all using a single nozzle (all previous rockets required a separate nozzle design for every application, built to neutralize the specific frequency produced by operation to avoid being shaken to death). We've got working prototype super capacitors, and are just working on refining the tech down to allow them to actually be useful for things. Smartphones of course are beyond what even most science fiction predicted in the not too distant past, and practically ubiquitous these days. Nanotech is at least laboratory testable, instead of just being theoretical, which is still quite an advancement. Walking robots and powered exoskeletons are actually things, even if they aren't widely available.

We aren't at the future quite yet, but we're getting darn close.

In an entirely unrelated matter, I'm apparently terrible at tab clearing, and have nearly enough tabs again/still to warrant another one.

Tab clearing link dump

Been collecting all kinds of things I wanted to write about, and now my browser is starting to slow down because I always run a bajillion tabs when I'm NOT saving stuff to look at later. In a possibly unrelated matter, disqus threads keep not loading properly.

https://www.billwhittle.com/commentary/shards Found by way of The Smallest Minority


http://www.forgottenweapons.com/i-found-this-old-maxim-silencer/ Suppressors are considered to be good manners in a lot of other countries, now if only we could convince our politicians that they aren't a magical mute button for guns the way they're portrayed. Which now makes me think about ACTUALLY making a magical mute button for guns in GURPS. But that's for a different discussion.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/outlaws-guns-article-1.1540358 Found by way of http://daysofourtrailers.blogspot.com/2013/12/nydailynews-tells-truth.html
Nice to know that at least some people wholeheartedly support the government being able to arbitrarily ban things (which are protected by the bill of rights no less) with no input from subjects citizens on it. I look forward to their excuses at future infringements. Ones such as when the 1st and 4th amendments are inevitably deemed to be dangerous amounts of freedom, but the intent of their protection is still being honored by leaving an un-monitored 3'x3' privacy zone in every house. All other areas, public or private, will be recorded by video cameras; tampering with them or blocking them in any way will be a felony of course. Needed to prevent dangerous elements from gathering in private domiciles or engaging in dangerous speech. Spending too much time in these privacy zones will of course be grounds for suspicion, and entering them with another person is grounds for investigation for conspiracy, but you can't be too careful!

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/12/03/Congressional-Research-Service-More-Guns-Less-Crime Can't prove anything about why crime is down, but can disprove that more guns is causing more crime. Found by way of someone or other on the blogosphere (seriously, I need to start writing that stuff down)

http://www.weerdworld.com/2013/tory-fisk/ And here's this. I think I was contemplating making some kind of comment, but there isn't really anything I could add to this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25201471 Why does Iceland have so little crime despite being relatively gun friendly apparently? Can't imagine it having anything to do with drug laws that aren't quite as stupid, little to no gang culture to provide those drugs and kill each other, reasonably good education, and reasonably few areas of insane poverty that usually give rise to gangs and violence. That almost definitely probably doesn't have anything to do with it maybe perhaps.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Under the blade

About this time next week, I'll be going for surgery again. After which point I will have the doctor recommended number of bones, and actual blood flow to my upper torso, so that will be nice.

Should I happen to fall off the face of the internet as of next monday, it probably means I've died. Unless something goes horribly horribly wrong, I'll be perfectly fine, but it's still surgery on the neck.

So, with any luck I'll post something Monday or Tuesday to let folks know that I'm still breathing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Night Pick-me-up

I'm not really one for most "positive" songs. Matter of fact, they tend to bug the heck out of me usually. But every so often, I'll come across one that does it right. This was the first song from The Real McKenzies that really made me fall in love with the band, and they've been one of my all-time favorites ever since. It was also the first positive song I've ever really liked that I can remember.

Enjoy what'chas got, not what you have not
'Tis a weak heart lamenting with sorrow
When the days seem cursed, it could always be worse
Fight depression with sword and arrow

When the zeppelinous clouds of trouble abound
And thunder is clapping and lightning strikes ground
Just when yer thinking this may be your last
Throw a lash 'round the mast, hold fast!

When the world ain't right, and it smites ye with strife
We can all buckle down, it's a test they call life
Very soon you will see what kind of animal you'd be
Taking the bite outta life

When they're testing the gallows, yer hung like a dog
Or they're marching us out to a firing squad
We just smile and recall all the good times we had
It's the best 'til tomorrow

It's the best day 'til tomorrow

No considering surrender when yer down in the dregs
If ye look down and notice you still have your legs
So stand up and fight you just might seize the day
It's the best day 'til tomorrow
Today may not be great, but it's the best one you've got. Dig your heels in and make the best of it.
It's the best day 'till tomorrow.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thanks for 1000

Can't believe I hit a thousand page views this fast. Apparently at least a few people find my rantings and ramblings to be interesting? Here's a few of the more ridiculous campaign ideas I've come up with that would be both amusing and fun to run as thanks.

Based on the Jetsons. Spacely's Sprockets, Cogswell Cogs, and the other megacorps have had their business getting ever more cutthroat. Maybe you're part of a crack team of mercs, hired to wage covert war on behalf of the corporation that pays you, or maybe you're just trying to get back safely to your house full of boxy robots and automated niceties at the end of each day. Flying bubble cars zip around, high above the nightmarish toxic wasteland that is what's left of Earth, and powered sidewalks shuttle you around between the spires your buildings sit upon. You can run this one as gritty or lighthearted as you want, with high (relative) realism or go all out cinematic with your super science.

Time to take a step back into TL0+5, and relax in the world of the Flintstones. When you get home at night in your foot-powered car, throw a stone record on the bird-based gramophone, and have a nice rack of dinosaur. Maybe you're one of the intrepid souls, braving the frontiers away from the big city, maybe even a space explorer. Maybe you're part of the intrigue of the big city, or part of the police detective unit tracking said intrigue. This one probably leans a bit towards the cinematic side, for obvious reasons...

Swashbuckling Space Cavemen
This was the example given to me as an example of how capable and truly universal GURPS is, back before I really did any tabletop gaming. This one could go a number of ways, maybe your cavemen were abducted by space pirates and pressed into service, or perhaps they've got a rocket powered by a sabre-toothed tiger on a treadmill, or even a combination of TLs, such as one might find in Thundarr the Barbarian. Magic makes space travel fairly viable at distressingly low tech levels, provided powerful mages and sufficient background mana are available.

If anyone likes one of these and tries it out, or even just wants to, I would be more than happy to hear about it, and help with figuring out details of the tech and such. When I run out of ideas for fleshing out the Wastelands, I might start a new series for making. But for now, I will probably be scarce around here by virtue of last finals ever.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Never attribute to malice

That which you can attribute to stupidity.


People were panicking over stolen dirty bomb material, only to find that the guys seemed to just want the truck. They opened the extremely-packaged material, went "what's this crap" and threw it away, and will most likely die of radiation exposure. The truck and crane are probably valued at around 10k by virtue of Mexico level of maintenance. How much would various terror organizations have paid for such a haul, so near to the US? I'd wager significantly more than the value of the truck, if they had it.

So thanks, stupidity! We, the not-dirty-bombed people of the world appreciate your efforts in this particular instance!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Punk Problems: Tiered Cities

As a person with a fondness for the many "punk" genres (steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, etc), there exists a commonality among most of them: somewhere, at some time, you will encounter a tiered city. The lower tiers will always be full of factories, smog, poor people, and crime. The levels get increasingly better off the higher you go, up to the aristocracy looking down their noses at the city below at the top. Retro-future/raygun gothic settings are just about the only place to feature tiered cities as a nice place to live if you aren't in the top third.

Effectively, the city is a giant arcology. But what's never covered, amidst the multiple tiers of streets and sidewalks and such, is how it stays up. There's almost never any clear organization given, no order, no thought put into how it would actually WORK. Is the city just made out of big skyscrapers, with roads and sidewalks bolted onto them at various levels? Or is the city built with giant skeletal building frames, each city block having multiple levels, which are like any normal city block of the relevant class level, other than having other city blocks above and/or below them?

The tiered city gives an easy means of letting players know what kind of neighborhood they're in, but it's hard to use. You HAVE to decide exactly how it works beforehand. How do you get from layer to layer. If it's built just as a series of skyscrapers, can you get from one tier to another from within the building, or is there no access between tiers outside of designated points (or some manner security system, passcodes, etc.). Tiered roads are assumed to be for cars, where do you park?

As much as I like the concept and the possibilities it offers, it's something I need to sit down and sketch and ponder on, until I can find a "workable" means of implementing it. I first realized the need to sit down and figure out details in my latest campaign, a dieselpunk horror in an even worse version of 1930s Chicago called Lockport.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ultra-Tech: Traveller and Former Campaigns

My previous Ultra-Tech post and the comment to it got me thinking. Much as I enjoy the cyberpunk genre, I have next to no experience with any roleplaying in a TL higher than 6 if I'm lucky. I do most of my gaming through my college's gaming club, which has an overwhelming bias in favor of low tech. D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and GURPS: Low Tech have been the mainstays of my gaming life. I run one of the few 'modern' campaigns, my usual steampunk western tales in the Wastelands and Dieselpunk mysteries in the areas around them.

The second campaign I ever joined was a Shadowrun. I built a crotchety old gunslinger, tougher as nails and with a severe case of gremlins. Not once did technology do what I was trying to make it do in the entire campaign. But my trusty future-AK was as tough and reliable as an AK, and I used volume of fire to put the hurt on. Every time even the simplest of tasks involved technology, I failed to resist the gremlins, and weird things happened. Couldn't even use the two-way radio to my teammates without message-changing static happening.
Unrelated to the topic of Ultra-Tech, my GM was astonished at my having 10 magazines as a combat load of ammo, stating that he had never carried more than two mags on any character ever. This was after the world had ended and there was no chance of resupply, and I was constantly using long bursts and full auto and he was suspicious that I should be empty already.

The other only ultra tech campaign I've ever played in was a Warhammer 40k; Dark Heresy game. To those not well versed in WH40k lore, despite being a star spanning empire, the average TL just about any PC will be able to start with is maybe TL8. If you want implants, you get to have between 1/4 and 2/3 of your skull removed and replaced with a slab of metal with the cogitator (computer) in it. There's no such thing as unobtrusive implants, and almost all available high tech serves mostly to either shuttle you to your probable death, or build giant cities of nightmare bureaucracy more effectively than would be otherwise possible.

 Between the two of these and how they're presented in game, they probably play a significant role in my dim view of implants, which I assume will be at early TL9 in their implementation/implantation and sizing.

As I read GURPS: Traveller, Interstellar Wars, it keeps throwing me off. Constant talk of the Imperium makes me think of the Imperium from WH40k, and the Terran Confederacy automatically processes as the faction from Starcraft. The Starcraft one at least is reasonably similar slightly, as opposed to the nightmare that is the Imperium of Humankind

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Well Regulated

http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2013/11/wellregulated_1.php I'm late to the party and half of everyone else who gunblogs has had their 2 cents at this, but here's mine which covers it in a marginally different way.

Turns out if you look back at writing of the time of the 2nd amendment, of which there's plenty since they didn't have email, "well regulated" meant "it works".

This is actually still the case, much as people who are in favor of banning everything will attempt mental gymnastics to deny. They will instead say that "well regulated" means "controlled by the government".
A regulator valve is placed onto a device to control something within it, typically found on air tools to give adjustment from extreme high pressures. The purpose of this regulator? Make the thing work.
Companies have internal regulations. These regulations are made within the company, to set up the method by which the company works. Their purpose is (supposed to be) to make the company work effectively.
I've heard that a properly aligned set of gun sights are said to be well regulated. The meaning? They work.
Heck, even government regulations are technically just supposed to make things work better, and would actually do so if they were only applied to proper places they were needed (which is to say, places where there there would otherwise be absolutely nobody who would/could make people play nice together, and would have problems with the Tragedy of the Commons). In practice, this isn't the case because government rules spread like a plague, but if they were actually interested in making things work effectively instead of trying to take control of everything because MORE POWER, it might work that way.

Basically, the point is that no matter how vehemently people deny it and seem convinced that only asking for government control of everything everywhere, well regulated just means it works. If the "well regulated militia" can, without government control, be told to gear up and go deal with an invading army/aliens/zombies/etc, and does so, then they're sufficiently well regulated.

Ultra-Tech: Issues with Implants

A common indicator of futuristicness in games, movies, and tv shows is implanted technology. The most ubiquitous implants are usually radios/headsets, and full on computers integrated right into the brain to give an overlay of the internet. Often the ability to plug one's head into computers is displayed on occasion, either through jacks right in the skull/neck or through a proxy brain interface thing.

Somehow, I just don't see it happening. When I think of implanted radios, I can't help but think of all the times I've gone through places with weird electromagnetic characteristics, that cause headphones to squeal at max volume. Obnoxious if you can pull them out, significantly worse if they're embedded into your skull. Similarly, the possibility of undergoing brain surgery if one of the connecting wires from the implanted computer goes bad seems like a bit much (but is less of an issue once medical microbots/nanobots are available). The human body doesn't really possess much in the way of spare empty space up in the skull, so any computer would need a surgical operation to open up enough room to sit. It's a further surgery (possibly minor) to upgrade to this year's model, unless the implant socket is designed to allow them to be swapped as one might swap out a chip. Cyberbrains that make the entire brain readily removed and worked on without difficulties would make implanted tech more accessible across the board (be it prosthetics or just upgrades over the meat), but is of course its own significant can of worms.

Personally, if I were to get something done to make my headset more permanent, it would be a piercing. Put a hole right through the cartilage flush with the side of the skull. A simple, non-invasive, well known procedure, and makes the headset both sturdy and easily removed for privacy/repair/replacement.

There's one other category of implant that I WOULD actually trust, because they don't really go obsolete, or at not nearly the same rate as electronics. That would be weaponry and tools. One of my policies when building a character, and indeed going about my daily life, is to keep a knife handy at all times. Even still, it can be slow or difficult to access if you need it in a pinch. Why not get one built right into your hand? You'll always have it if you need it. Cyberguns are similarly readily available, although without substantial failsafe engineering they present significant possibilities for problems, as you point the gun embedded in your hand/arm at everything you interact with. Condition 2 or 3 on the gun would seem prudent at minimum, if not having them designed such that when not "active" the gun can't even go into battery.

Note that most of the downsides of implants are mitigated if they're implanted in chrome. If you've lost a limb, taken a severe injury that needed a bunch of repairs, or whatnot that can be done such that upgrades and changes are pretty readily accomplished (the device is built with standardized slots for tech and upgrades). Just like computers, if you plan to keep something for a while it's best to have parts easily swapped out.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Wasteland Oddities: Deadmen

In a region as flush with rampant magic as the Wastelands, oddities are to be expected. Among the most feared are the Deadmen. Deadmen come in many forms, and indeed have no "set" pattern. They are almost universally at least unlucky, if not outright cursed.

The name comes not from being undead (although various levels of unlife are common), but rather is bestowed upon one by their enemies, and accepted.
"You should know better than to mess with us! You're a dead man!"
"That's right."
Indeed, nothing but good sense prevents a living person with no particular abilities to claim the title; however, doing so without a means of backing it up is typically fatal. People looking to make a name for themselves will often try to prove it by killing a deadman, enemies will try to make extra sure that their opponent is really dead. It has been said that merely accepting the title carries with it a minor curse.

One common feature of all surviving deadmen is combat. Rogues, mercenaries, and bounty hunters, deadmen are almost always found in or near the line of fire. Routine survival of bad situations and terrifyingly high body counts are common. Deadmen usually don't last more than a few years, racking up an astonishingly large amount of combat hours in a very short time.

A few examples of deadman that are by no means mutually exclusive (The boundaries between the world of the living and the realm of the dead are thin in the Wastelands, and thoroughly determined spirits may force their way back into the world, either serving as the animating spark or forming a body of their own to sustain them upon breaking through. ).

Mechanical, Constructs, and Golems: Constructs, golems, and exceptional quality androids and cyborgs often qualify as deadmen, with their damage resistance, injury tolerance, and merciless mechanical precision.

Artficial Lifeforms: Appearing on the surface to be just another person, if cut open they look like a regular lifeform, but simplified. Organs are abbreviated or missing, optimized, or even mechanical. Extra space may be filled in with damage absorbing filler to protect the important organs that do remain. Rapid healing or damage control systems are common, as is the need for some manner of extra support beyond the usual food/water/air.

Undead: Kind of on the nose for a category called Deadmen, ain't it? They're always intelligent undead, taking additional measures to preserve themselves if needed. Skeletal gunslingers may wander the wastes with a bone to pick, fallen soldiers force their cooling corpse back to its feet for one last fight and find that unlife isn't so bad, or deceased warriors are returned to serve as short lived engines of destruction.

Deadmen are always viewed with a suspicious eye, and often treated as intelligent undead, whether that description is accurate or not.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Custom Shooting Targets

I have some plans on making a bunch of custom targets to practice on, since ones I want don't seem to exist and silhouette and bullseye targets get old after a while. After my ponderings on Choose Your Weapon I decided that I definitely want some space bugs monster horde targets (Zerg, Tyranid, whatever the things were in Starship Troopers, maybe the Flood ala Halo).

A friend suggested the Necromorphs from the Dead Space series (an interesting challenge, you HAVE to shoot for the limbs for bullets to be effective on mutant space zombies).

Dinosaurs, (mutated, cloned, space, or otherwise) seem like they could be fun. Do some research, have some set up as "charging treat" targets, have others modeled after hunting practice targets with the score zones over critical locations.

EDIT: Kate suggested Terminators/robots. I wholeheartedly agree, and there don't seem to be any readily available for purchase or download. This'll definitely be one where I need to offer them as hunting targets with highlighted weak spots.

I know there are at least one or two people who swing by to glance at my ramblings because the counter keeps ticking up, so if you have any thoughts on interesting baddies you'd like to put a few rounds through, speak up! I'll be drawing some of these up next year when I have time, since nobody offers good targets for sale. I can at least make free "print your own" targets available, if not get big ones printed out on better paper.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

End of Movember

It's the end of November/Movember, which means it's time to post mustache/beard progress
Wait, wait, wrong picture. That's from when I grew my beard out, starting amusingly enough immediately AFTER shaving after last movember (was busy in the run-up to finals, and didn't bother to shave, and decided to let it grow).

There we go, that's this November. The chin strip is standard (but needs trimming), and the horseshoe mustache is what I decided to grow this year.

So since my face is now here, allow me to re-introduce myself. You can call me Siege, it's what I usually go by in games, and it's my callsign for my paintball team. I guess I'll fill out marginally more of my blogger profile or something now.

The best gaming story I've ever read

There are some stories, born of tabletop RPGs, that show how wonderful a medium of storytelling they are.

I shall copy the entire thing here, if only to guarantee that it cannot be lost from the internet, which would be a most grievous and terrible event. The system takes place in Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy. WH40k:DH is an INCREDIBLY lethal system. It's entirely possible for the PCs to be killed in one hit from a shot to the toe, if their bones decide to explosively sublimate and detonate like a grenade or some such.

The story is long, and will take several hours to read. It is worth every second. Continued after the jump.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Starcraft Vs. Warhammer 40k

++++ CAUTION:: The Officio Inquisitorus suspects the contents of this blog post may be heretical; Read at risk of termination by the Ordo Hereticus. ++++

Warhammer 40k preceded Starcraft, and indeed inspired it. The devs have explicitly stated that the Starcraft Marine is based on the Space Marines (even if they're much, much less capable. WH40k marines are genetically engineered fighting machines, so tough they're actually bulletproof when unarmored, wearing 3/4 of a tank. Starcraft marines are usually convicts who've been "resocialized" (brainwashed) for service, and are functionally comparable to the Imperial Guard in their use; mass waves of expendable troops). And the Zerg, Starcraft's ravenous assimilating spacebugs? Directly based on the Tyranids, the ravenous assimilating spacebugs from WH40k.

In the Imperium, technology is barely understood. Humans pray to the machine spirits of anything technological they use, and believe any enemy tech is heretical because machine spirits only serve man. There are entire worlds where the tech level is barely medieval, despite being part of an interstellar empire and having direct contact with spacecraft when making tithes to the Imperium. The few people who DO understand technology still worship it, and won't share with anyone. Almost all tech that actually works is from before the current Dark Age of Technology, and nobody can figure out how it works anymore (despite being at a level of complexity that could probably be completely reverse engineered by any competent modern day engineer). In short, "Stupid grimdark future".

On the other hand, Terran space is a rough frontier. Instead of a fanatical spacefaring cult, it's rednecks in space. Tech is well understood, but sometimes hard to come by. The government is still propaganda-tastic, and even despite brainwashing people for military service manages to be less oppressive than the Imperium. Trying to learn how something works and make an improved version won't get you purged for heresy, and might even make you loads of money, rather than just being required of you as a measure of near-slavery if you're in the right place to be allowed to do such things. Supporting a cause other than fighting for the God Emperor will not get you tortured to death for heresy. Actually, the things that are considered heretical are really pretty small in Terran space.

So yeah, I think I actually prefer Starcraft fluff, even if the human forces don't get as many laser beams. Power armor is widely available to the common man, and you can be pretty much assured that your standard of living will be at least TL8. Teaming up with friendly aliens to save everyone everywhere will not get you tortured for heresy. There are even actual good guys, instead of just people who are slightly less of an asshole by comparison to everyone else.

Wasteland Inhabitants: Sentient Races

There's a wide variety of species that have come to inhabit the Wastelands, both sentient and not. This post will provide a brief overview of some of the key races. Many of them are heavily inspired by those as portrayed in Shadowrun; very few sentient races are automatically evil as they might be in a system such as D&D.

Humans: Humans, having developed as inhabitants of the world alongside other races, tend to be fairly "average". They are competitive enough to have survived, but not so overly capable as to have wiped out the other races. Humans tend to be among the most dangerous opponents any race can have; intelligent enough to be dangerous, with short enough lives to be willing to risk a premature death, and fast enough reproduction to overwhelm through numbers. Humans tend to live in surface towns and cities, but can make their homes almost anywhere they can survive.

Dwarves: Dwarves are the master craftsmen. Hearty and long lived, the goal of most Dwarves is mastery of a chosen subject. Society is traditional, but those traditions are pragmatic. It is unusual for Dwarves to develop new products, both as a matter of a slightly hidebound worldview, and the fact that it isn't possible to attain mastery of a craft that you just invented. That said, Master Tinkerers DO exist, and specialize in reverse engineering and improving other technology, often human, gnomish, or goblin in origin. Elaborate traditions involving beards (male) and hair (female) allow a dwarf's history to be read by those who know how. Dwarven barbers and hairdressers are among the best in the world, and any noble of worth will have one on staff (both for their skill and their no-nonsense advice). Dwarves traditionally prefer to craft finely made, sturdy subterranean cities, and often rent and expand basements and sub-basements in cities of other races.

Gnomes: Small but hearty, gnomes are masters of invention. Mischievous and friendly, they prefer to live just underground but are plenty comfortable on the surface. An amiable lot, just about anyone without ill intent can get along with gnomes. Gnomish cities tend to be sprawling and shallowly below the surface.

Goblins: Goblins are small, wiry, and cunning. Like Gnomes, goblins are masters of invention. Where gnomish inventions tend towards the quirky and impractical, goblin inventions are brutal and to the point. Goblin humor tends more towards pranks than that of the Gnomes. Goblins prefer to live in underground cities.

Goblins and Gnomes see each other as rivals due to their significant similarity, but rarely come to actual blows over it. Any town with a goblin and gnomish tinker will usually find them across the street, if not sharing a building. This rivalry takes the form of a friendly competition, often involving tiny gizmos and contraptions duking it out to prove who's tech is superior. Disputes between gnomish and goblin cities will often be settled by an agreed-upon meeting of a few war contraptions, the cause of the skirmish usually forgotten by the end of the battle.

Hobgoblins: Where goblins are cunning, hobgoblins are much closer to traditional portrayals of goblins: stupid, violent, and untrustworthy. They breed like rabbits and are typically a nuisance wherever they show up.

Elves: Where dwarves are the masters of craft, elves dedicate themselves to performance. Many are masterful craftsmen, but lack the single-minded dedication of the dwarves. Mages, dancers, even warriors, elves dedicate themselves to a few arts and master them with an inhuman grace. Their lives are extremely long, bordering on immortality in the eyes of shorter lived races, but just as susceptible to premature ends as any other race. This long lifespan gives even greater resistance to cultural drift than that of the Dwarves.

Orcs: Big and muscular, orcs are masters of physical prowess. Innate brainpower is not much different from that of a human, but orcs have shorter lifespans and typically do not invest the same time to study. Impatience and impulsiveness are common characteristics. Most orc designs seem a bit rushed and haphazard, but they work relatively well.

Trolls: Trolls are a larger race, bigger even than the Orcs. Huge, tough, and naturally armored, they're intelligent but often unmotivated. They tend not to favor tasks that require high manual dexterity, but it's far from unheard of to find surgeons, watchmakers, and the like. Their lifespans are similar to those of dwarves, but significantly more relaxed.

Beastfolk: A broad category rather than a species or race, beastfolk are defined as sapient races with more animalistic characteristics. Lizardfolk, catfolk, centaur, naga, and occasional crosses between them, this category is generally not referred to as a whole because of the differences between the various species. Sizes tend to follow the animal component (smaller critters will lead to smaller humanoids), but 7' mousefolk and 4' cowfolk are far from unheard of. Species tend to be functionally similar to humans, with adaptations and preferences based upon their genetics (improved grace, skill at tracking, strength, sense of smell or hearing, flight/gliding abilities, etc).

Bayonet on a dissipator?

Alternate title: Making things more complicated for myself for the sake of aesthetics.

I'm not sure if I can put a proper bayonet on a dissipator AR-15, by virtue of the long hand guard. I've seen a few dissipator bayonets with sawn-off grips, but that's obnoxious since it's not useful when unmounted and I don't want it always mounted. Nobody makes a rail mount bayonet that isn't ridiculously tiny, which means something else I probably have to make myself because I made things more complicated by getting a dissipator (assuming I opt to get one). I think I'm going to have to develop a non Kel-Tec folding bayonet, designed to fix in place and stay there and still be able to fold. Have a bayonet like one of the various integral folding bayonets, but not tied to the gun's accuracy (Couldn't hit a damn thing with my M44 until I learned that it was zeroed with the bayonet fixed, at which point I started dinging all the gongs).

I've also decided that the SRE/SRP (Simplest Rifle Ever/Simplest Rifle Possible) will have an optional add on of a big freaking integral bayonet.

In an unrelated matter, am I the only one who wants Zerg/Tyrannid/alien death race de jour shooting targets? Screw zombies, I'll practice on ravening alien space hordes any day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to tell you are not a catalog's target demographic

When that magazine has 40mm grenades on sale in all non-splody types.

Got a Streicher's right next to where I work, and while it's aimed at police and military service members, it's still nice to get some hands on with gear before you buy it. Picked up my Streamlight Protach 1L there (was looking mostly for holsters, figured if I was going to start carrying a flashlight would be handy too). Signed up for their catalog while I was at it, because it's always fun to read about things you can't buy (I've always liked tactical shields and the like, never mind that they're worth more than my present car).

Other things they have you don't see for sale elsewhere: flashbangs, those collapsible road spike strip things, evidence bags, and tactical body armor.

Musings on Joining the Military

As I hurtle towards my graduation into the real world, I look towards my future and options to set myself on the right path towards it. The economy sucks, and for whatever reason I haven't the slightest luck in job hunting (other than the nice folks at Tandemkross who came across some of my work and expressed interest in my helping the company as a contract designer), and a boulder of student debt looms over my head. If I can snag a proper engineering job, I can marathon what debt I have out of existence in a year or two. But it's always good to have a plan B. For me, that plan B is presently the National Guard (or possibly one of the reserves).

All my life, people have assumed I would go into the military. Not because of any strong family tradition, although entering the service is quite common within my family and friends, but simply because of my personality and motivations. When I work out, I do so not for appearance or health benefits; I work out for the express purpose of increasing my combat performance. Fighting, in all its forms, comes to me with terrifying ease. As a small child, I went to the adult classes because the other kids posed no challenge. I fought on equal terms against the adults, even those many times my size, weight, and rank. Later in life, after a prolonged period of inactivity, I returned. Having just worked out to the extent that my legs could barely hold me (going either direction up stairs nearly caused my legs to give out with every step), out of shape, and out of practice, I fought every opponent to a clear draw despite their best efforts. Guns, knives, it matters not the form, they all come to me as naturally as any trainer could ever hope. I even have the opinions of several medical professionals that I am incredibly tough.
Should I choose to enlist, I intend to aim for special forces. I neither care for nor want any accolades or acknowledgements, it would simply be a waste of my talents and capabilities not to. Physically and mentally, I can withstand that which few others can, which in my mind makes it my duty to do so.

And yet, I hesitate. I have no fear of basic training, indeed much of the experience is something I would gladly pay to receive. I have no fear of being sent to face the enemy, for I am more at ease in combat than many social situations. What then holds me back? The problem is twofold; The first is a problem I've heard of from nearly everyone who has served in recent history, arbitrary rules set by upper brass that are at minimum stupid, if not outright dangerous. Problems like those described here. The second is the present political climate. When I swear an oath, I take it seriously, and I fear the chance of being ordered to violate my oath of enlistment should I take it. I will do my duty and refuse an order that I cannot obey without violating my oath, but I'm well aware that I am distinctly unlikely to earn myself any friends in doing so. The USA and what it stands for is well worth fighting for, but service to the government as it stands may not be the best means to do so.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1000 year old technology

Guns are a known technology. Earliest examples date all the way back to nearly 1000 years ago. Yet some people seem to want to try to uninvent them, as shown by the whole stupid kerfluffle around 3D printed guns.

A tad bit Communism Stronk, but I can totally get behind the message of Guns for the People.

A friend of mine and I have a project, to develop the absolute simplest possible semi-auto rifle. I'm talking uzi levels of simple. She had the project initially just as an idle "to see if I can", and grumpy libertarian that I am, I decided that I wanted to develop a version of all of the major firearm types that can be produced in a garage with nothing but some tubing, C clamps, a dremel tool, and a few hand tools. A drill press, proper vice, blowtorch and stuff will be helpful, but the goal is to make them not technically necessary (just nice to have). Of course, it'd also be designed such that with a minor bit of tooling, you could crank them out for next to nothing but the cost of materials.

I've got a workable basic shotgun (built on a slam fire design, but significantly improved for a minor addition of complexity. Can be fired as fast as you could single-load a pump shotgun), the rifle is nearly all done but the making it, all that's left is to work out a design for a handgun (I'm torn between a simplified version of the Hi-Point, or a simplified version of the micro-uzi).

Essentially, I want to do it as a physical incarnation of this lovely post she penned. 
She'd rather stay on the hardware side of guns, not the politics, but sometimes her hand is forced by the powers of stupid people being wrong on the internet, and the world is a better place for it.

If When we get it/them figured out, there shall be patents, an FFL, and plans made available (I'm all for it/them being widely produced, both at home and by other companies, I'd just like the other companies to have to ask permission first, because Capitalism).

Monday, November 25, 2013

4th amendment shirt

Even comedy webcomics are taking a few shots at the .gov, styled after the EULAs that companies have that they constantly update.

Go grab one if you feel like it, it'll only print if they get enough orders.

Choose your weapon

Time now for a thought exercise in the form of a pop quiz. For the purposes of this, please leave preconceived notions at the imaginary door you came through to get here, and do not consider which is the best answer for your politics, or what have you.

In this exercise, you are all that stands between those you care for and the most gruesome end imaginable. But despite this terrible situation, you're in luck: You may have ANY weapon presently available that can be used by a single person (things requiring tripods or vehicle mounts are out). The threat shall remain mysterious, and all you can hope is that your choice of armament is sufficient to defend those who are depending on you. Your selection and its availability has no impact on what, if any, weapons you will be challenged with. Some possible opponents will be listed at the very end, don't look until you have completed the quiz.

And now the high-stakes game of "would you rather" begins

1) Given the option, would you rather:
   A) Close to melee range?
   B) Remain at a distance?

2) How much training do you want to NEED to use your implement effectively in battle
   A) Days
   B) Months
   C) Years

3) Would you prefer a weapon
   A) That gives an advantage to the larger/stronger combatant
   B) That disregards the effects of size and strength

4) Would you prefer a weapon that is
   A) Effective against a single opponent
   B) Effective against multiple opponents

5) Would you prefer a weapon that is
   A) Designed for ergonomic use
   B) Designed to be easier to make from a single piece of material

From here on, the quiz is written assuming you have elected to utilize a ranged weapon that utilizes ammunition of some variety.

6) Would you rather have:
   A) More shots before reloading
   B) Less shots before reloading

7) Would you prefer:
   A) Low recoil, low power
   B) Medium-low recoil, medium high power
   C) High to very high recoil, high power

8) Oh no, the danger is close to your friend/family/etc! Would you rather
   A) Have complete control of each projectile fired
   B) Have an uncontrollable cone of projectiles

9) Wow, you've really found yourself in quite a tough spot! Going to need a few shots to take care of this. Would you prefer
   A) Faster shots
   B) Slower shots

10) When selecting your ammo, would you prefer ammunition that will
   A) Cause more damage for the same size/weight shot
   B) Cause less damage for the same size/weight shot

11) Jeez, whatever it is is still coming and you've run empty! Would you rather
   A) Have slower reloads
   B) Have faster reloads

12) Finally, a brief respite, your weapons have driven them back to the edge of their your range. How far back would you prefer to push them? Would you prefer your range to be
   A) Longer
   B) Shorter

13) It was nice while it lasted, but now you're fighting them off from room to room. Would you rather your weapon be
   A) Larger
   B) Smaller

If you've selected well, you may have successfully fended off the threat! First we'll look at what weapon you probably wound up with if you answered honestly for the best defense of your family. Next, let's take a look at some of the possible villains, shall we? They're both after the jump (let's see if this works right, I have no idea what I'm doing).

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I had something else I was going to write about, and as is usual with me, I can't remember what it is (thought of it while driving, couldn't exactly note it down).

Instead, pants. Why is it that freaking nobody makes decent pants anymore? Scrawny legs run in part of my family, so even despite my best efforts (taekwondo, weightlifting, and running) my legs aren't particularly astonishingly muscular, yet I can't fit into "regular" cut jeans in my size. Back when I was younger, I had a bit less muscle, but I could fit pants that fit well enough that I could swing my foot over my head without fear of tearing anything, even while the ample pockets were stuffed to capacity. Nowadays it's all I can do to find pants loose enough in the thighs and seat to give me the freedom of movement to climb stairs.

Now you can't even find decent hip pockets, let alone pants it's possible to move in. One of my requirements for pants is that I be able to throw a head-level knee without adjusting things around to be sure everything is optimal. All of my older pants used to meet this requirement, but they've long since worn out (got them in high school, have only packed on muscle since then). Only my BDUs and a few rare cargo pants manage to leave me sufficient room to move. It seems that even the smallest amount of leg muscle is more than any of the various regular pants companies designed for. I've seen a lot of Johnny Bravo shaped guys, but not to such a degree that pants intended for people who actually have legs that aren't sticks should be discontinued entirely!

I'm afraid for the sake of my pocketbook that I'll only ever be able to get pants I like by shelling out for duty pants/tactical pants/specialty clothing designed for police, military, and bodyguards to be able to move in, and priced accordingly. If I need to, I will, and an upgrade of wardrobe seems appropriate after graduation from college, but still.

Has anyone else had problems with this, or am I the only person on the planet who actually cares about being able to move while wearing pants?

Saturday, November 23, 2013


A post by the Adaptive Curmudgeon on the topic of downtime set me to thinking, as many of his posts do. Read the whole thing, it's written in his usual amusing style.

My comment set me thinking, and I decided that it warranted being expanded into its own post over here for the few people who appear to stop by occasionally to read my ramblings.

Downtime is necessary but dangerous in excess (as are many things). Too much and you fall into a lethargic routine every bit as draining as overwork, which saps you of motivation and capability. I’ve found the few minutes of mind clearing meditation before martial training to be an excellent thing. Downtime should be treated similarly, and I’m quite partial to Eric’s suggestions for tasks to occupy the body and mind during this meditation.

Eric's suggestion was, for reference, with regards to using Wednesday as a day of rest
Eric Wilner says:
If you observe the Sabbath on Woden’s Day, try using some of the time for weapons practice and maintenance, and reading (optionally writing) poetry.
For the appropriateness of other activities (tending chickens, &c.), consult the Hávamál.

I like to plan my New Year's resolutions in advance. A usual one is to reach physical condition capable of meeting the entry standards of most special forces teams (always good to have goals, right? I can usually get pretty close before college gets in the way and I wind up slipping out of shape). I think this next year will include managed, purposeful downtime, as a routine part of my life after graduation.

I'm rather partial to martial meditation, so I think my day of rest will be dedicated to physical and martial training, but I can't afford to neglect my mind. A few hours of reading and/or drawing will also be useful, but I think I need something to continue training my mind. I may test out one of the various brain-training games.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fancier hearing protection

But still not quite what I want. A tip of the hat to The Firearm Blog, obviously


I want something that's almost exactly this, but is also designed to serve as a daily wear thing. Equipped to work as ear buds on top of hearing protection, and can be used as a phone headset, and other such things.

If I get my collapsible helmet figured out to an extent that's actually USEFUL, I'm going to work on a jacket/suit to go with it that's designed to integrate technology and such (connects to phone/mobile computer, has a flexible screen on the wrist, etc), and part of that will be routine wear ear buds/hearing protection, so it can talk to you without annoying everyone around you. Hopefully by that time, Google Glass will have a less stupid looking, lower profile equivalent (I'm hoping for something that's like a modern bluetooth headset, but with an eyepiece, slim enough to slip into a pocket or what have you).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Assorted high-speed gear reviews

High speed in terms of how long I'm taking on them, not how low drag they are.

I've got a big post in the works but my brain isn't working these past few days, so here's this instead while I work on it.

Up first, is the Glock Brand Glock Holster. I think it's called the sport tactical or whatever, Sport Combat Holster. It's minimalist, cheap, and works remarkably well. Reasonably good at hiding away my Glock 17 as far as I'm actually concerned (I'm probably the least subtle concealed carrier possible. My everyday coat 7 months out of the year is an oilskin canvas duster, on a 6'3 athletic guy with military-ish hair). So far the holster has had perfect retention while running, jumping rope, doing all possible forms of calisthenics. I have yet to do parkour with it or do a full refresher of Taekwondo (so many kicks), but I think it will hold up sufficiently well for me to even consider testing it. The holster costs ~$10-13 depending on where you look, and is sufficiently no-frills to bear the Glock name.

Next up, the Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders. They're passive damping earplugs, (mostly) only block loud sounds. My car's muffler just got replaced with one that happens to be really obnoxiously loud inside the car, so I wear them while I drive long distances. I can hear my radio better with them in than without them. I've also used them for shooting, they work at least quite well with .22LR (when not sealed. They're as effective as any other ear plugs when you close up the port that makes the passive sound damping work). You can mostly carry on a conversation with people as normal with them in, but you DO still lose ~5 dB of volume from everything. They're reasonably comfortable, but they make your ears a tad sore after a few hours of being in. Definitely worth the ~$14. Manufacturer's site is here

Cold Steel Ti-Lite. This (4" Zytel version) is my EDC knife. It's pretty no frills, but works great as an EDC. Can snap it open and closed with one hand, it's tough and comes with and holds a great edge (I've shaved with it), and my only real complaint is that gunk builds up and makes folding/unfolding a bit slower. Some gunk builds up in the textured grip, but if you actually care it's easy enough to clean out with a q-tip. I still have a few actual complaints, it's a tad thick (nice in the hand, takes up space in the pocket), and the quillions for auto-deploying when drawn will shred the inside of your pocket (and can occasionally snap the knife partway open when you don't want it to, I've almost gotten a few cuts that way). Still, pretty sure it's the best knife I've ever owned (not that extensive a list, only other EDC knives were an S&W Power-Glide, which looks like a butterfly knife but opens completely differently and is cool looking, but very bulky, and I think another S&W, HRT knife). Even if I get a different knife to replace this, odds are good it will be a Cold Steel. Manufacturer's page is here

Nobody paid for this or gave me anything, or I might have actually put some effort into this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wasteland Tech: Gadgets

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 
-Arthur C Clarke

In a world where magic and technology have evolved side by side, what happens when magic is sufficiently understood to be indistinguishable from technology? When you go to buy a phone, do you buy the one that works on radio signals, or an embedded Communication spell? Does your gun run on the same old powder as we're used to, or is it a magical mass driver you dumped a tube of bullets into, or maybe a combination of magic and machinery?

Wasteland tech falls into four major categories.

Technological: The old fashioned way, how it works here is how it works there. It's easy to maintain by just about anyone with the skills, and isn't dependent upon ambient magic or anything else beyond maybe the power to run it.
Base cost, base availability

Magical: Sometimes the easiest way to get things done is to throw some magic at the problem. In the Wastelands and the areas that border them, magical effects can still outpace technological ones in some fields, but such devices are harder to mass produce, harder to repair, and may have spotty reliability if the local mana fluctuates. They're easily disrupted by the magical weirdness that is so common, and anti-magic fields and dispelling effects will knock them out, if not outright destroy them. With the availability of power and power-to-magic spells, they're at least reasonably affordable (usually roughly competitive with technological devices with comparable capabilities). Work wherever there's magic (a magic cell phone may have a standby time of forever in medium to high mana, but it's harder to recharge without someone who can charge a powerstone)
1.1x base cost

Magitech (Reliable): Magitech comes from blending magic and technology, as one might expect. This blend breaks things down into easy-to-make, easy-to-use functions, each part handled by magic or technology as is most prudent. However, the ease of tech comes at the cost of susceptibility to interference. The mechanical parts may jam, AND the magic component may be interrupted. Usually used to get access to relatively affordable stuff of slightly higher TL, or give some improvements where tech or magic alone can't (such as a tv/radio with improved antenna reception).
 .9x base cost, higher-TL penalties reduced to 1.25x

Magitech (Unreliable): Similar to reliable magitech, but not as well understood. If reliable magitech is carefully engineering components to work together, unreliable magitech is dumping a box of parts on the table and beating it with magic until the device does roughly what it's supposed to. Side effects are common, as the actual workings of the device aren't particularly understood. It does what it was made to, but the actual mechanism by which this is achieved is unknown, if not unknowable. Usually used for getting access to tech equivalent to several TLs higher, it can also be used in a pinch to make (mostly) workable gear without much to work with. Achieves the same effect as other gear for a good bit cheaper than other methods of production at the same level, but has extremely common side effects (which may be determined on on item creation or per each use, as is appropriate). They commonly explode when they break (or if you try to take it apart to figure out how it works).
.6x base cost, no higher-TL cost/weight penalties (increased side effects instead)

Oh wait, you're serious? Let me laugh even harder

That is until one or a few them KIA and the suits get stolen, reverse engineered, and we'll have a field of "superheroes" fighting against "superheroes". As the movies have shown us, superhero vs superhero always ends up in mass destruction. Instead of focusing on developing more lethal and potent weapons, we should be heading towards the goal of 100% disarmament globally. Today 2:59am

From the comments on this, http://sploid.gizmodo.com/us-army-wants-to-get-iron-man-suit-for-troops-in-just-f-1467299501 a topic I'm quite fond of. All the other comments immediately point out just how "well" that would actually work, with various degrees of heads in clouds. 

On the other hand, if these things hit the market, I want one. Even if I'm a couple generations behind "top of the line" by the time I can afford it. We're going to need stuff like this to be pretty common if we want to become a space-faring species. If we switch over to spacesuits that don't fight your every motion, the powered exosuit feature isn't quite as vital, although still useful for space-things.

Also have to say, I really like the quality of the animation. I'm pretty sure I've seen better made animations in that style from people just making stuff for fun (and of course plenty at about that level, since not everyone can be great at things).