Sunday, January 31, 2016

My Life as a Shooter: God Bless the M1 Carbine

The M-1 Carbine .30 Caliber, Designed right before WWII and issued to U.S. Troops all the way through Vietnam. Made to be an intermediate caliber for rear echelon units to replace the handgun for self defense, they saw action in every theater of war. Light, Handy and a real classic. - From Sootch's video

Of all the small arms of the World Wars, the M1 Carbine turned out to be my favorite, and I would be thrilled if I ever received one as a present. The setup in this video--strap, slipover magazine pouch, no Bubba jobs--is how I want to run this incredible carbine.

The ammo is available where I am, and suitable for the same purposes that I'd use the CZ 527 Carbine, the SKS, or a lever-action rifle in .357 Magnum or .30-30 Winchester. Sure, I want a M1 Garand, a Gewehr 98, SMLEs, M1903 Springfield, etc. but nothing excites me like the M1 Carbine.

Sootch demonstrates all the reasons: light, recoil is not a factor, very handy, solid in its effective range, and (via replica makers) still available (and that means parts are not hard to come by). The costs Sootch quotes is not what I've seen at the local shows; it's been cheaper here, but I don't know how long that will last.

But if I got one, this would be my semi-auto of choice for most purposes. I may get others, especially an AR-15 and an AK-47, but this sweet classic carbine has my heart. Aesthetics, effectiveness (especially with good ammo usage), handiness, and a proven record of service appeal to me far more than the latest techno-wonders out of the SHOT Show. Give me ones of these and I am a happy man.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mike Cernovich Talks Failure

Mike Cernovich published this article today at his site, Danger & Play.
We will do anything to preserve our precious little egos.

Think about the last time you saw a girl who made you stop. You didn’t approach because, “She’s a bitch.”

Whenever we refuse to take action, we find some reason to explain why the action would have been pointless. As Benjamin Franklin quipped, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”

Rather than say, “I’m being coward here and need to take action,” we say, “Oh well that idea would never work. It’s pointless to try it.”

That’s why you won’t quit your job, start a business on the side, or talk to beautiful women.

It’s not because the idea won’t work or that you don’t want to run business or that beautiful women aren’t wonderful.

It’s because your ego is terrified of being punched.
He uses space in an article about why pundits suck to talk about failure and how to deal with it. While he does go back to show how the quoted piece applies to the ways of political pundits, he ends on a conclusion that demonstrates the need for his useful note that anyone can do (and, of course, a plug for his book):
Change your mindset in these two ways only, your entire life will change.
  • Accept mistakes as opportunities for growth.
  • Refuse to define your identity based around your lowest points.
He's right. Making those two changes will improve your life, as they directly attack the biggest problem most have with failure: the ability to afford to fail at all. (And yes, these two shifts will also allow you to handle the material aspect better.)

I am surprised as how much less stress I have since I stopped flipping tables over this stuff. It harmonizes with another truism: "Pros fail more than amateurs ever attempt." This is why "fail faster" is a thing; the successful attempt more, fail more, learn more from failure, recover faster, and try again- and they do so faster and faster and faster with less and less effort over time. The conclusion, therefore, is this: Perfection is a Result of Revision.

There is no short-cut. Do the work.

Friday, January 29, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: The Time Problem

In yesterday's post, I said that the reason for why tabletop RPGs face abandonment from irrelevance is due to the significant time commitment that they require, on par with a part-time job, and that this requirement is the single issue that's been wrecking the medium and hobby for over 30 years.

Tabletop boardgames and card games eliminate the commitment and reduce the time to something far more suitable to most people's lives. The same is true for their virtual counterparts. You may play for three or four hours, but you do so only when you--the individual--have that time and want to use it that way (and nothing more compelling arises). Play doesn't carry over from session to session, or even instance to instance, so you can get on or off and miss nothing. You can not play for indefinite periods of time, and miss nothing.

Tabletop wargames engage many of the same things that some boardgames do, often with a secondary hobby (contrary to Games Workshop) of modeling as a parallel process. Again, this allows an individual to engage when and how he likes with no commitment. Go with a virtual wargame, or one of the chit or token-based ones, and even that secondary thing is gone. (It's why I'm back into Car Wars and BattleTech.) Newer wargames do make an effort to reduce overall time down to an hour or less, from setup to breakdown.

Videogames combine rulesets and campaign scenarios into one product, whereas the tabletop RPG (and others in the same situation) seperate the two; for the few hobbyists willing to roll their own content as a secondary hobby, that's great, but most want plug-and-play because they are utterly and totally unwilling to do useful labor--to work--for their entertainment. Furthermore, outside of raiding in MMORPGs, they are drop-in/drop-out affairs and have small or no time issues as well as commitment issues.

In short, if it requires routine scheduling--and that is what tabletop RPGs and others like them do--then the return on the investment has to be so superior to the easier alternatives that it is compelling in the way that books called "page-turners" (or browsing the Tropes Wiki) compel people.

And, quite frankly, they're not.

Hence, as I said yesterday, the threat of irrelevance.

No amount of belated embrace of technology will help. It only makes the case against them clearer through immediate and obvious contrast with the alternatives. (Why play a tabletop RPG online when I could just play a MMORPG, especially now that free-to-play games that aren't shit exist.) No amount of storytelling wankery helps; it makes comparison to just writing your own fan-fiction too easy to do (and fan-fiction would be a better use of their time). No amount of overloading on information that is not immediately useful at the table helps; it just gets in the way and rarely makes a difference in actual play.

What will help is a serious reconsideration of what the medium is, identify its strengths and weaknesses, compare against the alternatives, and then--and only then, not before--make new products that eliminate the time commitment problem. These new products would attack the alternatives' weaknesses while playing up the medium's strengths, focus solely on relevant information at the table, and foster a gameplay culture where the time commitment returns far superior dividends- and thus justifies engagement at all.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: The Threat Facing Tabletop RPGs


That's the problem. The medium of tabletop RPGs, being a tabletop wargame derivative in origin and misunderstood thereafter by successive cohorts of players, always existed in an uneasy liminal state where folks who had itches to scratch had nowhere else to go. That started to fray with the creation of Wizardry and Ultima, showing that videogames already had the means to cut away at the audience for tabletop RPGs via the superior satisifaction of whatever element the tabletop RPG offered at that time.

But, however much the tabletop scene tries (and, often, fails) to confront these threats to its existence, the biggest problem remains the one that is the biggest killing: time commitment.

To play a tabletop RPG, you have to gather together in a single place at a single time to pursue a single objective for up to half a work-day in duration on a frequent and regular basis. That's the same time commitment required of a paying job. No wonder most people quit tabletop RPGs in favor of alternatives; those alternatives deliver equal or superior value for far less time and far less commitment.

This has been a known issue since those alternatives--not just videogames, but primarily videogames--emerged in force over thirty years ago, but there is NO attempt to fix this issue (aside from some in the Old School Renaissance community, who attempt to revive the original gameplay paradigm that had no such time commitment issues). Just more lies, more doubling-down, and metric fuckloads of projection about it all is what we get. No wonder more and more withering of the scene occurs. To this day, it's Dungeons & Dragons (or a derivative, like Pathfinder), one or two also-rans, and a wastelands of delusional hobbyists think they matter as anything but an IP hothouse or farm league for the gaming media that actually fucking matters.

That's not a vital scene. That's not a thriving scene. That's a pathetic parasite barely hanging on to the one host still able to support it.

That's irrelevance. Until the time commitment issue is sorted, tabletop RPGs are going to be seen as a waste of time and potential by the majority of gamers.

And that, I think, plays into a host of other known issues about tabletop RPGs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Stop Buying Useless Crap

Recently, I won a gift subscription to Lootcrate from one of the Twitch streamers I follow. I have now received that Lootcrate. I am disappointed, and I shall not continue the subscription.

There's only so long that a man can justify the acquisition of cheap, useless junk in the name of "cool", and there is no way in Hell that I can justify $20 per month for a small box with only one guaranteed useful item (a T-shirt) and maybe one or two other useful items (the January box has a flashlight, with batteries included). The vinyl statue of a Space Invader (from the classic videogame), the cute Facehugger plushie (wrong on two accounts), and the Multipass thing are useless crap. The booklet is full of useless fluff that might as well have come out of Kotaku, and better covered--for free--elsewhere online.

Even 20 years ago, I would've balked at this, and I am disappointed that so many people are so stupid about their money as to buy into this lame scheme. The only thing I can say that's positive about Lootcrate is that it does not misrepresent what it is about; they say they curate crap on a theme and pack it into a box for you to receive, at Wal-Mart prices (and yes, $20 a month for this crap package is cheap).

So, subscription cancelled. I value my money far more than this business offers in exchange. If they want me back, dump the crap and the fluff in favor of useful tools and equally useful (and exclusive) information. Less Stupid Boy Shit and more Useful Man Stuff.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Narrative Warfare: You're On Your Own, Europe

The invasion of Europe, under the color of a refugee crisis, has done more to bring reality back to the face of the West's slumbering sillies than anything else in recent years. One of the most persistent follies is the denial of the duty upon the individual to defend themselves from predation by others. Always the same line of bullshit, that government will be there, and even if it isn't it still has to be the only one that can.

Well, it's quite clear now that this is a fraud. That government? Made up of people just like you, and they aren't keen to die uselessly either- even when it's their job. Stop counting on them.
Police flee for their lives at Swedish migrant camp after they are surrounded by screaming mob as they try to relocate ten-year-old boy ‘who had been raped multiple times’

The attack allegedly happened in the town of Västerås in central Sweden. Staff at the refugee centre feared the 10-year-old boy was being abused. They failed to remove the child after the refugee would not let the child go. Ten police officers failed to save the child after being attacked by the mob.

Your governments don't care about you. They actively betrayed you to make this crisis in the first place. They're loyal to someone other than you, the people they supposedly (but, never, actually) serve. You've been left to die, or worse, by the very "authorities" you trusted to protect you.

It does not matter what some jackass in a suit says; you have the duty to go armed. It does not matter what you think; you have the duty to go armed. It does not matter what some git in a black robe, or some ink on a page, says; you have a duty to go armed. YOU are the only one in this life that you can count upon to protect you, your property, or your dependents. You, therefore, have the duty to be armed and the obligation to acquire and maintain ALL of the skills and tools necessary to fulfill this duty AT ALL TIMES.

Guns control--arms control--is for SLAVES. Free men go armed.

The following video reminds Americans that the US government has no duty to protect either- and you Europeans can count on this being the case where you live. While you can, dig that up youselves.

You're on your own, folks. Government is, at best, indifferent to you; in most cases, they are actively preying upon you and not to be trusted.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Never Gainsay This Again

It's openly acknowledged right fucking here at Havard Magazine. Shut the fuck up about this not being a thing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vlog Recommendation: Ahoy

Ahoy is a man who runs a YouTube channel focused on videogames, but rather than just doing Best Of or Gameplay Moments, he delves into the history of various aspects of the business. This video is one such thing, where he does a very lengthy and detailed retrospective into one of the biggest games in the history of the medium.

Sometimes he flips the script. Instead of doing videos meant to inform outsiders about videogames, he does something for gamers to inform them about the things they play with (his series of videos about various firearms being most obvious). You can see the attention to detail in each one, which is why they come out at the frequency (or lack thereof) that they do. This video below is atypical in its length, but typical in the quality of the work presented. Another exceptional work of his is Nuclear Fruit, his presentation on how the Cold War influenced the rise of videogames as a medium.

He's worth following. Below is the aforementioned Doom retro-spective. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Life as a Shooter: Yes, That Is a Sturmgewehr,

We dropped by Hill & Mac Gunworks booth to check out the new STG-N. This rifle is an awesome homage to the original Sturmgewehr STG-44 in every way with many modern features that folks will enjoy. H&M will also offer this firearm in a pistol for as well and in several calibers including the original 7.92 Kurz.

Yep, this is the IV8888 folks what work for Moss Pawn & Gun attending--as Media--the 2016 SHOT Show. They're releasing a lot of short videos such as this one, and I am pleased that new centerfire-chambered STGs are soon to arrive at the Friendly Local Gun Shop. I'm even more pleased that the option includes the original chambering, regardless of how rare or expensive such ammunition is, and despite these not being select-fire rifles. (You can also get it in .22 Long Rifle.)

This is immediately on the Wish List, one in the original and one in a more common cartridge, and I want to focus on using them in terms of Living History applications (in addition to just enjoying a replica of a historical game-changing firearm; your ARs and AKs come from this rifle).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Narrative Warfare: In Canada, Freedom of Speech Holds

Allum Bokhari reported out of Breitbart today this:
A rare victory for free speech in Canada. Gregory Alan Elliott, the Toronto artist who was dragged through an extraordinary 3-year criminal harassment trial after he disagreed with feminists on the internet, has just been acquitted.

The story is about Gregory Alan Elliott, and his legal issues when he argued with some Social Justice cultists over Twitter. They drummed up a Narrative Warfare campaign against him that went on for three years, during which time his ability to work went down like the Hindenburg, and it held until today to see if he would actually go to prison for it.

He didn't. The court saw, and ruled, that this was just adults arguing and NOT "harassment". Not Guilty.

Not that this stopped his accusers and their allies from being Social Justice cultists. First they lied. Now they're doubling-down. (And, of course, they're projecting as if screening a 4K film on the side of a building in a snowstorm at midnight.)

And the butthurt flowed.

But it lead to a happy ending for Mr. Elliott.

He needs help with legal expenses, so if you spare some cash throw it his way.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Past is DONE and GONE. Deal With NOW.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

(Bold emphasis is mine.)

You lost a limb. Your father used you to do his Droopy Is Mad impression. Your mother stole all your wealth and threw you out a plane. Your love of your life stabbed you in the back when you trusted her most and left you do die, telling all and sundry that you tried to rape her. You got shot, by accident, because some gang-banger missed his target so bad and you were behind three walls and a sofa that didn't stop the bullet. Your man turned you out under color of some BS religion. Your grandparents lost their immediate family in one of the many genocides of the past century. Sempai Never Noticed You.

We get it. You got shat on, sometimes well before you're born, and you're not liking that God rolled 3d6 in order down the row and rolled badly.

So. Fucking. What.

You got a shit row of attributes for the Real Life RPG. You got screwed on the Hit Die and Starting Gold roles. The game goes on regardless of what you got to work with. The Great Game Master demands that you step the fuck up and fulfill just ONE FUCKING DEMAND:

Do The Best You Can With What You've Got.

Yes, I know all about failure, and I understand why you'd rather take refuge in your past when you can wield that victimization as a club to batter your way to getting what you want in life (or what you can get). That doesn't fix the problem; I know, the hard way, that it's just passage on the Fail Boat. You don't learn from your past this way; you just cling to it like an addict to his drug.

You want to know what the folks who succeed in life have in common? They not only learn how to deal with failure, they make failure work for them as part of a system. That's right, they don't think about working towards goals; they think in terms of creating success-generating systems wherein failure is just the end of an iterative process that concludes in a process system that creates and sustains the desired result.

This ain't the fucking Illiminati. No secret rites. No handshakes, sacrifices, or oaths of Ruinous Powers involved. I've got sweet fuck-all for money, and I'm putting in the time to find the folks willing to prove that they're legit by give this information away. You want to make that past misfortune worthwhile? Pull off some metaphorical Alchemy and use those experiences to build up an interative system that creates the success you desire.

That's why the past is done. This ain't Doctor Who; no mad man in a box in going to appear to whisk you away to fix that shit. That arm is gone. That wife is gone. That man is dead. That house is ashes and dust. That job got the fuck on a boat and went overseas. Your son died. Your daughter done goofed. Your dog loved you as only a dog can, but he too is gone. You're still here. Moving on isn't a fucking choice. No brakes on this train, folks.

So, what's it going to be? Cling like a crackwhore to a past that can't--not doesn't, can't--do you any good anymore, or deal with the real world that is here and now and take control over your creation of your future- because one way or another you WILL create it, and unless you accept that the past is done and cut off that dead weight all you will do is create a future that kills you and all you hold dear.

Choose. Now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Darkest Dungeon is Released

One of the most engaging dungeon-crawling games in a while, Darkest Dungeon, is out of Early Access and now released.

The big deal for me is that this game, moreso than many others, really does capture the feel of early D&D campaigns focused around exploring and clearing a megadungeon. Characters are disposable, death is permanent, poor planning produces piss-poor results, and you run multiple characters at a time.

I want this game. It's on my wishlist at Steam. Until I can get into a proper Open Table West Marches D&D campaign, this will have to do as this is the closest other-media equivalent to a good and proper campaign of D&D.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: Yet More Legion Hype

I'm not one who likes to play the role of a healer due to the gameplay model involved. Playing Health Bar Whack-a-Mole is not fun, which is still the way that Holy Priests in World of Warcraft work. Discipline Priests, however, are about to again return to prominence due to changes in Legion that restore much of the utility this specialization had in Mists of Pandaria. In short, this is the way healing gameplay has to be for healers to become more than a distinct minority: you do damage to your foes, through which you heal your allies.

Bellular Gaming put out a video demonstrating the Discipline Priest in action. You really ought to look into this if you're interested in either game design or World of Warcraft, because (a) he's a game designer himself and (b) quite the player (focused on a Marksmanship Hunter for now).

Notice the model here: you are intended to focus upon actively contributing to burning down your group's targets, through which you passive do your job of keeping the group up; your direct heals are supplementary to your usage of the Atonement mechanic. That's how you get players interested in playing a healer.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Life as a Shooter: The Coonan as "Supercar"

Minnesota has a few firearms manufacturers. DPMS is part of the group containing Remington, and it focuses on semi-automatic rifles of varying chamberings build on the AR-15 platform. Magnum Research got its start making the Desert Eagle under license from Israeli Military Industries, but since diversified. Boberg Arms focuses on pistols meant for Concealed Carry usage.

All of them, to varying degrees, get both respect and criticism for what they do and how they do it. In car terms, they're either mainstream car makers like Toyota or Ford or quirky ones like Kia. However, there is a Supercar equivalent here in Minnesota, and getting one of their signature pistols is definitely on the Wish List. That company is Coonan, and the equivalent is their eponymous autoloading handgun: The Coonan.

Whereas a pretty standard handgun (e.g. Glock 17, Smith & Wesson M&P, Springfield XD) runs about $500-$600 at retail, the Coonan starts at a MSRP of $1495- and that's the no-frills base model. It's a modification of the classic 1911 design, but what it's modified to fire is the big deal: .357 Magnum.

The .357 Magnum cartridge is usually used in revolvers and lever-action rifles for a simple reason: it's a centerfire cartridge with a rim about the base of its casing. The 1911 design is meant for cartridges that aren't rimmed at the base, and it turns out that it took significant work to make the modifications necessary to produce the Coonan. In addition, like supercars, they aren't made in the massive quantities of your Glocks and CZs, which further drives up the price into the premium category.

But it's worth that premium. Colion Noir's brief review shows why this is an excellent addition, after you have your workaday weapons sorted. (Another reason for why this is a supercar-equivalent; it's not the sort of thing you are using as an everyday carry.) For your convenience, that video is immediately below:

Someday, when I've made it, I'll pick one up- specifically this model.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blog Recommendation: A Writer's Journey

Eriador Press, founded by author Nat Russo, runs a blog called "A Writer's Journey". In addition to being where Nat talks up his books, he writes a hell of a lot on what it takes to succeed as an independent author these days. From this post, he talks up the necessity of an author platform towards success.
I had to slap myself. This couldn’t continue. So I took stock of what led me to writing and blogging to begin with: helping people improve their craft. Not selling books! It was never about selling books for me! As soon as I realized this, I went back to what I had been doing for two years: I went back to being a content provider, first and foremost. I slashed the number of book ads I was tweeting and went back to blogging and mentoring.

Sales rocketed. And by rocketed, I mean they leaped from 3/day to over 70/day, where they’ve remained ever since. Necromancer Awakening climbed onto three different Amazon bestseller lists and raced up to the top 10 on each.

All with minimal advertising.
That's the big reason for a platform. It's a one-stop destination for people to find you, find what you produce on the daily, and then follow links for them to buy your stuff. You are what they're buying. This is why advertising, in this game, isn't worthwhile; you succeed by making a connection to your audience, not by shilling.

This one is worth adding to your blogroll, especially if you're like mean and seeking to learn this business by making use of what others learned the hard way.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

SocJus is Heresy! Purge the Heretic!

So, those braindead fucktards at The Mary Sue decided to open the wrong hole and spew some bullshit about how 40K is problematic and sexist and oh fuck this.

Go on, SocJus, take on a fandom whose entire lore and mythology revolves around a fantastic militant orthodox religion and its super-powered elite warrior-monks who are so fucking metal that they have their own fan bands and tribute songs. Come at them, and you will rue the day you ran into this:

You are CHAOS--The Ruinous Powers--to them. They've read, played, trained for generations to resist your bullshit. I look forward to seeing you whine when they reject you so hard that you drown in your own tears of failure and frustration.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Rot in SF/F Fandom Cannot Be Ignored Anymore

Cataline Sergius wrote and published a post last Sunday about the rot--the child-rape and enabling thereof--in the Science Fiction/Fantasy scene (focused on books, and further on the con scene- something trying to carry over to better cons like PAX) that's been going on for decades. You can read it here in its entirety.

But here, let me excerpt a key piece for you:
It is the subject you must never speak of in Con circles. You can condemn rape culture all you like. You can play little Pol Pot as Scalzi does if a Con refuses to accept the latest self-contradictory Codes of Conduct. You can scream, obfuscate and misdirect as Darrell Schweitzer does.

But you must never acknowledge, let alone do anyting to actively prevent IT.

The question is...Why? For the love of god, why?

The only answer I think must come down to Identity.

Identity trumps reason every time.

After Star Wars came out Science Fiction and Fantasy merged into something very approachable by the masses.

Before then it was safer to be caught in public wearing ass-less chaps and a posing pouch than it was to be seen in a Star Fleet uniform.

The people that went to the cons never fit in anywhere else. Most were at least one standard deviation above the norm in terms of intelligence but it didn't do them any good. Instinctive knowledge of social mores was impossible for them. The truth is their efforts to raise their status among their peers with frequent displays of superior intellect, annoyed the crap out of everyone around them. They paid for it socially and a failure loop was established. Today we would think of these people as high functioning autistics. The truth is that a normal life was always beyond them.

Most of them were poor. The money to get a hotel room and pay for Con registration was a major investment for them.

Loneliness infected every facet of their lives. Sex was limited to self help. No one shared their interests or if they did, those people had the damn good sense to keep that shit to themselves. Sharing those interests with nerds was nowhere near worth the ensuing pariah status in high school.

When the Cons came along, these defectives could wrap themselves in a world where they could pretend that they were secret kings. The Identity of the TrueFen was established along with their lords and leaders the SMOFs. It was their safe space. It was their only social outlet It was their escape.

Their real lives were lived entirely in support of this secret identity. An identity that gave them worth and eased the pain of loneliness. The real world turned into the Mundane World and became even more hated than it was before.

And the secret horror beyond imaging was being forced out of it. The SMOFs had that power.

So what happens when a SMOF turns out to be an unspeakable abomination?

Simple, you don't let yourself think about it. And you scream until your lungs blown completely out at anyone who tries to make you.

Anything is better than risking the Identity of the Secret King.

There you have it, folks. The Hugos fight of last year? This is where the SocJus cultists in SF/F base their opposition: it's a clear, present, and immediate threat to their Identity. Their opposition this year? The same. It's why they so often bite the hands that feed them when someone adapts a SF/F book to film or television (and why they try so hard to get their claws into those scenes), and there is one additional bit- it threatens to expose a core pillar of their Identity to the public at-large, which would result in their downfall (and they should fall).

This is NOT a scene worth saving, worth reforming. This is something that deserves the Judgement of Sodom & Gomorrah. Because wrapped up in this wretched Identity is the practice of, and apology for, the predation upon children. (Go on, read the linked post, or the expose at the Castallia House blog that prompted it.

No more "safe spaces" for this corruption. Purge it. Purge with fire.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Narrative Warfare: The Lovebomb Did It

During my time as a graduate student, I took an elective that met on Saturdays. I would go home by taking the bus across town, and when I did I'd pay attention to whom I rode with. One day I sat across from a young woman who attended McNally Smith in St. Paul, aiming to get the technical training needed to get work in the music business as an engineer. I learned all of this because she chatted away with some hood rat trying to pick her up (and failing) using the "I'm a producer!" line.

I had some hope that she'd make good on the connections she talked about to get somewhere after graduated, so I kept an eye out. She disappeared, which I did not think anything of at the time; the crash hit, most folks struggled to find work worth doing (as they do now), so I figured that she was flipping burgers or serving coffee until she got into the business she trained for.

Well, that didn't happen.

You see, she became an Islamist.

I recalled her name a year or so later, only to find her Twitter account (since suspended) where she spouted propaganda lines straight out of what you'd expect from an ISIS video and spewed the salt good and hard upon the world she was born into, grew up within, and previously had a long-term plan to contribute to. She moved to Wisconsin, found a Muslim enclave, and made herself at home there.

I was shocked. Her timeline, however, revealed the clue to solve the question of "Why?": a man.

Once that fact came to my attention, everything else fell into place. I'd seen this sort of thing twice in recent years, and by that I mean the phenomenon of a woman undergoing wholesale overhauls of their persona due to the presence of a desirable man electing to take said woman as his woman. She surrenders herself into his frame of reference, willingly becoming an extension of his will as a display of loyalty to him for being with her.

One was a woman of my acquaintance who turned into a Blue Line cultist when she got with the man who is now her husband and the father to her son, a woman who was at the very end of marriageability (and fertility) at the time that gave her what she most desired. The other is a famous woman who is no longer the New Hotness, but still able to work in her field due to past success carrying her (and a good work ethic), but wanting to swap to being a wife and mother; she got her hands into a man who's talent allows him to work anywhere he can get Internet access.

Let's break this down: a woman who has long be unable to satisfy a primal need, and is on the threshold of being forever denied that satisfaction, finds deliverance in the arms (to put it politely) of a man willing to accept her as the vessel for the fulfillment of his similar desires; she's so overcome by this relief (and fears it being taken from her) that she subordinates herself utterly to the man in order to keep him, taking his side against all others in all things, even if it meant forsaking all she formerly was.

This is hardly unbelievable. Cults depend on this, specifically profile people to select for it, and deliberately exploit it to gain the fanatical recruits necessary for the messy business. It's called "lovebombing", and what the two examples I gave above show is that this thing is so emergent that--given the preconditions--it can come about without the man intending it. (Which is the case in the two examples; totally emergent and unintended.)

So, when looking for an explanation for why Bobby suddenly turns his coat and stabs you in the back check his intimacies: a shift there is very often the cause, which makes the behavior a rather obnoxious and dangerous form of virtue-signalling (however sincere the speaker), and should be regarded accordingly.

And there is your Narrative Warfare tip for today.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: Legion Hype Returns

Today Blizzard pushed the latest build for the Legion playtest out to the clients and brought the servers up. There's an infographic already that sums up what's returning and what's now available can be found here. (When you see it, you'll know why it's a link and not embedded.)

We're getting close to having the entirely of Legion's leveling content open for testing, as well as making good headway towards having all of the classes and specializations (and associated Artifacts and quests and Class Halls) open for testing. That is good news, and means that we're on pace to be in a position to look forward to testing the first (i.e. at launch) tier sometime this Spring.

I'm already paying attention to my usual folks (Finalboss, Fatboss, Brutalstatic, Belluar Gaming, Preach Gaming, Asmongold) to see how things work, what broke, etc. and otherwise observe the process as my account is not flagged for access as of this post. One thing I have noticed is that the dev team has indeed committed to a big paradigm shift for them:

You can do the leveling zones in any order.

Fan-fucking-tastic. Sure, other MMOs have had something like this for years, and in World of Warcraft you have your choice of leveling paths here and there, but the big thing here is that the scaling technology currently being used in Timewalking events (where your character is scaled down to a set level and Item Level) will be deployed to make this work. I hope that they deliver on this promise.

For more, MMO-Champion has your back.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Life as a Writer: When I'm Not Writing, I'm Learning

Learning about the business side of being a professional writer, especially an author, is quite the experience for me. Not so much in that I find it difficult to comprehend, but that it has so many elements to it other than popping up Your Writing Tool Of Choice and putting words down. Lots of moving parts here, and now I see why the publishing business became what it is.

Naturally, in order to keep this to something that I can handle I do what a lot of people do: break it down into a series of smaller steps, then regroup them to summarize different stages of the process (which I usually annotate with relevant skills and tools). Since I'm not going the old way through a house, I'm learning as I go what I need to do and how I need to do it for every step.

So, to that end, I'm bookmarking sites, getting how-to guides, watching videos and podcasts, and studying as if I were back in university (moreso, as this has immediate and direct applicability). I'm doing it in small amounts on a daily basis--an hour here, another there--as part of pacing myself when I write so as to avoid burnout due to fatigue.

The payoff is a widely-expanded skillset, a body of demonstrated competence in those skills, and an anti-fragile independent revenue stream with multiple applications. The cost is time-to-competence development. Since I have an abundance of time, I am willing to pay this cost, and I look forward to enjoying the payoff down the road.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Where I'm At After The Holidays

The last of my Christmas presents are sorted now. I've got a renewed Amazon Prime account now, and I've bought my membership to CONvergence for this year. I've got a small stack of books to read, and I'm keeping warm through this downward turn in the weather here in the North Star state.

I'm holding off on Legion until I have a firm idea of where the development process is at. World of Warcraft and Hearthstone remain my go-to videogames but my Steam account has plenty of stuff on it now; burnout relief is well in hand.

I have the new Car Wars boxed set (the one that got Kickstarted), and I may pick up the Arenas box. I am impressed by this return to form; it was Car Wars that got me into Steve Jackson Games stuff, not OGRE or GURPS, back in the day and damn if I am not happy to have carefully kept all of my old stuff over the years. Now, if only to get more folks playing again where I am.

I have all three of the Distant Worlds albums. Final Fantasy fans, you may envy me now.

Planning the next go at The Burning of Hugo continues. When I get stuck, I swap to other projects until my brain figures out a solution or I come across one by chance. Yes, this includes the non-fiction project, which is in early stages.

And it is stew weather, something I think I'll have some more of now.

But, for those looking for a point, it is this: I am rested, sorted, and ready to resume the larger work before me. These holidays were good ones.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Right in the Feels

(Note: Spoiler protection ended when the film got released. You're on your own.)

That, folks, is a very good explanation for why Chewbacca's shot didn't outright kill Kylo Ren.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

We Don't Need Another Narrative

One of the things that drives me is an absolute hatred for the denigration of truth. I have a very simple reason for it: I need to rely on the information that I acquire to make good decisions and then act upon them. Those who lie to me undermine confidence in the very things that ALL of us need to survive, thrive, and prosper in this world. Those who seek to profit through deception, to steal by fraud, are nothing other than intra-species predators and deserve to be handled as such.

I cannot un-fuck the entirely of the damage done in this manner. What I can do is focus upon critical elements upon which Civilization rests, dig into them as best I can, uncover what fraud exists, expose it, and then bring on the whole truth of it. No more Flanderizing history. No more convenient narratives. No more of anything but the full, raw, complicated truth. We must have it--deserve has nothing to do with it--or we'll continue to fall prey to these predators until we're consumed by them utterly.

Not today. Not on my watch.

I seek truth. I seek all that is real--for there is one true reality, and I invite those who say otherwise to tell gravity to fuck off--and what is true and real often runs afoul of the dogmas of the day. Natural Law is not fair, but it is just; I have never seen so clear a proof that God is than that. My examination of history reveals persistent recurrent patterns where this utter justice comes time and again, but this one is what is relevant now:
  • Some regime imposes rules that run contrary to how Natural Law works. These days, in the name of "fairness" or "justice".
  • A cult forms around that premise and uses it to seize power and impose a totalitarian regime upon the people.
  • The cancer grows and consumes more of the wealth and health until collapse is a threat.
  • An attempt to cut out the cancer--to slaughter the cult utterly, seize power, and fix the problem--arises. If successful, collapse averts and Natural Law is satisfied via justice delivered; if failed, collapse hits and delivers justice via chaos consuming all.
Not perfect--remnants endure--but it reliably works that way.

This is why I oppose the "social justice" cult. It's the front group for the aforementioned totalitarian cult, a bunch of cultists that might as well be going "Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Ftagan!" They use comforting lies, playing upon one's empathy to con you into going along with their fraud, and worms its way into power via other criminal deceptions. Then it reveals its rapacious, vampiric ways by doing as I said above; this is what Vox Day calls "social justice convergence", and what I term "totalitarian".

And like all such cults, this one gets up to the most horrific violations one can do and then has the audacity to lie about it in an equally vile manner. This is NOT the first time it has happened, even recently (as the Saville Scandal in the U.K. revealed, amongst others), but it is the first time in many a year that the cults' (and, I suspect, the entire network therein) ability to squash the truth is hindered by the Internet.

No more Narratives. Only Truth. The whole Truth, and nothing more. That is what I want, and that is what all of us need for Civilization to endure and continue well past our own deaths.

So, to the cultists and their associates and accomplices, I say only this: You are as Carthage, and Carthage Must Be Destroyed!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Twitter Done Goofed

Earlier today, Twitter removed the Verified status from Milo Yiannopolous's Twitter account. Milo was rather bemused by it, despite this being a warning flag to a move to ban him from Twitter entirely for WrongThink.

The response has been a glorious display of shit-posting. So many of his Followers and fans swapped their user avatars to his and their names to his, threw #JeSuisMilo in as a hashtag (that Twitter now disabled auto-complete for), and in a few hours the trend hit #1 in the Anglosphere and rises in nearby countries.

That knock about Twitter's stock price is no joke. It's gone down, and is still going down, in direct proportion to both baleful outside influences (Saudi buy-in) and Social Justice cultist entryism having its usual cancerous effects (Twitter Support is a cultist holding and often acts to fuck over WrongThink users like Milo under color of "harassmant" or some such fraud.) The response follows the SJW playbook: lie (by denying it), double-down (the policies that make it suck), and project (blaming the very people calling them out on being bad).

Yeah, how's that working for you Twitter?

Nice job breaking it, Twitter SJWs. You done goofed. The best thing you can do now is to give Milo his Verified status back, apologize (and do it for real; no non-apologies), and then find another job- like selling adult coloring books.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Narrative Warfare: The Migrant Invasion in Europe

What's going on in Europe--the crime wave spurred by the migrant invasion and backed by the traitorous elites in power there--is not getting any better. It's going to get a lot worse before the inevitable response finally hits and fixes the problem by eliminating the invasion. British YouTube user Sargon of Akkad did a very good video talking about the most recent episode, the mass sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany over New Year's.

Initial reports suggest that there were indeed migrants involved in the 2015 New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne and there was also a corresponding effort by politicians, police officials and the media to downplay if not outright cover-up of migrant involvement in what is, by feminist standards, a rape culture.

Sargon's not wrong. There has been media suppression of the attacks. The reason? It contradicts the Narrative. The elites, demonstrating their contempt for the people that they claim to serve (much as Hollywood does), cover up the horrific rise in crime of all sorts by screaming "RACIST!" at nay-sayers (and "SEXIST!" where applicable) and using state power to suppress them. (See the hit on "right-wing" speech in Germany, when it's just rational dissent against irrational policies.) The deliberate fraud of claiming that most of these invaders are Syrian (they're not), or refugees (they're not), or even families (most aren't; they're military-aged single men and boys) persists. If it weren't for Internet-based independent media, this Narrative would go uncontested.

But we have it, and it is:

And the folks at The Corbett Report and Media Monarchy have noticed the wider issues:

The wider issues, of course, consist of the following:
  • The Western elites are openly treasonous, betraying their constituents for the sake of their own power and wealth, and have no problem using foreign nations to do the wet work for them- however fast or slow that is.
  • All nations are NOT equal. All cultures are NOT equal. ALL THINGS ARE NOT EQUAL! The aforementioned elites know this, and are using that against US.
  • Western Civilization--even now, globally extended--rests upon the unique event of Anglo-Saxon culture, tempered by Christianity. That cornerstone is what built the world you now live in, created the wealth you now benefit from, established and defended the freedom you enjoy now, and from which any hope for a better tomorrow springs from. Nothing else can do this, or it would have by now; claiming otherwise is a-historical bullshit. Therefore, attacking it is attacking Civilization itself.
  • The purpose of the migration crisis, for the elites, is to pull a Divide-and-Conquer scam to aggregate more power to themselves while taking out rivals and threats (i.e. US) to their position. The means is a totalitarian police state. Allowing the state to act so is not good for Civilization.
  • If the elites don't get their heads straight and do the jobs that justify their existence (i.e. protect their own nations), then the people will do it themselves and the elites will NOT like how the people handle the matter. Oh, and good luck using state power to stop them.
It's a repeat of the final years of Rome, both in the West and later in the East. Same folly. Same causes. Same reactions. I'm with Vox Day on this: either the countries of the West let the nationalists take over now (so the matter can be resolved within the Rule of Law), or it WILL be resolved when the ultra-nationalists seize power in a coup and the slaughter begins (first with the elites). There is no Disney ending here; it's going to be either with minimal bloodshed under a nationalist regime or--since the Rule of Law is not a suicide pact--massive killing and destruction under an ultra-nationalist one.

Once thing's for certain: the Narrative promulgated by the Progressive Social Justice cult is increasingly revealed for what it is: A LIE.

And lies deserve what they get: DEATH.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

My Life as a Writer: It's the Rewriting That Gets You

The Burning of Hugo is in re-writes.

I reviewed what I wrote. I turned my eye to that of someone wanting to sell a book to a reader. That's when the clunking became audible to my inner ear, the one I use to listen for malfunctioning writing. In short, I did my best to find the same sorts of bad writing that I criticized with Jedi Princess Rey.

I found those errors. I struck those errors. Now I'm fixing those errors, making certain that I don't make those characterization mistakes. I can't use fame, reputation, a far-too-forgiving fanbase (which is woefully mis-educated and ignorant regarding both writing and mythology), or a massive marketing machine to cover my ass like Abrams can. No, I have to put in the work, and even then I can only rely on the fact that I will screw up something else that I won't catch in time.

So, I re-write.

It's the details that get you. That's what re-writing is, for me and for many others I've talked with about it, dealing with the details. It's the dotting of "i"s and crossing of "t"s, obeying the fullness of procedure and not cutting corners, in order to give the thing that the reader wants: an entertaining, engaging, and enthralling story that they want to revisit time and again.

In short, it's in the re-writing that a story conforms to the requirements of a commercially-viable product. (Something that too many professionals somehow forget, to my dismay.) And yes, when you bring a story to market and expect to sell it that is what you're doing: producing a product. This is part of the deal, like it or not.

So, when I finish with The Burning of Hugo, I will produce the best product of genre fiction storytelling that I can at this time. Then, once I finish the other parts--the cover, the launch, etc.--I will go on, take what I learned, and apply it forward to the next project.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Life as a Shooter: Revolvers Are Still Cool

Sure, I like autoloading handguns as much as the other guy, but revolvers have their own appeal- and not just aesthetic. While revolvers are increasingly squeezed out of institutional use, they still have their place in the world (and not just in Cowboy Action Shooting), so of course I'm keen to add a few to the collection.

The classic Colt Single-Action Army

Of course the iconic sidearm of the West has a place in my collection, and I intend to add at least two in time. Chambering in .45 Colt or .44-40 Winchester Center Fire (the more popular of the two in the period) is period-appropriate, but I'd rather go for .357 Magnum or .38 Special for one and .22 Long Rifle for the other. For my purposes, these are guns meant for recreational usage; I can use them defensively, but I have more modern options for those roles (and if you're familiar with this model of handgun, you know why).

The New Model No. 3

But, of the popular revolvers of the era, the top-break Smith & Wesson No. 3 is what I would rather carry. Historically chambered in cartridges that aren't readily available anymore, contemporary replicas include options for .38 Special (though I would prefer .357 Magnum) so that's what I would add. Alas, a .22 Long Rifle model is not available. The purpose is the same as above; carry is a tertiary purpose, as I'd rather have something more contemporary for that.

If you're gonna carry a revolver, it's likely to be one like this.

When it comes to contemporary revolvers folks like to carry, a snub-nosed revolver is most common. Both Colt as well as Smith & Wesson dominate this, but none moreso than Smith & Wesson nowadays. The pic above is from the Bodyguard line, specifically Bodyguard 38, but I'm eyeing the 649. (Not that I will complain about getting any model in this line.) I want the option to fire in Single-Action, as this model allows. Others are Double-Action Only by removing any bit of the hammer from external manipulation, and some don't shroud the hammer (as the Bodyguard does) which limits its carry effectiveness.

Most service revolvers look something like this.

The only other revolver I'm looking to add is what is termed a "service revolver", as it formerly was the sidearm of military and law enforcement personnel world-wide. With barrel lengths between three and four inches, these are not that concealable, but can be with some forethought; for my purposes, this is something I use as a home defense backup arm (backing up a shotgun or rifle).

The Smith & Wesson Model 19 pictured above is in .357 Magnum, which is ideal due to its ability to also use .38 Special; acceptable would be a Model 10, a Model 13, a Model 15, or their stainless steel counterparts (Models 64, 65, 66, and 67) as they are in .38 Special or .357 Magnum- both widely available cartridges capable of pairing with a lever-action rifle or carbine chambered for the same cartridge.

(Yes, I'm aware of Ruger's offerings; they're fine, even preferred in some instances. No need to tell me so.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Life as a Gamer: Learning From World of Warcraft

The development team for World of Warcraft gets a lot of shit flung their way. Some of it is deserved. However, what goes unappreciated by many is how they get things right- how often, and why.

Over at MMO-Champion, they reported that it is now possible for players who completed the Legendary Ring quest to buy the item required to upgrade it, and you can double-dip with the drop from Archimonde (final boss in the final raid, Hellfire Citadel, in Warlords of Draenor). While some grousing did go on, most reaction is positive because it keeps people who already farmed enough Valor to fully upgrade their character's gear a reason to keep going.

This is the sort of thing the team excels at: identifying player psychology and making it work for them in terms of keeping players playing. The team, for all the crap they get, consistently correctly perceives what the players actually want and by now they figured out how to use them. The return of Valor to the game, but confining the means to get it to doing the dungeons, obsolete raids, and LFR content that the targeted audience (the raiding community doing Hellfire Citadel on Normal or better) would otherwise wholly ignore, was genius.

The reason was simple: the team wanted to get the raiders, who ignore that stuff because they had nothing to gain from doing it otherwise, back into the queuing pool for this stuff in order to improve performance metrics for these things. The result was that more instances of this stuff got launched and cleared, making more and more players who aren't raiders able to reach the point where they can participate in Normal-mode raids in Hellfire Citadel with folks that they met while gearing up. (This is also why Timewalking became a thing.)

These also serve as soft or secret nerfs to the raid content, making it easier on the other end for players who are new (or returning, or bringing an alt) to join into the fun without spending anywhere near as much time as it formerly took to get to the fun part. This is a good thing; players want to be where the action is, and Blizzard is wise to cut out no-longer-necessary roadblocks as soon as their purpose is fulfilled.

Let's apply this shit.

Two big points:
  1. Players want to be where the action is RIGHT NOW.
  2. Players don't want to see the man behind the curtain.
Which leads to these corollaries:
  1. Active management of your mechanics is vital to keeping your players engaged with your content.
  2. Managing your mechanics via setting developments works best to keep the players where the action is.
The applications to this outside of making videogames is obvious to me, and I will apply these lessons when I run my next tabletop campaign.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Life in Fandom: I Love A Good Dogfight

I saw A New Hope as a toddler in a midday mantinee with my father. The original version of the climax left such an impression, despite that action being considered old and tired now, that I came to love dogfights in films. In time, I would come to appreciate them in comics and novels; at one time, before some realities forbidding it hit me, I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I grew up.

Well, the possibility for being a real pilot came and went before I hit puberty--I became a historian for a reason--so I'm stuck with vicarious experiences, and few things reliably thrill me like a good dogfight. It's easier to do this in a visual medium than in text, but nonetheless it is possible, and I love finding good ones. Here's some of my favorite clips.

This is one of the best dogfights outside of a Macross series.

Yukikaze is a dogfight fan's dream, and if you're into them this is a must-watch.

Sky Crawlers is a beautiful, tragic story featuring glorious flight and dogfight sequences. Worth the time.

Macross Zero represents the long-time champion, the Macross franchise, for dogfights this time around.

And, finally, the sequence that got me hooked (albeit the Special Edition version):

Someday I want to publish an adventure featuring the best damned dogfight I can manage. Maybe a Star Wars book. Maybe something original. It will happen. It's just a matter of time.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

We Are Now Forever (Sort Of)

The Internet allows Mankind to archive and preserve our words and deeds as no other technology ever has. Combined with nigh-exponential increases in the power and availability of devices to record sights and sounds, texts and pictures, and mix them together into collages heretofore improbable or impossible and we have an issue of abundance that our forefathers would not even conceive as possible.

As I once heard at RPGnet, some years ago, we are now at a point where it is impossible to run out of entertainment. Some born after the turn of the 21st century cannot ever truly run out entertainment media created and produced by someone else, or even professionally-produced fare, because the Internet means that everyone has global reach. Boredom comes now only due to individuals being unwilling to engage, and never from actually running out of entertainment to consume.

Aside from the issue this abundance has for the global cultivation of creativity, as the prospects for being a creative that actually earns a living from their craft will become even worse than it was previously (and thus accelerate the return of patronage as a norm), there is another issue that this abundance demonstrates- but only now is becoming obvious enough for many to notice.

"You can't lie to the Internet."

Archiving articles, blog posts, Tweets, Facebook threads, and so on to preserve something posted as it was initially before it could be edited or deleted significantly inhibits those who would wage Narrative Warfare via throwing things down the Memory Hole.

We already see this in effect in the social and cultural conflicts waged online now, and we shall see this explode into mainstream usage over this election cycle; one campaign (and I expect Trump's to do it) will begin archiving everything and posting links publicly for all to see- and thereby deny deniability to the others. (This will become standard practice in subsequent cycles.)

Far more than omnipresent surveilence, and sousveilence, this persistent external memory is something I think deserves more attention. In fantasy, few outside of gamers ever bothered to think through the consequences of being immortal (or long-lived, in the realm of many centuries or millenia), but I think we're soon to find out the hard way- and I don't think adjustment will go well if we cannot bring wisdom to the process.

But it will solve the greatest problem: that Men forget. The only question is "But who will remember, or why?"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Sargon of Akkad Presents: This Year In Stupid for 2015

It's time for the year-end retrospectives, and none other than Sargon of Akkad delivers with his 2015 retrospective: This Year In Stupid.

As Razorfist would say: Godspeed, Sargon! God-fucking-speed! You've shown yourself to be a brilliant commentator on a society suffering from such madness and depravity that comparisons to late Rome are not out of line. May you enjoy even greater success in this new year.