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Monday, April 23, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 003

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd Discuss Operation Blazing Sword and LGBTQ gun rights.
  • Erin interviews new contributor Connie Elliott, who lists the amazing life experiences that led her to become our “Washington in Plain English” translator.
  • Now that you actually have some cryptocurrency, Savage1R shows how you can use them.
  • The Weer’d Audio Fisk is part 1 of Shannon Watts on the NPR 1A Podcast.
  • Also new to the show is Steve, the “house dick” who is here to tell stories about his life as a private investigator in Tales From the Trunk. This week, Steve tells a story of an attempted carjacking that changed his outlook on life and firearms.

Show notes:

Did you know that we have a Patreon now? Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays, as well as patron-only content like blooper reels!

Listen here or download the episode here.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Once you find your center, you are sure to win"

A friend linked to this article yesterday and asked me for my opinion on it.

The impression I got from it was one of self-loathing: "No matter how hard I try, I will never be good enough to consider myself a woman. But maybe, if put them above me, they will allow me to associate with them and that will validate my existence as a second-rate transwoman."

Sigh. It's attitudes like this which make me say that the queer community's worst enemy is itself. Give us enough time, and we'll defeat ourselves more thoroughly than any hyopthetical rightwing transphobe.

The author's main thesis seems to reduce to "transwomen are different from ciswomen biologically and socially." The biology difference is such a big fat duh that I'm unsure why she even feels the need to point this out. I don't think there's anyone on either side of the argument who feels that transwomen benefit from having their Y chromosome ignored in a medical sense. For example, in male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery the prostate is usually not removed due to its proximity to the bladder, important nerves and blood vessels. However, prostate cancer is still a thing that happens to transwomen, and pretending that a transwoman doesn't have a prostate that needs to be checked regularly is medically negligent.

The social difference is debatable, because I can list a half-dozen genetic women on Facebook alone whom I humorously call (and they laugh and agree with my assessment) "gay men with vaginas" because they act more male than female, don't understand other women, and sometimes don't even LIKE other women. So if biological women, who were socialized while growing up to be women, still self-identify as being more masculine than feminine, then maybe there's more to femininity than just estrogen-based puberty... meanwhile, here I am trying like hell to fit in, worried that other women are going to call me out for being a tourist and a fake, doing my best to cram an entire adolescence of figuring out clothing and makeup and movement into as short a time as possible, and (again) actual genetic women are telling me "You're girlier than I ever was."

While there is something to be said for bonding over shared life experiences, I feel like reducing "the female experience" to menstruation and PMS and childbirth and fear of rape and all the other things the writer listed is to reduce womanhood to plumbing and pain, and I find that marginalizing and objectifying and sexist. It's true, I'll never know what it's like to grow up as a girl into a woman... but growing up a certain way doesn't mean I can't assimilate into another culture, and if you believe that it does then I genuinely feel bad for you, because you've just told me that you believe in inescapable fate and that self-improvement isn't possible. After all, you've just said that if you grow up in an environment where no one goes to college, then you can't assimilate into college, so you shouldn't even try.

It's garbage thinking to assert "You can't be X because you don't have these shared experiences." Are you going to tell an immigrant seeking citizenship that she can't be American because she didn't grow up on a steady diet of American pop culture? No, because no one American is identical to another! A Californian is culturally different from a Texan is different from an Illinoian is different from a New Yorker, and while their cultural experiences are different they are all authentically American. Similarly, women can be different on a spectrum from frou-frou femme to butch tomboy, and no one's going to tell that butch tomboy that she can't put on a dress and be authentically feminine because she didn't grow up as a girly-girl. Hell, we have entire industries dedicated to making over women of all sorts, so that kind of transformation is actively encouraged by society.

So this sad author is saying that she can dress as a woman, but she'll never truly be one socially. I call BS on that because my experience says that attitude is absolutely wrong.

When I was in my 20s, I tried so very hard to "be a man": I wanted to join the military, I got a masculine tattoo, I tried to do all the thing "a man does" and I still felt like an imposter. I didn't know at the time that I was transgender; all I knew is that I felt like I didn't belong among the ranks of men and tried to find something, anything, that I could do or be or say that would forever mark me as "a man" that could be seen by all. I was going through all the motions and nothing was working; it was cargo cult manhood based around doing manly things and thinking manly thoughts and the fervent hope that if I just acted like a man I would become one somehow.

I don't think this is a transgender thing, because I remember the popularity of Fight Club and how its message was "You can't let society tell you how to be a man. You have to find it on your own, because it won't be bestowed upon you; manhood must be claimed."



Or maybe that's just what I took away from it. What I know is that watching the movie was very transformative for me, because it showed me that I wasn't alone, I wasn't a freak; there were other people who were having the same existential struggle I was. I just... found a different solution than in the film. But I like to think that Tyler Durden would approve of me being who I am instead of trying to be what I am not.

In the time since I saw that movie, I've known adult males who will never be men, and I've known legal children who were mentally and emotionally men before society said they were. Similarly, I've known adult females (many of whom are mothers) who weren't women but rather post-adolescent girls, and I've known high-schoolers who were women before they were 18.

If I may presume to have any wisdom on the matter, it is this: There is no single objective standard of womanhood, just like there is no single objective standard of manhood. 'Selfhood' is the end result of a long journey of self-discovery, at the end of which an individual says "This is who I am, and it is sufficient. I don't need anyone else to tell me what I am, because I know what I am, and if you don't like it you can go get bent."

You are yourself, and that is more than enough. Don't look to others for validation. Be YOU, as hard as you can, as fearlessly as you can, and don't apologize for it.

Or to be pithy: "If you want to be a woman, man up and be one."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Who Hunts The Hunters?

Obvious title is obvious.

I play a lot of video games. I mean, a lot.

Primarily, I play cooperative game modes. In some of those cooperative game modes, sometimes the interfaces are poorly coded, such as in Mass Effect: Andromeda. In these more poorly coded interfaces, often the voice chat is on by default, and there's a surprisingly generous portion of the playerbase that doesn't realize this. As a result, you often hear a lot of background noise: dogs barking, heavy breathing, televisions, cars driving by, jackhammers, people having sex, someone being horribly murdered in the background, or a combination of any of the above.

Stay with me. This is relevant, I promise.

Over the last week or so, Bully Hunters was announced. It is ostensibly an elite squad of possibly female gamers on call 24/7 to hunt down and exact revenge on toxic male gamers that harass other female gamers that are just trying to play a game. They announced a livestream event, an hour to show off their system in action, hunting down a bully live and providing statistics on why they're necessary.

And then the stream happened.



An hour turned into 35 minutes of unadulterated cringe.

The experts they brought on parroted Gender Studies talking points, which really came as no surprise. The in-game footage they showed was choppy and looked like it was either poorly encoded, pre-recorded footage or was being played on a computer from 2002. The presenters were stiff and uncharismatic, the audience was lifeless, and the event cues were ripped straight from a garage-level presentation of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. But it didn't stop there.

The statistics discussed by the 'professionals' -- a clinical counselor with a focus on living with diabetes and a clinical psychologist with a focus on marriage counseling -- were revealed to have been extrapolated by a self-reporting survey of 874 people on social media platforms Twitter and Reddit, and inflated from the 874 respondents to a total of 3 million women being driven out of gaming.

One "casual gamer," therosethorn, was revealed to be not only the casual gamer with a level 1 account owning only one game, but the bully, the bully hunter, and several other bully hunters as well. Not to mention that one of her previous names (and the url of her profile page) was testbhv1 (test bully hunter victim 1?).

Full disclosure here: this screenshot was taken from my own Steam account while I was writing this, as I'd lost the original screenshot. That's right, it's still there.


An additional problem arises in that, unless I'm mistaken, you can't hear the enemy team (let alone join a game in-progress if you're playing competitively) in Counterstrike: Global Offensive. If she was able to hear the bully, that means they were on the same team, and if she invited the Bully Hunter in, then she'd go to the same team, thereby making that glorious knife kill from earlier nigh-on impossible. If she somehow joined the opposing team, then due to the hectic nature of a CS:GO match, she'd stand just as much a chance of killing the person that called her for help as she did killing the bully, or even being killed by the bully herself, which is something that happens anyway. I'm not kidding, you play one of these games, and you die a lot. One more death will mean literally nothing to you.

A few watchful eyes happened to notice the prominent SteelSeries branding backing the Bully Hunters, and asked them directly about it. SteelSeries, a fairly well-respected gaming peripheral company (I even have a Fallout-themed headset they made) initially stood their ground when asked, but eventually buckled after being confronted by the shady nature of the entire event.

And I can't blame them at all. After Bully Hunters host and spokesperson Natalie Casanova aka ZombiUnicorn was exposed as having used a slur on a livestream several times (something that poor PewDiePie was crucified for), and using a gendered slur in several tweets, people kept digging, and found that the entire thing was slapped together by marketing company FCB Chicago. Eventually other sponsors Vertagear and, ironically, the Diverse Gaming Coalition also folded, throwing FCB Chicago and, in the case of the latter, ZombiUnicorn under the bus.

This is bad. Not only does it paint people that play games in general in a bad light, but it also paints women that play games as personally helpless, having to bring in outside help to fight their battles for them. I've played with a lot of women in my time; some of my best long-term co-op partners have been women, and I've always trusted them to hold their own, whether they're tanking for my medic or I'm tanking for their medic, and have never been let down. But this? You don't stop 'bullies' by giving them air-time or more exposure. You don't give them an easily exploitable platform so they can play nice until they convince you they're hunter material. Instead, you starve them of oxygen. You give them no reaction until they get bored. Do you want to see the most effective weapon against in-game harassment? I'll show you:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Assorted Calibers Podcast Episode 002

In this week's podcast:
  • Erin and Weerd discuss Youtube’s new gun policy.
  • Savage1R explains how one actually acquires cryptocurrencies.
  • The Weer’d Audio Fisk is Megyn Kelly’s Lecture on the Parkland Massacre.
  • and Weer’d interviews Gail Pepin of the Massad Ayoob Group about how she became pro-gun.

Show notes:

We have a Patreon now! Join now for the low, low cost of $4/month (that's $1/podcast) and you'll get to listen to our podcast on Friday instead of Mondays!

Listen here.
You can also download the episode here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Semper Fidelis, Gunny Ermey



I had the pleasure of meeting Gunny once.

It was the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting, and I was on the hotel shuttle bus that would take me to the convention. Just as we were about to leave, some guy asked the driver if he would take the bus to the side entrance to pick up his friend, Lee. The bus driver agreed, took us there, and we waited.

And waited.

And the guy said "Come on, Lee, hurry up" while I grumbled silently about what kind of prima donna can't make it to the front where the bus is but needs his own pickup?

Then I saw Gunny come out of the hotel and walk to the bus, and all of my irritation evaporated. I had to exert physical effort to keep from fangirling all over the place, especially when he sat down across the aisle from me.

Like you'd expect, the Gunny kept up a running commentary about what a shitshow the traffic was, and how he'd sat through it every day, and that most of the NRA Board of Directors didn't show up until the actual voting day and some didn't show up at all, and things like that. It was pretty much an Authentic Gunny Experience, complete with profanity.

When we reached the convention center, I allowed myself a little lapse and said "It's a pleasure to meet you, Gunny. Keep doing what you're doing" and offered my hand. He smiled and shook it.

I can just see him calling cadence for the Heavenly Host. "You may be archangels, maggots, but I'm going to turn you into MARINES!"

Friday, April 13, 2018

Another Status Report on my Face

I realized I haven't told you folks about the new plastic surgeon I've been seeing, so here's the backstory followed by what happened when I went to see him on Wednesday.

After I had that terrible appointment with my lazy, useless, callous, no-good plastic surgeon, I fired him and went in search of another one. Fortunately for me, one of my neighbors is an LPN who works for a local Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon (the exact same kind of doctor who sewed my lips up after the attack) and who had noticed we had one less dog on our nightly walks, which led to a conversation about the injury. She, too, thought my old plastic surgeon was full of crap, and was confident that her boss could fix me up. She even set me up with a free consultation with him!

During the appointment, the OMS was a whirlwind of activity like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil: he came in, examined me, said "Oh yeah, we can fix this easily by doing X, Y, and Z," and then he was out of the room. My friend the LPN set some things up, the doctor whirled into the room again, and gave me several injections of something called Kenalog right in the scar tissue (I'm pleased to report that I could actually feel the needle going in, which is an odd thing to be happy about but that means I have less nerve damage to that area than I feared) before he whirled out again. Then the LPN gave me some scar reducing gel, telling me to use it 2x a day and to continue rubbing itamin E into my scar once a day, and that I'd need to come back in six weeks.

Let me tell you, those three things really reduced the swelling. If you look at these selfies I took during my trip to Fredericksburg, you can see the scar if you look really hard (it's hidden under dermablend -- which, by the way, is expensive but worth the cost) but it's not obvious and it's definitely not puffy.


That brings us to a few days ago, when I had my 6-week checkup. Both the LPN and OMS were really pleased with how the scar had visibly reduced in thickness, and so they gave me another round of Kenalog injections (which actually hurt worse than last time, which again I'll interpret as a good thing). Then they used a laser on the scar, focusing on the red parts where the stitching was, to blend the color in with the rest of my face.

I'm not going to say it was pleasant, but it wasn't bad. It hurt worse when I got my tattoo. Heck, the Kenalog injections hurt worse! But let me tell you, I looked AWFUL afterwards because the lasered areas were irritated like heck and oozing blood, so no pictures of that here.

I have another appointment in 2 more weeks, probably to see how my skin has recovered from the laser. I'll let you know how that goes.

The Fine Print


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