Aw Crap! I got political!

Now I normally try to shut up on my various websites about politics and religion (the last refuge of scoundrels).

*TRIGGER WARNING!* (Pun VERY FUCKING MUCH Intended!)

If seeing a political or social opinion that varies from your own offends you in any way, please just close this webpage now.
If you STILL don’t like it, tough shit.

I kinda got motivated on this angry screed (because that’s what it is, I’m not going to lie) after having one too-many people use the term “common sense gun laws”
I then found that it was so long (I have a tendency to leave “verbose” behind and range out into “War and Peace is a pocketbook”) that Facebook wouldn’t handle the whole thing in a single post.

So I broke it up and did individual posts.

I’m simply posting it here as well so someone can read it in uninterrupted form.

This is where the inflammatory part starts.

What you see as “common sense” is actually “your opinion”. It’s basically a backhanded accusation that anyone who isn’t agreeing with you is unreasonable/irrational.

Remember, the NRA helped DRAFT some of the first gun control legislation in the country.

And they’re not opposed to actual PROPER ENFORCEMENT of the laws we have now.

The problem with enacting further “common sense” measures is that you’re penalizing millions law abiding citizens for the actions of a handful of criminals and crazies.

And none of these “common sense” laws will stop ACTUAL criminals from obtaining guns!

Limiting magazine capacities does nothing. Because the “some got away while he was reloading” argument is a myth. With 15, 10 and 7 round magazines, the time differentials with reloads spans roughly 2 seconds TOTAL. Only The Flash is going to get away from that.

Requiring biometric scanners does nothing. Because it runs the risk of leaving the firearm non-functional when it’s needed by the legitimate owner. And criminals simply won’t obtain a firearm with a biometric lock.

“Assault Weapon” bans are more or less pointless. An “assault rifle” is defined primarily by it’s ability to select-fire between safety, semi-auto (single shot) and either full-auto or three-round burst.

You cannot buy such weapons new nowadays. And you require a Class 3 license to purchase one of the grandfathered weapons. And all the arguments about gun control fall apart with a Class 3 license. As you’re required to document your ENTIRE personal arsenal and make it available to perusal by law enforcement UPON REQUEST. Which means your local cop can come in and ask to see your collection. You’re REQUIRED to show it to them, and to be able to immediately produce all your paperwork.

An “assault weapon” is basically a semi-automatic rifle firing a medium power cartridge that superficially resembles an assault rifle. So it’s being legislated because it “looks dangerous”.

And yes, semi-auto. So you’re not “spraying a crowd” with such a weapon. Because every time you pull the trigger you get exactly ONE shot fired. So, we have people trying to ban certain weapons and OK other weapons that are MECHANICALLY IDENTICAL. Based on appearance (basically is the weapon blacked out, does it look like an existing military weapon and does it have a pistol grip).

That’s the definition of “arbitrary”.

And yes, I used the term “medium powered” cartridge when talking about weapons like the AR-15.

The AR-15 is a cousin of the M16. The M16 can fire full auto or 3 round burst. The reason the M16 can fire full auto in its configuration is because they stepped down from 7.62mm cartridges.

If you tried to put a 7.62mm (what the M60 was firing), through an M16 style mechanism, it’d handle it fine. On single shot. On full auto, the mechanical stresses would be such that it’d cause malfunctions and eventually mechanical failure of the weapon system.

Thus, the designers stepped down to the 5.56mm (Remington 223). Less power, less strain on the mechanism.

The AR-15 retains the less powerful ammo, and is only semi-auto (single-shot). There are LOTS of non “assault weapon” rifles out there firing MUCH more powerful loads.

Denying to people on the “No Fly List” isn’t “common sense” because it violates people’s right to due process. Flying isn’t a right. Owning a weapon is. Foo-foo’ing the fact that owning a weapon is an inalienable right simply means you don’t understand what a “right” is and why it needs defending.

“Closing the gun show loophole” is a pointless endeavor. Because there IS no gun show loophole. All firearm vendors, whether they’re selling at their place of business or at a gun show are REQUIRED to do a background check. What’s ACTUALLY being talked about is the right of civilians to perform private sales. Because of straw purchases.

Essentially straw purchases are ALREADY illegal. Which means they’re acting like a criminal (someone who, by definition doesn’t follow the law). So if someone violates the law by doing this, they go to jail and lose their guns.

Firing a gun at another human being is akin to shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater.

If you shout “FIRE” in a theater, and there’s actually a fire, you don’t go to jail.

If you shout “FIRE” in a theater, and there ISN’T a fire, you go to jail. Not for exercising free speech, but for endangering public safety.

If you shoot a person who is in the process of attempting to harm you, you don’t go (or shouldn’t be going) to jail. It was justifiable.

If you shoot a random Joe on the street because you felt like busting a cap in someone? If you DON’T get gunned down by a concealed carry person or a cop, you go to jail. Because it is illegal to kill people who are not threatening your safety in this country.

This guy with the gun, if it actually happened that way, where he brandished a gun at someone just for being an ass? He needs to do some jail time and lose his ability to own a gun. Not because people feel unsafe around guns. But because he’s shown that he cannot be trusted to act in a safe, responsible, lawful manner with them.

Things that people are ignoring. Mental health screening. But NOT in a programmatic way by government doctors.

Actually jailing offenders with harsh sentences. Right now, a computer hacker goes away longer than someone who commits a gun crime that hurts or kills people.

BETTER screening. The idiot down in Florida had been interviewed by the FBI TWICE and they still missed him.

And also a realistic understanding that the world is sometimes a shitty place, and no matter WHAT we do, we aren’t going to stop ALL the criminals and crazies. That’s a basic utopian fantasy. That we’ll “somehow” get rid of all the “bad” and life will be perfect.

We’re talking about human beings here. We’ve been doing dumb shit since the first man set foot on this planet. And considering that there are over 300 MILLION legally owned guns in this country, and the total number of non-suicide deaths among those who aren’t (or don’t live among) gangbangers is so low that you basically have a better chance of dying of the FLU than you do of being randomly shot by a crazy, a cop or a criminal.

Nation-wide gun registry is a particularly noxious idea. Simply from a historical perspective. Just about every major historical instance of government tyranny has begun with a ban on private ownership.

And whether you think the US going to become a tyrannical government now, tomorrow, a hundred years from now or NEVER is irrelevant. The founders of this country understood that ANY government can become tyrannical. And it wanted the people to be able to defend themselves, EVEN FROM THEM.

Now, before you start talking about taking an AR-15 up against a tank. STOP. Your understanding of warfare has essentially never left the 18th century. Wars nowadays are almost totally asymmetric. Nobody stands up in nice, neat little rows and waits to be mowed down by volley anymore.

This is why ISIS is still a thing right now. This is why Al Qaeda is still a thing. This is why we lost the war in Vietnam.

Any insurrection by the US populace is NOT going to square up with the police or the US military all “Marquis of Queensbury Rules”. It’s going to be a nasty, ugly, bloody guerrilla action. In such actions, machine guns, automatic fire, grenades, tanks, rocket launchers, bombing campaigns, etc, are of little to no use. ESPECIALLY since we’re talking about fighting on American soil.

Basically the what we’re talking about is a government’s attempt to obtain a monopoly on violence. And if we really want to talk about gun deaths. Tyrannical governments have killed far, FAR more than all the crazies and terrorists and just disgruntled whoevers COMBINED.

The term is “Democide”. And the current count for government sactioned murder/genocide (this doesn’t include people killed in legitimate wars) stands north of a QUARTER BILLION LIVES.

Now, you can say that the government, now, is mostly benign. But will it be tomorrow? Or next year? Or a hundred years from now?

Do you get paid day–to-day? Do you go out and eat every meal every single day? Do you never set anything aside in case of a financial or medical mishap? Sure you do! Hell, in some cases, you’re required by law to do so or be fined (Obamacare, car insurance, etc).

The Second Amendment occupies the same headspace. It’s insurance against an unthinkable event.

The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting or militias It’s not even about “giving” people the right to own and bear arms. The Second Amendment doesnt’ GIVE you ANYTHING. It’s a RECOGNITION of the right as a pre-existing state and inalienable.

This is why the “Well why do you NEED a *INSERT HERE*?” argument is so silly. You don’t have to justify a right with “need”. Do you have to justify your free speech? Do you have to justify your 4th Amendment rights? Do you women have to justify their right to vote? Do blacks have to justify their equal treatment? Do you need to justify your right to buy and consume a beer?

And remember, once you give your rights away, your chances of having it returned to you is virtually nill. Because you’ve given the government power with no checks or balances on it. So they don’t HAVE to give it back.

This is why the Bill of Rights talks about any rights not expressly granted to the government being reserved for the people.

And while nobody likes talking about it. Within the “gun control” lobby is the “ban guns” group. Their basic aim IS to essentially make all firearms illegal. And if they can’t do it all at once, they’ll do it in stages, making it progressively tougher and crazier to legally acquire a firearm, until it’s essentially impossible. Basically, “give an inch, get asked for another inch”.

Now you say this and most “common sense” gun people wave their hands and go “nobody wants that”. That’s what’s known as a “LIE”.

Now, if YOU wish to abrogate your own rights to firearm ownership for some false promise of “safety”, that’s fine. Go ahead. I support your ability to make that choice. Even if I think you foolish for doing so.

What I do NOT support is attempting to steal the rights of OTHERS who have no desire to abrogate theirs, simply so they conform to your view of the world.

Yeah, that’s a giant wall of text. Kudos if you’re actually open-minded enough to read it all.4:49 PM 7/27/2016

Okay been a while

Well, a little caffeine and a holiday (an actual, honest-to-god DAY OFF!) can do lots of productive things for you.

Had one of my older storage drives puff and let out its magic smoke today. NOT happy.

One of the things I’d lost were all my copies of the Photon soundtrack. Both my high bitrate MP3s and the original MP2 files they came from.

Unfortunately Rob Banz’s Photon site has been kaput for nigh-on a decade now… So no chance of getting copies again.

And while the Photon-QEI site has the soundtrack in a zipfile, the MP3s are damaged and skip badly.

Well, after a bit of grousing, I got fed up and dug back into a pile of 15 year old CDs. Lo and behold! What do I find on one of them? The original MP2 files!

Cue quick-rip session! (And good LORD is ripping to MP3 a LOT quicker than it was back then!)

So, here I have the zipped, high-bitrate MP3 files for you.
Photon Soundtrack (MP3 Format)

Also, as a bonus, I’ve zipped up the original Banz-made MP2 files if you want your own pristine sources.
Photon Soundtrack (MP2 Format)

Okay, be that as it may, it’s now 3 in the morning by me and it’s time for this Photon Warrior to hit the hay!
And yeah, it’s now been 30 years since the debut of Photon. And the light still shines!

Origins: The World Tour

Okay, let’s just say that I have Google Maps on a list now.  And it’s a list that smells really, REALLY bad.

First off, the ever-present WRONG direction in the second-to-last step to my first destination.

Then, on the way down to Columbus, they route me, in a 25 foot truck onto a TWO LANE ROAD!  That was CLOSED halfway down.

I’d rather have taken a longer way around and made up time time in speed, rather than going almost 40 miles at 35 mph.  The only way it could have been worse is if they had routed me through someone’s back yard…

GAH!

Because of this, I got there with 45 minutes to spare before the closure of the docks.  Luckily we only had three pallets plus the booth.

No pictures yet.  We were too busy setting up the booth, and need to get back in early tomorrow to finishe the job.

My feet hurt from standing on the concrete, my right leg and butt hurt from 11+ hours of driving.  I’ll snap some shots tomorrow.  It’s time for me to go comatose now.

Origins…the Quickening

Okay, first post of the con season for me.  We’re two and a half days out from Origins.  A couple fevered calls at the end and we’re about as squared away as you can get (better than last year when I found out at the last minute “Oh yeah, we need you there!”.

Pictures will be forthcoming.

Now, I’m going to take advantage of my last free night and do something smart.

SLEEP!

The Light Shines!

The Light Shines!

Okay. Good news as of this morning (well, technically, yesterday morning now). Jim has spoken with a lawyer, and there are apparently some laws in place to stop exactly what Jim’s landlords are trying to do to him. And, now that they’ve been made aware of it, they’re suddenly MUCH more willing to talk for some reason.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

The long and short of it is, Photon itself is still alive, and still moving forward until someone manages to pry it from Jim Strother’s cold dead fingers.

The Strothershere for now. WARNING! The files are about 2MB each.

Once I get home tomorrow and have a chance to process them down to a reasonable size, I’ll upload them to
and the gallery should be able to work on them.

I’ll provide a bigger, more complete AAR after I get back home (and take a nice hot bath…)

Tulsa or bust!

Okay, earlier this week, one of the laser-tag mailing lists I subscribe to got a rather unwelcome shock.

Photon was closing…before it opened….

For those of you who haven’t ever had the privilege, Photon is a non-flashlight form of laser tag, set in a fully built out field. It’s a complete package, equipment, sound, etc. And an absolute BLAST to play. I burned an incredible amount of money (and energy) there.

Sadly, the last true Photon center closed in Harvey, Illinois back in 1995. Yes, I was there. Yes, it bummed me fiercely. And, unfortunately, the rights to Photon were hopelessly tangled up, and spread out all over the place.

Anyhoo, flash-foward to last year. I started noticing activity on the Phazzar group on Yahoo again. Apparently someone, a guy by the name of Jim Strother, had spent most of the last 12 years acquiring EVERYTHING necessary to resurrect Photon again.

And, watching the activity in the group, and the photos going up of the slowly resolving field, I grew excited again. If you want, you can find pictures of the site up at http://www.photon-qei.com. The field is, for all intents and purposes, finished. All that was needed was some fine tuning of the field antennas and some work on the pods (the gun/chestpiece unit) themselves and he was ready to open.
Anyhoo, earlier this week, we got a letter from Jim stating that Photon would be closing before it’s opening day. Apparently there were some financial difficulties with the landlord, and Jim had been served an eviction notice. Bad scene all around. I’d been hoping to pay a visit to the new center as soon as time and money permitted. As were a lot of members of the mailing list.

At this point, it’s looking like the venture is unrecoverable, and while I don’t have all the facts in the case, it appears to be really shady on the part of the landlord.

So, as a sop to the rabid Photon junkies who’d been jonesing for a fix for thirteen years, Jim is throwing open the doors of Photon for one night and one night only.

This weekend.

And my mission, should I choose to accept it. Get my ass to Tulsa, Oklahoma and play Photon.

A couple e-mails, and ten hours on the road, and I’m here. Now all I need to do is get some shut-eye before the big event.

D-Link or bust? Or D-Link busted?

Those of you who’re fairly close know that I’ve been having network problems back at the ranch lately.

A few months back, I was doing a firmware update to my router and it bricked. And, since I’d had it over a year and a half, tech support was NOT going to RMA it. Especially since the device was no longer in production.

So one fairly-well-working 808-HV down the tubes.

So here I was, looking for a router with more than 5 ports again.

Other than the bricking, which I put down to unfortunate happenstance, I’d been fairly happy with D-Link. And since most of the other high-end consumer/prosumer router devices out there usually maxed at 5 ports (and I needed more), I would either have to buy D-Link again, upgrade to a low-end pro router, or go with a router and a second switch.

My setup isn’t so tough that I really NEED a pro-grade router. Plus plunking down several hundred bucks for one isn’t something I can easily justify.

I also would like to avoid sprouting network devices all over the place. Adding a separate router/switch combo adds another possible point of failure to my network and also increases network latency.

So I settled on the DIR-130. Nice little router. 8 ports. Pretty much all the features I had before.

Here, my troubles began.

I was able to duplicate my original setup in relatively short order. And everything was nice. For a while.

Then I noted that the router would periodically “lose” the web interface. The device still functioned, it still router, it still did DHCP and port-forwarding. But the web interface simply stopped functioning (or even being accessible). The only way to get the management interface back was to bounce (power-cycle) the router. A MAJOR pain in the cojones, but not a complete show-stopper. Additionally, I’d seen complaints about this around the web, and the next firmware update was supposed to fix this. Being a somewhat happy D-Link camper, I chose to wait.

Fast forward to September. The new firmware update was out as of August. So I snagged it and, being somewhat leery since I’d bricked my last device this way, flashed the router.

Everything came back up nicely. No headaches. Nothing. Success!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

So, thinking everything was great, I began browsing the interface, looking for updates/changes, making sure my settings were all preserved, etc. Then next thing I know, my network just “goes away”.

Just to be on the safe side, I reboot every device on the network. Then I notice I’m not pulling DHCP. Nor is the LAN working, even with static IP assignments. Worst, I can’t access the router!

One emergency call to D-Link later, and I was faced with yet ANOTHER bricked router.

So I drop the $150 for expedited cross-shipping. A full week goes by and the new device arrives. And guess what, the device isn’t running properly, and the default logon in the manual isn’t working. Unfortunately, with this device I’m only eligible for 9-5 weekday tech support to make sure the device runs, and it’s Friday night 8PM.

So I had the privilege of waiting an entire fscking weekend to get my stuff working. And by the time I got on with D-Link support, I was swearing up and down that if they didn’t get it working, they were getting the RMA unit back in the mail.

Sure enough, the default logon was different from what was in the manual. So I was in. I set the router up on the 1.0 firmware (why the fuck are they shipping new units with the old firmware anyhow?), then held my breath and flashed to the 1.10. I browsed around in the interface for a bit, then pushed my config into the router.

And problems started… again.

Certain ports (ssh, FTP, web) weren’t functioning properly. I had portions of the interface that showed this data, but the sections were grayed out, and duplicating them in “live” sections of the interface didn’t help.

So I bit the bullet and restored the router to default and got ready to manually config.

My setup isn’t much.

Approximately 5 DHCP reservations. Three computers, one NAS device, and one Wireless AP. This way, when I remote in, I don’t have to hunt all over my network for a random address. No problems right? WRONG!

First off, DHCP reservation is FUCKED UP on this device. Initially I’d reset the DHCP assignments to be between 2 and 150 (150 being the default upper limit). So when I tried to assign my first workstation to *.2, I get an error stating “2 must be within the DHCP range”.

HUH?!?!?!?

Back on the phone with D-Link IMMEDIATELY.

For some reason, the interaction of DHCP and address reservation isn’t working properly. I have to shrink the pool of DHCP addresses down to within 50 addresses (the maximum number of reservations on this device is 50) before it works properly. And the imbecile on the other end of the phone hangs up on me thinking that the problem is solved. It isn’t!

Random addresses within that range STILL don’t auto-assign! I get the “# must be within the DHCP range” bullshit. Literally, I can assign IP addresses 2-5 fine. But then, DHCP’s first address assignment after that is 23! And doing reservation of an IP for anything between 6 and 22 fails!

Yes, I could go ahead and statically assign addresses to my standard network node but why the fuck should I have to? This is what I bought this device for! Now I need to call in to them yet AGAIN. Waste MORE time. All for something that should work out of the box.

Worse still, they have yet to credit the $150 back to my bank account.

Needless to say, in the future, I’m not putting D-Link on my short list of network equipment providers.

My unvarnished two bits.