Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day!

Excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, July 4, 1776.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.  
Nobody Knows How Many Federal Agencies Exist

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
The Hague Court

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
Lon Horiuchi  Democrat committee server scandal  Hillary's email server  "Arkancide"

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Democrats love alien invaders  True facts about alien invaders  Cartoon summary  Occupy Wall Street  Black lives (don't) matter

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
IRS targets Tea Party  Berkeley "protest" riots and battles  Bundy ranch standoff

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

D100 Dungeon

D100 Dungeon is a great, free (1) solo dungeon crawl game.  After you download it from Board Game Geek (not the easiest thing to do), all you need to play is some paper, a pencil, two dice to make a d100, and a d6.  This game is unreasonably fun, and an obvious labor of love by its creator, Martin Knight.

For your ease of enjoyment, here are the current versions of the essential files.
D100 Dungeon Files  These are the old versions and some alternate rules.
D100 Dungeon Rules  These are the old and newly (May 2018) updated rules.

I highly recommend this game.

That being said, I can't help but tinker with game rules.  Here are my recommended alterations and additions.

  • Use the alternate investments found in the Files.  The rues as written (RAW) are incoherent.  Remember that the roll for for the pip alteration to each whole share owned.  (One share is five pips.)  My addition:  Instead of allowing only one investment of up to ten shares per investment type, allow characters to diversify their portfolios as follows, still limiting investment to ten shares each.
    • Up to 4 separate investments in Trade.
    • Up to 3 separate investment in Finance.
    • Up to 2 separate investments in Holdings.
    • Only 1 investment in Wars.
  • Use, if you wish, the perpetual dungeon found in the Files.  It makes the quests a bit longer and more costly in resources, but makes more sense and provides some continuity.  I change the "running" rule of moving through already explored rooms to this:
    • You can move through up to 3 previously explored rooms, as long as all known monsters are dead and the rooms have been searched already.  When moving more than one room per hour, roll a d10.  If the result is less than or equal to the number of rooms moved, a wandering monster is encountered in the room indicated by the die roll, and travel stops there.  For example, if you try to move three rooms, and roll a 2, you encounter a wandering monster in the second room you entered.
    • I don't recommend using the included Shop rules.  They make buying new equipment very expensive, in exchange for establishing a known fixed base of goods available.  It's basically a very expensive pawn shop for your stuff.  And "parts pie" is gross, but also funny and makes sense in a horrible sort of way.
  • Speaking of prices, the sell and purchase prices of everything are identical.  Of course, adventures find their loot damaged, so there is an actual price difference there.  My proposed alteration:  Whenever purchasing a weapon or piece of armor, roll a d10.  If the result is lower than your reputation, purchase the item at list price.  Otherwise, pay an extra fee equal to one pip of repair cost for the item.  Hey, life is hard on the new guy with no reputation to speak of.
  • There is only an 8% chance of finding a shield, the most common defensive tool in history.  I have created a new random armor table to make shields more prevalent.  Roll a d10 for armor type, then another d10 for specific piece:
    • 1-3:  Shield - used to actively block damage.  Blocks amount listed for each pip shaded.  Less than half damage blocked results in only a half pip shaded.
      • 1:  Buckler (1)
      • 2-3:  Targe (2)
      • 4-7:  Heater (3)
      • 8-9:  Kite (4)
      • 10:  Pavise (5)
    • 4-5:  Leather Armor (1 DEF)
    • 6:  Studded Leather Armor (2 DEF)
    • 7-8:  Chain Mail Armor (3 DEF)
    • 9:  Scale Mail Armor (4 DEF)
    • 10:  Plate Mail Armor (5 DEF)
    • For all Armors:  Armor passively reduces damage.  It may also be used to actively reduce damage, at the cost of 2 points of damage per pip shaded.
      • 1-3:  Helmet
      • 4-5:  Torso (covers both chest and back)
      • 6:  Sleeves
      • 7:  Gloves
      • 8:  Waist
      • 9:  Leggings
      • 10:  Boots
  • Random equipment damage:  Rather than list a specific amount of wear and tear for each item, roll on the following table with a d10.
    • 1-3:  1 pip
    • 4-6:  2 pips
    • 7-10:  3 pips

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Just a thought on photon energy and proper time

Had a minor revelation this morning.  About fundamental physics.  Yes, I'm weird this way.  Thanks for noticing.

Photon energy (best known as wavelength or frequency) times proper time (local flow of time) is a constant.  As gravity increases, proper time decreases, and photons gain a proportional amount of energy.  We call this blue shift.

As gravity decreases, proper time increases, and photons lose a proportional amount of energy.  We call this red shift.

Interesting.  It's almost as if gravity has no influence on photon energy - just our perception of it. 

Relative velocity still does alter photon energy.  A photon emitted in the direction of travel still has more energy than a photon emitted in the opposite direction, from the standpoint a stationary particle used as a target.  Of course, that's probably because of the energy differential caused by the velocity deformation around the emitting particle.

So, the only way to tell the actual energy of a photon, is to intercept one emitted at exactly 90 degrees to the path of travel of the emitting particle, along an equal gravitational gradient, by a stationary particle, or one traveling at ninety degrees to the angle of interception.  In that (and only that) circumstance, the energy delivered by the photon will be exactly equal to the energy it was emitted with.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A new job for the EPA and FDA

From a comment by Frank Luke at John Wright's Journal:

"A is for Alar." I remember the 60 Minutes story about Alar like that used on apple trees caused cancer in lab animals. While we were in high school, a friend of mine in FFA gave a speech about his research into pesticides and scare tactics. Alar was his golden example. To get the results it did, the lab gave the mice so much Alar that a human being would need to eat 14 tons of apples a day for 70* years. In that dosage, 5% of the mice developed tumors. In the group having a half dosage (meaning the equivalent of 7 tons of apples a day for 70 years), none developed cancer.
At that statement, the audience went into shock. Half were trying not to interrupt him by laughing at the dosage required. The other half just gasped.
*This is 20+ years ago. My memory may be off on the exact numbers, but "tons per day" and "years" was definitely in the speech.

I propose a new executive order for various government organizations such as the EPA and FDA.  They are to propose no new regulation, ruling, finding or guideline until they have completed an open, replicable, scientific evaluation of all previous rulings, regulations, findings and guidelines.  Study summaries are to be written in plain English, at no more than a 10th grade level, and made freely and easily available to the public.  Each study is to be reviewed by a panel of thirty randomly selected citizens, who are neither government employees nor receiving welfare benefits, with SAT (combined math & verbal) scores of not less than 1000, or ACT overall scores of not less than 20.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Review: .224 Valkyrie

.224 Valkyrie is essentially a .223 redesigned to better handle long for caliber bullets.  It produces similar velocities for the same weight of bullet as a .223, but .223 cartridges can't really handle 95 grain bullets.

If you're really into long range, precision shooting using the AR-15 platform, this caliber will be a good investment.  Unlike most of the other new .22 center fire cartridges, the Valkyrie doesn't come with additional recoil or overall length.

Otherwise?  It doesn't really bring much new to the table.  It might make a decent military round, but increasing the caliber (to at least 6mm, preferably 6.5) would be a better solution.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Quora collapsed: What was it like to be a soldier in Iraq?

The Quora Gestapo has collapsed my answer to "What was it like to be a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan?"  Because telling the truth about a horrible place is neither nice nor polite, I guess.  Truth is no defense to Leftists, of course.

Anywhere, here's my answer, in all its stream of consciousness glory:

Iraq, 2003–2004, 14 months. (This was my third war.)
It sucked, I’m glad I did it, I never want to do it again. I didn’t hate Arabs before I met them. Most disgusting people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been to over 40 countries, all around the world. Everything Evan Friend mentions in his answer, plus ubiquitous pedophilia - the curse that keeps on cursing. I had an eight year old boy try to sell me his little brother for “ficky-ficky”. MedCap missions routinely treated little boys for prolapsed colons. They don’t have anything remotely similar to what we Americans would describe as morality. Their moral code (the real one, not the formal one for company) consists of “Do whatever you want, as long as you don’t get caught.” Except for the rules of hospitality: if a man invited you into his home for tea, you were his guest and safe from harm. By him. While you were inside the house.
Arabs lie constantly, pointlessly. And they’re not even very good at it. They can’t shoot worth spit, which is why they use so many bombs. The vast majority of them don’t understand the concepts of self discipline, cooperation, courage, and loyalty. The one word that best describes the men is ‘craven’. On multiple occasions, companies of over a hundred Iraqi police or soldiers, armed with AKs and RPKs, in a reinforced concrete building with steel doors, would surrender to two or three men with pistols.
I will admit that I met one respectable, decent Iraqi man. Bravest, most dependable guy I ever met. He kept a PKM next to his door, and never went anywhere without a pistol. It was funny watching the kids, including the baby, pointedly not touch the loaded machine gun on the floor. His wife could really cook, too.
I had a different experience from most. I was on an independent CI/HUMINT team. That meant we got to run our own missions. It also means we got almost zero support from anybody. Our own command betrayed us at levels I really don’t want to go into here. It was fun tooling around with just two, soft sided HMMWV’s, one with a SAW on a cast-iron pedestal in the back, with a bench from an old truck tied to a slab of plywood for a rear-facing gunner’s seat. Sometimes, we talked some support guys into going out with us to be a third truck. There got to be a waiting list for that eventually, after they passed the word that we bought lunch and sodas out on the economy. The chicken was some of the best I’ve had outside Peru. (Never eat the fish over there. Or the vegetables - they wash them with their own water, which has been polluted for all of recorded history.)
Almost everything we (US forces) did in Iraq back then was pointless or actively counterproductive. We built schools - but let the Saudis provide Wahabi teachers. They taught the Arab boys (never girls) to hate America and kill infidels. Where do you think the ISIS supporters came from? Funny story - we built a school on the west side of a main road. A couple months later, the people on the east side of the road complained about their children being hit by cars, and asked us to build a school on their side of the road. We told them no, and explained the concept of the crossing guard. They didn’t get it. Why would anybody care about any children but their own? They just repeated their demand that we build another school.
I reduced a commo officer to tears one day after he asked me, “So, what’s really going on outside the wire?”
The weather sucked most of the time. It’s a desert, so it’s either too hot or too cold. In the summer, when it cools down to 95 Fahrenheit at night, you shiver. You sweat so much that when you take off your shirt, it’s white with salt and can stand up on its own after it dries (in about 5 minutes). Nomads plant and harvest the wheat, then let their sheep and goats graze on the stubble. They also got paid to block the roads with their flocks, so the bad guys could ambush us when we stopped. If you killed the sheep, you had to pay $100 each for them out of your own pocket.
Did you know that a .50 BMG round will go through a cow and then 12 inches of mud brick wall?
The coffee and tea are hot and they drink them with lots of sugar. They don’t use filters, so never drink the bottom 1/4 inch of the cup.
When it snows, the kids immediately build snowmen and have snowball fights. It seems to be built in.
Hummingbird moths are fascinating.
Every spring, millions of hedgehogs migrate across the desert. They move at night, and burrow into the dirt to disappear during the day. You can’t help but run over scores of them when you drive anywhere at night.
Every fall, millions of ravens migrate south from Turkey. The flock is miles wide, and runs from horizon to horizon for three days.
Dust devils come in waves across the desert. It’s not really sand so much as dried, powdered dirt. From land that sheep have grazed on for at least ten thousand years. It gets into your food no matter what you do.
There’a village made entirely out of sheep dung. They cook with it as fuel, too. You can imagine the smell. Especially after it rains.
They still make mud bricks the old fashioned way. It still works.
Not being allowed to shoot back when you’re being shot at really sucks. Politicians are stupid and a little bit crazy, and many of them wear stars on their shoulders. Intelligence reports have dates for a reason - raiding a house three weeks after the meeting seldom produces useful results. The smaller the scorpion, the more painful the sting. The bigger the wasp, the more it hurts. Camel spiders are to be shot on sight. Biting flies are smaller than the mosquito mesh, and don’t care about DEET. There are five separate species of mosquito. Mice get into everything. Gatorade is a literal life saver. You can drink a liter every hour and still not need to pee all day. You can hear a serious burn victim from a quarter mile away - even when the doors are closed on the ambulance. Mass graves have a distinctive smell. Putting a cow or sheep on top of the bodies just makes it that much more unpleasant to dig through. They will never send out power equipment until you dig down far enough with a shovel to be able to take pictures.
There is nothing Iraqis won’t pretend to do, if you offer them enough money. There is very little they will actually do, even when their lives are in danger. Kurds are way better than Arabs - but that’s not exactly a high bar to cross.
Lieutenants are stupid yet arrogant, and think they know everything. This is a universal truth, and never changes. It takes a special sort of genius to order several armored vehicles, one at a time, into the same swamp.
Arab officers are chosen for family connections, ability to pay bribes, and incompetence. (Competent officers would be a threat to their superiors.) The better Arab officers treat their men like illiterate, superstitious peasants. (To be fair, most of them are.) The normal officers treat their men worse than animals. (They generally remember to feed and water the sheep, and seldom beat them for no reason.)
They don’t have enough trees to have toilet paper.

Friday, May 25, 2018

School is hell

From yesterday's blog at Alma Boykin's place.  (You are reading her novels, right?)

I was tiny, and geeky, and introverted (Aspie much?) through school. There was one kid (out of 400) shorter than me – and he was less than 5′ tall at graduation. And he outweighed me by 20 pounds. (Food? What is this food I keep hearing other kids talk about?)
(Side note – My Mom taught me how to cook. On Saturday, make dumplings in chicken broth, with the leftover bones and the wilted carrots and soft potatoes the grocer sold us for half price. On Sunday, boil stew beef for eight hours, or roast a chicken for three. Serve leftovers all week with day-old factory seconds from the Wonder Bread plant.)
In 4th grade, four other boys thought it would be fun to attack me with pocket knives, clothes line, and a length of cable. I was fairly passive until they started damaging my bike. Then I sent them to the hospital. I gave their knives to the cop who showed up at my house a little while later, and showed him the cuts on my hands, arms and back.
I was absolutely tormented through middle school. Even one of the teachers got in on the psychological abuse. Until this one girl just walked over to me in gym class and punched me in the crotch. I knocked her out. The teacher sent her to the office for starting it – he had watched the entire incident (all 5 seconds of it). I didn’t get physically picked on after that.
In high school, thank goodness, I found a group of other outcasts. We really didn’t have much in common other than nerdosity and loneliness. We played chess and talked about The Destroyer (Remo Williams) novels at lunch, played D&D after school, and went to the local Bell Lab to play with their computers once a week. It was wonderful.