30 June 2009
29 June 2009
26 June 2009
1) Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?
Yes, if the phone call is being placed to a number outside of US territory.
2) Should the government have the ability to hold an American citizen without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?
Yes. We've done it before at war and the world didn't end. Given my druthers I'd round up every last Muhammadan and put them in camps just like the Japanese during WWII.
3) Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?
Yes. Assuming that citizen is guilty either of giving aide and comfort to the enemy or of making private war on the US (terrorism).
4) Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?
Yes and Yes.
5) Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?
Seriously? This a question? Fuck yeah!
6) Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?
No, 'anti-terrorism' should under the heading of counter-intelligence. FBI gets cases involving resident citizens, CIA gets foreign nationals. Law enforcement takes back seat to preventing private war (terrorism).
7) Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) American terrorist, and then sell it?
Citizen, no. Non-citizen sure why not?
8) Should the U.S. military be tasked with enforcing domestic crime?
No, but they should be guarding our borders and vital infrastructure with deadly force authorized.
9) Should there be a national I.D. card, and should it be made available to law enforcement on demand?
Yes. Imagine how much easier this makes dealing with illegal immigration, for example. Citizenship IDs similar to current chipped military IDs would be a good start.
10) Should a higher percentage of national security-related activities and documents be made classified, and kept from the eyes of the Congress, the courts, and the public?
Yea verily yea. I mean seriously, how does on run a war without secrecy?
23 June 2009
20 June 2009
2. Saw Corvus Belli and Xyston minis in the lead, so to speak, i didn't realize 15mm could be that detailed.
3. No Rifts Game this week, the GM is going to be a daddy, again. Mazaltov!
4. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay continues to go well. Troll Slayers are awesome. I play him as a fearless fight like you don't care if you live or die, so long as you win sort of guy. I get the party in so much trouble...
5. Mass Effect is amazing. One of the best console RPGs since Knights of the Old Republic.
17 June 2009
If this project comes off it should be interesting. I remain curious to see how heavy armored 'Dacian Wars' legionaries and clibinarii 'boiler-makers' will fair against bow, pollax, and chivalry.
16 June 2009
15 June 2009
14 June 2009
So gentle-reader folk, if you want me to follow YOUR blog, one had better make a comment on mine. Not because I need the reach-around, but because I can't seem to make blogger do what I want it to do.
You're a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'Neath the Red, White and Blue.
Where there's never a boast or a brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eyes on the grand old flag!
13 June 2009
As in RAW BRP, combat runs on % dice. However I'm tweaking this slightly. Firstly, the results of a d% roll are read as 00-99, not 01-00. Secondly, instead of success, special success, critical success etc running off of fractions of your skill I will be using a margin of success system. This will be a simple 'blackjack' roll high but don't bust framework; your margin of success is the tens digit of your d% roll. For example; your skill is 53% and you roll 29, your margin is 2. This MOS will function as a direct damage bonus to attacks in combat, higher skills tend to result in deadlier attacks. Critical successes will remain; any roll that exactly equals your effective skill level is a critical success. While a roll of 99 is always a failure and a fumble.
Parrying, dodging, and other opposed actions will be resolved by comparing margins of success. An attack with a MOS of 3 beats a dodge with a MOS of 2. A critical dodge always succeeds, although a critical strike will still deal 1/2 damage.
I will be using strike ranks pretty much as written. Automatic weapons fire I'm still thinking on. Currently I think I'll have short bursts/semi auto add a bonus to strike (also effectively a damage bonus remember), long burst/semi auto fusillades be area effect, and having an option for suppressive fire to force a willpower test or stay in cover.
10 June 2009
09 June 2009
Israeli Lessons on Hybrid War
Israeli Lessons on Hybrid War
By Greg Grant Friday, June 5th, 2009 8:14 pm
years of low-intensity conflict operations against Palestinian terrorist organizations, the occupation, damaged the military’s ability to shift gears and cope with a different fight of the high-intensity kind. The Israeli army had adopted a “low-intensity conflict mindset” that influenced corresponding tactical procedures including command and control, logistics support and casualty evacuation. What works in a low-intensity environment does not, typically, in a high-intensity one, and the IDF was slow to change out of the LIC “mode.”
The army didn’t follow high-intensity combat procedures, such as only advancing at night and was late to prepare for ground operations, “which was essential for decisive outcome in this type of conflict.
In the years leading up to the war, the Israeli army had trained less in combined arms operations and subsequently lost vital combat skills, mainly at the division and brigade level. It also gave too low a priority to updating major war plans.
The IDF’s “operating concept” used unclear terms and was impossible to implement against a non state enemy. The operating concept he references is “Effects Based Operations,” which emphasized airpower’s ability to achieve decisive effects.
Say it with me. 'Fourth Generation War is a crock of shit and conventional warfare is still relevant, forget that at your peril.'
RIP, Private Long
Pvt. William Long was to have been on his way to his first posting Monday when, instead, he was being eulogized in his hometown.
Long, from Conway, was killed June 1 outside the Army-Navy Career Center in west Little Rock where he had volunteered to tell others about his military experience. A Muslim convert once imprisoned in Yemen has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in Long's death. He allegedly told police he targeted Army personnel "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past."
About 200 people packed into the Harlan Park Baptist Church for the service.
My prayers for you and your family, a toast to fallen warrior, and the thanks of a grateful nation. You volunteered. That's all anyone can ever ask. Hooah.
08 June 2009
Anyway, this Rifts group is just such an awesome group to game with, especially since the GM moves the story along and doesn't shoot down the players when they try to get creative, and has enough self confidence to make a snap ruling and run with it. In other words, a damn fine GM.
My 5th level Aberrant Cyber-Knight/Asshole finally bought the farm this past weekend. In a tragic blue on blue incident Sir Havel Ironsides was shot down as he single-handedly fought a higher level blackguard Cyber-Knight to a virtual stand still (while the rest of the pary delt with his equally vile but less powerful minions). It was Epic, it was Fail, it was Epic Fail.
Granted all it would have taken was a bad roll for Ironsides to have been cut down where he stood, but that would have been much more satisfying than friendly fire having the right of way.
It was, however, abosolutely HILARIOUS. Great fun was had by all and I'm looking foward to bringing a new character into the (dis)functional party of misfits that has been rocking the post-holocaust.
Farewell Ironsides, this one's for you.
07 June 2009
Anyway, I'm thinking of eight or nine broad classes that determine what Jobs (professions) you can enter and what activities benefit from an experience bonus.
Jobs determine what skills and Talents/Feats/Perks (whatever) one has acces too, and increase in 'Job Rank', which opens up new character advances (skills, attributes, abilites, so on).
So here's a quick sekeleton I've put together;
Fighter 'Man at Arms'
- Boomer (Combat 'Borg; Robocop, Briareos Hecatonchires)
- Samsonite (Augmented Soldier; performance enhancing drugs, organs, prosthetics)
- Powered Trooper (Powered Armor operator)
- Land Warrior (generalist warrior)
- Armored Crew (armored vehicle crewman; tanks, APCs, IFVs, walkers)
- Flyboy (combat aviator)
- Scout (wilderness path finding, tracking, survival, light infantry)
- Assassin (infiltrate, kill, exfiltrate)
Skilled Support, tech 'Technical Specialist'
- Field Medic (healer, paramedic)
- Tech-Spec (item repair and item craft)
- Hacker (opens doors, gets the info, spoofs sensors, etc)
- Drone Rigger (gathers intel, fun with remotely controlled robots)
- Scavenger (jury rigger and forager)
- City Rat? Ganger? (not sure where I'm going with this idea, streetwise maybe)
Skilled Support, expert 'Academic Expert'
- Field Scientist (smart guy, TONS of skills)
- Field Surgeon (medical doctor, sometimes, you need one)
- Field Researcher (three words; research, monster lore, weakness)
- Genius Spark (mad scientist! makes gadgets that shouldn't work, but do)
- Face Man (confidence trickster)
- Diplomat (negotiator)
- Spy (secret agent man)
- Fixer (Mr. Connections)
- Entertainer (traveling performer)
Mystical Support 'Mystics'
- Mystic (dabbler in Magyck and ESP)
- Summoner (Evocation Mage; summon and bind)
- Lesser Talent (minor ESPer; more skills fewer powers)
- Greater Talent (major ESPer; fewer skills, more powers)
- Sorcerer (Invoker of Alien Gods)
- Enchanter (Enchantment Mage; buff, debuff, control)
- Cleric (Invoker of the Gods of Men)
Fighter/Tech 'Military Speicialist'
- Special Forces (skilled warrior and leader of men)
- Combat Hacker (warrior with electronic war capability)
- Military Engineer (construct or tear down defenses)
- Field Armorer (warrior jury-rigger)
- Road Warrior (wheel-man, speed-demon, transporter)
- Tek Paladin (power trooper with scavenging, jury rigging and science!)
- Psi Knight (not a jedi)
- Spell Sword (classic fighter-mage)
- Spell 'Slinger (battle-mage)
- Warrior Nun (fighter-cleric, female)
- Battle Brother (fighter-cleric, male)
Fighter/Persuasion 'setting appropriate name here'
- Smuggler (Han Solo, Jack Burton)
- Six String Samurai (Bard; with a sword, and a steel guitar)
- Black Operative (James Bond; wetworks, sabotage, high action, plausible deniability )
- Techno-Mage (Mad Spark inventor-mage)
- Alchymist (transmuter of matter)
- Churigeon (bio-wizardry)
- Meta-Physician (scientist-mage researcher)
- PsychoScientist (psi-scientist)
- Psi-Comp. (psychic hacker)
03 June 2009
US lab debuts super laser
by Glenn Chapman Glenn Chapman Sat May 30, 4:23 am ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – A US weapons lab on Friday pulled back the curtain on a super laser with the power to burn as hot as a star.
The National Ignition Facility's main purpose is to serve as a tool for gauging the reliability and safety of the US nuclear weapons arsenal but scientists say it could deliver breakthroughs in safe fusion power.
"We have invented the world's largest laser system," actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said during a dedication ceremony attended by thousands including state and national officials.
"We can create the stars right here on earth. And I can see already my friends in Hollywood being very upset that their stuff that they show on the big screen is obsolete. We have the real stuff right here."
NIF is touted as the world's highest-energy laser system. It is located inside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory about an hour's drive from San Francisco.
Equipment connected to a house-sized sphere can focus 192 laser beams on a small point, generating temperatures and pressures that exist at cores of stars or giant planets.
NIF will be able to create conditions and conduct experiments never before possible on Earth, according to the laboratory.
A fusion reaction triggered by the super laser hitting hydrogen atoms will produce more energy than was required to prompt "ignition," according to NIF director Edward Moses.
"This is the long-sought goal of 'energy gain' that has been the goal of fusion researchers for more than half a century," Moses said.
"NIF's success will be a scientific breakthrough of historic significance; the first demonstration of fusion ignition in a laboratory setting, duplicating on Earth the processes that power the stars."
Construction of the NIF began in 1997, funded by the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
"NIF, a cornerstone of the National Nuclear Security Administration's effort to maintain our nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing, will play a vital role in reshaping national security in the 21st century," said NNSA administrator Tom D'Agostino.
"This one-of-a-kind facility is the only place in the world that is capable of providing some of the most critical technical means to safely maintain the viability of the nation's nuclear stockpile."
Scientists say that NIF also promises groundbreaking discoveries in planetary science and astrophysics by recreating conditions that exist in supernovas, black holes, and in the cores of giant planets.
Electricity derived from fusion reactions similar to what takes place in the sun could help sate humanity's growing appetite for green energy, according to lab officials.
"Very shortly we will engage in what many believe to be this nation's greatest challenge thus far, one that confronts not only the nation but all of mankind -- energy independence," said lab director George Miller.
The lab was founded in 1952 and describes itself as a research institution for science and technology applied to national security.
"This laser system is an incredible success not just for California, but for our country and our world," Schwarzenegger said.
"NIF has the potential to revolutionize our energy system, teaching us a new way to harness the energy of the sun to power our cars and homes."
02 June 2009
The Confederated States in this setting are obviously intended to be the great power of the North American continent, but lets look at what we mean by that. In a post-apocalyptic setting (especially this one), even the great (human) powers struggle to survive. Nor should one consider the CSA to be a monolithic, or even fully settled society. It is feudal in nature, and much of the territory claimed is still untamed wilderness or crumbling ruins. One of my problems with many Post-Apoc games and stories is that they are quickly filled with so many new powers and principalities, each a modern nation-state, that adventuring in a good ole' frpg sense is almost impossible. I'm trying to avoid this with Shadow Gates, and leave even the major player on the continent barely controlling its own territory and no more centralized than the Holy Roman Empire of the Hapsburg's.
Unlike its first main inspiration (the Coalition States from a certain other game) adventuring is quite possible in Confed territory. The local lord doesn't have the man-power to waste sending search parties after the beast rumored to be attacking his Vaki's livestock, nor search the ruins for rumored artifacts. And the State Guard and Confed Army units in the general area have much more important things to do. Also this Confed isn't quite as automatically murderous towards 'undesirables' nor as obviously inspired by the worst excesses of the early twentieth century with its gulags and einsatzgruppen.
This Confed. is willing to give 'demi-humans' a chance. What are 'demi-humans'? Any vaguely humanoid entity that the local, on the scene, authority decides to tolerate. The more you look like a base-line pure human the more likely you are to be tolerated, especially if you can provide a useful service to the local community. Obviously this varies greatly, Le 'estate du Nord is the most open and tolerant, while Little Dixie is much less so. Anything with tentacles, rotational symetry, or an odd number of appendages is likely to be shot on site wherever you are in the Confed. Psykers are also tolerated within the confed, as long as they are members of either the Confederate Army Psi-Corps, or the Mentalist's Guild, and don't get on the wrong side of a vengful feudal lord when on his property, or get lynched as a wytch by superstitious vakis...
Magyck is a special case. Unlicensed magyck, which is to say virtually all of it, is punishable by death. Magyck is equated with contact with ruinous powers, and the Confed is mostly right. Although not all, or even most sorcerers have dealings with vast an alien intelligences, all forms of what humanity ignorantly labels as magyck are inherently hazardous to human health, spirit, and sanity. There is not much functional difference between a a sorcerous rampage on behalf of hidden masters, or one brought on by sheer murderous lunacy.
There are some forms of magyck that are more controllable however. Non-Euclidean Meta-Physical Engineering, aka tekno-magery is one. Another licensed, bonded, and guilded path to the mysteries is Para-Combinatorial Chemistry, also known to the layman as Alchymy. Additionally, clerics of the Elder Gods of Man, and even the servants of Apostolic Palace, have been known to exercise gifts and boons of their lords, creating effects quite similar to that of a rogue sorcerer, but with tacit approval of the Confed. Emperor Rothschild isn't concerened that a Catholic Theurgist or a Cleric of Mars uses techniques similar to sorcerers, only that they have shown no threat to himself or his people.
01 June 2009
Polities civilize, humanize their members
Man needs a polity to really be human
Similarly, a polity needs a Church to sacralize itself, lest the entire exercise turn into self-idolatry
(We have seen were this leads in the early twentieth century)
These things need defending, and the best defense is a good offense