Archive for month: February, 2014

Friday Quote – 2/28/14

28 Feb
February 28, 2014

No matter how paranoid or conspiracy minded you are, what the government is doing is worse this you imagine.

William Blum, former State Dept. Worker

My brother was telling me yesterday about discussions surrounding the security hole found in Apple’s iOS which necessitated the emergency patch, and that’s there’s been some discussion about whether the NSA might have turned an Apple employee or infiltrated Apple. Two years ago, this would have been tin-foil hat territory. Now, it seems scarily possible.

Metal Tuesday – Tyr – Hold the Heathen Hammer High

25 Feb
February 25, 2014

For this week’s Metal Tuesday, we have Tyr’s “Hold the Heathen Hammer High.”

Lyrics:

Heathen heart
Pagan pride
Faring far
Sword by Side
Tribal times
Northern nights
Hidden high
Runic rites I was told
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Ever true unto your forefathers stalwart stay
Hold the Heathen Hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Down the wayward way so far faring strangers stray
Hold the heathen hammer high
Weather wild
Blackened blade
Angry eyes
Ruthless raid
Heathen heart
Pagan pride
Faring far
Sword by Side
Hard and cold
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Ever true unto your forefathers stalwart stay
Hold the Heathen Hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Down the wayward way so far faring strangers stray
Hold the heathen hammer high
From a pagan past that only the heathen hold
From the far end of the world and of times untold
I bring message to your mids of the ways of old
Ways reluctantly abandoned if truth be told
Ways abandoned for a scavenger of our souls
Living on malicious lies, hiding in the holes
Cruel and credible as any our tale of trolls
Hold the heathen hammer highest of all your goals
Hold the heathen hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Ever true unto your forefathers stalwart stay
Hold the Heathen Hammer high with a battle cry
For the pagan past I live and one day will die
Hold the heathen hammer high, never turn away
Down the wayward way so far faring strangers stray
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high
Hold the heathen hammer high

Even Our Own Narratives May Be Flawed

24 Feb
February 24, 2014

How many of us have heard the story of Kitty Genovese, who was raped and murdered outside her apartment building while thirty-eight of her neighbors just watched and did nothing? I know I’ve heard it repeated by bloggers and authors. Yeah, not so much.

Across the street, a man named Robert Mozer heard Genovese from his apartment. Looking out his seventh-floor window, he saw a man and a woman, sensed an ­altercation — he couldn’t see exactly what was happening — and yelled out his window, “Leave that girl alone!”

Moseley [the man convicted of Genovese’s rape and murder] later testified that Mozer’s action “frightened” him, sending him back to his car. At this point, Genovese was still alive, her wounds nonfatal.
Fourteen-year-old Michael Hoffman, who lived in the same building as Mozer, also heard the commotion. He looked out his window and told his father, Samuel, what he saw. Samuel called the police, and after three or four minutes on hold, he reached a police dispatcher. He related that a woman “got beat up and was staggering around,” and gave them the location.

Other neighbors heard something as well, but it wasn’t always clear what. Some looked out the window to see Moseley scurrying away, or Genovese, having stood up, now walking slowly down the block, leaning against a building. From their vantage point, it wasn’t obvious that she was wounded. Others who looked didn’t see her at all, as Genovese walked around a corner, trying to make her way home at 82-70 Austin St.

But the police did not respond to Samuel Hoffman’s call, and Moseley, seeing no help was imminent, returned. He hunted down Genovese — who had made it to a vestibule in her building before collapsing — stabbed her several more times, then raped her.

Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath.

Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish ­final minutes of her life.

So, some people did try to help, some were unsure of what was going on, and some were the scumbags we’ve always thought when hearing the story. Also, the police didn’t respond.

What are the lessons we can learn?

1. Some people will always be willing to help (a little like yelling down to a lot like rushing into a dangerous situation to help)

2. Most people need some convincing or directing to help. These are your bystanders that if you give them direction will help in a situation.

3. There are always some scumbags who will not help or will try to take advantage of a bad situation. I will never forget Michael Bane talking about friends of his who returned to their NY apartments after evacuating due to the attack on the WTC and finding their homes looted. All we can do is limit these people’s influence on events (although I wouldn’t shed many tears if they were pounded into the ground).

4. Official help may not be coming. They may be dealing with other emergencies, be hamstrung by bureaucratic rules, or just not give a damn about your emergency. This comes back to the first question of preparedness – What’s Your Plan?

Narratives are rarely as simple as they are made to be. Nothing with humans ever is. Just believing in the bystander effect will ignore the good people trying to help, not stop the bad trying to interfere, and forget that sometimes help isn’t coming. We are much better served by basing our plans on reality than stories that conform to our biases.

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 17

24 Feb
February 24, 2014

Anne

“Anne, would you please explain how you can read elvish?” Veronica asked warily.

“I don’t know,” Anne answered, dumbfounded. “I just looked and it just became understandable. Like I was remembering it.” Samantha peered into Anne’s eyes. Anne could feel the woman’s psychic touch in her mind. Odd memories came flooding up. Her fifth birthday party with that scary clown. Her prom date opening a limo door for her. Her father watching baseball on a hot summer afternoon. Ambushing the local bully with snowballs when she was ten. Then they stopped just as suddenly.

“Read the words again, please,” Samantha requested. Anne looked down at the white words on the small table. As she read them aloud, Samantha’s face scrunched in pain. When Anne said the last word, Samantha let out an anguished cry and fell to the floor. Veronica and Anne were at her side.

“Well, that didn’t go as well as planned,” Samantha said weakly as the other two helped her to her feet.

“What just happened?” Erik asked over the radio. “Is everyone alright?”

“We’re fine. Go back to your work,” Samantha answered. Then she turned to Anne. “I very much doubt you’ll be able to tell us why you can read elvish. There’s a part of your mind that is blocked from me. When you were reading, I followed the thoughts to that part, and then it slapped back my probes a bit harder than I expected.”

“Is it a magical or a psychic block?” Veronica asked.

“I’m not sure,” Samantha answered. “It isn’t recent though. That block has been in place before you hit puberty.”

“You can tell that?” Anne asked, astonished.

“I can,” Samantha answered. Her tone told Anne that it wasn’t a common ability among Avalonian telepaths. Samantha looked over at Veronica. “Let’s get this done.” Veronica nodded and went into the kitchen. She came back with a box of salt and proceeded to pour a circle around the table. Anne needed to spend some time with Veronica to figure out how this magic of hers worked. The small Indian woman murmured and the salt glowed with a warm white light that brightened up the living room. The table shook and wisps of what looked like brightly colored smoke floated out of the wood. Veronica stared intently at the wisps.

“They’ve done some magic since the killing. A communication spell, but not like one I’ve seen before. I think they were calling–” Veronica was cut off by a flash of light in the corner of the room. By reflex, Anne turned her flashlight on the source of the sudden light. A male voice cursed in a melodic language. She recognized that voice. Arem. Anne brought her submachine gun up towards Arem. She was thrown back as an invisible force smacked her in the chest. Pain flashed through her body as she hit the floor. Her body protested the continued abuse as Anne worked to get to her feet.

SKAYLA!” Veronica shouted and a beam of brilliant blue shot from her hand. Arem, now clearly visible, waved his hand and the beam sparkled across an unseen shield. He turned his intense brown eyes on Anne, and her resolve melted away. Her arms lowered the weapon. No, she didn’t have to fight him. He could take away the pain. Then Samantha punched the elf in the face.

Anne felt her resolve snap back into place alongside a burning rage. What the hell had that damned elf done to her? Anne snapped up the submachine gun and fired a short burst at Arem. Small red holes appeared on the elf’s brown tunic. The elf spun and glared at her. Anne felt her resolve slipping, but her anger helped bolster her defenses. Anne lined up the floating red hologram on Arem’s face and pulled the trigger. His head snapped back as the nine millimeter bullets struck. The elf dropped to the ground and didn’t move. Anne kept the elf covered as she checked on Samantha.

“Are you okay?” Anne yelled at Samantha. Firing a gun indoors tended to deafen everyone in the room. The psychic nodded, but grimaced in pain as she cradled her right hand. Anne then moved to Arem. Except, as she neared, Anne could see that it wasn’t Arem. The resemblance was striking, but this elf was shorter by an inch or two. The hair was slightly different as well. Cautiously, Anne turned over the unmoving body. The unseeing face confirmed that it wasn’t Arem.

Anne spun as the door slammed open. Erik and Kurt stood in the doorway with MP9’s up and ready. Erik coolly observed the scene, but Kurt almost leapt to Anne’s side. The German’s submachine gun dangled on its sling while he enveloped Anne in a warm embrace. She wanted to revel in Kurt’s warmth and scent, but instead she pushed him away. The hurt or annoyance she expected to see in Kurt’s face never materialized. Instead, the concern went to a professional neutrality. There wasn’t even the subtle mocking in his posture. Why the hell did she have to find the one man that seemed to understand professional boundaries right before she was taken to another world?

“Do you have what you need?” Erik asked Veronica, satisfied that the area was secure. The sorceress nodded as she scrambled to her feet. “Sam, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I just forgot how much it hurts to punch someone,” Samantha answered.

“Extract and burn. Salt the earth,” Erik ordered. Kurt and Samantha walked to the door as Veronica started drawing symbols on the walls of the house.

“What do you mean ‘burn’ and ‘salt the earth’?” she asked.

“Burn this area with enough magic to destroy the ground’s link to wild magic,” Erik answered. “Keeps it from being used as a gate or to communicate with the Dark Towers.”

“What about him?” Anne asked, pointing to the dead elf.

“He’ll be gone in a few minutes,” Samantha answered. “No connection to this world anymore.”

“What about the neighbors?” Anne asked. “Shouldn’t we get them out as well?”

“We’ll call it in when we’re outside,” Samantha explained. “This won’t be any different from any house fire. You’re confusing magical intensity for physical.”

“We need to leave now,” Erik said with a strained patience, “I don’t know if your gunshot was protected by Veronica’s spell slinging tonight. I’d rather not deal with the local authorities again. They might actually start figuring things out that they shouldn’t.” Anne held her tongue as she followed the others out to the waiting van. Samantha used a burner phone to call in the fire as Veronica whispered an elvish word. Flame immediately engulfed the house like it was made of flash paper. Anne felt a pang of guilt as her murder scene was incinerated.

“Did we accomplish anything tonight?” Anne asked herself.

“More than you realize,” Samantha’s voice echoed in her head, “We found out who was responsible for your murders. Now, we just have to figure out who they are and deal with them before they can help Arem steal you.”

Friday Quote – 2/21/14

21 Feb
February 21, 2014
Black people have been programmed to think self-defense, our defense, is someone else’s responsibility – that good, honest, decent black people have nothing to do with guns, because guns are for white folks, police, and black criminals. I find it to be an absurd notion.The vast majority of gun laws in America have been aimed at disarming black people.

Gerald Vernon, Chicago native and veteran firearms instructor

This quote made the rounds on the Book of Face. I think it’s powerful enough to be restated.

It’s not about guns, it’s about control.

For a Company with .NET In Their Name….

19 Feb
February 19, 2014

They seem surprisingly foolish in how this will play on the interwebz.

Well, on the plus side, at least the idiots are making their claim here instead of across the pond.

H/t FTF

Metal Tuesday – Warrant – Mr. Rainmaker

18 Feb
February 18, 2014

Let’s do glam metal! Warrant always seemed kind of a second-tier glam metal act, but I really enjoy “Mr. Rainmaker.”

Lyrics:

It could have rained for forty weeks dear
And I’d have never known the difference
When your life is one long downpour
You’re not sure you’ll go the distance

You come along with a patch of blue sky
Inside your arms I found a place that’s warm and dry

Mister Rainmaker don’t waste your time
I found a girl who is permanent sunshine
She is the little queen of all of my dreams
Carry on! And find someone else to rain on

Love never rained down on me dear
Only heartache and problems
Now through your arms I can see clear
oh, It’s only been raining water
You came along with a patch of blue sky
Inside your arms I found a place that’s warm and dry

Mister Rainmaker don’t waste your time
I found a girl who is permanent sunshine
She is the little queen of all of my dreams
Carry on! And find someone else to rain on

Mister Rainmaker don’t waste your time
I found a girl who is permanent sunshine
She is the little queen of all of my dreams
Carry on! And find someone else to rain on

Mister Rainmaker, yeah, yeah, yeah

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 16

17 Feb
February 17, 2014

Erik

Growls from a dozen throats echoed up and down the deserted suburban street. A dozen pair of golden eyes shone from the shadows surrounding the house the team had come to see. Veronica leapt out of the van and drew a circle around her with chalk. A pale white light surrounded the young woman as she chanted in elvish. Erik slid out from his seat. He drew the stubby MP-9 submachine gun from under his coat. He could feel the animals’ barely contained rage. They felt like dire wolves, but there was something noticeably different.

IKALA!” Veronica yelled and thrust her hands in front of her. A brilliant ball of red energy burst from her hands. The growls turned to yips of fear as the dire wolves scattered from the magic blast. In the glow of the ball, Erik could see the distinctive canine shapes about the size of small ponies. They may not feel like dire wolves, but they certainly looked like them. The ball dissipated harmlessly as it struck the house. The yips ceased instantly. The pack of dire wolves turned back to face the group. The limited emotions that Erik could sense went silent. Well, that wasn’t good.

Veronica just stood in her circle and gave a warm smile as the pack stalked back to the van. Erik unfolded the wire stock of the submachine gun and placed the glowing red hologram on the sight on one of the barely visible dire wolves. Sam was not going to like this one bit. Erik sensed as Kurt and Anne moved up to the flanks. The German was his normal solid rock. Anne was terrified, but determined. Each carried the same small submachine guns.

“Wait for Erik,” Kurt quietly advised Anne, “Once he fires, then hose those things.” The detective didn’t say anything, or at least, not where Erik could hear. Erik was waiting on the diminutive, chanting woman. He’d seen the spell she was slinging before. Those dire wolves were in for a nasty surprise if they thought her magic balls were harmless.

“VERONICA, HIT THEM!” Samantha yelled from behind the line. “Erik, don’t fire!” Veronica obliged her teammate by unleashing a second ball of brilliant red. This time, the dire wolves stood their ground and snarled. That lasted approximately one second after the energy ball consumed the lead dire wolf and incinerated it. The emotional silence from the dire wolves was shattered by a flood of strangely human terror. The remaining wolves scattered with a speed that no dire wolf could achieve. What the hell was going on?

“Erik, look!” Veronica said, as she pointed at the smoldering corpse of the dire wolf. Except, it wasn’t a wolf’s corpse. The still-hot remains were indisputably human. Veronica tentatively stepped out of her circle. She cautiously approached the remains. Kurt and Anna moved behind their sorceress.

“Oh God, that’s burnt human all right,” Anne said, coughing as she neared the corpse. “I’ve smelled that particular odor enough times.”

“Glamour?” Erik asked as Veronica as he joined them. Sam walked up next to him and gripped his upper arm. As a telepath, Sam was always the worst effected in a fight. She could sense the thoughts of the dying. Erik wrapped his arm around his friend and gave her a reassuring hug.

“I’m not seeing the ghosts of a glamour spell,” Veronica answered, examining the body. “It’s almost as if he had wild magic actually bound to him. More wild magic than should’ve been available on this side of the gate. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Could it have been a werewolf?” Anne asked.

“A what?” Erik asked.

“No. Those don’t exist,” Veronica answered, “The tales of monsters were either a summoner bringing in monsters from Avalon, bargainers using their new-found powers to shapeshift, or natural phenomena being misinterpreted by the uninformed. Actual howl at the moon, vulnerable to silver werewolves are just fairy tales.”

“Okay, so what were those things?” Anne asked.

“Something new from the Dark Towers,” Erik answered, his unhappiness tinging his voice. “I wonder if Arem’s been reading Earth monster lore.” He thought on that for a moment. “Let’s get this cleaned up and get to what we came here for. Anne, would you please take Veronica and Sam up to the house so that they can examine the murder scene. Kurt and I will clean up this mess.” He motioned to the corpse.

“Okay,” Anne answered, and then led the two women up to the house. Kurt looked down at the now smoking remains with disgust.

“How exactly are we going to clean this up?” Kurt asked.

“Go get the silver bag,” Erik answered, “And hurry up before Anne can see what we’re doing.”


Anne

Anne walked up the familiar sidewalk to the dark house. It was a typical suburban house. Nothing to make it stand out from the rest of the houses down the street. Well, except for the yellow police tape across the front door. Veronica waved her hand at the door, and it quietly swung open. Anne pulled out her flashlight and motioned for Samantha and Veronica to follow her inside.

Anne could remember coming into this house the first time when the murder was discovered. That time, the quiet street was lit up with a dozen police cars and the two vans of the crime scene techs. Nearly twenty uniformed police officers were busy sealing the area up and doing a canvas by the time Dale and her pulled up. She knew it had been bad when her name got pulled out of rotation. Her captain knew she had a knack for the weird ones.

“Where was the body found?” Veronica asked.

“Down here, in the living room,” Anne answered. She could remember the uneasy faces of the officers that were first on scene. She had walked into the living room, and it was much worse than she expected. It was also the first time she realized it was connected with another suspicious death. One that had been thought to be the work of animals. It was almost the exact same crime scene.

It was the odd scent in the air that alerted Anne something was off. It was a sickly perfumed scent that shouldn’t have been in the house. No one should have been in here except for police, and they wouldn’t be burning incense. Anne drew the MP9 from under her coat and motioned for the other two to fall back.

“No one’s here,” Samantha said, “At least, not now.” Anne arched her eyebrow in question. Samantha just pointed at her head. Oh yeah, psychic. Anne was still getting used to that. Anne lowered the submachine gun, but kept it out as the three women walked into the crime scene. At the center was something. It looked like a collection of odd shapes. As they neared, Anne saw it was a wood plank on top of two stones to form a small table. White symbols covered the table in concentric circles. No, not symbols. They were words in some language that Anne knew she’d never seen before. So why could she read them?

“Upon our souls, we bargain for the power. We pay the cost willingly. We offer the payment for the contract,” Anne read. Veronica and Samantha both froze. Anne turned to see the shocked faces on the women’s faces.

“Anne, would you please explain how you can read elvish?”

Friday Quote – 2/14/14

14 Feb
February 14, 2014
The name Black Man With a Gun was not without some drama. It would work in the porn industry too.

Rev. Kenn Blanchard, in his book Black Man With a Gun Reloaded.

Brother Kenn is trying to crowdfund a book tour for Black Man With a Gun, Reloaded. If you have something you can throw in the bucket, please consider helping Kenn.

Do You Have a Plan?

12 Feb
February 12, 2014

Last Friday night, there was an “incident” at the Florida State Fair.

“These kids get together and they’ll start with a small group of kids and they’ll begin to do what they call wilding … or raging,” Previtera said. “What they do is they start to run. And the small group will start to run and everyone will join them and pretty quickly it becomes a stampede.”

So, you’re a parent who’s taken your kid to the fair because it’s Fair Day. Now, you’re dealing with a mob. What’s your plan? How are you and your child or dependent going to escape or evade?

Add this scenario to plan for when out in crowds. Locate your exits and have a plan. One of the best pieces of advice when dealing with getting kids to safety was to grab them by the hair. They will follow where you direct them.