April 18th, 2007

#364: This is why I like Neverwinter Nights



I mean, this is just made of awesome.

Deekin started out as a hapless kobold slave of a dragon in the expansion pack for NwN, "Shadows of Undrentide". He was a bard then, like 5th level; now he's a Red Dragon Disciple (like my character is) and he's got all kinds of badassitude going on--even though he's a kobold.

Cron is my pixie familiar. I discussed Cron in an earlier entry.

The shield golem--I just got that after going to "The Isle of the Maker" in "Hordes of the Underdark". Hoo-raw!

The +10 Harbinger Kin greatsword--it started life as an ordinary +3 greatsword, back in the original NwN. In one of the later chapters there was a dwarven blacksmith who could take the magical greatsword and some adamantine, and make the Harbinger Kin, which does fire damage. And since then, Dandi hacked her way through thousands of enemies with that thing, until finally arriving in the Underdark where she came across a Drow blacksmith who could upgrade the sword further...for a price.

I didn't bother to tally how much the end damage was. I put +7 on the thing and had the guy add "keen" and "permanent haste" so I can get an improved critical threat range and 6 attacks per round. In Dandi's hands the thing lays down 3-18+15 hit points worth of bitchsmack per attack, and anything from 15-20 on the initial attack roll is a critical threat after I took "improved critical, greatsword" as a feat. A critical hit does 2x damage, so bitchsmack jumps to 6-36+15 when I crit. (IIRC the strength bonus doesn't double.) The only thing keeping this sword from being a +12 Hackmaster is the fact that it's limited to +10 by the game mechanic. Hoody hoo!

This is the kind of thing which I have never seen in any game other than D&D, computer or otherwise.

Dandi Lane continues to be chaotic evil. It has served her well; and now as an epic-level character she is a force to be reckoned with in Faerun.

NwN kicks ass.

#365: This is all I'm going to say about Virginia Tech.

The campus was a "gun-free zone". That worked perfectly. It sure stopped that guy from walking around unharassed and shooting 33 people dead, didn't it? It sure made people feel safe, didn't it? I mean the guy who killed 33 people with a gun (in the "gun-free zone") sure didn't feel like he had to hurry or worry about his safety.

The people who are responsible for creating that "gun-free zone" didn't take something into account: the military definition of "weapons free" means your weapons are ready to fire.

It reminds me of the arrant nonsense of the "nuclear-free zone" from the 1980s. I had heard about those when I was in high school, made a few wisecracks, and forgot about it, until I happened to see a street sign in Iowa City in 1997 designating it a "nuclear-free zone".

The theory behind the "nuclear-free zone" was that if the USSR was informed that an area was not involved in military pursuits, they would not target that area with a nuclear warhead, so that--in the event of a strategic-level nuclear exchange, which most campus liberals thought was inevitable after Reagan was elected--the good liberals would be spared vaporization and would instead die horribly of radiation poisoning, famine, or disease in the aftermath.

The only problem with the concept of the "nuclear-free zone" is that it's based on utter ignorance of war strategy.

Iowa City is home to a major university, one which boasts a world-class teaching hospital. Iowa City sits astride one of the major east-west highways (Interstate 80) and has a large river running through it. There is also, not far from there, the manufacturing plant of a major defense contractor, Rockwell-Collins, which makes (among other things) avionics for military aircraft.

Even if Iowa City wasn't a primary target--and it probably was not--it would have been a "second wave" target at least...and even failing that, it was right smack-dab in the fallout pattern for Des Moines, which--as a state capital and home to more colleges and industry--would have been a primary target. Even if the USSR's generals had decided, "Whoa, there are good Marxists in Iowa City! We can't bomb them!" it wouldn't have mattered. Dead of vaporization or radiation poisoning--dead is dead.

The point I am making here is that the liberal zones which purport to be "free" of things they dislike don't fucking work.

Even if a city has nothing to do with nuclear power or nuclear weapons, it has a certain strategic value which makes it a target for a nuclear strike, just by virtue of its concentration of population and economic value. You target cities because, in a strategic exchange, you want to destroy your enemy's ability to make war and his will to make war. Since military units are (by definition) mobile, you target the big, fixed installations that no economy can do without, and you target the fixed military installations which no military can do without.

Destroying any city helps. Destroying a city with hospitals, universities, a disproportionately high number of young people (particularly men, who could be drafted), and a vital industry is highly desirable.

"Nuclear-free zone". Yeah, that'll stop it.

The same situation prevails with banning weapons. Gun-control activists scoff at the oft-repeated bromide, "Make guns illegal and only criminals will have guns", but they scoff because that's all they can do--not only do the facts support the statement, but it's a matter of common sense.

The cities with the highest murder rates have something in common: they ban personal ownership of firearms, particularly handguns.

The liberal establishment gets its collective panties in a bunch whenever a state considers making the switch from "may issue" to "shall issue". This refers to wording in the gun laws governing the issuance of concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits--the license which lets you carry a handgun wherever and whenever you choose. "May issue" means that the state can deny the license for whatever reason it chooses, regardless of whether or not the applicant has correctly jumped through all the legal hoops. (It also means that politicians and celebrities can get gun permits for their bodyguards without any trouble at all. But not the regular people; they have the police, after all.) "Shall issue" means that, if the applicant has satisfied the requirements, the state must issue him a CCW permit.

The liberal establishment doesn't like that. That means that any law-abiding citizen can go out and get himself a handgun, and actually carry it with him wherever he goes. The man next to you at the supermarket might be packing heat! What if he's not a policeman? He could snap at any second and start shooting people!

Notice that I said "law-abiding". Felons are categorically denied CCW. There is a training process an applicant must go through, including taking special classes. The applicant learns about the law of self-defense and he learns how to handle his weapon, and he doesn't get his CCW permit unless he passes the class.

And then what? Well, Texas and Florida made the switch from "may issue" to "shall issue", to much liberal hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. The result: a precipitous drop in crime.

Trying to stop violent crime by banning weapons borders on fantasy--one may as well wish real hard--and always fails because criminals, by definition, don't give a rat's ass about the law. (Let's see: Murder One, life in prison or execution; Murder One plus using an unregistered firearm without possessing a gun license, life in prison plus ten years for the gun crime or execution.)

I linked to a story about the ban on "dangerous knives" in Scotland. It sounds like parody or hyperbole, but it's not; it's real. Banning guns failed to stem the tide of murder, so they banned "dangerous knives".

Where does it stop? Where can it stop? Banning hands?

Heinlein said it best, in Starship Troopers: "Son, there are no 'dangerous weapons'. Only dangerous people."

For the government to take away our ability to defend ourselves is inexcusable. Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, demonstrated why.

#366: Pigs got wings

They do.

They are also bright yellow, about 5 inches long, and bird-shaped.

I hung up the first finch sock about two weeks ago. Now the second one is already two-thirds empty.

The goldfinch weighs--what? Two ounces?--and that sock easily packs half a pound of seeds. There are, I think, three or four mated pairs of goldfinches in the area, and I haven't seen any other birds or critters eating the stuff.

How long would it take me to eat my weight in food? I'm about 255 lbs; I'm guessing it would take more than a couple weeks. It would probably take more than a couple years.

Birds, of course, require a lot of energy. Flying is hard work, and seeds are not noted for their energy density. But still....

Little yellow flying pigs, that's what they are.