2019/08/30

Combat Frame Data: AZX-001 Heavy Armor X


AZX-001 Heavy Armor Dolph X
  
AZX-001 Heavy Armor Dolph X

Technical Data

Model number: AZX-001
Code name: Heavy Armor Dolph X
Nickname: Heavy Armor X
Classification: prototype heavy armor defense combat frame
Manufacturer: Zeklov Corporation/Astraea
Operator: SOC Transportation Ministry
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19.5 meters
Weight: Dry weight 54 metric tons, full weight 156 metric tons
Armor type: laminar graphene over palladium glass/titanium/ceramic composite
Powerplant: x2 cold fusion reactor, max output 1727 KW and 276 KW, respectively
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 36,615 kg, 4x 20,285 kg, 2x 25,000 kg, 2x 15,875 kg, 2x 11,750 kg; top speed 2660 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 37, 180° turn time 0.80 seconds; legs: top ground speed 165 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted behind visor in head
Fixed armaments: none
Hand armaments: power mace, battery-powered, stored on recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use; machine pistol, clip-fed, 20 rounds per clip, stored in holster on skirt armor
Special equipment:  ion field generator; x2 remote launcher, mounted on shoulders, stores 3 defensive remotes each

General Notes

Tasked with designing a prototype for Astraea/Zeklov's new Dolph line, Heavy Team's X Group set out to develop the ultimate defensive combat frame in answer to Group Y's AZY-002 all-out attack CF. Also starting with a CF-015 Zwei Dolph, Group X added two layers of advanced composite armor for XSeed-caliber protection.

A breakthrough ion field generator projected a sphere of charged particles around the unit, granting effective protection against plasma weapons. Solid projectiles and laser beams could pass through the field, but the double-layered armor could repel multiple direct hits from either. Otherwise, multiple plasma hits--or a single shot from an incredibly powerful plasma weapon--were required to knock out the field.

Putting a twist on drone technology pioneered on the XCD-101 Ezekiel, Group X installed a pair of remote launchers on the heavy armor Dolph's pauldrons, which carried three remotes each. These remotes were not designed to reflect lasers. Instead, they each carried a miniaturized ion field projector. Just as agile as Ezekiel's remotes, the Dolph's drones could surround their parent CF, enclosing it in a nigh-impenetrable energy field. The highly mobile remotes could also envelop other CFs, objects, and areas within protective ion fields.

Group X equipped their prototype with minimal offensive weaponry. The heavy armor wielded a power mace which featured two settings: one to superheat the mace's head for better armor penetration and an EM setting capable of delivering a potent electromagnetic pulse to a target on contact, disrupting insufficiently shielded electrical systems at the point of impact. For a modicum of short-range attack ability, the prototype carried a machine pistol chambered for tungsten-graphene rounds similar to Grand Dolph rifle ammo but in a smaller 40mm caliber. The pistol's high rate of fire allowed its dense slugs to puncture 1D carbyne armor at point-blank range. However, its lower ammo capacity made running out of bullets an even bigger concern.

The defensive Dolph prototype had one more trick up its sleeve. Its ion fields could deliver powerful EMPs to electronics brought in contact with them. Test pilots soon devised the effective tactic of purposefully swarming an enemy with the CF's remotes and exposing it to multiple overlapping fields to disable its systems. Though less effective against heavily insulated CFs like XSeeds and other Dolphs, this remote EMP attack made short work of Guardian and Grenzmark-class combat frames.

Christened the AZX-001 Heavy Armor Dolph X, the defense-optimized CF proved an even match for the Heavy Armor Y. When tested against each other, both units scored the same number of victories, with success depending upon the pilot.

In the end, both the Heavy Armor X and the Heavy Armor Y were shown up by the  AZZ-003 Heavy Armor Dolph Z, Nevertheless, Astraea/Zeklov managing director Sullia Zend chose the Heavy Armor X prototype for her executive CF team.


Support independent science fiction! Get three eBooks for the price of one, claim sweet perks like pro editing, your own canonical mech, and a role in an XSeed book! Back Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming now!

Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/29

The Politics of Post-Modernism

Volvo

The Z Man presents a brilliant post connecting the dots between the Enlightenment, post-modernism, and the Left's march toward nihilist chaos.
Post-modernism is the 20th century academic movement popular in philosophy, the grievance studies and the humanities. It denies the existence of a universal, stable reality, insisting everything is arbitrary and subjective. It is a reaction to science and technology that explains reality in objective terms. The post-modernist claims that reality is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own personal circumstances, within the social construct of society and the perceived reality of others.
This is why the Left is now so vehemently anti-science. A generation ago the proper leftists had a Darwin fish on her Volvo. This was supposed to be a signal that the owner was a member of the “reality based community” not a believer is magic, superstition or, of course, a religion. The Left insisted they were the sober minded realists, rooting their opinions in facts and reason. Their opponents were basing their opinion in fear and the irrational belief in nonsense, like tradition and religion.
In reality, the owner of that Volvo was signally a rejection of the very idea of objective or transcendent truth. That is, after all, what religion offers. It is a set of transcendent truths that define the reality of mankind. The point of a religious text, like the Christian Bible, is to have an objective set of rules that are not up to the whims of a cleric or a religious institution. Scripture is God’s rule book and not up to debate by man. The rejection of religion, is the rejection of such an objective set of truths.
Fast forward to the current year and the Left has moved on from rejecting religion and the reality of religion, onto the rejection of science. Genetics and evolution are nature’s rule book. If you prefer, they are the rule book of nature’s god. This biological reality is not only the framework of life, but puts hard limits on human organization. The rejection of science is the rejection of the possibility of reliable knowledge about the natural world and the nature of man. The guy in the sundress calling ximself “they” is the embodiment of this rejection of knowable truth and factual reality.
Of course, the practical benefit of a world unbound from facts and reasons is that the actors in such a world are unbound from the limits of reason. It is the ultimate freedom, as everything is possible and everything can be justified. It’s also why the Left insists their opponents demonstrate that their objections match up with some set of arbitrary standards selected by the Left. If their opponents are bound to reality, while the Left is free to form whatever construct it needs, the outcome is certain.
Here, Z describes the end state of the centuries-long corrosive process which undermined the epistemological foundations of the West.

That process needs to be pointed out to people because it proceeded in stages--each seeming an end in itself, yet each inevitably precipitating the next.

For centuries the intellectual life of the West abided by the maxim, "Unity in what is necessary, liberty in what is disputed, and in all things charity." The bedrock of Christianity, informed by Scripture and unified by the Church's authority, preserved a coherent understanding of man and the world..

The first rupture was the Reformation, which severed Scripture from its unifying authority. The Reformers sought to uphold Scripture alone as the final spiritual authority, overlooking the fact that Scripture is not self-interpreting.

Now, the downward spiral into Clown World probably would have been avoided if no one had pushed the line further. But once the precedent for kicking out legs supporting the West's chair had been set, it wasn't long before somebody concluded that if you could do away with the Magisterium, you could do away with Scripture, too. Enter the Enlightenment, which upheld reason alone as the ultimate authority, albeit unmoored from the context and authority that gave it coherence.

From there, it was a short, quick step to throwing out reason.
There can be only one form of post-modernist rule. The rejection of founding truths, the axioms of the human condition, provides not justification for political power, social status or even a social order. The void of nihilism can only be filled by the will to power and the necessary application of force to attain power and impose order. The perpetual revolution of post-modernism, the endless questioning of objective reality, is the only way for radicalism to attain power and maintain it. The on-going insanity of the Left is the necessary precursor to perpetual Progressive rule.
The endless cultural revolution is like rats gnawing at the support ropes. If left unchecked, there can be only one result from such a process. The endpoint of this perpetual social revolution, the institutional skepticism of reality, is a world without any order at all, even that imposed by the strongest. Even the reality of fear falls away and we fall into a world where it is a war of all against all. In this regard, what the Left has become is war on the very nature of man and the reality that shapes him.
This is the logical endpoint of the Enlightenment. Post-modernism did not spring from nothing. It is the continuation of political philosophy starting with Rousseau, through Nietzsche and into the current age. Western liberalism was born of the irrational belief that man comes into the world as a blank slate and can be fashioned into anything through the proper social structures. Ever since, the goal of liberal political philosophy has been to build the right social structure to achieve universal equality.
Since the utopian goal of universal equality is impossible, it leaves only the equality of nihilistic chaos. A world without truth is a world where noting is false. This is the ultimate equality, where everything is opinion and all opinion is equally worthless. While the Left may seem irrational, they are acting on that old Enlightenment impulse to achieve universal equality. If we cannot be equal in the utopian paradise of our own making, we can be equal in the utter and compete destruction of society. After all, the one place where all men are equal is in the cemetery.
And now you know why the Left is a fanatical death cult. They crave universal equality, which requires universal murder.


For a chilling vision of a world where the post-modern managerial state triumphed and a small band of partisans struggle to restore a semblance of natural order, read my military thriller series Combat Frame XSeed.

The Indiegogo campaign for the third book is running right now. Get all three eBooks for the price of one, and choose from a host of other tantalizing perks, including paperbacks signed by the author!

Back the project now!

Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/28

Astounding Campbell Memory-Holing

Campbell Predator

In light of the World Con voters circling the wagons to snub my readers in 2016, this announcement from the editor of Analog is as amusing as it is predictable.

H/t P. Alexander
Named for Campbell, whose writing and role as editor of Astounding Science Fiction (later renamed Analog Science Fiction and Fact) made him hugely influential in laying the groundwork for both the Golden Age of Science Fiction and beyond, the award has over the years recognized such nominees as George R.R. Martin, Bruce Sterling, Carl Sagan, and Lois McMaster Bujold, as well as award winners like Ted Chiang, Nalo Hopkinson, and John Scalzi.
However, Campbell’s provocative editorials and opinions on race, slavery, and other matters often reflected positions that went beyond just the mores of his time and are today at odds with modern values, including those held by the award’s many nominees, winners, and supporters.
As we move into Analog’s 90th anniversary year, our goal is to keep the award as vital and distinguished as ever, so after much consideration, we have decided to change the award’s name to The Astounding Award for Best New Writer.
Congratulations to Analog for coming up with a more concise and even lamer award name than the Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. Then again, that award was created because Burns accidentally emasculated someone. The Astounding Award specifically recognizes emasculation.

Let the SF SJWs spin all the narratives they want. Campbell's legacy is rightly dead--killed by his own genre-destroying progeny. The award that used to bear his name no longer exists. Having the CHORFs give me the dirt shoulder only to burn down their own award while my career proceeds from strength to strength feels ... astounding!

Speaking of which, the Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming campaign is trouncing both its predecessors thanks to your support! The novel and the CY 20 short story are both funded, and we've unveiled our next stretch goal: Series 3 combat frame trading cards!

Second Coming 221%

Get your hands on these awesome rewards and more! Back the campaign, claim your sweet perks, and get us to our new $3000 goal!

That reminds me: Here's the poll to pick our next run of trading cards. Pick four of the following CFs and post your choices in the comments.

CF-017K
CF-017K Kurfürst

YCF-00 Type 0

XCD-100
XCD-100

BC-06CFGM Guardian
BC-06CFGM Guardian Ground Type

AZX-001 Heavy Armor X
AZX-001 Heavy Armor X

AZY-001-1 Heavy Armor Y
AZY-002 Heavy Armor Y

AZZ-003 Heavy Armor Z
AZZ-003 Heavy Armor Z

AZC-104 Grand Dolph
AZC-104 Grand Dolph

Harvester
Harvester

XCDS-00M0 XSeed Metatron
XCDS-00M0 XSeed Metatron
Don't forget to vote and back the campaign!

2019/08/27

Combat Frame Data: YCF-00

YCF-00 Combat Frame Type 0

YCF-00 Combat Frame Type 0

Technical Data

Model number: YCF-00
Code name: Combat Frame Type 0
Nickname: Type Zero
Classification: prototype combat frame
Manufacturer: Seed Corporation
Operator: Systems Overterrestrial Coalition
First deployment: CY -6
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 17.5 meters
Weight: dry weight 50 metric tons, full weight 70 metric tons
Armor type: carbyne-laced titanium alloy with anti-laser mirror finish
Powerplant: x2 cold fusion reactor, max output 611 KW each
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 2x 98,811 kg thrust each, top speed 2160 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 17, 180° turn time 0.90 seconds; legs: top ground speed 195 kph
Sensors:  radar, thermal, optical array; targeting laser and main camera mounted behind visor in head
Fixed armaments: grenade launcher, mounted in chest, holds 6 flash/EMP grenades
Hand armaments: ramjet rifle, 12 smart rounds per magazine; carbyne zweihander, liquid-fueled, stored on back sword rack

General Notes

Soon after HALO's guerrilla war against the SOC escalated to devastating combat frame attacks, Malov Strauss deemed the Coalition's standard Guardian CFs incapable of defeating the separatists' next-generation XSeed units. The relentless lawman spearheaded a worldwide search for combat frames capable of confronting the XSeed menace.

While combing through the old Seed Corp archives, independent CF engineer Brent Burnard made a surprising discovery. According to combat data from the Kazoku War, Sieg Friedlander's CF-01-1 combat frame test type possessed fighting capabilities in the XSeeds' league. The Type 1 had long since been lost, but Burnard unearthed an even more incredible secret: Tesla Browning's original combat frame prototype still resided on Earth. The engineer immediately ordered the YCF-00 shipped from storage in Chicago to the Brussels Air Base.

In terms of mechanical specifications, the Type 0 is nearly identical to its immediate successor, the Type 1. Both early CFs feature powerful thrusters fed by twin external drum generators. Both carry the standard weapons load out of a ramjet smart rifle, a chest-mounted EMP grenade launcher, and a rocket-assisted zweihander. The only visible difference lies in their armor. While both units are silver in color, the Type 0's armor has been polished to a mirror shine. This touch appears purely cosmetic but is in fact a defense measure designed to prevent target locks on the Type 0 with laser-guided weapons.

This rather flashy design feature would have grave consequences for Malov and Simon Trent when the SOC Customs Director first piloted the Type 0 against Trent's XCD-101 Ezekiel.

Second Coming 130 percent

The Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming campaign is going full steam ahead on Indiegogo! On day one, our awesome backers funded the novel and unlocked our first stretch goal--a new XSeed short story chronicling Zane Dellister's last adventure. Every backer is guaranteed a FREE copy of this as-yet untold story when we reach 200% funding.

Don't forget: Every perk tier includes digital editions of the whole XSeed series thus far, so new readers can get in on the ground floor for the price of a single eBook!

But the sweetest rewards are the silver and gold-tier perks. Advertise your book, be a character--fiery death optional--in mine, and build your own custom combat frame! Four of these prestige perks have already been claimed, so get yours while supplies last!

Help Combat Frame XSeed grow. Tell a Gundam, Robotech, or Battletech fan in your life about the novel series that's revolutionizing mech action!

2019/08/26

XSeed Book 3 On Indiegogo

Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming - Brian Niemeier

The highly anticipated crowdfunding event is here! The third action-packed book in my hit mecha thriller series, Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming, is now live on Indiegogo.

It's Not Over
Genius or madman? Monster or savior?

HALO mastermind Arthur Wake is missing in action. His fragile grounder alliance shatters under the Coalition’s counterattack.

Desperate to recoup their losses, the Coalition turns to a young combat frame pilot with a grudge against HALO. Brutal false flag attacks soon jeopardize Hainan Island’s hard-won independence.

Sullia Zend uses the fray on Earth as cover for her secret agenda. But can even the Sentinel manage a ruthless lawman, her own estranged sister, and a HALO defector on the eve of a cataclysmic reckoning eons in the making?

The cliff hanger ending of Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 left readers clamoring for more. It's my pleasure to announce that you'll not only get a resolution to the CY 40 arc which answers this epic series' most burning questions, you'll get the book before its official launch by backing the campaign.

I put a lot of time and effort into coming up with perks for this campaign. Our third outing sees the return of perennial favorites like the Be in a Book, Be Killed in a Book, and Build-a-Mech reward tiers. I've also added all-new perks I'm sure you'll find exciting!

And to eliminate the barrier to entry for first-time backers who may not have read the first two books in the series, every perk tier includes a digital copy of all three XSeed novels.

Secure your early bird edition of XSeed book 3. Choose from a growing selection of awesome perks, and help save science fiction. Back Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming now!


AZX-001-1
A foretaste of what's to come.
UPDATE: You guys are amazing! We're already over 65% funded. Since the first stretch goal will be unlocked any time now, I'll go ahead and reveal what's in store.

2nd Coming 65%

Traditionally we've made a new run of trading cards the first stretch goal, but by reader demand, this time we're doing something different. As I mentioned in the comments, this campaign's first stretch goal will be a brand-new short story that bridges the gap between "CY 2 Gaiden" and Coalition Year 40. The story will reveal how the XCD-100 wound up in a desert in Western China. You'll also learn the final fate of crazy-ass spaceman Zane Dellister.

Unlike the trading cards, which go up as perks when they're unlocked, as soon as we hit $2000, every backer will be guaranteed a copy of the new CY 20 short. No additional perk necessary!

We're within striking distance of the initial funding goal, so let's make a push to get the novel funded and unlock the first stretch goal today!

UPDATE 2: That was fast! I'm pleased to announce that Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming has fully funded in less than one day!

Second Coming 102%

We're just getting warmed up. Our first stretch goal, an all-new XSeed short story chronicling Zane Dellister's last adventure, is no unlocked!

Back the campaign, get us to $2,000, and guarantee every backer a copy of the short!

2019/08/23

CY40 Second Coming Teaser

Good things come in small packages, and my readers will find some big news in this brief post. The highly anticipated Indiegogo campaign for my third "Gundam meets Tom Clancy" book, Combat Frame XSeed: Cy 40 Second Coming, goes live in a matter of days!

To tide you over till then, here's the official teaser trailer, courtesy of my new video producer VideoAnon. Folks have said my book trailers keep getting better, but V.A. took this one to the next level. Enjoy!


Subscribers to Nova Frontier, the official Combat Frame XSeed newsletter, got exclusive access to the teaser's world premiere. They'll get first crack at the sweet new Indiegogo perks I've cooked up, too.

The only way to subscribe is through the link at the back of the CFXS and CY 40 eBooks. Subscribe now, and get your free short story, "Combat Frame XSeed: CY 2 Gaiden"!

And if you haven't yet, read the first book!

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/22

Something Was Watching

Tree Alien

From time I like to take a break from chronicling Western civilization's collapse and share a story that reminds us there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in presidential politics. Contra the experts on campus and cable news, our understanding of the world is far from complete.

I had a friend in college who grew up in the next town over. Though I might not call him a skeptic, he kept a level head and was always more enamored of natural phenomena than abstract conjecture. His life's dream was to be an astronomer, and he didn't usually go in for the Art Bell stuff.

Except for this one time.

Late one night--it must have been sometime around the turn of the millennium--we were driving in his truck along a lonely road cutting through a narrow river valley between moonlit bluffs on our right and a dark strip of woods on our left. Picture the scene from Stand by Me where Wesley and co. are standing on the train tracks and facing the river, and you'll have a pretty good idea of the terrain. Now picture it in the small hours with the moon riding high.

We were heading to his folks' place, chatting about the sorts of ephemera that occupied much of our time back then: anime, D&D, imported Saturn games, when he threw me a major curve ball. Pursuant to nothing in the conversation thus far, he sprang the following story on me.

My friend had grown up in one of those odd neighborhoods you find beyond the outskirts of medium-sized Midwestern towns. It was past the suburbs but not quite out in the country, a ten-minute drive from civilization along that two-lane river road. That may not seem remote, but if you'd been in the car that night, and my friend had dropped you off on the roadside, you could've looked in every direction and not seen an electric light burning.

Years before, this was the early 90s, my friend had been spending the night at a classmate's house on one of the first weekends of the school year. They were in junior high at the time, when my friend's classmate had lived a block from the house we were driving toward. As preteen boys of the era did, they'd amused themselves with Nintendo games and comic books well into the evening before repairing to the living room for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live.

They'd found the man of the house already ensconced in his worn recliner in front of the TV. My friend's buddy's dad hailed from the ranks of blue collar Boomers pulling down six figures in today's money at a local factory long since closed. You may have met the type: fond of trucker hats, always had dirty hands, but there was a five-year-old Corvette in the garage. He worked long hours in hot, noisy conditions and had a generally low tolerance for youthful exuberance. He seemed to have it in for my friend in particular, so both boys had sat quietly on the earth-tone-plaid-sofa-with-afghan that they'd issued every homeowner in the 80s.

My friend had been sitting at the end of the sofa nearest the big picture window--as far from his buddy's old man as possible. He told me he didn't remember why or exactly when, but at some point during a commercial he'd glanced out that window.

The flicker of the console TV and the dim glow of the old man's stand lamp had been the only light sources, mitigating the mirror effect of looking through a window in a lighted room at night. Only the moon, filtered through clouds and obstructed by tree limbs, had lit the sleeping landscape. My friend hadn't been able to see the white strip of gravel road fronting the yard. He'd barely been able to make out the trunk of the old tree standing right in front of the house.

But thanks to the backlit clouds, he'd seen the shape hunched on the branch twelve feet from him.

The house was a split-level job like all the others on the street, so the living room window was a good ten feet above grade--right in line with the lowest tree branch. My sober, analytical friend insisted that something had been perched on that branch that night. Circumstances hadn't allowed him a good look at it, but he said it was dark and about the size of a toddler with a weird hunched posture. The arms had seemed unnaturally long compared to the other body proportions. But what really made an impression on my friend was the thing's face. Even though it had been turned to one side, he'd seen that its eyes and mouth emitted bright neon green light.

Fear had wrestled with curiosity in my friend's head, and curiosity had won. He'd kept staring at the self-luminous goblin until, with shocking suddenness, it had turned and stared back.

My friend remembered nothing of his interaction with the anomalous entity from that point forward except for its blazing green eyes and mouth, the latter of which gaped wide as if screaming. Yet he recalled no sound emerging; only terrible green light.

He next recalled dimly hearing his buddy's dad growl, "What the hell is your spaz of a friend looking at?" His buddy had shaken him, and when he'd turned back to the room, Kevin Nealon was wrapping up Weekend Update. The whole encounter had seemed to last only a few seconds, but he estimated he must've been locking eyes with the thing for almost ten minutes.

My friend recounted how he'd dreaded looking back out that window, but as befit a delver into nature's secrets, he had indeed looked again. There'd been nothing; only shrouded moonlight seeping through tangled branches.

The boys had called it a night after that. As my friend had lain on plaid cushions under an ugly afghan that late Saturday night in the early 90s, his buddy had asked him what he'd seen.

"Nothing," my friend had said. "I just spaced out."

He said he hadn't confided that story to anyone until he told me those years later.

The rest of the drive passed uneventfully, though I couldn't help glancing at the tree line every couple of minutes. We passed the rest of the night discussing our course loads, swapping anecdotes about the anime con we'd attended a couple weeks before, and rummaging through my friend's vintage Transformers collection.

That night passed into day, and the days ran into years. Somewhere along the way, my friend sank into the rainbow-hued heart of Clown World, his dreams and potential unfulfilled. We still exchange the odd text now and then.

Like everyone in the last few generations, my friend grew up being told anything was possible if he applied himself, only to be sabotaged by a rapidly degrading society, a system that couldn't care less, and an elder generation unable to grasp the largely hidden opposition he was up against. You could make the case he ended up where he did because of the bad hand he was dealt. Then again, most people reading this were at the same table with the same dealer.

If you hung out with our crowd back in those days when the plans laid against us quietly passed the point of no return, you'd have liked my friend. But you'd probably have noticed a subtle distance, as if he was never fully there, even if the two of you were in the midst of a rousing conversation about Warhammer 40K.

I started wondering that night. Sometimes I still do.


The Indiegogo campaign for my third thrilling Combat Frame XSeed novel launches soon! If you haven't gotten in on the series that's revolutionizing mecha yet, now's the time!

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/21

Serious Internet Business

Serious Internet Business

The curious intersection of the publishing business and the Internet has forced authors to moonlight as social media mavens. This is true regardless of whether you self-publish and predates oldpub's collapse.

Since every author is now a serious internet businessman, how to build a social media following has joined nuts & bolts craft tips in the standard writer shop talk repertoire. Every "how to write" book now has a chapter on running a Facebook author page, and every Millennial YA author with a slick self-hosted WordPress site is now a blogging guru. It comes with the territory.

This phenomenon is by no means exclusive to writers. Some of the hijinks the top YouTubers get up to makes us look like teetotaling schoolmarms. People have been poking the hornets' nest for attention since the second caveman loped into the sunlight. Human nature doesn't change, so stirring up trouble remains a popular way to attract eyeballs.

This tactic's popularity makes a lot of sense. Ginning up eDrama is probably the fastest way to break out on the web. If you're good at raising controversy online, you can rapidly build a following--provided you've got the creative chops to back up the talk.

For the rash and the inquisitive, here's how the basic play works. Find a scene in or adjacent to your thing and get involved. Human social dynamics being what they are, conflict will inevitably arise; either within the group or with a rival out group. Start throwing bricks at the other guy's window. Whoever throws hardest, farthest, and with the pithiest notes tied to his brick wins. Repeat when the next outrage comes along. It really, really works!

Don't take that explanation as too ringing an endorsement, because like all shortcuts, stoking eDrama comes at a price. We need look no further than the aforementioned YouTubers for object lessons.

A curious phenomenon from last year--an eternity ago in Internet time--was the Internet Bloodsports fad. You had a clique of popular YouTubers who'd go on each other's streams and spend hours talking trash to one another. It was like a much cruder round table Friars Club roast every day.

What makes the IBS scene more remarkable than your garden variety internet smack talk sessions is that a handful of participants actually amassed major followings and minor fortunes.

But that was, in a quite literal sense, so last year. Look around now, and almost all of the old IBS stars have suffered precipitous falls from grace.

Probably the best example is Matt Jarbo, who actually rose to prominence during #GamerGate as Mundane Matt. He gets points for honest branding. His most remarkable achievement was gaining a large audience for what amounted to rather banal movie reviews.

But the internet gods exacted a heavy toll on Matt. One year ago, he was publicly caught snitching on his IBS rivals to the YouTube police. Now his subscriber count is in the gutter, and he's selling rocks and driving for Uber to pay the mortgage.

More recently, former Twitch streamer Paul Denino, who goes by the handle Ice Poseidon, got raided by the FBI and saw his following implode.

This spring, once-rising star Andy Warski landed himself in serious legal trouble when one of his co-hosts brandished a handgun on a public Florida street.

The spectacular series of career suicides prompted internet gossip monger Mister Metokur to aptly note that eDrama peddling has a limited shelf life. If you live by the sword, you'll die by the sword; probably within a couple of years.

It's the Old West gunfighter's dilemma. Everybody wants to be the fastest gun in the West, but attaining the title means walking around with a target on your back.

There's a lesson here for content creators of all kinds, including authors. Back in the Sad Puppies days, I enjoyed mixing it up with the cretins over at File 七百七十 as much as the next guy. I got record traffic every time I tweaked Scalzi's nose, for example.

Eventually I noticed a pattern. A good portion of the followers I gained from eDrama left when I got tired of it and moved on to more important topics. They weren't reliable book buyers, either.

That's the eDrama trap. The followers you attract with it aren't there for your art. They're addicted to drama. Like all addicts, they need ever higher doses to get the same buzz. Trying to supply their fix becomes a Sisyphean ordeal, only the boulder keeps getting bigger as you strive to push the envelope further and further. In the end, the rock either crushes you or becomes too heavy to roll.

In either case when you can't give them their fix, the drama junkies abandon you for those who will. It's as old as Lady Gaga eclipsing Madonna and Marilyn Manson.

Your grandfather was right after all. Slow and steady wins the race. Build your following by consistently offering people intrinsically valuable content. Conduct yourself with integrity and professionalism.

You may not get a hundred thousand subscribers or a million monthly page views. But if you can draw and maintain an audience of two thousand solid readers who'll show up for every launch, and you release $25 worth of merchandise a year, they'll give you a decent living.

Which reminds me, the Indiegogo campaign in support of the third volume in my thrilling mecha series Combat Frame XSeed launches soon! If you haven't read book one yet, now's the time to catch up.

Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/20

Disney Cooks the Books

Disney Simpsons

The record revenues reported by Disney this quarter may be as much of a fiction as than the entertainment product coming out of the megacorp's studios.

According to a former Disney accountant, the company has been illegally inflating its revenues for years.
A former Walt Disney Co. accountant says she has filed a series of whistleblower tips with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company has materially overstated revenue for years.
Sandra Kuba, formerly a senior financial analyst in Disney’s revenue-operations department who worked for the company for 18 years, alleges that employees working in the parks-and-resorts business segment systematically overstated revenue by billions of dollars by exploiting weaknesses in the company’s accounting software.
Kuba said she has met with officials from the SEC on several occasions to discuss the allegations.
Emphasis mine. If the SEC met with Kuba multiple times, it's a good bet she's not just a crank filing nuisance complaints. Factor in the Trump administration's stated interest in investigating Big Tech firms for violations of antitrust law, and the odds look better that the feds suspect there's fire behind all the smoke Disney's blowing.
Kuba’s whistleblower filings, which have been reviewed by MarketWatch, outline several ways employees allegedly boosted revenue, including recording fictitious revenue for complimentary golf rounds or for free guest promotions. Another alleged action Kuba described in her SEC filing involved recording revenue for $500 gift cards at their face value even when guests paid a discounted rate of $395.
Kuba has also alleged that employees sometimes recorded revenue twice for gift cards, both when guests bought the gift card and when it was used at a resort. Sometimes, revenue was recorded even though a gift card was given to a guest for free following a customer complaint, for instance, according to the whistleblower’s allegations.
Kuba’s filing alleges that flaws in the accounting software made the manipulation difficult to trace, though the consequences could be significant. In just one financial year, 2008-09, Disney’s annual revenue could have been overstated by as much as $6 billion, Kuba’s whistleblower filing alleges. The parks-and-resorts business segment reported total revenue of $10.6 billion in 2009, according to its annual report filed with the SEC.
For those keeping score at home, that's a 56% overstatement of Disney's revenue. Let's cut Disney some slack and assume for the sake of argument that Kuba's numbers are exaggerated. She still exposes a pattern of deceptive behavior surrounding Disney's finances.

It's a good bet these underhanded practices are still going on. If that's the case, who knows what Disney's revenues really are?

Sure, the Mouse looks invincible now, but people forget that a company's fortunes can turn on a dime. It's easy to forget that Disney suffered a run of bad luck at the box office back in the early 80s that had the studio on the ropes.

And remember, Disney's troubled ESPN network has been hemorrhaging money. Their new theme park attraction, whose name was lifted from a superior IP, is a dud. Compounding these woes, some of Disney's most iconic and profitable characters are about to enter the public domain barring a change in copyright law.

Could the Mouse that Roared turn out to be a paper tiger? Best not to leave it to chance. As always, don't give money to people who hate you. Voting with your wallet may be more effective than we thought.

For a more in-depth take, check out this video that's been making the rounds:


Surpassed Galaxy's Edge for visceral milsf action

Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/19

Combat Frame Data: AZC-104


AZC-104 Grand Dolph
  
AZC-104 Grand Dolph

Technical Data

Model number: AZC-104
Code name: Grand Dolph
Nickname: Dolph
Classification: mass production, anti-armor combat frame
Manufacturer: Burnard Industries/Zeklov-Astraea
Operator: Systems Overterrestrial Coalition
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19.2 meters, 21 meters with antenna
Weight: Dry weight 48 metric tons, full weight 60 metric tons
Armor type: titanium alloy/palladium glass/ceramic composite
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 1866 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 32,000 kg, 4x 21,750 kg; top speed 2728 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 20, 180° turn time 0.88 seconds; legs: top ground speed 200 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted behind visor in head
Fixed armaments: Plasma sword, power rated at 0.47 MW, stored in recharge rack on back, hand-carried in use
Hand armaments: Grand Dolph machine rifle, loads 70mm graphene-coated tungsten rounds, 100 shots per magazine

General Notes

At the outbreak of the HALO Conflict in early CY 40, the Coalition found itself utterly outmatched by the partisan group's four XSeed-class combat frames. Coalition Customs Agent Malov Strauss quickly determined that the SOC's peacetime Guardian CFs were incapable of defeating the XSeeds.

Malov made an end run around his ossified superiors and approached independent CF engineer Brent Burnard about designing an XSeed killer. Burnard combed through all available records--including Seed Corp and CDF databases--for a design meeting Malov's requirements. While he deemed the original combat frame Type 0 capable of going toe-to-toe with a One-Series XSeed, the fact that only one existed made a new run of mass-produced CFs necessary.

Burnard looked back to the underutilized Dolph series of Coalition CFs for inspiration. He immediately began scouring the earth for leftover Dolph units. Burnard's purpose was twofold: supply Malov with stopgap units superior to the woefully outclassed Guardians and mine their engagements against the XSeeds for valuable combat data.

Unknown to Malov, Transportation Minister Sullia Zend noticed Burnard snooping around the old Zeklov Corporation files. Quickly deducing his intentions, she spearheaded her own escalation of the arms race sparked by the XSeeds.

Though Zeklov-Astraea's far larger workforce and budget allowed them to rush three Dolph-based prototypes into production, Burnard worked more meticulously on Earth. When Malov returned from his skirmish against HALO and Wehrbund Bavaria in Southeast Asia, Burnard presented him with the fruit of his labors: the first production run of Grand Dolphs.

Burnard chose the Grand Dolph name not as a boast, but as a statement of fact. He purposefully engineered the new mass production CFs as the final word in the weapon design conversation Tesla Browning had started four decades earlier. After multiple rounds of exhaustive tests, Malov declared he had found his XSeed killer.

The Grand Dolph proved itself far more than a single-use specialty tool. Contrary to the Astraea Heavy Team's "More is more," philosophy, Burnard resolved to boost each and every component of his new CF as close to perfection as possible within a limited budget. The result was a mass production unit that approached custom combat frame performance at a reasonable cost. So impressed was Zend with Malov and Burnard's work that she chose the Grand Dolph as the MoT's standard CF over her own in-house teams' designs.

At first glance, the Grand Dolph seems like a slightly tweaked throwback to Coalition CFs of the Kazou War era. A look under the hood reveals myriad stunning advances that many say make the Grand Dolph the best mass production combat frame ever made.

Burnard returned to the tried-and-true Dolph concept of forgoing all integrated weapons. This design choice gave the Grand Dolph a tremendous savings in energy consumption and weight. He fine-tuned its mechanical actuators, maneuvering thrusters, and sensors, favoring software upgrades over new hardware to save on per-unit costs. The base Grand Dolph also received across-the-board improvements in armor, speed, and maneuverability that added up to a an impressively durable, fast, and responsive CF.

The Grand Dolph's standard armament reflected its intended role as an XSeed killer. The centerpiece of its weapons system was an advanced machine gun purpose-built to fire specially designed graphene-coated caseless slugs with solid tungsten cores. Though smaller than the old Grenzmark rifle's 115mm rounds, the Grand Dolph rifle discharged its ammunition at much higher muzzle velocities and rates of fire, resulting in greater impact force. The tungsten rounds' greater density and graphene coating were specifically designed to penetrate carbyne. Even the XSeeds' laminar armor could be breached with two or three hits to the same location. Unlike more complex and costly energy-based solutions, the Grand Dolph's tungsten-carbyne rounds proved even more effective against conventional armor, with results approaching and sometimes even surpassing the damage wrought by plasma weapons.

For all of its enhanced performance, the Grand Dolph remained just economical enough to warrant deployment as a front line combat frame. Even the CDF buckled after initial resistance and began fielding Grand Dolphs in limited numbers to supplement their obsolete Guardian forces. Since the Grand Dolph operated equally well in space and on land, there was no need to purchase and supply environment-specific variants. The Grand Dolph's limited introduction into the CDF's forces set off a fierce competition among Coalition pilots for assignments to the coveted new CFs.

The Grand Dolph's one drawback was a limitation which plagued its original forebear. Like the CF-014 Ein Dolph's early plasma rifle, the Grand Dolph's machine gun carried limited ammunition. Burnard managed to pack 100 caseless tungsten-carbyne rounds into each relatively compact magazine, but the weapon's high rate of fire meant a careless pilot could quickly exhaust his ammo.

To head off this problem, Burnard added a supplemental sensor pack to the weapon itself. The additional fire control module resembled an old style scope and gave the Grand Dolph rifle unheard-of accuracy for a fully automatic weapon. Besides improving accuracy to reduce wasted shots, Burnard equipped the Grand Dolph with a high-powered plasma sword stored on a charging rack on the unit's back. Because it remained energy weapon compatible, the Grand Dolph could also wield the standard plasma rifle developed for the military Guardian, giving it a second weapon option and the ability to procure additional firepower on-site from fallen comrades.

The Grand Dolph made its mark as a force to be reckoned with on its first official deployment. A number of Grand Dolph teams set an ambush for HALO aboard the Browning Corp satellite. The XSeeds Eisenpferd and Eschaton took the bait, and were set to rout, barely escaping after taking heavy damage. Even devil-may-care pilot Faust Hayden warned his HALO comrades to respect the Grand Dolphs' abilities.


surpasses Galaxy's Edge for visceral milsf action


Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/16

Witch Test Still Inerrant

Meanwhile, on Twitter ...

Grime Knight

Once you understand the heretical creed of the Death Cult and learn to recognize their ritual cant and other verbal tics, knowing when to apply the Witch Test is easy. The strictures of their code do the rest. As members of an anti-Christian secular religion, death cultists can no more profess faith in Jesus Christ on the record than a devout Hindu can slaughter a sacred cow.

If you're wondering what Grime Knight's tweet refers to, here's the context. Members of a horror review group called Sci-fi & Scary tried to give author Jon DelArroz the dirt shoulder.

Their submission guidelines include this tidbit:

unbiased reviews

One of Sci-Fi & Scary's members defended this admittedly biased policy and prefaced her defense by claiming to be Christian. Ring any bells?

This not being my first rodeo, I discerned a duty to examine the scene for witches.

Nico Bell

Nico Bell 2

Result: a hodgepodge of squishy therapeutic deism with no mention of the Name of Jesus.

Correction: There were two results:

Sci-Fi & Scary Block

Now, to get newcomers up to speed, am I necessarily suspect everyone I give the Witch Test to of practicing the Black Arts? No.

Do I think it likely that they're more or less beholden to a Christ-hating death cult that's subject to demonic influence. Most certainly.

And lest anyone is tempted to chime in with, "They're biased against all religions equally, so it's OK," please rein in your urge to white knight for people who hate you.
  • Anti-Christian prejudice is evil.
  • Western horror is derived directly from the Catholic folklore tradition.
  • If you think they'd reject a story by a Muslim, I've got some oceanfront property in Chad to sell you.
Don't support people who hate you.

Support creators who strive to entertain you while devoting their God-given talents to the glory of God.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/15

What Can't Go On, Won't

If This Goes On - Heinlein

A reader makes a number of keen observations and poses a series of timely questions on the our current civilizational crisis.
Let's start with givens:1) Our side needs to avoid supporting those who hate us.2) Our side needs to fund those on our side who are trying to rebuild/recapture Christendom.3) Our side is very divided/atomized and very demoralized.4) Our side is too comfortable and addicted.5) Our side has been intellectually compromised through brainwashing, lies, propaganda and con-artistry.6) Our enemy is well coordinated, has penetrated every institution and has nearly captured every institution.7) The fact that they have done this without eating their own indicates Satan's hand in the matter.8) The underlying war is spiritual. The arenas are cultural, socio-economic, political, generational and religious.
And our proposed or acted upon solutions have been:1) Support independent creators in the publishing field.2) Support Vox Day on various projects.3) Support Mike Cernovich on two documentaries.4) Vocally support alternates to social media but never manage to pull the plug and move away from controlled territory (not sure it would be beneficial anyway in regards to doing counter-prop)5) Complain on social media, blog posts, blog comments about the satanists. Waste most of our time and energy debating about our complaints with the traitors/moderates in our camp.6) Still doing our independent thing.7) Purity spiraling and disavowals on the good on our side, and failing to eject the clear entryists on our side.8) No real leadership. What has risen have been cons or oppositionally-funded gatekeepers. 9) Only proposals made have been to support independent groups - nicely divided and not united - and to sit on our hands. Or you know, build your own internet service provider or payment processor. Keep complaining to those who refuse to listen. And prayer, which is very good but I don't know what that looks like or how well it is being heeded in our atomized Christianity where a Solemn Mass and a Hillsong Concert are considered equivalent Sunday worship to God Almighty.
Items 4 and 5 deserve particular attention. I maintain that pulling the plug and completely disconnecting from all converged platforms would indeed be counterproductive, if only because it's clearly what the enemy wants. See Facebook's 24-hour ban on Larry Correia.

Social media got Trump elected in 2016. Whether or not he acknowledges this fact, his enemies certainly do. Withdrawing from social media entirely would cede our only means of reaching a mass audience.

Regarding the fifth columnists LARPing among our ranks, wolves in sheep's clothing are even more dangerous than the enemy. Quislings like Ben Shapiro, Charlie Kirk, and Will Chamberlain are paralyzing effective resistance to the globohomopedo elite with a big song and dance about how the real threat is socialism. It's imperative to stop listening to these saboteurs.
So where do we go from here? We can't keep this up, it will only be a slowing action as the wrench continues to tighten in one direction. And while we can pray for deliverance or for the chastisement, sitting around does not give God much to work with. There's no forum to have serious discussions on actually fighting the culture war. There's no leader who has the capacity to do it and wants to also do it. No unified, clear vision to unite behind. 
Lots of Spaniards probably got antsy during the planning phase of the Reconquista. The whole project ended up taking almost 800 years.

It's always far easier to destroy than to create, and the enemy spent at least a century undermining the West's foundations. The mess will not be cleaned up quickly--possibly not in your lifetime.

The reader is still operating under the assumption that the people reading this--and the millions of other like-minded folks out there--just need the right organizational structure, the right plan, and the right leader to rise up and cast down the Death Cult in a final, climactic battle. Ain't gonna happen.

First, God is the Lord of History. His will is sovereign. Our job was to glorify Him in such fashion and according to such gifts as God decreed. Instead we've spent at least the last 300 years royally fucking up.

God's standard response when a people turn their backs on Him is extensively documented in Scripture. He lets their enemies rise up against them, takes away the Kingdom, and gives it to someone else who'll be faithful.

Understand that with the legalization and celebration of infanticide, sodomy masquerading as marriage, and the sexual warping and exploitation of children, that outcome can no longer be averted.

We can always shorten the duration and severity of the chastisement, since God always offers mercy, but we need to get our collective act together first.

That is the true utility of prayer. It's not, "Please, Lord, make the H1Bs and Guatemalans go away so I can afford to binge Netflix in my McMansion." It's, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! Grant me increase in humility, patience, perseverance, and strength that I may grow in virtue and direct my every action to Your glory!"

If even a tithe of virtuous, masculine men remained in the West, we would not be facing disaster, degeneration, and war. To know the problem's cause is to know the solution.
I can build the forum. I can propose ideas. But these are skill sets I currently don't possess. Is that all I can do? Pray, build, hope good people show up to help the effort rather than a bunch of gammas come in and muck the place up? I plan to enter both local parish/diocesan politics and local secular politics once we can settle, but that's still a few years away. I have a hard time watching our side just take it and spin. What efforts are done are vanity projects usually, a way to make a living, and less about mission.
It's enough. Most of us probably aren't going to be fighting boldly in actual combat for the ashes of our fathers and the temples of our gods. Thinking otherwise is pride.

Much more beneficial, and much harder, is to live humbly for God and our families.
What's your take? What is the next step in trying to actually get our side to unite, to coordinate, to build plans and new platforms/institutions and then make them happen? To build communities, to develop systemic war strategies against Leviathan, and try to find end runs around things like the Mark of the Beast before it happens?
My next, and ongoing step, is to daily put myself to death, take up my cross, and follow Him who showed the Way before me. Imagine if we all did the same.
God bless, and may our Lady, on this Solemnity of Her Ascension/Dormition, watch over you and protect you.
Thank you for your thoughtful questions. May Our Lord bless your through the irresistable intercession of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces.


P.S. Prayer may be contemplative, but it brings the spiritual water that nourishes active fruits. I fully intend to stay at my work in the vineyard. Here's a sample.

Nethereal - Brian Niemeier

2019/08/14

Facebook Bans Larry Correia

Krasnov - Larry Correia

Exhibit #4,837,997 in the mounting pile of evidence that we are ruled by inbred idiots: Facebook placed best selling author Larry Correia under  a 24-hour ban for hate speech against an imaginary country.
So I just got a 24 hour ban from Facebook for Violating Community Standards, because I insulted the imaginary people of an imaginary country.  Which is kinda hilarious.
Long version. About a year ago an author friend of mine was putting up snippets of his alternative history story, in which the fictional country (Neu Saxony) experienced a terrorist attack.  One guy thought it was real, and a whole bunch of us ended up having fun arguing on behalf of our made up countries about who was really responsible.  It was pretty funny.
I ,of course, came to the aid of noble Krasnovia, a nation of peaceful sandwich makers, who were being falsely accused of these heinous crimes.  (We were obviously framed)
So a year later the memory reminder thing on FB is bringing this back up. Another friend of mine created this post:
Remember your brothers killed by Krasnovians.#OnlyGoodKrasnovianIsADeadKrasnovian
Interesting timing, considering Larry has just been nominated for a Dragon Award.

Whether that's a coincidence or not, we all knew Facebook's censorship wouldn't stop with political pundits like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and James Allsup.

Anyone who expresses an opinion the Death Cult deems heretical will be condemned to soft exile. Higher profile heretics like Larry will be targeted next, but they'll be getting around to you far sooner than most suspect.

Just wait until Facebook launches its own cryptocurrency. If you doubt Zuckerberg wants Libra to become the official scrip for the global company store he and his elite friends are rapidly turning the world into, you're not paying attention.

Getting the government to allow Libra will be akin to letting the camel get its nose in the tent. Once that threshold is crossed, FB's fun money will go from allowed to preferred to required.

And not just on Facebook itself. You think FB, Amazon, Google, and Apple aren't salivating over the prospect of a currency they control?

It may not end up being Libra, but ZuckBucks are at least the prototype for a medium of exchange that you'll have to use if you want to do business with Big Tech. Not coincidentally, they're also seeing to it that Big Tech are the only companies anyone can do business with.

This Libra rant may seem like a tangent, but hear me out.

Let's imagine the following conditions are in place.

  • Big Tech develops a cryptocurrency over which the government has no oversight.
  • The entire tech oligopoly and its cronies require that all transactions take place in said currency.
  • Big Tech's monopoly is so ubiquitous that there are no practical alternatives.
Now imagine you're doing a fun bit of harmless RP with your Facebook friends in this dark cyberpunk future, and the joke flies over the head of one of FB's subcontinental serfs.

You won't just get a 24-hour ban like Larry. If only you were that lucky! You'll lose access to your money until our rootless cosmopolitan overlords decide you've learned your lesson.

"OK, I'll just go back to USD." Better get a wheelbarrow for pile of dollars you'll need to buy that toilet paper. If Congress gives Facebook an inch, it won't be long until the relative value of Libra and the dollar resembles the current relationship between the dollar and the Venezuelan bolivar.

That's if you can even get paid in US dollars. New Zealand just made it legal for companies to pay their employees' salaries in crypto. What is allowed soon becomes mandatory. Don't hand me any "muh slipper slope!" canards, either. It's called basic pattern recognition.

I look forward to the impromptu Bible discussion on Revelation 13:17 in the comments.

For a stark vision of a future ruled by technocrats run amok plunged into war by regular folks who've had enough, read my hit martial thriller Combat Frame XSeed!


Combat Frame XSeed - Brian Niemeier

UPDATE: Facebook has now banned Larry for three more days.

Facebook Larry Correia ban 2