Addressing Some 3D Printing Concerns

I recently tried to respond to a comment on this post by Tangible Day, but once again, there is a glitch in the Matrix.  The comment in question is the first one on the post, made by Sandra McCall, and the response I tried to post is as follows:

If by “creator,” you are referring to the actual person who came up with the design, and not a corporation that holds the intellectual property, then I agree completely. Then again, I make a lot of 3D models of Soviet tanks, and both the Soviet Union and Nikolai Shashmurin are long dead, so what am I worried about?

On that note, I’ve actually SOLD .stl files to people who want to print large numbers of my own models, since it’s a lot cheaper for them than to buy the prints from me. I think companies such as Games Workshop should do something similar, making it possible to more easily customise miniatures (think Hero Forge). Standard patterns for the likes of the Imperium or Eldar wouldn’t benefit too much from this, but Chaos and Ork miniatures could be, effectively, randomised in a program, and then the customer could buy the files and print them at home. As long as there is no option to buy the 3D model files, people are either going to make their own or steal them in order to avoid the cost of buying physical models.

On the other hand, I know a Chaos player who would say that such an option would take all the fun out of making custom Chaos miniatures, gluing spikes and using all manner of rubber and texture paints on models, but to each his own.

I am not a fan of copyright law, largely because it protects corporations more than individuals (thanks, Disney).  Recently, I had a request to make the Chrysler K GF, an experimental heavy tank developed for the US Army in 1945.  The reason I bring this up is the same reason that I brought up the Soviet Union and Nikolai Shashmurin specifically.  Shashmurin was a noted Soviet tank designer, and the designs of Objects 901 and 260 are both his.  Were he still alive, would I have to pay him royalties to make miniature models of those tanks?  If some Soviet government agency held the patent (machinery is covered under patent law, not copyright), does that mean all intellectual property is moot, since the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore?  The laws are very different in different countries, after all, and some countries have absolutely no protection for inventors or artists.  Now, back to Chrysler.  Since Chrysler still exists, does that mean I have to pay them royalties for the K GF tank?  What about the original designer, whose name I don’t know, and probably never even held the patent?  Since patents expire after 17 years, the answer is no.  However, copyright doesn’t expire until 100 years after the copyright holder’s death.  Again, thanks Disney, for lobbying to increase the time limit five times since Walt’s death.  See why I’m not a fan of copyright law?  Much like insurance, labour unions, or public schools, the intent behind copyright law was benevolent, but has since become corrupted.

Miniatures are expensive, and called “plastic crack” for a reason.  Getting 3D model files and printing your own is much cheaper, and everyone knows that.  This is why I was able to sell a printable file for a set of 1/300 scale 18th century frigate masts for $50.  I charge $25 per hour, though some people tell me that I should charge $100 for design work, and even if I charged $200 for the mast set file, it would still have been cheaper for my customer than buying 30 sets of printed masts from me.  I know I’m repeating myself, but if companies don’t offer this cheaper option, then people are going to copy (re-make from scratch) or steal (hack and/or download illegally) the 3D model files, and either use them for themselves or sell them to others and make lots of friends that way.  Much like outlawing alcoholic beverages, draconian copyright laws and greedy corporate practises make for a nation of lawbreakers.  The answer is NOT “respect copyright law,” the answer is “copyright holders need to change their behaviour.”  Now, since I deal with a lot of stupid people on the internet, I apparently need to point out that I’m not defending theft.  I’m pointing out that if you don’t want to be stolen from, then don’t make your products too expensive to buy, or otherwise difficult to obtain.

This is all just my own opinion, of course.  I’m not rigid when it comes to the ethics or legality of my choices.  If you want to know what I mean, read Crime and Punishment by Fëdor Dostoyevskiy for a particularly extreme example of “flexible ethics.”  What some people don’t seem to grasp is that certain artists are more protective of their work than others, and certain creations are more precious to those artists than others.  For instance, if someone were to take a clip of one of my BitChute videos because I uttered some particularly humourous line, without even contacting me about it, either before or after, I don’t think I’d care.  However, if someone were to buy a whole bunch of my sailing ships, most of which are based on historical designs but not copies of any actual ship, then create their own board game and not credit me with designing the models, I’d be rather annoyed (though I probably wouldn’t do anything as long as I’m making money off it).  As it is, I don’t think I was ever properly credited for the miniature ships used as game pieces in The Pirate Republic, but since that was years ago, when I had no name for myself, didn’t really know what I was doing, and extremely busy with a day job that I don’t have anymore, I don’t care.  I had exactly one sailing ship in my shop when the creator of that game contacted me, and it wasn’t even that good.  In fact, some of the sailing ships I currently sell are designs that I submitted for the game, but were rejected, such as my popular Man-of-War.  Now, were someone to do what I just mentioned with a ship of my own design, especially one that I’m particularly proud of, such as the Zaphnora, I’d be absolutely livid, and that person could expect to meet me in court (I am my own lawyer).  The point of all this is “ask first, this is not an instance in which forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission.”  This is yet another reason that I don’t like large corporations holding the intellectual property of individual artists: if you ask a corporation for permission to use something of theirs, they will not respond, because you are not worth their time.  In most cases, you’re probably safe doing whatever you want anyway, because said corporation either won’t notice, won’t care, or won’t consider any legal action to be worth the time and money, as in the cases of Christian retailers copying well-known brands.  On the other hand, if you steal from me, I’ll definitely notice, I just won’t care in a lot of cases.  The fact that I’m a cheap date when it comes to my prices ought to tell you how much I care about profit.

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Crowdfunding a New Shop

As much as I’d like to buy a a brand-new ultra-high-resolution 3D printer and begin making wargaming miniatures in-house tomorrow, the Form 3 doesn’t ship until July.  Therefore, I have plenty of time to set up a new website for selling miniatures, perhaps an Etsy shop for selling jewellery, and maybe time for getting a few extra dollars for the machine itself.  I have other projects I’m involved in at the moment, but most of those are progressing quite quickly toward completion, such as the pond or the fire pit.  The latest batch of tanks should also be finished in the next month or two, and then after that, I will probably expand my shop to include drone parts as well, since I have some experiments I would like to conduct in order to be able to build working models of my steampunk airships.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

If you would like to help to fund the Form 3, please visit my SubscribeStar page.  If you choose to donate, you’ll get perks and discounts based on how much money you send me.  I don’t have any rewards set in stone, as it were, because I offer such a wide variety of products already, and the idea is “donate now, get your money back later in the form of a equal-value product of your choosing.”  The other reward, which isn’t listed owing to how slippery it is, is a reduced design rate.  Here’s a quandary I’m currently in: I have no idea how much to charge for CAD-only work.  I don’t currently charge anything for designing a new product, based on the fact that I want whoever requests it to want to buy the product when it’s done.  If I charged for design work, then anyone who makes a request would have to pay a tremendous amount for it, but any other customer wouldn’t have to.  For example, it takes me roughly 4 hours to render a historical tank accurately, and if I charged every person who requested a new design for that time, everyone who ever requested a new tank would have to pay $100 to see it, but everyone else could buy it for less than $10 (for 1/285 scale, which is, by far, my most popular).  That’s not fair to my customers, so I don’t charge for design work unless it’s design-ONLY work.  I did recently lose a couple of nights’ sleep after I was told that I severely under-charge for design-only work; I charge $25 per hour, but I’m told I should charge $100.  Really?  If I had a name for myself, or too much work to do, then I might agree.  Let me know what you think.

I would also like some input on how I should organise my new website.  Personally, I like the way Shapeways is currently organised, such that entire sections of similar products are visible at once.  However, there are multiple ways to organise an online shop, and there is probably a better way to organise a shop full of miniatures.  My database format is probably the best method for people who know exactly what they want.  However, for those who just want to browse, there are probably better options.

Should I Open an Etsy Shop?

Short answer: yes.  Why did I bring this up?  Well, enough Shapeways shop owners were already using Etsy to sell their products (including one of my customers), but then Etsy changed their policy to squeeze out non-partner manufacturers, of which Shapeways was not one – until today.

I’m not sure what I’m going to sell through Etsy, but I’m thinking about selling jewellery there, and making yet another website to sell wargaming miniatures.  After the debacle that was the price increase to $7.50 per component with fine detail plastic, which is what my 1/285 scale model tanks are made out of, I’ve decided that I’m going to buy an ultra-high-resolution 3D printer and make them myself.  I had previously been checking out benchtop SLS machines, which are now down to a mere $5000, compared to $18000 (Stratasys) for a hi-res polyjet machine.  I know, that’s expensive compared to a home-built FDM machine, for which you can get a kit for as little as $200.  Well, that’s business, follow the opportunities, not your desires.

I will be posting updates to Steemit when I have something to share.  As of this post, I’ve taken pictures of the facility where the new 3D printer will be housed.  Moving forward, once I have the machine (and post my first unboxing video), I will start taking orders for 1/285 scale model tanks through SubscribeStar.  I’ve already sent out a group message on Shapeways to my five biggest tank buyers (I had to limit it simply because I can’t send a message to more than five people at a time through their messaging system), so if that’s why you’re here, keep reading, because I have other plans that you may be interested in.

When Shapeways first started with jewellery, the only option was sterling silver.  Brass and bronze were added shortly after I opened my shop, followed by gold, platinum, and a multitude of different plating options, though not all at once.  Eventually, they started adding chains as well, so that you need not take a product to a jeweller to get a chain.  However, since I make pins, I had to improvise.  I have one design with pins integrated, but it still needs pin backs, and pins ought to be made of drawn wire, not cast.  Fortunately, I know a fabulously skilled custom jeweller named Tim Jones, whom I list on the Cooperative Artisans’ Guild site, so he takes care of all my finishing needs.  Hopefully, I will have a gallery of his work up on the site in a few weeks.  As for me, if I start a jewellery shop on Etsy, then I will be selling finished products, not unfinished castings from Shapeways.

I’m debating whether or not I should include wargaming miniatures in my Etsy shop, or if I should still make my own website for that.  Certainly, when I came up with the idea, I didn’t expect Shapeways to open up other e-commerce options two days later.  Of course, there’s nothing preventing me from opening TWO Etsy shops, is there?  What should I call them?  Miniatures, of course, are still going to be sold under the banner of “Kaja’s Models and Machinations,” just as they are on Shapeways, but I have no clue what name I would sell a strange collection of alto clefs and chaos stars under.

I was hoping to have a baseline price including Formlabs as well, but circumstances have delayed that, and I will not wait.  The show MUST go on.  Вперёд, мои товарищи! (forth, my comrades!)!

Random Thoughts, Collection 7: Hypocracy, Heresy, and Hope

No, I did not misspell “hypocrisy,” I simply combined it with the suffix “cracy” to indicate a system of control, such as bureaucracy, technocracy, or plutocracy.  Therefore, “hypocracy” is “rule by hypocrites.”  I expect it to pop up in Urban Dictionary in a year or two, and the regular dictionary sometime next century.  Basically, this is a single term for the phrase “do as I say, not as I do.”  I’ll discuss some instances of it in a bit, some of which apply to my own life, while the others apply to the world at large.

My life feels like a gaslight fantasy by proxy at the moment.  I’m not actually referring to a type of fiction literature at the moment, but instead to the process of “gaslighting,” and for this reason, I actually prefer to call the type of fiction as gaslamp fantasy.  Some would classify it as a subset of steampunk that includes magical elements.  A lot of Final Fantasy games fit into this category, as does my own work.  My own work fits into the category of dieselpunk as well.  Anyway, gaslighting.  I haven’t been able to think straight for years, barring my occasional moments of clarity.  It is for this reason that I’m so unproductive.  I have twelve different tank models to make, and I have been stuck on the first for about two weeks now.  I want to make a tutorial video for the turret, but I keep putting it off because I can’t sit still, and my mind is elsewhere.  I’ve mentioned that I can’t control what ideas pop into my head, so I’m all over the place.  Distractions do not help, which is why I’d love to be able to simply shut myself up in a cabin in the middle of Siberia until I get some work done.  The biggest distraction by far is my mentally ill mother, a subject I have never mentioned before, but I need advice, and no-one I know IRL has either time or interest to help me, leaving me alone with this massive hindrance to my very existence.

I hate my mother.  An awful thing to say, I know, but arrogance and hypocrisy are the two things I despise the most, and she has buckets of both to offer.  She is so opinionated that she genuinely believes that her opinions are more valid than anyone else’s, and has actually admitted this.  I once mentioned that she hates the colour orange so much that she believes it doesn’t have a right to exist, and will go on twenty-minute tirades whenever the topic is brought up.  Now, either this is genetic, since she claims that her entire family suffers from classic sociopathy, and all have this pathological need to be right all the time, or she’s projecting her faults on to others.  I largely ignored it until she turned her projection on to me.  Apparently, I’ve never done anything with my life.  I’ve never gone to a real school, whatever the hell that means, even though I have an AAS, BS, and I’m currently looking at master’s programs.  I need to get my “union card,” according to her – wait, I thought a BS was the union card.  I’ve never held a real job, either, even though I used to be an inspector at a company that made aircraft parts, I worked nine or more hours every day, plus a half-day on Saturdays (though not every Saturday), and I made decent money.  I’m not a real engineer, either, something that she has told me since the day I earned my BS in manufacturing engineering, and I demanded she tell me what a real engineer is every single time.  I finally got an answer yesterday – a “real” engineer is a mechanical engineer.  All other types of engineers, evidently, have no right to call themselves engineers.  Congrats, Aishwarya, if you’re reading this, yours is the only real type of engineering.  The rest of us are self-aggrandising incompetent idlers who cause more problems than we solve.  I’ve told her “putting me down may be your way of motivating me, but it doesn’t work.  I gave up trying to prove you wrong years ago, because nothing I’ve done has ever been good enough for you.  I have no reason to achieve anything in life, because you are the only person around to give me any validation, and instead, you turn your nose up at everything I’ve ever done, zasranka.”  By the way, this was before I started my work online, and I’ve gotten more support from the internet in the past six years than I have from my own mother for my entire life.  So, to all of you who have helped me keep using my skills and begin building an online business while my own family actively hinders my every effort, thank you.

My mother never concedes anything that she thinks is meaningful.  Every “flaw” she is willing to acknowledge in herself, she seems to think is either unimportant, or a virtue.  Apparently, she believes that she has the right to speak her mind, and that she has the right to interrupt others to get her point across, but also has the right to not be interrupted.  She’s loud and obnoxious to begin with, and whenever someone tries to interrupt her, she just talks louder and louder until someone, inevitably, loses the shouting match.  She gets extremely bitter when it’s her, because it’s rare someone can (and wants to) out-shout her.  No-one can get a word in edgewise (yes, that really is a word), and she wonders why she has no friends.  Consequently, this is why I have no friends IRL (but plenty online, and we’ll see how many I still have left after this post), and she’s never met most of my father’s friends.  By the way, funny story: many years ago, shortly after I was adopted, my father introduced one of his female colleagues to us.  After that, whenever she called the house, she would immediately hang up if my mother answered the phone.  My mother concluded that they were having an affair.  I, however, don’t play social games, so I just outright asked one day if that was true in front of everyone.  The response was as I suspected: “no, I just don’t like talking to your mother.  She’s very rude.”  There was a bit more, but I won’t repeat it here, and even though I haven’t mentioned anyone by name, if any of those parties involved ever read this, they know who they are.

Well, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, it’s time to talk about government hypocracy, and why I think climate science is completely pointless.  Did you know that the largest polluter in the “civilised” world, and possibly the entire world, is the U.S. military?  I was not one bit surprised when I found this out.  By the way, Bill Astore, in the unlikely event you didn’t already know that little tidbit, I’d like to know what your thoughts are.  Anyway, to continue, I hold the position that most “research” on climate change is total nonsense.  A lot of it is politically motivated, and funded by parties with a vested interest in maintaining the dominance of the fossil fuel industry, which the military relies on extensively.  This is one of those rare instances where there is far more junk science than real science, and real science will suffer (and has already) because of it.  Now, let me be clear: I am not, nor have I ever been, a denier of climate change.  However, I think that everything that Al Gore has done has been a detriment, rather than a benefit, to solving the problem.  In fact, everywhere I look, I see nothing but backfiring efforts with regard to solving the problems of pollution and anthroprogenic climate change.  For instance, California has some of the strictest controls when it comes to clean air, but the laws are so poorly written that when clouds of pollution waft over from China, the people unfortunate enough to live wherever the clouds end up get punished for dirty air that they are not even responsible for.  And you wonder why Californians are fleeing in droves to Texas.  Let’s just hope they don’t bring the mindset with them.  Then again, why should I care?  I don’t live in Texas, and I don’t want to, either.  I want to go back to Russia.  Anyway, climate change used to be a non-partisan issue in the United States, but partisan politics has become so nonsensical that whatever one side says, the other seems compelled to state the exact opposite in response, even if it is the complete denial of reality!  It’s even worse when both major parties decide to unilaterally oppose President Trump, as if nothing he does is ever good.  If he opposes restricting the First Amendment, the never-Trump-ers support its restriction.  Don’t believe me?  Just search Google for “Diane Feinstein journalism lisence,” and see what pops up.  Reactionary politics at its finest, folks!  Bad decisions all round.  So, we live in a world where private citizens are penalised for having cars that blow just a tad bit too much black smoke, while hydraulic fracturing operations are exempt from environmental regulations, and military vehicles are not subject to the same emissions standards as dirt-bikes.  I have a massive migraine distorting my vision, every keystroke seems as loud as a gunshot, and yet I think I can still see the farce for what it is.  Rule by hypocrites, folks!

As for science itself, it is built on heresy.  Science has neither required beliefs nor prohibited beliefs, and therefore it is the enemy of religion.  It is also the enemy of political correctness (PC), because PC makes certain ideas taboo.  Truth does not need PC to prop it up the way lies do.  The idea that racial differences are more than skin-deep is politically incorrect, for instance, and yet science has shown things such as: Asians have 15-20% longer digestive tracts than the rest of the world, owing to a rice-based agriculture; blacks are more susceptible to strokes than anyone else; Europeans have a much higher tolerance to milk sugars and proteins as adults, whereas other races lose this tolerance as children; Latin Americans are more likely to never grow third molars than any other race, etc.  By the way, don’t even get me started on intelligence or personality.  Different breeds of dogs are known to have certain personalities, so why not different ethnicities of humans?  If science demonstrates that something you don’t like is true, no amount of PC-indoctrination or moral grandstanding (a.k.a. virtue signalling) is going to change the fact.  Facts don’t care about your feelings, and I wish Ben Shapiro would live by his own damn quote.  However, in a world where politics seems more at the forefront of everyone’s minds than ever before, the truth gets drowned out.  When so much fake science is being used to prop up political positions and corporate empires, real science that disagrees may be lumped in with fake science, and the truth can be dismissed with a wave of the hand, because “that’s not evidence, that’s just a bunch of paper!”  Then again, why am I surprised that the world is going through yet another moral panic?  Fear makes money for the fearmongers.

I know that I’ve been extremely incoherent thus far, but there is hope.  Moral panics never last, because every single one has been built on lies.  The temperance movement that led to Prohibition was built on puritanical lies about alcohol causing debauchery and that all the world’s ills would be solved if only people did “good, honest work,” and didn’t drink, or smoke, or play games, or have fun at all.  No, boredom leads to problems, so banning fun is a good way to make monsters out of normal people.  There were the two Red Scares, though they were built on exaggerations and misdirection rather than faulty notions, and then there was my personal favourite, which ended around the time I moved to the U.S.  This was the Satanic Panic, during which Pokémon and Dungeons and Dragons were famously labelled as forms of demonic magick (a.k.a. sorcery).  I would argue that Warhammer should have been targeted as well, because descriptions of the chaotic pantheon cause goody two-shoes fundie dunces to break down in tears of blood, for it is far darker than the other two.  However, I suspect that the reason Warhammer wasn’t targeted was simply because it wasn’t as well known, and I’m glad that it wasn’t.  Then again, I honestly don’t know if it had even crossed the pond yet at the height of the Satanic Panic.  Now, what I’ve noticed about nearly all moral panics are religiously-motivated, i.e. the religious right is usually the one preaching about morality and that everything great about western civilisation is sinful and degrading to human character.  However, that’s no longer the case, because the PC crowd is mostly on the left these days, and openly denouncing religion as immoral.  “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” goes the old American colloquialism, and now the fearmongering is coming from both sides, with both the left and right, religious and atheist, demonstrating their sensitivities and irrationality.  Liberty and science are both under attack in the name of safety and morality, and if we as denizens of Earth give the moralists their way, we will get nothing and they will laugh all the way to the bank.  However, as I mentioned, moral panics never last, because humanity as a whole is much more compassionate, realistic, truth-seeking, and freedom-loving than the oppressive regimes that have ruled over them, past and present.  As modern politics continue their farcical devolution, they represent more and more radical fringes of society, and the more radical the fringe is, the more mainstream the objection.  This is ultimately what becomes of strictly reactionary politics, and one day, when one of them says that the sky is blue, and the other says “no, the sky is red, because you’re a liar,” then the world will stop spinning and fling everyone off this ride – figuratively, that is.  In fact, because he is the provocateur-in-chief, I’m genuinely surprised that Trump hasn’t done something quite this obvious yet (or maybe he has and I missed it, since I sometimes ignore what’s going on stateside to catch up on happenings across the pond, it wouldn’t be the first time) – all he has to do is say “believe me” either before or after a statement that is true, and we all agree is true, but since disagreeing with him is a reflex that some people seem to have, it will simply obliterate what little credibility they have left and finally drive them out of government (highly fanciful wishful thinking right here).  Maybe then, more intellectually valid criticisms, addressing Trump as a symptom, rather than the cause of America’s problems, will no longer be drowned out by the current deluge of “orange man bad” reactionary politics.  After all, spending your entire life lying loses you credibility.  Calling out another liar makes you a hypocrite.  Calling someone who tells the truth a liar makes you the mold on the bottom of the barrel, even if that person has told more lies than true statements.  In the words of Ross Perot, “nobody likes to be called a liar, but to be called a liar by Bill Clinton is a really unique experience.”

I’m done.  I have videos to make.

The Fight Between the Practical and the Ideal

My back is quite sore from working on my pond yesterday.  Not so much from lifting heavy rocks, but from simply being bent over.  I’m a natural back-bender, not a front-bender as most people are, but no-one seems to understand that.  All the yoga in the world has not helped me touch my toes, but I can bend myself in half the other way and view the world upside down.  I brought this up because the world is already upside down, as far as I’m concerned, and I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I am an artist, but I am trained as an engineer, so I think more like an engineer than an artist.  Specifically, I am a manufacturing engineer, so I think in terms of how to make products practical and systems efficient.  Bureaucracy is the enemy of efficiency, and the long-standing joke in the United States is that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must have been purposely designed to waste people’s time.  Well, maybe in your town, but where I live, a trip to the DMV is never very long because the area isn’t densely populated.  In fact, it takes me longer to get to the DMV than I’m usually there for.  If I had to guess, it’s because people who live in rural areas tend to be practical, and have not had their capacity to use their brains obliterated by big city noise.  Most of my neighbours are formally from New York City, so I didn’t just pull this conclusion out of thin air.

Cities are great for some things.  In fact, I’m taking a trip to Moscow at the end of the summer, and I plan on getting as much as I can out of it, though I highly doubt I’ll get the chance to visit the Kubinka Tank Museum or eat at the Turandot Restaurant – at least not this time.  That being said, I would never want to live in Moscow.  The outskirts of St. Petersburg are a different story, as is much of the city itself.  One reason I don’t like cities is because I need my space.  That’s purely my own personal preference.  However, the other reason I don’t like cities is because they are breeding grounds for ideologues.  Ideologues need not be extremists, but they usually act based on emotion, rather than reason.  I covered the emotional appeal of anarcho-communism in my previous opinion piece, and now I’m going to try to get to the root of the problem.  Bear with me, as I have a mind of metal and thus don’t understand people.

Everyone is an idealist as a child, and I was no exception.  However, when one learns just how the world works, those ideals tend to get shattered with the realisation that they can’t work.  This is why I’m no longer a communist.  Unfortunately, when I look around, all I see are people who don’t know how or why it can’t work, with one or two exceptions.  The typical urbanite has no idea what goes on beneath their feet to provide the life that they enjoy.  Modern infrastructure is extremely complicated, requires tremendous amounts of human and natural resources to construct and maintain, and someone has to pay for all of that.  People living in cities usually don’t need to worry about maintaining the building in which they live, the way that people who live in rural areas typically do.  Living in relative luxury allows one to forget – no, I’ll rephrase that.  Living in relative luxury allows one to indulge in one’s incurious ignorance.  Now, read that sentence again, but shift the stress on the word “ignorance” from the first to the second syllable.  Ignorance isn’t simply what one doesn’t know, it’s also what one doesn’t care about, what one ignores.  This lets people nurture ideals that are entirely inconsiderate to the system that perpetuates their existence, as if the ivory tower is held up entirely by songbirds – when the tower shakes after you drop a cat out the window, you have no-one to blame but yourself.  If that metaphor was a bit much, you may want to stop reading, because it’s only going to get worse.

Africa is a beacon for unrealistically compassionate idealistic adult children.  For some people, the highest calling is to flood the world with free drinking water.  I roll my eyes every time I see another dumb crowdfunding project for getting water out of thin air.  It’s such a lofty ideal that not even MIT, once upon a time, the most prestigious technical school on the planet, can refuse to work on re-inventing the dehumidifier on the basis of practicality.  “Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?!”  For others, the highest calling is to cure diseases, so that these people, who multiply like rabbits, aren’t also dying like flies at the same time.  India has the same story, only one chapter ahead.  The story goes like this: some third-world country is a horrible place to live, with famine, disease, and overcrowding.  There isn’t enough food, so the teary-eyed missionary gives them food.  Now, there are no longer people starving to death, and the overcrowding gets worse, and disease spreads faster.  The teary-eyed missionary gives them vaccines, so now people aren’t dying of disease anymore and the overcrowding gets worse, and now people are beating each other to death because there isn’t enough food.  At no point, however, are education and contraception considered as things to provide, because no-one wants to admit that the real problem is too many people.  Anyone who has ever tended to farm or lab animals knows that growing populations need to be culled before they become unmanageable and all die off at once from starvation and/or disease.  Now, if you think that I’m an advocate for genocide, then you must have a very low opinion of nature as well – roughly 99% of all species that have ever lived have gone extinct.  As George Carlin once pointed out, “we didn’t kill them all.”  Compassion is a great ideal, but it’s paradoxical in nature.

Sometimes, one must do cruel things in order to be kind.  Sometimes, one must be intolerant in order to promote tolerance.  Do we (i.e. humanity as a whole, not any specific group) not punish those who try to oppress people?  Do we not execute murderers?  Are either of these things moral?  Doing the right thing in order to maintain the “moral high ground” is a nice idea, but life’s choices are rarely so black-and-white.  Besides, you can be right – you can be dead right.  Is use of deadly force in the defense of oneself or others the right thing to do?  Which is worse, killing an attacker, or doing nothing and condemning yourself or others to death?  WHO CARES?!  Someone dies either way, and it’s your fault.  Nature doesn’t care about the moral high ground, otherwise there would be no predators.  Therefore, I would say that these moral questions are completely pointless.  Self-defense is practical: after all, if you let the attacker have his way, then you won’t be his only victim.  If you kill him, then he won’t victimise anyone else.  The moral high ground is irrelevant, and I hold the position that arguments on the subject are a waste of time.

The point of all this is that I’ve seen plenty of nice ideas thrown around, some of which appeal to me (like anarcho-communism), but I always have to stop and ask “let’s be practical, how would this be implemented?”  If there is no way of implementing an idea given the tools (and people) one has at their disposal, then the idea must be either discarded or revised.  With any system of government, in particular, then in practicality, the more people there are, the fewer liberties each can have in order for everyone to get along.  Living in a society with no laws is a nice idea, but in a crowded city, it doesn’t work.  If you enjoy liberty, go live in the middle of nowhere.  If you enjoy an orderly life of sophistication and luxury, go to the city.  The choice is yours.  I’ve already made mine.

Get Your Tiny Tanks Now, Before the Prices Double!

So, for those of you who don’t know, Shapeways recently changed its pricing algorithm due to increased cost of operation and a changing market.  Most models increased in price very slightly, but where it was most noticeable was in the miniature wargaming market.  For 28mm figures, and especially vehicles, it wasn’t so bad.  However, I noticed quite a change with my 1/1200 scale ancient war galleys.  Since the starting price for any single component, no matter how large, is $5.00, plus an additional dollar for dye and another for polishing, that means most of my tiny ships now start out at $7.00 – for a single ship!  This is nearly twice the price that they were before.  For the sprues of 25 ships, however, the increase in cost was the same in dollars, so when you’re already paying $50.00 for a sprue of 25 ships, an extra dollar doesn’t really matter.  However, the prices on my 1/285 (6mm) scale tanks didn’t change, because there was a glitch in the algorithm for that particular material, which Shapeways still hasn’t corrected.  The reason I know this is because they have been keeping their shop owners well-informed about pricing changes ever since one too many of us complained about the earlier lack of transparency.  Anyway, just to let you know what you’re in for:

Tiny tanks prices

See the problem?  No?  Here, I’ll highlight it for you:

Tiny tanks prices highlighted

I just uploaded the IS-2M today, and a single tank is almost TWICE the price of my most expensive tanks, none of which are pictured here, but go for $9.00 each (Objects 279 and 901 are nine-dollar tanks).  I also offer these in packages of one, two, or five, with the nine-dollar tanks going for $24.00 for a package of five.  The IS-2M, however, goes for a whopping $47.00 for a package of five, again almost TWICE the price.  My point is that this is what you’re in for once the new pricing algorithm is finally fixed and applied to existing models.  So, if you want any, get them now, and hope that the prices aren’t magically fixed as soon as you submit your order.

You know, I used to think that “wargaming is an expensive hobby” applied only to Warhammer 40,000.  That’s obviously not true anymore, if it ever was.

More Bad Ideas that Won’t Die: the Allure of Anarcho-Communism

I’ve gotten involved in quite a few arguments on BitChute with both libertarians and communists, and now, that seems to have spilled over to Steemit as well.  I’ve had my fair share of discussions here on WordPress also, which is why I’ve decided to now write a piece to make my position as clear as possible, and therefore I have something to direct people toward in case I get involved in another argument.

I love chaos – unironically.  When life is too orderly and predictable, it is boring.  For someone as organised and skilled at multitasking as I am, things have to really fall apart for me to not able to follow what’s going on.  Delicate balances never last, and when they come tumbling down, it makes for great entertainment.  Yes, I have a sick sense of humour, but that is my coping method for living in a world that can be so utterly infuriating most of the time.  I see politics as a complete farce, for instance, because it is all about people advancing their own careers, rather than promoting the well-being of anyone else, and principles can be swapped out at a moment’s notice if there is need for it.  It’s a collection of social games within a larger game, and since I don’t play social games, I think the whole thing is stupid.  This is the difference between a politician and a statesman – a politician concerns himself only with his own well-being, a statesman concerns himself with the well-being of the nation, regardless of his own desires.

Statesmen are extremely difficult to find in the 21st century.  Politics is far too lucrative to not attract the greedy.  So is law, and most politicians start off as lawyers.  There are only two current examples of statesmen that I can name, and while both are controversial figures, I can say without a doubt that the second name I list will draw much more ire than the first: Jacob Rees-Mogg and Vladimir Putin.  If you want to know why I make this claim, feel free to leave a comment, because I’m not going to get into that right now.

Some politicians, while not proper statesmen, are much more principled than the typical career politician, and stick to their ideals regardless how unpopular or ludicrous they are.  Case in point: Bernie Sanders, before he ran for president.  I used to think Bernie was a reasonable person (even though most of his ideas aren’t), but after seeing him on his campaign trail, I thought “did he have a stroke, or is he putting on an act?”  I’m not really sure what to think of him now, but my position on his ideals hasn’t changed, and the next paragraph begins the real meat of my argument.  There is also a certain bug-eyed, recently-elected young Congresswoman from New York who may also fit into the same category, but she hasn’t been in politics long enough for me to be able to tell.

Socialism is a cute idea (I used to like it myself), but it works only on very miniscule scale – like, you have two cows and you give one to your neighbour sort of scale.  It barely works for small European countries, it certainly doesn’t work for a country as large and diverse as Russia, and there is no way it could work in the United States.  For the purpose of this argument, I will be treating socialism and communism as the same thing, since they share the same fundamental problem: re-distribution of wealth.  Taking wealth away from the rich and giving to the poor certainly makes everyone equal – equally poor, because the poor always outnumber the rich by a very large margin.  A single millionaire in a country with a million beggars will result in a million people with only a single dollar to their name, and this is roughly the reality that socialists must face.  It may seem like justice, bringing the rich down to the level of the poor, but it doesn’t actually solve the problem of poverty.  Nothing is ever free – the money has to come from somewhere, unless you abolish money altogether.  I love the idea of abolishing money, to be honest, but let’s be practical: what do you replace it with?  I’m still trying to figure out how to make that work in my fictional society.  There has almost always been some form of currency used in any given human society at any given time.  Barter systems are not unheard of, but they don’t work on a large scale; while barter systems could, theoretically, be supported by complex computer algorithms using 21st century technology, I doubt it will ever become particularly widespread, instead limited to those who already use cryptocurrency on a regular basis.

Anarchism is also a cute idea, but just as the abolition of money is an enormous challenge, the abolition of government is impractical.  Part of the problem is mob rule, the very threat that the electoral college is designed to keep at bay.  If democracy is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner, then a system that gives a sheep thrice the voting power of a wolf is going to prove beneficial for everyone.  I used to be an electoral college abolitionist myself, seeing that California has entirely too much influence on US general elections.  However, upon learning that a perspective candidate need only campaign in the five largest cities in the country, two of which are in California, in order to win an election with a straight popular vote, I changed my position.  Californians can whine that someone living in Cheyenne has a thousand times the voting power of someone living in Los Angeles, but Wyoming still has only one measly electoral vote.  In a strict popular vote system, Wyomingites would have no voice at all.  Californians may not care what Wyomingites think, but that’s not the point.

Allow me to put this a different way: farmers tend to make up a very small percentage of the population, and, owing to the increasing industrialisation of agriculture, that percentage is constantly shrinking, especially since the population density of most cities continues to rise.  Cities need farmers to survive, otherwise everyone starves.  Perhaps then, it would be prudent to give the farmers just as much voting power, collectively speaking, as the urbanites, since national policies affect them both.  Suppose there was a measure put forth to change the method of paying for the roads: instead of paying a high petrol tax, people would have to pay a high tax on seeds.  Every single urbanite is going to vote for the seed tax, because they won’t have to pay it, right?  Wrong!  In response to the seed tax, farmers would have to raise the price of flour, and thus bakers would have to raise the price of bread.  Which would you rather have: cheap petrol and expensive bread, or cheap bread and expensive petrol?  There is no third option.  However, very few people consider those consequences.  Farmers certainly do, but if the urbanites outnumber them a thousand to one and they all live in a direct democracy with a straight popular vote, their voice will not be heard.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m defending the current system.  I’m not – it has serious problems, and if anything, the issue of skewed population density confounding public will has been exacerbated since the US was founded in the first place.  However, keeping the mindless, self-centred masses (who are finally starting to wake up, thankfully) placated is how politicians win elections (and knowing whose palms to grease is how they get the exposure to begin with).  Socialism is popular because sloth is popular.  Anarchism is popular because people don’t like to be told what to do.  However, there are consequences to these systems.  As long as money exists, nothing is free – someone has to pay for it, and quality usually suffers as a result, because you get what you pay for.  Furthermore, tearing down the current system requires putting something else in its place, which is why I warn against mob rule: that’s how the Soviet Union got started.

I Have Returned to Steemit

Well, I figured “five months is enough time,” right?  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post there on a regular basis; my goal is one post per day, even if it’s just a single picture.  So, check out my latest post there, if you’re interested, and I would suggest signing up and following me if you like looking at pictures.  My intent, since signing up for Steemit in the first place, was to post pictures, memes, and recipes there, and articles here on WordPress.

I will also be making regular updates on SubscribeStar, probably weekly, and hopefully I’ll be able to get something steady going before going back to school.  That’s right, I’m going for my master’s degree after all.  I’ve got nothing else for now.

Update on SubscribeStar

Well, here it is:

SubscribeStar preview

My page is still under review, and they might not like me using my nickname/BitChute channel name, but at least I know it’s visible!

I put some thought into different subscription tiers and rewards while lying in bed last night, and since I am a cheap date, the lowest will be $0.99 (if I can make one that low).  At that rate, it would take a year for a subscriber to earn one of my smaller model sailing ships, and 8-9 months to earn a 1:285 scale tank.  Then again, I’m considering making the rewards fully-painted models, which is not something you could get from Shapeways.  This is a very distant goal, since I suck at painting models, owing to lack of practise.  Besides, painting is half the fun of miniature wargaming!  However, there is another option: blueprints!  Allow me to explain.  Autodesk Inventor allows designers to create blueprints directly from 3D models.  Making blueprints in Inventor is SO much quicker than in AutoCAD, which is one of the reasons that I don’t use the latter at all anymore.  To give you an idea, here’s a screenshot of my Nova Dreadnought:

Nova Dreadnought drawing

There is a full colour option, but there is no sense turning it on when the model is almost completely black.  Anyway, this is a potential reward that makes much more sense to me than tiny tanks paid for over the course of a year.  Why?  A 1:10 000 scale model of a Nova Dreadnought is over a metre long and costs around $3000.  Of course, this is an extreme example – I can’t think of anyone who wants anything to do with this infernal contraption.  But tanks?  Historical wargamers might appreciate having a collection of drawings full of notes about the tanks they’re playing with, though such information is already easy to find online.  However, those who are interested in my fictional designs would be able to get information only from me.  While certainly not as popular, some of my more unusual designs have been purchased in the past.

This gives me yet another idea: while I still intend on writing a series of novels (see The Nine Empires), I’ve also thought about making some kind of tabletop game set in that world.  I briefly mentioned it in the post where I show off the flags, and I have a list of characters that are key to the story.  However, I keep putting off both of these projects, since I can’t simply shut myself up in a shack in the middle of Siberia and write my first book to get some money to prop up the rest of this enormous project.  Therefore, I have decided “wargame first, novels later.”  I could use SubscribeStar to fund this project, but until I figure out exactly how I want this game to work, its development cost is not going to be a goal.  In fact, I don’t have an initial goal at all, since what I need right now is time, seeing as I already have the tools I need to work on everything.  I won’t start begging for a specific amount of money until I need to buy something.

I don’t plan on focusing entirely on miniature wargaming.  After all, I have other items in my Shapeways shop as well, and I would like to get more heavily involved in the business of historical re-enactment (“cosplay for grown-ups”).  Accessories are first on the list, but I would like to eventually expand that to include complete costumes and even weapons (this is where the Cooperative Artisans’ Guild comes in).  I’ve already invited a Danish bladesmith to join (he follows me on both Shapeways and Steemit), and he said he’d think about it.  However, when I say “weapons,” I’m not talking about just swords, no no no, I also mean reproductions of arquebuses, muskets, and even cannons.  Hopefully I can do some more work with that site soon, since it’s currently stuck in limbo, for lack of a better phrase.

Right, that’s all I have for now!  Hopefully I can get rid of this migraine and finally make my 300th Shapeways model and the video tutorial that goes with it in the next day or two.  Then I can get started on something even bigger.

 

 

I’m on SubscribeStar!

I’ve decided to take the plunge into the crowdfunding market, and joined SubscribeStar.  I was going to do so earlier, but they had problems with payment processors, because everyone hates the Russians (SubscribeStar is a Russian company).  Actually, that’s not the only reason – it’s a long story, and anyone who watches Styxhexenhammer on either YouTube or BitChute probably knows the story.  MakerSupport was a similar story.  However, unlike MakerSupport, SubscribeStar persisted, and it’s been back up for a while now.

I’ll have an update in a day or two, after I finish polishing my page and writing my first post, so keep an eye out for that – I don’t want anyone seeing my page in its current state.  My 300th Shapeways product will probably be the forefront of this entire event, with another tutorial on BitChute, and the videos mirrored on SubscribeStar, if they are not too long.  Now, if only I could work without CONSTANT INTERRUPTIONS [glares at cat]…