How to Salvage a Ruined Meal, Method 2: Cheese it!

Cheese makes everything better – so does wine, but for different reasons.  Anyway, this post doesn’t quite conform to my intentions for this series, but as I mentioned in my last cooking post, my kitchen experiments have been far more successful than I expected.  To give you some background, I have had bad luck with eggs in the past.  I never successfully cooked a fried egg just the way I like until last week.  Prior to that, the only way I could cook eggs for myself and have them be edible was as an omelet – and even that success was tenuous. I tried making a cheese omelet with taco cheese, but that turned out to be too dry.  Smoked gouda is way too sweet when it’s been melted in a pan, and brie is too much of a risk: I love brie, but if I get even one hint of that rind, I’m ready to blow my lunch all over the table.  I find it unusual that I’m so sensitive to mold, seeing as I’m 25% French!  I eventually settled on a cheese omelet made with 3 eggs and a slice of American cheese broken up into sixteen smaller squares.

Today, however, I decided to kick it up a notch!  I have never cooked anything even remotely resembling a Spanish omelet before, but the vegetable garden is coming along nicely, and for the first time in my life, I have access to tomatoes that I’m actually willing to eat!  So, here’s what I started with:

IMG_0366

That picture might be a little small – I wish I could control the resolution on my bloody phone, but I can’t.  Contained within this bowl are:

  • 3 eggs (from my chickens)
  • 1 diced jalapeño pepper (from my garden)
  • 1/2 diced tomato (unknown variety, also from my garden)
  • 1/5 diced red onion (from the store)

To keep it from drying out (and also to add enough salt), I decided to add two slices of American cheese:

IMG_0367

I like to keep it on my plate until I’m ready for it, but I suppose dumping it all in the bowl and pouring it in the pan all at once could work as well.  Hopefully my audience is better at cooking than I am, and I’m just giving you ideas.

IMG_0368

Heat the pan on HIGH until the oil or butter (I use butter when cooking eggs, but oil for everything else) begins to bubble.  Pour the eggs in, then turn it down to MEDIUM and mix with the spatula until the eggs become gooey throughout.  Continue to cook on MEDIUM until the eggs themselves begin to bubble.  Then serve it up!  Hopefully, you’re better at getting it out of the pan than I am:

IMG_0369

Sadly, I always end up rolling it instead of folding it.  No matter, it still tasted good!  Still missing something though…

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The K Projects

This passage will most likely be the second half of Machinations of Crowns and Chains, chapter 3, “Adya Redmane.”  I have the first half of the chapter written, which introduces Adya Redmane as a character, and formally introduces the chuyinka to the reader.

“What have you got there?”  “My four great projects, all of which serve to supplant the finale to Veya’s Symphony of Destruction.”  Kaia seemed pleased with herself, a mood she was only ever in when she had just killed something.  “I have codenamed them ‘Kudza,’ ‘Klia,’ ‘Kavia,’ and ‘Kaira.'”  “Why,” Adya stared quizzically, “did you name them after the four great witches of Rhûnnish mythology?”  “Their purposes,” Kaia replied, “are analogous.  ‘Kudza’ has been underway since before I hatched, but I have unified its makings.”  She pointed to the left side of her collar.  “This symbol is my own creation, and I have ordered that all of the chuyinka arms dealers replace their own variations with this one.  Kudza was the subversive one, undermining kingdoms from within, seducing those with influence, even the kings themselves, into doing her bidding.  Some called her the embodiment of lust.”  “Klia was the plague-bearer,” Adya interrupted, “spreading pestilence and causing crops to fail, and the victims to eat each other as a result.  What have you got planned for that?”

Kaia slowly emptied her entire wine glass into her mouth before taking a deep breath to begin her explanation.  “Recall the plague that wiped out Skhara,” she began.  “It was not natural event, that we know.  I believe that it was a biological weapon that Veya created in order to cover our tracks.  One final wipe to erase all knowledge of the chuyinka from the minds of those who would stand in our way.”  “I’ve poured over Veya’s work since you brought me into all of this,” Adya whispered, “and I’ve yet to find anything of his claiming responsibility for involvement in the Great Blackwood Plague.”  “It’s out of character, to be sure,” Kaia acknowledged, “for Veya to do something and not write it down.  However, much has been lost from that time.  It is entirely possible that those scrolls exist deep within the archives of Derekáz, and simply haven’t been found.  The pieces all fit together.  I can think of no other who would have done such a thing aside from the Green-Eyed Raven, and we both know it wasn’t her.  Anyway, I seek to duplicate that event.  It killed everything within the Blackwood, plant and animal.  Would that not be perfect for de-populating an area and making the War a bit more interesting?”

Kaia frightened Adya, sometimes.  That was to be expected, seeing as she was a Blackwing, after all.  “I almost hesitate to ask what you have planned for ‘Project Kavia,'” he continued.  “Kavia, the destroyer, my favourite,” Kaia smirked.  “That is the name for all my lovely experimental weapons projects – guided missiles, superguns, energy weapons, all that stuff.  No need to go into more detail right now, most of the stuff is still in development, but the ideas are there.”  “What about Kaira, the witch who just wanted everyone to love her?”  Adya posited, “how are you going to turn that into a destructive force?”  “Easy,” Kaia replied, “Kaira wanted to make everyone love her, by any means necessary.  That included drugging, enchanting, and enslaving them.  The mammals have finally re-discovered genetics, Adya.  I suspect that, within our lifetimes, genetic engineering will once again become a well-established science, and we can take advantage of it.  I hope that we don’t have to, but I’m prepared for a long game.  We may be able, theoretically, to genetically engineer a perfect soldier to carry out our goals.  This one will function like a machine, but without the limitations of machine intelligence that we currently have to deal with.  Who knows, perhaps in future years we will have machines that can fill this role just as well, but I doubt it.  The organic brain has potential that I don’t see any machine ever being able to match – why else were we created in the first place?”

Adya was shocked.  Kaia always thought ten steps ahead, but this was unprecedented.  “You would have us re-create ourselves?!  How did that work out for the people who created our ancestors?!”  Kaia glared at him.  “I would never suggest repeating that mistake.  Yes, I said that we were a mistake, get over it.  Our creators gave us free will, a trait that I would find a way to erase before breeding an army.  In any event, Project Kaira is a last resort.  We have the black dwarves, who are quite happy to fight for us, but if any severe miscalculations are made, and our fight drags on once we enter the fray, our army will be depleted quickly.  We need a backup plan, in case the mammals ever catch on and realise who their true enemy is.”  “Wouldn’t your standardised IAMADA symbol give us all away?”  Adya raised an eyebrow.  “Perhaps,” Kaia said smugly, “but how many people are actually paying attention?  It will take away only enough attention to cause even more mistakes, not uproot our deep operation.”  “If we’re lucky,” Adya sneered.  “Yes, if we’re lucky.  We have little time and few resources, thanks to one short-sighted composer,” Kaia answered, “therefore, so much of the new plan hinges on luck.  I don’t like it anymore than you do, but Rua gave me shit to work with.  If I must build a shining new society on a fecal foundation, so be it.”

Kaia glared silently in Adya’s direction, possibly at his wine glass, possibly at the edge of the table right in front of him.  He could never tell, the way she lowered her head, such that half her irises were hidden under her eyelids, and with her head down anyway, her long, black lashes almost completely obscured her eyes.  Kaia always appeared to be either deep in thought or furious, usually both, and never anything else.  Adya, meanwhile, kept swirling the wine in his glass, unsure if he should end this conversation now, while Kaia was done talking, or if he should bring up the sore topic of their engagement.  Neither was happy about the match, yet neither could protest, since neither had a better option in mind.  Adya was completely apathetic, and Kaia once stated that it should be “Shchuya, or no-one.”  Shchuya was her brother, older by a year, and had rejected the idea based on the fact that their family was inbred enough.  Furthermore, a full year was a rather large age difference for chuyinka couples, in spite of their long lives.  Adya swirled the wine in his glass one last time before gulping it all down.  “Thanks for the update,” he said before departing, Kaia glaring at him the entire time.

Green is the Ugliest Colour

No, I don’t mean that literally – just ask my mother, who has such a seething hatred of orange that the mere mention of it will cause her to fly into a tirade about how she believes it doesn’t even have the right to exist.  And that’s what I don’t get – she likes yellow, but hates orange; I don’t particularly care for either colour, but I’ll take orange over yellow any day, and that makes her so mad.  Anyway, what has this to do with green?  Well, as I said, I don’t mean it literally.

Green is the colour of plants, but it is also the colour of disease, and none is more dangerous than envy.  Yes, I know, envy is not technically a disease, but given its effects on society, it may as well be.  Just as Agent Smith once tried to classify humans as a type of virus, I shall, for the purposes of this bit, treat envy as a disease, rather than a mere emotion.  Human society is infected with it at the highest levels.  In fact, from what I’ve seen, those in high places tend to be more envious than the people beneath them.  Don’t believe me?  Keep reading.

I used to work in a small machine shop, as anyone who’s been following me for a while probably knows.  While there was occasionally resentment toward the boss, who was quite wealthy from owning the business, none of the employees envied his position, as far as I know.  Small businesses don’t usually suffer from toxic corporate culture.  The latter is a mechanism of big business, and the mechanisms of big business don’t work too well when scaled down.  Likewise, the mechanisms of small businesses don’t work too well when scaled up.  Poor old Martin Rollison did the job of six people at least, and ended up working himself to death – literally.  I had been working in his shop for two and-a-half years when, one day, everyone was called in to a company meeting to be informed that the boss had died the night before.  That’s what happens when you keep the small business mindset, yet the company grows to a substantial size.

Now then, what happens when one entrepreneur makes it big?  Since I want to draw as many eyeballs as possible, I’m going to pick a controversial example: Michael Jackson.  Say what you will about Jackson, he knew how to entertain people and make obscene amounts of money doing it.  Enough money, in fact, to be worth more than Sony, and buy half the company in the process!  See where a bit of envy might come from?  One man was able to run a more profitable business than an entire corporation.  Oh, the unimaginative corporate cogs really hate it when some individual manages to beat them at their own game.  There’s another rather controversial man who has been getting the same treatment for the same basic reason.  Let’s leave the term “victim” at the door please, since we all know that unlike Jackson, this guy is still alive to defend himself, and has demonstrated multiple times exactly how capable he is of doing so.  Say his name together now, because we all know the mudslingers hate hearing it: Donald Trump.

Say what you will about Trump, he receives a lot of envy.  Not from ordinary people, certainly not.  If ordinary American citizens envied Trump, they never would have elected him.  Trump, much like Jackson, is a showman as much as a businessman.  This, by the way, is my reason for a quip I once made on Bracing Views about Trump being “as much an actor as a character,” or something to that effect.  I don’t remember what post I even made that comment on, and I’m too lazy to go look for it.  Anyway, again with the Jackson/Trump similarities, both are individuals who beat corporations at their own game.  Prior to becoming President of the United States (let me twist the knife some more, I know how much you hate it), Trump was, effectively, a one-man multinational corporation.  Ordinary multinational corporations hate that, because not one of the corporate cogs can possibly conceive of how a single person could do what normally takes thousands of brain-dead slaves in empty suits.

I am able to recognise envy toward people like Donald Trump and Michael Jackson, yet I never saw it toward Martin Rollison, largely because I have been on the receiving end of it myself.  People are afraid of me, and it’s not just because I’m Russian (the “scariest white people,” apparently).  It’s because I can do things they can’t.  And guess what?  I’m not alone.  The faceless corporations sustained by mindless drones are losing out to smaller entities, be they manufacturing companies (cottage industries are taking over, due to a greater demand for custom goods, I’ll have to write a separate article about that eventually), journalists, or even farms.  And oh, are they steamed about it, jumping up and down, waving their arms and screaming like spoiled children.  Yes, you read that correctly, I just called the legacy media and the DNC a bunch of crying babies.  And guess what?  Big tech firms aren’t much better.  This is why I’m not on Facebook or YouTube.  I at least use YouTube, but I avoid Facebook like the plague.  I have come up with a term for people like me, who prefer to use online platforms that most people don’t know about: alt-geek.  I’m an alt-geek!  Speaking of which, I’ve been playing around with animations (both 2D and 3D), so I might start making videos.  However, I won’t be using YouTube, but most likely BitChute, if I can’t get DTube to work.  Anyway, before I get too far off topic…

Some people enjoy competition.  Some don’t.  Among the latter, some simply avoid competition (like me), while others cheat.  To the cheaters, winning is more important than playing.  Donald Trump is one of those people who feels a need to always win, and everyone knows it.  Were this not the case, then the whole “he colluded with Russia and stole the election” narrative wouldn’t hold any water to begin with.  To some (myself included), it never did, but now there are so many holes in it that even democrats can see that it’s like a watering can made out of chicken wire.  See, there are sore losers, and then there are the Gregor Cleganes of the world (the guy who decapitated his own horse after losing a jousting match, remember?), who simply cannot let their betters enjoy a single moment of their victory.  Now then, where was I going with this?  My computer crashed and I had to re-write this paragraph (Windows 10 is the MOST UNRELIABLE OPERATING SYSTEM EVER), so I’m not entirely sure… oh, right!  You know the old saying, “a house divided against itself cannot stand?”  That quote, by the way, is usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but I’m fairly certain it’s far older, dating back, in one form or another, to ancient Greece.  I have my own version, which is much more specific to what I’ve been ranting about thus far: a house built upon foundations of greed and envy cannot stand.

I mentioned greed because, going along with the title of this post, green is the colour of money, at least in the United States, and greed is usually associated with money.  However, the greedy many times desire more than material wealth.  Some crave power.  I don’t understand people, and probably never will, but I’m usually able to use logic to craft some sort of explanation for odd human behaviour.  However, I still can’t wrap my head around the desire for power.  I can understand seeking power in order to achieve a greater goal, just as I seek money in order to support my expensive hobbies.  However, some people seem to want power for power’s sake.  Here’s something that I can’t say I see in Donald Trump: he seems to have a vision for his country, and becoming president was simply a means to an end.  You can disagree with his vision for the U.S. all you like, but at least he has one.  The DNC, on the other hand?  Do they even have a vision, an end goal?  If they do, they’re not telling anyone about it.  They’re running based on the platform of “we’re not Trump,” as if that’s a good reason to vote for them, specifically.  Your greed and envy are showing, democrats.  If the U.S. didn’t already have a green party, you’d be it.  But enough of my criticism of the democrats, because seeking power for power’s sake is not something that has ever been limited to one political party or system.  Authoritarians, after all, appear on both the left and right throughout history.  This is the part I don’t get, but I know it exists: some people crave power, and when they take away the rights (and lives) of others, it makes them feel powerful, it feeds their ego.  Why?  Is this the only way for them to derive enjoyment from life?  Are people who crave power for power’s sake (a.k.a. tyrants) or money for money’s sake (a.k.a. bankers) mentally ill?  Do they just need some regular dopamine injections to keep them from becoming a danger to society?

I should move on before I propose a society like Brave New World.  Keeping people passive is not the answer, because a society of sheep will be, inevitably, ruled by wolves.  No, I think the answer is to learn to recognise the envious and greedy, and simply not give them what they want.  This, by the way, is precisely why I never mentioned a certain failed presidential candidate by name: said failure doesn’t need any more attention.  Oh, they will try, just like spoiled children who want attention, and sometimes, we’ll have to give it to them, but when we have a choice, we really shouldn’t.  Envy and greed are diseases infecting society, and their cultivation should be discouraged at all levels.

So no, mother, orange is not the ugliest colour, green is.  Orange is the colour of fire (usually), of a cute American songbird, and a rather tasty fruit.  Green is the colour of money, of envy, of sickness.  Then again, I know I won’t change your mind.  I’m not even trying, since I know you’ll never read this.  This is just how I write.

Virtual Shipbuilding and Seascapes, Part 1

I’ve shown off my model ships in previous posts, but now I’m starting to take it to the next level.  Below is a picture of what I’m talking about:

Three ships dark water

I put this picture in a comment (which I use for corrections and afterthoughts) on a recent Steemit post.  There, you can see my methods for arriving at this night-time ocean background.  I have my Pallada-class and Borodino-class models standing in for comparable Alexandrian ships, which I haven’t even dreamed up yet, much less made.  When that happens, I’ll be able to create some (hopefully decent-looking) scenes of naval convoys, sieges, and battles from The Nine Empires.

There isn’t much to share here right now, but in the near future, I should be able to make more to show you.  I won’t have much in the way of additional ships (though my collection is fairly substantial to begin with), but I’ll be able to show off some backgrounds.  My tutorials and methods will be up on Steemit, while the results will be here on WordPress.

 

Maybe you Shouldn’t have Opened with that?

Some part of me is screaming that, since I just finished my first post on MakerSupport.  Well, the rest of me is not beating round the bush.  On my “custom work” page, I mention that I have a machine shop, but I haven’t used it in a long time.  Well, I also have access to a bigger building with better electric service (480V 3-phase), so I can run a very large lathe.  So, if you haven’t already checked out my MakerSupport profile, then here’s the deal: I want to add cannons to the list of things that I can make.  Yes, you read that correctly, cannons.  Weapons are as much a part of historical re-enactment as the costumes, but not too many groups have access to a fully-functional replica of an 18th-century field gun.  That’s where I come in!  I have the skills, just not a lathe that’s big enough for a full-size cannon barrel.  The rest of the cannon is no big deal, really, seeing as the carriage is made of wood.  I suppose I could make a 1/2-scale replica using my 13″x36″ South Bend lathe, but it wouldn’t be easy.

Almost immediately after posting that little announcement on MakerSupport, part of me regretted it.  After all, I might freak people out with my sinister intent!  No, that’s my mother talking.  She focuses on everything that could possibly go wrong, and it’s resulted in her living a secluded life in complete fear of the outside world.  I can’t do that, so forget the consequences!  I shall make my ambitions known.  See, I can design jewellery, and I can make costumes, but I know people who are better than I am at both those things.  No, I am the crazy Russian arms dealer (even though I have a Czech name)!  This will, of course, take some time, and many more artisans will likely join the Cooperative Artisans’ Guild long before I’m ready to truly expand my operation – not that there aren’t other things I can’t offer in the mean time.  After all, I know in my mind exactly how I want to proceed making the cannon barrels, but I would have to test the method in a smaller scale (but still as big as I can go) with my current equipment.  At the very least, it’s incentive for me to make the missing parts for my steady rest.

Exploring New Custom Work Opportunities

So, you know that project I was working on to create a network of independent craftspeople?  Well, I finally have something to show for it!  It’s the Cooperative Artisans’ Guild, and I now have a short list of suppliers on it.  Hopefully, I will be able to add a few more in the near future.  I’ve already invited another contributor onto the site at the editor level (said invitee already has a nice-looking website), and I hope to add other artisans at the contributor level at the very least.  This link will explain the difference between the various levels on a WordPress site.

I’ve already shared this project on Steemit, and by a happy coincidence, I’ve found another potential invitee, another steemit blogger who also follows me on Shapeways!  Small world, isn’t it?  What can I say, we makers need to stick together, because when we do, we can create anything!

My intent is to provide not only links to the websites of independent craftspeople, but also the ability to contact those craftspeople and get more than one involved for particularly complex projects that no single person has the capability of completing.  The example that I use is that two of the founding members both design jewellery (which I’ve been spelling wrong before today, apparently), but they have totally different capabilities.  Corinne is a computer artist who can design jewellery, but can’t make anything out of metal.  Tim, on the other hand, is an old-school jeweller who doesn’t even own a computer, but his skills are incredible.  A customer, could, therefore, ask Corinne to design a custom piece, have a large-scale prototype 3D-printed, and then ship the prototype off to Tim and have the piece handcrafted at the intended size.  This idea isn’t new, but originality isn’t my intent; rather, my intent is direct more business in the direction of these independent makers.  I think this is the direction that we’re headed in, and I don’t want the old ways to die out and leave a void in the market that no-one can fill.

Why Our Jobs Are Never Done

The purpose of this post is two-fold: first, it is an addendum to my last one, “A Scientific Explanation for the Persistence of Crusaders,” and second, it is a look into the future of both this blog and my work in general.

I used to work in Quality Assurance (QA), where continuous improvement (CI) is a big deal – a very big deal.  Kindly keep that phrase “continuous improvement” lodged way back in the grey matter for me as I now present a semi-opposing viewpoint to my argument from the previous post.  Speaking of grey matter, mine is suffering from immense pressure thanks to a sinus infection at the moment, so bear with me if I seem a little incoherent.  Anyway, I am a firm believer in CI.  No manufacturing process is perfect, and no manufacturing operation is flawless.  There is always something that can be done to make the operation run a little faster, a little more efficiently, and produce fewer errors.  It is an incremental process that requires persistence and OCD, both of which I have.  However, the same can be said of social planning, hence the well-known phenomenon of the perpetually unhappy social justice warrior.  The oft-repeated quote is “there is no pleasing these people.”  That is correct.  Social justice warriors have the exact same mindset as QA managers.  The flaw in their thinking, of course, is that populations are NOT industries.  Industrial planning works extremely well, but social planning doesn’t work at all, mainly because people are not machines.  Sometimes, I wish they were, but that’s because I have a mind of metal and I like machines a lot more than people.  Machines are predictable, and do exactly as you tell them when they are functioning correctly.  Notice that I said “exactly as you tell them,” not “exactly what you want.”  Machines have limitations, and you have to know how to talk to them.  If a program doesn’t produce the results you want, then the first troubleshooting step is to make sure that the program is written correctly.  People, on the other hand, are much more flexible in their interpretations of commands, and able to correct for mistakes their superiors make, but are also prone to making mistakes themselves.  In addition, a machine has a definite maximum output: it cannot be made to work harder or faster than it was designed to, so if it’s capabilities are not good enough, you must either modify or replace it.  Therefore, to compare the CI that is the very core of industrial QA to the CI of social dynamics that armchair activists live on is like comparing oranges to rotten onions.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: technology changes faster than law, which changes faster than culture.  The CI idea itself must be implemented at a fairly slow rate, to allow the operation to catch up and run smoothly again following changes.  Machines are not creatures of habit, and respond instantaneously to changes in their programming.  People, on the other hand, take much longer to change, especially if they have not had to change for so long.  When I tried to implement my own CI plan, it was in a shop full of workers who had been stagnant since before I was born.  Needless to say, my modernisation efforts were rewarded with utter failure, thanks to a bunch of complacent old-timers who didn’t like computers.  In my case, I faced the challenge of changing the shop’s culture as much as everything else.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had no choice.  Our customers required the shop to be modernised, and the workers had to change whether they wanted to or not.  Either these old dogs would learn new tricks, or they would be out of a job.  This is not what we’re talking about with social planning outside of industry.  Social planning is the attempt to create a culture based on certain principles.  A company can do this, and anyone who doesn’t conform can’t work there.  This is one of the reasons I will never take a corporate job – I can’t stand toxic corporate culture (key word being “corporate” in this case).  However, countries are not companies.  People do not choose to be part of a country (barring immigration, of course), so a country’s culture is not planned and created by the people in charge, rather, it evolves on its own.  This, by the way, is the reason that constructed languages have never been adopted (outside of some very small circles, that is).  Language is part of culture, and there is no cultural analogue to Esperanto.  There is, however, a cultural analogue to Newspeak – it’s called social justice.

Conflating humans with machines is something that socially detached intellectuals have done throughout history, the most famous example, of course, being Karl Marx.  Marx himself eventually realised that his own philosophy was deeply flawed, but no-one who holds him up on a pedestal today ever acknowledges that.  I used to think the same way as Marx, since I don’t understand people.  Note the present tense – people still confound and infuriate me, but thanks to the internet (and a few friends IRL), I at least know enough to know that they are anything but programmable.  I won’t ever even try to become a social planner for that very reason, and I would make that plea to anyone else thinking that they have all the answers and can change people: you can’t.  People don’t change, and even if they could, they can change only themselves; you can’t make them.  This is probably the only thing I can say with any certainty, mainly because trying to change me is good way to make me hate you.

Right, that’s enough of THAT.  Anyway, I posted this in “Opinion Pieces” as well as “IAMADA” for a reason.  The latter is the name of a secret society in my fictional world, but it is also a possible name for my new business.  I say “possible,” because depending on what direction it ends up going in, it may not be appropriate.  IAMADA is an acronymn, and stands for International Arms Manufacture And Distribution Association.  In The Nine Empires, it is a modern-day version of the old arms dealers’ guild.  In the real world, however, it is an idea I had for making custom weapons for historical re-enactment such as swords, polearms, muskets, and cannons.  Yes, you read that correctly: cannons.  I have access to a building that I can put a fairly large lathe in (much larger than the 13″ x 36″ South Bend in my shop now), so I might be able to set up an operation to turn full-size cannon barrels.  On the smaller end of the operation, I also want to make custom swords for people on a budget – normally, custom-made swords go for several thousand dollars (but are worth it, especially if you know how to properly use one).  However, the first sword I bought, a Windlass Steelcrafts crusader sword, I had issues with, so I took it apart (the other nice thing about threaded pommels, besides the ability to end one’s opponent rightly) and put a new guard, new wooden grip, and new pommel on it.  This is the type of customisation that I would do in my own shop.  For higher quality, of course, that’s where CraftNet comes in.  CraftNet (name subject to change, for all I know it’s already taken) is the electronic side of my business project.  It is a network of independent craftspeople (including bladesmiths) that can provide literally anything one needs for historical re-enactment, including costumes, jewellry, furniture, and of course, weapons.  It’s still under construction, but hopefully, I will have a second WordPress site up by the end of the month for the foundation of the network.  I already have a few people involved, but since they are very busy, coordinating with them hasn’t been easy.  Furthermore, I’m the only computer-savvy person in the group, so the network is entirely on my shoulders.  Then again, that’s the whole point of the network – connecting people who are stuck in the 18th century.  So, my call to anyone who actually bothers to read my posts is to get the contact information of any independent craftspeople that you know, and whether they have a website or not, direct them to the Custom Work section of this site or my contact page, so that I can get as many people involved in this project as possible.  If you have any suggestions for the network itself, I’d appreciate that as well.

A Scientific Explanation for the Persistence of Crusaders

Below are two pictures of an article in a recent issue of Science.  The first is the un-edited shot, and the second is the part I wish to draw your attention to:

Since I don’t currently have a functional scanner, I had to take a regular picture.  Unfortunately, even though I could read the text just fine in the camera window when I zoomed in, I could no longer read it when I popped it up in MS Paint to draw that box around the pertinent text.  So, here is what is written that I wish to draw your attention to, originally edited by Caroline Ash, titled “Perception and judgement creep:”

Do we think that a problem persists even when it becomes less frequent?  Levari et al. show experimentally that when the “signal” a person is searching for becomes rare, the person naturally responds by broadening his or her definition of the signal – and therefore continues to find it even when it is not there.  From low-level perception of color to higher-level judgments of ethics, there is a robust tendency for perceptual and judgmental standards to “creep” when they ought not to.  For example, when blue dots become rare, participants start calling purple dots blue, and when threatening faces become rare, participants start calling neutral faces threatening.  This phenomenon has broad implications that help explain why people whose job is to find and eliminate problems in the world often cannot tell when their  job is done.  -AMS

Science, this issue p.1465

As I mentioned in a recent post titled “A Point or Two About Art and Propaganda,” I became familiar with the nonsensical social justice movement because it is infecting gaming, and we gamers want nary a goddamned thing to do with it.  “In the 41st millennium, there is only war.”  Does anyone honestly believe that those who enjoy stories and games about such a grimdark universe genuinely want to live in it?  I find World War II fascinating as well, but that does not mean I have any desire to hop in a time machine and go fight on the Eastern Front.  However, I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why the cancer that is social justice continues to spread.  It is a problem that has spread across generations, because the problems that the original social progress movements fought to destroy no longer exist, and so the victorious activists felt a need to seek out other social injustices to correct.

This, of course, began with the suffrage movement, then temporarily going into hiding because the world was otherwise pre-occupied, re-emerging as the civil rights movement.  The activists who managed to get the wrongs righted in those distant decades settled down, became college professors, and started to look for other problems along the same lines to “correct.”  In my last post, titled “A Conversation About Social Experiments,” I mentioned that technology changes the faster than law, which changes faster than culture.  Therefore, once a social “problem” has been legislated away, it will still continue to exist, because people’s minds will not change so quickly.  “Just because sexism and racism have been outlawed, sexist and racist people still exist” is the logic behind the current social justice movement, which, strangely enough, is seeking more legislation in order to make the persisting prejudice disappear.  They are simply impatient.  However, while unable to force people to think in manners they find comfortable, they have found other “technical” inequalities that seem far easier to “correct,” such as the lack of female space marines in Warhammer 40K.  This is what has me so upset.  What’s next?  Not enough female soldiers in Flames of War?  If you want female space marines, play as the Adepta Sororitas, since it’s about as close as you’re going to get.  Then again, there is nothing to stop you from putting female heads on Adeptus Astartes figures, or better yet, just claiming that your space marines are female, since they are usually wearing helmets anyway.  If you want female soldiers in Flames of War, play as the Russians.  That would be historically accurate, considering that Russians were fighting for their lives during the Great Patriotic War, and there were whole units staffed entirely by women.  They were a minority, but they did indeed exist.

The most important sentence in that article I shared is “for example, when blue dots become rare, participants start calling purple dots blue, and when threatening faces become rare, participants start calling neutral faces threatening.”  I would add that “when those on the far-right become rare, social justice warriors start calling centrists far-right, and when nazis become rare, social justice warriors start calling normal people nazis.”  I’m not the first to notice this, in fact, I’m probably not the 200th this week.  Therefore, I’m not going to go into this any more than I already have.  I would, however, like to point out that this is not the first time in history that this sort of thing has happened.  I used the term “crusaders” in the title because actual crusaders have been guilty of the exact same thing.  After the success of the First Crusade, Rome began crusades to accelerate the conversion of northern Europeans to Christianity.  After many successes and failures against Muslims and Pagans, the crusaders turned their eyes toward other Christians, i.e. non-Catholics, such as the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire and Russian Republics of Pskov and Novgorod.  This culminated in the Battle of the Neva in 1240 and the Battle on the Ice in 1242, in which the Novgorod Army defeated the Swedes and Livonian Order, respectively.  Even the Poles had not been spared from the Teutonic Knights, which seems odd in retrospect, given that the Polish were Catholic at the time.  Fast forward three quarters of a millennium, and modern-day social crusaders are up to the exact same thing.  This is called “shifting the goal-posts,” which is a reference to American football, though critics have usually derided the practise, without knowing that it is, in fact, deeply rooted in psychology.

There is, of course, a solution.  Social progress must be made in large, definite increments, rather than tiny, nebulous movements toward a vague goal.  Furthermore, culture does not change overnight, and in order for some new world view to become normal, it cannot be forced upon a population by those who want to see results in their own lifetime.  Yet, those who championed change in decades past are impatient, and have taken to indoctrinating younger generations, rather than hanging up their boots and looking for something else to do while simply waiting for their changes to become naturally engrained in the minds of the population subject to them.  They must make the conscious effort to make a goal and stop when they reach it, which is, apparently, against human nature.  I get it, life is a journey, not a destination, but if you choose to be a leader and not simply do your own thing, then sometimes, you need to stop and let your followers catch up.

Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.

A Conversation About Social Experiments

What follows is a passage I may include at some point in The Nine Empires.

Adya walked briskly down the corridor, finding the door, left ajar, by the faint blue glow emanating from within the room on the other side.  He gently pushed the door open with the back of his hand, finding, perhaps, the two most frightening individuals he knew sitting, sipping wine and waiting for him; Kaia Blackwing on his left, and Rua Greyfeather on his right.

Rua spoke first, in her low, soft, yet phlegmy voice.  “Regrettable though you may find it, Adya, in order to ensure the restoration and subesquent security of our supremacy, you should be privy to all information afforded to our new conductor, seeing is she is your bethrothed, after all.”  Kaia faced Rua the entire time, but gazing at Adya out of the corner of her eye, only turning her head to face Adya when Rua had finished speaking.  She snapped her head about, such that her silver ponytail fell in front of her left shoulder.  “Sit,” she snapped.  Kaia’s tone was a bit higher than Rua’s, as her voice was naturally much higher, but at the low end of her range, Adya knew that she meant business.  None of Adya’s usual sarcastic remarks would be tolerated during this conversation.  Kaia took a third crystal goblet from a wooden case and filled it with wine, then slid it over to Adya.  Adya picked it up, noticing that there was no room to swirl it and take in all of its notes.  “It’s nothing new, Adya,” Kaia sighed, “we have much to discuss, we haven’t time for the appreciation of more complex and subtle flavours.”

Rua then spoke again.  “Nearly eight hundred cycles ago, Veya Blackwing decided to take our pitiful semblance of a society in a new direction, writing his great symphony.  As you know, every conductor has sworn to carry out the vision of said symphony as closely as possible to Veya’s original direction, myself included.  However, I came to the realisation, shortly before my retirement, that we are nowhere near the finale, and yet mammalian society has already surpassed a level of both technological and social development for which Veya did not account.  Yet, the richest and most powerful of the mammals have already capitalised on this advancement.  The other possible candidates for my replacement would have been complacent.  I needed someone radical and ruthless to take my place, which is why you two are here.”

“I must confess,” Adya bowed his head as he spoke, staring at his own reflection in his wine-glass, “that I do not even know the original purpose of the symphony.”  “That is irrelevant,” Kaia declared, “as we are now dealing with unforeseen circumstances.  There are three main facets to mammalian society, two of which do not have direct parallels in ours.  These are technology, law, and culture.  Of the three, technology changes the fastest, culture, the slowest.  For most of recorded history, technology has advanced slowly enough that law and culture have had enough of a chance to catch up and keep things essentially the same, in other words, keep the mammals out of our hair.”  “Indeed,” Adya and Rua replied in unison.  “I’m not sure if she’s told you,” Rua said, looking at Adya, “but she caught my attention because of her repeated and vigourous denouncement, bordering on the passionate at times, of my own experiment with mammalian civilisation.”  “The Martial State of Taressim,” Adya said.  “Correct,” Rua continued, “the totalitarian state had been a success up until recently, but as Kaia correctly pointed out, it was built on a policy of expansion, and now that it can no longer expand, it can no longer thrive.  I must admit that I was so fixated on this experiment that I lost sight of the terrible regimes that were coming to gain control of the lands beyond.”

“To put things in perspective,” Kaia mused, “the birth, or rather, RE-birth of industry has resulted in some very clever individuals gaining wealth and power to rival that of their own monarchs, and the ability to subvert the very idea of the nation, returning, in some ways, to a feudal society across the entire continent.  For this reason, I believe that Alexandria is our best starting point.  See, I cannot predict what ‘robber barons’ will pop up in the likes of Kantossa or Breace, but I know that the tsar or tsarina of Alexandria is the one truly in power, for the simple reason that Alexandrian tax code strictly forbids any family from having more money than the Royal Family.  The fewer ears we must whisper into, the better.”  “To maintain control?!” Adya interjected, “Since when do we lower ourselves to their level?!”  “Because, sweetie, it’s not about mere control for us.  In a few short years, the rich mammals have gained so much power that they have become drunk on it, lost their original vision, and now care only about maintaining their status.  Everything they’ve done since making their original fortune is a dynastic rich man’s trick, much like the old royal families.  Even when all the mammals knew our name, not one single chuyinka ever gave the slightest care what the mammals thought of us.  Never forget, we forged a society consciously, out of the need to use logic, rather than instinct, to ensure the survival of our species.  We are solitary creatures by nature, and it has brought us to the brink of extinction more times than any of us care to count.”

“The worst part is that we have, perhaps unwittingly, been complicit in all of this,” Rua explained, “as chuyinka are quite mechanically inclined, possibly out of our desire to do as much as we can with as little organic help as possible, some of us have taken to spending days on end alone in a drafting room, drawing up new weapons for these filthy mammals to use in new and exciting ways to tear each other to shreds.  It’s been an arms race between all nine major empires for the past hundred cycles, back to when I was young but three generations of mammals ago, don’t forget.  I’m willing to bet that none of these stupid creatures even know what they would be fighting for when war finally does break out.”  “It already has,” Kaia interrupted, “thanks to your little ‘experiment.'”  “I’d thank you to not remind me,” Rua lamented through her clenched teeth.  “I founded the country with the expectation that it would continue to expand until it collapsed from within, but technology outside wasn’t supposed to advance faster and stall said expansion.”  “Nothing that has happened in the past century has gone according to plan,” Kaia snapped, “so can we just admit that already and forget about the damned plan?!”

“Military leaders all across the continent are looking for an excuse to play with their new toys,”  Kaia continued, “but the great war to come is nothing in comparison to the war between secret societies which we are already starting to wage.  All of these unofficial groups that hold the true power, the dark power, they will be the first casualties.  They are the ones holding it all together for the time being, the Zigidzt Society, the Black Marsh Rats, the VFD, they will all be exterminated, along with much of the mammalian population.  When it is all said and done, there will be few to scrape up from the ashes, but what beautiful few they will be.  The day will come when all that the masses do will be done by machines; there will be no need for masses of witless labourers, as we will all be able to have whatever material possessions that we desire.  Furthermore, those who seek to upset that balance will find themselves blocked in their quest to gain more wealth and power by one simple fact: if they are not chuyinka, they may not be in control.  This is the world which I seek to create, one in which we live as we please, where all can be content, save the greedy.  No more money, no more ‘other and self’ fabricated conflict, no war to disturb the land.  There will be only intellectual pursuit, and all other needs will be taken care of by machinery.  Reason must prevail.”

Adya was nervous.  He had no love of the masses, or any masses, to be honest, but the notion of killing off the majority of the continent’s population seemed, well, wasteful to him.  All those people… were good meals that were destined to be blown up, many by the shells made in factories that his betrothed had, for lack of a better word, stolen by holding bankers at gunpoint.  Kaia hated bankers above all else, and had casually mentioned that, were she to have her way, all bankers, right down to the poor sods who greased the hinges of the vaults, would be publically skinned alive and then tossed into crucibles full of molten lead, “as an example to those complacent in such insidious tyranny.”  Kaia was utterly ruthless, but that seemed to be why Rua liked her so much.  Kaia was a Blackwing, and Blackwings tended to be overzealous in their desire to exterminate their enemies.  Perhaps that is what the chuyinka needed; a young, energetic, and utterly ruthless individual to make sure that this brave new world was shaped in a manner that favoured reason, rather than greed.  “Do you really think that only the best of the mammals can be allowed to survive?”  He posited at last.

“I see a world in which all repetitive tasks, regardless of how complex they may seem on the surface, are done by machine,” Kaia said, “I see all tasks which require only mathematical formulas, no true thought, one day being done by machine.  I see all needs being fulfilled by machines, and only desires requiring their absence.  When the very need for organic workers is replaced, then the very need for people is replaced.  That is a world I fully intend to take advantage of, and so should everyone who wants to truly live.  Do you honestly think, that when this war finally ends, that I want to waste my time trying to figure out how to keep my kin in power?  I want this farce to end.  I want to live in peace, and not have to worry about having to keep masses of lower life-forms distracted.  We have survived by running and hiding from them, and yet we eat them.  Does that not seem illogical to you?”

Adya took a big gulp of wine.  Kaia was right, as usual.  For someone so passionate, her logic was about as icy as it could get.  This wasn’t simply about ideology, as the various communist splinter cells all over the continent had made it about.  After all, Kaia treated her own factory workers very well, such that they had almost no motivation to embrace said doctrine.  No, this was about ensuring the survival of the species.  Adya had never really thought about it before, but the chuyinka were backed into a corner.  Industrialised mammalian society had forced them into that corner, and only the likes of a Blackwing were willing to strike back.  It seemed cruel, but then, the mammals were cruel to each other.  Not even cats were as cruel to their prey.  Brutality was thus irrelevant.  Survival was all that mattered.  “Reason must prevail,” Adya uttered at last.

Update on the Tank Collection and Database

I have been playing around with my tank database a lot today, organising it and dreaming up lots of projects to include, as well as sorting out the various requests I have yet to complete.  Below is a screenshot of the tank collection as it currently is, however, this no longer includes everything.

Tank Collection 20-06-2018

I have decided to omit the many variants of the KV-1 and some other oddities from this collection.  If you want to see everything I have, then feel free to look at my Tank model database.  I keep this link updated, so you every time you download it, there will be changes.  It is a Microsoft Word document with a table containing not only the historical tanks I’ve made models of so far, but also projects that I intend to work on.  Some are tanks that I’d like to add for my own purposes, and others have been requested by my customers on Shapeways.  Any hyperlinks will take you to the product page in my shop.  You will notice that some models are marked “ATA.”  This stands for “available through assembly,” as I explained in my previous post, which is where I shared an old version of the database.  That post has since been set to private, as it is redundant.  If there are any tanks that you would like to see added to the collection, let me know.