Random Thoughts, Collection 3: Worm is Writer’s Best Friend

Atrocious grammar aside, there are lots of things that writers can do with worms.  Two webcomics that I’ve read, Awful Hospital and Feast for a King, are excellent examples of that.  In fact, the latter gave me an idea, which I will discuss shortly.  Before I discuss fictional worms, however, I’d like to tell you a bit about some real-life worms.  If you are at all squeamish, now is the time to leave.

Planarian graphic

Planaria (singular “planarian”) are staples of biology lab, I’m told (I never took bio lab, I was a chem major before switching to engineering).  These benign (i.e. non-parasitic) flatworms have remarkable regenerative capability, able to regrow themselves no matter what part has been severed.  The most well-known example of this, however, is that, when the worm’s head is sliced down the middle, it will grow two heads.  The reason for this is that a lateral nerve runs round the worm’s entire perimeter, and as long as part of it is left intact, it can regenerate a whole new worm.  Starfish share this trait as well, believe it or not; starfish have ring-shaped brains, and if part of it is contained within a severed arm, that arm will grow a new starfish.  Generally, “simpler” organisms have much greater regenerative capabilities than “more evolved” organisms.  By the way, I use quotation marks here because, in the context of biology, “more evolved” simply means “more differentiated from its ancestor than its sister clades.”  I’ve gone on entire rants on this subject before, and I’m tired of repeating myself; leaves on a tree, not rungs on a ladder.  Anyway, planaria: they are fascinating critters, and they would probably make great additions to a fish tank, if only they weren’t so bloody small.

Between Feast for a King and the real world, I’ve gotten some strange ideas for a continuation of The Nine Empires.  You may not know this (and probably don’t care, anyway), but The Nine Empires was originally meant to be lore, not the main story.  The main story was supposed to be futuristic SF called “Integral,” after the ship that plays a central role in the story (which is, itself, a reference).  I fully plan to go back to it eventually, but steampunk interests me much more.  That being said, I still occasionally make models for it, such as this monstrosity:

Nova Dreadnought

I’ll explain what this is later – maybe.  Anyway, I could have very easily put this post into the “Strange Creatures of Varanganska,” but there were too many other things I wanted to mention.  Without further ado, I give you empath worms!

As their name suggests, empath worms are extremely sensitive to the emotions of other creatures.  Though simple in their physical makeup, the reactions to the brain-waves of intelligent vertebrates, combined with their biological immortality, results in these worms undergoing some rather interesting metamorphoses throughout their lives.  In the wild, they usually don’t live long enough to transform into anything interesting, as they are quite low on the food chain, but in the laboratory, they can pick up on neural signals and learn to mess with scientists studying them.

Like planaria, empath worms are capable of remarkable regeneration.  Furthermore, there does not seem to be any limit to what sort of body shape they can control.  One specimen, for instance, was sliced lengthwise four times, being allowed to regenerate in between slices, and grew into a hand-shaped worm.  This “worm-hand” found that, when it gripped a similarly-shaped object, it received positive reinforcement in the form of telltale oxytocin release in a nearby organism.  The researcher was “holding hands” with a worm, and the worm fed off the feeling.  Further tests with the “worm-hands” revealed that they could eventually learn to tell the difference between a real hand and a fake one, as the lack of actual touch produced no chemical reaction from the fake hand.  Because empath worms have very simple nervous systems, it takes a very long time for them to make the necessary associations between certain stimuli and the electrochemical feedback.  Nonetheless, since they are biologically immortal, they can continue learning about new stimuli and generating new neural connections forever.  As long as someone is willing to study them, a single worm can be the research subject of several generations of scientists.

Laboratory conditions resulted in these worms not only transforming, but also mutating so that they were no longer the same creature.  Effectively, they were evolving into more complex organisms without actually having to produce successive generations.  That being said, when they were bred, depending on how much they had genetically altered themselves, the worms could produce anything from an organism indistinguishable from a natural worm, all the way up to a perfect replica of themselves.  Research with the worms reached an entirely new level, as creatures that were biologically worms began to look and act like entirely different animals.  At first, it was the worm-hand, which was still a worm, with no structural or genetic changes.  Before long, they became rubbery urchin-like creatures that rolled around, looking for attention.  These rubber urchins also knew the difference between the researchers who sliced them up and those who simply observed, and would shun the former.  There was, however, the occasional scientist that the worms simply refused to acknowledge.  Scientists that the worms didn’t respond to, were, without exception, chuyinka.  This is because chuyinka spend most of their time in a transformed state that suppresses their emotions almost to the point of nonexistence.  Therefore, their brains don’t emit any signal that the worms would recognise.  This wasn’t seen as pertinent at first, but it eventually became a rather important piece of information.

It wasn’t long before the worms began to figure out how to change their shape on their own, absorbing some appendages and making others grow larger.  The metamorphosis was slow at first, but it got exponentially faster as the worms learned more.  Before long, the worms began growing proper legs, and they transformed from urchins to sea-cucumbers.  It wasn’t long after that the worms began to grow proper eyes as well.  In their natural state, the worm possesses simple eyespots, which can discern light from dark only.  However, those eyespots began to dish slightly, then more and more, and finally becoming pinhole eyes.  Still, even with the specialisation of their own tissues for the purpose of enhancing their senses, they couldn’t perceive the chuyinka; after all, their primary method of recognising another organism was still empathic, not visual or auditory.  Oddly enough, while most scientists were dismissive of this phenomenon having any disturbing ramifications, the chuyinka disagreed.  Call it bias, but given that the chuyinka themselves were all shapeshifting descendants of genetically engineered creatures, they probably knew, better than anyone else, what might come of further experimentation with empath worms.

During the Age of Decay, which immediately followed the Golden Age of chuyinka society, the population sharply declined as Varanganska began to die and natural resources on the planet quickly disappeared.  Many of the best universities were located in the flying cities and orbiting platforms, along with the research laboratories where the empath worms resided.  However, though the declining population barely affected the function of the cities themselves, as they were highly automated, there were fewer and fewer actual residents, scientists included.  However, one orbiting platform seemed to be fine, with a booming population.  Yet, when chuyinka administrators visited the platform to see what was going on, they found that they were ignored completely, as if they were completely invisible to most of the thousands of residents.  You can probably guess why.  The worms had learned a degree of shapeshifting, and could take virtually any humanoid form of their own size – and the larger ones had grown skeletons by this time, in order to support their greater mass.  However, they were still worms, biologically speaking.

If you’re expecting a big conflict between the chuyinka and the worms, I’m afraid that I must disappoint.  See, the chuyinka were pleasantly surprised about this development, and made their own tweak – they replaced the empath gene with a telepath gene that psychically linked each clone batch of worms to the chuyinka who ordered them.  Yes, they began cloning worms in order to breed armies.  Mind you, I didn’t come up with this idea until well after I had already outlined and started writing Integral, so this development basically scraps the entire premise of the story.  Luckily for me, I don’t have to worry about the fact that I’m making this up as I go, because this isn’t the story I’m working on at the moment – remember, the Golden Age begins 1000 years after the events of the Nine Empires.  And yes, those are still Varanganskan years, i.e. 6600 Earth years.

So, first thought: webcomics are fun.  Second thought: worms are cool; disgusting to some, but still cool.  Third thought: I can’t help but notice that the progression of my starship designs matches my change in choice of entertainment, from FFIX to SC to SW to 40K.  Fourth thought: empath worms are, possibly, the weirdest idea I’ve ever had.  Fifth and final thought: I’m wasting my time with all of this.

Advertisements

The Alt-Geek Shall Inherit the Internet

Regarding the world-wide shutdown of YouTube for several hours last night, I think the saying “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket” is applicable.  Styxhexenhammer has already addressed this in one of his recent BitChute videos.  However, I have my own approach to this topic.

I’ve addressed the topic of alt-tech before, even coining the term “alt-geek” for someone who uses it.  There are multiple reasons to use alt-tech, privacy being the one that’s on everyone’s minds at the moment.  However, access to online content is another big one, which a lot of YouTube users probably didn’t even think of until last night, given how long it’s been since the last time the site was down for so long.  I use YouTube mainly for music these days, as most of the channels that I frequent have been mirrored on BitChute, such as RazörFist and Computing Forever.  This is part of the reason that I want to eventually create my own library of BitChute-exclusive music, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

Another main concern is bandwidth.  This is not a concern for a lot of people, as the majority of the population, internet users especially, reside in urban areas with reliable high-speed internet connections, which compensate for the high traffic.  I do not.  I live in the middle of nowhere (I like isolation), so my internet connection is slow and unreliable.  I don’t notice it too much with my desktop computer, since it’s a home-built, high-performance machine made to run CAD software, but my mobile devices are irritatingly slow when I try to pop up anything online with them.  As it is, I use my phone for text messaging and impromptu photography (I have a real camera, I prefer using it whenever possible), and that’s it.  However, I have a nasty habit of keeping obscene numbers of tabs open at any given time.  On Pale Moon (my primary browser, since I switched from Firefox), I keep my “work” tabs open: ProtonMail, Shapeways, BitChute, etc.  On Google Chrome (my secondary browser), I keep no fewer than six YouTube tabs open so that I can listen to music.  Chrome is faster than Pale Moon by a wide margin, so it’s good to not bog down the latter.  However, the different browser does nothing for bandwidth: using decentralised websites frees up bandwidth on the server end.  Using Google for everything, on the other hand, puts entirely too much strain on Google’s servers.  The rest of the  world can continue competing for bandwidth on the larger, mainstream websites, but those of us who actually want to get things done will go elsewhere.

I’m seeing internet history repeating itself.  Twenty years ago, very few people had internet access (dial-up, I had it until 2005, being in a rural area), and most who did used it for work.  Certainly by the turn of the millennium, everyone had a PC (geek had Macs), but now people are moving toward mobile devices.  Even laptops are declining in popularity, because the majority of the population doesn’t need a computer – all they use are FakeBook and Twiddle!  Meanwhile, Mac still likes to brand itself as the “elite” product, but the only thing “elite” about Apple products is the price tag.  PCs perform much better, and you can build your own (as of this writing, I’ve built two, and I’m still using the first)!  I expect there to be a major split in the internet in a few years: the mainstream users, bogged down in a frustratingly slow system reminiscent of dial-up, and the new geeks, who know exactly where to go and what to use to avoid all the internet traffic analogous to a Los Angeles twenty-lane parking lot.

In conclusion, I would suggest using different websites, unaffiliated with each other, for your different work.  In addition, use websites that are not based in California whenever possible.  Between wildfires and earthquakes, who knows what could happen to Silicon Valley in the next decade or two.  There are other things you can do as well, such as investing in your own storage, rather that relying on the cloud or internet-based backup services.  Of course, anyone who reads this sort of content probably already knows this, and if you’re one of those people who likes to find new ways to streamline your tech use, I tip my hat to you.  Or I would, if wore one.

Third CAD Tutorial

I’ve just finished uploading my third CAD tutorial to BitChute!  In this lesson, I show you how to make this:

Quadrireme hull

This is a Carthaginian quadrireme hull, minus any oars or masts.  This particular design is based on the Marsala ship, which was discovered off the coast of Sicily in 1971.  I had a request to make a 1/300 scale version, as I already had a 1/1200 scale model in my shop.  Naturally, I was able to make this one much more accurate and detailled.  I still have some tweaks to make, but that’s between my customer and I.  For all practical purposes, the model is finished.  You can view the full tutorial here:

Part 1: https://www.bitchute.com/video/x45xBmUq4MUh/

Part 2: https://www.bitchute.com/video/71k5DoxdFWP0/

Part 3: https://www.bitchute.com/video/VeoKoZmNeGsQ/

It’s only 1.5 hours, less than half what I devoted to the SU-100Y.  Click here if you want to see the final result.

Random Thoughts, Collection 2: Should I Make a Dragon?

Oh, I’m sure they would sell like hotcakes if I did.  However, even if I started tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t see results for another twenty years, at least six of which would be spent in school (I’ll need both M.S. and Ph.D. for this).  Yes, I’m talking about genetically engineering a real dragon with wings.  See, I’m not entirely sure that it’s impossible.  Every time there is an article about Hox genes in Science, I read it.  The most recent one pertained to changing the size, number, and position of the body segments in sea anemones.  For those who don’t know, anemones are constructed a bit like citrus fruit.  However, that’s not the point.  There are many well-documented experiments done with Hox genes on fruit flies, but the one that intrigues me the most is the ultrabithorax, which gave the fly four wings.  Now, despite its name, the ubx gene does not give the fly an extra thorax – it merely turns off the supression of proper wing formation.  All insects have four wings, but in some species, the gene for their formation is turned off.  However, this gave me an idea.  Now, before I go any further, I would suggest going over to Wikipedia and looking up Hox genes if you don’t already know what they do.

So far, scientists have managed to swap Hox genes around, but haven’t managed to add any, as far as I know.  The question is, could a fly be made with an extra thorax, with another pair of forewings and three pairs of legs?  If the ubx gene is also activated, would you get a fly with eight wings and twelve legs?  If so, then there is hope for my idea.  Well, it’s not really my idea.  Truth be told, I was discussing with my mother how a four-legged flying dragon could exist in theory, on a planet where vertebrates evolved as hexapods rather than as tetrapods.  I was performing a thought experiment, she wants a flying pet.  However, a reptilian dragon would be a bit of a stretch.  I would start with a bird, and suppress some genes on it (like the beak), while activating others (like the teeth) until it starts looking like a dinosaur (technically, it already is a dinosaur, but you know what I mean).  The process is analogous to what I did in my second CAD tutorial to change the type of suspension on the JN-2.  The result would probably look something like Archaeopteryx.  As far as the extra pair of legs is concerned, that would require the duplication of Hox genes for the shoulders, while simultaneously shortening the limbs and re-activating the gene for claw formation; if I start with a hoatzin, that shouldn’t be too hard.  The result would be a feathered dragon.  It won’t breathe fire, but let’s not get crazy – besides, that part of the myth probably comes from the extreme exaggeration of a monitor lizard’s forked tongue.

So, no firey breath, but I’m not done with this thought experiment, not by a long shot!  In order to make a dragon with membrane wings, instead of feathered wings, we’d want to look at bats for that source material.  Personally, I’d rather use a pterosaur, and simply do to it the same thing as the bird, but that entire clade has gone extinct, so all that genetic information has been lost.  Now, turning a bat into a dragon is quite a stretch indeed.  So, the question is, can Hox genes from one animal be transferred to another, or is that like trying to copy a component in Autodesk Inventor and trying to paste it in Adobe Flash CS3?  Code is code, right?  Wrong!  Formatting is just as important, if not more so.  The exact gene sequence for blue eyes in humans may code for something completely different in fruit flies, or it may do absolutely nothing.  The highly technical term for genetic material that doesn’t do anything is “junk DNA.”  Most organisms have an awful lot of it.  The equivalent in computing is called “bloatware.”  Anyway, returning to the topic of the dragon, if the Hox genes and other DNA responsible for the bat’s wings can be transferred to a lizard (such as an existing animal that’s actually called a dragon) with no loss of information, then that would be great.  It’s a stretch of the imagination, and it presents yet another problem: the lizard needs to be warm-blooded in order to have enough energy to fly.  See, this is why I wanted to start with a pterosaur.  Then again, if I somehow had access to a pterosaur, what would I need a dragon for?!

So, what do we need to do in order to make an animal that’s reptilian on the outside, but avian on the inside?  Let’s face it, in order for dragons to actually be able to fly, they’d have to be constructed more like birds than reptiles.  This is part of the reason that dinosaurs were able to grow so much larger than mammals: they had more efficient respiratory systems and lighter, stronger skeletons.  Well, the easiest thing would be to scrap the lizard idea, and go back to the bird.  Replace the genes for the bird wing with those for a bat wing (if that actually works), and replace the genes for feathers with those for scales.  Birds already have scales, so that ought not to be too difficult.  Now, what about the tail?  Well, that requires turning on some really old dinosaur genes again.  You know, those genes responsible for the long, lizardlike tails that ancient theropods used for balance.  There, now we have a dinosaur with bat wings.

Now then, I must address the elephant (dinosaur?) in the room.  Were I to go into genetic engineering with the intention of seriously taking on this project, my ethics would be called into question.  Honestly, if GMOs are controversial now, imagine how ruffled people would get over genetically engineered designer pets, especially one that qualifies as a chimera.  Then, there is the marketing aspect.  Now, Monsanto has exploited the ludicrous patent legislation to sue farmers whose crops get contaminated with pollen from their own, thus producing “unauthorised hybrids.”  Honestly, with all the crap that Monsanto pulls, I think the company should be fined into total nonexistence.  I don’t believe that living organisms should be allowed to be anyone’s intellectual property.  This is the same sort of question that has been addressed in science fiction with artificial life stories.  The difference is that the line is much more blurred with androids, as they are machinery and therefore, intellectual property is not nearly as controversial.  Sentience, however, brings the whole idea of property into question.  For my purpose, even if I were to succeed in this hypothetical project, what then?  I could not, in good conscience, allow anyone to claim the actual genetic code as their intellectual property.  At the end of the day, all I would own is the research that went into creating this creature.  Then there is the question of selling these as pets.  Would this tremendously modified organism be fertile?  If it was, what would it actually produce?  If not, then every single one would have to be created by cloning or gene-edited from the beginning.  See, if these things could breed and produce fully functional offspring, then I’d have nothing to worry about.  If I have to cultivate every single one in a lab, then I’d never be able to keep up with the demand.  No way would I outsource this, either.  I may not believe in patenting living organisms, but my belief is not law, and even if I patented my sequence to protect myself, that would allow others to tweak the sequence just enough to no longer be protected under patent, and we’d have a pet dragon war on our hands, as every company in the world that does this will probably want in on the action.  Then again, every company that has trade secrets has to weigh the decision whether or not to keep them secret or patent them very carefully.

So, first thought: Hox genes are fascinating.  Second thought: a flying dragon is a fascinating animal to study.  Third thought: a flying dragon would also make a cool pet.  Fourth thought: a bird would make a nice feathered dragon if you modify it enough.  Fifth thought: a pterosaur would make an even better dragon; in fact, forget the dragon, a pterosaur would make a cool pet!  Sixth thought: making a scaly dragon with bat wings would be quite a feat of genetic engineering.  Seventh and final thought: forget about whether or not this is even possible, because everything I’ve just proposed is probably quite unethical.  Mad science usually is.

Random Thoughts, Collection 1: Man is the Only Animal Capable of Lying to Himself

I love watching debunking videos on YouTube.  They are valuable sources of both information and cheap laughs.  In some cases, I would even call them guilty pleasures (though DBZA is my real guilty pleasure).  As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the Pine Trees and Elephants Aftershow, which is quasi-inspiration for me, but I’ve had the idea for this post for a while now.  See, part of this post’s title is a quote from one of my former professors (Charles Kemnitz, if anyone wants to look him up).  Ever since the very beginning of human civilisation, man has tried to distinguish himself from animals through various means.  For most of history, this was done through religion; only in recent history has science attempted to tackle this problem.  To be fair, however, religion has been around a lot longer than science.  For so many centuries (and even to this day, in some places), anyone suggesting scientific investigation was cast out of society, usually quite fatally.  See, science has the potential to falsify any belief, no matter how strongly held.  Therefore, any manner of investigation using the scientific method is inherently dangerous to those in power.  This is why no political party supports science – but politicians love to use science as a crutch to prop up their position when it suits them.  This is called “cherry picking,” or, as I like to call it, “painting bullseyes around arrows.”  It’s the very foundation of the ideological method, which is the process of finding facts to support a presupposition, rather than drawing a conclusion from facts; in other words, it’s the scientific method bass-ackwards.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve mentioned this before (though that may have been in a dream, since I can’t seem to find where), but I was unable to go into greater detail until now.  Personally, I have never understood why people insist on hanging on to nonsensical beliefs.  I have always had a very sceptical mind, and I actually enjoy changing it from time to time (remember, I love chaos).  I’ve been challenging superstitions since I was five, in fact.  I’ve made a lot of enemies this way, because no-one likes the smartass Russian kid who refuses to automatically believe anything an adult tells him.  I’ve probably uttered the phrase “prove it” more than any other.  However, I love to learn new things, and if someone can prove something that I don’t believe at first, I usually make a new friend.  Some people, however, hate to learn.  My mother thinks that this is exclusively an American problem, because the public school system kills the desire to learn.  However, I have since come to the conclusion that this is not an American problem, but a human problem.  Most people don’t like change, because they are not adaptable.  Perhaps this is why so many people associate chaos with evil (especially in JRPGs, less so but still the case with many MMORPGs), even though chaos is not inherently evil, just as order is not inherently good.  In fact, many of the most ordered societies throughout history have also been labelled as the most evil.  Just as the axis of capitalism/socialism is perpendicular to the axis of authoritarianism/libertarianism on the political compass, the axis of good/evil is perpendicular to the axis of order/chaos on the moral compass.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s address what separates humans from animals.  Unfortunately, I have a little plot twist for you: humans are animals, by definition.  This fact makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, but unless the following sentence is incorrect, it is still a fact.  A human is a multicellular eukaryotic organism with an internal digestive tract and must consume other organisms (not necessarily other animals) in order to survive.  Humans did not descend from apes, humans are apes; naked apes, but apes nonetheless.  Apes are a subset of monkeys (apes and monkeys used to be separate clades, but recent findings have changed that), which are a subset of primates, which are a subset of mammals, and so on ad nauseam.  Yet, hardly anyone is willing to admit that, phylogenetically speaking, nothing separates humans from animals.  However, every animal is unique in one respect or another, and humans happen to be unique in some truly remarkable ways, right?  People have been trying to figure out exactly what those unique qualities are.  Tool use?  No, lots of other animals use tools; that trait isn’t even uniquely mammalian.  Agriculture?  No, because leafcutter ants cut leaves for the purpose of farming fungus.  Social hierarchy?  No, lots of other animals have that, not just apes.  Civilisation?  I’m not touching that one until someone manages to accurately define civilisation, but I suspect that most eusocial insects would qualify as being “civilised.”  Intelligence?  You’re going to have to define that one, too.  Besides, we can recognise lots of animals as being intelligent, even if we can’t actually define that quality.  How about imagination?  Ding ding ding!  Humans have lots of free time to daydream and invent stories.  This is where religion came from: it’s a luxury, just like art, because when life is good, humans don’t have to spend every waking moment just trying to survive.  Extrapolating from that, the hierarchical nature of humans means that certain individuals have come up with stories to control other humans.  Most people buy into it, but some (like me) do not.  After all, to quote Marcus Tullius Cicero, “religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”  Actually, that quote has been attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte as well, but I’m inclined to believe that the older source is probably the correct one.

It is said that if you keep repeating a lie, eventually people will believe it.  However, some people can even convince themselves that their own lies are true.  This quality appears to be uniquely human – believing that one’s own senses are deceiving them, leading to a denial of reality itself.  Besides, when the original con-artist dies (or gets hauled off to prison for tax evasion; I still pop up that headline from time to time for a healthy dose of schadenfreude), one of his victims will, inexorably, take up the mantle, and repeat the lie, having believed it from the start.  Rinse and repeat for several thousand years, and you have an accepted religion, a central feature of a culture dictating tradition and law.  Now, up to this point, I’ve been painting religion as evil.  However, there is a flip side.  Most religions describe an afterlife of some kind.  Animals are afraid of death, which is why they run from predators.  Well, that’s not quite accurate; to be perfectly honest, most animals don’t have a concept of death (but humans are not the only exception), and are actually afraid of the intense pain of being fatally bitten.  Personally, I think there is no point in being afraid of the inevitable.  Everything that has ever lived has died, and everything currently alive is going to die.  This is another fact that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.  No-one denies it, as far as I know, but that doesn’t change the attitude toward that fact.  Continuing the trend of people lying to themselves, I’m inclined to believe that this is the underlying reason for censorship: no-one wants to be exposed to uncomfortable thoughts, much less a harsh reality.  Some people are willing to deal with the mental discomfort, but others don’t.  Most opponents of censorship believe that censors are intellectually dishonest, and I agree, but I would take it one step further: they are cowards.  Intellectual dishonesty is a symptom of cowardice.  I’ve seen religious apologists and politicians alike resort to various dishonest tactics (not just plain lying) when confronted with any inconvenient facts.

So, the video I have playing in the background is only halfway done, but I’m going to wrap this up now.  So, first thought: science is dangerous to people in power, because it has a nasty tendency to overthrow the status quo.  Second thought: people don’t like change.  Third thought: humans are animals with an imagination.  Fourth thought: religion was invented for both comforting and malicious reasons.  Fifth and final thought: fear and imagination is a highly destructive combination, even when it doesn’t manifest as paranoia.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the way my mind works.  I’ll definitely write more of these.  I’d call them “brain dumps,” but that name is already taken.

My New 15mm Challenge

Relax, relax, this is a self-imposed challenge.  See, I recently uploaded my 37th tank model in 6mm (1/285) scale, and I noticed that I have the exact same number of historical tanks in 15mm (1/100) scale as fictional tanks.  Well, one of them (specifically, the Bolo Mk 33) isn’t in 15mm scale, but it’s the only tank model I have that isn’t in one of the two primary scales that I work with.  Here’s what I mean:

Tank section historical 13-08-2018

Tank section fictional 13-08-2018

As a result of this realisation, I’ve decided that, from now on, every time I make a historical tank model in 15mm scale, I must also make either a tank of my own design, or a fictional tank that someone wants.  I’ve had only one of the latter so far (the Bolo), but I never know what someone might ask me for.  Fortunately, I already have the next two lined up: the SU-100Y and JN-3 SAU.

JN-3 and SU-100Y 1

JN-3 and SU-100Y 2

I’ve tested the mechanism for the SU-100Y (see my first CAD tutorial, parts 4 and 5), and it seems to work, but I need to sand it down a bit before I know for certain whether or not I need to modify it significantly.  Once that’s done, both of these will be in my shop (the SU-100Y already is in 6mm scale).  By the way, I’m doing this for myself; the only historical tank I’ve ever sold in 15mm scale is the KV-2.  I’ve had better luck with fictional tanks, oddly enough, between the half-dozen or so Bolos I’ve sold, the SIU-13, and the Iron Turtle.

In other news, I will begin work on my third CAD tutorial in the next day or two.  I doubt it will be nearly as long or as boring as the first, but it won’t be a brief, single-video lesson like the second.

Of BitChute Music and Cancelled Vlogs

I had planned to start making a vlog on BitChute with regular updates, but this format is much quicker for me.  As much as I would love to make animations, Adobe Flash CS3 is very picky when it comes to the exact settings for MP3 files that are used as soundtracks.  I’ve found a complete chart of all the settings that will work, and I have a few test sound bites that I can use, but the process is time-consuming, and right now, I simply can’t be fiddling with it.  I have a tank destroyer to finish (if I’m ambitious, I might finish another one that’s quite similar as well), I have deer to shoot (I’ve filled one tag already, and I have another five weeks of archery season to fill the other one), and I have to get all my material prepped for my third CAD tutorial, the introduction to virtual shipbuilding!  Now that my mouse troubles are over (something that plagued me during the other lessons), things should go a lot smoother.

Anyway, you’ll notice that I tagged this post with “politics.”  See, I have a confession to make.  Before I do, however, I would direct you to this post, where I made a rather heated comment, only to be informed that I made a huge mistake in my assessment (I like not being left to twist in the wind, by the way, so thank you for calling me out, you know who you are).  My confession is that I LOVE CHAOS (Tzeentch, to be specific).  See, I find western politics to be perpetual tedium.  Therefore, any upset to the system makes me happy!  That, by the way, is exactly how I view Donald Trump: he’s a proverbial monkey wrench that I and every other fed-up U.S. citizen threw into the cogs of the Washington political machine.  Of course, the Donald himself probably doesn’t see himself that way, and having never actually met him face-to-face, I can’t read his mind.  I can make educated guesses about his motives, based on the fact that I have an uncle with a nearly identical demeanor who is also quite wealthy, but that’s about it.  MY motives, however, are much simpler and more destructive.  I don’t believe that a system as mired in bureaucracy as either the U.S. or the E.U. can be reformed; they must be torn down and rebuilt.  To quote JFK, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”  “Profound,” some people would say to that, but anyone who’s studied history can make that observation.  I may not want to stick around for the second American Revolution (or civil war, depending on whom you speak to), but I’d love to see it happen.  Well, maybe not a full revolution, but a political reform so widespread and violent that it could easily be mistaken for a revolution will do just fine.  Same goes for Europe.  Thankfully, that seems to be exactly what is happening right now, and I will add as much fuel to the fire as I can (which isn’t much, for someone who isn’t involved in politics outside of town meetings).

Last thing for today, I mentioned BitChute music.  Well, I’ve wanted to get into composition for a while, but finding the right software hasn’t been easy.  Furthermore, it hasn’t been a priority.  However, I can still sing!  I’m not good at writing lyrics, mainly because I’m a lousy poet, but I can still perform someone else’s work.  The song in question is called Orlënok (the Eaglet), and it is my single favourite Soviet song.  I will probably repeat this format at my leisure with other songs that I know, but certainly not with my instrumental compositions, once I start writing and uploading them.

A New Game Hoist

This was what I tried to post on Steemit when I was informed that I had no more resource credit.  See my last post in case you want to know what I’m talking about.

Three more days until hunting season begins where I live.  Many deer have been helping themselves to the pears that are falling in my yard, so I’m optimistic that I will be able to get a nice doe on opening day.  This means that my shop needs to be prepared for butchering!  Up until last year, I had a nice block-and-tackle hoist made from wooden pulleys.  However, I had to retire them before they broke, and I had to jury-rig a highly ineffective system with what I had lying around.  Therefore, I decided to order some new stuff:IMG_0400

I will not be using the scale unless I get a particularly large animal, and I’m curious about the weight.  Two years ago, I shot a nice 8-point buck in my yard, and he was a heavy boy!  I got 34 kilos, or 75 pounds, of meat off that animal.  Now, I used to hang deer by the neck, but after trying hanging them by the legs with an improvised gambrel, I’ve decided that it’s better for skinning (if not for quartering), so I’m going to do it right this year:IMG_0401

Below is the hideous and ineffective rig that I had to use last year.  Trust me, it looks *slightly* more functional when something is actually hanging from it.  Still not as good as those old wooden pulleys, though:IMG_0402

Anyway, here is the new hoist in place.  Given that both pulleys have four wheels, whereas my original setup had a three-wheel up top and a twin-wheel on the hook, I suspect this one will work even better:IMG_0404IMG_0405

I’m keeping the rope in my toolbox to get it out of the way:IMG_0406

Here is a picture of it with the scale on:IMG_0407

And this is how it will be set up for skinning and quartering:IMG_0408

Finally, I installed this tie-down to keep things secure:IMG_0409

Perhaps, if I owned a boat, I would remember how to properly tie this.  However, I can still do chin-ups on the gambrel, so it’s secure enough for my purposes.  I’m not going to be hanging anything bigger than whitetail from it, after all; not this year, anyway.

Steemit is a Bust, I’m Out for Now

HF20 has proven to be a total disaster, and since I have been on the site for only six months, I don’t have enough cryptocurrency saved up to continue functioning.  Therefore, until this debacle is sorted out, I’m suspending my activity there, and all the stuff I would normally post there is going to be back here on WordPress.  My biggest complaint, which I can’t voice because I have no resource credit, is HOW DO I FIND OUT HOW MUCH BLOODY RESOURCE CREDIT I HAVE?!  If you want more details about this nonsense, I suggest checking out some of the Steemit blog posts that Jacob Tothe has commented on.  Anyway, that’s all for now.

Second CAD Tutorial

The JN-2, which I’ve shared on this blog before, is the subject of my second CAD tutorial:

JN-2 Comparison

In this second lesson, I explain how to quickly switch back and forth between multiple part configurations, using the suspension on this fictional self-propelled artillery battery as an example.

I tried posting this on Steemit as soon as the video was up on BitChute, but with the blockchain upgrade, I had to either buy more Steem Power or wait. I chose to wait. Enjoy!