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.

A Point or Two About Art and Propaganda

Two subjects which are not always mutually exclusive.  Now then, before I get into the meat of my argument, I would direct you to this video by Razörfist.  I’m no expert on the history of Hollywood, but Razör has proved that his knowledge of history in other areas is at least equal to my own, so I consider him a reliable source.  “Trust but verify” is my motto when it comes to the YouTubers whose channels I frequent, but I have no idea when I’m going to get around to the “verify” part for this one.

Finished watching the video?  Good.  Now for some background in how I managed to get involved in all of this.  See, I was raised Christian (though my mother recently discovered that she’s Jewish), but my parents are both scientists, and religion was never the defining factor of our characters.  I was always rather sceptical of certain things that “fellow” Christians would tell me, and I never once took the Bible literally.  Then I had my first encounter with a young-Earth creationist at the age of 12.  For the next few years, my dealings with these people got worse and worse, to the point where I began to dismiss Christians as a whole as either brainwashed sheep at best, or unhinged cult leaders at worst.  At the same time, I came to the realisation that, since I was never fully convinced of the existence of any sort of deity, I have effectively always been an atheist.  For a few years of my life, surrounded by these nutters with no escape in sight, I was habitually watching YouTube videos debunking creationism in a vain attempt to learn how to argue with these people.  Then I got away, and I stopped watching these videos.  Years later, however, the Amazing Atheist made a video about Anita Sarkeesian, and I thought “who’s this nutter?”  Little did I know, she wasn’t another young-Earth creationist, but a different type of con-artist entirely.  I had never heard her name until that time, and given that I don’t play the types of games that she criticised in her early career, I didn’t really care.  Then I discovered that a huge percentage of the miniatures on Shapeways were for Warhammer 40K.  I’ve never played any of the 40K games, but I know a thing or two about the lore.  Since I love grim-dark, 40K is a perfect match for me.  I wasn’t on Shapeways for very long before I, too, was taking requests for wargaming miniatures.  Granted, mine are historical models, mainly sailing ships and WWII Soviet heavy tanks, not 40K miniatures, but I’m nonetheless involved with tabletop wargaming, and I believe in defending the hobby.  At first, I thought that the Sarkeesians of the world were concerned with scantily clad female video game characters, and thus 40K and other tabletop games were safe from politically correct whitewashing.  Then I saw this.  Videos such as this were basically my initiation into the more political side of YouTube.  Several other YouTubers who frequently tackle politics also started out in other subjects, such as Dave Cullen of Computing Forever, who started out making tech reviews.  Razörfist himself started out (on YouTube, anyway, seeing as he actually majored in political science) making video game and music reviews before starting to talk about politics (again).

The reason I decided to bring up Razör’s video about Hollywood is simply because of my knowledge from the Soviet side of the unholy marriage that socialism and the arts have.  See, without the system of patronage that existed throughout the Renaissance, artists of the modern day must rely on some other source of income.  Since production companies that allow for unrestricted artistic works are exceedingly expensive to operate, some semblance of patronage must be put in place.  Since people like art, the Soviet government took over said production companies and publicly funded all of the artists.  Since this arrangement benefitted the artists, artists who would dare to make pieces criticising communism were extremely rare.  Naturally, the few dissenting voices were quickly silenced.  However, much of the art made in the Soviet Union had nothing to do with communist propaganda, with a tremendous portion of it re-telling old folk tales in the form of animated films.  I have an entire stack of VHS tapes with some of these films, and only one of them has political undertones.  It is called Фока – на все руки дока (Foka – na vsye ruki doka) from 1972.  You can watch it here, and I suggest you do, even if you don’t speak Russian.  The plot is that the Tsar has several problems he needs solved, and two nobles offer up their solutions, both hoping to be rewarded with the princess’s hand.  All three are bumbling fools, and it is the blacksmith who saves the day every time.  Even when I first watched it at the age of eight, I picked up on the ideological tone of the bumbling nobility and the humble worker.  I’ve never seen any other Russian cartoons, aside from actual propaganda films made during the war, that have such a political message, though I’m sure plenty exist.  See, people need their entertainment, and the Soviet quasi-oligarchy had different tastes from the proletariat, hence the government’s preservation of ballet and opera, two art forms which were initially threatened because of their bourgeois, non-Russian origins.  Anyone who has seen the film Утомлённые Солнцем (Utomlënniye Solntsem), known in the English-speaking world as “Burnt by the Sun” (not an accurate translation) probably remembers the discussion about the stigma attached to the sports of golf and tennis, with only football being acceptable.  This is a perfect analogue for the stigma surrounding opera and ballet during the same period of history.

The reason that I call artists’ unions an “unholy marriage” is simply because, be it in Hollywood or Leningrad, true artistic creativity is not allowed.  Anything old that hasn’t “aged well” is either revised or tossed into the memory hole (Disney’s “interpretation” of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is probably the best-known example), and anything new that does not conform to modern doctrine is deemed unsuitable for public view, never mind whether or not it is something the public would actually like, hence Hollywood’s increasing irrelevance in a country that is utterly sick of the tripe that the city continues to produce.  The problem exists today in Russia as well, though to a lesser extent.  I remember an article from an issue of Opera News telling that certain Russian musicians were complaining about being blacklisted after criticising Vladimir Putin on social media.  Criticising the Russian government has never been a good idea, regardless of who is in charge.  Given that the Russian public and leadership leans further to the right than even most Americans, they are at odds with the artists.  The same can be seen in the US, with Hollywood constantly criticising not only President Donald Trump, but also the “unwashed, blithering masses” who voted for him.  In both countries, the artists continue to lean left, and are quite vocal about their discontent in the event that the country at large leans to the right, even if it is merely temporary.  The masses, meanwhile, are more interested in being entertained than being condescended to by their entertainers.  The attitude in the US toward Hollywood is almost identical to the attitude in Russia toward St. Petersburg – not only do we not think like you, we don’t particularly care for it; get off your soap-box and tell us a bloody story, or we’ll stop giving you money.

I have more I’d like to say on this subject, but I will either save that for a future post, or it will be in my responses to your comments – assuming that anyone actually bothers to comment in the first place.

Aircraft Carriers Belong with Battleships – In Museums

I promised not to do more posts like this already, but that’s gone out the window after less than six months.  I decided that I had to write my own piece on this subject, after reading two posts on other blogs.  Both are fairly recent, the first being one that I actually commented on, and the second is a rather informative one about cruise missiles, which ended up making a good portion of my argument for me.

You finished reading?  Good.  Now, while MSW over at Weapons and Warfare is taking his information from a fairly old source, one which derides missile cruisers as “poor man’s” weapons platforms, his article is otherwise of a more factual nature, and unquestionably accurate.  W. J. Astore, on the other hand, is bit more opinionated, as he typically is on the subject of the US military.  I find myself caught between two worlds: on one side, I detest runaway government spending simply because I live in the United States, and I don’t support all the wars the country is involved in.  On the other, the last company I worked for was a secondary defense contractor, supplying parts for Lockheed Martin and other companies like that.  Were it not for cartoonish levels of spending on the military in this country, I would probably still be looking for a job.  The company I’m currently looking into is not at all involved with the DoD, as far as I know.  Since I am a manufacturing engineer with expertise in the aerospace industry, finding a job outside of DoD influence is surprisingly difficult.  Were I a shipbuilder, as I had contemplated becoming at one point, the pickings would be just as slim.  Anyway, enough background – what follows is my argument.

The nature of naval warfare changed more during the 20th century than it did during the rest of history combined.  First came the dreadnoughts, “eggshells armed with sledgehammers,” as Sir Winston Churchill liked to call them, as they were far more powerful than all previous battleships.  They were so powerful, in fact, that unlike previous capital ships, they could not withstand the type of punishment they could dish out.  After the dreadnoughts came submarines, which had been explored conceptually as early as the 16th century, with experimental ships being built in the late 18th and mid 19th centuries, but it was not until World War I that submarines finally became practical.  The Kriegsmarine demonstrated the devastating power of the submarine against both warships and supply ships belonging to Great Britain and her allies, though the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by U-20 in 1915 helped to draw the US into the war, putting the Central Powers in a much more difficult position than they already were.  What followed was a twenty-year period of both sides re-arming (with some governments being overthrown in the process), and the world was once again at war.  This time, however, the great new threat was the aeroplane.  Plenty of anti-submarine defenses had been developed, making it easier for surface ships to combat them, though that did not make subs any less deadly.  However, with the advent of torpedo planes, which possessed the same offensive capability as submarines but were even harder to defend against, it became clear that any navy wishing to gain control of the seas would have to gain control of the skies first.  This was made painfully apparent in the Pacific Theatre, as both the USN and IJN deployed aircraft carriers.  The IJN, however, devoted tremendous resources to building battleships as well, the largest and most powerful battleships ever, in fact, the Yamato and Musashi, both of which were sunk by dive-bombers.  The German battleship Bismarck was also sunk by dive-bombers.  Hindsight is 20-20, as they say, and no-one reasonable today would oppose the view that battleships are obsolete.

The aircraft carrier became the most powerful warship during World War II, since it could carry fighters to gain control of the skies, and bombers to strike enemy cities and military installations.  Furthermore, since aeroplanes had already proven themselves against powerful warships, this meant that the aircraft carrier itself could be used as the main offensive force for naval operations, and that all other ships would effectively be support for the carrier, protecting it from nimble torpedo boats and stealthy submarines.  However, World War II was not going to repeat itself.  Military leaders around the world in the 1920’s prepared for a repeat of World War I, and intended on fighting this next conflict in the exact same manner.  Those old tactics produced disastrous results, and became clear that such traditions would have to be killed off, otherwise World War III was not only guaranteed to happen, but it would be exponentially worse than World War II – I would personally put a conservative estimate at 300 million deaths for a nuclear war.  Thankfully, that war never took place.

The Soviet Union and United States threatened each other with total annihilation for much of the Cold War, with occasional lulls when both governments were busy trying to silence an anti-war public.  What?  You think I’m going to give either one a pass?  The Soviet Union outright invaded Hungary in 1956 (the year my mother was born, coincidentally, but more important was that my grandfather was kicked out of his home country for participating in the protests) and Czechoslovakia in 1968 for supporting decidedly anti-Soviet governments.  Stateside, baby boomers spent the 60’s and 70’s dropping blood or acid at hard rock concerts while their hapless folks tried to legislate hippies away.  Yeah, they both sucked, but when the winter is cold, you have plenty of gold, and you’re standing in line for a loaf of bread, I guess the US sucked a bit less.  Anyway, what has this to do with ships?  I’m getting there!

The USA and USSR were engaged in a contest of pomp and circumstance for nearly half a century.  The Soviets had satellites that hapless Americans believed were watching their every move, or worse, waiting to strike with some unknown force.  Meanwhile, the Americans had their navy, with aircraft carriers expanding nearly as fast as everyone’s beltlines to accommodate larger numbers of larger planes that carried larger missiles.  It’s showy, and as MSW pointed out, it was a better weapon platform in the early days, but as technology advanced, missiles needed to be launched from greater distances to keep pilots out of harm’s way.  It would seem that with these greater distance requirements, and the technology to make long-range guidance possible, a navy would be better off launching all its missiles from dedicated missile ships, rather than wasting money on planes.  Well, that’s certainly the approach the Soviets took!  Perhaps it was, at first, to reduce cost, but in the long run, it works better.

I’m not going to present the cost argument here, because it wouldn’t mean anything.  For instance, the two most advanced next-generation main battle tanks in the world are the South Korean K-2 Black Panther and the Russian T-14 Armata.  At a cost of $8.5 million, the K-2 is the most expensive tank in the world by far (as of this writing, anyway).  In comparison, the T-14 costs $3.7 million, and I could break down, point-by-point (based on what isn’t classified information, of course), why I think the T-14 is a better tank.  Therefore, I will not be presenting such a pedantic argument on the subject of warships, though I still think $14 billion (price tag on a modern aircraft carrier) is a bit excessive.  What I will do, instead, is make my argument based on the support cost.  An aircraft carrier is a huge ship, displacing over 100 000 tonnes, and is the largest type of warship ever built by far.  Therefore, it is a huge target, meaning that no anti-ship missile need be particularly accurate in order to hit it, though modern countermeasures make that virtually impossible.  The aircraft carrier is also an offensive warship, not a defensive one, as torpedo boat destroyers are.  Modern military aircraft have sufficient range to defend any given land territory from incoming enemy ships, which eliminates the need for carriers as part of “defense.”  Ever notice how well-armed the US Coast Guard is?  It needs to be, given that the US Navy is always busy gallivanting about the seven seas.  In terms of offense, however, one would see an aircraft carrier coming from half a world away, given all the support ships surrounding it.  It’s a slow and expensive process to equip an entire naval task force centred about an aircraft carrier for a strike against an enemy, and for what?  Ultimately, the entire group of ships acts in support of the planes to launch missiles from a “safe distance” at targets.

On the other hand, a missile cruiser is a medium-sized warship that can deliver its weapons unaided by aircraft (one could argue that GPS makes the ship reliant on satellites, but I’m going to ignore that), and is much more innocuous in appearance.  For the same infrastructure and operating cost as an aircraft carrier, one can build a tremendous number of missile cruisers, and the true focus of production will then be to produce the same sophisticated missiles as before, but in much greater numbers.  With more missiles, the fleet will have much greater destructive capacity.

I may have grown up in the United States, but I’m far too Russian to understand the American mindset, therefore I really can’t make an argument in the context of modern warfare in favour of the aircraft carrier.  It seems to me that the technology has existed for decades to phase the old navy practises out, in favour of adopting “strike teams” of multiple missile cruisers, yet that hasn’t actually happened.  By the way, for the few of you reading who don’t already know this, a “task force” is a group comprised of different elements, be they soldiers, vehicles, planes, or ships, and a “strike team” is comprised of identical elements.  About the only thing I can think of is that the US military prides itself on having high personnel standards, while the Russians seek to eliminate human error by eliminating as many humans as possible from the equation!

Fighting Vehicles of the Nine Empires, Part 5: The Jenůfa Nószimål Gun

So, it took a bit longer than I had hoped, mainly because I had a willow tree in my yard come down, and the past few days were quite nice, so I was busy cleaning that up and doing some other yardwork as well.  Now that it’s all cleaned up, I’ve finally managed to finish the Nószimål tanks.  If I ever get my recording software running, I’ll explain exactly why this shouldn’t have taken so long, given the methods I used to render each variant of the JN-2 specifically.  ANYWAY, enough of that, time for the story!

The Jenůfa Nószimål gun was the brain-child of Kveta Vamaruchenko, one of the most prominent arms manufacturers for the Alexandrian Empire.  Vamaruchenko had connections in high places, such as her brother, Admiral Pavel Vamaruchenko, one of the leading commanders of the Imperial Airship Fleet.  Kveta was best-known for her flying triremes, but prior to developing those, she had built guns: BIG guns, ranging from 75mm field artillery to 305mm naval cannons.  Vamaruchenko was a brilliant inventor and shrewd businesswoman, and ended up working closely with Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov to modernise the Alexandrian military.  While Karamazov worked on designing dreadnoughts to bring the navy up to date, Vamaruchenko pitched the idea of self-propelled artillery, citing the photographs smuggled out of recently-conquered Taressimian territory via Turro, a city on Sondor’s eastern border that Taressim had just seized.  The newspapers in Turro circulated millions of copies of photographs depicting the terrifying trench tanks throughout Sondor before the city fell.  Armoured vehicles were nothing new, of course, as the Bulmutians had the Dwarven Battlewagon and the Karadenians had the more impressive Iron Turtle, but Taressim was the first Rossberan power to use armoured vehicles in war.

Rumour had it that a few small countries that Taressim recently gobbled up had used armoured cars in their resistence efforts, but no actual tank vs. tank battles had taken place, at least not for another few months.  As terrifying as they seemed, no armoured vehicle at the time mounted a gun bigger than 75mm, and tank guns that big were typically howitzers, not cannons.  “Pop guns,” Vamaruchenko sneered, “if a vehicle can be made to tow heavy artillery, then one can be made that mounts it.”  The Arcadians had already done it, but their 305mm self-propelled howitzer had no armour to speak of, and therefore it had the same disadvantage as traditional artillery.  Vamaruchenko’s solution was this:

JN-1 1JN-1 2JN-1 3JN-1 4

The vehicle was produced as Object 109-KV, as Vamaruchenko had a policy within her factories that new projects be labelled in the order that they were drawn up, followed by the initials of the designer.  Given it’s function, however, the vehicle was called the SAU (samokhodnaja artillerijskaja ustanovka – self-propelled artillery gun) after about five minutes.  The decision to add the Rhûnnish Grand Marshal’s name took considerably longer, and Vamaruchenko didn’t actually think of it until the demonstration to Tsarina Belëna Karamazova, when the latter asked what the vehicle’s name was.  No-one had the slightest reason to object, so the name stuck.

The JN-SAU was armed with a 155mm howitzer, which was an unusual calibre for the Alexandrian Imperial Army, but it also meant that the specialised shells had to come from Vamaruchenko’s own factories, and no-one else’s.  The vehicle had a 30mm thick steel hull, with a turret of varying thickness.  The steel was 100mm thick in the front, then gradually tapered to 50mm at the sides, which remained constant around the back, including the doors.  This made the JN-SAU one of the most heavily-armoured vehicles on the continent, second only to the Iron Turtle.  Though Stanislav Karamazov was somewhat concerned, Vamaruchenko told him that he had nothing to worry about, as the Iron Turtle would not have had cross-country performance half as good as the JN-SAU, given its design.  Stanislav was sceptical, at least until the Battle of Shiamazdu in the Karadenian borderlands.

The Battle of Shiamazdu proved Vamaruchenko’s point about the Iron Turtle, and no-one ever doubted the effectiveness of all-around tracks ever again.  However, there were far more important lessons to take away from that battle than simple tank design.  Vamaruchenko, therefore, hastily finished designing another vehicle before devoting all of her time to working on airships.  This vehicle became known as the JN-2, while the JN-SAU was retroactively named JN-1.  There were two basic designs, the JN-2 SAB and JN-2 TO.  SAB stands for samokhodnaja artillerijskaja batareja, or self-propelled artillery battery, and TO stands for transpórt oruzhija, or weapons transport.  In my most recent Steemit post, I explain exactly how they are used.  Essentially, while the JN-1 was designed as a breakthrough tank, similar to the Taressimian trench tank but with much greater firepower, the JN-2 was designed to stay a bit further back and provide heavy supporting fire.  Granted, the JN-2 could get much closer to the front line than traditional artillery, and Vamaruchenko made the case that an artillery battery that could do this would be much more valuable, since it could help to push back enemy forces much more quickly than long-range bombardment.

Below is the JN-2 SAB, followed by the JN-2 TO.  They were produced under industrial designations 110-KV and 111-KV, respectively.

JN-2 1JN-2 TO

The text, in case you’re wondering, is Rhûnnish.  It is not a one-to-one analogue of Cyrillic, and I might explain how it works in a later post.

Unlike the JN-1, the JN-2 had the driver in the middle on an elevated platform.  The engine was also in the middle, connected to a three-speed reversing gearbox, meaning that it had three speeds in both directions.  Though the drive sprocket was officially at the rear, since the driver could spin around and have access to a second set of controls exactly opposite the first, what one calls the front and rear of this vehicle is quite academic, really.  The only mechanical element that truly mattered was the torsion bar suspension, though this wasn’t the case for long.

The JN-2 was not ready for the invasion of Drachania, but it was deployed all the way to Druck’s wall on the northern border of Taressim after Drachania fell.  The war was going well, it seemed (for as well as war can ever go, truly), until Sondor started to crumble from the top down.  The child emperor, Qors Azul, was poisoned at a victory banquet while delivering a speech in thanks to his generals for retaking the city of Turro and dealing a heavy blow to Taressimian forces.  He also reminded his guests that he had friends in high places, and should any of them have him assassinated, then Prince Linnus Rodilos of Arcadia, who was present at the banquet, would take his place.  Naturally, this led his mother, the Empress Regent, to blame Prince Linnus for her son’s death, and she had him executed, effectively declaring war on Arcadia.  Sondor had previously been the unstable lynch-pin holding the peace, since the Empress Regent had already sold glossarion levitator technology to Bulmut, gaining an alliance at the cost of her freedom (she was convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to house arrest).  With the Arcadian alliance shattered, but the Bulmutian alliance still intact, the war briefly changed from east vs. west to north vs. south.  Then the Alexandrian Empire suddenly found itself consumed by a brutal civil war known as the Karamazov Conflict, which saw the Bulmutians allied first with the exiled Grand Duchess Rubina Karamazova, and later the renegade Lord Admiral Stanislav Karamazov.  Since Alexandrian metallurgy was not the most advanced, Kveta Vamaruchenko had been getting the alloys for the torsion bars in her vehicles from Bulmut.  She left Dmitri Zradnyev in charge of vehicle and gun production while she was busy with other things, having gotten herself wrapped up in Alexandrian politics (and dealing with difficult politicians very efficiently).

Zradnyev decided that the easiest solution to this problem was to put a different suspension on the vehicles, replacing the torsion bars with double-bogies.  Since the JN-2 was designed with nine pairs of road wheels, and there simply wasn’t enough room for five bogies, the new versions of the SAB and TO, Objects 112-DZ and 113-DZ, respectively, had only eight pairs of road wheels each.  No-one was particularly happy about this, since the large double bogies made it impossible to get in and out of the side hatches, see below:

JN-2 all four

Vamaruchenko was understandably annoyed when she heard about this, but there wasn’t a whole lot she could do as long as Alexandria and Bulmut were at war.  As soon as she could, however, she stocked up on as much of the proper alloys as she possibly could.  Zradnyev simply couldn’t understand why, even though Vamaruchenko told him “torsion bars are the best.  Give it time, everyone will be using them.”

After the Karamazov Conflict ended, Vamaruchenko casually gave orders to produce two new experimental vehicles, the JN-3 and JN-4.  Both were based on the JN-1, but with an additional pair of road wheels, a bigger engine, better transmission, and thicker armour.  JN-3 kept the same turret, while JN-4 mounted a lower and wider turret to house two smaller guns.  Since she had specified a new requirement of 75mm frontal armour and 70mm side armour for the new hull, that “better transmission” part took a very long time.  Meanwhile, preliminary tests with a JN-4 turret on a JN-1 hull showed that it was simply too cramped to operate a pair of 75mm guns, much less anything bigger.  Therefore, the JN-4 was never actually built.

The only tank of the series to actually see combat against other armoured vehicles was the JN-1.  This was during the Karamazov Conflict, when it saw action against Dwarven Battlewagons.  The latter were slightly faster, and given that they frequently acted as artillery tractors, towing 150mm field guns, one could argue that they could deliver the exact same firepower to the battlefield.  On their own, however, the two vehicles were not suited to fighting each other.  The 155mm howitzer, while certainly powerful enough to destroy a battlewagon even without scoring a direct hit, was slow to load and aim.  Meanwhile, the battlewagon could conceivably knock out a JN-1 with a hit to the side from the 75mm hull howitzer, but it had to be close.  The best they ever actually did was damage the running gear, pinning the JN-1 down long enough for other guns to take it out, such as Tuhur’s Trumpet, a 420mm howitzer that defended the bridge-fortress of Bront Mehan.  Only 2 JN-1s were lost during the border fighting before Stanislav Karamazov outflanked the loyalist forces, capturing General Boris Uborov and ending the border fighting.

Much like the Dwarven Battlewagon, the JN-1 (and, to a lesser extent, the JN-2) remained competitive until very late in the Great Rossberan War, when far more advanced armoured vehicles appeared.

Airship Database

This post is the beginning of an airship database of the Nine Empires.  It will constantly be subject to change, and a shortcut will be under the “Nine Empires” tab at the top of my site.

From left to right, the columns denote faction, type of airship, number of levitators, and names of indivual ships/models available.  I had offered some of them in 1/1000 scale in black high-definition acrylate and some of them in 1/700 scale in laser-sintered nylon, with a large overlap.  Since Shapeways seems to have stopped with the former material, some of the models below may no longer be available.

Bulmutian Regency Wasp 6
Hornet 8
Battlecruiser 36 (2 rows) Hafthorskald
Alexandrian Empire Royal trireme 30 (3 rows) Argo
Royal reserve trireme
Trireme 30 (3 rows) 1/700
Imperial trireme 36 (3 rows) Gnyev
Drachanian Empire Does not operate glossarian airships N/A N/A
Kantossi Democratic League
Taressimian Martial State Does not operate glossarian airships N/A N/A
Karadenian Empire Flying galleon 10 Prototype
Production variant
Golden flagship
Flying galleas 12
Sondorian Empire Ram galley 14
Ram bireme 22 (2 rows) 1/700
Siege bireme 22 (2 rows) 1/700
Heavy siege bireme 28 (2 rows)
Arcadian Empire Gunship 4
Siege galley 20
Assault bireme 26 (2 rows)
Quadrireme 100 (4 rows)
Republic of Breace
Nala Independence Coalition
??? Black trireme 36 (3 rows) Zaphnora
Assault carrier 36 (2 rows)  

Breace and the NIC also operate glossarian airships as well, though I haven’t decided what kind yet.  The flagship of the NICAF is the bireme Soluqais, a former Sondorian airship, but that’s all I’ve come up with.  The Kantossi, on the other hand, operate glossarian airships but don’t build them.  Their air force consists of ships they’ve bought from other countries, and I haven’t figured out which those are yet, since I have yet to fully construct Kantossa’s role in the story.  They temporarily ally with Karaden to seize the east coast of Drachania, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

You may have noticed that my most popular airships, the plane balloons, flying caravels, and Aeronautical Development are not on this list.  That is because this is strictly a military database, and those other airships are all civilian craft.  By the way, I will eventually include the Taressimian dirigibles as well, but I haven’t even made them yet.

Surface Ship Database

This post is the beginning of a surface ship database of the Nine Empires.  It will constantly be subject to change, and a shortcut will be under the “Nine Empires” tab at the top of my site.

The left column denotes the faction, the middle is the ship’s type, and the right column denotes the ships available available.  I decided to not include the scales, since I may eventually add different scale options to my ships.  Currently, however, all of the ships below are available in 1/700 scale only.

Bulmutian Regency Citadel-class battlecruiser Garthilde
Alexandrian Empire Monarch-class dreadnought Monarch-class
Nadezhda-class dreadnought Nadezhda
Drachanian Empire    
Kantossi Democratic League    
Taressimian Martial State Landlocked country N/A
Karadenian Empire Ironclad ship-of-the-line Selsequenter
Invictus-class battleship Invictus (original)
Invictus (as salvage ship)
Oermida-class cruiser Oermida
Sondorian Empire Side-wheel river battleship  
River cruiser Rectangular casemate
Round casemate
Octagonal casemate
Enforcer-class river dreadnought QAL Angnor
QAL Forostel
Sovereign-class sea dreadnought QAL Mordu
QAL Arqaxie
Arcadian Empire    
Republic of Breace    

As you can probably guess, this list needs a lot more work than the previous one.  Furthermore, many of the above models are subject to change.  I started adding anchors and other details a while ago, but I have since had other things to work on.  I’m in no rush, seeing as most of these are quite expensive.  The only ones I’ve sold have been river cruisers.

Vehicle Database

This post is the beginning of a vehicle database of the Nine Empires.  It will constantly be subject to change, and a shortcut will be under the “Nine Empires” tab at the top of my site.  Please note that there are more than nine factions listed – spoiler alert, other factions spring up over the course of the story.

The left column denotes the faction, the middle is the vehicle’s name, and the right column denotes the variants available.  There is little to no rhyme or reason behind what I actually put there besides the scale, but any links you click on will take you to the product page in my Shapeways shop.

Bulmutian Regency Dwarven battlewagon 1/100 kerosene version
1/100 steam version
Alexandrian Empire JN-1 SAU 1/100 Object 109-KV
JN-2 SAB 1/100 Object 110-KV (hull)
1/100 Object 112-DZ (hull)
JN-2 TO 1/100 Object 111-KV
1/100 Object 113-DZ
Drachanian Empire Does not operate armoured vehicles  N/A
Kantossi Democratic League Does not operate armoured vehicles  N/A
Taressimian Martial State Trench tank 1/100 early trial model
Command tank
APC 1/100 solid model
Karadenian Empire Iron Turtle 1/100 solid model
War Wagon 1/100
Sandcrab tank Mk1
Sandcrab tank Mk2 1/100 early trial model
Cruiser tank
Sondorian Empire Landing tank
Arcadian Empire Locomotive fort 1/100 dual-purpose model
Republic of Breace
Nala Independence Coalition
??? LVS (light tank)
SBI (medium tank destroyer)
TVS (heavy tank)
TBI (heavy tank destroyer)
ShU (assault howitzer)
Gadfly Gun 1/100 Not for sale yet

Some things I have deliberately left off this chart for now.  As I am now uploading short posts more frequently on Steemit, you can keep up with my models there from now on.  Meanwhile, I will use WordPress for sharing the long, drawn-out stories about several vehicles at a time.  Whenever I do so, I will have a reminder at the end of each related post to check back at this database to see what I have come up with.  By the way, I’m going to do the exact same thing for airships and surface ships.

Toys in the Attic, I am Crazy

You know, I promised that I wouldn’t make any more posts like this, but after a conversation I had the other day, I must once again turn to the endless insanity of the internet in search of an answer.  So, I just finished making some changes to my T-10 model, and I’ve released it as the T-10M in my Shapeways shop.  Here are some pictures:


Now, whenever I release a new model for purchase, I post it to my public profile, usually with a cute message.  “Gentlemen, BEHOLD” is a running gag, even though I am well aware that a good number of my customers are female – and no, not just because I sell jewellry, I’ve had female customers buy tanks as well.  Why do I bring this up?  You may as well ask why I decided to use lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “The Trial” as the title of this post!

See, I have this bizarre wish – I’d like to own a tank.  Money is not the problem, really, though I imagine a T-10 goes for a lot more than a T-55, just because of the weight alone.  Rarity is another issue entirely, why else would a T-55, in running condition no less, go for $20K, when an M4 Sherman goes for several million?  The issue for me is that I don’t have a place to put one.  Furthermore, I have a bridge on either end of my road, each with a weight limit of 27 tonnes.  To make things even worse, every time I get comfortable enough with another person to mention this strange pipe dream of mine, they look at me as if I just slapped them in the face with a dead ferret.

Look, I have to know, why do people get upset when you tell them that you own, or would like to own, something that isn’t mainstream, particularly a weapon?  I know that it’s not a matter of necessity, since there are lots of things that people love to spend money on things that they don’t need!  Look, I live in a country that has been criticised from within and without about its gun laws, which are among the most lenient in the world (though not compared to a lot of Eastern European countries, but that’s a topic I will probably never get into on this blog), so why is it that people don’t bat an eye if I tell them that I own several guns, but the little cogs inside their head get jammed when I tell them that I also own swords?

On the subject of the tank, I usually ask “why do you have a two-seat convertible sports car taking up space in your garage when you have a family of four?  You want to talk pointless?  Let’s talk pointless.  What is the point of a 30-round magazine on a hunting rifle?  I was always taught ‘one shot, one kill,’ and until last year, that’s how it was, when I needed a second shot to deliver a mercy killing to a mortally-wounded deer.  Look, I understand the appeal of semi-automatic rifles, I really do.  I’ve used an AK-47 for target practise many times, and it’s fun.  However, I never understood the point of a rifle that is supposedly so accurate that you could shoot out the bottom of an empty shell casing at 500 metres without touching the sides.  Maybe the rifle really is that good, but unless you can hold yourself still as a statue long enough to take aim, all of your ballistic calculations are correct, and nothing interferes with all this, what is the bloody point?  Seriously, if you tell me “it doesn’t have to have a point,” then I can say the exact same thing about my tank.  I don’t need a good reason to own a tank, or any reason at all beyond “tanks are cool, and I want one.”

I’m not actually trying to justify my desire to own a tank (preferably a T-10M, but if someone dropped a KV-2 or IS-2 in my lap, I wouldn’t refuse either), I’m trying to figure out why some impractical things are acceptable to own, and others are not.  Money obviously isn’t the issue, since tanks, swords, and single-shot rifles (all things I like) are considerably cheaper than convertible sports cars and off-road vehicles (things that are apparently acceptable to wish for).  Seriously, is it just because I don’t understand people?  Would I even have to ask this question if I still lived in Russia?