Over the last several months I’ve been fighting with a bout of depression, and more generally my degree has just taken a toll on my will to do any hobby work. Though now I’m finally overcoming the worse my depression and school is drawing to a close and it’s the perfect time to get back into the some hobbies.
Currently I waiting on a Kick starter I funded back in January 2013 called Kingdom Death: Monster (NSFW). Now this game much of its style, and its largely unparalleled quality are right up my alley, but it’s not coming until July, or if I’m unlucky August and the long wait has had some really negative impacts of my desire to sculpt and build my figurines along with running out of my primary sculpting materials I just put everything to the side. Along with my falling out with GW products (Who are doing a bit better these days in some regard but I suspect they still have some falling to do before they smarten up) I really haven’t had anything I’ve wanted to work on but that’s changed!
I’ve taken on project suggested by a friend to make a sky-clad woman with eldritch-powered bionic legs who kicks things to death for use in our kingdom death games. This gave me a good laugh at the time and I think it should be a lot of fun and will force me to practice a great deal of things I am currently lacking in. Proper human anatomy, proportions and faces being the top of that list of things to improve.
Though my supplies have only just been ordered so I’ll likely have to wait for a couple weeks as I finish my exams though to help keep the excitement I’ll share some tips I’ve pick up for those who want to do sculpting.
Heat hardening clays some in two main varieties I’m aware of.
Potters and sculpting clay:
While there are thousands of different formulations very few are actually meant for sculpting. I’m no expert on these however. Some people have had success with these and if it’s all that’s available give it a shot. When I’ve worked with them I have had little success and shrinkage, cracking and accidentally damaging your work are real problems. And be aware that clay drys, and while you can keep it moist for long periods of time it will eventually harden. As well if you have the choice pick a sculpting clay as they generally with have a much finer texture allowing you to smooth the surfaces and imprint a higher level of detail. finally be aware that while you don’t always have to fire your finished sculpture if you want it to be durable with will have to, and you need to design for it as well (the final sculpture can’t be too thick) and have a kiln.
These I work with more and they are great for kids (generally non-toxic, but check first) and simple works, and has the ability to be the tool of experts as well. Unlike clays these polymers don’t dry out (though they do harden if you let them sit for years). Again I don’t have more experience working with these polymer clays, but sculpt has a wide range I worked with and a large amount of colours if you don’t want to paint your finish product but want it to have colour. Though if you want something cheap and a lot of it super sculpty is a good place to start. It doesn’t hold the best detail, but it will give you a good place to start and you can move to more expensive polymers later if you want to, or need the extra detail. These guys can be oven fired, though invest in a oven thermometer has these polymer clays will burn if baked to long.
Self hardening putties:
The best thing about these guys is they are self hardening and tend to be far more robust then clays, while some can be on the brittle side and some can be a little too flexible if you’re making thin sections. Though the different putties tend to mix well so if you have a couple different kinds and need something with the qualities of two different putties you can just mix them together and get what you want.
You will also need to work in stages. While you can do a lot of work in a short time if you’re not careful you can easy damage work without noticing and have it harden on you before you can fix it. This can lead to a lot of lost progress and just as much cutting and filing to get back to a point where you can fix the damage. As such it’s also good to only work on one side at a time to prevent those damage from occurring in the first place.
Plumbers Putty (Don’t bother): You might be able to find this stuff all over, but it’s quality tends to vary wildly and even then it tends to be grainy and brittle. IF anything use this stuff as filler, but generally I just use tinfoil and/or a wire frame.
Probably the most common of these putties you can find it over prices in GW stores and all over the place in miniature store which sell games like Warhammer and War Machine. This stuff is great for organic shapes and hold a high level of detail. However it’s pretty flexible when hard and doesn’t hold sharp edges well without a little luck.
Far less common then green stuff, but a close cousin. Brown stuff is much harder has a longer curing time and can hold sharp edges better. It’s a good alternative if you’re planning to use for geometric shapes, or need something stronger then green stuff.
It’s cheap it’s strong it hold detail well (although it is more grainy). Good stuff to work with and it plays nice with the Kneadatite when mixed and used as a base. It take of their properties and loses a lot if it’s graininess. although it’s significantly more brittle then the Kneadatite putties. I have had a lot of success with this stuff.
This is relatively new stuff to me and I’ll be trying it out soon, not sure how it will work, but I haven’t heard anything bad so I suspect it will be somewhere between green stuff and Apoxiesculpt.
Also haven’t work with this, and it’s is more expensive. From what I understand it hold better detail and cures solid I suspect is more brittle though. However It’s supposedly very good stuff so if you see it don’t be a afraid to pick some up and give it a try.
To wrap up this post I’ll talk a bit about tools. Sculpting tools tend to be the easiest thing to find, and everything from your finger to a pen, to expensive handmade sculpting tools will do the job. I suggest buying cheap ones you can generally find at hardware stores (the bigger the store the better) most are different kinds of spatulas, others look more like spear point, and there tend to also be wire scrapers those a generally meant only removing material. Buy yourself set a cheap set with lot of different shape and play around finding what tools you like best. This you can consider buying more expensive tools. Also stick with stainless steel, as they tend to be superior to wood.
Lights, make sure you have excellent bright lighting for your sculpting, make a world of difference.
The final tool I’ll bring up is one you can build yourself and those are armatures. Thing of armatures as the skeleton of your sculpture. They can be simple twigs or they can be elaborate wire frames, but they can help a lot in laying out proportions, add strength, and can also prevent a lot of waste by bulking the sculpture out. Tooth picks, wire, tinfoil, or whatever you have around that you don’t mind losing to the innards of your project can be used to help give it its final shape. Armature are definitely not to be ignored.
(We’ve not being posting lately! don’t worry it’s just the end of the semester and we are swamped/exhausted our regular posting seclude will be back as soon as possible)
While this will not be growing into a series on our blog I have a few more opinions and ideas about taxation and what a fair society look like that I would like to share.
People will often cry unfair when they first learn about progressive taxing, suggesting flat taxes are more fair. On the face of thing this would seem patently true. Everyone has to pay the same amount in taxes proportional to their earning so that must be the fairest option. Right? Well here I’ll be arguing against this simple but common idea and explain why raising taxes on the richest of us impact them less then it does the when we raise taxes on poorest, and how the rich tend to reap more benefits from society than those with out as much capital.
So why does raising taxes affect the rich less severely than the poor?
To help me explain why first I’ll draw upon the reasons why I think flat taxes are not in fact as fair as they seem. Lets assume we have a flat tax of 10% like we have here in Alberta. Lets also introduce you to three people. Person A, B and C. Person A makes $10’000 a year, B Makes 100’000, and C makes 1’000’000. Because of the flat tax that means they each are actually earning 9’000, 90’000 and 900’000 a year after taxes. Of these three people who is most likely going to see a quality of life change due to paying 10% of there income. The point is 10% affect the lowest incomes far more then the highest incomes. 1000 means lot when all you have in 9000 dollars to work with, but 10’000 when you still have 90’000? That jump in pay is much easier to swallow.
People do not proportionally increase spending in line with their income. Humans can only consume so much, and after meeting you basic needs, then your desires for luxury goods, you can and generally will only spend so much on other things. This along with the fact most people who have become wealthy do not actively try to impoverish themselves it’s unavoidable that the wealthy are going to have a considerable amount of free capital with which they can use for any variety of purposes including increasing their own personal wealth. Where the poorer you are the more of you income will be spent on basic needs and luxury consumption with very little left to save or invest. As well those stats provided by NPR above, which classes the rich as anyone making over $150’000 a year. I suspect you can further break the rich into further brackets and while I lack numbers I wouldn’t be surprised to find the proportions of consumption in the extremely rich continue a downward trend while saving and investments go up disproportionately when compared to other groups.
This is also a part of why sales taxes hit the middle class harder. Why because they are the largest consumers by far have a good deal of disposable income. Even if the middle class consumes a sixth that the rich do per person the middle class out number the rich by far more then that, so a sale tax is going to generally be a burden on the largest consumers base ie. the middle class.
I’m not saying that saving, or having lots of money makes people bad, that not the issue here. The issue is that flat taxes, particularly sales taxes, tax the poor and middle class hardest, and if the poor have government supplements then most or all of that burden then gets shuffled to the middle class, while the rich who consume proportionally less and put those savings to work allowing them to make even more money.
The rich are best able to avoid the rat race and to avoid expenses out pacing income, hence this is part why I think it’s perfectly fair to expect that they put more back. They can avoid over spending easier. They have more time and resources, so raising taxes on the rich isn’t likely going to affect their quality of life. Though even if it does affect quality of life it’s effects are generally going to be miniscule so long as the tax rate are completely outrageous (though even if they are outrageous it’s not like it’s going to knock the rich into poverty if the change is gradual).
That said I can understand how that will sound unfair to some, so here’s why I think the rich benefit more from society and as such ought to pay more into the systems they derive their income.
Most of the things which we take for granted in the west are largely impossible, or would lack the inter connectivity and resilience with out a government. Gas, electricity, internet, water, roads, mail… To work efficiently and to reach many people you need society working together pooling resources to make everything consistent. That stability helps further stabilize and make it easier and easier keep thing in order, people expect it and people will put up with a great deal to maintain these convinces. Why? Because one we use to them and are adverse to change, but two because these systems benefit us. Though we don’t all benefit equally. Sure we all benefit from roads and the goods, but business and industry owners personally benefit considerably more. The same with the internet, electronic banking in general. These thing benefit us all as well. The speedy and safe exchange of funds makes life much simpler and remove a great deal of stress, but the average person does not draw much further benefit from these system other then, mostly government run, retirement and saving plans. Even then there tends to be far more restrictions on these plans and if done wrong which is not a rare event can cost the person more money then if they had just put the money in the bank. The wealthy on the other hand tend to have the resources and time to properly take advantage of existing systems (and influence politics in order to change those systems). This isn’t because they are over all smarter, it’s just they are in the know and are better able to hire others to do the work for them, or take the time away from their career necessary to get these tasks done.
I’m not willing to say that the rich benefiting more is a bad thing, but I don’t think you can make a compelling argument that the rich do not benefit more by these system and institutions. Though this increase benefit along with the simple fact that the wealthy can afford to pay more without it harming the quality of their lives form most the foundation for why I think they ought to pay more. It won’t hurt ’em and they get more out of anyway, but there is one other thing which I hold to be true. This final point is that it’s in our interest to improve the lives of those around us.
Consumption, innovation, progress. These thing are not things only done, or even primarily done, by the rich. Innovation and progress are pushed by human struggle, and consumption requiers a consumer base with enough income to support a consumer economy. As such you can not have a modern economy without a healthy middle class, and innovation often comes from the middle class in the form of researchers and engineers, who typically are in turn funded by the government in one way or another either directly through grants, or indirectly though education funding. Not to mention society is a much nicer place with a highly educated citizenry. Disease is reduced, violence goes down.
Healthy educated citizens make society safer and more efficient for everyone. They increase the overall healthy and productivity of society in a way a few extremely well off upper class could never do. Such a population is better able to rise to the challenges presented by the unknown and are often more resilient to disaster. The best way of doing these things as far as my experience can attest is universal education and healthcare of some manner, and you need taxes for that. And for the reasons presented before the wealthy are in the best position to give back more to society.
To briefly recap I think the rich ought to pay more for three primary reasons. First because increasing taxes on the rich, particularly the mega rich, affects them the least. Second because the rich benefit more from the majority of social structures like the legal system and even including the basic infrastructure that ties people together. Third because it is in everyone’s best interest to improve the lives of those around them as doing so will over all improve there lives.
By no means is this a complete look into why I think these things, but that is the basic premise.
This seems to be something that a lot of parents fail at. I spend a lot of time with people who identify as LGBT to one degree or another, and they all receive different levels of support from their parents. I personally don’t receive much support from my parents. The atheists that I know also receive different levels of support from their parents. Many of the people I know were raised in secular families, so they have no issues, but this is not the case with all the people I know. Even some of the people who prefer not to label themselves aren’t always supported. As such, I know a lot of people whose love for their children is very much conditional. I find this very sad.
As a parent, you want what’s best for your children. When your children turn away from the beliefs that you hold, or when they do something that goes against your beliefs, it is understandable to be afraid for them. But abandoning your children, or neglecting them, or making them feel as though they can’t rely on you, is not a solution to this problem. Be afraid for your children if you must, but love them unconditionally regardless. Hurt your children as little as possible, even if you feel hurt by them. You are their roll model. You are the person that your child should be able to turn to in times of need. I don’t remember the last time I was able to rely on my parents for anything. And I know a lot of people who don’t have the support of their own parents.
As a result of my experiences and the experiences of those around me, I refuse to allow myself the possibility to love them conditionally. I want to be there for any children I have. I want to be the first person they turn to when they need support. If they choose to become theists, or they get into a lot of trouble (these are the only two things I can think of that would genuinely bother me), I’m not going to let that get in the way of my relationship with my children.
My last post discussed the Bible. This one will focus on the Koran. So what does the Koran have to say? And why don’t atheists agree with it? Please keep in mind, this post is about the Koran and not about how terrible Islam is. Please do not leave Islamaphobic comments. And, if you are a Muslim and are unwilling to read criticism of your Holy book, please do not read this post (though I’m assuming I’ll have a lot less people automatically jumping to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about with this post).
For one, non-believers are treated as criminals deserving of death simply for not believing. Sura 2:191 says “You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict thems whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.” Basically this is saying that it is okay to kill non-believers. Now, this isn’t exactly an odd thing for a religious book to say: Deuteronomy 17:2-5 says “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” However, the concept that a person is deserving of death simply for not believing is incredibly problematic. Sura 4:101 parrots the view that unbelievers deserve to be killed. It says “When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.” The act of simply not agreeing with your religion makes us enemies? That’s a scary thought. Though, what’s even scarier is that some people actually agree with this passage. I can’t help but feel that any person who believes that my disagreeing with them makes me the enemy is dangerous, because I don’t know what they might do to me. Sura 5:33 says “Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter.” What constitutes waging war? If this is referring to actual physical attacks, then, while I don’t agree with the methods, I do agree that defending oneself is acceptable. However, I do not agree that anything less than physical attack is deserving of this kind of treatment. The problem with this passage is that it doesn’t clarify what making war means, and earlier passages suggest that simple non-belief is enough to be considered the enemy. Sura 9:29 adds to this concern by stating that “Fight those who do not believe in Allah-until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a states of subjection with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” Basically, attack non-believers for no better reason than because they are non believers, and make them submit to your will and become your slave. Apparently making people believe like this is easier than, I dunno, revealing yourself to the world? Sura 9.123 goes so far as to say “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you.” Really? Kill your loved ones for no better reason than because they don’t agree with you? That seems a bit harsh.
The Koran also has some problematic things to say about the rights of women. In Sura 2:282 it says “Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses.” Basically, women are only half as trustworthy as men. And Sura 4:34 says “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” This is saying that women are created to be the slaves of men. Women are not allowed to be self-sufficient and instead must rely on men, and they must do as the men bid them do. Again, this is not an odd concept for a Holy book. 1 Peter 3:1 says “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” And 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 says “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” The problem with this type of passage isn’t the context, it’s that people still believe it today. People still believe that women should be subservient to men. This is why these passages are a problem.
Like the Bible, the Koran also has some issues with its scientific accuracy. In Sura 12:4 Joseph apparently saw eleven planets in a dream he had. There aren’t 11 planets in our solar system. There are 8 planets and possibly as many as 100 dwarf planets (though there are at least 5). Sura 21:33 claims that the sun floats in an orbit around the earth. We know that this is not true. And Sura 27:61 says that the earth is fixed and does not move. Again, we know this is not true. The earth revolves around the sun. Like the Bible, these are only issues for those who take the Koran literally. However, there seem to be a larger percent of Muslims who claim that the Koran is scientifically accurate then there are Christians who say the same of the Bible.
All of the problems I presented are reasons why atheists don’t agree with the Koran. Thugh the biggest reason is simply that we don’t find the god claim compelling. We do not believe that there is enough evidence to support believing in Allah, just like we don’t believe the Bible provides enough evidence to believe in God.