Is this thing on?

Does anyone ever read this any more? I’m increasingly under the impression that the only people who ever actually read this any more are strangers who have stumbled on some of the modelling posts when Googling for pictures of Epic models.

I’m just wondering whether I ought to try and re-organise things a bit to separate the hobby stuff (which might be of interest to strangers) from the more personal stuff. Possibly even just retiring the latter category entirely and making this just a dedicated hobby blog.

Seeing as I only post two or three times a year these days, I don’t really expect anyone to follow it closely any more, but I’m increasingly doubtful that anyone ever reads it at all.

Refurbishment

Last week, I paid a guy £30 to stab a needle through the middle of my tongue. He left a piece of metal rod lodged in the wound.

This is the third such stabbing I have received since the end of June. Furthermore, back in July I got a guy to repeatedly stab my wrists with an electric needle covered in ink.

None of these procedures served any useful purpose whatsoever. They are purely decorative, an endeavour rather akin to arranging fairy lights on a dung-heap.

Nonetheless, I am glad I had them done, and will probably do more. Possibly not more piercings — if nothing else I am getting very tired of nursing them while they heal — but more ink will probably follow, just as soon as I’ve got the money and worked out exactly what to go for.

Epic Marines

Way back in the early-mid 90s, when I first started playing Warhammer 40,000, Space Marines were my first army. Originally my army was from the Ultramarines Chapter, but a few years later when the third edition of the game was released, I changed it to a successor chapter of my own invention: the Stars of the Emperor’s Light. A lot of my Ultramarines were still unpainted so they were easy to incorporate into the new army; the rest I either re-painted or replaced with the new multi-part plastic marines that were released at that time.

Last year, with all the Epic armies that I had been working on finished, I decided to make a start on a new army of Space Marines, from the chapter that I had invented for 40K so many years earlier. I already had most of the models I needed, gathered together over the previous couple of years from various sources. Some are the original GW models, either bought on eBay or from GW when they were still available. Many of the vehicles are plastic rhinos from GW that have been converted into other vehicles using 3D-printed parts from Shapeways. A few are proxies drawn from other companies’ 6mm ranges. Vanguard Miniatures and Onslaught Miniatures both make some excellent 6mm SF models many of which make great proxies for units in Epic.

Some of the models in the army are unofficial sculpts, made by fans and covertly traded with other gamers. A few years ago there were several people producing such models. Sadly, GW got wind of what was happening and a few Cease and Desist letters later, the ‘forumware’ scene had mostly shut down. It’s not necessarily impossible to get hold of them, as people who bought them at the time sometimes realise they don’t actually need all of them and sell them on eBay or similar. Still, they are now scarce and can be difficult to acquire.

Almost a year has passed since I began the army in late July last year. Throughout that time, although I have occasionally stopped to paint other things, the Marines have always been my ‘main’ painting project. Now, at last, they are finished. At 12,750 points, they are the largest single project I have ever undertaken and also the first army I have ever finished entirely in one go.

So here they are:

12,750-point Space Marine army
12,750-point Space Marine army (close-up)
12,750-point Space Marine army (close-up)
12,750-point Space Marine army (close-up)

As usual, I have taken photos of all the formations in the army as I painted them.

First off, I have this command unit.

Masters of the Chapter

It consists of, from left to right, the Master of Sanctity, Master of the Forge, Chapter Master, Ancient, Chief Librarian and Master of the Apothecarion. It would probably best represent a unit of Terminators with a Supreme Commander character. All are converted to at least some degree except the Master of Sanctity for whom I just used an unmodified Terminator Chaplain model. The transport is a Battlemaster from Vanguard Miniatures. The closest unit to proxy it as in the Codex Marines list would be a Land Raider. A Spartan would be a closer match (that’s what it’s designed to be a proxy for) but those are only available in the Horus Heresy lists that the Australian Epic community have put together.

Next up is the Chapter’s veteran First Company, consisting of five Terminator Detachments:

Terminators
Terminators
Terminators
Terminators
Terminators

Although I had models for a Captain, Chaplain and Librarian in Terminator armour, the background states that every company also has an Apothecary and Standard bearer. These I had to convert myself. I have put each of my standard bearers in the same unit as the Captain. The Apothecaries also accompany another character, but which one varies from company to company.

Next up are the battle companies, each consisting of two Tactical detachments, one Assault and one Devastator.

In the Second Company, the Captain accompanies a Tactical detachment, the Chaplain the Assault detachment, while the Devastators are joined by a Librarian. None of these models are converted.

Tactical detachment
Tactical detachment
Assault detachment
Devastator detachment

In the Third Company, the Captain once again accompanies a Tactical detachment, while the Chaplain joins the Devastators. A librarian joins the second Tactical detachment. The only conversion is the top of the Librarian’s force staff. I wanted every Captain, Chaplain and Librarian model to be unique, so I swapped the top of the staff with another one (see below) to distinguish him from the one in the Second Company.

Tactical detachment
Tactical detachment
Assault detachment
Devastator detachment

In the Fourth Company, the Captain accompanies the Assault detachment. I did not have models for either a Captain or Standard Bearer with a jump pack, so had to convert them. The Chaplain is also a conversion. For him I used an Emperor’s Champion model, swapping his sword for the Chaplain’s Crozius Arcanum.

Tactical detachment
Tactical detachment
Assault detachment
Devastator detachment

In the Fifth Company, the Captain accompanies the Devastators. The Chaplain is once again in the Assault detachment; I converted him to add additional robes. The Apothecary is also a conversion as I did not have any Apothecary models with jump packs.

Tactical detachment
Tactical detachment
Assault detachment
Devastator detachment

I skipped most of the reserve companies; I saw no reason to paint up whole companies of nothing but Tactical Squads. However, some of the Eighth (assault) Company appear in the form of the Bikes and Land Speeders.

I have three Bike detachments, each including two Attack Bikes, and each led by either a Captain, Chaplain or Librarian. The captain is a very subtle conversion; I slightly changed the shape of his head with putty to make him bald (like all the other models in the army) rather than sporting the flat-topped haircut the original model had. The Librarian has had a little bit of luggage added to the back of his bike as the original model had a strangely misshapen area at the back. The Apothecary I had to convert myself as there was no Apothecary model on a bike. The Chaplain and Standard Bearer are unmodified.

Bike detachment
Bike detachment
Bike detachment

The Land Speeders are all just the stock GW models with no conversions.

Land Speeder detachment
Land Speeder detachment

Finally the Tenth Company consists of five Scout Detachments. The character models are the old GW plastics from the Epic 40K era. The Librarian has been converted slightly; as mentioned before, I swapped the top of his force rod so that each model would be unique. The fourth detachment has the Snipers upgrade. Note that the Tenth Company does not have a Standard Bearer.

Scout detachment
Scout detachment
Scout detachment
Scout detachment
Scout detachment

In addition to the infantry companies, I have various vehicles from the chapter armoury. I have three formations of Predators, two of Lascannon-armed Annihilators and one of Autocannon-armed Destructors:

Predator detachment
Predator detachment
Predator detachment

These Vindicators are one of the only two vehicles based on Rhino hulls that aren’t converted from plastic Rhinos using turrets and sponsons from Shapeways. Instead they are the old Mk1 Vindicator model from the first edition of Epic. I have, however, added 3D-printed ‘dozer blades to them, as this has become one of the defining features of the unit in more recent versions of the game.

Vindicator detachment

I did have some plastic Whirlwind models, but I had destroyed the turrets of some of them for previous conversions. Consequently those got converted into Hunters while I converted these Whirlwinds from Rhinos with Shapeways turrets:

Whirlwind detachment

These are the aforementioned Hunters, as usual converted with turrets from Shapeways but using Whirlwind hulls instead of Rhinos. They aren’t a formation in themselves but can be added to some other formations to provide anti-aircraft cover.

Hunters

These Razorback IFVs also don’t form formations by themselves, but are added to infantry formations as alternative transports. Half have Lascannon turrets and the other half have Heavy Bolters.

Razorbacks
Razorbacks

These Dreadnoughts can be added to Tactical, Devastator or Terminator formations:

Razorbacks

I also have three formations of Land Raiders:

Land Raider detachment
Land Raider detachment
Land Raider detachment

Finally, there is this Super-Heavy tank. It’s a Challenger from Vanguard Miniatures, and it’s clearly designed to proxy a Fellblade in a Space Marine army. Which is great, except there is no Fellblade in the regular Codex Space Marine army list. It does appear in the Imperial Fists list, as well has the Horus Heresy lists I mentioned before, but in the regular Codex list, it doesn’t appear and there isn’t really anything close to it that it could represent instead. So although I really like this model, and it makes a neat centrepiece for the army, I don’t actually have a use for it in-game.

Super-heavy tank

I also have some air support for the army. I have two Thunderhawk Gunships. One is missing its Lascannons. The model came to me second-hand from eBay and one was broken off when I got it. Since they don’t actually have them in the game rules anyway, it seemed easiest just to remove them entirely.

Thunderhawk Gunship
Thunderhawk Gunship

Plus, when a Thunderhawk just isn’t big enough, there’s the Landing Craft:

Landing Craft

Finally, I have these two flights of Stormtalon VTOL aircraft. These were entirely 3D printed at Shapeways. Again, they don’t have rules in the Codex Marines army list (although they do appear in the Imperial Fists list), but they work fine as proxies for Thunderbolt Fighter-bombers.

Stormtalons
Stormtalons

Providing orbital support is this Strike Cruiser. I haven’t included it in the whole-army shot above as it doesn’t appear on the table and isn’t to scale with the rest of the army.

Strike Cruiser

And allowing forces to deploy from that Strike Cruiser are these Drop Pods. They’re Veritas Drop Craft from Onslaught Miniatures, but they work very well as SM Drop Pods.

Drop Pods

Finally, I have these small bunkers, from Wasteland Games Studio. They’re mostly just to use as objective markers, although there are some variant Space Marine lists that allow you to take fortifications.

Bunkers

And that’s it! If the army needs Titan support, I can use the models from my AMTL army, although I am also in the process of painting up some alternative ‘truescale’ models to fulfil this role. So far I only have a pair of Warhounds done but I also have a Reaver that I hope to finish soon. I have yet to acquire a truescale Warlord model, but it’s possible that I may be able to get hold of one in the future. The army is already well-served for fighter cover, but if it needs bombers, it can draw on my Navy Air Wing for that.

Under the NetEA Codex Space Marine army list, this all comes to 12,750 points:

Terminator Detachment
Supreme Commander
Land Raider
350
100
75
Terminator Detachment
Captain
350
50
Terminator Detachment
Chaplain
350
50
Terminator Detachment
Librarian
350
50
Terminator Detachment
2 Dreadnoughts
350
100
Tactical Detachment
Captain
Razorback
275
50
25
Tactical Detachment
Razorback
275
25
Assault Detachment
Chaplain
175
50
Devastator Detachment
Librarian
Hunter
250
50
75
Tactical Detachment
Captain
Razorback
275
50
25
Tactical Detachment
Librarian
Razorback
275
50
25
Assault Detachment 175
Devastator Detachment
Chaplain
Hunter
250
50
75
Tactical Detachment
Chaplain
Razorback
275
50
25
Tactical Detachment
Razorback
275
25
Assault Detachment
Captain
175
50
Devastator Detachment
Hunter
250
75
Tactical Detachment
Razorback
275
25
Tactical Detachment
Razorback
275
25
Assault Detachment
Chaplain
175
50
Devastator Detachment
Captain
Hunter
250
50
75
Bike Detachment
Captain
2 Attack Bikes
200
50
 
Bike Detachment
Chaplain
2 Attack Bikes
200
50
 
Bike Detachment
Librarian
2 Attack Bikes
200
50
 
Land Speeder Detachment
2 Land Speeder Tornadoes
200
 
Land Speeder Detachment
2 Land Speeder Typhoons
200
25
Scout Detachment
Captain
150
50
Scout Detachment
Chaplain
150
50
Scout Detachment 150
Scout Detachment
4 Snipers
150
50
Scout Detachment
Librarian
150
50
Predator Detachment
4 Predator Annihilators
250
 
Predator Detachment
4 Predator Annihilators
250
 
Predator Detachment
4 Predator Destructors
250
 
Vindicator Detachment 225
Whirlwind Detachment 300
Land Raider Detachment 325
Land Raider Detachment 325
Land Raider Detachment 325
Thunderhawk 200
Thunderhawk 200
Landing Craft 350
Stormtalons
Count as Thunderbolts
 
175
Stormtalons
Count as Thunderbolts
 
175
Total 12,750

With that done, I’m going to try and get the Reaver Titan I mentioned before done, before taking a bit of a break from 6mm. After that I think I’m going to work a bit on getting my scenery sorted out a bit better before I start working on some Orks.

Baby Can Dance

When I first heard Carsie Blanton’s song Baby Can Dance, I was quite new to Swing dancing, although I had been dancing Modern Jive for a while and was getting quite good. The video features various swing and jazz dances and was consequently something of a viral hit in the swing dance community at the time. I loved it then and still do.

Partly, I like it for the obvious reasons: it’s fun, light-hearted and full of energy and wit and charm. It’s a perfectly crafted slice of pop brilliance, infused with the joyful, playful spirit of classic jazz.

But I also love the fantasy woven through the lyrics. They describe a man who, despite having almost nothing to recommend him romantically, is adored by the singer because he is a great dancer and that is enough.

I enjoy singing the folk song The Nutting Girl for similar reasons. To a rousing tune is set a marvellous bawdy fantasy about a singer seducing a passing woman by the power of his voice alone. My voice, though respectable enough, has never brought me any kind of romantic interest and I enjoy the song with a measure of, if not actual irony, at least some degree of self-awareness. But still, the fantasy is there.

Baby Can Dance offers a similar fantasy. At the time, I was not a great dancer, but I was a good one and getting better all the time. If the otherwise utterly undesirable subject of the song could get along by virtue of his dancing alone, maybe there was hope for me, too. It was a comforting fantasy.

It was more than a year later when I embarked on the first proper long-term relationship of my life, with another dancer who had started Lindy Hop a few months after I did. I’ve never fully understood what attracted her to me — the idea of any woman finding me attractive remains incomprehensible — but although my dancing was a factor it was not the only one (I believe my hair was also a consideration). Sexually we proved very compatible and for the first few months we could scarcely keep our hands off each other, but that was not the sole basis of our relationship. We enjoyed each other’s company even when not in physical contact. We had similar — or at least compatible — senses of humour. And we were both continuing to explore swing and blues dancing, an interest that we not only shared intellectually, but were able to enjoy together. When we danced, our emotional connection added to our regular dance connection so that dancing together was not only a fun activity that we both enjoyed but an emotional interaction in itself.

She suggested, for a while, that Baby Can Dance should be ‘our song’. I was resistant to the idea, mostly because I’ve never really understood the concept. Does a relationship really need a theme tune? What is the point of the exercise?

Time passed. We both grew and developed as dancers and as people. As I understand it, the state of being ‘in love’ — the passionate, amorous love that C. S. Lewis called Eros — rarely lasts more than three years. Once it dissolves, some relationships will have built enough Storge and/or Philia to survive on that. The rest will fizzle out.

By the end of our fourth year together, our relationship was certainly not passionate or exciting, but it did seem to have developed into a sort of comfortable affection that was stable enough. We had occasionally quarrelled earlier in our relationship, but that seemed to be past us as we learned how to avoid angering each other. Still, even by that point we had begun drifting apart and as we entered our fifth year the cracks started to show. I found it increasingly hard to shake the impression that she found my company tedious and mildly annoying and preferred it when I wasn’t there. As time passed we seemed to have less and less in common and less reason to talk to each other or spend time together, other than to watch TV series that in all honesty we could just as easily have watched separately.

But we still danced together. That was still good. Right up until the end, we still enjoyed dancing together. Even when she finally ended it, she told me that she still enjoyed dancing with me.

But it wasn’t enough. In the end, Baby Can Dance was just a fantasy after all.

Refining the Pi

So, with RuneAudio running on my Raspberry Pi, I had an audio player that I was fairly happy with. However, there were a couple of ways in which it was still in need of improvement. In my previous post on the subject, I noted that I was keen to set it up to use an IR remote for basic controls like play/pause, skip forward & backwards, etc. But also I wanted to be able to try and transfer music onto the player via the network, rather than by un-mounting the USB drive (or shutting down the RPi) taking the USB drive out, plugging it into the computer, copying the files over, ejecting the drive, putting it back in the Pi and re-mounting it (or starting the RPi up again). I briefly considered getting a second Raspberry Pi, setting that up as a dedicated NAS controller, and then using that to store the music, with the RuneAudio machine reading the files remotely. However, this seemed like overkill, so I decided instead to try and get the RuneAudio to share its storage over the network instead.

I rapidly proceeded to completely foul up my entire RuneAudio installation, to the point where it was completely non-functional. Humbled, I downloaded the latest RuneAudio image and prepared to reinstall from scratch.

However, at this point I discovered that the current install image has been significantly updated from the (quite old) one I had previously used to install the software from. And one of the improvements in the current version is that it comes with Samba installed, so that its storage is already shared on the network. By simply upgrading to the latest version, I had added the functionality that I was after. Hurrah!

Now that I had started tinkering with the Pi again, I decided that it was time to see about getting a remote set up. I started out following this handy guide. There were a few ways that it wasn’t completely accurate, possibly due to being out-of-date. There was no need to install the lirc package, as it was already installed, and the lines in /boot/config.txt that needed to be uncommented began #dtoverlay and #dtparam, rather than #device_tree_overlay and #device_tree_param. There was also no need to uncomment the #dparam=gpio_out_pin=xx line, as it wasn’t used, nor the #dparam=gpio_in_pull=down, as down is the default anyway.

Otherwise, though, all went well until I came to stage 9: finding or generating a configuration file for my specific remote. The guide is correct that the irrecord utility doesn’t work on the RPi version of Arch Linux (on which RuneAudio is based), although it doesn’t output incorrect information; it just fails to work. So I had two options. I could install another Linux distribution on my RPi, set up lirc on that, use irrecord to generate a suitable config file and copy that across. Alternatively, I could go to lirc-remotes.sourceforge.net and see if I could find one there. The former seemed like a huge ballache, so I tried the latter.

Unfortunately, the remote I was trying to use was a cheap no-name item for which I had no chance of getting a pre-prepared config. Even if such a thing existed, there was no brand or model number to identify it. So I began to consider giving up on this particular remote and getting a better (or, at least, better-known) one.

Surprisingly, of all the widely available remote controls, the Apple Remote best fitted my requirements. Most remotes that were available by themselves were clearly designed for use with home cinema setups and had vast numbers of buttons, most of which would be superfluous in this context. Apple’s offering, conversely, had a mere 7, covering all of the functions I needed with few left spare.

So, for the first time in my life, I ordered an Apple product. I’m not a huge fan of Apple. The biggest turn-off for me is one of the things that has made them so successful: the fact that their products double up as fashion accessories and status symbols. To be seen with an Apple device is to announce to the world that I am a Dedicated Follower of Fashion. And while this is a huge part of their appeal for many, I find it off-putting.

Other than that, I’m not actually that anti-Apple. I’ve enough experience with other people’s iOS devices to know that I would find them frustrating and annoying to use myself, but there’s a lot that they do well and for other people they may well be great. I use a Mac at work and while it still wouldn’t be my choice of machine for use at home, as a work machine it’s pretty decent. I’m not keen on the aggressive way that Apple shuns interoperability to tie you exclusively into its ecosystem, and it’s all overpriced. But otherwise Apple makes pretty decent stuff: just not, until now, stuff that suits me or meets my personal requirements.

But in this case, the Apple remote was the best option for what I needed. So I went for it.

The remote arrived this afternoon. I downloaded the appropriate config file, copied it onto my RPi, and tried it out with the irw command.

Nothing.

After some time spent troubleshooting, eliminating various possible reasons why it might not be working, I began to suspect that the problem lay with the config file I had downloaded. I would have to generate my own config using the Raspbian distro after all.

Fortunately, I had a spare MicroSD card, so I didn’t have to erase my RuneAudio installation, I just put Raspbian on the spare card and swapped them over. Installing lirc was easy enough, and it wasn’t too hard to get it configured, although some files were in different places from where they had been in Arch/RuneAudio. This time the irrecord utility worked just fine. Armed with my new lirc.conf, I swapped my RuneAudio SD card back in and gave it a try.

It worked!

From there on, it was just a case of following the rest of the guide; everything else worked perfectly. I had to change a few lines in the example /etc/conf.d/lircrc to match the buttons on my specific remote. I also added a stop option (mapped to the ‘menu’ button on the remote), and set the ‘OK’ button to start playing from the beginning of the current queue rather than the currently selected track.

With everything now up and working, all that remained was to modify the remote slightly. I painted over the text on the ‘MENU’ button and replaced it with a little white stop icon.

Raspberry Pi and Remote
(Click for larger image)

So now I have pretty much exactly the setup that I want. If I want to edit the playlist to add or remove files or albums, I can do this easily via the web interface. If I am sitting at my computer, this is a trivial effort, if not then doing it via my phone is still slightly less of a faff than finding a CD, getting it out and putting it in the drive. Once the music that I want is loaded, I can start and stop playback and navigate through the playlist by remote control just as I would with any other player. Hurrah!

Return to Death Magnetic

Interesting.

Back in 2008, Metallica released Death Magnetic, arguably their best album since the early 90s. I blogged about it at the time. In summary, while the material was a triumphant return to form, somewhere in the mixing and mastering process, things were badly botched, and the album that was released sounded terrible: not only badly over-compressed, but also horribly clipped and distorted. On headphones it was unlistenable. In an odd twist, however, the album was simultaneously released as DLC for Guitar Hero 3, and this release used an unmastered rough early mix of the album that did not suffer from these problems (although it had other faults). Soon, remastered versions of the album based on this version appeared on the Internet, and although they did have some issues of their own, they sounded far better than the proper CD release.

But it turns out that the story doesn’t end there. Since (I think) 2012, Apple have set up a ‘Mastered for iTunes’ programme. It mostly seems to consist of using a different master to generate the compressed audio files that are sold through iTunes from the one used to produce CDs. Tricks are used with this alternative master so that when encoded in the lossy AAC format, the impact on the audio quality is minimised. Last year, Metallica’s back catalogue was added to the Mastered for iTunes catalogue.

And so Death Magnetic finally got the remastering it so badly needed, in an official, legitimate release.

At first, this version was only available if you bought it via iTunes (and even if you owned the original release on iTunes, you would have to buy it again). But the new master is also now available for sale via the band’s website, in either 320kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC or ALAC formats, the latter in either standard 16-bit/44.1kHz or hi-resolution 24-bit/96kHz versions.

And it sounds great. It’s still a modern, fairly loud and compressed recording, but no more so than is normal for a rock or metal release in 2016. And it’s the proper, finished mix of the album, unlike the GHIII versions, which are a little rough around the edges even after the excellent remastering jobs that various enthusiasts gave them. The version of Suicide and Redemption is the proper one with the shorter versions of both solos (not extended versions of either one or the other) and fades in and out in the right places.

At last it is possible to listen to this album in the finished form that the band genuinely chose to release, without it sounding like utter crap because of a badly botched mastering job. It’s taken 8 years, but we got there in the end.

Cunt

In my previous post, I used the word cunt (I’ve since edited it away). I don’t say cunt all that often. In fact, I don’t swear all that often in general. I slip minor crudities into my speech quite a bit, but more strongly taboo words I tend only to use sparingly, and then I am usually careful in whose company I use them.

I personally am not all that bothered by a lot of swearing, although in more formal or professional contexts it tends to jar. I also find that when ‘fucking’ is used as a sort of spoken punctuation, or as a sort of ‘place-holder’ sound to indicate a pause for thought, similar to ‘umm’ or ‘ah’, it grates a little, not in a sense of being offensive, but because it represents a clumsy and inelegant ineloquence.

Cunt is one of the oldest words in the English language. It probably comes to English via the Old Norse kunta. However, there is also the Latin word cunnus, which presumably has a common origin to the Norse word, putting its origins very far back up the Indo-European family tree indeed. It’s also a harsh, curt-sounding word, which to my mind makes it poorly suited to denoting female genitalia, but excellent as a derogatory term for a vile, despicable person.

Right now, aside from terms of racial abuse, cunt is probably the most taboo word in the English language. It’s also peculiar in that it is becoming more unacceptable over time, whereas I cannot think of any other such word that isn’t more permissible now than it was a few decades ago. Many people who will happily sprinkle other expletives throughout their speech will think twice before saying cunt.

One argument that is put forward for why the term has become so taboo is that it is misogynistic. In British usage, this argument is unconvincing. I don’t think that describing someone as a dick or a cock implies any hatred of men. And the word twat, which means the exact same thing as cunt, both literally and in colloquial slang, is not objected to in the same way, or, at least, not as often. I don’t think my description of Nigel Farage as a twat in the same article raised any eyebrows at all.

In American English, however, the accusation of misogyny holds rather more weight. It is my understanding that, unlike in British usage where the term is equally often applied to men and women, in the US the term is normally only applied as an insult to women, and there it is more closely connected with its literal meaning.

As an English person, on the rare occasions that I call people cunts, I do not mean to imply any sort of misogyny. I’m just using it to denote someone I find detestable. I think this is consistent with standard usage within British English. When I used it in my previous post, I simply chose the sweariest swear-word that there is in order to signify that I meant not just people that I don’t like, but the people I really can’t stand: the worst of the worst. I also felt that the sudden, unexpected use of a strong swear-word gave the (somewhat off-hand) comment an impact and humour that a lighter expletive would have lacked.

However, unusually, I shared said post on Facebook and am quite happy for it to be shared by other people if they are interested. Most regular readers of this blog (if there even are are any these days) are people I’ve known for some time but this post might well be read by people who don’t know me that well and/or who don’t speak British English as their first language. I don’t want my use of a controversial word, which might be misunderstood as misogynistic, to distract from what I’m actually trying to say. So while I wouldn’t normally censor myself for use of naughty words, in this case I have decided to replace ‘utter cunts’ with ‘utter shits’ in the previous post.

I have, of course, used the term cunt repeatedly in this post, so overall the number of times I’ve said cunt on my blog has just gone up quite a lot. I think, in a discussion of the acceptability of the word cunt, that this is probably permissible, and I hope nobody is offended by this discussion. That said, if anyone does have a problem with my repeated use of the word cunt in this post and, especially, this paragraph, they can fuck right off. The cunts.

EU

In tomorrow’s referendum, I’m planning on voting remain.

Economically the argument is pretty much over. In the short-to-medium term, leaving the EU would be damaging to Britain’s economy. The only uncertainty is how bad. In the long term it’s harder to say. Nobody really knows.

I am not interested in arguments about some spurious notion of ‘sovereignty’. Even outside the EU, we are party to hundreds of treaties and international agreements. The idea that Britain must be governed exclusively by Britons, and that foreigners will inevitably be working against our interests is nonsense.

I have not been swayed by arguments about democracy. There are ways in which the EU could be more democratic, and I would like to see some reform in these areas, but the same is true of the UK; in some ways the EU is more democratic than Britain is.

I am concerned that entrenched corporate interests are too powerful in the EU, and that it is being used to impose neo-liberal economic policies on poorer countries, to their detriment. But I am far from convinced that leaving would help Britain in that respect; not with the political landscape as it currently stands. I have even seen it argued that this is our fault, that Britain is one of the worst influences pulling the EU away from Social Democracy and more towards corporate cronyism. Indeed, the most compelling argument I have yet heard in favour of leaving is that we are a toxic influence on Europe, and that they would be better off without us. But I am not fully convinced by this argument either. Germany has been very influential in protecting its banking interests at the expense of Southern Europe and I don’t see that Britain leaving would change that.

Leaving the EU would be very damaging to the sector in which I work. Research and academia benefit hugely both from EU funding and from the free movement of people that makes international collaboration far easier. My job (which I value for purely selfish reasons) and the good work of the people I work with (which I value because they are of benefit to humanity) would both be threatened by leaving the EU.

Migration is a complicated subject. But it’s worth noting that although EU citizens are free to live and work in Britain as they please, nobody else is guaranteed that right and yet despite it being entirely within their legal power to do so, successive governments have not cut non-EU migration to the tiny trickle that they so often promise. There are good reasons for this, both economic and ethical. But the point is that leaving the EU wouldn’t be an effective way to cut immigration even if that were a desirable goal. We can cut immigration anyway, we just don’t, because it isn’t necessarily a good idea.

As for EU migrants, I look down my friends list on Facebook and as well as lots of English people and various other Britons, I also see people from 21 other EU-member countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden. Now we could quibble over the distinction between ‘friends’ on Facebook and actual friendships. I will admit that I don’t know all of those people all that well. But still, they are all people that I have some contact with and whom I like, and many of them I would never have met were it not for free movement of people within Europe.

Conversely, when I consider the list of people I consider to be utter shits, I could name quite a few Britons.

I love Britain and I love England. This country is my home, its culture is the one in which I grew up and there are many things about our national character that I adore. We still have much to offer the world. But for me that love for my country does not imply any kind of Great British Exceptionalism. We are no longer a great power on the world stage, and I do not think we should seek to be again. If we are to have any influence in the world it will be through cooperation with our peers. And our peers are not China or the USA. They are Germany and France, Spain and Italy. And, as their economies grow faster than ours, Eastern European countries like Poland are not far behind.

Britain is not a special case. We do not have a monopoly on greatness. Our crumbling union cannot stand alone, nor should it seek to. If we are to be truly great, it must be as part of something greater.

We are currently one of the richest and most powerful countries in Europe. We can be a key part of the second-largest economy in the world. Or we can be an increasingly irrelevant backwater, an impotent satellite of both the USA and of the Europe we turned our back on.

The EU as it stands is not perfect. It needs reform in several areas. But it is not irredeemable, and to abandon it because of some misguided notion of British Exceptionalism, or as a protest against a perceived elite (note how the leave campaign is led by members of the establishment just as much as remain is, unless you think that Boris Johnson’s amiable buffoonish persona somehow exempts him from being a part of the ruling class, or that Nigel Farage is really a maverick outsider and not just a twat) would be a foolish move.

I won’t deny that my position is, when all is said and done, largely instinctive and aesthetic. I want to be on the side of remain because being a part of a united Europe appeals to my internationalist sensibilities. But even if I recognise that fact and try to look at the arguments and consider things impartially and pragmatically, I still come down on the side of remain, albeit with some reservations. My heart says stay, but my head says stay as well.

Count me in.

Imperial Air Wing

As well as the Chaos army, I also finished another — significantly smaller — Epic painting project recently; my Imperial Navy Air Wing.

One thing that is conspicuously missing from my Titan Legion is any kind of air support. This is because I wanted to paint my Imperial Aircraft as a separate force. Then not only would the AMTL be able to use the Aircraft in support, but the Space Marine and Imperial Guard armies I plan to paint in future would also be able to use Titans from the Titan Legion and aircraft from the Air Wing.

I only have three formations of aircraft. Two flights of Thunderbolt Fighter-Bombers:

Thunderbolt Fighters
Thunderbolt Fighters
Thunderbolt Fighters (underside)

And a pair of Marauder Bombers:

Marauders
Marauders (underside)

And here they are together:

Imperial Aircraft

And in action!

Imperial Aircraft in action

A Dry May

Throughout May, I have consumed no alcohol.

This wasn’t because I felt that I needed to, or to see if I could, or anything like that. I was fairly confident that my alcohol intake was perfectly healthy and that not drinking would be mildly frustrating but no big deal. But I wanted to confirm that was the case. So I decided to go for a month without drinking.

Things nearly got off to a bad start on the second when I completely forgot about the plan and ordered a pint. Fortunately I was reminded of the plan before I started drinking it.

Since then it has occasionally been a bit of a pain not to have a drink. But it hasn’t been that big a deal. I may have saved a little money but not all that much. I haven’t felt any better for it. All of which added up to the result I was hoping for.

So, with that over, I can go back to healthy moderate drinking for enjoyment.