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Tutor profile: Alec J.

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Alec J.
College instructor in philosophy, graphic design, and music
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Questions

Subject: Philosophy

TutorMe
Question:

What would Kant say about this situation?: You're at home, with your best friend, binge watching British baking shows, when a psychotic murderer knocks on your door. "Hello," he says, "I'm a psychotic murderer. Is your best friend here? I'd like to murder him, please. If you tell me he's not here, I'll go look for him elsewhere. Thank you." Your gut reaction is to lie to the murderer. But then you remember reading Kant in school, and you stop to ponder...

Inactive
Alec J.
Answer:

The short answer is this: Kant would say that you should never lie; not even in this dire circumstance. When you lie, two things happen. One, you're violating the categorical imperative, which says that you should never do something unless the entire world can ethically and rationally do it also. (In this case, if everyone lied when evil people ask them a question, the lie would be ineffective, because the evil people would catch on pretty quickly about everyone always lying in these sorts of circumstances.) Two, you're relying on luck to make the situation work out for the best. It's entirely possible that if you lie to the murderer, something worse could happen than your friend dying. Maybe the murderer kills a thousand people that night; or maybe your friend lives and becomes a mass murderer himself. The fact is, you can't predict the future, and (Kant would say) basing your moral actions on something uncertain is unwise. You can always think of Kant as saying "Thou shalt not..." when it comes to any usual sort of vice... Lying, murder, etc. And "Thou shalt..." when it comes to any usual sort of virtue... Helping others in need, developing your talents, etc.

Subject: Graphic Design

TutorMe
Question:

What are small caps in typography? And why aren't they just uniformly scaled-down regular caps?

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Alec J.
Answer:

Small caps are capital letter forms that are generally about as tall as the x-height of lowercase letters. But if you take a full-size capital letter and just shrink it down to that height, the letter will become too thin and spindly, and will look wrong in context with the rest of the font. Unfortunately, many word processing programs (I'm looking at you Microsoft Word) do just this when automatically creating small caps. Luckily, good layout programs don't do this, but you have to know how to work with them, and find the right fonts to do the job well.

Subject: Illustrator

TutorMe
Question:

How would you apply a gradient fill across multiple objects in Illustrator, so that the gradient extends from one object to the next?

Inactive
Alec J.
Answer:

Select all of the objects, then go to the Object menu and select Compound Path > Make. Apply the gradient you want to your new compound path, and the gradient will extend from one object to the next!

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