Thoughts of a novice rapier fighter

Sep. 25th, 2017 06:34 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
I was at the Carolingian fencing practice last Thursday, and a friend of mine noted that my false edge parry was unusually strong. We laughingly attributed it to the vestige of my once-vaunted strength after my cancer treatment still leaving me stronger than the average bear, but further thinking on the topic leads me to a different conclusion, and I'm interested in what the rapier fighters on my friends list end up thinking about it.

If I understand things correctly, the classical hand position for gripping a rapier has the hand loosely in the same orientation as you would for shaking someone's hand - palm perpendicular to the ground. This means blocking with the true edge is generally a forehand motion and blocking with the false edge a backhand one.

But for better or worse, I've started out with the dutch rapier hand grip position that Thomas of Effingham showed me and that got reinforced at the recent Western Martial Arts Workshop I went to, and with that grip, the hand ends up palm up (or down, depending), parallel to the ground. This grip features blocks that are perpendicular to the hinge of your arm, and so you lose some of the weakness of the false edge block backhand block. Furthermore, by canting your wrist a bit at the proper moment, you can very easily engage the upper arm muscles to give strength to the block, which pretty much mitigates the disadvantage of not being so able to use the leveraging power of your forearm when you would otherwise do a forehand block.

Now, the title of this post is meant to indicate that I don't really know what I'm talking about here, and this is a very tentative first idea of what might be going on. I would love to be educated by anyone actually knowledgeable about what's going on.
lillibet: (pic#775945)
[personal profile] lillibet posting in [community profile] davis_square
What we wear, or used to wear, can be more than colors, patterns, and fabrics. They can be a time capsule, a scrapbook, to our most intimate memories. A dance. A birth. A funeral. All the coming-of-age insanity that defines us. From the mind that created When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, five women relive such moments through a series of monologues and ensemble pieces. They laugh and cry as they talk about childhood, high heels, motherhood, wedding dresses, cancer, surviving rape, and why we wear black.‚Äč

Bare Bones: Staged Readings at Theatre@First presents

Love, Loss and What I Wore
adapted by Nora & Delia Ephron
from the book by Ilene Beckerman
and directed by Santiago Rivas

ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Thursday, September 28th at 8pm

UNITY SOMERVILLE
6 William Street at College Ave

FREE with suggested donation of $5

No reservations required.
Our performance space is not wheelchair accessible.

For more information, visit theatreatfirst.org.

QotD

Sep. 25th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"For both men and women the first step in getting power is to become visible to others, and then to put on an impressive show ... As women achieve power, the barriers will fall. As society sees what women can do, as WOMEN see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we'll all be better off for it." -- Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930-03-26; US Supreme Court Justice 1981-09-25 to 2006-01-31)

First Games of Fall

Sep. 24th, 2017 11:25 pm
flwyd: (black titan)
[personal profile] flwyd
It's been an eventful summer. It felt like I had something scheduled (even if it was nominally restful) every day from the middle of July through the middle of September. Phew.

Now that the sun has slid past the equinox and the sky has filled with rain, it's time to turn our attention indoors. I'm therefore declaring this Saturday, September 30th, my first game day of fall. And hey, it's just a couple days after my birthday, so that's fitting.

As usual, bring games, friends, food, kids, drinks, and other things that might be fun. I've accumulated a few games over the last year or so that haven't gotten much play, so I'd love to give them another whirl. I've got a bunch of recently-brewed maple ginger spruce ale, so if you're not a fan of hops, you might enjoy this beer. I'll also have some kind of food going. RSVPs help me know how to plan accordingly.

My house is in the usual place. If you don't know where that is, send me an email (and join my games mailing list, where I include more details).

A very merry unbirthday to you!

the common or garden anti-semite

Sep. 24th, 2017 06:37 pm
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
I'm rereading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers for the first time in maybe a year, since I just switched my Audible membership over to .ca instead of .com, and the Canadian website has the rights for the book when the American website has just been promising to have it for ages but never actually being able to sell it.

In that time I've read Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism, which very closely details the rise of anti-Semitism in Western Europe between the French Revolution and the Second World War. Sayers is an awkward novelist in that her writing in the 1920s and 30s is sparkling in many ways, but soured a few times a book by discordant notes whenever "those people" are mentioned--Sayers seems to think that she is being very liberal-minded by mentioning Jewish people at all, much less having her characters vaguely tolerate them and discuss how a Jew might be as moral as the next fellow. (She had an unhappy early affair with a Jewish writer that seems to have affected her strongly)

I can see no situation in which they might ever have met, but still, the whole thing solidifies mentally for me into a unified whole if I imagine them at some evening party full of urbane and witty literary people, drinking and smoking and sounding clever, where Sayers is holding forth and being pleased with herself and Hannah Arendt is smoking in silence and taking down extensive mental notes for an essay later. She smiles when Sayers passes her an ashtray, but she's already plotting her revenge.
megpie71: Photo of sign reading "Those who throw objects at the crocodiles will be asked to retrieve them." (Crocodiles)
[personal profile] megpie71
1) It's a non-teaching week this week, which means my alarm is turned most definitely off and I am catching up on sleep. It's also cold and wet and rainy, to the point where when I was starting to write up my journal this morning I inadvertently started entering the month as "June".

2) I have managed to complete the AV presentation which was driving me bats, and now I have to concentrate on getting my poetry portfolio done. Which means I have to settle down and actually get into a poetry mindspace, which is somewhat akin to having an unstructured dose of therapy. Poetry involves rummaging around in the subconscious, and the problem with doing this for me is I keep finding things in there I don't remember putting there. Like discovering the reason I'm so keen on Final Fantasy VII as a fandom is because I actually empathise strongly with Cloud Strife's memory problems (because they're rather akin to the ones I have as a result of chronic depression).

3) I've done my vote in the Marriage Equality survey, and I think Steve dropped both of them off in the post-box on Friday. I voted "yes", of course, because quite frankly I cannot for the life of me see how allowing people who aren't heterosexual to marry is going to "damage marriage". The arguments of the "No" campaign appear to be mainly based around "think of the children" (I don't have any myself, and I'm thinking of the non-heterosexual and non-gender-binary children who might want to get married when they grow up); "it's against our religion" (well, nobody's saying you have to go out and get married to anyone); "marriage is about having children" (oh, does that mean my infertile friend is damaging the institution of marriage? How about my mother, who's past the age of reproduction and still married to my father?) and so on. None of their arguments really appear to be based on anything sensible, because let's face it, we can't point to a sensible argument against extending marriage to non-heterosexual people.

(Also, on the whole "freeze peach" side of things: if anyone who is busy screaming about how it's going to result in priests being forced to perform gay weddings against their wills and against religious canon can actually point to a single case of this having occurred anywhere in the world where non-heterosexual marriage is already permitted, then I'll start paying attention to this particular argument. But until then... it's a stupid argument).

4) I have a bunch of seedlings from my mother that I picked up on Saturday - Mum buys a bunch of seedlings every year to plant out in her vegetable garden, but the vege patch isn't really all that big, so she's usually got some over. So now she's giving them to me, and I'm going to be planting them out in my vegetable garden space. If the rain ever lets up for long enough for me to get it done. I will also be surrounding them with enough snail bait to hopefully keep the troops of snails we currently have decimating everything in the garden well away for a while.

5) We have received an invitation to come over for dinner tonight from my parents. My brother, in a fit of enthusiasm (and in the grip of a high-protein diet) decided since today is a public holiday (and he thus doesn't have to go in to work) he was going to barbecue an entire beef brisket. So he went and bought himself what looks like half a cow - seriously, the thing occupied about half the width of my parents' chest freezer. So they've invited myself and Steve over to help consume the wretched thing. I may wind up being given some leftovers to take home with me, which means cottage pie for dinner some time this week.

QotD

Sep. 24th, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"[...] one of humanity's tragic flaws is to take for granted the gargantuan effort needed to create and maintain even little temporary pockets of order. Again and again, people imagine that, if their local pocket of order isn't working how they want, then they should smash it to pieces, since while admittedly that might make things even worse, there's also at least 50/50 odds that they'll magically improve. In reasoning thus, people fail to appreciate just how exponentially more numerous are the paths downhill, into barbarism and chaos, than are the few paths further up. So thrashing about randomly, with no knowledge or understanding, is statistically certain to make things worse: on this point thermodynamics, common sense, and human history are all in total agreement. The implications of these musings for the present would be left as exercises for the reader." -- Scott Aaronson, 2017-01-01

[To my friends observing Tzom Gedaliah, may you have an easy fast.]

(no subject)

Sep. 23rd, 2017 06:46 am
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
Thursday was family games night, with pizza. [personal profile] sithjawa joined, as well as the partner's large array of siblings and their spouses/etc.

After games were done, my partner showed me Who Framed Roger Rabbit? out of the "You haven't seen that yet?" queue. And we watched more of The Orville, and I tested out my stand mixer by making some cookies.

Friday, in honor of the equinox, I baked a sweet cardamom loaf. Then we did a shopping run, and my partner made dinner.

These past two days have involved a lot of small gas-powered motors around. Partner has summoned a yard maintenance company to take care of some of the tree, bush, weed, and tenacious invasive morning glory things that the ex neglected in the interminable six months leading up to departure. It's been loud, but is so much better looking now. Though there are still some more things left for today, like the stack of lichen-covered branches in the driveway.
xuenay: (Default)
[personal profile] xuenay
 I feel like one of the most important lessons I’ve had about How the World Works, which has taken quite a bit of time to sink in, is:

In general, neither organizations nor individual people do the thing that their supposed role says they should do. Rather they tend to do the things that align with their incentives (which may sometimes be economic, but even more often they are social and psychological). If you want to really change things, you have to change people’s incentives.

But I feel like I’ve had to gradually piece this together from a variety of places, over a long time; I’ve never read anything that would have laid down the whole picture. I remember that Freakonomics had a few chapters about how incentives cause unexpected behavior, but that was mostly about economic incentives, which are just a small part of the whole picture. And it didn’t really focus on the “nothing in the world works the way you’d naively expect” thing; as I recall, it was presented more as a curiosity.

On the other hand, Robin Hanson has had a lot of stuff about “X is not about Y“, but that has mostly been framed in terms of prestige and signaling, which is the kind of stuff that’s certainly an important part of the whole picture (the psychological kind of incentives), but again just a part of the picture. (However, his upcoming book goes into a lot more detail on why and how the publicly-stated motives for human or organizational behavior aren’t actually the true motives.)

And then in social/evolutionary/moral psychology there’s a bunch of stuff about social-psychological incentives, of how we’re motivated to denounce outgroups and form bonds with our ingroups; and how it can be socially costly to have accurate beliefs about outgroups and defend them to your ingroup, whereas it would be much more rewarding to just spread inaccuracies or outright lies about how terrible the outgroups are, and thus increase your own social standing. And how even well-meaning ideologies will by default get hijacked by these kinds of dynamics and become something quite different from what they claimed to be.

But again, that’s just one piece of the whole story. And you can find more isolated pieces of the whole story scattered around in a variety of articles and books, also stuff like the iron law of oligarchyrational irrationalitypublic choice theory, etc etc. But no grand synthesis.

There’s also a relevant strand of this in the psychology of motivation/procrastination/habit-formation, on why people keep putting off various things that they claim they want to do, but then don’t. And how small things can reshape people’s behavior, like if somebody ends up as a much more healthy eater just because they don’t happen to have a fast food restaurant conveniently near their route home from work. Which isn’t necessarily so much about incentives themselves, but an important building block in understanding why our behavior tends to be so strongly shaped by things that are entirely separate from consciously-set goals.

Additionally, the things that do drive human behavior are often things like maintaining a self-concept, seeking feelings of connection, autonomy and competencemaintaining status, enforcing various moral intuitions, etc., things that only loosely align one’s behavior with one’s stated goals. Often people may not even realize what exactly it is that they are trying to achieve with their behavior.

“Experiental pica” is a misdirected craving for something that doesn’t actually fulfill the need behind the craving. The term originally comes from a condition where people with a mineral deficiency start eating things like ice, which don’t actually help with the deficiency. Recently I’ve been shifting towards the perspective that, to a first approximation, roughly everything that people do is pica for some deeper desire, with that deeper desire being something like social connection, feeling safe and accepted, or having a feeling of autonomy or competence. That is, most of the things that people will give as reasons for why they are doing something will actually miss the mark, and also that many people are engaging in things that are actually relatively inefficient ways of achieving their true desires, such as pursuing career success when the real goal is social connection. (This doesn’t mean that the underlying desire would never be fulfilled, just that it gets fulfilled less often than it would if people were aware of their true desires.)

Originally published at Kaj Sotala. You can comment here or there.

QotD

Sep. 23rd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"It is the most GOP thing in the world to create the Kimmel test for p.r. reasons, fail it, and then blame Jimmy Kimmel for being political." -- Brian Beutler, 2017-09-22

Colorado Energy Freedom Tour

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:32 pm
flwyd: (1895 Colorado map)
[personal profile] flwyd
Last November I was really disappointed with the election. Not so much the results, but the way the whole year and a half had gone. People weren't listening to each other. They were shouting to their friends and painting folks they didn't know as terrible people. I managed to mostly avoid the commercial media, but the ads I did see were almost universally against an opponent rather than in support of a good idea.

So I decided that after I got healthy, I was going to be the change in political discourse I wanted to see in the world. As a left-leaning Boulderite who rides in technolibertarian cirlces, I wanted to come to a better understanding of conservative points of view and then find some conservatives to have some non-confrontational conversations with.

Since I was still moving slow from my year of illness, I realized that I shouldn't put the bulk of my energy in an imminent fight like health care or immigration. So I turned my attention to climate change, a systemic problem that doesn't require action tomorrow, but definitely requires action soon. It's also a problem that's not rooted in liberal or conservative values: every human has a stake in the outcome.

I connected with Citizens' Climate Lobby a non-partisan group focused on both national climate change legislation and cooperation across party lines. I realized that waiting for Democrats to take all three houses of power wasn't an effective strategy for addressing climate change. Not only would it delay action until the 2020s, it would be an easy target for repeal when the winds of change shift in Washington. CCL's carbon fee and dividend proposal is structured to be attractive to members of both major parties and therefore stands a chance of remaining on the books as people come and go from Capitol Hill. Plus, with the revenue generated from pricing carbon going to households, it could become a widely popular program, meaning constituents will speak up to keep it in place.

For the last few months I've been working with several other CCL volunteers to organize the Colorado Energy Freedom Tour. Following an outreach model that CCL has used from the Gulf Coast to Kentucky to Alaska, we're visiting a handful of towns in eastern Colorado. We'll be giving presentations in Erie, Fort Morgan, Greeley, Parker, and Sterling (and hopefully more to come). But more important than the information we're sharing, we'll be having conversations with folks about climate change, energy policy, and engaging with our elected representatives to ensure that Coloradans voices, whether urban or rural, are heard.

If you know anyone who lives near these towns and is interested in energy, climate, or market solutions, we'd love to see them at one of the presentations. We're also hoping to meet with organizations like city councils, newspaper editorial boards, chambers of commerce, and growers associations. Tell folks to check out Colorado Energy Freedom Tour on Facebook or on our website.
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
[personal profile] staranise
I just went through a new Elizabeth Wein book in 24 hours flat. *glows* The Pearl Thief is set in 1938 and features a fifteen-year-old, bisexual-as-fuck Julie Beaufort-Stuart.

[personal profile] archangelbeth on cats

Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:19 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly posting in [community profile] metaquotes
Cats can reproduce by budding. Make sure to dispose of all brushed fur properly.

Context needs to comb her cat more often.

Coming Soon!

Sep. 22nd, 2017 04:29 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
This is just a reminder that the mini-gaming convention I'm holding at 3 Trolls Games And Puzzles begins in just seven days! I've fleshed out the scheduled events a bit, but don't let that fool you - games should break out spontaneously whenever folks like. Here's what we have so far:

Friday evening The Hardest Arkham Horror game you've ever been in
Saturday day 3rd Reich
Saturday evening Blades in The Dark one-off scenario
Sunday morning Advanced Civilization
Sunday evening Large scale D&D session (a regular at the club, so this is more of a spectacle than something newcomers should do

In addition, I'm hoping the miniatures players will run some Bolt Action, Konflict '47, Warhammer 40K and Check Your Six as time allows. And of course, I'm hoping to play a bunch of shorter games myself.

We'll kick things off Friday at 14:00. We'll go until the last game ends on Sunday night.
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

Earlier this afternoon I did something I rarely do: Post a comment on a youtube video. I'm a veteran of USENET flame wars, so not much phased by the knuckle-dragger insults a thoughtful comment often draws there. But BITD, my newsgroup comments were also likely to yield worthwhile replies. Youtube, not so much.

But comment I did. And then did something I do even more rarely: Shared the video on Facebook. And now I want to share it with you as well. Starting with my FB introduction:

I've read a lot of excellent essays about art — literature, film, theater, even music. I've read a lot more that was crap, of course (or at any rate, started a lot more that was crap, before giving up in disgust). The point being that I know what well-crafted criticism is. And this video essay on how JK Rowling's characters — especially Hermione — changed from book to film is one of the best pieces of criticism I've ever seen. Well worth watching.




And the comment I left on youtube:

Thank you for a tremendously well-observed and thought-provoking close-reading. The Devil's Snare episode was one of my favorite parts of _Philosopher's Stone_ from the first time I read it. And when the movie came out, I leaned forward in my seat and literally waited with bated breath for URupert Grint to say "Are you a witch or what?" And left the movie muttering something about "best line of dialog in the entire book, and _they left it out?!_"

But I entirely failed to see it as part of _any_ larger pattern, let alone the sevaral you bring out. Good criticism is rare. In producing a piece of excellent criticism that's also entertaining and perfectly true, you've hit the trifecta. Great work. Thank you.

QotD

Sep. 22nd, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"This is a time for action -- not for war, but for mobilization of every bit of peace machinery. It is also a time for facing the fact that you cannot use a weapon, even though it is the weapon that gives you greater strength than other nations, if it is so destructive that it practically wipes out large areas of land and great numbers of innocent people. " -- Eleanor Roosevelt (b. 1884-10-11, d. 1962-11-07), My Day (newspaper column) 1954-04-16

graphic novel book group

Sep. 21st, 2017 11:10 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I went to Graphic Novel book group once before, to discuss Bitch Planet, when the group leader, Cameron, happened not to be there. He was there today. I don't think I'll be going back.

Maybe he would be diluted in a larger group? There were only four of us. And neither I nor the other two guys, whom I know from SF book group, are very good at grabbing the talking stick. Still Cameron seemed weirdly controlling. I think more than half the time was just Cameron talking, and he didn't leave spaces where other people could start talking if they wanted to; he'd call on us, like, "What did you think of it? Was there anything else that you liked?" And whenever anyone spoke up without being called on he'd say something like, "Yes, go ahead." He'd actually interrupt a person who was speaking in order to give them permission to speak. When he said he was a history teacher I thought, that explains it.
[personal profile] somervilleplanning posting in [community profile] davis_square
Monday, September 25, 6-8 p.m.

Tufts Administration Building (TAB), 167 Holland Street, Senior Center, 2nd Floor

Join the City Planning Department for a special update and discussion on the Davis Square Neighborhood Plan. We’re excited to present this meeting with the help of a facilitator who specializes in a meeting format designed to give participants control of the discussion topics. First, city staff will offer an update on the plan started in 2013/14 as well as a look at next steps. Then, to address outstanding topics and ensure that any new ideas and goals are identified, our facilitator will use the Round Robin meeting format, which asks participants to bring up topics for small-group discussions. In short, participants will set the agenda for the night and also shape topics for the next meeting.

At the second meeting in this series on October 19 (at the Community Baptist Church, 31 College Ave. 6-8 p.m.), we’ll take a deeper dive into the community-selected topics and identify action steps to address the goals and needs related to each. City staff will bring in resources and experts on the topic areas selected in the first meeting to serve as a resource during discussions.

Whether your concerns are open space, traffic, parking, streetscape, bicycle infrastructure, housing or more, we hope you’ll join us.

Unfortunately we cannot monitor this page, so if have any questions or need any more information, please contact us at planning@somervillema.org

For more information about Davis Square Neighborhood Planning visit https://www.somervillebydesign.com/neighborhood-planning/davis-square/

QotD

Sep. 21st, 2017 05:24 am
dglenn: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (Default)
[personal profile] dglenn

"Whatever your past has been, you have a spotless future" -- <not sure who said this>

[To my Jewish friends: Shanah Tovah!]

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