Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Science-Bible Shippers

You may not be familiar with the term “shipping” as used in this context. In internet fandom, shipping refers to a serious interest in the development of a romantic relationship between two fictional characters. In the case of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, for instance, there have been two major shipper groups: the Harry-Hermione shippers and the Ron-Hermione shippers. At this point, I’ll note that a spoiler for the novels is coming up, so if you haven’t already read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, you may want to stop reading now.

Moving on, shipper “cults” can become pretty invested in seeing a particular relationship develop. Some become so invested that they can become hostile to an author if the particular relationship they’ve been hoping to see never materializes. J. K. Rowling was reportedly surprised by the reaction of some Harry-Hermione shippers when she revealed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that the Harry-Hermione romance was never going to happen. Some of her fans became angry and claimed they were going to return their copies of the book, get rid of all their other related books, and stop following the series altogether.

So what does this have to do with science and the Bible? Well, I suspect that a certain faction of the religious have always expected that scientific discoveries would vindicate their Biblical beliefs. As an example, the so-called “Theory” of Intelligent Design was the latest effort to create a solid relationship between God and science. ID would show that while the scientific evidence of an ancient Earth and the slow development of various species from a common ancestor was accurate, the whole process would never have worked without the hand of God intervening and managing the process all the time.

Unfortunately, ID failed to do anything of the sort. It turned out to be nothing more than another collection of dubious criticisms of the Theory of Evolution, some poorly conceived mathematical arguments, and a big Argument from Ignorance. The failure of ID to produce any convincing evidence is part of a long record of unsuccessful efforts to find scientific support for Biblical claims.

And so it seems that as another Science-Bible shipper cult dies a gruesome death in cases like the Kitzmiller vs Dover suit, devoted followers of the cult are turning against the side they believe failed in the relationship. Naturally, most see science as the side that let them down. Right now, virtually any scientific claim – be it climate change, pollution, shrinking oil supplies, etc. – is subject to dismissal by religious fundamentalists who believe that science has rejected them.

If the religious would just stop looking for scientific validation of their beliefs, they'd probably be a lot happier.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Where there are Knights, there will be Knaves

I'm just passing on a bit of disappointing news from Gulf Wars XVI.

Greetings all,

Gulf Wars XVI was great, and later I may write up a nice post on the good times, but unfortunately, my first post must be about the really bad experience...

Sunday morning we discovered that someone had stolen most of our gear that I had left by our pavilion space Saturday evening at the battlefield. I should not have left it there overnight, however, we had left plenty of armor, weapons, etc. there during the week without incident. I have been in the SCA for over 25 years now, and, blissfully ignorant, have never had anything stolen before.

Whoever did this stole a goodly number of items of no small monetary value, probably more than a thousand dollars of stuff (in replacement value). But of more import, they stole from me an innocence, an ideal, a feeling of comfort and security. Now, when I take the field at the next foreign war, I will know that someone on that field may be a thief, a low, base, vile, dishonorable varlet.

Now I will know that all my opponents and even my allies may not be honorable men and women of valor.

This was unfortunately not a case of mistakenly gleaned items, but of theft. Our very large weapon pile was picked over, the thieves left a couple of weapons they did not want. Crispin's armor bag was turned into Lost and Found, but the helmet and gauntlets had been removed from it and it was found at a different location than it was left. At least one other person also had her helmet and gauntlets stolen in a similar manner.

Please forward this email on to every SCA list that might prove helpful. The far corners of the Knowne Worlde should know these items are stolen. Maybe someone will notice someone coming home from the war with a bounty of new used weapons and armor. Maybe the theives will give themselves away somehow and justice can be served (a police report has been filed).

All told, there were 5 fiberglass spears, 5 glaives/pole arms, 2 great swords, 2 long swords, 2 chairs, 1 pavilion, 1 helmet and 1 pair gauntlets stolen from us.

Spear: Nine foot long Black fiberglass shaft (older, thicker-walled variety of shaft) covered in wood grained contact paper; self-made thrusting tip, tapered, no shield hook; large knob end on the handle with black grip tape.

Spear: Nine foot long Brown fiberglass shaft (newer variety of shaft, very light) covered in very tattered wood grained contact paper; Mandrake Armory thrusting tip kit with shield hook; small knob end on the handle with black grip tape.

Spear: Nine foot long black duct taped shaft with decorative white
crosses; self-made cylindrical thrusting tip; the spear was a few inches too
long and did not pass inspection.

Spear: Nine foot long black and purple decorated shaft; self-made thrusting tip (tapered) with a decorative yellow fleur-de-lis on the thrusting tip's face.

Spear: Nine foot long red fiberglass shaft, un-taped, cracked slightly; self-made thrusting tip and shield hook.

War Glaive: Rattan 7 1/2 foot long shaft, has a unique bend to it with shaved sides; grip tape handle and grip at top of the haft; self-made thrusting tip and butt spike; self made flat teardrop shaped hand guard at the juncture of haft and blade.

Short Glaive: Six foot long shaft, blade silver and blue duct tape, haft covered with black duct tape and spiral wrapped with grip tape; thrusting tip and butt spike self-made using black rubber ball hitch covers; flat oblong hand guard at juncture of haft and blade.

Glaive: Apx. seven foot rattan shaft, stained to look like a darker wood; silver duct tape blade with black contrast edge.

Glaive: Apx. Seven and a half foot long rattan shaft; silver duct tape blade with black contrast edge; two large, red taped, busted-ass thrusting tips on either end.

Great Sword: Apx. six foot rattan greatsword, light and strong; shaved handle, silver duct tape with black tape contrast edge.

Great Sword: Apx. six foot rattan greatsword, light and strong; shaved handle, silver duct tape with black tape contrast edge.

Field Pavilion: "First Up" brand 10x10 popup pavilion, blue canopy, white metal frame; black triangular dagging sewn around bottom edge of canopy; patches with Tymm Gard's and the Triskele Legion's devices sewn over the "First Up" logos on the canopy.

Gauntlets: Mild steel mitten gauntlets; Blacksword Armory design and make; they were painted black with white letters drawn upon them.

Helmet: Mild steel bascinet with bar grille; Blacksword Armory original item. I will post links to pictures of the missing items later...

Swords: Inch and a quarter diameter rattan, shaved handles; Asgard black plastic cup hilts; silver duct tape with yellow contrast edges; no thrusting tips.

Chair: Wooden framed, short legged "Director's" style; beige mesh waterproof fabric back and seat; sold at Target stores.

Chair: Dark wooden folding chair, period design with a carved back piece and lion head carved into the ends of the arm rests. This chair is fairly unique and not readily replacable.

Please forward any info to Anushka at aleannain_AT_insightbb_DOT_com

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Back from Gulf Wars 16

Well, I’m back from Gulf Wars XVI and I’ve had a day to recover, so I can finally post something about it. The bad news is that I was a complete camera slacker, so I’ll have to prevail on some other people to provide pictures for me at some point.

Dance activities went pretty well at the war, and I think I’ve got a better handle on how to do things for next year. Among other things, I’ve got a good idea of what days and times are best for dance classes, and I know that putting classes on the schedule definitely does help with attendance. I'll be starting a new mailing list for dance hosts and instructors soon to plan the next war's activities better. On a related note, Lady Francesca and I won the Populace Prize for performing arts.

Since I was coordinating dance activities, I didn’t spend as much time fencing this year as I have in previous years. I participated in the Verona Street Brawls on Monday and got to spar some with the Queen of Ansteorra; I must say it’s always a pleasure to have royalty come out to join us on the rapier field. I didn’t armor up again until Thursday for the Ladies of the Rose tournament, in which I didn’t last long (which is becoming a distressing pattern – I need to practice more). Helped hold one of the flags for a while in the Ravine Battle, despite our major numerical disadvantage, and I fought in the Field Battle, as well. Numbers were killing us in the war point battles, though.

My final bit of fencing fun was the Fort Battles on Saturday afternoon. These aren’t worth war points, which makes them far more relaxed and fun. We had even teams, which generally does not bode well for the invaders. In fact, I was rather surprised when our side successfully invaded the fort on one of our turns attacking. Capitan Ricarte Bereguer Halcon came up with the idea of just ignoring the windows and the sally port and rushing everyone through the main gate immediately. This proved to be a bit of a surprise for the defenders and we took the fort with surprisingly few casualties. That was the only time the attackers won.

Now I just have to scrounge around and see if I can scare up some pictures.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Anatomy of a Dance Reconstruction, Part 5

Chained walk done in the wheel.

Each man will take the right hand of his lady, and they will do together 1 Seguito grave with the left; then taking the hand of the other lady by the left, they will do another Seguito with the right; and so they will follow from hand to hand, doing always the chain in the wheel, until they will have done 6 Seguiti: to the end of which each one will be discovered again in his place with his lady: and they will do this in 3 times of the Sonata.
For this chained walk, the dancers are “swimming” around the circle by exchanging hands in what English Country Dances would call a “hey”.

The seguito grave is normally three steps in three counts, followed by a pause on the fourth count. According to Caroso, it will take six seguiti gravi to complete a journey around the circle and return to your partner. This section of the music has forty-eight ordinary beats, so one seguito grave is going to have to use eight of them.

This is going to be one of the trickiest parts of the dance to interpret. In Contrapasso, this portion of the music takes eight seguito ordinario, so using the same arrangement of the music to complete six seguito grave could be problematic. The Dragonscale Consort arrangement of Contrapasso in Due the music may be incompatible with Contrapasso Nuovo.
After that they will do together the Riverenza grave, and 2 Continenze,
The riverenza grave will take twelve beats, and the continenze six beats left and six right.
with 4 Seguiti flanked, 2 back, and 2 forward.
This is the same set of flanked seguiti ordinario that we saw during this movement of the music before. As before, the sequence will take twenty-four ordinary beats.
All together will do 2 Passi gravi, and 1 Doppio presto forward, starting with the left, and they will take hands in the wheel,
As before, each passo grave will take three ordinary beats and the seguito ordinario will take six.
then back they will do 2 Passi grave, and 2 Riprese to the right, starting with the right.
Each passo grave will take three beats and each riprese will also take three.
Letting go of hands then, they will do of new the said 4 Seguiti flanked, as of above.
Four more flanked seguito ordinario in twenty-four beats.
Finally each man will take the right hand of his lady, and doing the Riverenza with the left foot; and each one turning the body to the lady which will stand to the left hand, they will take her left hand, and will do the Riverenza with the right:
A riverenza grave to your partner and another riverenza to your contrary (the person standing to the opposite side of you from your partner), each taking twelve beats.
then all letting go will do 4 Seguiti flanked, 2 back, and 2 forward, scurrying, starting it with the right:
Four more flanked seguito ordinario in twenty-four beats.
finally they will end the Ballo with doing the Riverenza with the left foot, which they will be found to have forward.
And a final riverenza.

486 Seguiti gravi, exchanging hands around the set, starting with your partner
24Riverenza grave, and 2 Continenze
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Doppio presto forward
122 Passi grave, and 2 Riprese to the right
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward
12Riverenza gravi to partner
12Riverenza gravi to contrary
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward
*Riverenza grave

On to Part 6.

Science in the Media

I came across this photo and caption on Yahoo News.

Liu Shuping, a farmer specializing in raising pigs, presents a newly-born piglet with one head, two mouths, two noses and three eyes, for photographers in Xi'an, northwest China's Shannxi Province March 6, 2007. Experts attributed it's condition to genetic variation, local media reported. Picture taken March 6, 2007. CHINA OUT REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA)
Despite the opinion of some unnamed “expert”, this little pig does not have a genetic variation. This is a developmental error, not a genetic error. Specifically, we’re looking at a small-scale manifestation of conjoined twins. Makes you wonder who the China Daily considers an expert.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Anatomy of a Dance Reconstruction, Part 4

We have now reached the first change of the music. I generally think of this second movement of the music as a sort of chorus, although it’s certainly not one in the same sense as the chorus of a cascarda like Laccio d’Amore or Gracca Amoroso. It has a repetitiveness, though, that makes me think of it that way. This movement of the music is where the dancers start to really interact with each other.

After each one will take the right hand of his lady, and will do 2 Passi gravi, with 1 Seguito ordinario, starting it with the left, and changing place.
Going by our previous timing cues, each passo grave will take three (ordinary) beats and the seguito ordinario will take six. First time around, the lords will switch places with their partners while holding right hands. This will take twelve counts

Then the man taking the left hand of the lady which he will find to the right hand, they will do together 2 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito semidoppio, changing place always: they will not be sorry, if the second turn they will be found without their lady, because then to the end of the third change, each one will be discovered again with his own.
Here’s where this dance differs most interestingly from Contrapasso. Instead of the partners reversing their turn to go back to their original places, they separate and start working their way around the circle. They take the left hand of the next lord/lady in the circle to do a second switch.By the third repeat of the “chorus”, they’ll find each other again.

The passi gravi still take three beats each, but the seguito semidoppio is a trickier step to perform in the allotted six beats of music. The two passi presti together should theoretically take three beats, with the seguito spezzato taking the remaining three, but you may find it hard to stretch two quick steps over three beats of music. Just how to make the rhythm look and feel natural is something to work out when you actually start performing the steps to the music. My guess is that I’ll arrange the passi presti in two beats, the spezzato in the next three, and rest briefly on the sixth beat. This part of the change will take another twelve counts.

The Semidoppio done, they will do 4 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward.
A similar set of flanked seguiti ordinarii occurs in Contrapasso. This entire sequence will take twenty-four ordinary beats. I suspect that everyone will need to make these moves toward the outside of the circle to avoid collisions.

Second change.

The men will take the lady who stands to the right hand by the right arm, and they will do the same which they will have done in the first change when they took her by the hands, always changing ladies, and place.
The exchanges now continue, the only difference being that the we “arm” our way around instead of just taking hands. By arming, we meant that you lightly hold the other person by the elbow. The switches will take twenty-four beats, followed by flanking out and back for another twenty four beats.

Third change.

The men taking the lady which stands to the right by both hands, they will do the same changes said above. And to the end of this change each one will be discovered again at his place, as they were standing when they started the Ballo.

In the third set of exchanges, we take the other person by both hands instead of just one. This could potentially be a little awkward when switching in the middle. Again, the switches will take twenty-four beats, followed by flanking out and back for twenty four beats.

Summing all that up…

122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito ordinario (hands)
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito semidoppio (hands)
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito ordinario (arms)
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito semidoppio (arms)
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito ordinario (both hands)
122 Passi gravi, and 1 Seguito semidoppio (both hands)
244 Seguiti ordinarii, 2 flanked back, and 2 forward

In our next installment, we’ll go back to the first movement of the music, as the entire piece essentially repeats in full, but with movements for the dancers.

On to Part 5.