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Canonical link: https://siderea.dreamwidth.org/1355110.html

[We interrupt the previously scheduled rant for another rant.]

At some point, if you are so lucky, you will be old. You may already be old. Somebody you love may already be old. Old people, being people, require medical care, and are often treated – because this is basically what primary care in our society consists of – with medications.

Thing is, old bodies handle medicine differently than young ones.

Take the liver... [3,340 Words] )

This post brought to you by the 137 readers who funded my writing it – thank you all so much! You can see who they are at my Patreon page. If you're not one of them, and would be willing to chip in so I can write more things like this, please do so there.

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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.
etherial: Earthdawn Logo (earthdawn)
[personal profile] etherial
 From the court-mandated parole log of Gronk Longtusk:
10 Raquas
Hired on as a guard for a caravan of settlers heading out from Throal. Lareth and Anfalon don't strike me as the smartest of leaders. Only 25 humans to start a new town out in the wilds? I wish them well. If there's hope for them, then there's hope for the Buunda Boys.
 
11 Raquas
Our first day out of Throal. Two brothers, Vah and Zot, got into a scuffle. The other adepts tried to break them up before anyone even drew blood. Cleary these ujnort don't understand what a real fight looks like. If they had intended any harm, there'd have been some broken bones and eye gouging.
 
My fellow guards are Heartscry, a Windling Illusionist; Krel Tor, a Troll Nethermancer; and Ceadda, a Human Warrior. Three of us are quiet, but Heartscry tries to make up for it by sticking her pointy nose into everyone's business. She was able to find out that Vah and Zot's father had run the market in the Hall these Humans grew up in, and did not treat his customers well. Wish I had known these folks before, we could have knocked over his store and everyone would have been better off for it.
 
Heartscry and I will take first watch, Ceadda and Krel Tor the second.
 
12 Raquas
During the night, a sneak managed to take a sword from Rosario, one of the Humans. They placed it in Zot's tent. Odd, though, that we found their tracks so easily. It didn't seem likely to us that he was the thief, but Lareth banished him anyway. Heartscry told him to follow along, a couple hours behind the caravan. She had tried to talk to his brother, but was brushed off. We're pretty sure he knows who the sneak is.
 
During the long walk south we kept an eye out for any suspicious behavior. Setting up camp for the night, we noticed that Kirtar, a dirt poor fisherman, had suddenly gained a tent. He'd slept under a wagon the night before. Now, he was the proud owner of Zot's tent. We have ourselves a suspect for Vah's accomplice.
 
We worked out a plan to catch the real thief. I'm going to hide on the roof of one of the wagons during our watch, while Heartscry will be big and obvious.
 
12 Raquas (again)
The plan worked. Vah made some furtive attempts to get out of his tent, each time seeing Heartscry fly by, and cowering back inside. Once he figured out her big and obvious pattern, he snuck out and met with Kirtar. Vah handed Kirtar a sack of silver, rewarding him for 10% of Zot's stolen wealth. With both culprits caught red-handed in the middle of camp, I needed a little ruckus to wake everyone up, so I shot Vah in the foot.
 
Sure enough, he started screaming, bringing Loreth, Anfalon, a buck-naked Ceadda, and everyone else out of their tents. Faced with the possibility of walking back to Throal on two broken feet, Vah started to waffle. Faced with my glowing red finger on his breast, Kirtar was more than happy to turn in his boss. Loreth booted the two of them out of the caravan and apologized to Zot.
 
14 Raquas
Mid-day, the trail we were following suddenly ended. The Scouts who were supposed to be showing us the way must have gotten into trouble. With a little luck, we were able to find one of them. He was delirious, his skin discolored by a venomous bite. We administered a poultice and continued down, trying to find his partner.
 
We encountered a creature, something called a Dappled Brithan. It was kind of like a big furry Troll that crawled around on all fours. Extremely territorial, we had to prove our worth to it. Ceadda answered its challenge, and though he nearly got himself killed, his tenacity allowed him to knock it unconscious. We had a Scout to find, so we didn't stay to skin and butcher it.
 
Down by the river, we saw something called a Bog Gob, a hideous gray lumpen thing, gnawing on the bones of the other Scout. This was apparently not normal behavior for Bog Gobs. Then it attacked us. We'd've easily handled it, but it had a Blood Raven friend and Ceadda managed to step on some snakes that attacked us. Heartscry was able to keep the Blood Raven occupied and even cast her Displace Image spell on the other two, but that just meant the snakes went after me. That poison was seriously harsh and I blacked out for a moment, but we were able to defeat the monsters and recover the Scout's body.
 
15 Raquas
We've delivered the settlers to their new home. They offered to let us Name it, and Heartscry Named it Borgan's Rest, after the Scout who lost his life helping them get there. I'm still worried that Lareth will too-quickly rush to judgment in the future, but that's their business, not mine. We headed back to Throal and left them to their work.
 
18 Raquas
Back in Throal. We detected no sign of Kirtar and Vah. I hope they didn't get attacked by a Horror.
 
PCs:
Gronk Longtusk, male Ork Archer
Heartscry, female Windling Illusionist
Krel Tor, male Troll Nethermancer
Ceadda, male Human Warrior
 
NPCs:
Lareth, large Human blacksmith, leader
Anfalon, small Human tailor, his wife
Vah and Zot, angry brothers
Rosario, sword owner
Kirtar, lying liar who lies, fisherman
 

Cool Stuff Friday

Sep. 22nd, 2017 11:41 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday has been having trouble keeping up on the blogging lately…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

This Week in Nazi-Punching

Sep. 20th, 2017 04:15 pm
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[personal profile] jimhines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

The Epilogue

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:42 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Today I got a guided tour of the new Arms & Armor exhibit at the Chicago Institute Of Art from the associate curator for Arms and Armor, Jonathon Tavares, who is a friend of the Chicago Swordplay Guild. With the demise of the Higgins, Jonathon claimed this collection was probably the 3rd largest in the country.

If I understand things correctly, the presentation of the collection was designed by Jonathon, and is stunningly well done. It starts with several paintings and sculptures with ecclesiastical themes, moving on to secular ones, and ending up with several rooms of magnificent arms and armor from the Viking Age through the Late Renaissance.

Jonathon talked about practically every piece we walked by. His knowledge of what he has is encyclopedic. He talked about the individual pieces, their origins, history, construction, materials, why he put them on public display, and some of the ongoing projects to recreate techniques of construction using the raw materials the armorers had available to them - down to ore from the mines they got their iron and silver from.

I generally don't take pictures of things, because (a) it distracts from my actual viewing of the piece; (b) the person who did it for the book/postcard/print in the gift shop will do a much better job; (c) I'd rather just go back and look at it again. But this time I did take one picture, of a painting depicting St. George and the Dragon. St. George is in armor which was done in silver leaf, and has tarnished to black over time. My plan, when I get home, is to photoshop the armor back to some version of silver, and then show the results in a side by side comparison. Don't know when I'll get to it though - probably not before October sometime, I imagine.

I also learned that Dr. Helmut Nickel, former curator for arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, is still alive. Jonathon says he's 96 now, and so doesn't get out much. I met him once, when Patri arranged for him to come to Boston to give a talk to the SCAdians here. He brought examples. It was glorious. I didn't realize what a wonderful thing I'd attended until years later.

And now, I'm spending one last quiet night recovering at Rick and Libby's place, thinking "There's no place like home".

Age of Rusty Reviews

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:37 pm
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[personal profile] bluegargantua

Hey,

   I managed to pick up the pace on my reading so it hasn't been a month since the last review!

  First up Age of Assassins by RJ Barker.  As I've said, I prefer my heroes a bit on the older side these days because I am and I enjoy reading about characters who aren't driven by teenage emotions.  You Die When You Die was a pretty good book but the teenaged protagonist was a chore to read sometimes.  That said, here we are with another book about a young teenager trying to figure out this grown-up thing.  This is complicated by the fact that he's being raised and trained by Merela, a professional assassin.

  The book's setting has a Dark Sun vibe, people can use magic but it draws on life force so if you want to do a big magical spell, you can, but a huge section of land will become barren and lifeless.  Luckily, you can reverse that.  Unluckily, you reverse it by spilling blood onto the "sourlands" magic leaves behind.  So there's a pogrom out for people talented in magic and pretty rough existence for everyone else.

  Girton, our hero, and his master infiltrate a castle on a mysterious mission.  The mysterious mission is a set-up.  The local queen needs an assassin to prevent another assassin from killing her son.  The queen has plans for her son to take over not just the local kingdom but to marry into the High King's family and take over from there.  The son is a jerk and not terribly popular and the grandson of the previously deposed king is around.  So there's intrigue aplenty.

  Girton, of course, is just an apprentice so he winds up doing a lot of grunt work and even when he finds the important clues, he doesn't realize it until Merela puts it together.  That's not to say he's stupid or incompetent (he doesn't kill without reason, but he does kill), just that he's a teenager and there's a lot he still doesn't know.  It's a bit like a Nero Wolfe mystery in which Archie does a ton of running around and then Nero just looks up from his chair and tells you the solution.

  All in all, it was an ok book.  I'm curious to try the next one in the series, but I wasn't super blown away by it.  Certainly a good source for plots in a LARP or RPG.

  Next I read Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill and it's probably one of the better books of fiction I've read this year.  Not terribly literary, but It really sucked me in and held my attention with good characters, dialog, world-building, pacing, and even the deeper themes it touches on.

  In this book, the robots rose up and killed all of mankind (and most of the life on the planet).  The story follows Brittle, a service robot who used to work for humans and now scours the Sea of Rust, the upper Midwest of the US where the freebots try and eke out a living.  Freebots?  Oh yes, because after the robot uprising, the giant mainframe AIs said "download yourself to our servers and let us use your body.  join the One. resistance is futile".  For the most part, resistance has been pretty futile and robots who don't want to be part of one of the major mainframes are out in places like the Sea of Rust trying to keep their heads down and keep a supply of spare parts handy.

  Brittle does a lot of this -- she follows malfunctioning bots out into the wild and when they shut down, she loots them for parts -- either parts she needs or parts she can trade to get what she wants.  Coming home from a successful mission, she gets ambushed.  She survives but gets injured in the process and now she needs to secure a new core for her model or she'll go mental as well.  About this time one of the mainframes makes a major push into the Sea of Rust.

  The book alternates a bit between Brittle's narrative about what's going on and Brittle describing the rise of the AIs and their overthrow of the humans.  That sometimes annoys me (it seems like your padding the page count), but it was pretty well done here.  Although the book plays out like a robot Western or Noir, there are quieter moments where robots probe interesting philosophical questions that lead you down very different and very similar paths when your a robot and not a biological being.  Oh, and yeah, Brittle is a she and why that is so is one of the interesting questions they deal with.

  It was a solid book and I highly recommend it.

later
Tom

The Finale

Sep. 17th, 2017 09:43 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
It was a great last day. I've loved the whole thing. I'm coming back in two years (next year we're cruising the Eastern Med.) I can recommend this event to anyone with a serious interest in European weapons fighting. While HEMA uses its own rules set to play the game they play, the classes all have adaptability to varying rules sets in mind, even when that wasn't built in explicitly, so far as I can tell.

9:30 Armizare Free Expression: Working across the System. Greg Mele may well be the finest martial arts teacher I've ever encountered - and I say that even though I'm not really a Fiore guy. He is certainly a far better teacher than I am. In this class, he didn't teach plays or techniques, though both were in the class - he taught ideas, and used the techniques to explicate them. It was a tour-de-force, and I'm glad I got to see it.

13:00 Pole Arm fighting in the Leichtenauer Tradition. This was pretty much the class that I came to WMAW for, and it didn't disappoint. Even though Christian Tobler gave a very basic class, I got to practice a thing I'd seen in passing and never gave enough credit to.

There are generally two pole arm grips people use - thumbs in the same direction for distance work and powerful oberhau's, and thumbs pointing at each other for close work. Ideally, you'd like to switch between the two.

The problem is that in gauntlets, it's generally difficult to do so, and transitioning from one to the other really can only happen when you are not at hazard. But having one or the other grip telegraphs your intention. It's basically why I always try to fight in close - I pretty much always use a thumbs pointing at each other grip. It's a weakness, and at my age, weaknesses magnify.

But there's a solution to the problem - instead of gripping the pole arm with your leading hand at all, you can let the shaft sit along the palm of your hand. It is easy to shift from this to either of the other two grips, and so if you take that initial neutral grip, you can make your entering move without your opponent having a preview of whether you're going to come fight in or out.

I've done that in practice now, and I'm going to try to do it in tournament at the next convenient opportunity. If I like it as much as I do now, I am going to incorporate it into my teaching.

Monday morning I get a private tour of the armor collection at the Chicago Art Institute, sponsored/arranged for by the Chicago Sword Guild. I expect it to be grand.

Tuesday I get to come home again. I love traveling, but I love coming home just as much.

[sci hist] A Most Remarkable Week

Sep. 17th, 2017 12:52 am
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
(h/t Metafilter)

This link should take you to the audio player for The Moth, cued to a story, "Who Can You Trust", 12 minutes long.

The Moth, if you didn't know, is an organization that supports storytelling – solo spoken word prose – true stories. This story is told by Dr. Mary-Clare King, the discoverer of BRC1. It concerns a most extraordinary week in her life, when pretty much everything went absurdly wrong and right at all once. It is by turns appalling and amazing and touching and throughout hilarious.

It's worth hearing her tell herself before the live audience. But if you prefer transcript, that's here – but even the link is a spoiler.

Recommended.

Day3

Sep. 16th, 2017 07:15 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
So running on fumes for the past couple of weeks finally caught up with me, and today ended up being a very laid-back day for me. Just as well, given the intensity of yesterday.

9am: lecture of the flexibility of historical fencing swords. Daniel Jaquet presented some findings from studying the physical properties of three "fencing swords" (swords specifically used for practice) in Zurich.

11:00 Armored combat clinic and monitored sparring. Mostly I hung out with Bob Charette and talked about differences between HEMA and SCA combat, and we both talked to some people about some finer points of poleax fighting.

12:45 Wrestling techniques for armored opponents. Daniel demonstrated several of his reconstructions from a German fight book about wrestling techniques in armor. I think he's still in an early stage with a lot of this stuff - he has a couple of techniques down cold, and thinks some of the other techniques are fanciful. This is a sort of well known place reconstructors end up in when they have had the first insight into their material, but haven't worked through enough to understand beyond the first flush yet. Sort of like archeologists calling unidentified items religious artifacts. I think it sort of ends up being a placeholder.

Anyway, I got some insight into throwing people around in armor, but it was during this class that I sort of shut down for the rest of the day. I ended up auditing

15:00 Monte's Two Handed Sword - The Levata. So there was this early 16th century guy who published a hodgepodge of instructions on fighting. Like many fencing masters of his time, he thought two-handed sword fighting was the basis for everything else, and so used those techniques, which he called the Levata, as the foundation for a lot of his instructions on a variety of forms. This class went through some of them. I was I'd had some gas left, because they looked like they were having a lot of fun.

I'm skipping the feast and entertainment tonight, in the hopes of being back up to form tomorrow. The premier HEMA pole arm guy is teaching a pole arm class, and he knows stuff I do not. That's got to change, at least in small part.

Day 2

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:51 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Today I took two longer classes

9:00 Bruchius and the Dutch Rapier Tradition. I gather this wasn't what was actually taught - the instructor decided to talk about Dutch rapier fighting as it relates to tempo. There was still a ton of information I got. Amongst other things, I got some info on why Thomas Of Effingham holds his rapier the way he does. :)

It also turned out most of the class was above my pay grade. The first half of the class was introductory rapier techniques, reminiscent of techniques Quinn has briefly shown me. I was terrible at them. Apparently, trying to finesse your way through a guard so you can poke a person isn't all that much like knocking them into next week with a poleax. Who knew? Someday I may get good at that - it is certainly my intent. Today was not that day. I bowed out at the half-way point when they started doing much more advanced stuff, and went and audited (since I didn't have equipment) the Spanish sword and buckler class.

13:00 Persian War Wrestling. I did somewhat better in this class. :) Though it was still a bit problematical, for reasons I'll go into below. The instructor was quite expert, and of a very serious nature. He wanted us to know that this wasn't a class where the partners are cooperative to get to the right result, but really wanted us to resist and try to frustrate our opponents at every turn.

I have no formal background in wrestling at all, but have picked up a thing or two over the years - there's a reason why in my heyday charging opponents all bounced off me. This is important for later.

What the instructor stressed was: (a) you need to get close to your opponent, putting your body on theirs a lot; (b) you can't just charge in, but have to frustrate their guard first; (c) you need to mix up which part of the body you go for, so your opponent doesn't know a priori if you're planning on lifting him up or throwing them down. He then started on a variety of techniques of breaking through guards. I learned a lot in a short period of time.

But now for the problem bits. We get to the end of the indoor part of the session, and he asks for a couple of volunteers. Naturally I go up. Another guy, 6'5" or so, and very fit, is the other volunteer, and asks him to demo the first technique we learned. He does. It doesn't work. That is he can go through the motions of the technique, and sort of get to the desired position to throw me, but in doing so, he didn't actually restrict me, and is therefore unable to throw me to the ground. We talk a bit about why that happened, and then the instructor has a third volunteer come up to demonstrate the second technique.

Same thing. Doesn't work. The guy sort of executes the move, but I frustrate him enough that he doesn't control me at all when the time comes for the throw. We go through the same rigamarole again.

The instructor decides to do the third technique himself. This time it partially works. He displaces me, and I'm not free of action, but I am in a solid stance, so he can't actually throw me directly. However, if he wanted to, he was in a position to punch my kidneys very hard, and the way for me to get out of that was to go to the ground, which I did.

He then did the submission move, but I managed to get an arm up to fend things off, so I was in a place of distress, but not yet helpless. His counter to that was, interestingly, to roll back and forth across my chest so I expelled all the air in my lungs, and then I was done.

But here's the thing. I'm pretty sure that rather than just hold him off like I did, I could have thrown him off me and recovered. Maybe he was prepared for that, but I decided not to try that, and here's why:

The problem was the situation. (a) he was teaching basic techniques. The thing about basic technique is that if the sport is fair and interesting, it can be countered. If the first easy thing was guaranteed to work, it wouldn't be much of a sport. (b) The instructor could, in fact, have seriously injured me anytime he wanted to. But of course, he'd never do that. By setting up a situation where I was supposed to resist to my utmost, we escalated to the point where he'd either have to do some other technique or do something more drastic than was reasonable for the setting we were in.

I face this problem teaching historical poleax sometime. Since I do a lot of set play teaching, we often get to a point where one of the partners can do something to frustrate their partner - but the point is to teach the technique. The technique isn't flawed because there's a way to frustrate it - if someone does, you switch over to Plan B. The point is to get a lot of different techniques into the repertoire.

So the bottom line is I did learn a lot, I wasn't all that happy with how I behaved during the demos, and I also wasn't all that happy with not seeing some better way to navigate through the situation. It's a teaching moment I don't have a good answer for, and I wish I did.

Day 1

Sep. 14th, 2017 07:38 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
10:30 Abrizare class with daggers and rapiers. This was grappling with weapons. The dagger stuff was reasonably easy, the rapier arm lock was a big trickier. It was all a lot of fun, and I'm going to be interested in the results of the Midrealm wresting-while-fighting experiment - it seems like a pretty dangerous thing to incorporate into a full-contact sport, because it would be awfully easy to break bones. Still, with a modicum of care, it is both a lot of fun, and brings people to closer contact with judicial combat.

13:00 Drills for Armored combat. This was HEMA-style armored combat, and so these were all drills meant to get at the unarmored bits of fully armored people - armpit, palm, eyeslot, and other creases in the armor. It was all half-swording drills, which were fascinating.

At the end was a drill that I may try to see if it'll fly in the cut and thust practices. Basically, it's build your own set play. Partners start in a defensive position, in or out of range. The leader makes some sort of entering play against that which the follower doesn't respond to. Reset, and do it again, until the leader is happy with their entering move. Then do it again, except now the follower responds with both a defense and attack. Keep doing that until the responder is happy with what they have, and then the leader adds segment 3, responder segment 4, etc. until the logic of the situation requires a break. That drill really supercharged my learning how to half-sword.

14:30 Montante class. A Montante is a Spanish great sword. No, that's not right. Well, it's right, but its not descriptive. A Montante is an impossibly large weapon. It's a level 120 Horde weapon from World Of Warcraft. Its a weapon large and heavy enough that even Flieg would approve of it. It isn't meant for single combat, it's made to clear streets in a riot, to knock a Ritter off his horse, to stove in the side of a pike formation. It is a weapon best wielded by Demi-gods.

You know how you use different moves when you are fighting half a dozen people, and aren't just worried about one? Those are the moves we practiced. I keep thinking, somehow I've got to be able to use this stuff in an SCA melee to bust up a line, but I don't think I could get a weapon passed that could do what we did today - and that's counting that I have an in with the Earl Marshal. :)

After the Montante class, I was done. By done, I mean no longer able to lift my arms up, and wondering why it is people think expending the energy to walk is a good idea - so I skipped the last class of the day, which is too bad since it was Persian spear technique, and I gather the guy who teaches it really knows his stuff.

The hotel I'm staying at has a pool with a jacuzzi. I may have to go buy swim trunks.

Tomorrow is another day.

Links, Reminders, and Misc

Sep. 14th, 2017 01:51 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

[work] "Okay. Where are we?"

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:16 am
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[personal profile] mangosteen
Things I say non-ironically: “I’m used to occupying a weird spot in the corporate realpolitik orgchart… the big open spot in right-center field where the outfielders aren’t because someone read the play wrong.”

More on that later, but I wanted to get the thought out.
siderea: (Default)
[personal profile] siderea
I have a recollection of hearing a filk song, I think from a tape, that had a climactic line or repeated like in the refrain, to the effect of "And that's what cities get from trains". I have an impression it was a Leslie Fish song, but I don't know that for sure.

Not having any joy of google. Does anybody recognize it?

The Tick, Season One

Sep. 13th, 2017 11:43 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

My introduction to The Tick came in the late 90s, with the animated series. A few of my grad school friends and I would get together each week, eat Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, and watch The Tick (and a few other shows.)

I loved it. I loved the humor, the silliness, the undermining of superhero tropes, and the overall sense of fun.

This was my background as I logged onto Amazon Prime to watch their live-action take on The Tick.

It felt like the entire show was filmed using the same Gritty Angst Filter they used on Batman v Superman. They managed to make The Tick almost entirely joyless.

Spoilers follow…

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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[personal profile] siderea
(h/t Metafilter)

I just heard about Senior House. Goddamn.

Also. I hadn't realized that dealing with the administration in his capacity as Senior House's housemaster is what drove Henry Jenkins from MIT. Goddamn.

I am surprisingly angry and sad about this, given that I'm not a SH affiliate.

The shutdown of Senior House would be bad news, by itself. This is appalling:
The questionnaire, the Healthy Minds Survey, was administered by the University of Michigan. Many schools around the country give it to students as a way to pinpoint problems on campus and decide how best to allocate resources. When MIT administered it in 2015, they told students that it was a confidential survey intended to help them. One of the chancellor’s assistants who had lived in Senior House when she was an undergraduate went to Senior House and specifically requested that the residents take it. They did, in large numbers.

What they didn’t know—and what they couldn’t have known from reading the consent form that accompanied it—was that MIT had embedded metadata that allowed the administration to pinpoint the location of those filling out the questionnaire, enabling them to segment the results by dorm. The only question about dorm type in the survey was vague—“What kind of dorm do you live in? Small, large, off campus?”—but by tracking the metadata, Barnhart and the administration were able to see exactly where respondents lived.

It was this data that enabled Barnhart to see what she called a troubling hot spot of drug use. “If it wasn’t a direct violation, it was at least a violation of the spirit of informed consent,” Johnson says.
In light of that...
As Senior House students spread out across campus this year, former advisers worry that they’ll be at even greater risk. They can reach out to MIT’s mental health services if they need it, the chancellor says.
Is there some reason that MIT students should trust MIT Med to keep their information confidential? When MIT just used the confidential results of a "Healthy Minds Survey", which was advertised as a way of seeing where resources were needed, to eliminate resources from vulnerable populations? And the relevant IRB gave it a pass?

(Dear MIT students, and alums concerned about them: it is apparently hypothetically possible for students on the default MIT student health insurance ("extended" plan) to see therapists unaffiliated with MIT, but it has a pretty punative copay:
If you are covered by the MIT Student Extended Plan, and you see a mental health clinician who participates in the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) PPO, your first 12 visits in a calendar year are covered in full (100%). After that, you will have a $25 copay for each visit.

If you are covered by the MIT Student Extended Plan, and you see a mental health clinician who does NOT participate in the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) PPO, your first 12 visits in a calendar year are covered at 100 percent of the BCBS allowed amount. After that, your insurance will cover 80 percent of the allowed amount, and you will pay the other 20 percent. For all of your visits, your clinician may bill you for the difference between the BCBS allowed amount and his or her charges. This is something you should discuss with your clinician ahead of time.
I don't know for certain what BCBS's "allowed amount" is, but I know they're paying master's level therapists about $85 per therapy session, so I'm guessing that's it. So if a therapist's regular fee is $100, you'd be paying ($85*0.2)+($100-$85)=$32 per session. A lot of therapists are charging rather more that $100/session these days. At $120/session that's $52/session.

That copay/cost-sharing is absurd. Obviously, many students couldn't possibly afford $25/week copay – specially the most vulnerable ones. So that's a hell of an incentive to seek care from MIT Mental Health and Counseling Service directly: as they proudly state, no copay or other fees to see the therapists that work for MIT.

Less obviously, it's not even vaguely in line with the market right now. I see people who have jobs and pay $10 and $15 copays on other insurances. That students would be charged a $25 copay to see a therapist – in-network! – is incredible. Honestly, students being charged any copay is pretty out of line.

Seriously: MIT students, the people who stock the shelves in the Star Market behind Random have better access to mental health care than you do. That grocery store shelf stocker qualifies for a subsidized Medicaid Expansion plan, which covers at least a therapy session per week, with no copay. Also, their plan has hundreds, if not thousands, of therapists to choose from, none of whom report to your landlord cum diploma-granter-maybe cum civil authority cum boss of your local police.

Also, availing yourself of the option of seeing a non-MIT therapist on your MIT student insurance, even though it's through BCBS, requires a "referral" from MIT Med:
If you are already seeing an outside clinician or have a specific outside clinician in mind, you don’t have to make an appointment at MIT Medical to get a referral. Just call the Mental Health and Counseling Service at 617-253-2916, and ask to speak with someone about getting a referral for your outside treatment.
This may be completely pro forma, but the upshot is that MIT is making it a requirement on you that you notify MIT if you're getting psychotherapy, and that you divulge to them from from whom you are getting it. That someone is in therapy and from whom they get that therapy is highly confidential information, that frankly MIT has no business knowing. You should be able to see a therapist on your student insurance without MIT even knowing about it.

So if you wanted to work for the benefit of students' mental health, there's a great target: demand that MIT's insurance for students provides off-campus, unaffiliated psychotherapy with no copay, cost sharing, or balance billing – or radically less than at present, so MIT students can freely avail themselves of treaters not on MIT payroll; and abolish the need for a referral, because info about your utilization of mental health care is prejudicial, privileged information that can be used against you. But be careful to keep a third-party insurance co in the loop, instead of MIT directly paying therapists; whomever pays the therapist is allowed to snoop in your psychotherapy records.

Or, honestly, given some of the crappy-ass general health care friends of mine have gotten through the Med Center, maybe just agitate for all students to just get a regular BCBS PPO membership instead of having to go to the Med Center, at all. Or given how much BCBS sucks, try to get students into the Medicaid Expansion, so students get a choice of providers. That would be harder.

P.S. Disclosure of conflicts of interest: none – I don't take BCBS, so even if the copay/cost-share/balance-billing were eliminated, and students started flocking to off-campus therapists, I still wouldn't benefit by any of that business, unless somehow you managed to get students into Medicaid Expansion, and then only if students were willing to travel all the way to Medford to see me – I just have it in for MIT Med, and MIT MHCS especially.)

They had me at "Hello"

Sep. 11th, 2017 10:26 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Am I going to get CBS All-Access for the sake of one show somewhat related to the primary show of my youth?

Yes. Yes I am.

And the sheep goes "Baa".

To Infinity, And Beyond!

Sep. 11th, 2017 07:20 pm
[personal profile] herooftheage
Tomorrow, I'm heading off to Chicago, both to visit friends there, and to attend the Western Martial Arts Workshop. It occurs to me that making this my first Historical European Martial Arts event is probably something like making Pennsic one's first SCA event - the baptism by fire will make whether I am for these folks crystal clear.

I have a good feeling about this. No, really, I do.