Blog: August 2018

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

[SCA] Interesting times -- more of them than there used to be

When I joined the SCA, it was a group dedicated to studying the middle ages and renaissance. Unofficially, the scope was described as "western Europe from the fall of Rome through the 16th century" -- which yeah, I know, is temporally broad. Geographically it wasn't broad enough; people in the SCA wanted to create personas from outside western Europe. The governing documents said something like "pre-17th-century western Europe and cultures that had contact with it". People used that last clause to easily argue for middle-eastern and Mongol personas, and less-easily to argue for Japanese, Chinese, and others. There's one person who does an Aztec persona and that raised some eyebrows. And notice that there's no beginning date there, which a few people have used to justify ancient-world personas. Personally I'm a live-and-let-live sort; I think a few of these are rather far from the clear intent of this organization dedicated to the middle ages and renaissance, but we each play the game differently so, eh, different strokes. (There's maybe a problem when people resort to rules-lawyering this stuff, but that's a tangent for another time.) Apparently in some places it hasn't been so benign, though; some people have gotten very hostile toward people doing these far-from-Europe personas.

The SCA board just put out a new mission statement. It now reads:

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international non-profit volunteer educational organization. The SCA is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat, culture, and employing knowledge of history to enrich the lives of participants through events, demonstrations, and other educational presentations and activities.

(Yeah, the board should really run these things past somebody fluent in written English. But I digress.)

By this new policy, there are no geographic restrictions. And, as before, no early temporal restrictions. Non-European personas are no longer "those other areas we tolerate" but are granted first-class status. The SCA is now a general-purpose historical organization (still pre-17th-century).

I'm of mixed feelings. On the one hand, people were already doing it and there's a lot of support and the world didn't end. It doesn't hurt me if other people's interests are in different locales. On the other hand, from the time I first saw people in armor fighting with swords and shields on the university lawn and said "I've gotta get me some of that", the SCA was at its core about the age of knights and kings and queens, of Vikings and Agincourt and the black death, of Chaucer and sonnets and eddas, of motets and balli and shawms. In the years since I joined my personal interests have broadened and changed; my persona is in Cordova under caliphate rule, not exactly knights and high middle ages either. Medieval, though.

I think, when talking with outsiders, I'm still going to describe the SCA as being for studying the middle ages and renaissance, which automatically implies Europe. (Everybody had a 12th century, but I don't think it makes sense to talk about "medieval Inuit" or "medieval Chinese" or the like.) That's still how I think about it, even if the reality is different.

Aviary visit

We had a short team outing (with out-of-town guests) to the national aviary today.

Here are some pictures from the rainforest room. I don't know what kinds of birds these are (didn't match them up with the display cards). Read more…

Pennsic: new kitchen trailer

Here are a few photos (from Pennsic) of our new kitchen. We brought it back to Pittsburgh to continue to improve it.

Read more…