Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bleg: Gloves for Gauntlets

Does anyone have a source for living history quality gloves suitable for the inside of a 14th c. hourglass gauntlet? I'm thinking particularly of the shape of the thumb seam and absence of visible machine stitching.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

NASA Funding Alert

From the Space Access Society
And the Space Frontier Foundation

Here are the key points: If the House votes in favor of the Senate's authorization bill for NASA, the bill can go to the president's desk for signature. If the House votes for its own version, there will be further delays while the two bodies reconcile their differences.

Second, the House version, while less bad than it was, is a worse bill than the Senate version. There's less money for commercial crew and cargo and robotic exploration.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

U.S. Human Spaceflight, Obama, and the Political Process.

Recently, I read two arguments that Obama has “in fact, pulled us almost entirely out of the manned space effort.” And that for “what he has spent on do-gooder social garbage, we could walk again on the moon”.

I think both opinions are wrong.

To the first, remember that Obama inherited a Program of Record (PoR) that would, at the funding levels authorized before he entered office, have retired the space Shuttle in 2010, ISS in 2015, and then spent billions of dollars to develop the government owned and operated Ares I launcher that essentially duplicated the payload capacity of the existing Delta IV.

The Augustine Commission estimated that the PoR would allow NASA astronauts to return to low earth orbit (LEO) around 2018-2019 in a NASA capsule atop a NASA launcher. In the interim, U.S. crewed access to LEO would depend entirely on the Russian Soyuz launcher and spacecraft.

In contrast, Obama’s NASA proposed to have the government purchase astronaut seats to orbit in privately owned spacecraft atop commercial launchers, much as NASA launches unmanned spacecraft today. The Augustine Commission estimated that this might provide U.S. access to LEO one or two years before the PoR.

As to the second argument:

Government funding doesn’t work that way.

Yes, it’s technically true that if your least favorite government program costs $5 billion a year, canceling it would make those funds available for your most favorite program.

However, Congress probably doesn’t share your preferences.

Suppose that Congress has a sudden spasm of civic rectitude, and discovers that they can spend $5 billion less a year, on programs that you don’t approve of.

How much of those savings will flow to increased funding for NASA?

Not much, I suspect.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Are You a U.S. Citizen Who Cares About Human Space Flight?

If not, skip this post.

If yes to both, please consider calling your Representative in the House of Representatives to oppose HR.5781, the House NASA Authorization bill. Immediately.

Here is more on why and how.


An awesome, beautiful animation of asteroid discoveries, 1989-2010.
Notice how the pattern of discovery follows the Earth around its orbit. Most discoveries are made in the region directly opposite the Sun. You'll also notice some clusters of discoveries on the line between Earth and Jupiter, these are the result of surveys looking for Jovian moons.

A laser stabbing into the star-spattered sky.

A metrocontextual science map showing scientific disciplines over time in the format of a subway map.

The alarming snakebot.

A cyborg fly controls a mobile robot.

I for one welcome our sock-pairing robotic masters.

The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Victorian crimefighters! And their exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science, lovingly illustrated by the talented Sydney Padua.

And speaking of steampunk, here is a rather sinister artificial arm. One of the few times wearing a black leather glove makes you look less creepy.

And Lady Clankington's Cabinet of Carnal Curiosities, and her Little Death Ray.

Which would be even more steampunky if it was powered by a tiny steam engine.

This blog post brought to you by the steampunk bee.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What Size Should a List Field Be?

Assuming single combat with no more than a single pair fighting at a time, there are two main options.

If there must be room for mounted combat, we have:

Field of the Cloth of Gold: 150 paces long (375 feet assuming a pace of 2.5 feet)

The field for Lord Scales vs. the Bastard of Burgundy, 1467: 120 yards, 10 feet by 80 yards, 20 feet. (370 feet by 260 feet)

The Passo Honoroso, 1434: 146 paces long (365 feet)

Lists at the Castle of Rosenburg: 153 paces by 60 paces (382 feet by 150)

Lists for jousting at the priory of Saint-Martin in Paris: 96 paces by 24 (240 feet by 60)

The last is clearly an outlier, and was apparently used for many years for judicial duels, being converted to jousting lists as judicial duels became rare. Judicial duels were often fought on foot.

If only foot combat was expected, the field could be smaller. A field 21 yards square was prepared for a judicial duel in Tothill Field in 1571.

The Ordinance and Form of Fighting Within Lists written by Thomas, Duke of Gloucester before 1397 specifies a field of 60 by 40 paces. While not explicitly for foot combat, the only weapons mentioned are long sword, sword and dagger: the lance is conspicuous by its absence.

The regulations of Phillipe le Bel for the judicial duel, 1306, specify a field 80 feet by 40 feet.

The combat by consent between Galiot de Baltasin and Phillipe de Ternant in 1446 gives another clue to the size of their lists. When the met with lances, after each encounter, each was allowed to step back seven paces before coming again to meet their opponent. This suggests that those lists were no smaller than about 20 by 30 feet at a minimum.

The 15th century Linatges de Catalunya directs:
The lists for foot combat should be 40 paces square; those for combat on horseback, 80; those for a tourney of four against four should measure 120 paces; those eight against eight or ten against ten, 150.

While these lists may seem excessively large for single combat on foot to those interested in the modern recreation of those combats, it’s important to remember that it was typical for each champion to have their own arming pavilion within the lists.

Fallows, Noel. 2010. Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. p. 193

Friday, September 03, 2010

Recreating Combat at the Barriers

Combats at the barriers appeared as part of formal deeds of arms in the late 15th century. Here is an early example hosted by the Chevalier de Bayard at Ayre in Picardy in 1494.

Here is the announcement of a recreation of a combat at the barriers in 2008.

The rules we used.

Here are some of the sources we used for the recreation.

Weapons used at the barriers and examples of barriers combats.

The Tiptoft Rules include rules for barriers combat, probably added in the 16th c.

Here is one way to use scoring cheques for this sort of combat.