Saturday, April 23, 2011

Living in the Future: When Algorithms Run Wild

A $23 million book about flies.

That's the trouble with computer programs. Give them a simple instruction like "don't tell the flight crew about the real purpose of the mission until they get to Iapetus" and the next think you know they're cutting their air hose with a rogue EVA pod.

More Illustrations

I've opened another Cafepress store, Commonplace Space, featuring some of my Science Fiction illustrations.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Courts of Chivalry and Military Careers

Here is an illuminating study of men deposed in the court of chivalry who were also recorded as serving in the campaigns of 1387-1388 in The Soldier in later Medieval England database.

Since they reported their age and how long they had been armed when deposed, it is possible to get a sense of both the ages of men who were still active soldiers, and when they started their service in arms. This can be compared to John Hardyng's advice that lords' sons should go to war at sixteen.

Although several of the deponents were armed at even younger ages, the median age of first service reported was twenty. It's important to remember that campaigns happened infrequently: a young man might have to wait several years after has sixteenth birthday for even a theoretical opportunity to go to war, and when it occurred he might be serving in a household that didn't go on that campaign.

Here is a record of the Scrope-Grosvenor depositions, with additional biographical information for the witnesses. An interesting picture of the careers of men-at-arms!

Some Events of 1414

Henry V had been king since March 21, 1413

An on-and-off civil war between the Burgundian and Armagnac factions had been taking place, interrupted by truces, since 1407

By November 14, 1413, the duke of Burgundy had been accused of raising troops in breach of royal proclamations and expelled from Paris.

Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, held a deed of arms at Calais beginning the twelfth day of Christmas.

Oldcastle's Lollard revolt was intended to begin with an attack on the king at Twelfth Night at Eltham palace. Forewarned by spies and informers, the king crushed the revolt, which seems to have had little support, on January 10th. Seventy or eighty were captured and 45 executed. On March 28 the king offered a general pardon to all rebels who submitted before midsummer.

On January 24th the truce with France was extended through February 2nd, 1415.

January 26th, the Armagnacs issued a summons for a French army to assemble against the Duke of Burgundy, who was marching on Paris with 2,000 men, having left Lille on the 23rd.

February 3rd Beauchamp was appointed captain of Calais. The Beauchamp Pageant reports:

In as much as he was captain of Calais he hied him thither hastily, and was there worthily received. And when he heard that the gathering in France was not appointed to come to Calais...

The gathering in France would seem to have been the forces the Armagnacs were raising against the duke of Burgundy. An undated Beauchamp retinue roll refers to 128 men raised for l'enforcement of Calais.

The Beauchamp Pageant reports that he did his deed of arms at Calais after he came there as captain, but that must be mistaken. He was made captain of Calais in February of 1414 and by twelfth day of Christmas in 1415 he was in Constance. The likeliest explanation is that he did the arms before he was made captain, and the Pageant, written many years later, was simply mistaken in its chronology.

In February, the duke of Burgundy retreated from his position outside Paris.

The English Parliament met at Leicester April 30th.

The King received envoys from both the Burgundians and Armagnacs at Leicester between April and June. Several embassies were also sent to Paris in April, May and July-August.

In May, the Armagnacs invaded the Burgundian territory of Artois, besieging Arras in June. The count d'Eu and Lord Montagu did arms in the mines.

In September John of Burgundy signed the peace treaty of Arras

October 20th, Beauchamp was appointed an envoy to the Council of Constance. The Council began November 14th.

In November Parliament met again, and at that point it was clear the Henry V was prepared to go to war with Parliaments support if his claims were not met.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Training Lords' Sons (1457)

John Hardyng, Chronicle, 1457

And as lordes sonnes bene sette, at four yere age,
To scole to lerne the doctryne of letture,
And after at sex to have thaym in language,
And sitte at mete semely in alle nurture;
At ten and twelve to revelle in thair cure,
To daunse and synge, and speke of gentelnesse;
At fourtene yere they shalle to felde I sure,
At hunte the dere, and catch an hardynesse.

For dere to hunte and slea, and se them blede,
Ane hardyment gyffith to his corage,
And also in his wytte he takyth hede
Ymagynynge to take thaym at avauntage.
At sextene yere to werray and to wage,
To juste and ryde, and castels to assayle,
To scarmyse als, and make sykyr courage,
And sette his wache for perile nocturnayle;

And every day his armure to assay
In fete of armes with some of his meyne,
His might to preve, and what that he do may
Iff that he were in suche a jupertee
Of werre by falle, that by necessite
He might algates with wapyns hym defende:
Thus should he lerne in his priorite
His wapyns alle in armes to dispende.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flutes in Space II

This performance doesn't have the wonderful view out the cupola. On the other hand, it does have Ian Anderson.

Best tribute to the courage of Yuri Gagarin to date. Cady Coleman and Ian Anderson, I thank you, on behalf of music loving primates everywhere.

We're in orbit, and we're playing the flute. And doing duets with Ian Anderson. Because we can, and it pleases us.

Today I am proud of our species.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spin the Mourners

The mourners from the tomb of John the Fearless features high resolution 360° views of the mourners which can be viewed in stereo 3-D, as well as a 360° view of the tomb itself.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Flutes in Space

Astronaut Cady Coleman plays her flute in space, in the cupola of the International Space Station with her hair spreading in microgravity and the Earth spinning beneath her and the delicate tinkertoy structure of ISS visible in the windows.

She doesn't play it in this segment, but she has hauled Ian Anderson's silver flute into orbit as well, along with a tin whistle belonging to Paddy Moloney.

I did not expect this, but it delights me. My taxpayer dollars that made this possible? No complaints. No complaints at all.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Crivelli's Good and Bad Girls

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalen was believed to have been a repentant prostitute. Crivelli's Magdalen is considerably more wanton in appearance than her fellow female saints.

Mary Magdalene
C. 1474 Montefiore dell'Asso. Detail I interpret this dress as having fancy hook and eye fastenings in front from below the belt to a bit above it. Above that point there are eyes on both sides, with laces running through the lower eyes but not through the top four pairs. Her dress is also laced at the side.
C. 1487 Rijksmuseum. This version has a lower neckline on her underdress. I interpret this dress as closing with fancy hooks and eyes at the wrist and just above the belt, and the top eight pairs of fittings are eyes on both sides, perhaps non-functional. I'm not sure what's happening with the two pairs below them: they might be laced. I believe Crivelli was creating the fittings by stamping them into soft gesso, and that he was using the same stamp for eyes and (used twice) for fastened hooks and eyes.
1491-94 The National Gallery. This could be similar fittings with a higher neckline on the underdress, although since the painting is much smaller and less detailed it's impossible to be sure. The gold dots might be rings rather than fancy eyes, and the underdress might lace all the way to the top.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria
C. 1473, Ascoli. Another Image. Here we can see laces between fancy eyes. They don't go all the way to the top, but the gap revealed is narrow and entirely covered by her underdress.
C. 1476 The National Gallery. I interpret this as a row of fancy hooks and eyes from below her belt to the height of her nipples, and then three pairs of eyes without lacing at the top, revealing a narrow triangle of chemise.
1491-94 The National Gallery. Lacing through eyelets from her belt to the bottom of a v-neck, over a fairly modest underdress. Note the trompe l'oeil fly to her left.

Saint Lucy
C. 1470, Krakow. Front opening laced through eyelets from the belt to the neckline.
C. 1476 The National Gallery. Similar to the 1476 St. Catherine, but with four pairs of eyes at the top and a slightly lower opening in the overdress.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Today's Highlights

ThinkGeek always seems to come out with some interesting new products this time of year, and 2011 is no exception. This year, they have the PLAYMOBIL Apple Store Playset, Angry Birds Pork Rinds, Lightsaber Popsicles, Arsenic Based Sea Monkeys and more.

The troubled production of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" reportedly has additional troubles.

Best of all, John Scalzi Unveils His Secret Fantasy Project.