Chains of Command

Chains of Command,


Ain’t nobody in Starfleet got time for that!

So here’s today’s random question: What the hell does Starfleet’s Org Chart look like?

I told you it was random.

Another question: Why doesn’t Starfleet have anything like a Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS,

One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek is on as I’m writing this.  Ironically, given my current ruminations, it is called “Chain of Command”.  In it, Captain Picard is removed from command by Vice Admiral Nechayev so he can go on an undercover mission.  It’s the issue where Picard is tortured, and he and David Warner chew scenery at one another.  “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!”  Great acting, and I understand that overall the point of the episode is to make Riker existentially uncomfortable and Picard physically uncomfortable and show the results.

But it bothers me.  A lot.  I’m not a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine but I have known a number of them and I have some understanding of how the military works, though it be limited and anecdotal and Wikipedia based.  And this episode highlights some of the fascinating issues with Starfleet’s pseudo-military nature.

Chain of Command

As I said, in the episode Vice Admiral Nechayev orders the Enterprise to change Captains, and sends Picard on a special operations mission.  This means that, presumably, she is in the chain of command for the Enterprise—likely either because she is in the chain of command for whatever group or fleet the Enterprise is part of or because she is in the chain of command for all starships (or of a certain job/type/sector).  In Memory Alpha, a Star Trek Wiki, it lists her as being Picard’s direct commanding officer—which has its own issues, given that Vice Admiral is not the rank after naval Captain.  In Starfleet we have seen both Commodores (traditionally leading groups of captains) and Rear Admirals (similar to commodores in many navies, although higher in Starfleet).

But even assuming that Nechayev is in Picard’s chain of command somewhere that means she holds a definite position in that CoC.  She presumably reports to a single full on Admiral, who presumably reports to the Starfleet equivalent of a service chief or the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  And indeed we have seen someone with the position of Chief of Staff of Starfleet Operations, the Chief of Staff of Starfleet, and something labelled Commander, Starfleet in previous episodes and movies.  So there is a top level man.

But Nechayev isn’t the only Admiral—or even the only Vice Admiral—that ever orders the Enterprise around.  At a casual perusal we find Vice Admiral Brackett recalling the Enterprise (, Vice Admiral Nakamura both conducting inspections and helping decide Data’s future (, Vice Admiral Thomas Henry ( presiding over a kangaroo court on the Enterprise with retired Vice Admiral Satie (, Vice Admiral Margaret Blackwell ordering the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Crazy Horse (, Vice Admiral Gromek ordering the Enterprise to intercept a probe (, Vice Admiral Haftel wanting to put his creeper hands on Data’s creepy kid (, and more!  And that’s just TNG, which only lasted seven years; it doesn’t include the Vice Admirals who got to order Sisko around (such as Leyton, Ross, Toddman, and even Nechayev again! Although she got a promotion) or any of the other series.  Or any of the movies!

Now I get that on something like a Starship you are going to go to a lot of different people’s spheres of influence and be subject to their rules.  But even in that non-exhaustive list that’s a lot of people, and a lot of freaking Vice Admirals, that get to just dial up the Enterprise and tell them what to do.  And I understand that people retire, as Admiral Setie did, and change positions but that doesn’t account for the sheer number of people the Enterprise has to answer yes to.  Because remember that if you are outside of their chain of command, Admirals don’t get to issue orders willy-nilly to ships; the Judge Advocate General of the Navy (Vice Admiral Nanette DeRenzi, does not get to order the U.S.S. George Washington not to go to Japan because she needs it to go on a secret mission to Iran!  You have to have command over something to send it somewhere, and even two Vice Admirals having operational control over the Enterprise would be baffling (if possible, since I’m given to understand the military is frequently baffling).

For comparison, the U.S.S. George Washington is a part of Carrier Strike Group 5, headed by Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery ( CSG 5 is part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, headed by Vice Admiral (that damn rank!) Robert L. Thomas (   The 7th Fleet is part of the United States Pacific Fleet, headed by Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr. (  See how simple that is?  A Captain reports to a Rear Admiral, who reports to a Vice Admiral, who reports to an Admiral; Admiral Harris then reports to Admiral Locklear of the unified United States Pacific Command, who reports in turn to the Secretary of Defense who then reports to the President.  A straight line of one person at each level.

Now yes it can get trickier, and yes naval vessels technically have an administrative and an operational chain of command.  But it is still a hell of a lot straighter a line then in Starfleet.

So we can assume one of a couple things.  Either Starfleet Admirals die or quit a lot, Starfleet is organized by a five year old who is INEXPLICABLY ALSO A VICE ADMIRAL, or…the writers don’t know how the military works.  And while that seems more likely, it still bothers me.


But this brings us to the other issue with this episode.  Captain Picard, Doctor Crusher, and Lt. Worf are ordered to go on a commando raid.  And it’s important to note: None of them are commandos.

Now Worf is a Klingon, and I’m willing to admit that being a Klingon is equated in the Star Trek universe as being pretty hardcore mother-shut your mouths.  But Jean-Luc Picard’s qualifications for being a commando are apparently a scientific knowledge of an episode specific MacGuffin, a love of archaeology, being French (by way of the North of England), future appearances as the head of the CIA in Family Guy, and knowing how to order tea.  And that still makes him more qualified than Doctor Beverly Crusher, whose qualifications involve medicine (but not necessarily combat medicine) and single motherhood. Is it any surprise when they get caught?

And this isn’t the only time this happens.  People in Starfleet are constantly being reassigned to secret missions or infiltrations, or diplomatic missions, or secret infiltration diplomatic missions (I’m looking at you, Spock).

In the real military you have a job.  Even as an officer you have a job that you are trained to do.  And you can change that job over the course of your time in the military, or pick up additional certifications (Ranger qualified, etc.), but on any given day you wake up and you have a set of things that you do.  This can change quickly on the whims of command, sure (as in the case of a friend who was rather surprised to go from an office job to Iraq), but that is more of an exception then the rule.  And it is more common in some services than others from what I understand (every Marine is a rifleman), and it is more common in some ranks than others.

You know what ranks it is really uncommon at?  The highest ones.  A naval captain, like Picard, is equivalent to an Army Colonel.  By that time you tend to have an area of specialty like, say, starship command.  That is a very different set of skills than a commando team leader, or the head of an archaeological dig.

Yes, Picard is very multi-talented.  He is an amateur archaeologist and anthropologist.  Even if he originally trained as a science officer, as we see in the Q created alternate future, it has been years since he was primarily responsible for science instead of administration and leadership.  Why is he still considered qualified to go do these things?  We don’t make someone the CFO just because they had a couple of accounting classes in undergrad, and the Navy specifically has rules (Line officers vs. restricted duty officers) on certain specialty officers and what they can command.  Because doctors are, generally, there to be doctors.  What a concept.


I get that Star Trek up through the reboot existed in a pre-Wikipedia world.  And I’m not going to lie, since my knowledge comes from other people talking to me and Wikipedia, I know I got some things wrong in this little rant.  But all it takes is going to one person and saying “Hey, does this smell right?” to get it better than this.  Seriously, 7 Vice Admirals in about ten minutes of looking?  Killing me.


*Khan = Writers.

Boys Will Be Bullshit

(Trigger warning.  The original article discusses rape and sexual harassment, and so does my article.  I’ll spoil the article by saying I’m anti, but I don’t want to cause any surprises for anyone who may have triggers).

Go read this article.  No, really:

There’s a lot there, and a lot of it is completely messed up. Let me jump right ahead and say this: If you think that was an appropriate presentation for the Principal to give, then I think you’re flat wrong. There are a couple of reasons why that I’m going to go into, but that’s the most basic answer I have for you: It puts the emphasis on all the wrong things, makes horrible things the victim’s fault, and is insulting not just to women but to men as well.

Modest is Hottest?

This is something that’s been going around a lot, on Facebook and apparently also real life.  Which is sad, because I frequently hope that real life isn’t as stupid as the internet. On Facebook you see it as a picture of a woman in a niqab, with a caption saying something like “Even though you can only see her eyes, she is hotter than most of the half-dressed women out there.”  And fathers of daughters like this and share it, and it passes around the internet.  And apparently gets used by high school principals.  (And incidentally she still has a lot of makeup on those eyes, so her natural beauty wasn’t enough either.  Huzzah for layered nonsense).

I want you to think about that image for a moment, a bunch of people looking at a woman in a niqab and saying to themselves “I wish my daughter would dress more like that.”  That’s…a thing.

Ignoring the fact that most of the people sharing this and/or looking at their daughters speculatively would not be thrilled if they announced they were converting to ultra-conservative Islam (and ignoring the fact that the majority of Muslim women don’t wear a niqab or burka), this is the exact opposite of what we should be telling women.

Our modern culture has a serious issue with how we portray women.  We present women in media most frequently in ways that shows their highest value as being their body, hyper-sexualize them and shame them if they don’t fit in with how super models look and dress.  And that is a major problem, and the fact that it leads to increasingly sexualized teens at younger and younger ages is a pretty messed up symptom of it—as is Toddlers and Tiaras.

But the opposite of that is not telling them they’re more attractive when they dress modestly, or “Modest is Hottest”.  That’s like saying the solution to people being killed with hatchets is to emphasize the virtue of baseball bats.  People are still gonna get killed, it’s just going to be a different box on the coroner’s report.  Telling women they’re more beautiful when they dress modestly and shaming women that dress immodestly (but in line with media displays…) still sends the same message: That their worth is tied to their beauty.  It’s not a different message then they see every day, it just has the dial turned to the other side.

What we need to be saying to our young women is that what’s hot is not how you dress, and what matters isn’t how you dress.  What matters is who you are and your comfort with that.  What is of value is who you are as a person and what you choose to do with your life.  Not what you choose to wear, who you choose to love, or whether you wear a birqa or a bikini.  Or a burqini.

Also, no high school principal should ever use the words “Hottest” or “hot”, except if they are saying “It sure is hot today.  I think it might be the hottest day all year!”

School Dress Codes

This is a bit of a diversion, but there is a great deal that I don’t like about school dress codes.  I understand that if you give them the opportunity many high school students would come in their underwear, but it’s the focus of most dress codes that bothers me.  I seem to recall when I was in school that the dress code was to reduce distraction, and then most of the restrictions were aimed at female students.  Yes I couldn’t sag or wear gang colors and was asked to stop wearing my duster (which I wish I’d had the GPA to feel I could risk a fight).  But the majority of the restrictions only marginally impacted male students, like the no stomach and the skirt length rules.  And when combined with the justification of “no distractions”, it became relatively clear: Female students had to dress a certain way so the male students didn’t get distracted.  Now the opposite was also true, the men can’t dress in a way that won’t distract women, but there were far fewer restrictions on me then on them.  And that means, implicitly, that there are more ways for boys to get distracted then women.

It bothers me.  I’m not a big fan of dress codes to begin with, because I feel like in a lot of ways they can be misguided.  But I know that we have to have something.  But why not, as my roommate suggested, change the focus away from any issue of gender and make it about a valuable skill?  The dress code should not be based on any specific gender’s garment, but what would be acceptable in the loosest office environment.  Make it based on what will be the absolute minimum students will need to be comfortable wearing in most jobs they will get after school, whether they go to college or not.

Boys Will Be Boys

Let me start by saying straight out: I ****ing hate this sentiment, as applied to anything sexual or harass-y.

Are there things that can just be written off as boys grow up?  Sure, same as there are that girls grow up.  A boy getting in a shoving match on the playground doesn’t make him a violent person and shouldn’t result in a huge punishment (I hate zero tolerance), but the boy still needs to be talked to about what it means to be a man and why violence isn’t what it means to be a man (see a future post about how we shape our boys, too).  But the same is also true for girls.  There is a lot that can be said for “Children will be children,” when it comes to minor violations of the rules as they learn what boundaries are.

But that is never an excuse for anything sexually harassing, and never should be.  It should never be acceptable for a boy to harass a girl and have it written off as “boys will be boys”.  It should never be acceptable for a man to be rude to women and have it be written off.

This ties in for me to one of the issues I have with how we treat rape victims, which is blaming the victim.  Things like “You shouldn’t have been dressed like that” or “Why were you walking through a bad area if you didn’t want it to happen” are completely messed up for two reasons.  Firstly for the main reason and the one that people keep trying to get society to understand.  No one should be made responsible for an action taken by another against them, or made to feel like a crime that was committed against them is their fault. Victim shaming puts the priorities in exactly the wrong order, blames the wrong people, and makes it less likely that people will report rapes.

But there’s another thing wrong with it, and wrong with the whole spiel that the principal in the article gave.  It’s something that bothers me immensely.  Blaming women for getting raped takes the blame off of the rapist.  Saying it was their clothing, or where they were walking, means that there was a man there who only needed a dark alley or a piece of revealing clothing to become a rapist.  If women cannot wear revealing clothing because they are in danger of being raped, then men are constantly in danger of becoming rapists.

**** that.  Really hard.  There is no circumstance or combination of dark alleys or provocative clothing that would make me a rapist, nor the men I know.  This bull**** says that all men are uncontrolled bundles of hormones looking for a fleshy expression of our animal desires, restrained only by a scrap of fabric covering a woman’s stomach or thighs.  It says that my brothers and I, actual and spiritual brothers, are beasts and that we can’t be blamed for what we do because there is nothing we can do to stop it.

I am more than a barely controlled rapist waiting for an excuse, as are most men.  Someone who commits rape makes that choice, or may be out of control due to mental illness or imbalance—but that doesn’t mean that everyone of their gender is. That goes both ways, incidentally, since there are thousands of cases of rape where the perpetrator is a woman and the victim a male in addition to same-sex rape.  No subset of human is an uncontrollable monster, save for that subset of humans which are uncontrollable monsters (mostly Slytherins).

So let’s make it very clear: Modest is not hottest but another way of tying of worth to beauty, principals should not be coming up with ways to make students hotter in any case, and victim shaming further victimizes victims while turning their attackers into blameless uncontrollable beasts (and their whole gender with them).  And it’s all bullshit

99 Problems and Tax-Exemption

I Got 99 Problems, but: the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Not-for-Profit Tax Status Ain’t One

(Note: This post is not aimed at anyone in particular.  It comes up a lot).

(Note: While this post mainly applies to the SCA, the same thing likely applies to many 501(c)3 organizations).

(NOTE: This is not legal advice.  Do not use this as legal advice.  It is a broad overview from websites available through Google, for God’s sake.  If your shire is in deep poop, contact your Kingdom and the SCA.  Do not do something and say “Well, Uji said I could,” because you are on your own there.)

One of the things that drives me the most crazy in the SCA is people claiming that we can’t do something (or have to do something) because we’ll lose our tax status.  It is the great bugaboo, the all-powerful gris gris, of the SCA.  It’s even mentioned in Silverwing’s Laws (  Dark cults circle fell fires in the night chanting arcane rituals whose meaning is lost to man and known only to the Night Vale City Council, sacrificing goats because if they don’t…WE’LL LOSE OUR TAX EXEMPT STATUS, PEOPLE!  DON’T YOU CARE?  WHY DON’T YOU CARE?  GRAB A GOAT YOU HEARTLESS BASTARD!

Except…it isn’t true.  Of course there are ways for us to lose our tax exempt status, but the majority of the time when this is brought up it isn’t right.  Either the person doesn’t understand what our tax exempt status means, or they think it has onerous requirements that we have to keep up with.

In general, there are six ways for a 501(c)3 to lose its tax exempt status:

  • Private benefit/inurement
  • Lobbying
  • Political campaign activity
  • Unrelated business income (UBI)
  • Failing the annual reporting obligation
  • Operation out of accord with stated exempt purpose(s)

(Adapted from ).

Note that under the private benefit section on that site it specifically says: “Its activities should not serve the private interests, or private benefit, of any individual or organization (other than the 501(c)(3) organization) more than insubstantially.” (Id.)

And the IRS lays out: “To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”  (

So the SCA has to be operated for the exempt purpose (education of the Middle Ages), cannot use any of its earnings to benefit any individual, cannot lobby or be political, and our events have to serve our exempt purpose but can benefit our own society.

What this means is there is no particular activity, office, organizational arrangement, belief, totem, monkey or circus that we have to continue to do without fail.  We could completely reorganize the SCA as a whole into a full on corporation, or an anarchist commune, so long as we continued to not inure any earnings or lobby the government.  We could get rid of fighting, we could get rid of A&S, or we could decide everyone in the SCA has to be a persona from Rome, or Japan, or the back of a van down by the river.  We could hold events to educate ourselves and others about the Middle Ages in the same way we do now, or a radically different way.  We don’t need knights, we don’t need heralds, we don’t need Kings or Queens…unless we want them.  And I do.

Interestingly I can also find no direct policy in the IRS rules about purchasing alcohol, and several government sites from different states talk about how 501(c)3 organizations can serve liquor or obtain liquor licenses ( and  NOTE: SCA POLICY PROHIBITS THE PURCHASE OF ALCOHOL WITH SOCIETY OR BRANCH FUNDS, EVEN IF THE IRS DOESN’T.  DO NOT DO IT.  THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

So that’s it.  There is a pretty strong list of things we can’t do, and very few of the things we say we have to do are actually required.  If you want to change something then advocate for change, and if you want to keep something then advocate for not change.  But for the love of BoD, stop saying it’s because of our tax status, or I might blow a gasket.


Really, cows?  9th place?  If second place is the first of the losers, ninth place is 8th in line to be the first of the losers.  I think.  And that was way too much counting for a Friday night.  So I say DISHONOR ON YOU!  DISHONOR ON…well, you are cows, so that’s already done.

Seriously though, up the joy.  Life is too short.  Don’t read The Jungle, too many spoilers.  Live!


2012: Planners and Plumbers

2012: A Film Considered

Or, Who Builds Society?

Or, Spoilers: The world ends.


2012 was never going to be a good movie, because disaster movies have a very thin line to tread between compelling and stupid-tastic and Roland Emmerich has never been that subtle.  But I will admit that watching it on January 5th, 2014 gives it a retroactive amusement.

I’m not going to talk here about all the problems with the movie, although there are myriad.  I never believed in the 2012 phenomenon so I always knew that angle was bunk, and don’t get me wrong: There are lots of other problems here.  Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Oliver Platt are all better than this movie deserves; the special effects have not aged well; and the movie seems to believe that planes run on “wanting them to fly really hard.”

But all of that has been said before, and while true I don’t feel like just piling on.  But what really struck me about the movie is this: How is society going to survive?

In the face of complete global catastrophe a plan is put forward in the film: Giant boats.  And on these giant boats they plan to put 400,000 people they have selected to rebuild human civilization, plus a number of rich business types they auction seats to at one billion euros a pop.  These 400,000 people are scientists, leaders, and other influential architects of society presumably.  The movie doesn’t go into it too much, but that seems to be who is getting contacted and that fits with the tropes of this kind of movie—even if 2012 doesn’t specify, we can look at Deep Impact and see how it is normally handled.  (Edit: In the movie they specifically say the free tickets were chosen by geneticists for the best gene pool, and they all seem to be the academic type–and our heroes are specifically called out as fools for asking if the workers got to be saved.  “The world isn’t fair? *gasp* If you want to give up your ticket for a couple of Chinese workers, be my guest!”  Right…why would you want to save the people with the technical knowledge to build giant boats for half a million people in four years?)

And on the surface that seems to be a good plan!  Bring the people who can rebuild civilization, who know how to guide a people to self sufficiency and remake what we lost.  And most movies throw in a sop to the creative types as well, as in 2012 where art from the Hermitage and British Museum and Louvre is preserved.  And that seems to track as well, bringing the culture of a destroyed world to inspire the minds of a new one.

But…you know what’s missing?  The world of 2012, or the world of Deep Impact, are going to have lots of people who know how to rebuild a society.  But how many of those people know how to build a society the first time?  Do we think any of them know how to wire a house, or connect plumbing to a toilet?

All the grand economic plans in the world aren’t going to mean crap when you’re swimming in, well, crap.  Macroeconomics are great, but if there is nobody who can build your shelters then all the plans in the world are just kindling for the fire.  I’d rather be on a boat with 200,000 dreamers and planners and 200,000 electricians, plumbers, and construction workers than a boat stocked with one or the other.  And if I had to choose, I’d rather be on the boat with 400k blue collar people.  Governments and societies will form themselves with time, but the toilets are not going to plumb themselves.

King and Queen of Cups

(Note: This is written in honor of King Damien and Queen Issabell.  The Queen’s Chalice is the children’s award in Calontir)


The King and Queen of Cups


The King and queens of cousin realms had gathered round to play

And each of them chose a suit to be theirs for the day.


The Midrealm King pulled forth a card, on which a sword was laid,

And loudly started telling of the wondrous choice he’d made.

“The swords the thing,” said Dragon King, “to win the games we play.

For as it rules upon the field shall I rule here this day.”


Young Northshield’s crown produced a card, emblazoned with a staff,

And quickly spoke to reassure he had not made a gaffe.

“The staff is right,” said Griffon crown, “You’ll see it in the end.

A sword may strike but oaken staff a people will defend.”


Next came lupine Ealdormere, a scarlet pentacle adorned,

And spoke to save a suit that other crowns had hereto scorned.

The Queen announced “It’s wisdom that the pentacle bestows,”

Her King agreed that this was far mightier than blows.


Last spoke great Damien, and fair Issabell as one,

To show their chosen suit and show what they had done.

“You all chose well,” the tall King spoke, “but we’ve made the better choice.”

“The chalice of dear Calontir.” came Issabell’s sweet voice.


“But how can mugs strike down a foe?” Came Dragon Queen’s deride.

“How can a cup defend a land,” said Northshield by her side.

“What wisdom can a chalice bring?” the lupine Queen put out,

As each royal couple’s face revealed their open doubts.


“The battles of the future won,” Issabell relayed,

“And a cup defends our future, though the benefits delayed.”

The King spoke then “In Calontir for the chalice we are wild.

For in Calontir the chalice represents the greatness of the child.”


“For the child will be the sword in hand for future victory.

And the salvation of our land will fall to warriors yet to be.”

Issabell took her lord’s hand and in bell-like voice she spoke,

“For we all know that each acorn is someday a mighty oak.”


The Crowns of all the friendly realms put forth no more voice,

For each among them knew their kin had made the greatest choice.

And as one the dragon, griffon, and the wolf lifted praises up,

For Damien and Issabell, the King and Queen of Cups.

SCA Court Primer

Courtly Graces (Calontir Edition, Online Expanded Version!)

Or, Funny Hats For the Win

Saito Takauji (Uji) January A.S. 48

Note: While there are a lot of generally applicable things in this article, it is primarily designed for use in the Kingdom of Calontir–because purple is awesome, and also I’m teaching it as a class.  I will be making an SCA-wide one that is less specific.

Introduction: What is court?

Court is a chance for the Crown to address the populace, make official announcements, have some fun with “schtick”, and give out awards.  Court is NOT where someone finds out they are in real trouble, where you will get yelled at, or something to be intimidated by.

Who runs court?

Right now?  These guys:                                                      In a couple of weeks, these guys:

DamienIssi                                       MartinoAriel

King Damien MacGavin                                                        Crown Prince Martino Venneri

Queen Issabell St. Charles                                                   Crown Princess Ariel of Glastonbury Tor

Note: Pictures good for January 2014 through the end of Martino and Arriel’s reign.  Pictures may be kept updated, maybe not; when in doubt check

They are the King and Queen, and Prince and Princess, of Calontir.  There can also be courts run by Barons and Baronesses, of which Lonely Tower has a set.  But there are a number of them in the Kingdom, and ink is expensive, so we’ll be pointing them out rather than listing them all here.  A King and Queen are addressed as “Your Majesty,” a Prince and Princess are addressed as “Your Highness”, a Baron and Baroness as “Your Excellency”, and an Uji is addressed as “Hey, Uji.”

So everyone with a shiny hat is a King, Prince, or Baron?

Well no.  That would be too easy.  We also have Dukes/Duchesses, and Counts and Countesses who each get their own hats.  A Duke or Duchess is addressed as “Your Grace,” and a Count or Countess as “Your Excellency.”


Ducal Coronet (Strawberry Leaves)


County Coronet (Embattlements)                 


Baronial Coronet (Pearls)

Their coronets will look roughly as above.  Only Counts and Countesses have embattled coronets, only Dukes and Duchesses have Strawberry leaves.  Someone with pearls, embattlements, and strawberry leaves was a Baron who kept getting promoted but didn’t want to buy a new hat.   Also note that “pearls” can be any round or spheroid protrusion.

Also, want an easy way to identify a Landed Baron (one who runs a group) versus one who has an award letting them be a Baron without the pesky land (Court Baron)?  Landed Barons have gold colored coronets, while Court Barons have silver ones–this is by Calontir law.  The Vatavian Secret Police (which do not exist) enforce it.

If in doubt, call someone with a shiny hat “Your Excellency.”  It covers most of the common titles, and anyone who is a Grace, Highness, or Majesty is also entitled to be or will soon be entitled to be an Excellency.

Ok, so what do I do if I get called up there, besides feel like fainting and/or running?

First, don’t faint or run.  Court is fun, it’s a good time, and you’re probably up there for something good.  First, approach until you’re about ten feet away and then bow or curtsy.  Royalty has a “bubble” around them by courtesy of about ten feet, so if you’re going to be in it you bow/curtsy.  If there is an obvious point at which to do this, like the end of the first row of chairs, that works too.  Then come up to them, bow, and kneel.  Note: KNEEL ON THE CUSHION.  Your knees will thank you, and that is what they are there for.  Then listen to what they say.  Then you do it in reverse, stand and bow/curtsy, back away to ten feet and bow/curtsy, and then go back to your seat.  It’s that easy.  If they’re up on a stage, don’t back down the stairs; the Crown will not be offended if you choose to not fall down.

Ok, but what if there are lots of shiny hat wearing people up there?

This can be a little bit trickier, but not really.  Come up to ten feet, and either make lots of little bows/curtsies or one big all-encompassing bow/curtsy.  Do it with style!  Take your hat off!  Find a hat, put it on, then take it off!

Ok, so my hat is now off, I’ve successfully gone through being called up, and you’re my hero.  How did those people get there?  Can I get there, and have people find hats to take off at me?

Aw shucks, I’m no hero.  They got there through one of two ways.  The King and Queen and Prince and Princess got there through an armored combat tournament called “Crown Tournament”, or just “Crown.”  When you win Crown you serve as P+P for three months, then K+Q as six.  Then you get made a Count/ess if it was your first time as King/Queen, and a Duke/Duchess if it was your second.  The Baron and Baroness are chosen by the Crown with input from the group they will lead every 2-5 years roughly.

I’ve seen some people disarming themselves before they go up to court; do I need to do that?  I mean…I’m not gonna lie, I like knives.  Like…a lot.

First…calm down, and don’t hug me because I don’t want to get cut.  Secondly, it depends.  In some Kingdoms you would have to disarm, in others not, and in others disarm unless you have an Award of Arms.  No, that’s not what an AoA really means, but…it takes all kinds.  Bless their hearts.  You know what I mean.

In Calontir we take a pragmatic view of it.  You do not have to disarm if you are in fealty to the Crown, because you have sworn on your honor that you are their man/woman/Canadian.  I actually really like this, because it gives a tangible ritual to fealty.  Since I am in fealty, the Crown trusts me to bear arms since I have sworn to defend them.

FInally…seriously, they have support groups.  The first start is admitting that if you have so many knives you are terrified of sneezing yourself into meat confetti, then you might have too many.

Why do people keep getting scrolls?

Because scrolls are amazing, that’s why.  Each of those scrolls represents an award of the Kingdom of Calontir.  Awards are recognitions by the Crown or Baronage that someone has done a series of awesome things, often in a specific area.  A rundown of awards can be found online, and spoken in this class.  So pay attention!  Did you miss it?  Scrolls in Calontir for AoA level awards are printed out and hand painted in, while scrolls for Grants of Arms and above are individually drawn, written, and calligraphied.

Ok, so I can tell a Count from a Duke…but why do they keep calling that person Master Sir?  Why does Her Royal Highness Ariel wear a belt and two medallions?

They call that person Master Sir because they are terrible people who do a terrible crime called title stacking, which should be outlawed in the civilized world.  Peers, as opposed to Royal Peers, come in three flavors: Knight, Laurel, and Pelican.  A knight wears a white belt and spurs and an unadorned chain, a laurel a medallion of a wreath, and a pelican a medallion of a pelican.  Knights are called Sir, and Pelicans and Laurels Master or Mistress.  If someone has more than one, then you pick one of the titles and go with it.  You can pick whichever one seems most appropriate to the moment (i.e. on the field Sir, in the Kitchen Master), or go by whichever one you know they prefer (if they were a Mistress first then they might be more used to that).  And of course the Crown Princess is Her Highness, then she will be Her Majesty; and when she is done with her time as Queen will be Her Grace, Duchess Ariel, since Count/ess and Duke/Duchess have higher precedence.

Never title stack, it’s tacky.

The only exception is Master Master Sir Hilary of Serendip, and only because she can revoke your birth certificate.

I’ve heard the following myth, is it true?

Probably not.  In my time in the SCA I’ve heard some doozies, as have most other people.  So a rundown of the most common or crazy is:

Can you wear purple? Yes you can wear purple.  Especially because we’re in Calontir; it is our thing.

Can you wear shoes before you have an AoA?  Yes you can wear shoes before you get an AoA (although it isn’t a requirement afterword, depending on the site).

Yes you can be earlier than 600 (but not later than 1600), yes you can wear blue belts (we don’t protect other groups’ regalia), yes you can use part of your real name, yes you can talk to Peers or the Crown.  No you do not have to be a peasant until you have an AoA, no your garb doesn’t have to be perfect to come to an event, no you don’t have to choose a name or persona for your first (or tenth, or hundredth) event or even stick with the name you pick when you do pick one.

The Nitty-Gritty Distinctions, Or: Uji, you didn’t teach me that in the class, you magnificent bastard lovable rogue!

Ok, so everything above this was pretty much my overview for the sake of my class, at Twelfth Night (and maybe elsewhere by now)–either it was in the handout, or we talked about it.  I didn’t want to overload newcomers with too much information, especially for things that we don’t encounter in Calontir that much.  Everything /after/ here is additional information that will help you know more about the SCA, but isn’t something you will have to encounter much in Calontir.

When an Embattled Coronet isn’t a Count

There is another rank of Royal Peer, because of course there is–this couldn’t be easy!  A Principality is ruled by a Prince and Princess, as opposed to a Crown Prince and Crown Princess who will be King and Queen.  When a ruling Prince and Princess step down the first time, they are made a Viscount and Viscountess.  The Coronet for one of these is less standard than others.  In Calontir it is a silver embattled coronet for Viscounts as opposed to a gold embattled coronet for Counts.  In some it is the height of the coronet, or how much decoration it has.

Why is he wearing his belt around his chest?

There are two parts to the Order of Chivalry, both alike in dignity in fair Verona where we…wait, crap.  Wrong thing.  But there are two halves of the Order of Chivalry, Knights and Masters of Arms.  The difference comes down to the early days of the Society, where some for persona or personal or religious reasons did not want to swear fealty as it was decided a Knight had to–but were still superior fighters and gentlemen.  And so they created the Masters of Arms, who were equal members of the Chivalry but did not have to swear fealty.  They wear a white baldric (diagonal sash/belt over the chest) instead of a white belt around the waist.

(Note: Images of Damien and Issabell, and Martino and Ariel, from, images of coronets from .  All images used for educational purposes without permission, and I will be happy to change them if needed).