Wednesday Morning Open Thread: A New (Bladeplay) Hope

“Database connection error” strikes again… sorry this is late!

Per the Washington Post, “Lightsaber dueling officially becomes recognized by French fencing federation”:

… “With young people today, it’s a real public health issue,” Serge Aubailly, the federation’s secretary general, told the Associated Press. “It’s becoming difficult to [persuade them to] do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”

Instead of containing plasma, the lightsabers being used for duels here on Earth are made from rigid polycarbonate — not to be confused with carbonite, eh, Han Solo? — with LED lighting and, in some cases, proper sound effects built in.

To ensure action that resembles what fans have thrilled to in the movies, as well as to distinguish the dueling from its more traditional cousins, rules require participants to point the tips of their lightsabers behind them before attempting to land blows. While doing so, they are temporarily immune from attack, leading to clashes marked by sweeping movements.

The duels use a scoring system in which strikes to the head are worth five points; to the arms or legs, three points; or to the hands, one point. Winners are determined by the first to notch 15 points, or whoever is ahead after a three-minute round. Alternatively, if both competitors reach 10 points, the duel goes to sudden death, with the first to land a blow to the head or body becoming the winner.

Fighters wear masks and body armor, with the lighting appropriately low, all the better to make the glowing lightsabers pop.

“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” a French tournament organizer told the AP…

I’m sure there are a lot of Star Wars fanbois currently torn between booking the next flight to France and screaming MAH CHILDHOOD IT HAZ BEEN STOLEN!!! (because, and I say this as a first-gen Trekkie, this is how we roll). Kinda looking forward to fencer Charlie Pierce’s take…



Late Night Sportsball Open Thread: Kaepernick Is Still Pissing Off All the Reicht Right People

The Guardian trolls the NFL:

Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer says his client still wants to play in the NFL, and believes he would fit in well at the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

On Friday, Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid settled a complaint of collusion against the NFL. Reid and Kaepernick claimed the league’s owners blackballed them because they had protested against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. The terms of the agreement are confidential.

Kaepernick has not played in the league since he left the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the 2016 season. In an interview with CNN on Saturday his lawyer, Mark Geragos, said the 31-year-old “absolutely wants to play” and said Kaepernick continues to stay in shape and is game fit.

Geragos said the Carolina Panthers would be a “natural place” for Kaepernick. They signed Reid last season, and their starting quarterback, Cam Newton, will have shoulder surgery this offseason. There was no significant backlash from Panthers fans when they signed Reid, who was a teammate of Kaepernick at the 49ers.

“I think you’re going to see … within the next two weeks that somebody is going to step up and do the right thing, and you want me to predict who?” Geragos said. “Besides the Panthers, it would not surprise me if [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft makes a move.”…

Not that I understand (American) football, either, but I seriously doubt Kaepernick will ever play on an NFL team again (assuming he actually wanted to do so, what with the CTE and the bodily trauma and all). NFL owners seem to have the power to punish lèse-majesté to a degree that Donald Trump can only covet, and Kaepernick’s offended their conception of ‘their’ players as dumb serfs to be treated the way they’d treat their prizewinning racehorses and pedigreed dogs, except it seems the ASPCA has more legal scope than the NFL Players Union.

But I think Jemele Hill’s take in the Atlantic is excellent — “Kaepernick Won. The NFL Lost”:

The terms of the settlement, announced on Friday, were not disclosed. But it doesn’t matter how much money Kaepernick ultimately receives from the NFL; what matters is that he bested a league that has a long history of pummeling its opposition in court, especially players.

In a way, the NFL had no other choice. Last August, arbitrator Stephen Burbank rejected the NFL’s request to have the case dismissed. That meant he believed Kaepernick’s team had compiled enough receipts to present their case. With another hearing reportedly scheduled for next month, did the NFL really want to let Kaepernick’s legal team expose those receipts in court?…

That Kaepernick was the one to make the NFL eat crow is a special kind of karma. This is just punishment because the league incompetently handled the player protests, starting with Kaepernick’s, from the beginning. Had the league not been so heavy-handed in policing the protests, this issue likely would have abated sooner. Had the league ignored Trump instead of cowering to his bullying, appeasing Trump wouldn’t have become a priority. Had one league owner had the guts to sign Kaepernick, this collusion case would have been a nonstarter…

Though this legal battle with Kaepernick has been resolved, he isn’t going away either. The league will forever have to live with the fact that it was complicit in destroying someone’s career simply because he wished to bring attention to the injustices suffered by his people. If owners and Roger Goodell believe that they no longer will have to face questions about why Kaepernick isn’t in the league, they’re wrong. No matter what an arbitrator rules, how the NFL treated Kaepernick will always be the mistake they can never amend.



Saturday Evening Mockery Open Thread: IS This Donald Trump?

I’m not 100% convinced… but if so, Adam’s right that the bulletproof vest really *does* add considerable girth to the Oval Office Squatter’s business attire!

(Also, for once the subject is standing like an adult male, not sticking out his rear like an elderly lady balancing her heavily corseted breasts.)

Not so unsure that I won’t enjoy a Saturday night snarkfest…


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Throwing Chaff At the Media Open Thread (Golf Simulator Edition)

Oh, look, McConnell says the Oval Office Occupant is gonna declare a NATIONAL EMERGENCY!!! — and just incidentally (h/t commentor DAW) some further information trickles out on the annual physical. Per USAToday:

President Donald Trump weighed in at 243 pounds during his physical last week, an increase of four pounds from last year that makes him technically obese, according to a report released Thursday by the White House….

The administration released the report in the midst of a busy news cycle, just minutes after officials announced that Trump would declare a “national emergency” at the border in a bid to obtain funding for a border wall.

Trump – who once described his exercise regimen as “I walk, I this, I that” – has long faced questions about his health. Last year, he was weighed at 239 pounds, giving the 6-foot-3 president a body mass index of 29.9, just under the level of 30 that is considered obese.

After the release of details from his latest physical, doctors on social media noted that Trump’s height and weight give him a BMI of 30.4, just over the line of obesity.

When even USAToday is publicly suspicious about the timing / truthfulness of the “President’s” (physical) fitness, well… maybe they’ve wired up the “executive time” TV walls so that that Dear Leader can’t access his favorite Fox News screamers unless he at least stands up and swings his club?

That system replaced an older, less sophisticated simulator that had been installed under President Barack Obama, according to two people with knowledge of the previous system.

Trump’s system cost about $50,000, and was put in during the last few weeks in a room in his personal quarters, a White House official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the president’s private residence, said that Trump had paid for the new system and the installation personally…

Suuure he did. Well, had his aides say he did. Or at least charged Treasury for it, and promised vaguely to pay it back ‘eventually’.
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Early Reviews Open Thread: Super Bowl Not A Fave

From what I read on Twitter, this game seems to have been a multifaceted disappointment to a great many people. Including the football-phobic Spousal Unit, who is thinking of taking Tuesday as a sick day, so he won’t have to drive into Cambridge in the company of a great many non-commuters hoping to watch the ceremonial duck boat parade for the ‘winners’…


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